24 Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, 25 Lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul. (Proverbs 22:24–25, NKJV)
Just as good influences encourage us to reach greater heights of holiness, evil influences set traps that will endanger our souls. One such trap is the bad influence of the angry, furious person. Friendship with a person who does not control his or her temper will surely draw you into complicity and compromise with the fury. And, it can even begin to produce within you the same sort of anger actions and reactions. To resist the angry man’s wrath that he expresses toward others will sooner or later, make you the object of his wrath, too. Better to identify this evil influence and avoid it, rather than thinking you can befriend it without being affected by it. Why expose yourself to forces that hinder your holiness? If you are holding anger in your heart, release it through repentance, and replace it with the godly qualities of kindness, humility and love.
Therefore hear the parable of the sower: (Matthew 13:18, NKJV)
If you are not familiar with the parable of the sower, please read it, and Jesus’ interpretation of it in Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23. Take time to “hear” the parable and learn its lessons, some of which are these: 1) The condition of one’s heart determines whether he or she will understand and accept God’s word. 2) The same word of God will be believed by some, and rejected by others. Therefore, we dare not try to change the message of truth in an attempt to entice people to accept it. 3) Satan is at work hardening hearts against the word of God. 4) Truth cannot thrive in the shallow soil of the emotion-based heart. We must have an abiding commitment to God’s word, come what may – not to how we feel about it. 5) Hearts that are distracted and filled with concerns for the things of this world do not have room for the word of God. A person cannot serve two masters with one heart (Matt. 6:24). 6) Good and honest hearts hear, understand, and follow the word of God. So, did you listen to the parable? Which heart do you have when you hear the word of God? Is your heart the hard, wayside soil? Is it the shallow, emotional heart that easily falls away when tested? Is it the overgrown heart that has no room for God’s word? Or, is it the good heart that receives truth, holds it fast, and patiently bears fruit? Make no mistake: You decide which soil describes your heart.
And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” (Genesis 6:3, NKJV)
In the centuries leading up to the flood, the hearts and lives of men and women became increasingly wicked. They turned their attention and affections away from God and toward sensual, sinful desires and violent conduct (Gen. 6:1-7). God responded with the judgment of a worldwide flood, but not before extending His longsuffering toward sinners. Although their condemnation was certain and just, God extended His patience for 120 years leading up to the flood. God saw man’s wickedness, yet still the “Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah,” while this preacher of righteousness built the ark (1 Pet. 3:20; 2 Pet. 2:5). Evidently, Noah was occupied with building the ark during the last 100 years of this 120 year period (Gen. 5:32; 7:6). There is a limit to God’s contending with evil people. He desires their salvation, but His justice also demands judgment against evil (1 Tim. 2:3-4; Rom. 2:1-11). The fact that the Lord has not yet destroyed the world in the promised judgment of fire is once more a token of His longsuffering toward sinners (2 Pet. 3:9-12). Now is the time to repent of your sins. Judgment is assured. Time is running out.
If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11, NKJV)
We ought not think that God will automatically accept whatever we say and do in worship and service to Him. Our teaching must be according to the utterances of God. God inspired the Scriptures, and what we say and teach to others must conform to them – the “pattern of sound words” given by the apostles and prophets of Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 1:13). Our worship must be “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Our service to God will be “acceptable to God” when it agrees with the “perfect will of God” that He has given us in His word (Rom. 12:1-2; Jas. 1:22-25). By conforming to the revelation of God, our words and our service will honor Jesus Christ, not ourselves. Since Jesus possesses glory and the sovereignty to rule over us, He deserves nothing less than our full strength and vigilance to only speak and follow His word.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. (Genesis 3:7, NKJV)
Before Adam and Eve sinned against God, Scripture says “they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). However, with sin’s entrance into the world, they perceived their nakedness, prompting them to make loin coverings in an effort to hide their shame. The fig leaves failed to cover their nakedness, and did not remove the shame of their sin. Therefore, God “made tunics of skin, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). Similarly, modern swimwear (such as women’s bikinis and men’s swim shorts) does not adequately clothe the body and remove the shame of nakedness. (Notably, in the Scriptures, to “uncover the thigh” means to uncover one’s nakedness, Isaiah 47:3.) Today, people have hardened their hearts toward the shame of their nakedness. They eagerly expose their nakedness by wearing modern-day “fig leaves.” Such lack of modesty does not diminish the sin of wearing such shameful attire (Jeremiah 8:12; 1 Timothy 2:9-10). God’s word is clear. It is shameful to expose one’s nakedness to public view. Reject such immodesty, and keep a sense of shame firmly rooted in your pure and holy heart.
Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone. (John 6:15, NKJV)
Those who saw Jesus miraculously feed the multitude with five loaves and two small fish deduced from this sign that Jesus “is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world” (Jno. 6:14). But, they misunderstood the nature of the Messiah and His kingdom, supposing they could forcibly make Jesus king. Jesus removed Himself from their grasp, for His kingdom is “not of this world” (Jno. 18:36). It is truly sad that so many think Jesus will return to the earth in the future to be enthroned as king, when He has already rejected being made that sort of king. His kingdom is spiritual in nature (Lk. 17:20-21). His reign was announced and His kingdom began to be populated when His gospel was preached on the Pentecost following His resurrection (Mk. 9:1; Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 36-41). The Messiah’s kingdom exists today; it is His church (Matt. 16:18-19). Instead of looking for a physical kingdom yet to be secured, the gospel proclaims that Christians compose the kingdom (Col. 1:13; Rev. 1:6, 9). “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Heb. 12:28).
23 Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. 24 You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” (Psalm 73:23–24, NKJV)
Even though it often appears that the arrogant and ungodly are rewarded with prosperity and ease in this life, Asaph the psalmist came to understand the ultimate outcome of the ungodly is complete destruction and sudden desolation (Psa. 73:1-20). When you see the wicked person prosper in his prideful disregard of God, you must remember there is more to life than the here and now. Eternity looms ahead, and you must continue to trust in the Lord to uphold you with His powerful hand, and to guide you with His holy counsel. When you follow the guidance of God’s holy word, He will receive you into eternal glory. “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:10-11).