Putting the Poor in Poor Richard’s Almanac

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As to Jesus of Nazareth…I think the system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity; tho’ it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and I think it needless to busy myself with it now.

— Benjamin Franklin, qtd. in Danny Akin, Exalting Jesus in 1,2, & 3 John, 7-8; emphasis added.

“I think it needless to busy myself with it now.” For all Franklin’s wit and wisdom, this is the dumbest thing he ever said. This is the dumbest thing anyone could say.

Eternal life, joy, hope, peace, forgiveness, mercy, purpose, identity, and an imperishable inheritance kept in Heaven are all found in Jesus.

Please don’t “think it needless to busy” yourself with Jesus. It is more needful than anything else in life—than even life itself.

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Sealed

The wife asked her husband to “set me as a seal on your heart.” A person’s seal, here the seal of the king, was extremely important and personal. Jack Deere notes, “In Old Testament times a seal was used to indicate ownership of a person’s valued possessions. So the beloved asked to be the lover’s most valued possession” (“Song,” 1024).

She wants to be a seal, but one placed in a very particular and personal location: “on your heart.” In the ancient world it was often the custom to wear a signet ring or cylinder on a cord or necklace around the neck and near the heart. Schwab notes, “To be imprinted as a seal on another is to be inseparable from that person. She wishes his life to be hers” (“Song,” 426). For the king to love his lady in such a way that she felt near and dear to his heart would speak personally of his undying devotion and lasting love. As long as his heart beats, she wants to know and feel his love.

Believers in Jesus have a King who has set His seal on us, emblazoning it on our foreheads (cf. Rev 9:4) as a personal pledge of possession and protection. And we did not even have to ask. Indeed, through salvation provided for us in Christ, our God has “sealed us and given us the Spirit as a down payment in our hearts” (2 Cor 1:22). We have His seal on our foreheads and His seal in our hearts. We are “double-sealed” by our great Shepherd-King. The personal and intimate love He has for those who belong to Him is a pledge and promise we should never doubt.

— Daniel Akin, Exalting Jesus in Song of Songs, Kindle Location 3629.

Impossible?

His answer to their question [“Then who can be saved?”] is one of the great theological affirmations of the Bible: “With men it is impossible, but not with God, because all things are possible with God.” Salvation is something man cannot accomplish. Left to himself, he will never make it into God’s kingdom and inherit eternal life. Salvation is, has always been, and will always be a divine accomplishment through the perfect atonement and sacrificial death of God’s Son. Done, not do!

— Danny Akin, Exalting Jesus in Mark, 224.

Children’s Lessons

There is something about a child that is essential for entrance into the kingdom of God. It is not their innocence, for they are not innocent! They are little sinners just like we are big sinners. Nor is it their purity or that they are sweet. Again, they are sinners with Adam and Eve’s and your and my DNA running throughout their being. …

Children are helpless. Their lives are in the hands of another. Yet, even at a tender age, they seem to be filled with hope and expectation. They don’t know all they need, but they know they need the help of another, and they are hopeful they will receive it. They come small, helpless, and powerless. They have no clout or standing, and they bring nothing but empty hands. This is appropriate since only empty hands can be filled! …

By their display of trust and absolute dependence on another, children point the way to entrance into God’s kingdom. Children have the capacity to enjoy a lot but explain a little. They live by faith and dependence. They must trust another to survive.

Jesus picked up the children. What a picture of amazing gospel grace! He is tender and affectionate to those who bring nothing to Him but their need.

— Danny Akin, Exalting Jesus in Mark, 214-215.

John’s Humility

John [the Baptist] effectively said, “One greater than me is coming [v.7].

He is so great, I am not worthy to do what only a Gentile slave would do [v.7].

My baptism is outward with water: a symbol. His baptism is inward with the Spirit: the real thing [v.8].

The One who is coming is mightier than I am! He is more worthy than I am!

He is more powerful than I am! I have touched your body with water.

He will touch your soul with the Holy Spirit!

I know who I am in God’s plan. I know who He is in God’s plan too!”

— Danny Akin, Christ-Centered Expository Commentary: Mark, 8 (line breaks added).