God’s Armor

God’s Armor!

“Put on all of God’s armor” ~Ephesians 6:11

On the surface, Chuck’s life seemed pretty good. Great job, wife and children. He had become a Christian in his early twenties and dedicated his life to understanding God’s will. Most recently, he was honored for his volunteer efforts in establishing a free food distribution system through their church, serving all who need a helping hand. The program grew each year as more and more people and organizations came on board. Yes, Chuck was highly esteemed among men.

“Something is wrong in my life, Bill, I struggle every day with overcoming Satan’s attacks and my own temptations,” Chuck said to his best friend, at their favorite local restaurant. “I feel as though I should have left all this stuff behind and yet the attacks are very powerful. What am I missing?”

Bill was an older man who also loved the Lord and had studied God’s Word intently. “You could be in the same place I once was, Chuck. When I was about your age I had many of the same feelings and struggles with sin and temptation that seemed insurmountable. I don’t mean to say I am never tempted today but there is a major difference now.”

“That sounds encouraging, Bill. What happened to bring about such a change?”

“The answer is simple but the challenge is in obedience and trust. You know what I am about to tell you but you’ve allowed yourself to neglect God’s instructions. You’ve sacrificed many things in your Christian walk, Chuck, but remember that verse in 1 Samuel 15:22, ‘To obey is better than sacrifice.’ And God has taken delight in describing the steps necessary for our victorious position as we fight the spiritual battle daily.”

“I’m on pins and needles, Bill. What am I missing?”

“Ephesians chapter 6! Beginning with verse 10, the apostle Paul, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, writes, ‘A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”

Tears filled Chuck’s eyes as he realized the simplicity and yet the challenge of obeying God’s instructions in this section of Scripture. Bill had opened a door to freedom and vital victory for him.

“And then Paul gets specific, ‘Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere”

“My friend, God has used you once again to shine His light of truth into my heart this morning. I am so excited to see the changes in my life as I walk in these verses, trusting in my Savior,” said Chuck.

“Praise God, Chuck. I love how God speaks to us through our fellowship. I like to visualize myself putting on the armor of God each morning. The more I take a few minutes walking through the steps outlined in Ephesians, the more powerful and encouraging it seems to be. Let’s pray.

One God

Bible Study

One God 

February 26, 2022

“Do not make an idol for yourself—no form whatsoever”  Exodus 20:4 

I’ll never forget the first new car I bought. I was so excited to finally have a brand-spanking new car. Shiny and clean. And I vowed to keep it that way. Even though I had a family and job, my red and white Volkswagen Bus was always clean. Rain or Shine! At a neighborhood meeting, I met a man for the first time who said, “Oh, you’re the guy who washes his bus in the rain. Boy, I thought, he is really dedicated.” 

But that was the wrong description of what I was. I was obsessed. I was inching God a little off His rightful place of worship in my life to make room for my vehicle. I loved a man-made, metal box on wheels. I was dedicated to its well being. “See my shiny new bus? See how dedicated to keeping it clean and shiny I am?” God was not pleased. 

How hard is it for us to let go of things and people we love? Very! But our Heavenly Father understands, which is why he provided Jesus as our Savior, the One who could overcome all the temptations for us. He knew and decided to commit Himself fully to us by sending Jesus to die in our place. “Amazing Grace, how could it be?” And yet, in the middle of His grace and mercy is our choice to be obedient. His death can only cleanse our sins if we choose to follow Him. Choose to be forgiven. And choose to walk in His way. 

Matthew 4:10  “For the Scriptures say, You must worship the LORD your God and serve only Him.”

Matthew 16:24-29  Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds. And I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”

How serious are we about following the Lord? “Here I am Lord, send me!” Is this our stand? Really? Have we counted the cost? 

Matthew 10:32-42  “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven. 

 “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.  ‘I have come to set a man against his father,  a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  Your enemies will be right in your own household!’ 

  “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. 

 “Anyone who receives you receives me, and anyone who receives me receives the Father who sent me. If you receive a prophet as one who speaks for God, you will be given the same reward as a prophet. And if you receive righteous people because of their righteousness, you will be given a reward like theirs. And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” 

If we were in an audience listening to a person preaching on this subject, as they finished with this section of Scripture there would be silence in the room. Instinctively we recoil from these demands. Say it isn’t so, we quietly murmur. Surely not. God is not like this. He is a God of love. Indeed He is but He demands our absolute loyalty and focus if we are to walk on the path He’s set out before us. 

Life is spiritual and the battle is intense! We are the messengers of the Lord on earth, carrying out our orders from On High. Soldiers in battle are acutely aware of the dangers and keep their senses keenly alert. A moment of lethargy could spell disaster or—death! And that, dear friends, is our life, until the Great and Mighty God calls us home. 

Hebrews 12:1-4  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.”

Time To Come Out

Time To Come Out 

January 3, 2022 

“Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord”  2 Cor. 6:17 

            While reading an article, extolling the virtues of a famous person recently, I was amazed by his accomplishments and honors. Wondering how he had come to such a life I was struck by how easily I could admire someone whose life was deeply embedded in the world and its charms. And then I wondered if I had come out? 

            To come out is not a phrase unique to the 21st century and needn’t be limited to one’s sexual preferences, instead it is a command of God for His followers…you and I, to come out from the world. To be separate from the world. Have I? Or am I blended like homogenized milk, an equal part of the world with my faith? Does my lifestyle illuminate the darkness in the world or have I reduced the flame to an ember so as not to offend? Have I come out? 

            2 Corinthians 6:14-18  Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?

            In case you are wondering how God sees our coming out from the world, it is important that we understand what He is NOT saying as found in 1 Corinthians. 

            1 Corinthians 5:9-12  “In the letter that I wrote you I told you not to associate with immoral people.10 Now I did not mean pagans who are immoral or greedy or are thieves, or who worship idols. To avoid them you would have to get out of the world completely.11 What I meant was that you should not associate with a person who calls himself a believer but is immoral or greedy or worships idols or is a slanderer or a drunkard or a thief. Don’t even sit down to eat with such a person. 12-13 After all, it is none of my business to judge outsiders. God will judge them. But should you not judge the members of your own fellowship? As the scripture says, Remove the evil person from your group.” 

            Ephesians 5:1-3  “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. 3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people.”

                Often, when faced with a life change, we naturally seek a set of rules to help lay the groundwork, light the path or make the change easier. However, we seek for them in vain since God has made it clear it is what doctors might describe as, “a heart condition.” Coming out for us requires our effort, our diligent effort. But if that were all, then the most disciplined person among us could proudly proclaim their success and right-standing with God. 

            Coming out from the world is a result of our faith at work (Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith; Heb. 12:2). Reading the Bible, praying, choosing to call upon the Lord when we are weak, admitting to Him we are incapable in ourselves and praising and worshiping our Savior. Contrary to the world, God uses our weakness and dependance on Him to accomplish what is humanly impossible. 

            1 Corinthians 1:27-31  “God purposely chose what the world considers nonsense in order to shame the wise, and he chose what the world considers weak in order to shame the powerful.28 He chose what the world looks down on and despises and thinks is nothing, in order to destroy what the world thinks is important.”

            Coming out from the world is not a thing I do, it is a life I live, through the grace of God.

God’s Will

God’s Will

November 13, 2021

 “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” ~Mark 3:35 

Many Christians spend countless hours on their knees, begging God for an idea as to His will for their lives. Thousands of sermons have been preached, books written and website columns produced, advising believers of the 10 best steps to finding His will (often there is a fee for the book or website subscription).  

Considering the extreme measure God has taken for our forgiveness and eternal salvation, is it reasonable to think He would hide His will for our lives? Would God take a perverse pleasure in watching us grovel around begging Him to reveal His purpose and direction instead of happily and joyfully directing our lives to follow a path He alone has created just for us? No secret password needed fellow Christians, God reveals aspects of His will sprinkled throughout the Bible—His love letter to us.  

Just as a building needs a foundation for support, God has provided the necessary spiritual support to guide us into understanding His will. He gave us the Holy Spirit! 

John 14:16-17, 26  ~And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.  

John 14:26  ~But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. 

1 John 2:27  ~You have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ. 

Romans 12:1-2  ~And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  ~Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 

Colossians 1:9-10  ~So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. 

So you see, God has provided everything we need to hear His voice, and live according to His will. The Book of Romans establishes steps that open the door for the realization of His will in our lives: 1. Give our bodies to God as a living and holy sacrifice which is true worship. 2. Don’t copy the world (be separate). 3. Let God transform our thoughts which gives birth to the understanding of His good and pleasing and perfect will for our lives. 

I call out to God, “Oh God, show me your perfect will for my life.” 

God replies, “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances!” 

Galatians-Law or Grace?

“If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.” Ecclesiastes 11:4 

Law or grace? Now that we have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, don’t we still have to try living by the 10 commandments, and some of the other elements of the law? Can we simply turn our backs on what God gave His people through Moses, His loyal servant? I hear Christians refer to meeting on the Sabbath, meaning Sunday, or for some, Saturday. Recently, I overheard a person talking about someone violating one of the 10 commandments. Is that applicable for Christians today? Reading the Book of Galatians will solve this puzzle.

CHRISTIANS ARE DEAD TO THE LAW! 

Realizing how difficult it is for Jews who have been taught that following The Law is essential, Paul uses strong language to explain that faith in Christ is what justifies everyone…Jew and Gentile. According to Paul, we are dead to the law.

(Galatians 2:19)~”For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law; I stopped trying to meet all its requirements, so that I might live for God.”

(Galatians 3:1-5)~ “Foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of His death on the cross. Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?”  

  IT IS BY FAITH WE ARE SAVED!

(Galatians 2:16)~“Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”

(Romans 3:19-26)~ “Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. 20For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. 21But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.”  

 And in the Gospel of John, (John 1:16-17) the Apostle John writes, “From the fullness of His (Jesus) grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” 

(Luke 22:20)~”This cup is the new covenant between God and His people—an agreement confirmed with My blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.” 

(Galatians 5:1)~”So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t  get tied up again in the slavery to the law!” 

The law was bondage and Jesus, by his death on the cross, has established a new covenant, a covenant of grace whereby the blood of Jesus has cleansed us from all our sins.

Are We Healed By His Wounds?

 Bible Study

Are We Healed By His Wounds

October 16, 2021

“By His wounds you are healed!”  1 Peter 2:24

Partial quotes and quoting out of context are popular among Christians who wish something to be true. In this case, I am talking about a verse found in Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter 2:24. In the King James Version it reads, “…and with His stripes we are healed.” This verse is misquoted to imply that the horrible beating and subsequent death of Christ has brought physical healing to all believers. I’ve heard it used in prayers for sick and lame people many, many times. There is, however, a problem with using that verse to call upon God for healing. It does not mean that the death of our Lord guarantees healing. Why would it? Take a few minutes to read the surrounding verses in both cases. 

Jesus’ death on the cross gave Him the absolute right to become a sacrifice for our sins, not bring healing to our bodies. His death, burial and resurrection brings eternal healing and total future absence of tears, pain, sorrow and suffering. Future! Eternal!

Revelation 21:4 says, regarding our eternal destination to the City of God, the New Jerusalem; “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” No more pain. On this side of Glory, we will have pain and crying.

Then there’s another problem with using this verse as assurance of God’s desire to physically heal all who call upon the name of Christ…it doesn’t always bring the desired result! How many times have you prayed for healing, using this verse, and nothing happened? How many times have you been in meetings where many were prayed over using this verse and nothing happened?

God can and does heal people but not because of Christ’s wounds. If He chooses to heal someone, it is His choice and will, not because someone misused a verse in the Bible. 

A very well-known example of not being healed is Joni Eareckson-Tada (Tada is an evangelical Christian, author, radio host, quadriplegic, and founder of Joni and Friends). When she was 19 (and a Christian) she broke her neck while diving from a raft. There have been thousands of prayers sent up to God imploring Him to touch and heal Joni. All to no avail. But what about the idea that the “stripes of Jesus brings healing?” Perhaps that is not what the verse from Isaiah 53 and repeated in 1 Peter 2 means.

Here is what Joni said after imploring God to restore her body: “I learned that the core of Christ’s plan is to rescue us from sin. Our physical aches and pains and broken relationships aren’t his ultimate focus—he cares deeply about these things, but they’re symptoms of the chief problem in this fallen world. God’s goal is not to make us comfortable. He wants to teach us to hate our transgressions as he grows our love for Him.”

Jesus suffered and died for the forgiveness of the sins of the world, not for physical healing. Look at the lives of His apostles. They were scorned, mocked, beaten, tortured, jailed and killed! Surely they could have called upon the stripes of Jesus  to heal them. While He was alive, our Lord healed hundreds, perhaps thousands of people and raised some from the dead. Not by His future stripes but by the will of God.

Go back to 1 Peter 2:20-25 and see what he is saying about suffering for Christ. Human life is temporary. Pain and suffering are not uncommon expectations for Christians in many parts of the world. Surely we must see that God did not send His only Son to be tortured and painfully killed by crucifixion so we could claim his suffering and pain will guarantee physical healing to everyone living today. Perhaps “By His stripes we are healed” is referring to forgiveness of sin, the gift of new life. Eternal life is where we will have perfect pain-free bodies.

New Self

“Put on the new self, created to be like God”  Ephesians 4:24 

William’s first experiment with drugs was his last year in high school. Wow, was it fun to be with so many cool “friends” expanding their minds with various pharmaceuticals. William was certain the drugs increased his creative abilities and opened his mind to greater understanding. They also sank their evil talons into his soul with a powerful death-grip, creating a tremendous addiction that sent William spiraling into an abyss of destruction. Within a few months, he was an addict. 

Eight years later, after several stints in jail, loss of friends and relationships, William discovered he qualified for a sponsored rehab out in the clean air of the desert. He had high hopes. This would change his life. And it did…temporarily. His new life lasted three short months until one of his former friends invited him to a party where drugs flowed freely. His will power was not up to this formidable test, he was back on the slippery slide to destruction.  

William’s life is not unusual. Most people cannot possibly stay clean from drugs and alcohol on their own. True change, life-change, is only possible through faith in Christ because He provides supernatural power to overcome these mind-numbing addictions. With Christ in your life, fending off the Devil’s attacks, permanent change is indeed possible. Faith in Christ brings a new life. 

Ephesians 4:22-24  “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”   

2 Peter 1:3-4  “By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence. And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” 

Galatians 2:20  “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  

Colossians 3:1-4  “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”  

Colossians 3:13-16  “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” 

Philippians 2:1-4   “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  

But what if I am a Christian and have given myself to sin more than once. Does that mean God’s power is not in me or strong enough to help me avoid the sin? No! God has done everything necessary to give us new life and daily renewal. His forgiveness is everlasting. If I am struggling with sin, God has provided the way to victory. He created us and understands our weaknesses.  

1 Corinthians 10:13  “Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps His promise, and He will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, He will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.” 

1 John 1:8-9  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us. But if we confess our sins to God, He will keep his promise and do what is right: He will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing.” 

Walking with God provides a new life, a life free of condemnation. Jesus is at the right hand of God’s throne, fending off all of Satan’s accusations and granting us forgiveness of all sin. However, once we have tasted the incredible love of Christ, it is our responsibility to want a new life, to repent of our sins, to believe in the Bible which is God’s guidebook for all Christians. Our forgiveness is absolute but we have to accept it as absolute.  

Promises

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 

God’s Biblical promises never change! In our world of confusion, deceit, fraud and disappointment, the ONLY absolute is God’s word. 

Philippians 4:19  (New American Standard Bible)  And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 

Psalm 84:11-12 (Today’s New International Version) 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;  the LORD bestows favor and honor;  no good thing does he withhold  from those whose walk is blameless. 12 LORD Almighty,  blessed are those who trust in you. 

  Take Him at His word! Believe what He has said to us. When you are discouraged, filled with doubt, cannot see how your life will ever work out–trust in His promises even though it may seem impossible; 2 Corinthians 5:7 (Christian Standard Bible) “For we walk by faith, not by sight”. 

2 Corinthians 9:8 (Christian Standard Bible)  And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.   

Psalm 23  (New Living Translation) The Lord is my Shepherd; I have all that I need. 

Ephesians 3:14-21 (New Living Translation)  14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. 

James 1:2-8  (New Living Translation) 2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

It was a difficult week for me. I kept having sharp pains in my chest. Could it be heart attacks, I wondered? Even though I was familiar with the possibility, I chose to ignore the pains. After all, they only lasted a minute or so. And not painful enough to drop me to my knees. Until Friday afternoon. My wife and I were in Costco and the pain demanded to be addressed. I was debilitated and in agonizing pain. In time, this too, passed.

However, that evening it returned, even stronger. So strong and painful I thought I would die. I was taken to the hospital and had surgery to install two stents since  my arteries were 90% clogged. 

During the most painful chest pains, I understood the Holy Spirit speaking to me; “You always suffer through painful trials without complaining but you never consider them an opportunity for great joy! as I have instructed you to do. I want you to do that. For you know when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” James 1:2-3 (New Living Translation)

Ephesians 6:10-18 (Contemporary English Version)  10Finally, let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong. 11Put on all the armor that God gives, so you can defend yourself against the devil’s tricks. 12We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. 13So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm. 14Be ready! Let the truth be like a belt around your waist, and let God’s justice protect you like armor. 15Your desire to tell the good news about peace should be like shoes on your feet. 16Let your faith be like a shield, and you will be able to stop all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Let God’s saving power be like a helmet, and for a sword use God’s message that comes from the Spirit.18Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God’s people. 

I could have died while suffering those chest pains but in spite of foolishly ignoring them, God kept me alive. Why? Some day we may discover the answer to that and millions of other questions…but that is His business, and so far, He chooses to keep us in the dark as He continues to guide us with His Light, Jesus Christ: “I have come into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.” (Good News Translation)

Our Only Hope

April 10, 2021

“Be glad for all that God is planning for you” ~Romans 12:12

Our only hope refers to the Bible as it pertains to our daily lives. We have no other hope powerful enough to stand against all the challenges and evils of this world. God’s grace and mercy, flowing down from Calvary’s cross washes us whiter than snow and gives us the answers to all the problems we encounter here on earth. 

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10  “For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever.”

Leaps off the page doesn’t it? “God chose to save us!” What more can we ask for? The next time you open the Bible, take your time without regard to how many chapters or pages you read. Savor God’s Word. Allow His truth to wash over you. Personalize it. For instance, “Christ died for ME!”

We are reminded in Romans 5:4 that when we run into problems and trials, they develop endurance, strength of character and, ultimately, hope. This hope will not lead to disappointment! 

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance” (see also James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-7).

When our lives seem dismal and futile, where do we turn? Where can we find answers? Call the pastor? Perhaps. Call a friend or elder? Of course. But…any answer that is capable of changing our lives and giving us the hope we need is found in the Bible.  

God’s word, given to us by Him to encourage, build-up, strengthen, guide, heal, change and provide light at the end of those dark tunnels, is filled with powerful parables, stories, and sentences designed to rescue us from this dark world and its attacks. 

Sentence after sentence, tucked into the pages of our Bible jump out and grab us with answers directly from the mouth of our Creator. For instance, “Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.” (Romans 3:24) 

Perhaps you’ve been a Christian for several years and still struggle with things and find yourself giving up, feeling discouraged or confused, wondering why your life seems without power or the touch of God. Do you read the Bible? And after reading it, do you believe it? In spite of all the troubles and problems around you, do you really believe God’s word? Sometimes we allow the problems of life to diffuse the power of His word in our lives. 

Just when we think it is all a mess, we find a verse as in Philippians 2:13 that says: “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and power to do what pleases Him.” This is a fact! God is working in us…”He will never leave or forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5). Believe it and act on it. 

Almighty God wants to remind us of who we are in Christ; encourage our hearts with His word, show us His will for our lives, reveal the strong foundation on which to build our lives, clarify how to live a Christian life in the midst of our world and fill our hearts with His unshakeable truth.  

1 Thessalonians 5:18  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.