Category: Christian Growth

Living Out Your Heavenly Citizenship

Living Out Your Heavenly Citizenship

Many people all around the world want to get to America and eventually become citizens. Why not? I’ve heard many Americans say that the United States is the greatest country on planet earth. And that the poorest people in the United States are the richest people in third-world countries!

So, I get it. People, especially from third-world countries see America as a ticket to a better life. So much so that there are thousands of illegal crossings at the Texas-Mexico border daily. I can’t blame them. Who does not want to live the American dream?

But if there’s one citizenship that every person on planet earth should want to have, it’s heavenly citizenship.

Bible Verse: Philippians 3:20, NLT

“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for Him to return as our Savior.”

We must note that in his letter, the apostle Paul was addressing the Philippian believers. When he said, “We are citizens of heaven …” he was referring to himself and the church.

How did they acquire their heavenly citizenship? By acknowledging their sins, repenting, and trusting in Christ as their Lord and Savior.

If you did the very same thing that the church at Philippi did, then you are also a citizen of heaven. You may be holding a Philippine passport, British passport, American passport, etc. But you also have an invisible passport to heaven.

A Heavenly Citizenship

In the sight of God, there are only two kinds of citizenship: earthly and heavenly. Your earthly citizenship is temporary while your heavenly citizenship is for eternity.

God has already predetermined our race and nationality before conception. But that does not mean we can’t choose to become citizens of another country. God does not forbid you to move to another country and become a citizen there.

But God desires for everyone to become citizens of heaven just as He originally designed them to be.

Adan & Eve in the Garden of Eden

Before the fall, Adam and Eve held heavenly citizenship. Didn’t they enjoy intimate daily fellowship with God? However, things changed after they deliberately disobeyed God.

As a result, Adam and Eve’s relationship with God was broken and they forfeited their heavenly citizenship. The good news is that God wanted to restore that broken fellowship. He also wanted to open the pathway for all earthly citizens to become citizens of heaven.

John 3:16 tells us what God did to accomplish that.

How to Live as Citizens of Heaven

The moment a sinner repents and accepts the gift of eternal life from God, he acquires heavenly citizenship. But what does it mean to become a citizen of heaven? How should Christians live out their heavenly citizenship?

1. Do Not Live Like the World

Paul said this to the church in Rome:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind …” (Romans 12:2, ESV).

In the NIV translation, this verse reads, “Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world…” This simply means Christians should STOP copying the lifestyle of the world.

Before coming into the knowledge of God’s truth, we were just like the people in the world. We conducted ourselves in the same manner and behavior, held the same beliefs and customs. And whatever the world dictates as acceptable, we also deemed acceptable.

Paul said the same thing to the believers in Ephesus but reworded and expounded on it. “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking” (Ephesians 4:17, NIV).

If we continue reading Ephesians 4:18-32, Paul enumerates all the things that the Gentiles do and tells them how they should live instead. To summarize, Paul said, “Throw off your old sinful nature and put on your new nature.”

Now that we’re no longer earthly citizens, we need to stop behaving just like the people of the world. Instead, we are to start living our new life in Christ as new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17).

New Life in Christ

2. Do Not Love the World

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” – 1 John 2:15, NASB

This does not mean we should loathe anything and everything that is in the world. Remember, God originally created everything “good” (Genesis 1:10, 12, 21, 25).

For instance, marriage and family which are earthly institutions are good. Scientific and advanced medicines are good because they help cure diseases and prolong human life. Technology is good because it connects people who are miles away from each other.

Wealth and riches are good because they allow us to have a comfortable life. The Bible does not say money is the root of all evil. It’s the love of money that is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10).

The “good things” from God become “bad” only as a result of Satan’s perversion. So, there’s nothing wrong and everything right about enjoying God and the blessings He freely bestows on us in this life.

But let us be careful to not get too attached to this life and the things of this world. This is what it means to not love the world. It’s about setting our priorities straight.

The Word of God reminds us to not start obsessing about the wealth and pleasures of this world. This is because earthly pleasures are not from the Father (1 John 2:16-17, NASB).

Friendship with the World

As citizens of heaven, we should not also be too friendly with the world. Friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God (James 4:4). Intimate friendship requires a commitment. When you choose to side with the world, you just chose to be in opposition to God. It’s because the world is currently ruled by Satan who is the archenemy of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).

You can’t be loyal to two opposing parties. As Matthew 6:24 (NIV) says, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”

Joshua said the same thing (Joshua 24:15), “Choose this day whom you will serve…”

The bottom line is, there is no middle ground, there is no gray area. When you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you. If you are friends with the world, you become an enemy of God.

It’s a matter of choice!

James 4:4

3. Live as Pilgrims in a Foreign Country

“Dear friends, I warn you as temporary residents and foreigners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.” – 1 Peter 2:11, NLT

Peter kind of echoed what King David said.

We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.” – 1 Chronicles 29:15, NLT

A stranger or foreigner is a temporary resident or traveler in a foreign country, passing through on his way to his home country. This is what we are in this world. Thus, we have a different mentality about life as compared to the permanent residents of this world.

As travelers, we don’t live according to the customs and standards of the foreign country we are in. But for the sake of not offending the locals, we may temporarily adopt some of their customs if they are morally neutral.

For instance, women here in Saudi Arabia are required to wear abayas and keep their heads covered. So, foreign women must do the same when they come here. Also, during Ramadan which is the month of fasting for Muslims, we should not eat or drink in front of them.

4. Set Your Hearts & Minds on Heavenly Things

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” – Colossians 3:1-2, NIV

To set our minds on things above means we should think of heavenly things; we should meditate on the things of God and His Kingdom.

But what about setting our hearts on the things above? What does this mean? In the Bible, the “heart” always stands for our affection, aspiration, desire, and passion.

Paul’s encouragement to the believers is that their desires align with God’s desires and be passionate about them. And also for them to develop a heavenly mindset – a way of thinking that goes far beyond what humans perceive.

We must note that everything on earth is temporary. Everything visible will come to an end while what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Billy Graham Quote

Know Your Priorities

However, to desire heavenly things and think about the things of God does not mean we should not live in fullness. It does not mean you should not get married and have a family just because our Lord never married.

Or if you have a family, you neglect your responsibilities to them and claim that you are focused on God’s work. And if you’re a mother, you need to take care of your husband and children.

As a man or woman of God, your first ministry is your family. Take care of your family first before attempting to take care of God’s business in the church. You cannot be effective in the church if you can’t even take care of your own family.

It’s the same thing at work. Whatever your job maybe you should, by all means, give your best. Always give it your 100%. As Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV) says, “We must do everything as working for the Lord…”

But as citizens of heaven, we need to always prioritize the Kingdom of God. We have to carry out God’s mandate known as the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) – witnessing/evangelism and discipleship.

We are to keep building the church by using our God-given talents and resources to serve God and others.

Conclusion

Are you living as citizens of heaven?

We are aliens and strangers on this earth, heading as pilgrims toward heaven. We’ve got to adopt that mindset, which includes constantly remembering that we aren’t staying here for long. Our home is in heaven. We should live like it!

Although we are still in this world, we are not of this world. Many things could go wrong in this world but we shouldn’t get distracted.

As heavenly citizens, we are to remain faithful to God, live in righteousness, and anticipate the promised return of Christ. Philippians 3:21 tells us what happens when Christ returns.

“He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” – Philippians 3:21, NLT

This is the third and final phase of our salvation – the glorification of our bodies. This will take place in the event known as the rapture, our blessed hope.


Recommended Resource: A Place Called Heaven: 10 Surprising Truths about Your Eternal Home by Dr. Robert Jeffress

If any of us learned we were going to move to a foreign country, we’d do everything we could to learn about that place so that we’d be prepared when moving day arrived.

As Christians, we know someday we will leave our familiar country and be united with God in heaven. And yet many of us know very little about this place called heaven.

In this enlightening book, bestselling author Dr. Robert Jeffress opens the Scriptures to unpack ten surprising truths about heaven and explain who we will see there and how we can prepare to go there someday.

Perfect for believers or skeptics who are curious about heaven.

The Transformation of Grinches: Behind the Scenes Review and Analysis

The Transformation of Grinches: Behind the Scenes Review and Analysis

It’s that time of year again!

The season of Christmas: the day on which many Christians attend services to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. It’s the season where families are gathered together to drink hot chocolate while binge-watching old-time Christmas films.

It’s been two years since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Understandably, the Christmas spirit, for most of us, has been reduced to an illusion from the past. Will Christmas ever be the same? Who knows!

This uncertainty made me sit down and reflect on the central messages of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” One figure that stood out to me was the wicked Grinch. There are so many “grinches” in our society, and even in the Bible.

In this presentation, I will give a summary of each part of my series. I will also give you some key central ideas that we can apply in our personal and spiritual lives.

Mr. Grinch and Christmas

Overview: How It All Started

During the lockdowns in 2020, I was allowed to host a virtual movement in which we expressed our Christian faith and acts of protest against our nation’s evils. It’s called “God vs Satan.” You can find an overview of what we did HERE.

Over the holiday season last year, I collaborated with participants to put together a slideshow presentation. This included a collection of Christmas stories that I have written. Each tale was inspired by historical events that took place during that time, as well as famous narratives from the Bible.

Inspired by 1966’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas, “The Transformation of Grinches” is a fictional series that was crafted during the 2020 winter holiday season. The series consists of five lyrical and liturgical works of literature. Each scene is told from four different biblical perspectives (or profiles). These are Achan, Cain, Jonah, and Satan.

Profile 1: Satan (Grinch is Evil)

Mr. Grinch is evil; a pesky, filthy man, and the father of lies! He does nothing but cause chaos and steals the joy of Jesus Christ. This evil guy just wants to rip the Spirit’s gifts from the tree of life. Like Satan, Grinch is mean, nasty, and a vicious bear, who wants nothing for God’s children than for them to live in sin.

Grinch is the punisher of the seven reindeer in the East, and the ten elves of the West. Thus, I say to them, “Beware!”

Also, Mr. Grinch is a vile, violent, sleazy fool! He likes to spew murderous desires, and teach people the language of hate. It seems this bad guy does not know that my Savior was born in Bethlehem.

Get this, not only is Mr. Grinch an idiot for trying to tear down our safe havens. He also desires that God’s children are damned to the depths of Hades. So, who is this Grinch that sails from the East, and screams around this great Earth? His name is SATAN!

Now, it is Christmas! It’s the season of love and bliss; the gathering of the churches and the singing of Heaven’s choirs, Mr. Grinch’s reign of terror is slowly but surely coming to an end.

Commentary

“You’re a Devil, Mr. Grinch” is a song that was inspired by the famous song “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

In the song, Satan is described as “a man who rips the Spirit’s gifts from the tree of life.” In the film, the Grinch is famously known for stealing Christmas gifts from children and wrecking Christmas celebrations. He disguises himself as Santa Claus to deceive the children into thinking that they were receiving Christmas gifts that night. In reality, he had a malicious plan up his sleeve.

In the same way, Satan, in this piece, is known for manipulating what God intended for good by stealing the very blessings that God gave to His children. This is a very subtle tactic we often do not pay attention to when serving and giving.

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Nothing Good Comes Out of Satan

The entire song was based on a biblical passage. This is when Jesus gives an analogy relating the hypocrisy and the selfishness of the Pharisees to the nature of thieves and robbers. While Jesus depicted the Pharisees as thieves robbing the sheep from listening to the shepherd, this characteristic can also drawback to the identity of Satan.

Satan is known as a thief who comes only to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). This is why I ranked him as the main Grinch in my narrative.

Nothing good will come out of Satan; there is no Godly attribute in him.

Profile 2: Cain (A Bloody Christmas)

It was the house of Cain where America witnessed such great pain. The Christmas lights were replaced with a sea of red blood. Sleighbells turned into funeral bells, playing songs of sorrow.

Righteous America is the descendant of Abel, robbed of its chance of life. Evil America is the descendant of Cain, leading its neighbors to their demise. No smoke is billowing from that ancient chimney. No flame kindles from afar.

There is nothing but gunfire and the sounds of sirens. The noise of a holiday riot. But, soon, the bloodshed ceased. It was a silent night. It was a grey and cloudy night of tears. But, soon, America cried “Father, help us! We are doomed, and consumed with the ashes of sin!”

Suddenly, God gave them mercy and grace and turned the red blood into white puddles of snow. Then, the world sang a beautiful hymn of praise. It was the birth of the Christmas cheer.

Joy to the world! The Lord has come! O, hail!

Commentary

“A Bloody Christmas” is a fictional parable based on the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis chapter 4. The scene is told from the perspective of two Americas: a rebellious, divided America and a righteous, peaceful America.

It is Christmas Eve, and a bloody riot erupts in the streets. The season of festivity turns into a somber occasion of mourning and grieving. Soon, the people within the land repent of their sin. Then God demonstrates His mercy by turning the crime scene into a scene of praise and worship!

The Joy of the Lord is My Strength

Joy is Restored Upon Repentance

The central idea is that God restores the joy of a repentant heart.

Like the story above, Genesis 4 gives us the story of two brothers who endured the pain of death and covetousness. Cain killed his brother Abel out of jealousy and envy. God approved of Abel’s offering and did not approve of Cain’s. He later repented, and God granted him protection and mercy.

The Grinch, reflecting on his sin against his neighborhood, felt such deep sorrow for those he had wronged on Christmas Eve. As soon as he changed his attitude about his wrongdoing, his joy and the joy of others were restored.

The human race is consumed with moral flaws, and their hearts are filled with the naughtiest of imaginations and fantasies. However, there is always a blessing in the process of repentance.

True repentance is not just an apology or a New Year’s resolution. It’s an inward transformation that is only possible through the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Profile 3: Jonah (The Blizzard of Greece)

It was December 22, in a warm, cozy cottage. It was the week of the great Christmas mass at the Cathedral of Nineveh. The man would be instructed to preach against that great nation, for their wickedness was so great. Yet, he grabbed his things and rode his chariot to the great land of Greece.

The snow was as thick as the three towers that surrounded the city. The winds were so brutal and strong, that the man was thrown into the deepest part of the Mediterranean Sea.

How can a swarm of angry fish swallow this man whole, yet save his life? How can he survive frigid temperatures without a life vest? The waves were cold, so strong, and violent. His heart was frozen like ice. Surrounded by the thorn of disobedience, the sun would soon shine.

It was December 25, at the great land of Nineveh. The great day of redemption from the pit of sin! The organists came out and played the ten hymns of celebration. O holy night, the stars were brightly shining. It was the night of our Savior’s birth.

Victory for Nineveh, o night divine!

Jonah, the Reluctant Prophet
Photo Credit: Medium

Commentary

Inspired by the biblical narrative of Jonah, this story is a work of literature. It vividly depicts the redemptive power of the Messiah who came to deliver mankind from the curse of sin.

In the tale, a man is on a mission to lead the city of Nineveh to repentance. After encountering a violent snowstorm that nearly cost him his life, his determination to bring the Gospel message to a broken nation gave way to a time of great day of victory!

Salvation: God’s Greatest Gift

Material goods are nothing; they are meaningless compared to the gift of salvation.

Although Jonah could not be described as a “Grinch” in Scripture, the story does point out his sin. Moreover, it showed how God used his imperfections to share the Gospel message to a wretched nation impending the coming judgment.

The greatest Christmas gift you could ever give to a human being is not the money from your bank account, or the latest Catalac on sale. It is the wonderful gift of salvation that Jesus offered us by shedding his blood on the cross. It is not only the message that transforms the soul into the everlasting light. It’s also a committed and driven lifestyle that reflects that message. Let’s not just say that we oppose darkness; let’s back that up with how we live.

The kingdom of God is watching. The kingdom of Satan is watching. Two magnificent worlds: both the natural and the spiritual, are watching.

Profile 4: Achan (A Short Play)

(Scene)

James (thief #1): Give me the money, now!

7-year Old Child: No, thanks! Besides, I can’t talk to strangers! I don’t have any money.

James: Hey! If you can’t get me your stupid money, just give me these Toy Story DVDs!

Child: Why?

Achan: Mwa-ha-ha-ha! I just stole that $600 dress and that chimney from Santa Claus. Now, I’m hyped up! I hope I won’t get caught.

Satan (to Achan): Oh, would you look at the time! Some new company! Mwahahahahahahaha!

Achan: I SAID, SANTA, NOT SATAN, FOR GOODNESS’ sake! Now to dash before I get caught!

(5 seconds later…)

Samuel: Busted! I found you Achan! What have you done?

Achan: Uh, nothing!

Samuel: Don’t you play dumb with me, you naughty boy! I just caught you stealing that fancy dress after your Master told you not to! You tried to steal the joy of Christmas. You just committed such a grave sin against the Father of the Heavens, and His begotten Son!

Achan: Yeah!

Samuel: You can face your consequences, on the double! Naughty List for you, and the wrath of the Almighty!

Commentary

This profile is a theatrical and artistic representation of Joshua 7. It is a short story of a figure named Achan, who steals an object at the store, which aligns with the plot of Joshua chapter 7.

Immediately after the triumph at Jericho, the Israelites fight against the city of Ai but are unable to take it. God tells Joshua that Israel lost because of God’s anger. One of the Israelites has kept some of the “devoted things” from Jericho for himself instead of destroying them.

Therefore, Israel herself has become a “devoted thing,” which will be destroyed unless the sinner gets punished and the stolen objects destroyed. Following instructions from the Lord, Joshua assembles the Israelites. He does this tribe by tribe, then clan by clan, then household by household.

God reveals Achan, of the tribe of Judah, as the culprit behind the fiasco. He and his household, along with the devoted things he kept, are taken and destroyed.

Sins Demand Sacrifice

This story, along with the short play, is an illustration of the importance of obeying God’s commands. God commanded the Israelites to destroy all “the devoted things” – both people and possessions of Canaan. God commands such action in Deuteronomy 7:2 and 20:17. The ban seems to be in part a precautionary and a punitive measure. Why does it call for the destruction of the Canaanites? The answer is in the next verse (Deuteronomy 20:18).

The call to destroy devoted things also has overtones of sacrificial language. Like a burnt offering, the devoted things are to be destroyed by fire (Joshua 6:24; 7:15). And like a sacrifice, they are to be devoted to the LORD for destruction (Joshua 6:17). The ban also means, of course, that Israel cannot profit from war. It is a means of sacrifice.

The Christmas season is not only a reminder of the price that comes from our naughtiness. It also reminds us of the sacrifice that love and hope demand. Like the burnt offerings, hope requires that we “destroy” all things that will lead us to resentment. If not, they will ruin the atmosphere that Christmas speaks of.

Conclusion

“The Transformation of Grinches” is not only a challenge for many believers across America to examine their behavior. It is also intended to make them seek reconciliation for the wrongs they may have committed.

Just as a mother disciplines her children, the coronavirus pandemic has figuratively sent all of us to our rooms. While in confinement, may we think about what we have done and prioritize what is important in our lives.

Therefore, this series is a collection of motifs that we can all take with us as we enter a new year.

God’s Example of Gift-Giving

God’s Example of Gift-Giving

Christmas is just around the corner. And get this … Christmas celebration is not complete without gift-giving! I believe this is the part that makes most people, especially kids, excited about Christmas. This is the highlight of most celebrations such as birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

Don’t you love gifts! Everybody loves gifts! I do not know of anyone who doesn’t.

Giving presents and exchanging gifts have become parts of our practices and traditions. And that is not a bad thing! The problem is this, we tend to be choosy.

We want something fancy and expensive. We want to get the best of all gifts. Little do most people realize that God has already given us the best gift. I’m talking about the greatest gift we’ve ever received mentioned in Ephesians 2:8-9.

We are saved by grace

God’s Greatest Gift to Us

This gift of God has nothing to do with our efforts. We didn’t earn it, deserve it, or purchase it. God gave it through His sacrificial gift so our salvation would not be our boast, but His kindness.

What is this gift? Our salvation!

We may not realize it but this gift from God is unlike any other gift that we can buy from the gift shop. Some people may think it’s cheap because it is available to anyone who wants to receive it. But it’s priceless; you can’t put a price tag on it.

It’s because God paid for it with His life. Jesus redeemed us with His blood (Ephesians 1:7). To redeem means “to pay off,” “to buy back,” or “to regain possession of.”

Originally, we belonged to God. But because of sin, we were separated from God. We’re on our way to hell and are destined to spend eternity there. But God did not want us to perish so He sent His Son to redeem us.

God’s Greatest Gift to Us

First of all, Christ did not come down to earth to start a Christmas tradition that includes the giving of gifts to one another. Christ came to offer His life as a ransom for many. He came to give us eternal life.

By doing what He did, God also exemplified the true meaning of gift-giving.

So, what are the things that God wants us to take into consideration whenever we give to others?

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

Giving Should be Motivated by Love

God had one reason and one reason only for giving us the greatest gift of all and that is love. We have no reason to doubt this. You see, God did not have to give His Son but He did it anyway.

Why? It’s all because of His great love. God is not only full of love; God is love (1 John 4:16). Everything God does stems from His great love for us. If God did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us, how can He not also give us all things (Romans 8:32)?

What about us? What is our motivation in giving? In goal-setting, they call this “finding your why.” In other words, what’s your reason for doing the things that you do.

Giving Should be Motivated by Love

Why do you give to charitable institutions and orphanages? Is it because your friends are doing it? If your reason is that you feel sorry for them, that means your heart is in the right place.

Why do you give in support of God’s work? Why do you give birthday presents to your friends or other people on any occasion?

By the way, giving is not only in terms of material things, like money or anything tangible. It could also mean spending time with your friends and loved ones. Or taking a break from your busy schedule to comfort a colleague or friend who’s going through tough times.

Giving Should Be Unconditional

Unconditional means “no strings attached.” It’s just like how God gave His Son to die on the cross for our sins. God was not expecting anything in return. All He wanted was to spare us from eternal condemnation.

But these days, when you offer something too good to be true, people are quick to ask, “What’s the catch?” And we can’t blame them. As they always say, “You don’t get anything for free. There are no free hand-outs and if there are, they’re most likely trash.”

When God gave us the greatest gift of all, He did so without condition. How do we know this? It’s because God did it out of love and God’s love is unconditional.

God did not say, “Hey, you need to be a good person first.” Neither did He say, “Turn away from your sin and then I will give My Son to die for you” (Romans 5:8).

God had expectations as some scholars argue, it’s that everyone would receive His gift by faith. And also, for them to share that gift with others. This is why Jesus gave the Great Commission.

But we need to emphasize that what God expects from the recipients of His gift is not for His benefit. Rather, it’s for the people who are still in darkness. Simply put, it’s about giving back or passing it on.

Do we give, expecting something in return? Isn’t it more blessed to give than to receive? This is why it’s always best to give to the people who are unable to give back to us.

This is not to say that the principle of “give and take” is wrong or bad. What is wrong is when a person who has the means to give prefers to be always on the receiving end.

Giving Should Be Unconditional

Giving Should be Sacrificial

When we hear the word sacrifice, it always involves doing something difficult and painful. It’s not going to be easy and it would take courage to be able to do it. It’s about setting aside your own comfort and happiness for the sake of others.

God modeled sacrificial giving 2,000 years ago. The Father endured the pain of having to watch His only Son suffer and die at the hands of His creation. But for man to be spared from hell, God had to experience pain.

We all know the story of Abraham who is about to offer his son Isaac on Mount Moriah? That was a foreshadowing of what God would do to His Son about 1,500 years later on Mount Calvary.

I can’t imagine the pain that a parent has to go through when his only child gets brutally killed in front of him. You are blessed to not have to go through this kind of pain.

Have you ever felt pain as a result of “giving” to your family or loved ones? You were saving for a new cellphone but your daughter needed money to pay her lease. Or you wanted to treat yourself to an expensive restaurant but your friend suddenly in need.

These are part of the sacrifice we have to make just so we can give to our loved ones or extend help to those in need.

Giving Should be Purposeful

Why did God give His Son to die on the cross? What was His purpose for sacrificing His only Son? For us to have eternal life! To provide salvation to all who will believe. Again, it’s for the benefit of the recipients.

If we read Isaiah 53:10, it says, “But the Lord was pleased to crush Him (the Son), putting Him to grief.” Doesn’t that sound brutal?

But God did not just do this for nothing. God’s giving of His Son was for the sole purpose of saving us from the horrors of hell. It should be the same thing with us when we give anything to someone. It should always be for the benefit of the one who gets the gift.

Is what you’re giving beneficial to the receiver? Is it something they need? Oftentimes, what people want is not necessarily what they need. This is why when we ask God for something that does not benefit us, He won’t give it (1 John 5:14). God will not grant our requests that are harmful to us.

Giving Should Be Purposeful

On our part, when we give a gift or present, we don’t give something just for the sake of giving. We should give it some thought. Again, this comes down to our reason or motivation in giving. When we give out of love, we will surely give what we think is best for the recipient.

No matter how expensive your gift might be if it won’t be useful to the one who gets it, it’s useless. On the other hand, even if the gift is somewhat cheap as long as it’s exactly what the person needs, it will be valued and appreciated.

Bottom line is, it’s not the worth that counts but its usefulness.

Final Thoughts

God modeled the true meaning of gift-giving. God has not only given us so much; He’s also given us the greatest gift of all.

God gave us His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And in the person of Jesus Christ, we find salvation, redemption, reconciliation with God, and eternal life (1 John 5:12).

The least we could do to pay back God for all He’s done is to strive to follow our Lord’s example. We are to share that gift with others as well.

So, to recap what God has taught us about gift-giving, remember the acronym P-L-U-S.

Christ's Example of Gift-Giving

Recommended Resource: Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ by Timothy Keller

From pastor and New York Times, bestselling author Timothy Keller comes the perfect gift for the Christmas holiday—a profoundly moving and intellectually provocative examination of the nativity story.

Even people who are not practicing Christians think they are familiar with the story of the nativity. Every Christmas displays of Baby Jesus resting in a manger decorate lawns and churchyards, and songs about shepherds and angels fill the air.

Yet despite the abundance of these Christian references in popular culture, how many of us have examined the hard edges of this biblical story?

In his new book, Timothy Keller takes readers on an illuminating journey into the surprising background of nativity. By understanding the message of hope and salvation within the Bible’s account of Jesus’ birth, readers will experience the redeeming power of God’s grace in a deeper and more meaningful way.

Would You Deny Our Lord?

Would You Deny Our Lord?

Peter’s denial of Christ 3 times may be one of the lowest points of his life as a follower of Christ. Who would have thought that the disciple who seemed to be the most loyal could turn his back on his “rabbi?” Yet, he did! The fact that Peter denied Christ not just once but thrice is so unthinkable.

When Jesus warned His disciples that they would all “fall away,” Peter vowed that he wouldn’t. And Jesus said to him, “…before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” But Peter doubled down and said, “I will not deny You, even if I have to die with You” (Mark 14:27-31).

Jesus Predicts Peter's Denial

Peter’s Three Denials

We can read the story of Peter denying Christ three times in all the 4 gospels (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; and John 18:25-27).

After Jesus got arrested, the guards led Him to the house of Caiaphas, the high priest. Here, a group of religious leaders and teachers of the law gathered to put Jesus on trial.

Meanwhile, Peter followed Him at a distance and came to the high priest’s courtyard. He made sure to stay far enough behind so that no one would notice him. Very cautiously, he entered the courtyard, sat with the guards, and waited to see how it would all end.

However, three different people recognized Peter as one of Jesus’ followers. Yet each time they accused him of being with Jesus, Peter denied it. He even went as far as to swear and say that he didn’t know Him.

The fact that Peter was standing in the enemy’s fire, warming himself, indicates how defeated he was. The denial was even more humiliating because two of the interrogators were servant girls. The third challenge came from a man, one of the bystanders, but Peter failed again.

Listen to the Lord’s Warning

Just as the Lord predicted, Peter denied knowing Him 3 times before the rooster crowed. Take note that Jesus told Peter before He was arrested that he would turn his back on Him. But instead of heeding Jesus’ warning, Peter insisted that he would stick by Him even if it would cost him his life.

Perhaps Peter himself did not expect that he could do what he did. He was not even aware that he was doing exactly what Jesus said he would do. It was only after the rooster crowed that he realized what he has done.

Peter Denies Christ

When the Lord looked at Peter, his heart broke. He knew that he messed up big time! Come to think of it; all Jesus had to do was look at Peter. Jesus warned him that this would happen. Yet, Peter was very confident that his faith won’t fail him no matter what.

Let this be a warning and lesson for the followers of Jesus. Keep in mind what Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth. “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall” (1 Corinthians 13:12, NLT).

God is Faithful, We are Not

People often say, “Promises are made to be broken.” Sadly, this is used to justify not keeping one’s word. In short, we are validating the argument that it’s okay to not always make good your promise. After all, aren’t promises made to be broken?

While this is maybe true for fallen men, it is never the case with God. Whatever God promised, He will surely bring it to pass. It may not always happen within our timeline but it does not mean God won’t fulfill it.

Therefore, “let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23, NIV).

What promise or promises of God have you claimed that are still waiting to get checked off your list? Do not ever lose hope that you will eventually receive them.

From what we read in the gospel accounts, we can conclude that Peter was always bold and straightforward with the Lord. He was never afraid to express exactly what he’s feeling in every given situation. He did not hold back, to the point that in certain situations, Jesus had to openly rebuke him.

Overcoming Fear

Can you imagine how Peter must have felt after realizing what he just did? Were you ever at a point where you had to choose between your safety or being loyal to a friend? You’ve committed to catching a bullet for someone you care so much about. But when the time came to put that loyalty to test, you buckled. Why?

The number one reason most people don’t stick with their friends to the end is fear, and that’s normal. We fear for our safety, we fear for our lives! It’s pretty easy to commit to remaining true to someone when everything is great. But when the situation turns into a matter of life or death, that’s when we give in and give up.

Fear is just one of the weapons that Satan uses against us and he’s good with it. But we can defeat the enemy by not allowing fear to overcome us. God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 5:7).

The Lord's Guidance
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Jesus Reinstates Peter

The miracle of the rooster’s crow told Peter that a new day was dawning. After all, that is what the rooster’s call means each day. It was not a new day for Judas or the enemies of the Lord. It was a new day for Peter as he repented and wept bitterly.

The Lord saw how sorry Peter was. And God always gives second chances; He will not reject a broken and repentant heart (Psalm 51:17).

So, on the morning of Resurrection Sunday, the angel sent a special message to encourage Peter (Mark 16:7). More importantly, the Lord Himself appeared to Peter that day and restored him to fellowship (John 21:15-19).

You may be wondering why Jesus had to ask Peter if he loved Him three times. We know that Peter and his Lord had already met privately and no doubt took care of Peter’s sins (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5).

But since Peter had denied the Lord publicly, there must be a public restoration. Since Peter denied Jesus three times, Jesus asked him three personal questions. He also encouraged him by giving a three-fold commission that restored Peter to his ministry.

Concluding Words

Peter’s denial is a warning to all of us. For if an apostle who walked with Christ denied Him, what might we do in similar circumstances?

Thus, before we judge Peter too severely, we need to examine our own lives.

How many times have we denied the Lord and lost opportunities to share the gospel with others? Do we, like Peter, talk when we should listen, argue when we should obey? Do we sleep when we should pray and fight when we should submit?

To Peter’s credit, he was sorry for his sins and wept over them. And the Lord was gracious to not only forgive him but also reinstate him.

Did you repent for those times when you denied your Lord?


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:

Simon Peter Leader Guide: Flawed but Faithful Disciple by Adam Hamilton

He left everything to follow his teacher and possessed a passion that would change the world. That’s one way to describe Peter. Here’s another: poor, uneducated, quick-tempered, and full of doubts and fears. Doesn’t even sound like the same man.

And that’s the point of Simon Peter, a new book and six-week adult Bible study by Adam Hamilton. Peter was just an ordinary guy who heard and followed God’s extraordinary call. Discover how you, too, have special gifts, talents, and abilities that God can use to make a difference today.

In addition to the Leader Guide and DVD components for adult studies, corresponding youth and children’s resources, sold separately, can be used to create a churchwide study.

The World’s Hatred on God

The World’s Hatred on God

The world hates God, thus, they are a threat to Christians!

This is very clear not only from the Scriptures but based on everything that’s going on around us. But this should not come as a surprise to all followers of Jesus Christ.

Bible Verse: John 15:18-19

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

Jesus Teaches His Disciples
Photo Credit: Live in God’s Light

Hate and Rejection from the World

Before His departure, Jesus warned His disciples that the world would hate and reject them. No matter how wonderful Jesus’ message was, His followers should expect to be rejected because of who they are.

The disciples knew exactly what it meant to be hated by the world. After Jesus departed, they were all persecuted and died as martyrs, except for John. God’s enemies tried to kill John by boiling him in oil but he miraculously survived.

The early Christians knew and had experienced the hatred of the world. We can read their stories in detail in the book “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.” But martyrdom is not a thing of the past. Christians all around the world continue to endure great persecution because of their faith in Christ.

In this World, Out of this World

The world is hostile towards God. And so, it follows that it is hostile towards those who believe in God. Jesus tried to comfort His disciples by telling them that the world’s hatred was first directed towards Him.

Then Jesus goes on to explain further why the world would hate those who believe in Him. He said, “Because you are not of the world…” Yes, we are still in this world but we are not of this world.

God chose us out of this world and we are in many ways different from the world. Therefore, the world hates us.

At War with the World

Considering every Christian is a part of a spiritual war, we should not trust any unbeliever to give godly or biblical instructions. They don’t have your best interest in mind.

God gave us every remedy for ailments in nature. They are called essential oils. Why trust doctors that believe people are getting better and better when in reality we are decaying. Doctors most of the time are peddling snake oils in the form of petroleum-based pharmaceuticals that only lead to more issues?

Christians are at Wat with the World

Why not use what God has given us in nature? Because they hate God, they will persecute Christians. The socialists hate God because they want an all-powerful government.

All religions hate God because they want people to keep trying to earn salvation. Atheists hate God because there is suffering in the world. As we are getting closer and closer to the return of Jesus, persecution of Christians will only increase including in America.

How should Christians respond? God wants us to love our enemies so they may see God’s love for humanity. We are sheep amongst wolves (Matthew 10:16).

Don’t try for retribution. God will take care of that. God does want us to be wise to their wicked methods.

Satan is the God of this World

They hate God because they are children of Satan. Satan hates people in general because they were made in God’s image. That is why Satan wants all people to be dead.

The pharmaceutical industry has been using aborted babies in vaccines for years. When people take those vaccines, Doesn’t that make them a cannibal or at least an accomplice to murder? The new Covid vaccines will stop reproductive organs from functioning properly. Not to mention the 1000’s of people dying from these shots.

Satan is behind the murder of people, however, it happens. Because they hate God, division will occur. Why is the world so divided? Too many people are believing the lies that Dr. Fascinating, Bill Gates, President Biden, the pharmaceutical industry, etc. actually care and want your best interest.

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Final Words

God created you. God loves you. We sinned but Jesus died to save you from your sin. If you have never received this free gift of salvation, why not now before it is too late? To every Christian, when persecution comes to you, take heart God is with you. He will enable you to speak for Him.

We do not need to fear what this world can do to our bodies. We must remember that when we die, we will be with God as 2 Corinthians 5:8 says. We have nothing to fear when God is with us. How much faith do we have?

Take heart, Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33). God sent us into this world, He will enable us.

God bless!


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.

Get a copy of my book “Life According to the Truth.”

Publisher’s Description

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings for Being a Christian

Blessings for Being a Christian

Have you ever had someone asked you why you’re a Christian? Most people may think that believing in God is just all about going to heaven when you die. But as wonderful as that may sound, there’s more to life in heaven for a follower of Jesus.

There are wonderful blessings for being a Christian which we can enjoy even while we are still on this earth. I’m talking about some specific blessings that Paul mentions in his letter to the Romans.

Bible Verse: Romans 5:1-11

1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

3 And not only that but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.

The Blessings of Justification

8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

We Rejoice in God’s Blessings

In listing the blessings in the fifth chapter of Romans, Paul tells us how wonderful it is to be a Christian. Our justification is not simply a guarantee of heaven, as thrilling as that is. More importantly, it is also the source of tremendous blessings that we enjoy here and now.

1. Access to God

This is the first blessing Christians get to enjoy (Romans 5:2a).

Remember, the Jews were kept from God’s presence by the curtain in the Temple. Only the high priest was allowed to enter the holy of holies. And even then he got to do it once a year on the Day of Atonement (Hebrews 9:7).

The Gentiles, on the other hand, were kept out by a wall in the Temple with a warning on it. Anyone who went beyond would be killed. But when Jesus died, the veil (curtain) was torn in two (Matthew 27:50-51; Luke 23:45) and broke down the wall (Ephesians 2:14).

Jesus has become our Great High Priest who has passed through the heavens. So, now we can come boldly to God’s throne that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).

We can come to the Father through Jesus Christ, ask Him anything and He will do it (John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23-24). What a wonderful blessing it is that we can come to the Father anytime through our Lord whom God appointed as our mediator.

The Blessings of Justification

2. Glorious Hope

Having “peace with God through our Lord” (Romans 5:1) takes care of the past; God will no longer hold our sins against us. But the “place of undeserved privilege” where we now stand takes care of the present. We can now confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory (Romans 5:2b).

How do we share in the glory of God?

When we got born again, we have received the Spirit that brought about our adoption as God’s children. And since we are God’s children, we are His heirs. Together with Christ, we are heirs of God’s glory (Romans 8:15-17).

See also John 17:22; 2 Thessalonians 2:14, Ephesians 2:6; 2 Timothy 2:12.

3. Strength to Endure Trials

We can rejoice too, even when we run into problems and difficulties because we know that tribulations will develop perseverance in our lives (Romans 5:3).

Just because we have received justification that we can escape from the trials of life. As we go through trials and depend on God’s grace, the trials only purify us. God is working in us to develop character.

Sometimes we question why God allows His children to suffer. But as 2 Corinthians 4:17 (NLT) says, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”

James, the Lord’s brother, also encourages every child of God to persevere in James 1:12.

“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

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4. God’s Love through the Holy Spirit

Our hope in God will not lead to disappointment because we know that God loves us. God has poured out His love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given to us (Romans 5:5).

God proved His love by sending Christ to die for us (John 3:16). Even while we were still in our sins, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Now that we are His children, surely He will love us more. The inner experience of this love through the Spirit sustains us as we go through problems and trials.

Knowing that God loves us unconditionally is a blessing that we should never take for granted. Instead, we should strive to love God and live a life that brings glory, honor, and pleasure to Him.

5. Saved from God’s Wrath and Judgment

Man’s broken relationship with God was restored as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. We are no longer enemies with God. The death of Christ and His blood made right our standing with God (Romans 5:9-10). Paul argued from the lesser to the greater, the unsaved person is one of God’s enemies because he cannot obey God’s law (Romans 8:7).

But God did not declare war on humanity. Instead, He sent His Son as the Peacemaker that people might be reconciled to God (Ephesians 2:11-18). If God saved us when we were his enemies, surely He will keep on saving us now that we are His children. We can be sure that justification lasts.

Thus, we shall be saved from His wrath that will be poured out upon all the inhabitants of the earth. There is coming a time when God will not only restore the nation of Israel but will also judge the wicked, unrepentant world. Prophetic books such as Daniel and Revelation talk about this future judgment of God in detail.

But the bride of Christ, the church, is not appointed unto God’s wrath. We are appointed to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

Here’s a beautiful song called, “Blessings” by Laura Story from the album of the same title released in 2011.

Closing Words

The blessings we have freely received and can enjoy as children of God are profoundly amazing.

First, we are no longer estranged from God but have been placed in good standing with Him based on His grace. We can come to Him at any time for the help we need. Praise Jesus; what a comfort that is.

Secondly, we can rejoice in the glorious hope of sharing in the glory of God not only in the future but even at present. Third, we can also glory in our tribulations knowing that God can (and will) sustain us. And this is how God builds in us a better character.

Fourth, we will have a deeper awareness of the love of God through the Holy Spirit. And finally, we can rest in God’s promise that we will not suffer His wrath.

Our heavenly Father loves us and cares so much about us that He did not want us to perish. He gave His only begotten Son to take our place of punishment on the cross to reconcile us to Himself.


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:

Romans: Grace, Truth, and Redemption by John F. MacArthur

Paul’s letter to the Romans is an inspired masterpiece of doctrine highlighting God’s grace, truth, and redemption.

Within its pages, the apostle shares his message of good news and eternal salvation with the church advises believers on theological truths, gives practical applications for living the Christian life, and shows how God’s righteousness comes by grace alone through faith in Christ.

The book of Romans underscores that Christianity is far more than just a doctrine—it is an essential road map for daily living.

The MacArthur Bible Studies provide intriguing examinations of the whole of Scripture. Each guide incorporates extensive commentary, detailed observations on overriding themes, and probing questions to help you study the Word of God with guidance from John MacArthur.

Do Not Fear, Trust God

Do Not Fear, Trust God

With everything that is going on these days, people, including Christians are gripped with fear. But what does that say about your faith in God? Why are we choosing fear over faith?

Bible Verses: Matthew 8:26a & 2 Timothy 1:7

Matthew 8:26a

But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?”

Choose Faith Over Fear

Jesus’ words could be said to any number of Christians today. Everyone is fearful at some point in their life. Any circumstance we can’t control can cause fear, but does that mean we should be afraid?

In Matthew 8:23-27, we read the story of Jesus calming the storm. As Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, a fierce storm suddenly struck the lake and the waves started breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping so the disciples went to wake Him up crying for help. And Jesus said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?”

Jesus Calms the Storm

Jesus undoubtedly knew that the storm was coming and certainly could have prevented it. But He permitted it so that He might teach His disciples some lessons.

Jesus was asleep because He could rest confidently in the will of His Father, and this was what the disciples should have been able to do. Instead, they became fearful and accused Jesus of not caring. The disciples have been with Jesus for a considerable amount of time. They witnessed all the wonders and miracles that He performed.

Yet, they chose fear over faith when faced with a fierce storm knowing that Jesus was with them.

Do Not Be Afraid

Understandably, unbelievers would be fearful of a virus they can’t see. They don’t believe in an omnipotent God that can control the weather or diseases as Matthew 8:23- 27 and Exodus 9:9 says.

But why are there so many Christians that are afraid? If we are truly saved, why do we need to fear anything? 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

We all deal with fear. For some, it’s fear of public speaking; others are afraid of getting rejected, others are afraid of failing, others are afraid of losing their job.

But we need to understand that fear is not from God; it’s from the enemy. Fear is a powerful weapon of the enemy and he never misses an opportunity to use it whenever he gets the chance. And he is doing it right now. For more than a year now, the coronavirus pandemic has caused people all around the world fear and worry.

Yes, the virus is real; it’s highly infectious and deadly. In fact, it has already claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in America alone. So, I don’t blame people for being afraid and following all the guidelines given by the so-called “health experts.”

Do Not Fear, Trust God

Put Your Trust In God

In 2020, Christians did very little to stand up against the governors’ shutting down churches, requiring masks, and closing down the jobs of many people out of fear. In 2021 many Christians are getting vaccines out of fear. WHY?

Satan uses fear to control us. The mainstream media are manipulating us by controlling our perception of the world. Why aren’t we turning to God and His Word for guidance in these troubled times?

If we truly believe God is in control, and the Bible is true, where are the Christians willing to live like it is true despite what the media, government, doctors, CDC, and the UN say? This is true for everyone. If you want to see God work, you need to trust Him.

Final Thoughts

Even when we don’t always see immediate results, we can trust God because He is trustworthy. Jesus said there would be hard times (John 16:33). But also He promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).

If you have never placed your faith in Jesus Christ to save you, you can even now. He is waiting for you to choose Him over fear, why not now?


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: Fear Not: Living Grace and Truth in a Frightened World by Eric H. F. Law

Learn how to face your fears and live into courageous and faithful action with Fear Not. Americans live in a culture of fear, whether we know it or care to admit it.

Who will attack us next? Who will steal our jobs? Whose relationship undermines the sanctity of mine?

In an era when manipulative messaging is unavoidable, politicians, media, marketers, and even faith leaders play on our fears and use them to win elections, gain attention, sell products, and influence the way you view those around you — all in the name of claiming power.

Fear Not subverts insidious fear-based messaging with the creation of courageous communities committed to truth-telling, grace, hope, and love.

Drawing on decades as a community-building and church growth leader for churches and nonprofit organizations, Eric H.F. Law shares practical resources and processes for bringing diverse people together to build authentic relationships and share their truth.

Each chapter includes suggested activities and questions for discussion and tips for creating small discussion groups.

Is Suffering God’s Judgment?

Is Suffering God’s Judgment?

We often hear people say that suffering is a result of God’s judgment. Who is not familiar with the Great Flood in Genesis 7? We read how God was grieved when He saw the extent of human wickedness on the earth. So, God decided to destroy every living thing that He has created (Genesis 6:5-7).

Can we then conclude that the sufferings people are going through are God’s punishment upon them? Doesn’t the Bible tell us that God is love (1 John 4:8)? That God’s love caused Him to sacrifice His only Son on the cross to save us (John 3:16)?

Yes; God is love but He is also just and righteous (Psalm 89:14).

God Heals a Man Born Blind

In John chapter 9, we read the story of a man who has been blind since birth. As they passed by where the man was, Jesus’ disciples asked Him “whose fault is it that he was born blind” (John 1:2).

Instead of seeing the man as an object of mercy, the disciples saw him as a subject for a theological discussion. The disciples had been trained as young men in the Mosaic law. They learned that “God does not leave the guilty unpunished” (Exodus 34:7, NIV). That “God punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

The Healing of the Man Born Blind

Note: Some ancient rabbinic writings also speculated on the possibility of sinning in the womb or a preexistent state.

The disciples were sure that the man’s congenital blindness was caused by sin, either his own or his parents. But Jesus disagreed with them (John 9:3).

The Consequences of Sin

Adam’s disobedience brought sin and death into the world (Romans 5:12).

Adam and Eve sinned, and their offspring grew increasingly wicked and rebellious (Genesis 4:1-24). David committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged the death of her husband (2 Samuel 11). David’s children grew up to cause him continual distress through their violence and selfishness.

Only in rare cases, after God’s longsuffering and mercy have been exhausted did He punish His sinful people. We read in 1 Samuel 2:12-36 how God dealt with the family of Eli. Also, God sent Judah and Israel into captivity (Hosea 11:1-8; Jeremiah 25:1-11) because of their idolatry and disobedience.

In the final analysis, all physical problems and human sufferings are the results of our fall in Adam. The consequences of sin that come upon sinners and their descendants are usually natural consequences rather than God’s divine judgment.

So, to blame a specific disability on a specific sin committed by a specific person is beyond any man’s authority. Only God knows why babies are born handicapped. And only God can turn them into something that will bring good to people and glory to His name.

God brought about suffering in the life of the blind man to reveal God’s work in him (John 9:3). This also happened so that he might become a blessing to the disciples and a blessing to those who would read John’s gospel.

The Consequence of Sin

Does God Carry Grudges?

The concern of the disciples about the man born blind sounds more like the superstitious fear of many in the world.

They think that God holds a grudge against them because they have offended Him in some way. They feel guilty for not acknowledging or confessing their sins. This often distorts their perception of God’s attitude toward them. And they expect Him to bring judgment into their lives at any moment.

Repentance, confession, and acceptance of God’s forgiveness are important ingredients for spiritual peace and good mental health. Inner turmoil caused by a guilty conscience can cause all sorts of fears about divine punishment.

God carries no grudges. If there should be a situation in which God needs to correct our life through suffering, He will let us know. God disciplines us as a godly father disciplines a child. Never will our heavenly Father corrects us vindictively. Rather, He does it in a kindly fashion (Hebrews 12:5-11).

God’s Intent for Suffering

Trials and sufferings are part of life and Christians are not exempt. Some might have expected life to be easy and smooth sailing after becoming followers of Christ. But such is not the case; it’s going to be a battle all the way!

Dealing with the trials of life is never easy. But knowing the promises of God’s love in His Word enables us to experience inner peace and joy.

Suffering is painful and perplexing but we know that God has a purpose for allowing us to experience them. God uses suffering for our spiritual development.

Final Thoughts

When we see other Christians suffering, it is never our place to presume God’s intent for them. There might be instances when people suffer as a consequence of their actions. But oftentimes in the Bible God uses sufferings to enact tremendous good rather than to punish.

God has an infinite capacity to effect goodness amid our pain and difficulty. We see this principle in the life of Joseph, Job, and of course, the Lord Jesus Himself.

Let us love and comfort our fellowmen in their suffering and trust that God will work all things out for their good (Romans 8:28).


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: If God Is Good: Why Do We Hurt? by Randy Alcorn

Out of the deepest hurts of the human condition, Randy Alcorn brings into clear focus our most pressing questions about evil and suffering—including those that wrench our souls when we or someone we love is victimized by evil or assaulted by disease.

He faces these questions with seasoned sensitivity, skillful insight, and a heart of compassion. He dodges none of the difficulties, and never lapses into platitudes, hand-wringing, or oversimplification.

On this troubling but inescapable topic, you’ll find frank acknowledgment of the inherent limitations that set humanity apart from the God who has none. There’s also generous, real encouragement that brings God nearer in our understanding when we need His comfort the most.

And amid our heavy doubts and swirling confusion on this topic, Randy Alcorn points us ultimately toward Jesus as “the only answer bigger than the questions.”

The Power of God in Prayer

The Power of God in Prayer

Do you sometimes doubt the power of God in prayer? Is it because you prayed for something and God did not grant it? Do you know someone who used to be a Christian but quit because God did not give him what he prayed for? Isn’t God a loving God, kind, and generous?

Whatever it is that may have caused us or others to question if God works through prayer, rest assured He does. God is still God. He is enthroned in the heavens above and hears even the silent prayers of our hearts.

When Things Get Tough

More or less two weeks ago, the news about the deadly floods in Germany broke. One headline news read, “Climate scientists shocked by the scale of floods in Germany.” What took place was something unexpected and the cities that were heavily affected declared a “state of emergency.”

I immediately contacted a friend who recently flew there to make sure she’s okay, and thank God, she’s fine. She lives in the southern area which is far from where the flash floods are happening.

A day after, we learned that China’s Henan province was also affected by severe flooding. To make matters worse, several dams and reservoirs have breached warning levels. Flights and trains in many parts of Henan have also been suspended.

Flash Floods

We may not have family, relatives, or friends living in Germany or China. But for sure, every single one of the victims has had somebody grieving for their loss.

You see, it’s hard enough to see the people we love going through difficult times. It’s much harder because there is nothing we can do about their situation. We feel powerless and at times useless, as we watch them go through challenging times

As a result, we can quickly become frustrated, sad, and scared.

The Power of Prayer

Think about how the church at Philippi must have felt knowing what Paul was going through. When they heard of Paul’s imprisonment, they sent Epaphroditus with financial help. But that was all the Philippian church could do. They loved Paul dearly, thus, knowing the struggles he had to endure broke their hearts. They were 4600 miles away and had no political power to change the situation.

But the Philippians knew the power of prayer, so they prayed to God. Paul wrote:

“… Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:18b-20, NIV).

What does this tell us? That when God’s people intercede for one another, God takes affirmative action. This principle remains true even for believers today.

Intercessory Prayer

To intercede means to “to come to God on behalf of another.” In other words, when you intercede, you are asking God for something on behalf of someone else other than yourself.

The Bible calls this “standing in the gap” (Ezekiel 22:30). We see this in many different places throughout the Bible. For instance, Abraham pleaded with God on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16-33). Moses interceded on behalf of Israel (Exodus 32:30-33).

In the same way, the Philippian believers went to God in prayer on behalf of Paul. They understood perfectly that there is a direct correlation between God’s actions and the prayers of His people.

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Partnering with God in Prayer

We often hear Christians say that we can partner with God through prayer. God partners with His people to bring about His will and purposes. And the Philippians accepted God’s invitation to partner with Him in bringing to fulfillment His desires for Paul.

Today, God is giving us the same invitation to partner with Him in prayer. Would you accept His invitation?

Now, let me make this very clear. When we intercede, we should first seek to know God’s will and desires for the people we are praying for. This is crucial because not knowing the will of God may lead us frustrated in the end.

To partner with God does not mean manipulating God to agree with what outcome we want. Rather, we must become aware of God’s will and desires for someone and join Him in that.

The apostle Paul was aware that the Philippians were praying for God to help him. And the Philippian church knew that God wanted good for Paul. Even amid trials and difficulties, God is good and He desires what is good for His people.

God Desires Good for His People

It’s easy for us to become discouraged and frustrated when faced with an impossible situation. But Psalm 100:5 (NIV) says, “The Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”

1 John 5:14 (NLT) also assures us that God hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him.

When we pray God’s will for His children, we can come to Him confidently. But despite knowing this we don’t always feel like we can come to God confidently. It’s because we are not sure if we will pray for the right things.

We may not be able to always discern the will of God perfectly. But we can trust God because He is good. God will not give someone something that isn’t good for them simply because we asked for it.

God Helps Us Pray for the Right Things

What if we run out of things to pray for? Or when we do not know what to pray for? Romans 8:26-27 gives us the answer:

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

Not only that; Jesus who is seated at the right hand of God is also interceding for us (Romans 8:34).

“Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”

Final Thoughts

There is power in prayer. We see God’s power in action when His people come to Him in prayer. When we intercede for one another, God brings to pass His will and desires in our lives and the life of others.

Let us then boldly approach the throne of God through prayer for ourselves, for one another, for our nation, and the world.

Let us approach God’s throne of grace with confidence and we shall receive His mercy to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

Let us give thanks to the Holy Spirit, to our Lord Jesus who intercedes for us, and to the Father who hears every word of our prayers.

Let us continue to intercede for one another just as the Philippian believers did for Paul.


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:

The Daniel Prayer: Prayer That Moves Heaven and Changes Nations by Anne Graham Lotz

Bestselling author Anne Graham Lotz will teach you how to pray effectively for your nation, for your families, and yourself.

Many people today find that their prayers don’t “work.” And like a broken cell phone, DVD player, or TV remote, they throw prayer out as unnecessary “clutter” in their busy lives.

Anne Graham Lotz has found that while prayer does work, sometimes the “pray-ers” don’t. So she has turned to the prophet Daniel for help.

The Daniel Prayer is born deep within your soul, erupts through your heart, and pours out on your lips, words created by and infused with the Spirit of God quivering with spiritual electricity.

It’s really not an everyday type of prayer. It’s a prayer birthed under pressure. Heartache. Grief. Desperation. It can be triggered by a sudden revelation of hope. An answer to prayer, a promise freshly received a miracle that lies just over the horizon.

Join Anne in a thrilling discovery of prayer that really works.

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 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.


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:

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.