Blessings During Adversity #2127

12 Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, 13 That You may give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit is dug for the wicked. 14 For the Lord will not cast off His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance. 15 But judgment will return to righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it.” (Psalm 94:12–15, NKJV)

God blesses us in many ways. His care of the earth and humanity testify of His power and presence (Acts 14:17). God gives spiritual blessings and assurances to His people. Today’s passage reinforces the faith of the righteous person when it seems the wicked triumph (Psa. 94:1-11). Briefly consider the blessings God gives the righteous in our text. 1) Who receives God’s blessing (v. 12)? It is the person who accepts God’s instruction from His law (Psa. 25:4-5). Spiritual blessings elude the person who fights against the rule of God’s truth. 2) When is this person blessed (v. 13)? Rest comes in the “days of adversity” to the one who patiently and faithfully endures the pressures of the wicked. Christians know the Lord will bring the wicked to justice (2 Thess. 1:3-10). 3) Why does God bless His people during trials (v. 14)? Because He is upright and keeps His word (Heb. 6:13-20). Our hope remains secure because God is always faithful. 4) How will it all end (v. 15)? God’s judgments are “true and righteous altogether” (Psa. 19:9). Therefore, God’s people keep following His righteous ways, trusting the Lord will correct every wrong and give rest to those who “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12-13). Be comforted today in your spiritual blessings in Christ (Eph. 1:3).

Be Strong in the Lord #2126

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:10–13, NKJV)

We need the Lord’s strength to “stand against the wiles of the devil.” We are in a battle over our souls. This fight calls for faith in the Lord’s power instead of ourselves as we struggle “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” And so, let us equip ourselves with “the whole armor of God” (Eph. 6:13-18). The Lord’s armor is tried and true, powerful to defeat our foe. But beware. Our adversary, the devil, will try to use our sense of self-reliance against us, tempting us to believe we can overcome the devil on our own. Do not attempt to go into this battle alone. “The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him” (Psa. 28:7).

Perilous Times #2125

1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:1–5, NKJV)

Paul was about to charge Timothy before God and Christ to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:1). He needed to know that difficult, stressful times were ahead (2 Tim. 4:5). He would have to recognize those who were dangerous and “turn away” from them (v. 5). So do we. These perils present us with decision points when we must choose to be faithful to Jesus and accept suffering for the sake of righteousness instead of yielding to the protection of compromise with error and evil. We should observe that Christians who maintain their faith in the Lord, their love for His truth, and their devotion to Christ above all are not the culprits. They are not responsible for the times of peril. Those who love themselves, money, and sinful pleasures apply and pressure Christians to deny their faith. They are proud and boastful, disrespectful to authority, unthankful, unholy, lacking the love and self-control to be kind and forgiving toward others. They are brutal and arrogant. Some even appear to be pious as they defame and blasphemy (v. 5). They are not. We live in difficult times, too.  Abhor evil and love good even when peril comes (Rom. 12:9). Take heart and overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21). We are more than conquerors in Christ (Rom. 8:37).

The Lord Remembers #2124

12 Then speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, saying: “Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, And He shall build the temple of the Lord; 13 Yes, He shall build the temple of the Lord. He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” (Zechariah 6:12–13, NKJV)

God sent Zechariah to the remnant of Israel after their return from the divine judgment of Babylonian captivity (about 520 B.C.). He challenged them to remember their fathers’ sins while assuring them God remembered His covenant and His people (Zech. 1:1-6, 12-17). God told Zechariah to crown Joshua, the high priest (Zech. 6:9-15). That act was symbolic of God’s eventual crowning of His Servant, “the BRANCH” (Zech. 3:8; Isa. 11:1-4; Jer. 23:5-6). The Messiah would build God’s temple, gloriously serving as High Priest and ruling as King on His royal throne (v. 13). This event powerfully depicted Christ’s exaltation at God’s right hand, crowned High Priest over God’s church, the temple Jesus built (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 2:19-22; Heb. 3:1-6). “We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man” (Heb. 8:1-2). The Branch, Jesus Christ, now reigns as King and serves as High Priest. He has built God’s temple, the church. His gospel of peace calls lost souls out of sin’s darkness and death to receive mercy and be living stones in God’s spiritual house (Rom. 10:15; 1 Pet. 2:4-6). God remembers His people and gives them peace. Do you remember Him?

“To Humble You and Test You” #2123

2 And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 8:2–3, NKJV)

Israel’s wilderness wanderings tested their faith in the Lord God. Would they obey Him? Or would they rebel in disobedience when faced with hardships, setbacks, and uncertainties? God disciplined their hearts through the trial of hunger and by the blessing of daily manna (and other provisions, Deut. 8:4-6). God meant for their trials and blessings to humble them and turn their hearts to Him. God taught Israel by trials and blessings to live by “every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” God also lovingly teaches and corrects us by trials and blessings, like parents who love their children, Heb. 12:4-11). Life is more than bread. Life is more than comfort. Like Israel, life with God that lasts forever comes from God when we obey Him. Jesus knew this when the devil tempted Him to sin (Matt. 4:3-4). Let us accept God’s training during times of trial and blessing that we may humbly obey the Lord God and live with Him now and forever.

Flashpoint #2122

17 “But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.” 18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:17–20, NKJV)

The Jewish rulers viewed the gospel like a virus spreading unchecked throughout Jerusalem. Their solution was to “severely threaten” Peter and John to keep them from continuing to speak and teach in the name of Jesus. The conflict was set between the order of men and God’s mandate, not by Peter and John, but by the opponents of the truth. Peter and John would continue to do what they had been doing, speaking the things they had seen and heard (v. 20). When men insist we listen to them more than God, they cause a flashpoint. We do not desire it, but we do not shrink from it. The rules and dictates of men do not hold sway over our worship and obedience to God (Acts 5:29). Like then, rulers and faithless people will continue to test our resolve on this divine principle of truth. May we be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil to navigate the rough seas of human obstructions and listen to God’s word more than men (v. 19-20; Rom. 16:19).

Sin and Its Guilt are not Inherited #2121

1 Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.” (John 9:1–3, NKJV)

The guilt of sin does not pass from parent to child. We do not inherit sin and its guilt (Ezek. 18:4, 20). The false doctrines of original sin and total hereditary depravity are rampant. The Catholic Church teaches people inherit the stain of original sin. The Protestant Reformation codified these errors in their creeds as orthodox. Untold millions are convinced to baptize their babies due to this error. These teachings have convinced many they became sinners at their first breath instead of their initial transgression against God’s will (Rom. 7:7-9; 3:23). Many today think they have a “sinful nature.” Jesus said we must become as little children to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:3). If little children are sinners or have a sinful nature, then why should we become like them to be saved? When asked why the man was born blind, Jesus refused to link his suffering to the generational transference of sin’s guilt (v. 2-3). We accept the weight of our sins, but we refuse to believe we bear the guilt of Adam’s sin. Sin and its wages (spiritual death) entered the world through Adam. Sin and death “spread to all men, because all sinned,” not because Adam sinned (Rom. 5:12).

What Has Been Written #2120

24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true. 25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen. (John 21:24–25, NKJV)

Countless books have been written through the ages. The economy and efficiency of the sixty-six books of the Bible are especially impressive compared to books of human origin. These traits of the Bible are faith-building as they teach us to be content with what the Lord has revealed. We do not add to the word of God because the inspired Scriptures are sufficient to thoroughly equip the person of God for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). We affirm the faith was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). The Scriptures do not contain everything Jesus said or did, but they are the complete message God intended us to have (v. 25). The Scriptures give trustworthy testimony and ample evidence that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,” so that by “believing you may have life in His name” (v. 24; Jno. 20:30-31). Not every appearance of Jesus after His resurrection is in the Scriptures, but enough “infallible proofs” are there to certify He lives (Acts 1:3; 1 Cor. 15:4-8). The Scriptures do not memorialize every lesson Jesus taught His apostles about the kingdom of God, but later they would preach the gospel of the kingdom as the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:24-27). Respect for God’s word includes being satisfied with what God has revealed and being humble enough to accept it as sufficient for “life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3-4).  

Abundant Mercy, Living Hope, and Divine Assurance #2119

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3–5, NKJV)

Christians have a living hope because Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead. His life beyond the grave is God’s proof that we will be raised to receive a heavenly inheritance. When we lived in sin, we had “no hope” and were “without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). Now, through faith, God keeps (guards) Christians, and we “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (v. 5; Rom. 5:2). Even though living by faith brings tribulations, we do not lose hope. Our confident, lively hope is anchored in God’s mercy, love, and promise of a heavenly inheritance (v, 3; Rom. 5:3-5). We believe God. Our faith assures our hope (Heb. 11:1, 6). Conversely, secularism breeds despair (Rom. 1:18-32). Its atheistic skepticism and reliance on human wisdom fail to nourish the soul with hope beyond death. Faithlessness gives no enduring reason to deny ourselves and follow the Lord’s will with perseverance (Rom. 5:3; Lk. 9:23). Faith overcomes the world’s sin, skepticism, and selfishness (1 Jno. 5:4). Eternal salvation is prepared and will be revealed. Choose to live by faith and live in hope.

Easy to Understand Words #2118

6 But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching? 7 Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? 8 For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle? 9 So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. (1 Corinthians 14:6–9, NKJV)

Speaking in tongues was a temporary miraculous gift of the Spirit by which one spoke in a foreign language unknown to the speaker but understandable to the hearers (1 Cor. 12:7-11; 13:8). Such a miracle helped spread the gospel to the world (1 Cor. 14:21). Without comprehension, the gift did not edify the listeners (1 Cor. 14:2, 4-5, 11-12, 28). Paul used musical instruments to illustrate the goal of comprehension through clarity (v. 7-8). Then, he made his point that using the gift of tongue-speaking was intended for people to understand the gospel message (v. 9, 7). If it failed to accomplish this, then it was ineffective (even hurtful, 14:23). We want people to understand what we say when we teach God’s word. Let us use “easy to understand” words to promote mature understanding and spiritual strength in those who hear us (v. 9, 18-20, 26).