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DECEMBER 2017

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Why do You not Believe Me?

 

John 8:44-46  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.  But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.  Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me?

 

We just had a major tax bill passed by Congress.  The House and Senate versions need to be reconciled and the President needs to sign it, but we are going to have a new tax bill.  As I understand it, the bill passed the Senate in the dead of the night before the final version was read by those who were forced to vote on it.  The bill consisted of over 500 pages and some of it was hand written. The country is divided as to whether this tax bill is "good" or whether it is a way of robbing the poor and giving to the rich.  Whom should we believe?

 

In 1977, I was a practicing CPA.  President Carter passed the 1977 Tax Simplification Act.  It only added complications to the tax returns I prepared.  I did not see any provisions of the tax code get removed (there may have been some), but they added pages to the tax code and regulations that I had to study and use in preparing tax returns.  We called that law “The Accountants and Lawyers Employment Act.”  I wonder what we will call the present one when all the dust settles?

 

When men are trying to deceive, things get complicated.  They lie.  They usually flatter.  Then they confront.  Then they  threaten.  And yet, we who are the “simple” ones follow the ones who know how to deceive and we reject those who are trying to tell the truth.  How do we become “prudent” with regard to what we believe?

 

First of all, we can be sure that all people tell lies.  Sometimes they are lies of omission.  We fail to tell the truth when we should.  Sometimes they are lies of commission.  We say things we know are not true.  We want to cover up our own “sins” or we don't want to offend someone by telling the truth.  Sometimes we intend to lie but sometimes we lie because we have “jumped to conclusions” without having all the facts.  But all people do not like to lie and they do not make it a habit.  They are not “liars” in that sense.  But some people lie when the truth would do better and they make a habit of lying.  They have to have good memories because when we lie we have to remember the story we told so we don't tell a different story to someone else at a different time and have the lie come back to haunt us.

 

Why do we believe liars and discredit those who tell the truth?  That is the question that the Lord has asked in this section of the Bible.  Sometimes the truth is hard to believe.  I think it is difficult to believe that “believing” or “trusting” in the Lord is sufficient to save us eternally.  I think it is always difficult to believe God since He thinks differently that we do which is why our minds have to be changed about spiritual things before we can truly trust in the Lord.  I think complicated ways of salvation that involve complicated laws and ceremonies and sacrifices make more sense to most of us than simple trusting faith.  The Lord never lied to us.  People have misused His words to promote lies, but the Lord never lied.  But His simple message is rejected for the more complex but changing “truth” of science, philosophy and religion. 

 

When it comes to this tax law, I only use it as an illustration because as a former CPA, it is something that I understand.  I frankly don't know who to believe about who benefits, because I haven't read the final bill. I don't know who is lying about the bill's costs and benefits, but I am fairly sure that someone is.   But when it comes to eternal things, I just want to make sure that we all believe the truth.  I have read the manual on what pleases the Lord, it is called the Bible.  I have believed the One who sacrificed Himself for us and who never told a lie.  There was no deceit found in his mouth (1 Peter 2:22).  Satan attacks these simple truths.  Why is it so easy to believe liars, and so hard to believe those who tell the truth?

 

Meditation for the week of  December 3, 2017

Image and Likeness of God

 

Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

(Genesis 1:26-27)

 

Differing Opinions

I have wondered for years what it really means for man to be created in God's image and likeness.  If you read the literature on this subject you will find that there is certainly no agreement as to what this means but I am going to share my thoughts anyway.  With regard to what I am writing in this meditation, I reserve the right to change my mind without notice.  But I think I have some clarity on the issue.

 

The first question that must be addressed is, does likeness simply explain what it means to be an image or is it something else?  I take it that it is something else.  We know that images are representations of something or someone.  Caesar had his image on his coins.  Many cultures used idols or images to represent their gods.  We have many statues or images that represent important historical events.  Most images do not necessarily “look like” the thing they represent although some do.  Even in this passage that we are considering, both males and females are created as images to represent God.  The second of the Ten Commandments forbids making carved images that were like anything God had created.  God knew that if man carved an image, he would worship the image and the thing that it represented.  Man was not to worship created beings or things, He was to worship the creator of those things.

 

Representation and Companionship

So what does it mean when God created mankind in his likeness?  I personally think it simply means that God created man to fellowship with Him and to talk with Him. The animals could not do that but God created a companion in man.  So man was to represent Him (he was his image) and man was to communicate with God.  That is, he was to talk with Him and have fellowship with Him (he was like Him). 

 

Man has never perfectly represented God since the fall in the Garden.  However, there is a man that does, and that man is Christ.   2 Corinthians 4:3-4 says, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”  However, man has not lost his responsibility to represent God since 1 Corinthians 11:7 says, “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.”  I take it this verse is referring to saved or born again men.

 

Romans 8:29 makes it clear that God wants man to be conformed to the image of His Son.  So I would believe that an unsaved person does not represent God and a saved person should.  But it takes the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit for a saved person to be conformed to the image of God's Son.  Only then would he perfectly represent God.   I believe that fellowship is broken by sin and the only person apart from the Lord who is really “like” God in our dispensation is one who is born again, saved, and forgiven.  John tells us in his first epistle that we who are saved have fellowship with one another but our fellowship is really with the Father and with His Son (1 John 1:3). 

 

Do We Fulfill what we Were Created to be?

I suppose it would be right to say that being God's image or representative, has to do with the Christians relationship to others.  Being in the likeness of God has to do with our relationship with God.  This would include our worship and prayer life.  And I have to ask myself, “If others only see God as they see me, what are they seeing?”  I also wonder if God is enjoying companionship with me.  That was the whole point of creation and now it is the reason for the cross. 

 

 

Meditation for the week of December 10, 2017

The Comings of the Lord

 

The Lord's first coming is being celebrated by a world that by and large does not believe in Him in a Biblical way.  Many celebrate Christmas but do not get baptized scriptually nor do they celebrate the Lord's supper often as the Lord requested.  In many cases they do not love their neighbors.  But the Lord did come and He is coming.  And His second coming will happen when the world least expects it.  Our believing doesn't make this true, it is true whether we believe it or not.  But if we believe the Lord, we can prepare by believing in the Lord (that is, by trusting Him).  For the Christian His second coming will mean salvation from a world that has grown increasingly wicked.  For the the unbeliever, read on:  

 

Revelation 6:1-17

 

(1)  Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, "Come and see."

 

The Four horsemen of the Apocalypse

(2)  And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.

(3)  When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, "Come and see."

(4)  Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.

(5)  When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come and see." So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.

(6)  And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine."

(7)  When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, "Come and see."

So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.

 

Martyrs who are now Praying for Revenge

(9)  When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.

(10)  And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"

Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

 

The Great Day of God's Wrath

(12)  I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.

(13)  And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind.

(14)  Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.

(15)  And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains,

(16)  and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!

(17)  For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"

 

The Lord came to die.  He gave Himself for us.  He loves us.  When we reject that love, there are consequences.  John the apostle tells us, “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” (Revelation 1:7)

 

Please don't worship Him your way this Christmas.  Worship Him by really believing in Him.  The cross is the real reason for the season.

 

 

Meditation for the week of December 17, 2017

The Greatest Gift, the Greatest Love

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (sacrifice)  for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

What The World Needs Now Is Love--

What the world needs now
Is love, sweet love
It's the only thing that there's just too little of
What the world needs now
Is love, sweet love
No, not just for some, but for everyone.

I remember years ago hearing this song sung by Petula Clark.  I liked it then and I like it now.  The song no doubt deals with the love that we show one another.  But God has shown that love to us.  It is a love of which mankind seems to be incapable. 

The world has been offered a great sacrificial love by God Himself.  That love was manifested in the Lord Jesus.  He was rejected by the many and accepted by the few.  It seems to still be that way.  But the greatest gift that anyone could offer this world has been offered in the gift of the Lord Jesus.  We could well ask the question, do we appreciate the fact that God gave us His Son and through Him He is offering us eternal life?  Yes, what the world needs now is love sweet love.

Don't you just love it when someone that you love says, “I love you!”  Well that is what God is saying to you in the giving of His Son.  We are vividly reminded of that love during the holiday season.  Don't let the hustle and bustle of the season drown out the real message of the birth of the Lord.  

Meditation for the week of December 24, 2017

Remembering

 

Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD And who meditate on His name. "They shall be Mine," says the LORD of hosts, "On the day that I make them My jewels.  And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him." Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God And one who does not serve Him.

(Malachi 3:16-18)

 

The Lord's Request

When the Lord ate the Passover with His disciples on that last night before His betrayal and crucifixion, He left His disciples with a request.  After the Passover meal He passed a loaf of bread and a cup of wine to his disciples and He said, “This do in remembrance of me.”   The bread was to be a memorial of His body and the wine was to be a memorial of His blood.  He asked for the disciples to remember Him often and many of us have made it a priority to remember Him on every Lord's Day which is the day of the resurrection.  The Jews remembered their deliverance from Egypt with the Passover.  That lasted until the Lord became the Passover lamb.  Now we remember the Lord of whom the Passover supper speaks.  The Lord's Supper will last until the Lord comes again.  The Lord said that in taking the bread and the cup, we should remember Him until He comes.  Since He didn't come while the disciples were living, that request applies to those of us who are waiting for His coming.

 

The Lord's Promise

It is a privilege to participate with others who really believe in the Lord in this remembrance feast.  But while we remember the Lord, He is remembering the remnant of truly righteous Jews who have been faithful to Him in a day when Israel has turned away from the Lord.  In Malachi, the people who are being criticized for their lack of devotion to the Lord by the Lord act like the “know it all child” that refuses to accept the fact that his behavior is wrong.  As the Lord makes His charges against the Jews, they act as though everything that He is saying is unjustified.  However, the Lord is once again giving us a lesson in division.  He divides the righteous from the wicked.  We do not seem to know how to do that but the Lord does.  And while this passage deals primarily with the Jews, it certainly applies to those of us who claim to be Christians today.  The Lord is able to divide the believer from the pretend believer.  He is able to separate the sheep from the goats.  He is able to separate wheat from tares.  Those who are real are precious to the Lord.  They are written in His Lamb's book of life.  They are part of His bride.  He remembers them.

 

Closing out the Year

As we come to the end of another year, it is always wise to take inventory and to see what we have accomplished and where we have failed.  But the real inventory is being taken by the Lord.  We may be satisfied with our relationship with Him, but is He?  Are we making excuses for our failures or are we willing to admit that the Lord knows faithfulness when He sees it?  We really need to start with the great division between believers and unbelievers.  John 3:18 reminds us, "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.”

 

Those arguing with God in this minor prophet are not believers in the right sense.  They believe in the existence of God and in the power of God but they have never come to the place where they let God tell them how He wants to be worshiped.  Instead they want Him to accept the worship that they want to give Him which included defective sacrifices.  They were unfaithful to their wives. They were serving pagan gods.  Yet, they couldn't understand why the Lord was unhappy with them.  Are we like that today?

 

Question

In the great division that God makes, will we be written with righteous or with the wicked?

 

Meditation for the week of December 31, 2017