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SEPTEMBER 2009

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Do our Lives Have Purpose?

 

Psalm 138:8

The LORD will perfect (or perform) that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

 

This is Labor Day weekend in the United States. Likely there are some people who are wondering why God's purpose for them is to work forty hours a week for a corporation that doesn't care at all for their personal well-being. Labor is the backbone of this country, yet there is no security for many in the working class and there is no security for middle management. Jobs are going overseas, layoffs are occurring every day and many who do have jobs are underemployed. They have had to take pay cuts and do jobs way under their skill levels just to pay some of their bills. Is this really God's will for us?

The English Standard Version translates today's verse, "The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me." David wrote this Psalm and he knew that God's purpose was to make him King and then to establish his kingdom forever. There is no son of David's on the throne right now in Israel, but God's purposes will be performed. The Lord Jesus who is the Son of David is coming again, and He will perform that which concerns David. His Kingdom will be an everlasting Kingdom when the Lord comes to reign. David believed in the promises of God and what God has promised, He will do.

Before the fall of Adam, he was given charge of the Garden to tend and to keep it. But the word "toil" is only used after the ground was cursed because of disobedience (Genesis 3:17 NKJV). So some would argue that because God knew Adam and Eve would sin, He planned for us to work and toil the way we do in an eternity past. Others of us would say that God has allowed that which He did not originally intend. But either way, can we find out what God's purposes are for us today?

Many of God's promises are conditional. The promise made to David having to do with a future Kingdom is unconditional. One of God's conditional promises has to do with trust. God does not force anyone to trust Him, yet He gives us all the opportunity to trust Him. When we trust Him we are saved. Act 16:31 says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, (this same message is to) you and your household." That is a conditional promise.

However, God has made unconditional promises to the saved. I do believe that God has a purpose in saving us that goes beyond just taking us to heaven. He says in Philippians 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." He sometimes allows believers to flounder, but His purposes for them in their life will be accomplished. In addition, they are going to "with the Lord (2nd Corinthians 5:8)" when they die. They have eternal life. They will never be condemned. They will never be separated from the love of God (Romans 8:39).

I am convinced that some things that happen in life are because of our living outside the will of God. We don't pray and seek Biblical and spiritual guidance before making decisions at times. We don't want to be "confused with the facts because our (sinful) minds are already made up." Sometimes we live as though we are not even accountable to God. The problems that we experience because of those times in our lives cannot be "God's purpose" for us, but because God is God, I do believe that He can bring good out of our bad.

His unconditional purposes for us will be fulfilled.

 

Meditation for the week of September 6, 2009

Some Things I Know

 

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

 

There are some things I know and a lot of things I don't know. For example, I know there is a God because of the world that He designed, but I don't know where God came from. Logically He can't even exist because if something has no beginning, it doesn't exist in our world. But just as you can't have a car that wasn't built and you can't have a house that just "happens" unless your house is a cave, you can't have a world like ours without a Creator who calls Himself "God" or "the mighty or supreme One".

I don't know what happened in the beginnings of beginnings since the concept of eternity doesn't allow for a beginning. I do know that the Bible does not tell us about the beginnings of beginnings. Instead it tells us about the beginning of our history. In John 1:1, we read, "In the beginning was the Word." If there was no beginning what is John saying? I think he is saying, "Once upon a time there was the Word." In other words, in the beginning of this story there was the Word. Other Bible authors refer to beginnings but it is always the beginning of the part of our story that they are telling us about, and not the beginning of time.

God has revealed Himself to us through the written Word (the Bible) and though the living Word (Christ). But He hasn't told us everything. Sometimes we spend more time trying to understand what He hasn't told us than we do trying to understand what He has told us. This tends to get us into trouble. We would do better if we would ask why God has not revealed some things to us, rather than trying to figure out what he has not revealed. We really don't need to know how God could have always existed to worship Him as the God who provided us with a beginning.

I am convinced that those who have faith in God and who work with His divine revelation in trying to understand this world are going to accomplish a whole lot more than those who resist the Truth of God. Hebrews 11:3 says, "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." So I take it that the opposite is also true. If we are lacking faith in God, we are also lacking understanding. 2 Corinthians 4:3 says, "whose minds the god of this age (or Satan who is a deceiver) has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them." Those who do not believe in God are blinded. Unbelievers may be educated and they may think that they have the answers, but they are being "spoiled" or cheated through philosophy (men's reasonings) and empty deceit (empty lies).

I have listened to a number of sermons on creation in the last year or two and, frankly, I have had more questions raised about our ability to reconcile faith and science than I had before. There are a lot of things I don't understand, but I understand this: God did it. I not only understand that God created the heavens and the earth, but that Satan came along and spoiled God's creation. It is as though Satan took a sledge hammer to the beauty that God had created. He didn't want God to enjoy what He had made. Satan is now trying to convince men and women that Christ is not the only path to God. I now understand by faith that what God does Satan does his best to destroy. And He does that by planting doubt and unbelief in the heart of mankind.

Isn't it a shame, that we feel we have to understand things God has not told us in order to trust Him? Satan blinds us to the blessings of God because we aren't simple enough to just take God at His Word and believe what He says. God created the Heavens and the earth. I'm simple enough to believe that. God sent His Son to the cross to die for my sins so that I could have a place that as a sinner I do not deserve in His new heaven and new earth. I am simple enough to believe that as well.

 

Meditation for the week of September 13, 2009

Are our Hearts Right with God?

 

Matthew 15:7-9 "Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying, 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"

 

Hypocrites are people who pretend to be something that they are not. The word literally means an actor in a play. On the stage, a good hypocrite may be praised, but the Lord condemned hypocrites on the stage of real life. In this passage, the Pharisees were hypocrites. The Pharisees had a religion without a relationship with the living God. They knew the rules because they had written many of them and they appeared to be righteous, but it was obvious that their hearts were not right with God.

What is the heart in the Bible? It seems to represent all that motivates a person. It is the seat of our emotions. It is the reality of what a person really is and has to do with his will and the way he thinks. Sometimes the heart and kidney's are linked to represent the moral character of a person. Only God really knows the heart although all of our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9-10).

In the passage before us, the Pharisee's were living legalistically. By that I mean that they had made laws where God had not made laws. They also used their interpretation of the law to circumvent the purpose of the law. The law said to honor their father and mother. Among other things that meant to care for them financially in their old age. But of course giving to the work of the Lord had to be more "righteous" than giving to their father or mother, right? So they would give "to the Lord" what should have been used for their parent's care, and they thought that God honored them for that. Did He? Absolutely not! Giving to the parents would have been giving to the Lord. There is no way that they would have done this if their hearts were right with God.

I believe that hypocrisy among those who present themselves as righteous is one of the biggest hindrances to the Gospel today. I believe that attracting others to Christ and presenting them with the clear simple Gospel of salvation from the penalty that we deserve because of our sin is one of the greatest privileges that the Lord has given Christians. So when people look at me when I tell them about Christ, what do they see? Do they see someone with convictions who tries to understand and do the Lord's will or do they see someone who thinks he knows how others should live when he doesn't live that way himself? Do they see someone who can see both sides of an issue and who is not disagreeable when he disagrees? Do they see someone who makes rules where God has not made them? Do they see someone who continually tries to explain simple truths of the Bible away when he finds them unpopular or disagreeable, or do they see someone who tries to understand and do what pleases God? In other words, do they see someone who actually loves the Lord or do they see someone who is trying to impress others with his righteousness?

I believe our hearts are seen by what we say and by what we do. Our attitudes are affected by our hearts. If our hearts are right with God, I think our devotion to the Lord will be obvious to those who watch us. If I am living a lie, I think that too will be obvious.

So the question is, "Are we honoring the Lord with our lips while our hearts are far from him?"

 

Meditation for the week of September 20, 2009

Unexpected Unthinkable Events

 

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

 

The day was beautiful. We were about to enter the "Holy Land" tourist attraction in Orlando, Florida when the unthinkable happened. My wife caught her shoe on a curb and fell to the pavement. Because she was carrying a camera and some water in her hands, she didn't catch herself with her hands but fell on her face. I watched as the accident unfolded almost in slow motion. I was close but I couldn't catch her and I couldn't keep the accident from happening. I thought surely we would be making a trip to the hospital but fortunately, all she did was make it appear that she was a battered wife. The medic at the tourist attraction looked at her and decided that no permanent damage had been done. She decided she wanted to continue going through the "Holy Land in Orlando" attraction rather than going home. Good did come out of the whole thing, we got free passes into the facility.

This accident was unexpected and as we looked over the place where she tripped, it was hard to understand how or why it happened. But happen it did! When we got our rental car at the airport a few days earlier, the sales people wanted me to buy "extra" insurance, just in case something happened. I didn't because I felt we can't insure against everything, and we certainly shouldn't have to insure against "acts of God" if we really believe that He is in control. But I wondered how many people had the unexpected happen to them the day my wife had her accident? How many died in unexpected car and motorcycle accidents? How many downed? How many were shot in hunting accidents? There is no doubt that these things happen and they often happen unexpectedly. Most people want to insure against all these possibilities, but it is impossible to buy enough insurance to cover every unexpected event in our lives. The tourist facility had us sign some paper work indicating that we had refused a call to 911. I suspect that they were afraid that they were going to be sued. Of course we didn't and we wouldn't. It was an accident after all. I know that if God is in control, we could ask, "Why did this happen?", and "Is there any such thing as an "accident?" Yes, God allows "accidents." And while I don't have the only answer as to "why?", our answer that day was that it reminded us once again that we are to depend wholly on the Lord because all of our preparations and planning and insurance are not enough when the unexpected does happen.

I do not sell insurance, but for years I have been trying to tell people about One who has life assurance, and He provides it free of charge. He will prepare us to live just as He will prepare us to die. And we aren't prepared to live until we are prepared to die. If you don't believe that, just talk to a life insurance salesmen. I am glad that since I can't buy enough insurance to cover every unexpected event in my life and in the lives of my loved ones, I have something better. I have One who has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you! (Hebrews 13:5)." While He says that with regard to our material needs, the principle applies to every aspect of our lives. The One who has the power to give life and to take life is the One to whom I have entrusted my life for time and for eternity. Of course, by now you know that I am talking about the Lord Jesus. He is the One who suffered and died and rose again to give those who trust Him confidence that they are never left alone. He has sent the Holy Spirit to comfort, teach, guide and indwell us. He knows our names. He cares (1 Peter 5:7).

Accidents do happen. I am glad that we who are saved do not have them happen by chance, and we have the Lord with us when they do happen. He carrys us through these unexpected events in our lives.

My wife and I have prepared spiritually for the unexpected and unthinkable. At some point, the Lord is going to say "Come home with me!" It could be today, and it may be through an unexpected event. We are prepared. I hope you are as well.

 

Meditation for the week of September 27, 2009