Society today says truth is relative. That means that whatever people decide is true then becomes truth for them. So, everybody’s ideas – whatever truth people have defined – are completely equal and equally valid. Everybody is right, and nobody is wrong, even when people believe the exact opposite things. It is, they suppose, a form of tolerance and completely nonjudgmental. As Christians, though, we know that truth is objective and absolute. Truth is a Person: the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who love the truth will love Him. Those who hate the truth will not. This week’s blog is a little different. This week, I’m asking for your help. I have written an essay on truth that I’m planning to use as my example for a “This I Believe” project for my senior high school English class. I am asking you to read my short essay and pray over it. Please ask for God’s anointing so it will touch the students and teachers who read it.
This I Believe by Angela G
I believe that there is a such thing as absolute truth. That means that on a given issue when people believe opposite things, somebody is right and somebody is wrong. There may be no way to tell at the moment who is who, but that doesn’t mean that everybody is right just because objective reality can’t be proven in the moment. Contradictory beliefs can’t both be right, and therefore, absolute truth exists.
Five years ago, a dress broke the internet. For days, social media talked about little else. What color was the dress? Was it white and gold or blue and black? People were losing their minds over it. How could the exact same picture be viewed so differently? Even worse, some of the same people who saw the photograph as white and gold one day were dismayed to find that it was blue and black the very next time they looked. What in the world was going on, and what was the actual color of the dress?
The dress, according to those who stood in the very same room with it, was actually blue and black. Through a series of polls, it was discovered that the amount of time a person spent in sunlight determined how much the person assumed light and shadows. Morning/day people saw the dress as white and gold because they mentally subtracted short wavelength light. It’s all very complicated, but the point is that after days and days of hysterical comments, not-so-scientific polls, and memes and jokes, the dress still and always was the very same color it was when the picture was taken: blue and black. There was a right answer and a wrong answer to the question of its color no matter how people’s perceptions said otherwise. Absolute truth exists.
Why It Matters
But why does it matter? What is the big deal if some want to say that they see things one way and some want to say they see things another way? Why can’t everybody be right? And, why does it drive me crazy when people say, “That is true for you but not for me”? I think it is because I love the truth. The truth sets me free to be able to measure my actions against what is reality instead of what is delusion. It’s like the difference between building your house on a foundation of sand versus a foundation of rock. Perceptions might shift and slide, but when something is true, it never changes. It just is. And then I can make my decisions from there.
Absolute truth does exist whether we can know it in a moment or not. Even if people might not be able to access the answers immediately or even in this life, that doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Truth is truth no matter what people think, and when you find it, you can stop looking. There is a comfort there.
Thank you for taking time to read my essay and ponder the ideas. I’m planning to present this to the three other teachers who work with me to use as the example to show kids how to write their own “This I Believe” essays. Please pray that the other teachers will use my essay as their example and that all the teachers and students who read it will come closer to knowing and loving Truth. In my lesson, I also included a link to this song This I Believe by Ed Sheeran for the kids to listen to. Please pray that they click, listen, and consider the gospel. Thank you!
Judgement begins in the house of the Lord. This week, while the whole world was hunkered in houses wondering what will happen next with the coronavirus, God was taking just a moment to deal with some of His children. I, for example, was spanked but good. The worst part isn’t even that it was that for an issue that He has already addressed (I guess I’m a slow learner). The worst part is that it’s the exact problem that a big Bible character had too – and not one of the “wins in the end” ones either. When all was said and done this week, I think I finally did get the message. I also got a very disgusting object lesson about iniquity that should be a warning to us all.
King Saul’s Partial Obedience
King Saul was Israel’s very first human king. Up to that time, God had been ruling His people through priests, prophets, and judges. But the people were unhappy with their current judge’s sons who were greedy and corrupt. They looked at the nations surrounding them who had kings and wanted to be like them. So, Saul was chosen by God to give the people what they wanted. God warned them that they wouldn’t like the reality, but they didn’t listen.
Speaking of not listening, this was Saul’s problem in a nutshell. He had a nasty habit of not exactly obeying God. Just after the Prophet Samuel anointed him as king, God ordered Saul to completely destroy the Amalek people. In 1 Samuel 15:3, Samuel told him, “’Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” So Saul did. Sort of. He destroyed every single person and thing of the Amalek – except the king and the best of the sheep and the oxen. When Samuel questioned him about his disobedience, Saul didn’t even get that he had done anything wrong.
1 Samuel 15:20-21: “And Saul said to Samuel, ‘But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me…’” Okay, so far so good. “…and brought back Agag king of Amalek…” Here’s a problem. “I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.” Good. “But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” Not good.
Saul didn’t understand the reason for God’s orders, so he obeyed the part of the order that made sense to him – and completely ignored the rest. This was my problem too. Amazingly enough, I also thought I was obeying what God had told me to do. I really did. But then God showed me that anything less than complete obedience is actually disobedience. It is error, or a turning away from the right path. It’s iniquity. (See Bible Study Tools.)
A Broken Stove and Unwanted Guests
Last May, we brought a brand new stove. Last week, it went on the fritz. Since it hadn’t even been a full year, I was sure that the warranty would cover whatever problem the flashing error “F1 EO” meant. Not so. Because the problem wasn’t a faulty part. The problem was an infestation of cockroaches that shorted out the electronic board. Gross! The cost to repair the stove was about the same price as a brand new one. My stove had been totaled.
I’m ashamed to say that my first reaction was anger…at God. “What happened to rebuking the devourer?” I exploded before I got ahold of myself. (Malachi 3:10-11: “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse…And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy…”) I thought being faithful with money was a protection against unnecessary loss. But for bugs to destroy an entire electrical board in less than nine months, that felt PERSONAL. Immediately in my spirit, the answer became crystal clear. WAS I being faithful? Sadly, I was not.
Doing Things My Way Instead of God’s Way
A year or so ago, God had impressed upon me that I was not to use my credit card. I was in the habit of charging expenses and then paying them off each month, but sometimes those charges could get very high without even a whole lot of effort on my part. So, I thought to myself: “Of course, I will still use my credit card to charge NECESSARY items that I would have to buy anyway. It only makes sense to get the free points to use toward gift cards. I will just charge them and then come right home and pay the bill immediately. That way, they aren’t on the card – because God doesn’t want me to have charges on the card – but I can still get my points. Win/win.” See what I did there?
But this month, somehow things had gotten away from me. The “necessary” charges became greater than the amount of money in my account. For two days, the balance sat on my credit card before payday. Even if that hadn’t been the case, though, the charging AT ALL was doing the exact opposite of what God had told me to do. Even if it didn’t make sense to me to forgo those free points, I should have completely obeyed God and stopped using my credit card. Period. I had pulled a Saul without even realizing it.
A Disgusting Spiritual Lesson
In dealing with the fallout from all of this, I believe God also used this situation to teach an important lesson about iniquity. A few months ago when we first saw the bugs, my husband had sprayed the kitchen. We also went through and put opened food in sealed containers and tried harder to keep the area free of crumbs that might invite them. This week when I realized that the few we actually saw were nothing to the mass it would require to be labeled an “infestation,” I went to work doing some deep cleaning in the kitchen. I emptied drawers and cabinets, and I was shocked to see the evidence of those masses underneath the items that were stored there.
For months, we had gone about our lives oblivious to what was happening at night in our kitchen. It wasn’t until we decided to set things in order and looked deeper that we found the truth of the situation. This is a spiritual picture of the seemingly small issues that may be wrong with our spiritual walk with God. Times, for example, that we choose to do what “makes sense” to us instead of the exact directive given by God/the Bible. Times when we do what we want to do instead of what would please God.
Like vermin, maybe one might not seem like a “big deal,” but where there is one, there are usually more if you take the time to look closer. The Bible calls this the deceitfulness of sin in Hebrews 3:13 because it seems so harmless but can do so much damage to our ability to hear from and be close to God.
Time to Get Our Houses in Order
“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”
We are in the last days, the days of the great apostasy, and iniquity is dangerous. Some people use it as a synonym for sin, but to me it is that and so much more. Sin is black and white. The Bible says not to lie, so we don’t lie. But sometimes little white lies – not “REAL” lies but just little “variations of the truth” — are kind. That’s iniquity. The slope is slippery when we disobey God because our way seems easier, kinder, or even “better” for God Himself.
Partial obedience in any area is disobedience. We must guard ourselves so that it never has dominion, or control, over us and our actions (Psalm 119:133). We must make the decision now to set things right, to start looking deeply into our lives for evidence of problems. It is only then that we can begin to get our spiritual houses in order.
In the past week or so, the world has gone just a little bit crazy. Schools were closed, sports venues and amusement parks have shut their doors, and states and even nations have declared this time to be an emergency. Already people are faced with uncertainty. How do we navigate our world with variables that seem to be changing by the minute? As for Christians, the Bible makes our directive clear. No matter what situation we are facing, we are to occupy until He comes. But what does that look like? I believe 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 hold the answer to that.
“Occupy Until I Come”
First of all, the phrase comes from a parable in Luke 19:12-27 called “The Parable of the Pounds” (or Talents or Minas, depending on your Bible version). Jesus told this story because the people thought He was on earth to set up His kingdom right then. Jesus wanted them to understand that He would leave and come back a second time. In this story, a nobleman was going away to a far country to receive his kingdom but would one day come again. Then the nobleman says the line:
“And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, ‘Occupy till I come.’”
As the rest of the parable goes, the citizens of the land hated the nobleman and did not want him to be their king. He did, in fact, however, return to reign over them. His servants were then called to account. Two traded successfully and were rewarded. One hid his pound in a napkin and was called “wicked.” His pound was then given to the one who did the best with his original pound. As for those citizens who didn’t want him to be their king, he commanded them to be brought before him and slain.
An Interesting Historical Side Note
Interestingly enough, Charles Spurgeon has a sermon called The Servants and the Pounds. In it, he tells the story and makes the comment that Josephus the Jewish historian gives the account that this very situation had actually occurred some thirty years before Jesus had told the story. Apparently, on King Herod’s death, the citizens wrote to the Roman officials begging that his son Archelaus not be made king over them. They were tired of the Herods and petitioned to be made a Roman province instead.
Caesar didn’t give either side what it wanted. He divided the kingdom and made Archelaus an ethnarch (a ruler with less power than a king), and when Archelaus returned, he rewarded his faithful servants and cruelly punished those who opposed him. Archelaus had built himself a castle near Jericho, so those who heard the parable would definitely understand the reference.
The Meaning of the Parable
There are only two kinds of people in the kingdom: those who serve God and those who oppose Him. God has given each one of His servants talents and provisions in our lives. Christians can’t just keep them to ourselves or hide them in fear. No matter what is happening in the world, we must get out there and “trade” with others for the good of people and for God’s glory. We must be about our Father’s business. Jesus IS coming again. His servants WILL be held to account. Those who use what He has given them will be rewarded. Those who cower in fear will lose their reward. As for those who reject and oppose Jesus, they will not keep their lives in the new Kingdom.
So What Does “Occupy” Look Like?
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 15:57-58
Definitions come from the DAKE Annotated Reference Bible.
Steadfast (Greek: hedraios):
“Be seated, settled, and firm in the truth of the resurrection and of victory in Christ.”
We are NOT to panic. We are children of the light. That means we see. We understand what is happening and know what will happen because the Bible has already told us the end from the beginning. We are to be wise but not troubled by the coronavirus. In Matthew 24, Jesus told us pestilences would come. Toilet paper fights at the store should not surprise us. Jesus told us iniquity (lawlessness) would abound, and the love of many would grow cold.
The mocking, scoffing, and ridicule for those warning of God’s judgement and our need to prepare and pray was already foretold in 2 Timothy 3. There, we see a picture our society today and are told there will be “perilous times.” We should not be surprised at the idea that our monetary system can and will collapse. The whole book of Revelation deals with the world-wide beast system that will come after the old one is destroyed.
We have been told what will happen so that we will have peace in knowing that God is in control and victory is certain. John 16:33 says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Unmoveable (Greek: ametakinetos):
“Unmoveable. Let nothing shake your faith or move you away from the hope of the gospel.
We must never forget that this life is not all there is. So far most of us have led fairly easy lives. If that changes, we can’t despair. The Apostles, on the other hand, suffered greatly for the cause of Christ. Paul says it in 1 Corinthians 15:19. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” Whatever happens, the world is not our home, and our hope is in our Savior and eternity with Him.
In fact, Jesus is the ONLY hope for everyone. We must never forget that one of our main instructions as God’s servants is to make disciples of all nations. Taking the gospel message of hope to others has to be first and foremost on our minds, especially now. People who might not have been willing to hear about Jesus last week might be scared and ready to listen now. Our peace and calm in the face of the storm will be noticed by panicking people. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”
Always Abounding (very plentiful, abundant)
“Always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that what you do will be rewarded.”
The bottom line is that we are here to work. While there is still breath in our lungs, there is no retirement for the child of God. Even if we can’t physically do the things we used to do, we can always pray. We can offer to listen, we can comfort, we can console, we can share resources. We can be a blessing and serve others. 2 Corinthians 1:4 says that the Father “comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” Our lives are not our own. We have to be thinking about how we can take our earthly resources (time, talents, and supplies) and make them multiply for the things that count in eternity: God’s glory and people’s souls.
It is more important than ever that the child of God hear God’s voice for him/herself. We have to listen and be ready to move when God requires it. The very safest place on earth is the center of God’s will. He will protect us to accomplish His purposes. And when our purpose is complete, we will go home to Him. 2 Corinthians 5:8-10 boils it down: “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
We Must Occupy Until He Comes
We don’t know exactly what will happen in the coming weeks and months. What we do know is that God is with us. He has a plan for our lives to bring good things to others and glory to Himself. Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Right now, today, start asking God to show you what you can do with your “pounds.” Ask Him to show you how to best occupy until He comes. Because He IS coming, and His reward is with Him.
People emptied store shelves this week as news of the coronavirus, both real and fake exploded in the media. Hand soaps, sanitizers, tissues, and paper towels were some of the first to go, but by far the biggest gaping holes could be found on the water aisles. Even with no imminent threat to any water system, people still grabbed pack after pack to take home “just in case.” Human beings are made of water, and we can’t get very far without it. On a subconscious level, it represents life. In the Bible, though, water is a symbol of God’s power over it.
Water Symbolizes the Power to Destroy Life
In the flood narrative in Genesis 6 and 7, God used water from both from the deep and the sky for destruction. People had become wicked and fallen angels were causing all sorts of problems. So, God destroyed all of mankind except Noah and seven of his family members.
In Exodus 14, God parted the Red Sea with Moses’ staff to allow the Israelites safe passage on dry land. When the Egyptians tried to follow them, God caused the water to flood back over them. Everyone who could not make it back to shore perished.
In 1 Kings 17, King Ahab of Israel was unfaithful to God by worshipping Baal and teaching God’s people to do the same. At God’s word through the prophet Elijah, God withheld rain. No crops could grow, so there came famine in the land. In 1 Kings 18, after a clear lesson about who exactly was the one true God, God again brought the rain to stop the destruction.
In Mark 4, Jesus and His disciples were in a boat when the waves of a storm started beating furiously at the sides. As the water started to fill the boat, the men were afraid and woke up Jesus who was asleep in the stern. “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” they asked Him. But Jesus simply rebuked the storm. “Peace, be still,” He said, and the wind and the waves obeyed.
In each case, water is symbol of destruction. For the wicked, God flooded the earth, drowned the Egyptians, and refused rain to idolaters. On the other hand, God used the very same situations to protect those He loved from harm. He gave Noah foreknowledge to prepare to survive the deluge. He gave the Israelites supernatural safe passage by parting the waters of the sea, and He brought them rain again when they repented of their idolatrous ways. Finally, He used the threat of destruction by water to teach His disciples to have faith in God and His protection. In every situation, God was and is in control. He has power over the elements to destroy or preserve life.
Water Symbolizes the Power to Give Life
In Exodus 17, the people of Israel, having just escaped the Egyptians, were thirsty in the desert wilderness. There were no natural lakes, rivers, or streams around, so God instructed Moses to use his rod to strike a rock. From there, enough water flowed for all of them to drink freely.
This is a physical picture of what happens spiritually when someone believes on the Rock of Christ Jesus (1Corinthians 10:4) as Savior. In John 7:37-39, Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” “Living water” is the Holy Spirit. Without Him, there is no life (John 6:63).
John 4:14 also speaks of the Holy Spirit as a “well of water springing up to eternal life.” Once we partake of Him, we will never thirst for our old ways again. We will have a new relationship with sin so that we hate what we once used to love.
Ezekiel 36:25 says, “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.” At the time, the priest was speaking of the ritual water purifications and the cleaning of the outside of the body. However, it is also a prophecy that would only be fulfilled later with the New Covenant when the Holy Spirit will clean the inside. He continues with, ” I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
Revelation 21:6 speaks of the “water of life.” Isaiah 12:3 talks about the “wells of salvation.” Both of these are about redemption from sins and the power (water) that only comes from God Himself who is the fountain (Jeremiah 2:13).
The Holy Spirit is known as living water. He and only He has the power to give life that lasts forever. When Moses smote the rock, this was a physical picture of Jesus, our Rock and Redeemer, being put to death on the cross. After Christ’s death, the Holy Spirit, the fountain of living water, could come. We are born again through the spirit and baptized in water. This represents being buried, dead to our old lives, and rising again to a new life in Christ Jesus. Water washes us physically while the blood of Jesus spiritually cleanses us from all sin. In John 3:5, “Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’” Water symbolizes the power to give life. Without it, we remain dead in trespasses and sins.
Water Symbolizes the Power to Sustain Life
In Psalm 1, we learn that those who delight in the Lord will be like trees planted by rivers of water. When we are born again, we get plugged into the source of life. That nearness to Him sustains us to bear the fruit of the Spirit and never wither on the vine. John 15:6 warns about what will happen to those who do not remain connected to the Source. “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
In Isaiah 58:11, God lets us know that He will guide us. We are compared to “a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” We are separated to Him, and God satisfies us and keeps us alive in every sense of the word.
Ephesians 5:26 speaks of “the washing of the water by the Word” as we renew our minds. Once given Life, we must continue to cleanse our minds from the filth of the world by reading the Bible every day.
And once we have tasted the precious water that only comes from God Himself, we are thirsty for more. Psalm 42:1 says, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.” This is His gift of grace to us. The more we desire Him, the more we seek after Him. And if we seek Him with all of our hearts, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13).
The living water of the Holy Spirit, once obtained at conversion, keeps us healthy and growing into maturity. He sustains us with His power to bear fruit and renew our minds, making us ever desiring more of Him.
Water is a Symbol of God’s Power Over Life
In the Bible, water is a symbol of God’s power. God has the power to destroy and the power to save from destruction. He has the power to give both physical life and eternal life. Once that life is obtained, God has the power to sustain a person in it. He matures us and draws us nearer and nearer to Him. Whatever happens with the coronavirus in the coming weeks, Christians must remember our true Source for water doesn’t come from a store. It comes with power from our God who can protect us and sustain us in any situation.
Fear is natural, and in many cases, it’s a good thing. As children, we were taught to fear hot stoves and the middle of the street for our own good. But while fear can be a motivating factor to be careful and wise in our dealings, it can also cause torment if we allow it to dwell. Scientist Karl Albrecht Ph.D. tells us that there are five basic fears from which all others emanate. These are universal to all humans, and they go hand in hand with our basic needs. But while our flesh might be prone to react to certain information with distress, the Bible tells us over a hundred times not to fear. Instead, God assures us that He will take care of us, be with us, and guide us if we will just live in right relationship with Him. Instead of fear, we can choose faith in God’s promises instead.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
Here are the five kinds of fears and God’s promises that speak to them. Keep this list handy and pray these scriptures in belief.
1. Fear of Physical Damage or Pain
Pain, by definition, hurts. It’s an unpleasant sensation that lets us know that something is wrong so that we can fix it before more damage is done. We all want to be healthy and whole. We want all of our physical needs met like food, water, shelter, and sleep. But when one or more of these needs are threatened, whether real or imagined, this can cause fear.
Fear of Not Having Enough
God knows we have physical needs. He didn’t drag the people of Israel out of Egypt to let them starve in the desert. He supplied them with food from the sky and water from a rock. His presence went with them to guide them on their journey. He made a way when there was no way for them, and He hasn’t changed in His ability or willingness to take care of His people. Psalm 37:25 says “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.” When we look at our lives, we can see that He has always provided for us in the past. We can trust the same from Him in the future.
MATTHEW 6:31-33 – “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
MATTHEW 7:9-11 – “Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
PHILIPPIANS 4:6-7 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
MARK 11:24 – “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.“
PHILIPPIANS 4:19 – “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Fear of Sickness or Fatigue
Being a child of God doesn’t mean that we will never get sick. Sometimes we will be kept from illness, but other times God will use it for His own purposes. Romans 8:28 tells us that “And we know that all things work together for the good to those who love God and to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Maybe illness is what is necessary to get us into the presence of those who need to be told about salvation. Maybe going through pain is how we will be humbled enough to understand and comfort others in their trials. Or, maybe He will heal us for His glory. In any case, whether He keeps us from it or is with us through it, no pain is wasted with God.
PSALM 91:10-12 – “No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-4 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
JAMES 5:14-15 – “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”
ISAIAH 40:29 – “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.”
ISAIAH 40:31 – “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
2. Fear of Death
Fear of Physical Death
Life is precious. It’s a basic instinct in all of us to act in our own best interest to preserve ourselves and the lives of others. This fear keeps us from risky behavior, but it can also cause terrible stress and strain when we feel that our physical safety is threatened. Of course, trusting in God doesn’t mean that we will never die. Job 13:15 says, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him….” It just means that God will not allow us to be taken out before HE chooses the time for us to go. Men and even the devil have no power over us while God still has a purpose for us on earth.
PSALM 56:11 – “In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
ISAIAH 54:17 – “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the Lord.
PSALM 5:11 – “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.”
Fear of Losing Salvation
As Christians, we know death is not the end. To be absent with the body is to be present with the Lord. But, when the devil can’t make us fear losing this life, he can try to make us fear going into the next. The fear of eternal death or losing our salvation is a favorite ploy of the enemy to cause mistrust in God. Yes, we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling and do our best to listen to God and obey Him. But the idea that we are on the edge of hell with every thought or action is a lie from the pit. God is the author and the finisher of our faith. He promises to keep us if we will but hope to the end in Him.
JUDE 24 – “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.”
PHILIPPIANS 1:6 – “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
1 JOHN 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
JOHN 14:3 – “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
JOHN 10:28 – “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”
PSALM 121:7-8 – “The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.”
1 PETER 1:4 – “…to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.”
1 JOHN 2:25 – “And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.”
3. Fear of Losing Control
Feeling helpless in any given situation can lead to fear. We don’t want to lose our freedom. Whether it’s a physical freedom to move around or a mental freedom to think and speak the way we see fit, we want the power to choose to act in ways that make a meaningful difference in our situations. In addition, having choices to make with unknown outcomes can bring fear and even panic into our hearts if we wallow in the “what-ifs” instead of bringing our troubles to God and asking for Him to guide us.
The key here is to understand who is in charge of our lives; either we are, or God is. There can only be one Captain of our ship. As Christians, we are simply not our own. We have been bought with a price, and God now calls the shots. We can have confidence that even when it feels like things are spiraling out of control, nothing surprises God. He hears us when we call, He guides us, and He will work on our behalf if we will but trust in Him.
PROVERBS 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
JAMES 4:7 – “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
JAMES 1:5 – If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
PSALM 34:17 – “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.”
PSALM 50:15 – “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”
PSALM 1:3 – “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”
4. Fear of Separation
We all want to be loved and accepted. Fear comes when we consider the possibility that we will be rejected, unwanted, abandoned, or separated from those we love. We need connections to family and intimacy in love and friendship. One of the greatest fears that the devil tries to create in Christians is the fear that God will abandon us, that we will be left to face this life alone. But the devil is a liar. God will be with us and will even watch over our families for us.
ISAIAH 41:10 – “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
ISAIAH 41:13 – “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’”
DEUTERONOMY 31:8 – “And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”
DEUTERONOMY 4:29 – “But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
JOSHUA 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
PSALM 23:4 – “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
ISAIAH 49:25 – “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible be delivered; forI will contend with him who contends with you, and I will save your children.”
5. Fear of Disapproval
Our identity as a person matters. We all want to be thought of as lovable, capable, and worthy. When faced with humiliation and shame, our sense of self is threatened. For Christians, we want to feel that we matter to God’s work and to God Himself. God goes to great lengths in His word to assure us that He loves us and values us as His precious children. Even if and when other people turn their backs on us, God never will.
MATTHEW 10:31 – “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
JEREMIAH 29:11 – “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
PSALM 9:9-10 – “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.
Fear is the Opposite of Faith
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”
1 John 4:18
God is a good Father who watches out for His children and wants what is best in every situation even if we don’t understand at the time. Someone once counted 3,573 of God’s promises in the Bible for His children. And, unlike people, when God says something, He means it. Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”
Over and over again, the Bible tells us not to fear. God is with us and for us, and He is always in control. That doesn’t mean that as Christians we won’t experience pain and even death (at least the physical kind). But it does mean that God sees us and will answer when we call. In many cases God has and will deliver us from troubles. We are not our own, and we all have jobs to do for the kingdom. While He still has a use for us, He will keep us alive and safe. But even if He doesn’t, He will be with us to comfort us the whole time, and He will use every bit of pain and discomfort for our good and His glory.
The remedy for fear is in understanding and trusting in the promises of God. God will take care of us, comfort us, keep us, fight for us, love us, and be with us no matter what happens to us in this life. We can trust God’s promises and choose faith instead of fear.
Check out this song by Addison Road. I have been listening to it all week, and it goes along perfectly with this blog: Hope Now.
If you like articles about God’s promises, try Standing on the Promises of God . It is about a situation at school that taught me to stand against the devil and praise God’s name. Or, try Three Simple Instructions from God to Us in which God shows me a lesson from Hebrews 3-4. Please make sure to subscribe via email in the upper right hand corner. Also, check out my YouTube channel in which I read the blogs out loud. I also have a playlist of hymns from my church.
In times of comfort and prosperity, everyone wears a mask. It’s called the “mask of civility,” and it is a polite, controlled covering of whatever lies underneath. During times of crisis, however, the masks come off to reveal people’s true natures, whatever they may be. Recent reports from both the news and a friend’s firsthand account from China have revealed the depravity of mankind in a situation in which society has come undone. Whether the coronavirus comes to our country or not, it is worth considering how we would react in a similar situation near us. As born again Christians, what should our behavior look like in comparison with those who are not? How do we continue to bear the fruit of the Spirit in a time of crisis?
Only Two Kinds of Trees
The Bible tells us that we will know who people are by how they behave. Matthew 7:17-18 says, “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.”
But what makes a “good tree”? In Matthew 19:17, Jesus says “No one is good but God.” It is the Spirit of God, Himself, in us that makes us good trees. When we were saved, the Holy Spirit came to live inside of us and changed us into a new creation. The Holy Spirit’s presence in us gives us a new nature with new desires. The more we yield to Him, the more power He gives us to reject our old ways and, instead, behave more like He does. These “fruits” are the natural product; they are the characteristics we possess as we choose His ways instead of our own. The closer we get to God, the more power we have, and the more fruit we will bear.
What makes a “bad” tree? Sinful flesh produces certain types of fruit
that reflect the old nature. This certainly doesn’t mean that unsaved people
can’t behave in perfectly noble ways. That just means that it isn’t something
we can count on when we are dealing with unconverted people.
In fact, understanding the two-tree system is paramount to having the
correct mindset. We can’t go into a crisis expecting everyone to be “good.”
That would just set us up for disappointment, anger, and frustration when they
are not. We have to get into our heads before the situation occurs that sinners
sin. It’s what we did before we were saved, and it’s what we would still be
doing without our Savior. We have to go into the situation knowing that we are
all accountable to God for our own behavior, so our standard has to be what God
expects and not how other people are reacting.
The Fruit of the Spirit
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
Love is hard to define, but the Bible gives a definition in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5. Because God’s love is in us, it flows out from us. It allows us to see other people as objects of God’s love and to want the best for them even when they might not “deserve it” by their actions. Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” And, Matthew 7:12 gives us the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
My friend Jason is a Christian who has been visiting Hong Kong for the past couple of months. While there, he has witnessed a lot of hoarding of necessary supplies like masks, water, and toilet paper (see his pictures above). He said, “But this Wuhan Flu thing is making people crazy here. Absolutely ZERO compassion on one another. People buying up everything themselves with NO regard to others. It’s literal Thunderdome.”
As Christians in this situation, we must remember that our resources are not our own. God has given us our financial position to help other people. We can’t just look out for ourselves or treat others the way they treat us. Instead, we must be concerned about other people and help when we can simply because God loves them too.
Joy is a gladness of heart. It is a feeling even stronger
than pleasure or even happiness because it is in reaction to the eternal
instead of the temporal. We can have joy even in the middle of a great trial
because we can experience God’s presence, assurance, and comfort. Plus, we know
that this life is temporary. Psalm 30:5 says it this way: “…Weeping may endure for a night, but
joy comes in the morning.”
In a video entitled Heartbreaking Suffering in China, a woman is furious about the injustice of the government in light of the tragedy. This highlights a grave danger for the children of God. If we focus on the world and the things that are hurting us and the ones we love, anger and despair will be the result. Instead, we must acknowledge our temporary situation but focus on worshiping God and fulfilling His call on our lives. Psalm 16:11 says, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” This life is not all there is, and no matter what happens, we can never forget that..
Peace is the opposite of distress. It can be found by
trusting in God no matter what. Philippians
4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and
supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to
God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will
guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” We bring our requests
to God and leave them at the altar, and He, in turn, gives us His peace.
While in Hong Kong, my friend Jason was staying next to a building where the government quarantined some people who had just returned from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. The people were “bussed in under protection and ushered in under covering.” Even though the quarantine was only a precaution, and there was no physical evidence of illness, people were “losing their minds…everyone desperately clinging to life.” When life and death situations occur for people who are not secure in their eternity, distress is the immediate reaction. If we are ever in a similar situation, we must remember who is in control in our lives. We must choose to reject the chaos around us and trust God, to accept His peace in trade for our distress.
Patience is the ability to wait even in situations in which we are severely tried. I think the key here is to understand that God’s ways and timing are not our own. If God is for us (Romans 8:31) and He fights for us (Deuteronomy 3:22), then we can trust Him to take care of us. Otherwise, we might start to get worried or discouraged when things don’t seem to be happening exactly the way or in the timing we think they should. But, we need to remember that God will give us strength. Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!”
In a YouTube video by A Minute to Midnight entitled Wuhan Coronavirus – The Truth. Shocking and Concealed! a man comes on about the 15 minute mark. He explains that the entire society had been halted as people were quarantined. Emergency services were not functioning, and hospitals were so backed up that even people with other serious conditions could not be seen in a timely manner because of the lack of manpower and supplies. Innocent people were unable to get help but basically told to go home and die.
In this situation, it would be so important for the child of God to trust in Him. God is a healer. He can heal where there is no medicine. He can provide where there are thought to be no supplies. We must wait on Him and not lose heart. Even seemingly impossible situations are nothing to our God. Psalm 37:25 says, “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.” God will take care of us in our time of need.
Kindness is the care we take of other people when we help them. Goodness is when we do things to be morally right and a blessing to others. These two are about doing the right thing with integrity when dealing with other people. We must love our neighbors as ourselves. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, this looked like taking care of someone at a personal cost of time and money. In Acts 28:2, the islanders showed Paul and his group kindness when they built a fire and welcomed them out of the cold and rain.
By now, everyone has probably seen the video of the Chinese woman spitting on the buttons in an elevator. She was angry at others after a fight and decided that deliberately spreading germs would be an acceptable way to handle it. In another video, it is a man. This kind of behavior isn’t right by anyone’s standards of morality. It can make you angry unless you realize that these people are lost and feeling helpless. We must still remain good and kind in the face of the actions of humanity.
Jason personally saw a situation in which mainlanders flooded into Hong Kong. “A LOT of them not wearing masks, and I noticed they’d use the bathroom and not wash their hands and then go out and touch railings. Or spitting on the ground etc etc.” But his admonition to us is the real Christian reaction to this behavior. He said, “Also still be kind… Don’t use that as an excuse to start treating them like animals or whatever.”
Faithfulness is when we are full of faith, when we persevere
down the path God has set for us. It is about trusting in God no matter what. Romans
5:8 says, “And we know that all
things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the
called according to His purpose.” Whatever happens, we can’t get weary
in well-doing. We must cling to the hope that God is in control of our lives.
Very few people in China are Christians. Leaked videos show angry people speaking out against the Chinese government, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party), which has set itself up as their god. Jason said, “The Chinese people are suffering… More videos like this WILL come out… Distrust in the govt at an all-time high. If only they just trusted the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.”
The people there are ripe to hear about the kingdom of God. As Christians, we possess the gospel, the hope for all mankind. In times when the world is falling apart, our peace can show people a better way. It is up to us to be witnesses when we can. Our faith is a testimony that God is real and can save anyone. Jason said, “But I think it’s time to consider leaving my comfort zone life back home and trying to do something out here for the Lord. If he gives me the strength to do it.” More than any other time, the time is now to be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us.
Gentleness involves being humble and thankful to God, using
our words and actions to lift others up instead of tearing them down.
Circumstances can change in a moment. Our lives are held in the palm of God’s
hand. We shouldn’t think we are better than others because of our position. We
should use our position to help people and cry out to God on their behalf.
Jason said, “Pray for the people of Hong Kong… They will definitely need it… the few members of the Body of Christ here are probably under siege badly. Not sure how this city will heal when this passes, when people’s dark hearts have been exposed to one another.” We must realize that the world will be dark if and when a situation like this hits our land. But we are the light of the world. It’s up to us to shine.
Self-control involves saying “no” to what is bad for us and “yes” to what is good. Sometimes that means keeping silent when we want to speak. Sometimes that means speaking when we want to keep silent. During a crisis, it means restraining our fleshly desires in favor of following what the Holy Spirit tells us to do.
At one point while out and about, Jason got his empty bottle of hand sanitizer stolen from out of his backpack. More recently, a story came out in which hundreds of rolls of toilet paper were stolen by men with knives in Hong Kong. That is just one of the many stories coming out right now. People are stealing masks and medical supplies, and hospital workers are accused of taking hospital items home for themselves. In a crisis, we will definitely need the power of God to control ourselves. To give instead of take, to share instead of steal. We must remember that God will supply our needs when we submit to Him instead of doing things our own way.
When it comes to trees, there are only two kinds: good and bad. In a crisis, we will be expected to bear fruit with the power of God inside us, but we can’t count on others to do the same. Jason said about his experience, “I was naive. I knew that, yes, we are all sinful by nature, but deep down I wanted to believe there was goodness in everyone. That everyone deserves a chance. I still believe they deserve a chance with Jesus Christ… But my view of everyone being ‘basically good’ is finally gone for good.”
As Christians, we will need to be kind to others and pray for them, to trust in God and His timing, and to witness to others. But, we can’t do it alone. In John 15:4-5, Jesus says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. …he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” It all comes down to our relationship with God and how close we are to Him. We must submit ourselves and allow Him to change us to be more like Him and less like us. But that process can’t start when the crisis begins. It has to start today. We must get closer to God than every before so we can stand and bear the fruit of the Spirit in the evil day.
The world needs a Savior, and we know Him personally. As Christians, we have seen Jesus change our behavior and our priorities. We have heard His voice in both comfort and correction, and we have felt Him heal old wounds and fill our hearts with love toward others. We are His witnesses that He is real, and the stakes of heaven and hell are real as well. But telling other people about Jesus can be frustrating at times. Despite our best efforts, hearts remain hardened, nothing seems to change, and our own weaknesses seem to trip us up at every turn. But this week in preparation for a new ministry God has for me, three comforting truths came to me about our witness for Christ. They gave me renewed determination of purpose and helped me see evangelism in a whole new light.
“Then he said: ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.’”
1. Jesus Saves
I think a lot of my frustration with evangelism seems to be the lack of control. People are lost and dying, but they just don’t get it. I can’t make my family see their need for Jesus. I can’t convince them that Jesus is the only way. Our world says everyone is entitled to his or her own truth. What is true for one might not be true for another. The deeper I get into my faith, the more my family sees me as weird and extreme. My concern for their salvation is echoed back with their concern for my soundness of mind. It’s a helpless feeling.
But, this week on a ministry page for Reinhard Bonnke, I saw a wonderful quote. “We believers are not lawyers, attorneys or barristers in court pleading in the defense of Jesus. We are WITNESSES. Witnesses don’t plead. They simply speak the truth, declare what they know. And here I stand – being a living piece of evidence that Jesus is alive and that there is cleansing power in the Blood of Christ.”
We are witnesses. We are telling, not selling. John 6:44 says no man can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him to Him. God is the only one who can soften hearts and draw people to Jesus. We only need to be available to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). We can’t personally save anybody. But when we listen to the Holy Spirit’s leading, live what we believe, and pray, pray, pray, we can make a difference as a witness for Christ.
2. Evangelism is a Process
When we are hungry for an apple, we don’t grab a pack of seeds and head to the garden to plant and wait. In the Bible, evangelism is always described in terms of planting, watering, and harvesting. None of these things happen instantly. 1 Corinthians 3:7-8 says that some plant and some water, but it is God who gives the increase. In Matthew 9:37, Jesus says, “The harvest truly is plentiful.”
Consider the thief next to Jesus at His crucifixion. Luke 23:42 says, “Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’” Obviously, this was not the first time this man had heard of Jesus. He must have seen the things that Jesus had done in the lives of others, and maybe someone even spoke to him about Him. Did he reject that person? Did he mock and scoff and continue to live the life that caused him to also be crucified that day? The Bible doesn’t say. What we do know, though, is that in the last few hours of his life, he made the decision for Christ.
In our world today, we are used to instant results. We press button A, and we get result B. But people don’t always respond the first time they hear something. Or the second, third, or twenty-third. Our words and actions today may not mean anything at the time, but they could come back to someone’s mind in a powerful moment of understanding when added to other events. Just because we don’t see our efforts of love blossoming to the fruit of salvation before our eyes doesn’t mean that we aren’t making an eternal difference in people’s lives. We may never know this side of heaven what harvest our labors produce, but one day we will. And won’t that be an amazing day!
3. We Are Not All the Same
The great commission says for us to “Go.” Every one of us is called to a measure of evangelism, whether that is one of our specific gifts or not. Matthew 28:19 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” People need Jesus, and we are His hands and feet. But I don’t know about you, but when it comes to talking to strangers about Jesus, my stomach churns. I can’t seem to make myself ask shoppers about heaven and hell in the deli section. I have to force myself to give out tracts as I stand in line to pay.
On the other hand, my church is filled with people who evangelize, hard core, on a weekly basis. They offer to pray with people in stores and laundry mats, and they chat up waiters, repairmen, and the guy at the gas pump. One has even even prayed the prayer of salvation with a telemarketer! The question of my own weakness in this area was starting to weigh on me. I tried to do some research that would help me find a way to get past my aversion, but the more books and articles I read, the more guilt I felt. “Feeling nervous?” asked an article. “You just care more about what people think than what God thinks. Uncomfortable? You must not love people.” But feelings aren’t like faucets. You can’t turn them off and on, and the pressure of my responsibility in light of my limitation was starting to paralyze me. But this week, I think I had a breakthrough.
God has called me into a new ministry that doesn’t scare me but excites me. Amazingly enough, it involves talking to strangers about Jesus. The difference is in application. Instead of doing what my brain tells me is “bothering” busy shoppers, I will be taking a message of hope along with a food or drink item to people who have nothing more to do than stand and think. I will be bringing a snack and a “taste of church” to the men who stand and wait for day jobs on Sunday morning.
My hope is that the men will come to look forward to the weekly treat and message, and maybe they will be comfortable enough to ask me for prayers or even visit my church on Sunday evening. I’m not the same as the other people in my church, and God understands. He has given me my own way to be a witness for Christ, living proof that Jesus can change hearts and lives.
Be A Witness for Christ
Psalm 107:2 says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy.” We have found the Savior that the whole world needs. It’s up to us to be His witnesses. We can’t get frustrated when people don’t listen; we just have to remember that Jesus saves. Our efforts may seem futile in the moment, but the Bible says evangelism is a process, and we may not ever see the results this side of heaven. Finally, we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others because we aren’t all the same. We just have to listen to our Master’s voice, obey the commission He assigns, and trust that we are making a difference for the kingdom of God.
Money is a tough topic. Just the mention of the “t” word (tithing) is enough to stir up a lively thread on any social medium. But money is a part of the world we live in, and the Bible has quite a bit to say about it. In the Parable of the Unjust Steward, Jesus gives a money lesson that, on the surface, can be a little confusing. It would seem that the “hero” is a manager accused of wasting his master’s goods. Upon closer inspection, though, we see six main principles of financial management for the children of God to turn earthly wealth into treasures in heaven.
1. We Are All Stewards of God’s Goods
LUKE 16:1: “And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.”
1 Corinthians 4:7 asks a very good question: “What do you have that you haven’t received?” No matter if we have a little or a lot, every one of us has been given talents, strengths, and opportunities that have led us to the financial position we are in. In this way, God provides for our needs and many of our wants. We give thanks for our blessings and have faith in His provision for us. Indeed, we are not our own, and neither is our net worth.
We are His hands and feet, and we should be about our master’s business even with our material wealth. But how many of us include Him in the decision making process about how to spend the money He has entrusted to us to manage? Are we always completely faithful, or do we sometimes waste our Master’s goods, just like the unfaithful steward?
2. We All Will Give an Account When Our Time Ends
LUKE 16:2: “So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’”
Romans 14:12 says, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Our stewardship is also temporary. After just a few short years on earth, we will all stand before God with the books open. In a sermon by C. H. Spurgeon called “The Last Sermon of the Year” in 1895, he mentions stewardship of time, talents, substance, and influence. It’s a sobering thought. The unjust steward in this parable took his earthly accounting seriously. How much more so should the children of God when we consider our day in front of the judgement seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10)? Luke 12:48 says, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”
LUKE 16:3-4: “Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’”
Any talents, abilities, or inclinations we have come purely by the grace of God. There is no more labor for our souls. When our time as stewards for God is done, all we will have is the future we have made for ourselves by the things we have done with our resources on earth. We must use our present position and possessions to prepare for our eternity in God’s kingdom. Even Moses made financial decisions based on anticipation of rewards. In Hebrews 11:26, Paul said about him, “Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.”
3. We Should Sacrifice For Our Future
LUKE 16:5-7: “So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, ‘How much owest thou unto my lord?’ And he said, ‘An hundred measures of oil.’ And he said unto him, ‘Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.’ Then said he to another, ‘And how much owest thou?’ And he said, ‘An hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said unto him, ‘Take thy bill, and write fourscore.’”
This part might seem a bit confusing if you don’t understand the commission system of the time. The landlord had tenants who owed him money. It was up to the manager to collect the amount owed. Any monies over and above that original amount were the salary for the manager to keep. The steward here sacrifices his portion of collections to gain the goodwill of the landlord’s tenants. The rich man gets his money, the tenants get a good deal on their debts, and the steward has created a group of people who are grateful for his actions. He is securing his future while he still holds his position.
In the same way, we must sacrifice now to benefit others. Proverbs 3:27 says, “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.” We must use our Lord’s money in a way that gives God His due, helps His people, and earns esteem from both God and those who will be sharing our eternity.
4. We Must Make Friends With the Unrighteous Mammon
LUKE 16:8-9: “And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, ‘Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.’”
The landlord commends his steward for investing in his future. In fact, when you look around at the unbelievers you know, it is obvious how true this is. People work their whole lives, saving, investing, and planning for their earthly futures that may last but a few short years. In fact, that’s why it’s called “mammon of unrighteousness.” The word “mammon” means an object of worship and devotion. It’s called unrighteous because those who put their trust in money to buy happiness and satisfaction deceive themselves. Only God can fill our God-shaped holes.
But how many believers do you know who truly live with eternity in mind? How many are intentionally investing in the only thing that we can take with us when we go: the good we have done for other people. In Luke 12:33, Jesus tells the rich young ruler to “Sell that ye have, and give alms (money to the poor); provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.” So, meeting the needs of people on earth is the way to lay up treasures in heaven. We should use our resources to do as much good as we can for God’s glory and people’s eternal good.
1 Corinthians 3:14 says, “If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” One day many of those same people we help will be with us in our forever home. The difference we made in their lives while on earth will cause them to welcome us with great joy in eternity.
5. We Should Be Faithful With the Unrighteous Mammon
LUKE 16:10-12: “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?”
Here, Jesus calls money the “least” because money is so temporary. Faithfulness with money now while it is not our own will result in blessings in heaven that will truly be ours. But sometimes if we’re not careful, we might find ourselves in the position of having what is called a “poverty mindset.” That just means that we live with the belief that life is full of scarcity. Money is difficult to earn, things are hard to get, and there just isn’t enough for us, much less enough for us to share. In this way, people hold their belongings tightly to themselves instead of giving generously and expecting God to refill and resupply. But we just can’t out-give God.
As for theme of faithfulness in resources, it can be found several other places in the Bible. In the parable of the talents, a man trusts his servants with varying amounts of money and expects them to yield dividends for him. Matthew 25:21 says, “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.’” Their rewards were increased responsibility in their master’s business.
In his book titled Our Daily Devotional, Evangelist F.B. Meyers once said, “So God is testing men by giving them money that He may know how far to trust them in the mart of the New Jerusalem.” That same parable also speaks of the day when we will meet Jesus face to face. We want Him to be pleased with the things we have done. Revelation 22:12 says, “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
6. We Should Serve God and Not Money
LUKE 16:13: “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Many people say they love Jesus, but their handling of money tells a different story. How can you tell Who or what you are serving? Service requires sacrifice. If you will sacrifice to make more money and get ahead financially but will not sacrifice for God, you have chosen your god. Whether rich or poor, our checkbooks are the best objective guide to Who or what holds sway in our lives. Luke 12:34 simply says, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
For some, financial obedience looks like tithing, or giving ten percent of one’s income off the top. Abraham tithed to Melchizedek some 400 years before Moses received the Law. It is the one subject in the Bible in which God encourages people to test Him. Malachi 3:10 says, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” As a tither myself, I can personally testify that God is absolutely faithful to His promise in that area. It seems counterintuitive that giving more means having more, but that is exactly how God’s math works.
In any case, the concept of sowing and reaping is present throughout the entire Bible. In 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, Paul says, “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” God rewards us for our sacrificial giving both on earth and in eternity. Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” And Jesus is clear in Luke 21 that he is a fool who “layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
The Lesson of the Parable
“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
1 Peter 4:10
We are all stewards of God’s resources on earth, and we will all give an account of how we have handled His business. Sacrificing our own financial gain to invest in the lives of our Lord’s servants is the only way to bring that wealth into eternity. We must be faithful and serve God with our time, effort, and money. In this way, we glorify God and reveal our own priorities and spiritual maturity. It is one way to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, and one more way to please our Lord.
As believers, we are commanded to pray unceasingly. We pray for so many reasons, praising God for His blessings and mercy and asking for provision, health, and protection for ourselves and others. This week, I prayed a prayer for guidance. I asked God what He wanted me to do in a certain situation, and my mind was filled with possibilities. None of them, however, involved the actual answer I received. I guess I just assumed that He would pick one of the many options I had come up with in my mind, kind of like multiple choice. They were plans that didn’t cost me anything. They were all of benefit to me. But His idea was a painful one, at least for my flesh. It made me think of the many characters in the Bible who started by saying “no” but ended up saying “yes” to God.
Moses Didn’t Want To Go to
When God met Moses at the
burning bush in Exodus 3, He laid out His plan for the mass departure of the
Israelites from Egyptian captivity. Moses never actually said “no,” but he sure
had a lot of questions. “Who am I to do this?” “What should I tell them?” “What
if they won’t believe me?” God had firm, logical answers for all of his
questions, but that didn’t stop Moses from trying two more times to get God to
change his mind. “But I’m not a good speaker,” he tried. And then came his
final plea: “Please. Just send somebody else!” (Exodus 4:13).
The Lesson From Moses
Sometimes God asks us to do things that we don’t
feel qualified to do. From the natural, we don’t have the talent or the
strength. There are lots of “what ifs” that can crowd our minds, but the lesson
here is that God has everything under control. He has chosen each of us for the
work we are here to do and will give us the tools to do it. There’s the old
saying that “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” God gave
Moses everything he needed to complete the job before him. He was patient with
Moses in his questions and his fears, but at the end of the conversation in
Exodus 4, the matter was settled, and Moses was on his way to Egypt.
Jonah Didn’t Want to Go to
Unlike the questioning, pleading Moses, Jonah didn’t stick around long enough to have a discussion with God. He actually tried to run away by getting on a ship traveling the other direction. See, God was telling him to make a long, arduous journey to warn a city full of Assyrian sinners of their impending judgement. These were enemies of the Israelites and a threat to their nation. They were a wicked and idolatrous people and deserved to be judged by God. But Jonah knew that God is merciful. If the people repented, He would turn away His wrath. So Jonah ran from God in a ridiculous attempt to escape his responsibility to the God who had called him into service. One big fish and three days later, and Jonah had his attitude adjusted. Then he was on his way to Nineveh.
The Lesson From Jonah
How many people are running from their God-given calling in life? They know exactly what God is asking them to do, but for whatever reason they are delaying the inevitable. Silent watchmen, homebound missionaries, and blind-eyed evangelists dig in their heels in their determination to avoid the things they are meant to do. Jonah learned his lesson of futility the hard way, and for some, it will take a calamity to throw them back to their knees.
But even in his disobedience, God took the time to teach Jonah one more lesson in Jonah 4. He made a gourd to grow by day that gave Jonah shade. Then overnight, a worm destroyed the sheltering plant, and the sun beat down on his head so much that he wished he would die. But God reminded him that Jonah’s concern for one little plant that grew in a day was nothing to the compassion God felt for the city full of people in Nineveh. Our worlds can be very small when we focus on the things we want that are in front of our eyes. God has the world in His sights. His desire that none should perish requires his servants’ obedience to His purpose. Like Jonah, we belong to God. We are not our own and must remember compassion for others.
Naaman Didn’t Want to Wash
Naaman’s story in 2 Kings 5 is
a little different. He was a commander in the Syrian army, a brave soldier who
had favor with God and the king. Unfortunately, he also had a terrible disease
called leprosy. He heard through an Israelite captive that there was a prophet
in Samaria who could cure him, so he told the king. Immediately, King Aram sent
a letter to the king of Israel, and Naaman was on his way to see Elisha with
money and supplies. When he got there, Elisha sent a servant to give him the
command: “Wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River, and you will be
But Naaman was expecting Elisha himself to come to say great prayers to his God, waving his hands and making him whole. He flatly refused to touch the dirty river water and went away angry. But his servants came to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed!’” (2 Kings 5:13). So Naaman washed and was cleansed.
The Lesson From Naaman
The great lesson of this story
is that sometimes the things God tells us to do may not make sense to us in the
natural. When that happens, we are not to lean our own understanding. God works
in mysterious ways, but He does work. We see through a glass darkly and only
have a tiny fraction of the information in any given situation. Not only that,
God has shown Himself to be faithful time and time again. What small thing it
is for us to trust our great God who has his glory and our good in mind.
The First Son Didn’t Want to Go
to the Vineyard
In Matthew 21, we hear the
parable of the two sons. In it, a father comes to his two sons and tells them
to work in the vineyard. The first son says, “I will not,” but later he regrets
his decision and goes. Jesus explains clearly that the first son is like the
harlots and publicans who committed great sins but repented at the preaching of
John the Baptist. The second says, “I go, sir,” but he never actually went. He
was like the scribes and Pharisees who appeared outwardly righteous but did not
believe and turn away from their sins. Jesus asks which one did the will of the
father, and it was clear to even his audience that it was the first son, the
one who actually went.
The Lesson From the First Son
I totally relate to the first son. His father told him to do something, and he just didn’t want to do it. Maybe he had other plans, or maybe it was going to be too hot or cold that day. So without thinking, his first words out of his mouth were a definite “no.” But on more careful thought, he changed his mind. Maybe he thought of everything his father had done for him. Maybe he realized that it was his responsibility or would have caused hardship to others without him there. Whatever the reason, his ultimate answer was “yes.” Did he stomp the whole way to the vineyard? Was he still grumbling when he grabbed the tools he needed to do his work? Was he angry at his father for even asking in the first place? The parable doesn’t say.
I Didn’t Want to Do The Thing
This week when God told me what He wanted me to do, I didn’t want to do it. It was a big thing, and it involved sacrifice in the place where I thought I would find a reward. I’m just going to go ahead and say that I did some stomping and grumbling. On hindsight, I realized that I was even angry with God for asking, if only for a very short time. The flesh is powerful and must be crucified daily. Sanctification doesn’t happen overnight, and even when it is our very deepest desire to please God and do His will, it can be downright painful as we, again and again, find ourselves in the position of having to choose between ourselves and God. Galatians 5:17 says, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”
Of course, when my hissy fit was done, I found myself flat on my face in front of my God. I repented of my bad behavior and asked for strength and wisdom to do the thing He was asking me to do. I still don’t understand it, but I trust Him.
When God Asks Us For Something
In between the thousands, or maybe millions, of requests we make of God in our lifetimes, sometimes He will ask things from us. Some will be small and cost us little. Some will be big and require us really work hard to bring our own wants and desires into submission. Whether we don’t feel qualified, have too little compassion, don’t understand, or just plain don’t want to do it, at the end of the day, saying “yes” to God is really the only option.
Speaking of saying “yes” to God, here is one of my favorite songs we sing at church. It’s called Yes, Lord, Yes. It’s part of a list of songs on my YouTube channel playlist called Hymns With Hannah. Check it out and subscribe for new songs each week.
Enjoy articles about obedience? Check out When Obedience Is the Sacrifice in which God shows me that it is better to obey than to regret. Or, try God Answered the Prayer I Didn’t Pray. In that one, I learn the importance of leaning on God for strength. Please sign up to receive my blog in your email in-box. at the upper right of your screen.
In the computing world, cookies are data files associated with your browser. Every time you visit websites, click links, and enter information, they are recording your movements. They are keeping track of your preferences and patterns and can even follow you from website to website. Tech savvy people can maneuver around them, but most of us just click the button, accepting cookies as a part of modern life. This week, I had something happen that involved a false prophecy, a counterfeit confirmation, fiery darts of doubt, and an answered prayer. It reminded me that we are in a spiritual battle and showed me that the devil himself has a cookie system with the express purpose of destroying the children of God.
I listen to any message that someone claims is from the Lord, whether on
Facebook, YouTube, or any other website, I always pray before I allow it to
touch my mind. I pray that God will cover me and protect me from anything that
isn’t from Him. If it is from Him, I pray that I will understand what I’m
supposed to do to apply the message to my walk. This week, I was scrolling
through Facebook and happened on a “word” that someone said she had received a
while back, but the Lord just released her to give the message that day. I
prayed the prayer as usual and started reading. It wasn’t long before I
realized that the spirit behind the words was NOT the Lord.
message was given by someone who has a small following in certain circles. She posts
both her own prophecies and those of other people, sometimes several in a day.
The message this time was about well-known pastor and evangelist who passed
away in 2011, David Wilkerson. He was the founding pastor at Times Square
Church in New York City and established Teen Challenge, a ministry devoted to
saving gang members. He wrote several books including The Cross and the
Switchblade about his experiences in starting Teen Challenge, and he still has
many of his sermons on YouTube today.
This person started her post with a preface that there were a lot of people who wouldn’t like the message because it was a hard one. She encouraged people to pray for truth and then proceeded to give a message that was in first person as if from the Lord. She said, “David Wilkerson spoke my word but he never truly let me be the king of his heart.” She said the Lord told her that Wilkerson spoke empty words, that he knew of God, but he didn’t truly know Him. Instead, he cared more about what people thought of him than what God thought of him. Then the voice contradicted itself as it said, “He had started out strong, but then towards the end, he started to fall away.” (How could he have “started strong” if he never knew Him?)
The voice said Wilkerson lost the love and passion he once had. The seed was planted on rocky ground with no root and a weak foundation. The voice again contradicted itself with the idea that Wilkerson knew God at one point but then became lax. Then the voice said he lived differently than the words he spoke and had not fully surrendered his heart. Finally, the message ended with the words, “So the enemy was the crow that came down and snatched my seed from his heart, and flew away.”
To say my spirit did not bear witness is an understatement. I immediately unfriended this person and prayed prayers of repentance for listening to anything from her in the past. I was thankful that God protected me and gave me discernment. A few minutes later, I started to move on, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I had to speak the truth. So, I searched for the post and commented that I did not believe the message was from God.
The Bible says we will know people by their fruit, and this man had very godly fruit and multiple ministries that still thrive today. Furthermore, God is not a gossip, telling secrets on people and discussing the state of someone’s heart to be revealed in a public setting. I said the devil wished that he got David Wilkerson, and it felt very much like that same spirit of the enemy was on that post.
morning, I went to the Bible bookmark on my phone. I was in the book of
Matthew. Then I saw it, Matthew 12:32, “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever
speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age
or in the age to come.” Immediately, I thought of my rebuke to the
woman with the so-called “word” from the Lord. But I was confident that her
message was not from God. I wasn’t worried even a little bit, but I did think
it was weird. I decided to read one more chapter. Three paragraphs in, there
was the parable of the sower.
Now, usually when I read a prophecy that I
believe is from God, I will ask for a confirmation. Sometimes, that
confirmation comes with a scripture from either my morning or evening Bible
reading. (I read sequentially, a little from the Old Testament and a little
from the New Testament each night as I feel led, and I read the New Testament
at a different spot on my phone in the morning). When a “word” lines up with my
Bible reading and the Spirit bears witness, I count it as a confirmation that
the word is from God. But this message wasn’t from God. The devil had somehow
set up a counterfeit confirmation.
Then came the fiery darts of doubt: “If this ‘confirmation’ wasn’t from God, what makes you think those other ones were? How about those promises you believe God gave you about your life that were also confirmed this way? What if it was just the devil messing with you then too? What if God didn’t really say those things at all?”
A Prayer and a Sermon
Now, some of my best conversations with God happen while I’m driving, especially while I’m driving to church. That day happened to be a Wednesday, so as I was on my way to service, thoughts were flooding my mind. Some were more fiery darts of doubt about the things that I knew God had communicated to me in the past. Some were firm deflections with the shield of faith, words of truth and confidence in the promises of God to lead me if I just stick close to Him.
So I laid it all out there. “God, I know you are omniscient and the devil isn’t, but can he see the future? Did he know I would be reading those passages? Because I’m kind of confused right now, so I just need Your help figuring this out, please.” Now, sometimes we have to wait for God to answer in His time, and sometimes, it is just that quick.
A prayer, two hymns, and an offering later, and I had my answer. It seemed that my pastor had been studying for a couple days for a sermon on forgiveness, but just that morning he had felt led to change his message to be about spiritual warfare. He said that the enemy has his imps taking very careful notes about us, studying us to know our habits, faults, and weaknesses in order to hurt us or to tempt us into hurting ourselves or God. The devil’s mission is to kill, steal, and destroy, and he uses all of the information available against the children of God because we are the apple of His eye. Then he said the line that gave me my title for this blog: “The devil has cookies.”
The Devil Had Taken Good Notes
Could the enemy have seen where I was in
scripture? Could he have led the woman to release the message just at the right
time to give the false confirmation? Was the whole thing a set up to make me
question my own discernment and doubt God’s ability to speak into my life? It
seems rather elaborate, but when I started to think about what things might be
considered a weak spot in my walk with God, I realized that this was a big one.
I question myself a lot, analyzing every detail, agonizing over whether I did
the right thing or said or thought the right thing. If he could get me to doubt
my ability to determine WHO is leading me in a given moment, he might be able
to make me stop having confidence in God as my Shepherd. So much of the
Christian walk depends on faith. We have to have faith in God, of course, but
we also have to have faith that we are hearing from God correctly. In the
Garden of Eden, the serpent asked Eve, “Hath God said…?” and he is still using
that line today.
We Must Be More Savvy
The enemy is waiting for opportunities to make us stumble because
he knows that we each have our part to play in God’s plan. We have our own
spheres of influence with other people, so if he can hurt just one of us, the
chain reaction with believers and unbelievers alike could be a big payoff in
harm to God’s kingdom. But, the Bible tells us that
we are not ignorant of the enemy’s devices. In 1 Peter 5:8, the Bible says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the
devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
As children of God, it’s up to us to recognize our own faults and weaknesses and be very wary when something comes at us from one of those angles. As long as we are in this world, we will be in a spiritual battle. There are no “privacy settings,” so the devil will always have his servants watching for ways to discourage us or even take us out of commission.
Our job is to read the Bible daily, stay in close in contact with God, and keep our focus on Him despite any road blocks the devil tries to bring. In John 16:33, Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” We may take some hits in the spiritual battle, but Jesus Christ has already won the war.
Want to hear hymns about the spiritual battle we are in? Check out my YouTube channel playlist called Hymns With Hannah where the sixteen-year-old song leader at my church sings such songs as Keep on the Firing Line , Victory in Jesus, and more.