“For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12).
It was as a prisoner that the Apostle Paul penned these dramatic words intended to provide encouragement for his son in the faith, the young evangelist Timothy, as he went about doing the work Paul had assigned him.
The faith Paul proclaims in this verse easily divides itself into two parts: a firm belief in God and a decided action on the part of the apostle. Paul’s faith was so solid that he never wavered; and with that faith, he had the confidence he could face any challenge with which he was confronted.
And Paul’s faith was not passive: in fact, as scripture records his life as a Christian, it lays out for us a person who committed much to the Lord and His Cause—Paul laid up for himself an abundance of spiritual treasurers in his work as an apostle and an evangelist, thus leaving us a pattern for service to the Master.
“Great peace have those who love your law, And nothing causes them to stumble” (Psalm 119:165).
Context is everything when we are seeking to understand the true meaning of scripture, and this passage is no exception. Two critical points come out of this verse: finding peace with God and maintaining a relationship with Him.
The psalmist minces no words for either of these points. Simply put, we find “great” peace by loving God’s law. Of course, a love for God’s law, by the very nature of the statement, includes following the instruction found in it. So, peace with God comes when we obey His Word.
The wording about maintaining a relationship with God could cause some to have a false sense of security. It cannot mean we can do nothing to disrupt our relationship with God; otherwise, much of the teaching in the New Testament is foolish and unnecessary.
It can mean that, through loving God’s law and internalizing it within our hearts and minds, we can develop a strong faith. This strong faith, then, becomes a spiritual fortress against giving in to Satan’s wiles and doing things that will break our relationship with God.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).
The blazing mark of distinction for a true child of God is that he has a deep, abiding
love for other people. In scripture, the command to love is not conditional, based on
the actions or reactions of others: it is absolute, even for those who don’t care for us
or who treat us badly.
This love is not the kind that refers to passion nor is it the kind that refers to familial
relationships. Rather, it is the kind that reaches to that lofty level of deep concern
for the welfare of others: it encompasses the idea of “self-sacrifice, self-denial, and
self-devotion.” John speaks of this kind of love in this passage.
Love is not a condition for obeying the gospel, but it is a condition for attaining the
goal of every devoted Christian: heaven. John says only a truly converted Christian
can demonstrate the kind of love he is talking about, for it is the embodiment of all
that God is and for all that He did in giving Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).
Looking at this verse alone fails to yield the desperation of the message the writer intends in view of the crisis that was facing Jews who had been converted to Christ. Persecution had pointed some toward the direction of returning to Judaism.
The writer emphasizes the need for a firm commitment to the Cause they had espoused: he says stay with your confession of Jesus as God’s Son, remember the hope of eternal life in heaven, and don’t leave the faith in spite of the persecution.
Such encouragement is appropriate at any time, but it seems especially appropriate during a time of crisis such as we are encountering now. Within the heart of every Christian, there needs to be a firm voice saying that regardless of what happens, we will keep the faith. After all, God will keep His promise of a home with Him if we remain faithful.
“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16).
Written to Christians surrounded by the false teaching of the Gnostics, this passage gives a passionate presentation of the love relationship we are to have with God. He loves us because He is love, and we are to abide in Him if we truly love Him.
The Gnostics aggressively promoted the idea that true Christianity needed far more than the gospel Jesus offered if one wanted to find God. The gospel was okay, but it just wasn’t enough; thus, John writes this message to cultivate the idea that the Gnostics are wrong.
The gracious, sacrificial love of God, even for sinful mankind, underlies all that He has done for us, even though our finite minds cannot fully understand that kind of love.
The highest revelation and the most complete proof of that love is the offer of redemption. That offer stands today, as it has through the past two thousand years, just waiting for us to reciprocate in kind.
“A highway shall be there, and a road,
And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness.
The unclean shall not pass over it.
But it shall be for others
Whoever walks the road, although a fool,
Shall not go astray” (Isaiah 35:8).
In prophesying about the change from the old system of the Law of Moses to the new Gospel system, Isaiah pictures some positive, wonderful aspects of the new system that are designed to give all people something to look forward to—regardless of race, social standing, or intellectual capacity.
The prophet says the Gospel Age is for those whose sincere desire is to find and please God—to live a life of faithfulness and purity—to “walk the road.” The “unclean,” those not willing to live pure and upright lives, will either not find it or will not stay with it.
The most wonderful aspect of this Highway of Holiness is that there is within the heart of every responsible person the potential for traveling thereon. It is a highway paved with a look toward better things spiritually—faith, hope, love—and toward the promise of a home with God in eternity.
“Do not enter the path of the wicked,
And do not walk in the way of evil.
Avoid it, do not travel on it;
Turn away from it and pass on” (Proverbs 4:14-15).
Whereas a few months ago most had never heard the term Social Distancing, it has become a way of life during the current distress in which we find ourselves involved—the coronavirus has taken control of our lives, for the most part.
In this passage, the preacher introduces a concept that has far more lasting significance for us than Social Distancing. If ever a passage gave sound advice about what our attitude toward the world around us should be, this is the one—it teaches us about Spiritual Distancing.
We have a tendency to look for absolutes—we want direct commands against doing something before we will take it seriously. Without a direct command, human tendency is to rationalize ourselves into thinking something is okay or, at least, to look for a way of escape so that we can do what we want to .
This passage abolishes that idea. It puts another layer between us and sin: it says don’t even flirt with the idea of sin nor even get close to it. The preacher says avoid it, turn away from it, and just pass it by. In other words, our place with God in eternity is far more important than anything this world has to offer.
“For You have been a strength to the poor,
A strength to the needy in his distress,
A refuge from the storm
A shade from the heat;
For the blast of the terrible ones is a storm against the wall” (Isaiah 25:4).
The prophet praises God for the wonderful things He has done for His people in the past: He has been a strength, a refuge, a shade, and a protection. In other words, He has upheld the oppressed when they needed Him the most.
While God’s method of operation is different in the Christian Age, we can take great comfort in this scripture from the Old Testament as well as from several in the New Testament that assure us of God’s continuing concern for His people.
When storms of life come upon us living in this Age, we have the promises of His word and the awareness of His love to bring us comfort and to give us inner strength when life can seem to be overwhelming. With a knowledge of God embedded deeply into our hearts, we can withstand any storm this life throws into our pathway.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21).
Mastering the use of our tongue is one of the greatest feats any person—and especially any Christian—can accomplish. Our tongue is a powerful tool in the treasure chest of our life.
Unbridled and careless use of our tongue can bring about the destruction of relationships we have taken years to build or the destruction of great ideas or projects people have invested enormous amounts of time to plan and execute. Figurative death is the result.
Disciplined and careful use of our tongue, on the other hand, can be a vibrant force in forging relationships that will last a lifetime or in pushing forward ideas that can result in more good than we could ever imagine. Figurative life is the result.
Each of us must live with the fruit of how we use our tongue: either we will be an agent for bad, wreaking destruction, division, or unpleasantness around us—or we will be an agent for good that makes the world around us a better place.
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may import grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).
Paul’s words here are direct and absolute as he writes one of his most positive epistles to this church. Their communication is not to be on the lower level of coarseness but on the higher level of spiritual and moral encouragement.
“Corrupt” means words that are rotten; that is, they are bad or of poor quality. Words of this nature provide unwholesome conversation. “Good” refers to words that are “upright, honorable, and acceptable to God.”
The purpose of this instruction about the everyday conversation of Christians is to encourage the use of wholesome words that will contribute to the edification of those around us, building them up as followers of Jesus