I have not departed

FaithfulnessMany have abandoned the truth of the gospel. Others, upon learning of original Christianity according to the New Testament, have refused to follow Jesus and remained in their way of perdition. Even in the midst of suffering, Job maintained his commitment to God’s commandments.

I have not departed from the commands of His lips;
I have treasured the words of His mouth
more than my daily food.
Job 23:12 HCSB Continue reading “I have not departed”

By telling you the truth

People of the world think the truth is too hard to tell others. So they don’t tell a dying person, for example, that he has little time left to live. They deprive the person of taking advantage of his last days on earth and preparing himself for eternity.

So then, have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Galatians 4:16 NET

Telling the truth to one needing to hear it is to be a friend. Paul saw the Galatians abandoning the gospel and losing their salvation. He had to tell them the true situation, so that something worse would not happen to them, the loss of God’s grace.

Ignoring the truth never contributes to a solution.

He who loves, tells the truth.

With knife and cheese in hand

Brazilians have a phrase to talk about someone with every advantage. They say the person has both the knife and the cheese in hand. Much like we’d say a person is in the catbird seat. Someone with the upper hand.

Jesus Christ has the Spirit without restriction, and because of this he speaks the words of the Father, from whom he has received all things. He therefore needs nothing, and owes nothing to no one.

For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.
John 3:34-35 ESV

In Christ, the Father has concentrated all his effort, has delivered everything in his hands. Why, then, do people run to lesser beings to ask a blessing, to seek grace? The list of such beings is long and wouldn’t fit in a short meditation like this, but it’s worth noting that, if another figure appears on the religious radar, that religion doesn’t have God’s approval.

If Jesus has been given everything by the Father, all others are left with nothing.

 

Exclusive and total commitment

In marriage, a man and woman abandon their interests in other people to dedicate themselves exclusively and totally to each other. When God becomes our Lord, something similar happens. This was true of Israel, and Moses’ words apply to Christ’s people today:

Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you except to revere him, to obey all his commandments, to love him, to serve him with all your mind and being.
Deut. 10:12 NET

Many call themselves Christians, many say they’re religious, but it’s all in vain if they do not serve God above all others and with all their being. It’s just a lie to think that one can conduct one’s life as others do and still receive God’s approval.

It must be said that, as the Israelites did, many play at religion. They don’t take God’s word seriously. They don’t know his will. They impose on the Lord their own ideas. They carry God in their pocket and pull him out only when it serves their desires. Maybe they say a little prayer now and again, or do some good work sometime, but their life as a whole is dedicated to a home-made idol. They obey only those divine laws they find convenient.

So the great question is: Does the Bible verse above describe my life? Or the previous paragraph?

Lord God of Israel and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, make me to discover my duties toward you. Teach me to fear and love you.

Church presidents, names, pajamas

A denomination here exists called “The Church of Christ in Brazil.” My translation, literal. Today, a follower on my church Twitter account wrote to ask if we were “in Brazil” or “of Brazil,” from the one that had a certain pastor as president. I wrote to say that I never read in the New Testament about the church having a president.

Just goes to demonstrate that you can’t say “church” with anything attached to it without people thinking in denominational terms. I usually avoid it. On the Internet, however, I’ve used “church of Christ,” among other descriptions, so brethren can locate us. I’m not so sure that it’s a good trade-off, though. Continue reading “Church presidents, names, pajamas”

The ultimate test question

Now an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Luke 10:25 NET

The ultimate test is getting the right answer to this question. The expert, above all people and more than all issues, should have had the answer on the tip of his tongue. He wanted, however, to harm Jesus. Our Lord wanted to bless him with life through this question.

Only the “honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15) will find eternal life, and not the one who wants to justify himself (Luke 10:29).

When, like the expert, you stand up, let it be to get eternal life, rather than escaping the responsibility to confess Jesus as Lord and obey him in everything. Let it be to love God totally, and your neighbor as yourself.

Translated from the Portuguese-language devotional “Deus Conosco”, following the 2011 New Testament reading schedule. Join us!

What do you want?

Text: Matthew 20

Memorize: “He said to her, ‘What do you want?'” Matthew 20:21 NET

In two stories in sequence, Jesus asks people what they want. In the first, he asks “the mother of the sons of Zebedee [who] came to him with her sons, and kneeling down she asked him for a favor” (v. 20). And no small favor at that! In the second, two blind men cry for mercy, so he asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” (v. 32), as if he didn’t know already.

He denies the first, while he grants the blind men’s desires. With his questions about what they want, he shows both his willingness to consider the requests, at the same time indicating that he doesn’t fill in blank checks. Continue reading “What do you want?”

Causing little ones to sin (Matt 18.6)

Text: Matthew 18

Memorize: “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a huge millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the open sea.” Matthew 18:6 NET

Eternal life matters more than any other thing in this life (verse 8). Whoever causes another, more spiritually fragile and weaker in faith, to lose eternal life will be held responsible and will suffer dire consequences.

It is possible to make someone sin by arrogance (verses 1-5) and, in a way, by omission (verses 10-14) that fails to confront and admonish (verses 15-17). Continue reading “Causing little ones to sin (Matt 18.6)”

Leave them alone (Matthew 14.15)

Text: Matthew 15

Memorize: And he replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father did not plant will be uprooted. Leave them! They are blind guides. If someone who is blind leads another who is blind, both will fall into a pit.” Matthew 15:13-14 NET

The subject: tradition above God’s commandments. The targets: Pharisees and scribes. The issue: breaking God’s commandments.

When this Jerusalem commission charged Jesus with breaking the ancient traditions, Jesus turned the tables on them and charged them with breaking God’s commandment because of their traditions. In the ensuing explanation and Jesus’ announcement to the crowds that contamination occurred from what came out of a man’s mouth and not what went into it, the disciples saw how deeply the Pharisees and scribes were offended. Continue reading “Leave them alone (Matthew 14.15)”