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AUGUST 2018

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Numbering our Days!

 

So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalms 90:12 NKJV)

 

The Perspective of Age

When we are young, we have enthusiasm (usually), and goals and dreams.  But we don't have the perspective that age brings.  We often live as though we will live forever.  We think we will have plenty of time to do something profitable with our lives.  Often youthful lives are lived like the prodigal son lived his in Luke 15.  He spent his resources on pleasure and careless living.  Those who smoke, think that it will be a long time before smoking affects their health.  Those who drink and take other drugs assume that they will be able to make use of things that make them feel good in the short-run without any long-term consequences.  However as we get older, life begins to look differently.  We begin to realize how quickly we have let things that don't matter get in the way of things that do.  Those who have worked hard to make a success of their lives will begin to wonder if they have really utilized the time God gave to them in the best way.

 

The Perspective of Scripture

Our verse is translated in different ways in different versions of the Bible.  The Good News Bible says, “Teach us how short our life is, so that we may become wise.”  The New Living translation says, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”  As we get older we realize that each day is a gift and each day is a new opportunity to serve the Lord.  I think numbering our days implies that we know our days are limited and that each day should be considered precious.  The best time to gain the Scriptural perspective is in our youth.  Solomon reminds us to “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say, "I have no pleasure in them (Ecclesiastes 12:1 NKJV).”  It is easy to waste our youth and later, when we come to our senses, we may not have the vitality to amount to something spiritually.

 

The Value of Age

Age should bring a certain amount of wisdom that can only come from experience.  We live in a day when maturity is not really appreciated.  Older people are often told to wait on the younger when in fact the younger should be waiting on the older--except when it comes to electronic and computer issues.  Young people want to be “in charge” before they have the maturity to make good decisions.  There is a reason why elders in the church are called elders.  It is not a position, it is a work that only a mature person has the wisdom to do in a Godly way.  Moses led the people of God from 80 years old (when he should have been dead according to his own reckoning in Psalm 90) until he was 120 years old.  But all the time he was training a young man to take his place.  That young man was Joshua.  According to some Bible scholars, he was likely 40 years younger than Moses.  If that is true he would have started serving Moses at about 30-40 and would have led the people of Israel into the promised land at about 70-80 when he was mature. But as a younger man, he had an older man as his mentor.

 

Timothy served as Paul's servant.  He was likely about at least 30 years old when Paul admonished him to let no man despise his youth.  Paul was really saying don't let anyone despise you because of your youth—that is because of the behavior's that often go with youth.  That reference is in 1 Timothy 4:12 which says, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12 NKJV).”  While Timothy carried great responsibility, he apparently did it under the guidance of Paul.

 

The Shortness of Time

As we get older the value of what little time we have on this earth tends to change  the way we think and live.  It takes that perspective to make really good decisions.  We begin to realize that only as we begin to number our days (that is count  them because they are limited and precious) will we understand how urgent the Gospel message is.  People do not have forever to get right with God.  And only then will we be able to separate that which is really important from that which  that which  will not amount to anything for eternity.  Only as we get older do we realize that our relationships with others are far more important than the  “successes” we may have been trying to achieve in life. 

 

The Blessing of Numbering our Days

When was the last time we took time to make a phone call that we didn't really have time to make?  When was the last time we visited someone who was needing encouragement?  When was the last time we told the Lord that we were available to do whatever He wanted us to do that day, even if it meant not meeting a deadline that we thought was important? 

 

Lord, help me personally to number my days.  Don't allow my limited time on this earth to make me fearful or anxious, but allow me to use any wisdom that has come with maturity in a way that pleases You.

 

Meditation for the week of August 12, 2018

Have I “Believed” Right?

 

"FOR YET A LITTLE WHILE, AND HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME AND WILL NOT TARRY. NOW THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; BUT IF ANYONE DRAWS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM." But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.  (Hebrews 10:37-39 NKJV)

 

Believing in or on the Lord

Christians are called believers in the Bible.  All people believe something or someone.  But the term “believer” in the Bible assumes that the person is trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ; and, because of that trust, their souls (the immortal immaterial part of the person) are saved for eternity.  Those who are trusting in one of Satan's lies are called “unbelievers.”  The writer of Hebrews was encouraging the Jews to believe the truth of the Gospel and to not draw back to Jewish customs and rituals to save them.

 

However, the word believe is used in different ways in the Bible.  Sometimes it means to believe about something or in the reality of something.  The demons believe that the Lord is who He claimed to be but they would not be called believers.  They will never be saved in spite of their so-called belief.  The reference to their believing is found in James,”You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!  (James 2:19 NKJV).”

 

So when we tell people that believing or trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ saves for eternity, the question is often asked, “How do I know that I have believed right?”  Maybe the following points will help.

 

Believing it All

Do we believe that we are sinners?  Sin is disobedience and the Bible says all have sinned (Romans 3:23).  None of us have obeyed all of God's moral standards all the time.  If we don't agree with God on that point, we are not believers.

 

Do we believe that there is a heaven to gain and eternal conscious punishment to avoid?  Today men want to believe that there is no literal place of eternal punishment.  See Luke 16:23 and Revelation 20:14.  If we do not agree with God on that point, we are not believers.

 

Do we believe that Christ is God and that He came to earth to take the punishment that we deserve because of our sin?  If we do not agree with God on that point, we are not believers.

 

Do we believe that we MUST be born again?  If we do not agree with God on that point, we are not believers.

 

Do we believe that Christ died for our sins, was buried and was raised again the third day as prophesied in the Old Testament?  If we do not believe in any part of Romans 5:6-8, we are not believers.

 

Do we believe that we need to repent?  Repentance does not mean that we know and have quit all of our sins.  It means that we believe God where we once argued with Him.  It means that we let Him tell us how to be saved and that we don't tell Him.  When the Holy Spirit using the Word of God changes our minds on the things that are keeping us from believing God, only then can we trust the Lord.  If we have not repented in the Biblical sense, we not only are not believers, we cannot truly believe.

 

Believing vs.Trusting

We may believe or understand all that I have mentioned in the above section, but does that mean that we are “believers?” Believers not only believe the facts of the Gospel but they believe IN the Christ of the Gospel.  That is they trust the Lord.  The word believe in the Bible may be referring to an understanding of truth, but when it comes to the believing or faith that saves, it means trust in the Lord.  The Bible deals with this issue by saying in Romans 10:9 that we must believe in our hearts.  Now nobody really believes with their hearts in a literal way.  But this saying in a symbolic way that we must believe without reservation and our believing must affect our emotions and our motivations.  This kind of trust gives us peace with God.  In Acts 8, the Ethiopian eunuch was told he could be baptized as an expression of his belief or trust if he believed with all his heart.  (That statement has been left out of newer versions but should be included in the text because earlier in the chapter Simon the Sorcerer had believed Philip but he had not trusted in the Savior.  He had believed in the power of the Gospel but He was still not “born again.”)  He was not a believer.

 

Believing saves, not Believing Condemns

John 3:18 says, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  When we believe in the name of the Lord we are believing in the Lord's authority, character and reputation.  We are trusting in the fact that what He promises He will perform.  This verse keeps things simple.  Either we are believers or we aren't.  Either we are not condemned (or saved) or we are condemned already.  We can't argue with God about any part of His plan of salvation and honestly call ourselves “believers.”  But if we are believers, we know that we have God's word for it that we are saved.  That is what is meant by believing "right."  Our confidence is not in ourselves or in what we think is right, our confidence is in the Lord.

 

I am a believer and I hope you are too.

 

Meditation for the week of August 19, 2018

It is Time to be Honest!

 

If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared. (Psalms 130:3-4 NKJV)

 

We Know ALL have Sinned

Romans 3:23 makes it very clear that all have sinned and come short of God's glory.  That is we haven't represented Him very well here on planet earth.  We find it easy to preach this when we are presenting the Gospel, but I suspect most of us are really saying all YOU have sinned when we preach this.  However, this includes all of us and unfortunately most of the epistles would not have been written if professing Christians didn't have problems with this issue of sin after we are saved.  We often say that we who are saved are not sinless, but we should sin less.  I do believe that after we are saved we have a conscience about sin that we didn't have before.  I like the way the Contemporary English Version translates our verse for today. It says, “If you kept record of our sins, no one could last long. But you forgive us, and so we will worship you. (Psalms 130:3-4 CEV).”  In the Old Testament those who worshiped the Lord called upon Him (that is they prayed to Him) and they feared Him (that is they realized they were accountable to Him).  Forgiveness that is offered by the one offended and that is accepted by the one doing the offending leads to reconciliation.  When we are truly reconciled we can truly worship.  That is what happens when we are first saved and that is why we worship.

 

But What About Today?

This Psalm is a reminder of the sin of the Jewish nation who was saved from the bondage of Egypt to wander in the wilderness for 40 years and to finally cross the Jordan River into the promised land.  But no matter what part of their journey they were on they kept turning aside to call upon and to fear idols.  They found the pagan worship that they were supposed to destroy to be “fun” and enjoyable and they tended to turn away from faithfulness to the LORD.  As a result they ended up in captivity, but now a faithful remnant is headed back to the land as ones that have once again been forgiven.  They are truly worshiping as they ascend back to Jerusalem and the worship of the One true God.

 

We find it easy to point out the sins of others but do we really understand our own sin?  I remember talking to a very wealthy farmer in my visits years ago.  He claimed to be agnostic, he didn't know and didn't care if there was a God because his life had been a paradise on earth as far as he was concerned.  He also felt that he was a very good person and told me that he was never tempted to sin.  I often wondered just what his definition of sin was.  It obviously didn't include pride.  It seemed to me that he was worshiping himself and his own intellect rather than the God who created him.  In his defense, I think everyone would have loved to have had him for a neighbor.  He was by the standards of the world a very good man.  But I know that his heart was no different than mine and the Lord says that mine is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9).

 

There are Sins and then there are Sins

I realize that murder and stealing and immorality are treated differently by the law of the land than is gossip and lies.  And they rightly should be, however, gossip and lies are sins even though they might be more socially acceptable.  As a matter of fact the Devil is the “Father of Lies”.  John 8:44 says, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. (John 8:44 NKJV)”  It is interesting that the Lord seems to link lies and murder but we accept lies but not murder.  We obviously do not understand sin the way God understands it.

 

Today, lying and fact checking the lying, is a constant occupation of some.  I find myself being quite critical of those who I believe are lying and I find myself being critical of those who are loyal to known liars.  Telling the truth was not as important as loyalty to my boss in the corporate world and it seems to have become that way in the political world.  And while I get all distraught because of the contention and division involved because of these lies, I have to remember that if the Lord should keep track of my own iniquities or wickedness (not just the acts of sin but the motives behind them), I would be in deep trouble.  But He has offered forgiveness and I have been reconciled to Him and now I am declared righteous even if I don't always act that way. 

 

Conclusion

Even though it is easy to get upset with others who are sinning, maybe we should get more upset with our own failures. We need to remember that we who are saved are a forgiven people.  We have no right to condemn, only God has that right.  However, that does not mean that we should justify sin nor should we justify those who blatantly sin, and we should not be among those who commit sin without having a conscience about it.

 

Lord help me to be what you want me to be and help me to avoid associations with those who would tempt me to sin.

 

 

Meditation for the week of August 26, 2018