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JUNE 2016

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Things we Don't Understand

 

John 11:3  His sisters therefore sent to him, saying: Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. (That is, your friend is sick)

John 11:5  Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister Mary and Lazarus. (That is, Jesus wanted what was best for Martha and Mary and Lazarus).

 

We don't Understand the Lord's Love

The Lord was a close friend of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.  Surely the Lord would want to heal Lazarus who was sick.  The Lord had healed on many other occasions.  But while the Lord was the friend of Lazarus, he was also One who wanted to show charity to him and his sisters.  He loved this family as dear friends, but he also loved this family in a self-sacrificing way that at this time was going to cause them some short-term pain.  So the Lord delayed his coming to Lazarus until he had died.  Now there was no hope, right?  Is that the way a friend should treat a friend when the Lord had the power to heal?

 

We don't Understand the Lord's Delay's

One of our problems in interpreting the Bible is that we don't understand God's timing and we certainly are impatient with his delays.  In Genesis 32, Moses delayed coming down from the Mount and as a result the people began making and serving idols within a forty day period.  Moses in the mount speaks to us of Christ in heaven.  While the people were waiting for him to come down, they corrupted themselves.  While we are waiting for the Lord to “come down”, are we corrupting ourselves?  Have we made God something that he isn't by changing his moral and ceremonial commands and saying that we need to be culturally relevant?

 

In Daniel 9 and 10, Daniel prayed for the restoration of the nation of Israel.  He knew that he was praying in the Lord's will.  Solomon had been promised that if the Lord's people sinned and were taken captive into a foreign country,  God would hear and forgive them when they repented and prayed toward the temple.  In Daniel 10, Daniel prayed and fasted for three weeks; however, he had not obtained the answer for which he was looking.  Finally, an angel appears to Daniel and tells him, "Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words (Daniel 10:12)."  There was a war going on in heaven that had hindered the angel from answering Daniel's prayer.   We don't understand how much Satan despises a praying Christian and we don't understand how much he tries to hinder the answers to our prayers.  However, Daniel's prayer was heard and Michael the archangel was victorious.  We need to remember that God may be listening and responding when we pray but Satan too is listening and resisting.  But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through the Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:57). 

 

In 2 Peter 3:8-9, we are told why the Lord has delayed His second coming.  He has promised to come and He will come.  But He still has someone that He wants to save.  Maybe that is my reader.  God is not willing that any should perish and because of His mercy, He has not closed the door of opportunity on the unbelievers of this dispensation.  In addition, God's time is not our time.  God is eternal and a thousand years to the Lord is like one day to us. 

 

We don't Understand the Lord's Plan

We tend to limit the Lord when we pray to Him.  Mary and Martha and then the Jews all seemed to know that the Lord could have kept Lazarus from dying.  They didn't, however, expect that He could raise Lazarus from the dead. The other times the Lord raised someone from the dead, they had just died.  In this case,  Lazarus had been dead for four days.  That may have been why they thought all hope was lost. The Lord performed a miracle that was greater than what they had expected. 

We don't Understand How Evil the Heart of the Unbeliever can Be

One of the saddest verses in this story is John 11:48 which quotes the chief priests and Pharisees when they say, "If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation."  Think of it!  EVERYONE WILL BELIEVE ON HIM!  That would have been a great blessing.  However, the rulers were only concerned with their "place."  They were not concerned with the eternal consequences of their evil intent. 

 

Conclusion

I consider the Lord to be my friend and I know that even when circumstance seem to suggest otherwise, He does want what is best for me.  He wants what is best for you as well.  If you are an unbeliever, He wants you to change your mind and He wants your trust and worship.  If you are a true believer, He will answer your prayers-- perhaps in ways that you don't expect.  We must remember, however, that Satan is a real foe; and he resists anything that will bring the Lord honor and glory.  Not only does He try to cause us to doubt the faithfulness of the Lord's promises, He tries to get us to doubt the Lord's goodness.  But we need to remember that the Lord wins, He is faithful, and I am glad that I am on His side. 

 

 

Meditation for the week of June 5, 2016

Refreshing! Another Fortune is Made!

 

Proverbs 25:25  As cold water to a weary soul, So is good news from a far country.

 

Most News today is not Refreshing!

When I get up in the morning, one of the luxuries I allow myself is a good cup of coffee.  While I am drinking it, I also watch the news.  The coffee is refreshing.  The news is not!  I hear about plane crashes, new viruses, earthquakes, storms, floods, forest fires, shots fired in our city, mass shootings in other cities, plane crashes, or wars.  I hear about oil that has escaped pipelines, wells or tankers,   I hear about unemployment as well as the latest political news which usually is almost nauseating.  Very little of the news is refreshing.  It is funny how bad news sells advertising and how good news doesn't.  So when the coffee cup is empty, I am ready to go back to bed to sleep off all the bad news.

 

There is Good News

Recently, I got a phone call from someone I had not heard from in a long time.  This friend called me to tell me me that his second daughter had “gotten saved.”  That is, she had come to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as her Savior.  Now I know that sounds like strange language to many people, but to me it was music to my ears.  I am always glad when someone comes to faith the Biblical way instead of some man-made way.  Real faith in a real God saves.  But Christianity today is superficial faith in whatever we want God to be and that doesn't save.  People call themselves Christians but all they are is religious and they try to force their beliefs on others.  A  true Christian has had a change of mind and heart and instead of forcing their beliefs on others, they present the Gospel to them and pray for others.  They know that what goes for Christianity today is a far cry from what the Lord preached and from what Paul taught in the New Testament.  Christianity today is a business model fueled by entertainment and money.  True Christianity is a heart matter that prepares a person for that final trip from this earth into eternity.

 

This girl's Father had come to faith in meetings where I was one of the preachers years ago.  He went through ups and downs in life and in his faith.  There was a time when he wasn't even sure if he was a Biblical Christian.  But now, years later, I find that he has gotten his act together and he is sure where he stands with God.  His oldest daughter is a believer, and now a second daughter has become a believer in Christ.  He has a son and a son-in-law for whom he is praying. 

 

But think of it!  While the world is concerned with money and wars and politics, she has been concerned with her eternal soul.  She has taken the long run view rather than the short run view.  She has not chosen the popular path, she has chosen a path that will involve ridicule and reproach.  Often that will come from those who call themselves Christians but who have no real confidence in the Bible or the God of the Bible.  This girl is going to go to heaven whereas according to the Bible she was on her way to hell.  She won't be sinless now but now sin will bother her and she will have a conscience about it.  She will not justify it.

 

She Has it Made!

I remember a preacher telling a new convert once, “Now your fortune is made.”  And I believe that to be true.  Sometimes I forget that the leaks in the roof of my house, the medical problems of my wife, the need to be careful with our money so that we can pay our bills are all a distractions to keep us from dealing with the important issues of life.  Everyone of us has had to ask at some point, “Why am I here?”  “What is life all about?'  Many people find those answers in philosophy  (what they think is right).  Others find those answers in science although good science has never contradicted the Bible.  (It has however, contradicted some people's interpretation of the Bible.)  Some people refuse to think about the point of life and live a life of pleasure and in some cases debauchery because they think there is no other point to life.  But while I am not going to give all the reasons why I personally depend on the truth of Bible for my answers to life's important questions, I can assure you that my faith is not a blind leap in the dark.  And I have every confidence that this girl has had her fortune made.  I don't know what this life will throw at her, but at the end of life she will be in the Father's house of John 14.  She has passed from death unto life (John 5:24).  She has set to her seal that God is true (John 3:33).

 

Rejoicing over Good News

I remember a day when people rejoiced when they heard that a person had been reached by the Gospel.  Today, it doesn't seem like such a big thing to many people.  Children are assumed to be believers from the time they are young.  Parents assume that because their child has said a prayer that they have “repented an believed.”.  To me hearing of a person actually repenting (that is changing their mind so that they agree with God), and actually trusting in the truth that Christ died for them is a big deal.  There is joy ion the presence of the angels in heaven when a person repents.  An eternal destiny is changed.  God is glorified.  It is a big deal.  I am rejoicing over REALLY GOOD NEWS that was a long time in coming. 

 

Meditation for the week of June 12, 2016

The Best Father

 

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

(Matthew 6:9-13)

 

Honor and Respect

This Sunday is a day that the world has chosen to honor Fathers.  Actually they should be honored every day since the Lord has given a commandment that we should honor our Father and our Mother.  There is even a promise of a long life in the land of Israel for those in the Jewish nation that do that.  How nice it is to see those who love their Fathers, giving them heartfelt respect and honor.  Many can not do that because they never knew their Fathers.  Some won't do that because their Fathers were either absentee Fathers or they were cruel Fathers. For those of us who had good Fathers, we were blessed.  They were actually modeling God the Father to us.

 

The Very Best Father

The prayer that we have quoted is a pattern prayer.  It is not to be substituted for heartfelt, spirit-led prayer—either when we pray privately or publicly.  Yet the prayer is very instructive.  For one thing it is short.  It is addressed reverently to the right person.  It is not addressed to God which can be impersonal but to our Father which should be very personal.  A Father is both a position and a function.  There are many Fathers who have that position because they produced children but who don't function as Fathers.  But the children who pray this prayer are praying to One who not only has produced children but to One who functions as a Father as well.   For many of us who pray this prayer, God is our Father because we have trusted in His Son.  God does not become our spiritual Father until we do that.  We are children of disobedience (or the product of disobedience) by our first birth and we become children of God by our new birth.  And yet there is a sense in which God has produced all of us on the earth and is a Father to all of us.  But until we trust the Father's son we really don't allow the Father to function as our Father.

 

The Blessings the Father Provides

Notice that the Father provides daily bread.  Most of us were never concerned with our daily bread when we were growing up.  I realize that is not true of all though it should be true of all.  There are people in this country who go hungry.  I have never been one of them.  But of course I have wanted to “lay up for a rainy day.”  The Lord is the kind of Father that tells us to just trust Him and the rainy day will not come.  I know some are going to ask, “What about all of those hungry people in this world?”  My answer is, “I don't know.”  I just know that my Father has always provided just enough for me and my family.  And He has never given us so much that we forget how dependent we are on Him. 

 

Notice that the Father forgives us.  This does not have to do with our salvation, it has to do with our fellowship with the Father.  If we want open communication with the Father we need His forgiveness.  That means we need to talk to Him about our sins and confess them.  He expects us to treat others the way He treats us in this regard.  Frankly, I am glad that He treats us a lot better than we treat one another when it comes to forgiveness.  Forgiveness does not always lead to reconciliation but it certainly does not lead to grudge bearing and hate.  It keeps us humble and and reminds us that we have no right to “get even.” 

 

Notice that the Father protects us from temptation and from the evil one.  We are no match for Satan and we need to remember that.  But our Father knows how to save us and He knows how to protect us.

 

The Glory is Not Ours, it is the Lord's

This prayer is all about glorifying the Father.  It is about His kingdom.   Satan wants us to make life all about us.  God wants us to make life all about Him.  We didn't come to know the Lord as our Savior until we quit telling God how to do the saving and let Him tell us how to be saved.  And we won't live a life that honors and respects and glorifies Him until we make life all about Him instead of all about us. 

 

This is a wonderful prayer.  Someday maybe we will all be able to pray it honestly.  In the meantime, let us be thankful that there is a good Father in heaven who really does love us.

 

Meditation for the week of June 19, 2016

Wanting to be “As gods”

 

Luke 18:14  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

 

Don't we all Want to be Great?

In Acts 8 there was a sorcerer named Simon who practiced magic arts for the purpose of convincing people that he was some great one.  He was deceiving the people although he did seem to have some powers that likely cannot be explained scientifically or logically.  He used his powers to promote self.  When he saw the real power of God, he wanted to buy that power so that he could continue to be “great.”

 

In Genesis 3, Satan convinced Eve that if she disobeyed the God who created her, she would be as gods, knowing good and evil.  I think she wanted to be able to call the shots as to what was evil and what was good.  Of course, she sinned and as a result her husband sinned and ultimately the nature of sin was embedded in the human race.  I think we all want to be as gods, deciding what is evil and what is good.

 

Desiring to be some great one should certainly not be the objective of a person who is serving the crucified Christ.  However, even apostles and disciples get caught up in this desire.  James and John asked the Lord to allow them to sit at the Lord's right hand and left hand in the Kingdom that they were expecting would be shortly established.  Their mother promoted their ambition. The Lord had to tell them that to be great they had to serve.  In Matthew 20:26-27 the Lord says, "Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.  And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—." The desire of James and John had upset the peace among the disciples and they needed an attitude adjustment.

 

The Message of the Bible

The grand theme of the Bible is summed up in the truth that we are to love God and love others.  Nothing is said about loving self although the Bible is clear that we do love self.  In Ephesians 5:33 we read,  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”  The Lord knows that we understand what it means to love self.  But the Christian is admonished to set self aside.  He is to be “crucified with Christ.”  He is to take up his cross and follow the Lord.  He is to humble himself and not exalt himself as the publican did when he prayed in Luke 18. 

 

We live in a day when the self is exalted.  We are told we can't love others until we love ourselves.  However, as we have seen everyone loves themselves.  Those with superiority complexes think that they are better than everyone else.  Thus, they are loving themselves.  Those with inferiority complexes are worried that they don't measure up to the standards of others and often to their own standards.  This means that they too are loving themselves.  They are concerned with how others perceive them and they want to measure up.  While the publican (abhorred tax collector) in our verse today could be accused of being occupied with himself and thus with loving himself, at least he was honest about who he was.  He was not someone great and he did not deserve the mercies of God.  But He went down to his house justified. God had declared him righteous.  The Lord accepted his prayer when he said, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”  He knew that there was no good reason for God to bless him and yet God did.  In contrast,  the publican thought God should honor him for his self-righteousness, and his prayer didn't get any higher than the ceiling.

 

The One Who Got it Right!

There is One person who got it right and He was crucified.  The apostle Paul says in Philippians 2:8-10, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.  Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth.”

 

The Lord was the only King who was willing to die for me.  People in the United States today are pinning their hopes on one of the political candidates for public office knowing that they are all promoting themselves as someone great.  I am pinning my hope on the Lord Jesus Christ.  A vote for Him is a vote for righteousness, peace, forgiveness; and best of all, it is a vote for eternal life.

 

Meditation for the week of June 26, 2016