But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10, NKJV)
Not a few have tried to predict when Jesus will return. To date, all have failed, and we have no reason to doubt that record will remain unbroken. This is not to say the Lord will not return; He certainly will. But, since He will come like a thief comes – suddenly and without warning – no one on earth knows when it will happen (see 1 Thess. 5:1-3; Matt. 25:13). When Jesus does return the material world will be consumed in an instant. His return will not herald a paradisiacal earth, for “the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up”. The impending destruction of this world is our incentive to “holy conduct and godliness” (2 Pet. 3:11). Belief in the return of the Lord Jesus Christ compels us to be prepared by diligently following Him each day. Are you ready for the day of the Lord?
1 Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity. (1 Timothy 5:1–2, NKJV)
Kind and respectful words, even when correction is in order, conveys honor for the aged. Younger people are tempted to speak roughly to the elderly, losing their patience and being disrespectful with their words and actions. Paul warns against such here. “The term ‘rebuke,’ mentioned here only in the New Testament, describes a severe verbal pounding” (The New American Commentary, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, Lea & Griffin, 34:145). The wise young person knows that one day he or she will be old and will appreciate being addressed with respectful words. Be it noted that Paul assumes fathers and mothers are spoken to with respect and regard; another important lesson for every generation. How a person speaks to his elders and about his elders says a good deal about his character.
21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household. (Philippians 4:21–22, NKJV)
Who is a saint? The western world generally regards someone who does extraordinary good for others as a saint. The Catholic Church canonizes their saints and prays to them. But the Bible refers to every Christian as a saint. The apostle Paul regarded all the Christians in Philippi as saints, addressing them as saints (Phil. 1:1). In his closing salutation he again referred to them as saints, along with the brethren in Rome. The word “saint” means “holy one”. Every Christian is called to “be holy” as God is holy (1 Pet. 1:15-16). The gospel calls us to be holy, to be sanctified – to be saints (1 Cor. 1:2; 6:11). If you catch yourself excusing your sin by saying, “I’m not a saint”, perhaps you should ask yourself, “Why not?”
He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. (Matthew 10:40, NKJV)
Sometimes people put greater emphasis on “the letters in red” in their Bibles. They believe the actual words Jesus spoke are more authoritative than the words of the apostles. Yet, Jesus authorized them to go into all the world and preach His gospel (Matt. 28:18-19; Mk. 16:15). In truth, we show our devotion to Jesus by receiving the teachings of His apostles, which were themselves inspired by God. Jesus put no separation between His words and the words of His apostles. In another place He said, “He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me” (Lk. 10:16). And again, “he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (Jno. 13:20). We are to trust the teachings of the apostles as the very teachings of Jesus. For, as Jesus said, to reject the apostles’ words is to reject the Father who sent Him.
3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. 4 Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. 5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. (Psalm 63:3–5, NKJV)
In contrast to the hypocritical lip-service Jesus rebuked in Matthew 15:7-9, this passage blesses God with lips of joyful praise. The goodness and kindness of God was better than life to David, for God satisfied the longings of his soul. David’s heart was stayed on God even as he faced trials and uncertainty: “My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me” (Psa. 63:8). David pledged loyalty to God and praised Him for the rich abundance of His care. Joyful lips result from thankful hearts. Like David, let us rejoice in God’s goodness and worship Him with the “fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Heb. 13:15).
7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 8 ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ (Matthew 15:7–9, NKJV)
This is one of Christ’s most stinging rebukes of the religious class of His day. Jesus literally “went to the heart of the matter”, exposing their religious pretense (hypocrisy). The scribes and Pharisees meticulously bound their traditions upon people, treating their traditions as if they were the commandments of God (Matt. 15:1-3). To compound their sin, their traditions also served to convince people they could disobey the commands of God without consequence (Matt. 15:4-6). Such elevation of men’s religious traditions above the word of God is sinful, producing vain worship – empty expressions of devotion to the Almighty. We must have hearts that receive all of God’s word, never elevating any human religious tradition above a “thus saith the Lord”.
45 Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?” 46 The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (John 7:45–46, NKJV)
The officers had been tasked with arresting Jesus (Jno. 7:32). But, upon hearing Him speak they were astonished, and returned empty-handed. Truly, no man ever spoke like Jesus! And no wonder; He is the Christ, the Son of God. So, we are made to wonder why it is that so few are willing to listen to Him today? His words have not changed. They continue to be the words of eternal life (Jno. 6:68). Take time today to read your Bible and by doing do, listen to what Jesus is saying to you (Heb. 1:1-2).
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:6, NKJV)
Having just described the Lord as his Host, even when surrounded by enemies, David now expands his hopeful joy in the Lord to include all the days of his life as well as the ages to come. With the Lord as his Shepherd, David would not lack God’s goodness and mercy, the fullest expression of which will be realized in heaven. We should remember that David chose to follow the Lord; this Shepherd did not force David to follow Him. Abundant eternal life is assured to all who put their trust in Jesus Christ the Lord and follow Him: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me, and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (Jno. 10:27). Allow the Lord to be your Shepherd and be abundantly supplied with eternal life. Hear His voice and follow Him.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. (Psalm 23:5, NKJV)
David sees the Lord as his Shepherd who leads, feeds and protects him through life’s dangers and delights. He also sees God as his Sovereign who hosts a banquet at which David is a guest. The Lord prepares a bountiful feast of hopeful, peaceful repose even as David’s enemies surround him. This host perfectly protects His guests. David is refreshed and filled by the good and constant blessings that come from the hand of the Lord. When you and I are tempted to yield to the enemies of faith, let us remember the One who guards us, sustaining and supplying us with a spiritual feast like none other. Abundant spiritual nourishment and sure hope sustains those who trust the Lord.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4, NKJV)
Fear is a real emotion that can overwhelm us. When David faced the dangers of death, he took courage in the presence of the Lord. You may face harm or potential harm in many different ways, yet with the Lord in your life, every distress can be faced with calm assurance. The shepherd’s rod and staff, tools for guiding, protecting and rescuing a distressed sheep, remind David of the Lord’s constant vigilance over him. Like David, we gain strength in the face of every trial, especially death, because we know the Lord is present – guiding, protecting and rescuing us from every danger – preserving us unto eternal life in His Son.