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JANUARY 2007

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Heb 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Heb 9:28 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.

 

Most of us have trouble getting anything challenging right the first time we do it. We practice sports skills over and over again. When I was working for a CPA firm, we had our audits audited by a managing partner. One of the staff accountants would see his comments and say, "We learn by doing―it over!" But there is one thing we never get to do over and over until we get it right. We don't get to die more than once. If we don't do it right the first time, we will not get to live life over so we can do it right the second time.

The Lord got things right the first time. He came the first time to be a sacrifice for our sins and He finished the work that the Lord gave Him to do. First He finished the work that proved He was Who He claimed to be (John 17:4). Then He finished the work that saves (John 19:30). This work was done right the first time and will never have to be done over according to the writer of Hebrews. There are those who offer a bloodless sacrifice for sins over and over again in their worship of the Lord, but my Bible says that the work that saves is complete. Done! Finished! It will never have to be repeated.

When I see so many people who claim to be Christians, differing with Biblical instructions on the basic issues of salvation, I wonder if we really believe that the Bible is divinely inspired and that God has revealed Himself to us through the Living Word which is Christ and through the Written Word which is the Bible. If the church produced the Bible as some claim, why didn't they produce a Bible that agrees with their practices? And if the Bible produces the church as I believe (see Romans 10:17), why then would not the church that the Bible produced preach what the Bible says? This great Truth that the work that saves is finished can not be compromised, and the idea that there is a second chance to get right with God after we die must not be tolerated.

I am so glad that Christ only had to suffer once for my sins, but I am also glad that He is coming again a second time. For those who think that they have seen the last of the Lord Jesus Christ, they are woefully mistaken. Many people think that if they don't believe in Him, then they won't have to worry about meeting Him, but the Lord is coming a second time. I wouldn't want to meet Him after having rejected Him.

I know that the general attitude of the religious world is that Christians are intolerant and are the cause of the ills of society. And some who call themselves Christians are intolerant and do cause ills in society. But Christians should not be considered intolerant just because they preach that there is only one way of salvation. Or because they preach that there is no second chance to be saved after death. Or because they preach that there is only one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:5). Or because they preach that those who reject Christ will be rejected by Christ eternally.

It is not intolerant to care enough for the welfare of people to yell, "Get off the track, the train is coming!" when the train is coming. What is intolerant, is to try to force people to believe what they don't believe and to try to destroy them if they don't believe. Christ died once to give life. He didn't die once to produce bigotry and sorrow and intolerance and death. That is the present work of Satan and his followers, not the present work of Christ and His followers. He is coming the second time to bless those who are prepared for His coming. However, He will be very intolerant of those who have rejected Him at that time. That is why it is so important to get this right the first time.

 

Meditation for the week of January 7, 2007

Psalm 69:20 Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.

 

David could have used a friend in Psalm 69. But because of shame and disgrace, his friends had forsaken him. He was alone and rejected. One of the hardest things for us to deal with is the pain of rejection. Of course, this verse likely speaks prophetically of the Lord Jesus who was rejected as well. One of my friends has written this about John the Baptist who suffered feelings of rejection while he was in prison:

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Although we do not welcome the feelings of rejection, they do give us some insight as to how Christ felt. And I think that it helps us to identify with Him and others. I believe that part of the reason for the pain in this world is so that we will have a tiny glimpse of what it cost Him to become one of us and die for us. If our lives were always rosy, we could not enter into His suffering. It would be something we read about, but never felt. He wasn't rejected just during those three years or on the cross; He is still being rejected today by people who owe Him so much. Year after year, in heart after heart, He is rejected.


I recently was thinking about John the Baptist. God called him to a work. It was a lonely work with only a brief flash of recognition. This man who spoke God's truth, this man whom God had called, this man about whom prophecies were written, was called to a lonely life and a sacrificial life. And he couldn't drink wine or cut his hair or touch dead things. Now, some of that isn't so bad, but the hair-thing certainly had to make him stand out. He lived in the wilderness, ate bugs and honey, wore coarse clothing, had no worldly goods, and had no friends. But those experiences fortified him for the path God had chosen for him. He would not have stood up to Herod if he were a wimp.

He began to do God's work, and people came to hear him. Some of them probably supported him. Some became his friends/disciples. But as he did what God called him to do --- point to Christ --- his friends began leaving him and going to "the other side". This man who had lived in the wilderness without friends was now losing the friends he had.

Then speaking the truth got him thrown in prison. That had to be lonely. And this man upon whom God had placed a special anointing began to doubt whether he had pointed to the right man. If Jesus was God, why didn't He deliver him or rescue him? This One who healed the blind and raised the dead did not seem to care about him. Jesus said He had come to set the captive free. Well, here was a relative who was a captive and there is no record that Jesus even visited him during those long months. He let him languish in a damp, dark cell, a prisoner to adverse circumstances.

But Christ was following a plan His Father had given that did not include getting involved in political situations. He was about spiritual things. And John, who had become well-known, had to decrease, that Christ might increase. And the lonely times, the wilderness times, and the rejected times are decreasing times. As our self decreases, as it moves out, it leaves room for Christ to move in. He is the balm for our pain. He is the Samaritan who binds our wounds.

He is also the One who lauded John. "There has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist." He is the one who pointed out John's great strength of character. John was not a reed swayed by the wind and he did not run around in fine clothes. He was a prophet! God's man.

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Rejection can either make us or break us. Many who have been faithful to God have been misunderstood and rejected. So if you feel you are doing your best to do God's will and if you feel that you are being rejected, just remember that you are in good company.

Meditation for the week of January 14, 2007

John 21:19-22

This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

 

Some Christians wonder if they have missed God's call in their life. I find it hard to believe that they could have missed it. We are God's children and when an earthly mother of father calls their children, they don't slam the door shut if the child either does not hear or will not respond. They usually keep calling until their child comes. I think God is a lot like that.

Peter was called to follow the Lord several times. He was brought to the Lord by his brother in John 1:42 and at that time his name was changed. His call to follow the Lord began at that time. He was called from his fishing nets to serve the Lord in Matthew 4:18 and likely again in Luke 5:11. He was given a direct commission to follow in Matthew 10 along with the other eleven. Again he was called to follow in Matthew 16:24. He was also called to follow in John 21. He was called to follow early in his relationship with the Lord, during his relationship with the Lord and after he had denied his relationship with the Lord. So I don't think that we will miss our call if we really want to hear it.

Unfortunately, sometimes we don't want to hear God call because His call involves taking up a cross and denying self. Today, the Gospel is preached as though one should be healthy, wealthy and wise after deciding to follow the Lord. If prosperity and success doesn't follow after we begin to follow the Lord, we are often made to feel that we are doing something wrong. Unfortunately, many of the early disciples were martyred because they actually believed in taking up a cross and denying themselves to be faithful to the Lord. The Lord Himself, died on a cross. So following the Lord successfully may include dying on a cross, and it will certainly involve dying to self.

Sometimes we don't hear the call of God because we are concerned about how our call compares to the call of others. We like Peter ask, "What shall this (other) man do?" The Lord wants us to follow Him with the blinders on so we don't get distracted by what others are or are not called to do. This call is personal, "Follow THOU me!"

We may have trouble following the Lord because we have failed him, and we may not feel worthy to be one of His followers. Peter had that problem. He had denied that he knew the Lord and in John 21, he was facing the One he had failed. But the Lord asked him about the depth of his love, got him to confess that he wasn't able of himself to love as he ought; and then the Lord recommissioned Peter. The Lord does not reject us when we have sinned; but, of course, He will quietly and lovingly deal with the issue. We may be with others when the Lord deals with it, but it will seem like we are alone with Him. And if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (1 John 1:9). Part of that forgiveness is to call us once again to follow Him.

Following the Lord is an adventure with God; Adventures can be challenging but adventures should be exciting and fulfilling. Our adventure starts when we respond to the call, "Follow thou me!"

Meditation for the week of January 21, 2007

2 Peter 1:16-18

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

 

Wouldn't it be nice to have a friend who is all powerful, all knowing and who is always available? Wouldn't it be nice if this friend thought you were special and always made you feel worthwhile and loved? Well, the Lord Jesus is a friend like that and while many today would like to believe that He is just a make-believe friend for people who need a crutch to get through life, Peter tell us that He is real. Peter assures us that He saw Him on the mountain of transfiguration. He saw the Lord talk to Moses and Elijah, and he got a glimpse of His glory as he saw His face shine and his clothes glow.

Peter spent time with the Lord. He was part of the Lord's inner circle of confidants. John also was one who had seen the Lord, who had heard the Lord, and who had touched the Lord. The Lord was a real person with whom the disciples spent time. And they came to the conclusion that He was the "Word of Life" in 1 John 1. Peter says he is The Christ in Matthew 16:16. He was not a figment of their imagination. He convinced the disciples that He was the Son of God who fulfilled the prophetic Scriptures concerning the Messiah Who was also to be our Savior.

This Book is a miracle of miracles. Written by many different authors who in many cases never knew each other and often lived at different times, this Book has a common theme. That theme is Christ. This Book has an object lesson to prove that God is on the throne and that He knows what is happening. That object lesson is the nation of Israel. What God predicted for them if they rebelled against Him has come to pass. Today they are still rebellious children who are trying to "make things happen" on their own (Isaiah 1:2). They are presently a picture of people who walk by reason and in their own strength rather than by faith in the Living God.

Some educated people believe that this Book is out of date and a collection of mythical stories. They say this Book is not relevant to our present culture. We are given the impression that Christians are the cause of this world's problems. Yet Christians are not the cause of our drug and alcohol problems. Christians are generally not the ones who murder their neighbors. Christians are generally willing to pay their taxes and submit to the oder and authority of government. Christians have generally been hard working loyal people who have made society better, not worse. Yes, some so-called Christians have been tyrants and intolerant but that is not the type of person that Christ would call one of his followers.

I am confident in the testimony of Peter who says that we who trust in the Lord Jesus are not following cunningly devised fables. I personally would not want to bet against the message of this Book when there is such ample testimony that the God of this Bible is real, that the Lord Jesus Christ is coming again, and that his next coming will be to judge rather than to save after protecting and removing His own from this world where they are are no longer welcome.

The Bible is Truth. It is not a cunningly devised imaginative story. The people who are arguing against the veracity and authority of the Bible are the ones who are dreaming. One day they are going to wake up and face the Lord Jesus, but they will have to face the real Lord Jesus as a judge rather than as a Savior. Those of us who have trusted Him will meet the One who was always there when we needed Him.

Meditation for the week of January 28, 2007