JANUARY 31

Mark 16:14-15 - Jesus Wants Us to Preach the Gospel
This took place soon after Jesus' resurrection, when he appeared to "the eleven" (referring to the apostles who were left after Judas, the traitor, hanged himself), minus Thomas, who was absent from the group at this time:

Verse 14: "Afterward [after being seen by Mary Magdalene and others following his resurrection,] he [Jesus] appeared unto the eleven [apostles] as they sat at meat [while they were eating], and upbraided [scolded] them with [for] their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not [didn't believe] them which [those who] had seen him after he was risen [from the dead]."

Verse 15: "And he
[Jesus] said unto them [the apostles--and all other Christians, too], Go ye into all the world [go to Gentiles as well as Jews], and preach the gospel to every creature [to all human beings; in other words, tell everyone the plan of salvation so they know what they must do to be saved from hell]."

JANUARY 30

2 Timothy 4:2-4 - Preaching and Teaching God's Word
The apostle Paul's advice to Timothy (an evangelist, or minister of the gospel) also applies to all Christians:

Verse 2: "Preach the word [of God, referring to the gospel of Jesus Christ]; be instant in season, out of season [be ready to 'preach the gospel' at all times, which means take every opportunity to tell others how to be saved, whether the situation makes it easy or hard to do so]; reprove [gently correct errors in religious beliefs], rebuke [warn others of the dangers and consequences of sin], [and] exhort [urge or encourage people to obey God's word] with all longsuffering [patience] and doctrine [teaching, instruction]."

Verses 3-4: "For the time will come when they
[these people] will not endure [withstand, put up with] sound doctrine [biblical truth]; but after their own lusts [desires] shall they heap [gather] to themselves [many] [false] teachers, having itching ears [because they're uncomfortable with the truth]; And they shall turn away their ears from [hearing] the truth, and shall be turned [aside] unto fables [made-up stories]."

It's important to preach and teach from the word of God, but it will become harder and harder to faithfully do so because, according to verses 3-4, the time will come when many people, who may have been receptive to the gospel message in the past, will reject godly pastors (those who preach truth from the Bible) and instead will seek preachers and teachers more to their liking (such as false teachers), who "tickle their ears" (tell them what they want to hear and are comfortable to be around), corrupt the plan of salvation, don't preach on sin, etc.

JANUARY 29

Proverbs 29:11: "A fool uttereth
[speaks out about, makes known to others, tells] all [that is on] his [or her] mind [referring to his/her thoughts and emotions--everything that he or she thinks and feels]: but a wise man [or woman or child] keepeth it in [doesn't say anything, exercises self-control] till afterwards [until the right time--see below*]."
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*In his commentary on this verse, which compares fools to wise men, Pastor Delany of Salem Bible Church says:

-- "The fool loudly and publically proclaims his irrational thoughts, his assumptions, his foolish ideas, and his uncontrolled emotions … [He] utters his whole mind and heart. Whatever pops into his head… whatever he happens to be feeling at the moment is sure to come out of his mouth-with little to no thought."

-- On the other hand, the wise man "waits for the right time … waits until he has thought it through … waits until he has all the facts … waits until his emotions have cooled down … waits and thinks of the best way to word what he is trying to say … waits to say many things in private."

If you want to read more of the commentary, here's the link: www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-29-index/proverbs-29_11/.

JANUARY 28

James 1:17: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above
[all good things are from God], and cometh down [to us, from heaven] from the Father of lights [from God, who is the source of light], with whom [like the sun] is no variableness [variation, change], neither shadow of turning [see note below*]."
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*In the last part of the verse, the apostle compares God's nature to that of the sun when the earth revolves around it. In other words, the sun seems to change on a daily basis, but it really doesn't, and neither does God. For example, depending on how close our planet is to the sun, the sun will appear to rise or set, we will experience day or night (light or dark), seasons will change along with the weather (hot or cold temperatures), we'll see shadows, etc.


Note: The best gift that we can have is the gift of eternal life, which comes from God:

-- Romans 6:23: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

If you have not yet received that gift but would like to do so, please read one or more of my gospel tracts.
You'll find them on the "Printable Gospel Tracts" page of my website. Here's the link: www.mansioninheaven.com/PrintableGospelTracts.html.

JANUARY 27

Proverbs 27:7: "The full soul
[a rich person, who has too much of everything--food, possessions, etc.] loatheth [rejects, has no desire for] an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul [someone who is poor and has few possessions and nothing to eat] every bitter thing is sweet."

According to Pastor Delany of Salem Bible Church, the above verse applies to more than just food and honey. What it means is that people who have a lot usually don't appreciate what they have, and people who have very little tend to appreciate the little things. He gives the following examples (among others) to illustrate his point:

"To the full man, sweet things (like a honeycomb or multiple luxury homes) become common place and eventually even distasteful. They can become a source of bitterness. Things that are sweet to others become bitter to him."

"To the hungry man, bitter things (things that others might consider bitter) become sweet. For example, if you told your kids that they were having Fig Newtons for dessert, they might complain. To them, Fig Newtons are not a treat. To them, it is a bitter experience. But trying offering Fig Newtons to a child in Bangladesh! To him who is hungry it is sweet!"

"To most of us, if someone said that you were going to become a millionaire next month, we would probably say, 'That's sweet!' … But if you were a billionaire, and someone said that you were going to become a millionaire next month, he would see that as a bitter experience! … Depending upon your present circumstances, things might be either bitter or sweet."

"When it comes to food, there's a big difference between a man who is hungry and a man who is full. Their appreciation of a cookie might vary greatly."

"When it comes to material goods, there is a big difference between a man who is full (wealthy) and a man who is hungry (poor). The rich man cannot appreciate the little things as the poor man does. … The poor man given the little cottage to live in would rejoice beyond measure; a king given a little cottage to live in would be bitter. It would be like a prison to him."

The verse also has a spiritual application, because, as Pastor Delany points out, "To the unbeliever, the Word of God and its message is a bitter pill … But to the believer, the Word of God is sweeter than a honeycomb!"

If you want to read the rest of the commentary, here's the link: http://www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-27-index/proverbs-27_7/.

JANUARY 26

Numbers 32:20-23 - The Importance of Keeping Our Promises to God

Verse 20: "And Moses said unto them
[the children of Gad and Reuben (two of the twelve tribes of Israel)], If ye will do this thing [which you have promised], if ye will go armed before the LORD [i.e., with the ark of the covenant, which signified (was a sign of) God's presence] to war [along with the other ten tribes],"

Verses 21-22: "And will go all of you armed over
[across] [the river] Jordan before the [ark of the] LORD, until he [God] hath driven out his enemies from before him, And [until] the land [Canaan] be subdued [is conquered, brought under subjection or control] before the LORD: then afterward ye shall return [to this side of the river], and be guiltless [free from guilt, innocent, blameless] before the LORD, and before [the rest of the tribes of] Israel; and this land [Gilead] shall be your possession before the LORD."

Verse 23: "But if ye will not do so
[keep your promise to join in the battle to subdue the land of Canaan], behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out [your disobedience will be punished]."

There is background information concerning the above verses in the following articles:

-- "What should we learn from the tribe of Gad?" (https://www.gotquestions.org/tribe-of-Gad.html)

-- "Why did Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh want to live on the east side of Jordan?" (https://www.gotquestions.org/east-of-Jordan.html)

In addition, I found a very detailed map of Old Testament Israel showing where the various tribes settled. If you want to view it, here's the link: http://www.bible-history.com/geography/ancient-israel/israel-old-testament.html. When you click on names in the map, you'll find Bible verses pertaining to the people and places involved.

JANUARY 25

Proverbs 25:15: "By long forbearing
[with much patience] is a prince [and many other people, too] persuaded [to do or not do something], and [continued pressure from] a soft tongue breaketh the bone."

Using the example of someone finding a small bone in his or her mouth while eating, Pastor Delany of Salem Bible Church explains that "The gentle pressure of a tongue, over time … can bring about … the breaking of a bone … It can be just as effective as a harsher approach-like a saw, a knife, or a hammer."

He goes on to say that in the above verse, "Solomon is really getting at the use of the tongue in speech and communication … The proverb is designed to demonstrate the power of soft and gentle words as opposed to harsh and abrasive words." And he concludes that "In most situations, the gentle and patient approach is the best."

If you want to read more of the commentary, here's the link: www.salembible.org/proverbs-25-index/proverbs-25_15/.

JANUARY 24

Romans 8:35-37 - Assurance for Christians:

Verse 35: "Who shall separate us from the love of
[Jesus] Christ [referring to his love for us]? shall

tribulation
[great trouble or suffering],
or distress
[extreme anxiety, sadness, or pain],
or persecution
[cruel or unfair treatment, especially due to race, or religious or political beliefs],
or famine
[shortage of food],
or nakedness
[no clothes],
or peril
[danger of any kind],
or sword
[death by the sword, including beheading]?

Verse 36: As it is written
[in Psalm 44:22--see below*], For thy [your (God's)] sake we are killed [put to death] all the day long [constantly]; we are accounted [regarded by our enemies] as sheep for the slaughter [to be killed or butchered without remorse (feelings of regret or guilt)].

Verse 37: Nay
[no], in all these things [listed above] we are more than conquerors [victors, winners] through him that loved us [i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ]."
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*Psalm 44:22: "Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter."

JANUARY 23

Matthew 10:32-33
[Being a "secret Christian" is not okay, because Jesus said]: "Whosoever therefore shall confess [acknowledge] me before men [publicly] [in other words, whoever is not ashamed to tell others that he or she is saved, or born again], him [or her] will I confess [acknowledge] also before my Father [God] which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men [whoever shall refuse to acknowledge me (Jesus) publicly], him [or her] will I also deny before my Father [God] which is in heaven."

For more information about "secret Christians," read the article entitled "Is it wrong to be a Christian secretly in order to preserve your own life?" Here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/secret-Christian.html.

Note: If you want to be saved but don't know what to do, please read one or more of the gospel tracts on the "Printable Gospel Tracts" page of my website, which can be found here: https://www.mansioninheaven.com/PrintableGospelTracts.html.

JANUARY 22

1 Corinthians 1:25
[Referring to the plan of salvation, the apostle Paul wrote]: "Because the foolishness of God [i.e., what God does that is considered foolish by some people, such as allowing us to be saved by faith, not works--Ephesians 2:8-9] is wiser [does more important things] than [the wisest] men; and the weakness of God [weakness as it may appear to us, such as when God's Son, Jesus, died on the cross to pay for our sins] is stronger [does more powerful things] than [the strongest] men."

God is not foolish or weak, but sometimes it may appear that way to us. We should never forget that God's wisdom and strength are far greater than ours.

In his commentary on this verse, Albert Barnes said:

"Because the foolishness of God - That which God appoints, requires, commands, does, etc., which appears to people to be foolish. The passage is not to be understood as affirming that it is really foolish or unwise; but that it appears so to people - Perhaps the apostle here refers to those parts of the divine administration where the wisdom of the plan is not seen; or where the reason of what God does is concealed.

"Is wiser than men - Is better adapted to accomplish important ends, and more certainly effectual than the schemes of human wisdom. This is especially true of the plan of salvation - a plan apparently foolish to the mass of people - yet indubitably accomplishing more for the renewing of people, and for their purity and happiness, than all the schemes of human contrivance. They have accomplished nothing toward people's salvation; this accomplishes everything. They have always failed; this never fails.

"The weakness of God - There is really no weakness in God, any more than there is folly. This must mean, therefore, the things of his appointment which appear weak and insufficient to accomplish the end. Such are these facts - that God should seek to save the world by Jesus of Nazareth, Who was supposed unable to save himself … ; and that he should expect to save people by the gospel, by its being preached by people who were without learning, eloquence, wealth, fame, or power. The instruments were feeble; and people judged that this was owing to the weakness or lack of power in the God who appointed them.

"Is stronger than men - Is able to accomplish more than the utmost might of man. The feeblest agency that God puts forth - so feeble as to be esteemed weakness - is able to effect more than the utmost might of man. The apostle here refers particularly to the work of redemption; but it is true everywhere. We may remark:

"(1) That God often effects his mightiest plans by that which seems to men to be weak and even foolish. The most mighty revolutions arise often from the slightest causes; his most vast operations are often connected with very feeble means. The revolution of empires; the mighty effects of the pestilence; the advancement in the sciences, and arts, and the operations of nature, are often brought about by means apparently as little suited to accomplish the work as those which are employed in the plan of redemption.

"(2) God is great. If his feeblest powers put forth, surpass the mightiest powers of man, how great must be his might. If the powers of man who rears works of art; who levels mountains and elevates vales; if the power which reared the pyramids, be as nothing when compared with the feeblest putting forth of divine power, how mighty must be his arm! How vast that strength which made, and which upholds the rolling worlds! How safe are his people in his hand! And how easy for him to crush all his foes in death!"

(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-corinthians-1.html, "Verse 25")

JANUARY 21

Psalm 145:18-19
[King David wrote]: "The LORD is nigh [near] unto all them that call upon him [in prayer, for salvation and help], to all that call upon him in truth [sincerely]. He [God] will fulfil the desire [answer the prayers] of them that fear him [referring to born-again Christians who love, serve, and obey him]: he also will hear their cry, and will save them [from danger here on earth, and from hell when they die]."

JANUARY 20

Proverbs 20:2: "The fear of a king
[the fear that a person would have of a king, dictator, or other government leader] is as the roaring of a lion [is similar to the fear that he or she would have when standing before a roaring lion]: whoso provoketh him to anger [whoever makes the king (leader) angry] sinneth against his [or her] own soul [life--by giving the leader a reason to seek revenge and do something to make the person's life miserable, or even (if the leader is a dictator with absolute authority to do whatever he or she wants to do) to have the person killed]."

Salem Bible Church has a good commentary on this verse.

According to Pastor Delany, kings, like lions, are powerful, strong, and unpredictable. Consequently, we should avoid confrontations with people in authority (examples include a speeder arguing with a police officer, students in a classroom murmuring about their teacher, and employees bad-mouthing their boss), and we shouldn't embarrass kings and other leaders or make them look bad, because we never know for sure what their reaction will be or how it will affect us.

If you want to read the commentary, here's the link: www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-20-index/proverbs-20_2/.

JANUARY 19

Proverbs 19:22: "The desire
[desirable quality] of a man [or woman or child] is his [or her] kindness: and a poor man [person] is better than a liar."

In his commentary, Pastor Delany of Salem Bible Church says, "People are attracted to people who show love, kindness, mercy, and devotion to others," and even though it's an awful thing to be poor, hungry, homeless, and/or unable to feed your kids, it's even worse to be a liar, especially like the ones mentioned below (paragraph 1f of the "poor man" section of the commentary):

"f. The liar stands in stark contrast to the man who is KIND.
" The first man demonstrates his loyalty through deeds of kindness and mercy.
" The liar perhaps PROMISES to help… he promises to demonstrate kindness… but he was lying. He had no intention of helping.
" Or perhaps he denies that he is ABLE to help, when he is in fact very able… but unwilling."

If you want to read more of the commentary, here's the link: www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-19-index/proverbs-19_22/.

JANUARY 18

Proverbs 18:10: "The name of the LORD
[referring to God, who, because of his characteristics and reputation] is a strong tower [a refuge, or shelter]: the righteous [person--who has been justified (saved) by faith and is a born-again Christian] runneth into it [comes to the Lord--by faith, prayer, and devotion to God and dependence on him, meaning that he or she trusts in God for protection], and is safe."

Salem Bible Church has a good commentary on this verse. If you want to read it, here's the link: www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-18-index/proverbs-18_10/.

JANUARY 15-17

James 2:1-9 - Favoring Rich People Over Poor People
This is from a letter that the apostle James wrote to Jewish Christians, but it also applies to us:

Verse 1: "My brethren [fellow Christians], have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ [see Note 1 below], the Lord of glory [our glorious (wonderful, magnificent) Lord], with respect of persons."

Verses 2-4: "For if there come unto your assembly
[to your church, as a visitor] a man [a rich person] with a gold ring, in goodly apparel [wearing expensive clothing], and there come in also a poor man [person] in vile raiment [filthy and ragged clothing]; And ye have respect to him [or her] that weareth the gay [fine, brightly colored] clothing [see Note 2 below], and say unto him [or her], Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor [person], Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool [sit on the floor]: Are ye not then partial in yourselves [showing partiality, or favoritism], and are become judges of evil thoughts [by thinking that the rich person is good and the poor person is bad, as when we 'judge a book by its cover']?"

Verse 5: "Hearken
[listen, pay attention], my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world [to be] rich in faith [to believe the gospel], and [through salvation, to be] heirs of the kingdom [of heaven] which he [God] hath promised to them that love him?"

Verses 6-7: "But ye have despised
[dishonored, insulted, shown contempt for] the poor. Do not rich men [people] oppress [overpower, overburden] you, and draw you before the judgment seats [make you stand before judges, as in court]? Do not they [the rich people] blaspheme [speak irreverently or disrespectfully of] that worthy name [i.e., Jesus Christ, the Son of God] by the which ye are called [Christians]?"

Verses 8-9: "If ye fulfil
[obey] the royal law [commandment of God] according to the scripture [in Leviticus 19:18, part of which says], Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well [that which is right] [see Note 3 below]: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of [convicted by] the law as transgressors [i.e., you are judged to be guilty of breaking the law]."
_________________________

Regarding several phrases in the above verses, Albert Barnes said:

Note 1: "Have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ - Faith is the distinguishing thing in the Christian religion, for it is this by which man is justified, and hence, it comes to be put for religion itself … The meaning here is, 'do not hold such views of the religion of Christ, as to lead you to manifest partiality to others on account of their difference of rank or outward circumstances.'"

(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/james-2.html, "Verse 1")

Note 2: "And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing - If you show him superior attention on account of his rich and gay apparel, giving him a seat by himself, and treating others with neglect or contempt. Religion does not forbid proper respect to rank, to office, to age, or to distinguished talents and services, though even in such cases it does not require that we should feel that such persons have any peculiar claims to salvation, or that they are not on a level with all others, as sinners before God; it does not forbid that a man who has the means of procuring for himself an eligible pew in a church should be permitted to do so; but it requires that men shall be regarded and treated according to their moral worth, and not according to their external adorning; that all shall be considered as in fact on a level before God, and entitled to the privileges which grow out of the worship of the Creator. A stranger coming into any place of worship, no matter what his rank, dress, or complexion, should be treated with respect, and everything should be done that can be to win his heart to the service of God."

(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/james-2.html, "Verse 3")

Note 3: "Ye do well - That is, 'if you fairly comply with the spirit of this law, you do all that is required of you in regulating your intercourse [interactions] with others. You are to regard all persons as your 'neighbors,' and are to treat them according to their real worth; you are not to be influenced in judging of them, or in your treatment of them, by their apparel, or their complexion, or the circumstances of their birth, but by the fact that they are fellow-beings.' This is another reason why they should not show partiality in their treatment of others, for if, in the true sense, they regarded all others as 'neighbors,' they would treat no one with neglect or contempt."

(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/james-2.html, "Verse 8")

JANUARY 14

Psalm 119:105
[A prayer to God, most likely from King David]: "Thy word [referring to the Bible, which is the written word of God] is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path [to guide my way, prevent me from being led astray (away from what is proper and desirable), and keep me safe]."

JANUARY 13

Luke 17:11-19 - Jesus Heals Ten Lepers

Verse 11: "And it came to pass, as he
[Jesus] went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of [middle of, or between] Samaria and Galilee."

Verses 12-14: "And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers
[see note below*], which stood afar off [at a distance, as required by law]: And they lifted up [raised] their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go [and] shew [show] yourselves unto the priests."

Verses 15-16: "And it came to pass, that, as they went
[to see the priests], they were cleansed [cured, healed]. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back [toward Jesus], and with a loud voice glorified [praised] God, And fell down on his face at his feet [meaning that he lay down, stretched out, face down, at Jesus' feet], giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan."

Verses 17-18: "And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the
[other] nine? There are not found [any of them] that returned to give glory to God, save [except] this stranger."

Verse 19: "And he
[Jesus] said unto him [the man who returned to thank him], Arise [get up], go thy way [to the priest, in obedience to the law, to prove that he was healed]: thy faith hath made thee whole [your faith has made you well]."

When our prayers are answered, we should always remember to give thanks to God.
_________________________

*If you're wondering what leprosy is, Albert Barnes describes it in his commentary on Matthew 8:2. If you want to read it, here's the link: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/matthew-8.html ("Verse 2").

JANUARY 12

Hebrews 9:24-26 - Jesus Died
Once to Pay for Our Sins

Verse 24: "For
[Jesus] Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands [referring to the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle of Moses and also in the temple that was built by King Solomon, where the Jewish high priest would enter once a year and sprinkle the blood of animals on the mercy seat to atone (pay) for the sins of the Jewish people], which [referring to the 'holy places made with hands'] are the figures [types, likenesses, representations] of the true [real, or actual, holy places in heaven]; but [the resurrected Jesus entered] into heaven itself [and sprinkled his own blood on the mercy seat there], now to appear [and he now appears] in the presence of God for us [on our behalf]:"

Verse 25: "Nor yet that he should
[neither should Jesus] offer himself [as a sacrifice for sins] often, as the high priest [does when he] entereth into the holy place [in the temple on earth] every year with blood of others [of animals, such as calves and goats];"

Verse 26: "For
[because] [if Jesus were to 'offer himself often,' or frequently,] then must he often have suffered [he would have suffered many, many times] since the foundation [beginning] of the world: but now once in the end of the world [in the Christian dispensation, or gospel age] hath he [the Son of God] appeared [on earth, in human form] to put away sin [remove our punishment for sin] by the sacrifice of himself [referring to his death on the cross]."

The Lord Jesus Christ (also called the "Lamb of God') died on the cross--only once!--to pay for the sin of the world. As a result, earthly sacrifices for sin are no longer necessary or acceptable to God.

JANUARY 11

Romans 2:1-3 - Judging Others
The apostle Paul originally wrote this to the Jews about the Gentiles, but it can also apply to us:

Verse 1: "Therefore thou art inexcusable [you cannot be excused for your own faults or sins], O man [or woman or child], whosoever thou art that judgest [others]: for wherein thou judgest another [when you do the same things for which you judge other people], thou condemnest thyself [you make yourself guilty before God]; for [because] thou that judgest [you who judge others] doest the same things [commit the same sins] [as the people you're judging]."

Verse 2: "But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth
[a true moral standard] against them which commit such things [sins]."

Verse 3: "And thinkest thou this
[do you think], O man [or woman or child], that [or 'who'] judgest them which do such things [commit those sins], and doest [do] the same [things], that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?"

It's not right to judge others' sins when we commit the same sins ourselves. And no matter who we are (Jew or Gentile), we'll all stand before God on judgment day.

JANUARY 10

1 Corinthians 1:17-18 - Preaching the Gospel
In a letter to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul wrote:

Verse 17: "For [Jesus] Christ sent me not to baptize [as my main objective], but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words [not with human wisdom and great speaking ability (like Greek philosophers), but by the power of God (through the influence of the Holy Spirit)], lest the cross of Christ should be [so the cross of Christ (referring to Jesus' crucifixion) won't be] made of none [no] effect [to the salvation of mankind]."

Verse 18: "For the preaching of the cross
[of Christ; i.e., the message that Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins] is to them that perish foolishness [meaning that to unsaved people who refuse to be saved and consequently will be sent to hell and tormented forever in the lake of fire, the preaching of the cross is a stupid, ridiculous concept, unworthy of belief]; but unto us which are saved [referring to born-again Christians] it [the preaching of the cross] is the power of God [unto salvation]."

JANUARY 9

Matthew 13:54-58 - Jesus Didn't Waste His Time on Unbelief

Verse 54: "And when he was come into his own country
[when Jesus arrived in Nazareth], he taught them [his neighbors] in their synagogue, insomuch that [so that] they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man [from where did Jesus get] this wisdom, and [the ability to perform] these mighty works [miracles]? [Answer: From Almighty God, not from the devil, as some may have believed.]"

Verses 55-56: "Is not this
[person, referring to Jesus] the carpenter's [Joseph's] son? is not his mother called Mary [who was a virgin when she conceived and gave birth to Jesus]? and his brethren [brothers], James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence [from where] then hath this man [Jesus] [gotten] all these things [i.e., wisdom and the ability to perform miracles]?"

Verses 57-58: "And they were offended in
[by] him [because, since Jesus had no formal education and came from a working-class family, they considered him to be no better than themselves]. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save [except] in his own country, and in his own house [family]. And he [Jesus] did not [do] many mighty works there [in Nazareth] because of their unbelief."

The above verses are a perfect illustration of the saying, "Familiarity breeds contempt," which (according to online dictionaries) means that extensive knowledge of or close association with someone or something leads to a loss of respect for them or it.

JANUARY 8

2 Timothy 2:24-26 - The Apostle Paul's Advice to Christians
Paul wrote this in a letter to Timothy, who was a minister of the gospel:

Verse 24: "And the servant of the Lord [Jesus Christ--referring mainly to ministers (preachers) but also to all born-again Christians] must not strive [argue, quarrel, fight] [with others]; but [must] be gentle unto all men [people], apt [likely] to teach, [and] patient,"

Verses 25-26: "In meekness
[mildness, humility] instructing [teaching] those that oppose themselves [to the truth of the gospel, meaning unbelievers, or those who resist and deny biblical truth or who embrace (accept, believe) error or false teaching]; if God peradventure [perhaps] will give them repentance [a change of mind] to the acknowledging [acceptance, belief] of the truth [of the gospel]; And that they [i.e., 'those that oppose themselves'] may recover themselves out of [may come to their senses and escape or be rescued from] the snare [trap, net] of the devil, [referring again to 'those that oppose themselves' and meaning those people] who are taken captive [captured] by him [Satan, the devil] at his will [to carry out his will, or do what he wants them to do]."

Sinners are more likely to repent and be saved when the Bible is taught, and the gospel is delivered, in the proper way (i.e., with kindness and humility). This is because people's reactions vary depending on how things are said.

Here are some examples from "The Biblical Illustrator" of why we should use kind words when speaking to others:

"Kind words never blister the tongue or lips, and we never hear of any mental trouble arising from this quarter. Though they do not cost much, yet they accomplish much. They help one's own good nature and good will. Soft words soften our own soul; angry words are fuel to the flame of wrath, and make it burn more fiercely. Kind words make other people good-natured. Cold words freeze people, and hot words scorch them; and bitter words make them bitter, and wrathful words make them wrathful. There are such a number of other kinds of words, that we ought occasionally to make use of kind words. There are vain words, and idle words, and silly words, and hasty words, and empty words, and profane words, and boisterous words, and war-like words. But kind words soothe and comfort the hearer; they shame him out of his sour, morose, unkind feelings. We have not yet begun to use kind words in such abundance as they ought to be used."

[Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/2-timothy/2-24.html, "The Biblical Illustrator: Kind words"]

JANUARY 7

Colossians 3:21: "Fathers
[and mothers, too], provoke not your children to anger [don't make them annoyed or angry by teasing or finding fault with them, being too strict and demanding, punishing out of anger rather than love, etc.], lest they be discouraged [or they'll become depressed and disheartened (having no hope or enthusiasm) and will stop trying to obey and please you]."

Regarding the phrase lest they be discouraged, one Bible commentator wrote:

"Too many instructions, too many 'don'ts', too exacting a standard will only lead to discouragement, rebellion and reluctant eye-service. Not enough instruction will lead to doubt and uncertainty, and even despair. Children need to know what they should do, but also why they should do it or not do it. They are common sense creatures."

(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/colossians/3-21.html, "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible")

JANUARY 6

Romans 10:17: "So then faith
[in God] cometh by hearing [the gospel, or message of salvation], and hearing [comes] by the word of God [being preached and/or read]."

Knowing what's in the Bible gives us faith to believe that it's true and to live accordingly. That's why preaching is so important--not only for salvation but also for our Christian growth. Hopefully, you're in the habit of attending church services and/or listening to sermons, either in person or online, on a regular basis.

JANUARY 5

Galatians 2:21
[In a letter to the churches of Galatia, the apostle Paul wrote]: "I do not frustrate [disregard, reject, make void] the grace [unmerited (undeserved) favor] of God: for if righteousness [justification, salvation--the only condition that is acceptable to God] come by the law [of Moses (i.e., because we obey ceremonial [religious] and/or moral laws, such as the Ten Commandments); in other words, if we can earn salvation by doing good works], then Christ is dead in vain [Jesus died needlessly, for no reason]."

"What is righteousness?" explains what righteousness is and how we get it: If you want to read the article, here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/righteousness.html.


Concerning the phrase if righteousness come by the law, Albert Barnes said:

"If justification can be secured by the observance of any law - ceremonial or moral - then there was no need of the death of Christ as an atonement. This is plain. If man by conformity to any law could be justified before God, what need was there of an atonement? The work would then have been wholly in his own power, and the merit would have been his. It follows from this, that man cannot be justified by his own morality, or his alms-deeds, or his forms of religion, or his honesty and integrity. If he can, he needs no Saviour; he can save himself. It follows also that when people depend on their own amiableness, and morality, and good works, they would feel no need of a Saviour; and this is the true reason why the mass of people reject the Lord Jesus. They suppose they do not deserve to be sent to hell. They have no deep sense of guilt. They confide in their own integrity, and feel that God ought to save them. Hence, they feel no need of a Saviour; for why should a person in health employ a physician? And confiding in their own righteousness, they reject the grace of God, and despise the plan of justification through the Redeemer. To feel the need of a Saviour it is necessary to feel that we are lost and ruined sinners; that we have no merit upon which we can rely; and that we are entirely dependent on the mercy of God for salvation. Thus feeling, we shall receive the salvation of the gospel with thankfulness and joy, and show that in regard to us Christ is not 'dead in vain.'"

(Source:
https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/galatians-2.html, "Verse 21")


Charles Spurgeon, another Bible commentator, summarized the verse like this: "If a man can be saved by his own works, and willings, and doings, then Christ's death was an unnecessary piece of torture; and, instead of being the most glorious manifestation of divine love, it was a shameful waste, putting upon Christ a terrible burden of suffering which was totally unnecessary." (Source:
https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/galatians-2.html, "Verses 16-21: Galatians 2:21")

JANUARY 4

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 - Paul's "Thorn in the Flesh"
In a letter to the Corinthian church, 14 years after he was caught up to the third heaven (the dwelling place of God)], the apostle Paul wrote:

Verse 7: "And lest I should be exalted above measure [so that I wouldn't be filled with spiritual pride] through the abundance of the revelations [because of all the things that I saw and heard while in heaven], there was given to me [with permission from God] a thorn in the flesh [probably a bodily affliction (infirmity or pain) of some kind; many people have tried to guess, but nobody knows for sure exactly what it was], [by] the messenger of Satan [one of Satan's angels (a demon, or devil)] [who was sent] to buffet [attack] me, lest I should be exalted above measure."

Verses 8-9: "For this thing
[the thorn in the flesh] I besought [urgently requested, begged] the Lord [Jesus Christ] thrice [three times] [through prayer], that it might depart [be taken away] from me. And he [Jesus] said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee [meaning that Jesus said no to removing the 'thorn,' but he promised instead to support Paul in his trials and help him withstand his discomfort and pain]: for my strength is made perfect in [your] weakness. Most gladly therefore will I [Paul] rather glory [take pleasure] in my infirmities [physical and/or mental weaknesses (diseases, afflictions, etc.)], [so] that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

Verse 10: "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities
[physical and mental weaknesses], in reproaches [contempt and scorn (criticism and disrespect) from others], in necessities [of life, meaning lack of basic things like food and shelter], in persecutions, in distresses [difficulties that I encounter] for Christ's sake [on behalf of the gospel]: for [because] when [through my own efforts] I am weak [without strength], then [with God's help] am I strong [and able to endure all things]."

Albert Barnes expressed some interesting thoughts about humility and prayer (including why God may not answer our prayers) in his commentary on the above verses. Here are the excerpts:

Heading: "Verse 7"

"To buffet me - … The general truth taught in this verse is, that God will take care that his people shall not be unduly exalted by the manifestations of his favor, and by the spiritual privileges which he bestows on them. He will take measures to humble them; and a large part of his dealings with his people is designed to accomplish this. Sometimes it will be done, as in the case of Paul, by bodily infirmity or trial, by sickness, or by long and lingering disease; sometimes by great poverty and by an humble condition of life; sometimes by reducing us from a state of affluence where we were in danger of being exalted above measure; sometimes by suffering us to be slandered and calumniated, by suffering foes to rise up against us who shall blacken our character and in such a manner that we cannot meet it; sometimes by persecution; sometimes by lack of success in our enterprises, and if in the ministry, by withholding his Spirit; sometimes by suffering us to fall into sin, and thus greatly humbling us before the world.

"Such was the case with David and with Peter; and God often permits us to see in this manner our own weakness, and to bring us to a sense of our dependence and to proper humility by suffering us to perform some act that should be ever afterward a standing source of our humiliation; some act so base, so humiliating, so evincing the deep depravity of our hearts as forever to make and keep us humble. How could David be lifted up with pride after the murder of Uriah? How could Peter after having denied his Lord with a horrid oath? Thus, many a Christian is suffered to fall by the temptation of Satan to show him his weakness and to keep him from pride; many a fall is made the occasion of the permanent benefit of the offender. And perhaps every Christian who has been much favored with elevated spiritual views and comforts can recall something which shall be to him a standing topic of regret and humiliation in his past life. We should be thankful for any calamity that will humble us; and we should remember that clear and elevated views of God and heaven are, after all, more than a compensation for all the sufferings which it may be necessary to endure in order to make us humble."

Heading: "Verse 8"

"Thrice - … The probability … is, that Paul on three different occasions earnestly besought the Lord Jesus that this calamity might be removed from him. It might have been exceedingly painful, or it might, as he supposed, interfere with his success as a preacher; or it might have been of such a nature as to expose him to ridicule; and he prayed, therefore, if it were possible that it might be taken away. The passage proves that it is right to pray earnestly and repeatedly for the removal of any calamity. The Saviour so prayed in the garden; and Paul so prayed here. Yet it also proves that there should be a limit to such prayers. The Saviour prayed three times; and Paul limited himself to the same number of petitions and then submitted to the will of God. This does not prove that we should be limited to exactly this number in our petitions; but it proves that there should be a limit; that we should not be over-anxious, and that when it is plain from any cause that the calamity will not be removed, we should submit to it.

"The Saviour in the garden knew that the cup would not be removed, and he acquiesced. Paul was told indirectly that his calamity would not be removed, and he submitted. We may expect no such revelation from heaven, but we may know in other ways that the calamity will not be removed; and we should submit. The child or other friend for whom we prayed may die; or the calamity, as, e. g., blindness, or deafness, or loss of health, or poverty, may become permanent, so that there is no hope of removing it; and we should then cease to pray that it may be removed, and we should cheerfully acquiesce in the will of God. So David prayed most fervently for his child when it was alive; when it was deceased, and it was of no further use to pray for it, he bowed in submission to the will of God …"

Heading: "Verse 9"

"And he said unto me - …

"It is one of the instances in which the fervent prayer of a good man, offered undoubtedly in faith, was not answered in the form in which he desired, though substantially answered in the assurance of grace sufficient to support him. It furnishes, therefore, a very instructive lesson in regard to prayer, and shows as that we are not to expect as a matter of course that all our prayers will be literally answered, and that we should not be disappointed or disheartened if they are not. It is a matter of fact that not all the prayers even of the pious, and of those who pray having faith in God as a hearer of prayer, are literally answered. Thus, the prayer of David … was not literally answered; the child for whose life he so earnestly prayed died. So the Saviour's request was not literally answered … The cup of suffering which he so earnestly desired should be taken away was not removed. So in the case before us … So in numerous cases now, Christians pray with fervour and with faith for the removal of some calamity which is not removed; or for something which they regard as desirable for their welfare which is withheld. Some of the reasons why this is done are obvious:

"(1) The grace that will be imparted if the calamity is not removed will be of greater value to the individual than would be the direct answer to his prayer. Such was the case with Paul; so it was doubtless with David; and so it is often with Christians now The removal of the calamity might be apparently a blessing, but it might also be attended with danger to our spiritual welfare; the grace imparted may be of permanent value and may be connected with the development of some of the loveliest traits of Christian character.

"(2) it might not be for the good of the individual who prays that the exact thing should be granted. When a parent prays with great earnestness and with insubmission for the life of a child, he knows not what he is doing. If the child lives, he may be the occasion of much more grief to him than if he had died. David had far more trouble from Absalom than he had from the death of the child for which he so earnestly prayed. At the same time it may be better for the child that he should be removed. If he dies in infancy he will be saved. But who can tell what will be his character and destiny should he live to be a man? So of other things.

"(3) God has often some better thing in store for us than would be the immediate answer to our prayer Who can doubt that this was true of Paul? The promised grace of Christ as sufficient to support us is of more value than would be the mere removal of any bodily affliction.

"(4) it would not be well for us, probably, should our petition be literally answered. Who can tell what is best for himself? If the thing were obtained, who can tell how soon we might forget the benefactor and become proud and self-confident? It was the design of God to humble Paul; and this could be much better accomplished by continuing his affliction and by imparting the promised grace, than by withdrawing the affliction and withholding the grace. The very thing to be done was to keep him humble; and this affliction could not be withdrawn without also foregoing the benefit. It is true, also, that where things are in themselves proper to be asked, Christians sometimes ask them in an improper manner, and this is one of the reasons why many of their prayers are not answered. But this does not pertain to the case before us."

(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-corinthians-12.html, "Verses 7-9")

JANUARY 3

1 Timothy 6:8-10 - Love of Money

Verse 8: "And having food
[things to eat and drink] and raiment [clothing and shelter] let us be therewith content [satisfied with those things]."

Verse 9: "But they that will
[those who have a strong desire or craving to] be rich fall into temptation [to do wicked things] and a snare [trap], and into many foolish and hurtful lusts [desires], which drown men in destruction and perdition [ruin--of their happiness, virtue (moral excellence), reputations, and souls]."

Verse 10: "For the love of money is the root
[source, basic cause] of all [kinds of] evil: which while some [people, including professing Christians] coveted after [it (money), because they were greedy and had an insatiable (uncontrollable) desire to be rich], they have erred [wandered away, departed] from the faith [of Christ; i.e., the Christian religion], and pierced themselves through with many sorrows [have caused themselves much heartache, pain, and sadness]."

One Bible commentator went into great detail explaining verse 9. He wrote:

"'But those who want to get rich': Here is the danger of seeking wealth as the prime end of life …

"'Fall into temptation and a snare': All men are tempted, but this is the person who has fallen into a state of temptation, that is who is yielding to one temptation after another. The term 'snare' means a 'trap'. The word 'fall' is also in the present tense, suggesting a continual falling. This desire to be rich at all costs brings one temptation to compromise after another. Thus they are tempted to sacrifice morality, principles, honesty, kindness and friendship to get ahead. 'When top priority is given to amassing riches, such things as honesty, generosity, and helpfulness have to take second place, or third or fourth place!' …

"'And a snare': 'The idea here is that they who have this desire to become rich become so entangled that they cannot easily escape. In their efforts to make money, they can no longer be free men. They find themselves entrapped in temptation to lie, cheat, steal, to sell products they know to be harmful' … Please note also that many people who desire to get rich-never reach the goal. For every greedy person who reached the top there are thousands who found themselves entrapped in one bad business deal after another, or falling for one scam after another. There are many people in our current society who are willing to take advantage of and exploit the person who wants to get rich quick.

"'And many foolish': Greed will move a person to make unwise choices, and such desires are foolish in the sense that they do not yield the happiness they promised. In addition, people infected by greed often live in an unreal world, a world in which they demand that every desire they have be fulfilled and that the things they possess bring them happiness. It is foolish to believe that money can make us happy and it is equally foolish to believe that we deserve that every desire we have be fulfilled in the exact way in which we demand. Added to this, greed creates the false illusion that material possessions bring with them security and safety.

"'And harmful desires': Greed is often very harmful to oneself and others. 'They do great damage to one's character and spiritual life … [and] destroy relationships that are rich and full' …

"'Which plunge men into ruin and destruction': The term here rendered 'plunge' or 'drown' refers not merely to a person drowning, but of a wreck, where the ship and all that is in it go down together … The terms 'ruin' and 'destruction' refer to utter ruin. Some believe that the distinction here is between the ruin in this life, that is, the total ruin of happiness, virtue, reputation, marriage, family and the destruction that awaits in eternity. 'It gives the picture of these lusts overwhelming the man, like the waves covering a sinking ship, and plunging him into perdition' …

"The ruin mentioned in the above verse also would involve personal unhappiness and misery, for the person who desires to be rich above all else, is never satisfied even if they become rich …  In reaching this goal they often have sacrificed everything else that is of true and lasting value … Life is tragic for the person who has plenty to live on but nothing to live for."

(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/1-timothy/6-9.html, "Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible")

JANUARY 2

Hebrews 11:1: "Now faith is the substance
[foundation] of things hoped for [i.e., our basis for believing that the things which have been promised will eventually come true (for example, that we'll have a home in heaven someday)], [and it is also] the evidence of things not seen [i.e., our belief that what we have been told is true, even though we don't have visible proof (for example, the gospel message--that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day--and that we must be 'born again' in order to be saved from hell)]."

Faith is important because we can't be saved without it (see verse quoted below). This means that before you can become a Christian, you must believe that the facts and promises contained in the Bible are true (see above examples in brackets).

Ephesians 2:8-9 says: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."

JANUARY 1

2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore if any man
[or woman or child] be in Christ [is united to Jesus Christ by faith; i.e., has been saved, or born again, according to the Bible--see important note below*], he [or she] is a new creature [created being, or creation--in a moral sense]: old things are passed away; behold, all things [in regard to the mind--thoughts, principles, and practices] are become new."

Albert Barnes has a good commentary on this verse. Here are some excerpts:

"Therefore if any man be in Christ - … The affirmation here is universal, 'if any man be in Christ;' that is, all who become true Christians - undergo such a change in their views and feelings as to make it proper to say of them that they are new creatures. No matter what they have been before, whether moral or immoral; whether infidels or speculative believers; whether amiable, or debased, sensual and polluted yet if they become Christians they all experience such a change as to make it proper to say they are a new creation.

"A new creature - … It means, evidently, that there is a change produced in the renewed heart of man that is equivalent to the act of creation, and that bears a strong resemblance to it - a change, so to speak, as if the man was made over again, and had become new. The mode or manner in which it is done is not described, nor should the words be pressed to the quick, as if the process were the same in both cases - for the words are here evidently figurative. But the phrase implies evidently the following things:

"(1)That there is an exertion of divine power in the conversion of the sinner as really as in the act of creating the world out of nothing, and that this is as indispensable in the one case as in the other.

"(2)that a change is produced so great as to make it proper to say that he is a new man. He has new views, new motives, new principles, new objects and plans of life. He seeks new purposes, and he lives for new ends.

"If a drunkard becomes reformed, there is no impropriety in saying that he is a new man. If a man who was licentious becomes pure, there is no impropriety in saying that he is not the same man that he was before. Such expressions are common in all languages, and they are as proper as they are common. There is such a change as to make the language proper. And so in the conversion of a sinner. There is a change so deep, so clear, so entire, and so abiding, that it is proper to say, here is a new creation of God - a work of the divine power as decided and as glorious as when God created all things out of nothing. There is no other moral change that takes place on earth so deep, and radical, and thorough as the change at conversion. And there is no other where there is so much propriety in ascribing it to the mighty power of God.

"Old things are passed away - … It was true of all who were converted that old things had passed away. And it may include the following things:

"(1) In regard to the Jews - that their former prejudices against Christianity, their natural pride, and spirit of seducing others; their attachment to their rites and ceremonies, and dependence on them for salvation had all passed away. They now renounced that independence, relied on the merits of the Saviour, and embraced all as brethren who were of the family of Christ.

"(2) in regard to the Gentiles - their attachment to idols, their love of sin and degradation, their dependence on their own works, had passed away, and they had renounced all these things, and had come to mingle their hopes with those of the converted Jews, and with all who were the friends of the Redeemer.

"(3) in regard to all, it is also true that old things pass away. Their former prejudices, opinions, habits, attachments pass away. Their supreme love of self passes away. Their love of sins passes away. Their love of the world passes away. Their supreme attachment to their earthly friends rather than God passes away. Their love of sin, their sensuality, pride, vanity, levity, ambition, passes away. There is a deep and radical change on all these subjects - a change which commences at the new birth; which is carried on by progressive sanctification; and which is consummated at death and in heaven.

"Behold, all things are become new - That is, all things in view of the mind. The purposes of life, the feelings of the heart, the principles of action, all become new. The understanding is consecrated to new objects, the body is employed in new service, the heart forms new attachments. Nothing can be more strikingly. descriptive of the facts in conversion than this; nothing more entirely accords with the feelings of the newborn soul. All is new. There are new views of God, and of Jesus Christ; new views of this world and of the world to come; new views of truth and of duty; and everything is seen in a new aspect and with new feelings. Nothing is more common in young converts than such feelings, and nothing is more common than for them to say that all things are new. The Bible seems to be a new book, and though they may have often read it before, yet there is a beauty about it which they never saw before, and which they wonder they have not before perceived. The whole face of nature seems to them to be changed, and they seem to be in a new world. The hills, and vales, and streams; the sun, the stars, the groves, the forests, seem to be new. A new beauty is spread over them all; and they now see them to be the work of God, and his glory is spread over them all, and they can now say:

"'My Father made them all.'

"The heavens and the earth are filled with new wonders, and all things seem now to speak forth the praise of God. Even the very countenances of friends seem to be new; and there are new feelings toward all people; a new kind of love to kindred and friends; and a love before unfelt for enemies; and a new love for all mankind."

(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-corinthians-5.html, "Verse 17")
_________________________

*NOTE: Unless you're already a Christian, a wonderful way to start the new year would be to get saved. If you believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins, and that he was buried and rose again, simply ask him to come into your heart and save you so you can go to heaven when you die. If your prayer is sincere (i.e., if you really mean what you pray), you will be the "new creature" described above.

For a more detailed explanation of the plan of salvation, please read one or more of my gospel tracts. You'll find them on the "Printable Gospel Tracts" page of my website. Here's the link: www.mansioninheaven.com/PrintableGospelTracts.html.


Previous Verses
January 2018
JANUARY 31

Mark 16:14-15 - Jesus Wants Us to Preach the Gospel
This took place soon after Jesus' resurrection, when he appeared to "the eleven" (referring to the apostles who were left after Judas, the traitor, hanged himself), minus Thomas, who was absent from the group at this time:

Verse 14: "Afterward [after being seen by Mary Magdalene and others following his resurrection,] he [Jesus] appeared unto the eleven [apostles] as they sat at meat [while they were eating], and upbraided [scolded] them with [for] their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not [didn't believe] them which [those who] had seen him after he was risen [from the dead]."

Verse 15: "And he
[Jesus] said unto them [the apostles--and all other Christians, too], Go ye into all the world [go to Gentiles as well as Jews], and preach the gospel to every creature [to all human beings; in other words, tell everyone the plan of salvation so they know what they must do to be saved from hell]."

JANUARY 30

2 Timothy 4:2-4 - Preaching and Teaching God's Word
The apostle Paul's advice to Timothy (an evangelist, or minister of the gospel) also applies to all Christians:

Verse 2: "Preach the word [of God, referring to the gospel of Jesus Christ]; be instant in season, out of season [be ready to 'preach the gospel' at all times, which means take every opportunity to tell others how to be saved, whether the situation makes it easy or hard to do so]; reprove [gently correct errors in religious beliefs], rebuke [warn others of the dangers and consequences of sin], [and] exhort [urge or encourage people to obey God's word] with all longsuffering [patience] and doctrine [teaching, instruction]."

Verses 3-4: "For the time will come when they
[these people] will not endure [withstand, put up with] sound doctrine [biblical truth]; but after their own lusts [desires] shall they heap [gather] to themselves [many] [false] teachers, having itching ears [because they're uncomfortable with the truth]; And they shall turn away their ears from [hearing] the truth, and shall be turned [aside] unto fables [made-up stories]."

It's important to preach and teach from the word of God, but it will become harder and harder to faithfully do so because, according to verses 3-4, the time will come when many people, who may have been receptive to the gospel message in the past, will reject godly pastors (those who preach truth from the Bible) and instead will seek preachers and teachers more to their liking (such as false teachers), who "tickle their ears" (tell them what they want to hear and are comfortable to be around), corrupt the plan of salvation, don't preach on sin, etc.

JANUARY 29

Proverbs 29:11: "A fool uttereth
[speaks out about, makes known to others, tells] all [that is on] his [or her] mind [referring to his/her thoughts and emotions--everything that he or she thinks and feels]: but a wise man [or woman or child] keepeth it in [doesn't say anything, exercises self-control] till afterwards [until the right time--see below*]."
_______________

*In his commentary on this verse, which compares fools to wise men, Pastor Delany of Salem Bible Church says:

-- "The fool loudly and publically proclaims his irrational thoughts, his assumptions, his foolish ideas, and his uncontrolled emotions … [He] utters his whole mind and heart. Whatever pops into his head… whatever he happens to be feeling at the moment is sure to come out of his mouth-with little to no thought."

-- On the other hand, the wise man "waits for the right time … waits until he has thought it through … waits until he has all the facts … waits until his emotions have cooled down … waits and thinks of the best way to word what he is trying to say … waits to say many things in private."

If you want to read more of the commentary, here's the link: www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-29-index/proverbs-29_11/.

JANUARY 28

James 1:17: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above
[all good things are from God], and cometh down [to us, from heaven] from the Father of lights [from God, who is the source of light], with whom [like the sun] is no variableness [variation, change], neither shadow of turning [see note below*]."
_______________

*In the last part of the verse, the apostle compares God's nature to that of the sun when the earth revolves around it. In other words, the sun seems to change on a daily basis, but it really doesn't, and neither does God. For example, depending on how close our planet is to the sun, the sun will appear to rise or set, we will experience day or night (light or dark), seasons will change along with the weather (hot or cold temperatures), we'll see shadows, etc.


Note: The best gift that we can have is the gift of eternal life, which comes from God:

-- Romans 6:23: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

If you have not yet received that gift but would like to do so, please read one or more of my gospel tracts.
You'll find them on the "Printable Gospel Tracts" page of my website. Here's the link: www.mansioninheaven.com/PrintableGospelTracts.html.

JANUARY 27

Proverbs 27:7: "The full soul
[a rich person, who has too much of everything--food, possessions, etc.] loatheth [rejects, has no desire for] an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul [someone who is poor and has few possessions and nothing to eat] every bitter thing is sweet."

According to Pastor Delany of Salem Bible Church, the above verse applies to more than just food and honey. What it means is that people who have a lot usually don't appreciate what they have, and people who have very little tend to appreciate the little things. He gives the following examples (among others) to illustrate his point:

"To the full man, sweet things (like a honeycomb or multiple luxury homes) become common place and eventually even distasteful. They can become a source of bitterness. Things that are sweet to others become bitter to him."

"To the hungry man, bitter things (things that others might consider bitter) become sweet. For example, if you told your kids that they were having Fig Newtons for dessert, they might complain. To them, Fig Newtons are not a treat. To them, it is a bitter experience. But trying offering Fig Newtons to a child in Bangladesh! To him who is hungry it is sweet!"

"To most of us, if someone said that you were going to become a millionaire next month, we would probably say, 'That's sweet!' … But if you were a billionaire, and someone said that you were going to become a millionaire next month, he would see that as a bitter experience! … Depending upon your present circumstances, things might be either bitter or sweet."

"When it comes to food, there's a big difference between a man who is hungry and a man who is full. Their appreciation of a cookie might vary greatly."

"When it comes to material goods, there is a big difference between a man who is full (wealthy) and a man who is hungry (poor). The rich man cannot appreciate the little things as the poor man does. … The poor man given the little cottage to live in would rejoice beyond measure; a king given a little cottage to live in would be bitter. It would be like a prison to him."

The verse also has a spiritual application, because, as Pastor Delany points out, "To the unbeliever, the Word of God and its message is a bitter pill … But to the believer, the Word of God is sweeter than a honeycomb!"

If you want to read the rest of the commentary, here's the link: http://www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-27-index/proverbs-27_7/.

JANUARY 26

Numbers 32:20-23 - The Importance of Keeping Our Promises to God

Verse 20: "And Moses said unto them
[the children of Gad and Reuben (two of the twelve tribes of Israel)], If ye will do this thing [which you have promised], if ye will go armed before the LORD [i.e., with the ark of the covenant, which signified (was a sign of) God's presence] to war [along with the other ten tribes],"

Verses 21-22: "And will go all of you armed over
[across] [the river] Jordan before the [ark of the] LORD, until he [God] hath driven out his enemies from before him, And [until] the land [Canaan] be subdued [is conquered, brought under subjection or control] before the LORD: then afterward ye shall return [to this side of the river], and be guiltless [free from guilt, innocent, blameless] before the LORD, and before [the rest of the tribes of] Israel; and this land [Gilead] shall be your possession before the LORD."

Verse 23: "But if ye will not do so
[keep your promise to join in the battle to subdue the land of Canaan], behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out [your disobedience will be punished]."

There is background information concerning the above verses in the following articles:

-- "What should we learn from the tribe of Gad?" (https://www.gotquestions.org/tribe-of-Gad.html)

-- "Why did Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh want to live on the east side of Jordan?" (https://www.gotquestions.org/east-of-Jordan.html)

In addition, I found a very detailed map of Old Testament Israel showing where the various tribes settled. If you want to view it, here's the link: http://www.bible-history.com/geography/ancient-israel/israel-old-testament.html. When you click on names in the map, you'll find Bible verses pertaining to the people and places involved.

JANUARY 25

Proverbs 25:15: "By long forbearing
[with much patience] is a prince [and many other people, too] persuaded [to do or not do something], and [continued pressure from] a soft tongue breaketh the bone."

Using the example of someone finding a small bone in his or her mouth while eating, Pastor Delany of Salem Bible Church explains that "The gentle pressure of a tongue, over time … can bring about … the breaking of a bone … It can be just as effective as a harsher approach-like a saw, a knife, or a hammer."

He goes on to say that in the above verse, "Solomon is really getting at the use of the tongue in speech and communication … The proverb is designed to demonstrate the power of soft and gentle words as opposed to harsh and abrasive words." And he concludes that "In most situations, the gentle and patient approach is the best."

If you want to read more of the commentary, here's the link: www.salembible.org/proverbs-25-index/proverbs-25_15/.

JANUARY 24

Romans 8:35-37 - Assurance for Christians:

Verse 35: "Who shall separate us from the love of
[Jesus] Christ [referring to his love for us]? shall

tribulation
[great trouble or suffering],
or distress
[extreme anxiety, sadness, or pain],
or persecution
[cruel or unfair treatment, especially due to race, or religious or political beliefs],
or famine
[shortage of food],
or nakedness
[no clothes],
or peril
[danger of any kind],
or sword
[death by the sword, including beheading]?

Verse 36: As it is written
[in Psalm 44:22--see below*], For thy [your (God's)] sake we are killed [put to death] all the day long [constantly]; we are accounted [regarded by our enemies] as sheep for the slaughter [to be killed or butchered without remorse (feelings of regret or guilt)].

Verse 37: Nay
[no], in all these things [listed above] we are more than conquerors [victors, winners] through him that loved us [i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ]."
_______________

*Psalm 44:22: "Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter."

JANUARY 23

Matthew 10:32-33
[Being a "secret Christian" is not okay, because Jesus said]: "Whosoever therefore shall confess [acknowledge] me before men [publicly] [in other words, whoever is not ashamed to tell others that he or she is saved, or born again], him [or her] will I confess [acknowledge] also before my Father [God] which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men [whoever shall refuse to acknowledge me (Jesus) publicly], him [or her] will I also deny before my Father [God] which is in heaven."

For more information about "secret Christians," read the article entitled "Is it wrong to be a Christian secretly in order to preserve your own life?" Here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/secret-Christian.html.

Note: If you want to be saved but don't know what to do, please read one or more of the gospel tracts on the "Printable Gospel Tracts" page of my website, which can be found here: https://www.mansioninheaven.com/PrintableGospelTracts.html.

JANUARY 22

1 Corinthians 1:25
[Referring to the plan of salvation, the apostle Paul wrote]: "Because the foolishness of God [i.e., what God does that is considered foolish by some people, such as allowing us to be saved by faith, not works--Ephesians 2:8-9] is wiser [does more important things] than [the wisest] men; and the weakness of God [weakness as it may appear to us, such as when God's Son, Jesus, died on the cross to pay for our sins] is stronger [does more powerful things] than [the strongest] men."

God is not foolish or weak, but sometimes it may appear that way to us. We should never forget that God's wisdom and strength are far greater than ours.

In his commentary on this verse, Albert Barnes said:

"Because the foolishness of God - That which God appoints, requires, commands, does, etc., which appears to people to be foolish. The passage is not to be understood as affirming that it is really foolish or unwise; but that it appears so to people - Perhaps the apostle here refers to those parts of the divine administration where the wisdom of the plan is not seen; or where the reason of what God does is concealed.

"Is wiser than men - Is better adapted to accomplish important ends, and more certainly effectual than the schemes of human wisdom. This is especially true of the plan of salvation - a plan apparently foolish to the mass of people - yet indubitably accomplishing more for the renewing of people, and for their purity and happiness, than all the schemes of human contrivance. They have accomplished nothing toward people's salvation; this accomplishes everything. They have always failed; this never fails.

"The weakness of God - There is really no weakness in God, any more than there is folly. This must mean, therefore, the things of his appointment which appear weak and insufficient to accomplish the end. Such are these facts - that God should seek to save the world by Jesus of Nazareth, Who was supposed unable to save himself … ; and that he should expect to save people by the gospel, by its being preached by people who were without learning, eloquence, wealth, fame, or power. The instruments were feeble; and people judged that this was owing to the weakness or lack of power in the God who appointed them.

"Is stronger than men - Is able to accomplish more than the utmost might of man. The feeblest agency that God puts forth - so feeble as to be esteemed weakness - is able to effect more than the utmost might of man. The apostle here refers particularly to the work of redemption; but it is true everywhere. We may remark:

"(1) That God often effects his mightiest plans by that which seems to men to be weak and even foolish. The most mighty revolutions arise often from the slightest causes; his most vast operations are often connected with very feeble means. The revolution of empires; the mighty effects of the pestilence; the advancement in the sciences, and arts, and the operations of nature, are often brought about by means apparently as little suited to accomplish the work as those which are employed in the plan of redemption.

"(2) God is great. If his feeblest powers put forth, surpass the mightiest powers of man, how great must be his might. If the powers of man who rears works of art; who levels mountains and elevates vales; if the power which reared the pyramids, be as nothing when compared with the feeblest putting forth of divine power, how mighty must be his arm! How vast that strength which made, and which upholds the rolling worlds! How safe are his people in his hand! And how easy for him to crush all his foes in death!"

(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-corinthians-1.html, "Verse 25")

JANUARY 21

Psalm 145:18-19
[King David wrote]: "The LORD is nigh [near] unto all them that call upon him [in prayer, for salvation and help], to all that call upon him in truth [sincerely]. He [God] will fulfil the desire [answer the prayers] of them that fear him [referring to born-again Christians who love, serve, and obey him]: he also will hear their cry, and will save them [from danger here on earth, and from hell when they die]."

JANUARY 20

Proverbs 20:2: "The fear of a king
[the fear that a person would have of a king, dictator, or other government leader] is as the roaring of a lion [is similar to the fear that he or she would have when standing before a roaring lion]: whoso provoketh him to anger [whoever makes the king (leader) angry] sinneth against his [or her] own soul [life--by giving the leader a reason to seek revenge and do something to make the person's life miserable, or even (if the leader is a dictator with absolute authority to do whatever he or she wants to do) to have the person killed]."

Salem Bible Church has a good commentary on this verse.

According to Pastor Delany, kings, like lions, are powerful, strong, and unpredictable. Consequently, we should avoid confrontations with people in authority (examples include a speeder arguing with a police officer, students in a classroom murmuring about their teacher, and employees bad-mouthing their boss), and we shouldn't embarrass kings and other leaders or make them look bad, because we never know for sure what their reaction will be or how it will affect us.

If you want to read the commentary, here's the link: www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-20-index/proverbs-20_2/.

JANUARY 19

Proverbs 19:22: "The desire
[desirable quality] of a man [or woman or child] is his [or her] kindness: and a poor man [person] is better than a liar."

In his commentary, Pastor Delany of Salem Bible Church says, "People are attracted to people who show love, kindness, mercy, and devotion to others," and even though it's an awful thing to be poor, hungry, homeless, and/or unable to feed your kids, it's even worse to be a liar, especially like the ones mentioned below (paragraph 1f of the "poor man" section of the commentary):

"f. The liar stands in stark contrast to the man who is KIND.
" The first man demonstrates his loyalty through deeds of kindness and mercy.
" The liar perhaps PROMISES to help… he promises to demonstrate kindness… but he was lying. He had no intention of helping.
" Or perhaps he denies that he is ABLE to help, when he is in fact very able… but unwilling."

If you want to read more of the commentary, here's the link: www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-19-index/proverbs-19_22/.

JANUARY 18

Proverbs 18:10: "The name of the LORD
[referring to God, who, because of his characteristics and reputation] is a strong tower [a refuge, or shelter]: the righteous [person--who has been justified (saved) by faith and is a born-again Christian] runneth into it [comes to the Lord--by faith, prayer, and devotion to God and dependence on him, meaning that he or she trusts in God for protection], and is safe."

Salem Bible Church has a good commentary on this verse. If you want to read it, here's the link: www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-18-index/proverbs-18_10/.

JANUARY 15-17

James 2:1-9 - Favoring Rich People Over Poor People
This is from a letter that the apostle James wrote to Jewish Christians, but it also applies to us:

Verse 1: "My brethren [fellow Christians], have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ [see Note 1 below], the Lord of glory [our glorious (wonderful, magnificent) Lord], with respect of persons."

Verses 2-4: "For if there come unto your assembly
[to your church, as a visitor] a man [a rich person] with a gold ring, in goodly apparel [wearing expensive clothing], and there come in also a poor man [person] in vile raiment [filthy and ragged clothing]; And ye have respect to him [or her] that weareth the gay [fine, brightly colored] clothing [see Note 2 below], and say unto him [or her], Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor [person], Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool [sit on the floor]: Are ye not then partial in yourselves [showing partiality, or favoritism], and are become judges of evil thoughts [by thinking that the rich person is good and the poor person is bad, as when we 'judge a book by its cover']?"

Verse 5: "Hearken
[listen, pay attention], my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world [to be] rich in faith [to believe the gospel], and [through salvation, to be] heirs of the kingdom [of heaven] which he [God] hath promised to them that love him?"

Verses 6-7: "But ye have despised
[dishonored, insulted, shown contempt for] the poor. Do not rich men [people] oppress [overpower, overburden] you, and draw you before the judgment seats [make you stand before judges, as in court]? Do not they [the rich people] blaspheme [speak irreverently or disrespectfully of] that worthy name [i.e., Jesus Christ, the Son of God] by the which ye are called [Christians]?"

Verses 8-9: "If ye fulfil
[obey] the royal law [commandment of God] according to the scripture [in Leviticus 19:18, part of which says], Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well [that which is right] [see Note 3 below]: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of [convicted by] the law as transgressors [i.e., you are judged to be guilty of breaking the law]."
_________________________

Regarding several phrases in the above verses, Albert Barnes said:

Note 1: "Have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ - Faith is the distinguishing thing in the Christian religion, for it is this by which man is justified, and hence, it comes to be put for religion itself … The meaning here is, 'do not hold such views of the religion of Christ, as to lead you to manifest partiality to others on account of their difference of rank or outward circumstances.'"

(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/james-2.html, "Verse 1")

Note 2: "And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing - If you show him superior attention on account of his rich and gay apparel, giving him a seat by himself, and treating others with neglect or contempt. Religion does not forbid proper respect to rank, to office, to age, or to distinguished talents and services, though even in such cases it does not require that we should feel that such persons have any peculiar claims to salvation, or that they are not on a level with all others, as sinners before God; it does not forbid that a man who has the means of procuring for himself an eligible pew in a church should be permitted to do so; but it requires that men shall be regarded and treated according to their moral worth, and not according to their external adorning; that all shall be considered as in fact on a level before God, and entitled to the privileges which grow out of the worship of the Creator. A stranger coming into any place of worship, no matter what his rank, dress, or complexion, should be treated with respect, and everything should be done that can be to win his heart to the service of God."

(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/james-2.html, "Verse 3")

Note 3: "Ye do well - That is, 'if you fairly comply with the spirit of this law, you do all that is required of you in regulating your intercourse [interactions] with others. You are to regard all persons as your 'neighbors,' and are to treat them according to their real worth; you are not to be influenced in judging of them, or in your treatment of them, by their apparel, or their complexion, or the circumstances of their birth, but by the fact that they are fellow-beings.' This is another reason why they should not show partiality in their treatment of others, for if, in the true sense, they regarded all others as 'neighbors,' they would treat no one with neglect or contempt."

(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/james-2.html, "Verse 8")

JANUARY 14

Psalm 119:105
[A prayer to God, most likely from King David]: "Thy word [referring to the Bible, which is the written word of God] is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path [to guide my way, prevent me from being led astray (away from what is proper and desirable), and keep me safe]."

JANUARY 13

Luke 17:11-19 - Jesus Heals Ten Lepers

Verse 11: "And it came to pass, as he
[Jesus] went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of [middle of, or between] Samaria and Galilee."

Verses 12-14: "And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers
[see note below*], which stood afar off [at a distance, as required by law]: And they lifted up [raised] their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go [and] shew [show] yourselves unto the priests."

Verses 15-16: "And it came to pass, that, as they went
[to see the priests], they were cleansed [cured, healed]. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back [toward Jesus], and with a loud voice glorified [praised] God, And fell down on his face at his feet [meaning that he lay down, stretched out, face down, at Jesus' feet], giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan."

Verses 17-18: "And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the
[other] nine? There are not found [any of them] that returned to give glory to God, save [except] this stranger."

Verse 19: "And he
[Jesus] said unto him [the man who returned to thank him], Arise [get up], go thy way [to the priest, in obedience to the law, to prove that he was healed]: thy faith hath made thee whole [your faith has made you well]."

When our prayers are answered, we should always remember to give thanks to God.
_________________________

*If you're wondering what leprosy is, Albert Barnes describes it in his commentary on Matthew 8:2. If you want to read it, here's the link: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/matthew-8.html ("Verse 2").

JANUARY 12

Hebrews 9:24-26 - Jesus Died
Once to Pay for Our Sins

Verse 24: "For
[Jesus] Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands [referring to the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle of Moses and also in the temple that was built by King Solomon, where the Jewish high priest would enter once a year and sprinkle the blood of animals on the mercy seat to atone (pay) for the sins of the Jewish people], which [referring to the 'holy places made with hands'] are the figures [types, likenesses, representations] of the true [real, or actual, holy places in heaven]; but [the resurrected Jesus entered] into heaven itself [and sprinkled his own blood on the mercy seat there], now to appear [and he now appears] in the presence of God for us [on our behalf]:"

Verse 25: "Nor yet that he should
[neither should Jesus] offer himself [as a sacrifice for sins] often, as the high priest [does when he] entereth into the holy place [in the temple on earth] every year with blood of others [of animals, such as calves and goats];"

Verse 26: "For
[because] [if Jesus were to 'offer himself often,' or frequently,] then must he often have suffered [he would have suffered many, many times] since the foundation [beginning] of the world: but now once in the end of the world [in the Christian dispensation, or gospel age] hath he [the Son of God] appeared [on earth, in human form] to put away sin [remove our punishment for sin] by the sacrifice of himself [referring to his death on the cross]."

The Lord Jesus Christ (also called the "Lamb of God') died on the cross--only once!--to pay for the sin of the world. As a result, earthly sacrifices for sin are no longer necessary or acceptable to God.

JANUARY 11

Romans 2:1-3 - Judging Others
The apostle Paul originally wrote this to the Jews about the Gentiles, but it can also apply to us:

Verse 1: "Therefore thou art inexcusable [you cannot be excused for your own faults or sins], O man [or woman or child], whosoever thou art that judgest [others]: for wherein thou judgest another [when you do the same things for which you judge other people], thou condemnest thyself [you make yourself guilty before God]; for [because] thou that judgest [you who judge others] doest the same things [commit the same sins] [as the people you're judging]."

Verse 2: "But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth
[a true moral standard] against them which commit such things [sins]."

Verse 3: "And thinkest thou this
[do you think], O man [or woman or child], that [or 'who'] judgest them which do such things [commit those sins], and doest [do] the same [things], that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?"

It's not right to judge others' sins when we commit the same sins ourselves. And no matter who we are (Jew or Gentile), we'll all stand before God on judgment day.

JANUARY 10

1 Corinthians 1:17-18 - Preaching the Gospel
In a letter to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul wrote:

Verse 17: "For [Jesus] Christ sent me not to baptize [as my main objective], but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words [not with human wisdom and great speaking ability (like Greek philosophers), but by the power of God (through the influence of the Holy Spirit)], lest the cross of Christ should be [so the cross of Christ (referring to Jesus' crucifixion) won't be] made of none [no] effect [to the salvation of mankind]."

Verse 18: "For the preaching of the cross
[of Christ; i.e., the message that Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins] is to them that perish foolishness [meaning that to unsaved people who refuse to be saved and consequently will be sent to hell and tormented forever in the lake of fire, the preaching of the cross is a stupid, ridiculous concept, unworthy of belief]; but unto us which are saved [referring to born-again Christians] it [the preaching of the cross] is the power of God [unto salvation]."

JANUARY 9

Matthew 13:54-58 - Jesus Didn't Waste His Time on Unbelief

Verse 54: "And when he was come into his own country
[when Jesus arrived in Nazareth], he taught them [his neighbors] in their synagogue, insomuch that [so that] they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man [from where did Jesus get] this wisdom, and [the ability to perform] these mighty works [miracles]? [Answer: From Almighty God, not from the devil, as some may have believed.]"

Verses 55-56: "Is not this
[person, referring to Jesus] the carpenter's [Joseph's] son? is not his mother called Mary [who was a virgin when she conceived and gave birth to Jesus]? and his brethren [brothers], James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence [from where] then hath this man [Jesus] [gotten] all these things [i.e., wisdom and the ability to perform miracles]?"

Verses 57-58: "And they were offended in
[by] him [because, since Jesus had no formal education and came from a working-class family, they considered him to be no better than themselves]. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save [except] in his own country, and in his own house [family]. And he [Jesus] did not [do] many mighty works there [in Nazareth] because of their unbelief."

The above verses are a perfect illustration of the saying, "Familiarity breeds contempt," which (according to online dictionaries) means that extensive knowledge of or close association with someone or something leads to a loss of respect for them or it.

JANUARY 8

2 Timothy 2:24-26 - The Apostle Paul's Advice to Christians
Paul wrote this in a letter to Timothy, who was a minister of the gospel:

Verse 24: "And the servant of the Lord [Jesus Christ--referring mainly to ministers (preachers) but also to all born-again Christians] must not strive [argue, quarrel, fight] [with others]; but [must] be gentle unto all men [people], apt [likely] to teach, [and] patient,"

Verses 25-26: "In meekness
[mildness, humility] instructing [teaching] those that oppose themselves [to the truth of the gospel, meaning unbelievers, or those who resist and deny biblical truth or who embrace (accept, believe) error or false teaching]; if God peradventure [perhaps] will give them repentance [a change of mind] to the acknowledging [acceptance, belief] of the truth [of the gospel]; And that they [i.e., 'those that oppose themselves'] may recover themselves out of [may come to their senses and escape or be rescued from] the snare [trap, net] of the devil, [referring again to 'those that oppose themselves' and meaning those people] who are taken captive [captured] by him [Satan, the devil] at his will [to carry out his will, or do what he wants them to do]."

Sinners are more likely to repent and be saved when the Bible is taught, and the gospel is delivered, in the proper way (i.e., with kindness and humility). This is because people's reactions vary depending on how things are said.

Here are some examples from "The Biblical Illustrator" of why we should use kind words when speaking to others:

"Kind words never blister the tongue or lips, and we never hear of any mental trouble arising from this quarter. Though they do not cost much, yet they accomplish much. They help one's own good nature and good will. Soft words soften our own soul; angry words are fuel to the flame of wrath, and make it burn more fiercely. Kind words make other people good-natured. Cold words freeze people, and hot words scorch them; and bitter words make them bitter, and wrathful words make them wrathful. There are such a number of other kinds of words, that we ought occasionally to make use of kind words. There are vain words, and idle words, and silly words, and hasty words, and empty words, and profane words, and boisterous words, and war-like words. But kind words soothe and comfort the hearer; they shame him out of his sour, morose, unkind feelings. We have not yet begun to use kind words in such abundance as they ought to be used."

[Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/2-timothy/2-24.html, "The Biblical Illustrator: Kind words"]

JANUARY 7

Colossians 3:21: "Fathers
[and mothers, too], provoke not your children to anger [don't make them annoyed or angry by teasing or finding fault with them, being too strict and demanding, punishing out of anger rather than love, etc.], lest they be discouraged [or they'll become depressed and disheartened (having no hope or enthusiasm) and will stop trying to obey and please you]."

Regarding the phrase lest they be discouraged, one Bible commentator wrote:

"Too many instructions, too many 'don'ts', too exacting a standard will only lead to discouragement, rebellion and reluctant eye-service. Not enough instruction will lead to doubt and uncertainty, and even despair. Children need to know what they should do, but also why they should do it or not do it. They are common sense creatures."

(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/colossians/3-21.html, "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible")

JANUARY 6

Romans 10:17: "So then faith
[in God] cometh by hearing [the gospel, or message of salvation], and hearing [comes] by the word of God [being preached and/or read]."

Knowing what's in the Bible gives us faith to believe that it's true and to live accordingly. That's why preaching is so important--not only for salvation but also for our Christian growth. Hopefully, you're in the habit of attending church services and/or listening to sermons, either in person or online, on a regular basis.

JANUARY 5

Galatians 2:21
[In a letter to the churches of Galatia, the apostle Paul wrote]: "I do not frustrate [disregard, reject, make void] the grace [unmerited (undeserved) favor] of God: for if righteousness [justification, salvation--the only condition that is acceptable to God] come by the law [of Moses (i.e., because we obey ceremonial [religious] and/or moral laws, such as the Ten Commandments); in other words, if we can earn salvation by doing good works], then Christ is dead in vain [Jesus died needlessly, for no reason]."

"What is righteousness?" explains what righteousness is and how we get it: If you want to read the article, here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/righteousness.html.


Concerning the phrase if righteousness come by the law, Albert Barnes said:

"If justification can be secured by the observance of any law - ceremonial or moral - then there was no need of the death of Christ as an atonement. This is plain. If man by conformity to any law could be justified before God, what need was there of an atonement? The work would then have been wholly in his own power, and the merit would have been his. It follows from this, that man cannot be justified by his own morality, or his alms-deeds, or his forms of religion, or his honesty and integrity. If he can, he needs no Saviour; he can save himself. It follows also that when people depend on their own amiableness, and morality, and good works, they would feel no need of a Saviour; and this is the true reason why the mass of people reject the Lord Jesus. They suppose they do not deserve to be sent to hell. They have no deep sense of guilt. They confide in their own integrity, and feel that God ought to save them. Hence, they feel no need of a Saviour; for why should a person in health employ a physician? And confiding in their own righteousness, they reject the grace of God, and despise the plan of justification through the Redeemer. To feel the need of a Saviour it is necessary to feel that we are lost and ruined sinners; that we have no merit upon which we can rely; and that we are entirely dependent on the mercy of God for salvation. Thus feeling, we shall receive the salvation of the gospel with thankfulness and joy, and show that in regard to us Christ is not 'dead in vain.'"

(Source:
https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/galatians-2.html, "Verse 21")


Charles Spurgeon, another Bible commentator, summarized the verse like this: "If a man can be saved by his own works, and willings, and doings, then Christ's death was an unnecessary piece of torture; and, instead of being the most glorious manifestation of divine love, it was a shameful waste, putting upon Christ a terrible burden of suffering which was totally unnecessary." (Source:
https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/galatians-2.html, "Verses 16-21: Galatians 2:21")

JANUARY 4

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 - Paul's "Thorn in the Flesh"
In a letter to the Corinthian church, 14 years after he was caught up to the third heaven (the dwelling place of God)], the apostle Paul wrote:

Verse 7: "And lest I should be exalted above measure [so that I wouldn't be filled with spiritual pride] through the abundance of the revelations [because of all the things that I saw and heard while in heaven], there was given to me [with permission from God] a thorn in the flesh [probably a bodily affliction (infirmity or pain) of some kind; many people have tried to guess, but nobody knows for sure exactly what it was], [by] the messenger of Satan [one of Satan's angels (a demon, or devil)] [who was sent] to buffet [attack] me, lest I should be exalted above measure."

Verses 8-9: "For this thing
[the thorn in the flesh] I besought [urgently requested, begged] the Lord [Jesus Christ] thrice [three times] [through prayer], that it might depart [be taken away] from me. And he [Jesus] said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee [meaning that Jesus said no to removing the 'thorn,' but he promised instead to support Paul in his trials and help him withstand his discomfort and pain]: for my strength is made perfect in [your] weakness. Most gladly therefore will I [Paul] rather glory [take pleasure] in my infirmities [physical and/or mental weaknesses (diseases, afflictions, etc.)], [so] that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

Verse 10: "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities
[physical and mental weaknesses], in reproaches [contempt and scorn (criticism and disrespect) from others], in necessities [of life, meaning lack of basic things like food and shelter], in persecutions, in distresses [difficulties that I encounter] for Christ's sake [on behalf of the gospel]: for [because] when [through my own efforts] I am weak [without strength], then [with God's help] am I strong [and able to endure all things]."

Albert Barnes expressed some interesting thoughts about humility and prayer (including why God may not answer our prayers) in his commentary on the above verses. Here are the excerpts:

Heading: "Verse 7"

"To buffet me - … The general truth taught in this verse is, that God will take care that his people shall not be unduly exalted by the manifestations of his favor, and by the spiritual privileges which he bestows on them. He will take measures to humble them; and a large part of his dealings with his people is designed to accomplish this. Sometimes it will be done, as in the case of Paul, by bodily infirmity or trial, by sickness, or by long and lingering disease; sometimes by great poverty and by an humble condition of life; sometimes by reducing us from a state of affluence where we were in danger of being exalted above measure; sometimes by suffering us to be slandered and calumniated, by suffering foes to rise up against us who shall blacken our character and in such a manner that we cannot meet it; sometimes by persecution; sometimes by lack of success in our enterprises, and if in the ministry, by withholding his Spirit; sometimes by suffering us to fall into sin, and thus greatly humbling us before the world.

"Such was the case with David and with Peter; and God often permits us to see in this manner our own weakness, and to bring us to a sense of our dependence and to proper humility by suffering us to perform some act that should be ever afterward a standing source of our humiliation; some act so base, so humiliating, so evincing the deep depravity of our hearts as forever to make and keep us humble. How could David be lifted up with pride after the murder of Uriah? How could Peter after having denied his Lord with a horrid oath? Thus, many a Christian is suffered to fall by the temptation of Satan to show him his weakness and to keep him from pride; many a fall is made the occasion of the permanent benefit of the offender. And perhaps every Christian who has been much favored with elevated spiritual views and comforts can recall something which shall be to him a standing topic of regret and humiliation in his past life. We should be thankful for any calamity that will humble us; and we should remember that clear and elevated views of God and heaven are, after all, more than a compensation for all the sufferings which it may be necessary to endure in order to make us humble."

Heading: "Verse 8"

"Thrice - … The probability … is, that Paul on three different occasions earnestly besought the Lord Jesus that this calamity might be removed from him. It might have been exceedingly painful, or it might, as he supposed, interfere with his success as a preacher; or it might have been of such a nature as to expose him to ridicule; and he prayed, therefore, if it were possible that it might be taken away. The passage proves that it is right to pray earnestly and repeatedly for the removal of any calamity. The Saviour so prayed in the garden; and Paul so prayed here. Yet it also proves that there should be a limit to such prayers. The Saviour prayed three times; and Paul limited himself to the same number of petitions and then submitted to the will of God. This does not prove that we should be limited to exactly this number in our petitions; but it proves that there should be a limit; that we should not be over-anxious, and that when it is plain from any cause that the calamity will not be removed, we should submit to it.

"The Saviour in the garden knew that the cup would not be removed, and he acquiesced. Paul was told indirectly that his calamity would not be removed, and he submitted. We may expect no such revelation from heaven, but we may know in other ways that the calamity will not be removed; and we should submit. The child or other friend for whom we prayed may die; or the calamity, as, e. g., blindness, or deafness, or loss of health, or poverty, may become permanent, so that there is no hope of removing it; and we should then cease to pray that it may be removed, and we should cheerfully acquiesce in the will of God. So David prayed most fervently for his child when it was alive; when it was deceased, and it was of no further use to pray for it, he bowed in submission to the will of God …"

Heading: "Verse 9"

"And he said unto me - …

"It is one of the instances in which the fervent prayer of a good man, offered undoubtedly in faith, was not answered in the form in which he desired, though substantially answered in the assurance of grace sufficient to support him. It furnishes, therefore, a very instructive lesson in regard to prayer, and shows as that we are not to expect as a matter of course that all our prayers will be literally answered, and that we should not be disappointed or disheartened if they are not. It is a matter of fact that not all the prayers even of the pious, and of those who pray having faith in God as a hearer of prayer, are literally answered. Thus, the prayer of David … was not literally answered; the child for whose life he so earnestly prayed died. So the Saviour's request was not literally answered … The cup of suffering which he so earnestly desired should be taken away was not removed. So in the case before us … So in numerous cases now, Christians pray with fervour and with faith for the removal of some calamity which is not removed; or for something which they regard as desirable for their welfare which is withheld. Some of the reasons why this is done are obvious:

"(1) The grace that will be imparted if the calamity is not removed will be of greater value to the individual than would be the direct answer to his prayer. Such was the case with Paul; so it was doubtless with David; and so it is often with Christians now The removal of the calamity might be apparently a blessing, but it might also be attended with danger to our spiritual welfare; the grace imparted may be of permanent value and may be connected with the development of some of the loveliest traits of Christian character.

"(2) it might not be for the good of the individual who prays that the exact thing should be granted. When a parent prays with great earnestness and with insubmission for the life of a child, he knows not what he is doing. If the child lives, he may be the occasion of much more grief to him than if he had died. David had far more trouble from Absalom than he had from the death of the child for which he so earnestly prayed. At the same time it may be better for the child that he should be removed. If he dies in infancy he will be saved. But who can tell what will be his character and destiny should he live to be a man? So of other things.

"(3) God has often some better thing in store for us than would be the immediate answer to our prayer Who can doubt that this was true of Paul? The promised grace of Christ as sufficient to support us is of more value than would be the mere removal of any bodily affliction.

"(4) it would not be well for us, probably, should our petition be literally answered. Who can tell what is best for himself? If the thing were obtained, who can tell how soon we might forget the benefactor and become proud and self-confident? It was the design of God to humble Paul; and this could be much better accomplished by continuing his affliction and by imparting the promised grace, than by withdrawing the affliction and withholding the grace. The very thing to be done was to keep him humble; and this affliction could not be withdrawn without also foregoing the benefit. It is true, also, that where things are in themselves proper to be asked, Christians sometimes ask them in an improper manner, and this is one of the reasons why many of their prayers are not answered. But this does not pertain to the case before us."

(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-corinthians-12.html, "Verses 7-9")

JANUARY 3

1 Timothy 6:8-10 - Love of Money

Verse 8: "And having food
[things to eat and drink] and raiment [clothing and shelter] let us be therewith content [satisfied with those things]."

Verse 9: "But they that will
[those who have a strong desire or craving to] be rich fall into temptation [to do wicked things] and a snare [trap], and into many foolish and hurtful lusts [desires], which drown men in destruction and perdition [ruin--of their happiness, virtue (moral excellence), reputations, and souls]."

Verse 10: "For the love of money is the root
[source, basic cause] of all [kinds of] evil: which while some [people, including professing Christians] coveted after [it (money), because they were greedy and had an insatiable (uncontrollable) desire to be rich], they have erred [wandered away, departed] from the faith [of Christ; i.e., the Christian religion], and pierced themselves through with many sorrows [have caused themselves much heartache, pain, and sadness]."

One Bible commentator went into great detail explaining verse 9. He wrote:

"'But those who want to get rich': Here is the danger of seeking wealth as the prime end of life …

"'Fall into temptation and a snare': All men are tempted, but this is the person who has fallen into a state of temptation, that is who is yielding to one temptation after another. The term 'snare' means a 'trap'. The word 'fall' is also in the present tense, suggesting a continual falling. This desire to be rich at all costs brings one temptation to compromise after another. Thus they are tempted to sacrifice morality, principles, honesty, kindness and friendship to get ahead. 'When top priority is given to amassing riches, such things as honesty, generosity, and helpfulness have to take second place, or third or fourth place!' …

"'And a snare': 'The idea here is that they who have this desire to become rich become so entangled that they cannot easily escape. In their efforts to make money, they can no longer be free men. They find themselves entrapped in temptation to lie, cheat, steal, to sell products they know to be harmful' … Please note also that many people who desire to get rich-never reach the goal. For every greedy person who reached the top there are thousands who found themselves entrapped in one bad business deal after another, or falling for one scam after another. There are many people in our current society who are willing to take advantage of and exploit the person who wants to get rich quick.

"'And many foolish': Greed will move a person to make unwise choices, and such desires are foolish in the sense that they do not yield the happiness they promised. In addition, people infected by greed often live in an unreal world, a world in which they demand that every desire they have be fulfilled and that the things they possess bring them happiness. It is foolish to believe that money can make us happy and it is equally foolish to believe that we deserve that every desire we have be fulfilled in the exact way in which we demand. Added to this, greed creates the false illusion that material possessions bring with them security and safety.

"'And harmful desires': Greed is often very harmful to oneself and others. 'They do great damage to one's character and spiritual life … [and] destroy relationships that are rich and full' …

"'Which plunge men into ruin and destruction': The term here rendered 'plunge' or 'drown' refers not merely to a person drowning, but of a wreck, where the ship and all that is in it go down together … The terms 'ruin' and 'destruction' refer to utter ruin. Some believe that the distinction here is between the ruin in this life, that is, the total ruin of happiness, virtue, reputation, marriage, family and the destruction that awaits in eternity. 'It gives the picture of these lusts overwhelming the man, like the waves covering a sinking ship, and plunging him into perdition' …

"The ruin mentioned in the above verse also would involve personal unhappiness and misery, for the person who desires to be rich above all else, is never satisfied even if they become rich …  In reaching this goal they often have sacrificed everything else that is of true and lasting value … Life is tragic for the person who has plenty to live on but nothing to live for."

(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/1-timothy/6-9.html, "Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible")

JANUARY 2

Hebrews 11:1: "Now faith is the substance
[foundation] of things hoped for [i.e., our basis for believing that the things which have been promised will eventually come true (for example, that we'll have a home in heaven someday)], [and it is also] the evidence of things not seen [i.e., our belief that what we have been told is true, even though we don't have visible proof (for example, the gospel message--that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day--and that we must be 'born again' in order to be saved from hell)]."

Faith is important because we can't be saved without it (see verse quoted below). This means that before you can become a Christian, you must believe that the facts and promises contained in the Bible are true (see above examples in brackets).

Ephesians 2:8-9 says: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."

JANUARY 1

2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore if any man
[or woman or child] be in Christ [is united to Jesus Christ by faith; i.e., has been saved, or born again, according to the Bible--see important note below*], he [or she] is a new creature [created being, or creation--in a moral sense]: old things are passed away; behold, all things [in regard to the mind--thoughts, principles, and practices] are become new."

Albert Barnes has a good commentary on this verse. Here are some excerpts:

"Therefore if any man be in Christ - … The affirmation here is universal, 'if any man be in Christ;' that is, all who become true Christians - undergo such a change in their views and feelings as to make it proper to say of them that they are new creatures. No matter what they have been before, whether moral or immoral; whether infidels or speculative believers; whether amiable, or debased, sensual and polluted yet if they become Christians they all experience such a change as to make it proper to say they are a new creation.

"A new creature - … It means, evidently, that there is a change produced in the renewed heart of man that is equivalent to the act of creation, and that bears a strong resemblance to it - a change, so to speak, as if the man was made over again, and had become new. The mode or manner in which it is done is not described, nor should the words be pressed to the quick, as if the process were the same in both cases - for the words are here evidently figurative. But the phrase implies evidently the following things:

"(1)That there is an exertion of divine power in the conversion of the sinner as really as in the act of creating the world out of nothing, and that this is as indispensable in the one case as in the other.

"(2)that a change is produced so great as to make it proper to say that he is a new man. He has new views, new motives, new principles, new objects and plans of life. He seeks new purposes, and he lives for new ends.

"If a drunkard becomes reformed, there is no impropriety in saying that he is a new man. If a man who was licentious becomes pure, there is no impropriety in saying that he is not the same man that he was before. Such expressions are common in all languages, and they are as proper as they are common. There is such a change as to make the language proper. And so in the conversion of a sinner. There is a change so deep, so clear, so entire, and so abiding, that it is proper to say, here is a new creation of God - a work of the divine power as decided and as glorious as when God created all things out of nothing. There is no other moral change that takes place on earth so deep, and radical, and thorough as the change at conversion. And there is no other where there is so much propriety in ascribing it to the mighty power of God.

"Old things are passed away - … It was true of all who were converted that old things had passed away. And it may include the following things:

"(1) In regard to the Jews - that their former prejudices against Christianity, their natural pride, and spirit of seducing others; their attachment to their rites and ceremonies, and dependence on them for salvation had all passed away. They now renounced that independence, relied on the merits of the Saviour, and embraced all as brethren who were of the family of Christ.

"(2) in regard to the Gentiles - their attachment to idols, their love of sin and degradation, their dependence on their own works, had passed away, and they had renounced all these things, and had come to mingle their hopes with those of the converted Jews, and with all who were the friends of the Redeemer.

"(3) in regard to all, it is also true that old things pass away. Their former prejudices, opinions, habits, attachments pass away. Their supreme love of self passes away. Their love of sins passes away. Their love of the world passes away. Their supreme attachment to their earthly friends rather than God passes away. Their love of sin, their sensuality, pride, vanity, levity, ambition, passes away. There is a deep and radical change on all these subjects - a change which commences at the new birth; which is carried on by progressive sanctification; and which is consummated at death and in heaven.

"Behold, all things are become new - That is, all things in view of the mind. The purposes of life, the feelings of the heart, the principles of action, all become new. The understanding is consecrated to new objects, the body is employed in new service, the heart forms new attachments. Nothing can be more strikingly. descriptive of the facts in conversion than this; nothing more entirely accords with the feelings of the newborn soul. All is new. There are new views of God, and of Jesus Christ; new views of this world and of the world to come; new views of truth and of duty; and everything is seen in a new aspect and with new feelings. Nothing is more common in young converts than such feelings, and nothing is more common than for them to say that all things are new. The Bible seems to be a new book, and though they may have often read it before, yet there is a beauty about it which they never saw before, and which they wonder they have not before perceived. The whole face of nature seems to them to be changed, and they seem to be in a new world. The hills, and vales, and streams; the sun, the stars, the groves, the forests, seem to be new. A new beauty is spread over them all; and they now see them to be the work of God, and his glory is spread over them all, and they can now say:

"'My Father made them all.'

"The heavens and the earth are filled with new wonders, and all things seem now to speak forth the praise of God. Even the very countenances of friends seem to be new; and there are new feelings toward all people; a new kind of love to kindred and friends; and a love before unfelt for enemies; and a new love for all mankind."

(Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-corinthians-5.html, "Verse 17")
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*NOTE: Unless you're already a Christian, a wonderful way to start the new year would be to get saved. If you believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins, and that he was buried and rose again, simply ask him to come into your heart and save you so you can go to heaven when you die. If your prayer is sincere (i.e., if you really mean what you pray), you will be the "new creature" described above.

For a more detailed explanation of the plan of salvation, please read one or more of my gospel tracts. You'll find them on the "Printable Gospel Tracts" page of my website. Here's the link: www.mansioninheaven.com/PrintableGospelTracts.html.


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