Author: Michael Heilman

The Fully Armed Life

The Fully Armed Life

Christians are engaged in a great spiritual battle, with Ephesians 6:10-17 giving the clearest definition of the spiritual war, penned by the apostle Paul. This passage emphasizes a fully armed spiritual life.

We are not only assured of the reality of a spiritual warfare with Satan and his demons but are also warned to never underestimate the power of the devil. The devil is not compared to a lion and a dragon just for fun that is why we need the power of God to be able to stand against him; we need to be fully armed with the whole armor of God.

Be Prepared by Standing Firm

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” – Ephesians 6:10

Paul wants believers to understand that they cannot win the battle through human strength but in God’s strength alone. We are in great danger when we think we can stand in our own strength, rather than in the strength that God provides.

The Christian’s Armour Sermon

The same power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated him in heavenly places over the enemy is in every believer because of the Holy Spirit residing in them.

But just like any other warfare, a soldier cannot emerge victorious without preparation. Soldiers would need to undergo rigid training, both mentally and physically before they go to the battlefield. It’s the same thing with Christians – they need to be spiritually prepared.

Sadly, many lose this battle simply because of failure to prepare.

The Full Armor of God

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” – Ephesians 6:11-13

The Christian in Complete Armour
Photo Credits: homedepot.com

Most times when someone refers to being armed, it has the connotation of owning a gun but this passage has nothing to do with it. Christians are at not at war with evil people; our primary opponents are the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

We do not wear literal pieces of armor the way the Roman soldiers did, but each piece has spiritual significance that must be “PUT ON” on a regular basis to be effective.

In so many words, this entire list must be part of your lifestyle or else you will be vulnerable to Satan’s methods.

In this passage, God has provided instructions on how to stand for God in spite of the raging war around us. The only question we have to ask ourselves is, do we want to stand for God or be crippled and useless for God?

The Belt of Truth

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth.” – Ephesians 6:14a

Roman soldiers had a harness that was attached to all the other pieces of armor. It showed to their observers that the soldier was prepared for battle.

This is also true of Christians. There is a spiritual war for the souls of men. Some philosophers say there is no truth, even though that is an absolute statement itself. That still leaves the question, “What is truth?”

The Fully Armed Life

God’s word is true as Jesus said. Why not believe it and study it as 2 Timothy 2:15 says? This truth prepares us for the spiritual battles we will go through. If we don’t know the truth, our armor CAN’T stay on us.

God does not automatically put the truth in our mind. We must search and study. Bible literacy is at an all-time low. Can we recite the 66 books in the Bible? How can we be righteous without knowing what righteousness is?

What does it mean to live by faith or be faithful? Only biblical knowledge and understanding can answer those questions. Are you girded with truth?

The Righteous Life

“Having put on the breastplate of righteousness.” – Ephesians 6:14b

This verse does not sound like an ongoing action I realize, but that does not mean Christians don’t have to live righteously. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that when we receive Jesus’ righteousness we become new. Since we are still sinners, our choices need to be continuously made new. Aka live righteously.

Some might ask what or who is always right? If you are a Christian, you should believe the Bible is God’s word and always right. If you are not a Christian, I would encourage you to choose to repent of your sin and turn to Jesus. You never know when your last opportunity will be.

Who is the main subject of the Bible? Obviously, it’s Jesus. Jesus is the only man that was perfectly righteous. Why not live according to His words? God’s word is the final word.

The Christian in Full Armor

This is why we should personally know God’s word well. How can we live righteously if we don’t know what is right? Not to mention, why trust man’s words when you could know the truth. Nobody has to trust anyone else’s word if you already know the truth.

Even pastors claim to know the truth but don’t. Go find the truth for yourself. You don’t need to be controlled by any other man if you are controlled by God. God gives us His righteousness when we give Him control. Are we putting on the breastplate of righteousness?

Preparing to Move

“And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” – Ephesians 6:15

Feet were the original form of transportation and many people still use them a lot. The only downside to feet is that people can be greatly hindered if your feet become injured.

God also gave us the Gospel so that we would reach the world so that all would have the opportunity to get saved. As more people get saved, the greater the opportunity to reach the world.

But how do we reach the world without being able to Share the Gospel with others? I am not talking about the different methods of how to share but rather, do you have a method?

*Related Article: Understanding the Great Commission

Due to the fact that the gospel cannot be changed, the only thing that can be prepared is how to share it with others. This verse is specifically saying that without being able to give the gospel for whatever reason, we are removing the protection from our feet.

Since Satan attacks us at our vulnerabilities, the church will end up retreating and thus won’t be able to reach the world as effectively because our feet are not protected. I have heard a statistic that only 2% of Christians know how to share their faith. To me that is embarrassing. God made us His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) to tell the world His message.

What is His message? The gospel says that all have fallen short of God’s holiness because of our sin (Romans 3:23). Then Jesus, the Holy God in the flesh, died and rose again to pay the penalty of our sin (Romans 6:23). Just ask for that free gift of salvation and God will change your sinful heart to be like Him.

The question still remains; do we know how to share the gospel to the unsaved?

Faith 1, Temptation 0

“Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” – Ephesians 6:16

We need to remember that these pieces of armor are to be put on regularly. They are not put on once and done. We do not defeat Satan just because we are saved. Many Christians have been defeated by him by causing them to sin.

The shield of faith is the right response for any temptation. This is why it also might be the most important piece of armor based on the phrase, “Above All,” at the beginning of the verse.

I also know that many Christians do not practice their faith. Either because they are not truly saved or not living like it. Another reason is that so many Christians are crippled by worry.

Philippians 4:6-7 says that we should be anxious for nothing but we should take all of our concerns to God and He will give us peace that passes ALL human understanding. The one thing He always wants us to have is a calm spirit. Is your spirit calm or anxious?

Taking up the Shield of Faith

The shield of faith is also used to protect us from all other fiery darts as. Satan attacks us with many things: compromise, doubt, dissatisfaction, false doctrine, lust, lies, and every other sin.

It takes an act of faith to refuse to act upon those temptations. It takes faith to do the right thing, especially when you do it on your own. Do you trust God to guide you to the right desires or are you just going to compromise at any pressure?

Do you trust God’s promises to take care of His children? Are you satisfied with what God has given you in spite of being surrounded by materialism? Do you trust God enough to study and know true doctrine? Do you trust God with all of your relationships?

Do you trust that God would never lead you in the wrong direction? Putting on the shield of faith is a regular practice. How faithful are you to God?

Do You Know You are Saved?

“And take the helmet of salvation.” – Ephesians 6:17a

Due to the fact that Satan attacks us throughout our entire Christian life, we always need to be prepared. Each piece must be put on regularly. It is not a “once and done” thing. As humans, we take these articles of armor off when we sin. That is why we need to confess and put the armor back on.

This is also true of the helmet of salvation. Not that we could ever lose our salvation, but that we can live like we don’t have it. 1 John 5:13 says we can know we have eternal life.

The Christian’s Armour Sermon

If we can know we have eternal life and yet still sin, we need to actively trust God’s promises for deliverance. It is a lifestyle of knowing you are saved then living like it.

Since God can deliver us from our own sin, is there anything that He can’t deliver us from? Deliverance also implies protection. God just showed me another verse. Psalm 5:12, “For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor, You will surround him as with a shield.”

Compass means to protect on all sides, but what was the qualifier? It is only those that live righteously. Aka, those that wear the armor. Do you know you are saved? And if so, do you live like it?

The Unused Weapon

“And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Ephesians 6:17b

Without all the practical pieces of armor for born again Christians, we will be hindered or defeated by Satan, if we don’t use our sword.

Why is it important to constantly put on the “sword of the Spirit?” Christians need to be prepared. More and more the world system is challenging us in every arena of life. 1 Peter 3:15 says we need to be ready “always” to answer these questions and threats.

How can we answer these questions or threats without knowing what the Word actually says?

The Christian in Full Armor

Considering that biblical literacy is at a record low among Christians, how do we get to know God’s word? The excuse answer is ‘Talk to the pastor.” The biblical response is found in 2 Timothy 2:15. Study God’s word so we will know the Truth.

Many Christians have no idea that they are in the midst of a spiritual war for their soul and mind. If they are not built up or strengthened, Satan will render them ineffective for Christ. Christians need to be fighting to build each other up.

It’s just sad that too many churches are fighting with each other, rendering one another useless. Not to mention the spiritual war for the heart of America. The Christian heritage of America has been almost erased. Are we going to go the way of atheistic and socialistic Europe or worse the Soviet Union?

At what point are we going to wake up and realize the church is losing because we are not using the only weapon at our disposal?

Does Truth Exist?

The world does not even believe that Truth even exists. Why? We are not taking the truth to the world. We have retreated back into our church buildings because that is still acceptable until it isn’t.

The Truth is still true in politics, education, society, law, the home, etc. God told individual Christians to be light and salt to a lost and dying world, by taking all of God’s truth to them as Matthew 5:13-16 says.

That Truth will convert and change hearts as Psalm 19:7 says. He just wants messengers to take the Truth to the world.

*Here’s a short clip of Dr. Frank Turek answering the question: “Is truth true for you but not for me?”

It does not matter what the world says. The scientists say we evolved. God said He made man in His image then we sinned, which brought death. The ACLU says separation of God and Government.

God says righteousness in government exalts a nation (Proverbs 14:34). The Supreme Court says marriage can be almost anything you want it to be. God says marriage is between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:24). The world says we need to stay in church, God says Go and be my ambassadors and proclaim my message by word and deed (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Closing Words

We are in a spiritual warfare and we must put on the whole armor of God in order to stand against the enemy. Jesus has already won the victory through His suffering, death, and resurrection. But while we are still in the flesh and living here on earth, we are constantly under attack by Satan and his demons.

In one sense, “every piece of God’s armor” is a picture of Jesus Christ. Christ is the Truth (John 14:6), He is our righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), and our peace (Ephesians 2:14). His faithfulness makes possible our faith (Galatians 2:20); He is our salvation (Luke 2:30); and He is the word of God (John 1:1, 14).

Putting on the whole armor of God means we are actually putting on Christ.

God’s Generosity and Man’s Jealousy

God’s Generosity and Man’s Jealousy

The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard found in Matthew 20:1-16 deals with a very common human problem – jealousy. Contrast it with God’s generosity and the true meaning of pure grace.

The parable emphasizes a right attitude in service. Note that two kinds of workers were hired that day: those who wanted a contract and agreed to work for a normal wage for a day (Matthew 20:2) and those who had no contract and agreed to take whatever the landowner thought was right.

Man’s Jealousy

Technically, the main lesson of this passage is not about government-set minimum wage, but the application still exists. I think it is interesting that Jesus even mentions how the workers grumbled about their wage because other people did less work for the same money. Does that not sound like today?

When we receive grace, of course, we are very happy and thankful. But why is it that when others receive grace our reaction is the complete opposite? We are unhappy and jealous (envious) because we think they do not deserve it.

Note: Grace is something we receive which we do not deserve.

Often times we tend to compare ourselves with other people in terms of our struggles, trials, difficulties, etc. or in terms of the work we do. But who should be our standard and to whom are we accountable?

Learning to be Content

In the parable, the owner was not obligated to pay those who came in late a full day’s wage but he did it anyway. He gave all the workers the same amount. Of course, those who worked the longest complained! The truth is that they had no argument because they had agreed to work for the normal daily wage. They received what they asked for.

There are a lot of discontent workers that want more money but won’t work harder for it. I think it is funny that Jesus gave employers that choice. That is the employer’s prerogative.

God's Generosity and Man's Jealousy

So the next time Socialists say that God wants equal pay for everyone that is not true. Employers have the right to pay what is agreed upon. God would never condone governments requiring certain wages for anyone as socialists say.

Need more money, work more or get a better job. The God of the universe said that employers have the right to determine an employee’s wage. If you don’t like it, get a new job.

God’s Generosity

The main point of the parable is God’s generosity. God is infinitely generous and gracious and will always give us better than we deserve. Had the early workers trusted the goodness of the owner, they would have received far more.

As God’s children, we should not serve Him because we want to receive and expected a reward. We should not also insist on knowing what we will get. Our loving Father is loving and generous. All that we are and have are gifts from Him, which we do not deserve.

What kind of workers are we in God’s vineyard?

Salvation is for Everyone Who Believes

Jesus was also illustrating in this parable that new believers get saved from the beginning up to the end of time. Some will have less time than others yet the reward is still living with Jesus for all eternity even if you have been saved a long or short time.

Heaven is only heaven because it is Jesus’ home. God is welcoming us into His home. That is an amazing thought. If you have been born again, are you glad you are on your way to heaven? Our thankful spirit should show so that the world will know we are glad to be saved.

God did not save us to be an Eeyore. Do you have that joy in your heart? If not, are you truly saved? Why not turn from your sins and accept Jesus as your personal Savior?

Serving Others First

This passage also continued by Jesus exposing a “Me first” attitude in the disciples (Matthew 20:20-28). Jesus is anything but proud.

All twelve wanted the best two spots in heaven, but Jesus turned it into a teaching moment. I think it is interesting that Jesus did not harshly rebuke them. He lovingly used it as a way to teach them about humility.

Jesus highlighted being a “servant.” The word here means “slave,” and our English word “deacon” comes from it. Not every servant was a slave, but every slave was a servant.

*Read here: Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

Sadly in the church today we have many celebrities but very few servants. There are many who want to “flaunt their authority” (Matthew 20:25), but few who want to take the towel and basin and wash feet.

Many people wrong us, but are we humble enough to try to encourage them in spite of their actions?

God's Generosity and Man's Jealousy

Jesus as the ruler of the universe has every right to be proud but is not. There is no reason for us to be proud toward any other person and yet we are. How humble are you? That humility will lead to showing more and more love and sacrifice for others. How well do you honestly love and serve others?

What We Believe in Life Matters

What We Believe in Life Matters

Do you notice how relativistic our society has become today? Society says that all religions lead to God. Actually, they lead to gods. They say it does not matter that we believe; it does not also matter that we believe different things.

Know what? Jesus came to earth to tell mankind that what we believe in life does matter.

Bible Verse: John 14:6 (NKJV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Reflection

The idea that all religious views are equally valid and all that matters is that we’re sincere in what we believe is so absurd. Sincerely believing in something does not make you right. No matter how sincere you are in your belief that the answer to the mathematical equation two plus two is four does not make you right.

In the same way, sincerely believing that you will go to heaven without Jesus Christ in your life because you and your good deeds are enough does not make your claim true.

Good Enough

It is human nature to think that “I am good enough.” They say it does not matter that the Bible says, “You must be born again” (John 3:3). It does not matter to them that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. They think they are good enough.

Guess what, we aren’t. If we were, there would be no need for the Son to come down to the earth He created, live a life of perfect obedience to the Father and suffer and die on the cross to purchase man’s redemption.

The world needs to hear that they’re dead in their sin and they need a Savior. But many won’t listen. They say it does not matter what the Bible says. But it matters!

God will lead a handful to Himself but have you done your part? Have you told someone the truth recently?

The Challenge

The real problem is that the relativistic mindset has gotten into the minds of Christians. It is true that we have been born again, but since we are still sinners, we still have sin issues. Where is our humility to admit we all have our issues?

We would not be able to criticize other believers if we were humble. Each denomination has its members and pastors that brag about being more right than anyone else. That is just pride.

What You and I Believe Matters

Not to mention, it is beside the point. 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 says it is pointless to be more right than other Christians if you do not have love. Love translates into humility.

If our walk does not match our talk, we are just as bad as the unbelieving Pharisees, who Jesus called hypocrites in the gospels.

It is not the business of any other church or individual to criticize other peoples’ personal standards. I will be honest. I did that for years till God showed me that they are responsible for themselves.

Closing Words

What we believe in life does matter. More importantly, what we believe about the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit matters. Jesus made a strong statement in John 8:24: “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

Jesus claimed to be God and unless you believe He is, you are not going to heaven. Jesus is the only way to heaven and no one comes to the Father but by Him as John 14:6 says.

The next time you hear other people say that it does not matter what they believe, tell them that it does!

Real Joy of the Heart

Real Joy of the Heart

The issue I have seen in the lives of many believers is that they don’t live like they have real joy in their hearts. They have Christ in their lives but they do not seem to be experiencing real joy that is found in Christ alone.

Bible Verse: John 16:22 (NKJV)

“Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.”

Reflection and Challenge

In context, this verse is a part of a conversation between Jesus and His twelve disciples. Jesus was trying to prepare them for His crucifixion, but they were not getting it. They wanted more clarity and Jesus understood this very well.

But Jesus also knew that they needed more than just information; they needed their hearts and mind to be prepared to endure the crisis that was coming. They would be very sorrowful but only to have a sudden change of heart. Because God, by His grace and power, will turn their sorrow into joy.

While the crucifixion and all that went with it seemed like a bump in the road or some kind of obstacle to overcome on the way to fulfilling God’s plan, it was exactly how the plan would be fulfilled.

God Transforms our Sorrows into Joy

There’s a principle laid out in John 16:16-22 and that is this: God brings joy to our lives, not by substitution, but by transformation. Jesus’ illustration of the woman giving birth makes this pretty clear. The same baby that caused the pain also caused the joy.

In birth, God does not substitute something else to relieve the mother’s pain. Instead, He uses what is there already but transforms it. And so it is in the Christian life: God takes seemingly impossible situations, adds the miracle of His grace, and transforms trials into triumphs and sorrows into joy.

God transforms our sorrows into joy

As Spurgeon put it, “It is most remarkable and instructive that in their sermons or epistles the apostles do not appear to have spoken of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ with any kind of regret. Although the Gospels mention their distress during the actual occurrence of the crucifixion, we hear of no such grief after the resurrection, and especially after Pentecost.”

Their extreme sorrow of heart was changed to joy of heart after they realized Jesus rose from the grave. When a person gets saved, he receives a completely changed heart and he can actually experience real joy.

Unlike just happiness, joy is a heart attitude. It cannot be artificially manufactured by great circumstances. Read the middle phrase again. “Your heart will rejoice.” Do you see the root word joy in rejoice?

When Christians Lose Their Joy

The last phrase of John 16:22 says, “True born again Christians cannot lose their joy” (paraphrase). But why are there so many Christians who are like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh? No enthusiasm, gloomy, depressed, or just going through the motions.

I realized that I am talking about people’s heart since I can’t see their hearts. Actually, it’s possible. We can tell what’s in peoples’ hearts by the way they live their lives. Because what’s in their hearts is how they live.

Throughout the Bible, it says that what you actually believe in your heart will show. So if we don’t act like we have found real joy in Christ, perhaps God hasn’t changed our hearts in salvation yet.

Going Through the Motions

Don’t just go through the motions because your denomination says to do so. I have been called “happy go lucky” and “carefree,” because I have a joyous song in my heart.

Unbelievers can’t understand because they don’t have that joy. If you have joy in your heart, it will show in worship, praise, lifestyle, attitudes … EVERYTHING.

Please inspect yourself and find out if real joy is in your heart. If it is, praise God. If not, find out why. You won’t regret it.

Waiting for the Coming of Our Lord

The world today does not want Jesus Christ or His church. The world is rejoicing while we are suffering, longing for our Lord to return. In fact, all of creation is suffering “the pains of childbirth” because of sin, awaiting His return (Romans 8:22)

While the immediate application may have been to the sorrowing hearts of the disciples, the ultimate application is to all of God’s people as they await the second coming of Jesus Christ.

To us, it seems like a long wait, but God does not measure time as we do (2 Peter 3:8). And while we are waiting, we must deal with our trials and hurts on the basis of transformation and not substitution, if we expect to mature as Christians.

Life is War

Life is War

Watching the movie “Indivisible” made me realize even more how life is like war. The harsh realities of war can really take a toll on the mind, on family and friends. War is difficult and there is nothing easy about it.

Bible Verse: 1 Timothy 1:18-19a (NKJV)

“This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience.”

Reflection and Challenge

Timothy was a young man who responded to Christ’s call to help build His church. Along with Titus, he was one of the apostle Paul’s special assistants in the churches that Paul had founded.

Timothy was brought up in a religious home (2 Timothy 1:5) and had been led to faith in Christ by Paul himself. This explains why Paul called Timothy “my true son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2).

But in spite of his close association with Paul, Timothy was easily discouraged. So Paul wrote the letter we call 1 Timothy to encourage Timothy to stay on at Ephesus, to explain how a local church should be managed and to enforce his own authority as a servant of God.

The Soldier’s Task

It was not easy to serve God in pagan Ephesus. The city was devoted to the worship of Artemis, the patroness of the sexual instinct. Her lascivious images helped promote sexual immorality of all kinds.

Paul had done a great work in Ephesus during his three-year ministry, and so the “all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:10). It was not easy for Timothy to follow a man like Paul! Not to forget, Satan has his workers in the city, for wherever there are spiritual opportunities there are also satanic obstacles (1 Corinthians 16:8-9).

Life is War

But Timothy was a man under orders, and he had to obey. The soldier’s task is to “please the officer who enlisted him as soldier” (2 Timothy 2:4), and not to please himself. Furthermore, Timothy was there by divine appointment: God had chosen him and sent him. It was this fact that could give him assurance in difficult days.

Engaging in Spiritual Warfare

As children of God, we are currently in a spiritual warfare. We all live in a war. We all have our own trials and struggles. I remember saying just a few days ago that life is difficult. Between money and bills, relationships and breakups, addiction and peer pressures; they are all difficult. Some might have a depressed attitude or “Woe is me” kind of attitude because they feel alone in their war.

That is the wrong way to look at it. Everyone has problems. Each individual might have a different set of problems but we all have them. Even Jesus had trials. Jesus suffered and died. You cannot be more human than that.

Hebrews 4:15

But Jesus has always responded to those trials with the right attitude and did not sin. Jesus loves you and can relate very well with what you’re going through more than you can imagine. Have you accepted His free gift of forgiveness?

Interestingly, I just finished the series on the Christian Armor (which will be published here very soon), but I missed including “why” we need the armor. Let me just say that this armor is not just for spiritual battles but it also affects how we respond to everyday life.

In the Face of Trials and Struggles

Knowing that everyone has their trials and struggles should affect how we respond to others. At the beginning of the movie “Indivisible,” the spiritual leader came alongside those individuals that were hurting and encouraged them because he loved them and cared for them as God loves us.

Jesus is the perfect example of love and encouragement. It does not matter what you have done; Jesus will take you back. After becoming a Christian, we are supposed to be like Christ. Are you that encouraging?

As the movie continued, God used that spiritual leader to see spiritual fruit in others. You never know how you could affect the spiritual life of another individual. Don’t waste the opportunity to bring someone closer to God.

Everybody Needs Encouragement

As the movie was ending, I was also reminded that spiritual leaders are not immune either. The spiritual leader in the movie had to be encouraged by those he had encouraged. We are all responsible for those around us. Nobody is too high up that we can’t encourage them.

Like Timothy, nobody is immune and so we all need encouragement. Timothy was so devoted to Christ that his local church leaders recommended him to Paul, and Paul added him to his “missionary staff” (Acts 16:1-5).

Yet Timothy was easily discouraged and needed encouragement which Paul gave him in this letters.

One way to think about the sequence of development that we experience in the Christian life is that we begin as “Timothys,” with the goal of growing toward “Paul-like” maturity. Even Paul started out as a “Timothy,” stunned by God’s interruption of his life on the road to Damascus. He suddenly needed an older, wiser believer to walk him through the first steps in his new life, and God assigned that task to Ananias.

Concluding Words

Just for the fact that Jesus is also human, you cannot tell me He does not appreciate hearing us say, “Thank you” or praising God for all He has done and is doing.

If you are God’s servant, called by the Spirit, obeying His will, then you can “stay with it” and finish the work. Having the assurance like Timothy had that you are here by divine appointment, chosen and sent by God, will enable you to “fight well in the Lord’s battles” and finish the work.

How well are you encouraging your team members in this war of life?


*Recommended Resource: 

Indivisible: One Marriage Under God, 50 Devotions
By Robert Noland

Indivisible: One Marriage Under God is a devotional that offers hope and encouragement to anyone in a challenging season of marriage. Based on the movie Indivisible – the true story of an Army chaplain and his wife who rebuild their marriage – this devotional offers 50 entries that include an inspirational message, a Scripture passage, a prayer, guided journaling, and a “Take Action” challenge.

An ideal gift for military couples, newlyweds, and those who want to strengthen their commitment.

Jesus, the Rock of My Salvation

Jesus, the Rock of My Salvation

The Bible tells us that God is the Rock and He is the only rock on which we must build our lives (1 Samuel 2:2). Did you know that the title “Rock” is a Messianic and a divine title?

In Psalm 18:2, David called God “my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my strength in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Jesus claimed to be the Rock, and thereby claimed to be both Messiah and God.

This is also clearly stated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:11, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” When we recognize Jesus as Messiah and Savior we place our lives on Jesus, the Rock of our salvation.

Building on a Solid Foundation

All buildings must be placed upon a strong, solid foundation if they are to endure. The same is true with our lives; if we are to build an enduring life, we must place it on a sure foundation.

In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus gives an illustration of the two builders, the wise and the foolish, who both undertook to build houses. Both of them persevered in building, both finished their houses, and to a considerable extent achieved the same design. (See also Luke 6:46-49.)

Indeed, each house looked the same from the outside. But the real foundation was hidden and was only proven when the storm came and the floods arose. The house that was built on the rock stood firm while that which was built on the sand fell with a great crash.

The Wise and the Foolish Builder

A man’s character can be likened to a house. Every thought is like a piece of timber in that house, every imagination a window that could be well or badly placed and every habit a beam. All these are gathered together and decide how that house is constructed.

Unless one builds his character on the rock-solid foundation of God’s Word, he will surely be swept away by any storm or flood that will come.

How Strong is Your Foundation?

The storm and the flood represent the trials of life. Often times, the trials of life descend upon us either through our own lack of character or because of events in the world. Is the foundation of your house strong enough to withstand the onslaught of the horrendous events of the end times or even your own weaknesses?

Time and the storms of life will prove how strong one’s foundation is, even when it is hidden. It’s pretty easy to assume that this or that person’s foundation is strong based only on what we see on the outside. But we may be surprised when we see who has truly built upon the good foundation.

We are warned that the foundations of our lives will be shaken at some time or another, both now during difficult times and in the ultimate judgment before God. That is why we must test the foundation of our life now rather than later when it is too late to change our destiny.

Where did the foolish builder fail? Definitely not in deliberately seeking a bad foundation, but in taking no time to consider what kind of foundation he was to build upon. He wanted to avoid the hard work of digging deep to ensure a strong foundation and also took a short-range view.

In the end, his fault was not an error of judgment, but thoughtlessness and inconsiderateness.

Staying on Jesus the Rock

For years my grandfather used to say, “Stay on the Rock.” That saying had a literal meaning but I believe he meant it to have a spiritual meaning as well.

Jesus is the Rock; the only true Rock. He is our firm foundation. A rock does not move or change and the truth is that Rock. Jesus is the Truth as John 14:6 says, but are we staying on the Truth?

There are two conditions to stay on the Truth. One, listen to God and His word. Many unbelievers and Christians refuse to listen to wise counsel. They could not care less about what others say, because they are good enough. Their hearts are full of pride.

Jesus is the Rock of My Salvation

Jesus uses the adjectives wise and foolish. A wise man is a listening man. Not filled with pride. The Jews had disdain for the Samaritans but in spite of that the good Samaritan in Luke 10: 30-37 had compassion on a Jew that was robbed and beaten.

Everyone is our neighbor. How much love do we have for people? Everyone has been robbed and beaten by sin. Everyone needs a friend. Why can’t we be friendly?

The second condition to stand on the Truth is to live your life according to the Truth. Doesn’t that imply applying Scripture to our lives? Doesn’t that imply reaching out to those steeped in sin? Or praying for those that are hurting?

It does not matter where people have been, they are still people that need God’s love. Are you a wise or foolish person as Jesus described in Matthew 7?

Obedience to the Word

Our Lord’s emphasis in His illustration of the wise and the foolish builders is on obedience. It is not enough to simply hear God’s Word and call Him “Lord.” It is necessary that we also obey what He commands us to do.

Our profession of faith in Christ will ultimately be tested, and obedience to the Father’s will is the test of true faith in Christ. True faith does not say, “Lord! Lord!” as if believing but then disobey the Lord’s commands (Matthew 7:21).

*Related Article: Blessing Through Obedience

It’s easy to learn a religious vocabulary and even memorize Bible verses and religious songs and yet not obey God’s will. Those who are truly born again have God’s Spirit living within them and will enable them to know and do the Father’s will.

Those who have trusted Christ and have proven their faith by their obedience will have nothing to fear. Founded on the Rock, their house will stand. But those who have professed to trust Christ but have not obeyed God will be condemned.

Closing Thoughts

Many times, seemingly good people seem to build their lives well and wisely in terms of money, friends, material possessions, etc. And while all these things seem good to the human mind, their end can be disastrous without a Rock foundation.

Some people build on their religion or on their church; others build on an organization, on themselves or on another person. But if we are to build a lasting life we will have to build on something more solid than mere humans or ourselves.

We are to build on a firm foundation, Jesus Christ, the solid rock of our salvation!

Like Faith and Practice

Like Faith and Practice

Recently I heard the phrase, “Like faith and practice.” The context was one church would not associate with another church because they did not practice their faith in the same way. I can guarantee you that is the complete opposite of brotherly love. That borders on hate for your fellow brothers and sisters. Not to mention it is anything but humility.

Bible Verse: Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”

Reflection & Challenge

I believe that loyalty is a key ingredient in any friendship. We all want and need someone to count on, especially in difficult times. But we should also beware of acquaintances that always often praise us and tell us what a good friend we are.

True friendships do not depend on such antics – especially if this person wakes us up to do it! Yes, love is always sensitive to other people’s feelings and needs but at the same time, true friends will always say the right thing at the right time in the right way.

Sharpening iron with another iron involves striking, friction and sparks. In the same way, a man can be used to improve and develop his friend, but it may happen through a bit of friction and sparks. And when this happens to us, we must not shy away from critical and constructive criticism.

*Related Article: Why Not Just Friends

We need Christian friends to not only pray for and with us but also to listen, counsel or rebuke us when needed. But sometimes a friend’s counsel may not be perfume but acid. Sparks may fly, but God will give us the light that we need.

Let us not forget that wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy (Proverbs 27:6). We usually learn more by disagreeing than by giving in and refusing to say what we really think.  Ephesians 4:15 says that we must always “speak the truth in love.”


Taking Independence Way Too Far

The problem with “disagreeing” is that some people tend to go too far. Do you know that independent Baptists pride themselves for being independent of any church hierarchy? Each individual church makes their own decisions without influence from other congregations. I believe that is biblical but can this independence be taken too far?

At what point do we sacrifice our pride so that we are able to rub shoulders with Christians that have different views? Or does our independence help us build echo chambers because we don’t allow differences of opinion or practices to challenge our beliefs?

Then I thought about it. Jesus told us to love even our enemies in Luke 10:25-37. But many Christians today tend to look down with their pointed noses on other believers because they live differently. The same is true of churches. They have their own list of church rules or standards and try to force them on other people or churches.

Like Faith and Practice

Why do some Christians and churches feel superior over others who do not hold to the same standards as theirs? Should we only consider brethren those who live their lives exactly the way we do? Someone once asked Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias why there are so many sects or denominations of Christianity.

And this is what he said, “Unity of belief does not always mean uniformity of expression. What ultimately determines whether one is a Christian is if they know Jesus in their heart.”

In this video, Dr. Ravi Zacharias explains how unity in beliefs does not always mean uniformity of expression using Roman Catholicism as an example.

Closing Thoughts

Romans 14:12 says we are accountable to God. This we are only responsible to Him as well. We have no right to tell others how to live their lives or to think we are better than a different body of believers. Personal standards of individual believers are just that personal. They are only between the individual and God. Isn’t it time we stop hating our brethren and living out the love of Jesus?

As the Jews hated the Samaritans, we are doing the same thing over petty practice differences. Are we not playing for the same team? This individual I know even admitted “like faith” between the two churches.

At what point are we going to love our brethren and local bodies to the point of trying to encourage and sharpen believers that are different from us? Isn’t it time to lay down our differences and actually work together? What a novel idea?

Man’s Opinions vs. God’s

Man’s Opinions vs. God’s

It is human nature to seek approval from those people around us; especially those people we value the most. Why? Why do you care about what other people think? Why do we base our value on what others’ opinions are?

Bible Verse: John 1:11-12 (NKJV)

“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

Reflection and Challenge

When Jesus came into the world, why did the world reject Him? Because they didn’t recognize Him. It sounds strange that when God came to the world He created and to the creatures made in His image, the world did not know Him.

That is because they were spiritually ignorant. Jesus is the “true light” (John 1:9) – the original of which every other light is a copy – but the Jews were content with the copies. They were taught that because they had Moses and the Law, the Temple, and the sacrifices, they had all they need.

They did not comprehend that all these were just shadows of the coming fulfillment and completion of the Old Testament religion. Sadly, their ignorance arose from their refusal to value and listen to God’s revelation of Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.

Man’s Opinion vs. God’s

Some might say, “I don’t need to prove anything to you.” But the fact remains that people generally value man’s opinions over God’s. We care more about what other people think and say.

There are different terms for this definition, but what does God call it? God calls it the “fear of man.” It is human nature that we are far more interested in what other people think that what God thinks about a matter.

Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” Trusting Jesus is also the same as fearing God. When you seek God by trusting Him and valuing what He has to say through His revealed word, that is Godly fear.

Man's opinions vs. God's

Ecclesiastes 12:13 implies that it does not matter what anyone says about you if you are doing God’s will. If those people around you cannot value you based on God’s criteria, you don’t need them.

Some “spiritual-sounding” Christians might say that we have no value because we are dirty, rotten sinners that don’t deserve anything good. Well, that’s true. But that is not the whole picture. It does not take into account that every person was created by God and Jesus came to earth to save them.

If God did not value you, He would not have done that.

Always base your Value on the Truth    

After watching the new movie, “Captain Marvel,” I was reminded that every person bases their life on lies. But if we ever base our value on the truth, we will be set free and nobody can take that away from us.

This is what John 1:11-12 is all about. Since the Jews wanted to believe the lies rather than Jesus, those that believe and live according to the truth found in Jesus, God gave the Holy Spirit and they become heirs of God.

It does not matter what anyone says about you if you are right with God. If you are born again, your Dad owns it all. You are an heir to all the wealth, power, health, a perfect body, etc. Maybe we don’t have those things now, but the Holy Spirit is the down payment of all the blessings to come in the future.

Man's opinions vs. God's

I must admit that life is not at all easy. We all face trials and when that happens, it gets easy for us to get distended off of Jesus and our eternal home with God. When we get distracted by the shallow opinions of others, we are selling ourselves short for a temporary friend.

Jesus should be our best friend. He will always be there for us, to encourage or challenge us depending on the circumstances.

Closing Words

Let me just say that you and you alone are responsible to Jesus for your actions. So live up to your full potential by living according to His words.

Instead of caring more about what other people think, tell them about God’s wonderful gift of salvation. Are you loving people in general? Are you being patient with others? Are you encouraging other believers to use their spiritual gifts? Are you learning more from God’s word?

If we are living according to God’s word, we won’t have time to concern ourselves with the opinion of others.

God bless!

When Christians Play With Fire

When Christians Play With Fire

We all know that when we play with fire we can get burned; we might even die as a result. But why is it that there are Christians who play with fire?

Bible Verse: James 1:15 (NKJV)

“Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

Reflection and Challenge

Disobedience gives birth to death, not life. For a sin to mature may take years; however, when it does, the result will be death. This progression to death is an inevitable result that the enemy (Satan) always tries to hide from us, but we should never be deceived about.

If we would only believe in God’s Word and envision this final tragedy, we would not yield to temptation.

The world is burning. Anyone with half a brain can see that evil is rampant throughout the world and it is totally consuming the world. That is to be expected since the world enjoys their sin. They don’t realize they are hurting themselves and will end up in hell if they don’t repent.

When Christians Play with Fire

But that is not the real problem. The real problem is lightless and saltless Christians. You’re probably thinking those are not even words. You would be right.

Well, Paul made up words in the New Testament too. So I am in good company. That is why I use them; use them for emphasis. Lightless, saltless Christians are oxymorons. They should not exist. There are too many so-called Christians that live oxymoronic lives.

*Related Article: Death Penalty for Sin, Eternal Life in Christ

Nominal and Carnal Christians

Are there such nominal and carnal Christians? It is true that all Christians are still sinners and they will struggle with sin, but I am referring to the completely ineffective “so-called’ Christians that claim God but don’t live the way they should.

People call me judgmental for questioning whether these type of individuals are even born again because the Bible says there will be evidence of salvation (Matthew 7:15-20). As a born again Christian, we are going to live like it. We don’t get to claim to be a follower of God while enjoying our sin.

When Christians Play with Fire

God saved us to change us into His image. Holier, sinless, righteous and exhibiting a changed life. As much as sin is consuming this world, it will also burn weak Christians. Sin is a choice. We choose to play with fire.

This is a personal matter between you and God though. God does not teach a church or pastor to give us a laundry list of standards. Your personal standard of holiness, that is going to change over time is just that PERSONAL.

Pastors have no business telling you how to live. The Holy Spirit is our only perfect, unbiased guide. All people are biased toward their personal standards. That means we need to be in tune with the Holy Spirit when most aren’t.

Final Thoughts

Satan’s strategy in temptation is to convince believers that the pursuit of their corrupt desires will somehow produce life and goodness for them. So in order to effectively resist the deceptions of temptation, we must always remember that Satan only comes to kill, steal and to destroy (John 10:10).

We all struggle with sin. We all need this reminder occasionally. We all need to talk to God about it. Why not talk to Him now?


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Why Not Just Friends?

Why Not Just Friends?

Over the last few years, I have come to realize the phrase “just friends” is a lie. In the modern vernacular it actually means “just acquaintances.” Most of the time for me, after getting put in the “friend” zone, I never hear from or talk to them again. That is not a friend. That borders on an enemy.

Bible Verse: Proverbs 18:24 (NKJV)

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Reflection and Challenge

While it’s usually true that “a multitude of counselors” assures a wise decision, at the same time, we must avoid running from friend to friend asking for advice. This may indicate that we’re trying to find somebody who will tell us what we want to hear!

We need more than friends; we must have a friend who will stand by us and “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). We can tell a “real friend” by how close he or she is in adversity.

My Story

I am a Christian millennial, but I do not understand why we are putting off marriage or even just friendship. If my assessment is accurate, Christian singles classes always have two cliques: the boy clique and the girl clique. If I didn’t know any better, the Red Sea has been parted.

In my previous post, I shared about my failed relationship with Jo Ann and how I ended up brokenhearted. So now that I have reentered the single category again, my dad gave me some wisdom. “Start as friends.” He heard that from Christian counselors.

They are not talking about the “just friend” category though. You wonder why the homosexual and lesbian population is exploding, all of our friends are of the same sex and we have forgotten how to have relationships with the opposite sex.

One aspect of this problem is we have forgotten how to be friendly towards the opposite sex. Isn’t it interesting how friendly and friends have the same root word?

That is where Proverbs 18:24 comes in. Jesus is the perfect example. If you are a born again Christian, Jesus is supposed to be your best, best friend even if you are a woman. Jesus knows everything about you. Do you have any opposite-sex friends that know everything about you? Doubt it.

Why Not Just Friends

This is why I try to be an open book to everyone. The problem I come across is so few people want to read me. That would mean they would have to be friendly to get to know me. I am not talking about chit chat or small talk either. Nobody gets to know anyone with those.

Another example would be the numerous times that my sister and I have been mistaken for being husband and wife because we spend a lot of time together. Whatever happened to a male and female spending quality time together without assuming a serious relationship?

Honestly, I believe women are way better at conversations than men. That is why I have way more female friends than male friends. You cannot have a good friendship without in-depth conversations.

As I said before without in-depth conversations, we end up judging a book by its cover, because we have no idea what their pages say.

We all have a story to tell. If you listen to theirs, they might listen to yours.


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