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to Archived Meditations
10:17-18 "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life
that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of
Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.
This command I have received from My Father."
Lord did not offer Himself as the sacrifice that saves because He was
forced to do it. He did it willingly. He had the power or ability to lay
his life down and He had the ability to take it again. The Father gave
him the ability to willingly offer Himself as the sacrifice that paid
the penalty that we deserve because of our sins.
we have people giving their lives for noble causes. Some of them are
doing it willingly and some are doing it unwillingly. While many of our
servicemen and women have voluntarily joined the armed forces, once they
join their freedoms are gone. So when they come back in a casket, there
is always some reason to believe that they were ordered to carry out a
mission that cost them their lives. So whether they gave their lives
voluntarily could probably be argued in many cases. Doing things because
we have a duty to do them is noble. Doing them because we want to do
them out of devotion to a person or cause is much more satisfying and
noble than doing what we do out of duty.
who have benefited from the Lord's voluntary free-will offering should
want to serve the Lord in any way that He wants us to serve Him. In
Romans 12:1, Paul says that it is only reasonable that we present our
bodies as living sacrifices. A sacrifice is costly and usually requires
us to give up something that is precious to us. In the case of a
Christian, our body is no longer to be used for selfish purposes, but we
are to dedicate it to the Lord so He can use it. Some have paid the
ultimate sacrifice since they have been martyred to serve the Lord. Most
have done it not because they were forced to give their lives but
because they were willing to put themselves in harms way out of devotion
to the Lord and out of devotion to those who need to be saved. Their
sacrifice has been like the free will offering of Leviticus 1:3.
Lord has asked us to show that they are believers by being baptized, but
we don't have to be baptized. Of course we won't please the Lord
unless we do get baptized, but the Lord will never force us to do what
we should want to do voluntarily. If we get baptized because we HAVE TO,
I doubt that we will have pleased Him. We should get baptized because we
want to please the Lord. We don't HAVE TO DO ANYTHING to please the
Lord, but there are lots of things that we can do and should want to do
of our own free will to please Him. We will not be making up our own
minds as to what pleases the Lord, we will be asking Him to tell us. We
will then do what he asks out of devotion instead of out of duty. Of
course if we don't want to please the Lord, that indicates that for some
reason we don't appreciate what the Lord has done for us. We may not be
truly born again or if we are born again, we may be stubbornly living a
arguments that we have about what we have to do please the Lord would
not be arguments if we were really devoted to Him. Instead of asking
what we have to do, we would be asking what we are privileged to do. The
Lord voluntarily delivered Himself for us. Is there anything that He has
asked us to do that we do voluntarily and devotionally for Him? We can
do the right things because we HAVE TO and that won't be devotional
worship. We can do things our way instead of His way because we WANT TO
and that won't be devotional worship, But the Lord must be thrilled when
we do the things He has asked us to do because WE WANT TO and not
because WE HAVE TO. That is when He gets our devotional worship which
Paul says is only reasonable.
for the week of June 1, 2008
the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, "Arise,
go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell
once worked for a CPA firm where every audit had to be reviewed by a
senior partner. One of the accountants used to get the senior partners
note's on his audits and he would say, "We learn by doing—it
over!" Jonah learned by doing it over. The trouble is, sometimes we
don't give each other the chance to do it over.
have listened to teachers who told me that God was the God of the second
chance. Their ministry would deal with Peter who denied the Lord but was
forgiven and recommissioned in John 21. They would deal with John Mark
who left Paul and Barnabus in Acts 13:13 and returned to Jerusalem. Paul
and Barnabus disagreed over taking John Mark with them on their next
trip and actually went their separate ways over the issue. Later Paul
would ask Timothy to bring Mark with him to Rome when he came to visit
Paul in prison because Paul said, "he is useful to me for ministry
(2 Timothy 4:11)." Paul gave him another chance. Sometimes these
teachers would deal with Jonah who was told to go to Nineveh the second
time after rebelling against the Lord the first time.
then, we would also get teaching that said, "An eagle with a broken
wing can never fly as high." This implied that if you committed
certain sins, your usefulness to the Lord would always be limited after
that. These teachers would point out that David didn't get to build the
temple after his sin with Bathsheba. They would tell us that since
elders are to be blameless, they were disqualified from leadership if
they committed certain major sins.
believe that men are harder to please than God on this issue. God tells
Christians that If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to
forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John
1:9). When the Lord forgives, he cleanses us from ALL sin, not just from
some sins. God considers one who truly confesses his sin to be clean.
Peter denied the Lord when the Lord could have used a friend. The Lord
forgave him and used him in a most prominent way. David did have
consequences associated with his sin with Bathsheba, but it was because
of his hypocrisy in judgment. Matthew 7:2 makes it clear that he was
being judged in the way he had judged. He held a rich man who had taken
a poor man's lamb to entertain a guest to a higher standard than the
standard he was setting for himself. In addition, he had Uriah killed to
cover his sin (See 2 Samuel 12: 5,6,9,10 and 1 Kings 15:5). But when
David made the confession, "I have sinned (2 Samuel 12:13),"
the Lord did not take his life as David would have taken the rich man's
life. Nor did the Lord remove him from being King.
is true that elders are to be blameless. The qualifications that are
listed in the rest of the passage in 1 Timothy 3 define what blameless
means. Notice a man must BE blameless. It is his present character that
counts, not his past sins. When a person of the world is saved, we tend
to give them responsibility and privileges quite quickly even though we
should wait until the person brings forth fruits in keeping with their
profession of faith. We even unwisely let them glorify their past sins
when they tell what about the lives from which they were saved. However,
when a person who has had a moral fall after salvation is restored to
the Lord through repentance and confession, we tend to assume that they
can never recover their reputation and character even though God says
that He has forgiven them and that he has removed all their defilement.
Why does the blood of Christ provide complete forgiveness in the one
case but not in the other? Obviously, the blood of Christ has the same
ability to cleanse in both cases, but men have a harder time accepting
that fact when Christians sin. While it is true that it would take some
time to make sure that a person's repentance was real, once that is
determined we should treat Christians who have sinned the same way God
should give them a second chance.
for the week of June 8, 2008
faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with
godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he
condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is
according to faith.
we have been subjected to catastrophic storms and floods in our part of
the state. Before each storm we have had advisories telling us of the
possibility of storms, then watches telling us that the conditions were
favorable for storms, and finally warnings telling us that a storm was
moving in our direction. On Memorial Day weekend, I came home while the
civil defense sirens were blowing. Did I head for cover? No! Instead I
asked the neighbor who was outside why the sirens were blowing. My
neighbor was watching the sky but didn't seem to know why the sirens
were blowing. We found out later that a tornado had gone through a town
near us and at that moment was crossing a road about 10 miles north of
the floods, we have been given constant updates as to river levels and
what to do to avoid being hurt in the floods. Fortunately, most people
have been preserved but some have stayed in their homes a little too
long and have had to be rescued by boats in rising water. During the
floods, we were warned one night that another storm was coming with hail
and winds in excess of sixty miles an hour. We live in a manufactured
home that has no basement and were advised to find a storm shelter, We
didn't because so many cars are parked near the storm shelter when we
need to take cover that we usually have to walk to the shelter in the
rain. Instead, I pulled the covers over my head and went to sleep.
Fortunately, the storm didn't amount to much by the time it reached our
hear so many storm warnings this time of the year that I don't really
pay attention to them like I should. I consider most of them to be false
alarms. I am afraid that many of us treat Biblical warnings the same
way. However, Noah was a wise man and even though he was warned about an
event that had never happened before, he believed God and built an ark
that saved the members of his house as well as preserving life for the
planet. Noah had not even seen rain since the earth had been watered by
a mist, and yet when God said it was going to rain and that the earth
was going to be flooded, Noah began to prepare.
have been told for years that the Lord is going to come. People have
different views of what that means, but I believe that God is going to
come to remove believers from this earth before He begins to judge the
earth for rejecting Him and His Son. We have been warned over and over
that judgment is coming. I believed those warnings, and even though I
haven't been taking cover during the weather service's storm warnings, I
have taken cover from the storm of God's wrath. There is a day coming
when men and women will say to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us
and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the
wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is
able to stand (Revelation 6:16-17)?"
people have wondered if the events of the last few weeks in the Midwest
indicate that the tribulation has started. Since I am still here and
since my Christian friends are still here, I can assure you that the
floods and tornadoes of the last few weeks are not part of the time
period that the Bible calls The Tribulation. But if these events are are
so bad, what must the wars, disease, earthquakes, famines, and
hailstones of that period be like?
is only one shelter from the storm of God's wrath and that shelter is
faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. John says in his Gospel, "He who
believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe
the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him (John
3:36)." Today, God is offering salvation by grace through faith in
His Son. Now would be a good time to flee to Christ and to flee from the
wrath to come (Matthew 3:7).
is the time to believe the warnings and to prepare.
for the week of June 15, 2008
4:23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported
all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.
Boothe Luce has said that "no good deed goes unpunished."
Peter and John could testify to the truth of that saying. They had
healed a man and as a result they were able to preach the Gospel. God
was able to use that message to save at least 5,000 people. Satan, of
course, had a bit of a problem with that and used the unbelieving
leaders of the nation of Israel to attempt to keep the apostles from
preaching. They threw put them in jail and told them to quit it or else.
However, Peter and John didn't think God would want them to quit it so
after having been threatened, they went to their "own" and
reported what had happened.
would we go to if we were persecuted for preaching the Gospel? Would we
have those that we would consider our own company or our own companions
who would understand what we were doing and the persecution we were
suffering? The Bible makes it clear that the church is supposed to be a
house of prayer and worship but it is also supposed to be a support
group for Christians. That is why the Bible so often speaks of the
church being "together" and being unified or in "one
hear people say that they can worship the Lord without going to a
meeting of the church. And they can. But they cannot find a support
group when they don't have a group that they support. There are many
things that we do by ourselves that we can do with so much more power
and joy when we do it together.
I worked with a group of Christians in a park Gospel outreach. Some of
us went door-to-door handing out invitations. Some of them sang. Some of
us provided hot dogs with baked beans and chips. Some of us preached and
some of us gave our testimonies as to how we came to know the Lord. We
did together what we could not do well separately. We went away glad
that we had our own company with which to share this great work. God
could have done this in other ways perhaps because he can raise up
children to Abraham from stones (Matthew 3:9). However, because we
worked together we were more effective than we would have been
separately. While we didn't experience persecution, we did experience
rejection, but we were able to encourage each other because we could go
to our own and talk about it.
own people or company should not be the unbelieving people in the world.
We should have friends there but we should not have the same connection
to them that we have with our own. Since we are in the world but not of
the world (John 17:11, 16), we should feel like square pegs in round
holes in today's society. We just don't fit.
own are the ones with whom we are going to spend eternity. It only seems
fitting that they would be the ones we would seek out in our joys and in
our sorrows down here. They should be our support group.
for the week of June 22, 2008
12:15 "Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming,
Sitting on a donkey's colt."
am getting lots of emails that seem to be trying to influence how I vote
in the next election. Democrats think they can give us everything and
Republicans think they can give us a tax free paradise. They both think
they can give us world peace. The Republicans will fight to give it to
us and the Democrats will negotiate until they get it. They both want to
cure cancer, provide better medical care, take care of the children and
they both want us all to get richer. My personal opinion is that nobody
can provide what this world wants in the next election.
is Somebody that can provide what we need. Even He can not provide what
we want because He knows that what we want is not always what we need.
He's a man of peace, He believes in providing for the poor, He is able
to heal the sick, He says that He can provide the social security that
we need if we will just put Him first (Matthew 6:33). He has the cure
for hate and murder. He isn't running for office but He would like to be
our own personal King. He runs sort of a shadow government and those who
submit to him are usually a help and not a burden to the visible
government. They don't need more laws governing their lives because this
King has sent a special anonymous servant called the Holy Spirit to help
us be better citizens in this present world and to guide us as we try to
help people prepare for the Kingdom that is coming.
the Lord was here He said that it took a new birth to enter into His
kingdom (John 3:3). But He also indicated that right now His Kingdom was
spiritual and not physical so He didn't raise an army to fight for Him
(John 18:36). Those who submit to His authority and who trust Him have
forgiveness of sins, they have a place in heaven prepared for them, they
will never perish, they will have enough to eat, and they will have
peace of mind. The wise people of this world consider His subjects to be
foolish. However, it will turn out that they were really wise and the
wise of this world who rejected this King were really very foolish.
King presented Himself to "His people" and they rejected Him.
They thought a king should fight and he wouldn't. They thought a king
should act kingly and they didn't think he did. He didn't have the right
background, the right kind of birth, the right mother and he had been
raised in the wrong town. So He came to His own and they didn't receive
Him (John 1:11). If He were running for political office today, I am
convinced that He wouldn't fit into the mold of either political party
and most of us would consider his teaching to be too honest and too
radical for us to vote for Him. They crucified Him the first time, not
because He had done anything wrong, but to prove to Him that the leaders
of Israel were the boss. He was just getting in the way of their
careers. If He were to appear on the scene today, I suspect the same
thing would happen. But there is a man coming who will be crafty and who
will convince the world that He can provide peace. He will present
Himself as a man of peace when really He is a man of war. He will be
elected and followed without question when He comes on the scene. The
Lord told Israel, "I have come in My Father's name, and you do not
receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive (John
for whom should we vote? I am going to cast my vote for the Lord and His
shadow government. After all, no man can rule on this earth unless He
allows it. I wonder which of the candidates really understand that they
will only be in office by permission of the real King. How many try to
put the principles of the real kingdom into practice?
though we cannot get the Lord elected to the office that He should have
and rightfully deserves at the present time, we can make Him our
personal King and submit to His will as we go through life. The Lord is
reigning in the hearts of those who have trusted him, and He will one
day rule this world. There is no way that either the Republicans or the
Democrats are going to be able to cure the ills of this world, but the
day is coming when the Lord will bring be peace and righteousness and
justice and sufficient food. When the Lord reigns heaven will truly be
for the week of June 29, 2008