When can a Christian break the rules? What are the exceptions? 

To Preserve Life

If someone told you to do something that broke man’s law, you would naturally say no, but what if you were forced to do so? When some were hiding Jews during World War Two, was it okay to tell a lie to save a life? Dr. R.C. Sproul tells us about the ethics of truth: “We are always and everywhere obligated to tell the truth to whom the truth is due. We are to speak the truth where justice and righteousness requires the truth.” The higher moral law of preserving life supersedes that of telling the truth when a human life is at stake. Corrie Ten Boom, who hid Jews during the war, never felt any conviction of sin for hiding these Jews. She knew it was what God would want.

To Obey God’s Law

I remember an account of a co-worker years ago who came to me and was conflicted about something. His supervisor wanted him to approve some parts but these had not all that had passed inspection. He asked me if it was okay to do this since his supervisor told him to do it. I said, maybe you can come in to work on your own time and inspect these parts so that they would actually be certified as passing inspection. He was troubled by trying to approve aircraft parts without inspecting them. He did just what I suggested because he knew that he was paid to inspect all of the parts and not just some of them because ultimately, we work for God and not man (Col 2:23-24).

Preaching the Gospel

When the Jewish authorities told the apostles to stop preaching about Jesus, the Apostle Peter said “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). After this warning, “they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” (Acts 5:40-41). Imagine that! They rejoiced over being beaten! Why? The rejoiced “that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name,” Jesus Christ.

God’s Law verses Sharia Law

When a group of Christians were being rounded up in Nigeria so that they might murder them, some refused to obey the local Sharia Law because they believed God’s Law stood above those of man, especially those laws where Christian’s lives were at stake. One Muslim felt so troubled about this that he refused to execute one of the Christians that he was told to do so. He broke the Sharia Law by refusing to listen to his superiors and kill these Christians and so he himself was beaten, tortured, and put into prison, but this man heard about Jesus and place his trust in Him and was later martyred for his faith.

Conclusion

The Bible tells us that we are to obey those who are in authority over us (Rom 13:1-5) but when man’s laws tell us to break God’s Laws, we have no choice but to obey God over man. Especially where human life is involved, where our conscience is troubled, where we preach the gospel and have freedom to do so, and when one religion teaches and commands the death of others who don’t follow their religion

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?

Ways That God shows His Love Toward us. 

Becoming Flesh

The Apostle John begins before the beginning of Genesis 1:1 with John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” and then, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). This was the beginning of the end for the eventually crushing of the serpent’s head (Gen 3:15).

Sinless Life

In the Old Testament the sacrificial “lamb shall be without blemish” (Ex 12:5) but these only covered sin but you and I “were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1st Pet 1:18-19) and He takes all our sins away (Psalm 103:12). That was what God required to have us become the very righteousness of God through Christ (2nd Cor 5:21).

Loving the Unlovable

We might think we loved God first and sought after Him but the fact is we love God only “because He first loved us” (1st John 4:19). It wasn’t “Jesus was once lost but now Him I found” but rather, grace is so amazing because “One we were lost but now we are found.” He found us and loved us, even while we were not very loveable, and falling so far short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). God made the first move; we just had to repent and believe.

Suffering for Sinners

Jesus suffered and died so that we might receive eternal life by trusting in Him. God’s love was displayed in “while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:6). We know that “one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:7-8). That means you and me.

Dying for Enemies

That is the ultimate expression of God’s love is shown when Jesus asked the Father to forgive them because they didn’t really know what they were doing (Luke 23:34) but Jesus knew exactly what He was doing because it was “while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Rom 5:10). Dying for one’s enemies is the most supreme act of all, especially considering that we too were once enemies of God.

Conclusion

John 3:16 gives us a broad sweep of the love of God as the Father sent the unique and only Son of God to die for those who would believe in Him. This kind of love is called “agape love” and is the highest form of love there is; a self-sacrificial love that comes from God because God is love (1st John 4:8).

Simple ways that you can make the Bible come alive for you:

Placing Your Name in the Word

What do I mean by placing your name in the Scriptures?  I mean this.  Let’s use the name Pam to see what I mean.  Read John 3:16 like this: “For God so loved Pam that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Now let’s use the name Robert or imagine putting your name in this awesome verse in Hebrews 13:5 “Never will I leave Robert, never will I forsake Robert.”  Try reading Scriptures that have “you” in them and put your own name there because when the Scriptures say “You” it means you!  Let the Word of God come alive by personalizing it because the Word of God is written to us and written for us.  That will make the way you read the Scriptures come alive and make it deeply personal because the Bible truly is God’s love letter written to mankind…and to you!  You may never read the Word of God the same again.

Read it Out Loud, Write it Out

I am way too guilty of doing this…I simply read the Word of God to myself but I don’t verbalize it. I remember in college one of my professors said that if we read something out loud, it helps us retain it better in our memory and it also gives it more impact.  I keep a notepad next to my Bible and when I find a particularly powerful verse, I also write it out.  I keep these notes and look them over from time to time and, as my professor also said, it allows whatever we wrote out to stand out better in our memories and they’ll also have a greater impact on our minds.  I download free mp3’s eBooks of the Bible and listen to these when I have to drive.  Reading the Word of God aloud or having someone else do it for me…and also writing some of the most impacting Bible verses out on paper helps these verses come alive and I am also able to recall them from memory much easier.   Read it, write it, and speak it.  Doing this with the Word of God is the Triple Crown winner of Bible study.

Pray it Back, Say it Back

The Psalms are some of the greatest chapters in all of the Bible but did you ever try reading these back to God as prayers?  Also, the many praise psalms are so worthy of worship to God and you know God delights in His own Word so why not use His own words to pray them back to Him and to praise Him with them?  Every word of God is inspired by God and I believe they will be inspiring to you if read them back to God.  Pray them back and praise them back to God.  Ever struggle with prayer? I know I do so why not pray back God’s own words to Him.  Have difficulty in praising God?  You’ll have no difficulty in knowing what to praise God for if you use the psalms to praise our Wonderful and Awesome God.

Conclusion

Personalize the Bible by putting your own name in the “You’s” in the Bible.  Read it, but read it out loud and write down some verses that have special meaning to you.  Pray the many great prayers and psalms of the Bible back to God and use the praise psalms to give Him what He is most worthy of in your private worship of Him. I believe if you do these things, the Bible will truly come alive for you because we already 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” (Heb 4:12) so why not unleash that power?

facts that you should know about the “unforgivable sin.” 

Jesus’ Audience

The Pharisees saw Jesus’ miracles and also His sinlessness, so they knew better than to accuse Jesus of working miracles by the power of Satan (Matthew 12:24). But that’s just what they accused Him of. Jesus asked them how Satan can cast out Satan because that’d be a divided house (Matthew 12:25-27). Jesus said, “Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven” (Matthew 12:31) because “whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:32).

To Whom He Was Speaking

We don’t need to be a Bible scholar to know to whom Jesus was speaking about the danger of committing the unforgivable sin. Jesus answered the Pharisees, as it says, “He said to them”(Matthew 12:25b). More precisely identifying to whom Jesus was speaking, it says, “Knowing their thoughts”(Matthew 12:25a). Whose thoughts? The Pharisees, since that is who spoke to Jesus about casting out demons. And then Jesus “said to them,” showing He was specifically speaking to them. We can’t apply what Jesus said to them as applying it to us because He was responding to their accusation that He was using Satan to cast out Satan. I doubt very seriously if any of us have ever done that.

The Only Unforgivable Sin

In speaking to Nicodemus–and in the context He is speaking to all–Jesus tells us what won’t be forgiven in John 3:18 where He says, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18) and later says, “Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36b). The Apostle John adds, “Whoever believes in the Son of God has this testimony within him; whoever does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony God has given about His Son” (1 John 5:10).

Bonus Content

Eternal Life

Jesus promised that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life and will never perish (John 3:16), so why do so many believe they can receive eternal life from Jesus and then lose it? If it was eternal life, it wasn’t only until someone loses it. If they receive eternal life but then lose it, was it really eternal life? God does not take back the grace that He freely gives us (Eph 2:8).

No Separation

If we are promised that nothing can separate us from God, including death (John 11:25-26), then we cannot be separated from God after having trusted in Christ. If we read Romans 8, we see that neither life, death, powers, angels (most likely fallen ones), things to come or things in the present and past, and to be sure Paul covers anything, He adds, “nor any created thing” (Rom 8:38-39) can separate us from God. That covers everything there is! Nothing means what it says…nothing! Nothing can separate the child of God from God. That settles it.

In God’s Hands

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27), so if we hear Jesus’ voice and do what He commands, He’s not going to lose us. A good shepherd never loses his sheep, and Jesus is the greatest Shepherd, and then He adds, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand”and to be even more certain He tells them (and us), “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29). Isn’t that the ultimate in security…being in Jesus’ grip and in the Father’s hands?

Conclusion

There are hundreds of Scriptures that say not believing in Christ brings condemnation, and in only one place in all the Bible is the threat of committing the unforgivable sin mentioned. The context is in reference to attributing Jesus’ work as Satan’s work, and He was speaking only to the Pharisees and not the crowd. There is one sin that God will not forgive, and that is rejecting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. From that there is no escaping the wrath of God.

Bible prophecies that have recently been fulfilled, relatively speaking. 

The Jews Come Home

Amos the Prophet wrote a prophecy around 750 BC that said, “In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be,” … “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills”(Amos 9:1, 13). For decades, the Jews were dispersed around the world due to severe persecution, but in 1948, Israel again gathered as a people and as a nation, and many of Jews returned and have rebuilt and reconditioned much of the land of Israel. The soil is again productive, producing bountiful harvests enough to export foods to many countries, just as Amos had prophesied.

The Flourishing Desert

Much of the land around Israel is arid and desert-like, but when the Jews returned to their homeland, what was once a wasteland became gardens and groves. Even though this area of the world receives little rainfall, the Jews have planted over 200 million trees and set up an intricate irrigation system, fed by underground systems. Now see if Isaiah’s prophecies seem to be connected to modern day Israel where he wrote “I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set pines in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it”(Isaiah 41:18-20).

Leading Many Astray

Just prior to Jesus going to the cross, He gave the Olivet Prophecy about the end of the age, and the disciples asked Him, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray” (Matt 24:3-5). Do you really need me to prove to you that this has been fulfilled? Many come as Christ, not saying they are literally Christ, but said to be His minister, but many, not a few, will be led astray. That’s a serious warning. Jesus didn’t say a few would be led astray…but the many! And more have been led astray in the last century than in the previous 19!

Hated for His Sake

When I was a young Christian, I can’t remember that many people actually hating me for being a Christian, although at first I must admit, I was a bit obnoxious about sharing my faith, however, you can see it’s harder to live the Christian faith today in public than it used to be even 5 or 10 years ago. Today, it’s not popular to be a Christian. We’re seen as intolerant. The interesting thing is they can tolerate anything but us. Remember Jesus’ words about a sign of the end of the age, where He said, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake” (Matt 24:9). Few of us have been delivered up to death, but we’re the exception. For most Christians around the world, it’s a dangerous to trust in Christ. Voice of the Martyrs estimates the number of martyrs since the year 2000 to be over one million.

Conclusion

There are other prophecies that have been fulfilled, but the point of prophecy is not to look so much ahead, as it is to look at Christ and fix our eyes on Him. He is the author and finisher of our faith. I want to know Him more than anything. Prophecies are fine, but Jesus must be the focus, because even history is His-story!

What are the gifts of the Spirit and how do you know when you have one or more of them? 

Test Drive the Gifts

I would recommend one of several spiritual gift inventory tests you can take online to find out what your spiritual gift might be. Sometimes the best way to see if you have a gift for something is to try it out. No one can have all of these gifts, but everyone has at least one of these gifts. Usually a person has more than one gift. The Bible reminds us that “there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone” (1st Cor 12:4-6). God will sometimes make it manifest or known to that person what their gift is, but sometimes we need a little help. We need to find our gift because it helps the Body of Christ, the church, since “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1st Cor 12:7). This gift is not to brag on or boast about but for the good of your brothers and sisters. That’s God’s intention for these gifts and not what we think they should be used for. God will resist anyone who has pride (James 4:6), regardless of the gifts they have. Believe me, I say this to myself more than to anyone else because pride can wreck a ministry and bury a gift.

Wisdom and Knowledge

Wisdom and knowledge is not the same thing. You can have knowledge about something, but not use knowledge in a very wise way. You can have the knowledge of how to fire a gun, but wisdom makes sure the safety is on. The Apostle Paul wants the Corinthians to know that “to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit” (1st Cor 12:8). Notice that it’s something you cannot pray to receive or try to work on. It is what God gives. He gives to some the spiritual gift of wisdom, but to others, He gives the gift of knowledge, but always for “the common good,” the church.

Faith and Healing

Paul continues listing of the gifts of the Spirit, which is given “to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit” (1st Cor 12:9). There are some spiritual giants that I know of in church history, such as the Apostle Paul, who apparently had many gifts, including healing, but one man who stands out to me is George Mueller who built a number of orphanages in England and saved the lives of countless children. Mr. Mueller never once asked anyone for money or funding for the orphanages. Instead, he wanted to rely only on prayer, and pray in faith that God would provide, and did He ever. That man’s faith was a gift.

Miracles and Prophecy

The Apostle Paul writes that “to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy” (1st Cor 12:10a), and as you can read in the Book of Acts, there were many prophets and many who worked miracles, but these miracles we must remember are attributed to praying in Jesus’ name so that He receives the glory. If there is a miracle; God is glorified. If someone is healed; God is glorified, but if someone dies and passes into glory, that glorifies God too. The gift of prophecy, which in the Greek is “prophēteia,” means “a discourse emanating from divine inspiration and declaring the purposes of God.”

Tongues and Interpretations

The final list of gifts if given where Paul says, “to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues” (1st Cor 12:10b), but the point is that all of these gifts are empowered “by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (1st Cor 12:11), so it’s all about God’s will and not ours, and these are all empowered by God’s Spirit, not us, and knowing that should keep us humble and not boast about our gifts as did the Corinthians who compared their gifts with the others. It became a matter of pride and pride always takes us from our purpose, and that is to give God all the glory in everything we do. It is still a matter of pride for many, but let us not divide over these gifts or make these gifts the evidence of your salvation. That’s not what God intended them for (1st Cor 12:7).  We do know the Greek (“glōssa“) word translated “tongues” is actually “language” which the NASB accurately reads, “And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born” (Acts 2:8), and it wasn’t an unknown tongue, but one known by the “Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God” (Acts 2:9-11). If your brother or sister believes in speaking in tongues and you don’t, let us not divide over this. Let us prove that we are Christ’s disciples as Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

Conclusion

There are other spiritual gifts that are given in the Bible like teaching, exhortation, giving, and mercy (Rom 12:6-8), but these may not be all there are. I know some Christians who I believe have gifts of the Spirit that are not mentioned in the Bible. They do things that are not listed under any gift. That’s because God’s Spirit is not limited. He can move in many different ways through many different people by gifting. By the way, Gifts of the Spirit are not the same things as offices of the church, but we know that the gifts of the Spirit are always beneficial for the church, more so than the individual. Paul writes, “just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1st Cor 12:12-13). And we are one in Christ; even though many members with many differing gifts.

Ways to “walk on water” towards Jesus in faith.

Focus on Jesus

The Apostle Peter actually walked on water. Imagine that for a moment. What boldness and assurance Peter showed when he said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus”(Matt 14:28-29). Peter’s problem began when he took his eyes off of Jesus and started looking at the wind (Matt 14:30). We have to wonder, if Peter hadn’t taken his eyes off of Jesus, would he have walked on water for a little longer? Probably.

Trust in His Power

When Peter began to sink, “Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt” (Matt 14:31). Peter knew that once Jesus took his hand, he was going to be alright. At that moment, he trusted Jesus’ power and knew that his sinking days were over…so to speak. If we remember that we’re continually walking toward Jesus in faith, we can reach out and take His hand too…and He’ll keep us from sinking or getting in over our heads.

Keep on Going

What if Peter had hesitated? What if Peter hadn’t asked Jesus to command him “to come to” Jesus “on the water?” Naturally, Peter would have either not gotten out of the boat in the first place or he’d have sank in the water trying to go it alone and dropped to the bottom of the sea like a lead weight. Either way, we know that Peter kept on going and took Jesus’ hand. We must keep going…ever pressing on toward Jesus in faith. He is the God of the storm; thereby he is sovereign over the storm.

Reaching toward the Goal

The Apostle Paul once wrote, “I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”(Phil 3:13-14). One thing to note is that Paul admitted that he did not make it on his own and neither can we. All he knew to do was to keep on pressing ahead…moving forward, and “straining forward to what lies ahead” and what lied ahead of him was Jesus.

Taking His Hand

Why don’t you keep your eyes on Jesus by taking His hand today? You must focus on Christ and not the problem. Don’t look at the water or the wind…be “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2). You can’t take someone’s hand if you’re not focusing on them. We need a hand from Jesus because we can’t walk in this life very well at all in our own strength…we must take the hand of the God-Man because He won’t take our hands for us. We must reach out to Him and hold onto Him and keep on walking toward Jesus in faith.

Conclusion

To keep walking toward Jesus in faith we must focus on Him and Him alone; we must trust in His divine power; we must keep moving forward; we must be reaching for that soon-coming kingdom; and we must take hold of His hand and never let go.

GREAT WEAPONS YOU CAN USE WHEN YOU’RE FACED WITH FEAR. 

The Belt of Truth

In the chapter where the Apostle Paul talks about the armor of God, he mentions the “belt of truth” (Eph 6:14), but what is the “belt of truth?” The belt of truth is the knowledge of the truth and the Person of Truth is Jesus Christ, Who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). The belt of truth should remind us of Who we trust and that is Jesus Christ. In fact, we trust Him with our eternal lives. I believe what Jesus says because He always speaks the truth and we know that Satan is always a liar.

God’s Word

God’s Word is truth. That’s what Jesus said when speaking to the disciples, where He prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth”(John 17:17), “And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth” (John 17:19). Since Jesus has said that God’s Word is truth, find the Word of God, read it, believe it, and that should calm your fears.

The Future

If we live today with the end in mind, I believe we can endure more while here on earth. If we look to the future, the present may be a bit more tolerable, but what is this future that I speak of? Part of the future is found in Revelation 21:5 where it says of our future that God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Since we know that this will be all behind us someday, why not dwell on the future? It can help to carry you through your present fear.

Satan’s Defeat

Did you realize that Satan has already been judged? He has, but the sentence hasn’t been carried out yet, but it will. Jesus said “concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged”(John 16:11) and we know who the ruler of this present, evil world is (2 Cor 4:4). Revelation 20:11 shows how it ends for Satan and his evil demons, as the Apostle John wrote that “the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” Dwell on that and your fear may fade.

Battling with Prayer

Our weapons are not carnal or physical in nature. We are fighting a spiritual battle, and against wicked spirits in high places of authority (Eph 6:12). It would be easier to see our enemy who wants to fill us with fear, but an invisible enemy is harder to fight, however God has provided every piece of equipment we’ll ever need to fight these enemies of God, so there really is no real reason to fear. The Apostle Paul wrote 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).

Conclusion

The best way to fight fear is with faith and having faith in God by putting on the belt of truth; by abiding in God’s Word which is truth; by reading about our fantastic future in the Word (Rev 22); by recognizing Satan’s already a defeated foe; and by praying to God to overcome our fear. We know that God cannot lose. We also know that Satan cannot win. Knowing this should help us alleviate our fears. That’s my prayer for you.

ways you can get much more out of the Word of God, the Bible.

Out Of Reading The Bible

Meditate on the Word

The idea of meditating on God’s Word seems to have been lost today, yet the psalmist of old was very intentional about meditating on the Word of God. What does it mean to meditate on the Word of God? It doesn’t mean empty your mind and try to think of nothing (which is impossible anyway), rather it means, for example, taking one verse and contemplating what’s in that verse. For me, I love 2nd Corinthians 5:21 which says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Think about that verse. Meditate on it. That one verse is about as close as any come to summarizing the gospel. Reflect, ponder, bask, and meditate on 2nd Cor 5:21.

Memorize the Word

Here is why I think memorizing certain Bible verses can help us get more out of the Bible. The psalmist writes, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). In other words, he is saying that he has memorized God’s Word so that he might not sin as easily against God. It’s not a guarantee that he won’t sin, but the Bible can help keep you out of sin, just as sin can often keep you out of the Bible (because of guilt). Make the most of God’s Word. Take it with you in your mind and in your heart by memorizing meaningful verses.

Cross-referencing the Word

When I find a Bible verse like Romans 3:23, which says we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, I look for scriptural cross-references. In other words, the verse, Romans 3:23 has a cross-reference in the margin which includes Ecclesiastes 7:20, which says, “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins,” so when I read and study the Bible, I can find other Scriptures that broaden the meaning of the original verse I’m studying (in this case, Romans 3:23). Most Bibles have these cross-references in the middle column.

Putting “You” in the Word

When I read the Bible, I sometimes put my own name or “me” for “you.” A great example is Romans 8:31 which says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Now, read it with my name in it: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for Jack, who can be against Jack?” I am not changing the context or meaning at all. I am simply making it more personal. Try it. Put your own name in where it says “you” or “us” or “we.” I think it’ll make the Bible more meaning for you, and make it more personal too.

Praying for Help

There is no doubt that God’s Spirit reveals to us spiritual knowledge, because we can’t learn anything of significance about God without His Spirit helping us, so pray to God before you study the Word. Ask Him to illuminate meaning in the passages and to show you what it means in your life. Also, ask for His help in determining if the verse is a command for us or is a descriptive verse. For example, we read about the cross of Christ and how we are to crucify the flesh, but that doesn’t mean we’re to actually die on a cross. Ask the Spirit of God what God is trying to tell us in the verses we read. The Bible plainly says that“these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God” (1st Cor 2:10), so pray for His Spirit to open up the meaning of Scripture and believe me, He will!

Conclusion

If you can think of other ways that we can get more meaning out of the Bible, please feel free to suggest them. I know there are several other ways we can get more out of the Word of God, but certainly we should meditate on the Word of God; we should memorize parts of the Word of God; we should use cross-reference Scriptures to deepen our understanding of the Word; we should personalize the Word of God for certain verses; and we should pray to the Father to send the Holy Spirit to help us understand what we could otherwise not, without His Spirit