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.

Get Back To Where You Once Belonged

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My Musings – Elijah had just faced down 400 prophets of Baal.  Both a symbolic and a literal mountaintop experience.  Perhaps the zenith of his ministry.  An awesome display of God’s power and presence.  Yet here he was, on the far side of the desert, cowering in fear over the Queen’s threats to his life.

Sometimes, after an exhilarating mountaintop experience of boldness and ecstasy, we  find ourselves plunging deep into a valley of fear and despair.  But most of the time, when we find ourselves in a place that we should not be, it follows a period of  unguarded complacency.

Whatever the occasion, we need to listen to God’s voice saying “what are you doing here.”  It is a call to bring us to our senses and see the height from which we have fallen.  Like in the garden (Adam where are you?), He knows exactly where we are, what we are doing and how we got there.  But He want us to know it too.  Until we do, it would be fruitless to command us to go back the way we came.

My Advice – Watch the “road signs” to keep yourself on track.  If you do get off track, realize how you got there so you can know how to “go back the way you came.

I Got My Mind Set On You

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My Musings – A person’s mindset is the particular way they think, their attitude and opinions about how they view things. A person’s worldview is the overall perspective from which they see and interpret the world.

As follower’s of Christ, we should have our mind set on what the Spirit desires.  This is contrary to our mind set prior to knowing Christ, where we had on mind set on what our sinful nature desired.  A mind controlled by the Spirit of God will view things the way God does.

The mindset of sinful man can only lead to death, whereas the mindset of one born of the Spirit is not only life, but peace.  The implication being that the mind of sinful man has no lasting peace.

My Advice – Set your mind on things above.  View the world and your life through the lens of God’s Word.  This will renew your mind and transform your life, as the things we take into our mind filter down to our hearts.

“And this time I know it’s for real. The feelings that I feel. I know if I put my mind to it, I know that I really can do it. It’s gonna take time.  A whole lot of precious time.  It’s gonna take patience and time, um.  To do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it. To do it right, child.”  (I Got My Mind Set on You, lyrics by Rudy Clark, sung by George Harrison).

Sheep’s Clothing

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My Musings – In banking, tellers are taught the best way to spot a counterfeit – you study the genuine article.  By being familiar with the “real deal” you can more readily spot the fake.  This similar principle can be applied to identifying false teachers.  You look to what they are saying and doing, and you place it alongside what is truth – God’s Word.

Feed Only Themselves – We’ve all seen them, enriching themselves while the flock is starving for the truth.

Clouds Without Rain – They look and sound impressive, but in reality lack the substance of the truth.

Autumn Trees Without Fruit – You expect the fruit in the Autumn, and you would expect spiritual leaders to bear real fruit.  Yet the false ones pander to big crowds in this age of “consumer Christianity.”  Give them what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.

Wild Waves Foaming Up – Stirring the pot, when they should be building up the body in unity of the Spirit.

Wandering Stars – Abandoning the flock that they have been entrusted with, seeking greener pastures for themselves, while their sheep are left shepherd less.

For Whom Blackest Darkness Has Been Reserved Forever – Their just reward.

My Advice – Stay in the Word.  You’ll know who measures up and who does not.  Here are a few pointers.

1. Is the teaching from a well-known and trusted source?

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures.” (2 Timothy 3:14, 15)

2. Is the teaching consistent with what you have learned from the well-known and trusted sources?

“I urge you brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned.” (Romans 16:17)

3. Is the teaching clear from the texts or is the interpretation strained?

You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” (Matthew 23:24)

4. Is the teaching exclusive or nearly exclusive?

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.” (2 Peter 1:20)

5. Is the teaching necessary to support a questionable position or lifestyle?

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3)

6. Does the teaching direct society to follow God’s moral standards or does the teaching encourage others to follow the world’s social mores?

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)

7. Is the teaching’s emphasis on grace and freedom too permissive?

You my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature.” (Galatians 5:13)

8. Is the teaching’s emphasis on morality and obedience too repressive?

Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by the oath.’ You blind fools!” (Matthew 23:16, 17)

9. Does the teaching deny the power of God to enable His children to overcome sin and temptation?

And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)

10. Does the teaching follow Satan’s pattern of masquerading as an angel of light?

For such men are false apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.” (1 Corinthians11:13, 14)

11. Does the teaching follow Satan’s pattern of deceit by calling God’s Word into question?

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say….” (Genesis 3:1)

12. Does the teaching call right wrong and wrong right?

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:20)

Mark Twain is credited with saying that “in religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a farthing.” We must never be too lazy (or too naïve) to blindly accept every “wind of doctrine” that comes along. In the final analysis, even when the source of information seems trustworthy, like the Bereans, we must lay what is being said alongside the Word of God to see if it is true. However, in order to do this effectively we must be sufficiently familiar with the Bible to know how to use it. Possessing a tool is not much good if we do not know how to use (“rightly divide”) it properly.

 

Times and Exact Places

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My Musings – To what extent will God go to save us?  He gave His only Son, what more could we possibly expect?  Though the cost was high, He doesn’t force Himself on us.  He gives us freedom to choose for ourselves.  Yet, He wants that choice to be an informed choice.  So much so, that “He determined the times set for them and the exact places they should live.”  Why? “So that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him.”  And that’s not all.  He stays close.  By our own efforts He is beyond our reach.  So He stays close to us and reaches out to us.  But we still have to “reach our for Him.

There is a parable called the prodigal son.  It is more aptly called the prodigal’s father.  For “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”  (Luke 15:20, NIV 1984).  That’s our father.  He’s waiting and watching while we are “a long way off,” “though He is not far from each of us.

My Advice – Don’t question why you are where you are and the time that you are.  There is a reason.  You are in the most likely time and place for you personally to find Him.  Seek Him. Reach out for Him. He is not far off, even though you may be.

The Word – Special Delivery

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My Musings – Years ago, the Christian worldview, based upon the Word of God, was nearly universally accepted as the absolute truth in the Western world.  This worldview has eroded over the years to the point that truth is largely considered to be relative to the person or circumstances.  Pontius Pilate once asked Jesus “What is truth.”  Nowadays, many (most) would answer question with “it depends.”  But Jesus said then, and would still say today, “I am the truth,” or “my words are truth.”  Jesus is able to say that because He is the Word that was with God in the beginning.

In revelation God unveils truth; by interpretation man understands that truth.  The link that connects God proclaiming (revelation) and man perceiving (interpretation) is the inspiration of Holy Scriptures.  The inspired Word of God.

Revelation – The divine or supernatural disclosure to humans of things (the facts of Divine communication) that were previously secret or unknown.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17, NIV 1978)

Inspiration – A divine influence or action (the means of Divine communication) on a person to enable him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation.

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20, 21, NIV 1978)

Interpretation – The apprehension and understanding (the process of Divine communication) of God’s revelation to man.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15, NIV 1978)

My Advice – The first two parts (revelation and inspiration) have been done for you.  Do your best to apprehend and understand what God is saying through His Word. through His Son.

 

Freely Given, Spiritually Discerned

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My Musings – We should not be surprised that the world in general finds Christianity foolish.  What seems so obvious to followers of Christ is often lost on those who do not.  The understanding that Christians have is not due to a superior (or as some might claim inferior) intellect.  It is discernment enabled by the Spirit of God that dwells within.  We must remember that we were in the same situation as the unsaved at one time.  Unable to comprehend what God freely offered.  And we never would have understood, much less accepted it if He had not pursued us.  People are not badgered, argued or driven into the Kingdom by us. We can only communicate (plant, water and cultivate) the Truth to the lost as best we can.   Then we must let the Holy Spirit do His special work of convicting and convincing (harvesting).

My Advice – Show compassion with a passion.   After all the “Passion of the Christ” was for everyone who believes and receives.