1 These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. 3 And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. 4 But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you. (John 16:1–4)
The words of Jesus comfort the faithful. Even though faced with opposition, rejection and threats of death, the apostles of Christ were assured by the Master that they are known by Him and by the Father. The world does not know God and His Son, Jesus. Christians do. The word of Christ gives us strong encouragement and strengthens our faith against very temptation, every trial meant to break us. Remember the words of Jesus today. He will never fail you or forsake you.
6 Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! (Matthew 18:6–7)
Our words and actions affect others. With a life of faith you can positively impact others (Matt. 5:14-16). But, also see in this verse that Jesus said it is possible for you to cause others to sin. Sin is never isolated; it has an evil, debilitating influence. Here, a Christian may set a snare before other believers and thereby helping them to sin. Christ delivers a divine denunciation (“woe”) on the disciple who leads a believer into sin. We expect unbelievers to set stumbling blocks before us. But, a Christian should never lay a snare before another believer. We must be careful to help one another be faithful to the Lord instead of helping each other sin against Him.
3 He spoke this parable to them, saying: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:3–7)
The Good Shepherd has compassion on every lost sheep. Like a shepherd who searches for the one lost sheep, Jesus searches for each lost soul. Furthermore, each soul is so precious that heaven responds with rejoicing when a single soul is saved. Never think you are worthless in God’s sight! He is full of compassion for you, and in love He sent His Son to save you from the wilderness of sin and death. Hear His voice and follow Him. Repent, and heaven will rejoice.
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).