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APRIL 2015

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According to the Scriptures!

 

Paul says:

1 Corinthians 15:3-4  For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.

 

The Lord says:

Mark 8:31  And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

 

Revelation 1:18  I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

 

Peter says:

Acts 2:29-32  Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.

 

King David says as quoted above (David could not have been talking about himself):

Psalms 16:9-10  Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;

My flesh also will rest in hope.  For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,

Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.

 

God has given us His Word:

We believe doctors, lawyers, newscasters, politicians, parents, spouses and authors of many books and documentaries.  Many of them do not tell us the truth.  Some don’t really know what they are talking about and some deliberately lie.  But nearly everyone has skeptism when it comes to believing the Bible, and this includes many who call themselves Christians.  I realize the Bible has to be read with intelligence and understanding because it does contain allegories.  The history of Israel in the Old Testament is literal; but the church has not replaced the nation of Israel, and their promises are not the promises of the church.  The Old Testament principles apply to our age but not the ceremonies.  Our promised land is spiritual and not physical.  However, the Bible is not allegorical when it refers prophetically to Christ and the coming wrath of God on this earth. 

 

I wish we all believed in God even when we don’t understand Him.  But convincing people to believe in God by believing in His Son is not like selling automobiles.  We who “sell” the free Gospel cannot “close the deal.”  We present the product, but only the Holy Spirit can convince people of the truth.  Only the Holy Spirit can close the deal.   

 

John tells us in John 20:28-31:

And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

 

My Prayer:

Dear Lord, may those who truly believe in the resurrected Lord enjoy the truth that one day they will be with the Lord who lives forevermore. May those who don’t believe read the Bible with an open mind.   May they be convinced of the Truth by the Holy Spirit.  May they come to faith in the Lord.  I want them to enjoy the peace, the joy, and the forgiveness of sins that believing in the resurrected Lord can give them, and I want to meet them in heaven.  Amen.

 

Meditation for the week of April 5, 2015

Oh for the Good Old Days!

 

1 Samuel 10:24  And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the LORD has chosen, that there is no one like him among all the people?” So all the people shouted and said “Long live the king!”

 

When the Lord chose Saul to be the first King of Israel, Saul didn’t see himself as King material.  In 1 Samuel 9 Samuel tells him that he is the “desire” of Israel.  At that time Saul says, “Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak like this to me (1 Samuel 9:21)?”  He was a Benjamite.  Why was that significant?

 

The Foolishness of the Tribe

At the end of the period of the judges, every man did that which was right in their own eyes.  The Israelites no longer looked to the priestly leadership to guide and instruct them, but they worshipped in the way that they wanted to worship and as a result, most in Israel had turned to idolatry and to the wickedness associated with the practice of idolatry at that time.  There was no accountability to the living God that had delivered the nation from bondage.  The current generation of Israelites had lost the wonder of the miraculous and had turned away from the God of miracles Who was also a God of justice.  As a result, a great sin was committed by a few men in Gibeah from the tribe of Benjamin.  They had abused a man’s slave wife until she died. 

 

The nation of Israel did want to judge this great sin and asked the city to deliver up the evil men who had done this.  But instead of delivering them up, the whole tribe of Benjamin stood together and fought to defend these evil men.  (There is a lesson here for us today.)  As a result the whole tribe was destroyed except for 600 men.  Israel found wives for those 600 men so the tribe didn’t die out, but the tribe did become the smallest in Israel.  No doubt being from Benjamin made a person a social outcast in Israel at that time.  That is the tribe Saul came from.

 

Starting Right but Ending Wrong

Saul started right.  He did have the look of a king about him, but he seemed to realize that he was not kingly material.  He was humble.  If only he had stayed that way.  I suspect he never had the self-confidence that most would think a king should have.  But even though he was “chosen” by God to be king, he failed to honor God in all his decisions.  He became a man who made decisions that seemed right to Him without recognizing his accountability to God.

 

His first mistake was to offer a sacrifice that only a priest should have offered.  His second mistake was to take an oath and not keep it because the oath would have required the death of his son.  He shouldn’t have taken the oath; but, after taking it, he should have kept it.  But the thing that did him in was saving Agag, kind of the Amalekites.  In the Bible, it seems that the Amalekites were representative of the flesh.  They were always fighting the Israelites when the nation was “down,” and Israel was told that they would have war with Amalek from generation to generation.  The king of Amalek represents the flesh and pride in all of us.  It is the trinity of evil that we call ME, MYSELF AND I.   Saul started out humble, but in the end he took things into his own hands.  He lost his kingdom and he lost his life.  I personally don’t believe that he lost his soul. 

 

Lesson

I do not believe that the Lord chooses us to be saved, but He does choose the saved for His purposes.  Each of us that have truly been humbled in the sight of God because we are figuratively from the tribe of Benjamin could do great things for the Lord if we would just stay humble and let Him tell us what to do instead of us telling Him what to do.  We all have an Agag living within us.  It is easy to go from not feeling we can do anything to doing that which God has not called us to do.   We try to be so socially relevant  in our service for God that we have to retranslate the Scriptures that are given by inspiration of God so that we can do what we think is right in our own eyes. 

 

I sometimes look at my own life and ask myself, “How much of what I do is for me and how much of it is for the Lord?”  I sometimes wish I had that freshness and sense of wonder that I had when I was first saved.  I didn’t know much at that time and some of the things I thought I knew were wrong, but I wasn’t worried about offending people by standing up for my convictions.  I did have complete confidence in the Lord.  I was not concerned about being rejected because I was “different.”   And I have to confess that I had joy that I know very little about today.  Oh for the good old days!

 

Meditation for the week of April 12, 2015

Why Indeed?

 

Isaiah 61:1-2  “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,

Because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,

And the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.

 

Spring Time

Spring has arrived where I live.  The magnolia trees are blooming, the tulips and daffodils are beginning to brighten the drab landscape of winter, we hear the birds singing again; and we can hear the water in our babbling brooks.  Sometimes a person can actually smell the fresh air of spring.  Spring can be exhilarating.  It holds the promise of a new beginning. 

 

The Acceptable Year of the Lord

In Luke 4:18-19 the Lord begins His public ministry in Nazareth by quoting from Isaiah 61.  He says he came to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord and He closed the book without reading about the day of vengeance of our God.  The acceptable year of the Lord seems to contain all the blessings of the Jubilee year mentioned in Leviticus 25.  The Jews had a calendar that included a Sabbath year every seven years when debts and the Israelite slaves were released.  There was to be no sowing or reaping by the landlord.  They lived off of what the land produced voluntarily.   On the fiftieth year, property went back to its original families.  The fiftieth year may have followed a seventh year of release but more likely the fiftieth year and the year of release were one and the same in that cycle of seven sevens.  But nevertheless, an Israelite that had gotten into debt or that had sold himself or his family as slaves or who had lost their property would be made whole again by the end of that fiftieth year. 

 

This fiftieth year blessings were being offered to the nation of Israel when the Lord began His earthly ministry.  And those blessings are offered to everyone today who will trust the Lord.  Normally we link the acceptable year of the Lord with the coming thousand year reign of Christ and of course that will be a jubilee or a celebration of joy.  We sometimes link the acceptable year of the Lord with the coming of the Lord for the church when He saves the believer from the “wrath to come (1 Thessalonian 1:10).”  Notice that the Lord closed the book before reading about the day of vengeance which is coming as well.  But the Lord didn’t come for the purpose of vengeance or retribution when He came the first time.  That will occur when He comes the second time.

 

The Order of His Commission

Normally we who study the Bible and the different ways that God has governed down through the ages believe that the tribulation period which is still future precedes the thousand year reign of Christ.  But here in Luke 4 the “acceptable year of the Lord” occurs before the coming wrath or tribulation period.  Now I still think that the “acceptable year of the Lord” in Isaiah 61 refers to the Jubilee year of Leviticus 25.  I believe that Leviticus 25 will be literally fulfilled in the thousand year righteous reign of the Lord.  However, the reversal of the order of events in Luke 4 convinces me that there is a spiritual kingdom that we can enter into now through the new birth (See John 3:3).  And spiritually, the blessings of the Jubilee year can be ours now.  This shows us that there is a difference between that which is spiritual for the Christian now and that which is temporal and physical for the nations in a coming day. 

 

Anticipation

Can you imagine what an indebted, imprisoned, bankrupt, broken-hearted Israelite would feel as he or she anticipated the release of that fiftieth year as well as the partial releases of each seventh year.  The Lord had provided for second chances.  Things that had gone wrong were to be made right.  Those who were broken-hearted could look forward to joy and hope. It would be better than the blessings of spring.  And that is what the Lord was offering the nation in Luke 4.  Foreigners entered into those blessings before Israelites in many cases.  The nation as a whole rejected the Lord.  They lost the blessings that the Lord was offering and now as a nation they have to face the “day of vengeance of our God.” 

 

What about Us?

Why would anyone think that trusting the Lord would bring them a curse instead of a blessing?  Why would anyone turn their back on the spiritual spring or year of jubilee that the Lord came to proclaim?  Why indeed?

 

  Meditation for the week of April 19, 2015

The True Report

 

Luke 19:32  So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them.

 

Loosing the donkey that the Lord Needed

Can we depend upon what the Lord says?  The short answer is “yes.”  The long answer is that when it comes to the eternal blessings that He has told us about, the believer can not only depend on what the Lord says; but it is evident that the blessings will far exceed our expectations.  When we follow the Lord’s instructions, we can be sure that we will find everything just as the Lord has said.

 

Preparing for the Last Supper

In Luke 22, the Lord told his disciples to look for a man bearing a pitcher of water and to follow him to a large upper room that would already be furnished for the Passover.  When they followed the instructions, they found the room.  It was found the way He said to find it, and it was prepared the way He said it would be furnished.  They must have known by now that they could trust the Lord and that He would guide them in the right way.  A man bearing a pitcher of water was not usual in that day when the women usually had that chore.  But they followed His instructions and in Luke 22:13 we read, “So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover.” 

 

Do we Believe the Lord?

We say we believe the Lord, but do we really?  The Lord can be depended upon to tell us the truth about the here and now, and He tells us the truth about eternity.  It seems to me that we second-guess Him about the here and now and sometimes have doubts about eternity.  But we need to have faith that when we follow the Lord’s instructions, we will find things to be just as He has said.

 

The Lord Jesus says that if we trust Him we are saved, but that isn’t good enough for most people.  They add conditions to what the Lord says   But I believe that when we trust the Lord we are saved for time and eternity.  I am thankful that it isn’t what we do that saves, it is what Christ did for us that saves.  And it isn’t until we trust the Father’s Son and Him alone that the Lord finds anything in us that pleases Him. 

 

After we are saved, of course we want to do those things that would please the Lord who gave Himself for us.  But we tend to second-guess the Lord when it comes to worshiping Him.  He wants us to enjoy His presence and to be occupied with Him.  It seems to me that we tend to call worship that which pleases us.  We go to the churches of our choice.  We want the kind of music that pleases us.  We want to go where our friends are.  We want to listen to the popular preachers. Really the whole business seems to be fairly self-centered.  The Lord wants us to be Christ-centered and not self-centered in our worship—otherwise it is not really worship.

 

What About Eternity?

Many good Christians have come to the end of the road and have had Satan taunt them with “his fiery darts” (Ephesians 6:16).  They begin to wonder what to expect when they take that last breath.  Is there really a place that has been prepared for the believer called “the Father’s house” (John 14:1-3)? What will that place be like?  Sometimes when we are weak and discouraged by sickness and sometimes loneliness, Satan manages to cast doubt on all that we believe.  But I believe that all that the Lord has told us is true and that the half has not been told us.  Solomon’s reign gives us a little glimpse into the future glory of the Lord.

 

The True Report 

The Queen of Sheba had heard about the wisdom, riches and glory of Solomon.  She had to visit him to see if all that she had heard was true.  She found that what she had heard was only a fraction of what could have been said.  In 2 Chronicles 9:5-6 she says to Solomon, “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. However I did not believe their words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed the half of the greatness of your wisdom was not told me. You exceed the fame of which I heard.”

 

It will be just as He has Said

When in a moment of weakness, Satan gets us to believe our doubts and to doubt our beliefs, we should take courage.  God says that the Christian has it made.  The unbeliever, not so much.  But for the believer our future is going to be better than anything we can imagine.  Someday we are going to find out that the half has not been told us.

 

 

Meditation for the week of April 26, 2015