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24:31 And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the
days of the elders that over lived Joshua, and which had known all the
works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel.
are told that one of the reasons for studying history is to avoid the
mistakes that have been made in the past. Israel needed a lesson in
history after those who had experienced Jehovah’s miraculous love in
delivering them from Egypt and bringing them into the promised land were
gone. A new generation arose who had not personally experienced “what
the Lord had done for Israel.” They began worshipping like the people
around them worshipped. God hated this worship because it was not the
worship of Him but of idols (imaginary Gods). Israel was to stamp out
this kind of worship and was to be an example of faithfulness. Instead
they were being evangelized instead of being the evangelists.
are told that it takes three generations before a spiritual revival
loses its impact on the descendents of those involved in the revival.
These verses seem to indicate that Israel’s departure occurred in the
usually start with people getting back to the “Word of God”. Josiah’s
revival started with the people finding the “Bible” that had been
lost in the temple (2 Chronicles 34). The protestant revivals that
occurred 500 years ago were largely associated with the printing press
and translating the Bible into a language that people could read.
Revivals in the 1800’s occurred when those who were good church-going
people started having “Bible Studies” and realized that the doctrine
of the church differed from the doctrine of the Bible. Faith still comes
by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Revivals are
usually associated with people who have a concern for proper Bible
interpretation and who then go to the Bible for their guidance and
cause us to love the Lord, to love His Word, to love one another and to
love the unsaved. Revivals are characterized by loyalty and obedience to
the Lord. Revivals bring joy and strength into our Spiritual lives.
Revivals cause us to be selfless rather than selfish. Revivals sometimes
create martyrs and sometimes martyrs create revivals. That is not the
easy path nor is it the popular path, but it is the right path.
do not believe that we should practice things in the church just because
our forefathers practiced them. That is the error of Pharisees who were
more concerned with their traditions than they were with doing what the
Lord really wanted. But neither do I believe that we should cease
practicing Spiritual principles that were practiced in the past in order
to make things work today. I think it takes wisdom to keep what is right
and to change what is often just traditional. Things that cannot be
changed include the Gospel. The way it is presented can be changed but
the message is eternal and unchangeable. In addition, the church is the
Lord’s and not ours. When we change it to meet our needs, we have an
organization that we are building rather than a living organism that the
Lord is building (Matthew 16:18).
believe that the people of every generation have to develop their own
God-given convictions. To do this, we need the perspective of those who
have been faithful before us. We need confidence in the Word of God to
make sure our convictions are not just traditions. I am convinced that
many of us have lost the perspective of history today as we argue about
the things that are essential and the things that are nonessential. My
conviction is that if it is in the Bible, and if it is clearly presented
as truth for the day of grace that we live in, then it is essential. I
want the perspective of history and the help of friends to make sure
that I do not sell out to a religious system from which we are to be
separate (2 Corinthians 6:17). I don’t want to be part of the third
for the week of April 2, 2006
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi,
lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast
thou forsaken me?
am so glad that the Lord asked “why?” I know that He knew the answer
before He asked the question and that the answer was that He was being
forsaken so we could be saved. We who trust in Him will never have to be
forsaken. But by asking “why”, He has given us permission to ask “why“
have been involved in two strong universities in my life time. In one,
if you sat in the student activity center and listened to the
conversations, people were constantly asking, “why”. In the other
people were constantly asking, “how”. The “how“ university
taught people how to do things. These students wanted the answers to the
problems and were not too concerned with why the answers were the
answers. In the “why“ university, the students wanted to know why
the answers were the answers. When we ask, “why” we are reasoning.
When we ask, “how”, we are doing. Both have their place, but I have
always been a “why” person.
Biblical teachers give me the feeling that if I ask God “why“, I am
not trusting Him. Sometimes I ask why He has put me in circumstances
that I don’t understand. Other times I ask why he has given me
Biblical instructions that seem to run counter to common sense. But I
believe that the Lord tells us it is all right to ask “why” so long
as we do it with a submissive spirit.
when we ask the Lord “why“, He says we don’t need to know why. We
just need to trust Him. In Proverbs 3:6 we are reminded, “ In all thy
ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
He says, “Because it is good for you.” In Hebrews 12:11, He says,
“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.”
He says, “Because it will glorify or honor me.” In Matthew 5:16, the
Lord says, “ Let your light so shine before men, that they may see
your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
whether we are passing through circumstances we don’t understand or
whether we are reading instructions for honoring the Lord in the Bible
that we don’t understand, I believe it is all right and even a good
thing to ask “why?” However, when we don’t fully understand the
“why“, blessing still comes with trusting God to know and to do what
is best for us. We still need to be obedient to the Lord’s “how”
even when we don’t fully understand His “why“.
is in heaven and we are on earth. He owes us nothing and yet gives us
everything we need for life and for salvation. He does not have to tell
us everything. He did not even allow the Lord when He was on earth to
know the time of His own return (Mark 13:32). I believe that it is
appropriate to ask “why” but we cannot demand to fully understand
the ways of God before we trust Him and before we obey Him.
for the week of April 9, 2006
8:52-54 And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is
not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn (or ridiculed
Him), knowing that she was dead. And he put them all out, and took her
by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise.
resurrection of the Lord is a cornerstone truth of the Gospel. In 1
Corinthians 15:3 we find that there are three prominent truths in Paul’s
Gospel preaching. One was that Christ died for our sins. The second
truth is that He was buried. The burial proved that the disciples, that
Pilate, that the soldiers who were set as a guard around the tomb, that
the women who came to anoint Him on Sunday morning and that Joseph of
Arimathea and Nicodemus were all convinced that the Lord had died. The
third truth is that Christ was raised again on the third day according
to the Scriptures. Paul says in this chapter that if we don’t believe
in the resurrection, then we have nothing to believe in, and we who are
believers are of all people most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:19).
Martyrs then wasted their lives since there would be nothing to look
forward to after death. But this chapter proves that Christ did rise and
that there are a multitude of witnesses to prove it.
is it then, that the Lord’s ability to raise the dead is so hard to
accept? In John 11, He waited until Lazarus was dead, buried and
stinking before He came to His friend’s grave. Martha, Mary and the
Jews all believed that He could have kept Lazarus from dying, but it
never crossed their minds that He could raise Lazarus from the dead.
Thank goodness, that didn’t stop the Lord from doing it!
were a Jewish religious sect that didn’t believe in the resurrection.
That is why they were sad you see. So in Matthew 22, the Sadducees ask
about a situation where a woman had a husband who died leaving her no
children. According to the old testament, a brother was to marry this
woman and provide the first brother with children who could pass on his
name and who could manage his inheritance. This woman went through seven
brothers without having children by any of them. So the Sadducees wanted
to know whose wife this black widow would be in the resurrection. Seems
like she must have fed them all poison mushrooms or something but the
Lord never dealt with that issue. He just showed the Sadducees that
marriage is for now and not for then. Just because they didn’t believe
in the resurrection didn’t mean that there was no resurrection.
this passage, again, the Lord is laughed at when He suggests that the
girl is sleeping. Now I don’t know if this proves that children under
the age of 12 (verse 42), are safe and will be in heaven because they
have not rejected the Lord (John 3:18), or if this girl was actually a
disciple of Christ. But this terminology is used of those who are
Christians and have died. The body is sleeping until it is awakened and
raised at the resurrection. Most of us enjoy sleep so this is a
comforting way to look at death. This girl was both dead physically and
sleeping as far as the Lord was concerned.
can assure you that I have never seen a resurrection. But I believe that
those who die believing in Christ will be part of the resurrection of
life (Revelation 20:4-5). However, those who have rejected Christ will
also be raised one thousand years later at the resurrection of damnation
(see John 5:29).
may find it hard to believe that the Lord is going to raise the dead.
But it is going to happen whether we believe it or not. Those who do not
believe it will no longer laugh at Him, but He will laugh at them.
Proverbs 1:26 refers to wisdom which pictures Christ. Wisdom says, “I
also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh”
The wise person recognizes that since God has the power of life and
death, it would be wise to turn from sin and skepticism and trust what
God says. Believing in this truth gives us a reason for living and
prepares us for dying.
for the week of April 16, 2006
18:24 A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a
friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
eleven-year-old boy with down syndrome was an inspiration to me
recently. I was a visitor at a congregation where this boy and his
family worship. When he saw me, he decided to be my friend whether I
liked it or not, and I found out that I liked it. During the break
between meetings, snacks were served. He went over and picked up one of
the snacks with his bare hands and came over and handed it to me. I, of
course, ate it, germs and all. Since I am now writing this, he obviously
didn’t harm me. He sat beside me, he found the hymn book we were using
and handed it to me. He hugged me and he kissed my hand. I held his hand
all during one of the meetings and one of the ladies in the meeting
showed me that she had taken a picture of our hands clasped with her
digital camera during the meeting. I then had to have my picture taken
with my friend. Now that boy just wouldn’t take no for an answer, and
it was wonderful.
we complain that we don’t have friends. Some say that if we have one
or two good friends in a lifetime, we are very fortunate. However, if we
don’t have friends, maybe we haven’t been friendly. We just might
have to be the first to say, “good morning” instead of complaining
that others never speak to us. We might have to reach out to someone in
need even if we aren't sure that they “like” us. However, we need to
recognize that no matter how friendly we are, some people will not
accept us as friends. That hurts!
Lord Jesus is the only one who is really the “friend that sticks
closer than a brother”. He was the good Samaritan who saw us wounded
by thieves. (See Luke 10:25-37). He came to where we were when the
religious system would not. He FIXED US UP by pouring in oil and wine.
He PICKED US UP by putting us on his own “beast” and then He PUT US
UP in an inn where we could be cared for until He returns. I suppose the
thieves represent what sin and the world does to us. The oil and wine
represent the saving power of the Gospel. The Inn represents a
congregation that takes care of those who have experienced salvation.
The good Samaritan represents the Lord who has gone away but who has
promised that He is coming again (John 14:1-3).
difference between the Lord and my down-syndrome friend is that the Lord
WILL take no for an answer. Many people reject the Lord when He extends
His friendship and salvation to them. It must be heart-breaking for the
Lord to realize that there are some people who will not respond to His
love and friendship no matter what He does. My Bible says that there are
some serious consequences if we pass from time to eternity without
accepting the Lord as our Savior and friend (John 3:36).
know we call some individuals “down-syndrome” people. But they aren’t.
They are “up-syndrome” people and they are smarter than most “normal”
people. They have friends because they are friendly. And their example
speaks to us of the Lord’s desire to have each of us as His friend.
Those who reject Him are the “down-syndrome” people. They lose a
friend who wants to love them now during this present time, and they
lose their souls for eternity.
for the week of April 23, 2006
Samuel 3:19 And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none
of his words fall to the ground.
seemed to think that every Word that the Lord gave him was precious and
important. Because the people of Israel saw his reverence for the Word
of God, they recognized that he was a prophet of God. I believe that
reverence for the whole Word of God is still the mark of those who truly
love the Lord because they have trusted in the Living Word, that is,
Christ, through the written Word, that is, the Bible.
I hear people tell me that parts of the Bible are not very important.
One of my friends said I spent too much time on the need to be born
again because it was only found in John chapter 3. He was wrong. The new
birth is in John 1:13, John 3, all the way through 1st John, the idea is
found in James 1:18 and Peter explains in in 1 Peter 1:23. But even if
John 3 were the only place where the Lord had said that the new birth
was a must, then wouldn’t the new birth be a must? I think it would.
you ever noticed that when you get a letter from someone who is
important to you, you tend to read it and re-read it. You might even
post it on the refrigerator. If the person is not too important too you,
you may just skim the letter. I believe that our attitude toward the
Word of God tells us something about how important the Lord is to us.
I realize that we need to understand how to interpret the Bible in order
to really understand what the Lord is saying to us. We need to
understand that the old testament was written to Jews. It is
illustrative for us today. The instructions were to an earthly people
with earthly promises and an earthly land. The new testament was written
to a spiritual people with spiritual promises and a spiritual land. Of
course, there are promises and predictions made about the Jewish nation
in the new testament. But the new testament is for a new people composed
of both Jews and non-Jews who have come to the conclusion that Jesus is
the Christ and have trusted Him to put away their sins.
let the new testament explain the old and not the other way around. I
try to read the Bible in its context. The context of the verse, the
context of the book the verse is found in and the context of the Bible
are all important when interpreting a passage. I consider the epistles
(letters) in the new testament to be written by men that had
understanding as to how God thought. These letters are the apostles
doctrine (Acts 2:42) and are the key to Bible interpretation. Also, if
the plain sense makes sense I seek no other sense. I personally will not
let any interpretation of the Bible contradict the stand alone truth of
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten
Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have
love the Word of God. It contains the promise that God loves me. It
gives me the assurance of eternal life. Everything that the Lord said
while here on earth as well as what He has said through those that He
inspired to write is important to me. I may not be known as a prophet of
God like Samuel was but I hope I am known as one who “lets none of His
words fall to the ground.”
for the week of April 30, 2006