Tag Archives: Christian Living

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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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

The Mark of a Christian

“For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14 HCSB)

In today’s verse, the Apostle Paul is reminding the Christians in Corinth that just because they had been liberated from and sin and the yoke of the Jewish law, did not mean they could go back to living in sin again.  He tells them that the only way to fulfill all of God’s law is to love their neighbors as they would their own selves.  Here’s what he says:

 For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself (Galatians 5:13-14).”

It has become more and more evident that today’s church has the same problem as the church at Corinth had.  We Christians, the church, have gone back to our selfish, self-centered, self-absorbed ways and forgotten the second greatest and most important of God’s commands.  Jesus reminds us of what should be most important in every Christian’s life:

“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 (Matthew 22:37-39).”

Two very important things to take away from this passage of scripture:

  1. We are commanded to love God above all other relationships in our lives (Luke 14:25-27).
  2. We are commanded to love our neighbor as we do our own selves.  So, if we love ourselves enough to make sure we don’t go to hell, we must love our neighbors enough not to let them go to hell, either.  If we love ourselves enough to provide everything we need for ourselves, we must also make sure that our neighbors are provided for, as well.

Seriously, church, how are we really doing at this?  How well are you loving your neighbors? How well are we loving our neighbors around the world?

The Apostle Paul explains it another way in Romans 13:8-10:

“Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments: Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not covet; and whatever other commandment—all are summed up by this: Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:8-10 HCSB).”

If we are Christians, Jesus teaches us to be the example of His love to all people. He says: 

“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).”

If someone were to ask our neighbors about us, what would they say about us?  Would they know that we are Christians by our love for them and others?  We have been called to be the example of God’s love to the entire world, beginning with our own neighbors next door, and then to the entire world.

So, then,

  • how are we going to obey today’s lesson? (make a plan, now)
  • With whom are we going to share today’s lesson? (pray and let the Lord show you with whom He wants you to share today’s lesson)
  • With whom are we going to share the story of our salvation, and the story of what Jesus has done for us?  (pray and let the Lord show you with whom He wants you to share your story, and His story, then go, do it)

 

In Christ’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