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JUNE 2010

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Bearing Bad News


2 Chronicles 16:10 Then Asa was angry with the seer, and put him in prison, for he was enraged at him because of this. And Asa oppressed some of the people at that time.


Being the bearer of bad news can get you killed in some cultures. I have read that In China, the emperors of old just might chop your head off if you brought them bad news. But in King Asa's case, we have a man that had been known as godly turning against the messenger of God who was bringing Him the word of God. Asa had won battles that he should have lost by depending on the Lord, but then when he should have been completely confident of the Lord's protection and provision, he turned to Syria for protection. Syria was normally an enemy of both Israel and Judah. Asa forgot that walking by faith doesn't always make sense, but it is always the best way.

Why did Asa think that imprisoning the prophet would make his message ineffective? All it did was to make sure that all his counselors would tell him what he wanted to hear. Likely from this point on no one would have been willing to be honest with him.

When Asa was young, he did what was right. When he got older and established, he apparently also got stubborn and was filled with pride. Not only did he imprison the prophet, he oppressed some of the people under his authority. Age does not always make us wiser.

Why do we tend to think that the "bearer of bad news" is the trouble maker? This was true in Elijah's case when Ahab was serving Baal. It had not rained for three years according to the word of Lord as spoken by Elijah because of the sins of Ahab and his pagan wife Jezebel. Elijah was considered to be the troubler in Israel by King Ahab (1 Kings 18:18). Ahab seemed to think that if we "hear no evil and see no evil, then there is no evil," and he wasn't happy when Elijah pointed out his sin.

How often we see this situation today. If only the whistle blowers in the government would mind their own business, everything would be fine. If only people who commit gross sin against the Lord in the church were left alone and shown "love", everything would be fine. If only we didn't criticize other people's children when they are rebelling against their parents and against society and against the Lord, everything would be fine. But when these things are brought into the open, the one who bears the message also often bears the blame for not "fitting in." Instead of appreciating the person who cares enough to bring the situation to light, we often tell that person to "mind their own business."

Even the preacher of the Gospel faces this problem. We know that the Gospel is both good news and bad news. The good news is that Christ died for our sins, was buried and was raised again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). The bad news is that He did this for sinners. Now we know that in our relationship with one another it is wise to look for the good in people, but when we preach the Gospel we have to face the fact that there is bad in people. That "bad" is represented by a self-willed nature that wants to believe that everything is going to be all right if we just do the best we can. But nobody has ever done the best that they can. We have to point that out if we are going to be faithful to the Gospel message. We also have to point out that God judges sin and unbelievers will suffer eternal conscious punishment when they die. When we preach this, some people think we are trying to give them and their children nightmares. Some people assume that we are trying to tear down their self-esteem. Who wants to be told that they are SINNERS! That is bad news and the bearer of it is not always well received.

Thank God, there is good news, but it is only good news to those who believe the bad news. When we believe the good news, we are thankful that someone told us the bad news so that we could be saved.

Acts 13:38-39 says, "Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses."

Let us not blame the messenger when he points out our sin. He is not the problem, we are.


Meditation for the week of June 6, 2010

Will We be Missed?


2Chronicles 21:19-20 Then it happened in the course of time, after the end of two years, that his intestines came out because of his sickness; so he died in severe pain. And his people made no burning for him, like the burning for his fathers. He was thirty-two years old when he became king. He reigned in Jerusalem eight years and, to no one's sorrow, departed. However they buried him in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.


Generally people cry at funerals because there is sorrow over the loss of a loved one. But King Jehoram made himself so repugnant to his family, friends and subjects that no one cared when he died. Worse they were likely glad that he had died and that he had died a painful death. He had killed his own brothers to establish his kingdom. He was ruthless and he was a pagan, leading the people of God away from the Lord.

Most people are at least somewhat concerned about how people are going to remember them after they die. Absalom had no children so he built himself a pillar (2 Samuel 18:18). But he was still remembered as one who had tried to take the kingdom from his father.

Paul will be remembered as one who was faithful. Wouldn't it be nice to have Paul's summary of his life on our tombstones. He says, " I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). That would be a lot better than the old Irish poem about a crook that said, "Covetousness and greed aside, He did one noble thing, he died!"

The Lord established a way for us to remember Him and many of us do that weekly. We take a loaf of bread and break it and pass it so that each person can eat from the loaf. By doing this we remember that the Lord came in a human body and that body was given for us so that we can have eternal life. Then we take a cup of wine and share it as we remember that the life is in the blood and the Lord allowed his life's blood to be poured out so that we can have forgiveness of sins. When we remember Him, we remember our Creator and our Redeemer. We remember the One who provided us with salvation and who does not take kindly to those who think that they can do something to be worthy of that salvation. When we remember Him, we do not remember us. We remember HIM! This is the way to be remembered, as one who loved and loves. As one who put others ahead of themselves. As one who served instead of being served. Because we remember Him this way "often" as 1 Corinthians 11:26 teaches, His memory has never been forgotten. We can say like Peter did to Christians living as strangers because of their faith, "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8)."

I know that at funerals people always say what they are supposed to say about the deceased. But I wonder sometimes what they are really thinking. What will they be thinking about us? Will our memory be that of one who did one noble thing by dying? Or will we be remembered as one who remained faithful to the Lord and to His Word to the end? Will people want to remember us or will they be glad to forget?

In Luke 13: 6-9, the Lord uses an analogy about a fig tree to make us think about why we are here. The fig tree was not bearing fruit and was given three years to bear fruit or be cut down. We know that all of us are here at the pleasure of the Lord and for His pleasure. But if we ignore him and treat people that He has made and loved wrong, maybe we are like the fig tree. Maybe we are just taking up needed space.

When the Lord says it is time for me to go, I hope He can say well done (Matthew 25:21). I also hope that if friends and relatives cry at my funeral, that they cry for the right reasons.

Meditation for the week of June 13, 2010



Psalm 24:1 The earth is the LORD'S, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.


When we see pictures of the earth from outer space, the beauty of the earth is phenomenal. The majesty of what the Lord has created is hard to comprehend. The earth is but a speck in the vast universe that God has created, yet the earth is the place where the action is. Man acts as though the earth is his, but in reality the earth is the Lord's.

When we look at the starry sky, we see northern lights. We see constellations. We see the moon and the stars which reflect order and beauty. But the earth is where God has placed man, and the earth is the center of God's interest in the universe. When Solomon thought about the earth he said that God had made everything beautiful in his time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Even man, who was placed in the Garden of Eden, is and was an awesome part of God's creation. God could not say that everything was VERY good until he he had created a woman to compliment a man. So why does everything seem so out of control today? Why does this beautiful earth with beautiful creatures kill and maim and destroy that which God has made good and beautiful?

The answer is that Satan is real and tries to destroy anything that glorifies the Lord Jesus. Men would like to make Satan a mythical creature about whom they can joke. We say things like, "the devil made me do it." But there may be more truth than poetry to that. Satan is a created being like man, and he also was created beautiful (Ezekiel 28:12-15). He was lifted up in pride after being given the preferred place in heaven. He was proud of his position and beauty and it appears he wanted the honor and place that belongs to the Lord alone (See Isaiah 14:14).

Satan is not mythical, he is real. He tried to destroy man in the Garden of Eden and in doing this he brought death and corruption into Adam's society of which we are a part. He has tried to destroy the beauty of this place that God created for man and for His own pleasure. He is doing a fairly good job of messing things up. But as he plays chess with the Lord, he is always a step or two behind. He deceived Eve into sinning and Adam sinned along with her. But God had already put a plan in place that would provide salvation through His Son. Satan tried to turn the Son aside from his mission by attacking him in the wilderness at the beginning of His earthly ministry and by attacking Him in the Garden of Gethsemane just before His crucifixion. But the Son was and is the faithful One--always doing what pleased the Father. So Satan could not turn Him aside. The resurrection is the proof that Satan did not win. Paul says, "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57) ."

Things may look bleak. The oil that is pouring into the Gulf because of the BP Deep Horizon blow out may not be able to be stopped. The wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq may not be winnable. The world economy may be in terrible shape, and the U.S. dollar may not be sound as a dollar any more. But the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. I marvel that there is a day coming when death will be the exception and not the rule, when sin will be the exception and not the rule. The universe will be restored to its original beauty. The enmity found in the food chain will be gone. People will live in peace. It seems impossible to believe in our day, but that day is coming. God has promised it and He is going to bind Satan who today runs around as a roaring lion seeking to devour (Revelation 20:2, 1 Peter 5:8). God is able.

The original earth which is the Lord's was and is beautiful in spite of sin. But the redeemed earth will be even better. I expect to be able to enjoy that beauty as part of the bride of Christ. Those of us who "believe" in the present day will likely be in heaven with the Lord as he reigns over his redeemed restored universe during the coming millennium. It is going to be an awesome day.

Since Satan cannot destroy the earth, he is going to try to destroy man whom God made for His own companionship and pleasure. He is making a last ditch effort today to convince men that he is mythical and that God doesn't exist. He wants to make sure that the Lord is not glorified by people believing in Him. Do not let Satan win! Believe the truth and not the lie! The Bible says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved (Acts 16:31)." This is the victory that the Lord wants for us and that Satan wants to keep us from enjoying.


Meditation for the week of June 20, 2010

God's Choice is (Almost) Never Man's Choice


Acts 7:25 "For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand.

Acts 7:35 "This Moses whom they rejected, saying, 'Who made you a ruler and a judge?' is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush.


Joseph was chosen by God to protect his family when a famine became severe in the land of Israel. Of course, he was resented by his brothers and was sold into slavery. That act was used by God to put Joseph into a prominent position in Egypt so that he could save his family. But before Joseph became his family's deliverer, his own brothers tried to destroy him.

Moses was chosen by God to protect the nation of Israel after Joseph died. However, when Moses tried to use his position and training to save one of his countrymen, they rejected him. Again, before he became the deliverer God intended him to be, he was rejected by those who should have respected him.

The Lord Jesus was sent by God to be the Messiah and the Deliverer that had been promised to the nation of Israel. However, he didn't look like a king. He wasn't born into privilege like a king should be born, and He wasn't raised in Jerusalem where a King should reign. He didn't carry a gun or have an army like a king should have. He certainly wasn't the One the Jews were expecting so they crucified Him.

Today, men still have trouble recognizing God's deliverers. Most are still rejecting the Lord. Many have more faith in politicians than in the people who preach the Gospel and teach the Word when it comes to solving the problems of this world. Often the ones with a desire to serve the Lord are discouraged because they aren't "gifted." They may be like Moses and have a speech impediment (Exodus 4:10) or they may be like Paul in the New Testament who apparently was rude or "untrained in speech" {2 Corinthians 11:6). David was not the son in Jesse's family that Samuel thought God would call to lead the children of Israel. He wasn't tall and he wasn't the oldest in the family. But he was God's man because God was interested in his heart and not in his outward appearance.

Today we have the people who know how to do the spiritual work of the Lord and they tell others how to do it, but often they are not willing to do anything themselves. Then there are those who admit that they don't have a clue as to how to do the work of the Lord, but they get busy and do what they can. I would take any person with "heart" for the work of the Lord over three people with great ability who don't seem to have any burden to do it.

I personally have experienced the joy that comes with knowing that I have been in the right place at the right time doing what the Lord asked me to do, even though I was not the popular choice. I often get called to take conferences and meetings after the speaker that was really wanted either can't get there or can't work the meetings into his schedule. I smile, because I know that men arrange but the Lord rearranges and I suspect that there is a reason why the Lord has arranged to have me be the "deliverer" when men wanted someone else with great ability and charisma.

We need to remember that the Lord was the Servant of Jehovah, but his own people rejected Him. He didn't have the kingly splendor that men desire in a King (Isaiah 53:2). He was born wrong to the wrong parents and was raised in the wrong town. He wasn't rich. But He was the One and the Only One who could be our Savior. He was God's choice!

If you are being prodded by the Lord to do something that needs to be done that others are not doing but that you don't feel qualified to do, don't tell the Lord "no!." You too may be God's choice!

Meditation for the week of June 27, 2010