Got Spiritual Milk?

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My Musings – Got Milk? This question is asked in what is arguably one of the most memorable advertising campaigns in history. While most consumers readily recognize the health benefits of drinking milk, it usually is not their beverage of choice. Instead they prefer soft drinks, bottled water, coffee, sports drinks or something else reputed to have a bit more “gusto.” That is, of course, unless it is combined with cookies, cake, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or the morning bowl of cereal. It’s at times such as these that people realize that

the time that they crave milk the most is when they don’t have any.

You know what I’m talking about. That sinking feeling as you pour your cereal into the bowl, slice the banana, and discover that the carton in the fridge is nearly empty (who would do that anyway?). It is something that we likely all identify with, which is what made the “Got Milk?” campaign so memorable. Remember? That peanut butter stuck to the roof of the mouth and no milk to wash it down with.

Peter, a disciple of Christ’s, recognized this same thing in his own disciples when he wrote “like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (2 Peter 2:2, NIV 1984). After Pentecost, many had put their faith in Christ (had been “born again’) but were not growing in their walk with Christ. Perhaps, like the milk drinkers above, they recognized the spiritual benefits of growing in their relationship with Christ, but for whatever reason they were not craving it.

You see, being “born again” is an event that happens at a point of time. Spiritual growth and maturity, on the other hand, is a process that takes place over time. Like any newborn, the process starts with the “milk” that will nourish and nurture us. We need this as a sure foundation before we can move on to solid food and develop into faithful disciples that consistently walk in His steps.

The word “growing,” is what is known as a present perfect progressive tense verb. It indicates an action that began in the past (accepting Christ), continues in the present (our everyday walk with Christ) and will continue in the future (in increasing measure). Our walk with Christ begins with uncertain and tentative baby steps on a smooth and level surface. As our walk progresses, we can take bigger and bigger steps as we begin to navigate steeper and rougher terrain with increased confidence and assurance. As we mature and move on to “solid food,” our craving for pure spiritual milk increases. “Anyone who lives [solely] on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves.” (Hebrews 5:13-14, NIV 1984).

So, what are some of these “teachings about righteousness,” the “solid foods” that train and mature us? Here are just a few:

D – Desiring what God desires.
I – Is Christ-like in attitude.
S – Spirit-led lifestyle.
C – Choosing the role of a servant.
I – Illuminated by the Word.
P – Praying on all occasions.
L – Learning spiritual wisdom.
E – Engaged with the bride (the Church).
S – Suffering with Christ.
H – Holding out against sin.
I – Involvement in evangelism.
P – Proven by love.

In future blogs, we will take a brief look at each one of these.

My Advice – In the meantime, have you “tasted that the Lord is good?” Have you been “born” into God’s family by accepting Christ as your personal Savior? If not, read my blogs under “The Born Again Experience” that can show you how. Maybe you are “born again” but are still on a milk only diet? Maybe you are ready to move on to more solid food? Check out my blogs under “Got Spiritual Milk?” to help you grow and mature in your Christian faith. “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive.” (2 Peter 1:8, NIV 1984).

Keep In Mind

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My Musings – Jesus passes the love that the Father has for Him on to us.  In the same way, we must pass this love on to our brothers and sisters in Christ.  In this way the world will know that we are His disciples.  If, in seeing this the world hates us, it is because the world hates Christ (and by extension, the Father as well).  Why? Because although “light has come into the world, men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light.”  (John 3:19-21,NIV 1984).  As followers of Christ, we are to reflect the light.  So if they hate the light, they will hate us to.

My Advice – Walk in the light as He is in the light.  We can bear the hate of the world as long as we have the love of the Father.  Evenso, keep proclaiming the truth.  In so doing, some may ultimately come into the light.

 

Nor Could The Scroll Contain The Whole

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My Musings – If the cross is not enough to convince you of God’s love, and it should be, these verses should blow you away.  Friends may abandon you when you times are difficult and you are in need (trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword – the list is not exhaustive).  But God won’t.

It’s not that these things won’t happen. They will.  But, He loved us before, He will love us “in,” and He will love us through them.  For “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Sounds pretty all-inclusive to me!  No room for, “but what about this.”  There is no “this” that the above does not cover.  The only “fine print” is “anything else in all creation.”  That leaves only the Godhead (not in creation) as a possible exception.  But even “if we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13, NIV 1984).

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Even that screams the incomprehensibility of God’s love for His children.  Not just conquerors (one who is victorious), more than conquerors.  How can one be more than a conqueror?  They cannot.  It merely underscores the fact that no love can be more than the love God has for us. Love does indeed conquer all, if it’s the love of God.

“Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made; were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade;  To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry; nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.” (The Love of God ~ Frederick M. Lehman 1917).

My Advice – Don’t pass up this love.  No better deal will come around.  Now is the day of salvation.

 

 

 

In My Time

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My Musings – Coming soon, to a location near you.  We’ve been blessed in the United States.  Up until a generation or so ago, the rule of law and Judeo-Christian values were rarely in conflict, with the glaring and shameful exception of slavery.  The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  A veritable two-way street; no imposition of a state religion and no impediment to the free exercise of a citizen’s religion of choice.

That may soon be coming to an end.  The cracks have been visible for quite some time now, and they are rapidly growing deeper and wider.  And if permitted to mix my metaphors, the handwriting is on the wall and our days may be numbered. On that day, and it may be soon, we may be joining our Christian brothers and sisters in certain third-world, communist and Muslim countries where the free exercise of our faith, or at least certain aspects of it, become illegal.  Even to the point of confiscation of property, imprisonment, or even death.  This should not surprise us. Jesus said we would be hated because of Him (Matthew 10:22).  But, “we must obey God rather than men!

My Advice – “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.  “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”   (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring).  All we have to decide is,  do we “obey God rather than men?” “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15, NIV 1984).  Who’s with me?

 

Spiritual Investments

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My Musings – Such is Paul’s description of two of his disciples. People he had invested his life in.  In his early ministry, Barnabas had risked his reputation and took this former persecutor of the Church under his wing and ministered with him.  Paul, in turn, invested in the lives of others.  When He could not go, he sent these two.  They had been mentored, now it was their turn to “pay it forward.”  And it’s been going on just like this for nearly 2,000 years.

In the above passage, Paul described the product of discipleship (genuine, proven, service, fellowship, commitment).  In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul described the process of discipleship.  “You then, [Timothy] my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”  (2 Timothy 2:2, NIV 1984).

But we should never think that it is only a one-way street.  Near the end of his ministry Paul summoned another of his disciples.  One who stumbled early on and for a time was cast away by Paul.  “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:11, NIV 1984). One who Paul once considered not helpful at all was now considered helpful.  Once considered a bad investment, now an investment paying dividends.  Investing in others and letting others invest in us.  Iron sharpening iron.

My Advice – Grow in Christ by letting others help you and helping others do the same.  It’s proven pattern.

Today’s musing was inspired by Pastor Nate Miller’s sermon on October 13, 2019. 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 too.

Water We Talking About?

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My Musings – Separation of light from dark (last Sunday’s blog), is something we can observe and thus is easier to understand than today’s blog, the separation of waters above form the water’s below.  But never underestimate the ability of God to reconcile science to His Word.  It just takes time for the wisdom of man (current scientific theories) to catch up to a right understanding of the Word.  He’s got all the time in the world.

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Let There Be An Expanse – The Hebrew is alternatively translated “expanse, firmament, vault.” It is that element that divides heavenly [atmospheric] waters from terrestrial [liquid] waters. The ancients believed the sky was a dome that separated the [terrestrial] heavens above the sky from the earth below. The view that the sky was a solid dome was common in the ancient Near Eastern cosmology shared by the biblical writers. There are, in fact, two “domes” encircling the earth.

The first “dome,” the ozone layer, is one of the layers of the stratosphere (the second layer of the Earth’s atmosphere), which is a mass of protective gases clinging to our planet. Both oxygen and ultraviolet light was required to form the ozone layer. Since there are no other planets with oxygen in our solar system, this makes an ozone layer unique to Earth. Before the existence of the ozone layer, life was restricted to shallow water [the fifth day]. This is because water shielded harmful radiation. When ozone started protecting Earth from deadly UV rays, life could finally diversify on land [the sixth day]. The ozone layer has a primary function of absorbing ultraviolet sunlight. The absorption of ultraviolet rays has many effects, such as atmospheric temperature regulation and protection of biological entities.

The second “dome,” called the Van Allen belts, are a pair of dynamic regions of trapped radiation, separated by a void and held in place by the Earth’s magnetic field. They protect the planet from the radiation of space and the effects of solar weather. Without Earth’s magnetic field, these cosmic storms and high energy particles would strip away our atmosphere, destroying our cellular structure and evaporating our oceans in the process. “Luckily” for us, we have our magnetic shield (the magnetosphere) to protect us from most of these harmful particles. When the charged particles come into contact with the magnetosphere, they don’t disappear; they are merely deflected around the planet, forming what we call the Van Allen belts.

To Separate The Water Under From The Water Above – On the first day, God separated light from dark. On day two, God began to form the earth by means of a second act of separation – the waters above from the waters below. An expanse—the atmosphere—was placed in the midst of the waters, thus separating the clouds above from the condensed water below. The separation of the water made a distinction between the waters that are now wrapped up in the clouds and those that cover the sea, the waters in the air and those in the earth. This suggests that previously there had been a dense moisture enshrouding the earth, but not covering the earth.

It is theorized that Hydrogen was the first atom to form after the Big Bang, followed by Helium and a small amount of Lithium. These basic atoms often fused together to make heavier atoms (like oxygen). When hydrogen atoms came in contact with oxygen atoms, water formed in thick layers of ice on rocky objects (comets, asteroids or meteoroids) that were swirling around the cosmos. Assuming water did not exist on Earth or any other planet at the birth of the solar system, it has been speculated that the water must have “flown in” from the outer reaches of the solar system, riding on comets, asteroids or meteoroids.

Though scientists have scoffed at the idea of water above the firmament, there is vast amounts of water “stored” in outer space. Recently, astronomers discovered the largest (140 trillion times all the water in the earth’s oceans) and farthest (12 billion light years away) reservoir of water ever detected in the universe in a distant quasar. There is also water vapor in the Milky Way, although the total amount is 4,000 less than in the quasar.

God Called The Expanse Sky – Though the Hebrew word can mean “heaven,” it refers in this context to “the sky.” The atmosphere is an important part of what makes Earth livable. It blocks some of the Sun’s dangerous rays from reaching Earth. It traps heat, making Earth a comfortable temperature. And the oxygen within our atmosphere is essential for life. It is the only known planet with these conditions.

My Advice – Never bet against the inerrancy of God’s Word.  It is simply amazing that the account in Genesis was simple enough to be grasped by early man, and complex enough to confound even modern man best theorizing.

 

  1. All Scripture references, unless otherwise indicated are from the New International Version, 1984.
  2. http://www.geologypage.com/2013/10/hadean-eon.html
  3. https://www.britannica.com/science/Hadean-Eon
  4. Hamilton, V. P. (1995). Genesis. In Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (Vol. 3, p. 11). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
  5. Major Contributors and Editors. (2016). Firmament. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
  6. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/ozone-layer/
  7. https://earthhow.com/ozone-layer/
  8. https://www.reference.com/science/ozone-layer-5f3afce70d7830e3
  9. http://lightyears.blogs.cnn.com/2013/03/09/studying-earths-protective-radiation-belts/
  10. https://futurism.com/recent-news-on-earths-van-allen-radiation-belt.
  11. Smith, J. E. (1993). The Pentateuch (2nd ed., p. 53). Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co.
  12. Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 4). Peabody: Hendrickson.
  13. Ross, A. P. (1985). Genesis. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 29). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  14. https://www.scienceabc.com/nature/earth-get-water-origin-history-carbonaceous-chondrite-asteroid-big-bang.html
  15. https://www.nasa.gov/topics/universe/features/universe20110722.html
  16. Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Ge 1:8). Biblical Studies Press.
  17. https://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Atmosphere/overview.html

I Got My Mind Set On You

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My Musings – A person’s mindset is the particular way they think, their attitude and opinions about how they view things. A person’s worldview is the overall perspective from which they see and interpret the world.

As follower’s of Christ, we should have our mind set on what the Spirit desires.  This is contrary to our mind set prior to knowing Christ, where we had on mind set on what our sinful nature desired.  A mind controlled by the Spirit of God will view things the way God does.

The mindset of sinful man can only lead to death, whereas the mindset of one born of the Spirit is not only life, but peace.  The implication being that the mind of sinful man has no lasting peace.

My Advice – Set your mind on things above.  View the world and your life through the lens of God’s Word.  This will renew your mind and transform your life, as the things we take into our mind filter down to our hearts.

“And this time I know it’s for real. The feelings that I feel. I know if I put my mind to it, I know that I really can do it. It’s gonna take time.  A whole lot of precious time.  It’s gonna take patience and time, um.  To do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it. To do it right, child.”  (I Got My Mind Set on You, lyrics by Rudy Clark, sung by George Harrison).