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to Archived Meditations
is Paradise Like?
23:43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you
will be with Me in Paradise."
is paradise and what is it like? Webster's dictionary says that paradise
is the Garden of Eden in which Adam and Eve were placed immediately
after their creation. Another of the Webster's definitions calls it a
place of bliss; a region of supreme felicity or delight. Apparently, it
is a Persian word having to do with delightful gardens.
the United States won its freedom from the British Empire, I am sure
that at first our country seemed like paradise. There were a lot of
freedoms, the tax burden was greatly reduced and it seemed as though
hard work and moving west provided great economic opportunities for many
people. However, the Unites States was never paradise. We had slavery,
there was ethnic pride and prejudice, capitalism with its excesses made
virtual slaves out of many employees. If the legends of the "old
west" are at all accurate, many people "did that which was
right in their own eyes" and to an extent anarchy prevailed in many
places. Most Indians who had lived here before the country was populated
by Europeans certainly didn't understand the new European culture and
they lost their way of life. They obviously would not have considered
this new republic to be paradise.
the Garden of Eden represents paradise, then paradise must be a place
with good company because they talked with God there. It must have had
good food since they could eat of the trees in the garden with one
exception. It must have been a beautiful place and the temperature must
have been very moderate since Adam and Eve didn't seen to need our kind
of clothes even though they may have been clothed with light before
eating of the forbidden fruit. Adam was responsible to "dress and
keep" the garden, so he had responsibilities. Obviously, there was
no sin in the Garden until Satan entered the picture and destroyed
heaven is generally thought of as paradise. The thief on the cross had
an eleventh hour conversion and was promised paradise with the Lord. I
don't know if we will need to eat there, but since the Lord ate after
the resurrection (Luke 24:43), I suspect that we can eat there and the
food will be delicious. I expect the temperature to be 72 degrees the
year around and the humidity to be low. There will be no sin, no
disease, no death, no lying or cheating or stealing. Best of all it will
be a place of love because the Lord will be there. Heaven will be a
place of good company, good food, and good things to see. It will be
everything we look for when we go on vacation. The government will not
be by the people, of the people and for the people, but instead we will
have a benevolent dictator ruling paradise. His name is Jesus.
Unites States is the best place in the present world to live, but it is
no paradise. Representative government is abused by those with money.
The law isn't always applied fairly to all. Taxes have become
burdensome. Our land is filled with violence and with drugs and with a
lack of reverence for God. But there will be a future paradise. The
paradise lost because of sin is going to be regained because of Calvary.
Not every one will be there, however. Only those who would enjoy the
company of the Lord and of Christians and of a sinless society will be
there. And, truthfully, many people do not want to be in a place like
that. It will take a new nature and a new birth to enjoy this new
paradise. I have to admit that I don't want to go there today, but I am
looking forward to living in this paradise. The real attraction is going
to be the benevolent dictator who loved us enough to die for us at
for the week of July 5, 2009
Does Life Seem Unfair at Times?
37:3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His
37:4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the
desires of your heart.
Psalm and Psalm 73 both deal with the question of why the righteous seem
to have it so bad and the wicked seem to have it so good. The righteous
are those who trust in the Lord and do good. The wicked are those who
prosper by doing wrong. The wicked man does not see that he is
accountable to God and disdains Him (see Psalm 10:13). However, the
Psalmist in both cases realizes that at least in the short-run the
wicked SEEM to be better off than the righteous.
a righteous God bless the good people and punish the bad people? Job's
three friends assumed that is the way God works. However, Job who is
righteous, suffers. So the book of Job raises the question, "Why do
the good suffer while the rest get by with murder?" Job lost his
wealth, his family and his health and it was not because he had sinned.
God made it quite clear that he had not. But his three friends all
assumed that he had because they thought Job was being punished and that
God would not punish the innocent. They thought that Job just needed to
confess what he had done and God would again bless him.
Luke 16 there is a rich man who had it all his own way—until he died.
There was also a beggar who had nothing in this life—until he died.
Then he was carried by the angels into a place of bliss. What was the
difference? The passage does not tell us but the rest of the Bible does.
The rich man forgot about God in this life and the beggar trusted Him.
Psalm 37:25 David says that he had never seen the righteous forsaken or
his children begging food. I believe we can count on the Lord to take
care of our basic needs just as he tells us in the sermon on the mount.
If he takes care of sparrows, will he not take car of His own? But
nowhere are we told that life always goes well for the righteous.
Lord Jesus was righteous. He was innocent of any wrong doing. He healed
the sick and raised the dead. He went about doing good. He even paid his
taxes without complaining, yet he died a death that was filled with
sorrow, reproach and pain. He died as a criminal. He is a case of the
righteous suffering while the wicked prosper. Barrabas was a robber and
a murderer and one who rebelled against authority. Yet he was released
and the Lord was crucified. Is that justice? Was that fair?
why do the righteous often suffer while the wicked seem to prosper? For
one thing the righteous have a conscience that the wicked do not have.
So they cannot do a lot of the things the wicked do.
also forget that the Lord likes to show the angels and Satan that there
are people who trust Him. It is easy to trust Him when we know what is
happening and when things are going well, but real trust is seen when we
are walking a path we didn't expect and experiencing a life that is not
in our comfort zone. Job was witnessing to Satan that not all people
worship God for what they can get out of it. Angels observe our meetings
according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:10 they need to see a people who
are trusting the Lord and who express it by their obedience even if they
don't fully understand why they are doing what they are asked to do.
both Psalms, when the short run view is taken, life seems unfair. When
the Psalmists let go and let God work out his long run plans, things
make sense. It is quite clear that those who turn their back on God will
suffer for it in eternity and in some cases they suffer for it now.
what does God want from us? He wants us to trust Him and do good even
when everyone else seems to be prospering from wicked schemes. We need
to realize that even if God's big plan doesn't seem to be working for us
we are to trust Him. We are to do what is right whether it seems to be
the right thing to do or not. God should be able to point to us just
like he did Job and He should be able to say, "See there is one who
will be trust me no matter what you do to him."
for the week of July 12, 2009
and Endurance, How much do I Have?
5:11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the
perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord--that the Lord
is very compassionate and merciful.
ability to patiently endure trials lasts about an hour. I hate to have
my teeth cleaned and I hate to have fillings placed in my teeth. But
when I know that I am going to have to go to the dentist, I just remind
myself that in an hour it will all be over and I will probably have
survived. I remind myself that other people go through the same thing,
and they have managed to survive somehow. I went to the dentist back in
the early 70's to have a wisdom tooth removed. My wife said that I
should go to the hospital and have it done but this fellow assured me
that he could take it out in the office. How bad could it be? In an hour
I figured the trial would all be over. However, when he started looking
for bigger crowbars and sent the next patient home, I knew I was in
trouble. He worked for two hours and left a root tip that had to be
extracted over 20 years later when it began to move, but I patiently
endured—for two hours.
is one thing to persevere when you know the trial is going to be short
and when you have a pretty good reason to believe that things are going
to change for the better when the trial is over. But Job didn't know how
long the trial was going to last and he didn't know why the trial had
come. He didn't know that he would be better off at the end of the trial
than he was at the beginning. Yet he patiently endured.
might ask, "How could losing his ten children and having them
replaced with ten more not seem like a great loss?" How could Job
be better off at the end of the trial than he was when it started? As
for everything else, the Lord said in Job 42:10, "And the LORD
restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD
gave Job twice as much as he had before." I believe that Job's
first ten children were all "saved" in the new testament sense
and went to be with the Lord when they died. Job didn't lose them since
he would see them again. So even with regard to the children, the Lord
gave Job twice as much. Yes, we do get glimpses of eternal blessing in
the old testament.
is one of the characteristics of a true Christian. Our faith endures and
produces patience even when it is tried (James 1:3). We not only worship
God when everything is going well, we worship Him when things are not
going well. The Lord was an example of patience and endurance when He
allowed Himself to become the sacrifice that satisfied God. He did not
revile when He was reviled, when He suffered He did not threaten (1
Peter 2:23). He didn't call the legions of angels that were at his
disposal and destroy the world.
am always afraid to ask God for patience or endurance because I am
always afraid he might answer my prayer and send me the calamities of
Job. His wife told him to curse God and die but He didn't (Job 2:9). His
friends only made him more miserable because they told him he had sinned
when he hadn't. Job did persevere until he again experienced the Lord's
compassion and mercy.
wonder how I would fare in similar circumstances. I pray that I don't
have to find out.
for the week of July 19, 2009
Is God concerned about the details?
Acts 20:27 For
I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
heard a preacher say that knowing Christ and the way of salvation is
important but the rest is just details. The implication was that the
details were not important. Other churches tell me that they preach the
basics but they don't bother with doctrine because that is divisive.
Others tell me that we should not major on the minors when it comes to
our relationship with one another in the church. I understand that we
all need to grow in our faith and in our relationship with God. At any
point in time we may not understand some of the details and some of the
doctrines that many consider to be the minors. However, if I understand
Paul right, He is saying that if something is important to the Lord, it
is important to him. He declared the whole counsel of God when he
Today most of
us believe that we ought to be obedient to God. However, how can we be
obedient if we don't know all the counsel of God? Many preachers and
churches have relegated many of the doctrines of the church to the
minors. Today churches are organizations and not organisms. Separation
from unbelievers when we worship is taught in the Scriptures but is not
practiced in the church. Keeping the Gospel free is not practiced. We
charge for many of the events where we preach the Gospel. The church
tells individuals and couples to live within their means and then the
church borrows money. Often people are not baptized and yet they
participate in church functions as though they had taken a public stand
for the Lord in baptism. Many churches do not consider the Scriptural
mode of baptism to be important. I could go on and on. But of course
most of these things have to do with the way we worship, not with moral
issues in our personal life. However, even with the moral issues, we
tend to pick and choose which doctrines are important. The whole counsel
of God requires a public promise and commitment to each other on the
part of couples that are living together for them to not be committing
immorality. Many of our churches are accepting couples that are living
together as long as they are faithful to each other within that
commitment even though they have never been married either legally or
scripturally. These same churches would not accept practicing
homosexuals. Yet both groups are committing immorality as far as God is
whole counsel of God is difficult. When I go to certain congregations,
in order to be invited back so that I can preach God's way of salvation
and so that I can help those who are young in Christ, I know better than
to teach certain issues. If asked about them privately, I will explain
what I believe the Scripture says. But while the Ephesians apparently
were open to whole counsel of God, many of our churches today are not. I
have asked the Lord how to handle this because I want to be faithful to
Him and useful to my fellow Christians, but I don't want to be an
autocratic dogmatic teacher. But when I see people less and less
interested in the whole counsel of God, I have to wonder what is wrong.
Perhaps the whole counsel of God needs to start with how to be saved.
Maybe regeneration is the problem. Since God does not think like we
think, the unsaved would surely not find "every word" of God
to be bread from heaven (Matthew 4:4). But to the saved, we should find
"every word" and every doctrine of Scripture to be important.
We may disagree on the interpretation and the application of some
passages of Scripture but we should never disagree on the fact that if
it is in the Bible, it is important to God. Therefore, it should be
important to us.
for the week of July 26, 2009