Category: Christian Growth

Life Lessons from Jonah

Life Lessons from Jonah

Each of the chapters in the book of Jonah records a significant lesson the prophet had to learn. These parallel in many ways the life lessons God consistently and patiently tries to teach each of us along the way.

Overview of the Book of Jonah

Most people are familiar with the story of Jonah that nothing in it surprises them anymore. But what’s the book of Jonah all about?

It’s not simply about a great fish (mentioned only 4 times), or a great city (mentioned 9 times), or even a disobedient prophet (named 23 times).

It’s about God! Do you know that God is mentioned 37 times in these 4 short chapters? And if you eliminate God from the book, the story wouldn’t make sense.

Jonah’s Wrong Attitudes

I’m pretty sure most of us can relate to Jonah. He is one of the characters in the Bible who cause us to sigh and think, “Well, if there’s hope for Jonah, there’s hope for me.”

But then we must understand that the Bible was written for us so that we will not make the same mistakes they made.

You see, in his story, Jonah got into trouble because his attitudes were wrong.

What about our attitudes? Can we honestly say that we have become better people since God recreated us? 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”

Becoming a New Creation

You see, to be a new creation is to be changed. There has to be a change in character, change in viewpoints, change in our motivations, goals, and priorities. This is what we call sanctification, or becoming more and more like Christ.

In this article, I would like us to look at the life of Jonah and use his responses to God and the world around him for self-evaluation. If we find ourselves living out the same worldview as God’s resistant and reluctant prophet, then we are definitely in need of an attitude upgrade.

1. Wrong Attitude toward the Word of God

First of all, Jonah got into trouble because he had the wrong attitude toward the word of God, which is also the Will of God.

When the Word of the Lord came to Jonah, what did he do? He consciously and deliberately disobeyed God.

The Lord asked Jonah to “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me” (Jonah 1:2). But instead of going 550 miles northeast to Nineveh, Jonah attempted to go 2,500 miles west to Tarshish (modern-day Spain).

Jonah’s Deliberately Disobeys God

As we can see, God’s instruction to Jonah was crystal clear. It’s not as if God was speaking in ambiguity or uncertainty. He wasn’t speaking in parables or some figurative speech either. We must understand that God does not tell us one thing and expects us to do another thing.

Yet Jonah decided to disobey God. Now, why is that?

Jonah’s wrong attitude toward God’s word stemmed from a feeling that the Lord was asking him to do something impossible. Alright, what was God asking Jonah to do exactly?

Well, God told Jonah to go to Israel’s enemy, Assyria, and allow them to repent.

The Great City of Nineveh
Photo Credits: Jesus Way 4 You

Note 1: The city of Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire and was also a large and prominent city in its day.

Just a quick refresher, when Israel was divided into two kingdoms, the Babylonians conquered Judah and the Assyrians conquered Israel. And the Assyrians were very abusive toward the Jewish people. Just read Nahum chapter 3 to see how wicked they are.

Jonah’s Patriotism Gets in the Way

For Jonah to preach God’s message of repentance to the Assyrians would be like helping Israel’s enemy. It’s like working with the enemy of your country that wants to destroy your people. Anyone who does that today would be considered a traitor and will be tried for treason.

In his patriotic zeal, Jonah put his country before his God. Jonah didn’t want the notoriously cruel Assyrians in Nineveh to escape God’s judgment. He would much rather have seen the city destroyed.

Note 2: We need to understand that there is a divine order that God has put in place with regard to submission to authorities. God is the one who sets up kings and rulers and we are commanded to submit to them.

But when the governing authorities hold to a position that is in clear and direct violation of the Word of God, we must choose to obey God rather than men (the same way Peter and the other disciples and Daniel’s friends did).

God’s Challenging Commands

What are some of the things God commanded us that we find very difficult to do?

1. Love your enemies.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (Matthew 5:43-44, NKJV).

To love your enemies, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who hate or abuse us is easier said than done.

2. Forgive those who have hurt or offended you.

This command is incorporated in the Lord’s prayer.

“Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:12, NLT).

Take note that this is in the past tense. It means before we even come to God in prayer, we should have already forgiven our offenders.

Forgive your offenders

The Sovereignty of God

When the word of the Lord came to him, Jonah thought he could take it or leave it. That whether he does what God asked him to do or not won’t matter to God. And that God would leave him alone.

As it turned out, that’s not exactly what happened. God used a creative series of counter-measures to accomplish His desired result.

Lesson 1

Jonah learned the lesson of God’s patience. We can run far, but we can’t run away from God.

Jonah attempted to run as far away as possible from God. But before reaching his desired destination, God took a hold of him. We can see in the next events that took place that God was very patient with Jonah (Jonah 1:4-17).

Although God was no longer speaking to Jonah through His Word; He continued speaking to him through His works. God used the sea, wind, storm, and even the huge fish to carry out His plans. Notice that everything in nature obeyed God, except His servant Jonah.

In the beginning, I said that Jonah got into trouble because his attitudes were wrong. But his disobedience to God also brought trouble to a boatload of pagan sailors.

God had called the Jews to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth (Genesis 12:1-3) but whenever they were out of the will of God, they brought trouble instead of blessings.

Self-Reflection

Are you a blessing to others, especially to those who do not yet have a relationship with God? Do unbelievers see God’s glory in you? As the saying goes, “You may be the only Bible some people read.” The idea behind this phrase is that Christians should live the “Christian life” for everyone to see.

2 Corinthians 5:20 says we are Christ’s ambassadors. Matthew 5:13-16 says we are the salt and light of the world. Are we living our calling and commission?

Going back to Jonah’s story, Jonah found himself inside the belly of a fish and stayed there for 3 days and 3 nights. He then cried out to God for deliverance and the fish vomited him onto dry land.

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Lesson 2

Jonah learned the lesson of God’s pardon. God forgives those who call upon Him. See Romans 10:11, 13.

While inside the belly of a huge fish, Jonah cried out to God for deliverance. And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land (Jonah 2:1-9).

But it didn’t end there. God gave Jonah a second chance. He gave him the same commission – go to Nineveh and preach the message of God’s upcoming judgment. And Jonah eventually obeyed God.

Think about Jonah’s experience. He had to experience getting stuck inside the belly of a huge fish for 3 days and 3 nights before obeying God.

Do we realize that oftentimes we find ourselves in deep trouble because of our wrong attitudes? We always like to blame Satan for our misfortunes and failures because it’s convenient. It takes away the accountability from us.

But if we would just look deep down, we would discover that we are as much to blame. Our blessings are often delayed because of our disobedience. We often get into trouble because of our rebellion.

When God commands us, we must listen and obey. In the ministry that God has entrusted to us, our part is to obey. In our partnership with God in accomplishing His purpose through us, our part is to obey. Disobedience is NOT an option!

God Gives Jonah Second Chance

What was the message that Jonah preached to the great city of Nineveh?

On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed” (Jonah 3:4, NLT)!

After hearing Jonah’s message, the people believed God, a fast was proclaimed for everyone from the greatest to the least of them and they put on sackcloth, including their animals. The king of Nineveh also got off his throne, laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.

“For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Everything they did was a sign of repentance, humility, and surrender. But they did not stop there. They also cried out to God, prayed earnestly, turned from their evil ways, and violence (Jonah 3:5-8).

This is perhaps the greatest revival of all time as the entire city of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and cried out to God.

Lesson 3

Once again, Jonah learned the lesson of God’s pardon and forgiveness to those who call upon Him. But then, he also learned the lesson of God’s power as he saw a whole city humble itself before the Lord.

In the end, the Lord’s will has prevailed and Jonah’s efforts to thwart God’s plans were pointless.

This is a powerful reminder not only to Jonah but to us all of the sovereignty of God in every circumstance.

Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose” (Isaiah 46:9-10, ESV).

2. Wrong Attitude toward Circumstances

Jonah also had a wrong attitude toward circumstances; he thought they were working for him when they were really working against him.

Let’s break down what happened here in Jonah 1:1-5.

So, Jonah decided to disobey God and run away from Him. He fled to Joppa and found just the right ship waiting for him (ship heading to Tarshish).

He had enough money to pay the fare for his long trip, and he was even able to go down into the lowest part of the ship and fall into a deep sleep that the storm didn’t awaken him.

Hey, look at that! Everything seems to be working out perfectly for Jonah.

Stephen Prado, Jesus is Alive CMNV Monumento

Clearly, we can be out of the will of God and still have circumstances working on our behalf. We can be rebelling against God and still have a false sense of security that includes a good night’s sleep.

Could it be that it’s the devil who is going out of his way to help us disobey and escape from God? Of course! But most of the time we don’t see it this way. It’s because even when we are out of the will of God, things seem to be going smoothly.

3. Wrong Attitude toward the Gentiles

Instead of wanting to help the Assyrians find the true and living God, Jonah wanted to abandon them in their darkness and spiritual death and he wanted them to perish under God’s mighty hand.

Why do you think Jonah disobeyed God when he was first told to go to Nineveh and announce God’s judgments against it? It’s because he already anticipated what would happen.

Jonah knew that the Assyrians would repent and call out to the Lord for His mercy and forgiveness. And God, being merciful and compassionate, would relent or change His mind about destroying Nineveh. And that was the last thing that Jonah wanted to happen.

He was reluctant to preach God’s message because he didn’t want to give the Assyrians a chance to repent!

Now, think about that for just a moment. Jonah was God’s messenger, a representative of the God of Israel to the Gentiles. But he certainly didn’t act like one. When his one-sentence sermon brought in incredible results, which can be said to be the most responsive evangelistic effort in history, Jonah was displeased.

And when God did not destroy Nineveh, Jonah became angry. Read Jonah 4:1-11.

God’s Love vs. Jonah’s Anger

In the 4th chapter of Jonah, we see God’s love and grace contrasted with Jonah’s anger and lack of compassion. So, God used a plant, a worm, and a wind to teach Jonah a lesson in compassion.

In a humorous but meaningful account, Jonah was forced to see that he had more concern for a plant than for hundreds of thousands of people (120,000). He just didn’t care if the Assyrians perished.

Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city (Jonah 4:10-11, NLT)?

That’s a huge contrast with Abraham who pleaded with God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16-33).

God is compassionate and gracious

Lesson 4

Jonah learned, perhaps the most important lesson of all. Here, he had to learn the lesson of God’s pity, that God has compassion for lost sinners like the Ninevites and His servants must also have compassion.

We may have always thought that God’s desire for the salvation of the Gentiles only came up in the Gospels when the Jews rejected His message.

But the book of Jonah, unlike other Old Testament books, revolves exclusively around a Gentile nation. We see here that God is concerned not only for His covenant people Israel but for the Gentiles as well.

The story of Jonah is one of the clearest demonstrations of God’s love and mercy for all mankind in the entire Scriptures.

How is our attitude towards those who are still in the dark? How do we treat people who do not know the Lord, are hostile to us and are in danger of facing God’s judgment during the Tribulation?

Conclusion

As I said from the start, the book of Jonah is all about God. First, it is about the will of God and how we respond to it. Do you see yourself in Jonah’s shoes? How do you respond to God’s commands? Jesus said this in Luke 6:46.

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?”

To know God’s Word and His will is a privilege. But doing the will of God makes us grow in grace and become more like Christ. We may think it’s hard but God will enable us. We just have to allow God to work in us and He will transform us into His image from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18, NASB).

The book of Jonah is also about the love of God and how we share it with others. Incredibly, Jonah brought a whole city to faith in the Lord, yet he didn’t love the people to whom he was preaching. Jonah took God’s repeated pity on his own life for granted while he expected extinction for the sinners in Nineveh.

How often do we expect God to treat us one way while we pray He will treat others according to an entirely different standard? Let us apply Jesus’ words to Jonah’s situation and ours.

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12, NASB).

In other words, the grace we expect from God, we ought to ask Him to give to others.


Recommended Resource:

The Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God’s Mercy by Timothy Keller.

An angry prophet. A feared and loathsome enemy. A devastating storm. And the surprising message of a merciful God to His people.

In The Prodigal Prophet, pastor and New York Times bestselling author Timothy Keller reveals the hidden depths within the book of Jonah.

Keller makes the case that Jonah was one of the worst prophets in the entire Bible. And yet there are unmistakably clear connections between Jonah, the prodigal son, and Jesus. Jesus in fact saw himself in Jonah.

How could one of the most defiant and disobedient prophets in the Bible be compared to Jesus?

Jonah’s journey also doesn’t end when he is freed from the belly of the fish. There is an entire second half to his story – but it is left unresolved within the text of the Bible. Why does the book of Jonah end on what is essentially a cliffhanger?

In these pages, Timothy Keller provides an answer to the extraordinary conclusion of this biblical parable – and shares the powerful Christian message at the heart of Jonah’s story.

Blessings for Waiting on God

Blessings for Waiting on God

People say that waiting is probably the hardest thing to do. But God promises blessings for those who wait on Him.

Do you know that waiting is a command that is found multiple times in both the Old and New Testaments? Which means there is a blessing (or blessings) that comes with it. God did not give us commands to make life difficult for us or to punish us. On the contrary, God’s commandments were designed to protect and bless us.

The Challenge of Waiting

The game show “Family Feud” is very popular not only in the west but in Asian countries as well. And if we ask one hundred people to name the toughest thing to do, waiting would probably rank at number 1.

My job as a Lab. Tech. Involves performing scientific analyses on blood and other body fluids. This is primarily to aid the requesting physicians in their diagnosis and treatment of patients. So, we collect the sample(s) from the patients and tell them to wait an hour or so for the result.

Why We Should Wait on the Lord

Almost immediately they’d say, “What? That’s too much. I can’t wait that long. I’ve already waited for more than an hour to see the doctor. And now, you’re telling me to wait for another one hour?” To that, I would just wink at them. At times, I would respond, “We will do our best to finish your lab investigations before one hour. Thank you for understanding.”

Our lab receptionist often gets irritated every time patients nag at her about when their results will be ready. This can also be irritating for us because we have to speed up just to keep things calm.

People, in general, hate to wait.

Waiting on the Lord

What does it mean to wait on the Lord? When people in the Old Testament were told to wait on the Lord, most of the time, it meant waiting on God’s providential care. It’s about trusting the Lord to provide for their needs, keep them safe and secure, and work things out for their good.

Check out these two verses:

1. Hosea 12:6 (NIV)

“But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.”

2. Psalm 27:14 (NIV)

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

These are not only commands but encouragements to rely completely on God in regard to their situation.

In the New Testament, waiting on the Lord often refers to Jesus’ second coming. There are a lot of passages that talk about the return of Christ. Let us look at just two of them.

Titus 2:13 (NIV)

“While we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Philippians 3:20 (NASB)

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

But in most all biblical instances, waiting on the Lord is expectant trust and hope in God’s movement and activity. It means trusting God to do things in His own timetable.

How do we wait on the Lord?

In my article, “The Power of Waiting on the Lord,” I mentioned the three P’s of waiting:

The Blessings of Waiting on God

The Benefits of Waiting on God

There are several benefits (or blessings) for the Christian who faithfully waits on God. Here are just three of them.

1. Waiting Builds Up Our Relationship with God.

When we do not know what to do about something, we should wait and pray. Prayer should be our first option, not last. Often times we get caught up just doing something that we neglect to hold still, listen, and know that He is God.

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a).

Prayer is two-way communication with God. We don’t just talk, talk, talk, and then walk away without letting God speak. I used to hear one pastor always say, “Communication is relation. No communication means no relation.”

This is true in every relationship. The reason married many couples today end up in divorce is a lack of communication. Both have become so busy with their own careers that they no longer have time to talk with each other. On the other hand, couples who are committed to always find time to talk and bond develop deeper intimacy.

It’s the same thing with our relationship with God. Spending more time talking with and listening to God deepens our relationship with Him. We will get to know God for who He is and learn to trust Him instead of depending on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT).

2. Waiting Allows God’s Perfect Will to be Done.

You may be praying for a better job, a promotion, a life partner, or the salvation of your friends and other family members. Keep seeking the Lord and wait for Him to carry out His perfect will in your life

The reason we end up making the wrong decisions is that we did not seek the Lord. Or perhaps we did. The problem is, we did not wait for His answer. We were in a hurry that we did not just trip. Worst, we ended up falling flat on our faces!

Why? It’s because we got impatient waiting for God’s directions and acted on our impulses. We chose to go with our guts and it turned out, it was a huge mistake. Too late now, huh?

The Benefits of Waiting on God

Patience is one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Sadly, many Christians are struggling to let it be manifested in their lives. This fruit of the Holy Spirit, along with the other eight, is given to us the moment we got born again.

But we have to let it rule us, instead of letting the desires of the flesh reign. As the Bible says, the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit (Galatians 5:6-17).

My Will versus God’s

Failing to seek the Lord’s will before making major life decisions such as marriage is almost certain to end up in divorce. This is exactly what happened to my high school best friend, Tess.

Tess is a believer in Jesus and the leader of the dance ministry in our church. Like most single moms, my friend had been praying for a life partner.

While waiting for God’s providence, she focused her time and attention on her ministry in the church. As the leader of the dance ministry, she committed to training future dancers for the Lord.

One day, a fellow church member introduced Tess to her cousin who was at that time working in another country. They then started communicating through their phones. Six months down the road and they officially became a couple. Another six months passed and they decided to meet in person.

They met and the next day the guy proposed. Without taking some time to seek the Lord, Tess said “Yes!” What happened a year later left my friend devastated. It didn’t work out no matter how hard she tried.

Tess’s story is a classic example of “my will versus God’s.” If she would have just waited and consulted with God, she’d be spared of the heartaches and troubles.

So many of us are waiting for something and as we wait, we can become discouraged and start asking when the waiting will ever end. Will God ever answer my prayer?

The point here is, let us all learn to wait and wait patiently for God’s timing (Psalm 37:7a, NASB).


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

3. Waiting Focuses Our Attention on Heavenly Things.

Patiently waiting on God enables us to get our attention off this world and focus on heavenly things (Colossians 3:1-2). How so? To wait on God does not mean moping around doing anything. Being idle causes us to get bored all the more while waiting on the Lord.

Although we cannot tell how long we have to wait, we can be sure that God will answer our prayers in His own time. In the meantime, let us focus on God and His works. Let us be God’s instruments to accomplish His will and purpose on earth.

May we desire heavenly and eternal things over earthly which are only temporary (2 Corinthians 4:18).

As we wait for God’s directions, His answers to our prayers, and His Second Coming, let us continue to occupy. Let’s get down to doing the Father’s business – fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20)!

The Benefits of Waiting on God

Conclusion

What if we get tired of waiting?

Reality check; it doesn’t matter how strong you think you are. There will come a time when you grow old and weak. At which point you begin to lose all the energy needed to keep up with the daily challenges of life.

God’s promise? He will not only give us strength and power; He will also renew our strength from time to time (Isaiah 40:29-31). We just need to learn to wait.

Yes, we get tired; we become weak. But God will enable us to do what we need to do. Here’s more, God will let us soar during a crisis. Do you know what they always say? Walking in the ordinary pressures of life can be much more difficult than flying like an eagle in a time of crisis.

We are also able to run when the challenges are many and to walk faithfully in the routine day-to-day demands of life.

As another Christian blogger said, “Prayer is powerful. But always remember that God works according to His timetable, not yours. Be patient.”

But we need to trust God and wait patiently for Him to carry out His perfect will. If we take the time to pursue God’s direction and wait for His response, we will get much better results.

When we trust in God to direct our steps, rely on His timing, and live for Him, He will see us through to victory.

Here’s a beautiful and encouraging song by Don Moen, “Like Eagles.”

 

Psalm 51 Devotional

Psalm 51 Devotional

Today’s post is a devotional and reflection on Psalm 51. In this chapter, we read of King David’s confession and repentance after the prophet Nathan rebuked him of his sin (See 2 Samuel 12:1-14).

Living in a No-Fault Society

We live in a society where most people have adopted the “I’m-not-responsible” mentality. Every time we do something wrong, we say, “Oh no, not my fault!” We blame our parents, others, and even God, but never ourselves.

Picture this scenario after the fall:

Adam was out walking with his sons Cain and Abel. As they passed by the gates of the Garden of Eden, one of the boys asked, “What is that dad?” Adam replied, “That’s where your mother ate us out of house and home.”

See? Adam faced responsibility like a modern man – he blamed his wife.

But isn’t this what Adam did? Oh yeah! When he and his wife were caught in disobedience and God confronted them, Adam immediately pointed his finger at Eve. And Eve in her defense blamed the serpent.

We’ve been living in a no-fault generation since the time of Adam and Eve.

You Are the Man!

In Psalm 51, Prophet Nathan has confronted David with a story of wrongdoing: “King David, a poor man’s lamb was stolen and eaten by a rich man giving a party. What shall be done?” David, reacting instantly said, “The man who did this should die!”

Nathan looked at the ashen face of King David and said, “You are the man!”

Psalm 51: David's Confession and Repentance

Right there and then, King David confessed and repented. The fountains of his soul broke as the pent-up passion of remorse, shame, guilt, and anxiety released the flood of tears. He approached God’s throne sobbing and said:

“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving kindness. According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions and my sin is always before me” (Psalm 51:1-3).

Taking Full Responsibility

Without hesitation, David took full responsibility. As king, he held absolute power, living beyond the reach of the people. Why confess? There was not a reporter waiting to ask, “Is it true that your subordinate set up a rendezvous with Bathsheba?” No one else knew about this. Yet, David confesses of his “transgressions, iniquity and sin (Psalm 51:1-3).

While a modern man would say, “It’s the woman’s fault for bathing naked in the moonlight on the roof. She should have used a shower curtain. She did it on purpose!” Or turn at the prophet of God and say, “You, Nathan, are out of step with the new morality.”

David claimed the sin as his own without ever mentioning Bathsheba. He never tried to blame Uriah either.

How do you react when a servant of God confronts you with a sin you thought nobody else knew? Do you immediately confess and repent? Or do you harden your heart and point out the hypocrisy of others, especially your church leaders?

David’s Three-Part Confession

David’s confession had three parts, not one thought three times, but three different views of one repentance.

“My transgression” was the open rebellion against God, knowing what he did was wrong, yet he did it anyway. “My iniquity” refers to David’s deception in trying to hide his sin. To conceal the fact that David got Bathsheba pregnant, he murdered Uriah.

There is no such thing as a secret sin. Sooner or later, God will expose all deception and shout it out from the rooftops. “For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:17).

“My sin” was David’s murder of Uriah, breaking his fellowship with God. David acknowledged his sin before God and said, “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight.” (Psalm 51:4).

Psalm 51 Devotional

To restore his fellowship with God, David cried to God, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7).

Hyssop was the branch with which the blood of the lamb was applied over the doorposts of Jewish homes in Egypt in the night of Passover. Once the blood was applied, that home was safe from the death angel.

The Bible says, “In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission from sin (Hebrews 9:22).

A Plea for Restoration

David was a musician since childhood. He had played for Saul and brought gladness to his heart. But because of his sin, he could no longer enjoy music. Sin had destroyed his song and so he begged this of God:

“Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which You have broken may rejoice” (Psalm 51:8).

Sin consumed him like the excruciating pain of a broken bone.

Nathan told David that God would forgive him, but the sword would not depart from his house (2 Samuel 12:10). David suffered deeply for his sin. His first child with Bathsheba died shortly after its birth (2 Samuel 12:15-18). His daughter Tamar was raped by her half-brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13:1-20). Absalom became a rebel who wanted to kill him (2 Samuel 15 – 17).

David first asked God to “blot out his sin” and then to “wash it away” (Psalm 51:1-2). The Hebrew word for wash meant “to trample.” In those days, women put clothes in the stream and trampled them clean with their feet.

There is no English word for the Hebrew word here translated “cleanse.” The closest word would be to “unsin.” It means that when David stands before God, He will say to him, “I find no fault in this man. He is whiter than snow.” God will not say, “Oh, David, you had a great career but you ruined it by committing adultery with Bathsheba and murdering Uriah.”

David Looks Ahead

After David’s confession, Nathan said, “The Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die” (2 Samuel 12:13). David’s sin was gone – forgiven instantly. David continued to be open to the word of prophecy, and as he looked into the future, he saw the millennial reign.

“Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion; build the walls of Jerusalem” (Psalm 51:18).

What a joy and encouragement to know that God will not count our sins against us when we confess and repent. When we cry out to God, He does not retain His anger forever and pardons our iniquity. He will show us compassion and casts our sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).

Concluding Thoughts

We must take responsibility for our lives and stop making silly excuses. When we go astray from the will of God, we must accept that we are “guilty as charged” and confess our sins. God will rush to blot them out, never to remember them again (Isaiah 43:25; Hebrews 8:12).

We must not try to conceal our sins, nor blame them on others. We must, by all means, avoid doing things that we know full well are in rebellion against God.

Each of us must choose the New Jerusalem or the Lake of Fire. Our eternal soul is at stake. When we come before God and cry out to Him, He promises to forgive and restore us.


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Recommended Resource: Praying with the Psalms: A Year of Daily Prayers and Reflections on the Words of David by Eugene H. Peterson

Prayer is both our most human action and our most human language. But, as with any other language, we may find ourselves clumsy and undisciplined in our attempts at it.

Praying with the Psalms can help Christians become fluent in the language of prayer, encouraging us to pray even when we don’t feel like it, and to learn prayers that are both honest and right.

Based on the life and words of David, the Psalms provide insightful reflections on depression, anger, frustration, fear, and insecurity, as well as joy exhilaration, triumph, and gladness.

Praying with the Psalms offers daily readings to guide us in expressing to God the wide range of human emotions. Through this enriched communication with God, we are led to a deeper understanding and a truer following of his will.

The Power of Great Faith

The Power of Great Faith

The great faith of the centurion in Matthew 8:5-13 is one of the well-known stories in the Bible on the power of faith to heal. This centurion was a man of power and influence. Everything about this officer should have prevented him from coming to Jesus.

The centurion was a professional soldier, and Jesus was a man of peace. He was a Gentile, and Jesus was a Jew. Yet, when this one centurion’s servant became ill, he sought help from the Great Physician. Why?

It’s because this soldier had one thing working for him. He was a man of great faith. He understood that Jesus, like himself, had authority and was under authority. All Christ had to do was speak the word, and the disease would obey Him the way a soldier obeyed his officer.

Faith to Heal

When the centurion came to Jesus asking for help, Jesus said that He would come to his house to heal his servant (Matthew 8:5-7). But the centurion said Jesus did not have to come to his house. “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8).

Jesus marveled and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” (Matthew 8:10)! And his servant was healed that same hour.

So, you see, faith is not only a saving faith but a healing faith. The Word of God promises divine healing and miracles (Psalm 107:20).

The Power of Great Faith

Jesus Promises Healing

In the first promise of healing, the Lord said this in Exodus 15:26:

“If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.”

David said that God’s medicare program was so successful for the Israelites that …

“He also brought them out with silver and gold, and there was none feeble among His tribes” (Psalm 105:37).

The Agent of Healing

Healing is not a result of wishful thinking. The centurion didn’t wish healing upon his servant. Instead, he sought out the One who had the power to heal, Jesus the Son of God.

We read this in Isaiah 53:4-5.

“Surely, He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes, we are healed.”

The words borne and carry denote more than sympathy. They represent actual substitution and the removal of the thing being borne. When Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), death and all its power were conquered, including the power of sickness. Disease is subservient to Jesus.

The healings of Jesus were continuous. Jesus never turned away anyone seeking healing.

“When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:16-17).

Healings in the Church Today

Does Jesus’ ministry of healing continue until today? This is the question that many Christians are asking. Let us look at what Scriptures say about this.

To the church, Jesus said this:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:12-13).

This promise has never been rescinded. At the beginning of the New Testament church, this power was committed not only to the apostles, who would soon pass away. It was also passed on to the elders (James 5:14).

People could be healed in every church where elders would pray the prayer of faith and anoint with oil in the name of Jesus. The power of Jesus to heal has never been diminished. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 12:8).

The centurion said, “Speak a word, and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8). We, too, can call on Jesus to heal us. We call on Jesus and exercise great faith because the power of great faith to heal is still at work today.

Does God Always Heal?

If God still works miracles today and His healing ministry continues, why is it that some people don’t get healed? Perhaps you know somebody who was terminally ill and had been prayed over many times but did not receive their healing.

I used to have this question too. I wondered why God heals some and lets the others succumb to death. What could be God’s basis for deciding who gets healed and who doesn’t?

I wrote an article as to why doesn’t God heal everyone who asks in faith for healing. In it, I shared the story of a former Muslim who came to faith in Christ. After studying and comparing the Quran and the Bible, he concluded that the evidence for Christianity is more compelling.

You can read all about it here.

At the end of the day, we need to acknowledge that God is sovereign. We may not have the answers to all our questions but we need to trust God for He knows what He is doing.

Closing Thoughts

Twice the Gospels record that Jesus was amazed (or marveled) at the faith of the centurion: 1) Matthew 8:10-12 and in Luke 7:9 and 2) at the unbelief of the Jews (Mark 6:6).

This is an early indication that the Jews would not believe, but the Gentiles would. Also, in both of these miracles, our Lord healed from a distance. This was a reminder of the spiritual position of the Gentiles “being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise” (Ephesians 2:12).

Praise God for healing; praise God for miracles!

How is your faith? Can you say with confidence that you have great faith? The kind of faith that heals?


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource: Faith Believing in the God Who Works on Your Behalf by Yonggi Cho and Wayde Goodall

Faith by Yonggi Cho and Wayde Goodall What can we learn from the Scriptures about how to trust God no matter what, and believe in something that is not yet seen?

As a young man with only weeks to live, Yonggi Cho was healed of terminal illness, saw the resurrected Jesus, and quickly began sharing God’s hope with others. Those listeners became the world’s largest church.

In Faith, Pastor Cho and Dr. Wayde Goodall share how to:

  • Understand and grow in your faith.
  • Walk with the Holy Spirit and produce the fruit of the Spirit.
  • Overcome mistakes and continue to depend on Christ in times of discouragement.
  • Believe for and trust God’s supernatural power.
  • Use every situation to accomplish tremendous things for God’s kingdom.

For our lives to work, we need faith—the kind of faith that gives birth to hope and chooses to believe in every circumstance. God will answer prayer, heal, and perform signs and wonders as we walk daily by faith. You can trust God as your source, security, and assurance.

Finding Hope Amidst Difficult Times

Finding Hope Amidst Difficult Times

The year 2020 could well go down in history as one of the most challenging years we all had to face as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic. But we cannot and should not lose hope. Amidst trials and in difficult times, there is hope. Christians can enjoy living in victory even when all hope seems to be lost.

In this post are some principles God has laid out in His Word that every believer in Jesus should apply if they expect to live victoriously this new year 2021 and onward.

The Babylonian Captivity

The Babylonian Captivity, also known as the Babylonian Exile, is a period in biblical history that highlights the restoration of the nation of Israel. But while in exile, it is apparent that the Jews were on the verge of losing hope. Will they ever get out from this ordeal and safely go back to their land?

Considering that when King Nebuchadnezzar II took the Jews captive, Babylon was an up and coming world superpower. How could the Jews be confident that God was up to the job of delivering them from the hands of the Babylonians?

Babylonian Exile
Photo Credits: Ancient Pages

In chapter 3 of Isaiah, we read God reminding the Jewish exiles about who He is and what He is capable of doing for them. We read the following in Isaiah 43:16-19 (NIV):

This is what the Lord says – He who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Biblical Principles for a Victorious Life

In the passage quoted above, God, through the prophet Isaiah, gave four instructions to the nation of Israel.

1. Remember God’s Great Works in the Past.

Verses 16-17 looks back to what God did for Israel when He brought them out of the land of Egypt through the wilderness to Canaan (Exodus 14). God parted the Red Sea so they could cross and escape the Egyptian armies.

Isaiah powerfully brings up these images when he writes of the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements of these enemies of God’s people, and how they shall lay there and never to rise again, extinguished and snuffed out or quenched.

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left” (Exodus 14:21-22).

Just as God overwhelmed the Egyptian armies, He would also judge the Babylonians.

2. Forget the Past.

Notice that there is an instructive switch between verses 16-17 and verse 18. In Isaiah 43:16-17, Israel is told to look to the past by remembering the great things God did for them at the Red Sea. But in Isaiah 43:18 they are told, “Do not remember the former things nor consider the things of old.” Why?

It is important to note that God had performed many miracles for Israel – probably one of the most memorable was their deliverance from slavery in Egypt by their miraculous passage through the Red Sea on dry ground!

But now, God was saying, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” Is God contradicting Himself? No, not at all! Rather, God is telling the Jews, “That’s nothing compared to what I am about to do.”

No matter how great the miracle God performed to get their forefathers out of Egypt and bring them to the Promised Land, God wants this generation of Jews to focus on the new work He will do for them.

God promises that He is going to do greater things for them; much more than what He had done in the past. He tells them to forget the past because if they are stuck in the wonders and miracles of God in the past, they will never be able to move forward to the new things God has in store for them.

3. Keep in Step with God.

After reminding the Jews of His mighty works in the past and instructing them not to get stuck in those wonders, God then assures them the deliverance they have been hoping for.

God says this in Isaiah 43:19a, “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?”

God is moving on – He is doing a new thing – bigger and better than ever before. Past blessings are for a time gone by. God promises a new blessing for a new day!

Staying stuck in the past can keep the nation of Israel (and us) from the new things God wants to do. God will do a new thing that is in no way inferior to what He has done in the past. God will do a new thing that is in no way inferior to the things of old.

God can do new wonders; He is creative and He is always doing something new.

4. Trust that God Can and Will Do the Impossible.

Between Babylon and Israel lay hundreds of miles of wilderness. But God assures His people that they had nothing to fear because God would make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert (Isaiah 43:19b)

They can be confident that the same power that made dry land in the waters can produce waters even in the driest land.

Application for Believers Today

How do Christians apply these four principles? We must take God’s word at face value.

God is also telling us today to forget the former things and not dwell on the past. Yes, we must remember the past in terms of God’s great work. It is to our benefit to often remember what God did to the nation of Israel. Remembering God’s faithfulness gives us hope and assurance that we can trust God to work on our behalf

We can always count on God and we can be confident that He will make good His promises because He is faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). If God kept His covenant with Israel, He will surely keep His covenant with us. God is immutable; He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Yes, we are to thank God for past revivals, answered prayers, and blessings. The downside is those past blessings can hold us back because we expect the same thing over and over again.

We must forsake and forget the past, with all its discouragement, failures, sin, and defeat, and move on to what God has for us in the future. Past sins and failures can hold us back too!

The Example of Simon Peter

Do you ever feel like you have let God down in some way? You may have stumbled and failed Him a couple of times and now you feel like you’re no longer worthy of another chance. You fear that God cannot use you again.

If there’s somebody who has gone this path and was restored, it’s Simon Peter. Among all those who followed our Lord closely, I find Peter’s story quite fascinating.

Consider the following about Peter:

  • He alone got to experience walking on water with Jesus (Matthew 14:28-29).
  • He was one of the three disciples to witness the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13).
  • It was Peter who confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:13-20).
  • It was Peter who cut off the ear of Malchus, the servant of the high priest and he did it in an attempt to prevent the arrest of Jesus (John 18:10).
  • But more than all these, Peter promised Jesus that he will never forsake Him even though it will cost him his life (Matthew 26:35).

But on the night that Jesus was arrested, Peter swallowed his words because he denied Jesus, not just once but three times at the time that Jesus needed him the most. He must have felt terrible when he realized what he has done.

But after the resurrection Jesus reinstated him at the lake of Tiberius in Galilee (John 21:15-19) and a few days later on the Day of Pentecost, Peter preached probably the most powerful gospel sermon resulting in the 3000 souls that were saved and added to the Church (Acts 2:14-36).

Christian Jewelry and Wall Decors - Lord's Guidance

When All Hope Seems Lost

You may have experienced a lot of heartaches and pain, trials, and difficulties in the past year. But God promises to do something great in your life.

You may have lost a loved one and up to now you still don’t understand why you had to go through all that. Maybe you got heartbroken last year or in the previous years and you are still unable to move on.

This year, give your heart to Jesus and rest assured that He will never break it; He will never disappoint you and He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).

Today, God is telling us to forget the past – blessings, and failures – because the past will fade into insignificance compared with what God is doing, and going to do.

Trust God At All Times

As we look forward to the future, God wants us to trust Him completely, regardless of the circumstances we are facing. Let us not make the common mistake of worrying about the details or obstacles for the fulfillment of God’s promise. We do not have to worry about it at all.

God has all the resources needed. We may not have a perfect picture of what God is about to do but we can be certain that He will bring them to fruition. He is the Lord, the God of all flesh; nothing is too difficult for Him (Jeremiah 32:27). Things may be impossible from a human perspective but with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

By the way, trying to lend God a helping hand never works so don’t even try. In Genesis 12:1-3 God promises to make Abraham’s children into a great nation. There’s just one problem – his wife could not have children, and they were both advanced in years!

What did Abraham do? He tried to help God out only to realize later on that it was a big mistake (Genesis 16:1-16). Then as now, meddling in God’s business only ends in disaster.

Conclusion

Indeed, we can always find hope in the Lord even in difficult times.

But we need to get our focus off the past: the good, the bad, and the ugly. These are nothing compared to what God is about to do! God is doing something new. His laws and principles never change – but His blessings are new every morning.

Are we ready for it? Are we in step with the Holy Spirit? We can be amid a blessing and not see it.

By the way, let us be reminded that whatever new and great things we will receive, it’s all God’s work – it’s not of us! We may have labored in the fields sowing and reaping but it is God who gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6-9).

So we must always humble ourselves before God – realizing that it is not because of anything we have done – but it is only by the grace of God. We must ensure that God gets the glory for it all.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

The Lord’s Prayer and How to Pray It

The Lord’s Prayer and How to Pray It

Prayer is a very important aspect of the Christian life because it is how we communicate with God. Simply put, prayer is talking to God. But while many Christians assume that the attitude of prayer comes naturally to every born again believer, we learn from the Scriptures that Jesus’ disciples did not automatically learn how to pray.

They had been with the Lord for three years but never got to understand the importance of communicating with God. Every time Jesus asked them to wait at a certain place while He pours out His heart to the Father, they fell asleep waiting.

So, one time when Jesus had finished praying, one of His disciples came to Him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1).

To which Jesus replied, “When you pray, say: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one’” (Luke 11:2-4).

These statements of Jesus were later became known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” We also read this in Matthew 6:9-13.

A Model Prayer for Christians

The Lord’s Prayer is a model prayer for those who believe in Jesus. However, we need to emphasize that we must not mechanically repeat it. Note that it is a model about how we should pray, not what we should pray.

The disciples of Jesus asked Him to show them how to pray. Therefore, Jesus did not give this prayer so that we would repeat these exact words every time we talk to God. He warned about mindless repetition in prayer (Matthew 6:7-8).

Christians are not to merely recite and mechanically repeat the Lord’s Prayer.

What is the Lord's Prayer and Hos Should We Pray It
Photo Credits: Bibleinfo.Com

Jesus’ Teaching On Prayer

From this model prayer that Jesus gave, there are several things we learn about what God expects from us when we talk to Him.

We Recognize God for Who He is

“Our Father in heaven …”

When we approach God in prayer, we must recognize to whom we are talking – our Father who is in heaven. There is none like Him. The Lord Himself has said, “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me” (Isaiah 46:9).

It is human nature to focus on “self” but when we realize who God is – the Lord Almighty, the One who created the heavens and the earth – it is fitting to begin our prayers with the recognition that we are face to face with the Lord of the universe.

Consequently, we should have a continual attitude of reverence and respect when we talk to the Lord in prayer.

We Magnify His Holy Name

“Hallowed be Your name.”

After we recognize God for who He is, the next thing that is mentioned is the magnifying of the name of the Lord. We are to worship or hallow His name. In this context, God’s name refers to His character.

God deserves our praise and adoration and He alone is worthy to receive all glory and honor. Revelation 4:11 says, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”

We Ask for His Kingdom to Come

“Your kingdom come …”

We are to pray that the promised Kingdom of the Lord will come to the earth. In fact, this is the last prayer that we find recorded in Scripture. In the final chapter of the Book of Revelation, we read:

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20)!

We want to see our Lord ruling on the earth – a rule which will be characterized by righteousness (Hebrews 1:8). This will happen after the Tribulation period when Jesus will rule and reign as King from Jerusalem for a thousand years.

We Pray for God’s Will to be Done

“Your will be done …”

To pray for God to carry out His plans is not to say that He won’t accomplish them without us asking Him to. This part of the prayer is to get our minds in line with God’s purpose. We know that God will carry out His plans and there is not the slightest chance that it cannot be done.

But this part of the prayer is for our benefit; it is to get our minds in line with God’s purpose. This means that His desires are to be our desires and we are to line up our hopes and dreams with the will of the Lord.

When we pray for His will to be done, then we are saying that we will live per His will. Paul said we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to the Lord (Romans 12:1).

God's Purpose Always Prevails

We Ask God to Supply Our Daily Needs

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

We then ask God to meet our day-to-day needs. But why does it have to be on a “daily basis?” Can we not ask God to supply our needs for a week, a month, or a year? I believe it’s because God is teaching us to trust in His provision and to be completely dependent on Him.

This reminds me of the Israelites while they were wandering in the wilderness. God specifically instructed them to go out and gather only enough manna and quails for the day, except on the day before the Sabbath when they must gather twice as much (Exodus 16:1-30).

God has promised to supply our needs. When the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, he said, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

God knows the things we need even before we ask Him. Furthermore, He has promised to fulfill whatever needs we may have. We do not have to be concerned about what we shall eat or wear tomorrow (Matthew 6:32-34). He knows what things are necessary for us and He promised to meet those needs.

We Ask God to Forgive Our Sins

“Forgive us our sins …”

Confession of sins is an important part of prayer. We need to confess our sins because Proverbs 28:13 says, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”

However, this confession is not so that we will get saved. Rather, this prayer is for those who have already placed their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

We confess our sins as we do not want anything to come between us and God. And when we confess, we should be specific about the sins that we have committed. We should ask the Lord to search our hearts and reveal any sin to us (Psalm 139:23-24); we must also confess those sins that we are unaware of (Psalm 19:12).

We Forgive Others Who Have Sinned Against Us

“We also forgive those who sin against us.”

Not only do we confess our sins, but we are also to forgive those who have wronged and offended us. We cannot come to the Lord with a pure heart if we have not forgiven the people who have hurt us in any way.

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He said, “When you bring your gift to the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).

Unforgiveness will result in bitterness and resentment. The Bible says that we are not to be bitter toward others (Ephesians 4:31). Unforgiveness is a sin which in effect blocks the answer to our prayers and petitions (Psalm 66:18). Therefore, forgiving others is an important part of prayer.

We Ask God to Lead Us Away from Temptations

“And do not lead us into temptation …”

Christians are not exempted from facing temptations. Jesus Himself was tempted but emerged victoriously. We do not pray that our life will be free from temptation but for God to enable us to overcome all temptations.

It is certainly impossible to be totally free from temptation in this fallen world but God has promised that He will give us enough strength to resist any temptation. Paul wrote this to the Corinthians:

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

God knows our breaking point and He will never give us more than we can handle. The Lord will not only help us resist temptation but He will also always show us a way out of the various temptations we may have to face.

We Ask God to Protect Us from the Evil One

“And deliver us from the evil one.”

Finally, we are to ask God to protect us from the evil one – Satan. The Bible tells us that Satan, our enemy, is constantly attempting to get Christians to sin (1 Peter 5:8). We need protection. We are likened to sheep – animals that do not have any natural defenses. Therefore, we need God’s protection.

The good news is that the Lord promises to protect those who are His (John 10:27-29). Indeed, God is constantly watching out for us.

Conclusion

While this is called the Lord’s Prayer, it is really a prayer that the disciples of the Lord are to pray. It is the Lord’s Prayer in the sense that this is the sort of thing the Lord commands us to pray. This is the type of prayer that those who believe in Jesus Christ should pray.

However, it is not a prayer that He prayed for Himself. We should note that this prayer is not something that Jesus Himself could pray because, for one thing, it asks God to forgive our sins (Luke 11:4). The Bible is clear that Jesus was without sin (John 8:46). Peter emphasized the same truth about the sinlessness of Jesus (1 Peter 3:18). Paul wrote something similar in 2 Corinthians 5:21.

The Lord’s Prayer, the model prayer that Jesus taught gives believers a good idea of what God wants from His children when they pray to Him.

May each of us learn to put these truths into practice in our daily lives.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource: A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer by W. Phillip Keller

A fresh look at a famous prayerA Layman Looks at the Lord's Prayer by W. Phillip Keller

“There is inherent in this prayer all the strength and compassion of our Father in heaven. There moves through it a beauty and a serenity which no mortal man can fully explain. It reassures our hearts, strengthens our resolve, and leads us into personal contact with God, our Father.”

In this moving book by “an ordinary man and a child of God,” Phillip Keller takes each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer one-by-one, unfolding it in wonderful detail and sharing insights he’s gained and experiences he’s enjoyed.

Next to Psalm 23, the Lord’s Prayer is perhaps the most universally beloved passage in Scripture. It has been repeated millions of times by countless individuals for nearly 20 centuries. Yet, in spite of so much use and familiarity it has never lost its luster. 

A Layman’s Look at the Lord’s Prayer presents that luster in a fresh way to help you rediscover its incredible power.

Daily Life Lessons From Proverbs 6

Daily Life Lessons From Proverbs 6

No doubt, we’re living in the “information age,” but we certainly aren’t living in the “age of wisdom.” Many people maybe wizard with their computers but are amateurs when it comes to making a success of their lives.

Computers can store data and obey signals but they can’t give us the ability to use that knowledge wisely. What is needed today is wisdom; godly wisdom that is, and the book of Proverbs does not only talk about godly wisdom, it also teaches us how to get it and how to use it.

In this post, we will look at some life lessons from Proverbs chapter 6.

Proverbs 6 Lessons for Daily Life

Proverbs 6:1-35 deals with three enemies that can destroy a person financially, physically, and morally (or spiritually): unwise financial commitments, laziness, and lust. More often than not, one person will be guilty of all three because laziness and lust often go together.

People who are easily pressured into putting up security for somebody can be pressured into doing other foolish acts, including committing adultery. As Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Learning from the Ant

In Proverbs 6:6-11, Solomon spoke wisdom to the sluggard (lazy person) and said that they should learn from the ant, an insect proverbial for hard work. The ant is wise and worthy of imitation because she works hard without having to be told to work. Ants work hard to get the work done in the summer and the harvest.

Solomon is not saying that we should never sleep. Obviously, every person needs sleep; it is a necessary element for a healthy life. But too much sleep is destructive and often times it makes people lazy. Laborers sleep well because they have worked hard (Ecclesiastes 5:12) but the sleep of a lazy person is a mark of laziness and selfishness.

Bruce Waltke's Quote About Laziness

The result of laziness? Poverty. People often complain about their situation and envy the rich, not knowing how many hours of hard work and effort the rich has to put in to become successful. The lazy man loves to procrastinate and think things can always be done later.

Solomon says, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man” (Proverbs 6:10-11 NIV). The sluggard will find that poverty and need come upon him quickly – poverty not imposed by circumstances or misfortune but through laziness.

The Future of a Wicked Man

From the sluggard and his poverty, Solomon moves to the worthless and wicked man (Proverbs 6:12-15). “Worthless” is the Hebrew word “belial” used to describe worthless people (Deuteronomy 13:13; Judges 19:22; 1 Samuel 25:25; 1 Kings 21:10, 13).

One of the main features of the worthless and wicked person’s walk is the corruption of his speech and the perversity of his heart. To say that one has a perverse mouth means what they say isn’t true and honest. Rather, they’re a crook!

Proverbs 6:12 illustrates God’s hatred of sin. Some contemporary theology so emphasizes God’s love that it loses its sight of the fact that God also hates sin. We can never over stress that God has no pleasure in sin. On the contrary, sin grieves the Father (Genesis 6:6), the Son (Mark 3:5), and the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).

Seven Things the Lord Hates

The “six” and “seven” of Proverbs 6:16 have their explanation in their description.

“A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:17-19).

The six are the things and the seventh is the result. Sowing discord among brethren is presented as the result of the six listed things and it is one of the highest among the things that God hates and regards as an abomination.

Notice that most of these sins are connected to something we do, in or through our body. They are also focused on how we treat others. Paul reminds us about presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God (Romans 12:1).

We cannot honor God and claim to worship Him in spirit and truth yet we treat others badly.

Warning Against Adultery

First, Solomon spoke about how God’s Word and wisdom will never lead a man to the evil woman or keep him with her. The light of God’s word will wisely keep a man from falling into the flattering tongue of a seductress.

Going back to chapters 5 to 7 of Proverbs, we see how each of the warnings against adultery is prefaced by an admonition to pay attention to the Word of God (Proverbs 5:1-2; 6:20-24; 7:1-5). The Word of God is living and active. We benefit from its power when we cherish and obey it.

As we trust and obey God’s truth, He keeps us from believing the enemy’s lies. God’s Word will lead us wherever we go, keeps us while we sleep, speaks with us when we’re awake, and brings light to us in our darkness (Proverbs 6:22-23).


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The Dangers of Committing Adultery

The results of this immoral liaison lead to being degraded to the lowest level of poverty (Proverbs 6:25-26). See also Luke 15:13-16. If the adultery results in a scandal, a lawsuit, and a divorce, the price will not be cheap. In this day of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, adulterers are also risking health and life.

When Solomon said, “Can a man take fire to his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared? So is he who goes into his neighbor’s wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent” (Proverbs 6:27-29), his brilliant wisdom, simplicity, and clarity were displayed.

He warns that anyone who takes up the harlot and plays with fire is sure to be burned. Thus, he must not complain about the strength of the temptation. Why didn’t he avoid it in the first place?

Fire is good as long as it is confined and controlled; it can keep us warm, cook our food, drive our turbines, and manufacture our electricity. Sex is a good gift from God. But like fire, it becomes destructive if it gets out of control. What begins as a “warm” experience soon becomes a burning experience, like holding a torch in the lap or walking on burning coals.

Adultery is Stealing

Certainly, hunger is a strong force in human life and the only way to satisfy hunger is to eat. But if we steal the bread that we eat, we’re breaking the law. We’ll end up paying more for that bread than if we’d gone out and bought a loaf at the bakery. As we sat in jail or stand in court, the enjoyment we had from that bread will soon be forgotten (Proverbs 6:30-31).

Adultery is stealing. “God’s will is for you to be holy, to stay away from all sexual sin … Never harm or cheat a Christian brother in this matter by violating his wife, for the Lord avenges all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before” (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 6).

When adultery enters a marriage, everybody loses.

The Foolishness of Adultery

Proverbs 6:32-35 highlights the foolishness of adultery. The angry husband will use every means possible to avenge himself, for a loving husband would rather that his neighbor steal his money than steal his wife.

The offender will have no peace, and no amount of money he offers the husband will be accepted. The adulterer loses his reputation in the community and might actually suffer physical punishment. Of course, he and the woman were supposed to be stoned to death (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22), but this penalty probably was not always exact.

In today’s society, if a person has enough money and clout, he or she might be able to survive an adulterous scandal, but life is still never quite the same. Whether in this life or the next, sinners can be sure that their sins will find them out.

Indulging in sexual sin is always a losing proposition.

Closing Words

God calls us to receive His wisdom and be skillful so that we can make a life that will glorify him. What is important is not how long we live but how we live, not the length but the depth of life.

As never before, the church desperately needs people who understand and practice the skills involved in building a godly life. May we be among them.


Note: This devotional article is taken from The Transformation Study Bible, edited by Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe.

Psalm 101: A Pledge to Righteous Living

Psalm 101: A Pledge to Righteous Living

Psalm 101 is said to be written by King David shortly after he ascended the throne. Needless to say, Israel’s confusions and abuses in the hands of Saul had to be reformed. Thus, David felt that he was God’s administrator and pledges his commitment to live and rule righteously.

King David’s “I Will” Statements

In this psalm, we read King David’s several “I Will” statements which we will break down one by one.

Psalm 101:1

“I will sing of mercy and justice; to You, O Lord, I will sing praises.”

King David opens Psalm 101 exalting the mercy and justice of God. He knows that mercy and justice always go together for mercy can only be understood in light of justice. When justice pronounces its righteous penalty, mercy may grant relief.

Psalm 89:14

David wanted his reign to be characterized by mercy and justice for this is the way God rules the world. (See Psalm 89:14 and Isaiah 16:5.) But he knew that these principles were rooted only in God. Before he can exercise mercy and justice in God’s kingdom, he had to understand and extol the mercy and justice of God.

And when he did, he expressed it in a song of praise. Praise given just to God in private brings Him much pleasure.

Do you extol God for His mercy and justice and sing your praises to Him even during your quiet time?

Psalm 101:2

“I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh, when will You come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.”

This is a determination on David’s part to walk uprightly before the Lord. He wanted to do God’s will in his everyday life; he wants to confer with the Lord first before making decisions that would have a great impact on his leadership. David wanted to please God in everything so he asked God to come fellowship with him in his home.

The emphasis here is on the heart, for the heart of leadership is the leader’s devotion to the Lord. This devotion results in a life lived blamelessly to the glory of the Lord not only in public but in private as well.

David made it clear that there must be no separation between the leader’s personal life and his or her official life, the private, and the public. And David was determined to be that kind of leader.

Many people today, including Christians, seem to be pretty nice people when they are out in public, but live terrible lives at home with their families. We should be the same in public and at home.

Psalm 101:3

“I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”

In this verse, David moved from the heart of a leader, turned the emphasis to the leader’s eyes, and what he saw or chose not to look at. The heart and the eyes work together, for what the heart loves, the eyes will seek and find (Ecclesiastes 2:10; Jeremiah 22:17).

The eyes are said to be the inlets of lust and are easily caught with objects that inflame the heart. Thus, we must choose wisely and carefully the things we set before our eyes. Your mind is like a computer wherein everything you see or hear goes into that computer and is recorded there.

Ecclesiastes 2:10

You may not realize it but the kind of music you listen to, and the movies and television shows you watch are influencing the way you think and act. Just as Eve’s sin began when she looked at the forbidden fruit with desire in her heart, David’s sin began when he set his eyes on Bathsheba.

Sin begins when we start looking at the things that we should not be looking at in the first place.

Psalm 101:4

“A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness.”

It takes determination to pursue a righteous life. King David did not only resolve to not practice wickedness himself and have evil people as his friends, but he also made sure neither to keep bad servants nor to employ those that are wicked.

Notice that David begins by cleaning up his own heart and then refuses to be associated with any evil person who might influence him to do evil. Again, David was determined not to have evil people in his company.

What kind of people do you associate yourself with? 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Bad company corrupts moral character.” We must be very careful in choosing our friends because eventually, we will become like the people we choose to surround ourselves with.

Psalm 101:5

“Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, Him I will destroy; the one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, Him I will not endure.”

Whether it is said in private or public, God does not approve of slander. David knows this very and he wants to pattern his life according to the life of his Lord. So, he said he will not tolerate anyone who says ugly things about their neighbor.

When David says he will not endure those with a haughty look and a proud heart, he is talking about those people who are inflated with their own importance. David is basing his decisions on the kind of people to choose for his companions on God’s choice. In other words, if God does not approve of them, neither will David.

Again, what kinds of people do you keep in your company?

Psalm 101:6

“My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in a perfect way, he shall serve me.”

As Christ’s eyes are upon faithful persons and on faithful ministers of the Word to preach the Gospel faithfully, King David looked for the “faithful of the land” to set up as leaders. He wants people around him who love the Lord as he does because he knows that people who love God have good morals.

Perverse ideas come from a twisted heart, one that does not conform to God’s will (Proverbs 3:32; 6:16-19). David was also confident that when he chooses faithful people to work for him, they will be loyal to him as they have been to their God.

Godly people in authority are expected to choose godly people to work with them and for them, resulting in a government that is fair and honest.

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Psalm 101:7

“He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; he who tells lies shall not continue in my presence.”

Whether it is a big or small lie, it abhors God.

Being a truthful man himself, David cannot tolerate people around him who are not truthful. He would certainly reject anyone who practices deceit and tells lies. David is saying, “If you are working for me and I find out that you are committing these offenses, I will fire you and drive you as far away from my sight as possible.”

David wanted associates who were not defiled by sin, whose walk was blameless, and who would treat people with fairness.

Some people think it’s clever to be deceitful if it gets them where they’re going or helps them achieve their goals. So, you see, not everyone goes by the Ten Commandments.

Psalm 101:8

“Early I will destroy all the wicked of the land, that I may cut off all the evildoers from the city of the Lord.”

King David was so determined to rule righteously, favoring the godly and opposing the wicked, that he wanted to do it as early as possible. He was well aware that one rotten apple could ruin the whole basket so he would not delay making decisions.

Although some of those decisions would seem difficult to make and perhaps more difficult to implement, He would have to act immediately and not delay. He would drive away even those that had not done anything worthy of death if he wants his reign to be godly.

Politicians today could take a lesson or two from King David here should they desire to live a righteous life and rule in a godly way.

Final Words

Was David successful in maintaining the high standard of his declaration? No, not completely; but what leader beside Jesus Christ has ever maintained an unblemished record?

David reigned for forty years, during which time he expanded the borders of the kingdom, defeated Israel’s enemies, gathered the wealth used to build the Temple, wrote the psalms, and established the dynasty that eventually brought Jesus Christ into the world.

Like you and me, he had his weaknesses and failings, but overall, he sought to honor the Lord and be a good leader.

Jerusalem later became known as the “City of David” and Jesus as “the Son of David.”


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Running the Race to the Finish

Running the Race to the Finish

The Christian life is not only a journey towards heaven which is our final destination; it is also a race wherein Christians are like competitors in an athletic event. Indeed, Christians are running the race of faith and they are exhorted by the author of the book of Hebrews to run the race to the finish.

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

The Cloud of Witnesses

Whenever we see the word “therefore” in a sentence, we know that it functions to introduce a logical result or conclusion. That being said, we can confidently say that Hebrews 12:1 is a concluding statement of the previous chapter about the heroes of faith.

Furthermore, it says that “we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.” Cloud in both the Greek and Latin refers to a great number of people or things. So, the great cloud of witnesses” is composed of the saints mentioned in chapter 11 of Hebrews: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Samson, David, Samuel, and the prophets.

Run the Race of Faith to the Finish

Some have come to think of these champions of faith as spectators from the heavens, cheering us on as we run the race, like people seated in a stadium. This has led to the belief that people in heaven know and see everything that is happening on earth. But that is inconclusive.

One more thing, if people in heaven can see the difficulties, pain, and suffering that their loved ones are going through on earth, as well as the terror and wickedness of evil people, how can they have complete joy? Isn’t heaven a place of joy where there are no more tears and no more sorrows?

When the writer said we are surrounded by these witnesses, the stress is not on the idea that they are observing us or witnessing what we are doing. Rather, that we look to them and studiously observe them as exemplary individuals given by the author of Hebrews from history to encourage us to persevere.

How to Run the Race to Win

For us to run the race of faith to the finish, there are certain things we need to do.

1. Throw Off Everything that Hinders

The verse says we must “lay aside every weight or burden.” This signifies anything which will be an impediment or hindrance in running the race. When running a race, almost anything that adds weight to the runner is a hindrance.

Have you ever seen any athletes competing in their jeans? Or carrying a backpack? No! Not even a bottle of water. They have to be comfortable in what they’re wearing so that they will be in their best, optimal performance.

In the same way, we must get rid of various burdens which delay and impede our spiritual course, which includes:

  • The love of this present life
  • The pleasure of this world and worldly cares
  • The lust of the flesh
  • Riches and honor

These are the same things that John warned us about in 1 John 2:16. This is not to say that we should not enjoy our borrowed time on earth. God wants us to enjoy His blessings but we must resist the notion that happiness is found on the things of this world. We always need to keep in mind that everything in this world is temporary and will soon pass away.

Our priority is to further the works of the Lord and use all the resources He has given us, including our life, for His purpose, and greater glory. Christians are to occupy while waiting for the Lord, our Savior to come back for the church (Titus 2:13).

2. Avoid the Sin that Easily Ensnares Us

Sin is the heaviest burden that impedes us and that is why we are warned to guard against any form of sin. Sin distracts us, sin can hold us back, and most importantly, sin will separate us from God (Isaiah 59:2).

While not naming any specific sin, the writer was probably referring to the sin of unbelief. It is the sin of unbelief that had kept Israel out of the Promised Land, and unbelief hinders us from entering our spiritual inheritance in Christ.

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3. Live a Life of Discipline

The writer of Hebrews is appealing to us to take all the necessary steps of self-discipline and deal with any areas of our lives that could hinder our spiritual progress. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 that an athlete must be disciplined if he is to win the prize.

Discipline means giving up the good and the better for the best. The athlete must watch his diet. There is nothing wrong with food or fun, but if they interfere with your highest goals then they are hindrances and not “helps.”

Also, when running the race of faith, we must disentangle ourselves from all impediments. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he charged him to pass on to other faithful believers everything he taught him. At the same time, he encouraged his “son in the faith” to endure hardship as a soldier of Jesus Christ and to not get tied up with the affairs of this life to please his commanding officer (2 Timothy 2:1-4).

4. Run the Race with Endurance

What does it mean to run the race of faith with endurance or perseverance? How do we do it? To run the race with endurance is to run the race to the end. It involves determination, commitment, and refuses to be deflected.

We often hear the phrase, “no guts, no glory,” or “no pain, no gain,” which simply means you cannot achieve success without hard work and struggle. In running the race of faith, we need to push through and push hard if we want to win. Despite all the obstacles and distractions we may have to face along the way, we need to keep going and rely on the Lord to give us the strength (Philippians 4:13).

5. Run the Race Marked Out for Us

When Paul addressed the church elders at Ephesus, he told them how he has been faithfully serving the Lord by proclaiming to them the Gospel of Jesus Christ despite his persecution in the hands of the Jews. He pictured himself as a runner who had a race to finish, and nothing would keep him from finishing the race with joy.

“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

Let Us Run the Race Marked Out For Us

In this passage, Paul speaks of “my race” – he had his race to run and we have our own. Hebrews 12:1c says we are to run the race that is “set before us.” In other translations, it says, “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

There is a race marked out for every believer. We are in a race, and this race has been “set before us.” The point here is that God has mapped out a specific, prescribed course for each of us that we must follow. We are not competing with others but we strive to excel up to our potential in this lifestyle of Christian conquest.

6. Look Unto Jesus, the Author, and Finisher of Our Faith

Looking unto Jesus involves looking away from someone or something else and directing our focus unto Jesus. The NIV translates this beautifully as “fixing our eyes on Jesus.”

We cannot be looking at two things at the same time. If we want to finish the race, we need to look away from anything that could distract us and have our eyes locked on Jesus. We are not to look at the mistakes or sins committed by other Christians, especially our church leaders, and use them as an excuse to quit.

As we run the race, Jesus has to be our focus, our inspiration, and our example; He remains to be the ultimate example of Christian obedience and endurance. Jesus is not only the author but also the finisher of our faith. He started His work in us and He promised to complete it until the day of His return (Philippians 1:6).

Jesus Endured the Cross for Our Sake

Hebrews 12:2b says, “Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross …” Jesus did not regard the cross itself as a joy, but He was able to look past the horror of the cross for the joy that is beyond it. Jesus knew that His suffering and death would result in the reconciliation of God with man.

One of the prominent elements of the torture of the cross was its extreme shame. Death by crucifixion was the most despised form of death in the Roman Empire, reserved for the worst offenders. Jesus did not welcome this shame – He despised it. Yet He endured through it to victory.

Anytime you are tempted to give up because of the trials and difficulties that you are going through, think about what the Lord Jesus had to endure for your sake. “Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3 NIV).

How to Run the Race of Faith

From Crucifixion to Glorification

What was the result of Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross? Salvation became available to everyone who believes (John 3:16) and Jesus was exalted and seated at the right hand of the throne of God. This highlights the triumph of the victory of Christ over death.

People often ask, “If Jesus had already won the victory, why do Christians need to suffer?” As children of God, we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. And if we suffer with Him, we will also be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17).

Peter said, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad – for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to all the world” (1 Peter 4:12-13 NLT).

Closing Words

In running the race of faith, we should look back upon the past champions of faith from the Old Testament as they can be a source of encouragement. Then, we must look forward as we run the race and do certain things to pursue the course.

Negatively, we are to strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up; and positively, we are to keep our eyes on Jesus.

The exhortation to “look” unto Jesus is the ground for this anticipatory victory view of the triumphant Lord of glory who finished His course. We look unto Jesus in contemplation, in considering Him as the conqueror of adversity and suffering, and as the exemplar par excellence for spiritual vision.

Since Christ is the “champion who initiates and perfects our faith,” trusting Him releases His power in our lives. As we see Him in the Word and yield to His Spirit, He increases our faith and enables us to run the race to the finish.

It doesn’t matter how many times we stumble, trip, or fall. Walking or running, limping or stumbling, it does not matter. Fix your eyes on Jesus and finish the race.

At the end of the day, it’s not how you start the race that matters but that you finish and be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).


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Recommended Resource: Let’s Run!: Running the Race with Faith and Perseverance by Jennifer Hayes Yates

Let’s Run!: Running the Race with Faith and Perseverance by Jennifer Hayes Yates Every race is a challenge.

Hills, valleys, dips, and curves; pain, thirst, weariness, and overwhelm—sometimes it’s just easier to take a seat on the sideline and slip off our running shoes.

But God has inspired us in His Word to run the race with faith and perseverance and to finish well. He gives us examples of others who faced some of the same challenges, yet remained faithful.

Let’s Run! explores the faith chapter of Hebrews by taking us back to the Old Testament and the stories of some ordinary people who faced enormous challenges but managed to stay in the race.

This Bible study will give you not only a look at their lives, but also an opportunity to apply the same principles of faith to your own life, to keep you in the race and running toward the prize.

  • Discover how worship and the Word can help your faith grow.
  • Learn how to apply these principles in your own life, family, and church.
  • Develop a strategy for handling challenges to your faith.
  • Gain a new perspective on church and ministry.

Let’s Run! is a 6-week Bible study which includes weekend devotions to recap the principles learned each week, as well as ideas for group study.

Join Jennifer and be inspired to lace up and get back in the race!

A Letter from Jeremiah to the Exiles

A Letter from Jeremiah to the Exiles

Jeremiah 29 records several letters: one from Jeremiah to the exiles, including reference to a letter concerning Jewish false prophets in Babylon to which Jeremiah replied; one from Shemaiah to the Temple priests, concerning Jeremiah; and one from Jeremiah to the exiles concerning Shemaiah.

Let us examine Jeremiah’s letters and see how the principles he laid out might and should be applied in our lives today as Christians.

A Letter of Instruction and Encouragement

Sometime after the deportation in 597, Jeremiah sent a letter to the exiles in Babylon to tell them how to behave in their new land. Governed by special laws concerning clean and unclean things, the Jewish people would have a difficult time adjusting to a pagan society.

Jeremiah wanted the Jewish people to be good witnesses to the idolatrous Babylonians, and he also wanted them to be good even though they were separated from their Temple and its services. He addressed himself to the needs of three kinds of people: those with no hope, those with false hopes, and those who have true hope.

Hope in the Lord

Those With No Hope

The exiles had lost everything but their lives and what few possessions they could carry with them to Babylon. They had lost their freedom and were now captives. They had been taken from their homes and had lost their means of making a living. They were separated from relatives and friends, some of whom may have perished in the long march from Jerusalem to Babylon.

No matter how they looked at it, the situation seemed hopeless. So, Jeremiah gives them a Word from the Lord (Jeremiah 29:5-7). Clearly, the Jewish people were in Babylon by the will of God.

Yet, they were instructed to build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for their sons and give their daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters – that they may be increased there, and not diminished.

Also, they must seek the peace of the city where God has caused them to be carried away captive, and to lift it up to the Lord in prayer it; for when the city is peaceful, they will have peace.

Application to the Christian

When something as depressing as this happens to us, how should we handle it? It’s pretty difficult to remain hopeful while we watch everything we hold dear crumble before our very eyes. But no matter how tragic it might be, we must not allow any difficult circumstance to hold us back. Hanging our harps on the willow and sitting around weeping may be a normal reaction to tragedy but it sure won’t do us any good (Psalm 137:1-4).

One of the first steps in turning tragedy into triumph is to acknowledge that God has allowed it (Jeremiah 29:4). We must accept the situation courageously and entrust our lives completely into the hands of a loving God, who makes no mistakes.

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Those With False Hopes

The false prophets in Babylon were giving false hopes to the people concerning Jerusalem and Judah. Apparently, these false prophets had convinced the people that their stay in Babylon would be brief; thus they did not need to settle down and try to resume a normal life.

This word got back to Jeremiah so he wrote to the exiles again not only to warn them about these false prophets but also to tell them just the opposite of what they have been told (Jeremiah 29:8-9).

Since Jewish exiles would be in Babylon for as long as seventy years (Jeremiah 29:10), they would have plenty of time to build houses and set up homes. The exiles needed to have families so that people would be available to return to Judea when the captivity ended. This small Jewish remnant was holding in its hands the future of God’s great plan of salvation, and they must obey Him, be fruitful, and multiply.

The Jews could have easily waged constant warfare against their idolatrous Gentile captors, but Jeremiah instructed them to strive to get along with the Babylonians. The exiles were to be peacemakers, not troublemakers, and they were to pray sincerely for their enemies. (See Matthew 4:43-48; 1 Timothy 2:1-3; Titus 3:1-2.)

Application to the Christian

It was possible to be good Jews even in pagan land; it’s also possible to be good Christians in a secular and wicked world. Remember, if we reject the wooden yoke of submission, we only end up wearing an iron yoke of subjugation (Jeremiah 28:12-14).

Thus, the best course is to yield ourselves to the Lord and to those who are over us, no matter how badly they may treat us. (See Peter’s counsel to Christian slaves in 1 Peter 2:18-25). To indulge in false hope is to miss what God has planned for us.

Those Who Have True Hope

True hope is based on the revealed Word of God, not on the dream messages of self-appointed prophets (Jeremiah 29:8). God had given His people a gracious promise to deliver them from captivity, to gather them from all the nations and from all the places where He has driven them and bring them back to their land (Jeremiah 29:10-14).

And God is faithful, He would keep His promise. All the people have to do is to seek the Lord with all their hearts. According to Jeremiah 29:14, these promises reach beyond the Jews captive in Babylon and include all of Israel throughout the world. Jeremiah was looking ahead to the end of the age when Israel will be gathered to meet their Messiah and enter their kingdom (Isaiah 10:20 – 12:6).

For I know the plans I have for you

Application to the Christian

In every situation, God’s people have the responsibility to seek the Lord, pray, and ask Him to fulfill His promises, for the Word and prayer go together (Acts 6:4). They say that what life does to us depends largely on what life finds in us. If we seek the Lord and want His best, then circumstances will build us and prepare us for what He has planned

If we rebel or if we look for quick and easy shortcuts then circumstances will destroy us and rob us of the future God wants us to enjoy.

Closing Thoughts

God caused the Jews to be carried away captive in Babylon; it was part of His plan in bringing judgment on Judah for their generations of rebellion against Him. And in God’s plan, they would be in Babylon for a long time. But God has not forgotten about them and He never wanted to destroy them.

A man with a heart of a true shepherd, Jeremiah wanted to enlighten and encourage the Jewish exiles in their new life in Babylon.

God wanted the exiles to multiply in Babylon just as they multiplied in Egypt. He also wanted them to be good in their communities and to be a blessing to their Babylonian neighbors.

How was it possible for Jeremiah to get in touch with the Jewish exiles in Babylon? Correspondence like this wasn’t difficult to maintain in those days, for diplomatic missions between Jerusalem and Babylon were regular.

In the same way, God wants His children to be good neighbors, employees, co-workers, and a blessing even to the meanest people. The Word of God exhorts every believer in Jesus to do everything with all their heart as though they are working for the Lord (Colossians 3:23-24).


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