Musings for May 2018

MUSING – May 13 2018

THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH

 

1 John 5:9-13
         ‘If we accept the testimony of men, then the testimony of God is greater. For this is the testimony of God, which is greater: that he has testified about his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God, holds the testimony of God within himself.

         Whoever does not believe in the Son, makes him a liar, because he does not believe in the testimony which God has testified about his Son. And this is the testimony which God has given to us: Eternal Life. And this Life is in his Son.

         Whoever has the Son, has Life. Whoever does not have the Son, does not have Life. I am writing this to you, so that you may know that you have Eternal Life: you who believe in the name of the Son of God.”

 

         Being a witness it’s a serious matter. So serious that it is one of the ten commandments*. Indeed it could never be my work against yours. There had to be at least two witness** to determine the truth.

         At least twice Jesus claimed to be the Messiah of God.*** And twice the Jewish leaders tried to stone him because he claimed to be God.****

         So we have Jesus’s testimony about himself. Now add God’s testimony that Jesus is his Son.*****

          Now who do you testify that he is? Before you answer that read the words of Jesus, “Therefore, everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father, who is in heaven. But whoever will have denied me before men, I also will deny before my Father, who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33)

 

*Exodus 20:16

**Deuteronomy 19:15-20

***Matt 16:15-17 & John 4:25-26

****John 8:63-59 & John 10:32-42

*****Matt 3:17 & Matt 17:5

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – May 12 2018

CHRIST’S COMMANDMENTS

1 John 2:3-4
         “We are sure that we know Christ if we obey his commandments.  The person who says, “I know him,” but doesn’t obey his commandments is a liar. The truth isn’t in that person.”

 

What are His commanders? Here are a few.

Repent – Matthew 4:17
Follow Me – Matthew 4:19

Rejoice when criticized – Matthew 5:11–12
Do visible good works – Matthew 5:16
Make amends – Matthew 5:23–25
Avoid sinful thoughts – Matthew 5:28–30
Be honest – Matthew 5:37
Turn the other cheek –  Matthew 5:38–42
Love Your Enemies – Matthew 5:44–46
Be Perfect – Matthew 5:46–48
Don’t seek recognition – Matthew 6:1–18
Seek the eternal – Matthew 6:19–21
Judge Not -Matthew 7:1–3
Ask – Matthew 7:7–8
Do for Others – Matthew 7:12
Stay on the path – Matthew 7:13–14
Be careful who you follow – Matthew 7:15–16
Don’t fear physical death – Matthew 10:28
Invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: – Luke 14:12–14
Love the Lord – Matthew 22:37–38).
Love Your Neighbor – Matthew 22:39–40
Be ready for My Return – Matthew 24:42–44
Remember me – Matthew 26:26–28).
Be Born Again – John 3:5–7
Watch and Pray – Matthew 26:41
Feed My Sheep – John 21:15–16
Baptize – Matthew 28:19
Wait for God’s Power -Luke 24:49
Make Disciples – Matthew 28:19–20

 

For more of Christ’s commandments go to 50 Commands of Jesus

 

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING- May 11 2018

 

1 Peter 2:4-6
         “You are coming to Christ, the living stone who was rejected by humans but was chosen as precious by God.  You come to him as living stones, a spiritual house that is being built into a holy priesthood. So offer spiritual sacrifices that God accepts through Jesus Christ.  That is why Scripture says, “I am laying a chosen and precious cornerstone in Zion, and the person who believes in him will never be ashamed.”*

 

         This scripture passage brought to mind the old hymn, The Church’s One Foundation.**

The church’s one foundation
is Jesus Christ our Lord
we are his new creation
by water and the Word
from heaven he came and sought us
that we might ever be
his living servant people,
by his own death set free.

 

We now on earth have union
with God the Three in One,
and share through faith communion
with those whose rest is won.
Oh, happy ones, and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
like them, the meek and lowly,
on high may dwell with thee.”

 

         With Jesus as our foundation and 2000 years of living stones applied, what a mighty structure the church united must be. Indeed the Pew Report  published these findings, “As of 2010, Christianity was by far the world’s largest religion, with an estimated 2.2 billion adherents, nearly a third (31 percent) of all 6.9 billion people on Earth.”

         But, dear Christian, before you pat yourself on the back, remember that it also means that ⅔ if the world is not Christian. Remember also: “The Lord isn’t slow to do what he promised, as some people think. Rather, he is patient for your sake. He doesn’t want to destroy anyone but wants all people to have an opportunity to turn to him and change the way they think and act. (2 Peter 3:9)

         As a living stones we have an obligation to seal out those with hearts of stone*** and turn them into living stones.

*Isaiah 28:16

**Sarntlel J. Stone, 1866 adapt. By Laurence Hull Stookey, 1983 Adapt. © 1983 The United Methodist Publishing House

*** Ezekiel 36:26

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – May 10 2018

DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT

James 5:13-16
         “If any of you are having trouble, pray. If you are happy, sing psalms.  If you are sick, call for the church leaders. Have them pray for you and anoint you with olive oil in the name of the Lord.  (Prayers offered in faith will save those who are sick, and the Lord will cure them.) If you have sinned, you will be forgiven.  So admit your sins to each other, and pray for each other so that you will be healed. Prayers offered by those who have God’s approval are effective.”

 

         My first heading for this scripture reading was PRAY PRAY PRAY. Because the word ‘pray’ was used three times and ‘prayer’ twice. Clearly the writer of this letter was including the readers to pray.

         However, as I re-read an meditated on it I realized that a more proper heading would be DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Because these calls to pray were in response to a need.

  • If you are sick
  • If you’ve sinned
  • If you’re happy

I know that if we were happy we were to sing a Psalm. So technically it doesn’t say to pray if you’re happy. But the Psalms are prayers. They are songs of gladness, worry, fear, exaltation, and the whole range of human emotions.

         So whatever situation you are in, don’t get stuck there. Prayerfully do something to move you forward.

 

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – May 08 201

WAKE UP, GET UP, MOVE FORWARD

James 4:2-7
“You want what you don’t have, so you commit murder. You’re determined to have things, but you can’t get what you want. You quarrel and fight. You don’t have the things you want, because you don’t pray for them.  When you pray for things, you don’t get them because you want them for the wrong reason–for your own pleasure. You unfaithful people! Don’t you know that love for this evil world is hatred toward God? Whoever wants to be a friend of this world is an enemy of God.  Do you think this passage means nothing? It says, “The Spirit that lives in us wants us to be his own.” But God shows us even more kindness. Scripture says, “God opposes arrogant people, but he is kind to humble people.” So place yourselves under God’s authority. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you.

James is an interesting writer who pulls no punches. He tells it like he sees it and is not concerned about being politically correct. We need people like James to correct us when we’ve gone astray. Does he make you uncomfortable? Good.

A preacher’s job has been described as: to make the comfortable uncomfortable and to comfort the uncomfortable. I’ve heard it so many times and in so many different ways. Get out of your comfort zone. Success happens outside the comfort zone. You can not change without doing something new. You can not grow where you are comfortable because true growth requires pushing against the resistance. These sayings are true for your physical life, emotional life, your financial life, and most certainly for your spiritual life.

The way of the world is: Don’t make waves. Go along to get along. Do what you have to do to make yourself comfortable.  The way of the world makes you lazy. Don’t be a lazy Christian.

Feed your spirit on the word of God. Exercise your spirit by doing those things that Christ commanded us to do. Start with the great commandment (Matthew 22:36-40). Get out your bible and look it up. Now read Matthew 25:31-46. And the last commandment of Jesus is found in Matthew 28:19&20.

James challenged his flock to change. To which I’ll say, Amen.

 

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – May 07 2018

WATCH YOUR MOUTH

James 3:3-10
    “We put bits in the mouths of horses to make them obey us, and we have control over everything they do.  The same thing is true for ships. They are very big and are driven by strong winds. Yet, by using small rudders, pilots steer ships wherever they want them to go.  In the same way the tongue is a small part of the body, but it can brag about doing important things. A large forest can be set on fire by a little flame. The tongue is that kind of flame. It is a world of evil among the parts of our bodies, and it completely contaminates our bodies. The tongue sets our lives on fire, and is itself set on fire from hell.  People have tamed all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures. Yet, no one can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil filled with deadly poison. With our tongues we praise our Lord and Father. Yet, with the same tongues we curse people, who were created in God’s likeness. Praise and curses come from the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, this should not happen!”

 

    Like every child I would occasionally ”talk back” to my mother. When I had gone to far, Mom would say, “You’d better watch your mouth!”

    I had a sister who was fifteen years older and when I had “pushed her buttons” she would say, “you’re breeding a scab on the end of your nose, boy.”

     In my teenage years, I found it easy to talk my way into fights. I remember one person telling me (in a threatening way), “Don’t let your mouth make promises that your first can’t keep.”

   At seventy plus years my mouth still gets me in trouble. James said it best, “no one can tame the tongue.”  Even though my tongue still occasionally becomes unbridled, now a larger percentage of the time it is used to praise God and be in service of the LORD.

    Sometimes it is best to just butter your tongue and remain silent.

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – May 06 2018

DISCRIMINATION

James 2:1-4
    My brothers and sisters, practice your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ by not favoring one person over another.  For example, two men come to your worship service. One man is wearing gold rings and fine clothes; the other man, who is poor, is wearing shabby clothes.  Suppose you give special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say to him, “Please have a seat.” But you say to the poor man, “Stand over there,” or “Sit on the floor at my feet.”  Aren’t you discriminating against people and using a corrupt standard to make judgments?

 

     I have nothing to add to what James wrote nearly 2000 years ago. Just tell me that we’ve changed. If not, why not?

 

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – May 05 2018

DON’T HOPE … BELIEVE

James 1:5-8
    “If any of you needs wisdom to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn’t find fault with them.  When you ask for something, don’t have any doubts. A person who has doubts is like a wave that is blown by the wind and tossed by the sea. A person who has doubts shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord.  A person who has doubts is thinking about two different things at the same time and can’t make up his mind about anything.”

 

We need hope. Without it we would be hopeless. We hope for change. We hope that tomorrow will be better than today. Our hope is always looking forward.*

    Hope is the weaker sister of faith. When I first became a Christian, all I had was hope. As I grew spiritually, I began to believe more strongly that what I hoped for would come to pass. Eventually that hope became faith. Faith is knowing that our hope is based on truth.**

    There is a strength found in belief that goes far behind hope.

   Let your hope grow until you have the assurance of faith.

 

*“Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?” (Romans 8:24)

**Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is confidence in what we hope for.”

 

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – May 04 2018

BEING HOLY

 

Psalms 99:1-5

The LORD rules as king. Let the people tremble. He is enthroned over the angels. Let the earth quake.  The LORD is mighty in Zion. He is high above all people. Let them give thanks to your great and fearful name. He is holy!  The king’s strength is that he loves justice. You have established fairness. You have done what is fair and right for Jacob.  Highly honor the LORD our God. Bow down at his footstool. He is holy!”

 

God is holy. We Christians use the word holy a lot. There are hymns/praise songs that just repeat it over and over. But do you know what it means? In the Old Testament “the Hebrew word for holy is “qodesh” and means “apartness, set-apartness, separateness, sacredness”*In the new testament the word “hagios” carries the same or similar meaning. The concept of apartness is clearly what the psalm writer had in mind here. God as a king, enthroned over the angels, and high above all people speaks to the vast separation between God and man. God in his true form can not be seen.**

In the new testament something wonderful happens. Jesus is born of Mary and suddenly God is with us.*** He can be seen and touched. And more importantly can and does touch us. He sits and eats with us. In other words, God now meets us on a more personal level. The separation between God in the Holy of Holies and mankind is over. (Mat 27:51) And he promises to be with us until the end of the age. *(Mat 28:20)

This does not mean that God is still not above all people but he is now also living within us. (1 Cor 3:16) We believers are commanded to be holy (Lev 11:44 and 1Th 3:13) that is we are to remain separated from sin.

 

*http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2014/05/24/what-does-the-word-holy-mean-bible-definition-of-holy/

**Exodus 33:20-23

***Emmanuel עִמָּנוּאֵל (Ancient Hebrew)

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – May 03 2018

ARE YOU GROWING?

2 Peter 1:4-9
    “Through his (Jesus Christ’s) glory and integrity he has given us his promises that are of the highest value. Through these promises you will share in the divine nature because you have escaped the corruption that sinful desires cause in the world.  
     Because of this, make every effort to add integrity to your faith; and to integrity add knowledge;  to knowledge add self-control; to self-control add endurance; to endurance add godliness; to godliness add Christian affection; and to Christian affection add love.  If you have these qualities and they are increasing, it demonstrates that your knowledge about our Lord Jesus Christ is living and productive. If these qualities aren’t present in your life, you’re short sighted and have forgotten that you were cleansed from your past sins.”

   

    I am trying to lose weight because, like two thirds of Americans, I am overweight or obese.* How do I track my progress? I use a scale of course. Without a scale I would only be guessing as to whether I was winning or losing the battle of the bulge.

    When I was a child my mother would track my growth by having me stand in the kitchen doorway and draw a line at the current height. She would write my name and the current date. It was a simple way to track my growth.

    Tracking our physical growth is easy. However, how do we track our spiritual growth? Our goal is to become more Christ like.**  The author of second Peter gives us a checklist to see how we are growing spiritually.

  • Faith
  • integrity
  • knowledge
  • self-control
  • endurance
  • godliness
  • Christian affection
  • love

    Jesus is our measuring device. Simply put, what would Jesus do?

 

*An estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet each year, and Americans spend $33 billion each year on weight loss products. Yet, nearly two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. Obesity is a chronic disease that requires lifelong treatment and medical care.

**1 Corinthians 11:1

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MyMUSING – May 02 2018

WHO IS JESUS?

John 1:1-4
    “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was already with God in the beginning. Everything came into existence through him. Not one thing that exists was made without him.  He was the source of life, and that life was the light for humanity.*

 

    The whole of the good news (gospel) that John has to tell about Jesus is condensed into his opening statement, verses one through four. That gospel is that Jesus is divine.

   The Jewish readers would have immediately recognized the parallel to Genesis 1:1-2 “In the beginning God created heaven and earth.  The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep water. The Spirit of God was hovering over the water.”  Those familiar with the Proverbs of Solomon would also have noted the similarly to Proverbs 8:22-24
The LORD already possessed me long ago, when his way began, before any of his works.  I was appointed from everlasting from the first, before the earth began. I was born before there were oceans, before there were springs filled with water.” Indeed that whole section from 22 through 31 can clearly be understood as speaking of the preincarnate Jesus.

    This thought was an eye opener (Revelation) for me. I had been taught as a child that Jesus was the angel Michael* which denies both the divinity and humanity of Jesus at once. For if Jesus is with God and is God, as John is here claims, then He truly has the power to forgive our sin**

  Jesus wants to know, “Who do you say that I am?”***

 

*Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Michael to be another name for Jesus Christ in heaven, in his pre-human and post-resurrection existence.

**Luke 7:47-49

***Matthew 16:13-17

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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MUSING – May 01 2018

YOU ARE SO SLOW TO BELIEVE

Luke 24:13-18 and 25-27
     “On the same day, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village called Emmaus. It was about seven miles from Jerusalem.  They were talking to each other about everything that had happened. While they were talking, Jesus approached them and began walking with them.  Although they saw him, they didn’t recognize him. He asked them, “What are you discussing?” They stopped and looked very sad. One of them, Cleopas, replied, “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who doesn’t know what has happened recently?”


    Then Jesus said to them, “How foolish you are! You’re so slow to believe everything the prophets said!  Didn’t the Messiah have to suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then he began with Moses’ Teachings and the Prophets to explain to them what was said about him throughout the Scriptures.”

     I have always wondered how these disciples could have walked with Jesus and not recognized him. I have heard preachers say that Jesus clouded their minds. But I see no proof of that.

    I think that there are two real world things that could explain why they didn’t know him for who he was. One quite easy explanation is that his head covering (veil) was drawn across his mouth and nose to protect against the sun and road dust.* The other explanation is simply that they weren’t looking for him. They knew that he was dead. Why would they look for him among the living?

    One time I had done a kindness for a stranger. She thanked my saying, “Thank you for being Jesus for me.” To which I replied, “No, today you were Jesus for me.”**

    The real question is not how those two men didn’t recognize him. The real question is, how many times have I (you) walked with Jesus and been unaware?***

*Head covering, a length of cloth around the shoulders, that could be pulled over the head and tied at the forehead.  http://blog.adw.org/2017/03/sort-clothing-people-jesus-time-wear/

**Matthew 25:40

***Hebrews 13:2

All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams

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