Out Of Poverty

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Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.  Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”  (Mark 12:41–44, NIV 1984).

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  (Isaiah 55:10–11, NIV 1984).

May the words of my [musings] and the meditation of my heart [that went into them] be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.  (Psalm 19:14, NIV 1984).

My Musings – I started my musings on August 12, 2017.  Yesterday total “hits/views,” went over 20,000.  During this time, I have written nearly 1000 (995) musings, with hits/views from 83 different countries.  These statistics are modest when compared to those of many of the blog sites I read or follow.  Yet, I am thankful for those who take the time to “stop by.”

Since the beginning of my musings, I have attempted to “speak the truth in love” and “spread everywhere the fragrance 0f the knowledge of Him.” I have tried to avoid political issues, unless they affected Biblical values (not 100% successful, I suppose).

I suppose that my “offerings” through my musings are not much more than “two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny,”  (although the Scriptures I share are priceless).  My musings do not come from a mind of Spiritual “wealth,” but “I try to “put in everything—all [I have] to [feed] on,” with a hope they “will accomplish what [He] desires and achieve the purpose for which [He sends] it.”  Above all that they “be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

My Advice – Dig deeper and further into my blogs.  “Receive [my musings] with [some] eagerness [but] examine the Scriptures every day to see if what [I blog is] true.” (Acts 17:11, NIV 1984).  God’s blessings to you.  To the extent you find my musings a blessing, I am grateful and humbled.

 

 

For the Glory of God

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May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”  (Galatians 6:14, NIV 1984).

Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” (2 Corinthians 10:17–18, NIV 1984).

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  (1 Corinthians 10:31, NIV 1984).

 My Musings – To boast is to speak or act with excessive pride and self-satisfaction about one’s achievements (what we have done with our time), possessions (treasures), or abilities (talent).   When in reality, our abilities are God-given, our possessions are what God has shared with us, and our achievements are what God has permitted us to accomplish.  We can commend ourselves all we want before man, but it will count for nothing when we stand before God.  But if whatever we do with our time, talent and treasure is done for the glory of God, then we will be commended when we stand before Him.

My Advice – Do your best to receive this commendation from the Lord, “well done, good and faithful servant! Come and share your master’s happiness!”  (Matthew 25:23, NIV 1984).  How well are you doing?  If He is not your master, if you have not been born again, you will only ever hear “I never knew you; depart from me.”  (Matthew 7:23, ESV 2016).  Of course, this need not be.

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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?”

 

 

By Whose Great Strength?

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No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love.”  (Psalm 33:16–18, NIV 1984).

My Musings – No great kingdoms of the past have survived to this day retaining their former splendor, power and influence.  My country has “In God We Trust” on its coin and currency.  Having come into its own as the current great “kingdom” after World War II, unrivaled in military power and economic strength, its seems that our trust is more on these things than it is in God.  As the text above so clearly states, it is vain to place our hope in these things.  He raised us up, and He can bring us down.

My Advice – This applies on a personal level too.  Make sure your hope and trust is in the Lord God Almighty.  Anything else is illusory.  “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the LORD Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6, NIV 1984).

What He Said Was Important

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Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28–30, NIV 1984).

My Musings – How does one move from “weary and burdened” to “easy and light?”  By being “gentle and humble.”  By being imitators of Christ.  In Jesus’ day, the Jews were looking for a political or militant solution to their years of bondage.  Their early excitement over Jesus (“could this be the Messiah“) gave way to disillusionment and hostility, as gentleness and humility did not quite meet their expectations of a deliverer.   They preferred ruthless and pompous.

They failed to understand just what kind of bondage the Messiah came to deliver us from.  They were seeking “peace in our time.”  Christ came to offer peace for all time.  They were seeking deliverance “at all costs.”  Jesus offered peace that demanded the greatest cost.  They were seeking liberty in the land.  Jesus was offering liberation of the heart.  They wanted vengeance.  Jesus offered forgiveness.  They wanted unconditional surrender.  Jesus offered unmerited grace.  They wanted independence.  Jesus offered relationship.  They wanted a manifesto.  Jesus offered their names written in the Lamb’s book of life.   They wanted rebellion, Jesus required surrender.

My Advice – So what have we learned in 2000 years?  Will we as the Church advance the Kingdom of God through pollical activism or by proclamation of the Gospel?  Through force or faith?  Harshness or gentleness?  Arrogance or humility?  By becoming 21st century Pharisees or by modeling ourselves after 1st century believers?  By engaging in crusades or by taking up our cross?  Let’s learn from Him.  “You have heard it said, but I say to you …”  Our country’s and the world’s problems will not be solved from the outside in, only from the inside out.  It’s the heart not the head.  It’s the eternal, not the temporal.  It’s the narrow path, not the broad path.  It’s the Great Commission, not the great omission.  The time is short.  The harvest is great.  The workers are few.  Let’s get on with it.

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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?”

Striking Out On Humility

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My Musings – In my humble opinion…just kidding.  But actually, I’m not sure I can blog about humility without violating the whole concept. At any rate, I guess I’ll risk it.

In the dictionary I consulted, the first two definitions of “right” fit the above quotes nicely:

Humility (What Is Right) –  Morally good, justified, or acceptable.

Pride (Who Is Right) – True or correct as a fact.

In today’s sermon, I copied down this quote from my Pastor.  “Christianity is not about getting everything right, it’s about a change of heart that causes us to desire [have a passion] for what is right.”  Of course, we will never get everything right (we still have a sin nature), but we can have a desire for what is right (we also have a “Son” nature).

If we focus too much on being right, we plant the seed of pride – a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements.  If we shift the focus to what is right we cultivate a harvest of humility – freedom from pride or arrogance.

Another danger, perhaps even more dangerous than pride, is false humility.  This can manifest itself in a couple ways. One is to act humble in order to call attention to how “right” we are.  “A man is never so proud as when striking an attitude of humility” – C. S. Lewis.  Another less subtle way is self-deprecation.  This is self-humiliation, not self-humility.  “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” – C. S. Lewis.

One final quote form today’s sermon.  “Our pride blinds us to all but ourselves.  Our humility allows us to see others.”

My Advice – When I looked for the definition of righteousness, there was only one definition – the quality of being morally right or justifiable.  Let’s seek quality (always seeking what is morally right) over quantity (always having to be factually right).  Do not “strike an attitude of humility,” imitate the (Jesus’) attitude of humility.  This should be our passion.  This should be our purpose.

Today’s musing was inspired by Pastor Kevin Rutledge’s sermon “Fueled Worship” on September 29, 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.

 

Worthy Conduct

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My Musings – How does one go about living a life worthy of the Gospel when we are so unworthy?  The secret is contained in the last part of the first chapter of Philippians and the first part of the second chapter.  Living a worthy life is all about humble conduct. Attitude drives conduct and humility drives exaltation.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5, NIV 1984).

Jesus has the very nature of God.  And we are united with Christ.

He took the nature of a servant.  So we look to the interests of others.

He humbly obeyed His Father. So, in humility we consider others better than ourselves.

God exalted Jesus to the highest place. And made us shine like stars.

So what does it look like?  Encouragement from being united with Christ. Comfort from his love.  Fellowship with the Spirit. Tenderness and compassion. Complete joy from being like-minded. Being one in spirit and purpose. Doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.

My Advice – Do you want to live a life worthy of the Gospel of Christ?  Be like-minded in attitude.  Do you want to share in His exaltation?  Humble yourself under His mighty hand and He will lift you up.  Do this “without complaining or arguing.”  You’ll have plenty of opportunities to do both. “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.” (Philippians 1:29, NIV 1984).  But this is the price we pay to become “blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which [we] shine like stars in the universe as [we] hold out the word of life.” (Philippians 2:15–16, NIV 1984).  That, my friends, is living a life worthy of the Gospel.

Today’s musing was inspired by Pastor Nate Miller’s sermon “Fueled Living – Focus & Unity” on September 22, 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.

 

 

 

A Change of Clothes

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My Musings – A wise former pastor of mine (now with the Lord) once said, “when you read the word therefore, you need to see what it’s there for.”  Paul had just recounted the life we used to walk (anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language, to name a few), “since [we] have taken off [our] old self with its practices and have put on the new self.”  That’s what it’s there for.  A change of clothes.  From the “filthy rags” mentioned above, to the renewed wardrobe that is “in the image of its Creator” woven out of “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

My Advice – We are chosen and dearly loved.  “Therefore,” “over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”  That’s what we’re here for.