Contemplations At The Crossroad

Jan. 5, 2021

 

“Then Simeon blessed them and said to His mother Mary: “Behold, this Child is appointed to cause the rise and fall of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed - and a sword will pierce your soul as well.” Luke 2:34,35.

Thoughts, contemplations for post Christmas days. It’s Epiphany Eve: The story doesn’t end on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The holiday used to be carefully observed through January 6, traditionally observing the arrival of the magi to worship Christ. 

Maybe we could also focus on for awhile and ponder the one into whose care God entrusted His Son as an unborn child, an infant, and as a child and young man growing up.

Mary, chosen by God, in giving God her “yes” to Gabriel's announcement to her, became the provider of the flesh and blood body of Jesus the Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. God incarnated through Mary, in other words, becoming both fully God and fully Man. 

While she would have known the joys of being our Lord and Savior's mother, as His life and ministry unfolded, and He was loved and received by many, how grievous it must have been for her to watch as He was also "despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief”! (Isaiah 53:3) He taught with divine authority and wisdom, and loved, miraculously healed, and fed people. He drove out demons. What consternation it must have brought, especially as she saw respected religious leaders denounce Him! Even some among His own family rejected Him.

She stood at the foot of the cross, and watched her Son crucified as a criminal, set up by the same religious leaders in league with the state, as a traitor to Rome, as they mockingly called Him the King of the Jews. Did she comprehend what that moment actually was? (Do any of us really?) Even then, in His love, in His agony, from the cross, not thinking of Himself, with His dying breath, He placed her into the care of John (the only disciple who followed Him to the cross). His last concern was for His mother, even as He accomplished Redemption for all mankind. 

What joy must have filled and healed her pain pierced, grief stricken heart when she beheld Him raised from the dead three days later! 

And there she was, also in that upper room on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:14) - to be filled with the Holy Spirit, along with about 120 other disciples, who were devoting themselves to prayer and waiting there, as they were told. She essentially vanishes from the Scripture canon thereafter. 

Martin Luther had some amazing things to say about Mary: "She is the highest woman and the noblest gem in Christianity after Christ . . . She is nobility, wisdom, and holiness personified. We can never honor her enough. Still honor and praise must be given to her in such a way as to injure neither Christ nor the Scriptures." (Sermon, Christmas, 1531) 

What an outstanding and magnificent exemplar Mary is for all women to emulate in the Church - the very essence of selflessness, purity, humility, and unconditional surrender to God. She is someone with whom especially the young women of today would do well to become acquainted and to study her attitude and way of life. 

She truly embodies being a servant of all, as she bore within her own body the One Who truly is the Servant of us all - in His incarnation and life and teachings, in His death, His Resurrection, and His ascension - as even now He is seated at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for sinners, having been given all authority in Heaven and on Earth.

Would it be an appropriate stretch of the imagination - when receiving the Lord’s Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist - to recall His precious Mother, and give thanks for her, without whom our Holy Savior would never have been given to us who receive Him?

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Dec. 29, 2020
 
Solutions? Is it just a matter of simply getting back "old normal"? What authority determines for you that God isn't behind EVERYTHING that the world now faces and is going through, as HIS means of getting us to HIS NORMAL? The old normal - according to our standards and comfort zone "requirements" - is gone. What is now here is not normal. But might it be transitional?
 
There's a side of God that the soft cheap grace believers of today don't want to acknowledge. But He will be and is already revealing Himself in that way, a different side of Himself as GOD, not just my personal Bible study buddy. It might be called Divine Tough Love for salvaging adopted sons and daughters of the Most High in Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son.
 
The forge. The crucible. The kiln for transforming cracked pots into worthy vessels. Emptying us of what does not matter of forms and fantasies and foolishness. So that we can be filled with His very Light, Presence, and be made the Righteousness of God! Out with the bad, in with the good. Jesus Christ came to destroy the works fo the devil and to bring many sons to glory.
 
A new idea? Or just one that's gotten lost, forgotten?
 
God is holy! "But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases." Psalm 115:3. A God who is only love, and love according to personal standards, is an idol, an image created in one's own likeness. The "have it your way" Jesus.
 
"Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; Their foot shall slip in due time; For the day of their calamity is at hand, And the things to come hasten upon them. For the Lord will judge His people And have compassion on His servants, When He sees that their power is gone, And there is no one remaining, bond or free. He will say: Where are their gods, The rock in which they sought refuge? Who ate the fat of their sacrifices, And drank the wine of their drink offering? Let them rise and help you, And be your refuge. Now see that I, even I, am He, And there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal." Deuteronomy 32:36-39.
 
“Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up." Hosea 6:1
 
"The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up." 1 Samuel 2:6
 
"For he wounds, but he binds up; he shatters, but his hands heal." Job 5:18
 
Sometimes it seems we're more in league with Peter right after hearing about his Master's upcoming suffering and resurrection. "Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Found in Matthew 16:21-25.
 
Somehow the chief apostle seemed unable to see past the crucifixion into the resurrection. No, THIS cannot be happening! Yet... "To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1.
 
The question then is, what time is it, from a heavenly and celestial point of view? Maybe it's time to, "Therefore, since you have been raised with Christ, strive for the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." Colossians 3:1-3.
 
There may be a long voyage ahead. Let's chart the course according to the Daystar Himself, the spiritual North Star. "Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, REDEEMING THE TIME, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is." Ephesians 5:15-17.
 

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Dec. 27, 2020
 
 
Bold Itlaicized by T. Austin-Sparks:
"God Hath Spoken". Chapter 4.
Comments below by yours tuly.
 
"God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV)
 
"The principle of the New Covenant is a first-hand individual revelation of Christ as the knowledge of God in terms of glory in the heart of the believer. Every individual believer only comes into true Christianity by a revelation of Christ in his or her heart, so that the knowledge of Christ is all their own, and as real as when God commanded light to shine in darkness. But that is not all. That shining must be progressive. Christ is far too vast to be seen in more than minute degrees at any one time. The bulk of the New Testament is taken up with getting Christians to see what an immense realm it is into which they have come, and how they must go on... Christianity can only be kept living and fresh and full of impact as Christians are living in an ever-growing apprehension of Christ as the Holy Spirit reveals Him in the heart.
 
"This apprehension may only come as necessity is laid upon us by reason of suffering and trial. Capacity will increase by the stretching of suffering (see Hebrews 12, and read "child-training" for "chastening"). There is no succession in Christianity other than that of the revelation of Christ to the heart by the Holy Spirit. It is not a system to be perpetuated, but a Life to be possessed. The value of the Scriptures is that they contain depths and fullnesses which have never yet been fathomed; and when we speak of "revelation" we do not mean anything extra to them, but of that which is in them, but only known by the inward "writing" and "shining" of the Holy Spirit.... A thing can be in the Bible, and we can have read it a thousand times, but until the Holy Spirit makes it Life to us it will be unfruitful. Hence, there is a place and need for an inward revelation of the Word of God, and this is the only true succession. Nothing can be preserved alive through generations save as every one entering its realm does so on the basis of such a personal, inward, living, and growing revelation of the truth, so that the origin and beginning is constantly repeated in experience."
 
What makes the difference between dead religion and a living relationship with Christ? It is well summarized by 2 sentences from this post: "There is no succession in Christianity other than that of the revelation of Christ to the heart by the Holy Spirit. It is not a system to be perpetuated, but a Life to be possessed."
 
How little the Holy Spirit seems to get His just due, even though the creed is confessed of Him, "... Who with the Father and Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spoke by the prophets..." Yet He is the One Who makes it all real to us!
 
That word "revelation" may trouble some people, as if to expect some sort of dramatic woo woo once in a lifetime moment. Ordinarily, however, it's FAITH gradually unfolding Christ to us more and more. Faith and growth and understanding and spiritual fruition can only come from the Holy Spirit through hearing the Word of Christ.
 
Lord, open our ears, and grant to your people such increase in our hearing You during these troubling times and as we enter 2021. Increase in us also Your own strength, the will, and wherewithal to pick up our cross and follow You, as we set our minds in heavenly places. Amen.
 

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Dec. 18, 2020

 

Maybe its time to social distance from social media for awhile. I'm convinced that our minds were not created to be given over to relentless drama. I’m at the point where I don't want to hear it, see it, or add to it. That's not denial; it's so I can not only get through reality, but actually thrive in the midst of what is taking place, Lord willing, and even spiritually and creatively transcend it. 

Propaganda works best by getting buy in from participants, especially when it's as loud, frequent, jumbled, and fragmented as it's been for the last… 12 years. 

And everyone has a different story. Divide and divide and divide… "Solve et coagulum?" 

Time to leave that theater and shut it down. I'm becoming convinced that the more we stare into the abyss, the more its gaze penetrates us - like a big cobra, a serpent. Imagine that. It starts by emotional and mental absorption. Next up it erodes the will of the gazer, swooning, falling… Trapped.

Psalm 37:34 promises, "Wait on the Lord, And keep His way, And He shall exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it." There's a lot of hope in this, if we can receive it. The commands and promises of our Lord are more important for building hope and maintaining the faith muscle right now than ever before. The entire Psalm 37 is excellent in this regard. It's a strong reminder about Who is actually in charge.

Consider why where we focus is so important. According to Romans 15:4, "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." 

It's one of the three that abide per 1 Corinthians 13 - faith, HOPE, and love. While love is the greatest, I don't think we talk enough about hope. Not the false hopes of the world, but the rock solid hope that is extended to us by the love of God in Jesus Christ, Who came to redeem us lost and condemned creatures and restore in us His own likeness.

Part of that hope is to understand the purpose of the tough and challenging times upon us. "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:17,18. 

Ah, now faith too comes into view, being tied to hope. It sees what is not yet, but what is promised and hoped for!

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12.

Hope seems to be at a premium lately, but maybe that's because we're always scrutinizing the monsters that demolish it. So maybe we can admonish and encourage one another instead to look patiently to the comfort of the Scriptures, specifically to the Gospel. It's not called Good News for nothing. This life will end. This world will end. The darkness will also end with it, and I think we need to hear that! So what comes after that is vitally important.

We can point each other to God's promises. I've found these to be greatly encouraging for a long time, but especially now as times of unprecedented darkness enshroud the whole world and the Church. 

We're not going to be exempted from going through what's already here! Most of us have not experienced this in the USA, unless we escaped tyranny in another country where the darkness has already overwhelmed those lands. 

So might it be time to light a candle of hope and encouragement, rather than bemoan and curse the darkness?

It's time to learn to set our mind and hope on things above where Christ is seated (See Colossians 3:1-4. You can look up that one yourself, as well as the "THEREFORE" that follows in verse 5 and beyond.) 

It's coming down to it that soon there will be little in terms of "happiness" in this temporary world upon which to fix any hope. The props are going off the stage, and there's a new act to be played out. 

Let’s remember - the Church and what we call the New Testament were birthed in the midst of great oppression and persecution. Dare we think that as the beginning, so the end because of the stakes and who's got a pony in the race? 

Every era has produced conflict since the beginning of time. Relentlessly. It seems that the fruit of the Vine is produced by seasons of pruning.

There are godly reasons which provide meaning to our current afflictions, reminders that they're actually preparing us to receive that eternal weight of glory that cannot be taken away from us in Christ Jesus. 

Nothing in this life is permanent. At times we're asked to go through confusion and conflict. The good times do not roll on forever. Believe it or not, there's a purpose. 

I'll stop now this with a link to a video that I think provides some answers, about what in the world is going on for Heaven's sake. It's called The Great Divide Has Begun.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgS70xPoaVM

May you be blessed. 

Hailing frequency closed.

 

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Nov. 28, 2020

 

Here's where I'm at with the political reality show:

"The wicked have drawn the sword And have bent their bow,To cast down the poor and needy, To slay those who are of upright conduct. Their sword shall enter their own heart, And their bows shall be broken." Ps 37:14,15.

That has always been the problem, but all who are called by His Name rely on God's promises about how it will turn out. God's got this! He's taken care of it before and He always will. He does not change. Nor does His word. There are major and minor trouble makers. But blessed are the peacemakers! The first order of business is where to pull away the focus and where to place it. Has God redeemed us from the kingdom of darkness, and translated us into His kingdom of Light, or not? Where do you live, spiritually speaking?

What is somewhat disturbing is believers who keep talking about the annihilation of mankind. Think about that. If this is so, then Christ’s words are null and void that, according to Matthew 16:18, that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. The church is made up of human beings. If humankind is gone, and there are no more human beings, then there’s no church. But that is not what Christ tells us. So, such dark claims are patently antichrist! They deny His truth, His promise. 

Therefore...

"Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help." Ps 146:3.

The other thing not to trust in is folks who think they "have a word from the Lord" that applies to the political figures of our time. So called prophets. Caution! Where's the word of repentance? That ALWAYS accompanied what the prophets of old had to say, upon careful examination of Scripture... God's discipline is involved or His judgments. What is spoken by one who claims to prophesy is to be carefully weighed (1 Corinthians 14:29). (Another subject for another day.)

"And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not take lightly the discipline of the Lord, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastises every son He receives.” Endure suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you do not experience discipline like everyone else, then you are illegitimate children and not true sons." Hebrews 12:5-8.

God sometimes has His own brand of tough love. We don't hear about that too much these days. He’s in the business of bringing many sons fo glory! It's mostly "I want my rights. I want my good times.” Who doesn’t? But there’s a time and purpose for everything under Heaven. 

Christ says, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33,34.

Priority! It’s always the same, in any time or season. What to seek first!

"Do not fret over those who do evil; do not envy those who do wrong For they wither quickly like grass and wilt like tender plants. Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart." Ps 37:1-4.

Where to prioritize and focus?

"This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. LISTEN TO HIM!" Mt 17:5b. (Caps - my focus)

"On many past occasions and in many different ways, God spoke to our fathers through the prophets. But in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe." Hebrews 1:1,2.

That’s a pretty impressive CV, don’t you think? Universe making. Creature redeeming. Who among politicians or prophets (legit or otherwise!) can claim any of that? Who keeps all His promises?

Here’s something the Apostle Paul exhorts us to think about:

"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory

"Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all

"Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do

"But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." Colossians 3:1-17.

Seek... put off... put on. All those places where it says "therefore"? Those are good places to stop and ask what it's there for.

It may be that this is a huge wake up call to participate in Christ, to participate in our salvation more fully than ever before, as we keep on asking, seeking, and knocking for the Holy Spirit. It’s not something we can do on our own! Advent is an especially "Advent-agious" time for this reminder.

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from that time and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of Hosts will accomplish this." Isaiah 9:6,7.

The political reality show pulls us away from the work our Lord would do in us, and through us, onto things that are destined to pass away. Each of us needs to prayerfully discern and determine what our involvement needs to be in it.

This too shall pass.

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