Pastor's Meditations

“It is not fair!”

                                                                            

                This is the cry of most (if not all) children every time they perceive that they are victims of some form of injustice. In some cases this might be the truth, because some families play the awful game of “favorites” with some of the children.

                Teenagers and adults also complain about injustice and unfairness on a daily basis. It is not fair to have to do so much homework; it is not fair to be passed by for a promotion; it is not fair to lose a job and it is not fair to lose a family member.

                Christians can also be tempted to use this expression, especially when they see how sinners and evildoers prosper and are not judged by God. As a follower of Christ it is hard for me to accept the fact that I must endure trials and persecutions, while pagans and perverts dance their way through life with seemingly no repercussion.

                “It is not fair.” This is more or less what the Psalmist Asaph said in Psalm 73

                “But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled… For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked…For there are no pangs in their death, but their strength is firm.  They are not in trouble as other men…Therefore pride serves as their necklace… Their eyes bulge with abundance; they have more than heart could wish… They speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens… Behold, these are the ungodly, who are always at ease; they increase in riches.” (vv. 2-9, 12)

                Asaph was, and almost every believer in this situation would be discouraged.

                  “Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, And washed my hands in innocence. For all day long I have been plagued, And chastened every morning.” (vv. 13, 14)

               In God’s presence all questions and complaints will cease. Instead of murmuring like the children of Israel in the wilderness with or without reason, let us come into the presence of the Almighty in sublime adoration.

               “Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors.”

               The wicked will be punished for eternity. Their sin and ultimate rejection of Jesus Christ will lead them down to hell. This will be a righteous and FAIR punishment. This is what they deserve. Christians, on the other hand, have not been and will not be treated fairly and thank God for that!

               Fair is an eternity in the lake of fire and unfair is for everyone to make it to heaven, whether they repented and believed in Jesus or not. God has not been fair (or unfair) with us; He has dealt with us with grace.

               Next time you are tempted to complain and to say that God is not fair, don’t do it except to say that He saved you by grace, which is neither fair nor unfair…it is divine.

               A. G

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“Makrothumia”

                  A little fuse can control enormous machineries and complicated circuits. A blown fuse can leave a house in the dark and in the case of high voltage fuses, an entire neighborhood or city without electricity. Fuses also regulate engines in all kinds of vehicles, including airplanes, rockets, cars and everything else that has electric or electronic circuits.

                A little (blown) fuse was responsible for “grounding” my lawnmower this past weekend. I charged the battery for two days straight and the mower showed no signs of life. I even bought a new battery and…you guessed it, nothing. Then, my brilliant son (don’t tell him I said that!) suggested that I check and replace the fuse and voila! The tractor came back from the dead.

                There are many different kinds, sizes and shapes of fuses, but none of them work on a human being except for one: The Makrothumia fuse. “Makrothumia” is Greek word that it is often translated in the Bible by the English word “longsuffering.”

                Regular fuses are described as “sacrificial devices” by the technological community, because they protect the engine or circuit from being damaged. In the same way the Makrothumia “fuse” allow believers to protect their Christian testimony as we endure many trials and attacks without “blowing up” in anger, especially in front of unbelievers.

                Our God is a “Makrothumia” God (1 Timothy 1:16; 2 Peter 3:15). Psalm 86:15 declares:  

                But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.”    

                Numbers 14:18 also affirms that,                                                                                                                                        

                “The Lord is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression”

                We all need a little Makrothumia (or in my case, a lot of it). We all need to have a “long fuse” to be patient and forbearing with everyone, especially with those in the family of God. In James 1:19 we are exhorted to be patient:

                “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”

                 A. G.

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“Guest Preacher”

                                                    

                A guest preacher was coming to preach at the church. Everyone was excited and couldn’t wait for the day to arrive. They had heard many great things about this preacher. They couldn’t believe that this renowned evangelist was going to preach in their small country church. Oh, what a glorious time it was!

                The day came and the preacher arrived and they soon realized that the tales were not entirely true: He was even better than they had dreamed! He preached the Word of God with such passion and enthusiasm that all the members of the congregation were enthralled and overjoyed. He was a true preacher of the Gospel and every word he said was biblically and theologically correct.

                There are many guest preachers in our churches on any given Sunday. Some come to preach during Crusades, Revivals and Homecoming meetings, others relieve the pastors when they go on vacation, while others (like me) become a more permanent “guest” preacher covering the pulpit while the church calls a new pastor.

                I was reminded of this fact as I examined a check I received for my services. On the Memo line it read: “Guest Preacher” (one time it had a totally different message!). This led me to think that I am only a guest in this church, which in turn also reminded me that I am a guest on this planet.

                As a Christian, I am no longer a citizen of this world, but of heaven (Philippians 3:20). In Hebrews 13:14 we read that,

                 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.”

                This world is not our home. Jesus said this repeatedly. In John 17:16 for example, He said, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” We are just guests here for awhile---guests with a mission: To go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20).

                As guests of Jesus in this planet, we must take good care and appreciate the created world (plants, mountains, rivers, etc.) and we must love the people of the world, but we must despise the world order with all its humanistic and satanic philosophies. John told us:

                 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)

                Brother and sister do not get too comfortable in this world. Remember that it is not your home and that you are only a guest here. Enjoy your time in this side of heaven, keeping in mind that your real home is waiting for you.

               A. G

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“Just Messengers”

                                                        

                You have probably heard this saying in more than one occasion. This expression is often spoken by those wishing to be absolved of any direct responsibility for the content of the words that flow out of their mouths:

                “Don’t shoot me! I’m just the messenger!”

                This expression could be taken in a few different ways. Perhaps the person is really the messenger and he or she has nothing at stake in the conversation. On the other hand, these words could very well be a “wall” behind which the “messenger” attempts to hide his true evil intentions. There also could be a few cases when the actual messenger takes pleasure in bringing sad news to someone.

                I have been on both sides of this equation recently. A messenger gave me really bad news a few days ago and I deliver weekly messages from God’s Word to our congregation. This is the highlight of my week and one of the greatest joys of my life.

                I must remind myself constantly that I am just the messenger. God’s Word is the message and the Holy Spirit is truly the divine Speaker. He imparts his message using weak and imperfect messengers like me to fill our hearts with hope, peace, love, power and joy.

                In a sense, all Christians are just messengers of the Almighty. We have been called to proclaim the Good News to all the world (Acts 1:8). In another part of Scripture we are even called “ambassadors” for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).

                We are not responsible for the content of the message or for the results of our endeavors. Our responsibility is to deliver that which God has told us to say. We cannot take credit when peoples’ hearts are touched by the Word, nor can we take responsibility when someone gets offended by the faithful rebuke of the truth.

                We are just messengers.

                It is important then, for us to be clean vessels where God can pour his Word. Our message is a divine treasure that must be handled with care and reverence. A holy and sincere messenger is used by God to change this world, but no one is saved by the words of hypocrites and false prophets.

                We are not just messengers for we serve the God of glory, but in another sense we are called to be just (righteous) messengers of God like Noah, Enoch and John the Baptist among many others. I pray that God will help us to be just messengers in an unjust world.

                A. G.

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“It is Better to Receive”

                 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”                (Acts 20:35)

                These words of Jesus spoken through the apostle Paul are faithful and true. This is God’s message to a wicked, selfish and evil world. There are more blessings for the givers than for those who receive.

                Our God is a giver and the more He gives the more glory He receives. The same is true for us when we follow his example in giving. The more we give with gladness and without expectations, the more blessings we receive. The giver becomes a Receiver and the Receiver keeps on giving.

                On the other hand, it is much better to receive than to give. When it comes to blessing, honors and praises we must always strive to be on the giving side, but in regards to suffering and offenses we must join the ranks of the receivers.

                I do not enjoy or pray for suffering, but I rather suffer than to make others suffer because of my sinful words or actions. I despise to be disrespected or offended by anyone, but I never want to be the offending party.

                In the Corinthian church there were many divisions and conflicts among brothers and sisters in Christ. Some of those conflicts were so big that Christians were suing other believers and taking them to court (1 Corinthians 6:1-5). Appalled by this unchristian and unbiblical behavior, the apostle Paul told them:

                Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?” (1 Corinthians 6:7)

                The apostle Peter, whose violent temper had led him into trouble in the past and who once cut Malchus’ ear in an attempt to defend Jesus, spoke these words:

                “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;  not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9)

                There are blessings for the Receivers of insults, offenses and sufferings. There is joy amid the trials (James 1:2, 3) for those that suffer in Christ, and there is victory for those that relinquish their “right” to avenge themselves (Romans 12:17-21). Finally there is a great glory for the Receivers:

                “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression.(Proverbs 19:11)

                A. G.

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