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MARCH 2014

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Forever and Ever!

Revelation 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Time that never ends

I have been thinking about how long forever and ever is. It is time that never ends. Sometimes we say eternity is where there is no time but forever and ever is described in terms of time in the Bible. It is continues day and night forever and ever. We may not be able to grasp the idea that there is time with no beginning, but we have to believe that there is a future that goes on forever and ever. Where we are in that future and whether we consciously endure that time may be the subject of philosophical debate. But after we die things continue. They do go on and the Bible says that they go on forever and ever.

Enduring the pain of the Lake of Fire

When I go to the dentist, I have to play a mental game in order to handle all the drilling and scraping and such. I think about how nice it will be when it is all over. I tell myself that in an hour or two, the pain will be gone and I will have teeth that are clean and/or filled. Recently, I had a tooth capped. I didn't look forward to that appointment, but I kept telling myself that it would feel so good when I could eat on that side of my mouth again. But when it comes to those who are cast into the Lake of Fire, there is no "other side". There is nothing to which they can look forward. The pain and agony isn't going to be for a little while, or even a long while and then be over. It will be forever and ever. It will be worse than the winter of 2013-2014. This is the winter that won't quit. Every week, I tell myself that this should be the end of the really bad weather and then the weather gets worse. But Spring will come. It always has and I am sure that this year will be no different. But there is no Spring time to anticipate in the Lake of Fire where the beast, the false prophet and the devil are ultimately cast. If we read our passage for this week in it’s entirely, this is also the place where everyone whose names are not found in the book of life are cast as well.

God's list of names

I think that most who study the Bible agree that God has a list of the names of those who have trusted Christ as their Savior. They are the ones whose names are written in the book of life. Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:19, "Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: the Lord knows those who are His."

God knows His own. The unsaved dead are judged according to their works in Revelation 20. Anyone who is judged based on their own works will fail the judgment because God has already judged those works in Romans 3:23. There He says all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. A true Christian is judged based on the finished work of Christ Who died for the ungodly according to Romans 5:6. It is interesting that believers do not appear to be present in Revelation 20 at this Great White Throne judgment. We read of no one being saved here. And the unsaved dead will not find their names in that all important book that is opened here.

Risk taking

I am a risk avoider, not a risk taker. One of the reasons I listened to the Gospel and wanted to be saved is because that forever and ever for the unsaved dead provided no light at the end of the tunnel. I know people who shake their fist in the face of God and seem to dare Him to judge them according to His standards. I know others who carelessly assume that they don't need to worry because everything will work out in the end. But when I think of the prophecies that came true when the Lord was born, was crucified and was raised from the dead, I am not about to bet against the message of the Bible. All of those prophecies were written 400 years before the events happened and many detailed ones were written in the Psalms about a 1000 years before the events happened. Remember, I am a risk avoider; and on this issue of avoiding the Lake of Fire, I want to make sure that I have followed the instructions God has given us to avoid eternal calamity. And as I understand the Bible it all boils down to faith in the Bible and thus faith in what God says about His Son.

Eternal bliss or eternal wrath?

The nice part about being saved is that we do have light at the end of the tunnel. No matter what this life holds for us, at the end of it lies eternal bliss with the Lord and it will be forever and ever. If you are reading this, please make sure your name is in the Lamb's Book of Life. You can't afford to be wrong forever and ever.

Meditation for the week of March 2, 2014

That Day!

Luke 23:33 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.

"Seeing" What Happened at Calvary that Day!

When we preach sometimes we like to explain the meaning of the Scripture that we are reading. Sometimes we like to tell illustrative stores about the passage and sometimes we like to have people "see" the events described in the passage. Today, I want to "see" what took place two thousand years ago at the place which is called Calvary. It is not a pretty sight but it is a sight that should never be forgotten.

What Happened at Calvary that Day?

Since we consider the Bible to be an accurate historical record, we know that an innocent man died as a criminal. There was a gross miscarriage of justice. A man who was declared innocent by the courts was crucified because of Plate’s fear of anarchy. The Jews hated this man without a cause, and Pilate was too insecure to deliver this man from the demands of the crowd.

But what really happened here? Years before Satan had come as a deceiving Serpent and had convinced Eve to disobey God. She ate of a tree that was off limits to her and she, and her husband with her, opened the door to sin and rebellion. God didn’t cause this sin, but neither was He caught by surprise by it. He had planned a way for every sin of every sinner born into this world to be judged righteously on a sinless substitute. In order to accomplish that plan, He had to send his perfect, sinless, unique Son to this place called Calvary. So what really happened here? God provided a way to forgive sin. He provided His Son as the sinless substitute. And He has offered that salvation to the whosoever’s who believe in or trust in the Lord (John 3:16). Because of this place, no one need perish under the righteous hand of God. As we read this moving verse, we need to remember that this is a real place and a real event with real consequences.

Things to Remember about that Day!

This was a place that showcased the depravity that is in the heart of man. The Jewish nation had been called to repent of their idolatry by John the Baptist and to worship the Living God only. He had identified This Man as the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. This Man was God and was to be worshiped. But the Jewish leaders didn’t care about what John the Baptist said, and they didn’t care about the testimony of the Lord’s miracles. They didn’t consider their own prophetic scriptures which they supposedly taught but didn’t consult or believe. Power was more important than truth or justice. Pilate was more concerned with his position than with truth. At least he did what he did out of fear of the Jews rather than out of hatred for an innocent man which was the case with the Jews. But he still shows that it is easier to do wrong than to do what is right.

This was a place where some were saved and some were lost. When we come to Calvary in our preaching and in our minds this is always the result. People that we would expect to be lost are saved. The centurion and those who were with him realized this was a righteous man and they will likely be heaven. But the Jews who knew and taught the Scriptures will for the most part be in hell. Two thieves died beside the Lord that day. Neither could atone for the sins that they had committed, but one was saved and one was lost. One obstinately refused to accept the fact that Christ was who He claimed to be. He died in his sins. The other turned to the Lord and asked for mercy—not for mercy from death but mercy for eternity. He said, "Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom (Luke 23:42)." And he received the promise of the Lord that He would join the Lord in paradise that very day.

Calvary Opened the Way to Heaven that Day!

A way was opened for men to enter heaven that day. The veil of the temple was torn in two so that the holy of holies in the temple was now accessible to all. Creation groaned that day. The sun went dark for three hours, and there was a great earthquake. Prophetic passages in the Old Testament were fulfilled that day. This day and the day three days later when the Lord rose from the dead were the most important events that have ever taken place on planet earth. Yes, the Lord’s ascension into heaven was important. The Lord’s coming again will be important. But this day when the Lord was crucified is the turning point of history. In one sense, this is the darkest day the world has ever seen. In another sense it is the brightest day in the history of man because this day has proved God’s love for His sinful creation. Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Calvary is the place of blessing for me. I hope it is for you as well.

Meditation for the week of March 9, 2014

The Importance of our Souls

Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (NKJV)

Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (KJV)


Flight 370

The news this last week has been filled with speculation about a Malaysian plane that was flying to China that has disappeared. No one seems to know where it is. As I listened to a team of CNN reporters discussing the incident, one of them kept saying that there were 239 people on board. The other kept saying that there were 239 souls on board. I was taken by the difference in terminology. I suppose that the two news anchors could have thought that they were saying exactly the same thing, but I wondered if the one news anchor was trying to make a point without saying that she was. A person has a soul according to the Bible. When we call a person a soul we are emphasizing the fact that the person is more than a body.


What is the Soul?

When I preach the Gospel, I try to stay simple on this issue. I tell people that the body is a container. Inside the body is the real person and that real person doesn’t cease to exist when the body dies.

Many people have tried to identify and define the terms body, soul and spirit. There are many Biblical reasons to believe that we are made up of the three parts. I usually define the body as the material part of the person. The soul is the personality, the spirit is the energy. We could liken this to a car. The car is the container that holds the passengers. But neither go anywhere without gas to energize the car. The car would be like our bodies, the passenger would be like our souls and the gas would be like our spirits. Spirit is often linked to breath which provides some of the energy that we need to "live." We see those three parts in our verse in Genesis 2. The forming of man out of dust was the forming of the body. The breath was the energy that the body needed. Man became a living soul or a living being in that body once it had breath. Because man cannot become a living being or soul without the breath of life some argue that we are really just body and soul/spirit. The important thing to realize is that when God created mankind, He created life that was different from plant life and animal life. He created something material that has something eternal, spiritual and immaterial inside. That immaterial being is the real person. It never ceases to exist.

The Body is Important, But the Soul is More Important

We tend to spend most of our time on our bodies. We bath them, we perfume them, we paint them, many tattoo them, and we try to keep them healthy. But our real emphasis should be on the immaterial eternal parts of our being. When we die it is not "all over" as some think. Our bodies all go to the same place which is ultimately back to the dust that God used to create us. The Lord does tell us that body and soul will be thrown into Hell for the unbeliever so after the resurrection, people do receive bodies suitable for that place. But it is our souls that are eternal and that need to be prepared for eternity.


A Final Thought

A verse Mark’s Gospel keeps coming before me this week. It is found in Mark 8:36 and says, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" 

I hope that the 239 persons on Flight 370 are found and are safe. But I hope that this incident makes us all think about the importance of our souls.

Meditation for the week of March 16, 2014

Being Where We Should be, When We Should be There, Doing What We Should be Doing!

Luke 2:49 And He said to them, "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?"

The Lord and the Heavens

The Lord was always where He should be, when He should be there. He was obedient to his earthly parents even when they thought He was causing them needless anxiety. He seemed to think that they should have known that He would be in the temple when they realized He was not in the company traveling home from the Passover. That was His Father’s house and He was doing His Father’s business. Some translations say "Do you not know that I must be in My Father’s House?"

I have often wondered if the Lord was disciplined as a child growing up. If He was disciplined, His parents were mistaken in doing it, because He would not have been mistaken in what He was doing. Yes, sometimes parents, even the best of parents, can make mistakes in the disciplining of their children. I frankly would have had more than a conversation with Him if I had found Him in the temple after a three day search. Today, we wouldn’t think of giving a twelve year old boy the freedom to travel in a company like that without someone having eyes on Him at all times. But times were different then, and the pilgrims that were traveling together likely knew each other and likely looked after each others children.

So really the Lord was much like the stars. He could be counted on to be where He should be when He should be there. I believe that one of the ways that the heavens declare the glory of God in Psalm 19:1, is that the stars are always where they should be when they should be there. Their position in the sky can be predicted with mathematical accuracy.


The difference between the stars in the sky and mankind is that people go their own way and they are not usually where they should be when they should be there doing what the Lord wants them to do. Adam and Eve hid themselves from God after sinning in the Garden of Eden. David probably should have been leading his armies in battle when he stayed home and sinned with Bathsheba. Balaam should have stayed home instead of going with Balak and accepting money and prestige to curse a people that the Lord had blessed. Isaiah says, "All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6). We are a people that like to go our own way while the Lord always did those things that pleased the Father.



I often wonder if I am where I should be when I should be there doing what the Lord wants me to do. I remember a preacher that I greatly respected telling me that he often wondered if he was preaching in the place where the Lord wanted him to be preaching when the Lord wanted him preaching there. He had no question that the Lord had called him to preach the Gospel. However, there are a lot of places to preach; and he wondered sometimes if he was in the right place. But he told me there was one time every week when he had no question but that he was in the right place doing the right thing. That was when he came together with other Christians to remember the Lord by taking a loaf of bread and a cup of wine and sharing it at a symbolic meal with others. He told me that the Lord had said, "This do in remembrance of Me." He said, "I know when I am remembering the Lord that I am in the will of the Lord." This was so important to him that he told me he had only missed breaking bread with other Christians at this symbolic fellowship meal twice and he had been saved over 50 years at that time. He had missed once for snow and once for sickness if I remember correctly. He did not consider this a sacrament that he needed to do to have his sins forgiven. He did not consider it something he could do by himself. He always did it with other Christians as part of that group’s testimony to the Lord. He did it just because the Lord asked Him to do it. He seemed to think that if the Lord would die to save him, the least he could do would be to remember Him at the Lord’s Supper on the Lord’s Day.


Something to Think About

The Lord was doing His Father’s business, not just at twelve years of age but throughout His life. He was certainly doing it when at the appropriate time He allowed Himself to be taken to the appropriate place outside the city gates of Jerusalem to become the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He was doing His Father’s bidding. The stars also do God’s bidding. But do I? Am I where He wants me to be when He wants me to be there doing what He wants me to do?

Meditation for the week of March 23, 2014

Blessings instead of Curses

Joshua 23:14-15:  Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed. 

Not one of God’s promises to Israel failed.  Just before Joshua dies, He reminds them of God’s faithfulness to them. Then Joshua confronts the nation with a choice.  Stay loyal to the God who fulfilled his promised blessings to them or remember that He will faithfully execute His promised curses as well.  Deuteronomy 27 and 28 lists both the blessings and the curses.  Joshua says the decision is self-evident, and he and his house will remain faithful to the Lord.  They will obey the commandments and principles of this Old Testament covenant with Israel.

I believe that Matthew gives us the “law” or principles of the spiritual Kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount.  There are nine blessings in the introduction and absolutely no curses in the beatitudes.  As the principles are explained, violating some of the principles do contain penalties but the word “curse” is not in the beatitudes as it is in the covenant with Israel. Why?  I have been pondering that.   Here are some suggestions:

1. The kingdom is heavenly or spiritual and not earthly.  Matthew 5:12 says, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.”  This heavenly kingdom does not have the unsaved or the defiled in it   Congregations on earth that should represent the heavenly kingdom do have unbelievers and the defiled in them.  There is a Kingdom coming on earth and there will be blessings and curses in that Kingdom.  Sin in that Kingdom will be judged immediately and righteously.  Death will not be usual but it will be present (Isaiah 65:20).  But in the Heavenly kingdom, there is no curse nor death (Revelation 21:4, 22:3).

2. The New Testament is pretty simple with regard to its blessings and curses.  The believer is blessed and the unbeliever is cursed.  John 3: 18 makes that quite clear, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  The nation of Israel contained many who were along for the ride.  They worshiped the way the leaders worshiped, but their hearts were not right with the Lord.  Israel was faithful to the Lord during Joshua’s day and during the lives of those elders who outlived Joshua.  After the death of those elders, the people who were along for the ride began serving the more popular gods of the land.  We have the same thing happening in churches today.  There have been great revivals where the Lord is honored.  Then a younger generation comes along that does not enjoy the simplicity of New Testament worship.  To them and to some of the older ones, the manna becomes stale.  Many of them have not experienced the liberty that comes with letting Holy Spirit lead and guide in church worship, neither have many of them experienced a clear “birth of the spirit” where the Holy Spirit uses the word of God to convict of sin and  to turn the sinner to the Savior in simple trusting faith.  Believing about the Lord is substituted for believing in the Lord. Assurance of salvation comes from what others say or do or from ceremonies or good works rather than from what the word of God says.  It isn’t long before “the old way” is not relevant to the social order of the day and the clear principles of worship laid out in the New Testament are set aside for “newer methods.” Separation is not taught and sound doctrine is set aside.  Fairly quickly, the church becomes an organization rather than a living body that does the work of the Lord.

3.  The Blessings of the Sermon on the Mount are attainable.  Only a believer who has been “sealed” and “filled” or “controlled” by the Holy Spirit could actually carry out the principles of the Sermon on the Mount.  I believe that the blessings are the preamble to the constitution of the spiritual kingdom and I do believe that in many ways these principles are different from the principles that the children of Israel lived under.  We do not have to annihilate our enemies, we are to pray for them.  We are not to look for earthly blessing but spiritual blessing.   We are not to do things openly to be seen as religious people do, but we are to do things privately where God only sees and rewards.  The moral principles of the Old Testament are never set aside; and, in fact, are made matters of the heart rather than matters of law.  However, I do believe that these principles and, thus, the blessings are attainable.  Where we fail with regard to them, the Lord provides for confession and forgiveness.

The Lord not only wants to bless, He does bless.  We who had “no hope” now have something to anticipate with joy.  The Lord is coming to save those of us who believe in the Lord from the coming tribulation.  This is a blessed hope.  We may die, but that will not be the end of the story.  We get to be “with the Lord” where there is no more curse or crying or sorrow.  I am glad that I live in New Testament times with New Testament promises and New Testament blessings. 

Meditation for the week of March 30, 2014