Reflections by the Pond

#708: Condescension

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May 18, 2015

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9

There is no earthly instrument sufficient to the task of measuring the profound depth of Christ's love for fallen man. We cannot answer why such love exists. It just does. It is a love more steady and deep than a mother's love for her child, more mysterious than a husband's love for his wife.

It really is not possible for mere man to understand the measure of Christ's love for His creation. The best we can do is measure it against the highest example of human love we can imagine—and then double it. But even that misses the point...

#707: Due Honor, Due Respect

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May 11, 2015

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts!
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
Psalms 96:8-9 ESV

The psalmist calls us to a special occasion: the worship of a holy and glorious God. And he tells us to give Him what He is due. We are to enter His sanctuary not with our hands empty, but with an offering. More than that, in our worship we are to acknowledge and proclaim the full weight of who God is. That is, we are to give God the glory due Him...

#706: All of Grace

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May 4, 2015

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

In the movie Hawaii (1966), based on the James A. Michener novel of the same name, the story is told of a zealous missionary from New England going to the Hawaiian islands to save the "pagan heathen." But the man (played by Max von Sydow) is so strident, so unbendingly legalistic that he repels more people than his preaching attracts. For him the Bible is a bludgeon with which to browbeat the prospective converts into Christianity, rather than a message of hope in the good news Christ offers. In the face of such abusive preaching, ultimately even his own wife rebels against his dictates...

#705: His Unspeakable Glory

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April 27, 2015

Man cannot comprehend the mystical glory of the Son of God. It lies far beyond our senses. For Him, it is a precious, natural condition. It is high and exalted, majestic. It is other-worldly, pristine, holy. Its worth cannot be calculated by mere flesh. Yet, in eternity past, when the Godhead determined that mere flesh would need a Savior, the Son of God set its salvation above His priceless glory...

#704: The Other-worldly Aspirations of the Soul

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April 20, 2015

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple.
Psalms 27:4

As we, over time, learn of God through the sanction of the Son and the translating Spirit; as we listen to His voice and experience His gracious answers to ours; as His ways gradually become more comfortable, more "natural" to us, the thought of dwelling with God is replaced by a true longing for it. And our passion for Him is at last joined to His passion for us...

#703: The Root

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April 13, 2015

All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
John 1:3-4

At some moment back in the furthest reaches of time, the triune God decided that He would both create man and love him. The raw material of man's creation would be earth's soil, but the raw material of God's love for him would come solely from His heart. God's heart-generated love would be expressed in, of all things, flesh. For God to commune with man, the sin of man would require atonement—a blood sacrifice—and only God Himself could supply the one, spotless, perfect Lamb that would atone for man's sin. God would send down to earth the Son to become that sacrifice.

Thus the circle would be complete. Flesh for flesh...

#702: All this--and More

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April 6, 2015

Jesus Christ has made two entrances into this world, and both were played against type.

Because Christ is the fullness of God, in Him we see and experience the fullness of God's character: the God who loves and serves His people; the God who patiently waits, working quietly in a life; the God who chastises, corrects, disciplines His erring children; the righteous, holy God who hates sin...

#701: Small Things

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March 30, 2015

The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 1 Kings 19:11-13 NIV

We all have big things in our lives. We all have things that are important, that require our attention and activity. But when we never pause for the small things—those fragile and fleeting oases of heavenly communion—our connection to God begins to atrophy. Eventually it will dry up and blow away from disuse.

And for the tyranny of the temporal moment, we will have bargained away sweet, heavenly moments with Him...

#700: Remembering What We Were

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March 23, 2015

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins... Ephesians 2:1

Our ability, indeed our predilection to forget the corruption in which we began and lived before the Spirit brought us to Christ, plays a critical role in how we perceive and exalt the Savior. When we diminish that corrupt beginning in our aspect, we diminish as well the role of Christ in our salvation. Redemption, like grace, is of God, not man. The basis of our salvation—the blood of Christ Jesus shed on the cross—and the initiation of that salvation by the convicting Holy Spirit has nothing to do with our supposed goodness, and everything to do with God...

#699: In the Storm

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March 16, 2015

But He said, "You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!" Exodus 33:20

The black, churning clouds are the face of His wrath. The jagged white of the electric pulse is His quick, fearsome might. The thunder echoes His rumbling, intimidating strength. Before His face flies the fierce, gusting wind—the fear of the Lord. His beard—the angry, pounding downpour of rain—is life, but it bruises along the way. It strips branch and leaf, it beats against window and roof, it flattens the bush...