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MARCH 2003

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Mark 7

36 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it;

37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

If the Lord had done some great miracle in your life, would you have been able to keep from telling others about it? In this passage, one who couldn’t hear and who thus couldn’t speak well was cured instantly of both problems. His friends had witnessed this miracle and just couldn’t keep quiet about it.

The Lord says that the water that He gives us will be a “well of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:14).” I think this kind of well pictures joy that just cannot be contained. Can you imagine telling someone who has just been miraculously healed to be quiet about it? I have marveled that the Lord often did just that. In the case of at least one leper, he needed to go home and let the priest pronounce him clean so that the Jewish people would have reason to believe in the miracle. However, normally those healed just could not follow the instructions.

A great miracle has been done in our lives if we are true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. We have passed from death unto life and from darkness to light. We who are sinners by nature and by practice are now called Saints (even though we haven’t completely quit the sinning). We who were on our way to an eternal hell are now on the way to an eternal heaven. All of this was made available as a gift. We didn’t need insurance, we didn’t need to sell the house, we didn’t need to borrow money from a bank and we didn‘t need to ask friends and relatives for financial help. Our salvation was free and it was immediate and it was liberating. It turned sorrow into joy, complainers into praisers, worshippers of things into true worshippers of the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ. We didn’t need the intellect of a rocket scientist but the simplicity of a child. This salvation took those of us with the spirit of disobedience and put in us the Spirit of Promise. We who had Sin as our Master now have Christ as our Lord and Savior. We who were children of wrath are now the children of God. The Lord asks us to tell others about this (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15). He had to disperse the early Christians through persecution to get them to do this. If we have really understood the wonder of what Christ has done for us and if we are truly delivered from the wrath to come, the Lord shouldn’t have to tell us to tell others. You would think He wouldn’t be able to stop us.

Week of March 2, 2003

Mark 8:36

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Apparently, the Lord knew all about income statements long before the accounting profession figured them out. Accountants say that an income statement should be for a particular named entity and for a particular length of time An income statement for a company as a whole is going to be interpreted differently than the income statement for one of the company’s divisions or product lines. An income statement for a year is going to be interpreted differently than an income statement for a week. The Lord has an income statement for each person in this world. He is keeping track of the profits during our lifetimes, so it is an income statement for the period beginning with birth and ending with death.

The Lord says if a person ends up with an income statement that has everything the world has to offer as the revenue, but the cost of that revenue is the soul, then the bottom line is red. The are several things that I see when the Lord produces this income statement.

The Lord doesn’t have to fudge the numbers. The numbers are recorded accurately and do not need to be audited. Enron and Arthur Anderson might fool the investing public but no one fools the Lord.

The reason that the loss is so great is because the revenues have value during time but the expenses have value for time and eternity. If we are careless with our souls (the eternal being) we are careless with something that is eternal. What we do with that soul is determined during our lifetimes but has eternal consequences.

A risk averter (avoider) would not take a chance with his soul since there is so little to gain (time) and so much to lose (eternity).

This parable is primarily for those considering whether salvation is important and real. However, it has application to Christian service as well. Jim Elliott, the missionary who was martyred by the  Auca Indians said, “He is no fool who gives what He cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”.

Our souls are eternal. Do we really want to be cast away from the presence of God for eternity when salvation is available as a free gift through the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23)?

Do those of us who have become children of God through the new birth realize that being commended and rewarded for faithfulness will have eternal value. Do we really want to squander our lives on things that are going to be burned up (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)?

I suspect that in the eternal state each of us is going to think back over our lives on earth and wonder why we put so much time and effort into things that had so little value and which produced no lasting profit.

Week of March 9, 2003

Mark 11

2 And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him.

3 And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.

4 And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him.

 

Have you noticed how this little colt, pictures the unsaved person? The colt or donkey is unclean by nature. So are we. The colt was tied on the outside of a door. That is the position of a sinner who is tied by sin outside of the blessing of God. Notice that the door was in a place where two ways met. We would call that a crossroads. That is the place where we have the opportunity to meet and serve the Lord. The chorus we sing with the children goes like this:

I met Jesus at the crossroads

Where the two ways meet.

Satan, too was standing there

And he said, “Come this way,

Lots and lots of pleasure

I will give to you today.”

But I said “No. There’s Jesus here,

See what He offers me.

Down here my sins forgiven,

Up there a home in heaven.

Praise God! That’s the way for me.”

Why should we respond to the Lord and travel the narrow way to heaven by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ when Satan offers so much on the broad way to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14)? One reason is that heaven with the Lord will be a much better place for eternity than eternal conscious punishment with unbelievers. But I am impressed with the fact that the Lord wanted to loose this colt because the Lord had need of him. Does the Lord really need anyone? He said that He could raise up children to Abraham using stones (Luke 3:8). He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10). He said that he could call twelve legions of angels to help Him (Matthew 26:53). He created the universe. Does He need us?

He says that he needed the little colt. I think that through this event He is telling us that He needs us as well. Just think of it, the God of heaven wants us to trust His Son so that He can use us. That makes each of us who are saved special in some way. The colt was used on one day that will never be forgotten during the Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. If you are unsaved today and the Lord is tugging at your heart, encouraging you to trust Him, perhaps you should think about the fact that the Lord would like to loose you from your sins so that He can use you in some special way. Wouldn’t that be great? For those of us who are truly the Lord‘s redeemed people, let us not miss the opportunity or opportunities that will surely be ours to be used of the Lord.

Week of March 16, 2003

John 16

20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.

22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

In this world, a lot of joy or supposed joy is turned into sorrow. We think we are in good health and then we get the news from the doctor that we are not. We start out on a road trip looking forward to a relaxing enjoyable time and then we have a car accident. Some have gone to night clubs recently and have ended up being hurt in fires that they couldn’t flee. We start out with great hopes and expectations in life and often end up feeling like Solomon, “all is vanity and vexation of spirit” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).

The Lord has the ability to reverse this process that has occurred because of sin. He turns sorrow into joy. For the disciples this happened at the resurrection. When the Lord was about to be crucified, His disciples were confused and filled with sorrow since this wasn’t the way they had expected things to turn out. When the Lord was seen by them after the resurrection we read, “Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20). This joy would never be taken from them.

In view of our current conflict in Iraq and in view of the sorrows that we read about daily in the papers, I do not understand how any person can go through life without the joy of the Lord filling them and encouraging them. We who are saved know that “the best is yet to come.” This life may have sorrow but, because the Lord was raised from the dead, we have confidence that we too will be raised to be with Him. John 14:19 gives us this promise, “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.”

The Psalmist has said, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Spiritually, our morning is associated with the return of our Lord. We are encouraged because “The night is far spent, the day is at hand (or close by, Romans 13:12).” We are in the darkness of the night of this dispensation but morning and its joy can’t be far away.

Week of March 23, 2003

Isaiah 55:1-2

1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy, and eat: yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price!

2 Wherefore do ye spend money for [that which is] not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye [that which is] good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.

How can we BUY without money and without PRICE? There have been times in my life when I wished I could do that. This invitation tells us that the salvation of God can be had for nothing (it is without price) but is worth everything (it is worth buying) and it satisfies completely. This is in contrast to the things that the world is selling. Of course, we can’t buy God’s salvation because if we were to try to buy it, the cost would be too high. Salvation is free to us even though it cost God everything.

Why does the Lord’s salvation bring such spiritual health and blessing?

1. Because it changes our minds so that we think right. We begin to understand the shortness of time and the length of eternity. We begin to understand the blackness of sin and its hold on us. We start to understand the life giving power of faith in the Lord. We begin to think the way God thinks instead of being deceived by Satan.

2. Because it changes our occupations so that we work right. We become witnesses and servants unto the Lord instead of slaves to sin. We no longer waste our efforts on things that do not last or satisfy.

3. Because it changes our destinies from hell to heaven so that we end up right. There is nothing to satisfy the lost soul in hell, not even a drop of water (Luke 16:24).

4. Because it changes who we are since we are now made right (or justified). Sinners become Saints. Sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2) become sons of God (John 1:12). It changes our identity and gives us dignity. Since children of God are children of a king, we become princes and princesses in the Kingdom of God.

5. In addition, it changes our appetites so that we live right. We begin occupying our minds and lives with that which is healthy. Instead of being lean we are nourished. The water that God is providing satisfies for ever and not just for a little while (John 4:14). The bread that He provides is like manna from heaven (John 6:31-35).

Everyone wants a good deal in the market place. Here is the best deal that has ever been offered. We who are saved bought for nothing something that was worth everything. We can certainly tell our friends about this deal because it is available to them as well.

Week of March 30, 2003