12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. 13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done. 14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them… (Acts 8:12–14)
This verse teaches us how sinners receive the word of God (v. 14). When these sinners heard the good news of God’s kingdom and of Christ’s power, they “believed” and “were baptized” (v. 12). When Philip “preached Christ to them”, they believed and obeyed, and were saved (Acts 8:5). Simon himself received the word of God the same way (v. 13). There was no yelling and screaming. There was no “praying through”, expectantly waiting for the Holy Spirit to fall upon them. (In fact, the Holy Spirit “had fallen on none of them”, v. 16.) We read of no “sinner’s prayer” to ask Jesus into their hearts. Instead, we read of sinners who “received the word of God” by believing it and being baptized. Did you receive the word of God the same way as these people did in the New Testament? If not, why not? And if not, will you receive God’s word the way they did?
Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
Sin is real, and we have all committed it (Rom. 3:23). The wages of sin is eternal death (Rom. 6:23). The problem is, we (sinners) cannot save ourselves from our sins. We need God’s mercy and grace. In His great love, God sent His Son to be the Savior of the whole world. There is no other power to save sinners except Jesus Christ. Though God desires all to be saved, sinners must put their faith in Jesus in order to be saved. Saving faith is submissive and obedient to the word of Jesus. Do you want to be saved from your sins? Jesus, and only Jesus, can save you. He wants to save you. His gospel reveals what He commands you of you to be saved (Mk. 16:15-16). The decision is yours. Believe and obey Jesus to be saved “by grace, through faith” (Eph. 2:8-9).
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)
Our adversary the devil knows how to wait. Like a lion stalking its prey, Satan has his eyes set on each one of us. He is patient – looking for an opening to strike and devour (1 Pet. 5:8). We have the armor of God to put on and by it, to stand in the day of trial (Eph. 6:10-13). By God’s good help we can endure present trials and temptations as we seek God’s approval instead of the passing pleasures of sin that cause eternal death. Choose divine blessings for the present and eternity. A promise is set before us, brother and sister. Let us love the Lord and not sin. He Lord is faithful to strengthen, protect and save.
2 “Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.” ’ ” 3 Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” 5 Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! 6 “You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” 7 Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:2–7)
The punishment of exile had past. God had returned a remnant of Israel from Babylon to Jerusalem. Now it was time to rebuild the temple, the house of God. But, the people delayed. They were more concerned with building their own houses. Their comfort came before God’s honor! God was not pleased and Israel did not receive a full measure of blessings. The lesson for us is clear. We must consider our ways and align our lives with the purposes of God. God’s people will not flourish as they could and should unless and until He has first place in their hearts and lives. As this year fades and another is on the horizon, consider your ways and bring them into agreement with God’s way, revealed in His Son, Jesus (Heb. 1:1-2; Jno. 14:6).
22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)
Oh, how those who predict the physical city of Jerusalem to be the Mount from which Christ will reign one day have missed the mark! Their entire view of Old Testament prophetic language is skewed and misused as they fail to grasp that the church fulfills God’s promise of a great Messianic kingdom (Eph. 3:10-11). Our passage is very clear. “You have come to Mount Zion” is perfect tense (completed action in the past, with present results) – it is not future tense. Jehovah God has already set His king on His holy hill of Zion in that He raised Jesus from the dead and crowned Him at His right hand of power (Psa. 2:6-7; Acts 13:32-39; 2:32-36; Eph. 1:20-23). There is no greater privilege for sinners who have been saved by Christ’s blood than to be “registered in heaven” (counted among God’s faithful). God wants you to be counted among the saved. Trust the word of Christ and do what He says: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:16).
Love…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:7-8)
Like a roof that protects the house from harsh weather, love shields others in their time of trouble, patiently enduring the trial that comes. Love is not gullible or naive, but neither is it suspicious. Love believes the best of others and grants the benefit of the doubt in the absence of evidence to the contrary. It refuses to trade in evil suspicions (1 Tim. 6:4). Love’s expectant desire is that goodness will prevail; it does not despair. Love perseveres through life’s present obstacles and endures to the end. Love never falters and flees. Love stays the course and fulfills its objective. Undefeated by sin and Satan, love prevails. God has so loved us. Let us so love Him and one another.
Love…does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth… (1 Corinthians 13:6)
Love does not celebrate sin. Oh, how many misunderstand love! The sin of adultery is called a “love affair”, when lust is its true nature (Heb. 13:4). The sin of loving money is prolific and exalted in our materialistic world (1 Tim. 6:6-10). Loving self and loving (sinful) pleasure has defined the masses since ancient times, and it continues to be so to this hour (Gen. 6:5; 2 Tim. 3:1-5). To truly love those in your life, do not take pleasure in their sin. Do not endorse it, encourage it or participate in it. Love makes a clear distinction between sin (iniquity, lawlessness) and the truth. Jesus said God’s word is truth (Jno. 17:17). Therefore, love takes pleasure in the word of God; in learning it, believing it and living it. Love for God compels a yearning for the truth. This is a simple yet profound way to determine whether we truly love God and others. Does truth or iniquity guide our decisions and actions? What are you celebrating; sin or truth?