ENCOURAGEMENT TODAY, CONQUERING DOUBT PART 33








02/03/20


"Rejoice in the Lord" (Phil. 3:1).


Happiness is related to circumstances; joy is a gift from God.


Not long ago it was common to see bumper stickers proclaiming every conceivable source for happiness. One said, "Happiness is being married." 


Another countered, "Happiness is being single." One cynical sticker read, "Happiness is impossible!"


For most people happiness is possible but it's also fickle, shallow, and fleeting. As the word itself implies, happiness is associated with happenings, happenstance, luck, and fortune. If circumstances are favorable, you're happy. If not, you're unhappy.


Christian joy, however, is directly related to God and is the firm confidence that all is well, regardless of your circumstances.


In Philippians 3:1 Paul says, "Rejoice in the Lord" (emphasis added). The Lord is both the source and object of Christian joy. Knowing Him brings joy that transcends temporal circumstances. Obeying Him brings peace and assurance.


Joy is God's gift to every believer. It is the fruit that His Spirit produces within you (Gal. 5:22) from the moment you receive the gospel (John 15:11). It increases as you study and obey God's Word (1 John 1:4).


Even severe trials needn't rob your joy. James 1:2 says you should be joyful when you encounter various trials because trials produce spiritual endurance and maturity. They also prove that your faith is genuine, and a proven faith is the source of great joy (1 Pet. 1:6-8).


You live in a world corrupted by sin. But your hope is in a living God, not a dying world. He is able to keep you from stumbling and make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy (Jude 24). 


That's your assurance of future glory and eternal joy! Until that time, don't neglect His Word, despise trials, or lose sight of your eternal reward. They are key ingredients of your present joy.


Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank the Lord for any difficult circumstances you might be facing. Ask Him for continued grace to see them through His perspective and not lose heart (Gal. 6:9).
  • Be aware of any sinful attitudes or actions on your part that might diminish your joy. Confess them immediately.

For Further Study

Read Acts 16:11-40.

  • What difficulties did Paul and Silas face in founding the Philippian church?
  • How did God use their difficulties for His glory?


Part II


The Essence of Idolatry


“‘You thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you, and state the case in order before your eyes’” (Psalms 50:21).


Idolatry is more than worshiping some inanimate object; it is having an unworthy conception of God.


Western society, with all its culture and scientific knowledge, is in the same satanic trap that governs the life of an aborigine bowing down to a rock. We all have our gods. Many worship the god of materialism—getting more stuff is their highest pursuit. Others worship the gods of sex or entertainment. Of course, behind all of this is the worship of self.


However, the essence of idolatry is possessing thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. It may be creating a god, but it also may be making the true God into something He isn’t, or thinking something about God that is untrue.


God said to the wicked in Psalm 50:21, “You thought that I was just like you.” That’s precisely what some have imagined about God. They have portrayed God after their own sinful mental image of Him. Careless Christians can do this also.


In The Knowledge of the Holy A. W. Tozer writes, “The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. 


Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason, the gravest question before the church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.”


As we learn about God this month, ask Him to remove misconceptions you may have about Him. Be diligent to learn what God says about Himself and not what you or others think He is like.


Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God that He is the only God.
  • Pray for forgiveness if you have been more committed to any other god or if you think thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.


For Further Study

  • The ancient Greeks had hundreds of gods. Just for good measure the Athenians built an altar to the unknown god. Read Acts 17:16-34. How did Paul approach those who worshiped false gods?
  • How can you use Paul’s example as you witness to unbelievers today?


PART III


James and John—Raw Recruits


“Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him” (Matthew 4:21-22).


When Jesus first called James and John, they were unrefined, tough fishermen by trade. The Holy Spirit had already drawn them to faith in the Savior (John 1:35–512:11), but now Jesus summoned them to work as evangelists in spreading His gospel. 


Like Peter and Andrew, they did not hesitate to leave the fishing business, which for James and John meant leaving the fishing to their father to follow Jesus right away.


These disciples lacked formal education and likely didn’t have much religious training either, nor was their spiritual perception noticeably apparent. They showed no more ability to fully understand Jesus’ teaching than any of the others, even when He taught in parables. 


They often demonstrated only slight potential for dependability, much less for greatness.


Jesus’ disciples were probably not all such raw recruits as James and John (or Peter and Andrew), but Jesus did not choose any of the Twelve from the Jewish elite religious leaders (cf. 1 Cor. 1:26–29). That omission undoubtedly caused many of those men—the scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, priests, and rabbis—to reject the Lord and Savior. They could not fathom how someone who was not an official Jewish leader Himself and who chose no leaders to be among His closest associates could possibly be the Messiah.


Paul was the only apostle who had been a Jewish leader, and of course he was not among the original Twelve but considered himself “one untimely born,” exceptionally called to be an apostle (cf. 1 Cor. 15:8–10). As with everyone who believes, God’s call came by His exceeding grace.


Ask Yourself

Jesus had purpose for calling the ones He did into His ministry, just as He has purpose for calling you. If you’re failing to see the value He has placed on you, let the fishermen’s story encourage you today. He has more in mind for you than you can imagine—if you’ll just keep following.


PART IV


Reading for Today:


Notes:

Exodus 15:20 the prophetess. Miriam was the first woman to be given this honor. She herself claimed the Lord had spoken through her (Num. 12:2). She apparently played an important role in these rescue events because the prophet Micah states that God delivered Israel by the hand of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam (Mic. 6:4). Other women to receive this rare honor were Deborah (Judg. 4:4); Huldah (2 Kin. 22:14); Isaiah’s wife (Is. 8:3); Anna (Luke 2:36); and Philip’s four daughters (Acts 21:9).


Exodus 16:31 Manna. The arrival of the quails in much quantity (v. 13) was totally overshadowed by the arrival of manna the next morning. Despite the different descriptions given for its form and taste (vv. 14, 31), the name chosen for it derived from the question they asked. “Manna” was an older form of their question, “What is it?” The psalmist referred to manna as the “bread of heaven” and “angels’ food” which rained down after God had opened the windows of heaven (Ps. 78:23–25). 


Natural explanations for the manna, such as lichen growing on rocks or insect-excreted granules on tamarisk thickets, are totally inadequate to explain its presence in sufficient quantity on the ground under the dew every day except the Sabbath for the next 40 years (v. 35) to satisfy every family’s hunger. It was supernaturally produced and supernaturally sustained to last for the Sabbath!


Matthew 21:25 The baptism of John—where was it from? Jesus caught the Jewish leaders in their own trap. They had no doubt hoped that He would answer by asserting that His authority came directly from God (as He had many times before—see John 5:19–2310:18). 


They then accused Him of blasphemy and used the charge as an excuse to kill Him—as they had also attempted to do before (John 5:1810:31–33). Here, however, He asked a question that placed them in an impossible dilemma, because John was widely revered by the people. 


They could not affirm John’s ministry without condemning themselves. And if they denied John’s legitimacy, they feared the response of the people (v. 26). In effect, Jesus exposed their own lack of any authority to examine Him.


Matthew 21:42 The stone…rejected. This refers to His crucifixion; and the restoration of “the chief cornerstone” anticipates His resurrection. the chief cornerstone. To the superficial eye, this quotation from Psalm 118:2223 is irrelevant to the parable that precedes it. But it is taken from a messianic psalm. Jesus cited it to suggest that the Son who was killed and thrown out of the vineyard was also “the chief cornerstone” in God’s redemptive plan.


How are we to think about the astonishing miracles reported in Exodus?


The scientific materialism of many twenty-first-century people makes it difficult for them to consider any so-called miracles. If the laws of nature are considered supreme, the existence of a personal Supreme Being above the laws of nature and able to override them becomes inconceivable. 


Examples of miracles do little to convince someone who is already convinced that miracles are impossible.

Miracles can demonstrate God’s existence; they don’t prove it. Human beings display an amazing ability to come up with alternative explanations for God’s activity in history. 


The situation is not that twenty-first-century people can’t believe in miracles; rather, it is that twenty-first-century people often won’t believe in miracles.


For Christians, the matter is settled by faith. In becoming Christians, we had to believe in the central miracle: God came in the flesh, Jesus Christ, who lived, died, and rose from the dead to reign eternally as Lord and Savior. 


In the light of that miracle, the miracles of Exodus become less a matter for speculation and more a matter of wonder and worship. They are examples of the lengths to which God went to communicate to people. Even twenty-first-century Christians are humbled and awestruck by God’s amazing power!




02/02/20


Joy and Godliness


"I rejoice and share my joy with you" (Phil. 2:17).


True joy is directly related to godly living.


Philippians is often called the epistle of joy—and rightly so because the believer's joy is its major theme. Paul loved the Philippian Christians and they loved Him. When they learned that he had been imprisoned for preaching the gospel, they were deeply concerned.

Paul wrote to alleviate their fears and encourage their joy. 


Of his own circumstances he said, "Even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. And you too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me" (Phil. 2:17- 18).


Often a Jewish animal sacrifice was accompanied by a libation or drink offering (e.g., Num. 15:1-10). 


The animal was the greater sacrifice; the libation the lesser. Drawing from that picture, Paul placed greater significance on the faith and spiritual well-being of his readers than on his own life. 


To suffer for Christ's sake brought him joy, and he wanted the Philippians to understand that perspective and rejoice with him.

He also wanted them to understand that joy doesn't operate in a vacuum. It's directly related to godly living. Christ is its source; obedience is its sustenance. 


We see that in David's cry of repentance: "Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation" (Ps. 51:12). Paul knew the joy of the Lord because he trusted Christ and obeyed His will.


The scarcity of joy and godliness in the world today makes it imperative that Christians manifest those characteristics. 


As we do, others will see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).


This month we will highlight various aspects of joy and godliness from Philippians 1:1-11and Colossians 1:9-12. I pray you will be eager to learn from God's Word, and willingly obey what you learn, for therein is "joy inexpressible and full of glory" (1 Pet. 1:8).


Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to use our daily studies to strengthen your joy and increase your godliness.
  • Seek to emulate Paul's attitude of preferring others to yourself—a key element in joyful living.


For Further Study

Read the book of Philippians, noting each reference to joy.

  • What brought joy to Paul?
  • On what or whom do you rely for joy?


PART II


Pursuing the Knowledge of God


“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).


God’s greatest desire for us is that we seek diligently to know Him.


To know God and all that He has revealed about Himself is the highest pursuit of life. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prov. 9:10). Such a realization should really be the starting point for all of life’s other pursuits.

As David gave his throne to his son Solomon, his primary counsel was that Solomon know God: “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever” (1 Chron. 28:9).


Knowing God not only determines the quality of one’s present life, but also the destiny of one’s life in eternity. Jesus says, “And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3). Eternal life is simply knowing God in an intimate way for the rest of eternity. It begins here on earth when we believe in Christ and partake of His very nature and life.


How can we know God? The Lord says, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13). Solomon teaches us, “For if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord, and discover the knowledge of God” (Prov. 2:3-5). 


This pursuit of God must be our top priority in life. Otherwise, it is so easy to be distracted by the pursuit of money, career success, personal power and prestige, or any earthly endeavor that demands our time and energy.


Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord that you know Him personally.


For Further Study

Read 2 Peter 1:1-11.

  • What are the benefits to those who know God?
  • What qualities should be evident in your life?


PART III


Obeying Jesus’ Call


“He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed Him” (Matthew 4:19–20).


Peter and Andrew obeyed Jesus’ call right away—“Immediately they left their nets and followed Him”—an indication of how determined they were to go with the Lord. The word “followed” carries the meaning of being committed to imitating the one he or she follows.


Past surveys have shown that 95 percent of all professing Christians have never led someone to faith in Jesus Christ. Too often they are like the reclusive, frugal man many years ago who accumulated 246 expensive violins in the attic of his house in Italy. Because he selfishly acquired and held on to those instruments, the world never heard the beautiful music the violins were intended to play. 


Many believers hide their light and store away the great treasure they possess as children of God. As a result, 95 percent of the world’s spiritual violins have not been played for others.

Evangelist D. L. Moody especially admired two similar paintings. The first depicted a person in the midst of a storm clinging with both hands to a cross firmly planted in a rock. 


The other picture also showed a person in a storm firmly grasping a cross. But in this one the man was reaching out with his other hand to rescue someone who was about to drown. 


Both paintings pictured a Christian valiantly holding on to Christ. But the second one portrayed the believer reaching out for another who was about to be lost. For us, as for D. L. Moody, the second picture should be the favorite.


Ask Yourself

Would “immediately” describe the way you travel to Jesus’ side when He calls? How quickly does His Word make its way from your conscious mind into conscious action?


PART IV


“He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed Him” (Matthew 4:19–20).


Peter and Andrew obeyed Jesus’ call right away—“Immediately they left their nets and followed Him”—an indication of how determined they were to go with the Lord. 


The word “followed” carries the meaning of being committed to imitating the one he or she follows.

Past surveys have shown that 95 percent of all professing Christians have never led someone to faith in Jesus Christ. Too often they are like the reclusive, frugal man many years ago who accumulated 246 expensive violins in the attic of his house in Italy. Because he selfishly acquired and held on to those instruments, the world never heard the beautiful music the violins were intended to play. 


Many believers hide their light and store away the great treasure they possess as children of God. As a result, 95 percent of the world’s spiritual violins have not been played for others.

Evangelist D. L. Moody especially admired two similar paintings. The first depicted a person in the midst of a storm clinging with both hands to a cross firmly planted in a rock. 


The other picture also showed a person in a storm firmly grasping a cross. But in this one the man was reaching out with his other hand to rescue someone who was about to drown. Both paintings pictured a Christian valiantly holding on to Christ. But the second one portrayed the believer reaching out for another who was about to be lost. For us, as for D. L. Moody, the second picture should be the favorite.


Ask Yourself

Would “immediately” describe the way you travel to Jesus’ side when He calls? How quickly does His Word make its way from your conscious mind into conscious action?





02/01/20


COMPLEMENTING CHRIST


God exalted Christ "and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all" (Eph. 1:22-23).

The church was designed to complement Christ.


Here Paul uses a graphic analogy to illustrate the relationship of Christ to the church: He is the head; believers are His body. Paul elaborates that we're to hold "fast to the head [Christ], from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God" (Col. 2:19; cf. Eph. 4:15-16).

Just as the head controls the human body, so Christ governs His Body, the church (cf. 1 Cor. 12:12-31). 


By His Spirit and His Word He supplies all the resources the church needs to function to His glory. In that way He guarantees that His purposes will be fulfilled.


The church is in fact "the fulness of Him who fills all in all" (Eph. 1:23). The implication is that the incomprehensible, all-sufficient, all-powerful, and utterly supreme Christ is in a sense incomplete—not in His nature, but in the degree to which His glory is seen in the world.


A synonym for "fulness" is "complement." The church was designed to complement Christ. He is the One "who fills all in all"—the fullness of deity in bodily form (Col. 2:9) and the giver of truth and grace (John 1:16). Yet He chooses to reveal His glory in and through the church. Therefore, until the church is fully glorified, Christ will not be fully complemented.


Does your life complement Christ? Do you "adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect" (Titus 2:10)? Do you "let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16)? You have every spiritual resource to do so, so don't let anything hold you back (Heb. 12:1-2)!


Suggestions for Prayer

Read Psalm 139:23-24 and pray with David that God will search your heart and reveal any sin that might hinder you from complementing Christ today.


For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-30.

  • What spiritual gifts are mentioned in this passage?
  • How does Paul deal with the misconception that some gifts are more important than others (see vv. 14-30)?
  • As a member of Christ's Body, you are gifted by the Spirit to minister to others. Are you doing so?


Part II


“Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).

Compared to walking worthy of Christ, nothing else is really important.

Let’s review what Paul has taught us from Ephesians 4:1-6. God has chosen and called us to be part of His family, and He expects us to act like His children. He wants us to walk worthy of Christ and be unified.


To follow God’s will in this, we must, with His help, deal with our sin and develop godly virtues. Our lives must first be marked by “all humility” (v. 2). We become humble when we see ourselves as unworthy sinners and see the greatness of God and Christ. Pride will always be a temptation, but we can resist it if we remember that we have nothing to be proud about; every good thing we have is from God. He alone deserves the glory; we can take no credit.


Humility produces “gentleness,” which is power under control. Gentle people willingly submit to God and others. They may become angry over what dishonors God, but they are forgiving to those who hurt them.

“Patience” flows from gentleness. A patient person endures negative circumstances, copes with difficult people, and accepts God’s plan for everything.


We must “love” others with a forbearing love. Christian love is selfless, and forbearance keeps us from gossiping about the failures of others and causes us to love our enemies.


“Unity” (v. 3) is the goal of the worthy walk, and only diligent believers who pursue these virtues of the worthy walk will contribute to such unity. Because we have one Body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one Father, we should behave as a unified people. Then we will have the effective testimony God wants for us.

Only one thing really matters from the moment you become a Christian until the day you see Jesus—that you walk worthy of Him. What you own, what you know, and what you do for a living are not all that important.


Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to give you the resolve to walk worthy every day.


For Further Study

Read Hebrews 11 and perhaps some related Old Testament passages, and note what was representative of the main characters’ walks with the Lord.


PART III


“Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother” (Matthew 4:18).

When Jesus called His first disciples, such as Peter and Andrew, He was gathering together the original group of evangelists to help fulfill His Great Commission. 


The Lord had the sovereign prerogative to carry out the Great Commission by Himself, but that was not His plan. Instead, He wanted to have partners in ministry. His plan was to use disciples to make other disciples. Jesus would teach them other things and mandate other responsibilities, but His first call to the disciples was for them to be “fishers of men.”


Jesus’ decision to select twelve apostles follows the pattern God established many centuries earlier. The Father always chose His most significant partners in ministry, such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and all the prophets. He chose Israel as an entire nation of ministry partners—“a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6). 


So it is no wonder that Christ told the disciples, “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain” (John 15:16; cf. 6:7013:18Rom. 16:5).


Our Lord commands that all His followers be evangelistic fishermen. The command “follow Me” in the Greek literally means “come here.” The original text also has the term “after,” which indicates the place we must come to: “Your place is following after Me!” This is His chosen place and posture for you.


Ask Yourself

If we truly knew the gravity of this, we would never get over our amazement that the God of the universe has chosen to live in relationship with us. What goes missing from your life when you forget that you have been personally called by God to your kingdom tasks and priorities?



PART IV


Reading for Today:

Notes:

Exodus 11:5 the firstborn. The firstborn held a particularly important position in the family and society, not only inheriting a double portion of the father’s estate, but also representing special qualities of life and strength (see Gen. 49:3). In Egypt, the firstborn would ascend to the throne and continue the dynasty. Whatever significance might have been attached religiously, politically, dynastically, and socially, it was all stripped away by the extent and intensity of the plague—namely, the execution of all the firstborn of all classes of the population including their animals.

Proverbs 6:2–4 snared…come into the hand. See 22:26, 27. Anyone who becomes responsible for another person’s debt is trapped and controlled because he has yielded control of what God has given him as a stewardship. The situation is so serious that it is imperative to take control of one’s own God-given resources and get out of such an intolerable arrangement immediately (“deliver yourself,” vv. 3, 4) before coming to poverty or slavery. See Genesis 43:944:3233.

Matthew 20:28 to give His life a ransom for many. The word translated “for” means “in the place of,” underscoring the substitutionary nature of Christ’s sacrifice. A “ransom” is a price paid to redeem a slave or a prisoner. Redemption does not involve a price paid to Satan. Rather, the ransom is offered to God—to satisfy His justice and wrath against sin. The price paid was Christ’s own life—as a blood atonement (see Lev. 17:11Heb. 9:22). This, then, is the meaning of the cross: Christ subjected Himself to the divine punishment against sin on our behalf (see Is. 53:45). Suffering the brunt of divine wrath in the place of sinners was the “cup” He spoke of having to drink, and the baptism He was preparing to undergo (v. 22).


DAY 31: Describe the chronology of the Exodus.

Date

Event

Reference

Fifteenth day, first month, first year

Exodus

Exodus 12

Fifteenth day, second month, first year

Arrival in Wilderness of Sin

Exodus 16:1

Third month, first year

Arrival in Wilderness of Sinai

Exodus 19:1

First day, first month, second year

Erection of Tabernacle

Exodus 40:117


Dedication of Altar

Numbers 7:1


Consecration of Levites

Numbers 8:1–26

Fourteenth day, first month, second year

Passover

Numbers 9:5

First day, second month, second year

Census

Numbers 1:118

Fourteenth day, second month, second year

Supplemental Passover

Numbers 9:11

Twentieth day, second month, second year

Departure from Sinai

Numbers 10:11

First month, fortieth year

In Wilderness of Zin

Numbers 20:122–2933:38

First day, fifth month, fortieth year

Death of Aaron

Numbers 20:22–2933:38

First day, eleventh month, fortieth year

Moses’ Address

Deuteronomy 1:3



01/31/20


The Lord shall soon, and very soon indeed come again in the clouds for His own blood bought peoples... 


Only be sure to know... that just as in Noah's day there was a time appointed... 


And that "Great Door" upon the Ark should be closed and the time was fleeting even then... 


So today the time draws near and ever closer, and in these lasts days very close indeed... 


And just as then..there must soon needs be that this time, this age of grace, this epoch/age/this dispensation of time shall pass... 


And just as in Noah's day they were placed with in the Ark of their salvation and lifted high above the wrath of God that would fall upon the scoffers... 


So shall those that are found to be saved in Christ Jesus be taken for a season high above the wrath of God that shall fall upon this dark and evil world "the great tribulation period/ also called the time of Jacobs trouble". 


For the Lord just before that day of judgement falls shall come and gather up His saved, born again peoples, and very shortly now it would appear... for the time is fleeting now even as it was then... even so come Lord Jesus...



“Can the return of Christ truly be said to be imminent?"


Answer: The word imminent means “likely to happen at any moment; impending.” When we speak of the imminence of Christ’s return, we mean that He could come back at any moment. There is nothing more in biblical prophecy that needs to happen before Jesus comes again. The imminence of Christ’s return is generally taught among evangelicals, with some disagreement according to one’s view of dispensationalism and whether one holds a pre-, mid-, or post-tribulational view of the rapture.


Jesus spoke of His return repeatedly during His ministry, which naturally prompted questions from His disciples. One of their questions was, “When will these things happen?” (Mark 13:4). Jesus responded, “Of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come” (verses 32-33). It is important to remember in any discussion of eschatology that God does not intend for us to fully understand the timing of His plans.


However, the Bible says that Jesus’ return is near, and we are to wait eagerly for it (Romans 8:19-25; 1 Corinthians 1:7; Philippians 4:5; Jude 21). James encourages us to “be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near” (James 5:8). Revelation 1:3 and 22:10 also say that “the time is near.”


Jesus taught His disciples to watch for His return. “You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Luke 12:40). The command to “be ready” implies imminence. Throughout the New Testament, the church is told to be ready (Philippians 3:20; Titus 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:6). If the disciples and the early church were to expect the coming of the Lord at any time, how much more should we be waiting in keen expectation?


At this point, it is good to distinguish between the second coming of Christ, proper, and the rapture of the church. The second coming of Christ, when He defeats His enemies and sets up His kingdom, will not occur until after certain other end-times events take place, including the tribulation (Matthew 24:15-30; Revelation chapters 6–18). Therefore, the second coming is not imminent. However, according to the pre-tribulational view, the rapture will take place before the tribulation. The rapture could occur at any moment (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54) and can rightly be called “imminent.”


Our salvation is “ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). Jesus could return for His own at any moment, and that event will set in motion the series of events detailed in Revelation 6-18. Like the five wise virgins in Jesus’ parable (Matthew 25:1-13), we must be ready. “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13).



“What is the rapture of the church?"


The word rapture does not occur in the Bible. The term comes from a Latin word meaning “a carrying off, a transport, or a snatching away.” The concept of the “carrying off” or the rapture of the church is clearly taught in Scripture.


The rapture of the church is the event in which God “snatches away” all believers from the earth in order to make way for His righteous judgment to be poured out on the earth during the tribulation period. The rapture is described primarily in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50–54. God will resurrect all believers who have died, give them glorified bodies, and take them from the earth, along with all living believers, who will also be given glorified bodies at that time. “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17).


The rapture will involve an instantaneous transformation of our bodies to fit us for eternity. “We know that when he [Christ] appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). The rapture is to be distinguished from the second coming. At the rapture, the Lord comes “in the clouds” to meet us “in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). At the second coming, the Lord descends all the way to the earth to stand on the Mount of Olives, resulting in a great earthquake followed by a defeat of God’s enemies (Zechariah 14:3–4).


The doctrine of the rapture was not taught in the Old Testament, which is why Paul calls it a “mystery” now revealed: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52).


The rapture of the church is a glorious event we should all be longing for. We will finally be free from sin. We will be in God’s presence forever. There is far too much debate over the meaning and scope of the rapture. This is not God’s intent. Rather, the rapture should be a comforting doctrine full of hope; God wants us to “encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).



“How can I be ready to be caught up in the rapture?"


(Note: The Tribulation is a time of judgment on earth, our Lord Jesus will Rapture the saved, we will study the events that will happen)


The rapture is coming, and we should all make sure we are ready for it. Being ready for the rapture is much simpler than you may think. In short, you must receive Jesus Christ as your Savior. The rapture is for believers.


Here is a clear prophecy of the rapture of the church: “According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 


For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 


After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:15–18). 


Note that Paul is writing to believers concerning those who are “in Christ” and thus have the promise of resurrection. Those who are saved are ready for the rapture.


The unsaved are not ready for the rapture. In fact, that day of the Lord (which begins with the rapture) will come upon the unsaved “like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). Those who are left behind in the rapture will be those who do not have the Spirit of Christ dwelling within them. 


Believers are ready: “You, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief” (1 Thessalonians 5:4).


The children of God are ready for the rapture because of their faith. They are the five wise virgins in Jesus’ parable who have their lamps trimmed and burning and full of oil—a picture of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 25:1–13). 


Unfortunately, faith will be lacking in most of the people on earth; the time before Jesus’ coming will be characterized by spiritual coldness and unbelief. Jesus spoke of His return and asked, rhetorically, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).


Are you ready for the rapture? Jesus knows His own, and He will come for them (John 10:14; 14:1–3). The only way you will be left behind in the rapture is if you have not received Christ as your Savior. 


If you are not saved, then today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Do not delay another moment. Trust Christ now.



"When is the Rapture going to occur in relation to the Tribulation?"


The timing of the rapture in relation to the tribulation is one of the most controversial issues in the church today. The three primary views are pre-tribulational (the rapture occurs before the tribulation), mid-tribulational (the rapture occurs at or near the mid-point of the tribulation), and post-tribulational (the rapture occurs at the end of the tribulation). A fourth view, commonly known as pre-wrath, is a slight modification of the mid-tribulational position.


First, it is important to recognize the purpose of the tribulation. According to Daniel 9:27, there is a seventieth "seven" (seven years) that is still yet to come. Daniel's entire prophecy of the seventy sevens (Daniel 9:20-27) is speaking of the nation of Israel. It is a time period in which God focuses His attention especially on Israel. The seventieth seven, the tribulation, must also be a time when God deals specifically with Israel. While this does not necessarily indicate that the church could not also be present, it does bring into question why the church would need to be on the earth during that time.


The primary Scripture passage on the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. It states that all living believers, along with all believers who have died, will meet the Lord Jesus in the air and will be with Him forever. The rapture is God's removing of His people from the earth. A few verses later, in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, Paul says, "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." The book of Revelation, which deals primarily with the time period of the tribulation, is a prophetic message of how God will pour out His wrath upon the earth during the tribulation. It seems inconsistent for God to promise believers that they will not suffer wrath and then leave them on the earth to suffer through the wrath of the tribulation. The fact that God promises to deliver Christians from wrath shortly after promising to remove His people from the earth seems to link those two events together.


Another crucial passage on the timing of the rapture is Revelation 3:10, in which Christ promises to deliver believers from the "hour of trial" that is going to come upon the earth. This could mean two things. Either Christ will protect believers in the midst of the trials, or He will deliver believers out of the trials. Both are valid meanings of the Greek word translated "from." However, it is important to recognize what believers are promised to be kept from. It is not just the trial, but the "hour" of trial. Christ is promising to keep believers from the very time period that contains the trials, namely the tribulation. The purpose of the tribulation, the purpose of the rapture, the meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:9, and the interpretation of Revelation 3:10 all give clear support to the pre-tribulational position. If the Bible is interpreted literally and consistently, the pre-tribulational position is the most biblically-based interpretation.




"How can I be sure I won't be left behind in the rapture?"


The series of Left Behind novels and movies has prompted a lot of questions from a lot of people: is the rapture for real? (Answer: yes.) Will the rapture be followed by a time of divine judgment on earth? (Answer: yes.) Will I be left behind in the rapture? (Answer: that depends.)


The rapture is what we call the event in which Jesus comes again to take believers out of this world. The Bible calls it a “catching away” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) and describes it as an instantaneous “change” of the body that bypasses death (1 Corinthians 15:51–52). Those raptured “will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Believers in Jesus Christ are taken in the rapture; unbelievers will be left behind when the rapture occurs.


Those left behind in the rapture will face a quickly changing world—and the change will not be for the better. Second Thessalonians 2:11 says that the “power of lawlessness” is currently being held in check by the Holy Spirit. At the rapture, the true church is removed from the earth, and the Holy Spirit’s restraint will be “taken out of the way.” At that moment, the world will have no born-again believers anywhere. All the Christian workers in hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, rescue missions, relief agencies—gone. Every Christian in law enforcement, social work, and health care—gone. And of course many churches will sit empty. In addition to the great void in the service community will be the commencement of God’s judgment on a rebellious world, detailed in Revelation 6—16.


Don’t be left behind. Make sure you are ready for the rapture. Since the rapture is for believers, it is vital that you place your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior (Acts 16:31). Repent of your sin and fully trust in Jesus alone as the payment for your sin. Believe in Him, and you will not perish (John 3:16). The Lord knows who are His, and He will leave none of them behind (John 10:14).


Those who are saved by faith in Christ will not be left behind in the rapture. The saved are like the five wise virgins in Jesus’ parable who are ready for the coming of the bridegroom; they have their lamps trimmed and burning and full of oil—a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 25:1–13). To make sure that you are not left behind, trust Christ. Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Do not delay another moment. The matter is urgent. Trust Christ now.




“Will there be a second chance for salvation after the rapture?"


Some Bible interpreters believe that there will be absolutely no chance for salvation after the rapture. However, there is no place in the Bible that says this or even hints to it. There will be many people who come to Christ during the tribulation. The 144,000 Jewish witnesses (Revelation 7:4) are Jewish believers. If no one can come to Christ during the tribulation, then why are people being beheaded for their faith (Revelation 20:4)? No passage of Scripture argues against people having a chance to be saved after the rapture. Many passages indicate the opposite.


Another view is that those who hear the gospel and reject it before the rapture cannot be saved. Those saved during the tribulation, then, are those who had never heard the gospel before the rapture. The “proof text” for this view is 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11, which says the antichrist will work miracles to deceive “those who are perishing” and that God Himself will “send them a powerful delusion” to confirm them in their unbelief. The reason given is that “they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (verse 10). Granted, those who are hard-hearted toward the gospel before the rapture are likely to remain so. And the antichrist will deceive many (Matthew 24:5). But “those who refused to love the truth” does not necessarily refer to people who heard the gospel before the rapture. It could be anyone who wholly rejects God’s salvation, at any time. So, there is no clear scriptural evidence to support this view.


Revelation 6:9-11 speaks of those martyred during the tribulation “because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained.” These martyrs will correctly interpret what they see during the tribulation and will believe the gospel themselves and call on others to repent and believe as well. The antichrist and his followers will not tolerate their evangelism and will kill them. All of these martyrs are people who were alive before the rapture, but who were not believers until afterward. Therefore, there must be opportunity to come to Christ in faith after the rapture.




Will there be a partial rapture?"


There are some believers who hold that only faithful Christians will be taken in the rapture, with unfaithful Christians left on earth to suffer through the tribulation. The problem is that the Bible does not support such a concept. The passages which describe the rapture (1 Corinthians 15:50-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) definitely seem to apply universally to all Christians, mature and immature, faithful and disobedient. Verses like Romans 8:1 and 1 Thessalonians 5:9 tell us that God does not pour out His wrath on Christians. There is no biblical evidence whatsoever for a partial rapture. Every believer will be taken to heaven in the rapture.


Jesus' parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-13 has been for some the "proof" of a partial rapture. However, the five virgins whose lamps did not have any oil are not symbolic of believers being left behind; rather, it is describing unbelievers being left behind. The key is verse 12 where Jesus says to those left behind, "Truly I say to you, I do not know you." Those whom Jesus knows are believers in Him, whether vigilant or not. The essential element in the parable is the oil in the lamps, oil being symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Those who have the Holy Spirit living in their hearts will be taken in the rapture because they are truly Christians. Those who profess faith in Christ, but who do not possess His Spirit, will be left behind.


The lesson for us is to be ready because Christ is coming again for His own, but He will come as a "thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:4)"suddenly, unexpectedly and unannounced. Only those whose lamps (hearts) contain the oil (the Holy Spirit) will be taken. The rest, regardless of their professions, will be left behind. Jesus knows His own, and when He calls us, we will respond. To the rest He will say, "I never knew you." Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2), and if there are any who do not know the Savior, they dare not delay another moment.



“Who will occupy the Millennial Kingdom?"


There will be two distinct groups occupying the Earth during the millennial kingdom"those with glorified bodies, and those with earthly bodies who lived through the tribulation and on into the millennial kingdom. Those with glorified bodies consist of the Church, receiving glorified bodies at the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:21-23, 51-53), and those who are resurrected after Christ returns to Earth (Revelation 20:4-6). Those who have earthly bodies can be subdivided into two groups: believing Gentiles and believing Jews (Israel).


In Revelation 19:11-16, we find the return of Jesus Christ to Earth, known as His second coming. The rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53) is an appearing of Christ in the air, not His second coming. I mention this to make a distinction between the rapture and the second coming of Christ. There is no mention in Revelation 19-20 of any kind of rapture event. The implication is that saints who are on Earth when Christ returns will remain on Earth to enter the millennial kingdom in their natural bodies. If the rapture or any kind of event where a living believer receives a glorified body were included in the second coming of Christ to Earth, one would expect to find reference to such a major event in Revelation 19. But no such reference is to be found. The only event that results in believers receiving glorified bodies is found in Revelation 20:4-6 where those who became believers during the Tribulation and were killed because of their faith are resurrected. It is also believed that at this same time Old Testament saints will be resurrected, also receiving glorified bodies (see Daniel 12:2).


Matthew 25:31-46 is another passage that should be considered. This passage is commonly called the separation or judgment of the sheep and the goats. The sheep and goats refer to righteous and unrighteous Gentiles. Christ will judge the unrighteous Gentiles (goats), and they will be cast into the lake of fire for eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46). Therefore, no unbelieving Gentile will survive to live on into the millennial kingdom. The righteous Gentiles, or sheep, will live on into the millennial kingdom. They will give birth to children and will populate the Earth. However, these are not the only ones who will be producing children during the millennial kingdom.


The impression is given that when Christ returns, all Israel will trust in Him (Zechariah 12:10). They, too, will not receive glorified bodies (as did those who were raptured prior to the tribulation and those resurrected afterward). They also will produce children during the millennial kingdom.


So, believing Gentiles, Israel, and resurrected/raptured believers (all of whom have glorified bodies) will occupy the Earth. It should be noted, however, that believers with glorified bodies will not be reproducing. There is no marriage after this life (Matthew 22:30).


Children born during the millennial kingdom will have the responsibility of faith in Christ as all people of past ages have (faith in Christ since His coming; faith in God before"Genesis 15:2-6; Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 3:20). Unfortunately, not all of the children that are born during the millennial kingdom will come to faith in Christ. Those that do not will be led away by Satan into rebellion against God at the end of the millennial kingdom when Satan is let loose for a short time (Revelation 20:7-10).


For a further look at this subject (who will live into the millennial kingdom), look also at the following passages: Isaiah 2:2-4; Zechariah 14:8-21; Ezekiel 34:17-24; Daniel 7:13-14; Micah 4:1-5




“What is the mark of the beast?"


The main passage in the Bible that mentions the "mark of the beast" is Revelation 13:15-18. Other references can be found in Revelation 14:9, 11, 15:2, 16:2, 19:20, and 20:4. This mark acts as a seal for the followers of Antichrist and the false prophet (the spokesperson for the Antichrist). The false prophet (the second beast) is the one who causes people to take this mark. The mark is literally placed in the hand or forehead and is not simply a card someone carries.


The recent breakthroughs in medical implant chip and RFID technologies have increased interest in the mark of the beast spoken of in Revelation chapter 13. It is possible that the technology we are seeing today represents the beginning stages of what may eventually be used as the mark of the beast. It is important to realize that a medical implant chip is not the mark of the beast. The mark of the beast will be something given only to those who worship the Antichrist. Having a medical or financial microchip inserted into your right hand or forehead is not the mark of the beast. The mark of the beast will be an end-times identification required by the Antichrist in order to buy or sell, and it will be given only to those who worship the Antichrist.


Many good expositors of Revelation differ widely as to the exact nature of the mark of the beast. Besides the implanted chip view, other speculations include an ID card, a microchip, a barcode that is tattooed into the skin, or simply a mark that identifies someone as being faithful to the Antichrist's kingdom. This last view requires the least speculation, since it does not add any more information to what the Bible gives us. In other words, any of these things are possible, but at the same time they are all speculations. We should not spend a lot of time speculating on the precise details.


The meaning of 666 is a mystery as well. Some speculated that there was a connection to June 6, 2006"06/06/06. However, in Revelation chapter 13, the number 666 identifies a person, not a date. Revelation 13:18 tells us, "This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666." Somehow, the number 666 will identify the Antichrist. For centuries Bible interpreters have been trying to identify certain individuals with 666. Nothing is conclusive. That is why Revelation 13:18 says the number requires wisdom. When the Antichrist is revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), it will be clear who he is and how the number 666 identifies him.




“Is it possible for a person to get the mark of the beast today?"


The mark of the beast is some kind of seal that followers of the Antichrist will take in allegiance to him. The prophecy of Revelation 13:16–17 says that the image of the beast “forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.” You


We don’t know what this mark will look like. A while ago, some thought it was a stamp or tattoo of the number 666. More recently, people thought it might be a bar code. 


Now a popular speculation is that the mark of the beast will be an implanted microchip that allows people to access their digital currency. But we honestly have no way of knowing what form the mark of the beast will take.


Some people fear that they have already taken the mark of the beast. They may have blasphemed God at some point or made some impulsive statement of allegiance to the Antichrist. 


They may worry about the chip in their credit card. Others have been told that their act of worshiping the Lord on Sunday instead of the Sabbath constitutes accepting the mark of the beast. There is one significant reason why it is impossible to get the mark of the beast now:


The mark of the beast does not exist yet.


A literal reading of Revelation and other end-times prophecy in the Bible shows that there is a schedule for the end-times events. Daniel prophesied of seventy weeks (seventy sets of seven years) that mark the time of God’s interaction with Israel. 


Sixty-nine of those weeks have passed since Daniel’s writing. The final week will be what we call the tribulation, which is when the Antichrist, or the beast, will rise to power. This ruler will join together ten nations (Daniel 7:24–25; Revelation 17:7) and make a deceptive treaty with Israel (Daniel 9). The mark of the beast cannot exist until the beast himself is in power during the tribulation.


Another reason believers in Jesus Christ should not fear getting the mark of the beast now is the rapture of the church. In the rapture, Jesus will take all believers, living and dead, from the earth (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18; 1 Corinthians 15:50–54). Although people will still come to know Christ after the rapture, all those who trust Jesus before the rapture will be taken to be with the Lord. According to pretribulationism, believers who live in the church age will never have an opportunity to receive the mark of the beast.


So, there is nothing anyone can do today to get, take, or receive the mark of the beast. Implanted chips, bar codes, tattoos, blaspheming, saying out loud, “I follow the Antichrist and accept the mark of the beast”—none of these will give you the mark of the beast. The mark of the beast cannot exist without the “beast,” or the Antichrist demanding it.



New Year’s resolution, should a Christian make? 


Here are some suggestions: 


(1) pray to the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5) regarding what resolutions, if any, He would have you make; 


If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. - James 1:5 (Have faith and believe. God is faithful and keeps all his promises, such is the case that the work He started in you He will take to completion.)  YOU ARE SAVED!!! NEVER DOUBT, IN THIS, HE GETS HONOR AND GLORY. 


(2) pray for wisdom as to how to fulfill the goals God gives you; 


(3) rely on God’s strength to help you; 


(4) find an accountability partner who will help you and encourage you; 


(5) don’t become discouraged with occasional failures; instead, allow them to motivate you further; 


(6) don’t become proud or vain, but give God the glory. Psalm 37:5-6 says, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”


And when you go through trials and tribulations, as of now exercise the following verse and memorize it:


JAMES 1:2-4

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,

3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.


When you count it all joy, you are trusting in the Lord and you’re running to him in prayer who is waiting for you with open arms.


And He will do for you over in abundance than what you ask for. He loves us and we are his children.  


20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. - Ephesians 3:20-21.  


God bless you and your family, with health, joy and an amazing fellowship with him, and others.  And may you prosper in all you do for his honor and glory, and whatever you do, again, do for the honor and glory of God, if it does not honor and glorify God, don’t do it it’s a sin.  




Identifying False Wisdom


“This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic” (James 3:15).


True wisdom is from God; false wisdom is from the Devil.


Wisdom that is bitterly jealous and self-centered is not “from above.” Such traits constitute a wisdom that doesn’t come from God, the source of true wisdom (cf. 1:5, 17). Human wisdom, rather than being from above, is “earthly” (3:15). It is limited to the sphere of time and space and marked by the curse of man’s own fallenness, which is characterized by pride and self-centeredness. 


Everything the world initiates in the way of supposed truth is self-centered. Unregenerate man’s finite system demands an earthly wisdom and nothing more.


Man’s wisdom is also “natural” (v. 15), which means “fleshly” and refers to man’s humanness and frailty. First Corinthians 2:14 says, “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God.” The natural man is sensual. All his feelings, impulses, and appetites are locked up in a fallen and corrupted system. All of man’s wisdom comes from his unsanctified heart and unredeemed spirit.


Besides being earthly and natural, human wisdom is “demonic” (James 3:15). This is the only place in the New Testament where the Greek word translated “demon” appears in its adjectival form. Human wisdom is actually generated by demons, who have been made captive to the same evil system as man. Satan and his agents disguise themselves as ministers of light when in fact they are ministers of darkness (2 Cor. 11:14-15).


The wisdom of the world is spawned by demons, reflects man’s humanness, and proceeds no further than the fallenness of mankind. Since that is so, be sure to “be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10). Don’t let Satan and the world beguile you with their so-called wisdom.


Suggestions for Prayer

Pray to be “filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (Col. 1:9-10).


For Further Study

According to 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 and Colossians 2:8, how is the believer to fight against Satan and his demonic wisdom?




The Results of False Wisdom


“Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing” (James 3:16).


False wisdom ruins lives.


Renowned eighteenth-century theologian Jonathan Edwards said the following about the effect of the Fall on man:

Sin, like some powerful astringent, contracted his soul to the very small dimensions of selfishness; and God was forsaken, and fellow-creatures forsaken, and man retired within himself, and became totally governed by narrow and selfish principles and feelings. Self-love became absolute master of his soul, and the more noble and spiritual principles of his being took wings and flew away. 


Edwards’s analysis certainly agrees with what James is saying: man is self-centered (cf. James 3:1416). Where self-centeredness exists, there will be negative results. One such result is “disorder” (v. 16). The term refers to disorder that comes out of instability and chaos. 


Earthly wisdom will never produce harmony or love because it’s proud and self-indulgent. It destroys intimacy, love, unity, and fellowship, and in its place brings discord and chaos. You can see the result of earthly wisdom all over our world today. Anger, bitterness, lawsuits, and divorces are just part of the legacy.

“Every evil thing” also results from earthly wisdom (v. 16). The phrase speaks of something worthless or vile. Greek scholar R.C. 


Trench said it contemplates evil, “not so much that either of active or passive malignity, but rather of its good-for-nothingness, the impossibility of any true gain ever coming forth from it.” The Greek word translated “thing” implies that false wisdom produces nothing of any practical value. At its best it produces worthless things; at its worst it produces vile things.


Which kind of life do you prefer? One that is characterized by love and unity, or by instability and chaos? A life with fulfillment and meaning, or with emptiness? If you want a life that satisfies and has eternal value, choose divine wisdom!



01/30/20


Our Unity in the Father


“One God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6).


There is only one God, and we will have a strong testimony by worshiping Him and holding on to what unites us.


The last point of Christian unity Paul mentions in Ephesians 4:4-6is that Christians have “one God and Father.” In Paul’s day, people believed in many gods; so he emphasizes our God’s uniqueness. No person or object can compare with God because He is “above all,” which means He is the sovereign creator and controller of the universe; He is “through all,” as the providential upholder of the universe; and He is “in all,” which refers to His personal, indwelling presence.


Throughout the Old Testament, God emphasizes His uniqueness: “Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other” (Deut. 4:39). “I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God” (Isa. 45:5). 


The Israelites were surrounded by nations that worshiped many gods, and God had to continually warn them about idolatry and judge them when they practiced it.


Israel’s worship of the only true God was to be their central point of unity. It was to set them apart from the nations around them. By worshiping Him alone, they not only would remain strong as a nation, but would be a witness to the Gentiles of God’s greatness.


As Christians, we have the same Father, and like Israel, our unity is founded on Him, as well as the other “ones” listed in Ephesians 4:4-6: one Body, one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. When we hold to these, we will be a powerful witness to the world.


Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for His uniqueness, that He alone is above all, through all, and in all.


For Further Study

The Psalms not only are rich with instruction about God but are also excellent means of praising Him. Read one psalm a day for the next several months, and write down what you learn about God. Whenever the psalmist praises God, let that be your prayer as well. When you have finished reading all the Psalms, you will know, honor, and love God more than ever.



Serving the Supreme One


God exalted Christ "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet" (Eph. 1:21-22).


Now and forever Christ is the Supreme One!


Yesterday we saw that Christ has both an exalted name and an exalted, authoritative position. In verses 21-22 Paul elaborates on the extent of Christ's authority, which is "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion."


"Rule," "authority," "power," and "dominion" are designations for angelic beings, whether good or evil (cf. Eph. 6:12Col. 1:16). In His incarnation Christ was made lower in rank than the angels that He might suffer death on our behalf (Heb. 2:9). Now He has "become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they" (Heb. 1:4), and the Father commands all the angels to worship the Son (v. 6).

But Christ's rule extends far beyond angelic beings. In Ephesians 1:21 the phrase "every name that is named" is a general reference to any form of authority—whether angelic or human, eternal or temporal. 


Now and forever Christ is the Supreme One! Ultimately every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11).

The implications of that truth are staggering. For example Christ precedes the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20, the heart of Christian evangelism and discipleship, with this significant statement: "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth."


Ultimately your evangelism and discipleship efforts will bear fruit because they are backed by the authority of Christ Himself. Does that encourage you to seize every opportunity to share Christ and His Word with others? It should!

Be faithful today, realizing that you represent the One in whom lies all authority. Nothing can thwart His purposes.


Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to a lost soul or anyone else you can encourage from the Word. Be sensitive to His leading.


For Further Study

Read Colossians 1:15-23.

  • What was Christ's role in creation (vv. 15-17)?
  • What is His role in the church (v. 18)? In salvation (v. 23)?
  • What place have you given Him in your life?



The Gospel’s First Demand—Repentance


“From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matthew 4:17).


The message that Jesus brought to the people—the “great light” He revealed to those “sitting in the land of shadow and death”—was always very clear: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Our Lord thus began with the same basic exhortation that His herald, John the Baptist, had begun with (cf. Matt. 3:2).

Repentance is a crucial but often neglected or omitted element of the gospel. “Repent” means to turn from sin, to change your orientation, and in so turning to seek a new way of life. 


The person who repents has a radical change of will and heart, and as a result, a change of behavior (cf. Matt. 3:8). The repentant sinner will radically change the way he or she views sin and righteousness. 


Repentance was, is, and always will be the foremost demand of the gospel. It is quite simply the first part of the saving work of the Holy Spirit in the sinner’s soul. In his Pentecost sermon, Peter also issued a call for repentance: “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). 


Paul reassured Timothy that repentance leads “to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 2:25). If repentance was crucial for the people of Jesus’ day, it is even more imperative for everyone today, because the kingdom is nearer than ever.


Ask Yourself

Like all of us, you’ve confessed many things, many times before. But today is another good opportunity to take repentance seriously. What sins need its corrective touch in your life? Bring them before the Father. Receive His mercy. Walk away refreshed and in freedom.



Reading for Today:


Notes:

Exodus 9:14 My plagues. God’s use of the possessive pronoun specified what should have become abundantly clear to Pharaoh by then, namely, that these were God’s own workings. to your very heart. “To send to the very heart” was apparently a colloquial expression denoting someone’s being made to feel the full force of an act, to feel it strike home!


Exodus 10:13 an east wind. God used natural means, most probably the spring hot wind, or “sirocco,” to bring the locusts into the country from the Arabian peninsula.


Proverbs 5:21, 22 ponders…caught. The Lord sees all that man does and in mercy withholds immediate judgment, allowing the sinner time to repent or to be caught in his own sin (see Num. 32:23Pss. 7:151657:6Prov. 1:17Gal. 6:78). Note the example of Haman (Esth. 5:9–147:1–10).


Matthew 20:16 the last will be first, and the first last. In other words, everyone finishes in a dead heat. No matter how long each of the workers worked, they each received a full day’s wage. Similarly, the thief on the cross will enjoy the full blessings of heaven alongside those who have labored their whole lives for Christ. Such is the grace of God.


Why don’t the Egyptian historical records acknowledge the events of the Exodus?


The absence of any Egyptian record of the devastation of Egypt by the 10 plagues and the major defeat of Pharaoh’s elite army at the Red Sea should not give rise to speculation on whether the account is historically authentic. Egyptian historiography did not permit records of their pharaohs’ embarrassments and ignominious defeats to be published. 


Interestingly, one of the subtle proofs of the truth of Scripture is the way in which it records both the triumphs and the tragedies of God’s people. The Bible offers as many examples of failure as it does of faith.

Despite the absence of any extra-biblical, ancient Near Eastern records of the Hebrew bondage, the plagues, the Exodus, and the Conquest, archeological evidence corroborates Israel’s dramatic exit from Egypt as occurring during the Eighteenth Dynasty (about 1445 B.C.), a setting of great political strength and economic strength in Egyptian history. Egypt was a world military, economic, and political superpower.


HAVE A BLESSED DAY. 


MAXIMILIANO 




01/29/20


Our Unity in the Spirit


“There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).


All Christians are part of the same Body, with the same Spirit, who is our pledge of eternal life.


Everything God ever designed for the church is based on the unity of believers. Paul emphasizes that by listing seven “ones” in these verses. One is the key; it is the cause of the worthy walk.


How many bodies of Christ are there? There isn’t a Presbyterian body, a Baptist body, and a Methodist body; nor is there a California body, a Utah body, and a Kansas body. There is just one Body, the church. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). Whatever your race, creed, nationality, or language, when you become a Christian, you become one with every other believer.


Paul’s next point is that there is only one Spirit, who dwells in every believer. First Corinthians 6:19says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?” We “are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22). Individually we are the temple of the Spirit; collectively we are the dwelling of the Spirit.


We are also “called in one hope of [our] calling.” We have only one eternal calling, only one eternal destiny, and the Holy Spirit guarantees our heavenly hope. “You were sealed in [Christ] with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance” (Eph. 1:13-14). He is our down payment, the first installment of our eternal inheritance.


Ephesians 4:4 focuses on the Holy Spirit’s ministry to us: we are placed into one Body by the Spirit, one Spirit dwells in us, and our one hope is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit.


Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for the Holy Spirit’s ministry in the church and in your life.

For Further Study

First Corinthians 12 has much to say about church unity. Read it carefully, noting in particular what the Spirit does in the Body and what our responsibility is as individual believers.


PART II


Striving According to God's Power


"These are in accordance with the working of the strength of [God's] might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead" (Eph. 1:19-20).


In Christ you have all the power you will ever need.


The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the great hope of believers. Because He lives, we will live also (John 14:19). Peter said we have been "born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away" (1 Pet. 1:3-4). We and what we have are protected by God's power (v. 5).


In Ephesians 1:19-20 Paul draws two comparisons. The first is between the power God demonstrated in the resurrection and ascension of Christ, and the power He demonstrates on behalf of every believer. That power is described as God's "working," "strength," and "might." Together those synonyms emphasize the greatness of God's power, which not only secures our salvation, but also enables us to live godly lives.

The second comparison is between our Lord's resurrection and ascension, and ours. The grave couldn't hold Him, nor can it hold us (1 Cor. 15:54-57). Satan himself couldn't prevent Christ's exaltation, nor can he prevent us from gaining our eternal inheritance.


In Christ you have all the power you will ever need. For evangelism you have the gospel itself, which "is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Rom. 1:16). For difficult times you have the assurance that the surpassing greatness of God's power is at work in you (2 Cor. 4:7). For holy living you have God Himself at work in you "both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13).


No matter how weak or ill-equipped you may at times feel, realize God "is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that [you] ask or think, according to the power that works within [you]" (Eph. 3:20). So keep striving according to that power (Col. 1:29), but do so with the confidence that ultimately God will accomplish His good in your life.


Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God that He can and will accomplish His purposes in your life (Phil. 1:61 Thess. 5:24).
  • Pray for wisdom in how you might best serve Him today.

For Further Study

Read Psalm 145, noting every mention of God's power David makes. Allow those examples to fill your heart with confidence and praise.


PART III


Christ’s Galilean Ministry Fulfills Prophecy


“This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet” (Matthew 4:14).


Centuries before the Incarnation, the prophet Isaiah foretold this great truth: “‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a Light dawned’” (from Isa. 9:1–2).


And eight hundred years later—just as prophesied—the despised, unbelieving Galileans glimpsed the Messiah and, ahead of many of the Jews in Jerusalem, saw the dawning of God’s new covenant.


The Jews in Galilee were less sophisticated and traditional than those in Judea. The Jewish historian Josephus noted that the Galileans “were fond of innovations and by nature disposed to change, and they delighted in seditions.” They even had a regional accent distinct from the Judeans (cf. Matt. 26:73). Jesus likely chose His apostles from Galilee because they too would have been less bound to Jewish tradition and more open to the gospel.


Jesus’ going to Galilee to really begin His ministry shows that salvation was for sinners everywhere, with no distinctions or restrictions. It fulfilled Old Testament truth, which God revealed through the Jews (cf. Rom. 3:1–2). However, it was not an accommodation to the proud, exclusive Judaism prevalent in Jesus’ day. It was no accident that “the Light of the world” (John 8:12) first proclaimed Himself and His message in Galilee.


Ask Yourself

As we’ll continue to see, Jesus often went to the least expected, the least admired, the least in the pecking order to administer His grace and reveal His identity. What is your level of concern and compassion for those in the greatest need of the gospel? Pray for a heart that beats like Jesus’ heart did—and does.


PART IV


Reading for Today:


Notes:

Exodus 5:2 Who is the LORD…? In all likelihood Pharaoh knew of Israel’s God, but his interrogative retort insolently and arrogantly rejected Him as having any power to make demands of Egypt’s superior ruler.


Exodus 5:2223 Moses returned to the LORD. Whether Moses and his brother remonstrated with the foremen about their strong and wrong evaluation remains a moot point. Rather, the focus is upon Moses, who remonstrated with the Lord in prayer. Evidently, Moses did not anticipate what effect Pharaoh’s refusal and reaction would have upon his own people. Confrontation with Pharaoh so far had provoked both angry resentment of Israel by the Egyptians and of Moses by Israel—this was not the expected scenario!


Matthew 18:24 ten thousand talents. This represents an incomprehensible amount of money. The talent was the largest denomination of currency, and “ten thousand” in common parlance signified an infinite number.


Matthew 18:28 a hundred denarii. About 3 months’ wages. This was not a negligible amount by normal standards, but it was a pittance in comparison to what the servant had been forgiven.


DAY 28: Are there other messianic prophecies in the Psalms other than Psalm 16:10?

Prophecy

Psalm

Fulfillment

1. God will announce Christ to be His Son

2:7

Matthew 3:17Acts 13:33Hebrews 1:5

2. All things will be put under Christ’s feet

8:6

1 Corinthians 15:27Hebrews 2:8

3. Christ will be resurrected from the grave

16:10

Mark 16:6,7Acts 13:35

4. God will forsake Christ in His moment of agony

22:1

Matthew 27:46;Mark 15:34

5. Christ will be scorned and ridiculed

22:7,8

Matthew 27:39–43Luke 23:35

6. Christ’s hands and feet will be pierced

22:16

John 20:25,27Acts 2:23

7. Others will gamble for Christ’s clothes

22:18

Matthew 27:35,36

8. Not one of Christ’s bones will be broken

34:20

John 19:32,33,36

9. Christ will be hated unjustly

35:19

John 15:25

10. Christ will come to do God’s will

40:7,8

Hebrews 10:7

11. Christ will be betrayed by a friend

41:9

John 13:18

12. Christ’s throne will be eternal

45:6

Hebrews 1:8

13. Christ will ascend to heaven

68:18

Ephesians 4:8

14. Zeal for God’s temple will consume Christ

69:9

John 2:17

15. Christ will be given vinegar and gall

69:21

Matthew 27:34John 19:28–30

16. Christ’s betrayer will be replaced

109:8

Acts 1:20

17. Christ’s enemies will bow down to Him

110:1

Acts 2:34,35

18. Christ will be a priest like Melchizedek

110:4

Hebrews 5:66:207:17

19. Christ will be the chief cornerstone

118:22

Matthew 21:42Acts 4:11

20. Christ will come in the name of the Lord


LORD BLESS HIS ELECT

My Royal Family


LOVINGLY IN THE LOVE OF OUR LORD JESUS

E+1DAY


MAXIMILIANO



01/28/20


Seeking Righteous Attitudes


“I . . . entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).


God is most concerned about who we are, because who we are determines what we do.


Now that we’ve looked in depth at Ephesians 4:1-3, let’s take a step back. These verses reveal a basic truth: the Christian life is not primarily about what we do but who we are. When Paul teaches about the worthy walk, about how we live each day, he never discusses actions, only attitudes.


It is possible to have what I call “action fruit”—such as praise (Heb. 13:15), giving (Phil. 4:17), evangelism (Rom. 1:13), and other good works (Col. 1:10)—without “attitude fruit,” which is the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). Plenty of people can do good deeds without inner righteousness. But that’s legalism; that’s the hypocrisy that the Bible speaks so much about. The right path to true spirituality is to have proper attitudes first. The Holy Spirit works through our attitudes to produce right actions.


Unfortunately, many Christians miss this point. To them, being a Christian is primarily a list of do’s—going to church, putting money in the offering, carrying a Bible—and don’ts—not cursing, not drinking, not murdering. They see external behavior as the fact of Christianity instead of the manifestation of it. They don’t cultivate the inner graces.

Of course, God wants us to live righteous lives. But to those with merely external actions, Jesus said, “Woe to you . . . hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. . . . First clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also” (Matt. 23:25-26). 


Don’t let yourself become a slave to external religion. Make sure you do your good works out of love for God and others, as part of the overflow of the spiritual fruit in your life.


Suggestions for Prayer

If you see hypocrisy in yourself, ask God to purge it. Pray for and diligently seek attitude fruit.


For Further Study

Jesus warned about internal sinfulness in Matthew 5:212227-30 and external righteousness in 6:1-18 and 7:1-5. How is Proverbs 4:23 an antidote to those?


PART II


Trusting in God's Power


"I pray that ... you may know ... the surpassing greatness of [God's] power toward us who believe" (Eph. 1:18-19).


The same divine power that created, sustains, and controls the universe secures your salvation.


God’s power is awesome! David wrote, “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Thine is the dominion, O Lord, and Thou dost exalt Thyself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from Thee, and Thou dost rule over all, and in Thy hand is power and might; and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone. Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious name” (1 Chron.29:11-13).


In Ephesians 1:19 Paul focuses on one key feature of God’s power: His ability to secure the salvation of His people. And he prays for you to understand the surpassing greatness of that truth.


The Greek word translated “power” is dunamis, from which we get dynamite and dynamo. This power is active, dynamic, and compelling—and it is mightily at work on your behalf. You might not always sense it, but it’s there nonetheless.

Peter expresses the same thought in 1 Peter 1:5, where he says you are “protected by the power of God through faith” in Christ. In that verse “protected” means “to keep or guard” and reflects Peter’s confidence that salvation is inviolable.


The same limitless power that created, sustains, and controls the universe saved you and keeps you saved. That’s why Jesus said no one can snatch you out of the Father’s hand (John 10:29). Not even Satan has the power to do that. Paul confidently added that nothing therefore can separate you from God’s love (Rom. 8:38-39). That’s the confidence you should have as you live each day.


Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for greater spiritual enlightenment and a clearer understanding of your security in Christ. Nothing will rob you of your assurance quicker than unconfessed sin. If that has happened to you, confess it immediately and turn from it. Then ask God to restore to you the joy of your salvation.


For Further Study

Read 1 Chronicles 29:11-13.

  • What prerogatives did David attribute to God (vv. 11-12)?
  • What was David's response to God's power (v. 13)?


PART III


The Lord's Ministry All According to Plan


“He withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea” (Matthew 4:12-13).


Nothing was accidental or happenstance about Jesus’ earthly ministry. He did not go from Judea to Galilee because Herod or the Jewish leaders forced Him to or because He had nowhere else to go. He left Judea because His work there was finished for the time being. 


And He came to Galilee because that was the next place, according to the Father’s plan, for Him to minister.


Humanly speaking, Jesus left the lower Jordan region for Galilee because of the Jewish leaders (cf. John 4:13). His close association with John the Baptist as well as His growing number of followers had caused the scribes and Pharisees to hate Jesus as much or more than they hated John. Jesus was not afraid of their hatred but removed Himself from the leaders’ immediate influence because it was not yet time for them to fully turn their wrath on Him.


The Lord by no means avoided the Jewish leaders permanently, for at the appropriate, foreordained time, He faced them without flinching and denounced them far more harshly than John the Baptist ever did (cf. Matt. 23:1–36). Jesus was simply forever safe from wicked human schemes and devices. He knew He would die, but it would be according to the will of His Father, not that of His earthly enemies (cf. John 10:17–18). He also knew He would rise from the dead, all according to the divine plan.


Ask Yourself

Can Christians live with the same kind of bold assurance that Jesus did, fearlessly walking through life at the Spirit’s direction? If the worst that could happen would only put us that much closer to Jesus, what reason do we have for fear? Why not resolve to follow Jesus’ example?


PART IV


Reading for Today:

Notes:


Exodus 4:21 I will harden his heart. The Lord’s personal and direct involvement in the affairs of men so that His purposes might be done is revealed as God informed Moses what would take place. Pharaoh was also warned that his own refusal would bring judgment on him (v. 23). Previously Moses had been told that God was certain of Pharaoh’s refusal (3:19). This interplay between God’s hardening and Pharaoh’s hardening his heart must be kept in balance. 


Ten times (4:21; 7:3; 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:4, 8, 17) the historical record notes specifically that God hardened the king’s heart, and ten times (7:13, 14, 22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 34, 35; 13:15) the record indicates the king hardened his own heart. The apostle Paul used this hardening as an example of God’s inscrutable will and absolute power to intervene as He chooses, yet obviously never without loss of personal responsibility for actions taken. 


The theological conundrum posed by such interplay of God’s acting and Pharaoh’s acting can only be resolved by accepting the record as it stands and by taking refuge in the omniscience and omnipotence of the God who planned and brought about His deliverance of Israel from Egypt and, in so doing, also judged Pharaoh’s sinfulness.


Matthew 18:3 become as little children. This is how Jesus characterized conversion. Like the Beatitudes, it pictures faith as the simple, helpless, trusting dependence of those who have no resources of their own. Like children, they have no achievements and no accomplishments to offer or commend themselves with.


Matthew 18:20 two or three. Jewish tradition requires at least 10 men (a minyan) to constitute a synagogue or even hold public prayer. Here, Christ promised to be present in the midst of an even smaller flock—”two or three” witnesses gathered in His name for the purpose of discipline.


DAY 27: Is it okay to question God?

Upon hearing that God was sending Moses to be the leader/deliverer of Israel (Ex. 3:10), his response of “Who am I…?” is an expression of inadequacy for such a serious mission. It sounded reasonable, for after 40 years of absence from Egypt, what could he, a mere shepherd of Midian, do upon return?


But was Moses crossing the line from reasonable inquiry to unreasonable doubt in 3:13? God’s patient replies instructing Moses on what He would do and what the results would be, including Israel’s being viewed with favor by the Egyptians (3:21), ought to caution the reader from hastily classifying Moses’ attitude as altogether wrong from the very beginning of the interaction between him and the Lord. Yes, Israel might ask for God’s name in validation of Moses’ declaration that he had been sent by the God of their fathers. Asking “What is His name?” meant they sought for the relevancy of the name to their circumstances—the character, quality, or essence of a person. God’s answer was: “I AM WHO I AM” (v. 14). 


This name for God points to His self-existence and eternality; it denotes “I am the One who is/will be.” The significance in relation to “God of your fathers” is immediately discernible: He’s the same God throughout the ages!


A response of divine anger comes only in 4:14 at the very end of Moses’ questions and objections, where he moved beyond inquiry into objection.


LORD BLESS HIS ELECT

My Royal Family


LOVINGLY IN THE LOVE OF OUR LORD JESUS

E+1DAY


MAXIMILIANO




01/27/20


The Bond of Peace


“Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).


The key to peace in the church is selfless love.


People often delude themselves that there is peace when there is no real peace (Jer. 8:11). However, we can show the world that Jesus is the true peacemaker if we have a community of peaceful, loving, united believers. Others will realize then that Christ must be sent from God, because only God can make true, lasting peace.


“The bond of peace” is what holds our unity together. The Greek word translated “bond” refers to a belt. It pictures the Body of Christ being wrapped with the belt of peace, a peace that is born of love.


Our bond of peace is vital to our testimony. As Christians, we have “peace with God” (Rom. 5:1) and “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18), the privilege of telling others how they may have peace with God. If we don’t have peace among ourselves, why would unbelievers look to us to find peace with God?


The Corinthian church teaches us how not to have peace. Members would have a “love feast,” followed by Communion. Apparently, though, those who brought food gorged themselves and became drunk, leaving the poorer believers to go hungry (1 Cor. 11:17-22). 


Those gluttons not only dishonored the Lord but also hurt their fellow believers, causing resentment and conflict.


During their worship services, everyone wanted attention. Paul laments, “Each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation” (1 Cor. 14:26)—and they all wanted to speak at once. They weren’t interested in building up each other, only in being heard. The result was a loud, confusing mess.


The Corinthians’ disharmony was evident in different ways, but the root cause was the same: selfishness.


So where does peace come from? Selflessness, the primary characteristic of Christian love. Philippians 2:3says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.” We must humble ourselves and focus on the needs of others. When that happens, there will be harmony and unity.


Suggestions for Prayer

Confess any selfishness, and ask God to help you grow in selfless love.


For Further Study

What does Romans 8:6 equate peace with? Memorize this verse during the next few days.


PART II


Maintaining a Clear Perspective


"I pray that . . . you may know . . . what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints" (Eph. 1:18).


How you perceive your spiritual resources dictates how you live.


Throughout Ephesians 1 Paul is clearly struck with the magnificence of our inheritance in Christ. Here he prays that we will know the riches of its glory.


Some commentators see "His inheritance" as a reference to believers, who are God's inheritance or special possession (v. 14). That view stresses the value God places on us as believers, as demonstrated in Christ's death, the forgiveness of our sins, and the abundant grace that He lavishes on us (vv. 7-8).


Others see it as referring to the believer's inheritance, which Paul calls "His inheritance" because God is its source. Just as "His calling" (v. 18) issued from Him and was received by believers, so His inheritance issues from Him.


Both views are theologically sound but the second seems more consistent with Paul's emphasis in verses 11 and 14. In either case Paul's point is clear: redemption and its accompanying blessings are so profound that we must have supernatural help to understand them. That's why he prayed for our enlightenment (v. 18).

Such enlightenment is crucial because how you perceive your spiritual resources dictates how you live. If, for example, you realize you have every resource for godly living (Eph. 1:3), you are less likely to succumb to temptation. Knowing God has given you His very best in Christ (Rom. 8:31) assures you that He won't withhold lesser things, so you'll not tend to worry about earthly needs. 


Understanding that you have already received "grace upon grace" (John 1:16), abundant life (John 10:10), and "everything pertaining to life and godliness" (2 Pet. 1:3) gives you confidence that God's future grace and resources will be more than sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).


Let that motivate you to praise your rich and glorious God for His rich and glorious inheritance!


Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the privilege of being His child.
  • Memorize Ephesians 1:3 and 2 Peter 1:3 and recite them often as anthems of praise for the Lord's abundant grace.


For Further Study

Read 2 Corinthians 11-12.

  • What kinds of trials did Paul face?
  • How did God respond to Paul's prayer to remove his "thorn in the flesh"?
  • How might Paul's response influence you when you face difficulties?


PART III


Christ Our Example in Overcoming Temptation


“But He answered and said, ‘It is written . . . it is written . . . it is written . . .’” (Matthew 4:4710).


The Lord Jesus Christ is indeed our supreme example for how to resist temptation. Hebrews 4:15 reminds us, “We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (cf. 2:18). Our responsibility is to consider the many ways He was tempted, look to Him, and follow His example in turning away from sin.


Jesus met the worst temptations Satan could hurl at Him, and He emerged victorious. Now He is ready to share the joy of victory with all His saints: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).


The key to our triumph over temptation is to resist it the way Jesus did, by completely obeying God and His Word. Just as in every aspect of the Christian life, we will have success in resisting temptation by “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:2). Like the hurdler who learns to keep his eyes on the finish line as he runs, thereby not tripping over any individual hurdle, so we must keep our eyes on the ultimate goal—being with our glorious Lord and Savior forever in heaven.


Ask Yourself

God’s Word is such that the more time we spend in it, the more it sinks into us—into our hearts, into our thoughts, into our impulses, reactions, and conversations. Are you mining daily from this treasure? Make sure Satan has to climb over a lot of Scripture to get to you.


PART IV


Reading for Today:


Notes:

Exodus 1:7 The growth of the nation (see 12:37) was phenomenal! It grew from 70 men to 603,000 males, 20 years of age and older, thus allowing for a total population of about 2 million (Num. 1:46) departing from Egypt. The seed of Abraham was no longer an extended family, but a nation. 


The promise that his descendants would be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 35:1112) had indeed been fulfilled in Egypt.


Exodus 2:10 became her son. The position of “son” undoubtedly granted Moses special privileges belonging to nobility, but none of these persuaded Moses to relinquish his native origin. Rather, as the New Testament advises, his spiritual maturity was such that when he came of age, he “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter” (Heb. 11:24). The formal education in the court of that time meant that Moses would have learned reading, writing, arithmetic, and perhaps one or more of the languages of Canaan. He would also have participated in various outdoor sports, e.g., archery and horseback riding, two favorites of the Eighteenth Dynasty court.


Psalm 15:5 usury. Interest rates ran as high as 50 percent, but God’s law put strict regulations on borrowing and lending. He…shall never be moved. This is an important promise in the light of its usage in Psalms and Proverbs (see Pss. 10:613:416:846:562:2,6Prov. 10:30).


Matthew 17:3 Moses and Elijah. Representing the Law and the Prophets respectively, both of which had foretold Christ’s death, and that is what Luke says the 3 of them were discussing (Luke 9:31).


DAY 26: How is genuine faith different from positive-thinking psychology?

Jesus’ disappointment with His disciples’ inability to cast the demon out of the epileptic boy is readily felt in the words, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?” (Matt. 17:17).

Later, in privacy the disciples asked Jesus, “Why could we not cast it out?” (v. 19). When Christ sent the disciples out (Matt. 10:6–8), He explicitly commissioned them to do these kinds of miracles. Less than a year later, they failed where they had once succeeded. Christ’s explanation for their failure was that their faith was deficient (v. 20). The deficiency did not consist in a lack of confidence; they were surprised that they could not cast out this demon. The problem probably lay in a failure to make God—rather than their own gifts—the object of their confidence.


True faith, even “faith as a mustard seed” (v. 20), by Christ’s definition, always involves surrender to the will of God. What He was teaching here is nothing like positive-thinking psychology. He was saying that both the source and the object of all genuine faith—even the weak, mustard seed variety—is God. And “with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37). Here, Christ assumes the qualifying thought that is explicitly added by 1 John 5:14: what we ask for must be “according to His will.”


LORD BLESS HIS ELECT

My Royal Family


LOVINGLY IN THE LOVE OF OUR LORD JESUS

E+1DAY


MAXIMILIANO



01/26/20


Servanthood: Humility in Action


“‘Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave’” (Matthew 20:26-27).


In God’s sight, greatness is marked by a humble, servant’s heart.


Bible commentator R.C.H. Lenski once wrote that God’s “great men are not sitting on top of lesser men, but bearing lesser men on their backs.” Jesus would have agreed with Lenski’s observation, but He did not see it as wrong to desire greater usefulness to God. Those standards of usefulness, however, are much more demanding than any worldly ideals for self-serving, domineering leadership. For example, Paul lists for us the high standards God has for church overseers (1 Tim. 3:1-7). God considers men great who are among those willing to be servants.


In Matthew 20:26-27, Jesus was speaking of genuine servanthood, not the “public servant” who merely uses his position to gain power and personal prestige. The original Greek word for “servant” referred to a person who did menial labor and was the lowest level of hired help. Jesus could have used a more noble word to denote obedient discipleship, but He picked this one (from which we get deacon) because it best described the selfless humility of one who served.


But in verse 27, Jesus intensifies His description of God’s way to greatness. He tells us if we want to be great in His kingdom, we must be willing to be slaves. Whereas servants had some personal freedom, slaves were owned by their masters and could go only where their masters allowed and do only what their masters wanted. The application for us as believers is that “whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14:8).


If you desire real spiritual greatness, you will be willing to work in the hard place, the lonely place, the place where you’re not appreciated. You’ll be willing to strive for excellence without becoming proud, and to endure suffering without getting into self-pity. It is to these godly attitudes and more that Christ will say, “Well done, good and faithful slave . . . enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21).


Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to help you cultivate a servant’s heart.


For Further Study

* Read 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and make a list of the qualifications for an overseer (elder).

* Meditate on the implications of each trait, and write down ways in which humility relates to these leadership qualities.

PART II


Seeking God's Protection


"Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matt. 6:13).


Have a healthy sense of self-distrust.


At the moment of your salvation, judicial forgiveness covered all of your sins—past, present, and future. Parental forgiveness restores the joy and sweet fellowship broken by any subsequent sins. But concurrent with the joy of being forgiven is the desire to be protected from any future sins. That's the desire expressed in Matthew 6:13: "Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil."


That petition seems simple enough at first glance, but it raises some important questions. According to James 1:13, God doesn't tempt anyone to commit sin, so why ask Him to protect us from something He apparently wouldn't lead us into in the first place?


Some say the word "temptation" in Matthew 6:13 means "trials." But trials strengthen us and prove the genuineness of our faith. We are to rejoice in them, not avoid them (James 1:2-4).


The solution to this paradox has to do with the nature of the petition. It is not so much a technical theological statement as it is an emotional plea from one who hates sin and wants to be protected from it. Chrysostom, the early church father, said it is a natural appeal of human weakness as it faces danger (Homily 19.10).


I don't know about you, but I have a healthy sense of self-distrust. That's why I carefully guard what I think, say, watch, read, and listen to. If I sense spiritual danger I run into the presence of God and say, "Lord, I will be overwhelmed by this situation unless You come to my aid." That's the spirit of Matthew 6:13.


We live in a fallen world that throws temptation after temptation our way. Therefore it's only natural and proper for us as Christians to continually confess our sins, receive the Father's forgiveness, and plead with Him to deliver us from the possibility of sinning against Him in the future.


Suggestions for Prayer

* Thank the Lord that He loves you and ministers through you despite your human weaknesses.

* Ask Him to protect you today from any situation that might cause you to sin.


For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 10:13 and James 1:13-16.

* To what degree will God allow you to be tempted?

* What is a common source of temptation?


PART III


How Jesus Understood the Law and the Prophets


“‘Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill’” (Matthew 5:17).


Is there an absolute basis for truth, for law, for morals, for real right and wrong? The absolute, Jesus says, is the law of the eternally sovereign God. God laid down His absolute, eternal, abiding law and made it known to humanity. And as God’s own Son, Jesus declared unequivocally that He did not come to teach or practice anything contrary to that law even in the slightest way, but to uphold it entirely.


Jesus obviously had a high regard for the law, but at the same time He taught things completely contrary to the traditions. His teachings did not lower scriptural standards but upheld them in every way. He not only elevated God’s standard to the height it belonged, but also lived at that humanly impossible level.


The law and the prophets represent what we call the Old Testament, the only written Scripture at the time Jesus preached. Because Matthew does not qualify his use of law, we are safe to say that it was God’s whole law—the commandments, statutes, and judgments; the moral, judicial, and ceremonial—that Jesus came not to abolish but fulfill. It was also the other Old Testament teachings based on the law, and all their types, patterns, symbols, and pictures that He came to fulfill. Jesus Christ came to accomplish every aspect and every dimension of the divinely authored Word.


Ask Yourself

Knowing how hard it is for us to maintain holy attitudes and behaviors for more than a few hours at a time, marvel again at the extreme power of Jesus Christ, who endured every temptation to maintain His perfect purity on earth. And marvel anew that such supernatural righteousness has been imputed to us!


NEVER DOUBT YOUR SALVATION. GOD BLESS YOU RICHLY. 


MAXIMILIANO



01/25/20

Seeking God's Protection


"Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matt. 6:13).


Have a healthy sense of self-distrust.


At the moment of your salvation, judicial forgiveness covered all of your sins—past, present, and future. Parental forgiveness restores the joy and sweet fellowship broken by any subsequent sins. But concurrent with the joy of being forgiven is the desire to be protected from any future sins. That's the desire expressed in Matthew 6:13: "Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil."


That petition seems simple enough at first glance, but it raises some important questions. According to James 1:13, God doesn't tempt anyone to commit sin, so why ask Him to protect us from something He apparently wouldn't lead us into in the first place?


Some say the word "temptation" in Matthew 6:13 means "trials." But trials strengthen us and prove the genuineness of our faith. We are to rejoice in them, not avoid them (James 1:2-4).


The solution to this paradox has to do with the nature of the petition. It is not so much a technical theological statement as it is an emotional plea from one who hates sin and wants to be protected from it. Chrysostom, the early church father, said it is a natural appeal of human weakness as it faces danger (Homily 19.10).


I don't know about you, but I have a healthy sense of self-distrust. That's why I carefully guard what I think, say, watch, read, and listen to. If I sense spiritual danger I run into the presence of God and say, "Lord, I will be overwhelmed by this situation unless You come to my aid." That's the spirit of Matthew 6:13.


We live in a fallen world that throws temptation after temptation our way. Therefore it's only natural and proper for us as Christians to continually confess our sins, receive the Father's forgiveness, and plead with Him to deliver us from the possibility of sinning against Him in the future.


Suggestions for Prayer

* Thank the Lord that He loves you and ministers through you despite your human weaknesses.

* Ask Him to protect you today from any situation that might cause you to sin.


For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 10:13 and James 1:13-16.

* To what degree will God allow you to be tempted?

* What is a common source of temptation?


NEVER DOUBT YOUR SALVATION. GOD BLESS YOU RICHLY. 


MAXIMILIANO




01/24/20


The Effect of Patience


“Walk . . . with patience” (Ephesians 4:1-2).


Patience is crucial to our testimony.

The virtues of Ephesians 4:2-3 enable the church of Jesus Christ to have a powerful witness. Many think the key to evangelism is following a specific course or method, but according to Jesus, the greatest way to get people to believe the gospel is through our love and unity (John 17:21). 


Though evangelistic methods are important, often they aren’t as effective as they could be because of the church’s poor reputation among unbelievers. If the church were full of people who had genuine humility, gentleness, and patience, others would be more inclined to listen to what we say.


Sir Henry Stanley traveled to Africa in 1872 to find Dr. David Livingstone, the famous missionary and explorer, who had lost contact with the European community. After finding him, Stanley spent several months with Livingstone, who by that time was an old man. Apparently Livingstone didn’t say much to Stanley about spiritual things—he just continued about his business with the Africans. Stanley observed that throughout the months he watched him, Livingstone’s habits, especially his patience, were beyond his comprehension. Stanley could not understand Livingstone’s sympathy for the pagan Africans, who had wronged Livingstone many times. For the sake of Christ and His gospel David Livingstone was patient, untiring, and eager. He spent himself for his Master.


In his account How I Found Livingstone, Stanley wrote, “His religion is not of the theoretical kind, but is a constant, earnest, sincere practice. It is neitherdemonstrative nor loud, but manifests itself in a quiet practical way, and is always at work. . . . In him religion exhibits its loveliest features; it governs his conduct not only towards his servants but towards the natives . . . and all who come in contact with him.”


I’m not suggesting that you never talk about the gospel. But realize that what you say will have far greater effect when you live in harmony with what the gospel teaches. If the world could see a clear picture of Jesus Christ through the unity of the church and its humble, gentle, and patient people, our evangelism would be sped along on wings!


Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that you would live in a way that glorifies God and attracts others to the Savior.


For Further Study

Read Matthew 5:13-16.

  • What did Christ mean by being salt and light in the world?
  • Think of specific ways you can obey the command in verse 16.



Comprehending What You Have


"[I pray] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him" (Eph. 1:17).


Your inheritance in Christ is so vast and profound that you cannot comprehend it apart from God’s enabling.


The late newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst invested a fortune in collecting great works of art. One day he read of an extremely valuable work that he determined to add to his collection. His agent searched the galleries of the world but to no avail. Finally, after many months of effort and at great expense, the agent found the prized art work: it had been stored in one of Hearst's own warehouses all along!


That story parallels Christians who are constantly searching for something more because they don't understand what they already have in Christ. Since Paul knew that was a potential problem, he prayed for God to enable us to comprehend our spiritual riches.

"Spirit" in verse 17 refers to a disposition or attitude of humility, such as, "Blessed are the poor in spirit" (Matt. 5:3). "Revelation" is knowledge that God imparts through His Word. "Wisdom" is the application of that knowledge to daily living. The combined effect is a humble attitude toward God's Word that compels you to learn it and integrate it into every aspect of your life.


On the human level the fullness of your inheritance in Christ is incomprehensible. God's Word reveals many of its benefits and the Holy Spirit empowers you as you learn to live according to its principles, but much of it will remain a mystery in this life (1 John 3:2). Paul's prayer is that you will understand as much as possible so that godly wisdom and revelation will govern all your attitudes and actions. Let that be your goal today.


Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the incomprehensible riches that are yours in Christ.
  • Pray that you might always approach His Word with a submissive and teachable heart.


For Further Study


  • Study your life. Does it demonstrate confidence in God's promises?



Christ Sovereignly Masters Satan


“Jesus said to him, ‘Go, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only”’” (Matthew 4:10).


The devil’s final proposal was so outlandish and beyond the boundaries of God’s will that Jesus dismissed him with the terse, firm command, “Go, Satan!” Satan can wield his present power only by God’s permission; therefore he had no choice but to leave Christ’s presence. This last interaction is a prime example of our Lord’s sovereign mastery over the enemy.


If the Savior would not compromise on a mundane matter such as turning stones to bread, He certainly would not compromise on the major issue of worshiping and serving anyone besides the Father and the Father alone.


Christ will finally inherit God’s kingdom in God’s perfect time, and we will inherit it with Him (Matt. 5:525:34Rom. 8:17). This glorious truth doesn’t mean God will not give us many good things in this life, because no one desires our happiness more than our heavenly Father. Jesus Himself later taught, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matt. 7:11). 


Knowing this, why should any of us want to settle for any of the cheap, fleeting substitutes of instant gratification that Satan offers?


Ask Yourself

What inspires you the most about Jesus’ reactions to Satan’s three temptations? What are the most convicting or compelling aspects of His testimony that would look good on you as well? Thank Him for His sturdy, steady faithfulness—and ask Him to grow the same in you.



Reading for Today:


Notes:

Genesis 45:1–8 Stunned by the revelation of who it really was with whom they dealt, the brothers then heard expressed a masterpiece of recognition of and submission to the sovereignty of God, i.e., His providential rule over the affairs of life, both good and bad.


Genesis 46:31–34 Joseph’s instructions about his preparatory interview with Pharaoh were designed to secure his relatives a place somewhat separate from the mainstream of Egyptian society. The social stigma regarding the Hebrews (43:32), who were shepherds, also (v. 34), played a crucial role in protecting Israel from intermingling and losing their identity in Egypt.


What were the “traditions of the elders”?

The “tradition of the elders” (Matt. 15:2) was a body of extra-biblical law that had existed only in oral form and only since the time of the Babylonian captivity. Later it was committed to writing in the Mishna near the end of the second century. The Law of Moses contained no commandment about washing one’s hands before eating—except for priests who were required to wash before eating holy offerings (Lev. 22:67).

Jesus’ problem with the Pharisees is that they used these traditions to dishonor their parents in a cleverly devised way (vv. 4–6). 


The commandments of God were clear (Ex. 20:1221:17Deut. 5:16); but to circumvent them, some people claimed they could not financially assist their parents because they had dedicated a certain sum of money to God, who was greater than their parents. The rabbis had approved this exception to the commandments of Moses and thus in effect nullified God’s law (v. 6).


Hypocritically, they made the commandment of God of no effect by their traditions (v. 6). “Making…of no effect” means, “to deprive of authority” or “to cancel.” Jesus condemned this practice by showing that the Pharisees and scribes were guilty of canceling out God’s Word through their tradition.


So, the Holy Spirit does this securing work, keeping us in a no-condemnation status. 


GOD BLESS YOU


MAXIMILIANO 




01/23/20


Our Response to God's Power


"Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength. . . . They will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40:31).


Relying on God’s power gives us confidence to live as Christians.


What should be our response to God’s power? First, we should worship Him. Our response should follow what God told Israel: “The Lord, who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm, Him you shall fear, and to Him you shall bow yourselves down, and to Him you shall sacrifice” (2 Kings 17:36).

Understanding God’s power should also give us confidence: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). Because of His strength, we can live the Christian life each day with confidence. God “is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Eph. 3:20).


Our eternal hope rests on the power of God. His power saved us and will “raise [us] up on the last day” (John 6:40). That day should be the great hope of the Christian, because whatever troubles we have on earth, our heavenly destiny is still secure.

When I’m tempted to worry, I’m comforted to remember that God’s power is greater than any problem I have. The psalmist says, “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from whence shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:1-2). The God who made everything can certainly handle our troubles!


God’s power also gives us spiritual victory. Paul instructs us to “be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10). When the adversary comes and you’re on guard, you don’t fight him; you go tell the commander, and he leads the battle. God will bring about the victory because “greater is He who is in [us] than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Satan may be powerful, but he’s no match for God.

Finally, understanding God’s power gives us humility. Peter exhorts us, “Humble yourselves . . . under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Peter 5:6). Apart from God’s gracious power we are nothing and can do nothing (John 15:5).


Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for each of these ways He uses His power for our benefit.

For Further Study

Read Psalm 121. In what ways does God demonstrate His power to us?


PART II


The Joy of Glorification


God will perfect His work in you "until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6).


Someday God will glorify and reward every believer.


For Christians there's an element of truth to the bumper sticker that reads, "Please be patient, God isn't finished with me yet." We aren't what we used to be, but there's much to be done to make us all He wants us to be. Yet God's work within us is so sure and so powerful, Scripture guarantees its completion.


Pondering that guarantee led Bible expositor F.B. Meyer to write, "We go into the artist's studio and find there unfinished pictures covering large canvas, and suggesting great designs, but which have been left, either because the genius was not competent to complete the work, or because paralysis laid the hand low in death; but as we go into God's great workshop we find nothing that bears the mark of haste or insufficiency of power to finish, and we are sure that the work which His grace has begun, the arm of His strength will complete" (The Epistle to the Philippians [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1952], p. 28).


The completion of God's work in you will come at a future point in time that Paul calls "the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6). Scripture also speaks of "the day of the Lord," which is the time of God's judgment on unbelievers, but "the day of Christ Jesus" refers to when believers will be fully glorified then rewarded for their faithful service (cf. 1 Cor. 3:10-15). All your earthly cares will be gone and God's promise to keep you from stumbling and make you stand in His presence blameless with great joy will be fully realized (Jude 24).


Concentrating on what is wrong in your life might depress you, but focusing on the glorious day of Christ should excite you. Don't be unduly concerned about what you are right now. Look ahead to what you will become by God's grace.


Suggestions for Prayer

* Reflect on the joy that is yours because you belong to an all-powerful God who is working mightily in you. Express your joy and praise to Him.

* Read 1 Chronicles 29:11-13 as a prayer of praise to God.

For Further Study

Read Revelation 7:9-17 and 22:1-5. What glimpses do those passages give you of the activities of glorified believers in heaven?


PART III


Recognizing Our Humility, Part 1


“‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 5:3).


The Puritan Thomas Watson, in his book The Beatitudes, discusses many principles to help the believer recognize his or her humility—those spiritual fruits that enable us to determine whether or not humility is actually growing within us. Here are three.

First, if we are truly humble, we will be weaned from ourselves and have no more constant self-preoccupation. Paul expresses it beautifully this way: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).


Second, if we are really humble we will be lost in the wonder of Jesus Christ. We will contemplate “as in a mirror the glory of the Lord … being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18). We’ll look forward to the day when we’ll be just like our Lord.


And third, no matter how bad life’s situations get, we will not complain. We’ll understand that we deserve far worse than anything we experience in this life. When tragedy comes, our first response won’t be, “Why me, Lord?” Instead, we’ll fully appreciate that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18).


Ask Yourself

Could you honestly say you’re detecting growth in these three areas? It’s not “proud” to recognize it, to give God glory for what He’s producing in you by His Spirit. If you’re not seeing this kind of spiritual development, ask yourself what needs to change.


HAVE A BLESSED DAY 

NEVER DOUBT YOUR SALVATION


GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY DEARLY AND RICHLY.  

MAXIMILIANO



01/22/20


Christ's Patient Example

“Walk . . . with patience” (Ephesians 4:1-2).

Jesus is our greatest example of patience in all that He endured to purchase our redemption.

Paul tells us here that the worthy walk is one of patience, and once again we see that Jesus modeled it for us. Throughout the Gospels, He repeatedly demonstrated the three aspects of patience we explored in the last lesson.

First, He endured negative circumstances. Before He came into the world, He was with the Father in the glory of Heaven, where the angels praised and worshiped Him continually. He left a place of total perfection and love and went to a place where He was mocked, hated, rejected, blasphemed, and crucified. He “endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2) even though He had the power to escape it.

Jesus also coped with difficult people. The night before His crucifixion, after three years of teaching about love and servanthood, His disciples were arguing about which of them was the greatest (Luke 22:24). Jesus didn’t give up on them, however. More than that, He prayed for those who spit on Him and mocked Him at the cross: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (23:34). He wanted His murderers to be forgiven so they could be with Him in Heaven forever.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, just hours before He was nailed to the cross, Jesus showed His willingness to accept the Father’s plan. He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). He was able to endure unimaginable suffering because He knew it was God’s will.

We should be very thankful for Christ’s “perfect patience” (1 Tim. 1:16), because our sin has offended Him time and time again. He could have sent us to Hell the first moment we sinned, but His Spirit patiently drew us to repentance. Because of His patience, we must commit ourselves to follow His perfect example.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that God would daily give you strength to be patient in all things, just as Christ was.

For Further Study

Hebrews 12:3 tells us to “consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.” Christ’s example of patience encourages us to endure when we suffer. Find other demonstrations of His patience in the Gospels, and consider how His example can affect your attitude during trials.


PART II

Praying for Believers

"For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you, and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers" (Eph. 1:15-16).

Your love for other Christians is as much a mark of true faith as your love for God.

The Ephesian Christians demonstrated two important characteristics of genuine Christian faith: faith in the Lord Jesus and love for fellow believers.

"Faith in the Lord Jesus" implies both an affirmation of Christ's deity and submission to His sovereignty. Because He is God, He is the Sovereign Lord, so we must obey what He commands (John 14:151 John 2:3-6).

Your "love for all the saints" is as much a mark of true faith as your love for God. John said, "The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now" (1 John 2:9). In that passage "light" is a metaphor for righteousness and truth, and "darkness" is a metaphor for sin and error. It is sinful and erroneous to claim you love God if you have no love for other believers. Those who love God will love fellow believers as well.

If you love others, you will pray for them and praise God for their spiritual progress—as Paul did for the Ephesians—and they will do the same for you. That's a wonderful dynamic within the Body of Christ, and one that you must diligently pursue.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • If you haven't done so already, start a prayer list of individuals for whom you will pray each day. List their names and some specific requests. Record answers to your prayers as you see God moving in their lives.
  • Remember to thank God for their spiritual progress as well as praying for their needs. Let them know you are praying for them. That could be a source of great encouragement for them.
  • If you are at odds with another believer, seek to reconcile immediately (Matt. 5:23-24) so your witness will be strong and the Lord's name won't suffer reproach.

For Further Study

Read Philippians 1:9-11 and Colossians 1:9-14.

  • What requests and concerns did Paul express in his prayers?
  • Do your prayers reflect Paul's priorities? If not, what adjustments must you make to have a more biblical pattern of prayer?


PART III

Satan Revealed as a Liar

“[The devil] said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me’” (Matthew 4:9).

Satan’s promises for better things, obtained more quickly and in a “preferred” manner to God’s plan, are actually counterfeit offers. He always wraps them in claims that seem easier, less expensive, and far less burdensome. After all, that’s the savvy way to success, he reasons. Our adversary’s argument is essentially just a form of the old “end justifies the means” concept.

But Satan has been a liar from the beginning of redemptive history. With his third temptation of Jesus he was actually just seeking to buy Christ’s soul and His permanent allegiance. The cost for the Lord, had He accepted the offer of the world’s kingdoms, would have been devastating beyond measure.

Similarly for us, Satan’s price is always far more than we are led to believe—and the goods always unfathomably fall short of what we had expected. Thankfully, Jesus in His omniscience and infinite wisdom recognized these truths and did not succumb to the final temptation in the wilderness. Had He accepted Satan’s sinister offer, Christ would have disqualified Himself as both Savior and King. Instead of redeeming the world, He would have joined it; instead of inheriting it, He would have lost both it and us.

Ask Yourself

If coming in the front door doesn’t work, our enemy has no qualms about executing the sneak attack, catching us off guard and by surprise. How seriously are you taking the call to be on the alert at all times, resisting Satan’s temptations and boldly obeying God’s will? Trust Christ for both radar and resistance.


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Genesis 43:33 the firstborn…the youngest. To be seated at the table in birth order in the house of an Egyptian official was startling—how did he know this of Jacob’s sons? Enough clues had been given in Joseph’s previous questions about the family and his use of God’s name for them to wonder about him and his personal knowledge of them. Obviously, they simply did not believe Joseph was alive (44:20) and certainly not as a personage of such immense influence and authority. They had probably laughed through the years at the memory of Joseph’s dreams of superiority.

Genesis 44:13 tore their clothes. A well-known ancient Near Eastern custom of visibly portraying the pain of heart being experienced. Benjamin’s brothers were very upset that he might become a slave in Egypt (v. 10). Benjamin appears to have been speechless. They had passed a second test of devotion to Benjamin (the first in v. 34).

Genesis 44:18–34 An eloquent and contrite plea for mercy, replete with reference to the aged father’s delight in and doting upon the youngest son (vv. 20, 30) and the fatal shock should he be lost (vv. 22, 29, 31, 34). Judah’s evident compassion for Jacob and readiness to substitute himself for Benjamin in slavery finally overwhelmed Joseph—these were not the same brothers of yesteryear (45:1).


DAY 22: When the world seems to be falling apart, who can I trust?

In Psalm 11, the panic that launched its writing was not David’s but that of his apparently well-meaning counselors. Their mood in the face of wicked persecution is panic, the desire to flee, but David’s is peace. Their words are the expressions of committed but confused saints. Their philosophical problem is, “In view of the crumbling of the theocratic society, what can one righteous person, out of a shrinking remnant, do?”

David’s immediate response to panic is to say, “In the LORD I put my trust.” Literally, he said, “I take refuge in the LORD.” God is the exclusive refuge for His persecuted children (see Pss. 16:136:7). After all, David adds, the Lord is “in His holy temple…in heaven.” This emphasizes the transcendent throne room of God, yet God has sovereign sway over all the affairs of earth (see Hab. 2:20). “His eyes behold...His eyelids test”—His transcendence previously depicted does not negate His eminence here presented from the perspective of the divine scrutiny of all men, including the righteous (see Jer. 6:27–3017:10).

David had made up his mind to trust only in the Lord, and for good reason. In view of David’s attitude, this psalm can be listed with the psalms of confidence (Pss. 416232762125131).


GOD BLESSES YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 



01/21/20

The Lord shall soon, and very soon indeed come again in the clouds for His own blood bought peoples... 


Only be sure to know... that just as in Noah's day there was a time appointed... 


And that "Great Door" upon the Ark should be closed and the time was fleeting even then... 


So today the time draws near and ever closer, and in these lasts days very close indeed... 


And just as then..there must soon needs be that this time, this age of grace, this epoch/age/this dispensation of time shall pass... 


And just as in Noah's day they were placed with in the Ark of their salvation and lifted high above the wrath of God that would fall upon the scoffers... 


So shall those that are found to be saved in Christ Jesus be taken for a season high above the wrath of God that shall fall upon this dark and evil world "the great tribulation period/ also called the time of Jacobs trouble". 


For the Lord just before that day of judgement falls shall come and gather up His saved, born again peoples, and very shortly now it would appear... for the time is fleeting now even as it was then... even so come Lord Jesus...



“Can the return of Christ truly be said to be imminent?"


Answer:The word imminentmeans “likely to happen at any moment; impending.” When we speak of the imminence of Christ’s return, we mean that He could come back at any moment. There is nothing more in biblical prophecy that needs to happen before Jesus comes again. The imminence of Christ’s return is generally taught among evangelicals, with some disagreement according to one’s view of dispensationalism and whether one holds a pre-, mid-, or post-tribulational view of the rapture.


Jesus spoke of His return repeatedly during His ministry, which naturally prompted questions from His disciples. One of their questions was, “When will these things happen?” (Mark 13:4). Jesus responded, “Of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come” (verses 32-33). It is important to remember in any discussion of eschatology that God does not intend for us to fully understand the timing of His plans.


However, the Bible says that Jesus’ return is near, and we are to wait eagerly for it (Romans 8:19-25; 1 Corinthians 1:7; Philippians 4:5; Jude 21). James encourages us to “be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near” (James 5:8). Revelation 1:3 and 22:10 also say that “the time is near.”


Jesus taught His disciples to watch for His return. “You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Luke 12:40). The command to “be ready” implies imminence. Throughout the New Testament, the church is told to be ready (Philippians 3:20; Titus 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:6). If the disciples and the early church were to expect the coming of the Lord at any time, how much more should we be waiting in keen expectation?


At this point, it is good to distinguish between the second coming of Christ, proper, and the rapture of the church. The second coming of Christ, when He defeats His enemies and sets up His kingdom, will not occur until after certain other end-times events take place, including the tribulation (Matthew 24:15-30; Revelation chapters 6–18). Therefore, the second coming is not imminent. However, according to the pre-tribulational view, the rapture will take place before the tribulation. The rapture could occur at any moment (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54) and can rightly be called “imminent.”


Our salvation is “ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). Jesus could return for His own at any moment, and that event will set in motion the series of events detailed in Revelation 6-18. Like the five wise virgins in Jesus’ parable (Matthew 25:1-13), we must be ready. “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13).




“What is the rapture of the church?"


The word rapturedoes not occur in the Bible. The term comes from a Latin word meaning “a carrying off, a transport, or a snatching away.” The concept of the “carrying off” or the rapture of the church is clearly taught in Scripture.


The rapture of the church is the event in which God “snatches away” all believers from the earth in order to make way for His righteous judgment to be poured out on the earth during the tribulation period. The rapture is described primarily in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50–54. God will resurrect all believers who have died, give them glorified bodies, and take them from the earth, along with all living believers, who will also be given glorified bodies at that time. “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17).


The rapture will involve an instantaneous transformation of our bodies to fit us for eternity. “We know that when he [Christ] appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). The rapture is to be distinguished from the second coming. At the rapture, the Lord comes “in the clouds” to meet us “in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). At the second coming, the Lord descends all the way to the earth to stand on the Mount of Olives, resulting in a great earthquake followed by a defeat of God’s enemies (Zechariah 14:3–4).


The doctrine of the rapture was not taught in the Old Testament, which is why Paul calls it a “mystery” now revealed: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52).


The rapture of the church is a glorious event we should all be longing for. We will finally be free from sin. We will be in God’s presence forever. There is far too much debate over the meaning and scope of the rapture. This is not God’s intent. Rather, the rapture should be a comforting doctrine full of hope; God wants us to “encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).




Question: "How can I be ready to be caught up in the rapture?"


(Note: The Tribulation is a time of judgment on earth, our Lord Jesus will Rapture the saved, we will study the events that will happen)


Answer:The rapture is coming, and we should all make sure we are ready for it. Being ready for the rapture is much simpler than you may think. In short, you must receive Jesus Christ as your Savior. The rapture is for believers.


Here is a clear prophecy of the rapture of the church: “According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 


For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 


After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:15–18). 


Note that Paul is writing to believers concerning those who are “in Christ” and thus have the promise of resurrection. Those who are saved are ready for the rapture.


The unsaved are not ready for the rapture. In fact, that day of the Lord (which begins with the rapture) will come upon the unsaved “like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). Those who are left behind in the rapture will be those who do not have the Spirit of Christ dwelling within them. 


Believers are ready: “You, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief” (1 Thessalonians 5:4).


The children of God are ready for the rapture because of their faith. They are the five wise virgins in Jesus’ parable who have their lamps trimmed and burning and full of oil—a picture of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 25:1–13). 


Unfortunately, faith will be lacking in most of the people on earth; the time before Jesus’ coming will be characterized by spiritual coldness and unbelief. Jesus spoke of His return and asked, rhetorically, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).


Are you ready for the rapture? Jesus knows His own, and He will come for them (John 10:14; 14:1–3). The only way you will be left behind in the rapture is if you have not received Christ as your Savior. 


If you are not saved, then today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Do not delay another moment. Trust Christ now.




Question: "When is the Rapture going to occur in relation to the Tribulation?"


Answer:The timing of the rapture in relation to the tribulation is one of the most controversial issues in the church today. The three primary views are pre-tribulational (the rapture occurs before the tribulation), mid-tribulational (the rapture occurs at or near the mid-point of the tribulation), and post-tribulational (the rapture occurs at the end of the tribulation). A fourth view, commonly known as pre-wrath, is a slight modification of the mid-tribulational position.


First, it is important to recognize the purpose of the tribulation. According to Daniel 9:27, there is a seventieth "seven" (seven years) that is still yet to come. Daniel's entire prophecy of the seventy sevens (Daniel 9:20-27) is speaking of the nation of Israel. It is a time period in which God focuses His attention especially on Israel. The seventieth seven, the tribulation, must also be a time when God deals specifically with Israel. While this does not necessarily indicate that the church could not also be present, it does bring into question why the church would need to be on the earth during that time.


The primary Scripture passage on the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. It states that all living believers, along with all believers who have died, will meet the Lord Jesus in the air and will be with Him forever. The rapture is God's removing of His people from the earth. A few verses later, in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, Paul says, "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." The book of Revelation, which deals primarily with the time period of the tribulation, is a prophetic message of how God will pour out His wrath upon the earth during the tribulation. It seems inconsistent for God to promise believers that they will not suffer wrath and then leave them on the earth to suffer through the wrath of the tribulation. The fact that God promises to deliver Christians from wrath shortly after promising to remove His people from the earth seems to link those two events together.


Another crucial passage on the timing of the rapture is Revelation 3:10, in which Christ promises to deliver believers from the "hour of trial" that is going to come upon the earth. This could mean two things. Either Christ will protect believers in the midst of the trials, or He will deliver believers out of the trials. Both are valid meanings of the Greek word translated "from." However, it is important to recognize what believers are promised to be kept from. It is not just the trial, but the "hour" of trial. Christ is promising to keep believers from the very time period that contains the trials, namely the tribulation. The purpose of the tribulation, the purpose of the rapture, the meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:9, and the interpretation of Revelation 3:10 all give clear support to the pre-tribulational position. If the Bible is interpreted literally and consistently, the pre-tribulational position is the most biblically-based interpretation.




Question: "How can I be sure I won't be left behind in the rapture?"


Answer:The series of Left Behindnovels and movies has prompted a lot of questions from a lot of people: is the rapture for real? (Answer: yes.) Will the rapture be followed by a time of divine judgment on earth? (Answer: yes.) Will I be left behind in the rapture? (Answer: that depends.)


The rapture is what we call the event in which Jesus comes again to take believers out of this world. The Bible calls it a “catching away” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) and describes it as an instantaneous “change” of the body that bypasses death (1 Corinthians 15:51–52). Those raptured “will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Believers in Jesus Christ are taken in the rapture; unbelievers will be left behind when the rapture occurs.


Those left behind in the rapture will face a quickly changing world—and the change will not be for the better. Second Thessalonians 2:11 says that the “power of lawlessness” is currently being held in check by the Holy Spirit. At the rapture, the true church is removed from the earth, and the Holy Spirit’s restraint will be “taken out of the way.” At that moment, the world will have no born-again believers anywhere. All the Christian workers in hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, rescue missions, relief agencies—gone. Every Christian in law enforcement, social work, and health care—gone. And of course many churches will sit empty. In addition to the great void in the service community will be the commencement of God’s judgment on a rebellious world, detailed in Revelation 6—16.


Don’t be left behind. Make sure you are ready for the rapture. Since the rapture is for believers, it is vital that you place your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior (Acts 16:31). Repent of your sin and fully trust in Jesus alone as the payment for your sin. Believe in Him, and you will not perish (John 3:16). The Lord knows who are His, and He will leave none of them behind (John 10:14).


Those who are saved by faith in Christ will not be left behind in the rapture. The saved are like the five wise virgins in Jesus’ parable who are ready for the coming of the bridegroom; they have their lamps trimmed and burning and full of oil—a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 25:1–13). To make sure that you are not left behind, trust Christ. Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Do not delay another moment. The matter is urgent. Trust Christ now.




Question: "Will there be a second chance for salvation after the rapture?"


Answer:Some Bible interpreters believe that there will be absolutely no chance for salvation after the rapture. However, there is no place in the Bible that says this or even hints to it. There will be many people who come to Christ during the tribulation. The 144,000 Jewish witnesses (Revelation 7:4) are Jewish believers. If no one can come to Christ during the tribulation, then why are people being beheaded for their faith (Revelation 20:4)? No passage of Scripture argues against people having a chance to be saved after the rapture. Many passages indicate the opposite.


Another view is that those who hear the gospel and reject it before the rapture cannot be saved. Those saved during the tribulation, then, are those who had never heard the gospel before the rapture. The “proof text” for this view is 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11, which says the antichrist will work miracles to deceive “those who are perishing” and that God Himself will “send them a powerful delusion” to confirm them in their unbelief. The reason given is that “they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (verse 10). Granted, those who are hard-hearted toward the gospel before the rapture are likely to remain so. And the antichrist will deceive many (Matthew 24:5). But “those who refused to love the truth” does not necessarily refer to people who heard the gospel before the rapture. It could be anyone who wholly rejects God’s salvation, at any time. So, there is no clear scriptural evidence to support this view.


Revelation 6:9-11 speaks of those martyred during the tribulation “because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained.” These martyrs will correctly interpret what they see during the tribulation and will believe the gospel themselves and call on others to repent and believe as well. The antichrist and his followers will not tolerate their evangelism and will kill them. All of these martyrs are people who were alive before the rapture, but who were not believers until afterward. Therefore, there must be opportunity to come to Christ in faith after the rapture.




Will there be a partial rapture?"


There are some believers who hold that only faithful Christians will be taken in the rapture, with unfaithful Christians left on earth to suffer through the tribulation. The problem is that the Bible does not support such a concept. The passages which describe the rapture (1 Corinthians 15:50-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) definitely seem to apply universally to all Christians, mature and immature, faithful and disobedient. Verses like Romans 8:1 and 1 Thessalonians 5:9 tell us that God does not pour out His wrath on Christians. There is no biblical evidence whatsoever for a partial rapture. Every believer will be taken to heaven in the rapture.


Jesus' parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-13 has been for some the "proof" of a partial rapture. However, the five virgins whose lamps did not have any oil are not symbolic of believers being left behind; rather, it is describing unbelievers being left behind. The key is verse 12 where Jesus says to those left behind, "Truly I say to you, I do not know you." Those whom Jesus knows are believers in Him, whether vigilant or not. The essential element in the parable is the oil in the lamps, oil being symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Those who have the Holy Spirit living in their hearts will be taken in the rapture because they are truly Christians. Those who profess faith in Christ, but who do not possess His Spirit, will be left behind.


The lesson for us is to be ready because Christ is coming again for His own, but He will come as a "thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:4)"suddenly, unexpectedly and unannounced. Only those whose lamps (hearts) contain the oil (the Holy Spirit) will be taken. The rest, regardless of their professions, will be left behind. Jesus knows His own, and when He calls us, we will respond. To the rest He will say, "I never knew you." Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2), and if there are any who do not know the Savior, they dare not delay another moment.



“Who will occupy the Millennial Kingdom?"


There will be two distinct groups occupying the Earth during the millennial kingdom"those with glorified bodies, and those with earthly bodies who lived through the tribulation and on into the millennial kingdom. Those with glorified bodies consist of the Church, receiving glorified bodies at the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:21-23, 51-53), and those who are resurrected after Christ returns to Earth (Revelation 20:4-6). Those who have earthly bodies can be subdivided into two groups: believing Gentiles and believing Jews (Israel).


In Revelation 19:11-16, we find the return of Jesus Christ to Earth, known as His second coming. The rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53) is an appearing of Christ in the air, not His second coming. I mention this to make a distinction between the rapture and the second coming of Christ. There is no mention in Revelation 19-20 of any kind of rapture event. The implication is that saints who are on Earth when Christ returns will remain on Earth to enter the millennial kingdom in their natural bodies. If the rapture or any kind of event where a living believer receives a glorified body were included in the second coming of Christ to Earth, one would expect to find reference to such a major event in Revelation 19. But no such reference is to be found. The only event that results in believers receiving glorified bodies is found in Revelation 20:4-6 where those who became believers during the Tribulation and were killed because of their faith are resurrected. It is also believed that at this same time Old Testament saints will be resurrected, also receiving glorified bodies (see Daniel 12:2).


Matthew 25:31-46 is another passage that should be considered. This passage is commonly called the separation or judgment of the sheep and the goats. The sheep and goats refer to righteous and unrighteous Gentiles. Christ will judge the unrighteous Gentiles (goats), and they will be cast into the lake of fire for eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46). Therefore, no unbelieving Gentile will survive to live on into the millennial kingdom. The righteous Gentiles, or sheep, will live on into the millennial kingdom. They will give birth to children and will populate the Earth. However, these are not the only ones who will be producing children during the millennial kingdom.


The impression is given that when Christ returns, all Israel will trust in Him (Zechariah 12:10). They, too, will not receive glorified bodies (as did those who were raptured prior to the tribulation and those resurrected afterward). They also will produce children during the millennial kingdom.


So, believing Gentiles, Israel, and resurrected/raptured believers (all of whom have glorified bodies) will occupy the Earth. It should be noted, however, that believers with glorified bodies will not be reproducing. There is no marriage after this life (Matthew 22:30).


Children born during the millennial kingdom will have the responsibility of faith in Christ as all people of past ages have (faith in Christ since His coming; faith in God before"Genesis 15:2-6; Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 3:20). Unfortunately, not all of the children that are born during the millennial kingdom will come to faith in Christ. Those that do not will be led away by Satan into rebellion against God at the end of the millennial kingdom when Satan is let loose for a short time (Revelation 20:7-10).


For a further look at this subject (who will live into the millennial kingdom), look also at the following passages: Isaiah 2:2-4; Zechariah 14:8-21; Ezekiel 34:17-24; Daniel 7:13-14; Micah 4:1-5




“What is the mark of the beast?"


The main passage in the Bible that mentions the "mark of the beast" is Revelation 13:15-18. Other references can be found in Revelation 14:9, 11, 15:2, 16:2, 19:20, and 20:4. This mark acts as a seal for the followers of Antichrist and the false prophet (the spokesperson for the Antichrist). The false prophet (the second beast) is the one who causes people to take this mark. The mark is literally placed in the hand or forehead and is not simply a card someone carries.


The recent breakthroughs in medical implant chip and RFID technologies have increased interest in the mark of the beast spoken of in Revelation chapter 13. It is possible that the technology we are seeing today represents the beginning stages of what may eventually be used as the mark of the beast. It is important to realize that a medical implant chip is not the mark of the beast. The mark of the beast will be something given only to those who worship the Antichrist. Having a medical or financial microchip inserted into your right hand or forehead is not the mark of the beast. The mark of the beast will be an end-times identification required by the Antichrist in order to buy or sell, and it will be given only to those who worship the Antichrist.


Many good expositors of Revelation differ widely as to the exact nature of the mark of the beast. Besides the implanted chip view, other speculations include an ID card, a microchip, a barcode that is tattooed into the skin, or simply a mark that identifies someone as being faithful to the Antichrist's kingdom. This last view requires the least speculation, since it does not add any more information to what the Bible gives us. In other words, any of these things are possible, but at the same time they are all speculations. We should not spend a lot of time speculating on the precise details.


The meaning of 666 is a mystery as well. Some speculated that there was a connection to June 6, 2006"06/06/06. However, in Revelation chapter 13, the number 666 identifies a person, not a date. Revelation 13:18 tells us, "This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666." Somehow, the number 666 will identify the Antichrist. For centuries Bible interpreters have been trying to identify certain individuals with 666. Nothing is conclusive. That is why Revelation 13:18 says the number requires wisdom. When the Antichrist is revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), it will be clear who he is and how the number 666 identifies him.




“Is it possible for a person to get the mark of the beast today?"


The mark of the beast is some kind of seal that followers of the Antichrist will take in allegiance to him. The prophecy of Revelation 13:16–17 says that the image of the beast “forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.” You


We don’t know what this mark will look like. A while ago, some thought it was a stamp or tattoo of the number 666. More recently, people thought it might be a bar code. 


Now a popular speculation is that the mark of the beast will be an implanted microchip that allows people to access their digital currency. But we honestly have no way of knowing what form the mark of the beast will take.


Some people fear that they have already taken the mark of the beast. They may have blasphemed God at some point or made some impulsive statement of allegiance to the Antichrist. 


They may worry about the chip in their credit card. Others have been told that their act of worshiping the Lord on Sunday instead of the Sabbath constitutes accepting the mark of the beast. There is one significant reason why it is impossible to get the mark of the beast now:


The mark of the beast does not exist yet.


A literal reading of Revelation and other end-times prophecy in the Bible shows that there is a schedule for the end-times events. Daniel prophesied of seventy weeks (seventy sets of seven years) that mark the time of God’s interaction with Israel. 


Sixty-nine of those weeks have passed since Daniel’s writing. The final week will be what we call the tribulation, which is when the Antichrist, or the beast, will rise to power. This ruler will join together ten nations (Daniel 7:24–25; Revelation 17:7) and make a deceptive treaty with Israel (Daniel 9). The mark of the beast cannot exist until the beast himself is in power during the tribulation.


Another reason believers in Jesus Christ should not fear getting the mark of the beast now is the rapture of the church. In the rapture, Jesus will take all believers, living and dead, from the earth (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18; 1 Corinthians 15:50–54). Although people will still come to know Christ after the rapture, all those who trust Jesus before the rapture will be taken to be with the Lord. According to pretribulationism, believers who live in the church age will never have an opportunity to receive the mark of the beast.


So, there is nothing anyone can do today to get, take, or receive the mark of the beast. Implanted chips, bar codes, tattoos, blaspheming, saying out loud, “I follow the Antichrist and accept the mark of the beast”—none of these will give you the mark of the beast. The mark of the beast cannot exist without the “beast,” or the Antichrist demanding it.



New Year’s resolution, should a Christian make? 


Here are some suggestions: 


(1) pray to the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5) regarding what resolutions, if any, He would have you make; 


If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. - James 1:5 (Have faith and believe. God is faithful and keeps all his promises, such is the case that the work He started in you He will take to completion.)  YOU ARE SAVED!!! NEVER DOUBT, IN THIS, HE GETS HONOR AND GLORY. 


(2) pray for wisdom as to how to fulfill the goals God gives you; 


(3) rely on God’s strength to help you; 


(4) find an accountability partner who will help you and encourage you; 


(5) don’t become discouraged with occasional failures; instead, allow them to motivate you further; 


(6) don’t become proud or vain, but give God the glory. Psalm 37:5-6 says, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”


And when you go through trials and tribulations, as of now exercise the following verse and memorize it:


JAMES 1:2-4

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,

3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.


When you count it all joy, you are trusting in the Lord and you’re running to him in prayer who is waiting for you with open arms.


And He will do for you over in abundance than what you ask for. He loves us and we are his children.  


20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. - Ephesians 3:20-21.  


God bless you and your family, with health, joy and an amazing fellowship with him, and others.  And may you prosper in all you do for his honor and glory, and whatever you do, again, do for the honor and glory of God, if it does not honor and glorify God, don’t do it it’s a sin.  


Identifying False Wisdom


“This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic” (James 3:15).


True wisdom is from God; false wisdom is from the Devil.


Wisdom that is bitterly jealous and self-centered is not “from above.” Such traits constitute a wisdom that doesn’t come from God, the source of true wisdom (cf. 1:5, 17). Human wisdom, rather than being from above, is “earthly” (3:15). It is limited to the sphere of time and space and marked by the curse of man’s own fallenness, which is characterized by pride and self-centeredness. 


Everything the world initiates in the way of supposed truth is self-centered. Unregenerate man’s finite system demands an earthly wisdom and nothing more.


Man’s wisdom is also “natural” (v. 15), which means “fleshly” and refers to man’s humanness and frailty. First Corinthians 2:14says, “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God.” The natural man is sensual. All his feelings, impulses, and appetites are locked up in a fallen and corrupted system. All of man’s wisdom comes from his unsanctified heart and unredeemed spirit.


Besides being earthly and natural, human wisdom is “demonic” (James 3:15). This is the only place in the New Testament where the Greek word translated “demon” appears in its adjectival form. Human wisdom is actually generated by demons, who have been made captive to the same evil system as man. Satan and his agents disguise themselves as ministers of light when in fact they are ministers of darkness (2 Cor. 11:14-15).


The wisdom of the world is spawned by demons, reflects man’s humanness, and proceeds no further than the fallenness of mankind. Since that is so, be sure to “be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10). Don’t let Satan and the world beguile you with their so-called wisdom.


Suggestions for Prayer

Pray to be “filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (Col. 1:9-10).


For Further Study

According to 2 Corinthians 10:3-5and Colossians 2:8, how is the believer to fight against Satan and his demonic wisdom?


The Results of False Wisdom


“Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing” (James 3:16).


False wisdom ruins lives.


Renowned eighteenth-century theologian Jonathan Edwards said the following about the effect of the Fall on man:

Sin, like some powerful astringent, contracted his soul to the very small dimensions of selfishness; and God was forsaken, and fellow-creatures forsaken, and man retired within himself, and became totally governed by narrow and selfish principles and feelings. Self-love became absolute master of his soul, and the more noble and spiritual principles of his being took wings and flew away. 


Edwards’s analysis certainly agrees with what James is saying: man is self-centered (cf. James 3:1416). Where self-centeredness exists, there will be negative results. One such result is “disorder” (v. 16). The term refers to disorder that comes out of instability and chaos. 


Earthly wisdom will never produce harmony or love because it’s proud and self-indulgent. It destroys intimacy, love, unity, and fellowship, and in its place brings discord and chaos. You can see the result of earthly wisdom all over our world today. Anger, bitterness, lawsuits, and divorces are just part of the legacy.

“Every evil thing” also results from earthly wisdom (v. 16). The phrase speaks of something worthless or vile. Greek scholar R.C. 


Trench said it contemplates evil, “not so much that either of active or passive malignity, but rather of its good-for-nothingness, the impossibility of any true gain ever coming forth from it.” The Greek word translated “thing” implies that false wisdom produces nothing of any practical value. At its best it produces worthless things; at its worst it produces vile things.


Which kind of life do you prefer? One that is characterized by love and unity, or by instability and chaos? A life with fulfillment and meaning, or with emptiness? If you want a life that satisfies and has eternal value, choose divine wisdom!



01/20/20


No condemnation status, Praise God. 

Romans 8 starting in verse 28, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren; and whom He predestined these He also called, and whom He called these He also justified and whom He justified, these He also glorified."


 "Whoever the Lord foreknew He predestined, whoever He predestined He called, whoever He called He justified, and whoever He justified He glorified." And nobody is lost in the process and that is because "God causes all things to work together for their good." That is the sum of this wonderful text. Justification is eternal.

Justification and its eternal character is secured to the believer by the marvelous ministry of the Holy Spirit.  It is the Spirit who secures us in a no-condemnation status. We will never be condemned, we are secured eternally as justified in a no-condemnation status because of the work of the Holy Spirit. 


in verses 2 and 3 that it is the Holy Spirit who frees us from sin and death.

2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death

3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, - Romans 8:2-3


In verse 4 it is the Holy Spirit who grants to us the fulfillment of the law by giving us the righteousness of Christ. 


in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. - Romans 8:4

It is the Holy Spirit in verses 5 to 11 that changes our nature.

5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.

8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. - Romans 8:5-11


So, the Holy Spirit does this securing work, keeping us in a no-condemnation status. 


It is the Holy Spirit in verses 12 and 13 who empowered  us for victory over sin. 


12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.

13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.


Romans 8:12-13

It is the Holy Spirit in verses 14 to 16 who confirms our adoption as children of God. 

14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.


15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"

16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,


Romans 8:14-16

And then in verses 17 to 27, it is the Holy Spirit who guarantees our eternal glory. 

21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?

25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Romans 8:21-27


ultimately the Holy Spirit guarantees our glory by what it says in verse 27, He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. It is the ongoing intercessory work of the Holy Spirit that secures our eternal glory. That is the great truth.


28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.


29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.


30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Romans 8:28-30


God causes, all things to work together for good to those that love Him. And it is the "all things" there that is so comforting. 


Verses talks about the extent of our security, the recipients of security, the source of security and the certainty of security comes in verses 29 and 30. 

The extent of security, it covers all things. The recipients of this security, those who love God. The source of their security, they are called. The certainty of their security, that whoever He foreknew and whoever He predestined and whoever He called and whoever He justified He glorified. So we see the extent, the recipients, the source and the certainty of security. If anybody ever asks you where in the Bible it tells them about being eternally secure, this is where you go first and foremost.


So, the Holy Spirit does this securing work, keeping us in a no-condemnation status. 


GOD BLESS YOU



MAXIMILIANO 




01/19/20

Christ's Gentle Example

“Walk . . . with all . . . gentleness” (Ephesians 4:1-2).

Jesus is the greatest example of gentleness: He became angry when God the Father was dishonored, but not when He, the Son, was.

Jesus Christ is our supreme example of gentleness. Paul refers specifically to this in 2 Corinthians 10:1. Jesus Himself said, “I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matt. 11:29).

Jesus showed righteous indignation when it was proper. When He found the Temple filled with people selling exorbitantly priced sacrificial animals, He drove them out, pouring out their money and overturning tables (Matt. 21:12). He told them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den” (v. 13). Jesus later said to the scribes and Pharisees, “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell?” (23:33). He did not stand idly by while the Temple was defiled. He spoke out in judgment against hypocrites who dishonored God.

Even though Jesus became angry when God was maligned, He neither retaliated against nor condemned those who attacked Him. “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:21-23). When God’s Temple was defiled, Jesus cleaned it out. But when the temple of His body was defiled, enduring the agony of the cross, with mockers all around, all He said was, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). That’s supreme gentleness—total selflessness.

It’s so easy to strike back when someone criticizes or attacks us, but that’s not the way of the gentle Christian trying to walk worthy. The only time we should let the lion in us roar is when God’s honor is at stake. Jesus forgave those who crucified Him. How can we do any less to those who hurt us?

Suggestions for Prayer

We all fall short of Christ’s example of gentleness.  Pray that God would help you each day to reflect more and more the gentleness of Christ.

For Further Study

Read the account of Christ’s arrest and crucifixion in Matthew 26:47—27:50.

  • Did He have the power to strike back (26:53)?
  • Find all the instances you can in which Christ demonstrated His gentleness.


PART II

Embracing the Truth

"In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed" (Eph. 1:13).

The gospel is true because Jesus is true, not simply because Christians believe in Him.

After stating salvation from God's perspective in verse 12, Paul here states it from man's perspective. Faith in Christ is your response to God's elective purpose in your life. Those two truths—God's initiative and man's response—co-exist throughout Scripture.

Paul rightly called the gospel "the message of truth" because truth is its predominant characteristic. Salvation was conceived by the God of truth (Ps. 31:5); purchased by the Son, who is the truth (John 14:6); and is applied by the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). To know it is to know the truth that sets men free (John 8:32). Believers are people of the truth (John 18:37), who worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), and who obey the Word of truth (John 17:17).

Yet as profound and powerful as God's truth is, people have rejected, neglected, redefined, and opposed it for centuries. Some, like Pilate, cynically deny that truth even exists or that it can be known by men (John 18:38). Others foolishly think that denying truth will somehow make it go away.

Perhaps you've heard someone say, "Jesus may be true for you but that doesn't mean He has to be true for me." That view assumes that belief somehow determines truth. But just the opposite is the case. Truth determines the validity of one's belief. Believing a lie doesn't make it true. Conversely, failing to believe the truth doesn't make it a lie.

The gospel is true because Jesus is true, not simply because Christians believe in Him. His resurrection proved the truth of His claims and constitutes the objective basis of our faith (Rom. 1:41 Pet. 1:3).

You enter this day armed with the message of truth and empowered by the Spirit of truth. Truth is your protection and strength (Eph. 6:14). Lost souls desperately need to hear that truth. Represent it well and proclaim it with boldness.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank the Lord that by His Spirit He has enabled you to understand His truth (1 Cor. 2:14-16).
  • Ask for wisdom and boldness to speak His truth in love (Eph. 4:15).

For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 and Acts 17:30-31.

  • What key elements of the gospel does Paul list?
  • What is the relationship between Christ's resurrection and God's judgment on sinners?


PART III

Why Jesus Rejected Sensationalism

“‘On the other hand, it is written, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test”’” (Matthew 4:7).

The Lord Jesus had two good reasons for not participating in a worldly spectacle such as jumping from the temple roof. First, such sensationalism is captive to the laws of diminishing returns. To generate and hold people’s allegiance to Him merely by stunning signs, Jesus would have needed to produce greater and greater signs. People would never have been satisfied and would always have demanded just one more miracle, one additional showy event. Real faith would not have been certain; they would have been lovers of sensation more than God, which similarly could happen to any of us who don’t trust God’s already revealed will.

Second, and more important, for Jesus to participate in sensational signs would have demonstrated a profound mistrust in His heavenly Father and a presumptuous, faithless testing of God. But that’s what the devil wanted so that Jesus’ sin would shatter His claim to divinity and ruin humanity’s hope of salvation. Such an action would have questioned the Father’s providence and love—and the wisdom of His redemptive plan.

If our sinless Savior and Lord shunned sensationalism, we as imperfect men and women ought never to live recklessly or carelessly, expecting God to rescue us when we get into earthly trouble or spiritual peril.

Ask Yourself

Perhaps you don’t consider yourself a risk-taker. But looking honestly at your own life, do you spot some behaviors that are spiritually risky, actions that presume on the grace of God? In humble repentance today, surrender these things to the Lord. Receive, but don’t force, His great mercy.


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Genesis 37:3, 4 Overt favoritism of Joseph and tacit appointment of him as the primary son by the father conspired to estrange him from his brothers. They hated and envied him (vv. 4, 5, 11) and could not interact with him without conflict and hostility. Joseph must have noticed the situation.

Genesis 37:36 Potiphar. He was a prominent court official and high-ranking officer in Egypt, perhaps captain of the royal bodyguard (see 40:3, 4). His name, a most unusual grammatical form for that period, either meant “the one whom the god Ra has given” or “the one who is placed on earth by Ra,” making it a descriptive epithet more than a personal name.

Matthew 13:3 parables. Parables were a common form of teaching in Judaism. The Greek term for “parable” appears 45 times in the LXX. A parable is a long analogy, often cast in the form of a story. Before this point in His ministry, Jesus had employed many graphic analogies (see 5:13–16), but their meaning was fairly clear in the context of His teaching. Parables required more explanation (see v. 36) and Jesus employed them to obscure the truth from unbelievers while making it clearer to His disciples (vv. 11, 12). For the remainder of His Galilean ministry, He did not speak to the multitudes except in parables (v. 34). Jesus’ veiling the truth from unbelievers this way was both an act of judgment and an act of mercy. It was “judgment” because it kept them in the darkness that they loved (see John 3:19), but it was “mercy” because they had already rejected the light, so any exposure to more truth would only increase their condemnation.


DAY 19: Why are some events in Matthew in a different order from the order in Mark or Luke?

In general, Matthew presents a topical or thematic approach to the life of Christ. He groups Jesus’ teaching into five major discourses:

  1. The Sermon on the Mount (chaps. 5–7)
  2. The commissioning of the apostles (chap. 10)
  3. The parables of the kingdom (chap. 13)
  4. The childlikeness of the believer (chap. 18)
  5. The discourse on His second coming (chaps. 24; 25)

Matthew makes no attempt to follow a strict chronology. A comparison of the synoptic Gospels reveals that he freely placed things out of order. He was dealing with themes and broad concepts, not laying out a timeline. Mark’s and Luke’s Gospels follow a chronological order more closely.


GOD BLESS YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 




11/18/20


The Preeminence of Christ

“[Christ] is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him” (Colossians 1:18-19).

Christ has preeminence in everything.

The apostle Paul presents four great truths in Colossians 1:18 about Christ’s relation to the church. The first is that Christ is the head of the church. This concept looks at the church as a living organism, inseparably tied together by the living Christ. He controls every part of it and gives it life and direction (cf. 1 Cor. 12:12-20).

Christ is also the source of the church. The Greek word translated “beginning” (arche) is used here in the twofold sense of source and primacy. The church has its origins in Jesus. God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). As head of the Body, Jesus holds the chief position or highest rank in the church. As the beginning, He is its originator.

Another truth is that Christ is the first-born from the dead. Of all those who have been raised from the dead or ever will be, Christ is the highest in rank. Furthermore, it is Christ who will cause the resurrection of others (John 5:28-296:40).

Finally, Christ is the preeminent One. As a result of His death and resurrection, Jesus has come to have first place in everything. Paul states that truth to drive home as forcefully as he can that Jesus is not merely another emanation from God.

Paul then summarizes his argument by saying that all the fullness of deity dwells in Christ alone (Col. 1:19). It is not spread out in small doses to a group of spirits, as the false teachers were saying. Rather, in Christ, and Him alone, believers are “complete” (2:10).

What should be your response to the glorious truths about Christ in Colossians 1:15-19? Be encouraged to meditate on the glory of Christ as revealed in this passage. Doing so will help you be transformed into Christ’s image and will prepare you to behold His glory in Heaven.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord for each of the four truths discussed above.

For Further Study

According to John 1:16, what have you received?


PART II


Our Sympathetic High Priest

"Assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted" (Heb. 2:16-18).


Jesus came to sympathize with us, so He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest.


In his letters to Timothy, Paul counseled and encouraged his young associate about many things—his health, his critics, his moral and spiritual warfare. His counsel is well summed up in these words: "Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David" (2 Tim. 2:8).


Like Timothy, we need to be reminded of Christ's humanity, especially when life becomes particularly tough. Then we can pray, "Lord, You know what You endured while You were here. I'm going through it now." We can be sure He knows and will encourage us.


Jesus came not only to save us but also to sympathize with us. He experienced what we experience so He could be a "merciful and faithful high priest." After all, "we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15).


Jesus felt everything we will ever feel—and more. Most of us will never know the full degree of any given temptation because we usually succumb long before we reach it. But since Jesus never sinned, He took the full measure of every temptation.


Ours is not a cosmic God, powerful and holy, but indifferent. He knows when we hurt, where we are weak, and how we are tempted. Jesus is not just our Savior, but our loving Lord who sympathizes with us. Rejoice in the greatness of His love for us.


Suggestion for Prayer

Ask God to remind you of your need of Him at all times, not just when times are tough.


For Future Study

Memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13 for quick recall whenever you are faced with any trial.


PART III


The Parable of the Householder


“‘Have you understood all these things?’ They said to Him, ‘Yes.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old’” (Matthew 13:51–52).


Jesus’ twelve disciples would eventually become His twelve apostles (Matthias replacing Judas, Acts 1:23). Through these men, and later Paul, our Lord entrusted the continued revelation of His Word and the extension of His church. Like “head[s] of a household,” which was analogous to being disciples in Christ’s kingdom, they drew from the old treasures of previous revelation and received additional, new truths. And these faithful men would proclaim both.


“Brings out” conveys the concept of scattering or distributing widely. Here it also connotes generosity—giving out God’s truth of the gospel wisely and liberally. Second only to their Lord, the apostles would be supreme scholars of Scripture, preachers, and teachers—scribes and disciples without equal (cf. Matt. 11:11) and superb evangelists.


With a slightly lesser degree of authority, the Lord’s charge to His apostles applies to every Christian (Matt. 28:16–20), and especially to those pastors, teachers, and missionaries He has called to spread His Word. It is a tremendous responsibility to warn the lost about hell and to offer them salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ. Paul stated it this way, “Knowing the fear [terror] of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11). The believer’s heart is cold indeed that is not profoundly concerned about those all around who are without Christ and headed for hell. Pray that you would genuinely warm to the task of reaching the lost in your community and beyond with saving gospel treasure.


Ask Yourself

The end of a year and the dawn of a new is always a time of reflection and renewed hope. What have you gleaned from walking with Jesus through these past months and seasons? What are your priorities for the coming year? May the Lord bless you as you follow Him there.


PART IV


Reading for Today:


Notes:

Malachi 3:1 My messenger. It was a custom of the Near Eastern kings to send messengers before them to remove obstacles to their visit. Employing a wordplay on the name of Malachi, “the LORD’s messenger”, the Lord Himself announced He was sending one who would “prepare the way before Me.” This is “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” (Is. 40:3) and the Elijah of 4:5 who comes before the Lord. The New Testament clearly identifies him as John the Baptist (Matt. 3:311:101417:12ff.; Mark 1:2Luke 1:177:2627John 1:23).


Malachi 4:2 Sun of Righteousness. While the wicked will be devoured by the heat of the Lord’s wrath, those who fear Him will feel His warmth with healing in His “rays” or “beams” (Is. 30:2660:13). The reference is to the Messiah; He is “the Lord our Righteousness” (Ps. 84:11Jer. 23:561 Cor. 1:30). healing. 


The reference should not be limited to the physical recovery from the harm done by the wicked (3:5).This sickness is inextricably linked with sin, with healing coming only through the suffering of the Servant (Ps. 103:3Is. 53:557:18191 Pet. 2:24).


Proverbs 31:10–31 This poem offers a beautiful description of the excellent wife as defined by a wife and mother (v. 1). Spiritual and practical wisdom plus moral virtues mark the character of this woman in contrast to the immoral women of v. 3. While the scene here is of a wealthy home and the customs of the ancient Near East, the principles apply to every family. They are set forth as the prayer of every mother for the future wife of her son, and literarily arranged with each of the 22 verses beginning with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet in consecutive order.


Revelation 21:2 New Jerusalem. This is the capital city of heaven, a place of perfect holiness. It is seen “coming down out of heaven,” indicating it already existed; but it descends into the new heavens and new earth from its place on high. This is the city where the saints will live (John 14:1–3). bride. An important New Testament metaphor for the church (Matt. 25:1–13Eph. 5:25–27). John’s imagery here extends from the third part of the Jewish wedding, the ceremony. Believers (the bride) in the New Jerusalem come to meet Christ (the bridegroom) in the final ceremony of redemptive history (19:7). The whole city, occupied by all the saints, is called the bride, so that all saints must be finally included in the bride imagery and bridal blessing. God has brought home a bride for His beloved Son. All the saints live with Christ in the Father’s house (a promise made before the church began; John 14:2).


What is the Book of Malachi about?

Only 50,000 exiles had returned to Judah from Babylon (538–536 B.C.). The temple had been rebuilt under the leadership of Zerubbabel (516 B.C.) and the sacrificial system renewed. Ezra had returned in 458 B.C., followed by Nehemiah in 445 B.C. After being back in the land of Palestine for only a century, the ritual of the Jews’ religious routine led to hard-heartedness toward God’s great love for them and to widespread departure from His law by both people and priest. Malachi rebuked and condemned these abuses, forcefully indicting the people and calling them to repentance. When Nehemiah returned from Persia the second time (ca. 424 B.C.), he vigorously rebuked them for these abuses in the temple and priesthood, for the violation of the Sabbath rest, and for the unlawful divorce of their Jewish wives so they could marry Gentile women (Neh. 13).


As over two millennia of Old Testament history since Abraham concluded, none of the glorious promises of the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenants had been fulfilled in their ultimate sense. Although there had been a few high points in Israel’s history, e.g., Joshua, David, and Josiah, the Jews had seemingly lost all opportunity to receive God’s favor. Less than 100 years after returning from captivity, they had already sunk to a depth of sin that exceeded the former iniquities which brought on the Assyrian and Babylonian deportations. Beyond this, the long-anticipated Messiah had not arrived and did not seem to be in sight.


So, Malachi wrote the capstone prophecy of the Old Testament in which he delivered God’s message of judgment on Israel for their continuing sin and God’s promise that one day in the future, when the Jews would repent, the Messiah would be revealed and God’s covenant promises would be fulfilled. There were over 400 years of divine silence, with only Malachi’s words ringing condemnation in their ears, before another prophet arrived with a message from God. That was John the Baptist preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matt. 3:2). Messiah had come.


LORD BLESS HIS ELECT

My Royal Family


LOVINGLY IN THE LOVE OF OUR LORD JESUS

E+1DAY


MAXIMILIANO



01/17/20


Contentment: How to Enjoy it


“Let your way of life be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).


Your relationship with God allows you to enjoy genuine contentment.

In view of yesterday’s lesson, you may be asking, “But how can I enjoy contentment and be satisfied with what I have?” You can begin by realizing God’s goodness and believing that He will take care of you since you are one of His children. You can claim again the promise in Romans 8: “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (v. 28).

Second, you should truly realize that God is omniscient—He knows all things and all your personal needs. He recognizes your individual needs long before you do and even before you pray about them. Jesus affirms, “Your Father knows that you need these things” (Luke 12:30).


You can also enjoy contentment by remembering that what you want or need is one thing; what you deserve is another. The patriarch Jacob confessed, “I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which Thou hast shown to Thy servant” (Gen. 32:10). 


Contentment will more likely be yours if you consider that God’s smallest favor or blessing to you is more than you deserve.


Ultimately, however, real contentment will be yours if you have vital communion with God through Jesus Christ. Then, like the apostle Paul, temporal things will not matter so much: “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8).


Suggestions for Prayer

God may or may not grant you some new blessing today or this week. In any case, pray that you would be content.


For Further Study



Anticipating Your Inheritance


"In [Christ] also we have obtained an inheritance" (Eph. 1:10-11). 


As a member of God’s family, you have obtained a future inheritance that has many present benefits.


An inheritance is something received by an heir as a result of a will or legal process. It's a legacy one receives from family connections.


As a member of God's family, you are an heir of God and fellow heir with Christ (Rom. 8:17). As such you have obtained an inheritance that Peter called "imperishable and undefiled . . . reserved in heaven for you" (1 Pet. 1:4). It cannot perish, fade away, or be defiled because heaven is timeless and sinless. It is a secure inheritance.

In Ephesians 1:11 Paul refers to it in the past tense ("have obtained"). That's significant because the fullness of your inheritance won't be revealed until you are glorified in God's presence (1 John 3:2). 


But your inheritance is so sure, Paul refers to it as if it was already in hand.

Although its fullness is yet future, your inheritance has present benefits as well. In addition to inheriting Christ and the Holy Spirit, you also inherit peace, love, grace, wisdom, joy, victory, strength, guidance, mercy, forgiveness, righteousness, discernment, and every other spiritual benefit. Paul sums it all up in 1 Corinthians 3:22-23: "All things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God."


Nowadays many Christians are so preoccupied with acquiring material goods that they miss many of the present benefits of their spiritual inheritance and the joy of anticipating its future fulfillment. Don't fall into that trap!


Looking forward to your eternal inheritance will help you maintain a proper perspective on temporal things and motivate you to praise and adore God.


Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise the Lord for the incredible inheritance that awaits you in heaven.
  • Thank Him for the present benefits of your inheritance, which are yours to enjoy daily.

For Further Study

One precious aspect of your eternal inheritance is God's mercy. Psalm 136 reflects on the mercy God demonstrated toward Israel. Read that psalm, noting the manifestations of mercy that relate to your life.



Trust in God Transcends the Temporal


“He answered and said, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”’” (Matthew 4:4).


James, the Lord’s earthly half-brother, reminds us that this life is very temporary and uncertain—it is not even guaranteed that we will have an earthly future. James’s practical letter teaches us: “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that’” (James 4:14–15).


Like Jesus, what we are all about and the ultimate goals of our lives should focus on the eternal, not the temporary. The guiding principle and central motive of our lives must be to please God and trust Him for absolutely everything (cf. Matt. 6:33).

Jesus posed some searching questions in the Sermon on the Mount:

Why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!” (Matt. 6:28–30)


We always suffer and miss out to some extent on spiritual blessings when we shortsightedly worry about the temporal instead of focusing on the eternal. Jesus’ response to the devil’s temptations is again our model.


Ask Yourself

How much time do you spend listening to the nagging complaints of worry? How much is fretting a part of your thought process? When are you most susceptible to letting anxiety rise up within you, stealing your joy and perspective? Pray for freedom from anxiety—and the faith to replace it.



Reading for Today:


Notes:

Genesis 31:19 household idols. Literally, teraphim (see 2 Kin. 23:24Ezek. 21:21). These images or figurines of varying sizes, usually of nude goddesses with accentuated sexual features, either signaled special protection for, inheritance rights for, or guaranteed fertility for the bearer. Or, perhaps possession by Rachel would call for Jacob to be recognized as head of the household at Laban’s death.


Matthew 11:12 the kingdom of heaven suffers violence. From the time he began his preaching ministry, John the Baptist evoked a strong reaction. Having been imprisoned already, John ultimately fell victim to Herod’s savagery. But the kingdom can never be subdued or opposed by human violence. Notice that where Matthew says, “the violent take it by force,” Luke has, “everyone is pressing into it” (Luke 16:16). 


So the sense of this verse may be rendered this way: “The kingdom presses ahead relentlessly, and only the relentless press their way into it.” Thus again Christ is magnifying the difficulty of entering the kingdom.

Matthew 11:28–30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden. 


There is an echo of the first beatitude (5:3) in this passage. Note that this is an open invitation to all who hear—but phrased in such a way that the only ones who will respond to the invitation are those who are burdened by their own spiritual bankruptcy and the weight of trying to save themselves by keeping the law. The stubbornness of humanity’s sinful rebellion is such that without a sovereignly bestowed spiritual awakening, all sinners refuse to acknowledge the depth of their spiritual poverty. 


That is why, as Jesus says in v. 27, our salvation is the sovereign work of God. But the truth of divine election in v. 27 is not incompatible with the free offer to all in vv. 28–30.


List the false gods in the Old Testament.

  1. Rachel’s household gods (Gen. 31:19)
  2. The golden calf at Sinai (Ex. 32)
  3. Nanna, the moon god of Ur, worshiped by Abraham before his salvation (Josh. 24:2)
  4. Asherah, or Ashtaroth, the chief goddess of Tyre, referred to as the lady of the sea (Judg. 6:24–32)
  5. Dagon, the chief Philistine agriculture and sea god and father of Baal (Judg. 16:23–30)
  6. Ashtoreth, a Canaanite goddess, another consort of Baal (1 Sam. 7:34)
  7. Molech, the god of the Ammonites and the most horrible idol in the Scriptures (1 Kin. 11:7)
  8. The two golden images made by King Jeroboam, set up at the shrines of Dan and Bethel (1 Kin. 12:28–31)
  9. Baal, the chief deity of Canaan (1 Kin. 18:17–402 Kin. 10:2811:18)
  10. Rimmon, the Syrian god of Naaman the leper (2 Kin. 5:15–19)
  11. Nishroch, the Assyrian god of Sennacherib (2 Kin. 19:37)
  12. Nebo, the Babylonian god of wisdom and literature (Is. 46:1)
  13. Merodach, also called Marduk, the chief god of the Babylonian pantheon (Jer. 50:2)
  14. Tammuz, the husband and brother of Ishtar (Asherah), goddess of fertility (Ezek. 8:14)
  15. The golden image in the plain of Dura (Dan. 2)


The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace." 


MAXIMILIANO 



01/16/17


The Opposite of Covetousness


“Let your way of life be free from the love of money, being content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5). 


If you are content with what God has given you, you will not be a person who is covetous or a lover of money.

I once had a man come into my church office and confess the sin of gluttony. When I told him he did not look overweight, he answered, “I know. It is not that I eat too much but that I want to. I continually crave food. It’s an obsession.”


Covetousness is very similar to that man’s gluttonous attitude. You do not have to acquire a lot of things, or even anything at all, to be covetous. If you long to acquire things and are focusing all your attention on how you might get them, you are guilty of covetousness.


It is not wrong to earn or possess wealth. In the Old Testament, Abraham and Job had tremendous wealth. A number of faithful New Testament believers were also fairly wealthy. The problem comes when we have a greedy attitude that craves money above everything else. Paul warns us, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang” (1 Tim. 6:10). Loving money is perhaps the most common form of covetousness; it is akin to lusting after material riches in various forms.


No matter how it appears, this kind of covetousness breeds the same spiritual result—it displeases God and separates us from Him. More income, a bigger house, nicer clothes, a fancier car can tempt all of us.


But the Lord wants you to be free from the materialism that so easily controls your non-Christian neighbors. Your earthly possessions are only temporary anyway. You will lose them all one day soon enough. So God tells you and me to be “content with what you have” (Heb. 13:5), realizing that we have “a better possession and an abiding one” (10:34) in our salvation.


Suggestions for Prayer

Is there any covetousness or materialism in your life today? Confess it to the Lord, and pray that He would give you a renewed desire to trust Him rather than uncertain wealth.


For Further Study

Read Luke 12:13-34.

  • Make a list of the things that illustrate how God cares for our material needs.
  • How does the rich fool’s attitude contrast with what Jesus teaches in verse 31?



Resting in God's Sovereignty


"[God] made known the mystery of His will according to His kind intention which He purposed in [Christ] with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth" (Eph. 1:9-10). 


God is intimately involved in the flow of human history and is directing its course toward a specific, predetermined climax.


For centuries men of various philosophical schools have debated the cause, course, and climax of human history. Some deny God and therefore deny any divine involvement in history. Others believe that God set everything in motion, then withdrew to let it progress on its own. Still others believe that God is intimately involved in the flow of human history and is directing its course toward a specific, predetermined climax.


In Ephesians 1:9-10 Paul settles that debate by reminding us that Jesus Himself is the goal of human history. In Him all things will be summed up—all human history will be resolved and united to the Father through the work of the Son.


As Paul said elsewhere, "It was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness [of deity] to dwell in [Christ], and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross" (Col. 1:19-20). The culmination of Christ's reconciling work will come during His millennial kingdom (Rev. 20). 


Following that, He will usher in the eternal state with a new heaven and earth (Rev. 21).


Despite the political uncertainty and military unrest in the world today, be assured that God is in control. He governs the world (Isa. 40:22-24), the nations (Isa. 40:15- 17), and individuals as well (Prov. 16:9). God's timetable is right on schedule. Nothing takes Him by surprise and nothing thwarts His purposes. Ultimately He will vanquish evil and make everything right in Christ.


Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the wisdom and insight He gives you to see beyond your temporal circumstances to His eternal purposes.
  • Live today with that perspective in mind.


For Further Study

Read Revelation 20.

  • What happens to Satan prior to the millennial kingdom?
  • How does Satan meet his final doom?
  • What happens at the great white throne judgment?



Trusting Self Is Never Justified


“He answered and said, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”’” (Matthew 4:4).


Christians are never justified in trusting solely in themselves to meet their basic needs. No matter how worried we might become, if we turn to God in faith and obedience, He will meet all our essential needs in His own way, according to His sovereign schedule. Implicit in this understanding is that God will meet every need, both physical and spiritual, as Paul promises us, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19; cf. Matt. 6:833).


It is always best to follow Jesus’ example, obeying God and trusting wholeheartedly in His gracious provision, than to impulsively and selfishly attempt to meet our own needs in ways that could disobey or compromise God’s Word.

To trust first of all in ourselves to meet our needs—circumventing or modifying God’s will in the process—not only demonstrates a lack of faith but rests on the false assumption that our earthly well-being is our most crucial need. Jesus contradicts such thinking, which is so natural to fallen humanity, both to unbelievers as well as believers who slip into carnal mind-sets. 


Therefore our Lord quoted Deuteronomy 8:3, “‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” The all-sufficient and sustaining power of God is the only true source that meets our every need.


Ask Yourself

Where does your dependence lie? Are you trusting in your paycheck? Your insurance policies? Your physical strength and smarts? Or have you finally realized that everything hinges on God, His Word, and His sovereign plan for your life? Find your sense of security in Him alone.



Reading for Today:


Notes:

Genesis 29:17 eyes were delicate. Probably means that they were a pale color rather than the dark and sparkling eyes most common. Such paleness was viewed as a blemish.

Genesis 30:2 Am I in the place of God…? Although spoken in a moment of frustration with Rachel’s pleading for children and the envy with which it was expressed, Jacob’s words do indicate an understanding that ultimately God opened and closed the womb.


Psalm 8:3 Your heavens, the work of Your fingers. The heavens are created by God (Pss. 33:6,9102:25136:5). The anthropomorphism “Your fingers” miniaturizes the magnitude of the universe in the presence of the Creator.


Psalm 8:4 What is man…? If the whole universe is diminutive in the sight of the Divine Creator, how much less is the significance of mankind! Even the word for “man” used in v. 4 alludes to his weakness (see Pss. 9:19,2090:3a103:15, etc.). and the son of man. This phrase also looks upon man as insignificant and transitory (e.g., Ps. 90:3b). Yet, the Aramaic counterpart of this phrase is found in Daniel 7:13, which has profound messianic overtones (see also Jesus’ favorite self-designation in the New Testament, Son of Man).


Should I expect to be persecuted for my faith?

In Matthew 10:32, Jesus makes the amazing promise that the person who acknowledges Him as Lord in life or in death, if necessary, is the one whom He will acknowledge personally before God as His own (Matt. 13:202 Tim. 2:10–13). 


Conversely, He describes the soul-damning denial of Christ of those who through fear, shame, neglect, or love of the world reject all evidence and revelation and decline to confess Christ as Savior and King.


Though the ultimate end of the gospel is peace with God (John 14:27Rom. 8:6), the immediate result of the gospel is frequently conflict (v. 34). Conversion to Christ can result in strained family relationships (vv. 35, 36), persecution, and even martyrdom. Following Christ presupposes a willingness to endure such hardships (vv. 32, 33, 37–39). Though He is called “Prince of Peace” (Is. 9:6), Christ will have no one deluded into thinking that He calls believers to a life devoid of all conflict.

When Jesus adds that a disciple must “take his cross” (v. 38), it is His first mention of the word “cross” to His disciples. To them it would have evoked a picture of a violent, degrading death. He was demanding total commitment from them—even unto physical death—and making this call to full surrender a part of the message they were to proclaim to others. For those who come to Christ with self-renouncing faith, there will be true and eternal life (v. 39).


The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace." 


MAXIMILIANO 



01/16/20


The Opposite of Covetousness


“Let your way of life be free from the love of money, being content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5). 


If you are content with what God has given you, you will not be a person who is covetous or a lover of money.

I once had a man come into my church office and confess the sin of gluttony. When I told him he did not look overweight, he answered, “I know. It is not that I eat too much but that I want to. I continually crave food. It’s an obsession.”


Covetousness is very similar to that man’s gluttonous attitude. You do not have to acquire a lot of things, or even anything at all, to be covetous. If you long to acquire things and are focusing all your attention on how you might get them, you are guilty of covetousness.


It is not wrong to earn or possess wealth. In the Old Testament, Abraham and Job had tremendous wealth. A number of faithful New Testament believers were also fairly wealthy. The problem comes when we have a greedy attitude that craves money above everything else. Paul warns us, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang” (1 Tim. 6:10). Loving money is perhaps the most common form of covetousness; it is akin to lusting after material riches in various forms.


No matter how it appears, this kind of covetousness breeds the same spiritual result—it displeases God and separates us from Him. More income, a bigger house, nicer clothes, a fancier car can tempt all of us.


But the Lord wants you to be free from the materialism that so easily controls your non-Christian neighbors. Your earthly possessions are only temporary anyway. You will lose them all one day soon enough. So God tells you and me to be “content with what you have” (Heb. 13:5), realizing that we have “a better possession and an abiding one” (10:34) in our salvation.


Suggestions for Prayer

Is there any covetousness or materialism in your life today? Confess it to the Lord, and pray that He would give you a renewed desire to trust Him rather than uncertain wealth.


For Further Study

Read Luke 12:13-34.

  • Make a list of the things that illustrate how God cares for our material needs.
  • How does the rich fool’s attitude contrast with what Jesus teaches in verse 31?



Resting in God's Sovereignty


"[God] made known the mystery of His will according to His kind intention which He purposed in [Christ] with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth" (Eph. 1:9-10). 


God is intimately involved in the flow of human history and is directing its course toward a specific, predetermined climax.


For centuries men of various philosophical schools have debated the cause, course, and climax of human history. Some deny God and therefore deny any divine involvement in history. Others believe that God set everything in motion, then withdrew to let it progress on its own. Still others believe that God is intimately involved in the flow of human history and is directing its course toward a specific, predetermined climax.


In Ephesians 1:9-10 Paul settles that debate by reminding us that Jesus Himself is the goal of human history. In Him all things will be summed up—all human history will be resolved and united to the Father through the work of the Son.


As Paul said elsewhere, "It was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness [of deity] to dwell in [Christ], and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross" (Col. 1:19-20). The culmination of Christ's reconciling work will come during His millennial kingdom (Rev. 20). 


Following that, He will usher in the eternal state with a new heaven and earth (Rev. 21).


Despite the political uncertainty and military unrest in the world today, be assured that God is in control. He governs the world (Isa. 40:22-24), the nations (Isa. 40:15- 17), and individuals as well (Prov. 16:9). God's timetable is right on schedule. Nothing takes Him by surprise and nothing thwarts His purposes. Ultimately He will vanquish evil and make everything right in Christ.


Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the wisdom and insight He gives you to see beyond your temporal circumstances to His eternal purposes.
  • Live today with that perspective in mind.


For Further Study

Read Revelation 20.

  • What happens to Satan prior to the millennial kingdom?
  • How does Satan meet his final doom?
  • What happens at the great white throne judgment?



01/15/20


Identifying with Those in Need


“Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body” (Hebrews 13:2).


Because we too are human beings, God makes it possible for us to empathize with others who might be enduring hardship.


The Apostolic Confession, an ancient church confession, says, “If any Christian is condemned for Christ’s sake to the mines by the ungodly, do not overlook him, but from the proceeds of your toil and sweat, send him something to support himself, and to reward the soldier of Christ.” You can see from this quote that the early church took seriously its responsibility to help people who were suffering persecution. To obtain money to free a fellow believer, some early Christians even sold themselves into slavery.


It’s unlikely we’ll ever have to face such extreme measures. But we can definitely learn from the heart attitude that prompted such an action. The point is, we should do whatever we can to understand what others are going through. We don’t necessarily have to experience the same starvation, imprisonment, or harsh treatment that they are enduring in order to sympathize. Being human—“in the body,” as today’s verse says—and suffering our own hurts and hungers should be enough incentive for us to help others.


You can have loving empathy for someone in at least three ways. First, you can simply “be there” as a friend to encourage the other person when he is in trouble.


A second way to show empathy is by giving direct help. The Philippians shared with the apostle Paul in his affliction by financially supporting his ministry in other places (Phil. 4:14-16). In this way they also encouraged him spiritually.


Third, you can give empathy through prayer. Paul’s closing words to the Colossians, “Remember my imprisonment” (Col. 4:18), were an appeal for prayer. It was the only means remaining by which the church could effectively support him.

If we have Christ’s example, who is not “a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses” (Heb. 4:15), how can we possibly ignore the hurts of others, especially those of fellow believers? Instead, sincere empathy should be a regular part of our service for the Lord.


Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for a greater alertness and sensitivity to those you know who might be hurting.


For Further Study

Based on the Good Samaritan story in Luke 10:29-37, what are the essential attitudes and actions of a good neighbor?



Pursuing God's Will


"In all wisdom and insight [God] made known to us the mystery of His will" (Eph. 1:8-9).


Even if you haven’t obtained academic degrees, you have wisdom that far surpasses the most educated unbeliever.


When God redeemed you, He not only forgave your trespasses and removed the guilt and penalty of sin, but He also gave you spiritual wisdom and insight—two essential elements for godly living. Together they speak of the ability to understand God's will and apply it to your life in practical ways.


As a believer you understand the most sublime truths of all. For example, you know that God created the world and controls the course of history. You know that mankind's reason for existence is to know and glorify Him. You have goals and priorities that transcend earthly circumstances and limitations.


Such wisdom and insight escapes unbelievers because they tend to view the things of God with disdain (1 Cor. 2:14). But you "have the mind of Christ" (v. 16). His Word reveals His will and His spirit gives you the desire and ability to understand and obey it.

Today is another opportunity to cultivate that desire through diligent prayer and Bible study. 


Let the psalmist's commitment be yours: "O how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day. Thy commandments make me wiser than my enemies. . . . I have more insight than all my teachers. . . . I understand more than the aged . . . I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Thy word" (Ps. 119:97-101).


Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the wisdom and insight He gives you through His Word.
  • If you have neglected the Word, ask His forgiveness and begin once again to refresh your spirit with its truths.
  • Ask for wisdom to respond biblically to every situation you face today.


For Further Study

Many Christians think God's will is vague or hidden from them. But Scripture mentions several specific aspects of His will. Once you align yourself with those specifics, the Spirit will direct you in the other areas of your life.




Jesus’ Real Food—Obeying the Father


“He answered and said, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”’” (Matthew 4:4).


Above all, Satan’s temptations of Jesus Christ solicited His rebellion against the Father. But Jesus had come to earth to do the Father’s will and nothing else. In fact, His will and the Father’s were precisely the same (John 5:30; cf. 10:30Heb. 10:9).

Case in point: In the ultimate test of obedience, just prior to His arrest and betrayal, Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”. . . “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done” (Matt. 26:3942). 


This supreme example of absolute trust and submission by Jesus to His Father is what Satan tried to smash. In his proudest and wickedest manner, the enemy attempted to fracture the Trinitarian nature of the Godhead.

But Christ, in His immeasurable humility and righteousness, replied to Satan’s first words, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” 


All three of our Lord’s responses to Satan would begin with the simple but straightforward appeal to the Word of God—“It is written” (cf. Ps. 119:11). In quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, Jesus affirmed that believers are far better off depending on God and waiting on His provision than they are in grabbing for their own satisfaction—something we all are tempted to do.


Ask Yourself

You may feel unsure of what God’s will is for you, but much of it is spelled out clearly in Scripture. How well are you obeying the aspects of His will that have already been revealed to you? In seeking to know His plan, a good place to start is always obedience to His Word.



Reading for Today:


Notes:

Genesis 27:33 Isaac trembled exceedingly. Visibly shocked when the scandal was uncovered by the entrance of Esau, the father, remembering the Lord’s words to Rebekah (25:23), refused to withdraw the blessing and emphatically affirmed its validity—”Indeed he shall be blessed” and a little later “Indeed I have made him your master” and also “you shall serve your brother” (vv. 37, 40). Sudden realization at having opposed God’s will all those years likely made the shock more severe.

Proverbs 3:11, 12 not despise…chastening. Since even the wisest of God’s children are subject to sin, there is necessity of God’s fatherly discipline to increase wisdom and blessing. Such correction should not be resisted.


Matthew 10:1 He gave them power. Jesus delegated His power to the apostles to show clearly that He and His kingdom were sovereign over the physical and spiritual realms, the effects of sin, and the efforts of Satan. This was an unheard of display of power, never before seen in all redemptive history, to announce Messiah’s arrival and authenticate Him plus His apostles who preached His gospel. This power was a preview of the power Christ will exhibit in His earthly kingdom, when Satan will be bound (Rev. 20) and the curse on physical life curtailed (Is. 65:20–25).


Matthew 10:8 Freely you have received, freely give. Jesus was giving them great power, to heal the sick and raise the dead. If they sold these gifts for money, they could have made quite a fortune. But that would have obscured the message of grace Christ sent them to preach. So He forbade them to charge money for their ministry. Yet they were permitted to accept support to meet their basic needs, for a workman is worthy of such support (v. 10).


What does Jacob’s deception teach us about lying?

When Jacob said, “I shall seem to be a deceiver to him” (Gen. 27:12), his objection to his mother’s proposal that he lie to his father makes it clear he fully understood. The differences between him and Esau would surely not fool his father and might result in blessing being replaced with a curse as a fitting punishment for deception. 


But when Rebekah accepted full responsibility for the scheme and the curse it might incur, Jacob acquiesced and followed Rebekah’s instructions.

Even Isaac’s perfectly legitimate question in v. 20 afforded Jacob an escape route—confess and stop the deceit! Instead, Jacob, with consummate ease, knowing he needed Isaac’s irrevocable confirmation even though he had bought the birthright, ascribed success in the hunt to God’s providence. 


A lie had to sustain a lie, and a tangled web had begun to be woven (vv. 21–24). That principle always follows any lie we tell.


Although Jacob received Isaac’s blessing that day, the deceit caused severe consequences: 1) he never saw his mother after that; 2) Esau wanted him dead; 3) Laban, his uncle, deceived him; 4) his family life was full of conflict; and 5) he was exiled for years from his family. By the promise of God he would have received the birthright (25:23). He didn’t need to scheme this deception with his mother.


The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace." 


MAXIMILIANO 



01/14/20


Showing Love Through Hospitality


“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).


Hospitality should be a trait of all Christians, because whenever we display it, we minister to the Lord.


If you are a Christian, your responsibility to love others does not stop with fellow believers. The apostle Paul is very explicit and direct about this: “See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men” (1 Thess. 5:15). “All men” includes even your enemies. 


The “strangers” mentioned in today’s verse can refer to unbelievers as well as believers. The writer of Hebrews is saying we often won’t know the full impact hospitality will have; therefore, we should always be alert and diligent because our actions may even influence someone toward salvation.

The last part of Hebrews 13:2, “some have entertained angels without knowing it,” further underscores the point that we can never know how significant or helpful an act of hospitality might be. Abraham had no idea that two of the three men passing by his tent were angels and that the third was the Lord Himself, but he still went out of his way to demonstrate hospitality (Gen. 18:1-5). The primary motivation is still love, for the sake of those we help and for the glory of God.


The Lord Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” (Matt. 25:40). As Christians, when we feed the hungry, take in the stranger, clothe the naked, and visit someone in prison, we serve Christ. If we turn our backs on people, believers or unbelievers, who have real needs, it is the same as turning our backs on Him (v. 45). Loving hospitality is therefore more than an option—it is a command.


Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that God would give you a greater desire to show hospitality and that you could minister it to a specific person.


For Further Study

Read Genesis 18:1-15.

  • Write down the positive ways in which Abraham handled his opportunity to show love to strangers.
  • How well did Sarah handle this situation?
  • How does the example of her attitude relate to Hebrews 13:2?



Enjoying God's Forgiveness


In Christ we have "the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of [God's] grace, which He lavished upon us" (Eph. 1:7-8).


In Christ we have infinite forgiveness for every sin—past, present, and future.


On Israel's Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) the high priest selected two goats. One was sacrificed; the other set free. Before releasing the second goat, the high priest symbolically placed the sins of the people on it by laying his hands on its head. This "scapegoat" was then taken a great distance from camp and released—never to return again (Lev. 16:7-10).


The Greek word translated "forgiveness" in Ephesians 1:7 means "to send away." It speaks of cancelling a debt or granting a pardon. Like the scapegoat, Christ carried away our sins on the cross.


In Christ, God cancelled your debt and pardoned your transgressions, and He did so "according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon [you]" (v. 8). That means you have infinite forgiveness because God's grace is infinite. You cannot sin beyond God's grace because where sin abounds, grace super-abounds (Rom. 5:20).


God delights in lavishing His grace upon you. Such grace is overflowing and cannot be contained. You are forgiven for every sin—past, present, and future. You will never be condemned by God or separated from Him (Rom. 8:1-231-39). Even when you fail, God doesn't hold your sins against you. Christ bore them all so that you might know the joy and peace that freedom from sin and guilt brings.


Let the reality of God's grace fill your heart with joy and assurance. Let the responsibility of glorifying Him fill you with awe and reverence. Let this day be a sacrifice of praise and service to Him.


Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for His infinite grace and forgiveness.
  • Look for opportunities to extend forgiveness to others.


For Further Study

Read Matthew 18:21-35.

  • What characteristic marked the wicked slave?
  • What was the king's response to the wicked slave's actions?
  • What point was Jesus making? How does it apply to you?



Testing Jesus’ Divine Rights


“‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread’” (Matthew 4:3).


Before Satan tempted Jesus more directly, he threw out a cynical challenge to test Christ’s deity. The devil’s conditional statement, “If You are the Son of God,” assumed that Jesus was indeed God’s beloved Son (3:17). But he hoped to persuade Him into a demonstration of divine power that would violate God’s plan, which called for Jesus to set aside His divine power while on earth and use it only when the Father commanded. If Satan could make Jesus presume upon His divine rights and act independently of His Father, this would amount to disobedience.


Obviously, then, the purpose of the first temptation went far beyond getting Jesus to satisfy His physical hunger by wrongly using miraculous power. The devil wanted Him to doubt the Father’s word, love, and provision—to disobediently declare that being hungry was simply not fit for God’s only Son.


Satan’s argument was, “Hadn’t He endured enough humiliating circumstances already (the stable, the flight to Egypt, obscurity in Nazareth, this time in the wilderness) in an effort to identify with unworthy humanity?” But unlike Eve in the Garden of Eden (cf. Gen. 3:1f.), Jesus stayed true to God’s will and did not cast doubt on the Father’s word or His already secured position as God’s Son.


Ask Yourself

Yes, there is more at stake in temptation than the mere subject of the enticement. There are significant matters of trust and freedom and identity involved. How seriously are you taking these threats to your Christian calling? Pray that God would help you see the battle for what it is.



Reading for Today:


Notes:

Genesis 25:8 gathered to his people. A euphemism for death, but also an expression of personal continuance beyond death, which denoted a reunion with previously departed friends (ca. 1990 B.C.).

Genesis 25:23 the older shall serve the younger. This was contrary to the custom in patriarchal times when the elder son enjoyed the privileges of precedence in the household and at the father’s death received a double share of the inheritance and became the recognized head of the family (see Ex. 22:29Num 8:14–17Deut. 21:17). 


Grave offenses could annul such primogeniture rights (see Gen. 35:2249:341 Chr. 5:1); or the birthright could be sacrificed or legally transferred to another in the family, as in this case (vv. 29–34). In this case, God declared otherwise since His sovereign elective purposes did not necessarily have to follow custom (see Rom. 9:10–14, esp. v. 12).


Proverbs 3:9, 10 Honor the LORD…possessions. A biblical view of possessions demands using them for honoring God. This is accomplished by trusting God (v. 5); by giving the first and best to God (“firstfruits”; see Ex. 22:2923:19Deut. 18:4); by being fair (vv. 27, 28); by giving generously (11:25); and by expressing gratitude for all He gives (Deut. 6:9–11). The result of such faithfulness to honor Him is prosperity and satisfaction.


Why is compassion the key to Christian service?

In Matthew 9:35, it describes Jesus’ ministry of teaching and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and of healing every sickness and every disease among the people. Jesus banished illness in an unprecedented healing display, giving impressive evidence of His deity and making the Jews’ rejection all the more heinous.

In v. 36 it adds that Jesus was “moved” with compassion when He saw the multitudes. Here the humanity of Christ allowed expression of His attitude toward sinners in terms of human passion. 


Whereas God, who is immutable, is not subject to the rise and fall and change of emotions (Num. 23:19), Christ, who was fully human with all the faculties of humanity, was on occasion moved to literal tears over the plight of sinners (Luke 19:41). God Himself expressed similar compassion through the prophets (Ex. 33:19Ps. 86:15Jer. 9:113:1714:17). He saw these people as weary and scattered. Their spiritual needs were even more desperate than the need for physical healing.


Meeting those needs requires laborers (v. 37), which is where we come in. The Lord spoke of the spiritual harvest of souls for salvation; but apart from being “moved” with the same compassion, our service will be in vain.


The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace." 


MAXIMILIANO 




01/13/20


The Importance of Brotherly Love


“Let love of the brethren continue” (Hebrews 13:1).

Genuine love among Christians is a testimony to the world, to ourselves, and to God.


The importance of brotherly love extends well beyond the walls of your local church or fellowship hall. In John 13:35 Jesus says, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” In effect, God has made love for one another the measuring stick by which the world can determine if our Christian profession is genuine. That’s why it’s so important that we have a selfless attitude and sincerely place the interests of our brothers and sisters in Christ ahead of our own.


If you are a parent, you know what a delight it is when your children love and care for one another. Such harmonious relations make for a close-knit family and fulfill the words of the psalmist: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” (Ps. 133:1). God is both pleased and glorified when Christian brothers and sisters love each other and minister together in harmony.


Neither the author of Hebrews nor the apostle John is equating love with a sentimental, superficial affection. As already suggested, practical commitment marks true brotherly love. If you do not have such commitment, it is fair to question your relationship to God (1 John 3:17). Refusing to help a fellow believer when you can, John reasons, reveals that you don’t really love him. And if you don’t love him, God’s love can’t be in your heart, which proves that you don’t belong to Him. 


This logic is sobering and persuasive. It should motivate us all the more to see the importance of practicing brotherly love: “Let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him” (1 John 3:18-19).


Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord’s forgiveness for times when you did not show brotherly love or when you were reluctant to help another Christian in need.


For Further Study

Read Luke 6:31-35 and notice how our duty to love extends even beyond the sphere of fellow believers. What kind of reward results?



The High Cost of Free Grace


"In [Christ] we have redemption through His blood" (Eph. 1:7, emphasis added).


Redeeming grace is free to us, but its cost to God is inestimable.


Sin is not a serious issue to most people. Our culture flaunts and peddles it in countless forms. Even Christians who would never think of committing certain sins will often allow themselves to be entertained by them through television, movies, music, and other media.


We sometimes flirt with sin but God hates it. The price He paid to redeem us from it speaks of the seriousness with which He views it. After all, we "were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold . . . but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ" (1 Pet. 1:18-19).


In Scripture the shedding of blood refers to violent physical death—whether of a sacrificial animal or of Christ Himself. Sin is so serious that without bloodshed, there is no forgiveness of sin in God's sight (Heb. 9:22).


The sacrificial animals in the Old Testament pictured Christ's sacrifice on the cross. That's why John the Baptist called Jesus "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). The Old Testament sacrifices were necessary but incomplete. Christ's sacrifice was perfect, complete, and once for all (Heb. 10:10). No further sacrifices are needed other than the "sacrifice of praise to God" for what He has done (Heb. 13:15) and our very lives in service to Him as "a living and holy sacrifice" (Rom. 12:1).


By His sacrifice Christ demonstrated not only God's hatred for sin, but also His great love for sinners. You could never redeem yourself, but Christ willingly paid the price with His own precious blood. He "gave Himself up for [you], an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma" (Eph. 5:2). His sacrifice was acceptable to the Father, so your redemption was paid in full. What magnanimous love and incredible grace!


Suggestions for Prayer

  • Worship God for His wonderful plan of salvation.
  • Worship Christ for the enormous sacrifice He made on your behalf.
  • Worship the Holy Spirit for applying Christ's sacrifice to your life and drawing you to Christ in saving faith.
  • Ask God to help you guard your heart from flirting with sin.


For Further Study

Read 2 Samuel 11.

  • What circumstances led to David's sin with Bathsheba?
  • How did David attempt to cover his sin?
  • How did David finally deal with his sin (see Ps. 51)?



The Tempter Is Real


“And the tempter came and said to Him . . .” (Matthew 4:3).


It is not popular today to believe in a literal, personal devil, even among professing Christians. The devil is increasingly seen as being somewhere between a figment of our imagination and a useful device to coerce obedience.


Yet in addition to the name used here (“tempter”), the New Testament gives Satan many other names: “ruler of this world” (John 12:3114:3016:11); “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2); “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4); “Abaddon” and “Apollyon,” both of which mean “destroyer” (Rev. 9:11); and “the serpent of old” (Rev. 12:9).

With these and many other references to the devil in God’s infallible Scripture—all of which assume a real, supernatural person—it’s clear that Satan does exist. And he never made himself more personally manifest than when he confronted Jesus in the wilderness. The Lord’s opponent was an actual, personal foe in every sense of that expression.


Since the Fall, Satan has directed his full attention and fury against God and His kingdom work. While Christ was on earth, that opposition was particularly intense against the Son and His redemptive mission, beginning at the very outset of His ministry. Yet all the forces of hell continue to present us with real challenges as we endeavor to advance God’s kingdom. Thus all believers must remain ever vigilant and prayerful against a genuine spiritual foe.


Ask Yourself

Have you grown lax in guarding yourself from the “roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8) who actively seeks to devour you? He is not to be feared, for your God is triumphant, but he is definitely in need of accounting for. Ask the Lord to make you wise and wary of the enemy’s presence.



Reading for Today:


Notes:

Genesis 23:1, 2 Although Sarah’s age—the only woman’s age at death recorded in Scripture—might suggest her importance in God’s plan, it more importantly reminds of the birth of her only son well beyond childbearing age (at 90 years of age, see 17:17) and of God’s intervention to bring about the fulfillment of His word to her and Abraham. Sarah’s death occurred ca. 2028 B.C.


Genesis 24:2–4 put your hand under my thigh…and…swear. A solemn pledge mentioning the Lord’s name and formalized by an accepted customary gesture indicated just how serious an undertaking this was in Abraham’s eyes. At his age (v. 1), Abraham was concerned to perpetuate his people and God’s promise through the next generation, so he covenanted with his servant to return to Mesopotamia and bring back a wife for Isaac.


Matthew 9:1 His own city. Capernaum is the city where Jesus settled. Jesus had left there to get away from the crowds for a time.

Matthew 9:13 go and learn what this means. This phrase was commonly used as a rebuke for those who did not know something they should have known. The verse Jesus cites is Hosea 6:6, which emphasizes the absolute priority of the law’s moral standards over the ceremonial requirements. The Pharisees tended to focus on the outward, ritual, and ceremonial aspects of God’s law—to the neglect of its inward, eternal, and moral precepts. In doing so, they became harsh, judgmental, and self-righteously scornful of others. Jesus repeated this same criticism in 12:7.


Why were the scribes upset that Christ forgave the paralytic?

In Matthew 9:1-8, the fact that the man was brought on a bed indicates that his paralysis was severe. Christ ignored the paralysis and addressed the man’s greater needs. Christ’s words of forgiveness may indicate that the paralysis was a direct consequence of the man’s own sin (John 9:1–3).


The scribes outcry, “This Man blasphemes!” would be a true judgment about anyone but God incarnate, for only the One who has been sinned against has the prerogative to forgive. Jesus’ words to the man were therefore an unequivocal claim of divine authority. That He asserted His prerogative that was God’s alone was completely understood by the scribes.


Jesus then confronts the scribes directly. It is certainly easier to claim the power to pronounce absolution from sin than to demonstrate the power to heal. Christ actually proved His power to forgive by instantly healing the man of his paralysis. His ability to heal anyone and everyone at will—totally and immediately—was incontrovertible proof of His deity. If He could do the apparently harder, He could also do what seemed easier. The actual forgiving of the sins was in reality the more difficult task, however, because it ultimately required Him to sacrifice His life.


The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his 
countenance upon thee, and give thee peace." 


MAXIMILIANO 




01/12/20


Having Love for One Another


“Let love of the brethren continue” (Hebrews 13:1).


Christianity’s primary moral standard is love, especially for fellow believers.


Love of other believers is a natural outflow of the Christian life and should be a normal part of fellowship within the church. You can no doubt remember how after you were first saved it became very natural and exciting to love other Christians and to want to be around them. However, such an attitude is extremely difficult to maintain. This love, which is a gift from God’s Spirit, must be nurtured or it will not grow—it may actually shrivel. 


That’s why the apostle Peter urges us, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:22-23).


Paul teaches us the same concept of nurturing and practicing love for one another when he writes: “Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for any one to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more” (1 Thess. 4:9-10). Paul also gives us the basic definition of brotherly love: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor” (Rom. 12:10). Simply stated, brotherly love is caring for fellow Christians more than we care for ourselves. And such love presupposes that we will have an attitude of humility (Phil. 2:3-4).


So today’s verse from Hebrews merely supports what Paul and Peter said elsewhere. The writer’s admonition that we should let brotherly love continue tells us that this kind of love already exists. Our challenge today and each day is not to discover love for one another, but to allow it to continue and to increase.


Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to help you rekindle the love that used to be strong for a Christian friend, but perhaps isn’t now.


For Further Study

Read 1 Samuel 18—20.

  • What was so special about the love and friendship between David and Jonathan?
  • What was the end result of that relationship (see especially 20:8-17)?



The Slavery That Frees


“In [Christ] we have redemption” (Eph. 1:7).


Slavery to sin is bondage; slavery to God is freedom.


Freedom is a precious thing. People throughout history have prayed, fought, and even died for it. Our Declaration of Independence upholds it as one of our inalienable rights.

But the truth is, no matter what one’s political situation might be, everyone is a slave—either to sin or to God. 


Jesus said that “everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (John 8:34). Paul added that all of creation is in slavery to corruption (Rom. 8:21). However, believers have “been freed from sin and enslaved to God” (Rom. 6:22).


The Roman Empire had as many as twenty million slaves; slave trade was a major industry. For a slave to gain his or her freedom, a redemption price had to be paid. The Greek word for such a transaction is lutroō, which Paul uses in Ephesians 1:7 to speak of our “redemption” from sin’s bondage.

Slavery to sin is bondage; slavery to God is freedom. That sounds paradoxical, but God is the Sovereign King, and true freedom means having the ability to bend your will to His and thereby become all He created you to be. Even though you will fail at times, your greatest desire and highest pursuit as a believer is to be like Christ (1 John 2:5-6). 


Those enslaved to sin cannot do that, nor do they want to.

Today you will have many opportunities to demonstrate your submission to Christ. Let your attitudes and actions speak clearly of your love for the Master.


Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord that He is a faithful and just Master who always does what is best for His servants. A self-seeking slave is a contradiction in terms. Ask the Lord to guard you from thoughts and actions that are contrary to His will.


For Further Study

According to 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 what key characteristic is required of a servant of Christ? Read Matthew 24:42-51. How does Jesus describe a wise servant? Read Philippians 2:5-11. How did Jesus demonstrate the heart of a servant? What implications does His example have for your life?



Fasting as Part of Preparation for Testing


“After He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry” (Matthew 4:2).


For a quite lengthy period prior to the three diabolical temptations directed at Jesus, He fasted. We don’t know exactly what He did during the forty-day period, but He likely spent most of the time communing with His heavenly Father.


Even in His perfect humanity, Jesus needed solitary preparation time in medi-tation and prayer, as we all do in anticipating a major testing. Consider how Moses spent forty years in Midian in preparation for his leadership of Israel out of Egypt to the Promised Land, or that the apostle Paul lived three years in the desert of Arabia before launching his extensive ministries.


Matthew reports, with much simplicity and directness, that at the end of the period of fasting, Jesus “became hungry.” Hunger weakens us physically and somehow leaves us more vulnerable to spiritual attack, which is precisely why Satan often assails us at such times. But temptations that we have anticipated and prayed about have little power to harm us, if we constantly rely on the Lord. 


Jesus, though spending more than a month in fasting, is a tremendous example to us of remaining alert to spiritual danger, which He did as Satan approached. During the temptations, He did not yield on the slightest point.


Ask Yourself

What other feelings and conditions—like hunger—serve as ready-made points of entry for spiritual temptation? Knowing this, how can you better “keep watching and praying” that you not fall into sin (Mark 14:38)? Pray for the courage to live with such keen awareness.



Reading for Today:


Notes:

Genesis 21:1 the LORD visited Sarah. To the aged couple (vv. 2, 5, 7), exactly as promised, a son was born and the 25-year suspense was finally over with the laughter of derision turning to rejoicing (v. 6). The barrenness of Sarah (11:26) had ended.


Genesis 21:10 Cast out…not be heir. Legal codes of Abraham’s day—e.g., of Nuzi and of Hammurabi—forbade the putting out of a handmaiden’s son if a rightful, natural heir was born. Sarah’s request, thus, offended social law, Abraham’s sensibilities, and his love for Ishmael (v. 11). Abraham, however, was given divine approval and assurances to overcome his scruples before sending Hagar and Ishmael out into the wilderness (vv. 12–15).


Matthew 8:21 let me first go and bury my father. This does not mean that the man’s father was already dead. The phrase “I must bury my father” was a common figure of speech, meaning “Let me wait until I receive my inheritance.”


Matthew 8:24 suddenly a great tempest arose. The Sea of Galilee is more than 690 feet below sea level. To the north, Mt. Hermon rises 9,200 feet, and from May to October strong winds often sweep through the narrow surrounding gorges into this valley, causing extremely sudden and violent storms. He was asleep. Just before the disciples saw one of the most awesome displays of His deity, they were given a touching picture of His humanity. He was so weary that not even the violent tossing of the boat awakened Him—even though the disciples feared they would drown (v. 25).


What does it mean to be demon-possessed?

Matthew 8:16 and 8:28 refer to individuals who were demon-possessed. This means “demonized,” or under the internal control of a demon. All of the cases of demonization dealt with by Christ involved the actual indwelling of demons who utterly controlled the bodies of their victims, even to the point of speaking through them (Mark 5:5–9), causing derangement (John 10:20), violence (Luke 8:29), or rendering them mute (Mark 9:17–22).


From Matthew 8:29, it is evident that even the demons not only recognized the deity of Jesus, but also knew there was a divinely appointed time for their judgment and He would be their judge. Their eschatology was factually correct, but it is one thing to know the truth and quite another thing to love it (see James 2:19). Luke 8:31 relates they pleaded not to be sent into the abyss, meaning the pit, the underworld, the prison of bound demons who disobeyed (2 Pet. 2:4Jude 6). 


They knew Jesus had the power and authority to send them there if He desired.


Deliverance from demons and healing were a fulfillment of the words spoken by Isaiah the prophet concerning the atonement (Is. 53:45). Christ bore both the guilt and the curse of sin (see Gal. 3:13). Both physical healing and ultimate victory over death are guaranteed by Christ’s atoning work, but these will not be fully realized until the very end (1 Cor. 15:26).


LORD BLESS HIS ELECT

My Royal Family


LOVINGLY IN THE LOVE OF OUR LORD JESUS

E+1DAY


MAXIMILIANO




01/11/20

“When is the Rapture going to occur in relation to the Tribulation?"


Answer: The timing of the rapture in relation to the tribulation is one of the most controversial issues in the church today. The three primary views are pre-tribulational (the rapture occurs before the tribulation), mid-tribulational (the rapture occurs at or near the mid-point of the tribulation), and post-tribulational (the rapture occurs at the end of the tribulation). A fourth view, commonly known as pre-wrath, is a slight modification of the mid-tribulational position.


First, it is important to recognize the purpose of the tribulation. According to Daniel 9:27, there is a seventieth "seven" (seven years) that is still yet to come. Daniel's entire prophecy of the seventy sevens (Daniel 9:20-27) is speaking of the nation of Israel. It is a time period in which God focuses His attention especially on Israel. The seventieth seven, the tribulation, must also be a time when God deals specifically with Israel. While this does not necessarily indicate that the church could not also be present, it does bring into question why the church would need to be on the earth during that time.


The primary Scripture passage on the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. It states that all living believers, along with all believers who have died, will meet the Lord Jesus in the air and will be with Him forever. The rapture is God's removing of His people from the earth. A few verses later, in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, Paul says, "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." The book of Revelation, which deals primarily with the time period of the tribulation, is a prophetic message of how God will pour out His wrath upon the earth during the tribulation. It seems inconsistent for God to promise believers that they will not suffer wrath and then leave them on the earth to suffer through the wrath of the tribulation. The fact that God promises to deliver Christians from wrath shortly after promising to remove His people from the earth seems to link those two events together.


Another crucial passage on the timing of the rapture is Revelation 3:10, in which Christ promises to deliver believers from the "hour of trial" that is going to come upon the earth. This could mean two things. Either Christ will protect believers in the midst of the trials, or He will deliver believers out of the trials. Both are valid meanings of the Greek word translated "from." However, it is important to recognize what believers are promised to be kept from. It is not just the trial, but the "hour" of trial. Christ is promising to keep believers from the very time period that contains the trials, namely the tribulation. The purpose of the tribulation, the purpose of the rapture, the meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:9, and the interpretation of Revelation 3:10 all give clear support to the pre-tribulational position. If the Bible is interpreted literally and consistently, the pre-tribulational position is the most biblically-based interpretation.



01/10/20


Question: "How can I be ready to be caught up in the rapture?"


(Note: The Tribulation is a time of judgment on earth, our Lord Jesus will Rapture the saved, we will study the events that will happen)


Answer: The rapture is coming, and we should all make sure we are ready for it. Being ready for the rapture is much simpler than you may think. In short, you must receive Jesus Christ as your Savior. The rapture is for believers.


Here is a clear prophecy of the rapture of the church: “According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 


For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 


After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:15–18). 


Note that Paul is writing to believers concerning those who are “in Christ” and thus have the promise of resurrection. Those who are saved are ready for the rapture.


The unsaved are not ready for the rapture. In fact, that day of the Lord (which begins with the rapture) will come upon the unsaved “like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). Those who are left behind in the rapture will be those who do not have the Spirit of Christ dwelling within them. 


Believers are ready: “You, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief” (1 Thessalonians 5:4).


The children of God are ready for the rapture because of their faith. They are the five wise virgins in Jesus’ parable who have their lamps trimmed and burning and full of oil—a picture of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 25:1–13). 


Unfortunately, faith will be lacking in most of the people on earth; the time before Jesus’ coming will be characterized by spiritual coldness and unbelief. Jesus spoke of His return and asked, rhetorically, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).


Are you ready for the rapture? Jesus knows His own, and He will come for them (John 10:14; 14:1–3). The only way you will be left behind in the rapture is if you have not received Christ as your Savior. 


If you are not saved, then today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Do not delay another moment. Trust Christ now.



01/09/20

“What is the rapture of the church?"


The word rapture does not occur in the Bible. The term comes from a Latin word meaning “a carrying off, a transport, or a snatching away.” The concept of the “carrying off” or the rapture of the church is clearly taught in Scripture.


The rapture of the church is the event in which God “snatches away” all believers from the earth in order to make way for His righteous judgment to be poured out on the earth during the tribulation period. The rapture is described primarily in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50–54. God will resurrect all believers who have died, give them glorified bodies, and take them from the earth, along with all living believers, who will also be given glorified bodies at that time. “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17).


The rapture will involve an instantaneous transformation of our bodies to fit us for eternity. “We know that when he [Christ] appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). The rapture is to be distinguished from the second coming. At the rapture, the Lord comes “in the clouds” to meet us “in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). At the second coming, the Lord descends all the way to the earth to stand on the Mount of Olives, resulting in a great earthquake followed by a defeat of God’s enemies (Zechariah 14:3–4).


The doctrine of the rapture was not taught in the Old Testament, which is why Paul calls it a “mystery” now revealed: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52).


The rapture of the church is a glorious event we should all be longing for. We will finally be free from sin. We will be in God’s presence forever. There is far too much debate over the meaning and scope of the rapture. This is not God’s intent. Rather, the rapture should be a comforting doctrine full of hope; God wants us to “encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).




01/08/20

“Can the return of Christ truly be said to be imminent?"


Answer: The word imminent means “likely to happen at any moment; impending.” When we speak of the imminence of Christ’s return, we mean that He could come back at any moment. There is nothing more in biblical prophecy that needs to happen before Jesus comes again. The imminence of Christ’s return is generally taught among evangelicals, with some disagreement according to one’s view of dispensationalism and whether one holds a pre-, mid-, or post-tribulational view of the rapture.


Jesus spoke of His return repeatedly during His ministry, which naturally prompted questions from His disciples. One of their questions was, “When will these things happen?” (Mark 13:4). Jesus responded, “Of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come” (verses 32-33). It is important to remember in any discussion of eschatology that God does not intend for us to fully understand the timing of His plans.


However, the Bible says that Jesus’ return is near, and we are to wait eagerly for it (Romans 8:19-25; 1 Corinthians 1:7; Philippians 4:5; Jude 21). James encourages us to “be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near” (James 5:8). Revelation 1:3 and 22:10 also say that “the time is near.”


Jesus taught His disciples to watch for His return. “You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Luke 12:40). The command to “be ready” implies imminence. Throughout the New Testament, the church is told to be ready (Philippians 3:20; Titus 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:6). If the disciples and the early church were to expect the coming of the Lord at any time, how much more should we be waiting in keen expectation?


At this point, it is good to distinguish between the second coming of Christ, proper, and the rapture of the church. The second coming of Christ, when He defeats His enemies and sets up His kingdom, will not occur until after certain other end-times events take place, including the tribulation (Matthew 24:15-30; Revelation chapters 6–18). Therefore, the second coming is not imminent. However, according to the pre-tribulational view, the rapture will take place before the tribulation. The rapture could occur at any moment (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54) and can rightly be called “imminent.”


Our salvation is “ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). Jesus could return for His own at any moment, and that event will set in motion the series of events detailed in Revelation 6-18. Like the five wise virgins in Jesus’ parable (Matthew 25:1-13), we must be ready. “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13).



01/07/20


The Lord shall soon, and very soon indeed come again in the clouds for His own blood bought peoples... 


Only be sure to know... that just as in Noah's day there was a time appointed... 


And that "Great Door" upon the Ark should be closed and the time was fleeting even then... 


So today the time draws near and ever closer, and in these lasts days very close indeed... 


And just as then..there must soon needs be that this time, this age of grace, this epoch/age/this dispensation of time shall pass... 


And just as in Noah's day they were placed with in the Ark of their salvation and lifted high above the wrath of God that would fall upon the scoffers... 


So shall those that are found to be saved in Christ Jesus be taken for a season high above the wrath of God that shall fall upon this dark and evil world "the great tribulation period/ also called the time of Jacobs trouble". 


For the Lord just before that day of judgement falls shall come and gather up His saved, born again peoples, and very shortly now it would appear... for the time is fleeting now even as it was then... even so come Lord Jesus...


WILL CONTINÚE WITH THE FOLLOWING THEMES


“Can the return of Christ truly be said to be imminent?"


“What is the rapture of the church?"


“How can I be ready to be caught up in the rapture?"


"When is the Rapture going to occur in relation to the Tribulation?"


"How can I be sure I won't be left behind in the rapture?"


"Will there be a second chance for salvation after the rapture?"


“Will there be a partial rapture?"


“Who will occupy the Millennial Kingdom?"


"What is the mark of the beast?"


“Is it possible for a person to get the mark of the beast today?"





01/06/20


Approaching Life from a Divine Perspective


“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).

To mature in our faith, we must learn to see things from God’s perspective.

Paul was a prisoner of Rome. Why then did he call himself “the prisoner of the Lord”? Because he had the ability to see everything in terms of how it affected Christ. No matter what happened in his life, he saw it in relation to God. His questions were, “What does this mean, God?” and “How does this affect You?”

When a problem comes in life, we are prone to say, “Oh, woe is me!” and wonder how it will affect us: Will it cause me pain? Will it cost me money? Too often we think only on the earthly level. But like Paul, we should think on a heavenly level: What is God trying to teach me? How can I glorify Him in this? In fact, a good definition of Christian maturity is: automatically seeing things in light of the divine perspective.

This perspective, this God-consciousness, is the only right way for Christians to live. David said, “I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely” (Ps. 16:8-9). Because David was always aware of God’s presence, he found joy and security, and no trouble could disturb him for long.

Paul was the same way: he knew there was a reason for his imprisonment and that Christ would be glorified by it (cf. Phil. 1:12-14). Paul wasn’t preoccupied with how it affected him, and thus he was able to rejoice, even in prison.

“God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Nothing happens outside of God’s control. Let’s trust that He knows what is best for us.

Suggestions for Prayer

If you tend to get discouraged or complain when troubles come, ask God to forgive you and help you see troubles from His perspective. Acknowledge before Him that He is in control of everything.

For Further Study

Paul’s attitude toward difficulties was cultivated by the experience he describes in 2 Corinthians 12:2-10. What did Christ teach him about troubles in verse 9, and how did that change Paul’s outlook?


Cultivating a Heavenly Perspective


“God...has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3, emphasis added).

Christians hold a dual citizenship. We are citizens of earth, but, more importantly, we are also citizens of Heaven.

It's been said that some Christians are so heavenly minded, they're no earthly good. But usually the opposite is true. Many Christians are so enamored with this present world that they no longer look forward to heaven. They have everything they want right here. The health, wealth, and prosperity doctrine has convinced them that Christians can have it all, and they pursue “the good life” with a vengeance.

Despite the prevalence of such thinking, the old Negro spiritual well says, “This world is not my home. I'm just a passin' through.”

Paul reminds us of that truth in Philippians 3:20: “Our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” That's why we must set our minds on heavenly, not on earthly things (Col. 3:1- 2). Our deepest affections and highest aspirations should center there. Our actions and decisions should reflect heavenly priorities, not earthly indulgences.

Even though we live in a sin-stained world and must constantly fight against its corrupting influences, God hasn't left us stranded. He extends to us all the rights and privileges of our heavenly citizenship. Let that assurance encourage you today to live to His glory and rely on His heavenly provisions. Take care not to let impure aspirations or trivial pursuits distract you from your heavenly priorities.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Tell Jesus how thankful and full of praise you are because of the place He is preparing for you in heaven (John 14:1-3).
  • Pray for a greater awareness of the fleeting value of this world and the surpassing value of the world to come (1 John 2:17).

For Further Study

Read Revelation 4-5, 21.

  • What primary activity are the inhabitants of heaven engaged in?
  • List some of heaven's blessings.



January 6 - True Baptism—Christ Immersed


“After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water” (Matthew 3:16).

Christians, especially new believers, sometimes wonder what mode of baptism Jesus underwent, and therefore wonder which is correct for them to experience. Since genuine baptism represents cleansing from sin and symbolizes the believer’s identification with Christ’s death and resurrection, the ordinance must involve immersion, not merely sprinkling or pouring.

The Greek word (baptizo) literally means to dip or submerge an object into water or another liquid. Confusion regarding the word’s meaning resulted largely because Latin and more modern-language translations of Scripture simply transliterated many occurrences of the Greek word.

Until the Middle Ages, the Christian church knew and officially practiced no form of baptism but immersion. Then the Roman Catholic Church formally introduced and sanctioned baptism by sprinkling or pouring. Prior to that, even the great Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas wrote, “In immersion the setting forth of the burial of Christ is more plainly expressed, in which this manner of baptizing is more commendable.”

That Jesus “came up immediately from the water” indicates He had been completely in the water—in other words, almost surely immersed. John baptized people in the Jordan River (Matt. 3:6) and at other places where “there was much water” (John 3:23). That would not make sense if he had baptized only by pouring or sprinkling (cf. Acts 8:38–39). Unlike immersion, those other modes just do not fully symbolize dying to sin and being raised to new life.

Ask Yourself

Baptism is a one-time exercise in obedience, but the reality of being crucified with Christ and raised to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4) is an ongoing experience. How do you remind yourself of this on your average day? Pray that the gift of God’s grace never loses its wonder.



Reading for Today:

Notes:

Genesis 9:6 For in the image of God. The reason man could kill animals, but neither animals nor man could kill man, is because man alone was created in God’s image.

Genesis 9:16 the everlasting covenant. This covenant with Noah is the first of 5 divinely originated covenants that are described as “everlasting.” The term “everlasting” can mean either 1) to the end of time and/or 2) through eternity future. It does not include eternity past. The other four such covenants include the following: 1) Abrahamic (Gen. 17:7); 2) Priestly (Num. 25:10–13); 3) Davidic (2 Sam. 23:5); and 4) New (Jer. 32:40).

Matthew 5:3 Blessed. The word literally means “happy, fortunate, blissful. ”Here it speaks of more than a surface emotion. Jesus was describing the divinely bestowed well-being that belongs only to the faithful. The Beatitudes demonstrate that the way to heavenly blessedness is antithetical to the worldly path normally followed in pursuit of happiness. The worldly idea is that happiness is found in riches, merriment, abundance, leisure, and such things. The real truth is the very opposite. The Beatitudes give Jesus’ description of the character of true faith. poor in spirit. The opposite of self-sufficiency. This speaks of deep humility of recognizing one’s utter spiritual bankruptcy apart from God. It describes those who are acutely conscious of their own lostness and hopelessness apart from divine grace (9:12; Luke 18:13). theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Notice that the truth of salvation by grace is clearly presupposed in this opening verse of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was teaching that the kingdom is a gracious gift to those who sense their own poverty of spirit.


Day 5: Why did Jesus preach the Sermon on the Mount?

Matthew records five important discourses: the Sermon on the Mount (chaps. 5–7); the commissioning of the apostles (chap. 10); the parables about the kingdom of heaven (chap. 13); a discourse about the childlikeness of the believer (chap. 18); and the discourse on His second coming (chaps. 24; 25). Each discourse ends with a variation of this phrase: “when Jesus had ended these sayings.” That becomes a motif signaling a new narrative portion.

The Sermon on the Mount is a masterful exposition of the law and a potent assault on Pharisaic legalism, closing with a call to true faith and salvation (7:13–29).Matthew is keen to show the error of the Pharisees for the benefit of his Jewish audience—not for personal or self-aggrandizing reasons. Christ expounded the full meaning of the law, showing that its demands were humanly impossible (see 5:48). This is the proper use of the law with respect to salvation: It closes off every possible avenue of human merit and leaves sinners dependent on nothing but divine grace for salvation (see Rom. 3:1920Gal. 3:2324). Christ plumbed the depth of the law, showing that its true demands went far beyond the surface meaning of the words (5:28, 39, 44) and set a standard that is higher than the most diligent students of the law had heretofore realized.


The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace." 


MAXIMILIANO  





01/05/20


Guarding Against Sin


“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).


Knowing and obeying God’s Word helps us walk worthy by protecting us from sin.


While we are discussing the importance of knowing right doctrine before right duty, let’s see one way knowing the Bible helps us to walk worthy: it protects us from sin. From time to time you might hear people who have a fatalistic attitude toward sin saying, “I couldn’t help myself” or “The Devil made me do it.” Such excuses are foolish for Christians to make since God has given us the means to resist temptation.


The psalmist said, “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee” (Ps. 119:11). Without knowledge, we are defenseless and vulnerable. Knowing God’s truth—by study and by application—enables us to say no to sin and yes to righteousness. Anyone who puts his faith in Jesus Christ but who does not keep God’s Word constantly at the forefront of his mind will find himself entrapped in sin again and again.


Although we must know God’s Word to defend ourselves against sin and to obey God’s will, there is a danger. Once we know His truth, we are held accountable for what we know.

Second Peter 2:21 speaks of apostates, those who knew about Jesus Christ but returned to their former life without ever committing themselves to Him: “It would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them.” James 4:17 says, “To one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin."


So not knowing is better than knowing and not obeying. What’s best, of course, is knowing the Word and obeying it, because it is our spiritual nourishment: “Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). For a Christian, neglecting the Word is spiritual starvation.


Suggestions for Prayer

Ask forgiveness for times you have known the right thing to do but have not done it.


For Further Study

  • Read about a young man who gave in to temptation in Proverbs 7. Contrast him with Joseph in Genesis 39. What was the difference between them?
  • Think about how Psalm 119:9 relates to them, and to you.



Understand Your Spiritual Resources


“God...has blessed us with every spiritual blessing” (Eph. 1:3, emphasis added).

As a Christian, you possess every spiritual resource you need to fulfill God’s will for your life.


The story is told of a wealthy London businessman who searched many years for his runaway son. One afternoon he was preparing to board a train to London when he spotted a man in ragged, dirty clothing begging money from passengers along the station platform. His first impulse was to avoid the beggar but there was something strangely familiar about him.


When the beggar approached and asked if he could spare a few shillings, the businessman realized he had found his long-lost son. With tears in his eyes and joy in his voice he embraced his son, crying, “A few shillings? You are my son—everything I have is yours!”


That pictures many Christians who are ignorant or negligent of their spiritual resources. They are children of the King, yet live like spiritual paupers.

Paul repeatedly emphasized our sufficiency as believers. In Colossians 2:10 he declares that in Christ “you have been made complete.” In Philippians 4:13 and 19 he says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” and “my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Peter added that God's “divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3).


The word translated “spiritual” in Ephesians 1:3 speaks of the work of the Holy Spirit. Every blessing you receive, whether material or immaterial, has God as its source.

As a Christian, you possess every spiritual resource you need to fulfill God's will for your life. You needn't pray for more love, for example, because His love is already poured out in your heart through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). 


The same is true of joy (John 15:11), peace (John 14:27), strength (Phil. 4:13)—and every other resource you need. The key to spiritual progress and victory is learning to apply what you already have, not seeking more.


Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God for His abundant spiritual resources.
  • Ask Him to help you apply them with wisdom and consistency.


For Further Study

Read Matthew 6:25-34 and Philippians 4:6-8.

  • What specific promises does God make in those passages?
  • What does He require of you?



Symbols from Jesus' Baptism


“Jesus answering said to him, ‘Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness’” (Matthew 3:15).


The most important symbol Jesus’ baptism gives us is a perfect example of obedience to God the Father. Our Lord always modeled obedience in all things (e.g., Phil. 2:6–8; cf. Matt. 17:25–27). In submitting to baptism, Jesus affirmed the validity of John’s standard of righteousness and demonstrated that baptism was God’s will to which every believer should be obedient.


Furthermore, Jesus’ baptism is a profound, symbolic identification with sinful humanity. Hundreds of years earlier the prophet Isaiah stated that the Messiah “was numbered with the transgressors; yet He himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors” (Isa. 53:12). The sinless One took His place among sinners, and that in part entailed submitting Himself to a sinner’s baptism.


Finally, Jesus’ baptism is a symbol of His death and resurrection, and therefore a prefigurement of our Christian baptism. Concerning His death, Jesus later said, “I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!” (Luke 12:50). In pointing to His obedient identification with sinners (cf. Isa. 53:112 Cor. 5:21) and His subsequent atoning death and bodily resurrection, the key symbols stemming from Jesus’ baptism remind believers of their need to faithfully obey and be baptized.


Ask Yourself

He became one of us, identifying with our sin. Marvel again at the amazement and immensity of this truth. What grace! What humility! What kind of worship should flow from this reality? Worship Him today as the One who was not ashamed to take your place, who stooped down so that you could stand.


Reading for Today:


Notes:

Genesis 7:11 all the fountains of the great deep were broken up. The subterranean waters sprang up from deep fountains inside the earth to form the seas and rivers (1:10; 2:10–14), which were not produced by rainfall, since it never rained before the Flood. the windows of heaven. The celestial waters in the canopy encircling the globe were dumped on the earth and joined with the terrestrial and the subterranean waters (see 1:7). The Flood ended the water canopy surrounding the earth and unleashed the water in the earth. Thus began the earth’s cycle of hydrology, with rain and evaporation (see Job 26:8Eccl. 1:7Is. 55:10Amos 9:6).


Proverbs 1:22 How long. Three classes of people need wisdom: 1) the simple, who are ignorant; 2) scorners or mockers, who commit more serious, determined acts; and 3) fools or obstinate unbelievers, who will not listen to the truth. Proverbs directs its wisdom primarily at the first group.

Matthew 4:4 It is written. 


All 3 of Jesus’ replies to the devil were taken from Deuteronomy. This one, from Deuteronomy 8:3, states that God allowed Israel to hunger, so that He might feed them with manna and teach them to trust Him to provide for them. So the verse is directly applicable to Jesus’ circumstances and a fitting reply to Satan’s temptation. every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. A more important source of sustenance than food, it nurtures our spiritual needs in a way that benefits us eternally, rather than merely providing temporal relief from physical hunger.


How significant is the Flood in the overall biblical history? 

The Bible treats the Flood as a worldwide event directly brought by God as a judgment on the sin of humanity. The flood hangs like a warning cloud over all subsequent history. Fortunately, that cloud also holds a rainbow of God’s promised grace.


Conditions in Noah’s day were ripe for judgment.“ Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). This verse provides one of the strongest and clearest statements about man’s sinful nature. Many other verses make it clear that God had every reason for radical action: Jeremiah 17:910Matthew 12:343515:1819Mark 7:21Luke 6:45. Other notable Scriptures on the worldwide flood brought by God include Job 12:1522:16Psalms 29:10104:6–9Isaiah 54:9Matthew 24:37–39Luke 17:2627Hebrews 11:71 Peter 3:202 Peter 2:53:56.


The Flood illustrates several important aspects of God’s character and God’s relationship with His creation: 1) God retains ultimate control of world events; 2) God can and will judge sin; 3) God can and does exercise grace even in judgment; 4) An even more universal and final judgment will be carried out on the world based on God’s timetable.


The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace." 


MAXIMILIANO 




01/04/20


Becoming What You Are


“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1). 


The Christian life is simply becoming   

what Christ has already made you.

Suppose immediately after you were saved, the Lord stamped your forehead with the words, “Watch me. I’m a child of God.” How would that affect your lifestyle?


We may not have a physical mark like that, but we do bear the name of Christ in this world. When we first put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, we became part of His family (Gal. 4:1-7). He “freely bestowed” His grace on us (Eph. 1:6). He “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (1:3). And we have a rich, glorious inheritance in heaven (1:18). 


As God’s children, we indeed have many rights, honors, and privileges, but He expects us to behave like His children. Just as a child honors his father by obeying him, we honor God by walking worthy of Him. Our actions must be actions He would approve. Our desires must be His desires. Our goals and objectives must be His goals and objectives.


One of my seminary professors once told me that the whole Christian life is simply becoming what you are. Because you are a child of God, you need to act like a child of God. In fact, the root of the Greek word translated “worthy” in Ephesians 4:1 speaks of equalization and balance. There ought to be perfect harmony between who you are and how you live. We lapse in our commitment to Christ when we fail to live that way.


Remember, though, that our obedience to God must not be a conformity to rules and regulations out of fear or legalistic pride. It is instead a conformity to righteousness out of gratitude and a deep love for Christ. Our desire to be worthy children is a result of understanding and appreciating all He has done for us. 

Philippians 1:27 says, “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” In other words, match your conduct to the gospel. The exalted reality of the gospel demands an exalted lifestyle.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to help you act like His child.


For Further Study

Read 1 John 2:6. Christ is our supreme example of the worthy walk. 

  • Find examples in the Gospels where He demonstrates His commitment to the Father.
  • How can you follow His example today?

    Experiencing God's Peace


“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:2).


True peace is God’s gift to those who love and obey Him.


Throughout history mankind has sought peace through military alliances, balances of power, and leagues of nations. Yet lasting peace still remains an elusive dream. Even during times of relative peace, nations struggle with internal strife and crime.

The Bible says that man on his own cannot know peace because he is alienated from its source. But we need not despair. True peace is immediately available from God our Father (the God of peace—Rom. 15:33), and the Lord Jesus Christ (the Prince of Peace—Isa. 9:6). 

MIt's a gift of God's grace to those who love and obey Jesus Christ.

The New Testament so clearly teaches the inextricable link between God's grace and peace that “Grace to you and peace” became a common greeting in the early church. Grace is God's great kindness toward those who are undeserving of His favor but who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. It is the fountain and peace is the stream. 


As recipients of His grace, we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1)—we are reconciled to Him through faith in His Son and we will never experience His wrath. We also have the peace of God (Phil. 4:7)—the Spirit's way of assuring us that God is in control even in the midst of difficult circumstances. That's why Paul calls it the peace that surpasses all comprehension (Phil. 4:7).


The world's peace is relative and fleeting because it is grounded in circumstances. God's peace is absolute and eternal because it is grounded in His grace. Does God's peace reign in your heart, or have you allowed sin or difficult circumstances to diminish your devotion to Christ?


Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God that you have peace with Him through faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Ask the Spirit to reveal any sin that might be hindering God's peace from ruling in your heart. Be prepared to respond in confession and repentance.
  • Ask for opportunities to demonstrate God's peace to others today.


For Further Study

Read Philippians 4:6-7.

  • What is God's antidote for anxiety?
  • How does God's peace affect a believer's heart and mind?



Jesus’ Purposeful Baptism

Is 

“Then Jesus arrived . . . coming to John, to be baptized by him” (Matthew 3:13).

In the original text of this passage, the wording “to be baptized” emphasizes purpose in this momentous appearance by the Lord Jesus. But it was extremely difficult for John the Baptist to understand why the God-Man would need to be baptized.

John’s baptism was for the confession of sin and repentance (3:2, 6, 11), but Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29) had no need for such a baptism. It is hard to see why One who would take away sin would need to submit Himself to a ceremony that symbolizes death to sin and rising to spiritual life.

Because John knew so well that Jesus was the sinless Messiah, come to fulfill God’s redemptive purpose, he “tried to prevent Him” (Matt. 3:14). The Greek pronouns in John’s statement “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” are all in the emphatic position, underscoring his strong bewilderment over the situation. This was not a direct refusal, as Peter might have given (cf. Matt. 16:22), but the Baptist no doubt misunderstood Jesus’ request, thinking He could not possibly intend to undergo baptism.

All sinners need the repentance that baptism symbolizes, but many, such as the Jewish teachers and leaders of Jesus’ day, do not seek true repentance. Jesus, on the other hand, purposed to receive John’s baptism to show His complete obedience to God’s will.

Ask Yourself

The same Jesus who walked with such resolve and determination throughout His own earthly life has a distinct and daily purpose for yours. What pieces of this plan are becoming clearer to you? Pray that He will continue to reveal . . . and that you will continue to follow.



Reading for Today:

Notes:

Genesis 3:15 bruise your head…bruise His heel. This is the first messianic prophecy, foretelling the coming of Jesus Christ. Ever since the Fall, Satan’s “seed” (Satan and unbelievers, who are called the devil’s children in John 8:44) has struggled against the woman’s seed (Christ, a descendant of Eve, and His children). In the midst of this curse passage, God gives a message of hope—”He” is Christ, who will one day defeat Satan completely. Satan could only “bruise” Christ’s heel (cause Him to suffer), while Christ will bruise Satan’s head (destroy him with a fatal blow).

Genesis 4:4,5 Abel’s offering was acceptable (see Heb. 11:4), because it was in every way obediently given according to what God must have revealed, though the revelation is not recorded in Genesis. Abel’s offering was an animal, it was the very best of what he had, and it was the culmination of a zealous heart for God. Cain, however, disdained the divine instruction and just brought what he wanted to bring: some of his crop.

Matthew 2:1 in the days of Herod the king. Herod the Great was the first in a dynasty of rulers and is thought to be a descendant of Esau. A ruthless and cunning ruler, he saw the beginning of the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple under his reign. wise men from the East. The number of men is not given, though the 3 gifts can be seen to represent one man each. These men were Magi—magicians and astrologers—not kings.


DAY 2: What do Christians mean when they talk about the Fall?

The Fall refers to that moment in time when human beings first disobeyed God. Genesis 3 tells the painful episode. What Eve set in motion, Adam confirmed and completed by joining her. They sinned together. The willful decision of Adam and Eve created a state of rebellion between the creation and her Creator.

The expression “the Fall” comes from the Bible itself. The apostle Paul uses the word in summarizing the human condition in Romans 3:23,“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It carries with it the sense of defeat and destruction. Great cities fell. So did people. But another fall preceded all these—the fall of the angel Lucifer, who became known as Satan (Is. 14:12–15). In the Fall, our first ancestors declared us on Satan’s side.

The Bible makes it clear that the Fall brought sin into every subsequent person’s life: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Our capacity for sin is inborn. We are sinners before we have the opportunity to sin. Not only are we sinners because we sin; we first sin because we are sinners. Why? Because we have all inherited the effects of Adam’s fall.


Greetings

In the Love of our Lord

In the Grip


MAXIMILIANO 





01/03/19


Blessing the God of Blessings


“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us” (Eph. 1:3).


When we bless God, it is with words of praise; when He blesses us, it is with deeds of kindness.


Paul's brief doxology identifies God the Father as the ultimate recipient and source of blessing—the One to whom blessing is ascribed and the One who bestows blessings on those who love Him.


“Blessed” translates the Greek word eulogeō, from which we get eulogy. To bless or eulogize God is to praise Him for His mighty works and holy character.


That should be the response of your heart just as it has been the response of believers throughout the ages. The psalmist said “Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer” (Ps. 66:20); and “blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone works wonders” (Ps. 72:18). Peter said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3).


When the situation is reversed and God blesses us, it isn't with praise, for apart from Him there is nothing praiseworthy about us. Instead, He gives us undeserved benefits through His many deeds of kindness. Scripture identifies Him as the source of every good thing (James 1:17), who works all things together for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28).


That is but a sampling of the many blessings He lavishes on us in His Son, Christ Jesus. It's a marvelous cycle: God blesses us with deeds of kindness; we bless Him with words of praise.


Beware of the sin of thanklessness. Recognize God's blessings in your life and let them fill your heart and lips


Suggestions for Prayer

  • Identify ten specific blessings that God has granted to you in recent days and praise Him for each one.
  • Ask Him to make you more aware of and thankful for His goodness in your life.
  • Always be ready to seek forgiveness when you take His blessings for granted.


For Further Study

Read Psalm 103.

  • What blessings does David mention?
  • How do they apply to your life?



From Doctrine to Duty


“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).


There can be no right living without right principles.


Imagine someone saying, “I have some extra money lying around. I think I’ll send a large check to the government.” Absurd, isn’t it? But every year, honest wage-earners fill out forms and give part of their income to the government. Why? It’s not because they are generous but because there is a law— a doctrine—that says they have to.


Unless people know the reason for what they should do, it’s unlikely they’ll make a commitment to do it. Paul understood that, so he always taught doctrine before duty. 


“Therefore” in Ephesians 4:1 links the doctrine of chapters 1—3 to the duty of chapters 4—6. Doctrine and duty are inseparably linked; duty always flows out of doctrine. Right living is based on right principles. Paul told the Colossian church, “We have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (1:9). For what purpose? “So that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (v. 10). Spiritual knowledge, wisdom, and understanding make up the pathway of a worthy walk.


When pastors teach duty without teaching doctrine, they weaken the Word of God because they’ve eliminated the motive. They may be able to stir up emotions, but that brings no long-term commitment. The pastor’s responsibility is to teach the truth of God, and the hearer’s responsibility is to obey it. 


Of course, the source of God’s truth is His Word: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Knowing the Bible well is our means of equipping ourselves for a righteous life.


As we think about our worthy walk, let’s avoid emotionalism and legalism, and instead focus on living what we learn from a thorough and personal study of God’s Word.


Suggestions for Prayer

If you have neglected studying the Bible, confess that to God, and ask Him to give you a greater desire to learn His Word.


For Further Study

Read Ephesians 1—3 and list all we are or have in Christ. Knowing what God has given you, can you do any less than commit yourself to Him completely?



Testimony to Jesus' Sinlessness


“John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?’” (Matthew 3:14).


John the Baptist’s initial reluctance to baptize Jesus is a testimony to Jesus’ sinlessness—and John’s awareness of his own sinfulness.


In effect, John said to Jesus, “I’m a sinner, just like everyone else I baptize, so why should You, the sinless Son of God, want me to baptize You?” In an indirect yet definite fashion, John agreed with the later description of Christ by the writer of Hebrews, “One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (4:15).


Jesus Himself testified to His perfect righteousness and His reason for wanting to be baptized, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15). Jesus’ words did not deny His superiority to John the Baptist or His sinlessness. “Permit it at this time” is an idiomatic expression meaning that Christ’s baptism, though seemingly not appropriate or necessary, was actually appropriate for this special time.


The Lord understood John’s strong hesitation, and knew it came from deep spiritual commitment and sincerity. Thus He gave John divine permission to do what he was otherwise reluctant to do, so he could perfectly fulfill the Father’s plan.


Ask Yourself

How do you think you would have reacted to Jesus’ request for baptism? How do you react today when you’re in His presence, in awe of His holiness and purity? Pray for the spiritual understanding to know that by His grace, He has washed this same righteousness over you.



Reading for Today:


Notes:

Genesis 6:15,16 The ark was not designed for beauty or speed, but these dimensions provided extraordinary stability in the tumultuous floodwaters. A cubit was about 18 inches long, which made the ark 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. A gigantic box of that size would be very stable in the water and impossible to capsize. 


The volume of space in the ark was 1.4 million cubic feet, equal to the capacity of 522 standard railroad box cars. It had 3 stories, each 15 feet high; each deck was equipped with rooms (literally, “nests”). “Pitch” was a resin substance to seal the seams and cracks in the wood. The “window” may have actually been a low wall around the flat roof to catch water for all on the ark.


Psalm 2:7 You are My Son. Second Samuel 7:8–16 is the only Old Testament reference to the Father/Son relationship in the Trinity, a relationship seen throughout the New Testament. Today I have begotten You. This expresses the privileges of relationship, with its prophetic application to the Son, the Messiah. This verse is quoted in the New Testament in reference to the birth of Jesus (Heb. 1:56) and to His resurrection (Acts 13:33,34) as the ultimate fulfillments of the verse.

Psalm 2:12 Kiss the Son. This symbolic act indicates allegiance and submission (see 1 Sam. 10:1). This word for “Son” is not the Hebrew word for “son” that is used in v. 7. Rather, it is the Aramaic counterpart for the word (see Dan. 7:13), which addresses the command to “nations” (v. 1). perish in the way. These words pick up the major burden of Psalm 1.


What is the difference between the Pharisees and Sadducees?

The Pharisees were a small (about 6,000), legalistic sect of the Jews. Their name means “separated ones,” not in the sense of isolationists but in the puritanical sense, i.e., they were highly zealous for ritual and religious purity according to the Mosaic Law as well as their own traditions that they added to the Old Testament legislation. 


They represented the orthodox core of Judaism and very strongly influenced the common people of Israel. Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisees was usually adversarial. He rebuked them for using human tradition to nullify Scripture (Matt. 15:3–9), and especially for rank hypocrisy (Matt. 15:7822:1823:13232529Luke 12:1).


The Sadducees were known for their denial of things supernatural. They denied the resurrection of the dead (Matt. 22:23) and the existence of angels (Acts 23:8). Unlike the Pharisees, they rejected human tradition and scorned legalism. They accepted only the Pentateuch as authoritative. They tended to be wealthy, aristocratic, members of the priestly tribe, and in the days of Herod their sect controlled the temple, though they were fewer in number than the Pharisees.


Pharisees and Sadducees had little in common. Pharisees were ritualists; Sadducees were rationalists. Pharisees were legalists; Sadducees were liberals. Pharisees were separatists; Sadducees were compromisers and political opportunists. Yet they united together in their opposition of Christ (Matt 22:1516233435). John publicly addressed them as deadly snakes.


Greetings

In the Love of our Lord

In the Grip


MAXIMILIANO 



New Year’s resolution, should a Christian make? 


Here are some suggestions: 


(1) pray to the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5) regarding what resolutions, if any, He would have you make; 


If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. - James 1:5 (Have faith and believe. God is faithful and keeps all his promises, such is the case that the work He started in you He will take to completion.)  YOU ARE SAVED!!! NEVER DOUBT, IN THIS, HE GETS HONOR AND GLORY. 


(2) pray for wisdom as to how to fulfill the goals God gives you; 


(3) rely on God’s strength to help you; 


(4) find an accountability partner who will help you and encourage you; 


(5) don’t become discouraged with occasional failures; instead, allow them to motivate you further; 


(6) don’t become proud or vain, but give God the glory. Psalm 37:5-6 says, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”


And when you go through trials and tribulations, as of now exercise the following verse and memorize it:


JAMES 1:2-4

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,

3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.


When you count it all joy, you are trusting in the Lord and you’re running to him in prayer who is waiting for you with open arms.


And He will do for you over in abundance than what you ask for. He loves us and we are his children.  


20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. - Ephesians 3:20-21.  


God bless you and your family, with health, joy and an amazing fellowship with him, and others.  And may you prosper in all you do for his honor and glory, and whatever you do, again, do for the honor and glory of God, if it does not honor and glorify God, don’t do it it’s a sin.  








01/02/2020


Commitment to God's Standards


“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).


Just as organizations have rules their members must follow, God has standards Christians must live by.

When someone is part of a group, he or she is obligated to follow its laws or standards. American citizens are required to obey the laws of the United States. Employees must conform to the rules of their company. Athletic teams are expected to listen to their coach.


Most of us want to be part of a group because with belonging comes acceptance. This desire to conform can be quite strong, sometimes dangerously so. During Jesus’ time, “many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (John 12:42-43). Those rulers were so committed to their religious system that they damned their souls by rigidly adhering to its code.


Some people think belonging to the church is different though. They want the blessings, rights, and privileges of being a child of God, but they’re unwilling to conform to biblical standards. But God expects Christians to live a certain way. Paul told the Corinthian believers to remove from their midst all who live immorally (1 Cor. 5:1-2). In 2 Thessalonians 3:6 he says, “Keep aloof from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.”


Since people can join athletic teams and businesses and follow the rules, since people can be so fearful of being cast out of their society that they forfeit their souls, since people can be so devoted to things that don’t matter, shouldn’t Christians make an even greater commitment to what matters most? In Ephesians 4:1-6Paul tells us how we can “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which [we] have been called” (v. 1). Let’s commit ourselves to obey God as we learn what He requires of us.


Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to show you areas where your commitment to Him is lacking, and for help in strengthening those areas.


For Further Study

Read John 9.

  • What were the parents of the man born blind most committed to?
  • What effect did that commitment have on them?



The Measure of True Success


“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:1).


God is more interested in your faithfulness than He is in your accomplishments.


Our society is success oriented. We love success stories. We even have television programs that exalt the lifestyles of the rich and famous. But God's standard for success is quite different. Unimpressed by our status or wealth, He looks instead for faithfulness to His will.


Paul understood that principle and diligently pursued his calling as an apostle—one of those unique men who were foundational to the church and recipients, teachers, and writers of the New Testament.


That was a high calling, yet judging from Paul's lifestyle most people would hardly call him successful— having suffered imprisonments, beatings, death threats, shipwrecks, robberies, hatred from his theological enemies, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, and exposure to the elements (2 Cor. 11:23-27). But none of those things deterred him from obeying God's will. His final testimony was, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). 


That's true success! Although we're not apostles, we're to follow Paul's example of faithfulness (1 Cor. 11:1). That's possible because, like the Ephesian believers, we are “saints [holy ones] . . . who are faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:1). 


By God's grace we've trusted in Christ as our Lord and Savior (Eph. 2:8-9) and received His righteousness (Phil. 3:9), Spirit (Eph. 3:16), and every spiritual resource necessary for faithful, victorious Christian living (Eph. 1:3).


What remains is to cultivate greater love for Christ and more consistent obedience to His Word. Those are the hallmarks of a true disciple and God's measure of success. Make it your goal that your life today warrants the Lord's commendation, “Well done, good and faithful [servant]” (Matt. 25:21).


Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God for His wonderful grace, by which He granted you salvation and all the spiritual resources you need.
  • Thank Him for His Word, where you learn the principles of godly living.
  • Ask Him for opportunities today to encourage the faithfulness of others.


For Further Study

Read Ephesians 1:3-42:10Titus 2:11-12.

  • What is the goal of your salvation?
  • Are you living each day in light of that goal?


Jesus’ Public Baptism


“Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan” (Matthew 3:13).


There is something majestic about Jesus’ baptism that brought all the previous events of His earthly life into focus. Here He came fully onto the stage of the gospel story and His work and ministry truly began.


Following an eternity past in heaven and thirty years of obscurity in Nazareth, God presented the Savior publicly to the world. John the Baptist, as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness,” had heralded the coming of the Messiah (3:3; cf. Isa. 40:3), and now He was fully and publicly prepared to begin the fulfillment of His earthly mission.


A parallel passage in Luke tells us that this was no private or secluded ceremony: “Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized” (Luke 3:21). The word translated “arrived” in Matthew 3:13 often indicated an official arrival or public appearance by a dignitary. From now on Jesus would be in the public eye and call no place His permanent earthly home (8:20).


This important episode from the beginning of Christ’s ministry clearly shows us that Jesus, though knowing what a high degree of visibility would ultimately cost Him, obediently stepped from the comfort of obscurity into the high-risk position of a public figure. His work would invite strong opinion, but in order to accomplish the Father’s will, it must take place in full view of the world. It must come at the cost of being widely observed.


Ask Yourself

We are called to be salt and light, not merely to enjoy God’s seasoning and illumination in our own lives but to be His conveyors of grace to others. How does this public calling alter the way you express and live your Christianity? Pray that you will live not in fear but in faith.


Reading for Today:


Notes:

Genesis 1:5 first day. God completed the creation in 7 days, which constituted a complete week. One “day” can refer to: 1) the light portion of a 24-hour period (1:5,14); an extended period of time (2:4); or 2) the whole 24-hour period while the earth completes a full rotation on its axis. Each “day” in Genesis refers to a 24-hour period. 


The cycle of light and dark means that the earth was rotating on its axis, receiving light from a source on one side of the earth, even though the sun was not yet created (v. 16).


Genesis 1:26 Us…Our. The first clear reference to the three-person nature of God, as the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. This unique relationship is called the triunity of God. Even the very name of God, Elohim (1:1), is a plural form of El. man. 


The masterpiece of creation, a human being, was made in God’s image to rule creation. Our image. This phrase defined man’s unique relation to God and set him apart from the animals. He was like God in that he could reason and had intellect, will, and emotion. When he was first created, he was like God because he was good and sinless.


Matthew 1:18 betrothed. Jewish betrothal was as binding as a modern marriage and could only be broken through divorce. The betrothal couple was legally considered husband and wife, even though physical union had not yet taken place.


Matthew 1:22 that it might be fulfilled. Matthew often referred to places where Old Testament scriptures were fulfilled. He quoted from the Old Testament more than 60 times, more frequently than any other New Testament writer, except Paul in Romans.


How does the Bible challenge or agree with current scientific theories?


Scientific theories, by their very definition, are subject to change and adjustment. Scripture remains as God’s revealed unchanging declaration of truth. The Bible was not written as a challenge to any particular scientific theory, but scientific theories have often been designed to challenge and undermine biblical statements. They either agree with scripture or are mistaken.


The description in Genesis 1:1 that “God created the heavens and the earth” yields three basic conclusions: 1) creation was a recent event measured in thousands not millions of years ago; 2) creation was ex nihilo, meaning that God created out of nothing; 3) creation was special, with light and time being the first of God’s creative acts, since the day-count (Gen. 1:5) began before the creation of sun and moon (Gen. 1:16).


One key in evaluating scientific theories depends on our understanding of the biblical word “created.” Although the Hebrew word used in Genesis 1:1 can be used to describe the act of shaping or altering existent matter (Is. 65:18), such is not the case with the Bible’s first words. God spoke the heavens and earth into existence. 


Both context and the rest of Scripture bear witness to God’s creativity without use of any preexisting material (Is. 40:2845:8,12,1848:13Jer. 10:16Acts 17:24).


GOD BLESS YOU, MY BELOVED ROYAL FAMILY.

BLESSED BE 

LORD CHRIST JESUS

OUR KING AND SAVIOR. 

 

MAXIMILIANO





01/01/2020


New Year’s resolution, should a Christian make? 


Here are some suggestions: 


(1) pray to the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5) regarding what resolutions, if any, He would have you make; 


If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. - James 1:5 (Have faith and believe. God is faithful and keeps all his promises, such is the case that the work He started in you He will take to completion.)  YOU ARE SAVED!!! NEVER DOUBT, IN THIS, HE GETS HONOR AND GLORY. 


(2) pray for wisdom as to how to fulfill the goals God gives you; 


(3) rely on God’s strength to help you; 


(4) find an accountability partner who will help you and encourage you; 


(5) don’t become discouraged with occasional failures; instead, allow them to motivate you further; 


(6) don’t become proud or vain, but give God the glory. Psalm 37:5-6 says, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”


And when you go through trials and tribulations, as of now exercise the following verse and memorize it:


JAMES 1:2-4

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,

3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.


When you count it all joy, you are trusting in the Lord and you’re running to him in prayer who is waiting for you with open arms.


And He will do for you over in abundance than what you ask for. He loves us and we are his children.  


20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. - Ephesians 3:20-21.  


God bless you and your family, with health, joy and an amazing fellowship with him, and others.  And may you prosper in all you do for his honor and glory, and whatever you do, again, do for the honor and glory of God, if it does not honor and glorify God, don’t do it it’s a sin.  




01/01/2020


The Preeminence of Christ


“[Christ] is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him” (Colossians 1:18-19).


Christ has preeminence in everything.

The apostle Paul presents four great truths in Colossians 1:18about Christ’s relation to the church. The first is that Christ is the head of the church. This concept looks at the church as a living organism, inseparably tied together by the living Christ. He controls every part of it and gives it life and direction (cf. 1 Cor. 12:12-20).


Christ is also the source of the church. The Greek word translated “beginning” (arche) is used here in the twofold sense of source and primacy. The church has its origins in Jesus. God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). 


As head of the Body, Jesus holds the chief position or highest rank in the church. As the beginning, He is its originator.


Another truth is that Christ is the first-born from the dead. Of all those who have been raised from the dead or ever will be, Christ is the highest in rank. Furthermore, it is Christ who will cause the resurrection of others (John 5:28-296:40).


Finally, Christ is the preeminent One. As a result of His death and resurrection, Jesus has come to have first place in everything. Paul states that truth to drive home as forcefully as he can that Jesus is not merely another emanation from God.


Paul then summarizes his argument by saying that all the fullness of deity dwells in Christ alone (Col. 1:19). It is not spread out in small doses to a group of spirits, as the false teachers were saying. Rather, in Christ, and Him alone, believers are “complete” (2:10).


What should be your response to the glorious truths about Christ in Colossians 1:15-19? Be encouraged to meditate on the glory of Christ as revealed in this passage. Doing so will help you be transformed into Christ’s image and will prepare you to behold His glory in Heaven.


Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord for each of the four truths discussed above.

For Further Study

According to John 1:16, what have you received?



Our Sympathetic High Priest


"Assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted" (Heb. 2:16-18).


Jesus came to sympathize with us, so He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest.


In his letters to Timothy, Paul counseled and encouraged his young associate about many things—his health, his critics, his moral and spiritual warfare. His counsel is well summed up in these words: "Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David" (2 Tim. 2:8).


Like Timothy, we need to be reminded of Christ's humanity, especially when life becomes particularly tough. Then we can pray, "Lord, You know what You endured while You were here. I'm going through it now." We can be sure He knows and will encourage us.

Jesus came not only to save us but also to sympathize with us. He experienced what we experience so He could be a "merciful and faithful high priest." 


After all, "we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15).


Jesus felt everything we will ever feel—and more. Most of us will never know the full degree of any given temptation because we usually succumb long before we reach it. But since Jesus never sinned, He took the full measure of every temptation.

Ours is not a cosmic God, powerful and holy, but indifferent. He knows when we hurt, where we are weak, and how we are tempted. Jesus is not just our Savior, but our loving Lord who sympathizes with us. Rejoice in the greatness of His love for us.


Suggestion for Prayer

Ask God to remind you of your need of Him at all times, not just when times are tough.

For Future Study

Memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13 for quick recall whenever you are faced with any trial.



The Parable of the Householder


“‘Have you understood all these things?’ They said to Him, ‘Yes.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old’” (Matthew 13:51–52).


Jesus’ twelve disciples would eventually become His twelve apostles (Matthias replacing Judas, Acts 1:23). Through these men, and later Paul, our Lord entrusted the continued revelation of His Word and the extension of His church. Like “head[s] of a household,” which was analogous to being disciples in Christ’s kingdom, they drew from the old treasures of previous revelation and received additional, new truths. And these faithful men would proclaim both.


“Brings out” conveys the concept of scattering or distributing widely. Here it also connotes generosity—giving out God’s truth of the gospel wisely and liberally. Second only to their Lord, the apostles would be supreme scholars of Scripture, preachers, and teachers—scribes and disciples without equal (cf. Matt. 11:11) and superb evangelists.


With a slightly lesser degree of authority, the Lord’s charge to His apostles applies to every Christian (Matt. 28:16–20), and especially to those pastors, teachers, and missionaries He has called to spread His Word. It is a tremendous responsibility to warn the lost about hell and to offer them salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ. Paul stated it this way, “Knowing the fear [terror] of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11). 


The believer’s heart is cold indeed that is not profoundly concerned about those all around who are without Christ and headed for hell. Pray that you would genuinely warm to the task of reaching the lost in your community and beyond with saving gospel treasure.


Ask Yourself

The end of a year and the dawn of a new is always a time of reflection and renewed hope. What have you gleaned from walking with Jesus through these past months and seasons? What are your priorities for the coming year? May the Lord bless you as you follow Him there.



Reading for Today:


Notes:

Malachi 3:1 My messenger. It was a custom of the Near Eastern kings to send messengers before them to remove obstacles to their visit. Employing a wordplay on the name of Malachi, “the LORD’s messenger”, the Lord Himself announced He was sending one who would “prepare the way before Me.” This is “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” (Is. 40:3) and the Elijah of 4:5 who comes before the Lord. The New Testament clearly identifies him as John the Baptist (Matt. 3:311:101417:12ff.; Mark 1:2Luke 1:177:2627John 1:23).


Malachi 4:2 Sun of Righteousness. While the wicked will be devoured by the heat of the Lord’s wrath, those who fear Him will feel His warmth with healing in His “rays” or “beams” (Is. 30:2660:13). The reference is to the Messiah; He is “the Lord our Righteousness” (Ps. 84:11Jer. 23:561 Cor. 1:30). healing. The reference should not be limited to the physical recovery from the harm done by the wicked (3:5).This sickness is inextricably linked with sin, with healing coming only through the suffering of the Servant (Ps. 103:3Is. 53:557:18191 Pet. 2:24).


Proverbs 31:10–31 This poem offers a beautiful description of the excellent wife as defined by a wife and mother (v. 1). Spiritual and practical wisdom plus moral virtues mark the character of this woman in contrast to the immoral women of v. 3. While the scene here is of a wealthy home and the customs of the ancient Near East, the principles apply to every family. They are set forth as the prayer of every mother for the future wife of her son, and literarily arranged with each of the 22 verses beginning with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet in consecutive order.


Revelation 21:2 New Jerusalem. This is the capital city of heaven, a place of perfect holiness. It is seen “coming down out of heaven,” indicating it already existed; but it descends into the new heavens and new earth from its place on high. This is the city where the saints will live (John 14:1–3). bride. An important New Testament metaphor for the church (Matt. 25:1–13Eph. 5:25–27). John’s imagery here extends from the third part of the Jewish wedding, the ceremony. Believers (the bride) in the New Jerusalem come to meet Christ (the bridegroom) in the final ceremony of redemptive history (19:7). The whole city, occupied by all the saints, is called the bride, so that all saints must be finally included in the bride imagery and bridal blessing. God has brought home a bride for His beloved Son. All the saints live with Christ in the Father’s house (a promise made before the church began; John 14:2).


What is the Book of Malachi about?

Only 50,000 exiles had returned to Judah from Babylon (538–536 B.C.). The temple had been rebuilt under the leadership of Zerubbabel (516 B.C.) and the sacrificial system renewed. Ezra had returned in 458 B.C., followed by Nehemiah in 445 B.C. After being back in the land of Palestine for only a century, the ritual of the Jews’ religious routine led to hard-heartedness toward God’s great love for them and to widespread departure from His law by both people and priest. Malachi rebuked and condemned these abuses, forcefully indicting the people and calling them to repentance. 


When Nehemiah returned from Persia the second time (ca. 424 B.C.), he vigorously rebuked them for these abuses in the temple and priesthood, for the violation of the Sabbath rest, and for the unlawful divorce of their Jewish wives so they could marry Gentile women (Neh. 13).


As over two millennia of Old Testament history since Abraham concluded, none of the glorious promises of the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenants had been fulfilled in their ultimate sense. Although there had been a few high points in Israel’s history, e.g., Joshua, David, and Josiah, the Jews had seemingly lost all opportunity to receive God’s favor. Less than 100 years after returning from captivity, they had already sunk to a depth of sin that exceeded the former iniquities which brought on the Assyrian and Babylonian deportations. Beyond this, the long-anticipated Messiah had not arrived and did not seem to be in sight.


So, Malachi wrote the capstone prophecy of the Old Testament in which he delivered God’s message of judgment on Israel for their continuing sin and God’s promise that one day in the future, when the Jews would repent, the Messiah would be revealed and God’s covenant promises would be fulfilled. There were over 400 years of divine silence, with only Malachi’s words ringing condemnation in their ears, before another prophet arrived with a message from God. That was John the Baptist preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matt. 3:2). Messiah had come.


GOD BLESS YOU, MY BELOVED ROYAL FAMILY.

BLESSED BE 

LORD CHRIST JESUS

OUR KING AND SAVIOR. 

 

MAXIMILIANO






12/31/19


Sustaining the Universe


“[Christ] is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).


The eternal Christ sustains His creation.


When the universe began, Christ already existed. The apostle John spoke of Christ’s eternal existence this way: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him; and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:1-3). 


Christ Himself testified of the same truth when He told the Jews, “Before Abraham was born, I AM” (John 8:58). He was saying that He is Yahweh, the eternally existing God. The prophet Micah said of Him, “His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Mic. 5:2). Revelation 22:13 describes Him as “the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Christ has preeminence over all creation because He “is before all things” (Col. 1:17). 


He already existed when the universe began because He is the eternal God.

Having created the universe, Christ sustains all He has created (v. 17). He maintains the delicate balance necessary to life’s existence. He is the power behind every consistency in the universe and the One who keeps all the entities in space in their motion. He is the energy behind the universe.

Christ, however, will not always sustain our present universe. One day in the future He will dissolve the heavens and earth. 


The apostle Peter describes that day, when “the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). Until that time, we can be thankful that Christ continues to sustain it.


How encouraging to know that the eternal God who sustains the entire universe is also watching over you. No detail of your life is too small for His concern; no circumstance is too big for His sovereign control.


Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord for caring for the details of your life while He controls the universe.


For Further Study

According to Hebrews 1:3, what does God uphold? How?



Satan's Conqueror


"Since . . . the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives" (Heb. 2:14-15).


Christ came to break the power of Satan which He did by conquering death.


To be free to live with God and share in all His blessings, someone had to shatter Satan's death grip on us. Sin is what gives Satan his powerful hold on us, but the power itself is death.

Satan knew that God required death for us because of sin. He knew that all died in Adam—that death became a certain fact of life. And he knew that men, if they remained as they were, would die and go out of God's presence into hell forever. So he wants to hang onto men until they die because once they are dead, the opportunity for salvation is gone forever.


To wrest the power of death from Satan's hand, God sent Christ into the world. If you have a greater weapon than your enemy, then his weapon is useless. You can't fight a machine gun with a bow and arrow. Satan's weapon is death, but eternal life is God's weapon, and with it Jesus destroyed death.


How was He able to do it? He rose again, proving He had conquered death. That's why He said, "Because I live, you shall live also" (John 14:19). His resurrection provides the believer with eternal life.


Nothing terrifies people more than the fear of death. But when we receive Christ, death in reality holds no more fear for us since it simply releases us into the presence of our Lord. We can say with Paul, "To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21). Rejoice that you have placed your hand into the hand of the conqueror of death, who will lead you through death and out the other side.


Suggestion for Prayer

Ask God to give you a greater realization that He has conquered death to help you live life more fully to His glory.


For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. How are we to live our lives based on what we know about death?



Perils of the Dragnet, Part 2


“‘. . . and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” (Matthew 13:50).


Continuing from yesterday, we can learn several more biblical truths about hell, the dragnet’s ultimate peril. For example, the lost will suffer hell’s torments in varying degrees. Those who willfully reject Jesus Christ and blatantly scorn His sacrifice will receive far greater punishment than people who had only the light of the Old Testament. 


The author of Hebrews writes, “Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:28–29; cf. Matt. 11:22–23).


Concerning the slaves who waited for their master’s return, Christ’s parable states that “that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few” (Luke 12:47–48).


Finally, nothing will be as horrible about hell’s torment as its endlessness. The Lord uses “eternal” to describe both heaven’s and hell’s duration: “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:46). Sadly, people who experience hell will realize a complete absence of hope for all eternity. But rejoice if you are a believer—you have a hope of heaven that will be validated for all eternity.


Ask Yourself

The sensitive person asks, “How can a loving God doom a person to hell?” What is your answer to this common question and complaint? How is justice involved? Why would some be spared? Know how to respond to this type of opinion ahead of time.


GOD BLESS YOU, MY BELOVED ROYAL FAMILY.

BLESSED BE 

LORD CHRIST JESUS

OUR KING AND SAVIOR. 

 

MAXIMILIANO



 12/30/19


Christ Is the Creator


“In [Christ] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16).


Christ created everyone and everything.


The sheer size of the universe is staggering. The sun, for example, could hold 1.3 million planets the size of Earth inside it. The galaxy to which our sun belongs, the Milky Way, contains hundreds of billions of stars. And astronomers estimate there are millions, or even billions, of galaxies.

Who created this awesome universe? 


According to the false teachers at Colosse, it was not Christ. They viewed Him as the first and most important of the emanations from God; they were convinced it had to be a lesser being who eventually created the material universe. Believing matter to be evil, they argued that neither the good God nor a good emanation would have created the universe.


But the apostle Paul rejected that blasphemy, insisting that Christ made all things, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible. When he mentions thrones, dominions, rulers, and authorities (v. 16), he is referring to the various ranks of angels. Far from being an angel, as the false teachers taught, Christ created the angels (cf. Eph. 1:21). 


Jesus’ relation to the unseen world, like His relation to the visible world, proves He is God, the Creator of the universe.


Man is certainly interested in knowing about the universe that Christ created. That is evident, for example, by his exploration of space. Manned space capsules photographing the earth rising over the lunar horizon and satellites beaming pictures to us of planets at the outer edges of our solar system leave us in awe and wonder. Even more amazing is, not that man has gone into space, but that God came to Earth. In Christ, the invisible God who created everything and everyone became visible to man. How sad that while man looks into space, He refuses to look at the One who came to Earth.


Suggestions for Prayer

Worship Christ for His awesome work of creation.


For Further Study

Read Psalm 19:1-6. What testimony does this passage give of the Creator?



He Who Sanctifies


"Both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, 'I will proclaim Thy name to My brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will sing Thy praise.' And again, 'I will put My trust in Him.' And again, 'Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me'" (Heb. 2:11-13).


Our holy Christ has made us holy; thus He can now call us His brothers.

From our own perspective and experience, it is difficult to think of ourselves as holy. Sin simply is too much a part of us in this fallen world. In thought and practice we are far from holy, but in Christ we are perfectly holy.


We may not always act holy, but because of our faith in Christ we are perfectly holy in God's sight. Just as a child may not always act like his father, he is nonetheless still his son. We are holy in the sense that before God, the righteousness of Christ has been applied and imputed on our behalf through faith. We were made holy through His sacrifice and have become "those who are sanctified."

"By one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified" (Heb. 10:14). 


We are as pure as God is pure, righteous as Christ is righteous, and therefore entitled to be called His brothers because we now share in His righteousness.


The Sanctifier and sanctified now have "one Father," and the Sanctifier "is not ashamed" to call the sanctified His brothers. What an overwhelming truth!


The practical experience of a Christian's life in this world includes sin, but the positional reality of his or her new nature is holiness. "In Him [we] have been made complete" (Col. 2:10). Yet practically we have a long way to go. So the overriding purpose of our lives is to become in practice what we are in position. Now that we are Christ's brothers and God's children, let that be all the motivation we need to live like it.


Suggestion for Prayer

Thank the Lord for His sanctifying work on the cross, which enables you to be holy.


For Further Study

Read Romans 1:16. Based on what God has done for you through Christ, can you wholeheartedly echo Paul's statement?



Perils of the Dragnet, Part 1


“‘. . . and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” (Matthew 13:50).


The doctrine of hell is undoubtedly the most difficult one for Christians to accept emotionally. Yet Scripture mentions it too often for us to deny or ignore it. Jesus gives several warnings of it in the Sermon on the Mount. “It is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Matt. 5:29; cf. 5:22; see also Matt. 11:2323:33Mark 3:29Luke 12:9–10John 15:6).


God’s Word teaches us some basic truths about hell—what this parable calls “the furnace of fire”—that aid us in partially grasping its terror. First, it is a place of constant torment and pain. Jesus called its torment darkness (Matt. 22:13), which means no light penetrates and nothing is visible. Our Lord also called the torment a fire that never goes out (Mark 9:43), from which the damned find no relief.


Second, hell includes the torment of both body and soul. Contrary to some teachings, neither is annihilated at death and never will be. Just as believers’ souls will receive resurrected bodies to enjoy heaven forever, unbelievers’ souls will receive resurrected bodies to experience hell forever (cf. Matt. 10:28John 5:29Acts 24:15). 


Jesus further called hell a place “where their worm does not die” (Mark 9:44). Once the bodies of deceased believers are consumed by worms, no more harm can be done to them. But the resurrected bodies of unbelievers will never be consumed. Such sobering reminders ought to prompt us to pray for the lost with greater urgency.


Ask Yourself

We do try to avoid thinking of things so gruesome and unending. Even though we don’t treat it as a myth or analogy, we still bristle at the thought of it. But how does a proper understanding of the truth of hell benefit you in your own worship and in your interactions with others?



Reading for Today:


Notes:

Zechariah 12:10 I will pour. God, in His own perfect time and by His own power, will sovereignly act to save Israel. This was prophesied by other prophets (Ezek. 39:29Joel 2:28–32) and by the apostle Paul (Rom. 11:25–27). Spirit of grace and supplication. The Holy Spirit is so identified because He brings saving grace and because that grace produces sorrow that will result in repentant prayer to God for forgiveness (Matt. 5:4Heb. 10:29). look on Me whom they pierced. 


Israel’s repentance will come because they look to Jesus, the One whom they rejected and crucified (Is. 53:5John 19:37), in faith at the Second Advent (Rom. 11:25–27). When God says they pierced “Me,” He is certainly affirming the incarnation of Deity—Jesus was God.


Revelation 19:11 heaven opened. The One who ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9–11) and had been seated at the Father’s right hand (Heb. 8:110:121 Pet. 3:22) will return to take back the earth from the usurper and establish His kingdom (5:1–10).The nature of this event shows how it differs from the Rapture. At the Rapture, Christ meets His own in the air—in this event, He comes with them to earth. At the Rapture, there is no judgment—in this event, it is all judgment. This event is preceded by blackness—the darkened sun, moon gone out, stars fallen, smoke—then lightning and blinding glory as Jesus comes. Such details are not included in Rapture passages (John 14:1–31 Thess. 4:13–18). white horse. 


In the Roman triumphal processions, the victorious general rode his white war horse up the Via Sacra to the temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill. Jesus’ First Coming was in humiliation on a colt (Zech. 9:9). John’s vision portrays Him as the conqueror on His warhorse, coming to destroy the wicked, to overthrow the Antichrist, to defeat Satan, and to take control of the earth (2 Cor. 2:14). 


Faithful and True. True to His word, Jesus will return to earth (Matt. 24:27–31). makes war. This startling statement, appearing only here and 2:16, vividly portrays the holy wrath of God against sinners (Ps. 7:11). God’s patience will be exhausted with sinful, rebellious mankind.


Revelation 19:20 beast was captured, and…the false prophet. In an instant, the world’s armies are without their leaders. The beast is Antichrist (13:1–4); the false prophet is his religious cohort (13:11–17). cast alive. The bodies of the beast and the false prophet will be transformed, and they will be banished directly to the lake of fire (Dan. 7:11)—the first of countless millions of unregenerate men (20:15) and fallen angels (Matt. 25:41) to arrive in that dreadful place. That these two still appear there 1,000 years later (20:10) refutes the false doctrine of annihilationism. lake of fire. The final hell, the place of eternal punishment for all unrepentant rebels, angelic or human (20:10, 15).


What is the “marriage of the Lamb” in Revelation 19:7–9 about?

Hebrew weddings consisted of 3 phases: 1) betrothal (often when the couple were children); 2) presentation (the festivities, often lasting several days, that preceded the ceremony); and 3) the ceremony (the exchanging of vows). The church was betrothed to Christ by His sovereign choice in eternity past (Eph. 1:4Heb. 13:20) and will be presented to Him at the Rapture (John 14:1–31 Thess. 4:13–18).The final supper will signify the end of the ceremony. This symbolic meal will take place at the establishment of the millennial kingdom and last throughout that 1,000-year period (21:2). While the term “bride” often refers to the church, and does so here (2 Cor. 11:2Eph. 5:22–24), it ultimately expands to include all the redeemed of all ages.

“And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen,…the righteous acts of the saints” (v. 8). 


Not Christ’s imputed righteousness granted to believers at salvation, but the practical results of that righteousness in believers’ lives, i.e., the outward manifestation of inward virtue.


“‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” (v. 9). This is not the bride (the church) but the guests. The bride doesn’t get invited; she invites. These are those saved before Pentecost, all the faithful believers saved by grace through faith up to the birth of the church (Acts 2:1ff.).Though they are not the bride, they still are glorified and reign with Christ in the millennial kingdom. It is really differing imagery rather than differing reality. The guests also will include tribulation saints and believers alive in earthly bodies in the kingdom. 


The church is the bride, pure and faithful—never a harlot, like Israel was (see Hos. 2). So the church is the bride during the presentation feast in heaven, then comes to earth for the celebration of the final meal (the Millennium). After that event, the new order comes and the marriage is consummated (21:1, 2).


GOD BLESS YOU, MY BELOVED ROYAL FAMILY.


BLESSED BE 

LORD CHRIST JESUS

OUR KING AND SAVIOR. 

 

MAXIMILIANO





12/29/19


The Inheritance of Christ


“[Christ] is . . . the first-born of all creation” (Colossians 1:15).


Christ is the preeminent inheritor over all creation.


Puritan minister Thomas Manton once said, “Heresies revolve as fashions, and in the course of a few years antiquated errors revive again, and that by their means who did not so much as know them by name.” He was right: false doctrines keep repeating themselves through the ages, only to reappear under different names. From the Arians of the early church to the Jehovah’s Witnesses of our own day, cultists have sought to deny our Lord’s deity. 


One of the favorite verses of such cultists is Colossians 1:15, which refers to Christ as the “first-born.” They argue that it speaks of Christ as a created being and hence He could not be the eternal God. Such an interpretation completely misunderstands the sense of prototokos(“first-born”) and ignores the context.


Although prototokos can mean first-born chronologically (Luke 2:7), it refers primarily to position or rank. In both Greek and Jewish culture, the firstborn was the son who had the right of inheritance. He was not necessarily the first one born. Although Esau was born first chronologically, it was Jacob who was the first-born and received the inheritance. Jesus is the One with the right to the inheritance of all creation (cf. Heb. 1:2).


The context of Colossians 1:15 also refutes the idea that “first-born” describes Jesus as a created being. If Paul were here teaching that Christ is a created being, he would be agreeing with the central point of the Colossian false teachers. That would run counter to his purpose in writing Colossians, which was to refute them. Moreover, Paul had just finished describing Christ as the perfect and complete image of God (v. 15). In the following verses he refers to Christ as the Creator of all things (v. 16) and the One who “is before all things” (v. 17). 


Far from being an emanation descending from God, Christ is the preeminent inheritor over all creation. He existed before the creation and is exalted in rank above it.


Suggestions for Prayer

Use Psalm 93 as the basis of your prayer to worship Christ, who is preeminent in rank over all creation.


For Further Study

Read Revelation 4:8-11. According to verse 11, what is Christ worthy to receive? Why?



The Author of Our Salvation


"It was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings" (Heb. 2:10).


Through His death, Christ became the perfect leader for His people.


As we look at what Christ has done, we must never forget that He was fulfilling the sovereign plan of God. The writer of Hebrews tells us it was fitting in God's sight for Christ to bring many sons to glory. That means everything God did through Christ was consistent with His character.


The cross was a masterpiece of God's wisdom. It displayed His holiness in His hatred of sin. It was consistent with His power: Christ endured in a few hours what it would take an eternity to expend on sinners. The cross displayed His love for mankind. And Christ's death on the cross agreed with God's grace because it was substitutionary.


To bring "many sons to glory," God had "to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings." The Greek word translated "author" (archēgos) means "pioneer" or "leader." It was commonly used of a pioneer who blazed a trail for others to follow. The archēgos never stood at the rear giving orders; he was always out front blazing the trail. 


As the supreme Archēgos, Christ has gone before us—He is our trailblazer.

Life seems most anxious and dreadful when death is near. That's a trail we cannot travel by ourselves. But the Author of our salvation says, "Because I live, you shall live also" (John 14:19). Only the perfect Pioneer could lead us out of the domain of death into the presence of the Father. All you have to do is put your hand in His nail- scarred hand and He will lead you from one side of death to the other. 


Then you can say with the apostle Paul, "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" (1 Cor. 15:55).


Suggestion for Prayer

Praise God for all His attributes, specifically for each one displayed in Christ's death for you.


For Further Study

Read Hebrews 5:8-9 and 1 Peter 2:19-25. How do those verses expand on Hebrews 2:10?



Principles of the Dragnet, Part 2


“‘So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous’” (Matthew 13:49).


One way that God’s angels serve Him in the judgment is as instruments of separation and execution of final sentence (cf. Matt. 24:3125:31–32Rev. 14:1915:5–16:21). 


This separation will be from among all the living and the dead of humanity from all time—“those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:29).


During His earthly ministry, Jesus repeatedly warned about the horrors of hell (Matt. 10:2825:41Luke 16:23) and pled with people to avoid such a terrible fate by fleeing to Him for salvation. Even though life will seem normal, our Lord predicts that one day the righteous and unrighteous will part ways:


For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. (Matt. 24:37–41). 


God does not want any sinner to perish (Ezek. 18:232 Peter 3:9). Jesus wept over Jerusalem because its people would not turn to Him (Luke 19:41)—He does not desire anyone to experience hell.


Ask Yourself

One way you see the distinction between the world and the church is how quickly the serene atmosphere of Christmas devolves into the bawdy recklessness of New Year’s Eve plans. Why are so many people content to treat Christianity like a part-time occupation?



Reading for Today:


Notes:

Zechariah 9:1–8 This oracle features a series of judgments announced against the nations surrounding Israel (vv. 1–7), with deliverance promised for His people (v. 8). Most understand this to be a prophecy of the victories of the famous Greek conqueror, Alexander the Great, given approximately 200 years before he marched through Palestine. He provides an analogy of Christ returning to judge the nations and save Israel at the end of the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21).


Psalm 148:14 the horn. Refers in general to the strength and prosperity of the nation, which became the cause of praise for Israel. This suggests that Israel enjoyed better times than in the past, e.g., during David’s and Solomon’s reigns or after returning from the Babylonian captivity. 


A people near to Him. Also “My chosen [people]” (Is. 43:20) and “His special treasure” (Ps. 135:4).

Proverbs 30:29–31 three things…majestic in pace,…four. The 3 creatures and the king all picture wise, stately, and orderly deportment. Each offers a glimpse of the Creator’s power and wisdom (Job 38:1–42:6) and illustrates the dignity and confidence of those who walk wisely.

Revelation 18:24 blood of prophets and saints. 


The religious and commercial/political systems embodied in Babylon will commit unspeakable atrocities against God’s people (6:10; 11:7; 13:7, 15; 17:6; 19:2). God will avenge that slaughter of His people (19:2).


If Zechariah 9:9 refers to the First Advent of Christ, how does v. 10 relate to that?


“Behold, your King is coming to you;…riding on a donkey” (v. 9). Unlike Alexander the Great, this King comes riding on a donkey (Jer. 17:25). This was fulfilled at Christ’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:1–5John 12:12–16). 


The Jews should have been looking for someone from the line of David (2 Sam. 7; 1 Chr. 17). Four elements in this verse describe the Messiah’s character: 1) He is King; 2) He is just; 3) He brings salvation; and 4) He is humble.


Zechariah moves to the Second Advent of Christ and the establishment of His universal kingdom in v. 10. “His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea.’” Not characterized by bloodshed, the Messiah’s rule will be a kingdom of peace in which weapons of warfare will be destroyed or converted to peaceful uses (Is. 2:49:5–711:1–10Mic. 5:210–15), and peace spreads from the Euphrates River (the terminus of civilization) to the world.


The two advents of Christ are here compressed as though they were one as in Isaiah 61:1–3(Luke 4:1621). Verse 9 refers to His First Coming and v. 10 is His Second. Old Testament prophets didn’t see the great time period between the two comings. The church age was a “mystery” hidden from them (Eph. 3:1–9Col. 1:27).


GOD BLESS YOU, MY BELOVED ROYAL FAMILY.

BLESSED BE 

LORD CHRIST JESUS

OUR KING AND SAVIOR. 

 

MAXIMILIANO




12/28/19


God Becomes Visible


“[Christ] is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15).

In Christ, the invisible God became visible.


Sometimes I listen to different preachers on the radio or watch them on television, and I get tremendously frustrated. That’s because so many of them present a confusing picture of who Christ really is. 


Since there are so many who distort the Christian faith, there should be in every believer a desire to defend it. The apostle Paul certainly had that desire. Since the heretics at Colosse viewed Jesus as a lesser spirit who emanated from God, Paul refutes that with a powerful description of who Jesus really is.


Paul describes Him as “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). The Greek word translated “image” (eikon) means “likeness.” Although man is also the eikon of God (1 Cor. 11:7), he is not a perfect image of God. 


Humans are made in God’s image in that they have rational personality. Like God, they possess intellect, emotion, and will, by which they are able to think, feel, and choose. We humans are not, however, in God’s image morally: He is holy, and we are sinful. We are also not created in His image essentially, since we do not possess His divine attributes.


Unlike man, Jesus Christ is the perfect, absolutely accurate image of God. He did not become the image of God at the Incarnation but has been that from all eternity. Hebrews 1:3says Christ “is the radiance of [God’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature.” Christ reflects God’s attributes and is the exact likeness of God. That is why Christ could say, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).


By using the term eikon, Paul emphasizes that Jesus is both the representation and manifestation of God. He is the full, final, and complete revelation of God. He is God in human flesh. That was His claim (John 8:58), and it is the unanimous testimony of Scripture (cf. Col. 2:9Titus 2:13). 


To think anything less of Him is blasphemy and gives evidence of a mind blinded by Satan (2 Cor. 4:4).


Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord for removing your spiritual blindness so that you could “see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4).

For Further Study

According to Romans 8:29, what has God predestined for all believers?



The Humiliation of Christ


"We . . . see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone" (Heb. 2:9).


In serving as our substitute, Christ humbled Himself supremely.

Jesus' death on the cross was not easy or costless—it was a horrific death. It was not calm and peaceful; it was accompanied by outward torture and inward agony. The death He tasted was the curse of sin. In a few hours on that cross, He suffered the total agony of every soul for all eternity. He was guilty of no sin, yet He chose to suffer the weight of all sins committed for all time.


God sent His Son, and His Son willingly came to die to redeem mankind. Paul writes, "When the fulness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law" (Gal. 4:4-5).


Only by tasting death as a man could He free mankind from death. Historically, kings have had someone taste their food and drink before they consumed it. Christ drained to the dregs the cup of poison rightfully meant for us before it could ever touch our lips. He substituted His death for ours, releasing us from the deadness of sin to life with God.

What moved Jesus to suffer for us? Grace. 


What we did not deserve (salvation) we received, and what we did deserve (death) we did not receive. 


Unbounded love prompted Christ's gracious work on our behalf: "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10).


After He accomplished the work of His substitutionary death, He was "crowned with glory and honor" and exalted to the right hand of the Father, where He will reign forever and ever. He is our great Substitute, whom we can thank and praise throughout all eternity.


Suggestion for Prayer

Ask God to give you opportunities to communicate the gospel to new people, even if you might suffer in the process.


For Further Study

Read Isaiah 52:13—53:12 to understand what the God of the universe had to endure at the hands of men.



December 27 - Principles of the Dragnet, Part 1


“‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous’” (Matthew 13:47–49).


During the present church era, God allows unbelief and unrighteousness to exist in His kingdom. Therefore believers and unbelievers coexist, as Jesus already illustrated in His parable of the wheat and tares. This parable of the dragnet, however, depicts the separation of believers and unbelievers as the kingdom’s form changes at the end of the age. The dragnet of the Father’s judgment quietly moves through the sea of humanity drawing all people to the shores of eternity for separation to their final destinies—believers to heaven and unbelievers to hell.

The invisible net of God’s judgment affects every person just as the dragnet impinges on every sea creature. 


Most people don’t perceive God’s sovereign plan or His eternal kingdom. They don’t realize He is working in this world. At times they can be moved by hearing of the gospel’s grace, or scared by the threat of judgment. But usually they quickly return to their worldly lifestyles and disregard matters of eternity.


However, we can be certain that when this era ends and the Lord Jesus returns to establish His glorious kingdom, final judgment will be at hand. Here Christ does not fully describe the end times, but He focuses on judgment of unbelievers. He pictures a general judgment with particular reference to the final, great white throne judgment (Rev. 20:11–15). There “the dead, the great and the small” will be “judged, every one of them” (vv. 12, 13). But thank the Lord we do not have to fear that fate if we are trusting Him for salvation.

Ask Yourself

How does your heart react when you contemplate the vastness and grandeur of God’s plan—His knowledge and oversight throughout history and forward into eternity?



Reading for Today:


Notes:

Zechariah 4:10 the day of small things. Though the rebuilding of a temple smaller than Solomon’s may have been discouraging to some (Ezra 3:12Hag. 2:3), the Lord announced that His pleasure was upon this work, and that His omniscient care (“7 eyes”) was watching over and taking pleasure in its completion. He said in effect, “Don’t despise what God is pleased with.” 


This was only a picture of the glorious restoration when the Messiah comes to reign. That temple will make all others pale by comparison (Ezek. 40–48).


Proverbs 30:24–28 four things which are little. These verses picture 4 creatures which survive due to natural instinct. The wisdom seen in each of these reveals the beauty of the wise Creator and His creation (Ps. 8:3–9) and becomes a model for the principle that labor, diligence, organization, planning, and resourcefulness are better than strength, thus implying the superiority of wisdom over might.


Revelation 17:5 forehead. It was customary for Roman prostitutes to wear a headband with their name on it (Jer. 3:3), parading their wretchedness for all to see. The harlot’s forehead is emblazoned with a 3-fold title descriptive of the world’s final false religious system. MYSTERY. 


A New Testament mystery is truth once hidden, but in the New Testament revealed. Spiritual Babylon’s true identity is yet to be revealed. Thus, the precise details of how it will be manifested in the world are not yet known. 


BABYLON THE GREAT. This Babylon is distinct from the historical, geographical city of Babylon (which still existed in John’s day). The details of John’s vision cannot be applied to any historical city (14:8). 


MOTHER OF HARLOTS. All false religion stems ultimately from Babel or Babylon (Gen. 11).


What is God’s word to inspire Zerubbabel to act on His promise?

Zechariah 4:6 states: “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel.” The purpose of the vision was to encourage Zerubbabel to complete the temple rebuilding, to assure him of divine enablement for that venture and the endless supply for the future glory of the Messiah’s kingdom and temple.


The lamp stand pictured Israel fully supplied by God to be His light then and in the future. It must be noted that the church has temporarily taken this role presently (Eph. 5:89Rev. 1:121320), until Israel’s salvation and restoration to covenant blessing and usefulness.


“‘Not by might…power, but by My Spirit.’” Neither human might, wealth, or physical stamina would be sufficient to complete the work. Only an abundant supply of the power of the Holy Spirit, pictured by the “bowl” (v. 2), would enable him to carry out the task and enable Israel in the Messiah’s kingdom to be a light again to the world by the operation of the Spirit (Ezek. 36:24).


“‘Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain’” (v. 7). Because the outcome is guaranteed (vv. 6, 9), any mountain-like opposition will be leveled by God to become like a flat surface. No obstacle will be able to stop the completion of the temple in Zerubbabel’s time or in the final kingdom of the Messiah (Ezek. 40–48).“‘He shall bring forth the capstone.’” 


The final stone of the building will be put into place, signifying its completion. “‘With shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”’” This blessing signifying shouts of joy and thanksgiving came to pass (Ezra 3:11–13) over the completion of the temple. Contrast this attitude with that of the people seeing the unfinished temple (Hag. 2:3).


GOD BLESS YOU, MY BELOVED ROYAL FAMILY.

BLESSED BE 

LORD CHRIST JESUS

OUR KING AND SAVIOR. 

 

MAXIMILIANO




12/27/19


Seizing Opportunities


“Making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).


Seize opportunities every day to glorify God.


In one of the cities of ancient Greece stood a statue carved by Lysippos, a famous Greek sculptor from the fourth century B.C. The statue had wings on its feet and a great lock of hair on its forehead and was bald on the back of its head. This is how it was described:


Who . . . was thy sculptor?

Lysippos . . .

And who art thou?

Occasion [or opportunity], the all-subduer . . .

Why hast thou wings . . . on thy feet?

I fleet on the wings of the wind . . .

And thy hair, why grows it in front?

For him that meets me, to seize . . .

And why is the back of thy head bald?

Because none may clutch me from behind, howsoe’er he desire it, when once my winged feet have darted past him. 


That fictional character knew how to make the most of every opportunity. In real life, the apostle Paul is calling for you to take advantage of opportunities by “making the most of your time” (Eph. 5:16). The Greek word translated “time” isn’t the Greek word chronos, which refers to time in terms of a clock or calendar. 


It’s the word kairos, which means “eras,” “epochs,” or “periods.” Making the most of your time is another way of saying you are to make the most of your opportunities—opportunities that can be grasped for God, for His glory.

The psalmist had the right perspective when he prayed, “Teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12). 


Wisdom numbers the days, sees the limited time, and buys the opportunity. Don’t be foolish—shun opportunities for evil, but seize opportunities for good.


Suggestions for Prayer

Pray through Psalm 90:12 and apply it to yourself.


For Further Study

In Colossians 4:5, what does Paul tell the believers to do?



Rejecting the World's Passing Pleasures


"By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin" (Heb. 11:24-25). 


The world has little to offer compared to the riches of Christ. 


For forty years Moses enjoyed the best of everything Egypt had to offer: formidable wealth, culture, education, and prestige (Acts 7:22). Yet he never forgot God's promises toward his own people, Israel.


Then, "when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. 


And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him; but they did not understand" (vv. 23-25).

Somehow Moses knew he was to deliver his people from Egyptian oppression. Although it would be another forty years before he was fully prepared for the task, by faith he forsook the pleasures and prestige of Egypt and endured ill-treatment with God's chosen people.


Humanly speaking, Moses made a costly choice. He seemed to be sacrificing everything for nothing. But the opposite was much more the case since Moses considered "the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the [greater] reward" (Heb. 11:26).

Sometimes obedience to Christ seems very costly, especially when evil people prosper while many who faithfully serve God suffer poverty and affliction. 


Asaph the psalmist struggled with the same issue: "Behold, these are the wicked; and always at ease, they have increased in wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure" (Ps. 73:12-13).


But be assured that the eternal rewards of Christ far outweigh the passing pleasures of sin. The wicked have only judgment and hell to look forward to; you have glory and heaven. So always choose obedience, and trust God to guide your choices, just as He did with Moses.


Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God that the righteous will one day be fully rewarded.
  • Seek God's grace to be obedient when you're faced with difficult choices.


For Further Study

Read Stephen's account of Moses in Acts 7:20-39.



The Sabbath and Acts of Mercy


“‘But if you had known what this means, “I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,” you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath’” (Matthew 12:7–8).


God has not hesitated to set aside His laws for the sake of mercy toward sinners. Otherwise none of them would be saved or even born, because He would have destroyed them right after they sinned. 


God’s plan was not to condemn all sinners but to save from its penalty those who believe in His Son. And if a righteous and just God displays that kind of love and mercy, how much more ought His children reflect the same quality of mercy?


Because the Old Testament Sabbath was God’s special day, faithful Jews would have wanted to show mercy on that day. But the leaders, due to their wrong-headed interpretation of the Sabbath and their basic unbelief, actually violated the spirit of the Sabbath. 


They refused acts of mercy on that day, not because of biblical devotion to the law, but because they lacked compassion.


Since the “Lord of the Sabbath” has come, the obligation of a Sabbath rest is no longer applicable to believers. Under the new covenant, they have the freedom as to whether or not they honor any day above others. 


Whatever position they take, they must glorify the Lord (Rom. 14:5–6), but not impose their thinking on fellow believers (Gal. 4:9–10Col. 2:16).

Strict Sabbath observance was never to supplant sincere mercy and compassion by believers. God is merciful and commands us as Christians to be merciful.


Ask Yourself

Rather than looking at the Sabbath as a day for not doing certain things, what might be some deliberate actions you could undertake on the Sabbath, whether in hospitality or compassion or service?



Reading for Today:


Notes:

Ezekiel 44:5–9 Mark well who may enter. Since the Lord’s glory fills the temple, it is sanctified (v. 4), and God is particular about what kind of people worship there. Sins of the past, as in chapters 8–11, must not be repeated, and if they are, those sins will exclude their perpetrators from the temple. 


Only the circumcised in heart may enter (Deut. 30:6Jer. 4:4Rom. 2:25–29), whether of Israel or another nation (vv. 7, 9). Many peoples other than Jews will go into the kingdom in unresurrected bodies, because they have believed in Jesus Christ and are ready for His coming. 


They will escape His deadly judgment and populate and reproduce in the 1,000-year kingdom. Such circumcision pertains to a heart which is sincere about removing sin and being devoted to the Lord (Jer. 29:13). In the Millennium, a Jew with an uncircumcised heart will be considered a foreigner (v. 9). 


“Uncircumcised in flesh” refers to sinners, and “foreigner” identifies rejecters of the true God.

1 Peter 2:2 desire the pure milk of the word. Spiritual growth is always marked by a craving for and a delight in God’s Word with the intensity with which a baby craves milk (Job 23:12Pss. 1:1219:7–1119:1624354748729297103111113127159167174Jer. 15:16). 


A Christian develops a desire for the truth of God’s Word by: 1) remembering his life’s source (1:25; Is. 55:1011John 15:3Heb. 4:12); 2) eliminating sin from his life (v. 1); 3) admitting his need for God’s truth (v.2, “as newborn babes”; Matt. 4:4); 4) pursuing spiritual growth (v. 2, “that you may grow thereby”); and 5) surveying his blessings (v. 3, “Lord is gracious”).


1 Peter 2:11 abstain from fleshly lusts. Perhaps more literally, “hold yourself away from fleshly lusts.” In order to have an impact on the world for God, Christians must be disciplined in an inward and private way by avoiding the desires of the fallen nature (Gal. 5:19–21, where “fleshly lusts” include much more than sexual temptations). which war against the soul. “War,” i.e., to carry on a military campaign. Fleshly lusts are personified as if they were an army of rebels or guerrillas who incessantly search out and try to destroy the Christian’s joy, peace, and usefulness (4:2, 3).


1 Peter 2:13 submit yourselves. “Submit” is a military term meaning “to arrange in military fashion under the commander,” “to put oneself in an attitude of submission.” As citizens in the world and under civil law and authority, God’s people are to live in a humble, submissive way in the midst of any hostile, godless, slandering society (vv. 21–23; Prov. 24:21Jer. 29:4–14Matt. 22:21Rom. 13:1ff., 1 Tim. 2:1Heb. 10:32–34). for the Lord’s sake. 


Though the Christian’s true citizenship is in heaven, he still must live as an obedient citizen in this world so that God will be honored and glorified. Rebellious conduct by a Christian brings dishonor on Christ.


How are Christians described in 1 Peter 2:9?

Believers there are described as “a chosen generation.” Peter uses Old Testament concepts to emphasize the privileges of New Testament Christians (Deut. 7:6–8). In strong contrast to the disobedient who are appointed by God to wrath (v. 8), Christians are chosen by God to salvation (1:2).


They are also called “a royal priesthood.” The concept of a kingly priesthood is drawn from Exodus 19:6. Israel temporarily forfeited this privilege because of its apostasy and because its wicked leaders executed the Messiah. At the present time, the church is a royal priesthood united with the royal priest, Jesus Christ. A royal priesthood is not only a priesthood that belongs to and serves the king, but is also a priesthood which exercises rule. This will ultimately be fulfilled in Christ’s future kingdom (1 Cor. 6:1–4Rev. 5:1020:6).


And they are described as “a holy nation.” Another allusion to Exodus 19:6 (Lev. 19:220:26Deut. 7:6Is. 62:12). Tragically, Israel temporarily forfeited the great privilege of being the unique people of God through unbelief. Until Israel’s future acceptance of its Messiah, God has replaced the nation with the church. “His own special people.” This combines phraseology found in Exodus 19:5Isaiah 43:21;Malachi 3:17. “That you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you.” To “proclaim” means to tell forth, to tell something not otherwise known. “Praises” are excellencies, virtues, eminent qualities.






12/26/19


Finishing the Race


“Making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).


God expects the believer to use his time wisely.

Many people never finish what they begin. There are unfinished symphonies, unfinished paintings, and unfinished sculptures (sometimes because the composer or artist died). There are relationships that never become all they could be, ministries that never come to fruition, dreams that always remain dreams, and hopes that always remain hopes. For a lot of people, life can be an unfinished symphony or a dream without reality. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I believe the answer can be found in the phrase “making the most of your time” (Eph. 5:16).


If we are ever to turn our dreams into realities and our hopes into facts—to finish our symphonies, paint our paintings, and sculpt our sculptures—it will be only when we have made the most of our time. I believe that in eternity past, God prescribed the specific time that we are to live. And only as we maximize that time can we maintain its potential for fulfillment.


The apostle Paul knew firsthand the importance of redeeming his time. In Acts 20:24 he says, “I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus.” In other words, God has given us a time boundary, and within that time He has defined a course. Paul in effect said, “I want to finish the specific course and specific ministry in the specific time given to me.” At the end of his life Paul could say, “I have finished the course” (2 Tim. 4:7). He completed the race because he made the most of his time.


I believe God has sovereignly given you and me a specific period of time. He knows the beginning and the end because He predetermined both. Be sure to finish your prescribed race by walking wisely and living for His glory.


Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank the Lord for sovereignly giving you a course to run in life.
  • Pray for His perfect will to be reflected in your life as you run the course.


For Further Study

Read 1 Peter 1:17-19. According to verse 17, how are you to live “during the time of your stay upon earth”? Why?



Accepting God's Plan


"By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's edict" (Heb. 11:23). 


God makes His plans; you walk in them by faith. He doesn’t need your help or counsel—just your obedience and trust.


It has been wisely said that trying to improve on God's plan is more pretentious than trying to improve the Mona Lisa with an ink pen. All you'd do is ruin the masterpiece.


The story of Amram and Jochebed, the parents of Moses, is about two people who refused to ruin the masterpiece. They trusted God implicitly and did everything possible to see His plan for their son come to fruition.


Because of the number and might of the Hebrew people in Egypt, the pharaoh enslaved them and ordered that all male Hebrew babies be put to death. In direct defiance of that wicked edict, Moses' parents hid their baby for three months, then placed him in a waterproofed basket along the banks of the Nile River near the place where Pharaoh's daughter bathed. 


One can only imagine the faith it took for them to risk their own lives, as well as the life of their baby, by placing him into that basket and introducing him into the very household of the one who wanted all male Hebrew babies slain.


By God's providence, Pharaoh's daughter found the baby, took pity on him, and adopted him into her family. More than that, the Lord used Moses' quick-thinking sister, Miriam, to arrange for Jochebed to nurse and care for her own son! That gave Moses' family the opportunity to teach him of God's promises for Israel to inherit the Promised Land, become a mighty nation, and be a blessing to all nations. They helped instill within Moses the faith in God that would later characterize his life.


You may never be called on to make the kind of sacrifice that Moses' parents made, but no matter what the risks, remember God always honors your obedience.


Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for His plan for your life. Seek wisdom and grace to live accordingly.


For Further Study

Read of Israel's oppression and Moses' birth in Exodus 1:1—2:10.



The Sabbath and Service to God


“‘Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent? But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here’” (Matthew 12:5–6).


Seldom would any Christian today, even the most fastidious and rule-oriented among us, consider preaching, teaching Sunday school, leading youth ministry, or other similar work as profaning the Lord’s Day. Yet these activities require much time and effort—on Sunday. Likewise, the most scrupulous of the Jewish leaders in Jesus’ time viewed the priests as innocent of any Sabbath breaking, even though such men worked in the temple twice as hard as on other days. 


For instance, sacrifices offered on the Sabbath were actually double sacrifices, requiring double the work of offering the normal daily sacrifice (Num. 28:9–10; cf. Lev. 24:8–9).

In this encounter, Jesus embarrassed and upset the Pharisees by showing how inconsistent their legalistic logic was. But they were even more upset and angry when He told them that something far greater and more important than the temple was in their midst. 


This was somewhat of an oblique reference, but the Jews had no doubt that Jesus was referring to Himself and again claiming to be God (cf. Matt. 9:2–611:3–525–27).


Our Lord’s main purpose, however, was not to prove His deity to the Jewish leaders. It was to argue that, in light of that deity, He had the right and authority to set aside Sabbath regulation as He saw fit—even more prerogative than did David or the temple priests. And above all, no human traditions or customary ways of doing things could or should ever hinder genuine service for God.


Ask Yourself

Some may view this as saying that Jesus was flippant about the commandments of God, as if they weren’t actually that important and could be ignored if desired. How would you respond to a person who saw an inconsistency in the meaning of this passage?



Reading for Today:


Notes:

Psalm 133:2 oil upon. Most likely refers to the anointing of Aaron as high priest of the nation (Ex. 29:730:30), which would picture a rich spiritual blessing as a first priority.

1 Peter 1:4 inheritance. Peter showed those persecuted Christians how to look past their troubles to their eternal inheritance. 


Life, righteousness, joy, peace, perfection, God’s presence, Christ’s glorious companionship, rewards, and all else God has planned is the Christian’s heavenly inheritance (v. 5; Matt. 25:34Acts 26:18Eph. 1:11Col. 1:12Heb. 9:15; also Pss. 16:5232672Lam. 3:24). According to Ephesians 1:14, the indwelling Holy Spirit is the resident guarantee of that inheritance. incorruptible. 


The inheritance is not subject to passing away nor liable to decay. The word was used in secular Greek of something that was unravaged by an invading army (Matt. 6:19–21). undefiled. This word means unpolluted, unstained with evil. The undefiled inheritance of the Christian is in marked contrast to an earthly inheritance, all of which is corrupted and defiled. does not fade away. 


“Fading” was often used of flowers that wither and decay. Though earthly inheritances eventually fade away, the eternal inheritance of a Christian has no decaying elements.


1 Peter 1:7 genuineness of your faith. God’s purpose in allowing trouble is to test the reality of one’s faith. But the benefit of such a testing, or “fire,” is immediately for the Christian, not God. When a believer comes through a trial still trusting the Lord, he is assured that his faith is genuine (Gen. 22:1–12Job 1:20–22). revelation of Jesus Christ. The revelation or unveiling of Christ refers to His Second Coming, particularly focusing on the time when He comes to call and reward His redeemed people (v. 13; 4:13; 1 Cor. 1:7), i.e., the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:13–18).


Why did Peter write his first epistle?


When the city of Rome burned, the Romans believed that their emperor, Nero, had set the city on fire, probably because of his incredible lust to build. In order to build more, he had to destroy what already existed.


The Romans were totally devastated. Their culture, in a sense, went down with the city. All the religious elements of their life were destroyed—their great temples, shrines, and even their household idols were burned up. This had great religious implications because it made them believe that their deities had been unable to deal with this conflagration and were also victims of it. 


The people were homeless and hopeless. Many had been killed. Their bitter resentment was severe, so Nero realized that he had to redirect the hostility.


The emperor’s chosen scapegoat was the Christians, who were already hated because they were associated with Jews, and because they were seen as being hostile to the Roman culture. Nero spread the word quickly that the Christians had set the fires. 


As a result, a vicious persecution against Christians began, and soon spread throughout the Roman Empire, touching places north of the Taurus mountains, like Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (1:1), and impacting the Christians, whom Peter calls “pilgrims.” These “pilgrims” were probably Gentiles, for the most part (1:14, 18; 2:9, 10; 4:3), possibly led to Christ by Paul and his associates and established on Paul’s teachings. But they needed spiritual strengthening because of their sufferings. Thus the apostle Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote this epistle to strengthen them.


GOD BLESS YOU, MY BELOVED ROYAL FAMILY

BLESSED BE 

LORD CHRIST JESUS

OUR KING AND SAVIOR. 


MAXIMILIANO




12/25/19


Disciplining Yourself for a Purpose


“Bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).

Godliness should be the believer’s priority in life.

I’m amazed at how devoted people can be to what they believe is important. There are many people outside Christianity who live in rigid conformity to a lot of meaningless rules. People in totalitarian countries, for example, live in rigid conformity to rules predicated on a denial of biblical truth. They walk circumspectly and toe the mark.
 
Some cultists are so rigid and walk so circumspectly according to the principles dictated to them that if they’re told they can’t get married or can’t be with their spouses, they conform. They’re made to live in abstinence from physical relationships, follow strict diets, fast, and so on. Some attempt to attain spirituality through such self-disciplined acts as lying on a bed of nails or walking through hot coals.


Others, such as athletes, go through tremendous self-discipline through dieting, running, weight training, and other means that involve great sacrifice.


People disciplined in things that are ultimately meaningless may be lax in things that count. I know people who run three miles every day but will not bother to read the Bible regularly. I know other people who cannot discipline themselves to feed on the Word of God but stick rigorously to a diet. Many Christians worship physical fitness and health and are so conformed to the world’s system that they’re careless and lazy about conforming to Christ.


If you are a wise Christian, you’ll be sure to discipline yourself for godliness. You’ll know what pleases God, watch for Satan’s traps, resist the Devil, defeat temptation, and be selective about your behavior. In other words, you’ll not walk as a fool; you’ll walk in wisdom—living by God’s standards.


Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for His Son, the perfect example of spiritual discipline and godliness. Ask God to help you be like Him.


For Further Study

  • According to 1 Timothy 4:7, what is the purpose of spiritual discipline?
  • According to 2 Peter 1:3, what has God’s divine power granted us?



Acknowledging God's Sovereignty


"By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones" (Heb. 11:22).


God uses your present circumstances to accomplish His future purposes.

Like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Joseph was an heir to the covenant promises of God. His hope was firmly fixed on God, and he knew that some day his people would be at home in the Promised Land.


Although he spent all his adult life in Egypt, never seeing the Promised Land for himself, Joseph's faith never wavered. At the end of his life, he instructed his brothers to remove his bones from Egypt and bury them in their future homeland (Gen. 50:25). That request was fulfilled in the Exodus (Ex. 13:19).


But Joseph's faith wasn't in the promises of future events only, for his life was marked by exceptional trust in God and personal integrity. His understanding of God's sovereignty was unique among the patriarchs. Even though he suffered greatly at the hands of evildoers (including his own brothers, who sold him into slavery), Joseph recognized God's hand in every event of his life and submitted to His will.


Joseph said to his brothers, "Do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life . . . and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God" (Gen. 45:57-8). Later, after their father's death, he reassured them again: "Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place? And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to . . . preserve many people alive" (Gen. 50:19- 20).


The genius of Joseph's faith was understanding the role that present circumstances play in fulfilling future promises. He accepted blessing and adversity alike because he knew God would use both to accomplish greater things in the future.


Joseph is the classic Old Testament example of the truth that God works all things together for good to those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). That's a promise you can rely on too.


Suggestions for Prayer

Reaffirm your trust in God's sovereign work in your life.


For Further Study

Read of Joseph's life in Genesis 37-50.



The Sabbath and Deeds of Necessity


“But He said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone?’” (Matthew 12:3–4).


David the great king, psalmist, and warrior was a true hero of the Jews, even more so than the prophets and patriarchs were. Jesus here reminds the Pharisees of what happened when David and his men sought to escape the vengeful and jealous King Saul south of Gibeah. They asked for food when they came to the town where the tabernacle was located.


Ahimelech the priest gave David and his men the bread of the Presence because there was “no ordinary bread on hand” (1 Sam. 21:4). That consecrated bread was baked weekly, and each Sabbath day twelve new loaves (representing the twelve tribes of Israel) replaced the previous ones. Only the priests could eat these loaves.


On that unusual occasion, however, God allowed an exception for the sake of David and his companions, who were weakened by hunger. This exceptional action did not offend the Lord, and consequently He did not discipline either David or Ahimelech. It was better for the men to violate a ceremonial regulation if it was necessary to meet their basic needs.

If God allowed His people to sometimes disregard His own law in order to bene-fit their welfare, how could He not allow the purposeless and silly traditions of men and women to be broken so a work of necessity could take place?


Ask Yourself

How does this picture of a practical God square with your perception of Him? Are we sometimes protective and provincial about the name of God for reasons all our own—or perhaps as excuses for not dirtying our hands with human need?



Reading for Today:


Notes:

Psalm 132:10 A prayer that God’s promise and favor would not be withheld from David’s descendants on the throne of Judah. Your Anointed. As David had been anointed king (1 Sam. 16:13), so a greater King had been anointed, namely Christ, but not yet seated on the throne (Is. 61:1Luke 4:1819).


James 5:7 patient. The word emphasizes patience with people (1 Thess. 5:14), not trials or circumstances (as in 1:3). Specifically, James has in mind patience with the oppressive rich. the coming. The Second Coming of Christ. Realizing the glory that awaits them at Christ’s return should motivate believers to patiently endure mistreatment (Rom. 8:18). the early and latter rain. The “early” rain falls in Israel during October and November and softens the ground for planting. The “latter” rain falls in March and April, immediately before the spring harvest. Just as the farmer waits patiently from the early rain to the latter for his crop to ripen, so must Christians patiently wait for the Lord’s return (Gal. 6:92 Tim. 4:8Titus 2:13).


James 5:14 anointing him with oil. Literally, “rubbing him with oil”: 1) possibly this is a reference to ceremonial anointing (Lev. 14:18Mark 6:13); 2) on the other hand, James may have had in mind medical treatment of believers physically bruised and battered by persecution. Perhaps it is better to understand the anointing in a metaphorical sense of the elders’ encouraging, comforting, and strengthening the believer.

James 5:14,15 sick. James directs those who are “sick,” meaning weakened by their suffering, to call for the elders of the church for strength, support, and prayer.


James 5:15 prayer of faith. The prayer offered on their behalf by the elders. save the sick. Deliver them from their suffering because they have been weakened by their infirmity, not from their sin, which was confessed. committed sins…be forgiven. Not by the elders, since God alone can forgive sins (Is. 43:25Dan. 9:9Mark 2:7). That those who are suffering called for the elders implies they had a contrite, repentant heart, and that part of their time with the overseers would involve confessing their sins to God.


What warning does James give to the rich?

In James 5:1, he begins: “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you!” James condemns them not for being wealthy, but for misusing their resources. Unlike the believing rich in Timothy’s congregation (1 Tim. 6:17–19), these are the wicked wealthy who profess Christian faith and have associated themselves with the church, but whose real god is money.

“Indeed the wages…you kept back” (v. 4). The rich had gained some of their wealth by oppressing and defrauding their day laborers—a practice strictly forbidden in the Old Testament (Lev. 19:13Deut. 24:1415). 


The One who hears the cries of the defrauded laborers, James warns, is the Lord of hosts, the commander of the armies of heaven (angels). The Bible teaches that angels will be involved in the judgment of unbelievers (Matt. 13:39–414916:2725:312 Thess. 1:78).

“You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury” (v. 5). After robbing their workers to accumulate their wealth, the rich indulged themselves in an extravagant lifestyle .“Pleasure” has the connotation of wanton pleasure. “Luxury” leads to vice when a person becomes consumed with the pursuit of pleasure, since a life without self-denial soon becomes out of control in every area. Like fattened cattle ready to be slaughtered, the rich that James condemns had indulged themselves to the limit.


“You have condemned…murdered the just” (v. 6). This describes the next step in the sinful progression of the rich. Hoarding led to fraud, which led to self-indulgence. Finally, that overindulgence has consumed the rich to the point that they will do anything to sustain their lifestyle. “Condemned” comes from a word meaning “to sentence.” The implication is that the rich were using the courts to commit judicial murder (2:6).


GOD BLESS YOU, MY BELOVED ROYAL FAMILY

BLESSED BE 

LORD CHRIST JESUS

OUR KING AND SAVIOR. 


MAXIMILIANO


11/24/16


Playing the Fool


“Behold, I have played the fool” (1 Samuel 26:21).


A Christian should not act like a fool. 

In Deuteronomy 32:6 Moses looked out at the belligerent children of Israel who had failed God so many times and said, “Do you thus repay the Lord, O foolish and unwise people?” The children of Israel were playing the fool. Sadly, God’s people today continue to play the fool.


One way they do so is through disbelief. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus appeared to two disciples who didn’t believe that He had risen from the dead. Jesus said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25).  To disbelieve God and His Word is to play the fool.


Another way believers play the fool is through disobedience. In Galatians 3:1 the apostle Paul says, “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?” And in verse 3 he says, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” They started out well but were disobedient and got caught up in the works of the law.


Still another way Christians play the fool is through desire for the wrong thingsFirst Timothy 6:9 says, “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires.” If you desire the wrong things, you play the fool.


Finally, you can play the fool through doing the wrong thingsJames 3:1317 says that there are two kinds of wisdom. Godly wisdom produces “good behavior” (v. 13), but foolish wisdom produces “jealousy and selfish ambition” (v. 16). A self-centered person plays the fool.

It’s sad to see so many Christians playing the fool. It doesn’t make any sense. Why should Christians live as blind, ignorant, foolish people when they have the wisdom of God?

Paul says at the end of Romans, “I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil” (16:19). If you have to be a fool at all, be a fool (unknowing, unacquainted) about evil.


Suggestions for Prayer

Make Paul’s exhortation in Romans 16:19 your prayer.


For Further Study

Read Proverbs 2:1-22 as a reminder of what benefits you’ll receive from following true wisdom instead of playing the fool.



From Jacob to Israel


"By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped" (Heb. 11:21).


Jacob’s life typifies the spiritual pilgrimage from selfishness to submission.


Jacob's life can be outlined in three phases: A stolen blessing, a conditional commitment, and a sincere supplication.


From the very beginning it was God's intention to bless Jacob in a special way. But Jacob, whose name means "trickster," "supplanter," or "usurper," tricked his father into blessing him instead of his older brother, Esau (Gen. 27:1-29). As a result, Jacob had to flee from Esau and spend fourteen years herding flocks for his Uncle Laban.


As Jacob traveled toward Laban's house, God appeared to him in a dream (Gen. 28:10-22) and made him the recipient of the covenant promises first made to his grandfather, Abraham, then to his father, Isaac.

Jacob's response is revealing, for he "made a vow, saying, 'If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father's house in safety, then the Lord will be my God'" (vv. 20-21, emphasis added). Jacob's conditional vow said in effect, "God, if you'll give me what I want, I'll be your man."


Despite Jacob's selfish motives, God did bless him, but He humbled him too. By the time he left Laban's house, Jacob was ready to yield to God's will unreservedly. Note his change of heart in Genesis 32:10: "I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which Thou hast shown to [me]."


Then the Lord appeared in the form of a man and wrestled with Jacob all night (v. 24). Jacob refused to let Him go until he received a blessing. That wasn't a selfish request, but one that came from a heart devoted to being all God wanted him to be. That's when the Lord changed Jacob's name to "Israel," which means "he fights or persists with God."


Like Abraham and Isaac before him, Jacob never saw the fulfillment of God's covenant promises. Yet on his spiritual journey from Jacob to Israel, from selfishness to submission, he learned to trust God and await His perfect timing.


Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for grace to consistently pursue God's will, and patience to wait on His perfect timing.



Grainfields and the Sabbath


“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, ‘Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath’” (Matthew 12:1–2).


Keeping the Sabbath was still a binding ceremonial duty for the Jews of Jesus’ day, but most of them had little idea of God’s original purpose for the day. Instead of being a day of rest, it had become a day of burden with thousands of man-made restrictions. Ironically it became harder to “rest” than to work the other six days.

The Sabbath had ceased being a delight for people but had become oppressive and frustrating. They were undoubtedly tired of the unscriptural system imposed on the day and welcomed any proper teaching about the Sabbath.


It’s difficult to know what the Pharisees were doing in the fields this day, other than to be watchdogs over the human traditions of the Sabbath. Their accusation that Jesus’ disciples had broken the Sabbath law was simply wrong because it elevated human tradition to the level of God’s Word. Centuries of observing rabbinic ritual had given it the status of legitimate law in the legalistic minds of the Pharisees. They gave only lip service to Scripture and merely used it to justify their traditions, many of which “invalidated the word of God” (Matt. 15:6).

The Jewish leaders’ indictment of Jesus and His disciples on this occasion illustrates a desire to merely protect their distorted, man-made conventions. In that way it perverted God’s original purpose for the Sabbath, which was to give humanity a special day to rest and serve Him, not to deal with an exasperating list of regulations.

Ask Yourself

How do you deal with others’ expectations, even when you know they’re forcing unreasonable requirements on you? Do you fulfill them out of a need to be thought highly of? How does a person balance freedom with proper responsibility?



Reading for Today:


Notes:

Ezekiel 37:3 can these bones live? The many dry bones (v. 2) picture the nation Israel (v. 11) as apparently dead in their dispersion and waiting for national resurrection. The people knew about the doctrine of individual resurrection; otherwise, this prophecy would have had no meaning (1 Kin. 17; 2 Kin. 4; 13:21; Is. 25:826:19Dan. 12:2Hos. 13:14).


Ezekiel 37:4–6 Prophesy to these bones. Ezekiel is to proclaim God’s pledge to reassemble Israelites from the world and restore the nation of Israel to life (v. 5) and give them His Spirit (v. 14) in true salvation and spiritual life. Clearly, God is promising the resurrection of the nation of Israel and its spiritual regeneration (36:25–27).


James 4:4 friendship. Appearing only here in the New Testament, the Greek word describes love in the sense of a strong emotional attachment. Those with a deep and intimate longing for the things of the world give evidence that they are not redeemed (1 John 2:15–17). enmity with God. The necessary corollary to friendship with the world. The sobering truth that unbelievers are God’s enemies is taught throughout Scripture (Deut. 32:41–43Pss. 21:868:2172:9110:12Is. 42:13Nah. 1:28Luke 19:27Rom. 5:108:5–71 Cor. 15:25).


James 4:6 more grace. The only ray of hope in man’s spiritual darkness is the sovereign grace of God, which alone can rescue man from his propensity to lust for evil things. That God gives “more grace” shows that His grace is greater than the power of sin, the flesh, the world, and Satan (Rom. 5:20). The Old Testament quote (from Prov. 3:341 Pet. 5:5) reveals who obtains God’s grace—the humble, not the proud enemies of God. The word “humble” does not define a special class of Christians, but encompasses all believers (Is. 57:1566:2Matt. 18:34).


What do the 10 commands that fill James 4:7–10 have to do with grace?


These verses contain a series of 10 commands that prepare a person to receive saving grace. These commands delineate a person’s response to God’s gracious offer of salvation and reveal what it means to be humble. Each command uses a Greek imperative to define the expected action:


1. Submit to God (v. 7)—James used the word to describe a willing, conscious submission to God’s authority as sovereign ruler of the universe.


2. Resist the devil (v. 7)—those who consciously “take [their] stand against” Satan and transfer their allegiance to God will find that Satan “will flee from” them; he is a defeated foe.


3. Draw near to God (v. 8)—pursue an intimate love relationship with God (Phil. 3:10).


4. Cleanse your hands (v. 8)—the added term “sinners” addresses the unbelievers’ need to recognize and confess their sin (5:20).


5. Purify your hearts (v. 8)—cleansing the hands symbolizes external behavior; this phrase refers to the inner thoughts, motives, and desires of the heart (Ps. 24:34).


6. Lament (v.9)—to be afflicted, wretched, and miserable. This is the state of those truly broken over their sin (Matt. 5:4).


7. Mourn (v. 9)—the internal experience of brokenness over sin (Ps. 51:17Matt. 5:4).


8. Weep (v. 9)—the outward manifestation of inner sorrow over sin (Mark 14:72).


9. Grieve without laughter or joy (v. 9)—the signs of denial; the flippant laughter of those foolishly indulging in worldly pleasures without regard to God, life, death, sin, judgment, or holiness.


10. Humble yourself (v. 10)—this final command sums up the preceding 9. The word “humble” comes from a word meaning “to make oneself low.” Those conscious of being in the presence of the majestic, infinitely holy God are humble (Is. 6:5).


GOD BLESS YOU, MY BELOVED ROYAL FAMILY

BLESSED BE 

LORD CHRIST JESUS

OUR KING AND SAVIOR. 


MAXIMILIANO




12/23/19


Submitting to Christ as Lord


“God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name . . . that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:911).


To receive Christ as Savior is to submit to His authority as Lord.


Is Jesus Lord? According to the declaration of the Father, He is. We cannot know Him any other way than as Lord. 


That’s why the first creed in the history of the church, given in Philippians 2:11, says, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Every Christian must acknowledge that. It is the foundation of the Christian faith, the very substance of what we believe. 


We don’t make Him Lord after salvation. Every time I hear someone say, “You need to make Jesus Lord,” it is as repellent to me as hearing fingernails scraped down a blackboard. We never make Jesus Lord—God has already done that.

Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, and those who would receive Him must take Him for who He really is. 


Puritan John Flavel put it this way: “The gospel offer of Christ includes all his offices, and gospel faith just so receives him; to submit to him, as well as to be redeemed by him; to imitate him in the holiness of his life, as well as to reap the purchases and fruits of his death. It must be an entire receiving of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

In a similar vein, A.W. Tozer said, “To urge men and women to believe in a divided Christ is bad teaching, for no one can receive half of Christ, or a third of Christ, or a quarter of the Person of Christ! We are not saved by believing in an office nor in a work.” Jesus is Lord, and if you refuse Him as Lord, you cannot call Him Savior. 


If you have truly received Him, your life will be characterized by submission to His authority.


Suggestions for Prayer

Take time to acknowledge the lordship of Christ in your own life.


For Further Study

Read Romans 10:9-13.

  • What is a sinner to confess if he is to be saved?
  • According to 2 Corinthians 4:5, what message did Paul preach?



The Confirmation from God


"How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will" (Heb. 2:3-4).


God confirmed the truth of the gospel preached through Christ with many miracles.


When Jesus preached the gospel, He performed miracles that made what He said believable. He said, "Though you do not believe Me, believe the works" (John 10:38). Jesus claimed to be from God, then made it obvious He really was from God.


Nicodemus came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "No one can do these signs that You do unless God is with Him" (John 3:2). Jesus confirmed His ministry by His own miracles. Peter reiterated that fact on the day of Pentecost: "Jesus the Nazarene [was] a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs" (Acts 2:22).


God also gave these same confirming signs to His second generation of preachers—the apostles—so no one could dispute the validity of their message. What the apostles said was not their own opinion; it was divine truth substantiated by signs, wonders, and miracles.


Signs, wonders, and miracles are synonyms referring to all the supernatural things the apostles did. But the apostles also confirmed the Word with "gifts of the Holy Spirit." That's a reference to the temporary sign gifts described in Scripture, such as tongues and healings, not to the permanent edifying gifts given to the church for all time.


Today God attests to the gospel with the miracle of His written Word. Let it not be said that you neglected Jesus Christ. History confirms that hours of neglect cost Napoleon Waterloo. Neglecting Christ's salvation will cost you eternal blessing and joy and bring you damnation. Don't allow yourself to drift past God's grace.


Suggestion for Prayer

Thank God for His Word, and that through it you have all the truth you need to communicate the gospel.


For Further Study

Read Acts 5-19 and list all the miracles performed by the apostles to confirm the gospel.



God’s Kingdom Is Priceless


“‘. . . finding one pearl of great value’” (Matthew 13:46).


Job’s ancient description of humanity’s relentless quest for wealth sounds amazingly up-to-date:

Man puts an end to darkness, and to the farthest limit he searches out the rock in gloom and deep shadow. He sinks a shaft far from habitation, forgotten by the foot; they hang and swing to and fro far from men . . . Its rocks are the source of sapphires, and its dust contains gold. . . . He hews out channels through the rocks, and his eye sees anything precious. (Job 28:3–4610)


For all the efforts to mine and process precious metals and gems, none of those riches offers anything of lasting value (cf. Job 28:12–15212328).

The blessing of being a kingdom citizen—a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ—is truly priceless and more valuable than all the world’s greatest riches combined. 


That citizenship is so incomparable because it is “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away” (1 Peter 1:4). This heavenly inheritance includes the unsurpassed, divine spiritual blessings of forgiveness, love, peace, purity, righteousness, eternal life, and more.


Even with its priceless nature and ultimate value, God offers His kingdom to any person who surrenders all, repents, and trusts in Christ as Lord and Savior. Whatever values a man or woman has clung to in the past, God will happily exchange for the priceless kingdom treasure.


Ask Yourself

Are you in one of those phases of life in which Christianity feels like all cost and little return? Reflect today on the treasures of faith. Ask God to bring them to mind whenever you get discouraged or weary of the battle. They are worth much, much more than the price of admission.



Reading for Today:


Notes:

Nahum 1:11 wicked counselor. The phrase, literally, “counselor of Belial,” suggests satanic influence on the leadership, identified as the king of Assyria (3:18). Specific reference could be to Ashurbanipal (669–633 B.C.) or more likely to Sennacherib (705–681 B.C.), who invaded Judah in 701 B.C. and of whom Isaiah speaks in similar language (Is. 10:7).


Nahum 3:1 bloody city. The first accusation was a charge well documented in history. Assyria proved to be an unusually cruel, bloodthirsty nation. lies. Assyria employed falsehood and treachery to subdue her enemies (2 Kin. 18:28–32). robbery. Preying upon her victims, she filled her cities with the goods of other nations.


Revelation 12:3 great, fiery red dragon. The woman’s mortal enemy is Satan, who appears as a dragon 13 times in this book (v.9; 20:2).Red speaks of bloodshed (John 8:44). seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems. Figurative language depicting Satan’s domination of 7 past worldly kingdoms and 10 future kingdoms (Dan. 7:72024). Satan has and will rule the world until the seventh trumpet blows (11:15). He has inflicted relentless pain on Israel (Dan.8:24), desiring to kill the woman before she could bring forth the child that would destroy him.


Revelation 12:9 dragon was cast…to the earth. Satan and his demons were cast out of heaven at the time of their original rebellion, but still have access to it (Job 1:62:1). That access will then be denied, and they will be forever barred from heaven. Devil and Satan. “Devil” comes from a Greek verb meaning “to slander” or “to falsely accuse.” He is a malignant liar (John 8:441 John 3:8). 


His accusations against believers (v. 10) are unsuccessful because of Christ our Advocate (1 John 2:1). Satan, meaning “adversary” or “enemy,” appears especially in Job and the Gospels. deceives the whole world. As he has throughout human history, Satan will deceive people during the Tribulation (13:14; 20:3; John 8:44). After his temporary release from the bottomless pit at the end of the Millennium, he will briefly resume his deceitful ways (20:8, 10).


Who was the prophet Nahum, and how was his message related to the prophet Jonah?


The significance of the writing prophets was not their personal lives; it was their message. Thus, background information about the prophet from within the prophecy is rare. Occasionally one of the historical books will shed additional light. In the case of Nahum, nothing is provided except that he was an Elkoshite (1:1), referring either to his birthplace or his place of ministry. 


Attempts to identify the location of Elkosh have been unsuccessful. Suggestions include Al Qosh, situated in northern Iraq (thus Nahum would have been a descendant of the exiles taken to Assyria in 722 B.C.), Capernaum (“town of Nahum”), or a location in southern Judah (1:15). His birthplace or locale is not significant to the interpretation of the book.


Nahum forms a sequel to the Book of Jonah, who prophesied over a century earlier. Jonah recounts the remission of God’s promised judgment toward Nineveh, while Nahum depicts the later execution of God’s judgment. Nineveh was proud of her invulnerable city, with her walls reaching 100 feet high and with a moat 150 feet wide and 60 feet deep. 


But Nahum established the fact that the sovereign God (1:2–5) would bring vengeance upon those who violated His law (1:8, 14; 3:5–7). The same God had a retributive judgment against evil which is also redemptive, bestowing His loving kindnesses upon the faithful (1:7, 12, 13, 15; 2:2).The prophecy brought comfort to Judah and all who feared the cruel Assyrians. 


Nahum said Nineveh would end “with an overflowing flood” (1:8); and it happened when the Tigris River overflowed to destroy enough of the walls to let the Babylonians through. Nahum also predicted that the city would be hidden (3:11). After its destruction in 612 B.C., the site was not rediscovered until 1842 A.D.


GOD BLESS YOU, MY BELOVED ROYAL FAMILY.

BLESSED BE 

LORD CHRIST JESUS

OUR KING AND SAVIOR. 

 

MAXIMILIANO



12/22/19


Jesus Is Savior and Lord


“God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name . . . that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:911).


The Jesus who is Savior cannot be separated from the Jesus who is Lord.

Scripture never speaks of any human being’s making Jesus Lord. It is God who made Him Lord (Acts 2:36). Yet we often read statements such as this: “It is imperative to trust Christ as personal Savior and be born again. But that is only the first decision. 


Trusting Christ as Savior and then making Him Lord are two separate and distinct decisions. The two decisions may be close or distant in time. Salvation must always precede lordship. But it is possible to be saved without ever making Christ Lord of your life.” In effect that is saying Christ isn’t Lord unless we give Him permission—a completely unbiblical assertion. To be saved you must confess Jesus as Lord.


Jesus is called Lord throughout the New Testament. To omit the lordship of Christ from invitations to salvation would result in the elimination of numerous passages of Scripture. Peter’s sermon in Acts 2—“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21)—would need to be modified. Paul and Silas’ method of presenting the gospel—“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31)—would need to be corrected.


The centrality of the lordship of Christ is clear in the New Testament gospel. The Jesus who is Savior cannot be separated from the Jesus who is Lord. God cannot be separated from His authority, dominion, rulership, and right to command. When we acknowledge that Jesus is God, we mean He is all that God is.


Suggestions for Prayer

Worship the Lord Jesus Christ, using Psalm 8, a Messianic psalm, as the basis of your prayer.


For Further Study

Jesus is called Lord over 700 times in the New Testament. Use a Bible concordance as a handy way to check some of these many references to Christ as Lord.



The Certainty of Judgment


"If the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" (Heb. 2:2-3).


There is certain judgment for everyone who does not receive Christ as Savior and Lord.


Today the majority believes that God is a God of love and grace, but not of justice. One brief look at Hebrews 2:2-3 ought to convince anyone otherwise. The writer's point is this: Since the Old Testament makes it clear that transgression and disobedience met with severe and just punishment, how much more so will equal or greater punishment be rendered under the New Testament, which was revealed by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself?


Both the Old and New Testaments confirm that angels were instrumental in bringing the law (Deut. 33:2Acts 7:38). The law the angels spoke, primarily the Ten Commandments, was steadfast. That meant if someone broke the law, the law would break the lawbreaker. The law was inviolable; punishment for breaking it was certain.


"Every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense" (v. 2). Transgression refers to stepping across a line—a willful, purposeful sin. Disobedience, however, refers to imperfect hearing—the sin of shutting one's ears to the commands, warnings, and invitations of God. It is a sin of neglect or omission, doing nothing when something should be done.


Hebrews 2:2 also puts to rest the notion that God is not fair. The writer says every sin received a "just recompense." God, by His very nature, is just. Every punishment He meted out to those who defied Him was a deterrent to the sin He wanted to stop.


God severely punished the nation of Israel because they knew better. That leads to the important principle that punishment is always related to how much truth one knows but rejects. The person who knows the gospel, who has intellectually understood it and believed it, yet drifts away will experience the severest punishment of all.


Suggestion for Prayer

Ask God to give you an even greater appreciation of the punishment He has saved you from to motivate you to pursue the lost more vigorously.


For Further Study

Read Matthew 11:20-2412:38-42, and Luke 12:47-48 to discover Christ's attitude toward those who know the truth yet rebel against it.



God’s Kingdom Must Be Personally Appropriated


“‘The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again’” (Matthew 13:44).


Jesus’ concise but profound parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great value show us that, above all, we must personally appropriate God’s kingdom. People automatically at birth become members of their parents’ family and country, but such natural inheritance doesn’t apply regarding the kingdom.


Everyone is under God’s dominion because they live on the earth, which is under His sovereign control. And if unbelievers associate with believers, they can potentially enjoy many kingdom benefits. But if an unbeliever attends a biblical church, enjoys sound preaching, and gets baptized, he or she is not necessarily a kingdom citizen. More often than not, such are “sons of the kingdom [who] will be cast out into the outer darkness” where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:12)—in other words, they are not really children of God.


Paul reminds his readers, Jews in particular, “They are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants” (Rom. 9:6–7). Even during the Old Testament era one could be Jewish—fully identified with God’s people racially, nationally, and religiously—and still not be a member of the true spiritual Israel.

Similarly, you can be a member of a family that has had membership in a good church for many generations and yet not be part of Christ’s true church. Being born into a godly family does not make you a believer. Under the Spirit’s guidance, you must personally decide to trust Jesus as Lord and Savior.


Ask Yourself

Here toward the end of the year, settle this issue in your heart once and for all. You can live with the full assurance of your salvation by surrendering your life to Christ—repenting of your sins and believing in His sacrifice on your behalf. Don’t live another day unsure.



Reading for Today:


Notes:

Micah 6:6,7 Micah, as though speaking on behalf of the people, asked rhetorically how, in light of God’s faithfulness toward them, they could continue their hypocrisy by being outwardly religious but inwardly sinful.


Micah 6:8 Micah’s terse response indicated the people should have known the answer to the rhetorical question. Spiritual blindness had led them to offer everything except the one thing He wanted—a spiritual commitment of the heart from which right behavior would ensue (Deut. 10:12–19Matt. 22:37–39). 


This theme is often represented in the Old Testament (1 Sam.15:22Is. 1:11–20Jer. 7:21–23Hos. 6:6Amos 5:15).


Revelation 11:7 the beast. The first of 36 references to this person in Revelation, who is none other than the Antichrist (see chap. 13). That he will ascend out of the bottomless pit indicates that his power is satanic. kill them. Their ministry completed, God will withdraw the two witnesses’ supernatural protection. The beast will then be able to accomplish what many had died trying to do.


Revelation 11:13 earthquake. God punctuates the ascension of His prophets with a shattering earthquake. The destruction and loss of life may be primarily among the leaders of the Antichrist’s forces. the rest. This refers to the Jews still living, who will not yet have come to faith in Christ. gave glory to the God of heaven. A genuine experience of the salvation of Jews (Luke 17:1819), in contrast to those who blaspheme and refuse to glorify God (16:9). This makes a key fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy (12:10; 13:1) and Paul’s (Rom. 11:25–27).


Who are the “two witnesses” of Revelation 11?

In v. 3, John is told that “I will give power to my two witnesses.” These individuals are granted special power and authority by God to preach a message of judgment and salvation during the second half of the Tribulation. The Old Testament required 2 or more witnesses to confirm testimony (Deut. 17:619:15Matt. 18:16John 8:17Heb. 10:28), and these 2 prophets will be the culmination of God’s testimony to Israel: a message of judgment from God and of His gracious offer of the gospel to all who will repent and believe. “They will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days,” which is 42 months or 3 1/2 years, “clothed in sackcloth.” Coarse, rough cloth made from goat or camel hair. Wearing garments made from it expressed penitence, humility, and mourning. 


The witnesses are mourning because of the wretched wickedness of the world, God’s judgment on it, and the desecration of the temple and the holy city by the Antichrist.

The imagery in v. 4 is drawn from Zechariah 3, 4. Zechariah’s vision had both a near fulfillment (the rebuilding of the temple by Joshua and Zerubbabel) and a far future fulfillment (the 2 witnesses, whose ministry points toward Israel’s final restoration in the Millennium). “Two olive trees and the two lampstands.” 


Olive oil was commonly used in lamps; together the olive trees and lampstands symbolize the light of spiritual revival. The 2 witnesses’ preaching will spark a revival, just as Joshua’s and Zerubbabel’s did in Israel after the Babylonian captivity.

While it is impossible to be dogmatic about the identity of these 2 witnesses, several observations from vv. 5, 6 suggest they might be Moses and Elijah: 


1) like Moses, they strike the earth with plagues, and like Elijah, they have the power to keep it from raining; 


2) Jewish tradition expected both Moses (Deut. 18:15–18) and Elijah (Mal. 4:56) to return in the future (John 1:21); 


3) both Moses and Elijah were present at the Transfiguration, the preview of Christ’s Second Coming; 


4) both Moses and Elijah used supernatural means to provoke repentance; 


5) Elijah was taken up alive into heaven, and God buried Moses’ body where it would never be found; and 


6) the length of the drought the 2 witnesses bring (3 1/2 years) is the same as that brought by Elijah (James 5:17).


GOD BLESS YOU, MY BELOVED ROYAL FAMILY.

BLESSED BE 

LORD CHRIST JESUS

OUR KING AND SAVIOR. 

 

MAXIMILIANO





12/21/19


The Authority of Christ's Name


“God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:9-11).


Christ’s name shows Him to be sovereign ruler.


The name “Lord” is a New Testament synonym for Old Testament descriptions of Yahweh (the Old Testament name of God), which show God as sovereign ruler. It signifies rulership based on power and authority. Though it was always evident that Christ was the living Lord, it was in His exaltation that He was formally given the name Lord—a title that is His as the God-man. On earth He was known by many names, but now He bears the name that is above every name: Lord.


Philippians 2:10 doesn’t say at the name Jesus every knee should bow, but at the name ofJesus. The name of Jesus immediately bestowed by the Father was “Lord.” It is not the name Jesus that makes people bow—that’s the name of His incarnation—but the name Lord.


That the name mentioned in verse 9 is Lord is confirmed by Paul’s allusion to Isaiah 45:21-23, which says, “Is it not I, the Lord? And there is no other God besides Me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none except Me. Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.” God said through Isaiah that He is sovereign—the Lord of all. That is what Paul was referring to when he said that every knee would bow and every tongue confess (or admit) that Jesus Christ is Lord. Only God is Lord.


Suggestions for Prayer

In his prayer in Ephesians 1:17-23 Paul mentions that Christ’s name is above all other names (vv. 20-21). Use his prayer as a model when you pray for other believers.


For Further Study

Read the following verses: Luke 2:11John 13:13Acts 10:36Romans 14:9-111 Corinthians 8:6. What do they say about Jesus’ lordship?



Throwing out the Anchor


"For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it" (Heb. 2:1).


God’s Word is the anchor that will prevent people from drifting past the harbor of salvation.


While English explorer William Edward Parry and his crew were exploring the Arctic Ocean, they needed to go further north to continue their chartings. So they calculated their location by the stars and began a treacherous march.


After many hours they stopped, exhausted. After taking their bearings, they discovered they were now further south than when they started! They had been walking on an ice floe that was traveling faster south than they were walking north.


That is similar to the situation people who continue rejecting Christ find themselves in. Therefore Hebrews 2:1 says, "We must pay closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it."


Why would anyone knowingly reject Christ? He came into the world as God incarnate, died on a cross to forgive our sins, paid our penalty, showed us divine love, and gives us blessing and joy beyond imagination.


The Greek words translated "pay much closer attention to" and "drift away from" both have a nautical usage. The first means "to tie up a ship" and the second can be used of a ship that has been carelessly allowed to drift past the harbor because the sailor forgot to attend to the steerage or chart the wind, tides, and current. Hebrews 2:1 could be translated: "We must diligently anchor our lives to the things we have been taught, lest the ship of life drift past the harbor of salvation and be lost forever."


Most people don't deliberately turn their backs on God; they almost imperceptibly slip past the harbor of salvation and are broken on the rocks of destruction. Be sure you warn those you know who might be slipping past that harbor.


Suggestion for Prayer

Ask God to strengthen your resolve when you know you need to confront someone regarding his or her relationship with the Lord.


For Further Study

Memorize Proverbs 4:20-22 as your own reminder of how important it is to hold on to God's Word.



Parable of the Pearl of Great Value


“‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it’” (Matthew 13:45–46).


Pearls were the most highly valued gems in the ancient world, often purchased as investments, much like diamonds or precious metals are today. With pearls, a person could keep and conceal a great amount of wealth in a small space. The Jewish Talmud said the pearl was beyond the value of any set price, and that some ancients actually worshiped it.


Elsewhere the New Testament uses the pearl as a representation of something of immense value and worthy of protection. When the Lord warns believers not to throw pearls before swine (Matt. 7:6), He underscores the priceless value of the gospel and its corresponding truths, which unbelievers despise as worthless. The apostle John envisions the New Jerusalem as a glorious city with twelve gates of pearl, and more precisely “each one of the gates was a single pearl” (Rev. 21:21).


In this parable the merchant obviously considered the valuable pearl so precious and worth more than all his other pearls combined, because he no doubt included them in the sale of all his possessions, which he did to buy the one pearl. Jesus again illustrates the immense value of the kingdom of heaven and clearly implies that the merchant’s transaction was one involving his salvation. 


Purchasing the great pearl—the kingdom—represents obtaining God’s saving knowledge through trust in His Son, the Lord Jesus, and experiencing all the blessings which that relationship brings. It is another example of the greatest transaction any of us can make.


Ask Yourself

It’s really all about one thing, isn’t it—giving our hearts to Christ without limitation or restriction. Consider today how the rest of your life is lining up under the one priority of walking boldly with Jesus.



Reading for Today:


Notes:

Micah 4:1 In a reversal of 3:12, Micah shifted from impending judgment to prophecies of the future millennial kingdom (“the latter days”) in which Mt. Zion (v. 3), the center of Messiah’s coming earthly kingdom, shall be raised both spiritually and physically (Zech. 14:910). This discussion continues to 5:15.


Proverbs 30:11–14 There is a generation. These proverbs condemn various forms of unwise behavior and are connected with this common phrase which points to the fact that certain sins can uniquely permeate a whole society or time period.


Revelation 10:1 another mighty angel. Many commentators understand this to be Jesus Christ. But the Greek word translated “another” means one of the same kind, i.e., a created being. This is not one of the 7 angels responsible for sounding the trumpets (8:2), but one of the highest ranking in heaven, filled with splendor, greatness, and strength (5:2; 8:3; 18:1). rainbow. Perhaps God included this to remind John that, even in judgment, He will always remember His Noahic Covenant and protect His own. feet like pillars of fire. This angel’s feet and legs indicate the firm resolve with which he will execute the Day of the Lord.


Is the Bethlehem of Micah 5:2–4 the birthplace of Christ?

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel” (v. 2). This town south of Jerusalem was the birthplace of David and later Jesus Christ (1 Sam. 16; Matt. 2:5Luke 2:4–7). The name “Bethlehem” means “house of bread” because the area was a grain-producing region in Old Testament times. 


The name “Ephrathah” (“fruitful”) differentiates it from the Galilean town by the same name. The town, known for her many vineyards and olive orchards, was small in size but not in honor. “Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” This speaks of eternal God’s incarnation in the Person of Jesus Christ. It points to His millennial reign as King of kings (Is. 9:6).


“Therefore He shall give them up, until the time that she who is in labor has given birth” (v. 3). A reference to the interval between Messiah’s rejection at His First Advent and His Second Advent, during the times of the Gentiles when Israel rejects Christ and is under the domination of enemies. Regathering of the “remnant of His brethren” did not occur at the First Advent but is slated for the Second Advent (Is. 10:20–2211:11–16). 


Nor can “return” speak of Gentiles, since it cannot be said that they “returned” to the Lord. Rather, the context of 5:3, 4 is millennial and cannot be made to fit the First Advent. Thus, “she who is in labor” must denote the nation of Israel (Rev. 12:1–6).


Verse 4 clearly depicts the millennial rule of Christ, sitting upon the throne of David (Is. 6:1–3).


GOD BLESS YOU, MY BELOVED ROYAL FAMILY.

BLESSED BE 

LORD CHRIST JESUS

OUR KING AND SAVIOR. 

 

MAXIMILIANO



12/20/16


Christ's New Name


“God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:9).

God exalted Christ by giving Him a new name.


In today’s verse a question that arises is, What is the name that is above every name? To be consistent with Scripture, it has to be a name that goes beyond merely distinguishing one person from another. It has to be a name that describes Christ’s nature—revealing something of His inner being. Only such a name would cause Him to be clearly ranked above all others. Paul wasn’t referring to a comparative name, but a superlative name—one that would set Christ above and beyond all comparison.

Change of name in Scripture indicates the commencement of a unique relationship. 


When God established His covenant with Abram, He changed his name to “Abraham” (Gen. 17:5). When God entered into a unique relationship with Jacob, He gave Him the name “Israel” (Gen. 32:22-32). In the New Testament, Jesus called a man named Simon to follow Him, then gave him a new name: Peter (Matt. 16:18). Those names were given to mark a definite stage in a person’s life. 


God has done that throughout redemptive history. Philippians 2:9 affirms that God gave Christ a name. He already had many names—Jesus, Christ, Son of Man, Son of God, Messiah—but He received a new name.


Some assume that the new name is Jesus because verse 10 says, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow.” But that wasn’t a new name; it was bestowed at birth (see Matt. 1:21). Nor is the name Jesus above every other name (there have been a lot of people named Jesus). The only name mentioned in Philippians 2:9-11 that is above every name is Lord. 


In verse 11 Paul says, “Every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” That is the only name God gave Christ that is above every name. Whoever is Lord is in control.

Let us exalt Christ our Lord by offering Him praise and living a holy life.


Suggestions for Prayer

Thank Christ for being Lord of the universe as well as Lord of your life.

For Further Study

Read Psalm 2.

  • What are the key aspects?
  • Is everyone happy about Christ’s position?



A Warning to the Intellectually Convinced


"How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard" (Heb. 2:3).


Many people know the facts of the gospel but won’t make a commitment to it.


I will never forget a lady who came to my office, confessing that she was a prostitute and was desperate for help. I presented the claims of Christ to her and asked if she wanted to confess Christ as Lord of her life. She said yes and prayed, seemingly inviting Christ into her life.


Then I suggested that we burn her book of contacts. She looked at me incredulously and said, "What do you mean?" "If you want to live for Jesus Christ," I explained, "and you've truly accepted His forgiveness and embraced Him as Lord, then you need to prove it." "But that book is worth a lot of money," she said. "I don't want to burn it." After putting it back in her purse, she looked me right in the eye and said, "I guess I don't really want Jesus, do I?"


When it came to counting the cost, she wasn't ready. I don't know whatever became of her, but my heart aches for her and others like her.

I'm sure you know people like her—they know and believe that Christ is the Savior, they know they need Him, but they are unwilling to make a commitment to Him. Perhaps they even go to church and hear the Word of God. They are like the proverbial man who says he believes a boat will keep him afloat, but never sets foot in one.


Those people are the most tragic of all. They need to be warned—to be given a powerful shove toward Christ. May the Lord use you as His instrument for that purpose in the lives of many who are on the edge of a decision for Christ.


Suggestion for Prayer

Ask God to soften the hearts of people you know who understand the facts of the gospel, but haven't yet made a commitment to it.


For Further Study

Read Matthew 19:16-22. What kinds of questions should you ask of someone who appears eager to become a Christian?



Parable of the Hidden Treasure


“‘The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field’” (Matthew 13:44).


Palestine was a battleground for centuries; therefore families would commonly bury clothing, food, household valuables, money, and jewelry to protect them from plundering enemy soldiers. Josephus, the Jewish historian, wrote, “The gold and the silver and the rest of that most precious furniture which the Jews had and which the owners treasured underground was done to withstand the fortunes of war.” 


When the owners of such treasures died or departed the country, the valuables would be forever lost unless someone accidentally discovered them.


Given that history, this parable’s hidden treasure was probably long forgotten until the man found it as he passed through the field. The man was so joyful at his find that he was willing to sacrifice everything in order to possess it, the metaphor for God’s kingdom. That is the point of Jesus’ parable, not the ethics of what the man did, as some Christians wrongly suppose. 


Such observers think the man was unethi-cal not to have told the field’s owner about the treasure, since it rightfully belonged to him.

But the man was not unethical. First, he obviously knew the owner was not aware of the treasure or he would have first offered it to him. Second, rabbinic law said finders could keep what they found. Third, had the man been dishonest, he would have gone off with the treasure without any thought of buying the field. But he realized that a field with treasure—the kingdom—was so valuable that he sold all else to obtain it. Nothing is more important for us than possessing that treasure also.


Ask Yourself

What treasures of the kingdom have you stumbled upon recently? When you see them, what are you motivated to forsake in order to more fully and consistently experience the power, joy, and freedom of living in pure fellowship with God?



Reading for Today:


Notes:

Micah 2:7 Spirit of the LORD. God responded to the evil prophets that their message affirming sin in the nation was inconsistent with the Holy Spirit and His true message to Micah (3:8). God’s words do reward the righteous, but they also rebuke those engaging in evil deeds.


Micah 2:6–11 False prophets, commanding Micah to cease prophesying, would certainly not prophesy against the people’s evil doing. They would not confront them with the divine standard of holiness. Rather, their false message (v. 7) had stopped the mouths of the true prophets and had permitted the rulers to engage in social atrocities (vv. 8, 9), leading the people to destruction (v. 10). They didn’t want true prophecies; therefore, they got what they wanted (Is. 30:10). It is best to understand that Micah speaks in v. 6 and God in vv. 7–11.


Revelation 9:3 locusts. A grasshopper-like insect that descends in swarms so thick they can obscure the sun and strip bare all vegetation. In the 1950s a locust swarm devoured every growing thing for several hundred thousand square miles in the Middle East. These are not normal locusts, however, but specially prepared ones that are merely the outward form of demons, who, like locusts, will bring swarming desolation (Joel 2:1–5). “Like” appears 9 times in John’s description. He finds it difficult to describe what he sees in a way the reader can understand. scorpions. 


An arachnid that inhabits warm, dry regions and has an erect tail tipped with a venomous stinger. A scorpion’s victim often rolls on the ground in agony, foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth in pain. The demons in locust form are able to inflict the physical—and perhaps, spiritual—pain like the scorpion (v. 5).


Revelation 9:11 Abaddon,…Apollyon. Although locusts normally have no king (Prov. 30:27), these demonic creatures do. His name in both Hebrew and Greek means “destroyer.” There is a hierarchy of power among the demons, just as among the holy angels. Apparently, “the angel of the bottomless pit” is one of Satan’s most trusted leaders or possibly Satan himself.


Who was the prophet Micah, and what was his message?

The first verse establishes Micah as the author. Beyond that, little is known about him. His parentage is not given, but his name suggests a godly heritage. He traces his roots to the town of Moresheth (1:1, 14), located in the foothills of Judah, approximately 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem, on the border of Judah and Philistia, near Gath. 


From a productive agricultural area, he was like Amos, a country resident removed from the national politics and religion, yet chosen by God (3:8) to deliver a message of judgment to the princes and people of Jerusalem.

Primarily, Micah proclaimed a message of judgment to a people persistently pursuing evil. Similar to other prophets (Hos. 4:1Amos 3:1), Micah presented his message in lawsuit/courtroom terminology (1:2; 6:1, 2). 


The prophecy is arranged in 3 oracles or cycles, each beginning with the admonition to “hear” (1:2; 3:1; 6:1). Within each oracle, he moves from doom to hope—doom because they have broken God’s law given at Sinai; hope because of God’s unchanging covenant with their forefathers (7:20). One-third of the book targets the sins of his people; another third looks at the punishment of God to come; and another third promises hope for the faithful after the judgment. 


Thus, the theme of the inevitability of divine judgment for sin is coupled together with God’s immutable commitment to His covenant promises. The combination of God’s 1) absolute consistency in judging sin and 2) unbending commitment to His covenant through the remnant of His people provides the hearers with a clear disclosure of the character of the Sovereign of the universe. Through divine intervention, He will bring about both judgment on sinners and blessing on those who repent.


GOD BLESS YOU, MY BELOVED ROYAL FAMILY.

BLESSED BE 

LORD CHRIST JESUS

OUR KING AND SAVIOR. 

 

MAXIMILIANO




12/20/19


Christ's Coronation and Intercession


“God highly exalted Him” (Philippians 2:9).

Christ is the Sovereign of the universe and a faithful High Priest.

Christ was exalted not only in His resurrection and ascension, but also in His coronation. Mark 16:19 says, “When the Lord Jesus had spoken to [the apostles], He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.” In Scripture the right hand is a symbol of power and authority. What is the extent of Christ’s authority? Ephesians 1:20-22 says, “[God] seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church.” Christ is the Sovereign of the universe.

Besides His coronation, Christ is exalted in His intercession for believers. He stands before the Father as the High Priest of His people. His first act was to send the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33). Our sympathetic High Priest “has been tempted in all things as we are” (Heb. 4:15), and “He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for [us]” (7:25). Christ’s intercessory work grants us faith, repentance, and forgiveness (see Heb. 4—9).

Puritan minister Thomas Watson said, “Had you a friend at court, who, when you were questioned for delinquency or debt, should plead with the judge for you, and bring you off your troubles, would you not love that friend? How often does Satan put in his bills against us in the court! Now Christ is at the judge’s hand; he sits at his Father’s right hand, ever to plead for us, and to make our peace with God. Oh, how should our hearts be fired with love to Christ!”

How intense is your love for Jesus Christ, our faithful Advocate?

Suggestions for Prayer

“Draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that [you] may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). Pray for a fresh appreciation of this today.

For Further Study

What do 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Hebrews 2:17 say about Christ as our High Priest?


PART II


The Lover of Righteousness


"'Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy companions'" (Heb. 1:8-9).

As the eternal God and King, Christ loves righteousness and hates lawlessness.

In these days it's difficult for us as Christians to be totally supportive of our governmental leaders when we see so much of what God calls righteous compromised or ridiculed. But the King of kings—Christ Himself—is the only leader who has a perfectly right attitude toward righteousness.

Christ rules from an eternal throne, and He rules eternity as God and King. The scepter He holds is symbolic of His rule, particularly as a rule of righteousness.

But there's more to it than that: He just doesn't act righteously; He loves righteousness itself. How often have we obeyed without joy, expressing an attitude of willing condescension? But Jesus gives us a different model.

James 1:17 says, "Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow." True righteousness never varies from what is true, just, and good. And 1 John 1:5 says, "God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all." God is total light and total righteousness. Everything Jesus did resulted from His love of righteousness.

Because Christ loves righteousness, He hates lawlessness. Since He loves what is right, He must hate what is wrong. The two are inseparable—one cannot exist without the other. You cannot truly love righteousness and also like sin. When there is true love for God, there will also be true love for righteousness and total hatred of sin.

The more you and I become conformed to Jesus Christ, the more we will love righteousness. Our attitudes toward righteousness and sin will ultimately reveal how closely we are conformed to Christ. Check out your attitudes and actions. How are you doing?

Suggestion for Prayer

Like the psalmist, ask God to show you any hurtful way in you (Ps. 139:24).

For Further Study

Read Psalm 119 and note how many times the psalmist makes reference to either his love for God's law or righteousness.


PART III


The Mustard Seed, Part 1


“‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches’” (Matthew 13:31–32).

Even though the Lord Jesus in this parable speaks accurately about the size of the mustard seed and the size and use of its tree-like adult form, His purpose in the illustration is proverbial, not scientific. In context of His teachings about the kingdom of God, the parable’s meaning is self-evident—the kingdom, though now seemingly small and insignificant, will one day grow into a large body of believers.

Even with Jesus ministering on earth, God’s kingdom was almost imperceptible, both because its citizens were few and it was spiritual (invisible). Elsewhere the Lord explained it well: “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst” (Luke 17:20–21). When Christ ascended to heaven, the kingdom on earth was, figuratively and relatively speaking, very small (cf. Acts 1:15).

But the kingdom that began smaller than a mustard seed will grow larger and larger. The Old Testament writers knew that eventually the Lord would “rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth” (Ps. 72:8). They rightly foresaw that all sorts of people, from all stations in life, would honor Messiah, bow down to Him, and serve Him (vv. 9–11). With the apostle, we will one day see the grand culmination: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).

Ask Yourself

Are you currently involved in something for Christ that seems small in comparison with others’ ministries or talent bases? Be sure that your Lord is the master at taking the seemingly insignificant and transforming it for mighty kingdom purposes.


PART IV


Reading for Today:

Notes:

Amos 6:10 one who will burn. This could refer to cremation, demanded by the excessive number killed and because of fear of epidemics. With rare exceptions (1 Sam. 31:12), corpses were buried in ancient Israel. dare not mention… the LORD. Previously welcomed as a friend, the Lord came in judgment as a foe. Survivors would not want to invoke His name out of fear.

Psalm 142:1–7 Under the same circumstances as Psalm 57 (according to the superscription), David recounted his desperate days hiding in the cave of Adullam (1 Sam. 22:1) while Saul sought him to take his life (1 Sam. 18–24). It appears that David’s situation, for the moment at least, seems hopeless without God’s intervention. Psalm 91 provides the truths that bring the solution.

Revelation 5:1 a scroll written inside and on the back. This is typical of various kinds of contracts in the ancient world, including deeds, marriage contracts, rental and lease agreements, and wills. The inside of the scroll contained all the details of the contract, and the outside—or back—contained a summary of the document. In this case it almost certainly is a deed—the title deed to the earth (Jer. 32:7ff.). sealed with seven seals. Romans sealed their wills 7 times—on the edge at each roll—to prevent unauthorized entry. Hebrew title deeds required a minimum of 3 witnesses and 3 separate seals, with more important transactions requiring more witnesses and seals.


DAY 15: Describe the worship in Revelation 5.

“The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp” (v. 8). These ancient stringed instruments not only accompanied the songs of God’s people (1 Chr. 25:6Ps. 33:2), but also accompanied prophecy (1 Sam. 10:5).The 24 elders, representative of the redeemed church, played their harps in praise and in a symbolic indication that all the prophets had said was about to be fulfilled. “Each having…bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” These golden, wide-mouth saucers were common in the tabernacle and temple. Incense was a normal part of the Old Testament ritual. Priests stood twice daily before the inner veil of the temple and burned incense so that the smoke would carry into the Holy of Holies and be swept into the nostrils of God. That symbolized the people’s prayers rising to Him. Specifically, these prayers represent all that the redeemed have ever prayed concerning ultimate and final redemption. This becomes a major theme throughout the book (11:17, 18; 13:7, 9, 10; 14:12; 16:6; 17:6; 18:20, 24; 19:8; 20:9).

“And they sang a new song” (v. 9). The Old Testament is filled with references to a new song that flows from a heart that has experienced God’s redemption or deliverance (14:3; Pss. 33:396:1144:9).This new song anticipates the final, glorious redemption that God is about to begin. “For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood.” The sacrificial death of Christ on behalf of sinners made Him worthy to take the scroll.


LORD BLESS HIS ELECT

My Royal Family


LOVINGLY IN THE LOVE OF OUR LORD JESUS

E+1DAY

Comments