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JUNE 2013

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Would We Cross the Street to See Him?

 

John 12:20-21 Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."

 

Why did these Greeks want to see Jesus? They were likely non-Jewish converts to the worship of Jehovah. Did they think He was a one-man side-show that would entertain them with miracles? Were they curious because of the commotion He seemed to be causing? Did they have some ailments for which they wanted healing? Or did they want to see the Messiah in Whom they had believed?

I believe that these Greek worshipers had a better grasp of the truth than most of the Jews did. I think they understood that Jesus was the Messiah, and because of that they wanted to see Him. I wonder if we would have made an effort to see Him if we had lived in that day. Herod wanted to see Him so that he could see Him do a miracle (Luke 23:8). But it doesn't appear that He wanted to see Him because he was convinced He was the Jewish Messiah. Nicodemus wanted to see Him in John 3 to find out if He really was a teacher come from God. Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus in Luke 19 because he wanted to know who He was.

Herod didn't get any benefit from seeing the Lord because he didn't believe in Him. Nicodemus was searching for the truth and He got the truth that day. He was "born again." Zacchaeus made a real effort to see the Lord when he heard that the Lord was coming his way. Because of that effort salvation came to his family that day.

Seeing the Lord is an experience we should all want. If we come to the Lord with an open mind, we will go away blessed. Herod only wanted to see miracles, He didn't want to know who the Lord really was. He apparently did not want the greater question answered, "Is this really the Messiah, the King of the Jews, or is He an imposter?" He saw the Lord but he didn't really see Him. But I suspect the Greeks who wanted to see Him, saw a person in whom they believed. Nicodemus came in darkness and left in light even though it was still dark. Zacchaeus came lost and found salvation.

If we had lived in the days of the Lord's earthly ministry, would we have wanted to see the Lord? Better yet, do we want to see Him now? We can't see Him physically, but we can see Him though the eyes of faith. Hebrews 2:9 says, "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone."

John the Baptist wanted us to see Him. He said in John 1:29, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

There is a great blessing to be had in seeing the Lord Jesus. He can answer our questions like He did Nicodemus. He can save us like he did Zacchaeus. He can ignore us like He did unbelieving Herod.

Would we make an effort to go see Him, if we heard He was in town today?

 

Meditation for the week of June 2, 2013

Enjoying the Trip!

 

John 14:5-6 Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

 

How would we describe a person who is on a trip but doesn't know where they are going? How would we describe a person who is on a trip but doesn't know where they presently are? Wouldn't those people be lost? I have been so lost a few times that I had no idea whether up was down or down was up. When we are lost, we need help to find our way.

The Lord told his disciples in this passage that he was preparing a place in heaven for them. We don't know a lot about that place; but we do know from the book of Revelation, chapters 21 and 22, that it is a place where there is no more death, no more sorrow, no more crying, no more pain, no more curse and no more night. Sickness will be a thing of the past, hospitals will not exist, funeral parlors and cemeteries will not be needed. In that place we won't have to worry about looting and thugs. We won't have to worry about murder and drugs. That place does not include sinners who are still sinning. Nothing enters that place that will defile it. It has to be a place of unsurpassed beauty and unsurpassed peace. It is a place where we will be able to enjoy the company of other true believers; but more than that, the Lord will be there. I have no doubt that His presence will be the main attraction of that place.

When we see Him, we sill see our Savior, we will see the friend that sticks closer than a brother, we will see His glory which will be manifested by the light that will surround Him. But we will also see the man of sorrows who was acquainted with grief, we will see the lamb as it had been slain, we will see the just one who died for us the unjust that He might bring us to God. Heaven is a wonderful place because of the blessings that are found there. It is a wonderful place because the only other place we can go after we die is a place of judgment and torment. But the main attraction of heaven will be the Lord Jesus Himself.

When the Lord told the disciples that He would be leaving to prepare a place for them, Thomas didnít understand. He said that they didn't even know where the Lord was going so how could they know the way! I am confident that Thomas had believed that the Lord was the true Messiah, but he was confused as to what that meant. He could not accept the fact that the Lord was going to die.. After the Lord died, Thomas couldn't believe that He had been raised from the dead. He was constantly confused because he wouldn't leave the driving to the Lord and just trust Him. The Lord tells Thomas, "I am the way (to heaven), the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except though me."

When I go to a new place, I don't like to get lost. I love it when I can find someone who knows the area and who can take over the driving. That leaves me free to relax and enjoy the trip. Even though Thomas believed the Lord was the Messiah, he certainly was lost when it came to understanding that the Lord had to suffer before He could reign. He wanted to tell the Lord how to do His work rather than relaxing in the fact that the Lord knew what He was doing. But Thomas got all straitened out after the Lord was raised from the dead. The Lord appeared to Thomas and showed him His hands and His side. He told Thomas to be not faithless but believing. In other words, He basically told Thomas that He needed to quit trying to figure things out on his own and He needed to relax and enjoy the Lord's driving.

This is a lesson we have to learn in order to really trust Christ as our Savior but it is a lesson we have to learn over and over again as we travel that one path that leads to heaven. But learning the lesson saves and it preserves. After all, the Lord is the way, the truth and the life. If we let Him do the driving, we can enjoy the trip and we can be sure of our destination.

 

Meditation for the week of June 9, 2013

A Breakfast like no Other!

 

John 21:12-13 Jesus said to them, "Come and eat breakfast." Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, "Who are You?"--knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.

 

Simon Peter and some of the other disciples including John went fishing. They had already seen the resurrected Lord but they were waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit before they were to begin their witnessing about the living resurrected Lord. After his ascension, it is quite clear that they were to remain in Jerusalem waiting for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but the Lord had shown Himself to the disciples after His resurrection in Galilee. He had wanted to meet them there. Since the ascension was forty days after the resurrection (Acts 1:3) and the baptism of the Holy Spirit was fifty days after the resurrection, they should not have been fishing in the Sea of Tiberius or Galilee for the ten days after the ascension. However, what were they to do during the first forty days after the resurrection? Peter led the other disciples back to doing what they knew how to do. Of course, they could have watched TV or gone to a ball game, or maybe they could have gone to a coffee shop and read a book, but they did what should have been a profitable use of their time while they were waiting. They went fishing. This is what they knew how to do and I personally think it only made sense that they would go fishing since they had been fishermen before they were called to follow the Lord.

They toiled all night and caught nothing. However, in the morning, the Lord appeared and gave them instructions as to where to fish. These instructions made no sense to them but they did what the Lord told them to do. And they caught fish. Following the instructions always works. Then the Lord invited them to eat breakfast with Him.

I want to take a few liberties with this passage. I have wondered if this event gives us a little picture of what happens from the time of the ascension of the Lord until He comes again for the church. Since the Lord is now gone, the light of day is gone. That means that just as the disciples were fishing during the night so are we fishing in a spiritual way during the night season. In the morning when the Lord appears, He wants to eat breakfast with His disciples and He wants them to bring the fish that they have caught at his direction. Hopefully, that is what He will want to do with us when we meet Him in the morning after a long dark frustrating night.

Yes we are working at night but morning is coming. The Psalmist says that weeping endures for the night but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). What will it be like to sit down in that place that has been prepared for us in the Father's house and eat breakfast with the Lord? What will it be like to bring with us the believers that we have been involved in seeing reached with the Gospel?

Sometimes we get bogged down in this life because the fish aren't biting, the night is dark and it seems like the night is going to last forever. But if we continue in well doing, the Lord says we will reap (Galatians 6:9). Night is going to give way to morning, it always does. And the Lord will be waiting for us when the morning comes. He has promised that in John 14. I would like to believe that He will want to eat breakfast with us. I have never been much of a fish eater, however, the company will be more important than the diet. But if he should choose to prepare steak and eggs with some hash browns and a nice cup of fresh robust coffee, that would be really appealing to me.

Sometimes it is nice to just speculate a little about what it will be like to meet the Lord after we have finished our work here on earth. If we who are saved are toiling in the night season and if the Lord comes to meet us in the early part of the morning just as the sun begins to rise, eating breakfast with Him would be the best breakfast ever.

 

Meditation for the week of June 16, 2013

OOPS! Haman didn't see that Coming!

 

Esther 6:6 So Haman came in, and the king asked him, "What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?" Now Haman thought in his heart, "Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?"

 

The little book of Esther in the old testament is one of the most captivating and interesting stories that has ever been written. The story has political intrigue, conflict between good and evil, racial prejudice, a woman (Esther) who is willing to die for her people and who becomes the story's heroine. The book can be read as historical literature because it is. But behind the historical facts is an allegory that teaches us a lot about God. And yet the name of God or Jehovah is never mentioned in the book.

I believe that the book can be looked at as explaining the conflict between the flesh (Haman) and the Spirit (Mordecai). The book is all about dethroning the flesh and exalting the Spirit and this is accomplished by obedience on the part of Esther and by the guiding hand of God behind the scenes. The book reminds us that while the Lord's people, that is, new testament Christians, are saved for eternity, God has also put a protective hedge about them in this life. He preserves us in ways we don't even know or understand. When things get "scary" in this life, we need to remember that God is still on the throne orchestrating events that will preserve those who truly love and worship Him. Some would say that there were a lot of lucky coincidences in this story, but the story reminds us that there is no such thing as a lucky coincidence.

Mordecai, Esther's cousin and the man who raised her, was in a strange land as a captive with a King who was not a Jew on the throne. The book does not say that the King has no Jewish heritage but when it comes to killing the jews, he doesn't seem concerned, so I assume that he had no Jewish background. Mordecai was totally loyal to this King and even exposed a plot to kill him. Exposing this plot set the stage for the overthrow of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. While Haman was plotting the destruction of Mordecai, the King had insomnia. He chose to read a history book rather taking a sleeping pill. That should have put him to sleep; but as he read it, he realized that Mordecai had saved his life and had never been honored for it. Thus, when Haman shows up the next morning with the intent of asking for Mordecai to be executed for not bowing to him and giving him honor (the flesh is really cruel), the king asks Haman the above question. Haman assumes he is to be honored but instead the circumstances have been orchestrated so that Mordecai is honored and Haman is hanged on his own gallows. There is an old saying that if you give a man enough rope, he will hang himself, and Haman did that.

I love this story because it reminds me that we who have trusted in the Lord don't really fight our own battles. It reminds me that we would all be overcome by the flesh if the Lord didn't intervene. In most cases our own flesh is the enemy and in some cases it is the flesh of others, often the flesh of religious people. Pride is the primary problem of the flesh. The flesh just represents what we are because of the sinful nature that we inherited from our first father, Adam. The spirit represents what we should be once we are "born of the spirit (John 3:6)." But the transition that gets the flesh off of the throne and the Spirit on the throne is a constant struggle.

This struggle cannot be won unless we are willing to die and Esther was. She says, "If I perish, I perish!" when she went to the king without being summoned. Today when it is so easy to be proud instead of humble, when it is so easy to listen to religious leaders who have prestige but have no sense, we can be thankful that with prayer and humility, this battle between the flesh and spirit can be won. In Rom 8:31, Paul reminds us, "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" And again, in Rom 8:37, he says, "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us."

I cannot understand why anyone would want to deny the God who works this way in the life of His own. Unbelievers miss out on all the good stuff.

 

Meditation for the week of June 23, 2013

Where did the Time Go?

 

Psalms 90:10 The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

 

When I was young, on my birthday we would read a children's book about a farmer who went to the fair with his young boy on his birthday. As I remember the book, the farmer said, "Today is my birthday, lucky me!" Now that is the way I remember the story, but you will have to forgive me if I have gotten it wrong. Today is my birthday and I have reached the stage where sometimes I forget. I have reached Moses minimum "old age" of 70. He is the one who wrote this Psalm.

When we are young we relish the idea of having birthdays so that we can grow up and be adults with adult privileges. We tend to forget about the adult responsibilities like paying the bills. When we are young we think we will really amount to something and we have great plans. If you are like me, you are still trying to figure out what you are going to be when you grow up. Our great plans tend to get put on hold so we can tend to life and all that it entails.

I have seen a lot of changes in my life time. When I was young, I was told to stand and respect my elders. I was told that with old age came wisdom. I was told to listen and not speak in the presence of those who were older. Now that I am older, I am told that I am old fashioned and not "with it." I have to be careful not to discourage the young, so now I wait on them and listen to them. If old age brings wisdom, at some point it passed me and King Solomon (1 Kings 11:4) and the friends of Job who were older than his father (Job 15:10) by.

Those who live long lives in the Bible seem to think that life is a struggle. Moses says our lives are short and filled with labor and sorrow. When Jacob was introducing himself to Pharaoh at 130 years of age, he said that his days were few and evil. I think he meant few and hard. Moses and Jacob seem to imply that if this life is all there is, it doesn't amount to much. I would tend to agree with them.

I feel that the Lord blessed me by putting me into the best country at the best time that history has had to offer. He put me into a family that believed the Bible was the inspired Word of God. Childhood diseases that people used to fear have been all but eliminated. The country has had its ups and downs economically but for the most part we in the Unites States have lived in prosperous times in the last 70 years. But in spite of all that, I don't look forward to turning 70 because that makes 80 seem that much closer. And apart from the Lord's return, death seems that much more imminent. And frankly, I don't look forward to death.

What I do look forward to is what comes after death. I have prepared for that day. I have believed God when He said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (Acts 16:31." This life may not be much, but the next one has a mansion. There is a place in that mansion for me. One of the joys of being there will be to meet some who heard the Gospel and believed it when I preached the Good News to them. One of the great disappointments will be to know that there were many to whom we preached and for whom we prayed that will not be there. Of course, the real attraction of that mansion will be the Lord Jesus "Who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20)."

I would not want to live my life over, I would likely make all the same mistakes I made the first time and maybe more. However, I do not look forward to reaching an age where I need care rather than giving care. But I am glad that I didn't waste my life trying to build a mansion down here when I would only be able to enjoy it for a few feeble years. I am glad that the Lord made sure that my life which doesn't amount to much was not wasted doing that which amounts to nothing.

My birthday will be a time of reflection. I will wish that life wasn't so short and that I had been a better servant to the Lord., a better husband to my wife, a better father to my children, and a better friend to my friends. But my birthday will be happy because I know where I am going when the Lord calls me home.

 

Meditation for the week of June 30, 2013