“Do not look on the wine” #966

29  Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? 30  Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. 31  Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; 32  At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. (Proverbs 23:29–32, NKJV)

Social drinking is accepted by many who wear the name of Christ. Their rationale varies, but the consistent defense made by believers who drink alcohol is, “I don’t get drunk.” Therefore, to them, there is no problem. They see no problem in recreational drinking to get a “buzz” and to that extent, lose their self-control (Gal. 5:23). They overlook the problem of their  diminished example of righteousness. They think Jesus was a “winebibber” (wine drinker) and so they can be, too (Jno. 2:1-11). (They forget that was a slur made against Jesus by unbelievers, with whom they thus associate themselves, Matthew 11:19.) They see no problem violating the apostle’s stipulation against “banquetings” (drinking parties, NKJV) in 1 Peter 4:3 (which denotes drinking without regard to amount). No, God’s word is clear that “wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Prov. 20:1). Be wise. Heed God’s warning and do not take the first drink, “when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly.” That’s how to escape the viper’s sting.

“The sincerity of your love” #965

I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:8–9, NKJV)

In urging the Corinthian church to complete their commitment to send benevolent relief to their needy brethren in Jerusalem, the apostle used the example of the diligent disciples in Macedonia to prompt their action (2 Cor. 8:1-7). The Macedonians were themselves following the great example of Jesus Christ, who emptied Himself of heaven’s glory so that we may be spiritual rich (Phil. 2:5-8). Sincere love, by definition, sacrifices itself for the benefit and well being of others. Do not merely tell someone you love them. The test of love is putting aside your own comfort, pleasure and profit in order to promote blessings and spiritual advantages in the lives of those for whom we profess love. “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 Jno. 3:18).

Remember the Apostles’ Words #964

17  But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18  how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. 19  These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. (Jude 17–19, NKJV)

In contrast to the flattering words of false teachers (whose objective is personal advantage, Jude 16), the words of the apostles are sound and solid, saving souls from eternal ruin. Those who mock the apostolic doctrine do so at their own peril. Driven by lusts and causing divisions, false teachers do not have the Spirit of God, because they are not following the word given to us by the Spirit (Jno. 16:13). And, please notice the cause of division is the one who walks in his own desires and refuses to follow the apostles’ words (1 Cor. 14:37). Let us learn, remember and walk by the apostles’ teaching, which is “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

Flattering Words #963

These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. (Jude 16, NKJV)

Jude gives essential warnings to Christians of false teachers who would creep in among them and corrupt the purity of the faith (Jude 3-4). He also describes these deniers of “the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” – we are not left wondering who fits the description. They are marked as complainers who murmur against the truth and the Lord who gave it. They use their words to gain an advantage over others in order to promote their personal, lustful agenda – not the gospel of Christ. Flattery is a hallmark of partiality and deception (Rom. 16:18). It builds someone up, not with godly edification, but with a facade of respect. The apostles of Christ did not preach with words of flattery, but with the sober words of truth and reason (Acts 26:25). Like Jude, we must unmask the frothy fawning of false teachers to see their message elevates themselves and not the Lord Jesus Christ. And, we can only do that when we know the Scriptures, live the Scriptures, and love them more than men and their praise.

Do not blame God #962

19  How long? Will You not look away from me, and let me alone till I swallow my saliva? 20  Have I sinned? What have I done to You, O watcher of men? Why have You set me as Your target, so that I am a burden to myself? (Job 7:19–20, NKJV)

Job was in the midst of tremendous suffering, not because of his own sins, but because he was upright (Job 1:8-12). His three friends told him it was his own sins that produced his grief and pain. Far from being sympathetic, one of them said, “whoever perished, being innocent?” (Job 4:7) Job wondered out loud if God had put a target on his back. No, far from it. The innocent do suffer in this world (Jesus of Nazareth is the prime example). When they do, we must not blame God, but keep our faith in Him, knowing that He is far more powerful and wiser than we are. Sin brought suffering in this world, and evil is the ultimate culprit of this world’s pain (Gen. 3:1-19). Job endured, and saw “that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (Jas. 5:11; Job 42:10-17). Let us imitate his perseverance when tested by sorrow. This world is not our home.

“Behold, the maidservant of the Lord!” #961

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)

The angel Gabriel’s announcement to the virgin concerning her approaching pregnancy and the nature of her Child is well known (read Lk. 1:26-35). However, you may not be as familiar with today’s text. By telling Mary that her relative Elizabeth (although past the age of childbearing) was six months pregnant, God was giving her a sign that His word about her pregnancy and Child would also come to pass. Mary’s reply is impressive, as she willingly and completely yields herself to the word and will of God on this matter. Mary’s faith is worthy of our imitation. Her meek, submissive faith is just what we must have in order to be favored and blessed by God (Matt. 5:5). The word of God assures us He will fulfill His word concerning us (Heb. 13:5-6). Like Mary, may we offer up ourselves to the Lord to be His servants; with a faith that is wholehearted and without reservation.

“Do not lust after her beauty” #960

25  Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids. 26  For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread; And an adulteress will prey upon his precious life. (Proverbs 6:25–26, NKJV)

Yielding to fleshly lust is a losing proposition. What appears so appealing and promising such satisfaction, invariably causes pain, sorrow, regret and loss. How many men have literally squandered a fortune on the fleeting fantasies of the flesh? The passion of lust promises pleasure but produces the spiritual bondage and death of sin. Many men and women have been led to the depths of disgrace and despair by its sordid appeal. Sin, whatever form it takes, is never a good deal. Today’s verse reminds us that even more than material poverty, lust bears fruit that brings a person spiritual shame and deprivation. Thanks be to God there is a Savior who lifts sinners out of the muck and mire of sin. Jesus Christ forgives sinners (1 Tim. 1:15)! Trust and obey Him; not the lusts of the world (1 Jno 2:15-17).

Perilous Times #959

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:1–5, NKJV)

“The last days,” as Lenski correctly observes, “refer to the whole time from the completion of Christ’s redemptive work until his Parousia” (Commentary on Timothy, 820). During this final age (in which Paul, Timothy and we live) before Christ’s appearing there would (and will) be occasions of particular stress upon the righteous (v. 1). Spiritual dangers and threats arise from people who disrespect God and their fellow human beings. Their conduct is unrestrained by godly fear, which is abandoned for self-indulgent, wasteful and hurtful living. Loving self, material increase and sensual indulgences, there is no formation of godliness within them. Any claim to godliness is empty, powerless and unworthy of our attention. With Timothy, we are warned to “turn away” from such people. The harmful influences of their sins endanger us, urging us to compromise, approve and participate with them in their sins. Refuse, resist, and turn away!

Don’t be a Hater #958

A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, And a flattering mouth works ruin. (Proverbs 26:28, NKJV)

Lying does not build up others; just the opposite. Lies hurt, harm and crush the spirit and lives of those to whom they are told. Christians put away lying and “speak truth with his neighbor” (Eph. 4:25). We do not tell the truth only when it helps us, but then resort to lies when the truth is inconvenient. To think that way is not honest; it is self-serving deception. Note from today’s verse that telling a lie shows hatred toward the one to whom it is told. If you lie to someone, you are hating them, not loving them. Did you ever stop to realize that before telling a lie? Flattery is of the same nature; falsifying one’s true attitudes in order to gain an advantage with a person. Lying is a sin that crushes others, but most tragically, it finally crushes the liar with the eternal punishment of hell (Rev. 21:8). So, don’t be a hater; tell the truth.

God’s Forgiveness and Godly Fear #957

If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared. (Psalm 130:3–4, NKJV)

The Bible is very plain, that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). This makes it apparent that without God’s mercy and forgiveness, none of us could stand justified before Him. Only the sinless person would earn the right to be counted just before God on his own merits. Since all have sinned, that is a moot point. The gospel message is that God has purposed and provided a means of human redemption. God is abundant in loving kindness and will forgive all who call on His name (Acts 2:21, 37-41; 22:16). When by faith, the sinner confesses his faith, repents and is baptized for the remission of sins, his sins are forgiven. The forgiveness we have from God moves us to live with godly fear toward Him to live holy lives (1 Pet. 1:14-17). Let us always praise God for His mercy and fear Him for the forgiveness we have from Him.