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APRIL 2007

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Revelation 1:3 Blessed (happy or well off) is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand (near or ready).

Revelation 8:13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, (alas or sorrow and misery) to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!

 

We all live through miserable days. Recently, we made a trip to California and, through no fault of the airlines, the weather did not cooperate. We waited in the airplane in Cedar Rapids, IA for over an hour waiting for the Dallas airport to give us an invitation to come. Dallas had a lot of storms in the area. When we got to Dallas, we rushed to our connecting flight. However, when we got to the appropriate gate, we found that the plane we were leaving on had mechanical problems. After waiting for about two hours for the plane to be "fixed", they found us another plane. We got out on the runway and then waited two hours for another Dallas storm to pass over the airport. We finally got to Los Angeles, safe and sound, five hours later than planned. That five hours seemed like eternity. Have you ever been in a plane with about 200 people filling every seat while the stewardess's pass out little plastic glasses half-full of water to comfort you? That was a miserable day.

However, that was a good day compared to what is in store for those who reject Christ. I believe that the book of Revelation deals with a future period of time that is ready to happen at any time. That time will be a period of judgment on the living inhabitants of the earth who by and large and have turned their back on God and His Christ. I wouldn't want my friends to be a part of these judgments. I wouldn't even want my dog, if I had one, to pass through these judgments. It will be a period of misery, of death and of sorrow. While many people will actually be saved during this period of time, those who have rejected Christ during this present period of God's grace will not be among them (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).

When faced with sorrow and trouble, many people begin to think about their relationship with God. But this is not the case with most of the people in this period of time when God's wrath is being poured out. They will have become so hard, so rebellious, and so self-centered, that when the judgments come they will continue to worship demons and idols. They will continue to commit gross sins against their fellow man (Revelation 9:20-21). They will not repent and turn to the Lord. Since they worship demons, they obviously believe there is a god, they just won't submit to the God Who wants to bless them. They will have been deceived into believing that the worship of Satan and His lies is going to give them power and happiness. It will be a day much like our present day except that the evil will be much more pronounced.

Instead of the future bringing woe's one after another, our future can bring blessing. We don't have to be able to understand all of the events of the book of Revelation to know that it is better to worship a God who would rather save than destroy than to worship a Devil who would rather destroy than save. God warns us so we can be saved, Satan lies to us so we can be destroyed. It is better to worship One who died for us than to worship one who wants us to die. It is better to worship one who tells the Truth than one who is the Father of lies (John 8:44). But to be blessed, we have to guard the truth that brings blessing when we read it. That means that we have to turn from idols to serve the Living and True God (1 Thessalonians 1:9).

I am not a risk taker. I am and always have been a risk avoider. I don't believe that it makes sense to trade the pleasures of time for an eternity of woe. I would not want to wake up in eternity and find out that I had sold my soul to the devil and that I was going to share with him in his eternal punishment. The Book of Revelation tells us that God, not Satan, wins in the end.

Meditation for the week of April 1, 2007

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

 

Recently a friend of mine and I were trying to find a particular address in a large city. He has lived in the area a long time, but he still decided to use his new global positioning system to find the address. He punched in the address and saw a map of where we were going to go. In his mind, he thought he understood the map, and so he didn't listen to the voice on the GPS system that was giving him instructions. He had asked for the quickest route and the machine was able to observe traffic patterns from its position in space. It knew things we didn't. So its instructions did not follow the original map, but changed so that we would not get involved in a traffic jam. However, my friend thought he knew the way and tended to ignore the machine. Every time he missed a turn that he was told to make, the voice on the system would patiently redirect him from where he was, rather than from where he should have been. I have to admit, I was impressed with that little piece of equipment and the patient voice that my friend kept ignoring.

Our relationship with the Lord is often a lot like my friend's relationship with his new gadget. If there is one thing that is sure in life, it is that what we think is right is wrong. That is, if we make logical decisions in the way that we think should be right, we will not be making spiritual decisions in the way that God says is right (Isaiah 55:8). That is why the Bible says we must repent to believe. We must have our mind changed on most things that God tells us in order for us to accept His instructions. Salvation by grace through faith in Christ, does not make sense naturally. But it is the only way to be saved, and we need to accept that if we are going to trust in God's plan. It doesn't make sense that Christ has risen from the dead; even though, at Easter time, most people pretend to believe in the resurrection story. But God did raise Christ from the dead, whether that makes sense or not.

Often, after we are saved, we tend to tell God how our lives should work out rather than listening to Him so that we can acknowledge and submit to His plan. When we fail to listen, God just continues to patiently instructs us from where we are. Sometimes our own actions that have seemed right have taken us far off the path that the Lord has intended for us (Proverbs 16:25), and we need to be reminded that God has given us instructions as to how to be saved and as to how to worship Him. He has also given us instructions as to how to live. But most of us don't listen because we think we know the way that will please God. Often that is the way that pleases us. We are like the fellow who said, "Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is already made up!"

Wouldn't life be a lot simpler if we could just learn to listen to the Lord? We need to acknowledge the fact that the Lord knows what is right and what is best so that we can have our paths directed by Him. I am sure I would save myself a lot of stubbed toes if I could just get this lesson learned.

 

Meditation for the week of April 8, 2007

John 20:27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

 

Mark 9:24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

Thomas and I have a lot in common. He was always wondering what was going on. In John 11:16, He was willing to follow the Lord to Lazarus' tomb and die there. I am not sure if he thought he would die like Lazarus, or if he would die with the Lord when the Lord died since going back to Judea could get the Lord stoned. But Thomas was loyal and was willing to follow the Lord no matter what the consequences were.

After the resurrection, Thomas was not with the other disciples when the Lord appeared to them in the upper room. In John 20:25, we read, "The other disciples therefore said unto him, we have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe." It wasn't that Thomas didn't want to believe in the resurrection, but he needed evidence before he was able to believe. I think he was being honest about his doubts. The Lord made a special appearance to him, so that his doubts could be removed. He came and showed Thomas the wounds that He had received at His crucifixion. I think the Lord had a special interest in Thomas. He knew that Thomas wanted to believe that He had been raised from the dead but was just overwhelmed with everything that had happened and that he was hearing. But because Thomas asked an honest question, the Lord gave Him what he needed and then told him not to be faithless but to believe.

In Mark 9:23 we read that all things are possible to the one who believes. I know that all things are not possible to me, so I know that there are some places in my life where I do not believe. For example, I do not believe that I can jump off of a ten story building and survive. I do not believe that I can expect God to help me "get even" with people who harm me. In the first case, I do not have the promise of God to help me when I am "tempting or testing" Him (Matthew 4:7). In the second case, I cannot expect the Lord to help me do something that is contrary to His command to love my neighbor (Matthew 22:39). But I even have difficulty trusting the Lord when I have a promise that is written to me and for me. I often need help with my unbelief.

In some cases the Lord has given us a direct promise that we can believe in or trust. For example, He has said that if we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, we will be saved (Acts 16:31). This worked for the jailer in Acts 16. It also worked for the jailer's family. It works one hundred percent of the time. There are other areas in our lives where we just have to have confidence in the God of heaven to do us good and not evil (Matthew 19:17, Matthew 20:15). We have to trust Him even when we don't know exactly where He is taking us. But whether we are depending on a specific promise written to us and for us or whether we are just depending on a good God, we need to be reminded from time to time to not be faithless but to believe. I am convinced that an honest question, will always get an honest answer from the Lord. They may not be answers that will satisfy others, but they will satisfy us. And then we will be able to trust in the One who is trustworthy.

 

Meditation for the week of April 15, 2007

Ephesians 4:26-27

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.

 

When our anger is uncontrolled, we do the work of Satan and not of God. James says to be slow to get angry since, "the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God (James 1:20)."

This last week a lone gunmen killed thirty-two people on the Virginia Tech College Campus, and then he killed himself. Apparently, he had a lot of anger and resentment toward others. If it takes a village to raise a child, that this fellow destroyed the work of a lot people in about two hours. In addition, he apparently did not have a village that provided him support. Those thirty-two people had been clothed, fed, loved and educated. Much money and time had been invested in them. He destroyed all of that in about two hours. He may have destroyed the person who would have found a cure for cancer. It is so easy to destroy and so hard to build. It is so easy to do evil and so hard to do good. It often takes a lot of time and effort to build something that someone evil can destroy in a few minutes.

Most of us get angry. We try to deal with whatever or whoever caused us to get angry and then we move on. We don't continually allow ourselves to be put in the position that caused us the anger if at all possible. Sometimes that requires us to avoid people who are destructive. But normally, we do not dwell on our anger and "let the sun" go down on it so that we begin bearing a grudge and wanting revenge. Letting the sun go down on our wrath is way of saying that we should not dwell on the problem and let it become an obsession with us. When we do dwell on it, we become like Satan, and we often do the work of Satan. We give a place to the devil so that he can destroy. Matthew 8:44 says that he is the father of lies and a murderer. Murder is probably the most evil of the moral sins that we can commit because there is no way to undo what has been done. If an unsaved person is destroyed, they are not only destroyed for time but for eternity. But Satan enjoys destroying life with malice and premeditation.

Back in he old testament there was a man by the name of Ahithophel who waited for the chance to get even with David for violating his granddaughter Bathsheba. (See 2nd Samuel 11:3 and 2nd Samuel 23:34). Ahithophel had been King David's counselor; but when he got the chance to advise Absalom, who had rebelled against his father, he took the opportunity. (See 2nd Samuel 15:12). There is little doubt that he thought David deserved to lose the kingdom. As a result, he helped Absalom in his rebellion. All that happened, however, was that the Lord defeated the counsel of Ahithophel; and, ultimately, Ahithophel took his own life (See 2nd Samuel 17:23).

Satan takes life while the Lord gives life. God breathed into man's nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). He provides eternal life to those who trust Him (John 3:16). We know that Satan is real and that his work is destructive as the gunman on the Virgina Tech campus so clearly proved. I am glad that I also believe that the Lord is real and that His work saves rather than destroys. When we get so angry that we bear grudges, we end up doing Satan's work. Ultimately our anger destroys us.

 

Meditation for the week of April 22, 2007

James 4:14 For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

 

Last week, my Father who was nearly 90 died. He had been in a nursing home and unable to speak clearly because of a stroke for nearly 10 years of his life. His health had been failing for the last year so we had been prepared for this event. Still I had not really expected that Sunday to be the day of his death.

In the history of mankind, only Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) have avoided the death penalty. One hundred percent of the rest of mankind has died. My dad lived a long life and produced a large family. He was talented in many ways, and he had learned a lot about a lot of things. Now that is all gone. Even though his life was long and he left a large family behind him, he hardly caused a blip on the radar screen of eternity.

When we left my Dad at the cemetery, was that the end or was that just the beginning of something more? In this life we go to those who know when we have questions. The only person who can really tell us what happens after death is the Lord Jesus. He came from heaven and He went back to heaven. If I were going to go to Alaska, it would be nice to talk to someone who either lived there now or who had lived there before making the trip. They could tell me what it is like and what I should expect. If I want to know about heaven and hell and the eternal hereafter, rather than talking to philosophers and scientists that can only speculate since they haven't been there, I would want to talk to the only person who is an authority on the subject. That person is the Lord.

The Lord has left His information behind in a book called the Bible. If I pick up an article or a book written by or about Albert Einstein, my inclination is to believe that this person whom I have never seen and who is now dead, wrote or at least was the subject of what I am reading. I think it is only reasonable to assume that the Bible is both written by and about the Lord and that He can and does tell us what to expect after we die. He makes it clear that while the body sleeps awaiting its time of resurrection, the real person that was in the body exists in a conscious state either in bliss or in torment. Moses and Elijah talked with the Lord on the mount of transfiguration years after they had died. Martyrs in the book of the Revelation cry unto the Lord. In Luke 16, a man who died unprepared was in torment and could talk to Abraham who had died years before. When a person dies, it is not the end. It is just a beginning.

I am convinced that my Father is in a state of conscious existence. It is not my business to decide whether people are saved or lost after they die. While I am convinced that my Father was saved, the real message of a funeral is that we all need to be prepared for the day that we die. Many people who say you cannot know you are saved before you die, are always convinced that people are in heaven after they die. I am glad that I know that these things are settled before a person dies. We need to believe that Christ died for us and enter into the spiritual resurrection of John 5:24 so that we can know that we are prepared for what comes after death. John 5:24 says, " Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."

Our lives are but a vapor that appear for a time and then vanishes. No matter what we accomplish, we don't accomplish very much in the light of eternity. Funerals are always sad so it is nice to know that the deceased loved one was wise and made preparation for eternity before dying. I hope that we all are prepared for the day when loved ones will be standing beside our casket.

Meditation for the week of April 29, 2007