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APRIL 2008

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Luke 13:24 "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

Luke 13:25 "When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open for us,' and He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know you, where you are from.'"

Revelation 3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."

Years ago I was driving home late at night with my family in a Saab that had a two cycle engine where the gas and oil were mixed just like in some lawn mowers. It only had three cylinders so when one of them started missing, there wasn't much left. On this particular night, a storm came rolling in from the northwest and I tried to outrun it. It caught up with me about 5 miles from home. The wind was blowing branches across the road and it was raining so hard I couldn't see. Of course, the car decided to start missing. I saw a light in a farm house up ahead and nursed the car to that farm. As I pulled into the drive, the light in the house went out. Since there was a yard light that was still on, I supposed whoever was home turned out the light. I turned the car so that the back was facing the wind, and then I ran to the door of the farm house to see if I could get my family inside. I knocked and knocked in the driving rain with the wind howling and the lightning flashing but no one answered the door. I finally went back to the car and sat out the storm with my family.

That experience made me think of the situation that many will face when they try to enter heaven by their good religious works (Luke 13:26 and Matthew 7:22). They will be knocking at a closed door. The Bible is clear that those who are saved do good works but that none of us are good enough to enter God's heaven by our works. We need to be saved. We need to be cleansed. We need to trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, God's Son. We sometimes ask people if they know the Lord, but the better question would be, "Does the Lord know you?" Paul says in 2Timothy 2:19, "Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: 'The Lord knows those who are His.'"

Since it is painful to be left out in the cold when we want to be invited in, I wonder what the Lord must feel when He is on the outside of His own church. A church is described as the temple of God in 1 Corinthians 3:16 and that is a place where God dwells. However, in our verse in Revelation 3:20, the Lord is on the outside wanting to come in. The church of Laodicea has become something that appeals to people and there is little concern about whether the Lord is welcome there. The encouraging thing in this epistle is that we are not told to leave the church but we are told to open the door so that the Lord is welcomed. Now it is fairly obvious that the problem here is fellowship but whether that is because the people who claim to be part of the church are unsaved or are just so far away from the Lord that they don't realize that there is a problem could be argued. And it is also clear that the door is opened by repentance and renewed zeal for the things that please the Lord. Repentance requires us to acknowledge wrong thinking and wrong actions. The fellowship that is obtained is for the individual and not for the whole church, but once the Lord has fellowship with one person inside the church, likely the atmosphere of the church will change. I am encouraged to believe that one person has the power to change the condition of this lukewarm church that is involved with self rather than with the Lord.

We who are saved need to be zealous and repent so that those who are going through the motions of worshiping the Lord, might realize that our relationship with the Lord can be and should be passionate and not dead. Then the Lord can use us to warn the religious but unconverted of their condition.

Could it be possible that many people who are comfortable inside our churches today may one day be knocking at a closed door to heaven?

Meditation for the week of April 6, 2008

Luke 7:12-15

And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep." Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.

Recently many of my friends have had loved ones die. Some of them have been elderly and some of them have been young. Could the Lord have kept them from dying? Yes! Could the Lord have raised them from the dead after they died? Yes! Did He do either of those two things for my friends? No!

Do I believe in miracles? Yes! I watched three of my four children being born. My wife and I were involved in the process but we sure didn't create life. Each life that is born into this world is a miracle. So the real question is, "Do I believe in unusual miracles?" In other words, do I expect to see someone raised from the dead or do I expect to see a man swallowed by whale and then vomited out on dry ground or do I expect to see a man stand up in a ship and calm the storm that is about to capsize the ship? The answer is no, I do not. However, I do believe that those miracles as recorded in the Bible did actually happen.

One of the arguments against the miracles of the Bible is that they aren't generally happening today. All of them run counter to nature. But that is what makes them miracles and that is why when the Lord Jesus had to be God in order to do them. An almighty all powerful God is the only one Who could create life in my opinion, and He is the only one Who could set aside the normal consequences of nature.

Those who reject the idea that we are God's creation, normally reject the idea that unusual miracles have occurred. The only unusual miracle that they believe in is the time and chance event that started the whole so-called evolutionary process. Those who reject God will normally ask where God came from. While I don't understand how God can exist when He had no beginning, I find the idea that there is a God more believable than the idea that we are all here in this intricately designed ecological system as a result of time and chance. If there is no God, where did matter come from? Where did the spark come from that ignited the first conscious life? I personally find it easier to believe in God than to believe that things "just happened".

Are unusual miracles happening today? I have heard missionaries tell about them, but I have not actually seen them. But they are not happening often like miracles did when Moses brought the children of Israel out of Egypt or when Elijah and Elisha ministered to the nation of Israel or when the Lord was here and even shortly afterward during the early stage of this church age. Miracles have always been used by God to authenticate His Word. Moses spoke for God, Elijah and Elisha spoke for God, the Lord was The Word of God and the early disciples in the church needed to prove that they were speaking for God before a complete Bible was available. While I don't expect to see unusual miracles today, not everyone saw them in the Lord's day either. Not every son who died young was raised from the dead, only one was. Not every woman who had an issue of blood was healed, only one was. While lepers were healed, not all lepers were healed and not all storms were calmed. Miracles were not available on demand, but the miracles that were performed should have convinced the Jews that Jesus was their Messiah. They should convince us today that Jesus is the Son of God and that He has power on earth to forgive sins (Mark 2:10).

Even though I may not expect to see unusual miracles, the Lord might return today for the church and turn the law of gravity upside down as He calls believers up to meet Him in air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). I am sure that the mother of this boy who was raised from the dead didn't expect her miracle either, but it happened just the same. However, even though I don't expect to be witness to an unusual miracle, I do expect to be in Heaven when I die. And one of the reasons I am confident in that is because the Bible says that the Lord did miracles. And I believe the Bible.

Meditation for the week of April 13, 2006

2 Corinthians 4:3-4

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

"None are so blind as those who will not see." I heard this quote often when I was growing up and my research shows that the author is unknown. But I believe many people are blind spiritually because they have invested too much in what they do not want to believe to change their minds and believe God.

Eve wanted to be as the gods making her own judgment as to what was right and what was wrong. Genesis 3:5 quotes the serpent as saying to her, "For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." Satan said that God had cheated her and blinded her, but he could open her eyes or her understanding. In the new testament God says that Satan has blinded us and understanding comes from believing the Word of God. So who is blinding whom?

Lately, I have been drawn into the debate on evolution verses intelligent design. I never cared much for the debate because to me if my car had to be designed and if my house had to be designed, then surely this world had to be designed. I was never too concerned about figuring out all the ins and outs of how the designer did his designing, but I have always believed that the statement "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1)" made common sense. Now I am being told that such simplicity is ignorant and short-sighted and that "good science" does not support such a statement.

Ben Stein has produced a movie called "Expelled: No intelligence allowed." The movie is a documentary dealing with the lack of academic freedom in this area. It shows how "defective" people are dehumanized based on Darwinian evolution. However, what I found especially interesting in the movie was an interview with Richard Dawkins, one of the most respected evolutionary biologists in the world today. When asked by Ben Stein where the first living cell came from, Dawkins said he didn't know. But he knew it couldn't have come from any god. He had no proof and so when pressed as to where that cell came from, he speculated that sometime in the past a superior life form had evolved someplace and had created the cell that was then planted on this earth. Now my question is (and Ben Stein's was), doesn't that allow for intelligent design? My next question is, "Why is it easier to believe the mythical speculation that comes from an intricately designed but proud human being, than to believe God?" The only answer that I can come up with is that if Dawkins were to admit there were a God who designed him, then he would have to admit that he was accountable to that God.

I know that I don't have all the answers. However, believing that there is a Creator seems to me to be the intelligent thing to do. Dawkins and others say there is no shred of evidence that God exists. I wonder if they have studied the academic science connected with verifying the age of old manuscripts and then have studied the old manuscripts that contain the prophecies connected with Israel. If they then studied the secular history of Israel, they would find a close correlation between what God said would happen to Israel when they disobeyed Him and what actually happened. I would call that at least a shred of evidence that God exists and that He has revealed Himself in the Bible. The intelligent thing to do might be to study the Bible with an open mind. I found God there and I found the Lord Jesus who reveals God there. I found salvation there. Solomon who was wise says in Proverbs 3:7, "Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil."

 

Meditation for the week of April 20,2008

Proverbs 14:12, 16:25

There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Men are notorious for not wanting to ask directions when they are lost. I, being a man, have to admit that I know what it is like to look and look for an address and after finally asking for directions finding out that it was right where it was supposed to be but I wasn't where I thought I was.

All of us are alike when it comes to asking for directions about spiritual issues. We want to figure things out for ourselves. One thing many people try to figure out on their own is the answer to the question, "What happens after we die?" We know that things continue after we die. Some think that things continue on earth but that the person who dies ceases to exist. What if they are wrong and that is just one of the things that seems right? If one is wrong, one is wrong for a very long time.

Some who accept the fact that we continue to exist after we die think that a merciful God would not punish people eternally for rejecting the Lord Jesus who provided salvation for us. But what if they are wrong? If they are wrong, the Bible says they are lost and they are lost for a very long time.

Some think that salvation by grace through faith is unfair. Salvation by grace means that sinners can prepare to go to heaven in the eleventh hour if they trust in Christ as the thief did on the cross (Luke 23:43). That also means that people who have done many good things and who have sacrificed much to live good lives could go to hell. Of course, we don't need the Bible to tell us that even good people do bad things. Good people are sinners just like the people that they know are bad. People should do good and live right but those who try to get to heaven by being good and by living right will be wrong for a very long time.

Some think that all the major religions are worshiping the same God. However, John 14:6 says that there is only one way to heaven and that is by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. The only religion that I know of that accepts Christ as the only way to heaven is the one people have called the Christian religion. The others may accept Christ as a prophet or as a good man but they do not accept Him as THE UNIQUE Son of God. How could one who didn't know Who He was be a good man or a prophet? If Christ is not God, then we who trust in Him are lost. If Christ is God then those who do not trust in Him are lost and they are lost for a very long time.

I am convinced that Satan doesn't care what we believe just so long as we don't believe God. That is why people who reject God do so for differing reasons. That is also why there seems to be so many different ways to heaven among those who claim to be Christians.

Does what we believe really matter? Is God going to be merciful to all, even to those who don't believe in Him at all? Is He going to be understanding and merciful to those who have a general belief in God but not a personal trust in the Lord Jesus Christ? The Bible says that what we believe does matter. If there is no God, nothing matters. But if there is a God, nothing else matters; and we better get good directions to heaven.

I have already asked for directions when I was lost in a big city and found out that the people I asked didn't know the city. I couldn't find my own way and they couldn't tell me the way. I had to find someone who knew what they were talking about. In spiritual things, that would be the One who came from heaven and went back to heaven. That person would be the Lord Jesus Christ. He says, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live (John 11:25)."

Meditation for the week of April 27, 2008