Learning Moderation in Eating: the Lenten Fast (Sat., March 6)

The word of the day is “eat.”  On this eve of Meatfare Sunday, in our reading of 1 Cor. 10:23-28, we hear Paul’s teaching about eating meat offered to idols.  This issue might seem to be irrelevant to us.  But the principle still holds.  The apostle writes,  “All things are lawful for me but not all things edify” (vs.  23).  This maxim speaks of “edification,” the building up of spiritual character (Strong’s #3618, 176).  From this counsel, we learn that in what we eat and whatever we do, we should seek to do what is constructive for the well-being of others.  However, given that we are starting our Lenten fast by abstaining from meat this week,  today’s comments will apply…

Don’t Be a Loser: Guarding What We Have Been Taught (Fri., March 5)

The word of the day is “lose.”  Scripture is full of instances of persons who lose something of great spiritual worth. In today’s reading of 2 John 1:1-13, the Elder writes, “Look to yourself that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward” (vs. 8).  With this admonition, we hear the warning that we should be on guard against losing the doctrine, that is, the teachings on which our faith rests. The Danger of Losing What are we in danger of losing, according to our reading?  We discover the answer when we consider that the Elder warns against the deceivers that are rising up against the faithful.  Their threat to believers…

Peace in Christ: Tribulation in the World (Thurs., March 4)

The word of the day is “overcome.”  At the Last Supper on the night of His betrayal, the Lord Jesus assured His disciples of His victory over the world that He gave Himself up to save. He said, “These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  In our reading of 1 John 4:20-5:21, John echoes this reassurance: “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith” (vs. 4).  In today’s study, we learn the source and nature of tribulations and how faith overcomes…

A Hearing Test: Listening to the Spirit or the Antichrist? (Wed., March 3)

The word of the day is “hear.”  If you want to know the true character of a leader, look at those who are following him or her.  Leaders will attract adherents who appeal to them, and over time they will mold their flocks after their teachings and example.  In our reading of 1 John 3:21-4:6, the apostle contrasts those who are “of the world” and those who are “of God.”  Those who are “of the world” pay attention to worldly things.  Those who are “of God” are attentive to godly things. Thus, the apostle writes, “We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us” (vs. 6). The book of…

Forgiving Ourselves as God Forgives Us (Tues., March 2)

The word of the day is “condemn.”  We believe that God forgives us when we turn to Him for mercy.   But though we receive this forgiveness from the Lord, do we forgive ourselves?  Today’s reading of 1 John 3:11-20 proclaims our Heavenly Father’s answer to those of us who cannot let go of the guilt we carry.  The apostle writes, “for if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things” (vs. 20). Becoming aware of our sins is a good thing.  As the story of the Prodigal Son teaches, coming to terms with our trespasses propels us on the way back to the home of our Heavenly Father.  As the parable of the Publican…

Hope Anticipated: The Vision of God (Mon., March 1)

The word of the day is “hope.” There is a difference between hope and anticipation.  To hope is to desire something with the expectation that you will receive it in the future.   But to anticipate something is to experience what receiving it will be like in advance. A child may hope for a birthday party.  But if she anticipates it, she feels as if its reality has already come.  She is filled with the happiness of expectation. The Promise to God’s Children In today’s reading of 1 John 2:18-3:10, the apostle notes that the hope to be “like Christ” can be so strong that believers anticipate it in the present.  Accordingly, John reveals the hope of the vision of God,…

Reverence for the Body and the Lenten Fast (Sun., Feb. 28) Corrected

The word of the day is “body.”  Of all the gifts of God, one of the most precious and yet neglected and mistreated is the body.  Yet in our reading of 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, Paul writes, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God and that you are not your own?” (vs. 19).  Today the apostle promotes the attitude of reverence for the body that Christ has “bought with a price.” In the current pandemic, we have found that our bodies are vulnerable and subject to corruption, that is, to disease, growing old, and dying.  Still, no matter whether we spoil or abuse our…

How to Come to the Knowledge of the Truth—Or Not (Sat., Feb. 27)

The word of the day is “truth.”  In matters of faith more than any other, the truth is of utmost importance.  But how do we arrive at the truth?  Some think that they can achieve truth by constant study.  In our reading of 2 Timothy 3:1-9, the apostle teaches that those who rely on human inquiry are deluded and subject to delusion.  He observes that they are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (vs. 7).  If we do a “close reading” of this verse, we can find suggestions about avoiding endless and fruitless pursuits of learning about the spiritual.  At the same time, we can discover how to reach the truth of the…

The New Commandment of Radical Love (Fri., Feb. 26)

The word of the day is “commandment.”  “Love your neighbor!” It’s an age-old commandment, repeated so often it seems almost like an old and worn-out platitude.  But in today’s reading of 1 John 2:7-17, the apostle appears to contradict himself by saying that the command to love one another is new. He writes, “I am writing you no new commandment but an old commandment that you had from the beginning… Yet I am writing you a new commandment that is in Him [Christ] and you…” vs. 8).  Today we talk about what makes the commandment to “love one another” radically new. The “Old” Commandment “From the beginning,” John says that the faithful have already heard the “word” of the old…

To Know Christ Is to Walk in His Steps (Thurs. Feb. 25)

The word of the day is “know.”  Do we “know Christ?”  Consider what is at stake in this question.  The Lord said, “And this is eternal life that they may know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).  In our reading of 1 John 1:8-2:6, John proposes a test to answer this ultimate question.  The apostle writes, “By this, we know that we know him [Jesus Christ], if we keep his commandments (vs. 3).  We can worship, pray, fast, read the Scriptures, give offerings, and do many other acts of piety, and still not “know” Christ.  Our reading teaches that the way to know Christ is to “walk just as He walked” (vs.…