What Defiles a Person #477

15  “There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. 16  If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Mark 7:15-16)

The heart is the spring well from which comes all things both good or evil. Israel was commanded to observe food restrictions under the Law of Moses (Lev. 11). But, what Jesus Christ taught on this occasion made all food pure (Mk. 7:19). The food that goes into a person’s body does not defile that person before God. It is the “evil things” coming out of the heart (in the form of thoughts, words and actions) that defile a person (Mk. 7:23). Jesus urges us to listen carefully to what He says. We cannot let evil things proceed from our heart and think we are pure before God: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” (Mk. 7:21-22). Put away evil. Cleanse your heart through Christ and His gospel (Eph. 4:20-24).

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King Jesus #476

36  Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” 37  Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:36-37)

Jesus is king today, exalted at the right hand of God, ruling over His kingdom. This is the gospel preached from the day of Pentecost to this very moment (Acts 2:30-36). All who expect Jesus to return to reign from Jerusalem will continue to wait in vain. His kingdom is not “of this world”. They have failed to accept Jesus’ prediction of the kingdom coming “with power” during the lifetime of those who heard Jesus preach (Mk. 9:1; Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4). From Pentecost onward the kingdom is regarded as in existence, in which Christians participate (Col. 1:13; Heb. 1:3-4, 8; Rev. 1:9). Jesus was born to be a king. He reigns now as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15). Will you bow your knee to the king?

Grace and Truth in Jesus #475

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

The marriage of grace and truth is complete in Jesus Christ; the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. We need God’s grace and God’s truth; Jesus provides both (Jno. 1:17). God’s grace (unmerited, undeserved favor) offers salvation to every sinner through the cross of Jesus (Titus 2:11). The “word of the truth of the gospel” announces salvation that is obtained “by grace…through faith” (Col. 1:5; Eph. 2:8-9). Like David we cry out, “Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord; Let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me” (Psa. 40:11). God answered by sending His Son (the Word) to be the Savior of the world and to give us “grace and truth” (Jno. 1:17). Christians stand in the grace of God in Christ because they believe and obey His truth (Rom. 5:1-2). Grace and truth come together in Jesus. You need both to be saved. We all do. That’s why we need Jesus.

Baptism Now Saves You #474

21  Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22  who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. (1 Peter 3:21-22, ESV)

Although many reject water baptism as having anything to do with being saved, Peter’s statement remains very clear: “Baptism…now saves you” (v. 21). Who gave water baptism the power to save? Not the church. Not a creed. Not the one being baptized. Not the preacher. Not the water. It is none other than the resurrected Christ who empowers water baptism to save you from sin’s death. The blood of Christ cleanses the conscience from the works of sin when the sinner is baptized into His death (Heb. 9:14; Rom. 6:3). To conclude that water baptism has no power to save is in direct conflict with the word of God and the power of Him who is in heaven “at the right hand of God” (v. 22). Instead of opposing the word of God, appeal to God for a good conscience. Be baptized to be saved – not by your own merit – but “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”.

Learn not to think beyond what is written #473

Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. (1 Corinthians 4:6)

We can easily become enamored with our intelligence and mental prowess. Pride seizes the heart, convincing us we are the beginning and end of all things wise and good (Job 12:2). How foolish indeed! It is the word of God, the inspired Scripture, that sets the parameters of truth, wisdom and knowledge (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Learn to be content following the Scriptures, not your own will and wisdom. Be careful not to think beyond what is written, presumptuously supposing God will accept whatever you decide to offer Him. Such arrogance perpetuates sin and strife. Instead, endeavor to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” by carefully following the Scriptures (Eph. 4:3). Abide in the word of Christ and be His true disciple (Jno. 8:31).

Confidence in Prayer #472

14  Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. (1 John 5:14-15)

Prayer is a great spiritual blessing given to Christians in Christ. Prayer is an action of bold, confident faith in our heavenly Father. He promises to give attention to prayers that are asked “according to His will” (v. 14). You see, prayer is not a selfish endeavor, it is the expression of faith in the Father’s will. This is all the more reason not to be “unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is”, so that we may pray in faith and not doubt (Eph. 5:17; Jas. 1:5). When a Christian prays like Jesus did in the garden (“your will be done”), his or her petition is answered in full measure by the Lord. Remember, prayer is about trusting that God knows better than we do what is best for us. So, whether His specific answer is “yes”, “no” or “not yet”, receive God’s answer with humble thanksgiving. He has heard you and answered you according to His will.

Honor Your Mother #471

He who mistreats his father and chases away his mother is a son who causes shame and brings reproach. (Proverbs 19:26)

Mother’s Day is for giving special honor and recognition to the one who bore us, tended to our needs, comforted our hurts, reassured our hopes and guided our growth to adulthood. Every day ought to be used to show your thanks, gratitude and honor to your mother for her devoted sacrifices and love – not only one day a year. Do not chase away your mother with a neglectful attitude, disrespectful words, ridicule, anger, contention or hate. These things are shameful ways to treat your mother. Remember, if you still have your mother, you will not have her in your life for long. Use your time wisely to honor your mother with respect, kindness and gratitude every day. And, always thank God for your mother.