Reflections by the Pond

#663: Wonderment

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July 7, 2014

As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, "Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!"
Mark 13:1

The very universe will be renewed; every star in the night sky will fall, time itself will be altered, the earth will be destroyed then remade, and a brand new Jerusalem will descend upon it from the sky. And other than the eternal souls of believers, the only thing that will be carried over from the old earth to the next is the word of God.

And that is something truly wonderful...

#662: Nothing But Faith

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June 30, 2014

Then his servants came near and spoke to [Naaman] and said, "My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean'?"
2 Kings 5:13

Here is the stumbling block for the unregenerate. The rules of this fallen world dictate that something must be paid for, either by sweat or by wallet, to be of any value. If salvation is to be of any worth, it must be earned. But this means that it would then be all about us:

Look what I did for my salvation! Aren't I something! And since I did so much more than you—since it cost me so much more than what you paid—then my salvation must be better than yours.

But God's salvation—His healing from sin—is free. It costs us nothing but faith.

Salvation is not about us. Salvation is all about God. He is the one doing everything; it is He doing all the giving...

#661: Living It

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June 23, 2014

On the first of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, because the good hand of his God was upon him. For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.
Ezra 7:9b-10

Believers do not grow in Christ-likeness by just believing that the Bible is truly God's word; they grow in Christ-likeness by studying the Bible, understanding what it says, immersing themselves in the truth of what God has written for them personally in its pages. The Christian's goal should be to please God, to glorify Him through personal obedience to Him. But how can we do that if we do not know what He says?

#660: Koinonia

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June 16, 2014

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. 1 John 5:1

True Christian love for a brother or sister is the biblical concept of fellowship. The Greek word behind most occurrences of the word is koinonia—which means a partnership, a participation in another's life. Something far deeper and more profound than chatting over a potluck dinner, discussing the weather or last week's football scores, the concept of koinonia describes two or more people who have made an investment in each other's lives based on their mutual love for the Lord...

#659: Building on Our Own

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June 9, 2014

Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."
Haggai 1:5-6 NIV

We too are a people consumed with self. It is in our DNA to look after ourselves, to enrich ourselves, to glorify ourselves before anyone else—much less a God we cannot see or touch.

But the lesson repeatedly emphasized in His written word is that when we try do it on our own, failure or an unforeseen consequence is inevitably the result. By contrast, when we seek God not after we have failed, but first; when we bow before His superior wisdom and will; when we acknowledge Him as Lord; seeking His good, His exaltation, His glory rather than our own—when we are safely in the will of our heavenly Father, then the Lord opens His generous, loving heart to meet our every need...

#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...