The Example of Obedience #2193

29 “And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. 31 But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here. (John 14:29–31, NKJV)

Jesus was caring for the faith of His apostles even in the shadow of the cross. Its trauma would shake their faith (Matt. 26:31). When they saw the risen Lord and heard Him explain His fulfillment of God’s promised salvation, their faith would be renewed (Lk. 24:36-47; Acts 1:1-8). Evil forces were coming, thinking to eliminate God’s Son by death. Satan and his servants would fail (1 Cor. 2:7-8; Acts 2:32-36). Jesus was about to show the world His love for the Father by voluntarily dying on the cross (v. 31). Here is our lesson. When we obey God, we show the world we love God. Jesus exalted obedience to the Father as a defining demonstration of devotion (cf. Jno. 14:15). The Father had commanded Him, and He willingly yielded His will in obedient love. God so loved us that He gave His Son to die for our sins (Jno. 3:16; 1 Jno. 4:10). The Son showed the world His love for the Father by obediently dying on the cross (Heb. 5:8). We love God when we keep His commandments (1 Jno. 5:3). Christian, set an example for the world by lovingly obeying the commandments of the Lord.

“I Will Give You Rest” #2192

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28, NKJV)

Labor produces weariness. Since sin entered the world, the “thorns and thistles” of the cursed soil have been beaten back by the sweat of the brow (Gen. 3:17-19). Indeed, “the sleep of a laboring man is sweet” (Eccl. 5:12). Jesus sees us toiling against an even greater curse, that of sin and death. Sin weighs upon the soul, crushing out the light of God’s presence and suffocating our spiritual breath under its heavy load. Jesus sees us failing to make headway against sin. We do not have the strength to break its bonds and free ourselves from its captivity. Its shroud of death confines us in darkness (Rom. 6:23; 3:23). Jesus knows our suffering, our pain, our distress in sin. He offers relief, repose, and refreshment for our souls. Living water is available that forever quenches the parched heart yearning for life (Jno. 4:10, 13-14; Isa. 55:1-7). Jesus can save you from sin’s eternal turmoil, pain, and death (Acts 4:12). Come to Jesus, and He will give rest to your soul (Matt. 11:29). Be saved from your sins by believing He is the Son of God and obeying Him in faith (Jno. 1:12; Mk. 16:15-16; Heb. 5:8-9).

The riches of God #2191

Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4, NKJV)

The world defines wealth by material possessions – money, land, businesses, precious metals, etc. Those who own the most things are named the wealthiest people on earth. Of course, we know that material wealth will never measure up to the storehouse of spiritual riches in Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). The “unsearchable riches of Christ” are inseparably linked to God’s “goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering” (Eph. 3:8; Rom. 2:4). God is rich in mercy and grace, without which we would not be saved (Eph. 2:4-7). In today’s verse, God’s goodness is His kindness that appeared to show us mercy in Christ (Tit. 3:4-5). God’s forbearance is the restraint He used to hold back His severity while extending His compassion to sinners (Rom. 3:25; cf. Psa. 78:37-39). God’s longsuffering does not hastily retaliate when we sin against Him (Acts 17:30). These riches of God do not minimize, discount, or overlook sin (cf. Rom. 2:5-6). They are the resources from which God draws to offer salvation to every sinner in His Son. Instead of despising (“to think against,” disregard) the spiritual riches extended to us by God in His Son Jesus Christ, let us repent toward God and obey the truth (Rom. 2:1-4). Judgment is coming when God will judge sinners (Rom. 2:3, 5).

“Husbands, Love Your Wives” #2190

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:25–27, NKJV)

Paul uses marriage to illustrate the relationship between Christ and His church (Eph. 5:32). We gain essential insight into the love a husband is to have for his wife from it. 1) Christ’s love for the church was sacrificial (v. 25). He gave Himself, His life, for her. There is no greater love (Jno. 15:13; Rom. 5:8). Husbands live (and are willing to die) for their wives. 2) Christ’s love for the church was purposeful (v. 26). His every act was unselfish. The salvation and spiritual safety of the church was foremost to Him. Every husband can improve his marriage by keeping his wife’s welfare as a fundamental priority. 3) Christ’s love for the church is constant (v. 27). Christ did not love for a day, a season, a moment in time. His love endures with the hopeful expectation of the church’s eternal glory (Rev. 21:1-4). Likewise, a husband vows “for better or worse” with a commitment to be constant and faithful to his wife. He is helpful as she tackles life, rejoicing in her triumphs and enduring in his affection. Her holiness drives his decisions. She is his life and love, and he cherishes her (Eph. 5:28-29). A God-fearing husband learns the love of Christ for the church and gives that love to his wife.

Husbands and Wives #2189

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22–24, NKJV)

Secular feminists think this is sexism, male chauvinism, and bigotry. This is a gross misunderstanding and misrepresentation. The relationships of every organization or institution include roles and assignments that enable it to function successfully. Without such structure, relationships fray and falter. So it is with marriage. God-given roles in marriage accomplish their God-given purposes (Gen. 2:18-25). The husband’s role in marriage is to be a servant-leader. He is “head of the wife” like Christ is to His church. The wife’s response to his role is submission. She willingly puts herself under his leadership, not as a fearful slave to an overbearing tyrant, but as a respectful helper who respects and trusts his leadership. Husbands strengthen their marriages when they step up and become spiritual leaders in their marriages. Wives strengthen their marriages when they respect and help their husbands do so. These divine assignments are not about superiority and inferiority. They are about mutual love and respect with Christ at the center of the marital relationship. Unselfish service is at the heart of successful marriage.

“And He Commanded Him” #2188

And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days. (Acts 10:48, NKJV)

The commands of God are not optional. They are necessary because they come from God. Obeying the commands of God expresses our love for God (1 Jno. 5:3). When we obey God’s commandments, we are following the example of Jesus (Heb. 5:8-9). When we obey God’s commands, we submit ourselves to His will as dutiful servants (Lk. 17:10). When we obey Jesus, we trust His word instead of our will (Matt. 14:24-33). We should not view God’s commands and obedience negatively. When Peter commanded Cornelius “to be baptized name of the Lord,” it was because the gospel says believers who are baptized will be saved (Mk. 16:15-16). The Holy Spirit had miraculously testified Cornelius and the others were believers (Acts 10:44-46). Therefore, to forbid baptism to believers (by telling them they are saved before and without obeying God’s command to be baptized) hinders their remission of sins (Acts 10:42-43; 2:37-38; 1 Pet. 3:21). Let us obey the commands of God in faith, trusting God’s will instead of our own.

Pulpit Preaching #2187

3 Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. So Ezra the scribe stood on a platform of wood which they had made for the purpose… (Nehemiah 8:3–4, NKJV)

They built a wooden platform on which Ezra read the Book of the Law to the people. It had a functional purpose, to gain and keep the people’s attention so they could hear God’s word. God’s word can be preached anywhere, not only from behind a pulpit. It can be preached in a chariot (Acts 8:29-35), in a home (Acts 10:24-25, 33-43), by a river (Acts 16:13-14), in places of worship, a marketplace, and a hillside (Acts 17:17, 22). The list goes on. Wherever the preaching occurs, the listener should be attentive to God’s message, and the preacher must “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2). From the pulpit and everywhere else, God’s word must be proclaimed, not people’s opinions (1 Cor. 2:1-5; Rom. 1:15). Gospel preaching uses the word of God to “reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2, NASB95). The pulpit is for gospel preaching, so use it for that purpose. Leave political policies to the politicians and the public square. Leave psychology to the therapist’s couch. Leave philosophy to the halls of academia. When it comes to preaching, “give me the Bible.” It is truth, and the only message with the power to save the soul (Rom. 1:16-17; 1 Cor. 1:18-25).

This is the Will of God #2186

15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. (1 Peter 2:15–17, NKJV)

God’s word teaches Christians to identify and turn away from those who promote and practice sin at every season, including the “perilous times” in which we live (2 Tim. 3:1-5; Eph. 5:8-11). Today’s passage teaches us to do good when the “ignorance of foolish men” would otherwise incite us to be unruly, unrighteous, and ungodly. In context, that includes submitting to human ordinances (that do not force us to sin, 1 Pet. 2:13-14; Acts 5:29). Being free in Christ (free from sin and death) means we are now bondservants of God and not men (Rom. 6:4-11, 16-18; 1 Cor. 7:23). Our freedom in Christ is not our license to be wicked; it is our calling to be God’s slaves (v. 16). Therefore, when evil authorities do evil things, we are to bear the image of Christ and patiently accept suffering for what is good (1 Pet. 2:18-24). For our part, we must be respectful of everyone (including rulers over us), love all our brethren, and fear God (v. 17). By doing so we silence (muzzle, give no credence to) worldly ignorance by exposing its inept, mindless, and egotistical foolishness (v. 15; 1 Cor. 3:18-23). By doing so, with God’s help, you “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).