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JULY 2014

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We often don’t Have a Clue!

 

Job 12:2 “No doubt you are the people, And wisdom will die with you!

 

Life is full of Tragedy

Recently, life in our corner of the world has been filled with tragedy.  God has been good to us personally, but people that we know have experienced unusual accidents illnesses and sorrows   I have noticed that most Christians consider it their moral duty to figure out why God has caused or allowed these tragedies   Of course, normally Christians think it is because the people involved have “missed the mark” somewhere in their relationship with God.

 

Job’s Friends

Job had friends like that.  Job lost his family, his possessions and his health.  He had three friends that came to comfort him.  They sat for seven days and seven nights without saying a thing.  That was where their wisdom stopped because once they started telling Job why he was being afflicted, they proved that they didn’t have a clue.

 

I have always thought that if God is going to chastise or correct those who believe in Him, He needs to tell us why He is doing that or it won’t do any good.  Good parents usually tell their children what they have done wrong before they spank them—excuse me—that is old-fashioned.  However, not all chastisement is negative, that is, it is not always the result of doing something wrong.  Sometimes it is to make us better.  A good athlete is disciplined.  He works hard and we often hear the phrase, “no pain, no gain.”  The athlete who undergoes that kind of chastisement or discipline is not being punished, he is being trained to be better than others.  Chastisement is discipline and that discipline can be positive instead of negative.  Chastisement is not penal punishment in the New Testament.  Chastisement is for the believer while punishment, retribution and vengeance are going to be inflicted on unbelievers.  The believer's penal punishment has been born by Christ at the cross.

 

Job’s Self-Righteousness

Job’s problem was that he didn’t know why he was being “punished.”  Of course, he wasn't being punished.  He was being disciplined and the discipline was the result of being righteous.  But nobody told Job.  He was a testimony to Satan who didn’t understand a person like Job who would worship God when things were going well as well as when everything seemed to be falling apart.  Job said a lot of things that indicated he was pretty satisfied with himself and his first three “comforters” thought he was self-righteous.  But even he didn’t have a clue as to what was happening.

 

Elihu, the last man to “comfort” Job, seems to come out of nowhere.  But he is perplexed by one thing; and that was that Job justified himself rather than God (Job 32:2).  All four men say things that most of us have said in our counsel and some of us have said these things in our sermons.  But all five men were ignorant about what was going on—that included Job.  Usually that is the case with us.  We would be a lot wiser if we would sit with those who need comforting and if we would stay silent because only God knows the reasons why. 

 

Things that we Know For Certain

The older I get, the less I know for certain.  I wish I were still as smart as I was when I was 20 years old and had newly come to faith in the Lord.  Things were a lot simpler then.  But as I have gotten older, I realize that what we see is NOT always what we get.  The Lord does things we don’t understand and unless we have the insight of a Peter when Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit in  Acts 5, there might be wisdom in just keeping quiet and praying for those who are suffering.

 

We may not know for certain why some people go through deep waters, but I do know for certain that we are not ready to live until we are ready to die.  We are not ready to die until we have been reconciled to God by accepting the forgiveness of sins offered through the sacrifice of the Lord at the cross.  Then we need to have enough confidence in God to let God be God in any and all circumstances of life.

 

Meditation for the week of July 6, 2014

It Boggles my Mind!

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.

The Importance of Prayer

Prayer is an important subject. Whom we pray to indicates whom we trust and whom we worship. Prayer is a conversation with God. It can be supplication, intercession for others and praise. It can’t be properly done unless the supplicant believes that the God to whom he or she is praying is real. 

How then can we pray without ceasing? Does that mean that we pray every hour of every day? If that is the case, most of us fail. Or does it simply mean that we are to continue to pray for things that are on our hearts even when it seem like our prayers are not being answered? Would this mean that we continue to praise and worship God in prayer even when things in our lives seem to be going wrong? I would believe that praying without ceasing just means that we continue to pray and praise regardless of the lack of apparent answers or when God seems distant. And we continue to pray until the Lord gives us our answer and until He no longer seems distant.

 

Is Prayer Effective in Changing Things?

If God knows the end from the beginning, does prayer really change things? Can we change God’s mind or the course of events in our lives or in the lives of others? Since everyone is personally responsible before God for accepting or rejecting the Lord Jesus, can our prayers for the salvation of the unsaved be effective? Apparently we can change things and apparently we can be effective in praying for the unsaved or we wouldn’t be told to pray without ceasing. I believe that when we pray for the unsaved, at a minimum, we keep the Holy Spirit striving with them; and we keep the door of opportunity open for that person. 

One thing prayer will change is us. We wouldn’t pray at all if we didn’t have faith in the One to whom we were praying. But by praying, the Lord may show us that what we are desiring is not the best path and our faith in the Lord will be increased.

Sometimes, the Lord may wait for a while and then answer our prayers like the unjust judge did for the woman in Luke 18:1-6. She kept after the judge until she wearied him. He answered her prayer just because the woman was so persistent that he had to answer her in order to get some peace. But the answer to prayer will be an answer that shows us in a practical way that supplicating God works and it will increase our faith.

 

Conclusion

I personally have some things that I have been praying about for a long time. By faith, I am going to pray without ceasing, that is when I pray I am going to continue to pray about those things that have been on my heart. I don’t know if I will get the answers I want, but I do know that praying to the Living God of Heaven who tells me to pray without ceasing makes me feel empowered. It gives me hope. It relieves my burdens.

I am glad that I have confidence that the Lord does hear me when I pray. Think of it! There are multitudes on this earth praying about their needs. Why would the Lord listen to little old me. I don’t know, but I know He does. It boggles my mind!

Meditation for the week of July 14, 2014

Peter got it Right!

Matthew 16:13-16 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Who is really Wise?

Peter was considered to be uneducated and untrained, that is, he did not have an advanced degree and wasn’t considered to be qualified to teach by Jews that thought they were qualified. But he was wise enough to know Who the Lord Jesus really was while the educated wanted him to be crucified. They said He was an imposter. They thought that He claimed to be something that He was not.

The central issue of the Bible has to do with Who the Lord really is. If He is Who He claimed to be, we should believe Him and trust Him. If He is not Who He claimed to be, why would we believe anything that the Bible has to say about our eternal destinies?

Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?

That is the question and most people get it wrong. They say He is a good man, they say He is a good teacher and they say that He set a good example. But people by and large do not believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God. The disciples gave the common answers of their day, and then the Lord comes back with this pointed important question. But who do you say that I am? That is a question that must be answered by each one of us. Peter gets it right and says, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God."

The fulfilled Old Testament prophecies prove this, the Lord’s miracles prove this, and the resurrection proves this. For Peter this was revealed to him. How do you suppose God revealed this truth to Peter? Perhaps it was revealed through his study of the Old Testament prophecies. Or this may have been a miraculous revelation of some nature as Peter did have visions from the Lord. However, I would suggest that Peter spent time with the Lord and saw the His miracles and heard His teaching. By getting to know the Lord and by being open to the truth, somehow God convinced Peter that the Lord was the promised Messiah. Each one of us who are born again must be convinced of that same thing or we have nothing to believe in and no one to trust. The Lord is not a good man and a good teacher and a good example if He claimed to be someone that He was not.

Peter was convinced, Are we?

Peter was convinced and his life and ministry proved that. I am convinced that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. I was convinced of that before I was saved. I was convinced of that by reading the Bible and by studying the nation of Israel. That gave me someone to trust when I came to the conclusion that I needed to be saved, that I wanted to be saved and that I wanted to be saved now.

I personally do not understand how some people are convinced that there is no Creator, instead they believe that this earth and all that lives on it just happened. In like manner, I cannot understand how people can explain away the claims of Christ and still claim to worship God. In addition, I do not see how anyone can trust the Lord and become a Christian unless they can personally answer like Peter, "Thou art THE Christ, THE Son of the Living God."

Meditation for the week of July 20, 2014

Is it Good Enough for You?
 
1 Timothy 2:4 (God our Savior) desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
 
Is it really true?
Many people say that they cannot believe the Bible and others say that they cannot believe God.  Why is it so hard to believe?  It is because we have to be convinced something is true before we can believe in it.   When I preach the Gospel, I emphasize that we don’t make the Gospel true by believing it.  We believe it when we are convinced it is true.  However, we do make it effective in our lives and in our relationship with God when we believe it.
 

A Simple but True Message
Recently, I taught a lesson to children using Acts 16:31, “So they said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.'”  I tried to help the children understand that believing on the Lord is not just believing about Him.  People can believe that there is a God in heaven; they can believe in the facts of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord; they can believe that there is a place called heaven where the saved are blessed eternally and a place of eternal conscious punishment for those who reject the Lord; but believing about those facts will never save them.  They must have complete confidence in the truth that this is God’s message and that in trusting the message they are saved eternally.  They cannot just believe about the Lord, they must trust the Lord when He says through Paul and Silas, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” 

 
Many people say they believe those things but they also say that no one can know for sure that they are saved until they die and meet God.  Their problem is that they believe about some of the Gospel facts but they don’t believe that trusting in the truth that Christ died for our sins will save and does save.  So I asked the children over and over again, “What is the answer to the question, ‘What must I do to be saved?’”  They would answer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”  I then asked them if that was true.  And of course in the class they responded as I wanted them to.  They said in unison, “Yes!”
 
I explained to the children that the message believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved was a message to the jailor who asked how to be saved and it was a message to his whole household.  He couldn’t trust in the Lord for his whole household but they had the privilege of believing the same message that he was hearing.  Interestingly, his whole household did hear the message and was convinced of the truth of the message that night.  They all believed and they openly confessed their faith by being baptized.  I believe that there was at least one child in my class who believed that the message to Paul was true that day when she heard this message.  She later told me that she was saved because the Bible said that if you believed on the Lord Jesus you were saved. 
 
Is the Truth of the Gospel really that Simple?
Paul and Silas’ answer to the jailor’s question, “What must I do to be saved?”, is a little too simple for most of us.  We have to add conditions and we have to add teaching from other passages to clarify what Paul meant.  But the jailor didn’t need all that.  He asked a simple question, “What must I do to be saved?”  He got a simple answer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”  That was truth he could depend on.  That is truth I am depending on.  If it was good enough for Paul and Silas who preached it, if it was good enough for the jailor and his household, it is good enough for me. 

 
Is it good enough for you?
 
Epilogue
Many preachers will tell you that you cannot know for sure that you are saved until after you die but when you go to the funerals they preach, it seems that then they always know that the person is in heaven.  When I preach a funeral, no matter how convinced I am that a person is in heaven, I remind my audience that this was settled before the person died.  I can’t put people in heaven.  But I do remind my audience that the person in the casket is in heaven only if they asked the question, “What must I do to be saved?”   And then they must have trusted in the truth of the answer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”

 

Meditation for the week of July 27, 2014