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JULY 2016

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VIP'S

 

Hebrews 2:6-9

(6)  But one testified in a certain place, saying: "WHAT IS MAN THAT YOU ARE MINDFUL OF HIM, OR THE SON OF MAN THAT YOU TAKE CARE OF HIM?

(7)  YOU HAVE MADE HIM A LITTLE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS; YOU HAVE CROWNED HIM WITH GLORY AND HONOR, AND SET HIM OVER THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS.

(8)  YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET." For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.

(9)  But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.

 

What is Man?

Most of us think we are pretty important and pretty smart.  We are the center of our own universes.  It is hard to be realistic and realize that we are just specks in the universe that God has created.  It is difficult to realize that we live in a atom of time compared to eternity.  From the standpoint of God's creation, we don't amount to a whole lot.  Job finally figured that out when God started speaking to him at the end of his trial.  God began to ask him scientific questions about an infinite universe.  He realized that you don't have to understand God.  Instead, reason requires a person to just accept God.

 

There are those who seem to think that because we have unraveled some things about the creation of God, that we are smarter than God. Some go so far as to believe that no God was necessary at all for creation.   But that is like saying, that if I take my car apart and put it back together, that Kia Motors didn't design and build it.  It is one thing to understand something about things that others have created, but it is another thing to create those things yourself without being given the original pattern.

 

Considering the pride of man, one has to wonder why God puts up with us.  We kill one another.  We hate people who are different from us.  We think we are smart when we really don't have a clue.  So why is God “mindful” of us.   That is, why does He think about us.  Why does He take care of us?

 

I think it is because creating mankind was God's crowning act of His creation.  When He got done with creation, it was good.  When He finished up by making a woman, He said “it was VERY good.”  God is an artist and when an artist is done, He usually takes pride in His creation.  Each brush stroke in a painting, each chisel mark in a sculpture, each note in a symphony is precious to the creator.  We may be insignificant from the standpoint of the universe, but we are not insignificant from the standpoint of God.  He made us and He loves us.

 

Thou God Seest Me

In Genesis 16, Sarai, Abraham's wife, dealt harshly with Hagar who was her slave girl.  Hagar had been given to Abraham to produce a child.  When that child was conceived, Sarai, must have had second thoughts about the situation.  She began to abuse Hagar, and Hagar ran off into the wilderness.  But God found her there and sent her back to her mistress.  He had not forsaken her.  She was not just another dot in the universe.  Even though she was nothing as far as Sarai and society was concerned, God saw her.  She was part of His creation. She was not just a slave girl to be used and forgotten.

 

God Still See Us

I believe that we are all VIP's.  We may not be very important to one another but we are all Very Important To God.  That is why He sent His Son to be punished for our sins.  We may not think God cares, but He does.  We may not understand His plan of salvation, but He devised it because He saw it as the only way to be just and merciful at the same time.

 

I don't know why God loves us, but He does.  I don't know why sinful, prideful mankind usually rejects the creator God of the Bible, but they do.  But thank God, we are not insignificant as far as God is concerned.  He created us, He loves us.  Now He has come to seek us and save us. 

 

We may be nothing but a speck within a speck from the standpoint of the universe.  But this speck is a VIP and so are you.  Thank God.

 

 

Meditation for the weeks of July 3 and July10, 2016

Acceptable Thinking

 

Psalms 19:14  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

 

God has Spoken

David had a privilege many of us have not had.  He had an unobstructed view of the sky while keeping sheep.  It made Him realize that God is real and that He speaks in every culture and in every place around the globe.  Anyone who really studies the starry heavens and comes away thinking that this universe “just happened” has got to be the kind of person to whom I would love to sell the Brooklyn Bridge.

 

The stars are always where they should be when they should be there.  Their position can be determined with mathematical accuracy.  It certainly is not so with humans.  We make up our own minds as to where we should be and when we should be there.  Usually that means we are in the wrong place at the wrong time.  We are likely to be a half hour late as well.  Ever since Eve took the forbidden fruit in the garden, people have wanted to make their own decisions.  They have wanted to protect their own rights.  They have wanted to do things their way.  Where has all that gotten us?  It has gotten us to where we are today with people hating and killing people.  Most never realize that the only way to protect themselves is to quit thinking like a natural man and to be transformed so that we think and talk right.  Paul says in Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”   Only the regenerated mind of a Christian can think the way a person should think.  When we think right we will talk right. But many who call themselves Christians are still being influenced to believe that “God's way” does not work.  Only man's way will work.  So instead of dying to self, instead of humbling ourselves, instead of being vulnerable, we advocate guns and walls and wars to bring about peace in a world where man wants to do things His way and not the Lord's way.  We use the Bible to justify prejudice against those who do not look like us. We think wrong and we talk wrong because we are not transformed.  Instead we are being conformed (or molded) to the ideology and thinking of a fallen world or society.

 

How Can We think Right?

We have so many voices and experts who claim to know the Bible telling us how to think today that the Christian life becomes very confusing.  I decided years ago that I needed to know if the Bible could be understood in a simple way by a simple person.  I needed to know why there was so much disagreement and on what was “acceptable thinking” as far as God was concerned.  I have come to the conclusion that it is possible for the average person to know and understand the message of the Bible, and thus, to understand the God who created this universe.  Just as the stars are orderly, the Bible is orderly.  We must understand that God has worked in different ways throughout history.  However, His principles have never changed.  He is the Creator.  We are sinners and we think wrong when we are born the first time.  We need to be regenerated or born again in order to think right.  That was true in the times of the Old Testament and it is true in the times of the New.  However, most Christians have become so-called Christians through something that they are doing for God.  They may have gone through the right ceremonies or they may have joined the right political party or they may be doing all kinds of good deeds (and if they are, I thank the Lord for them).  But a regenerated Christian has found out that they often think wrong, that they generally speak wrong and that they often do wrong.  They have found out that God wants their trust and not their works and self-righteousness.  He wants them to realize that those who are born again are not doing something to please God but have accepted what Christ has done on their behalf.  Only then do they please God since without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).   The faith that is referred to in Hebrews is not the general faith that there is a God,  but personal faith in the Lord Jesus.  Only when we start thinking right about what makes a Christian will we start thinking right about how a Christian can please God. 

 

Down through the years, most religions including Christianity have tried to make converts by force.  It doesn't work.  It only causes resentment.  Many who call themselves Christians have quit trying to make converts and have just tried to force those who do not believe in the Lord, to act as though they do.  This also causes resentment.

 

Conclusion

The first murderer in the Bible asked God if he was his brother's keeper (Genesis 4:9).  He implied that he was not.  His thinking was wrong because we are our brother's keeper.  Our first responsibility as Christians to our brothers in the general sense is to make sure that everyone has heard the simple truth that Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6).  We need to make sure people realize that eternity is more important than time and that we aren't ready to live until we are ready to die.  We also need to help the poor and the hungry whether they believe as we do or not.   However, we tend to think that war and killing solves problems.  It doesn't and thinking it does is not acceptable thinking.  When we kill it just means that someone has been put in heaven or in hell for eternity.  And that action cannot be undone.   And that is simply not acceptable.

 

Meditation for the week of July 17, 2016

Jeremiah Had it Right

 

Jeremiah 17:5-10

(5)  Thus says the LORD: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD.

(6)  For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited.

(7)  "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD.

(8)  For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

 

No Man or Woman can Save us

In this political season, it is well to remember that if we put our hope in a man or a woman, we are going to be disappointed at best and destroyed at worst.  Politicians make promises that they cannot keep even if they wanted to, and many make promises that they don't intend to keep. 

 

But the real problem is that when we put our hope in man, Jeremiah says our hearts will depart from the Lord.  Why would that be?  I think it is because putting our trust in a man keeps us from really trusting in the Lord.  In addition we can get so caught up in the political circus that instead of being a holy people (that is, a people distinct from the world and set apart for the Lord's use and glory), we become like those who are heavily invested in political solutions to the problems of the world.  Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived: 'Evil company corrupts good habits.'”  I think Paul is saying we become like those with whom we keep company.  Obviously, politicians can have a great influence on our lives.  Most of them are not humble, and they are not truthful.  Many of them are rumor mongers, they are not swift to hear and slow to speak, and in many cases they are railers.   It is very possible that we will become like them if we find ourselves heavily invested in their campaigns.  One way we become like them is to pass along their disinformation as though we know it to be true without personally checking the facts ourselves.

 

The Lord Wants to Save us

The blessed person is the person who has trusted in the Lord.  He is like a tree planted by water whose roots are deep and whose fruit is delightful. We know that we all need the salvation that Paul preached in Acts 4:12 when he said, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."  Paul is referring to the salvation that we need as we prepare to meet God for eternity.  But there is also salvation needed at the present time from present problems. 

 

If we look to our politicians to meet those needs and to “save” us, we will be disappointed and our hearts will depart from the Lord.  We can also trust man by looking to ourselves to meet those needs and at some point we will realize that we are not sufficient for our problems.  No matter how rich we are, no matter how many friends we think we have, no matter how industrious we are, no matter how talented we are, at some point we will meet problems that we cannot solve.  Some of those problems will be age related, some will be health related, some of them will be related to mistakes we have made, but we will need to be “saved”.  I can testify by experience that the Lord is ready and able to save in times like that.  We just need to trust Him and not man.

 

The Lord may use politicians and He may use doctors and He may use friends.  But a blessed person has his trust in the Lord.  Everything may not work out the way we would like.  When we trust in the Lord, we may find that our plans are not the Lord's plans.   However, we will find out that the Lord does bless those who trust Him.

 

We are Different

According to Paul, Christians have their citizenship in heaven (Philippians 3:20).  We are sojourners and pilgrims according to Peter (see 1 Peter 2:11).  We are just passing through this world on our way to the home where we truly belong.  Let's don't allow ourselves to become like those whose only hope is in the blessings of this world and who put their trust in politicians to get things done.  I think some time praying would be a lot more effective in retarding the evil in this world and the evil in our own hearts than all the time we are encouraged to spend helping those who are anything but “Christ-like” to fix things for us.

 

This meditation is not an argument for or against voting, it is an argument about who we trust even if we do vote.  Just as we trust the Lord even when we go to doctors, we need to trust the Lord even when we vote.  When we start believing everything the politicians that we like tell us and when we start promoting them, we are on the wrong page Biblically.  We who are Christians are supposed to be praying for the Lord's will to be done and we should be promoting the Lord. 

 

Meditation for the week of July 24, 2016

Are there Few That Be Saved?

 

Luke 13:23-30 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them,  Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are.

 

The Instructions

I recently purchased a new coffee maker.  It came with instructions.  I tried to make the thing work without reading them, but I finally realized that the people who made the coffee maker probably knew best how to make the thing work.  So after pushing buttons with nothing happening, I read the instructions.  When I followed the directions, the thing worked fine.  Man was created by God and God has given us a set of instructions.  Those instructions are found in a book called the Bible.  I find it interesting that many people think that they can live life fine without following the instructions.  Many people even read the instructions and then find reasons to ignore them. 

 

I personally  believe in the God who has revealed Himself through creation, through our consciences, and through the Bible.  There are many reasons why I believe the Bible is God's instruction manual.  I will only mention three of those reasons here.  Number 1, the Bible describes our thinking and our heart and it describes it accurately. It says it is desperately wicked.  We do have good thoughts but we have a lot of bad ones.  Thank goodness not everyone can read our minds.   Number 2, the Bible has used the nation of Israel as an object lesson to show us His principles of righteousness and to show us that He keeps His promises.  Number 3, I believe the Bible because I want to.  Everyone believes in someone or something.  I have chosen to anchor my life in the Bible.

 

My Concern

I was raised reading the Bible but it didn't make sense to me until in 1963 when alone with God in my room, I realized that the Bible said that Christ had died for sinners and therefore he had died for me.   He had paid the price for my salvation at the cross years before.  I was waiting for God to save me and Christ had died to do that 2000 years before.  I trusted that truth and I trusted Christ that night. For the first time I had God's word for that fact that I was saved and I didn't need a man to tell me that.  That was a turning point in my life.  I had always believed in eternal life and in eternal damnation.  From that point on, I wanted to be used in the great work of helping others avoid eternal damnation and gain eternal life.  Many teach people how to live as Christians without teaching them how to become Christians.  I want to accurately tell people how to become Christians.  Eternity depends on being right on this great matter.

 

What Does the Instruction Book Say?

I have watched the current trends in evangelism, and I am greatly concerned that people are not reading the instruction manual.  There are those who say that God predetermines who will be saved.  These people are not properly interpreting the Bible.  They have not realized that God is omniscient (all knowing) and He knows who will trust Him before they do.  That doesn't mean that He causes them to trust Him.  They don't realize that there is a difference between God choosing the church to be His chosen people at the present time and Him choosing certain people to be part of His church.  They have not distinguished between God's choice of individuals for service and His choice for salvation.

 

There are people who believe that works or ceremonies make Christians when the Bible makes it clear that only personal faith in Christ makes a Christian.  Those who think that their infant baptisms, their sacraments, their church memberships and their good works will take them through that narrow door that allows them to ultimately enter the Father's house are going to be gravely mistaken. No man can do something to give another the assurance of salvation.

 

But what concerns me most, is the current trend for those who preach the Gospel to tell those who are really concerned about their eternal welfare to do something to be saved.  In one way or another they are telling people to depend on their praying or their deciding or their inviting the Lord into their lives rather than telling them to quit looking to themselves for salvation and to look to Christ. 

 

Let's Be Careful!

When people ask us how to believe, it is best to show them that truth of Scripture and ask them if those promises are true.  When they ask us if they are saved, it is best to ask them, “What does God say?”  Then show them Scriptural promises. When the evangelist gives the person assurance by telling them to do something instead of letting the Holy Spirit use the word of God to bring them to faith in what God has done for them, we are not following the instructions.   

 

Meditation for the week of  July 31, 2016

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