Tag Archives: Hope

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

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

God’s Mysteries

“But as it is written: What eye did not see and ear did not hear, and what never entered the human mind— God prepared this for those who love Him.”                      (1 Corinthians 2:9)

There are so many religious denominations and doctrines in the world today that were started by men and women who base their beliefs on their own limited, spiritual wisdom and understanding, rather than on God’s revelation through the Holy Spirit.  This is why God warns us and tells us to not believe every spirit, but to check to see if it’s from God, before believing them:

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1).”

Sadly, as I’ve said before, most people don’t want to take time to read, much less study, God’s Word.  Thus, they foolishly follow false doctrines taught by false prophets, who are leading them straight to hell.  Let’s not let that happen to us.  Let’s see what God is really teaching us through today’s verse.

First, let’s take a look at the context.  In verses one through eight, the Apostle Paul makes it very clear to all of us that he is speaking about the spiritual realm of both God and man.  It is a spiritual communication between the all-wise Holy Spirit of God, and the spirit of man, whose wisdom is severely limited.  He explains that everything he had taught the church at Corinth, did not come from him, but from God’s revelation to him through the Holy Spirit.  Understanding this, now we can look at what today’s verse says. Paul goes on to say:

  1. “But as it is written:” – although Paul’s source for his following quote is not known, it is clear that it has it’s origins in Scripture because of what is revealed through it.
  2. “What eye did not see and ear did not hear, and what never entered the human mind…” – refers to God’s mysteries, things that humanity in its own wisdom could never understand or explain.  Mainly, His love and grace shown to us through what He did for us through His Son, Jesus.
  3. “God prepared this for those who love Him.” – from before the foundation of the world, God chose to open the spiritual eyes of those who chose love Him and put their faith and trust in Him.  He did this so that we could get to know Him, understand Him, love Him, and thus, serve Him.  The more we know and understand God, the more we are compelled to love Him.

God’s greatest mystery is His amazing love for us.  Do you want to know about His love for you?  Do you want to know what His love compelled Him to do for you?  Let me now by responding below on this blog.

In Christi’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

 

 

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