Tag Archives: Love

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.

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.

What Will You Do?

“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 that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved 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)

God loves us enough to warn us of the consequences of living a life apart from Him, and in His Sovereignty, He allows us to chose whether or not we will believe Him, or not.  With every choice we make we also choose the consequences that comes with that choice. So, what will you do?  It’s your choice…

 

Eternal Destiny

“But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 HCSB)

Wow! What a great lesson God has in store for us, today.  Jesus spoke a truth that we all need to hear and understand.  So lets look at the context in which He said what he said in today’s verse.

A wealthy young man, whose name is not mentioned, came up to Jesus and asked Him what He had to do to get to heaven.  Jesus told the young man to keep all the commandments.  The young man asked, “Which ones”, to which Jesus replied, “Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and mother; and love your neighbor as yourself (all the moral law).”  Arrogantly, the young man told Jesus that he kept all those commandments and asked what else he had to do to get into heaven.  Then Jesus told the young man,

“If you want to be perfect,” Jesus said to him, “go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me (Matthew 19:21 HCSB).”

When the rich young man heard Jesus’ command he turned and walked away sad because he was very rich and did not want to give his riches up to follow Jesus.  To him, money was his god.  His faith and confidence was in his martial wealth, not in Jesus.

Then Jesus turns and says to His disciples:

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “I assure you: It will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven! Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:23-24 HCSB).”

Let me explain what this means.  It’s not because someone is rich that they cannot enter into heaven.  It is because they believe that money is the answer to all their problems and they hoard it.  Money has become their God, it’s what they live for every day.  When the disciples heard what Jesus said, they were astonished and confused, so they asked Jesus who, then, could be saved.  Jesus responded with today’s verse,

“But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26 HCSB).””

There are many thing that are out of our control, but there is nothing that’s out of God’s control.  The salvation of our souls is one of those things.  Money may be able to solve all kinds of problems, but our eternal destiny is one only God can solve, and He already did.

Our eternal destiny cannot be bought by any amount of money.   Our lives, our souls, are much more valuable to God than mere money.  There is no amount of money that can be printed by all the countries tries of the world that can equal the value of one life, one soul.

The salvation of our souls and destiny in heaven has already been bought and paid for in full.  God loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to die on a cross as full payment for our sins, thus forgiving our sins.  Jesus was then buried and three days later, He rose again from the dead in order to assure us eternal life in heaven.

Do you want to secure your place in heaven?  Here’s how God says it can be done:

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 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 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!

If you didi this, please let me know in a comment below so that I can pray for you.

In Christ’s love,

Phil Covone

No Rejection!

“Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37 HCSB)

There are those who misunderstand and misuse today’s verse.  Contrary to the beliefs of some, God does not force His will on us.  In His Sovereignty, God has chosen to give us free will to choose to believe in Him and trust Him, or not.  He does not create some people with the purpose of going to hell, and others to be saved from hell.  That would make Him and unjust God, which he is not.  God would never create anyone for the sole purpose of sending them to hell without giving them a chance to be saved from hell.  That’s why he speaks to all of us and draws us to Himself.  He wants us to be with Him and leads us to the One who can get us to Him, Jesus.

Here’s what Jesus is really teaching us in today’s verse:

  1. “Everyone the Father gives to Me will come to Me…” – this is the drawing of the Father, the hearing and learning from the Father about Jesus.  God’s opening of our eyes to the reality of our spiritual condition, which causes us to seek and call upon Jesus for Salvation.
  2. “and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out.” – the one who seek Jesus with all their heart will find Jesus, will be saved by Jesus, and will never be rejected by Jesus – their salvation can never be lost.

God, through the Apostle Paul said:

“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13 HCSB).”

Have you been rejecting God’s call upon you to come to Him?  Are you hearing Him calling you now?  Would you like to call upon Him and know that you are saved and have your place in heaven with Him for all eternity?  Here’s how God says you can do 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 that, at this moment, you willfully, willingly, 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, every day, 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!

If you did this, God is so happy with you and wants to start working in your life and through your life. Please send me a message letting me know that you did it so that I can pray for you as you begin a new life in Christ.

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

 

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

 

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

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