More Blessed #602

27  And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” 28  But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27–28, NKJV)

Mary was greatly honored to be the mother of the Christ, the Son of God: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Lk. 1:42). Still, Jesus said the greater blessing comes to the person who listens to the word of God (taught by Christ) and obeys it. This person who obeys the Lord is spiritually fortunate. Here, then, is a clear lesson on the necessity of obedient faith. Hearing God’s word but not keeping it brings no blessing from God. We dare not minimize the value Christ put on obeying the word of God. If you want the spiritual blessings of salvation, a relationship with God and the hope of eternal life, hear and obey the gospel of Jesus (see Jas. 1:22-25).

The End of All Things #601

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. (1 Peter 4:7, NKJV)

Peter and those to whom he wrote lived in the last period of history, i.e., the last days. We do, too. The last days were inaugurated by the death, resurrection, ascension and exaltation of Jesus Christ, and will continue until He returns (1 Pet. 1:20; Acts 2:16-17; 1 Cor. 10:11; Heb. 1:2). Our prayers should reflect our faith that this is so. We should pray prudently and seriously. Our prayers should be offered to God with vigilance, not carelessness. “The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (Jas. 5:16). Although we do not know when, we do know this world is coming to an end. Allow this great truth to compel you to live a holy and godly life (2 Pet. 3:11).

Do not become sluggish in faith #600

10  For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. 11  And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, 12  that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:10–12, NKJV)

Christians can falter in their faith (Heb. 6:4-8). These Hebrew Christians were becoming sluggish and lazy, apathetic toward their hope and their place of service in the kingdom of God. They needed to remember that God is just and that He would not forget their devoted labor and love “toward His name”. Continue to be diligent in your faith, for there is no “full assurance of hope” in neglecting the Lord’s will. Faith thrives when it endures to the end. That is the kind of faith that inherits the promises of God.

We Speak from the Heart #599

34  “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” (Matthew 12:34–35, NKJV)

Our heart is the source of our words, expressing what is in our heart. Jesus is quite emphatic that good words do not proceed from an evil heart. Conversely, a good heart does not speak evil things. We deceive ourselves if we think we can speak evil things and yet lay claim to having a good heart. So, we must “either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit” (Matt. 12:33). Be careful of the words you speak. They define who you are. Your heart is known by your words, and by them you either will be justified or condemned in the day of judgment (Matt. 12:36-37).

Parables #598

10  And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” 11  He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12  For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13  Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (Matthew 13:10–13, NKJV)

The purpose of teaching is to impart knowledge. Jesus used parables to make known the hidden things of the kingdom of heaven (v. 11). Like any other teaching and learning context, the attitude of heart of the hearer or student is crucial to whether the knowledge is received. While Jesus imparted knowledge to His disciples by parables, the hearts of others were hardened by the same teaching (Matt. 13:14-15). The same sun that hardens clay melts butter. Be careful what kind of heart you have as you hear the word of Christ. Have a heart that is receptive, ready to learn, understand and live the gospel of Christ.

Preach like Paul #597

25  And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. 26  Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27  For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:25–27, NKJV)

We learn many valuable lessons from Paul about what it means to be a gospel preacher. (Many of which do not conform to the modern concept of the preacher.) This passage teaches us what Paul preached, how he preached it and his moral responsibility before God. Is your preacher preaching “the kingdom of God” like Paul did? When Paul preached “the gospel of the grace of God” he did so by preaching the kingdom of God, the counsel of God and the church of God (vss. 24, 25, 27, 28). He preached a present kingdom, composed of those delivered from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s Son (Col. 1:13). When Paul preached he accepted its weight of moral responsibility. He would be guilty of the blood of sinners if he preached error or if he did not fully preach the gospel (cf. Ezek. 3:17-21). My preacher friend, never forget that your work points immortal souls toward eternity. Preaching is not about you; it is about the Lord, the lost and the Lord’s little ones. Boldly preach all of God’s word; hold back nothing that is needed for the lost to be saved and for the saved to be safe (vss. 28-32). This is your work as an evangelist. Do it well.

Contend with them #596

Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but such as keep the law contend with them. (Proverbs 28:4, NKJV)

We are witnessing many in our country forsaking the law for criminal activity. Many are showing caustic and even violent disrespect for the police and other law enforcement officers. They praise the wicked, and by their actions and consent, evil spreads. Law-abiding citizens must struggle against those who honor lawlessness; to do otherwise invites more mayhem. The same is true when God’s law is rejected and people “call evil good, and good evil” (Isa. 5:20). When the Scriptures are forsaken for the false hopes of the deceived, those who keep Christ’s law must “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). This struggle is not fought with the armaments of this world, but with the mighty weapon of truth, the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17; 2 Cor. 10:3-5). Be careful not to praise the wicked. Contend for the truth, never forsaking it.

Fallen from Grace #595

And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4  You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. (Galatians 5:3–4, NKJV)

What could be more dreaded than falling from grace? So dreaded, in fact, that some believe and advance the teaching that a Christian cannot fall from grace. And yet, the apostle Paul is writing to Christians, warning them of this very possibility. Why deny something the apostle of Christ said can happen? Furthermore, note that this falling from grace would take place by accepting, advancing and practicing false teaching. Binding circumcision and the Law of Moses on Gentiles for salvation was false doctrine and not the gospel of Christ (Acts 15:1-2; Gal. 1:6-9). What we believe and teach and practice matters. It affects whether or not we stand in grace or fall from grace. By hearing “the word of the truth of the gospel” you will know “the grace of God in truth” (Col. 1:5-6). Let us cling to truth and stand in God’s grace.

“Holy, Holy, Holy” #594

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:1–3, NKJV)

Isaiah’s vision of the Lord sitting upon His heavenly throne presents a magnificent scene of the Lord Almighty in all His majesty, power, splendor and holiness. Heavenly beings attend Him and praise Him for His holiness, acknowledging His creation magnificently displays His grandeur and brilliance. How very unlike the gods that men have made for themselves throughout the ages. Their false gods rise no higher than the human imagination and vices from which they sprang. In vivid contrast, the earth proclaims the majesty of the Almighty and His holiness. This becomes more dramatic when we learn from the apostle John that Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus; He is the Lord sitting on the throne, lifted up and holy (John 12:37-41). Jesus is worthy of our faithful praise and service, for He is the Lord Almighty.

Work While it is Day #593

4  “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:4–5, NKJV)

As the light of the world, Jesus exposes the world, saves the world and judges the world. Here, Jesus emphasizes the urgency of doing the work of God. Just as darkness extinguishes one’s opportunity to work in the light of day, our opportunity to do the Lord’s work is drawing to a close. While we have breath in our nostrils let us be diligent to work the works of God by following the light of Christ’s word. We “work of works” of God as we live by faith, walking in the light of His word. Jesus, the light of the world, blesses our labor of love as we walk and work by the light of His truth.