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April 2009

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The Dumb Donkey

 

Luke 19:30 "Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here.

 

What is the difference between this dumb donkey and the intelligent religious leaders of Israel of that day? The donkey submitted to the will of God and the religious leaders rejected and crucified the Lord. The donkey was used of the Lord to make his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The religious Pharisees rejected their Messiah and destroyed their nation. Because of them, Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. They were more worried about their own political careers than they were about doing right.

The Pharisees who knew their Bibles missed the fact that when the Lord made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He was fulfilling the prophesy of Daniel 9:26 to the day. In Luke 19:42, the Lord said as he wept over Jerusalem, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes." And on that very day, the end of the 69 weeks of Daniel 9 were being fulfilled and after that the Messiah was crucified or cut off.

Stones cry out when the truth is suppressed (Luke 19:40). Chickens are smart enough to provide safety for their brood (Luke 13:40), but people who have religion instead of Christ are absolutely blind and useless. The Pharisees didn't care that the Lord was innocent, that He did nothing but good, and that He fulfilled the prophetic Scriptures. They just wanted Him out of the way. They were envious of his popularity (Matthew 27:18). Most of creation seems to be more responsive to the will of God than humans who should have been God's crowning achievement in creation.

The little colt was tied outside a door at a crossroads according to Mark 11:4. Some translations say that the colt was tied in an open place but the KJV says it was where two ways met. The greek word seems to imply that there was a fork in the road where that little colt was tied. I believe that we all come to that fork in the road when we have to decide whether we are going to be smart like a dumb donkey or dumb like a smart Pharisee. Are we going to be simple enough to submit to the will of God or so smart that we are going to tell God how to do His work? We meet that fork when we are confronted with our sin and with the truth that the only way to have our sin put away and to be cleansed is through faith in the blood of Christ. Then after we are saved we often come to that fork again and again as we are confronted with the need to be obedient to the will of God. We often have to decide whether to submit like the colt or whether to be self-willed like the religious Jews.

I suspect that when all is said and done, we all act more like Pharisees at times than we do like a submissive donkey. Wouldn't it be nice if we were a little less smart like the Pharisees and a little more dumb like the donkey so that we could be a little more submissive to the Lord? Maybe then we could be used to glorify the Lord in some way.

 

Meditation for the week of April 5, 2005

Serving the Risen Lord

 

1 Thessalonians 1:9

For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.

 

The Lord has been raised from the dead according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:4). The old testament Scriptures that are referred to likely include Psalm 16:10, "For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption." In addition, the Lord referred to Jonah's experience with the great fish as a prophetic Scripture that would be fulfilled when He was raised from the dead (Matthew 12:40).

Because the Lord has been raised from the dead, we do not have the body of the Lord in a grave. We do not have the grave clothes even though there is a lot written about a shroud that some would like to believe covered the Lord when he was buried. We do not have the cross on which he was crucified and we do not have the clothes that the soldiers shared by casting lots. If we had those things it would be easy to worship them. Then we would be among those who worship things that the Lord has made and things that the Lord has used, rather than the Lord Himself.

I believe In remembering the Lord in the breaking of bread. I believe that worship comes before service so I like doing that every Lord's day. But we don't worship the breaking of bread. We worship the Lord by breaking bread and memorializing Him until He comes.

I believe that a person who is saved should show that by being immersed in water to identify with the risen Lord. I question the reality of the salvation of those who are not simple enough or devoted enough to the Lord to want to do this the Lord's way as it was done in the Acts of the Apostles and as it is explained in Romans 6:3-4. But we don't worship the act of baptism, we worship the Lord by being baptized.

I believe that it is easy for us have more devotion for our buildings and our denominations and our traditions that it is for us to be devoted to the Lord. It is easy for us to worship money and possessions and success rather than the Lord. We certainly all have a tendency to worship self rather than the Lord. It is easy to put ourselves first instead of the Lord and to put what we think is right ahead of what the Bible says is right. We are easily turned aside from our true purpose which is to worship God through the Lord Jesus who is God. Even John had to be reminded to worship God and not the messenger of God (Revelation 22:8-9).

We need to ask ourselves if we have truly turned from idols to serve the living and true God. We don't want to be like the children of Israel in the old testament who constantly made idols to worship or who turned aside to worship pagan gods. We have been saved from the penalty that we deserve because of our sin by believing in the risen Lord, and He alone deserves our worship.

 

Meditation for the week of April 12, 2009

Who is our Shepherd?

 

John 10:3

To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

 

Years ago a lady who kept sheep wanted to show some of us her flock. She didn't have very many sheep but she was proud of those that she had. When we were there, the sheep were all in the far end of the pasture. She told us to try calling them. We did and of course they ignored us. But the moment she called, the sheep all came running. When they came to her, she was able to tell us all about every one of them including what she had named them. She was obviously their shepherd.

Leaders of congregations of Christians are often called pastors or shepherds. I believe that being a shepherd is the work of the bishop or overseer spoken of in 1 Timothy 3, in Acts 20:28, and 1 Peter 5:2. The question that is often raised is, "How do we know who our shepherds are?" Acts 20:28 makes it clear that these leaders are raised up by the Holy Spirit. In 1 Thessalonians 5:12, the congregation seems to "know" or recognize them in some way.

One of the ways we know our elders/shepherds/overseers is that they know their sheep by name. That must be quite a feat in a church of thousands. It probably isn't such a difficult proposition in a small church. In addition, some have said that you should be able to go to people in the congregation and ask them who has taken an interest in them and who they would have confidence in if they needed some spiritual advice or Scriptural teaching. Those people would likely be the elders of the group assuming that their lives are lived as described in 1 Timothy 3.

Being a good shepherd is not something a person can be hired to do. Shepherds can be helped financially or given "double honor" according to 1 Timothy 5:17 by their congregations so they can do the work that they do. But their bond to the sheep has to come through raising, feeding, and caring for them. They have to love the sheep enough to learn how to protect them from predators and how to help them when they are sick. There isn't enough money to pay for the love and affection of a good shepherd. They have to do it out of love to the sheep and love to the Lord.

Salesmen are told that one of the sweetest things that any person hears is the sound of their own name assuming that it is spoken reverently. We didn't like it when we were growing up to have our parents use our names in anger. When they called us by our first, middle and last names we were usually in trouble. But when someone remembers our names and uses them when they speak to us in conversation, they get our attention. An elder should know the names of the sheep in his flock. And the sheep should know his voice and respond to it, knowing that it is the voice of one who really cares.

The Lord is the good shepherd who lays down his life for His sheep, but congregations need men who have a shepherd's heart and who know their sheep by name.

Meditation for the week of April 19, 2009

Loyalty

 

Acts 13:21-22

"And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.

"And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.'

 

Loyalty to the LORD is probably what these verses are all about. There are very few people in the Bible or in real life of whom it could be said that they were and are always loyal to the Lord. David, Moses, Joseph and Daniel all come to mind as people on whom the Lord could always depend. Moses and David made mistakes, but they never turned from the faithful worship of Jehovah. Aaron, Moses' brother, is an example of one who was not always loyal.

Aaron is much like many of us today. He helped make a golden calf and encouraged idolatrous worship by the nation of Israel, a people that had only recently been redeemed from bondage. In Exodus 32:4-5 we read, "And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, "This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!" So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, "Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD." The people called it a god, but Aaron seemed to think it only represented Jehovah, their personal God. But God called it idolatry. As far as God was concerned, the golden calf was not Him nor something that represented Him, and it divided the loyalties of the Israelites.

I am convinced that when we worship the Lord we must worship Him the way He asks us to worship Him if we are going to be people who are "after God's own heart." Most Christians are pretty clear about the moral law of God and we stand firm on the fact that a true believer will want to adhere to it. We know we can't force unbelievers to adhere to it, but we can and should order our own lives by the moral law. But we also must be clear that there is only one Bible telling us how congregations of believers should worship as well. And we cannot change the principles associated with the Gospel, with baptism, with separation and sanctification, with the priesthood of all believers, with the differing roles of men and women in the local church, and with the doctrines connected with leadership, stewardship and service and still claim to be loyal to the Lord.

In Matthew 18:20 we read, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." We have heard it taught that this is the principle which convinces us that the Lord is in the presence of a gathering of Christians. But what does it really mean to be gathered "in his name"? This verse really deals with an offense in a local congregation and probably could be paraphrased, "When you do what I, the Lord, have asked you to do, the way I have asked you to do it, I will approve what you do." I think King David walked according to this principle and it was because of this that he was seen as loyal to the Lord, or a man after God's own heart.

I too would like to be known as one who is loyal to the Lord. I am sure that all of us who are saved would. But that may require us to get back to the Bible for our instructions. Aaron took things into his own hands and made the people into idolaters. David was known for inquiring of the Lord and doing the Lord's will. He was the man after God's own heart.

 

Meditation for the week of April 26, 2009