Watch! #1295

“And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Mark 13:37, NKJV)

Spiritual watchfulness is a consistent theme of Bible. “Take heed” is used dozens of times (to beware, to look, to pay close attention, BDAG, 179), and “watch” is used dozens more. Jesus warned His disciples to “take heed” for the approach of divine judgment against Jerusalem, to avoid being deceived, and to be ready to flee (Mark 13:14-23; Matthew 23:3-5). To be watchful about spiritual things requires being alert; the watchman who sleeps is useless (Isaiah 56:10). Spiritual watchfulness requires soberness; the self-control that comes from clear-headed thinking. Worldly distractions are intoxicating, and destroy our ability to “watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6). Spiritual watchfulness must be coupled with prayer. “Take heed, watch and pray” is Christ’s exhortation to be prepared for judgment, and to avoid sin (Mark 13:33; Matthew 26:41). Spiritual watchfulness means always being ready: 1) For the Lord’s day of judgment (Matthew 24:42-44); 2) To resist the devil and escape sin (1 Peter 5:8; Luke 21:34-36); 3) To fulfill your God-given work (2 Timothy 4:5); and 4) To stand fast in the faith (1 Corinthians 16:13). We desperately need the Lord’s constant reminder to “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matthew 25:13). Here’s why: Only those who are ready will enter eternal life (Matthew 25:10).

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Don’t shoot the messenger! #1294

10 “Have you not even read this Scripture: ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. 11 This was the LORD’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” 12 And they sought to lay hands on Him, but feared the multitude, for they knew He had spoken the parable against them. So they left Him and went away. (Mark 12:10–12, NKJV)

Shooting the messenger because his message is unacceptable is nothing new. It blames the blameless, whether due to rage (as when Stephen was stoned for the gospel he preached, Acts 7:57-60), or, as in today’s passage, as an attempt to escape personal accountability. The chief priests and Pharisees perceived Jesus was talking about them, and they were correct (Matthew 21:45). They were ready to destroy Jesus. Only their fear of the crowd momentarily delayed their objective. Soon, they would persuade the multitude to cry, “Crucify Him!” How do you react when the word of God exposes your sin: With contempt? With resentment? With rage? Or, do you react with faith, humility and a repentant obedience? When people were told they had murdered the Son of God, some were pierced to the heart, repented and were baptized for the remission of their sins, while others killed the messenger (Stephen), and remained lost in their sins (Acts 2:37-41; 7:52-54). Don’t get angry at the messenger when he tells you the gospel truth (Galatians 4:16). Instead, believe it, repent, and obey the Lord. He will save you.

“The Great Day of His Wrath” #1293

15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:15–17, NKJV)

Jesus Christ is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). And, He is also the One whose wrath was poured out upon the persecutors of the early saints, to whom the book of Revelation gave assurance in the midst of tribulation (Revelation 1:1-3, 7). His day of judgment against wickedness is “the great day of His wrath.” Those who fight against God, His purposes and His people prefer the mountains and rocks to fall on them, to hide them from the fierceness of His wrath; yet, there is no relief; there is no escape. The great day of the Lord is coming, and when He returns, the material world will melt with fervent fire (2 Peter 3:10-14). Only those who are saved by the blood of the Lamb will stand in that day (John 5:26-29). When it comes, will it be your day of salvation, or your day of wrath? You decide. Obey the gospel, and be saved by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 5:6-12).

Devices of Satan #1292

10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 2:10–11, NKJV)

Satan has devices, and we must understand them. If we fail to do so, he will take advantage of us, and lead us into sin. The word “devices” speaks more to the thinking, plans and purposes of the devil, than to the methods or tactics he uses to accomplish those plans (concerning his methods, see Ephesians 6:11). One of his purposes is to undermine peace and unity among Christians. Here, Paul identifies this device of Satan as an unwillingness to forgive a fellow Christian who has repented of his sins. The devil’s purpose is served when Christians are unwilling to reaffirm their love for a fallen Christian who is restored to Christ (2 Corinthians 2:8). When a fallen Christian is disciplined by the church, and brought to repentance, the devil will attempt to use this wonderful blessing to execute his disruptive plan. He tempts Christians to harbor ill will, bitterness and doubt toward the sinner to such an extent that, instead of confirming our love for him, some take a “hands off,” “wait and see” attitude before forgiving him. Such an approach prevents genuine forgiveness. It is not how Christ forgave us (Ephesians 5:31-32). It is a device of Satan; it is sin. We know how he thinks. Do not let him take advantage of you. He seeks your destruction.

“I trust in You” #1291

1 To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me. 3 Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause. (Psalm 25:1–3, NKJV)

David praised God with his whole being. God, who breathed into man the breath of life, is the one to whom we (like David) now present our entire being, both to praise Him, and to devote ourselves to His purposes. Faith in God compels us to offer our lives to Him. We trust Him with our lives, as we give ourselves to serving His purposes. God assures us that our faith is the victory that overcomes the world and its enemies of righteousness (1 John 5:4). Although life brings trials, they are only temporary. We keep our hope set on the Lord, and wait on His justice (see 2 Thessalonians 1:3-8). The enemies of holiness will be confounded, and reduced to shame, for fighting against God and His people. But, those who live by faith will not be brought to shame, but to eternal glory.

“He taught them again” #1290

Then He arose from there and came to the region of Judea by the other side of the Jordan. And multitudes gathered to Him again, and as He was accustomed, He taught them again. (Mark 10:1, NKJV)

There is value in repetition. In elementary school, my classmates and I memorized and repeated the alphabet, the multiplication table, the U. S. states and their capitals, and many more such things. Good teachers do not teach something only one time. They teach, they review what has been taught, and they test their students on the lesson. Whenever the multitudes gathered around Jesus, His habit was to teach them “again.” He repeatedly taught His apostles of His approaching death and resurrection (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19; Mark 10:32-34; 9:31-32). We should not be yearning for some “new thing” when it comes to gospel teaching, because its message is the same today as it was in the first century. What we yearn for is to hear the same message again and again. Repeatedly teaching the truth of the gospel is for our spiritual safety (Philippians 3:1). By its repetition, we remain strengthened and resolute in the face of life’s trials and temptations (2 Peter 1:12-15). You may have heard the gospel over and over. But remember, someone is hearing it for the first time. May we never grow weary of hearing God’s word taught again, and again, and again.

Parental Pride, or Shame? #1289

“Whoever keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons shames his father.” (Proverbs 28:7, NKJV)

Parents want to be proud of their children. Christian fathers (and mothers) endeavor to bring up their children “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). The wise child knows the value of this parental training, and shows his discernment by keeping the law of God which he has been taught. Conversely, the son who chooses to share his life with those who indulge in riotous excess, shames his father. Sin always brings shame, not honor. That truth was on display in Eden, and continues to be so whenever we choose sin over the will of God (Genesis 3:7-10). Children who run headlong into sin not only shame themselves, but also their parents (and others who love them). “A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is the grief of his mother” (Proverbs 10:1). Teach your child to be wise in what is good, and to turn away from evil. Every child, thus taught, must choose to keep God’s will. Wisdom to do so begins with the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 9:10). Making this wise choice will bring joy to your father’s heart: “Whoever loves wisdom makes his father rejoice, but a companion of harlots wastes his wealth” (Proverbs 29:3). Unquestionably, your obedience to God honors your father and mother (Ephesians 6:1-2).