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APRIL 2004

 

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Mark 5:19 Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.

 

Some of us are called to follow the Lord (perhaps to far off lands to preach the Gospel). Some of us are called to go home and tell our friends about the great things the Lord has done for us. This particular man had an unclean spirit that made him appear to be out of his mind. He had great but uncontrolled strength and apparently mutilated himself. After the Lord cast out the demon, the man was “clothed and in his right mind”. He didn’t even ask to be helped and yet the Lord met His need. Do you think he had something to tell his friends? Do you think he was glad to be free of the demon? Do you think his friends would be able to see that a great change had occurred in him and that the change was for the better? Of course, the answer to all of these questions is “yes”.

Often when I hear people tell about their relationship with the Lord, I hear about what great things they are doing for the Lord. Turn on your TV and listen to many of the popular religious programs and they will tell you how the Lord is “using them.” Perhaps all of us are a bit guilty of this. However, this man’s commission was to tell what the Lord had done for Him and not what He was doing for the Lord. Of course in doing what the Lord asked, he was doing something for the Lord. In this chapter, the Lord cast out this demon, He raised a young maid from the dead and He healed a woman who had been unclean 12 years with a bloody discharge. I have no doubt that all of these people were in awe as they told of the great things that the Lord had done for them.

When I hear someone tell how they came to know the Lord as their Savior, I like to hear about what the Lord did rather than what they did. I know people trust the Lord in different ways but when I hear people telling about what they did to be saved and when I never hear them tell about what the Lord did for them, I wonder if they are depending on the Lord or on themselves.

After we are saved, we often find our satisfaction in the fact that the Lord is “using us”. But I have no doubt the Lord would be able to use us more if we weren’t so occupied with what we are doing for the Lord and spent more time telling others about what the Lord is currently doing for us. I find that when I focus on myself, I begin to get depressed because I get occupied with my failures; but when I think about the Lord and the great things He has and is doing and the compassion that He has had for me, then I begin to really understand my value to the Lord. That is when I am encouraged. Whether we are called to “go into all the world (Mark 16:15)” or whether we are called to “go home,” we who are saved should be able to tell others of the “great things that the Lord has done for us.” We should be able to tell how He died on the cross to save us (1 Peter 3:18, Romans 5:6-8) and how lives to encourage and preserve us (Hebrews 7:25).

Week of April 4, 2004

Matthew 28:6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.

John 14:29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.

 

When the angel said that the Lord had risen, he said that this was “AS HE SAID.” There is not much that a person can depend on in this life, but the promises of the Lord are dependable. Men may not keep their contracts, treaties and promises, but the Lord keeps His. By telling us what is going to happen before it happens, He gives us every reason to believe that He is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and that we can believe what He says (see John 14:29).

There are predictions associated with the nation of Israel that have been fulfilled that should give us confidence in the Bible. One of those predictions said that the children of Israel would be in Egypt 400 years and they were (see Genesis 15:13) They were told that they would be in Babylon 70 years and they were (see Jeremiah 29:10).

There are predictions associated with the first coming of the Lord that have been miraculously fulfilled and which should give us confidence in the Bible. We are told when the Lord would be cut off as well as how He would be cut off. We are told how He would be born, what He would be named, where He would be born, and how there would be weeping for the children that were killed because He was born. We are told that a prophet would herald His arrival and John the Baptist did that. These are among the predictions that help us understand that the Bible is the Word of God.

There is one great prediction and miracle that is the ‘Mother of all prophecies and miracles”, however. That is the prediction that Christ would rise from the dead. King David predicts this in Psalm 16:10. The Lord Himself makes this prediction in a number of places including Mark 8:31 where He says, “And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and [of] the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” The Lord also predicted that for people who would not believe the Old Testament Scriptures, they would not believe if one were raised from the dead (see Luke 16:31).

We have the witness of angels, of Mary Magdalene, of the eleven apostles, and of more than 500 that saw Him at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6). We have an empty tomb with no body. We have the promise of God that Christ died, was buried and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). It was all just “AS HE SAID” and we were told before it happened so that when it happened we might believe. But do we?

The Lord has made another solemn prediction and this too will be just as He said. John 3: 18 says, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” We can take this promise to the bank because the promise is dependable. As we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord this Easter season, may we ask ourselves if we really believe that He rose from the dead just as He said. Have we trusted in the fact that those who believe in or on Him will be saved just as He said through His servants (Acts 16:32)? The solemn promise that unbeliever’s will damned is also true and will also come to pass just as He said. It seems to me that trusting Him and His promises just makes sense.

Week of April 11, 2004

Matthew 13:58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

Mark 16:14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

 

Many of us have the attitude of the man who said, “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is already made up.” Teaching people who are convinced they are right when they are wrong is impossible. In Matthew 13, those “in His own country” and “in His own house” didn’t believe in the Lord Jesus so He was limited as to what He could do in their presence. We all know that the unsaved don’t or won’t believe in the Lord but in Mark 16, it was His own disciples that didn’t want to be confused with the facts. Somehow, they just could not grasp the truth that the Lord had risen from the dead. After all, the normal course of things is to die and to stay dead.

The children of Israel represent those of us who are Christians on our journey to heaven and they, like us, had difficulty trusting the Lord for the next miracle. They were miraculously delivered from Egypt but how were they to get across the Red Sea? They probably should have thought about that before allowing Moses to get Pharaoh all upset. Then after miraculously crossing the Red Sea, they hadn’t properly “budgeted” their supply of water nor had they planned on trucks to supply them. Again they really didn’t “think ahead”. The water that they came to was bitter in Exodus 15:23. So the natural mind would assume that God hated them because not only did they need water but the water God had provided was unusable. Of course, God had a contingency plan and it was called a tree (which represents the cross of Christ) and when it was thrown in the waters they were made sweet. Also, just beyond the bitter waters that were made sweet was Elim, an oasis in the desert.

Time after time on their journey with the Lord through the wilderness, the nation of Israel limited their own blessing through unbelief. A whole generation missed out on the promised land because ten of their spies in Numbers 13 saw obstacles and problems and only two saw victory because of their confidence in the Lord.

What great blessing are we missing out on today because of unbelief? Some of us refuse to believe that the Bible is God’s Word and as a result we miss out on the blessing of peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ because Satan has convinced us that our thinking is better than God’s Word. There are many good reasons to believe that the Bible is God’s Word and there is nothing to lose but our pride by trusting in it. Yet many today refuse to do so. How the heart of our loving God must be grieved when He realizes how hard our hearts are and how determined we are to believe Satan rather than to believe Him.

But what about those of us who say we have faith in God? Are we (like the nation of Israel) failing to possess the blessings promised to us because we have difficulty just trusting our God? Do we (like the disciples of the Lord) have sorrow instead of joy because we are still expecting to see a body in the tomb instead of the living Lord who has promised that He is coming again? Life would be much simpler if we could just learn to commit our circumstances to the Lord Who does fulfill His promises and Who does care for us even when things don’t seem to make sense.

Week of April 18, 2004

Luke 1:37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Titus 1:2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.

 

We often say that God is all knowing, all powerful and everywhere present. However, there are at least four things that an all knowing God does not know. They are:

1. Sin that He does not hate.

2. A sinner that He does not love.

3. A means of salvation other than through Christ.

4. A means of preaching the Gospel other than through believers!

In our passages above there is one thing that an all powerful God cannot do. He cannot lie. When the Lord was suffering for our sins Peter records, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth (1Peter 2:22).” When He was about to be crucified, He told His disciples in the upper room, “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:2).” The Lord seems to be saying to His disciples, “Would I lie to you?” They had followed Him long enough to know that He would not lie to them and now we find out that God (and the Lord was God according to John 1:1) cannot lie. So we can have absolute assurance that the Lord is coming again to take those of us who have believed in Him back to the Father’s house where He has a special place prepared for us. John 14 gives us assurance that we are going to be saved from the very presence of sin and John 3:16 promises us that believers in the Lord are saved from the penalty of sin. In both cases our assurance is based on the character of an all powerful God who cannot lie.

There is a place where an ever present God is not found. It is in that place where Christ rejecters are separated from God for all eternity (John 8:21-24). In some Bible references, it is referred to as outer darkness (Matthew 22:13). Since God is Light (1John 1:5), it is obvious that God is not in the place of outer darkness since it wouldn’t be dark anymore.

In conclusion, our all knowing God knows only one way of Salvation. How then can anyone presume that if we are sincere, any plan of salvation that we trust in is as good as any other? Our all powerful God cannot lie because of His character. This means we can be sure we have eternal life according to John 5:24 and we have the promise of the Lord‘s return according to John 14. Our everywhere present God is not present with the Christ rejecter who dies and is cast into the Lake of Fire which is the second death (Revelation 20:14). Obviously, now is the time to prepare so that we are not separated from God eternally.

Week of April 25, 2004