Tag Archives: Christian Living

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

 

 

Integrity and Blessing

“The one who lives with integrity is righteous; his children who come after him will be happy.” (Proverbs 20:7 HCSB)

Integrity seems to be a word that our society has taken out of our everyday vocabulary.  It appears not to be taught, or practiced, in our homes, schools, universities, in our work places, and definitely not in our local, state and federal government.  The frightening evidence of our lack of integrity is in the public display of it all around us, every day.  The most frightening part is that it can also be said of a lot of Christians, as well.  Today’s verse teaches a lesson we all should learn and heed.  Here’s what it says:

  1. “The one…” – makes reference to a man, a father.
  2. “who lives with integrity…” – a father who lives according to God’s moral standards; a father who does what is right according to God’s standards, in his private, and in public, no matter what it costs him.  
  3. “is righteous;” – a father who lives according to God’s moral standard is a godly man, and father; a Christian father. 
  4. “his children who come after him…” – those children who follow their godly father’s good example.
  5. “will be happy.” only the children who have and follow the example of their godly father will be blessed and happy.

So, today’s verse could be read, A godly man who lives according to God’s moral standard, will bring blessing and happiness upon his children who follow his good, godly example (Proverbs 20:7, paraphrased).

Can you imagine what our country would be like if we, fathers and future fathers, would make a commitment to live our lives according to God’s standards and teach those same standards to our children and grandchildren?  I realize that not every child will chose to follow a father’s example or teachings, but God says that they will never forget it, and maybe they will return to it at a later time.  Look at what He says:

 “Imprint these words of mine on your hearts and minds, bind them as a sign on your hands, and let them be a symbol on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (Deuteronomy 11:18-19).” 

If we are Christian fathers, it is our responsibility to make sure that our children know who God is, know how to know Him personally, and learn to put all their faith and trust in Him alone.  God put that responsibility on us, not our nannies, babysitters, moms, grandparents, Sunday School teachers, school teachers, or university professors.  God says:

“Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).”

So how can we do this with our busy schedules?

  1. We must make the spiritual well-being of our children is top priority.
  2. We must make their salvation top priority, for what will it profit them if they gain the whole world, but when they die, they end up in hell.  (Mark 8:36).
  3. They must see in us, what we’re trying to teach them.  They can’t see it if we’re not spending enough with them for them to see it.
  4. We must make the sacrifices necessary to get this done.
  5. OUR CHILDREN ARE WORTH IT!!!  ALL CHILDREN ARE WORTH IT!!!

So, then,

  • how are we going to obey today’s lesson?
  • With whom will we share what we learned in today’s lesson?
  • With who will we share the story of our salvation, and the story of Jesus has done for us?

In Christ’s love,

Phil Covone

 

Who Are You Going To Call?

 

“The name of Yahweh is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are protected.” (Proverbs 18:10)

Are you a Christian feeling hopeless, helpless, thinking you have no one to turn to, and no one to call?  THINK AGAIN!  Have you forgotten whose child you are and the name you carry?  Through today’s verse, God wants to remind you of some things you may have forgotten that have caused you to be where you are.  Here’s what He wants you to know:

  1. “The name of Yahweh…” – it alludes to the Person of God, His Character, His personality, and all His attributes.  He is Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Love, Merciful, Kind, and Just, who loves and cares about His creation.
  2. “is a strong tower;” – another one of His attributes.  A metaphor meaning that, He is the one and only Person in which you can seek, and find, refuge from the attacks of our common enemy, the Devil.
  3. “the righteous…” – Those who have placed all their faith and confidence in Him. He sent His One and Only Son, Jesus, to die on a cross, be buried, and rise again from the dead, in order to defeat the power of sin and death, and give us eternal life and protection (John 3:16-18).  
  4. “run to it and are protected.” – The Strong Tower of protection (God) is accessible only to those who, by faith in who He is, run to Him.  These are those who have placed their faith in Christ for salvation, and surrendered their lives to Him as their Lord, and Master (Romans 10:9-10).  Only these will receive God’s Omnipotent protection from the relentless attacks from the Devil.  

Sadly, many of us Christinas do not run to, or even call upon, God for help when we’re under attack by the enemy.  We tend to turn to friends who are as far away from God as we are, or alcohol to forget, or drugs to numb the pain, or isolation to hide the guilt and shame. This only leads to a much deeper and more difficult problem, depression.  Too many of us end up in a dark, cold, lonely place, and suffering such an excruciating pain, that they cannot see or find an escape.  God wants you to know several things:

  1. Hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness, guilt, and shame are often mental and emotional illusions, created by the Devil to keep you from running back to God.  Because you are a child of God, the Devil cannot have you, so he wants to destroy you and your testimony.  DO NOT LET THAT HAPPEN!!! Call out to God and run to Him, NOW!!!
  2. God wants you to run to Him, just as you are.  Don’t try to “clean-up” before you run to Him because you can’t.  He will clean you up when you ask Him to forgive you for straying from him.  CALL OUT AND RUN TO HIM, NOW!!!
  3. DO NOT LET THE DEVIL’S LIES KEEP YOU FROM GOD!!! God alone is your refuge and protection.

***If you have reached the stage of depression, God wants you to find a Christian Psychiatrist, and or counselor.  Your pastor should be able to help you with that, if not, you can find one online.*** 

So, who are you going to call?  Who are you going to run to?

In Christ’s love,

Phili 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