Everything Beautiful in its Time #693

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:  (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NKJV)

Divine Providence has arranged life on earth with its own symmetry. Life and death, planting and harvest, weeping and laughter all illustrate the portion and occasion of things “under the sun.” Yet, acknowledging life’s symmetry (and at times, its paradoxes) does not give ultimate satisfaction or meaning to life. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” (Eccl. 3:11). Only by trusting the purposes of God and submitting obediently to Him will one ascend to the ultimate purpose and meaning of life which God has given us (Eccl. 12:13).

Many Things to Say and to Judge #692

I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him. (John 8:26, NKJV)

The words of Jesus are the very words of God the Father, who sent Him to the world. His words contain God’s judgments of us. We must be willing and ready to hear and accept God’s judgments, since they are “true and righteous altogether” (Psa. 19:9). When the word of Christ exposes our sins and convicts us as sinners it is God calling us to repentance and salvation. His word is always true, therefore, it is indeed foolish to ignore, to refuse and to reject it: “He who rejects Me and does not receive My words, has that which judges him–the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (Jno. 12:48). Better to receive God’s judgments now, while there is time to repent, than on the day of judgment when that time will have passed forevermore.

Singing with grace in your hearts #691

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. (Colossians 3:16, NKJV)

There is a song in the heart when the word of Christ is implanted in the soul. The word of Christ prompts melodious strains of wise instruction which praise God and give counsel against sin. When a heart that is blessed by the word of Christ it sings songs that honor God and favor men. The word of Christ shapes the spiritual mind, which in turn sings joyful praises to God while teaching and admonishing others. “Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, and His praise in the assembly of saints” (Psa. 149:1).

Put to Death Your Members #690

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5, NKJV)

In today’s verse, Paul places sensual and sexual sins (including covetousness) in our members. To strike a death blow against sin we must consciously cease using our bodies to fulfill sinful desires and lusts (see Rom. 6:12-13). Our every thought is to be brought “into captivity to the obedience of Christ”  in order to walk by faith and not according to the flesh (2 Cor. 10:2-4). Analyze your actions to help you take inventory of your heart’s desires. Are your desires pure or putrid in God’s sight? Remember, how you live graphically displays the Master you serve.

My Sheep #689

27  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30  I and My Father are one. (John 10:27–30, NKJV)

The Good Shepherd gives eternal life to His sheep, who hear His voice and follow Him. These are the sheep who shall never perish. No one is able to snatch them from the hands of the Father and the Son (who are one in nature, in promise, in power and in purpose). Christians who hear and follow Jesus have this blessed promise of eternal life. But, be careful. Sheep go astray when they do not listen to the Shepherd and fail to follow Him. They do not go astray because God cannot save them, but because they choose to no longer listen to and follow the word of Jesus. They choose to depart from the faith (1 Tim. 4:1-3). There is no promise of eternal life to Christians who turn back to sin (2 Pet. 2:20-22). So, keep listening to and following the Good Shepherd. If you have wandered away from His voice, repent and return to the eternal safety of His hand.

Flee Youthful Lusts #688

Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22, NKJV)

The best way to avoid the lusts of youth is to run away from them. Young people often think they are bulletproof – invincible. But, wisdom teaches us that youth is tempted by curiosity and pride; a dangerous combination for any age when the temptation is to fulfill lust. Keep your heart pure by running after such things as “righteousness, faith, love, peace”. These fortify you against the lust of the flesh. Honorable conduct, driven by your faith and love for God, will lead you to fear God and obey Him by abstaining from every form of evil (1 Thess. 5:22). Then you will have genuine peace of mind, body and soul. Do not say a young person cannot flee lust; they can and they must (1 Cor. 10:13; Psa. 119:9). “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” is still God’s assurance, regardless of your age (Jas. 4:7).

Negative Incentives #687

For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.” (Ephesians 5:5–7, NKJV)

Negative incentives are just as needed as positive reinforcement. God’s judgment against the sins of immorality is clear and plain, convincing us to turn away from sin. There is no heavenly inheritance for anyone who fulfills the lusts of the flesh in defiance of God’s call to holy conduct. Immoral Christians will not escape God’s wrath. Fellowship with sin brings one under God’s wrath against sin; do not be deceived. Listen to God’s warnings of His wrath against sin and you can think soberly and choose wisely when tempted to sin. Ignore His warnings and you imperil your soul.

“I will walk within my house with a perfect heart” #686

I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh, when will You come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. (Psalm 101:2, NKJV)

King David was not sinless; far from it. Still, he committed his heart to God and when he sinned it tormented his soul (Psa. 32:3-5). His goal was to conduct himself in his house with a perfect (blameless) heart. That’s good counsel for every husband, wife, father, mother and child. Our conduct in our families exposes our heart to those we hold dearest in life. When we hold God most dear in our heart it will show in how we treat our family members. By conducting ourselves in our homes with blameless hearts we set our hope on God’s presence and mercy. Choose the blameless way of wisdom. Walk in your house with your heart wholly given to the Lord God.

“Is Christ Divided?” #685

12  Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:12–13, NKJV)

The apostle Paul identified and rebuked congregational division in the Corinthian church, using himself and Apollos figuratively to make his point (1 Cor. 4:6). Lining up after men, no matter how seasoned, how reputed, how respected, is sin against the Lord. Religious division diminishes Christ by elevating the will and wishes of men. Paul’s rhetorical questions remove all doubt: Christ is not divided. Christ alone was crucified for us. To divide and follow any other is an affront to that sacrifice. Sinners are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, not by the authority of men (Acts 2:38). Division exerts the authority of men and defies the authority of Christ. Anyone who thinks such division among Christians is sanctioned by God, has forgotten the price Christ paid for our sins and His supreme authority over us.

No Divisions Among You #684

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10, NKJV)

Division among the Corinthian Christians prompted the apostle to literally beg them to restore the fracture. Just as fishermen mend their nets, their minds and judgment needed to be completely joined together (see the same word in Mk. 1:19). Carnal rancor is sinful, preventing the unity that is to characterize disciples of Jesus (1 Cor. 3:3-4). The apostle did not urge these saints to “agree to disagree”, but to work together toward having “no divisions”. This was not the ecumenical plea to “agree to disagree”; it was a plea for true unity in Christ. Unity is therefore desirable, commanded and attainable by those who have been called “into the fellowship of His Son” through the gospel (1 Cor. 1:9). The word of the cross leads us to unity in the church, in our marriages, and in every other godly relationship.