May 29, 2022

The Perils of Anger

“But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment” (Matthew 5:22). Read Matthew 5:21-26. Though it may not seem like it at first, the Torah or Law, which is comprised of the first five books of the Bible, was a precious gift to the people of Israel. God’s law teaches us how to live in a manner pleasing to God—a manner that is also for our good. It also points us to our need for a Savior since none of us can keep His commands perfectly. But the law also reveals something else: the very heart of God. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus brought the Truth home, clarifying the heart of God. Beginning with the commandment not to murder, Jesus shocked His listeners by declaring that the sin of selfish anger is tantamount to murder. How can that be? Because that’s where murder starts—in a person’s heart. Murder […]
May 22, 2022

The Goodness of the Law

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). Read Matthew 5:17-20. Many people today want to believe that morality can be democratized, that if enough people believe some perverse action is acceptable that it will no longer be immoral. But that is not how the universe works. In the end, there is only one opinion that matters. There is only one Judge. His name is the Lord God Almighty. And He requires nothing short of perfect obedience to His laws and commandments. Friends, this is why Jesus came. He came to authenticate, to fulfill, and to complete the Commandments (see Matthew 5:17). Jesus is the only man who was able to keep all of the Ten Commandments all of the time. He came to show us that the Law actually points to Him. In fact, the entire Old Testament directs our […]
May 15, 2022

The Power of Light

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14). Read Matthew 5:14-16. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told His disciples, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). What did He mean by that? He meant: Your light should shatter the darkness. Your light should lead others to Christ. Your light should expose error and lead people to the Truth. Someone may say, “My faith is very private,” but that is not Biblical faith. True faith in Jesus is visible. It’s meant to be a light—and it’s meant to be a light for the world. Your light must shine in the marketplace, on the factory floor, in the boardroom, at the office, on your school campus. Wherever you go, there goes the light—because you are the light. When people see someone who is loving and forgiving, joyful and generous, they take notice. When they see someone who is […]
May 8, 2022

The Value of Salt

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot” (Matthew 5:13). Read Matthew 5:13. When Jesus declared to the gathered crowds, “You are the salt of the earth,” it was a shocking statement. He was telling His followers—common people like fishermen and day laborers—that they were of supreme value. You see, Jesus had just finished delivering the beatitudes—eight steps to spiritual blessing (see Matthew 5:3-12). And so, when he started talking about salt, He was talking about people who embodied the beatitudes. Though the world could not see it, these people were incredibly valuable. Their greatest asset was their spiritual bankruptcy. Their greatest passion was mourning over their sin. Their greatest accomplishment was their meekness. Their best response to evil was to be merciful and make peace. Their appetite was for righteousness. Their […]
May 1, 2022

Lessons on Forgiveness

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14). As we read through the last words of Jesus on the cross and discover His heart, His character, and His love for each of us—how are we to be changed? First, we should be encouraged to approach Him in bold assurance that His grace is sufficient to cover and forgive your sins. There is no debt you could owe that Jesus, the once-for-all sacrifice, has not paid in full. Second, we do not wait to “feel” like forgiving others when we have been wronged. Forgiveness is a decision of the will. When we honor God with our will, He will bring our emotions into line accordingly. Finally, the Bible teaches us that to whom much is given, much is required. We have received forgiveness from God, and He requires us to forgive others. “Bear with each other and forgive one […]
April 24, 2022

Into Your Hands

“Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God” (Psalm 31:5). “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last” (Luke 23:46). This prayer is profound in its simplicity because it indicates a willingness to deposit the most precious thing, the most prized possession, in the safest place of all. This sixth statement from the cross is an example of Christ’s complete confidence in His Father. The word commit in this verse literally means to go and leave something somewhere and walk away from it, knowing full well, with absolute confidence and trust, that when you come back, it will be there. When Jesus cried out, “[I]nto your hands I commit my spirit,” His hands were fastened to that rugged wooden cross. The hands of wicked, evil men nailed Him to that cross. In Matthew 17:22, Jesus warned His disciples, “The […]
April 17, 2022

I Thirst

“Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life’” (John 4:13-14). With his last breath, Thomas Hobbes, the self-confessed atheist, said, “I am taking a fearful leap in the dark.” On his deathbed the French agnostic Voltaire sadly spoke these words: “I am abandoned by God and man! . . . I shall go to hell.” In contrast to these two men, who died without Christ, is Christian evangelist Dwight L. Moody, whose last words were: “Is this dying? Why this is bliss. There is no valley. I have been within the gates. Earth is receding; heaven is opening; God is calling; I must go.” For believers, the moment we take our last breath is the first moment we will draw in the heavenly air of our new […]
April 11, 2022

One Lost Sheep

“Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep’” (Luke 15:6). In Luke 15:1-7, Jesus shares the parable of the lost sheep to further reveal the heart of God to us. In it we see that God’s love is so merciful and personal that He notices and pursues even one erring sheep. How amazing that our God is intimately concerned with those who have strayed from His fold. In the parable, when the shepherd finds his sheep in Luke 15:5, “he joyfully puts it on his shoulders” and carries the sheep all the way home. The shepherd never sets the sheep down but carries the entire burden on his strong shoulders. Likewise, Christ stands ready to take on all our burdens, whether physical infirmities, heartbreaks, or worries. He has shoulders capable of bearing any weight we are willing to give up to Him. Your burdens become His burdens as you rest in Him. Christ pursues us, saves us, carries […]
April 4, 2022

Make Room for Him

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). For some, Christmas is about cultural traditions and social obligations. The centrality of Christ in the Christmas season comes under attack from pluralistic, hedonistic, and materialistic societies. Christmas has quickly become a series of twinkling lights and sparkling presents with no inkling of the eternal Truth of Christ. In the midst of our cultural traditions and social obligations, do we make room? For others, isolation is the focus of the season, and we find ourselves alone, struggling to find a sense of belonging. It seems that the most we can hope for is an uneventful evening. Maybe we will fill our time by gratifying our own desires or focusing on our work. Perhaps the time will be spent entertaining a looming feeling of regret. In these moments of isolation, do we make room? In the midst of that crowded […]
March 28, 2022

God’s Strategies

“May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance” (2 Thessalonians 3:5). Elijah turned the tide in his nation though he was only one person with limited resources. The widow made a difference by making her last cake for God’s man and not for herself. God puts unique service on the hearts of His people and blesses that obedience as they submit to His sovereign will. Often, God’s strategies make no sense to us because, unlike Him, we have limited vision. When God took Elijah into the heart of enemy territory, God knew that was the last place King Ahab’s soldiers would look for him. God also knew that going to Zarephath would save Elijah from starvation though common sense said there was famine. More importantly, God showed Elijah that He cared about the Baal-worshiping widow and her family. God often has multiple objectives as He operates on many fronts simultaneously. If we follow His lead, we […]
March 21, 2022

Blessings Out of Blastings

“Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield” (Psalm 5:12). There is a cycle often seen in the lives of God’s people. Just as the brook dried up at the Kerith Ravine and ended that tranquil time, the season of plenty at Zarephath came to an abrupt end for Elijah. Tragically, the widow’s son died, provoking her anger toward God and Elijah (see 1 Kings 17:17-24). The cycle of blessing followed by a blasting is not unusual for God’s people. Often a great triumph is accompanied by a great trial. I experienced this in 1987 when we established our church. God blessed us in every way a church can be blessed. Twenty-eight people attended the first meeting in a hotel room; the number increased to sixty the next week, and devoted believers continued to pour in. I was meeting with people morning, noon, and night, running to keep up with the phenomenal […]
March 14, 2022

Battling Satan

“Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle” (Psalm 144:1). As we fight against unseen foes this side of heaven, we must take hold of Truth. Scripture has invaluable instructions for us to equip us in our battles with Satan. First, remember the victory is yours. Jesus saved us completely on the cross and has provided everything we need to live victorious lives. Even now, we are seated “in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Second, lay down your life. As James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” When we surrender our life and will to God, we will live righteously for Him and show Satan he holds no sway. Third, each morning, close any doors in your heart that are susceptible to sin by humbling yourself before God—for without Him, we can do nothing (see […]