Forsaken First Love

Revelation 2:2, 4 – “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Our works need to be more than merely performance and duty. They need to be motivated by love and devotion.

My Advice – Do not let your service to God become perfunctory, something you do out of duty rather than love.

Grace Is Not License

Jude 4For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are Godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign Lord. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – They may not openly deny Christ. They may in fact claim to represent Christ. But if they pervert grace into permission to ignore God’s moral laws, they are in fact denying Jesus.

My Advice –  Be alert for doctrines and teachings that are contrary to or have a strained interpretation of the Scriptures. These can be more dangerous than the ones that openly and blatantly oppose the teachings of the Word.

No Greater Joy

3 John 4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – This should be the case with all children of God. Unfortunately, we all wander away from the truth from time to time, bringing grief to those who love us, especially God.

My Advice – You have given your mother and I great joy by walking in the truth of Christ. Continue to do so, avoiding the “detour signs” that Satan may put in your path.

Do Not Lose What You Worked For

2 John 8Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – This is not talking about salvation. We did not work for it we received it as a gift. Thus, we cannot lose it. But since salvation, we have been doing good works that are building rewards for us in Heaven. These we can lose.

My Advice – Live a life that builds rewards, not one that loses them.

Towards A New Birth of Freedom

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John 15:13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (NIV 1984)

Musings of Others – Today I’ve selected the musings of others to share as we commemorate Memorial Day 2019 and those brave soldiers who laid down their lives for their fellow country men and women.

  • Francis Scott Key – “Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave?”
  • Unknown – “Our flag does not fly [“yet wave”] because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.”
  • George Washington – “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.”
  • Abraham Lincoln – “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt – “Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.”
  • John F. Kennedy – “The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.”
  • Ronald W. Reagan – “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We did not pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

My Musings – Francis Scott Key might be surprised indeed that our flag still waves.  But he probably would not be surprised that it took the “last breath of [so many] soldier[s] who died protecting it” to keep it flying for so long.  As a nation, as individuals, we need to make sure that those soldiers who “gave [their] last full measure of devotion” did not “die in vain” and to not “forget in time that [these] men died to win” the freedoms we enjoy, that they continue to be “appreciated by their nation.”

It is sobering indeed to realize that “freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” something that Francis Scott Key probably realized when he penned those words.  So we need to continue to be vigilant that “these dead shall not have died in vain,” particularly given the fact that the “cost of freedom is always high.”  I would hate to think that following so close behind the “greatest generation” that I could be among the generation of that freedom’s extinction.

What is particularly sobering to me, is that today, what may be the greatest threat to this nation’s extinction, is not some foreign enemy, but ourselves.  As I see the bickering amongst our elected officials, the polarization of our citizens, and the animosity that seems to permeate the fabric of our nation, I fear that one other quote may become more prophetic than all of the others. For we have known all along that “a house divided against itself cannot stand:”

  • Nikita Khrushchev – “We do not have to invade the United States, [you will destroy yourselves] from within.”

My Advice – We need not “spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”  We need not choose the “path of surrender, or submission” or self-extinction.  How do we guard against it:

  • George Washington – “Be Americans. Let there be no sectionalism, no North, South, East or West [no Democrat or Republican, no liberal or conservative]. You are all dependent on one another and should be one in union. In one word, be a nation. Be Americans, and be true to yourselves.”

But more importantly be a nation “under God” that does “not perish from the earth” until Christ returns.  This is how we can best remember the “honored dead.”

2 Chronicles 7:14If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (NIV 1984)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ears of the Heart

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Proverbs 18:13, 15He who answers before listening— that is his folly and his shame.  The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out. (NIV 19840

“You’re short on ears and long on mouth.”― John Wayne

“I never miss a good chance to shut up” ― James Patterson, Along Came a Spider

“One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears – by listening to them.” – Dean Rusk

“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

“[R]emember we’re trying to understand their point of view, not necessarily agree with it or support it.  Understanding doesn’t equate with agreement.  Sensitivity does not equate to acquiescence.  [W]e’re merely trying to get at what others think in order to understand why they’re feeling the way they’re feeling and doing what they’re doing.” – Crucial Conversations, by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler. McGraw Hill, 2012.

My Musings – Listening involves more than the ears.  It involves the heart (sincerity).  Listening with the heart does not necessarily mean we will agree with what we hear, but it may help us understand (discern) why they hold the views that they do. Understanding may not lead to agreement, but it should lead to helping us craft a more heartfelt response and improve the odds that we will convince them of what we hold to be the truth.

My Advice – Start a crucial conversation by listening (before talking) with your heart (with sincerity).   Only then can your ears hear sufficiently well enough to equip your lips to speak with enough knowledge to persuade others to your point of view.  It is foolish and shameful to do otherwise.  In the process, you may learn that your point of view was just that and not the truth after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s For Your Own Good

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Deuteronomy 10:12, 13And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? (NIV 1978)

My Musings – “This is for your own good.”  Ever have someone say that to you?  Maybe your parent when you were growing up?  Ever wonder why?  Did you believe them at the time?

  • Ever Wonder Why? – Perhaps it was because we were too young and immature to know what was best for ourselves.  But if you were like me, you probably felt that you did know what was best, when in reality it was what we wanted, which wasn’t always what was best.
  • Did You Believe Them? – Probably not.  Because we have a tendency to think that we know what is best.  But we should have believed them, because if your parents were like mine, they always did want what was best for me.  And they were wise enough to know that often what I wanted was not what was best.  In the end, it was for my own good.

Back to the verse.  It might seem strange to be told to both fear God and love Him in the same sentence.  Yet, getting back to when we were young, those were two of the basic emotions we had for our parents.  We loved them, yet we feared them.  But this was a healthy fear, for we knew we had nothing to fear from them if we did right.

And how do we do right? Not simply by observing what we are told (doing what is right).  We’ve all done that too haven’t we?  “I’ll do it, but I won’t like it.”  What kind of obedience is that?  True obedience is going “all in.”

  • Walking – Not just walking in His ways, but “in all His ways.” We don’t pick and choose the ways that are convenient or that require little effort or sacrifice.
  • Serving – Not just serving God, but “with all your heart and with all your soul.”  For even if we were to walk “in all His ways” it means little if our heart and soul are not in it, or if they are only in it half-heartedly.

Now these admonitions were given specifically to Israel (His chosen people).  How do they apply to us today (His Church)?  Certainly not as a means of achieving salvation.  For we know that we could never live up to it.  But as a means of growing in Christ once having achieved salvation (“by grace through faith).”

As children, we did not grow up over night.  It took time.  And as we grew, something strange happened.  We found ourselves no longer having to do what our parents said, because we were all grown up.  But still doing the things that once upon a time they told us we should do (or not do).  Because we had grown, and now knew that is was for our own good after all.  And we did it.  Not out of fear, because our fear had grown into respect.

My Advice – Fear (respect), walk (all in), love (because He first loved us), serve (heart and soul, not reluctantly or under compulsion), and observe (because it is the right thing to do and it demonstrates all the other things).  Because it is, after all, “for your own good.