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NOVEMBER 2002

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Psalm 118:24

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

 

Some days we get up and we are excited to start the day. Other days we get up feeling like maybe the day should be over before it starts. However, every day is a day that the Lord has made for us and is a day of opportunity to serve Him for which we should be thankful. This week I found out that the fellow that I was closest to in high school had died from a heart attack. I was not saved when we spent time together back then and after I left home we grew apart. I stopped in to see him a number of years back and we were obviously not living in the same world any more. I remember inviting him to some Gospel meetings that we were holding at that time and leaving him with a written copy of how I came to know the Lord. Tonight he is either in heaven or in hell (John 3:18, 36) and I wonder if anyone ever got up one morning and said, ďThis is the day that the Lord has made, let me use it to speak to John.Ē

Our verse this week encourages us to look forward to a future day that will bring blessing to those who are the Lordís. It is called the millennium when we think of the earthly blessings associated with that day. For those of us who are the Lordís heavenly people because we are trusting in the Lord for salvation, there is a future day of blessing that the Lord has made for us in the heavenly, spiritual realm. But right now is the day of opportunity. This is the day when we can be saved and when we can share that news with others (now is the day of salvation, 2 Corinthians 6:2). We should be glad and rejoice today in this day that the Lord has made.

Week of November 3, 2002

Ezekiel 3:10-11

10 Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears.

11 And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.

 

Reading through the old testament prophets recently has impressed me with the truth that a preacher or prophet (one who speaks for God) really doesnít have much choice in what He preaches. Sometimes people say that preachers tend to speak on only one theme (that they have but one string on their violin). This was certainly true of old testament prophets. For many of them, their message was that the nation of Israel had turned away from God and as a result God had turned away from Israel. However, their message included future hope and blessing because after the nation had suffered for its worship of idols and heathen gods, a remnant would be restored to the land and God would save them. This was partially fulfilled during Ezra and Nehemiahís day, but the final fulfillment of that blessing is likely still future. Old testament prophets died because their messages werenít what the people wanted to hear and a good preacher may have to tell people what they do not want to hear today.

Notice that a prophet has to hear the message before he preaches it and it often became a burden since he receives it in his heart. Notice also that the message of God has to be preached whether it is received by the audience or not. We tend to think that we are doing Godís well when multitudes receive the message. But that isnít the measure God uses. He says we are faithful when the message contains ďall my Words that I shall speak unto thee.Ē

Some of our preaching today has lost its burden. It is technically accurate and it is Biblical, but the audience is not left with the sense that they are hearing the message that has first spoken to the preacher. The lost need to see our burden that conscious eternal punishment awaits the sinner who rejects the only sacrifice that fully satisfied God (Hebrews 10:12). Our burden today should be that the Church is the Lordís and not ours, and we need to worship Him in the way that He has instructed us. Rejecting the plain teaching of Scripture as explained to the Church in the epistles is going to leave us ďashamed at His coming (1 John 2:28). The Lord doesnít allow us to pick and choose what we believe, neither does he allow preachers to pick and choose what they are willing to preach. Preachers need to have a burden and we need to preach all that God has asked us to preach.

Week of November 10, 2002

Luke 15:24

For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

 

We read stories of children being lost in cornfields. We all know the joy associated with finding those children alive. It is a terrible thing for a child to be lost, both for the child and for the parent. I suppose there is one thing worse than being lost and that is being lost and not knowing it. Perhaps not knowing one is lost is not as upsetting but it is far more dangerous. Spiritually, we are all lost in sin before we are found and saved by Godís grace and mercy (Ephesians 2:8).

When I ask people if they are going to heaven, most say that they donít know. I have a friend who was asked that by his future father-in-law. When my friend responded that he didnít know, his future father-in-law asked him what a person was called who didnít know where he was going. The answer of course was ďlostĒ. Other people travel through life not caring where they are going. I saw a sign (in a nursing home of all places) that asked the question, ďIf you donít know where you are going, how can you expect to get there?Ē If you donít know where you are going, I think you are lost. But that is just the kind of person the Lord came to seek and to save (Luke 19:10).

The prodigal son in our story was lost to his father by deliberate disobedience. He wasnít found until he realized that he had taken a wrong turn and was in desperate need. That need was met by his father when the prodigal son in true repentance acknowledged his wrong turn and threw himself on the mercy of his father. The father rejoiced to see the son find his way back to the place of blessing. Whether we apply the story to those who are born again who have made a wrong turn or to those who by unbelief and willful disobedience have rebelled against God the Father, the message is the same. Turn around and come back home to the merciful Father you have rebelled against. You will rejoice, the Father will rejoice and the Fatherís servants will rejoice. Hypocrites like the elder son who never realized he had done anything wrong are the only ones who will be upset.

Week of November 17, 2002

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1Thessalonians 5:18

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20

Thanksgiving, the only truly Christian holiday, is here again. It hasnít been corrupted by commercialism nor by the pagan practices of those who worship the things God has made rather than the God who made them. The only problem with this holiday from a Biblical point of view, is that it should occur every day, not just once a year.

Most of us would have to admit that we are not given to saying thank you. We are more given to grumbling and complaining. We are a lot like the children of Israel who after being miraculously delivered out of the slavery of Egypt find themselves closed in by the Red Sea with the Egyptians pursuing them. So they say to Moses, their deliverer, in Exodus 14:11:

Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou (Moses) taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?

Then, after miraculously passing through the Red Sea, they come to Marah in three days complaining again as it is recorded in Exodus 15:

23 And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. {Marah: that is Bitterness}

24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?

25 And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet:

Life can hand us some bitter or poisonous waters but when we bring the tree (or figuratively the cross of Christ) into the circumstances, they are made sweet. How can we complain when we think of what the Lord was willing to suffer that we might have our sins forgiven by trusting in Him?

I read once that because of1Thessalonians 5:18 we were to be thankful in all circumstances but not for all circumstances. I thought that was pretty encouraging until one day I read Ephesians 5:20 and I realized that we are to be thankful for all things as well as in everything. I will freely admit that I do not live up to this standard.  Those who do keep their hearts and minds occupied with the cross of Christ which is able to make bitter circumstances sweet. They are the people with truly thankful hearts.

Week of November 24, 2002