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?”

 

 

In His Son

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And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life”  (1 John 5:11–12, NIV 1984).

My Musings – This is an extremely simple, direct and efficient description of salvation.

  • Given – Salvation is not something earned or something we possess independently.  It is a gift from God.
  • In His Son – It is only available through believing and receiving Jesus Christ.  Don’t look for it anywhere else.  It’s not there.
  • He Who Has The Son – If you have Christ in you, you have eternal life.
  • He Who Does Not Have The Son – If you do not have Christ in you, you do not have eternal life.

My Advice – What must I do to have eternal life? Follow the instructions.  If you do, you will.  If you don’t, you won’t.  Simple. Direct. Efficient.

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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?”

A More Perfect Union

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“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”  (Hebrews 1:1–3, NIV 1984).

My Musings – The preamble to the U.S. Constitution includes the phrase “in order to form a more perfect union.”  If you google the phrase, you’ll find all kinds of reflections on what the founding fathers could have meant by “more perfect.” How does one improve on perfection?  But how else would you express an ideal (existing only in the imagination)?  It is something that is more than perfect, even though there is no such thing.

Sometimes, the words we have at our disposal are inadequate to convey what we are trying to express.  I think this might have been the case with the writer of Hebrews.  How to put into words the nature and character of Jesus Christ?  He is the exact (not deviating in truth or reality from God) representation (a likeness of God).  Two words that do not commonly go together.  Something is either exact (same) or a representation (like).  One or the other, not both.  But Christ, the God-Man, is the exactly the same as God in essence, yet a representation of God in person.

He was different from the prophets who preceded Him, in that they only represented God to man.  Jesus was God who became man.  An exact representative of God.  He is superior to those prophets, and even to angels, both of which are created beings, because He created all things.  Not only did He create all things, He sustains all things.  God’s glory shines through (radiates from) Him.

The Apostle John said it this way.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” (John 1:1–4, NIV 1984).  And Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.”  (John 10:29–30, NIV 1984). Talk about a “more perfect union!”

My Advice – Go for a “more perfect” future.  That’s why God sent His Son.

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Today’s musing was inspired by Deacon Josh Johnson’s sermon on January 5, 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.

Becoming Like Children

“I guess you were right, Linus. I shouldn’t have picked this little tree,” said Charlie Brown. “Everything I do turns into a disaster. I guess I don’t really know what Christmas is all about. Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”

“Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about,” said Linus.

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My Musings – That’s what Christmas is all about.  A childish belief to many.  Often hidden from the “wise” and “learned.”

He [Jesus] called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 18:2–3, NIV 1984).

My Advice – Choose to be “childish.”  Merry Christmas, and may God bless you one and all.

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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?”

O Come All Ye Faithful

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My Musings – Earlier this month, I compared Christmas with Easter.  Today, I compare the First Advent with the Second Advent, by expanding the symbolism of the Advent candles.

The Prophecy Candle (Hope) – “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:6–7, NIV 1984).

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.  On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11–18, NIV 1984).

The Bethlehem Candle (Faith) – “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.” (Micah 5:2, NIV 1984).

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ “ (Revelation 21:2–4, NIV 1984).

The Shepherd’s Candle (Joy) – “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:8–12, NIV 1984).

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: ‘Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.’  Then the angel said to me, ‘Write: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’  And he added, “These are the true words of God.‘ ”  (Revelation 19:9, NIV 1984).

The Angel’s Candle (Peace) – “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.‘ ” (Luke 2:13–14, NIV 1984).

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:  ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’  All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: ‘Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!‘ ” (Revelation 7:9–12, NIV 1984).

The Christ Candle (Purity) – “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’  So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.”  (Luke 2:15–16, NIV 1984).

Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”  “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”  (Revelation 22:12–16, NIV 1984).

My Advice – “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” (Revelation 22:17, NIV 1984). Won’t you come?

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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?”

 

Be Born In Us Today

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But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.” (Micah 5:2, NIV 1978)

My Musings – Why choose Abram, David, or Joseph and Mary?  Why not someone like Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar?  Why Israel and Bethlehem?  Why not Jerusalem or Rome?  People and places that are already famous or prominent tend to have “glory” all their own.  The star of Bethlehem might tend to shine on them instead of the one that it guided the Wise Men to.  After all, Herod had no intention of sharing his glory.

Bethlehem, a back water village.  A scarce six and one half miles from Jerusalem.  Welcoming a carpenter and his wife, travelers from another back water village nearly one hundred miles to the north.  People and places of little note that would usher in the most significant change in human history since the creation of the world.

O Little Town of Bethlehem

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above Thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by

Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

For Christ is born of Mary
And, gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love

O Holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born in us today.

Why do we still love songs like this today?  Because they are songs of hope.  Yes, as hopeless as things may seem, hope that was born in Bethlehem are still “met in thee” today.

My Advice – Let Christ “cast out [your] sin and enter in, be born in [Him] today.”  

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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?”