Tag Archives: Encouragement

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

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

 

Forgiven and Covered

“How joyful are those whose lawless acts are forgiven and whose sins are covered!” (Romans 4:7)

Though the Apostle Paul is quoting King David, from the Book of Psalms, this verse is applicable for us, today.  The context of Romans chapter four is faith.  Abraham was justified, or found not guilty of sin, by believing and trusting God.  When God told Abraham to get up and move to a land far away from his own, Abraham did not argue with God. He got up and went, no questions asked.  Faith drove Abraham to immediate, radical, costly obedience to what God had ordered him to do.  God blessed Abraham for his immediate, radical, costly obedience.

 

Today’s verse is one of those that aught to make us jump for joy because it speaks of God’s amazing grace and love.  Let’s take a look.

  1. “How joyful…” – this is a type of joy that cannot be extinguished by any difficult circumstance we might find ourselves in.  It is a joy that comes from knowing God.
  2. “are those…” – these are the people who by faith:
    – believe and accept the fact that they are sinners in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23).
    – believed and accept the fact that Jesus was sent by God die on a cross for the forgiveness of their sins (John 3:16-18; Romans 5:8).
    – believe and accept the fact that Jesus was buried and rose again from the dead to give them eternal life (John 11:25).
    – believe and accept the fact that this is a free gift from God, something that cannot be earned, nor bought (Ephesians 2:8-9).
    – 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 (Matthew 7:21; Luke 6:46).
  3. “whose lawless acts are forgiven…” – those who, by their faith (above), and God’s unmerited favor, have been forgiven for their willful disobedience to Him.
  4. “and whose sins are covered.” – and also who by faith have had their offenses towards God covered by the blood of Christ.

God also gives us assurance of our salvation, through faith when He says:

“I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13 HCSB).”

Jesus also says:

“My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one (John 10:27-30 HCSB).”

Friends, true joy comes from having the assurance that when the day comes for your life to end, you will pass from an eternal life in hell, to an eternal life in heaven, with Christ.

Would you like the same assurance of eternal life?  Here’s how God says you can have it:

1. Recognize that you’re a sinner and thank Him for sending Jesus, His only Son, to die on the cross in order to pay the ultimate price for your sin (Romans 3:23; Romans 5:8) and raising Him from the dead in order to give you eternal life (John 3:16-18; John 11:25).
2. Tell Him, in your own words, that at this moment, you willfully and intentionally choose to stop living your life in rebellion against Him and choose to start living your life as His disciple; that you commit to seeking Him, every day; following Him, every day; and that you will strive to live in immediate, radical, costly obedience to Him and only Him, no matter the cost – even if it costs you your life (2 Corinthians 5:15; Romans 10:9-10). Then, do it.
This is the only way you can become God’s child (John 1:12) and experience the fullness of His love, goodness, joy, peace and perfect care. Do this right now! You will not regret it.

***Please, let me know if you have any questions***

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