Category: Christian Living

What are the Languages of Love?

What are the Languages of Love?

We all agree that love is one of the most powerful emotions every single individual is capable of exhibiting. But are we even aware that love is a language? It certainly is! Accordingly, there are 5 languages of love.

Bible Verse: Mark 12:30-31

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.

Summation of God’s Law

Love for God cannot be divorced from love for one’s neighbor. So, Jesus also quoted Leviticus 19:18 and put it on the same level as the Shema. All of the law and the prophets hang on both of these commandments.

We might add that the teachings of the Epistles in the New Testament agree with this statement: If a person really loves God, he or she must also love their brother, sister, and neighbor (1 John 3:10-18; 4:7-21).

The Five Expression of God's Love

If we have the right relationship with God, we will have no problems with His commandments. Love is the basis for obedience. In fact, all of the law is summed up in love (Romans 13:8-10). If we love God, we will love our neighbors. If we love our neighbors, we will not want to do anything to harm them.

5 Expressions of Love

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five primary love languages. They are the five ways that people express love to each other. These are: 1) words of affirmation, 2) quality time, 3) physical touch, 4) acts of service, and 5) receiving gifts.

It is true that most people express love in two of the five ways, but not Jesus. He expressed love in all five ways.

Jesus Loves with Words of Affirmation

In John 8:4-11, Jesus showed love to the woman caught in adultery with words of affirmation.

We must not misinterpret this event to mean that Jesus was easy on sin. Or that He contradicted the law. For Jesus to forgive this woman meant that He had to one day die for her sin. Forgiveness is free but it is not cheap.

The Lord did not affirm her actions but He did affirm her value as a person. By affirming the value of this woman as a person, Jesus modeled not only words but also actions. He showed affirmation to a woman that needed mercy just like we all do.

Jesus Loves with Quality Time

We read in Luke 19:2-9 how Jesus showed love to Zacchaeus by spending quality time with him. It was never a coincidence that Jesus called for Zacchaeus when he was up in the tree. Jesus knew Zacchaeus wanted to see Him but He gave him something better – time to speak with Him.

Everyone indeed has a limited amount of time. But isn’t God and other people worth enough to spend some time with them?

Jesus Loves with His Touch

Jesus showed love in Luke 8:52-56 by His touch. He had healed many people of physical and spiritual illnesses, inspiring Bill Gaither to write the song, “He Touched Me.”

We read how Jesus has literally and figuratively touched many people. We can also show love by sharing the healing message of the Gospel, aside from the comfort of a hug. Are the souls of people worth enough for us to touch them with the Gospel?

Jesus Loves with Self-Service

As Jesus’ earthly ministry was coming to a close, He sacrificed His life as an act of service to provide the greatest gift of all: salvation.

It’s been 2 weeks since Christians all around the world celebrated the love of God expressed in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is by far the greatest expression of love God could have shown to humanity.

Jesus Loves by Receiving Gifts

We must recognize that we can never out-give God nor can we repay what Jesus has done for us. Well, not that He expects us to.

So, what gifts can we offer to our Lord? The apostle Paul exhorts every believer to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:2).

Just as Jesus Christ had to take on Himself a body to accomplish God’s will on earth, so we must yield our bodies to Christ. We submit to the Lord that He might continue God’s work through us.

We must yield the members of the body as “instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:13) for the Holy Spirit to use in the doing of God’s work. The Old Testament sacrifices were dead sacrifices, but we are to be living sacrifices.

Closing Words

As we can see, Jesus is the model of all five love languages. And as born-again Christians, we are supposed to live our lives as disciples or imitators of Jesus. We do this by living out the first and greatest commandment found in Mark 12:30-31. (See also Matthew 22:37-39.)

Let us love God and love others using all five love languages.


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

Life According to the Truth by Michael HeilmanPublisher’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.

When Christians Backslide

When Christians Backslide

Do you know someone who used to be a strong Christian but for some reason has ultimately abandoned the faith? When Christians backslide, people can’t help but wonder if they are still saved or are forever lost. What future awaits those who came into the saving knowledge of Christ but in the end chose to go their own separate way?

In this post, we will have a Bible study on backsliding. What does it mean to be a backslidden Christian? What are the causes and results of backsliding?

Biblical Definitions of Backsliding

Before going any further, it is important that we first discuss what backsliding really is. What does it mean to say that one is a backslidden Christian?

The Cambridge dictionary defines backsliding as “going back to doing something bad when you have been doing something good, especially to stop working hard or to fail to do something that you had agreed to do.” 

But what does the Bible say?

1. Backsliding is turning away from God.

We read in 1 Kings 11:9-10 that “the Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned from the Lord God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the Lord had commanded.”

As we can see in this particular text, backsliding starts with the heart setting its focus on someone or something else other than God. It could be fame, wealth, power, and whatever it is that the world has to offer. The person who is on the verge of backsliding may not even be aware or could be in denial until it’s too late. 

This is a reminder for us to not only guard our hearts (Proverbs 24:3) but also to rend it and make it subject to the Word of God. Why? It’s because our heart is deceitful and could lead us astray (Jeremiah 17:9).

Guard your hearts

2. Backsliding is growing cold and leaving your first love.

Revelation 2:4 says, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”

In Jesus’ letter to the church in Ephesus through the apostle John, He specifically rebuked them for not loving Him and each other with the same intensity that they used to. Their love has become lukewarm and God said He does not want lukewarm Christians.

If you find yourself growing cold in your love for God, that should immediately raise a red flag. One of the signs that Jesus mentioned when His disciples asked Him about the signs of His coming is that “the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). 

Are you still zealous for God and His kingdom? Do you still find joy laboring in God’s vineyard the same way you did when you first came into the saving knowledge of Christ? The apostle Paul exhorts us to “never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11, NIV).

3. Backsliding is turning away from the simplicity of the Gospel to salvation by law.

“You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4).

Most of us may not be aware that one of the signs that someone is backslidden is when they start questioning the sufficiency of the finished works of Christ and argue that good works are necessary for salvation. But we are warned that teaching work-based salvation is contrary to the gospel that Paul and the apostles preached. 

When Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30),  it meant that God’s justice has been satisfied and His wrath appeased. Jesus has paid the price for our sins and He paid it in full. We do good works and try our best to live in accordance with the will of God as evidence that we are truly saved; not to add to what Jesus has already accomplished on the cross at Calvary.

4. Backsliding is separation from the Lord because of sin or iniquity.

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you So that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2).

When you find yourself committing the same sin over and over again, that is an indication that you are no longer listening to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Either your heart has become callous or you are choosing to willfully and deliberately disobey God’s word. 

Causes of Backsliding

Although there are several outward causes of backsliding such as covetousness and love for the world, and the things that are in the world, we will focus on the true reasons why Christians choose to turn away from the Lord go back into the world.

1. Failure to pray.

Prayer means talking or communicating with God and consistent communication with Him is what strengthens our relationship. I remember my senior pastor saying, “No communication means no relation.”

How is your prayer life? Do still enjoy spending time with God, talking with and listening to Him?

To fail to pray is also a form of pride. When we do not consult with God in regard to any decision we make, we are saying we do not need His guidance and we do not care about His will.

2. Failure to read the Bible and meditate on it.

If you sincerely want the Lord’s will to be done in your life, then you need to feed on God’s Word. As I often say, “The Word of God is the will of God.” Watching preachers on TV or the internet is not the same as reading the Bible for yourself and asking God what He wants to tell you in His Word.

In the same way that our bodies need food, our spiritual life also needs spiritual food which is the Word of God. Jesus’ words in Matthew 4:4 hold true and remain to be true for every one of us who claims to be a follower of Jesus. how much time do you spend daily reading and meditating the Word of God?

Man shall not live by bread alone

We need to pray and read the Bible at the same time not only to be informed of the will of God and enlightened, but also to be encouraged and strengthened.

Note: Regular daily time spent alone with the Lord in prayer, praise and worship, and meditating the Bible is referred to as quiet time. And backslidden Christians who have come back to the Lord say that they lost out with God in their quiet time.

3. Failure to attend church.

Be sure to go to church at least once a week. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

You can’t expect to grow and mature spiritually without church fellowship. Many Christians who stopped coming to church eventually abandoned the faith and went back to their old sinful life.

4. Failure to obey the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is what convicts us of sin and when we do not obey Him, He is grieved. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Hebrews 10:25).

Note: As I already mentioned, willfully and deliberately disobeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit is a strong indication that we are turning away from the Lord. So, when you find yourself going against what God has said in His Word, know that you are heading towards destruction.

5. Failure to confess Christ.

We are given a stern warning in Matthew10:33, “But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”

One of the many things distinguishing a new believer from those who have been Christians for a while is their boldness to declare Christ as their Lord and Savior to the world. Sinners who just came to faith in Jesus are so pumped up and overwhelmed with the amazing grace of God that they want to let the whole world know how Jesus saved them despite their wickedness.

When was the last time you confessed Jesus as your Lord before a hostile group of people?

6. Failure to walk in the light.

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

God has called Christians out of the darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). Thus, we are to not only walk in the light but are also to be the light in this world of darkness (Matthew 5:14). 

Note: Generally speaking, backsliding is growing cold, losing interest in the Lord, Bible reading and meditation, prayer, church attendance, and witnessing, and turning toward or going back to the world.

Heres a song to remind us of the commitment we made to follow Jesus.

Results of Backsliding

1. Backsliding will result in the loss of power, a loss of peace, a loss of joy and happiness. Murmuring and darkness will begin to cloud the daily pathway.

2. Backsliding will result in the loss of salvation.

Consider the following passages:

“Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him a warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand” (Ezekiel 3:20).

“But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13).

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

“So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:16).

“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels” (Revelation 3:5).

See also Revelation 2:7; Revelation 2:10-11; Revelation 2:17; Revelation 2:26; Revelation 3:12; Revelation 3:21.

Does this mean that a backslidden Christian is forever lost? No! God’s unconditional love and amazing grace compel Him to constantly call and invite people to return to Him, accept His forgiveness, and be in fellowship with Him. One just needs to repent and receive God’s invitation.

Conclusion

We must understand that nobody backslides suddenly.

I am reminded of a church-mate who used to be very active in the church. She was the leader of the Dance Ministry and always sat on the front row for many years. Until one Sunday, she came to church but opted to not join her ministry for praise and worship. 

Surprisingly, she sat on the third row (or was it the fourth?) instead of her regular spot which is the first row in the music and dance ministry sitting area. The following Sunday she sat near the very back row. This continued for several Sundays until such time that she stopped coming. 

To end on a positive note, this sister was restored, praise God! The church leadership came to her rescue, counseled, and prayed for her. It turned out that her fiancé called off their engagement because he wanted to marry another woman. She has gone through a difficult ordeal but God is faithful.

He promised to “complete the work He has begun in us until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). 

Let us then “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).


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What Does the Bible Say About the Church?

What Does the Bible Say About the Church?

There are a lot of misconceptions about the church that continue up until today. Thus, a biblical study of the church is absolutely necessary to clear them up. What does the Bible have to say about the church?

Meaning of the Word “Church”

Our English word for church is derived from the Greek adjective kuriakos, meaning, “that which belongs to the Lord.” We find this word used in the first chapter of the book of Revelation. It reads:

“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet” (Revelation 1:10).

In the context of the passage, the Lord’s Day means, “the day belonging to the Lord.” This fits well with the meaning of the term church. The church then can be defined as the company of people who profess allegiance to Jesus Christ as their Savior – they belong to the Lord.

The Church is the Ekklesia

The usual Greek word translated as “church” in the New Testament is “ekklesia.” The word comes from the Greek preposition ek meaning, “out of” and from the verb kaleo meaning, “to call.”

So, the church is a “called out group of people” or a group of “assembled people” and “ecclesiology” means a “study of the church.”

Church: Group of Believers in Jesus

Ekklesia in the New Testament

The word ekklesia is only used three times in the gospels and over one hundred times in the remainder of the New Testament. The gospel references are all found in Matthew. The first is Jesus’ response to Peter where He said the following:

“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

The word ekklesia is used here in its technical sense. It refers to those people who believe in Jesus as their Savior. In this context, it speaks of something that is yet to occur – the building of the church.

The word ekklesia is also used twice in Matthew 18:17. It says, “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”

But in this instance, the word is used in a non-technical sense of Jewish assembly.

The word “church” is used only once in the gospels in the technical sense of Christian believers. In that passage, it is predicting the building of the church. Therefore, the church of Jesus Christ is still something that will be organized in the future.

The Church Doctrine Revealed by Paul

It was the Apostle Paul who revealed the doctrine of the church. He testified that God gave him that responsibility. He wrote the following to the Colossians:

“The mystery which has been hidden from ages and generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them, God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:26-27).

The church is a mystery or a “sacred secret” that the Apostle Paul was given the privilege of explaining to the world.

Ways the Word Church is Used in Scripture

In the New Testament, the word church is applied in several ways concerning believers.

A Group of Christians in a City

Acts 11:22 speaks of the church in the city of Jerusalem. We read:

“Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch.”

Acts 13:1 also talks about the church in Antioch: “Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.”

There was a church in Jerusalem as well as one in Antioch.

Christians in Jerusalem

A Particular Congregation of Believers

Paul spoke of a single congregation that met in a house. He wrote the following to the Romans.

“Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise, greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ” (Romans 16:3-5).

Paul expressed the same idea when he wrote to the church in Corinth. He said, “And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church” (1 Corinthians 14:35).

Therefore, the church can be a single group of Christians who meet.

The Entire Group of Believers on Earth

At times, the word church refers to all the believers on the earth. Paul used the term in this sense when he wrote this to the Ephesians: “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32).

Different Usages in the NT

The word ekklesia is not always used in the New Testament of a group of believers in Jesus. The martyr Stephen spoke of the church or assembly in the wilderness.

“This is he who was in the congregation (ekklesia) in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us” (Acts 7:38).

In this particular context, ekklesia is used in reference to the nation of Israel.

An Assembly of People

The word is also used of an angry mob. We read of this usage in Acts 19:32.

“Some, therefore, cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together.”

It can also refer to a mere gathering of people as we read in Acts 19:39.

“But if you have any other inquiry to make, it shall be determined in the lawful assembly.”

Thus, depending upon the context, ekklesia can refer to the assembling of Israel, an unruly mob, or some secular group assembling together.

Singular and Plural Usage

We should also note that the term translated church is used in both the singular and the plural. When the church of a city or town is mentioned the word is used in the singular. When a country or nation is spoken of the word is used in the plural.


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The Modern Uses of the Word Church

Today, when the word church is used several things come to mind. Indeed, the term is used in at least five different ways. They include the following.

Building where Believers Gather

First, church commonly refers to the building where Christians assemble; for example, the church on Main Street. To many people, this is the first thing that is thought of when the term church is used.

Group of Local People

Second, the word refers to the local group of people that meets together. Rather than merely referring to the building or physical structure it refers to the people who meet in the building.

Christian Denomination

Third, the church is a reference to a particular Christian denomination such as the Baptist Church or the Presbyterian Church.

All Believers in Jesus

Fourth, the term is also used of all believers who profess faith in Jesus Christ. In other words, it refers to the universal church.

State Church

Finally, the term is used of a state church such as the Church of England. Therefore, according to popular usage, the word church is used in several ways.

Conclusion

Notice that the biblical usage of the term church is not exactly the same as the modern usage. Therefore, we must understand the nature of the church from a biblical perspective.


Note: This article is an excerpt taken from Don Stewart’s book on the Church.

Finding Hope Amidst Difficult Times

Finding Hope Amidst Difficult Times

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

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

The Babylonian Captivity

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

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

Babylonian Exile
Photo Credits: Ancient Pages

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

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

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

Biblical Principles for a Victorious Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Forget the Past.

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

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

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

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

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

3. Keep in Step with God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Application for Believers Today

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

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

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

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

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

The Example of Simon Peter

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

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

Consider the following about Peter:

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

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

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

Christian Jewelry and Wall Decors - Lord's Guidance

When All Hope Seems Lost

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

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

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

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

Trust God At All Times

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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


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Don’t Get Distracted From God’s Purpose For You

Don’t Get Distracted From God’s Purpose For You

God has a specific will or purpose for every believer. But how often do we seek to fulfill God’s purpose for our life? And how often do we get distracted as a result of focusing too much on things that don’t really matter?

Bible Verse: Luke 19:5

And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”

Who Is Zacchaeus?

The name “Zacchaeus” means “righteous one,” but this supervisor of tax collectors was not living up to his name. Certainly, the Jewish religious community in Jericho would not have considered him righteous, for he has not only collected taxes from his own people but also worked for the unclean Gentiles.

And tax collectors were notorious for collecting more taxes than required; the more money collected, the more income they enjoyed.

God’s Purpose For Zacchaeus

We read Zacchaeus’ encounter with Jesus in Luke 19:1-10. So, it happened that as Jesus entered and passed through Jericho, Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector wanted to see Jesus. But because he was too short to see over the crowd, he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road where Jesus was going to pass by.

As Jesus came by, He looked up at Zacchaeus, called him by name, and asked him to come down, for He was going stay as a guest in his home (Luke 19:5).

Jesus Visits Zacchaeus
Photo Credits: The Brown Pelican Society

It was God’s will to spend time with Zacchaeus. Jesus was followed by a large crowd but that did not stop Him from ministering to Zacchaeus. Clearly, Jesus was not distracted by popularity or skeptics (Luke 19:3, 7).

The same thing happened when Jesus and His disciples went through Samaria. Jesus needed to go through Samaria to see the Samaritan woman and minister to her (John 4:4-25).

God had a purpose for Zacchaeus and the Samaritan woman, and God has a purpose for your life. How often do you seek God’s purpose for your life? When was the last time you asked God to reveal it to you?

Getting Distracted from Your Purpose

Many preachers today use methods that guarantee a crowd because it feels a lot better to minister to a large crowd than to just one single individual. How many of us can honestly say we would prefer to one more than a crowd? Who does not like being popular?

Truth be told. I know I have wanted to minister to as many people as possible through Bible thoughts, my books, etc. I just pray I never get too proud and forget about individual people. Is that true of you as well?

Jesus was always followed by a crowd during much of His ministry. Yet, He never stopped to preach and teach them while making sure He wasn’t neglecting individuals who wanted to listen to Him.

Closing Thoughts

There will always be people that find a problem, scoff, and mock. On other occasions in Scripture, Jesus responded to their doubts and skepticism, but this time no response was given. Sometimes God does not want us to respond to antagonism.

It does not really matter what people think or say if they are wrong. There is no point to be distracted or worried by lies. Don’t get distracted from the things that God has called you to do.

As Paul says, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). How well are we pressing toward that purpose?

We do not know what tomorrow holds but we know who holds tomorrow. Trust Him!


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 devotional book “Life According to the Truth.”

Publisher’s Description

Life According to the Truth by Michael HeilmanDo 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, 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 his life and led to God’s blessing in many areas of his life. With illustrations, humor, and most importantly Scripture, he explains to any born again believer who is spiritually wandering through life, how to be spiritually blessed by God as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

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

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

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

Does Religiosity Equal Christianity

Does Religiosity Equal Christianity

Do you know that one major reason why people are hesitant to become Christians is the notion that they have to be religious? This has negative connotations for most people. But does one need to be religious to be a Christian? Does religiosity equal Christianity?

First of all, we need to understand that Christianity is NOT a religion in the same way Islam or Hinduism is. Rather, it is a relationship with the living God.

In this short post, we will look at two important points that need to be made in dealing with this issue.

Religiosity vs. Christianity

One of the things that differentiate religion from Christianity is that the former consists of rules and rituals – things that people must do and other things they must not do. However, Christianity, though it has rules to follow, is basically a relationship between man (humanity) and the Creator.

When one becomes a Christian, he or she enters into a personal relationship with God through faith in the Lord Jesus.

Christ Himself said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

To become a Christian is a personal matter; it is a personal decision made by the sinner when he acknowledges his need for God. This is then followed by a desire to know God’s laws and precepts and to obey them (Psalm 119:33).

Christianity is not merely a set of laws and rules. It is a relationship between the living God and those who believe in Him. Thus, at its heart, Christianity is relational.

What is True Religion?

The Bible Condemns Empty Religiosity

The Bible strongly condemns religion that is without any genuine substance. We read so many instances where Jesus condemned the religious leaders of His day (Matthew 23:2, 3, 27, 28).

If religiosity equals true Christianity, Jesus would not have strong words for the Pharisees and the Sadducees who were strictly living according to the Mosaic Law. By doing so, Jesus exposed their hypocrisy.

Does this mean religion is not important? Some argue that without religion, it would be impossible to practice what God in His written Word has instructed us to do. This is where we need to distinguish between empty and genuine religion.

Scripture informs us what true religion should be and that is living out what you believe. James wrote, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

Contrary to popular belief, Christianity is not religiosity; a Christian is not someone religious. A Christian is one who has a pers0nal relationship with the living God through Christ.

Conclusion

Religion is not attractive to most people because it conjures up the idea of several rules and rituals that one must strictly adhere to. Often times, people follow these rules without any sense of personal satisfaction or fulfillment.

In that sense of the word, Christianity is not a religion.

Don’t be religious; be a Christian, a Christ-follower who has a loving relationship with the Creator.


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


The Lord’s Prayer and How to Pray It

The Lord’s Prayer and How to Pray It

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

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

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

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

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

A Model Prayer for Christians

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

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

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

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

Jesus’ Teaching On Prayer

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

We Recognize God for Who He is

“Our Father in heaven …”

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

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

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

We Magnify His Holy Name

“Hallowed be Your name.”

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

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

We Ask for His Kingdom to Come

“Your kingdom come …”

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

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

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

We Pray for God’s Will to be Done

“Your will be done …”

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

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

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

God's Purpose Always Prevails

We Ask God to Supply Our Daily Needs

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

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

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

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

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

We Ask God to Forgive Our Sins

“Forgive us our sins …”

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

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

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

We Forgive Others Who Have Sinned Against Us

“We also forgive those who sin against us.”

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

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

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

We Ask God to Lead Us Away from Temptations

“And do not lead us into temptation …”

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

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

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

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

We Ask God to Protect Us from the Evil One

“And deliver us from the evil one.”

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Should Christians Do Yoga Exercise?

Should Christians Do Yoga Exercise?

The growing popularity of yoga in western culture has raised concerns and stirred some debates as to whether Christians should be practicing it. Is yoga demonic? Is it okay for Christians to stretch their bodies while meditating on God’s Word? What does the Bible say about yoga?

The Origin of Yoga

Yoga originated in ancient India thousands of years ago. The word “yoga” means “to unify, yoke, or join together.” It comes from the ancient Sanskrit root word “yug” which means “to unify.”

While many people in modern times think of yoga as just a physical practice to help them become physically healthier, yoga is deeply spiritual. The goal is to attain wisdom, ultimate knowledge, and freedom by losing one’s sense of self and uniting your soul with the universal consciousness.

Transcendental Meditation

Yoga practice is a form of Transcendental Meditation (TM) popularized by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the late 1960s. It came about as a result of his diagnosis of the human predicament that we who were actually part (or extension) of the infinite Brahman were unaware of the fact due to our ignorance and preoccupation with ordinary things.

To find our union with the Infinite, we needed to transcend the ordinary by the practice of the appropriate meditation. This was the classical pantheistic teaching of the early guru Sankara (A.D. 788-820).

However, Yogi suggested a very practical and down-to-earth way of meditation that needed any sophistication and practically no knowledge of Hinduism or speculative philosophy. In his prayer hall (asham) in northern India, he would assign a monosyllabic word to each of the devotees in the language with which they were comfortable.

Yoga is Transcendental Meditation

Each devotee would have to repeat the assigned word audibly as a chant during all of one’s waking moments. One could change over to a silent mode as long as the preoccupation was with that one word. After a few days, when the conscious mind was preoccupied with the word, the devotee was advised to expel the thought of that word so that the mind would become theoretically blank.

In that moment of blackness, one could suddenly have inward enlightenment that one was an extension of Brahman. It was at this point that one would have transcended the transient to find the inward liberation that is the longing of the human heart.

A moment’s reflection would show that the meditation recommended by Maharishi Yogi involves an emptying of the mind. He argued that the clutter in our human minds came in the way of true knowledge of the Infinite.

The Teaching Behind Yoga

The term yoga is comprehensively and somewhat interchangeably to describe certain physical and mental techniques and exercises that facilitate the realization of the union of the finite with the infinite. Note that union is not achieved – it need not be because it is a reality rather than achieving a union that is not there, to begin with.

To bring about this self-realization, a series of physical and meditation techniques are proposed. These are by no means uniform or similar and in fact can be quite diverse, depending on the particular school of yoga.

The techniques are inaugurated in the form of physical exercises, although in some cases they may involve worship of the sun or the lotus form, the flower being the abode of the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. These worship forms depend on the theological preferences of the Hindu school advocating yoga.

Yoga Advances Into the Western Culture

As previously stated, yoga is a practice in the East but somehow found its way to the West. In order not to offend Western sensibilities, yoga these days is purveyed without any theological overtones but only as a series of physical exercises, and in most cases, these exercises can have beneficial physical effects.

Yoga teachers often encourage their students to meditate – without necessarily telling them what to meditate on or how to do it. They may even tell Christian students to meditate on Jesus Christ! The idea, of course, is that one thinks about and reflects on the subject of meditation which is in itself is of no great concern.

However, as one advances in the yoga course, one is often called on to be increasingly involved in a meditation that entails vacating the mind.

Should Christians Do Yoga Exercise

Why Christians Should Not Do Yoga

Christians who think that yoga practice is nothing more than physical exercises should think twice about doing it as it has a spiritual aspect to it. It’s worth repeating that yoga involves totally emptying the mind during meditation.

This is dangerous because a demonic dimension may arise out of content-less meditation.

In a teaching recorded by Matthew, Jesus seems to be alluding to a situation in which the evil spirit has gone out of a person only to return and find “the house empty, swept, and put in order” (Matthew 12:43-45). This could be the state of a person whose mind is inactive in the passive sense after having been vacated of all other entities.

In earlier times, the idle mind is said to be the “devil’s workshop” because yoga and other forms of transcendental meditation are not anchored on objective truth. There is room not only for error but also for the occult. The devil delights to oppress (and even possess) the empty mind of the unbeliever where there is no seeking after the God of truth.

We will also do well to remember that meditation in this sense is “looking inward” to self rather than “looking outward” to God. It’s because the metaphysical teaching behind this meditation is that we are extensions of the Infinite Reality of Brahman. We are encouraged to look inward to realize this “truth” that we are part of the Infinite.

Let’s not forget that the sin of the “morning star” was that he would “make himself like the Most High (Isaiah 14:12-14). This attempt at self-realization as part of the Infinite is the subtlest form of idolatry and thus an inevitable port of entry or the work of the devil.

In contrast, the Triune God of the Christian faith is capable of eternal communication. He is a God who creates by speaking, so much so that the universe can be believed to be real and objective, just as a spoken word is.

This God has created us capable of thinking and speaking. To belittle the faculty of thinking is to despise our created being. However, the response to wrong meditation is not “no” meditation, but the right meditation.

The Bible enjoins us to meditate on God’s Word (Psalm 1:2) and to “think on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, good, and praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8).

Conclusion

Christians in the West tend to play straight into the jaws of the New Age and other Eastern religious philosophies and practices. This is because these religions and practices seem to offer a quick-fix relief to the stress-filled lifestyles of the twenty-first century. Yoga stretching exercises are also very useful to help people stay healthy.

So, should Christians practice yoga? The simple answer is “no.” A Christian cannot do yoga exercises without getting caught up in the spiritual and religious aspects of it. Yoga is more than just physical exercise. Keep in mind that the point of yoga practice is to unite oneself with the Infinite.

The Bible exhorts us to meditate not on nothing by vacating our minds. Rather, we are to meditate on the Word of God, his Law, precepts, and goodness (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:1-3; 119:15, 23, 27, 48, 97).


Reference: Who Made God? And Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith
General Editors: Ravi Zacharias & Norman Geisler

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: Seeing Jesus from the East: A Fresh Look at History’s Most Influential Figure by Ravi Zacharias and Abdu Murray

Encounter Jesus Like Never Before through Eastern Eyes

Seeing Jesus from the East: A Fresh Look at History’s Most Influential Figure by Ravi Zacharias and Abdu MurrayThroughout these pages, Ravi Zacharias and Abdu Murray invite readers to rediscover the cultural insights we often miss when we ignore the Eastern context of the Bible.

They offer a refreshing picture of Jesus, one that appeals to Eastern readers and can penetrate the hearts and imaginations of postmodern Westerners.

In Seeing Jesus from the East, Ravi Zacharias and Abdu Murray show us why a broader view of Jesus is needed – one that recognizes the uniquely Eastern ways of thinking and communicating found in the pages of the Bible.

Zacharias and Murray capture a revitalized gospel message, presenting it through this Eastern lens and revealing its power afresh to Western hearts and minds.

Incorporating story, vivid imagery, and the concepts of honor and shame, sacrifice, and rewards, Seeing Jesus from the East calls believers and skeptics, both Eastern and Western, to a fresh encounter with the living and boundless Jesus.

What is the Significance of Jesus’ Baptism?

What is the Significance of Jesus’ Baptism?

We learn from Scripture that water baptism is an important act of obedience on the part of every believer in Jesus in response to the Lord’s command. However, let me emphasize that baptism does not save as some Christians teach. One does not need to be baptized to be saved. We are saved by grace through faith alone in the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).

In other words, water baptism is not a requirement for salvation and anyone who teaches otherwise is gravely mistaken. We submit for water baptism for several reasons that include us publicly declaring our faith in the Lord Jesus and to identify with His death, burial, and resurrection.

But why did the Lord Jesus have to undergo water baptism before beginning His earthly ministry? What is the significance of this act on His part?

The Baptism of Jesus

The baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist was one of the highlights of the beginning of our Lord’s earthly ministry. Although gospel authors Matthew, Mark, and Luke record Jesus’ baptism, Matthew gives us a more detailed description by first introducing John the Baptist as the one prophesied by Isaiah as the forerunner of the Messiah.

Matthew 3:13-17

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”

Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

The Baptism of Jesus Matthew 3:16-17 (NKJV)

Here is the story of Jesus coming to John to be baptized by him, and after getting a little resistance from the “baptizer,” Jesus is baptized. Immediately after getting up out of the water, we then have the descent of the Holy Spirit from heaven on Jesus and a voice from heaven confirming the person and work of Jesus.

The Necessity of Jesus’ Baptism

John’s response to Jesus’ coming to him for baptism seems to indicate that John did not only know something about Jesus, but he also knew that baptism did not apply to Him (Matthew 3:14).

John had been preaching baptism unto repentance (Matthew 3:11). As the people listened and were convicted of their sins, they repented and were baptized as a witness to and sign of their inner purification.

But when Jesus came to John, he tried to stop him from being baptized because, at that moment, John was looking into the face of the Messiah – the “Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) and “the man whose sandals he is unworthy to carry” (Matthew 3:11).

In response, Jesus said, “it was fitting for them in order to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Notice that the Lord used the word “us” – “it is fitting for us.” It was something that both the Sinless one (Jesus) and the sinner (John) had to do to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus was not acting alone; He was acting with John to fulfill God’s plan.

Lord's Guidance Christian Jewelry and Apparel

Jesus’ Baptism Confirmed John’s Ministry

John grew up to be a very special man. But who would have thought that God would use a “wilderness man” to Christ’s forerunner? He was very different from the other people who lived in his time. John was a Nazarite from birth who was filled by the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15).

He chose to live in the desert, wore camel’s hair, and ate locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:3-4). He was very different. After all, who else was preaching in the wilderness? Most people preached in the temple where all the people were. But John was preaching out in the desert.

Perhaps, one could say that John’s mission was to introduce Jesus as God’s promised Messiah. John the Baptist was specially chosen by God. In describing John’s appearance, Matthew links him with Elijah (Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:3). Why Elijah? Why not Jeremiah, Ezekiel, or the other prophets? It’s because Malachi prophesied that like John, Elijah was a kind of “wilderness man,” a man who lived on the run (Malachi 3:1; 4:5).

John the Baptist

When John the Baptist was first introduced in Matthew’s gospel, his message was an announcement that the kingdom of God was at hand (Matthew 3:2). He was warning the Jewish leaders including the most zealous religious group, the Pharisees, that the King was soon to appear and will bring judgment.

Although John was careful to distinguish his ministry from that of the coming Messiah (Matthew 3:3, 11-12), his preaching was not only the warning of impending judgment; more importantly, it was a call to action. His message was intended to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah, and for the message of salvation, that would be proclaimed after the suffering, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord.

Through John’s ministry, Jesus was introduced by God as the promised and long-awaited Messiah. By asking John to baptize Him, Jesus showed approval of his baptism, confirmed his ministry, and bore witness to it that it was indeed from heaven approved by God.

John played a vital role in the commencement of Jesus’ earthly ministry as he called upon men to prepare for His coming.

Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant

John initially refused to baptize Jesus but Jesus knew that it was His Father’s will for Him to undergo water baptism. Jesus was baptized not because he was a repentant sinner; His baptism identified Himself with tax collectors and sinners, the very people He came to save.

The word “righteousness” as used in the gospel of Matthew draws its meaning from the Old Testament. A full study of righteousness will lead to a meaning for the word as that which “conforms to the standard” which would mean doing the will of God.

To say that Jesus had to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness does not mean Jesus had been unrighteous. It simply means that He is committing Himself to do God’s will for Him, which is to conform to the standard which is the will of God.

The Suffering Servant Isaiah 53

God’s will for Christ was laid out centuries before He came in the book of Isaiah 53. The prophet Isaiah announced that the Suffering Servant was to be “numbered with the transgressors, would bear the sin of many, and make intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).

Through His baptism, Jesus began to be identified with sinners. Isaiah further described the Messiah as “God’s righteous Servant who shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11). The Father’s statement in Matthew 3:17 saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” also relates Jesus Christ to the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53:10).

Well, it’s not that the Father took delight in His Son’s pain but the suffering and death of the Messiah were in fulfillment of God’s plan to make salvation available to everyone who believes (John 3:16). Jesus began to fulfill His work as the Suffering Servant at His baptism where He would identify with sinners, take their sins upon Himself, and justify them through His suffering and death.

Jesus’ water baptism was a picture of His future baptism on the cross. He was rejected and made to suffer and die but He is also seen to come forth in victory.

Conclusion

The baptism of Jesus Christ is not to be identified as one of repentance or as one similar to Christian baptism. Jesus’ baptism was unique, an initiatory right, setting Him apart to His role as a Prophet, Priest, and King, and anticipating His suffering and death on the cross.

No other, before or after, can share this baptism.


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Daily Life Lessons From Proverbs 6

Daily Life Lessons From Proverbs 6

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

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

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

Proverbs 6 Lessons for Daily Life

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

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

Learning from the Ant

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

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

Bruce Waltke's Quote About Laziness

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

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

The Future of a Wicked Man

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

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

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

Seven Things the Lord Hates

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

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

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

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

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

Warning Against Adultery

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

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

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


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The Dangers of Committing Adultery

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

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

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

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

Adultery is Stealing

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

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

When adultery enters a marriage, everybody loses.

The Foolishness of Adultery

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

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

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

Indulging in sexual sin is always a losing proposition.

Closing Words

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

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


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