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Jesus’ Prohibitions Are Not Exceptions To Love; They Flow From It (via Michael Kelley)

It’s a tendency to see a prohibition as a limit on love.
“I love you, but…”
Michael Kelly points out that the prohibitions of God are not the limits of his love, but the expression of a care that flows from perfect love.
He is not denying us, he is loving us.
From Kelley’s article:

With Jesus, prohibitions are not exceptions to love; they flow from it:
Looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21).
In other words, Jesus loved this man enough to tell Him to sell everything He had. And we would do well to remember it. Because today, and every day, we will come up against the prohibitions of Jesus. And the temptation will be for us to regard Him as ungenerous. As uncaring. As persnickety. Anything but loving. But here is where we come back not to what we think in the moment, but what we know to be true.
We know it to be true that Jesus loves us. And whatever prohibitions we come up against flow from that love.


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Learning To Number Our Days (via Michael Kelley)

Michael Kelley writes a four point reflection on the phrase from the Psalms ‘teach us to number our days.’

We naturally assume that there will always be tomorrow – that there will always be another chance for this or that. We become procrastinators in our arrogance, assuming that the limited number of days we have on this earth will never come to an end. Because we drift toward this kind of arrogance in which we are the charters of our own destiny, we need God’s help to have a true gauge of our own mortality.
This is the point James made in James 4, a chapter diagnosing the disease of pride, when he reminded us all that we should be careful about assuming on the time-table of our lives. Even in things like planning trips, meetings, and anything else, we would do well to remember that “you don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes” (James 4:14).

Read the whole post at Forward Progress.


Songs Old And New (via Michael Kelley)

The church gathers to worship God receiving truths inherited from the past and expressing them in present contexts with a view to future hope.
From Michael Kelley:

During Joshua’s lifetime, the people worshiped faithfully, having their worship formed by their past. But they were only one generation away from forgetting all God had done, and therefore the Lord Himself. This is what happens when our worship is not rooted and formed by the past.
That does not mean we only sing old songs. But it does mean that when we sing, we sing with the aim of remembering old truths. We should care deeply about the substance of what we’re singing, for when we sing, we should always be recounting the old, old story of a Savior who came from glory. Who gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me. This is the greatest act of God. This is ultimately what all our worship should be rooted and formed by – recalling, remembering, and retelling the story of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our worship is formed by the past. But our worship shapes the present. Here’s what I DON’T mean by that – I don’t mean that we can somehow praise something into existence. That we can sing songs about victory and all our circumstantial problems will go away. This is not some name it and claim it worship methodology. What I mean is that when we sing, our understanding and perspective on the present is shaped.
Notice that verse 1 tells us that we should sing a new song to the Lord. This Psalm is part of a group of psalms that were sung to give praise to God as King. They’re sometimes called coronation psalms. And when these songs were sung at specific times in the calendar, there would be new songs composed.
That doesn’t mean that we need to write a new song every Sunday for worship; but it does bring a sense of freshness and present tense to worship. And we need our present to be formed by worship because we are emotional beings. God made us that way. The problem is that our emotions are corrupted by sin, just as every part of us is. That means that you cannot trust your heart, just like I cannot trust mine.


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The Need To Keep Margin In Our Lives (via Michael Kelly)

In a culture that encourages fear of missing out there is a price to be paid in having every cent and every moment spoken for.
As Christmas gives way to thoughts of New Year, Michael Kelley writes about the margin that God wants us to factor into our lives and why we shouldn’t reap to the edges of our fields:

We live in a margin-less world. Everything from our time to our money is pretty much spoken for. We are reaping to the end of the fields. In fact, we are going back over the fields of our lives a second and third time, looking for any spare cent or second that has not been accounted for.
This isn’t how we were meant to live. It’s certainly not how we should live if we expect the Lord to bring gospel-oriented opportunities into our lives. Living in a margin-less way is, at the root, a lack of faith in God’s character. Think about it from the perspective of the farmer: What might cause a farmer to reap everything, even the edges, instead of obeying this command of margin?
At some level, it’s fear. Fear that there wouldn’t be enough. Fear of missing some profit. Fear that at some point in the season, the family would be in need. The way you combat that fear is with faith. You believe that God is generous – that God will provide and that God will give us enough. That’s how you leave the edges unreaped.

Read the whole post

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O Come Thou Dayspring, Come And Cheer (via Michael Kelley)

This short article on the song O Come, O Come Emmanuel by Michael Kelley has been published a couple of times on his blog and explains the biblical imagery used in the hymn that speak of longing fulfilled.

We are longing for what only Jesus can bring, just as Israel was longing for centuries for the coming of God’s chosen One who would be their deliverer.
And while Israel longed for a physical delivery, we know now that our physical deliverance from circumstantial tribulation is only a shadow of the greater deliverance we need, and therefore the greater longing that permeates every experience of our lives.

Read the whole post at Forward Progress.

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There’s Always A ‘Next’ When You’re Following Jesus (via Michael Kelley)

The maturity of disciples of Jesus shows in a consciousness that expresses humility about of how far we have to go, not pride in how far we have come.
From Michael Kelley:

We are on this road – on this walk – not because of our achievement but because of God’s grace in the gospel. And we continue on this road – on this walk – not from a sense of achievement but empowered by that same gospel. That’s why there is always a “next” when it comes to following Christ.
When we first start following Jesus, the “next” might be that we need to attack some moral impurity. Then the “next” might be the easier-to-hide sins of greed and pride. Then the “next” becomes how to live like a Christian in marriage. Then the “next” is how to die to our own preferences and desires as we seek to raise and lead our children. Next, next, next all the way until the “next” is how to die like one who follows Jesus. There is always a “next.”
But the gospel transforms this ever-present “next” of following Jesus. See, our “next” is not to merit favor. It’s not that with each “next” we think, Perhaps now at last I will at last be good enough to warrant the love of God. No, the gospel transforms our “next” in that we are growing into what we have already become.

Read the whole post at Forward>>Progress.