Christianity 201

December 20, 2022

Everything Eagerly Expecting

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
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Every once in awhile I encounter a blog or website which, although we linked to it often at Thinking Out Loud, never made it to Christianity 201 (or in this case, almost never, with the exception of May, 2017). Such is the case with Don’t Ask The Fish, written by Dr. Tommy Kiedis and today we remedy that.

Clicking the title which follows will take you to where this first appeared.

Are you standing on tiptoe?

The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own.

— Romans 8:19 J.B. Phillips Translation

I have celebrated sixty-three birthdays, but only longed for one gift.

At twelve, I was adventuresome, tough, and ready to take on Everest. Can anything stop a boy in early adolescence?  I set my sights on the perfect gift to complement my venturesome spirit – a mountain tent.  Not a pup tent mind you, a “Mountain Tent!”  What is a mountain tent?  Perhaps just a pup tent with a little bravado, but for a boy in search of manhood it sounded rugged – and I wanted it!

I announced my desires to my mom and dad. I begged, pleaded, and pouted. Actually, I only pouted around Mom—Dad didn’t put up with whining.  By the time the big B-Day came my mom had me convinced that I would be sleeping tent-less under the open stars, but that was just her attempt to surprise me. I got the tent!

Waiting on that gift taught me the meaning of longing early in life. Today, that inward ache I call longing looks a little different. Now, I long for a day off after a difficult week of work. I long for a Dolphins Super Bowl victory (hey, even a playoff victory would be nice!). I long for bodies to be healed, health restored, and broken hearts mended, and . . . my latest hot rod project to get out of the garage and on the road.

God gives me another lesson on longing in Romans 8. He paints a picture and then points me toward it. On the cross, Jesus took the punishment that was mine. Through faith in Him, I have life. In fact, God adopts me! I am his. “And all that Christ claims as his will be ours as well.” Grace upon grace!

Right now, I am living between two worlds: earth and heaven. Because He has me, I’ve got it great. But oh what’s coming is literally “out of this world.” Right now, it will be tough here and there, but God has so much more in store for us then. I appreciate the way JB Phillips paraphrases these words of Paul:

In my opinion whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has planned for us. The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God [and daughters!] coming into their own. The world of creation cannot as yet see reality, not because it chooses to be blind, but because in God’s purpose it has been so limited—yet it has been given hope. And the hope is that in the end the whole of created life will be rescued from the tyranny of change and decay, and have its share in that magnificent liberty which can only belong to the children of God! Romans 8:18-21 J.B. Phillips Translation

God has been on a rescue mission from the beginning of time. He is going to set the world right! Paul pictures all of creation anxiously awaiting God’s final victory. J.B. Phillips’ translation of verse nineteen is picturesque, “The whole creation is on tiptoe.” 

That’s longing.

So let me ask you, “This Advent season, are you standing on tiptoe?” And if so, what are you longing for? For my part, there’s nothing wrong with putting that hot rod out on the street, but that pavement pounding longing is only pointing to a deeper longing that can only be satisfied with heaven’s Christ.

As we enter this season of advent, I am asking God to rekindle within me a holy sense of longing. I want him to renew the inward ache for the Messiah – God’s greatest gift – who alone will right every wrong. I invite you to pray this prayer with me . . .

“Father, help the affections of my heart to stand on tiptoe for Jesus the Messiah, who alone can right every wrong and satisfy every aching heart. 

December 2, 2019

In The Fullness of Time

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:57 pm
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Today it’s a joy to once again highlight the writing of Stephen and Brooksyne Weber at Daily Encouragement.

Lessons From A Blank Page

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son” (Galatians 4:4).

Yesterday was the first Sunday in Advent when we especially give attention to the first advent (coming) of Christ.

There’s a page in each of our Bibles we don’t read and probably have never given any consideration to. It’s the blank page found in many Bibles separating the Old and New Testaments. Now to be sure there may be another reason printers use this blank page and as more and more people read their Bibles on devices the concept of this blank page may not be apparent.

Today let us consider this wordless blank page and what it represents. There was a 400 year period that separated the final record in the Old Testament (Malachi) from the events in the New Testament beginning with Matthew’s Gospel. In secular history this was when Alexander the Great lived during the Greek Empire and the ascent of the Roman Empire. There are also some extra-Biblical records during this period recorded in the Apocrypha.

The blank page represents several things I can think of such as silence, hope and waiting, which we will consider today.

Do you have a hard time waiting? Are delays difficult to deal with causing you stress and anxiety? For most of us the answer is “yes.” God had first promised the Messiah after Adam and Eve’s transgression in the garden. Over the next several millenniums there was a growing body of Messianic promises that the Jewish people were given. But they waited and waited and waited.

At the time of Christ’s birth two elderly Jewish people are mentioned in Luke who had waited for the Messiah’s coming. Simeon had been waiting for the consolation of Israel, and Anna spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

In the daily text the Apostle Paul is reflecting on the events of Christ’s incarnation. He uses an intriguing phrase “But when the fullness of the time came” to describe that wonderful moment in space and time when God acted on our behalf in sending His Son for our redemption. The long wait was over. The faith of devout people like Simeon and Anna and others like them was now reality. God kept His promise.

And God still keeps His promises. He always will. He’ll keep everyone of them. We have the perspective of looking back and seeing the fulfillment of the greatest of God’s promises when “God sent forth His Son”. This occurred after a long wait and not until the fullness of the time came.

We must recognize that it’s the fullness of God’s time, not ours. Many of us are waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled in our lives. The wait is very trying. Many are living with an ongoing burden for spiritually wayward family members, others have a long-standing physical ailment in their lives or in someone they love. And on my heart this morning are so many of our dear brothers and sisters living in very oppressive conditions. And we all wait for that next great cosmic event when Jesus again keeps His last word to us when He declared, “Yes, I am coming soon”.

God has fulfilled the biggest promise. Let us wait with faith and assurance that “in His time” He will also take care of the scores of other matters we all deal with. He is faithful!

In His time, in His time;
He makes all things beautiful in His time.
Lord, please show me every day
As You’re teaching me Your way
That You do just what You say in Your time.

Daily prayer: Father, we know that Your time table is pre-ordained in the events that make an eternal difference in our lives. Thank you that when the fullness of the time came, You sent forth Your Son in the first advent. In this age help us to patiently wait for Your will to be fulfilled in our personal lives, in the lives of our loved ones, and in the world around us. May we be found steadfast, sober, expectant and alert awaiting the day of your second advent, your promised return. In the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

September 19, 2010

Deserts in the Streams

Today’s devotional is from a Canadian pastor, artist, and blogger I’ve referred to many times at Thinking Out Loud.   Enjoy this item from David Hayward, aka Naked Pastor…

I was talking with a good friend of mine yesterday. She was outside reading ‘Streams’, a devotional book that she loves. She was feeling very much at peace and content. She felt the Presence. She was happy.

Today she got some disturbing news and it totally upset her. We were talking about it. I said, “Unfortunately, the other half of ‘Streams is In The Desert’.

Easy to say. Harder to do. Maybe even impossible. It’s easy when you are in the middle of a stream to enjoy the stream’s benefits. But what about when you are in the middle of severe or chronic illness, in the middle of relational breakdown, in the middle of financial disaster, in the middle of misery, in the middle of the desert? Then what?

Remember. Remember what you read. (Hopefully, when you were reading and were struck by the truth of it, you didn’t just let it trickle over the surface of your mind. Hopefully you let it sink in and actually transform the way you think.) Remember how it informed your mind. Remember how you wished you’d known this during previous desert experiences. Remember how true it seemed to you then, and that you told yourself you would remember this truth even when the circumstances of life contradict it.

Reflect. Don’t just remember it. Now reflect upon the truth you acquired while in the stream. Once when I was extremely thirsty and finally found some water, I found the first mouthful and swallow of water uncomfortable and difficult. Same with the truth in the middle of extreme hardship. Sometimes it is uncomfortable and difficult to take. But knowing that you need it, receive it. Let the truth now nourish you. Meditate upon it and contemplate it in all its complexity. Trust that it is just as true now even when life seems to deny it.

Refresh. As you remember and reflect upon this truth, it will become more palpable to you. In fact, just as water tastes so much sweeter when it is sparse, so the truth just might have more of an impact upon your mind. I have experienced this first hand: the truth that transformed my mind yesterday in the midst of ease became even more true today in the midst of suffering. Truth has a way of shedding light on everything. Even the roots.

Truth is like a stream in the desert. Drink it in while you can. Let it sustain you even into the deepest parts of the desert. Carry it like a bottomless canteen, so that when times are more than difficult, you can find the refreshment it provides.

-David Hayward

Finding a picture to go with a post like this can be a challenge, but this time I had 18 to choose from; check out 18 Most Incredible Desert Oases.

And don’t forget to bookmark David at Naked Pastor.