Archive for October, 2012

The Parable of the Operating Room

The Parable Of The Operating Room
I don’t know anybody that relishes the idea of surgery, especially major surgery. But when it is a matter of life and death, most will submit to it willingly because it still beats dying. Well I want to talk about another operating room. In fact, I call it “The Parable of the Operating Room”.

There was once a young man who, as far as he could tell, was leading a fairly normal and healthy life. Nothing seemed amiss, he wasn’t suffering from any maladies that he knew of, and he had every expectation for a long life. But at the insistence of a friend, he decided to have a physical examination anyway. If for no other reason than to be able to tell everyone around him that he was in perfect health.
At the doctor’s office, many tests were run, and everything was checked to make sure nothing was overlooked. The young man was not nervous at all while waiting for the test results, because he felt fine. To his surprise, the doctor entered the room with a very concerned look on his face. He was looking over the test results and slowly shaking his head.

Finally, the doctor looked up and broke the news to the young man. He said, “Young man, I hate to break this to you, but I am looking at these tests, and there are ten clear symptoms here that you are not only very ill, but are terminally ill.”
Starting to panic, the young man what these symptoms could possibly be. As the doctor ran down the list, the young man could only agree and wonder why he had never thought of the symptoms as a warning. The doctor said that everyone with these symptoms thinks they are normal untitled hey see the way the test results should have come out. Then it becomes painfully obvious that the condition is lethal.
“But, rest assured, young man,” the doctor said. “There is a cure that has been found and I can take care of this problem. All you need to do is submit to this operation and you will have a new life ahead of you. The procedure is very costly and you could never afford it, but I am willing to do it for free. Shall we proceed?”
Of course, now that the young man is aware of his true condition, he is more than willing to have the surgery. So the doctor has him admitted, has the young man wheeled into the operating room, and performs life saving surgery. All is well and the young man is eternally grateful for what the doctor has done. This is especially true since the doctor performed the surgery without charge.

So what is the meaning of my little parable? Glad you asked!
The young man is every one of us when we were without God. We were condemned by our sins, but had no idea that we were in any danger. All the while, we were in a spiritually terminal condition, doomed by the silent killer called sin. But at some point, often at the urging of a loved one, we are exposed to the Word of God. We looked into the Word and there, perhaps for the first time saw our true condition.

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (Hebrews 4:12, 13 NASB)

When the Holy Spirit, through the Word, convicted us of our sinful condition before God, we responded by gladly asking God to do whatever was required to cure our condition.
Please notice that the young man did not submit to this life altering surgery because the doctor had convinced him that, while he was okay, this procedure would make him even better and make his life easier. It was not until the young man was told of his true condition and its consequences that he gladly submitted the the master surgeon’s hands.
Jesus Christ is the doctor, and the tools of His surgery are grace, faith, and His own blood. Baptism is, if you will, the operating room. Now operating rooms never operated on anyone. Surgeons do that. And surgeons don’t use an operating room as the cure for anything. The scalpel and other tools do that, in conjunction with a supply of blood. But the operating room is where the surgery is supposed to take place! No surgeon, if given the choice, wants to operate on the hospital lawn. The proper place for surgery is in the operating room that was designed for that purpose. And when we try to omit the baptismal surgical suite, we are attempting an unnecessary shortcut that will endanger those we are trying to help.

Thus endeth the parable; thus endeth the lesson.

20121031-001040.jpg

Advertisements

Walking In The Light

In reality, their is not something called “darkness” that can be measured. All that exists is light. What we perceive as light and darkness is actually the presence or absence of light. That is why darkness cannot push out light, and light is always superior.

Jesus had much to say about light. In the Gospel of Luke, he said it this way:

“Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light. So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him.” (Luke 8:16-18 NASB)

The purpose of light is to give illumination to everything around. In Psalm 119, the word says “The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. (Psalm 119:130 NKJV). And the apostle John wrote about light in the New Testament.

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7 NKJV).

So walking in the light is critical for our spiritual survival. But we have to be purposeful about it. Seeing the light is not enough. We must walk in it, for only then will we be able to see the way to go, and be able to recognize sin in our lives so that we can repent and be healed. That’s why Jesus said to be careful how you listen. We must listen in faith, and take action on what we hear. If we don’t, we we have what little spiritual knowledge we think we have taken from us.
We have free will, and can reject light because we find it uncomfortable. Jesus said that light rejection is the reason sinners reject His Gospel.

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God. (John 3:19-21 NKJV).

This particularly ironic since in our text in Luke Jesus said that everything will be revealed and be exposed. So what are we trying to accomplish by hiding our sin and hoping to get away with something. At some point in time, our sin will be exposed. It is better to let the Word of God reveal it to us so we can confess it and repent, rather than to be publicly shamed when it is revealed.

So walk in the light of the Word and let it do its work in you.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12, 13 NKJV)

20121026-000000.jpg

Why Is There A Universe?

How many times have you heard someone say that you need to use the right tool for the job. Most things work best we they are used for the purpose for which they were designed and made. The entire created universe is the same way. Most reading this would agree that that Jesus was used by the Father to create the world and everything in it. But we need to know why the universe was created if we are going to know how to use it.

First, we need to believe that Jesus made all things.

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:3 ESV)

In the letter to the Colossians, Paul says this about Jesus Christ;

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (Colossians 1:16, 17 KJV)

Second, we need to establish how Jesus made all things. They creative force that was used was the very word of God.

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (Hebrews 11:3 ESV)

Thus the creation story if marked by the phrase, “and God said, let there be” and creative events occurred (the real Big Bang).

And finally, the question of why everything was created. Was it for mankind’s enjoyment? Was it because God was bored and we are an arts and crafts project? Of course not.
The worlds were made by Him and for Him! Just like it said in Revelation 4:11,

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Revelation 4:11 KJV)

All things were made for His pleasure.

What this means for us today is this. Whatever exists for us to use must be used in a manner consistent with the will of God. Anything we use that does not bring glory to our Lord and Savior is being misused. Everything that we can see was designed to bring glory to God, and we must be diligent to make sure we use them in such a manner that brings Him pleasure. Stop and think about that for a minute. What things do we see in nature that are being defiled and thus prevented from their designed use of glorifying God? Are we misusing what God has designed, like DNA, in ways that are contrary to the purpose of its Grand Designer?
Let us remember who really owns this world and use it for His pleasure.

For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. (Romans 11:36 KJV)

20121024-233426.jpg

The Immutable God

The attributes of God are a fascinating study. Among those attributes is one I find very comforting. This is the immutability of God. In short, immutability means that God does not change. And that makes sense because of His perfection. As the ultimate in perfection, any change would represent something inferior in nature. God said it this was through the prophet Malachi:

For I am the Lord, I change not; (Malachi 3:6a KJV)

This unchanging nature is also attributed to Jesus Christ in the letter to the Hebrews.

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Hebrews 13:8 KJV)

But what are the implications of this attributes for us as believers?

God will not change His mind about our salvation.
Jesus Christ is not a fickle savior. He does not save us only to change His mind when we don’t measure up. Some may quit on God, but they are not lost because He kicks them out. They are lost because they left.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38, 39 KJV)

God will not change His Word.
The words that have been spoken by God are eternal. God cannot lie, if for no other reason than whatever He says instantly becomes reality! If you are standing on the promises of God found in His Word, then you can rely on those promises because God’s Word is immutable!

Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides. (Psalm 119:89, 90 NKJV)

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Matthew 5:18 KJV)

God does not change His mind about worship.
When God indicates that He desires and blesses acts of worship, He does not come along later and decide He doesn’t like them any more. Well what about the sacrifices of animals in the Law of Moses? Surely God no longer desires or requires that, does He? Well yes, the principle still stands. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 9:22).
When God says to sing praises to His name, He still delights in such. When the Psalms speak of praising The Lord with instruments (Psalm 150), He has not reversed His preferences and decided it is now a sin to do so. Worship is about what God wants, not what we want, and is based on His immutable nature.

God doesn’t decide that our case is too difficult
No matter what situations and circumstances life throws at us, we can rest in the immutability of God. God is our anchor and a rock that we can rely upon.
And so we love, honor, and worship the unchanging One as we go through the struggles of life.

The eternal God is your refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms; (Deuteronomy 33:27a NKJV)

God is the One we can count on to be constant and sure. So let us place our trust and faith fully in His unchanging character to carry us through.

20121020-005412.jpg

Circumcision of the Heart

The Old Testament is replete with types and shadows that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. One of those Old Testament symbols of the covenant was circumcision. Circumcision was so integral to the Old Covenant that the concept of an uncircumcised Jew was unheard of.

In Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae, he says that baptism is the spiritual fulfillment of circumcision.

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:11, 12 ESV)

Now that we are in the New Covenant with Christ, we experience a circumcision that is spiritual and of the heart. And according to Paul, this spiritual circumcision occurs at baptism. Fittingly, the concept of an unbaptized Christian is just as foreign to the New Testament as an uncircumcised Jew was to the Old Testament.

But is this verse in Colossians saying that baptism is what saves us? Well, was Abraham declared righteous before being circumcised or afterwards? According to Romans chapter 4, at what point was Abraham declared righteous?

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. (Romans 4:7-10 ESV)

It was Abraham’s faith that caused him to obey the commandment of God and be circumcised, and it would be accurate to say that if Abraham had refused to obey God that he did not have faith. His obedience proved his faith. In the same way, we are declared righteous when we have faith, and that faith is proven, or validated, by our submitting to baptism.

Thus, salvation is by faith, and that faith is shown by our baptism. Righteousness comes by faith, and is not of works. We are saved by faith, not by faith plus a ritual. But that sign of the covenant must not be diminished or disregarded, either. Just as faith without obedience is out of context, obedience without faith is useless as well. But the connection of the old circumcision to baptism is clear. And Abraham was declared righteous because he believed God before he was circumcised. In the same way, we are declared righteous when we believe, and we submit to the sign of our covenant relationship when we are baptized. Failure to do so proves we didn’t really believe in the first place.

20121019-003123.jpg

Don’t Be A Fool

The Word of God has nothing good to say about a foolish person. To be called a fool, by the Bible definition, is to bring shame and hardship onto yourself and everyone associated with you (Proverbs 13:20). But what are the characteristics of a fool? Let’s look at the book of Proverbs to see the way a fool is described so that we can avoid being foolish without even realizing it!

The first character traits of fools are those related to pride. There is also a love of wickedness. I will let Proverbs do the talking. Please read the verses and see what God says about fools.
1. A fool despises wisdom. They already are fully convinced and no ne else has any advice or wisdom of value to offer them.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7 NASB)
A fool does not delight in understanding,
But only in revealing his own mind. (Proverbs 18:2 NASB)
Like the legs which are useless to the lame,
So is a proverb in the mouth of fools. (Proverbs 26:7 NASB)

2. A fool is complacent about their spiritual condition. They have no interest or sense of urgency in changing their ways.

“For the waywardness of the naive will kill them,
And the complacency of fools will destroy them. (Proverbs 1:32 NASB)
A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil,
But a fool is arrogant and careless. (Proverbs 14:16 NASB)

3. Fools flaunt their foolish and dishonorable actions for all to see. Their pride keeps them from realizing that the only one who doesn’t consider him a fool is himself.

The wise will inherit honor, But fools display dishonor. (Proverbs 3:35 NASB)
Like a dog that returns to its vomit
Is a fool who repeats his folly. (Proverbs 26:11 NASB)

4. A fool is destroyed by his own words. They have no thought of holding back from saying anything and everything they are thinking.

The wise of heart will receive commands,
But a babbling fool will be ruined. (Proverbs 10:8 NASB)
He who conceals hatred has lying lips,
And he who spreads slander is a fool. (Proverbs 10:18 NASB)
The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable,
But the mouth of fools spouts folly. (Proverbs 15:2 NASB)
The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge,
But the mouth of fools feeds on folly. (Proverbs 15:14 NASB)
A fool’s mouth is his ruin,
And his lips are the snare of his soul. (Proverbs 18:7 NASB)

5. A fool seeks out new ways to sin. Wickedness becomes their hobby because they have no fear of The Lord.

Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool,
And so is wisdom to a man of understanding. (Proverbs 10:23 NASB)
Fools mock at sin,
But among the upright there is good will. (Proverbs 14:9 NASB)

6. The fool does not exercise any self restraint.

A fool’s anger is known at once,
But a prudent man conceals dishonor. (Proverbs 12:16 NASB)
Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man,
But any fool will quarrel. (Proverbs 20:3 NASB)
A fool always loses his temper,
But a wise man holds it back. (Proverbs 29:11 NASB)

7. A fool rejects any discipline that would otherwise be used to correct him.

A fool rejects his father’s discipline,
But he who regards reproof is sensible. (Proverbs 15:5 NASB)
A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding
Than a hundred blows into a fool. (Proverbs 17:10 NASB)

8. A fool brings shame to the parents who raised him, and it doesn’t phase them a bit.

A wise son makes a father glad,
But a foolish man despises his mother. (Proverbs 15:20 NASB)
He who sires a fool does so to his sorrow,
And the father of a fool has no joy. (Proverbs 17:21 NASB)
A foolish son is a grief to his father
And bitterness to her who bore him. (Proverbs 17:25 NASB)

9. Fools are dangerous to be around, so recognize and avoid them as companions.

Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs,
Rather than a fool in his folly. (Proverbs 17:12 NASB)
He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will suffer harm. (Proverbs 13:20 NASB)

10. Fools always find themselves being punished and just don’t comprehend why. They attract punishment!

A fool’s lips bring strife,
And his mouth calls for blows. (Proverbs 18:6 NASB)
Judgments are prepared for scoffers,
And blows for the back of fools. (Proverbs 19:29 NASB)
A whip is for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
And a rod for the back of fools. (Proverbs 26:3 NASB)

After reading all of these things which describe the behavior of fools, one might draw the conclusion that there is nothing worse than a fool. And you would be wrong. As bad as foolishness is, pride is more lethal and deadly.

Do you see a man wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 26:12 NASB)

I would encourage all of us to read and consider the verses above and then pray as the Psalmist did:

Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts; And see if there be any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23, 24 ASV)

20121016-005007.jpg

In the Glory Land Way

Navigation systems.
Seems like nowadays we have to have them. They are useful, when the work correctly. But many things can go wrong. Sometimes, if you put in that you want to go to Appleton, you have to make sure you specify the one in Wisconsin. Following directions to Appleton, Illinois will not get you home any time soon!

We are all on a journey, and we need to make sure we are on the correct path, and also in the right kind of vehicle if we are to arrive at our desired eternal destination.

The onramp: Salvation
Before we are delivered from sin, we are all on the wrong road. It is a very wide and spacious road, and no one gets in your way. Most folks are on it, and who are we to say that they are wrong? Right? Well Jesus said otherwise.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13, 14 NASB)

The vehicle: Grace
In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul wrote that we are saved “by grace through faith” so I am making grace the vehicle, and faith the engine. For after we are saved, we must remain in grace in order to make it to our heavenly home. At no point in the journey are we ever without the need for grace. So now we have the vehicle, and discovered as well that it is ours as a gift! So how do we make it go?

The Engine: Faith
We must have faith to make any progress on our Christian journey. And faith we must have, without faith we cannot please God, nor receive the reward for those who diligently seek him.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6 NASB)

But how do we get this faith and make it strong? By taking in the Word of God!

So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 WEB)

So we now know we need faith for an engine, and we know where to get it. Now we need some fuel.

The Fuel: Love
The fuel our faith engine runs on is love.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision amounts to anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith working through love. (Galatians 5:6 WEB)

For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, (Ephesians 1:15 NASB)

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of love. Without it, your entire journey is for nothing. Nothing else matters if you don’t mix it with love.

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, (Ephesians 3:17 NASB)

We have our vehicle, the engine is in, the tank is fueled, and will continue to be refilled, with love. What kind of highway are we supposed to drive on?

The Road: Patience
Back in Matthew 7 we saw that the road is narrow and few people will find it. Once we are on this narrow road, what kind of road is it? It is a road of patience. If we were to receive everything instantly, we would have little opportunity to build our character. It is in the waiting that we learn to trust God.

so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:12 ESV)

Yes, our final salvation must be hoped for with patience.

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:24, 25 ESV)

Paul commended the Thessalonians for their patience, faith and love.

Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; (1 Thessalonians 1:3 KJV)

Now we are equipped for the journey. We have to remember that not of the things I have mentioned above are optional. They all are essential and there are no substitutes for them. Take away any of them, and the others are ineffective and/or nullified. If this is not a journey you have begun, or if you realize that you thought the journey had begun but find yourself on the broad road, come to Jesus and begin the journey on the narrow road. Get in the Glory Land Way!

20121012-234936.jpg

%d bloggers like this: