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 14:31, NKJV)
Jesus was about to give himself up for arrest, humiliation, torture and death. He sacrificed himself out of love for the Father and in full obedience to the Father’s commandment. Thus, Jesus teaches us what He expects of us when we claim to love Him – the full surrender of ourselves in complete obedience to His commands. “If you love Me, keep my commandments” is our directive from the Son of God, not a suggestion for our consideration (Jno. 14:15). Let us devote ourselves to loving Jesus the way He loves the Father, with total surrender and complete obedience to all His commands.
24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. (Matthew 24:24-25, NKJV)
As Christ predicted the desolation of Jerusalem (which occurred in A.D. 70 at the hand of the Romans), He warned of deceivers who would try to persuade God’s people to follow them. Although that period of trial has passed, there continue to be false teachers whose enticing messages mislead, deceive and destroy souls. Be ever vigilant to examine what you are taught using the Scriptures to know whether it is truly from God (Acts 17:11). Eloquent elucidations may please the ear and warm the heart, but if they contradict the word of God they must be rejected as error. Jesus has warned His followers not to be seduced by the siren call of false christs and false prophets. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 Jno. 4:1).
11 See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand! 12 As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. (Galatians 6:11–12, NKJV)
Paul urged the Galatians to observe his earnest and sincere zeal for them by noting he had personally written this epistle. Perhaps it was poor eyesight that prompted the “large letters” he used (Gal. 4:13-15). Notwithstanding, some counted him as an enemy because he told them the truth (Gal. 4:16). It was not Paul but the false teachers (who were binding the circumcision on Gentiles) who had a hidden agenda. They tried to ease their own persecution at the expense of truth and upon the backs of faithful Gentile saints. Furthermore, they wanted to boast in seeing the Gentiles yield to circumcision (see Gal. 6:12-13). Beware the religious teacher who comes with personal agendas. Hidden agendas are eventually exposed by the light of truth. Because the hidden agendas of error wreck havoc they must not be tolerated; they must be opposed (Gal. 2:4-5). Be careful only to boast in the cross of Christ and His truth; nothing else (Gal. 6:14-15). Our only agenda must be to honor and follow Jesus Christ.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, ESV)
Years ago CBS radio advertised their NFL broadcasts with sports announcer Greg Gumble defining the sports fan’s attitude toward football. He said the true fan never complains about the amount of football games; He is anticipating and ready for the action. Then, he said the true fan never gets enough; he always wants more. Gumble reminded his audience not to forget that “fan” is short for “fanatic”, and that’s what makes a true football fan. Christians can learn something from his analysis that a fan is an enthusiast or devotee. We must be devoted enthusiasts for Christ. But, unlike football fans, we must be participants, not spectators. So, get in the game. Live by faith every single day. As a football fan, you live to see your team win. As a Christian, live with complete devotion to Jesus Christ so that others see Jesus in you.
37 Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37–39, NKJV)
Lying, cheating and stealing are widespread in America and around the world. Over one-half of 2012 American high school students surveyed admitted cheating on an exam, 55% to lying to a teacher, and 20% to stealing (2012 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth). At the same time, “99 percent agree that “it is important for me to be a person with good character” (Ibid). Their challenge (and ours) is a total commitment to honesty and integrity. The Bible is clear on this matter. Lying, stealing and cheating are sins against God and against one’s neighbor. Stealing is sin: “Let him who stole steal no more” (Eph. 4:28). Lying is sin: “Put away lying, ‘let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor’” (Eph. 4:25). Cheating is sin: “You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him” (Lev. 19:13; Prov. 11:1). So, when we lie, cheat and steal we are not loving of God and we are not loving our neighbor. Commit yourself to loving God and others by being honest in your every word and deed.
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:2–5, NKJV)
The Bible tells us the kind of preacher every preacher is commanded to be, and therefore, the kind of preacher we all should want. Do you want a preacher who boldly preaches the whole counsel of God? Do you want a preacher whose goal is to leave you feeling good about yourself instead of warning you of the spiritual danger of personal sin? Do you want a preacher to scratch your itching ear (by preaching what you want to hear instead of what you need to hear)? Do you want a gospel preacher like Timothy, who is watchful, persevering and fulfills his ministry? Or, do you want a preacher who comforts you with the fables of error? Does your preacher “do the work of an evangelist”? These are crucial questions for everyone who is interested in the word of God, including preachers.
in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NKJV)
“Thank you”. Powerful, yet simple words, too often left unspoken. This simple expression of polite gratitude is taken for granted (if not totally ignored) by many. Christians, however, must always be thankful, remembering to express their appreciation “in everything”. This is the will of God for you. Therefore, ingratitude is a sin against God. In Him “we all live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). He is the one who has blessed us “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Whether material or spiritual, “every good gift and every perfect gift” is from God (Jas. 1:17). Thanksgiving is due His name (1 Chron. 29:10-15). Use today to be thankful to God and to say “thank you” to those who touch your life.