Reflections by the Pond

#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...

#743: Against an Exhaled Pestilence

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January 18, 2016

For there is no truth in their mouth;
their inmost self is destruction;
their throat is an open grave;
they flatter with their tongue.
Psalms 5:9 esv

As King Solomon so wisely yet wearily pointed out, there is nothing new under the sun. Man's behavior, even inventiveness, has been cooked into his DNA from the start, as has his bent toward evil.

There is nothing new about the depravity of this age. There is nothing new about an infantile penchant to shock with repellant behavior and scatological language. There is nothing new about apparent adults behaving and speaking in public as if they were school-age boys in a locker room. If there is anything new today, it is the scope and immediacy of that which is "public"...

#742: Old Devotion

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January 11, 2016

If new faith is to the church a breath of fresh air, old faith is the solid framework that holds it together.

Though the "old" Christian's faith may, at times, lapse into a too-familiar monotony, it is more often than not substantial, and deep. He has spent time with the Lord, and he knows Him well. God's written word is not just a book of wisdom, but a comfortable companion, a guidebook, and friend. He may not know every word, but he knows the sound of God's voice...

#741: Forgetting to Fear

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January 4, 2016

Immersed in the grace, and gracious behavior, of Father God, the Christian can, over time, become anesthetized to His unapproachable holiness. Immersed in grace we forget to fear. The mistake we make is imagining we must choose between the two; we think that in fearing holy God we must relinquish His grace, or that by living under His grace there is no more need of fear. But He meant for both to be qualities in every believer...

#740: Beginning

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December 28, 2015

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."
Revelation 22:13

More often than not, earthly "beginnings" are little more than comforting tent pegs driven into the temporal sod, one more loving embrace of the here and now over the unknown and unseeable. And such things seem inordinately trivial when one is living an eternal life...

#739: Immanuel: 3

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December 21, 2015

Our God has many voices, and He has the right to use any of His choosing—including a shout. More often than not, however, He speaks in the quietness, the softly spoken language of the heart. God need not shout: real power speaks softly. So when we wish to hear what He has to say, it is best to come away from the din of this world, to a quiet place of hushed reverence...

#738: Immanuel: 2

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December 14, 2015

The Holy Spirit, the gift we receive in Christ, is not just a prettily wrapped, all-inclusive package—an attractive ornament we set in a place of honor upon the mantle and, sighing contentedly, mutter, "Wasn't that nice of God to give me this." The Spirit is not a pretty but useless gewgaw, but a golden key who unlocks all the wonder and wealth of heaven even in the here and now. He unlocks every door left bolted to those who reject Christ. He is our umbilical to heaven, feeding us with the nutritious word and mind of God. He is our translator, converting our groans into the language of heaven, then translating God's reply into a language we can understand. He is the comforting hand and impulse of the heavenly Father...

#737: Immanuel

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December 7, 2015

The incarnation of God in the person of Jesus would represent, in two steps, a return to the sweet communion the Godhead first enjoyed with Adam and Eve in the garden. He would first have to do something about our sins. Since Adam's fall, our sin nature had separated us from God. Holy God can have no communion with sin; it is repugnant to Him.

Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, salvation—the once and forever atonement for sin—would be accomplished. Then, as a result, Immanuel would, for those who believe on His name, usher in a renewed period of sweet communion with God. Made possible by Jesus' sacrifice, and implemented by the indwelling Holy Spirit, man would once again enjoy a personal intimacy with the Father.

God with us...