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OCTOBER 2009

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Growing Up

 

1Corintians 13:8-12

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

 

The church has grown up and that is what Paul meant when he says, "when that which is perfect (or mature or grown up) has come." Paul lived in the days of an immature church. He uses himself as an analogy in this passage to explain what will happen when the church matures. He did certain things as a child that he put away when he grew up. So it is in the church. The infant church did things that the mature church does not do. In the mature church there is a complete revelation of God. That doesn't mean that we understand everything that has been revealed. In the childish church, there is a tendency to believe everyone and everything (Ephesians 4:13-14). But when the church becomes a "perfect man" or a mature adult, there is full knowledge of the Son of God. There is stability. There will be no more of the Lord revealed when the church is grown up. We know all about the Lord in the same way that the Lord knows all about us.

In the immature church, it was necessary to speak in different dialects miraculously so that the Jews would believe that God was the author of all that had taken place in Jerusalem. The Jews still needed to be convinced that Jesus was their Messiah since they had rejected Him as a nation. The early church didn't have a complete revelation of God's will so they needed apostles and prophets who could speak for God. The apostles and prophets needed to convince the Jews that they were speaking for God through these "sign gifts." But with the writing down of the book of Revelation by John, the need for these "sign" gifts ceased. The church had matured and now had "full knowledge".

Does a mature church make for a spiritual church? Not necessarily. In the churches of Revelation 2 and 3, Ephesus had zeal and love when they were first established but later they "lost" that "first love". By the time we get to Laodicea, they are half-hearted about everything. They don't even recognize that the Lord is on the outside and not on the inside of "His" church. How would the Lord would rate our love for Him and our love for one another in our churches today? Do we have a lot of mature knowledge while losing our "heart," that is, our love for God and for His people?

I am glad that I live in a day where we have a complete revelation of God and His will. I am glad that God has given us the Holy Spirit to guide and instruct us in understanding all that He has revealed. I am glad for those who have provided dictionaries and histories that explain the language and customs of those that wrote down the Bible. I don't know how I would have preached the Gospel in the early church when they didn't have a complete Bible and many didn't have the education necessary to read the old testament that they had. It would have been expensive to have a personal copy of any part of the old testament. Since faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17), I am glad that I can take people to the Bible and show them what it says. I couldn't have done that in the early church. But just because we have the Bible, that does not mean that we have the love that is always effective. Paul tells us to pursue that love (1 Corinthians 14:1).

I hope you love your Bible and that you read it expecting God to speak to you through it. I hope that it is precious to you. I hope that you have some understanding of the difference between the old testament and the new testament and that you don't put yourself under the bondage of the old testament law. But I also hope that you have faith enough to believe God when He speaks directly to the church in the new testament.

We who are believers today are part of a mature church. Let us also be part of a faithful zealous church that loves the Lord and loves one another. May we be grown up enough to pursue the love that is eternal and that is always effective.

 

Meditation for the week of October 4, 2009

Unfinished Business

 

Isaiah 38:1

In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, "Thus says the LORD: 'Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.'"

 

If an actual prophet were to tell us that we were about to die an early death, we would probably see our lawyers so that we could leave a current will. We would probably make funeral plans. We would probably want to say goodbye to those that we love. We might get all the bills paid up to date and we might even do some repair work on the house so that our family wouldn't have to do that after we were gone. The problem is that prophets have told us that we are going to die; however, none of us believe that it is going to be today or tomorrow. Therefore we do not make adequate preparation for that day.

If the prophet told us that we were going to die but that we had a month to get our houses in order, what would we do in that month? In addition to those things already mentioned, some would travel, some would spend time with friends and family, some would give away their money. Some would want to make sure that they were right with God and with any in this world that they might have wronged. Correcting wrongs might involve making restitution for things that they had stolen or perhaps making apologies for offenses that they had committed. Some would certainly be searching the Bible to make sure that they were depending on the promises of God for eternity rather than on the opinions of man.

There are some sad statistics associated with death. So far as I know, nearly 100 percent of us die. There are only two records of people In history that did not die. One was Enoch in Genesis 5:24. The other was Elijah in 2 Kings 2:11. The reason I have said nearly 100 percent of us die is because these two men went to heaven without dying. Others died and were raised from the dead but so far everyone who has been raised from the dead has died again and so there are ONLY two that have not died. We who are saved are looking for the Lord to take some of us directly to heaven when He returns at the end of this age. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:51, " Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed--." Sleeping in the Bible is the way the Lord describes the bodies of believers who have died. So not all believers will die. That again will reduce the percentage of those who die after they are born into this world.

One thing is certain, all of us will have met our Maker in less than 100 years. Most of us will die, a few may be caught up directly into heaven when the Lord returns. But in 100 years we will all be history. So shouldn't we recognize that what the prophet said to Hezekiah, he also said to us? Hezekiah got a 15 year reprieve, but he still died. We may have a way to go as well, but we should set our houses in order for we will die and not live unless we are believers when the Lord returns.

So the challenge is, are we living today as though this might be our last day on earth? Very few people really want to die. But we may die, and we may die suddenly. Would we have our business affairs in order and our funeral plans made? Would we have any unfinished business with God to take care of if we knew our end was coming quickly? Would we know for certain that we were "saved", "born again", "forgiven", and "reconciled to God." Would we have done everything humanly possible to make sure we were not leaving behind unreconciled problems with our fellow man?

As an unbeliever the best thing we could do to set our houses in order would be to repent and believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15). As believers hopefully we would be confident that we had done everything possible to live our lives being "kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)."

 

Meditation for the week of October 11, 2009

Just What Have we Come to believe?

 

John 6:67-69

Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

 

I have been following a conversation on the internet dealing with President Obama's birth certificate. Some say the one produced in Hawaii is fake and they have the "facts" to prove it. Some say the one produced in Hawaii is authentic and they have the "facts" to prove it. It has become painfully obvious to me that I will probably never know which facts are the correct facts to believe. But it has also become obvious to me that we tend to believe what we want to believe. Those who like President Obama want to believe that the birth certificate is authentic and those who do not like him want to believe that it has been faked.

When we come to Biblical truth, the same problem exists. Some have the "facts" to prove that we are the product of lots of time and chance. They believe "the scientific facts" produced by evolutionary thinking. Then there are those of us who believe that "the fact" that we were designed and didn't just happen is self evident. Some of us believe that the Bible is the Word of God. Others believe that it was produced by a number of different men over a considerable amount of time and that it is the wisdom of man and not the infallible Word of God. Some of us believe that the Lord died on the cross and was buried and rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). We believe that there were over 500 witnesses to "the fact" that the Lord was alive after His crucifixion (1 Corinthians 15:6). But there are some who still believe that the disciples came by night and stole the body away (Matthew 28:11-15). What should we believe? We don't want to be wrong, do we?

Ultimately, I believe that we all believe what we want to believe. We come from different backgrounds and different points of view; but because we have the nature of sin or unbelief about us from the day of our birth, we find it hard to just believe God. That is why the Bible says that we must repent in order to believe the Gospel. That is the "facts" as I see them.

Repentance means different things to different people, but to me it just means that we have to admit that God is right and we are wrong when we find ourselves disagreeing with God as He has revealed Himself in the Bible. I do not believe repentance is simply an act of the will. It takes the Holy Spirit using the Word of God to change our minds. However, even the Holy Spirit cannot change our minds unless we are willing to let to Him do that. We must first be willing to believe and that is an act of the will. Then we must let the Holy Spirit show us where we are wrong and convince us of the truth of the facts in order for us to believe. The problem is that we have a lot invested in believing what we believe even if it is wrong. It is hard to be willing and humble enough to admit that we just might be wrong so that God can show us through the Word of God what is right.

I personally feel that there are many good reasons for believing that the Bible is true. I could give you reasons that archaeologists have found. I could show you the miraculous fulfillment of the prophetic Word. I could show you that God knows you better than you know yourself. I could point out that if the Bible is true then nothing else matters and if the Bible isn't true then nothing matters. However, as much as I wish I could convince people to believe the "facts" as I understand them, I can't. People believe what they want to believe.

Me, I want to believe God.

 

Meditation for the week of October 18, 2009

The Living God compared to man's gods

 

Jeremiah 10:6 

Inasmuch as there is none like You, O LORD (You are great, and Your name is great in might).

 

Humans are a peculiar bunch. We would apparently rather make our own gods than believe in the God that made us. In this passage men make idols or gods that cannot see or hear or do anything, and then they bow down to them. Some of us are so filled with pride that we believe that we are God, and we don't even need idols. That way we become the ones to whom everyone and everything is accountable, and yet we can't even explain where that spark called life comes from. We can't control the day of our birth or the day of our death (unless we are suicidal), and yet we would like to believe that we are the all powerful ones. However, there really isn't any other god that can compare to the God who is worshiped as Jehovah in the old testament and as Jesus in the new.

Why is God so great? Well first of all He is great because He exists and the others do not. We have witnesses who have seen God. This would include Jacob (Genesis 32:30, Moses (Exodus 33:23), Manoah who was the father of Samson (Judges 13:22) and all who saw the Lord Jesus (John 1:18). I do not know of any witnesses who have seen the other gods because the other gods simply do not exist. All things that exist were made by the Lord Jesus (Colossians 1:16) so anything others think they see would have to be a created being who was made by the Lord. In addition, to being the ever existing one who created all things, why would the Living God of heaven be great?

  1. He is great because He is love. He doesn't just love, He is love (1 John 4:16). 

  2. He is great because He cannot lie (Titus 1:2). The flip side of this is that He is Truth (John 14:6). He doesn't just tell the Truth, He is the Truth. We can depend on Him.

  3. He is great because He is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). The flip side of this is that He would have all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4).

  4. He is great because He died for us in order for us to be saved. We didn't have to die for Him (1Corinthians 15:3). Many have died for Him as martyrs, but they didn't do it to be saved. They did it out of devotion because they were saved, and they would not deny Him in order to live.

  5. He is great because his promises and compassion were first and foremost to the downtrodden which included the poor, the oppressed, the discouraged, the lame, the diseased, and the imprisoned. Luke 4:18 says, "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” The powerful have no more claim on the promises of God than the weak in society. 1Corinthians 1:26 says, “ For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” Paul doesn't say “not any” but “not many.” 

  6. I think the Lord is great because He is my Savior. Others may ridicule and despise Him, but I find Him precious (1Peter 2:7). Others may think He is the cause of the world's problems, but I find Him to be the solution. The old hymn says it so well:

And when I think that God His Son not sparing, 
Sent Him to die--I scarce can take it in. 
That on the cross my burden gladly bearing, 
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee, 
how great thou art! how great thou art! 
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee, 
how great thou art! how great thou art! 

 

Meditation for the week of October 25, 2009