Give No Offense #533

31  Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32  Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33  just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:31–11:1, NKJV)

Jesus did not live to please Himself, but the Father (Rom. 15:3; Jno. 8:29). He was always careful not to influence others into sin. Paul followed this example of Christ, and in our passage he exhorts Christians to imitate him. Paul would forego his God-given liberty so as not to influence someone else to violate his conscience before God (see 1 Cor. 10:23-33; 8:7-13). Paul also said, “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being” (1 Cor. 10:24). To do that, we must willingly lay aside our right to do something (clearly, he is speaking of things God allows but does not mandate) so as not to place an offense or stumbling block (a trap or snare) before someone whose conscience is weak in that matter. By thinking of others before yourself and refusing to cause them to stumble, you honor God, not yourself. That is what a Christian does.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made #532

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. (Psalm 139:14, NKJV)

Your brain contains about 100 billion nerve cells called neurons, ranging in size from 4-100 microns (micron = millionth part of a meter) – much smaller than the diameter of a human hair. “Neurons have the amazing ability to gather and transmit electrochemical signals — think of them like the gates and wires in a computer” (“How Your Brain Works”, Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D. and Robynne Boyd). We know a computer did not randomly come into existence. It is the result of intelligent design and creative power. It is even more outrageous to conclude that all life forms randomly came into existence from lifeless matter through billions of years of evolution. Still, evolutionists say was no Intelligent Designer of the human body. Our passage reminds us that our bodies display vivid evidence of the creative wisdom and power of God. We shall honor Him with deserved praise. Along with David we affirm what we know very well: We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

The Desire of the Lazy #531

25  The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. 26  He covets greedily all day long, but the righteous gives and does not spare. (Proverbs 21:25–26, NKJV)

The lazy person is not righteous. Laziness leads to unfulfilled desires culminating in death. Rather than labor to satisfy one’s daily needs, being lazy leads to the additional sins of covetousness and greed. Consumed by longing for that which he does not have (and will not work for), the lazy person remains unsatisfied. The righteous person, on the other hand, is industrious and supplies his needs. By diligent labor he has more than enough for himself. He shares with others instead of greedily hoarding his goods. Do not be lazy; it only leads to want, greedy desire and death. Instead, thank the Lord for the work you have to do. Do your work with gladness, serving the Lord and helping others (Col. 3:23).

Approved in Christ #530

Greet Apelles, approved in Christ. (Romans 16:10, NKJV)

Most of us have been tempted at one time or another to be held up as notable in the eyes of others. The approval of men is very important to so. However, the man to whom Paul sent greetings is noteworthy, not because men approved him, but because Christ did. Apelles was tried and true in Christ. Elsewhere Paul reminds us “not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends” (2 Cor. 10:18). Every day your faith will be put to the test, so be diligent “to present yourself approved to God” (2 Tim. 2:15). Although the Bible tells us nothing else about this Christian, his life teaches us to be in Christ and to remain true to Christ (Rom. 6:3-4). After all, in the end, the Lord’s approval is what really matters.

I have proclaimed the good news #529

I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness in the great assembly; Indeed, I do not restrain my lips, O Lord, You Yourself know. 10  I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great assembly.” (Psalm 40:9–10, NKJV)

There is a temptation to shrink into the background and be silent when people oppose the truth of the gospel. The sweet psalmist of Israel would not be quiet, even when “innumerable evils” surrounded him (v. 12). He would not keep his faith private – hidden away in his heart. Instead, David declared righteousness, God’s faithfulness and salvation, His steadfast love and His truth. He boldly proclaimed God’s good news and trusted the Lord to deliver him (v. 1-2, 13-17). David was eager to speak because God’s law was in his heart (v. 8). The great assembly of God’s people (not to mention the world itself) still needs to hear God’s gospel. It is His power to save. Never shrink back; always press forward, upward and onward in the cause of the gospel of our great God. Hold forth the good news of His salvation.

Are You Teachable? #528

He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, but he who refuses correction goes astray.”  (Proverbs 10:17, NKJV)

Have you ever consulted a map and discovered you were on the wrong road? Of, finding yourself lost, did you use the map (or, in this digital world, GPS navigation) to get back on the right road? If so, you were teachable, and found your way. We are all on life’s road. And, we can lose our way very easily. When that happens, are you teachable? You may not even know you are lost. But, are you willing to accept instruction from the word of God that others show you? Or, do you refuse the Bible and the corrections it teaches? We ought to be as willing to let God’s word show us the way to heaven as we are to let a map show us how to get to our destination. The person who is willing to be taught will find life more pleasant, more fulfilled. The unteachable person will be lost (now and forever), not because the way of life cannot be found and followed, but because he or she refuses correction.

Controversy #527

19  But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20  “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.” (Acts 5:19–20, NKJV)

Some Christians avoid religious controversy like the plague. While we are to live at peace with others (as much as it depends on us), that does not mean our lives will be without controversy. Faithful Christians do not need to go out looking for controversy; it will come to them. In today’s passage the Lord’s angel told Peter to go preach the gospel in the Jewish temple. That would be a very controversial but necessary move in order to save their souls. Divine truth must still be preached and lived (Mk. 16:15-16). When it is, expect the world’s opposition and the controversy that comes with it. Do not be afraid of men. Great controversy attended the life of Jesus and His apostles. We should expect no less when we follow Him (Jno. 15:18-19). Go and speak the words of life to everyone. How they choose to respond will be upon them, not you.

“Let Every Soul be Subject” #526

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. (Romans 13:1-3, NKJV)

Christians are not exempt from obeying the law of the land. We who respect the authority of Christ must, like everyone else, respect the “governing authorities” and obey the laws under which we live. The reason why is clear and plain: All authority comes from God. God has given authority to civil government. Therefore, we are to be subject to its laws. (There is one proviso: We must obey God when the laws of men contradict His word, Acts 5:29.) When a person refuses to obey the laws of the land he is refusing God’s ordinance and brings God’s judgment upon himself. He faces the punishment that comes with violating the law. Our incentive to be good citizens is first, because of our conscience toward God, and also to avoid punishment as a law-breaker (Rom. 13:4-5).

Independence Day #525

17  But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18  And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6:17–18, NKJV)

Independence Day. We are not talking about July 4, but an even greater day on which freedom is not only declared, but obtained. We are talking about the day the sinner is “set free from sin” and from sin’s death (v. 18, 23). It is very troubling that so many people cannot identify the Bible’s Independence Day from sin (the day of salvation). This passage helps. When these sinners “obeyed from the heart” the gospel of Christ (“that form of doctrine”) they were “set free from sin”. Their Independence Day occurred when they obeyed the teaching of the gospel. The gospel (“that form of doctrine”) commands the lost to believe the gospel, to repent of sins and to be baptized in order to be saved (read each of these gospel commandments, Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:38). Did you think you were freed from sin without obeying Jesus? If so, the call of the gospel is still being delivered to you. Obey the gospel of Jesus now to be freed from your sin.

Do Your Duty #524

15  What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16  Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Romans 6:15–16, NKJV)

Christians dare not take a light, careless view of sin. Being under grace does not mean we can “continue to sin that grace may abound” (Rom. 6:1). Unfortunately, not a few Christians appear to believe grace allows them to sin with escape from consequences and exemption from eternal punishment. It remains true that “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezek. 18:4). Since Christians have chosen to obey Christ, we present ourselves to Him and serve His will instead of serving sin. Since we are under grace, the result of obeying Christ is that one’s faith is accounted for righteousness (Rom. 4:4-5; Eph. 2:8-10). This passage condemns the Calvinistic doctrine that equates obedience with “works salvation”. Yes, salvation is by grace. But that is not a license to sin. It is our signal to obey Jesus! It is our duty is to trust and obey our Master (Luke 17:10). Do your duty.