20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men?” (Colossians 2:20–22, NKJV)
Christian live for Christ and not according to the principles of the world that oppose Christ. Since we are alive in Christ we must not turn back to those things that produce spiritual death (Colossians 2:12-13). The futility and sinfulness of the commands and doctrines of men is firmly established in today’s verse. Yet, century after century heavier and heavier burdens have been laid on believers, demanding that creeds, confessions or catechisms be followed to define and determine their faithfulness to God. The religious regulations of men have no standing before the God of the Universe. Christ the King has approved no doctrine beyond what is written in His New Testament (1 Corinthians 4:6; Jude 3; 2 John 9). The gospel calls souls back to the Bible, not to being regulated by the commandments and doctrines of men. If what you believe and do cannot be found in the gospel of Christ, it is not of Christ. Lay all such things aside or you will perish with them.
20 For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; 21 lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced. (2 Corinthians 12:20–21, NKJV)
Paul wished to come to the Corinthians bringing edification instead of a sharp rebuke (2 Corinthians 12:15, 19, 13:7-10). For this to occur some would need to repent of sins they had not yet corrected. The list of transgressions in verse 20 is reflective of hearts that were not yet open to God’s will. Their sins would provoke sorrow within Paul when he arrived if not corrected by repentance. Repentance produces a change in one’s practice. Christians are called on to examine our hearts (our values, motives, thoughts, etc.) and our conduct carefully to repent and bear its godly fruit. Otherwise, we contribute to our own spiritual demise and hinder others. Use today to reflect on whether you would bring the apostle sorrow or joy should he visit you. If sorrow, then repent. If joy, then continue to do good.
And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Luke 11:4, NKJV)
Would you be forgiven of your sins if God forgave you the way you forgive others? Do you ask God to forgive you because you forgive everyone who sins against you? That is how Jesus said to pray to our heavenly Father about our forgiveness (see Matthew 6:12). God considers whether or not we forgive others when we ask Him to forgive us. Therefore, we need to examine our forgiveness of others. Forgiving those who sin against us is an action of faith which is necessary to be forgiven by the Father (Matthew 6:14; Luke 17:4-5). It is futile to expect God to forgive us when we will not forgive others. Jesus said, “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15). The devil tempts us not to forgive others. He entices us to withhold from others the very things we need from God – mercy, compassion and forgiveness. We will lose our souls if we give in to his temptation. We are delivered from the temptation to withhold forgiveness by our own need for God’s forgiveness. Remember, it is the merciful who obtain mercy (Matthew 5:7).
18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. (Philippians 3:18–19, NKJV)
Paul affirms what Jesus also taught. Many will walk in a way they think leads to heaven, but which in fact leads to destruction. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Not doing the Father’s will is undoubtedly the “broad way” He warns us of in Matthew 7:13. The broad way is where we find the enemies of the cross of Christ. We must be diligent not to be counted among that number! To avoid being an enemy of Christ we must (1) Do the will of the Father by following the word of Christ and the apostolic examples (John 12:48; Philippians 3:17), (2) Serve the desires of God and not the desires of the flesh (Romans 8:5-8), and (3) Set our minds on heavenly things (Colossians 3:2). When we follow the commands of Christ we are His friends (John 15:14). If we do not, we are His enemies. There is no third option.
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12, NKJV)
June 6, 1944. D-Day was the largest amphibious attack in history. It was a battle for the liberation of Europe and the defeat of tyrannical, dictatorial, murderous oppression. About 156,000 Allied soldiers attacked the German forces on the Normandy beaches of France that day. In less than a week, the beaches were secure, with over 4,000 Allied troops dead and many thousands more wounded. The horror of that battle is tempered only by the victory it would help secure. In less than a year Nazi Germany unconditionally surrendered to the Allied Forces. Christians, we are at war against a spiritual army of wickedness (Ephesians 6:12). The aim of this vile army is the eternal demise of you and every other soul. We must fight more valiantly, endure more bravely and trust more fervently than those brave soldiers did on D-Day. Ours is a battle for eternity. Our victory is assured in Christ as we put on His armor and stand against the devil (1 John 5:4; Ephesians 6:10-17). Onward, Christian soldiers! God has called you this battle and you have confessed your allegiance to Him. Now, fight and lay hold on eternal life!
13 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And He laid His hands on them and departed from there. (Matthew 19:13–15, NKJV)
Children provide a beautiful portrait of those to whom the kingdom of heaven belongs. Children are open, honest and enthusiastic. They are trusting, humble and innocent. So, it is not surprising that Jesus said unless we are “converted and become as little children” we will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3). Yet, here we find His disciples rebuking people for bringing children to Jesus for His blessing. With a gentle reminder Jesus reinforced that we must never hinder those who come to Him for His blessing. Just as Jesus readily received the children, God readily receives every sinner who comes to Him with a child’s heart of faith, anxious to please Him with humble conversion and obedience (Acts 3:19; Matthew 7:21). It is completely out of character for a Christian to become a stumbling block to someone seeking Christ’s blessing (Matthew 18:4-6). Let us be sure we are always helping people come to Christ and never hindering them.
12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. (Philippians 1:12–14, NKJV)
What begins as a trial may become the very moment of great blessings. Divine providence turns trials into opportunities and burdens into boldness. Paul had been imprisoned for more than four years for preaching the gospel (two years in Caesarea and two years in Rome, Acts 24:27; 28:30). Threats from his countrymen, injustice from rulers and shipwreck in the deep were among the obstacles he faced on his journey to Rome. Yet, these things turned out as a great opportunity for the gospel to spread and for fellow-Christians to be emboldened with confidence to courageously speak the word of God. When you are faced with a burden, a trial, or even persecution for your faith, do not lose heart. God is giving you an opportunity to rely on His power instead of your own. His spiritual provisions will sustain you while His gospel strengthens and saves others. So, keep fighting the good fight of faith and see the possibilities rather than the hindrances (1 Timothy 6:12).
38 But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them. Yes, many a time He turned His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath; 39 For He remembered that they were but flesh, a breath that passes away and does not come again. (Psalm 78:38–39, NKJV)
God shows repeated kindness and mercy to us. With reoccurring compassion, God did not fully destroy His people when Israel sinned against Him over and over. Psalm 78 rehearses the sad history of Israel’s rebellion against God. He gave Israel great and marvelous blessings by delivering His people from Egyptian slavery and sustaining them through the wilderness on the way to the promised land. Yet, Israel continually rebelled against God and provoked His wrath. He punished them, but He also had compassion on them by not pouring out His full wrath upon them. God shows “mercy to thousands, to those who love (Him) and keep (His) commandments” (Exodus 20:6). While He is “slow to anger and great in power,” He “will not at all acquit the wicked” (Nahum 1:3). God’s forgiveness is abundant. He is ready and able to forgive. But we must not tempt God by refusing His will, thinking His mercy gives us freedom to sin. Like Israel, we must turn away from our sins, love Him and keep His commands (Luke 13:3, 5; 1 John 1:9). God knows our failures and sins. He is full of compassion and forgiveness. Turn to Him for mercy to escape His wrath.
36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:36–38, NKJV)
“I want to be a worker for the Lord” is a sentiment we put in our hearts in song and by the instruction of God’s word. Today’s passage teaches at least three things we must possess to be workers for the Lord. First, we must be conscious of the lost (v. 36). We must see the souls around us as God sees them. We are in contact with lost souls every day who need rescuing from sin. Second, we must be moved with compassion toward the lost. We must be driven to help them find the Good Shepherd who can lead them to green pastures of spiritual rest and fulfillment. Third, we must have commitment to be a worker. Commitment toward doing God’s work drives us to pray for laborers and prompts us to be laborers. We must labor when we are hopeful, and we must labor when we grow weary (Galatians 6:9-10). The Lord’s harvest is ready. Souls are lost, and salvation is available. The gospel is God’s power to save. Let us labor every day to take the gospel to the lost and to bring in the Lord’s harvest.
10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, (Ephesians 3:10–11, NKJV)
Paul acknowledges the great grace he was given to preach to the nations the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8). By preaching the gospel everyone can see how God dispenses the riches of human redemption (Ephesians 3:9). What had previously been a mystery (hidden) is now revealed to all. God’s eternal purpose to redeem sinners is accomplished in Christ Jesus (v. 11). The church (the redeemed) manifests the immeasurable wisdom of God to all who are in places of spiritual rule and power (v. 10). It is futile to view the church as nonessential and disposable. If the church is not essential, then neither is making known God’s manifold wisdom. If the church is not essential, then neither is its part in God’s eternal purpose of redemption. Yes, the church is essential. By definition, it is the saved ones who belong to Christ (Matthew 16:18). The church is central to God’s eternal purpose and makes known His wisdom. Instead of minimizing the church, we must exalt it. Instead of saying the church is optional, we must honor it as a vital part of God’s eternal purpose.