Peace through the Blood of Jesus #1720

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. (Ephesians 2:13–16, NKJV)

The blood of Jesus brings the nations near to God (Eph. 2:11-12). Access to redemption of the soul from sin in Christ is available to the whole world – both Jews and Gentiles (Rom. 1:16-17). This was a joyous message to Gentiles in the first century, and it continues to be so. Peace with God is not dependent upon your physical ancestry, but upon your faith in Christ (Rom. 4:16; 9:6-8). Christ is the means of our peace with God and with our fellow man. The law of Moses, which identified sin for the Jews, also presented a barrier between the Jews from the Gentiles (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:22-25). The death of Jesus abolished (vanquished) that barrier as it “broke down the middle wall of separation” (v. 14). The new man that is created in Christ is not fashioned after the “law of commandments contained in ordinances” (v. 15), but after Christ Himself. The “one new man” signifies the unity of the body of Christ, His church (v. 16). Thank God we have peace with God in the church by the blood of Jesus (v. 13).

Words By Which You Will Be Saved #1719

13 And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, ‘Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, 14 who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.’ (Acts 11:13–14, NKJV)

Many well-meaning people have been deceived to believe their salvation depends on a supernatural experience – perhaps it’s speaking in tongues, perhaps it’s a vision, perhaps it’s a warm burning inside they interpret as the Holy Spirit confirming the truth of their conversion – none of which are taught in the New Testament as the means or the basis of one’s salvation. Peter’s rehearsal of the events at the house of Cornelius helps us understand the way God saves the lost. Cornelius was a moral, religious, charitable man of good reputation, yet lost (Acts 10:10:1-2, 22; 11:14). An angel visited him, instructing him to send for Peter to hear words from him, which he did (Acts 10:3-6, 22, 32-33). While doing so, the Holy Spirit miraculously confirmed that Gentiles can be saved just like Jews (Acts 10:34-43, 44-47; 11:15-17). With that, Peter “commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:48). This convinced the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem that “God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life” (Acts 11:18; 15:7-11). It ought to convince us, too. God’s way to salvation is hearing and believing the gospel, confessing faith, repenting of sins, and being baptized to be saved (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-38, 41).

Do Not Love Sleep #1718

Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread. (Proverbs 20:13, NKJV)

Sleep is necessary for our minds and bodies to rest, repair and revitalize. As our Creator, it is obvious God knows this and made us this way. Today’s proverb does not warn against sleep, but against loving sleep. While sleep is beneficial, there are things we cannot do when we are asleep. We cannot work and earn a living, we cannot communicate with others, and we cannot be alert to potential dangers. We should view sleep as utilitarian, not utopian. It serves good and helpful purposes, but it is not an end in itself. Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4). He used the time He had to diligently do the Father’s will. Whether it is our daily jobs that provide food and sustenance for ourselves and our families, or our spiritual endeavors to walk in the good works God has prepared for us, we must open our eyes, get up out of bed, and get to work (1 Tim. 5:8; Eph. 2:10). When we do our part, God promises to do His (Matt. 6:25-34). Otherwise, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep— So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man” (Prov. 6:10-11).

The Power of Our Words #1717

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21, NKJV)

The tongue is very powerful. With it we can bless God and curse men – almost at the same time (although it ought not be so, Jas. 3:9-10). Solomon assures us we will reap what we sow concerning the words we speak. Since this is true of the spoken word, it is also true of the words we speak online. Posting on websites and social media gives us no license to be rude, crude, unkind, profane and hurtful to others. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms are too frequently launching pads for hateful assaults, bitter criticisms, and malicious attacks. Words can cut deeper than a knife, often maiming or killing a person’s good reputation, a friendship, a marriage, or even a life. So, be careful what you post on social media. Our words reveals our hearts, and God is the great heart-knower to whom we all are accountable (Matt. 12:34-35; Acts 1:24; Heb. 4:13). Monitor your words online – what you post will be there for a very long time. Will your words bear the fruit of death or life?

“God’s Minister, An Avenger to Execute Wrath” #1716

For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” (Romans 13:4, NKJV)

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Allied invasion of Europe on the beaches of Normandy, France. Their goal was to liberate a continent captured in the grip of Nazism. Their success continues to be felt to this present hour. As we honor the sacrifices of that day and the freedom it signaled for millions of souls, we ought to remember it is God who ordains civil authorities. The governments of men are intended by Him to execute justice, and to apply punishment (wrath) to evildoers. Therefore, we are to submit to governing authorities out of our respect for God (Rom. 13:1-3). They are God’s servants for us to administer what is good. But, what happens when governments before evil and oppressive? Since God rules the nations, He raises them up and He brings them down when their rulers and their citizens refuse righteousness (Prov. 14:34; Dan. 4:28-35). We must keep on doing good and not take personal vengeance against evil. Instead, we are to give place to the wrath of God: “for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:17-19). He did. And, He continues to do so. Let the righteous be patient, and “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:20-21).

A Warning Against False Teachers #1715

These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; (Jude 12, NKJV)

Some believe it matters not what you teach, believe, and do to serve God, as long as you are sincere. Jesus taught differently (read Matt. 7:21-23). So did Jude in today’s verse. Jude warned Christians against false teachers, whose error corrupts the grace and destines them to destruction (Jude 4-11). Jude explains: 1) False teachers are spots (hidden reefs) in your love feasts. They are like unseen dangers lurching beneath the surface, ready to tear and to destroy those who venture into their waters (2 Pet. 2:1-2); 2) False teachers are deceptive. They often appear beautiful, attracting unsuspecting souls to take a closer look at their false ways. But, their beauty is deadly as they devour innocent souls (Matt. 7:15; 23:28; 2 Pet. 2:3). 3) False teachers are self-serving instead of fearful of God and sin (Phil. 3:18-19). Like empty clouds, they give no spiritual refreshment to the soul. They are fruitless and lifeless. Ignoring a false teacher and his false teaching is even more dangerous than a ship’s captain who ignores the reefs and rocks in the ocean. Hidden rocks can take a seaman to his death. When false teachers are hidden among us they take souls with them to eternal destruction (2 Pet. 2:1-3, 18-19). Oh yes, it matters what you teach, believe, and do in service to God (Heb. 12:28-29).

Teach Your Children Respect (The Culture Doesn’t!) #1714

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1–3, NKJV)

Dr. Leonard Sax, practicing physician and author of “The Collapse of Parenting,” wrote in the Wall Street Journal (Dec. 17, 2015), “Kids are not born knowing how to be respectful. They have to be taught.” He tells of his patient  Kyle, who “was absorbed in a videogame on his cellphone, so I asked his mom, ‘How long has Kyle had a stomach ache?’ Mom said, ‘I’m thinking it’s been about two days.’ Then Kyle replied, ‘Shut up, mom. You don’t know what you’re talking about.’ And he gave a snorty laugh, without looking up from his videogame. Kyle is 10 years old.” One source of such disrespect comes from devaluing parents. According to Dr. Sax, “America’s children are immersed in a culture of disrespect: for parents, teachers, and one another. They learn it from television, even on the Disney Channel, where parents are portrayed as clueless, out-of-touch or absent. They learn it from celebrities or the Internet. They learn it from social media. They teach it to one another. They wear T-shirts emblazoned with slogans like ‘I’m not shy. I just don’t like you.’” Parents, train your children to respect you by being respectful to one another, and to others. Train them to honor you by placing value on God, on faith, and on every human being. Children can only be respectful by learning it. So, be respectable – especially when the culture does not value it – or you.

“Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace” #1713

13 Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is given to covetousness; And from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely. 14 They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace. (Jeremiah 6:13–14, NKJV)

Jerusalem and Judah were headed for destruction in the days of Jeremiah. Covetous hearts – greedy for power and wealth – guided both prophet and priest to speak falsely to a population that loved to have it so. These religious charlatans “healed” the spiritual ailments of the people with superficial dressings. They proclaimed “peace, peace,” even though hostility toward God and men ruled the day. Even now, religious leaders, with many followers, preach messages that fail to heal men’s soul – even as those souls rush headlong toward eternal ruin. Messages of peace that tolerate immorality are proclaimed. “Peace” is advanced at the expense of divine truth. (Indeed, evil is called good, and good is called evil, Isaiah 5:20.) Jeremiah’s warning remains relevant, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’” (Jer. 6:16). No peace can exist where sin reigns. Changing its definitions and ignoring its reality reveals hearts that are greedy for selfish gains, not selfless hearts devoted to the Almighty.

“Wait for one another” #1712

33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come. (1 Corinthians 11:33–34, NKJV)

The apostle has been correcting problems in the Corinthian church that were happening when they came together to worship (namely, abuse of the Lord’s supper, and class divisions, 1 Cor. 11:17-22). Now, he summarizes the solutions he gave by exhorting them to “wait for one another.” To “wait” means “1) to receive, accept 2) to look for, expect, wait for, await” (Thayer, 193). Paul makes a unity argument here. When a church assembles, the members should receive or accept each other so that their coming together is blessed (11:17). By doing so, the assembly can “eat the Lord’s supper” decently and with order (11:20-21). To bring and eat our own suppers to satisfy hunger produces “judgment” (condemnation). The work of the church, when gathered together, is orderly worship, not disorderly, divisive conduct. It gathers for spiritual work, not for social activities. By keeping our own suppers at home (entirely separate from the assembled activities), the Holy Spirit ensures unity when the church gathers to eat the Lord’s Supper. By doing we, we avoid condemnation.

“Many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep” #1711

30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:30–32, NKJV)

The spiritual condition of many of the Corinthian Christians was in jeopardy. The terms “weak,” “sick,” and “sleep” have spiritual (not physical) significance. These were without spiritual strength, some were spiritually ill, and some were already dead. (See John 11:11-13, where Jesus used “sleep” to mean Lazarus was dead.) We must judge our eating of the Lord’s supper in order to avoid such spiritual demise (which, by the way, shows Christians can indeed sin and be lost). This context shows we must judge our heart and our conduct in the Lord’s supper by using the Lord’s instructions about the supper (1 Cor. 11:23-26, 27-29). Such personal examination helps us avoid divine judgment, as well as condemnation with the world (v. 31, 32). Paul’s rebuke of their sin in this matter was the Lord’s discipline, to correct their error and preserve their souls. Eating the Lord’s supper is not a mindless ceremony. It is not a liturgical sacrament by which the mere partaking of it God grants sanctifying grace to the worshiper. It is a moment of solemn, proclamation and reverential remembrance of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Christians who turn it into anything else expose themselves to condemnation, not glory.