Why Not Rather Be Wronged?

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Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.”  (2 Timothy 4:11, NIV 1984).

My Musings – What makes this passage so significant is what transpired in Acts 15.

Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.  (Acts 15:36-40, NIV 1984).

The Mark in 2 Timothy and “John, also called Mark,” in Acts 15, are generally considered by Bible scholars to be the same person.  While the disagreement surrounding Mark appears to have been quite contentious (“sharp“), and resulted in them parting company, they were eventually reconciled.  So much so that Paul wound up considering Mark to be “helpful to me in my ministry.

There will be times, when well-meaning Christians will see things differently.  It is sad when it results in broken relationships.  To amicably work through the dispute with your brother or sister in Christ is better by far.  If not, reconciliation is sweet.

My Advice – We have been called to a higher standard than those without Christ.  When you have a dispute with another believer, do you best to work it out.  Unfortunately, there will be times that being at peace with one another will not depend on you (Romans 12:18).  In such cases, “why not rather be wronged?” (1 Corinthians 6:7, NIV 1984).  Let the Holy Spirit do His work, leaving the door open for reconciliation at a later time, rather than escalating the dispute or insisting upon being right.  “Blessed are the peacemakers.

 

Train For War No More

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They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”  (Micah 4:3, NIV 1984).

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.  (Dwight D. Eisenhower, President, Commander-in-Chief, and Supreme Allied Commander (Western Europe) in WWII).

My Musings – Unfortunately, even nations that have no design on empire building continue to train for war, because there are other nations that train for war.  Nations are unable to beat swords into plowshares, because there are other nations that continue to forge swords.  Guns continue to be made, warships launched and rockets fired, consuming the sweat of laborers, the genius of scientists and the hopes of children.  Many that are hungry go unfed and the many that are cold are not clothed.

Left to our own devices, this will continue and get worse with “wars and rumors or war,” until the true war to end all wars is upon us.  Then Christ will return and there will be “peace on earth goodwill to man.

My Advice – Until that time, until Armageddon, one person at a time, “if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  (Romans 12:18, NIV 1984).

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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?”

 

Then Pealed The Bells More Loud And Deep!

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My Musings – “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is another of my favorite Christmas carols.  It is based on the poem “Christmas Bells” by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, written during the civil war and inspired by personal tragedy.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep,
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Till, ringing singing, on it’s way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Songwriters: Traditional
© ST. NICHOLAS MUSIC INC. , Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
For non-commercial use only.

Peace on earth and goodwill to men are rare commodities these days.  As Christ foretold centuries ago, we live in an age of “wars and rumors of wars.” And our country is more divided than it has been since the civil war.  We need to be reminded of the words of Abraham Lincoln (that he borrowed from Christ – Luke 11:17). “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.”  For hate indeed “is strong and mocks the song.”  If we are not careful, we can fall into the cynicism penned early in the poem by Longfellow.

As we celebrate the season of Christ’s birth, may the bells peal “more loud and deep, God is not dead nor doth He sleep.”  The world, in general, may not believe this, but not believing the truth does not make it false.

My Advice – Enjoy peace on earth.  For Jesus said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  You heard me say, I am going away and I am coming back to you.”  (John 14:27–28, NIV 1978).  He’s not dead.  He’s not asleep.  And He won’t be gone much longer. He’s coming again.  Not as a baby this time.  Not as Savior, but as judge and King.  Then “the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with [lasting] peace on earth, [and genuine] good will to men.”

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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?”

Peace On Earth, Peace In Our Hearts

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My Musings – We cannot fully fathom the angelic proclamation of “Peace on earth, goodwill to man,” until we have experienced the peace that transcends all understanding. That peace with God that comes from accepting Christ as our personal Savior. A relationship made possible because of Jesus’ death on the cross. He was born for this death.

My Advice – Give His peace a chance.

I’m Not Alone

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My Musings – Although our troubles are temporary, while we are in them, we all have a tendency to be consumed by them.  We fix our eyes on them.  We can hardly focus on anything else.  Yet because we are in Christ, if we fix our eyes on Him, things can be different.  Hard pressed but not crushed.  Perplexed but not in despair. Persecuted but not abandoned.  Struck down but not destroyed.  Wasting away but being renewed.  With the proper focus we can see the all sufficient grace of God while still in the midst of what is pressing against us, perplexing us, persecuting us, or striking us down.

My Advice – In the less than memorable movie Noah’s Ark, starring Russel Crowe, there is one brief exchange between Noah and Tubal-Cain that I do remember quite well.

Tubal-Cain (menacingly):  “I have men at my back, and you stand alone and defy me?”

Noah (matter-of-factly):  “I’m not alone.”

Remember, no matter how desperate the situation, if you are in Christ you are never alone.  Fix your eyes on Him, not the situation.

The Secret Every Baby Knows

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My Musings – To be content is to accept or to be satisfied with ones circumstances.  Perhaps the best image of contentment is that of an infant or small child in the arms of their mother.  No matter what else may be going on around them, they feel safe and secure – content.

Paul is writing from prison.  Death is imminent by execution.  One would think he had little to rejoice about, much less greatly.  To reassure the Philippians, who were concerned about him, Paul related to them that he (in jail and facing execution) had no needs.  He had, in fact, learned to be content whether in need or in plenty – whatever the circumstances.

Of course, whether we are in want or when we have plenty – each circumstance presents its own challenges to being content.  When we have, we have a tendency to want what we do not have, leaving us discontented.  When we have not, it seems only natural to be discontented.  Yet often those in need are more likely to be contented than those who want.

So what is this big “secret” that Paul had learned?  Do not focus on the circumstances (“in need” or “have plenty“), focus on the relationship (“through Him who gives me strength“).

My Advice – One might be tempted to think that Paul, being a giant in the faith, couldn’t possibly understand our circumstances.  Think again.  Better yet, read the following written by Paul.  “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?”  (2 Corinthians 11:23–29, NIV 1984).

So, if he can, we can.  But not in our own strength, but in Him who give us the strength to be so.

Today’s musing was inspired by Pastor Kevin Rutledge’s sermon on November 24, 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.

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.