Stand Firm or Not At All

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My Musings – “Stand for something or you will fall for anything. Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that held its ground.” Probably said by Rosa Parks (Rosa Louise McCauley Parks, 1913 – 2005, African American civil rights activist).  Variations of the first part of this quote have been attributed to many different people, with the true origin of the quote unknown.  I think we might be safe in attributing it to Isaiah.

The Biblical definition of faith, is found in Hebrews 11:1:  “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (NIV 1984).” In other words, a firm belief in something for which there is no proof.   Another version states that it is the substance (what’s tangible) of hope (what’s intangible), the evidence (proof) of what cannot be seen (unprovable).  You may end up being called a nut.  But if you don’t stand firm, you’ll never become a might oak.  in fact, if you do not stand firm, you will not stand at all.

My Advice – Don’t just stand for something.  Stand for someone.  Stand for a firm belief in Jesus Christ.  If you do, though you cannot see it, you can be certain that you will never fall.  You’d be nuts not to.

 

 

The Ransom Price

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My Musings – Redeem means to buy back, liberate or free a possession, object, or person, by the payment of a ransom.  Biblically, the term redemption indicates a freeing from the slavery of sin, in exchange for the ransom price.  Redeemer, is the one that pays the ransom (Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, 1988).

The ransom price must be of sufficient value to effect the exchange.  Ironically, in our fallen state, we have no intrinsic value that would merit any ransom price.  Yet Christ paid the ultimate price to redeem mankind.  The priceless in exchange for the worthless.  The ultimate in unmerited favor. Ever marvel at the love that had to be behind such a sacrifice? No wonder Job’s heart yearned within him.

My Advice – Our bargaining position is extremely weak.  We have nothing of value to offer ourselves.  Accept the ransom.

New Every Morning

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Nehemiah 9:17 – “But You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – God did not discover grace, compassion, love and forgiveness in the New Testament.  It has always been there.  God did not compromise His justice, righteousness and wrath against sin in favor of these other qualities.  He reconciled  them at the intersection of the cross.  This was not a fall back plan after centuries of “failures” of the Law.  It was always the plan, even before He created man and woman.

My Advice – Available to all who believe and receive.  Do not pass it up.

Choose Wisely

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1 Chronicles 16:34Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. (NIV 1978)

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”.  “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver.  “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

My Musings – What is good?  We all have a general idea what it means to be good, and we usually contrast it with bad or evil.  But when it comes to man, in his fallen state, good is a relative term.  Relative to one another, but not to God.  In fact, the Bible states that “[t]here is no one righteous [good], not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10–12, NIV 1984).  Only God is good.

Before the fall, mankind desired the knowledge of good and evil more than life.  You might recall that there were two trees in the center of the garden – “In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9, NIV 1984).

But only one was forbidden – “And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”  (Genesis 2:16–17, NIV 1984).  And that is the one they desired.

When it came to choices, mankind chose what was forbidden and forfeited what they already had – goodness and innocence.  It was a “fool’s choice,” for who needs to know the difference (good versus evil) when all they have and all they are is good and innocent?  In making the “fool’s choice” mankind also gave up the opportunity to live forever in that state (good and innocent).

As a consequence of that choice, God was no longer “safe,” for mankind.  But He was still good.  “He’s the King, I tell you.”  And His love “endures forever,” even in the wake of mankind’s bad choices.  Because of His goodness and love, He was compelled to provide a way back to the paradise lost, through the death and resurrection of the only man to ever be good (“the exact representation of His being“) relative to God – the second Adam, God’s only Son Jesus.  By accepting Christ, that goodness is imputed to man.  It all boils down to another choice.  This time will we choose the “tree of life” or will we continue to think that our ill-gotten knowledge is “better?”

My Advice – Choose wisely, choose life.

The Deeper Magic

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1 Samuel 15:22 – “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – In the Garden (Eden) there was disobedience. God covered Adam’s and Eve’s nakedness, presumably from animals that were sacrificed.  The blood that was shed also covered their sin.

On the mountain (Moriah), Abraham was prepared to obey and sacrifice his son, but God prevented Him from doing so.  To obey is better, because it requires no sacrifice.

In the Garden (Mt. of Olives) Jesus prayed that if there was any other way, that He be spared from sacrificing His life.  Yet in obedience, He said “not my will but yours.”  In this instance, obedience (His) would necessarily lead to sacrifice because of disobedience (ours).

On the mountain (Golgotha), Jesus was sacrificed to atone for our disobedience.  There was no staying of the hand as in the case of Abraham, because there was no other way.  Christ’s obedience was more than sufficient to remove (not merely cover) the stain of our disobedience.

In the garden, the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty, as death (the “deep magic”) turned into life (the “deeper magic”).  The fall of mankind in one garden comes full circle with the redemption of mankind in another.

My Advice – We have victory over sin, death and judgement because of Christ’s obedience.  And while no further sacrifice is required, we nevertheless should still live a life of obedience.  If we confess our sins, He will forgive them.  But why go there in the first place?  Let’s show our appreciation for God’s “deeper magic” that overcame the curse of “deep magic.”

“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.

“It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who has committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.”

(From “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis)

It’s A Onederful Life

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1 Timothy 2:5-7For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – In a 2016 Gallup survey of Americans, when asked whether or not they believe in God, 89% answered yes, 10% answered no, and 1% had no opinion.  In a separate Gallup survey that same year, when given a third option to yes or no (unsure), 79% answered yes, 10% were unsure and 11% answered no.

In a 2008 Pew Research survey, 52% of all American Christians believe that some non-Christian faiths can lead to eternal life, while only 49% of evangelical Christians believe theirs is the one true faith.

Of course surveys only reveal what people believe to be true, they do not determine what is in fact true.  The same is true with respect to various religions – they define people’s beliefs, which may or may not be truth.  I can only speak for myself and why I believe that Christianity is the truth.

One God For Christians and Jews (perhaps Muslims?), this is the God of the Old Testament.  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4, NIV 1984).  Logic tells us that there can only be one “supreme” (superior to all others) being.

One Mediator between God and men – The Christian faith, and as far as I know none other,  believes that the “one” (exclusive) mediator is Jesus Christ.  Why must Christians (despite what the polls might say) believe this.  Because Jesus said it Himself.  “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.‘” (John 14:6, NIV 1984).  He was either telling the truth, lying or deranged.  If He was not telling the truth, He cannot be a path to God.  But His resurrection testifies that He was telling the truth.

One true faith – Is the Christian faith the one true (exclusive) religion?  If you believe the Gospels, then yes it is.  “[Jesus] fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.‘” (Matthew 26:39, NIV 1984).  If Jesus was indeed the “only begotten Son of God,” then you would have to believe that if there was another way (another path – one or many), God would not have allowed His only Son to be crucified.  But Jesus was crucified.  There was, and is, no other way or path.

My Advice – Only we can choose what to believe.  But what we choose to believe cannot change the truth.  The stakes are high, so we must consider carefully what the truth is.  One cannot blame Christians for asserting that Jesus is the only path to God. because Jesus claimed it Himself. And God ratified it by allowing His death and raising Him from the dead.  In this sense, yes, Christianity is exclusive – it is the only path to God.   But in another sense, Christianity is all-inclusive. “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12, NIV 1984).  It is a path that is open to all.  The choice is ours.  Only we can make sure we “earn” our wings by believing and receiving.

 

 

 

 

Prepared for Gentle Respect

1 Peter 3:15But in your hearts set apart Christ Jesus as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (NIV 1978)

My Musing – In a world with little hope, Christians should stand out because of their hope. This is likely to raise questions. Questions we should be able to answer (although many are unprepared). We should not be arrogant or condescending in our replies. The lost deserve our pity and compassion, not a “holier-than-thou” response.

My Advice – Be gentle in your responses. Respect their right to choose for themselves. Do not lose your gentleness if they do not choose Christ. There may be another time and how you respond to them now may make some difference later.