Time To Re-Focus?

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“As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when no one can work.”  (John 9:4, NIV 1984).

“I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:4, NIV 1984).

My Musings – “They were disappointed but believed they could solve the problem.  So they started earlier, stayed longer, and worked harder.  They kept doing the same things over and over again and wondered why things didn’t get better.  They were beginning to realize the difference between activity and productivity.”  (Adapted from “Who Moved My Cheese?” By Spencer Johnson, M.D.).

Activity or productivity? Start earlier, stay longer and work harder.  Doing the same (unproductive) things over and over, but things don’t get better.  Sound familiar?  Jesus knew there was much work to be done, and that His “night” was coming.  But He never confused the important with the urgent.  As a result, with merely three years of ministry, He completed the work that the Father gave Him to do.

How are we doing?  We are called to follow in His steps.  Are we starting earlier, staying longer, and working harder, but getting nowhere?  Maybe it’s because we are doing things in our own strength and wisdom?  Striking out on our own?  Straying from the path?  Losing sight of our calling?

My Advice – How can we follow in His steps if we are not keeping our eyes on the path He followed?  Maybe it’s time to refocus

For This Reason He Was Born

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Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?” Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. 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 18:35–38, NIV 1984).

My Musings – “What is truth?”  Can you find it on social media?  Can you find it on the internet?  Can you find it in your favored political party?  Can you find it on the network news (you choose the network)?  If you are like me, you treat all of these with a healthy dose of skepticism.  Much that masquerades as the truth is really personal opinion or what the teller wants the truth the be.  Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have a place to go, where no matter what, you would find the truth?  For many people, apparently not.  But there really is such a place.  Jesus said He “came into the world to, to testify to the truth.”  But many want to change His Word to be something else than what it says.  For them, the truth that Jesus testified to is an “inconvenient truth.”

My Advice – Jesus asked His Father, “sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”  (John 7:17, NIV 1984).  Be sanctified (set apart to a sacred purpose) by the truth of the Scriptures.  Rather than trying to conform the truth to your lifestyle, conform your life to the truth. “Everyone on the side of truth listens to [Jesus].

Gnats and Camels, Oh My!

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You have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness…You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”  (Matthew 23:23–24, NIV 1984).

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”  (2 Timothy 2:15, NIV 1984).

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”  (2 Peter 1:20–21, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Does anyone refer to it as the Holy Bible or the Sacred Scriptures anymore?  These are words “spoke from God” and carried to the mind of the writers “by the Holy Spirit.”  It cannot get any more Holy or Sacred than that.  It should keep calling us back to its pages with a yearning to learn “the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness” so intimately that we are known as someone who “correctly handles the word of truth.

Unfortunately, all too often, if we do not neglect the Word altogether we have such a casual understanding that we cannot help but neglect those all important matters.  Or, perhaps even worse, we are unable to rightly divide the word.  Straining out interpretations that suit us, while swallowing the truth that would bring us closer to our Savior and know what His will is when confronted with the many choices we face in life.

Knowing His will is so very important because the imposter is very crafty. We see his craftiness in how he deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden. When confronting them doing (listening and following) what God had told them, he did not start with outright contradiction. First, he caused them to begin doubting the Word of God (“did God really say?”) by distorting the Word of God (“you must not eat from any tree?”). That made God’s Word seem unreasonable. Eventually, this allowed him to take things where he wanted them all along – disputing God’s Word altogether (“you will not surely die”). This ultimately led them into disobeying God’s Word and with God calling out – “Adam, where are you?

My Advice – Reader, where are you?  How well do you know God’s Word?  Can you distinguish between a gnat and a camel?  Would God approve or would you be ashamed?  Are you rightly interpreting His Word?  Maybe you’re neglecting it altogether?  How can you turn things around?  Attend Church regularly.  Join a small group Bible study.  Find a mentor that you respect because you know they “correctly handle the word of truth.”  Reserve a certain time of the day to spend in study of the word and prayer.  Treat the Holy Bible, those Sacred Scriptures, as you would a good friend you cannot wait to spend more time with and learn more about.  It will result in a “closer walk with thee.”

And It Was Night

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Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.  “What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.  (John 13:26–30, NIV 1984).

My Musings – “And it was night.”  Deeds or darkness, prefer the cover of darkness.  Light reveals, darkness conceals.  Light illuminates, darkness obfuscates.  That is the true nature of light and darkness.  If only it were that simple.  Unfortunately, Satan masquerades as an angel of light.  He quotes (misquotes, takes out of context) scripture.  So while we are to be as “innocent as doves” we must also be as “sly as a fox.”  “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. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”  (2 Timothy 4:2–4, NIV 1984).

My Advice – Do not let anyone deceive you.  That time is here.  Darkness cannot extinguish light, but it can scatter it, diffuse it and dilute it.  “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”  (2 Timothy 4:5, NIV 1984).  Keep your “lamps” filled with oil and their “wicks” neatly trimmed.

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.

Lavished On Us

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In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:7–8, NIV 1984).

My Musings – “The riches of God.”  Riches. Plentiful amount. Abundantly supplied.  How plentiful and abundant do you suppose it could be coming from the Creator of all there is? How about His only begotten Son? “God’s grace.” Grace. The free and unmerited favor of God. “The riches of God’s grace” are free to all who would receive them, even though it is not merited.  Could never possibly be merited. “He lavished on us.”  Lavished. Bestowed in generous or extravagant quantities. Exceeding what is reasonable or appropriate.  It is neither reasonable or appropriate that we should receive God’s favor, apart from His mercy and grace.  “With all wisdom and understanding.”  God understood what the cost of His grace would be.  It doesn’t seem all that wise to give so great a cost to those so unworthy.  But He was wise enough to understand it was the only possible way to lovingly satisfy His own Holy and Righteous character.

My Advice – Be thankful that you either have it or that it is within your grasp.

What He Said Was Important

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Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28–30, NIV 1984).

My Musings – How does one move from “weary and burdened” to “easy and light?”  By being “gentle and humble.”  By being imitators of Christ.  In Jesus’ day, the Jews were looking for a political or militant solution to their years of bondage.  Their early excitement over Jesus (“could this be the Messiah“) gave way to disillusionment and hostility, as gentleness and humility did not quite meet their expectations of a deliverer.   They preferred ruthless and pompous.

They failed to understand just what kind of bondage the Messiah came to deliver us from.  They were seeking “peace in our time.”  Christ came to offer peace for all time.  They were seeking deliverance “at all costs.”  Jesus offered peace that demanded the greatest cost.  They were seeking liberty in the land.  Jesus was offering liberation of the heart.  They wanted vengeance.  Jesus offered forgiveness.  They wanted unconditional surrender.  Jesus offered unmerited grace.  They wanted independence.  Jesus offered relationship.  They wanted a manifesto.  Jesus offered their names written in the Lamb’s book of life.   They wanted rebellion, Jesus required surrender.

My Advice – So what have we learned in 2000 years?  Will we as the Church advance the Kingdom of God through pollical activism or by proclamation of the Gospel?  Through force or faith?  Harshness or gentleness?  Arrogance or humility?  By becoming 21st century Pharisees or by modeling ourselves after 1st century believers?  By engaging in crusades or by taking up our cross?  Let’s learn from Him.  “You have heard it said, but I say to you …”  Our country’s and the world’s problems will not be solved from the outside in, only from the inside out.  It’s the heart not the head.  It’s the eternal, not the temporal.  It’s the narrow path, not the broad path.  It’s the Great Commission, not the great omission.  The time is short.  The harvest is great.  The workers are few.  Let’s get on with it.

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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?”