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DECEMBER 2014

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His Wish was their Command!

 

2 Samuel 23:14-17

David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. And David said with longing, “Oh, that someone would give me a drink of the water from the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!” So the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David. Nevertheless he would not drink it, but poured it out to the LORD. And he said, “Far be it from me, O LORD, that I should do this! Is this not the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it. These things were done by the three mighty men.

 

The Waiting Time

David had been anointed King of Israel by Samuel.  He had gotten victory over the lion, the bear, and now over Goliath the uncircumcised Philistine.  But Saul was still the one occupying the throne and he was after David big time.  He wanted his dynasty to endure even though he had greatly offended God.  So David, the anointed King, was running from Saul and he and four hundred powerful but rather ragged men were hiding in the cave of Adullam.  Saul was hunting him, the Philistines were ready to fight him. Life might have seemed a little upside down.

 

Devotion and not Duty

David begins thinking about how good he had had it as a child playing around Bethlehem.  There was a well there.  Its water was refreshing and cold and now he couldn’t even get a drink of that water.  After all, the enemy was encamped there.  So David said with longing, “Oh, that someone would give me a drink of the water from the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!”  There was no command here, only the whisper of the desire of his heart.  But three mighty men heard him and decided to do something about it.  They broke through the camp of the Philistines and got that water for David.  David was so taken by their devotion that he would not drink the water, but poured it out on the ground.  I would have thought the mighty men might have been greatly offended, but I am sure that they realized that David valued them more than he valued the water.  But by their devotion, he knew that he had three mighty men who would do anything for Him.  They did it out of devotion and not out of duty.  He knew that in today’s way of talking that they had his back.  His wish was their command.

 

Would we do this for the Lord?

There are things that the Lord asks us to do today that we have relegated to the bin of tradition and legalism because some of us do not do things because we get to, we do them because we think we have to.  We know that salvation is by grace and not by works.  But we also know that it isn’t what we say but it is what we do that is the measure of our appreciation of our heavenly David.  So why is it so hard to let the epistles be our guide in understanding the Lord’s will and in just letting the plain sense of the epistles make sense to us?  Why do we struggle with the truths having to do with headship?  Why do we struggle with the fact that baptism is for the believer and not the infant?

 

If I had been One these Mighty Men—

If I had been one of these three mighty men, I might have been quite upset with David for pouring that water out on the ground.  “What a waste of time and effort,” I would have thought.  At least I would have thought that unless I really grasped the fact that pouring it out on the ground was an act of devotion by David. 

 

If I had been David, I would have been upset that three men that I needed badly put their lives in jeopardy needlessly.  They could have lost their lives.  That is I might have thought that until I began to think about why the men went and did this. 

 

A Life of Devotion sometimes appears to be a Wasted Life

Often the Christian life of devotion is not logical.  It doesn’t make sense to come every Sunday morning to a meeting of the Christians where we remember the Lord.  Surely, doing this once a month or once a quarter or once a year makes more sense since then we would have more time for things that we think really matter.  Why is it important to the Lord to have us undergo a watery burial after we are saved to identify with the Lord in his death, burial and resurrection?  Why not just be sprinkled or poured on or christened as an infant and be done with it?  Or why worry about this ceremony at all.   Of course, the reason why we do some of the things that we do is because we have heard the Lord ask us to do it with longing.  

 

Conclusion

I wonder how many of us today are struggling with something that we know would please the Lord but that we really don’t want to do.  I struggle with this and I am sure others do as well.  But His wish should be our command.

 

  Meditation for the week of December 7, 2014

The Ever Existing One

 

Revelation 4:8  “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”

 

The Unanswerable Questions

Some of us lay on our beds at night and ponder questions that simply have no rational answer.  One of them has to do with the question of how God can exist if He has no beginning.  Usually things that have no beginning do not exist.  Some people have said that there is no God based on that philosophical question.  But if there is no God, there is no Creator.  However, things that we know exist came from somewhere.  Where did this world come from and how was it created if there is no God?  Some say there was a big bang and some electrical shock or powerful force brought this all into existence.  There is just one problem with that.  The powerful force had to come from somewhere and the material that came into existence at that time had to come from somewhere.  Where did it come from?  If nothing existed before the big bang, what is the definition of “nothing?”   Space is something even if it is defined as nothing and so is mass.  Space and mass had to come from somewhere.  The powerful force had to come from somewhere.  Man’s philosophy and scientific reasoning cannot answer these questions. Only faith in the One who says that He was and is and is to come can answer these questions.

 

Man’s Substitute for Faith in the Ever Existing One

Humanity has a tendency to believe anything that is repeated often enough, particularly if those who claim to be “wise” are the ones repeating the things we want to believe.  So the “wise” have told us that since God is really unknowable, any god is as good as the next.  In our day, believing in no god is just as acceptable as believing in the idols and mythological gods of many societies.  Ultimately, mankind believes in most anything so long as they don’t have to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Ever Existing One. 

 

I often wonder how many people who are trying to put Christ back into Christmas this year have really believed that the One born in the manger as the fulfillment of prophecy is also the One who went to the cross and died for their sins?  How many really believe that He rose from the dead and that He is coming again?  How many people have really been “born again” or “saved” as a result of believing in Him?  How many believe that by Him all thing are created that were created (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16)?  How many really believe that the Lord Jesus is the One who was and is and is to come?  These are the things that a true believer accepts by faith which means that they accept it just because God says it.  We who are believers have answers that logic and science cannot give, and those answers satisfy us.

 

Can we Really Know?

When I was young, I was taught that if I had any doubts as to whether the Bible was the Word of God, I should study the nation of Israel.  I was taught that God had used that nation as an object lesson that teaches us how God thinks and acts.  The children of Israel were like many people today.  They had a good heritage.  They had been delivered as a nation from the bondage of Egypt.  They had been told that if they were faithful to the Lord as His redeemed people they would be blessed.  Their good works and their faithful worship would not save them but would be evidence of their appreciation and faith in the One who had saved them.  But what did Israel do?  They turned aside to idols.  But God says over and over again in the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel that one day they will know that  “I am the LORD.”  The LORD in these statements is Jehovah or the ever existing One or the One who was and is and is to come. 

 

Unfortunately, if I understand these prophecies right, prophets didn’t and won’t convince Israel of their need to worship Jehovah instead of idols or instead of worshipping nothing.  The baby born in a manger won’t convince them.   The cross of Christ will not convince them.  They will also explain away the resurrection.  But coming judgment will convince them.  And coming judgment will convince the world that the things written in this book we call the Bible are true.  The world will be convinced that science and philosophy did not have the answer, but faith in an old archaic book did. 

 

What will Convince Us?

If the nation of Israel is our example, it appears that many people that wouldn’t believe in the Lord Jesus in this present age when God is offering grace and mercy will finally believe that Jesus is Jehovah, the Ever Existing One, when judgment comes.  We live in a time of blessing when people are still being offered the salvation that only the Ever Existing One can provide.  But I worry that many who claim to be worshipping the LORD during this Christmas season have not accepted the truth that the One who died on that cross really is the Ever Existing One.  But they will when they fall under His judgment as unbelievers.  Then it will be too late.

 

Meditation for the week of December 14, 2014

The Quandary

 

Isaiah 53:1 Who has believed our report?  And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

 

The Wise Men

In Matthew 2, wise men from the East saw the Lord’s star which had to be in the west.   They were being led from the east to the west to find and worship “the King of the Jews.”  These wise men (sometimes translated Magi) seem to be a select group of priests or religious astrologers from Persia.  The Medes and the Persians subdued the Babylon of Daniel’s day.  It is my conviction that Daniel taught the Chaldean (Babylonish) astrologers of his day more than they taught him.  I suspect that these wise men in Matthew had access to Daniel’s teachings as given to the Chaldeans of his day.  They believed those teachings while the Jews had access to the whole of the Old Testament scriptures and as a whole the Jews didn’t believe them.

 

The Samaritan Woman

In John 4 there is a woman from a group despised by the Jews who also knew more that the Jews knew.   She was a Samaritan.  Samaritans knew how to worship Jehovah because of a priest brought back into the land by Assyria after Israel had been taken captive. 

 

We read in 2 Kings 17:28:  “Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the LORD. However every nation continued to make gods of its own, and put them in the shrines on the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in the cities where they dwelt.”

 

Samaritans had some truth and a lot of error.  They worshipped in the wrong mountain and offered sacrifices at the wrong altars.  They combined the worship of Jehovah with the worship of pagan gods, and yet here was a “sinner of Samaria” who knew that the Messiah was coming.  She was convinced that Jesus was the Messiah because he told her all the things that she had done including the fact that she had married five times and was now living with a man.

 

The Quandary

Why is it that the ones that we would expect to believe the truth about Christ often do not?   That includes many children who were raised knowing the Bible and the prophecies that were fulfilled when the Lord came into this world the first time.  They know that the Lord has described them and their sins perfectly.  They know that they have not lived up to their own standards let alone living up to the standards of God.  They know that God loves them even though they do not love God.

 

What is true of many privileged children who were raised being taught the truth is often true of many good church going people today.  They would like to make salvation “universal” meaning that ultimately there is no eternal condemnation for unbelievers.  They would like to make morals relative and let “our day” and “society” determine what is right and what is wrong.  Their worship of the Lord is determined by current fads rather than by Scripture.  But should this surprise us?

 

No!  If Magi could understand the truth and if Samaritans could understand the truth while Jews by and large rejected the Truth, it should not come as a surprise that those we least expect to trust in the Lord do trust Him.  It should also come as no surprise that those we think should believe in the Lord do not.

 

So Where does that Leave Us?

Are we among those who have “believed the report?”  Or are we among those who despised Him and didn’t esteem or honor Him?  I am among those who believe the prophetic truth in Isaiah 53:4-5 written 700 years before the Lord was born that says:  “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

 

So who has really believed this report?

 

 

Meditation for the week of December 21, 2014

Our Topsy Turvy World

 

Luke 13:30 And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.

 

As we come to the end of another year, I think it is always wise to review the past year to see if there was anything in it that amounted to anything.  We have to pay the bills, maintain the cars, maintain the house, all of which requires doing something productive for which we hope to get paid.  We also need to stay in touch with friends and family and we need to take time to be friends to our friends, family, and neighbors.  So where does that leave us when it comes to our relationship with the Lord?  Matthew 6:33 says that we are to put the interests of the Lord “first” not last.  How many of us can honestly say that we did that this last year?  We might think that we did, but would the Lord think that we did? 

 

What does our Verse Mean?

This phrase is found a number of places in the Bible. The last shall be first and the first last.  It is found several times in connection with rewards (see Matthew 20:16).  But it is also found here in connection with salvation.  I would like to suggest that Jews who are the “elect” and are special in God’s sight are really “last” when it comes to receiving Him.  Gentiles showed more devotion and faith than the Jews.  Women often showed more devotion than men.  Publicans and sinners were criticized by the Jews and yet they are first in Matthew 21:31.  Children and not adults are first when it comes to faith in the Lord in several places.  Servants are greater than those that they serve.  So obviously this statement that the last shall be first and the first last means that our evaluation of who and what is important is likely different than the Lord’s evaluation.

 

Where does that Leave Us?

We know that there is a difference between the judgment of the Great White Throne in Revelation 20:11 and the Judgment Seat of Christ as found in 2 Corinthians 5:10.  At the Great White Throne, unbelievers are going to be shown why they are being condemned eternally.  No one is saved there.  The issue of salvation is settled before we die and not after.  The Judgment Seat of Christ is a place where the faithfulness of believers is judged.  No one is condemned to hell there, but works are reviewed for faithfulness to the Lord and are rewarded.  Now I am much like the disciples of the Lord who were jockeying for the greatest positions in the Kingdom (see Mark 9:34). And as I hear teaching on rewards and faithfulness, I suspect many Christians are like me.  They are hoping to be top officials in the Kingdom.  In would be nice to be able to tell others what to do and then have them do it.   But again, servants come before bosses because the last are to be first.  So our competitive spirits will likely land us at the end of the line and not at the front.

 

But what will the Lord really be Rewarding?

I don’t think the Lord will be rewarding those who forced the unsaved to try to live like Christians before they were told how to become Christians.  I don’t think the Lord will be rewarding those who have turned Christianity into Churchianity that appeals to the flesh. 

 

I think the Lord will be rewarding true loyalty and devotion to Him.  There will be those like the women who anointed Him with oil.  There will be those like the women who came early in the morning to the tomb.  There will be those who like Mary who spent time with the Lord conversing with Him instead of serving like a woman was expected to do. I suspect the Lord would like to know that when the world criticizes Him and His way of doing things as found in the Bible, that He has friends who defend His right to ask us to do that which makes no sense to the natural man.  If it pleases the Lord, that should be enough for us.  That includes His way of salvation which involves a new birth, and His way of baptism which includes immersion in water after salvation to publicly confess our identification with Him.  That includes men “manning up” and becoming the spiritual leaders in the home and the church.  That includes women wearing head coverings when they are involved in public praying and prophesying.  That involves not having women teach or preach publicly in the church meetings.  That involves distinguishing to the best of our ability between believers and unbelievers when it comes to yoking with them in our spiritual, business and social lives.  We believers are supposed to be influencing unbelievers but often they are influencing us.

 

Are we the Lord’s Friend?

In 2nd Samuel 15:37, Hushai proved himself to be David’s friend when David was fleeing from Absalom.  He had David’s back.  The title “friend” is really precious.  Most of us don’t have a lot of people that we know will defend us and who will have our backs when others criticize us.  I find that being a friend is really harder than having a friend.  We have a friend in the Lord, now let us make sure that we are the Lord’s friend.  I am confident that will please Him more than anything else we might try to do.  It will make this next year count.

Meditation for the week of December 28, 2014