Monday, May 22, 2017

MEDITATION

I Was Just Thinking About – MEDITATION.

In the twenty-first century, how many people make it a priority to meditate upon the Word of God? Does the “Church” today recognize the need and place for Biblical Meditation? If so, how often must a Biblical Christian meditate. Meditation defined means: “continued or extended thought; contemplation; self-examination; reflection; introspection.” Philippians 4:8-9 is a guideline for one's thought-life: "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things...put these things into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

From a secular viewpoint, the 21st century approach is encapsulated in a Today Show correspondent’s debacle in October 2016 when explicit sexual comments were aired. It resulted in the correspondent’s termination from the Today Show and affiliation with the NBC Network. What did this reporter do after his termination? He indicated: I attended a seminar and was told: “One moment in your life does not define who you are.” He went on to say:  I’ve done a lot of reading. I've gotten into a lot of meditation and yoga. Mindfulness meditation is a powerful thing.”

There are various secular forms and approaches of meditation. One, without definition, is OM. It is considered to represent the primal or primordial sound of the Universe, OM connects one to and carries the Divine in vibrational form, making one’s prayers and mantras more effective with its increased energy. It would be most common among eastern religions. There is also the TM school of thought (Transcendental Meditation) that suggests: A specific form of silent mantra meditation.

One’s Spiritual focus and understanding should minimally include: “The Hebrew word for Meditate is “hagah”. It is a word indicating the place and need of true consideration and reflection upon core values and foundational principles of Biblical/Spiritual truths. Biblical meditation is to focus the mind more on a particular subject. The objective for biblical meditation is making the Word and Person of God a reality in your life. To meditate on God's Word means one thinks about it repeatedly, filling one’s mind and mouth with it. Biblical meditation is about thinking, pondering, imagining, muttering, and speaking the Word of God.”

For a strict spiritual and Biblical practice of meditation from God’s perspective, we find it established in Joshua 1:7-8, Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Also in, Psalm 1:1-3, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his Law day and night.” Is this your habit and daily practice?

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.
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Saturday, May 20, 2017

INSULTS

I Was Just Thinking About – INSULTS.

I suspect that all of us have been the object of an insult. The fact is that not everyone will like us all of the time. When disagreements arise, the person who thinks they have been offended in some way, may resort and respond with an insult that is intended to demean and/or marginalize the other person.

At the outset of the Sermon on the Mount, there are the Beatitudes. They are often thought of as the eight distinguishing behaviors of any follower of Jesus Christ. Some commentators give credence to the meaning of “Blessed” as how one can be “Perfectly Happy” in their walk in the Lord. The summary following the section designated as the Beatitudes is stated in Matthew 5:11-12, “Blessed are you when people INSULT you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you BECAUSE OF ME. Rejoice and celebrate, because great is your reward in heaven; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you.” What is the “insult” potential and possibility? The Dictionary Definition is: “to treat or speak to rudely; to offend; to affront.” The synonyms are telling: “to scorn, injure, abuse; treat with indignity; be inconsiderate toward another; treat contemptuously toward one who deserves respect. Barnes Notes amplifies Matthew 5:11 - “Blessed are you when men shall revile you – reproach you; call you by evil and contemptuous names, ridicule you. This is what people said of Jesus – that He was a Samaritan and had a devil (John 8:48); that He was mad (John 10:19-20); and in this way, they reviled and mocked Him on the cross.”

In Matthew 5:38-45, Jesus instructs His followers to behave in a very difficult way: “You have heard that it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I tell you not to resist an evil person. If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also; if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well; and if someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said: Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”

Will this behavior be easy to implement? No! Is this one’s normal reaction and response? No! Will it be easy to be injured in this way and to respond positively as Jesus instructed? No! Is it a positive reflexive response when one would rather retaliate? No! How can one be expected to do that which is contrary to human instincts and behavior? We have to believe, claim and implement II Corinthians 12:9 (personalized), God’s grace is sufficient for me, for His power is perfected in my weakness (He alone will cause the impossible to be possible for me).

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Friday, May 19, 2017

BIBLICAL REVIVAL

I Was Just Thinking About – BIBLICAL REVIVAL.
Living in the South (Bible Belt), one has occasion to see a tradition being continued in various Church groups. Most have seen the signs that declare – Church Revival – three nights only (or some similar statement). While the intention seems noble, the idea conveyed that something unique, supernatural or dynamic will occur during those selected days is short-sighted. Question: Can a Revival be announced or is it something that takes place spontaneously? What is God’s requirement?
It seems that one should never drift too far from a specific word from the Lord in this regard. After the completion of the Temple being built, we read in II Chronicles 7:12-15, “Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.”
An additional factor is emphasis upon prayer. The Lord said: “I have heard your prayer.” One can wonder why prayer for Church Renewal or Revival is so seldom prayed. One should follow the model in Acts 4:29-31, “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”
Another observation is that the “Revival” posters and signs are usually associated with Baptist-oriented church groups. Some Presbyterian Churches have benefitted from instruction based upon From Embers to A Flame by the Presbyterian Pastor Harry L Reeder. He states: “God’s instructions to the church at Ephesus serve as a curriculum outline for church vitality and revitalization:  Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first.” See: Revelation 2:5. “There is a three-fold paradigm for renewing our churches: Remember…Repent…Recover... Church vitality or revitalization is nothing more than following God’s prescription for church health. Church health naturally leads to conversions and improved personal discipleship, for our good and God’s glory.” Does the Church you attend need a Biblical and Spiritual Revival?
Prayerfully – consider these things with me. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

BEING DOWNCAST

I Was Just Thinking About – BEING DOWNCAST.

It seems as though all kinds of people suffer from Monday morning blues! It some cases, the Monday Blues filter into other days of the week. In years past, an expression used to describe this experience was one using the idiom of being “down in the dumps.” It suggests one is in a gloomy or depressed mood. A literal definition for one who is downcast is: “dejected in spirit, depressed.” Our culture has drifted more toward the psychological and psychiatric interpretation of human behavior and mood swings as though these are exclusively a twenty-first century phenomenon.
When I was very young, a Sunday School Chorus was sung occasionally:
Down in the dumps I’ll never go – 
That’s where the devil keeps me low -
So - I’ll sing with all might, 
And I ‘ll keep my armor bright! 
But - Down in the dumps I’ll never go!
When the Psalms were being written, they covered the history and inter-personal relations in the years around 1000 BC. Psalm 42 is a song of lamentation and deep concern. Why did David pen the words in Psalm 42:5, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” Again, in verse 9: “I say to God, my rock: Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
In the Treasury of David, Charles Spurgeon’s introduction to this Psalm states: “It is probable that David's flight from Absalom may have been the occasion for composing this Maschil/Psalm. It is the cry of a man far removed from the outward ordinances and worship of God, sighing for the long-loved house of his God; and at the same time, it is the voice of a spiritual believer, under depressions, longing for the renewal of the divine presence, struggling with doubts and fears, but yet holding his ground by faith in the living God. Most of the Lord's family have sailed on the sea which is here so graphically described.”
In Psalm 42:11, David summarizes his thought and wrestling within his soul by asking: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” He answers his own question with the declaration: “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” There is a phrase that is stated in Jeremiah 29:11 that should not go unnoticed or forgotten: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” It is the phrase: “To give you a future and a hope.” If or when you experience downcast moments, remember God’s perfect plan is for you to know and claim the future and hope in Him alone.
Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

VIBRANCY

I Was Just Thinking About – VIBRANCY.
An obvious definition of vibrancy is: “pulsating with vigor and energy, exciting, stimulating, lively.” The British Dictionary adds: “giving an impression of vigor and activity.” One would hope and desire that most Biblical Christians would manifest a positive indication of their personal joy in the Lord. After all, the Gospel is that one has been delivered/liberated from death unto life in Christ alone. In that fact, one should rejoice always.
Years ago, in the Hee-Haw television program, one of the feature songs by Buck Owens and Roy Clark had the lyric:
Gloom, despair, and agony on me;
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery.
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all;
Gloom, despair, and agony on me.
Regrettably, some professing Christians have more expressed regrets then exuberant rejoicing. They give greater expression to gloom and despair than they do to blessings and rejoicing.
A Sunday School Motion Chorus from years ago involved the children singing:
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.
If you’re happy and you know it then your face will surely show it.
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.
The song would progress to stamping of feet, standing and shouting, etc.
One of the truths that should be remembered is stated by Ezra, Nehemiah and the Levites after the people had heard the reading of the Law of the Lord. In Nehemiah 8:9-10, the people were encouraged to respond in a positive way: “Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all: This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep. For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. Nehemiah said: Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Do you believe this and live according to the instruction?
Paul reminded the believers, Philippians 4:4. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Barnes Notes on this text states: “It is the privilege of Christians to do this, not at certain periods and at distant intervals, but at all times they may rejoice that there is a God and Savior; they may rejoice in the character, law, and government of God – in his promises, and in communion with him. The Christian, therefore, may be, and should be, always happy.” This should be done with exuberance, vigor and vibrancy.
Prayerfully – consider these things with me!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

CHARACTER

I Was Just Thinking About – CHARACTER.

Martin Luther King, Jr. is remembered by some of the lines used in his speeches. One of them pertained to “the content of one’s character.” What does that content mean and what should it include? Generally, it means: “The combination of features and traits that form an individual’s nature or traits; as well as one’s moral or ethical qualities.” It seems as though character and personal integrity are vital to each other. If integrity is not present, it affects how one is viewed as an individual.

Several years ago, I met with a graduate from one of the Reformed Seminaries in the hope that he and his wife would become part of the Church ministry. His immediate reply was that all people, both within and outside of the Church, are dysfunctional. Instead of exploring why he was convinced and embracing his view, I erred by challenging his failure to consider the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and the transforming grace of God who not only redeems but Who also begins the edification and sanctification of the individual. I referenced II Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things pass away and behold, all things become new.” My emphasis was upon the reality that the dysfunction could be transformed into being functional in Jesus Christ. Those who had been purposeless can become people of purpose in Christ. If this is not possible or likely, then there is no basis for hope in Christ.

I find great comfort in the words of I Corinthians 6:9-11, that delineates between the dysfunctional and the functional; between those steeped in trespasses and sins, and those who have been redeemed. The verses indicate: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who submit to or perform homosexual acts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

The obvious point is twofold: (a) “that is what some of you were” and (b) “but you were washed, sanctified, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” It reminds us that the marvelous grace of Jesus is greater than all of our sin. It reminds us there is always hope for the hopeless. It reminds us that God’s love, mercy and grace far exceeds one’s intellect and/or ability to comprehend. As the old Evangelists would often remind their audiences: “The grace of God can save from the gutter-most to the uttermost.” As one yields to Jesus Christ, the character of Christ begins to be our character. The Holy Spirit fills us with the fruit of the Christ-like character (Galatians 5:22-24).

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Friday, May 5, 2017

AGING

I Was Just Thinking About – AGING.

As one gets older (or more mature), it can be marked by a spirit of gracefulness and graciousness, or it can be approached with gripes, complaints and bitterness. One of the realities of aging is that being able to remember oftentimes begins to wane. Facts and information that once was at one’s fingertips now requires more thought and attempts at trying to recall. 

With the aging realities, two passages of God’s Word often come to mind. The first is a Prayer of Moses – Psalm 90:10-14 (ESV), where he reflects: “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away…So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom…Have pity on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”

A subtlety with aging is that one still feels as though he/she is younger in spirit and remaining able to do that which one did thirty of forty years earlier. The reality that sinks in is that stamina is much less and strength has diminished.

The second passage on aging is Psalm 37:3-7, 23-26 (ESV) where David shares: “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devicesThe steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing.”

James 4:13-15 reminds of the brevity of life: “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make a profit. You do not even know what will happen tomorrow! What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that.” Should one fear or dread aging? Proverbs 16:31 reminds us that: “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” Always remember and claim the Asher Blessing in Deuteronomy 33:25, “As your days, so shall your strength be.” You who are aging, be encouraged and remember that the Lord is always faithful. “Those who honor Him, He will honor and strengthen” (I Samuel 2:30).

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.