Category: Bible Reflection & Challenge

Trusting God in Perilous Times

Trusting God in Perilous Times

Over the last two thousand years, Christians have been harshly persecuted and even killed for meeting together. The Fox’s Book of Martyrs is filled with many stories of fellow Christians being murdered for trusting Jesus as their Savior.

I know that many times Christians met in the dark or underground in communist countries like China or in Saudi Arabia where freedom to practice other religions besides Islam is prohibited, so they could hide from being found.

Yet, they still choose to meet together. They are trusting God even in perilous times. I’d say that is some serious faith because they trust God enough to meet together despite the risk of being punished or killed. Where has that type of faith gone?

Bible Verses:

Luke 18:8b; Matthew 24:7; Hebrews 10:25

“Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” – Luke 18:8b

“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.” – Matthew 24:7

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:25

Intended Readers of Hebrews: Persecuted Christians

Although scholars and theologians do not necessarily agree as to the authorship of the epistle to the Hebrews, it is apparent that the recipients were believers (Hebrews 3:1) who had come to faith through the testimony of eyewitnesses of Christ (Hebrews 2:3). They were not new converts (Hebrews 5:12) and they had successfully endured hardships because of their stand for the gospel (Hebrews 10:32-34).

Unfortunately, they had become “dull of hearing” and were in danger of drifting away. This made them particularly susceptible to the renewed persecutions that were coming upon them, so the author found it necessary to check the downward spiral with a word of exhortation.

Participation in the Local Church

The ultimate reason that we should participate in a local church is that it is specifically commanded by God. It is the will of Christ that His disciples should assemble together for the worship of God and mutual edification. But it seems that even in the New Testament days some yielded to the temptation of absenting themselves from the worship services of the local church.

Trusting God in Perilous times

The writer of Hebrews points out that members of a local church have an obligation to one another. They are to provoke one another to good works and to exhort one another to live consistent lives worthy of God. This can best be done within the context of a local church, so believers are commanded not to forsake the assembling of themselves together.

Canceling Church in Perilous Times

Recently I have seen numerous churches cancel their regular gathering over a new strain of flu. At what point did Christians start listening to scientists or politicians when we are allowed to worship?

Faithful Christians did not listen to dictators. We are in a free country, so why now? I am shocked! Pastors are commending to not worship together, and congregations are not demanding a prayer meeting for God’s intervention or a time of worship.

Am I watching Luke 18:8 happen before my eyes? Have we forgotten that before the return of Christ, Matthew says there will be many pestilences? Maybe I should call them in modern terminology viruses or bacteria. It’s not as if this is the first time we are hearing of these things. Haven’t we experienced these before? And yes, these will result in pandemics before Christ’s return. Will we meet then?

It’s been over two thousand years since Jesus walked the earth. We have never been this close to Jesus’ return than now. Shouldn’t we be meeting more and more as Hebrews 10:25 says? How much do you trust God in these perilous times?


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Life According to the Truth Book Summary

Do you know what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? Did you know that God wants to prepare you during this life to live in heaven with Him? Does your purpose for life evade you?

In Life According to The Truth, a follower of Jesus Christ, Michael Heilman honestly writes to the issues facing the church and how to live the victorious Christian life.

Michael expounds on biblical principles God has applied to his life and led to God’s blessing in many areas of his life. With illustrations, humor, and most importantly scripture, he explains to any born again believer who is spiritually wandering through life, how to be spiritually blessed by God as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

In this devotional Bible study, you will be enlightened in regards to:

  • Why God must be the key focus of your life
  • How to love God
  • How to love others
  • How to discern God’s will for your life
  • How to be confident with your identity in Jesus Christ

Life is difficult, but God can enable you to have abundant Joy. If you are a born-again believer that needs encouragement, this book is for you.

Jesus, the Fulfillment of God’s Promise

Jesus, the Fulfillment of God’s Promise

In the Old Testament, God made many promises to Abraham and to the nation of Israel as a whole. But if there is one promise that should make New Testament believers excited is the promise made by God to Abraham that He would make him a channel of great blessings not only to his own family and future descendants but to all the families of the earth.

Has this promise been fulfilled? Indeed! The Lord Jesus is the fulfillment of all the promises made to Abraham and to his spiritual descendants. In all that Jesus did and said He sought to please His Father in heaven and to bring Him glory.

Bible Verses: Genesis 12:1-3 & Matthew 17:1-3

Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you, and in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3).

Jesus is the Fulfillment of God's Promises

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him (Matthew 17:1-3).

Reflection and Meditation

As we read in the verses quoted above, there is a condition to the promise. This shows that while God’s love is unconditional, all His promises come with a condition.

In the case of God’s promise to bless Abraham, his descendants and all nations of the earth, the condition for its fulfillment was simple and straightforward: “Go from your family and country to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1).

Abraham not only believed in God’s promise, he promptly obeyed and did as the Lord commanded him. God chose Abraham as His instrument of blessing – that through him and his descendants would come the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ who would reveal the glory and blessing of God’s kingdom, and bring salvation for all who would call upon His name.

Jesus, the Fulfillment of God’s Promise

The Lord Jesus came to fulfill all that Moses and the prophets spoke. Like Abraham, He was ready to part with anything that might stand in the way of doing the will of God. Jesus knew that the success of His mission would depend on His willingness to embrace His Father’s will no matter what it might cost Him personally.

On three occasions, Jesus told His disciples that He would undergo suffering and death on a cross to fulfill the mission the Father gave Him. As the time draws near for Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on the cross, He takes three of His beloved disciples to the top of a high mountain. And there He was transfigured before them with Moses and Elijah, overlooking the summit of the Promised Land.

Matthew’s gospel tells us that Jesus’ face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as light (Matthew 17:2).

The Glory of Jesus Revealed

Why did Jesus appear in dazzling light with Moses and Elijah? The book of Exodus tells us that when Moses had met with God on Mount Sinai the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God (Exodus 34:29).

The apostle Paul wrote that the Israelites could not look at Moses’ face because of its brightness (2 Corinthians 3:7). After Elijah, the greatest of all the prophets had destroyed all the priests and idols of Baal in the land, he took refuge on the mountain of God at Sinai.

There God showed Elijah His glory in great thunder, whirlwind, and fire, and then spoke with him in a still quiet voice. God asked Elijah, “What are you doing here?” And then directed him to go fulfill the mission given him by God.

Jesus is the Fulfillment of God's Promises

Jesus, likewise, appears in glory with Moses and Elijah, as if to confirm with them that He, too, is ready to fulfill His mission. Jesus went to the mountain knowing full well what awaited Him in Jerusalem – betrayal, rejection, and crucifixion.

Jesus very likely discussed this momentous decision to go to the cross with Moses and Elijah. God the Father also spoke with Jesus and gave His approval: “This is My beloved Son; listen to Him” (Matthew 17:5).

The Father glorified His son because He was faithful and willing to obey Him in everything. The cloud which overshadowed Jesus and His apostles fulfilled the dream of the Jews that when the Messiah came the cloud of God’s presence would fill the temple again (see Exodus 16:10; 19:9; 33:9; 1 Kings 8:10).

Jesus Christ is the Way to Glory

The Lord Jesus not only wants us to see His glory; He wants to share His glory with us. And Jesus shows us the way to the Father’s glory. All we need to do is follow Him and obey His words.

Jesus fulfilled His mission of Calvary where He died for our sins so that Paradise and everlasting life would be restored to us. He embraced the cross to win a crown of glory; a crown that awaits each one of us, if we, too, will follow in His footsteps.

Jesus’ Followers are Partakers of His Glory

Luke’s gospel tells us that while Jesus was transfigured, Peter, James, and John were very sleepy, and when they were fully awake they saw His glory along with Moses and Elijah (Luke 9:32).

How much are we missing of God’s glory and action because we often get sleepy spiritually? Many things can keep our minds asleep to the things of God, such as mental lethargy, a very comfortable life, and even sorrow. These things can keep us from thinking things through and facing our doubts and questions.

Are you spiritually awake? Peter, James, and John were privileged witnesses of the glory of Christ. But as disciples of Jesus Christ, we, too, are called to be witnesses of His glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The Lord wants to reveal His glory to us, His beloved disciples. Do you seek His presence with faith and reverence?

Let us desire to see the glory of God and pray that the Lord Jesus will always keep us alert to Him, to His word, action, and presence in our lives.


Right Motives vs. Wrong Motives

Right Motives vs. Wrong Motives

Everyone, whether they know it or not, has motives. Everyone has their own reasons why they act a certain way and why they do the things they do. Well, motives can be right or wrong. But how do we determine between the two?

Bible Verse: Ephesians 6:5-7

“Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; 6 not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.”

Reflection

Many people today base their decisions on how they feel. That is a very dangerous place to be since our feelings change on a whim.

Societal logic can change over time. Each society is unique in its own ways as well. Some societies think murdering their children in abortion is good when other societies love their children. What is the one foundation that does not change?

Malachi 3:6 says God does not change. Psalm 119:89 says God’s word does not change. In so many words, they do not change. We can trust them to be true. Do you trust them enough base your decisions on them?

Working as Servants of Jesus

The word “bondservants” (or slaves) in Ephesians 6:5, undoubtedly refers to Christian servants, and servants are obedient “as they would serve Christ.” However, we may certainly apply these words to the Christian employee today.

Ephesians 6:7 says we are to render good service to our employer (master), as to the Lord. This means that all our work, or everything we do, is really done unto the Lord, not unto man. Doing a good job is the will of God. Christianity knows nothing out of sacred and secular.

Working as Servants of Jesus

A Christian can perform any good work as a ministry to Christ, to the glory of God. For this reason, the worker must do his job “with enthusiasm,” since he is serving Christ and doing the will of God.

But in order for us to render good service, first, we need to know how to serve God properly. Do you know what God desires of us? Since the Bible is God’s Life Manual, wouldn’t it be possible we would find God’s desires in it? Are we spending enough time to read God’s Word in order to cultivate biblical motives in our lives?

The Motives of the Heart: Right vs. Wrong

I’ve written about the deceitfulness of the heart and why we must not completely rely on it. The heart has the ability to lead us astray if we follow it blindly without first consulting God, either through His written word or prayer. Why? It’s because the heart has its motives: right or wrong.

Some of the wrong motives include pleasing men to earn their salvation. Based on God’s Word in Ephesians 2:8-9 and Ephesians 6:6, those are wrong motives. Do you only care about pleasing people?

Are you one of those who work hard only while the boss is watching? And when the boss steps out of the room you go back to doing some personal things? This is happening today. How many times have I read complaints against (government) employees who’d rather be on social media instead of attending to their customers’ needs?

Colossians 3:17

You may ask, “What then are some right motives?”

To have the right motives as workers mean doing our job in a way that does not only make our boss happy with our service, but it also pleases God. It means working with a good attitude and without complaining. Every Christian must work hard and gives his employer a full day’s work for his pay. To do anything less is to steal from your employer.

Before salvation, it is impossible to please God, because we are not able to have the right motives. Only after salvation is anyone able to have godly motives. Matthew 22:37-39, John 14:15, and 1 Corinthians 10:31 are three passages that should teach us how to live for God in general.

Challenge for the Christian Employee

If we are genuinely born again believers, shouldn’t we want to glorify God? If we are genuinely saved, shouldn’t we want to follow His Word? If we are genuinely saved, shouldn’t we want to love God and love others? It does not matter what unbelievers or carnal Christians say. You are not accountable to them.

Since we still have a sinful nature, we need to choose to have godly motives. What are your motivations? Do they glorify God or do they fulfill your selfish desires?

Why Do Wicked People Prosper?

Why Do Wicked People Prosper?

In Psalm 73, Asaph expressed his struggles and doubts which are similar to those we find in the book of Job. Why do wicked people prosper and the righteous suffer? In the first verse (Psalm 73:1), the psalmist affirmed that “God is” so he was not an atheist or an agnostic, and he was certain that the God he worshiped was good.

Furthermore, he knew that the Lord had made a covenant with Israel that promised blessings if the people obeyed Him (Leviticus 26:1-13; Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Deuteronomy 30:1-20).

But it was these foundational beliefs that created the problem for him because he observed that the unbelievers don’t face problems “like everyone else” (Psalm 73:5). If the Lord was good and kept His covenant promises, why were His people suffering and the wicked prospering?

When the Wicked Prosper

How often do we see the ungodly shamelessly flaunting their perverted lifestyle during gay rights parades on the evening news? They neglect what God has to say about it (Romans 1:24-28). Take a look at this photo taken in Tel Aviv, Israel in a Gay Pride Parade. Yes, the very nation where Christianity started; God’s chosen nation. 

Why Do Evil People Prosper

And what about those who support abortion and claim that a woman’s right to choose is greater than the life of “unwanted tissue?” They too, neglect what God has to say about life in the womb (Isaiah 44:2). Worse, there are people in the government today who has gone to the extreme of legalizing late-term abortions. 

Yet they seem to be worry-free and are enjoying a wonderful life compared to those who choose to live in accordance with what the Word of God says. When our system of justice seems to abandon all standards of morality, where do God’s people make their appeal?

While we cannot deny the goodness of God in our everyday lives, it is also undeniable that God is good (perhaps too good) to the wicked and proud, thus making it easy for some of us to envy the wicked and their prosperity.

If God is good and just, the plans of the wicked should not succeed, they should be punished and only the righteous should prosper. But that is not what Asaph saw (Psalm 73:12), and it is not what we see either. We see the wicked enjoying the same prosperity, oftentimes more prosperous than God’s people.

This then can cause one to question what the reward of godliness is.

Doubt vs. Unbelief

There is a difference between doubt and unbelief. Doubt comes from a struggling mind, while unbelief comes from a stubborn will that refuses surrender to God. The unbelieving person will not believe, while the doubting person struggles to believe.

Based on the evidence he saw around him, Asaph came to the wrong conclusion that he had wasted his time and energy maintaining clean hands and a pure heart. If he had ever read the book of Job, then he had missed its message, for we serve God, not for what we get out of it but because He is worthy of our worship and service regardless of what He allows to come to our lives.

Satan has a commercial view of the life of faith and encourages us to serve God for what we can get from Him, and Asaph bought into that philosophy. Although he knew that what he said about God in the first verse of his Psalm is true, it has always been and will always be true, still, his feet almost slipped (Psalm 73:2).

But before going public with his unbelief and resigning his office, Asaph paused to consider the consequences. How would the younger believers in the land respond if one of the three sanctuary worship leaders turned his back on the Lord, the covenants and the faith (Psalm 73:15)?

To abandon the faith would mean undermining all that he had taught and sung at the sanctuary! The more he pondered the problem the more his heart was pained (Psalm 73:21-22). So he decided to go to the sanctuary and spend time with the Lord in worship.

Godly Life vs. Godless Life

Asaph got a new perspective on the problem when he considered, not the surrounding circumstances, but the destiny before him. He realized that what he saw in the lives of the prosperous, ungodly people was not a true picture but only pretense (Psalm 73:20).

As we continue to Psalm 73:23-28, we see the striking contrast between Asaph’s picture of godly life and the godless life described in Psalm 73:4-12). The ungodly impress each other and attract admirers, but they don’t have God’s presence with them.

The Lord upholds the righteous but casts down the wicked (Psalm 73:18). The righteous are guided by God’s counsel (Psalm 73:24) but the ungodly are deluded by their own fantasies. The destiny of the true believers is glory, but the destiny of the unbelievers is destruction (Psalm 73:19, 27).

Why does God let Evil People Prosper

True Riches Are Found in God Alone

The possessions of the ungodly are but idols that take the place of the Lord, and idolatry is harlotry (Exodus 34:15-16; 1 Chronicles 5:25).

Even death cannot separate God’s people from His blessing, for the spirit goes to heaven to be with the Lord, and the body waits in the grave for resurrection (Psalm 73:25-26; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Justice is Coming

Whenever we face problems and conflicts in our lives, we want to take control and make things happen. But we need to realize that God is just (Psalm 25:8) and vengeance belongs to Him (Psalm 94:1).

Do you feel bad seeing the wicked prosperous and they seem to get away with everything? Don’t fret! A day is coming when all will be set right. When we come before the Supreme Court of Heaven, there is no Fifth Amendment, no jury or evidence tampering, no deception, no fraud, and no dream team of lawyers.

In our Father’s Supreme Court, there is only truth and holiness. There, the Lord will be the defense and the Rock of refuge for the righteous or He will bring on the wicked their own iniquity and cut them off in their wickedness.

Will God be your defender and refuge? Or will He cut you off? Find rest from adversity by following the laws of our Supreme Court Judge.

How to Live in the Light of God

How to Live in the Light of God

In the Parable of the Lamp (Mark 4:21-25), our Lord used a common object (a lamp) in a familiar scene (a home). The lamp was a clay dish filled with oil, with a wick put into the oil. In order to give light, the lamp had to “use itself up,” and the oil had to be replenished. If the lamp was not lit, or if it was covered up, it did the home no good.

It’s the same thing with Christians, whom Jesus referred to as the light of the world; they are to let their light shine for all to see (Matthew 5:14-16). But to be a light of the world, we must live in the light. So how does one live in the light of God?

The Lamp and the Kingdom of God

What does the image of light and a lamp tell us about the kingdom of God? Lamps in the ancient world served a vital function, much like they do today. They enable people to see and work in the dark and to avoid stumbling or losing their way.

*Related Article: Out of Darkness into Light

The Jews also understood “light” as an expression of the inner beauty, truth, and goodness of God. We see many passages from the Old Testament Scriptures that describe how God’s light guides and helps us grow in our knowledge of Him and His truth and wisdom for our lives. (See Psalm 36:9 and Psalm 119: 105.)

How to Live in the Light of God

Living in the Light of God

Ever asked why the Lord calls us the light of the world? Why has Jesus compared us to a city on a hill? Are we not called to shine in the midst of darkness, and stand up high for those most sunk down?

If you hide your lamp beneath a bushel, you will soon notice that you yourself will be in the dark. You will find others bumping into you. So what can you do to illumine the world?

1. By being a light-bearer of God’s truth and love.

Having received the Light (Jesus) and His truth, we are not to hide, suppress, or destroy it. Rather, we must let it prevail. We have the solemn responsibility to spread it in whatever way as God gives us the opportunity. But then you may say, “I don’t think I can.”

Of course, it will not be easy if we are trying to do it on our own. But if we allow God’s grace, truth, and power to work in us, He will enable us to be a light-bearer without fear or reservation. God will also fill us with His Holy Spirit so that we may shine brightly with the radiance of His truth, love, and goodness.

Just as natural light prevails over the darkness around us and enables us to see clearly, so the light of Christ in us will shine in the hearts of all and enable them to hear and believe God’s Word. We just have to trust and obey God.

2. By being a witness for Christ.

Jesus called John the Baptist “a burning and shining lamp” (John 5:35) because he bore witness to God’s word and pointed others to Jesus, the true light and Savior of the world.

Our call and mission, like John the Baptist, is to be a witness for Christ so that many others may hear the Gospel (good news of Jesus Christ) and be set free from the blindness of sin, ignorance, and deception.

3. Let your faith produce good works.

Be a reflection of God’s light. The good is not preoccupied with darkness. It rejoices in being seen (John 3:21). It exults over the very pointing which are made at it. Christian modesty not only wishes to be modest but also wishes to be beheld as what it actually is.

No other than the apostle James said faith that does not produce good works is dead (James 2:26). However, I must clarify that the Bible does not teach we are saved by good works. Rather, good works come as a result of genuine faith, and it is genuine faith that saves.

Be Careful Little Ears What you Hear

How to Live in the Light of God There is a warning in Mark 4:24-25: “You must take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”

In other words, the more we hear the Word of God, the better we are able to share it with others. But we must pay close attention to what we hear as well as know what we hear (Luke 8:18). Because our spiritual hearing determines how much we have to give to others.

Christians should do well to put themselves under good teachers. We are to choose a spiritual family whose leaders teach the whole counsel of God. And upon hearing the Word, we must receive it with gladness.

When we have the godly habits of receiving God’s Word and living it, we will grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.

Results of Living in the Light

Jesus remarks that nothing can remain hidden or secret. We can try to hide things from others, from ourselves, and from God. How tempting to shut our eyes from the consequences of our sinful ways or bad habits, even when we know what those consequences are.

How tempting to hide them from others and even from God. But, nonetheless, everything is known to God who sees all.

There is great freedom and joy for those who live in God’s light and who seek His truth and goodness. Those who listen to God and heed His voice will receive more from Him.

They will not lack what they need to live as Christ’s disciples. And they will shine as lights that show the wisdom and truth of God’s word. Do you know the joy and freedom of living in God’s light and truth?

Why is the Heart Deceitful?

Why is the Heart Deceitful?

We are exhorted by the Word of God to not lean on our own understanding, but to trust in the Lord with all our heart (Proverbs 3:5). Yet, oftentimes, we choose to trust our own heart; we choose to trust ourselves. Do you know that trusting the heart is just another way of trusting in man?

Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Now, why did the prophet Jeremiah say this? Why did he warn the people to be cautious about the directions and inclinations of the heart?

It has everything to do with what happened to the people of Judah. Instead of giving their devotion and obedience to the true and living God, who had blessed them, the Jews followed the dictates of their evil hearts which eventually led them astray.

The Folly of Trusting You Own Heart

It’s interesting that the Bible calls it foolishness to trust and follow your own heart.

The heart of every problem is the problem in the heart. Indeed, our heart often deceives us. It convinces us that heart-fulfillment is the key to happiness. Our heart tells us that if we would just be true to it and fulfill all its desires then we will be happy. However, what we desire is often not what we need.

But the human heart is not only deceitful but also desperately wicked. By following their heart without judging it by the measure of God’s truth, many people have been led to disobedience, rebellion, and eventually great sorrow. I’d say the advice to “always follow your heart” is not good advice at all.

God Has Given Us a New Heart

As believers under the New Covenant, we have a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26), we have been made a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and have become a new man according to the image of our Creator (Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24).

Ezekiel 36:26

Although there are still some elements of sin and flesh remaining in us and we still have to deal with inward deceit and wickedness, we can be confident that the Lord will give us the strength and grace to overcome. We just need to trust in the Lord to guide and lead us and allow Him to carry out His plans and purpose in our lives.

God searches the heart and mind and knows exactly how to reward each one of us. If we want to know how our hearts are like, we must read the Word and let the Spirit teach us.

God is Continually Transforming Our Hearts

In Philippians 2:12-13, the apostle Paul exhorts us to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling because it is God who is working in us.”

A very important note in regard to this verse. Paul is definitely not saying that we must work to earn our salvation. Rather, Paul calls the Philippians (and every believer today) to put forth real effort into their Christian lives. The Christian is to make evident in every area of their lives the salvation that God has given them freely.

God does not automatically make you a sanctified Christian. You have to put the work into it to foster that relationship with God.

It’s kind’ a like a plant. After a seed is planted in fertile soil, it sprouts. That is when salvation occurs, but it is only a baby plant. Now, it needs to grow, but if it does not have the right conditions, it can’t grow.

We need the water of the Word and sunlight. God is described in many places in the Bible as being the Light (Psalm 27:1; Isaiah 60:19; John 8:12; 1 John 1:5). We need an unobstructed view of the Light. We need to make sure we do not have any obstructions in our view.

God is our main priority, our main focus. And our main motive is our love for God. You may want to read Deuteronomy 5:29 again.

Has God Changed Your Heart?

As people, we are predisposed to sin. Why? It’s because our hearts desire to sin. We are not able to change that. Romans 7:18 says “nothing good dwells in men.” So when God saves us, He saves us by first allowing our hearts to change.

As I said earlier, sanctification is not automatic after salvation. We did not automatically get a heart for God the moment we got born again. Rather, we need to allow God to work in us and through us. And it starts by submitting to the will of God as shown by our obedience to Him and His commandments.

In his appeal to Israel, Moses urged the people to remember the majesty of God and respect the Word of God. He quoted Yahweh’s own words, “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever” (Deuteronomy 5:29)!

Obedience is always a matter of the heart, and if we love the Lord, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15, 21-24). There is no conflict between the greatness of God and the grace of God, His transcendence and His immanence, for we can love the Lord and fear the Lord with the same heart (Psalm 2:10-12; 34:8-9).

Why is the Heart Deceitful?

As God changes our hearts, we will fear Him more and more. When we love Him, we will keep His commandments. God does not want us to be petrified of Him. He is our Father.

Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’”

We are children of God and He wants to bless us for our obedience. Jesus said in Matthew 11:29-30 that we can “swap our burden of sin, for His burden is light.” Why? It’s because we want to live for Him.

Are you serious about putting your heart, soul, mind, and strength into loving God? If not, why not start now? God has done so much for you, how are you going to say thank you to Him?

Closing Words

Why is the human heart deceitful and wicked? Because it often desires things that are contrary to what God wants for us. And if we let our own hearts make decisions without taking into consideration what the Word of God says, we will be led astray.

Let us learn from the Jewish people who allowed their hearts to turn away from the Lord and His truth. Consequently, they made unwise decisions and plunged the nation into ruin.

What is the Good News of the Kingdom of God?

What is the Good News of the Kingdom of God?

In Mark 1:14-15, we read that after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of God, saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

The Gospel of God

John 3:16As soon as John the Baptist had finished his testimony, Jesus began His in Galilee, His home district. John’s enemies had sought to silence Him, but the gospel cannot be silenced.

What is the Gospel of God which Jesus came to preach? The word “gospel” literally means “good news.”

When a king had good news to deliver to his subjects he sent messengers or heralds throughout the land to make a public announcement – such as the birth of a newborn king or the victory over an invading army or occupied force.

God sent His prophets to announce the coming of God’s anointed King and Messiah.

After Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan and anointed by the Spirit He begins His ministry of preaching the Gospel – the good news that the kingdom of God was now at hand for all who were ready to receive it.

The Kingdom of God

Jesus proclaimed that the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Jesus takes up John’s message of repentance and calls His disciples to believe in the gospel – the good news He has come to deliver.

What is the good news?

It is the good news of peace (restoration of relationship with God as Ephesians 6:15 says), of hope (the hope of heaven and everlasting life – Colossians 1:23), of truth (God’s word is true and reliable – Colossians 1:5), of promise (He rewards those who seek Him – Ephesians 3:6), of immortality (God gives everlasting life – 2 Timothy 1:10), and the good news of salvation (liberty from sin and freedom to live as sons and daughters of God – Ephesians 1:13).

God sent us His Son not to establish an earthly kingdom but to bring us into His heavenly kingdom – a kingdom ruled by truth, justice, peace, and holiness. The kingdom of God is the central theme of Jesus’ mission. It’s the core of His gospel message.

God Rules over All

What is the kingdom of God? The word “kingdom” means something more than a territory or an area of land. It literally means “sovereignty” or “reign” and the power to “rule” and exercise authority.

The prophets announced that God would establish a kingdom not just for one nation or people but for the whole world. The Scriptures tell us that God’s throne is in heaven and His rule is over all (Psalm 103:19).

God’s kingdom is bigger and more powerful than anything we can imagine because it is universal and everlasting (Daniel 4:3). His kingdom is full of glory, power, and splendor or glory (Psalm 145:11-13).

In the Book of Daniel, we read that this kingdom is given to the Son of Man (Daniel 7:14, 18, 22, 27). The Son of Man is a Messianic title for God’s anointed King. The New Testament word for “Messiah” is “Christ” which literally means the “Anointed One” or the “Anointed King.”

Conditions for Entering the Kingdom of God

How does one enter the kingdom of God? In announcing the good news, Jesus gave two explicit things each of us must do in order to enter the kingdom of God: repent and believe.

A. Repent

Repentance is the first step. Repentance means to change – to change our way of thinking and our attitude, disposition, and life choices so that Christ can be the Lord and Master of our hearts rather than sin, selfishness, and greed.

If we are only sorry for the consequences of our sins, we will very likely keep repeating the sin that is mastering us.

True repentance requires a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17) and sorrow for sin and a firm resolution to avoid it in the future. The Lord Jesus gives us the grace to see sin for what it really is – a rejection of His love and wisdom for our lives and a refusal to do what is good and in accord with His will.

God’s grace brings pardon and help for turning away from everything that would keep us from His love and truth.

B. Believe

To believe is to take Jesus at His word and to recognize that God loved us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to free us from the bondage of sin and harmful desires. God made the supreme sacrifice of His Son on the cross to bring us back to a relationship of peace and friendship with Himself. He is our Father and He wants us to live as His sons and daughters. God loved us first (1 John 4:19) and He invites us in love to surrender our lives to Him.

When we submit to Christ’s rule in our lives and believe the gospel message, the Lord Jesus gives us the grace and power to live a new way of life as citizens of His kingdom. He gives us the grace to renounce the kingdom of darkness ruled by sin and Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44) and the ruler of this present world (John 12:31).

Do you believe that the gospel – the good news of Jesus – has the power to free you from the bondage of sin and fear?

What is the Good News of the Kingdom of God

Becoming Fishers of Men

Like fishermen, we are called to gather in people for the kingdom of God. When Jesus preached the gospel message, He called others to follow as His disciples and He gave them a mission “to catch people for the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:16-20).

What kinds of disciples did Jesus choose? Smelly fishermen! In the choice of the first apostles, we see a characteristic feature of Jesus’ work: He chose very ordinary people. They were non-professionals, had no wealth or position. They were chosen from the common people who did ordinary things, had no special education, and no social advantages.

Jesus wanted ordinary people who could take an assignment and do it extraordinarily well. He chose these individuals, not for what they were, but for what they would be capable of becoming under His direction and power.

God Chooses Ordinary People to Catch People

When the Lord calls us to serve, we must not think that we have nothing to offer. The Lord takes what ordinary people, like you and me, can offer and uses it for greatness in His kingdom.

Do you believe that God wants to work in and through you for His glory?

Jesus speaks the same message to us today: we will “catch people” for the kingdom of God if we allow the light of Jesus Christ to shine through us. God wants others to see the light of Christ in us in the way we live, speak, and witness the joy of the gospel.

Do you witness to those around you the joy of the Gospel? Do you pray for your neighbor, co-workers, and relatives that they may come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and grow in the knowledge of His love?

Biblical Truths for Christians Today

Biblical Truths for Christians Today

As Christians, we want to make sure we are living in accordance to the will of God, which is why we go the Word of God, study it and draw from it the principles we should apply for holy, Christian living.

One thing we need to understand is that all of God’s principles are based on His character and His laws. So, in this short devotional post, I would like to share certain biblical truths that God has impressed upon my heart.

The Truth for Today

“Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth.” – Psalm 119:142

God’s Law, Righteousness and Truth are all eternal because God is eternal unlike us. We have broken His Law, which makes us unrighteous and liars. This world is broken because all people have broken God’s Law.

As Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

We are not able to save ourselves as so many religions want to tell you. That is why these principles are impossible in our own human abilities.

Isaiah 64:6 says, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”

No person on earth is able to be good enough to be like God. There would be no point to be living even a moral life if we can’t be good. Jesus said in Matthew 19:17, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

God is the Standard of Good

Honest people know that there is an objective standard of good. That conscience is evidence of an eternal God that is the objective standard of good. That conscience also tells us we cannot maintain that standard in real life.

That is why Jesus, the God-Man, came to earth to save us from the punishment of our sin as 1 Timothy 1:15 says.

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”

God is the Absolute Standard of Good

Because He was God, He did not have sin that required His death and yet He laid down His life for you and me because He loves us.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Some might ask how can Jesus give life if He is dead? Good question.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 answers that question.

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

Yes, Jesus died and rose again bodily to save you and me. His righteousness is given to us when we get saved as promised in Romans 4:24-25.

“But also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”

Living According to the Truth

Because of that glorious salvation and imputed righteousness, Jesus enables us to live Life According to the Truth. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

With God’s enabling power found in the Holy Spirit, you and I can live out these principles in our everyday lives. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He specifically instructed His disciples to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit to come upon them before they go about witnessing for Him in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:4, 8).

Salvation by Faith and Confession

Are you sure you are saved? Have you received God’s gift of eternal life? Can you claim to be living a victorious Christian life? If you know in your heart that you are not right with God, why not get right with God now by confessing with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead.

For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” (See Romans 10:9-11.)

Closing Words

God wants your heart so that He can change you from the inside out. These principles are not just a list of rules that He pushes on us. He changes who we are as 2 Corinthians 5:17 says.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Has that change occurred in you? If not, why not ask Him to save you today?


Here’s a beautiful song entitled, “Change my Heart Oh God.” You can sing along and make it your personal prayer to the Lord.

 

Search Me O Lord, Know My Heart

Search Me O Lord, Know My Heart

Few people get to know the real us up close and personal. Our parents, our spouse, our children, and our siblings are the only ones who really know us. We act so differently at home than we do at work.

Yet, even our families do not know us completely. Only God does. In fact, God knows us better than we know ourselves. That’s because God sees our hearts. King David recognized the omniscience of God when he said, “O Lord, You have searched me and known me” (Psalm 139:1).

God knows our every thought before we even thought of it. We could not begin a sentence for which God did not already know the end. Because God is omniscient, trying to count all the thoughts of God would be like counting the grains of sand on all the shores of the world.

We Cannot Hide from God

In looking at how God protected and chosen him, David found that it was beyond his capacity to understand all the magnificent deeds the Lord had done (Psalm 139:5-6). David also knew there was no place distant enough, no hiding place small enough, no darkness deep enough to conceal himself from God (Psalm 139:7-12).

Hold on a second, is David describing in verse 8 what we normally think of as hell or Gehenna (Matthew 10:28; 18:9)? Is he saying that even in hell God will be present because there is no place where God cannot be? It appears so. But make no mistake, this does not mean that God dwells in hell the same way He resides in heaven.

O God You Search Me You Know Me

God is transcendent so there is no place that is beyond His reach, even hell. However, we need to understand that God’s presence in hell will radiate none of His grace and mercy; only His righteous judgment.

Because God sees everything, David says to Him, “Search me, O God, and know my heart … And lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). David begins and ends this psalm with a plea for God to search him, to look into his heart and see what he is really like and then to lead him into the way of everlasting.

Life Begins at Conception

David also acknowledged that even before he was born, God knew him in the womb and saw his potential and the life that awaited him (Psalm 139:13-16). The fact that God knows and cares for children in the womb means that God’s concern for life begins at the moment of conception.

Abortionists that say an unborn child is just so much unwanted tissue should read this passage as it demonstrates that God sees another person in the mother’s womb. Most people tend to argue that the mother has the right to do as she pleases with her own body, including the moral right to abortion.

God’s heart must be grieved as He sees so much potential thrown into the dumpsters of our land.

Be Open to God’s Searching Eye

David admitted that God knew him better than he knew himself and that he needed God to search and know him (Psalm 139:23-24). David knew that he could not truly know his heart so he asked God to know him; to examine him and look for some evidence of wickedness, worry, unbelief or misplaced trust.

In the end, David declared his complete trust in God to lead him to everlasting life.

If you asked God to search your heart, what would He see? If you asked God to lead you into the way everlasting, would you be ready to go?

A Clear Conscience

A man on his deathbed called his Christian friend to his house one day. This man was very wealthy and had lived a reprobate life. He had never given to the Lord’s work before, but knowing that he was dying, he wanted to give a generous sum of money to the church.

When his Christian friend asked why, he replied, “I want to have a clear conscience.” His friend knew he needed to face the truth so he said, “My friend, you are rich, but you do not have enough money to buy a clear conscience. You have stolen God’s tithes and offerings all your life. You have abused people with your wealth. Your family has suffered because of your indiscretions.”

O God You Search Me You Know Me

As the man was about to say something, his friend continued, “The only thing that can help you clear your conscience is to confess that you are a sinner, believe that Jesus died for you, and accept Him as your Savior. You need to get right with God.”

The man’s dark eyes blazed with hatred and said, “I am dying. How can you talk to me that way?” His friend did all he could to explain to him God’s gift of salvation but in the end, he rejected it. Death soon came and the man left this world an unrepentant sinner.

He wanted a clear conscience but in reality, he was a bitter, remorseless man.

Tending the Soul

In Mark 8:36, Jesus asked, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Only Jesus could have asked this question. Only Jesus could have possessed all this world’s gold, silver, diamonds, pearls, sapphires, and rubies. He could have had it all, but He knew that riches would not save one soul.

The only way to life everlasting is redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son (Matthew 26:28). Without the shedding of His blood, there is no remission of our sins. No matter how much money we have or how many things we possess, we must come to the place where we give our hearts to the Lord.

Whether we are community-minded, family-oriented, or upwardly mobile, if we have not accepted Christ as Savior, then nothing else matters.

Closing Words

Jesus said, “And all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works” (Revelation 2:23). Jesus did not die at Calvary for our comfort. There is no crown without the Cross. There is no blessing without the burden. There is no conquest without conflict.

We are to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). Take a stand for the Lord. There are burdens to carry and giants to whip. Put your hand to the plow without looking back. Quit whining about your comfort. We are at war with Satan and his armies.

When God searches your heart, will He find a worthy workman? Will you have accomplished the things that He had envisioned for you to do and be?

Here’s a beautiful worship song called, “Lead Me in the Way Everlasting” based on Psalm 139:23-24. Watch and be blessed.

Descriptions of a Childlike Faith

Descriptions of a Childlike Faith

Jesus’ statement to His disciples in Matthew 18:3 about them not entering the kingdom of heaven unless they are converted and become as little children speaks volumes of the importance of having a childlike faith.

But what is childlike faith? What makes one’s faith childlike?

Faith Rooted in Security

During the days of childhood, one learns how to survive and prosper, how to love and share, and how to serve and praise. A well-cared-for child has no worries about house payments, no anxious moments over job opportunities, no apprehensions about failure, and no thoughts of vengeance.

David exemplified this kind of faith while he was on the run from Saul. In Psalm 131:1-2, David compared the calmness and serenity he had in the Lord to that of a weaned child with his mother.

Content with God and the works He was doing in his life, David did not concern himself with great matters such as selfish ambition and self-promotion. Rather, he found serenity and security in his relationship with God.

Descriptions of a Childlike Faith

To have a childlike faith is to find serenity and security in our relationship with God no matter the circumstance.

Faith that Praises

Jesus loved children. He loved to use children to teach hard-headed and hard-hearted grown-ups about faith and praise. While preaching in the region of Judea, Christ was encircled by a great crowd.

“Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them and departed from there” (Matthew 19:13-15).

He later reminded the priests and scribes that “the mouth of babes and nursing infants” would offer praise fitting for God’s Anointed (Matthew 21:16). When Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a colt, a very great multitude that included children cried out saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9)!

The sound of the children praising Jesus in the temple courts made the chief priests and scribes indignant. In response, Jesus quoted from Psalm 8:2. God does not only want prayer in His house, He also delights in praise.

To have a childlike faith is to have a heart that always longs to praise and glorify God in each and every life’s circumstance.

*Read here: The Elements of Praise

Faith that Believes

Jesus used the lad with the five barley loaves and the two small fish to feed five thousand people (John 6:9). To show His power over death, He used a little girl. Jairus, a ruler in the synagogue, fell at Jesus’ feet begging Him to come to his house and save his dying twelve-year-old daughter.

Jesus agreed and tried to make His way with Jairus, but the surrounding crowd made the trip difficult. Word came that Jairus’ daughter had died. But Jesus responded, “Do not be afraid, only believe and she will be made well” (Luke 8:50).

At the house, as the parents wept over their loss, Jesus said, “She is not dead but sleeping” (Luke 8:52). Through tears, the people laughed at the impossibility of what they heard. Jesus then asked everyone to leave the room, and then He said, “Little girl, arise” (Luke 8:54), and she did!

Descriptions of a Childlike Faith

Romans 4:17 says that “God gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” Jesus spoke to the girl with the power of God, and she was raised from the dead. Jairus’ faith definitely played a part in the miracle healing of his daughter just like the faith of the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years had made her well (Luke 8:43-48).

Nothing is impossible with God if we would just believe. This is what it means to have a childlike faith.

Faith that is Humble

Another time, Jesus used a child to teach humility. In Matthew 18:1-5, we read how the disciples came to Jesus asking, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” and how did Jesus respond? He called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them and said, “Assuredly I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

He then went on to say, “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.”

The fact that Jesus had been sharing with the disciples that truth about His approaching suffering and death did not affect them for they were thinking only of themselves and what position they would have in His Kingdom. So absorbed were the disciples in this matter that they actually argued with each other (Luke 9:46).

Pride – the very sin that caused Satan to be cast down from heaven is what’s causing people to think of themselves more highly than others. When Christians are living for themselves and not for others, conflict and division are bound to result (James 4:1-2).

Descriptions of a Childlike Faith

True humility means knowing ourselves, accepting ourselves, and being ourselves – our best self – to the glory of God. It means avoiding two extremes: thinking less of ourselves than we ought to (as did Moses when God called him, Exodus 3:11), or thinking more of ourselves than we should (Romans 12:3).

The truly humble person does not deny the gifts God has given him or her but uses them to the glory of God. The truly humble person also helps to build up others, not to tear them down. This person is a stepping-stone, not a stumbling block. Thus, we must remove from our lives anything that makes us stumble. If we don’t, we will cause others to stumble as well.

An unspoiled child has the characteristics that make for humility: trust, dependence, a desire to make others happy, and an absence of boasting or selfish desires to be greater than others. By nature, we are all rebels who want to be celebrities instead of servants. And so we need a great deal of teaching for us to learn the lesson of humility.

Final Words

As Christians, we are encouraged to have a childlike faith. To have faith like a child is to completely trust our heavenly Father’s goodness, care, provision, leadership, and protection.

Have you experienced the peace of a well-cared-for child in letting Jesus take care of your worries? Have you found the healing that faith in Jesus brings? Have you praised His name with the joy of a child? Have you answered Jesus’ call in childlike faith, asking Him to be your Savior?