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MAY 2005

 

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Mathew 4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt (put to trial) the Lord thy God.

 

In Exodus 17 the people of Israel were traveling where and when they were told and yet they lacked water. Naturally speaking, there was no place to get water for them and their cattle. They complained that Moses had delivered them from Egypt to kill them in the wilderness. Moses asked, “Why do you tempt the Lord?”

In Matthew 4, Satan tried to get the Lord to cast Himself down from the temple to prove that God would preserve Him according to the promise in Psalm 91:11-12. The Lord said that we should not test, or tempt or put to trial the Lord. He quoted from Deuteronomy 6:16. That passage likely was referring to the incident in Exodus 17. My question is, “When are we tempting the Lord?”

Is it wrong to ask God to give guidance when He has already given His Word as Gideon did when he “put out his fleece” in Judges 6? Was it wrong for Thomas to ask the Lord to show him His hands before believing that He had been raised from the dead (John 20:25)?

In Matthew 4:7, I had always thought that the Lord was saying that if He (the Lord Jesus) cast Himself off the temple, He would be putting God to the test (needlessly). After reconsidering this passage recently, I am convinced that the Lord was saying that Satan (not the Lord) was putting God to the test by asking the Lord to cast Himself off the temple as proof that God would honor his promise to protect Him. If that is the case, the link between the old testament passage and the new is that in both cases they were testing God by asking for that which they did not think God would provide. Gideon’s case was different. While he may have been weak in his faith, he simply did not want to misunderstand God’s instructions, but He wasn’t asking God to prove His faithfulness. Thomas was honest in saying that he needed to see in order to believe, but He certainly wasn’t saying that God was not good and faithful.

What is the conclusion then? If we ask questions like, “Where did Cain got his wife?” in order to “prove” that the Bible is in error, we probably will be left to wallow in unbelief. But if we ask the question with a desire to know and to understand God, we will probably figure out that Adam and Eve had a lot of children that are not named individually (Genesis 5:4). Because sin had not damaged the gene pool then as it has now, brothers married sisters. This was later regulated under Mosaic law but it was not regulated before the flood nor from Noah to Moses. Many other questions are asked by unbelievers in an attitude of rebellion and with a desire to prove that God does not exist or is not faithful or that He is not good. These questions will never be adequately answered for them because the question is considered a rebellious “test“. But everyone who has honest questions or who prays for actual needs will have their prayers answered (Matthew 7:7).

I believe that when we come to God as though He is a wicked stepfather who doesn’t care about us and ask him for something we don’t expect Him to provide, we are tempting Him. When we come to God as a loving Father who wants what is best for us and ask Him for something, I believe that request honors God and is never criticized as “testing” the Lord.

 

Week of May 1, 2005

John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

 

The law is linked to Moses while grace and truth are linked to the Lord. Moses did not get into the promised land because the law brings death. The Lord is even now at the Father’s right hand waiting to receive believers unto Himself because grace and truth provides life and salvation.

Nobody (except perhaps lawyers) likes the law. When we are traveling down the highway and we see the “law“, we generally get nervous even if we think we have been doing everything right. If we are breaking the “law” it doesn’t matter if we didn’t intend to break it, we still pay the penalty. The law is a burden. It may regulate society but it leaves us with apprehension and dread. If you don’t believe that, wait until you get a letter from the IRS indicating that you are so special that you have been chosen for a complete audit.

If the law brings condemnation and death, then grace and truth bring life and hope. Truth in our day is somewhat elusive. Juries are supposed to find the truth but obviously they make mistakes if current DNA tests tell the “truth” . Science is supposed to find out the truth but look at the many places where past scientific “truth” is now obviously in error. The sun was supposed to rotate around the earth at one time. Molecules were the smallest building block in the universe at one time. The earth was thought to be flat at one time. Truth hasn’t changed but what was thought to be true has.

Grace makes life worth living. Grace is getting something good that you don’t deserve. If the law brings death and if the truth is absolute, especially when it comes to the truth that sinners deserve to die and go to hell, then grace is the only solution. Grace provides for the punishment of sin without punishing the sinner since Christ was willing to be the sinner’s substitute. Since grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, God was able to maintain the truth while providing us the gift of eternal life that we do not deserve. And God does this willingly because of His love for us.

Grace is often associated with graciousness. We like gracious people. When people are motivated by law, they get complicated because they keep trying to find loop holes and ways to get around the purpose of the law. Unlike the law, truth cannot be changed to fit the present circumstances but it certainly does not give a sinner a reason for living. Neither does it make those who know it happy. Grace, however, does what the law and truth cannot do. If truth is the car’s motor that gives it power, then grace is the oil that keeps the motor running smoothly. Without oil, the engine will run for a while and then make a lot of noise and come to a permanent screeching halt. Some congregations of Christians have a good engine but no oil. The Lord gives us both. I am glad that Jesus Christ never gave up the truth in order to graciously make the gift of eternal life available. Because grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, we need not fear the penalty of the law.

 

Week of May 8, 2005

 

Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (See Deuteronomy 8:3)

Job 23:12 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

 

To be healthy we need food. However, we are both physical beings and spiritual beings. We have a physical hunger and a spiritual hunger. Both appetites need to be satisfied for us to be happy and healthy. We put the emphasis on the material food that we need and God often withholds the material to see how important His spiritual food is to us. Job considered the Word of God (which is spiritual food) more important that physical food.

In the old testament, God allowed the people to hunger to prove or test their desire to hear Him and follow His commands. The children of Israel failed the test while the Lord passed it. After he had been without food in the wilderness and was hungry, Satan tried to get Him to use His power to satisfy self. But the Lord made it clear that food wasn’t the only thing that sustained Him. While He could have made bread from stones, obeying all of the Word of God was more important to Him.

Is it no wonder that so many people feel empty and discouraged today? They have eliminated spiritual food from their lives. Some say there is no God. Some of those who say there is a God say that every major religious group has found Him in their own way. This is not the voice of the Lord that these people are hearing. Many people are not listening for that still small voice of correction and instruction that Elijah heard on Mount Horeb in 1 Kings 19:12. Have we heard that voice?

Samuel heard it when He was a child (1 Samuel 3:10). It is the voice that speaks to us of our need of a Savior before we are saved. It is the voice that guides us after we are saved. That voice can always be heard as we read our Bibles and any message that we get today that comes from other sources, whether they be books or preachers (or meditations), must be consistent with the message of the Bible or we are not feeding on the right food. Satan presents Himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) and tries to guide us by misusing the Word of God as he did when he tested the Lord in the wilderness. Often we are most vulnerable when we are physically most needy. Sometimes we say that our day is different and that Godly principles don’t seem to work today, so we do the work of the Lord our own way and assume that God will be happy with us

We need to feed both body and soul. However, according to the Lord, feeding the soul spiritual food should take priority over feeding the body physical food. We should never allow feeding the body to cause us to violate the proper feeding of the soul. This seems to be the example that the Lord gave us when He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Week of May 15, 2005

  1. Matthew 16:15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

  2. Acts 8:30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

  3. Matthew 27:22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.

  4. John 21:17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, [son] of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

I have been talking to people who seem to know what the experts think about the Bible, about Christ and about Christianity. I sometimes have trouble getting them to tell me what they personally think. Our relationship with the Lord is personal and there are four questions that I have been meditating on that will have to be answered by all of us in a personal way.

In Matthew 16, the Lord had asked his disciples who others said that He was. After getting an answer from them, He then asks the personal question, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter says that He is God’s anointed one (the Christ) and that He is the Son of God. He is not a Christ (that is one among others) but the Christ. He is not a Son of God but the one and only Son of God.

When the Ethiopian eunuch first read Isaiah 53 out of a “Bible” that he had obtained in Jerusalem, he didn’t understand it. That is normally the case when we first read the Bible and shows us how lost we are. The Bible says, “If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost (2 Corinthians 4:3).” Those who have trouble understanding the Bible often take the position that it can be interpreted in whatever way they decide to interpret it. It would be better to just admit that we don’t understand it and in so doing admit that we are lost.

Everybody at some point is going to have to deal with the question that Pilate asked. “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” Pilate bowed to mob justice and crucified the Lord. We can reject Him too because it is the accepted thing to do in our day, or we can step away from the crowd and trust Him.

I wonder what we would say if the Lord asked us if we loved Him like He asked Peter? Peter said that the Lord knew all things and He knew that Peter loved Him. I don’t see how we can honestly say that we love the Lord unless we believe that He is who He claimed to be as Peter did. We must also come to understand that Christ is the sin bearer and the Man of Sorrows as the Ethiopian eunuch did. In addition, if we love the Lord, we surely have accepted Him rather than rejecting Him like Pilate did.

I know that Peter was confessing his friendship for the Lord in the word for love that he used and had been unwilling to use the word for charity in John 21. This was probably because he had denied the Lord when he was in the high priest’s house and was reluctant to say that he had the devotional love of charity for the Lord. But he knew that the Lord knew that in his frail heart he was truly the Lord’s friend.

Can the Lord look at my heart and know that I love Him? Have I told Him that lately or am I like the fellow who told his bride to be before he married her that he loved her and that if it ever changed he would let her know. I do love the Lord and I know that it is because He first loved me (1 John 4:19). I hope my love for the Lord shows.

Week of May 22, 2005

John 4:29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

 

I believe this statement came from the heart of a brand new worshipper. This woman was an outcast as far the Jews were concerned because she was of the wrong race. She seems to have been an outcast as far as the women of Samaria were concerned since she came to the well alone. This may have been because she had five husbands and now lived with a man who was not her husband. However, the Lord wanted to meet her and He planned His trip because of His interest in her. This woman who was born wrong and who lived wrong was the one that the Lord told, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him (John 4:23).”

The first time any of us truly worshipped the Lord was when we trusted Him as our Savior. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The Jews were not true worshippers. They practiced the proper rituals but they rejected the Lord who was pictured in the ceremonies. They didn’t worship in Spirit. The Samaritans were not true worshippers. They were worshipping in “this mountain” rather than at Jerusalem. So their worship wasn’t according to the truth. They also combined elements of paganism with elements of Judaism (see 2 Kings 17).

This woman admitted to the Lord that she was living with a man that was not her husband. When she went to tell others that she had found the Messiah, she told them that He had told her everything that she had done. While the Lord dealt in a compassionate way with her sin, He didn’t reject her because of it nor did He reject her because of where she was born. I suspect that this is the first time she had actually been treated with respect by a man and This Man was a Jew. Now she says, “Come see a man.” She seemed to understand that The Man who had accepted her could accept and bless her friends. She was quite an evangelist. Her friends came and heard and believed not because of what she said but because of what the Lord said to them (John 4:42).

Worship is not just praise or a ceremony where we “break bread”. Worship involves the words, actions and attitudes of one who has truly fallen in love with the Lord. It may be expressed by “falling down”, that is by our posture. It may be expressed by praise or ceremony or sacrifice. It cannot be expressed without devotional obedience (Hebrews 11:8). If we worship someone, we need to know what pleases them. We can’t tell them what pleases them, they need to tell us.

The true worship of the Samaritan woman after meeting the Lord was obvious. As a result, her Gospel preaching was effective. She didn’t need to be taught to worship. When she realized that the Lord was the Messiah that she was looking for and that He could permanently satisfy her spiritual thirst, her worship was automatic. She certainly wasn’t ashamed of her new found Savior and Friend when she invited others to “Come see a man!”

The Father is still seeking true worshippers. He wants the ceremonies to be what pleases Him and the songs to glorify Him. Our messages should be messages that accurately describe Him. He is seeking us.

Week of May 29, 2005