Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. Isaiah 9:7
In 1516, the English churchman, philosopher, and advisor to King Henry VIII, Sir Thomas More, coined the term utopia when he published a book by that name: Utopia. It described an imaginary island country named Utopia (“no place” in Greek) where life was lived in perfect order and balance.
Will there ever be a world where life is ordered and balanced? According to the Bible there will be. First, for a thousand years Christ will rule a kingdom on earth which is not totally problem-free, but which is ordered by His perfect rule. Then, for all eternity, the new heaven and new earth will usher in the New Jerusalem where life will be perfect—devoid of death, mourning, and pain.
Today, we see dystopia. But in the future we see the Kingdom of God—first on earth, then on the new earth. Perfection is coming for all who wait for it in Christ.
We reject as a proud, self-confident dream the notion that man can ever build a utopia on earth. The Lausanne Covenant
His Kingdom Foretold – Isaiah 9:6-7 – Skip Heitzig
Our struggle is . . . against the powers of this dark world. Ephesians 6:12
In 1896, an explorer named Carl Akeley found himself in a remote section of Ethiopia, chased by an eighty-pound leopard. He remembered the leopard pouncing, trying “to sink her teeth into my throat.” She missed, snagging his right arm with her vicious jaws. The two rolled in the sand—a long, fierce struggle. Akeley weakened, and “it became a question of who would give up first.” Summoning his last bit of strength, Akeley was able to suffocate the big cat with his bare hands.
The apostle Paul explained how each of us who believe in Jesus will inevitably encounter our own fierce struggles, those places where we feel overwhelmed and are tempted to surrender. Instead, we must take our “stand against the devil’s schemes” and “stand firm” (Ephesians 6:11, 14). Rather than cower in fear or crumble as we recognize our weakness and vulnerability, Paul challenged us to step forward in faith, remembering that we don’t rely on our own courage and strength but on God. “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power,” he wrote (v. 10). In the challenges we face, He’s only a prayer away (v. 18).
Yes, we have many struggles, and we’ll never escape them by our own power or ingenuity. But God is more powerful than any enemy or evil we’ll ever face.
If we want to withstand trials and evil temptations, we must plant ourselves on a foundation of faith
Did you know that you’re in a battle every day of your life? The enemy’s goal is to weaken, deceive, and lead believers astray. God protects all who belong to Him, so wicked forces can never touch our salvation (1 Peter 1:3-5). But they can lead us into sin, cause discouragement, ruin our witness for Christ, and bring about other damage.
The main charge in today’s passage is “Stand firm,” and it’s mentioned three times (Eph. 6:11; Eph. 6:13-14). Paul says the purpose of the armor of God is to enable us to stand our ground in the battle, and his list of armor would not be complete without the footwear mentioned in verse 15. The soles of a Roman soldier’s sandals were studded with iron hobnails, which enabled him to stand his ground against an enemy assault.
Today our anchoring footwear is faith in the gospel, which not only grants us peace with the heavenly Father but also makes us Satan’s adversaries. So plant your feet and anchor yourself on a solid foundation of faith. When we don’t avail ourselves of the protection provided through Christ, we’re more likely to give way in the fight and yield to Satan’s temptations.
“Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” (Philippians 4:5)
There are three important aspects to this instruction. First, we are to be “moderate,” the core meaning of which is to be equitable or fair, with further associations of mild and gentle.
The Greek word rarely appears in the New Testament. Twice the qualifications of church leaders include this characteristic (1 Timothy 3:3 and Titus 3:2), both times stressing the “gentle” aspect of the term. Once, and importantly, the term is used in a broad sweep of adjectives outlining the “wisdom that is from above” (James 3:17)—all aspects, incidentally, fleshing out the idea of “fair” or “equitable.”
Secondly, today’s verse tells us to make our moderation “known unto all men.” That is demanding, since it is more difficult to apply equity to all people rather than just attempt to be fair and gentle in our dealings. Surely the Holy Spirit is insisting that our inner character be “moderate” so that the resulting actions will flow from a person’s character rather than his circumstance. As noted of those of the Corinthian church, they were “manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ” (2 Corinthians 3:3). Everybody “reads” us, and what others decide about us must include the reputation of fair and gentle behavior to all.
Finally, the reason that this requirement is so significant is because “the Lord is at hand.” Although a quick application might lead one to think “the Lord is coming back soon,” the time element is not at all implied in the sentence. A better translation may be “the Lord is alongside,” “He is close,” or even “the Lord is with you.” It is easy, sometimes, to forget that God indwells us through the Holy Spirit and that our every action and thought are known by our Creator (Psalm 139:3-4). HMM III
How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? —Romans 6:2
We must admit that the true Christian is a rather strange person in the eye of the unbeliever. I use the adjective true in regard to the Christian not only to point out the necessity for the new birth but to indicate, also, the Christian who is living according to his new birth. I speak here of a transformed life pleasing to God, for if you want to be a Christian, you must agree to a very much different life.
The life of obedience to Jesus Christ means living moment by moment in the Spirit of God and it will be so different from your former life that you will often be considered strange….The true Christian may seem a strange person indeed to those who make their observations only from the point of view of this present world, which is alienated from God and His gracious plan of salvation.
Consider now this glorious contradiction….The Christian is dead and yet he lives forever. He died to himself and yet he lives in Christ. The reason he lives is because of the death of another. ICH159-160
If we truly want to follow God, we must seek to be other-worldly….Every man must choose his world. POG052
Disaster pursues sinners, but good rewards the righteous.—Proverbs 13:21
Solomon’s comments in Ecclesiastes 11:9 are aimed at the young: “Let your heart be glad in the days of your youth.” Enjoy your days one by one, he is saying, because before you know it, you will be an adult.
The words that come next have sent some Christians into apoplexy: “And walk in the ways of your heart and in the sight of your eyes.” I remember a youth leader in a church I pastored who set out to teach the Book of Ecclesiastes to the young people. But he deliberately left out these words. When I asked him why, he said: “That’s bad advice for young people. They are inclined that way already so I thought it best not to draw attention to it.” I drew his attention to the words that follow: “but know that for all of these things God will bring you to judgment.” This is what Solomon is really saying: “Relax and have a super time when you are young. There will be many impulses and many things that appeal to your eyes. Follow them, but keep in mind there will be a day of accountability. So don’t let your impulses go wild.”
Some believe that warning takes the joy out of living, but it shouldn’t. If we ignore the God to whom we must all answer, then we leave ourselves open to experiencing not life but unrestricted liberty. And that kind of freedom is bad for us. So banish all worries, Solomon tells the young, and avoid those things that bring pain to your body. Young person, you are only young once. Stay close to God and you’ll get the most out of it.
O God my Father, while I am thankful for all the books that help me learn of You and know about You, help me never to put these ahead of Your Word, the Bible, but always behind it. Make me a person of the Book. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and deliver Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not sending you?”—Judges 6:14
In Gideon’s mind, victory over the Midianites was an impossibility, and he was absolutely right! The Midianites, along with their allies, overwhelmed the feeble Hebrews. Yet the moment God told Gideon to fight them, victory was no longer an impossibility!
When Jesus commanded His small group of followers to make disciples of all nations, was that possible (Matt. 28:19)? Certainly, if Jesus said it was! When Jesus told His disciples to love their enemies, was He being realistic? Of course, because He was the One who would achieve reconciliation through them (2 Cor. 5:19–20).
Do you treat commands like these as implausible? Do you modify God’s word to find an interpretation that seems reasonable to you? Don’t discount what is possible with God (Phil. 4:13). When God gives an assignment, it is no longer an impossibility, but rather it is an absolute certainty. When God gives you a seemingly impossible task, the only thing preventing it from coming to pass is your disobedience. When God speaks, it can scare you to death! He will lead you to do things that are absolutely impossible in your own strength. But God will grant you victory, step by step, as you obey Him. How do you respond to assignments that seem impossible? Do you write them off as unattainable? Or do you immediately adjust your life to God’s revelation, watching with anticipation to see how He will accomplish His purposes through your obedience? God wants to do the impossible through your life. All He requires is your obedience.