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FEBRUARY 2007

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John 11:35 Jesus wept.

 

We are indoctrinated in our society to believe that real men don't cry. If you look up that phrase on the Internet you will find a number a poems and songs dealing with real men not crying. So either the Lord was not a "real man" or our culture is wrong because Jesus wept. I believe our culture is wrong and that the Lord was not only God, but He was a "real man."

The Lord wept on at least three occasions. He wept in Luke 19:41 because of the hardheartedness of the nation of Israel toward Him. He wept because He knew that their day of judgment was coming. According to Hebrews 5:7 he wept in the Garden of Gethsemane as he considered what lay before Him. And he wept at the tomb of his friend Lazarus who had died.

Why did the Lord weep at the tomb? Some think he wept because of the lack of confidence that his friends had in Him. Mary and Martha knew that he loved them and Lazarus. Yet he wasn't acting like it as far as they were concerned. Why hadn't He come immediately when they first sent for Him? They knew that He could have kept Lazarus from dying, but they never expected Him to raise Lazarus from the dead. I often wonder if the Lord weeps because of our lack of confidence in His ability to get it right.

Others think that the Lord wept because he sympathized with the feelings of Mary and Martha. He knew they were grieving and he was grieving with them. The writer of Hebrews tells us that the Lord is touched by the feeling of our infirmities. So even though He is going to wipe away all tears from our eyes in heaven, He understands the heartaches and tears of this life because He was a real man.

I sometimes wonder if he wept because he knew that when Lazarus was raised from the dead, he was going to be rejected and suffer persecution. I believe Lazarus was being comforted on the other side of the grave in paradise (Luke 16:25). While this may be a different Lazarus in Luke 16, yet both Lazarus' would have gone to the place of comfort since both were believers in the Lord Jesus. Yet when the John 11 Lazarus was raised from the dead and was brought back from paradise, the chief priests sought to kill him because people were trusting the Lord because of him.

The Lord may also have wept because he knew that he too was facing a tomb. He was certainly the man of sorrows that was rejected and acquainted with grief that Isaiah tells us about in Isaiah 53:3. And He may have been weeping because of the sorrows that had come into the world because of sin.

Most of us believe that the Lord is a sympathizing Savior because Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. It gives us courage when life doesn't make sense just as it didn't make sense to Mary and Martha. We often look at circumstances instead of at the Lord. The Lord may be asking us to wait when we feel we need Him now. It is in the wait that we often get discouraged. But it is because of the wait that we may see the Lord do greater things than we expected.

Jesus wept. So real men do weep. And the Lord does care even when we get discouraged because He hasn't come running when we send for Him. He is worth trusting. If we are unsaved we need to trust Him to be the sacrifice for our sins. If we are saved, we need to trust our circumstances to Him even when those circumstances don't make sense.

 

Meditation for the week of February 4, 2007

2 Peter 2:1-3 (NKJV)

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.

 

There were false prophets like Baalam (see verse 15) and others in old testament times and there shall be false teachers in our day. A prophet speaks forth the Word of God while a teacher explains the Word of God.. Some think that teachers replaced prophets in the new testament. Whether that is true or not, it is clear that both have a major impact on how people relate to God.

How are false prophets and false teachers recognized? The best way to recognize a false prophet is to see if their predictions come to pass. That was the old testament test of a prophet. But if the prophecies haven't come to pass yet, but still could come to pass in the future, that test won't work. False teachers can be recognized today by the way they handle the Word of God. However, this passage shows that there are some other things that we can look for as well:

  1. Their work may be secretive. They may not always try to influence people from the public platform, but they will often try to get into people's homes so that they can influence them privately.

  2. Their teaching will be designed to cause divisions and to rob people of their confidence in the Word of God.

  3. Their teaching often denies the truth that Jesus is God.

  4. They give Christians a bad name.

  5. They are covetous and use their teaching to take advantage of people.

  6. They do not submit to authority.

It is easy to level the charge of false prophet or false teacher against those with whom we disagree. But to be a truly false teacher or prophet, the person must be deliberately deceiving people, and usually it is for the "wages of unrighteousness". Those who make mistakes in their teaching but who are teachable do not fall into this category.

Why do some people so easily accept what false teachers and false prophets tell them? We are told that many follow their destructive ways. I believe it is because they usually tell us what we want to hear. They often flatter and they offer people a sense of worth and of potential power. Even the Lord's disciples thought that they were going to have a place of power in His kingdom. So if these men become powerful, their followers often hope to become powerful as well. In many cases, they isolate their converts and may even brain wash them. In these cases, the followers are willing to martyr themselves for the sake of the leader and his cause. But the false prophets and teachers are self-centered in what they do instead of being self-sacrificing. Our Lord gave Himself as a sacrifice for us, but these teachers and prophets often want people to give themselves, their wealth and even their lives for the leader and his cause.

We need to be careful today that we are following the Lord and not men. We certainly should have great respect for teachers that help us, but Peter tells us to beware or be careful that we are not led away with the error of the wicked in the second to last verse of this epistle.

Peter's warning speaks to me as a teacher. My prayer is that my ministry leads people to Christ for salvation and comfort and help and not to me. I would like to be a teacher who unites instead of divides, who builds instead of destroys, and whose doctrine is sound and who rightly interprets and handles the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

Meditation for the week of February 11, 2006

Revelation 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

2 Timothy 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.

 

I like to read about people who are named in the new testament. For example, there was a certain man named Nicodemus. There was also a man named Lazarus who had sisters named Martha and Mary. Lazarus came from Bethany so we know exactly which Lazarus this was. A man named Lazarus is described in Luke 16. He was known as a beggar so likely people knew exactly which Lazarus this was. The Lord not only knew Simon, but He changed his name to Peter. The Lord knows in a personal way those who are truly saved and keeps a record of their names in His Book of Life. There are saved people in the Bible who are not named; but even when the Lord protects their identities for various reasons, He has their names in the Lamb's Book of Life. They will not be forgotten by the Lord.

We often hear people ask others if they know the Lord. It is important to know the Lord. The word know in the Bible often has the meaning of an intimate relationship. Knowing someone means knowing more than the name or the reputation of the person. It often means that you have a close personal relationship with them. Those who have rejected the Lord do not have this kind of relationship with the Lord. Luke 13: 24-27 makes it clear that we can do a lot of things for and with the Lord, but that doesn't mean that He "knows" us. The passage says:

 

Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.

Perhaps instead of asking if we know the Lord, we should ask, "Does the Lord know me?" He knows those who are saved or born again. The saved or born again are those who have trusted Him for time as well as for eternity. I find it encouraging and comforting to know that the Lord knows me because I am trusting Him. I have trusted him with my soul for eternity and I am continually learning to trust Him for the circumstances of life. We who are saved are the sheep of the Lord's pasture and the Lord says in John 10:3:

To him the porter (gatekeeper) openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

He calls His own sheep by name. He knows the Bruce that grew up in Mason City, IA and who currently lives in Waterloo, IA. That gives me comfort and security and assurance. I will not be forgotten by the Lord when He returns to take His own home, and I will not be forgotten in eternity. I trust that everyone who reads this has the assurance that your names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.

Meditation for the week of February 18, 2007

Hebrews 9:27-28

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

 

All of us have an appointment that has been made for us. We don't know when the appointment is but we know that it will involve a funeral. I get up many mornings and wonder how many people will be keeping their appointments unexpectedly that day. I often wonder whether if I will be the one to keep that appointment through an accident or through an unknown health problem.

I suppose that this statement in Hebrews 9:27 is a general statement because there are some people who have died twice and there are some people who will not die at all. Those who have died twice are those who were raised from the dead and then died again. In the New Testament we would have the raising of the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:15). Also, the ruler of the synagogue's daughter (Luke 8:53-55) was raised from the dead as was Lazarus (John 11:44). Peter raised Dorcas from the dead (Acts 9:41) and Paul raised Eutychus who had fallen out of a window because he had gotten sleepy while Paul was preaching (Acts 20:9-10). Those who will never die would be those who are alive and remain at the coming of the Lord for the church (1 Thessalonians 4:13, 1 Corinthians 15:51). But these are exceptions to the general rule that all must die once because of sin. This reminds us to look at verses in the context of the whole Bible as we decide how they should be interpreted.

In our passage there is one appointment, one sacrifice that prepares us for that appointment, and two comings of the Lord. I have recently been involved in the funeral of a very close friend. It was comforting to know that she left a clear testimony that she had trusted in that one offering for sin. There is no other sacrifice that has satisfied God. Trusting in the Lord Jesus who was offered as the sacrifice for our sins is the only way to prepare for the appointed day of our death and for the Lord's second coming.

Carrying out ceremonies such as baptism and the Lord's supper does not prepare us for our appointment, even though they are ways that the saved should worship the Lord. Joining a church will not prepare us even though the saved need to join together in a Biblical fellowship to support one another. Good works cannot prepare us although Christians demonstrates their faith by their good works (James 2:18). A preacher cannot prepare us for that appointment. He can only tell us of the One who can.

Some people assume that it doesn't make any difference as to what we believe as long as we are sincere and try to live right. I believe that what and who we believe will determine our eternal destines when it comes to keeping our set appointment. John 3:18 says, "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." God has given us one lifetime to get this right and an eternity to regret it if we do not get prepared for that one appointment and the Lord's second coming by trusting in Lord who became the one offering for our sin. What we believe will make all the difference in the world when we keep our appointments.

 

Meditation for the week of February 25, 2007