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the Nearness of the Lord
your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. (Philippians
like technology. I especially like a program that we use on our
computers at home called Skype. That program has made it possible for us
to call our family members and for a little while it "seems"
as though they are right in the room. We see them in real time and in
living color. We hear them talk just as though they were visiting in our
home. In actuality they are miles away but for a little while, they are
phrase "at hand" is interesting. It is sometimes translated
near. The Greek word that is used can mean close in terms of location.
For example Bethany was near Jerusalem. Sometimes it means close in
terms of time as when summer is near. Many would say that Paul is
referring to the imminent return of the Lord Jesus in our verse for
today. Imminence has to do with time and refers to an event that is
ready and could happen at any time.
am inclined to believe that Paul is referring to the close presence of
the Lord in this verse rather than to the imminent return of the Lord. I
have been giving a lot of consideration to the fact that in the book of
Philippians Paul wants to obtain to some kind of resurrection. He seems
to feel that he has not obtained to it but is striving to obtain this
particular condition. We won't have to strive to obtain the physical
resurrection at the rapture so I believe Paul wanted to live as though
he had already experienced the resurrection. He wanted to live as though
the Lord was present at all times which would be true if he were living
as though he were already resurrected. This assembly had two valuable
sisters who were not getting along and this verse seems to be the way
that they could work our their problems. First, be gentle. Second,
remember that the Lord is not far off. In fact He is present. Therefore,
these sisters should live as though they were already in the presence of
had been in the presence of the resurrected Lord on the road to Damascus
in Acts 9. It appears that Paul was caught up into the third heaven in 2
Corinthians 12:4 and had an experience that it was not possible for him
to properly describe in human words. He also says he received an
abundance of revelations in 2 Corinthians 12:7. He likely received many
of those during those three years that He spent in Arabia and Damascus
from the time he was saved until the time of his going up to Jerusalem
to visit Peter. Paul tells us that he didn't receive the gospel from
man. It was revealed to him by the Lord Himself (Galatians 1:12).
the Lord ministered
personally to him in those three years just as he had ministered
personally to the other apostles for three years. I think Paul knew what
it was like to be in the presence of the Lord both in heaven and on
earth. And that is why his citizenship was in heaven. The physical
problems of life did not interfere with his enjoyment of the spiritual
blessings of communion with and service for the Lord.
know that the Lord is always present in the person of the Holy Spirit
once we are saved. He seals us according to Ephesians 1:13. While the
Holy Spirit is a person, He is nameless. But the Lord's nearness in
Philippians seems more real and more personal to me. The Lord has a
name; and for Paul, He was a very real presence in his life. Paul didn't
serve an idea, or a philosophy, a myth or a religion. He served the Lord
that He had met and with Whom he had talked. He had been invited into
His present home in the Father's house and had visited with Him there.
That kind of relationship with the Lord is only possible for one who has
had his or her life changed by trusting the Lord since trust is the
basis of any relationship.
knew that the Lord was at hand (or near or present). If we who are saved
could enjoy that kind of nearness to the Lord, most of our problems
would become insignificant. We would be so heavenly minded that people
would wonder why we are "glowing". We would truly be the salt
of the earth. We would turn this world upside down.
more than that, we would look forward to getting up in the morning since
each day would be a new adventure with the Lord.
for the week of May 5, 2013
Simplicity of an Equal Sign!
3:36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does
not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on
produce children that they love. The child that a mother brings into the
world has physical life that only lasts for a period of time. That life
that fits us for life on planet earth. There is a life that is more
important, however. It is everlasting or eternal life. This life is
spiritual and is produced through the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23). The
Spirit of God uses the Word of God to convict and convert those who only
have physical life. A saved mother will rejoice when she gives birth to
a child, but she will rejoice more when that child obtains the spiritual
life that comes from eternity and that fits us for eternity. That life
is obtained by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ.
times people have asked me what it means to believe in the Son as it
says in John 3:36. Many of us were raised to believe in the truth of the
Bible and from our earliest recollections we believed that God had
prepared heaven for those who were saved sinners and hell for those who
were not. We believed that Christ had died on the cross as the sacrifice
for our sins and that He was buried and was raised again the third day.
We believed He ascended to heaven and promised the world that He would
come again. We believed these facts, but did we believe in Him? The
answer is no we did not. It is impossible for someone to believe in the
Son without believing the facts of the Gospel, but believing the facts
is not the same as believing in or trusting the Son. Those who have
believed in the Son know that they have eternal life, they don't wonder
or hope that they do.
verse has two parts to it. There are those who have everlasting life and
those who will not see life. The people in the first group are saved or
born again. The people in the latter group are lost. I often ask people,
"What part of the verse describes you?" Many will hesitate.
Some will say that they don't know. But the truth is we are either saved
or lost. We either believe in (or trust) the Son or we do not. So I ask
those I am trying to help, "Do you have eternal life?" That
is, would you go go heaven if you died? Most say, "I hope so."
Some say, "I don't know." Then I ask them if they know what an
equal sign is because believing in the Son equals having everlasting
life in the verse. If we have or possess something, we should know that
we have or possess it. If a person cannot say for sure that they have
everlasting life, they can not say that they have believed in the Son
whatever that means according to this verse. The verse says that if a
person has believed in the Son, they HAVE everlasting or eternal life.
They don't have it because of the quality or the fervency of their
believing, they have it because God says that they have it. Our
believing doesn't make the Gospel true. It is true whether we believe it
or not. But we make the Gospel effective in our lives by believing in or
trusting the Son.
I take people to Romans 5:6 and show them that God says that while we
were without strength or unsaved, Christ died for the ungodly. I ask
them if they are ungodly (not like God). If they say yes, I take them to
John 3:36 and read it this way, "He who believes that Christ died
for the ungodly has everlasting or eternal life." Believing in the
truth that Christ died for the ungodly is the same as believing in the
Son if the person reading these verses can see that they are ungodly.
Many times those who were confused as to which part of the verse they
are in say at this point, "Why I am in the first part of the
verse." I ask them how they know and they tell me that they know
because God says so. Usually at that point they can truthfully and for
the first time, thank the Lord for saving them. Now instead of believing
about the truth, they are trusting in the truth. Once a person who
accepts the Biblical truth that they are ungodly finds out that it is
TRUE that Christ died for the ungodly, they don't usually have any
trouble trusting in that truth.
you thankful on this Mother's day for the life that your mother gave
you? I am sure that you are. But more importantly, do you have and are
you thankful for the spiritual life that comes from eternity and fits
you for eternity? If you can't say that you have eternal life, then you
can't be sure that you have believed in the Son. However, instead of
trying to believe harder or more fervently, just take God at His Word
when he says that Christ died for the ungodly. After all, that is the
that believes on the Son has everlasting life. Please believe that! The
Gospel is just as simple as that.
for the week of May 12, 2013
Kings 22:2: And he (Josiah) did what was right in the sight of the LORD,
and walked in all the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to
the right hand or to the left.
is a refreshing commendation. Josiah did what was right in the sight of
the Lord, he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. He
wasn't a conservative Jew and he wasn't a progressive Jew. He couldn’t
be called reformed and while he was orthodox, that is not how the Lord
describes him. The Lord said he did that which was right in the sight of
could not be said of Aaron who made a golden calf for the people of
Israel while Moses was in the mountain learning how this redeemed people
should worship their God. This could not be said of Solomon who built
temples to heathen gods on the Mount of Olives at the end of his life.
He definitely turned aside. This could not be said of Jeroboam who was
made ruler over ten of tribes of Israel by God himself. Yet, he was not
confident that God would allow him to keep the rule over those ten
tribes unless he kept the people of Israel from worshiping in Jerusalem.
So he built two calves. He placed one in the south and one in the north
part of his kingdom and established a religion like the one in
Jerusalem. And thereafter his legacy was, Jeroboam who made Israel to
ask myself, "What will my legacy be?" I would like it to be
the legacy of Paul as found in 2 Timothy 4:7. He says, "I have
fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith
(I have guarded the truth).
kept his eye on the goal which was to preach and to please Christ. He
finished his course. He did his part in carrying out the great
commission to preach the Gospel in all the world to everyone. In 1
Corinthians 1:23 he says, "but we preach Christ crucified, to the
Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness." In 2
Corinthians 4:5 he says, "For we do not preach ourselves, but
Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus'
sake." Like Christ, he was willing to sacrifice himself for the
sake of the Gospel. He did not sacrifice or destroy others, he sought to
first concern was to repair the house of the Lord or the temple. David
prepared the plans and the materials. Solomon built it and Josiah wanted
to repair it. Obviously, the temple was important to him just as the new
testament church should be important to those who are faithful today.
The church is the new testament temple. In repairing the temple, Josiah
found God's written word. Imagine! The word of God had been lost in the
house of God. But in restoring the house of God, he found the word of
God. He read it and believed it. He found out that God's judgment had
been promised upon Israel if they turned aside to worship other gods. He
was concerned that God was going to judge Israel because of their
departure. He turned back to the worship of Jehovah. One of the things
he did was to reestablish the Passover feast. The people of Israel got a
chance to remember that they were a redeemed people.
and Paul both left a legacy that I envy. I wonder what my legacy will
be. Will my legacy be that of one who loved the Lord, who believed that
we need to keep the religious, political and social world out of the
church? Will my legacy be that of one who believes in the power of the
Gospel to change the things that need to be changed in this world? Will
my legacy be that of one who believes that we can sing ever so sweetly,
we can preach ever so eloquently, we can be ever so moral; but if we
aren't worshiping God in spirit (in contrast to lifeless ritual) and in
truth (in contrast to worship that is not Scriptural), we aren't
worshiping at all.
think it is fairly easy to be led to do evil. Evil is in the nature of
man. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit to leave behind the legacy of
a Josiah or of a Paul. That legacy starts with a true conversion where
we turn from idols to serve the living and true God (1 Thessalonians
1:9). It requires a reverence for and a study of the word of God. We
must commune with the Lord in prayer. And we who love Him must not get
side tracked from our business of preaching and worshiping Christ.
pray that my legacy will be that "he did not turn aside."
for the week of May 19, 2013
what we should Forget, Forgetting what we should Remember!
IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE
LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR HEARTS, AND IN THEIR MINDS I WILL
WRITE THEM," then He adds, "THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS
I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE." (Hebrews 10:16-17)
Memorial Day many of us are going to go to a cemetery, and we will place
flowers on graves of our loved ones. Most of the graves will have a
stone there as a memorial to the person who has been laid to rest in
that grave. These memorial stones are a reminder of the person and of
the life that they lived.
have many kinds of memorials. We have museums that memorialize certain
periods of history. We have libraries that memorialize presidents. We
have holidays that memorialize great men. But, thankfully, God does not
have a memorial to remind Him of the forgiven sins of His saints.
Hebrews 8-10, the Lord uses an old testament prophecy found in Jeremiah
31:31-34 to show that God has made a new covenant with Israel, a nation
that had sinned against God over and over again. Under the old covenant,
God blessed the descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The blessing
involved the possession of a physical land. The worship of God under
that covenant was primarily national and ceremonial. But the new
covenant involves a change in the hearts of His people. This covenant is
spiritual and the worship is from the heart. While He makes this
covenant with Israel, Ephesians makes it clear that Jews and Gentiles
both are part of this new thing called the church and we are all saved
the same way. So I am going to believe that this new covenant is
applicable to me just as much as it is applicable to one born as a Jew.
The new covenant is expressed in Hebrews 9:28, "So Christ was
offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him
He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. Hebrews
10:38 and 39 says, NOW THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; BUT IF ANYONE DRAWS
BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM. But we are not of those
who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of
the soul." Put simply, I believe the new covenant is summarized by
John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten
Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting
God says that He will remember our sins and lawless deeds no more, He
isn't saying that He is going to lose His memory. He is saying that he
will not memorialize them any longer. He will not have some memorial
stone or some other way to make sure that these sins are being
constantly brought to mind. While He doesn't say He forgets, He does say
that the sins of the redeemed will be blotted out (Acts 3:19). I
understand this to mean that He has a book with a record of our sins in
them and the moment we trust the Savior, those sins are blotted out of
that book. The page is blank. Those sins are to be remembered no more.
Since the death of Christ was sufficient to forgive all of our sins
(past, present and future), I don't think that God writes any sins we
commit after trusting Christ in a book either.
the sins of the redeemed are not remembered or memorialized by God, our
names are remembered and memorialized. Our names are in the Lamb's Book
of Life and He knows each of us by name (Luke 10:20). I tend to forget
names, and the older I get the worse I get. But God will never forget
the names of those who trust His Son.
remembers what He should remember, and He doesn't remember what He
chooses not to bring to remembrance. We tend to remember the sins that
God doesn't remember anymore, and we tend to forget the promise that God
has made to us that He will never blot us out of His book. But this
weekend those of us who are truly believers need to make sure we are not
memorializing our sins since God has forgiven them. Also, let us renew
our commitment to memorializing the person of Christ "Who loved us
and gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20)." We can do that by
joining with a group of Christians meeting together as a local church
and sharing in a fellowship meal called the "Lord's Supper."
(See 1 Corinthians 11:17-20, 33). It is only fitting that we should
remember the Savior who died for our sins and it is only fitting that we
should thank God that those sins are remembered no more.
for the week of May 26, 2013