“For we are not, as so many, peddling
the word of God; but as of sincerity,
but as from God, we speak in the
sight of God in Christ.”
– 2 Corinthians 2:17 –
It is an unfortunate truth that not all who preach and teach the gospel message do so with integrity. In fact, Paul declared there to be many “…peddling the word of God…”, whom he labeled as “…deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13). With some in Corinth casting doubt on the apostle’s legitimacy, he affirmed that he was not among the gospel peddlers. Let us consider Paul’s conduct with the word of God as evident through three characteristics he makes mention of.
Matthew is the first and longest of the four gospel accounts. The author was Jewish by birth and called to be an apostle of Christ (Matthew 10:1-4). His Greek name is Matthew, his Hebrew name is Levi. Matthew worked as a tax collector for the Roman government among his own people until Jesus called him to be a disciple (Matthew 9:9).
In the gospels we see Jesus inviting those who would become His apostles to “follow” Him. In John 1:40, John the Baptist pointed Andrew and another disciple to Jesus who bid them to “Come and see,” and so they followed Him and stayed the entire day with Him. On the next day, the Lord called Philip to “follow Me” (John 1:43), which he did, also bringing his friend Nathanael to the Lord. In Matthew 4:19, Jesus approached four fishermen (Peter, Andrew, James, and John) and called them to follow Him, that they should become fishers of men. And in Matthew 9:9, Matthew heard Jesus call out “Follow Me,” which he did, leaving his tax office behind.
The book of Malachi closes out the Old Testament. The prophet’s name is mentioned in 1:1, but nowhere else in the Bible. His name is descriptive and quite appropriate for his message. Malachi means “my messenger.” He focused on the duties and failings of the Levitical priests of his day, whom he described as “the messenger of the LORD of hosts” (2:7). In 3:1, Malachi foretold the coming of John the Baptist, identified as “My messenger” who “will prepare the way before Me” (cf. Mark 1:1-4). And then in the latter portion of 3:1, Malachi spoke of Jesus as “…the Lord, whom you seek … even the Messenger of the covenant…”
For the past 14+ months, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it a lot of restrictions and constraints. For a good part of that time, we in Ontario have been under lockdowns, shutdowns, or stay-at-home orders. When the CDC and other drug regulatory agencies across the globe began to give the green flag for vaccines from various pharmaceutical companies, there was an understandable prospect of hope, the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel.” At the same time, there has been skepticism and uncertainty about the safety of the vaccines, given the speed with which they were developed or the efficacy they will have on the virus variants. And then for some, there is a concern that it is not just a vaccine, but could it be the mark of the beast?
Zechariah was the son of Berechiah and grandson of Iddo, who himself was a prophet (Zechariah 1:1). He was a priest who went to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel (Nehemiah 12:1, 4, 16) at the end of the Babylonian captivity. He and Haggai were contemporaries and worked together to urge the people to rebuild the temple of God in Jerusalem (Ezra 5:1; 6:14). The message he bore to the people from God was, “Return to Me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you” (Zechariah 1:3). Evidence of their return would be the rebuilt temple (4:6-10) and their ongoing obedience to the Lord (7:4-7).
Exactly two months two months from today, the 2021 Summer Olympic games are set to begin in Tokyo, Japan. I don’t know about you, but I am excited to watch the best athletes from across the world participate in a wide variety of sports and athletic disciplines. The agility and ability of the men and women who will compete will be wonderful to see.
Olympians train for years to be at their absolute peek when the games begin. Their devotion to both physical and mental conditioning is exemplary. They are fixated with achieving the pinnacle of their respective sports. Few actually make it to the top, and those who do have a host of hungry competitors ready to defeat them.
When the Jews were carried away captive to Babylon it occurred in three phases. Likewise, they left their place of bondage in three stages. In 538 B.C., Darius, the Persian king, issued a decree for the Jews to go back to their homeland—to Judah. The first returnees were led by Zerubbabel (536 BC), the second by Ezra (458 BC), and the third by Nehemiah (444 BC). Haggai was in the first group. He began to prophesy 16 years later, during the second year of King Darius (1:1) in 520 BC.
by Keith Sharp
In February 1992, while I was in Nigeria, the late brother Joseph Onyemaechi took me far out into the bush near Aba to preach on Sunday evening to a new congregation he had started. We were honored with the presence of several village dignitaries. When I was through preaching, the chief spoke for the villagers. He welcomed me and the new, little church. He acknowledged I had spoken the truth. Then he observed, “We will watch the people you convert. If they live good lives, you will convert many from our village. If not, you will not.” The chief was both wise and a fine judge of human nature.
In Matthew 5:13-16, the Master teaches us our responsibility to the world. We are salt and light. By successfully so acting, we will lead the world to glorify God. How can we
effectively be salt and light for Christ?
Zephaniah prophesied “in the days of Josiah” (1:1), between 641-610 BC. Not only was Zephaniah of the tribe of Judah, but his ancestry was of royal blood. His great-great-grandfather was king Hezekiah (727-698 BC).
Zephaniah warned, “the great day of the LORD is near,” a day of noise and wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of trumpet and alarm (1:14-16).