Thank You, Judge

by Dr. Mike Zachary

 

Dear Judge Goldsmith:

As a United States citizen, I have been closely following the 2016 presidential election. I was interested to read a news headline that your opinion in Stein vs. Thomas had effectively halted the recount in Michigan.

Wanting to read the source material myself, I was able to find your opinion online. After reading it, I felt compelled to write you to express my thanks. I am not writing because I agree with your decision, though I happen to do so.

I am writing to thank you for the elegance of your logic and the clarity of your prose. I am not a legal specialist in any sense. But by reading your opinion, I was able to read past the obligatory legal citation style and understand with clarity the reasoning behind your opinion.

Because you took the time to write this decision well, as I am sure is customary for a judge of your distinction, I felt comforted as a citizen. In a time when we sometimes get the feeling that too many things are politicized, I was able to understand the rule of law in the case. For that, I am grateful, and I wanted you to know.

Respectfully,

 

Mike Zachary

Advertisements

Disappointment

by Dr. Mike Zachary

We live in a world that is filled with the manifold blessings of God, but because the consequences of sin, we also live in a world where we sometimes encounter disappointment.

Disappointment comes in all sizes. We can experience a minor disappointment when the grocery store is out of our favorite flavor of ice cream, or we can experience a major disappointment when our trust is broken by someone we love.

When we encounter disappointment, there is good news. David beautifully wrote, “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). And the writer of Hebrews reminded us that “We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

What all this means is that God understands how we feel when we encounter disappointments. When we are disappointed, the devil tempts us to believe that we are alone and no one understands our feelings. But the truth of the Word of God is that we are not alone, and Someone really does understand the our feelings.

Further, it is wonderful to realize that our Lord Jesus Christ will never disappoint us. We do well to remember the words of C. W. Waggoner:

I have found no satisfaction in the fleeting joys of earth.

I have hewed me broken cisterns that have mocked me by their dearth.

All the springs my soul have tested failed to meet my deepest need.

Christ, alone, has met my longing. He has satisfied indeed!

Christ is not a disappointment! Every longing in my breast

Finds, in Him, complete fulfillment. He has brought me into rest.

I have tested Him and proved Him more than all I dreamed He’d be.

Christ is not a disappointment. He is all in all to me!
As God’s children, it is a great blessing to know that we can bring our disappointments to Jesus!

Exhort

Exhort.

The word exhort is a rather difficult word. When you try to pin down its precise meaning, it gets a bit tricky.

In the Oxford English Dictionary, the word can mean ‘to admonish earnestly’ or ‘to recommend earnestly.’ Overall, it seems like it is a very strong word that has some “push” to it.

Remembering that the New Testament was written in the Greek language, it is interesting to think of the parakaleo, which is the Greek word for exhort. In the Greek language, the word can also be used to mean ‘to beg.’ For example, when the Bible says, “There came unto him a centurion, beseeching him” (Matthew 8:5b), the word beseeching is the Greek word parakaleo.

You can see the strength of the word. Sometimes, it means ‘to urge’; sometimes, it means ‘to beg.’ Thinking about this, you might wonder why such a strong word would be used in the Bible.

For example, in First Thessalonians 2:11, the Apostle Paul wrote,

As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children.

Why would the Bible use such a strong word? Why wouldn’t the Bible say something like, “You know how we have our ideas, and maybe our ideas are not any better than your ideas, and maybe your ideas are not any better than our ideas?” Why is the Bible so direct, so forceful?

Though I do not believe Christians should be unkind to each other, I do believe that the teachings of the Word of God are powerful. The teaching of the Bible is not merely some man’s opinion; it is the very Word of God.

When the Bible speaks, it speaks with power; and people are urged to follow God’s way. God’s way is not just one of many equally good paths. God’s way is the only way. God’s thoughts are thoughts of very truth. God’s words are our final authority.

The Bible gives examples of men who exhorted, not just of men who suggested. I think we would all do well to consider the importance of pure words of God, words of love, words of life. I exhort you, I urge you to follow God’s way.

by Dr. Mike Zachary

The Lord’s Mercies

In speaking of the Lord’s mercies, the Prophet Jeremiah had this to say, “They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:23).

Using this text as a springboard, the songwriter Thomas Chisolm penned these lines:

Great is thy faithfulness!

Great is thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see.

Of course, one of the great themes in all of this is the faithfulness of our Lord; and for that, every child of God can be eternally grateful.

But it is very interesting to notice that the Bible describes God’s mercies as “new every morning.” This has a tremendously important meaning. When we wake up each day, we can count on a fresh start.

Because of our humanity, no one can say, “I am without sin.” But because of God’s divinity, no one can say, “God is finished with me.” If you are still alive, there are new mercies for today!

God’s freshness in starting over is amazing. For the Christian, every day can be the beginning of a new era. Every day, there are fresh mercies.

Satan loves to discourage people, trying to make us believe that we can never be used again because of our past sins. Though the punishment of God is real and though God at times disciplines His children, the Christian can know that our past problems are met with fresh mercies. When the Devil tries to remind us of our failures, we can truthfully say, “Isn’t it wonderful that the Lord has chosen to love me in spite of all that! Isn’t it wonderful that God opens a new era for me each day by granting new mercies day by day.”

When we wrongly think that we are stuck, we must remember God’s fresh mercies. When we wrongly think that our only companion is hopelessness, we must remember that God has crafted a new era for us today!

God’s mercies—they are new every morning. They are new today. They are available for you at this very moment!

by Dr. Mike Zachary

Thoughts From Matthew

For Christian believers, the Gospel of Matthew is one of the four canonical Gospels that gives biographical and theological information about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, through Whom eternal salvation is available. Matthew’s Gospel not only tells the story of what happened in the lives of certain people during a certain time, it tells us the story of what is true of all people of all time.

  1. The Presentation of the Hero

In the first chapters of Matthew, Jesus is presented as the very son of God. His genealogy would have impressed the strictest and most orthodox Jew. The miracles surrounding His birth are designed to demonstrate His perfection.

  1. The Opposition to Jesus’s Forerunner

Jesus Himself would say of His forerunner John the Baptist that “among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11). But that did not prevent the religious rulers of Christ’s day from being suspicious of John and of subjecting his ministry to a high degree of scrutiny.

As early as the third chapter of Matthew, we begin to see a sharp division between truly good people like John the Baptist and Jesus and people who were merely apparently good like the religious leaders of the day (such people as the Sadducees, the Pharisees, etc.). We begin to sense the that people who could make a show of outward piety were actually governed by a strong sense of jealousy.

  1. The Distinction Magnified

In Matthew 5 – 7, the famous Sermon on the Mount is presented; and in that sermon, the Lord’s Prayer is presented. One of the powerful utterances of that prayer is the statement Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). It doesn’t take too much reflection to recognize that there is a sharp distinction between the way things are typically done (in earth) with the way things ought to be done (in heaven).

From the standpoint of people’s actions, Matthew presents the self-serving, jealous religious leads of his day as typical of what is “of earth,” and he presents the generous, helpful, healing Saviour as exemplifying what is “of heaven.”

  1. The Battle Rages

All through the book of Matthew—regardless of how many people Jesus heals, regardless of how many people Jesus helps—we see a constant attempt by the religious leads of the day to discredit Christ. Jesus was questioned about the smallest technicalities of Jewish Law, both laws that had been given by God in the Old Testament, and laws that had been added by religious leaders through the years.

Matthew 22:15 shows with great clarity the motives of the enemies of Christ. “Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.” With all the real work that needed to be done…feeding the poor, aiding the widows, helping those in distress…the guile and self-serving jealousy of the religious leaders led them to invest their time in seeing how they could entrap Jesus.

  1. Jesus Describes Bad People

As this battle between the religious leaders and Jesus reaches its climax, Jesus described the worst tendencies of bad people in Matthew 23.

  1. They do not practice what they preach (Matthew 23:3 – 4).
  2. They do good “for to be seen of men” (Matthew 23:5).
  3. They love prestige (Matthew 23:6 – 7).

Bad people make demands about what you do, but they excuse themselves from these very demands. Bad people do good when it has potential to make them look good, but they typically skip good deeds that may not be rewarded. Bad people love prominent seats and prominent titles. They rather enjoy it when people bow and scrape before them. Their ultimate motive is for people to brag on them and to make pronouncements about how wonderful they are.

Bad people can be among the laziest people in the world—except when they have an ax to grind. When they are trying to put someone down, they will go to great lengths to demonstrate someone else’s imperfections, thereby making themselves look good.

  1. Evil Wins?

After doing all they could to suppress the ministry of Jesus Christ, the religious leaders of the day finally succeeded in crucifying Him. With great cruelty, they allowed Jesus to suffer one of the most painful deaths known to man.

From a medical point of view, you might be interested in the article by Thompson and Harrub about the physical suffering of Christ during His Crucifixion.

https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=145

  1. God Wins

The Resurrection of Christ was something that His enemies could never have conceived. The limitations of their viewpoints made it impossible for them to imagine how anyone could succeed after they had successfully destroyed him. The Resurrection of Jesus in Matthew, among other things, demonstrates that, in the long run, goodness and truth win out over evil…even when it seems completely and utterly impossible.

  1. The Theme of Forgiveness

In Matthew, Jesus is presented as completely perfect, yet with the understanding that no one except Jesus is completely perfect. The rest of us—the imperfect ones—would certainly need to practice forgiveness just as Jesus did when He said, “Father forgive them; for they now not what they do.”

Many times throughout Matthew’s Gospel, the theme of forgiveness is prominent. For example, in the Lord’s Prayer, we are instructed to ask for God’s forgiveness to the degree that we forgive others (Matthew 6:12).

I am reminded of the adage “bitterness destroys its own container” as I contemplate the vital importance of the idea of forgiveness.

  1. The Theme of Fellowship

Matthew acknowledges human weakness. He acknowledges that every person needs help from outside himself in order to make it in this world where there is constant tension between truth and error, between good people and self-centered people. Matthew presents Christ’s words with artistry:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28 – 30

by Dr. Mike Zachary

The Power of His Resurrection

Philippians 3:10 records one of the Apostle Paul’s most well-known and beloved quotations:

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.

On Easter Sunday, we celebrate the single most powerful event in all of human history, the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It staggers the imagination to realize that Jesus Christ was so powerful that death had absolutely no power over Him. As mortal humans, we think of death as the absolute end of a person’s life here on the earth. But when Jesus died, He was able to treat death as though it were nothing. Though He was dead, He proved that He could rise from the dead.

In Philippians 3:10, Paul said that he wanted to know the “power of his resurrection.” Of course, because Jesus was God in the flesh, none of us can ever be all the He was. But Paul correctly longed to live a Christian life that had power. He wanted to be able to win spiritual battles, not lose them. And he knew if he won anything in his spiritual life, he would only be able to win through the power of the resurrection.

Most every human on earth views death as a problem, but Jesus had the power to conquer that problem. And our only hope for conquering any other problem we have is to rely on the power of the risen Christ.

Some people struggle terribly with controlling their words. They feel compelled to “speak their mind” constantly, always telling their point of view. But when we access the power of the risen Christ, the Lord can give us the grace to control what we say and how we say it. Some people struggle with serious addictions, yet many people have been freed from the chains of addiction only when they were able to personally connect with the power of Christ. Whether it is a seemingly “little” thing like saying the wrong thing or an apparently “big” thing like a serious addiction, we can find victory when we find the power of Christ.

During this Easter season, I pray that you will take time to reflect on the true meaning of our risen Lord. When we begin to grasp the power of His resurrection, we can begin to understand the fullness of joy that Christ intended for us to have.

by Dr. Mike Zachary