But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)
Thanksgiving Day is here, reminding us to always be thankful to God. The greatest blessing of all is our victory over sin and death through the Lord Jesus Christ. Sin has been utterly defeated by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Therefore:
1) Be thankful today for God’s grace, by which Jesus died for everyone and brought salvation to all who will believe and obey (Hebrews 2:9; Titus 2:11).
2) Be thankful today that you have received God’s gift of salvation by your obedient faith to Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 5:8-9; Romans 6:17-18).
Death has been utterly defeated by the resurrection of Christ from the dead. The empty tomb is a constant memorial to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God and that he has complete power over death (Romans 1:4; Revelation 1:18). Therefore:
1) Be thankful today that death is no longer fearful – Jesus replaced the fear of death with confident hope (Hebrews 2:14-15).
2) Be thankful today that death will be your doorway into eternal joy, peace and life (Philippians 1:21).
God gives us no greater blessing than victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God!
(Revision of Sword Tips #12)
Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments. (Psalm 112:1, NKJV)
This psalm calls on us to give celebratory adulation of thanks to Jehovah. It reveals the result of such praise, while explaining who actually praises the Lord, and why. The blessing of His favor is the outcome of giving God the praise He is due. The source of acceptable praise comes from a heart that fears the Lord. This person obtains His good favor. Cries of hallelujah (“praise Jehovah” or “praise the Lord”) must combine with genuine reverence for them to be regarded by the Lord and responded to favorably by Him. Nor do we have to wonder who it is that fears the Lord, for it is spelled out here. Fearing God is tantamount to delighting completely in His commandments. We fear God by desiring, cherishing and following His commands. And so, by taking pleasure in His commands, we wholeheartedly praise His name. At this thanksgiving season (and every day), may we delight in the Lord’s commands, rejoice in His good blessings, and thankfully praise His name.
“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14, NKJV)
Patient endurance in the face of trials is a virtue of faith. When faced with a situation that calls for waiting, some do so out of anger, ready to exact revenge on their oppressor (Romans 12:17-21). Some wait with distressed hearts, anxious over an outcome that is beyond their ability to see (Matthew 6:34). Others wait with boredom and complacency, disinterested in the events to come. But, the one whose heart is set on the Lord is not deterred from trusting Him. David exemplified the patient endurance of faith: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1). When enemies surrounded him, he would not be afraid (Psalm 27:3). Patient endurance requires courage to trust the Lord’s deliverance, and to keep on fighting. David’s ability to patiently endure trials was anchored in his desire to seek the Lord and dwell in His presence (Psalm 27:4-5). Whatever trial you face, continue living faithfully to the Lord. Be strengthened, and be bold. He will strengthen your heart, and you will see the goodness of the Lord (Psalm 27:13).
20 Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares. 21 She cries out in the chief concourses, at the openings of the gates in the city she speaks her words: 22 “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge.” (Proverbs 1:20–22, NKJV)
King Solomon personifies wisdom in this passage. She cries out in open venues, offering her instruction and blessings to all who will acknowledge her. But, she is not met with ready reception. Instead, she is met with scorn and mockery. A knowledge of her ways begins with “the fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 1:7). Her ways are held in contempt by fools; they hate the knowledge she offers (verse 22). And so, they live foolishly, spurning the rewards of her righteous counsel (Proverbs 8:8). Her words of truth warn of sin’s danger, but, fools “hate knowledge,” and “mock at sin” (Proverbs 14:9). Such foolishness primes one to be seduced and destroyed by evil (cf. Proverbs 6:20-29; 7:1-7). Listen to wisdom when she calls. She speaks truth. Her words contain righteousness. They are plain, and they are right. Knowledge of her ways is more valuable than silver, gold, and precious gems (Proverbs 8:5-11). The wise agree; the foolish mock. Which are you?
You have wearied the Lord with your words; “Yet you say, “In what way have we wearied Him?” In that you say, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, And He delights in them,” Or, “Where is the God of justice?” (Malachi 2:17, NKJV)
As when Israel wearied Jehovah in the fifth century BC, God must surely be weary today when He hears Christians denying His just standard of evil and good. Wearing the name of Christ never gives one the right to call good, that which God calls evil. In effect, this would be like saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in Him.” For example, increasingly, Christians deny the sin of immodest clothing offends the Lord, although He has revealed standards of moral purity that forbid the display of one’s own nakedness (1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:2-4; cf. Isaiah 47:2-3). One cannot “put on Christ” and still “put on” the worldly attire of indecency. Christians who refuse to respect and follow what God’s word declares to be just, cannot expect Him to delight in them, and bless their disrespectful treatment of Him. The God of justice is where He has always been, and He is “ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5). May we never “call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20).
4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” 6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:4–6, NKJV)
The appearance of Jesus to Saul the persecutor of Christ brought this violent unbeliever to faith that Jesus was alive. Saul, who had been “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord,” now yields his will completely to the will of Jesus: “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Saul would be told what to do in the city of Damascus. After three days of prayer and fasting, Jesus sent the preacher Ananias to him, who told him what to do: “And now, why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). The vision did not wash away his sins. Three days of prayer and fasting did not wash away his sins (Acts 9:9, 11). Water baptism washed away his sins (because the sinner is baptized into Christ’s death, where His saving blood is applied to sins, Romans 6:3). Do not kick against the goads, and refuse water baptism to wash away your sins. It is what Jesus says you must do, too (Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21).
22 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin. (Romans 14:22–23, NKJV)
The personal “faith” of which Paul speaks here, is one’s personal confidence (trust) of conscience to participate in a God-approved liberty. Paul adds a warning not to violate one’s conscience in using these liberties: “But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin” (v. 23). His exhortation and warning about one’s conscience and God-allowed liberties agrees with his earlier statement, “Let each be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5). Today’s passage is not at all suggesting that every person decides for himself what is sin, and what is not. God sets that standard, and when we violate it, we sin (John 17:17; 1 John 3:4; Romans 3:23). Before we engage in an activity, we must be sure from Scripture that it has God’s approval (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). In matters of liberty (a God-allowed, but not compulsory, action), our conscience must be clear. We must not violate our conscience in these liberties, nor force our conscience upon others (Romans 14:13-16).