Tag Archives: Encouragement

God’s Gift to Us

“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—  not from works, so that no one can boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9 HCSB)

 

Here’s what God is telling us in this verse of Scripture:

  1. “For you are saved…” – This means that we are saved from God’s judgement and wrath because of our rebellion against Him.  God created us to glorify Him with our lives by living in immediate, radical, costly obedience to Him, but we have chosen to rebel against Him, bringing upon ourselves God’s wrath (Romans 6:23).
  2. “by grace…” – Grace, in this case, is God’s unmerited favor upon us.  This means that God, despite our rebellion against Him, loved us (His creation) so much, that He chose to sacrifice His One and Only Son, Jesus, as payment for our sin so that our rebellion against Him might be forgiven.  Jesus willingly obeyed God and offered Himself up as a sacrifice to God for our atonement.  God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice and raised Him from the dead in order to complete His redemptive work, and give us eternal life, saving us from His wrath (Romans 5:8).
  3. “through faith… – To be saved from God’s wrath, all we have to do is believe with all our hearts in what God has done for us through Jesus’ death and resurrection, and live the rest of or lives confessing it to the world, beginning where we are (John 3:16; Romans 10:10).
  4. “and this not of yourselves;…” – This means that we cannot save ourselves; that there is nothing we can do for God that He would accept as payment for our salvation because we are ruled by our sin nature (Rome 3:23). We are stained by our sin, but Jesus never sinned, therefore, His sacrifice was acceptable to God.
  5. “it is God’s gift…” – A gift is a some one gives without expecting payment for it, otherwise, it is no longer a gift.  God’s plan for our salvation is paid for, in full, by Him, through what Jesus did on the cross for us.  Nothing is required of us, except faith, and faith is not a “work”, just a heartfelt belief.
  6. “not from works…” – What Jesus did for us is completely sufficient for the salvation of our souls.  There is nothing else that needs to be done by God, by Jesus, or by us, contrary to what other religions say.  God said it, that settles it (Titus 3:5-7).
  7. “so that no one can boast.” – Because we are pulled by sin, God knows that we are filled with pride.  Therefore, God took the responsibility of our salvation off of us, and put it squarely on Jesus’ shoulders, so that we could not ever take credit for something that only Jesus could do.

Here’s what Jesus said:

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Anyone who believes in him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God (John 3:16-18 HCSB).”

“The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who rejects the Son[a] will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him (John 3:36).”

So, knowing what you now know, are you willing to risk God’s wrath upon you, and spending eternity in complete separation from our loving God in eternal torment?  Would you consider putting the full measure of your faith in Christ, today?  If you choose to do so and need help, let me know below, or by private message.

Life and Death

“The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36 HCSB)

There are those who read this verse and immediately think that God is cruel, and without love, or compassion for people as He claims to have.  Most people who believe this way do not understand God because they have very little, or no knowledge of God.  What’s most troubling is that there are many who call themselves Christians who have this same mindset and have no idea of the danger they are in.  So, let’s break down and understand this verse.

  1.  “The one who believes in the Son…” – the word “believe”, here, means much more than a simple intellectual conviction that Jesus exists, and that He died on a cross, and rose from the dead.  God, in James 2:19, tells us that even the demons believe in Jesus, and even shudder in fear of Him.  This does not mean that demons are going to heaven.  The belief that this verse speaks of is a complete, unconditional surrender of our lives to the lordship of Christ in such a way that we strive to live in immediate, radical, costly obedience to His commands; not out of obligation, or as a “stay out of hell card”, but because we understand what He has done for us.
  2. “has eternal life,” – eternal life in heaven with Him is our reward for surrendering our lives to Jesus, and submitting ourselves to His Lordship, in such a way that we strive to live in immediate, radical, costly obedience to His commands.
  3. “but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life;” – the person who outright refuses to surrender his/her life to the lordship of Christ, and refuses to live in immediate, radical, costly obedience to His commands. this person will not see eternal life in heaven with Jesus.
  4. “instead, the wrath of God remains on him.” – God’s wrath remains on us because we choose to live our lives in rebellion against Him, which is what’s in our nature to do.  We don’t want to surrender our lives to anyone, or anything, unless it satisfies our lusts, and desires for the things of this world – “the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-17).”

Here is what we need to understand about God, folks.  God does not hate anyone.  On the contrary.  God loves us all enough to give us the choice to surrender to Him and live according to His will and purpose, or to live according to our will and desires.  But, He also loves us enough to warn us of the consequences of not living according to His will and purpose.

God sends no-one to hell.  We send ourselves to hell by the choice we make.  With every choice we make, we also choose the consequences we will suffer.

In Christ’s love,

Phil

Love One Another

“Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:11-12 HCSB)

Church, how else is the world going to know Jesus if the world doesn’t see and hear Jesus in us?  Are we ashamed to speak and act like Jesus?  Then why aren’t we doing it?  I know what some of us are saying, right now, “Of course I’m not ashamed of Jesus, how dare you question my love for Him!”  And some of us are even adding an excuse to it, saying, “I just don’t want to offend anyone!”  We seem to have forgotten that Jesus, our Lord and King, has given us a 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 HCSB).”

How can we, the church, love others outside the church, when we can’t even love one another, in the church?  How can we even call ourselves Christians when we are indifferent to the suffering of our Christians brothers and sisters?  One of the saddest things I’ve ever seen is a church budget.  We spend thousands of dollars caring for buildings and programs, and just a few dollars, in comparison, for the overall care of our own brothers and sisters in need.  Where we, the church, spend the most money is where our hearts are.

I would rather be hated by the world for my love for God and others, than be loved by the world for my indifference.  Jesus loved me and gave Himself for me and others, so I will love Him and give myself for Him and others in return.  I will love Him, and others, even if it costs me my life, because I would rather be loved by God and hated by the world, than to be loved by the world and hated by God.

So, church, how can we love one another as the Lord has commanded us to do?  It’s simple, just find someone in your congregation that is need of love and care, and love and care for them.  Supply their needs without expecting anything in return.

Church, if there is no benevolence fund for your congregation in your budget, isn’t it time to change that?  Isn’t it time to be an example to the world of what it looks like to love one another?  If we want our world to change, change has to begin with us.

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

No Fear!

“Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Romans 8:35 HCSB)

If we are Christians, is there any reason for us to live in fear?  Is there anything that can separate us from the love of Christ?  Is there anyone who can separate us from the love of Christ?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!

Here’s the reason why (read the entire passage):

“As it is written: Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! (Romans 8:36-39).”

As Christians, this passage should strengthen us, empower us, encourage us, and eradicate all fear from within us!  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 Christi’s love,

Phil

 

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