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the Lord Really Know Best?
3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own
wife was given a GPS system by our children. We recently left for an
extended trip to Texas so I updated all of the maps before leaving. We
have found this little gizmo to be quite marvelous. On our way to an out
of the way address in the Houston area, it took us right to the door. We
had the same experience in Orlando, Florida, during a trip there. We
wanted to find a little congregation of Christians, and we had the
address but didn't have a clue as to how to get there. I put the address
in the little machine and it started giving us directions. We turned
this way and that way and in a little over a half an hour we were right
at the doorstep of that little building.
as good this little invention is, I have a problem with it when I am
going somewhere that I have gone before. I find myself trusting my own
sense of direction instead of trusting the gizmo. We had been to the
area in Texas several years back that we were going to on this latest
trip. I was absolutely sure this invention was taking me too far south.
But I steeled myself and did what it said and it was right and I was
problems with my GPS system are similar to my problems in trusting the
Lord. Most of the time my "own understanding" gets in the way.
Before I was "born again," I found myself thinking I knew how
God should save me. When I finally trusted the Lord, I had come to a
point where as a lost sinner, I couldn't find my own way. At that point,
I was able to let the Lord tell me how to be saved. Being saved is easy.
The process of coming to the point where we trust the Lord rather than
ourselves is generally not easy.
addition to leaning on my own understanding, sometimes I ask somebody
who should know about the things of the Lord and they lead me astray. I
find that asking the wrong person for directions in a city where people
don't know their own neighborhoods can be disastrous. The same thing is
true when we ask the wrong people for spiritual directions. Today it is
possible ask people who have never trusted the Lord for guidance as to
how to trust Him. Some of them are not even sure that you can know for
sure that you are going to heaven. Some think the Bible contains the
Word of God but that some of the passages may not necessarily be the
very Word of God. Others say they are trusting the Lord and then they
"sell" the Gospel which is free. They use man's marketing
techniques to support what they call their ministries rather than
letting the Lord provide for them. We should certainly talk to other
spiritual people and get counsel from them, but it would be wise to make
sure that they themselves are trusting the Lord before we trust them. I
suspect we forget that our best approach to trusting the Lord and
letting him guide us is to pray and to study the Scriptures. Counsel
from others should agree with what we are convinced God is telling us in
has given us a road map when He gave us the Bible, and He has given us a
conscience. Using the two together with a prayerful attitude will get us
where the Lord wants us to go. Those who have never trusted the Lord for
salvation will find out that God loves sinners and that He provided
salvation at the cross. When they trust Him and lean not to their own
understanding they start for heaven. After we are saved we need to learn
over and over again that our own understanding will get us into trouble
Spiritually. The Lord will not guide us wrong if we trust Him. However,
often His way just doesn't seem like the right way. But it always is, I
for the week of March 7, 2010
Bible Uses Four Letter Words!
3:7 "Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'
birth of a healthy baby is usually a joyful experience. There is a
moment of conception after which there is growth within the womb of the
mother. Then comes the time of delivery. Usually that involves a certain
amount of pain. With love, care and nurture, the baby begins to grow
outside of the womb of the mother. There is growth before the delivery
and there is growth after the delivery, but there is a point of
new birth is much like a physical birth. People hear the Word of God and
when it falls on good ground, the Word takes root. The Gospel causes the
person to think about eternity. Before the person is
"delivered," they will experience the pain of conviction of
sin. A young person will not understand sin the way an older person
will, and all people are not convicted of all sins. But all people find
out that they are sinners and that they are lost. They have to come to
the realization that they cannot find their own way into the kingdom nor
can they save themselves. When a person comes to the point where they
look away from themselves to Christ for salvation, they get peace with
God by trusting in the truth that Christ died, was buried, and was
raised again the third day to put away their sins. They are then
"delivered" from the penalty of eternal conscious punishment
that we all deserve because we are sinners who sin.
a person be "born again" and not remember the event? The Bible
says that we MUST be born again or born from above. How can we know that
we are born again if we don't remember it? The process of being born
again is sometimes likened to a lost sheep or to a lost son being found.
I once worked with an older preacher who would ask those who said they
were saved or born again what it was like to find out that they were
lost. Most people who have gotten so completely lost that someone else
had to find them and lead them home will remember that experience.
new birth also is likened to being saved. Salvation is deliverance from
danger while the new birth is deliverance for a new life with the Lord.
If a person were drowning and a lifeguard saved them, do you think they
would remember that? I am reasonably sure that they would.
new birth requires us to repent in order to believe. That involves a
change in mind. We need to find out that God is right and we are wrong
on any issue that is keeping us from trusting the Lord. Our issue may
have to do with whether there is a God, or we may resist the truth that
we are sinners who deserve to be banished from God in hell and
ultimately the Lake of Fire, eternally. It may have to do with whether
baptism or good works save which they do not. That is why we are
commanded to repent and to believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15). I think most
people know when they change their minds about important things.
we believe, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). Many of
us wondered why the Bible seemed to come alive when we were saved and
why the promises of God seemed so fresh and reliable. Many of us didn't
know that we had been sealed by the Holy Spirit, but things changed
because we now had the Holy Spirit within us guiding us and teaching us.
I personally remember that change.
the new birth is a MUST, it is necessary for us to know that we have
been born again. The new birth involves a new life, but sometimes it is
difficult to know the difference between reformation and regeneration.
Many people who have never claimed to know the Lord or to be born again
have changed their lives, but the regenerated person changes because of
a new love for the Lord. Nicodemus in John 3 was born again. It was
evidenced ultimately by his love for the Lord and his willingness to
publicly confess that love as he helped bury the Lord.
know that there are things that happen in our lives that we don't
remember very well in later life. I don't remember my baptism as well as
I remember the day I was saved. But I do remember both. I cannot read
hearts and I don't decide who is born again and who isn't, but I do know
that if a person is going to be in heaven, there was a new birth
experience in their life. I know that because the new birth is a MUST.
Many people tell me that they are born again but that they don't
remember how it happened. While that may be possible, I personally
wouldn't trade places for five minutes with anyone who truly believes
that they are going to heaven but who cannot remember their new birth
for the week of March 14, 2010
Graciousness of God's Grace
2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.
two thousand years ago a baby was born in Bethlehem to Mary who had
never been married nor had she been immoral. The baby was called Jesus
because he would save His people from their sins. This baby grew to
manhood and proved that He was the Son of God as well as the Son of Man.
He was rejected by His people and died on a cross. While on that cross
He cried, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do
(Luke 23:34)." He was the grace of God that brings salvation and He
has appeared to all men.
is favor that is freely offered. Grace often expresses the love of the
person offering it to the person receiving it. It is not earned nor
deserved. It is a gift. Grace can be manifested by showing mercy or by
pardoning someone. But grace is not the norm in this world. In this
world we have wars, we believe in defending ourselves, and we talk about
getting all that we deserve. We are in an economic system that
encourages greed and we call it competition. Our political system, which
is the best humans can offer, is still a self-centered system that is
filled with corruption. When we see someone who manifests grace in their
lives, we tend to notice that person because grace makes them very
attractive and quite different.
grace of God has appeared to all men. While the Lord was born in
Bethlehem, His appearance was not designed to be just for Jews. He
offers Himself to Jews and Gentiles (non-jews), rich and poor, rulers
and servants, male and female. He appeared to provide salvation for all
men. Many argue that not all men have heard about Him so He hasn't
appeared to all men. But I do know that those who seek Him find Him even
if they are from "darkest Africa." In Acts 8 the Ethiopian
Eunuch who was from Africa was searching for the Lord and went to
Jerusalem to find Him. The Lord gave Him the scroll of Isaiah and then
sent him an evangelist while he was traveling back home. He was reading
Isaiah 53 from the scroll when Philip the evangelist found him, and
Philip was given the privilege of explaining Isaiah 53 to him. This man
became a recipient of the grace of God and he was from "darkest
am so glad that I was born in new testament times rather than in old
testament times. In the old testament, there seems to be an emphasis on
God's righteous judgment of sin rather than upon His grace. Yet because
the Israelites so often were unfaithful and because men seemed to be so
wicked, when God's grace was shown, it was so undeserved that it glows
like a perfect diamond on a black velvet cloth. Noah found grace in the
eyes of the Lord (Genesis 6:8). I suspect this is saying that He had
trusted in Jehovah and had received grace because of it. Joseph realized
that he was sent to Egypt by brothers who hated him in order to be a
deliverer for His family. He saved them when he could have destroyed
them (Genesis 45:8, 50:20). Rahab the prostitute was shown favor because
she believed God and hid the messengers sent as spies when Jericho was
to be destroyed (Joshua 6:25). She didn't deserve the grace shown to her
even though her faith was evidenced by what she did.
in the book of Ruth, is another of example of God's grace. Moab was a
descendent of Lot by incest and Ruth was a Moabitess so she had the
wrong father (Genesis 19:37). She symbolizes us. We are born in sin and
we need to be born again. Moabites were traditionally the enemies of
Israel. When she embraced the God she learned about through her
mother-in-law, she is shown grace or favor in the land of Israel. One of
the most remarkable verses in the Bible is found in Ruth 2 when Boaz
takes an interest in her. She says in verse 10, "Why have I found
favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a
foreigner?" God gave her the privilege of being King David's
is like the scent of lilacs in the spring. It is like the first robin
that appears after a long winter. It is like a cool breeze on a hot
night. It is that drink of cold water on a hot day. It is the voice of a
friend telling you that they love you. It is refreshing.
of us who are saved have any reason to be proud. We are only sinners
saved by grace. We are not special people who deserve to be saved, but
salvation makes us special in God's eyes because we have believed in His
Son and have become recipients of His grace.
for the week of March 21, 2010
the Donkey instead of a Horse?
9:9 "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of
Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having
salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.
the Sunday before the Lord's crucifixion, he made what is often called
His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. By doing this he publicly declared
Himself to be the Messiah predicted in the old testament. He had proved
Himself to be the Son of God through the miracles that he had done,
particularly by the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead in John 11.
But He had not allowed the disciples to publicly declare Him to be the
Messiah before this event. He commanded His disciples in Matthew 16:20
to tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.
why did he enter Jerusalem on a donkey rather than on a horse? It was
necessary because that was what the prophet predicted, but why did the
prophet predict that? I think it was because the Lord was coming to
offer peace and not to make war. Apparently, a donkey was considered a
noble animal and a king that was coming in peace rode one. But a King
that was making war would usually ride a horse. That is what most
scholars that I have read seem to think. That makes sense because the
Lord is coming on a white horse in Revelation 19:11 and in that passage
He comes to make war.
Lord is called the Prince of Peace in Isaiah 9:6. He tells his disciples
that he has come to give them peace in John 16:33. The world does not
provide peace but the Lord does. He provides peace that passes
understanding in Philippians 4:7.
the nation of Israel did not want peace, they wanted war. They did not
want someone who came without an army and without weapons. They did not
want someone whose purpose was to save rather than to destroy. They
wanted someone like Barrabus who had resisted the Romans. He was in jail
for insurrection (Mark 15:7). I am afraid that we still live in a world
like that today. I don't think the world is ready for a true man of
peace. The Lord was rejected within a week of making His so-called
triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and yet He won by losing. He got the
victory by dying. This is a lesson that is well-worth noting. Violence
only begets violence. The one who lives by the sword dies by the sword
the nation of Israel rejected the Prince of Peace, individuals have
received Him by believing in Him (John 1: 12). They have accepted His
offer of peace. Sinners who are God's enemies by nature, have been
reconciled to God through the death of the Lord (Romans 5:10) when they
trust in Him.
is a wonderful thing. We remember with great joy when peace came at the
end of the World Wars. But do we also remember the peace that we got
when we trusted in Christ? Some have described that peace as having a
burden roll away. Being reconciled to God and realizing that you are
saved for eternity is a great relief. We who are saved have found out
that the sin for which we should have been punished has been punished on
the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). What a
relief it was to find that our sin debt had been forgiven, that the
enmity between us and God was now gone, and that we were not condemned
and never would be. We had peace.
wonder what kind of a Palm Sunday most of us have had? Some of us have
the peace that God offers and some of us do not. But just like Israel,
we have all been offered that peace. Did we pass through another Palm
Sunday learning about Him but not trusting in Him? Or are enjoying the
peace of God that passes all understanding?
for the week of March 28, 2010