Category Archives: Christian Living

Love One Another

“Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:11-12 HCSB)

Church, how else is the world going to know Jesus if the world doesn’t see and hear Jesus in us?  Are we ashamed to speak and act like Jesus?  Then why aren’t we doing it?  I know what some of us are saying, right now, “Of course I’m not ashamed of Jesus, how dare you question my love for Him!”  And some of us are even adding an excuse to it, saying, “I just don’t want to offend anyone!”  We seem to have forgotten that Jesus, our Lord and King, has given us a command:

 “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35 HCSB).”

How can we, the church, love others outside the church, when we can’t even love one another, in the church?  How can we even call ourselves Christians when we are indifferent to the suffering of our Christians brothers and sisters?  One of the saddest things I’ve ever seen is a church budget.  We spend thousands of dollars caring for buildings and programs, and just a few dollars, in comparison, for the overall care of our own brothers and sisters in need.  Where we, the church, spend the most money is where our hearts are.

I would rather be hated by the world for my love for God and others, than be loved by the world for my indifference.  Jesus loved me and gave Himself for me and others, so I will love Him and give myself for Him and others in return.  I will love Him, and others, even if it costs me my life, because I would rather be loved by God and hated by the world, than to be loved by the world and hated by God.

So, church, how can we love one another as the Lord has commanded us to do?  It’s simple, just find someone in your congregation that is need of love and care, and love and care for them.  Supply their needs without expecting anything in return.

Church, if there is no benevolence fund for your congregation in your budget, isn’t it time to change that?  Isn’t it time to be an example to the world of what it looks like to love one another?  If we want our world to change, change has to begin with us.

Got Peace?

“You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.” (Isaiah 26:3 HCSB)

Many of us Christians do not live in God’s perfect peace.  Instead, we choose to be self-sufficient, completely setting God aside.  We have made up our minds to depend wholly on ourselves.  We’ve looked at our Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent God and said to Him, “Step aside, God, I’ve got this. I don’t need you.”

Then, when things don’t go the way we thought they would, we’re too prideful to admit we made a mistake.  We are quick to blame others, including God, for our mistakes and the consequences we’re suffering.  Even though we may be part of a higher socio economic class, we still have no peace because we have put our faith in money, which we know we can lose in the blink of an eye.  Jesus said:

 “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money (Matthew 6:24 HCSB).”

God expects every one of His children to put the full measure of their faith and dependence in Him, just as new born babies do their parents.  He alone is our “Good, Good, Father.”  No one else can match His great love and care for us because we are His.

Here’s is how we can have that “prefect peace that God offers:

  1. Put the full measure of your faith and dependence in Him alone.  Do not try to be self-sufficient.  You are not Omniscient, Omnipotent, nor Omnipresent.
  2. Strengthen your faith and dependence in Him by staying in a constant posture of prayer, and by reading His Word, every day!
  3. Stay busy obeying what God reveals to you through prayer and the reading of His Word.  Worry more about that, than anything else.

Father in Heaven, I lift up the person who is reading this, to You.  I pray that they will humble themselves before You, go to Your throne of grace and pray, seek Your face, and turn away from their selfish pride.  I ask that You will increase their faith and help them put the full measure of their faith and dependence entirely in You.  Grant them peace.  May it be so, Father.  In Jesus’ name.

In Christ’s love,

Phil Covone

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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“Holy Death”

A family, friends of ours, lives in a typical neighborhood in our city that is surrounded by temples to the “holy death” (one of them is pictured above).  On the outside walls of the temples they paint images of a skeleton and build shrines around it so that passers by can stop and worship and pray to it, as seen in the above photo.  People pray to the “holy death” for protection from death, and for the “holy death” to avenge the death of family and loved ones at the hands of others.  This practice was started by narco-traffickers, and sex-traffickers, who are warring against each other, and against police.

People also call upon the “holy death” to commit acts of evil against family members who have wronged them, or who have chosen not to remain under Roman Catholic rule.  Our friends are Evangelical Christians and their families have turned against them.  Some of their family members have called upon witches and witch-doctors to cast evil spells on them in order to force them back into Roman Catholicism.  Every night, one of their daughters sees shadows roaming around her bedroom.  She prays out loud asking God to remove the evil spirits, which He does, and she can finally sleep.  One afternoon, her mother was putting clothes on the line to dry.  Before she got finished, she went in the house for something and both she and her daughter saw some of the clothes being pulled off the line, but there was nobody there doing it.  They prayed together and the evil spirit left.  This is very common.

Some of you may be wondering how the Roman Catholic Church, in Mexico, feels about worshiping and praying to the holy death.  The fact is, even though they would never admit it, the Roman Catholic Church sanctions and encourages it, as you can see in the picture below.

santa-muerte-1

Through all of this, though, our friends have remained faithful to the Lord and have never wavered in their faith, even though they are surrounded by evil and are being persecuted by their own families and friends.

God tells us:

“In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12 HCSB).”

Friends, this is why God has us in Mexico.  He has sent us here to share the Good News of Christ with this very spiritually dark country.  Please pray for us and this precious family as we continue to do battle against evil, every day.  In Christ’s love, thank you.

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Ashamed or Rejoicing?

“But if anyone suffers as a “Christian,” he should not be ashamed but should glorify God in having that name.” (1 Peter 4:16)

The name “Christians” was originally used by heathens to ridicule those who were Christ followers.  The word “Christian” literally means, follower of Christ.  So, then, the Christian religion was not about learning and following a series of doctrines, but about following Christ, the Messiah, in words and deeds.  When a person was called a Christian it was because they spoke and acted like Jesus.  The heathens had no idea that what was meant to offend, became a badge of honor.

Today, it appears as if many of us who call ourselves Christinas in private and around other Christians, prefer not to known as Christians in public because they fear ridicule and persecution by present day heathens.  There seems to be shame associated with being a Christian.  We willfully and intentionally try to hide the fact that we are Christ followers from everyone who is not a Christian to the point that we blend in with the heathen.

But in today’s verse, God, through the Apostle Peter, teaches us a great lesson.  He teaches us that if we suffer ridicule, or persecution, for being Christians, we should not be ashamed, but be proud and glorify God because we bear the name of Christ.  We should rejoice in the fact that we are deemed worthy to be “dishonored” and suffer on behalf of Christ’s name:

“Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Name.” (Acts 5:41 HCSB).”

Jesus taught us Who the only Person is we should fear and why we should fear Him:

“And I say to you, My friends, don’t fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will show you the One to fear: Fear Him who has authority to throw people into hell after death. Yes, I say to you, this is the One to fear! (Luke 12:4-5).”

So, then, are you ashamed to be known as a Christian?  Do you fear ridicule, persecution, and/or death at the hands of heathens? Or are you proud to bear the name of Christ?  If you are ashamed, then you don’t know Him.  If you want to know Him, let me know in a comment below.

In Christ’s love,

Phil Covone

Temptation

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Wow!!!  What a powerful, and encouraging passage of Scripture, especially for us Christians.  Contrary to popular belief, even among Christians, there is no such thing as a superhuman temptation that can overpower us, and force us to summit to sin.  That is great news, is it not?  God, through the Apostle Paul, teaches us a great lesson about temptation.

First, let’s define temptation. Nelson’s Bible Dictionary defines temptation as “an enticement or invitation to sin, with the implied promise of greater good to be derived from following the way of disobedience.”  Notice that temptation is nothing more that an enticement or invitation to which we have the power to decline.  What makes it so hard to resist is the promise of something “good” for our disobedience to God.  Always remember that Satan is the great tempter (Matthew 4:3: 1 Thessalonians 3:5), and the father of all lies (John 8:44).  So, if Satan is enticing us to do something that is wrong in God’s eyes, and promising us something good for doing what is wrong, IT’S A LIE!!!

There are five very important things we are able to take away from today’s passage of Scripture:

  1. “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity.” – Paul reminds the Corinthian church, and us, that there is no such thing as a superhuman temptation that can not be resisted by humans.  There is no need for us to trow our hands up and give in to temptation.
  2. “God is faithful.” – when we are tempted, God is always there for us.  He “never leaves us or forsakes us”, especially in times of trouble.
  3. “He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able,” – God will not allow Satan to tempt us beyond what we are capable of resisting.  God knows the full measure of our strength.  Therefore, He will not allow Satan to tempt us beyond what we are able to resist.
  4. with the temptation He will provide a way to escape…” – God not only controls how hard we are tempted, He also provides a way to escape temptations.  When we’re in a dark theater we can be comforted in the fact that if something happens, there are always lit exit signs that will help us escape danger.
  5. “so that you are able to bear it.” – so that we are able to resist it.

So, what are our God given defenses against temptation?

  1. God’s Word –  God demands immediate, radical, costly obedience to His commands.   The Psalmist says, “I have hidden your word in my heart so that I might not sin against you (Psalms 119:11).”  Jesus fought Satan’s temptations by quoting Scriptures (Matthew 4:4-10).  We must make time to study God’s Word: “Oh, how I love thy law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies (Psalms 119:97-98).”
  2. Prayer – The night Jesus was betrayed, Jesus prayed and commanded Peter to pray so that he would not fall into temptation (Mark 14:38).”  In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray that we would not be led into temptation (Matthew 6:13; Luke 11:4).”
  3. Common sense – We must not put ourselves in situations that will exploit our weaknesses.  If gambling is a weakness, do not go to casinos or places where where betting games are offered.  If alcoholic beverages are our weakness, we must stay out of places that serve alcoholic beverages…we get the point, don’t we?

So now that we are well equipped to fight and overcome Satan’s attacks (Ephesians 6),

  • How will we obey what we’ve learned in today’s lesson?
  • With whom will we share what we learned in today’s lesson?
  • With whom will we share the story of our salvation, and the story of what Jesus did for us?

In Christ’s love,

Phil Covone

How Well Do We Know Ourselves?

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalms 139:23-24)

Because of our sin nature, every one of us has a skewed view of our selves.  Sin is what is familiar to us, which blurs what’s important.  Because of our sin nature, we excuse the wrong we do and lessen our guilt for doing it.  This is what is normal to us.  The result of this is that we see ourselves very differently than others do, and even how God does.  There could be, in each one of us, an evil habit, or a strong pull to do what is wrong in God’s eyes, which, if not dealt with, can overpower and destroy us.  Not only that, there could also be something in our hearts or lives, that causes us to think less of ourselves, nullifying our ability to be an influence for good.  Here’s the thing, we may not even be aware of all this.  Look at what God tells us about ourselves, through the Prophet Jeremiah:

“The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable—who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9).”

The very next verse (verse 10) aught to cause us to tremble, and to be grateful at the same time:

“I, Yahweh, examine the mind, I test the heart to give to each according to his way, according to what his actions deserve Jeremiah 17:10).”

  1. “Tremble” because He is going to judge us and punish us according to whether we live our lives according to His will, or our will.
  2. “Grateful” because He loves us enough to warn us and give us the opportunity to drop our own way of living and live according to His ways.

The reality is that we do not know ourselves as well as we portray ourselves to.  Therefore, the wise thing to do on our part, is to ask our Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent God to do for us what King David begged Him to do for him in today’s passage of Scripture.  King David asks God to do four very important things for Him:

  1. “Search me, God, and know my heart;” – He asks God to search the very depths of his heart – that God would search every part of his being, leaving nothing about him unstarched.
  2. “test me and know my concerns.” – He asks God to test and see that he is not representing himself as a God loving, God fearing man, when he is not.
  3. “See if there is any offensive way in me;” – He asks God to make sure there is nothing in himself that is offensive to God.  He does not want to offend God in any way.
  4. “lead me in the everlasting way.” –  King David asks God to put him on the path to, and lead him on the way to eternal life. In others words, He wants to live according to God’s will, which will lead him to an eternal life in heaven with God.

King David was afraid of breaking God’s heart again, and becoming useless to Him. How well do you know yourself?  Is there anything hidden in your life that is hindering you from being an instrument of God for good?

Will we all have the courage to ask God for what King David asked Him?

In Christ’s love,

Phil Covone