What does the Bible say heaven will be like?

Heaven comes Down

When the Apostle John was writing the Book of Revelation, he wasn’t unveiling his own ideas or thoughts, but those of Jesus Christ Himself (Rev 1:1-2), so if we read the Book of Revelation, we’re reading Jesus Christ’s revelation and not Johns, so one of the first facts about heaven is not that it’s up, but that heaven comes down. John writes that he “saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:1-2). Many believe that heaven is up or heaven is somewhere unknown but for the believer, heaven will come down to the earth and be established as a kingdom without end (Isaiah 9:6), but if a person dies before the New Jerusalem comes down, then they are still in the presence of the Lord, and to me, being present with the Lord will be heaven anyway. The Apostle Paul is like most of us in that we “would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2nd Cor 5:8). Paul was saying “that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord” (2nd Cor 5:6), and most of us would rather be with the Lord than with anyone else or at any other place.

Eternal Life in the Kingdom

The author of Hebrews (most believe it is Paul who wrote this) says of the many heroes and heroines of the faith died before the received any of the promises (Heb 11), and so too might we pass away before we see Jesus’ triumphant return, but even if we do, we know that not one of God’s great and precious promises will ever fail (2nd Pet 1:1-4). These Old Testament saints “all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (Heb 11:13). Now, they have received their just reward and are with the Lord right now, so not one of those promises from God will fail. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). Jesus has resurrection power in His Word, just as He said, “Lazarus, come out” (John 11:43) and Lazarus came forth, even though he was dead for four days. In the kingdom, death will be no more (Rev 21:4) but neither will there be pain, suffering, sorrow, anymore as God will wipe away ever tear from their eyes. We can be as sure as Paul was “that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39).

God with Man

We have seen that death will end in the kingdom but so will suffering and pain, and what remains is the everlasting joy of the Lord by being in His presence. Can you imagine seeing Jesus Christ for the very first time in your life? Surely, the greatest joy will not be receiving eternal life as it will be in seeing the very face of God. The Apostle John writes, “the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Rev 21:3) and we finally “will see his face” (Rev 22:4) and see what Jesus Christ looks like. Jesus was called “Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14) which means “God with us” just as Matthew wrote, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us)”(Matt 1:23). I cannot think of any greater reward in the kingdom than to be with the King of that kingdom, Jesus Christ. That’s what we all look forward too.

Life in the New Jerusalem

An angel gave John a glimpse of the coming kingdom and wrote the angel showed him “the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Rev 22:1-2). By then, “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him” (Rev 22:4), and then, “night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Rev 22:5). The New Jerusalem will be indescribable beauty as the “wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald” (Rev 21:18-19). The gates were made of pearl and the streets made of gold (Rev 21:21). As John beheld the New Jerusalem, he saw that the “city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations” (Rev 21:23-27).

Conclusion

The Bible describes heaven as actually being the New Jerusalem that will come down out of heaven and at that time, we will finally be with the Lord and see His face (rev 21:3, 22:4), and sorrow, pain, suffering, and even death will finally be no more (Rev 21:4). To try and describe heaven is impossible because even John didn’t understand everything that he saw but he knew enough to know that it is an everlasting kingdom and one that will be absent from sin as John writes that “nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev 21:27). Can it be any better than that? I would say, no!

Why Does God Allow Us To Suffer?


Why does God allow such suffering in the world? Is there a purpose behind pain?

A Fallen World

The primary reason that there is suffering in the world is that Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and thus, broke the command to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They decided for themselves what is good and what is evil. They thought they knew better than God and listened to the serpent (Satan), and choose to do what is right in their own eyes. This is a bad plan because the Bible teaches that “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart” (Prov 21:2), and just as it was in the time of the judges in Israel where “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25), so it is today. Apart from God, we believe we know best, but history has proven this is false. All we have to do is to look at the world today and see how that turned out. When we or anyone chooses to go their own way and not God’s way, the proverb is right in saying “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice” (Prov 12:15).

Atheists on Suffering

I can’t count all the times when unbelievers have said, “If there is a God, then why does He allow suffering? If He’s all-powerful, why doesn’t He stop it? If He doesn’t, then He’s a cruel God. And if He can’t stop it, then He’s not all-powerful?” My response is, “Okay, let’s say there is no God. Guess what? You’ve still got suffering and you’ve still got evil? Who’s responsible now? Mankind is!” Our world is fallen because we’re motivated by what historians call the “bottom line,” which history has shown is money. This world is under the pulls of the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life, and it’s like everyone’s out for themselves. This same unholy trinity (the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life) that brought down this world in the Garden, is bringing the world down even further into the pit of hell, which is a separation from God.

Why Suffering?

I knew a man years ago who had a debilitating disease. He was suffering so much that he wanted to die. When someone shared the gospel with him and spoke of how much Jesus suffered (Isaiah 53) so that we might have eternal life, it made him think of God for the very first time. This man’s suffering broke him and made him see how useless life was outside of the sovereign will of God. If not for this man’s suffering, he might not be a Christian today. This experience humbled him and God can only give His grace to the humble because He resists or is opposed to the proud (James 4:6).

The Apostle Peter on Suffering

Every person who has ever lived has suffered in one way or another. There isn’t a human being alive or dead who’s not gone through some form of pain and suffering, but the question is, “What will we do with it?” Suffering can make us bitter…or it can make us better. If you want to know about suffering, I strongly suggest you turn to the 1st Book of Peter who wrote more about suffering than any other author in the Bible (18 times!), and he wrote that it “is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly” (1st Pet 2:19). In regards to suffering, it is “to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1st Pet 2:20), which footsteps refer to Jesus Christ, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1st Pet 3:18). Have you suffered a lot? Are you suffering right now? Peter tells you that “after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1st Pet 5:10).

Trial by Fire

We know that fire is symbolic of God’s judgment, but sometimes fire is good thing. For one thing, fire removes the impurities from gold, and in similar fashion, our fiery trials remove the impurities from our life. At least they should. Peter again writes, “do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1st Pet 4:12-13), “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (1st Pet 4:19).

Storms of Life

There are many reasons that God allows suffering, and for the children of God, it’s always good. There are storms of affection (because He loves you), there are storms of direction (making us take a different path than the one we’re on), there are storms of perfection (as Peter said, we can share in Jesus’ sufferings), and there are storms of reflection (making us examine our lives). Finally, suffering purifies our faith (1st Pet. 1:7), sorrow keeps us in a humble attitude (2nd Cor. 7:10), trials allow us to fellowship with Jesus (Phil 3:10), to be partakers of His sufferings (1st Pet. 4:13), and so that we might reign with Him (2nd Tim. 2:12). Our suffering is really nothing compared to what Jesus endured, but ultimately, this will all make sense at His appearance (1st Pet. 1:7, Rom 8:18), as “Our light affliction is but for a moment, works (this is a verb, an action) in us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2nd Cor. 4:17).

Conclusion

There are so many things about suffering that we can’t grasp in this life. Someday, it will all make sense. For today, we can see some of the reasons that God allows us to suffering, but knowing God is good, we understand that there is nothing that happens to us or others that will not work out for our (and their) very best (Rom 8:28). We simply have to remember that. Since God is for us, so who can be against us (Rom 8:31), even if we’re suffering or someone we know and/or love is suffering too?

4 Good Reasons to Read Your Bible Daily.

Here are four reasons you need to read your Bible every day. What ones could you think of to include?

There’s Power in God’s Word

I have no power, but the Word of God does. In fact, Paul writes that “it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). We also know that “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:12-13). Like a surgeon’s knife, the Word cuts; but it cuts in order to heal.  Why not tap into that power source?

There’s Power to Resist Sin in God’s Word

The Word of God can help us resist temptation and not cave into sin, as the psalmist declares, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). In other words, if we store up or memorize Scripture, it helps us to avoid sin. You could read this Scripture like this: “I have memorized the Word of God so that I am more able to resist temptation and not sin against God.” God declares that “my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). That is God’s guarantee.

There’s Peace in God’s Word

There is no peace in this world. In today’s tumultuous world, there is peace that can only be found by reading God’s Word. Paul writes that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7), so “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful” (Galatians 3:15). Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

There’s Direction in God’s Word

I heard a joke the other day that the shin bone is a device that helps you find furniture in the dark–so true.  So why not use God’s Word to illuminate your path in this life? God’s “word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105), and “this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life” (Proverbs 6:23). Have you ever been on a dark path at night? Isn’t a light just what you need to keep from stumbling and to keep you on the right path? Peter wrote that “you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).

Conclusion

Tap into the power that is only found in God’s Word. There is peace to be found in reading His Word. There is direction to guide us like a light in the darkness in the way that we should go. There is power to resist temptation and avoid sin, and this power source is your best resource in life. Why not use it?

Lesson from the Ants

“Go to the ant, you sluggard, consider her ways, and be wise.” Prov. 6:5.

Be active

The ants build their anthill against a tree on the north and east side, facing the sun. This is the best possible way for the anthill to stay warm. Early in the morning, as soon as the sun rises, the ants start to work.  All the ants’ paths lead to the anthill; every ant works as much as it can. If a twig is too big for one ant, several of them will come to help and carry it to the anthill.

Idleness leads to laziness, and laziness causes want. Watch the ants and observe their ways. First the natural, then the spiritual. “Even though they have no chief, officer or ruler, they prepare their food in the summer and gather their provisions in the harvest.”Proverbs 6:7-8.

Work with diligence

It is blessed to work with your hands and with the spirit. There is much food in the fallow ground of the poor. The foolish virgins begged oil from the wise virgins. That is the fate of those who are lazy. They end up begging.  The foolish virgins had failed to gather oil in their vessels. They were lazy. Naturally speaking, you have to be diligent to gather provisions, and it does not take any less diligence when it comes to gathering spiritual food. Poverty comes upon a lazy person like an armed man, like a prowler. The lazy man regards work as a plague, completely insurmountable—like a strong man who is armed with a shield. What an awful state to come into!

The ant hill and the temple

In the church, too, all paths lead to the anthill—that is, to the spiritual temple that is being built; for we are being built up together with the others into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Let all things be done for edification. Be active in building up the kingdom of God. If a stick is too heavy for your brother, then pitch in and help him carry it. Not everybody is a minister of the Word, but everybody can be a servant of God when the temple is to be built. We have no ruler, officer or chief; neither does the ant, and yet the work is carried out quickly. The ants build lawfully according to an inner drive and motivation. That is how it should be.

“How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep—so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.” Proverbs 6:9-11.

Hagai 1:9

 9  You were looking for much, and it came to little; and when you got it into your house, I took it away with a breath. Why? says the Lord of armies. Because of my house which is a waste, while every man takes care of the house which is his.

 10  For this cause the heaven over you is kept from giving dew, and the earth from giving her fruit

What Are Some Biblical Reasons To Fast

What are some biblical reasons to fast? What are reasons why you to need fast?

Break Addictions

The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) was the only feast day on the Jewish calendar that required fasting. It was a very holy day for the nation as it represented the atonement of the people, with the high priest having placed the guilt of their sins on the Azazel goat which was then sent off into the wilderness. It was their way to be cleansed, but of course, the very next day, they (like we) sinned. Some people who are striving to overcome their addictions use fasting, and that’s a very good idea. It seems they are more able to concentrate on their utter dependence upon God when they fast, and they know that they cannot do anything except through Christ (John 15:5; Phil 4:13) to overcome in this life. Some of the strongest addictions that are known to man have been broken by prayer and fasting, but we must confess that “apart from [Jesus we] can do nothing” (John 15:5). It is a cooperative work. It takes God’s Spirit and our sweat, but for sure, “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure”(Phil 2:13). Without God’s help, we would be totally helpless against addictions. In our own strength, we cannot do much of anything, but prayer and fasting can help, but this alone may not break it. It may require intercessory prayer too, but above all, it takes the Spirit of God, and that’s where the dynamic power of His Spirit comes in. He creates a new heart in us (2 Cor 5:17), and one with new desires. As you can read from the Apostle Paul’s experience (Rom 7), it doesn’t happen overnight. We will never be sinless this side of the kingdom, but over time, we’ll be sinning less. That’s called sanctification, and it’s done by the Spirit.

“To let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6).

Repent from Sins

One of the primary ways we respond to deep, painful sins and their consequences is to pray and fast, but sometimes we fast for the wrong reasons, and it’s often to try and force God’s hand to do something for us. Isaiah the Prophet wrote, Sponsored, “Why have Fast you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers”(Isaiah 58:3). They think they fast to humble themselves and to be seen by God, but they still continued to “oppress all [their] workers,” or employees, so God tells them that “you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high” (Isaiah 58:4). God expresses His righteous indignation against this kind of fasting, asking them, “Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord” (Isaiah 58:5)? Obviously, God will not accept this kind of prayer and fasting if we continue to oppress anyone or treat anyone unfairly. These are certainly the wrong reasons to pray and fast.

Break Every Yoke

A better reason to fast is to break free from sin. Again, Isaiah the Prophet asks, “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6)? Yes it is! That’s an acceptable reason to God for prayer and fasting. If it’s intended “To break free from every yoke,” and “to let the oppressed go free,” then God will respond to that kind of prayer and fasting. It won’t be because they’ve forced His hand to help them, but rather because they show God they are serious about overcoming their sins and loving their neighbors as themselves. Fasting is like, “I don’t care about me Lord, and I don’t about my hunger….I only care about You Lord.”

Mourn for a Season

David was desperate and was praying and fasting that God would spare the child’s life.

When David’s infant son was sick and lay dying, David fasted. It wasn’t like he thought, “I’m going to try and be more spiritual and fast and move the hand of God to save my child’s life,” but rather, David was desperate and was praying and fasting that God would spare the child, so in this case, David’s fasting was just natural. When we’re mourning over something or someone, we naturally lose our appetites, so fasting during times of mourning is normal, and I would say healthy. Food is one of the last things on your minds when you’re heartbroken over some tragedy or death in the family. This is why David “sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground” (2 Sam 12:16). Even though “the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground…he would not, nor did he eat food with them” (2 Sam 12:17), but notice that after the child died, “David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate” (2 Sam 12:20). David’s servants were confused. Apparently they didn’t know when the proper time to fast was and when the time was past. The attendants asked David, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food” (2 Sam 12:21). They just didn’t get it! David told them, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live” (2 Sam 12:22), but when the child died, David knew this was the will of God and he accepted it. David was fine with God’s sovereignty, so there was no more reason to fast at that time.

Conclusion

Maybe you have other reasons to fast. It’s fine to fast for health reasons, although I urge you to speak to your doctor about this first. He may know something you don’t, and suggest you start out slowly, like by skipping one meal. Diabetics can fast from other things, like from the media. For example, take a day and fast from the news, the Internet, your computer, or something else you typically do and then replace it with Bible reading and prayer. When you combine prayer, fasting, and Bible reading, the Scriptures can come alive like at no other time. Scripture can almost jump off the page when you read it, but whatever reason you fast for, make sure you have medical clearance to do so from your doctor, and if you’ve never fasted, start slowly. Maybe you can still drink water when you’re fasting. Some fast but still drink water…others abstain from both. Whatever you do, fasting can be a helpful spiritual tool in humbling us before God, for breaking free from certain bonds, and for letting the oppressed go free (Isaiah 58). We know that God gives His grace to the humble, but we also know He doesn’t give it to the proud (James 4:6). Fasting will strip the pride right out of us, and that’s always a good thing.

We find Falling In Love With God More Difficult than Falling in Love With Men & Women. But Try These Ways.

How can a Christ-follower fall even more deeply in love with God? Here are four ways I suggest that we can, and maybe you can add another.

Pouring Out Thanksgiving

Did you know that the only freewill offering in the Old Testament that was voluntary was that of thanksgiving to God (Lev. 22:29)? It makes sense. Why would God command an offering of thanksgiving? Would we feel the same if we were commanded to give thanks to God and not doing so voluntarily, out of a thankful heart? Surely, we have so much to be thankful for–our daily bread; His Word, the Bible; His daily provisions; our family; and, most of all, our salvation–because the Father placed His wrath on His sinless Son, which was what we deserved. He gave us the free gift of eternal life (Rom. 6:23) that we could have never earned in a billion lifetimes (Eph. 2:8-9). The thanksgiving offering was also called the “Fellowship Offering” (Lev. 7:12), which is interesting since after we’ve repented and trusted in Christ, we can have fellowship with Him (1 John 1:6-7).

Dwell on the Cross

If we had all been eyewitnesses to that day when Jesus died on the cross, I think our love for the Savior would be so much greater. We can still be there in our minds’ eyes. To hear Jesus say “Father, forgiven them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34) must have astounded those who heard Him. It is still incredible to me. Imagine Jesus asking God to forgive them for something as utterly terrible as what they did to Him. I can’t wrap my finite mind around such an amazing act of love. Jesus had earlier said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13), and that’s just what He did. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6), of whom I am chief among.

Abide in His Word

Jesus said in John 15:5, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing,” and “nothing” is not a little something since we can’t even do anything apart from abiding in Christ. Jesus stated as fact, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). His Word is the Bible, and He is the Word (John 1:1, 14), so we should seek to abide in it. We know that the Gospel has the very power of God for salvation (Rom. 1:16), and He promises, “My word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). So you can fall deeper in love with God by falling deeper into His Word. It is a cause and effect principle.

Obey His Word

Jesus tied love in with obedience, as He said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15), for “whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me” (John 14:21).  The truth is, “anyone who loves me will obey my teaching” (John 14:23). You cannot say you love God and not obey Him, and He does not live in those who don’t obey Him, as the Apostle John wrote, “The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us.” (1 John 3:24).

Conclusion

It’s really very simple to fall into a deeper love for God. All we must do is pour forth praise and thanksgiving to Him. We must contemplate the cross and what love this displayed for us. We must abide in Him, and that means abiding in His Word, the Bible.  Finally, we must obey what we know Christ commands, for the love of God is displayed in doing what He commands.

What Are Some Biblical Reasons To Fast?

What are some biblical reasons to fast? What are reasons you fast?

The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) was the only feast day on the Jewish calendar that required fasting. It was a very holy day for the nation as it represented the atonement of the people, with the high priest having placed the guilt of their sins on the Azazel goat which was then sent off into the wilderness. It was their way to be cleansed, but of course, the very next day, they (like we) sinned. Some people who are striving to overcome their addictions use fasting, and that’s a very good idea. It seems they are more able to concentrate on their utter dependence upon God when they fast, and they know that they cannot do anything except through Christ (John 15:5; Phil 4:13) to overcome in this life. Some of the strongest addictions that are known to man have been broken by prayer and fasting, but we must confess that “apart from [Jesus we] can do nothing” (John 15:5). It is a cooperative work. It takes God’s Spirit and our sweat, but for sure, “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). Without God’s help, we would be totally helpless against addictions. In our own strength, we cannot do much of anything, but prayer and fasting can help, but this alone may not break it. It may require intercessory prayer too, but above all, it takes the Spirit of God, and that’s where the dynamic power of His Spirit comes in. He creates a new heart in us (2 Cor 5:17), and one with new desires. As you can read from the Apostle Paul’s experience (Rom 7), it doesn’t happen overnight. We will never be sinless this side of the kingdom, but over time, we’ll be sinning less. That’s called sanctification, and it’s done by the Spirit.

“To let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6).

Repent from Sins

One of the primary ways we respond to deep, painful sins and their consequences is to pray and fast, but sometimes we fast for the wrong reasons, and it’s often to try and force God’s hand to do something for us. Isaiah the Prophet wrote, Sponsored Content

Recommended by“Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers” (Isaiah 58:3). They think they fast to humble themselves and to be seen by God, but they still continued to “oppress all [their] workers,” or employees, so God tells them that “you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high” (Isaiah 58:4). God expresses His righteous indignation against this kind of fasting, asking them, “Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord” (Isaiah 58:5)? Obviously, God will not accept this kind of prayer and fasting if we continue to oppress anyone or treat anyone unfairly. These are certainly the wrong reasons to pray and fast.

Break Every Yoke

A better reason to fast is to break free from sin. Again, Isaiah the Prophet asks, “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6)? Yes it is! That’s an acceptable reason to God for prayer and fasting. If it’s intended “To break free from every yoke,”and “to let the oppressed go free,” then God will respond to that kind of prayer and fasting. It won’t be because they’ve forced His hand to help them, but rather because they show God they are serious about overcoming their sins and loving their neighbors as themselves. Fasting is like, “I don’t care about me Lord, and I don’t about my hunger….I only care about You Lord.”

Mourn for a Season

David was desperate and was praying and fasting that God would spare the child’s life.

When David’s infant son was sick and lay dying, David fasted. It wasn’t like he thought, “I’m going to try and be more spiritual and fast and move the hand of God to save my child’s life,” but rather, David was desperate and was praying and fasting that God would spare the child, so in this case, David’s fasting was just natural. When we’re mourning over something or someone, we naturally lose our appetites, so fasting during times of mourning is normal, and I would say healthy. Food is one of the last things on your minds when you’re heartbroken over some tragedy or death in the family. This is why David “sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground” (2 Sam 12:16). Even though “the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground…he would not, nor did he eat food with them” (2 Sam 12:17), but notice that after the child died, “David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate” (2 Sam 12:20). David’s servants were confused. Apparently they didn’t know when the proper time to fast was and when the time was past. The attendants asked David, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food”(2 Sam 12:21). They just didn’t get it! David told them, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live” (2 Sam 12:22), but when the child died, David knew this was the will of God and he accepted it. David was fine with God’s sovereignty, so there was no more reason to fast at that time.

Conclusion

Maybe you have other reasons to fast. It’s fine to fast for health reasons, although I urge you to speak to your doctor about this first. He may know something you don’t, and suggest you start out slowly, like by skipping one meal. Diabetics can fast from other things, like from the media. For example, take a day and fast from the news, the Internet, your computer, or something else you typically do and then replace it with Bible reading and prayer. When you combine prayer, fasting, and Bible reading, the Scriptures can come alive like at no other time. Scripture can almost jump off the page when you read it, but whatever reason you fast for, make sure you have medical clearance to do so from your doctor, and if you’ve never fasted, start slowly. Maybe you can still drink water when you’re fasting. Some fast but still drink water…others abstain from both. Whatever you do, fasting can be a helpful spiritual tool in humbling us before God, for breaking free from certain bonds, and for letting the oppressed go free (Isaiah 58). We know that God gives His grace to the humble, but we also know He doesn’t give it to the proud (James 4:6). Fasting will strip the pride right out of us, and that’s always a good thing.

4 Tactics of Satan Or Demons That Can Help Us Know The Devil Is Manifesting.

Discouragement
If someone becomes discouraged, they quit trying. That brings them no closer to the finish line and it stops their personal spiritual growth. That is not God’s will (2nd Pet 3:18). That’s not an option. Plants and vegetation can tell us a lot about ourselves. Whatever is not growing, is dying. Discouragement is a tactic of Satan or demons to get you to pull the plug on life or on your faith. Don’t fall for it. Know your enemy.

Deception
Since a half-truth is a whole lie and who is better at lying than Satan? Jesus said “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Such, Satan. You are a liar, but when we lie, we’re being more like Satan than God because God is truth (John 14:6) and cannot lie (Num 23:19; Titus 1:2).

Division
Division in a marriage can end in divorce. It gives the devil a foothold, so when you start sensing division within the church and friction between members, be aware that this is exactly what Satan wants. His tactic is to divide and conquer, and like a wise enemy, he seeks to destroy us from within. Since we know that God seeks us to be completely unified, division is at the opposite of what God wants but what Satan loves.

Did God Really Say?
We cannot trust our own feelings. Human doubt is among the most shallow, unreliable things when it comes to deciding what is true or not. Rather, believe what God says of His word through the Apostle Paul, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2nd Tim 3:16-17). I checked the Greek for “all” as in “All Scripture” and it means, no surprise, “all!” Don’t fall for the same tactic he used with Eve in the Garden by saying, “Did God actually say…” (Gen 3:1).

Conclusion
Try to think what Satan most desires; discouragement, which will take away the effectiveness of personal witnessing; deception, where even a half-truth becomes a whole lie; division, which turns the church in on itself; and doubt, when we start doubting God’s Word. Try to remember that what Satan loves, God hates, and you’ll know your enemy well enough to not be deceived. By all means, armor up (Eph 6).

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How Persecution Purifies The Church And Spreads The Gospel

How does persecution help the church and spread the gospel?

Sifting the Church

Persecution separates the wheat from the chaff. When both sprout, they look very much alike, but when the winds, the rain, the sun, and the drought come out, only one will produce wheat, and it’s not the cheat. The winds of resistance begin to blow the chaff away and only the wheat remains. Sometimes, it is persecution that separates the saints from the “aint’s.” Obedience to God’s Word is generally a sign of conversion, but when no good works appear, then that person’s faith can be called into question (James 2). Ongoing sexual immorality will get some people dis-fellowshipped, as those who practice those things are not headed to the kingdom (Gal 5:21), so if a person professes faith in Christ, it doesn’t mean they possess faith in Christ.

Persecution sifts the church like a baker sifts their wheat.

Falling Away

Many talking about going to heaven won’t get there (Matt 7:21-23). Persecution sifts the church like a cook sifts wheat, removing all impurities from the batch, so with that thought in mind, Jesus spoke about the one who “was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away” (Matt 13:20-21). Persecution sifts the false converts. Most people will die for the truth…but those who truly don’t believe Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6), will quickly fall away when persecution starts ramping up.

Revivals or Riots

It seems everywhere the Apostle Paul went there was either a riot or revival. He always seemed to bring controversy, because the Gospel is radical compared to the world’s religions, and especially to the Jews. They could not accept a Messiah or Christ that would die on a cross. They thought this would be the last thing that would happen to Messiah, so they rejected Christ…and they rejected Paul’s teaching, following him and harassing him all the way to Rome. When they attempted to destroy the church in Jerusalem; when a great persecution arose (Acts 8), it was like trying to put out a grass fire. They kept stomping on it, but that only served to spread it, so in this sense, persecution helped grow the church and spread the gospel. So exactly how did persecution spread the church? Luke the Physician writes in the Book of Acts that “there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles” (Acts 8:1). They were scattered in every direction. They might have left leave family, home, and work behind, but they took the gospel with them. Tertullian wrote, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” (Apologeticus, Chapter 50), and indeed, much blood was spilt, but it caused the church to grow rapidly.

Tests our Faith

Not only does persecution remove a lot of false converts from the church, thereby purifying the Brid of Christ, but it also works to purify believers. It tests our faith. It tests our resolve. Will we wash out at the first persecutions? What about when family, friends, and co-workers start to harass us for our faith in Christ? I thing I know, persecution makes you either run or it makes you stand your ground. Every believer must realize they are swimming upstream against a downstream culture, but any old dead fish can float downstream. It is those who strive to enter the kingdom by repenting and believing in Christ, but even here, grace is a free gift of God (Eph 2:8-90), and so is the ability to repent (Acts 5:31, 11:18; 2 Tim 2:24-26).

What happens when family, friends, and co-workers start to harass you for our faith?

When we are persecuted, our natural reaction is to pray for it to go way, but wait! The Apostle Peter says we ought to “rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed”(1st Pet 4:13). Have you been insulted for your faith? I have, but “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1st Pet 4:14). Don’t you want that? Does it bring joy to think that the “Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you?” I would think so. Jesus knew great persecution was coming, and would get even worse after He ascended to the Father. Steven the Deacon said, “Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it”(Acts 7:52-53). His point may have been, “You’re in great company. They did the same thing to those who represented God in the past.” You must be sharing and showing your faith if you’re being persecuted, but if you’ve never once been persecuted, maybe it’s time to examine yourself to see if you in the faith or not (2 Cor 13:5, 2 Pet 1:10-11).

Conclusion

Want more on how to be blessed by God? Jesus said, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). Wouldn’t you rather be loved by God than loved by the world? It sounds worse to save we’ll be loved by the world but not by God. I don’t want that, and I bet you don’t either, so just prepare for it, and know that you’re not alone. More and greater persecution is coming, and it will get worse and worse, up until the time Jesus’ arrives. In fact, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2nd Tim 3:12), but “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matt 5:11). When people insult me or use derogatory remarks, I simply accept that as a blessing, but if someone insults you because you trust in Jesus, here’s what your (and my) response should be: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt 5:11).