28 Give to the Lord, O families of the peoples, give to the Lord glory and strength. 29 Give to the Lord the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! 30 Tremble before Him, all the earth. The world also is firmly established, it shall not be moved. (1 Chronicles 16:28–30, NKJV)
All of mankind is called to give God the honor He deserves. His glory, might and sovereignty demand reverential worship from all who would approach Him. We must come before Him “in the beauty of holiness,” for nothing impure shall come into the presence of the Lord (Isa. 6:3-7). We cannot worship God with sin-stained hearts and hands. When we bring our offerings of worship before the Lord, we “tremble before Him,” for we know He has established our very existence on earth. Without Him, we would perish. Therefore, true worshipers approach God with serious faith, not cavalier and casual attitudes and actions. Remember, worship is about God, not you. Give Him the glory due His name by worshiping Him in spirit and truth (Jno. 4:23-24).
I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman? (Job 31:1, NKJV)
Sin begins in the heart. For example, Jesus said “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). We must guard and condition our hearts to refuse sin immediately. To do so, Job made an agreement with his eyes (himself) not to gaze intently upon a young woman. He pledged not to look lustfully upon a woman. Job’s protection against the lust of the eyes was to refuse to closely examination a woman’s form. We must fix our eyes on Jesus in order to be pure in heart (Heb. 12:2). We live in a provocative world that is intent on drawing our eyes away from Jesus. Make an agreement with your eyes not to indulge in lustful looking, for such is of the world and not of God (1 Jno. 2:16).
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? (Galatians 3:1, NKJV)
It is not enough to believe Jesus Christ died for our sins in order to be saved. His crucifixion has been posted like a billboard for all to see through preaching “Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23). Yet, to be saved from our sins and kept in Christ’s blessed care Christians must faithfully run the race and “obey the truth” (see Gal. 5:7). The Christians in Galatia had fallen under an evil influence that convinced them they could be true to Christ yet not obey the truth. Many continue to be bewitched with the evil influence of salvation by a faith that fails to obey the truth. Genuine faith in Christ calls for our obedience, for He is “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Heb. 5:9). “Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is,” and by faith obey His truth (Eph. 5:17).
9 Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, but establish the just; For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds. 10 My defense is of God, who saves the upright in heart. (Psalm 7:9–10, NKJV)
Let it be clearly understood that wickedness does not triumph over the people of God. God in His righteousness protects the just, for their hearts and minds are stayed on Him. God is our shield, defending us from the “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). Notably, it is the “upright in heart” who have this spiritual protection and salvation, since God is well aware of the workings of our minds and passions. What type of heart does God see in you? Are you passionate for what is just and righteous? Or, has wickedness deceived you with its baseless promises of fulfillment? Keep your faith in God and remain upright in heart. God establishes, protects and saves all whose hearts are devoted to what is upright and just.
1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. (Ephesians 5:1–2, NKJV)
The depth and breadth of Christ’s love toward us in His sacrifice on the cross is the great example for us to imitate each day. Christ willingly suffered the rejection, reproach and cruelty of sinners by dying as an offering for their sins – and ours. Let us not forget to continue to love those who are unloving toward us. The love of which we speak is a decision of the will. William Barclay described love (agape) as “unconquerable benevolence, undefeatable goodwill.” A mark of discipleship is unfailing love in the face of injustice, heartache, or even hatred. Imitate God – not the world – and always love others as He has loved us.
So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54, NKJV)
Though Jesus was condemned by the Jewish leaders, shamefully treated and executed by the Romans, the events surrounding His crucifixion convinced the Roman centurion and his cohorts that Jesus was the Son of God. Darkness shrouded the earth for six hours before His death. Jesus cried out to heaven but He never renounced His God. The veil of the temple in Jerusalem was torn in two, the earth quaked and dead bodies came out of the graves, appearing to many in the city. What more will it take to persuade you to “greatly fear” in the presence of God and confess that Jesus truly is the Son of God? God gives us sufficient evidence to believe and obey Him. Accept the testimony of the Scriptures, come and worship Him as the Son of God (cf. Matt. 14:33; 16:16).
Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; Nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; At the time I punish them, they shall be cast down,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 6:15, NKJV)
Shame over one’s sin ought to motive repentance and a return to the Lord. But, the people of Judah had so entrenched themselves in sin that they were not at all ashamed. They had lost their ability to blush over things that are disgraceful and repugnant to God. Not unlike many in our time, they abandoned following the truth of God and reveled in their sins of idolatry and immorality. God assured them their sin brought them under His punishment. Does the sight of sin cause you to blush? Or, have you adapted to its presence, even starting to participate in sin without embarrassment? Christians must have such an aversion to sin that we turn away from its shame. The shame and guilt associated with sin should deter us from becoming comfortable with it.
13 Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is given to covetousness; And from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely. 14 They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace. (Jeremiah 6:13–14, NKJV)
God’s people were thoroughly corrupted by covetousness during the days of Jeremiah. Greed and lust for personal gain had so warped the hearts of Judah that they would not listen to God’s prophet calling them back to the old paths of truth. The trumpet sound warning of divine punishment had on effect; they would not listen (Jer. 6:16-17). They rejected God’s law, preferring the message of corrupt prophets and priests who assured them of peace when there was no peace with God because of their sins (Jer. 6:19). Sin blinds us. Sin deceives us. Sin hardens our heart and corrupts our soul. What will drive you today: Personal gain, or personal peace with God? Do not be deceived by the passing peace sin seemingly provides; “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked” (Isa. 57:21). Return to the Lord, and receive His mercy. He will abundantly pardon and give true peace (Isa. 55:7; 57:19).
15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: (Ephesians 1:15–16, NKJV)
How do you hear about someone’s faith in the Lord and love for fellow Christians? Surely we can see that faith in the Lord is more than mental agreement, and love for the brethren is more than holding an emotion in the heart. Faith cannot be seen unless it is active: “But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (Jas. 2:18). Our verse implies the Ephesians were living in such a way that others knew their faith and love. Paul had been told about their faith and love. Their vibrant, obedient faith in Jesus was on display through their acts of love for all the saints. Hearing of their faith and love led Paul to gave unceasing thanks for them in his prayers. Be sure to express your faith in Christ and your brotherly love through obedient service. May others hear of your faith in the Lord and of your love for the saints, and may thanksgiving for you ascend to God’s throne.
23 Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?” 24 But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: 25 The baptism of John—where was it from? From heaven or from men?”… (Matthew 21:23–25, NKJV)
It is not an unreasonable question, except for the fact that Jesus had shown them time and time again that His words and His deeds were by the authority of heaven. Just the day before, in the very place where Jesus drove out the defilers of God’s temple, He had healed the blind and the lame (Matt. 21:12-14). Still, they refused to believe (Jno. 12:37-41). Jesus has given ample proof that He is the Christ, the Son of God. All authority has been given to Him in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). It is your choice whether or not you will follow heaven’s authority by submitting to Jesus in obedient faith. By what authority do you live? Whose authority do you honor and obey; heaven’s or men’s? Choose wisely, for your choice has eternal consequences. Yield to the authority of heaven, and follow the Lord Jesus in all things (Col. 3:17).