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JULY 2017

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Things that are not true in Scripture!

 

James 1:19  So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.

 

The Truth about Misconceptions

I am convinced that the Bible always tells us the truth.  But sometimes it tells us the truth about misconceptions and lies.  When we read the book of Job, the truth was that Job was a righteous man.  God said so.  But Job had three so-called friends who seemed confused at times, but they were very confident that Job had to have sinned for God to allow him to lose everything but his life.  He had lost his family, his possessions and his health.  That just didn't happen to a righteous man as far as Job's three friends were concerned.  One went so far as to charge Job with sins that he must have committed even though Job had not committed these sins.  Eliphaz the Temanite says, “Is not your wickedness great, and your iniquity without end? For you have taken pledges from your brother for no reason, and stripped the naked of their clothing. You have not given the weary water to drink, And you have withheld bread from the hungry. But the mighty man possessed the land, and the honorable man dwelt in it. You have sent widows away empty, And the strength of the fatherless was crushed (Job 22:5-9).”  He obviously did not consider Job to be mighty or honorable.  And yet he was.

 

Lessons for Me

We know that lying is not right.  Our assurance of salvation depends on the the truth that God does not lie.  But often we lie because we don't know the truth.  Sometimes we lie because of the way we have been raised or because we are repeating what someone we respect has said.  Job's three friends were miserable comforters (Job's words) but they thought they were trying to help him.  The unfortunate thing is that they simply didn't know God and they didn't know Job and they didn't know what they were talking about.  How often do we speak from what we think is wisdom when we don't really know what we are talking about?

 

I sit in cafes studying and often others are there carrying on conversations that are hard to ignore.  Often the conversations do not deal with ideas.  Often they deal with people that are not there.  I listen to people who feel that someone they know went to the wrong doctor or they didn't go to the doctor soon enough.  They often talk about how someone is being mistreated or they don't know how to handle their money.  In any case, they are talking about other people's problems without really knowing what they are talking about.  I have often said that if you want to know God's will for your life, ask someone.  They will be able to tell you since we tend to be so sure about other people's lives and failures.  However, if you ask them if they are sure that they know the will of God in their own lives, they will likely say that they are not sure.

 

We know that God sets standards of holiness and they should not be violated; however, when people have problems, how can we be so sure we know why they are having them?  Job's three friends sat with him for seven days without saying anything.  That may have been the wisest thing that they did.  God does not overlook sin, but when we do not know that a person has committed sin, why is it so easy to charge them with sin?  Of course, the Lord was charged with sinning by men who didn't care about truth.  But I suspect, Job's three friends did care about truth but they spoke based on preconceived assumptions when they should have been listening. What they were saying is what makes sense to most people. Job was supposedly suffering for some sin and if he would just confess and forsake it, God would bless him.  Unfortunately, they did not know that Job was suffering for righteousness as a testimony to Satan.

 

Swift to hear and Slow to Speak

So we should be swift to hear and slow to speak.  That way we wouldn't be miserable comforters and we might even be able to support one who is suffering for righteousness sake.  Of course, if as we listen, we do find out that there is a drug problem or alcohol problem that needs addressing, we should be honest and try to find a way to address the problem in a compassionate way. 

 

I am thinking that most of us are like Job's three friends.  We assume that we know when we don't have a clue.  That is why we must listen to the Holy Spirit before we are saved.  Most people think that being good will get them into heaven.  It won't because the law deals with the bad we do, not the good. Some think the Lord died for his own sin and not for the sin of the world.  Most Jews still think his tomb is empty because the disciples stole His body to perpetuate the myth that He was the Son of God.  We need to start listening because what we think is right in spiritual matters is usually wrong.  (See Isaiah 55:8-9). 

 

What lies have we told, what gossip have we spread that the Lord will truthfully record in his books as having been nothing but innuendo and lies?  I hope that the Lord helps me to do more listening and less speaking so that I can edify others, and so that I don't needlessly destroy them or their reputations.

 

 

Meditation for the week of July 2, 2017

What Should a New Christian Look Like?

 

Act 15:11  But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they."

 

The Problem

No matter where you go and whom you talk to, there is always an emphasis on something besides the grace of God when it comes to being a Christian.  We know that most of the teaching in church meetings has to do with what a Christian should do.  Normally the verse in Matthew 7:20  is quoted which says, "Therefore by their fruits you will know them."  We are told that we are not able to determine who is saved because only God knows the heart.  However, we can be fruit inspectors, which means that we can know who is saved by their fruits.  Of course that is a type of double-speak.  The first problem with that is that all of us have bad fruit in our lives (the result of our Adamic nature) and all Christians have good fruit in their lives (the result of the new nature received when we are born again).  The second problem with that interpretation is that the verse has to do with knowing false prophets, not with knowing who is saved and who is not. 

 

Now we know that a person who repents, brings forth fruits meet for or in keeping with repentance which is the change in mind necessary to have faith in Christ.  How much fruit isn't explained.  We know that a person who has faith has been created unto good works according to Ephesians 2.   Whether there are still some bad works is not stated in Ephesians 2 but practically speaking we know that there are. The end result of all of this is to convince Christians that they have to "measure up" in some way to the "good works" standards of those that they respect in order to "feel" accepted and saved.  Often we create doubts in the lives of those truly saved by our emphasis on "doing" since they are never sure if as a new believer their "doing" measures up. 

 

The Early Church

When we are first saved, we don't know everything but we do know that Christ died for us and we can say "I see, I see."  That is, "I understand, I understand."  But it doesn't take long before there are those who will say that if you are saved, "then here is what you should do."  In the early church, there was a belief on the part of Jews that Christianity was a sect of Judaism and that new Christians should act like Jews.  It was not.  It was a new thing.  There were now Jews, Gentiles, and the church of God (See 1 Corinthians 10:32).  Christians did not have to be practicing Jews nor should they be practicing Pagans which most Gentiles were in that day.

 

In our passage, the question of whether Christianity was a sect of Judaism was being addressed.  Peter was clear that Christianity did not require keeping the ceremonial law of the Jewish religion.  But then what was James doing when he laid out these four things that Christians could not do?  Was he not saying that salvation was "mostly" grace but there were some works involved in order to be saved?  I do not believe that is what he was saying.  I think Peter dealt with the Jewish problem and James dealt with the Pagan problem which was a major part of the culture in that day.  These four things were all associated with Pagan practices.  Peter said that Christianity was not a sect of Judaism and James said that grace did not give the license to sin that Paganism allowed in that day.

 

Today

Salvation is defined as a new birth.  It is described as being raised from the dead in John 5:24 and in Romans 6:5.  It is obtained through repentance in 2 Peter 3:9.  It is obtained by faith in John 3, Romans 3, and Ephesians 2 and throughout the book of Acts. But nothing besides faith in Christ is necessary to be saved.  And when we as Christians start adding conditions, we are sadly preaching another Gospel.  However, we need to distinguish between salvation, fellowship and service.  Of course, there are conditions to be met if we are going to be in fellowship one with another and if we are going to work together.  Separation from Judaism which includes seventh day worshippers and separation from the immorality of Paganism are two of those conditions. 

 

I thank God every day that it is by grace that I am saved through faith.  I thank God that when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ we are saved.  I am thankful that when I depend on Christ and not on works or on myself, I have peace that cannot be disturbed or taken away from me.  I hope everyone reading this has that peace as well 

 

Meditation for the week of July 9, 2017

Salvation

 

Romans 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power (like dynamite) of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

 

The definition of Salvation--Salvation is being saved or protected from harm or being saved or delivered from a dire situation. In religion, salvation is stated as the saving of the soul from sin and its consequences.  Sometimes salvation is a past deliverance from the consequences of sin, sometimes it is a present deliverance from the grip of sin, sometimes it is a future deliverance from a world of sin.  Salvation is not only seen as an event in the Bible that changes our destinies and our goals in life, but it is often seen as a person.  That person is the Lord Jesus Christ. 

 

Salvation is a MUST

Acts 4:12  Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

 

Salvation is By Grace through Faith

Ephesians 2:8  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.

 

Salvation is for Time and for Eternity

Hebrews 5:9  And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,

 

Romans 13:11  And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation (the Lord's coming) is nearer than when we first believed.

 

Titus 2:11-13  For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,  teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,  looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (our future).


Hebrews 9:26-28  He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.  And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,  so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation (future).

 

1 Peter 1:8-10  whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,   receiving the end of your faith--the salvation of your souls.  Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you,

 

The Great Provision and the Great Division
John 3:16-18  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

 

Passing from Death unto Life

John 5:24  "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

 

Changing Masters

Romans 6:17-18  But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin (Satan), yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness (Christ).

 

Conclusion

1 Timothy 1:15  This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

 

Those of us who believe the Bible know that we need to be saved.  We need to be sure that we are trusting in the Lord and that we don't just believe about the Lord.  Eternal destinies are at stake.

 

 

Meditation for the week of July 16, 2017

Confidence in the Lord in the Midst of Adversity

 

The sons of Eliab were Nemuel, Dathan, and Abiram. These are the Dathan and Abiram, representatives of the congregation, who contended against Moses and Aaron in the company of Korah, when they contended against the LORD; and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up together with Korah when that company died, when the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men; and they became a sign. Nevertheless the children of Korah did not die.

(Numbers 26:9-11)

 

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. A Song For Alamoth. God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah   (Psalms 46:1-3

 

Which Promises are Mine?

The Psalms seem to be the outpouring of the heart in worship and praise by King David and by others,  All of us seem to get encouragement from the Psalms.  I am never sure when I read the Psalms how many of the passages apply to the Lord, how many apply personally to the writer, how many apply to Israel as a nation, and how many can be applied to me personally.  There are a lot of promises that seem to be applicable to the writer and to Israel that do not seem to be our promises today.  For example, David says in Psalms 37:9,  “For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth.”  We know that in the long view this is true.  Evil doers will be cut off and will never enter the millennial kingdom.  But as a practical matter, those who do evil often prosper today and they seem to “inherit” the earth.  In the short run, in the world we live in day by day, this does not seem to be a comforting promise.  The wicked are those who hate God and whose lives prove it.  In the short run they run all over the righteous, but in the long run they end up being condemned.  The only protection that the righteous have from the wicked is the Lord, and yet today we see many who are martyred because of their faith.  Many new testament believers were also martyred because of their faith.  Was the Lord delivering them from those who were evil?  In the eternal sense, yes!  But in the practical short-run sense, the answer is no!  Even the Lord was delivered into the hands of evil men and only by death and the resurrection was he delivered from them. 

 

The Example of the Sons of Korah

The sections we are looking at in this meditation are remarkable, however.  The sons or children of Korah knew what it was to have the earth open up and swallow up their parents along with Dathan and Abiram and their families.    These all rebelled against the Lord in the wilderness and were immediately judged for it.  And now descendants of Korah are saying  that they will not fear though the earth be removed.  We don't know what great calamity or battle was was the cause of this Psalm.  But what we do know is that the sons of Korah had their confidence in the Lord.  The children of Korah had apparently stood against their parents and with the Lord in the initial rebellion.  Instead of being angry with the Lord for the destruction of their ancestors, the current generation of the children of Korah had confidence in the Lord during their current trial.  

 

The Lord is Good

Nahum reminds us that the LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him (Nahum 1:7).  Joshua reaffirms his trust in the Lord after years of serving Him when he says, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD (Joshua 24:15)."  Someone who writes anonymously in the book of Hebrews says,  “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).”

 

Apparently the sons of Korah found God to be faithful.  Have we found that to be true even when circumstances could cause us to doubt the Lord?  Years ago, the Lord brought me to an end of myself and I was able to trust the Lord for eternity.  Regardless of circumstances, I intend to continue trusting Him even if the earth be removed—even though I hope it isn't.

 

I am not sure if the sons of Korah trusted the Lord because of what happened when their ancestors rebelled against Moses and against God or if they trusted the Lord in spite of what happened.  But they did trust the Lord.  What an example for us today!

 

Meditation for the week of July 23, 2017

You Do Not Know!

 

Revelation 3:17 Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—

 

Blindness

Eyesight is a great blessing.  Being able to see the clouds, the rain, the rainbows, the stars and all of God's creation is exhilarating.  Being able to see friends and loved ones and to notice the changes in their facial expressions as they change moods is indeed precious.  Seeing your newborn children for the first time is a great privilege.  Seeing loved ones for the last time who have died is something most of us remember and treasure.  When we go on vacation, we always go to “see” something.  Being without eyesight would greatly hinder our enjoyment of the blessings of God in this life.

 

However, many people do not have the privilege of eyesight.  Some are born blind and they never got to see the things I have mentioned.  Some became blind through accidents or illness.  They did see but now they don't.  However, whether a person was born blind or became blind, one thing is certain.  Both know that they are blind.

 

Spiritual blindness often seems to be different.  When people are spiritually blind, they do not know what they are missing.  Usually, they don't even know that they are blind.

 

Why are We blind?

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 tells us, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,  whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”  Satan is the god of this world.  He is the one who has caused the blindness. When it comes to our relationship with the Lord, we are born blind and then Satan does his best to keep us blind.   Some people understand that they are blind and do seek the Lord because of it,  but many people who are spiritually blind do not know it.  In fact many of them think they are fairly intelligent when it comes to spiritual things. That is why the spiritually blind person who comes to faith in Christ often says, “I see, I see.”  Some say, “Why didn't I see that before.”  Others say, “Now I understand!.”  

 

The man who was born blind in John 9 is a picture of one who is born blind spiritually.   When the Lord opened his eyes, and he was challenged by the religious leaders as to who had opened his eyes he said, "Whether He (the Lord)  is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see (John 9:25)." 

 

John Newton considered his salvation to be an eye-opening experience.  He penned the words, “I once was blind, but now I see, was lost but now am found.”

 

What about the Church?

There are churches that goe through the motions of worshiping the Lord.  However, some of these churches do not know their true spiritual condition.  See Revelation 3: 14-22.  A church is supposed to be a temple or dwelling place for the Lord.  But the Laodicean church mentioned above has the Lord on the outside trying to get in.  There is no true fellowship with the Lord on the part of most in this church, but the Lord does say that if any individual will open to door to this church He will come in and have fellowship with that person.  But the sad thing about this church is that they do not know their true spiritual condition.  They do not know that they are blind.  They think that they see.  They do not know that they are poor.  They think they are rich.  Since they are naked and need to be clothed in white garments which would speak of the imputed righteousness of Christ, I suspect most in this church are not even saved.  This church is a congregation that is all about ME instead of all about HIM. 

 

What about Me?

I often ask myself if I am blind as to spiritual truth and just don't know it.  I could go through a laundry list of things that I once thought were basic Christian principles and beliefs that are no longer considered basic.  Is that because I have always been blind or is that because the church has become blind to basic Christian principles?   Blindness that we do not know about, is the worst kind of blindness.  I pray that the Lord spares me from this kind of blindness.

 

 

Meditation for the week of July 30, 2017