Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. (Revelation 1:3, NKJV)
Regular Bible reading is very important. But, reading without listening to its message gives no lasting spiritual profit. One may have bragging rights to say, “I read through the Bible every year,” but without actually understanding and following its teachings, such a boost is vain glory. Without keeping the words of divine revelation, reading alone cannot prepare one for God’s purposes. God’s blessing is assured when we read and listen to God’s declarations, and then conform to what is written. This assurance is given throughout the Scriptures (see Psalm 119:33-35; Ephesians 3:3-4; 1 Timothy 4:13-16). Spend time with the Bible. Listen to what God has said by His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). Keep His words in your heart and obey them in your life. God fulfills all His purposes, and by following the inspired guideline in today’s verse, you will be ready when He does all that He has promised.
5 Your calf is rejected, O Samaria! My anger is aroused against them— How long until they attain to innocence? 6 For from Israel is even this: A workman made it, and it is not God; But the calf of Samaria shall be broken to pieces. 7 They sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no bud; It shall never produce meal. If it should produce, aliens would swallow it up. (Hosea 8:5–7, NKJV)
From the “excellent sacrifice” Abel offered God “by faith,” to the worship contained in the new covenant of Christ, God has always demanded reverent homage that obeys His revealed instructions concerning approved worship (Hebrews 11:4; John 4:23-24; Acts 20:7). It was a great sin when Jeroboam distorted Jehovah worship by building two golden calves for Samaria as an alternative to worshiping at the temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 12:25-33). Even as Hosea prophesied, God was preparing to destroy the calf and the people who had flocked to it to worship. Israel sowed the wind of nothingness by honoring the graven image, and was about to reap the whirlwind of divine judgment. Whether an individual or a nation, beware when sin becomes the pattern and purpose of existence. The whirlwind of God’s destruction is not far behind. Only by repenting of sin and turning to God through His Son Jesus Christ will reaping the whirlwind be avoided (Acts 4:12; 26:20; Romans 2:1-6).
And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful. (Titus 3:14, NKJV)
We must not only learn to walk in good works, we must also learn to maintain them (Ephesians 2:10; 5:2, 8, 15). The word Paul used for “maintain” in today’s verse means to “stand before” or to “preside” (Strong’s). We must learn to preside over our conduct by continuing to do good works without neglect. Instead of losing interest in doing good, we must supervise our attitudes so that we look for opportunities to do what is good and right. Paul said, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:9-10). By maintaining good works we are able to meet the essential needs that arise (“urgent needs”), fruitfully fulfilling the Lord’s work. A diligent heart to do God’s will keeps on practicing good works. Without supervising our hearts, weariness and apathy will lead us to neglect our responsibility to do good to all.
5 But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:5–7, NKJV)
Perhaps is it hard for us to imagine a situation where it would be better that Christ was not personally with His apostles. Yet, that is what Jesus told them to assure them in their time of sorrow, just hours before He was arrested, tried, abused and crucified. Sorrow filled their hearts as Jesus told them of betrayal and denial within their own ranks, of His departure and death, and of the world’s hatred for both Him and them (John 13:18-16:4). Yet, Jesus was telling them the truth (verse 7). Sometimes truth is hard to hear, but truth is what we always need to hear. In fact, an advantage would come to them from Christ because He was leaving them. He would send them the Holy Spirit, the Helper (advocate, comforter), whose presence and work would empower them to accomplish their apostolic tasks (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4). When things seem their darkest, we should remember God has blessings for us in Christ. His blessings renew our spirits and invigorate our faith, helping us accomplish the good works God has prepared for us to do (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6-7, 2:10).
1 Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; 2 for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 4:1–2, NKJV)
While some say obeying the commands of God is not essential for eternal salvation in Christ, the apostle encourages Christians to abound more and more in that very lifestyle. The word “ought” conveys a moral obligation. That is, we are morally required before God to walk (live) so as to please Him (2 Corinthians 5:9). Living to please God is accomplished by keeping the commandments we have been given by the apostles “through the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 14:37). Stay the course of faithfully obeying the commands of the Lord Jesus, and Christ will give you eternal life (Hebrews 5:8-9). We can never be content with not pleasing God, as if our sin carries no eternal consequence. They do. Therefore, let us “abound more and more” in a life of faith that keeps the commands of God.
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38–39, NKJV)
The Bible records many promises of God, but, three He made to Abram are especially profound. God promised a nation, a land and a seed to Abram (Genesis 12:1-3, 7; 22:18). The Bible is a record of God keeping these promises. The nation promise was fulfilled when Israel became a nation after being delivered from Egyptian bondage (Exodus 19:5-6). God kept the land promise to Israel when they invaded Canaan and “took possession of it and dwelt in it” (Joshua 21:43; 23:14; Nehemiah 9:7-8, 24). The promise that “in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” was restated to king David and fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Acts 13:22-26; Galatians 3:15-16). Thus, God’s promise to bless the whole world (Jews and Gentiles) is fulfilled Jesus, the Savior of the world (Acts 13:23, 32-34). As Paul preached, “Let it be known to you, brethren, that through is Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 13:38). The “blessing of Abraham” is salvation in Christ, spiritual relief and life from sin’s bondage and death (Acts 3:19; Galatians 3:14). Those who repent and are baptized for the remission of sins have the promise (Galatians 3:22, 26-29). They are saved! Let us thank and praise God for keeping His promises.
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2:9–10, NKJV)
If the incentives for proclaiming the praises God of verse 9 are not enough, Peter now expands upon our spiritual condition before we answered God’s call to salvation. By doing so he gives crucial insight into our priestly service unto God. In the darkness of sin we were without faith and hope. Aliens and strangers to God, we were not God’s people. As we lived under the dark forces of Satan our allegiance was only to the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:13). But now, people of faith are the people of God who have been given heavenly citizenship (Philippians 3:20). Likewise, we were without mercy under the rule of Satan as we were held in the merciless bondage of sin (John 8:34). But now we have received mercy from God in Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5). Because we are the recipients of God’s compassionate forgiveness we are compelled to proclaim His matchless grace to others. Once aliens, we are now citizens. Once oppressed, we are now forgiven. The grace of God we have in Christ demands we proclaim His excellence and serve Him faithfully (Titus 2:11-12). May we keep our charge with diligent faith.