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JUNE 2018

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Seeing the Lord Jesus


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." (John 12:20-21 NKJV)


We see a lot of hatred, violence, war, and new diseases on the news and in our communities today.  Sometimes one wonders if it would be possible to find an uninhabited island somewhere where one could live and be a society drop out.  But you know and I know that people are looking in the wrong direction for solutions to our dysfunctional societies.  People are looking to men and not to the Lord.   Many people in the Bible looked in the right direction and seeing the Lord for them was always a blessing.


The Shepherds

The shepherds became evangelists, telling others about the birth of the Lord after they saw Him.  The Bible says, “Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds (Luke 2:17-18 NKJV).”



Simeon had been told that he would not see death until He had seen the Lord's Christ.  The Lord fulfilled His promise to him and he was then prepared to die.  Seeing the Lord the way Simeon saw him will always be the first step in preparing to die.  Simeon said, "Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation (Luke 2:29-30 NKJV).”



This man was little and had to make an effort to see the Lord.  He climbed into a sycamore tree in order to see Him.  As a result he was blessed with the Lord's salvation and he was able to show the Lord  hospitality.  We read, “And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature (Luke 19:3 NKJV).”  And again we read that the Lord said to Zacchaeus,  "Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:9-10 NKJV).”  He was a fellow Jew and even though he was considered to be a sinner because he was a tax collector, he was “saved.”


The Disciples after the Resurrection

We read that the Lord appeared to His disciples in a room where the doors were shut for fear of the Jews after the crucifixion.  I am sure that they wondered if they would be the next martyrs since they had publicly followed the Lord.  When they first closed themselves in, they were not convinced that the Lord had been raised from the dead.  They thought He was dead and their expectations for the future had died with Him.   But their sorrow was turned to joy when they saw the Lord.  We read, “He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord (John 20:20 NKJV).”



We read, “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 (Hebrews 2:9 NKJV).”  And again we read that we should be “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV).”  This look saves when the look is a look of faith.  This look is a look that encourages us in a dark day.  This look causes a true believer to worship.


Which Vision will be Yours?

I am glad that I have seen the meek and lowly Jesus.  I have trusted in His mercy.  I can only ask my reader if you have gotten a vision of the Lord who saves or are you waiting for a vision of the Lord who will righteously judge you for your sins which could have been forgiven?  That vision involves wailing for those who see Him.  You can read all about it in the “rest of the story” found in the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.  I personally can say like the hymn writer:


O joyous hour! when God to me
A vision gave of Calvary;
My bonds were loosed—my soul unbound;
I sang upon redemption ground.


We who believe have seen Him on the earth, on the cross and we will see Him in glory.  What a sight that will be!  Seeing the Lord Jesus gives hope and makes life worth living.



Meditation for the week of June 3, 2018

Friend or Betrayer?


Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him." Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed Him. But Jesus said to him, "Friend, why have you come?" Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him. (Matthew 26:48-50 NKJV)


What are the Characteristics of a Friend?

The definition of a friend usually involves the word loyalty.  Loyalty assumes your friend is one you can trust.  A friend is honest with you. Usually it goes without saying that friends like each other.  If we were to use the language of some of the detectives on TV, we would say that a friend is one who “has your back.”  They protect and support you even when you don't know that you need to be protected and supported.  They defend you from the criticism of others.  How many of us can say that we have friends like that?  How many of us are friends like that to others and to the Lord?


King David and Hushai

David had a friend in Jonathan, Saul's son.  Jonathon defended David when Saul wanted to kill him.  He “had David's back.”  But David also had a friend in Hushai.  He helped David defeat Absalom when Absalom tried to take David's place on the throne.  Again he “had David's back.”  He proved his loyalty. 


The Lord and Judas

Judas pretended to be the Lord's friend and the Lord even called him a friend.  I know there are differences of opinion as to just when Judas left the upper room the night when the Lord kept that last Passover with His disciples.  But in reading and re-reading the events in the Gospels, I cannot be sure if Judas was there when the Lord instituted the memorial feast that we call communion but which is more appropriately called the Lord's supper.  But I am reasonably sure that he was still there when the Lord washed the disciple’s feet.  Judas was given all the same power and privileges that the other disciples were given when they were commissioned to be his apostles.   Apparently he was able to cast out unclean spirits and to heal diseases.  Did the Lord know that Judas was a traitor?  Of course He did!  But I don't think that made his treachery as a friend any easier to bare.  I am convinced that the Lord wanted the friendship of Judas just as much as He wanted the friendship of the other eleven apostles.  But of course Judas was self-centered.  He was a thief.  He never “had the Lord's back.”  Friendship should be mutual.  But in Judas' case it wasn't.   The Lord was Judas' friend but Judas was not the Lord's friend.


Publicans and Sinners

The Lord was criticized for being the friend of publicans (tax collectors) and sinners.  Since we are all sinners, the Lord was actually being criticized for being the friend of those that the religious leaders called sinners.  This probably included some who were known for immoral lifestyles.  It certainly included the Samaritan woman who was not only a woman who had had numerous husbands but she was living with a man who was not her husband when the Lord met her in John 4.  She was also from the wrong heritage--she was a Samaritan whom the Jews despised.  But I think when all was said and done there was a mutual friendship between her and the Lord.  The Lord pointed out her sin and she realized He was the Messiah.  As a result, she became an evangelist.  I am sure that there was a bond that developed between her and the Lord.  We know a woman who was considered a sinner anointed the Lord with an alabaster box of ointment in Luke 7.  The Lord made friends of those that were unlovable.  We who are truly believers or trustors in the Lord Jesus are called his friends in John 15:15.  But we are only His friends if the friendship is mutual.  He died for us and we guard His truth (or keep His commandments).


Who is Really the Lord's Friend today?

Having Judas reject Him as a friend must have hurt the Lord greatly when the Lord did everything possible to obtain Judas' loyalty.  Now I know that the Lord knew how the story would end, but that doesn't mean that the Lord's desire to have a friendship with Judas wasn't real.  But I wonder how many of us have treated the Lord like Judas treated Him?  We may company with real Christians, we may preach the Gospel with power, we may do a lot of good for others but are we really doing it for us or are we doing it for the Lord?  I am convinced there are many people today who like Judas are simply using the Lord and who have never really loved the Lord.  I suppose some of them might actually be saved but many of them are total hypocrites and they know it.  I don't suppose that the other disciples really realized that they had a traitor in their company until the Lord pointed it out in the upper room when they kept the Passover supper.  He tried to tell His disciples that one of them was a devil in John 6:70, but I personally don't think that they "got it." 


Christians should not be critical, so it is hard to recognize a Judas until they do something drastic that demonstrates their true heart's condition.  But we need to recognize that there are people like that destroying the true beauty of the Gospel today.  They are not like Peter who admitted his mistake in denying the Lord but who was really the Lord's friend all the time and all the way.  These people who are the Judas's amongst us know what they are doing and we need to pray that we who are true disciples, do not encourage them in their evil plans to destroy the Gospel and the reputation of the Lord.



Meditation for the week of June 10, 2018

Father's Day


There are a number of things that I have been thinking about since the world tells us that Sunday is (or was) Father's day.  Now every day should be Father's day, just as every day should be Mother's day, Children's day, Family day, etc.  But since we are talking fathers, let us think about some things that fathers should do.  If we fathers did these things, likely our children would honor us although that is not always true.  The best Father in the world had rebellious children.  Isaiah the prophet records the words of Jehovah who said,  "I have nourished and brought up children, And they have rebelled against Me (Isaiah 1:2 NKJV).” Many of the verses I am thinking about deal with sons but I think we should think sons and daughters when we consider these verses.


Public Honor

The best Father in the world publicly honored His Son.  At the Lord's baptism which identified Him with sinful Israel, we read, “And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17 NKJV).'” Obviously, the Lord was not a sinner or the Father would not have said what He said.  Sometimes we Fathers are quick to criticize our children to others when maybe a little public praise would have been better.


Teaching Rebellion

In the ten commandments we read that a father's rebellion affects three or four future generations. The Lord says, “For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me. (Exodus 20:5 NKJV).”  Now we know that nationally sins committed by fathers affect those who come after them and often children end up in wars, plagues, and natural disasters that are the result of decisions made by their fathers.  But in a personal way this verse seems to indicate that Father's teach rebellion, and it can affect three or four generations following them.  Thank God, the next verse talks about mercy and loving kindness to many who do not follow in the “iniquity” of their fathers.  But Fathers do greatly affect the attitudes of their children, and their grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren. 


Sometimes a Father cannot Function as a Father

Our associations greatly affect our behavior.  When we who are saved are yoked with unbelievers, normally they don't start thinking like the believer, instead the believer starts thinking like the unbeliever.  As a result it makes it impossible for God to function as a Father to those who have become children of God by faith in the Lord Jesus. Before we are saved, we are sons of disobedience and children or the offspring of wrath according to Ephesians 2:2-3.  After we are saved we become offspring or children of God according to John 1:12.   But when we are allowing the unsaved world to counsel and “father” us, God cannot function as the Father that He wants to be.  We need to free ourselves from the wrong company so we can enjoy the blessing of having God “Father” us by teaching, disciplining, and nurturing us.


One of the Functions of a Father

Hebrews 12:7 says, “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten (Hebrews 12:7 NKJV)?”  The passage says that if we don't endure chastening as Christians then we are sons without a father, that is, we are not really saved.  Now chastening or discipline has to do with correction and with conditioning and not with the judicial penalty of sin.  Payment for sin in the sense of judicial punishment has been taken care of at the cross.  But we still need the correction of a Father.  And sometimes we need to be disciplined in a positive way so that we are prepared for the race that we are to run with patience in this chapter. 


The Father's Open Door

The Father of the prodigal son in Luke 15, waited patiently for His son “to come to himself” that is, to start thinking clearly.  When this son who had done so much to offend His father came home, the Father was waiting for him with an open door and with a feast and with joy.  Whether we have departed from God as believers or whether we are among those who have wandered away in unbelief, the Father has an open door policy and wants to welcome the prodigal home.


Practical Considerations

I wonder how many of us as fathers can say that we have used the best Father in the world as our model and guide?  This world would be a better place if we all had Fathers like the Lord had and like true believers have.  Wrath and anger would be a thing of the past.  Punishment that makes children “pay” for their sins would be gone forever.  Correction would be administered with love. Lessons would be learned through careful thoughtful discipline.  There would still be some rebellious children but at least they would know that they had a father who loved them.  They would also have a proper concept of who God is, because a father represents God to his children. 

Meditation for the week of June 17, 2018

Can we Miss our Purpose and Calling?


For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"  (Esther 4:14 NKJV)


The Story Line

The book of Esther deals with Jews who are still in exile in Babylon when the story unfolds although Babylon was now controlled by the Medes and the Persians.  Many of the Jews had gone back to Israel after the decree of Cyrus, the Persian king, had allowed it.  But many of the Jews stayed in foreign lands.  One could wonder if God would forsake his people who seemed content to live in the Persian empire after the formal captivity of the Jews had ended.  But this book makes it quite clear that the Lord was preserving and protecting all of His chosen people.  But in doing so, God had to design things so that a beautiful maiden girl would become Queen and would ultimately provide the means of saving the Jewish people from that “evil” Haman who was determined to have all people bow down to him.  Mordecai, the cousin and guardian of Esther, would not bow.  Because Mordecai would not bow down to him,Haman in anger wanted to destroy all of Mordecai's people.  Haman was an Agagite which may mean that he descended from some of the Amalekite kings (Agag seems to be a title much like Pharaoh or Caesar).  Amalekites were always enemies of the Jews.


Esther's Opportunity

When Haman began his evil designs to hang Mordecai and to destroy his people, Esther had not told the king she was Jewish.  However, her honeymoon was over because she had not been called into the king's presence for at least 30 days.  Coming into the king's presence uninvited meant death unless he held out a golden scepter to the uninvited guest.  Esther seemed to think that approaching the king could mean death for her but she was willing to submit herself to Mordecai and follow his instructions in order to save her people.  The words that most remember from the book of Esther are, “If I perish, I perish.”  She was willing to die trying to intercede for her people.  But I have noticed Mordecai's statement that if she wouldn't do what she had been given the opportunity to do, God would still save His people by other means.  However she and Mordecai would die.  Now I don't know how Mordecai knew that but He did.   He likely believed in God's plan to make Israel the centerpiece of a future kingdom which has still not been completely fulfilled.  He also likely knew of the temperament of this king.  What Haman did not know was that Mordecai had discovered a plot against the king that had saved the king's life.  That is why Haman's gallows was used on Haman and not on Mordecai as Haman had wanted.


Our Opportunity

People often ask me what my “gift” is?  I tell them that I just do whatever the Lord gives me the opportunity to do on any particular day whether I feel it is my personal gift or whether it isn't.  I know we are all given at least one spiritual gift when we trust the Lord for salvation.  Many people never use or develop that gift which means that people like me who are not “as gifted” have to do jobs others should be doing.  Now I don't know that we can say for certain that when we don't take our responsibilities seriously in this New Testament age that the Lord finds someone to do the job that we should have done, but I think that is the case.  The Lord is going to fulfill His prophetic promises.  He is going to bless the Gospel as it is faithfully preached.  He is going to build His church   If the Lord has called us to minister to the sick, if He has called us to shepherd His sheep, If he has called us to minister practically to the needs of those on the front lines, if He has called us to be missionaries, wouldn't it be a shame to miss the blessings associated with being in the right place at the right time as Esther was?  Esther counted the cost and decided that her calling was worth it. 


My prayer is that I never miss the joy of being available to the Lord and doing what He asks me to do even if that means doing that which others either cannot or will not do. 

Meditation for the week of June 24, 2018