Category Archives: Encouragement

Stop and Rest; I’ve Got This

“The Lord will fight for you; you must be quiet.” (Exodus 14:14HCSB))

As human beings, we tend to try to face problems, and fight battles, that we know we have no chance against. We are fighting so many, and so many types of battles, each day that we feel as if we can’t keep going, that we don’t have a choice but to give up.  Unfortunately, this is a huge problem among Christians, as well, when it ought not be.

In today’s verse, God makes every single person a promise we cannot afford to miss. Let’s take a look:

  1. “The Lord will fight for you;” –  God Himself is ready and willing to fight those battles we have no chance against. The Bible tells us that there is nothing that God cannot do (Luke 1:37), and that there is no power greater than Him (Jeremiah 32:17).  Even when things are so hard and painful that we don’t even know how to pray, the Holy Spirit knows our petitions and takes them to God, interceding for us (Romans 8:26).  So it’s ridiculous for us to keep on fighting against things we have no chance against, right?
  2. “you must be quiet.” – God is telling us to STOP fighting, and rest; to rest and be quiet as He goes to battle for us.  He wants us to let go of all the stuff, all the baggage, all the stresses, all the pain others have caused us, all the guilt of our past, all the garbage that is killing us inside, and out.

God is calling out to us, saying: “Stop and Rest; I’ve Got This. Just trust Me.” So, how do we let go of all this stuff?  First, we must put the full measure of our faith and trust in the fact that God is the One and Only, Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent God.  Second, we must ask Him to forgive us for trying to live our lives apart from Him. Third, we must surrender our lives to Him as our Lord and Savior.  Fourth, we must surrender every aspect of our lives to Him, including all the problems and battles we are fighting, not withholding anything from Him.

Friends, God is our only hope.  He alone holds all the answers to all our problems, no matter how big we may think they are.  There is nothing, nor anyone bigger, or greater than Him.  Place the full measure of your faith and trust in Him, today!

In Christ’s love,

Phil Covone

Stop!

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalms 46:10 NKJV)

There are times in which we are to arrogant and self-absorbed for our own good.  We all have battles we’ve been fighting against for years, alone, to no avail.  Our egos are bigger than the world, and we refuse to turn to anyone for the help we so obviously need.  Even though our loved ones and friends see the futility of our battles and beg us to get the help we need, we reject them and continue to fight a battle we cannot win.  If we are not going to listen to our loved ones and friends, maybe we will listen to God. After all, He is the Omnipotent One.

For those of us who are hardheaded, listen to what our God tells us in today’s verse:

  1. “Be still,” – Literally, God says, “Stop fighting!”  God is also Omniscient, He knows we are in a battle in which we cannot prevail, and orders us to STOP!  Sometimes we are cheering for ourselves so loud that we can’t hear God’s gentle and quiet voice telling to stop and turn to Him, that He now has to yell at us to get our attention.
  2. “and know that I am God;” – in a sense, God wants to show off for us.  He wants to take over and fight this battle we’ve been fighting for so long, and defeat it.  He wants to remind us, as Christians, that He is still God, and that He is still Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent.  There is nothing He doesn’t know about us, there is nothing He can’t do for us, and that there is no place we can go in which He is not already there.  God wants us to put the full measure of our faith and trust in Him, then watch what He does.
  3. “I will be exalted among the nations,” – When we allow God to intervene in our lives, all those around us will get to see God’s power over all circumstances. That gives them the opportunity to put their faith and trust in Him also.
  4. “I will be exalted in the earth!” – when God intervenes and does something that we couldn’t do for ourselves, then everyone around us will know that it had to be God, and He alone will get the honor, glory and praise.  We must also proclaim to the world what He does; He wants the entire world to know about Himself and wants to use us to let the entire world know about His greatness.

God will never ask us to “be still”, or to “stop fighting” so that we can be defeated, but so that He can show up and blow our minds, and the minds of those around us, with what He does for us.

It is more courageous to admit that we are not able to do something, and let God intervene, than to continue doing what is easy; fighting a battle that we know we cannot win.  So we must not be afraid to be still, stop fighting, for fear of what others may think of us.

Are you fighting a battle that you know you cannot win?  Are you tired and weary of the fight?  Then,

  • how will you obey today’s lesson?
  • With whom will you share today’s lesson?
  • With whom will you share the story of your salvation, and the story of what Jesus has done for you?

In Christ’s love,

Phil Covone

Troubled?

“Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.”                   (John 14:1 HCSB)

As the time grew near for Jesus to be crucified, His disciples grew more and more concerned that they would be left alone.  All of a sudden, after following Jesus faithfully for three years, they are facing His departure.  They didn’t know what would become of them since their master and friend would no longer be with them to teach them and show them what to do.  Jesus knew this, and beginning in today’s verse of Scripture, He delivers to them one of the greatest messages, ever.  It is a message of hope and joy, not only for them, but for all of us today.

How many of us are feeling that Jesus is far away from us?  If we are Christians and feel that way, it’s because we walked away from Him, not Him from us.  Sadly, many of us Christians live as if Jesus is a liar, even though we know He is not.  Let’s let today’s verse remind us of where, and in whom, we must put our faith.

  1. “Your heart must not be troubled.” – Jesus is telling us not to let our hearts be troubled because there is Someone whom we can count on, Someone who will never betray us, Someone who will never leave us, nor forsake us, Someone who already knows and feels what we’re going through. There is Someone who loves us unconditionally, no matter how bad we may think we are, or have been, Someone who will cary us through our hardest, loneliest, and most painful times.
  2. “Believe in God;” – the God of the Old Testament delivered the Israelites from their Egyptian captors. Then, as they spent forty years traveling through the dessert to the land He had promised them, He protected them from all those who tried to destroy them, and through miracles, He supplied their every need.
  3. “believe also in Me.” – Jesus reveals to them that He is that very same God, only in the flesh (John 1:14).  Therefore, they should put all their faith and trust in Him, as they did in the God that they had always heard about.  God did not forsake their ancestors, Jesus would not forsake them, nor will He forsake us today.

 

Now, here’s what Jesus wants us to believe and never forget, because this is our hope and our unspeakable joy:

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. You know the way to where I am going (John 14:2-4 HCSB).”

Jesus did not leave us as orphans, He promised the He would return for us so that where He is, right now, we will also.  In the mean time, we are not to throw our hands up and give up.  On the contrary, we are to, by faith in Him and His Word, persevere in faith until He returns for us.

 But the one who endures to the end will be delivered (Matthew 24:13 HCSB).”

Difficult circumstances are not evidence of God’s absence, but an opportunity to demonstrate our faith in His promises.  Is your heart troubled?  Do you want peace and joy?  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

God’s Mysteries

“But as it is written: What eye did not see and ear did not hear, and what never entered the human mind— God prepared this for those who love Him.”                      (1 Corinthians 2:9)

There are so many religious denominations and doctrines in the world today that were started by men and women who base their beliefs on their own limited, spiritual wisdom and understanding, rather than on God’s revelation through the Holy Spirit.  This is why God warns us and tells us to not believe every spirit, but to check to see if it’s from God, before believing them:

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1).”

Sadly, as I’ve said before, most people don’t want to take time to read, much less study, God’s Word.  Thus, they foolishly follow false doctrines taught by false prophets, who are leading them straight to hell.  Let’s not let that happen to us.  Let’s see what God is really teaching us through today’s verse.

First, let’s take a look at the context.  In verses one through eight, the Apostle Paul makes it very clear to all of us that he is speaking about the spiritual realm of both God and man.  It is a spiritual communication between the all-wise Holy Spirit of God, and the spirit of man, whose wisdom is severely limited.  He explains that everything he had taught the church at Corinth, did not come from him, but from God’s revelation to him through the Holy Spirit.  Understanding this, now we can look at what today’s verse says. Paul goes on to say:

  1. “But as it is written:” – although Paul’s source for his following quote is not known, it is clear that it has it’s origins in Scripture because of what is revealed through it.
  2. “What eye did not see and ear did not hear, and what never entered the human mind…” – refers to God’s mysteries, things that humanity in its own wisdom could never understand or explain.  Mainly, His love and grace shown to us through what He did for us through His Son, Jesus.
  3. “God prepared this for those who love Him.” – from before the foundation of the world, God chose to open the spiritual eyes of those who chose love Him and put their faith and trust in Him.  He did this so that we could get to know Him, understand Him, love Him, and thus, serve Him.  The more we know and understand God, the more we are compelled to love Him.

God’s greatest mystery is His amazing love for us.  Do you want to know about His love for you?  Do you want to know what His love compelled Him to do for you?  Let me now by responding below on this blog.

In Christi’s love,

Phil Covone

Love

“If I speak human or angelic languages but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”  (1 Corinthians 13:1 HCSB)

There are too many denominations that have missed the point of today’s verse.  Instead of focusing on the important lesson God is trying to teach us, they focus on what’s least important to God.  This happens way more often than it should.  We seem to have forgotten how dangerous it is to refocus God’s Word from what is important to God, to what’s most important to us. After all, this is God’s Word, not ours to do with as we wish.

In essence, what God, through the Apostle Paul, is teaching us is that no matter how intelligent, or spiritual we think we are, if we don’t love others, it all means nothing.  As Christians, there should never be anything more important to us, than that which is most important to God, NOTHING!  In fact, we are to be imitators of God, not the world.  Look at what God says;

“Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children.  And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God (Ephesians 5:1-2).”

We know that the essence of God is Love.  At the core of His Being is Love.  His Character, and everything He does is driven by the Essence of who He is, Love.  Therefore, if God lives in us, and we’ve crucified all our passions and desires, all there is left in us is God, and all of who He is, Love.  God, through the Apostle John, says this:

“Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:7-8).”

There is a great difference between knowing about God, and knowing God, personally.  Those who do not have a personal relationship with God, cannot love the way God loves. Only those who do have a personal relationship with God can love as God loves because God resides in them.

So how important is it love to God?  Jesus answered that when a Pharisee asked Him which of all the laws was the most important.  This was Jesus’ response:

“He said to him, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands (Matthew 22:37-40).”

What Jesus means is that if we love God above all other relationships we have here on earth, and we love others (Christians and non-Christians alike) as we love our own selves, we are obeying and fulfilling all of God’s law.  Love is the most important of all of God’s law.  Jesus also gave us this 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).”

So, my question is, what defines you as a Christian?  If love is the mark of a true Christian, doesn’t it stand to reason that love is what defines who we are personally, and as Jesus’ church?

In Christ’s love,

Phil Covone

 

Crucified

“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24)

It is an awesome day when a person decides to put all their faith in Christ and surrender their lives to Christ as their Lord and Savior (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10).  There’s a sense of true peace to know that we have passed from eternal death, to eternal life.  Jesus said: 

“I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life (John 5:24).”

What this means is that, when we surrender our lives to Christ, we begin a new life in Him.  We die to our old way of living and begin a new way of life as God, through the Apostle Paul, tells us:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come (2 Corinthians 5;17).”

Now, in today’s verse of Scripture, the Apostle Paul teaches us how this new life begins.  But to fully understand it in the context it was written, we need to look at the preceding verses.  Here are verses 19, through 23:

“Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:19-23).”

Here, God, through the Apostle Paul, explains the difference between a non-Christian, and a true Christian. The evidence of a person in whom Christ does not lives is: “sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar”.  By contrast, the evidence of a person in whom Christ does live, is: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control.”  

So, in today’s verse, God, through the Apostle Paul, teaches us the process by which we go from living for self, to living for Christ.  Let’s take a closer look.

  1. “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus…” – These are the people who have,
    –  believed and accepted the fact that they are sinners in need of a Savior.
    –  believed and accepted the fact that Jesus was sent by God die on a cross for the forgiveness fo their sins
    –  believe and accept the fact that Jesus was buried and rose again from the dead to give them eternal life
    –  believe and accept the fact that this is a free gift from God, something that cannot be earned, no bought
    –  made a commitment, with Christ, to seek Him every day, follow Him no matter where He leads them, and strive to live in immediate, radical, costly obedience to His commands
  2. “have crucified…” – the cross is a symbol of death.  Therefore, we have chosen to crucify, or kill, our old self to begin a new life in Christ.
  3. “the flesh…” – this refers to the sinful nature into which we were born.  We are, by nature, sinful.
  4. “with it’s passions…” – a heart for what is wrong (sin) in God’s eyes.
  5. “and desires.” – a deep desire to satisfy our carnal desires.

If this is what it means to be a Christian, we need to self-examine our lives to see if we are living according to God’s standards, and not what we think, or have been erroneously taught by others.

Now, then,

  • how are we going to obey what we’ve learned in today’s lesson?
  • With whom are we going to share today’s lesson?
  • With Whom are we going to share the story of our salvation, and that Jesus did for us?

In Christ’s love,

Phil Covone