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DECEMBER 2011

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The Joy of an Open Door

 

Revelation 3:8 "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

 

A door usually keeps people out. When it is open, it allows people in. An open door is inviting. A closed door can seem formidable. I know how a closed door can affect a person because I have knocked on a lot of closed doors while distributing Gospel literature.

I assume that the open door in this church represents an opportunity to serve the Lord. When the Lord opens the door, that is a lot better than when we try to force the door open.

A year ago the Lord gave me an open door where I could have spent some time with a person who needed a ride and was looking for a job. I was busy and I missed the opportunity that the Lord provided me. It has bothered me ever since that I didn't walk through that open door. But the Lord is a Lord of second chances. On Thursday night of this week, I was doing some shopping at a local Walmart when four girls in their late teens approached me and wanted "some change." They explained how embarrassing it was to ask for help but that they needed gas to get back to Cedar Rapids which is about 50 miles down the road. One of the girls had pink streaks in platinum blond hair and nose rings. The others were a little more conventional in their appearance. In talking to them, the girl with the nose rings said that if I wasn't able to help them, they understood. They had come to Waterloo to meet some guy who was going to give them gas money and when they got here somehow he couldn't help them. Now I know that story doesn't make any kind of sense so in this day and age it was probably true. Anyway, I told the girls that I could help them but I wasn't sure that I should. Again, the girl with the piercings said, "You are afraid we are going to use the money to buy drugs, right?" I said, "Yes!" She promised me that wouldn't be the case but did say that she knew that the way she looked most people would assume that. I told them that I wouldn't give them money but I would put gas in their car. So they went to the local HyVee pumps and waited for me to finish shopping so I could meet them there. They did not hang around Walmart once I offered to help so apparently they didn't try to use their plight to beg from others once their need was met.

When I got to HyVee, I put 4 gallons of gas in their car and then told them that I had a request. They asked what it was. I said that I was an evangelist and wanted them to read some literature. They did not know what an evangelist was or what the message of the Bible was. One of the girls had gone to a Bible school, probably a vacation Bible school. I explained what an evangelist was which gave me a chance to present the Gospel to them. I gave them a copy of my tract which tells how I came to trust the Lord and asked them to promise me that they would read it. I told them that if they wanted more information they could go to my website or call me or write to me. All the needed information was on the tract. The girl with the piercings was driving the car and she said I was a lifesaver. She thanked me and said she would read the literature. The other three girls promised to read it as well. It is my hope and prayer that I hear from at least one of those girls again. But if I don't, should they miss out on heaven, they will know that the Lord loved them and that he tried to reach them with the Gospel.

Earlier in the afternoon, I had been at a McDonald's and an older man had approached me with and asked me if I would read something when I got done on the computer. He then gave me some Gospel literature and an invitation to his church. He was doing a good work and he was doing it in a respectful way. But as I thought on the day, I realized that it is so much better to have the Lord open the door than to try to open it yourself. If we were really controlled by the Holy Spirit, I wonder if my experience with the girls would be a usual rather than an unusual experience.

I may never meet those girls again. But it gave me great joy to know that the Lord trusted me enough to bring them across my path, particularly when I had failed him before. I am thankful that I wasn't so busy with the Lord's work this time that I failed to take advantage of an opportunity to do the Lord's work.

 

Meditation for the week of December 4, 2011

God's Privacy Policy

 

Genesis 16:13 Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are- the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, "Have I also here seen Him who sees me?"

Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good.

 

Privacy is a major concern of most people today. They do not want their medical records available to anyone other than those who provide them medical care. They want their financial information kept secret by their bank. Many people do not want their addresses listed in a phone book or public directory. However, if you watch any of the current detective shows on TV, it is obvious that security camera's, driver's licenses, car licenses, and government record keeping means that almost nothing is really private. When you go to an ATM, it takes your picture. When you do business at almost all cash registers, they take your picture. Google maps have pictures of my house that are clearer than those that I take. My car is parked in the drive. I have wondered why they don't have a picture of me on my lawn or drive. Maybe they do.

While we may not like to have people knowing our every move, we should face the fact that God sees all and apparently records all that He sees. He is going to open the books at the Great White Throne and judge those who have rejected Him legally and righteously out of the records He has kept. Since James says that we show our faith by our works, His records will show that the unbeliever's works demonstrated their lack of faith in Him. Some will have works demonstrating faith in their churches, some in their good works, some in their educations, some in people that they respected, but it will be obvious from the books that the people at the Great White Throne did not trust in the Lord.

Hagar, Abraham's maid, thought she was all alone as she fled from Sara after Ismael was conceived. Sara was jealous of the fact that she had conceived while Sara could not. Hagar was astounded that the Lord not only saw her but He knew all about her. He had found her at a well and gave her instructions. Hagar called the Lord, "You are the God who sees!."

Moms say that they have eyes in the back of their heads since they catch their children disobeying when the children think they are not looking or observing. The Lord doesn't have eyes in the back of His head, He has eyes everywhere. It is true that we can't get by with anything without the Lord seeing. Israel thought they could worship heathen God's without the Lord seeing, but they couldn't. People today think that they can lie and cheat and that nobody will be the wiser, but God sees! If all we actually believed that God sees everything, we wouldn't need police forces and all the laws that we have on the books. People who believe that God sees them would want to make sure that they were right with the only Judge that really counts. All unbelievers would realize that they had been "caught" and would want to get their sins forgiven. Religious unbelievers would quit telling others how to live while they themselves are violating the standards they are setting for others. Christians certainly would not want to be ashamed when the Lord comes and it would affect the way they live.

When we come to grips with the fact that GOD KNOWS, it is convicting. God knows everything we do and everything we think, but He still loves us. Why does He love us? Because He does! John 3:17 proves that in my mind. The verse says, "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." Think of it! The one who sees our sins and our deceitful hearts gave the best He had to save us from the penalty that we deserve because of our sin.

What does God's spy in the sky satellite see when it passes over you? What does it see when it passes over me? We may be able to fool our friends as to the reality of our faith, but we can't fool God. It is time to get real about what God sees.

 

Meditation for the week of December 10, 2011

Are we Experiencing a Famine?

 

Amos 8:11 "Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord GOD, "That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the LORD.

 

The last words of the Lord given to Israel in the old testament were, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse (Malachi 4:5-6)." Approximately, four hundred years later, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah while he was serving in the temple. The message he heard was through an angel who said, ""Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John (Luke 1:13)." He had been praying for a child. The Lord had heard his prayer and was going to give him and his wife Elizabeth a child. But not just any child. They were going to bring forth the child who would fulfill that old testament prophecy in Malachi (See Matthew 11:13-14).

The Lord says that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). The faithful in Israel were experiencing a spiritual famine because God had not spoken for 400 years. But now He speaks and begins to bring to pass the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah. Surely, the faithful were energized by the hope associated with the message to Zechariah. They were given new life and hope. The famine was over!

We know that they had the written word of God and that God did speak to His people through it during those "silent" years. But there was no new revelation. We have to distinguish between revelation and illumination. God ceased to speak in the new testament when the book of the Revelation was completed. However we still can get fresh illumination as to the meaning of what was written though the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

It would be nice to have the Lord speak directly to us and through us and some people claim that they have gotten new prophetic revelation. But my Bible says that prophecy as a gift foretelling new truth has ceased (1 Corinthians 13:8). That gift would cease to function when the church became a "man", that is, when the church had fully matured. Prophecy in the sense of speaking for God from the words that have already been given by God has not ceased and is certainly a part of the preaching of the Gospel. While hearing God speak audibly and with new messages might be nice, I am glad that I have a complete revelation of Christ in my Bible and that I don't have to rely on men claiming to have new insights for my teaching today. We already have enough religious confusion in the world. Just think of the confusion that would exist because of our methods of mass communication if God spoke today as He did in the old testament and as He did in the early days of the church.

But still, is there not a famine in our land? We read and read and read and end up with endless confusion about the way of salvation, the manner of baptism, the order of the church, the moral teachings of Scripture, and the prophetic plan. Some people are trying to build a kingdom of God here on earth. Others of us believe we should be involved with building a spiritual kingdom through the new birth that will not be understood or accepted by those building an earthly kingdom. We have one Bible and a lot of confusion. I suspect we know more about what men say about the Bible than we know about what the Bible says.

When the Lord came the first time He said He was the Word. He not only was the vehicle God used to present His message, He Himself was that message. As we go through this holiday season, we need to step back and ask ourselves if we are feeding on the Word of God and enjoying His forgiveness and fellowship. Or have we traded the cross for the tinsel and noise of the holiday season? Are we missing the real value of the Lord who was conceived miraculously, born naturally, grew normally, ministered powerfully, died cruelly, was raised from the dead victoriously, and Who is coming triumphantly,

Let's don't experience a famine when we could be experiencing a feast.

 

Meditation for the week of December 18, 2011

The Promise is Sure!

 

Habakkuk 2:3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.

 

On Christmas day many are opening presents and enjoying the company of family and friends. Some have been in church gatherings. The world is remembering that a baby born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago claimed to be the Savior of the world. Was He? Yes He was!

The day after Christmas, most of the excitement will be over. The gifts will have been unwrapped. The clothes and jewelry will have been put away. The toys will be available for entertainment. The tools will be in the garage and appliances will be on the counter. Most of the company will be gone. Memories will be all that is left of the Christmas traditions, gatherings, food and festivities. Many will feel an empty place in their hearts as they wonder if that is all life has to offer. Some will begin laying plans for a New Year's Eve party that will help them forget the pointlessness of life if Christmas and New Year's Eve is all that life has to offer. What people tend to forget is that the Lord has promised to come again! And that promise is just as sure as the promise that He would come the first time.

When the Lord comes again, it will not be as a baby but as a victorious King. He tells the Christians that this coming for them will be a blessed hope (Titus 2:13) and a comfort (1 Thessalonians 4:18). When the Lord talks about His second coming, there are a number of events that are included. He will come for Christians to save them from the judgment that will be coming on the earth. He will set in motion the coming tribulation period. At the end of that period, He will save the Jewish remnant and establish them as a nation. During the tribulation period there will be horror upon horror as men in rebellion against God are involved in terrible wars and atrocities. God will execute judgment against those who did not want Him in their lives by allowing natural disasters and by allowing these wars. Thank God, the Christian has been delivered from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10). For Christians this second coming is something for which we yearn. For the unbeliever, it is going to be a surprise and the terrors are going to be unimaginable. But why worry? After all it has been a long time since the promise was made, and He is by and large not "real" in the lives of most. For many, He is the myth that makes us feel good, not the Savior who wants our undying devotion and loyalty. This is partly because we are a people without patience. When we want something, we want it NOW, but the Lord has promised something that is a long time in coming.

The Lord knew all about our problem with time and reminded us that for him a thousand years is just like one day. In the light of eternity, it is a very short time. (See 2 Peter 3:8-9). The Lord is not slow in carrying out His promise but is waiting for a few more people to be saved. If you are reading this and have never believed in the Lord Jesus, I mean really believed, then you may be one that is hindering the coming of the Lord. He may be having mercy on your soul and He may be waiting to come so that you too can be saved from the wrath to come.

It is the second coming of the Lord that takes away the ache of an empty heart after the Christmas festivities are all over. It is that promise that gives us something about which to get excited. I believe that the King is coming. And if I should pass over to the other side and be "sleeping" when He comes, I have been promised that my body will be raised from the dead to be taken "home" when He comes.

So what are you believing in to get you through the next day or two? What are you believing in to get you through the next war or hurricane or tornado or tsunami or economic collapse? What are you believing in that will give you hope should you be stricken with cancer or heart disease or worse? Is it money, honor, fame, political parties and political promises of men? You know all these things are fleeting and deceitful. I hope you have believed in MY LORD AND SAVIOR. He may not keep His promises when we would like Him to keep them, but HE WILL KEEP THEM. The vision may be for a long time as some versions say with regard to our verse for today, but the promise of His coming makes life sweet. You need to trust Him if you havenít already. You won't be disappointed. He will fill that empty aching spot in your heart.

 

Meditation for the week of December 25, 2011