14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, (2 Peter 3:14–15, NKJV)
The coming day of God will be a day of divine wrath and reward (2 Peter 3:10-13). In today’s passage, the apostle exhorts us to look forward to the events of the Lord’s return with anxious anticipation. By doing so, we will diligently live holy lives, to be found by God in peace when He comes. The fact that the Lord has not yet returned is no proof He will not return (He has promised to return, 2 Peter 3:4). Instead, it is proof of His longsuffering toward us. The Lord is giving us opportunity to repent of our sins to be saved (see 2 Peter 3:9). Christians must avoid negligent apathy, and instead, be careful to be holy every day. We are looking for “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). Lives filled with worldliness are completely out of harmony with the hope of eternal life. God wants your salvation. Repent, and live a holy life, “to be found by Him in peace without spot and blameless” when He returns.
13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13–14, NKJV)
Christ gives spiritual life to the sinner when one is “buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12). This spiritual life (salvation) could not be obtained by the “handwriting of requirements,” that is, the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses made nothing perfect (Hebrews 7:19; 10:1). Its offerings and sacrifices could never take away sins (Hebrews 10:4). Christ’s death on the cross accomplished what the Law could not, and so, by His death, Jesus took the Law of Moses out of the way. We do not go to Mt. Sinai for redemption; we go to Calvary. The Law of Moses identified sin, but it is by the gospel of Christ that we are forgiven of them (Romans 1:16-17). We are children of God through faith, not through the works of the law (Galatians 3:24-29). And, our eternal inheritance is dispensed according to the new covenant of Christ, not by the old covenant that has passed away (Hebrews 9:16-22; 8:7-13).
67 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: 68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David,” (Luke 1:67–69, NKJV)
With words of inspiration, the father of the forerunner of the Messiah, spoke forth praise unto God for His wonderful provisions of redemption. God’s plan of redemption for Israel (as well as the nations) was always spiritual in nature. In Christ Jesus, this plan is fully realized and accomplished, as salvation from sins is provided through Him (Galatians 4:4-7; Ephesians 2:11-18). Note the threefold aspect of Israel’s redemption, as proclaimed by Zacharias: 1) Its Source is supernatural. The Lord Himself visited and redeemed His people. Jesus Christ is this supernatural visitor and Redeemer (John 1:11-13); 2) Its Strength is salvation. God’s might against sin is magnified in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world (Acts 4:12); 3) Its Sovereign reigns. The Messiah sits on the throne of His father, David, ruling the kingdom of God (Luke 1:32-33; Psalm 110:1-2; Acts 2:32-36). God has sent His salvation. His name is Jesus. He calls us out of sin and into the warmth of His love and forgiveness. Come to Jesus; He will save you (Matthew 11:28-30).
16 “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” (2 Timothy 4:16–17, NKJV)
Paul’s faith did not waver as he faced impending death at the hands of lawless men (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Forsaken by friend and foe, he was not forsaken by the Lord (2 Timothy 4:10, 14). Nor did Paul expect Timothy to turn away from him, as he urged him to “Be diligent to come to me quickly” (2 Timothy 4:9). Paul paid a great price as an apostle of Christ. Truly, the Lord showed “him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). Yet even now, surrounded by enemies and facing eminent death, Paul knew his mission, and was not deterred from fully preaching the gospel. Even so, we are faithful to the Lord, knowing He promises not to abandon us in our time of need. We may take courage from the faithful example of Paul, assured that the Lord “Himself has said, ’I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say; ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
22 Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. 23 Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.” (Luke 12:22–23, NKJV)
Jesus had just warned against covetousness, by saying that “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). In contrast to materialism’s greed (which prevents being rich toward God, Luke 12:21), disciples of Christ avoid the distracting cares of this life. While we provide for ourselves and others, our faith rests in God, who supplies our material needs. We are tempted to confuse our wants with our needs. Jesus reminds us not to do so. By first seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness, our faith rests in God, not in ourselves. By doing so, we are assured that our Father in heaven will provide what we need in this life (Matthew 6:33-34). Do not be deterred from your goal of heaven by putting the material things of life before doing the will of God. Since God cares for our lives and bodies, He will certainly provide our food and clothing. Keep your faith in God, and focus on heavenly things first.
“The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” (Ezekiel 18:20, NKJV)
Personal accountability for one’s sin is a consistent, Biblical theme. We cannot blame others for the sins we commit, including our ancestors. We do not bear the guilt of Adam’s sin; we bear the guilt of our own sin. It is a deceptive, demonic doctrine that says we inherent depravity from Adam, or that we inherit a sin nature due to Adam’s sin; It is not biblical truth (1 Timothy 4:1). Without question, sin and death entered the world through Adam. But, “death passed to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). Ezekiel affirms the same truth. Each person bears the guilt of his own sin – “the soul who sins shall die.” We do not inherit sin, or righteousness. Let us cast off the false doctrine of inherited, total depravity. Our sin separates us from God. Yet, God’s marvelous mercy and grace offers us freedom from sin and death through faith in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:23; 1:16-17). By accepting personal accountability for your sin, you can be convicted, converted and saved (Acts 2:36-41).
“A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed. (Matthew 16:4, NKJV)
Jesus had just feed “four thousand men, besides women and children,” from seven loaves of bread and a few fish, with seven large baskets full of leftovers (Matthew 15:32-38)! Then, the Pharisees and Sadducees came, testing Him and asking for a sign from heaven (Matthew 16:1). They fully rejected the signs Jesus had already given them. That is why His response in today’s verse is so sharp. We cannot refuse heaven’s evidence that evokes discernment that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and then demand a sign to prove it so (Matthew 16:2-3). Faith is not blind. It is not void of substantive evidence to sustain its case. Therefore, in addition to all the signs Jesus gave while He was on earth, His resurrection from the belly of the earth would be the crowning proof He is the Son of God (John 20:30-31; Romans 1:4). And, their rejection of Him (by refusing the evidence), would be their crowning act of rebellion. Let it not be that we refuse to discern who Jesus is.
“Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread.” (Proverbs 20:13, NKJV)
Wisdom teaches us we cannot recapture wasted time. Sleep is used to describe idleness and inaction. Lack of attention to our daily tasks brings want (Proverbs 6:6-11). Loving idleness squanders the precious commodity of time. Instead of laziness, we are urged to open our eyes, see the work set before us, and then get busy addressing it. The result will be food to eat, and the satisfaction of a job well done. Jesus reminds disciples to avoid idleness when He urged personal evangelism in John 4:35: “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” He used it again when He spoke of the urgency of doing the work of God in John 9:4: “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.” You do not know how much time you have on the earth. So, use your time wisely, and enjoy temporal and eternal blessings (Ephesians 5:16).
“The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” (Proverbs 29:15, NKJV)
While God has always exalted motherhood, it is not held in the high esteem it once was. It has taken a severe hit due to the rise of feminism, and its unisex agenda. However, the facts continue to bear out what common sense tells us: The interaction of a mother with her child is crucial to the child’s development. Wall Street Journal journalist James Taranto recently reported on the findings of New York psychoanalyst Erica Komisar: “Mothers are biologically necessary for babies,” and not only for the obvious reasons of pregnancy and birth. “Babies are much more neurologically fragile than we’ve ever understood,” says Komisar, in her book, “Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters” (“The Politicization of Motherhood,” James Taranto, The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 27, 2017). Citing neuroscientist Nim Tottenham, of Columbia University, Komisar notes “that babies are born without a central nervous system,” and that “mothers are the central nervous system to babies,” especially for the first nine months after birth” (Ibid). Mothers help their children learn to interact with their world. You have a work that only you are equipped to accomplish. Young mother, do not be discouraged when the world disparages you for doing your work. You are doing God’s work, and you and your child are blessed for it.
16 Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul. 17 I cried to Him with my mouth, and He was extolled with my tongue. 18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear. 19 But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. 20 Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me! (Psalm 66:16–20, NKJV)
The psalmist was eager to tell God-fearers what God did for his soul. God heard his prayers and blessed him with mercy. Like him, we also need divine mercy. He has assured us mercy in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16). God will hear and answer the prayers of His people, who 1) Fear Him (verse 16), 2) Praise Him (verse 17), and 3) Refuse to give their attention to sin (verse 18). God did not only hear this man’s prayer, He attended to his prayer. The prayers of God’s people bring Him to action! God’s mercy is turned toward those who fear Him, trust Him, and praise Him. His mercy is given to those who refuse to approve of sin. “The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29). May we ever tell what great things God has done for our souls through His Son, Jesus Christ!