Category Archives: Encouragement

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

Strength and Power

“I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 HCSB)

It is difficult to truly understand today’s Scripture if we don’t look at it in the context in which it was written.  It’s easy to take a verse of Scripture and give it our own spin to meet our agenda.  This is why Christ’s church has divided itself into many denominations, sects, and cults.  As Christians, we must remember that the church is not a temple, but those who have made a public profession of faith in Christ, and have been baptized, according to God’s commands.

To fully understand today’s Scripture, lets take a look at what the Apostle Paul said in the verses preceding today’s.  Her’s what he said:

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that once again you renewed your care for me. You were, in fact, concerned about me but lacked the opportunity to show it. I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. Still, you did well by sharing with me in my hardship (Philippians 4:10-14 HCSB).”

Paul was thanking the church in Philippi for caring for him while he was on his missionary journey.  The church found out that Paul was suffering great need for the basic necessities of life, so they came together and sent him what he needed to be able to continue on.  Paul told them that, although he had learned to be content in poverty as in wealth, in having little, or having much, they did the right thing by supporting him financially so that he could continue in his work.  He told them that because Christ lived in him, Christ gave him the strength and power to do God’s will, and to endure all kinds of sufferings as he went about doing God’s will.

Paul revealed to the Philippians, and to us today, that we must learn to be content with what Jesus gives us, or does not give us, because through our sufferings, He will give others the opportunity to support us as we are on mission with Him; and through that, bless the givers immensely. Look at what he says about that:

“For even in Thessalonica you sent gifts for my need several times. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that is increasing to your account. But I have received everything in full, and I have an abundance. I am fully supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you provided—a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen (Philippians 4:16-20 HCSB).”

To go along with this, Jesus Himself teaches us the following:

“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 HCSB).”

As we go about His business, God will not only supply the strength and power we need to continue on, but He will also supply our every necessity for life, no matter the circumstances we may be suffering. Do you believe Jesus’ promise?

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

No Fear

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

If we have recognized and accepted God as our Lord and Savior, there must be NO FEAR in us.  Yet, many of us who say that we have put all our faith and trust in God, live in constant fear.  This is a contradiction.  We either believe and trust in the fact that God is Omniscient (there are no limits to His knowledge and wisdom), Omnipotent (there are no limits to His power), and Omnipresent (there no place where His presence is not), or we don’t.  We are either all-in, or all-out.  We either fully believe and trust Him, or we don’t.

Fear is evidence of our lack of trust in our Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent God.  God has never, does not now, nor will He ever, break His promises.  So, when God says that He will give us the strength to continue on during our hardest and most trying times, and will sustain us during the pressures of everyday living, HE WILL DO IT!  However, He will not do it for those who refuse to put the full measure of their faith and trust in Him.  Look at what He is telling us through the Prophet Isaiah:

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

Are you a Christian who struggles with fear?  Could it be that it’s because your relationship with God is fractured because you have been focused on your problems instead of on the Problem Solver?  When Jesus called Peter out of the boat onto the stormy waters of the Sea of Galilee, Peter, putting all his faith and trust in Jesus, got out of the boat and started walking on water towards Jesus who was walking on the Sea of Galilee.  However, when he took his eyes off of Jesus to focus on the stormy water under his feet, Peter began to sink and drown (Matthew 14:22-33).  Something came between he and Jesus that caused him to sink and fear came over him, again.  His fear of the stormy water became greater than his faith in Christ, who had caused him to walk on water, and who moments later, calmed the stormy sea.

If this is you and you want to live in the perfect peace of God, remember what Jesus said and promised us:

“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).”

If we commit to striving to live in immediate, radical, costly obedience to His commands, God will provide everything we need.  We will live in complete and perfect peace.  Would you like for your peace to be restored?

  1. Ask God to forgive you for focusing on your problems, instead of Him.
  2. Ask God to give you the strength to continue focused on growing your faith in Him.
  3. Ask God to sustain you through the pressures of your life.

Will you do it?  “Do what He says, and watch what He does.”

In Christ’s love,

Phil Covone

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

What’s In Your Heart?

God, through the Apostle Paul, tells us that, when we put all our faith in Christ, and we turn away from our sinful path to follow Christ, the Holy Spirit enters into our hearts and minds, and He, then, begins to transform us into the very image of Jesus Christ:

“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).”

He also describes for us what that “new creation” looks like,

 

“For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers (Romans8:29).”

Today’s verse teaches us another characteristic of a person who is a real Christian.  It says:

“No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29).”

There are a few things he wants us to know in this one verse:

  1. “No foul language is to come from your mouth,” – The world “foul” literally means: morally bankrupt; immoral, therefore, worthless.  He is referring to language used with the intent to demean, bemoan, offend, and/or destroy another person’s character, and self-worth. This is what is natural for a person who is not a Christian and Christians are to be different.
  2. “but only what is good for building up someone in need,” – A Christians our speech must always be for the purpose of building up, edifying, encouraging, the weaker Christians to live a holy and acceptable life to God (Romans 12:1).  It is also a way to testify about, and demonstrate, our personal relationship with Christ to the non-Christian community.
  3. “so that it gives grace to those who hear.” –  Our speech should give grace, unmerited favor, to all people who hear us speak, Christians and non-Christians alike.  Our grace should not depend on how people treat us or speak to us, first.  We must give grace in speech, and in deed, no matter how others treat us.

What comes out of our mouths is irrefutable evidence of what rules our hearts.  Jesus said,

“A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart (Luke 6:45).”

So, who, or what’s in you heart?

In Christ’s love,

Phil

 

Rest in the Lord

As Christinas, we must rest in the quiet expectation that God is going to deliver us from the evil people, in our lives, who want to do us harm.

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

We all have people in our lives who we know want to do us some kind of harm, not just physical harm, but spiritual, emotional, and financial harm, as well.  At times they seem to surround and attack us all at once, leaving us feeling hopeless and helpless.  Many of us may be suffering, deeply, from these kind of attacks, right now.  But, we don’t have to.

I have found that most of my suffering has come because I’ve tried to fight battles I know I cannot win, battles that were never meant for me to fight. I didn’t allow God to protect me as He fights these battles for me.  I have come to realize that pride, self-reliance, and lack of faith in God’s Omniscience, Omnipotence, and Omnipresence cause me to get in His way when He wants to shield and protect me from the evil ones trying to harm me.

God, through the Prophet Isaiah, says:

“No weapon formed against you will succeed,
and you will refute any accusation
raised against you in court.
This is the heritage of the Lord’s servants,
and their righteousness is from Me.”
This is the Lord’s declaration (Isaiah 54:17).””

As Christians, God expects us to have, and demonstrate, the kind of faith King David did. Kind David said:

“If I walk into the thick of danger,
You will preserve my life
from the anger of my enemies.
You will extend Your hand;
Your right hand will save me (Psalms 138:7).”

How does God say we can be at quiet peace as we face the evil that surrounds us?

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

So, as we think about today’s Scriptures,

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

Write the answers down, and then, go do it!

In Christ’s love,

Phil