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OCTOBER 2002

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Philippians 4:8

Finally (or in conclusion), brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest (or honorable), whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

 

The mind is a wonderful thing. It has almost infinite storage capabilities. It’s ability to process data far exceeds any chip Intel has made. It can organize and file and recall without effort--except for the name of that acquaintance that we are trying to impress (even though the name is right on the “tip of our tongue“.) However, to be “all that it can be”, the mind needs to be disciplined (or trained).

We discipline the body by exercise and proper eating. We discipline the mind by proper thinking. This involves diligent study, and careful meditation. However, with the information overload that assaults us every day, it is hard to discipline our minds to think right. Yet our minds control our behavior. That is why our mothers (and fathers) trained us to “mind” or obey them.

How can we discipline our minds properly? Paul says to “think on these things”. The things he wants us to think on will not sell newspapers but they will promote spiritual (and possibly physical) health. We can’t think on these things and be gossips or be critical or be suspicious. The best way to think on these things is to think on the Lord Jesus Christ since He is the only one who has all of these attributes. He is honorable, just, pure and lovely. The Gospel or good news that He is the Savior of sinners is a good report which the resurrection confirms. He was intrinsically excellent and worthy of commendation. He is the one we worship and the one with whom we should occupy our minds if we have really come to believe in Him.

Week of October 6, 2002

Job 13:15, Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.

 

I have been doing some personal musing. I was at a conference where one of the speakers spoke of the faith of George Mueller and his miraculous answers to prayer. At first I was thrilled to think that if I cleansed my heart and my life and had faith in God asking according to His will, that I too could move mountains. But then I began to wonder how Job would have felt about that message. He knew of no sin in his life that should have caused him to lose his family, his business, and his health and which had placed great stress on his married life (Job 2:9). He believed that he had walked faithfully before God and yet here he was, bankrupt and in physical and mental pain, with friends who were accusing him of sin that they could not prove and that he knew did not exist. At that time, even though he didn’t know the reasons for his circumstances, he proved his loyalty to the living God of heaven by saying, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”

Isn’t it really true that we prove the reality of our faith in God in the valley of trial rather than in the mountain top of success? Paul wanted to go into Asia in Acts 16 but the Lord wanted him to go to Greece. When he prayed, the boat didn’t leave the dock nor did the plane leave the airport. We don’t know how the Lord resisted his movements but I am sure that it could have seemed that the Lord was not answering his prayers. However, after the frustration of not being able to do what seemed to be the will of God, he got his “Macedonian call” and went to Greece and the Gospel went west rather than east. We are likely saved because of that crossroad in Paul’s life.

At the cross, the Lord said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). He was willing to trust His God in a fatherly way, even though he had just been forsaken by God during the darkest three hours this earth has ever known.

Trusting God is easy when the wind is at our backs, the road is downhill, the sun is shining and we have just had a miraculous answer to prayer. But the real proof of our faith comes in the adverse circumstances; when the baby dies and everybody around you has a healthy family; when the business goes south or you lose your job and everybody else is prospering; when the assembly that you worked so hard to build up is destroyed and others seem to have successful ministries; when those you thought were friends accuse you of sin that you know you did not commit; when you pray and pray and pray for some heartfelt burden and the sky seems like brass. Those times are the times when we need to understand the preciousness of having our faith tried (1 Peter 1:7). Those are the times when the heart of God must be touched as our faith triumphs over logical reasoning and we are able to say, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”

Week of October 13, 2002

2Co 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

2Co 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

2Co 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

 

Have you ever reconciled your bank account when it seemed that the bank must have made an error because you couldn’t get your check book balance to agree with the bank balance? How many times has the bank been in error? I have done many bank reconciliations over the years and I can only remember finding bank errors twice. If the balances cannot be brought into agreement the problem is usually with us and not with the bank. If we have not been reconciled to God, again the problem is with us and not with God.

We are commanded to be reconciled (brought into agreement) with God. If we are saved we are reconciled to God and we now have the ministry or service or responsibility of helping others to be reconciled. When two parties are “out of balance or disagreeing”, they need to be reconciled “or brought into agreement”. In our relationship with God, there is no adjustment needed on His part. The adjustments are needed on our part. Recognizing that we are wrong and that God is right is the first step in agreeing with God. These adjustments are called “repentance” or a change of mind that is reflected in a changed life. When we are truly repentant, we are truly agreeing with God. We must agree with Him about our sin and we must agree with Him that salvation is through the work of His Son and not through our own efforts to “live right”. When we truly agree with God, we are in a frame of mind where we can trust In the Lord Jesus Christ. When we trust Him, we have the problem of sin solved because then our sins are forgiven ( Acts 13:38). When our sins are forgiven, we are reconciled to God.

I always give a sigh of relief, when I get my check book balance to agree with the bank’s. I have greater sense of relief knowing that I am in agreement with God because His Son was willing to die that my sins might be forgiven and I might be reconciled to God.

Week of October 20, 2002

Genesis 3:1, 1 Peter 5:8

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

 

When the twin towers fell in New York City on September 11, 2001, I had a conversation with a man who asked how anyone could do such a thing. My answer was that this event proved the reality of Satan’s existence. This week, I had a Bible study where we were discussing the temptation of the Lord by Satan in Luke 4. I was asked, “Do you think Satan is insane?” My answer was, “Yes, I think Satan is insane, but I think he is very responsible and accountable for what he does.” Whether you agree or not, one thing is certain, Satan has proved himself to be real and to be a great destroyer by the things that are happening in this world. He destroys both through the subtle deceit of the serpent and through ferocious attack of the lion.

The reason I think Satan is insane is that he never gives up even when He has lost the battle. He was defeated at the cross and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus proves that. Another reason that I think he is insane is that he is determined to destroy (devour) and murder for no good reason even if he is destroyed in the process. That is not good thinking. Satan is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) and he is in the business of hate and murder (1 John 3:11-15, John 8:44).

Satan presents himself in many ways. But one of the most dangerous is when in he says in a subtle and coy way, “Yea, hath God said?” If we are made to question the Word of God, Satan takes away the certainty of God’s promises and the foundation of our faith. He thus destroys the unsaved by causing them to reject the promises of God and he destroys the well-being of many Christians by causing them to doubt their beliefs and to believe their doubts. Paul calls these doubts in Ephesians 6:16, “the fiery darts of the wicked (one).”

The God I worship is in the saving business and not in the hating business. His word is dependable and His promises are “yea and amen”! Since our Lord is one who loves and does not hate, His people should be the same. Paul the apostle was a roaring lion that destroyed even though he thought was pleasing God in the early part of Acts. He seems to have seen his error when he witnessed Stephen say, “ Lord, lay not this sin to their charge” as the Jews stoned him to death in Acts 7. Stephen was in the saving business and not the hating business. Up until then, Paul had been in the hating business and not the saving business. After his conversion, Paul changed the business he was in. Which business are we in?

Week of October 27, 2002