Category: New Life

A Testimony of the Grace of God

A Testimony of the Grace of God

God has blessed us so much in many ways and we ought to bless others as well. One way of doing this is through our testimony and sharing our journey to faith in Christ.

It is an honor for us here at Biblical Christianity to publish the testimony of a brother in the Lord, Carlo Caputo.


Dear Fellow Christians,

I was a Christian for over a year before I realized I was a true child of God. At the age of 34, God graciously gave me eternal life according to His promises in the Holy Bible. I had always thought I was a Christian and that I would go to heaven when I died because of my Roman Catholic heritage.

I now realize that despite all my church attendance, sacraments, and commandment keeping, I would have gone straight to hell. It’s because I was trusting in my own merits to earn salvation, rather than depending on Jesus to save me.

It seems that everyone strives for two goals in life – security and significance. If a person would honestly analyze their motives, I believe that they would see that all their activities in life fall into these two categories. 

The need to feel accepted by others (security) and the need to feel important (significance) are our two main driving factors.

How I Became A Roman Catholic

Although my parents were not practicing Catholics, they sent me to Catholic schools. And I received the sacraments as I grew in age: Infant Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, etc.

I turned to God early in life because I could not find love anywhere in the home, nor in the Brooklyn, New York neighborhood where I was raised. Violence and rejection were everywhere. So my attention was focused on trying to please the Lord to receive the positive reinforcement that I desperately needed.

My efforts were directed through the only way I knew – the Catholic Institution. “Mother Church” became my source of security, and, my devout adherence to its teachings became my source of significance.

I attended daily Mass and Communion for almost 25 years. If I missed mass during the week, I would try to make up for it by going to extra Masses on the weekend. Many a time, as a teenager, I would sit through four or five Masses on Saturday morning. Then say an entire Rosary at each Station of the Cross.

I would give up eating meat for the entire season of Lent. I say this not to boast of my piousness, but to show the utter futility of it all (see Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5).

However, with all this religious activity, there was still an emptiness inside me that I could not explain. I thought I wasn’t doing enough for God, so I would make additional and countless sacrifices to make the Lord accept me.

But still, there was a void within me that I could not seem to fill. I did not try to find happiness by the sinful pleasures of the world and I continually strived to please God,  but deep down inside I always felt I was missing the mark.

Roman Catholicism

Considering Priesthood

While in college, I took Army ROTC and therefore incurred a military obligation after graduate school. After serving as a company commander at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, I volunteered for Vietnam and departed overseas.

At the age of 27, while still living a celibate lifestyle, I seriously considered the priesthood. I wrote to every diocese in the United States and every Catholic Religious Order. I already had eight years of college before entering the military. But to become a Catholic priest involved five additional years of postgraduate study in Philosophy and Theology, which did not seem appealing.

So, when I returned to the States from Vietnam, I became involved with numerous Catholic activities and was elected Parish Council President. I felt that I could serve the Lord without becoming a priest and avoid the time of additional education.

My Charismatic Experience

In the meantime, some sincere Catholic friends were telling me of a new life in the Spirit through the “charismatic experience.” After two years of being “witnessed to,” I received the “gift of tongues” during a Catholic Charismatic Renewal Conference.

The fact that this occurred on All Saints Day was a tremendous boost for my “spiritual ego.” Through this experience, I became a better Catholic. The Mass became more meaningful, the words of the priest became more profound and his sermons were a blessing.

I purchased a Catholic Bible and started attending Catholic Charismatic Bible studies and prayer meetings. There had always been a “missing link” in my search for the Lord and now I thought I had found it.

With the ecumenical flavor of the charismatic influence, it did not seem too great a sin to associate with Protestants, so, I started dating a Baptist. After we were engaged, she decided to become Catholic. She took instructions in the Catholic faith and we were married by a priest in a Catholic Church with full nuptial blessings.


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New Life in Christ: What Really Happens When You're Born Again and Why It Matters

Joining the Baptist Church

After a while, I joined the Baptist Church to get a better understanding of her background. About a year later we left the Baptist church and joined a Pentecostal fellowship where we remained for three years.

Although I was a very active member of these various churches, the gospel of salvation was never really explained to me, 

and therefore I remained lost. All of this time, I still wanted to return to the Catholic Church. All of my formal education, except for fifteen years of post-graduate studies, was in Catholic schools, so my devotion to Catholicism was still very strong.

I was very uncomfortable with non-Catholics and grew very resentful towards Protestants in general. I was bitterly opposed to Fundamentalists, especially when they would oppose Catholicism, which I defended vehemently.

Frankly speaking, what I saw in Protestants made me want to return to the Catholic Church all the more. I didn’t realize at the time, that many Protestants are without Christ and also need to be “born again,” just like Catholics need biblical salvation.

Sinner Saved by Grace

Sometime later, my life started to change and I couldn’t understand why. Rock music became increasingly irritating, and I enjoyed driving the speed limit.

My greatest change was noticed in my desire to read the Bible. I had always found it difficult to study the Bible, but now I could not put it down. I suddenly had a deep hunger for TRUTH and I felt the Lord leading me to understand the basic doctrines of Biblical Christianity.

As I grew spiritually, I finally realized why my life was changing. A year and a half before this, I was reading a book on Basic Christianity. Here, I learned that I had a sinful nature. This rebellious nature of all mankind is the original sin of Adam & Eve. We are all born with it and will die with it and this is what causes us to sin (see Galatians 5:17).

While I was reading this book, I realized why I was a condemned sinner. And that I could never save myself by good works, but that Jesus Christ had to save me. At this point, I threw myself at the Lord’s mercy and cried out that I wanted to be born again.

I did not become aware that this act of faith is what makes one a Christian until later when I fully understood the meaning of salvation.

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Catholicism vs. Biblical Christianity

Further Bible study revealed some shocking differences from what I had been taught as a Catholic.

I could not find anything about monks, nuns, novenas, sacraments, indulgences, etc. Some would insist that these are part of “Catholic Tradition” which, is “sacred.” They would even refer to 2 Thessalonians 3:6 to justify that there is nothing wrong with this tradition.

I would agree, except when “Sacred Tradition” contradicts Sacred Scripture, then it becomes a serious issue, as warned by Jesus Himself in Matthew 15:6.

I discovered that the Catholic doctrine of:

  • salvation contradicts Romans 4:5, Ephesians 2:8-9; and Titus 3:5;
  • Purgatory contradicts 1 John 1:7;
  • confession contradicts 1 John 2:1
  • holy days of obligation contradict Colossians 2:16;
  • the office of the Pope contradicts 1 Peter 5:13;
  • mandatory celibacy for priests contradicts 1 Timothy 4:3;
  • the title for priest contradicts Matthew 23:9;
  • praying to saints contradicts 1 Timothy 2:5;
  • the Mass contradicts Hebrews10:10-18; etc.

It disturbed me that many Roman Catholic priests were speaking in tongues, yet hearing confessions. They were performing miracles, yet they were still teaching about Purgatory.

What was their source of power for the miraculous, I wondered? It could not be the Holy Spirit if they were still preaching a false way to heaven!

Protestantism vs. Biblical Christianity

I also noticed a familiar preaching style among Pentecostals. During my time in the Army at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, I was trained in Psychological Warfare.

I noticed that the same mind control techniques that I was taught to incite riots and rebellion were the same preaching techniques that Pentecostals were using in their sermons to manipulate their congregations. See 2 Timothy 4:3-4.

In addition, as I grew to understand the basic doctrines of sin and salvation, I found other charismatics in direct disagreement with the basic essential doctrines of Biblical Christianity.

They believed that it was possible to lose one’s salvation, which contradicts John 10: 28-29. They also believed that one can rise above sin, which contradicts 1 John 1:8.

Finally, I realized that if charismatics, who claim to be so “filled with the Holy Spirit,” could be in such Scriptural error, then what they had must be another spirit. And that the “full gospel” was “another gospel” (see 2 Corinthians 11:4).

It then became obvious to me that the Charismatic Movement is a clever Satanic move. This is the enemy’s weapon to get people to bypass Calvary and get them to the Upper Room where they can perform the “signs of an apostle” without being truly converted. See Matthew 7:21-23 and 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12.

It is noteworthy that the method, by which the Devil used to bring sin into the world, was to entice Eve to become more spiritual; and he still uses the same tactics today.

The Truth Has Set Me Free

I thank God every day for my deliverance from Romanism and Pentecostalism. I now fellowship and worship in an independent, fundamental, Christ-honoring assembly where the Word of God is our sole authority.

It is only through the true power of the Holy Spirit that I could have been freed from the bondage of all the heresies and unsound teachings to which I had been exposed.

The Lord Jesus promised, “You shall know the TRUTH and the TRUTH shall make you free” (John 8:32). I had sought the Lord since I was a child and God honored my search.

Jeremiah 29:13

Many Roman Catholics may probably think that I have “abandoned my faith” but that’s not the case. In reality, I have forsaken any hope of achieving heaven by my own good works. Instead, have put my trust in the complete and finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I came to believe that Jesus Christ did all the penance for my sins. And the only thing left to do to go to heaven is to have faith in the crucifixion of Christ as a complete atonement for my sins.

In my life without Christ, I had no real peace or joy in my heart. I was a loner and felt very uncomfortable around unfamiliar people. I was extremely insecure and had many fears inside of me that I tried to overcome by being boisterous and aggressive.

Due to the hostile environment of my youth, I was a very angry person and became easily upset with trivial matters.

Living a New Life in Christ

Now, by the abundant grace of God, I find myself being able to build relationships with all types of people. I have become secure in Christ, not in any religion or church. Having the assurance of eternal life and knowing Christ personally as a friend, has given me significance.

It is my prayer, that all who read this may find their security and significance in the Christ of the Bible. Receive God’s gift of eternal life by placing your complete trust in Jesus Christ and look forward to being with Him throughout all eternity.

AMEN.

Your brother in Christ,
Carlo Caputo

How a Husband Models Christ

How a Husband Models Christ

The husband is said to be the head of the family. But as wonderful as that may sound because that means he’s in charge, it also comes with a huge responsibility.

While the wife should submit to her husband, her husband should love her as Christ loved the church.

Bible Verse: Ephesians 5:25

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.”

In his exhortation to Christian husbands, the apostle Paul used the Greek word agape. But why did Paul use this kind of love to describe a husband’s love for his wife? Why did he not use eros, which from the word itself refers to love driven by desire?

This is because agape love has little to do with emotion. Rather, it has much to do with self-denial for the sake of another. In effect, Paul was telling the Christian husband to continually deny himself for the sake of his wife.

God's Love is Unconditional

How to Love Your Wife

I was recently reminded that being a husband is hard. It can feel hard because it feels like I am giving up my needs for my wife. That can be very frustrating at the moment and it is not a good place to dwell in. Those frustrations are feelings based on reality but Jesus feels the same way about the church many times. Many Christians ignore His Word and we do what we want.

This is the reason why the Christian divorce rate is almost the same as the divorce rate of unbelievers. Many times neither the husband nor the wife are following God’s word. Human nature does not love as God wants us to love.

When men do not feel respected or listened to, they most definitely will not want to love. Thus creating a circle of disrespect and a lack of showing love among husbands and wives.

This is where husbands are commanded to remember Jesus and His sacrifice toward His bride, the Church. Christian husbands have the responsibility of modeling Jesus to his family and those around him. The Christian husband must forgive the disrespect and show unconditional love despite their actions as Jesus did.

Love Your Wife Unconditionally

The Bible says that despite our sinfulness and rebellion, Christ loved us. That’s unconditional love, which God demonstrated by sending His Son to die on our behalf (John 3:16, Romans 5:8).

If God loved us unconditionally, husbands should also love their wives unconditionally.

Unconditional love means giving up our expectations when they are not met. This does not happen very often because our sinful nature does not want to give up any of our rights, needs, or expectations.

As men, we are anything but humble. It is human nature to think we are important but we are nothing compared to the importance of Jesus. He created everything and maintains everything (Colossians 1:16-17). Christ empowers whomever He wills and is the master planner of everything.

At times, He allows us to mess up so that we can learn from our mistakes. Yet, He loves us enough to commune with us. He could have let humanity condemn itself to hell but He chose to allow us to be redeemed (Titus 2:11).

Husbands Modeling Christ

Model Christ in Your Marriage

Back to the application of the gospel in marriage, the husband should model Christ’s unconditional love to his wife. But this unconditional love should not be confined within the husband’s immediate family. He must also show unconditional love to the people around him. This is where God exposes our inability to love as God loves us.

I pray that all husbands humble themselves before God so that we would be enabled to live according to the Gospel.

We read the following in Colossians 3:23-24 (NLT).

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward and that the Master you are serving is Christ.”

Closing Words

God is glorified when we live as He directs us in His Word.

As a reward and motivation for obedience to His Word, God will reward husbands who follow His example. We will be given crowns in heaven and a kingdom during the millennium. All things considered, nobody has any concept of how wonderful eternity with the creator of the universe will be.

Don’t you want to hear Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant?”


Recommended Resource: Life According to the Truth by Michael Heilman

Life According to the Truth by Michael Heilman

Publisher’s Description

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

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

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

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

  • Why God must be the key focus of your life
  • How to love God, love others, discern God’s will for your life, and 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.

The Importance of a Quiet Time

The Importance of a Quiet Time

Spending daily quiet time with God is essential for every Christian who wants to grow in their spiritual life. Just like in every relationship, the more time we spend with God, the more intimate we become with Him.

Setting aside time to seek God at the beginning of each day is also important because we do not know what each day may bring. God, on the other hand, knows and sees everything that is bound to take place.

When we make it a daily habit to come to God, we are acknowledging that there is nothing we can accomplish without Him. Spending time with God shows our complete dependence on Him for guidance, protection, and the provision of all our needs.

Why We Should Observe Quiet Time

Can any Christian who fails to maintain a quiet time with God honestly say they can begin the day well, go on well, or end up well?

By nature, we are all weak, ignorant, wayward, sinful, and fearful. Thus, we need strength, wisdom, guidance, restoration, and courage. We can only have all of these by spending time alone with God every day.

Christians who neglect to observe a quiet time often end up living careless lives as they are unable to resist temptations and sinful desires. There’s also the consequent disaster of them getting robbed of their joy in the Lord and usefulness in ministry.

Spending Time Alone with God

We must intentionally reserve and conscientiously keep this “quiet time” period to God. Nothing should get in the way; not the devil, the world, and the flesh. Sure, these three forces will work together to attempt to disrupt our daily program. They will convince us that “there’s no time.” Or that there are more important things we need to do other than seeking God.

But we must make an effort to maintain a daily quiet time with God. Let us defend this time alone with God from all attempts of the enemy to steal it from us.

How to Prepare for the Quiet Time

To prepare for the quiet time, first, we must select the best time for it.

Whether it be in the morning or evening, the same principles apply. The circumstances may vary but we must allocate enough time for breakfast and getting ready for work. Keep in mind that you are reserving the most important part of your day to God.

Second, we must get up on time. Use an alarm clock if you tend to oversleep.

If you have to wake up one or two hours earlier than you usually do, then by all means you should. This may not be as easy as it sounds as it does require determination and self-discipline. Who does not want to sleep in a little bit?

Rising on time is largely dependent on going to bed on time the night before. Instead of binge-watching movies, settle in early for bed so you can also get up early. As Psalm 127:2 says, “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late.” When we cultivate the custom of waking up at a particular time, soon it becomes a habit that yields blessings.

Third, wash up and get dressed.

While some people prefer to be still in their pajamas, having a nice shower thoroughly awakens you. This is to make sure that you will not be half-asleep during the quiet time. Rather, you are at your best physically and mentally to talk with and listen to God.

Observance of the Quiet Time

Observance of the Quiet Time

How long should the quiet time be? It depends. Each Christian must determine for himself/herself how much time they are to devote to God. Suppose we determine that we will spend thirty minutes for our “quiet time,” how do we use this wisely?

These thirty minutes are divided into three: 1) praise and worship, 2) Bible-reading and meditation 3) prayer.

1. Praise and Worship

While many Christians put the reading of the Scriptures first, I prefer to approach God’s throne with songs of praise and worship. It is important to spend the first ten minutes expressing our gratitude and reverence to God through songs.

The Bible tells us that “God inhabits the praises of His people” (Psalm 22:3, KJV). In other translations, we read, “The Lord is enthroned on the praises of His people.” This simply means that when we sing God’s praises, His presence is sure to come down and be with us.

What better way to come to God during the quiet time than with songs of praise, thanksgiving, and worship? When we offer praise, we are not only expressing our gratitude for all that God is doing in our lives. But we are also glorifying God.

There are so many things we need to praise God for. We praise God for giving us His Son and the Holy Spirit. God also continually pours out His blessings, thus, we must give Him the highest praise. Each believer must cultivate the habit of thanksgiving and praise.

Worship, on the other hand, is the heart’s occupation with God Himself. It is the highest occupation of the child of God in this life. And it shall be our service to God for eternity (Revelation 4:11; 5:12). My pastor used to say, “If you do not know how to worship God now, how can you worship God in heaven? The only thing left to do in heaven is worship.”

Thus, with reverence and awe, gratitude and amazement, let us worship God during quiet time.

Praise and Worship During Quiet Time

2. Scripture Reading & Meditation

We spend the next ten minutes reading God’s Word.

Did you know that the average chapter of the Bible can be read within five minutes? If you don’t know where to start, you can set a definite course of reading plan. A good plan includes a chapter each from the Old and New Testaments. Read the New Testament in the morning and the Old Testament in the evening before bedtime.

Read each chapter reverently and prayerfully. Do not rush to finish it; take time to absorb every exhortation and encouragement from God. Reading it audibly will also help you focus and prevents your mind from wandering.

Use the remaining five minutes to meditate on what you just read. Meditation may not be easy at first but it can be developed by practice. As you hear God’s voice, do not hesitate to ask God for spiritual enlightenment.

Pray as David prayed in Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law.”

You may ask questions such as:

  • What is God trying to tell me through this passage?
  • How do I apply the principles I learned from this passage in my life?

3. Prayer

Spend the remaining ten minutes in prayer. But what should we pray about?

First, there should be confession and denouncing of all known sins on our part. Then we must come to God in humility to ask Him for cleansing and forgiveness (1 John 1:9). No one is worthy to approach God’s holy throne all on their own. But because of what Christ has done, we can now come to Him with confidence (Hebrews 4:16; Ephesians 3:12).

Second, there should be supplication for others. We should not only ask God for our personal needs; that’s selfishness on our part. Rather, we must also remember the needs of others and present them to God. 

Quote on Prayer

Christians are called to be intercessors (Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:1-2). We should pray for those in authority over us, our family, relatives, and friends, particularly for the unsaved. Let us also remember in our prayers those who are seeking to preach the Gospel all around the world.

God’s Word tells us, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16, NIV). Indeed, prayer is powerful. Prayer is a mighty force as it moves the hand of Him who moves the world.

Final Words

Maintaining a consistent daily quiet time is of absolute importance to anyone who professes to be a follower of Christ. Thirty minutes each day or a minimum of fifteen minutes is not that long to spend with God. We should not see this as a burden. Rather, let us enjoy every moment that we are face to face with God during our quiet time.

How much time do you set aside for your quiet time? What other activities do you do aside from those that are mentioned here? Was there ever a time that you slacked off and neglected your quiet time?

Please feel free to share your thoughts and experience in the comment section below this article. 

God bless you!


Recommended Resource: Six Secrets to a Powerful Quiet Time: Discovering Radical Intimacy with God by Catherine Martin

Six Secrets to a Powerful Quiet Time: Discovering Radical Intimacy with God  by Catherine MartinAre you enjoying the closeness with God you desire? Have your prayer times transformed your life from the inside out? Do you sense God speaking to you through your Bible reading?

Now you can join Catherine Martin on an exciting 30-day journey to discover how to really have a quiet time.

She provides effective, practical steps you can take to go deeper with God as you discover how to organize your quiet time, learn the revolutionary P.R.A.Y.E.R. Quiet Time Plan, experience interactive quiet times with God, practice journaling and studying God’s Word, and find other helpful resources for enriching your quiet time.

Listen to the longing of your heart.

God’s Prescription for a Healthy Body

God’s Prescription for a Healthy Body

When talking about health and fitness, there are thousands if not millions of books available in every bookstore. But does the Bible have something to say about this subject? Does God have a prescription for a healthy body?

Health enthusiasts believe that the key to a healthy body and a longer lifespan is a healthy lifestyle. But while most people are aware of this, they may not always agree on what defines a healthy lifestyle.

Should we completely eliminate carbs from our diet and eat only proteins and fats? Do we need to exercise daily?

Bible Verses: Proverbs 3:5-8

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.”

This might very well be one of your memory verses.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

In this passage, King Solomon advises his son to trust Yahweh because he knew that God is trustworthy. Solomon experienced first-hand the faithfulness of his LORD. But this is not just some kind of ordinary trust; it’s “trusting God with all your heart.”

To trust God with all your heart means giving God all your conscious trust. It’s not trusting God 50% and trusting yourself 50%. Trusting God with all our hearts means trusting Him completely.

God’s Specific Response

Verses 5-8 is one complete thought.

Yet, most people often pay more attention to verses 5 and 6 since they are very encouraging. We forget that when we follow God’s word, God also responds in specific ways. In this instance, verse 8 is God’s response while verses 5-7 are the conditions for God’s response.

If I would rewrite these verses to make them more understandable they might say something like this:

“Trust in the Lord with all of your motives, and don’t just try to figure life out. In all of your actions consult Him, and He will guide your path. Don’t be haughty: humble yourself before God, and sin not.”

Truth be told, nobody can figure everything out in life anyway. Life is unpredictable and difficult for everyone. Why do we assume we don’t need to consult Him? He has the end written as much as the beginning.

Money indeed makes some things better but it also can burn a hole in anyone’s pockets. Therefore, don’t trust money.

Trust God Above Anything Else

The only being in the entire universe we should trust with everything, including our health, is God. Do you desire to be healthy but no matter how hard you tried, you have repeatedly failed? Why not take it to God?

One day while I was browsing on Facebook, I saw a very encouraging post of a Christian health blogger. In her video, she shared her weight loss struggles for years. It was only when she surrendered it all to God and allowed Him to guide her that she finally succeeded.

Today, she uses her success story to help and encourage others who are struggling to lose weight and achieve a healthy body. She is proof that no amount of determination can compare to the power of God.

Trust God and you will succeed

People will fail you whether you like it or not. That means your attitudes and motives toward life, people, and your choices. But we can win every battle and struggle. We just need to trust God and allow Him to direct us.

God never said it would be easy, but He can enable you and me to do His will.

Trusting God will stop you from planning, acting, and directing your own sinful plans, while humbly consulting God. As a response to trusting God, He will give us health to our body and strength to our bones.

Final Thoughts

I think it is interesting that God gave us this prescription for our own health 3000 years ago. Yet so few people are willing to fill it. They are more willing to spend monumental amounts of money to go to the doctors.

Why take prescriptions that only work half of the time or cause other problems? There are also some possible side effects such as abortion. And what about the pharmaceutical industries that utilize dead babies in those prescriptions? Do you really believe God approves of the worldly medical industry?

Why not follow God’s prescription?


Recommended Resource:

Life According to the Truth by Michael Heilman

Publisher’s Description

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

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

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

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

  • Why God must be the key focus of your life
  • How to love God and love others, discern God’s will for your life and 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.

Living Out Your Heavenly Citizenship

Living Out Your Heavenly Citizenship

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

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

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

Bible Verse: Philippians 3:20, NLT

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

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

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

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

A Heavenly Citizenship

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

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

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

Adan & Eve in the Garden of Eden

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

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

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

How to Live as Citizens of Heaven

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

1. Do Not Live Like the World

Paul said this to the church in Rome:

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Life in Christ

2. Do Not Love the World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friendship with the World

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

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

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

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

It’s a matter of choice!

James 4:4

3. Live as Pilgrims in a Foreign Country

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

Peter kind of echoed what King David said.

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

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

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

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

4. Set Your Hearts & Minds on Heavenly Things

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

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

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

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

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

Billy Graham Quote

Know Your Priorities

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

Are you living as citizens of heaven?

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

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

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

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

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


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

A Place Called Heaven by Robert Jeffress

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

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

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

Perfect for believers or skeptics who are curious about heaven.

Why Did the Religious Leaders Hate Jesus?

Why Did the Religious Leaders Hate Jesus?

Jesus is said to be the most loving and most compassionate person to ever walk the earth. Yet, He was also the most hated person to ever walk the earth. Even the religious leaders of His day hated him more than they hated the actual criminals. Now, why is that?

No one sits and wonders why society despises the wicked, the robber, the rapist, the murderer, etc. That’s completely understandable and justifiable. But I find it troubling when a morally upright person is deemed to be the worst criminal by those who claim to believe in God. What was it about Jesus that earned Him the punishment of crucifixion?

Jesus, the most hated man in history

The Religious Leaders of Jesus’ Time

The indignation of the religious leaders towards Jesus during His time is undeniable. They hated Him so much to the point that they arrested Him, tried Him, and brought Him to Pilate for a death sentence. But what made them so angry at Jesus that they wanted Him dead?

Below are several things about Jesus that outraged them. We will look at each one of them and evaluate if their anger was justified.

The Claims Jesus Made

Jesus made several outrageous claims about Himself. One of which was His claim that He was the Messiah. By claiming to be the long-awaited Messiah, He was saying that His authority outweighed their authority. The religious leaders did not believe any of Jesus’ claims and were angry at the people who believed.

The leaders accused the people of believing Jesus out of ignorance. They were also jealous of the attention that Jesus was getting from the people. The claims Jesus made caused the religious leaders of His day to be indignant towards Him.

John 8:58-59

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

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Jesus Threatened Their Religious System

When Jesus pointed out their hypocrisy in connection to their practices, the religious leaders saw Him as a threat. On two different occasions, Jesus entered the temple precincts and drove out those who were buying and selling (John 2:13-17).

Jesus angered the religious leaders with His claim of authority over the temple. Before Jesus came into the picture, the religious leaders were the respected authority in overall activities in the Temple. They could do all they wanted without anyone questioning their actions. Jesus’ arrival threatened their religious system and angered them to the point that they wanted Him dead.

Jesus Disrespected Their Traditions

One of the things that triggered the religious leaders’ hatred towards Jesus was His lack of respect for their religious traditions. Either Jesus ignored these traditions or He deliberately broke them. This is because He knew that these were man-made and not from God.

One common practice that Jesus violated which caused the most outrage was regarding the Sabbath. God had commanded the Sabbath to be a day of rest from labor. Yet the religious leaders added all kinds of restrictions which made it difficult and impossible to observe.

Jesus was grieved and angry at the way they had perverted the Sabbath observance. He asked the religious leaders several specific questions.

Mark 3:4-5

Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”

In the presence of the religious leaders, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. This healing that Jesus performed on the Sabbath was more than the leaders could endure. Thus, they were convinced that Jesus had to die.

Mark 2:27, NKJV

Jesus Socialized With “Sinners”

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were filled with pride and arrogance. They were particularly proud of not mingling with the outcasts of society. It’s because they did not believe that the Messiah would be with such a crowd. A Pharisee went nuts at the sight of Jesus allowing a woman to wash His feet.

Luke 7:39

Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”

The religious leaders thought of themselves as righteous men who must never associate with sinners. Seeing Jesus socializing with these kinds of people infuriated the proud Pharisees and other religious leaders.

Jesus Performed Miracles

The miracles Jesus performed before them and many on-lookers also angered the religious Jews. After witnessing the healing of a demon-possessed man, some of the multitudes questioned if Jesus could be the Messiah. But the leaders accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of a demon.

Matthew 12:22-24

Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind, and mute; and He healed him so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” 24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”

The miracle was undeniable! The man who was not only deaf and mute but also demon-possessed was healed. But rather than believing Jesus to be the Messiah, these religious leaders attributed His power to the devil.

Since their official explanation for what Jesus did was that His power came from the devil, then He must die.

Jesus Threatened Their Lifestyle

For political reasons, the religious leaders wanted to kill Jesus. There were some ongoing tensions between the ruling Romans and the Jews. Thus, the thought of a Messiah who might lead an uprising against Rome was the last thing the people wanted.

John 11:49-51

And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” Now, this he did not say on his own authority, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation.

Caiaphas was afraid the Romans would intervene if Jesus gained the support of the people. This, among other reasons, is why he insisted that Jesus must die.

Conclusion

The religious leaders’ motive for wanting Jesus dead was not anything godly or righteous. They hated Jesus and wanted to put Him to death because of the above-mentioned reasons.

In the end, it was their pride, arrogance, and hypocrisy that caused them to bring Jesus before Pilate to be crucified. They did not want to hear the truth from God.

Jesus was hated by the world and did not receive Him (John 1:11). And He warned us that because they hated Him first, they would also hate us.

John 15:18-19

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

Many religious people today are easily triggered when a “redeemed” believer dares to point out their wrong beliefs and practices. They tend to become defensive and hostile when told the truth about salvation by grace and not by works.

But no matter how people with a different worldview despises your faith in Christ as your Savior, be patient with them. Keep trying to reach out to them and share God’s gift of salvation. Most of all, keep loving them and praying that they too would come to faith in our Lord Jesus.


Reference:

The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ by Don Stewart

What was the world like into which Jesus came? What were the different political and religious divisions of the Holy Land?

This first section will examine the historical background of the world that saw the coming of Christ as well as some of the important characters that were prominent in the four gospels.

Part 2 The Life And Ministry Of Jesus This section examines some of the key elements of the public ministry of Jesus. Although His public life was for a period of a few short years, He has influenced the course of this world like none other.

In this first section, we will find out why He came to this world, His relationship to the Law of Moses, His miraculous deeds, and His relationship to Bible prophecy.

Part 3 The Betrayal, Trial, And Death Of Jesus The Last Days Of Christ This final section will look at some of the events of the end of the life of Jesus. We consider His betrayal and death. When Jesus was a child the first recorded thing that He uttered was that He must be about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49).

On the cross, Jesus’ final words were, “It is finished.” Jesus announced to the world that He had completed His Father’s business.

God’s Principles of Giving

God’s Principles of Giving

Giving, particularly tithing, is just one of the few subjects that often cause division and conflict within the body of Christ. Although God has laid out clear principles of giving in His Word, many Christians still struggle a lot in this area. Some even go to the extreme of accusing the church leadership of just being interested in money.

Why is it that many Christians seem to have the wrong attitude when it comes to the issue of money? It’s pretty easy for many to get involved in the church ministry and sacrifice their time, gifts, and talents. But when asked to give financially for the works of the Lord, suddenly they become indifferent.

In the same way that money is the engine on which our society runs, the church also needs money to run the Father’s business. Outside of the giving of its members, the church has no source of income.

The Role of Money in Society

5 Biblical Principles of Giving

In both the Old and the New Testaments, we see several principles of giving that help us to see money from God’s perspective. May these five principles enable us to handle God’s blessings in a way that is aligned with His will.

Sometimes, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with God’s abundant favor that we forget to seek God’s guidance on how to use them. We must never forget that God has a purpose for everything and He is in control of all things. At the end of the day, our purpose is to live for God and His glory.

So, here we go …

#1 Principle: God Owns Everything

There is no argument that God is sovereign over everything in heaven and on earth; this is the principle of sovereignty. All things that exist belong to God and God alone (1 Chronicles 29:11).

It was not enough for King David, a noble and successful king, to acknowledge that the entire earth belonged to God. He added that all its fullness also belonged to Him, including the world and those who dwell therein (Psalm 24:1).

Psalm 24:1, NIV

David emphasized the truth that God’s ownership of the earth extends to the people who live upon it. Through the rights of creation and continuing provision, God has a claim upon every person who has ever lived. This includes everything that they own, possess, and will acquire. Can you think of a more sweeping statement of God’s ownership?

So, if God owns everything, what do you have that rightfully belongs to you? Nothing! Nada! God’s sovereignty gives Him the exclusive right to exercise supreme authority over everything. And that extends even to our personal belongings. All that we are and all that we have are His.

You may ask, “How do I honor God’s sovereignty in my giving?”

#2 Principle: We are but Stewards

Although all things belong to our God, He has entrusted us to care for and use His possessions. This is the principle of stewardship. What is required of a steward? Faithfulness!

As stewards, we must be faithful in the way we use God’s talents and treasures inside and outside the church.

In 1 Corinthians 4:1-2, Paul used the image of the steward. A steward is a servant who manages everything for his master, but who himself owns nothing. As caretakers of God’s money and property, we must do well to use them only for His purpose and glory. Thus, we give in support of the needs of the church and the ministry.

Jesus also gave a parable indicating that one day we will give an account to God on how we handled God’s money. Will God find us faithful and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 23). Are you spending the money entrusted to you by God to honor Him and further His Kingdom?

#3 Principle: Sowing and Reaping

When a farmer sows his seed, he may think that he lost it as it fell from his hand into the ground. In the same way, we may feel we are losing money every time we give. But just as the farmer gives the seed in anticipation of a future harvest, we should give with the same expectation. And the better quality of seeds we sow, the greater will the harvest be.

This is the principle of increase that Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians 9:6. We reap in measure as we sow. This principle needs little explanation because we see it operating in everyday life.

The farmer who sows much seed will have a better chance for a bigger harvest. The investor who puts a large sum of money into a company will certainly collect more dividends. As we invest more in the work of the Lord, the more “fruit” will abound to our account.

2 Corinthians 9:6, NLT

Keep in mind that when we give to God, we are never losers. God always rewards the giving heart both now and in eternity. But what do we reap when we sow into God’s Kingdom? We will reap a harvest of blessings, both material and spiritual.

Don’t stop the flow of God’s blessing by disobeying Him in the area of giving.

#4 Principle: God Supplies All Our Needs

In Philippians 4:19, Paul tells the church that God would supply all their needs. Why did Paul believe this? It’s because they met his needs. They call this the supply principle.

The apostle did not see the gifts of the Philippian believers as simply coming from them. He saw it as the supply of his need from heaven. Paul trusted the Lord to provide for his needs and God did through the believers at Philippi.

To paraphrase what Paul said, we might state it this way, “You met my need, God is going to meet yours. You met one need that I have, but my God will meet all your needs. You gave out of your poverty, but God will supply your needs out of His riches in glory.”

There is a direct correlation between God supplying our needs and the liberality with which we supply the needs of others.

2 Corinthians 9:10 also speaks of how God supplies the giver with his own needs and also the means to give to others. As long as God can count on us to supply the needs of others, He will continue to provide for us. God supplies not just our daily needs; He gives excess for us to share with others.

#5 Principle: Our Attitude Towards Giving

This is the principle of sincerity. How do you react every time the offering basket is passed around? Do you often make an excuse to skip this part of the worship service by going to the washroom? Or do you pretend to not know what’s going on? 

I know that many Christians do not believe tithing is commanded in the New Testament. The sad part is that they mock those who do and call them fools for (allegedly) believing their pastor’s lies. I get it; we don’t always see eye to eye when it comes to biblical tithing.

For this reason, I want us to stick to giving in general, whether it be in tithes or in freewill offerings. What attitudes should not characterize our giving? 2 Corinthians 9:7 reads, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Here’s a song by Ron Kenoly to encourage us to be faithful in our giving unto the Lord.

No Grudges nor Reluctance

“Grudgingly” literally means “not in grief.” When we give, we should not be sad nor feel like it’s something painful to do. And after giving, we should not regret having done so and complain or murmur.

Not Out of Necessity or Under Compulsion

Do you give out of pressure or because you feel compelled or manipulated? Or is it because you have been made to feel guilty?

The Jews were required to give under the law. For fear of legal and moral punishment, some of them would grudgingly give what necessity obliged them. What about you?

We Give from the Heart

The Christian attitude and motive in giving or in any other activity for the Lord are vitally important. Our giving must come from the heart, and the motive in the heart must please God. Our giving is to be sincere, heartfelt, and in recognition of God’s abundant provisions in our life.

We must not be “sad givers” who give reluctantly or “mad givers” who give in response to pressure. Rather, we should be “glad givers” who cheerfully share what we have because we have experienced the grace of God.

The believers who are motivated by grace reap the blessings of personal enrichment in their lives and characters.

Proverbs 22:9, NASB

Concluding Words

As we pointed out, God is sovereign over everything and has entrusted us with His properties. God also promised an increase when we sow our seeds and will supply all our needs exceedingly so we can share with others. Finally, God is concerned about our character in giving.

You might ask, “If the two negative attitudes mentioned in 2 Corinthians 9:7 characterize me, is it better for me not to give?” For sure many would say, “Yes, you should not give if it’s not from your heart.” However, I’d say we should not stop supporting the work of God. 

Instead, we should keep obeying God in this area of giving and ask Him to change our attitude. It may hurt at first to give sacrificially into the ministry. But this should not deter us from continually doing what is morally right.

Whenever we purpose in our hearts the amount of seed that we sow into God’s fertile soil, may we consider these five biblical principles of giving.

God bless us all!


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

Recommended Resource: The Grace of Giving: A Biblical Study of Christian Stewardship by Stephen F. Olford

The Grace of Giving: A Biblical Study of Christian Stewardship by Stephen F. Olford

Financial giving is a topic that many people don’t openly discuss. It is also a topic that many Christians misunderstand and undervalue.

With a solid perspective, Dr. Olford has penned a comprehensive, honest, and deeply perceptive study of financial stewardship that will help many in understanding this important topic.

Becoming God’s Own Children

Becoming God’s Own Children

One of the greatest blessings of the Christian experience is adoption (Ephesians 1:5). First, we become God’s children by regeneration (John 3:3; John 1:12). And then we are adopted into God’s family when God gives us the Holy Spirit as a seal of His ownership over us.

When a sinner trusts in Christ as Lord and Savior, he starts as a spiritual baby who needs to grow (1 Peter 2:2-3). But as far as his position is concerned, he is an adult son who can draw on the Father’s wealth.

Our Relationship with God

In one of my posts, I said that “adoption focuses more on the personal relationships that salvation gives us with God.” We are not just little children but adult sons (and daughters) of our heavenly Father.

But what does it mean to have a father-child connection with God?

The Bible mentions several ways in which our relationship with God is truly a father-child connection. These are in contrast with that of a slave or servant.

The Same Nature as God’s

As children of God, we have the same nature as the Father, but the servant does not.

When we trust Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us, and this means we “share His divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

The law could never give a person the nature of God within. All it could do was reveal to the person his desperate need for God’s nature. So, when the believer goes back into law, he is denying the very nature within. Also, he is allowing the old nature (the flesh) to go to work.

New Creation in Christ

We have become new creatures through the ministry of reconciliation brought about by the works of Christ. Our old, sinful nature is gone and all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).

Since we have God’s nature within, we need to have an appetite for that which is pure and holy. Our behavior ought to be like that of the Father. We ought to live in that kind of spiritual environment that that is suited to our nature. We ought to associate with that which is true to our nature (2 Corinthians 6:14).

Not Orphans

The servant does not have a father; believers in Christ do.

No servant or slave could ever call his master, “Father.” When a sinner trusts Christ, he receives the Holy Spirit who tells him that he is a child of God (Romans 8:15-16). It is natural for a baby to cry, but not for him to talk to his father.

However, when the Holy Spirit comes to indwell a believer, He cries out, “Abba Father.” In response, the believer cries, “Abba Father” (Romans 8:15).

The word “Abba” is an Aramaic word that is the equivalent of our English word “papa.” This shows the closeness of the child to the father. No servant or slave has this kind of relationship with his master.

What a blessing to be able to call God, “Abba Father!” Christians no longer have to worry even though they do not have a physical father. God as our Father is more than enough. He promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us. We are no longer orphans, hallelujah!

Obey Out of Love

While a servant obeys his master out of fear, God’s children obey out of love.

The Holy Spirit works in the heart of the believers to quicken and increase their love for God. One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer is to produce love (Galatians 5:22; Romans 5:5).

Throughout John’s description of the Last Supper, we can’t help but notice the repetition of the word love. If we treasure God’s Word and obey it, then the Father and the Son will share their love with us and make their home in us.

Obedience is Proof of Our Love for God

As the believer yields to the Father, loves the Word, prays, and obeys, his relationship and experience with God will go deeper. If we love God and obey Him, He will manifest His love to us in a deeper way each day.

The Judaizers told the Galatians that they would become better Christians by submitting to the law. But the law can never produce obedience. Only love can do that (John 14:15). When we love, we obey!

God’s Children are Rich

The child of God is rich, while the servant is poor.

As children, God has made us His heirs and we have become co-heirs with Christ (Galatians 4:7; Romans 8:16-17). And since we are adopted – placed as adult sons in the family – we may begin drawing our inheritance right now.

Everything in heaven and on earth belongs to God, thus, He holds the right to all of it. And since we are God’s children, we are co-owners of all that God owns. We are rich because our heavenly Father is rich.

Now, this does not necessarily mean that every Christian is living a very comfortable life. God wants us to enjoy abundant life. He came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10b). Nevertheless, a life of plenty does not always mean owning a mansion or having a fat bank account or being able to travel around the world.

We need to keep in mind that riches are not limited to the kind that the world has to offer. God’s riches are more than just money or wealth.

God has made available to us the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7; 2:7) and the riches of His glory (Philippians 4:19). As children of God, we also get to enjoy the riches of His goodness (Romans 2:4) and the riches of His wisdom. Above all these, all the riches of God are found in Christ, our Lord, and Savior (Colossians 1:19; 2:3).

What it Means to be Blessed

A Bright Future

God’s children have a bright future, while the servant does not.

While many kind masters do provide for their slaves in old age, they were not required to. But the father always provides for his son (2 Corinthians 12:14).

As children of God, we will never experience lack because the Lord is our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1). Jesus is adequate for our every need.

We do not have to worry about tomorrow because our heavenly Father is in charge. He promised to take care of our daily needs; we just need to trust Him (Matthew 6:34). Worrying about tomorrow does not help either tomorrow or today. If anything, it robs us of our effectiveness today – which means we will be even less effective tomorrow.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by fear and despair because of all the things that are happening today. The chaos that we see around us may very well find a way to steal our hope and cause us to doubt God’s promise of a bright future. But we need to hold on to the hope that we profess because He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).

Conclusion

God Almighty is not just our Creator; He is also our Father. This father-child relationship that we have with God allows us to come to Him anytime, anywhere without any hesitation.

Each of us can experience the profound truth that the apostle John expressed. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1a)!

God is your Father, you are His child. Your heavenly Father loves you, cares so much about you, wants to bless you, and is preparing a bright future for you. Never let the enemy convince you into believing otherwise.


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:

Adopted by God: Discover the Life-Transforming Joy of a Neglected Truth by Barton Priebe

Adopted by God: Discover the Life-Transforming Joy of a Neglected Truth by Barton Priebe

Every Christian has been adopted into God’s family. Yet, the great truth of what adoption means has been neglected throughout history and overshadowed by other truths.

In Adopted by God you’ll discover—perhaps for the first time—the life-transforming joy that comes from being adopted as God’s cherished son or daughter.

Through clear biblical teaching and stories from the Priebe family’s journey in adopting their son from China, this book will:

  • Explain what it means to be adopted by God
  • Increase your assurance of God’s acceptance and love
  • Provide you with the strength to face the most difficult trials in life
  • Equip you to gain victory over sins in your life
  • Enable you to relate to others in ways that heal the wounds of racism, sexism, and loneliness

Discover adoption. Encounter joy. Experience transformation.

Our God is a Mighty Fortress

Our God is a Mighty Fortress

Being a Christian does not mean we are free from troubles and problems. There will come a time when we would need a fortress, a place of refuge, to survive the storm. What a comfort to know that God is not only our refuge and strength. He is also always ready to help in times of trouble.

Bible Verse: Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV)

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”

Psalm 46 begins with the poet depending on God for help in difficult times and finding it. So, he could say these things with confidence:

  • God alone is my refuge!
  • God alone is my strength!
  • God is my ever-present help in trouble!

Be still and know that I am God

A Mighty Fortress is Our God

Martin Luther, a leader in the Reformation, wrote the powerful words, “A mighty fortress is our God a bulwark never failing. Our helper He, amid the flood, of mortal ills prevailing.”

Luther faced death threats from the pope for his opposing view that salvation is by grace through faith alone. He went into hiding for 11 months in Wartburg Castle. He was pressured from every side to back down but he stood firmly for the truth.

Whenever fear and discouragement struck, he would encourage his friend and co-worker to sing the 46th psalm. He wrote, “We sing this Psalm to the praise of God because God is with us. He powerfully and miraculously preserves and defends His church and His word, against all fanatical spirits, against the gates of hell, against the implacable hatred of the devil, and all the assaults of the world, the flesh, and sin.”

Whatever problems rage against us, know that God is our mighty fortress. God’s Spirit is the ever‑flowing river that sustains us and gives us gladness even while we’re under siege.

When Trouble Strikes the Godly

The word trouble describes people in tight places, in a corner, and unable to get out. But there is no problem (physical, emotional, or spiritual) that is too big for our God. If we will learn to trust God and take refuge in Him, we can tackle even the most difficult crisis with confidence. It’s because God is with us and we can confidently lean on Him alone for strength.

The psalmist mentions catastrophic and troubling global changes: storms, severe earthquakes, and wars (Psalm 46:2-3, 6, 9). Yet, he says all things are in the control of our sovereign Lord. The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge (Psalm 46:10-11).

Hebrews 11:35-38 talks about all the terrible trials that faithful Christians have to face. God does not always prevent bad things from happening to His people. But when trouble strikes, we don’t have to seek help somewhere else. God will enable us to face every storm of life head-on.

Be Fearless in God’s Refuge

In 2 Chronicles 32, Hezekiah led the men in digging a 1,777 feet long tunnel, passing to the Gihon Spring in Kidron Valley. The clear, cool water of the spring flowed inside the walls of Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah completely covered the spring to keep the enemy from finding it (2 Chronicles 32:1-6).

As the Assyrians stood in the sweltering heat every day, they kept waiting for the people of God to surrender. Inside the walls, the people did not panic or fear because they knew that God’s refuge would stand.

“Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:7-8).

When the Assyrian officials threatened Jerusalem, Isaiah told the king, “Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me” (2 Kings 19:6). Inside the fortress, God provided for the Israelites’ needs by supporting them with a river.

In the same way, we need not be fearful when faced with a catastrophe. God is bigger than our problems. In the worst disaster that we can imagine, we can always have immediate comfort with God who is our refuge and strength.

God Never Fails

Some people place their trust in wealth, but money can never buy happiness. Others trust knowledge, but the smartest minds cannot agree on the simplest things. Some trust the military for protection, but there is no perfect peace. Still, others trust the company they work for to provide long-term security, but there is no such security.

God is our refuge and strength. We do not have to fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. When we search for answers, He will provide them. When we need shelter, He will provide it. When we need protection, He will provide it.

Believers in Christ have a very present help in trouble. Standing at the cross of Calvary is the Lamb of God with His nail-pierced hands extended. He is our Rock and our Fortress (Psalm 18:2; 31:3; 71:3). He will provide for us a refuge in the storms of life.

God is faithful and He never fails!

Conclusion

The Christian life is not a trouble-free life. Many false teachers may claim that it is God’s will for every believer in Jesus to enjoy a perfect life. But the Bible teaches no such thing. It’s not that God will exempt us from trouble but that God is our help in trouble.

Luther’s song ended with these words, “Let goods and kindred do, this mortal life also. The body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still; His kingdom is forever.”

When we feel as though life is falling on top of us, we need to run to God’s refuge. Inside we will find safety, security, and love in His shelter that will survive any storm.


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:

God’s Prayer Book: The Power and Pleasure of Praying the Psalms by Ben Patterson

God's Prayer Book by Ben Patterson

There is no better place in all of Scripture than the Psalms to learn to be with God and see with the eyes of faith the face of the One who longs to form us fully in his image.

The psalms often stretch and perplex as they teach, but they open a divine window on prayer. How could it be otherwise?

The Psalms are God’s prayer book, and they teach us to talk to God in His own language.

Features meditations for more than 75 psalms, arranged in numerical order, Scripture, and topical indexes.

Each devotional includes the complete text of the Psalm(s) from the New Living Translation, a “devotional window” (brief meditative thoughts and/or background on the Psalm), a prayer route (one or more key phrases or verses from the Psalm, followed by suggested ways to use the Psalm in prayer).

Is Love Your Greatest Motivation?

Is Love Your Greatest Motivation?

Many people say that they will do almost anything and everything for the people they love. Are you one of them? Is love your greatest motivation for your actions? What about those who kill themselves or others for love?

Bible Verse: 2 Corinthians 5:14a

For the love of Christ compels us.”

What Love Can Do

There is no doubt that John Denver is one of the greatest singers of all time. He started his singing career in the 1970s with folk music. Four years later, he became one of America’s best-selling performers.

If you are a John Denver fan, you must be familiar with his songs which are mostly about love. There’s “Perhaps Love,” “Falling Out of Love,” “Is it Love,” “Love is Everywhere,” and “Love Again” just to name a few.

I think it’s interesting that John Denver knew that “love is the greatest motivation to bring peace to this world.”  I don’t know if he was born again or not because he kept repeating that showing love can bring peace to this world. But as good as that may sound, retribution does not bring peace. 

God's Love for the World

God Demonstrated True Love

Is everyone capable of love? We’re all created in the image of God and love is one of God’s eternal characters. So yes, we all know how to love. The more important question is, can we love with the kind of love that God has for us? Probably not! We may not even know what love is according to God’s definition.

Our problem is God has already defined what love is, which is impossible to imitate without His help. We cannot love the same way God does without Him enabling us. And it takes humility on our part to be able to do it. Unless we humble ourselves before God and admit our inability to love like Him, we are not able to love like Him. 

That was part of the reason why Jesus came to earth to die and rise again. We were all bound to be separated from God for all eternity because of sin. But God loves us so much that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Jesus did not only give us the commandment to love, He showed us how to do it (John 13:34).

Experiencing the Love of God

Since Christians have experienced that love, God tells us to go live like that love is real and true.  As 2 Corinthians 5:15 implies, we can only live like it is real and true by living for God. This includes glorifying God in everything we do (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Glorify God In All You Do

Another way of showing our love for God is by obeying His Word and commandments (John 14:15). Just to get things straight, we don’t obey God so that He will love us. Rather, we obey God because we love Him. As one Bible teacher said, “When we love, we obey.” Love should be our greatest motivation to obey God and His commandments.

Do you ever find it difficult to obey God? You should not because God’s commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3

How well do we know God’s instructions for our life?  How often do we worship and learn what His Word says? Have we all experienced God’s love and received His free gift of salvation?  If not, why not ask Him for it now? 

Loving Others As God Loves Us

If we are going to live out His Word, because it is the Truth, shouldn’t we be loving others as Matthew 22:37-39 and Luke 10:27 says? 

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus has silenced the Sadducees, they came to Him to test Him. They asked Jesus which is the most important commandment in the Law of Moses. In reply, Jesus told them of the first and greatest commandment “to love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.”

But He did not stop there. Jesus went on to say that the second commandment is “to love your neighbor as yourself.” First of all, I do not know of anyone who does not love himself/herself. People take really good care of themselves because they love themselves. We exercise and practice a healthy lifestyle because we love ourselves.

If it’s love that motivates us to do all these things for ourselves, love should also motivate us to want others to be saved. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you wouldn’t want them to depart from this earth without Christ, right?

Loving Others Can be Uncomfortable

Loving others can take many different forms but it can be very difficult or uncomfortable. I know many Christians that do not know how or even want to give the Gospel to other people. If they don’t get saved, they will spend eternity in hell, do you want that blood on your hands (Ezekiel 3:18)? 

The Second Greatest Commandment

I get it; people can be hostile because they don’t want to acknowledge their sinfulness. Your closest friends might hate you; they may even cut ties with you once you start telling them their need for Jesus. But it is more loving to tell someone the good news even when they do not like it than to let them be lost knowing that God could save them.

Jesus died to save all sinners. That includes the people you know. Are you willing to kill your selfish desires to bring others to Jesus?  Do you love them enough to share what Christ has done on the cross to save them from sin?

Final Thoughts

God sacrificed His Son so that we do not have to suffer eternal torment in hell. Christ left His throne in heaven. He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8). God did not have to do any of these but He did. Jesus almost couldn’t bear the thought of being separated from His Father, causing Him to cry in anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane.

But Jesus endured the cross because He knew that His sacrifice would mean reconciliation between God and man (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). Love is God’s greatest motivation for sending His only son to suffer and die for us. Our Lord gave His life to be the ultimate sacrifice for sin so that we might live with Him for all eternity.

It’s all about love. Love should be the greatest motivation for Christians to obey God and to get others to trust in Jesus as their Savior.

Love requires sacrifice. How much are you willing to sacrifice for God and others?


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

Recommended Resource:

The Essential Commandment: A Disciple’s Guide to Loving God and Others by Greg Ogden

The Essential Commandment: A Disciple's Guide to Loving God and Others by Greg Ogden

Is it really possible to live out the Great Commandment? Jesus thinks it is. And with Jesus, Ogden has found, it is possible–and essential.

In this practical, in-depth handbook, Ogden draws from his years of pastoral experience training and discipling others to help us truly be changed by Christ into people who love God and love others with all that we are.

Following the format of his bestselling Discipleship Essentials, each chapter includes:

  • a core truth
  • a memory verse
  • an inductive Bible study
  • reading on one aspect of the Great Commandment

Thoughtful questions will also help you examine your heart and life and move you to open yourself to God’s transforming work. Above all, Ogden helps you see that the Great Commandment is actually a great invitation to join God in bringing His kingdom to earth.

And as you learn to do so, you’ll find that the greatest commandment leads to the greatest life possible.