Category: Christian Growth

Spiritual Inventory Checklist

Spiritual Inventory Checklist

Like forgiveness, obedience is one of the major themes in the Bible; it is a clear indication that one has genuinely placed their faith in Christ. But how do we know if we’re living in obedience to the Lord? We can use Proverbs 4:20-27 as a personal spiritual inventory.

While Scriptures are clear that salvation is solely based on the finished works of Christ, good works which include faithfulness and obedience to the Word of God are the marks of true believers.

Spiritual Inventory Questions

Are we living in complete obedience to the Lord? Let’s ask ourselves:

1) What comes into my ears?  

“My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.” – Proverbs 4:20

Whatever enters my ears will ultimately influence my mind, my heart and my decisions, so I’d better be careful what I listen to. In Ephesians 5:4, Paul warns us to beware of “obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes.”

They say, “Laughter is the best medicine,” because according to scientific studies, laughter does not only trigger the release of the body’s feel-good hormone endorphins, it also decreases stress hormones. The same idea is found in Proverbs 17:22? It says, “A merry heart does good, like medicine. But a broken spirit dries the bones.”

But what are we joking and laughing about? There are a lot of things Christians can joke about without having to resort to coarse or green jokes. So when unbelieving friends and colleagues engage in obscene talks, it is wise to walk away.

A merry heart does good like medicine - Proverbs 17:22

What about worldly music? I am reminded of what my music coordinator said about being on a bus or cab on our way to work. The driver then starts playing worldly music and sitting there unaware, we might start nodding our head and humming to the tune of the song.

Should Christians stop listening to worldly music? As new creations in Christ, we no longer belong to this world and so our desires are no longer for the things of this world. Worldly pleasures and entertainment, which includes worldly music, belong to this world and we want nothing to do with it.

What about the people we should seek counsel from? Psalm 1:1 tells us to avoid ungodly counsel. Why would you, a Christian, seek counsel from people who do not regard the Bible as authoritative? Christians must seek advice only from Christians who hold to the Bible as the final authority.

2) What is within my heart?

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” – Proverbs 4:23

It isn’t easy to keep or guard one’s heart for there will be many opportunities to give our heart to a person or path that we are warned against. But it is necessary to keep the heart in the sense of guarding it. Solomon is saying here that the heart should be kept and guarded against the way of the wicked (Proverbs 4:19).

Whatever the heart loves, the ear will hear, and the eyes will see. Do you notice how your kids always manage to find the ice cream shops and the toy stores no matter where you’re driving? If you love bags and shoes, I’m sure you will always manage to locate the best stores. The things that occupy the attention of your heart will determine the course of your life.

The Bible further warns us to avoid a double heart (Psalm 12:2), a hard heart (Proverbs 28:14), a proud heart (Proverbs 21:4), an unbelieving heart (Hebrews 3:12), a cold heart (Matthew 24:12), and an unclean heart (Psalm 51:10).

Do you want to live in obedience to God and not sin? Remember to always keep God’s Word hidden in your heart (Psalm 119:11).

3) What is upon my lips? 

“Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you.” – Proverbs 4:24

Whatever is in the heart will ultimately come out of the mouth (Matthew 12:33-34). As God’s children, we must be careful to “have sound speech that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:8) and speech that gracious and attractive (literally, “seasoned with salt” – see Colossians 4:6).

The ancient Romans, listening to one of their orators, would look at each other, smile and say, “Cum grano salis”“Take it with a grain of salt.” But Christians are supposed to put the salt into their speech and keep their words pure and honest.

For believers to stay on the path of the just, they must pay attention to what they say. Perverse and deceitful words are often used to cover perverse and deceitful actions and could lead us further along the way of the wicked.

Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. - Psalm 34:13

Proverbs has a great deal to say about human speech; in fact, the word “mouth” is used over 50 times and the word “lips” over 40 times in some translations. Among other things, Solomon warns us about perverse talk and corrupt speech (Proverbs 4:24), undisciplined talk (Proverbs 10:19), lying lips (Proverbs 12:22), gossip (Proverbs 20:19) and deception (Proverbs 24:28).

In fact, “he who guards his mouth will preserve his life but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction” (Proverbs 13:3).

4) What is before my eyes? 

“Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you.” – Proverbs 4:25

Outlook determines outcome. Abraham was the friend of God because he “walked by faith and waited for the city … designed and built by God” (Hebrews 11:10). Lot became a friend of the world because he walked by sight and moved toward the wicked city of Sodom (Genesis 13:10, 12).

Everybody has some wisdom before them that helps to determine their values, actions, and plans. We would all be wise to imitate David who said, “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes” (Psalm 101:3), and the writer of Psalm 119 who prayed, “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things” (Psalm 119:37).

Out of distraction, we often depart the path of the just. For that, the blinders used on horses that do them much good would do many of us good as well. To be fit for His kingdom, Jesus said we must not look back or around (Luke 9:62). Instead, we must keep our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) as we walk the path of life.

5) What is the direction of my path? 

“Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.” – Proverbs 4:26-27

The Hebrew word translated “mark out” means “to weigh” or “to make level.” It is related to a word that means “scales” (see Proverbs 16:11).

The apostle Paul wrote, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Examine me O Lord - Psalm 26:2

It’s necessary for us to consider the destination of our present path as it would lead us to wise living. Carefully pondering where we are headed will help us to establish our direction and help us to not turn to the left or to the right.

The Lord is weighing our ways (Proverbs 5:21) and our hearts (Proverbs 21:2), as well as our actions (1 Samuel 2:3), and we had better do the same. Life is too short and too precious to be wasted on the temporary and the trivial. If we’re walking in the way of wisdom, God promises to protect, direct and perfect our paths.

Closing Thoughts

After going through this spiritual inventory checklist, can you say with all honesty that you are living a life that is pleasing to God? Are you obedient to Him in everything?

One of the marks of a true Christian is OBEDIENCE. If you claim to have placed your faith in the Lord Jesus but you’re still living like the rest of the world, you’re not only fooling God but yourself.

Let us continually ask God to examine our heart and mind, and reveal to us any area of our life that is not yet fully submitted to Him.

Organize Your Borrowed Life

Organize Your Borrowed Life

Year after year-end, we look backward to the past whole year just to most often than not, realize that we have not gained spiritual growth, no positive changes or we are far from realizing what we wanted to achieve. All this is because we fail to include the key player who is also the Master Planner of our future.

Where God’s presence is missing, chaos and disorderliness will surface. However, our God is not a God of disorder such that everything will only be in order if we plan and organize our borrowed life, the biblical way.

Putting your God-given Life in Order

In the church at Corinth, the believers must have gotten so excited with their experience of the Holy Spirit that they were speaking in tongues at the same time even when there was no one to interpret the message. This is one of the things that the apostle Paul pointed out when he wrote:

God is not a God of disorder but of peace

Paul wanted to address their disorderliness in worship because it was causing confusion among them. He reminded the congregation that our God is not the God of disorder. Although this was written to the believers in Corinth, it is also useful in correcting us at this present time both as a church and as individuals (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Pointers on How to Organize your Borrowed Life

PPray for God’s perfect will

L Listen to God’s instructions

AAbide in God’s word

NNever compromise

Pray for God’s Perfect Will

Start by praying.

When it comes to starting our plan with prayers, we can follow Nehemiah’s great example. Upon learning that the surviving Jews from the Babylonian captivity were in great distress and that the walls of Jerusalem were also in ruins, Nehemiah wept and mourned for many days. He fasted and prayed before the God of heaven, recognizing his sins and the sins of Israel and asked for God’s guidance in his determination to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:1-4).

Each morning is the start of something new, something fresh. That is why we should start every day and every chapter of our life with a prayer, asking God to carry out His perfect will in all our thoughts and plans. Our prayer shall be for God’s guidance and direction in always seeking the truth in Him that we may take the right path because if God is with us, we can never be lost (Psalm 25:4-5; Psalm 32:8).

Let me hear of your unfailing love

We do not believe in fate or fortune-telling. We’d rather ask for God’s instructions and put our trust in Him. Unlike a horse with a horse bit that is pulled in any direction by someone in control, Christians must pray for God’s perfect will.

Listen to God’s Instructions

I believe that every Christian knows how to pray and ask for God’s guidance. But do we know how to listen? I mean really listen. Hearing is different from listening. When we say we “listen” to what someone is saying, it means we “obey” that very thing that is said to us.

Listening to God’s instructions is as equally important as praying for His directions because those who listen to instruction will prosper (Proverbs 16:20 NIV). But what does it mean for us to prosper when we listen and obey?

To “prosper” does not only mean to achieve economic success; it also means to succeed. The Bible gives us several examples of great people who listened and had the heart to obey God’s instructions and prospered. Abraham obeyed God’s command to go out of his country into a place where He will show him and prospered (Genesis 12:1-4).

Noah obeyed God’s instruction to build a massive boat, making him the laughingstock of his community and was saved from the flood, along with his entire family and a pair of each kind of today’s living creatures (Genesis 6:13-20). Moses obeyed God and led the Israelites in crossing the Red Sea on dry ground (Exodus 14:1-22).

My sheep listen to My voice

King Solomon knew nothing about ruling a nation when he succeeded his father David as king at the age of 20. But when God visited him in a dream one night and asked him whatever he wanted, instead of asking for wealth and honor, Solomon asked for a discerning heart (wisdom) to govern the nation of Israel and to distinguish between right and wrong. God was pleased that He also gave these to him in addition to what he asked for (1 Kings 3:5-9).

*Read here: Blessing Through Obedience

Just like them and many others, we should learn not only to listen but to have an obedient heart. And as God’s sheep, we must be sensitive to His voice and follow His instructions (John 10:27). God, who is our good Shepherd, knows each of us very well and He is always there to guide us if we only know how to listen and obey Him.

In organizing your borrowed life by having it in order according to God’s will, you must not only listen. More importantly, you must be a “doer” of the Word. What you hear should not only end on the blueprints; you are to take action by doing exactly what He said. This is what we call “faith in action.”

Abide in God’s Word

Without God, all our efforts amount to nothing.

Everything we plan and everything we desire will just go down the drain. But if we truly abide in Him and He abides in us (John 15:7), then we are transformed into a new creature with a changed heart and a renewed spirit. This spirit will cause our desires to be in line with God’s will so that whatever we ask for shall be done by our heavenly Father.

Joshua 1:8 NKJV

Joshua 1:8 exhorts us to meditate on God’s Word day and night and we will become prosperous and successful. To meditate continuously is to always tune in to God and soak our spirit in His words. If indeed we have Christ living in us, we ought to live Christ-like lives, not just momentarily or temporarily, but continuously until the end (Colossians 2:6; 1 John 2:6).

Are you abiding in Him?

Never Compromise

A. To compromise means to live like the world does (Romans 12:2).

How do you know you are not compromising? If what you believe and stand for are opposed to the “norm” and what’s acceptable to the people in the world. We are to abandon the chase for pleasures, status or possessions and stop living like everyone else.

God is good and His will is always pleasing and perfect. Nothing impure is acceptable to Him that is why we are to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God. We must let go of our old outward behavior and start acting in a way that is pleasing to God as a result of a transformed mindset; one that is possible only when we are totally surrendered to Him.

When the mind and behavior are changed, the perfect will of God in us is completed. Our desires will no longer be based on earthly motives but on heavenly goals. Being aligned with God’s perfect will, we will develop a heavenly mindset that is centered on seeking first His kingdom in our lives (Matthew 6:33).

As new creatures in Christ, we no longer follow the desires of our flesh listed in Galatians 5:19-21. Instead, the fruit of the Holy Spirit will start to manifest in our lives. Does this mean we will no longer have selfish desires? No! But the Holy Spirit will enable us to live righteous lives if we let Him.

B. To compromise means not doing what we know is right.

This is called the “sin of omission” (James 4:17).

Knowing what is good and yet failing to do it makes us guilty of the sin of omission. When James wrote this, he knew that it is far easier to think and talk about dependence on God than it is to live it. Yet he made it plain that if we know these things, we are accountable to do them.

As Christians, we have already been brought into the light and in the knowledge of God’s truth so there are no excuses.

Jesus makes the same point in Luke 12:41-48 when He told the story of servants and how they obeyed their master in his absence. Jesus concluded the story with this application: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).

Conclusion

We are confident that as long as God is with us and provides our agendas, we will have boundless hope and will reach His promised future. God will see us through to a glorious conclusion, no matter the hardships, suffering, and trials we would have to experience for God to fulfill His will in our lives.

The Effective Prayer Life

The Effective Prayer Life

A healthy prayer life is one of the best indicators of a healthy spiritual life because it is through prayer that a Christian develops a closer, more intimate relationship with God. It is also said that a Christian who spends a considerable amount of time with God in prayer is more likely to experience God’s blessings in all areas of his life.

Admittedly, many Christians are finding it hard to develop a prayer life that does not only keep them in constant communication with God but also one that is effective and powerful. Having an effective prayer life is one of the keys to living victoriously as followers of Christ here on earth while waiting for His return.

Developing An Effective Prayer Life

So what kind of prayer is considered effective and how do we develop it? We read how God’s people in the Old Testament have succeeded in accomplishing their God-given missions because they always consulted God first: Abraham, Noah, Joshua, David, Daniel and his friends, etc.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul repeatedly exhorted the church to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and encouraged them to pray for one another (James 5:16; 1 Timothy 2:1; Ephesians 6:18). And in Colossians 4:2-4 (NLT), Paul succinctly gives us a great lesson in effective praying:

“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. 3 Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. 4 Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.”

A. First, our praying must be FAITHFUL

“Devote yourselves to prayer” means, “Be steadfast in your prayer life; be committed, persistent and don’t quit.” This is the way the early church prayed (Acts 1:14; Acts 2:46). Sadly, too many of us pray only occasionally – when we feel like it or when there’s a crisis. But God commands us to “pray continually” (Thessalonians 5:17). It’s because Jesus knew that there will be times when we would feel fainthearted.

We live in a broken world that is ruled by Satan and as followers of Christ; we are constantly engaged in a spiritual battle that can only be won on our knees through prayer. As the battles loom, it will be easy for us to lose heart because our eyes tend to focus on the circumstances.

Let us remember that defeat is never an option for us. But the only way to emerge victoriously is by being committed to praying strenuously and remaining faithful. This does not mean that we should walk around muttering prayers under our breath. Rather, it means we are to be in an ongoing dialogue and constant fellowship with God so that prayer is as normal to us as breathing.


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B. Our praying must also be ALERT.

To be alert when we pray means we must be watchful. The concept “watch and pray!” is often used in the Bible and it had its beginning in Bible history when Nehemiah was rebuilding the walls and gates of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 4:9). This carries the idea of staying awake or standing guard to make sure a location is safe. Just like the guard at the city gate, prayer demands attention.

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” – Matthew 26_41

Jesus also used the phrase in the Garden of Gethsemane in Mark 14:38 and Paul in Ephesians 6:18. When Paul exhorts the church to be alert, he’s basically telling them to stay awake while they pray, be mentally alert and spiritually sensitive to the needs for which they pray. There are times when we struggle to stay awake when we pray because our mind and body are tired. At other times we pray as if we are asleep and our prayers sound and feel tired and sleepy.

We are to be alert, vigilant and watchful when we pray because at times we are easily distracted by this world that we tend to take our eyes off Jesus and His soon return. We’re foreigners on this earth just passing through and need to be ready at any time to stand before God and give an account of our lives to Him.

C. Our praying should also be THANKFUL.

Thanksgiving is an important ingredient in successful praying (Philippians 4:6). If all we do is ask, and never thank God for His blessings and gifts, we are selfish. That is why in the ACTS formula of prayer that has been taught to children and new believers for many years; “T” which stands for Thanksgiving is included.

Thanksgiving focuses on what God has done, is doing and will be doing. There are so many things we need to thank God for, including His love, salvation, provision, and protection. We need to give God thanks for everything because sincere gratitude to God is one of the best ways to put fervor into our praying.

D. Finally, our praying ought to be PURPOSEFUL.

Too often our prayers are vague and general. We ask God “to bless our pastors, church leaders, missionaries.” We ask God “to bless our family and loved ones.” How much better it would be if we would pray for specific needs. By doing so, we would know when God answered and we could praise Him for it.

*Related Article: The Importance of Praying for Others

When Paul asked the church at Colossae to pray for him and his associates, he asked for two specific needs: 1) that God would grant them opportunities both inside and outside of prison to preach the gospel and 2) they would preach the truth with courage and clarity.

When Jesus prayed at Gethsemane the night before His arrest, He specifically asked the Father if it is possible for the cup to be taken from Him (Matthew 26:39-42). When God appeared to Solomon in a dream and asked him what he wanted, he asked specifically for wisdom (1 Kings 3:5-14).

Many times our prayers are ineffective because they are too general. We need to step forward in our relationship with God and start praying for specific needs. If we have known the Lord for many years, we need to stop praying childlike prayers and grow in our prayer life by being specific when presenting our requests to God.

Closing Thoughts

Effective prayer is a prayer we know God hears that’s why it is important we all learn how to pray effectively. Developing an effective prayer life may sound like a challenge to some but if we would all just apply these principles taught by the apostle Paul, we can have a prayer life that will change our lives and the way we approach God

When we pray without ceasing with a grateful heart while staying alert and be specific in our requests and petitions, we will be able to tap into the presence of God which in effect will release His power, anointing, and blessings.


*Recommended Resource:

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The Christian’s Response to Trials

The Christian’s Response to Trials

I have yet to encounter someone who has been a Christian for many years and never experienced trials and difficulties. Trials are inevitable, and if you expect the Christian life to be smooth and easy, you’re in for a big surprise. But what should be the Christian’s response to trials?

When James, the half-brother of our Lord, wrote to the Jewish Christians, he told them to expect trials of many kinds, but they are to “count it all joy (James 1:1-2). What exactly did James mean? Should Christians rejoice and celebrate when faced with impossible situations?

Why Christians fall into trials

1) Some trials come simply because we are human.

Sickness or diseases, accidents, disappointments, even apparent tragedies are part of life. Everyone goes through any or all of these because it’s part of being human. The Christian might say, “But didn’t the Lord already conquer sickness and death?”

Yes, Jesus is the Great Physician; He is our healer (Exodus 15:26) and there is no doubt that He can heal not just some, but all diseases. Isaiah 53:5 also says, “… by his wounds, we are healed.” But that does not mean we can escape physical illness and death.

Although our soul and spirit are immaterial, our body isn’t. So while we are still living in this tent, our physical body (2 Corinthians 5:4), we are susceptible to pain, disappointments and any sickness or diseases. That is why we are to take really good care of our body and our health. We can do this by practicing healthy living.

*Read here: The Key Elements of a Healthy Lifestyle

2) Other trials come because we are Christians.

Before coming to faith in Christ, we belonged to the devil (John 8:44) and were part of his worldly kingdom (2 Corinthians 4:4). The very moment we repented of our sins and trusted in Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord, we became a part of God’s family (John 1:12) and became citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20).

Being on God’s side made us enemies with Satan and the world. Satan fights with us and the world opposes us, resulting in a life of battle. Satan knows he can’t win against God so he goes after God’s children, the Christians.

How Christians should respond to trials

James tells his readers, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2). In other translations it says, “Consider it pure joy…” or “Consider it an opportunity for great joy…”

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”

In Philippians 3:4-8, the apostle Paul used the word “consider.” First, he warns the believers about evil workers who teach that salvation is by works (Philippians 3:2 NLT). He then goes on to say that if salvation is based on human effort; he has every reason to be confident of his salvation (Philippians 3:3-6)

But because salvation is based solely on what Christ has done for us, whatever Paul thinks are his advantages over others became worthless. Here’s what Paul says in Philippians 3:7-8 (NIV):

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”

When Paul became a Christian, he evaluated his life and set new goals and priorities. Things that were once important to him became garbage in light of his experience with Christ. In the same way, when we face the trials of life, we must evaluate them in light of what God is doing for us.

Look beyond what you see
Photo Credits: Lionking2013.blogspot.com

To count all trials as joy is not to deny the difficulties and pain that they bring. We can cry, weep, mourn or grieve whenever trials and difficulties come. But we see beyond the difficulties to the good results that might come through trials. If we live only for the present, then trials will make us bitter, not better.

In the movie “Lion King,” when Mufasa showed his young son Simba the kingdom that he is to rule someday when he grows up, He told his son, “look beyond what you see.” God is telling the same thing to the Christians. The trials and difficulties you maybe experiencing now are temporary and they are nothing compared to the glory of being with Christ.

Jesus and the Cross

Crucifixion as a means of capital punishment is the worst during those times that the Romans who came up with it would not even consider imposing it on their own people. Crucifixion was the most painful and most shameful way to die, reserved for the worst offenders.

And yet, the Bible tells us that Jesus endured the cross and disregarded the shame. Why? Because of the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus knew that His suffering and death on the cross would result into something far greater – the salvation of mankind and their reconciliation with God

Faith is tested through trials which will result in endurance

Just a reminder, trials will not produce faith. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). But faith is tested through trials and will reveal what kind of faith we have. Is our faith genuine or not?

*Related Article: Genuine Faith Saves

“Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance {endurance}. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

God does not test our faith to prove if it’s the real deal or not because He already knows. There is nothing we can hide from God for He is all-knowing. Through trials, God wants to produce in us endurance, the same word used in Hebrews 12:1 when the writer exhorts the believers to “run with endurance the race that is set before them.”

In the Bible, endurance is not a passive acceptance of circumstances. It is the ability to remain steadfast in the face of suffering and difficulty. Endurance cannot be attained by simply reading the Bible, listening to sermons or even spending time on your knees. You must go through the difficulties of life, trust God and obey Him.

Endurance

The key theme of the book of James is spiritual maturity. God wants to build our character; He wants a finished product that is mature and complete. But He cannot do that without our cooperation. When we resist God, He chastens us into submission. But if we submit to Him, then He can accomplish His work in us.

Closing thoughts

They say that our values determine our evaluations. So if we value comfort rather than character, then trials will upset us. If we value the material and physical more than the spiritual, we will not be able to consider trials as “pure joy.”

“Blessed is the one who perseveres (remain steadfast) under trial, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).

Through trials, God wants to produce in us endurance and the ability to keep going even when things are tough. Knowing this, Christians can face trials joyfully because they know that the end result is endurance and spiritual maturity that will bring glory to God.

What kind of trials have you gone through and how did you respond to them? Please do share them by leaving a comment.


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Why We Should Trust the Lord

Why We Should Trust the Lord

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

Reasons for us to trust the Lord

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trust in Me Lyrics & Chords

Can we trust God in times of trials?

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

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

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

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


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

What the Bible can Do for You

What the Bible can Do for You

Next to the gift of Christ and the Holy Spirit, the Bible is the third greatest gift. The Bible can do so much for you because it possesses the transforming power that is nowhere found in any other books.

The Bible does not contain the word of God; the Bible is the Word of God. 2,600 times in the Old Testament, the prophets asserted that their words are the Word of God. A similar statement occurs in the New Testament and Jesus quoted the Bible as the genuine word of God to mankind in Matthew 22:31-32.

The Uniqueness of the Bible

The Bible is unlike any other book and has no equal in its uniqueness; it is the oldest book in existence, it was written by more than 40 authors on three different continents, in three different languages over a period of more than 1500 years.

“Many books can inform you but only the Bible can transform you.”

Although there have been a vast of books that were written over the centuries, few of them can truly be regarded as great. The uniqueness of the Bible does not prove that it is divinely inspired, but rather its superiority over any other writing.

Getting the Most out of the Bible

Because the Bible is God’s Word and not just “mere human ideas,” we should appreciate it. We are to read the Bible with reverence and respect, not carelessly, the way we sometimes scan a newspaper or speed-read a book. As you open your Bible and your heart, God will open His mouth and speak to you.

Psalm 19:7-9 gives us some characteristics of God’s inspired Words:

“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul. The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart. The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever. The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.”

And because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the “master theme” of the Bible, we should treat the Bible the way we treat Jesus. Jesus is “the Bread of life” (John 6:48) and the Word is bread that nourishes our spirit (Matthew 4:4). The Bible is light ((Psalm 119:105) and Jesus is “the light” (John 8:12). Jesus is “the truth” (John 14:6) and the Word of God is truth (John 17:17).

Merely having the Bible before our eyes is no guarantee that we have its truths in our inner person. We should appreciate the Word of God because it is like bread (Matthew 4:4), solid food (Hebrews 5:11-14) and even honey (Psalm 19:10; Psalm 119:103).

We know that food does us no good unless we eat it and digest it. What digestion is to the body, meditation is to the inner person. If we want to grow spiritually, we need to welcome the Word of God into our hearts.

*Note: Memorizing verses that especially speak to you so you can think about them during the day is a good habit to develop.

Simply reading assigned portions of the Bible each day is not enough. If you want to experience its transforming power, you need to meditate on what you read (Psalm 1:2), study it carefully in light with what other verses have to say and then obey what God tells you to do (Joshua 1:8).

“Reading the Bible but not obeying it is like reading the menu but not eating the meal.”

The Word of God is “alive and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12). It can work in our lives as we exercise faith and obey what God says to us. If we are willing to learn and obey, the Holy Spirit who is the author of the Bible and lives within each Christian believer is our Teacher.

7 Reasons to Preach the Word of God

Jesus faced the multitude in Mark 2:2 and preached the Word of God. In the same way, Christians are to preach Christ as revealed in the Bible. We must insist on preaching the Word because it endures for time and eternity (Isaiah 40:8).

1) Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

2) Comfort comes from the Word of God (1 Thessalonians 4:18)

3) Conviction of sin comes through the preaching of the Word of God (Acts 2:14-37).

4) The New birth comes through the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23).

5) Assurance comes from the Word of God (1 John 5:13).

6) Cleansing comes from the Word of God (2 Corinthians 7:1).

7) Truth comes from the Word of God (Acts 17:11)

Final Thoughts

Make the Bible your constant guide and companion in life. Read it daily. Not just on Sundays but every day. If you want to be a new person, knowing and obeying the will of God and becoming more like Jesus, you must spend time daily yielding yourself to the transforming truths of the Scriptures.


*Recommended Resource:

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth: Fourth Edition / Special edition – eBook
By Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart

Publisher’s Description

Understanding the Bible isn’t for the few, the gifted, the scholarly. The Bible is accessible. It’s meant to be read and comprehended by everyone from armchair readers to seminary students. A few essential insights into the Bible can clear up a lot of misconceptions and help you grasp the meaning of Scripture and its application to your twenty-first-century life.

Covering everything from translational concerns to different genres of biblical writing, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth is used all around the world. In clear, simple language, it helps you accurately understand the different parts of the Bible—their meaning for ancient audiences and their implications for you today—so you can uncover the inexhaustible worth that is in God’s Word.

Blessings in Psalm 119

Blessings in Psalm 119

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

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

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

Joy

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

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

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

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

Psalm 119:111

Purity

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

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

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

Hope

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

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

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

Right Values

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comfort

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

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

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

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

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

New Life

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

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

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

Peace

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

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

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

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

John 14:27

Freedom

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

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

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

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

Integrity

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

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

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

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

Wisdom

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

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

Encouragement

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

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

Guidance and Counsel

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

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

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

A Song

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

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

Conclusion

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

How to Grow in the Grace and Knowledge of Our Lord

How to Grow in the Grace and Knowledge of Our Lord

The most important thing in the life of a Christian is to grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). Yes, we were saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9), but grace does not end there. And salvation (or eternal life) involves knowing God (John 17:3). So how do Christians grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord?

As Peter writes his final epistle, he was concerned about the false teachers that were plaguing the churches and wanted to encourage the believers to persevere. So Peter repeats what he has emphasized throughout his letter on the danger of being misled by the doctrinal errors of these false teachers, and exhorted them to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

“You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” – 2 Peter 3:17-18

What does it take to grow?

Before we look at how and what it means to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, we need to consider several truths about growth in general.

1) Growth is dependent on life.

Where there is life, there must be growth. But you must be born before you can grow. This principle is just as true spiritually as it is physically. The Bible tells us that we were all born into this word spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13), and that is why we all need to be born again (John 3:7). Only God can impart to us a new life.

2) Growth is never an option, it’s a necessity.

Growth is normal when there is life. Unless a child has a serious health problem, he will grow and not remain a child his entire life. The same is true for the Christian; he must keep growing in order to maintain steadfastness. God wants Christians to grow up in every way like Christ and not to remain as children (Ephesians 4:14-15).

3) Growth is always gradual, not instant or automatic.

Have you ever seen a baby grow into adulthood in just a matter of days, weeks or even a few years? You don’t bring a baby home from the hospital and expect him to do what a 20-year old can do. Growth is a process; it takes time to mature and develop.

In contrast to what some people think that one can become “holy” instantly through some powerful experience with God, spiritual growth is gradual. It requires cooperation with God and the application of spiritual diligence and discipline.

4) Growth is not easy, it’s difficult and painful.

A baby crawls first before he can walk. And once he gets the hang of walking, he still falls down a lot. He even falls flat on his face sometimes. It’s the same way with spiritual growth. There are a lot of tough lessons that we only learn by trial and error. Sometimes we thought we “got it,” only to realize later on that we haven’t really learned the lesson so we have to go through it again.

I – Grow in the Grace of our Lord

Grace is God’s unmerited favor by which He saves and sustains anyone who places their trust in Him. In other words, grace is not merely God’s way of drawing us to Him in the beginning. It is also the way we grow and remain steadfast in our faith in Christ.

The new birth is not the end; it is just the beginning. So how do we grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ? To grow in grace means coming to a greater understanding of God’s holiness, justice, and sovereignty, which in turn allows us to see more of our rebellion, selfishness and pride. We do not only come to see more and more our unworthiness as the object of God’s grace, but we also see more and more how great His undeserved favor and love were that drew us to Himself.

Grace: the unmerited favor of God

Growing in grace involves developing the 7 Christian character traits that Peter wrote about in 2 Peter 1:5-7: virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness and love. These traits must be produced by the Spirit of God. (See also Galatians 5:22-23.)

“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”       

God gives these character traits to us, but we need to develop them by regular Bible study and prayer, fellowship and service, confession of sin and practicing good stewardship.

Although some unsaved people possess amazing self-control and endurance, these virtues point to them and not to the Lord, so they get the glory. But when God produces the beautiful nature of His Son in the life of a Christian, God receives the praise and glory.

We can grow in the grace of God (spiritual growth) and develop these Christian character traits because we were made in the image of God. This growth takes place through the power of God and the precious promises of God.

II – Grow in the Knowledge of Our Lord

In his epistle, Peter refers to Jesus as “our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” three times (2 Peter 1:11; 2:20; 3:18). In doing so, Peter gives emphasis to the fact that you cannot separate Jesus Christ as Savior from Jesus Christ as Lord.

Peter is saying that the moment you place your trust in Christ as Savior, you are yielding all of yourself that you know to all of Christ that you know. When you become a Christian, you are to progressively grow in submission to Christ. And as a result, you will see more of who He is and more of who you are through the Word of God.

Knowing God means establishing a close, intimate relationship with God through Christ

Becoming a Christian involves knowledge and understanding. Such knowledge of Christ includes both facts about Him, as revealed in Scriptures, and knowing Him personally. Growing in the knowledge of our Lord does not only involve reading the Bible in order to know what He has revealed about Himself; it also involves establishing a personal relationship and intimate fellowship with the Lord Jesus.

How to Grow in the Knowledge of Our Lord

1) Upon establishing a personal and intimate relationship with God through faith in Christ Jesus, we grow in the knowledge of our Lord by continually seeking Him.

Since God alone is the author of our knowledge of Himself, only He can reveal Himself. We cannot possibly know God if He does not reveal Himself to us. The knowledge of God is received by those who continue to seek Him and call upon his Name (Jeremiah 29:13; Jeremiah 33:3).

2) Growing in spiritual wisdom and understanding involves complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit to illuminate our minds to the truth (John 16:13).

The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to teach and transform believers. As we read, study, memorize and meditate Scriptures, the Holy Spirit not only illuminates our minds to the knowledge of God but He also equips us to instruct others in the knowledge of God.

We cannot ignore the handbook God has given us and expect to gain knowledge of Him in some other way. A patient study of Scriptures enables us to hear God’s voice and to learn about how God views Himself, ourselves and others. We will also know how God wants us to serve Him in order to accomplish His purposes.

3) Growing in the knowledge of our Lord involves faithfulness and obedience to Him.

This is the part where the believer exhibits in his life the knowledge of God he received by living a life that is worthy of God. This means that the way a believer conducts himself and lives his life must correspond to the character of Christ. Christians grow in the knowledge of God by living in complete submission to and obedience to God.

4) Growing in the knowledge of our Lord requires patient endurance and a teachable spirit.

The Christian life is for long distance runners, not sprinters. If you want to grow in the knowledge of our Lord, you need to be open to learn from God’s Word and the Spirit. Christians who think they know it all have no more room for growth.

God does not reveal Himself and everything we need to know about Him all at once. We must learn to be patient and wait upon Him. We need to continue to persevere in God’s Word and abide in Christ. And that requires patient endurance on our part. The good news is that, God will give us strength to endure.

Conclusion

Did you know that you can be a Christian and never grow up? A famous quote by Maya Angelou says, “Everyone grows old but not everyone grows up.” This is not only true in the physical sense; it’s also true in the spiritual sense.

Hebrews 5:12-13 (NLT)

“You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right.”

Growing in the grace and knowledge of God is a process, it’s not automatic.  There is no instant pill you can take today that will make you spiritually mature tomorrow. There is no shortcut to spiritual growth.  It takes time, effort and intentional pursuit.

So how can you tell if you’re growing in the grace and knowledge of God? When you are learning more and more through God’s Word how He wants you to live and when the character traits of Christ become more and more evident in your life, then you are definitely on the right track.


*Recommended Resource: Growing Your Faith: How to Mature in Christ – eBook
By Jerry Bridges

When you’re gripped by the astonishing fact of Christ’s love for you, you desire to draw close to Him. But what can you do to deepen your relationship with Jesus? What does He expect of you, and how can you be more like Him? In Growing Your Faith, Bridges presents the essential elements of Christian life in a highly readable, surprisingly practical form.

You’ll learn how to feed your spiritual life through taking in the Scriptures, rely on the Holy Spirit in obedience and prayer, trust God during life’s trials, and contribute your unique gifts to serve others. Whether you’re a new Christian seeking direction in growing spiritually or a time-tested saint looking for a refresher, Growing Your Faith offers a solid foundation for genuine growth in spiritual maturity.

 

Keeping the Fire of the Holy Spirit Burning

Keeping the Fire of the Holy Spirit Burning

True born again Christians have a personal relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Luke 3:16). But how should Christians keep the fire of the Holy Spirit burning in their lives? How do Christians stay on fire for the Lord?

Jesus taught His disciples the importance of having the Holy Spirit because it’s through the Holy Spirit that we may become witnesses from our Jerusalem (home base) to the ends of the earth. Before Jesus was taken up to heaven, He commanded His disciples not to depart from Jerusalem but they should wait for the Holy Spirit to baptize them (Acts 1:4-5).

Perhaps you have been on fire for God before, but now you do not seem to remember anymore how that felt like; you are left wondering if that fire that once burnt in you can ever be rekindled.

Planetshakers’ Live Conference in Manila, Philippines

Yesterday, January 13, 2018, I was blessed to have attended the Planetshakers’ Conference in the Philippines, held at the Araneta Coliseum. I’d say the event was a victorious one, glory be to God.

We arrived at the venue just before 7 AM thinking we’re early, only to see a very long line of people, mostly youths, waiting to get in. Contrary to what I was expecting, the place was packed with people waiting to jam in worship with the Australian City Church music band and to listen from God.

While in line, I had the opportunity to converse with their senior pastor Russel Evans, who took some time to check out the people waiting to get in, a couple of hours before the event kicked off.

 

Keeping the fire of the Holy Spirit burning
Pastor Russel Evans and wife Sam

It was also a blessing to have met in person a fellow believer in Christ whom I came to know through our Bible Sharing group on Facebook.

Everybody had a blast during the praise and worship and we felt the Holy Spirit’s awesome presence all over the place. As I looked around the jam-packed coliseum, I saw how everybody was having a great time singing, shouting, jumping and dancing for the Lord.

But to me, the greatest take away was the message delivered by the youth pastor of the Planetshakers City Church during the first session, and it is this message that I will be sharing with you in this blog today.

Keeping the fire of the Holy Spirit burning
Youth Pastor Andy Harrison

How to keep the fire of the Holy Spirit burning

Youth pastor Andy Harrison talked about the fire of the Holy Spirit working in the life of every believer. And he mentioned three things Christians can and should do to keep the fire of the Holy Spirit burning in their lives.

A – Fuel the fire of the Holy Spirit by regularly reading the Bible.

Just as fire needs fuel to keep it burning brightly, spiritual passion also needs fueling or re-fueling to keep it burning bright. The spiritual fuel is none other than the Word of God – the Bible.

You may notice that people who are no longer on fire for God do not have time for the Scriptures. They have lost their passion for the Word. If you are in this situation, it’s time to replenish your spiritual energy with the Word of God in order for you to get back to normal.

Keeping the fire of the Holy Spirit burning

It’s important to fuel your fire by staying with the Word. Feed your fire. Don’t depend solely on your pastor or worship leaders in your church. You got to have a fire feeding device of your own. Go the extra mile for God by making it a habit to read the Bible every day.

When a Christian does not take in spiritual food by reading the Bible daily, his spiritual fire will grow dim and flickering. You need the Word of God if you want the fire of the Holy Spirit to burn afresh in your heart.

B – Maintain fellowship with other believers.

You’ve got to stay where the fire is. Being in fellowship with believers who love the Lord and are on fire for God will keep you on fire.

You may have heard or read the story of a certain believer who used to be on fire for God. But after sometime, he stopped going to church so his pastor went to visit him in his house and found him sitting before a roaring fireplace.

The pastor sat next to the man but did not say a word. Suddenly he reached over and pulled a red-hot coal out of the fire and laid it on another side of the fireplace. Within a few minutes, the red-hot coal became a smoldering ember and eventually a cold white ember emitting no heat.

As they both observed what just happened, the man looked at the pastor and said he would be back in church. It’s evident that when you separate a coal from the rest, it will die.

Keeping the fire of the Holy Spirit burning

It’s the same thing with Christians. Believers need each other to keep the fire of the Holy Spirit burning in their lives. Some Christians think they do not need to go to church. They think they will do just fine on their own. However, the Word of God warns us against forsaking the assembling of ourselves together (Hebrews 10:25).

Spiritual growth is never a lonely route and that is why Jesus established the church. The church is a community of believers who worship together, work together, serve together and grow together to lend each other support.

We need other Christians in order to grow. We need regular interaction, fellowship and mutual support. We are to encourage and edify one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Christians who choose to isolate themselves do not grow, they are seldom strong and effective.

Keeping the fire of the Holy Spirit burning

By the way, you should be careful as who you hang around with. The old saying, “Birds of the same feather flock together” is true. You may think you won’t get influenced by non-Christians but the Bible is very clear in saying that, “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV).

This is not to say you must stay away from unbelievers. By all means you should befriend them so you will have the opportunity to share the gospel to them. But you must know where and when to draw the line. If you really want to keep your spiritual fire burning, be with Christians who are on fire for the Lord.

No matter how small or big your church is, as long as they love the Lord and they preach the Word, I encourage you to attend your church and support it faithfully.

C – Be a candle and go light your world.

The Word of God says Christians are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). Christians are candles, and as such, we should go out there and light the world. Believers in Christ are commissioned to share the Gospel into all the world (Matthew 28:19-20).

What if you’re the only Christian in your family? It doesn’t matter as long as you keep your light burning because one candle released can fill the whole house. When the fire of the Holy Spirit is burning bright and clear in your life, you’ll be able to help the people in the dark see clearly.

Keeping the fire of the Holy Spirit burning

Always keep your fire burning because the more the flame burns, the less wax is produced. The wax symbolizes the sins, filth and weaknesses in your life. When the fire of the Holy Spirit is burning brightly in your life, you will be walking and living under the will of God.

More than anything else in the world today, we need a demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us keep the flames burning and take the fire of God’s Spirit to a lost and dying world.

Conclusion

One of the most noted and greatest events in the history of mankind was the Day of Pentecost where the Holy Spirit was poured out; tongues of fire sat upon the disciples and they spoke in other tongues (Acts 2:1-4).

In order to keep the fire burning, we need to constantly be tapping into the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We should not put out or extinguish the fire of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

How is the fire of the Holy Spirit in your life? Is it burning bright and strong? Or is it flickering and may die out soon? You may want to examine yourself. Do you feel tired? Have you lost your spiritual appetite? Are you still energetic in serving God and others?

When God Seems Far Away

When God Seems Far Away

As a Christian, it is inevitable that you will most likely have seasons of your life when you feel far from God. There are times when you simply feel like Jesus is far away for no reason at all. You find it difficult to pray. Or you pray and cry out to God but it seems that God is deaf because He doesn’t answer. You’ve lost motivation to get into His Word or you read your Bible but it does not speak to you. You seek God but it seems as if He has hidden His face from you.

If you have experienced either of these situations, let me assure you that it is completely normal. I don’t know a single Christian who hasn’t felt this way in one way or another. There will be times in the life of every Christian, when even though you are walking by faith and there is no known sin in your life, God seems far away.

You’re Not Alone

David, the man whom God called “a man after My own heart,” had that experience which he expressed in Psalm 13:1-2. There is no indication in these verses that David sinned and yet out of the depths of his heart he repeats four times the haunting cry, “How long?” While David’s enemy was about to get him, God seemed unavailable (Psalm 13:3-4). It seemed as if God had forgotten David.

Jesus understood more than David did how it meant to be forsaken by God. Jesus’ last three hours on the cross as He was bearing upon Himself the sins of the world, was characterized by silence and darkness and God’s seeming deafness to the pleas and cries of His Son (Matthew 27:45-46). Jesus quoted Psalm 22:1 as an expression of the worst horror of human misery; namely, the feeling of being forsaken by God.

When God Seems Far Away

Often times we overlook the fact of Jesus’ humanity. On the cross, Jesus expressed the ultimate cry of desolation and despair which is enough for us to know that He understands how painful and heart breaking this experience can be. The cry of desperation is our response to how our circumstances look to us – God seems so far away and has forsaken us.

Has this ever happened to you? You desperately called out to God for help, but He seemed to be on an extended vacation. What are you supposed to do?

Call to the Lord and Trust in His Unfailing Love

Psalm 13:5-6 tells you what to do when God seems far away. David stopped crying out in anguish. Instead, he praises the Lord and finally rests in the joy of knowing that God will answer him. When God seemed far away, David learned to call to Him and trust in His unfailing love.

Did the Father forsake His Son and remained distant? No! Perhaps God looked away from the sin Jesus carried when He was dying on the cross but did not actually abandon Him. Jesus was innocent and had done nothing to forfeit the favor of God.

When God Seems Far AwayIn times when it seems God has turned His back, we must learn to trust the fact that He loves us with an unfailing love. Let us have confidence in God’s promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), even though it may seem that way for a while. There will be times when we have to wait for God’s answer to our petition and we are uncertain how long it would take. But the problem is that we are often in a hurry when God isn’t but His timing is always perfect.

Seek God especially when He seems Far Away

It’s very unfortunate that many Christians do not grow to maturity because when God seems far away from them, they do not call out to Him. Instead, they just shrug their shoulders and go right back into the world. Let us learn from David who called to God despite feeling being forsaken by Him. We must seek God especially when He seems far away.

When God Seems Far AwayDid you know that the real test of your faith is not when God’s presence is real and when you see God at work in your life? The real test of your faith is when God seems far away and you are left wondering why. Do you seek God when you come to the point where you can no longer feel God’s presence near you? Or do you look somewhere else for a quick fix?

Seek the Lord and You will Find Him

God gives us a divine promise that when we seek God with all our heart, we will find Him (Jer. 29:13; Deuteronomy 4:29). Jesus also promised not to cast out anyone who comes to Him (John 6:37). So even though God seems distant, just keep seeking Him. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).

Oh and by the way, while you’re seeking God, you might feel as if you’re doing all the seeking but the truth is, God Himself has seeded within you the hunger for Him. Your longings for God are proof that He is actively working in your life. It might seem like this is due to the influence of friends and circumstances, but in reality God is just using them as means.

Keep an Awareness of God and the Enemy at All Times

When God seems far away
Photo Credits: The Beacon

When I gave my life to Christ, I gained the most wonderful and most powerful Friend in the whole wide world. However, I also gained a fearsome foe – Satan and his demons. Yes, Satan is nothing compared to God as he’s not as smart and not as powerful; he is nevertheless, a superhumanly powerful, evil genius. He uses the power of deception to fool new believers into doubting God’s power and reality in their lives by trying to manipulate their feelings.

As a new Christian, I felt nothing at first. Although I enjoyed the music during praise and worship and loved the messages/sermons delivered by the speakers, I did not really feel like I was in contact with God. I looked around me and saw people crying, singing, worshiping in tongues and enjoying God’s presence. And I thought, Why am I not feeling it? What is wrong with me?”

I only realized later on that it will take some time for a new Christian to receive more and more evidence and awareness of God’s presence. Like the growth of a tree, much of God’s work is not immediately obvious. It takes time to realize that God is right here with us and is actually working in us and through us. Well, the enemy will do anything in his power to deceive us but other than the power of deception, he can do nothing else.

As I continued to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus, I began to feel His nearness and constant presence in my life. I learned that communication is key to keeping God close at hand. Spending more time with God will keep us conscious of His love and His presence with us all the time.

Feelings Vs. Reality

We may feel different when we go from a valley to a mountaintop experience, but little or nothing in us has actually changed. All that happens when we’re on a peak is that we can see further with our own eyes. Being highly conscious of God’s love will keep us aware of His constant presence in our lives. One important thing we need to realize is that feelings and spiritual reality often do not coincide.

When God Seems Far AwayIn times when we can’t see God’s love and goodness and we feel nothing, we need to learn that although the weather changes, people change or feelings change, God remains solid rock, totally true and dependable forever. God wants us to learn to trust Him rather than trusting our emotions. God has promised to love us, be with us, forgive us and hear our prayers, but not once has He promised we will “feel” anything. So stand on the promises of God and not on what He has not promised.

Despite what we feel during periods of spiritual loneliness, God’s faithful presence with us is an unchanging and eternal reality. We are never alone because Jesus promised that He will be with us always even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20). This doesn’t mean we will never feel like God is far away because throughout Scriptures we see experiences of spiritual loneliness.

Conclusion

In times of difficulty, men reason, If there is a loving Father God, why does He seem far away?” “Why does He allow bad things to happen?” 

The story of the disciples on the boat at sea gives us a picture of the natural reaction of humans when we feel like God isn’t there (Matthew 8:23-27). The disciples are on a boat, and a storm suddenly appears. What did they do? They immediately panicked because Jesus was asleep. They woke Him up and Jesus rebuked them as if He was saying, “Guys, did you think I wasn’t present just because I was asleep? I was still there with you and I was fully aware of the storm.”

God will never leave your side, even when you feel like He’s so far away. He wants to assure you that He is with you, He has always been and He always will be. He will never leave your side – whether you feel that way or not. What a comfort that no matter how we are feeling, good or bad, God is above it all.


Recommended Resource:

When Heaven Seems Silent: How to Wait on God’s Promises Through Pain, Disappointment, and Doubt – eBook
By Mark and Tammy Endres

We know God’s plans and timing are perfect—but what do we do in the meantime? Why does God make us wait, knowing it can be so difficult? Why doesn’t He act when time seems to be running out? Why does He answer some prayers in a moment and yet fulfill other promises after having us wait days, years, or even decades before the promise comes to pass?

Mark and Tammy Endres have asked these questions and more. Though Mark was born with only one functioning hand, God has told them—again and again—that His plan is for complete healing. In When Heaven Seems Silent they share the lessons they have learned as they wait—lessons that have forever changed their perspective of God and how He works in the lives of His children. Through their inspiring story you will discover how to:

·          Hear God’s voice
·          Overcome disappointment
·          Wait without anger or offense
·          Face your emotions
·         Hold on to God’s promises, and much more!