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Bullying is Not New!
Psalm 22:12 Many bulls have surrounded Me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me.
Dictionary dot com, the online dictionary, defines bullying as ďa blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.Ē Our school children were not the first people to be bullied. Bullying was used by the rulers of the Jews to try to intimidate the Lord during His ministry. While the Lord appeared weak, He was not. While he appeared to be one who was just a carpenter, the son of a carpenter and from the despised city of Nazareth, in fact He was and is the Son of God and He came from heaven and went back to heaven. We know that this is not just a problem of the young. All of us have seen adults bully people that they want to control and intimidate as well.
In the final week of the Lordís ministry, he made His triumphal entry in Jerusalem, offering Himself as King to the Jews.
Afterwards He cried over the city, knowing that He was going to be rejected and that destruction was coming because of it. Then he cleansed the temple of those who were making a business of religion by selling animals needed in the temple worship. They were also changing Roman money to Jewish money so that the temple taxes could be paid. All of this was apparently being done at a nice profit. Thus, in cleansing the temple, the Lord was hurting the pocket books of those who were using the temple and the temple worship for personal gain.
As we go into chapter 20, we find that those who thought they were in authority confronted the Lord. They said in verse 2 ďTell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?Ē In reality they are saying, ďWho do you think you are! What right do you have to disrupt the business that was being done in the temple?Ē And by their questions and demeanor, the threat that He would pay for what he had done was implied. Of course He did pay by being hung on a Roman cross where again the bulls mocked Him. In mocking Him, they were making sure He understood who was boss. However, they didnít really know who was boss!
The Lord used a question to prove to them that they got their authority from the people even though they were not democratically elected. When he asked them whether John the Baptist got his authority from God or man they couldnít answer. John was the Lordís herald, going before the Lord and pointing Him out as the Messiah. If they recognized Johnís authority as God given, then they were doing wrong by questioning the Lordís authority. If they didnít publicly accept John as a prophet, then they would have lost their influence with the Jewish people. So they were getting their authority from the Romans who ultimately expected them to control the people. They couldnít do this if they rejected John the Baptist. So they didnít answer the Lord proving that their authority ultimately came from the people. However, the Lordís authority came from the Father Himself who could say, ďYou are my beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased (Luke 3:22).Ē
The Lord humbled Himself, He was gracious and merciful. When He was reviled, He reviled not again. He was always the gentlemen. He spoke with authority when rebuking hypocrisy and when explaining the consequences of not accepting Him. But He never intimidated people that He considered weaker than Himself. He never bullied and neither should we.
Meditation for the week of November 3, 2013
we Fear God?
3:18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
is from the Greek word phobos. It is from a primary word phebomai (to be
put in fear); alarm or fright. The word has been translated: be afraid,
+ exceedingly, fear, terror.
Defined and Explained
fear is looked at as reverence or awe in the Bible. But often the word
that is used for fear means terror. 1 John 4:18 says love casts out fear
which involves torment. Today we preach about the God who loves us, and
we should. But that same God is a God who is going to have a day of
vengeance when he destroys His enemies. He has wrath according to John
3:36 and 2 Thessalonians 1:10. When destruction comes (and it will),
those who are so self-assured and confident now will be wanting to die.
We read about that coming wrath in Revelation 6: 12-17:
looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great
earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon
became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig
tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then
the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and
island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great
men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every
free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains,
and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on
us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the
wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath is come and who is
able to stand?"
of Reverence and Fear is Foolish
before the Lord was crucified, He told the Jewish leaders of coming
judgment. But they were in control and they had no fear of God before
their eyes. So they took an innocent man and condemned Him to death.
They mocked Him without considering that what they were doing shouldnít
be done to any man. Their own Bible said that they were to love one
another. Their own Bible warned against condemning the innocent and
letting the guilty go free. Even though God had already judged the
nation once because of their idolatry and wickedness, they still
wickedly crucified an innocent man. But what they didnít realize was
that they were crucifying their Messiah. They have already paid for that
with the destruction of Jerusalem under the Roman general Titus, but
they are not done with Godís wrath yet. When the full extent of Godís
wrath is unleashed, men and leaders and kings will want to die thinking
that will put them out of their misery. They will not consider that
"after death" is the final judgment (Hebrews 9:27). The wrath
of God against those who have rejected the Son of God will be final,
eternal and terrible.
Wrath is Real and Godís Wrath is Coming!
weekend, the Philippines have experienced one of the worst hurricanes on
record. The wise who were in the path of the hurricane fled to safety.
The wise who know that hurricanes are likely where they live, prepare
for them. The foolish who donít prepare and donít flee, often die in
them. It is fairly easy to be casual about a hurricane when the sun is
shining and the wind is calm. But when the storm starts raging, I can
only imagine the fear of those who donít flee and are caught
unprepared in the storm.
many people are living as though the Lord will never judge the Christ
rejecter. Many think that they donít need to worry; all things are
pretty much continuing as they have since creation. See 2 Peter 3:
4. But as I understand it, when God begins to
execute His vengeance, it will be sudden. 2 Thessalonians 5:3 says: For
when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction
comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall
is the time to take God seriously. God is a God of love, which is why
His wrath has not come yet. But it will come! I am glad that I feared
God and fled to the Lord for safety.
for the week of November 10, 2013
is it Going to Take?
that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness,
for His wonderful works to the children of men!
He satisfies the longing soul,
fills the hungry soul with goodness.
Cost of Departure
children of Israel had rebelled against the Lord and had been taken into
captivity. The northern ten tribes were taken captive by Assyria and the
two remaining tribes were taken captive by Babylon who also took control
of Assyria. Ultimately, the Medes and Persians took over Babylon and
Israel was forced to survive in a land that was not theirs. It was not
the land for which the faithful longed, because it was not THEIR LAND.
Ezekiel, over and over the Lord warns Israel of coming destruction
because of idolatry. But He also tells the Israelites that when the
destruction came, then the people would know that "I am the
LORD." They would realize that the Jehovah or LORD who had
originally delivered them from Egypt, the One who had fed them in the
wilderness, and the One who had defeated their enemies in war was the
One and Only God. What He wanted was their loyalty and worship. He did
not want to share that with lifeless worthless idols.
Blessing of True Restoration
in this passage, some of the Israelites are able to return to their
land. And when they do, they now understand that Jehovah is God. More
than that, Jehovah is THEIR GOD. He blesses those who are faithful to
Him and He satisfies.
to Believers Today
does it take calamity for us to understand who the Lord really is and to
understand where blessing is found? While Christians today should be
looking for heavenly promises and not earthly promises, the church is so
mired in earthly ambitions and concerns that we have become lukewarm. We
think we are rich when we are poor. We are blind and donít know it.
The Lord is standing outside the door to His church and is just waiting
for someone (anyone) to invite Him into the church. Of course I am
describing the conditions of the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:14-22, but
we are much like them today.
have been saved now for 50 years and I have watched the so-called
worship of the Lord go from spirit-led to performance-led. Much of our
worship seems to see the Lord as an onlooker that we talk about and not
as a participant to whom we talk. I have seen preaching go from that
which convicts to that which entertains. Our preachers used to be
trained by other preachers who believed and practiced the simplicity of
the Gospel and in the pattern of the Church as found and taught in the
New Testament. Now our preachers must be seminary trained by teachers
who do not practice New Testament principles, and in many cases they do
not preach a clear "how to be saved" Gospel. I have seen
people go from having the Lord and the meetings of the church taking a
preeminent place in their lives to barely being able to give the Lord an
hour on some Sunday mornings. We have gone from Christ-centered to
self-centered. We are told to go to the church of our choice when
instead we should be led to a church of the Lord's choice. What is it
going to take to make us realize that we have been turned aside from the
manna that the Lord miraculously provides for those who are just passing
through this world to the leeks, onions and garlics which taste good (to
some people) but which can only be found in Egypt where the people were
people in this Psalm had gotten back to the Lord. They had found out
what Ezekiel meant when he said that then they would know that Jehovah
was who He claimed to be and that only He can truly satisfy.
have all been disappointed with the things that we thought would satisfy
in this world. My prayer is that we who claim to be the Lordís and who
claim to believe that Jesus is Lord, would all desire to experience the
satisfaction that only the Lord can supply. May we long to be filled
with His goodness.
for the week of November 17, 2013
Agonizing instead of Asking
James 4: 2-3 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet
and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do
not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may
spend it on your pleasures.
What is the Problem?
The problem is that these Jewish Christians were not asking
the Lord to meet their needs. Instead, they were taking things into
their own hands. One could wonder if people who fight and war, murder,
feed the wrong appetites and who are friends with the world are truly
saved. Whether they are or not, James seems to think that his audience
has been born again by the word of truth. (See chapter 1 verse 18}.
Thus, he seems to be approaching them as Christians who need to consider
why they are in poverty when they are trying so hard to obtain what they
want in their own way. Jews have always been willing to fight for what
they think is theirs and James seems to be saying that instead of
fighting for their rights, they should start praying to the Lord. He
says they have not because they ask not.
How Should they Ask?
They should not be asking in a self-centered way. They
should not be asking for things that are sinful. That is really the
thought found in Psalm 66:18. David says that the Lord will not hear if
he regards iniquity in his heart. This does not mean that we have to be
sinless to pray although confession of sin is required for the kind of
fellowship that we need in order to pray. But we certainly cannot pray
for that which is sinful or which is iniquity. In addition, James says
we cannot expect the Lord to answer prayers if those prayers are simply
designed to fulfill our own lusts or pleasures.
To Whom should They Pray?
Over the years I have always tried to pray to the Father in
the name of the Lord Jesus. Praying in the name of the Lord Jesus just
simply means that His authority is being recognized in the prayer. My
name allows people to cash my checks. And I have always felt that the
Lord lets us go to the Father to cash the checks He authorizes. That is
why we pray in His name and for His will as we understand it. More
recently I have realized that it is perfectly permissible to pray
directly to the Lord as well. Paul did that on the Damascus Road when he
was first saved. He said "Lord, what do you want me to do (Acts
9:6)?" The last prayer in our Bible is addressed by the apostle
John to the Lord, "Even so come Lord Jesus (Revelation
22:20)." Peter addressed the Lord directly when he got that sinking
feeling while trying to walk on the water to the Lord. For me, praying
directly to the Lord who saved me, the One who has said He is my friend,
the One who has personally revealed God to me, makes my praying more
personal. I try to visualize the Lord listening as I pray now. I donít
think it matters as to whether we pray to the Father or whether we pray
to the Lord since they are both God and they have one mind, but I find
my praying to be more "real" when I pray to the Lord Jesus.
The Blessing of Prayer
I am one of those people who have a hard time depending on
others. I am a person who wants to fix problems and I want to fix them
now. But the blessing of prayer is that if we ask we will receive. We
donít necessarily receive immediately but we do receive. In the
millennium, the Lord will answer before people call on Him (Isaiah
65:24). I donít believe the millennium has come, but while some
complain about delayed answers, I have experienced answers for prayers
that I should have prayed but didnít.
So what is the lesson? I believe that I have likely missed
out on many blessings because I did not ask. Sometimes I have felt all
alone when In fact I was not all alone. The Lord was right there taking
care of me. It would have been nice if that care had been the answer to
prayer. Then in addition to not being alone, I could have said
for the week of November 24, 2013