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to Archived Meditations
104:9 You have set a boundary that they (the waters) may not pass over,
That they may not return to cover the earth.
daughter has a very young excitable lovable puppy. This puppy can be
told to "stay" and she will lay down and "stay" for
a few minutes. But she keeps her eye on whoever has told her that and
starts creeping forward a little at a time. Her purpose is to get close
enough to jump up and lick the face of the person who has told her to
stay. She knows what "stay" means but has no intention of
"staying". She certainly doesn't understand the concept of
boundaries connected with personal space. Some people really do not like
having their faces licked by a dog. People's boundaries are often just
as elastic as this puppy's seem to be, particularly when it comes to the
boundaries given to us in the Bible.
I read the old testament history of the children of Israel, I find that
God was clear that their boundaries were important. Because of the need
to protect inheritances given to families, some things that were
permissible generally, were not permissible in specific families. One
family only had daughters and they had to marry within their family so
that their inheritance would not pass to men in another family (See
Numbers 26). Obviously, the application would seem to be that if we
really want to preserve the blessings that God has given us, we must not
go beyond the bounds set for everyone, but we may need to abide by a
higher standard than others with regard to our personal boundaries. For
example, it is certainly permissible and even honorable to marry, but
some people may choose to remain single so that marriage and its
responsibilities are not a distraction to them in serving the Lord.
was a man who like my daughter's puppy kept creeping beyond the
boundaries given to him. When I read of him in Numbers starting at
chapter 22, I could wonder if he wasn't a saved person (using new
testament terminology). He knew the mind of the Lord. He talked to the
Lord. He prophesied things that were correct about the coming Messiah.
However, when we read about him in the new testament, he was obviously
an unsaved evil person. Jude 1:11-12, says, "Woe to them! For they
have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam
for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. These are spots in
your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only
Balaam could not curse the children of Israel, he did know how to defeat
them. He knew that if he got them to violate their boundaries and if the
men got involved with the Moabite and Midianite women, then they would
also get involved with those nation's gods. And so while he didn't curse
them, he did want the money and prestige that went with using his
prophetic ability to please men and not God. This is a frightening
passage. How many preachers appear to have a Word from the Lord, when
they really do not love the Lord or His people?
God has set social boundaries, boundaries for the local church, and
personal boundaries. In Genesis, God divided light from darkness. That
principle is seen in the new testament by the believer being
"separate" from the unbeliever (2nd Corinthians 6:14-18). We
can't (or shouldn't) worship together, intermarry, or get into business
with unbelievers. We shouldn't be in any relationship where the
decisions we make would be morally different if we weren't in the
when I listen to people interpreting the Bible, particularly with regard
to things that they wish weren't in the Bible, I see "puppy
creep!" People know that the unsaved are often not living right,
but the way they live seems to have a certain attraction. The carnal
churches of our day grow so much faster that the ones that believe that
the church exists to please the Lord even when that doesn't please us.
But when confronted with an issue, we tend to ask, "What's wrong
with doing it that way?" The better question would be "What is
right with it?" or "How does the Lord feel about that?"
has boundaries. Do we know what they are? Do we have any
"stops" beyond which we personally cannot go? Two-year-old's
have very few boundaries, but we should not be acting like
two-year-olds. We should not be acting like Balaam or like my daughter's
puppy. The boundaries we have should be boundaries that God has given us
and not man, but once we are convinced as to where those boundaries are,
we should not do a "puppy creep."
for the week of March 6, 2011
we Really Wasting our Lives and Resources?
14:3-4 And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat
at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil
of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. But
there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, "Why
was this fragrant oil wasted?
took what may have been the equivalent of a year's wages and wasted it
by anointing the Lord with spikenard that had that value. Judas at the
same time seemed to think that he could profit from the Lord's ability
to deliver himself and he did what any prudent capitalistic business man
would do. He sold the Lord for the price of a slave. Why should he not
capitalize on the Lord's abilities without regard to where those
abilities came from and without regard to the Lord's reasons for using
those abilities? Mary went down in history as being devoted to the Lord
and her devotion is included in many good Gospel sermons. Judas
committed suicide. He is also included in many good Gospel sermons as an
illustration of what not to do.
Lord says that if we save our lives we lose them and if we lose our
lives we save them. Everything seems backward to the person who does not
love the Lord or believe in life after death. There are many who think
that since we really don't "know" what happens when we die, we
should live for the here and now. Otherwise they think that we may be
wasting these short lives that we have been given.
we got up in the morning to the news that Japan had been devastated by
an earthquake (actually multiple earthquakes and a resulting tidal
wave). In Japan many people work long hours in order to "get
ahead". There were many people who had likely planned out their
lives and were working hard at fulfilling their dreams who are now in
eternity. I wonder if they feel that their lives were meaningful or
wasted now that things have taken an unexpected turn. There were others
who likely understood that spiritual things should take precedence over
practical things and who prepared for the unexpected events that
occurred. If they died in the calamity of last week, at least they
didn't waste the time that God had given them on this earth to prepare
to meet their God.
people seem to think that life is mostly about eating and drinking,
clothing ourselves, having shelter from the elements and having a little
fun along the way. Others want to amass great wealth, even though they
leave it all behind when they die. Some like King Solomon search for
great wisdom and understanding, however, that wisdom and understanding
is often wasted since the younger generation is going to "live
their own lives" and "make their own mistakes" anyway.
The older generation has unwisely taught them that this is right. People
generally don't want to waste their time on eternal matters since they
are busy trying to live for the here and now even though they know that
living for the here and now is really a frustrating waste of time.
Spending our time on spiritual matters and devoting our time to things
that please the Lord and that don't please the world is not a waste of
time—when we realize that we have an eternity ahead.
have a friend who is an artist. He has been able to chronicle his and
his wife's lives by displaying his art work in two rooms and adding the
important biographical information with each picture or set of pictures.
He has accomplished a lot and yet it is all contained in about two rooms
at the college where he taught. About ten years ago, he took the time to
begin studying the Bible. I am sure that to many that would be an
incredible waste of time when he still had the ability to paint
pictures, write poems, and produce sculptures. Studying the Bible took
time that he could have used to do "something really
important." But I suspect, when life is over and he meets his
Maker, the time in the last ten years "wasted" on the Bible
and spiritual things will turn out to be the most important and
profitable part of these last ten years.
would much rather waste my money like Mary did that to waste my life
like Judas did.
for the week of March 13, 2011
to Think About!
Timothy 1:4-5 Greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears,
that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine
faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and
your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.
organizations are not writing about looting in Japan after their major
earthquake and subsequent tidal waves. It certainly was a problem after
hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. It may be true that the press is more
controlled in Japan but because the US has news reporters in the area,
it is hard to believe that they would not report massive looting if it
were happening. Why is it that the Japanese seem to be more civil in
this area than most in Western Christian Cultures are? Why is it that
families in our so-called Christian nation who are not inclined to be
"religious" often demonstrate Christian virtues that many who
claim to be Christians do not?
received an email recently that linked looting in our society to the
fact that we have taken the Bible and prayer out of public schools. It
is true that American society has deteriorated since that has happened,
but is that the reason that society has deteriorated? I doubt that the
Japanese have taken the Bible out of their public schools because likely
it was never there. I am quite certain that they have never read the
Bible in their public schools. They may have taught it as part of
history or as classical western literature. Why does a secular society
like Japan act like Christians should act, and why do the so-called
Christian nations act so unchristian-like when disasters like this
occur? In fairness to our society, looting is not done by the majority
and there is a lot of altruism shown by people affected by the
calamities, but we certainly have a large minority that uses peoples'
misery to make matters worse.
would like to suggest that taking prayer out of public school is a
"straw man" that we have used to excuse the break down in
society so that we who have caused it do not have to take responsibility
for it. The responsibility for teaching our children about the Lord and
about character choices does not lie with the schools or with the
teachers or with our churches or church leaders or Sunday school
teachers. These can all be a help or a hindrance to be sure, but the
responsibility for teaching our children lies with parents and
grandparents. It lies with the family. In Deuteronomy 6, Moses commanded
the Israelite's to make the commands of the Lord a part of their every
day life. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, "And these words which I command
you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to
your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when
you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." I
wonder if those children wouldn't have considered their parents to be
obsessed with this one subject. How many of us as parents can honestly
say we have taken this responsibility seriously? Some parents obviously
do, but by and large our Christian society has taken the Bible and
prayer out of the home, and we have replaced it with entertainment. I
suspect that most of our conversations in the home are about
"getting ahead", our jobs or businesses, our clubs and
parties, politics, sports, music and movies, and maybe even about church
activities. I suspect that very little of it is really about the Bible
and the Lord.
don't know what the Japanese are doing right, and I don't know that I
would want to live in their society. However, if the Word of God is
going to keep us from sinning, if the Word of God is going to cause us
to fear God, if the Word of God is going to be our guide, we are going
to have to read it with our children and talk about it with out
children. For the most part I would like to suggest that the breakdown
in our society and family life is because the Bible and prayer has been
taken out of our homes rather than because the Bible and prayer has been
taken out of public school. As a society, we are not developing our
children into mature adults who realize that they need to take personal
responsibility for their actions. Some seem to think that there are no
consequences to their sins. Is that because the entertainment world and
not the Bible has developed their standard of behavior? In addition, the
virtues of Christianity are not always modeled by their parents and by
other mentors who claim to be Christians!
suspect that the Japanese fear "losing face" rather than
fearing God. It would be better if they were taught to fear God which is
what we need to teach our children. That means that they should have a
reverential awe for Him even if they are not yet believers in Him, but
it also means that they need to fear the consequences of sin. This might
not solve society's problems but it would surely be a step in the right
for the week of March 20, 2011
Thessalonians 5:20-22: Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold
fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.
many preachers claim to be prophets in the modern day sense. A modern
day prophet is one who speaks for God just like old testament and new
testament prophets did. The difference is that today we have the new
testament epistles to help guide us in knowing whether a prophet is
really speaking for God or whether he is misleading the people.
are not to despise prophets. I believe that means we are not to despise
those who publicly preach the truth that the Lord would be proclaiming
Himself if He were here. Some of that truth is truth that we like and
some of it is truth that we don't like.
religious circles right now, there is a popular author who says he is
rethinking the concept of hell. He is telling people what they want to
hear. He is selling books and making money and influencing people. Those
who believe that hell is on earth as he is teaching will one day find
out that they didn't test what he said against the word of God. They
held fast to that which is bad rather than to that which is good. They
will find themselves in this hell that they said did not exist. God says
that there is a place of eternal torment where those who have rejected
Christ go after they die. If according to this modern thinking, that
makes God a mean God and not a God of love, then I wouldn't want to
cross this mean God and get on His bad side. He says that people who
"do not believe" have his wrath abiding on them (John 3:36).
the God who has revealed Himself to me through His written word, IS a
God of love. He has shown that to be true through the death, burial and
resurrection of Christ. The Lord was willing to suffer "the just
for the unjust" so that sinners can go righteously free. If people
reject that awesome sacrifice, I personally believe that God has the
right to be angry. Unbelievers will have crossed Him and gotten on His
issue that often comes up has to do with whether or not God intends for
everyone to be saved from that real eternal place of torment. While I
understand that the majority of adults who hear the Gospel will not be
saved because they will reject the Lord Jesus, I still believe that God
wants everyone to be saved and provides salvation so that all can be
saved. I believe that Judas could have been saved. God called him the
son of perdition because he knew his heart. He knew that Judas would
"use" the Lord to make some money rather than "trust the
Lord" in order to be saved. He didn't cause Judas to be like that,
but He knew Judas would be like that so he was able to use Judas in the
great plan of salvation. Judas, however, had only himself to blame.
I was in a Bible Study where we were looking at people who cannot be
saved in Hebrews 6:4-6. They are people who have "fallen away"
from the true Gospel. As I test all things, I believe the Scripture is
clear that it is possible for every person born into this world to be
saved. It is God's desire for every person born into this world to be
saved. So then how can there be people for whom repentance is
impossible? Some would say that they could have been saved but in
falling away they have crossed a line from which they cannot recover. I
do not believe that.
may not have the final answer on these verses, but I really believe that
the point of Hebrews is that Christ is the end of the law (Romans
10:3-4). A true believing Hebrew should see that Christ is what the law
was really all about. These verses are in the plural and are talking
about Hebrews who know the Gospel and as a people have been brought face
to face with God and the work of the Holy Spirit in their tabernacle
worship in the wilderness. However, they have not accepted the fact that
the fulfillment of the old testament is seen in Christ. They have not
let the immature doctrines of the old testament become the mature or
perfect doctrine of the new. They are still expecting their Jewish
religion to save them and they have not accepted Christ as their
Messiah. They have fallen away from what was available to them and not
from what they actually had. That group of people cannot repent and be
saved because they have rejected the only means of salvation which is
Christ. However, individuals within that group can still change their
minds about Christ and be saved. With God that is possible.
does have a place of eternal conscious punishment. He will not save by
our keeping the law or by our going about to establish our own
righteousness. God will save from eternal conscious punishment everyone
who believes what He says and who trusts In the Son. That is good. I
intend to hold that fast.
for the week of March 27, 2011