Find The One Thing

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My Musings – “Do you know what the secret of life is? One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean %@$&*!.” This quote is known as Curly’s Law, from the movie “City Slickers.”  Curly is a hardened and grizzled cowboy leading a trail drive for urban “city slicker” cowboys on vacation.  When asked what that one thing is, Curly smiles (probably the only time he smiled in the movie – I don’t remember for sure) and says, ” That’s what you have to find out.”

Paul found out. “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14).  What was behind?  Originally, a life obsessed with persecuting Christians.   What lay a head?  His reward.  Such a prize, such a reward for faithful service to Christ that Paul considered that “to die is gain.

In between “what is behind” that Paul was forgetting and the prize that Paul was “straining toward” lay another obsession of “fruitful labor.”  But it came with a cost. “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.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).  Ahead of all this was chains and martyrdom.

But He stuck to his obsession with “the one thing,” because he considered everything else “a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” (Philippians 3:8, NIV 1984).  All of these things (imprisonment, floggings, beatings, stonings…) could have been “stopping stones.”  Instead, Paul used each one as a “stepping stone” “of sharing in [Christ’s] sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:10-11).

All of these things that happened to Paul “served to advance the Gospel” and encouraged many others “to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly” from the first century until now.

My Advice – Your “one thing” can only be found in “one person.”  “That’s what you have to find out.”  Be obsessed until you find Him, and once you find Him, be obsessed with serving to advance the Gospel more courageously and fearlessly.  The cost of these obsessions might seem too high, but Paul also said, “therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles [yes, he really said light and momentary] are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NIV 1984).

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21, NIV 1984).

Today’s musing was inspired by Pastor Kevin Rutledge’s sermon “Fueled Relationships” on September 15, 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.

 

 

 

 

I AM – Was, Is and To Come

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My Musings – The first few words of Genesis say the “In the beginning God…”  If I might interject, “in the beginning God was already there to createthe heavens and the earth.”  The unmoved mover, the uncreated transcendent being  – the Alpha.  In the first few verses of Revelation God goes on to state that He is also the Omega.  When these heavens and earth come to an end and are made new He is still there.  He had no beginning and will have no end.  “Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come.”  In other words “I AM.

In Exodus, Moses asked who he should say sent him, and God told Him to say “I AM.”  When Jesus came the first time and was put on trial before Pilate, He was asked if He was a King.  Jesus replied, “I AM.”  Finally, in the closing verses of Revelation, Jesus states “I AM coming soon.” He promised He would.

My Advice – Is He coming for you (to take you home with Him) or is He coming to you (to send you away from Him)?  Right now, to can make that decision for yourself.  When He comes (no man knows when) it will be too late.  You may never have the opportunity again.

The Same In His Eyes

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My Musings – Last Friday, I was provided the opportunity of having a photo op with, and getting to shake the hands of, the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush (he’s the one on the left).  It was quite an honor for a small town “boy” (the one on the right), who in the grand scheme of things is fairly insignificant, to stand next to the man who at one time was arguably the most powerful man in the world.  I got to hear him interviewed for about an hour, and I have to say (whether you agreed with his politics or not), that he is a most gracious and humble man.  Very funny too (on purpose).

All that said, his days of power are over.  He is still to be honored as an ex-President, but he is no longer the mover of the wheels of history that he once was.  Of course we all know that there are the “hands” of One behind scenes that is the “unmoved mover.” He causes kings (presidents) and kingdoms (republics) to rise and fall.  Who at times removes His hands and permits things to occur in this fallen world that we do not always understand.  At other times, He stretches forth His hands to prevent things that go beyond His permissive will.  And at still other times He moves to cause things to happen that are simply amazing  (like His amazing grace).

In the end, when facing the Almighty, Presidents (current and ex) and kings, have no special privileges that small town “boys” do not have.  The significant persons of history are no more (or less) important than the insignificant.  For in the “grand scheme of things” we are all quite insignificant in comparison to Him.  Yet, He considered us significant enough to allow His Son to die on the cross to bear the penalty for all of our sins, significant and insignificant.

I’ve said it before in my blogs that there is no sin so small that Jesus did not have to die for it, and no sin too great that He could not die for it.  A corollary of this is: there is no person so insignificant that He would not dare to die for, and no person so significant that He did not need to die for.

Still, as insignificant as both George and I are, I was still glad I got to meet Him.  I will remember it for a long time, although I am pretty sure George has already forgotten.

My Advice – Some day, with my own eyes, I will behold the King of kings and Lord of lords.  My meeting this past week, which seems so huge now, will seem so trivial then.  Wouldn’t you like to behold Him too?  You will.  In fact every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess, that Jesus is Lord.  Some in adoration and relief.  Others in fear and grief.  Which will it be for you?  It doesn’t have to be in fear and grief.

Secrets of My Success

1 Chronicles 22:11-13Now, my son, the LORD be with you, and may you have success and build the house of the LORD your God, as he said you would. May the LORD give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the LORD your God. Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the LORD gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. (NIV 1984)

Colin Powell – There are no secrets to success: Don’t waste time looking for them. Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty to those for whom you work, and persistence.

My Musings – Success without these milestones on the way is really no success at all. It is merely a destination, not an achievement.  But neither the destination nor the achievement will be worth it in the end if the LORD is not with you.  He will be if you are careful to observe His Word.

My Advice – There is no easy road to success. But if you conduct yourself in your job, as you have thus far, you will succeed.  So “be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or discouraged.”

Enriched in Poverty

Revelation 2:9 – “I know your afflictions and your poverty-yet you are rich!” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – It’s all a matter of perspective. The world may see poverty on the outside, but God sees the riches of Christ in our hearts.

My Advice – There may be lean years early in your career. But remember, no matter how little you have in your bank account, you are rich because you have Christ in your heart.

Do Not Lose What You Worked For

2 John 8Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – This is not talking about salvation. We did not work for it we received it as a gift. Thus, we cannot lose it. But since salvation, we have been doing good works that are building rewards for us in Heaven. These we can lose.

My Advice – Live a life that builds rewards, not one that loses them.

He Is Coming Soon!

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Revelation 22:12-13  –  “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (NIV 1984)

My Musings – I’ve worked for four different companies in my nearly 42 year post-college career.  All of them required a certain degree of travel. Fortunately, it was not too frequent and the time away was rarely for extended stays. Like the dad pictured in the cartoon above, my son Joel came to expect some kind of gift when I returned.  Nothing elaborate or expensive, but no matter how small or trivial, he was always excited.  Of course, I know he was also glad to see me.

One particular return is vividly etched in my memory.  Joel was barely walking and still sleeping in a crib.  I believe the trip in question was probably my longest in terms of distance and time away (Buenos Aires for a little over a week).  I got home late at night, and Joel was down for the night (I thought).  The driver dropped me off and I set down my bags in the front entryway to our home.  My wife welcomed me and we were chatting away, trying to be quiet, when I heard the patter of little feet coming from down the hallway and the bedrooms.  It was Joel.  He had heard my voice and could not wait his turn.  He figured out how to climb out of his crib and made a beeline for his dad.  Incidentally, Joel got a new bed that weekend.

Another return from a long absence is getting nearer every day.  Our Lord’s return!  His reward will be with Him.  Will we be eager to see Him?  Or ashamed at HIs coming, for the things that we did or did not do?  For some He will not be coming as Father, but as Judge.

My Advice – Make sure you He is coming to you as a loving Father.  Don’t know if or how?  See my series on “The Born Again Experience.”

If you already know Him as Savior, just seeing Him will be reward enough.  But there will be rewards too, based upon how faithfully we have served Him.  See my series “Got Spiritual Milk?” on becoming a faithful disciple.  You can also purchase this book in my “store.”

Finally, are you looking for His return?  Joel was listening and ready for me.  Do you know the signs of His return?  As many of you know, who follow my blog, I’ve been sharing on the last days in my series “Studies in Revelation.”  We’re almost done with that series, but it is archived and you can also purchase it in my “store.”