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SEPTEMBER 2017

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This is My Lord!  

John 20:28-29 And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

 

R. Carradine wrote the following song.  I can say that I believe that they nailed MY LORD to the tree and I hope you can as well. I am one of those who was not present to see the Lord when He was here on the earth, but I have believed what I have seen from the precious Word of God. 

There’s a hill lone and grey, in a land far away,
In a country beyond the blue sea,
Where beneath that fair sky went a Man forth to die
For the world and for you and for me.

Refrain

Oh, it bows down my heart
And the teardrops will start,
When in mem’ry that grey hill I see.
For ’twas there on its side, Jesus suffered and died
To redeem a poor sinner like me.

Behold! faint on the road, ’neath a world’s heavy load,
Comes a thorn crownčd Man on the way,
With a cross He is bowed, but still on through the crowd
He’s ascending that hill lone and grey.

Refrain

Hark! I hear the dull blow of the hammer swung low;
They are nailing my Lord to the tree,
And the cross they upraised while the multitude gaze
On the blest Lamb of dark Calvary.

Refrain

How they mock Him in death, to His last lab’ring breath,
While His friends sadly weep o’er the way;
But though lonely and faint, still no word of complaint
Fell from Him on the hill lone and grey.

Refrain

Then the darkness came down and the rocks rent around,
And a cry pierced the grief laden air;
’Twas the voice of our King Who received death’s dark sting,
All to save us from endless despair.

Refrain

Let the sun hide its face, let the earth reel apace,
Over men who their Savior have slain;
But behold from the sod, comes the blest Lamb of God,
Who was slain and is risen again.

Refrain

Meditation for the week of September 5, 2017

Listening to that Still Small Voice!

 

1 Kings 19:11-12  Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake;  and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

 

Are People Listening?

Harvey, Irma, an earthquake in Mexico, forest fires, eclipses and potential wars are all in the news right now.  Is God speaking?  Yes!  Are people listening?  Now that is the question!

 

Is God judging the US?

We have many preachers who are saying that the current rash of catastrophes, both natural and man -made plus the signs in the skies point to the “last days” spoken of in Scripture.  They say that if we would listen to the message of coming destruction and change our ways, God would withhold that judgment just like He did when Jonah preached to Nineveh.  Jonah preached just eight words, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”  He did not tell the city that there was salvation available; but when the people in the city became concerned and repented in sackcloth and ashes, the city was spared.

 

Is the US about to be destroyed because of the general immorality that is now part of our culture?  Could we be spared if we would quit aborting babies and if people would quit “living in sin” both as heterosexuals and as homosexuals?  My answer is that we are never going to find out because those changes to our culture simply are not going to happen.  And frankly, those are probably not the worse sins of our culture.  The hatred of many for other people that God created in His own image tops the list in my humble opinion.  While these storms have brought out the best in people, we still see the inbred hatred and prejudice of many people that are out to isolate and destroy those that are different from them.  When so-called believers approve such attitudes, that has got to grieve the heart of God.

 

Scriptures that Come to Mind when I think about how God Speaks

Romans 1 makes it clear that God does speak through creation and through conscience and through His word.  It seems to me that if we won't listen to one of these three things, we aren't going to be persuaded by major catastrophes or even by miracles.  When a rich man ended up in hell, he wanted the Lord to send Lazarus back to his brothers.  He wanted them to be warned not to make the same mistake he had made.  He was told, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead (Luke 16:31)."  In other words, if they wouldn't believe what was written in the word of God, they wouldn't believe Lazarus even if he were raised from the dead. 

 

Job reminds us that God does speak to us, but Job does not mention miracles and calamities.  He says, “For God may speak in one way, or in another, Yet man does not perceive it.  In a dream, in a vision of the night, When deep sleep falls upon men, While slumbering on their beds, Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction.  In order to turn man from his deed, And conceal pride from man, He keeps back his soul from the Pit, And his life from perishing by the sword (Job 33:14-18).”

 

In the Scripture we are considering today, Elijah had slain the prophets of Baal and then had fled for his life since Jezebel wanted to kill him.  He ended up on a mountain where God spoke to Him.  But God didn't speak through the fire or wind or earthquake.  He spoke through a still small voice.  I would like to believe that the still small voice is what we hear when we are all alone and read the Word of God and let it speak to our consciences. 

 

Coming Judgments

We know that there is a day coming when there will be signs in the heavens, there will be famines and disease and natural disasters.  God will be speaking to a world that crucified His Son.  Will people listen?  Some will, but many will not.  We read in Revelation 9:20-21, “”But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.  And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.” 

 

I believe that often calamities occur because the earth was cursed when Adam and Eve sinned.  We have thorns and thistles and storms and earthquakes.  We should always be open to the voice of God whether in the storm or in the quiet of the night.  But frankly, I believe that when people quit listening to the still small voice of their consciences, they are not going to listen to God in the greater calamities.  It is the individual that God is calling today to repent and believe.  It is not nations.  He will call the Jewish nation to repentance in a coming day, but that is not taking place at the present time.  So instead of wondering if God is judging the US, or if God is judging the world, maybe we should ask what God is trying to say to us personally.  These calamities should cause all of us to ask ourselves if we are ready for the day when we will personally meet God.

 

 

Meditation for the week of September 10, 2017

Full of Grace and Truth

 

John 1:14  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

The Incarnation

John 1 gives us a theological explanation of the incarnation of Christ.  We find out that the the Lord is the Word.  A word can be the vehicle that delivers a message or it can be the message itself.  The Lord was both.  He delivered the message of John 3:16 where He says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  That summarizes the Lord's purpose and the message of the Bible.  We either believe or trust what the Lord says or we question it.  If we trust it, we have everlasting life.  If we question it, we are going to perish.

 

Full of Grace and Truth

But I digress.  What I like about the message of John 1 is that grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.  The Word was made flesh and tabernacled among us.  The Lord represented God and reflected God.  His attributes are the attributes of God.  And He was full of Grace and Truth.

 

The word full in the Bible often means controlled by.  If we are filled with anger or rage or jealousy, it controls us.  The Lord was controlled by grace and truth.

 

I like to think of truth as the engine in a car.  I like to think of grace as the oil that keeps that engine running smoothly.  If you drain the oil out of the engine of a car and then start it, the engine will run for a while.  But ultimately, it will begin to make lots of noise and will “freeze up.”  The engine will be destroyed.  Notice that there was nothing wrong with the engine.  However, there was something lacking, and it was the oil.  The Lord did not give up the truth in order to manifest His grace.  The truth is that we are all sinners.  The truth is that God loved us and provided for the punishment that our sins deserved by punishing Christ for us.  The truth is that God manifested His grace by providing for a fallen race in that way.  Grace is a free unmerited gift.  You don't have to ask for it.  You only have to receive it by believing in the authority, character and reputation of the Lord.  See John 1:12. 

 

Grace is Amazing

I have always liked the song Amazing Grace.  I understand the sentiments of John Newton who wrote it.  But the song can be misunderstood.   It says, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost but now am found.  Was blind but now I see.”  Those lyrics are an accurate reflection of how one is saved if we understand that grace doesn't save us but Christ saves us by His grace.  So when we sing the song, most of us are thinking about the amazing grace of Christ because we are saved by grace through faith in Christ. 

 

What is grace?  We have already likened it to the oil in a car.  It is defined as a gift that is freely offered and that is unmerited.  It is probably more fully defined by the fruit of the spirit which is found in Galatians 5:22-23:  The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  One who is full of grace would be gracious and that was true of the Lord.  He grew in grace.  People marveled at the gracious words that He spoke. 

 

The only times the Lord wasn't gracious was when He was dealing with religious hypocrites and with people who used the worship of Jehovah as a business.  He healed, He fed, He calmed storms,  He willingly died on a cross in order to offer us the free gift of salvation.  We by contrast try to work our way to heaven but Paul reminds us that wages of sin (what we get for working)  is death but the gift (grace) of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).  That grace will not be available after we die if we reject it now.  The Lord is longsuffering when it comes to reaching unbelievers, but that grace is only available now while we are living.

 

My Prayer

I love the fact that the Lord has manifested the grace of God without giving up the truth.  My prayer is that I can do the same thing as a believer who has received His grace.

 

Meditation for the week of September 17, 2017

Futility!

 

Ecclesiastes 1:2  "Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher; "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."

Ecclesiastes 1:14  I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:17  Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind.

 

What do we Really Accomplish in this life?

The writer of Ecclesiastes calls himself a preacher.  I can identify with that.  He has tried everything that life has to offer.  He says he tried partying, he built, he owned, he got rich and yet he thought life was futile.  What was the point of his life and of living in general?  I have not had the same privileges he had, but even so I can identify with his feelings of futility.

 

Sometimes, we get up in the morning and we accomplish a great deal.  To me that is satisfying.  Being a procrastinator, sometimes I get up and accomplish nothing.  That is not satisfying.  But even when we do accomplish a great deal, what does it matter?  Who really cares?  Some days, we might accomplish more if we just stayed in bed.

 

There is a poem that I remember from when I was young.  It goes something like this (and I don't know who wrote it so I can't give them credit or blame as the case might be):

 

One day as I sat musing,

Sad and lonely and without a friend,

A voice came to meet from out of the gloom saying,

Cheer up! Things could be worse!

So I cheered up and sure enough things got worse!

 

Now that cheer may have come from a bottle and yes that kind of cheer can make things worse.  But when you do a good job, who really cares?  Do your corporate bosses really care?  And if you work for yourself and amass a great fortune by being a good steward, who really cares?  Ultimately the estate is left to heirs who may or may not appreciate what they have.  I suppose the thing that really is depressing is that no matter how industrious and “right” we are in this life, ultimately we are going to die.  That would really be depressing if I thought that there was no way to prepare for that day and for an afterlife.  However, it is the hope of salvation that encourages me on my down days.  I don't hope to be saved;  but because I am saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, I have something to anticipate with joy.  I have hope.

 

But does God Really Care?

Even though men may not appreciate a Christian's efforts, God does.  I know that we are not saved by good works but God does judge a Christian's works as to whether they are worthless or whether they are good.  But the reward for good works is future and often does not feel very personal or fulfilling right now.  Sometimes it would be nice to see an “A” on a test again or to hear someone say that they were helped by something that we did.  In my business I hear about every mistake I supposedly make, but I hear very little about the things that I hope are helpful to others.

 

God Does Speak However.

On Saturday's I usually eat breakfast out and prepare for the weekend.  I try to write a rough draft of my weekly meditation and I try to make sure I have my thoughts in order if I am planning on speaking somewhere on Sunday   This last Saturday, I went to Perkin's to get a good breakfast and to enjoy a bran muffin.  I was deep into my studying and didn't really know what was going on around me.  When I went to pay the bill, the gal at the cash register told me that my bill had been paid.  I asked who paid it and she said a lady with a child sitting by the windows had paid.  I asked if she had paid for others and she said, “No, she just paid for you.”  I asked if she had left a tip and was told that she had left a nice tip.  I don't know who this lady was.  Apparently she was "paying it forward" as many people do today.  I try to do that myself from time to time.  But out of all the people in that restaurant she chose me to show kindness.  It was as if God were whispering in my ear, “See I really do watch out for you.  I really do care. Keep up the good work and keep the faith."   Of course that lady may not know what that act of kindness meant to me, but it made me realize that Solomon, the preacher, may have had it wrong when he said “ALL IS VANITY AND CHASING AFTER THE WIND.”  From a worldly standpoint, that may be true.  But from a spiritual standpoint that is not true.

 

Thank you, whoever you were and thank you Lord!

 

Meditation for the week of September 24, 2017