BDCMINISTRIES                  HOME

 

FEBRUARY 2014

To leave comments go to http://bdcministries.com/

Back to Archived Meditations

 

Do we Really Mean What we Say?

Exodus 19:8 Then all the people answered together and said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do." So Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD.

Exodus 24:3 So Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, "All the words which the LORD has said we will do."

The children of Israel had been delivered from the bondage of Egypt. They had already met several challenges where they thought they would have been better off to stay in bondage in Egypt than to be walking with the Lord in the wilderness. One was at the Red Sea when the Egyptians were pursuing them, and again they were delivered by the LORD their God. They had complained about a lack of water and a lack of food and again the LORD had miraculously provided. Now they have come to the Mountain of God where Moses has received the moral law and has delivered it to them. And they say, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do!" But did they really mean that?

Apparently, Moses goes up into the mountain several times if I understand this portion of Scripture right. The first time he receives the moral law and writes it in a book and reads it to the people of Israel. The second time he gets the tables of stone and the instructions for worshiping the LORD. He goes up a third time when the broken stones on which the Ten Commandments were written were replaced. While he is in the mountain that second time, the people corrupt themselves by making a Golden Calf and worshiping it. Now whether Moses was present or not, the commands had not changed. They were not to worship any other gods than the LORD and they were not to bow down to idols. Did they really mean it when they sad that all that the Lord had spoken to them they would do?

Moses being in the mountain for forty days and forty nights is a picture of the day that we live in. The Lord has ascended to heaven and has promised to come again, but while He tarries what are we doing? Are we doing what He has asked us to do? Are we worshiping the way he has asked us to worship or are we corrupting ourselves in much the same way that the Israelites did?

God builds His church on the truth that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16). Are we building the church that way or are we using marketing surveys, rock music, programs and any other thing that will appeal to the flesh in us? When the children of Israel built the tabernacle in the wilderness, it was to be a place where the Lord would dwell among them, but it had to built according to the plan given to Moses in the mount. Are we building what the Lord wants or what we want? It would be nice if the two were the same thing, but often they are not. Often churches claim to avoid teaching doctrine because they say doctrine is divisive. I think they mean that they aren’t going to deal with the issues of baptism, the different views of the Lord’s supper, the different views of the Lord’s coming and of "Judgment day". They are going to make sure that the local gathering of Christians that we call the local church is a place where people are welcome and comfortable even if they are violating the moral law of God and justifying it, and even if they do not understand the new birth. Traditional Biblical church order including the need for holiness or practical separation from the world is not taught because it is no longer "culturally relevant." Worship is defined as high powered music rather than as devotion and obedience to all that the Lord has said.

Christian often complain about the moral problems in the world at large, but unfortunately, most of those problems come into present day church gatherings. The unsaved have not promised to do all that the Lord has said, but we who claim to know the Lord Jesus as our Savior and Lord should have said that. If we said that, do we really mean it?

No doubt all of us have problems at time understanding and obeying simple things that please the Lord. But the answer is not to ignore or disregard what the Lord has said. We cannot truthfully try to be culturally relevant by changing or ignoring basic Christian principles of morality and worship. Just as language changes, the expression of some of the things that please the Lord when we worship may change, but the basic principles of worship and morality do not change. The answer is to have a real desire to do all that the Lord has commanded. Since we are not Jews, worshiping as Jews, we need to look to the epistles for our instructions. Of course the epistles will use the Old Testament to illustrate things the Lord is saying to us today and the epistles will help us understand the application of many principles that the Lord taught in the gospels. But to the extent that we can understand the simple teaching of the epistles, do we have a desire to do all that the Lord says today?

I hope so!

Meditation for the week of February 2, 2014

God's Perspective vs Man's

 

Exodus 30:15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.

 

Each man had equal value

When the children of Israel came out of Egypt they were numbered. A census was taken and every male twenty years old and older was counted. According to Numbers 1, this was a numbering of those who could serve in the army. When it came to fighting the battles of the Lord and possessing the land that had been entrusted to them, the value of each man was equal before the Lord. Each man had to pay a ransom for his soul so that there would be no plague among the children of Israel. Could we not apply this to our individual value to the Lord in spreading the Gospel and teaching the truth of the New Testament spiritual kingdom today?

 

Differing abilities

Now it is clear that we each have differing talents and gifts when it comes to fighting the Lord’s battles. But we all have the same value to the Lord. Before we can be used, an atonement or a ransom must be paid. That ransom has been paid for us, we do not pay it ourselves as the children of Israel did. That ransom was the blood of the Lord Jesus. While the ransom has been paid, we must apply the ransom to our own lives by faith. Once we have done that we have equal value in the service of the Lord. What is our value to the Lord? We are individually valued by the value of the Lord Jesus, the Son of God. I don’t think we can really understand the value that the Father placed upon His Son, His Son in Whom He was well pleased. But God’s Son was given so that we might be ransomed, redeemed, saved and delivered from the bondage of sin. God has certainly valued us at more than half a shekel of silver. But when it comes to salvation God’s value of each of us is the same.

 

Man’s Estimate of Value

Recently, we had a big important event in the United States. It was called the super bowl. Two of the best football teams in the U.S. were matched up that day. As I read news articles and saw social media postings about the big game, I noticed that there was a lot publicity given by the evangelical world to team members who professed faith in the Lord. Now I know that each person who trusts Christ is a miracle of grace, but somehow it seemed like it was more important to tell their story than the story of the millions of faceless people, many living in poverty and war ravaged lands, that have trusted Christ and that have been faithful to Him. I know that people will listen to a football player when they won’t listen to me, but I kept wondering why their conversions to Christ seemed to be of more value than mine. What message are we sending when we only get excited about the lives and testimonies of the rich and famous? I am glad for every football player and every actor and every President that is really saved. I get more excited, however, when someone I know comes to know Lord. I get more excited when my family comes to know the Lord. I am more excited and thankful that the Lord reached down in love and saved a poor sinner like me. Think of it, the Lord knows my name and has even numbered the hairs of my head. When we come to the Lord and trust Him, we find that the world at large may not esteem us, but the Lord does. A football player who comes to Christ is of infinite value to the Lord, but we need to remember that everyone has that same value as far as God is concerned. And when it comes to fighting the battles of the Lord, we do not need to be successful football players to do that.

 

The Measure of our Worth

God has asked the question in Mark 8:36, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" I take it that means that our lives or souls are worth more than the whole world. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." I take it that means that God considered our lives to be worth the life of His Son.

We need to remember that trusting Christ involves taking up a cross daily. It involves dying with Christ. It involves a path in life that is not popular and will likely involve persecution and ridicule. True Bible-believing-Chrisitians will be the minority and not the majority wherever we go except when we go to meetings of the church. We need to be honest about these things when we preach the Gospel. If those football players really came to know the Lord as their Savior, they have already found out that they have not chosen the well-accepted popular path.

 

Conclusion

The Lord sees things differently than we do. In order to preach the Gospel faithfully and honestly, we need the Lord's perspective.

 

Meditation for the week of February 9, 2014

An Adventure with God

Luke 17:5 And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."

The Difficulty

Faith in the Lord Jesus is what saves. In addition, we walk by faith and not by sight after we are saved (1 Corinthians 5:7). Sometimes I think it is more difficult to believe God when it comes to the practical promises of this life than it is to trust Him with our souls for eternity. The Bible speaks of little faith and of great faith I do not believe that great faith refers to the intensity of our believing or the quality of our believing but instead, I believe, great faith has to do with our ability to believe in promises that naturally speaking are unbelievable. Little faith means that we have not yet matured to the point where we can rest on promises that make no logical sense.

The Example of Abraham

In Genesis 22, God tested Abraham by asking him to offer Isaac, his miraculous unique son, as a burnt offering. This must have seemed strange since God had never before asked for a human sacrifice. It was also strange because a dead son cannot produce offspring as promised to Abraham. Yet, Abraham willingly obeyed the Lord because He did believe Isaac would live to produce offspring. Hebrews 11:19 tells us that Abraham had confidence that God would raise Isaac from the dead. Abraham had believed God when he was told that he would have a son through Sarah. Yet he listened to his wife and tried to help God fulfill His promise by producing a child from his own body through Hagar, Sarah’s slave girl. Obviously, this was a waiting time for Abraham, and often waiting times are times when we begin to question the promises of God. Abraham had to wait until both he and Sarah were past the age when they could produce children before the promise to have a child was fulfilled. When the promise was fulfilled, there was no human intervention involved, and there was no logical scientific explanation involved. The promise was made and was fulfilled by God himself. The current nation of Israel is living proof of the fact that God did what He had promised Abraham.

When the test of Abraham’s faith came in Genesis 22, Abraham willingly did what God asked. While Hebrews 11 makes it clear that Abraham believed God would raise Isaac from the dead, even in Genesis 22 we see Abraham saying that he and the lad would go yonder and worship and would come again (verse 5). The man who had been weak in faith when he took Hagar and produced Ishmael, now has grown in faith and is willing to do whatever God asks. He now expects God to do miracles.

Practical Application

Having weak faith is better than having no faith. But if we walk by faith and not by sight, we will grow in our ability to believe in God’s practical promises. When we come to the conclusion that what God has promised He will also perform (Romans 4:21), that is when we have great faith or are strong in faith. In reading the story of Abraham and comparing it to New Testament teaching about Abraham’s faith, it seems Abraham’s faith was strong in Genesis 15 when the he is first promised a son, then he seems to have weakened when he took Hagar as the surrogate mom. But Romans 4 makes it clear that when he reaches the age where neither he nor Sarah could have children because of the "deadness" of their bodies, then he was strong in faith. This set the stage for him to worship God by being willing to offer Isaac on an altar even though Abraham was to be the father of many nations though Isaac.

Missed Blessing

How often do we miss miracles that God wants to do for us because we have a problem believing in the promises of God? The children of Israel received miracle after miracle when in the wilderness but they never expected the next one. Because Abraham experienced the miraculous birth of Isaac, he was prepared to experience Isaac’s resurrection because of his confidence in God’s promises. I know some people talk about their faith in a general way as though they have faith in a good God who will take care of them even though these people often have no promises from the Word of God on which to base their confidence. I believe that kind of faith can be a good thing, but I believe it is better when we can remind God of promises that He has made to us. It is even better when we have peace about the fact that "what He has promised, He will also perform." The promises don’t have to "make sense," they just have to be God’s promises to us.

An Adventure With God

When our faith matures to the point where we can depend in a practical way on promises God has made to us, this life can be an adventure with God. It is an adventure that those who walk by sight (human logic and reasoning) rather than by faith, will never experience. When we quit second guessing the Lord and the promises He makes to us, that is when the adventure begins. We don’t want to miss the thrill of that adventure

Meditation for the week of February 16, 2014

What do I Hear?


Mark 4:23-24 “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.

Introduction

The Bible talks a lot about the way people hear or listen. One of the most quoted Old Testament passages in the New Testament is found in Isaiah 6:8-9 when Isaiah is commissioned to speak to a people who he is told will not hear:
And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive. Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed.”

When Stephen is stoned in Acts 7, he speaks truth courageously to the people of Israel. In Acts 7:57 we read that they “stopped their ears.” They didn’t want to hear what Stephen was saying. In 2 Timothy 4:3, Paul warns Timothy that a day is coming when people will want teachers who “satisfy” their audience’s itching ears rather than teaching sound doctrine.

 

The Question

Do I hear what the Lord is saying or do I only hear what I want to hear? I am a firm believer in the Holy Spirit’s ability to convict and convert sinners through the preaching of the truth. I am just as firm a believer in the Holy Spirit’s ability to teach the believer and to guide them into all truth after we are saved. But in order to be saved and in order to obey the truth of Scripture after we are saved, our minds must be open to the Lord’s teaching. We cannot come to the Lord with our minds made up. The reason for this is found in Isiah 55:8 where the Lord says “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.” God just doesn’t think like a sinful man thinks. It turns out that His ways are by far better than ours and his thoughts are far better than ours.

I noticed in reading Mark 4 that the disciples of the Lord were astounded when the Lord calmed a storm. They said in verse 41, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” I think one of the ways that the heavens declare the glory of God is that the stars are orderly and can always be found where they are supposed to be with mathematical precision. Why is it that the wind and the sea obey the Lord, the stars obey the Lord, but humans have so much trouble with hearing and obeying what they hear.

 

The Problem

I am glad that I am not called upon to obey all of the Old Testament commands. We know that God’s moral truth has not changed but the way violations were dealt with in the Old Testament seem to be different than in the New Testament. For example, stoning was called upon for certain crimes in the Old Testament. I saw a stoning on the news recently in an Arab country and I have to admit that if the Lord still asked us to stone people, I would not “hear” Him. That is a confession of sin in one sense since my mind is made up. But I don’t believe I am called upon to stone people in the New Testament. The New Testament asks the church (the Lord’s people in our day) to excommunicate in places where the nation of Israel (the Lord’s people in that day) carried out capital punishment. As believers, we are told to separate from those professing believers who commit certain vile sins. But the New Testament always allows for confession and restoration. I am glad that I do not live in Old Testament times as a Jew. I am glad that “grace and truth” characterized the Lord.

I could list a number of areas where I think New Testament Christians are following a set of religious beliefs that are not Biblical. They are “hearing” the teaching of reformed preachers on many issues relating to the doctrines of the kingdom of God. But then I have to ask myself, “Is my mind closed to the truth or am I open to what the Lord really wants me to believe and do? Do I listen to the Lord?

 

My Prayer

I am convinced that we all come with “baggage” that makes it hard for us to have “ears that hear.” But to the extent that it is humanly possible, I want to have ears that are open to the Lord. We all need to take heed to what we hear. I personally want to hear the voice of the Lord. I may hear that voice through others, but I view with suspicion any teachers who cannot tell me how they passed from death unto life (John 5:24). I also want to know if they have followed the Lord in baptism to identify with the Lord after being saved. Adhering to those two guidelines would keep us from a lot of the confusion that is being taught as Biblical truth today

 

Meditation for the week of February 23, 2014