Are You Listening? #278

1  Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. 2  For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 3  how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4  God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will? (Hebrews 2:1-4)

Having already stated that God has spoken to us by His Son in Hebrews 1:2, our inspired author now returns to his point in chapter 2:1. We must not neglect what God says to us by His Son! The word He speaks to us by His Son Jesus Christ is so certain that no one who refuses His word will escape a just judgment. His apostles continued to speak what the Lord Jesus began to speak. Their word is validated by the miracles that attended their preaching of the gospel (Mark 16:15-20). In other words, what they said is true. Are you listening to God? You are if you are reading, learning and living the apostles’ words. That is what the first Christians did (see Acts 2:42)! The apostle Paul said, “the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37). God is speaking to you today through the writings of the apostles. Are you listening?

How God Speaks To Us #277

1  God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2  has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds… (Hebrews 1:1-2)

Many people believe God has spoken directly to them, giving them some personal message of warning or assurance. Some claim God sends them an experience that comforts them. Others, that an angel appears to them. Still others, that Jesus spoke directly “to their heart” — and on it goes. These claims do not harmonize with the Scriptures. There is only one verifiable, reliable, objective way God speaks to all of us today: by His Son Jesus Christ. Christ speaks to us all by the gospel message He sent His apostles into the world to preach (Matthew 28:18-20; Hebrews 2:1-4).Jesus said, “He who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (Jno. 13:20). To know what God expects of you, you must spend time reading the Scriptures. There is no new revelation today. God is not going to say something to me but not to you. God speaks to us all in the same way. Listen to what Jesus is saying to you today by spending time with His New Testament. Then your faith will be in Him and not in the emotions, distractions and distortions of men.

The Beginning of Wisdom #276

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)

To fear God means to have reverential respect for Him. If you fear God you dread displeasing Him. He is high and holy, and you tremble before Him (Psalm 111:9; Jer. 5:22). Until one fears God he cannot possess true wisdom. He may be “street smart”, but failure to fear God leaves him foolishly in sin. (Read the striking contrast between worldly wisdom and heavenly wisdom in James 3:13-18). Do you want to be wise and understanding? Start by respecting God and holding Him in honor. Listen to His word and follow His will. You will not gain wisdom by choosing to sin; you will only increase sorrow and death. Instead, choose to be wise: “fear God and keep His commandments” (Eccl. 12:13).

Salt of the Earth #275

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. (Matthew 5:13)

You Christian, must be an influence of righteousness in a world of sin and death. Your words and actions must stimulate those around you to greater, better things for God. That is why you must guard yourself from sin, for it will destroy your good influence. As contaminated salt loses its usefulness for flavoring food and so was cast onto the foot trails (lest it destroy fertile soil), the Christian who loses his godly influence becomes ineffective, even destructive, to the cause of Christ. Protect your influence as you follow Christ, and season the world with goodness and holiness.

Bear One Another’s Burdens #274

1  Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3  For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (Galatians 6:1-3)

Spiritually mature disciples of Jesus help other Christians who are overtaken by sin. Restoration of the soul and life in needed, and the stronger Christian gently helps rescue the fallen loved one in Christ. Through the patient and prayerful work of exhorting, rebuking and correcting (using God’s word), the fallen one can be turned back “from the error of his way” and saved from spiritual death (James 5:19-20; Acts 8:22-24). The “spiritual” one knows he can also be tempted, too, and so he considers himself while helping his fellow. Christ expects us to be mature and help others when they are overtaken in sin. This is how we “bear one another’s burdens” and “fulfill the law of Christ.” Is there someone in your life who needs restoring from sin? Reach out and help them today.

Bear Your Own Load #273

4  But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5  For each one shall bear his own load. (Galatians 6:4-5)

There are spiritual responsibilities each person has which no one else can carry. Parents have a “load” or burden of responsibility for which they alone answer. The husband and wife each have a “load” they willingly agree to carry in marriage. And, so it goes with every duty of life. We are advised by the Holy Spirit to examine ourselves rather than critically and unjustly judge others. Each of us will answer to the Lord, and so each of us must take our obligations seriously and fulfill them to the best of our ability.

Go Reconcile #272

23  Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24  leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)

The ability to reconcile a problem begins with admitting your part in contributing to the problem. Take responsibility and work to correct the matter. That is what Jesus teaches here. Your “brother has something against you” – you have done something that caused a dispute. Accept your responsibility for the hostility between yourself and your brother (or parent, sibling, neighbor, etc.). Take the initiative to reconcile. If you are unwilling to correct your own faults with another, then God will not accept your worship. We cannot mistreat others and expect God to accept our worship.

Reject Hypocrisy #271

1  Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2  But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 3  And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? (Romans 2:1-3)

An oft-repeated complaint against Christians is that they are hypocrites. Why is such a charge made? Perhaps it is a diversion from the truth of one’s own sins. Hypocrisy is pretending to be what you are not. Christians are not “without sin” – “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23). If a Christian condemns sin in another person while practicing the same or similar sins himself, that is hypocrisy, and he correctly stands condemned. But, when a Christian uses the Scriptures to identify sin, rebuke it and correct it, that is not hypocrisy. Do not let your past sins (for which you have been forgiven) keep you from helping others put away sin. If you are practicing sin, then repent now. Once you do, you can effectively help others overcome their sins in Christ.

Present Yourself to God #270

11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. (Romans 6:11-13)

The apostle makes it very clear that we have the power to decide not to let sin rule over us. The Christian is “alive to God in Christ” (v. 11). When a sinner is baptized into Christ Jesus and into His death, he is also “baptized into death” to sin (Rom. 6:3-4). Sin is put to death in Christ. The Christian is then commanded, “Do not let sin reign in your moral body” (v. 12). We accomplish this by presenting our bodies “as instruments of righteousness to God” (v. 13). Paul is not saying a Christian will never commit a sin. He is saying we choose to no longer allow sin to rule us. The person who freely presents himself to God practices righteousness instead of sin. We serve God, not sin.

On You I Wait #269

4  Show me Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. 5  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day. 6  Remember, O LORD, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, for they are from of old. (Psalm 25:4-6)

What does it mean to “wait” on the Lord? It does not mean sitting idly by “expecting a miracle” (as some TV prophets promise). It does not mean running ahead of God, presuming we know the path we should take (Jer. 10:23). Waiting on the Lord involves learning His ways and walking in His truth. He is the God who saves, so the faithful ones rely on Him. It involves endurance to patiently follow His truth, assured that God will accomplish His purposes in His time. God has shown Himself to be compassionate and merciful from days of old. Therefore, wait on Him. Learn His truth and walk in His paths each day. Do not forget God; He has not forgotten you.