I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, ESV)
Years ago CBS radio advertised their NFL broadcasts with sports announcer Greg Gumble defining the sports fan’s attitude toward football. He said the true fan never complains about the amount of football games; He is anticipating and ready for the action. Then, he said the true fan never gets enough; he always wants more. Gumble reminded his audience not to forget that “fan” is short for “fanatic”, and that’s what makes a true football fan. Christians can learn something from his analysis that a fan is an enthusiast or devotee. We must be devoted enthusiasts for Christ. But, unlike football fans, we must be participants, not spectators. So, get in the game. Live by faith every single day. As a football fan, you live to see your team win. As a Christian, live with complete devotion to Jesus Christ so that others see Jesus in you.
37 Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37–39, NKJV)
Lying, cheating and stealing are widespread in America and around the world. Over one-half of 2012 American high school students surveyed admitted cheating on an exam, 55% to lying to a teacher, and 20% to stealing (2012 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth). At the same time, “99 percent agree that “it is important for me to be a person with good character” (Ibid). Their challenge (and ours) is a total commitment to honesty and integrity. The Bible is clear on this matter. Lying, stealing and cheating are sins against God and against one’s neighbor. Stealing is sin: “Let him who stole steal no more” (Eph. 4:28). Lying is sin: “Put away lying, ‘let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor’” (Eph. 4:25). Cheating is sin: “You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him” (Lev. 19:13; Prov. 11:1). So, when we lie, cheat and steal we are not loving of God and we are not loving our neighbor. Commit yourself to loving God and others by being honest in your every word and deed.
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:2–5, NKJV)
The Bible tells us the kind of preacher every preacher is commanded to be, and therefore, the kind of preacher we all should want. Do you want a preacher who boldly preaches the whole counsel of God? Do you want a preacher whose goal is to leave you feeling good about yourself instead of warning you of the spiritual danger of personal sin? Do you want a preacher to scratch your itching ear (by preaching what you want to hear instead of what you need to hear)? Do you want a gospel preacher like Timothy, who is watchful, persevering and fulfills his ministry? Or, do you want a preacher who comforts you with the fables of error? Does your preacher “do the work of an evangelist”? These are crucial questions for everyone who is interested in the word of God, including preachers.
in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NKJV)
“Thank you”. Powerful, yet simple words, too often left unspoken. This simple expression of polite gratitude is taken for granted (if not totally ignored) by many. Christians, however, must always be thankful, remembering to express their appreciation “in everything”. This is the will of God for you. Therefore, ingratitude is a sin against God. In Him “we all live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). He is the one who has blessed us “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Whether material or spiritual, “every good gift and every perfect gift” is from God (Jas. 1:17). Thanksgiving is due His name (1 Chron. 29:10-15). Use today to be thankful to God and to say “thank you” to those who touch your life.
15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:15–18, NKJV)
Having just exhorted Christians to “walk as children of light”, the apostle states several necessary things: “walk circumspectly”, “redeem the time”, “understand what the will of the Lord is” and “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:8-10, 15-18). These are commandments, not mere suggestions. Without obeying them one cannot walk as a child of light. The question arises, how does a person obey the command to be “filled with the Spirit”? How do you do that? The answer is revealed in Colossians 3:16 (which corresponds to Eph. 5:18-19): “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord”. To be “filled with the Spirit” means to let “the word of Christ dwell in you richly”. The Holy Spirit helps the Christian walk as a child of light by means of the Scriptures, the word of Christ He revealed and inspired. There is no relationship with the Spirit of God where the word of God is absent from your heart and life. Be filled with the Spirit of God by being filled with the word of God.
4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. 5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. (1 Peter 4:4–6, NKJV)
Those who are dead in their sins do not understand why someone would become a Christian and no longer join them in sin. The moral behavior of the Christian exposes their immorality. The unconverted react by trying to marginalize Christians by slander, lies and other malicious means. They intend to neutralize your godly influence. Do not succumb to their pressure! First, remember they will answer to God one day. God will right every wrong they do against you. Second, remember the very reason the gospel is preached is to save those who malign you. If you give in to their pressure and compromise your faith, you damage your influence for good and work against the purpose of the gospel. You cannot help save sinners by going back to sinning with them. Live so that others see your good works and glorify God. Do not yield to the peer pressure of sinners. Yielding is sin.
The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. (Psalm 119:130, NKJV)
What is the first thing you do when you walk into a dark room? You turn on the lights. God’s word is described as giving light from the first moment it is encountered. Sin has caused much darkness in the world and in our lives. The light of God’s word shows the way out of sin’s darkness and into the light of life that is in Jesus (Jno. 1:4). The light He gives “shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (Jno. 1:5, ESV). By following the word of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, you will have the light of life (Jno. 8:12).
43 For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:43–45, NKJV)
A good tree is free of defects that would cause it to produce bad fruit. Likewise, a good person has a treasure of good things in his or her heart that produce good things. Just as surely as a bad tree cannot bear good fruit, a heart with a treasure of bad (evil) things will not produce what is good. These are the words of Jesus, whose heart was only and always a treasure house of good things. He gives us a basis by which to know our hearts. Bad words out of the mouth shows bad (evil) things in your heart. If your words and actions are good in God’s sight, your good heart is being revealed. Test your words and actions today by what Jesus said. And, should you find bad things, then repent so your heart will have a treasure of good things from which to speak and act (Acts 17:30; 8:22).