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MAY 2011

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Sweet Singing!


Now these are the last words of David. Thus says David the son of Jesse; Thus says the man raised up on high, The anointed of the God of Jacob, And the sweet psalmist of Israel. (2 Samuel 23:1)


David had the ability to write songs and to sing. His songs were "sweet." When he played with the harp, it soothed Saul's troubled spirit. When we read his Psalms or songs our hearts are refreshed. We are brought into close communion with the Lord. His songs must have touched the hearts of those who heard them.

David was a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22). I think that meant that he was always loyal to the Lord and was never tempted to serve other gods as most of the other kings of Israel and Judah did. While David made mistakes, he always loved the Lord with all his heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37). His love for the Lord made him happy and his songs reflected that. He wrote songs for others to sing but they were songs that reflected his own worship. The Lord must have really enjoyed hearing David sing. We may not be able to write songs, but I am sure that the Lord enjoys hearing his own people sing as well.

We are going to sing in heaven. Revelation 5:9 says, "And they sang a new song, saying: 'You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.'" We are told that angels don't sing in spite of our hymnology. They were not redeemed from the slave market of sin, but we who are saved were. We have reason to sing that they do not have.

If we are happy, we are to sing Psalms (James 5;13). If we are filled with the spirit and if the word of God is dwelling in us richly, we will make melody in our hearts to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16). Our singing will be from the heart and while others may enjoy it, the real key is that we will be enjoying. I believe that the Lord is happy when He sees that we are happy. He is particularly happy when He sees that we are happy with Him.

Why is it easier to use our tongues to complain and gossip and slander others when instead we should be spontaneously breaking into singing when we consider that we are the redeemed of the Lord? The mountains and hills will be singing in a future day (Isaiah 55:12). Even if this prophecy is allegorical, singing is shown to be the normal, natural, and spontaneous response when we are overwhelmed with the awesomeness of God. Because singing seems so unnatural in our society, be warned that if you break forth into song people will wonder if you have "lost it."

Today we have people sing to us and often it moves us. We have headphones on and hear good music. But do we sing? I remember a man who was working in a lumber store that was about to close many years ago. He was poor and needed hip surgery. He had every reason to be concerned and maybe even unhappy. One day, I stopped in to see him. He was at the back of the lumber store working. He didn't see me come in. As I approached him, I realized that he was singing. There was no audience other than the Lord. He had no one to impress. But he was happy and he was showing it. I think the Lord was impressed. I know I was.

One of the best ways to attract others to the Lord is to be truly happy in the Lord. Surely in this day of trouble and calamity, we would like to have others find out what it means to be saved or born again. We would like to see them flee from the coming wrath and we would like to see them turn from sin and the worship of self and riches and false gods to the the Living and True God. We would like them to be saved because we believe eternity is long and time is short and that the promises of God are yea and amen. Perhaps if there were more heartfelt singing, there would be more people attracted to the Savior that we say we love. We don't need actors performing for an audience as much as we need simple people who can't help but sing because they are enjoying the Lord.


Meditation for the week of May 1, 2011

Bad Examples of Motherhood


"HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER," which is the first commandment with promise (Ephesians 6:2).


Often as we grow up, we tend to rebel against our parents. We may feel that when it comes to spiritual things, we were brainwashed and forced to attend religious activities. We are often ashamed to be seen with our parents when we are with our friends. We may feel that our parents were old fashioned and just not "with it." As we get older, however, we usually find that our parents were wiser than we thought. We may even begin to appreciate the "brain washing" and the nurturing that at one time seemed to encroach on our own right to make our own decisions.

Most children, no matter how they were raised, do believe that their parents and particularly their mothers do in fact love them. The Lord uses the illustration of a mother hen to illustrate His love for the children of Israel. In Matthew 23:37 the Lord says, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" I think most mothers love and protect their children better than a hen does. However, that cannot be said of all mothers. On this mothers day I am glad that I didn't have the following mothers:

Athaliah: "When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal heirs (2 Kings 11:1)." Somehow I don't think she had much of a nurturing maternal instinct. Apparently she slew all of her grandchildren so she could be queen. Of course she was the daughter of Jezebel and had learned from a master.

Jezebel: "But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the LORD, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up (1 Kings 21:25)." Jezebel was a murderer and an idolater. She massacred the prophets of the Lord, she killed an innocent man to take ownership of his land, and encouraged the people of Israel to be immoral through the worship of Baal. God preserves life, but those who worship demonic gods take life. They do not understand the value of each person that God has brought into the world. They are destroyers and not builders.

The prostitute: The story is told in 1 Kings 3 of a two prostitutes who gave birth three days apart. One of them accidentally suffocated her son in the night, but she tried to make it look like it was the other woman's son who died. She had no love for the living child since she was willing to see the child killed rather than admitting it was not hers. This was one of King Solomon's finest moments. He knew that the real mother would not allow him to kill the child and divide it between the two women. There was something gravely wrong with this prostitute's mothering skills. In addition, she had no love for the child that was not her own.

Herodias: "So she (the daughter of Heodias), having been prompted by her mother, said, "Give me John the Baptist's head here on a platter (Matthew 14:8)." Herodias wanted to kill John the Baptist because he had told her that her marriage to Herod was unlawful since she was still Herod's brother's wife. She was like so many who are rebuked for their sin today. She was not going to let anyone rebuke her and live to tell about it.

Why am I listing "bad examples" of mothers? I think that these mothers make most of our mothers look good by comparison. I mean really good! I think we can all be thankful that we were not born into the families listed above. We should thank God for the mothers that we had. We should probably thank them as well. If they tended to be old fashioned and if they loved us enough to tell us about our need of the Lord, take a moment to thank God for that as well. Even if you are reading this while still unconvinced that your mother was right about the Bible and about your need to be saved, the fact that your mother bugged you about something that she really believed in, should convince you that she really loved you!


Meditation for the week of May 8, 2011



Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?"


Why did Eve eat the forbidden fruit and change the course of history? She had a husband who loved her and all the blessings of the Garden of Eden. Adam and presumably Eve actually talked with God so she knew who He was and she knew His commands. He said that she couldn't eat of that one tree and Satan knew how to get her to do that. He simply questioned the command of God as well as the consequences of disobedience. Why when she had it so good did she make such a bad choice? Why?

Solomon was put on the throne by God Himself. He was to be the King of Peace that would build the temple of God (1 Chronicles 22:9-10). When Solomon was young and humble, God talked to Him and asked him what he wanted. He said that he wanted wisdom. God gave that to him as well as riches and honor (1 Kings 3:13). The Lord appeared unto Solomon a second time in 1 Kings 9 and warned him that faithfulness to the Lord would result in his family ruling forever, but unfaithfulness would result in Israel being cast out of the land that had been given to them. Why when Solomon had talked with God and had been given precious promises would he turn aside to the worship of idols and pagan gods late in life? Why would he trade blessing for a curse? Why was God real to him when he was young, but not so real to him when he was older? Why?

Jeroboam was made king over ten tribes of the Kingdom of Israel. He was given the tribes by the commandment of God and by the prophetic word the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite in 1 Kings 11:29-31. Why if God had given him the ten tribes didn't he look to God to help him keep the ten tribes? Instead, he was worried that the Israelites would go to Jerusalem to worship and he would lose the loyalty of those who did that. Because he lacked confidence in God, he set up idols and a competing system of worship in Dan and Bethel. Why would a man who had been established by God, turn his back upon God? Why would he think that he needed to help God fulfill his promise to him? Why?

Then again, there is Belshazzar in Daniel 5. His grandfather Nebuchadnezzar had been humbled before God and had eaten grass like a big cow for seven years. The Lord had preserved his kingdom for him so that when he came back to his senses, he was able to rule again. Through this experience he became a convert to the worship of the Most High God, the King of Heaven. Belshazzar, his grandson knew this story and yet he rebelled against God. When his judgment came, he was told by Daniel in Daniel 5:22, "You are his (Nebuchadnezzar's) successor, O Belshazzar, and you knew all this, yet you have not humbled yourself." Why would Belshazzar be so foolish as to use the holy vessels from the temple in Jerusalem that Babylon had destroyed in his drunken orgy? Of course, he was defying God. Why would he do this? Why?

Mankind is prone to make foolish decisions. Many of them could be considered irrational. The prodigal son had to "come to himself" in order to realize that true blessing was back home in the Father's house (Luke 15:17). I think that this passage implies that he was "out of his mind" until he "came to himself" and began thinking clearly. We often make irrational decisions because of sin and because of stubborn foolishness. The prodigal son repented. That is when he "came to himself." That is when he entered into the blessings that his Father wanted for him. So the answer to the "why" is because by nature we are "out of our minds" or "beside ourselves" until we "come to ourselves" and believe in the Lord Jesus.

Why would the Lord Jesus leave the blessings and glory of heaven to come to this earth? Why would he humble himself and become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:8)? He did that so that those who are "out of their minds" can have their sins righteously forgiven. Why would anyone reject what Christ has done for them? Why?


Meditation for the week of May 15, 2011

The Shrill Voice vs The Still Voice


1 Kings 19:11-12 Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.


Recently, the big news was that the Lord was going to rapture the faithful and then judgment day was going to begin. It didn't happen! This came from the camp of a man called Harold Camping. I am a Christian in the Biblical sense and I do not believe that we can know when the events associated with the Lord's return will begin. However, my work has been made more difficult because many people think that the Bible teaches what Harold Camping teaches.

Years ago, I decided to see if I could sort out the Truths of the Bible for myself without a theological degree and without a great knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew languages. There are so many people telling us contradictory things about what the Bible says that I personally needed to satisfy myself about its message. I have found out that for the most part the only reason the Bible is confusing is that people don't understand the difference between the old testament and the new testament. Because of this, they don't understand the difference between promises made to the Jews and the promises made to the church. In addition, people read what other people say the Bible says instead of reading the Bible.

That brings us back to the recent pronouncements of Mr. Camping. Mr. Camping is a shrill voice and he got a lot of publicity. Back in 1988, a similar thing happened. A man wrote 88 reasons why the Lord would come in 1988. He didn't! Lately, we have had earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and floods. Some are telling us that these are the signs of the end times. Since the events of this nature that are predicted in the Bible occur after the Lord's return for the church, these disasters should speak to us about our need to be ready for death or the Lord's return NOW, but they are not the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy about the end times.

I am convinced that most people sort out their relationship with God when they are alone with God rather than in a moment of shrill panic. This may occur when they are in a crowd or at a meeting. They may get alone with God because of a calamity, but they need to be ALONE with God listening to His still small voice when they trust the Savior. I was brought face to face with my mortality, my sin, and God's love for me in sending His Son to be my sin bearer while I was alone in my room. The death of President Kennedy caused me to think about my need of the Lord just as current natural disasters should make us all be aware that we need to be right with God. However, I trusted the Savior when God spoke to me in my room through the words of a Gospel pamphlet using that still small voice. Professions of faith made simply as a result of a calamity that do not involve hearing that still small voice often last only as long as the calamity lasts. When peace and tranquility are restored in the person's life, they often forget about God once again.

The Truth is that Christ does not have a calendar of events for the church. He tells us to always be ready for His return (Matthew 24:44). When the second coming is going to occur is simply not revealed. What is revealed is that today is the day of salvation and we need to be ready for death and for the Lord's return now. Either could happen at any time.

Obviously, the Truth doesn't get the publicity that the shrill voice gets. The Truth is that Christ, died and was buried and was raised again the third day in order that we might be saved eternally. The Truth is that, "He who believes in Him (the Lord Jesus) 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 (John 3:18)."

That is truth that we all can understand and trust.


Meditation for the week of May 22, 2011

Getting it Right!


For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:17


This Memorial Day weekend, many of us have spent time at cemeteries. There were ceremonies honoring the war veterans and flowers honoring our loved ones. We saw headstone after headstone and underneath each headstone is a person who no longer has questions about what happens after we die.

People have differing opinions about this important issue. The Lord Jesus in his love has given us a glimpse of what happens by telling us about a rich man whose name has been forgotten forever and a man named Lazarus in Luke 16. The rich man died and went to a place of conscious torment. When he realized that he had made the biggest mistake that anyone could make, he prayed for his brothers who were still living so that they would not make the same mistake. Apparently, the rich man had not believed the old testament scriptures and neither did His brothers. Lazarus was carried by angels into a place of comfort. The message of the whole Bible makes it clear that all of our destinies are determined by a simple thing called faith. Faith cannot be faith in ourselves or in what we want to believe, but saving faith is faith in the Living God. For those of us who are alive today, that means that we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one who suffered on the cross to put away our sins and to save us. He didn't come to condemn the world but to save it. He wants us to trust Him when He says that.

The Bible uses words like believing in the Lord or believing on the Lord or having faith in the Lord. As I understand those words, they all could be translated "trust the Lord." Trusting someone is hard. We prefer to trust ourselves. Because God is holy and sin is going to be judged, God says we can either bear the consequences of our sin ourselves by dying in unbelief as the rich man died, or we can let Christ bear the consequences of our sins by trusting Him. When we trust Him, we are saved! That is what the Lord tells us in the Bible.

What does it mean to trust Him? It means that we are resting in the Biblical promise that God has made to us that Christ died for our sins and is the sacrifice that has satisfied Him completely. Because we don't get a second chance to trust the Lord after we die, we need to make sure that we have gotten this right before we die. Many people seem to think that trusting the Lord is an easy thing. I think it is very difficult. First we have to be convinced that we need to trust Him. We also need to be convinced that it isn't all over after we die. Then we need to be convinced that we deserve to go where the rich man went but that the Lord came to save us from that. In addition, we need to quit trusting ourselves so we can trust in the Lord.

People have different ways of trying to simply this idea of trust. Some tell people to invite the Lord into their hearts (whatever that means). They sometimes tell people to pray to be saved or to decide for Christ. Sometimes they are told to make a confession by coming down publicly to an altar. Each of these techniques keeps the focus on what we do. God wants us to get the focus on what Christ did for us. In Isaiah 45:22, the Lord says, "Look to Me, and be saved." We are not to look to ourselves in any way, but to Christ. So no matter what we tell people to do, ultimately they are not saved unless they trust Christ by trusting in His Biblical promises. I personally did not find that to be an easy thing to do.

Since there are no second chances under those grave stones and since those who have died are no longer arguing about whether the Bible is true and whether God is real and whether there is a place called hell and place called heaven, we need to make sure that we get this right before we die. Regardless of whether we have done the inviting, deciding, praying or confessing, now we would be a good time to make sure we have done the trusting. That is what the Lord wants us to do.

Someday, one of those headstones will be ours. We can't afford to be trusting in anything but the Lord Jesus who did not come to condemn but to save when our time comes.


Meditation for the week of May 29, 2011