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to Archived Meditations
End or the Beginning?
14:10 But man dies and is laid away; Indeed he breathes his last And
where is he?
we buried another close friend. She had been asked by a preacher friend
many years ago, "Where will you be in 100 years?" This caused
her to research the issues of sin and judgment as well as the issues of
heaven and hell. She found out a good person cannot go to heaven because
none of us are good (Romans 3:10). She also found out that Christ died
for sinners so that we would not have to be condemned eternally (Romans
5:8). That truth gave her peace about her relationship with God for
eternity. When she came down with cancer, she fought to live with all of
her might, but she made it clear that she was ready to die. And die she
her funeral we were told that she was rejoicing with her Savior in
heaven. We were told that even though we were putting her body in the
grave, that the real person was already "with the Lord" (2
Corinthians 5:8). We were told that some day her body would be raised
from the dead and would be reunited with the real person that had
recently left her body and that she would serve and praise the the Lord
in a new body forever. I have preached all of these truths at the
funerals of people who have obviously "believed in or on" the
Lord Jesus for salvation. But I never go to a funeral but what the
"fiery dart of the wicked one" (Ephesians 6:16) is thrown at
me, and I wonder if I have preached the truth. Is this just the
beginning for the person that died or is it the end and is there nothing
beyond the grave?
know that a preacher is not supposed to admit that things like that go
through his mind because we preach that when we are saved we should KNOW
we are saved based on God's promises (1 John 5:13). So how could we have
faith and wonder if we are right at the same time? I look at these times
as times to have my faith strengthened and confirmed as I go through the
following thought process:
I prove scientifically that what I believe is true? No. I can prove that
some things in the Bible are provable by science but science often
changes its mind about things so I don't get my assurance from so-called
there any good reason not to believe what the Bible says? No! However,
there might be if there were other authoritative writings with better
messages. These writings would have to claim to be inspired by God.
These writings would have to have the kinds of evidence that the Bible
has to authenticate their claims of inspiration. The Bible has the
children of Israel as an object lesson showing us how God deals with sin
and and how He saves. The Bible has the Lord fulfilling many prophecies
written many years before He came. The Bible claims that the Lord was
raised from the dead and has over 500 witnesses to that fact. These
things give us reason to believe that He is the Messiah and our Savior.
I know of no other book or prophet or system of religion that has such
there any good reasons to believe what the Bible says? Yes! We have
already given some of those reasons. The message of the Bible gives us a
reason for living, comfort in dying and hope for the future. If people
die without eternal life then this present life is certainly hopeless
reason that I believe the Bible and its message of hope and salvation is
because I have seen the Lord work miracles in my own life and the life
of my family. The events associated with our going into the Lord's work
full-time as preachers of the Gospel depending on the Lord alone for
financial support and then being preserved in that work cannot be
recounted here, but we have seen God do miraculous things. These
experiences should be written in a book for our children to remind them
and others that God is real. God's promises are yea and amen, and a life
of faith is an adventure with God.
we have to believe God in order to have our doubts quenched. And
ultimately, I believe God because I want to and because I think
believing in Him makes sense. I can't quite understand what there is to
gain by not believing the God of the Bible.
once again, I have come to the conclusion that my friend's death was the
beginning and not the end.
for the week of August 1, 2010
the One we Have not Seen
Peter 1:8 Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him,
yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.
who have become "followers of Christ" or "believers in
Christ" in today's world are following and trusting One we have
never seen. The Bible has an historical written record of the life of
the Lord that includes the names of many who did see Him. Some saw Him
as a side-show oddity. They just wanted to see if He could do some
miracle. Some saw Him as competition to their own plans and popularity
and wanted to crucify Him. Some saw Him as their Messiah and Savior.
Those who really believed in Him, loved Him. Sometimes they didn't act
like they loved him but when they were asked, "do you love
me?", they could say, "Lord, you know all things, you know
that I love you (John 21:17)." I wonder if the Lord knows that
about those of us that claim to be believers in Him today? After all,
those of us in our generation have never seen Him except by the eye of
can you tell whom someone loves? Usually they want to spend time with
that person and talk with them. You can tell a lot about whom a person
loves by whether they spend money on that person and if they make
sacrifices for that person. As you listen to what a person talks about,
the loves of their lives become very evident. But you can also tell a
lot about what a person thinks of another person by the way they say
have some friends who will never say my name unless they are upset with
me. Then they know how to say it. My mom used to have several ways that
she said my name and many of them I did not want to hear. Normally if I
hear a Bruce Dean from a family member that is not a good thing. (Dean
is my middle name). Some of my really close friends call me Brucey. I
find that demeaning. It may have been all right when I was five but I am
not five any more. I have some who call me Brewster. I think that is a
pet name for me, but I am never sure how to take it. Students at Bible
camps and at children's meetings often call me Mr. Bruce which shows
respect without a lot of formality. I have some friends who always speak
to me or write to me using my name in a nice appropriate way. For some
it is just Bruce, some it is Hi Bruce and some it is Dear Bruce. But
they care enough to know and say my actual personal name in a friendly
way. I like that.
suspect that the way we say the name of the Lord is noticed by Him as
well. We hear some people who say His name with an exclamation point
after it and we know that they are swearing. I always wonder why it is
the name of the One that they say that they don't believe in that they
use in this way. Why not pick a President and use his name to emphasize
a point. For example, why don't they say "By George Washington,
that car was a lemon!"?
there are those who obviously love the Lord by the way that they say His
name. Many are careful to use the title Lord to show him respect. Often
I listen to see how the name of the Lord Jesus is being used in the
worship service in the congregations where we remember the Lord in the
breaking of bread. Our songs often do a better job of using the name of
the Lord Jesus than our prayers and preaching do. If the Lord likes to
hear us say His name in a reverent way, I am afraid that He would often
be disappointed when we are worshiping Him. Quite often we talk about
Him as though He isn't even there. In some congregations, we seldom talk
is an abstract concept. All religions worship God. But Jesus is the
personal revelation of God. Is it possible that those of us who claim to
know Him and love Him do not really believe that He is personally
interested and present when we worship? Is the reality of the personal
presence of this One that we have not seen real in our lives?
we truly love Him, let's talk to Him, spend time with Him, spend money
on Him, sacrifice for Him and address Him reverently by His personal
name, the Lord Jesus.
for the week of August 8, 2010
do we like Birthdays?
as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so
Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly
wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for
we were celebrating a birthday in our family when our eight year old
grandson asked, "Why do people like birthdays? They only bring them
closer to dying!" I was surprised that he would think that deeply
about death, but since he had recently trusted in the Lord for
salvation, maybe I should have recognized that the idea of dying had
above verse says that we are all appointed to die once. The verse must
mean that we are all appointed to die a physical death at least once
since there were people in the Bible who died twice. Lazarus in John 11,
for example, was raised from the dead to die again. And yet even this
principle has one major exception because we are told that when the Lord
returns those who are alive will be caught up or raptured to meet the
Lord in the air. These like Enoch and Elijah of old will not die. But in
the normal course of events, we all die, one-hundred percent of the
as some will not die at all even though the general principle is that
everyone dies, many others, in addition to those raised from the dead in
the Bible, are going to die twice. We know that death is not the
cessation of existence or being, but it is separation from God. Those
who want to be judged by their works instead of by the work of Christ
will miss out on this great salvation, and after they die physically
they will be brought before the Lord, the great judge of all the earth.
They will find out that their good works did not out-weigh their bad
deeds or sins. They will see a record of their sins that were never
forgiven or blotted out of the records that the Lord is keeping. They
will not be found in the lamb's book of life and will be cast into the
lake of fire which is the second death. This is eternal separation from
God, the source of light and life and love (See Revelation 20:11-15).
is the result of sin. Thus, every time we go to a funeral we are
reminded that sin is real and death is real. Hopefully, whoever preaches
the funeral will remind the audience that salvation is real as well.
Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. Some argue about how
many the word many takes in, but I can assure you that the word was
large enough to take in me, and it is large enough to take in you.
of us have a zest for living and we are not looking forward to dying. We
are told that death is the last enemy that shall be destroyed (1
Corinthians 15:26). Even if we are saved and looking forward to an
eternity with the Lord, most of us would rather not die. It isn't the
destination that concerns us as much as the process of dying. In
addition, we don't like to leave our loved ones behind. But every
birthday brings us closer to the day when we will take our last breath.
am personally glad that I have confidence in the fact that when I die I
will be with the Lord which is far better (Philippians 1:23). I don't
want to die but I am ready to die because I know that Christ died for my
sins (Romans 5:6-8, 1 Corinthian 15:3). I know that because the Lord
do people like birthdays? That really is a good question, isn't it?
for the week of August 15, 2010
is Thanksgiving a Sacrifice?
116:17 I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call
upon the name of the LORD.
sacrifice is costly. We give up something precious when we sacrifice.
Why would God consider thanksgiving to be a sacrifice? Perhaps it is
because it is one thing to say we are thankful and it is another thing
to act as though we are thankful so that what we say is not
hypocritical. Perhaps another reason thanksgiving is a sacrifice is
because most of us aren't really thankful. It is easy to start thinking
that everything and everyone is against us and that everyone else has a
better life than we do. We forget to count our blessings and to thank
God and our family and our friends for the blessing that they have been
in our lives.
22, 2010 is a special day for me. My wife and I will have been married
for forty years. She came along at a juncture in my life when I was
greatly disappointed in people who had been close to me and I was
greatly disappointed in people that I knew who claimed to be Christians
but. in my mind, did not act like Christians. When Geneva came into my
life, I found out that the Lord who had died to save me would not leave
me alone. He introduced me to a man who would later become my
father-in-law who became a true friend and father to me. He not only was
a Christian but he acted like one.
of Geneva, I have had a faithful devoted wife for forty years. I believe
that she loves me and I know I love her. She has sacrificially devoted
herself to me and my children for these forty years. She has taken care
of things at home when I am gone preaching. I have four children who I
believe love me. I know I love them. One of the reasons I believe that
they love me is because they never seem to be ashamed to be seen with me
when they are with their friends. They don't treat me differently
depending on who they are around. That means a lot to me. In addition,
from time to time they give me things that I could not afford to give
myself. Presents are always nice.
they know that I am thankful for them? I hope so. I am sure that my
family is more likely to know when I am displeased with something than
when I am pleased. They likely remember the criticisms rather than the
praise. I taught them to say "thank you" but did I learn to
say it myself?
I was going to college, my dream was to be a successful C.P.A. with a
house or cabin on a lake with a nice boat. I don't have the cabin or the
house on the lake or the boat nor did I ever become a successful
anything. But I am thankful that life turned out the way it did and that
the Lord has given me friends with houses on the lake. He has allowed me
to preach the Gospel full-time for over 28 years and part-time for years
before that. He has been faithful to His promise to provide for my
family's needs and I haven't had to merchandise a free Gospel to do
that. I do thank the Lord for the way life turned out. My original plans
were not sinful and would have been nice for the few years that I could
have enjoyed earthly success, but the Lord's plans have eternal
am extremely thankful that I was born in a family that feared God and
read the Bible. I thank God for the day President Kennedy was
assassinated. I don't thank God for the assassination, but for making me
realize that I needed to settle the issue of my eternal salvation, and I
needed to settle it now. That weekend, I searched for God's salvation
and was finally able to trust in the truth that when Christ died on
Calvary, he paid the penalty that my sins deserved. I am thankful that
God says in the Bible that I am saved.
wrote this Psalm understood how hard it is to say, Thank you!" He
understood how much it means to God when we thank Him. Obviously, it
means a lot to family and friends when we thank them and act like we
you my dear wife and family and friends.
you, Lord, for saving my soul, Thank you, Lord, for making me whole;
Thank you, Lord, for giving to me, Thy great salvation so rich and free.
for the week of August 22, 2010
is my Thinking Coming Along?
23:7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. "Eat and drink!"
he says to you, But his heart is not with you.
often hear that we are what we eat. We also hear that we are what we
think. I am glad that neither is always true. I know people who eat a
lot of beef and they don't look like cows (I might be the exception). I
know people who struggle with bad thoughts who would never do some of
things that go through their minds. While I do believe that there is a
great link between how we think and how we act, I am glad that not every
bad thought becomes a bad action. This verse is really saying that a
miser is a hypocrite. If he is feeding you, he will tell you to eat up,
but in his heart he will think you are a glutton if you do. As he thinks
(not as he says), so is he.
though we don't always become what we think, we do need to
"discipline" our thinking. Our thinking should be occupied
with spiritual things not with earthly things. In Colossians 3:2, Paul
tells us to, "Set your affection on things above, not on things on
the earth." In Philippians 4:8 he reminds us to think about right
things. "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever
things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are
pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good
report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on
public media news is usually bad news. Good news doesn't sell cereal.
Even the religious news outlets are usually dealing with what is wrong
rather than with what is right. So when we watch the news we are going
to be encouraged to think wrong thoughts, not right thoughts. I believe
in staying informed so that when I preach the Gospel, I can do it
intelligently. But I do believe that I need to be careful to not let the
news control my thinking and my subsequent actions.
friends greatly influence our thinking. Paul tells us that "Evil
company corrupts good habits (1 Corinthians 15:33)." The company
that we keep will greatly affect how we think and act. Because we are
all sheep (Isaiah 53:6), the leaders we respect will also greatly
influence what we think and say and do. We really need to ask ourselves
if our friends and mentors are the kind of people we want to be. Do they
think like and act like the Lord Jesus? If not, we need to be careful in
our relationship with them so that we do not become like them.
know that before we were saved we all thought wrong thoughts. Our
thoughts were not God's thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). When we became
"believers" we were "born again or from above (John
3:7)." Salvation is not about reformation but about regeneration or
new life. The moment we were saved the Holy Spirit entered and began
conforming us to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). One of the reasons
that we can be sure that we are saved is that the Bible tells us so. Why
did we not comprehend that before we were saved? The Bible didn't
change, but we did. Once the Holy Spirit "sealed" us
(Ephesians 1:13), He was able to use the Word to assure us that we are
can we discipline our minds so that we act in a Christ-like way and so
that we can be at "peace" and not always be distraught in this
life? First, we will need to be sure that we are saved so that the Holy
Spirit can teach us. Then we will need to spend time thinking about the
Lord who represents all the characteristics found in Philippians 4:8. He
is true, honest, just, pure, lovely of good report, virtuous and praise
worthy. Thinking about men will not cause us to think right even though
they may have many good characteristics. Thinking about current events
will only disturb us. Associating with those who are "earthly
minded" rather than "heavenly minded" or perhaps
"spiritually minded" will not help us discipline our minds.
cannot keep from thinking in wrong ways about wrong things. However, we
can drive out the habitual bad thinking by replacing it with habitual
good thinking. The company that we keep, the material we read, and the
leaders that we follow will all greatly affect our ability to discipline
for the week of August 29, 2010