Our Needs, His Riches

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You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”  (John 15:16, NIV 1984).

“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  (Matthew 6:25, 32–34, NIV 1984).

[For] my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:19, NIV 1984).

Every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.”  (Psalm 50:10, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Followers of Christ are chosen and appointed by Him.  So we need not worry about the things that the rest of the world worries about.  He knows our needs, and whatever we need for our appointed tasks will be provided.  So we need not seek after these things.  Rather we should seek after the things of God and God will take care of adding the other things as well.  According to His riches.  This should tell you why we need not worry.  His riches (“cattle on a thousand hills“) are abundant.

My Advice – So let’s not get greedy by asking God to meet our wants instead of our needs.  Let’s make sure that “whatever [we] ask in [His] name” are needs not wants.

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

 

Receipt Required

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For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” (John 3:16a, NIV 1984).

Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”   (Hebrews 9:22, NIV 1984).

He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.”  (Isaiah 53:5, 10, NIV 1984).

Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” (Hebrews 7:24–25, 27 NIV 1984).

Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16b, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Focus on these two words – “so loved.”  Two definitions of so are:

  • To such a great extent – That He would sacrifice His only Son to save us.
  • And for this reason – He sent His Son into the world.

So, such a small word, such a large meaning.

Christ had to come into the word, to become flesh, because  “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”  Only a blood sacrifice will do.  But not just any blood.  The blood of God.

Pierced for our transgressions,” not His.  He was without sin.  He was God in the flesh, who became sin on our behalf.  God willingly crushed Him and caused Him to suffer, exacting the price required to exonerate us and bring us peace with God.

But death could not keep Him in the grave.  God is greater our sin and greater than the death sin brought with it.  He rose from the dead to live forever.  He had already been in existence forever, for He had no beginning.  From Creator, to Savior to High Priest.  A priest is a mediatory agent.  And Jesus is “unlike the other high priests.”  He does not need to keep returning to the Father with sacrifice after sacrifice.  When “He offered Himself,” no other sacrifice was required.  Because so (there’s that word again) “worthy was the Lamb that was slain” that the penalty for all of mankind’s sin past, present and future was paid for.

My Advice – For all of mankind means that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  Do you believe?  Your sins have been paid for, but you have to show the “receipt.”

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

This We Proclaim

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In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. ”  (Genesis 1:1-2, NIV 1984).

He [Jesus] was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”  (John 1:2-3, NIV 1984).

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15–17, NIV 1984).

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” (John 1:14, 10–11, NIV 1984).

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim.” (1 John 1:1, NIV 1984).

My Musings – In the beginning, before any had come into being, God was already there.   He had always been there, because He had no beginning.  In the beginning, before any had come into being, Jesus was already there.  He had always been there, because He was before all things.  He was before all things because He is God (John 1:1).  In the beginning, the Spirit was already there, hovering over the things created.

They created all things. Without them, nothing that was made.  There was no uncaused cosmic big bang from which time, space and matter inexpicably came into existence.  There was no mysterious or coincidental mingling of all the right enzymes, proteins, etc. in the primordial ooze from which the spark of life began.  There was no process of natural selection by which the first spark of life evolved into man.  “The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”  (Genesis 2:7, NIV 1984).

In them, all have hold together.  They came into being by them and are sustained by them.  Without their sustaining power, what came to be, would cease be.  And without their regenerating power, the curse of the fall would doom all creation.  That is why Jesus became flesh to dwell among us.  Yet the world did not recognize or receive their Creator and put Him to death.

My Advice – Is good news!  “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”  (John 1:12–13, NIV 1984).  This we proclaim.  It is yours for the receiving.  Be “born of God.”  He created you.  He can create you anew.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV 1984).  To be “in Christ” is to be “born of God,” to be born again, to become a “new creation.”  Otherwise, “dust you are and to dust you will return,”  (Genesis 3:19, NIV 1984), “just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”  (Hebrews 9:27, NIV 1984).  Do not face that judgment without being “a new creation.

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

 

 

Who Then Is Like Me?

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Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed— I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?”   (Isaiah 43:10–13, NIV 1984).

I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come— yes, let him foretell what will come. Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”  (Isaiah 44:6–8, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Eternal.  First and last, Alpha and Omega.  No god before or after.  Ancient of days, with no beginning or end.  God is from eternity past and future.  Who was (always), is (IAM) and evermore shall be.

Omnipotent.  No one can either stop or reverse His actions.  No can is greater or could be greater.

Immutable.  He does not change, nor could He.  Solid as a rock.  But like no rock we could possibly conceive of.

Pre-eminent. Surpassing all others. None beside Him, no not one.  No one before, after (eternal), more powerful or ever could be (omnipotent).  This will never change (immutable).

My Advice – Worship Him, for “these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him!”  (Job 26:14, NIV 1984).  Yes, all of the above are merely faint whispers of how great thou art!

 

Train For War No More

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They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”  (Micah 4:3, NIV 1984).

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.  (Dwight D. Eisenhower, President, Commander-in-Chief, and Supreme Allied Commander (Western Europe) in WWII).

My Musings – Unfortunately, even nations that have no design on empire building continue to train for war, because there are other nations that train for war.  Nations are unable to beat swords into plowshares, because there are other nations that continue to forge swords.  Guns continue to be made, warships launched and rockets fired, consuming the sweat of laborers, the genius of scientists and the hopes of children.  Many that are hungry go unfed and the many that are cold are not clothed.

Left to our own devices, this will continue and get worse with “wars and rumors or war,” until the true war to end all wars is upon us.  Then Christ will return and there will be “peace on earth goodwill to man.

My Advice – Until that time, until Armageddon, one person at a time, “if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  (Romans 12:18, NIV 1984).

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

 

These Are The Words I Would Say

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Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:18–20, NIV 1978).

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8, NIV 1984).

My Musings – If you knew what you were saying to a loved one would be the last time you would say anything to them at all, what would you say?  You can bet they would not be idle words.  They would most likely be very important words.  To you, and to the person receiving them.  The sad thing is, we go through life not speaking to one another as often as we should.  Leaving unsaid the things that we should be saying, and saying things we later regret and cannot take back.  And when it comes to last words, they are usually not what we would have intended to say if we knew they were our last.

Jesus knew.  And while all of His words are important, the above words are the last ones He knew He would speak to the ones He chose to carry on His mission – it was His Great Commission.  His prime directive to His Disciples.  Words that were carefully chosen and of great importance.

A commission can include the following elements. A task or matter entrusted to one as an agent for another, including the authority to act for, in behalf of, or in place of another, and granting the power to perform various acts or duties.

A task or matter entrusted – “go and make disciples.”  This includes the following sequence: becoming a disciple, being a disciple, making disciples.  Disciples making disciples (a person who follows another in regard to his or her ideas or belief).  We do not make others our disciples.  We make them disciples of the one we follow – Jesus Christ.

As an agent for another – “you will be my witnesses.”   A commission is a co-mission.  Co, a prefix meaning jointly, common or together with another; and mission meaning an important assignment.   We are not alone in our mission.

Including the authority to act – “all authority in heaven and on earth.” The right to act in a specified way, delegated from one person to another.  Let’s not miss something very important here.  All authority (in heaven and on earth) has been granted to Christ, and he is conferring that on us to act on His behalf.  But authority is pointless if it is not exercised.

And granting the power to perform – “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.”  One can be given an assignment, along with the authority to act, but without the power to perform, it is merely words.  We have the power of the Holy Spirit.

We have the assignment, we have the authority and we have the power.  What we don’t have is an excuse.

My Advise – What is the most important thing you could tell your friends or family. Don’t wait until the last.

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Today’s musing was inspired by Lead Teaching Pastor Kevin Rutledge’s sermon on January 12, 2020. Check it out at https://www.fbcsycamore.com/sermons. If you live in or are visiting the area, come and join us Sundays at 10:30 a.m. We’d love to be partners in the Gospel with you.

What He Said Was Important

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Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28–30, NIV 1984).

My Musings – How does one move from “weary and burdened” to “easy and light?”  By being “gentle and humble.”  By being imitators of Christ.  In Jesus’ day, the Jews were looking for a political or militant solution to their years of bondage.  Their early excitement over Jesus (“could this be the Messiah“) gave way to disillusionment and hostility, as gentleness and humility did not quite meet their expectations of a deliverer.   They preferred ruthless and pompous.

They failed to understand just what kind of bondage the Messiah came to deliver us from.  They were seeking “peace in our time.”  Christ came to offer peace for all time.  They were seeking deliverance “at all costs.”  Jesus offered peace that demanded the greatest cost.  They were seeking liberty in the land.  Jesus was offering liberation of the heart.  They wanted vengeance.  Jesus offered forgiveness.  They wanted unconditional surrender.  Jesus offered unmerited grace.  They wanted independence.  Jesus offered relationship.  They wanted a manifesto.  Jesus offered their names written in the Lamb’s book of life.   They wanted rebellion, Jesus required surrender.

My Advice – So what have we learned in 2000 years?  Will we as the Church advance the Kingdom of God through pollical activism or by proclamation of the Gospel?  Through force or faith?  Harshness or gentleness?  Arrogance or humility?  By becoming 21st century Pharisees or by modeling ourselves after 1st century believers?  By engaging in crusades or by taking up our cross?  Let’s learn from Him.  “You have heard it said, but I say to you …”  Our country’s and the world’s problems will not be solved from the outside in, only from the inside out.  It’s the heart not the head.  It’s the eternal, not the temporal.  It’s the narrow path, not the broad path.  It’s the Great Commission, not the great omission.  The time is short.  The harvest is great.  The workers are few.  Let’s get on with it.

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”