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JUNE 2006

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1 Kings 4:20 Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry.

1 Kings 10:8 Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.

 

Is happiness a choice or does it result from favorable conditions in our lives? Is happiness the purpose of life? These are questions I have asked myself because it feels good to be happy. Often we are happiest when those we are close to are happy.

Paul tells us that sometimes happiness is a choice. In Philippians 4:11, he says, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” So he had decided to be content which I assume means he decided to be happy in every situation and circumstance that the Lord allowed in his life.

Sometimes happiness is a condition. That was the situation with the people of Israel in the above passages after Solomon was established on the throne of Israel. The nation was at peace after many years of war. The people were at rest after many years of traveling and then of fighting. They were free from the tyranny of foreign rulers. They had a wise king. They had it made!

Most of us make decisions that we assume will make us happy. However, I am convinced that if we make right decisions we will end up being happy; but that if we make decisions based on our desire to be happy, we may end up very unhappy. I was recently asked if I was happy because of a major decision that I had made with regard to my service for the Lord. I have to admit that I wouldn’t have made the decision that I did if happiness had been the motivator. However, I can honestly say today that I am happy I made the decision even though I am not serving the Lord in the way that I once thought that I would be serving Him.

Some people reject God’s salvation because they think their friends and family will be unhappy with them if they truly trust the Lord. They think that will make them unhappy. However, I can assure you that the person who is happy is the person who has settled accounts with God and who knows that he has been righteously forgiven by God..

Some people pick their churches based on what will make them happy. They want the right circle of friends and they want the right programs. These things are all good unless the church is not faithful to the Word of God. We should pick our churches based on what pleases God and not us, and then when we realize that we have pleased God, we will be happy.

One of the happiest days in our lives is the day when we are born again or saved. Passing from death unto life should make anyone happy and that is just what happens when we believe that God sent His son to die in our place (John 5:24). Before we are saved, we are not physically dead but we are dead in trespasses and sins. Faith quickens us or gives us spiritual life. (See Ephesians 2: 1-8). When a person trusts the Lord, I like to sing:

Happy day! Happy day! When Jesus washed my sins away.

He taught me how to watch and pray and live rejoicing every day.

Happy day, Happy day! When Jesus washed my sins away!

The happiness that comes when we are first saved is the result of making right decisions. We obviously decided that eternity was more important than time, and that God was more important than friends and family. We decided that the Word of God could be trusted which enabled us to trust in the Lord. However, our happiness after we are saved is also a condition because now we are prepared for eternity and we have a wise King. We have it made! If you have never experienced this kind of happiness, it would be good to make it the purpose of your life.

 

Meditation for the week of June 4, 2006

John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled (or agitated): ye believe in God, believe also in me (or possibly, have faith in God, have faith also in me).

Luke 10:41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled (or disturbed) about many things:

 

In the United States today we live in one of the best countries at one of the best times in history. The average person has more wealth and a better home than many who were considered rich in other periods of history. However, many people seem agitated and disturbed and in many cases, they really don’t know why.

The disciples were disturbed in John 14 because the Lord was telling them things they couldn’t accept. He was giving them a last personal message and was preparing them for His crucifixion after having kept the Passover and eating the Lord’s Supper with them. But the disciples didn’t want the Lord to die, they wanted Him to reign. Because things weren’t working out the way they wanted, they were agitated. And the Lord’s message was trust me and you won’t be troubled.

Martha was disturbed in Luke 10 because she was working when she should have been listening. She wanted help being a good hostess; and Mary, her sister, was sitting at the Lord’s feet listening to Him. She was acting like what He had to say was important instead of helping her sister serve. Mary wanted to be with Him. Martha wanted to do for Him. Obviously, both woman loved the Lord. Both were trying to express it in their own way. But the Lord said that what Mary was doing was better than what Martha was doing. He would rather have us enjoying Him and His presence than having us disturbed because we have taken on serving responsibilities that rob us of our personal fellowship time with Him.

Some times we are disturbed because we know we are not right with God. This is called the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8). Most people I know that have come to know the Lord as their Savior can point to a time when they were “troubled”. David could say, “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul (Psalm 116:3-4).” We know that sin often causes us to be troubled and it is the Lord who gives us peace or rest with regard to that trouble. That is why His invitation is to come to Him if we are burdened and He will give us rest (Matthew 11:28).

So why are we so troubled, today? Most of us are concerned about the future and what it holds for our children. The Lord says, trust me and “let not your heart be troubled.” We wonder how we are going to pay our bills particularly if we get sick. Again, the Lord says, trust me and “let not your heart be troubled.” Some of us are working for the Lord when we should be listening to the Lord and enjoying His presence. Some of us are not right with God and we need to come to Him to get the rest that only He can give when we trust Him as the One who bore our sins in His own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24).

Some of us may need Prozac or some other medication because of the way we are made. I don’t think that should disturb us. We take Tylenol or Bayer aspirin for headaches. We take insulin for diabetes. Some of us need medication to balance the chemicals in our brains that cause us depression. But we all need to believe in or trust the Lord if we are going to have the kind of peace that we really need to get through this life. We need to know that our futures are secure, that there is a home prepared for us in heaven and that the Lord is going to come again to take us to be with Him. Trusting the Lord helps us get up in the morning saying, “Good morning, Lord!,” instead of getting up saying, “Good Lord, morning!” and wondering how we are going to get through another day.

Meditation for the week of June 11, 2006

Luke 22:19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

 

One of the most precious things we can do for the Lord is to participate in a communion service where the Lord is memorialized by our eating bread and drinking some wine. Some people think that this can be done individually and that the communion or participation is with the Lord alone. However, in the Bible, this is always done in a congregational setting. While Paul makes it clear that this should not be an actual meal, it is a symbolic meal that we eat together (see 1 Corinthians 11:33).

Christians have different ideas as to what the value of this symbolic meal is. Many think that the bread either becomes or is the actual body of the Lord, and that the wine either becomes or is the actual blood of the Lord. Others see the bread as symbolic of the Lord’s body and the cup as symbolic of the Lord’s blood. I have pondered this issue and feel that there is a good lesson in Bible interpretation here.

We often say that we read the Bible literally. However, that means that we understand any symbolism in the way that the writer intended. The Bible has a lot of poetic language. It uses similes (the man is like a lion) and it uses metaphors (the man is a lion). We can usually tell whether language is poetic by the context. So when we say that we read the Bible literally, we are really saying that we read the Bible trying to understand the literal message of the language which may in fact be symbolic.

When we look at the context of the Lord’s statement, “This is my body,” it could be argued that the bread is actually His body. That would make the bread sacred in some way and it would have value beyond just being a symbolic way of remembering the Lord. However, in the context, with the Lord sitting there in His body, it seems more reasonable that the bread symbolizes His body. Otherwise He would have had two bodies at the Last Supper. Then the bread does not become sacred in the sense that it puts away sin or makes us more holy than we were before we took it. There are some who think that we cannot be saved apart from taking communion. They believe that the bread and wine actually forgive sins. But the Bible makes it clear that we are forgiven because of the value of the actual blood of Christ when we believe in the Lord Himself who died to save us (See Acts 13:38-39). Ceremony cannot save us, only faith in Christ can save us. But the saved have ceremonies that express their worship after they are saved.

Some feel that John 6 requires us to literally eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Lord to be saved. They feel that taking the communion bread and wine does that if the bread and wine become the body and blood of the Lord. However, the communion service is not mentioned in John 6 starting at verse 47. The statement that is being explained is the statement that believing on the Lord gives us everlasting life. The Lord being bread is compared to the miracle of manna in the wilderness and not to the bread at the Lord’s Supper. So again, context would seem to indicate that we eat the Lord’s body and drink His blood when we trust in Him. That makes Him a part of us in a spiritual sense.

I personally feel the need to be at the Lord’s table partaking of the Lord’s supper as often as possible. I feel that should be a priority in our lives. A wise old preacher told me that he never knew if he held his meetings where the Lord wanted him to hold them or if he visited the people that the Lord wanted him to visit. But he said, “ I know I am in the will of the Lord when I am at His table remembering Him.” He knew that the bread and wine did not save but that they were for the saved. He knew that apart from this simple symbolic meal, we would lose our focus on the Lord and begin to focus on ourselves. We need to understand that this remembrance meal is important, but we also need to understand that it doesn’t save.

Meditation for the week of June 18, 2006

Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

 

You cannot spend time in the presence of the Lord Jesus without it being obvious. Spending time in His presence will provide knowledge that the schools of this world cannot give. It will make you bold when you share the Gospel. Others will notice.

These disciples had spent time with the Lord during His earthly ministry. That they knew Him as well as His teaching and mission was obvious. They were common men who had an uncommon understanding of spiritual issues and an uncommon ability to prove that they were preaching the very Word of God through the miracles that they performed. They undoubtedly had an air of authority about them that the religious leaders could not deny and certainly did not understand since they had not been with the Lord Jesus.

When Moses spent time in the presence of the preincarnate Lord in the old testament, it caused his face to shine.(Exodus 34:30). When the two disciples on the way to Emmaus met the Lord, it caused them spiritual heart burn. When the disciples saw the Lord in the upper room, it caused them to be glad. When John saw the Lord on the Isle of Patmos, he fell at his feet as dead. Psalm 116:11 tells us that in His presence is fullness of joy.

I suppose one of the most intimate ways to spend time with the Lord is in prayer. In Acts 10:9, Peter was praying while waiting for dinner when he fell into a trance. He was told not to call what God had cleansed unclean. As a result Peter was willing to preach the Gospel to a Roman soldier that the Jews considered unclean.

I believe that spending time with the Lord increases our IQ’s, makes us happy, gives direction to our lives and. in general, makes people wonder what is different about us. Some will think we have been drinking too much wine, while others will think we have become fanatics. All who do not know this experience will wonder what makes us tick. Some will be in awe of us and some will think we have lost our sense. But everyone will notice that something is different when we spend time with the Lord Jesus. Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys this experience who could be enjoying it.

We cannot follow the Lord like the twelve did since the Lord is now in heaven. But we can spend time with Him in prayer, and we can spend time with Him reading His Word. We can spend time with Him in congregational meetings where He is honored and His Word is preached and we pray together. One of those meetings should involve the Lord’s Supper where we remember Him and commune with Him. Being with the Lord Jesus is a privilege of the saved, since the unsaved are separated from Him by sin. God calls them dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). No matter how much a person might want to know the presence of the Lord, this sin issue has to be dealt with before communion with the Lord can be enjoyed. However, faith in the Lord Jesus provides forgiveness of sins (Acts 13:38), a home in heaven, peace with God and a new life in Christ. Once we have this new life, we should have a new desire to spend time in the presence of the Lord. Before we were saved, we tended to avoid “religious things” and “religious people” because the presence of the Lord made us uncomfortable. After we are saved we will want to spend time with the Lord Jesus, and there is no doubt that those who know us will notice.

Meditation for the week of June 25, 2006