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MARCH 2017

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Are we Faithful?

 

Nehemiah 7:2 that I gave the charge of Jerusalem to my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the leader of the citadel, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many.

Proverbs 20:6 Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, But who can find a faithful man?

 

What are the Characteristics of a Faithful Person?

1.  He or she is trustworthy or dependable—you can give them a job and a deadline and expect them to do what they are supposed to do when they are supposed to do it.  That is the mark of a good employee, of a good mechanic or carpenter or handyman.  I have known a few people like this in my life time, but I have known more who took on jobs that they couldn't or wouldn't do.  Sometimes they made promises that they couldn't or wouldn't keep.  I started buying cars with warranties so that I didn't have to deal with mechanics who were not faithful.  I figured they could sort out their mischief with the people who provided the warranty rather than with me. There are some plumbers that have cost me more money than they are worth because they not only had to come back twice, but in some cases, their leaks caused problems that had to be repaired by other plumbers.

2.  He or she tells the truth—you can shake their hand on a business deal and expect them to live up to their promises. They keep their promises to their spouses, children and friends.

3.  He or she is loyal--they are willing to defend you when necessary.  A loyal person is also an honest person and will constructively criticize where necessary.  But a loyal person will never say one thing to your face and another thing behind your back.  A loyal person wants what is best for their boss or employer or friend.  They aren't constantly “using” them to accomplish their own agendas.  Some people are only faithful to their friends or family or associations.  A person can be faithful to one group while being completely deceptive and undependable when it comes to others.

4.  A faithful person doesn't have to tell everyone how faithful they are--others will take care of that for them.  When someone continues to “blow their own horn” it is usually because others are not praising them and often there is a reason for that. 

 

Who do we know that is truly Faithful?

God found Moses to be faithful (Numbers 12:7).  Nehemiah found his brother Hananiah to be a faithful man and it was apparently due to his fear of God.  We know that when it comes to faithfulness to the Lord, most of those that we would call faithful to the Lord failed at some juncture in their life.  However, their hearts were always loyal and their failures were a time for tears.  King David would be one who failed the Lord and his fellow man but always remained loyal to the Lord.  Peter denied the Lord, but he always loved the Lord.  And of course the best example of faithfulness is the Lord Himself.  He was faithful to His Father and He was faithful to the people in this world whether they were Jews or Gentiles.

 

Some of us are looking for people to be faithful to us.  We want people who will defend us when others criticize us.  We want emotional support when life becomes a struggle.  But if we want that, how much more does the Lord want and deserve that?  How many of us are really willing to be dependable with regard to his moral and ceremonial requests?  The Sermon on the Mount lays out the moral desires of the Lord.  Those issues go to motive which only the Lord really knows.  The Corinthian epistles and the epistles to Timothy and Titus are the best places to go to find out what pleases the Lord in the ceremonies and gatherings of the local church.  Are we willing to be completely devoted to the Lord and faithful to his desires even when popular opinion differs from what is written in God's faithful word?

 

What about Me?

We know that we cannot truly be faithful to the Lord without believing in Him.  We can't just believe about Him, we must trust Him.  I settled that issue many years ago.  We cannot be faithful to the Lord without following His instructions on baptism.  We know baptism never saved anyone from an eternity in hell, but it is the way to take our public stand with the Lord.  Once baptized we are no longer identified with the world system that rejects the Lord.  Baptism is always by immersion and it occurs after we have trusted the Lord..  It is a public declaration of our new found faith in the Lord, and it is a declaration that we have a desire to be faithful to Him. 

 

Lord help us to be among the faithful.  Help us to be loyal and trustworthy to the Lord and to our friends, family and neighbors.

 

Meditation for the week of March 5, 2017

Open His Eyes!

 

2 Kings 6:15-17 And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?" So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." And Elisha prayed, and said, "LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

 

Worry Warts!

I confess, I am a worry wart.  The older I get the more anxious I am about things that I cannot control.  Instead of being glad for all the times the Lord has kept me from difficulty and heartache, I keep thinking that today may be the day that a disaster will strike over which I have no control.  Then what am I going to do?

 

Obviously, self-reliance is a good thing so long as it doesn't leave God out of the equation.  But I am not a good plumber and we have had a lot of plumbing problems in our house—mostly because of shoddy workmanship on the part of the builder and installer.  When the wind turns to the northwest and begins howling at 30 mph and the temperature drops to 20 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit), I keep wondering what I am going to do if the heat tape fails (because it has) or if the furnace fails (because it has).  I have found very few people that are willing to work on manufactured homes when emergencies arise and those that do know how to charge.  I keep thinking that if I was proficient like I should be, I should be able to handle these emergencies myself.  But I can't, so I keep wondering, “What am I going to do?” 

 

It is easy for those of you who don't worry about anything to say, "Just trust in the Lord."  But for those of us who have anxiety problems that just adds to the problems.  Now we not only have problems we can't “fix”, we are anxious because of our apparent lack of faith in the Lord's goodness and provision.  It is encouraging to know, however, that even Paul seemed to have some problems with fear and anxiety.  He says in 1 Corinthians 2:3. "I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling."  He often talks about his weakness.

 

The Blessing of the Lord's Faithfulness

One thing I have learned over the years is that even though I may be faithless, the Lord is still faithful.  Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy 2:13, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”  God has answered prayers before I have asked and has met needs that I didn't even know existed.  Why should a person worry when as Christians we have the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us, we have angels surrounding us (Hebrews 1:14, Psalms 34:7), and we have the word of God to reassure us and instruct us?

 

Sometimes we need to have our eyes opened just like Elisha's servant did.  Things looked pretty bad.  The city was surrounded by the Syrian army, but Elisha had no army.  He had no horses or chariots.  OR DID HE?  He told his servant, "We are not going to have to do anything, open your eyes and see our army.  It is greater and more powerful than theirs."  I realize that we don't often see the forces that are working on our behalf today, but they are just as real.  Sometimes, we are kept from problems and sometimes we are guided through problems.  We had a car accident that could have killed us a few years back because of black ice.  But in three hours we were in a rental car continuing our trip to the Denver area.  I had no idea that I had a heart blockage 8 years ago.  But Medicare provided me some preventative care and a sharp doctor recognized a problem on an EKG.  I had a stent put in for a 90 percent blockage in the widow maker.  I was preserved through a problem.  I could go on and on about the times when something could have happened but didn't.  And so far, I have never had a plumbing or furnace problem that my worrying fixed and yet somehow all of them have some how gotten fixed.  I can truthfully say, “If God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)?”  And God is for those of us who have trusted His Son.

 

My Prayer

Lord,  I realize that there is a difference between being prudent about things for which we are responsible, and worrying about things that we cannot control.  Help those of us who trust you to know the difference so that we can enjoy that peace and rest that is promised to us in your word.  Help us to remember that, "You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. (Isaiah 26:3)."

 

Meditation for the week of March 12, 2017

He will be Great

 

Luke 1:31-33 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."

 

Who is this Jesus?

In Matthew we find out that the name Jesus is given to him because He is going to save.  The name is a variant of the Old Testament name Joshua which means Jehovah the Savior or Jehovah saves.  Matthew 1:21 says, “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins." The angel foretold the means of the Lord's birth, the name of the Lord, the greatness of the Lord and the everlasting kingdom of the Lord.  What was left out was the rejection of the Lord.  How can one Who never had wealth, Who came from a humble city called Nazareth, and Who was born without a natural father (and thus was illegitimate in the eyes of many), be someone great?  How could the Lord who came unto His own but was not received by them (John 1:11) be someone great? 

 

Fulfillment of the Prophecy

This prophecy will be literally fulfilled when the Lord sets up his earthly 1000 year reign, yet the prophecy overlooks many things that happened between the Lord's birth and His earthly reign.  There is a lesson here for us.  Everything that the Lord says will happen or that He says has happened is accurate and true.  But the Lord hasn't told us everything in each of His prophecies.  And sometimes we think God's word has failed when in fact we are living out events that were not included in the prophecies we are considering.  Thus, everything in the above prophecy will be literally fulfilled but there are some other events that will happen that aren't covered here.  One is the crucifixion and one is the resurrection.  One is the ascension back to heaven.  Another has to do with all the events associated with His coming again.  We don't see those events in this prophecy directly, but they must all occur in order for the Lord to be great.  All of these events are foretold elsewhere, but the timeline with regard to all of these events was not clear until the events took place.  For example, we know that the Lord had to suffer before He could reign.  This passage deals with His reign.  Isiah 53 and Psalm 22 deal with His suffering.  But how and when do the events unfold?  The nation of Israel still is having trouble figuring that out since they do not consider Jesus to be their Messiah.  But for those of us who accept the testimony of the New Testament witnesses, the timeline for us is now clear.  

 

When will He be Great?

For the New Testament believer, the Lord is already great.  And yet, we understand that before He could be great He had to humble Himself and become obedient unto death (Philippians 2:8).  Looking at those events from a natural point of view, the Lord didn't seem so great.  Even those crucifying Him thought that if He was the Son of God, He could and should save Himself.  But of course to be great, He couldn't.  God has now exalted Him and given Him a name  that is above every name.  We exalt Him when we trust Him. The Jewish nation will one day have to confess, “Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:4-5).”  Only then will He be considered great by the nation that rejected Him at His first coming..  The unbelieving nations will also be forced to acknowledge the greatness of this one called Jesus when the Lord descends on the white horse with the armies of heaven supporting Him to save the Jews from being exterminated.  Philippians 2 reminds us that one day every knee shall bow at the name of Jesus. 

 

I think He is Pretty Great

Much of what is practiced as Christianity today is all about us.  We go to the church of our choice.  We go where the music pleases us.  We go where there are programs for people who need marriage and financial and drug counseling and where our children can find mates. These things are all well and good.  But we make bad choices in these areas if our Christianity is always all about us.  We need to find out how great the Lord is. Then we will find our needs met by the Lord through others who have also realized how great this man is. 

 

There was an afternoon sitting in my room all alone pondering my own need of this Savior, that I came to understand that He Had already died to save me and I had His Word for that.   He took me a nobody, a sinner of the Gentiles and made me a child of God by faith.  Thus, I am glad that I found that this Jesus was and is great.  It is nice in a day when loyalty is in short supply, that I can honestly say that the Lord has always been loyal to me.  He has been faithful.  I can honestly say that He is pretty great.  I hope my reader can say that as well.

 

Meditation for the week of March 19, 2017

Devotion or Duty?

 

Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 11:24-25 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me."  In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."

 

Making Disciples

The evangelist is asked to make disciples in Matthew 28.  A disciple is a follower or student of the Lord.  (Students in those days “followed” their masters to learn all that they could from him.)  Evangelists are to make disciples by preaching the Gospel since faith in the surficial death of Christ is of course necessary to be a disciple.  But a true disciple has been baptized, and in the Bible, that was always after believing in the Lord; and it was always an immersion.  That is what the word “baptize” really means.  But a true disciple has also been taught all things.  Of course that includes the truths connected with a holy life and the Lord's coming again.  But it also includes the command, “This do in remembrance of me.”

 

This Do

In the upper room, the disciples kept the Passover with the Lord before He suffered.  During that ceremony, the Lord does something new.  He has the disciples take bread and wine in remembrance of Him.  The Passover was a ceremony reminding the Jews of their deliverance from Egypt.  The Passover continued until the Lord came and fulfilled the prophetic implications of the ceremony.  Now they no longer needed the Passover since they had the Lord Himself Who was going to become the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).”  Instead of the Passover believers now have the Lord's Supper as explained in 1 Corinthians 11.  In the Bible, it is always associated with a gathering of a local church (See 1 Corinthians 11:18, 20).  And it is something believers are asked to do.  It does not save, it is a memorial. 

 

Many people emphasize that the “do” in this request is in the imperative mood and believers have to do this.  I confess that I have never remembered the Lord because I have to.  There is a difference between devotion and duty.  If we do what we do out of devotion to the Lord, it is liberating and joyful.  If we do it out of duty, it becomes religion, and it becomes a burden. 

 

How Often should the Church do this?

The passage in 1 Corinthians 11 tells us to do it often.  Nowhere are we told how often to do it.  We know from Acts 20 that the Christians at Troas came together on the first day of the week to “break bread.”  However, we are not told that they did this every week even though that probably was their practice.  The context seems to imply that “breaking bread” in this passage was the Lord's Supper.  We know from 1 Corinthians 16 that the Corinthians were to lay aside something for the Saints in Jerusalem on the first day of the week.  It appears that the Corinthian church was meeting on the first day of the week. I believe the first day of the week to be the Lord's day.   But nothing is said in that passage about the Lord's supper. 

 

I have always been associated with groups of Christians that remember the Lord every Lord's day.  While remembering the Lord every Lord's day is not directly commanded or even clearly given to us by example in the Bible, why would we do it every Lord's day?  I can't speak for others, I can only speak for myself.  I do it because I can.  I don't worship the breaking of bread; I worship the Lord at the breaking of bread.  There are a lot of things that I do where I am not sure that I am actually in the will of the Lord, but when I break bread I know I doing something that pleases Him.  I personally believe that the early church did not compartmentalize their meetings like we do.  I suspect that when they came together, they prayed , they preached, and they broke bread.  They may even have preached the Gospel so that unbelievers present could be saved.  I think that because the early church continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers (Acts 2:42).  But while I think that is what they did, I can't prove that every time they came together they did every one of these things.  However, arguing about how often we HAVE to break bread, defeats the whole purpose of what we do.  The question is how often CAN we break bread, not how often MUST we break bread?

 

Conclusion

The Lord's Supper is like a grave stone marker.  That maker is a memorial that reminds us of the person who is buried there.  The Lord's Supper is the memorial to the Lord who died, was buried and who rose again.  The Lord's Supper will continue until the Lord returns for the church.  It is my purpose to always start my week by giving the Lord the honor of being remembered.  The Lord gave Himself for me so that my sins could be forgiven and I could have a home in heaven.  The least I can do is start my week by remembering Him. 

 

 

Meditation for the week of March 26, 2017