Category: New Life

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.


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.

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!

In the World but Not of this World

In the World but Not of this World

While teaching believers about the essential doctrines of the faith, the apostle Paul never failed to admonish them how to live their lives as followers of Christ. Clearly, Paul had a constant concern for Christians living in the world while remaining free from the world.

Bible Verse: Ephesians 4:17-18

“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.”

In Ephesians 4:17-23, Paul used action words, such as walk, put off, and put on to describe the intentional way in which believers in Jesus Christ should live. Paul never described a passive faith but a faith that proved itself in action.

Putting Off the Old Man

When I was first ushered into my church family, I often hear our senior minister say, “We are still in the world but we should not be of this world.” And he always emphasizes how we as believers should no longer be conformed to the patterns of this world (Romans 12:2), simply because we are not citizens of planet earth but heaven (Philippians 3:20).

I never realized it in the beginning but as I listened to God’s Word through my church leaders and began reading the Bible, all these biblical truths started to sink in. Christians should start living out their faith.

Paul wrote, “You should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk” (Ephesians 4:17). Looks like he just re-worded what he told the Roman church (Romans 12:2). Paul is saying that Christians are not to imitate the life of the unsaved people around them or pattern their lifestyles on them.

These people are dead because of their disobedience and their many sins (Ephesians 2:1), while the believers have been raised from the dead and been given eternal life in Christ.

Paul went on to describe this “walk” as a way of thinking – the futility of their mind” – and behaving – given themselves over to licentiousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Ephesians 4:17, 19). Their thinking and ways were futile and depraved because they were so darkened in their understanding and had hard hearts.

In general, unrepentant sinners are unable to recognize their sinful ways, their rebellion against God, and the ultimate consequences of their sins: eternal condemnation.

In the World Out of this World

Loving the World and Everything in It

We cannot deny the influence of the world especially with social media and the entertainment industry. As it has always been, the world dictates what is acceptable and what is not. The world almost always controls the way people think, how they should dress up and carry themselves in public.

But the Bible gives a strong warning for Christians not to love the world or anything that is in it because everything that this world has to offer is not from God (1 John 2:15-17). Loving the world and living as the world does may gain us some rewards such as honor, prestige, and comfort. But even the best earthly rewards last only as long as we live.

Another downside to loving the world and everything in it is that love for the world is incompatible with love for the Father. So, if one claims to love both God and the world, there must be something wrong with his love for the Father.

The New Life in Christ

The Christian life must go beyond head knowledge. Of course, learning Christ must include head knowledge. But it must also include the ability to set our mind on the right things that will eventually lead us to live for and with Christ.

Christians should no longer lead a destructive, sinful lifestyle. They have been redeemed from the power of sin and even death, the penalty of sin. Through Jesus’ work on the cross, they have been reconciled to God and the Father and can obtain power from Him to resist temptation.

Subsequently, those who have truly accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord should put off their sinful habits (Ephesians 4:22), renew their minds (Ephesians 4:23; Romans 12:2), and put on the new nature created by God for true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24).

Conclusion

Paul’s description of the life of a believer in Ephesians reveals a marvelous process, in which God works within a believer to change him or her. Relying on Jesus Christ’s saving works for us does not mean that we are inactive.

From a life filled with sin and futile efforts to gain merit before God, our lives can be transformed by our relationship with God (which has been made possible through Jesus). As Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-9, it is only “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

With Christ’s help, we can learn how to put on the “new man” who He freely provides to all who trust in Him, and will enable us to live in this world without forgetting that we are not of this world anymore.

Safety and Security in the Arms of God

Safety and Security in the Arms of God

Do you ever have trouble falling asleep? Do the pressures of your job, family, or finances push a restful night’s sleep out of reach? Considering everything that is going on today not only in your community but also in many countries all around the world, I can’t really fault you for having sleepless nights.

But know that you are not the only one asking questions such as, “When will this pandemic be over? Will I ever get my job back? When will my kids be going back to school? Will things ever get back to normal?”

I get it. It’s human nature to want a comfortable life. Who does not want safety and security in every area of their life? Of course, we all want that. But if you are looking to your riches and possessions, friends or family, and your government leaders for answers and solutions, you’ll end up disappointed.

Safety and security can be found only in the arms of God.

Learning from King David

While on the run for his life from his own son Absalom and his men, David faced great pressure and yet found a peaceful night of sleep in God’s arms. Absalom and his forces were in hot pursuit of David, hoping to kill him. In fact, they had camped all around the cave. We read this in 2 Samuel 17:1-29.

From within the cave, David calls on the Lord to hear his pleas and have mercy – just as the Lord had done before (Psalm 4:1). “Hear me” is a passionate and concerned call to God. David had been praying for God’s help and was desperate to receive and answer.

Safety and Security in the Loving Arms of God

With assurance in God, David asks his enemies how long they are going to mock him and imagine that they can overthrow him, and reminds Absalom that God has anointed him and that he is set apart from ungodliness and is separated from God (Psalm 4:2-3).

In a cold, damp cave surrounded by soldiers and listening to David compose another song, David’s close friends question if they have followed the wrong man (Psalm 4:6). They want to see results now with a swift victory, not wait on God. While they whine, David writes songs of praise to the Lord.

David Puts His Joy in the Lord

David’s thoughts drift to the annual harvest festival – a time when barns were full of grain and vats were bulging with wine. He lost a palace and the fortunes that came with it. Now he has nothing. Yet David’s joy is boundless.

With tears running down his cheeks, he sings, “You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased.”

David puts his joy in God – not in goods. In all his adventures and with all his thoughts of the “good” days, David had seen nothing he wanted more than his relationship with God. This gave him peace; he felt safe and secure. He said, “I will both lie down in peace and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).

Though Absalom’s armed forces circled around, David had the only One necessary to keep him safe. No arrow could touch him, no sword could harm him, and no army could conquer him. He had God. He had peace – perfect peace – the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

Give Thanks in All Circumstances

If you lost your palace, i.e., your job, properties, or wealth, what would your reaction be? Would you scream and cry, or would you write songs of praise to the Lord? Would you sing praises to God and thank Him despite your circumstance?

It won’t be easy, I know. Some may ask, “How am I supposed to rejoice and be glad knowing that I have a family to feed and I don’t know where the money and food will come from?”

When I first found out that I would be the one to do the tithes and love offering (TLO) exhortation for our virtual church worship service this weekend, I must admit that I got a little worried. Why? That’s because most of us were affected by the recently imposed lockdowns due to the COVID 19 pandemic and as a result, we were not paid in full by our employers.

What could I possibly say to make my fellow believers in Jesus feel comfortable financially helping the church despite experiencing scarcity in their finances? Everybody has their needs and in this kind of situation we are in right now, the phrase “job security is a lie” that most financial educators often use in their lectures is becoming more and more real to us.

Stewards of God’s Riches

Where else could we find assurance if not the word of God? So I took out my Bible and was led to 1 Timothy 6:17-19, which is part of Paul’s final exhortation to young Timothy, his disciple. So, Paul tells Timothy to remind the church, especially those who are well-off, not to put their trust in riches.

Instead, they must put their trust and confidence in the living God who richly gives all we need for our enjoyment. The rich are to do good by being ready to give and willing to share.

We are not to trust in wealth. We may think we own what we have but the truth is, we don’t. We are not owners; we are stewards. If we have wealth, it is by the grace and goodness of God, and not because of any special merits on our part. The possessing of material wealth ought to humble us and causes us to glorify God.

As Christ’s followers, we are to employ what God gives us. We should use our wealth to do good to others; we should share, and put our money to work. When we do, we enrich ourselves spiritually and we make investments for the future. If you are still wondering how exactly you are going to do that, giving to the church in support of the Lord’s work is one of them.

The earth is the Lord's and everything in it

Secure in God’s Promise

Facing many of life’s problems, how can you sleep in the Master’s arms? First of all, you must be saved, and secondly, you must be like David and lead a sanctified, separated life. When you get saved, you change (2 Corinthians 5:17). What you love changes. What you love to do changes. Your priorities will change.

Sanctification makes you love the things you once hated and hate the things you once loved. Why? It’s because you are set apart for God (Deuteronomy 14:2; 1 Peter 1:15-16). You are in the family of God (Romans 12:5). You are saved – sanctified.

How should Christians deal with the economic, social, and health crisis that the whole world is experiencing right now? First of all, we must put our trust and confidence in God knowing that nothing is beyond His control. Even when the world seems to be falling apart, we must never forget that we are safe and secure in the loving arms of God.

We are secure in God’s promise because He is faithful and will never let us down.

Closing Thoughts

Meditate within your heart the promise of peace, safety, and security that are found in God alone, and be still.

For a clear conscience and a right relationship with the Savior, makes for sweet slumber. Remember that no pillow is as soft as God’s promises, no blanket is so warm as His presence.


Results of the New Life

Results of the New Life

By nature, mankind is sinful and that is why we have been separated from God. Thus, we cannot approach God on our own; we must do so on His term. In order for that broken relationship to be restored, we must be separated from sin and set apart to righteousness. We must have new lives in which our sins have been forgiven and obliterated.

But it is one thing to be convinced of the need for the new life; it is an entirely different thing to acquire the new life. Not only that, more importantly, we also get to enjoy the results and benefits of having a new life in Christ.

Everlasting Life

John 5:24

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”

One benefit of finding new life in Christ is called in the Bible “everlasting (eternal) life.” The character of this great reality may be summarized by carefully looking at each word. The word life stresses the quality of this new relationship to God (John 10:10).

It does not mean of course, that we are not physically alive before salvation; it simply stresses the fact that we enter a new, personal relationship with God that gives us the fullness of spiritual vitality that we lacked before (John 17:3).

Results of the New Life in Christ

The word everlasting emphasizes life without end. Though it will not be completely fulfilled until our future bodily redemption (Romans 8:23), it is still a present possession that can never perish (John 10:28).

Everlasting life must not be conceived of as an exclusively future possession. Rather, its possession is clearly seen in our actions. Thus, “no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15). Indeed, love is the confirming evidence that we do, in fact, have eternal life (1 John 3:14).

The greatness of this spiritual reality constitutes a wonderful incentive to vigorously proclaim to those who are still “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).

A New Nature

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

The term new nature refers to the spiritual transformation that occurs within the inner man when a person believes in Christ as Savior. The Christian is now a new man as opposed to the old man that he was before he became a Christian (Romans 6:6; Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 3:9-10).

This concept of newness may be traced to an important choice between two Greek words, both meaning “new.” One word means new in the sense of renovation (to repair), the other in the sense of fresh existence.

It is the latter that is used to describe the Christian. He is not the old man renovated or refreshed; he is a brand new man with a new family, a new set of values, new motivations, and new possessions.

The old man is still present in the new life and expresses himself in corrupting deeds such as lying (Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9). The new man, to be visible, must be put on as one would put on a new suit of clothes (Colossians 3:10).

In other words, the new nature must be cultivated or nurtured by spiritual decisiveness to grow in Christ. We must not revert to putting on the old suit of the former life; rather we must continue to grow in this new life (Ephesians 5:8).

The message of the new nature is a message of supreme hope: the Spirit of God can accomplish a life-changing transformation for all who will only believe in Christ.

Christ’s Righteousness

Isaiah 61:10a

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.”

One of the most awesome requirements of God made upon men and women is that they be righteous, that is, conform to His ethical and moral standards (Psalm 15:2; Micah 6:8). Since God is holy, He cannot allow sinners into His presence (Isaiah 6:3-5).

Since we are all sinners, we could not be saved apart from the supernatural intervention of God (Romans 3: 10, 23). The righteous demands of God coupled with the inability of man might present an insoluble dilemma. God Himself, however, has graciously solved the problem.


He sent Christ, who never sinned, to die for our sins and thus satisfy His own wrath against us. Simply put, it means that God, at the cross, treated Christ as though He had committed our sins even though He was righteous.

On the other hand, when we believe in Christ, He treats us as though we were as righteous as Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Bible calls this type of righteousness “imputed righteousness” (Romans 4:6). That simply means that God puts to our spiritual account the very worth of Christ, much as though He were a banker adding an exhaustible deposit to our bank account.

Sadly, many people still refuse to believe that such an abundant blessing can be theirs as a free gift (Ephesians 2:8-9). Nevertheless, the Bible clearly urges all men to trust in Jesus Christ as Savior.

Placed Into God’s Family

1 John 3:2

“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

In a general sense, all men and women are the offspring of God in that He is the Creator (Acts 17:28-29).

This relationship, however, is not sufficient to offset the penalty of sin, because everybody is a sinner separated from God (Romans 3:23). Therefore, for a sinful person to become a child of God, a miraculous transformation must take place. The Bible refers to this change as being “born again” (John 3:3).

When an individual places his or her faith in Christ as Savior, he or she is born again into a new, spiritual, family relationship with God (Galatians 3:26). They gain God as Father (Ephesians 4:6) and other Christians as brothers and sisters (Hebrews 3:1).

It is significant to note that the term “brotherly love,” which Christians are commanded to have for each other (Hebrews 13:1), is never used in the Greek language to refer to loving others as though they were your brothers. Rather, it is always used of loving those who actually are your brothers.

So it is in the Christian faith; we actually are brothers and sisters with other Christians.

Not only are Christians the children of God by spiritual birth; they are adopted as well (Ephesians 1:5). This figure implies a dramatic transformation of status from slave to son (Galatians 4:1-5). One is no longer in bondage to the master but becomes a free son possessing all the rights and privileges of sonship.

One of these benefits is the right to call God Abba, an affectionate term meaning “father” (Romans 8:15). This marvelous relationship carries responsibilities with it, as well as privileges. Everyone who has the hope of having his sonship perfected someday is presently purifying his own life.

Since Christians or born again believers bear the family relationship to God they must also exhibit the family character.

Empowered By God

Acts 1:8

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

It’s been said that one of the most common excuses for not becoming a Christian is the fear of failure to live the Christian life. Besides overlooking the fact that men cannot be saved on the basis of good works (Titus 3:5), this objection neglects the truth that God provides the power to live the Christian life.

Before Christ was crucified He promised the coming of the Holy Spirit to help believers (John 16:13-14). The subsequent events of the Book of Acts supply ample evidence of the fulfillment of this prophecy (Acts 4:7, 33; 6:8).

Results of the New Life in Christ

The power of the Holy Spirit was not designed solely for the first-century church. Rather, all Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and thus have power His power available (1 Corinthians 6:19). However, living the Christian life under the Spirit’s power, must not be thought of as simply allowing the Spirit to take control while the believer does nothing.

The believer still must live the Christian life, though he does it through the Spirit’s power. Romans 8:13 says, “… if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Simply put, it is us who must put to death the sinful deeds of the body, but we are to do it through the Holy Spirit’s power.

Christians who struggle in their own strength to live the Christian life will surely fail. We must by faith appropriate daily the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:4-5). To give a practical application, we are to trust the Holy Spirit to empower us in specific instances such as sharing our faith with others, resisting temptation, being truthful, etc.

There is no secret formula that makes the Spirit’s power available. It is simply a reliance on Him to help.

Conclusion

When Christians get “saved” they were given everlasting (eternal) life; they are said to be new creatures; to have been clothed with the righteousness of Christ; to have been adopted into God’s family, and are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

The great news is, these wonderful results of having new life in Christ are offered freely to all who trust in Christ for salvation.

If you have not yet surrendered your life to Christ but want to enjoy these benefits of having a new life, why not make the decision now to acknowledge you’re a sinner in need of a Savior.

Here’s a simple prayer you can recite (from your heart) and invite Jesus into your life:

Lord Jesus, I acknowledge that I am a sinner in need of Your forgiveness. I believe You are the Son of God; that You suffered and died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin. I also believe that You, Lord Jesus, rose from the dead to secure my place in heaven.

And so, right now, I ask that You forgive all my sins and take over my life. I place my faith in You and receive You as Lord and Savior of my life. Come reign in my heart and my life, and help me to live a life that brings glory to Your name.

This is my prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen!

3 Powerful Enemies of the Christian

3 Powerful Enemies of the Christian

In the previous post by Brother Jess Cortez, he said that only those who believed in and received Jesus Christ as Lord and personal Savior were given the right to become children of God based on John 1:12 and that only those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Romans 8:14).

God’s Word is truth and there is no of going around it. There are only two sides: the Lord’s and that of the devil. You are on either side but not both and there certainly is no middle ground.

And then Bro. Jess went on to enumerate the blessings bestowed on God’s children which are truly amazing. These blessings he mentioned (based on the Word of God, of course) are things I wouldn’t trade for anything else in this world no matter how appealing they may be.

But one thing we often forget is that the moment we decided to be on God’s side is also the day we became enemies with the 3 most powerful forces that seek to constantly defeat the followers of Christ.

Enemies of the Christian

Three powerful enemies are constantly trying to defeat the Christian’s testimony and spiritual success: the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Powerful Enemies of the Christians

The World

The Greek word used is kosmos and the root meaning is “order” or “arrangement,” hence beauty (cf. cosmetics and the cosmos flower).

The main meaning of kosmos is the organized system that is under the devil’s control and leaves out God and Christ. According to the apostle John, “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19).

That being said, it is important to note that kosmos does not always have a negative connotation. John 3:16 uses the word for the people that “God so loved.” This meaning also occurs in the expression “Savior of the world” (John 4:42). Paul also uses kosmos for the created planet in his sermon on Mar’s Hill (Acts 17:24).

Why is the world one of the 3 enemies of the Christian life? This is because it entices us to go against God. In other words, it leads us to sin. This is why the Bible warns us against loving the world or the things in the world; if we do, the love of the Father is not in us (1 John 2:15).

Does this mean we should not even think about recreation, books, TV shows, movies, etc? I once had a Christian colleague who said she does not watch movies nor listen to music because she believed it would lead her to sin. She also added that all kinds of entertainment would make her impure and unworthy of God’s love.

While I commend her for making this commitment, I honestly think it would not be fair for her to expect others to do the same. Indeed, Christians should not conform to the patterns of this world (Romans 12:2) but it does not mean we should completely separate ourselves from the people of this world and have a superiority complex.

It’s undeniable that today there are many professing Christians who are walking hand in hand with the world that you can no longer tell the difference between the believer and the unbeliever.

So, where exactly do we draw the line? When considering any activity, think about what God thinks about you doing it. Will He approve of it? Is God glorified? Does this give you an opportunity to let your light shine brightly for those who are still in darkness?

The Flesh

The literal meaning of flesh is found in expressions like “flesh and blood” and “flesh and bones.” Christianity does not teach that the human body is evil, but that it can be used for evil.

The flesh can also refer to a destructive influence. As such, the flesh can be our most insidious enemy because it is inside the believer and ever-present with its depraved cravings.

We cannot say that our old, sinful cravings will completely disappear at the moment of conversion. The Bible teaches that the old nature, with all its corruption, is still there because it is living within us. The urge to sin is ever-present to drag us down and so one should not think that he or she is not a true believer because of such temptations.


Recommended Resource: War Room (Christian Movie 2015)


Even sincere and devout Christians (including the apostle Paul) can have terrific struggles with the flesh. As long as we live in the body we will have to contend with the flesh. The whole terrible catalog of the flesh is recounted in Galatians 5:19-21.

The secret of victory over the flesh is to be led by the Holy Spirit: “Walk (that is, live your life) in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).

The Devil

Devil (diabolos) is simply an anglicized form of the Greek word that suggests hurling (slander) back and forth. The devil is a personal enemy who opposes God and His plans and tempts His people. The Bible calls Satan the wicked one (Matthew 13:19), a murderer, a liar and father of lies (John 8:44), an adversary who seeks to devour (1 Peter 5:8), and an accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:9-10).

Although the devil has already been beaten at the cross by Christ, he still has the power to influence men to do his work. As I said earlier, the moment you decided to follow Christ, you became enemies with the devil and he is going to tempt you and will try everything to lead you into sin.

Satan’s most powerful tactic is still deception. He does this by first sowing seeds of doubt in your mind about what God actually said. He did it to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and succeeded. And so, he will continue to do so among God’s people today.

But when Satan does this to you, there would be no point arguing with him, for he is the greatest debater of all time. He will try to disrupt your focus on God and His works, discourage you, and will stop at nothing to destroy your relationship with Christ. How do you fight him? Your best defense against the devil is the Word of God.

When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness while fasting for 40 days, our Lord in three notable temptations used the Word of God. Upon realizing he lost, the devil left Him and the angels came to attend to Him. You can read about it in this post.

One other thing, although we can defeat Satan with the use of Scriptures, we must also submit to God and resist the devil so that he will flee from us (James 4:7). But before the devil even launches an attack against us and catches us off guard, let us always remember to apply the blood of the Lamb.

Lastly, the Christian’s defense against the devil is the “whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-17). The devil is a defeated foe – Christ bested him at Calvary. Nevertheless, he will remain active in the world until he is locked up for one thousand years. The devil’s ultimate doom is the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).


Conclusion

Life here on earth is a battleground and the Christian life is a warfare against the world, the flesh, and the devil.

But the Bible tells us that we have victory in Christ because He has already defeated the enemy and has emerged victorious. Christians can live a victorious life because of what Christ has accomplished on the cross (1 Corinthians 15:57).

This is not to say that everything is going to be “a bed of roses” for the believers in Jesus. Sure, there will be trials and difficulties. In fact, the Lord Jesus Himself said that in this world we will suffer tribulations. But we should not lose heart because He has already overcome the world (John 16:33).

The Christian’s Spiritual Blessings

The Christian’s Spiritual Blessings

In the society or community, we are identified by our given names as well as our family names. On the one hand, it is a prestige to bear the family name of the famous, the rich, the influential, the powerful, and perhaps the heroic.

On the other hand, it is a shame to bear the identity of the fugitive, the criminals, the terrorists, the violent, or the unwanted. People are either looked-up to or looked down on based on their status in life, regardless of their moral or financial position in life.

Identity is the way you think of yourself and the way the rest of the world sees you. In short, it defines who you are.

Who are the Children of God?

When I was a young Christian, I thought that all people, being created by God are all called God’s children. However, as I matured in my relationship with the Almighty, I have learned through His Word that only those who received and believe in Him were given the right to become children of God (John 1:11-13).

We become children of God not because of any merit we earned; not because of our earthly father’s choice but because of God. We become His adopted sons and daughters when we are born again in spirit.

As the Word says, those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God (Romans 8:14). Well, in this world, there are only two choices. If you are not led by the Spirit of God, then you are led by the spirit of darkness. And if you are not with Him, then you are against Him (Matthew 12:30).

John 1:12

For a Christian who received and believed in Jesus Christ, there could never be anything more precious than being identified as a “Child of God.” It is all because of His mercy, greatness, and grace that we were given the right to become children of God. It is not because we chose Him but because He has chosen us.

It could never be more prestigious than such! Unfortunately, we sometimes underrate the blessings of being such a child of God. Many Christians due to their innocence in the true Word of God limit their identity in Jesus to be just like the rest of this world which is not what God planned for us.

Certainly, to be identified as a child of God brings many blessings and calls for many responsibilities. With this, let us unfold a few of the blessings we receive just because of His great love for us.

Because of the greatness of God, we were brought to be:

Complete in Christ

As Christians, we are complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10) and not because of human merit. We are complete and it is all because of Jesus and for all that He has done on the cross.

In this spiritual warfare, we are complete because we have Jesus and we shall not lack anything nor need anyone else. No religion, ceremony, ritual, tradition, custom, or legality in any form is needed to complete His work. We need no further additions or deletions.

Jesus’ death and resurrection were more than enough. As stated in John 19:30, “It is finished.” We have been made complete to salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

So now, we can live in glory because the One who promised, the one in whom we believe, keeps His promises (Hebrews 10:23).

Heirs of God and Co-heirs with Christ

The privileges of being an heir of our earthly parents’ wealth, bring inexplicable joy especially if it is least expected. What more joy can it bring to be an heir of our heavenly Father, not of material things but the glorious everlasting life even if we do not deserve it at all!

While the highest glory only belongs to God, through Christ He made us heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17). The route to this heir-ship is open to all but is only received by those who accepted and believed in Him. However, the route to heir-ship has some demands that are in no way light and easy.

And that is, one needs to share with His sufferings so He can also share as a co-heir to His glory.

The inheritance that is given to us, unlike our inheritance from our earthly parents is imperishable. It does not rot and does not need to be replenished. It is an inheritance prepared and kept in heaven just for us (1 Peter 1:3-5).

And because we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, we are highly blessed and greatly favored in many ways.

In our daily walks in life, we encounter unexpected favors that we cannot imagine. All these do not happen coincidentally but intentionally and freely given to us by no other than our Father in heaven through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Are you not overwhelmed with this?

Finding Your Identity in Christ Quote from Overcomer 2019 Movie

Innocent before God

Because of the sin that separated God and man, it took heaven’s dearest to take the blame so that we can be declared innocent in the eyes of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

He took our place on the cross that we may have eternal life in the heavenly realms. By His mercy and love, He took from us something we deserve, and by His grace, replaced it with something we do not deserve at all. We deserve the sure punishment in the flames of hell but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:23)

No one is righteous but by the grace of Christ, we have become the righteousness of God. By receiving Him, we become children of God. We have been saved from guaranteed destruction. By His grace we are justified freely (Romans 3:24) and He polished us into a new creation in Christ Jesus.

God withheld the punishment for our sins in the past until the time that He sent Christ as an offering for the forgiveness of our sins. It is because Jesus has taken our place that we no longer are to be condemned (Romans 8:1).

Because of Christ, we are now free from condemnation. We were dead but now we are alive in Christ.

Loved Unconditionally

God knew us from the start. He knows us so well that He even knows the number of our hair (Luke 12:7, Matthew 10:30). While we did not even know Him and while we were wallowing in sin, God already showed His love for us by giving His only son to die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.

God did not mind what we are, who we are, and what wrongful things we’ve done. He has forgiven our sins and He loves us unconditionally (Romans 5:8). The love of the Father is so great that He loves to call us his children (1 John 3:1).

Indeed, the Lord loved us long before we even knew Him and He remains faithfully loving us, no matter what. Until when will God love us? Until eternity! (Psalm 136:1)

Destined to be with God throughout Eternity

It is God’s special purpose to have us be called His own through Jesus Christ. That is why heaven rejoices for every soul that receives Jesus as their Savior. It gives Him great pleasure to bring us to His own family (Ephesians 1:5)

As the apostle Paul said, everything we do from now on, founded on the hope of our eternal life, would not mean anything had Jesus not risen from the dead and we could have been the most pitied people in this world (1 Corinthians 15:19). But because He is faithful in keeping His promises to us, His children, we look forward to that day when He will come back to take us to be with Him.

Jesus promised that He would go ahead of us to prepare a place for us (John 14:2-3). Are we really going to have physical mansions within our Father’s house? Will it be a huge one? Or will it be a room within a house? We can only answer that when we get there.

But one thing is certain; if it is a “place” prepared by Jesus for me, it will be extra special. Whether it be a mansion or a green pasture in the field, it will be a glorious one because I will be living in eternity with God! This is the joy and glory of being a child of God!


In summary, it is all because of the greatness of God that we were brought to be:

Ccomplete in Christ

H – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ

Iinnocent before God

L – loved unconditionally &

Ddestined to be with God throughout eternity

Conclusion

Because of God’s grace and mercy, we receive the right to become children of God. It is the greatest blessing to be redeemed and be called a child of God. It gives us the authority to sit on heavenly realms but this also brings responsibility to each one of us.

As children of God, we bear His image and we become the light of this world. Let us all be encouraged to keep our light shining brightly so that others who are still in darkness may also come into the light.


Recommended Resource: Overcomer 2019 Movie (DVD)

From the creators of the #1 box-office hit War Room.

Life changes overnight for coach John Harrison (Alex Kendrick) after he loses his basketball team and is challenged by the school’s principal, Olivia (Priscilla Shirer), to coach a new sport he doesn’t know or like.

As John questions his own worth, he dares to help the least likely runner take on the biggest race of the year. Filled with a powerful mix of faith, humor, and heart, this inspirational story will have you on the edge of your seat.

Here’s the official trailer:

What is the Biblical Definition of Repentance?

What is the Biblical Definition of Repentance?

A correct understanding of the doctrine of repentance is very important because it is one of the basics of the Christian faith. The author to the Hebrews said:

“So, let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely, we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God” (Hebrews 6:1 NLT).

This is why believers need to take time to study this subject.

Biblical Definition of Repentance

We hear so many definitions of the word repentance. But what does the Bible say? What is repentance according to the Bible?

In the New Testament, there are two different Greek verbs translated “repent,” each with a different meaning.

The first is the word metamelomai which means “a regret of past actions.” It has the idea of being sorry or a feeling of remorse for something that was done, but it does not necessarily result in a change of heart and action.

The second verb metanoia means “to change one’s mind as a result of after knowledge,” resulting in a complete change of attitude. It is important to note that when the Bible encourages believers to repent, what is being encouraged is this latter use of the Greek word “repent.”

What is the Biblical Meaning of Repentance

So, whenever we speak of “repentance,” i.e., the act of repenting, we are not speaking of being sorry for what we have done, or merely having a change of mind about our sins. Biblical repentance results in a complete shift of attitude toward God and our sins.

When John the Baptist preached repentance, he was basically telling the people that they needed to change their ways since the kingdom of God was at hand (Matthew 3:1-2). Luke also records Jesus telling the people they had to repent (Luke 13:3).

In Acts 20:21, repentance is defined as turning from sin and turning to God.

The Nature of True Repentance

Repentance is more than sorrow. Feeling sad or sorrowful does not necessarily mean that a person is repentant. Godly sorrow is what leads to repentance.

In his second letter to the church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 7:8-11 NIV), Paul wrote:

“Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it, I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while, yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point, you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.”

Repentance results from godly sorrow, which in turn leads to salvation and an actual change in direction.

True Repentance Brings about Regret.

Sinners who genuinely repent cause them to regret how they have acted in the past. In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul said this:

“What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death” (Romans 6:21)!

True Repentance Leads to Action.

To illustrate true repentance, Jesus used the story of one of the two sons who was asked by their father to work in their vineyard. At first, the lad refused but afterward, he changed his mind and went.

“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went” (Matthew 21:28-29).

Jesus taught that true repentance is not merely feeling sorry for something that has been done; it has to be followed by actions.


True Repentance Causes Sinners to See Who They Really Are.

When we are genuinely repentant, we will have a new view of who we are. Let us take a look at some examples in the Bible.

Job

While Job was going through his suffering, he protested his innocence and righteousness. However, this changed when he came face-to-face with God:

“My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42: 5-6).

Isaiah

Isaiah, though he was a prophet of God, realized his true nature because he was confronted with the holiness of God. Isaiah saw himself for who he truly was in the presence of God.

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (Isaiah 6:5 NIV).

Peter

After Jesus performed the miracle of the Great Catch, Peter saw himself in a different light. He recognized his sinfulness in the presence of Jesus. We read about this in the Gospel of Luke:

When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8).

The Thief on the Cross

The criminal who was next to Jesus on the cross is another example of true repentance. At first, he joined with the other criminal in taunting Jesus. However, he changed his attitude toward Jesus as well as to the other criminal who was crucified when he realized that the one being crucified next to him was the Messiah.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:39-41).

The thief had a change of heart and asked Jesus if He too could be part of God’s kingdom. In response, Jesus promised him that he would enter paradise with Him (Luke 23:42-43).

Judging by human standards, we may regard ourselves as decent and moral people. But when we compare ourselves to the living God, we will have an entirely different view of who we are.

As the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins and reveals to us how it looks before a holy God, we begin to realize how terrible sin is. This understanding of sin causes in us a change in behavior – repentance.

True Repentance Does Not Always Manifest Itself in Emotion.

We often equate repentance to some emotion of sorrow or remorse but just because the repentant person shows little or no emotion does not mean he is not sincere. True repentance is not showing emotion for our past deeds, it is changing the way we act in the present.

In other words, the key is the change in behavior, not the emotion that is shown. A person who truly repents has determined that his or her life must change.

True repentance is not showing emotion for our past deeds; it is changing the way we act in the present.

True Repentance vs. False Repentance

What is the Biblical Definition of RepentanceThe difference between true repentance and false repentance (mere sorrow for sin) can be seen in the example of Peter and Judas.

Matthew records that when Peter realized he betrayed Jesus; he was sorry for his sins. But it did not stop there. He went outside and wept bitterly. There was genuine sorrow for his actions.

After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly (Matthew 26:73-75).

Judas, on the other hand, decided to take his own life instead of coming to God in repentance. Matthew explained it in this manner:

“So, Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:5).

Judas only had remorse for what he had done, he did not repent. There is a huge difference between the two.

Results of True and False Repentance

Using the same example as above, we read that after he repented, Peter was restored to fellowship. He received the forgiveness of the Lord and learned that repentance can restore us into a right relationship with the Lord.

Also, Peter was given the honor to preach the very first sermon for the church on the day of Pentecost. And in that sermon, Peter urged the people to do the same thing that he had done – repent.

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

When Jesus rose from the dead on that Easter Sunday morning, Peter was found with the other disciples. He did not leave the company of believers, nor did he kill himself. He repented of what he had done and had returned to be with the other believers.

On the other hand, Judas only felt remorse. Instead of repenting and looking to godly people for support, he hanged himself. And according to the Scripture, Judas went to his appointed place of judgment, as explained in the Book of Acts:

“With the payment, he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood” (Acts 1:18-19)

These two men provide examples of what we as Christians should do and should not do when we sin. Peter showed us that we should not merely feel sorry for what we have done, but we should repent. We must own up to our sin, and have a determination to change our behavior. The Lord will then restore us to fellowship.

This is what genuine repentance is all about.

Closing Words

Biblical repentance does not merely involve feeling sorry or remorse for sin but also a change of mind and heart that leads to a change in action towards sin. To repent is to recognize that we have sinned and our sins are offensive to God.

We are to turn away from sin, turn to God, ask for forgiveness, and walk with God in obedience to His commands.

God is calling everyone to repentance. The focus of Christ’s mission was to call all sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32) and this call for absolute surrender goes out to all people (Luke 13:5).

Have you accepted the call?


Reference: Winning the Spiritual War by Don Stewart

Recommended Resource: Repentance: The First Word of the Gospel by Richard Owen Roberts

It is a serious problem when society misunderstands or disregards sin and repentance. But when the church neglects these doctrines, the impact is profound. This book unfolds the nature and necessity of biblical repentance, but for the church in particular.

Roberts’ in-depth study heavily references both he Old and New Testaments and includes chapters on the myths, maxims, marks, models, and motives of repentance, as well as the graces and fruits that accompany it. There is also a wise warning about the dangers of delayed repentance.

Study Bibles for Beginners

Study Bibles for Beginners

For new believers, understanding and interpreting the Bible on their own could be a real challenge. I know many Christians who are very zealous in sharing the Word and also in encouraging others, and I do admire them for that.

The only issue I have is that they often take verses out of their contexts in support of a topic that is not in any way related to it. This is called “proof-texting,” one of the common errors of biblical interpretation.

How do we avoid committing this error? Having a good study Bible will help. If you are serious about the Word of God, it’s time you invest in a good study Bible that will help you to understand and properly interpret God’s Word.

Regular Bible vs. Study Bible

What is the difference between a study Bible and a regular Bible? They are the same in that they both contain the Word of God: 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament.

The difference is that a study Bible has additional features such as book introduction, historical context, cross-references to other Bible passages, outlines or maps, extensive study notes and explanations of key doctrines, devotionals, and so much more.

But which study Bibles are recommended for beginners? In this post, I will be sharing with you a list of my recommended study Bibles.

Selecting a Study Bible

Choosing the best study Bible can be overwhelming because there are hundreds of great choices. So how can one possibly determine which one suits them best? Can we even say that one study Bible is better than the rest? I don’t believe so. But I would say that there are a few that are better than the rest.

Let me also mention that in selecting a study Bible, there are certain things you need to consider. First is the translation. We have the NIV, ESV, NASB, KJV, CSV, NLT, and numerous other options. How do you select which one is best for you from among them?

The Best Study Bibles 

If you are a beginner or new believer, I highly recommend that your first study Bible is one that focuses on interpretation rather than on application. You can always purchase an application study Bible later on.

So here we go.

NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible

Top Rated Study BiblesPublisher: Zondervan

Publishing Date: August 23, 2016

Editors: Craig S. Keener & John H. Walton

Description: The Bible was originally written to ancient people removed from us by thousands of years and thousands of miles.

It includes subtle culturally based nuances, undertones, and references to ancient events, literature, and customs that were intuitively understood by those who first heard the texts read.

So, for us to truly understand the Scriptures as they did, we need a window into their world and language. This is what the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible provides. Every page is packed with expert insight into the customs, culture, and literature of biblical times.

These fascinating explanations will serve to clarify your study of the Scriptures, reinforcing your confidence and bringing difficult passages of Scripture into sharp focus.

Best Places to buy: Amazon & ChristianBook Distributors

NKJV Spirit-Filled Life Study Bible (Third Edition)

What are the Best Study BiblesPublisher: Thomas Nelson

Publishing Date: September 4, 2018

Editor: Jack W. Hayford

Description: Take a deep and powerful look at Scripture — and experience the presence of the Holy Spirit as you encounter God in His Word.

This best-selling NKJV Bible draws on the expertise of an expanded team of respected, Spirit-led scholars, led by Pastor Jack Hayford, founding pastor of The Church on the Way and chancellor of The King’s University.

With over 2 million copies sold, the NKJV Spirit-Filled Life Bible continues to equip God’s people to live in His kingdom, exercise the gifts of the Spirit, and lay hold of God’s promises.

Best Places to buy: Amazon & ChristianBook Distributors

Quest Study Bible

Best Study Bibles for BeginnersPublisher: Zondervan

Publishing Date: November 19, 2011

Editor: Christianity Today Int.

Description: Get answers to the Bible questions you have … and questions you haven’t yet pondered!

The NIV Quest Study Bible features over 7,000 notes written in an engaging question and answer format that gives insight into the common, uncommon, and sometimes perplexing passages from the Bible.

You will have the opportunity to consider questions like, “Why did God send angels to Jacob?” “What prevents God from hearing our prayers?” and “Why does God test us?” as you explore God’s Word using the many study helps.

Best Places to buy: Amazon & ChristianBook Distributors

The Jeremiah Study Bible

What are the Best Study BiblesAuthor: Dr. David Jeremiah

Publisher: Worthy Books

Publishing Date: November 26, 2013

Description: Drawn from more than 40 years of study, Dr. David Jeremiah, one of America’s leading Bible teachers, has produced a deeply personal and comprehensive study Bible packed with features specifically focused to help you discover what Scripture says, what Scripture means and, most importantly, what Scripture means to you.

The Jeremiah Study Bible presents the best of biblical insight and study tools along with clear, practical application to bring about authentic transformation in your life.

Best Places to buy: Amazon & ChristianBook Distributors

The MacArthur Study Bible

Top Rated Study BiblesPublisher: Thomas Nelson

Publishing Date: November 5, 2013

Editor: John F. MacArthur

Description: The NASB MacArthur Study Bible is a classic resource that is perfect for serious study.

Dr. John MacArthur has collected his pastoral and scholarly work of more than 35 years to create the most comprehensive study Bible available. No other study Bible does such a thorough job of explaining the historical context, unfolding the meaning of the text, and making it practical for your life.

Features: A 25-page concordance, including people and places, more than 20,000 study notes, charts, maps, outlines, and articles from Dr. John MacArthur, Overview of Theology, Index to Key Bible Doctrines.

Best Places to buy: Amazon & ChristianBook Distributors

Best Study Bibles for BeginnersNIV Biblical Theology Study Bible

Publisher: Zondervan

Publishing Date: September 4, 2018

General Editor: D.A. Carson

Description: Biblical Theology allows you to ponder the individual stories and themes of Scripture while observing how they all fit together in God’s grand biblical narrative.

It answers the question, “How has God revealed his word historically and organically?”

With three articles introducing Biblical theology and 25 articles unpacking key themes of Scripture, the NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible equips you to follow the progressive unfolding of God’s story.

Features: Complete text of the accurate, readable, and clear New International Version (NIV), previously published as NIV Zondervan Study Bible, 28 theologically rich articles by authors such as Tim Keller and Kevin DeYoung, 20,000 verse-by-verse study notes, Hundreds of full-color photos, more than 90 maps, and over 60 charts, Comprehensive book introductions, Over 60 trusted contributors, Cross-references and the NIV Comprehensive Concordance, Single-column, black letter edition, Two ribbon markers, and more.

Best Places to buy: Amazon ChristianBook Distributors

The NKJV Prophecy Study Bible

What are the Best Study BiblesPublisher: Thomas Nelson

Publishing Date: November 10, 2015

General Editor: John Hagee

Description: The prophecies of the Bible assure us that God will prevail.

The NKJV Prophecy Study Bible, 2015 Edition has hundreds of pages of special features that offer a broad understanding of prophetic themes, salvation, covenants, and other important doctrines of the Christian faith.

Features: Introduction to Bible Prophecy, Index to Prophetic Passages, Top 20 Questions about Bible Prophecy, Diamonds for Daily Living, God’s Great Promises, God’s Great Salvation, Evidences, Spokesmen for God, Bible Insights, Bible Prophecy Charts, and Full concordance.

Best Places to buy: Amazon & ChristianBook Distributors

NLT Life Application Study Bible (Third Edition)

Best Rated Study BiblesPublisher: Tyndale

Publishing Date: October 1, 2019

Description: Today’s number 1 selling study Bible, the NLT Life Application Study Bible, has been thoroughly updated and expanded, offering even more relevant insights and spiritual guidance for applying God’s Word to everyday life in today’s world.

This study Bible for women and men answers real-life questions and provides practical yet powerful ways to apply the Bible to your life every day.

Explore the stories and teachings of this NLT study Bible with verse-by-verse commentary. Gain wisdom from people in the Bible by exploring their accomplishments and learning from their mistakes.

Survey the big picture of each book through overviews, vital statistics, outlines, and timelines, and grasp difficult concepts using in-text maps, charts, and diagrams.

Best Places to buy: Amazon & ChristianBook Distributors

Compass Study Bible

Best Study Bibles for BeginnersPublisher: Thomas Nelson

Publishing Date: February 11, 2014

Editor: Ecclesia Bible Society

Description: Do you want to start reading and applying the Bible to your life, but aren’t quite sure where to start? Let Compass point you in the right direction.

Packed with Bible-reading helps and using an energizing, new Bible translation, Compass is a Bible designed with you in mind.

Features: In-text notes that include cultural, historical, theological, and devotional thoughts, God’s Promises—Thomas Nelson’s bestselling guide to Scripture for your every need, Book introductions, Reading plans for every day of the year, Topical Guides to Scripture and notes, and In-text maps.

Best Places to buy: Amazon ChristianBook Distributors

Closing Thoughts

Why do you need a study Bible?

A study Bible is a great supplementary resource that will help you understand Scripture more clearly as you read it. It can also help you interact with God’s Word in a deeper and more meaningful way and to properly apply it in your life.

How to Effectively Witness for Christ

How to Effectively Witness for Christ

Do you still remember how you came to faith in Christ? God must have used somebody to share the good news of salvation to you. Was it a friend, a colleague, or a family member? Regardless of who that might be, now that you have received God’s gift of salvation, it’s your turn to share it with others.

But why should you do that? Why share the good news? It’s because all followers of Christ are to be His witnesses. Every Christian is commanded to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

However, fulfilling this mandate known as the Great Commission can be a real challenge to every follower of Jesus.

So in this article, I am going to share some guidelines or techniques on how to effectively witness for Christ.

Preach the Gospel

Does Mark 16:15 (quoted above) mean that every Christian must become a pastor or a preacher and speak from a pulpit or platform in order to proclaim the good news of salvation? Of course not!

To “preach” does not necessarily mean to deliver a sermon to an assembled group of people. We simply have to reach out to the lost and introduce the gospel to them. And like I said, this was a command (from Jesus), not a suggestion.

Did you know that this command was not obeyed immediately? Jesus’ disciples stayed in Jerusalem for many years after the church was born at Pentecost. It was only when the persecution started that Christianity began to spread to the world. And when it did, it spread robustly and continues to.

The more the church was persecuted, the faster the gospel propagated.

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. - Mark 16:15

Important Note:

In many Bibles, Mark 16:9-20 is footnoted in some way because apparently, it did not exist in the earliest Greek manuscripts of the gospel of Mark.

Although the vast majority of later manuscripts include this passage, the two oldest and most respected manuscripts the Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus (dated from 325 and 340 A.D.) do not contain this section. A few ancient manuscripts put asterisks next to Mark 16:9-20 to indicate that it is an addition to the original text.

Nevertheless, many very early Christians referred to this passage in their writings, which shows that they accepted it as genuine. But whether this portion of Mark’s gospel was written by Mark or was added later on by scribes, it is important to note that it offers no new information, nor does it contradict previously revealed events and/or doctrines.

Why Should Christians Share Their Faith?

Aside from the fact that God has commanded us to do so, we share our faith as a demonstration of our love for God. Jesus said that if we truly loved Him we should keep His commandments (John 14:15).

Christians must also share their faith because all are lost (Romans 3:10, 23) but God desires to save all people (Acts 4:12, 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4). Sharing our faith is God’s chosen method to tell all people what Christ has done at Mount Calvary for the forgiveness and salvation of man.

God could have used angels but He didn’t. It’s because only redeemed sinners can tell lost sinners about Christ (Romans 10:14-17; Acts 8:13).

We must share our faith because someone once shared their faith with us. It may have been a faithful Bible teacher, or a godly pastor, or a praying parent. In other words, they have the right to expect that we will do for others what they have done for us.

Effective Witnessing Techniques

1. Be a clean vessel for God.

First, to be an effective witness for Christ, we must be clean vessels. God reminds Isaiah the prophet of this, “Be clean, you who bear the vessels of the Lord” (Isaiah 52:11). We cannot expect to share our faith successfully if we are deliberately living in sin and disobedience to God.

We must confess our sins to God and forsake them, then yield our lives completely to God. Although God does not demand golden or silver vessels, He does require clean ones. (Notice that God used and continues to use imperfect people.)

2. Pray, pray, pray.

Prayer is very important if we are to be effective soul-winners for Christ. Before we even attempt to evangelize, we pray not only for the blood covering of Jesus upon us because we will be engaging in a spiritual battle but also for God to open doors so we can proclaim the gospel.

We must pray that God will lead us to the people He wants us to share the gospel with; we pray that God will open their hearts to receive the gospel.

When Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch in Syria from speaking to great multitudes at Iconium and Lystra, passing through Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga and Attalia, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 14:27).

We also read in Colossians 4:3-4 that Paul asked the brethren to pray for him and his companions so that God will open a door for the message of the gospel, and for him to proclaim it clearly as he should.


3. Be totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit.

Before His ascension, Jesus gave a specific instruction to His disciples to not leave Jerusalem but to wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them and empower them to become His witnesses not only in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, but also to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:4, 8).

We must acknowledge that we cannot be effective witnesses for Christ without the Holy Spirit to work on our behalf. We can do nothing without God and this includes soul-winning. We do not know the right words to say; many of us may be timid and are not eloquent speakers.

But God did not only promise that He’d give us the courage to speak, but He’d also give us the words to proclaim.

The apostle Paul, who used to be a zealous Jew taught by Gamaliel, said to the church in Corinth in his first letter that he knew nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He then went on to say that he was proclaiming his testimony about God to them not with wise and persuasive words, but with the demonstration of the Spirit’s power (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached the most powerful sermon ever that led to the conversion of 3,000 souls in one day. How did he do that? The Holy Spirit enabled him.

These two instances in the ministry of Paul and Peter clearly illustrate that without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we cannot possibly share the gospel effectively.

One side note: It’s not your job to convert people to Christ. Your job is to share the Gospel. So do your job of sharing the gospel and allow the Holy Spirit to do His job of convicting.

4. God is patient with lost sinners.

One other thing we need to keep in mind is that God does not want anyone to perish, but for everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

The leaders of Israel had rejected the ministry of John the Baptist and the ministry of Jesus, yet God gave them another opportunity to repent and be saved. They had denied and slain their own Messiah, yet God patiently held back His judgment and sent His Spirit to deal with them.

God’s people today need patience as they witness to a lost world.

Had there been times when you lost patience with someone you’re witnessing to because it looked like it wasn’t working? Let me just say that whenever you’re tempted to lose patience with the lost and want to give up, remember how God has been patient with you up until today.

Now, the question you may want to ask is: At what point should we stop trying to convince someone their need of a Savior? If after repeatedly sharing with them the bad news (we are all sinners) and the good news (Christ paid for our sins by His suffering and death) but they’re not interested, I believe it’s time to move on to the next person on your list.

Matthew 7:6 says, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” In other words, we should not shove the gospel down the throats of people who do not want it; they will just continue to mock God and His Word.

5. Learn to do basic Apologetics.

One of the most effective tools in witnessing is apologetics, from the Greek word apologia, meaning to give a defense.

We first read this word from Peter when he said in his epistle, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

In short, apologetics is the science and art of defending the Christian faith by using reasons and evidence.

When Peter and John were brought before the rulers, elders, scribes and priests, (including Annas the high priest), and was asked in what power or by what name has he been performing miracle healings, Peter implored apologetics. He gave a clear defense of the gospel by declaring to them the fact of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Acts 4:5-14).

Apologetics - an Effective Tool in Witnessing

Can you give an answer as to why you’re a Christian? Why do you believe Christianity is true? What’s your basis in claiming that the Bible is God’s Word? You do not have to attend seminary school, but as a Christian, you must be able to explain why you believe what you believe.

I often hear many Christians (including pastors) say this to non-Christians: “Just believe.” And I’m like, “What? Seriously?” Haven’t these Christians read how Jesus gave evidence for His claim of divinity by performing miracles? He did not just claim to be God by attributing to Himself God’s name (I Am); He did many miracles to prove it. The climax being His resurrection!

Christianity hinges on the fact of Jesus’ resurrection and the historical evidence for the resurrection is very strong and compelling. This alone should be enough to give Christians confidence that they did not believe in vain.

6. Learn Polemics

Polemics is a strong verbal or written attack on someone or something.

Polemics is the other side of apologetics. If apologetics is defense, polemics is offense. As Jay Smith always says, “The best defense is a good offense.” In basketball, you don’t win the game just by defending the goal; you win by attacking the basket and scoring against your opponent.

This is not only true in the game of basketball or soccer, but also in witnessing.

While in Thessalonica, it was Paul’s custom to go into the synagogues of the Jews for days, months and even years, to argue and reason with them persuasively from the Scriptures about the kingdom of God. He would explain and prove that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead (Acts 17:1-3; 19:8-10).

Do you see what Paul had been doing? He’s on the attack! He did not just wait for the Jewish religious leaders to question him; he went to them and proclaimed the suffering, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

So how and where do you begin? You can start the conversation by asking what they believe about life and death, or heaven and hell. Ask them where they think they will go should they die today and why.

7. A changed life is the best defense of the truth of Christianity.

In his evangelistic ministries, Methodist preacher Samuel Chadwick used to pray for “a Lazarus” in every campaign, “some great sinner” whose conversion would shock the community. He got the idea from John 12:9-11.

God answered his prayers in meeting after meeting as infamous wicked individuals trusted Christ and became witnesses through their changed lives.

How to be an Effective Witness for Christ

This is Paul’s exhortation for all Christians in Ephesians 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”

You may have heard this exhortation from most pastors about living the faith as followers of Jesus. “Be careful how you live your life because you may be the only Bible unbelievers will ever read.”

Concluding Words

When the disciples asked Jesus what are the signs of His coming and the end of the age, He said to them:

“Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

9 You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me, you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations” (Mark 13:5-10).

The end is near, the days are evil. Jesus is coming soon. Christians need to work double-time to witness to the lost.

The Great Commission still stands. Are you fulfilling it?


Recommended Resource:  The Case for Christ, Revised & Updated: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus By Lee Strobel

The Case for Christ by Lee StrobelIs there credible evidence that Jesus of Nazareth really is the son of God?

Retracing his own spiritual journey from atheism to faith, Lee Strobel, former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, cross-examines a dozen experts with doctorates from schools like Cambridge, Princeton, and Brandeis who are recognized authorities in their own fields.

Strobel challenges them with questions like: How reliable is the New Testament? Does evidence for Jesus exist outside the Bible? Is there any reason to believe the resurrection was an actual event?

In this winner of the Gold Medallion Book Award and two-time nominee for the Christian Book of the Year Award, Strobel’s tough, point-blank questions play like a captivating, fast-paced novel. But it’s not fiction. It’s a riveting quest for the truth about history’s most compelling figure.

The new edition includes scores of revisions and additions, including updated material on archaeological and manuscript discoveries, fresh recommendations for further study, and an interview with the author that tells dramatic stories about the book’s impact, provides behind-the-scenes information, and responds to critiques of the book by skeptics.

This updated edition will prove even more valuable to contemporary listeners.