The Need for Unity

Psalm 1331 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Corinthians 1:10–17 (ESV)

10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Unity among Christians is so important. It is important if there is to be spiritual growth within the church. And it is important if the church is to have an effective ministry to a lost world. Unfortunately, division is a common reality in our churches and it happens for many reasons.

In Corinth, one of the reasons believers were divided was over leadership. This may seem strange, but if we think about it, we see that this is still common today. In Paul’s day, they were saying, “I follow Paul” or “I follow Apollos”, etc. In our day, it is not uncommon for Christians to brag about and think that their pastor or church is superior to others. “I go to this church” and “We have this many members.” Or, “My pastor is so and so” and “My pastor is popular and writes books.” This way of thinking is divisive and hurts the work of the Church. We should be united in our love for Christ, his people, and proclaiming his good news. Let us focus on those things that unite us.

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We of Little Faith

Matthew 1430–31 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 14:22–33 (ESV)

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

When Peter saw Jesus walking on the water, he wanted to join him. So Peter got out of the boat and began to go to Jesus. At first, he was doing fine. However, as he noticed the wind and the waves he became fearful and began to sink. He cried out to Jesus who reached out and saved him.

Jesus’ words to Peter reveal a great deal about Peter and us. Jesus said to Peter, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” At first, Peter boldly stepped into the water to go to Jesus. It was when his eyes went to focusing on the winds and the sea that he became fearful and lost faith. We often do the same. How often do we start off boldly to follow Christ no matter where that may lead us, only to become discouraged or fearful because the path has become difficult and filled with danger? What is it that you are fearful of in your life right now? Have you taken your eyes off of Jesus? Look to him and know that you can trust him in every circumstance.

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Salvation in No One Else but Jesus

Acts 412 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Acts 4:5–12 (ESV)

5 On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

The religious leaders of Israel had rejected Jesus as the promised Messiah and Savior of the people. At every turn in Jesus’ ministry, they challenged Jesus and sought to discredit him. When they could not and when they saw that his influence was becoming too great, they sought to get rid of him. Eventually, they were able to have him crucified. Peter reminded them of this truth in his preaching. It was through the power of Jesus that a crippled man was healed. This was the same Jesus that the leaders had rejected. And Jesus was the one and only way of salvation. There was no other way.

The truth of the gospel for today is still the same. Jesus came into the world to save mankind from our sins. Through his sinless life and selfless sacrifice, our sins are paid for and we can have eternal life. But we must repent of our sins and turn to Christ in faith. Many simply will not do this. Many are convinced that Jesus is not who he or his followers claim he is. Others cannot accept that they need to be saved or that there would only be one way. Yet, Jesus is the only way to be saved. There is no other way. Will you go to him today?

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No Excuses

1 Peter 224 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 1:18–23 (ESV)

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In Romans 1:16-17, Paul writes that there is only one way for any person to be saved. Salvation is by grace through faith. In our reading today, he tells us why salvation can only come in this way: all people are under the wrath of God because of sin. Every single person, whether religious or not, is guilty because God has revealed himself to us in the created order and what can be plainly known about him has been rejected by every one of us. No one will be able to claim “I did not know!” Mankind has exchanged the one true God for other gods.

We have a sin problem. It is our greatest problem and causes all of our troubles in this world. And there is nothing we can do in our own power to fix our problem. The good news is that God has done something for us. Jesus Christ came into the world to live the sinless life none of us could. Then he went to the cross to die in our place. He took the wrath that we deserve to pay our debt. If we will turn from our sin and turn to Jesus in faith, God promises to forgive us and give us eternal life. This is amazing grace!

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If God Is For Us

Romans 831b [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 8:31–39 (ESV)

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Are you fearful? Are you worried? Consider that God sent his Son into the world to die for you. He sent his Son to suffer on a cross so that you could be saved and have eternal life. He did this so you could be his child. That is how much he cares about you and the things going on in your life.

If God loves us enough to go through the great lengths he has gone through to save us and make us his own, there is nothing that we need to fear. We can be certain that our God’s eyes are never off of us and we are always in his care. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. And if God is for us, who (or what) can be against us?

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God’s Steadfast Love

Psalm 1361 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 136:1–3 (ESV)

1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Give thanks. This is the message of Psalm 136. We should be people known for praising our God and giving thanks. Why? Because our God’s love endures forever! We see his great love on display in its greatest manifestation at the cross of Calvary. God gave his Son to rescue us from our sin. It was a steep price to pay, but because of love, Christ went to the cross.

Too often, Christians are known for our downcast and complaining attitudes. This should not be. Our mouths and lives should be lived in praise and thanksgiving. Our God has done great things for us and his love endures forever! Let us tell the world of his goodness.

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What Salvation Means for Today

glory to god book

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Romans 5:1–5 (ESV)

1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Book of Romans teaches clearly that all people are saved by grace through faith. We are all sinners and our works are insufficient to save us. We must be justified in some other manner. Paul tells us that we are justified by faith in what Jesus Christ has done for us.

In Romans 5, we read of three important truths that result from our justification. The first is that we are now at peace with God. We go from being under his wrath to being at peace. We are no longer God’s enemies, but his friends! The second thing resulting from our justification is that we have the “hope of the glory of God.” This speaks of the future hope that belongs to all of God’s people in eternity. We will be in God’s presence and we will be made new along with all of creation to reflect the glory of God as we intended to before we sinned. And the last thing our justification means is that we can face our present sufferings with rejoicing. We know that the hardships we face in this life serve to focus our eyes on the future and the Savior who died for us.

Every day is an opportunity to praise the One who saved us by his grace and who promises a glorious future for all who believe.

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Not Ashamed of the Gospel

Romans 116–17 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 1:16–17 (ESV)

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul was a missionary. His calling was to travel around the Roman Empire and proclaim that salvation was available to all people through Jesus Christ. As a result of his preaching, Paul faced much persecution. He was imprisoned, he was beaten, he was stoned and left for dead. Yet he continued to preach. Why?

Paul tells us why he continued in his ministry despite the many hardships. He was not ashamed of the gospel because it is God’s way of saving mankind. Those who hear the message of Jesus’ sacrificial death and have faith are forgiven and will be saved from God’s judgment.

As believers today, we have the same gospel message to take to the world. We must not be ashamed because it is still the means through which God is bringing all who will believe to salvation. Let us go boldly, as Paul did, into our communities and tell people of all that Jesus has done for us!

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The Way, the Truth, and the Life

John 146 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 14:1–6 (ESV)

1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Christianity is controversial. It has always been controversial. The reason is found in this passage, especially Jesus’s words in verse 6. Jesus clearly and pointedly stated that there is only on way to the Father and it is through him. This means that all paths are not the same. All paths do not lead to the same destination. All religions are not equal. There is only one way. There is only one truth. It is found in Jesus Christ alone.

Of course, just because a person claims to have the one right answer does not make it so. Many people have made that claim through the years. However, Jesus is not just any person. He is the one person who died and rose from the dead. The resurrection validates that all Jesus said was true. His words were not just the words of a crazy man or wishful thinking. His words were authoritative. And this means that Jesus is the only way to the Father. And he also tells us that if we repent of our sins and place our faith in him, we will be saved. Why would you go any other way?

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Praying for Open Doors

Colossians 42 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Colossians 4:2–6 (ESV)

2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul asked the believers at Colossae to pray for him. He was not asking for them to pray for his health or safety. Those things were not his primary concern. Paul wanted prayer for his missionary efforts. He wanted prayers for open doors to preach the word of God. He wanted to clearly preach the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ so that people would hear and believe.

Let us join in praying for open doors for the gospel and let us “continue steadfastly” in this prayer. We are currently living through circumstances with COVID-19 that I believe is an open door. Our neighbors are fearful of the future. Let us pray and then let us take the message of Jesus Christ to a world that is hurting and searching for a foundation to stand on. The gospel is the message of hope that people need right now.

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