Morning Musing: Philippians 1:12-14

“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually advanced the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard, and to everyone else, that my imprisonment is because I am in Christ. Most of the brothers have gained confidence in the Lord from my imprisonment and dare even more to speak the word fearlessly.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What do you do when things aren’t going like you planned? Maybe you’re the kind of person who is able to fairly well roll with it. But I suspect you are at least a little disappointed in that moment. Perhaps, though, “a little disappointed” doesn’t really cover it for you. Rolling with it isn’t a resource in your repertoire. This may be especially true when your plans were to help someone else or do something good. In that moment, you’re ready to simply throw up your hands and give up. Paul, here, though, offers us another approach to consider.

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Morning Musing: Luke 1:43-45

“How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill what he has spoken to her!” (CSB – Read the chapter)

How trusting of a person would you say you are? That depends on a number of different factors, doesn’t it? It could be that your parents weren’t so good about keeping their word to you, and so you default to believing everyone around you is lying. Maybe you’re a very trusting person by nature, but that trust runs along the edge of naiveté and has gotten you in trouble a time or two. There’s a balance point here. You don’t want to be blindly trusting because people do lie, but if you don’t trust anyone, you can’t have any relationships. There is one person, though, who should always have our trust.

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Digging in Deeper: Isaiah 30:1-5

“Woe to the rebellious children! This is the Lord’s declaration. They carry out a plan, but not mine; they make an alliance, but against my will, piling sin on top of sin. Without asking my advice they set out to go down to Egypt in order to seek shelter under Pharaoh’s protection and take refuge in Egypt’s shadow. But Pharaoh’s protection will become your shame, and refuge in Egypt’s shadow your humiliation. For though his princes are at Zoan and his messengers reach as far as Hanes, everyone will be ashamed because of a people who can’t help. They are are of no benefit, they are no help; they are goo for nothing but shame and disgrace.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Think for a minute about who you turn to when you need advice before anyone else. Call to mind this person’s face. Think about the conversations you’ve had with him and the counsel he’s given you. What is it about this person that makes you so inclined to seek him out before anyone else? Is he particularly wise? If so, what garnered him this distinction in your mind? Have the two of you shared particularly significant experiences together and so you feel like he knows you better than anyone else? Do you seek him out because of his position? Let me ask one more question: Did you even fleetingly think about God as the person you turn to first for advice? The places we go when we need help say a lot about us. They said a lot about Israel too. Today and tomorrow, I want to look with you at an example from Isaiah that has much to teach us about where to seek help first and the character of God.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 12:43-44

“Summoning his disciples, he said to them ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. For they all gave out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had – all she had to live on.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever received a gift that was truly a generous one? There’s just something about that experience that feels good. You feel honored. You may be a little ashamed or embarrassed by the generosity, but your gratitude is enormous. You immediately rate the character of the giver as high. On the other hand, have you ever received a gift you knew was not in the least bit generous? The feelings then are almost the exact opposite. You may take whatever it is, but you’re really not very grateful for it at all. The other person just did it because he had to or somehow felt obligated to do it. That’s not a gift you’re ever going to be very happy receiving. Well, as much as you feel that way, God does even more. This odd little closing episode from Mark 12 gives us a really powerful picture of this truth. Let’s take a look.

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Morning Musing: Mark 10:13-15

“People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

The lot of children used to be difficult one. They were generally seen as a drain on a family’s resources until they were old enough and strong enough to contribute meaningfully to the household. Vaudeville-era comedian, W.C. Fields was famous for his rather sardonic quotes about children. For instance, “There’s no such thing as a tough child – if you parboil them first for seven hours, they always come out tender.” Today, the place of children in some circles is so high we can scarcely imagine a world where it wasn’t. In fact, in many segments of our culture, we’ve swung the pendulum so far in the other direction that we are sometimes guilty of creating equal, but opposite, problems for them as we work out our own issues through them. That being said, there’s something wonderful about the wonder a child brings to this world. Jesus agreed. Let’s talk about it.

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