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APRIL 2011

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The Library that is Lost by Death

 

1 Kings 12:6-8 Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who stood before his father Solomon while he still lived, and he said, "How do you advise me to answer these people?" And they spoke to him, saying, "If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever." But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him.

 

Recently, I was considering 2 Thessalonians 2 as part of a message that I was going to give on end time events. I remembered that I had discussed this passage with a preacher by the name of John Slabaugh that I knew well when I was younger. He had wondered if I had an opinion as to whether the "man of sin" that is to be revealed after the rapture of the church was the first "beast" of Revelation 13 or the second "beast". I really had never considered the question before but have thought about it a lot since. Will the "man of sin" be a Jew or a Gentile? I am not sure that this matters a great deal in the broad scheme of things since I am convinced that Christians are delivered from the trials found in that chapter through the catching away of the church. However, it would have been nice to have been able to talk to that preacher to see what he had concluded in later life. I couldn't take advantage of his knowledge, however, because he is now with the Lord.

We live in a society where being young is glamorized. Younger people generally do not want to spend time around, learn from, or in general associate with older people. When I was a young preacher, I never spoke or offered suggestions until older men had spoken first. Now that I am older, I often see older people holding back. They let those who are younger do the teaching since they don't want to discourage them. When youth conferences are held, younger men who can "identify" with young people are often asked to speak. Young people don't realize how much they are missing when they get all their teaching and their values from their contemporaries. Once the older people with the knowledge and experience that many years and many mistakes have given them are gone, the library of information and experience that could have been a help to the younger generation will be gone as well.

Rehoboam made a great mistake when he listened to the young men who had grown up with him and forsook the advice of age and reason. Of course, Rehoboam listened to those who told him what he wanted to hear. No doubt Rehoboam wanted power, and he wanted the respect that his father had enjoyed. However, you can't demand respect, you have to earn it. The older men knew that, and the younger men did not. There is a reason why people who are to be leaders in local congregations of Christians are called "elders" and not "youngers." Younger people often have enthusiasm and vision that older people have lost, but the older people have knowledge and experience that the younger people lack. It is true that sometimes older people are stuck in a rut and they don't want anything to change, but there are times when they do know things that younger people do not. It is too bad that we live in a polarized society where groups of people tend to compete with each other rather than cooperating with each other.

Adam lived nearly one thousand years and he talked with God. Think of what he knew when he died. One thing he knew is that one act of disobedience can not only affect you but it can affect generations to come. I would love to have sat with him and listened to the knowledge and experience that he must have gained during that nearly one thousand years. However, I can't because he died.

Obviously, seventy or eighty years of knowledge and experience are nothing when compared to a thousand. And in spite of what I have said, I will be talking to the younger technicians and not the older ones when my computer needs fixing. But for guidance with regard to life's decisions, there are untapped libraries around us. I hope we don't let them die before we take advantage of them.

 

Meditation for the week of April 3, 2011

Speak Lord!

 

1 Samuel 3:7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor was the word of the LORD yet revealed to him.

 

Every person must meet the Lord Jesus personally and trust Him if they are going to be in God's heaven. The Bible calls this being "born again." Peter refers to this experience in his epistle when he says, "having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:23)." The Lord emphatically says in John 3:3, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." In John 3:7 he says, "You MUST be born again." The new birth brings us into a new relationship of trust with the Lord Jesus. It fits us for heaven. It changes us from people living for self to a people who live to please the Lord. When we are born again, we love the Word of God.

When I study my Bible, I look for principles in the Gospels, examples in the Acts of the Apostles, teaching in the epistles, and illustrations in the old testament so that I am sure I am not taking a doctrine out of context or applying the principle of law to the day of grace in an inappropriate way. John has given us the principle of the new birth in John 3. The Philippian jailer in Acts 16 is an example of the new birth. Peter has given us teaching in his epistle. Samuel is one of the old testament illustrations of the new birth.

I notice in 1 Samuel 1:11 that Samuel was dedicated to the Lord before he was born physically. He may have been part of the worship in the temple before he was born again (See 1 Samuel 1:28). He definitely ministered to the priest Eli in the temple before he was born again (See 1 Samuel 3: 1). However, while the old testament life changing encounters with the Lord are not called being born again as they are in the new testament, I believe that Samuel was "born again" in this passage. I have noticed that the new birth is through the Word of God in 1 Peter. It is by hearing the Word of God in Romans 10:17. Samuel had not had the Word of the Lord revealed to Him until he met the Lord on this night when the Lord called to him. After this experience the Word of the Lord was precious to him and he spoke for the Lord as a prophet.

There was a change that occurred in Samuel's life when the Lord called to him that night. Since Samuel had thought Eli the priest was calling him, he kept trying to respond to Eli. When Eli realized the Lord was calling Samuel, he told Samuel to wait for the Lord to call and then to say, "Speak LORD for your servant hears." However, Samuel said, "Speak for your servant hears." It appears that Samuel was unable or unwilling to use the term LORD or Jehovah. Likely it was because he didn't "know" Him yet as the passage says.

I realize that we come to "know" the Lord in different ways. Most of us in new testament times come to know him because we hear the Word of God and are convicted that we have never been "born again." We find out that we need to be born again because the Bible says we need to be. Of course we also need to be born again because we who are sinners by nature and by practice need to become saints through faith in Christ. Our sins need to be forgiven through trust in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only when the Word of God becomes real to us through the power of the Holy Spirit that we will actually "know" that the Lord died for us personally. Then we will not only "know the Lord", we will know that we have forgiveness of sins and eternal life because the Word of God and not the word of man will assure us of that (1 John 5:13).

Every person needs to know the Lord. Samuel's story doesn't center on his deep need to know the Lord because of his sins even though he like all people was a sinner. Before he knew the Lord he was unsaved or lost. Afterwards, he was saved or "born again." Even though he was involved in the formal ceremonies of worship in the temple and even though he was dedicated to the Lord before he was born, he still needed to be "born again."

I know I am born again. I remember when the Word of God became "enough" to assure me that Christ had already died to save me from the penalty that I deserved because of my sins and that He didn't need to do any more than that for me to be saved. Of course, for that truth to do me any good, I had to trust the Lord by trusting the Word of God. I had no trouble trusting when I finally realized that the Word of God promised me that Christ had already done the work that saves and I just simply needed to believe in or trust what God had said. That gave me a new life with Christ. I often wonder what life would have held for me if that important event had never occurred in my life.

The Bible says, YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN!" There are no detours, loopholes or exceptions. I have never met a person who is saved and sure of it that wishes he had never been "born again." Please make sure that you know the Lord and that you know you have eternal life.

 

Meditation for the week of April 10, 2011

God, Who is He?

 

John 8:24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."

 

Muslim's worship Allah. Jews worship Jehovah. Christians worship the Lord Jesus Christ. Are we all worshiping the same God in a different way or are we all worshiping a different God? I believe the verse we are looking at shows that we are not all worshiping the same God.

My friends who have good language skills have convinced me that a Muslim translating the Jewish word for God, would use the word Allah and it would mean the same thing to the Muslim that the word God does to the Jew and the Christian. God is the Mighty One or the Supreme Being. Even though a Muslim would call God Allah, they would say that they are worshiping the One and only Supreme Being.

Jehovah is the personal name for the Jewish Supreme Being. The old testament, the Bible for a Jew, teaches that Jehovah would suffer before he reigned. Jehovah introduced Himself to the Jews through Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3. The Jews had known all about God before Moses' experience at the burning bush, but now they know him as a Savior, a Redeemer, and a Deliverer. He is no longer an abstract distant God. It is Jehovah that led them out of Egypt and that guided them through the wilderness to the promised land. Christians know that Jesus in the new testament is the Jehovah of the old testament. In Isaiah 6, Isaiah has a vision of the Lord. The sixth verse makes it clear that he is seeing Jehovah of Hosts or Jehovah All Powerful. In John 12:41, the passage in its context clearly states that this was none other than Jesus in his pre-incarnate glory. Isaiah saw the Lord Jesus Christ!

When a Christian worships Jesus, He is worshiping Jehovah and He is worshiping the one and only living God. When a Jew truly worships Jehovah, he is worshiping that same God. However, when a Jew does not believe that Jesus is God or that He is the Jehovah that they say they worship, then they are rejecting the Messiah of their own Scripture. Since the Lord makes it clear that He is one with the Father (John 10:30), Jews who do not accept the Lord Jesus as their Messiah, are not worshiping the same God that Christians worship. Neither are they worshiping the God of their own Sacred Writings.

Jews who should have understood that Jesus is the Messiah based on their Scriptures but who do not accept that and a Muslim who is taught by their Scriptures that He is not the Messiah are both rejecting Jesus. In both cases their God is not Jesus who is fully and completely God (Colossians 2:9). The Lord says, "if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins." I AM is one way of expressing the name Jehovah or the ever-existing One. The word "He" has been added by translators for clarity but that addition actually makes the passage unclear.

Both Jews and Muslims who do not accept Jesus as God may worship a Supreme Being in some abstract way, but they don't worship my God. My God is the only One who saves. He is the only way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). No man comes to the Father except through Him. We must believe that Jesus is the I AM in order to believe that He had the power and authority to die for our sins.

When we think clearly about these groups of people, we realize that they are both just sinners who need our Savior. Both groups have rejected Christ for different reasons and thus they have rejected the only One who can save. Our responsibility as Christians is not to fear them or to isolate them socially or to verbally attack them but to love them enough to preach Christ to them. The Lord Jesus who is the Almighty One or God wants us all to trust and worship Him and only Him. It makes all the difference for eternity.

 

Meditation for the week of April 17, 2011

Peace in Troubling Times

 

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3)

 

If it were not so I would have told you! Would the Lord lie to his disciples? No! They were his friends. They had followed Him and had been faithful to Him (with the exception of Judas). Not only would the Lord not lie to his friends, we are told that He is THE TRUTH (John 14:6). We are told that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2) and that it is impossible for Him to lie (Hebrews 6:18). As God, the Lord could not lie; and as a friend of the disciples, He would not lie.

The cornerstone truth of the Gospel is that Christ rose from the dead. That was the great miracle that vindicated the Lord's claim to be the Messiah. Because He was raised from the dead, we know that He died for our sins. The burial proves that He died and did not just go into a coma. The Lord died, was buried and was raised again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). This is bedrock truth. Now the question is, do we really believe this?

Salvation is assured to BELIEVERS in Christ! Damnation is assured to UNBELIEVERS! To trust in Christ, that is, to be a believer in Christ, one must believe in the resurrection. It is the resurrection that sets the Lord apart from every other religious leader and Christianity apart from every other religious system.

If you have trouble believing in the resurrection, you are not alone. The disciples had been told over and over again that the Lord would die and that he would rise again. But they had trouble believing it. In John 21:13, Mary Magdalene persisted in believing that His body had been taken away even after the other disciples had left the empty tomb. After seeing the Lord, she went to tell the eleven that she had seen the Lord and that He was alive, however, they didn't believe her. Mark 16:9-11 says, "Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe."

Resurrections from the dead are few and far between. We don't experience them, therefore, it is difficult to believe in them. The Lord was the first one (and to this day is the only one) raised from the dead that did not die again. While we may have trouble believing this truth, believe it we must! Our believing it doesn't make it true. It is true whether we believe it or not. But our believing the truth, makes it effectual in our lives. We can be sure we are saved because God does not lie.

For the scientists who must have EVIDENCE, 1 Corinthians 15:6 says over 500 witnesses had seen the living Lord after his resurrection. Most of them were still alive when Paul wrote this chapter. I think 500 witnesses that agree could probably convince a jury in a court of law as to the truth of the resurrection.

Sunday of that Passover week, was a day of great victory and joy. Satan had been defeated even though he still has been allowed to have power in this present unsaved society. He wants to convince people that the resurrection is just another of the pagan myths. The Holy Spirit wants to convince people that Christ has been raised from the dead. Which is it? Believing in the resurrected Lord gives peace, puts our sins away, and gives us a home in heaven. Rejecting the Lord and His resurrection will leave a person "condemned already" (John 3:18).

I hope we can all thank the Lord from a believing heart that Christ died according to the scriptures, was buried and was raised again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). The truth of the resurrection of Christ is what gives peace in troubling times.

 

Meditation for the week of April 24, 2011