10 But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. 11 Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, “Where is He?” 12 And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, “He is good”; others said, “No, on the contrary, He deceives the people.” 13 However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews (John 7:10–13, NKJV).
Jesus went to Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles privately, without the fanfare his unbelieving brothers advocated (John 7:2-5, 10). He entered the temple and taught during the feast, challenging the people to judge righteously about Him and His work (John 7:14-24). Disagreement over Jesus permeated the city. The Jewish leaders (“the Jews”) looked for Jesus to seize Him (John 7:32, 45). Meanwhile, the general public debated His goodness quietly out of fear of offending their religious leaders (John 7:13). To this day, some say Jesus was a good moral teacher, but not the Son of God. Others say He was a deceiver, a con artist. Some say Jesus was a prophet but not deity. Jesus claimed to be sent from God, teaching God’s will (John 7:17). When one desires to obey God, they will know He and His teaching are from God (John 7:17; 10:37-38). We do not follow Jesus because of who others say He is, but because His words and works declare Him to be the Christ, the Son of the living God (John 7:25-31; 4:41-42; 5:36-39; Matt. 16:16-17).
9 I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations. 10 For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, and Your truth unto the clouds. 11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth (Psalm 57:9–11, NKJV).
Doubt over what may happen in the future debilitates us. Dread over potential crises hinders clear thinking and decisive decision-making. Anxiety and fear harm one’s faith in God (Phil. 4:4-7). David’s life was being threatened by King Saul when he wrote Psalm 57 and hid in a cave from his would-be assassin (1 Sam. 22:1). Yet, David did not trust in himself or doubt the Lord. “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by” (Ps. 57:1). God’s mercy is higher than the heavens, and His truth touches the clouds, even as His glory fills the earth (Ps. 57:11-12). Instead of doubt, dread, anxiety, and fear, David trusted God’s mercy, justice, and power in times of trouble. For instance, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise” (Ps. 57:7). Even so, evil lurks nearby and pursues our souls (1 Pet. 5:8). God is merciful to forgive our transgressions as His truth guides our path and executes justice (1 John 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 4:17-19). Let us repent of doubt, dread, anxiety, and fear and replace them with faith in God’s mercy, praise for His steadfastness, and reliance on His truth to vindicate the righteous (2 Thess. 1:3-8).
13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. 14 And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel. 15 Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal (Joshua 10:13–15, NKJV).
I am writing this on the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, the summer solstice. This natural event reminds us of a day that was not natural but miraculous when the sun stood still. That day of battle between Israel and the Amorites dramatically displayed the presence, power, and purpose of Jehovah. God fought for Israel that day against five kings and “routed them before Israel” (Josh. 10:10). The Lord also “cast down large hailstones from heaven” against the enemies of His people (Josh. 10:11). As Israel fought, God assured the victory. We look to God for the “power of His might” to overwhelm the strength of Satan, sin, and death (Eph. 6:10; 1 John 3:8; 1 Cor. 15:56-57). He will “never leave you nor forsake you” in your trials and spiritual conflicts against the enemies of righteousness (Heb. 13:5; Rom. 8:35-39). But we must fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12; Eph. 6:11-17). God, who controls the seasons also fights for His people. He does so, not by miraculously stopping the sun again, but by the daily brilliance of His love, providence, and truth. So, let us put our faith in Him and be victorious (1 John 5:4).
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:8–10, NKJV).
Does this passage teach sinners are saved by praying and asking Jesus to be their Savior? If so, it does it without mentioning prayer at all. Yet, this is exactly how some use it as they tell people to pray and ask Jesus to save them. The Bellingham Baptist Church (Bellingham, WA) has a teaching pamphlet that says, “Pray and ask Jesus Christ to be your Savior,” which then quotes Romans 10:9. But, to “confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus” is a profession of faith, not a prayer to God. For example, in Acts 8:36-37 when a lost soul asked what was keeping him from being baptized (to be saved, Mark 16:16). He was told by the preacher Philip, “If you believe with all your heart, you may,” to which he answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” When this believer confessed his faith, he was ready to be baptized and saved by Christ according to Christ’s word (Acts 8:38; Mark 16:15-16). Belief and confession that Jesus is the Son of God are unto (in the direction of) salvation. The believer who confesses faith will repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:37-38). The word of faith the apostles preached says to believe in the resurrection of Jesus, confess Him as Lord, repent before God, and be baptized to be saved (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 2:38). Reread today’s passage; Prayer is conspicuously absent. We must be careful not to add to God’s word.
11 So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. 12 And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:11–12, NKJV)
The teachings of Jesus Christ do not conform to the preferences and practices of men and women. His teaching on the permanency of marriage is one such doctrine that often conflicts with human will and wisdom. When the Pharisees questioned Him about the lawfulness of ending a marriage, Jesus went to the beginning when God instituted marriage and concluded, “what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:6-9). When His disciples asked Him about this matter privately, Jesus explained the result of separating what God joins together and marrying another person, namely, adultery. Jesus allows one exception in Matthew 19:9 (the cause of fornication), allowing the remarriage of the one who ends their marriage because of their spouse’s sexual infidelity. Instead of thinking Christ’s teaching is too harsh, we should trust His will on marriage and divorce is correct and honor marriage as a lifelong commitment (Matt. 19:10-12). Marriage is a solemn covenant made to each other before God (Mal. 2:14). God “hates divorce” and does not hold guiltless those who separate what He joins together (Mal. 2:16; Matt. 19:6; 1 Cor. 7:10-11). So, enter marriage with respect for its permanency and for God who gave it to us and regulates it for our spiritual protection and blessing.
34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:34–35, NKJV)
Multitudes crowded around Jesus to be healed and to hear Him teach (Matt. 12:15; Mark 2:13; 3:7-9; 5:24). Undoubtedly many were caught up in the excitement of the moment. With compassion, Jesus taught, healed, and blessed the crowds (Mark 6:33-34; 8:1-9). Today’s passage teaches us what the Lord requires when we want to come to Him (Matt. 11:28). (1) Self-denial. We must tell ourselves “no” when we desire to go to Jesus. To follow Jesus, we must put away sin, not continue to live in it (Rom. 6:1-2; Gal. 2:20). We must love Jesus more than everyone else, including ourselves (Luke 14:26). (2) Take up our cross. The cross is a symbol of pain, shame, and suffering. To follow Jesus, we must accept the suffering that comes with being His disciple (John 15:18; 1 Pet. 4:12-13). (3) Follow Jesus. We do this by following His teachings. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (John 8:31). Following Jesus is a lifelong commitment, not a momentary exuberance that fades as emotions subside. Jesus said, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). Let us count the cost and pay the price of coming to Jesus and being His disciples (Luke 14:28-32). “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:33).
10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him. 11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart (Psalm 32:10–11, NKJV)!
David concealed his sins from others but could not hide them from God (Ps. 32:3; 2 Sam. 11-12). His futile effort caused distress to the depth of his soul (Ps. 32:3-4). Only when he acknowledged his sin to God did he find relief when God concealed (forgave) his transgression (Ps. 32:5, 1-2; 2 Sam. 12:13). Even now, sorrow attends the wicked, but God’s mercy surrounds those who trust in the Lord (Ps. 32:10). Jesus will give you rest from sin’s burden when you come to Him (Matt. 11:28). Forgiveness in Christ is available, and God wants to save you (Acts 10:34-35; 1 Tim. 2:3-4). When God forgives us, sorry is turned to gladness (Ps. 32:11). Our faith is accounted for righteousness when we (like David) act in faith, repent before God, and obey the gospel from the heart (Rom. 4:5-8; 6:17-18). Come to the Lord in faith and follow His gospel to be saved from your sins (Acts 2:37-41). Christians are privileged and eager to praise God daily with joy and gladness for His merciful grace in Jesus Christ. Trust in the Lord, and His mercy will envelop you. Freed from the burden and death of sin, you may “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4)!
11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence (1 Timothy 2:11-12, NKJV).
Different roles do not imply superiority and inferiority to God or His people. Although the world measures greatness by power and position, Jesus said, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant” (Mark 10:42-43, NKJV). God has given men a leadership role. In the church, this takes the form of men teaching publicly, not women. Instead of seizing the position of dominance, the godly woman is quiet and still in such settings. The Holy Spirit gives two reasons for this arrangement: (1) The order of creation (1 Tim. 2:13) and (2) The deception in the garden (1 Tim. 2:14). The woman’s role as wife and mother is honorable, and when combined with faith, love, holiness, and self-control, equips her for godly service and greatness in the kingdom (1 Tim. 2:15). Instead of being a misogynist, the inspired apostle Paul taught men and women to learn and live their distinctive roles in the kingdom (1 Tim. 2:8-10). Since he wrote the commandments of the Lord, when we obey them, we serve one another and, ultimately, the Lord (1 Cor. 14:37; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3–4, NKJV).
We must keep our eyes open and our lives illuminated by the light of the gospel lest Satan (the “god of this age”) blind us with his deceptions, and we perish in sin and darkness. He has already blinded unbelievers with his lies. The devil is real and active in this world, seeking his prey (Job 1:7; 2:2; 1 Pet. 5:8). Man has long ago mythologized Satan, turning him into merely a personification of evil. Sufficiently fictionalized and caricatured, the devil is undoubtedly pleased with being discounted as the figment of human imagination. For example, the Satanic Temple, sees “Satan as a metaphor for fighting religious tyranny and oppression” (Tarkus Claypool, from “An After School Satan Club could be coming to your kid’s elementary school,” The Washington Post, 2016). (See “After School Satan Club” for more.) Satan (“adversary”) is opposed to God and man (Gen. 3:4-5; Job 1:6-12; Matt. 4:1-11; 1 Pet. 5:8). The devil (“accuser”) is a liar who deceives the whole world (John 8:44; Rev. 12:9). We can resist his enticements in faith (James 1:12-14; 1 Cor. 10:13; Heb. 4:14-16). Jesus Christ has destroyed the works of the devil (sin and death, 1 John 3:8; 1 Cor. 15:54-57). Christians overcome Satan in Christ by the blood of the Lamb, the word of God, and self-denial (Rev. 12:10-11). God crushes Satan under the feet of His faithful ones who walk in “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (Rom. 16:19-20; 2 Cor. 4:4).
14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled (Hebrews 12:14–15, NKJV).
Christians are under a divine directive to pursue peace and holiness. We must run after peace and holiness like an animal chasing its prey. Without these attributes of faith, we will not see the Lord. While rage, vengeance, and violence drive the faithless, we must consistently and carefully stand in God’s grace by removing and avoiding from our hearts every vestige of malice and bitterness. The slightest bit of resentment or anger poisons and defiles the soul. A root of bitterness in the heart infects others; it is not dormant. Holding a grudge when someone hurts us is not the way to pursue peace and holiness. It chips away at peaceful thoughts and interrupts holy words and conduct toward that person. Bitter attitudes and treatment of other disrupts peace and retards holiness as it becomes a stumbling block to others. Bitterness builds barriers that solidify hostility. As Solomon said, “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle” (Prov. 18:19). Do your part to remove every hindrance to peace and holiness in your home, your community, your nation, and most definitely with your brethren (Rom. 12:18; 1 Thess. 5:13).