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JUNE 2007

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Genesis 5:21-24

And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

 

Enoch walked with God down here on earth and suddenly he was walking with God in heaven. I had always thought that the transition from life on this earth to our dwelling place in the next life, might be traumatic. But if we are part of the redeemed on earth walking with God, I am beginning to believe that this transition might be something we have been prepared for down here, and It might seem as natural as waking up on a beautiful morning after a good night's rest.

In addition, I had always thought that heaven was a far off place. I know that heaven is where we go when we die in this day of grace. Paul says in Philippians 1:23 that if he departed or died, he would be with Christ. We know Christ is in heaven because in Acts 1:11, the Lord was taken up into heaven. In Acts 7:55, Stephen saw the Lord standing in heaven. In Acts 9:3, the Lord appeared to Paul as a light from heaven. Hebrews 9:24 says Christ has entered into heaven. Paul seems to be talking about himself when he says in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 that he was caught up into paradise which was the third heaven. The first heaven is the atmospheric heaven around earth. The second heaven is where the stars are. But where is this third heaven where God and the angels dwell, and where we go when we die?

Heaven isn't so far away that the angels in heaven cannot see us because they observe our meetings in 1 Corinthians 11:10. Angels from heaven strengthened the Lord when He was tested in the wilderness and when he was tested in the Garden of Gethsemane. They announced His birth. Heaven was close enough when the Lord was baptized so that John the Baptist could hear the Father in heaven speak. Twelve legions of angels would have fought for the Lord if He would have called for them when He was being betrayed. Heaven was close enough so that Moses and Elijah were able to appear on the mount of transfiguration. Heaven was close enough so that a chariot of fire could carry Elijah up into heaven (2 Kings 2:11) and so that Elisha knew that chariots of fire were present protecting the city that was surrounded by the Syrians in 2 Kings 6:17. Moses was able to meet with God on an earthly mountain in the book of Exodus. So, I don't think it seemed like a long trip to Enoch when he was taken to God's dwelling place.

When we are born again, we receive eternal life. This is a life from heaven that fits us for heaven. It has both eternal quantity and eternal quality. This life begins here when we are saved and does not begin when we die. So why shouldn't the transition from time to eternity be easy and comfortable? As a matter of fact, if we are walking with God already, our transition to heaven just might be somewhat like getting on an airplane in one country and one time zone and getting off in another country that speaks the same language and in another time zone. There will be differences but nothing that should alarm or surprise us.

However, since all tickets are one way and have already been paid for by the blood of Christ, we should make sure that we have a valid ticket. The ticket that I am depending on is simply this promise, "But God commendeth (demonstrates) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)." Either He did or He didn't. I am depending on the fact that God says He did; and I hope that when the time comes for me to make the transition from time to eternity, it will seem like I have already been there.

 

Meditation for the week of June 3, 2007

John 1:11-13

He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power (the right or privilege) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

 

Sometimes I am asked if a person really has to be born again. My answer is usually, NO! You don't have to be born again. You can live and die without God in your life and without the life that prepares you to be with God throughout eternity. However, if you want to have part in the Kingdom of God which means that you will go to heaven when you die; then the Bible says, “you MUST be born again (John 3:7).

If the new birth is a must, then we need to know what it is and what it is not. Let's see what it is first:

  1. It is a new life. The first one is a life guided by Satan's question “Yea, hath God said? (Genesis 3:1)”. The new one is a life resulting from confidence in what God has said.

  2. It is obtained by receiving Christ. We receive Christ by “believing on His name.” The new birth is obtained by faith (believing) and not by works (doing).

  3. It is of God. God has finished the work that saves. We cannot do anything to deserve to be born again. We wouldn't even want to be born again if the Holy Spirit were not convincing us of sin. But we can submit to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit and receive Christ by believing on His name which means that we trust His authority because of His reputation and character. Authority, reputation and character are what a name represents.

Now let's see what the new birth is not:

  1. It is not of blood. Our parents and grandparents and other relatives (our blood line) cannot save us.

  2. It is not of the will of the flesh. We obviously cannot save ourselves. We will have difficulty putting faith in the Lord when we are still putting faith in ourselves or in what we can do.

  3. It is not of the will of man. Just as parents and family cannot save us, men cannot save us. They cannot tell us to do something or to join something to be born again,

  4. It is not a sinless life. Those who are saved still sin. However, a person who has no conscience about sin, should revisit the issue of whether or not he is really born again.

  5. It is not always an easy life. James says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations or trials (James 1:2).”

  6. It is not religion. That is, it is not simply a way of life. Instead of the new birth being a dead religion, it is a living relationship with the Lord as part of His spiritual family. We become children of God.

  7. It is not baptism, though a Christian should be baptized. Again, it is not something we do for one another or something we do for ourselves.

  8. It is not the Lord's supper though Christians should worship the Lord by participation in the Lord's supper. Again, the new birth is not what we do for God but is based on what God has done for us.

  9. It is not the ability to do miracles or speak in tongues. Many have been born again who cannot do those things. Nicodemus was told that he needed to born again and it is clear that he was. However, he did not do miracles or speak in tongues.

  10. It is not simply a prayer. The new birth is by believing and not by praying though a believer will obviously pray (Romans 10:14). Faith in Christ is what produces new life, and faith comes by listening to what God says (Romans 10:17).

The new birth is Biblical, important and prepares us for a life with God. We simply MUST be born again God's way if we want to be prepared to meet God.

 

Meditation for the week of June 10, 2007

Matthew 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world (age)?

 

I have good news and I have bad news. The bad news is that things in this world are going to get worse before they get better. The good news is that this has been known by God from an eternity past and our current situation has not caught Him by surprise. He has even got an "escape plan" in place for Christians to save them from the awful days that are coming.

I was sent an email recently that detailed the plans of terrorists groups that are coming into our country as illegal immigrants. Supposedly plans are in place to detonate briefcase size nuclear devices. In addition, gangs are preparing to murder multitudes of our school children. The purpose of these terrorists groups is to destroy the United States as a nation. Now whether that will all happen the way we are being told it will happen, I don't know. But I do know that things like that are predicted in the Bible.

In our passage, the disciples were told not to be deceived into believing that the Lord had come when He had not. The signs of the Lord's return would include wars and rumors of wars. Nations will be fighting one another and there will be famines, disease and earthquakes. And according to the passage, this is just the beginning. It appears that these things happen just before the Lord returns to set up His kingdom, but it would seem that things like these things are happening now. People are looking for a man-made solution to these problems and they are not finding them. As a result, men's hearts will fail them for fear during this period (Luke 21:26). This is a time when God's wrath is going to be poured out on this earth (Revelation 6:16-17) and specifically on the Jewish people (Luke 21:23).

The good news is that those who are saved have been delivered from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10). What does it mean to be saved? It means to have come in simple trusting faith to a loving God who willingly punished His Son for the sins we have committed. The wrath of God is presently abiding on the unbeliever, but the believer has been made right with God and will not be judged or condemned (John 3:18).

While we certainly can't say for sure that the present state of affairs in the world are the events that precede the Lord's coming, they are certainly like them. I am sure that in 70 A.D. when Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, people thought this was the beginning of the end of this age. But it wasn't. I am sure that the holocaust had many people convinced that this was the beginning of the end. But it wasn't. But the end of the age is coming and when it comes it will be worse than anything that has happened on this earth yet. Will there be nuclear war? Probably. Will there be weapons of mass destruction? Most assuredly. Will there be a concerted effort on the part of Satan to cause hatred and to kill and to destroy? Certainly. But the Christian is prepared. If we die we go to be with Christ which is far better (Philippians 1:23). If we are alive when God begins to pour out his wrath, we will be delivered from it by the catching away of the Saints (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

We live in scary times. We can be prudent and try to find military or political solutions, but ultimately the only way to be prepared is to have faith in the One who has born our sins in his own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24). While we may need to prepare to fight terrorism, what we really need to do is to prepare to meet God (Amos 4:12). If Al Quida and other terrorist groups cause us to think about where we are going to spend eternity, then they will have done the world a service. They will have been used of God to save even though Satan is trying to use them to destroy.

 

Meditation for the week of June 17, 2007

Matthew 7:28-29

And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

 

When the Lord spoke, people listened. He spoke graciously (Luke 4:22), but He also spoke with authority. When we take our car to a mechanic with an intermittent problem where the engine loses power, we like to hear the mechanic say that he knows exactly what is wrong and that he knows how to fix it. We don't like it when the mechanic says that he is not sure what the problem is but that he thinks a new fuel pump will fix it. The first mechanic speaks with authority. The second does not. The Lord's listeners could sense that He knew what He was talking about while the scribes only knew what they had been taught. Their teaching just didn't carry the same weight as the Lord's teaching.

The Lord was a carpenter and the son of a carpenter. He grew up in humble circumstances and was not educated (John 7:15). How could He speak with authority when the scribes (those who knew how to read and write) could not? The answer is that the Creator knows more than the people that He created. The Lord was the Creator. "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made (John 1:3)." That is why that when we depend on Him and on what He says we are founded upon the Rock that gives us safety when the storms of life come (Matthew 7:24-25). However, some people who think they are founded upon the Rock are not (Matthew 7:21-23). They do all the right things for all of the wrong reasons. When they come to the Lord at the end of their lives, they tell the Lord about all the miracles and wonderful things that they have done, and they believe that they deserve to be in heaven. But the things we do for God in order to be saved are nothing but sinking sand. The person who is saved will be telling the Lord about how they are depending on what He did for them. They will know that they are saved based upon verses like Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth (or demonstrates) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." They will do good works because they are saved not in order to be saved (See Ephesians 2:8-10). When we try to substitute our good works for the blood that the Lord shed at Calvary to save us, then those good works are works of iniquity.

Satan has a way of twisting things. Christians should be baptized after they are saved. So Satan tells us that if Christians should be baptized, then baptism must make a Christian. But it doesn't work that way. Satan says that if Christians should take the Lord's Supper to remember the Lord as an act of worship, then taking the Lord's Supper must make a Christian. But it doesn't work that way. Satan says that if a Christian should do good works because he has a new life and is a new creation, then doing good works must make a Christian. And it doesn't work that way either.

We need to listen to what the Lord says. He speaks with authority. Some day the storms are going to come and we need to be prepared before that happens. There are many people who think they are Christians who are building on the sands of their own works and on what they think will please God.

I am confident that when the Lord says "it is finished (John 19:30)", that the work that saves and satisfied God on our behalf is in fact finished. That is a foundation that will stand the test of any storm that comes.

 

Meditation for the week of June 24, 2007