31 “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:31–33, NKJV)
God sent His angel Gabriel to the village of Nazareth, there to speak to a virgin named Mary. The angel announced to Mary God’s great plan to send His Son into the world to save and to reign. God’s plans would rise above the ordinary to the extraordinary. This virgin would conceive and bring forth a Son (fulfilling Isaiah 7:14). Mary’s son would be great; superior in every way (Jesus has all preeminence, Col. 1:18). Mary’s son would be God’s Son; both human and divine (fulfilling Isaiah 9:6). This Son would be a king, the sovereign ruler over the people of God. Later, Jesus would tell Pilate He was born to be a king (John 18:37). This Son would reign continually over an enduring kingdom (fulfilling Daniel 2:44). Only Jesus is worthy to accomplish God’s great redemptive plan. Therefore, He is also worthy of our reverential service and unending praise.
3 “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” (Luke 17:3–4, NKJV)
Isn’t it interesting that Jesus said to “take heed to yourselves” when someone sins against you? Our first impulse, when sinned against, is often to be on the alert and cautious toward the sinner. Or, we may focus on our hurt and pain the sinner caused. Yet, these reactions do not help us or the one who sinned against us. Jesus knew the difficulty of responding in godly ways when sinned against. He teaches two essential responses here. First, rebuke the sinner. This rebuke comes from a genuine concern for the sinner’s soul; an attempt to bring him to repentance. Second, do not withhold forgiveness from him when he repents. This can be even more difficult when sins are repeated against us. Yet, inasmuch as God repeatedly forgives our sins against Him when we repent, we must follow His example toward repentant sinners.
14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. (Hebrews 12:14–16, NKJV)
God did not promise peace to His people in this life. Indeed, Jesus said, “in the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jno. 16:33). God’s grace in Christ gives us sure hope, even as sorrow and pain tempt us to abandon the very grace that sustains us as we walk this vale of tears. And so, we are warned not let life’s sorrows and trials turn to bitterness. Once bitterness takes root in the heart it is a dreadful enemy to peace and holiness. The bitter heart has lost faith, and so falls short of the grace of God. Esau serves to illustrate the base values that led him down the path of bitterness. When life does not turn out like you wanted or expected, do not become bitter. Strive for peace and walk in holiness; resist the temptation to become bitter. Bitterness of heart prevents pursuing peace and holiness, and finally, it prevents a person from seeing the Lord throughout all eternity.
8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! 9 Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. 10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing. (Psalm 34:8–10, NKJV)
Do you ever feel like you are missing out on something because you are a Christian? The temptation to envy the unrighteous attracts some Christians to their spiritual demise. To resist this temptation, focus on the good blessings you have from the Lord by doing three things mentioned in today’s passage. Strengthen your faith by first trusting in the Lord (v. 8). God has shown Himself to be completely trustworthy. He never deceives or makes false promises; He always keeps His word. He is blessing you in ways you do not even see at this time. Solidify your faith by fearing the Lord (v. 9). We show reverence to God because He provides our daily bread and so much more; our eternal life in Christ. Secure your faith by seeking the Lord (v. 10). God rewards those who believe in Him and “diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). Seek the good things of God though faith. You will find blessings more abundant that all the earth’s treasures – heavenly treasures that never fade (Matt. 6:19-21).
7 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8, NKJV)
Practically all would agree that exercise is beneficial for one’s overall health. Yet, when viewed from a temporal as well as an eternal perspective, it “profits a little”. The body grows older day by day. When all is said and done, death comes to every person, including those bodies well-exercised. Exercising oneself in godliness gives greater profit, benefiting one’s life on earth as well as the eternal realm. We are more than flesh and bones; we have an immortal soul that defines us. Keep yourself in shape with an exercise regime of godliness. It will strengthen you for daily living and keep you fit for eternal life.
36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.” 38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:36–38, NKJV)
Elizabeth, the mother of John, had not been able to bear children her whole life. Now, she was “well advanced in years” (Lk. 1:7). Furthermore, her husband Zacharias admitted to being “an old man” (Lk. 1:18). Yet, she conceived a son. Elizabeth’s pregnancy was a sign to Mary that, although she was a virgin, she would indeed bear a son by the power of God (Lk. 1:34-35). Notice carefully how Mary said the “impossible” would be accomplished. She had faith these things would occur to her “according to your word” (v. 38). Things that are “impossible” with man are accomplished according to the word of God, not contrary to it. Do not expect God to act against His word; He will not. Instead, when you rely on and obey God’s word, great things will be accomplished that defy human wisdom, will and power.
Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. (Romans 15:14, NKJV)
An admonition is an earnest warning, a reprimand firmly given. By definition, it is intended to be persuasive, either to correct sin or to urge an action of faithfulness. Paul suggests two things needed in order to effectively admonition others. First, it requires the goodness of moral integrity. Admonitions fall on deaf ears when they come from a person whose own integrity is suspect. We must first remove the beam out of our own eye in order to see clearly to remove the speck from our brother’s eye (Matt. 7:3-5). Secondly, we must be filled with a knowledge of God’s truth in order to give Scriptural warnings. God’s word contains the wisdom and admonitions most needed. When admonishing someone of spiritual danger, do so out of the goodness of love and upon the basis of God’s truth.