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APRIL 2017

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Fools

 

Psalms 14:1 The fool has said in his heart,"There is no God."

Psalms 53:1 The fool has said in his heart,"There is no God."

Luke 12:20 But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?'

 

Saturday was April Fool's day.  You didn't want to depend on anything you heard and on only half of what you saw on Saturday.  We needed to wait until Sunday to get any sensible news because on April Fool's day the news one read may just have been part of an April fool's prank.  No one seems to know what the origin of April Fool's day was, but some seem to think that it stems from a change in the calendars that we use today.  Whatever the case, one can be extremely foolish on April Fool's day and most people will just think you are having fun. While good fools are considered to be entertaining on this day, this is a good day to consider the foolishness of thinking that there is no God and of preparing for time and not for eternity.

 

The Foolishness of saying there is No God!

King David says that a person is a fool who says that there is no God.  This is repeated twice because of its importance.  A person may question whether they can know God.  A person may question which god is God.  But to take the position that there is no creator God is just as foolish as saying that my car was not designed by an engineer and made by the Kia company. 

 

Some have translated David's Psalms this way, “No God for me.”    That may or may not be the meaning but it makes more rational sense than saying that there is no God at all.  Rebellion against authority is something that is inbred in each one of us.  From the time we are born, we want to call the shots and do things our way.  But if there is a God, we need to know who He is and what He wants.  Some people think that they can rebel against God and get by with it.  This is the attitude of Satan who continually says, “I will” in Isaiah 14:13 and 14, rather than wanting to know God's will. 

 

Others have translated the Psalms this way, “No to God!”  This is very similar to saying, “No God for me.”  However, these people know the word of God.  They know that the Lord Jesus is the Son of God, and they know that they need to be saved.  However, they simply rebel against the idea that God has final authority over them.  Some argue that God is cruel and they want no part of Him.  Others argue that God is unfair and they want no part of Him.  But even if these accusations were true which they are not, God is God.  I wouldn't want to get on His bad side if I thought he was cruel and unfair. 

 

The Foolishness of Planning for Time and Not for Eternity

In Luke 12 the Lord tells the story of a man much like most of the people I meet today.  This man had worked hard and had his retirement plans all made.  He thought he had enough.  But he had not planned on dying before he had a chance to use his retirement funds.  He apparently had made good plans for his time on earth and had made no plans for eternity.   The Bible tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and the Lord will take care of the retirement plan (Matthew 6:33).  Who really has enough confidence in the Lord to test him on this important point?  Many of us say we trust Him for eternity but we still plan for time as though there were no God in heaven Who loves us enough to take care of us.  But even if our faith is small, that is, if we have trouble putting our faith in all of God's promises; there is one promise that we had better believe and test.  That is the promise that is found in Acts 13:38-39, “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

 

The story is told of a king who held auditions for a “fool” or court jester.  He wanted the best one in the land and the person who got the position was to be given the King's staff.    One man finally was given the position and the staff and he entertained the king for many years.  Finally, the king fell ill and was on his death bed.  The “fool” came to visit and asked the King if he had made preparations for the journey he was about to take.  The King said that he had not.  The “fool” then handed him his staff back.  He said, “Your Majesty, you are a bigger fool than I.” 

 

Today I am looking at the news and see that an avalanche of water from three overflowing rivers swept through a small city in Colombia while people slept, destroying homes and killing around 250 unsuspecting residents.  I wonder how many of them were wise and how many were fools. 

 

Lord help us all to remember that we are designed by you for your glory.  Help us to trust you not only for eternity but also for time.

 

Meditation for the week of  April 2, 2017

Is There Really Going to be a Second Coming?

 

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:3). 

 

We do Know that The Promise is Sure

The Lord speaking to His disciples says, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:3).”  This promise is just as sure as the promise in John 3:16 which says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

 

There is only one second coming, not two.  But there are many events associated with the second coming.  For the Christian the second coming is one of hope and comfort.  1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 tells us, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”  Christians who die before the Lord comes will not be forgotten or left out.  They will actually rise first so that they can be caught up or raptured with the saints who are living when the Lord comes.

 

The second coming is one of dread and judgment for the unbeliever.  1 Thessalonians 5:3 says, “For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.”  One of the signs of the second coming of the Lord is that men will mock the fact that it is going to happen. Peter tell us in  2 Peter 3:3-4, “Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation."  When this destruction comes, it will be unexpected because unbelievers are like those who don't lock their doors at night.  They don't lock their doors because they don't expect a thief to come and rob them.  Unbelievers likewise don't expect that the prophetic events associated with “the day of the Lord” or the “great day of His wrath” will really come.  But the Lord is coming again!.

 

We Don't Know When the Events Associated with the Second Coming Begin

We know that the events that usher in the judgment of God upon the world that has rejected His Son begins with the signing of a covenant with a Roman prince (Daniel 9:27).  The many that confirm that covenant likely refers to the Jewish nation.  We know that the true believer has been delivered from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).  So the catching away of Christians must occur before or simultaneously with the signing of this covenant.  But the signing of this covenant ushers in a 7 year period of prophetic years.  The prophetic year based on the Jewish calendar would be 360 days.  So while we don't know when the seven years which is normally called the tribulation period begins, we do know that once it begins  there will be exactly 7 years of 360 days each until the Lord comes back to the Mount of Olives to set up His righteous kingdom.  That kingdom lasts for 1000 years. 

 

We do know that when the events begin, they will take place suddenly.  The Lord say, “Behold I come quickly (Revelation 22:20).”  A better translation would be “Behold I come suddenly.”  An example would be the fall of the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall.  There was a long time between WWII and those events.  But once the events started to happen, they happened quickly or suddenly.  We don't know when the events will start taking place but that when they do take place the Lord is not going to wait on those who weren't ready.  We need to be ready for the Lord's second coming NOW!  (See Hebrews 10:37).

 

So What?

When we see the turmoil in middle east, when we see the potential for nuclear conflict, when we see pollution in our seas from Japan's accident involving its nuclear reactors, when we see the Jewish nation being brought back into Israel in unbelief so that they can sign the peace treaty that we have mentioned above, we should recognize that God in His mercy is warning us to be ready for His second coming.  Men cruelly crucified Him when He came the first time.  For those who repent and believe that He died to save us, His second coming is something the believer can anticipate with joy and hope and comfort.  For those who reject Him, His second coming is going to be much different than His first coming.  . 

 

Luke 17:26-30  says, “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.  Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

 

We all need to be prepared now.  We are accountable to the Lord; He is not accountable to us.  Now is the day of salvation.  We are not given tomorrow.

 

Meditation for the week of April 9, 2017

Supposing vs Knowing

 

John 20:15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, "Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away."

 

My thoughts are not your Thoughts

Sometimes we say in jest, “Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is already made up.”  That is particularly true of things pertaining to our relationship with God.  Somehow the created being thinks he or she is more intelligent than the creator.  Ever since Adam and Eve fell in the garden, men have been deciding what is right and wrong rather than letting God tell them what is right and wrong.  Men suppose that there is no God or they suppose that there are many gods.  They assume that what makes sense to them must be the truth.  However, God says, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).”  We don't think like God thinks and we are not the final authority regarding right and wrong and regarding eternal issues.  God is.  We are not God.

 

Supposing instead of Knowing

The disciples of the Lord were just like us. They had trouble accepting things that did not make sense to them.  One thing that didn't make sense to them was that the Lord had really come to die rather than to reign and that He would rise again from the dead.  That is why when Mary came to the tomb and when she found the stone rolled away, she assumed (supposed) that the Lord's body had been stolen and taken away.  That made sense.  The resurrection of the Lord did not make sense to her.  However, her thinking caused her grief.  She wept at the tomb.  But when the Lord appeared to her and spoke her name, things changed.  Sorrow turned to joy.  Despair turned to hope.  It was almost too good to be true.  But the Lord had been raised from the dead.  It was true.  The angels gave witness to this truth when they said to the women who came to the tomb, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come; see the place where the Lord lay. (Matthew 28:5-6).”

 

Other things that we Suppose

The Jews thought that they knew how to please God because they thought that they knew the Old Testament Scriptures.    But because their minds were made up,  they couldn't be confused with the facts.  Thus, they didn't see the Lord Jesus being the fulfillment of the Scriptures that they taught,  The Lord said in John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”  The Jews had seen the Lord do a notable miracle, but He had done it on the Sabbath and had also said that God was His Father making Himself equal with God. Instead of the miracle opening their eyes to the truth, they wanted to kill a man who wasn't loyal to the party line and who obviously could have made doctors obsolete. 

 

In Mark the Lord begins his earthly ministry by saying,  "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15)."  We can't believe until we repent or get our minds changed because we think wrong and we need an attitude adjustment before we quit supposing.  Once we quit supposing we can accept what God says and we will know.  Sometimes we think we know better than God about the issue of sin, sometimes it has to do with the issue of His justice, sometimes supposing has to do with the issues of eternal punishment.  However, whatever our issues,  we need to settle this in our minds:  God is right even when that makes us wrong.  Until we accept that, we will always be confused about God's way of salvation and we will wonder why there are people that are so sure that they are right. Many of us are sure that what Gods says is right even when it makes no logical sense.  Salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ doesn't really make logical sense to most of us. Surely we must DO SOMETHING to be saved, Right?  Wrong! When we DO SOMETHING we have faith in ourselves.  But what we need to do is to trust the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Thank the Lord!

As we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord at Easter time, we need to remember that just because the resurrection seems unbelievable does not mean that it is unbelievable.  Christ is risen whether we believe it or not.  The angels declared it, the disciples witnessed the living Savior after the resurrection, and we preach it today.  We don't need to suppose.  We can not only know that Christ has risen, we can know our sins are forgiven when we have faith in the resurrected Lord.

Meditation for the week of April 16, 2017

The Centurion had a Teachable Attitude

 

Acts 10:33 So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God."

 

Background

The centurion was a Roman soldier who either had or who was converting to Judaism.  He was sincere in his desire to worship the one true God; and, for some reason, he thought that was the God that the Jews worshiped.  God recognized his sincerity by acknowledging the things in his life that showed his reverence.  But the Jews had crucified the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.  This man needed to know that this crucified man who had been raised from the dead was the answer to his need.   

 

Many people ask me what happens to the people who have never heard the Truth.  It seems that those who seek the Lord do find Him as the Lord has promised.  The Lord speaks through creation, through our consciences, and through His Word.  When any one of these things causes a person to seek the Lord, He will make sure that they hear the clear message of the Gospel.  That was true with Paul on the Damascus Road who was a Jew.  That was true of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8 who was from Africa.  That was also true of the this man who was a Gentile living with the Jews.   The Ethiopian came from Noah's son Ham, Paul came from Noah's son Shem, and this man came from Noah's son Japheth.  So there is no partiality shown by God to those who seek Him. Whosoever will may come and drink of the water of life freely (Revelation 22:17).  Whosoever means whosoever.  Those who never hear the Gospel will have to ultimately admit that they never sincerely sought to know the Truth.

 

The Question

God through His angel told Cornelius to send for Peter.  By the time Cornelius' servants had gotten to Joppa, Peter had been prepared to go with them to a man Peter would have thought was unclean by Jewish standards.  But God had told him not to call that which God had cleansed common or unclean.  Even though it must have been difficult for Peter to accept the fact that He was to preach to a Gentile, He was obedient and went.

 

Cornelius then tells Peter when He arrives, that, “Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God."  They didn't want things sugar coated.  They didn't want to hear part of the truth; they wanted to hear ALL THINGS that Peter was commanded to tell them.  Peter preached the same truth that Paul preached and that we preach today. That message is summarized in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 by Paul, “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.”  Paul them mentions the witnesses to the resurrection as does Peter.  Peter emphasizes that believers receive forgiveness of sins.

 

Application Today

Are we as open minded as Cornelius was?  I realize that the primary application to his readiness had to do with how to become a Christian and not how to act once he became a Christian.  But wouldn't a person who has received the truth of the Gospel want to be open to all the teaching of the Bible having to do with pleasing and glorifying God?

 

I realize that we must rightly divide or correctly explain the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).  But if the truth is found in an epistle, wouldn't that be a proper explanation of the truth of Scripture as it applies to New Testament believers?  I have always assumed that unless the epistles themselves indicate that the things mentioned are not for our day, then the epistles should be taught as the way we should please God today.  1 Corinthians 13 mentions gifts that will vanish or fade away or cease.  But we who are saved should be open to all the teaching found in the Bible and as explained by the epistles. 

 

Today, I hear about the major things that please the Lord and the minor things that should be ignored.  I personally have not found the minor things. I realize that I am perhaps obsessive—compulsive by nature. Today I also hear that we cannot carry out the principles of the epistles, either morally or ceremonially because society and culture has changed.  I really don't want to meet the Lord and try to explain to Him why principles connected with baptism, the Lord's supper, headship as evidenced in the local church and moral evil have all changed.  I don't want to explain why we have arranged things in the church in such a way that the Holy Spirit no longer leads our worship and teaching.  Peter could not be considered a proper teacher today because he didn't have a Bible degree.  Nor could John.  They were considered “uneducated and untrained (Acts 4:13).”  But I would personally like to listen to either of these men if I could today.  I read and re-read what they have written.

 

I would like to believe that some of us are still, “all present before God, to hear all the things commanded by God.”

 

Meditation for the week of  April 23, 2017

Shammah and the Lentils

 

2Sa 23:8  These are the names of the mighty men whom David had:

2Sa 23:11-12  And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines had gathered together into a troop where there was a piece of ground full of lentils. So the people fled from the Philistines. But he stationed himself in the middle of the field, defended it, and killed the Philistines. So the LORD brought about a great victory.

 

David's Mighty Men

The mighty men that are listed in this chapter must have been precious to David.  They fought his battles, they were courageous, they defended him and they were devoted to him.  It appears that any one of them would have been willing to give his life for the life of David.  Of course Joab, David’s chief general, is not in the list.  While Joab did mighty deeds for David, Joab was always out for Joab, while these men seemed to be truly devoted to David.  Joab's armor bearer and his two brothers are listed, but Joab is not.  Today, we need to ask ourselves, “Do we do mighty deeds for ourselves or do we do them for the Lord?”

 

Shammah

I have been thinking about Shammah the son of Agee the Haarite.  He defended a patch of lentils when all the people fled from the Philistines.  Now we know that this literally happened, but there seems to be some allegorical truth here as well.  I would like to believe that the patch of lentils was the food that the Israelites needed.  Shammah was not defending people in this battle, he was defending food.  Now if we consider the Word of God to be food for the people of God and if we can assume that we are called to defend “a patch of lentils” today, would we do it?

 

What about the Doctrines of the Gospel?

I am talking to people today who believe that you can be born again or saved without ever finding out that you are lost.  A person kind of grows into his or her faith according to this doctrine.  But the Bible says that the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).  The idea of being saved is illustrated in the Bible by a number of conversions and by a number of healings and by a number of people who had demons cast out of them.  These experiences were not things that a person would forget.  I can understand forgetting the date when a person who was lost is found and saved, but I cannot understand forgetting the experience.  The Philippian Jailer in Acts 16 was saved and he could tell others how and when it happened.  The Ethiopian Eunuch, Paul, and the Centurion in Acts 8, 9, and 10 knew when they were saved.  Nicodemus in John 3 was born again when he met the Lord at night. Just because it is popular to preach otherwise, we are not being faithful to the unsaved when we give up this patch of lentils just because people and preachers have quit preaching the doctrine. 

 

What about the Doctrine of Headship?

Again, once we are saved, we are surely devoted to the Lord and should be willing to do anything to please Him.  In our chapter, three men risked their lives to get a cup of cold water from a well in Bethlehem where David grew up.  What they did was foolishness in a natural sense.  David wouldn't even drink the water when they brought it because he knew they could have died breaking through the ranks of the enemy to get that one cup of cold water. 

 

We have one teaching in the New Testament that makes no logical sense to me but carrying out the instructions pleases the Lord.  The teaching is found in 1 Corinthians 11 and deals with order in the assembly.  Angels are witnesses to this order and obedience.  A man's uncovered head demonstrates that he as a representative of mankind is subjecting himself to the Lord (his head).  Women are to cover their heads since she represents the glory of man or mankind.  In covering their heads, women are not being singled out as second class citizens.  Instead, they are being given the privilege of teaching the angels that mankind is subject to the Lord in everything that is done in the church.  Put simply, in the assembly, we don't make up our own minds as to how things should be done, we let the Lord lead.  Men's uncovered heads and women's covered heads are simply demonstrating that in object lesson form.  A man's head (the Lord) is to be visible, the woman's head (mankind) is to be out of sight.

 

The Great Commission

How many of us are willing to defend these patches of lentils, today?  I have heard many leaders say that practicing the doctrine of headship as found in 1 Corinthians 11 limits our ability to carry out the great commission.  The great commission as found in Matthew 28:20 requires us to teach disciples “all things”.  I fail to understand how teaching “all things” on headship is going to hinder the work of the Gospel.  I fail to understand how assuming that one can be saved without finding out first that one is lost is going to hinder the work of the Gospel.  But when we give up these patches of lentils, we are giving up truth that not only pleases the Lord, but we are giving up truth that the church needs in order to be preserved.

Meditation for the week of April 30, 2017