Author: Alice A. Anacioco

Why We Should Trust the Lord

Why We Should Trust the Lord

They say that you can never trust someone unless you know them. After all, why should we trust someone we do not know? It’s the same thing with God; we cannot trust Him unless we know Him. But other than that, why should we trust the Lord?

Reasons for us to trust the Lord

A. We can trust the Lord because He is trustworthy.

The Bible tells us that “God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should change His mind…” (Numbers 23:19). Whatever the Lord plans and purposes to do, He can bring it to pass because He is powerful.

Getting to know God by reading His Word and spending time talking to Him will make us trust Him more and more each day. We will continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord as we read, study and meditate on His Word. The more we know about God, the more we will trust Him.

*Related Article: How to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord 

B. We can trust the Lord because He is faithful.

Faithfulness is one of God’s attributes. Even at times when we are unfaithful, God remains faithful and He will never change (Deuteronomy 7:9; 2 Timothy 2:13). We read the story of the nation of Israel on how they repeatedly rebelled and turned away from God. And yet, every time they called on Him to deliver them from the hands of their enemies, God was always there for them.

Why? Because He made a covenant with Abraham that He will make his descendant as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sands on the seashore; God promised to make them a great nation and a blessing (Genesis 12:2-3; Genesis 17:4-7; Genesis 22:17).

God also has a covenant with those who trust in Him. God promises many blessings to us and we can be sure that God will fulfill them because He is faithful. He is faithful to the nation of Israel and He is faithful to His bride, the Church.

Here’s a beautiful song by the Free Believers in Christ Fellowship International (FBCFI) Concert Team entitled “Trust in Me.”  

Trust in Me Lyrics & Chords

Can we trust God in times of trials?

Absolutely! We can and should trust God even when things in our lives and around us do not seem to be going the way we want them to be. God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent; there is nothing that is hidden from His sight, nothing that He can’t do.

We all go through some rough times but we find comfort in knowing that God loves us, He cares about us and always has good intentions for us. Let us then “trust the Lord with all our heart, not leaning on our own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). God wants us to always trust Him in all circumstances.

*Read the story of Joseph: Is God in complete control of everything?

Are you having a hard time trusting the Lord? Please do share your life-changing testimony on how the Lord has worked in your life the moment you made the decision to trust Him completely.


*Are you looking for Bibles, Christian resources and study materials, gifts, souvenirs, CD’s, DVD’s and more? Visit Christian Book Distributors with their Bestsellers!

Bible Study: The Great Commission

Bible Study: The Great Commission

Jesus’ statement in Matthew 28:18-20 known as “the Great Commission,” though it is no greater than statements in any of the other Gospels, is very much applicable to us believers today. And so, a Bible study on this subject is important for us to understand the factors that are involved.

Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The Authority of Jesus

The commissioning of Jesus’ disciples is clearly based on His authority. The word “authority” in verse 18 indicates an authoritative command or the right to use power. It carries the same idea as when an officer reminds a private of his rank before giving the order. Having this authority, Jesus can send whomever He wills to carry out whatever He pleases.

When we read the entire Gospel of Matthew, we would notice how it stresses the authority of Jesus Christ. Here are some of those instances:

  • His teaching had authority (Matthew 7:29).
  • He exercised authority in healing (Matthew 8:1-13).
  • He had authority to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6).
  • He had authority over Satan and delegated that authority to His apostles (Matthew 10:1).

And at the close of his Gospel, Matthew made it clear that Jesus has been given “all” authority. The word “all” refers to all authority, all things, all nations and all the days. It is for this reason that we can obey Jesus without fear. No matter what circumstances we face, no matter where He leads us, He is in control.

Jesus’ authority over everything and anything, commands us to “go;” it is His authority that sends us, guides us, empowers us and enables His work and message to continue to the world through us.

Making Disciples of All Nations

In verses 19-20, Jesus by His authority orders activity. The Greek verb translated “go” is actually not a command but a present participle (“going”). There is only one command in the entire Great Commission: to make disciples. Here, Jesus was saying, “While you are going, make disciples of all nations.”

Let’s make that clear. The command is to make disciples, not merely converts, church members or supporters of a cause. But what is a disciple? The term “disciples” was the most popular name for the earthly believers. The idea behind the word is of learners, students or scholars.

“Apprentice” might be an equivalent term. A disciple would attach himself to his teacher, identify with him, learn from him and live with him. More importantly, a disciple would not learn by simply listening but also by doing. James, the Lord’s brother, tells us to not merely listen to the word but to do what it says (James 1:22-25).

The words “make disciples” reminds us that disciples are made; they are not spontaneously created at conversion but are products of a process that involves other believers.

How are disciples made? Through teaching – teaching them all the things that Jesus commanded. It is our responsibility as followers of Jesus to present the whole counsel of God to those who are being made disciples (Acts 20:27). The apostle Paul did not share half-truths or watered down Gospel; he shared all of what God revealed and we must do the same.

Another thing noteworthy is the command to take the Gospel to “all nations.” Let us not forget that in Jesus’ previous ministry; He deliberately restricted His work to the Jews (Matthew 10:6; Matthew 15:24). Of course, there were rare instances wherein Jesus ministered among the Gentiles such as in Matthew 15:21-28.

But that’s all in the past now. The disciples and all believers in Christ today are commissioned to take the Gospel to all nations, to make disciples of all men everywhere without distinction. So no matter where we are, we should be witnesses for Jesus Christ and seek to win others to Him (Acts 11:19-21).

Water Baptism

Significantly, Jesus Christ commands us to go and baptize, not to circumcise those who became disciples. One other thing, discipleship comes first before baptism. The words and context certainly indicate that it’s disciples who are baptized; those who are of age who can be taught and who can observe the things Jesus commanded and those who have already come to faith in Christ.

Apparently, there are churches today who teach that water baptism is a requirement for salvation and they use passages such as Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21 and Titus 3:5. However, the word of God makes it pretty clear that salvation is by grace (alone) through faith (alone) in the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9); it’s not something we acquire by doing good deeds such as submitting for water baptism.

*Here’s an article that talks more extensively on the issue of water baptism in regards to salvation: Do you need to be baptized in order to be saved?

The Promise of Jesus’ Constant Presence

In the second part of verse 20, we see Jesus’ authority as ability. Jesus is not only among His disciples when they came together but He is also present with them as they scatter into the world to witness. He sent them to fulfill a mission but He did not send them alone.

Jesus promised His constant presence as rendered by the English adverb “always” – that is, each day as we live it. Had Jesus remained on earth, He could not have fulfilled this promise. But when He ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit came so Jesus could be with His people no matter where they are.

The promise of Jesus’ constant presence was more than adequate to strengthen and guide His disciples as they obeyed Him in making disciples of all nations and is certainly adequate to strengthen and guide us as we go into all the world and become witnesses for Christ.

In Closing

The phrase “end of the age” indicates that our Lord has a plan; He is the Lord of history. As we follow His leading and heed His Word, we fulfill His purposes in the world. One day, everything will come into a climax. Meanwhile, let us remain faithful.

What’s hindering you from fulfilling the Great Commission?

What about Eating Food Sacrificed to Idols?

What about Eating Food Sacrificed to Idols?

In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul gives instructions about a subject which seems irrelevant today in many cultures – eating food sacrificed to idols. What was the problem faced by Paul’s readers at that time for him to consider it necessary to address this issue? More importantly, what principles in this passage can be applied today?

When Paul advised the believers in Corinth about meat or food sacrificed to idols, idolatry and sacrifices were as familiar to his readers as shopping centers are to modern audiences. On the other hand, people today are as bewildered about the practices of idolatry as a Corinthian would be in a supermarket.

The Problem Faced by the Church at Corinth

In the ancient world, there were 2 sources of meat: the regular market where the prices were higher and the local temples where meat from the sacrifices was always available. The Handbook of Life in Bible Times helps us understand the situation:

1 Corinthians 13:8 Bible Study

So Paul writes the 8th chapter of 1 Corinthians to help them see this problem from a Christian perspective. First, he tells them that in one sense he doesn’t really care whether they eat food sacrificed to idols because “an idol is nothing in the world and that there is no other God but one” (1 Corinthians 8:4-6).

Secondly, Paul realizes that food is spiritually neutral – meaning, food does not bring us near to God. In other words, we can’t win God’s approval by what we eat. We aren’t any better if we eat nor are we worse if we do not. However, Paul realizes that “not everyone possesses this knowledge” (1 Corinthians 8:7-8).

The “strong members” of the church knew that idols could not contaminate food, and so they saved money by purchasing the cheaper meat available from the temples. After all, who does not love a bargain? Not only that. They would also attend feasts held at the temple or in the home of their unconverted friends and eat sacrificial meat served to them.

The Christians who felt free to eat at the idol temple may have based their freedom on the correct knowledge that idols are nothing. But Paul is asking them to think about those who are not knowledgeable about this. He affirms what they know about an idol being nothing but he tells them that showing love to their fellow Christians is more important to God than being right (1 Corinthians 8:1).

It’s possible that the Corinthian Christians were reasoning like this: “Since idols are really nothing, it must mean nothing to eat meat sacrificed to them; it must also mean nothing to eat in the temples used to worship idols who are nothing.”

But all of this offended the weaker Christians, many of whom had been saved out of pagan idolatry. Paul was concerned that because they had been deeply involved in idol worship prior to their conversion, they might misunderstand if he and others ate food sacrificed to idols.

The Weaker Christians

When Paul speaks of a “weak brother” in 1 Corinthians 8:11, he does not necessarily mean someone who is easily tempted to sin. He is also not talking about being weak or strong in regard to self-control, but in regard to knowledge. Paul has in mind an over scrupulous Christian who is extremely careful to always do what is morally right and proper.

So Paul exhorts the strong Christians in the church – the believers who had spiritual knowledge and experience and who understood their authority and freedom in Christ – to care for the weak. And they are to do this by building them up and using their knowledge in love (1 Corinthians 8:1).

Some people have the false notion that the strong Christians are the ones who live by rules and regulations, and who get offended when others use their freedom in Christ, but such is not the case. It is the weak Christians who are afraid to use their freedom in Christ and must have the security of law.

In reality, it is the weak Christians who are prone to judge and criticize stronger believers and to stumble over what they do. As a result, it becomes more difficult for the strong “saints” to minister to their weaker brothers and sisters.

Becoming a Stumbling Block to Others

The real issue here isn’t idol meat, but rather that the exercise of your right does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” In other words, Paul does not want us to do anything that might cause other Christians to sin by violating their consciences, for this would wound or destroy them.

Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 8:9-12 (NIV):

Do not be a stumbling block to others“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.”

Why is their conscience weak? Their conscience is weak not because it isn’t working, but because it operates on the idea that an idol is really something. They have consciousness of an idol and when they eat meat sacrificed to idols, they eat it as something offered to an idol.

Rather than taking the risk of offending the weaker brethren, thus sinning against them and against God, Paul concludes: “Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat again meat, lest I make my brother stumble” (1 Corinthians 8:13).

Application for Christians Today

Perhaps the issues today where most stumble in that are relevant to Christian liberty include entertainment such as movies, music or television. Does the kind of movie or TV show we watch or the music we listen to have something to say about the level of our spirituality? What about drinking liquor and smoking?

The principle here is clear: Our actions should never be based on what we know to be right for ourselves; we also need to consider what is right in regard to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We should not cause a fellow believer in Christ to stumble over an issue that has direct relevance to the person in question.

It’s pretty easy for us to say, “I answer to no one but God and God alone.” But in doing so, we ignore a weaker brother or sister. It’s true that we will answer to God and God alone, but we will answer to Him for how we have treated our brother or sister.

At the Jerusalem Council, abstaining from food sacrificed to idols was one of the things discussed and commended for some churches (Acts 15:29). But Paul’s discussion of the issue with the Corinthian believers does not in any way contradict what has been agreed upon by the church leaders at the Jerusalem Council.

It must be made clear that the Council’s decision in regards to abstaining from meat sacrificed to idols was not intended to be normative for the churches all the time; it was only temporary as a means to advance the cause of the gospel among the Jews.

Conclusion

In summary, Paul is telling the Corinthians and the Christians today not to eat food sacrificed to idols if it causes those who are weak to follow their example. We are not to allow the freedom (in any area) we have in Christ to become a stumbling block to others. Rather, we should only do those things which build up others in love.

Freedom in Christ

Christians should not abuse their liberty and think that it is a small matter to offend their weak brethren. If what we do causes the weaker brethren to stumble and sin, then we should not do it. Christian behavior is founded not on knowledge but on love; and the goal of the Christian life is not knowledge but love.

Blessings in Psalm 119

Blessings in Psalm 119

Most Bible readers know that Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in Bible. However, only a few are aware that this chapter contains many blessings; it is also the chapter of the Bible that most magnifies the Word of God.

If we honestly and humbly apply the Word of God to our lives, God will surely share these blessings with us:

Note: Unless otherwise stated, all Bible reference texts are taken from the New King James Version (NKJV).

Joy

“I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.” – Psalm 119:14

“Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.” – Psalm 119:111 (NIV)

“I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure.” – Psalm 119:162

*Joy is more than just happiness; it is an emotion resulting from the anticipation, acquisition or even the expectation of something great or wonderful, such as salvation or eternal life. It is one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

Psalm 119:111

Purity

“How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word.” – Psalm 119:9 (NLT)

*See also John 15:3 & Ephesians 5:25-26

*The word “purity” is synonymous with “holiness.” It means to be separated from sin and devoted to that which is good; to be morally clean and without blemish. Some may think that holy living restricts us from enjoying life to the fullest. On the contrary, living in purity allows us to live an abundant life – the life that Christ died for us to have before the world was corrupted by sin.

Hope

“Remember the word to Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope.” – Psalm 119:49
(NLT)

*The modern idea of hope is to expect or to wish for something, but without certainty of fulfillment. You desire for something very much but have no real assurance of getting it.

*In the Bible, the Hebrew and Greek words translated by the word “hope” indicates certainty; it denotes “a strong and confident expectation.” From a biblical standpoint, hope is synonymous with salvation and all the blessings that come with it (past, present and future), as promised in Scriptures.

Right Values

“Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me Your way.” – Psalm 119:37

“The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver.” – Psalm 119:72

“How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” – Psalm 119:103 (NIV)

“I hate and abhor lying, but I love Your law.” – Psalm 119:163

*Values are those things that we deem important, for they provide direction and guidance in spite of how we feel. Values are what give us the reason why we do things and why we act exactly the way we do; they could be restrictive because of the boundaries they place around behavior.

*God, being the standard of good, is the source of all the right values. God is the absolute of truth, goodness, love and justice. In a world without God, what we call “good” would have no ultimate referent.

Comfort

“Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.” – Psalm 119:50

“The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver.” – Psalm 119:72

“How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” – Psalm 119:103 (NIV)

“I hate and abhor lying, but I love Your law.” – Psalm 119:163

*God is a God of all comfort. Although He allows us to go through trials in order to build up our character, He Himself will comfort us. And the comfort that God gives will not only enable us to endure trials but so that we can comfort those who need comforting as a result of the troubles they’re facing (See 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

New Life

“My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word.” – Psalm 119:25

“I have suffered much, O Lord; restore my life again as You promised.” – Psalm 119:107 (NLT)

*What does it mean to experience new life? Here’s an article that expounds on the topic of regeneration: Born Again: A New Religion?

Peace

“Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.” – Psalm 119:165

“My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word.” – Psalm 119:25

“I have suffered much, O Lord; restore my life again as You promised.” – Psalm 119:107 (NLT)

*Peace can be defined as “harmony, tranquility or security.” Everybody wants peace, yet only a few seem to find it. The world offers empty promises of peace, but true and lasting peace only comes through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace (John 14:27; Isaiah 9:6).

John 14:27

Freedom

“I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out Your precepts.” – Psalm 119:45 (NIV)

“My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word.” – Psalm 119:25

“I have suffered much, O Lord; restore my life again as You promised.” – Psalm 119:107 (NLT)

*Freedom could mean many things to many people. It could be viewed from a political or financial standpoint. What is freedom from a biblical standpoint? Freedom is not the right to do as one pleases. Rather, it is the power and capacity both to will and to do as one ought.

Integrity

“Remove from me the way of lying, and grant me Your law graciously.” – Psalm 119:29

“My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word.” – Psalm 119:25

“I have suffered much, O Lord; restore my life again as You promised.” – Psalm 119:107 (NLT)

*When we speak of integrity, it always comes down to the issue of a person’s character, not just his words. As opposed to hypocrisy, integrity points to a consistency between what is inside and what is outside, between belief and behavior, our values and our practice, our attitudes and our actions, our words and our ways.

Wisdom

“You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts.” – Psalm 119:98-100

*Wisdom is defined as the ability to discern or judge what is right and true. The Bible tells us that wisdom comes from above; it’s a gift and it begins with the fear of the Lord (James 1:5; Proverbs 1:7).

Encouragement

“I weep with sorrow; encourage me by Your word.” – Psalm 119:28 (NLT)

*Encouragement is very important because, without it, hardship becomes meaningless; life feels pointless and burdensome. The word of God is the greatest source of encouragement; it helps us through times of testing and discipline and gives us the will to carry on while waiting for the Lord’s return.

Guidance and Counsel

“Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.” – Psalm 119:24

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NLT)

*God cares about each of us and wants to direct our lives. He has given us the Bible so that we might know His will and purpose in all areas of life. By God’s own direction, we are to entrust our way to Him for His direction and leading.

A Song

“Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.” – Psalm 119:54

*The better we know the Bible, the more we will appreciate the great hymns of the church.

Conclusion

In closing, let me just say that in order for us to enjoy these blessings as promised by God in Psalm 119, we must not only read them; we must put them into action. James, the Lord’s brother, tells us to be “doers” of the word and not “hearers” only so we do not deceive ourselves (James 1:22).

Bible Verses About Stress and Anxiety

Bible Verses About Stress and Anxiety

Nobody is excused from stress and anxiety, not even Christians. We all feel stressed from time to time; we are anxious about our children, our finances, our health, our jobs. The long list could go on and on. Often times we find it pretty hard to find peace in the midst of a stressful situation. But what a great comfort to know that there are a lot of Bible verses about stress and anxiety telling us exactly how to deal with them.

Admittedly, my job has been the constant cause of my stress and although I trust God to take care of all my fears and worries, I still find myself stressing out every time I’m at work. I feel stressed thinking of the things that need to be accomplished. I feel stressed every time I see my co-workers not caring about getting their works done on time.

And whenever I get home and reflect on what happened at work that day, I realize how worked up I’ve been the entire day that I almost did not have time to thank God for all His blessings. Below are just 7 of the verses we can read and meditate whenever stress and anxiety kick in:

1) Psalm 55:22

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.”

When we find ourselves in the midst of trouble, our first thought is: “How can I get out of this?” But as firm believers in the Lord, we need to ask, “What can I get out of this?” In the same way that David learned to rest in the Lord and found in Him peaceful refuge while hiding in the wilderness from Saul, let us learn to cast our anxiety unto the God who never changes.

In times when you find yourself in the midst of the storm, know that the Lord is forever faithful and He will never allow you to slip and fall. You do not have to fret and get stressed out, for the Lord will be by your side to rescue you; that’s His promise.

2) Philippians 4:6-7

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

The NLT (New Living Translation) uses the word “worry,” which means “to be pulled in different directions.” Our hopes pull us in one direction, our fears pull us the opposite direction, and we are pulled apart. Worry has definite physical consequences, such as neck pains, headaches, back pains and ulcers.

Do you know that worry can affect our thinking, our digestion, and even our coordination? Paul exhorts us to take everything to God in prayer. Talking to God about everything – not only the “big things” but even the so-called “little things” – will result in God’s peace that will guard our hearts and minds.

3) 1 Peter 5:7

“Casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.”

What does it mean to cast all your cares or anxiety on God? Luke 19:35 uses the exact same form. Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him.” This simply means that if you have a garment on and you want an animal to carry it for you, you “cast” the garment on the animal so you won’t have to carry it anymore.

God wants to be a burden bearer; He is willing to carry your anxieties and burdens (Matthew 11:28; Psalm 55:22), the same way a donkey carries your baggage. But how is this possible? By trusting Him. Casting your cares on God means trusting Him to handle every situation because you believe that He cares.

4) Isaiah 41:10

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

As the Jewish remnant faced the challenge of the long journey home and the difficult task of rebuilding the Temple, they could think of many reasons to fear. But the one big reason for them not to be afraid: the Lord was with them and would give them success. God calmed their fears by assuring them and working on their behalf.

God’s promise in this verse is not only for the Jewish people; it’s for everyone who puts their trust in Him. However, you first need to recognize that God is greater than your personality. He is greater than your past timidity. Do not fear because He is your God, He is always with you; He will strengthen you and uphold you with His righteous right hand.

5) Joshua 1:9

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Whenever Joshua faced an enemy and was tempted to be afraid, he would remember that he was a man with a divine commission, and his fears would vanish. Whenever things went wrong and he was tempted to be dismayed, he would recall God’s command and take new courage.

God does not only expect us to live strong and courageous; He has called us to live without fear because God is with us wherever we go (Hebrews 13:5). While we are to fear God and live in reverence of Him, Scripture tells us to live with confidence in God’s promises and power.

6) Matthew 6:34

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Worrying about tomorrow does not help either tomorrow or today. If anything, it robs us of our effectiveness today, which means we will be even less effective tomorrow. Focus on whatever God is doing right now without having to get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.

The Lord has appointed to each day its own portion of pleasure and trouble. So never misappropriate the troubles that God has allotted for tomorrow. Do not ever bring them forward into today in the form of anxiety. But believe that God will take care of tomorrow because He is not only the God of today, He’s also the God of tomorrow.

7) Psalm 46:10

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.”

To “be still” literally means “take your hands off and relax.” Often times, we like to be “hands-on” people and manage our own lives, but God is God, and we are but His servants. Remember how Jacob often got into trouble because he liked to get his hands on circumstances and tried to play God.

There is a time to obey God and act, but until then, we had better take our hands off and allow God to work on His own time and His own way. When faced with a lot of stress and anxiety, let us learn to be still and acknowledge that God is the one and only victorious God.

Conclusion

Christians need not feel stressed and anxious. God is on our side and He has given us what we need in order to have peace of mind. He knows everything that’s going on in our lives, and although He can prevent or permit whatever He wants – including some things that could hurt us – He will work them all out for our own good; we just need to trust Him.

What do you think are the common reasons why Christians are stressed out and anxious? Had there been times in your life when you were overwhelmed with fear and worry? How did you deal with it? Please let us know in the comments below.

Is God in Complete Control of Everything?

Is God in Complete Control of Everything?

One of the areas Christians often struggle with has to do with trusting God’s hand in every situation. When things do not happen the way we want them to, we immediately assume that God is silent. But the Bible assures us that God is in complete control of everything.

In theology, this doctrine is called “Divine Providence.” It is the means by which God directs all things – seen and unseen, good and evil, animate and inanimate – toward a worthy purpose. We may not always understand the reason behind every event that transpires in the world and in our lives personally and individually, but God wants us to trust Him because He always works things out for our good.

In just about every book in the Bible, we see God’s Providence at work. God has a hand in everything and He is never OUT OF CONTROL. We also see this taught in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

The verse says, “all things,” which means ALL things – whether good or bad. It may seem to us like evil is tearing the world apart, but if we look at it from God’s perspective, we realize that it is actually playing a secondary role for God to carry out His greater purpose. God allows things for a reason and His plan is always good.

God’s Providence in the Life of Joseph

The Joseph Narrative contained in Genesis chapters 37 and 39-50 is one of the best illustrations of God’s providence. When we read through these chapters, we see that Joseph is the central human character at nearly every point.

Who is Joseph? And how did God use every detail in his life to fulfill His plan? Joseph was the 11th among the 12 sons of Jacob, he was the first son of Jacob with Rachel, he had a younger brother named Benjamin and he was Jacob’s favorite and most loved among all his sons.

A. Joseph Sold by His brothers

Out of hatred, Joseph’s brothers conspired to kill him when he followed them to Shechem and into Dothan pasturing their flocks (Genesis 37:18-20). They hated Joseph for three reasons: 1) he reported to his father the bad things that they were doing (Genesis 37:2), 2) he was their father’s favorite son and made him a coat of many colors (Genesis 37:3-4), and 3) he told them his dreams of arrogant superiority (Genesis 37:6-8, 9-10).

“Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph – a beautiful robe.” – Genesis 37:3

But God used Reuben, their eldest brother, to deliver him out of their hands (Genesis 37:21-22). Eventually, they sold him to the Ishmaelite traders for 20 shekels of silver (Genesis 37:28), who in turn sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard (Genesis 37:36).

B. Joseph becomes a Successful Administrator in Egypt (Genesis 39)

While in Egypt, Joseph worked for his master Potiphar and became a successful administrator. Why? Was it because he was smart and possessed extraordinary administrative skills? Not really!

The Bible clearly identifies the reason. Joseph succeeded in everything he did because the Lord was with himthe Lord was with Joseph (Genesis 39:2-3) and for Joseph’s sake, the Lord blessed Potiphar’s household and all that he had (Genesis 39:5).

Unfairly jailed, Joseph rose to inmate administrator (Genesis 39:19-20). Why? Again, the Bible leaves no doubt as to who is responsible for Joseph’s success. The Lord was with Joseph in the prison; He showed him mercy and gave him favor in the sight of the warden, who put him in charge of all the other prisoners and everything that happened in the prison (Genesis 39:21-23).

“But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison … the Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.” – Genesis 39:21, 23

The inspired narrator pointed to God as the One working things out for Joseph. It’s all God. God is in complete control of everything that‘s happening in the life of Joseph. Whatever managerial skills Joseph might have had clearly played a secondary role in God’s intervention in his life.

C. Joseph Interprets Two Dreams (Genesis 40)

When we read that Joseph was thrown into prison, we would think that it’s the end of the narrative. But God isn’t finished yet, not by a long shot. When Pharaoh’s chief cup bearer and chief baker who were put in prison by their master each had a dream, Joseph interpreted it for them. However, the chief cup bearer who was restored to his former position as Joseph predicted forgot all about him (Genesis 40:23).

D. Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dreams and was Made the Ruler of Egypt (Genesis 41)

Two full years had passed when Pharaoh had two dreams that no one could interpret; not even the magicians and wise men of Egypt. And that was when the chief cup bearer remembered Joseph who was still in prison. He told Pharaoh about Joseph who interpreted his and the chief baker’s dreams.

Pharaoh sent for Joseph and asked for the interpretation of his two dreams, which are about the 7 years of plenty that are about to come followed by 7 years of famine. Because of the wisdom that God gave Joseph to interpret his dreams, Pharaoh made Joseph ruler over all Egypt, second in rank to him.

Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt.” – Genesis 41:41

During the 7 years of prosperity, Joseph gathered and stored an immeasurable amount of grain in Egypt. So when the 7 years of famine began, people all around the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph.

E. Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt

While in Canaan, Jacob heard that grain was available in Egypt. So he sent his sons, except Benjamin, to Egypt to buy grain. After 13 years, Joseph came face to face with his brothers once again. But they did not recognize him.

After several trips to Egypt, Joseph’s brothers settled there. Their father Jacob also went to Egypt, along with all his descendants, livestock and goods, and they all settled in Goshen.

God’s Greater Purpose in the Life of Joseph

The entire process of Joseph’s fall and rise to power was God’s doing. His release from prison because of his God-given interpretation skills, his exaltation to power and the opportunity to help his family during the famine all point to God’s providence.

The focus in the narrative was on God, and He can accomplish what He wills. Even the evil intent of Joseph’s brothers toward him was used by God to fulfill His purpose. As he said to his brothers, “Am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:19-20).

The chain of events that took place was part of God’s bigger plan for Israel as a nation. God sent Joseph to Egypt ahead of his family in order to make way for the preservation of the Canaanites and Egyptians together with them during the time of famine. How did God get Joseph to Egypt? By allowing his brothers the freedom to sin.

As it turned out, Egypt was where God built up and multiplied His people. God prepared them there for the exodus and conquest that He would use to give them the land that He promised to Abraham – the land that’s flowing with milk and honey: Canaan.

Conclusion

God is in control of everything. In the same way that God worked in the life of Joseph, and used even his mistakes and allowed him to experience misfortunes in order to accomplish His purpose, God is also working in the life of every believer who loves Him to carry out His will.

Whatever you’re going through, know that God will use them all for your own good. He can even turn the bad things into blessings for you. God called all believers for a purpose and He will accomplish it. We can make many plans but in the end, it’s the Lord’s purpose that will prevail (Proverbs 19:21).

Lessons from the Unforgiving Servant

Lessons from the Unforgiving Servant

We know that Jesus often spoke in parables in order to teach and illustrate profound, divine truths. In the parable of the unforgiving servant which is found only in Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus teaches several lessons on forgiveness and how to deal with unforgiveness.

The Definition of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the act of pardoning an offender. When you forgive someone, you basically dismiss or release that person from all charges against you.

In the parable of the unforgiving servant, Jesus equated forgiveness with canceling a debt. That is because, in the Bible, the Greek word translated “forgiveness” literally means “to let go,” as when a person does not demand payment for a debt.

The Frequency of Forgiveness

The passage begins with Peter asking Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times? (Matthew 18:21)” By offering up the suggestion of the figure of seven, Peter thought that he was being over-generous and extremely loving. That is because many Jewish rabbis of that time taught that three times was the accepted limit.

But Jesus said to Peter, “not up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” Matthew 18:22). Did Jesus really mean 490 times is the limit? And deny forgiveness at the 491st offense (70X7 =490)? Of course not! The idea behind “up to seventy times seven” is UNLIMITED forgiveness. Jesus is saying, There should be no limit to your forgiveness, Peter. So stop counting and just keep on forgiving!”

Hindrances to Forgiveness and How to Overcome them

1) Forgetting what we have been forgiven from.

Where the servant failed is in forgetting how much he was forgiven of. He forgot the merciful treatment his master gave him. He forgot how his master forgave him of his “unpayable” debt.

The denarius and talent were units of currency used in the New Testament times. A denarius is a Roman silver coin weighing 4 grams and is equivalent to a day’s wages for a common laborer and soldier (Matthew 20:1-2). While a talent which is a unit weight for gold typically weighed about 33 kg (75 lbs).

Item Unit Value
1 Denarius 4 g of silver coin A day’s wages
1 Talent (6,000 Denarii) About 33 kg of gold 16 years’ wages

 

The servant owed his master 10,000 talents (60 M Denarii) which is worth about 160,000 years’ wages, a tremendous amount of money which he could never pay in his lifetime in his own strength and ability. His co-servant owed him 100 denarii (roughly a hundred days’ wages), which was almost nothing compared to the debt forgiven by his master.

Note: Most commentators list the modern value of ten thousand talents as anywhere between $12 million and $1 billion US dollars.

Ten Thousand Talents

In the same way, we too have committed grave sins against God deserving of punishment. But because of God’s great love, mercy and compassion, He wanted to pardon us. He does not want us to rot in hell to pay for our sins that is why He Himself provided a way for us to be forgiven, even if it means sacrificing His only begotten Son on the cross of Calvary (John 3:16; John 14:6).

Let us not make the same mistake that the unforgiving servant did. Let us always make sure to remember how God forgave our enormous debt. In times when we are tempted to lose patience with someone or withhold forgiveness, let us remember the great mercy God has shown us when we needed it.

2) Anger that can lead to bitterness and revenge.

When we are offended, it’s but natural to feel hurt and anger. But anger in itself is not sin. Even Jesus got angry when He saw the people buying and selling goods in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13).

It’s what you do when you’re angry that might cause you to sin. That is why there is a warning in Ephesians 6:26-27 about not letting anger control us; we should not hold on to anger for more than a day. Because anger when not properly dealt with will lead to bitterness which in turn will lead to a strong desire to seek revenge against the offender.

“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:31-32

Do you know that a root of bitterness can grow up in a person because of unforgiveness? This root can be buried deep inside your heart which not only blocks the flow of God’s love from penetrating deep within your heart; it also blocks the flow of God’s love for others through you.

When the king found out that his servant whose debt he canceled did not forgive his co-worker who owed him a much lesser amount, he gave him up to the torturers until he should pay all his debt. In the same way, Christians with an unforgiving spirit find themselves miserable, unhappy, tortured and slowly being eaten up by anger and bitterness. As a result, they would want to seek revenge against their offenders.

In your anger do not sin

Some of the most miserable people are those who will not forgive others. They live only to imagine ways to punish the people who have wronged them. But they are really only punishing themselves.

The word of God tells us not to take revenge but to leave it to God. “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay’, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

3) Unwillingness to forgive.

Going back to the passage, the servant who was forgiven of his “unpayable” debt of 10,000 talents was unwilling to forgive his co-worker whose debt did not even amount to 1 talent. His co-worker begged him for more time to pay his debt but he refused and threw him into prison.

Often times Christians find themselves doing the exact same thing to their offenders. They find it hard to forgive despite knowing how God has not only forgiven them of their sins but were also declared righteous in the sight of God.

We often pray the Lord’s Prayer. We say, “Lord, forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Do we really know what we’re asking? Do we know the depths of this prayer? When we ask God to forgive our sins, we’re actually asking God for something that we’re not prepared to give to others.

The Lord's Prayer

This is plain “hypocrisy.” We want God to just cover all our sins but we’re not willing to reach out and forgive others. This should not be! Any sin that others could ever commit against us is just like the hundred denarii; it is insignificant compared to the horrible sins we have committed and will commit against God all the days of our lives.

Why Should We Forgive?

1) We forgive because we have been forgiven (1 John 1:9; Ephesians 1:7).

The first point of being forgiven is acknowledging that we are sinners in need of forgiveness. And since we’ve been forgiven so much, we must also choose to forgive others.

2) We forgive out of obedience to the Lord (Colossians 3:13; Ephesians 4:32).

Having a proper understanding of how much we have been forgiven would make it easier for us to recognize how much “God in Christ forgave” us.

Having received God’s infinite forgiveness would naturally make us want to forgive others. We commit sin every day; in our thoughts and in what we say and do. And God is faithful to forgive us when we acknowledge our sins and confess them (1 John 1:9).

3) We forgive so that God will forgive our sins (Matthew 6:14-15).

Jesus warned that God cannot forgive us if we do not have humble and repentant hearts. The true condition of our hearts is revealed by the way we treat others. When our hearts are humble and repentant, we will gladly forgive our brothers and sisters.

4) We forgive so that our prayers will not be hindered (Mark 11:24-25).

One of the reasons we do not receive what we ask for in prayer is an unforgiving spirit. Do you want to live a victorious Christian life? Forgive. Want to experience God’s presence and power in your life? Forgive. Do you want to be effective in your ministry? Forgive. And you must forgive from your heart.

To forgive from your heart does not mean forgetting the offense. Let’s face it, no matter how many years will pass by, we will never forget the incident. Consider God’s perspective; He is an omniscient God, He knows everything and nothing is hidden from His sight.

But when God forgives, He will also “forget” our sins and “remembers them no more” (Hebrews 8:12; Isaiah 43:25). Well, it does not mean that God will suddenly have amnesia. It means God does not hold our sins against us anymore. This tells us that when God expects us to forgive those who have wronged us, He also expects us to not hold the person accountable for his sins any longer.

How to Forgive when it Hurts

You may ask, “How can God expect me to forgive when I am hurting so badly? And how do I forgive when I don’t feel like it?” We forgive by faith. Forgiveness just like loving our enemies is against our nature, so we must forgive by faith.

Corrie Ten BoomNo matter how hurt we are; whether we feel like it or not, we must choose to forgive. Forgiveness is a conscious choice that we make through a decision of our will, regardless of how we feel.

When asked about how she was able to forgive the people who have caused her a lot of pain and suffering, Corrie Ten Boom in her book Hiding Place made this powerful statement:

“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”

How to Know if we have Truly Forgiven

We must understand that forgiveness does not always come easy. It’s not a one-time choice that we do and then we automatically live in a state of forgiveness. Most of the time, forgiveness is a slow process.

For some, the act of forgiving may take a lifetime. The most important thing is we continue to forgive until the matter is settled in our heart. But how do we know if we have truly forgiven? Freedom comes as a result when Lewis Smedesforgiveness is complete.

The world’s worst prison is the prison of an unforgiving heart. Just like the unforgiving servant who was thrown into prison by his master, you are also imprisoning yourself and causing your own torment if you refuse to forgive others.

Lewis Smedes in his book Forgive and Forget says, “When you release a wrongdoer from the wrong, you set a prisoner free, but you discover that the real prisoner was yourself.”

Conclusion

One of the best ways to break down the wall of unforgiveness in our heart is prayer. If you have been wronged or badly treated by someone, why not begin praying for that person. And as you pray, God will give you new eyes to see and heart to care for that person. You will begin to see them the way God does – a guilty sinner who is in need of forgiveness just like us.

And if God did not withhold His forgiveness from us, who are we to withhold our forgiveness from others? It is normal for us to be angry toward sin and injustice but it is not our job to judge others in their sin.

If you have had experiences with having to deal with unforgiveness in your heart, please do share your testimony in the comment below.

Church Discipline: Correcting Another Believer

Church Discipline: Correcting Another Believer

Church discipline is something that we talk a great deal about but seldom do anything about it. What should we do when another Christian has sinned against us or caused us to stumble? What is the biblical principle of correcting another believer?

Discipline means taking corrective measures as punishment in order to maintain the good conduct of church members. But church discipline is a not only a practice that is seldom made effective in our churches today, it is also a ministry that is often neglected.

Now, why is this so? Is it because we have grown weak and cold, and fear to act on our principles? Is it because we have all attained a state of perfection and no longer require it? Is it because our churches are afraid of losing church members? Or are we afraid that the church will be reduced if we punish sin?

Instructions for Church Discipline

The Lord Jesus gave several instructions in Matthew 18:15-17:

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”

1. Keep the matter private. Approach the person who sinned and speak with him or her alone. – Matthew 18:15

Always give the person the benefit of the doubt. It is possible that he or she does not even realize what he or she has done. Or, even if the act was deliberate, our own attitude of submission and love will help the person repent and apologize. Unless there are concerns for physical safety or propriety, it is best to go in person rather than talk over the phone.

By the way, don’t try to prove that the person is wrong and you are right. Your objective in approaching the person is not to show him his faults and win the argument. Rather, your goal is to get him to listen in order to win him back to the Lord. We do not want to win the argument and lose the person.

All Scriptures is given by inspiration of God

And the best way to convince someone of his sin is with the use of Scriptures. Your opinion does not matter; God’s Word is the authority. If the person who sinned knows and feels that you genuinely care for him, he will be more likely to listen and respond positively..

2. If he or she resists, take with you two or three brothers as witnesses. – Matthew 18:16

The witnesses you bring in are those who already know about the problem, which may include church leaders. The reason for this is to strengthen the reproof so as to cause the offender to realize the seriousness of the situation. Again, your goal is to bring the sinning person to repentance and restoration.

3. If he continues to harden his heart, inform the church. – Matthew 18:17a

In the passage mentioned, Jesus did not specify how this is done but other Scriptures indicate that this should be administered through the church leaders to whom God has given the authority over the church (Hebrews 13:17).

But before disclosing this matter to the congregation, the church leaders should make an effort to reach out to the offender and warn him that if he does not repent before a set period of time, his sin will be made public.

It is also important to note that before seeking to discipline a member, the church assembly should be at its best spiritually. This is because when a church disciplines a member, a church is actually examining and disciplining itself. We cannot discipline others if we ourselves are not disciplined.

“But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person.” – 1 Corinthians 5:11

Once the matter has been made public, the church is given instructions on how to relate to the sinning person. In 1 Corinthians 5:11, Paul exhorts the church to not associate nor eat with the person. He says the same thing to the Thessalonians but then adds, “Yet do not count him as an enemy but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15).

This means that not all contact is forbidden. We must still communicate with the person to let him know that we love him and want him back in the fellowship. But we must make it clear that we do not condone what he is doing and we can’t accept him back until he genuinely repents.

4. If he insists on resisting, the next step is to expel him from the church assembly and treat him as an unbeliever. – Matthew 18:17b; 1 Corinthians 5:13

Just as children in the home need discipline, so God’s children in the church need discipline. If by the time the matter comes to the whole church and the offender has not yet changed and repented, then this person cannot be treated as a spiritual brother or sister. But he may or she can only be treated as one outside the church – not hated but not held in close fellowship.

I know there are a lot of questions as to what it really means to “expel” or “ex-communicate” a church member. We read about people being expelled by their churches for one reason or the other. And in almost all cases, people keep asking whether or not the expulsion was really done according to biblical principles. You may want to check out Jay E. Adams’ Handbook of Church Discipline.

5. Public restoration after genuine repentance.

Until the offender expresses genuine repentance, he or she should not be accepted back into the fellowship. But how do we know that the person is sincere? True repentance involves godly sorrow in the part of the offender (2 Corinthians 7:9-10).

But there should be a specified period of time for the repentant person to prove his repentance is really genuine before putting him again into positions of ministry and leadership. It is also advisable that he undergoes some discipleship training to help him grow and avoid the sin in the future.

The Purpose of Church Discipline

Church discipline is carried out for the spiritual restoration of fallen members as well as the consequent strengthening of the church. The church does not discipline its members for the purpose of throwing people out of the church or to feed the self-righteous pride of the leaders.

The purpose of church discipline is not to embarrass people or to exercise power and authority in an unbiblical manner. Instead, church discipline aims to restore a sinning believer to holiness and bring him back into fellowship with the assembly.

Conclusion

Discipline and discipling in the church community is never easy nor simple. But it is an important calling within the Christian community in order to help individuals mature. Discipline has to be done as it is vital not only for the (spiritual) health of the individual but also for the church community as a whole.

I would love to know your thoughts regarding this matter. Do you know of somebody who needed to undergo some kind of disciplinary measures as a result of their sins? Please share your views on how the church is to properly carry out discipline among members who are sinning persistently in the comment section below.


*Recommended Resource:

Handbook of Church Discipline: A Right and Privilege of Every Church Member – eBook
By Jay E. Adams

This is a handbook for pastors, elders, and all Christians who want to see how Scripture presents the process of discipline that should operate in the Christian community.

It was written in response to the various concerns that threaten to tear apart marriages, families, friendships, and congregations—concerns that call for a biblical approach to discipline that can heal fractures, restore right relationship, and ensure the health of the church.

Developed around the five corrective steps found especially in Matthew 18: 15-17, this book helps church leaders deal with the sorts of problems that require the church’s disciplinary response. Charting a course that combines discernment with appropriate action, this simple, readable handbook can have a profound effect on the community of believers.

Lessons from Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

Lessons from Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

The 3rd chapter of Daniel which centers on the story of Daniel’s 3 best buddies Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is a well-known and well-loved chapter in the Bible. Who does not know how these three Jewish men were cast into the fiery furnace and came out alive? But more importantly, what lessons can we learn from their experience?

Summary of Daniel Chapter 3

In Daniel 3:1-7, we read how King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, set it up in the plain of Dura in Babylon and commanded everyone to fall down and worship the image upon hearing the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music. And anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.

Prior to this, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream about a great image that is awesome in form and whose splendor was excellent, standing before him (Daniel 2:31-35). Could this have something to do with why he set up an image for everyone to bow down to and worship?

We’re not sure how much time elapsed between the night Nebuchadnezzar dreamed about the metallic image and the day he commanded the people to fall down before the golden image that he had made. Some believe that the event described in Daniel chapter 3 might have occurred 20 years after the promotion of Daniel and his friends, about the time Jerusalem was finally destroyed (586 BC).

So it happened that when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people fell down and worshiped the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar set up, except 3 Jewish men: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They refused to obey the king’s order; they stood tall in that great crowd when everybody else bowed low (Daniel 3:7-12).

The Golden Image of King Nebuchadnezzar

When King Nebuchadnezzar learned about it, he became furious and asked for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be brought in. The king, who had appointed these men to their high positions, valued their service (Daniel 1:18-20). Realizing that his reputation was at stake, he gave them a second chance in the presence of everyone.

King Nebuchadnezzar instructed the orchestra to play once more and if they bowed down, the matter would be forgiven and forgotten. However, the three men refused to do so and as a result; they were thrown into the blazing furnace that was heated 7 times more than it was usually heated (Daniel 3:13-20).

But God delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the blazing furnace to the astonishment of the king. When they came out of the fire, Nebuchadnezzar and all the high officers, officials and governors crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them.

Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent His angel and rescued His servants! They trusted in Him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” – Daniel 3:28

Then the king praised the God of the Jews and made a decree that anyone who speaks against Him shall be cut in pieces and their houses will be turned into an ash heap. The king also promoted them to even higher positions in the province of Babylon (Daniel 3:24-30).

Learning from the Three Jewish Men

What important lessons can we learn from the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?

1. Place your faith only in the true and living God and in His Word.

The assembly of worshipers in Daniel 3:7 who bowed to the ground and worshiped the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up can be likened to the people in today’s world who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ. They blindly follow the crowd and are concerned only with survival. They will do almost anything to escape danger and death, even to the point of selling themselves into slavery to men who promote empty myths.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down and worship the golden statue because their faith was in the true and living God. Knowing the history of their ancestors, they were confident that God was in control and they had nothing to fear.

These three Jewish men knew the Law of God – “You shall have no other gods before me ….. You shall not bow down to them nor worship them” (Exodus 20:3, 5). They knew that bowing before the image even once, regardless of the excuse they might have given, would have destroyed their witness and broken their fellowship with God.

“But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them.” – Mark 13:9

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not concerned about themselves, nor were they afraid of the fury of the king. They were only concerned about obeying God and giving a faithful witness to all who were watching and listening. So by one act of faith, they became witnesses of the true and living God to the entire Babylonian Empire.

Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds

In the same way, when Christians are being persecuted for their faith, they should take that as an opportunity to tell others about Jesus. As one theologian said, “Times of adversity are usually times of opportunity.”

2. Be a man or woman of faith but not of presumption.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not affirm that God would deliver them, which would have been presumption because they didn’t know what God’s will for their situation was. Instead, they stated that their God was able to deliver them, but even if He didn’t, they still wouldn’t bow down and worship the king’s golden image (Daniel 3:16-18).

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if He doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set us.” – Daniel 3:17-18

Perhaps you feel convicted to pray for somebody who’s suffering from a terminal illness and you claimed by faith that God would heal that person. Know that God always rewards faith but He doesn’t always step in to perform special miracles. Not everyone who prays for healing gets healed, but the Lord always gives strength to bear with the pain and grace to face death without fear.

*Related Article: Why does God not Heal Everyone?

The three Jewish men believed that God could deliver them, but they would still trust Him even if He didn’t. Christians must remain faithful to God even if He doesn’t answer their prayers according to their expectations. That is how faith is supposed to operate in the life of someone who claims to be a follower of Christ (Hebrews 3:17-19).

3. Civil disobedience is only permissible in certain instances.

Submission to authority is a principle that must never be put aside and God is the ultimate authority. As such, He has ordained other authorities under Him to which we must submit, including human government. The Bible says that to oppose these authorities is to oppose God (Romans 13:1-2).

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” – Romans 13:1

But Jesus taught us that there will be times when civil disobedience is permissible. When we find ourselves in a position wherein we must choose to either obey God or men, then we must obey God and disobey men (Acts 5:29). If our obedience to man’s laws would result in our disobedience to God’s laws, we must obey God by disobeying men.

The decree of King Nebuchadnezzar to bow down to the golden image is one instance where civil disobedience is allowed because it was clearly in violation of God’s law. For Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, obedience to the king’s command would have required them to commit the sin of idolatry.

But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.” – Acts 5:29

But even when God requires us to disobey human law, we must do so in a submissive manner. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego disobeyed the king’s command but they remained respectful. We may dislike our government leaders because the laws they are imposing go against God’s will. But we should not encourage others to join us, stage a protest or seek to overthrow them. Instead, we must bring the matter to God and submit to Him as the ultimate authority.

4. God is our Deliverer.

This story is really about deliverance. King Nebuchadnezzar expected everyone in Babylon, including the Jews, to fall down before his idol because he believed he was the only one who could deliver or destroy them. This is apparent when he asked the 3 Jewish men, “And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands” (Daniel 3:15)? To this, he later answered, “There is no God who can deliver like this” (Daniel 3: 29).

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew that the God who delivered them from Egyptian bondage and forbade His people to worship idols is their Deliverer not only from the blazing furnace but also from Babylonian captivity. They did not have to make any defense to the king when they were asked to explain their refusal to bow to the golden image.

“For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:10-11

And God accomplished their deliverance. God did not only deliver them from the fire, He delivered them through the fire. The fire had not harmed their bodies, not a single hair of their heads singed, nor were their garments affected and there was no smell of fire on them (Daniel 3:27). Their deliverance was complete!

*Read here: What does John 3:16 teach about salvation?

God’s deliverance for Christians is just like what is described in Daniel 3. Having been delivered does not mean that we are spared from all sufferings and trials, but it is a deliverance as a result of God Himself experiencing the fire. In the same way that God was present with the 3 Jewish men as the 4th person in the furnace, Christ has endured the wrath of God in our place.

“Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke.” – Daniel 3:27

Believers are delivered from the wrath of God because His Son, Jesus Christ, suffered in our place. Our deliverance has been accomplished on the cross of Calvary. We may not be able to fully grasp the extent of the deliverance that we have in Christ or fathom the totality of God’s deliverance for us now, but His deliverance is complete.

Conclusion

The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego is a reminder for us of the prophecies found in Revelation, especially chapters 13 and 14. One day, a world leader (Beast) like King Nebuchadnezzar will arise and will have an image of himself constructed. He will force all the people in the world to worship his image.

Those who obey will be given a mark on their forehead or their hand, and this special mark will be their passport to stay alive and do business. Anyone who refuses to obey will be persecuted and killed. But the Lord will preserve for Himself 144,000 Jews whom the Beast will not be able to touch, and they will come out of the Great Tribulation to reign together with the Messiah for a thousand years.

Standing firm to the end

As for the believers in Christ, expect the furnace of opposition to be heated 7 times hotter and the pressure to conform (to the world) to grow stronger as we move forward to the end of the age. We need a great deal of prayers and grace; and we need the same faith and courage that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had in order to stand tall for Christ while others are bowing their knees to the god of this world.

Reasons to Study Bible Prophecy

Reasons to Study Bible Prophecy

If you love to study the Bible, then you must also love to study Bible prophecy. Do you know that approximately 1/3 of the Bible was prophetic at the time that it was written? The Bible is a book of prophecy; it contains about a thousand prophecies, of which about five hundred have already been fulfilled down to the smallest detail.

And with a proven track record of 100% accuracy with five hundred prophecies, we can be confident that the remaining five hundred unfulfilled prophecies will also come to pass at the appointed time.

But other than knowing that the remaining yet-to-be-fulfilled prophecies will happen, what other good reasons do Christians have for wanting to study Bible prophecy? While many reasons could be given for gaining a deeper understanding of biblical prophecy, we will look at these 7 Key Reasons that stand out.

1) The Subject of Prophecy is Jesus Christ

Prophecy begins and ends in the person and works of the Savior. In Genesis 3:15, where the very first prophecy in the Bible was given, a Deliverer is promised to crush the head of the serpent. Enoch’s ancient prophecy which is recorded in Jude 1:14-15 speaks of the second coming of Christ. And Revelation 19:10 tells us that “the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.”

From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is filled with prophecies that ultimately point in some way to the Savior. Below are some of the ways Jesus is revealed in prophecy:

Jesus is the coming Kinga. The Passover Lamb – Exodus 12; John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:7

b. The Son of Man – Daniel 7:13

c. Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace – Isaiah 9:6

d. The star from Jacob – Numbers 24:17

e. The resurrection and the life – John 11:25-27

f. A man of sorrows – Isaiah 53:3

g. The coming king – Revelation 19

Jesus did not fulfill one, or two or three of the more than 100 distinct “First Coming” prophecies about the Messiah; He fulfilled every single one of them. Studying Bible prophecy is vital because its very essence gives witness to Jesus the Messiah.

2) Prophecy Gives Us a Proper Perspective in Life and Provides Hope for the Future

Bible prophecy is important because it tells us the end of the story. Just as our world had a definite beginning in Genesis 1:1, it will also have an ending. This world will not continue on forever through infinite cycles of history. We know from Bible prophecy that there’s a consummation of human history and this present world.

There is no way to understand fully much of what’s going on in our present day and time apart from the detailed prophecies contained in the Bible. We do not have to worry, panic or get scared because, in light of Bible prophecy, they all make sense.

The rapture of the Church

As Jan Markell of Olive Tree Ministries always quotes by the end of her program, “Things are not falling apart, they are falling into place.” And these events are all leading up to one big thing – the return of Jesus Christ.

Prophecy assures us that Jesus is coming back, that He will either resurrect or rapture us, and that He will take us to live forever with Him and the Father. Knowing this truth gives us meaning, perspective and purpose and helps us embrace hope in life.

3) Prophecy is a Major Part of Divine Revelation

I mentioned earlier that prophecy constitutes nearly a third of the Bible. In Bible study, there’s a principle known as the “Law of Proportion.” This law simply means that you can discern the importance of a subject in Scripture by how much attention is devoted to it.

Consider the following statistics: (Reference: The End by Mark Hitchcock)

a. Percent of the Whole Bible that is Prophecy ………………………………………….. 27%

b. Number of Separate Prophetic Topics in the Bible ………………………………….. 737

c. Number of Predictions in the Old Testament ………………………………………….. 1,239

d. Number of Old Testament verses that contain predictions ………………………  6,641 out of 23,210

e. Percent of the Old Testament that is Prophecy ……………………………………….. 28.5%

f. Number of Predictions in the New Testament …………………………………………. 578

g. Number of New Testament verses that contain predictions …………………….. 1,711 out of 7,914

h. Percent of the New Testament that is Prophecy …………………………………….. 21.5%

i. Number of Verses in the Bible ……………………………………………………………… 31,124

Consider these facts:

Of the 333 prophecies concerning Christ, only 109 were fulfilled by His first coming, leaving 224 yet to be fulfilled in the Second Coming.

  • There are over 300 references to the Lord’s coming in the 260 chapters of the New Testament, that’s one out of every 30 verses.
  • Twenty-three of the 27 New Testament books mention the Lord’s coming.
  • Jesus refers to His second coming at least 21 times.
  • 1,527 Old Testament passages refer to the Second Coming.
  • For every time the Bible mentions the first coming, the Second Coming is mentioned 8 times.
  • People are exhorted to be ready for the return of Jesus Christ over 50 times.

Applying the Law of Proportion, biblical prophecy warrants serious study. To ignore or neglect it is to cast dishonor upon divine revelation. Moreover, if the prophecies were not in the Bible, the remainder of the Book would be meaningless.

4) Prophecy is a Key Tool for Evangelism

I was amazed to learn that the first Christian book many unbelievers read is a book on Bible prophecy. And this should not surprise us because Bible prophecy fascinates everyone – even unbelievers.

Most people have the same basic questions about the future. What’s going to happen to the world? When will the world end? Will the human race survive in the future? Is Jesus really coming back? Is there life after death? Are heaven and hell real?

What does the Bible say about the end of the world?

People want answers to these questions and the Bible has them. Christians can and should use this knowledge to share the Gospel with others as God opens the door of opportunity.

5) Prophecy Helps Protect People from Heresy

Do you notice how almost every book in the New Testament contains at least 1 section that addresses false teaching? You may want to look at some of the more notable sections such as 2 Corinthians 10-12; Philippians 3; 2 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.

There are even cases where the whole book is devoted almost entirely to combating false teaching and the corrupt lifestyle it produces (Colossians; Galatians; 1 Timothy; Jude and 2 Peter).

“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly  bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring in on themselves swift destruction.” – 2 Peter 2:1

From the earliest days of Christianity, the true teachings of the church have been attacked and corrupted by false teachers. In 2 Thessalonians 2, the apostle Paul corrects a false teaching that the Day of the Lord has already come. In 2 Peter 3, a group of scoffers took the false teaching in another direction; mocking the idea that Jesus was coming again.

The same kind of speculative errors has continued throughout church history in the likes of William Miller, Harold Camping and the JW’s who all made failed predictions about the rapture and the return of Christ.

Taking the time to study the Scriptures and having an accurate understanding of Bible prophecy will protect God’s people from false teachings and from those who misuse it.

6) Fulfilled Prophecies Prove the Truth of God’s Word

No other religious book has ever been written that contains so much prophecy as the Bible. Prophecy scholar John Walvoord said the Bible contains about one thousand prophecies of which about five hundred have already been fulfilled. This is absolute proof that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.

Just as Bible prophecy establishes that God is the One true God, it also proves that God’s Word is true and that we can put our faith in what it teaches. And we’re not just talking of general prophecies about the future but very specific prophecies.

Below are some of the fulfilled Bible prophecies: (Reference: The End by Mark Hitchcock)

a. Four Great World Empires in Succession

In Daniel 2 & 7, the prophet Daniel (around 530 BC) predicted that there would be 4 great Gentile powers that would rule the world in succession: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Well, there have been four, and only four, world empires. Though others have tried since the fall of the Roman Empire, they all failed.

b. The 70-Year Babylonian Captivity

The prophet Jeremiah (627 – 582 BC) prophesied that the wicked people of Judah would be taken captive by the Babylonians and that their captivity would last for 70 years (Jeremiah 25:10-11; Jeremiah 29:10).

This specific prophecy was given decades before it took place. The people were taken into captivity in 605 BC by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and were allowed only to return to Judah in 538 BC.

c. The Fall of Nineveh

God revealed an amazing prophecy to Nahum between 650 and 640 BC. God showed him in details how the great city of Nineveh, which is the capital of the Assyrian Empire, would be destroyed. History records that in 612 BC this was fulfilled. The Babylonians and Medes invaded, plundered, and utterly destroyed the powerful city of Nineveh.

d. King Cyrus of Persia

During the Golden Age of the Hebrew prophets, around 700 BC, the prophet Isaiah in his writings identified a Medo-Persian king by the name of “Cyrus.” But Cyrus didn’t come into power for nearly 150 years (Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1).

Isaiah goes on to predict in Isaiah 45:2-6 and Isaiah 44:28 that Cyrus would conquer Babylon, restore the Jewish people to their land, rebuild Jerusalem and restore the Temple. All of this was completely fulfilled about 160 years later (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-11).

7) Prophecy Motivates us to Live Godly Lives

Charles Dyer, a prophecy expert, emphasizes the practical purpose of Bible prophecy which is this:

“God gave prophecy to change our hearts, not to fill our heads with knowledge. God never predicted future events just to satisfy our curiosity about the future. Every time God announces events that are future, He includes with His predictions practical applications to life. God’s announcements about the future carry with them specific advice for the ‘here and now.’”

Christians should not treat prophecy as a purely intellectual pursuit with no practical applications. Prophecy was not given only to stir our imagination or capture our attention. God intended prophecy to change our attitudes and actions so they will be more in line with His Word and His character.

Conclusion

There have been oppositions, both aggressive and passive, to the study and teaching of prophecy as a result of the failed predictions of some date-setters and fanatics whose only intentions were to get crowds.

But Bible prophecy should not be shunned merely because of the discredited teachings of some cults and self-proclaimed prophets who have distorted the Word of God to serve their own purposes.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God (including prophecies), and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

What about you, what’s your reason for wanting to study Bible prophecy? Please share your insights by leaving a comment.


*Recommended Resource:

The Amazing Claims of Bible Prophecy: What You Need to Know in These Uncertain Times – eBook
By Mark Hitchcock