The apostle Paul advised the Ephesians, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:15-16). He exhorted the Christians at Colosse similarly, “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (Col. 4:5-6). The wise man wrote, “Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.” (Prov. 4:26-27).
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matt. 5:14). In the immediate context of this verse Jesus set His followers in contrast with the rest of the world. This verse calls attention to a world that exists in darkness due to sin. The lives of followers of Jesus, in contrast, radiate the light of righteousness. The difference between His followers and the rest of the world is so stark that Jesus uses the illustration of a city built on a hillside. At night, when the sun goes down and the residents of the city light their homes for the evening, the city naturally stands out in the surrounding darkness. There is no way to hide a lit up city situated high up on a hillside at night. Its light calls obvious attention to itself.
The apostle Paul stated, “but one thing I do...” (Phlp. 3:13). In this chapter, Paul talked about himself. He listed something of his heritage in vs. 4-6. He noted that, from a purely physical perspective, he had excellent credentials. He could trace his bloodline back to the tribe of Benjamin, and that bloodline was pure, his being a Hebrew born of Hebrew parents. As far as his spiritual credentials were concerned, as they appeared on the surface, his were most impressive. He was a Pharisee, meticulous in keeping the law of Moses and zealous enough in his dedication to that law as to be an aggressive persecutor of the church.
Just how much do we need God? Most people, even the most dedicated, probably do not really think much on a daily basis about how much they truly need God. If asked the question, most of us would quickly affirm that we need God every step of the way, every day, but probably do not live like it. We get caught up in all the busy-ness of daily living. Well, do we really need God?
Jesus taught us, as His disciples, to love one another (Jn. 13:34-35). His instruction in that context is not a suggestion. He stated it as a commandment. The purpose behind this commandment is extremely important. The world will recognize Christ in us by the love that we exhibit toward one another. But the reasons that should motivate our love for one another go way beyond just following a commandment that tells us to love one another.
The story goes that the devil decided to retire (now, wouldn’t that be great news!), and he had a “Going Out Of Business Sale.” All of the tools of his trade were openly displayed and priced on row after row of tables. One tool, however, was set off to itself under a glass case. It was more worn than most of the other tools, and it was considerably more expensive. A small labeling card was set in front of it with one word printed thereon- DISCOURAGEMENT
Many people have kind of a funny view of love. Can you imagine a wife who loves her husband too much to demand that he not abuse her? Too much to point out to him that his behavior could ultimately cause him and the family harm? Too much to expect him to work a regular job in order to at least help provide for the family? Can you imagine a husband loving his wife so much that he’d let her lead him to spiritual condemnation rather than trying lead her to salvation through his own righteous example? Christ’s love for the church is the model for how husbands and wives ought to love one another (Eph. 5:22-33).
Pertaining to the final day of judgment the apostle John wrote, “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” (Rev. 1:7). Let’s consider a brief analysis of this verse of scripture.
I traditionally devote one bulletin article near the beginning of most every year to review the year past and look forward to the year ahead. We might think of it as a look through the rearview mirror and the windshield.
Another year has come and gone. At the beginning of a new year people typically reflect on their past life, the memories, the challenges, the mistakes, the successes, the failures. Many wish they could go back and do things differently. They wish they could have a new beginning.
Gary L. Hutchens