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.

 

 

Do Not Turn From It

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Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”  (Proverbs 22:6, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Thanks Dad, for the Godly training that you provided.  I hope I am a good reflection of you, and the Lord you served.  I’ll do my best to not turn from it.

In memory of my Dad, who would have been 88 years old today.  I miss you.

Odds Are

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Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  (Luke 12:6–7, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Chance. Something that happens unpredictably without discernible intention or observable cause.  Coincidence. A remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.  Random. Made, done, happening, or chosen without method or conscious decision.  Odds. The probability that one thing is so or will happen rather than another.

I heard the muffled pop as I turned onto the entrance ramp to the interstate highway.  The thought immediately occurred to me that I had blown a tire.  But then nothing happened.  So I thought nothing of it and continued on my way to work, driving “every bit” the 70 mph speed limit.  It wasn’t until I was about fifteen miles on my way that the warning light flashed on indicating low pressure in my rear left tire. Pulling off the interstate and into a service station I exited the car and saw the screw protruding form the tire.  Yep, that’s it in the picture above.  Still being closer to home than I was to work, I re-inflated the tire, turned around and headed back to my car dealership, stopping once more to re-inflate the tire before reaching the dealership safely.

Well, that’s how my day started yesterday.  So what do you think the odds are that my great big  car would find that little bitty screw on that wide road?  Chance?  Coincidence?  Random?  Not likely.  Inconvenient?  For sure.  Late for work, putting me behind.  Costly?  You bet.  That little bitty screw will cost me over $170 to replace the tire. End of the world?  Not even close.  But if even the very hairs on my head are numbered, why didn’t my tire miss the screw?  I haven’t a clue.  Could God have prevented it?  Certainly.  Why didn’t he?  Again, I haven’t a clue.  What I am pretty sure of is that it wasn’t chance, coincidence or random.  Odds had nothing to do with it.  There was a reason for it.  Was it a test of how I would respond?  Maybe.  How we respond to little things, and believe me this was a little thing, prepares us to respond to bigger things.

My Advice – Take things in stride and trust God in the little things.  There are bound to be bigger things that we will need to be trained to respond to.

Are We Dead Yet?

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You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”  (Titus 2:1–8, NIV 1984).

Other People’s Musings – “Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair … these are the long, long years that bow the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust.  Whatever your years, there is in every being’s heart the love of wonder, the undaunted challenge of events, the unfailing, childlike appetite for ‘what next,’ and the joy and the game of life.  You are as young as your faith, as old as your,  doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.”  (Douglas MacArthur).

My Musings – “Whatever your years,” you’re not dead yet.  Continue to learn.  Continue to grow.  There is much that the older generation can (in humility) teach those that are younger. But it is also true, that those who older can learn from the younger generation.  We have a tendency to retreat into our own self-defined groups of people that we feel comfortable with.  But comfort tends to quench the “love of wonder the undaunted challenge of events, the unfailing, childlike appetite for ‘what next,’ and the joy and the game of life.”

My Advice – Actually Mac’s. “You are as young as your faith, as old as your, doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.”  What ever your years, get in the game.  You’re not dead yet.

 

Spiritual Investments

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My Musings – Such is Paul’s description of two of his disciples. People he had invested his life in.  In his early ministry, Barnabas had risked his reputation and took this former persecutor of the Church under his wing and ministered with him.  Paul, in turn, invested in the lives of others.  When He could not go, he sent these two.  They had been mentored, now it was their turn to “pay it forward.”  And it’s been going on just like this for nearly 2,000 years.

In the above passage, Paul described the product of discipleship (genuine, proven, service, fellowship, commitment).  In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul described the process of discipleship.  “You then, [Timothy] my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”  (2 Timothy 2:2, NIV 1984).

But we should never think that it is only a one-way street.  Near the end of his ministry Paul summoned another of his disciples.  One who stumbled early on and for a time was cast away by Paul.  “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:11, NIV 1984). One who Paul once considered not helpful at all was now considered helpful.  Once considered a bad investment, now an investment paying dividends.  Investing in others and letting others invest in us.  Iron sharpening iron.

My Advice – Grow in Christ by letting others help you and helping others do the same.  It’s proven pattern.

Today’s musing was inspired by Pastor Nate Miller’s sermon on October 13, 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.

Sheep’s Clothing

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My Musings – In banking, tellers are taught the best way to spot a counterfeit – you study the genuine article.  By being familiar with the “real deal” you can more readily spot the fake.  This similar principle can be applied to identifying false teachers.  You look to what they are saying and doing, and you place it alongside what is truth – God’s Word.

Feed Only Themselves – We’ve all seen them, enriching themselves while the flock is starving for the truth.

Clouds Without Rain – They look and sound impressive, but in reality lack the substance of the truth.

Autumn Trees Without Fruit – You expect the fruit in the Autumn, and you would expect spiritual leaders to bear real fruit.  Yet the false ones pander to big crowds in this age of “consumer Christianity.”  Give them what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.

Wild Waves Foaming Up – Stirring the pot, when they should be building up the body in unity of the Spirit.

Wandering Stars – Abandoning the flock that they have been entrusted with, seeking greener pastures for themselves, while their sheep are left shepherd less.

For Whom Blackest Darkness Has Been Reserved Forever – Their just reward.

My Advice – Stay in the Word.  You’ll know who measures up and who does not.  Here are a few pointers.

1. Is the teaching from a well-known and trusted source?

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures.” (2 Timothy 3:14, 15)

2. Is the teaching consistent with what you have learned from the well-known and trusted sources?

“I urge you brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned.” (Romans 16:17)

3. Is the teaching clear from the texts or is the interpretation strained?

You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” (Matthew 23:24)

4. Is the teaching exclusive or nearly exclusive?

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.” (2 Peter 1:20)

5. Is the teaching necessary to support a questionable position or lifestyle?

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3)

6. Does the teaching direct society to follow God’s moral standards or does the teaching encourage others to follow the world’s social mores?

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)

7. Is the teaching’s emphasis on grace and freedom too permissive?

You my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature.” (Galatians 5:13)

8. Is the teaching’s emphasis on morality and obedience too repressive?

Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by the oath.’ You blind fools!” (Matthew 23:16, 17)

9. Does the teaching deny the power of God to enable His children to overcome sin and temptation?

And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)

10. Does the teaching follow Satan’s pattern of masquerading as an angel of light?

For such men are false apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.” (1 Corinthians11:13, 14)

11. Does the teaching follow Satan’s pattern of deceit by calling God’s Word into question?

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say….” (Genesis 3:1)

12. Does the teaching call right wrong and wrong right?

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:20)

Mark Twain is credited with saying that “in religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a farthing.” We must never be too lazy (or too naïve) to blindly accept every “wind of doctrine” that comes along. In the final analysis, even when the source of information seems trustworthy, like the Bereans, we must lay what is being said alongside the Word of God to see if it is true. However, in order to do this effectively we must be sufficiently familiar with the Bible to know how to use it. Possessing a tool is not much good if we do not know how to use (“rightly divide”) it properly.

 

Freely Given, Spiritually Discerned

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My Musings – We should not be surprised that the world in general finds Christianity foolish.  What seems so obvious to followers of Christ is often lost on those who do not.  The understanding that Christians have is not due to a superior (or as some might claim inferior) intellect.  It is discernment enabled by the Spirit of God that dwells within.  We must remember that we were in the same situation as the unsaved at one time.  Unable to comprehend what God freely offered.  And we never would have understood, much less accepted it if He had not pursued us.  People are not badgered, argued or driven into the Kingdom by us. We can only communicate (plant, water and cultivate) the Truth to the lost as best we can.   Then we must let the Holy Spirit do His special work of convicting and convincing (harvesting).

My Advice – Show compassion with a passion.   After all the “Passion of the Christ” was for everyone who believes and receives.