Reflections by the Pond

#658: The Symphony of Common Love

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June 2, 2014

I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the Lord;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
O magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
Psalms 34:1-3

Over the centuries the metaphor of church worship has become distorted. The narcissism of the corporate body has created a theatre-like setting, in which those on the stage or platform are performing for (that is, attempting to please and impress) the audience in the pews. The soloist sings to produce applause, the choir sings to produce approval and praise, and the preacher crescendos into his three points to produce a rousing chorus of "Amen!"

This is nothing more than hay and straw...

#657: Expressing our Love

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May 26, 2014

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”
Matthew 22:36-38

Expressing our devotion to holy God is the root and essence of worship. By its very nature it is directed upward—only. Any benefits accrued to the worshiper are irrelevant in pure worship, and are there only by the grace and generosity of a loving heavenly Father. Direct worship does not include thanksgiving, testimony or entreaty, for all these include reference to ourselves. Distilled, unadulterated worship looks only upward to the throne of God...

#656: Blessed Poverty

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May 19, 2014

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 5:3

To be "poor in spirit" is to understand that in ourselves we are utterly unworthy before God, deserving nothing, but that through Christ we are granted the right to stand before Him with confidence. To be poor in this world is to have an empty purse; to be spiritually poor is to have one's heart filled with God...

#655: Remembering

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May 12, 2014

Indeed, while following the way of Your judgments, O Lord,
We have waited for You eagerly;
Your name, even Your memory, is the desire of our souls.
Isaiah 26:8

Chances are very good that the Christian will not literally forget about Jesus. Even if the feeble gray cells of the human brain should fail, the believer always retains the persistent Spirit—that gracious Nagger. He is the permanent brand that marks each believer as belonging to Christ, and forever links our spirit to His.

But just as the war-lonely sailor can find solace in the arms of an inferior substitute for the sweetheart left behind, the Christian can gravitate toward more familiar and immediate temporal comforts, thus blunting the connecting work of the Spirit. After all, we are still people made of flesh, for whom "seeing is believing," and to those of us still treading this muddy plane God the Father, Son and Spirit remain invisible...

#654: Forgiveness

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May 5, 2014

If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.
Psalms 130:3-4

Look to the cross. What immeasurable strength it took, what force of will, for the Son of God to yield to the weaker will of human flesh! Jesus Christ had at His command the very forces of heaven, yet He permitted mere humans to have their way with Him. He could have called down the fierce wrath of God the Father upon those who dared to drive spikes through Him, pinning Him to the tree.

But He didn't. Instead Jesus demonstrated mercy. With His blood still dripping into Golgotha's barren soil, He forgave...

#653: A Life Set Apart

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April 28, 2014

Let not thine heart strive after sinners,
But after the fear of Jahve [Jehovah] all the day.
Proverbs 23:17 Keil & Delitzsch

As a rule, age begets reason. The follies of childhood and youth are, happily, concentrated on the resilient young. So those who survive past middle age have acquired the good sense (or is it curmudgeonly indifference) to withstand the Siren song of the latest fad, the latest fashion, the latest "new thing."

Most septuagenarians do not lose sleep over the realization that more than one person considers them to be half a bubble off plumb. But the average high school girl may break out in hives if she discovers she is outside the mainstream...

#652: Known

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April 21, 2014

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother's womb.
Psalms 139:13

Before there was a zygote that would nine months later be given our name, the Lord, Jehovah, knew us so well that He could record in His journal every day, every event, every joy and sorrow of our life not yet begun.

The follower of Christ is not just saved, he is loved. That means that all three members of the Godhead—Father, Son and Spirit—know us inside and out, and are working together for our good. Far more than that, however, they are at work in our lives for Their ultimate glory...

#651: Painting Over the Inconvenient

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April 14, 2014

For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Romans 1:25

The contemporary acceptance of homosexuality as something perfectly normal is just one example of how we have painted over the truth of Eden. Heterosexuals have done much the same thing with divorce and carnality; the church has done it by loosening the standards by which leaders and elders are selected; society as a whole has done it by so easily winking at deceit and corruption. When our sins become too burdensome, instead of repenting we just change the definition of sin. Soon there will be no sin left; we will all have evolved—by mutual acclimation—into perfect little angels...

#650: What We Know

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April 7, 2014

Wisdom shouts in the street,
"How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded?
And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing
And fools hate knowledge?"
Proverbs 1:20a,22

One cannot truly love and obey what one does not know. Indeed, it is by knowing Jesus that we love Him. When we learn not just that He "died for our sins," but the true depth and meaning of that sacrifice; His absolute devotion to each of His followers as advocate, friend and brother; His true personality—not defined by Hollywood and the ignorant, but by His word; His relationship to the Father and the Spirit—then and only then are we able to love Him and dedicate our lives to Him...

#649: Living Water

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March 31, 2014

"Be appalled, O heavens, at this,
And shudder, be very desolate," declares the Lord.
"For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns,
Broken cisterns,
That can hold no water."
Jeremiah 2:12-13

It is a convulsive, seismic event in the universe when a people turns away from God. Just as there is rejoicing in heaven when just one individual turns away from a life of sin to embrace the Lord, its foundations tremble when His chosen people forsake Him....