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NOVEMBER 2010

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Is There any Word from the Lord?

 

Jeremiah 37:17 then Zedekiah the king sent and took him out. The king asked him secretly in his house, and said, "Is there any word from the LORD?" And Jeremiah said, "There is." Then he said, "You shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon!"

 

There are times when it seems that God is silent. However in these last days He has spoken to us through His Son (Hebrews 1:2). Old testament prophets heard him speak to them, and they spoke to the people. Some heard Him in dreams and visions of the night (Job 33:14-15). Likewise new testament prophets have left their messages in the Bible for us. God has spoken in various ways. Are we listening?

Some of the message is about love and grace. Some of the message is about coming judgment. Just as Jeremiah's audience wanted him to tell them what they wanted to hear, we are like that today as well. Jeremiah's audience wanted to believe that they could win the battle against Babylon. Because they had sold themselves into idolatry, they could not be saved from Babylon. God's message through Jeremiah was faithful and true and came to pass. The message that God has given us in His written word is also faithful and true and will come to pass.

While the whole Bible is God's word and is profitable, there are parts of it that really speak to me. God didn't give us His message to confuse us but to enlighten us. One verse that is God's Word for today is found in Acts 4:12 which says, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

God's word says we must be saved. Saved from what? We must be saved from the eternal judgment that our sins deserve. In the passage, an impotent man was saved from the practical consequences of sin. The world is lost in sin because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve. The earth and everything in it has been cursed because of this disobedience. This man did nothing to deserve to be lame, but lame he was. We might argue that we have done nothing to deserve the sin nature with which we were born; but, nevertheless, we have the sin nature. We have sinned as the result of our nature, and we must be saved. Christ was the solution that the nation of Israel had rejected. But He is the means by which we must be saved. Our salvation is not a physical salvation from a sickness or disease. Our salvation is a spiritual deliverance from the consequences of sin. Christ has been raised from the dead and there were many witnesses to this fact. He ascended to heaven, and He is coming again. When we meet Him, He will either be our Savior or our Judge. Our word from the Lord is that we MUST be saved.

If we must be saved, then the question is asked, "What must I do to be saved?" (See Acts 16:30-31.) The answer is simple: "Trust (believe in) the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved." Also if your household believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, they will be saved. Actually, all who believe in the Lord Jesus will be saved. Notice the answer is really, "Nothing!" We can't do anything to be saved, because it was all done by the Lord. All we can do is trust the Lord when He says that He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).

What happens if we don't believe this "word from the Lord". Peter asks the question, "If the righteous one is scarcely (or with difficulty) saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear (1 Peter 4:18)?" Salvation was "with difficulty" because of the cost of salvation to God. However, if we don't believe this "word from the Lord", God says we are "condemned already" as the following passage says:

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 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 (John 3:16-18)."

Is there a word from the Lord? There is!

 

Meditation for the week of November 7, 2010

What Does it Mean to Perish?

 

John 3:15 "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

The Lord uses love to draw us to Himself, but He also warns us of the consequences of not trusting in Him. In the old testament, the children of Israel were blessed and protected by God. They were told to worship the LORD only. The LORD wanted their undivided loyalty and worship. Yet, in spite of all that He had done for the nation, they turned away from Him. In Ezekiel, they were told that destruction was coming so that those who did not know the LORD would know Him. Ezekiel 6:10 says, "And they shall know that I am the LORD; I have not said in vain that I would bring this calamity upon them." So the calamity that was coming was to be the means of converting the nation of Israel so that they "knew" the LORD. The word "know" means that they would have an intimate relationship with Him. Just as a man and his wife have an intimate relationship that should not be shared with others, the LORD did not want to share His relationship with Israel with other gods.

In the new testament, we are told that unbelievers will perish. Unbelievers do not have a relationship based on trust in the Lord even though they may have a form of religion. Some of them may be living immorally if they do not believe that they are accountable to God. All of them are are worshiping themselves and what they "think" is right, rather than worshiping the Lord. Whether people would see unbelievers as good people or as bad people, the Bible says that these people perish. But, what does it mean to perish?

Some times the word is used for those who are lost and are therefore unusable. Sometimes the word means to die or to be destroyed. What does it mean for the unbeliever? It means that the unbeliever will lose his "well-being" after death but not his "being" or existence. Some teach that death is the end. The Bible teaches otherwise. The Bible is clear that because Christ arose, we can be sure that we will be raised from the dead as well. Some are raised in the resurrection of life and some are raised in the resurrection of damnation (John 5:29). These two resurrections are 1000 years apart (see Revelation 20:4-6). Those raised in the resurrection of life are blessed, those raised in the resurrection of damnation will be condemned forever in the Lake of Fire and Brimstone with the Devil and his representative that rules on earth during the tribulation period. This is a place of eternal torment.

Because the idea of such punishment is difficult for us to accept particularly when we are taught that God is a loving God, many people would like to believe that the idea of perishing just means that we cease to exist. They would like to believe that people who perish unsaved, die and just are no more. Others would like to believe that they may die and go to eternal torment, but that they are annihilated there. But that isn't what the Bible says. Just as eternal life for the believer isówell, eternal. Eternal punishment for the unbeliever isówell, eternal.

I believe that those who reject Christ now are going to bow before the Lord and acknowledge Him for who He is in eternity. But it will be too late to be saved. Philippians 2:10-11 says, " that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Every knee will bow and every tongues will confess. This means that they exist, but their existence will be an existence of torment in a place where they will have to confess that they were wrong, and that the Lord was the One that could have saved them in this life.

I do not like to preach about the eternal judgment of God; however, it is part of the Gospel. I know people who say that they came to the Lord because of His love. I am not one of those. If it had not been for the fact that I wanted to be saved from eternal conscience punishment when I died, I might have put off the matter of my salvation until it was too late. If I had believed that there was a second chance to be saved after we died or that when we died it was "all over," I might never have come to "know the Lord".

God is a God of love. He showed that by allowing His son to undergo the punishment that we deserve because of our sin. A person might not agree that they would do things the way God has done them, but God is God. If we acknowledge our sin and trust the Lord Jesus we will "know" Him now. We will be saved. The alternative is simply not an option.

Meditation for the week of November 14, 2010

Thank you Lord!

 

Revelation 7:11-12 All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen."

 

There is worship in heaven and that worship involves thanksgiving. Someday we will be there, and we will be worshiping God with thanksgiving if we have truly trusted in the Lord Jesus Who is the One who gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20). He is the only One who ever walked this earth Who is truly worthy of our worship.

"Thank you" are words that do not come easy for many people. We would like to be self-sufficient. To thank someone tends to imply that we received a blessing we didn't earn or maybe even deserve. But thank God, if we are saved, that is exactly what happened. Paul says that it is by grace that we are saved through faith in Christ. He says it is not of our own works of righteousness because then we could boast. (See Ephesians 2:8-10).

We need to be thankful that we have a Bible in our own language and that we have a country that demands that an attempt be made to teach us to read. While there are some people who never can learn to read and need help in order to know and understand God's word, the rest of us are without excuse when it comes to our relationship with God. Bibles are freely available in most motels/hotels. They are available cheaply in many stores. Most of us have one or two gathering dust at home. Nearly all of us can read and understand John 3:16, and a person really wouldn't have to have more than that to know how to keep from perishing eternally.

We need to be thankful that God sent His unique Son to this world to become the sacrifice that satisfied Him on our behalf. The day that the Lord was born was a very important day. It was a day that was filled with joy and promise. The day that the Lord died was probably the blackest day in the history of mankind and was filled with sorrow. The day when the Lord was raised from the dead turned sorrow into joy (John 16:20) and gives us assurance that Christ Jesus has satisfied God. Because of that very important day, we who trust Him are forgiven and go free. We know that we too will one day be raised from the dead because of that day.

But the most important day in our lives is our day of salvation. It is the day when we like Nicodemus in John 3 met the Lord and found out that we didn't understand how God saves. We found out that we were lost but that the Lord Jesus did come to be our Savior. We can know all about that and not be saved. It is not until we personally rest on the truth that Christ died for us that we are saved. When we trust what a person says, we are trusting the person; and we must trust the Lord to be saved. The gift of eternal life that is offered must be received by faith. That happened for me in 1963 just before Thanksgiving.

I can truly say and I hope you can too:

 

Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul,
Thank you, Lord, for making me whole;
Thank you, Lord, for giving to me
Thy great salvation so rich and free.

 

Meditation for the week of November 21, 2010

Trying to Convince the Unconvinced!

 

Ezekiel 39:27-28

When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations, then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer.

 

Ezekiel prophesied when the children of Israel were in captivity in Babylon. His message was "then shall they know that I am the Lord." He says this about the nation of Israel, but He also says it about nations that were the enemies of Israel. God intends to use judgments involving wars and natural disasters to make people understand who He is. He also intends to show mercy to Israel as a nation to convince the world that He is the LORD. The LORD (or Jehovah) has tried to convince the people of Israel that He is God and that there is no other down through the nation's history. Moses met the Lord on the back side of the desert when he saw a bush burning that was not consumed and introduced Him to the nation of Israel and to Egypt. This story starts in Exodus 3.

While Israel should have known that the Lord Jehovah was their God, they constantly turned away from Him to serve the idols of the lands around them. People in the world in general are also ignorant when it comes to Who God is. How can people be convinced to worship the one and only creator God who has provided redemption for them?

Some would like to meet and talk to this God personally. Well, God sent His Son so that they could do that. He tells us that when we have seen the Son, we have seen Him (John 14:9-10). Did this convince the Jews who knew the prophecies of the old testament and who should have recognized the Lord as God when He came? No! Instead they crucified Him.

Some would like to see great miracles in order to believe in the one true God. God gave us the flood. Scientists and geologists find good reason to believe in a world wide flood, but has that convinced the world to worship the one true God? No, they would rather serve gods of their own "vain imaginations (Romans 1:21-25)." Others foolishly deny that the God who has given them breath really exists.

However, God didn't stop with the flood. He gave us Jonah who was three days and three nights in the belly of a fish. Of course, people who don't want to believe in God deny the validity of this story. Then God told us that just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the fish's belly, the Lord would be three days and three nights in the grave (Matthew 12:40). Has the resurrection which was witnessed by many convinced the world that the Lord Jesus is really "the LORD" that should be trusted and worshiped? No!

Some believe that if God is really God, He should judge immorality and sin. He did that time after time in the old testament. However, instead of believing God because of these judgments, we often hear unbelievers say that God is unfair and unjust because of the wars and judgments that took place in the old testament.

What will it take to convince people that Jesus is God and that He is also the One that revealed Himself as Jehovah or the ever existing One in the old testament? Nothing can convince those whose minds are already made up and set in stone. Nothing will convince those who do not want accountability to this God.

I have been convinced, however, that the Lord Jesus is this one true and living God. By faith we understand (Hebrews 11:3). I realize that we all have faith in a lot of things that we probably shouldn't trust. Most people make promises that they can't and won't keep, and yet we try to be trusting rather than suspicious. Most business warranties run out just before their products fail, yet we continue to do business with those companies.

Why do we hold God to a higher standard than we do our friends and our businesses? I personally have great confidence that what God has promised, He is able to perform (Romans 4:21). I KNOW that the Lord Jesus is the LORD my God, and because of that I have every confidence that my sins are forgiven and that one day I will be with Him in heaven for eternity. I am thankful that I am simple enough to just believe God.

 

Meditation for the week of November 28, 2010