Shore Leave

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Luke 5:11So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed Him. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Few have such a ready willingness to give up professions and possessions to follow Christ. But because He gave up so much for us, we should be willing to do the same.

My Advice – Do not become so attached to worldly possessions or positions that they become too costly for you to give up if God calls you to follow Him where you cannot take them.

Where’s Brother Waldo?

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Romans 12:18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – All too often, whenever a potentially divisive issue is discussed, either the truth is compromised in the name of love, or love is compromised in the name of truth, as if the two (love and truth) were mutually exclusive. They are not. The reason we know they are not is that Christians are called to speak the truth in love.

  • Truth – Being prepared to speak the truth is more than merely knowing what we believe. It also means that we are able to provide clear reasons for why we hold the beliefs and convictions that we do. If we cannot do this, the truth may not be compromised (the truth remains the truth), but our credibility can certainly be questioned.
  • Love – We should also be prepared to communicate the truth in a gentle and respectful manner whenever called to do so. While we would expect the same from those with opposing beliefs and convictions (especially if they too are Christians) this is not always the case. When this is not the case, it is not an excuse to throw love out the window. For even if we are equipped with the full knowledge of the truth and can eloquently and convincingly communicate it “in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, [we are] only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” We merely end up winning the argument while losing the heart. In essence, “[we] gain nothing.
  • Truth and Love – “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle [beliefs, convictions], you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” – Rick Warren
  • Conscience – We must remain faithful to both the truth (as the Holy Spirit instructs us in the truth) and love (as our Savior modeled for us). This is really the only way we can keep a clear conscience and maintain our credibility with others.

As we Christians watch our views become ever more unpopular in an increasingly polarized culture, the temptation to defend ourselves in vitriolic, even hateful, ways will grow. As we interact with others virtually or in our communities, we must remember our call to live like Jesus. We must not adopt secular rules of engagement regardless of whether culture is religious or irreligious.Ed Stetzer

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My Advice – Always do your best to take the high road.

 

Never Again

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NEVER TO BE FOUND, HEARD OR SHINE AGAINThen a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: “With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again. The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No workman of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again. The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. (Revelation 18:21-23a)

The casting of the millstone into the sea indicates the suddenness of God’s judgment on the empire of the Beast. Some Bible students see in this millstone the return of Christ, as pictured in Daniel 2:34–35, 44–45 (“the rock was cut out, but not by human hands…it will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will endure forever”).(1)

It also symbolizes the completeness of the judgement.(2) In Jeremiah 51:63–64, the prophet is commanded to hurl a stone into the Euphrates and declare that Babylon would likewise “sink to rise no more.” The stone referenced here is the kind of millstone that was turned by a beast to mill grain. It is so heavy that it could not be retrieved from the sea (Mark 9:42).

The eerie silence that follows in Babylon also means that the devastation is complete.(3) All her mighty works of industry, craftsmanship, political power, and artistic skill are brought to nothing (see also Jeremiah 25:9–11). She has played the harlot and worshiped the beast rather than devoting her skills and energies to God and to the Lamb.(4) Note the repeated “never again” statements in Revelation 18. When God declares no more, there is nothing man can do to change it.(5)

Up Next – Justification of Judgement.

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References

  1. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 849). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  2. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 18:21). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  3. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 18:21–22). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  4. Dockery, D. S., Butler, T. C., Church, C. L., Scott, L. L., Ellis Smith, M. A., White, J. E., & Holman Bible Publishers (Nashville, T. . (1992). Holman Bible Handbook (p. 802). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  5. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 849). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Beware of Opportune Times

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Luke 4:13When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Him until an opportune time. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – We can gain victory over temptation and the devil will leave us alone. But not for ever. He will look for us to let down our guard or come at us from a different angle. But just like before, we can beat back attack after attack.

My Advice – Don’t get too cocky when you resist temptation that you let down your guard. And don’t focus so exclusively on one temptation that you leave yourself vulnerable to another. Be vigilant. Expect Satan to attack when you gloat and when you are unguarded. The expected attack is the best attack to defend against.

Because of Him

Mark 13:13 – “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – There are a lot of reasons that people may hate us, but being hated because of our relationship to Christ is nothing to be ashamed of or to fear. Rather we should stand firm in the face of such opposition and not compromise to gain favor.

My Advice – Do not try too hard to gain the world’s favor. It is likely that you will be subjected to a certain degree of dislike or ridicule because you profess to know Christ. Do not be ashamed of this. Be proud of it.

More Out of Less

Mark 12:43 – “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – God’s economy measures things a lot differently than man’s economy. Man measures by the value of what is given over. God measures by the cost of what is given up.

My Advice – As you gain in success in your career, your financial resources as well as your talents are likely to increase. So too should your ability to give both to God. Always remember that God weighs your giving by your ability to give. To whom much is given, much is required. You’ve already been given much. Respond to God in gratitude.

 

A Bit of the Boy in the Heart of the Man

Mark 10:15 – “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – The faith of children is amazing. They have not yet allowed their faith to be polluted and diluted by the so-called ‘wisdom” of this world, which God calls foolishness.

My Advice – Never allow yourself to lose the childlike faith that you began your life in Christ with. Intellectual attacks against the simplicity of the Gospel are common and sometimes compelling (at least on the surface). But in the end it comes down to faith.