Spiritual Blessings #2015

27 And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” 28 But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27–28, NKJV)

There is no doubt that God blessed Mary as the mother of Jesus. And, there is no doubt that as a son, Jesus was a blessing to His mother. Jesus lived the wisdom of Solomon’s proverb, “The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who begets a wise child will delight in him. Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her who bore you rejoice” (Prov. 23:24-25). Like Jesus, children should choose to be a blessing to their mothers and fathers by treating them with righteous respect. Righteous children are a blessing from the Lord. Notably, Jesus explained an even greater blessing than Mary’s will come to every person who hears and keeps the word of God (v. 28). Jesus shifted the focus of the woman’s proclamation from the physical to the spiritual. Only one person was blessed by God to be the mother of Jesus, yet through her service, God blesses the whole world (Lk. 4:46-55). The child Mary bore is the Son of God who blesses with salvation everyone who hears and keeps the word of God (Lk. 1:35; Jno. 8:31-32). The blessing of salvation restores our soul and refreshes us daily with the spiritual blessings of Christ (Acts 3:19; Eph. 1:3). Every lost soul who hears and obeys the word of Christ will be saved (Mk. 16:15-16).

“I Pray That You May Prosper” #2014

1 The Elder, To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth: 2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 1–2, NKJV)

John, now the aged apostle, expressed a three-fold love of Gaius, which was no doubt prompted by the disciple’s faithful walk in the truth (3 John 3-4). John’s love for Gaius prompted prayer for his health and prosperity “in all things” as his soul prospered. Is this proof of the “prosperity gospel” that many preach? Hardly. The word “prosper” contains the idea of progress, of “help on the road,” and thereby to successfully reach one’s destination (Strong, G2137). Gaius’ spiritual life was progressing – he was on a spiritual journey. (So are we, 1 Peter 2:11.) John prayed that his health and all things would progress well, too. Christ did not mandate material abundance as evidence of spiritual fullness. Indeed, the Son of Man did not have a place to lay His head (Matt. 8:20). Far from covetous enrichment for selfish pursuits, the gospel teaches material wealth is a blessing that gives opportunities and the spiritual responsibility to be “rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,” and to do so thankfully (1 Tim. 6:17-19). Gaius was undoubtedly doing these very things when he hospitably supported faithful workers for the truth (3 John 5-8). May our souls faithfully progress on our pilgrimage with the health and the means to do the work our hands find to do “while it is day,” for “the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).

Let the Word of Christ Dwell in You #2013

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16, NKJV)

The word of Christ is not merely the word about Christ, but the word that belongs to Christ. It is the message of the cross, the word of truth, and the gospel of our salvation (1 Cor. 1:18; Eph. 1:13). We are called to let His word be at home in us, not as an infrequent guest, but as a constant resident. With the word of God abiding in us, we can overcome the wicked one (1 Jno. 2:14). But, Christ’s word must dwell in us richly along with “all wisdom.” Doing so equips us to “walk worthy of the Lord” (Col. 1:9-10). We must do more than know the word of Christ. We must use His word correctly and wisely. With the word of Christ and wisdom combined in our hearts, we can teach and warn one other with the music of praise Christ approves. Singing songs of praise reveals our thankful hearts while also teaching God’s word to each other. We do not need to add another kind of music (instrumental) to accomplish the teaching and admonition singing achieves. Indeed, the word of Christ does not teach us to add playing music to singing music as a form of worship. Adding instrumental music to our singing worship adds another kind of music to what the word of Christ says. Doing so does not “let the word of Christ dwell in us richly in all wisdom.” When we add to the word of Christ, we act foolishly.

Jesus Always Tells the Truth #2012

45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God. (John 8:45–47, NKJV)

Jesus made some incredible claims in this passage. Those to whom He spoke did not believe He was “from above” (Jno. 8:23). They did not think they would die in their sins for not believing in Him (Jno. 8:24). When He claimed to be eternal God (“I Am”), they tried to stone Him (Jno. 8:58-59). When we give an earnest assessment of His claims, we must choose the path of faith (Rom. 10:17). 1) Jesus said He spoke the truth (v. 45). The truth Jesus spoke frees sinners from sin when obeyed (Jno. 8:31-36). Are you following His truth? 2) Jesus said He was without sin (v. 46). Only God is sinless (Rom. 3:23; Heb. 7:26). Do you believe Jesus is sinless God? 3) Jesus said He spoke God’s words (v. 47). The truth Jesus taught was of God, yet they would not receive it (Jno. 8:40, 37). Will you receive God’s truth? 4) Jesus said those who do not hear Him are not of God (v. 47). We do not believe Jesus if we do not hear God’s word that He spoke (v. 45, 47; Acts 3:22-23). Do you believe Jesus is from above? Do you believe He is the great “I Am?” The record of His life gives ample reasons to believe (Jno. 20:30-31). Faith in Jesus means following His truth because it is the word of God. Believe in Jesus because He always tells you the truth.

God’s Plan for the Earth #2011

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10, NKJV)

What is God’s plan for the earth? Jehovah’s Witnesses say the earth will become a paradise on which “God will bless obedient people with perfect health and everlasting life” (“What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe?”). The Seventh-day Adventists claim, “God will recreate our once-stained world, and live with us forever. We will finally achieve our true potential, living in the love and joy for which God created us” (“The New Earth”)? Modern advocates (N. T. Wright, Douglas Moo, and John Mark Hicks) have restored these views of the earth’s future. This New Creation Theology is being accepted and advanced by some brethren, but it is not new at all. It is an old false doctrine that reconstructs the “new heavens and a new earth” with forced definitions and materialistic narratives (2 Pet. 3:13). It says we will not go to heaven. Instead, heaven will come down to earth. Let Peter settle the matter. On the day of the Lord’s return, 1) The heavens will pass away with a great noise. The sky and space will perish, even as the “old things” of sin “passed away” when we became new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). 2) The elements will melt with fervent heat. The fundamental elements that form the material world will evaporate. 3) The earth and its works will be burned up. God’s fiery judgment will disintegrate the planet and everything on it (2 Pet. 3:7, 10, 11-12). A new habitation (“new heavens and a new earth”) – “a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” will be the eternal home of the redeemed (2 Pet. 3:13). New Creation Theology is old error.

A Spirit of Courage #2010

6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:6–7, NKJV)

Even with a miraculous spiritual gift from God, Timothy needed to be encouraged to be courageous to kindle its use. Although such gifts have passed away, we still need boldness to speak the truth and stand for righteousness. The cancel culture would silence voices of reason and faith. They tried to silence early Christians with threats, imprisonments, beatings, and death (Acts 4:17-21; 5:40; 8:1-4; Heb. 10:32-34). Power, love, and soundness of mind are attributes of faith that embolden sincere hearts to speak the truth in love, and with all boldness speak the words of truth and reason (Rom. 1:16; Eph. 4:15; Phil. 1:20; Acts 26:25). Being the salt of the earth and the light of the world requires that we speak out against sin in all of its forms. Any system that oppresses minorities should be called to account for its prejudicial sins (Jas. 2:1; Rom. 13:8, 10). Any system that legalizes killing unborn babies should be called to account for facilitating sin (Rom. 13:9). Any system that legalizes same-sex marriages and other forms of fornication should be called to account for sanctioning sin (Matt. 19:4-6; Heb. 13:4). Any system that teaches children they are not their biological gender should be called to account for such corruption (Gen. 1:27). People form systems of government, economics, education, etc. When people choose to live in sin, their societies become corrupt, too. God’s people must not call evil good and good evil (Isa. 5:20). We must abhor evil and cling to what is good (Rom. 12:9). That takes virtuous courage (2 Pet. 1:5; 1 Cor. 16:13).

“The Times of Restoration of All Things” #2009

20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. (Acts 3:20–21, NKJV)

Jesus Christ is in heaven, ruling at God’s right hand (Acts 2:32-36). While there, “the times of restoration of all things” occurs. God spoke about the “times of restoration of all things” through His prophets. Let us hear God’s definition of this restoration. Peter begins with Moses, who told of a Prophet God would raise up and to whom every soul must listen or be destroyed (Acts 3:22-23; Deut. 18:15, 18-19). Peter applied this prophecy to Jesus. Next, he points out that “all the prophets from Samuel” onward “foretold of these days,” when the Prophet came bringing restoration. Peter and his contemporaries lived in “these days” and were witnessing “the times of restoration of all things” (Acts 3:24). Thirdly, God sent His Servant Jesus to the Jews to begin the restoration of all things that He promised to their fathers (Acts 3:25). What was this blessing of restoration? It was redemption from sin (“in turning away every one of you from your iniquities,” Acts 3:26). Soon, Gentiles would be brought into this redemption, since “all the families of the earth” are blessed in Abraham’s Seed (Christ) (Acts 3:25; Rom. 1:16-17; Gal. 3:16). The “restoration of all things” God foretold is now summed up in Jesus Christ. The gospel age is the “fullness of the times” when God sums up all things in Christ and administers redemption from sin with the eternal inheritance “according to the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:10-11). The “restoration” is the spiritual renewal of sinners in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:11-12).

Plan Good and not Evil #2008

1 Woe to those who devise iniquity, and work out evil on their beds! At morning light they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand. 2 They covet fields and take them by violence, also houses, and seize them. So they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance. (Micah 2:1–2, NKJV)

What did you plan to do today as you pillowed your head last night? Was it to “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Pet. 3:11)? Or, did you plan to use your power over others to benefit yourself at their expense? Did you plan to give your employer an honest day’s work? Or, how to get away with as little work as possible? Did you thank the Lord for your blessings? Or, did you covet what belongs to another? The prophet Micah announced God’s judgment on the corrupt leaders of Israel. They abused their power and enriched themselves by oppressing those they should have served. God knows what we are planning in our hearts just as He knew the hearts of Israel. And, like those in Israel, God holds us accountable when we plan to sin (Heb. 4:13). May our last thoughts before slumber be of plans to serve the Lord on the morrow, not preparations to sin against others and our God.

Learn to Live in the Fear of the Lord #2007

11 Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. 12 Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. 14 Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. 16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. (Psalm 34:11–16, NKJV)

Fear of the Lord is not theoretical. It is practical and reveals itself in how we live our lives. Here, the inspired psalmist David teaches how to respect and reverence God. We will know the fear of the Lord if we listen to his instruction, and our lives will be blessed. Living a full life that delights in its joy is realized when we 1) Control our language (v. 13). Our words reveal our hearts. 2) Turn away from evil and practice good things that advance peace (v. 14). Pursue peace with God and with others, and you will it replaces chaos with tranquility. 3) Remember that the Lord attends to the needs of the righteous (v. 15). God has promised to provide our needs when we prioritize His will in our lives (Matt. 6:31-33). He hears and responds to the prayers of righteous people. 4) Remember that the Lord opposes those who practice evil (v. 16). Pursuing evil does not bring happiness now or in eternity; only pain and eternal death. God and others see whether the “fear of the Lord” is in our lives. When it is, whatever life brings our way becomes a blessing (1 Pet. 3:8-13).

The Gospel Plan of Salvation #2006

34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” (Acts 10:34–35, NKJV)

Without partiality, every lost soul who “fears God” is told to do the same righteous works to be accepted by God. We hear preachers on radio and TV inviting lost sinners to pray to God with faith in Jesus to be saved. If prayer is the way sinners access the saving blood of Jesus, then the Scriptures will plainly teach it. Yet, without exception, when lost sinners were told what to do to be saved in the New Testament, they were never told to pray what is often called “the sinner’s prayer” (Acts 2:37-38; 9:6; 16:30-34). What were sinners told to do to be saved? Jesus told lost souls to hear His gospel to be saved (Jno. 5:25; 6:45). Jesus told lost souls to believe He is the Son of God to be saved (Jno. 8:24). Jesus told lost souls to confess their faith in Him to be saved (Matt. 10:32; Rom. 10:9-10). Jesus told lost souls to repent to be saved (Lk. 13:3, 5; Acts 17:30). Jesus told lost souls to be baptized to be saved (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:37-38). God expects lost souls to do some things to be saved. But, praying a sinner’s prayer is not one of them. Otherwise, we could read about it in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us be content with the gospel plan of salvation, believe in its power to save, and teach it to lost souls (Rom. 1:16-17).