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MAY 2017

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Cunningly Devised Fables?

 

2 Peter 1:16-18

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

 

What does it mean to be Cunning?

One who is cunning is usually clever or skillful.  In the Bible cunning people were usually good at deceiving.  Satan was cunning or subtil in the Garden of Eden when he convinced Eve to take the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:1). David's son Ammon was crafty or subtil when he convinced Ammon to seduce his half-sister Tamar.  Absalom was perhaps the master at cunning or skillful deception.  We read, “And so it was, whenever anyone came near to bow down to him, that he would put out his hand and take him and kiss him. In this manner Absalom acted toward all Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel (2 Samuel 15:5-6)."  And when he was ready to rebel against his father we read, “And with Absalom went two hundred men invited from Jerusalem, and they went along innocently and did not know anything (2 Samuel 15:11)."

 

In one case in the Bible, being crafty or cunning or subtil seems to have been a good thing.  Saul called David crafty when David was hiding from Saul (1 Samuel 23:22).  In war and conflict it seems that being crafty or cunning is a virtue.  Paul was charged with being deceitful or cunning or crafty by getting messengers to take money from the Corinthians even though he did not burden them personally.  But Paul maintains his innocence and said that he never did that.  He never burdened them or deceived them but always tried to build them up. 

 

Truth is the Foundations of the Gospel

The Lord is the personification of Truth.  We read, “And the Word (the Son of God) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).  Again we read, “Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).”

 

I am glad that the Gospel writers left us with a true record of the Lord and of His life.  They were inspired by the Holy Spirit to remember and record that which we need to know today.  And one of the things that we need to know today is that Peter was with the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration.  He almost slept through one of the most profound events in his life; but when he tells about it in his epistle, he says he is telling the truth.  This is important because this event proves several things.

 

First, it proves that death is not the end.  When Moses died, his burial place and body were not found.  He was never allowed into the Promised Land because of his disobedience on earth, but he made it into the Promised Land after he died.  The mount was in the Promised Land. Second, both Moses and Elijah knew all about the coming crucifixion (See Luke 9: 28-36).  Third, we get a glimpse of the brightness of the glory of the Lord.  Fourth, we find out that the Lord is the One with whom the Father is well pleased, and He is the one with whom we should be occupied.

 

This was Not a Fictional Story

Peter says tat this really happened and that it wasn't a clever deception.  Neither was the resurrection a clever deception even though the priests and Pharisees tried to convince people that His body had been stolen away.

 

In a day when we often cannot tell what is true and what is a clever deception.   I am glad that I have every confidence that the events that Peter experienced on the Mount of Transfiguration were real.  By extension, I believe that the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord were real.  I believe that the Bible is the Truth and that the Lord cannot lie.  As a result, I believe that the Lord put away my sin and that one day I will enjoy seeing the Lord in His glory.  I believe that the promises of the Bible are bedrock Truth.

 

While Satan is very cunning in his deceitfulness, the Lord was never crafty or cunning, the Lord's people should not be crafty or deceiving nor should they justify those who are.  Our yes, should mean yes, and our no should mean no.  We should keep our promises and we should always do our best to tell the truth.  If we don't tell the truth about practical things, how can unbelievers know that we are telling them the truth about spiritual things?

 

Meditation for the week of May 7, 2017

Honor or Value Your Mother

 

Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  "HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER," which is the first commandment with promise: "THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU AND YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH."

 

Healthy Families

We have celebrated another Mother's day and I have seen a lot of good comments by children praising their mothers on social media.  That is as it should be.  In a healthy family, a mother should be obeyed by the children that she is raising and she should be respected or valued or honored even after the children leave home.  I have always assumed that there is a difference between the responsibilities of children in the home and adult children who are establishing independent lives.  Children in the home are to obey their parents “in the Lord”.  I think that means that even a child would have the right to disobey should a parent ask them to do something illegal or immoral.  I do not think parents have the right to make decisions for their children who have reached maturity.  But I do think those adult children should always have respect for their parents who raised them.  In the Bible, honoring them includes taking care of them in their old age.   

 

Unhealthy Families

Most of us can be glad that we were born into families that raised us to respect God, industry, morals and governmental authority.  We can be glad that we can respect the parents we were given.  I have always been glad that Jezebel or Athaliah was not my mother.   In 1 Kings 21:25 we read, “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.”  She killed the prophets of the Lord, she tried to kill Elijah, and she did kill Naboth   He was a man who would not sell his property to Ahab.  Jezebel had him killed so that Ahab could take possession of the property.  She was a woman who worshiped Baal and who had no conscience.  Or how could one honor Athaliah who killed all of the children of her son who had been king so that she could usurp the throne?   How could children obey these women while growing up and how could a godly adult child honor them?  While the Old Testament command to honor your father and mother seems to require children to honor their father and mother at all times, I am glad that the New Testament explanation clarifies the need for children to obey “in the Lord.”  I am glad that sometimes honoring a parent requires children to put the Lord first when the parents are not honoring the Lord.  I am sure that it was assumed that parents where reverent and serving Jehovah in the Old Testament when the command was given, 

 

Honorable Mothers

As we review Bible stories, there are a number of mothers that were beautiful examples of what mothers should be.  Mary the Lord's mother was one of those.  Ruth in the Old Testament was another one of those. Timothy had a mother and a grandmother that are godly examples of what mothers and grandmothers ought to be as they pass their own example of faith in the Lord on to their children.  In 2 Timothy 1:5 Paul reminds Timothy of “the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.”  Other scripture makes it clear that Timothy had to have his own personal faith in the Lord but having a mother and a grandmother that could teach him the truth and model it for him, certainly would have given him a reason to believe what they believed.

 

Godly mothers don't hide the fact that they are sinners who needed to be saved. They don't presume to teach their children to be Christians before they have taught them how to become Christians.   If you had a mother like that, be glad.  My mother is now in heaven; but if you have a living mother that you love and appreciate, tell her.  It will make her day.

Meditation for the week of May 14, 2017

What Can we Learn from the Genealogies?

 

1Ch 1:1  Adam, Seth, Enosh,

1Ch 1:2  Cainan, Mahalalel, Jared,

1Ch 1:3  Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech,

1Ch 1:4  Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

 

All Scripture is Inspired

I know that all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).  But what is the profit for us today when we read these genealogies as found in the Old and New Testaments?  I know that the genealogies trace the lineage of the Lord Jesus and prove that He is the Son of David and of Abraham.  We see some real defects among those who were used to give birth to those who gave birth to the Lord Jesus.  We have Judah producing children through a gal he thought was a prostitute but was in fact his daughter-in-law.  We have Rahab the harlot in the genealogies. These people of course teach us something about grace and mercy.   But what I have noticed in the Old Testament that intrigues me is the fact that God lists the enemies of His chosen people by name.  The descendants of Ishmael and of Esau are listed.  The descendants of the Canaanites through Ham are listed.  Nimrod who started heathen pagan worship is listed.  Why?  Why are they just not forgotten?

 

The Book of Life

I have always believed that everyone that is born has a name inscribed in God's book of life.  When people reject the Lord by rejecting Jehovah in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New, their names are blotted out.  But their names were at one time in the Lamb's book of life.  Revelation 13:8 is a little confusing when it says, “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”  But of course the Lamb was not slain from the foundation of the world.  It has been argued that since God planned the slaying of the Lamb from the foundation of the world, it was as good as done from the foundation of the world.  However, I believe that the thrust of this verse is that the names are written from the foundation of the world in the Book of Life of the Lamb that was ultimately slain. 

 

Revelation 17:8 seems to say this more clearly, “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not (found) written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.”  Revelation 21:27 is also a little confusing.  “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.” Again, I would translate this:  “Only those who are found written in the Lamb's Book of Life.”

 

God's Love

Why is the listing of God's enemies by name important?  Because it tells me that when God says that He loves the world (which means the people of the world or the society), He means that He loves the whole world.  And by listing all the names of those who became the enemy of His people and therefore of Him, He seems to show that they were personally and individually loved by Him.  Everyone brought into this world is created by God and is a part of his original masterpiece that was very good before the fall of Adam and Eve.   Anyone who ends up being cast away from God's presence forever, will only have themselves to blame. They will not be able to say that they were not loved by God.  They will not be able to say that God forgot about them when He devised His plan of salvation.  Not only are we admonished to believe or trust in the Lord for salvation, we are warned that there are consequences when we reject Him.  John 3:18 says, "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.” 

 

God Cares

I don't know when that final rejection takes place in any person's life, so I preach as though one can repent and believe until the day of one's death.  But if one is condemned, they will not be able to say that God had not taken a personal interest in them and that He didn't care.

 

Meditation for the week of May 21, 2017

Death is a Great Teacher

 

Hebrews 9:27-28 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 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.

 

Memorial Day

This weekend is a time for remembering.  We remember loved ones and military people who are in cemeteries.  Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, death has been the end of the road for all but Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11).  They were both translated directly to heaven without death.  But as we go to decorated cemeteries this weekend, we need to remember that under every headstone is a person who has died. 

 

The Problem

The problem with remembering is that sometimes our remembering is pleasant but often it is not.  I have two sisters that died prematurely.  One died through an accident and one died through a child hood disease.  Remembering their deaths always brings some sorrow.   I have many relatives and friends that have died after long productive lives and who died natural deaths.  While we miss those people, we don't grieve like we do when deaths are caused by accident or unexpected sickness.  But the deaths that really speak to me are the military deaths. 

 

Many people have given their lives for the sake of the defense of our country and in order to maintain peace.  However, lasting peace has never been obtained through war.  The Lord reminds us in Matthew 26:52, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”  Have all the wars that have been fought and all the lives that have been lost brought us lasting peace?  The answer is NO! 

 

But not only do we have the problem of wars between countries, we have the deaths occurring in our own neighborhoods because of drugs, hatred and gang warfare.  Each person who is killed is now under a headstone.  They were real people with real dreams and real potential, but now they are gone.  Who has won?  Satan has won. Many of those who have died have lived in rebellion against the Lord Jesus.  Many are now consigned to an eternal destination where they will suffer throughout eternity and they cannot change that destiny now.

 

Universal Condition of Man

Before the flood, God was sorry that he had made man.  He said, “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5).”  The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence according to Genesis 6:11. Are things different now?  NO!

 

Thousands were killed in the Old Testament wars; thousands have been killed in our World Wars that were fought to end all wars.  Thousands are being killed through terrorism and gang related warfare. Thousands are being killed in the Middle East because tribes and religions cannot get along.   And unless something changes, thousands more are going to be killed through a coming nuclear war. 

 

Satan is a Great Adversary

So what do I think about on Memorial Day weekend?  I think about all the lives that have been lost or cut short because of our adversary the Devil.  I am glad for those who have given us temporary protection from domineering cruel dictators and I honor them, but their sacrifice has not brought lasting peace.  This time of the year, I just marvel at how cruel and inhumane Satan is.  He is a master liar and deceiver.  He is a murderer.  He makes sure that the human race hates rather than loves.  He makes sure that he divides rather than unites.  And most importantly, he has convinced most in the human race to follow him rather than the Lord.  Yes, I think about lives destroyed and lost because of sin and Satan on Memorial Day weekend.  I wonder how many of those in cemeteries were ready to meet God when they died.

 

But I also think about a spiritual solution.  I realize that there will be no lasting peace until the Prince of Peace is ruling.  While he does not have His proper place on the world stage today, He has His proper place in every true believer's heart.  When we trust Him, we get peace.  The world may be heading for catastrophe, but the believer is headed for heaven.  Because of the world we live in, that might even be the result of a martyr's death.  But every headstone of every believer, reminds us that there is a solution.  It is found in the Lord Jesus.  Thank goodness that there is one tomb that is empty.  That is the tomb of the Lord.  And while Satan offers death and destruction, the Lord offers us eternal life. 

 

My prayer is that we will honor the dead this weekend, but that the memories associated with this weekend will cause us all to think about where we will spend eternity.  I pray that many will be delivered from the cruel deceptions of Satan this weekend. 

 

Meditation for the week of May 28, 2017