1 Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; Preserve me from violent men, 2 Who plan evil things in their hearts; They continually gather together for war. 3 They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; The poison of asps is under their lips. Selah (Psalm 140:1–3, NKJV)
David saw Jehovah as the One who would equip him against his enemies, preserving him in battle against evil, violent people. Those who attacked David in war also waged a propaganda war against him. Their lips were full of poison, directed toward his character and his God (remember the words of Goliath, 1 Sam. 17:26, 42-44). Christians are in a battle against spiritual forces that requires unyielding faith in the strength of the Lord to deliver us unto triumph against the adversaries of righteousness (Eph. 6:10-13). God’s deliverance from our enemies begins by us having the faith to put on His armor and fighting the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12). Our life in Christ is not a bed of ease; it is the battlefield of faith. Take up the banner of the cross and live in its shadow. Trust and obey the word of the cross. Therein is full assurance that the Lord will deliver you from evil people, and preserve you for His heavenly kingdom (1 Cor. 1:18-21; 2 Tim. 4:17-18). “Selah” – Pause, ponder and profess with gratitude the greatness of our God, who delivers us from every adversary!
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7–8, NKJV)
The Son of God had just assured those who “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” that “all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). Our heavenly Father knows our needs and supplies them according to His will. And so, we must live by faith in Him and not be distracted by the material riches of this world (Matt. 6:25-34). When we ask, seek and knock at the door of our Father’s favor, we know He gives us what is good for us. The trouble comes when we ask, seek and knock according to our own will instead of the will of God. We will not be answered by the Father when we come to Him with selfish, faithless requests and expectations. Genuine faith drives us to ask, seek and knock in harmony with God’s will. With this submissive trust in God, we are sure our Father hears us and answers us in ways that are always good for us (Matt. 7:11).
27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” (John 12:27–28, NKJV)
The moment of trial is the very moment our heavenly Father is glorified. Although Jesus desired to escape the approaching cup of suffering, His greater desire was to fulfill the Father’s purpose which had brought Him to this hour (cf. Matt. 26:39). When we suffer for the sake of righteousness, let us do so with faith, never doubting God’s revealed will, and never exalting ourselves (Matt. 5:10-12). God is magnified and honored when you freely, willingly and faithfully suffer trials in order to be true to His purposes. The Father spoke from heaven that day, giving miraculous testimony to the people that Jesus is the Christ (read John 12:30-36). God’s word, the Scriptures, continue to testify that Jesus Christ died to cast out the ruler of this world, to draw sinners to Himself, and to light our way to heaven. Follow Jesus, the light of the world, and the darkness of sin will not overwhelm you.
36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible. 38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:36–38, NKJV)
The angel Gabriel’s announcement to the virgin concerning her approaching pregnancy and the nature of her Child is well known (read Lk. 1:26-35). However, you may not be as familiar with today’s text. By telling Mary that her relative Elizabeth (although past the age of childbearing) was six months pregnant, God was giving her a sign that His word about her pregnancy and Child would also come to pass. Mary’s reply is impressive, as she willingly and completely yields herself to the word and will of God on this matter. Mary’s faith is worthy of our imitation. Her meek, submissive faith is just what we must have in order to be favored and blessed by God (Matt. 5:5). The word of God assures us He will fulfill His word concerning us (Heb. 13:5-6). Like Mary, may we offer up ourselves to the Lord to be His servants; with a faith that is wholehearted and without reservation.
1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? (Galatians 3:1–2, NKJV)
Christ expects Christians to obey the truth. Our obedience is not meritorious; we do not earn the right to be saved in heaven through our obedience. Obedience is the natural and completing action of belief; without obedience, faith is incomplete and powerless to save (Jas. 2:17-26). Obedience to Christ is the reasonable response of observing the crucified Christ, who has been put on full display by the gospel. Like a billboard on the roadside, the gospel announces the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to the world as the means of our salvation (something the works of the law of Moses could not do). The “hearing of faith” describes the gospel, “the faith” preached by the apostles (Gal. 1:11, 23). The faith (gospel) produces personal faith, and personal faith is made complete by obeying the truth (Rom. 1:17; Heb. 5:8-9). Are you obeying the truth in faith, or are you relying on something less than the gospel and complete faith to save your soul? Live each day by faith in obedience to the truth of Jesus.
15 Do not lie in wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; Do not plunder his resting place; 16 For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity.” (Proverbs 24:15–16, NKJV)
When a righteous person falls into sin or calamity, the wicked person is tempted to take advantage of the situation; to enrich himself at the expense of the fallen. Yet, the righteous will not remain overwhelmed by the moment of transgression or trial; the righteous rise in confessional repentance to “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (1 Jno. 1:9-2:1; Phil. 3:14). Therefore, do not seize upon the trials of another as if it is your advantage. It is certain that such wickedness will not stand (v. 16). But, the Lord renews the righteous because they trust Him. If you should find yourself overwhelmed by sin or by a burdensome trial, do not lose heart. The Lord forgives sin and strengthens His people to endure present sufferings. Thank God today for His compassion and for the guidance of His word, which renews our faith and strengthens us to move onward to the dawn of eternity.
20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. (James 2:20–23, NKJV)
James makes two piercing statements in today’s passage: “Do you want to know?”, and “Do you see?” The necessity of faith and works (of faith, that is, obedience) is easily demonstrated in the action of Abraham when he offered Isaac on the altar. Do you want to know that faith without works is dead (v. 20)? Some do not. They want to cling to the false teaching that faith only saves? (It does not, for James said a man is “justified by works and not be faith only,” Jas. 2:24.) Do you see that faith is complete only when it is combined with obeying the Lord’s command (v. 22)? When Abraham’s faith was made perfect (complete) by his obedience, his faith was accounted to him for righteousness (v. 23). This does not mean you earn your salvation. It means that incomplete faith will not save you. It is made whole by obeying God. We are friends of God when by faith, we obey Jesus (Jno. 15:14). Do you want to know? Do you see?