1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. 3 Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; Though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident. (Psalm 27:1–3, NKJV)
Fear has gripped many. Fear of disease, civil unrest, enemies, the future, and more has settled into countless hearts, filling souls with uncertainty, anxiety, and doubt. The psalmist David turned to the Lord in moments of fear and dread. We can and must do the same. With eyes of faith, David saw the Lord God as his light, his salvation, and the strength of his life (v. 1). David put his confidence in the Lord in the face of wicked enemies. While darkness drives many to be uncertain and fearful of life’s path, Jesus Christ continues to be the light of the world (Jno. 8:12). As many trust wealth, political parties, and even violence as a means of deliverance, true salvation from evil is only found in Jesus Christ (Lk. 19:10; Acts 4:12). Pride leads us to trust in our strength and power, even when experience shows us trusting in the flesh ultimately fails (Jer. 17:5-10). God gives power to the weak who live by faith (Isa. 40:29-31; 2 Cor. 12:9-10). Whatever evil forces arise in your life, the answer to enduring them and being victorious over them is in the Lord. Put your faith in God, love Him, and keep His commandments (1 Jno. 5:3-5).
4 Remember me, O Lord, with the favor You have toward Your people. Oh, visit me with Your salvation, 5 That I may see the benefit of Your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, that I may glory with Your inheritance. (Psalm 106:4–5, NKJV)
God’s historic goodness toward Israel is recited in Psalm 106. From Egypt, to the wilderness, to the land of promise, and to their exile among the Gentiles, Israel repeatedly repaid God’s favor with rebellion. “Many times He delivered them; But they rebelled in their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity” (Psa. 106:43). Yet, God “regarded their affliction,” remembered His covenant when they cried to Him, and showed them mercy among their captors (Psa. 106:44-46). The unrelenting goodness of God compels us to learn from Israel and live faithfully in His blessings under the covenant of Christ. Today, the Israel of God is the church – those who are of the faith of Abraham, not of the flesh of Abraham (Gal. 6:16; 4:21-31; Rom. 2:28-29; 4:12, 16). Those who serve the Lamb of God share in His powerful victory over Satan and his cohorts, for we are “called, chosen, and faithful” (Rev. 17:14). God offers this salvation to the world through Jesus Christ. In Christ we are the recipients of God’s grace, we gladly rejoice as His nation, and we glory in our inheritance (cf. Psa. 106:5; Eph. 1:3-7; 1 Pet. 2:9; Heb. 9:15; 1 Pet. 1:3-4). Just as God gathered a remnant of Israel from the Gentiles, the church is gathered by the gospel as a remnant of grace from the nations. We thank God for His power and triumph in His praise (Psa. 106:47; Rom. 11:5; Isa. 11:11). Truly God’s mercy is “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psa. 106:48).
1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:1–5, NKJV)
The apostle warned of perilous times (seasons of particular fierceness) against godliness and righteousness. These stressful times are identifiable by the character and conduct of harsh, ferocious, even savage people, who cast off the moral restraints of divine truth. There can be little debate that we live in such a time. Love for God and for one’s fellow man is easily abandoned for selfish indulgence. Brutality is minimized, and at times protected as legitimate expressions of free speech, even as voices of faith and reason are silenced by intimidation, threats, and violence. What are the righteous to do? Paul did not tell Timothy to compromise with such people, he told him to avoid them! Do not join them in their appearances of godliness. Rather than trusting the arm of flesh, we must rely on the power of God during such “evil days” by redeeming our time and putting on the whole armor of God (Eph. 5:16; 6:13-17). With patient endurance, we will stand solidly in the power of God’s truth, and share in the victory of faith (1 Jno. 5:4).
Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. (Revelation 3:11, NKJV)
The Christians in Philadelphia are highly commended by the Lord (Revelation 3:7-13). He had confidence they would use the opportunity He had opened for them to persevere and to prevail in their faith despite faithless opponents (Revelation 3:8-10). Christ would come with quick and complete justice upon their enemies. For their part, they were to “hold fast” what they had “firm unto the end” (see Hebrews 3:6). Their steadfastness was necessary in order that “no one may take your crown.” Jesus is crystal clear here. If they did not hold fast it would be possible for someone to take their crown (to prevent their victory). The doctrine of the impossibility of apostasy is absolutely obliterated by this passage. Why hold fast your faith if no one can take your crown? Why anticipate the coming judgment of the Lord against evil as an incentive to remain steadfast in the face of enemies of the faith? The truth is, if Christians abandon holding fast their faith, then they are not victors. They are among those who fall from grace (Galatians 5:4; Hebrews 6:4-6). Let us hold fast to the strength of faith, keep Christ’s word and not deny His name (Revelation 3:8). This is the victory of faith in Christ (1 John 5:4). Be warned. There is no victory in unfaithfulness.
So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. (Joshua 6:20, NKJV)
God gave Jericho to Israel by His grace (Joshua 6:2, 16). Yet, it was necessary that Israel obey in faith for the city walls to collapse (Joshua 6:3-5). Please notice that while the walls fell by God’s grace, the army of Israel still had to take the city. The edge of the sword was applied to this godless city after the walls fell (Joshua 6:21). Spiritual victories require us to fight to possess the Lord’s victories (Ephesians 6:10-13). We must be militant against the forces of evil to gain the victory of faith (2 Corinthians 10:3-5; 1 John 5:3-4). Today’s passage also reminds us our spiritual battle is right in front of us. We fight the good fight of faith alongside fellow Christians, exhorting and helping one another each day (Hebrews 12:12-13). We do this even as we engage in our own battles against temptation, trials and trouble. By grace through faith, victory in Christ is assured.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.’” (Revelation 2:7, NKJV)
What the Spirit of God said to the church of Ephesus (by the Lord’s messenger or “angel,” Revelation 2:1) was said to all the churches of Christ. Christians are urged to lend an ear and give careful attention to the divine message. Notice how the Spirit of God communicates with Christians. It is not through your emotions, feelings, and life events. The Bible says God speaks to us all in the same way, through His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). The apostolic Scriptures are the mind of God, revealed for us to know (1 Corinthians 2:10-13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Also, please see in today’s verse that it is the person “who overcomes” who is given access to the tree of life. Those who prevail will be saved. But, not everyone will eat from the tree of life (Revelation 22:1-5). Some Christians will not listen to Jesus. And so, they will not “fight the good fight of faith” nor “lay hold of eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:12). Refuse to be that kind of Christian. Open yourself to the word of God and faithfully follow Jesus by following “what the Spirit says to the churches.”
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)
Thanksgiving Day is here, reminding us to always be thankful to God. The greatest blessing of all is our victory over sin and death through the Lord Jesus Christ. Sin has been utterly defeated by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Therefore:
1) Be thankful today for God’s grace, by which Jesus died for everyone and brought salvation to all who will believe and obey (Hebrews 2:9; Titus 2:11).
2) Be thankful today that you have received God’s gift of salvation by your obedient faith to Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 5:8-9; Romans 6:17-18).
Death has been utterly defeated by the resurrection of Christ from the dead. The empty tomb is a constant memorial to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God and that he has complete power over death (Romans 1:4; Revelation 1:18). Therefore:
1) Be thankful today that death is no longer fearful – Jesus replaced the fear of death with confident hope (Hebrews 2:14-15).
2) Be thankful today that death will be your doorway into eternal joy, peace and life (Philippians 1:21).
God gives us no greater blessing than victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God!
(Revision of Sword Tips #12)
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12–14, NKJV)
Paul had not yet won the prize to which he aspired. He was pressing toward it, chasing after it as one runs to the finish line to win the crown (1 Corinthians 9:24). The prize he sought was “the resurrection of the dead” unto eternal life (Philippians 3:11). Not many years later, he wrote, “I have finished the race…finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day…” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Paul did not believe in the impossibility of apostasy; He believed in the possibility of faithfulness. He had been forgiven of his past sins – God remembered them no more (Hebrews 10:16-17). So, he would not be hindered by them in his quest. He was “reaching forward to those things which are ahead” – he did not yet hold the prize, he was not “already perfected.” But, he pressed forward, knowing that his crown of righteousness was certain in Christ, as he remained loyal to Him (Philippians 3:8-10). Are you faithfully running your race to attain eternal life? If you will do so, you will be victorious in Christ Jesus.
You have given a banner to those who fear You, that it may be displayed because of the truth. (Psalm 60:4, NKJV)
For centuries, armies used banners or flags to identify and distinguish themselves from their enemy on the battlefield. The raised banner was a rally point for combat, giving assurance that the cause was advancing on the field of battle. God has raised the banner of His Christ as the rallying point for salvation from sin, and as our signal to advance against the enemy, the devil (Isa. 11:10; Rom. 15:12). The cause of truth is identified by, and advances under, God’s banner. It does not fly for the sake of “vain parade or ostentation; it was not to be unfolded in an unrighteous or unjust cause” (Barnes on Psa. 60:4). The banner of the cross is unfurled by all who fear God and work righteousness (Acts 10:34-35). The cause of divine truth will be victorious. Christians, who march according to the authority of Jesus Christ, advance to victory (1 John 5:4; Rev. 17:14).
17 And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, 18 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. (John 19:17–18, NKJV)
“December 7, 1941, a date that will live in infamy—.” So began the address by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the United States Congress after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in which 2,403 Americans were killed, and another 1,178 wounded. Seventy-five years later, we still shudder at that unmerciful disruption of lives and peace. An even greater day of evil was the day the sinless Son of God was murdered – crucified like a criminal. Yet, God turned that day of darkness into the magnificent day of triumph over sin (Isa. 53:10-12; Rom. 5:6-11). Victory over Japanese aggression came at a great cost of American blood and treasure. Victory over sin’s aggression against humanity came at an even greater cost, the blood of the Son of God. As we honor the price paid to defend freedom, may we also and especially remember to honor the One who paid the price that frees us from sin’s oppression and death (Matt. 20:28).