The Sanctioned Position

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My Musings – The “sanctioned position” is “to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”  But only for those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ.  For those who have not, getting old is indeed better than the alternative.

My Advice – If you have not put your faith in Christ you can.  It is open to all who will believe and receive.  But “now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation,” for we never know if we will ever have another opportunity.  For we certainly do not want to be absent from the body without Jesus present in our heart.

If you have put your faith in Christ, do not get too comfortable being “at home in the body.”  For the things of this world can distract us, causing us to drift “away from the Lord.” We do not want Him to be displeased with our walk. Rather “we should make it our goal to please Him.

 

The Third Strand

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My Musings – Throughout the passage it speaks of two.  Two are better than one.  This can include marriages, business partners, or friendships. Regretfully, marriages do fail, partnerships can be dissolved and trust between friends is often broken.  But note, the passage ends with three.  Marriages, partnerships and friendships are not easily broken when God is the third strand.

My Advice – Whatever or wherever you venture, make sure that you include God.

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.

Breaking The Bonds Of Fellowship

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My Musings – Let there be no mistake about this.  The Day is rapidly approaching.  “When you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” (Matthew 24:33-34, NIV 1984).  Read Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, and pay attention to current events.  Are we not at least beginning to see “all these things” happen?

And yet, are we not also seeing an increase in forsaking the meeting together?  The habit of some is becoming the habit of more and more?  It has always been important that we not give up meeting together, but the urgency today is more so, because the day is approaching.   And yet the congregations in many places are dwindling.  Maybe their “itching ears” are not hearing what they want to hear?  Perhaps they are following another gospel that  “is no gospel at all?”  It could be that other priorities have displaced their “first love?”  How many have simply decided to “abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons?

God said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5, NIV 1984).  So why are so many forsaking Him?  Because Jesus said they would (Matthew 24:10).

My Advice – “A day may come when we forsake our [Lord] and break all bonds of fellowship! [Let it] not [be] this day!  By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand!”  My paraphrase of Aragorn’s speech before the black gate in “The Return of the King.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carried On To Completion

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My Musings – “I thank my God every time I remember you.”  Really?  Well, family  certainly.  Friends, possibly.  Partners in the Gospel?  Well, maybe not every time.  But you see they don’t always share equally in the partnership.

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.”  With joy?  All, all, always?  Well maybe not all my  prayers.  Maybe not all of them.  Maybe not always with joy.  But you, know, some times they disappoint me.

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.”  Confident?  But you don’t know them like I do.  They’ve wandered.  They’re inconsistent. They’re far from complete.

Always Thankful – We have the family, friends and partners in the Gospel that God put in our lives.  And He put us in theirs.  If we are not thanking God every time we remember them, maybe it is us who are not sharing equally?

Always Pray With Joy – In all our prayers, if we don’t pray for them with joy, maybe we aren’t as thankful as we should be.  If we were, wouldn’t we always be joyful when we prayed for them?

Confident of Completion – If God did begin the good work, He will bring it to completion.  If we lack confidence in this we are focusing too much on the wandering and inconsistency and not enough on the “author and perfecter of our faith.

My Advice – Always thank God when you remember the people in your life.  They are a gift to you and you are a gift to them.  Pray with joy in all your prayers for all the people in your life.  They may not always make you happy.  Don’t let those periodic lapses and disappointments rob you of your joy because of them.  Place your confidence in God. That He will complete what He started in their lives.  Don’t let their temporary detours cause you to lose confidence in their ultimate destination.  Be encouraged.

Read the text again.  Wouldn’t you like to have people in your life that are like Paul?  Then why not “do unto others what you would have them do unto you?”  What would our family, friends and Gospel partnership relationships be like if we did?  Talk about thankfulness. Talk about joyfulness.  Talk about confidence.  All wrapped up in a passion for Christlikeness.

Today’s musing was inspired by Pastor Kevin Rutledge’s sermon “Fueled Relationships” on September 8, 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.

 

 

My 85 Year Old Mom Is A Cheerleader

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My Musings – The above quote from Jesus follows immediately after Peter’s great confession to Jesus’ inquiry ““who do you say I am?”  Peter replied, “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16, NIV 1984).  Most of the focus on this verse is on what Jesus meant by “this rock.”  Did he mean Peter?  Was He referring to Himself?  Or is the rock Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah?  Learned theologians cannot agree on this, so I am sure I cannot shed any light on it.  But what I want to focus on in today’s musing is “My Church.”

“My Church.”  There is no mistaking whose Church it is.  But today, many within the Church  want to wrest control from Jesus and make it (keep it) their Church.  They want the worship style to be this way or that.  The time of the service must start no earlier (or later) than this time or that time.  The preacher must not speak any longer than… Well, you get the picture.

Now today, the Church is under increasing criticism, if not downright persecution.  With the increasing influence of secular humanism, relative morality, and it’s “my” view or no view in our schools, in the media and society in general, we (the Church) are in danger of losing the “next generation.”  While there are many things worth “fighting” for in the Church, the above mentioned “non-negotiables” (style, time, length) don’t make the list.

If the Church loses the next generation, where will the Church be?  God will always have His remnant, but how big will that remnant be?  Are we really so vested in the way it’s always been done that we risk that loss?  Are we so insistent that it be “my” Church to such an extent that we have no one to pass it on to?  Now I am not saying we water-down the Gospel to Christianity lite.  There are certain things that are non-negotiable, and we know what those are.

My 85 year old mom understood this.  “Her” Church (the one I grew up in and accepted Christ) was in decline.  It was literally dying off.  Either the lampstand’s light would go out or it needed new oil.  That’s why they voted to become a “satellite” Church of a much larger congregation in a larger town.  And this brought a lot of changes.  Most of which involved those sacred items (style, time and length).  The unadulterated proclamation of the Gospel was not one of the changes.  And in the final analysis, that is what really matters – that the Truth continues to be proclaimed.

While my mom has her own ideas and preferences of what she would like worship services to be, she understood.  She embraced the changes and became one of the leading “cheerleaders” for the Church she knew was not hers, but His.  Her name is not Gladys (its Roberta), and she cannot jam on the electric guitar, but she knows “a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24).

My Advice – Always remember, and never forget, it’s His Church.  He wants to build it, not see us tear it down over things that really do not matter.

Here are a couple snapshots of my 85 years young mom:  on her knees on the floor  showing me how to fix her vacuum and snow blowing her sidewalks (plans to give that up this year).

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The Fellowship of the King (of kings)

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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.”