Then Manoah prayed to the Lord, and said, “O my Lord, please let the Man of God whom You sent come to us again and teach us what we shall do for the child who will be born.” (Judges 13:8, NKJV)
A young family in the church was blessed last night with their first child – what a joyful event! The love and innocence of a newborn child reminds us of the wondrous love of God and His ever-present care for us. What an awesome task parents have to guide an immortal soul in the way of the Lord. If you are a parent, there is no greater counselor than the Lord to show you what to do for your child. Seek His help as parents through prayer and through the instruction of His word. With the Lord’s help, one day you can join John the apostle in saying, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4).
…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
Paul has just exhorted Christians to do three things to avoid being weighed down by anxiety (the distracting cares of this world): Be joyful, be gentle and be prayerful (Phil. 4:4-6). Now, he tell us the positive result of such a life of faith; God’s great peace standing as a garrison around your heart and mind, protecting your thoughts, feelings and perceptions from the onslaught of doubt and fear. Many yearn for inner peace, yet it eludes them, because they are at war with God (Jas. 4:1-4). For true and abiding peace, turn to God and the salvation that is in His Son, Jesus Christ. Then, because you are at peace with God, nothing can overwhelm you. You have His promise.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:4–6, NASB95)
Christians have the ability to live in joyful gladness under the most stressful situations. The character of gentle forbearance couples with remembering the Lord’s approaching judgment to form two reasons we live in joy instead of anxiety. The third strand of the three-fold cord of joy is prayer. The thankful requests of prayer strengthen our resolve to rejoice in the Lord because we know God hears and answers us. With a gentle spirit, generous prayers and respect for the Lord’s presence and power to judge, Christians refuse to abandon joy for anxiety, especially in the face of temporary trials. Though Paul was imprisoned in Rome for his faith, he set this example of always rejoicing in the Lord. Today, remember Christ rules from heaven and sees all things. Keep a gentle spirit toward others as you petition God with thanksgiving for His great and constant care. By doing so you can, and will, “rejoice in the Lord always”.
1 My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; 2 For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you. (Proverbs 3:1–2, NKJV)
Little is more heart-rending to a father than to watch his son (or daughter) abandon the guidance and instruction he gave him for his good. A father’s commands are not given so he can have control over his child. They are given in order to help him live righteously. A father’s law is expressed to his son, not to restrict his child, but to teach him the blessings come from making right choices. A father longs for his son to have peace, therefore, he desires that his son will obey him from the heart. How much more, then, must our heavenly Father yearn for our heart-based obedience. Do not break your Father’s heart. Follow His will from your heart. You will have blessings now and in the end, eternal life. (If you have forgotten His law, then return to the Father in full repentance. He loves you and will receive you with joy.)
4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4–5, NKJV)
Abiding in Christ day by day requires a deliberate faith that keeps the word of Christ. Jesus had just explained, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (Jno. 14:23). By an obedient faith you will have a fruitful relationship with Jesus, the “true vine” (Jno. 15:1). But, if you choose to disobey Christ you will not abide in Him. A faithless, fruitless life leads to eternal ruin: “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (Jno. 15:6). Having a relationship with Jesus means more than saying you have one; it means bearing the fruit of that relationship by your daily, obedient faith.
29 Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. 31 But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:29–32, NKJV)
Many people believe it really does not matter what you believe about God as long as you are sincere. It is apparent from today’s verse that Jesus did not think this way. Why then, should we? If you wear His name (Christian), shouldn’t you think like He thinks and teach like He teaches? Jesus said the Sadducees (who said there was no resurrection, Matt. 22:23) were “mistaken” (“wrong”, ESV; “in error”, NIV) because they did not know the Scriptures nor God’s power. How could that be true if it didn’t matter what the Sadducees believed (as long as they were sincere)? You must know the Scriptures precisely because it does make a difference what you believe. Be sure what you believe is in God’s Scriptures by examining them every day (Acts 17:11). If it is not in the Scriptures, then abandon it and believe the truth. Because it matters.
6 Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, 7 Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, 8 Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest. 9 How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep— 11 So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:6–11, NKJV)
Ants are fascinating to watch. They labor away, working ceaselessly to feed themselves. And, they work together (how many divided ant hills have you seen?). The ant exerts itself, teaching us to do the same and so avoid the danger that comes with laziness. An even greater danger exists when we choose to be spiritually lazy rather than being “fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11). There is spiritual work that needs doing. Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (Jno. 9:4). Learn from the ant and know the value of labor. Then, like Jesus, be a diligent and faithful worker for God.