1 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.” (John 17:1–2, NKJV)
The time had arrived for the Father to glorify the Son, and for the Son to glorify the Father. Soon, Jesus would die on the cross for the sins of the world. Although the world viewed His crucifixion as the execution of a man worthy of death, it was the very act that accomplished God’s plan for the salvation of sinners (Isaiah 53:3-5, 10-12). By His death, the Son of God executed His authority over sin. By that same authority, He gives eternal life to His followers. The gospel of Christ proclaims eternal life is in Christ, and that without Him, there is only eternal death: “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11–12). Now is the time to obediently submit to Christ’s authority and be saved (Matthew 28:18-19). Now is the time to obey the Son for His fellowship now, and throughout eternity (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 5:8-9).
50 Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” (John 7:50–51, NKJV)
Appearances can be deceiving. One part of judging righteous judgment is getting all the facts before rendering said judgment (John 7:24). This includes hearing testimony from the one being judged. The Jewish leaders in John 7 had already made up their minds about Jesus. When Nicodemus challenged them to hear from Jesus and verify His actions before condemning him, they reacted with calloused mockery: “Are you also from Galilee?” (John 7:52). Righteous judgment is anchored in truth, no appearances. It rests upon verifiable evidence, not assumptions. When we are called upon to render judgment, may we do so with justice, not self-justification; and with love, not malice.
1 Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1–3, NKJV)
This three-fold promise God made to Abram (Abraham) forms the thesis statement of the rest of the Bible. Its pages show God keeping His promise to make a great nation of Abraham’s offspring when He brought out the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage, and established Israel as a holy nation (Genesis 12:2; Exodus 19:4-6). The Scriptures show God keeping His promise to give the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham (“To your descendants I will give this land,” Genesis 12:7, 1). God kept His word as He promised, and gave Israel “all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers” (Joshua 21:43-45; Nehemiah 9:7-8). The Scriptures show God keeping His promise to bless all nations through the Seed of Abraham (Genesis 12:3; 22:18). In Jesus Christ, “the blessing of Abraham” (redemption from sin) is available to all flesh (Galatians 3:14, 16, 22-29; 4:4-6). Let us praise God for His matchless wisdom, glory, power, love, mercy and grace! Salvation is only through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). The Bible teaches us how to be saved in Him (Acts 2:36-41; 10:34-35). The Bible is truly remarkable, and invaluable (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
11 “Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.” (Genesis 9:11–15, NKJV)
God keeps His word. Always. The rainbow in the clouds reminds us of the covenant God made with humanity, to never again destroy the world with a flood. We know skeptic scoffs at the notion of a worldwide flood. But, recall they also scoffed at Jesus on the cross (Matthew 27:39-44). Such mockery does not deter us (2 Peter 3:5-7). Also, please notice that God established His covenant with Noah and his descendants. That covenant was unconditional. Today, God’s covenant (the new covenant of Christ, Hebrews 8:6-13), contains conditions we must meet to obtain its blessings of salvation (Acts 10:34-35). Meeting God’s conditions is not a negotiation, nor is it earning the blessing. God is Sovereign, and has established His covenant. God says He will bless us when we obey Him. God keeps His word. Always.
1 And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. (Mark 3:1–2, NKJV)
Why do you look at Jesus? Mark tells us why the Pharisees and Herodians watched Jesus: to accuse Him (see Mark 3:6). They did not see in Jesus a teacher of good news, who showed heaven’s mercy by miraculously healing the afflicted, and who brought news of salvation from sin (Mark 3:3-5; 1:14-15). They did not see the Son of God. No, they saw a man who did not honor their Sabbath traditions (Mark 2:23-28). This, they could not abide. So, they watched Jesus closely, so they could bring charges against Him as a Sabbath-breaker and an evil man. Again, we ask, why do you look at Jesus? Do you look to Jesus as your Lord, who has authority over your words and deeds? Do you look at Jesus with humble submission, and do His will? Or, do you look at Jesus to find fault, or to rationalize away your sins? Why we look at Jesus is crucial in determining what we see when we look at Him. The Pharisees and Herodians saw a Sabbath-breaker. His apostles saw the “Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Who do you see?
1 And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. 2 Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. (Mark 2:1–2, NKJV)
As the crowds gathered around Jesus, “He preached the word to them.” It is no secret that preaching is not in high demand, nor held in high regard today. The general population disdains Bible preaching, for it exposes sin to the light of God’s truth. Frequently, the worldly conclude that when one preaches a moral and doctrinal message, he is “judging” them – and he is evil to do so! Yet, Jesus was not bashful to proclaim heaven’s word to the very ones who needed heaven’s mercy and salvation. He did not shy away from expecting sinners to have active faith in Him to be saved by Him (Mark 2:3-5). When Jesus preached, He demanded that sinners repent, or perish (Luke 13:1-5). May we not preach God’s word today, knowing it possesses the same authority today that it had when Jesus preached it? Indeed; We can, and we must (2 Timothy 4:1-2; Titus 2:15). When we preach the word, we proclaim God’s truth and love, extended to a lost and dying world. We proclaim the reality of sin, death, and salvation (Romans 6:23; Matthew 7:21-23). Like Jesus and His apostles, we urge repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21; 26:19-20). We must never stop preaching the word.
46 “How long, LORD? Will You hide Yourself forever? Will Your wrath burn like fire? 47 Remember how short my time is; For what futility have You created all the children of men? 48 What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave?” (Psalm 89:46–48, NKJV)
Yes, none of us will escape death. Long before 19th-century Australian poet Francis Duggan penned “Death the Great Equalizer,” the preacher Solomon wrote a similar, inspired refrain (Ecclesiastes 9:2-3). The imminence of death drove the psalmist to beg God to act with swiftness and remember His covenant with David, and remove the reproaches that had befallen Israel because of her sins. God did just that, by sending His Son, Jesus Christ (Luke 1:67-79). We are compelled to get right with God by knowing the reality of death, and the truth that God keeps His covenant. The covenant of Christ offers mercy to sinners who believe, repent and obey the Son (Matthew 11:28-30; Mark 16:15-16). But, it also contains the warning of sure wrath against those who “do not obey the truth” (Romans 2:8). Death is certain. Your money, fame, popularity, pleasure, or anything else of this world, will prevent your death. Thank God, Jesus overcame death (Revelation 1:18). He will save you, if you will come to Him (Acts 4:12).
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” (James 4:13–15, NKJV)
As a new year dawns, we take stock on the past while anticipating the future. The past year records our successes and failures, our struggles and victories, our joys and sorrows. The new year holds out hope of better days and greater accomplishments. Resolutions are made, plans are laid, and the work to achieve them begins. Yet, life is uncertain, and life is brief. A life well-lived is a life that depends upon God; a life that acknowledges God, and puts God’s will first each day. Better to live with this resolve, “Thy will be done,” than to live as if our will ultimately makes it so. It is the height of hubris to ignore God in one’s life. As you celebrate the new year, and plan great things to come, remember the Lord’s will. Do His will first, and you will be blessed, whatever the new year brings (Matthew 6:33-34).