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MARCH 2008

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Mark 5:27-28

When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, "If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well."

What was meant by the fact that this woman "touched" His clothes? There had to be people in that crowd who had touched him just because they were thrust up against him by the jostling of the crowd. This is not what was meant. There had to be people who grabbed a hold of Him in some way to get his attention. They certainly made contact with Him but they didn't "touch" Him. Then there was the woman who knowingly touched just His garment, and Jesus knew right away that someone had "touched" Him. He asks, "Who touched my clothes?" Since Jesus is God and God is all knowing, He obviously knew who had touched Him but He wanted to draw attention to the contact she made with Him in contrast to the contacts that many others likely had made. Because she "touched" Him, she was healed of her illness immediately. What was different about her touch?

She had a need that she knew the Lord could do something about. Her touch was evidence of her sincere confidence that He could do what she knew she needed Him to do. Her touch was not casual or just so she could say she had touched Him and perhaps sell her story to the local gossip columnists. Her contact was the result of her faith.

Our relationship with the Lord is much like that. There are many people who say that they believe in God and what they mean is that they believe that there is a God but they have never "touched" Him. Then there are those who say that God has provided His Son to die for them and to bear away their sin. They know He did it but it is not real to them personally. They have not "touched" Him either. Then there are those who knowing that they are sinners, also know that Christ has the right and power to save them by forgiving their sins and they "touch" Him by faith. They trust Him and they are truly saved. These have "touched" the Lord much like the lady with the issue of blood did in this story.

Some people have a headache and they know that taking an aspirin will cure the headache. Knowing that aspirin works won't cure the headache, however. Buying aspirin and having it available won't cure the headache, either. A person might say that they have confidence in the aspirin in both cases. But when one takes the bottle and takes the aspirin tablets out of the bottle and swallows them with a glass of water, that is when the aspirin tablets are able to cure the headache. They are then like people who have "touched" the Lord and by faith have received the benefit of the death of Christ at the cross.

We can believe God is, and we can believe that God is able. But until we have faith in the promise that "he who believes in Him is not condemned (John 3:18)," we haven't "touched" the Lord and His virtue or power does us no good. And I think it is wonderful that the moment this woman's actions evidenced her confidence in the Lord by her "touching" Him, He knew immediately that she had touched Him and that His virtue (not hers) had healed her.

I remember when I reached out and "touched" Him, do you? I have also found out since trusting Christ for salvation, that the life of the Christian gives us the opportunity to tap into the power of God for our problems in life. But we can't just say that we are trusting Him, we need to actually trust Him, that is, we need to "touch" Him, to receive the benefit of the promises He has made.

Meditation for the week of March 2, 2008

Numbers 9:17 Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, after that the children of Israel would journey; and in the place where the cloud settled, there the children of Israel would pitch their tents.

I have friends with GPS systems in their cars. Some of the systems are very sophisticated and will guide them around traffic congestion and will tell them just how many feet it is until the next turn. However, they have to trust them and they have to obey the instructions for the the systems to be useful. I have a friend who didn't think the directions from his system were making sense and went the way he "thought was right". He ended up in a traffic jam. Many of us do that in spiritual things. The Bible says in Proverbs 16:25, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." Using God's GPS requires us to depend on what He says and to obey what He has said in His Word. Then God's Piloting System will not fail us. Many people miss out on God's salvation because they do not let God do the piloting.

Some of us have had the joy of being in the right place at the right time and knowing that God has used us to speak for Him or to minister to sheep in His flock. But when we were used in that way, we were using God's Piloting System. In Acts 9, Philip used the system and saw an influential man traveling in a chariot saved and baptized. In Acts 16, Paul used the system and instead of going into Asia Minor or Turkey with the Gospel, he got his Macedonian call and went to Greece. In Acts 16, twice Paul tried to go where he thought he should go and he was stopped. Then when his heart burn kept him from sleeping soundly and he got his vision of the man from Greece wanting his help, Paul knew right away why he wasn't allowed to go to Turkey. Sometimes God's Piloting System says set up camp and wait. Other times it tells us to get moving.

Sometimes a closed door or unfavorable circumstances can be interpreted as Satan's resistance to a Godly project or it can be interpreted as God's resistance to an ungodly project. An open door or favorable circumstances can be interpreted as God's blessing or as Satan trying to deceive us into taking the easy way instead of the hard way. So how are we to read God's Piloting System?

I believe that when the Lord is guiding there will be a burning desire that can't be forgotten placed in our hearts with regard to the work we are called to do. The old testament prophets had "burdens". Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:16, "Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!" Overseers should desire the work that they are called to do (1 Timothy 3:1). Then of course we need to pray about it and we need to make sure that what we want to do is Scriptural. We may want to talk to others about it, but in our day there are not very many people who are giving spiritual advice with regard to how to serve the Lord. Many are giving advice that "makes sense." God's way often does not make sense. It doesn't make sense that the Gospel should be a free gift. It doesn't make sense that sometimes God sends us to do works that do not appear to be productive. When Isaiah finally got himself cleansed and consecrated in Isaiah 6, he was willing to volunteer for duty. The Lord told him to go but warned him that the people wouldn't listen and that from a natural point of view, his mission was doomed to failure. Even the Lord's disciples were told that the servant is not better than his master and that they would experience the same rejection that the Lord was experiencing (Matthew 10:25).

When we use the Lord's GPS, sometimes others will encourage our work, other times they will discourage us. Sometimes our work will seem successful while other times it will seem like we failed. Sometimes we will be camped and sometimes we will be on the move. But we will be where we are supposed to be when we are supposed to be there, and we will know the joy that comes from being used by the Lord to advance His kingdom.

Meditation for the week of March 9, 2007

Mark 14:14-16

"Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says, "Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?"' Then he will show you a large upper room, furnished and prepared; there make ready for us." So His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found it just as He had said to them; and they prepared the Passover.

Often when we travel, people invite us to their homes. If we have never been there before, they tell us how to get there and what to expect when we arrive. My experience is that there is a COIK fallacy in the directions given. The COIK fallacy says that directions are Clear Only If Known. That is they are perfectly clear to the person giving the directions but quite frequently they are not so clear when we are following the directions. Often when we arrive at the house that we think is our destination we say, "That looks like the place." Sometimes the place that we are looking at is the place and sometimes it is not.

When the Lord gave directions, they were easy to follow because he sent a man ahead to lead the disciples to this upper room. When they arrived, everything was just as they had been told. There was no COIK fallacy.

The Lord has invited us to a place where we have never been before and He has given us written directions as to how to get there. The place where we are invited is called THE FATHER'S HOUSE. We read about that place in John 14:2. Our instructions for getting there are given in verse 6. No one comes to the Father except through the Lord Himself. We must trust Him if we are going to have access to His Father's house. The Lord has prepared a place for us by dying at the cross of calvary. He has sent the Holy Spirit into world to guide us so we won't get lost. But when we get to the Father's house, what will the Father's house be like? I believe it will be just like He has told us.

In Luke 15 we read about the Father's house in the story of the prodigal son. It was a place where a sinner who repented was received with joy while a righteous son who believed he never did anything wrong would not enter. For the prodigal, it was a place of rejoicing. It was where he got a kiss, a robe, a ring, shoes and a party. It was a happy place for the son who knew he didn't deserved to be there, but it was a sad place for the son who thought he had been cheated out of the reward that he deserved because he had tried so hard. From a natural stand point, I understand what the elder son felt. The problem is that he didn't understand that he didn't always obey either. He had been asked to join the party by his Father and "he would not." He didn't realize that he also was rebellious, but his rebellion was of a different kind than his brother's.

I often wonder what heaven or the Father's house will be like. Will it be like we expect? It appears to be a vacation wonderland in Revelation 22. I know we will enjoy good company because the redeemed of the Lord will be there. There will be good conversation because we will be talking about the Lord and the wonderful things that he did in our lives so that we would be convinced of His love and end up in that place. Best of all the Lord will be there.

I believe that whether we end up there by the avenue of death or whether we end up there because of the rapture, the Father's house will seem like home to us. When the disciples got to the upper room they "found it just as He had said to them." When we get to heaven, I believe we will also find it just as He has said to us.

Meditation for the week of March16, 2008

Deuteronomy 8:2 "And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not."

The children of Israel had been wandering for forty years in the wilderness. They are now about to enter the promised land and wars are about to be fought. They need to be encouraged and so Moses does this by reminding them of the great things God has done for the nation. Those who are younger than forty years old will not have remembered the night when the children of Israel were thrust out of Egypt because the first born of Egypt had died. They will not remember feeling boxed in by the Red Sea when the Egyptians changed their minds about letting them go and began pursuing them. They will not have remembered how the Red Sea opened up and became a means of deliverance for Israel and a means of destruction for the army of Egypt. They will not have remembered standing at the mountain that burned with fire and having God speak to the nation from the mountain. But they need to know that heritage in order to believe that the same God who did these miracles for their parents, will do great things for them. Those who were twenty when these things happened would be sixty years old now. They too needed to be reminded of these things though they experienced them in their youth and in many cases would remember them. The fighting men who were older than twenty when they failed to go into the land the first time have now all died except for Caleb and Joshua and Moses. There may be some women who are older than sixty in the congregation but by and large a new generation needed to be reminded of its heritage.

We are told not to live in the past. But the past contains lessons for the future. When we cease to remember where we have come from, we will be more likely to repeat the mistakes of the past. If we are acquainted with the great things that God has done for us and our forefathers in the past, it will encourage us to believe that he can do great things for us in the future.

Many of us have stories that we could and should share with a new generation. Missionaries have written memoirs so that others can be encouraged by the great things that God has done for them. They have included their hardships so that those who come along behind them are not surprised when difficulties arise. Most of us would not consider ourselves missionaries, but we have likely seen the Lord intervene in our lives in miraculous ways that have convinced us of the practical reality and presence of the Lord at those times. We need to share those experiences with a younger generation so that they will be encouraged to be faithful to the Lord. We don't share those experiences to promote or exalt ourselves but to encourage a younger generation to step out in faith on the God we trust.

Remembering can be good. The new generation needed to remember that God blessed the nation when they were obedient and that even Miriam, Moses sister, was judged when she became self-willed (Numbers 12:10).

Easter reminds us that our Saviour lives and that He is coming again. The Lord's Supper reminds us that we have a Savior who didn't ask us to die for Him for us to be saved, but rather He died for us so that we could be saved. We need to tell the stories of our conversions from time to time to remind ourselves and others that God does love us personally. We need to share the stories of the great things God has done for us so that our children will not get discouraged when the spiritual path of obedience and devotion to the Lord gets tough. The God who has done great things in the lives of our forefathers and who has done great things in our lives, is the the same God that can and will do great things in the lives of our children if they will just commit their way to Him (Psalm 37:5).

Meditation for the week of March 23, 2008

Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

Reading the Bible seems like such an outdated activity. Our grandparents may have done it, but the rest of us seem to have progressed to material that is more current, more popular and more interesting. But there is a blessing associated with reading the Bible and a special blessing is associated with reading the book of Revelation. The psalmist says that reading the Word of God gives light or understanding if we actually think about the words we are reading (Psalm 119:30). Paul says hearing the Word of God will produce saving faith (Romans 10:17).

While reading the Bible is not popular in many settings, criticizing the Bible is very popular. I was privileged recently to be involved in a college level debate dealing with whether science and faith can coexist. And of course what was meant was, "Can faith in the God of the Bible coexist with faith in science?" What was interesting, however, was the willingness of the students to criticize a Bible they had never completely read. I could understand that in other settings, but colleges are supposed to teach students how to learn and how to think critically which means that they are supposed to research their positions and facts. Of course, that wasn't true of all of those who had dismissed the Bible. One rather vocal young man said that we should all read the Bible because it would make atheists out of us like it did him. I don't think he had done a statistical sample of those who were atheists to see if that was true but he claimed to be a scientist and a critical thinker.

I have read the Bible for many years and I like what I read. I believe that ultimately we all believe what we want to believe. And I want to believe the Bible. Those who question it have not proven to me that it is wrong nor have they given me anything better to believe. I can give evidence that supports the truth of the Bible, but I can't prove that it is in all respects true either. I believe that it is true based on inductive reasoning. If I do business with a person that keeps their promises every time i do business with them, then I will likely believe that the next time I do business with them that they will keep their promises. That is inductive reasoning. It is that type of reasoning that gives me confidence in the Bible. When I realize that the Bible describes things about me that I have never told my closest friends, when I look at the prophetic Word and see how precisely it was fulfilled in the Lord's first coming, when I see how the book of Revelation completes the unfinished seventh day of the book of Genesis that has no evening or morning mentioned, then I have good reason to believe that this Bible is the very Word of God. That is inductive reasoning, and we who are saved call it faith.

I am convinced that reading the Bible with an open mind will bless us. I am convinced that reading the book of Revelation will be especially encouraging since it promises us that Christ is coming again and that He will defeat his enemies. He is not defeated like it appeared He was when He was crucified. I want to believe that I have a place in heaven and that no matter what happens here on earth, I have a better home to look forward to. I want to believe that and so far no one has given me anything better to believe. Until they do, I am going to trust in the Word of God, and I am going to keep reading and rereading it. I believe that trusting in the Creator God who wrote the Bible and sent His Son to pay the penalty that my sin deserved is the wise and intelligent thing to do.

Meditation for the week of March 30, 2008