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SEPTEMBER 2012

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Taking Inventory

 

What I am supposed to be doing all the time:

  1. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5)

  2. I will extol You, my God, O King; And I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, And on Your wondrous works. Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, And I will declare Your greatness. (Psalms 145:1-6)

  3. Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. (Psalms 96:2)

  4. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

  5. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

  6. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

What I will be doing one day:

  1. And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!" Then the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever. (Revelation 5:13-14)

  2. After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, "Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! (Revelation 19:1)

What I should be doing right now:

  1. And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."(Revelation 19:10)

  2. He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)

Trusting, praising, singing, extolling, praising, worshiping, thinking or meditating on right things, praising, thanking, blessing, rejoicing, speaking right and treating others right and praising are the things that should occupy us if we are truly pleased with the Lord and with His salvation. Did I mention praising?

But what does consume us? It is easy to let Satan defeat us by causing us to let worry, complaining and bitterness control us.

What will occupy us in heaven? Singing and praising! It is for sure that we will be giving the Lord the worship and praise that He deserves there. I think then for the first time we will really understand what we have been saved from and what we have been saved for. We will finally fully comprehend the cost of our salvation.

I have to ask myself, “Am I really happy to be a Biblical Christian? Am I satisfied with the Lord and my lot in life? Do I really live for eternity and not for time? Am I trusting in the Lord or have I put my trust in man, or wealth or myself? Knowing what I know now about a Biblical Christian being a square peg in a round hole when it comes to fitting into this world, would I still want to be saved the Bible way if I had to do it all over again? ”

Yes, I would still want to be saved the Bible way! But I have to admit I would try to do a little less complaining and a little more praising if I were to do it all over again.


Meditation for the week of September 2, 2012

Say What?

 

Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth-- those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. (John 5:28-29)

 

There are three resurrections in this chapter. The first one is in John 5:24 and it is a spiritual resurrection. Those who trust God by trusting in the Lord Jesus have already passed from death to life according to this verse. That is a resurrection. Then we have today's verses which speak of a resurrection of life and a resurrection of condemnation. The book of the Revelation tells us that these resurrections are 1,000 years apart. Revelation 20:5-6 says, "But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years."

Before the Kingdom of God is established on the earth, there is a resurrection of those who have trusted in Christ. They get to reign with Christ for a 1000 years. After that there is another resurrection for those who have died rejecting Christ. That is the resurrection of condemnation and this chapter says that those who are part of that resurrection will experience the second death. They will have died once physically and after their resurrection they will stand before God to be judged by their works. Since our works are never good enough to get us to heaven, those who are judged according to their works instead of by the work of Christ for them on the cross will experience the second death by being forever separated from God in the Lake of Fire.

Now surely we all want to be part of the first resurrection, but how can we be part of that resurrection? John 529, says we must do good to be part of that resurrection. But wait a minute! Doesn't "doing good" make salvation something we do for God rather than something He does for us? Doesn't Ephesians 2:9 say that salvation is not of works of righteousness? The Bible does not contradict itself although at times it may seem that it does until we understand the conflicting passages. So what does it mean to do good?

Some would say that doing good in this passage is what Christians do because they are saved and not what they do in order to get saved. So those who do good are those who are proving that they are saved by their good works. While that is a possible explanation, even Christians sin so how much good must they do to be good doers that take part in the first resurrection? I think there is a better explanation.

All the way through the Gospel of John, trusting in Christ (or believing in Him) is the important issue. The purpose of the Gospel is given in John 20:31, "but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:31). I have come to the conclusion that the greatest honor we can give to a person is to trust them. Policemen talk about fellow officers who "have their back." Soldiers know the need to trust their fellow soldiers. And we must come to the conclusion that we can trust Christ. When we are trusting Christ or believing in Him, we are "doing good." Our trust in the Lord honors Him. It says that we believe He is God. It says that we believe He has the ability and the authority on this earth to forgive our sins.

We make a great mistake when we trust in men or ourselves. But we cannot make a mistake when we are "doing good" by trusting in the Lord.

 

Meditation for the week of September 9, 2012

Christ is in us? Really?

 

Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, "What do you seek?" They said to Him, "Rabbi" (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), "where are You staying?" (John 1:38)

 

Wouldn't it be nice If we could invite God into our homes for dinner tonight? I sometimes wonder if the disciples really realized that they were in the presence of their Creator when they were being discipled by the Lord Jesus. However, we cannot spend time with the Lord in the way the disciples did and we cannot have the Lord in our homes as a guest tonight. The reason is that He is going to be in our homes as a permanent resident if we have really become believers in Him. He will be present in the person of the Holy Spirit.

I find it remarkable that the Lord came into this world to dwell among us or tabernacle among us (John 1: 14). He tabernacled or lived in a world that by and large did not want Him. The world would not accept the fact that if we are worshipers of God we are worshipers of the Lord Jesus. By rejecting Christ, the world rejected God.

We are told by Paul that upon believing the Holy Spirit comes to indwell each one of us. Ephesians 1:13 says that we were sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise. Romans 8:9 says that the Holy Spirit dwells in those of us who are believers; and if we do not have the Holy Spirit, we are not the Lord's, that is we are not saved. But to prove that God is dwelling in our bodies after we are saved, Paul says our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" I know that it is really the Holy Spirit that has come to be the permanent resident in us and because of us, He resides in our homes . However, if the Holy Spirit is God and if the Lord Jesus is God and if God is God, then I think that having the Holy Spirit indwell us is the same as having Christ indwell us. It is also the same as having God indwell us. But now God dwells in a place where He is wanted. We can grieve the Holy Spirit, that is we can distress Him or make Him sad, but He still dwells in us. Think of it, Christ and God in the person of the Holy Spirit has come to take up an adode in our bodies of clay. I would say that makes us pretty special if we are truly believers in Him.

The Lord also dwells in the church. Again it is really the Holy Spirit dwelling there but that means that the Lord and that God dwell there. Speaking to the Corinthian church Paul says, "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you (1 Corinthians 3:16)?" That is pretty special too except there are churches where this must not be true. In Revelation 3:20 the Lord is on the outside of the church door knocking and asking for permission to enter. Corinth had a lot of problems but Paul said that the Lord was dwelling there in the power of the Holy Spirit. The church of Laodicea in Revelation 3 had become so blinded by their material wealth and earthly success that they didn't realize that they were worshiping in their own power and that the Lord wasn't even present. He wanted to be there but they had shut Him out. They had lost their power and discernment. They had been pretty special, but now they were a bus without an engine and they were going nowhere.

Paul says in Colossians 1:27 that one of the things hidden in the old testament that is now made known in the new is that Christ is in us. If he is dwelling in us, we certainly don't want to be arguing with Him, we should want to be enjoying His company. We should also want to enjoy the times when we are in a church meeting where it is obvious that the Lord is there leading the worship and teaching the saints through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Likely we have all been in churches that are going through the motions and where they seem to have lost their focus and power. That makes the ones where the Lord is obviously present pretty special.

The Lord should not have to "make himself at home" as a guest would in our homes. He should feel that our homes are His home. We should be honored to have Him wanting to make His abode with us.

 

Meditation for the week of September 16, 2012

That's Bananas!

 

"But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. (Luke 15:22)

 

The fact that a believer in the Lord Jesus has "Christ in Him (Colossians 1:27, Romans 8:10) is a precious truth. One would think that having the Holy Spirit take up a permanent residence in a person would be seen in their faces and in their actions. A person's face should glow much like Moses' did when He came out from the presence of the Lord (Exodus 34:29). While it is true that often we who preach the Gospel can tell when a person has trusted the Lord by their happy countenance, it seems that the shine wears off after a while. In addition, those who say that they have trusted the Lord often do not "look" any different in their lives after their "conversions" than the unsaved look. Statistics seem to show that those who call themselves Christians have as many moral problems as those who do not. So what people see in Christians is often a problem when we preach the Gospel. Unsaved people who are clean living often wonder why they would want to be saved if the saved and the unsaved are living the same way and if being saved seems to make some Christians so judgmental of others while living hypocritically themselves. In other words they see others sins, but they don't seem to see their own. Fortunately what people see in Christians is not what God sees.

Before we were saved we were "in our sins (John 8:24, Ephesians 2:1)." We were dead or separated from God because all He could see was our sin. We were immersed in it. Some of us were "in" the moral religions sins of those who are trying to get to heaven by their good works. Some of us were "in" the immoral sins of a world that has rejected God's authority. But all of us were seen by God as being "in sin". After we are saved we are "in Christ (Romans 8:1, Ephesians 2:13)". All God sees is Christ when He sees us. He sees His righteousness and His beauty. He does not see our sins.

We get a little glimpse of this great truth when Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. God clothed her and Adam with skins of animals to cover the nakedness that their sin had exposed (Genesis 3:21). The clothing required the death of the animal and the clothing had to be put on to be an effective covering. Our clothing that God sees is provided by the death of the Lamb of God and it must be "believed in" or trusted to be put on. But when it is is put on, God sees the righteousness of Christ instead of the ugliness of our sin. The same truth would be seen in the story of the prodigal son. He had gone his own way and had "made his own decisions." His wayward life had led him to a pig farm where he fed the swine—an animal that religious Jews could not eat. But when "he came to himself," he threw himself on the mercy of his father who was waiting for him to come home. When he got home they put on him the "best" robe. I don't know if he had taken a bath or not, but whatever marks the pig farm and his profligate life might have left were now covered. This is a picture of the righteousness of Christ that covers every person who is saved. We are "in Christ" and not "in our sins."

In Revelation 19:8 we see the bride in all her glory. She is clothed in fine linen, clean and white and the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. Some newer translations say that the fine linen is the good deeds of the saints. But that's banana's! All the way through Scripture we display the righteousness of Christ when we are saved. We don't offer God our good deeds we offer Him Christ. We don't display our good deeds, we display Christ. We don't preach our good deeds, we preach Christ. Now in heaven supposedly we are going to be displaying our own good deeds!? At least to me that makes no sense. I believe the fine linen represents the righteousness of Christ which is our righteousness. Obviously, that fine linen will be cleaner and more beautiful than any thing that we as Christians could offer God. Our fine linen would have holes, rips and stains in it. Christ's is perfect.

If we are saved, we have Christ in us. We have Christ covering us. We really do have it made.

He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

 

Meditation for the week of September 23, 2012

Wrong Again!

 

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 1:1)

 

Does the phrase "faithful in Christ Jesus" describe a certain class of saints in Ephesus or is it further describing what it means to be a saint? I have quoted this verse from the NKJV which I believe confuses its meaning. The KJV would say "and to the faithful in Christ Jesus." The Bible in Basic English which is a paraphrase says, "and those who have faith in Christ Jesus." The first three chapters of the Ephesian epistle deal with our blessings as a result of being "in Christ" by trusting Him. The last three chapters deal with the practical implications of our position as believers in Christ. Since this statement deals with those who are faithful "in Christ Jesus," and is the lead in to the section dealing with being "in Christ," I believe that the faithful in Christ Jesus are those who have turned away from idols, from self worship, from unbelief of every form. They have fully and completely trusted in Christ as the only true God and Savior.

Those of us who preach the Gospel today tend to spend a lot of time on works that are the result of faith in Christ. When people act certain ways that we consider unscriptural, we make it clear that Christians simply don't do those things. Sometimes there is a sense of pride in the fact that we as Christians have changed and our lives are now "holy". If I were an unsaved person listening to some of the sermons that I have preached, I am sure that I would think that being a Christian is a lifestyle rather than faith in the Lord. Surely if a Christian should do good works, then good works must make a person a Christian, right? Wrong! We need to get back to reminding ourselves and those to whom we preach that what the Lord really wants is our unconditional trust in Him. He wants our love. He wants to be our number one. He wants our total committed loyalty. That is why in Hebrews 11:6 He tells us that without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please Him. David was a man after God's own heart because He never turned aside to idols like most of the kings did. He didn't always live right, but He always worshiped right. He was always loyal to the Lord. He fulfilled the first of the ten commandments that says we should have no other gods before the Lord. I believe that this was also the condition of the Ephesians at the time that Paul wrote to them in this epistle and it is why he called them " the faithful in Christ Jesus."

When we trust in the Lord Jesus, we become His bride (See Ephesians 5:32, Revelation 21:9). He wants that bride to be totally devoted to Him. A devoted bride will show her love of the bridegroom by the way she lives and the way she talks. The Lord wants a people who trust Him, love Him and who are devoted to Him. All the good works in the world will not please the Lord if they aren't the result of a loyal, devoted, loving heart. Good works can be a great weapon used by religious people to control others, or they can be the method that people who love the Lord show their total loyalty and devotion to Him. One who is "faithful in Christ Jesus" is not asking, "What do I HAVE to do to please the Lord?" Instead they ask, "What does the Lord want me to do to show my devotion to Him?" Faith in Christ liberates us from the bondage of dead religious works and gives us a new love, a new purpose and a new life.

I have noticed that people who really love the Lord are more concerned with their own sin than with the sin of others. When Isaiah saw the Lord in Isaiah 6 he says, "Woe is me." Up until then he had been pronouncing woe on the real sin of others. But now he is in the presence of the Holy God and it humbles him. It changes his focus. He does preach about the sin of others after this experience, but I believe that we can only be honest about sin of any kind after we have been honest before God about our own sin. If every person were convicted of their own sin before preaching to others, our preaching would have the power that it ought to have. Instead of people hearing us trying to control them through religion, they would understand that we believe in a Person who loves them. This person can forgive them, give them a home in heaven, and give them a reason for living now. He truly can give us a new life.

He gives all of this to those who simply believe in Him. They are "the faithful in Christ Jesus."

 

Meditation for the week of September 30, 2012