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SEPTEMBER 2006

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Psalm 40:17 But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.

 

There are two kinds of people that we can’t quit thinking about. If someone angers us, we have a tendency to remember what they have done. We may fret about it and in some cases, we may even try to get even. But it is for sure that we simply cannot get them out of our minds. We think upon them. But our thoughts are not usually good thoughts.

If we love someone, they too have a place in our minds and thoughts. We call them. We write them and we try to spend time with them. We usually pray for them. These may be people in our families or they may be our friends, but either way we think upon them. But our thoughts for these people are usually good thoughts.

I believe that the Psalmist was a believer and that He knew that the Lord loved him. He knew that the Lord spent time thinking about him. In verse 5 of this Psalm, the Lord’s thoughts are more than can be numbered and seem to be linked with the wonderful works that God has done for those who worship Him instead of lies or false gods. The Psalmist had been tried and was now rejoicing since had been brought up out of an horrible pit. He had been delivered from his trials and now he realizes that the Lord had been thinking about him all the time. This Psalm is a Messianic Psalm since verse 6 seems to refer prophetically to the Lord according to Hebrews 10:5. So this gives us some idea as to how much the Lord was loved by His Father, even during the three hours of darkness and separation on the cross. And if we trust in Him and are going though a time of darkness and loneliness, I am confident that God as our Father is thinking on us as well.

One of the saddest things in life is that unbelievers will not be in the thoughts of the Lord even though God’s wrath abides on them (John 3:36). We fret because of evil doers (Psalm 37:1). But the Lord simply blots their names out of the book of Life (Revelation 3:5, Psalm 109:13). I personally believe that the name of every person that will ever be born was written in the Lamb’s book of Life at the foundation of the world since God knew that the death of Christ would be sufficient to save every person. However, as people reject the Lord as their Savior (John 3:18), they are blotted out. Unbelievers in the Bible are nameless, believers are often named or personally identified in some way. Notice that in Luke 16, in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man is never named but Lazarus is. In 2nd Timothy 2:19 we read, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.” I believe the word “know” implies the intimate relationship that the Lord has with His friends. He thinks about them, and His thoughts are good.

The Psalmist has been delivered, has a new song, has been a willing volunteer for the service of the Lord, has preached about the Lord’s faithfulness to others and now he tells us that the Lord thinks upon him. As the poor and needy one, he realizes that his sins are many and that his enemies are mighty. But He also knows that the Lord is able to deliver him from his enemies since He has done it before. And he hopes that the Lord will do it again soon. He says, “Make no tarrying, o my God.” Our final deliverance from all of the things that are against us will be at the Lord’s coming and we too can say, “Make no tarrying, O my God.” “Even so come Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:20).” The Lord has us in His thoughts. Amen.

 

Meditation for the week of September 3, 2006

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.

 

The Lord says, “Ye must be born again. (John 3:7).” Now must is a four letter word, but it is not a bad word. And I think must means “must.” Many people tell me that they are born again, but they don’t know when or how or where. While I can‘t say who is born again for sure and who is not, I fail to understand how we can know we have been born again if we can’t remember being born again. I remember some things in my life clearly and some things are not so clear. I don’t remember many dates. I need to check the calendar to make sure that I know when our anniversary is, but I do remember the hot night when I said “I do.” So it may be like that with the new birth, particularly for those who were born again young. But God says that we must be born again so I personally want to know that I am.

If we are born again, our minds should have been changed on issues where we disagreed with God. This is called repentance. In some cases, those issues may have involved a lifestyle that God condemns, but more often those issues simply involve finding out that God has a right to tell us how to be saved and that we don’t have a right to tell Him how to save us. We have to find out that God’s way is better than our way and His thinking is better than our thinking (Isaiah 55:8-9). We have to find out that our God and His Word can be trusted and we have to trust Him. Trusting someone is not easy since it is contrary to what we are taught from our youth. People fail us and we have to have confidence that God will not. And we have to have confidence that even when things don’t make sense, God is still being faithful. That is why this is called a new birth because this is all contrary to the human nature that we got with our first births.

In addition, if we have been born again, we should desire a mind like Christ’s. Apparently, we don’t automatically have the mind of Christ since Paul tells the Philippians who are already Christians that they need to let the mind of Christ dwell in them. What is the mind of Christ?

If we look at the passage, it appears that if we all thought like Christ, we would be like-minded and unified. We would be cooperative and not competitive. We would not be self-centered but we would be self-sacrificing. And we would be willing to give up our rights in order to meet the needs of others. The Lord Jesus was God but instead of acting like God, He acted like a servant. He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Think of it! The Lord Jesus who is our creator and our Sovereign Lord was obedient. He was obedient to the Father and to the plan of salvation that was part of the thinking of God in an eternity past. So it would seem that obedience is not a dirty word but something that God should expect from us if we are born again. Today most of us only want to obey Biblical injunctions that make sense to us, but my father taught me to do what he asked, whether it made sense or not. Now if I did that for my earthly father out of fear, can I not do that for my Heavenly Father out of love?

I realize that we are all “works in progress.” There is a popular bumper sticker that says, “Be patient, God is not finished with me yet.” But the new birth should at least make us want to exhibit the attributes of the “mind of Christ.“ If we have not made any progress in this area since the day we say we were born again, maybe we need to revisit the issue of this must!

John 1:12-13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

 

Meditation for the week of September 10, 2006

Philppians 3:20-21 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (NKJV)

 

We sometimes hear people say, “We can be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good.” But I think this passage says, “We can be so earthly minded that we are no heavenly good.” The Lord seems to want us to remember that here on earth a Christian is a square peg in a round hole. We just don’t fit.

People in the Bible that God used had their eyes on eternal rewards rather than on the ones that this earth provides. Abraham looked for a city whose builder and maker was God (Hebrews 11:10). He lived in tents and never drove his tent pegs too deep. The heroes of the faith in the early part of Hebrews 11 were strangers and pilgrims on this earth. These people were Hebrews who had been given earthly promises and an earthly land. Yet the faithful among them had their eye on a heavenly city.

Christians are “in the world” but not “of the world (John 17:11-4).” We are to be confident that the Lord is coming back for us (John 14:3). This is our “blessed hope (Titus 2:13) and it is the hope that purifies (1 John 3:3). We are to live as though our bags are packed and our desire is to make the trip to our real home.

Now I realize that we also have a citizenship on this earth and we do have responsibilities because we live in the here and now. But those responsibilities are to be carried out with our eye on that which is eternal, spiritual, and heavenly. When we preach the Gospel, we need to mention “eternal life” as well as “eternal condemnation or destruction.” We need to preach that the Man who is in Heaven is the Son of God who came from heaven to die for our sins on this earth. We need to tell people that this life is but the stage rehearsal for eternity.

Unbelievers, that is those who have rejected the claims of Christ, are generally earthly-minded. In the passage we have mentioned, they are enemies of the cross of Christ, they are motivated by gluttony, and they glory in things that should find shameful. In the book of the Revelation, they are often called those that dwell upon the earth or earth dwellers.

I have often wondered, as people watch us, do they see people who are occupied with eternity or do they see people who are occupied with the hear and now? Do our congregations deal with eternity or are all the programs associated with the here and now? I realize that immediate needs must be met in order to preach the Gospel to the needy. So we feed the hungry and clothe the naked and send the sick to doctors and we ought to. And we ought to do these things whether we can speak to them about eternity or not. But if we are to have any credibility with those to whom we minister, wouldn’t it seem that we should be motivated by heavenly blessings and not earthly ones? Shouldn’t people see that we really are a people whose citizenship is in heaven?

It is so easy to get so involved in the few years God has given us here that we forget about the reality of eternity. We are not ready to live until we are ready to die. And we are not ready to die until we have prepared for eternity.

John 3:14-15 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Meditation for the week of September 17, 2006

Ecclesiastes 7:8 Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.

 

It is better to finish something than to just start it. Many start a spiritual journey with the Lord but they don‘t finish it. As a young ruler, Solomon asked God for wisdom and God gave it to him. When Solomon dedicated the temple that he built for the Lord, he was faithfully serving the One True God. At the end of his life, he turned away from the Lord and built places of worship in Israel for other gods (See 1 Kings 11). No wonder Solomon, the discouraged depressed preacher in Ecclesiastes, says that the end of a thing is better than the beginning.

While our ultimate destinies are eternally secure after we trust in Christ for salvation, our practical day to day lives may not be so victorious. We are saved by grace and we are kept by grace. Grace does not mean that we cannot do anything to be saved because we are commanded to strive to enter in (Luke 13:24) and to believe Gospel (Mark 1:15). Believing in the Lord is likened unto receiving a gift (John 1:12). Grace means that we cannot do anything TO DESERVE the gift. God’s gift of salvation is a gift of grace (Romans 6:23) and God does not ask for His gifts back (Romans 11:29). I know some say that we can give them back, but I would be hard pressed to find a Scriptural example of that. I am eternally secure because I am depending on what Christ has done for me at the cross and not because of something I have done for Him. And I am glad that I can have that assurance today through the promises of Scripture.

Some feel that the only way we can know we are eternally secure is if we “continue to the end.” There are some Scriptures that seem to indicate that. Christians should continue or endure to the end, that is, they should be faithful to God throughout their whole lives after they are saved and should never doubt his promises. However, Peter was saved by Mathew 16 when he confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. But he didn’t look saved when he denied that he knew the Lord after Judas had betrayed Him. But he was. David didn’t look like he was enduring when he violated Bathsheba and murdered her husband. But he was. Solomon didn’t look saved at the end of his life. But he was. So I am going to let the simple Scriptures explain the difficult ones and not the other way around. I am going to take comfort in John 5:24 that says that when I trust the Lord, I have eternal life as a present possession. This verse also says that I will not be condemned and that I have already passed from death unto life.

However, since even Paul was concerned about being a castaway or one who did not have God’s approval at the end of his life, I too realize how easy it would be to end our lives badly. While we cannot lose our salvation, we can certainly lose our joy and the approval of the Lord who loved us and gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20). Solomon likely made his mistakes when he was old and he was vibrant in his faith when he was young. I don’t want to end up like Solomon.

So while we are eternally secure in so far as our ultimate destiny is concerned after we have come to know the Lord, it is possible for us to deny the Lord like Peter did. It is possible for us to accept the lies of the religious world around us like Solomon did. It is possible for us to let sin destroy our relationship with God like David did. We can lose our reputations and our joy and our reward. While we may turn away from the Lord, He will be waiting for us with open arms, when we come to our senses. It is my conviction that those who are truly saved do come to their senses at some point in their lives unless they die an untimely death where they have no chance of making things right with God. We need to not only start this journey with the Lord, we need to finish it. And we will not be able to do that in our own strength. We will need the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14).

Meditation for the week of September 24, 2006