God’s word is meant to be experienced. Read, pray, sing, study, memorize, meditate upon and live the words of God. Try this with Psalms 131.
Experience humility. David was a shepherd boy when God called him to be king of Israel. It would be many years before he would sit on the throne, but he was perfectly content. He set pride aside and went through the experience of humility. When the time was right, he gladly served as a man after God’s own heart.
Of the seven things God hates that are listed in Proverbs 6:16-19, the first on the list is “a proud look”. Like David, we must first humble ourselves. Jesus taught His apostles to humble themselves as a little child to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:1-4). He set the example for His apostles when at the last Passover with them he washed their feet (John 13). The apostle Paul warned every person “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). Peter wrote: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).
1 Peter 2:9-10 "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy."
Peter uses several descriptive phrases to remind us who we are and why we are here. The same expressions were applied to Israel in the Old Testament. The church of Christ which consists of both Jews and Gentiles is the true Israel of God (Romans 2:28-29; Galatians 3:26-29; 6:16).
Ben’s wife, Stacie, had a terrible accident while riding her horse causing severe trauma to her brain and leaving her in a coma from which she never recovered. Ben was unable to visit her until just after her surgery and only for a short time. Ben posted an update on Facebook for family and friends. “She’s a fighter, and through God’s power and might she will wake up, if it is God’s will.”
In the morning, Ben was very appreciative of “everyone’s kind words and prayers”. That night there was little change in Stacie’s condition, but Ben wrote, “Thank you for all of the supportive texts and posts! We are so blessed to have so many people praying on our behalf. Philippians 4:6 is helping me get through these times. Please be patient and continue to pray for our dear Stacie.”
Doctors, hospitals and medicines can be helpful, even lifesaving, when we are ill or don’t feel well but I am afraid that many rely too heavily on such for their good health. Good health requires a good diet, good exercise and a good lifestyle. When these things are neglected we are more apt to encounter bad health and will have a hard time recovering. Changing bad health habits for good health habits can often restore our good health without the usual treatments. The usual treatments have been known to cause many bad side effects, sometimes worse than the problems they are meant to treat. More attention needs to be given to the maintaining of good health that we might not only prevent illness but also improve our health.
Is the coronavirus pandemic another of many signs heralding Christ’s coming at the end of the world? Not if you believe what Jesus said about His coming.
Jesus said that nobody, but the Father knows when He is coming (Matthew 24:36). If there will be signs of His coming, then anyone could know. Doesn’t that mean that if someone says there are signs that Christ is about to come that he doesn’t know what he is talking about?
This is what Paul taught the church in Ephesus (Ephesians 2:19-22). As Christians, we are “members of the household of God”. The term “household” means family (cf. 1 Timothy 3:4-5, 15; 5:8). These verses tell us two things: 1) Family matters, and 2) We are a family. Jesus was the first to teach this when He spoke of the greater family of God (Matthew 12:46-50). It is a greater family in at least three ways:
We are a family in the Lord.
It is a spiritual family (Galatians 3:26-29). God is our Father and we are His children. That makes us brothers and sisters in Christ. We are united by the same faith and the same baptism by which we were united to Christ. We have the same Savior and the same Lord, Jesus. We are all one in Christ (cf. Ephesians 4:1-6). What matters is “if you are Christ’s”.
Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
Two of the most comforting words you will ever hear are these – “no condemnation”. We all know we deserve condemnation, yet there is nothing we can do to deliver ourselves from it without Christ Jesus. He alone paid the price for our sins by His perfect sacrifice upon the cross (Isaiah 53:5-6; 2 Corinthians 5:19, 21; 1 Peter 2:24). So, think about these two words “no condemnation”. Ask yourself:
Hebrews was written to Christians who were suffering persecution because of their faith in Jesus Christ. As a result, some were leaving Christ and falling away from grace. In Hebrews 11 the writer reminds them of the heroes and heroines of faith from the Old Testament who suffered persecution and trials. In chapter 12 he uses their example to encourage the Hebrews to keep their faith as Christians and to keep their eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-4). In the verses that follow he helps them to understand what God is doing with their trials and it will help us to understand what God is doing with the coronavirus pandemic and the trials we face, today.
“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’” (1 Peter 4:8).
Love is first, foremost, superior to everything else (Matthew 22:34-40; 1 Corinthians 13:13). It must be fervent, intense, enthusiastic, unceasing because it will cover a multitude of sins. What we need more than anything else is to love God and to love one another from the heart fervently!
The coronavirus pandemic has brought a great hardship to many people around the world. It has caused a great problem for the church because most have not been able to assemble as a congregation. If I tell you all today to look with me in God’s word, the Bible, some might respond, “I don’t even know if there is a God. Where is He? What is He doing? Why doesn’t He take this all away? And, what does a book written thousand of years ago have to do with us today?” My answer is, “Yes, there is a God, He will take this all away and everything else in this world; and the Bible has everything to do with us.” All of this is not much different from the persecution endured by the church in Jerusalem when they were scattered from their homes, their jobs and separated from family and friends (Acts 8:1-4). It is to these Christians and others like them that Peter writes his first epistle. He gives them a message of hope that is just as relevant and powerful as it was when it was first written.
Robert Dodson is the Preaching Minister for the Northwest Church of Christ.
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