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to Archived Meditations
19:21 Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what
you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and
come, follow Me."
are born and about eighty years later we die. Sometimes that cycle seems
futile. Solomon in Ecclesiastes calls life "vanity and a vexation
of spirit." He says that and yet we would say he had it all—riches
and power and wisdom and lots and lots of women. Obviously he had
everything that should have made him feel fulfilled and satisfied.
However, he came to the conclusion that none of this satisfied, that the
purpose in life was to "Fear God and keep His commandments, For
this is man's all (Ecclesiastes 12:13)."
God and keeping his commands involves recognizing that we are
accountable to Him. Fearing God means that we want to be right with God
while we live so that we are ready to meet him when we die. There is
nothing more important than knowing that God is pleased with us. Yet, we
know that without faith it is impossible to please him (Hebrews 11:6). I
believe that having certainty about these things is what life is all
about. I have found that the Lord knows we are all sinners but He loves
us anyway. He has found a way to redeem us (buy us back) out of the
slave market of sin so that we can be cleansed and made fit for his
presence and so that we can enjoy His fellowship. The Lord Jesus died so
that we can be saved from eternal conscious punishment, so we can be set
apart as his special people, and so that we can have fellowship with him
now on earth.
is by faith in Christ alone but there are many hindrances that keep us
from putting our trust in Him. For the rich young ruler it was
accumulated wealth. The Bible is clear that money is a problem for all
of us. How many of us would be saved today if we had to sell what we had
and give it to the poor before we could follow the Lord? This parable
can be interpreted in several ways so that we make it applicable only to
the rich young ruler or to those who are trusting in their riches and
not to us. But wait a minute! Shouldn't we consider all Scripture to be
written for us even if it isn't written to us? I am really glad that I
was poor when I came to know the Lord. I didn't have a house or lands or
a big savings account. I was living day to day and my income was just
equaling my outgo and that was probably the happiest point in my life
Lord tells us not to lay up treasure on earth but to lay it up in heaven
(Matthew 6:19-21). Paul tells us to make sure that there is
"equality" (2nd Corinthians 8:14). In Acts 2: 44-45, there was
a sharing of goods as everyone had need. They held their goods "in
common" not as individuals. It has been pointed out that this
didn't work then and it won't work now. I wish that weren't true because
it should have worked then and it should work now, but it doesn't. Why?
Because while all of us who are saved, trust God when it comes to the
cross, very few of us have really been able to trust Him for the things
of this life.
years, I didn't have medical insurance because I thought I should depend
on the Lord and not on unbelievers and their insurance plans. Whether
that was right or wrong could be argued, but when I came to the point
that I was willing to buy insurance, I couldn't buy it because I
couldn't afford it. What was available would not cover per-existing
conditions either, so it was basically worthless. So my wife and I have
just had to depend on the Lord. Isn't that a sad commentary? We have HAD
to depend on the Lord. I am convinced that one could have insurance and
still be depending on the Lord but for us, not having the insurance, has
put that faith to the test.
are taught today to "save for up for a rainy day." I have
found that every time I do that, the Lord provides me with the rainy
day. And again, I am forced to trust Him. I am so glad that the Lord
understands our infirmities and loves us just the same.
do wonder however, what the unsaved must think of the saved and their
attitude toward "money". Do they see people who are motivated
by the shortness of life and their desire to advance the Gospel by
living for eternity rather than for time? Money motivates the unsaved
and God calls them idolaters (Ephesians 5:5). I hope that is not what is
motivating those of us who claim to be following Christ.
for the week of October 3, 2010
What is It?
22:5 And Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey;
the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to
is hard to define, but we all know it when we see it. Some people
worship actors and actresses, some worship athletes, some worship
politicians and other secular leaders, some worship their professors in
school, some worship doctors, some worship possessions and money;
hopefully, we all worship our spouses. However, there are some who
worship the Lord Jesus Christ.
of the Lord is sometimes defined as singing. One who is worshiping may
sing but worship is far more than singing. Some define worship as the
communion supper. We certainly worship at that time, but worship is far
more than taking communion. While obedience may not be associated with
worldly worship, it is a fundamental part of spiritual worship. Worship
has sometimes been called WORTH SHIP. It involves our love, our time,
and our sacrifice. It involves loyalty, honor and praise. It can be seen
by how we spend our money and time. What we talk about is a key
indicator of our worship. The people or things that we worship are the
focus of our lives.
we were to look at the Bible for examples of worship, Genesis 22 would
immediately come to mind. Abraham was being asked to do something that
was contrary to what he had been taught pleased God, and it was contrary
to the promises that he had received from God. God had never required
human sacrifice before. He had told Abraham that Isaac was going to
produce offspring that would number more than the stars in the skies.
But now he is asked to sacrifice the life of this promised son. Hebrews
11:19 tells us that Abraham was convinced that Isaac would rise from the
dead after he was sacrificed. All we know from this passage in Genesis
22, is that Abraham expected the lad to be with him after he and Isaac
we were to think of a book in the Bible that would be a manual for
worship many would pick the Psalms because of the praise and
thanksgiving in those songs. However, I would pick Leviticus because it
tells us how to worship God. The book of Leviticus tells us about
priests and tabernacles and holiness. It also tells us about sacrifices.
In Leviticus 1 through 7 five offerings are described and the procedures
or principles for offering them are given to us. The offerings all speak
of the Lord Jesus Christ. The burnt offering is the first offering
mentioned and is the one from which the others take their character. It
is all for God (except for the skin which is given to the priests) and
ascends to God. He says it is a sweet smelling offering. The other
offerings in part are consumed by men but this one is completely
consumed on the altar and men do not eat of it. Three of the offerings
are sweet smelling offerings and two are associated with sin in general
or specific sin.
can never limit the concept of worship because it includes anything that
is given in heartfelt devotion to God. But worship does involve giving.
Men may benefit from the gifts; but just as the burnt offering was
primarily for God, the gifts we give as worship are primarily for God.
find myself wondering if we are worshiping when we start talking about
spiritual things that we like, what we want, and what makes us happy.
Today we all want churches that meet our needs, and to some degree they
should. But true worship is when we are concerned that our lives and our
churches are pleasing the Lord. If we are true worshipers, then they
should be pleasing to us.
first act of WORTH SHIP that any of us offered that pleased God was when
we trusted the Lord for salvation. He gave us Himself. We gave Him our
trust. Trusting the Lord was being obedient to the faith according to
Paul in Romans 1:5. It is not a way of salvation that makes sense to man
because man thinks he needs to pay or pray or do something to be saved
when in fact faith is depending on the fact that the work of salvation
is all done. Faith in Christ doesn't seem like it should be enough, but
was tested and he passed the test. His test was true worship. I wonder
how many of our churches are really worshiping today. I wonder how many
of us individually would pass a test like this today.
for the week of October 10, 2010
I Perish, I Perish!
3:16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king,
"O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.
"If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us
from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O
king. "But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not
serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set
three men were faithful to God in a heathen land where they were asked
to serve idols. The King was going to throw them into a burning furnace
unless they bowed to his idol. They didn't bow and were thrown into the
furnace, but the fire didn't harm them. When they were making their
decision not to bow to the idol, they didn't know that God was going to
deliver them. Even though their prayer to be delivered is not recorded,
I am quite sure they prayed to that end. They did not need the Lord to
answer their prayer in a positive way in order to worship Him.
was put in a similar situation in the book by her name. She had been
made queen by a miraculous set of circumstances. It turned out that in
her kingdom of the Medes and the Persians was a man by the name of Haman
who wanted to destroy Esther's uncle who was a Jew as well as all of her
uncle's people. Esther had not made it known that she was a Jew when
Haman was making his plans. In order for her to deliver her people she
had to risk being killed by the King. She didn't know if he would allow
her to approach him without being called, or if he would execute her for
boldness. Ultimately, she became the miraculous means of saving her
people. However when she made her decision to do what was right, she
thought she might die. She says in Esther 4:16 "Go, gather all the
Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink
for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so
I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I
hear of people who get miraculous answers to prayer. I have had some of
those in my own life. But sometimes the greatest faith has been shown by
those who were willing to do God's will without a miraculous answer to
prayer to encourage and guide them. Job prayed for his children and they
died in a storm. He lost his health, his wealth, and his family. Yet his
faith was shown by worshiping God, not because of the problems, but in
spite of the problems. We read, Then Job arose, tore his robe, and
shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said:
"Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return
there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name
of the LORD (Job 1:20-21)." Paul remained faithful to the Lord even
though he prayed three times for a thorn in the flesh to be removed and
it never was (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).
I hear those who want to encourage us telling us how prayer changes
things, I say, "Amen." However, when I hear encouraging
stories of miraculous answers to prayer, I also think of the widows who
have lost their husbands in tragic accidents and to untimely diseases. I
think of many who through no fault of their own have lost jobs in our
current economy and ultimately have lost their houses and in some cases
their health. I think of many who have wanted a partner for life and and
a family who have not had that provided for them, even though the Lord
says that those things are good and right and even normal. Those who
worship the Lord when He doesn't seem to be answering their prayers in a
positive way, are the real heroes of faith. Sometimes we are told that
if the Lord is not answering our prayers there is "iniquity in our
hearts (Psalm 66:18)." So those who are already discouraged, are
encouraged to do a search for some secret sin that may be hindering
their prayers. However, if we have sinned and the Lord is hindering our
prayers because of it, I am quite sure we will know that without going
on a "search". I think that David is really saying that he
shouldn't be praying for something for which he shouldn't be praying
(for iniquity or perverseness), rather than saying he shouldn't be
praying unless he is sinless.
as we don't preach a prosperity Gospel where we tell people that when
they come to the Lord they will get rich, we also shouldn't preach a
prosperity Gospel in the matter of prayer. God may do things in a way
that we don't understand; but if that happens, He is still God. He has
still sent His Son in love to die for us and to put away our sins. He
loves us even when it seems by circumstances that He doesn't. He is
worth our faith, our love and our worship even if we perish—even if we
are not delivered from the trying circumstances of this life.
for the week of October 17, 2010
Can be Golden
2:20 But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence
do not live in a quiet world. Most college courses in communication deal
with debate, and public speaking. I am not sure that I have ever taken a
course in how to be silent. There are some courses that dabble in New
Age religions that would teach some sort of meditative silence, but I
don't recommend those. However, "being still" is commended in
Scripture. Psalm 4:4 says, "Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate
within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah."
when we are talking we are not listening and when we are listening we
are not talking. Most of us are pretty good at the talking, but we are
not very good at the listening. When we pray, we try to have disciplined
prayer times when we talk to God; and as we read the Word of God, we
listen to what God has to say through his Word. But do we have quiet
times when we are neither talking nor reading but just listening? In our
day of mass media and mass entertainment, we are bombarded with noise.
When we are in a restaurant, we not only have the TV's on, but there is
usually background music that in some cases is quite obnoxious. When I
watch people study in libraries or at coffee shops, most of them have
head phones on. We live in a day when people crave noise. Being quiet or
silent before God so that we can be listening instead of talking is not
something that we normally cultivate.
"silence really is golden". However, when I listen to news
programs, talk programs, or sports commentators, I hear people falling
all over themselves to be heard. They are curt and cut off the others on
the program because what they have to say is so important. Silence shows
courtesy and interest in what the other person has to say. When we are
silent, we are giving the other person an opportunity to teach us and we
are showing respect. If we really esteemed others better than ourselves
as Paul admonished the Philippians, we would do more listening and less
speaking (Philippians 2:3). James reminds us to be swift to hear, slow
to speak (James 1:19). In the Scripture, crowds go silent when they want
to hear what someone has to say (See Acts 21:40).
believe times of silence in the presence of God need to be cultivated.
We know that all of us have problems knowing the will of God, but if we
really want to know His will we need to listen to Him. We need to know
His Word because He will never ask us to carry out a plan that is
contrary to His Word. However, there are many areas in life where a
number of choices would Scriptural, but only one choice can be pursued.
The jobs we take or the houses we buy would be examples where there is
no "thus saith the Lord" in the Bible. In order to know the
will of God in these situations, we not only need to talk to God about
the "desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4)", but we need to listen
to God as He speaks to our hearts. This requires quiet time when we are
listening and not speaking.
are times when we need to be silent because we simply have nothing to
say. That may be why the earth is silent in the verse we are
considering. The awe of being in the presence of a holy God should cause
us to refrain from speaking. We have the sin nature even if we are
saved. Romans 3:19, reminds us "that whatever the law says, it says
to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all
the world may become guilty before God." A guilty person has
nothing to say. But if we listen we will hear the assuring Word of the
Lord that says that God is just and the justifier of the one who has
faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26). God knows how to make a sinner right with
Him through faith in Jesus Christ. Those are Words worth hearing and
in the presence of another shows reverence, respect, and interest as
well as showing true repentance when we have sinned. Silence allows us
to listen. How many of us have experienced the joy of being silent in
the presence of God and hearing Him speak to us personally? This should
have happened when we trusted Him as Savior, but hopefully we have
experienced the Lord speaking to us since we have passed from death unto
life as well (John 5:24).
for the week of October 24, 2010
we Competing according to the Rules?
2:5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless
he competes according to the rules.
sees the Christian as an athlete competing in sports. He makes it clear
however, that not only is it important to win, but the way we play the
game is also important. Since the opposing team is the world and since
the world is energized by Satan, we who want to compete lawfully would
seem to be at a disadvantage. How are we going to win if we "turn
the other cheek" when we are hit? How are we going to win if we are
always exhibiting the graciousness of Christ, or if we don't strive or
gossip or slander? How are we going to win if we don't cheat or lie? How
are we going to be a success if we don't "take" instead of
commission is to make disciples of the Lord and then to immerse them in
water to identify them with the resurrected Christ through a symbolic
burial and resurrection. Then we are to teach them all things (that the
Lord has asked us to teach them). (See Matthew 28:19-20.) We are to
teach them that Christians win by losing and that they live by dying. We
are to teach them that life is now going to require a daily dying to
self in order to live for the One who loved us and died for us. We are
to teach love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). We are
commanded to teach them to preach Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23).
We are to teach them to be concerned about the regeneration of the
individual through repenting and trusting Christ rather than in the
reformation of the world through the political system or through any
other type of coercion. We are to teach them that sometimes it is more
important to pray than to do. How can fighting by these rules possibly
win in this evil world?
we forget how the game should be played. It is played in the world by
the preaching of the Gospel, but the victory is won in the hearts of
individuals. It is not done by the political process, rather it is done
by the Holy Spirit as He uses the Word of God to convict and convert
those who hear the truth. If Christians were able to abolish abortion
and stem cell research, if we were able to ban gay marriage, if we were
able to get prayer and the Bible back into the schools, if we were able
to get everything that we wanted with regard to morals politically, how
many people would actually end up going to heaven because of these great
gains? Getting the Bible read in school might mean some children would
hear the Gospel and since the Lord uses His Word to save, I could see
that being helpful in advancing the kingdom. Making an unbelieving,
Christ-rejecting, immoral world act moral would make society a better
place to live, but it would not help any one go to heaven. If the world
is reformed by force or political means, individuals will still not be
broken and repentant believers. They may conform, but that won't save
them and may even cause them to be hardened to the Gospel. Other
religions may be able to make converts this way, but that is not the
rules that we play by as Christians. Being a Christian is not a simply a
matter of behaving right, it is a matter of the heart. When the heart is
right, behaving right will be the result.
it seem that when we play by the Lord's rules that we are bound to fail?
Won't other religions overwhelm us and won't evil overtake us? Don't we
need to change the rules in order to win this battle? It may seem that
way, but the just live by faith. We walk by faith and not by sight (2
Corinthians 5:7). Our kingdom is spiritual and not physical. Our hope is
in eternity and not in the here and now. We need to remember that the
Lord knew how to save us and that He knows the way that the battle
against the world and Satan should be fought. Things are not really
going to be made right in this world until the Lord comes the way He
left--to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4) to set up a Kingdom where
there will be true righteousness. We need to trust Him.
apparent victory is really a loss if the Lord cannot approve what we do
because we didn't stay within the lines as we ran this race.
for the week of October 31, 2010