Sent Into The World

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I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.  My prayer is not for them alone.  My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.  I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.”  (John 17:9, 15–18, 20, NIV 1984).

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33, NIV 1984).

My Musings – It is a human trait that we often say things with equal passion and deep conviction that are contradictory.  A first impression of the two passages above, quotes from the lips and heart of Jesus, that they are also contradictory.  We might dismiss this as merely a manifestation of His fully human nature but not a reflection of His fully divine nature (perhaps we’ll discuss this apparent contradiction in a future musing).  But we would be missing the point altogether.

In the first instance, Jesus speaks about protecting us from (insulated in) the evil one, while not praying that we be taken from (isolated from) the world.  He is, in fact, intentionally sending us out into (included within) the world while not being part of (integrated into) the world.  In sending us out as “aliens” into the world, He us sending out into hostile territory.  There we will encounter natural dangers (curses of a fallen world) and be confronted by supernatural dangers (curses from a fallen angel).

Jesus does not pray that we be protected from natural dangers.  Some He will prevent and some He will permit, according to His divine will. But not without eternal purposes.  But He does pray for protection from supernatural dangers though a new divine nature (“if anyone is in Christ He is a new creation” – 2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV 1984) and indwelling by the Holy Spirit (“I will not leave you orphans” – John 14:18).  This does not mean we will never give in or bow down to supernatural confrontations (temptation, persecution), but it does mean that we do not have to give in (“for the grace of God teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live upright and Godly lives in this present age” – Titus 2:12, NIV 1984).

My Advice – Just say no (by the grace of God).

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.


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?”



Mind Control

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My Musings – No matter how “good” we were before we accepted Christ, there were certain things about that life that we need to leave behind.  A walk that we used to walk that we must rid ourselves of.  To do that we must set our mind on things “above,” on what the Spirit desires, not on what our sin nature desired in our past.  If we do not allow the Spirit to control our minds we will not be able to live an abundant Christian life, and our lives will lack peace.

It is interesting to note that the sin nature spills over into shameful outward acts, while the “Son” nature overflows with admirable inner qualities.  The former is characterized by the things we do, the latter is characterized by who we are.  The former may satisfy for a season, but the latter will last into the next life.

My Advice – The victorious Christian life is not about balancing the sin nature against the Son nature.  It is not enough that the scales tip more on the side of the Son.  We cannot continue to serve our sinful nature and expect to bear abundant fruit.  We cannot serve two masters.  Let’s make sure we are clinging to the Son by allowing the Spirit to control our minds and our hearts.


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My Musings – The Holy Spirit is perhaps the least understood and the most unappreciated person of the Trinity. But He is just as much part of the Godhead as is the Father and the Son. He is a personal being, not some impersonal force or vague presence. To believers, He plays an indispensable role. So much so, that even Jesus said it was to our benefit that He (Jesus) should depart, so that the Holy Spirit could come. This is because the Holy Spirit does so much for us. Among other things, He seals us, indwells us, empowers us, teaches us, guides us, controls us, gifts us, intercedes for us and produces fruit in our lives. Yet all too often we ignore Him, grieve Him, quench Him, take Him granted, dismiss Him or limit His influence in our lives. We allow ourselves to be deceived by “every wind of teaching” and whipsawed by the “cunning, craftiness” and “deceitful scheming” of man instead listening to the gentle whispers of the Spirit who can guide us into all truth.

The Holy Spirit is the great enabler in our lives. Things that are not possible for us to do in our own power He is able to do in and through us. He is at work within us to change our mindset so that our attitude conforms more and more to that of Christ Jesus (be “attitude’). He is at work within us to cause our worldly desires to submit to heavenly ones and to aspire to what God desires (loving mercy, acting justly and walking humbly). He is at work within in us to transform us to such an extent that there is a change in our lifestyle, as our “sin” nature increasingly loses its hold on us (or rather our hold on it) and we conform more and more to the “son” nature. In effect, we grow as disciples.

The question we must ask ourselves if we are not growing in these things is: what are we being filled with? It is difficult to rid ourselves of sinful habits without the help of the Holy Spirit. It is even harder to remain that way without His help. It is said that nature abhors a vacuum. Human nature abhors it even more. Once we rid ourselves of sinful habits we must replace them or they will be sucked right back in. It is like a glass filled with murky water from a filthy polluted spigot. If you merely remove the dirty water from the glass it does not automatically become clean unless you replace the source of what is filling it. So you place it under a spigot with a clean fresh water source and begin filling the glass. Eventually, the filthy polluted water is displaced (there is no vacuum) by the fresh water leaving a clean glass full of sparkling clear water. So it is with our spiritual life. Our old sin nature is like the dirty polluted water in the glass, clouding our outlook on life and how we behave. When we surrender our lives to Christ, the Holy Spirit comes along and begins to fill us and displaces the dirty water with fresh clean water. This affects our attitudes, our desires and our actions. But we must also be careful to turn off the source of the dirty polluted water. Otherwise, the clean water will never fully displace the dirty water and a cloudy residue will always remain.

Paul said it this way, “do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2, NIV 1978). As we are transformed by the Holy Spirit death and discontent are replaced by life and peace.

We need to understand that the Holy Spirit is not a genie in a bottle or magic lamp that we keep on a shelf until we call upon Him to grant our secret desires or greatest wishes at our command. He is our Helper, but His purpose is not to feed our greed, stroke our ego or carry us to some figurative lush oasis of physical comfort and ease or health and wealth. Not that all of these are intrinsically bad, but they are things that can easily appeal to our sin nature and our worldly desires. They may satisfy us in the short-term, but eventually they will lead to discontent as we worry and fret over the “things” we do not have as we require more and more of them to satisfy our insatiable desires. In the end death awaits and all these things are meaningless – a chasing after the wind. We must break the cycle of neglect, regret and fret. The cycle begins when we neglect the present condition of our walk in the Spirit. In time, we come to regret the things we chased after and the choices we made in the past. This leads us to fret about the future – the blessings we will miss and/or the consequences we may face.

The Holy Spirit has a much higher calling for us than this. He is in our lives to give us a life that is not meaningless, a life that is at peace. But we must break the neglect, regret and fret cycle by replacing it with another cycle. We must change our mindset so that it is set on the Holy Spirit. This inevitably leads to a change in our desires as our sinful desires are replaced with Godly desires. This in turn leads to a change in our lifestyle as we leave our sinful habits, surrender control of our lives to the Holy Spirit and learn to walk by the Spirit. We no longer neglect, regret or fret.

There are several ways the Holy Spirit helps us:

He seals us

lives within us

empowers and teaches us

guides, comforts, and encourages us

controls, gifts and intercedes for us

These are things that cannot be spent and then they are gone. They cannot be taken away from us by anyone or any power. They fulfill our needs, not our wants. And in the end, we find that what we needed was really what we wanted all along. The “things” that we chase after in this life, the things that could never ultimately satisfy us, we find are worthless after all. While the things that the Holy Spirit provides are priceless.

He Seals Us – He authenticates (testifies) that we are children of God. A mark of authority as an heir. He acts as a “security deposit” that guarantees the permanence of our relationship to Christ and as a surety of our future inheritance. His presence in our lives indicates ownership, bought with the blood of Christ, evidence of a completed transaction. “Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.” (Ephesians 1:13, 14, NIV 1978).

He Indwells Us – He lives within us to guide us spiritually and to help us to act in obedience to the word. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, NIV 1978).

He Empowers Us – He gives us spiritual and moral strengths and abilities that were not inherent in our old sin nature. He is now an inherent power that automatically resides in us by virtue of our new nature that results from our personal relationship with Christ. “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being.” (Ephesians 3:16, NIV 1978).

He Teaches Us – He instills within us an ability to understand spiritual truths and doctrine that prior to salvation might have escaped us. He also causes us to recall to mind the things we have been taught when needed. “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26, NIV 1978).

He Guides Us – He leads us to the right path, the true path. He does not lead us astray. He is that still small voice from within that prompts us to do what is right, discourages us from doing what is wrong and convicts us when we go astray. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.” ( John 16:13, NIV 1978).

He Controls Us – As believers, with the Holy Spirit living within us, we have the capacity to put down our sin nature and do what the Father desires. We can allow our thoughts, words and deeds to be controlled by the Spirit. This is not involuntary servitude; it is an enabling by the Spirit to do the things that we really desire to do, but that in the flesh we are not capable of doing by ourselves. “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” (Romans 8:9, NIV 1978).

He Gifts Us – He gives each believer at least one spiritual gift to be used for the common good. The gift(s) we receive are just as the Spirit determines. We should focus on and use the gifts we are given and not covet the gifts that others may have. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. He gives them to each one, just as He determines.” (1 Corinthians 12:4, 11, NIV 1978).

He Intercedes For Us – He more than represents us before a Holy God. He mediates, petitions and intervenes on our behalf. He is able to do this because, not only does He know our mind and our heart, He knows the mind and heart of God. He knows and understands what we are unable to express or convey, but He also knows the “protocol” for communicating to the great “I AM.” “We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, for the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (Romans 8:26, 27, NIV 1978).

My Advice – We cannot keep in step with the Spirit when we are walking in the ways (immorality, impurity, idolatry, selfish ambition, envy, etc.) of the world. This is how we used to walk. This is the way we used to live, before we surrendered our lives to Christ. Our sinful nature with its worldly passions and desires were crucified with Christ. Now we must rid ourselves of these things. We must walk to the beat of a different drummer. We do this by filling (setting) our hearts with things from above, not on the things of this earth.

Paul instructs us in Romans 12:2 not to “conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” which is just another way of saying “set your minds on things above.” In Philippians 4:8 Paul tells us how to do just that: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (NIV 1978).

We need not do this alone. Indeed, we cannot do it alone. But the Holy Spirit, who lives in us, will help us. God has told us just that “I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws.” (Ezekiel 36:27, NIV 1978). And before we know it, this will begin to bear fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control) in our lives. Whose drumbeat are you marching to? Keep in step with the Spirit.


Adding To Your Faith

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My Musings – Yesterday’s musings, referencing the Apostle Paul, stood for the doctrine that salvation was by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.  Any effort (on our part) to add to this would be futile.  In today’s text, the Apostle Peter is saying that we should make every effort (work) to add to our faith the listed qualities.  That these efforts (on our part) would be effective and productive.

Surely this is a huge contradiction between these two giants of Christianity?  Not at all.  Paul was speaking about what results in salvation (grace).  Peter was speaking about what results from salvation (good works/qualities).  Grace is the cause of salvation, good works/qualities are the effect of salvation.  Salvation is an event, developing these qualities is a process (in increasing measure).  One can have good works/qualities without being saved, but no one can be saved without developing good works/qualities.  There is no effort of our own that can gain us salvation.  But once we have gained it, we should make every effort to add to it. And yet, here’s the deal.  Even though you are putting effort into it to grow your faith, it is the work of the Holy Spirit transforming you into Christ-likeness that gives the increase.

My Advice – You cannot grow it, if you don’t got it.  Get it today.  It’s free.  By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

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).

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.