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SEPTEMBER 2007

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Luke 10:40-42 (NKJV)

But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me." And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."

 

Work is a virtue. We teach our children that if they don't work, they don't eat. We compliment people when we think they are good workers. Without good workers we wouldn't have all of the things that make this modern world so enjoyable. But good workers sometimes don't know when to quit.

Martha was a good worker. Her life seemed to be marked by her willingness to serve. But sometimes she was stuck in the kitchen when others who could have been helping her were enjoying the guest. Apparently that was particularly irritating when the person who could have been helping was her sister Mary and the person that Mary was listening to was the Lord Jesus who was their friend.

While Martha is remembered for her hard work, Mary is remembered for her devotion. She anointed the Lord with a pound of very costly oil of spikenard shortly before the Lord was crucified. This spikenard was worth 300 denarii. If a denarius or a penny was a days wages (Matthew 20:2), this spikenard was worth about a year's salary for a laboring man which would mean it was worth about $50,000,00 today. Mary was criticized by the disciples for her waste. Most of us would praise Martha for her industry.

The Lord didn't see this the way man sees it, however. The Lord commended Mary for wanting to spend tine with Him, and He commended her for wasting the oil of spikenard on Him. He recognized that true devotion is costly, and that the truly devoted enjoy spending time with those that they love. Martha's service was not unappreciated and she likely considered it to be costly, but the Lord would have rather had a simple meal and Martha's company than an elaborate feast that left her too tired to listen to him or to enjoy his presence.

The Lord gives rest. He invites those who are laboring and heavy laden to come to Him so He can give them rest (Matthew 11:28). We often apply that statement to the Gospel. We know that those who are working their way to heaven will never have peace or rest because they will never know when they have done enough. But those of us who are depending on what Christ has done for us can relax in the fact that the work that saves was finished at the cross (John 19:30). Now we work not to be saved but because we are saved and want to show our devotion to Christ. But sometimes we tend to work when we should be enjoying the Lord's presence.

Whenever our work becomes a burden to us, likely we are doing more than the Lord has asked us to do. The Lord says that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). Even when Christians are asked to bear great burdens by the Lord, they normally have peace about it and are not "worried and troubled" like Martha was. The Lord is with us when we are called to walk through dark valleys. David says in Psalm 23:4, "I will fear no evil, for YOU ARE WITH ME."

Labor day is when we celebrate laboring men and woman and their work ethic. However, we need to remember that not working so we can have time to enjoy the company of the Lord is also a virtue. It is not wasted time. Enjoying devotional time with the Lord is not well understood by those who are committed to "work", but it is understood and appreciated by the Lord. Perhaps we need to labor to spend more time with the Lord and less time being "worried and troubled" because we are working when we could be enjoying the Lord's presence.

 

Meditation for the week of September 2, 2007

Psalm 17:15 As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness. (NKJV)

 

Seeing the Lord is something that the unsaved should dread, however, it is an experience that the saved anticipate with joy. For the unsaved, the Lord will be a righteous judge who will condemn them for not believing in Him. Hebrews 10:29-31 indicates that those who have spurned the Son of God will be subject to His judgment. That passage reminds us that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, and I think the author is clear that it is fearful for the unbeliever. John 3:36 says that the wrath of God presently abides on the unbeliever. I would not want to meet the Lord having rejected His gracious and merciful offer of salvation.

For those of us who are believers, however, seeing the Lord is going to be a joyful experience. In John 20:20 the disciples had locked the doors where they were to protect themselves after the crucifixion of the Lord. When the Lord miraculously appeared among them, we read that the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. In 2 Timothy 4:8, Paul was looking forward to an epiphany or a bright appearing of the Lord at the end of his race. He had told Timothy that the time of his departure was near. and likely he knew he was about to be executed. He states that there is a crown awaiting him at THAT DAY. Surely the day of his execution is what he was thinking about. He says that a reward is awaiting everyone who is looking forward to that bright appearing or epiphany of the Lord. I believe that the Lord is the first person we see when we cross over to the other side. It will be awesome to be met by the Lord Who loved us and died for us so we could be with Him for eternity.

David looked forward to seeing the Lord after his resurrection since he says, "I shall be satisfied when I awake in your likeness." David did not expect to remain in the grave. In Psalm 16:10, David says that the Lord will not abandon his soul to Sheol. Job also expected to see his Redeemer at some point after his death.. In Job 19:26-28, Job says that he knew that his Redeemer lived and that he would see him after his body was destroyed. Whether we first see the Lord upon dying or whether we first see Him when we are resurrected or whether we see Him both times, we will see the Lord after we die. And that will satisfy us and make us glad.

Knowing that we will see the Lord gives us great confidence and assurance in a bright future. I remember standing at the death-bed of my father-in-law and having Satan attack me with the thought that maybe death was final. Later that day, the Lord put into my mind the thought that he had seen the Lord. While I could not find an exact quote that said that in the Scriptures, I realized that the disciples had seen the Lord in John 20 and it had made them glad. Believing that my father-in-law who was a believer in the Lord had seen the Lord made me glad. Looking forward to the day when I will see the Lord takes the sting out of death (1 Corinthians 15:45), and already makes me glad.

 

Meditation for the week of September 9, 2007

Psalm 46:4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. (NKJV)

 

This last summer, I was privileged to spend some time with some of my family in Estes Park, Colorado. While my wife and daughter went shopping in the quaint shops found there, I bought a good cup of coffee and found a seat by the little mountain brook that flows behind the shops. The water was clear and its sound was relaxing. It appeared that the water would have been refreshing to drink although I didn't actually drink any (unless the water from the brook had been used by the coffee shop to make my coffee.) There were some families who had children wading in the water. That babbling brook was making a lot of people glad that afternoon.

There was a river that provided blessing in the Garden of Eden. It watered the garden and it became four rivers that went in four directions. Since the Bible says that there are four corners to the earth, this might suggest that the river that came from Eden produced universal blessing.

One day there will be a river of living water flowing from Jerusalem toward the Mediterranean Sea one way and toward the dead sea or salt sea the other way. According to Zechariah 14 and Ezekiel 47, these waters will make the land fertile, and the dead sea will be "healed" so that fresh water fish can thrive there.

A similar river is described in the book of the Revelation in connection with the city that is foursquare that descends out of heaven and appears to be the final dwelling place of the bride, the Lambs wife (Revelation 21:9-10, Revelation 22:1-2). That river is crystal clear and sustains the tree of life whose leaves heal the nations.

All of these rivers and streams remind us that the Lord knows how to satisfy and how to bless. He told a woman one day that He could give her living water that would quench her thirst forever (John 4:14). Living water is running water rather than water from a cistern. The Lord has provided this world water that cleanses and satisfies. That water is available to all, that is, it is available to the four corners of the earth. That water heals nations because one day when the Lord is given his rightful place on this rightful throne, the nations will no longer be fighting but will be at peace. That water is water that cleanses from the daily defilement of this life. That water doesn't flow from Jerusalem but from the side of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. When He was crucified, a soldier took a sword and pierced His side (John 19:34). When the soldier did this, blood and water flowed from the Savior's side. The blood represented the life of the Lord and saves us from the penalty that we deserve because of our sin. The water represents the Word of God that satisfies us and cleanses the believer from the defilement of sin in a practical way. The bride or church is set apart for the Lord and is washed by the water of the Word in Ephesians 5:26.

Pepsi-Cola has advertised that it has the "pause that refreshes". But real refreshment comes when we find out that the world does not provide lasting satisfaction, but that Christ does. When we put our trust in Him, He forgives us and cleanses us and promises us a home in heaven. He tells us we will never perish. He fills that hunger in our souls with water that will quench our thirst forever. He is the one who really has the "pause that refreshes."

Those of us who have had a drink of the living water that the Lord provides have been satisfied and blest and have been made glad.

Meditation for the week of September 16, 2007

Proverbs 27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth. (NKJV)

Recently, I was sitting quietly in our family room resting up to go to bed. We had the windows open because the night was cool. All of a sudden I heard a thud and then a squeal. Assuming that someone had just experienced a "fender denter" some place near us, I remember thinking that it was odd that I had heard the thud and then the squeal. Usually when there is an automobile accident, you hear the squeal as brakes are set just before impact and then the thud. The other thing that went through my mind was that someone was having a bad day. Then, I heard sirens.

I am not a person who likes to see accidents and since I do not have emergency medical training, I did not go out to see what had happened. The next day we found out that a young man had apparently fallen asleep on the way home and had crossed the center line about a mile from our house. He had hit two motorcycles head on. One of the cycles had a man and his wife on it. They were pronounced dead at the scene. The other cyle had one person on it, and he was left in critical condition. I then understood why I had heard the thud and then the squeal. Since the young man was asleep, the impact likely woke him up, and then he must have locked up his brakes after the impact.

That night two people instantaneously found out that God is real and that physical life is not the end. I hope that they had prepared for the day when they would meet their maker. Two other people involved in the accident suddenly found their lives changed in ways that they never expected. All of them have friends and relatives for whom life will never be the same. I am sure that none of these four had planned to have life turn out the way it did for them that night.

We need to recognize that physical life is fleeting and can be over suddenly. We are thankfully not told when it will be over, but we are told to be ready for the day when it is. In this life, we prepare for medical problems with medical insurance. We buy life insurance to take care of loved ones when we are gone. We buy auto insurance to cover the costs of an accident like this. We buy long-term care insurance in case we end up in a nursing home. But how many of us prepare our souls (the eternal part of us) for the day of our deaths?

The Lord does not offer physical life insurance, but He does offer eternal life assurance. The Lord makes it quite clear that apart from HIs return, we are all going to die. One hundred years from now, nobody reading this meditation will likely still be living. The Bible is says that death has spread to all men because all have sinned (Romans 5:12). Some people have told me that they haven't sinned, but I know differently. I know that there are times when we all do things that we wish we hadn't done and there are times when we all don't do things that we should have done. That we sin is self-evident. That all men die is self-evident. That sin is the cause of death is revealed to us by God in the Bible. The prudent person will recognize that he or she needs to be prepared to meet the One who gives us life and breath and Who has the power to remove life and breath (Proverbs 22:3, 27:12).

A prepared person has agreed with God that they sin. They have agreed with God that sin separates them from God. They understand the need to be saved (Acts 4:12). A prepared person will not trust in something that they do to save them, they will trust in what Christ did to save them. 1 Peter 3:18 says, "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." A prepared person will know that they have eternal life (1 John 5:13).

None of us need to experience an unexpected thud and squeal without knowing that our sins are forgiven. We can all know that we are going to a better place when we die because we are depending on the promise of God that Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Meditation for the week of September 23, 2007

Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

 

As a former practicing CPA, I have found that you can tell a lot about people by the way they handle money. Some people covet it so they can hoard it, and others covet it so they can spend it. Because money is something we need and often covet, I have also found that money is the cause of many problems between people even though some other issue may appear to be the problem. Even the FBI knows that following the money trail will often catch the criminal.

If we could follow the money, I am sure that we would understand why most wars are fought and why politics are not the answer to society's ills. Corporations have a big stake in making sure that those who are elected will have a vested interest in protecting their investments. Even those who serve the Lord often find money behind their problems. I have known missionaries who couldn't understand why they were suddenly having trouble with their fellow missionaries. Then they found out that some who needed financial support were undermining them so that they would be sent home. That way their support could go to the others.

People watch to see how Christians spend their money. I wonder if we realize that the unsaved often question the reality of the new birth because of our spending habits. We have money for all kinds of recreation. We spend large sums on weekend football games. Then our churches have to take special collections because they are short of money.

We spend large amounts to go to Christian concerts and Christian seminars where they read from a Bible that says the Gospel is free. And when a free Gospel effort is available, we often don't support it. Many of us pay preachers to preach to us a free Gospel. And if a preacher offers the Gospel freely today, many of them are not supported by those who say they believe in a free Gospel. Today Christianity and churches have become big business and often charge for the things that used to be free. I remember when I could go to conferences freely and then I could partner with those who put it on as I was able. But now many conferences require us to pay an upfront fee to go to them. Something is wrong. Either those who are convening the conferences are using the conferences to peddle or merchandise the Gospel or those who should be sharing with those who teach are not carrying out their responsibilities. See 2 Corinthians 2:17 and Galatians 6:6. Either way, one wonders where our treasure is.

I do not believe that the New Testament requires us to give a tithe or a tenth to the Lord. I believe that the New Testament teaches that it is all the Lord's and we are just stewards of what He has given us. I believe giving a tenth may be a burden for some poor people and giving a tenth is not really a sacrifice for some rich people. But having said that, the New Testament does teach that we should give willingly, cheerfully, and sacrificially. In addition, we should give in proportion to what God has given us. The Bible says that when we give, we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7). But really we are only being stewards of what God has given us.

If my habits with money reveal the depth of my relationship with the Lord, I wonder what the Lord thinks about the way I personally handle what He has given me. And I wonder if the way I handle money shows that I really believe that my real treasure is the Lord who died to save me, and that He is in Heaven. Would I be able to convince the unsaved that I really believe that heaven is more important than earth; that eternity is more important than time; and that spiritual blessings are more satisfying than earthly pleasures?

 

Meditation for the week of September 30, 2007