What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:9)
What better source to learn from than the apostles of Christ, in order to have the God of peace with you? All the books men may write will never compare with the Scriptures they were guided to write by inspiration. Who better to receive than the apostles Christ sent into the world with His saving gospel? None, for to receive them and their teaching is to receive Christ (Jno. 13:20). Who better to listen to than the ambassadors of Christ? None, for God pleads through them for our reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:20). What better example to follow than the apostles of Christ in order to have peace with God? None save the Christ Himself (1 Cor. 11:1). Do you truly want to have the God of peace in your life? If so, then learn, receive, observe and practice the apostles’ doctrine, “and the God of peace will be with you”.
Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. (Psalm 55:22)
David was being pressed upon by wicked men. Even one who was once his companion now reproached him (Psa. 55:12-14). The son of David, the Christ, would also know the heart pains of a “familiar friend” betraying him (Psa. 41:9; Jno. 13:18). The only one who could relieve such a crushing pain was the Lord, and to Him David turned in trusting faith. Like David, Christians are assured the Lord will carry the burden that would break us. With David we confidently say, “In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psa. 56:11) Fear will not overwhelm us. Cast your burden on the Lord; He is strong to deliver. Ours is but to trust and obey (Psa. 55:23).
36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:36-38)
Having been “cut to the heart” by the gospel – convinced they had crucified the “Lord and Christ” – these believers cried out, “what shall we do?” Better evidence could not exist that “faith only” does not save the lost. These convicted believers were not told they were saved at the point of faith. They were not told to pray the sinner’s prayer for salvation. They were not told to repent because they were already saved. There were not told to be baptized because their sins were already removed. They were told to repent and be baptized “for the remission of sins” and to “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”. What about you? If you believe Jesus is the Christ and you want to be saved from your sins, then do what they were told to do and be saved like they were: Repent and be baptized. Why would anyone settle for anything less?
And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. (Ephesians 5:2)
Love (agape) is fundamentally a decision of the will, not an emotion of the heart. This runs counter to our culture that speaks of falling in and out of love. However, love that acts unselfishly in order to benefit its object is the bedrock of the Christian’s faith and character. Christ’s love is defined by the offering of Himself as a sacrifice to God for our sins. He chose to do that; it was a decision of His will (Jno. 10:18). Similarly, we are to “walk in love” – sacrificing ourselves in the service of others. Deciding to love Christ means sacrificing yourself for Him and for others. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 Jno. 5:3).
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. (Ephesians 5:1)
Little children want to be like their parents. They imitate what they see, and as they mature they become what they mimic. In this context, Paul teaches us to imitate God by forgiving one another as He has forgiven us (Eph. 4:32). There are many things we are to imitate in God. Primary among them is His holiness: “as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy'” (1 Pet. 1:15-16). Be an obedient child of God and pattern your life after His holiness. If you choose to practice sin you will be imitating the “god of this world” (the devil). Who are you imitating today?
16 Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.” (John 7:16-17)
Jesus made the bold claim that He taught the word and will of God. He explained how you can know His message is from God. First, you must have a determination to do God’s will (“if anyone wills to do His will”). When you do not want to do the will of God you will not accept what Jesus said as the word of God. But, if you earnestly want to do God’s will, Jesus said you can and will understand His teaching and its heavenly authority (“he shall know concerning the doctrine”). Understanding the Bible has much to do with the attitude you have when you read it or hear it taught. A hard heart refuses it, but a heart that wants to do God’s will receives the word of Christ. Jesus has spoken God’s will with heaven’s authority. Do you want to do God’s will? If so, then you can understand His teaching.
25 And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?” 26 Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (John 6:25-27)
Why are you following Jesus? These people followed Him because they ate the miraculous food He provided the multitude from five barley loaves and two small fish (Jno. 6:9-14). The next day, Jesus focused on their motive for following Him around the Sea of Galilee, and it was not a pretty picture. They had a selfish reason for following Jesus: They wanted more food! But, when Jesus offered them Himself as “the bread of God” who “comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” they became increasingly disinterested. Eventually, many stopped following Him (Jno. 6:33-66). Jesus wants you to follow Him because of your faith in Him as the Son of God and as the only One who can satisfy your hunger for salvation. Follow Jesus because He is “the bread of life”. He alone can fill your soul with God’s mercy, forgiveness and eternal life.