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APRIL 2003

 

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Hebrews 12:11

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Satan wants us to think that the Lord has forsaken us when we go through trials. But there are some things that we can do when things get really bad. We can start every morning by asking ourselves, “How bad are things going to be today? Do I have anything to really worry about today?” The answer is usually, “No!” Of course, if we begin to think about the future we can get really panicky. But the Lord is quite clear in Matthew 6: 25-34 that we are to leave the future to Him and we are to seek Him and His presence in the present.

The Lord doesn't really know if we trust Him in the good times. He finds out (and we find out) when we are tested. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says, "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”

Job didn't know that his faith was being tested as a witness to Satan. Remember there is always an afterward. If we handle the trial right, the afterward will be the stories of God’s faithfulness that we will tell our children and grandchildren.

The Lord wants us to trust Him for time as well as for eternity. Trusting Him for eternity is difficult as most of us want to do something to be saved instead of trusting Christ and His promises to be saved. But trusting the Lord for time is also contrary to our natures. We are taught to be industrious and to make plans and to buy insurance and to invest in annuities. I personally haven't and don't trust Him as I should or I wouldn’t be anxious about the future. So I have to confess my discouragement and anxiety as sin since I can't seem to change it. Thankfully, the Lord says that he forgives confessed sin (1 John 1:9).

When we are anxious, we need to remind the Lord of His promise which seems to have been made in connection with our material needs, " Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5)". Either God is real and His promises are true or nothing is real and life has no point. So expect an afterward of blessing.

Hebrews 10: 35-36 says, “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”

Week of April 6, 2003

1 Timothy 2:5

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

The term Christian is used so loosely today that many who have really been convicted of their sin and have been born again by receiving the Lord who died for their sin (John 1:12-13), are looking to the unregenerate religious world for instructions on how to worship God. The children of Israel had a tendency to imitate the nations around them and to imitate those heathen people who had not been destroyed among them in their worship of God. As far as the ONE GOD was concerned, they were worshipping other gods.

In our day, as we try to accommodate the people around us, some of us even try to believe that god’s who save by what man does for them instead of by what God has done for man in giving His Son to die for our sins are just as much God as the One who has revealed Himself through Christ. Man is not like God morally, that is, he is ungodly or not like God, and yet he continually tries to make God like himself and our worship is tainted by disobedience to God because His way doesn’t make sense to the natural mind that is in us.

God has made Himself known through His written Word and through Creation and in “these last days” through Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2). The question is, are we worshipping the God of this Bible or have we made an “image” and are we worshipping a god of our own “vain imaginations” (Romans 1:21-25). If we are worshipping the living God of heaven then we have to be worshipping His way, not our way. That starts with a change of mind that brings us to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. If that saving faith is real, then our worship is evidenced by a desire to do things God’s way (the Bible way), and not the “successful” way of many who call themselves Christians but who please themselves rather than God by the way that they worship.

There is only one God. Once we know Him we should have a desire to please Him. We can only please Him when we follow His instructions. His way is not hard and He has given us a book that takes the guess work out of what pleases Him. When we don’t follow the instructions, we are worshipping other gods since if we were worshipping the ONE GOD, we would be worshipping His way.

Week of April 13, 2003

1Corinthians 15:19, 20

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable (to be pitied). But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

Christians have either believed in the best news that has ever been preached and are thus the happiest and most blessed people on earth or they have been misled and are of all people the most to be pitied according to Paul. Our happiness or misery depends on whether Christ really was raised from the dead.

If He was raised from the dead, then His resurrection guarantees ours since He is the first fruits. If He is the first fruits, then there must be a complete harvest coming. If He was raised from the dead, then God has been satisfied by His death for our sins, Christians have been justified, our future involves a home in heaven as well as reigning with Him during the millennium, and we have a great High Priest at the Father’s right hand who intercedes on our behalf at the present time.

If He was not raised from the dead, then everything that we believe is a lie. We have nothing to look forward to, that is, we have no hope. Many have been martyred for nothing, many have dedicated their lives to a Lord who doesn’t exist and for promises that won’t be fulfilled. However Christ IS RISEN. Let’s look at the facts:

 

1. There is the matter of an empty tomb. Christians do not have a dead body to worship.

2. There is the matter of the soldiers who were guarding the tomb. It is highly unlikely that the soldiers would be so drunk and sleepy that the disciples could break the tomb’s seal, unwrap the grave clothes and leave them as though they had never been moved, and then take the dead body back over the soldiers without waking them. It would have been impossible for the disciples to steal the body as the soldiers were paid to say.

3. There is the matter of Him appearing to so many witnesses after the resurrection (over 500 at one time according to 1 Corinthians 15:6).

4. There is the testimony of the angels at the tomb who said that He had risen.

5. There is the matter of the prophetic Word saying that He would be raised (Psalm 16:10 was not true of David who wrote it but was true of the Lord who inspired it.)

 

The resurrection of the Lord proves that our Lord was victorious over sin and death and Satan and was not defeated at the cross. Christians are not most to be pitied but most to be envied.

Week of April 20, 2003

Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

When Paul was stopped in his tracks on the Damascus road by a bright light that he knew had to be someone with authority over him, he said, “Who art thou Lord?” (Acts 8:5) He obviously wasn’t saved or born again or a Christian at this point since he was still blinded by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) and did not know who this was. When he found out that this Lord was the Jesus whom he was persecuting, he immediately said, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 8:6).

Paul’s reaction should be the reaction of everyone who has ever trusted the Lord Jesus. If we have been convicted that we are sinners that can do nothing to save ourselves and then if we have trusted in the truth that Christ died for sinners, shouldn’t we want to do what the Lord has asked out of devotion to Him? Shouldn’t we love him and shouldn’t we show that by worshipping and serving Him His way and not our way? But how are we going to know what pleases the Lord? It seems to me that the instructions are in the Bible, particularly in the new testament, and that those instructions have been explained by the epistles which are written specifically to and for new testament believers.

I often wonder about the true devotion and thus the true conversion of those who dismiss plain simple new testament preaching about baptism, the Lord’s Supper and personal righteous conduct and still claim to be Christians. We don’t go to heaven based on what we are doing for God. We go there based on what God has done for us by giving His Son for us. However, if we have truly believed that “Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8), wouldn’t we want to express our appreciation by saying, “Lord what can I do for you?”

Some people dismiss the notion that we can know what pleases God by saying that the Bible can be interpreted in many ways. Yet these same people claim to be depending on the plain simple teaching of John 3:16 for their entrance to heaven. It is hard to misinterpret John 3:16 or 17 or 18 or John 3:36. I believe that we can understand the Bible and that the Holy Spirit can bring those of us who are saved to similar conclusions. But I don’t think the Holy Spirit can do that until we quit telling God what should please Him and we start letting Him tell us. We also have to want to know the truth and be open to it when we hear it. Then we need to practice what we know for sure. All Paul was told when he asked his question was that he should go into Damascus. If he had not done that simple thing, he would not have been where he needed to be when the Lord sent Ananias to him to give him further instruction.

The Lord is not a tyrant barking commands. Rather He is like a kind father or friend who will tell us what we want to know when we come to Him desiring His counsel. Some of His counsel may not make sense to us, some of it may not please us, but obedience to what we know will lead to Him telling us more. Obedience to what we know will also prove our love to Him. In addition, obedience to what we know will prove that we are really His followers.

Week of April 27, 2003