Jottings – Radical Discipleship

Jottings

“So likewise, whoever does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple” Luke 14:33.

To be a disciple of the Lord Jesus, one must forsake all. This is the unmistakable meaning of the words of the Savior. No matter how much we might object to such an “extreme” demand, no matter how much we might rebel against such an “impossible” and “unwise” policy, the fact remains that this is the Word of the Lord, and He means what He says.

William MacDonald, True Discipleship, Port Colborne, ON: Gospel Folio Press, 2003. p. 17.

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The Lord’s Gracious Work Of Restoration

2 Corinthians 5:17

“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’” John 21:15

When believers fall, they sometimes falsely think that their service, usefulness, and preciousness to God the Father are at an end. Thankfully, those who have received Christ by faith have become children in His family, and can never

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‘Leftovers’ or ‘A Galilean Happy Meal In The Hands of The Master’

Lego Fishing

I love to go fishing. When I was a young boy, fishing was the only thing that my father and I did together. There is a fishing story I’d like to share with you.

An older man was seen fishing. While the older man was being observed by the young boy, the older man caught several very large fish. To the amazement of the younger onlooker, the older man threw each fish back. Then, the older man began to catch some smaller fish. Again, to the amazement of the young boy, the older man kept the smaller fish that had been caught!

 

The young boy was so perplexed by the foolish decision of the older man, to throw back the big fishes and keep only the smaller fish, he had to ask the big question; “Why?” When asked, the older man simply answered,

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Entry Level Theological Truth [10]

EarthRecently, the political columnist, Charles Krauthammer wrote a piece entitled, “Are we alone in the universe?” In it he mused over the recent exciting discoveries in astronomy of planets that have similarities to Earth. He noted with sadness, however, that as yet nowhere in the universe have we found sentient thinking beings that are like humans. In his words: “For all the excitement, however, the search betrays a profound melancholy — a lonely species in a merciless universe anxiously awaits an answering voice amid utter silence.”*

 

Plan 9 From Outer Space?

 

This brought two things to my mind. First, the astronomers’ search highlights the uniqueness of planet Earth. It is a place where God has finely tuned conditions to be conducive to plant, animal, and human life. Even accounting for the effects of the Fall and sin upon this world, it is still a planet where – if managed correctly – life may thrive. This is an anomaly in the known universe. Secondly, it draws attention to the fact that in this desire to hear a message outside of planet Earth, modern people so often discount that such a message has already come to Earth. It is not from alien life forms like those imagined by Spielberg and Lucas, but rather originates from the Creator God. As Hebrews 1:1 says, “God, having spoken of old to the fathers in the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us in His Son” (author’s translation.)

Of course, the first three chapters of Genesis show that God verbally reveals Himself to His creatures. He is in the habit of speaking with them since the day He made them. Furthermore, mankind’s very existence was not a divine afterthought. Rather, He fashioned planet Earth with humans in mind, making it a place which by His providence is fruitful and conducive to the development of man’s talents. We see this in the fact that Genesis specifically mentions that there was no man to till the ground (Genesis 2:5-7.) The Almighty always intended for man to work in conjunction with this earth to make it a place of beauty for God’s greater glory. When God created man on the 6th day, He placed him in the garden as a training ground where he could learn skills under the Creator’s tutelage that would enable him to eventually graduate from the garden and proceed to apply these abilities to this globe in its pristine wildness.

 

Failing Out of God’s School

 

Sadly, man failed the chief test in the garden which was loyalty to the Creator as demonstrated by obedience to God’s Word. In spite of that, God has been seeking to save man from spiritual separation that his own rebellion creates. God speaks from the stars, the cells, every flower, and in every rock – all of these things shout at us, “there is a glorious Creator!” One who is powerful and all-wise. One who is faithful and good.

He also speaks to men through their consciences, although they often do not heed and sometimes cause it to be calloused and malfunctioning through their obdurate pursuit of sin. Most of all, God speaks through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the One who fulfilled the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings (Luke 24:27.) What is more, He is the One who through His Holy Spirit has conveyed the teaching of the New Testament to the first century church – a revelation that has been handed down from generation to generation and remains God’s message to man in the 21st century.

 

God Is Speaking Is Anyone Listening?

 

So to Mr. Krauthammer and every inquiring mind who has ever gazed at the skies and wondered if we are alone, God’s Word says that we most certainly are not. There is a Sovereign Lord of the universe who determines the fate of this planet and every other. He is One who so desires a personal relationship with every human being that He sent His Son into this world with the message of His holy love. A message that is embodied in Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, His resurrection in power, His ascension back to glory, and His eventual second coming to Earth. Why not click on an e-Bible today – or if you prefer, pick up a physical copy – and listen to Him today?

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*http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/are-we-alone-in-the-universe/2011/12/29/gIQA2wSOPP_story.html

Photo: NASA

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Christmas Jottings – Jesus

Christmas Jottings

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

 
…and when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS

 

Luke 2:7-14, Luke 2:21a KJV

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Christmas Lessons For Modern Living

Star
A wide array of diverse people appear throughout the Gospel narratives surrounding the nativity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Kings and shepherds, Gentile wise men and Jewish priests, and a number of other completely different kinds of people show up before, during, and after the birth of the Messiah. One way or another, they all provide examples to instruct us – some good and others bad. Mary, Simeon, and Anna highlight three different qualities that every Christian ought to emulate.


Brain Food

In the aftermath of the shepherds’ visit, Luke 2:19 records Mary’s response: “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” The key word to notice is “ponder,” meaning “to give careful consideration to various implications of an issue—‘to reflect on, to think about seriously, to think deeply about.’”* Another commentator adds: “‎Literally, ‘casting together,’ i. e. comparing and considering; like our ‘casting in mind.’ Comp. Genesis 37:11, ‘his father observed the saying.’ She did not at once understand the full significance of all these events.”** To put it slightly differently, she was one who meditated on the things of God, carefully and repeatedly turning truth over in her mind.

The modern world presents many challenges to regular meditation on Christ as He is revealed in the Scriptures. Endless e-mails, interminable texts, intrusive iPhones and a host of other contemporary innovations threaten to distract from what is of ultimate value. The frenetic pace of life on the digital superhighway must not overwhelm our minds. We must assiduously carve out the time to feed on the Christ of the Bible, mentally masticating thoughts concerning His person and work.


Purposeful Waiting

Like Mary, Simeon gives modern believers a valuable and practical lesson worthy of imitation. He is described as “…waiting for the Consolation of Israel…” (Luke 2:25.) “The Consolation of Israel” is rightly capitalized in the New King James Version for it is a Messianic title. Simeon was not merely awaiting an event such as world peace or heavenly glory, he was expecting a person. As David Gooding explains:

The delightful term ‘consolation of Israel’ suggests that his expectation was based on the programme enunciated in such passages as Isaiah 40ff. He was looking for the day when Israel’s warfare and chastisement would be over, and God would ‘comfort his people’. Nor was Simeon narrowly concerned simply for the future of Israel. Basing himself again on Isaiah’s predictions (e.g. Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6 etc.) he foresaw the time when the light of God’s salvation would spread to the very ends of the earth (see Luke 2:31-32).***

In other words, he was looking forward to the Lord’s coming. Likewise, Christians today ought to eagerly anticipate the coming of Christ – this time He returns to receive His people to Himself (John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.) Is this our daily focus and earnest hope? May the Holy Spirit stir us to long for the Lord’s coming like Simeon of old.


Spread The Word

The third of our nativity role models, Anna, demonstrates the great privilege of believers to proclaim the good news of Christ. She “…spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38.) The glad tidings of Christmas are that the Son of God took on human flesh in order to give His life as a sacrifice for sin so that God His Father could reconcile sinful and fallen mankind to Himself. Anna was an excellent example of an ambassador for Christ, faithfully discharging the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21.) Like her, we must share the good news with those we meet.

Mary, Simeon, and Anna remind us of the ongoing impact that the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ have upon our lives. Such truths go beyond mere sentimentality and must form the bedrock of our behavior. We must meditate on the Word while we wait for the Lord Jesus to return, and speak of Him to those that we meet.

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*Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. New York: United Bible Societies, 1996, pp. 349f.

**F.W. Farrar, The Gospel According to St Luke, With Maps, Notes and Introduction. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1891, p. 70.

***D.W. Gooding, According to Luke. pp. 55f. Electronic ed., accessed here: Key Bible Concepts on 3/29/11.

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Christmas Jottings – Heavenly Host

Christmas Jottings

Referring to Luke 2:13-14

 

…so when the Herald-Angle had spoken, a multitude of heaven’s host stood forth to hymn the good tidings he had brought. What they sang was but the reflex of what had been announced.

 

It told in the language of praise the character, the meaning, the result, of what had taken place. Heaven took up the strain of ‘glory’; earth echoed it as ‘peace’; it fell on the ears and hearts of men as ‘good pleasure’

 

Glory to God in the Highest-
And upon earth peace-
Among men good pleasure!

Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus The Messiah, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody, MA, 1993. p. 132. Originally published in 1883.

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Christmas Jottings – Shepherds

Christmas Jottings

Regarding Luke 2:15

 
“To all this the shepherds gave the response of faith. They did not say, ‘Let us go… and see if this thing is come to pass,’ but ‘see this thing which is come to pass.’ They came with haste and saw the Babe with their own eyes; then they bore testimony to others. They could then say, ‘God has said it, and we have seen it.'”

F B Hole, The Gospels and Acts, Central Bible Hammond Trust Limited, Northumberland. p. 142.

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Christmas Jottings – Anna

Christmas Jottings

Regarding Luke 2:38

 
“This aged woman, becomes one of the first evangelists of the new age, saying, ‘I have seen the Saviour. He has come–the One who is to bring redemption.”

H A Ironside, Addresses On The Gospel Of Luke, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, NJ. p. 77.

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Christmas Jottings – Simeon

Christmas Jottings

Regarding Luke 2:29

 
“What is it that can enable a mortal man to use such language as this? What can deliver us from that ‘fear of death’ to which so many are in bondage? What can take the sting of death away?

 
There is but one answer to such questions. Nothing but strong faith can do it. Faith laying firm hold on an unseen Saviour,—faith resting on the promises of an unseen God,—faith, and faith only, can enable a man to look death in the face, and say, ‘I depart in peace.'”

J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke, Vol. 1. New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1879, pp. 67f.

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