Sunday Morning Word

Does God Need My Help?

Has God ever made you a promise that you were anxious to see fulfilled? Maybe He told you that you were to start your own ministry, that you would pastor over thousands. Maybe He promised you a future spouse with whom you would do many great works for the kingdom of heaven. Maybe He promised you that child for which you’ve been praying for years now.

After a while, did it ever seem like God was being too slow in bringing those promises to fruition? You wondered, Did He forget? Can He still do it? You prayed and asked for an update, but an answer never came. You felt like you wasted enough time already, so after waiting impatiently for God to do what seemed to amount to nothing, you decided to take matters into your own hands, do things the way you believed God should have done it. You gathered together a handful of members from your home church, without your pastor’s permission, and told them to leave and join your ministry. You married that person you met online even though you knew he or she was not the one and not even saved. You attempted to get pregnant through artificial insemination, stepping outside of your marriage, or as a last resort, you adopted.

How did those plans work out for you? Did you still receive God’s promise after doing things your way, or did you make a mess of it all? Your church never grew, your marriage fell apart, you strained your family so much going through all those processes to have a baby that the child you do have is not loved. Would things have been different if you had only waited on God?

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” Acts 17:24-25 (NIV)

We’ve got to get out of the habit of thinking that God needs our help. He is God! Everything He needs is already within Himself to do. For crying out loud, He created the universe with one simple phrase— “Let there be . . . ” and there was, and it was good! What on earth could we possibly do to help? God says to Job in Job 38:4, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” Where were we when God created heaven and earth? Where were we when He made land and sea? Where were we when He separated day from night? And did we happen to be present when He first breathed life into man’s lungs? No, not even close!

In fact, according to Acts 17:26, God has already marked out the appointed times when we will occupy the earth. So, if God created heaven and earth, if He gave us life and everything we’ll ever need to live this life, if He has already mapped out when we come and when we go and knows all that we’ll do within that short time span, why do we think we need to insert our own agendas into the things He has planned for us? We should get out of God’s way!

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8

Abram and Sarai thought God needed their help. God had made them a promise that was unbelievable, and truth be told, God will say some things to you that sound absolutely crazy in your own understanding and impossible to ever accomplish. But remember what Jesus said; “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”  (Matthew 19:26). When Abram tells God his only heir will be his servant because he has no children, God says to him, “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir . . . Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them . . . So shall your offspring be” (Genesis 15:3-5)

And Abram believed him, at least for a little while, but as time went on, doubt must have crept in, and he started to question if God could really do it. Abram was nearly 100 years old, his wife well beyond child bearing age. How could they possibly have a child in their old age? So they went down to Egypt, picked up a slave girl named Hagar, Sarai instructed Abram to sleep with her, and she bore him Ishmael. But when God comes to Abram again to make his covenant and change his name to Abraham, for he is to be “a father of many nations,” He again tells Abraham that he will have a son with Sarah, that He will not establish His covenant with Ishmael, but with the son Sarah will have in the next year, Isaac (Genesis 17:15-22).

Despite their stepping outside of God’s will, taking matters into their own hands, despite trying to pull in God’s promise the only way they knew how, which only created problems (Genesis 16:3-6), God still tells them the same thing He said before, that Abraham and Sarah will have a child. “Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son” (Genesis 18:14). Remember, if God created the entire universe, is giving a 100-year-old man and 90-year-old woman a baby really that hard for Him? Jeremiah 32:17 says, “Ah Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” There is nothing too hard for God. He’s sovereign, all-powerful, and He needs no one’s help but His own. And sure enough, a year later, Sarah had a baby.

“Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God has promised him.” Genesis 21:1-2

God’s promise is coming. Hebrews 10:36 tells us we need only patience. It also tells us to do God’s will. Have you done the will of God? And if He told you to do nothing, then listen and stay out of His way, don’t attempt to help Him out, simply wait on God to do what he’s promised. Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” The following verse says, “The Lord works out everything to its proper end.” The moment you accept that God created heaven and earth by Himself, that He made all things by Himself, that He turned an old man into the father of a people as numerous as the stars by Himself, then you will begin to accept that He can fulfill His promise to you by Himself, without your help.

So does God need our help? The short answer: No. We need only to keep our faith, continue to trust in Him to do what He said he will do. Sit still and let God be God.

God Bless.

“Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who at of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: ‘I have made you a father of many nations.’ He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.” Romans 4:16-17

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive us for ever doubting your ability to fulfill what you have promised, for your are able to do exceedingly abundantly above all the we could ever ask, think, or imagine. Help us to remember the great things that you have already done so that we may strengthen our faith in what is yet to come. You redeemed us from sin and death. You came down from heaven to die on the cross and rise so that we could be saved if we just believe. If we believed you then, we must believe you now, for there is nothing too hard for you, there is nothing you cannot do. So we relinquish everything into your hands, knowing that your plans are far higher and greater than anything we can think, and that they always come together for our good. We thank you for all that you have done, and all that you will do. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

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Sunday Morning Word

Are You Waiting to Get to Heaven to Praise the Lord?

There’s a popular gospel song that says, “Praise Him! Praise Him in the morning. Praise Him! Praise Him in the noonday. Praise Him! Even in the midnight hour. Praise Him! All night long!” It’s a catchy song, but do we truly mean what we sing? Do we praise God throughout the day and all night? Do we wake up thanking Him for His mercies? Do we bless His name when we have enough money to pay our rent and car note for the month? Most importantly, when we’re going through hard times, do will continue to worship Him and put our trust in Him?

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NKJV

Are you one who often says, “When I get to heaven, I’m going to—“? Stop, and ask yourself why can’t you do it now. As the saying goes, if you’re not going to do it now, you won’t do it then. Yes, Revelation 4 gives us a glimpse into what it would be like to be at God’s throne, worshiping Him day any night, and Revelation 21 and 22 shows us the new heaven and new earth, where we will serve and worship God forever, and He will dwell among us, His people, and He our God. It’s a wonderful thing to look forward to, but don’t you know you can have that now?

Jesus said in John 4:23, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” The time is here now for you to worship God from your inner being, with your whole heart. He’s seeking you now, not after you get to heaven. Psalm 150:6 says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” While you’re still alive and breathing His air, you should praise Him.

“For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.” Hebrews 13:14-15; NLT

We have no excuse for why we don’t praise God, and I include myself in this lecture because I know I don’t praise Him enough, or as often as I should. So let’s look at why we ought to praise Him, because maybe one of the problems for our lack of praise is that we just don’t know, or we’ve conveniently forgotten, we’ve been too wrapped up in ourselves. Well, after today, my hope is that we would all be wrapped up in God. There are many reasons for why we should praise God now, but for the sake of brevity, I will give you three based on some of my favorite psalms.

Praise Him for Who His Is

“For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.” Psalm 95:3-5; NIV

Simply put, praise God because He is God. 1 Chronicles 16:29 (also in Psalm 96:8) says, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” Praise God because He deserves it. He is worthy of all the glory, honor, and praise.

God is great. Another song says, “I searched all over; couldn’t find nobody/I looked high and low; still couldn’t find nobody/Nobody greater, nobody greater, nobody greater than You.” There is no one greater than our God. Psalm 145:3 says, “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.” Isaiah 40:13 says, “Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor?” God’s greatness, His wisdom, His power is unfathomable, it’s beyond measure, it’s beyond our comprehension.

All things are possible with God; there is nothing He can’t do. Jesus says in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Psalm 96:5 says, “For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.” Psalm 95:6 says, “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” No one but God can say He created the heavens and the earth. No one but God can say He drew man from His own image and breathed the breath of life into his lungs. No one by God can say that all things were created by Him and for Him. Psalm 24:1 says the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. Psalm 148 calls on all of creation to praise Him.

So praise God because He is God, the only true living God. Praise Him because He is great and worthy of the praise. Praise Him because He is the Creator of all things, including you.

Praise Him for His Love

“Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord.” Psalm 117:1-2

Don’t you know that God loves you? In fact, according to 1 John 4:8, God is love. Love can’t even exist outside of God. He says in Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Psalm 136 tells us over and over why we should praise and continuously give thanks to God: Because His love endures forever, and He would do anything for His people whom He loves.

Isn’t that truly a blessing, that God’s love for us endures forever, that it is everlasting, steadfast and unchanging? Another song says, “You love me through my good and my bad.” Certain translations of the Bible also calls God’s love “unfailing.” God’s love will never fail us, it will never hurt us, it will never let us down, it will never leave us feeling “high and dry.”

And we know all too well the fickleness of human love, how it is typically based on happiness, what one can do for the other; how we can tell someone we love them, yet still hurt them, or leave them when they hurt us. But God’s love doesn’t have any requirements. He loves us already, He loved us before the foundation of the world, and He will never stop loving us, no matter what we do. Think of His love as a parent’s love to his or her child, but infinitely greater. God loves us despite our flaws, all the mistakes we may have made or will make in our past, present, and future. As my Pastor often says, “He loves us through our good, bad, and our ugly.” And why wouldn’t God love His own creation (Psalm 104:31)?

John 3:16 gives us the greatest example of God’s love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” No greater love, Jesus calls it, than someone who is willing to lay down his life (John 15:13). Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Remember what we said earlier, that there was nothing too hard for God, that God would do anything for the people whom He loves. God came down to earth as a man, took our place on the cross to die for our sins, and then conquered death three days later by rising from the dead, so that any and all who believe in Him and in His unfailing, unchanging, unending love, would live forever.

And with that, I am sealed. You don’t have to tell me anything else. For His love alone, I will praise Him for the rest of my days!

Praise Him for Where He’s Brought You From

“Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:2-5

Lastly, we should praise God for what He’s done in our lives. He’s forgiven us our sins. Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” He says in Jeremiah 34:31, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God has wiped the slate clean. Paul writes in Ephesians 5:25-27 that Christ gave himself up for us to make us holy, cleansing us through the word, to present us as radiant, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Now, we can come to God freely. Romans 5:1 says now we have peace with God. 1 John 1:9 says He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and 1 Peter 2:9 says that God has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. No longer are we slaves to sin and death, but we are slaves to the righteousness of God, which promises us life.

In forgiving us of our sins, God has also redeemed us from death. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We were all on that path toward death and destruction, and whether or not we think one sin is greater than another, it is all sin to God. But thank God for Jesus Christ, who laid down His life for every one of our sins and took it up again so that we too may live. Jesus says in John 10:28-29, “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” We have been brought back from the pits of death and now we have double security, through Jesus Christ and God our Father, and no one, absolutely no one, has the power to snatch us out of their hands and return us to that darkness we were saved from. Jesus tells us rejoice that our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).

A praise shout, made popular by Kirk Franklin says, “When I think about His goodness/ And what He’s done for me/When I think about His goodness/And how He’s set me free/I want to dance, dance, dance, dance, all night!” Have you danced for, shouted for, praised Jesus for where He’s brought you from? Isaiah 53:5 says, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” Psalm 30:11 says “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.” Psalm 23:3 says He restores our souls. All these things we should praise Him for— forgiveness, salvation, healing, a purpose for our being here (Ephesians 1:4-6).He didn’t have to do any of it, but as we’ve learned in the previous point, He did it because He loves us.

In closing, we can take all these reasons for praising God and combine them into one final conclusion. God, who is the one and only, true and living, great and mighty God, who created all things, loved us, His own creation, so much that He went above and beyond— coming down to earth as a man, living, performing miracles, dying, rising again—to reconcile His people to Himself, forgiving them, cleansing them, giving them eternal life. For that, we should praise Him always!

God Bless.

“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise.” Psalm 96:1-4; NIV

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you and we praise you for your goodness and mercy which follow us all the days of our lives. Lord, we know you are the one true God, the maker of heaven and earth. And you made us. You are the Great Shepherd, who laid down His life for His sheep, and we are yours, your people, the sheep of your pasture. You are great, Lord, and most worthy of all our praise and adoration. We will proclaim your love in the morning, and your faithfulness at night. We will give thanks and praise to your holy name, for you are good, your love endures forever, your faithfulness continues through all generations. You will never leave or forsake us, but you have redeemed us, healed us, forgiven us, saved us, and we thank you and praise you always. In Christ Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Sunday Morning Word

Will You Submit to God?

What is submission, and how do we submit? Over the years, the word “submit” has inherited a negative connotation; no one wants to submit to those in authority anymore. Wives refuse to submit to their husbands, children refuse to submit to their parents, citizens refuse to submit to governing authorities, and no one is submitting to God.

We tend to think that submission means that we are giving up the power and control to make our own decisions, that we lose our independence, the ability to use our own free will. But submission doesn’t mean that you accept a dictator over your life, who commands your every movement.

I think the best and most precise definition for the word “submit” comes from the Macmillan Dictionary, which states that to submit means “to agree to obey a rule, a law, or the decision of someone in authority.” I like the use of the terms “agreement” and “authority” in this definition, because I think they go hand in hand when it comes to submission.

Authority means that someone has been given power and permission to make final decisions, and agreement involves two consenting parties. Therefore, when we submit, we agree or consent, to giving authority or permission and power to someone for making a final decision over certain matters. In my church, we are taught nine spiritual principles by which we should live. When we let these spiritual principles govern us, we will live successful, abundant, and satisfying lives, not operating from crisis to crisis, desperate for God to work a miracle every other week. Of these nine spiritual principles are the spiritual principle of authority, which is God’s plan to protect our lives, and the spiritual principle of agreement, which is God’s plan to crown our lives with peace. So let’s look at examples in the Bible of how these two principles work together, particularly when we submit to God.

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17; NIV

Going back to the very beginning, when God created man and put him in the Garden of Eden, He commanded that man could get from every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. By obeying this command, Adam had submitted to God. He was under the authority of God; he had God’s protection from death— as long as he did not eat of the tree, he would not die—and he also had God’s protection from sin, for the Bible says, “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:25). Because he was in agreement with what God had commanded, Adam also had peace with God, who often came to fellowship with him in the Garden (Genesis 3:8-9).

Unfortunately the serpent slithered along with his cunning and trickery to get Adam and Eve from under submission to God. If we take a moment to look back at Genesis 2:16-17, we see that God gave the command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to Adam, not Eve. Adam was to relay that information down to his wife. Eve was under the authority of Adam, and Adam was under the authority of God (1 Corinthians 11:3; Colossians 3:18). The serpent disrupted this by going to Eve, who received the command second-hand, and questioning God’s authority (Genesis 3:1-3). He tricked her into thinking that the fruit would make her be like God (Genesis 3:4-5), and she took it, coming out from under the authority of her husband, and gave it to Adam, who was with her, and he came out from under the authority of God. And because they disobeyed God, they were cursed—they lost peace with God, for God is holy and cannot be touched with their sin (Leviticus 19:2; Isaiah 59:2; James 1:13)—and they were cast out of the Garden of Eden, not permitted to eat from the tree of life and live forever—they lost God’s protection, for the punishment of sin was death (Romans 6:23).

From this example, we know that catastrophic things can happen when we don’t submit to the authority of God, but thank God for Jesus Christ, who restored to us both power and authority over that pesky serpent, and reconciliation with God, which Adam and Eve lost in the Garden (Luke 10:19-20).

Another example of submitting to the authority of God, and indirectly to human authority, comes in 1 Samuel 24.

Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.” With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way. 1 Samuel 24:5-7

In 1 Samuel 24, King Saul of Israel was pursuing to kill David, who had been anointed by the prophet Samuel to be Israel’s next king. You see, God had rejected Saul as king of Israel for his disobedience (1 Samuel 15). This is another example of what happens when we don’t submit to the authority of God. Instead of completely destroying the wicked Amalekites as God had commanded—killing man, woman, child, and livestock— Saul and his soldiers pounced on the plunder, and for that, Saul lost the favor of God. He had came out from under God’s authority, was no longer in agreement with His commands, and lost peace—Saul was in constant conflict with the neighboring kingdoms, especially the Philistines—and protection—eventually dying in battle.

But in this particular passage, David had the opportunity to kill Saul and become king. Instead, he cut off a corner of Saul’s robe, and immediately felt guilty for it, remembering God’s command not to blaspheme Him or “curse the ruler of your people” (Exodus 22:28). Another verse of scripture says, “Do not touch my anointed ones” (Psalm 105:15). Last week, we learned that God is sovereign; He is always in control. He has the authority to raise up kings and bring them down (Daniel 2:21).  Instead of acting on his own accord, as Saul did, which resulted in him losing the kingdom, and as Adam and Eve did, which resulted in them being kicked out of the Garden of Eden and losing eternal life, David recognized both Saul’s authority given by God, and God’s authority—that He had the power to remove Saul Himself, and anything David would do would equal his disobedience and would require catastrophic consequences. So twice David was given the opportunity to kill Saul, and twice David spared his life. And for his obedience and submission to God, he was given the kingdom, and it was established firmly through his line of succession (2 Samuel 7:16).

So what can we learn from these two examples? That submission doesn’t necessarily mean relinquishing all control and free will, but that it does mean recognizing the authority of a higher power. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (NKJV). Sometimes we are not going to understand everything that God tells us to do. We are not going to understand why he allows certain people to come to power. But we do know that “all things work together for the good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose”  (Romans 8:28).

So instead of deciding for ourselves that we are going to do what we want to do, and having to face the possible disastrous consequences, why not just trust in God and see how His plans for us unfold? It doesn’t matter who we are or how high up on the authority scale we rise, we are always submitting to someone, whether it’s a parent, or boss, or ministry leader, etc. But imagine the rewards you will receive if you only submit to God. Adam and Eve had eternal life. David’s throne was established forever, and through his line came Jesus Christ, whose death on the cross and resurrection three days later returned to us eternal life with God forever (John 17:3). There’s no greater reward than that. So will you submit to Him?

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

Prayer: Heavenly Father, teach us to revere you, to respect your authority, to come into agreement with you and submit to your will. Not our will, but yours be done. You said in your word that if we love you, we will keep your commands. Lord, we love you, and we have an urgency to heed your call and follow your commands, for we know that our rewards here on earth and in heaven will be great. Lead and guide us by your Holy Spirit to continue to do what is just, what is righteous, what is pleasing in your sight. We give you all the glory and honor and praise. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

Originally published June 18, 2017

Sunday Morning Word

Are You Keeping Others from Entering the Kingdom of Heaven?

Two of the most common complaints sinners have against Christians, or “church folk” as they like to call us, are that (1) we are too judgmental and (2) we are nothing but hypocrites. These are two of the worst things a Christian could be called, especially since Jesus condemned the Pharisees and Jewish leaders of His day for these exact practices. Can anyone say these things about you? Have you wrongfully passed judgment on someone? Do you often fail at practicing what you preach? What can you do to change this so that you never prevent someone from entering the kingdom?

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” Matthew 23:13; NIV

It should be every Christian’s goal to see more people saved. One of the last commands Jesus gave before ascending into heaven was for us to make disciples of the nations (Matthew 28:19). In Acts 1:8 He says, “And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

One of the biggest problems in church today is that people have gotten complacent in their salvation. We think that once we’re saved, that’s it. We focus more on ourselves than we do others. That’s not to say that it’s a bad thing to want to better yourself in Christ, but you should be equally as passionate for the spiritual maturity of your brothers and sisters. The Bible says we are all members of one body, the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12), and we should want to see that body expand.

To see the body of Christ expand, we’ve got to stop being that blockage that keeps people from entering the kingdom. That starts with our actions. As I said earlier, we are criticized the most for being judgmental and hypocritical. So let’s first look at how we are judging others.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2

So often we are quick to condemn others for the mistakes they make while at the same time we preach about our own righteousness as if we’ve never messed up. But remember in John 8, when the Jews tried to stone the woman caught in adultery, Jesus said, “If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). Not a single person in that crowd could say they never sinned (1 John 1:8). One by one they left, until only Jesus remained.

None of us is perfect. There’s a popular saying that goes, “When you point your finger, three others are pointing back at you.” Romans 2:1 says when you judge, you only condemn yourself because you do the same things. Romans 3:10 says “There is no one righteous, not even one.” Later in that same chapter, Paul writes, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (v. 23). But it is our faith in Jesus Christ that redeems us. So who are we to decide who gets that opportunity or not?

When all the people who sought to condemn the woman had gone, Jesus asked the woman has no one condemn her. She responded no one, and Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11). Only God can judge, and He gives everyone, everyone, the opportunity to repent of their sins, turn to Christ and be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9). So unless we want God to remember all the bad things we’ve done (Hebrews 8:12), unless we think we can handle not being forgiven our sins (Matthew 6:14-15; Luke 6:37), let’s not keep others from the promise of salvation by making them think their sins are too great.

“The teachers if the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on mean’s shoulders, by they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” Matthew 23:2-4

Being judgmental and hypocritical go hand in hand, because the worst thing we can do is unfairly judge someone for something we ourselves have done or are doing. One of the biggest criticisms of Christianity today is that so-called “saints” behave one way in church on Sunday, but by Monday morning, they are completely different people. They’re cursing out their co-workers, they’re impatient with others, they’re rude, they hardly speak or smile; or worse, they’re drinking, going clubbing, sleeping around—all the things they tell “sinners” not to do.

Our lives are always on display. There is always someone watching, and people are quicker to point out the bad than the good. Don’t give the naysayers a reason to talk bad about you and your faith, leading others astray. 1 Peter 2:12 says, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” Our actions can either draw people closer to Christ or give them the perfect excuse to stay in their unbelief. But when they see us praising and worshipping God, when they see us pursuing holiness, when they see the good fruit we produce (joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) because we’ve remained in Christ and His words in us (Galatians 5:22-23; John 15:7-8), when they see all the good things happening in our lives because of our obedience to God, they’ll want to know a reason for the hope we have, and then it is our time to witness (1 Peter 3:15); then it is our time to show them the way, which is Christ; then it is our time to expand the body.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” Matthew 5:14-15

Some people might not like the idea of their actions being scrutinized, but we as Christians should welcome it. Jesus calls us the light of the world. He doesn’t want us to douse that light, to hide our faith as if we are ashamed (Luke 9:26), but to let our light shine for the whole world to see, so the whole world will wonder why we choose to pick up our cross and follow Jesus in faith (Matthew 16:24-26) no matter what comes our way, it’ll wonder what there is to gain by doing such a thing, and maybe it’ll seek to obtain that promise too.

We have to be light, the examples of Christ here on this earth (1 Corinthians 11:1). Jesus says, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). So shine on. Don’t be a hypocrite, don’t be judgmental, but continue to share the gospel of Jesus Christ in truth and love so that others will come to know and understand the hope we hold on to so dear.

God Bless.

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:1-2

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive us for standing in the way of others coming to know you as their Lord and Savior. Forgive us for letting our pride block the work you are doing in their hearts. You said in your word that blessed are the humble, for they shall inherit the whole earth. You said that unless we humble ourselves like one of these little children, we will never enter the kingdom of heaven. We need to be humbled, so we remember that this life isn’t about us and our own righteousness, but it is about you, bringing glory and honor to you, and seeing souls saved. So we revitalize our motivation to do your will, to reap your harvest, to welcome all who wish to enter your kingdom as if we are welcoming you. And we continue to praise you and bless you and thank you for the work you continue to do in our lives and in the lives of others, all for our good. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Sunday Morning Word

Where is My Miracle?

Has God made you a promise? A new job? A God-fearing spouse? A child in your old age? Healing from disease? Are you still waiting for that promise years later? Has doubt begun to creep into your mind that your miracle from God will never come? Everyone else has gotten theirs, but you are still waiting. You wonder, where is your miracle; do miracles even exist anymore since the days of the apostles?

Yes, they do, but as always, when it comes to receiving anything from God, there’s a part we must play first. Unfortunately, most of us tend to sit idly by, expecting God to do all of the work. That idle waiting stops today. God has certain requirements of us, so if you’re still waiting on your miracle, ask yourself these four questions:

Am I Praying?

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7; NIV

My pastor teaches that God will not do anything in the earth realm unless someone prays it in. He’s limited Himself by His word, and His word gives us (mankind) dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:26-28). So if you’re still waiting on your miracle, ask yourself, Have I prayed it in? The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We can’t afford not to pray. There are so many things that we cannot do in our own human ability, but God can because He is all-powerful.

Let’s look at Hurricane Irma for example. Irma was originally forecasted to hit the east coast of Florida, reemerge in the Atlantic ocean, regain strength, and make landfall somewhere in the Carolinas, on a collision course straight for my hometown. Both North and South Carolina declared states-of-emergency. Charleston, SC was under a mandatory evacuation, and the central piedmont region of North Carolina was preparing for the worst it’s ever seen. This weekend was our quarterly prayer revival and fast at my church. Thursday night the church came together and prayed that God would move the storm, and wouldn’t you know Friday morning when I turned on the weather channel, Irma’s track had significantly shifted west! Not only will it miss our city altogether, but North and South Carolina might actually be in the clear, apart from a little rain and wind. The power of prayer!

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Begin praying to God for your miracle. Just before performing one of His greatest miracles, raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus prayed, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me” (John 11:41-42). How do we know that God hears our prayers? By 1 John 5:14, which says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” Jesus says in John 15:7, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Continue to walk in God’s word. Pray according to His will and according to His word. God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should change His mind (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29). If He said it, He will do it. Believe that He will.

Jesus says in Mark 11:24, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” God has already made you the promise; believe in His word and continue to pray for it. As 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, pray without ceasing. Like Jacob, who wrestled with God and said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Genesis 32:26), don’t give up in your praying. Just as in the parable of the persistent widow, who received justice from the judge because she would not stop coming to him with her plea, “will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly” (Luke 18:7-8). Jesus teaches us to never stop praying. God says “Call to me and I will answer you” (Jeremiah 33:3). So call on God for that miracle.

Am I Doing the Will of God?

“For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” Hebrews 10:36; NKJV

As I’ve said before, in order to receive that miracle from God, there’s something we must do first. Of course, we must pray, but we also have to do what God says. You can’t expect God to reward you if you haven’t been obedient to His word. Looking over the various miracles Jesus performed during His earthly ministry, you’ll find that the people who received the blessing had to do something first before anything could happen. When Jesus performed His first miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding, His mother, Mary, tells the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it” (John 2:5). What are you doing to ensure your miracle comes to fruition, and is it aligned with the will and word and instruction of God?

Sometimes God will tell us to do something that doesn’t make sense to us. I’m sure the servants at the wedding were confused when Jesus told them to fill the jars with water and take it to the headwaiter (John 2:6-8), knowing they needed wine. Just as Martha, the sister of Lazarus, was confused when Jesus told the people to roll back the stone from Lazarus’ tomb, saying, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days” (John 11:39). And what was going through the blind man’s mind when Jesus spat on the ground, made clay with his saliva, and put it over the man’s eyes, telling him to go wash in the pool of Siloam (John 9:6-7)? And then the man at the pool of Bethesda, who’d been sick 38 years. Did he really think it was possible to simply stand, pick up his mat, and walk again (John 5:8)?

One thing all these miracles have in common is that despite not fully understanding, the people still did exactly what the Lord commanded them to do. Remember Proverbs 3:5-6, which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” These people trusted the Lord’s word, beyond their own comprehension. The servants filled the water jars and gave some to the headwaiter, and he tasted the best wine he’d ever drunk (John 2:8-10). The Jews rolled back the stone, and Jesus called Lazarus to come forth, and he came forth, alive and well (John 11:41-44). The blind man went and washed, and came back seeing (John 9:7,11). The sick man at the pool of Bethesda rose, picked up his mat, and walked; instantly he was healed (John 5:9)! So ask yourself, after you’ve prayed for your miracle, have you done what God told you to do?

Am I Limiting God’s Power with My Doubt?

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'” Matthew 19:26; NIV

Don’t you know we serve an all-powerful, all-mighty God? Jeremiah says, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you” (Jeremiah 32:17). Later in that same scripture, God responds saying, “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”  (Jeremiah 32:27). Treat that as a rhetorical question, for we already know the answer—no, there is nothing too hard for God.

And yet, when we’ve waited and waited for our miracle, we begin to lose hope that God can even do it. We say things like, “Just because He did it for the children of Israel, that doesn’t mean He can do it for me,” or “That was back in Bible days, things are different now.” But God is the same God he was in the Old Testament, the New Testament; He’s the same God today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). If God can create the heavens and the earth; if He can make mankind and all the animals that walk upon the earth; if He can created the seas, the sky, the wind; if everything that has ever lived, breathed, moved, was created by God; as written in Colossians 1:16, if all things were created by Him and for Him, then why is it so hard for us to believe that He can work that miracle for our good?

James 1:6-8 warns us of double-mindedness. When we ask (i.e. pray) for our miracle, we must believe that we have already received it, as Mark 11:24 says. We can’t allow doubt to creep in, because according to James 1:6, “the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” Because of that doubt, we are not stable in our faith or in anything we do for God, and we shouldn’t expect any kind of reward from God.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all we could ever ask, think or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20). That power within us comes from our faith in Him and His Holy Spirit. Believing that He is able. Hebrews 10:38 says, “The just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him” (NKJV). Don’t draw back on your faith in God. He said that He would do it; believe that He can and that He will. Like the centurion solider, who needed only the word of Jesus for his servant to be healed (Matthew 8:8). Like the woman with the issue of blood for 12 years, who reached out to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment and was instantly healed (Mark 5:25-34). Have faith that Jesus will heal you, that Jesus will deliver you, that Jesus will make a way for you. Let your faith in Him bring your miracle. He says in Matthew 17:20 that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains; nothing will be impossible. So hold on to that faith in your praying, knowing that the power of God will be made manifest, do what He tells you to do, and lastly . . .

Am I Being Patient?

 “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31; KJV

The hardest part about receiving your miracle . . . is the waiting. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.” Habakkuk 2:3 says, in reference to what’s still to come, “If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed” (NLT). Patience is not in our nature, but with God, we have to learn to be patient. Everything is set for a given time. Remember, God already knows what’s going to happen before it happens, and when it should happen in order to accomplish a specific purpose, which ultimately is to bring glory and honor back to Him, so that only God gets the recognition for the miracle He’s worked and that there’s no confusion as to “who” did it.

Abraham had to wait 100 years and Sarah 90 years before they had their son, Isaac. The children of Israel were enslaved in Egypt 400 years, and wandered in the wilderness another 40 years before finally entering the land God had promised their ancestors. The world had to wait 42 generations for the coming of the Messiah, the Savior, Jesus Christ, and now again, we are waiting for His return, to be taken back with Him into heaven. Everything about this Christian life, relying on God, involves waiting.

“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

Looking back at Hebrews 10:36, the writer says, “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” That word endurance  means patience. After you’ve done all that you need to do, after you’ve prayed persistently, after you’ve obeyed God’s instruction, after you’ve cast out all doubt and kept the faith, now it is time to be patient. “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay” (Hebrews 10:37; NIV). He who will bring you that miracle will bring it just at the right time.

However, waiting doesn’t involve idly sitting by, twiddling your thumbs. Endurance also means to continue in doing something, even if it’s hard. There’s a song we often sing in church during praise and worship that says, “While you’re waiting on your miracle, give Him the highest praise!” While you are waiting on your miracle, don’t sit around asking yourself, “Why hasn’t God blessed me yet?” Get up! Continue to praise and worship Him for who He is, for what He’s already done in your life. Psalm 77:10-12 says, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” Remember what He’s done for you. Meditate on those good things, and believe that He will do it again. Don’t stop praying, but be persistent in your prayers. Obey what God has commanded you, and walk in His word. Do all of this while you are still waiting, and see if your miracle isn’t just around the corner.

God Bless.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9; NIV

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we ask that you work miracles in our lives. Forgive us for doubting your ability to do what you said you would do. We know that you can do all things, and no purpose of yours can be thwarted. We know that your word will never return to you void but will accomplish what you sent it to do. We know that with you all things are possible. Forgive us for shrinking away in our faith. We believe that you are able, Lord, beyond our own understanding. We put our trust and hope in you. Help us to be patient, Lord. Help us to continue to walk by faith, doing the good works you’ve commanded us, and being persistent in our prayers, knowing that the good things you’ve promised us are soon to come. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Sunday Morning Word

Is the Old Testament Still Relevant?

“Oh, that was in the Old Testament, that doesn’t count.” “Oh, that only applied to the Jews in the Old Testament, we’re under a new covenant now.”

How often have we heard phrases like the above spoken whenever someone refers to the Old Testament to make a point or bring correction? I usually hear it in response to anyone trying to quote Leviticus. No one wants to be reminded of the old Law, and all the sins we’ve committed in accordance with it—like working on the Sabbath or eating pork—especially since we’re under the new covenant of grace now, and all our sins are washed away through the blood of Jesus.

But does that mean the Old Testament isn’t important anymore? Hebrews 8:13 says, “By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.” Romans tells us that we died to the law and to sin, but are made alive to God through Christ so that we are released from the Law to “serve in the new way of the Spirit and not the old way of the written code” (Romans 6:11; 7:4-6).

Yes, when Jesus died on the cross, He bore the sins of the world. When He rose from the grave, He brought us new life, eternal life to anyone who believed. He did away with the endless cycle of sacrificing bulls and goats, of constantly being reminded of our sins and our need to be cleansed, of the looming curse of condemnation and death as a result of our trespasses. Because of Jesus, we can come boldly before the throne of grace and obtain mercy (Hebrews 4:16). Because of Jesus, we can call God Father (Galatians 4:4-7). Because of Jesus, we are no longer slaves to sin but to righteousness (Romans 6:18). So then, what’s the point in reading the Old Testament?

I personally believe the Old Testament is still relevant. Even for a Christian believer in 2017 living under the new covenant, the Old Testament is relevant. If it weren’t, the Bible would just be Matthew through Revelation, but those first 39 books are still there for a reason. My pastor often says, “If the Old Testament doesn’t mean anything anymore, stop quoting Psalm 23.” True, if we were to give up the Old Testament, some of our favorite scriptures would have to go with it. So let’s look at why we love Old Testament scriptures so much and what they do for us living in a completely different time and world.

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Romans 15:4; NIV

The Old Testament teaches us. I’ve been reading through the Old Testament for the past several months, and I can honestly say I have learned a lot! What does the Old Testament teach us? Well, first and foremost, it teaches us about God. It teaches us about His mighty power, how He spoke the entire universe into existence, creating the heavens and the earth in just six days; how He drew man from dust and breathed life into his lungs; how He destroyed the earth with a mighty flood because of man’s wickedness and then reestablished it; how He gave Abraham and Sarah a child in their old age, and they became parents to a great nation; how He performed awesome signs and wonders to bring the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt; how He was on their side in battle and helped them defeat their enemies and conquer the land of Canaan, even when it didn’t look like they could win.

The Old Testament teaches us that there is nothing too hard for God. It teaches us never to limit His power. Whatever situation you are in, never doubt that God can pull your through, because of what you learned about Him in the Old Testament. The Old Testament also teaches us that if God can do all these things, surely He can come to earth as a man, perform miracles, die and rise again, that all people may know Him.

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’).” Matthew 1:23

The Old Testament also serves as a history lesson, and I am a firm believer that if you know your history and learn from it, you won’t be cursed to make the same mistakes, and the children of Israel made a ton of mistakes. The Old Testament teaches us that there are consequences for sin, and if you don’t get that from only reading the New Testament, boy, does the Old Testament make that clear! Sin got Adam and Eve booted out of paradise! The Old Testament teaches us that sin leads to exile, captivity, plague, death.

And yet, though the children of Israel were constantly turning away from God, He was still willing to forgive them, which teaches us of His love and mercy, His patience with us through all our mess. And that’s a humbling feeling, to know that no matter what mistakes we make, we are still forgiven; God never stops loving us. Ultimately, we should strive to be better, to be holy like He is holy, but it’s a beautiful thing knowing that even before Jesus, God shows us His loving-kindness and His willingness to forgive our trespasses.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

The Old Testament also helps with the fundamentals of Christian living. If you struggle with prayer, read the book of psalms. There are 150 psalms in that book, some of them prayers, songs of worship, hymns. Read at least one a day, and then pray on what you read. See if that doesn’t make you stronger and more confident in your prayers. See if that doesn’t bring more power to your prayers. See also if that doesn’t bring you closer in your relationship with God as your grow to know Him better through the psalms. Other books, like Proverbs, offer wisdom and knowledge, giving advice on applying righteous principles to daily living. And Ecclesiastes reminds us that everything else in life is futile if we don’t have God in it.

But the most promising aspect of the Old Testament is its foretelling of our coming salvation, the prophesy of Jesus and the new covenant. These scriptures give us hope. Jeremiah 31:31-34 tells us of a new covenant to come, when all people will know God and have His word in them, when He will forgive all of their sins and remember them no more. Joel 2:28-32 speaks of a day when God will pour out His Spirit on all people, and sons and daughters will prophesy, old men will dream dreams, young me will see visions. On this day of the Lord, or day of judgement, anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Even Genesis gives us hope when God tells Abraham that through him, his offspring (Jesus being a descendant of Abraham–Matthew 1:2-16), all nations on earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3).

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5; NIV

Then of course, everyone knows the writings of Isaiah, which prophesy the coming of the Messiah.

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6; NKJV

All of these scriptures together lead us to our ultimate hope, which is the coming of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, who brings us eternal life, who cleanses us of our sins once and for all as the perfect sacrifice, who reconciles us back to God, who gives us the Holy Spirit, which is God living inside us leading us to righteousness.

Without the testimony of the Old Testament, can we really believe in and accept the promises in the New? Maybe, but knowing the Old Testament in this way really brings to light what Jesus meant when He said, “Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17) And fulfill them He did. So if you are one who often waves off the Old Testament as unimportant, I encourage you to read a few books everyone once in a while, it may help you to better appreciate the covenant you do have, if you knew a little more about the one the started it all.

“For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Matthew 5:18; NIV

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to study the scriptures of the Old Testament and see your sovereign will at work—the promise of Jesus, of salvation, of knowing God intimately, and having eternal life. Help us to understand that while we no longer live under the Law, those scriptures are still important, for they teach us, they rebuke us, they correct us, they train us in righteousness, and most importantly they testify about Christ our Savior. Help us to study to show ourselves approved unto you, needing not to be ashamed but correctly handling the word of truth. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Sunday Morning Word

Do You Know the Word of God?

How many of us can say that we know the word of God; that we can quote scripture on cue; that while we may not have every Bible verse memorized, we have an arsenal of verses we cling to in times of need; that we read the Bible every day?

In my church, our theme for 2017 is “Journey into Knowing God,” and part of knowing God is reading and understanding His word. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” If you think you can function through this life having never opened your Bible, you’re wrong. Joshua 1:8 says, “Keep this book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Likewise, Psalm 1:2 informs us that blessed is the one “whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who mediates on his law day and night.”

When you know the word of God, when you study it daily and apply it to your life, you will find success. That’s not to say that everything in life will be a breeze, but there’s a certain peace that comes with knowing God’s word, with relying on the scriptures to get you through the day. The word of God isn’t just reading material, an obligation for every Christian. Here are just a few things the word of God can do for us:

  • The word of God teaches us – “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)
  • The word of God corrects us – “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” Proverbs 3:11-12 (NIV)
  • The word of God humbles us – “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV)
  • The word of God guides us – “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NKJV)
  • The word of God comforts us – “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 (NKJV); “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulations; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NKJV)
  • The word of God is food for our spirit – “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 8:3 (NIV)

I think the best example of how knowing the word of God can lead to successful living, overcoming adversities, staying aligned with the will of God, is in the temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11). After fasting for forty days and forty nights in the wilderness, Jesus was hungry and vulnerable, and that’s usually when temptation will show its ugly face, when we are at our weakest point. But remember 2 Corinthians 12:10. Paul says, “When I am weak, then I am strong,” and we gain that strength by leaning on the word of God.

Each of Jesus’ responses to the devil’s temptations comes directly from scripture. When Satan tells Jesus to turn the stones to bread for food, Jesus says, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’”  (Matthew 4:4). When Satan tells Jesus to throw himself off the highest point of the temple to see if the Lord’s angels will catch him, Jesus responds, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Matthew 4:7). When Satan promises Jesus the kingdoms of the world if He will only bow down and worship him, Jesus answers, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only’”  (Matthew 4:10).

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:17

And afterward, after the devil leaves Him, the Bible says the angels come down and tend to Jesus, likely giving Him food and water to regain His strength (Matthew 4:11). What I like about this last verse is that it confirms for me that my knowledge of the word is never in vain. John 15:7 says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” There’s a fulfillment that comes with knowing and understanding the word of God, when you can apply it to your life, when you can use it in times of need. Keep in mind that if Jesus had given in to the devil and sinned against God, He couldn’t be the Savior of the world. His knowledge of the word— the Bible says He IS the word (John 1:14)—saves us from death and damnation. And our knowledge of the word, our dependence on the word, our belief in the word will save us also.

So I challenge you, if you’re not in the habit of reading your Bible, do it now. Find a translation that is easiest for you to understand and set aside some time every day to read God’s word, whether it’s a verse of the day every morning, a psalm during your lunch break, a parable of Jesus before you go to bed. In my church we are reading the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. That’s about five to six chapters a day. I invite you to join in. Start your year on today, and from now until next August immerse yourself in the word of God. Study His commandments, take heed of His warnings, follow His teachings. Mark the scriptures that speak to you most, mediate on them, memorize and understand them, so that when the time comes, you always have them in your back pocket, to get you through temptations, to reveal to you truths you never knew, to guide your footsteps when life brings you to a crossroads. The word of God can be all of that for you and more.

God Bless.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we desire to know your word. Feed us with every word from your mouth. Like newborn babies, we crave pure spiritual milk, that by it we may mature in our salvation. While the grass withers and the flowers fade, we know that your word lasts forever. Through every trial, through every storm, through every temptation of the enemy, your word is still there. Teach us to remember it. Bring it back to the forefront when we need it the most. Help us to not just be listeners but doers also, applying your word to our lives. Be the sower who plants the seed of your word on good ground, and open our hearts to receive it so that we may be lights in this dark world, guiding others back to you, sharing the truth of your word in peace and love. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Sunday Morning Word

Are You Doing the Will of God?

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Do you know God’s predetermined plan for your life? If so, are you doing your part to bring that plan to fruition?

There’s so much we can say about God’s will, but for the sake of keeping this post relatively short, I’ll (try to) give you the quick version. So, what is God’s will? Most of us are taught that there are two wills of God. First is His sovereign or general will for every Christian believer. To know this will, all we have to do is open our Bibles. God’s sovereign will asks us to be holy as He is holy (Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; 2 Timothy 2:22; 1 Peter 1:15-16), to be examples of Christ on earth (Matthew 5:16; Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 5:1-2), to pursue a relationship with God (John 17:3; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Hebrews 10:22; James 4:8), to live by the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-26; Ephesians 5:18-20), to make disciples of the nations (Matthew 9:36-38; 28:19-20). In other words, God’s general or sovereign will is to promote the coming of the kingdom of heaven.

God’s specific will is His purpose or assignment for each individual person. Usually this will is reveal to us through prayer, reading the word, or meditation. God’s specific will is equally as important as His general will, and I believe the two wills work together. In order to bring God’s general will to pass (which, let’s be clear here, it’s coming regardless), are you doing what you are supposed to do? Are you doing your individual assignment?

And that’s the problem with many of us today. We don’t want to do the will of God. We’re too selfish. We have our own goals and aspirations, and God will just have to wait. Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but its the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” What ends up happening is that God goes out and finds someone else who is willing to do the work and, as a result, that person will receive the reward that should’ve been ours. How many blessings have you missed out on because you didn’t want to do what God said? Hebrews 10:36 says, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will received what he has promised.” Are you still waiting for a promise God made to you years ago? Ask yourself one question: What have you done to fulfill God’s will?

“Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.” Matthew 21:31-32; NIV

In the parable of the two sons, Jesus describes a father who asks his two sons to do a specific task. The first refuses but later changes his mind and does what he was asked. However, the second answers yes but does nothing. It’s unfortunate that a lot of us are like that second son, and God can’t use us. We don’t follow through on our word, we make empty promises, and then we wonder why we don’t have that satisfaction we crave, why our lives still feel so incomplete. As Jesus said, a lot of people we would call downright sinners are currently enjoying the abundant life Jesus promised (John 10:10) because, unlike us, they chose to listen to God’s word and do what He says.

Remember our teaching on love, how if we claim to love God, we should follow His commands (John 14:15). How much does it say about our “love” for God when we aren’t willing to do what He asks? Can we even say we love Him?

Remember also when we looked at our heart’s desires, how receiving what we desire from the Lord is as easy as taking delight in Him. We looked closely at what exactly that meant to “delight in the Lord,” and one version of the Bible says it plainly; “Do what the Lord wants.” Do what the Lord wants, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Do what the Lord wants, and your life will be fulfilled. Do what the Lord wants, and you will received what He has promised you. James 1:22 instructs us not to be just hearers of the word, deceiving ourselves, but doers also. It all starts with doing.

Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:7-8

Doing God’s will won’t always be easy. Sometimes He will ask you to do things that may cause people not to like you (John 15:18-19). He may ask you to do things you find too hard, but keep in mind, God will never give you something He knows you can’t do. Believe in yourself, don’t limit yourself, and if you have to give up certain things that don’t align with God’s purposes for you, do not hesitate to let them go. Doing God’s will, just like loving Him, often requires sacrifice.

Just look at Jesus as your prime example. Do you think He was happy to go to the cross? No! The Bible says He “began to be sorrowful and troubled,” saying, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death (Matthew 26:37-38). When He went to pray in Gethsemane the night He was arrested, He asked, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me” (Luke 22:41-42), and that’s what we tend to do. When things get tough, we chicken out, we give up. We ask God to find someone else, give us a different assignment. But look at Jesus’ resolve in the second part of that verse. Although the realities of His coming death were beginning to shake Him, He understood the end goal, that the world through Him would be saved (John 3:16-17). And so He said, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24

Do God’s will because you know the end result, because you want to see His kingdom come, because you want all to go to heaven and come to the knowledge of Christ. John 15:16 says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” God chose you for a purpose, and if you don’t know what that purpose is, it is your job to find out, either through prayer, reading the word, or counseling with other mature Christians.

Most of us from an early age already know what God has called for us to do. For example, I’ve known since I was about three or four years old that I was meant to be a teacher. I’ve often run from it, mostly out of fear—I’m intimidated by children, I’m terrified of being wrong, I’m scared people won’t listen because of my age, how I look, the way I speak, my experience, or lack thereof, etc. But a few weeks ago, a soul sister told me this: You’ve been called by God to teach His word. Yes, I have, and I will do it for as long as I can, even on those days when it is hard, or when I’m running behind schedule, or when I’m feeling flustered. I will do it until I absolutely can do it no longer. And you should approach your calling, whatever it may be, in the same manner.

God Bless.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to do your will. Show us your plan and purpose for our lives and help us to bring it to fruition. You said in your word that if we commit to you whatever we do, you will establish our plans. We commit to doing your will, Lord. Establish our steps. Lead us down the correct path. Show us what we need to be doing in order that your kingdom come and your will be done. We ask, according to your will, knowing that you hear us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Sunday Morning Word

Why Do We Fear Death?

Why are we afraid of death? It’s a natural part of life, is it not? We’re born, we grow old, we die. Of course, the Bible tells us it wasn’t always like that. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were free to eat from the Tree of Life and live forever in peace and paradise and communion with God. Unfortunately, that all changed when they sinned, disobeyed what God commanded, ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and brought death into our world (Genesis 3). They were banished from Eden, and as the story goes, the world has been sinning and dying ever since.

“but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desires and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:14-15; NIV

Sin separates us from God. Sin brings death—no way to avoid it. So that’s it then? We’re born, we sin, we die. The end. Sounds pretty depressing, doesn’t it?

It doesn’t have to be! Not for the believer! The gospel, the good news, of Jesus Christ should restore any hope we may have lost in the Garden with Adam and Eve. In John 10:10, Jesus says that He has come so that we may have life and have it more abundantly. He tells Martha, the sister of Lazarus, “I AM the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25-26; NKJV). Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Then why do you fear death? God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). So be sound in this: that you are no longer enslaved to sin and its wages, that your mortal bodies may be dead to sin, but spiritually you are alive and well in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11).

“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14; NIV

What is physical death to the Christian believer? The Bible calls it sleep. Before Jesus goes to raise Lazarus from the dead, He tells His disciples, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up” (John 11:11). When I was growing up, my mother used to say that death for Christians isn’t the same as for nonbelievers. When we die, it doesn’t hurt, we go in peace, it’s like falling asleep. Remembering that, my mind goes to 1 Corinthians 15:55; “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The scripture goes on to say that the sting of death is sin, but “thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:56-57). We have the victory over death through Jesus Christ, who died and rose from the grave so that we could have everlasting life. So again I ask, why are we afraid of death? When we die, we are merely just asleep until we are called to rise again.

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28

It was never God’s intention for any of us to perish, but that we all turn from sin and live a life dedicated to Christ (2 Peter 3:9). John 3:16 tells us that God loves His creation— He loves us so much—and through our belief in Jesus Christ, He’s provided us with a way out of the sentence of death and to eternal life, coming to the knowledge of the one true God and of Jesus Christ, the Savoir of the world (John 17:3). If we believe that, we should never have to fear death, not even the second death—being cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14-15)—which, according to Matthew 25:41, was originally reserved for the devil and his angels anyway, not for us, and especially not for those of us who believe.

Let Jesus’ parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus be a warning to us. In life, the rich man lived a luxurious, gluttonous, and—though it doesn’t specifically state, we can only assume—sinful lifestyle, while Lazarus, though living in poverty and squalor, was humble and, we assume, righteous. When it came time for both of them to die, “the poor man died and his spirit was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom (paradise); and the rich man also died and was buried” (Luke 16:22; AMP). But the rich man woke up in hell, “where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side” (Luke 16:23; NIV). He begged Lazarus for a relief from his torture, and Abraham denied him. He asked for Lazarus to go and warn his brothers so they wouldn’t share his fate, and Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them,” basically saying that they have the scriptures, they have the teachings, they have the word of God to show them the way. And we do too. We have the Bible, we have Holy Spirit, we have the teachings of Jesus, we know that He is the at to the Father (John 14:6).

Before I was saved, I used to have nightmares reminiscent of the rich man’s demise. I would dream of being left being in the rapture, of deceased, unsaved loved ones coming back to drag me down to hell with them, of professing last minute confessions to sneak my way into heaven on the day of Judgement when it was too late. I’ve woken from those dreams in the middle of the night, terrified of the dark, of the dancing shadows on my walls, of the distant knocks and creaks throughout the house. I feared opening my bedroom door and seeing the devil face to face.

But then I felt the Holy Spirit’s drawing on my heart. I went to church one night and His drawing grew even stronger. I responded to His voice and rededicated my life to Christ. Since then I haven’t had a single nightmare about going to hell. I no longer fear waking up in the middle of the night. I can walk around the house while it’s pitch black and not be afraid. Now, Psalm 27:1 has more meaning to me. I have nothing to fear, not the devil, not hell, and certainly not death. Because Jesus Christ is the light of my life.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1; NKJV

And He can be yours as well. So why are you afraid of death? Is it because you’re not saved, like I was; you haven’t confessed Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior; you don’t believe in your heart that He rose from the dead (Romans 10:9)? Is it because you’ve backslidden; you were saved, but at some point you’ve turned away from God, you’ve gone back to your old ways of living and thinking, and you fear it’s too late for you? Is it because you haven’t heeded the word of God; you’ve been selfish, thinking only of yourself and not of promoting God’s kingdom? Is it because you haven’t done His will, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, and you fear there’s not enough time left to get started? Maybe you just don’t want to die, and if that’s the case, I hope 1 Corinthians 15 and other scriptures like it will serve as assurance to you that death is not the end.

If you are one who is afraid of death, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what is the source of your fear. Maybe it’s one of the reasons listed above or something else. Ultimately, you want to rectify that fear. No Christian should fear death because of the promise we have in Jesus Christ. In fact, we should look forward to it, knowing that to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

God Bless.

 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:42-43

Prayer of Salvation: Heavenly Father, you said in your word that sin brings death and separates us from you, but eternal life comes through Jesus Christ. Lord, please forgive us of all our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We want to live a life dedicated to Christ, where we no longer fear death, but hope toward His resurrection. We confess with our mouth and believe in our heart that Jesus Christ is Lord, that He died on the cross for our sins, that He rose from the grave, conquering death, so we could be saved. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your gift of eternal life. Thank you for the promise that death is not the end. Now we can say with confidence that we do not fear death. Now we can say with confidence there is no sting. Our mind is clear, and we’re more determined to seek and do the work of your kingdom, living righteously and holy like you, to the day we meet in paradise. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Sunday Morning Word

What is the Holy Trinity?

The term Holy Trinity isn’t seen anywhere in the Bible. It’s a term we’ve come up with in church in reference to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity is a concept that is often difficult to understand, for non-Christians, new converts, and seasoned Christians alike. If God is one, how then is there a trinity? Are there three different Gods, and if so, which one am I supposed to worship—God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit?

The best definition I’ve heard given for the Holy Trinity has come from my pastor. He explains it as this: God is one God who has given Himself three different assignments— God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Using music as an example, a musical artist can be a musician, a songwriter, and a singer—three different aspects that come together under one artist. It’s the same with God. He has split Himself up into three parts, all in an effort to be closer to us, but He’s still one God. To understand this better, let’s look at the three parts of the Holy Trinity and see how they all connect and circle back to the one God.

God the Father

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over all the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:26-27; NIV

The Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). He created heaven and earth and everything within (Psalm 24:1; Isaiah 45:12), including us. God is our Father. He formed man out of the dust of the earth and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils (Genesis 2:7). He made woman from man’s rib (Genesis 2:21-22). The Bible says God formed us in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13; Jeremiah 1:5). Isaiah 64:8 says, “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).  We are all created by God, and we are all created in His image. When a son has a very strong resemblance to his father, we may say that he his the “spit’n image” of his father, which is dialect for “spirit and image.” Likewise, we are the “spirit and image” of God. If we look at ourselves in the mirror, we should be able to see God reflected in each of us.

Try not to only think of God as a Father in creation. While He didn’t just create you and me but everyone, and while He didn’t just create the earth but the entire universe, He still wants to have a personal relationship with each of us, He still watches over us and directs our paths. Despite all His mighty works, He still cares for us individually (Psalm 8:3-5), He knows us personally even down to the hairs on our head. In the New Testament, Jesus teaches us that we have a Father in heaven (Matthew 23:9) who cares for us just as much as an earthly father would, and He provides for us, just as an earthly father would (Matthew 6:26; 7:11)

God the Son

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means God with us.” Matthew 1:23

Sometimes it’s hard for us to picture God as a Father, as one who cares for us and  desires to know us personally. We see Him as this all-powerful being who created heaven and earth, who sits high in heaven and looks down on us. The Bible says that God is spirit (John 4:24). He can’t be seen; to see God in all His glory would be a death sentence, because He’s so infinite, our finite selves can’t comprehend all of His mystery. He can’t be contained in flesh and bone or a physical address because he’s everywhere (1 Kings 8:27; Psalm 139:7), he doesn’t even exist within time itself (2 Peter 3:8). How can someone so big and so great know each of us personally, and how can we know Him? Like the song, “He’s so high you can’t go over him, so wide you can’t go around him, so low you can’t go under him, you have to meet him at the door.” Well, that door is Jesus Christ.

“I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.” John 10:7-9

Jesus is the way. No one gets to God the Father except through God the Son (John 14:6). Jesus personifies God for us. It’s through Jesus that we know God’s true love for us. While we were still in sin, we belonged to the devil (John 8:44; 1 John 3:8), but God was willing to come down as a sacrifice to bring us, His people, His creation, back to Him (John 3:16-17; Colossians 1:20; 1 Timothy 2:6).  John 1, verses 1 and 14 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, and the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father full of grace and truth.” Jesus is God making the effort, bringing Himself down to our size so that we can understand Him better, not just as a grand architect of the universe, but as a loving Father who wants a relationship with us.

“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:3-5

Through Jesus, we feel much closer to God, not only because He was a good teacher, but because He is God making Himself known to us. In John 10:30, Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.” In John 14:9, He tells Phillip, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” Colossians 1:15 says that Jesus is the “image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” Jesus teaches us that we can call God Father, that we can come to Him in times of need (Matthew 6:6-8). We have the confidence that God will accept us now because of Jesus. We know that God understands the problems of life that we face because He Himself lived it through Jesus (Hebrews 4:15-16). As I said before, Jesus makes God personable for us.

God the Holy Spirit

“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” Romans 8:9-11

The third manifestation of God is the Holy Spirit. Since the man Jesus no longer walks this earth, and God the Father is much too vast, every believer has the Holy Spirit inside them, a piece of God to carry with them everywhere they go. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is a gift from God (Luke 11:13; John 14:16). He who lived with Jesus (Luke 3:22; 4:1) now resides in each of us who believe.

The Holy Spirit is Jesus living in all of us. When He promises His disciples the Holy Spirit, Jesus says, “The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:17-18). Notice how when Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit, He never uses the word “it”; instead, He uses the personal pronoun “he/him.” He wants us to understand that the Holy Spirit isn’t a thing, He is God Himself, just as Jesus is. This all comes together in the next two verses: “Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and your are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:19-20).

As Jesus is a Teacher, so is the Holy Spirit. Jesus says that He “will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). He is our helper and guide on the inside (John 16:13), and just as Jesus has made God known to us, so will the Holy Spirit. “He will bring glory to me by taking what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mind and make it known to you” (John 16:14-15).

The Holy Spirit is proof that God lives, and that Jesus lives as well. If we have a relationship with God, we have a relationship with the Holy Spirit. He speaks to us, He leads and directs us, He tells us what’s to come. If Jesus brings God closer to us, the Holy Spirit makes Him even closer. Paul confirms this in 1 Corinthians saying, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”  (1 Corinthians 3:16), and again in 1 Corinthians 6:19 when he says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”

To sum it all together, God is now the closest to us He has ever been. Before, He was just a distant creator, a Father but only in the aspect that He made us because that was all we could comprehend. Then Jesus came along, and we learned that God loves us, that He was willing to become a man and die so that we could know Him. And now we know that He has never left us. He is the source of life, the resurrection. Through Him we too have life, and now He is with us to guide us every step of the way through the Holy Spirit. Three versions of God He has created, all in an effort to bring us closer to Him.

God Bless.

When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my son, whom I love; with you I am will pleased.” Luke 3:21-22

Prayer: Heavenly Father thank you for your love, your mercy, and your faithfulness. What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made us a little lower than the angels, yet you have done so much for us. You’ve manifested yourself in three different ways so that we can know you better. You are the great I Am, Lord. You are our Creator, your are our Savior, and you are our Counselor and Helper. After seeing all that you have done for us, only a fool would say you do not exist. We believe in you, Lord, in every form of you, and we desire to know you more, to get even closer to you, for you said in your word that you desire loyalty rather than sacrifice and the knowledge of you rather than burnt offerings. Don’t ever leave our sides, Lord, continue to bless us with your presence, and we will forever praise you, obeying your commands, and fulfilling your will here on earth. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.