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OCTOBER 2007

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Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (NKJV)

John 10:3 "To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out." (NKJV)

John 10:27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." (NKJV)

 

Sheep are considered dumb although that may not be true. On July 30, 2004, BBC News on-line carried an article that showed sheep can be quite intelligent. They were able to figure out how to get over cattle grids so that they could rummage around in neighborhood gardens. They are also known to have a "herd mentality" where they want to do what the other sheep are doing. So while sheep may be smart, they have a tendency to play "follow the leader."

Most of us would like to think that we are individuals who think for ourselves. Biblically that doesn't seem to be the case. We ALL play "follow the leader" when it comes to the decisions that we make in this life. Our individuality seems to come in choosing the leader that we want to follow. Some of us may follow intellectuals, and some of us may follow entertainers and some may follow politicians. But ultimately, we all follow Satan or we follow Christ.

The story is told of a student who could not understand subtraction. He had addition down fairly well but, somehow, subtracting numbers didn't make sense to him. His teacher knew that his family raised sheep so she tried to use them to illustrate subtraction. She drew a pen on the blackboard and put four sheep in the pen. Then she drew a hole in the pen and moved one sheep from inside the pen to the outside. Then she asked her student, "If one sheep goes through that hole, how many sheep will there be in the pen and how many will be outside the pen?" The student quickly responded, "Four will be outside the pen." The teacher said, "You don't understand subtraction." The student said, "I may not understand subtraction, but you don't understand sheep." The student knew that if one went through the hole, the others would follow. The Lord says, "All we like sheep have gone astray." We may think that we are making our own decisions and that we are thinking for ourselves, but unless we have broken free from the "herd mentality", we will never follow the Lord. And Satan doesn't really care whom we follow as long as those we follow keep us from following the Lord.

When we see that we are being led astray, then and then only will we want the Lord to be our leader. When we understand our sin and rest in Christ for salvation, then we become sheep that belong in a different pasture. Instead of the world feeding us, the Lord feeds us. The Lord leads us instead of Satan and those he uses to deceive us. These are the sheep that in my mind are thinking for themselves. These are the ones who are intelligent. These hear the voice of the Lord and respond to it. These sheep are called by name by the Lord, and they respond to the voice of their shepherd. I have seen sheep called by a stranger, and they totally ignored the stranger. The moment the shepherd called the sheep, they came racing across the pasture to be with their shepherd. The Lord's sheep hear His voice and they follow Him.

There is nothing quite like having the Lord as your shepherd because He cares. David says that the Lord is a shepherd who provides for us and who is always with us (Psalm 23:1-4), He knows the names of His sheep and takes a personal interest in them. If we all have a "herd mentality", it is nice to be in the right herd.

 

Meditation for the week of October 7, 2007

Isaiah 30:21 Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left. (NKJV)

 

Israel had become a people that did not want the prophets to prophesy to them because they didn't want to hear what God had to say (v 10). But the day will come when they will be restored to the Lord. Then they will want to hear His voice guiding them. We are much like the nation of Israel. When we are away from the Lord, we will not be listening for the Lord's voice. But when we realize that the Lord's ways are the right ways, then we will want to hear His voice giving us direction and guidance.

Hearing the voice of the Lord is indeed a privilege. Samuel heard the voice of the Lord as a child at a time in the nation's history when the Lord was not generally speaking through prophets. He became a man who was known for listening to the Lord and then speaking faithfully for the Lord. He did "let none of his words fall to the ground (1 Samuel 3:19)."

Elijah was guided by the word of the Lord when he heard a still small voice at Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:12). The Lord did not speak to him through a strong wind, nor did He speak to Him through an earthquake, nor did He speak through a fire, but He did speak to Elijah with a still small voice. That voice asked Elijah why he was where he was because it was not where the Lord had sent Him. He was at Mount Horeb as a result of fleeing in fear from Jezebel.

We know that hearing the word of the Lord and trusting what we hear will assure us that we possess eternal life and that we will not come into judgment. His voice will assure us that we have already been raised from the dead spiritually (John 5:24). Many of us can say that we heard the voice of the Lord when we were saved. We may have heard His voice through the words of a song, through the words of a preacher or through the words of Scripture. We know that we heard the voice of the Lord because we have found Scripture that confirms the message that we heard. But how many of us have heard the voice of the Lord since we have been saved?

If we are listening, the Lord will speak to us just like He did Samuel. We will be able to authoritatively speak for the Lord, because it will be obvious that He has spoken to us. We won't have to say, "I think" or "It seems to me", but we will be able to say, "God says."  And when we are asked how we know what God says, we will be able to show what God says from the Bible.

If we are listening to the Lord, the Lord will guide us. He will say, "This is the way, walk in it." The Bible is clear that God's way in not the popular way (Matthew 7:13-14). Instead of listening to those who seem to be experts, we will be listening to the Lord Himself. It is nice when we are so close to the Lord that when he speaks to our consciences, we hear. The Lord should not have to speak to us through the winds, and fires and earthquakes of life. These things are sometimes needed to get our attention. But if He has our attention, we can listen to Him speak to our hearts when things are calm and when the Lord uses His "still small voice". He shouldn't have to yell if we are listening.

Success will not necessarily result from hearing the voice of the Lord. Isaiah volunteered for a mission when the Lord spoke to him in Isaiah 6:8-10. How many of us would want to hear the voice of the Lord commission us to go on a mission that was destined to fail? That was Isaiah's situation. We think that the Lord is speaking when he makes our ministries successful, our followers numerous and faithful, and our fund-raising profitable. But Isaiah listened when he was told that his mission would not be successful.

I believe that the Lord wants to speak to us yet today. But do I want to hear his voice? Will I do what He asks? If I will not listen, I suspect the Lord will quit speaking.

Meditation for the week of October 14, 2007

Matthew 8:25-26

Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" But He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

 

Life can be a lot like the Sea of Galilee. One moment everything is calm and the next moment the storms of life are so furious that we lose hope. The disciples must have forgotten Who the Lord was when they thought they were about to perish. The Lord is the creator of the heavens and the earth. He is the one who gives us life and breath. He is eternal. So if the Lord is in the ship, it simply cannot sink.

We are traveling from birth to death as we go from one shore to the other. We know that when we are saved the Lord makes promises that assure us that we cannot perish eternally, but sometimes we wonder if the Lord is with us in a practical way. In John 10:28 He says, "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.h Yet when the storms of life blow there are times when we wonder if the Lord is sleeping instead of taking care of us as a good shepherd should. But if the Lord is traveling with us, how can storms of life sink our ships?

Many people seem to have lost their faith in Christ. It would seem that their ships have sunk. I suppose that it is possible that some of these people never really understood the power of the Gospel and have never realized that Who we have our faith in is by far more important than the quality of the faith that we have. I do not think that Satan can destroy our ship if the ship represents true faith in Christ because He cannot destroy Christ. He tried to do destroy Him by persecuting the Godly lineage of Christ so that there would be no literal son of King David. He tried to destroy Him by persecuting Him in the wilderness. He tried to destroy Him by persecuting Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. But He could not destroy Christ. The resurrection is the proof that Christ has been victorious. It is not faith that saves, but it is faith in Christ that saves. And the boat cannot sink if Christ is really in it.

The boat can also represent a fellowship or as a congregation of people who are in the same place at the same time because of their link to the Lord Jesus. We are told that as we travel through life we need to be in a boat where there is not just friendship but fellowship (See Acts 2:42 and Hebrews 10:25). Where there is true fellowship we are fellows in the same ship. But how many times have we seen fellowships buffeted and destroyed by winds of adversity? Maybe we have built our own churches and have left the Lord outside the door (Revelation 3:20) because the church that the Lord is building cannot be destroyed. In Matthew 16:18, the Lord says, "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock (that is, the truth that Jesus is the Christ) I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.h We know that individual congregations have been destroyed. But the Lord's work continues and the true universal church that the Lord and not man is building will never be defeated. There will always be groups of believers that are faithful to the Lord and who will be remembering Him guntil He comesh (1 Corinthians 11:25). If the Lord is in the ship, how can it possibly perish?

As Christians, Satan may buffet us and he may growl at us and he may try to scare us. He may cause us to go through storm after storm. We may wonder why we seem to have all the problems while people who don't have a conscience seem to be blessed. But if He is truly in our ship, our ship cannot sink. When the storms of life howl, confidence in the Lord and a little talk with Him will calm the storms. Even if the Lord seems to be sleeping we can be sure that our boat will not sink no matter how bad the storm gets.

 

Meditation for the week of October 21, 2007

Psalm 107:9 For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness.
Ecclesiastes 1:8 All things are full of labor; Man cannot express it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor the ear filled with hearing.

 

The word “satisfy” can have several meanings. It can mean to provide contentment by fulfilling desires or needs. It can mean to convince or give assurance. It can mean that objections and doubts are removed. A Christian should have all of these blessings because the Lord wants to satisfy the longing or empty soul. I believe that we are born with a spiritual hunger that cannot be satisfied until God Himself satisfies it. That is why the Lord is sometimes presented as the living water and sometimes He is presented as the bread from heaven. 

I have a tract that is titled, “God is satisfied, are you?” While the tract addresses that question to unbelievers, the question could certainly be asked of those of us who are saved as well. God was satisfied with the death of His son and He proved it by raising Him from the dead. That sacrifice had sufficient value to save every man woman and child that has ever been born. But we didn't receive the blessing of salvation that the sacrifice provides for us until we were satisfied with the death of Christ. When we were satisfied that God was satisfied, it was not difficult to rest on the Truth that Christ had died to save us. But now that we are saved, do we act like a satisfied people? Do we wrestle with the truths of Scripture? Do we have trouble getting along with other Christians? Do we wish we born richer or better looking or into a different social group? Some of us have trouble accepting ourselves and our lot in life, and we will never be able to be truly satisfied until we realize that God has accepted us just as we are, and we need to accept ourselves as well. That doesn't mean that we should be satisfied when we sin. We shouldn't be! But we should be satisfied with Christ and we should be satisfied with His Word. We should be satisfied with letting God be God. 

Accepting things that we cannot change and accepting the will of God should keep us satisfied. One of my friends has said, “Acceptance... That's sort of like saying, 'Not my will, but Yours be done', isn't it? I think it's key to our relationship with God. Always putting to death the self-will and feeding the 'Christ-will'." 

If we were satisfied, I think we would be content. The natural appetites are normally never satisfied even though Paul could honestly say in Philippians 4:11, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” So if I am satisfied with Christ, I should be satisfied that He knows what He wants and that He knows what He is doing even in circumstances that I do not like or understand.

I have been asking myself if the Lord has really satisfied me. Or am I wrestling with Him like Jacob did in Genesis 32? Until I am satisfied with Christ, until I quit wrestling with Him and start trusting Him for the circumstances of life, until I start letting God be God; I am sure that I will never really enjoy the contentment and the assurance that comes with being satisfied. If I would always listen when He speaks, I am sure that He would answer my objections and dispel my doubts. I would be satisfied.

I hope someday to be able to honestly sing, “Now none but Christ can satisfy.” I don't usually sing that song when we are asked to sing it in congregational settings because I know that it isn't really completely true in my life. Often I labor for things that do not really satisfy when all the time satisfaction is available without work, without money and without price. Isaiah 55:1 and 2 says, "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance.”

Meditation for the week of October 28, 2007