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January 2009

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Coming Wrath

 

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,

Revelation 6:17 "For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"

 

The Bible is a book of contrasts. There is light and dark. There is the saved and the lost. There is good and evil. There are believers and unbelievers. There is heaven and there is eternal conscious punishment in hell and the lake of fire. There is grace and there is wrath.

We live in the day of grace but we are seeing the world in chaos. This last year we had devastating tornadoes and floods. We had hurricanes. We have had an economic meltdown. We have terrorism and wars all over the whole world. And Just now, at the end of this year, the Israelites and the Palestinians are at war once again. Is this the "great day of God's wrath?" Has it come?

I personally believe we are seeing things like the the things that will happen when the great day of God's wrath is come, but I don't think we are quite there yet. But if the present conditions are so frightful, what will it be like when God does pour out His wrath on those that have rejected Him?

We would like to believe that God always acts in a gracious manner. We know that grace has been evident in his dealings with mankind since he created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden. He was gracious to the nation of Israel in leading them out of Egypt and into the promised land. He was gracious to David when he sinned with Bathsheba. But His real grace was shown when He sent His Son into the world to die on an old rugged cross. That grace is known throughout much of the whole world. God's desire is to save and not to destroy. He says that He did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:18).

However, wrath is coming. No one likes to be around people who are filled with wrath. Many people lose control when they get angry, but God does not. However, His wrath will be terrible just the same. Even John the Baptist said, "His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:12." So another contrast has to do with wheat and chaff. The chaff which represents that which is of no value to God is burned up in a fire that is not quenched.

The Bible says that we should fear God, and normally we think of that fear as reverence. But certainly when we realize that God destroyed the earth with a flood and promises one day to destroy that which He created with fire, there is reason to fear God in the sense of fear and trembling. While the great day of God's wrath is not here, yet; it is certainly coming.

I find it interesting that the two nations that seem to be mentioned most in the Bible are now being constantly mentioned in the news. Those two nations are Iraq or Babylon and Israel. It is also interesting that when the Lord comes, every eye shall see Him (Revelation 1:7). At one time that would have taken a miracle, but today we have the electronic means for that to happen without any great unusual miracle occurring. We used to wonder how anyone could give us a mark that would be used to buy or sell as we read in Revelation 13:17. Now we know that the technology is there to use electronic chips and to place them in the hand or forehead. They could be read at the cash register in much the same way that our current credit cards are read. We now have the means to destroy people in war in some of the ways that are described in the book of the Revelation. Certainly the stage has been set for the great day of God's wrath to be ushered in.

God's grace is beautiful. It has appeared in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord wants us to enjoy salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus. In contrast, God's wrath is terrible. I am glad that we can be delivered from it (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

 

Meditation for the week of January 4, 2009

The Golden Rule

 

Matthew 7:12

"Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets."

 

The world would be a lovely place if we all practiced the Golden Rule. Rather we tend to practice its perversion which says, "Do unto others before they do unto you." Or sometimes we practice another revision which says, "Do unto others whatever they do unto you." Instead of turning the other cheek, we take karate lessons and boxing lessons. We keep guns in our houses and in some cases in holsters or purses so that nobody will ever want to take advantage of us. Nationally we meet force with force, and while we may win the battle for control of the real estate, we certainly lose the battle for the hearts of men.

We know that heaven in not entered by the good that we do. The reason for that is that none of us has done good as for as God is concerned. See Romans 3:12. Since our natures are not Godlike, we are more likely to do bad than good. A child does not have to be taught how to be bad, but we do teach children how to be good. Even people who are really quite good have done some bad. We need a new nature to have the power to even want to carry out this command.

Doing unto others what we want others to do unto us is probably the narrow door of the next two verses. It just isn't easy to be like God when we live in a world of sin and hate. The desire to be loving and to treat others the way we want to be treated is not natural. It is not the way we are raised. We are told that if we don't look out for number one, no one else will. We certainly don't want to be considered weak in a dog eat dog world. So we learn to take and not give. We learn to fight for our rights if anyone in any way threatens them. That is why we must be born again to enter God's heaven.

If we are going treat others the way we want them to treat us, we are going to have to have empathy. We need to be able to understand another person's situation, feelings, and motives. Some would say we have to walk in their shoes in order to properly understand them. Then we are also going to need sympathy when people run into trouble, even if that trouble is of their own making. The only person I know that has really exhibited empathy and sympathy for those who didn't deserve His consideration, was the Lord himself. Instead of destroying a world who wanted to destroy Him, he literally turned the other cheek and went the second mile. He bore our sins in His own body on the cross. He didn't assign blame for bad decisions, He just came to where we were and met our need. I realize that He died for acting in a loving, kind, and gracious way, but that is why we who have made many bad decisions love Him. He hasn't rejected us just because we have failed over and over again.

In our present economy, there are going to be many bankruptcies. What would have been good decisions if the economy had continued growing have turned out to be bad decisions in many cases. It is fairly easy with the benefit of hindsight for us to say now that those who are overextended financially should have known that this could happen and for us to be critical of them. But I think most people who won't be able to make ends meet will need to have their debts forgiven, and then they will need to find empathy and sympathy from those of us who are still solvent.

There are two reasons why we need to be forgiving and not critical. One is that the Lord tells us that this is the standard by which we should live. And the other is that before this economic meltdown runs its course, we may all be begging for the means to feed out families and to keep roofs over our heads. The Bible says famine is coming. The signs of the times say famine could be closer than we think. We certainly don't want to set a standard for others that comes back and bites us before the Lord comes and straightens this whole mess out.

"Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets."

 

Meditation for the week of January 11, 2009

Blaspheming God (Speaking Irreverently about Him)

 

Revelation 16:21

And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.

 

Armageddon is a term that inspires fear and awe in people. If you want to sell a book, make sure it has Armageddon someplace in its name. Armageddon is the last great battle between good and evil. The first Beast of Revelation 13 likely leads the charge of those who are against Israel. According to Zechariah 12:3, ultimately all other nations will be gathered against Jerusalem. Whether this is a part of the battle of Armageddon or subsequent to it is hard to know. At some point, if the Unites States still exists, it will have turned its back on the nation of Israel and will be fighting against it.

This battle will be the culmination of all the judgments of the tribulation period. We know that all those going into the tribulation period will be unbelievers since the believers will be caught up to be with the Lord and to be spared from this day of God's wrath. I personally believe that anyone who has not rejected the sacrifice of Christ at the cross will be safe even though they are not saved. They also will go to be with the Lord. That will leave those who could have been saved but who have rejected the Lord to be deceived by the great deception that will take place at that time. They didn't believe the truth so they will believe the Liar (2 Thessalonians 2:11).

This period of time will involve natural disasters, chemical and biological warfare, as well as nuclear warfare. Every instrument of death that man has ever invented will be unleashed in that day. But God is also going to unleash the weapons of his arsenal. I believe that Israel would lose this last great battle if they were left to themselves. But the Lord will come on the white horse (Revelation 19) and the remnant of Israel will turn to the Lord in true repentance saying, "Why He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, with His stripes we are healed (Isiah 53:5)." The Lord will then save them physically for His kingdom and He will destroy those trying to destroy them. One of the means that He uses is 100 pound hailstones.

In the past, when natural disasters occurred or if we got sick or if the economy failed, we all asked if God was judging us and we confessed our sins and in many cases came to trust in the Lord for salvation. But this time it will not work that way. Apart from the nation of Israel, people will blaspheme God. They will not question the reality of God or His judgment, they just won't submit to Him. They will be like Pharaoh who knew not the Lord (Exodus 5:2) and whose heart was hardened every time the Lord showed His power in the plagues that were poured out on Egypt.

I have noticed that in our present day there are many people like this. They are people who realize that God is speaking to them and even judging them, but they don't care. They shake their fist in face of God and blame Him for judging them for living a life that denies the Lord who died to save them. I don't understand this logic, but it is going to be the thinking of many in the coming tribulation period and it is the thinking of many today.

Better thinking would be to recognize that God is in control and that He has the ability to save to the uttermost those who come to God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is one thing to believe that there is no God and to assume time and chance accounts for things that happen that are predicted in the Bible. But to blaspheme God when He is judging sin and sinful nations is absolutely unreasonable thinking. Why would anyone blaspheme God unless they were convinced He actually exists? And if He actually exists, do they think that they are going to be able to resist Him and get by with it?

God is always the final winner, and He always has the last word. We need to trust Him, not blaspheme Him.

 

Meditation for the week of January 18, 2009

Have Faith in God

 

Mark 11:22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

 

We recently took a real vacation where we had to fly a real airplane to a real cruise ship that took us to several spots in the Caribbean Sea. We had to trust a lot of people for that vacation to happen. We trusted my daughter when she said she had arranged the trip for us, that she was paying the bill and was going along to make sure we enjoyed ourselves. We had to trust my son-in-law to get us to the airport on time and that meant we had to trust his van to run in below zero weather. We had to trust the people who designed and built his van. We had to trust a flight crew to fly a plane to get to Miami which meant that we had to trust a plane with a lot of moving parts to be able to get about 150 people and their luggage airborne and to the Miami airport. We had to trust the people who designed the plane and the people who made it. When we got to the cruise ship, we had to trust the crew and the staff and the boat and all the people who designed and built and maintained that boat. When I got to thinking about the number of people and machines we were trusting, I began to think that maybe we should have stayed home. Most people cannot or will not follow directions and only one person would have had to foul up for our vacation to have been a bad experience instead of a good one. But we had a good experience.

if we can trust men and their machines when we know that men are prone to be undependable and when we know that machines tend to fail, why is it so hard to trust the designer of this universe who also designed the way of salvation after the man He had made failed? One day the Lord was in a boat and storm came up. The Lord was quite content to be sleeping in the back of the boat. The disciples were afraid the boat was going to sink so they woke up the Lord and asked Him if He didn't care that they were about to perish. He was the creator of the universe. He was destined to die on a cross, not by drowning in a boat. How could the boat possibly go down with Him in it? But they didn't have faith in Him and as a result they had a lot of anxiety that they didn't need to have (See Mark 4:37-41). Even those of us who say we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, have trouble trusting Him when the storms of life come.

When people build things, they usually write an owner's manual telling people who buy the product how to use it. Many people throw the owner's manual away and as a result they never do fully understand how the product works. Sometimes they have to assemble what they have bought and they wonder why they have screws left over when they are finished. Sometimes the product has features that are never used because the owner didn't read the instructions and sometimes people think the product is defective because they didn't do what the instructions said to do. But the designer should know best how to assemble and use the product and it is nice when the designer has made a manual available.

God left us a manual. It is called the Bible. When he got done with creation, it was very good. But men don't read the owner's manual and when things go wrong they blame God rather than themselves. Men have marred that which was very good because they have not been where they should be when they should be there, doing what God has asked them to do, because "they want to figure things out on their own." The problem isn't with God and His manual, the problem is with people who don't trust God enough to follow the instructions.

Trusting others is hard. We tend to think that we know what we are doing even when it is obvious that we don't know what we are dong. That is why we have to repent to believe or trust in Christ. Sometimes we act like the fellow who said, "Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up." However, God knows best how to save us and He knows best how to keep us. Wouldn't it be nice if we were smart enough to read the instructions and then to believe that He knows what He is doing and He knows how what He has created works best?

Trust lets us use what others have designed and made. We need to trust God since He knew what He was doing when He designed and made us.

 

Meditation for the week of January 25, 2009