And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (Matthew 27:50–51, NIV 1984).
My Musings – “He gave up His Spirit.” A willing sacrifice. His Spirit was not taken from Him, He released it. “At that moment.” The very moment that the ultimate sacrifice was made (“it is finished“). “The curtain of the temple was torn in two.” Access to God was made available through Christ’s death on the cross. “From top to bottom.” This is not an insignificant detail. It was rent from the top, by the “hand” of God.
My Advice – We have access. It was given to us as a free gift from God. Why wouldn’t we enter in? If we were waiting for God to make the first move to end the separation (even though we caused the separation), He already made it. Big time. The time is now. Huge cost. The price is right – it’s free.
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13–15, NIV 1984).
My Musings – This was the text that inspired today’s devotional from Our Daily Bread Ministries. It kind of resonated with me due to some news I received this week. But first, a little background. I turn 65 in a couple months, which is the traditional retirement age in the United States (at least for those who can afford to do so). And so it goes, that many of my friends, family and acquaintances have been asking me when I plan on retiring. I have been blessed with a career that I still enjoy. Since I have not yet determined what I would do with my time when I do retire, my response has been, “I plan on working until I am 70 (mandatory retirement age for the position I hold), as long as our health permits (mine and my wife’s).”
On Monday I was told that I have prostate cancer. It was caught early, it is not an aggressive form and the prognosis is very good — so I am blessed indeed. It occurred to me that my standard response to retirement, specifically “as long as our health permits,” while true, is really not the most appropriate qualifier. It should be “if it is the Lord’s will.“
My Advice – None of us know what tomorrow holds. Any plans we make for this life are short-sighted at best. Our primary concern should not be things like how we will spend retirement? Our primary concern should be how will we spend eternity? It’s not about how much we have in our retirement fund. It’s about whether we’ve placed our trust in Jesus Christ. If you have not already done so, you need to make those arrangements now, before the mist of this life vanishes.
“Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (John 16:24, NIV 1984).
My Musings – We generally tend to focus on the phrase “ask and you will receive,” and grow disenchanted when we do not receive what we ask for. James, in his epistle, states that “when [we] ask, [we] do not receive, because [we] ask with wrong motives [our own pleasures].” (James 4:3, NIV 1984). If, as John states above, we truly ask in Jesus’ name, our motives will be pure. I say truly, because merely tacking this phrase at the end of a prayer, without really focusing on what His will might be, is merely lip service.
My Advice – Purify your motives in prayer, before attaching Christ’s name to it.
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?”
My Musings – We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – Preamble to the Declaration of Independence.
God gave us life and liberty (freedom to make our own choices). The pursuit of happiness is a bit more problematic. Man has a tendency to find (or think he can find) happiness in all the wrong places and with all the wrong things. More often than not, these rob us of the very thing we are pursuing. We would be better off pursuing joy (which is not dependent upon things or circumstances) rather than happiness (which usually is dependent upon things or circumstances).
Better yet, as the above verse states, we should pursue righteousness and love, which results in life, prosperity and honor. We need to remember, however, that an abundant life is more about quality than quantity, lasting prosperity has little to do with an abundance of “things” (which moths and rust can destroy) and honor has more to do with our character than it does with how much fame an adulation we can achieve. And how ironic it is, that when we get it backwards (we pursue long life, prosperity in things and honor absent humility), righteousness and love (and happiness) often eludes us.
My Advice – Let’s make sure what we pursue is not only worth the chase, but is also worth catching.
Hebrews 13:5, 6 – Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (NIV 1978)
My Musings – We have because God has given it to us. We do not have, because God has not given it to us. Either way we can and should be content. Because God will never leave us or forsake us.
My Advice – Work hard to achieve and attain, but do not let it consume you. Be content with however God blesses you, whether with much or little.
1 Timothy 6:10 – For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (NIV 1978)
My Musing – Money is not the root of evil. There are many wealthy believers and servants of Christ, who have learned to control their lust and greed for more wealth. Rather it is not being able to control this (the love of money) that is the root of all evil.
My Advice – Make sure you keep money and the accumulation of wealth in the proper perspective. Uncontrolled it can destroy careers, relationships and lives. Good stewards, on the other hand, are generally blessed with more wealth because they possess and control it, rather than being possessed and controlled by it.
Proverbs 23:4 – Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. (NIV 1984)
My Musings – We often wear ourselves out accumulating things to own, only to find out that they own us.
My Advice – There is nothing wrong with wanting to get ahead, as long as it does not consume us. It is foolish to pursue wealth to such an extent that we do not have time to enjoy it, enjoy our friends and enjoy our life.