Category Archives: Blessings

But First…God owes us nothin

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” (Matthew 6:33)

We all want God to supply our every need, especially when it comes to our basic, everyday necessities.  I mean, we all know that God is love, right?  He is also our “Good, Good Father” who wants to take good care of us.  So, why shouldn’t we ask and He give us what we need and want?

Well, the answer is in today’s verse.  Did you see the answer?  Let’s look and see what it tells us.

1.  “But seek first…” – this implies that there is a condition to God’s blessings.  We need to be seeking to do something for Him, first.

2.  “the kingdom of God…” – we are to be seeking to grow God’s kingdom.  What this means is that God wants our first priority to be growing His kingdom by sharing the Gospel of Christ wherever we are and make disciples of those who put their faith and trust in Him (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).

2.  “and His righteousness,” – our other priority is to strive each day to live according to the moral standard He has set for us to live by.  God is not going to reward us with everything we need when we are not doing what He has commanded us to do, first.

3.  “and all these things will be provided for you.” – as long as we are working to grow His kingdom and striving to live according to the moral standard He has set for us, then God will supply our every need.  This requires the full measure of our faith in the fact that God is faithful, and that He never lies.

God is not our personal “Genie in a Bottle” that is bound to giving us everything we need and/or want.  He will not let us take advantage of Him.  Remember this, God owes us nothing; we owe Him everything.  Just do what He says, then watch what He does.

In Christ’s love,

Phil

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Integrity and Blessing

“The one who lives with integrity is righteous; his children who come after him will be happy.” (Proverbs 20:7 HCSB)

Integrity seems to be a word that our society has taken out of our everyday vocabulary.  It appears not to be taught, or practiced, in our homes, schools, universities, in our work places, and definitely not in our local, state and federal government.  The frightening evidence of our lack of integrity is in the public display of it all around us, every day.  The most frightening part is that it can also be said of a lot of Christians, as well.  Today’s verse teaches a lesson we all should learn and heed.  Here’s what it says:

  1. “The one…” – makes reference to a man, a father.
  2. “who lives with integrity…” – a father who lives according to God’s moral standards; a father who does what is right according to God’s standards, in his private, and in public, no matter what it costs him.  
  3. “is righteous;” – a father who lives according to God’s moral standard is a godly man, and father; a Christian father. 
  4. “his children who come after him…” – those children who follow their godly father’s good example.
  5. “will be happy.” only the children who have and follow the example of their godly father will be blessed and happy.

So, today’s verse could be read, A godly man who lives according to God’s moral standard, will bring blessing and happiness upon his children who follow his good, godly example (Proverbs 20:7, paraphrased).

Can you imagine what our country would be like if we, fathers and future fathers, would make a commitment to live our lives according to God’s standards and teach those same standards to our children and grandchildren?  I realize that not every child will chose to follow a father’s example or teachings, but God says that they will never forget it, and maybe they will return to it at a later time.  Look at what He says:

 “Imprint these words of mine on your hearts and minds, bind them as a sign on your hands, and let them be a symbol on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (Deuteronomy 11:18-19).” 

If we are Christian fathers, it is our responsibility to make sure that our children know who God is, know how to know Him personally, and learn to put all their faith and trust in Him alone.  God put that responsibility on us, not our nannies, babysitters, moms, grandparents, Sunday School teachers, school teachers, or university professors.  God says:

“Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).”

So how can we do this with our busy schedules?

  1. We must make the spiritual well-being of our children is top priority.
  2. We must make their salvation top priority, for what will it profit them if they gain the whole world, but when they die, they end up in hell.  (Mark 8:36).
  3. They must see in us, what we’re trying to teach them.  They can’t see it if we’re not spending enough with them for them to see it.
  4. We must make the sacrifices necessary to get this done.
  5. OUR CHILDREN ARE WORTH IT!!!  ALL CHILDREN ARE WORTH IT!!!

So, then,

  • how are we going to obey today’s lesson?
  • With whom will we share what we learned in today’s lesson?
  • With who will we share the story of our salvation, and the story of Jesus has done for us?

In Christ’s love,

Phil Covone

 

Be Angry

“Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the Devil an opportunity.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)

For many of us, anger is a very serious and dangerous problem.  Unfortunately, some of us have allowed our anger to fester and poison our hearts and minds.  Consequently, we have lost our families, loved ones, friends, jobs, and ruined our reputations to the point that it is difficult for people to trust us anymore.

I think that in today’s verse, God, through the Apostle Paul, offers us some insight on where we might have gone wrong, and how to keep our anger in check in order to ovoid future problems. Here’s what the God is trying to teach us.

  1. “Be angry…” – anger is an emotion given to us, by God which we cannot just put away.  God is telling us that it is OK to be angry, but He gives us three things to keep in check.
  2. “and do not sin.” – #1: God knows that because of our sin nature, our anger, for the most part, is used for all the wrong reasons. For example, vengeance against those whom we believe have wronged us, power over one another to either control one another, destroy one another, kill one another, etcetera, etcetera.  These things are not acceptable to God, in any way, and no sin will go unpunished.
  3. “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger,” – don’t let your anger linger and fester because, with time, it will blow up and cause irreversible damage.  We must make things right with God and the person we’re angry with, before the end of our day.
  4. “and don’t give the Devil an opportunity.” – uncontrolled anger is a weakness that the Devil likes to exploit in us.  He will get in our heads and start telling us that we deserve to use our anger in whatever way we see fit, but fails to tell us the consequences of our actions.  The Devil is a liar and a murderer.  He knows that he can’t take those of us who are Christians to hell with him, but he can break our relationship with God, shame us, kill our spirit, kill our joy, destroy our testimony, and keep us from living in the center of God’s will.

For those of us who have allowed anger to destroy our relationship with our families, loved ones and friends, I want to share with you what I did to restore my relationship with God, family, loved ones, and friends.

  1. Get a legal pad notebook and pen
  2. Get in a quiet place to pray
  3. Pray for God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:8-9)
  4. Ask God to bring to your mind all the people that hurt you in you life
  5. Write the name of each person and what they did to hurt you (this may be very painful, but keep going)
  6. When you’re done, put your hand over the page, or pages, and ask God to help you forgive this people.
  7. Then, with your hand still on the page(s), tell them all that you forgive them the same way that Jesus forgave you (Colossians 3:13)
  8. Ball those pages up, take them outside, and burn them, and let it all go.

Note: Do not show those pages to anyone.

Then, do the same things for people you have hurt. Give yourself a day or two before you stat this process.

  1. Pray for God’s forgiveness for hurting the people on your list (1 John 1:8-9)
  2. Pray for God to bring to your mind those who you’ve hurt (do not exclude anyone)
  3. Write their names down and how you’ve hurt them
  4. Pray for God’s strength
  5. Begin calling every person on the list. Set up a time, and agree on a neutral place, in which you can meet
  6. Get together and ask their forgiveness
  7. Continue doing this until you’re finished with the list

Remember:

  1. You’re not responsible for their response, just your obedience to God
  2. You may not find everyone on your list, but God knows your heart
  3. You don’t need their forgiveness because God has already forgiven you.
  4. You’re doing this to free yourself from the chains that bind you to that person

When you do this, you will be totally and completely free as Christ wants you to be free, not just for your benefit, but for His honor and glory.  You will be free to love and serve Him as He deserves.

In Christ’s love,

Phil

Happiness

“Happy are those who keep His decrees and seek Him with all their heart.” (Psalms 119:2)

As former pastor, and now a missionary, I have had a lot of contact with many Christians in various countries.  One of the things that all Christians, no matter where we’re from, have in common is the lack of joy and happiness.  Many of us spend a lot of time looking for joy and happiness in many different ways like, sports, work, money, sex, drugs, alcohol, power, control, to mention a few.  But, if the truth be told, those things have let us down.

In today’s verse, God teaches us the only way we can actually achieve true happiness and joy.  Although it’s a very short verse, it is powerful.  Let’s take a deeper look at what God says.

  1. “Happy…” – friends, this is a happiness and joy that only comes from God – His happiness is because of the fact that we have chosen to put all our faith and trust in Him.  He is happy with our decision, therefore, we’re happy.  
  2. “are those…” – the word, “those”, is exclusive.  What God gives comes with a condition. 
  3. “who keep His decrees…” – condition #1: those who live in immediate, radical, costly, obedience to His commands.  God, throughout the Old Testament, demanded immediate, radical, costly. obedience from the Israelites, and in the New Testament, Jesus demands immediate, radical, costly obedience from all who have put their faith and trust in Him. Here’s what Jesus had to say:

    “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things I say? (Luke 6:46).”
    If we think that immediate, radical, costly obedience is not important to a Christian’s life, this next verse should dispel any doubt:

    “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven (Matthew 7:21).”
    Remember that we are not saved by works, but by faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross.
  4. “and seek Him…” – condition #2: this means to seek His will for our lives with the sole purpose of obeying it in and immediate, radical manner, no matter the cost.When God reveals His will to us, there is nothing to pray about, except about how and where He wants us to do it.  Then, we do it!!!
  5. “with all their heart.” – condition #3: that our motivation fro everything we do must be love for Him, for what He has done for us.   

To sum it all up, God is telling us that true happiness and joy is achieved only when, with all our hearts, we seek God’s will and strive to live in immediate, radical, and costly obedience to His commands.  But, this must be motivated by our love for Him and what He has done for us, not for our benefit, but for His benefit, and the benefit of others.

So,

  1. how are we going to obey today’s Scriptures?
  2. With whom are we going to share today’s lesson?
  3. With whom are we going to share the story of our salvation and the story of what Jesus has done for us?

In Christ’s love’

Phil

Do As Unto The Lord

“Commit your activities to the Lordand your plans will be achieved.” (Proverbs 16:3)

Do we, as Christinas, ever stop to think about why we have such a hard time achieving our goals, and sometimes don’t even achieve them?  Many of us, today, live under so much stress because we work so hard, for so long, neglecting our personal well-being, our families, and many other important things, yet we never seem to achieve anything.  We are tired, grumpy, and unsatisfied, and we just want to isolate from everyone, including those we love, and who love us.  Why is this happening to us?  I believe today’s verse of Scripture has the answer.  Let’s take a deeper look.

  1. “Commit your activities to the Lord,” – this literally means to transfer everything we have to do to God, and do everything as if He was watching us do it, and as if He were our boss.  Let Him direct your way in everything you do, after all He is Omniscient.  This applies to all activities we may be involved in, whether it be personal, family, work, school, or play. God, through the Apostle Paul, says:

    “Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, (Colossians 3:23).”

    The word, “whatever”, is all inclusive, which means that there should be nothing we do should be done to honor men, but God.  We do not work for men, but for God,    no matter what we do.

  2. “and your plans will be achieved.” – only if we do all things according to God’s will and guidance, will God will help us do it, and do it exceptionally well.  God never does a mediocre job, so if we follow His guidance and everything according to his will, we will do exceptionally well.

According to today’s Scriptures, I am convinced that, if we put into practice what we’ve just learned in every area of our lives, we will be successful in our personal lives, family lives, at work, at school, and at play, and we will be more content.

So, then,

  • how will we obey today’s Scriptures?
  • With whom will we share today’s Scriptures?
  • With whom will we share the story of our salvation and the story of what Jesus has done for us?

 

In Christ’s love,

Phil

What Are You Seeking?

The fact is that, as human beings, we all need food, water and a way to protect our bodies from the elements to survive.  These are the basic things we need to continue living on this earth.  In Genesis 1-2, God makes this fact perfectly clear.  In Genesis 3, however, God tells us that, because of our sin, getting our basic needs was going to be very difficult, and costly (Genesis 3:8-19), and ever since then, it has been.  We have to work long and hard to get what we need, and often times, at a great cost.

But, have you noticed that when we do get what we need there is this sense that we have gotten is not enough?  That, no matter how hard we work, and how much we get and/or achieve, it’s just not enough?  There even comes a time in which we begin seeking that missing piece of our lives that we feel will make our lives complete, and when we can’t find it at work, we look for it in relationships, alcohol, sex, drugs and many other places and things which leave us just as incomplete as we’ve always been.  Is this where you are?  Are you seeking that missing piece in your life?

Jesus has what you are seeking.  Look at what He says,

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you (Matthew 6:33).”

God is willing to provide for all our spiritual, physical and emotional needs, but with certain conditions.  Let’s look closely at what Jesus is teaching us in this very important verse.

First come the conditions for providing our needs:

  1. “But seek first…” – Jesus teaches us what must be our top priority search.  Nothing else can take it’s place. Then, He teaches us what we are to seeking above all else.
  2. “the kingdom of God…” – First, we must seek the kingdom of God.  This means that,  as Christians, our top priority must be to seek to spread the good news of what Jesus accomplished on the cross for the entire world, to the entire world.  As Christians, this is our main job, it is in our job description (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).
  3. “and His righteousness,” – Second, we must seek to conform personal conformity to His standard of righteousness, or holy living.  In other words, we must conform to His moral standards and not seek to live according to the world’s moral standards.  We must summit to His Lordship over our lives and strive to live in immediate, radical, costly obedience to His commands.

Now come the promise of His provision.

  1. “And all these things…” – Jesus wants us to know that He will provide everything we need to survive in this world, and to accomplish what He has commanded us to do.  Notice that He says, “all”.  He will not keep anything from us.
  2. “will be provided fr you.” – He, Jesus, is the source of our provision.  He already knows all that we need and He is ready and willing to provide it all for us.

Look at what Jesus says,

“So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you (Matthew 6:31-33).”

So, what are you seeking?  What drives you, or motivates you each day?  How’s life?

In Christ’s love.

Phil

Change

” if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

I’ve heard so many Christians grumble, gripe, snort, and complain about our country and  how we want it to change for the good.  We’re frustrated and angry, and blame everything and everyone, including our government, for the woes we face every day in our country.  Some us even live in fear of the direction in which our country is going.

The sad reality is that we Christians play a major role in the spiritual and moral decay in the United States of America.  Yes, I said it because if we take a good, honest look at ourselves, we can see that we have become weak, cowardly Christians who choose to put blinders on and hide within the four walls of our man-made temples, and/or homes.  We refuse to go out and introduce the world to the only One who can change the world, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

Do we Christians really want our country to change?  We must do what our God says we must do:

  1. Humble ourselves before God – we must recognize and acknowledge that God is Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent, and we are not.  God reminds us of why we should never trust ourselves: “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV Bold and italics mine).” 
  2. Pray – many of us have a minimal, or non-existent prayer life.  Prayer is one of the ways in which God and man can communicate with one another.  Expectant, fervent prayer demonstrates faith in our Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent God.
  3. Seek God’s face, His wise counsel – if we acknowledge and believe what God says about us (“our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked”), then it stands to reason that we must seek God and His perfect, wise counsel in all things.
  4. Repent – as a nation, we must repent of our ongoing sin.  We must ask God to forgive us for our idolatry as we try to replace our Creator with ourselves, and worship ourselves and all things created (Romans 1:18-32).  We must, as a nation, surrender to His Lordship.  We must become a nation that loves God above all else (Matthew 22:37), and love others (Christians and non-Christians alike) as we do our own selves (Matthew 22:39).

If we do these things, God promises to do three things,

  1. To hear our prayers for forgiveness and repentance from His throne in heaven-  if we cry out to Him with a humble, sincere, and contrite heart, He will hear our prayers (Psalms 51:17).
  2. To forgive our sins – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).”
  3. To heal our land – if we do what He has asked us to do, God will change the social and spiritual climate of our country and make us into the real, greatest country in the world as He intended us to be from the very beginning.

But none of this is going to happen as long as Christians continue to be isolationists and stay hidden from the world within the four walls of our temples.  If we want peace in our country, we must introduce it to the prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.

“No Jesus, no peace; know Jesus, know peace.”

So, Christians, we must get up, get out, and go to work!!!!

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).”

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends[a] of the earth (Acts 1:8).”

See you out there!

In Christ’s love,

Phil