Friday, Oct. 31

I’m not particularly keen on this holiday, but we take a measure of delight in giving out a few goodies to kids and it gives a small opening for getting to know people in our neighborhood. You probably know the story behind Halloween, so I’ll not get into that. I guess if there was ever a “hallowed evening” it would be the night before the crucifixion. Some people would opt for the night Jesus was born, which is fine. I won’t quibble over that. But the night before the crucifixion is when Jesus spent hours covering things that the disciples needed to know. It was the night He partook of the passover feast with His disciples. He knew that He would be the slain Lamb, but the disciples seemed to totally unaware of that. It was the night he washed the disciples’ feet. It was the night Judas was exposed as a traitor and the night Jesus was betrayed. Jesus carried out all these things with the full knowledge that the agonizing death of the cross was only hours away. It boggles my mind. Those words that come at the beginning of John 13 and which do not often come to our attention are so precious. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.” The washing of the disciples feet came right after these words, so it’s easy to relate the note about love to that event. But I rather think the real significance was the sacrificial death that He endured a few hours later. Only God could do what Jesus did that night. Awesome!

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Mary and Martha

Thursday, Oct. 30
[Note re. Elizabeth. Her diagnosis is confirmed as a TIA. She is doing fine. Dr. Chaffee has altered some medications to minimize a second “episode.” Thanks for your prayers.]
Now, back to “knowing God.” In relation to the truth concerning knowing God, Dean also had this comment: “Still too much Martha in me and not enough Mary.” Getting to know God as the core issue in life is not new. Mary “got it.” Martha did not. Abraham spent most of his life “getting it.” The Apostle John “got it” rather quickly, while Peter took a little longer. Martin Luther “got it” by Paul’s testimony in Romans. Dean “got it” after years of service—as did I. John Piper “got it” somewhere along the line and has made it the key theme of his ministry. There’s some bad news here and some good news. The bad news is that too many Christians have not caught it yet. The good news is that every Christian will “get it” when we get to heaven. But understanding this truth now in this life leads to a more meaningful prayer life, peace of heart when trials come, assurance of being loved and accepted by God, a new significance re. the sovereignty of God, and a stronger desire to please Him. It is no wonder that Dean eagerly awaits his passing out of this life into the arms of God. As the hymn says “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus.” Then we will REALLY know Him!

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Knowing God

Wednesday, Oct. 29

“The main thing God does is show us Who He is.”—Dean Van Vliet. My cousin, Dean, has lived a full life serving God, mostly in Papua New Guinea. He learned a lot during those years and by his own testimony the truth quoted here came later on in his life. This has been true of my life, too. The first main thing God did with both of us was to straighten out a few kinks in our doctrine. The second thing was a commitment to serve God, to make Him the Lord of our lives. But the third thing—and most important one—was to know and love God. Above all else, He wants our fellowship. That’s why He created man in the first place. I firmly believe that God is more interested in my knowing Him than anything I do for Him. I have a lot to learn about God, but the glimpses I’ve had in my later years makes me yearn for a greater understanding. Knowing God is bigger than knowing about salvation and my eternal destiny. It is bigger than living a moral life. It is bigger than being a good servant. It is bigger than bearing fruit. This world will come to an end and there will be no need to preach the gospel, no more fruit to harvest, no longer a struggle with morality. But I will always have God and I will spend eternity getting to know Him better. If you haven’t grasped the importance of that yet, you’re missing out. I Cor. 13:12. “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” My future with Him is exciting to think about.

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Roamin’ in Romans 8

Tuesday, Oct. 28
If you didn’t read Romans 8 after yesterday’s blog, let me whet your appetite. Here are a few of the choice truths to meditate on.
–Therefore there is now no condemnation
–The law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin
–our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed IN US
–The Spirit helps us in our weakness
–The Spirit intercedes for us (in prayer)
–in all things God works for (our) good
–If God is for us, who can be against us?
–Christ . . . is also interceding for us
–Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
–in all things we are more than conquerors
There’s more. Read and meditate on Romans 8 on a daily basis. It will not only bring joy, but will prepare you for whatever God puts on your plate for the day. Living by Romans 8 is exactly what God envisions for our lives. His power will flow through us to every one around us.

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Monday, Oct. 27

If you are not joyful, there’s something wrong. It’s not just that the Bible tells us to be joyful. When we come to Christ, we recognize our sinful condition, accept what Christ did for us and are redeemed. We recognize what God has done and we worship Him. This leads to a greater understanding of a loving and caring God. We learn of His sovereignty, His total immersion in men’s affairs, His plan for this world. We learn that every moment of every day He is monitoring and directing our lives. Even when we sin, we are not condemned, but cherished and encouraged. Sanctification is in progress. When trials come, they are designed by God to conform us to Christ. Sickness, disappointments, failures, being abused by others, persecution all are part of His plan for us. Every event of life is a means of taking us to new levels of trust in God, our love for Him is increased, and our admiration and worship deepened. God is good. Nothing is out of order. And that is reason for joy. Romans 8 tells all this better than I can. We often hone in on v. 28 “All things work together for good . . .” but the whole chapter details that truth. Interestingly enough, the word “joy” does not appear in Rom. 8, but without doubt, it is the natural result. But James 1:2 says it. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds . . .” So if you lack joy, check it out. Somewhere along the line there’s broken pipe that needs to be fixed.

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Sunday, Oct. 26 “As soon as you understand what the Bible says, the ball is in your court.” James 4:17 supports this view. “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” That seems clear enough for me. Another way to put it is that truth demands a response. There is no such thing as no response. If you don’t want to respond, you have already responded. So, if I know I need to do something and choose not to, it’s sin. This happens with me more than I like to admit. It makes me realize why I can’t possibly live up to God’s standard. We normally think of this kind of sin as a sin of omission. Not that it makes a whole lot of difference, but this is a sin of commission. We are making a rational choice not to do something that we know we should. We have committed ourselves to it—so it’s a sin of commission. This is kind of “heavy” but the good news is that all sin—past, present, and future—is already taken care of in terms of salvation and our eternal destiny. But it doesn’t suggest that we should ignore the sin. There’s a reason for 1 John 1:9. The ball IS in your court—and mine. If nothing else, this concept makes me more aware of God’s mercy. The burden of sin is great, but God’s mercy is greater. If I were to apply 1 John 1:9 to every sin I commit, I would spend a good chunk of my day confessing sin. Not a pleasant scenario. I think that every night when I go to bed, I need to confess that I’m a sinner and seek forgiveness. I think God is able to accept a package deal like that. And I need to latch on to Rom. 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” How marvelous His mercy!

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The Book or the Author

VFriday, Oct. 24

The Bible is totally true. Knowing the Bible is good, but that won’t save you. Believing the Bible is good, but it won’t save you. Trying to live up to the truths of the Bible won’t save you. Isaiah 4:6 says that “all our righteous acts are as filthy rags.” Even if you understand the core truths and accept them as truths, it is not enough. The Mosaic Law as documented in the Bible is God’s standard of conduct. The Jews thought they could gain salvation by meeting this standard, but could not. Rom. 3:20 says “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” The conversion experience is more than mere knowledge. Nikita Khrushchev learned the Bible from childhood, and, in fact, memorized the whole New Testament. [For my younger readers, you might not know that this Russian dictator was the one who said after their Sputnik went into orbit, “Our cosmonauts did not see God up there.”] I’m not his judge, but his asinine statement does not characterize him as religious or Christian, or even logical. Knowledge of the truth is necessary, but as Khrushchev illustrates, definitely not sufficient. The Bible is God’s revelation. It includes every truth that pertains to salvation but it doesn’t save you. It’s the message of salvation, not salvation itself. The Bible is inspired and it should be held in deepest respect. It’s not called the Holy Bible for no reason. But the Bible will never save anyone; only the author of the Bible can do that.

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