The Heartache of Betrayal #704

12  For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him. 13  But it was you, a man my equal, my companion and my acquaintance. 14  We took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in the throng. (Psalm 55:12–14, NKJV)

You can hear David’s heartache over being betrayed by his trusted friend and companion. (David’s counselor, Ahithophel, betrayed him during Absalom’s conspiracy and rebellion, 2 Sam. 15:12, 31.) Jesus Christ, the son of David, knew the pain of betrayal from His close companion, Judas (Jno. 13:18; Psa. 41:9). It hurts when someone you love and trust with your very soul proves to be disloyal. Do not turn from God in despair during such moments. Be sure your heart and your actions remain pure. David, in faithful assurance of God’s ever-present love, advises us to “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psa. 55:22). Timeless counsel. The Lord never betrays us. May we never betray Him.

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Do You Not Understand? #703

And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” (Mark 4:13, NKJV)

Do you want to understand the Bible? If you do, you can. It is not beyond your capability. It is not shrouded in dark sayings that prevent comprehension. Understanding all the Scriptures, like understanding the parables, requires an honest heart that listens and receives God’s word in order to follow it and bear its fruit in your life (Mk. 4:20; Lk. 8:15). Hard hearts, like hard ground, are closed and reject a knowledge of God’s word (Mk. 4:14-15). Like stony ground, shallow, emotional minds do not invest the time and effort needed to know and grow in the truth (Mk. 4:16-17). Like thorn-infested soil, hearts consumed with “the desire of other things” do not give due attention to knowing and obeying God’s word (Mk. 4:18-19). Which soil are you? You see, most people do not understand the Bible because they choose not to understand it; not because it cannot be understood. Now, that’s not too hard to understand, is it?

Ready to Die #702

Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10, NKJV)

It is certainly true that Christians are to be faithful until they die (Heb. 3:14). But here, the Lord exhorts the saints in Smyrna to be faithful to the point of death. They are “about to suffer” many things at the hands of the devil’s ministers. Christ emboldens them to prepare for prison, tribulation and even death because of their faith. Jesus calls on them to die rather than deny Him. While on earth Jesus taught the same; “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matt. 10:28). Are you ready to die for Christ? Perhaps that answer is revealed by answering the following: Are you living for Christ? Only those who faithfully live for Christ are prepared to die for Him. Do not be afraid to live for Jesus, come what may. After all, He expects you to be ready to die for Him, too.

Church or Business? #701

14  These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15  but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:14–15, NKJV)

This verse describes the church as the house or family of God. Our behavior must respect Him and His truth. Other passages depict the church as the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, the temple of God, and the kingdom of heaven (Col. 1:18; Rev. 19:7; 2 Cor. 6:16; Matt. 16:18-19). Notably, the local church is never described as the “business of Christ,” because it is not an economic enterprise. Yet, many think it is, since they set out arranging and operating the local church like a business. To treat the local church like a business shows a serious misunderstanding of the church. The congregation is a fellowship of Christians arranged under the authority of Christ for spiritual service, not for economic profit (Acts 2:42-47; Rom. 12:1-8). Elders are not cooperate board members; they are overseers of souls (Acts 20:28-32). Its funds are collected by freewill giving, not by business endeavors (1 Cor. 16:1-2). The treasury belongs to the Lord for His authorized work. It does not belong to the elders, the preacher, or the members (Acts 4:34-5:4). The church is the pillar and ground of the truth; not a laboratory of “best practices” determined by the business world and the wisdom of men.

“Jesus Ate With Sinners” #700

29  Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them. 30  And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, “Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31  Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Luke 5:29–32, NKJV)

Those who broaden fellowship to include those practicing and living in sin, allude to the fact that Jesus ate with sinners as their rationale for accepting into fellowship those who have gone beyond the “doctrine of Christ” (2 Jno. 9-11).  By doing so they overlook a seminal point: Jesus used such occasions to call sinners to repentance, not to endorse their conduct. Jesus did not condone, compromise, tolerate and accept sinners “in spite of their sins.” Instead, He was calling sinners to repentance (Lk. 5:32). He came to save sinners from their sins (Lk. 19:10). There were sinners “drew near to Him to hear Him” (Lk. 15:1). The fact that those who plead for tolerance toward sinners today is a prima facie case of not doing what Jesus did. He taught sinners and called them to repentance. They do neither.

Trust and Obey #699

The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.But with an overflowing flood He will make an utter end of its place, And darkness will pursue His enemies. (Nahum 1:7-8, NKJV)

The mighty city of Nineveh was no match for Almighty God. The Lord was preparing His judgment, and He does not acquit the wicked (Nahum 1:3). Yet, God knows those who trust Him. He is their protection in the day of trouble. What does it mean to trust the Lord? Solomon sums it up in Proverbs 16:20, “He who heeds the word wisely will find good, And whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.” Trusting God means putting your faith in God’s purposes that are revealed in His word, including His commands, and then heeding (doing) them. Trusting Jesus is much more than saying it, then living as you please. It means to listen to His word and follow it in all things. The old gospel song still rings true, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” He knows whether you are trusting Him today.

“O Lord, Come!” #698

If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come! (1 Corinthians 16:22, NKJV)

One might expect the apostle to use agapao here to describe one’s love for the Lord Jesus Christ. But, instead he uses a form of phileo, for he wishes to drive home the presence and value of one’s warm affection toward Jesus. Paul’s statement is full of emotion as he yearns for the coming of Christ. If anyone does not have personal love for Jesus Christ – a warm affection of loving devotion –  then that person is “accursed” before God (devoted to be cursed with destruction). Faithful Christians longs for the coming judgment of Christ (“O Lord, come!”). Examine your personal love for Christ. Do you anticipate His return out of your deep devotion and affection for Him? If so, then your life will be showing your love through your obedient faith.