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APRIL 2014

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Is God ALWAYS in control?

Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

We who are believers in the Lord, believe that God is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing) and omnipresent (everywhere present). As a result, when bad things happen and sometimes when good things happen we tend to say, "I am glad that I know that God is in control." We also say, "There is no such thing as an accident with God." The presumption is that if God is God, He has everything managed and planned and nothing can turn aside His plans. Is that ALWAYS TRUE?

Sin

There are two words in particular that make me pause when I think of God always having everything under control. One is the word "sin." The other is the word "long-suffering." Sin is basically disobedience. Sin can be not doing what the God has asked us to do or it can be doing what the Lord has asked us not to do. The first is a sin of omission and the second is a sin of commission. When people are sinning, is God in control? I would say no. Our verse says we have gone astray and we have turned to our own way, it does not say that God caused us to disobey and go our own way.

Our verse really has to do with the disobedience of Israel but it applies to all of us. Sin came into the world through Satan who beguiled Eve and who shared her sin with her husband. When Adam and Eve and all of creation was finished, it was "very good." Sin is not only not "very good," it is evil. So did God create sin? No! Did God allow sin? Yes! Did God who is all knowing get caught by surprise by sin? No! That is why God has always provided for the blood sacrifice of animals to prefigure the way He would put away sin at the cross. That is why the Lord could say prophetically, "And the LORD has laid on Him (that is on Christ) the iniquity of us all."

Long-suffering

While God did not cause sin and while sinners are not under Godís control when they are sinning, can God use sin to glorify Himself? Yes! If Adam and Eve had not sinned, humanity would never have known about divine love which is the love for the unlovable. Humanity would never have known how far God would go to forgive our sin. Mankind would never have known about Godís "long-suffering." In 1 Timothy 1:16 Paul says, " However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life." Long-suffering is the patient endurance of lasting offense. In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter reminds us that God is long-suffering because He is not willing that any should perish. He is withholding the fulfillment of His prophetic promises because He still wants to save some. Thank the Lord that He did not come before I trusted in the Lord. The Lord was long-suffering to me, to others, and He is long-suffering to the nation of Israel. Does that mean that He can be charged with causing all the sin that He is being long-suffering toward? No! Does that mean that there are limits as to how far sinners can go and as to how long-suffering the Lord is? Yes!

 

What does God Micromanage?

There are things that the Lord did and does have completely under control. His prophetic plan concerning the coming of the Lord into this world was completely planned. It was completely under His control. There are certain things with regard to the affairs of the nations that seem out of control but that I believe are completely "in control." But one thing I know, even as a Christian I am told to be "filled" or "completely controlled" by the Holy Spirit. This command would not have to be given if each of us was totally "filled" much like a hand puppet is filled by the hand of the puppeteer who controls the puppets movements and speech. In addition, we are told to present our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). Obviously, we arenít always acting like living sacrifices and when we fail, I donít think we can say that we are being controlled by the Holy Spirit and that God is at fault.

God could micromanage everything but He has chosen to test manís sense and loyalty by not doing that. I believe that God is not willing that any should perish and yet many will perish. I believe that they will have only themselves to blame I believe that those who perish will finally have to take responsibility for their own sin and they will not be able to blame others or God for their unbelief. Yes, God is in ultimately in control but that does not mean that He can or should be blamed for all the bad things that happen in this world.

Now are there such things as accidents? We had a bad one at the end of this last year and I can see good coming out of it. But did God cause it? Did He preplan it? I am still pondering that.

Meditation for the week of April 6, 2014

Godís Dear, Precious, Special, Unique and Only Son!

Luke 9: 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!"

A person could be known in a lot of different ways in this life. Some want to be known as President, some as CEO, some as rich, and some as intelligent. But there is nothing quite like being known as "beloved." This a term of endearment that implies a unique special quality of love. This person is precious to the one who is calling him or her beloved. In some cases even the adjective beloved isnít enough and the person is called well-beloved. Such was Godís relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Godís introduction of His Son

When the Lord was baptized, in a sense God the Father introduced Him to the world then since He began his three and one-half years of public ministry at that time. In Luke 3:22 we read, "And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, "You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased."" Later on the mount of transfiguration the Lord is again presented as the beloved Son. Luke records the event in Luke 9:35 which says, "And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!"" I believe that the mount of transfiguration gives us a glimpse of what heaven is like. I believe that God will always keep us reminded of the preciousness to the Lord Jesus to Him; and, thus to those of us who are there. No one who thinks that they earned a spot in heaven by something that they have done could possibly appreciate the preciousness of the Lord, Godís beloved Son. Those people are occupied with themselves and with what they have done and not with the Lord and with what He has done. But those of us who know we donít deserve to be there will truly appreciate how "beloved" this "well-beloved" Son was and is. We are the only ones who will be able to truly understand the magnitude of the love demonstrated to us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Our occupation throughout eternity will be with Him.

The Old Testament Example

In Genesis 22, we have God asking Abraham (the father) to offer Isaac (the unique well-beloved Son) as a burnt offering to God. Isaac had been born after both his mother and father should have been able to have children. He was not only a son of Abrahamís old age, but he was a son of promise. He was born as a result of a miracle by God. He was the son who was the basis of future promised blessing to Abraham. But God tested Abraham to see if he would willingly offer him as a sacrifice to God. Abraham was willing; and, of course, God provided a substitute for Isaac so that Isaac was not slain. We know from Hebrews 11:19 that Abraham had expected Isaac to be raised from the dead, but still this was a real trial when we consider the love of Abraham for Isaac. God says that Abraham loved Isaac. Those of us who have sons and daughters know what that bond of love is like. So it was a very difficult thing that God was asking of Abraham. This helps us understand from a human point-of-view how difficult it must have been for God to "give His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish (John 3:16)."

The Blessing Extends to New Testament Believers

When Paul addresses the Romans he does it this way, "To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 1:7)." The saints or holy ones in Rome were beloved of God. Certainly, if God "so loved" the world that He was willing to give His unique Son as the sacrifice for our sins, then those who trust His Son and respect that sacrifice must be precious to Him as well. The only way a sinner can truly honor the Son in whom God is well-pleased is by simply trusting Him. When we trust the Son that God finds dear or precious, then God finds us dear or precious. That is a wonderful truth.

The Preeminence of Christ

We know that the Old Testament tells us that Christ is coming. The New Testament tells us that Christ came and is coming again. But while Christ is the anointed One of God who came to earth to fulfill a mission and to fulfill prophecy, yet this anointed one of God is Godís beloved Son. God can seem aloof and abstract to me. The truth about Christ can seem deep and academic to me. But the truth that the Lord was Godís beloved Son presents the Gospel in a way that touches me. I can identify with the concept of a beloved Son. I can understand how it must hurt God when people despise and reject His son. Looking at the beloved Son as a father would, I can also understand why those who reject this beloved Son have the wrath of God abiding on them (John 3:26).

Meditation for the week of April 13, 2014

AH-HA MOMENTS!  

Luke 24:39 ďBehold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.Ē  

Some things are hard to believe.  People have a hard time believing that a great fish swallowed Jonah.  Some have trouble with the story of Noah and the flood.  Others deny the reality of God being THEIR creator.  But nearly all of us have to admit that the idea of resurrection sort of boggles the mind.  

Raising Lazarus

When Lazarus died, his sisters and even the Jews believed that if the Lord had been there, Lazarus would not have died.  They had confidence in the Lordís ability to keep people from dying, but they did not believe in the Lordís power to overcome death itself.  In Lazarusí case, he had been dead four days when the Lord called him forth from the grave.  Apparently, there was no doubt that it was Lazarus.  Seeing him must have been one of those Ah-ha moments in their lives.  Ah! The Lord really is the resurrection and the life!  

 

The Raising of the Lord

If you have trouble really believing in the Lordís resurrection, you are not alone.  The apostles and those closest to the Lord had trouble believing in the resurrection as well.  They had been told on numerous occasions that the Lord would be crucified and then raised from the dead.  Luke 18:31-32 says, ďThen He took the twelve aside and said to them, ďBehold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.íĒ  This was written in the Old Testament and yet they didnít believe or understand this.  So the Lord took time to convince them after the resurrection that it was He Himself that had been raised from the dead.  They were not seeing a vision or an apparition or a prophet or a wise man or an angel.  They were seeing Him.  

Mary Magdalene had her ah-ha moment when she heard his voice, Thomas had to see the nail prints in his hands and the wound in His side.  He told the disciple to handle Him and see because a spirit does not have a body like he had.  He ate with them.  Whether this was the body that the Lord will have in heaven remains to be seen.  In this body, He does not mention blood, only flesh and bones. In this body he could appear in their midst miraculously.  However, his earthly body had not seen corruption. I believe, this was His earthly body and that He used His body to prove to the disciples that the resurrection was real.  Whether this was His earthly body that had been raised from the dead or whether this was the body He will have in heaven is really not important.  What is important is that this body convinced those ďhard to believeĒ disciples that this was the Lord Himself that they were seeing.  He was risen!  

Seeing is Believing

These disciples and the women who came to the tomb had to see to believe.  The Lord loved them and made sure that they saw HIM so that they would be blessed with the complete Gospel message. Their sorrow was turned to joy.  The cornerstone truth of the Gospel is that Christ has risen and is coming again.  But knowing the difficulty humans have in believing what is not usual or logical, the Lord says to Thomas in John 20:29, ďThomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.Ē  

Thank God, I am one of those who have not seen and yet have believed.  But because I have believed, I DO see or understand.  I remember when I had an AH-HA moment and trusted the Lord.  

Meditation for the week of April 20, 2014

Am I a True Friend?

2 Samuel 15:37 So Hushai, David's friend, went into the city. And Absalom came into Jerusalem.

David had sinned He had confessed that sin, and the Lord had forgiven him. However, He told David that there would be earthly consequences to murdering Uriah so he could have his wife. When Absalom decides to rebel against David and tries to take the kingdom, I am sure David realized this was happening because of his sin. Absalom was a beautiful cunning man. He reminds us of our real enemy Satan, doesnít he? David is forced to flee Jerusalem, but he is willing to put Himself into the hands of the Lord. He trusted the Lord to deal with him in a right way. I find three people to be interesting studies as Absalom rebels and David flees. One is Ahithophel, one is Hushai and one is Joab.

Ahithopel was a wise counselor, but he was also Bathshebaís grandfather. (Compare 2 Samuel 11:3 and 2 Samuel 23:34). It appears that he had not forgiven David and held a grudge. He sided with Absalom apparently thinking that now David would get what he deserved. In his advice to Absalom, he wanted to destroy David but not Davidís army, and he wanted to do it in battle. That is the way David had destroyed Bathshebaís husband Uriah. While Ahithophelís attitude is understandable, he only destroyed himself by not forgiving David. When his counsel was not followed, he went home and hanged himself.

Hushai was Davidís friend. He had Davidís back, that is, he protected him even though he likely knew all about Davidís failures. He was loyal. That is what having a friend is all about. They may rebuke you, they may disagree with you, but they stick by you and defend you against those who are not your friends. A true friend is a friend at all times. (See Proverbs 17:17). Hushai was a friend to David.

Joab was one of Davidís generals. He was related to David, but Joab was self-willed and self-centered. He was also cruel, and he was strong. David admitted that Joab and his brothers were two strong for him, that is, he could not control him. David wanted Joab to do his best to preserve the life of Absalom, but Joab thought he was doing David a great service when he disobeyed and killed Absalom. Another soldier could have killed Absalom but didnít because he heard David command Joab to deal with Absalom kindly. Joab told that soldier that he would have rewarded him if he had killed Absalom when he had the chance. That soldier had Joabís number and told him that he knew Joab wouldnít have rewarded him. He knew that David would find out, and he would be called to account by David for disobeying. When that happened, he knew Joab would not have his back. (See 2 Samuel 18:13). Joab was all about Joab.

How do we Treat the Lord?

When we think of David, we like to see him as a picture of Christ in his humiliation and rejection. Of course, Christ did not sin while David did so in that respect the picture fails. But we do have to ask ourselves, "What kind of friends are we to the Lord?" Are we grudge bearers? Do we use the Lord to promote our own "ministries" and "businesses" and "positions?" Or are we true loyal friends of the Lord? Do we have His back when He is stigmatized and criticized? Do we do what He wants us to do even when it isnít what we want to do?

 

How do we Treat One Another?

We know that the whole of the moral law is summarized by loving God and loving one another. I have been looking at these three characters in relationship to loving God but we should also consider them in relationship to loving one another. Normally when we talk to people about this issue, they say, "I wish I had one friend like Hushai." But the better question is, "Have I ever been a friend like Hushai?" Have I been that kind of friend to the Lord? Have I ever been that kind of friend to another person? That is a searching question as far as I am concerned.

Meditation for the week of April 23, 2014