“And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Eph. 6:17)
(Daily tips from God's word for God's people.)
By: Joe R. Price
Sign up for daily Sword Tips on Facebook or follow Sword Tips on Wordpress
Sword Tips #1
And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)
The parable of the prodigal (wasteful) son magnifies God’s mercy toward sinners by contrasting it with the unloving and unforgiving treatment of sinners by the Pharisees and scribes (Lk. 15:1-2). God is moved by compassion to forgive us when we repent and return to him; He is rich in mercy (Eph. 2:4)! When we repent from the wastefulness of sin we can return to God and he forgives us. Therefore, let us remember to forgive others as God has forgiven us (Eph. 4:32). If we refuse to do so, we will not be forgiven by God (Matt. 6:14-15).
Has someone sinned against you? If so, be rich in mercy and compassion. Forgive them as God has forgiven you.
Sword Tips #2
And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. (1 John 5:11)
God has borne witness to the world of His truth, His love and His grace. Here, the apostle John teaches us that God, the giver of all good gifts, has given the world the gift of eternal life (Eph. 2:8). This gift is available to the world in His Son, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11; 3:5-7).
Today, remember to thank God for His great love, mercy and grace that you as a Christian have in Christ. Live by faith, trusting and obeying His word to lead you to heaven. God be praised for His wonderful gift of eternal life in His Son!
Sword Tips #3
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15)
There has always been and always will be a conflict between loving the world and loving God. When we give our affections to the world we are drawn away from God. Instead of loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we become deceived by a counterfeit love affair with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
Where are you putting your affections? What will you choose to be attracted to today? If you find yourself being attracted to the world, change your mind and your behavior immediately; repent and return to your first love (Rev. 2:4-5). “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:2). Love God first, and always. When the love of the Father is in you, love for the world loses its grip.
Sword Tips #4
Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images. (2 Chronicles 34:1-3)
Young people can do great things for the Lord! As a young person, seize your opportunities to obey the Lord and live by faith (1 Tim. 4:12). As a parent, advance your child’s faith by teaching God’s word, by godly discipline and by setting worthy examples for them to follow (Eph. 6:3-4).
Why not encourage a young person today? They can live for Christ and resist the evils of this world. Like Josiah, while they are young they can begin to seek the Lord God and be forces for good.
Sword Tips #5
So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. (Luke 1:8-11)
A righteous man, Zacharias the priest and his wife, Elizabeth, had no children; “they were both well advanced in years” and she was barren (Lk. 1:7). However, this reality did not embitter them or debilitate them. Zacharias had a responsibility to serve in the temple which he faithfully met. When disappointments come in life, do not allow them to hinder your faithful service to the Lord.
Furthermore, God blessed Zacharias and Elizabeth beyond their wildest imaginations, giving them a son named John – the forerunner of the Messiah. God has great things ahead for you as you trust him and do his will.
Do not be distracted or discouraged today as you serve the Master. Instead, faithfully “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).
Sword Tips #6
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
Flashlights are a great invention. With the days getting shorter and shorter as winter approaches, they are useful tools in the dark, cold night.
We all need light to show us the path to take in our lives. Jesus is “the true Light which gives light to every man” (Jno. 1:9). He is the “light of the world” who removes the darkness of sin and gives life to those who follow him (Jno. 8:12). The light of his word is available to everyone.
Remember to use God’s word to guide your steps today, and every day. Let your decisions and your choices be directed by his truth, not by the false promises of the flesh or the passing pleasures of sin.
God’s word will always lead you in paths of righteousness. Treasure its worth, trust its message, and take it truth with you everywhere you go.
Sword Tips #7
To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Humans are inquisitive (“inquiring minds what to know”). Yet, with all the knowledge we have amassed through the centuries, each individual must admit that we know very little.
The book of Ecclesiastes reminds us about what we know and what we do not know. We know life on earth (“under the sun”) is cyclical, monotonous and that it cannot ultimately satisfy every longing, purpose and potential of mankind – “vanity of vanities, all is vanity” (Eccl. 1:2-11). Life on earth is good – for the purposes God has given it. We are wise to accept this basic point affirmed by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.
God has designed life “under the sun” so that man will turn to him. Do not put your hope in this life; it is temporary and unpredictable. If you do, you will be disappointed.
So, see that today you have the opportunity to trust the purposes of God and to put your faith in him: to “fear God and keep his commandments” – this completes your life’s mission (Eccl. 12:13).
Sword Tips #8
He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
When people of the world define what is “good” they often do so by saying, “let you conscience be your guide”. But, people of faith know what is good accomplishes the will of God (Heb. 12:21).
Micah reminds us it is God who tells us what is good. He does that through the inspired Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Good things require that we “do” the will of God. Here, the prophet sets God’s requirements of goodness as practicing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with God.
Today, concentrate on the good things God wants you to do – things like being fair in your treatment of others. Things like showing compassion and mercy to those who hurt.
Be humble before God and let him tell you through his word what is good – and then do it.
Sword Tips #9
From the rising of the sun to its going down the Lord’s name is to be praised. (Psalm 113:3)
As the days grow shorter, moving from autumn to winter, we are reminded that God set the seasons in place for our good (Gen. 1:14; 8:22). God ordained the sun’s daily circuit, and it declares his glory (Psa. 19:1-4).
Praise God today for his power; Power that keeps the sun in its place and that gives us both summer and winter. The winter rest will eventually give way to spring’s renewal and summer’s growing season. And so it goes – just as God planned.
Like the days that draw toward winter, our lives are drawing ever shorter. Do not forget God. He gave you life; praise him for it! Eventually, you will stand before God and answer to him for how you used the life he gave you (2 Cor. 5:10). He has appointed a day of judgment for us all (Heb. 9:27; Acts 17:30-31).
God is worthy to be praised. Today and every day; praise his great name!
Sword Tips #10
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord my strength and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
We’ve all heard, “you are what you eat”. In a very real sense, we are what we think. Solomon said a man is what he thinks in his heart (Prov. 23:7). The Lord Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things” (Matt. 12:35). We speak what is in our heart. Period.
Begin to make a deliberate effort to think about what you are thinking. Think on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely and commendable (Phil. 4:8). By thinking on such things your words will reflect godliness and righteousness.
Meditate on what is right and speak what is good.
This is acceptable in the sight of God, our Redeemer.
Sword Tips #11
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing. (Psalm 107:21-22)
Thanksgiving is a national holiday assigned to pause from our daily routine to remember the Almighty as the giver of all good gifts and to thank him for his blessings on our nation.
Oh, that this nation would return to having a heart of thanksgiving! The gospel of Christ teaches us to give thanks in everything and at all times (1 Thess. 5:18). We know every day must be a day when we lift our voices heavenward and thank God for his goodness and his great works.
God’s goodness is absolute, and his works are wondrous! His redemptive work to save sinners in Christ Jesus, His Son, astonishes us and humbles us. Oh, what great blessings God’s goodness bestows on us!
Be thankful that God is good and rejoice in his great works. And tomorrow, do it all again. Let us honor our God with joyful thanksgiving every day.
Sword Tips #12
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)
Continually be thankful to God! The greatest blessing of all is the victory we have over sin and death through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sin has been utterly defeated by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Therefore:
1) Be thankful today for God’s grace, by which Jesus died for everyone and brought salvation to all who will believe and obey (Heb. 2:9; Titus 2:11).
2) Be thankful today that you have received God’s gift of salvation by your obedient faith to Christ (Eph. 2:8-9; Heb. 5:8-9; Rom. 6:17-18).
Death has been utterly defeated by the resurrection of Christ from the dead. The empty tomb is a constant memorial to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God and that he has complete power over death (Rom. 1:4; Rev. 1:18). Therefore:
1) Be thankful today that death is no longer fearful – Jesus replaced the fear of death with confident hope (Heb. 2:14-15).
2) Be thankful today that death will be your doorway into eternal joy, peace and life (Phil. 1:21).
God gives you no greater blessing than victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ. Praise be to God!
Sword Tips #13
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” (1 Peter 1:13-16)
Holy living is the result of holy thinking. Peter clearly tells us we must set our minds on the blessings we will receive when Jesus returns. By doing so we keep away from the lustful thinking and conduct in which we used to live before we became Christians. This helps us be obedient children who live holy lives.
You have control over your mind. You decide the thoughts, motives and intentions that drive your conduct and define who you are. So today, think about God’s holiness and let that motivate your decision to be holy. Determine to be like God. After all, God is your father. So, choose to be an obedient child. Put away the thinking and desires of the world and set your mind on the eternal life your heavenly father will give you when Jesus returns. This will help you be equipped to live a holy life every day.
Sword Tips #14
And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND HIM ONLY YOU SHALL SERVE.’” (Luke 4:8)
Satan tempts us to bow down and pay homage to other things that God. For example, some choose to worship material things (1 Tim. 6:10). The word of God says covetousness is idolatry (Col. 3:5). Any person or thing we put before the Lord God and serve rather than him is our object of worship.
Today is the first day of the week, the day of worship ordained by the Lord (Acts 20:7). Use your time today to worship God “in spirit and truth”. By doing so you will be numbered among those whose worship God accepts (Jno. 4:23-24). Fully give your heart to praising and honoring God. And, worship him according to his revealed will: with prayers and singing, with giving and eating the Lord’s Supper, and by listening to the teaching of his word (Acts 2:42; Eph. 5:19; 1 Cor. 16:2; Acts 20:7).
Worshiping God is the Christian’s first priority on the Lord’s Day. Do not yield to Satan’s temptation to forget God and fail to worship him. If you have, then repent and return to him with praise and adoration for his mercy and grace in Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Sword Tips #15
And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” (Luke 12:15)
Jesus warns us against greediness. Covetousness distorts the meaning of life. Avoid defining your life by the amount of things you possess.
Possessions come and go, and when you die you will not take any of them with you.
You will stand before God in judgment without any of your earthly possessions.
Therefore, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” and your physical needs will be supplied by your heavenly Father (Matt. 6:33).
Sword Tips #16
“You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” (Matthew 5:38-42)
Revenge takes matters into its own hands. Instead of justice, revenge looks for personal satisfaction at the expense of the one who has wronged us.
Jesus set the example for us of giving place to God’s justice by refusing to retaliate against those who had grievously wronged him.
If you are wronged today, let God correct the wrong that is done; He will do so in his time. Overcome evil by doing good toward those who wrong you. They won’t be expecting it!
Sword Tips #17
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
Being a Christian means making tough, consistent decisions to refuse and reject the devil’s enticements to sin against God. We may think being a Christian comes without sacrifice, as if there is no price to pay for following Jesus. This is not true. The devil will overwhelm you unless you “submit to God” in everything. Count the cost, and pay the price to be right with God. Effective resistance against the devil occurs as you completely surrender yourself to God’s will. The devil will flee from you when you obey God.
Sword Tips #18
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
Oh, how much trouble we could avoid if only we would be kind to one another! Kindness is an attribute of love that flows out of a compassionate heart (1 Cor. 13:4).
Be kind to others by imparting goodness with your words and your actions.
Be kind, even when they are not kind to you.
Remember, kindness forgives others like God in Christ forgives us.
So today, imitate God and be kind.
Sword Tips #19
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (Matthew 5:9)
The Son of God is the Prince of Peace. Peace is made between man and God when sins are forgiven, and Jesus Christ makes that possible (read Eph. 2:14-18). Peace is the absence of conflict plus the presence of harmony. Christ removes the conflict of sin and reconciles sinners to God. Christians have peace, and love peace.
Don’t settle for a “ceasefire” with your husband, your wife, your child, your parent, your co-worker or your neighbor. Take the initiative and be a peacemaker. Act to settle the conflict and restore the harmony.
Be a child of God.
Sword Tips #20
A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. (Proverbs 25:28)
The anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor is December 7, 1941 – “a date which will live in infamy”. The enemy was underestimated, with devastating consequences.
Self-control is designed to protect you against sin. But, you must cultivate self-control by making right choices every day.
Do not underestimate your enemy, the devil. Like Christ, “refuse the evil and choose the good”.
Don’t be left defenseless; exercise self-control in all things.
Sword Tips #21
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
Do you want to know what you truly value? If so, look at where you spend your money.
We spend our money on our interests, our desires and our goals. We spend our money on the things we value.
This is why giving to the Lord is so important. We do not give to the Lord because he needs our money to survive. We give in order to express thankful praise to him.
By proper giving we keep our hearts directed toward God and away from greed.
Sword Tips #22
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
The Christian measures life by unseen things. Unbelievers live for the things they can see, taste and feel. Faith is not blind. Faith trusts the path Jesus sets before it in the Scriptures.
Faith takes God at his word and does everything he says!
Christian, you are on a journey to heaven. Your faith rests securely upon the evidence of verifiable truth, not on baseless fables.
Do not lose sight of heaven; be strong and walk by faith.
Sword Tips #23
“Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction, but he who regards a rebuke will be honored.” (Proverbs 13:18)
Nobody is always right. Yet, to hear some people talk, wisdom will die with them! Such arrogance refuses correction when it is needed. Remember, pride goes before destruction, but wisdom “regards a rebuke”.
Be willing to accept God’s correction that turns you away from spiritual danger. His correction is contained in the holy Scriptures.
Avoid the shame and eternal loss that is produced by pride.
Honor will come to you as you yield up your heart and your life to God.
Sword Tips #24
“I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies. I made haste, and did not delay to keep Your commandments.” (Psalm 119:59-60)
Self-examination is crucial to spiritual success. Take a careful look at yourself today by using God’s word as your mirror. Are you living according to God’s will? If not, start obey God’s commandments without delay.
If you put off obeying God your heart becomes calloused, making it harder to choose what is right.
Make today the day you turn away from sin and swiftly run to God.
Sword Tips #25
“Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern .” (Philippians 3:17)
Godly examples are a great blessing.
They embolden our faith by showing us people of faith do exist. And, they show us that being faithful to God makes a difference in this world.
The example set by the apostle Paul (who wrote this passage) continues to help Christians be strong and courageous in their faith.
Make it your goal to follow the pattern of the apostles.
Then, you too will be a worthy example for others to follow.
Sword Tips #26
“Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right?” (Luke 12:57)
Ironically, many people judge all forms of judgment to be wrong. Yet, Jesus expects us to judge what is right!
He demands that our judgment be righteous and not hypocritical (see Jno. 7:24; Matt. 7:1-5).
To do that, our judgments must conform to the word of God.
By using Christ’s word to judge what is right, you can know what pleases God.
Use the Bible to judge what is right, and then do what pleases God.
Sword Tips #27
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)
In this age of moral relativism we are bombarded with the same sort of foolishness and folly as Isaiah saw in his day.
There is evil in this world – and it must not be confused with what is good! It is a great deception to say there are no moral absolutes in our world.
Commit yourself to the truth (Jesus defined truth as God’s word, Jno. 17:17).
Sin is real, and it brings pain, sorrow and death. See it for what it is.
Furthermore, know the truth; it will make you free.
Sword Tips #28
“Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Christians anticipate their opportunity to worship together. Worshiping God is the first thing to consider when planning your Sunday, not the last.
Assembling together to worship not only serves the purpose of honoring God with our prayers and praise, it also gives us an opportunity to encourage one another to remain faithful and true to the Lord.
How will you spend your time this Lord’s day?
Set the habit of worshiping God.
You will be encouraged, and you will encourage your brethren.
Sword Tips #29
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16)
The world stands condemned in sin and in need of salvation. The gospel is God’s power to save lost souls.
The good news that Jesus came to seek and save the lost must be proclaimed to the lost if they are to be saved.
Those who do not believe the gospel will be “condemned” as a result of their sins.
Those who believe the gospel and are baptized “will be saved” from their sins.
If you believe nothing and do nothing, you remain lost in your sin.
Why not rather believe and be baptized, and be saved?
“Will you not tell it today?”
Sword Tips #30
“Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.” (Revelation 13:18)
There are many fanciful and false interpretations of the book of Revelation, including the infamous “number of the beast”, 666.
Wisdom teaches us it signifies failure, upon failure, upon failure, as it thrice falls short of the perfect number“7”. Worldly forces that oppose God’s truth and God’s people will ultimately fail.
The Revelation assures Christians of victory in Jesus in the face of overwhelming odds.
Do not be dismayed or discouraged by the forces of evil that rise up and press against you in this world.
Be steadfast in your faith; “the Lamb will overcome them” (Rev. 17:14).
Sword Tips #31
“Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” (Psalm 62:8)
One of the magnificent qualities of God is his complete trustworthiness. He is always present to hear and to respond in love to cries of help from his people.
God hears and answers the prayers of his children. Do not hesitate to pour out your heart to the Lord; He is a “very present help in trouble” (Psa. 46:1).
Whatever storm you face today, put your faith in him.
He will never leave you or forsake you.
Sword Tips #32
“As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God.” (Psalm 42:1)
The animals gather at the river’s edge at the break of day and at the setting of the sun. The water refreshes them, sustains them; Without it, they would perish.
Today, yearn to have God in your life, just like the deer pants for the water brook.
Jesus Christ is the fountain of living water that springs up into everlasting life!
Whatever you pursue today, be sure God and his will is your foremost desire.
He will refresh your soul and sustain you unto the dawn of eternity.
Sword Tips #33
“So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’” (Luke 17:10)
The duty of faith compels us to serve God by doing all he commands of us. Some mistakenly think that obeying God’s commandments is an attempt to merit or earn salvation.
Far from it.
We are “unprofitable servants” – especially when we “have done all those things” he has “commanded” of us.
Obedient faith earns nothing.
Yet without it, we are not faithful servants of God. Our dutiful service to the Master is to obey Him.
Today, and every day, do all that God commands you.
By doing so, you will be His dutiful, faithful servant.
Sword Tips #34
“Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.” (Titus 2:15)
Do you hold a position of authority? You do if you are a parent, an employer, a teacher, an elder in the church, or hold some other position with people under your charge.
The preacher Titus was told to exhort and to rebuke with the full authority of God’s word. The proper use of authority is crucial, and, proper authority must not be despised (dismissed or ignored).
So, Titus was not to let those under the authority of truth to despise him (the messenger of God’s truth).
“Killing the messenger” does not change the message! If you are under someone’s authority today, show them respect.
Remember, we are under the authority of Christ every day.
Be respectful to Him and obey His word.
Sword Tips #35
“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1)
The Lord’s day is the first day of the week. It is the day Christians assemble with their brethren to give homage to God Almighty.
Our thanks should abound as we worship, praising God for His goodness and for the eternal mercy He gives us in His Son.
As you praise God on the Lord’s day, recall that God is good and that He does good things for you. Magnify His name with thanksgiving for the merciful redemption you have in Christ.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord!
Sword Tips #36
“And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority.” (Luke 4:32)
The authority of the word of Jesus Christ is profoundly superior to the words of any person. The great thinkers of this world pale in comparison to the simple yet powerful message of the word of God.
Jesus taught with the authority of heaven. God speaks to us now through the word of Jesus, His Son (Heb. 1:2). His word brings blessings to every soul who believes it and obeys it.
His word will change your life. It will give you hope. It will save your soul. There is no greater authority or power than that.
Honor Christ’s authority today.
Commit yourself completely to following His word.
Sword Tips #37
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity and the purity that is toward Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3, ASV)
There is simplicity and purity in Christ.
Simplicity means sincerity or soundness; there is no hypocrisy in Christ. Anyone who tries to conceal sinful motives and actions behind a cloak of righteous pretense is not of Christ.
There is also moral purity in Christ. Anyone whose heart and life is morally impure has no part in Christ Jesus. To believe otherwise is to be deceived by the devil.
The Christian chooses to have a genuine, sincere faith. And, the Christian chooses to live a morally pure life, free from the contamination of sin.
Do these two things and the devil will not be successful in seducing you away from Christ.
Sword Tips #38
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. (Luke 2:15-16)
One searches the Scriptures in vain to find Jesus or His apostles teaching Christians to have a religious festival called “Christmas”. What we truly need every day of the year is a trip to Bethlehem – and also to Calvary.
You see, everyone rejoices over the birth of a child. But, far fewer put their faith in the death of a Savior. The manger is non-threatening as it announces the birth of “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”.
But, the cross challenges us to see the pain and agony our sins caused the Savior. At the birth of Jesus “a body was prepared” for him that would become an offering for the sins of the world (Heb. 10:5-10).
Yes, let us go to Bethlehem and rejoice in what happened that day. But, we need not go there through a religious holiday ordained by the authority of men.
Let us also go to Golgotha, the Place of a Skull, in order to be saved from our sins. Faith leads us to the manger and the cross.
Sword Tips #39
Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. (Ephesians 4:25)
It is very possible that today you will encounter someone who does not tell you the truth. But, the question is whether you will speak the truth to your neighbor – even if he lies to you.
Christians do not practice lying because our Father is God, not the devil (who is the father of lies, John 8:44).
Followers of Jesus deliberately put away lying and are careful to speak the truth. By doing so, your honesty and integrity will mark you as one who is trustworthy and reliable.
After all, no one trusts a liar.
Sooner or later every lie is found out.
Furthermore, “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
Sword Tips #40
Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
Youth is not the time to “sow your wild oats”. If you do that, you will reap a crop of sin and its pain that you could have avoided.
If you are young, now is the time to dedicate yourself to remembering God, your Creator. The vigor of youth does not give you the right to pursue sin. Instead, the strength of youth is a great advantage when coupled with faith.
If you choose to go away from God early in life, your heart can harden against God and you will find yourself untouched by God’s pleas to repent and return to God.
But, by remembering God early in life you can walk the path of faith and be sustained through the “difficult days” that come to us all.
Sword Tips #41
Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)
Love is the purpose of God’s commandments; love for God and love for others. It is sad and so wrong when people think the necessity of obedience minimizes one’s love for God.
Jesus said, “if you love Me, keep My commandments”; and again, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love” (John 14:15; 15:10).
The commandments of God produce good things in your life when you obey them in faith.
First, obeying God comes from a “pure heart” toward God. Obedience is not rote performance; it is the deliberate expression of love’s purity.
Second, obedience shows a good conscience toward God. When it is trained by God’s truth, your conscience will commend you when you obey God.
Third, obeying God’s commands is the action of sincere faith. Love God today by keeping His commandments – not as a burden you must bear, but as the full expression of your faith in Him (1 John 5:3).
Sword Tips #42
So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. (Luke 4:16)
It was Jesus’ habitual practice to go the synagogue on the Sabbath day to worship. At this assembly, the Law of God was read and a discourse was given.
Note that it was not his habit to miss this assembly.
Nor was it his habit to be disinterested in the worship. He “stood up to read” along with others, as was the customary practice in the synagogue on the Sabbath.
Today is not the Sabbath (the seventh day, assigned as a day of rest under the Law of Moses); it is the Lord’s day, the first day of the week.
Is it your habitual practice to assemble with fellow Christians to worship God, or to forsake these assemblies? Are you a participant or a spectator when you attend worship assemblies?
Be sure your custom is to be present when the church comes together to worship.
Sword Tips #43
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)
The gospel of Christ calls upon men and women to control their thoughts, not just their actions. Jesus teaches us that sin begins in the heart. Moral conduct also begins by thinking on “whatever things are pure” (Phil. 4:8).
Controlling your desires and bringing them under the rule of God’s will is possible. Nobody compels you to think what you do not want to think.
What you choose to think determines who you are and what you will do.
“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:2).
Make today the day you decide to put away evil thoughts and instead, let thoughts of God, His word of truth and moral purity define who you are and how you live.
Sword Tips #44
If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (Matthew 5:29)
Sin is real, and Jesus tells you what to do about it. When there is sin in your life you must realize it started in your heart (Matt. 5:28). You can remove sin’s snare – whatever it is in your life that “causes you to sin”.
Simply put, you must repent of sin (change your heart) and you must stop practicing sin.
Jesus used the exaggerated language of plucking out your eye to explain how serious sin is and the extent to which you must go to remove it. Christ demands the full extraction of sin and its cause.
Completely giving up sin gives you the opportunity to enter eternal life. It is futile to live in sin yet believe you will go to heaven in the end. Sin inevitably leads to hell.
Do what Jesus said and remove every trace of sin from your life in order to escape sin’s punishment of hell.
Sword Tips #45
But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him. (Habakkuk 3:2)
It is fitting to we remember God is alive, is holy and still rules heaven.
Habakkuk called the attention of the whole earth heavenward, urging reverent contemplation and humble submission to God Almighty.
God will execute his judgment against all who defy him. Therefore, we ought to silently and respectfully submit to our holy God; He reigns over us all and he judges us in righteousness.
While God’s judgment against sinners is certain, he brings sure salvation to all who put their trust in him.
Make this the day you resolve to completely and reverently submit to God in all things.
Sword Tips #46
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:9-10)
Worldly-minded people try to avoid the judgment for their sins by saying, “you can’t judge me!” Yet, God’s word contains his judgments, and they are “true and righteous altogether”.
The wise person conforms to God’s judgments contained in the Bible. The wise person desires God’s judgments more than “much fine gold”.
Today is a good day to start valuing God’s truth more than great riches.
Let his judgments shape your values, your attitudes of heart and your choices in life. The sweetness of God’s truth will satisfy your soul.
His judgments equip you to live free from the condemnation of sin.
Sword Tips #47
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise. (Proverbs 12:15)
How foolish it is for anyone to think they are never wrong. They always have an answer – or is it an excuse? It is always “someone else’s fault” – they are always innocent in every matter.
Such thinking is borne of pride as it tries to escape personal accountability. On the other hand, it is an asset to know our own limitations and to solicit helpful counsel from others.
Solomon says wisdom is revealed when one follows good advice. It takes humility and an earnest desire to improve oneself to yield to the recommendations of another.
There is no doubt, we should all hear and heed the counsel of God’s word. Let it direct your steps.
When you do, you show yourself to be wise.
Sword Tips #48
“Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone went heaven? But, Jesus said “narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:14).
He goes on in this passage to tell us the way to heaven is reserved for those who “do the will of My Father in heaven” – not for those who simply call him “Lord”.
God’s word is plain: if you want to go to heaven you must do the Father’s will. He has made the way to heaven available to everyone through his Son, Jesus Christ. But his way is demanding: it demands faith that obeys Jesus instead of merely paying him lip service.
Live for heaven by being a doer of the word of God.
Sword Tips #49
After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God!” (Revelation 19:1)
The joy of salvation should fill each Christian’s heart this Lord’s day as he or she assembles to worship the God of heaven and earth.
“Alleluia” (hallelujah) means “praise ye Jehovah” or “praise ye the Lord”, and is the victorious shout of triumph as God executes his true and righteous judgments against evil (Rev. 19:2).
In the book of Revelation this heavenly shout of praise erupts in heaven when God brings his just punishment upon the persecutors of his saints (Rev. 18:24-19:6).
When you worship God, call to mind your deliverance from sin’s oppression through Christ Jesus. Raise your voice in joyful strains of “Alleluia” as heaven and earth together praise “the Lord our God” – “the Lord God Omnipotent who reigns” (Rev. 19:1, 6).
Sword Tips #50
“...it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.” (Luke 1:3-4)
Luke’s account of the life and teachings of Jesus is, by his own declaration, an accurate and orderly record. Luke had complete understanding of the life of Jesus Christ which he wrote to Theophilus. Theophilus could rely on what Luke wrote to verify and strengthen his own faith.
This points out an important principle: The New Testament is not the fanciful product of deceitful men intent on misleading the world. It is the product of divine inspiration. You can trust the accuracy of the New Testament.
Use God’s word to build your faith and to direct your conduct in Christ. If you are not yet doing that, begin reading the Gospel According to Luke. It will help you know the certainty of the gospel – and put your faith in God.
Sword Tips #51
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)
The epistle of James, who was “a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:1), contains practical teaching about faith. For example, a faithful servant does what his Master tells him to do. That is what we would expect of a “bondservant”.
A Christian is a bondservant of Christ who serves the Master by doing what he commands. Such obedience does not merit the Master’s approval (salvation); it is the servant’s duty to obey (Lk. 17:10).
Without the obedience, the servant fails to show himself faithful.
James warns you not to deceive yourself; you are not a faithful servant if you only hear Christ’s word but fail to actually do it. It is the obedient servant of Christ – the “doer” – who is “blessed in what he does” (Jas. 1:25).
Do more than hear the word of God; be a faithful bondservant and obey his word. Do that, and the Master will bless you.
Sword Tips #52
I acknowledged by sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. (Psalm 32:5)
Sin is real. It separates us from God and puts us under the penalty of eternal death. At times we have trouble admitting our sins to ourselves, to those we sin against and to God.
You will never hide your sins from God. According to our passage, King David tried – and it ate him up inside (Psa. 32:3-4).
Finally, he confessed his sins to God, the sins of coveting another man’s wife, adultery, lying and murder. Of course, God knew his sins all along. When David humbled himself before God in penitent confession, God forgave him. (Read 2 Samuel 11-12 for the details.)
Are you trying to hide your sins from God? If so, you will not succeed. God is ready to forgive you. He sent His Son to seek and save the lost.
Humble yourself before Jesus and in faith obey Him. When you do, God will forgive your sins (Heb. 5:8-9).
Sword Tips #53
Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death. (John 8:51)
The words of Jesus are unmistakable; The person who “keeps (his) word” will not experience death. Of course, Jesus is speaking of spiritual life and spiritual death.
We all have an appointment with physical death (Heb. 9:27). You must get ready for the death of your body by keeping the word of Jesus.
Genuine faith obeys Jesus.
In this verse, Jesus requires obedience in order to “never see death”. “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me” (Jno. 14:21).
If you desire spiritual life, then believe the word of Christ and start keeping it today.
Sword Tips #54
Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth? (Galatians 4:16)
It is tempting to “kill the messenger” when we do not like the message he brings. Paul was addressing Christians who resisted the truth he had taught them. Now, he rebuked them for their diminished love toward him because they did not like the truth he spoke.
How you react when God’s truth is set before you reflects either your faith or your faithlessness.
Are we not thankful when someone warns us of approaching dangers like tornadoes, fires and floods? Why get angry when God’s truth warns us of spiritual danger?
Is the messenger of truth your enemy or your friend?
That depends on the condition of your heart. “Buy the truth, and do not sell it”.
Don’t kill the messenger – embrace the message of truth!
Sword Tips #55
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:9)
When we see Jesus we see a man, for he was “made a litter lower than the angels”. He lived in order to die – born “for the suffering of death...for everyone”.
When we see Jesus we see the Son of God, who “by the grace of God” died for everyone, including you and me. His death of suffering was the sinless for the sinful – the full measure of God’s grace.
Death could not hold him.
Raised from the grave, Jesus is now “crowned with glory and honor” at the right hand of God in heaven.
Look with eyes of faith and you will see Jesus; your Savior, Redeemer and King.
Come to Jesus and he will save you (Matt. 11:28-30; Mk. 16:16).
Sword Tips #56
Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. (1 Corinthians 11:33)
The eating of which Paul speaks here is the Lord’s Supper.
Local churches of Christ come together each first day of the week to “break bread” as was done by New Testament churches (Acts 20:7). The church comes together, receiving each other with anticipation as we remember the Lord’s death in the Supper.
Fellow Christian, use your opportunity today to be with your brethren as the church assembles to worship God in spirit and truth.
The Lord’s Supper is one part of this worship; a weekly remembrance and proclamation of the Lord’s sacrifice.
Look forward to it and rejoice in the Lord for his great love and sacrifice at the cross.
Sword Tips #57
Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. (John 20:29)
We have not seen Jesus, yet we believe He is the Christ, the Son of God. Some call this blind faith, but they are very mistaken. The Christian’s faith is not blind; it is built upon sound evidence and incontrovertible testimony.
In our text, we should remember that Thomas had been given eyewitness testimony by his fellow apostles that Jesus was alive from the dead (“We have seen the Lord”), but he refused their report, demanding physical contact to confirm the Lord’s resurrection (Jno. 20:24-25).
The eyewitness testimony of the apostles of Christ forms part of the evidence upon which our faith is built; “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses”. (Acts 2:32; 1:8; 10:39-43)
Your faith in Christ rest upon sound and solid truth, not cunningly devised fables of blindness.
Christians do not live in doubt; We live by faith, knowing who, what and why we believe.
Sword Tips #58
Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16)
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, sent his apostles into the world preaching the gospel as sheep. But wolves threaten the sheep, so caution was essential.
Wisdom combined with innocence would equip them to do the Master’s will.
Albert Barnes commented, “Probably the thing in which Christ directed his followers to imitate the serpent was in its caution in avoiding danger.” And again, “He directs them, also, to be harmless, not to provoke danger, not to do injury, and thus make their fellow-men justly enraged against them. Doves are, and always have been, a striking emblem of innocence.” (Barnes Notes)
We live in a world of evil that is ready to devour the faithful ones. Be cautious today, and avoid the perils of sin.
Live above reproach, and the God of peace will be with you.
Sword Tips #59
For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God... (1 Peter 3:17-18)
Suffering can occur for different reasons. Peter notes two of those reasons in broad terms, for doing good and for doing evil. The evil doer brings suffering upon himself, the just punishment for transgression. But, to suffer for doing good is more difficult to accept graciously. Yet, the sinless Son of God suffered crucifixion to save us from sin and eternal death.
Use Christ as your example when you are mistreated for doing good things for others. Rejoice that you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings and that you will be blessed by God for following in the steps of Jesus.
Sword Tips #60
I can of Myself to do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. (John 5:30)
There was never a time in the life of Jesus that He failed to do the will of His Father. There is a key here to help us make right decisions (use righteous judgment).
First, He always listened to the Father’s word. He used the correct standard, God’s word, to make righteous judgments. Keep listening to the word of God (the Scriptures) and you can make righteous choices every day.
Second, Jesus had the correct motive of heart; to do the Father’s will. You can have no higher objective in life than to do God’s will each day.
Using the correct standard and keeping the correct motive, you can make right judgments that bring you God’s eternal blessings.
Sword Tips #61
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
How do you handle God’s word? It is pretty easy to decide what you want to find in the Bible and then search for a passage that more or less supports it. But, to deal honestly with oneself and with the word of truth is entirely a different matter. Things like context, who the speaker is and to whom is he speaking, is it an Old or New Covenant passage – these are just some of the considerations to determine how to understand and use a Biblical statement.
Your goal must be God’s approval, not self-justification. Allow the Scriptures to reprove and rebuke you, if needed. They will also correct you and teach you how to live righteously (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Use God’s word carefully so that you will have God’s approval instead of being ashamed before Him.
Sword Tips #62
I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. (Psalm 32:5)
Before you can confess your sin to the Lord you must be willing to admit your sin to yourself. David’s attempt to hide his sin with Bathsheba led to sin upon sin, compounding his anguish and shame. When the shame of his transgressions was exposed he gave up the charade. In exhausted humility he exclaimed, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam. 12:13). God forgave David, and God is ready to forgive you, too.
My Christian brother or sister, if you are trying to hide sin, please realize that you will not succeed. If you are struggling with sin, it is time to follow David’s example of faith.
Trust God to forgive you. Humble yourself before the Lord. Confess your sin to God and He will forgive you.
Sword Tips #63
When you come together, it is not really to eat the Lord’s supper. For when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry and another becomes drunk. What! Do you not have homes to eat and drink in? (1 Corinthians 11:20-22, NRSV)
The Corinthian church was woefully corrupting the Lord’s supper. There was division in the church which led to perverting the purpose of the Lord’s supper (v. 18-19).
Tragically, things have not changed all that much through the centuries. Many churches “come together” on Sunday, but “not really to eat the Lord’s supper”. Some churches hardly ever eat it. Others, only occasionally. Yet, many churches often “come together” to eat coffee and donuts or to have a church potluck or some other social event.
However, the eating that occurred in the fellowship of New Testament churches was the Lord’s supper, the memorial to Christ’s sacrificial death. Eating and drinking to satisfy hunger is still for the home (v. 22).
Be sure that when you “come together” on the Lord’s Day it will be to eat His supper in remembrance of Him.
Sword Tips #64
Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; have mercy on me, and hear my prayer. (Psalm 8:1)
What blessed comfort to know God hears our prayers and revives our weariness with his mercy and righteousness! God is a very present help in trouble and attends to the prayers of his children.
Christian friend, whatever distresses you today, remember to call on your Father in prayer. He hears, he cares and he relieves.
Sword Tips #65
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 5:32)
Kindness is a quality of humanity that distinguishes us from every other creature on earth. Kindness expresses the value we place upon others. It is considerate and unselfish in its choice of words as well as in how it treats others.
God has shown great kindness to us by forgiving us in Christ. So, be kind of each person you meet today and forgive them if they happen to wrong you.
By doing so, you will be following in the footsteps of God.
Sword Tips #66
Which of you, by worrying, can add one cubit to his stature? (Matthew 6:27)
Our lives are filled with many stress points each day. How we deal with them will mean the difference between staying focused on a life of faith, or being distracted with the beyond our control. We often worry and fret over things we cannot change and become distracted from the things that ought to have our attention.
Jesus reminds us that worrying will not solve any problem. Instead, it prevents us from trusting the Lord in our lives.
Rather than being anxious, Jesus said to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).
Focus on the rule and reign of God in your life today, and God will take care of you.
Sword Tips #67
You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise
You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that
my soul knows very well.
The marvel of human life, God’s greatest creation, is on wondrous display before our eyes. Long before birth, medical technology now makes it possible to see the features of the unborn child. There is no doubt we are wonderfully made!
Yesterday marked the 41st year of legalized abortion in America; truly a scourge on our land. Still, God is ready to forgive those who have taken innocent life, just as He forgave those who took the innocent life of His Son Jesus.
The gospel is the answer to all the selfish sins of the past, including killing unborn children. Let us rise up today and celebrate life and thank our great God who gives it.
Sword Tips #68
A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold. (Proverbs 22:1)
There are few things in life you can say are exclusively yours. Your name is one of them. When others hear your name, what do they think? What reputation have you etched into their memory by your words and actions?
Your name (character, reputation) is more valuable than great wealth.
You cannot buy a good name; it is earned by a steady life of honesty, fairness, kindness and dependability. Take care of your name; it is a precious possession.
If you have damaged your name, do not despair.
You can repair your name by putting away sin, by turning to the Lord and by living for him.
Sword Tips #69
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. (Romans 1:18-19)
The wrath of God is an “off limits” topic to many, but it is very real. God’s wrath is “revealed” it from heaven against every irreverent act toward God and every unjust treatment of men.
No sin escapes divine indignation and punishment.
While God is gracious, merciful and forgiving of all who will call on his name, he is also just and will bring righteous judgment upon all who choose to practice sin.
Make today the day you choose to walk by faith and stand in God’s grace instead of living in sin and being under God’s wrath.
Sword Tips #70
…though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. (Hebrews 5:8-9)
The Son of God always obeyed the Father’s will. The full expression of Christ’s obedience is on display in His suffering.
Obedience is about willingly submitting ourselves to doing the will of God. That’s what Jesus did, and what he calls on us to do.
Dear Christian, as you gather this first day of the week to worship God, remember you are learning the habit of obedience in your life.
Yielding your will and life to the will of Christ is at the heart of obeying Christ. He gives the assurance of eternal salvation to all who obey him.
Sword Tips #71
…and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. (Acts 5:40-41)
The mindset of the Christian is radically different from how the world thinks. Christ’s apostles were beaten because of their faith, and they rejoiced because of it! They gladly suffered shame for the name of Christ. Are you ready to be shamefully treated for the sake of Jesus Christ?
Christians who suffer for their faith share in the suffering of Christ. A follower of Christ willingly accepts dishonor and humiliation from unbelievers rather than denying the Lord.
Your faith will be challenged today. Stand strong in the faith. Resist the temptation to deny Christ in order to avoid embarrassment and shame. Rejoice and be very glad. Remain loyal and true. When Jesus returns you will have gladness and overflowing joy (1 Peter 4:12-13).
Sword Tips #72
Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. (John 7:24)
We often hear people say, “don’t judge me”, as if all judgments are wrong. They are not. Jesus said righteous judgments are exactly the type of judgments we must make, while refusing to judge merely on the basis of appearance. Looks can be deceiving, after all.
God’s judgments are true and altogether righteous (Psa. 19:9). That is why God’s word must be the standard of right and wrong that forms the decisions we make. When our judgments conform to the word of God, they will be righteous.
Follow the teaching of Jesus today. Make righteous judgments.
Sword Tips #73
The Lord is great in Zion, and He is high above all the peoples. Let them praise Your great and awesome name—He is holy. (Psalm 99:2-3)
“Awesome!” is often heard in today’s lingo, and overused, in my estimation. This passage says God’s name is awesome; it is to be feared because He is great and holy. God is due our reverent respect.
Too many people approach God casually instead of with respectful fear. For example, when people talk about God as “the big man upstairs” it shows a dreadful lack of reverence for and understanding of God.
Honor God’s holy name by your words and your conduct. Respect His rule and His holiness. “The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble” (v. 1).
God is to be feared; praise His awesome name.
Sword Tips #74
Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord in gracious. (1 Peter 2:1-3)
Christians have tasted God’s grace. God’s “grace in which we stand” compels us to lay aside sin – a very deliberate act of faith (v. 1; Rom. 5:1).
You cannot be a faithful Christian with a divided heart. Having tasted the blessings of God’s gracious gospel, you must greatly desire it – just as the baby must have its mother’s milk (v. 2-3).
The pure milk of the word will not benefit you unless you put away from your heart the corruption of sin. When you became a Christian your heart was purified from sin by the blood of the Lamb. Now, do not give it a place to return.
Fill up your heart with God’s word and lay aside the sin that hinders your growth and destroys your fellowship with Christ and the grace He gives you.
Sword Tips #75
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)
The Christian’s life is a walk with God. To make this journey of faith you must walk carefully, thoroughly investigating the landscape of life – both to avoid sin’s pitfalls and to choose the path of righteousness.
Time is of the essence, so use it wisely. You do not know how much time you have, but while you have it, use it to do God’s will. The wisdom you will need to make godly choices in life is gained by understanding – and doing – the will of the Lord. You must and can understand God’s word. When you follow it, you walk with God.
Choose to be wise today. Understand and do God’s will. You will find it in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Redeem the time you have to walk with God and live for heaven.
Sword Tips #76
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)
The doctrine of salvation by faith only minimizes obedience as having an impact on one’s salvation. Yet, without an obedient faith one does not have a mature faith. Jesus warned it is useless to say “Lord, Lord” while not doing what he says (Luke 6:46).
In today’s passage the apostle Paul unquestionably links obedience and salvation. Christians are exhorted to bring their salvation to a full or complete accomplishment or conclusion. Reverent obedience is how God “works in you” to fulfill his will in your life.
“Work out your own salvation” does not mean everyone has to just find their own way to heaven. Nor does it mean you somehow earn your salvation. It means to develop a mature faith that genuinely obeys Christ with God-fearing devotion.
Sword Tips #77
Oh sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. (Psalm 96:1-3)
The whole earth is called upon to raise up a song of praise to the Lord who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them. The nations must hear the good news of his salvation and by declaring his marvelous works be brought to similar adoration. His people shall bless his name in song for the salvation he constantly gives them.
On this day of worship, praise the Lord for his salvation and mighty works. Join the assembly with your whole heart as you sing songs that are worthy of our great God.
Sword Tips #78
If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:17)
The difference between knowing and doing is the difference between the faith of demons and the faith of Abraham. In James 2:19, demons know “there is one God”, but they fail to do God’s will. In James 2:21-23, Abraham did what God commanded of him and by doing so his faith was made complete. Abraham knew and did God’s will. He was the friend of God. Demons know and do not do; they are the enemies of God.
Do you know what Christ’s will is for you? If so, do it and be blessed. If you do not, you can learn his will for your life in the New Testament. Ask a Christian to show you. Trust God’s word to be true. Once you know his will, do it.
Your soul is too important to do anything less than the will of Christ.
Sword Tips #79
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! (Psalm 133:1)
The unity of a family is the source of great joy. Too often, though, families are disrupted and in disarray as they suffer strife and conflict. Selfishness, jealousy, envy, pride and hate disrupt and destroy the pleasant harmony of the home. If there is discord in your family, start promoting unity instead. It is not too late.
Unity does not just happen; it is the result of hard work (see Ephesians 4:1-3). Christians must endeavor to be united upon the truth of God. Jesus prayed for this sort of unity among believers in John 17:20-21. When we build our unity upon God’s word it will bear pleasant fruit.
Pray for the unity of God’s people. And, do your part to achieve and maintain the unity that is pleasant to both God and men.
Sword Tips #80
And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:18)
God always knows what is best for us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. After all, He made us. God saw that man was alone in the new world over which he had given him dominion. Man needed companionship, so God created woman to fill the void. Together as husband and wife, the two were one flesh; alone no more.
Similarly, you are alone if God is not in your life. Nobody on earth can fill the void in a life that is lived without God. God created us to live in his presence and commune with him. Your life will continue to be incomplete until you are in a saved relationship with God.
Sin keeps you from having fellowship with God. In Christ, your sins will be forgiven. In Christ, fellowship with God is established. Do not live without God. Be saved from your sins by his Son, Jesus Christ. Let the gospel of Christ teach you how to be saved from sin to live with God (Rom. 1:16-17; 6:17-18). It is not good for you to be alone – without God.
Sword Tips #81
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)
The serpent deceived Eve with subtle lies and strong temptations. God had plainly warned of death when the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was eaten (Gen. 2:17). As then, the devil “deceives the whole world” with lies about God and his will. He entices you to believe God’s way is restrictive, harsh and too demanding to follow. He tempts you with sin’s instant pleasures, never telling you the final outcome will be eternal despair.
You do not have to experience sin to know the difference between good and evil. God told Adam and Eve what was good and what was evil. They should have trusted God. If they had followed God’s word they would have avoided the spiritual death of sin. You do not have to sin to know good and evil, either. God tells you in his word what is good and what is evil. Trust God and do his will and you will escape the death of sin.
Do not fall for the devil’s lie; Sin still brings death.
Sword Tips #82
Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself. This He said, signifying by what death He would die. (John 12:31-33)
Satan is the god of this world, the ruler of those who walk in the darkness of unbelief and the futility of sin. Jesus came to save the world, yet his death would also bring judgment against the devil and his domain. At first glance, the crucifixion of Christ seemed to signal Satan’s victory over the Son. But in truth it became the means of salvation for every sinner who will be drawn to salvation by the Savior.
The great power of the cross is that it is the means of condemning Satan and sin while also attracting sinners to the Savior. The cross of Christ offers you with a clear choice: live in the sins of the world and be condemned along with Satan, or come to Jesus and be saved from your sins and the eternal death they cause.
Choose to be baptized into his death and your sins will be washed away by the blood of the Lamb (Rom. 6:3; Acts 22:16).
Sword Tips #83
Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; Seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. (Isaiah 1:16-17)
The northern kingdom of Israel had corrupted herself with idolatry. They had rebelled against their God. Still, they had the ability to change. God’s prophet Isaiah pleaded with God’s apostate people to wash themselves of their evil deeds and learn to do good in the sight of the Lord.
This sad period in the history of Israel confirms that God’s people can indeed fall away from God and his grace. His hand was not powerless to save – their sins had separated them from their God (Isa. 59:1-2). As it was then, so it is today. When Christians rebel against God it is not an indictment against God’s willingness and power to save. God is ready and willing to save, but his grace is conditioned upon faith (Gal. 5:4-7).
Have a willing heart to repent and turn to the Lord and do good. He is willing to save you. Wash yourself in the blood of Christ (Rev. 1:5). How? “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
Sword Tips #84
But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)
God shaped and molded the children of Israel into a great nation, blessed and holy before all the nations of the earth. They chose iniquity in rebellion about their God, leaving us examples that warn us not to do as they did (1 Cor. 10:6-11).
We must allow ourselves to be shaped by the hand of our Father. We have no right to demand that he accept whatever we choose to give him. We must become the person he wants us to be. The power of the gospel is experienced as Christ is formed within the Christian (Gal. 4:19; 2:20).
Let God mold you into the moral image of the Son. Yield to his will and be shaped by the Master’s hand.
Sword Tips #85
But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. (Hebrews 13:16)
Selfishness is very unattractive. Selfishness forgets to do good for others. After all, selfishness is only concerned with pleasing self. The Christian offers pleasing sacrifices to God by remembering others before thinking of himself. Jesus Christ was not selfish. He did not selfishly try to please himself in his death; he sacrificed himself so you and I can live.
Thank God that Jesus did not forget to do good and to share his blessings with us.
Follow the example of Jesus today. God is pleased when you share and do good for others.
Sword Tips #86
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
The word of God is a living and powerful message from heaven. It has the ability to pierce deep into the heart to expose your innermost motives and convict you of your sin. If you will allow it to do its work, God’s word will correct you and save you.
The next time someone tells you not to put your trust in a “dead” book but in the “living” God, reply with this simple statement of faith: The living God has given us a living word – the Bible – not a “dead” book.
Sword Tips #87
Where can we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our hearts, saying, “The people are greater and taller than we; the cities are great and fortified up to heaven; moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.” (Deuteronomy 1:28)
God had promised Israel the land of Canaan, but they would have to fight to take possess of it. When ten of the twelve spies told the people about the giants in the land, their hearts melted. In fear and faithlessness, they refused to obey God and take the land. Consequently, they died in the wilderness and their children enter the land of promise instead.
Do not discourage your brethren through faithless words and actions. Do not complain against God’s will. Do not make excuses for failing to obey the Lord. Do not be a lazy, apathetic and neglectful Christian. Be zealous in your faith. Be the one to encourage other Christians to seize the moment to trust the Lord and live him.
Sword Tips #88
“If you will return, O Israel,” says the LORD, “Return to Me; and if you will put away your abominations out of My sight, then you shall not be moved.” (Jeremiah 4:1)
The nation of Israel was guilty of spiritual adultery. In spiritual harlotry she “went after her lovers” (the idols of the land) and forgot her husband, the Lord God (Hosea 2:13). God was willing to take her back, but she would have to put away her sins. Repentance demands it.
Are you practicing sin? If so, you have removed yourself from God’s presence and favor. Do you want God’s forgiveness? If so, like Israel you must return to God by acknowledging your sin and by putting your sin away. Give it up. This is what genuine repentance requires. Then God will receive you and establish you in his presence.
Sword Tips #89
As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. (John 15:9-10)
Here Jesus reminded his apostles of the Father’s love for him, and that he had shared that love with them. If they kept his commandments they would abide or remain in his love. Jesus set the example of keeping his Father’s commandments and abiding in his love. He expects his followers to do the same. Love offers nothing less.
Obedience is the truest form of loving faith. We should never, ever accept or promote any teaching that minimizes obedient faith as the full expression of love for God and that God’s love abides in us. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (Jno. 14:15).
Love Jesus today and every day by keeping his commandments. By doing so you will abide in the love of God.
Sword Tips #90
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15)
God is not obliged to forgive you on your terms. It will be according to his will that his forgiven is received. Jesus teaches one of those conditions here. God will forgive you of your sins “if” you forgive those who sin against you. This condition of forgiveness drives to the very heart of the one who comes to God for forgiveness. A heart that is unwilling to forgive others is not yet fit to be forgiven by God. Such a heart has not yet learned mercy – the very thing it needs so desperately from God.
Have a heart that knows the need and the blessing of merciful forgiveness. When you do, you will be able to forgive others – and to be forgiven by your God.
Sword Tips #91
Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. (Proverbs 12:1)
This proverb implies that correction results when one loves knowledge and instruction. On the other hand, one who refuses correction is brutish, foolish – “stupid”.
We all need the correction contained in God’s inspired writings (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Our foolish hearts need to be turned toward God. Our brutish actions need to be defined and refined by divine truth. Our lives need to be shaped by the knowledge of God.
Love the instruction that comes from God’s word. It teaches you how to know him and how to love him. His truth equips you to live in harmony with him and to partake of his eternal salvation. Refusal to accept correction from God’s word is indeed foolish.
Sword Tips #92
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)
All in the name of “love”, people have greatly distorted and corrupted the meaning of love. Love is not self-defined; it is not “accepting me regardless of who I am or what I do”.
God is love and defines love. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Do not tell us God loves your sin. God loves sinners but he hates sin. As long as you are practicing sin you are not abiding in the love of God. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10). If you are not keeping Christ’s commands you are not abiding in his love. That is what Jesus said.
The question is not whether God loves you; he does. But that has never meant that God accepts you while you sin against him. The real question is: Do you love God? That question is answered by whether or not you obey him.
God is love, and he has told you what is true love. Let us love one another God’s way – not in man’s selfish, self-serving perversion of love.
Sword Tips #93
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (Acts 20:28)
Paul exhorted the elders of the church at Ephesus to faithfully do their work by urging them to first be cautious of their personal faith, so they could watch for the spiritual welfare of the local church. As shepherds, elders have the God-given work of overseeing the souls of God’s blood-bought church.
Success in the spiritual work God gives you begins with self-examination and careful faithfulness. Use the inspired Scriptures to equip yourself for every good work of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Otherwise, if you are careless in your spiritual life you are ill-equipped to do the “good works” of God (Eph. 2:10).
Take heed to your personal faith and faithfully fulfill the work God gives you as a father or a mother, as a husband or a wife, as a parent or a child – as a servant in the house of God.
Sword Tips #94
Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth— those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. (John 5:28-29)
Jesus Christ promises a day of resurrection for all who die. The details are explained in 1 Corinthians 15 and should be studied by all who hold the hope of resurrection. Please note that Jesus said there will be those whose resurrection will result in life while others will be raised to condemnation. Eternal life and eternal death are before us and we choose which shall be ours.
The fact that you will be raised from the dead should impact your choices today. As you go through your day realize this world is passing away. Your time on earth is brief and coming to an end. Choosing to live by faith helps you prepare for your death and your resurrection. Become a Christian and be faithful to the Lord Jesus so that on the day of resurrection you will have eternal life in Christ and not the damnation of the wicked.
Sword Tips #95
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15)
The universe is an arranged system of celestial bodies we call the cosmos. But, John speaks of another world (“kosmos”) – the system of evil that opposes God and His will. This arrangement of evil – the world - consists of the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). You cannot be loving these things and also be loving God. It is the devil’s lie that says you can love God and also love the things that are against God and His will.
Today, choose to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). Do not give any of your affections to the world. It is passing away. It can never satisfy your soul. It only brings you death. Do the will of God and live forever (1 John 2:17).
Sword Tips #96
Like a bird that wanders from its nest is a man who wanders from his place. (Proverbs 27:8)
The little bird lies beneath the tree, its wing broken, lost and vulnerable to prey. So is the man who leaves his rightful place in life. Like the husband whose eyes wander and whose feet stray from the wife of his youth. The fire he takes into his bosom devours him for a passing moment of pleasure followed by a life of regret and shame. Or, like the father who had rather be off “with the guys” instead of at home with his children and their mother. He only has one chance to be a dad; other things of lesser importance must be given their proper place behind his family. To wander now leaves his children without a father’s love and direction.
Then, there is the man who wanders from his God. Though blessed by his heavenly Father, this man strays from God’s loving care and oversight to wander aimlessly in the darkness of doubt, sin and spiritual death. His soul is exposed to our enemy, the devil, like the bird that strays from its nest.
Do not wander from God; walk with God. In mercy he will save you and in love he will provide your needs in Christ. Walk by faith and you will not wander from your rightful place.
Sword Tips #97
Give us day by day our daily bread. (Luke 11:3)
Every day we live under the good providence of God. Rather than be consumed by covetousness, we are to trust that our heavenly Father knows and supplies our daily needs. Jesus teaches us to pray with dependence upon God for our very life. Beware of greed and materialism. The “prosperity gospel” that promotes financial success as a sign of God’s approval did not come from the One who did not have a place to lay his head (Lk. 9:58).
Trust the Lord to provide your daily needs. Be thankful to God for his good blessings. Gratitude instills contentment, protecting you against the love of money that forgets God.
Sword Tips #98
Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth. (Proverbs 27:1)
My mother told me “tomorrow never comes”. She was teaching me to make the most of my opportunities today. Life is brief and it is uncertain. You do not know what will happen tomorrow – or even if there will be a tomorrow. Those who put off until tomorrow what they should do today miss precious opportunities that may never come again. Take into account God’s will when you make future plans. You are forgetting God if you boast in tomorrow as if you have any power over it (Jas. 4:15-17).
It only makes sense to rely on God every day. You do not know what tomorrow will bring, but God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). So, let tomorrow worry about itself. Live for Christ today and always (Matt. 6:33-34)!
Sword Tips #99
One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. (Proverbs 12:26)
As a Christian you must be a godly influence, good example and righteous guide for your neighbor. “You are the salt of the earth”, said Jesus to citizens of the kingdom of heaven. You season this tasteless, godless world with your purity of faith and devotion to God. Your influence stands in contrast to the way of the wicked that leads souls to destruction. Do not follow the way of the wicked and lose your influence for Christ.
“You are the light of the world”, said the Savior to his disciples. Your life is a beacon of hope, a ray of joy in this world of sinful despair. Let your life shine through your good works of faith so others may follow your lead.
Be a guide to others today. Show them the way of the Lord by your godly example of righteous living. Warn them not to follow the wicked into spiritual disaster and death.
Sword Tips #100
But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple. (Psalm 5:7)
A prime incentive to worship God is the richness of his mercy we have received in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Christ’s ancestor David approached the Almighty in reverent worship for the abundance of his loving kindness. So must we.
Worshiping God is not a casual occurrence, contrary to what many claim and offer him these days. Coming before God in worship is a time for godly fear as we approach him with adoration and praise for his merciful love. Worship is not about you – it is about God and what he has done, is doing and will do for you through Jesus his Son. Worship God with reverent thanksgiving for His great mercy.
Sword Tips #101
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. (1 Peter 1:22-23, ESV)
Some teach that salvation from sins is not conditional upon obedience to Christ. If it were, they say, you would be “earning” your salvation (something we cannot do, Eph. 2:8-9). The apostle Peter denies this false definition of “obedience to the truth”. It is “by your obedience to the truth” that you “purified your souls”. You are redeemed by the blood of Christ, and you are purified when you obey the truth (1 Peter 1:18-19, 22). Thus, God’s grace and man’s obedient faith harmonize, not contradict.
If you have obeyed the truth and been born again, you are to have genuine brotherly love for your fellows Christians. Make it your goal today to show loving kindness to a brother or sister in Christ. By doing so you show that the word of God is abiding in you.
Sword Tips #102
“...though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him...” (Hebrews 5:8-9)
Obedience is not legalism. It is not earning or meriting salvation. That theological deception leads many to deny obedience plays a part in being saved “by grace through faith”. When you obey God’s word you are expressing your faith in God that his word is true. This type of obedience pleases God. (Read James 2:14-26 to see how and why this is so.)
Today, be careful to obey the word of God just like Jesus, who obeyed his Father’s will by suffering the death of the cross. Jesus is the source of your salvation when you obey him.
Sword Tips #103
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. (Titus 3:1-2)
Christians understand what it means to live under authority. Or at least, they should. After all, Christ lived under the authority of his Father and died on the cross instead of violating his Father’s will. We live under God’s authority and must submit to him in all things.
We also live under the rule of civil authorities. We are to obey them unless their rule conflicts with the rule of God (Acts 5:29). We are not to speak evil of others, including our rulers. Christians live peaceably, gently and humbly toward all people. While complaining, murmuring and speaking evil of rulers is nothing new in this world, do not such things define you. Rise above evil speech of rulers and give honor to whom honor is due. Distinguish yourself from those who resist authority and speak evil of dignitaries.
Sword Tips #104
The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and taken; behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord, so what wisdom is in them? (Jeremiah 8:9)
Scholars, educators, diplomats, political leaders, heads of state and even entertainers, to name a few. All these and more are viewed by many people as the wise ones of our day. But, these rarely possess true wisdom, because like their counterparts in the days of Jeremiah, they have rejected the word of the Lord. Their wisdom is of their own making – “the dictates of their own hearts” – instead of the word of God.
In whose wisdom will you trust today? Do you rely on the wisdom that comes from men or the wisdom that comes from God? God’s wisdom, revealed in the Bible, exposes the shame and futility of those who foolishly forsake God’s word. Be wise and receive the word of the Lord. Shame and folly await you when you reject God’s word.
Sword Tips #105
Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Marriage is a unique relationship God ordained between a man and a woman for life. The husband and wife are joined by God in this “one flesh” union, reflecting the divine solution to companionship and procreation. By creating woman from man, God made a special connection between the two which marriage magnifies. No longer “two”, the husband and the wife are “one flesh”. Husbands and wives should honor each other and cherish the great blessing of marriage they have from God.
In a time when marriage is greatly dishonored by cohabitation without marriage, by infidelity and divorce, and by those who try to redefine marriage as same-sex and polygamous, those who honor God must continue to honor marriage as God gave it and as Jesus endorsed it (Matthew 19:4-6; Hebrews 13:4). Respect your spouse today with kind words and acts of unselfish service. You will not regret it; You will be blessed for it.
Sword Tips #106
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12)
Pride is one of our Adversary’s most subtle weapons. It ensnares the heart while convincing us we are immune to its power. Pride says there is no urgent need to listen carefully to the warnings against sin. Pride says, “I am spiritually strong and can handle whatever temptation comes my way!” Pride convinces you that you cannot be touched by sin’s power. It is precisely at that moment that the hook is set. Prideful self-confidence fails to recognize the danger of sin and the power of temptation. “It will never happen to me” is just when it can (and most likely will) happen. God will provide you ways of escape when temptations come. And make no mistake, temptation will come. You must put your faith in God and not in yourself. Humble yourself before God and be faithful to him. Then, you will be able to withstand sin’s temptation (1 Cor. 10:13).
Sword Tips #107
In the Lord I put my trust; How can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain”? (Psalm 11:1)
A Christian will face times of trial when he or she feels under siege by the forces of the devil. Confronted by the world’s constant denials of God, rampant immorality and injustices can start to wear down the faith of the righteous. You may feel like just running away. When David’s life was threatened some advised him to flee to the mountains for protection. But he would valiantly continue to trust the Lord and live by faith. His son Solomon correctly said “the righteous are bold as a lion” (Prov. 28:1).
Live by faith today and do not be afraid. The Lord God continues to rule, he sees and helps the upright (Heb. 13:6). Never forget that faith is the victory that has overcome the world (1 Jno. 5:4).
Sword Tips #108
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
What you focus on in your life says a lot about who you are and where you are going. The Christian walks by faith in this world of sin. With the eyes of faith we see the eternal glory of things that transcend this world. We do not despair when we watch our bodies age until finally we die. We are not discouraged when we are opposed because we follow Christ. Our faith is invigorated daily because we anticipate eternal glory. We live for heaven while walking this earth. That is something those who do not know God cannot grasp. For what do the faithless have to live? Nothing more than this life, and after that comes an eternity of despair. How sad that they do not come to Christ for salvation and the hope of heaven.
My brother and sister in Christ, do not let the world turn your focus away from your heavenly home. Your hope is laid up in heaven, so live for heaven every day.
Sword Tips #109
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
The Christian’s life is a race. It is a marathon, cross-country and steeple-chase all rolled up into one. Lay aside everything in your life that weighs you down and prevents your successful life of faith. Put away every sin that traps you and brings you under its power. Look unto Jesus today and keep your faith alive and active. He blazed the trail so you may be saved by grace, through faith. By his redemptive work, Jesus also makes it possible for your faith to be complete. His example of faithful endurance teaches you how to run your race and receive the crown of righteousness. Keep your eyes on Jesus and keeping running the race set before you.
Sword Tips #110
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)
One part of spiritual growth is developing knowledge-based discernment. As you grow in your knowledge and use of God’s word you develop the perception to distinguish between what God approves and what he rejects. This is the awareness to choose between good and evil. By using this trait you will bear righteous fruit and avoid being a stumbling block to others.
Train yourself to know the difference between good and evil by learning God’s word. Put your knowledge into practice and choose what is good. By using spiritual discernment you will abound in love for God and for the people in your life. Most importantly, your life will give honor to God.
Sword Tips #111
Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. (Revelation 2:4-5)
This warning to repent of sin or lose their identity before Christ was sent to the church in Ephesus. Imagine, God’s people were in jeopardy of losing their fellowship with Jesus Christ! It is a serious and sobering reminder that we must continue to live by faith and not become half-hearted and negligent in our faith. Christ will not walk among churches whose members love other things than him. Christians cannot live like the devil and then claim fellowship with Christ. This is a clear statement that those who once loved Christ may fall back into sin and forfeit Christ’s presence and blessings. Christian friend, if that has happened in your life, “repent and do the first works”. This warning does not accuse God’s ability to save you; it shows that sin still separates people from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). Use today to repent of sin in your life so that fellowship with the Savior is restored and your love for him is renewed.
Sword Tips #112
“For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence,” says the Lord of hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” (Malachi 2:16)
God hates divorce. Yet, divorce is seen by many people as an appropriate way to deal with an unwanted marriage. Treachery is often at the core of divorce – all in the name of finding happiness. Not surprisingly, Christians have been influenced to think putting away one’s mate to whom God joined them for life is somehow acceptable to God, or at least, allowable. But, ending one’s God-approved marriage for reasons less than the sexual infidelity of one’s spouse does not have Christ’s approval (Matt. 19:6, 9). When God joins a husband and wife together it is for life (Matt. 19:3-5). So, marriage must be carefully entered into and vigorously defended against all intrusions and disruptions. If you are married, today is a good day to reinforce your love and devotion for your mate.
If you are not yet married, be wise in selecting a lifelong companion who shares your commitment to lifelong marriage. And, if you are in a failing marriage, realize divorce is not God’s option for you. Seek godly remedies instead of compounding the problem with divorce. God designed marriage for your happiness.
Sword Tips #113
Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight. (Proverbs 11:1)
Most of us want accurate scales when we are buying fruits and vegetables at the grocery store. In fact, when it comes to buying most anything by weight and measure, we demand accuracy. We will not accept buying less than a gallon of gasoline when we pay for one gallon. At the same time, the honest person is careful when he sells his product that his measurements are true. He gives a full gallon to the customer because that is what he purchased. This proverb reminds us God values honesty and is disgusted by dishonesty and deceit. The practice of having one set of lighter weights for selling and another set of heavier weights for buying is not even to enter into our mind. Successful business is not about “pulling one over” on others and getting ahead at their expense. God calls on us to be honest and fair in all our transactions.
Sword Tips #114
Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14)
The person who believes he or she never needs the advice of others is an arrogant fool. God arranged the family to be the first place where good, wise and godly counsel ought to be sought and given. Parents ought to be wise counselors for their children, and children ought to go to them for advice shaped by years of experience and by faith in the Lord. Brethren in Christ who share your commitment to God’s truth and godliness are also an important source of counsel in times of struggles and trials of faith. Life decisions ought to be made with the multitude of godly counselors found in God’s word; counsel from the Son of God and his apostles and prophets of Christ. Following the counsel of God’s word always brings safety.
Sword Tips #115
Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
“Friendship evangelism” suggests that a person will not be interested in the gospel until you make a personal connection with them. The conversion of the Thessalonians destroys this notion. It was the power of the gospel, not the power of friendship, which grabbed their attention and saved their souls. These people did not know Paul before they heard the gospel he preached. Paul was only in Thessalonica for about three weeks. While there, Paul filled his time with teaching about Christ, sin and salvation, not “cultivating friendships” so people could be reached with the gospel. He preached the gospel and it convicted good and honest hearts. We are not against friendships, but they are not a prerequisite to saving the lost. The gospel convicts the lost when their hearts are willing to listen and believe it. The question is whether we will trust its power to save.
Sword Tips #116
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good. (Psalm 14:1)
Today is April Fool’s Day, a time for practical jokes and good-natured humor. But there is nothing humorous about the person who denies the reality, righteousness and justice of Almighty God. We recently heard that one well-known TV personality (who is an atheist) called God a “mass murderer” for the flood of Noah’s day. This ignorant statement reflects the foolish mind that has rejected God. Such a mind must also reject absolute standards of truth, moral accountability and moral justice (including the punishment of sin). This fool refuses to see that people brought punishment upon themselves when they chose to sin instead of follow God’s will. In the days of Noah “the wickedness of man was great in the earth” and “every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Mankind’s sin grieved God’s heart and brought about sin’s punishment (Genesis 6:6-8). It remains true that “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20).
You will not escape the punishment of your sins by saying, “There is no God”. But, you can be forgiven of your sins through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t be a fool; believe in God and follow His Son Jesus.
Sword Tips #117
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
(1 John 2:3-6)
Do you know Jesus? How do you know you know him? Many people say they know Jesus, yet their lives do not show it. They neither listen to his word nor obey his commands. The apostle John is clear: it is the person who obeys the word of Christ who knows that he knows Jesus. Obeying Christ gives the Christian firm assurance of his relationship with Christ. John says you are not telling the truth if you say that you know Christ but you are disobeying him. The person who “keeps his word” is the one who has a mature love for God. Obedience is not coercion nor meritorious; it is the willing submission of oneself to the Lord. When you obey the word of Christ you live as he lived and abide in him. That’s where real assurance is found!
You can begin knowing Christ today by obeying his commands to believe and to be baptized to be saved (Mark 16:15-16). Once you do, then continue to keep his commands so that you know that you know him.
Sword Tips #118
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. (Matthew 3:7-9)
One’s religious heritage is not a guarantee of God’s blessings. Having Abraham as their father did not insure the Pharisees and Sadducees God’s approval. John’s baptism was “for the remission of sins” (read Mark 1:4). But, an outward action like baptism must be the fruit of genuine repentance of sin. Too often it is turned into a religious display that is foreign to the meaning and purpose given it in Scripture.
A day of wrath and righteous judgment against sin is coming, that is certain. You can escape wrath through faith in Christ that obeys his command to repent and be baptized “for the remission of sins” (read Acts 2:36-41). Do not be among those rebuked by Jesus, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46) Flee the wrath to come. Believe and obey Jesus Christ. God will save you, but it will be on his terms – not yours.
Sword Tips #119
But and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. (2 Peter 3:15-16)
God expects us to handle his Scriptures properly. To do so, we must be educated in God’s word by reading, studying and meditating upon the Bible. We are not at liberty to twist the Scriptures to fit our personal desires, prejudices and self-defined interests. The word of God that Christ’s apostles wrote is as relevant today as it was in the first century. Peter identified the writings of Paul as Scripture and acknowledged some things Paul wrote are “hard to understand”. But notice, he does not say they are impossible to understand. You can know God’s word. He has communicated his will so that you can understand it and be blessed by following it. Peter explains that the untaught and unstable twist the Scriptures, leading to their spiritual demise. Do not read into the Bible what it does not say. Just as you do not want others to twist your words, be careful not to twist God’s word. Your salvation is affected by how you use the Scriptures.
Sword Tips #120
How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep—So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man. (Proverbs 6:9-11)
It is easy to put off things we know we should do. Procrastination may be a sign of laziness, a most unattractive trait. If you put off doing your work you will eventually be in need. Poverty will come as an intruder, plundering your life. Better to diligently work while you have been given the ability and opportunity to do so, than by delay be brought to sorrow.
The same is true of spiritual work. Jesus said he “must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4). Jesus was not a sluggard! He set the example for us to aggressively engage in doing the work of God. You can find out the work God has for you to do by looking into his “perfect law of liberty” and being a “doer of the word” (James 1:22-25). Do not put off doing God’s will. Spiritual laziness results in spiritual poverty. “Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today” is still sound advice.
Sword Tips #121
But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)
The story of Ruth is a great story of love’s devotion. A young widow and stranger in Israel, her steadfast devotion to her mother-in-law Naomi is a striking example of love’s unselfishness and trust in the face of uncertainty and adversity. To whom have you devoted yourself: Your husband or your wife? An ailing parent? A child? A friend? Ruth’s fidelity is a model worthy of imitation.
The Christian’s first devotion must always be to Jesus Christ. To love anyone or anything more than him makes us unworthy of him (read Matthew 10:37-39). Like Ruth, we must “lose” our life for Christ’s sake in order to “find” it. Ruth was greatly blessed because of her devoted love for Naomi, her people and her God. Show love’s devotion to those in your life today. Give up every selfish impulse and serve Christ by serving others.
Sword Tips #122
You who fear the Lord, praise Him! All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, and fear Him, all you offspring of Israel! For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from Him; but when He cried to Him, He heard. (Psalm 22:23-24)
God’s people honor and reverence him because he is not far from them. He hears their cries and responds with deliverance and tender mercy when they are afflicted. As God did not despise and reject David in his time of need, so it is with God’s children today who petition him. Like David, let us “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Whatever trial you face today, remember that God has not forsaken you. As a Christian you have the privilege of prayer and the assurance that God is very near to hear you and bless you. Praise his name for his great mercy and faithfulness to his people!
Sword Tips #123
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)
Having completed his great thesis on salvation by faith (Romans 1-11), with Romans 12:1 Paul the apostle begins giving practical exhortations to the “beloved of God” (Romans 1:7). Because Christians have received the great mercies of God in Christ, we are obliged to offer our bodies to God as living sacrifices, presented to God to accomplish his will. In fact, Paul says it is our “reasonable” service. By a deliberate act of will you choose to make this offering of yourself to God. Since you have been saved by God’s mercy through faith, you now give your life to God, conforming to his holiness instead of to the world of sin (see Romans 12:2). Live a holy life today. It is your spiritual service that God accepts.
Sword Tips #124
For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother. (Philemon 1:7)
Paul loved Philemon and described him as a “fellow laborer” (1:1). As he wrote, Paul took great joy and comfort in the love Philemon showed for his brethren. Philemon had encouraged other Christians, refreshing their hearts by his words and his deeds. Are you encouraging your fellow Christians like Philemon? By being faithful to Christ you refresh the hearts of others, strengthening them by your example of godliness. By a kind word or generous deed, you help bolster the spirit of one who may be faltering and ready to fall. Just a cup of cold water given in Christ’s name does not go unnoticed by the Lord (read Matthew 10:42). Use today to reach out to a brother or sister in Christ and refresh their heart with love’s kindness. You will be refreshed, too.
Sword Tips #125
All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?” (Daniel 4:35)
The sovereign rule of God over people and nations is a recurring theme in the Bible. God has ordained civil authority for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of evildoers (read Romans 13:1-7). When any nation refuses to acknowledge God’s supremacy it will meet its demise. God’s purposes will be accomplished, and we have no right to resist and reject his will. Make it a point today to meditate on the supreme rule of God over your life. Doing so will help you to faithfully submit to God in all things.
Sword Tips #126
Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, for I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have enlarged; bring me out of my distresses! Look on my affliction and my pain, and forgive all my sins. Consider my enemies, for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred. (Psalm 25:16-19)
God alone is the One whose mercy overcomes the pain, sorrow and trials of sin. David faced danger from his enemies, as well as loneliness and distress caused by sin. Only God’s forgiveness could relieve the grief of his heart and assure his protection from those who hated him. Do not choose to let your own sins or the hateful treatment of others lead you into the darkness of despair. God is eager to forgive your sins in Christ and raise you up to sit with him in heavenly places. He is abundant in mercy and comforts all who will put their trust in him.
Sword Tips #127
“For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.” (Malachi 3:6)
God’s nature does not change. He is always holy, righteous, just, true, pure and good. He is a God of loving mercy to those who love and obey him, as well as a God of justice who punishes evildoers. God is eternal, assuring us that he has always been and will always be the same. God’s unchanging nature gives the faithful Christian comfort in times of stress and trial, for his conduct is always consistent with his nature. “I will never leave you nor forsake you” is the promise of our unchanging God “who cannot lie” (Heb. 13:5; Tit. 1:2). “So we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:6)
Sword Tips #128
He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)
Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane is a model of unselfish surrender and resolute commitment. He was driven to fully accomplish the will of his heavenly Father. In the shadow of the cross Christ fully sacrificed his desire to the will of the Father. Those who wear the name of Christ must also sacrifice themselves as he did. The dread of death by crucifixion did not deter Jesus from doing the Father’s will. Whatever challenges your faith faces today, remember the sacrifice of Jesus and yield up your personal will to the will of your heavenly Father. Great things can be accomplished for God when you sacrifice yourself to the will of the Father.
Sword Tips #129
Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42)
After finding his apostles wearily sleeping while he prayed in Gethsemane, Jesus warned them to “watch and pray” to avoid falling into temptation (Matt. 26:41). Then, he returned to prayer. Jesus fully submitted his desire to escape the crushing cruelty of the cross to accepting and obeying the will of the Father. Such submission is a trademark of the obedience that identifies us as disciples of Christ. Only by such dedicated submission can we faithfully “watch and pray” and avoid sin. As you face temptation today, remember Jesus and submit your will totally to the will of the Father. Such spiritual alertness will guard you against the weakness of the flesh and protect you against sin.
Sword Tips #130
And he came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. (Matthew 26:43-44)
For a second time, sleep overcame the apostles while Jesus prayed in Gethsemane. Having previously warned them to be watchful in prayer, this time he did not wake them. When we fail to heed God’s warnings he will not force our compliance; we must prefer and choose spiritual alertness to apathy. While the disciples slept, Jesus repeated his prayer of submissive obedience and trust in the Father. Like Jesus, we must be steadfast in obeying the Father’s will. Do not grow weary in your faithfulness to the Lord. Steadfastly resist and endure the temptation to fall asleep and be exposed to the dangers of the devil.
Sword Tips #131
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
(1 Timothy 6:6-8)
God’s way of measuring wealth is very different from how the world measures it. A reverent life of contentment is abundant wealth to the person who is living for heaven and not this world. We entered this world with nothing and we shall exit it exactly the same way. How shortsighted it is to think material possessions satisfy the longings of the immortal soul. God promises food and clothing to the righteous; the necessary things on earth as they live for heaven. The trinkets and baubles of this world will never satisfy your craving for peace, self-respect and salvation from your sins. Materialism will never give you contentment – it always leaves you wanting more. How truly empty is such a life! Be content with what you have, and be thankful as you trust God to provide your daily bread. Godly contentment is among the true riches worldliness never acquires.
Sword Tips #132
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:9-10)
When godly contentment is replaced by an overriding will to be rich, one falls into many hurtful lusts that consume men in death and damnation. The love of money is a source of all manner of evil that destroys souls. Greediness is the direct opposite of contentment. It thrusts a dagger through the hearts of those who have been deceived into thinking accumulating things equals happiness. Money cannot buy salvation from sin, peace with God and with yourself, or a home in heaven. These can only be obtained through faith in Jesus Christ. The love of money is a futile quest for fulfillment that will forever remain elusive. True riches are laid up in heaven by those who love God. Decide to be that person every day and find rest for your soul instead of the sorrow of sin.
Sword Tips #133
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You. (Psalm 139:17-18)
Have you ever considered how many thoughts God has every moment of every day? They are immeasurably infinite – mortal beings cannot count them – they are as numberless as the sand of the sea. And yet, God thinks of the sparrow – and God thinks of you. How precious you are to him! The thoughts of God are very precious to those who put their faith in him. Take time today to meditate on the great thoughts God has revealed in his word, the Bible. It contains God’s thoughts of love for you and his will for you. Honor God by valuing and faithfully following his precious thoughts. Remember, he constantly thinks of you.
Sword Tips #134
“Now consider this, you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver: Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; and to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50:22-23)
Even as men and women forget God and grievously sin against him, God yearns for their repentance and salvation. But, he is also very clear; those who choose to forget him face a judgment from which none can deliver. Judgment for sin is certain, yet God’s mercy is extended still. While you still draw breath you can choose to turn away from your sins to serve God and offer him praise for his longsuffering and merciful forgiveness. It is not too late. Arrange your conduct according to divine truth and he will show you his salvation.
Sword Tips #135
“Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross.” (Matthew 27:32)
On that treacherous day of dishonor and death, Jesus willingly bore the reproach of the cross to be the Savior of the world. As they led him to Golgotha (the place of a skull), the Romans compelled Simon to bear Christ’s instrument of execution. Now fix your gaze on that scene, for it is a graphic illustration of what Jesus meant when he said to all who would follow him: “let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Lk. 9:23). The self-sacrifice you see in Jesus is mandatory when you follow Jesus. Like Simon, bearing burdens (including those of others) will be required of you when you follow Jesus. You cannot follow Jesus without fully surrendering yourself and faithfully bearing the burdens that come with being a Christian. Bear your cross for Jesus today. His burden is light and his reward is everlasting.
Sword Tips #136
“You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” (1 Corinthians 7:23)
Christians have been redeemed from sin by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. The cost of redemption was great, which is all the more reason disciples of Jesus must be careful never to compromise their faith and become enslaved to the will and dictates of men. The blood of Jesus freed you from the slavery of sin. Do not return to its bondage by compromising or even forfeiting your faith in order to please people. In this case, Paul had in view a spouse whose lack of faith threatened the believer’s marriage (see 1 Cor. 7:15). Christ comes first; even before a spouse. Glorify God and do not forsake him for the sake of anyone else. Choose to serve Christ and do not be a slave to the sinful requests of others.
Sword Tips #137
‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”‘ “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:19-21)
The abundance of material goods does not guarantee “many years” of happy life on earth, nor even one day. If you equate riches with security then you are using the wrong measuring stick. Neither can material goods secure blessings for your soul. These severe limitations to the power of property ought to extinguish covetousness from your heart and compel richness toward God (to paraphrase J. W. McGarvey from The Fourfold Gospel, 319-320). McGarvey also observed, “To be rich in character is to be rich toward God.”
Choose to be rich in character. Be grateful to God for your material blessings and be generous in your use of them to help others. Never trust in the uncertainty of riches, but in the living God and the eternal riches of heaven.
Sword Tips #138
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2)
God’s grace is greater than sin. Yet, this great truth must not lead us to develop a careless attitude toward sin. The sinner dies to sin when he (or she) is baptized into Christ. The sinner is saved and raised from sin’s death to live in newness of life (read Romans 6:3-5). Being now saved “by grace...through faith”, the Christian no longer continues to practice sin, but instead chooses to be an obedient servant of righteousness (read Romans 6:6-18). Christians must not continue living in sin. Christians are saved from their sins, not saved while they continue to practice sin. If you are a Christian and you continue to serve sin instead of righteousness, you will not be saved; “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Here then is the danger of thinking Christians can never so sin as to lose their souls. It convinces people God’s grace will save them in spite of their decision to continue practicing sin. That is the very error Paul refutes in today’s verse! Those who belong to Christ choose to serve righteousness, not sin. Who are you serving today – and why?
Sword Tips #139
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11)
God wants to protect you against the evil of sin. He certainly has the power to do so. But it is clear from this verse that there is more to it than that. You, dear Christian, must put on the armor of God. You must have the faith to be “strong in the Lord and the strength of His might.” It is God’s armor and not your strength that will victoriously protect you against the devil. You are weak without it, but with it you will “be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Eph. 6:13). The armor of God is inseparably connected to God’s word, and is explained in Ephesians 6:14-17. Do you want to have a strong faith and live for Jesus? If so, then put on the armor God provides you. The battle for your soul has already begun.
Sword Tips #140
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Evil is real and it is more menacing than any mortal opponent. You are at war with unseen spiritual forces that have one goal: to destroy your soul forever. The devil does not intend to be alone in hell. By choosing to live in sin, many have already chosen to join him there. He wants you to be there, too. He has amassed his army of darkness to try to overwhelm you and lure you into sin and its spiritual death. But, you do not have to surrender to the enemy. Jesus has already won the victory over sin and death. Put your faith in his strength, live by faith and resist evil. The battle is difficult, but you are more than conqueror through Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Sword Tips #141
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness...” (Ephesians 6:13-14)
The battle against evil is only won by the strength of the Lord. Therefore, to prevail over your spiritual enemies you must put on God’s armor (Eph. 6:12). In this passage of Scripture, Paul uses the soldier to figuratively describes the protection Christ gives you for your spiritual battle. First, gird your loins with truth. A soldier must be agile in battle. Truth gives you the ability to aggressively engage the father of lies without hindrances. God’s truth defeats the deceptions of the devil. You also need righteousness to protect your life from the death blows of sin. As the breastplate shields the soldier’s vital organs, integrity, purity of life and sincere piety guard your life in Christ. Dedicate yourself to truth and righteousness. They are your allies in your fight against sin. They make you strong in the Lord.
Sword Tips #142
“...and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace...” (Ephesians 6:15)
Good footwear is vital to a soldier. The Roman soldier’s footwear consisted of two parts. First, the sandals that covered the feet, which usually had nails or spikes to hold the ground firmly. Then, the ankles were protected with greaves made of brass. If the feet are not in good shape the soldier is helpless on the battlefield. The same is true of the soldier of Christ. The gospel of peace equips you with ready eagerness to battle your Adversary, the devil. Prepare yourself with the gospel to withstand evil. It will give you a firm footing to resist temptation and to bear righteous fruit. The gospel of peace gives you peace with God when you use it in spiritual battle. Peace with God protects you and sustains you as you press on to victory in Jesus. Your enemy is ready to attack; be prepared with the gospel and find peace for your soul.
Sword Tips #143
“...above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” (Ephesians 6:16)
The shield of the Roman soldier was extremely important, being held above the body to protect the warrior from incoming spears, arrows and other projectiles. A soldier’s shield gave him security; without it he was open to the enemy’s deadly assault. My Christian brother or sister, your faith is vital to the your character and conduct. Without faith you are exposed and vulnerable to the devil’s deadly attacks against your soul. On the other hand, the devil is powerless before faith. Trust God and obey his word – this is the faith that wins the day against “the spiritual host of wickedness” (Eph. 6:12). Put your faith in the Lord today and be strong in his might. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world (1 Jno. 5:4)!
Sword Tips #144
“And take the helmet of salvation...” (Ephesians 6:17)
The Roman soldier’s helmet was a cap of thick leather or brass that was fitted to the head. An ornamental plume often crowned its crest. When he wrote the Thessalonians, Paul had described our helmet as the “hope of salvation” (1 Thess. 5:8). A soldier is not likely to fight well if he has no hope of victory. As the helmet guards the head, the hope of salvation defends the soul from the blows of the enemy. Remember, the salvation of your soul is the result of your faith (1 Pet. 1:9). This is why you fight against the devil. Never lose sight of your eternal salvation. Set your eyes on heaven and resist sin’s temptations. Your salvation is powerful to deflect the attacks of Satan in the day of battle.
Sword Tips #145
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God...” (Ephesians 6:17)
The Roman soldier would be ill-equipped for battle without his sword. Likewise, the Christian who does not take into spiritual battle the word of God which the Spirit of God supplies is unprepared for the fight. Your sword is not a carnal weapon, yet it has the ability to overwhelm every opponent. “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). God’s word is living; it is relevant in today’s world. Use it in your life today. God’s word is powerful and sharp. Use it to extract sin from your heart and replace it with holiness and righteousness. As a soldier must be familiar with his sword to successfully use it, you must be familiar with God’s word. Read it, learn it, believe it and live it. Rely on the sword of the Spirit and you will be victorious over every spiritual enemy you face.
Sword Tips #146
“...praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—” (Ephesians 6:18)
Prayer is indispensable to the Christian soldier. Prayer is an expression of your faith; your trust and reliance upon the Lord in time of battle. Prayerful requests of God are always on the heart of the Christian – for strength in the time of trial, for protection in the time of danger, and for victory against every spiritual foe. Jesus taught “that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Lk. 18:1). Keep on praying, not only for yourself, but also for all the saints of God. Prayer is powerful and effective, for it brings our requests before Almighty God. God hears and answers your petitions in your fight against the god of this world. My brethren – don’t forget to pray!
Sword Tips #147
“...and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Ephesians 6:19-20)
Having just urged Christians to put on the whole armor of God and to always pray for all the people of God, the apostle Paul asked them to also pray for him. He was in prison because of his work as an apostle of Christ, and he needed boldness to keep on speaking the gospel. You see, strong Christians need our prayers, too. No one is immune from the temptation to be silent when we ought to speak up for Christ. Today, pray that weak and struggling Christians will be strong in the Lord. And while you are doing so, do not forget to pray for those who are strong in the faith.
Sword Tips #148
Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)
King Solomon makes a compelling reason to remember God when you are young. As you get older, the way you think and the things you do can make it harder to turn to God in fullness of faith. As youth gives way to age you can convince yourself that you cannot change who you are and what you do. Or, you may believe you do not need to change. The longer you live without God the easier it is to keep doing so. Your heart becomes hard against God and his truth as sin becomes entrenched in your thinking and conduct. Take pleasure in God early and often; rejoice in his blessings and live in his truth. By doing so you can face getting older with faith instead of doubt.
Sword Tips #149
“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!” (Ezekiel 18:30-32)
The history of the Old Testament nation of Israel teaches us that judgment for sin is assured. Yet, the Lord God is longsuffering and takes no pleasure in the death of sinners. He pleaded with the house of Israel to “repent, and turn” from their sins so they would not face ruin. But, rebellious Israel refused to hear and obey God, and the nation was destroyed. Repentance requires “a new heart and a new spirit” that puts away all the sins that are being committed against God. Just as God pleaded with Israel, he continues to plead with lost souls today through the gospel of his Son, Jesus Christ. Why will you continue on a death spiral away from God and from all his goodness and blessings? God is pleading with you to come to him and live. Do so today by repenting and turning from all your sins: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins...” (Acts 2:38). Obey Jesus now – before the day of judgment arrives.
Sword Tips #150
“Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” (Colossians 1:28)
What kind of preaching do you hear from your preacher? Is it designed to entertain an audience of spectators? It is filled with pleas for money? It is political in its content? Gospel preaching is none of these things. Preaching Jesus includes warnings and instruction with all wisdom. The purpose of preaching Jesus is to present every person perfect (whole, mature, complete) in Christ. Be sure to insist on preaching that proclaims the word of God and not the will of men. And, be sure to take God’s word to heart and grow to maturity in Christ.
Sword Tips #151
He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
Long before the days of Isaiah and down to this moment, people have been calling evil good, and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). The world generally thinks God does not make requirements of them. The Bible teaches that God defines what is good and that he requires this goodness of all (just as he required of Israel in the days of Micah). Be just in your treatment of others (Jesus said we should treat others the way we want to be treated, Matt. 7:12). Show mercy to others (Jesus said the merciful shall obtain mercy, Matt. 5:7). Be humble in heart and walk with God (God gives grace to the humble, Jas. 4:6). These are God’s good words to live by in a world ruled by injustice, no mercy and prideful arrogance.
Sword Tips #152
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-14)
This great promise that the Holy Spirit would come to the apostles and guide them into all truth gives great comfort to Christians today. The truth he guided them into is from heaven, not this world. It contains heaven’s authority to save you from sin, to guide your life in righteousness and to lead you to heaven. The Holy Spirit guided them into “all” truth. That means the apostolic message is complete and sufficient, and we have no need to add anything to it to enhance our relationship with God. The Holy Spirit guides you today by means of the truth he revealed to Christ’s apostles and which they, in turn, preached to the world. Trust the New Testament of Christ and obey its truth each day. By doing so you honor Christ and have his eternal blessings. Great comfort, indeed!
Sword Tips #153
“There is a generation that curses its father, and does not bless its mother.” (Proverbs 30:11)
God is very clear that he expects children to honor their parents. Those who gave you life and sustained your life when you were incapable of doing so for yourself deserve your thanks and your respect. A generation that holds their fathers in contempt and are ungrateful toward their mothers cannot long endure. Parental honor is a core value that enriches a society with decency, kindness and goodness. Conversely, dishonoring parents displays arrogant selfishness which undermines a nation. And don’t forget, God is a perfect parent, yet still his children dishonor him with sinful unbelief. What about you? Are you honoring your heavenly Father? Use today to honor your heavenly Father by respecting your earthly parents.
Sword Tips #154
“There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness.” (Proverbs 30:12)
Self-righteousness is a sin that is repulsive to God. Where there is self-righteousness there is also hypocrisy. This is the Pharisee problem: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men” (Luke 18:11). As long as you are unwilling to examine your own heart and see your own sins you will never turn to God to be cleansed of your guilt of sin. Stop comparing yourself to others and start comparing yourself to God’s word of truth. You will find plenty of reasons to go to Christ Jesus to be cleansed of your sin. Until you do so, the filth of sin remains.
Sword Tips #155
“There is a generation—oh how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up.” (Proverbs 30:13)
Having just rebuked self-righteousness, the wise man now addresses its companion, arrogance. Prideful conceit looks down with contempt on those it views as inferior to itself (which is everyone). Pride causes you to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think. A condemned generation views humility as weakness while thriving on selfishness and pride. The Bible warns of those who are “lovers of themselves” instead of “lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:2, 4). Instead of arrogance, chose to be humble. Humility is true strength of character. Remember, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble”.
Sword Tips #156
“There is a generation whose teeth are like swords, and whose fangs are like knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.” (Proverbs 30:14)
There is nothing new in the greedy oppressing the weak in order to enrich themselves. Like ravenous wolves, those who are driven by greed for money and possessions still satisfy their hunger for more by devouring the poor. Unable to resist them, the weak become their victims. Do not be counted among such a worthless generation. Overcome greed with contentment. This is accomplished by having a heavenly value system. Instead of taking advantage of others and calling it “good business”, treat others like you want to be treated. That rule is still golden! Use what you possess to help others. Do so freely and without expectation of return, and you have treasures in heaven.
Sword Tips #157
“See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.” (1 Thessalonians 5:15)
The world teaches people to “get even” and to give “payback” when someone wrongs you. The gospel of Christ teaches exactly the opposite. The way of the cross is not to strike back in revenge when you have been wronged. Instead, pursue things that will be good for you and for everyone else. To harm someone when they have harmed you reduced you to their level of evil. Why do you want to be like the person who treated you in an evil, hurtful way? Elevate yourself about the tit-for-tat mentality. When Jesus was reviled he did not revile in return – he committed himself to the Father and his justice. If someone mistreats you today, follow the example of Jesus and do not give evil in return. Do what is good and you will be like Jesus. Overcome evil with good.
Sword Tips #158
“Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:51-53)
Here Jesus explains the division that results when a person follows him. The redemptive work of the Prince of Peace brought to the world the means of obtaining peace with God. By doing so he also brought division. Truth separates believers from unbelievers. The gospel causes separation between father and son, mother and daughter. The gospel of Christ brings peace as well as disruption. The gospel unites with God every believer who obeys it, while separating them from those who reject Jesus. Will you stand with Christ even when it means choosing Jesus rather than your family? When you follow Jesus you must accept that those you love may not choose to follow him. The Christian chooses to put Christ before everyone else. It is not an easy choice, but one you can and must make to have peace with God.
Sword Tips #159
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8)
The crucial part of saving faith is obeying what God commands even when we do not fully understand why he commands it. Faith takes God at his word and does what he commands us without arguing, objecting or refusing him. Abraham did not know where he was going, but he trusted God. God saw and blessed his obedient faith. (You can read about this event in Genesis 12:1-9.) The New Testament of Christ includes commands to be obeyed in order to be saved and to please God. We cannot refuse to obey Christ and claim to have saving faith. Such is an incomplete faith like the demons possess (James 2:19). God’s commands are for your good. Live by faith. Obey him and you will receive an eternal inheritance.
Sword Tips #160
“I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’” (Jeremiah 23:25)
Today there are those who claim visions and dreams from God, just as in the days of Jeremiah. And, like those days long ago, they are false prophets. They tell us they are God’s spokesmen, but God does not speak today through visions and dreams. He speaks to us by His Son Jesus, whose word is the New Testament (Hebrews 1:1-2; Matthew 28:18-20). The inspired and completed New Testament is “all truth” we need to be sanctified before God (John 16:13; 17:17). Any claim of heavenly messages by people in our day must stand up to the rigorous test of the inspired Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Jno. 4:1, 6). Be careful to listen to God’s word and not false dreams. The Scriptures are true and is how God is speaking to you. Are you listening?
Sword Tips #161
“A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.” (Proverbs 29:11)
It is not wise to “lead with your emotions”. Our feelings can blind us and lead us down paths we later wish we had never traveled. Restrain your emotions and do not be rash with your words. Solomon went on to observe that there is more hope for a fool than for the person who speaks before he thinks (Prov. 29:20). Self-control is much wiser than “venting” your emotions. Words spoken in frustration, anger or hate, for example, can never be retrieved. The damage is done. How much better to be wise and control yourself so you will not have to say, “I regret having said that!”
Sword Tips #162
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)
Jesus is very clear that hell is real. Unless you are willing to acknowledge the existence of hell you will do very little to avoid it. We know many people do not wish to believe what Jesus taught about hell being real, but, that does not change the truth he taught. For all who believe and obey Jesus, the reality of hell (and heaven) compels us to reverence God, shun sin and live “soberly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12). While we long for heaven’s joy and peace we also dread hell’s torment and anguish (Rom. 2:7-11). Fear God and keep his commandments to prepare for heaven and avoid hell (Eccl. 12:13).
Sword Tips #163
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)
Heaven is real, and its inheritance of eternal life is reserved for those who live by faith. The world says heaven is a foolish fantasy and a vain hope. That is exactly what our adversary, the devil, wishes the world to believe. But Jesus Christ promised eternal life to all who are born again. Christians have a living hope because Jesus was raised from the dead. Our inheritance does not decay; it is imperishable. Our inheritance is unsoiled by the defilement of sin; it is always and ever brilliant. It is reserved in heaven for all who are saved by grace, through faith. Oh yes, heaven is very real. You and I have a choice where we will spend eternity; heaven or hell. We are living that choice every day. Live for heaven – today and every day.
Sword Tips #164
“Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31)
This world and everything in it is the result of six days of God’s creative work. One cannot believe the Bible is the word of God while simultaneously rejecting the fundamental truth with which the Bible begins: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). God spoke and this world stood fast (Psa. 33:6, 9). Please note that God’s creation was “very good”. There were no mistakes, no “do overs”. God’s works are always “very good”, therefore, you can be sure God will never steer you wrong. Rely on God’s word today. By it God created the universe, and with it God guides you in paths of righteousness.
Sword Tips #165
God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. (Acts 17:24-25)
God is not confined to a building fashioned by human wisdom and erected by human skill. Nor is God sustained by our worship of Him, as though He needs us to confirm His presence, power and dominion over heaven and earth. We did not create God – He created us. We do not sustain God – He sustains us. We worship God “in spirit and truth” because as both Creator and Sustainer He is worthy of all praise and thankful adoration. We serve God because He is our sovereign Lord and worthy of our complete, obedient submission. A day lived without obeying God and thanking Him for “life, breathe and all things” is a day lived without faith. Remember who God is – and who you are because of Him.
Sword Tips #166
And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30-31)
Those who content themselves with believing Jesus was a “good” man but not the Son of God have a problem. A “good” man does not claim to be the Son of God who is doing the works of his Father; Jesus declared both (John 10:31, 36-38). Yes, those who deny Jesus is “God with us” have a problem. If Jesus was “good” but not the Son of God then he would not have lied and said, “I am the Son of God”. Yet, Jesus said he is the Son of God. Even the enemies of Jesus did not deny his miracles, but attributed them to the devil. We affirm Jesus is the Son of God and truly “good” as only God can be (Mark 10:17-18). Deniers of Christ’s deity are illogical when they try to assert Jesus was “good” but not God. Our faith is built on the credible testimony of his words and works – testimony that 2000 years later still validates faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.
Sword Tips #167
“For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” (2 Corinthians 10:12)
It is easy to justify bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior. Growing up we learned the maxim that “two wrongs don’t make a right” (I wonder, is that still taught today?!). Similarly, comparing ourselves with others does not make us right in God’s sight. If that is how we go about justifying ourselves then we will always compare ourselves to someone less desirable in character and conduct. That way, we feel like we are okay – even when we are not approved before God. So remember, somebody else’s sin is not your righteousness. Compare yourself to the standard that is always right, the word of God. Then, you can correct yourself and have God’s blessing (read James 1:21-25).
Sword Tips #168
“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” (Colossians 2:9-10)
No one else is like Jesus; he is utterly unique. He and he alone fits the description in today’s passage. He is both divine and human; all the fullness of each dwells in him. Jesus is God (deity), fully and completely. And, Jesus is human (flesh and bones, blood, sweat and tears). This is the core of our faith and the reason for our hope and joy. Jesus fully supplies us with every spiritual blessing. He saves us, guides and disciplines us by his word. He has secured for us access to the throne room of the Father where our prayers are heard and answered. He is our Redeemer and Savior, our Intercessor, our King and our Lord. Put your faith in Jesus and abide in his word, and he will abide with you. Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you. “When other helpers fail and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me” (Abide with Me, Henry F. Lyte). Always remember, “you are complete in Him”.
Sword Tips #169
“Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 4:4-5)
The sweet psalmist of Israel advises how to avoid sin when your heart is provoked. When you are agitated and anger is looking for a place to abide in your heart, choose a different course. Meditate on God and do not sin. Ponder the calming assurance of God’s favor and blessings as you pillow your head. Instead of giving in to anger’s loss of self-control, pause and redirect your energy toward righteousness.
When you are tempted to be angry toward others, speak graciously and act peaceably toward them. Calm your soul, avoid the sin of anger and put your trust in the Lord.
Sword Tips #170
Then one of the lawyers answered and said to Him, “Teacher, by saying these things You reproach us also.” (Luke 11:45)
Jesus did not set out to insult people when he taught heaven’s truth. Through no fault of his own, many were insulted by the plain truth he spoke. This lawyer (scribe of the Mosaic law) felt the sting of rebuke from Jesus as he pronounced three woes on the hypocrisy of the Pharisees (see Luke 11:37-44). God’s truth cuts in all directions, exposing every sin and error of one’s heart and life. The question is, will we be insulted when we learn God’s truth, or will we be humbled and corrected by it? How you react to the truth of the gospel says a great deal about who you are – and who you want to be.
Sword Tips #171
And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” (Mark 4:37-41)
In fear his disciples awoke Jesus and scolded him for sleeping as the storm threatened their lives. At his word there was a great calm, provoking fearful amazement and wonder in the disciples: Who could Jesus be? This is yet another proof that Jesus is the Son of God. But, here is today’s lesson: Jesus Christ calls on us to have faith not to worry over things that are under his control. Faith fully trusts God, never doubting that what he has promised, he is able to accomplish (see Romans 4:19-22). What we perceive as disastrous, the Lord sees as our opportunity to have faith in him. So, instead of scolding the Lord when trials come and he does not act on our timetable, keep putting your faith in him. This is our faith: “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Sword Tips #172
And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.” (Colossians 1:21-23)
Sin separates from God; it makes us God’s enemies. In sin, we were God’s enemies before our conversion. Yet, God’s love and grace is so great that he sacrificed his Son Jesus Christ to reconcile us to God. “Through death” you were presented to God as holy, blameless and above reproach in His sight. But, please take note of what follows: “—if indeed you continue in the faith...not moved away from the hope of the gospel”. Without a doubt, this statement shows that salvation is conditional (“if”). Your hope is sure “if indeed you continue in the faith”. So, it is possible to return to sin and move away from the hope of the gospel. Make it your aim today to remain “grounded and steadfast” and not to be drawn away from God and back into sin. Why would you want to become God’s enemy again?
Sword Tips #173
Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. (Acts 23:1-2)
Although Paul had lived with a “good conscience before God”, it had not prevented him from persecuting Jesus. The human conscience can never be the final judge of sin and righteousness, nor was it ever intended to be. The function of the conscience is to advise a person of right and wrong conduct based on how the conscience has been trained in what is right and wrong. A poorly trained conscience will not warn a person of a sinful act (as when Paul persecuted Christians). A conscience can even be seared so that it is no longer sensitive to sin (1 Tim. 4:1-2). Be careful to train your conscience with the truth of the gospel. A good conscience relies on God’s word to teach it what is right and wrong. Then, it will function well to warn you of sin and encourage you to do what is good. Do not “let your conscience be your guide” (your conscience may be wrong); Let God’s word guide your conscience. Your conduct will then please God, and you will “have a conscience without offense toward God and men” (Acts 24:16).
Sword Tips #174
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron...” (1 Timothy 4:1-2)
Yesterday we learned that a conscience can be “good” while in sin, as when Saul had a good conscience while he persecuted Christians (Acts 23:1; 26:9-11). Today we learn how a conscience that was once trained in righteousness becomes seared; without feeling and broken. For the Christian, it happens when he or she chooses to “depart from the faith”. Deliberate sin, practiced time and again, overrules the promptings of your conscience until finally it is useless as an early warning devise against sin. To prevent a seared, unfeeling conscience you must be careful not to violate your conscience. Once you start doing so it becomes easier and easier to sin, and your conscience is gradually destroyed. Even then, God is ready and willing to forgive you if only you will repent. You can rehabilitate your conscience by God’s grace and your faith. Better still, refuse to practice sin and you will avoid damaging your conscience in the first place.
Sword Tips #175
“If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:17)
Knowing and doing are two different things. Over and over the Lord Jesus Christ taught that blessings from heaven come when we do God’s will. Knowing God’s truth yet not obeying the truth is faithlessness. When Jesus spoke today’s verse he had just taught his disciples a stunning lesson of humble service by washing their feet. They had been too involved in arguing among themselves over who should be considered greatest among them to stoop before each other to perform such a menial task (see Luke 22:24). Jesus taught them humility serves others and is great in God’s sight. How then do we think we serve God while refusing to do His will? Elaborate theological arguments are offered to reject the role of obedience in salvation. But still the Savior says, “he that does the will of My Father in heaven” will enter the kingdom of heaven, not those who merely say “Lord, Lord” (Matt. 7:21).
Yes, there is a big difference between knowing the truth and doing the truth. Do God’s will today and the Savior will bless you for your humble service to Him.
Sword Tips #176
“He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” (Proverbs 29:1)
Wrong is lovingly yet consistently reproved in order to produce correction: “Whom the Lord loves, He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Prov. 3:12). That is why the father tells the son “do not despise the chastening of the Lord” (Prov. 3:11). However, when a person repeatedly refuses to accept correction, stiffening his neck against the truth of God, punishment will come suddenly. There will be no remedy for sin in the day of judgment; that opportunity will have passed. Choose now to accepts God’s discipline of your sin, repent and accept his mercy and forgiveness. Never harden yourself against the yoke of Christ. It is easy when you willingly accept it and follow his truth. To reject the correction of the gospel is utterly foolish.
Sword Tips #177
“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
Youth is a wonderful time of fun and adventure. God’s word advises young people to rejoice in their youth, but to also understand that you are morally accountable to God for the choices you make in your youth (Eccl. 12:9). Young people are trying to find their place in this world; they want to be heard and respected. If you are young you should recognize that you are not entitled to respect; you must earn it. While you enjoy being young you realize that the moral choices you are making are defining you and whether or not you deserve to be heard. Choose to follow God when you are young, and no one will be able to successfully discount you simply because you are young. Set an example of faithfulness in the words you speak, in the way you conduct yourself, and in the love you show for God, your family and others. Live a pure life and you will be worthy of respect. That’s sound counsel for Christians of any age.
Sword Tips #178
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” (Proverbs 14:29, ESV)
God expects Christians to control their temper. It is not a virtue to have a short fuse or quick temper. In fact, it is sin: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking but put away from you, with all malice” (Eph. 4:31). Outbursts of wrath come from a heart not yet trained in longsuffering, patience, meekness and self-control. Explosive displays of wrath harm your relationships, damage your influence and prevent you from doing the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20). You can control your spirit; you can put away anger and wrath. Do not make excuses for losing your temper, and do not blame someone else; take responsibility for your sin and then change your heart (repent). Replace outbursts of wrath with a soft answer that “turns away wrath” (Prov. 15:1). Nothing good comes from losing your temper. So, be wise and control your spirit. Refuse to lose your temper and act like a fool.
Sword Tips #179
“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—where ‘their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’” (Mark 9:43-44)
Only through willful rejection and open denial that the Bible is the word of God can someone claim there is no heaven and no hell. A popular song states a common attitude toward heaven (and by implication, hell): “Everybody wants to go to heaven...but nobody want to go now”. Living that philosophy will never get you heaven! Heaven is reserved for those who fight the good fight, finish the course and keep the faith (2 Tim. 4:7-8). In today’s passage, Jesus uses exaggerated language to warn against sin and it’s result: hell. Remove every obstacle that keeps you from entering into life eternal – no matter how dear to you. If it is your hand; cut it off. If it is your foot or your eye; do the same (Mk. 9:45-48). Are you willing to sacrifice the things that are valuable to you in order to go to heaven? If not, then because of your sin you will be “cast into hell” – just as Jesus said (Mark 9:43, 45, 47). Yes, heaven is real, and so is hell. Jesus died for you so you can go to heaven. But, you must live for him in order to go there. Be sure you are living for heaven.
Sword Tips #180
“For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.” (1 Thessalonians 5:7-10)
Christians follow Christ, “the light of the world” (John 8:12). This not only gives us great comfort, it also places upon us the great responsibility of faithfully following Him. Faith, love and hope are not defined by the night and its drunken activities. We have been appointed to “obtain salvation”, not “wrath”. We do not practice the sinful things of darkness. We are “of the day”, walking soberly in the light of truth. If you have strayed from the path of truth, then return to Jesus now. Faithful Christians are appointed to live forever with Christ, but all who walk in darkness are appointed to wrath.
Sword Tips #181
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
There is beautiful symmetry between the Christian’s obedience to Christ and God’s work in that Christian’s life. God “works in you” while you “work out your own salvation”. That does not mean you in some way earn your right to be saved. Neither does it mean you decide for yourself what is right and what is wrong. No, it means that as a faithful Christian you bring your salvation to a full or complete accomplishment or conclusion as you reverently obey God. You grow to spiritual maturity by being obedient to God. When you do that, God is accomplishing His good pleasure for your life. Allow God to work in you by obeying Him today.
Sword Tips #182
“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law.” (Proverbs 29:18)
God’s law serves the valuable purpose of restraining people from sin. The purpose of God’s law is not to prevent people from enjoying life (a common lie told by those who prefer sin instead of righteousness). “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5). When people choose to ignore and reject God’s revelation, the gospel of Christ, they cast off the only moral compass that insures the path of happiness. It is a lie that contentment and joy are found by living a life that is free of God and His truth. Such a life is ultimately empty and ends in eternal despair. God wants you to be happy now while preparing for eternal life with Him. You can – by accepting the purposes of God for yourself and keeping His commands.
Sword Tips #183
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22)
The ability to keep on forgiving one who repeatedly sins against us is to imitate the divine quality of forgiveness. Peter undoubtedly thought to forgive an offending brother seven times was being truly lenient and merciful. But, God places no such restraint on forgiving sinners who turn to Him in repentance. Jesus used the exaggerated number of “seventy times seven” to teach the limitless, boundless nature of forgiveness. Forgiveness must be from the heart, for without such, we will not be forgiven by God (read Matthew 18:23-35). Develop your heart to forgive others “even as Christ forgave you” (Col. 3:13).
Sword Tips #184
How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. (Proverbs 16:16)
Christians live in a material world, but our citizenship is in heaven. Jesus taught us to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. One way to do that is to “get wisdom and understanding” by fearing God and keeping His commandments. King Solomon had both great wisdom and great wealth. He was in a unique position to judge which of these is more valuable. He concluded wealth will not ultimately satisfy the soul – it is vanity: “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 5:10). But, to possess wisdom equips both the rich and the poor with necessary tools to live with God now as well as obtain eternal riches in the next life. The choice is yours – and there really is no comparison. Be wise and lay up for yourself treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21).
Sword Tips #185
The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; He who keeps his way preserves his soul. (Proverbs 16:17)
Highways are designed to be free of obstacles so we can travel with ease, speed and safety. Choosing righteous living instead of evil is the difference between traveling a winding dirt road and a multi-lane freeway. Still, even on the freeway we must be careful; neglect leads to injure and even death. We grew up learning to “drive defensively” to avoid accidents. Protect your life today by “driving defensively”. Make decisions that honor God and keep faith with Him. As you live for God you are guarding your life from the danger of evil.
Sword Tips #186
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)
The dangers of pride are legion. Pride destroys so many things, tantamount among them is your immortal soul. In the process, as pride is allowed to live in your heart it will destroy your reputation, your godly influence and your integrity. Arrogance proves fatal to friendships, marriages, family relations, the brotherly bonds of Christians, life’s joy and heaven’s hope. Simply put, “When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). Give up pride or it will destroy you. Live today in humble obedience to God, and be blessed. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).
Sword Tips #187
And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.
(1 Kings 18:21)
There are few things more frustrating and disheartening as indecisiveness. It is so discouraging when God’s people are spiritually indecisive. Vacillating between Jehovah God and Baal, the once mighty Israel had become a weak, pathetic, faltering nation. Faith requires making a choice and having the commitment to follow through. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and all who believe it to be so follow Him – they do not limp along in fearful uncertainty. Genuine faith instills the confidence to serve the true and living God while rejecting all impostors. Live your faith today and do not be silenced by fear and doubt.
Sword Tips #188
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Light wonderfully illustrates the life of a Christian. First, it should be obvious you are a disciple of Jesus Christ – just as obvious as a city nestled on a hillside (v. 14). Next, you are to function to your potential, just as a lamp gives light to those in a house (v. 15). A Christian is a light of righteousness in this dark world of sin. Thirdly, your life has purpose; Your life is to show others the good works of living for Jesus so that they have a reason to believe and glorify God (v. 16). Is it obvious by your life that you are a Christian? Are you fulfilling your role to provide spiritual light to people around you? Are you an example of good works so that others may come to Jesus, the Light of the world?
Sword Tips #189
For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. (2 Peter 1:16)
Today is Friday the 13th, the day of superstitious trouble according to common folklore. Of course, we know Friday the 13th is just another day on the calendar. But to the superstitious it is a day for taking extra precautions against harm. Superstitions arise from a lack of knowledge and understanding. And while some are playful and harmless (like the baseball player who will not change socks until his team loses), other kinds of superstition can destroy the soul. Faith in Christ is not built on superstition; it is built on faithful eyewitness testimony as well as incontrovertible evidence that He is the Son of God (John 20:30-31; Hebrews 11:1). Our confidence today and tomorrow rests upon the revelation of truth, the gospel of Christ. Those who think faith is superstitious do not understand the difference between the two. Faith is established by evidence; superstition results when people are without knowledge and understanding. “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17).
Sword Tips #190
Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ “ (Matthew 4:3-4)
Just as your body is sustained by food, your soul is sustained by the word of God. You wouldn’t dream of eating poison. Yet, if you feed upon the doctrines and philosophies of men that is exactly what you are putting into your heart. Such things never satisfy your soul; indeed, they starve you of the spiritual nutrients you need for spiritual health. Trying to live without the word of God is starving yourself of the salvation, joy and living hope it gives. Bring your life into harmony with God’s word and you will have life abundantly.
Sword Tips #191
Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give his angels charge over you,’ and, in their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ “ Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ “ (Matthew 4:5-7)
When the devil tempted Jesus he set one Scripture against another, partially quoting Psalm 91:11-12 to entice Jesus to act out of pride and jump from the temple – surely God would keep His word and protect Him from harm. But, Jesus set one Scripture beside another (“It is written again”) and resisted the temptation to sin. Proper interpretation of God’s word never pits one passage against another in order to prove a point or justify error and wrongdoing. Such disrespect for God and His word tests the Lord God, by expecting Him to act contrary to His revealed word. He will not. It is the devil who tempts you to act against God’s word and think God approves. Jesus always calls upon you to fully trust Him by accepting the harmony of God’s word and completely obeying it. That is true trust in God.
Sword Tips #192
Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only You shall serve.’ “ (Matthew 4:8-10)
The devil does not stop tempting us. Although Jesus resisted prior temptations, the devil still tried to defeat him with sin. With the conviction of truth Jesus refused the devil’s allurement to rule the world while escaping the cruelty and humiliation of Calvary. But, the cost was too great. For Jesus to give in to this temptation would be to worship power, pleasure and self-interest rather than sacrifice Himself in service to the Father. What your eyes see can turn your attention away from God and lead you to worship created things instead of the Creator. When you are tempted by sinful attractions, remember you worship God and only serve Him – whatever the cost. Then, with Jesus you can say, “Away with you, Satan!”
Sword Tips #193
Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time. (Luke 4:13)
The devil never stops tempting us to sin, but he can be resisted. Do not draw the conclusion from the record of Christ’s temptations that the devil never returned to tempt him; he did. Satan looked for “an opportune time” to continue tempting Jesus (see Luke 22:28). Never think you are beyond temptation. If you do, then the devil have you exactly where he wants you: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). Instead, be sober and watchful, resist the devil and be steadfast in the faith. You are not alone – “the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Pet. 5:8-9). Keep resisting temptation!
Sword Tips #194
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
The fact that Jesus was fully tempted yet did not succumb to sin provides many great spiritual blessings to Christians. Among them is his ability to understand the trials of being tempted in the flesh. Jesus is our High Priest in heaven, and through him we obtain God’s help when we are weak and in danger from temptation. Take your struggles and trials to God in prayer, and continue to hold fast your confession. Do not yield to temptation; help from heaven is available through Christ our Lord.
Sword Tips #195
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19)
The gospel of Jesus Christ will not penetrate the heart of the “natural man” (who defines wisdom by himself and by this world, see 1 Corinthians 2:14); he has no interest in spiritual things. So, he rejects the gospel as foolishness while living in the arrogance and lusts of sin. His path leads to eternal death. But, those with open hearts listen to and discern the “message of the cross” as being from God, and believe it. You may meet someone today who will try to convince you the gospel is foolish. If so, remember that their message will do nothing to save your soul. The good news of a Savior who loves you and sacrificed himself so you can live eternally is the wisdom of God. It commands you to believe and confess your faith, to repent and to be baptized to be saved (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Romans 10:9-10). Be wise; trust and obey the gospel, the wisdom of God.
Sword Tips #196
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:20-23)
As a Christian you have been freed from the bondage of sin and death and are a willing “slaves of God”. Freedom from sin does not mean freedom to sin; quite the opposite. Christians choose to shun sin and to serve God, bearing the fruit of holiness. The result of a holy life is everlasting life, but sin always brings death. Being saved in Christ compels you to bear holy fruit in your life that reflects your freedom from sin. Use today to serve God with all holiness.
Sword Tips #197
And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him. However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.” And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled. (Mark 5:18-20)
After Jesus healed the demon-possessed man named Legion, he longed to continue with Jesus. Instead, Jesus urged him to go tell others of the great blessings he had received from the Lord. God still has compassion on the broken-hearted and those weighed down by sin. He is ready to free your soul from the bondage of sin and rescue you from the spiritual chaos it causes in your life. Make today the day you go to Jesus for God’s compassion and salvation (read how to be saved in Acts 2:36-41). If you have already received God’s forgiveness, then tell others of His great compassion. Tell the good news to others so they can also be saved by Jesus!
Sword Tips #198
Now the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him. And having blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face and asked Him, saying, “Prophesy! Who is the one who struck You?” And many other things they blasphemously spoke against Him. (Luke 22:63-65)
The willingness of Jesus to endure humiliating injustices showed His determined self-control to accomplish human redemption. Submitting to the Father’s will means we will undergo whatever hardship comes our way and endure whatever obstacle arises in order to be faithful and true. What an amazing example Jesus sets for us to follow as He humbly accepted the reproach of sinners. He endured this and so much more so that we can be saved from our sins. Today, follow His example of complete surrender to do God’s will.
Sword Tips #199
Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you. (Titus 2:15)
God’s charge to the gospel preacher is to declare “the whole counsel of God”, and to do so “in season and out of season” (Acts 20:27; 2 Tim. 4:2). Most of the time people like to hear words that “exhort” (encourage, comfort or even entreat). But, not nearly as many are eager to hear words that “rebuke” (to show a fault, censure). Yet, both must be done to fully preach the word of God. Let us be willing to be exhorted and rebuked, knowing that exhortation from God’s word helps assure our faith, while its rebuke helps us repent of sin. Do not blame the messenger if you dislike the exhortation or rebuke that comes from God’s word. Look inward and purify your heart to receive all God’s word says.
Sword Tips #200
Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” (Luke 13:23-24)
Nearly everyone who believes in heaven also believes they are going there. But, Jesus said the truth of the matter is very different. He said access to salvation is “narrow” and entrance into it requires one to “strive” (to strenuously endeavor). Salvation is not an accident; it is the result of faith’s deliberate submission to the will of God. Nor is salvation a whim; you must want to be saved to such an extent that you will strive for it. Put away every sin and live upright before God and men. Do the will of the Father who is in heaven and you will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21). Do otherwise, and you “will not be able” to enter.