Category: Christian Living

5 Hindrances to Answered Prayers

5 Hindrances to Answered Prayers

People often ask, “Does God answer all of our prayers?” Many times Christians complain that God did not answer their prayer. They prayed for a particular thing but did not receive what they had asked for. Does this mean that God does not always answer our prayers? What should we conclude when our prayers go unanswered?

God Always Answers Our Prayers

While there are complaints about certain prayers that are left unanswered, such is not the case. The Bible promises that God hears the prayers of those who believe in Him and answers all of them. His answer consists of one of three things; yes, no, or wait.

When God Says YES

Many times God will say “yes” and gives us what we asked for. Let’s take King Hezekiah’s example in 2 Kings 20:1-6. Hezekiah was very ill and at the point of death when God sent Isaiah to inform him of his impending death. He was told to put his house in order because he was going to die and not recover.

Immediately, Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord while weeping bitterly. But before Isaiah could leave the King’s palace, God answered Hezekiah’s prayer and sent the prophet to tell him that He has added 15 years to his life.

Hindrances to an Answered Prayer

When God Says NO

However, there are times when God will say “no” and will not grant our prayer request. In other words, not everything we ask for in prayer will be given. Nevertheless, we need to remember that when God says no to our prayers, He does it for our good. After all, God always has our best interest at heart.

The apostle Paul asked the Lord three times to remove a particular problem that he had – a thorn in the flesh. And each time God answered, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). In this case, Paul’s prayer was indeed answered but the answer was “No.”

With the answer of no, God promised Paul that His grace would be sufficient to help him cope with his problem.

When God Says WAIT

There is also the possibility that God will not give us an immediate yes or no answer and tells us to “wait.” However, a delayed answer is not necessarily a “No” answer. We find this in the example of Hannah, Samuel’s mother.

For many years, Hannah prayed to the Lord for a child but did not receive what she asked for (1 Samuel 1:1-8). Finally, in the bitterness of her soul, she wept and prayed in anguish for the Lord to give her a son (1 Samuel 1:9-11). Her prayer was immediately answered and she conceived a son (1 Samuel 1:19-20).

God did not grant Hannah’s request the first time she asked. She waited for years before her son was born. What can we learn from Hannah? God will answer our prayers in His timing, not ours.

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Hindrances to Answered Prayers

Why do so many prayers seem to go unanswered? In other words, why does God say no to our requests? The Bible gives us several reasons as to why this is so.

1. Sin

Psalm 66:18 indicates that sin can hinder our prayers from being answered in the affirmative. We read something similar in Isaiah 59:1-2. This truth is illustrated in John 9:31-32. The blind man healed by Jesus said instructively said that God hears those who worship Him and do His will. However, He will not listen to those who are in sin.

Does this mean we have to be completely free from sin before approaching God in prayer? Of course not! Otherwise, none of us would have our prayers answered. Each of us has certain sinful areas that we must deal with. But we can have the confidence to approach God through Christ, not our own merit.

2. Lack of Faith or Unbelief

A lack of faith can keep our prayers from being answered.

James, the Lord’s brother, wrote about the importance of exercising faith. He said, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-8).

When we pray, we need to do it in faith. We need to believe and do not doubt that the Lord will answer our requests. God has promised to do so and He always keeps His promises.

"Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”

3. Unforgiveness

Unable to forgive those who might have wronged us can hinder our prayers. Jesus stressed the importance of forgiving others in Mark 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”

Harboring unforgiveness in our heart can affect our daily relationship with God, which in turn will affect our prayer life. The verse above clearly states that we need to forgive others for what they have done to us so that our heavenly Father may also forgive our sins.

Furthermore, Paul wrote that we need to forgive others just as God in Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4:32). As much as we are able, we need to forgive those who have wronged us.

4. Disobedience

God will answer our prayers if we remain in an obedient relationship with Him. Jesus said to His disciples, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7).

To remain in Christ and stay joined to Him is to keep His commandments. John wrote of this in 1 John 3:21-22.

“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”

This just goes to say that disobeying God’s commands can keep our prayers from being answered. We must keep in mind that obedience to the Lord is the key.

5. Not in Accordance with God’s Will

Often times, we get a “no” in answer to our prayers because they are not in accordance with the will of God. John emphasized the necessity of praying according to God’s will rather than our own in 1 John 5:14.

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”

We should not insist that our desires must always be met because most of the time our desires are wrongly motivated. Our desires must match up with God’s desires.

Closing Words

God does hear and answer all our prayers. But that does not necessarily mean He always says “yes.” There will be times when God answers us with a “no” and when that happens, we consider it an unanswered prayer.

The Bible mentions at least 5 hindrances to answered prayers; sin, unforgiveness, lack of faith, disobedience, and asking something that does not line up with God’s will or desire.

Several other reasons why God does not answer our prayers include marital problems (1 Peter 3:7), asking with the wrong motives (James 4:3), and spiritual warfare (Daniel 10:12-14; Ephesians 6:12).

Had there been times when you asked God for something and He said no? What do you think was the reason behind it?

Please feel free to share your testimony in the comment section below.


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How Christians Can Defeat Satan

How Christians Can Defeat Satan

The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ has already defeated Satan through His suffering, death, and resurrection. Clearly, the victory is His. Those of us who have believed in Christ are also victorious. We win because He has won.

While the ultimate victory has been won, we still have to fight spiritual battles as long as we are still upon the earth. Thus, we must desire to achieve victories over the devil. But how can we have victory over the enemy? How can Christians Defeat Satan?

How to Have Victory Over the Devil

The Bible gives us several ways in which we can defeat our enemy, Satan.

1. Know and Understand the Enemy.

To defeat Satan, first, we need to know who he is. This means having a biblical understanding of who he is, what he can do, his limitations, and the various ways in which he works while he is still active. This only comes from a study of Scripture.

If we are going to win our spiritual battles against the devil, we cannot afford to be ignorant of his schemes and tactics, otherwise, Satan will take advantage of us (2 Corinthians 2:11).

How Christians Defeat the Enemy

The Word of God tells us several ways by which the enemy works. Believers must, therefore, be able to spiritually discern what comes from the Lord and what comes from the devil. We do this by testing every spirit (1 John 4:1-3). This means that we do not blindly believe everyone who claims to speak in the name of the Lord.

Unfortunately, there will always be false prophets and counterfeit believers in the world (Matthew 7:15, 24:11; 2 Peter 2:1-2).

2. Always be on Guard.

Christians must actively be on guard against Satan and his attacks. The Word warns us to be watchful and ready at all times because our enemy is actively seeking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). And when Satan does attack us, we must resist (1 Peter 5:9).

To “resist” means to “withstand” or “stand our ground.” By doing so, we can overcome Satan. Indeed, we should never give in to Satan’s temptations.

3. Know Your Weaknesses.

It is also extremely important that we know our weaknesses. Each of us has an area in our life in which we are vulnerable and we should not pretend we do not. Satan knows these areas and so, we should be especially alert from attacks in the areas where we are the weakest.

The Bible commands us not to give any opportunity for the devil to work. Paul wrote: “And do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:27 NIV).

It is important to know the areas in which we are personally weak, admit these weaknesses, and protect ourselves in these particular areas the best way in which we can.

4. Avoid the Situation.

Knowing our weaknesses, we do not want to put ourselves in a position where we can easily fail. As much as possible, we should avoid any situation that can cause us to sin. For one thing, we must always remember that we do not have to sin. Sin is a choice that we make. However, we can flee from sin by staying away from the source of the temptation.

Paul exhorts all believers to stay away from every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). By separating ourselves from a particular sin or any situation that may lead us to sin, a temporary victory can be won.

Yes, all victories are only temporary because temptation will always come as long as we are in these sinful bodies.

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5. Realize that You cannot Do it on Your Own.

Ultimately, we do not and we cannot fight the battle in our own strength. We learn a valuable lesson from Michael the archangel in his dealing with Satan. Jude 9 says, “Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’”

From Michael’s example, we learn that we should not personally defy Satan. Knowing his power, we should neither underestimate nor overestimate him. We must realize that we can only resist and ultimately defeat the devil not on our own strength but by the Spirit of the Lord (Zechariah 4:6).

6. Put On the Full Armor of God.

The Bible speaks of the spiritual weapons of warfare that we possess and we need to use them (Ephesians 6:13-17): the belt of truth, which is the truth of the Word of God, the breastplate of righteousness which enables us to always do the right thing, shoes to spread the good news, the shield of faith to thwart the devil’s attacks, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

These weapons are there for us to win the battle. Victories are achievable when these weapons are employed.

7. Maintain Communication with God.

We are also told to constantly connect with God. Paul said this in his letter to the Ephesians about the necessity of prayer:

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).

Talking to God regularly and constantly is something believers need to do to advance spiritually.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we are commanded to pray unceasingly. It is a must for believers to maintain communication with God as this will help stop the progress of the devil.

8. Realize that You are Part of God’s Family.

The Bible speaks of two families of humanity. There are those who are the children of God (John 1:12), and those who are the children of the devil (John 8:44). Each human being belongs to one of these two families. There is no third group.

Those who are in the family of God have their lives molded after Him. Those who belong to the devil act like their spiritual father. Believers ought to realize which family they are a part of and they should act accordingly.

How Believers can have Victory over the Devil

Believers belong to God’s family. This means that we are to act differently than unbelievers in many situations. We should never compromise our beliefs or behavior.

As God’s children, we are under His care. Satan cannot defeat us because God is always watching out for us. What a comforting truth.

9. Rest in God’s Promises

Finally, we need to rest in the promises of God. Satan has been overcome and the victory is ours (1 Corinthians 15:57). There are no insurmountable problems for believers that the Lord cannot solve.

Conclusion

While we are living in this world-system and battling the attacks of the devil, it is possible to achieve temporary victory over him. But these victories can come only through faith in Jesus Christ.

While victory is always possible, occasional defeat will occur if we fail to do our part. These defeats can hinder our testimony as well as our spiritual growth. Therefore, we need to take these nine necessary steps to defeat Satan and be victorious.


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Finding Strength by Waiting on the Lord

Finding Strength by Waiting on the Lord

Do you often feel like you’re losing the game of life? That no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to keep up? No matter how strong and healthy we think we are, physically and spiritually, that is, there comes a time when we start to grow weary and lose all the energy needed to keep us going.

The great news is, God promised to renew our strength; we will find new strength by trusting in God and waiting patiently on Him.

Bible Verse: Isaiah 40:29-31

“He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

God Does Not Grow Weary

Going back to Isaiah 40:28, it says, “The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.”

In the ancient world, the gods were viewed as having human weaknesses and often were inattentive or simply unaware of events that were taking place. One result of this was that the pantheon of gods were constantly outwitting or tricking each other. The gods were not indefatigable. They were in constant need of food, drink, and shelter.

In contrast, Yahweh God never grows weak or weary. And Isaiah thought the Jewish people needed to hear what they already know. They needed to hear about the everlasting Creator of all the earth who never grows weak or weary.

If we believe these truths about God, we should live as if God has already taken care of all our needs, present and future.

Finding Strength by Waiting on the Lord

The Greatness of God

As the Jewish remnants returned to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple, they knew they had a rough road ahead of them. They were few in number and the victories of Assyria, Babylon, and Persia made it look as though the false gods of the Gentiles were stronger that the God of Israel. Thus, they became faint-hearted

But Isaiah reminded the people of the greatness of Yahweh (Isaiah 40:12-20). God is greater than anything on earth. Creation shows His wisdom, power, and immensity. He is greater than the nations and their gods.

God founded the earth and sits on the throne of heaven, and nothing is equal to Him, let alone greater than Him. So, the next time you are tempted to think that the world is bigger than God, remember that the nations are “as a drop in a bucket” (Isaiah 40:15) and “the inhabitants are like grasshoppers” (Isaiah 40:22).

God is greater than anything in heaven. And if you ever feel so small that you wonder if God really cares about you personally, remember that He knows the name of every star (Isaiah 40:26) and your name as well (John 10:3, 27). The same God who numbers and names the stars can heal your broken heart (Psalm 147:3-4).

God Sees Your Every Situation

God is all-powerful and is greater than the circumstances within us. The nation of Israel knew this very well because they have seen and heard what God has done for their ancestors. But instead of trusting God to work on their behalf, they complained and acted as though God did not know their situation or have any concern for their problems (Isaiah 40:27).

Instead of seeing the open door, the Jews saw only the long road before them, and they complained that they did not have strength for the journey and that God was asking them to do the impossible.

Admittedly, there are times when we are like the nation of Israel. Although we know of God’s promise to strengthen us when we are weak and that He will help us get us through every rough situation, we complain and accuse Him of not caring about us.

Finding Strength by Waiting on the Lord

God Promises to Renew Our Strength

God knows how we feel and He sees our fears. And rest assured that He is adequate to meet our every need. We are not able to do things on our own but we can always trust God to provide the strength we need (Philippians 4:13).

If we rely on ourselves, we will faint and fail, but if we wait on the Lord by faith, we will receive strength for the journey. Waiting on the Lord means to look to God for all that we need (Isaiah 26:3; 20:15). This involves meditating on His character and His promises, praying, and seeking to glorify Him.

To “renew our strength” means to “exchange,” as taking off old clothing and putting on something new. We exchange our weakness for God’s power (2 Corinthians 12:1-10). As we trust God, He enables us to soar during a crisis, to run when the challenges are many, and to walk faithfully, in the routine day-to-day demands of life.

Walking in the ordinary pressures of life can be much more difficult than flying like an eagle in a time of crisis.

Bottom Line

God renews our strength. As people, we get tired; we become weary. But God enables us to do what we need to do. That does not mean we will never need rest or sleep. It means when we rely on God’s strength, He will enable us.

The word “wait” means to have faith. There will be times when it seems like we’re waiting for nothing. But we must understand that God does everything according to His will. When we trust God to direct our steps, He will see us through to victory.

Sometimes we think that God should do things for us the way we want Him to, but that is not how God works. We need to trust in God’s timing and wait patiently on Him. As one quote says, “Prayer is powerful. But always remember that God works according to His timetable, not yours. Be patient.”

Faith and patience always go hand-in-hand. We don’t always know when God will answer our utmost prayers and give us the desires of our hearts. But when we trust in Him, He will bring it to pass in His own perfect time.


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Publisher’s Description

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Riches and Honor are Meaningless

Riches and Honor are Meaningless

If I were to ask a thousand (or even a million) poor people to choose between becoming rich or remaining poor, there is no doubt that every single one of them will choose to get out of poverty. After all, who does not want to have a comfortable life and be able to give their family a promising future? Isn’t that the very reason why people are working so hard?

Some people even resort to wicked schemes and tactics just to get ahead of the game. We see a lot of politicians today who use their power and authority for their own personal gain. Others take advantage of the less fortunate to enrich themselves.

Dissatisfaction in Wealth

It’s human nature to want all the riches, fame, and power the world has to offer. And the more money one accumulates the more eager he is to gain much more. This truth is expressed by King Solomon when he said, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 5:10 NIV).

“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 5:10 NIV).

King Solomon is not only known to be the wisest man who has ever lived (1 Kings 4:30); he was also one of the richest. King Solomon ruled the nation of Israel from 970 BC to 931 BC and is said to have had a peak net worth of $2 trillion. As a result, he became famous and well-respected during his lifetime.

Yet, in most of his writings, he often talked about how earthly riches and honor are meaningless.

The Futility of Riches and Honor

Sadly, some people treat money as though it were a god. They love it, make sacrifices for it, and think that it can do anything. Their minds are filled with thoughts about money; their lives are controlled by getting it and guarding it.

But the person who loves money can never be satisfied no matter how much is in his bank account. Now, why is that? Why is it that most people who have all the riches in the world are still miserable? We hear of wealthy people falling into a state of depression, getting hooked on drugs, and end up taking their own lives.

Why do some people feel dissatisfied with their life despite having all riches in the world? This is because the human heart was made to be satisfied only by God (Psalm 107:9; John 6:35).


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Isn’t it interesting that people only realize the vanity of wealth and materialism when they see a very wealthy man dies and is unable to bring any of his possessions with him to his grave? This stresses once again what King Solomon said:

“As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came, and he shall take nothing from his labor which he may carry away in his hand. And this also is a severe evil – just exactly as he came, so shall he go. And what profit has he who has labored for the wind” (Ecclesiastes 5:15-16)?

The apostle Paul echoed the same thing in his letter to Timothy to encourage him that true riches are not found in the abundance of our possessions. Rather, true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us into this world when we came and we can’t take anything with us when we depart (1 Timothy 6:6-7).

Warning Against the Love of Money

You might have heard some people say that money is the root of all evil. That’s not quite true. The Bible says it’s “the love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). It’s about wanting more material things to be happy and feel successful.

But riches are a trap that may lead to bondage instead of freedom. Instead of giving satisfaction, riches create additional lusts and desires which must be satisfied. In the end, riches appear to produce hurt and wounds instead of help and health.

The Futility of Riches and Honor

By the way, keep in mind that Solomon was neither advocating poverty nor riches because apparently, both have their problems. (See Proverbs 30:7-9.) He was warning against the love of money and the delusions that wealth can bring.

In the closing verse of Ecclesiastes chapter 5, Solomon affirmed again the importance of accepting our heritage in life and enjoying the blessings that God bestows on us. What is “good” is to labor faithfully, enjoy life, and accept everything as the gracious gift of God (Ecclesiastes 5:18).

The Ability to Enjoy Life is God’s Blessing

Another important thought that Solomon said is this: “The ability to enjoy the wealth and blessings given by God is a gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 5:19). But he was quick to point out the basic principle that nobody can truly enjoy the gifts of God apart from the giver Himself – God.

To enjoy the gifts without the Giver is idolatry and this can never satisfy the human heart. Enjoyment without God is merely entertainment, and it doesn’t satisfy. But enjoyment with God is enrichment, and it brings true joy and satisfaction.

Solomon went on to expand on this thought in the next chapter (Ecclesiastes 6:1-9) and pointed out the unhappiness of people who possess wealth but are not able to enjoy it.

Final Thoughts

In saying that earthly riches and honor are meaningless, Solomon is not telling us that we should not dream big or have a burning desire to accomplish great things in life, or aspire to be successful. But we must make sure our ambition is motivated by the glory of God and not the praise or accolade from people. We must want to improve our economic status or achieve something great so that we can serve God and others and not for the sole purpose of promoting ourselves.

If we think our earthly wealth and achievements will automatically bring self-satisfaction, we are dead wrong! True satisfaction comes only when we use whatever God has blessed us with to do His will from the heart (Ephesians 6:6).

At the end of the day, everything on earth, including our life, is temporary. This is why John warned us about not loving the world (1 John 2:15-17):

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”


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Running the Race to the Finish

Running the Race to the Finish

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

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

The Cloud of Witnesses

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

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

Run the Race of Faith to the Finish

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

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

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

How to Run the Race to Win

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

1. Throw Off Everything that Hinders

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Avoid the Sin that Easily Ensnares Us

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

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

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3. Live a Life of Discipline

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

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

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

4. Run the Race with Endurance

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

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

5. Run the Race Marked Out for Us

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

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

Let Us Run the Race Marked Out For Us

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus Endured the Cross for Our Sake

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

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

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

How to Run the Race of Faith

From Crucifixion to Glorification

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

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

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

Closing Words

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Give to God All Glory

Give to God All Glory

That God alone deserves all glory is something God’s children know and believe by heart. That is because the Scriptures clearly say so. Thus, each one of us must give to God all glory.

Bible Verse: Psalm 115:1 (NKJV)

“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us. But to Your name give glory. Because of Your mercy and because of Your truth.”

All Glory Belongs to God

In Psalm 115:1, the psalmist reminds us that we are to give God the glory. What does he mean? The word glory takes on a variety of meanings, such as honor, praise, admiration, or credit.

So, to give God the glory is to praise, honor, admire or give Him the credit. We do this because God is God. The God of the Bible – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the Lord Almighty.

We are to give God glory not only for the blessings He has given us and continues to give us but more so because He is the One true living God who created the heavens and the earth, not just some lifeless idol (Psalm 115:2-8). God created the earth for us to enjoy (Psalm 115:16).

The Glory of God’s Presence

At other times, the word glory also refers to the presence of the Lord, as when Moses and Aaron said to the Israelites that “in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord” (Exodus 16:7).

Of course, the Israelites would not see God’s glory as in His enthroned radiance, for no man can see God and live (Exodus 33:20). What they would see is God in His great loving provision for His people. God showed them His glory through His great mercy and goodness.

In Psalm 19:1, David wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God,” and begged to see God’s glory. As David looked to the heavens, he saw the vivid display of God’s glory through the firmament – the blue sky and the night sky.

Give to God All Glory

When King Solomon dedicated the temple, God’s glory came in the form of a cloud and filled the house (2 Chronicles 5:13-14). This was the cloud of glory often seen in the Old and the New Testaments, which is sometimes called the cloud of Shekinah glory – the radiant outshining of God’s character and presence.

When the angel announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, the glory of the Lord shone around them (Luke 2:9). When God sent the angel of the Lord to preach the Gospel to the shepherds, He showed them His glory in the form of a radiant light that interrupted the quiet dark night.

The Lord’s Prayer ends with “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever” (Matthew 6:13). This tells us that the right kind of prayer praises God and credits to Him all the power and glory.

The Glory of God in Christians

Ever since the Holy Spirit fell upon those first believers in the Upper Room, God’s glory has been manifested through Christians. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

However, our capacity to reflect God’s glory is based upon the degree of our submission to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. We are to serve the Lord with gladness and let people see His mercy and His love by the way we live, work, and worship – not for our glory but for His.

As Jesus said in John 15:8, “By this, My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” Furthermore, Peter said believers who never saw Jesus rejoice with “joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).

1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)

The Glory of God to Come

We know that Jesus sits at the right hand of God and will soon come back “in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27). What a joy to know that one day we will walk in the Lord’s presence and see the glory for ourselves.

“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works” (Matthew 16:27).

Once the New Jerusalem is built there will be no need for the sun to illuminate those who live there, because the Son Himself, in His great glory, will be the light.

What glory that will be!


Important Note: The main bulk of this devotional article was taken from the NKJV Prophecy Study Bible, (General Editor: John Hagee) under the section “Diamonds for Daily Living.”

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 Michael Heilman’s 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, disciple of Jesus Christ, Michael Heilman, honestly writes to the issues facing the church and how to live the victorious Christian life.

Michael expounds on biblical principles God has applied to his life and led to God’s blessing in many areas of his life.

With illustrations, humor, and most importantly Scripture, he explains to any born again believer who is spiritually wandering through life, how to be spiritually blessed by God as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

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

  • Why God must be the key focus of your life.
  • How to love God
  • How to love others.
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  • 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.

 

Psalm 23: The Shepherd’s Song

Psalm 23: The Shepherd’s Song

Many Christians are familiar with Psalm 23, also known as the “Shepherd’s Song.” It is often used by preachers and ministers to encourage and comfort people who are going through difficult and trying times.

We live in a society where most people are engulfed with fear and anxiety for what the future holds for them. But how should we as Christians respond to the anxiety in our lives?

David showed us by example how exactly we are supposed to respond in a constructive, God-honoring way.

God is the Shepherd

We know from reading David’s life story that he spent his younger years leading sheep to greener pastures and keeping them safe from danger. For David, using the shepherd, as an illustration, was perfectly natural.

“The Lord is my shepherd” (Psalm 23:1) was David’s way of saying, “the Lord provides for me and protects me from harm.” In writing “The LORD is,” David was referring to the God who was, the God who is, and the God who will always be.

As we face life’s difficulties, we need to know that “God is.” When cancer comes, He is Jehovah Rapha, the healer. When worry consumes us, He is Jehovah Shalom, the peacemaker. When Satan attacks us with false accusations, He is Jehovah Nissi, the spiritual warrior.

The Shepherd Walks with the Sheep

Unlike the Philistine gods of wood, stone, or brass, David describes God as a personal savior in calling him “my shepherd.” And unlike cold, lifeless objects, the Shepherd walks the field with His sheep, taking care of their needs.

Whatever the circumstances, David had learned to want for nothing (Psalm 23:1). When the lion roared against David, God protected him. When the bear came to devour David, god shielded him (1 Samuel 17:34-36). When Goliath laughed at young David and his stones, God gave him power (1 Samuel 17:48-51).

Our Lord calls believers “My sheep” because He died for them (John 10:11), and because the Father gave them to Him (John 17:10, 12). The emphasis is that Jesus is adequate for every need the sheep may have as they are in the pasture.

Whatever trials we face, God helps us find rest and refreshment, leading us to “green pastures” and “still waters” (Psalm 23:2). When we go astray, God pulls us back into the flock, giving us another chance at a relationship with Him (Psalm 23:3). There is nothing we can do that is too bad for God to forgive (see 1 John 1:9).

Psalm 23 The Shepherd's Song

The Shepherd Protects

David had no fear as he walked “through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4) for he knew that God would be with him and protects him.

“Anoint my head with oil” (Psalm 23:5) could refer to the anointing of David, but it probably refers to the oil shepherds used to put on the cuts that sheep would get from the rock and brambles in the fields. The oil kept out parasites and infection.

When we find ourselves cut and bruised, we can let Jesus pour His anointing oil on us to protect us.

If you are going through some difficult circumstances with your finances, at work or you’re dealing with the untimely death of a family member, you should know that God has not abandoned you. Our Lord, the Good Shepherd may have allowed this to accomplish His greater purpose in your life.

The Shepherd is Eternal

David was confident that God’s goodness and mercy would “follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6). Jesus also used the shepherd analogy when He said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

Despite his sins and failures, David had been followed by the Lord’s goodness and mercy, which is the Old Testament equivalent of Romans 8:28.

We need to ask ourselves, “Do I know the Good Shepherd and am I known by Him” (see John 10:14-15)? We can have the confidence that David had, knowing that we will spend eternity in heaven living in the green pastures with the Good Shepherd taking care of our every need.

Closing Thoughts

God is a faithful Shepherd who provides all our needs, guides us into a righteous life for His own sake, protects us not by shielding us from trials and difficulties, and allows in our lives only what is beneficial to us according to His purpose.

We just need to trust Him completely and when we do, we can sing the shepherd’s song joyfully as we wait for that day when we shall meet our Shepherd face to face and be with Him for all eternity.


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 Lord Is My Shepherd: Resting in the Peace and Power of Psalm 23 by Robert J. Morgan

Rob Morgan, the bestselling author of Then My Soul Sings, explores the rich meaning behind the world’s best-known and most-loved poem—Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters…

The Lord Is My Shepherd: Resting in the Peace and Power of Psalm 23 by Rob Morgan These are the opening lines to one of the most memorized, inspirational, and comforting passages in the Bible—and one of the greatest poems of all time. In six verses, it provides a microcosm of God’s grace.

When anxiety robs us of sleep, our most powerful “tranquilizer” is Psalm 23. It’s a soul-soother. It appears in the middle of a trilogy of psalms dealing with our past, our present, and our future needs.

In “The Lord is My Shepherd,” Morgan teaches Psalm 23 verse-by-verse, explaining its extraordinary power to change lives and ease our troubles. He shares its fascinating context and colorful background, as well as his own charming, real-life stories of herding sheep.

You’ll find encouragement to enjoy the “green pastures” of life while becoming strengthened by the “dark valleys.” Furthermore, Morgan maintains that some of the Bible’s richest truths are summarized in these six simple verses of Psalm 23.

In knowing the Good Shepherd, we have total resources for all our internal, external, and eternal needs.

Through this clear explanation of the biblical text and great stories that illustrate the love and care of the shepherd, The Lord is My Shepherd will help you rediscover the joy, inspiration, and peace in the green pastures of this beloved psalm.

A Letter from Jeremiah to the Exiles

A Letter from Jeremiah to the Exiles

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

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

A Letter of Instruction and Encouragement

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

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

Hope in the Lord

Those With No Hope

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

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

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

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

Application to the Christian

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

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

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Those With False Hopes

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

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

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

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

Application to the Christian

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

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

Those Who Have True Hope

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

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

For I know the plans I have for you

Application to the Christian

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

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

Closing Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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


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: Hope in the Hard Places: How to Survive When Your World Feels Out of Control by Sarah Beckman

Hope in the Hard Places: How to Survive When Your World Feels Out of Control by Sarah BeckmanHope in the Hard Places is a practical, encouraging guidebook for the weary soul looking for hope in dark circumstances.

In this life, everyone must face trials. Cancer, chronic illness, loss of a loved one, divorce, depression, prodigal children, caring for aging parents, and other unknown terrains can cause people to feel hopeless and helpless.

For those who feel like they don’t know where to turn, Hope in the Hard Places equips readers to walk through their trial with hope rather than desperation.

Sarah Beckman, a speaker, and author, teaches effective and powerful ways to get through the pain with biblical truths and principles. She also includes insight from others who have experienced all manner of trials.

Packed with practical strategies, checklists, encouragement, wisdom from seasoned travelers, and rock-solid biblical truth, Hope in the Hard Places provides a beacon of hope in the darkness so that readers can walk through the depths of hardship with insight, dignity, and certainty.

What is the Day of Deception?

What is the Day of Deception?

The Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 begins with Jesus’ disciples asking Him three questions. The first was, “When will these things be?” The second, “What will be the sign of Your coming?” The third, “What will be the sign of the end of the age” (Matthew 24:3)?

In response, Jesus said, “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ, and will deceive many’” (Matthew 24:4-5). Jesus then goes on to confirm that deception would be the foremost problem in the terminal generation saying, “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).

The apostle Paul also wrote, “Let no one deceive you by any means, for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition [the Antichrist]” (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

But what is the day of deception that Jesus and Paul were talking about? How does it impact the church?

What is the Day of Deception

Three Parts of Deception

The above-mentioned verses confirm that deception will be the major problem of the last days. And one of the major sources of deception is self-deception. The Bible says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

There are three elements of deception. The first is the fundamental distrust of God and His leadership, authority, and Word. But God’s Word is truth (John 17:17) and He Himself is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

The second element of deception is rebellion. Just like Jonah, you know what to do; you simply won’t do it. The Bible says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

The third element of deception is the rejection of God’s love. All cults are loveless. They are harsh, dominating, mean-spirited, and critical of everyone except their own. But the Bible says, “Love does no harm to a neighbor” (Romans 13:10), and “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8).

Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another” (John 13:34). A church without the love of God is nothing more than a loveless cult.

Deception Appeals to the Flesh

Deception offers that which is desirable in the beginning but destroys in the end. Satan came to Adam and Eve in the Garden and asked, “Do you want to be like God?” It was desirable in the beginning. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit they were driven from the Garden into a world God had just cursed.

When David saw Bathsheba bathing naked on her rooftop, he desired her. A sexual relationship with her was appealing in the beginning, but when he impregnated Bathsheba and conspired to have her husband Uriah killed, God’s judgment came upon him (2 Samuel 12:10).

Why Does God Permit Deception?

Every New Testament church has deception working in it. And Jesus prayed, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15).

God allows deception to drive us to the Word that we may be “approved for God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). When heresies, false doctrine, or cults preach another gospel, those who are approved stand boldly and expose the deception.

 

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Nine Types of Deception

There are nine types of deception in the world.

1. Religious Deception.

Paul teaches, “Therefore let no one judge you in food or drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths” (Colossians 2:16).

Fasting without godliness is an illustration of religious deception. Forbidding people to marry is religious deception. Declaring people holy for keeping man made rules of righteousness is deception (1 Timothy 4:1-5).

2. Doctrinal Deception.

Doctrinal deception occurs when people leave the simple meaning of the Word of God. An illustration of this is those who say, “We do not need water baptism because the thief on the cross wasn’t baptized.”

We say to them, “Get yourself crucified and we’ll excuse you from water baptism. In the meantime, get in the tank!”

3. Ethical Deception.

This is when Christians profess the lordship of Jesus Christ but cheat and lie in their business dealings.

4. Moral Deception.

Secular humanism is the cornerstone of moral deception. It says, “If it feels good, do it!” But Scripture says, “It is written, ‘Man shall not leave by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

You don’t break God’s law; God’s law breaks you!

5. Intellectual Deception.

Intellectual deception is when an individual believes that his opinions, formed by his intellect, are equal or superior to the teachings of the Word of God.

6. Fanatical Deception.

Jesus taught, “The time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service” (John 16:2). The crusades and leaders of the Spanish Inquisition are historical illustrations of fanatical deception.

7. Mystical Deception.

Experiencing dreams, visions, voices, angels, or “a bright light” does not mean you have had a visitation from an angel or Jesus Christ.

Paul says that “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Anything that inspires you to do anything contrary to the Word of God is demonic.

8. Sexual Deception.

Sexual deception is the belief or philosophy that rejects the God-ordained monogamous sexual relationship between a man and his wife as the only acceptable sexual relationship.

9. Spiritual Deception.

When Christians become bored with the discipline of the Word of God and begin practices that are contrary to New Testament orthodoxy, this represents the genesis of spiritual deception.

Closing Words

We get traumatized when thieves steal our money or identity but far more traumatic is when con artists who pose as Christians deceive the unsuspecting because the stakes are so much higher than someone’s life savings. What’s at risk is the eternal destiny of the soul.

To avoid deception of any kind, we need to develop biblical discernment and be vigilant at all times.


Note: This excerpt is taken from the NKJV Prophecy Study Bible’s “Top 20 Questions” edited by John Hagee.

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Recommended Resource: The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy: Over 150 Topics from the World’s Foremost Prophecy Experts 

Edited by Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson

Popular Encyclopedia of Bible ProphecyMore than one-fourth of the Bible was prophetic in nature at the time it was written, and Christ’s second coming is mentioned more than 300 times in Scripture. Clearly, God wants you to anticipate the last days—but Bible prophecy can seem vague and mysterious.

Find the clarity and answers you need in this comprehensive resource filled with thousands of facts about Christ’s return and the end times. Prophecy teachers Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson combine knowledge from an outstanding team of more than 40 experts to bring you…

  • detailed definitions of prophecy-related terms
  • helpful timetables of last-days’ events, including the rapture and the glorious appearing
  • thorough summaries of all the major prophetic viewpoints
  • vital understanding of the key players, such as the Antichrist and the False Prophet

Gain wisdom and insight as you repeatedly reach for this A-to-Z encyclopedia to find biblical answers to your toughest prophecy questions.

Why is the Fear of the Lord the Beginning of Knowledge?

Why is the Fear of the Lord the Beginning of Knowledge?

The fear of the Lord is a topic mentioned frequently in Scripture, especially in the book of Proverbs where it appears eighteen times. King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

But what is the fear of the Lord and why is it the beginning of knowledge? Fearing God seems to be a strange way of knowing God, don’t you think? How exactly can we know God by fearing Him?

When talking about the “fear of the Lord,” it does not necessarily mean we are to be afraid of Him and so we should stay out of His way. Some people seem to suggest that God is an angry monster who would strike anyone who does anything offensive to Him.

But that is not who God is. Didn’t God sacrifice His only begotten Son for the salvation of the world and He did it out of His great love (John 3:16)?

What Is The Fear Of The Lord?

The fear of the Lord is not the slavish fear of a criminal before a judge but the loving and reverential fear of a child for his or her parents. It is that affectionate reverence by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his Father’s law (Bridges).

It is also the ultimate expression of reverential submission to the Lord’s will and thus characterizes a true worshiper (Ross).

More importantly, it is our fear of the Lord that will enable us to know God. If we want to understand God’s works and God’s Word, we must maintain this reverential fear of the Lord, for this attitude is the basis for receiving spiritual wisdom and understanding.

Knowing God by Fearing Him

It All Starts With Fear

The starting point of our relationship with God is fear because when we fear Him, we accept His majesty, which eventually becomes the basis from which we can build and grow spiritually.

In Psalm 76:1-12, Asaph uses the word fear three times as he gives a brief history of God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt. The Israelites had seen God’s power and might when He covered the pharaoh’s chariots with the Red Sea and they feared Him (Psalm 76:6-7).

When God sent His judgment to Moses (Psalm 76:8a), the Israelites had been sanctified and prepared to meet God at the foot of Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:9). Although the people were not allowed to climb the mountain, they were allowed to listen and watch when Moses received the Ten Commandments.

But when they saw the “thundering, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking” (Exodus 20:18), they told Moses they were afraid. In response, Moses said to the people, “Do not fear for God has come to test you and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin (Exodus 20:20).

God’s Might Is Fearful

Next, the psalmist refers to Jehoshaphat’s reign when “The earth feared and was still” (Psalm 76:8). Israel’s enemies feared the power of God, and because of this, there was peace in the land for twenty-five years (2 Chronicles 20:29).

When people lose their fear of God, bad things happen. God’s judgment is swift and certain. When Assyria lost its fear of God, God killed 185,000 of them (2 Kings 19:35). When the church lost its fear of God in the New Testament, He killed Ananias and Saphira (Acts 5:1-11).

Again, this is not to say that God is always looking for people who exhibit no fear of Him just so He gets a chance to bring His judgment upon them. The emphasis here is that when God’s people fear Him, they would not sin and will desire to live under God’s will.

Looking at what is going on today in America, a nation whose constitution was founded on the Word of God is heart-breaking. You see people spreading terror and fear in major cities, crime rates increasing, and all kinds of lawlessness. What happened to this great nation that God has blessed tremendously for many years?

The people have not only lost the fear of God but they also have removed God from their schools, government institutions, and pretty much every section of society. They no longer acknowledge God as the law-giver, the giver of life, and the source of every blessing, victory, and peace.

But it’s not yet too late. Didn’t God say that if His people whom He has called will humble themselves, and pray and seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways, then He will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14)?

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Bringing Our Offerings To God

The third reference to fear says that we should “bring presents to Him who ought to be feared” (Psalm 76:11). We make vows to God and fulfill them not because we fear that He might take all of His provisions back. (Note: We need to always remember that everything we have and possess belongs to God as Psalm 24:1 and 1 Corinthians 10:26 say.)

Rather, we present to God our gifts to show our love and respect to Him. But God wants us to bring Him more than offerings. He wants our time and talent in Bible study, prayer, and service. God is not that interested in our money than He is in what we can do to further His Kingdom on earth.

God cares a lot more about souls that will be ushered into His Kingdom through our small acts of kindness towards our fellowmen than any amount we put into the offering basket. And everything we do must be aimed at pleasing our Lord who has called us into His family, rather than the honor and recognition we could get from anyone.

For instance, when we cook a pot of chicken soup for a neighbor or fix a flat tire for a stranger, we should do it as if the Lord Himself were receiving the gift (Colossians 3:23-24).

Fear God, Not Circumstances

They say that the phrase, “Fear not” or “Do not be afraid” appears 365 times in the Bible. That’s one for each day of the year!

Are you afraid of lack? Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). He also said, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

If we are serving God with our whole heart, we have nothing to fear. If we honor God with our gifts, talents, and time, we have nothing to fear. If we love Him enough to put Him first in our lives, we have nothing to fear. If we have given Him our heart, we have nothing to fear.

Fear God & Keep His Commandments

The book of Ecclesiastes ends where the book of Proverbs begins, with an admonition for us to fear God (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

The fear of the Lord is that attitude of reverence and awe that His people show to Him because they love Him and respect His power and His greatness. The person who fears God will pay attention to His Word and obey it.

Why is the Fear of the Lord the Beginning of Knowledge

He or she will not tempt the Lord by deliberately disobeying or by playing with sin. An unholy fear makes people run away from God, but a holy fear brings them to their knees in loving submission to God.

The fear of the Lord must result in obedient living, otherwise, that “fear” is only a sham. The dedicated believer will want to spend time daily in Scripture, getting to know the Father better, and discovering His will.

Closing Words

If we truly “fear” the Lord, we acknowledge from our hearts that He’s the Creator, we’re the creatures; He’s the Father, we’re His children; He’s the Master, we’re the servants.

It means respecting God for who He is, listening carefully to what He says, and obeying His Word, knowing that our disobedience displeases Him, breaks our fellowship with Him, and invites His chastening.

Once again, the fear of the Lord is not the servile fear of the slave before the master but the reverential and respectful fear of the child before his parents.

Do you fear the Lord? Does it impel you to regard Him with respect, reverence, and awe?


Recommended Resource: Where Wisdom Begins: Understanding the Fear of the Lord by Derek Prince

Where Wisdom Begins - Derek PrinceThe Bible says fear of the Lord is the “beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10) and the “beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). Proverbs 14:27 even calls it a “fountain of life!”

But do people really understand what is meant by the “fear of the Lord?”

Drastically different from the frightful trembling we feel in response to a threatening person or dangerous situation, the “fear of the Lord” is a deep sense of reverence and awe of the One who created us, loves us, and saved us.

With comforting words of instruction, renowned Bible scholar Derek Prince explains:

  • How the fear of the Lord differs from other types of fear
  • How to gain wisdom and understanding, which are rooted in the fear of the Lord
  • How to overcome pride in order to submit to Christ and to others
  • How to stand in awe of God’s holiness

Experience peace and confidence by cultivating the fear of the Lord, the place Where Wisdom Begins!