Category Archives: Obedience

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

 

 

Christ’s Law

“Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2 HCSB)

In today’s verse of scripture, we find one of the ways in which God expects, us, as Christians, to live our lives.  Notice that this is command, not a suggestion.  So, as Christians, we are to obey what He commands us to do.  This shouldn’t be hard to do. Jesus is our example.  He lived His life this way and we are to imitate Him.

Lets break the verse down and see what it truly says so that we can obey it correctly:

  1. “Carry…” – this is a command to go, get underneath the burden, and carry it.  There is no, “if you feel like it, go.”
  2. “one another’s…” – this involves all Christians, with no exceptions.  All Christians are to be involved in ministering to one another.  Jesus did this for us, even when we didn’t even deserve it.  We must do the same.
  3. “burdens;” – this means weight.  There are many Christinas who are weighted down with so many problems that they’re about to collapse.  We are not to let that happen.  If we know that they’re suffering, we don’t ask them if they need our help, because their pride will convince them to say, “no.” We just go and do what we can do to help.
  4. “in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” – when we carry each other’s burdens, we fulfill Christ’s moral law.  In another passage of Scripture, God, through the Apostle Paul tells us;

“Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves. Each one of us must please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even the Messiah did not please Himself. On the contrary, as it is written, The insults of those who insult You have fallen on Me (Romans 15:1-3 HCSB).”

As Christians, we are to live for the benefit of others, at the cost of our own benefit.  Jesus is our example, and this is the way that Jesus lived His life everyday.  God, through the Apostle Paul, teaches us that as God’s children, we are to be imitators of God:

“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 HCSB).”

If we are Christians, Christ lives in us, and if Christ lives in us, His love and compassion for others lives in us as well.  Then, His Spirit of love and compassion compels us to love and have compassion for others.  If we are not filled with love and compassion for others, there’s a problem with our relationship with God that needs to be addressed immediately.

Are you carrying a heavy load?  Only when we carry someone else’s load can ours be lifted.

So then,

  • how will we obey today’s Scriptures?
  • With whom will we share today’s lesson?
  • With whom will we share the story of our salvation and the story of wehat Jesus did for us?

In Christ’s love,

Phil

 

 

Motives

“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord evaluates the motives.” (Proverbs 21:2)

 

It amazes me that there are so many of us, who profess to be Christinas, who continue to live their lives according to their standard of living.  They live a selfish, self-centered, self-serving life that excludes God.  Today’s verse is one of those verses we love to hate because it tells a truth about ourselves we’re not willing to admit, and a truth about God we don’t want to accept.  Let’s break it down, and take a closer look at it.

  1. “All…” – the word, “all”, in this verse, is an all-inclusive word. It means, with no exclusions, or exceptions.
  2. “a man’s ways…” – this includes all we think, all we do, and all we say, with no exceptions.
  3. “seem right to him…” – selfish, self-serving pride convinces us that everything we think, do, and say, is right – that there is no wrong in us, so much so that we often pick a fight when others disagree with us.
  4. “but the Lord evaluates the motives.” –  God is our Lord.  He, alone, has the right, power, and authority to examine, evaluate, judge, and give us our just rewards for what motivates us to think, do, and say what we do.  Whatever He finds to be our motivation, He will give us our just rewards.  Take a look at what He says about us:

“The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable—who can understand it? I, Yahweh, examine the mind, I test the heart to give to each according to his way, according to what his actions deserve (Jeremiah 17:9-10).”

This is the part that we don’t want to accept about God.  There are many of us who truly believe that, because we are under grace, God will not judge, or punish us, for our sin.  Friends, when God said this, He was talking to His chosen people, the Israelites.  As Christians, we are also His people, adopted into His family through faith in what Jesus did on the cross for us.

God, through the Apostle Paul, says:

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things (Philippians 4:8).”

Everything we think, everything we do, and everything we say must honor God. The only way to truly honor God is to strive to live in immediate, radical, costly obedience to His commands.  Now, stop for a moment and ask yourself if your the motivation for the things you think, say, and do are to love and obey God, or to continue living according to your own agenda for your life.

So, then,
– how will we obey today’s Scriptures?
– With whom will we share 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

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

Die and Live

“For Christ’s love compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If One died for all, then all died. And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised.” (2 corinthians 5:14-15)

This is an extraordinary passage of scripture in which God, through the Apostle Paul, teaches us what it means, and looks like, to be a true Christian.  As Christians, many of us chose to continue living a selfish, self-serving life which is contrary to the way God says He wants us to live.  Today’s passage proves that.  What is God really telling us?  Let’s take a deeper look.

VERSE 14

  1. “For Christ’s love” – Christ’s love that, as Christians, now lives in us.  If we are Christians, we have accepted Christ’s love, the forgiveness of our sins through His death on a cross and eternal life through His resurrection.
  2. “compels us,” – Christ’s love is so powerful that it compels us to love Him back, to want to stick to Him, to be with Him all the time.
  3. “since we have reached this conclusion:” – the following is what we now know by Christ’s revelation.
  4. “If One died for all,” – This is what we now know, that Christ, compelled by His love for his Father, and for us, died on a cross for all the people of the world, excluding no one (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-7).  He did it publicly, on hill, so that the entire world would know.
  5. “then all died.” – that those who chose to believe in, and accept Christ’s gift, are compelled, through conviction, to die to their selfish, self-serving lives, to begin a new, righteous life through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Galatians 2:20 explains it this way:

 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20 NKJV).” 

VERSE 15

  1. “And he died for all so that those who live” – those who live, are those who now have eternal life because they have believed and accepted Christ’s free gift of salvation.  Christians.
  2. “should no longer live for themselves,” – as Christians we are to stop living a selfish, self-serving life.  We are to kill our desire to live to fulfill our fleshly wants and desires.
  3. “but for the One who died for them and was raised.” – we are to give up our selfish, self-serving lives to live in service to Christ.

Friends, this is what God expects from all of us who claim to be His – Christians.  If we are not compelled, or convicted, by the love He has demonstrated to us, to love Him back, and to serve Him, something is wrong.  We must be serving Him with our lives.  Service is a verb, it’s action, and it demands that we not sit around waiting for him to come back for us.  God, through the Apostle Paul explains it this way:

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself (James 2:14-17).”

While we wait for Christ to come back for us (John 14:1-3), we are to serve Christ by serving others.  This is proof positive that we are true Christians.  We are to live for the benefit of others, not of ourselves.  Jesus said:

“Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me (Luke 9:23).””

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 had 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