Reflections by the Pond

#753: Life With Him

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March 28, 2016

"I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you..."
Hebrews 13:5b

The human mind has a difficult time wrapping itself around the resurrection and the events that followed. On one level, we must abandon our inherent disbelief regarding the very concept of bodily resurrection—that someone who has thoroughly and completely died could come back to life. On another level, we struggle to grasp that that body, though corporeal, might still pass through walls and closed doors, and instantaneously be in one place and then another. On yet another level, after we finally accept the truth of the first two, we are then left wondering why Jesus, now raised from the dead and having fulfilled His reason for coming, would linger on earth forty more days. Putting ourselves in His position, we imagine we would have wasted no time racing back to heaven, and sweet reunion with the Father.

But then, we are not God...

#752: Life Without Him

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March 21, 2016

And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away. And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave.
Matthew 27:59-61

We look upon the death and resurrection of Christ as an epochal, historic moment—a turning point in God's relationship with man. We see it from the hazy distance of two millennia: a moment of great import, yet one that often takes second place to the tyranny of the immediate. We gather together and proclaim the truth of Christ's atoning death on the cross; we gladly declare it to be both historical and doctrinal truth. We rightly worship a Savior who would sacrifice Himself for fallen man. Our hearts fill with gratitude and praise for one so unselfish and kind—then, come Monday morning, we get back to our "real" lives: back to the factory, the office, the children, housecleaning and laundry...

#751: Beast of Burden

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March 14, 2016

"Say to the daughter of Zion,
'Behold your king is coming to you,
Gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'"
Matthew 21:5

Here is the anguished poetry of heaven. Christ Jesus, to illustrate for the crowds His true nature and calling, rode a humble beast of burden into the city of Jerusalem. But at the cross, He Himself became a "beast of burden" when He bore on the cross the load of sin for all humanity...

#750: Not Just Words

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March 7, 2016

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

The Christian life, by reputation and in fact, is based on faith in Christ Jesus and belief of the written word of God. To be a Christian one must believe both: if one's faith is based on a Jesus not found in Scripture, then that faith is in vain, and one cannot believe God's word without believing as well in Jesus the Christ, who is the principal character from beginning to end. Both are essential components of Christian faith.

But faith does not stop there. It is based on more than just believing in the ancient atoning sacrifice of a Savior, and the words in an even more ancient book that speaks of Him. Faith is more than a sterile, determined belief-system—it is active and real, it is existential...

#749: The Path of Life

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February 29, 2016

I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Psalms 16:8

For Jesus—and because of Him, for all of us—after the grave there will be only the fullest measure of joy with the Father. This is the path of life for the Son, as well as for all who believe: we are not abandoned at the grave; it is only the door opening onto paradise. And ultimately, even the physical is restored. For us there will come a day when that weak and dying earthly body that did decay will be replaced by one new and eternal...

#748: Surprising Things

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February 22, 2016

The most crooked tree will make timber for the temple,
if God be pleased to hew it.
Thomas Fuller

One of the more remarkable discoveries made by reading through the Bible is how a perfect, holy God repeatedly uses rather ordinary, imperfect people to accomplish His plan for this earth. In fact, one may deduce from Scripture that it is God's chosen method to employ the most disreputable, conniving, contemptible characters He can find.

Few professions are as low as that of the prostitute, yet one of the surprises discovered in the Bible is that God chose to include one in the family line that would lead directly to a lowly stable in Bethlehem...

#747: Being Good

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February 15, 2016

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you."
Psalms 16:1-2 ESV

The standard of "good" in the economy of a holy God is perfection. Do you want to be declared good by God? Then be perfect, as God is perfect. Do you want to go to heaven, rather than hell? Then be perfect, as God is perfect. And, at this point, the average person on the street throws up his hands and shouts, "What's the point? That's impossible!"

Exactly.

#746: Things They Never Taught Me in School

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February 8, 2016

When we merely say that we are bad, the "wrath” of God seems a barbarous doctrine; as soon as we perceive our badness, it appears inevitable, a mere corollary from God's goodness.
C.S. Lewis

When asked to give His name, God told Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." Swimming freely through the full depth of that succinct description (for it is a description), is the tacit recommendation that we not try to change who God is. He is everywhere, He holds everything in His hand, and He does not depend on the fantastical imagination, or context, of His created ones for definition.

Those who take the time to read of Him may be surprised by some of the things God has said and done. For no matter what decade or century crafted one's image of the Almighty, He is at once none and all of the above. What we do know of Him is little more than a thimbleful in the ocean of His personality, and what we don't know of Him can be shocking—even scandalous to moderns...

#745: The Thorn

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February 1, 2016

Arise, O Lord, do not let man prevail;
Let the nations be judged before You.
Put them in fear, O Lord;
Let the nations know that they are but men. Selah.
Psalms 9:19-20

Why do we rage against our trials? Why do we struggle so against our infirmities, our restraints?

Man, self-centered and narcissistic by birth, perceives the thorns of life from only one perspective, one direction: he sees only their inward thrust. They inflict discomfort, disruption of goals, frustration, agonizing pain. The thorn punctures the outer defenses and it hurts, and he rebels against the utter unfairness and inconvenience of its assault...

#744: Forgiving Grace

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January 25, 2016

Too many Christians restrict the scope of God's grace to His one-time grace exhibited at the cross. It is true that we came to Christ the first time utterly devoid of worth; there was nothing at all within us that could merit salvation. Because of this, our salvation required God’s grace—His unmerited kindness or favor. But why should we think that after that moment of first grace we now do merit His favor?

The relationship of grace does not change. Before we came to Christ we did not deserve God's grace, and after even decades of walking with Him, we remain undeserving...

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