Fill ‘er Up

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My Musings – The house (our heart and mind) is not swept clean (the old is gone) so that it remain unoccupied (the new must come).  If left empty, Satan will do his best to fill it up.  He cannot do that if it is already full.  So, “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.”  (Philippians 4:8, NIV 1984).  This is how you “renew your mind.”  It will transform your heart.

My Advice – Fill ‘er up.

 

The One You Feed

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My Musings – Two Wolves is a Cherokee Indian legend that illustrates one of the most important battles of our lives – the one between our old self and old new self.  An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.  “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”  The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”  The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

So, which wolf are we feeding? The “old corrupted deceitful desires,” or “a new attitude of righteousness and holiness?”  The sad reality is, if we do not feed the “new self“, the “old self” will prevail.  If we do not allow the Holy Spirit to feed us with “joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith,” then Satan will try to feed it with “anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

My Advice – Feed the good wolf.  For “the acts of the sinful nature [evil wolf] are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit [good wolf] is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  (Galatians 5:19-23, NIV 1984).

Mission Accomplished!

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My Musings – Been thinking a lot about the aging process here lately.  In my adult Sunday School class yesterday, we talked about the various age groups in the Body and how they relate to each other, noting that older does not always equate with more mature in the faith.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we matured as fast (at least it seems fast now that I am in my mid-sixties) as we aged?  I confessed to the class to being older (it was quite obvious, of course), but not old (some denial going on?).  I also told them I aspired to being the oldest in our Church, but was willing to be patient about it.

Back to aging, versus maturing.  In the above text, as John speaks of three ages of men (children, young men and fathers) he could just as well be speaking about the three stages of salvation and Christian maturity (justification, sanctification, glorification).

Dear Children (Justification) – A judicial act of God, by which he pardons all the sins of those who believe in Christ, and accounts, accepts, and treats them as righteous in the eye of the law. In addition to the pardon of sin, justification declares that all the claims of the law are satisfied in respect of the justified. The law is not relaxed or set aside, but is declared to be fulfilled – Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.  This is a past event that is accomplished through the work of the Son.

Young Men (Sanctification) – In Christian theology, a distinction is made between justification and sanctification where justification refers to having saving faith and sanctification refers to the process of gradual purification from sin and progressive spiritual growth that should mark the life of the believer – The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.  This is an on-going process that is accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Fathers  (Glorification) – In the Scripture the idea of glorification deals with the ultimate perfection of believers.  It is ours by inheritance – Evangelical dictionary of biblical theology, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.  This is our future destination through the work of the Father.

Interestingly, while these three aspects of salvation occur in the past (“have been justified through faith“), present (“are being transformed into His likeness“) and future (“we shall be like Him“), John speaks of them all as having already taken place (“have been forgiven“, “have overcome“, “have known Him“).  How each of us progress is different, and all of us experience our ups and downs, but that first act of faith guarantees the ultimate perfection of them all.  It kind of looks like this:

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My Advice –  Do not be discouraged.  “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the Day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6, NIV 1978).”  It’s a done deal.  So, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily [those ups and downs] entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1, NIV 1978).”  And one day “we shall see Him as He is.”  What a glorious thought!

Take Heart!

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My Musings – I wrote in my book “Got Spiritual Milk?” (see Store), that justification is a one-time event (the starting line), sanctification is a life-long process (the journey) and glorification is our ultimate destination (the finish line).  In the verse above, Jesus states that if we would come after Him (the justification part) we must take up our cross daily (the sanctification part) and follow Him (the glorification part).

While the justification part is a free gift, taking up our cross daily is a graphic illustration of the cost of becoming like Jesus. Crucifixion was one of the cruelest and barbaric forms of execution ever devised.  A medical doctor provides the following  physical description:

The cross is placed on the ground and the exhausted man is quickly thrown backwards with his shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flex and movement. The cross is then lifted into place.

The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees flexed. The victim is now crucified. As he slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain—the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. As he pushes himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, he places the full weight on the nail through his feet. Again he feels the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the bones of his feet.

As the arms fatigue, cramps sweep through the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push himself upward to breathe. Air can be drawn into the lungs but not exhaled. He fights to raise himself in order to get even one small breath. Finally carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically he is able to push himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen.

Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from his lacerated back as he moves up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony begins: a deep, crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.

It is now almost over—the loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level—the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues—the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air.

He can feel the chill of death creeping through is tissues. . .Finally he can allow his body to die.

All this the Bible records with the simple words, “And they crucified Him.” (Mark 15:24).

What wondrous love is this?

— Adapted from C. Truman Davis, M.D. in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 8

Somehow, the crosses we have to bear in our journey of sanctification here below, do not seem so awful after all – no comparison to what Jesus had to go through, and which bought our justification.  Paul also tells us the they are not even worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed (Romans 8:18) — our ultimate glorification.

My Advice – Jesus said “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NIV 1984). Jesus had the ultimate victory (overcame) over His cross.  Because of this, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can overcome ours as well.  So take heart!

 

 

Who Are You Really?

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My Musings – We are not born with character.  It is borne from our experiences.  Usually difficult experiences.  However, while many people experience difficulties, and even persevere in spite of them, character is not produced in all of us.  While suffering and perseverance are almost always a prerequisite for building character, it does not always result in character. “Character does not suddenly appear when we reach the mountain peak. It is something we develop on the journey up. The sometimes long, sometimes arduous journey.” (Adapted from “Leaders Eat Last,” Simon Sinek).

Many people may appear (have a reputation) to have character, but under the surface (who they really are) they do not.  Our true character is revealed in a variety of ways.  Here are a few:

George Orwell – “The real test of character is how you treat someone who has no possibility of doing you any good.”

Abraham Lincoln – “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

John Wooden – “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

J. K. Rowling – “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a look at how he treats his ‘inferiors,’ not his ‘equals.'”

Stephen Covey – “A moment of choice is a moment of truth.  It’s the testing point of our character and competence.”

Unknown – “Everyone tries to define this thing called Character. It’s not hard. Character is doing what’s right when nobody’s looking.”

My Advice – Character is the only thing you can take out of this life.  A treasure to store up that moths and rust cannot corrupt. Only we can do that.  Quick, while no one is looking, what choice will you make?  Your reputation may not suffer from your choice, but what about your character?  Choose wisely, it might just be your defining moment.

What God Unwillingly Does

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My Musings – Is it possible for us to cause God to do something against His will?  Apparently it is. God “does not willingly bring affliction or grief.”  But He does bring it on nonetheless.  Why would He do something that He is not willing to do, that He does not have to do?  It is motivated by “compassion, so great is His unfailing love.”  The Father will discipline the children He loves, in order to bring correction and growth.  If there were a gentler, less grief bringing way He would undoubtedly choose that way.  But when there is no other way, He is compassionate and loving enough to permit bring grief our way.  When this was not enough,  He took it upon Himself, through His only Son.  For “it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer (Isaiah 53:10)” on our behalf in order to bring salvation to His creation.  He was willing to do what He did not willingly want to do (say what?).  Now that is love and compassion!

My Advice – We can rest assured, that in all these grief “things,” God will bring about good to those who also love Him and are called by Him (Romans 8:28).  Are you feeling “affliction or grief?” Don’t ask why, as in why me? Ask why as in, what correction (repentance) is needed in my life? What do I need to learn from this? What growth is not otherwise possible without this?  Don’t let the thing that God did not willingly want to do be wasted.  Use it!

The Conclusion of the Matter

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My Musings – Fear God? “The ‘fear of the Lord‘ is that attitude of reverence and awe that His people show to Him because they love Him and respect His power and His greatness.” (Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Satisfied (p. 135). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books).

Keep His commandments?  Not out of the fear, as we understand fear.  But, as explained above, out of reverence, awe, and respect.  Why wouldn’t we?  Think of it this way.  When we were little children, we obeyed our parents out of the fear we understand.  Fear of the consequences if we did not.  As we grew older and became adults we continued to do the things we were told when we were young, because we revere and respect them, and want to please them. We want to show our gratitude.

The duty of man?  Not because it is compulsory, but because we are obliged (do as someone asks or desires in order to help or please them).

My Advice – Do your “duty.”