My Musings – The first few words of Genesis say the “In the beginning God…” If I might interject, “in the beginning God“ was already there to create “the heavens and the earth.” The unmoved mover, the uncreated transcendent being – the Alpha. In the first few verses of Revelation God goes on to state that He is also the Omega. When these heavens and earth come to an end and are made new He is still there. He had no beginning and will have no end. “Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come.” In other words “I AM.“
In Exodus, Moses asked who he should say sent him, and God told Him to say “I AM.” When Jesus came the first time and was put on trial before Pilate, He was asked if He was a King. Jesus replied, “I AM.” Finally, in the closing verses of Revelation, Jesus states “I AM coming soon.” He promised He would.
My Advice – Is He coming for you (to take you home with Him) or is He coming to you (to send you away from Him)? Right now, to can make that decision for yourself. When He comes (no man knows when) it will be too late. You may never have the opportunity again.
My Musings – “We who have lived long under the Shadow may surely listen to echoes from a land untroubled by it?” (From “The Return of the King,” J. R. R. Tolkien). The shadow we live under grows longer and the darkness and distress spreads. For “immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’” (Matthew 24:29, NIV 1984). But once again, “the people living in darkness [will see] a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light [will] dawn.” (Matthew 4:16, NIV 1984). “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:27, NIV 1984).
Afterwards the “distress of those days” will be no more than “echoes from a land untroubled by it.” For “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.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:3-5, NIV 1984).
My Advice – Just try to imagine it. The “great glory.” What John saw was so unimaginable, that the best way he could describe it was what was not there. The things (tears, death, mourning, crying, pain) that we will be “untroubled by.” For “the old order of things has passed away.” Yes, in this world we will have trouble that we have to live under. But take heart, He has overcome the world!
My Musings – “It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass.” (Sam Gamgee, The Two Towers, by J. R. R. Tolkien).
All the great stories are full of darkness and danger. Good pitted against evil. Suspense over which would prevail, as they were equally balanced against each other so that the outcome balanced on the edge of a razor. Good did not always triumph. Evil was never fully vanquished – only for a season before it took shape once again.
What about our great story? In these “last days” as the darkness grows, “how could our end be happy?” “How [can] the world go back the to the way it was, when so much bad [is yet to come]?” It cannot. But that does not mean evil wins. Evil has been doomed from the beginning. Even though very powerful, it “will be [overthrown] by the breath of His [Jesus’] mouth and [destroyed] by the splendor of His coming.” “In the end, it’s only a passing thing. Even darkness must pass.” Because light always extinguishes darkness, chasing away even shadows. Darkness cannot dispel light. With all the power this “tower” of darkness has, it does not have that power.
My Advice – There stands two towers. You must swear allegiance to one or the other. No choice is a choice for the tower of the prince of this world. As we’ve seen, his time is short. In the end, he is the one who loses. That end has never been in doubt. Wouldn’t you rather stand with the tower in God’s Kingdom? Choose Christ and His Kingdom of Righteousness. It’s coming. He’s coming. Can’t you hear the trumpet sounding? Can’t you hear the shout of the Arch Angel? Look to His coming, look to the east for “The Return of the King.” It won’t be much longer now. It is sooner now than when we first believed. “Amen, come Lord Jesus!“
My Musing – “The world has changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost. For [few] now live who remember it. Some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth.” (Galadriel, The Fellowship of the Ring. J. R. R. Tolkien).
It exploded in the first century in the face of great persecution. Later, persecution gave way to proclamation as Christianity was became the official religion of the Roman Empire. There have been times of retreat (the dark ages) and resurgence (the great awakening), but the “gates of hell” have never fully prevailed.
Yet in my lifetime, “the world has changed.” I feel it and smell it. History, is now largely regarded as myth. The age of “reason” has relegated Christianity to no more than a crutch to the superstitious. Even those within the Church are abandoning the faith and “sound doctrine” in favor of whatever their “itching ears” want to hear. Things that should never have been forgotten have been lost. The “breaking of the fellowship” is well underway. The “Return of the King” is near. Yet much evil is yet to come. Which also reminds me of these quotes from “The Fellowship of the Ring.”
Frodo – “I wish none of this had happened.”
Gandalf – “So do all who live to see such times but that is not for them to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.”
My Advice – What will you decide “to do with the time that is given to you?” Be a beacon of light in an increasingly dark world? Be a herald of truth in an age of deception and lies? Be the salt that gives flavor to what is becoming more and more unsavory? Be faithful to the end? We’ve been given a commission to be the “ring-bearer” of the greatest story ever told. Will you be part of the “fellowship?”
Stay-tuned for tomorrow’s blog – “The Two Powers.”
My Musings – Wow! Talk about being intolerant, insensitive, and lacking political correctness. Paul goes on to say, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?” (Galatians 3:1-5). In other words, it is grace alone through faith in Christ alone. Any variation from this is a perversion of the Gospel. It is, in fact, no gospel at all. This message was not an invention of Paul. Jesus Himself said that He was the only way. Other “gospels” and religions may seem attractive, “shiny” and have a form of Godliness, but in the end lead to eternal death. “Not all that glitters is gold.”
But why would Paul, or any other Christian be so harsh. Notice that Paul is not expressing these sentiments to people who hear and reject the Gospel of Christ. For them he has pity and sorrow. But to those who try to lead others astray, he has no such feelings. It is one thing to be responsible for our own poor choices and decisions that affect only our soul, it is quite another to lead other souls astray. Paul allows no quarter for them.
My Advice – I know this post will not be popular with a great many. They might even make the same claims against Christianity. But if Paul was right, if Jesus was right, the stakes are high. If they were wrong, there are no stakes at all. Those are the only two possibilities – they were either right or they were wrong. You owe it to yourself to investigate the claims for yourself and make your own judgment. In the end, the decision is yours. But let it be an informed decision.
My Musings – Testimony is a solemn declaration by a witness, a firsthand authentication of a fact. It is not information received from other people that cannot be adequately substantiated. That would be hearsay, which in a court of law, would be disallowed. John spent three years being taught (discipled) by Jesus. He was with Jesus 24/7 for those three years, which certainly put him in a position to see if Jesus’ talk was Jesus’ walk. He was at the foot of the cross when Jesus died and was able to see the Roman soldiers certify that He was in fact dead. On more than one occasion he saw and spoke to Jesus after His resurrection from the dead. In every respect, this is firsthand authentication of the facts. His testimony was corroborated by other witnesses. He was imprisoned because of his adherence to his testimony. Other witnesses were executed. John likely lived out his days under the same threat of death. None of these recanted.
In light of all this, John testimony proclaiming that “he who has the Son has life, he who does not have the Son does not have life,” is more than credible. It removes any reasonable doubt.
My Advice – Testimony demands a verdict. Deliberate carefully. It is an eternal life and death matter.
My Musings – Like most “sound bites” from the Scriptures it is important that this verse be read in context so we do not read into “do everything,” what was not intended. Paul has just finished saying that he has learned the secret of being content whatever the circumstances (and boy has he been through plenty of circumstances), whether in need or in plenty. What Paul is actually saying is that he has strength to face all these things, through Christ who provides the strength. Elsewhere, Paul recounts being told by Christ that His grace is sufficient.
My Advice – This is not just a Paul thing. God’s grace is sufficient for all of us no matter what the circumstances. The problem is, we frequently do not draw the strength from Him, preferring to tackle things on our own. Draw from His strength. The “well” never runs dry.