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to Archived Meditations
He was a Good Man
tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in
Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as
Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and
exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the
Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith:
and much people was added unto the Lord. (Acts 11:22-24 KJV)
Many men had a part in the
establishment of what we call Christianity today.
We know that there were twelve apostles of which one was a
traitor. Of the other
eleven, Peter, James and John seem to be prominent.
When we come to the Acts of the Apostles, we see Peter and Paul
taking the lead in spreading the Gospel.
Peter was used to convince the Jews that the Gospel was for the
Gentiles as well as for the Jews, but Paul was the instrument that God
used to spread the Gospel to the Gentiles (or non-Jews).
But one other man was prominent in the early church and that was
Barnabas. He was named Joses
and was surnamed Barnabas by the apostles. Barnabas means son of
consolation. See Acts 4:36.
As the son of consolation, he provided comfort and encouragement.
He refreshed the hearts of those around him.
seems to be born out in his life as he sold land that he had and gave
the money to the apostles to use as it was needed in the early New
Testament church. Obviously,
he was living out the principles found in the Sermon on Mount.
He was laying up his treasure in heaven rather than on this
He vouched for Paul when
Paul tried to join himself to the church at Jerusalem. (See Acts 9:27).
He sought for Paul who had gone to Tarsus because of persecution
and brought him to the Antioch church in Syria where he could be
publicly used of the Lord. Barnabas
went with Paul on a humanitarian journey that was designed to care for
the poor in Jerusalem and he went with Paul on his first missionary
journey. But Paul and Barnabas had a fight. And
it had to do with showing compassion to Mark who had turned back during
their first missionary journey. Barnabas, true to form as
an encourager, wanted Mark to go with them on their second missionary
journey. Paul didn't.
There are a lot of commentators who seem to know the reasoning
behind the disagreement but all we really
know is that Mark had
turned back the first time when he went with Paul and Barnabas.
Many commentators point out that the story from this point on
deals with Paul and not with Barnabas and so Barnabas must have been
wrong. They say he was
likely showing favoritism to Mark who may have been his nephew.
I think it was in God's
plan to use Paul without Barnabas for whatever
reason. But I personally
would rather be known as a Barnabas than as a Paul.
Barnabas had stood with Paul and helped him every step of the way
in his early ministry and in his first missionary journey.
What Christian would have trusted Paul at Jerusalem after he had
tried to destroy Christians if Barnabas hadn't stood by Him and
commended Him. Paul was
confrontational and “stood for the truth.”
Barnabas was a nice balance to Paul.
He tried to encourage those that others didn't trust.
I don't know who was right and who was wrong, but I would rather
be a Barnabas than a Paul. To
be perfectly honest however, I probably have played the role of Paul in
personal relationships more than I have played the role of Barnabas.
One reason I think that
Barnabas was probably right to encourage Mark in his service to the Lord
when Paul wouldn't is because Paul realizes that he needs him when he is
in prison in 2nd Timothy. In
2 Timothy 4:11 Paul tells Timothy, "Only Luke is with me.
Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the
ministry (2Timothy 4:11)." Apparently,
the relationship between Paul and Mark got patched up.
I wonder if Paul got his relationship with Barnabas patched up.
It seems to me that Paul could have deferred to Barnabas’
judgment in view of the encouragement he had been to Paul.
However, the dissension between the two was likely used of God to
spread the Gospel more widely. If
the early church had not been persecuted, the Christians would likely
have all stayed at Jerusalem rather than being scattered.
That scattering of the early Christians seems to have been the
cause of the Gospel spreading to new communities. Act 8:4 says,
“Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching
But I would still rather
be a son of consolation than a son of confrontation.
I would rather be a Barnabas than a Paul. .
for the week of July 1, 2018
You will show me the path of life; In Your
presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures
for ever More!
people look for pleasure, that is for things that make them feel good,
in different ways. Some seek
money, some seek honor, some seek power, some seek friends, and some
seek entertainment and sports.
And I am sure that there are other ways to find pleasure.
But when we think about pleasure that is available in this life,
it is always fleeting and temporary.
Even if some of the satisfaction that we get in life lasts for
quite some time as friendships and marriages should, yet they are still
“over” when we die. And
if the Lord prolongs His promised coming--die we must!
In 100 years everyone reading this will be dust.
Their lives will be over. The
pleasures they pursued will no longer be needed to satisfy.
Now even if there were no existence after death, that makes life
seem futile to me. The
writer of Ecclesiastes summed it all up by telling us that he had tried
everything and had learned everything and had possessed everything, but
all was vanity and chasing after the wind.
King Solomon who is the writer, even tried other gods and all
that did was make God mad and it caused the kingdom to be divided after
his death. But David who
wrote the sixteenth Psalm says that there is a place where there are
pleasures forevermore. This promised pleasure is not passing pleasure.
It is permanent pleasure.
Frustrations of this Life
one looks for joy or pleasure in drugs or alcohol or licentiousness
living, pretty soon the thing that brought joy or pleasure will bring
bondage. Joy is the inner
happiness or satisfaction that comes from things that we think will make
us happy in this life. Pleasure
can give us joy. The words
are closely related. I think
that in the passage we are studying, the two words may be saying the
same thing—they may be interchangeable.
I think the passage could just as easily read,
“In the Lord's presence is fullness of pleasure, at His right
hand is joy forevermore.”
Truth in this Psalm
uses this Psalm in Acts 2 to show that it applies to the resurrection of
the Lord. David wrote the
Psalm but David's body saw corruption.
The Lord's did not. The
path of life that is referred to in this Psalm seems to be a revived
life according to some dictionaries.
The Lord is now sitting at the Father's right hand according to
the writer of Hebrews, who says that in running the marathon of the
Christian life we should be, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our
faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross,
despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of
God (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV).” The
Lord then is enjoying the pleasure that comes with enduring the cross,
which was not pleasurable. He
was motivated by considering the joy at the end of his trial.
That joy involved being raised from the dead.
It involved the prospect of having a bride with Him in heaven.
we Apply the Psalm to those of us Who have been Redeemed?
Kind David wrote the Psalm
and a lot of it applied to Him. While
his body saw corruption, I have not doubt that He was looking forward to
a day when he would be raised from the dead. When David says, "For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,"
he likely was thinking of both himself and the Lord.
When he says, "Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see
corruption" he was definitely speaking prophetically of the Lord
only. The right hand is a
place of power but it is also a place of privilege and favor.
We who are saved today are going to have the privilege of being
the Lord's bride and we will enjoy the pleasure of the Lord's right hand
Hope, Blessing, Pleasure, and Joy
These words are all
associated with one whose sins are forgiven.
The believer's blessing is not necessarily found here in this
life. The writers of the New
Testament write to encourage those undergoing persecution. One of those
encouragements is the joy of knowing that we will enjoy the presence of
the Lord in eternity. I
realize that eternal life begins the moment we
believe on the Lord but that life has trials while we represent
Christ down here on this earth. But
eternal life is a not only a quality of life but a quantity of life and
it is a life of pleasure, hope, blessing and joy for all eternity.
If all we have to motivate us is the passing pleasures of this
life, if we don't really believe in the resurrection, if all is over and
done when we take our last breath, then truly life is meaningless.
We may control corporations, we may have been leaders of
countries, we may have amassed great wealth, but some day each of us is
going to die. Then what?
happiness is not found in this futile meaningless temporary existence.
True happiness is found at the Lord's right hand.
We who have been convicted of our sin and have trusted the Lord
for salvation will enjoy true happiness and
joy and pleasure that never ceases.
for the week of July 8, 2018
that are Self-Evident
has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by
the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by
raising Him from the dead." (Acts 17:29-31 NKJV)
that are not so Obvious
Our Declaration of
Independence has these words: "We hold these truths to be
self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of
later in that document native Indians are called merciless Indian
savages After the
constitution of the United States of America was adopted, the fourteenth
amendment had to be added which allowed all people born in the US to be
citizens of the US and the fifteenth amendment had to be added so that
all citizens could vote. I am not sure that in a practical way those who
signed the original constitution of the United States believed what they
had fought for in the Revolutionary War.
Supposedly all men were created equal but all men were not
treated as equals in the early years of the United States.
Obviously, those self-evident truths were not so self-evident.
Things that are Self-Evident
of us who think we have a handle on logical thinking would say that
spiritually there are some things that are just as self-evident.
The Declaration of Independence refers to a Creator.
He is not defined but His existence seems to be obvious.
I believe the things that God created and the principles of
science that seem to be so necessary for life, leave one with the
obvious conclusion that there is a God.
Cars don't “just happen.”
Buildings don't appear out of nowhere.
Highways have to be designed and constructed.
In the same way, this world with its myriad of living creatures
didn't just appear out of nowhere. There
had to be a designer and He had to be good at what He did.
To me this is self-evident.
there is a creator, then there has to be accountability to that Creator.
When we read the Old Testament, we get the impression that if we
do good (whatever that means) we will prosper.
If we are wicked we will not.
(see Psalm 1). However,
when we continue through the Psalms, we find out that often the wicked
prosper and the good do not. (See
Psalm 37 and Psalm 73). Job
suffered because he was righteous not because he was wicked.
And in the New Testament we are constantly reminded that in the
world we (who are true disciples) will have tribulation.
However we are told to be of good cheer, the Lord has gotten
victory over the society that had become so evil that it rejected the
Lord. (See John 16:33).
the first thing that is self-evident is the fact that there is a
creator. The next thing that
is not so self-evident is that God is a just and righteous judge.
Because of the suffering in the world and the prosperity of many
who are wicked many think that God is cruel.
However, I don't think God is cruel.
I think God loves His creation.
But I think it is self-evident that there is a real evil
spiritual adversary called the devil.
That there is evil in this world is self-evident.
Some of it is so bad that mankind could hardly be that bad on its
own. But the Lord tells the
religious rulers of his day that they were of their father the devil.
He says, “You are of your
father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was
a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because
there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own
resources, for he is a liar and the father of it (John 8:44 NKJV).
It is self-evident that more people believe the "liar"
than believe the "truth" in our day and many of them call
themselves Christians. They
are religious but they have never been "born from above."
other Thing that is Self-Evident
God who created us and who loves us whether we want to believe that or
not is also going to judge us. There
is going to be accountability. Paul
preached that accountability to the philosophers in Athens Greece.
I believe that many are denying self-evident truths because they
think God will overlook their sin They
think that when they die, they will not be held accountable.
That God will judge us righteously is not self-evident but I
believe that to be true by faith in the Lord's promises.
real problem with the Athenians had to do with worshiping man's
make-believe gods instead of the “unknown God” that had died for
their sins, had been buried and who was raised again the third day.
That “unknown God” did not come to condemn the world, but He
came that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17).
But the God of creation who has made Himself known in a personal
way through the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is going to judge
the world in righteousness. People
are going to be held accountable for their sin.
question was raised by Abraham in the Old Testament.
He said, “Will not the judge of all the earth do right (Genesis
18:25)?” For those of us
who have confessed our sin and turned to the Lord for salvation, the
punishment of our sin has been
born by the Lord at the cross. For
those who reject that sacrifice, it seems self-evident to me that to be
righteous, the Lord will have to judge the Christ rejecter for his or
her own sins. To do
otherwise would not respect the terrible sacrifice and suffering of the
Lord on the cross.
is self-evident that we have a creator.
It is self-evident that we are sinners and that there is evil in
the world. It may not be so
self-evident that God loves us but He does.
Now the question is, how will we be judged when we meet God?
Will our sins be forgiven because of the death of Christ or will
we have to suffer for our own sins for eternity?
for the week of July 15, 2018
I answered, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said to me, 'I am Jesus of
Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.' (Acts 22:8 NKJV)
In Acts 9, Paul's
abrupt meeting with the Lord is recorded for the first time and we read
these words “I am Jesus.” In
Acts 22:8 above we read about Paul telling this story to the Jews in
Jerusalem and again we read those words, “I am Jesus.”
In Acts 26:15, Paul tells how he met the Lord to King Agrippa.
Again he says that the Lord told him, I am Jesus.”
The Lord introduced himself to a man whose conscience had begun
bothering him. He was
persecuting a group of people who were worshiping a man he thought was
an impostor. Yet while he
was being violent and trying to destroy those who were of “this
way,” they were willing laying down their lives for their savior; and,
in Stephen's case, he prayed for his persecutors.
Paul had hatred in his heart, these people had love.
Paul was being violent, these people were praying for those who
hated them. And now the Lord
reveals himself to Paul and says, “I am Jesus.”
A Complete Change of
Paul was saved by
grace and he makes that clear in his writings.
But he was also changed completely by what he witnessed when he
heard those words, “I am Jesus.”
Paul was an example of one who was convicted of His sin (in this
case the sin of rejecting the truth that Jesus is and was the Messiah),
and then he trusted the Lord who was introducing Himself in an
unmistakable way to Paul. This
changed Paul's mind. This
changed His life. The person
who claims to have met the Lord and who does not have it affect his
life, is a person that probably never really met the Lord.
When Paul asked the Lord to tell him what he
wanted him to do, the Lord told him to go into the city and it would be
told him what he should do. You
will notice that the Lord did tell him what to do.
He was to go into the city for further instructions.
We often want to know all that the Lord is going to ask us to do
and we are not willing to just take His instructions one step at a time.
When Paul went into the city, Ananias
told him that he was going to be a special vessel used of the
Lord to spread the Gospel to all men, not just to Jews.
But first he needed to be baptized (or immersed) to wash away his
sins. What did Ananias mean?
Surely, he was not saved by being baptized.
Paul in his writings makes it clear that we are saved by grace
through faith in the Lord. We
are not saved by ceremonies or by works.
But Paul had publicly sinned by committing Christians to prison
and to death. Now he needed
to publicly “wash away” those sins, that is he needed to publicly
turn his back on what he once believed and did.
This was the first step in publicly identifying with his new
master that he had called Lord on the Damascus Road. This washing had to
do with his public testimony, not with his eternal destiny.
He got baptized because He was saved.
He didn't get baptized in order to be saved.
all Need an Introduction
Paul was introduced
to the Lord by the Lord Himself. Some
of us are introduced to the Lord by others.
But ultimately we have to meet him and hear his voice for
ourselves. We won't hear it
on the Damascus Road. We
will hear it as we read the Word of God.
Meeting the Lord in a personal way is a great experience.
Many people say that they know the Lord but they don't ever
remember meeting Him. I
remember the night that I was trying to figure out how to be saved and,
through the words of a tract, I found out that I was waiting for God to
save me when He had already sent His Son to the cross to do that.
I immediately realized that I had God's word for the fact that
Christ had died for me and that I was saved.
Yes, I had believed all about that before, but that night I met
the Lord and trusted Him. I
still have his word for the fact that I am saved
I met the Savior that night in a much less dramatic fashion that
Paul did. But I can relate
to what it meant to him to hear those words, “I am Jesus.”
There is a song that
I love that goes something like this:
I could only tell Him as I know Him,
My Redeemer who has brightened all my way,
If I could tell how precious is His presence
I am sure that you would make Him yours today.
I can never tell Him as I know Him,
Human tongue can never tell all love divine;
I only can entreat you to accept Him;
You can know Him only when you make Him thine.
for the week of July 22, 2018
"WILL RENDER TO EACH ONE ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS": eternal life
to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor,
and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the
truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and
anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also
of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is
good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality
with God. (Romans 2:6-11
the book of Romans, Paul is explaining the doctrines of the Gospel to
Saints. Saints are those who
have been saved by faith in the Lord Jesus.
They are not some special class of believers.
All who are beloved of God are Saints.
They are saved. They
are born again. The theme of
the epistle is found in the first chapter.
Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for
it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the
Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is
revealed from faith to faith (from the faith of the Jew to the faith of
the Greek or gentile); as it is written, "THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY
FAITH. (Romans 1:16-17 NKJV).” However,
our verses above seem to imply that
salvation is by good works.
often say that there are three principles needed for Biblical
principles are (1) context and (2) context and (3) context.
We must look at the context of the chapter, the context of the
book and the context of the Bible. Any
interpretation that seems to contradict the simple truth of
John 3:16 is a wrong interpretation.
We always let the simple or really clear Scriptures explain the
difficult ones. In this case
the context of the chapter and of the book and of the whole Bible
teaches that salvation is by faith in the Lord.
The just (or those who have been declared righteous) live by
faith. The gospel is the
power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.
So then what is meant by the statement that eternal life is
obtained by those who patiently continue in well-doing?
the Gospel is often presented as a “better way of life.”
It is presented as a simple decision.
It is presented as a prayer.
But the Gospel in Romans is presented as a turn from the
wickedness that results when societies turn away from worshiping the God
of creation. In Romans the
wickedness of sin is presented and Romans 3 says that we are all
“guilty,” even those of us who perhaps have not sinned as described
in the chapter because of the way we were raised.
However, I suspect that each of us would have to admit that in
our hearts we wanted to do some of the things described in chapter 1 but
we weren't given the opportunity.
When we are saved or when we become believers we are declared
righteous, and we are also
people with a new master. Romans
6 says we are no longer slaves to sin (or Satan) but now we are slaves
to righteousness (or Christ). So
before we are saved, there should be conviction of sin—even with
regard to the sins that we did not commit but would have if we had been
provided the opportunity. People
should feel guilty about that sin. And
when they trust Christ they should have the burden of sin “roll
away.” The verses we are
quoting above are not the means of salvation but the result of
salvation. And for those who
do not continue in well-doing, Paul would seem to imply that they are
not believers at all. I
personally do not think he is saying that believers never sin, but I do
think he is saying that a believer should have a conscience about sin.
And while God can see the heart and He knows whether a person
really loves Him or whether He is a pretender, He always judges
objectively by what can be seen in a person's life.
So as a general principle, a person who is saved should patiently
continue in well-doing.
of us know of people who claim to be saved who do not show that in their
lives—at least as far as we are concerned.
We often say that by their “fruits” we should know them. So
can people that do not continue in well-doing be saved?
We know that all of us sin at times and need to confess that
weakness. We know that
judgmental Christians can always find fault in others.
But I do believe that this verse teaches that there needs to be a
change (that is, a conversion) when people trust the Savior.
We are not saved by continuance in well-doing, but because we are
saved there should be a continuance in well-doing.
It is more important that we please God on this issue than that
we please our fellow Christians. So
are we continuing in well-doing as a result of finding out that Christ
died for our sins? Has there
been a new desire to please the Lord?
Are we really the Saints or holy ones like Paul is addressing in
as a point aside, it appears to me that Paul thought explaining the
Gospel to Saints was appropriate and necessary and I suspect that it
equipped them to both preach the gospel and to evangelize.
Some unsaved friends and relatives likely also heard the Gospel
as this letter was read and studied by the Romans.
for the weeks of July 29 and August 5, 2018