Our Needs, His Riches

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You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”  (John 15:16, NIV 1984).

“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  (Matthew 6:25, 32–34, NIV 1984).

[For] my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:19, NIV 1984).

Every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.”  (Psalm 50:10, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Followers of Christ are chosen and appointed by Him.  So we need not worry about the things that the rest of the world worries about.  He knows our needs, and whatever we need for our appointed tasks will be provided.  So we need not seek after these things.  Rather we should seek after the things of God and God will take care of adding the other things as well.  According to His riches.  This should tell you why we need not worry.  His riches (“cattle on a thousand hills“) are abundant.

My Advice – So let’s not get greedy by asking God to meet our wants instead of our needs.  Let’s make sure that “whatever [we] ask in [His] name” are needs not wants.

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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?”

 

Unvarnished Truth

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Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” “What is truth?” Pilate asked. (John 18:37–38, NIV).

My Musings – “In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” ― George Orwell, author of 1984.

We are all jaded these days when it comes to the truth.  Everyone wants to put their own coat of “varnish” on it.  Take it out of context.  Omit parts that are inconvenient.  Hear or accept only what fits our idea of what we want the truth to be.

My Advice – In a world of deceit, be revolutionary. “So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:1–2, NIV 1984). Jesus came to testify to the truth, and it got Him crucified. As Christians, we have been entrusted with the truth He proclaimed.  Let’s be faithful to His truth.  The world may hate us for it, but keep in mind that the world hated Him first.  Why did the world hate Him?  Because He testified to the truth, and the world did not want to hear the truth.  If we are hated for testifying to the truth that Christ testified to, then we can truly can be regarded “as servants of Christ.”  And that’s not a bad thing.  So keep on (“prove faithful“) “speaking the truth in love.

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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?”

 

 

 

Trustworthy Sayings

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Here is a trustworthy saying:  If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.  (2 Timothy 2:11–13, NIV 1984).

My Musings – This is an interesting passage, containing four couplets, each beginning with the word “if.”  What makes it interesting to me, is that the word “if” is typically the introduction to a conditional clause (if a certain condition is true, then a particular result happens), which it is in the first three couplets, but not the last one.  This should cause the reader to question why that is so, because it begs an explanation, which is given in the text.

If we died with Him, [then] we will also live with Him – “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3, NIV). “Unless” also forms a conditional clause.  As with most conditional clauses, we would like to substitute our own conditions (good deeds, live a “good” life, don’t commit any “mortal” sins, etc.), but we cannot.  We must “die” with Him (accept His sacrifice on the cross on our behalf) in order to live (be born again) with Him.  We cannot be born again, if we have not “died.”  We die so we will not perish. It sounds like an oxymoron, but it is not.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16, NIV 1984).

If we endure, [then] we will also reign with Him – John 3:16, cited above, is not a conditional clause.  Whoever believes has eternal life.  It cannot be eternal if it can be lost.  So this conditional clause must mean something else.  “Well done, my good servant!” his master replied.Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.”  (Luke 19:17, NIV 1984).  How we live (endure in) this life, does not determine if we will live with Him in the next.  It determines how we will reign with Him in the next.

If we disown Him, [then] He will also disown us – This clause stands in juxtaposition to the first clause.  We can either die with (be owned by) Him, or die without Him by disowning Him. “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 10:32–33, NIV 1984).  If we disown Him, we will never see the Kingdom of Heaven. To make sure we do not misapply this clause, that having once genuinely accepted Christ we can later disown Him and lose our salvation, the final unconditional clause is added.

If we are faithless, [nevertheless] He will remain faithful – There will be times in our Christian walk that our “enduring” will be less than stellar.  We will be unfaithful at times.  But God’s faithfulness to His promise “whoever believes in Him shall not perish” is unconditional.  He cannot be unfaithful. “Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”  (Hebrews 6:16–19, NIV).  As Christians, our identity is in Christ, God’s “one and only Son” and  “he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

My Advice – Die with Him so you can live and reign with Him.  Then live a life worthy of the calling.

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Want to become a Christian (die with Him)? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ (endure with Him)? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

 

Do Not Be Afraid

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My Musings – Hard pressed (afflicted, oppressed, harassed), on every side.  How could one help from being crushed (completely subdued)?  How oppressed and harassed do you think an unmarried and pregnant woman might be in first century Israel, where death by stoning was a possibility?  It might be difficult to imagine in our culture today, but the affliction would most likely have come from every side – family, friends, synagogue, and most importantly her betrothed, Joseph.  Elsewhere in the text it is clearly stated Mary was found with child before they “came together.”    How favored would Mary be, in Joseph’s or anyone else’s eyes, after she could no longer hide the pregnancy?  How could she not be afraid?  How could she not be crushed?

And what about Joseph? He knew the child could not be his, and Mary’s explanation would have sounded preposterous.  How could he not be crushed by the news that she was pregnant?  Perhaps it is understandable that he needed corroboration of Mary’s story from a credible source – an angel of the Lord.  He too was told not to be afraid.  To go ahead and make Mary his wife.  In the eyes of everyone watching to see how he would react, this would all but confirm (at least to them) that Joseph was the father.  What would this do to his reputation as a “righteous man?”

Did the stigma ever leave Joseph and Mary?  We know it did not leave Jesus.  When the religious leaders told Jesus that they knew who their father was, the implication was that Jesus did not know who his father was.  In their eyes, Joseph may have made Mary and “honest woman,” but Jesus was still considered an illegitimate child.

Interesting isn’t it?  Who the world considered illegitimate and born in sin, was the only person who could legitimately save us from our sin.

My Advice – Feeling oppressed this Christmas?  Jesus is saying to you, “do not be afraid.”  Take His yoke upon you.  “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:30, NIV 1984).  You may be hard pressed, but you will not be crushed.

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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?”

The Gifts Of The Magi, The Gift Of The King

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My Musings – We cannot entirely appreciate the significance of the gifts that the Magi presented in celebration of the Christ child’s birth, until we accept the gift that Jesus offers through His death on the cross. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Accepting death on a cross so that He might offer us the gift of new birth.

My Advice – It’s the most expensive gift we could ever receive, yet it is free.  Unlike all other gifts, it will never lose its value or wear out.  All you have to do is believe in Him.  Not just believe about Him, but believe in Him.  It’s a huge difference.  Believing about Him will not save you.  Believing in Him will.  Read my “The Born Again Experience” to fully understand the difference.

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.

Confident In Prayer

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My Musings – God answers all the prayers of His children, they just may not be what we expected.  To me it seems that His answers fall into four broad categories:

No – God is not arbitrary, capricious nor vindictive. After all, do we give our children everything that they ask for?  If not, isn’t there usually very good reasons?  When the answer to our prayers appears to be no, we can be sure there is a good reason. Instead of questioning His good intentions we should search our motives and our heart to make sure they are in line with God’s will.

Wait – Sometimes, we conclude that the answer is no because it does not come when we want it or expect it. It could be that God has determined that the answer is yes, but the timing is not right.  His timing is always best.

Yes – When we ask, when our motives are pure, when the timing is right and it is in line with God’s will, we have the assurance that the answer will be yes.

Better – Sometimes God has something even better to answer our prayers with.  After all, He is able to do abundantly more than we can think or imagine.  In these cases, if His answer was simply yes, we would miss out on even greater blessings.

My Advice – Make sure your motives are pure and that what you request is not in obvious conflict with God’s will.  Then trust Him to do what is best, even if you cannot see it right away.