Reflections by the Pond

#791: Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne

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December 19, 2016

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.
John 1:10-11

From the very beginning He was unwelcome, but He came anyway. Having made us, Jesus knew well His creation. He was not surprised. If Jesus had been only human, He might have pushed back: He might have insisted on a more extravagant birth, a more cosmopolitan hometown, a more befitting reception.

But, being God, He understood the stakes...

#790: As With Gladness Men of Old

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December 12, 2016

As the believer's eternal life in Christ plays out on earth, as he sojourns in a foreign land upon the upward glide-slope toward heaven, the passion, the devotion, the giving, the worship—all work together to make him into a new creature. Thus the last step from earth to bliss, that one more step from darkness into the glories of his true home, bring the believer at last into the presence of his Lord and Savior.

And faith that began in the muck of a lowly stable is brought to fruition in a place where glory need not be imagined, where no clouds obscure our view of the Holy One...

#789: "Bring my soul out of prison!"

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December 5, 2016

The cry of every human being on the face of this earth should be, "Bring my soul out of prison!" Every person is born behind bars. We are not born good and innocent, then turn bad as we grow up because of external influences. No, we are born depraved and locked inside the prison built by the lord of all flesh: Satan. We come into this world his, and it is a miserable existence...

#788: You Are What You Worship

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November 28, 2016

The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
The work of men's hands.
They have mouths, but they do not speak;
Eyes they have, but they do not see;
They have ears, but they do not hear;
Nor is there any breath in their mouths.
Those who make them are like them;
So is everyone who trusts in them.
Psalms 135:15-18 NKJV

We are what we worship. Give homage to the darkness of a fallen world and you will become one with it. Give honor and glory to very God and you will become His child.

#787: Thanksgiving: In Everything

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November 21, 2016

Why does beauty—especially that of nature—lead us into thoughts of God? Perhaps it is because of that deep and mystical yearning with which we are born: that yearning to commune with our Maker and Lord. As the heart and mind are drawn to earthly beauty, the spirit is drawn to a beautiful God.

Perfection is pleasing to the eye, and God is perfect. And even into this fallen world God has poured the essence of His perfect beauty. In every tree, every flower, every grain of sand on the ocean beach dwells some portion of a perfect God's beauty. In the small things we see the intimate qualities of His personality; in the larger things we see the grandeur of His royal throne.

And in everything we see His beauty.

And for everything we give Him thanks...

#786: Thanksgiving: Rainbow Colors

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November 14, 2016

Here in the midlands of the United States the colors of Thanksgiving are warm: trees painted deep, radiant oranges and yellows, burnished umber and glowing reds. It is a time of harvest, with mounds of orange pumpkins, variegated winter squash, fields an endless stream of yellowed and parchment-dry corn waiting to be gathered in.

One cannot dwell in a land of such bounty without giving thanks. The beauty and abundance of the harvest lift us out of ourselves to express appreciation for a God so generous and kind.

But as we lift our gaze heavenward, does not our thanksgiving flow naturally into praise, and then, as we contemplate the character and holiness of a God who would so graciously pour out His blessings upon us, does not our praise rise higher, even into worship?

#785: A Time to Pause

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November 7, 2016

As the warm nostalgia of autumn fades into the steely clarity of winter, our thoughts turn inward. So much of the Christian life is process; so much of it is just paying attention. What good is our stumbling, if we never look back to understand why we tripped? What good is a victory, if it doesn't leave us more humble? What good is life itself, if tomorrow doesn't find us better than we were the day before?

#784: A Very "Different" Messiah

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October 31, 2016

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Because He did not come in power and might, Israel rejected Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. He came to this world by means of a grubby, smelly stable—a peasant born in peasant surroundings. His teaching was, for the most part, rural; Jesus trod the dusty roads of Judea, speaking to common people and leading a rather motley, unkempt group of disciples. He did nothing to ingratiate Himself to the power elite; He did nothing to overthrow Roman tyranny; and He died an excruciating, humiliating death. This, in the eyes of Israel's religious leaders, could not possibly have been the promised Messiah or Prophet...

#782: "Where are You?"

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October 17, 2016

Wrapped in this ungainly flesh it is easy to forget how sweet are the hours spent with Him, those cool, refreshing moments of communion in which we share our lives with Him, and He shares His with us. These are moments of revival, of reawakening. Yet our flesh would pull us away from that, away from the blithe innocence we enjoy in His company...