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when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the
people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, "By what
authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this
authority?" (Matthew 21:23)
Lord had just made his "triumphal entry" entry into Jerusalem.
He had cleansed the temple, overthrowing the tables of those who were
merchandising religion. He had healed the lame and the blind and had
cursed a fig tree which withered up because it wasn't bearing fruit.
Then the chief priests and elders of the people had the audacity to come
to the Lord and ask Him who had given Him the right to do these things
because they surely hadn't.
Lord was born in Bethlehem without a natural father which meant that he
appeared to be illegitimate to those who didn't believe the Scriptures.
He grew up in Nazareth, a town despised by most Jews. He didn't get the
formal schooling that a religious leader would normally get from the
Rabbi's. He didn't have riches and the power that sometimes goes with
that. However, He spoke with authority and the people could detect that
from the beginning of his ministry. In Matthew 7:29 we read, "For
he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." I
think even the average citizen of that day knew that the Lord knew what
He was talking about while the scribes and religious leaders did not.
But if that is true, why did the people listen to the scribes and
Pharisees and encourage the Romans to crucify the Lord? I believe the
answer is "peer pressure."
religious leaders had the right education, they had the right
connections, they had the approval of their peers, they had riches in
most cases, and they were "in" with the Roman leaders. But
they didn't know their own Bibles. They didn't see that Psalm 22 and
Isaiah 53 and other old testament prophecies required the Lord to suffer
before He could reign. They could quote the Scriptures and they could
teach their traditions, but they simply didn't know what they were
question is, "Had I been there in that day and at that time, who
would I have followed?" But a better question is, "In our day
and in our time, who am I following?" If peer pressure caused the
people to listen to the leaders who wanted to crucify the Lord in His
day, how much easier it must be for us to be affected by peer pressure
and listen to the wrong leaders today.
Lord got His authority from His Father who on two occasions said that
this was His beloved Son and that He should be listened to and followed.
One time was at His baptism and one time was at the Mount of
Transfiguration. The first time, quite a few likely heard the voice from
heaven. The second time only three disciples heard that voice. But even
without the voice from heaven, after the Lord taught the people the
principles of the Kingdom in the sermon on the mount, they detected that
He knew what He was taking about. They seemed to sense his authority
even though His message was radically different from what a Jew would
normally be taught. The Lord taught them to worship in private, not in
public. They were to be peacemakers. They were to turn the other cheek,
to have their riches in heaven and not on earth. They were to depend
upon the Lord for their daily needs, to forgive, to not judge
hypocritically; and to recognize that the most people are on the broad
road that leads to destruction. This was not a message that the people
would usually hear from their religious leaders.
who are we listening to today? There are some basic things that I want
to know before listening to a teacher. I want to know how that person
was reached and saved. How did he or she become a believer in the Lord
Jesus? I want to know if that person was willing to identify with the
Lord in an immersion ceremony called baptism in order to confess his or
her faith in the Lord. If those foundations are not clearly understood,
I question the ability of that man or woman to be able to be spirit led
in their teaching and understanding of the Scripture. If a man or woman
is truly saved and has spent time alone with God, I don't think it is
difficult to detect the "touch of God" in his or her ministry.
That's the kind of person we should be listening to today.
of the power of peer pressure, this is something we all need to pray
about. I personally want to follow men who are obviously getting their
authority from the Lord Himself through the power of the Holy Spirit.
for the week of February 3, 2013
Word for the Wise!
God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that
the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:17)
am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in
and out and find pasture. (John 10:9)
is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven
given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be
saved?" (Acts 16:30)
since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God,
it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save
those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:21)
when we were dead in trespasses, (God) made us alive together with
Christ (by grace you have been saved), (Ephesians 2:5)
is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus
came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. (1 Timothy
ago, I had a junker for a car. I was having the tires wear so I took it
to a tire dealership that did front-end work. I remember the mechanic
getting under the car and poking here and prodding there. He then rolled
out from under the car and looked at me with a grin and said, "We
can save her." He was the man who could do it. So I drove that car
for some more miles because the car had been saved.
word "saved" or "salvation" is used quite frequently
in the Scripture but it doesn't always mean the same thing. The
Scriptures that I have included with this meditation, all have to do
with being delivered from the penalty that we deserve because of our
sin. It is the idea of being delivered from danger. This concept of
salvation is sometimes looked at in the Bible as a new birth (John
1:12-14, 1 Peter 1:23). Sometimes it is looked at as a resurrection
(John 5:24). It is always an important event in the life of one who is
going to heaven. When a person is saved, the lost is found, the
unbeliever changes his or her mind and trusts in the Lord, and the
spiritually blind begin to see or understand.
can also mean preservation. I believe that is what Paul is talking about
when he writes to Timothy and says, "Take heed to yourself and to
the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both
yourself and those who hear you (1 Timothy 4:16)." The word can
also deal with the future deliverance of the Christian from the wrath of
God that will be poured out on this world. This deliverance has to do
with the Lord's return. In Romans 13:11, Paul says, "And do this,
knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for
now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed." So
believers in Christ have been saved (delivered) from the penalty of sin,
they are being saved (preserved) from the power of sin, and they will be
saved from the presence of sin at the coming of the Lord.
is the most important doctrine or teaching of Scripture. The Lord died
to save us, God sent the Holy Spirit to draw us to the Savior so we can
be saved, God gave us the Scriptures to tell us how to be saved and how
to be sure that we are saved. God's way of salvation shows us our value
to God. It is the most sacrificial expression of love that the world has
ever seen or can ever know. Yet in the so-called Christian church, often
this doctrine is either ignored, watered down or changed.
people tell me that they are saved, I like to ask them what it was like
to be lost. Then I like to ask them how they are sure they are saved. I
am personally sure because God says Christ died for me and I can give
you a number of Scriptures that make me that promise. I am not saved and
sure of it because somebody told me I was saved. I am saved because
Christ died for me and I have the promise of God for that.
thing I have found out over the years is that God is faithful and He
keeps His promises. One of His promises is, "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.
(John 3:18)." I take comfort in the promise of the first part of
that verse. However, the promise to the unbeliever in the last part of
the verse is just as dependable.
you sure you are saved? I am!
for the week of February 10, 2013
You Know what You are Missing?
who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; They are
mighty who would destroy me, being my enemies wrongfully; Though I have
stolen nothing, I still must restore it. (Psalms 69:4)
I was listening to an ad on the radio for a company that specializes in
situations where people are in serious trouble with the Internal Revenue
Service One man testified that he had "made a mistake" on his
return and was $70,000.00 in debt to the IRS. He would have lost his
house, his car and probably his marriage if this company had not come
along side and helped him. Within an hour they had his problem solved
and he didn't have to do a thing. They did it all. Now I have worked
with the IRS and this seemed a bit unrealistic to me. Nevertheless, can
you imagine the relief of getting the IRS "off of your back?"
The Lord has done one better than that. He has never stolen or sinned
and yet according to the old King James Version, our verse for today
says He restored that which He took not away.
the book of Leviticus we have five offerings detailed as the basis for
the worship of the nation of Israel after they have been delivered from
the bondage of Egypt. Those offerings are the burnt offering, the meal
or grain offering, the peace or fellowship offering, the sin offering,
and the trespass or guilt offering. The first three offerings are
ascending offerings and are called sweet savor offerings. They are also
voluntary offerings. The last two offerings are required offerings. It
takes all of these offerings and more to help us get a little
understanding of the value to God and to us of the ultimate sacrifice
made by Christ when He offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins.
order to trust the Lord as our Savior, we must be convicted of our sin
before we are willing to believe in Christ as our sin bearer. After we
are saved, we begin to realize that there is much more to what the Lord
has provided for us than just forgiveness of sins. In other words, we
appreciate the value of the trespass and sin offerings before we enter
into the value of the ascending offerings. However, when the Israelites
worshiped as a redeemed people, the ascending offerings are mentioned
first and the first of the ascending offerings is an offering that is
ALL for God. Neither the priests nor the person offering the sacrifice
get any portion of that offering. It is completely burned on the altar
and it ascends as a sweet savor to God. It will take an eternity for us
to fully appreciate the value and meaning of the burnt offering. So the
trespass and sin offerings are prominent in the salvation experience
while the ascending offerings are prominent when we worship.
however, I have been enjoying the thought that in the trespass or guilt
offering, a person who defrauded another had to restore the original
amount plus 20 percent. But the Lord never took anything that didn't
belong to Him and yet he "restored" what He didn't take away.
Sin robbed us of fellowship with God. It robbed us of peace with God and
with our own consciences. It robbed us of beautiful relationships with
others. It robbed us of paradise. When Christ came, He died to restore
all of that and more. He didn't sin but He was made a sin offering for
us. He paid all the penalties that could be charged against us. He set
us free. The Holy Spirit entered upon our believing in Christ (Ephesians
1:13), and because of that we have a God consciousness that we never had
before. Now the Scriptures enlighten and encourage instead of seeming to
be contradictory, condemning and critical.
tries to blind the eyes of them that believe not (2 Corinthians 4:4) so
that they don't know what they are missing. However, trusting the Lord
not only pays a great debt that we could not pay, but it restores a
relationship with God that was broken by sin in the Garden of Eden. It
gives us peace with God and peace with one another and peace with our
own consciences. And best of all when we take that last breath and move
out of these earthly bodies, our next step will be into paradise to
enjoy all that the Christ through the cross has prepared for those who
know that there are some who read these meditations who do not really
understand what I am talking about. Some of you are critical of
Christianity and think that Christ is the problem and not the solution.
Some of you think that Christ and his salvation will restrict your fun,
your funds and your friends. All I can say is that you don't know what
you are missing! Christ died to restore that which He took not away, but
you will never benefit from the provision He has made unless you
"believe in Him."
for the week of February 17, 2013
name is Jesus and we call Him Lord.
23:3 He restores my soul!
coffee drinkers know how great that first cup of good coffee tastes in
the morning. Some of you know how great a cold Coke or Pepsi tastes on a
hot summer day. Or perhaps you have been refreshed by a cup of really
clear cold water out of a mountain stream while hiking. Maybe you
remember what it is like to get up refreshed and rejuvenated after a
really good night's sleep. I think that is what David was trying to
describe when he uses the word "restore". His soul was
refreshed, revived, and rejuvenated.
David speaks of his soul, he is talking about more than his body. I
think he is referring to his mind and how it has been restored. What was
the cause of David's refreshed thinking? I think it was the victory that
he had experienced in fighting the enemy, Goliath. That tall,
uncircumcised Philistine had been taken down with a sling and one smooth
stone. I like to think of the valley of the shadow of death as the
valley of Elah where Goliath was taunting the Israelites and where David
realized that the Philistine was defying the armies of the living God.
The Philistine had been taunting the Israelites for forty days and they
were dismayed and afraid. But David trusted in God. He did not trust
Saul's armor. Saul wouldn't engage the battle but seemed to know how
David should engage it. David simply trusted in God and used the ability
that God had developed in Him while he was tending sheep. He took down
the giant with one of those five smooth stones and he had four left over
in case the four close relatives of Goliath decided to take up the
battle (2 Samuel 21:22). David never expected to miss and he didn't.
coming away in victory, he sings about His shepherd. And he says,
"He restores my soul." There are a lot of other blessings in
this Psalm but to have our souls refreshed after winning a battle with
an uncircumcised Philistine is one great blessing. Likely the
uncircumcised Philistine pictures the flesh. The enemy is tall and tests
us until we are afraid and dismayed. Then when we realize we can't win
the battle the Lord reminds us that He has One like David who will win
the battle for us. His name is Jesus and we call Him Lord.
David was a man like us and He was rejoicing after being used of the
Lord in this way. There is nothing like the taste of victory over the
enemy to help us feel refreshed. We may wonder before the battle if we
are going to die in the battle. We may get to the point where we are
willing to die if that is the only way to be faithful. Esther got to
this point when she said, "If I perish, I perish (Esther
4:16)!" But David had defended the honor of the Living God and God
had used him in a great victory. He was refreshed. I love the last words
of this Psalm. They are the confident words of one who has trusted in
God and who has been victorious because of that. These are the words of
David, but I hope they are our words as well:
goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will
dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
for the week of February 24, 2013