Law and Love #441

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9  For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10  Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8–10)

Love and law are not antagonists, but friendly companions. Perhaps people tend to set love and law against each other because they perceive law as the embodiment of “you shall not”. But, the same law that said “you shall not” also said “you shall” (v. 9). Law contains the proactive obedience of love toward God and toward other human beings. Hence, “law is good if one uses it lawfully” (1 Tim. 1:8). And again, “the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good” (Rom. 7:12). Love fulfills all that law requires, not out of compulsion, but out of genuine honor for the Lawgiver (1 Jno. 5:3). We are under the moral obligation to “love one another” – a commandment (law) given to us by Jesus Christ (v. 8; Jno. 13:34-35). Do no harm to your neighbor, and so fulfill God’s law of love.

Refuge of the Aged #440

Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man. For You are my hope, O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth. (Psalm 71:4-5)

Evil, cruel people prey upon the aged. They are vulnerable, an easy target for the unscrupulous. Yet, even in old age there is refuge in the Lord. He protects and delivers those who put their trust in Him. Psalm 71 is the prayer of an aged man for God’s deliverance from ruthless predators (v. 1-4). He put his trust and hope in the Lord from his youth, enduring many trials of faith through which the Lord had delivered him (v. 5-6). Instead of becoming despondent as life drew to its end, he was more devoted to praising God and declaring the Lord’s power to the next generation (v. 7, 17-18, 22). This aged saint also told others of God’s salvation and righteousness (v. 14-15, 24). Follow his example and be a beacon of light in your old age. Imitate his faith and exclaim, “O God, do not be far from me; O my God, make haste to help me!” because “You are my rock and my fortress” (v. 12, 3).

Faithful are the wounds of a friend #439

5  Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. 6  Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (Proverbs 27:5-6)

An open rebuke, designed to warn us of our error and sin, is preferred over professed love that remains silent when it sees us in danger. We are led to believe that true love will not reprimand another person, yet genuine love will not withhold wise rebuke. Being rebuked may hurt for a moment, but a true friend knows its temporary pain can produce a good outcome. So, when a friend rebukes your sin do not become angry, be thankful for their love. That is the friend who truly loves you. Feigned love remains silent and acts out of self-interest. True love knows what sin does to its friend, and so brings a rebuke intended to save the soul (read James 5:19-20). To pretend to love while refusing to rebuke sin is the action of an enemy, not a friend.

The World Hates You #438

18  If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19  If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:18-19)

It is neither easy nor pleasant to be hated for following Jesus. The Son of God “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil”, yet He was hated and crucified (Acts 10:38). In today’s text, Jesus tells His apostles to expect the same sort of hatred from the world. Even now, when you follow Christ you will be hated by those who love sin rather than truth. Take heart and keep on being faithful to the Lord. “For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:17).

Instruct the Brethren #437

6  If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. 7  But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. (1 Timothy 4:6-7)

Just as food nourishes the body, the “words of faith” nourish the soul. Jesus has “the words of eternal life”, therefore, we must partake of His word to have eternal life (Jno. 6:68, 57-58, 63). The “good minister of Jesus Christ” carefully follows “the good doctrine” of Christ and teaches it to his brethren. (What is your preacher teaching you: Psychology, sociology or the gospel?) Godliness is produced by learning the word of God and by disciplining yourself by its precepts. Fully reject the irreverent, silly myths of men. False doctrine always deceives and leaves you spiritually deficient.

Why be Baptized? #436

3  Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4  Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3-4)

Water baptism is commanded of all who want to be saved from their sins by Jesus (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:37-38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21). Many have distorted the Biblical purposes of baptism, but the Scriptures continue to teach us the truth. Sinners are  baptized into three things according to this passage. First, one is baptized “into Christ Jesus” (v. 3). Baptism is an action of faith that brings one into a saved relationship with Christ. Clearly, one is outside of Christ until he is “baptized into Christ”. Second, one is baptized “into His death” (v. 3). The benefit of Christ’s death is obtained when one is baptized “into His death”. That is when Christ “washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Rev. 1:5). Third, one is baptized “into death” (v. 4). When baptized, sin’s death no longer claims the sinner. He or she is raised from the death of sin by the power of God to newness of life in Christ (Col. 2:12). These are among the reasons water baptism is essential for our salvation in Christ.

“My God, My God!” #435

45  Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. 46  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” (Matthew 27:45-46)

Betrayed, denied and rejected; On the cross all seemed to be lost. Now, in darkness and throes of death, Jesus endures the final hours of agony without immediate relief from the Father He loved and who loved Him. Only Jesus could be the sacrifice for our sins. He came to this moment for that very purpose. What magnificent resolve He had! “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name” (Jno. 12:27-28). Although there was no immediate relief, yet “when He cried to Him, He heard” (Psa. 22:1, 24). Dear Christian, when you must face life’s trials and sorrows, take heart. The Father is not far away. There is divine purpose to suffering and by faith we endure (1 Pet. 1:6-9). Pass through your moment of pain knowing that when you cry to the Lord, He hears you, too (1 Jno. 5:14-15).

Light in the Lord #434

8  For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9  (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10  finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12  For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13  But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. (Ephesians 5:8-13)

Christians are “light in the Lord”. We do not live in the shadowy recesses of sin and shame. This passages calls us to the following actions: 1) Walk as children of light. Goodness, righteousness and truth are “acceptable to the Lord” and is the fruit our life must bear. 2) Have no fellowship with sin. To practice, teach, endorse or otherwise approve of sin and those who practice it puts one in fellowship with sin. 3) Reprove the works of darkness (sin). That is, expose sin for what it is; shameful before God and those who love God. Do not approve it. Do not be entertained by it. Do not compromise with it. Stand up against sin and call the lost to repentance. You were once in sin’s darkness, too. Now, you are a child of light. Live like it every day.

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” #433

11  And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, 12  so that ‘SEEING THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND HEARING THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND; LEST THEY SHOULD TURN, AND THEIR SINS BE FORGIVEN THEM.’ ” 13  And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” (Mark 4:11-13)

The same parable would both reveal and conceal knowledge of the kingdom of God. The condition of the hearer’s heart determined whether or not the parables of Jesus were understood. A ready mind continues to be vital to understanding God’s word (Acts 17:11-12). Notice that Jesus expected His disciples to “understand this parable” of the sower. Knowing it unlocks all of His parables, since it explains the condition of the human heart (the soils) toward the word of God (the seed). You are in this parable; we all are. How do you react to the Scriptures, the word of God? Which soil are you? Read the parable and Jesus’ explanation to find out (Mark 4:3-9, 14-20).

Don’t be a Fool #432

He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered. (Proverbs 28:26)

April Fools’ Day is a time of practical jokes and light-hearted humor. But there is a deadly side to being spiritually foolish, and God’s word cautions those who consider their ways and seek wisdom. For example, the fool says there is no God (Psa. 14:1). The person who spreads slander is a fool (Prov. 10:18).  The person who trusts his own way instead of godly counsel from the Lord is a fool; such a person is hopeless (Prov. 12:15; 26:12). The fool does not control his wrath (Prov. 12:16). These are just some of God’s warnings against being a fool. “Hear instruction and be wise, and do not disdain it” (Prov. 8:33).