Judging by Outward Appearances #1386

Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s. (2 Corinthians 10:7, NKJV)

Things are not always as they appear. Certainly, we must be careful of our appearance and the influence we leave on others (1 Timothy 2:9-10; 4:12). But, that is not the subject of this passage. This verse warns us not to make judgments based merely on outward appearances. When we do, we are liable to be mistaken, and even deceived (John 7:24). By doing so we have forgotten a fundamental trait of God that ought to inform our discernment: God looks at the heart instead of outward appearances (1 Samuel 16:7). Here, some Christians were trying to undermine the apostolic authority of Paul. Using carnal tactics, they complained about the strength of his epistles versus his bodily presence (2 Corinthians 10:9-10). They suggested Paul was not fully an apostle (2 Corinthians 11:5-6; 12:11-12). They compared themselves with themselves and boasted in their faithfulness (2 Corinthians 10:12, 7). On the other hand, Paul would only boast in the Lord and the work he was given to accomplish (2 Corinthians 10:13-17). Let us be careful not to use outward appearances to compare ourselves to others. Remember, “not he who commends himself is approved; but whom the Lord commends” (2 Corinthians 10:18).

When the Last Enemy is Destroyed #1385

25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:25–28, NKJV)

Jesus Christ is reigning at the right hand of God, “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Ephesians 1:21). He is King today, and will continue to reign until death – the “last enemy” – is destroyed at the resurrection of the dead. Only God the Father, who gave all authority to the Son, and to whom the kingdom will be delivered, is exempt from being under the Son’s powerful authority (Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:20-23). Christ’s return will be the grand summation of God’s plan of human redemption. The delivery of the kingdom to God the Father will usher in the everlasting kingdom in which righteousness dwells and over which God will reign forever and ever (2 Peter 1:11; 3:13; Revelation 21:22-22:5). The gospel calls us to submit to the authority of Christ with full, obedient faith. By doing so we are preparing to live with Him forever when He returns (John 14:1-6).

Then Comes the End #1384

23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:23–26, NKJV)

All who die will be raised from the dead because Jesus was raised (1 Corinthians 15:20-22). The resurrection of the dead will be orderly, not haphazard or random. Christ’s empty tomb signaled His defeat of physical death and began the resurrection of the dead. When Jesus returns, those who are His, as well as those who are condemned, will be raised (John 5:28-29). With the resurrection completed, judgment will occur, and Christ will deliver the kingdom to God the Father (Acts 17:31, Hebrews 9:27). Here is a prominent and pivotal truth: Christ will not return to establish the kingdom. When He returns, He will deliver the kingdom to the Father. The kingdom of God exists today; it is the church of Christ (Matthew 16:18-19; Mark 9:1; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 29-36, 41, 47). The end or conclusion will occur when Christ comes and raises the dead. If the kingdom begins when Jesus returns, then that is not the end. But, when Christ returns all enemies will have been vanquished, the last one being death itself. When Christ returns, the King and His kingdom will be victoriously presented to God the Father.

Resurrection of the Dead #1383

20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:20–22, NKJV)

The resurrection of Christ is the keystone of the gospel. Without it, the entire structure of human redemption from sin and death through Jesus Christ crumbles to the ground (1 Corinthians 15:14-19). With it, Christ is powerfully declared to be the Son of God (Romans 1:4). His resurrection from the dead proves all the dead will be raised (1 Corinthians 15:12-13). (Please note that this passage addresses bodily death and bodily resurrection.) Christ’s resurrection from the dead is described as the firstfruits – the beginning – of the resurrection of all the dead (Acts 26:23). Under the Law of Moses, the firstfruits of harvest were dedicated to the Lord, indicating the full harvest was a blessing from His hand (Exodus 23:19; Leviticus 23:10; Deuteronomy 26:1-11). In like manner, Christ’s resurrection assures us that all who experience physical death as a result of Adam will be raised from the dead (Genesis 3:19). Jesus said the time will come when “all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth” (John 5:28-29). Death will not end your existence. You will be raised from the dead to either eternal life or eternal condemnation (John 5:29). Get ready for your resurrection by always following Jesus Christ.

The Fair-Minded Bereans #1382

10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. (Acts 17:10–12, NKJV)

The Berean Jews were more noble-minded than the envious Jews in Thessalonica, who had rejected the gospel and threatened the Christians (Acts 17:5-9, 13). The Bereans’ ability to listen to what Paul and Silas said and then to search the Scriptures to assess its accuracy, was a result of their “readiness” of mind. They were predisposed with an eager enthusiasm to hear, know and follow God’s will. Their hearts were good and honest, so that when they discerned the apostle’s message was truth, they readily believed it (Luke 8:15; Acts 17:12). We must have minds that are fair and free of prejudice to examine, understand and follow God’s word. We will not receive the word when our minds are closed by envy, pride, self-satisfaction, or other obstacles which prevent a fair hearing and examination of God’s word. Our goal is to hear, know and follow the truth of God. We will achieve our objective by preparing our hearts to receive the word. Then, we can examine the Scriptures daily and follow the truth of God.

Teachers of Israel #1381

9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?” (John 3:9–10, NKJV)

Nicodemus should have understood what Jesus said about being born again of water and the Spirit (John 3:1-8). After all, he was a teacher of Israel. Teachers who do not understand what they teach are poor educators. Uninformed and misinformed teachers harm their students and themselves. Therefore, teachers must be willing to accept instruction (2 Timothy 2:2; Romans 2:21). Scripture warns of those who stray and turn aside to idle talk, “desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm” (1 Timothy 1:7). Such “teachers of Israel” make confident assertions without comprehending what they say. These “teachers of Israel” make confident assertions without comprehending what they say. This sort of teacher accommodates his teaching to his audience (2 Timothy 4:3-4). This sort of teacher becomes the false teacher who brings in destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1). Teachers of God’s word are commanded to take heed to themselves and to what they teach (1 Timothy 4:15-16). Teachers have the responsibility to teach the truth, and are held accountable by God for what they teach (James 3:1).

No Other Doctrine #1380

3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. (1 Timothy 1:3–4, NKJV)

Is doctrine essential or nonessential to your faith and fellowship with God? Undoubtedly, there was a particular doctrine that was to be taught in Ephesus. All other doctrines were to cease. Timothy was to charge teachers to “teach no other doctrine” than the one that produces “godly edification which is in faith.” Doctrine means teaching, and it is essential that one’s teaching (doctrine) conforms with God’s truth, the Scriptures. Therefore, doctrine must be “sound” (1 Timothy 1:10), “good” (1 Timothy 4:6), given attention (1 Timothy 4:13), and continued in (1 Timothy 4:16). Doctrine must be God’s (1 Timothy 6:1), and it must conform to godliness (1 Timothy 6:3). Apostolic doctrine must be “carefully followed” (2 Timothy 3:10). It must agree with the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16), and it must not be rejected (2 Timothy 4:3). Anyone who says doctrine is not essential to your salvation and fellowship with God is not teaching and applying 2 John 9 properly: “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.” Oh yes, doctrine matters.

Private Passion #1379

Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. (2 Samuel 11:2, NKJV)

Solitude is not necessarily conducive to godliness. Isolation can give rise to temptations of the flesh. King David should have been leading his army on the field of battle. Instead, he stayed behind in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 11:1). Restless and alone, he went to the cool of the roof and saw the beautiful wife of Uriah. This was not a mere glance; David gazed upon her, inspected and gave attention to her beauty while she bathed. He lusted after her, inquired about her, and took her into the bed of adultery, then murdered her husband (2 Samuel 11:3-17). We must never let down our guard against sin’s temptations. Sins of the flesh often begin in the secrecy of darkness (John 3:19-20; 1 Thessalonians 5:5-8). Pornography and all manner of sexual immorality thrive when people are alone (or think they are alone). Private sins never escape God’s attention. God saw what David did (2 Samuel 11:27; Hebrews 4:13). If you are struggling with private sins, hold yourself accountable to someone you can call on for help. Pray for God’s help (Hebrews 4:16). Get busy doing God’s work. Don’t isolate yourself and give the devil a place to exploit. Build a wall of protection around your heart. If you have already yielded to sin, you can repent and be forgiven. David did, and God forgave him (Psalm 32:3-5).

Mother’s Words #1378

20 My son, keep your father’s command, and do not forsake the law of your mother. 21 Bind them continually upon your heart; Tie them around your neck. (Proverbs 6:20–21, NKJV)

Mother’s Words

Are gentle words, calming a troubled heart.

Are reassuring words, igniting courage in a fainting heart.

Are correcting words, guiding little feet in paths of righteousness.

Are kind words, influencing the next generation.

Are wise words, turning you from worldly foolishness and sin.

Are faithful words, urging you to obey the word of God.

Are consistent words, instilling godly values and moral living.

Are affectionate words, giving comfort, security and peace.

Are warning words when you go astray.

Are abiding words of love and devotion.

Mothers are a blessing from God! Thank God for your mother, and thank your mother for the blessing she is in your life.

Jesus, the Obedient Son #1377

Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. (Luke 2:51, NKJV)

Jesus was an obedient child. He intentionally subjected himself to the nurturing of his parents, just as God still expects children to do (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1-3). While some may think 12-year-old Jesus did not obey his parents when he lingered behind in Jerusalem following the Passover, we do not agree with that conclusion at all. As Jesus passed from childhood (“child,” Luke 2:40) to adolescence (“boy,” Luke 2:43) his spiritual life also matured (Luke 2:52). This is revealed in how he answered his parents. Joseph and Mary should have known where to look for Jesus, he said, because they should have known he “must be about my Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). His obedience to his parents is the model for children today. Growing up does not mean you do not have to obey your parents, it means obeying them in a responsible way. Like every mother, as Jesus grew to adulthood, Mary treasured in her heart all the things he said and did. As you transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, leave your parents good memories of respectful obedience to keep in their hearts, not rebellious opposition. Jesus shows you how.