Love Your Neighbor #233

8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)

Love is active, the outward expression in words and deeds of the goodwill and benevolent care toward another. We use the word “love” to describe often describe emotion (from the beauty of a sunset to our family to our family pet) so much so that we may not even grasp its true meaning. We must learn to speak of love – and act in love – in ways that please God. Here, the apostle says we are under a moral obligation to “love one another” (v. 8). Quoting from Leviticus 19:18, he explains such love means loving “your neighbor as yourself” (v. 9). He further explains in verse 10: “love does no harm to a neighbor” (v. 10). The commands of God have embedded within them love for God and love for others. You cannot separate true obedience from genuine love. Since loving others is fulfilled by obeying the command to love your neighbor as yourself, then obeying God’s commands is also how you love Him.

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Make a Defense #232

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. (1 Peter 3:15-16)

People will question you about your hope in Christ; be ready to give an answer. Start with your heart. Hold Christ as supreme; He is Holy God. This is the faith that supports your hope (Heb. 11:1). The answer you give is not about you, so be meek and reverent while making your case for hope in Christ. Use God’s word to give answer; it is the sure foundation for faith in Christ, so “speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11). By doing this you keep a good conscience and give no valid reason to be spoken against as an evildoer.

We Have Left All #231

Then Peter said, “See, we have left all and followed You.” So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Luke 18:28-30)

People leave things in order to follow Jesus. Sin, of course. And the things the world defines and values, things like prestige, popularity and financial success. But following Jesus also means putting everything that is good secondary to the Lord and His will in your life. A house, parents, siblings, children and spouses – these are good, yet Jesus must come before them all. Christians get it – and do it. But, before anyone exalts himself for the great price he has paid to follow Jesus, remember that Jesus left the glory of heaven, putting the Father’s will before His own. By doing so, Jesus put you and me before Himself (read Phil. 2:5-8). By putting Jesus first, His disciple has great blessings now (with “persecutions”, Mk. 10:29-30), and finally, eternal life. Jesus surrendered all for you. Have you surrendered anything for Him? Think on these things, beloved.

Jesus Preached the Kingdom #230

Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15)

Jesus came “preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God”. He was not preaching Moses and the law. He came proclaiming liberty from sin’s bondage – something the law of Moses could never do (Luke 4:17-21; Heb. 10:1-2). Jesus said the time of kingdom fulfillment had come – the kingdom of God was near. Through Jesus, God was about to fulfill His promise to “set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed” (Dan. 2:44). And, He did. The King, who is not of this world, built a kingdom that is not of this world – His church (Jno. 18:36; Matt. 16:18-19). Jesus preached repentance and belief; only a kingdom of repentant believers would do. And so now, the Lord Himself adds sinners to His kingdom when they believe, repent and are baptized for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:36-41, 47; Col. 1:13). His kingdom is composed of Christians. Are you in His kingdom, the church? If not, you can be. Jesus is calling you by His gospel into His kingdom.

Faith to Repent and Forgive #229

Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him. And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” (Luke 17:3-5)

Faith is required to forgive those who sin against us. The worldly impulse when sinned against is to seek retribution. Even greater faith is needed to continue to forgive when sin is repeated. Yet, God repeatedly forgives when we seek His mercy. The forgiveness Christians enjoy in Christ is the model to follow in forgiving one another (see Eph. 4:32). One final thought from this passage: It also takes faith to repent of sin, and especially to continue to repent whenever sin is committed. Strengthen you faith today. Faith will compel you to repent of your sins, and faith will compel you to forgive other sinners when they repent of theirs.

Don’t be a Stumbling Block #228

Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” (Luke 17:1-2)

Jesus acknowledged the reality of stumbling blocks in this life. But, the presence of stumbling blocks does not exonerate the one who actually stumbles (sins) or the one who causes the stumbling. Here, Jesus pronounces destruction upon the person who helps others to sin. Be careful that your words and deeds do not lead others into sin. Only through your repentance will you escape a fate worse than being drown in the depth of the sea!

Where I Go You Know #227

And where I go you know, and the way you know. Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:4-6)

Jesus was about to die, be resurrected from the dead and ascend to the Father in order to accomplish human redemption (Heb. 7:25; 9:24-28). By doing so, Jesus makes the way to heaven possible. You can only come to the Father “through” Jesus. You will only go to heaven on His terms, not your own. He is “the way”, the only way that leads to the Father. His truth is the way that leads to eternal life. Since Jesus is “the truth”, you cannot live in error and go to heaven. It will not do to define Jesus on your terms. Because He is “the truth”, you must conform yourself to Him. Eternal life is only through Jesus; He is “the life”. Come to the Father through Him and be saved.