Through the Storm Ministries - Scripture Pills

Welcome to Scripture Pills, a dose of commentary built around a Bible topic.

My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. (Proverbs 4:20-22)


Date
Title
12/11/2017

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 8:12)

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:7) One of the great characteristics of God is his unwavering desire to forgive. According to Ephesians 1:7, it is redemption through the blood shed by Jesus Christ according the riches of God the Father's grace that our sins are forgiven. He is eager to forgive anyone for anything - except for one thing.

Not only is God eager to forgive, He is eager to forget our sins along with forgiving them. The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:8-12) When we repent, He blots out our sins, sends them far out of sight and forgets them. What a deal! It is the same as if we had never sinned in the first place. And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 10:17) Not only that, God is eager to fix and restore the parts of our lives that we have messed up, especially relationships. I call this the great eraser.

What about that one exception mentioned above? Well, God's mercy extends far and wide, but there is one sin that He cannot forgive. If we want to receive the fullness of His grace and mercy, the key is to believe on and receive Jesus Christ. To continue in rejecting Christ, the only One through whom forgiveness flows, is to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and if one does that, neither that sin nor our other sins can be forgiven.

We should always be ready to minister the love, mercy and grace of God through Jesus Christ to ourselves and others.

With much love, Phil

12/4/2017

Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he? (1 Corinthians 10:22)

Jealously is the suspicion that we do not enjoy the affection or respect of others, or that another is more loved and respected than ourselves. Most or all of us have been there.

Our God is also Jealous. (Deuteronomy 4:24) He designed and created us to have affections for Him above all others, including ourselves. The first two of the ten commandments express the basis of His jealousy. (Exodus 20:3-6) He knows that no other gods (which are false gods) can love us, provide for us, save us from hell, give us eternal life or even sustain our lives here on earth, so He guards us and protects us with Godly, righteous jealously. Any departure from us loving Him as the One true God provokes and invokes loving action on His part.

Our jealously, in contrast, is invoked as a result of our fleshly, fallen nature. We tend to be jealous for what WE want, not what God wants. We tend to mind the things of the flesh. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:5) We can be tempted and provoked to unrighteous jealously over friends, relatives, spouses, or the success of neighbors, peers and associates and even fellow workers at our church.

Or we can mind the things of the Spirit and have righteous, Godly jealously for what God wants. Elijah, even though he underestimated the number of people in Israel who stood with the Lord, was jealous for the Lord. (1 Kings 19:10) Paul was jealous for the Lord over the church at Corinth. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. (2 Corinthians 11:2-4)

So, if we are going to be jealous, we can choose unrighteous jealously in the flesh for our own desires or righteous jealousy in the Spirit for God's desires.

With much love, Phil

11/27/2107

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

In 1965, a song named Turn Turn Turn became an international hit. Many people, including me, had no idea the song was based on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 in the Bible. I mainly liked the catchy tune and the words. Here are the Bible verses, written by king Solomon, which comprise the lyrics of the song:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

A season is a short continuance of time that is distinguished from other times. The time between when we are born and when we die is divided into many seasons, natural, God ordained, self chosen or circumstantial. Some seasons repeat themselves.

Nations go through seasons. Israel spent a season in the wilderness. (Joshua 24:7) Even the devil goes through seasons. (Revelation 20:3)

People go through seasons. Using myself as an example, I went through seasons of infancy, childhood and adolescence (natural) then high school and college (self chosen) then early adulthood and working career (self chosen). Then I became born again by receiving Christ (self chosen, God ordained) then I was married (self chosen) and began working in ministry for Him (God ordained). During that time, I served in four different churches (God ordained). Gradually I grew from a baby Christian to a more mature one. (God ordained 1 Corinthians 13:11) Our children grew up, were married and then there were grandchildren (God ordained). I recognized when I had passed the mid-point of my life (natural). I went through a few job changes (circumstantial, self chosen). I retired from a career (circumstantial). And so on. In each of those seasons there were many mini-seasons of varying duration. Sometimes I passed through to another season gladly and gracefully and sometimes I did not want to let go.

Each of us have our own seasons. The key to successfully recognize and navigate through them is to use common sense, pray and seek God's wisdom, don't be moved by fear or impulse, wait patiently if it is not yet time to pass through and move decisively when it is time and be prepared to live with the results.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (Galatians 6:9) Have a great, joyful Christmas SEASON!

With much love, Phil

11/20/2017

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. (1 John 5:21)

One form of an idol is any building or image of a man, animal or thing created by God or man, that has been designated as an object of worship and to be served as a god. Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: (Isaiah 2:8) See also Exodus 20:23, Romans 1:25. I have been to areas in India where there are multiple, elaborately designed, images of gods on every street. It is amazing how many gods that man can imagine!

While we wonder at the folly of building images, buildings, and other things for the purpose of worshiping them, there are things in our minds and hearts that could be objects of worship, such as sports, shopping, money, our careers, ... We can even make idols out of relationships with people, including our own selves! In short, an idol is anyone or anything that we elevate and exalt above the One True God in our heart and by our actions. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)

Satan is the father of idol worship. (1 Corinthians 10:21)(Isaiah 14:12-14) He is constantly at work lying, deceiving, setting snares, shaping our thoughts, trying to find that one thing that is dear to us so he can help us displace our Lord from top place in our affections. King Solomon, the wisest man (outside of Jesus Christ) who ever lived, was led to idols by many of his heathen wives. (1 Kings 11:4)

Who or what do we love and serve more than God? If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:1-2)

With much love, Phil


Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)

One of the signs of inner joy is a sincere smile. Recently, a normally cheerful person whom I regularly interact with was acting withdrawn, was mum of speech except for one word responses and was apparently absent of that characteristic cheerfulness. In addition to my caring for this person as an individual, I depend on him/her to be joyous and positive. That night I went to the Lord in prayer about what should be done to restore that joy.

The next day, when I saw that person, My mouth said, without prior planning or rehearsal, "Where is your smile? You usually have a warm smile. I miss that smile." Immediately, I sensed the Lord saying "When I see my people not smiling, I miss their smiles - and yours as well." God taught me a lesson that moment.

Since that time, I have focused on presenting a smile to people I encounter throughout my day, knowing that I am also smiling, at, to and for my Lord.

By the way, that person's smile has returned. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.(John 16:33)

With much love, Phil


For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. (Philippians 4:16-17)

To truly prosper in God's Kingdom we must be willing givers. In Luke 21:1-4, Jesus taught that a poor widow who dropped 2 mites, all she had, into the offering gave more than the rich men who gave out of their abundance. Therefore, God rewards not based on the amount we give but on the percentage or proportion we give. But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. (2 Corinthians 9:6) There are many people who have become rich and live well because of their giving. Likewise, there are many who have become poor because they have refused to be givers. There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself. (Proverbs 11:24-25)

We should never feel forced to give. Giving should always be done willingly. God can change our hearts to be more willing givers. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Have you ever known someone who never consents to let you buy a meal for them, or who argues and resists you when you are led to give a gift of money or something of value to them, especially if they know you "can't afford it"? Not only must we be willing givers, we must also be willing receivers. There is no guilt in receiving good things that God has for us. God uses other people to bestow blessings back to us. Read Luke 6:27-38.

Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive. When we receive, we are either getting a need met, or we are reaping what we have sown. When we give, we are blessing someone and multiplying our receiving. Here is a personal example: For many years, I had stoppped to render aid to anyone who was stopped along the road with car trouble. (This was before the days of cell phones.) Later, I noticed that every time I was stopped along the road, within minutes someone always stopped to assist me, even when it seemed that no one was around. My giving was the catalyst for my receiving. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)

With much love, Phil


Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer. (Proverbs 25:4)

God uses allegories in His Word to describe the spiritual condition of His pople. Jeremiah 18:4-6 describes the nation of Israel, who had gone following after other gods, as a damaged pot of clay and God as the potter who turns the wheel and remakes the clay into a good, usable pot.

Elsewhere, God describes Himself as the finer, or refiner, who turns up extreme heat to make the dross (sin, uncleanliness, ungodly characteristics, ...) rise to the surface and be removed. And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin: (Isaiah 1:25) What remains after the purging is an honorable and useful vessel (us). If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:21-22)

As followers of Christ, most of us are a a work in progress. The refining work can be painful and emotional, especially when the heat is turned up during difficult situations in our lives, times when dross is being removed and our world is twirling while cracks in our vessels are being repaired. Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (Romans 9:21)

My experience is that the refining process happens one layer at a time. Even if we previously have made a complete mess of our lives, our Lord the finer/potter is able to repair us and perfect us. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. (1 John 2:5)

With much love, Phil


Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good. (Psalm 119:39)

The Bible has documented many instances of situations where God steps in and corrects wayward people and wayward situations, past, present and future. To understand God's judgments we must understand what human behavior brings judgment, what methods that God uses to execute judgment and the end results of the judgments.

Nothing happens on this earth without God knowing about it. The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3) God keeps a close eye on the spiritual temperature of individuals, groups and nations and intervenes when He sees it is necessary to make a course correction. God is longsuffering and merciful but there is a limit to the evil that he allows to continue (Psalm 94:10)(Jeremiah 2:19)(Jeremiah 10:24)(Jeremiah 30:11) The purpose of His judgements are ...to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant. (Jeremiah 1:10) God roots out and destroys the problem then rebuilds and plants the correction.

Causes of corrective judgment:

  • Idolatry, following after false gods.
  • Rejection of God and His Way Jesus Christ and embracement of the world and its ways.
  • Chronic and malicious mistreatment of others, especially the poor and defenseless.
  • Blatant disobedience to God.
  • Emnity against Israel and God's annointed.

The categories of judgment God uses to make major corrections: (Ezekiel 5:17):

  1. FAMINE. Financial meltdown, loss of wealth, severe inflation, drought, crop failure, lack of food, forced cannibalism, lack of clean water, no Word of God being preached.
  2. PESTILENCE. Plagues, sickness, locusts and other plant destroying insects, torments, serpents, scorpions, abnormal weather patterns, unnatural events in the heavens.
  3. THE SWORD. Terror, besiegement, government takeovers, betrayals by friends and other trusted entities, captivity of man, forced migration, slavery, forced indebtedness, torture from the devil allowed by God, separation from or loss of spouse and children.
  4. WILD BEASTS that destroy and devour people.

God's desired outcome of His corrections:

  • Preventing mankind from completely destroying itself.
  • Purging of sin.
  • Repentance by individuals, groups and nations.
  • Revelation and knowledge of who God is.

The good news is that Jesus Christ took all four categories of God's judgment, Famine, (Psalm 22:15)(John 19:28) Pestilence, (Psalm 22:14) the Sword (Matthew 26:47-50) and Wild Beasts, (Psalm 22:12-13) (Psalm 22:16) upon Himself so that we won't have to suffer them (Galatians 3:13) - if we receive that gift.

With much love, Phil


And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. (Mark 10:44)

Before we receive Jesus Christ and make Him Lord over our lives, the Bible says we are servants of sin and our father is the devil. (John 8:34)(John 8:44) But if and when we make that glorious decision to receive Him we become sons of God for eternity. (1 John 3:1-2) We also function as servants of God and servants to one another. The fact that we are servants is in no way demeaning to us. The exalted apostles Paul and Peter as well as James and Jude. the brothers of Jesus, called themselves servants of God and Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:1)(2 Peter 1:1)(James 1:1)(Jude 1:1) Even Jesus came to this earth as a servant. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45) See also Isaiah 42:1 and Philippians 2:5-11.

If we strive to be in a leadership position responsible for the welfare of more people than just ourselves, then the old saying "Be careful what we wish for" comes into effect because our org chart will look like an inverted pyramid with ourselves at the bottom because the leader is servant to all the people he is leading. And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. (Mark 9:35)

The rewards for serving the Lord faithfully through our lives are great. Some examples: Joshua served Moses and then was appointed the successor to Moses and led Israel into the promised land. Elisha served Elijah until Elijah was taken up to heaven and then became a greater miracle worker than Elijah. An otherwise little known common man named Epaphras served the church at Colossae faithfully and his name was immortalized in a book of the Bible. (Colossians 4:12) Could he have thought that would happen? We will all be singled out by Christ on our judgement day and rewarded in proportion to our level of faithfulness. 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. (Matthew 25:21)

With much love, Phil

10/9/2017

Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. (Matthew 27:38)

When Jesus was crucified, many people were present. Some were mocking and reviling Him, some were lamenting His fate, some were simply watching. (Matthew 27:39)(Luke 23:35)(Luke 23:27)

There were also two thieves, malefactors, as Luke 23:33 calls them, crucified with Jesus. Both thieves also mocked and reviled Him. (Matthew 27:44) Imagine that! However, something happened during the six hours that they hung on the cross before Jesus died. And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luk 23:39-43)

Jesus and each of the two thieves had one important thing in common in that both died for the sins of the thieves. The thieves died because they had transgressed the law. Jesus died for their forgiveness. There was also one important difference between Jesus and the thieves in that the thieves were guilty and Jesus was innocent of any wrongdoing and that He shed His blood and died willingly. (Matthew 26:53-54)

During that time of agony hanging on their crosses, one thief recognized Jesus for who He is, repented, and was carried to paradise to be with Jesus. The other moved on to an eternity of miserable torment. We all face that same choice!

With much love, Phil

10/2/2017

Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:16)

In this world, we are bombarded constantly with impure thoughts, images, words and actions designed to raise up idols in our hearts to lead us away from intimacy with God. However, For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. (1 Thessalonians 4:7)

And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. (Revelation 4:8) The word holy is repeated three times in this verse because the Father is holy, (John 17:11), the Son is holy, (Luke 4:34) and the Holy Spirit is holy. (Luke 11:13) If we have Christ living in us, then we are made holy through Him and given holiness to wear as a garment. And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:23-24)

Through Christ, we have the power to turn our eyes, hands, feet, ears and thoughts away from any and all unholy TV shows, books, magazines Web sites, live events, parties, etc. which are poison to our mind and heart. But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; (1 Peter 1:15)

With much love, Phil

9/18/2017

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 136:1)

Have you ever been in a position to where you had the power to rightfully punish someone for doing wrong to you or to someone else but instead you, out of love for that person, withheld some or all of the punishment, even though the person deserved the whole load of it? If so, you have extended mercy in that situation and that person did not receive what he/she deserved.

Well, our Father in heaven also has the power to minister the punishment we deserve but he mostly chooses not to. In fact, the entirety of Psalm 136:1-26, as well as many other scriptures, speak of His mercy and love. He has given His Son Jesus the power to FORGIVE sins and cancel out the punishment we deserve. (Matthew 9:6)(Colossians 2:14)(Ephesians 2:4-6)

Likewise, we are instructed to extend mercy in order to help bring others into the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Proverbs 28:13

With much love, Phil

9/11/2017

He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. (Psalm 107:29)

Oh, the troubles that are on the earth! Hurricanes, tornados, floods, volcanos, earthquakes, terrorism, the threat of a one world government, ... One could be driven to panic, except for one thing - Jesus Christ. If we are in Christ we have absolutely nothing to fear in what is happening on this earth. ...for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Hebrews 13:5) See also (Joshua 1:5)(Hebrews 13:6)(Hebrews 13:8)

To overcome fear and to avoid making foolish decisions, we must focus our hearts on the redeeming love that Christ has for us and His power to see us through the storms of life. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2) So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. (Isaiah 59:19)

Remember, if we are in Christ, all bad situations come to pass, not to stay. If you are going through hellish situations, don't stop - Keep going. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

With much love, Phil

9/4/2017

And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart. (Jeremiah 24:7)

Multitudes of people believe there is a God. Even devils believe there is a God. (James 2:19) Many people, though they believe about God, have not received God as THEIR God. Many believe there is a God but do not believe that Jesus Christ is also God and that all salvation comes through Him. There is one and only one criteria for one to be saved and that is ...Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:31)

One example in the Gospel of John of a change of his heart to receive salvation is Thomas, one of the twelve apostles. Thomas progressed from having a zeal for God in wanting to die with Jesus (John 11:16) to being skeptical and confused over Jesus (John 14:5) to not believing (John 20:24-25) to receiving Jesus as his God. (John 20:28)

Another example is Paul in the book of Acts. Through some God ordained circumstances, Paul evolved from a zealot who persecuted and killed Christians (Acts 8:1) to one who was willing to do whatever the Lord said to do (Acts 9:6) to bragging about his God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

It is God's desire that we help others to progress in their hearts from seeing God as someone else's god to claiming God as their own.

With much love, Phil


Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. (John 7:24)

Much has been made by the church, and also by non-believers, of the scripture in Matthew 7:1 where Jesus says "Judge not, that ye be not judged". Some see that scripture as a prohibition against any attempt by Christians to point out and stand against advancement of evil in the church, in our society, or in the world. Others use the same scripture to disavow our responsibility to judge matters that we need to be judging. Jesus told us to judge "righteous judgment". (John 7:24)

What does the Bible say we as Christians should judge and what we should not judge? First, we are to continually judge ourselves, repent when we sin, set Godly examples and don't cause others to sin. (1 Corinthians 11:31-32)(Romans 14:13)

1 Corinthians 5:1-13 tells us not to give implicit or explicit approval to a blatant immoral lifestyle being practiced by another (so called) believer in the church. We are to judge that lifestyle and not fellowship with that invividual as if their lifestyle is acceptable to Christ, or else corruption will settle into the church. ...Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? (1 Corinthians 5:6) We are to love and help restore that individual (Galatians 6:1), but we are to expect repentance.

We are also to judge and help settle disputes among believers in the church instead of them suing one another in a secular court of law. (1 Corinthians 6:1-11)

We are to recognize and reject false prophets, wolves in sheeps clothing so they don't lead others astray. (Matthew 7:15-20)(1 John 4:1)

We are NOT to judge by comparing others to ourselves or to other people, or ourselves to others, or by arbitrary standards. (Romans 14:1-17) To judge righteously, it is our responsibility to know the Word of God and apply all of our judging with love and mercy according to the Word. (John 12:48)

With much love, Phil


And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)

There are several basic forms of government ruling the nations of this world - dictatorships, monarchies, theocracies, democracies, or other variations such as a representative or republican government which forms the United States, according to our constitution.

Regardless of the form of government that we are living under and how easy it is to immerse ourselves in political matters, it is critical that we, as followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, keep foremost in our minds that, although we are living IN this world, we are not OF this world (John 17:16)(1 John 4:4-5)(John 15:19).

Jesus refused the devil's offer to Him of all the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:8-11) and He overcame the world through His death and resurrection. (John 16:33) Because of Christ's victory over the world's system, which is controlled by the god of this world, the devil, we are also overcomers of the world (1 John 5:4)(Romans 12:21) and we belong to a higher Kingdom, the Kingdom of God. (Colossians 1:13) The kingdoms of this world are temporary and short lived. The Kingdom of God is eternal.

As Christians, because we live IN this world and God has allowed the citizens of this nation the choice of who we want to represent us, we should be influential in political matters and stand for righteousness and truth. Also, as Christians, because we are not OF this world, we should be more passionate about the Word of God and His Kingdom than we are about the words and actions of the politicians and the rulers of the hour. Our most powerful tool of influence is prayer.

With much love, Phil

8/14/2017

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (Mark 1:3)

A wilderness is a desert place that is uncultivated and normally uninhabited by humans, a wild place, a dangerous place with harsh living conditions, a place of wandering. Our spiritual condition can also be a wilderness. Our minds can be a desert place where we are fighting for survival day to day.

How do we get into the wilderness? In short, sin takes us there and keeps us there, even if it is someone else's sin against us. Satan caused the wilderness to exist. (Isaiah 14:12-17) Ishmael grew up in the wilderness because of Abraham's sin. (Genesis 21:20) Israel had to cross the wilderness to escape captivity by Pharaoh in Egypt and ended up staying in the wilderness for 40 years because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:17, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) David had to dwell in the wilderness to hide from king Saul who was trying to assassinate him. (1 Samuel 23:14)

But the wilderness is also a place where deliverance happens. God wants our minds and spirits to abide in fertile places. God made Ishmael a mighty nation. He delivered Israel into a land of milk and honey. He delivered David from Saul and set him as king over Israel. John the baptist ushered in the kingdom of God through Jesus Christ from the wilderness. (Matthew 3:1-3) Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to overcome temptation by the devil and launch His ministry as our savior and deliverer. (Matthew 4:1-11) Through Jesus Christ, even the wilderness can be our friend. (Isaiah 35:1)

My friends, if anyone is dwelling in a spiritual wilderness, we do not have to stay there. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:7-8)

With much love, Phil

8/7/2017

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. (Isaiah 41:10)

God's right hand is a hand of RIGHTeousness, (Psalm 48:10), strength (Exodus 15:6)(Psalm 98:1) and saftey. (Psalm 73:23) At the Father's right hand sits Jesus Christ Himself. (Luke 22:69)(Romans 8:34) (Colossians 3:1)(Hebrews 8:1)

In the Bible, the highest blessing of someone is done with the right hand (Genesis 48:13-20) and when Christ returns, individuals of all nations will be assembled at His right and left hands, depending on whether they are in RIGHTeous standing with Him, or not. The RIGHTeous will be at His right hand and He will be at the right hand of the RIGHTeous. (Matthew 25:33-46)

Satan tries to sneak in at our right hand and will stay there if we let him. (Psalm 26:9-10)(Psalm 109:6)(Zechariah 3:1)

Even on earth, hand shaking is done with the right hand and the culture of some nations dictates that their people eat with their right hands. A special assistant is referred to as a "right hand man". One can say that Jesus is the Father's "right hand man" and we are Christ's "right hand" people at His service to do His will.

With much love, Phil

7/31/2017

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. (Luke 9:23)

Jesus made several references to His disciples about us being required to take up our cross and follow Him. (Matthew 10:38)(Matthew 16:24)(Mark 8:34) What does this mean? Do we need to carry such a heavy burden or be nailed to a cross like Jesus did? For most of us, no.

Philippians 2:4-7 and Hebrews 12:2 describe the attitude that Jesus took to the cross; looking out for others, humbling Himself and being obedient to the Father unto His death while being joyful and seeing ahead the end rewards of his obedience. He was totally committed to fulfilling His purpose during His life on this earth. Likewise, to be true disciples of Jesus Christ and fulfill His purpose for us during this life on this earth we must also carry the same attitude that Jesus carried. (Luke 14:27)

When we are carrying our cross and following Him daily, we don't have much room to live a selfish life and to seek our own comfort. We are living for Him and for others. Does this mean that we must endure imprisonment, torture and martyrdom for Christ? Maybe, maybe not. For most of us, carrying our cross mainly involves being unselfish and obedient to the voice of the Holy Spirit and remain steadfast in that to the end of our lives. Will it be difficult? Sometimes no, sometimes yes, but it should always be joyful. Jesus did say that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:29-30) and that His grace is sufficient for us. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

With much love, Phil

7/24/2017

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10)

The love of money is a form of idol worship or idolatry where an individual or a group loves financial gain more than they love God - or loves it instead of God. This form of idolatry is called mammon. Unlike other idols which are built of materials, mammon is almost unlimited in how large it can grow or the influence it can exhibit. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24)

I have seen several people close to me totally mess up a great opportunity to serve the Lord in ministry and grow into a higher level in the kingdom of God, if they had simply remained content with their current situation and trusted the Lord to promote and prosper them in His own time. Instead, they became greedy for instant gain and used unjust means to try to fast-track their road to riches. Although they can be restored by repentance, it is heartbreaking to watch them fall. There are examples of similar scenarios in the Bible. (1 Samuel 8:1-3)

I have also seen many people serve the Lord humbly throughout their lives and, although some remained poor by the world's standards, were taken care of in their last days, celebrated at their funerals and were most certainly welcomed into heaven to receive great rewards. Others obtained great riches by living wisely and met the same celebration at the end.

God has absolutely no problem with His people prospering, (Psalm 35:27)(3 John 1:2) but He wants our prosperity and riches to be gained with integrity by righteous means. A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked. (Psalm 37:16) Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed. Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever. (Psalm 112:1-3)

He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch. (Proverbs 11:28)

To a prosperous life, Phil

7/17/2017

And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel. (Genesis 35:10)

There are many opinions and debates about Israel's place in history and also in the future. This is some of what I see in the Word of God concerning Israel and Israel's future.

God called a man named Abram, who was in a family of idol worshippers, to separate himself from his family and home and go to a place that God would choose. (Genesis 12:1) God also promised him a son in his and his wife's old age (Genesis 15:4). Abram obeyed. God later named Abram to Abraham and gave him a promise that he would be a father of many nations and through him all the families of the earth would be blessed through faith in his seed Jesus Christ. (Romans 4:13)(Galatians 3:16) He also promised Abraham and his descendants a certain area of land, part of which is currently the nation of Israel. Those of us who are in Christ are spiritual descendants of Abraham. (Galatians 3:29)

God miraculously provided a son named Isaac to Abraham and Sarah and then a grandson Jacob, whose name God changed to Israel. So, from the lineage of Abraham through Isaac and Israel (Jacob), our saviour Jesus Christ was brought into this world as the Son of God and the son of man. God chose Israel to present the salvation through Christ to the world but Israel as a nation rejected Christ.

There is a physical nation of Israel on this earth and there is also a heavenly or spiritual Israel. Spiritual Israel is illustrated as an olive tree which is currently the church with Christ as the root of the tree. (Romans 11:17-24) Because of unbelief, except for a remnant of Israelites, the nation of Israel continues to reject Christ. God therefore grafted the wild branch (Gentiles, non-Jews) into His olive tree but promised that the believers in Israel, the natural branches, will surely be rejoined to the tree. So, for now, the gospel is preached to the world mostly by the Gentiles, but God still intends for Israel to present Christ to the world - and they will do so. These verses also contain a warning to the Gentiles not to become haughty about assuming some of Israel's status.

If there is any doubt that Israel has a place in the future there is, along with many prophesies of God promising that Israel will be completely restored, the description of the new Jerusalem coming out of heaven onto this earth. (Revelation 3:12)(Revelation 21:2-3) Jesus will set up His headquarters in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, and eventually our Father will join Him and all nations will be coming to worship them.

Those who bless Israel will be blessed. Those who curse Israel will be cursed. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 12:3)

With much love, Phil

7/10/2017

...If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; (John 8:31)

In computer programming, when an "If" statement is used, then a "Then" or a "Then/Else" statement that directs the outcome always follows. The same concept of "If/Then/Else" is in the Word of God and applies to each of our lives. Here are some examples:

If we pray AND believe, then ALL things are possible. Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. (Mark 9:23)

If I am a man or woman of prayer, then I will have peace. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

If I am a man or woman of God, then I will not worry. (Luke 12:22-32)

If I am a man or woman of God, then I have the power and strength to resist temptation. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13) See also (Hebrews 4:15).

If I am a man or woman of God, then, then I am not bound to the past. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Under normal circumstances, a computer will always do exactly what it is told and you can count on the results. The "If/Then/Else" principles in the Bible are even more sure.

With much love, Phil


In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me.(Psalm 120:1)

Have you ever fallen into a situation where you were completely innocent in your heart of any wrongdoing but somehow you were unjustly blamed for the situation and there was no way to explain your side? I would guess that you have - and I know I have. What do we do as an alternative to holding onto anointing destroying hurt, resentment, unforgiveness and bitterness for being wronged?

The answer is easy and unfailingly effective, although the execution of the answer may not always be easy.

The first thing to do is to not receive the hurt feelings and forgive quickly (Mark 11:25). Let it go like water off of a duck's back.

Secondly, especially if you are struggling with hurt feelings or unforgiveness, take your case to the higher court, the court of the only truly righteous judge. O LORD, thou hast seen my wrong: judge thou my cause. (Lamentations 3:59) With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles...(2 Chronicles 32:8) Jesus was sent to heal the brokenhearted. (Luke 4:18) (See also Psalm 26:1-12) Exalt Him with praise, submit to Him in worship and enter into His courtroom in prayer and He will judge righteously and grant you His peace and comfort and show you what else, if anything, needs to be done.

Having peace and love in your heart during and after those situations is more important than other peoples' perceptions. If you are innocent and forgive, God will ALWAYS rule in your favor. If you share in the wrong, God will ALWAYS forgive. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31)

With much love, Phil


Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. (Rev 3:11)

As Christians, we are looking forward to Jesus Christ's return to this earth to set up His 1,000 year kingdom. Many have tried to figure out WHEN this will happen by analyzing celestial patterns, calendar events and other resources, including the Bible itself. In this day and age, any predictions of the date of His return invariably have been and will be wrong.

We can however, gather from the Word of God why Jesus is waiting to return. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9) If we read the entirety of 2 Peter 3:1-13, we can see that Peter is telling us clearly that Jesus is waiting for people to repent and turn to him. To God, bringing more souls into His family while there is still time is of utmost importance and supercedes any current earthly timeframe.

There is a future timeframe, although we don't know when it will begin, where a seven year countdown will start ticking. The last 3 1/2 years of that timeframe, called the great tribulation, will unleash a wrath of God and a wrath of satan that will be a sample of hell on this earth. (Read and understand the scriptures in (Revelation)(Daniel 9-12)(Zechariah)(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)(2 Thessalonians 2:1-12) and every other prophesy scattered through the Bible.) The underlying purpose of all of the judgements poured out on mankind is to get those sinners remaining on this earth to repent and receive Jesus before time runs out so they will not be judged to an everlasting hell. (Revelation 9:20-21) During that timeframe God provides 144,000 jewish servants (Revelation 7:1-8), two witnesses (Revelation 11:1-14) and even an angel (Revelation 14:6-7) to very visibly prophesy and preach the Word of God to the world and lead people to repentance. God, out of His love for mankind, is doing everything to get people to repent.

Let us pray that our priorities and urgencies match God's priorities and urgencies. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. (Revelation 3:19)

With much love, Phil

6/19/2017

...in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Psalm 16:11)

Joy is a delight of the mind from the consideration of the present or an anticipated future. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and is a companion of righteousness and peace in the kingdom of God. (Romans 14:17) True joy can only be achieved and maintained through faith in the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and dwelling in the Lord's presence. (Psalm 35:9) Jesus Himself endured the cross because of the joy that was set before Him. (Hebrews 12:2) His desire for us and our right is for our joy may be full by abiding in Him and His love. (John 15:10-11)

As Christians, we are equipped to bring joy to others, even to our bosses and overseers and even when performing unpleasant or mundane tasks. (Hebrews 13:17)

If we are without joy, then our fellowship with the Lord has been damaged or broken, but with repentance our joy is restored. (Psalm 30:5, 51:12)

When I am struggling to be joyful, my favorite scripture is This is the day which the LORD hath made; we [I] will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)

Whenever we go through hard times, or whenever we go through great times, it is important for us to keep our joy level higher than our problems level, our pride level and our euphoria level. The joy of the Lord is our strength! (Nehemiah 8:10)

With much love, Phil

6/12/2017

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

Many scriptures in the Bible exhort us as Christians to perform good works. (Ephesians 2:10)(2 Timothy 3:17)(Titus 3:8)(Hebrews 10:24) We who understand the Bible also know that good works will not get us into heaven. In fact, Isaiah 64:6 tells us that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Only through faith in Jesus Christ will we get to heaven. So, why then, is it so important that we go out of our way to do good works according to our ability, such as helping the poor, visiting those in prison, being kind to neighbors, sending notes of encouragement, defending the defenselessness, publicly standing for righteousness and so on? The short, obvious answer is it helps other people and we store up treasures in heaven.

Along with the title scripture above, (1 Peter 2:11-12) gives us a another very good reason for us to do good works. They glorify God in the sight of others. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Unless we spend all of our Christian lives hiding under a bushel basket, people are watching us, especially our unsaved friends and acquaintances and people we witness to. Some are wanting to see us stumble so they can justify themselves. If we keep ourselves above reproach (and repent quickly) through good times and bad, times of strength and times of weakness and are motivated by love, we glorify God before others and some will be drawn to Jesus Christ by observing our behavior. Also, no one can build a valid case against us and against our Lord.

Lord, help us to consistently manifest good works before You and others so that You will be glorified in their sight.

With much love, Phil


Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. (Mar 11:24)

One Sunday, when Janice and I were driving the church van picking up children in the community, one father came out to meet us. He needed prayer. While praying, I received a vision of a wall made of plexiglass standing between me and the man I was praying for. Even as I was praying the Holy Spirit urged me to speak to the wall of unbelief and command it to be removed, an urging which I obeyed. It was then that I realized that a tiny seed of doubt that the Lord was going to answer my prayers had sprouted up in me.

Not only had the Lord had given me a major course correction, He showed me the key to dealing with unbelief of any measure, whether it is by by the prayor, the prayee or the attendees. When I spoke against that wall of unbelief, the plexiglass wall vanished! Until then, my prayers were bouncing off that wall.

Praying with doubt that our prayers will get results, or praying with the belief that our prayers are of little power or significance in God's eyes is actually an affront to God's Word. In Matthew 17:14-21, Jesus rebuked His disciples for their unbelief in not being able to cast a devil out of a man's son. In Luke 8:49-56, Jesus made unbelievers leave the house of a man's dead daughter while He spoke her back to life. Likewise, Peter, at a house in the city of Joppa, had to put out the unbelievers before he spoke Tabitha back to life and subsequently showed her to the others and many believed. (Acts 9:36-42)

It only takes faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains by prayer. It also takes just a little leaven of unbelief for the mountain not to move. Seeds of unbelief are sowed by the enemy and the wall of unbelief is built by lettings those seeds sprout. Tear down the wall of unbelief with your words and let faith work for you.

With much love, Phil

5/29/2017

For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar;...(Rom 3:3-4)

A multitude of unsaved people on this earth have never read the Bible or have read the Bible and heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ but do not believe what it says. There are also many Christians who pick and choose what they want to believe about what God is saying to us and how it fits into their doctrine. Even if someone, anyone or everyone disbelieves the Word of God and regardless of what WE say and how we reason it out, God's Word is still true! God does not change with passing generations or with the changing of society. God does NOT say "Oh, it has been 2,000 years since My Word was written, we better update it to make it more in line with contemporary thinking." (Hebrews 13:8)(Matthew 24:35) As ridiculous as that sounds, many people believe the Bible is outdated.

One of our responsibilities as Christians is to study the Bible and understand the character of God. (2 Timothy 2:15) We need to view each verse and word in the Bible as a piece of a giant picture of truth that God has sliced up into tiny pieces. The analogy can be made to a large jigsaw puzzle, that when most of the puzzle pieces are in place, allows us to realize a more complete picture of what the artist has provided for us.

If we say: "It's impossible.", God says "All things are possible." (Luke 18:27)
If we say "I'm too tired.", God says "I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28-30)
If we say "No one loves me.", God says "I love you and I command others to love you.." (John 3:16)(John 15:12)
If we say "I can't go on.", God says My grace is sufficient for you. (2 Corinthians 12:9)(Psalm 91:15)
If we say "I can't figure it out.", God says "Trust in Me. I will direct your steps." (Proverbs 3:5-6)
If we say "I can't do it.", God says "I am able, and you are too." (2 Corinthians 9:8)
If we say "Nothing good is happening to me.", God says "All things work together for your good." (Romans 8:28)
If we say "I can't forgive myself.", God says, "I forgive you. You also need to forgive." (1 john 1:9)(Romans 8:1)
If we say "I can't manage.", God says "I will supply all of your need." (Philippians 4:19)
If we say "I'm afraid.", God says "Fear not. I have not given you a spirit of fear." (Luke 12:7)(2 Timothy 1:7)
If we say "I'm always worried and frustrated.", God says "Cast all your cares on me because I care for you." (1 Peter 5:7)
If we say "I'm not smart enough.", God says "I give you wisdom, knowledge and understanding." "I am your wisdom." (Proverbs 2:6)(Colossians 2:3)
If we say "I feel all alone.", God says "I will never leave you or forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)
If we say "There are many ways to God.", God says "I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me." (John 14:6)

So, if our word and beliefs differ from God's Word and His promises, who is right? God - every time. Believe Him!

With much love, Phil

5/22/2017

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

The Bible recognizes five types or categories of giving. They are:

  • Tithes. The 10% of one's monetary increase or time given to the Lord for the support of those dedicated to preaching and teaching the Gospel and for buildings to assemble in. Although tithing was required by the law given to Israel through Moses, many in the church believe the tithe remains today as a principle established by God and that it is the minimum that should be given to the Lord by a Christian.
  • Offerings. Items of value voluntarily given with a pure heart to the Lord. An offering can also include prayer or praise and thanksgiving unto the Lord.
  • Alms. Any charitable gift (compassion, money, food, clothing, ...) to relieve the poor or to help someone in need. Alms should be given without unnecessary fanfare. (Matthew 6:1-2).
  • Gifts. A present or anything bestowed without compensation from us to another, or from God to us.
  • Bribes. A price, reward, gift or favor bestowed or promised with a view to pervert justice, truth or rectitude.

We reap rewards from the Lord for all types of giving. There is even a negative reward for bribes. (Job 15:34)

A woman disciple named Tabitha, AKA Dorcas, who was known for the good works and almsdeeds which she did, got sick and died. The disciples knew that Peter was near the city and sent for him. When Peter came the widows mourning for Dorcas showed him the coats and garments that she had made for others. Peter prayed and spoke Tabitha back to life. Her almsgiving was in part responsible for the salvation of many in the citty of Joppa. (Acts 9:36-42)

A Gentile centurian named Cornelius also received special favor from God because he loved Israel, prayed always and gave alms. He and his household became the first Gentiles to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the baptism of the Holy Spirit and become part of the church. (Acts 10:1-48)

With much love, Phil


[That you might be] Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; (Colossians 1:10-11)

The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible makes a distinction between patience and longsuffering. Here is the difference between the two words:

Patience is the perseverance through afflictions, pain, toil, calamity or other evil, knowing that there is justice and an expected good at the end of the suffering. Patience is the endurance of difficult circumstances.(1) Patience is needed in travelling through wearisome seasons in life, waiting in lines, traffic or for our glory in heaven. Patience will especially be needed by Christians who may live on this earth during the great tribulation.

Longsuffering is the enduring and unfailing love we display to others who are wittingly or unwittingly attempting to irritate or provoke us or are otherwise causing problems for us. Longsuffering is the endurance of people.(2) Longsuffering is needed in raising children, navigating through a successful marriage and dealing with difficult co-workers and selfish, demanding or boring people.

Patience and longsuffering are sometimes used interchangably, as are other Godly character attributes, but there is a general distinction in the application of the two words. Our Father, Jesus Christ (The Word of God) and the Holy Spirit work together to supply all the tools and information we need to practice patience and longsuffering through every situation.

Keep on truckin with perseverence, Phil

(1) Romans 5:3-4  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
2 Corinthians 6:4  But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
2 Thessalonians 1:4  So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
Hebrews 6:12  That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Revelation 14:12  Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

(2) Psalm 86:15  But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
Galatians 5:22-23  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Ephesians 4:2-3  With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Colossians 3:12  Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
2 Peter 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

5/8/2017

...Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. (Isaiah 28:16)

All of my life, up to the age of 33, was spent pursuing the wrong things, and my life was a mess. I had been in church for more than half of those years, but I had never received received salvation through the Rock, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 10:4)

In Kenya, where our Children's Home, Haven on the Hill, is located, the walls of some modern houses are made of stone. To start, a trench is dug in the soil for every wall that will be in the house and a foundation consisting of quarry stones is laid, each stone fitted and mortared together with the others. The first stone of the foundation is strategically placed at one corner of the building, and the entire foundation is built and squared around that corner stone. Once the foundation has been layed, the stone walls, also aligned with the corner stone, are fitted together.

In God's house, The corner stone is Jesus Christ, built on a Rock, which is also Jesus Christ. Christ is building his church upon that Rock (Matthew 16:18), the foundation was laid by the apostles and receivers of Jesus Christ are part of the church, the household of God. (Ephesians 2:19-22) We Christians are living stones fitted together in the walls of His house. (1 Peter 2:5) Each of us has a unique function in building the church. And His house is forever!

Luke 6:49 describes the man I was before I stopped running from God. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. My spiritual house was falling.

After I received Jesus Christ, I am described in Luke 6:47-48: Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. My spiritual house is solid.

Trying to live a good life and get to heaven without Jesus Christ is futile. I urge you to build your house upon the Rock.

With much love, Phil


But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. (Luke 6:35)

We all have enemies of some sort. The best enemy to have is the one who hates you simply because you are a child of God. The worst enemy to have is one you yourself have chosen to be your enemy for personal reasons. The former gives you the upper hand because they have chosen you as their enemy, and God is on your side. The latter puts you at a disadvantage in that you have some spiritual and soulish issues to work out between you and the Lord before you can deal righteously with your enemy.

Regardless of how or why we became enemies (political or religious opponents, racism, spiritual opponents, jealously, unforgiveness over past wrongs, etc.), We are commanded by God to walk in love toward them. Loving our enemies requires strategy focused on three things, (1) bringing them (and ourselves) to repentance by prayer for them and/or personal interaction with them, (Matthew 5:44)(Luke 6:27-36) (2) building character and patience in us and (3) reaping a reward from the Lord.

We need to love our enemies because our Father loves them. (Luke 6:35) See also Romans 5:3-5. We need to remember that we were once enemies with God before we accepted Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:10) We must also remember that Christ is going to deal with His enemies (1 Corinthians 15:25) and that if our ways please the Lord, He will cause our enemies to be at peace with us. (Proverbs 16:7)

With much love, Phil

4/24/2017

...He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? (John 21:17)

Simon, who Jesus surnamed Peter, was called of God to do great things for His kingdom. God had gifted Peter with leadership ability and he possessed a zeal to lead in serving God. Interestingly, in notable events in Peter's life, God communicated messages to and solicted responses from Peter in patterns of threes.

Peter, along with James and John, was one of three disciples that were in the Jesus' inner circle. He had priviledged witness to major events in Jesus' ministry.

In the garden of Gethsemane, just before He was arrested, Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him and and admonished them to watch and pray while He himself prayed. Three times he found them sleeping and woke them up. He singled out Peter as the one who most needed to watch and pray. (Matthew 26:36-46)(Mark 14:32-42)

A little later, when Jesus was being interrogated by Caiaphas, the high priest, Peter denied three times that He knew Jesus. (Matthew 26:69-75)(Mark 14:66-72)(Luke 22:54-62). This threefold denial was prophesied by Jesus earlier that night and Jesus told Peter that He had prayed that his faith would not fail. (Luke 22:31-34)

When Jesus raised from the dead after His crucifixion, on the third time that He appeared to his disciples, (John 21:14) Jesus asked Peter three times, "Do you love me?" (John 21:15-19) Peter affirmed his love for Jesus each time, once for each of the three times that he had denied Him. This exchange restored Peter. Jesus told Peter three times to "Feed my lambs/sheep" and prophesied the type of death that Peter would suffer for serving Him. (John 21:18-19)

God used Peter to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles, starting with Cornelius and his house, after He showed Peter a vision of a sheet full of unclean animals coming out of heaven. This vision was shown to Peter three times. (Acts 10:9-17)

Peter was instrumental in first ministering the baptism of the Holy Spirit and establishing the church to three groups of people, Jews, (Jerusalem/Judaea) (Acts 2:1-41), Samaritans, (Acts 8:14-17) and Gentiles (Acts 10:1-48), in accordance with the directive that Jesus gave His disciples just before He ascended to heaven. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

The Lord had tasked Peter with a big job to do as a leader in building the church and satan tried to destroy him and stop the work before he could get to it. However, Jesus interceded for him before his fail and restored him after his fail. Jesus still intercedes for us (Hebrews 7:25) and restores us today. If God is for us, who can be against us! (Romans 8:31)

With much love, Phil


And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. (1 Corinthians 11:24)

When I was growing up as a Roman Catholic and was attending a Roman Catholic primary school, we were taught to fast a short period before attending the church service and to examine our conscience before partaking of communion, the Lord's supper. That teaching planted a seed in me, and in my older years I have been striving to have a greater understanding of the significance of partaking in the Lord's supper.

In 2 Corinthians 11:17-34(1) Paul ministers correction to the Church of Corinth for partaking in communion unworthily and for not discerning the the Lord's body. By "unWORTHily", Paul is referring to many in the church who viewed the Lord's supper as little or no worth to them. Some who gathered with the church even disregarded and refused to receive the two greatest gifts that the Father gave to us through Jesus Christ, His body and His blood.

On the night before He died, after His passover supper, Jesus, the Bread of life (John 6:51, 6:33-35), took bread, broke and blessed it gave it to the disciples and instructed the to eat and do it in remembrance of Him. (Matthew 26:26)(Mark 14:22)(Luke 22:19)(1 Corinthians 11:24) Christ broke the bread which represented His body and distributed it out. His body is still being distributed to His church and Jesus admonished us to remember that and capitalize on it. As Jesus once distributed a few loaves of bread to 5,000 and then to 4,000 men and there was plenty left over, there is enough of His body for every single believer in the church-and plenty left over. In John 6:51, Jesus said "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." The life that Jesus speaks of is not only eternal life in the world to come, but abundant life in this life. (John 10:10)

Jesus then took the cup of wine, gave thanks and gave it to the disciples told them to drink. The wine represents Jesus' blood which He shed as part of a new covenant for the permanent forgiveness, discharge and pardon of our sins. (Matthew 26:28)(Colossians 1:14)

So, when we who are saved partake of and share the Lord's supper, (If you are unsaved, do not do it (1 Corinthians 11:29)) the more accurately we discern the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:29) and the more WORTH we place on the gifts that the Father and Jesus gave to us through His body and His blood and the more value we receive from those gifts, the more abundant our life will be. Our lives can range from barely making it through life to being consistently full of the fruit of the Spirit and prepared for any situation that we are faced with. Our lives can range from struggling against sin to being at rest and totally sin, guilt and iniquity free. God has provided more than enough for us to have the most abundant lives. To what degree we receive that provision is up to us.

With much love, Phil

(1) 1 Corinthians 11:17-34  Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.  (18)  For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.  (19)  For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.  (20)  When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.  (21)  For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.  (22)  What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.  (23)  For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:  (24)  And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.   (25)  After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.  (26)  For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.  (27)  Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.   (28)  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.  (29)  For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.  (30)  For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.  (31)  For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.  (32)  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.  (33)  Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.  (34)  And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

In God's view, there are three classes of people in this world, the wise, the fools and those who are wise but act like fools.

The wise: We must understand first that wisdom is one of God's attributes and Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:24)(Proverbs 8:1-9:18)(1 Corinthians 1:24)(1 Corinthians 2:7-8) (Isaiah 11:1-2)(Ephesians 3:10-11)(Colossians 2:2-3) When we believe on and receive Christ in our hearts we also receive God's attribute of wisdom and are considered wise in God's eyes. (1 Corinthians 1:30)(Proverbs 13:20)(1 Corinthians 3:18)(Proverbs 9:10)(Proverbs 15:24)(Daniel 12:3)(Matthew 24:45-51)

The fools: We must also understand that satan is the ultimate fool. He traded in his God given wisdom for foolishness because of pride. (Ezekiel 28:12-15)(Isaiah 14:12-15) He presented his folly to Eve, and then to Adam, and convinced them that his perverted wisdom was to be desired above what God had provided for them. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Gen 3:6) Thus, the wisdom of the world was authored.

So now we have two opposite viewpoints, the wisdom of God manifested in the wisdom of the wise who are in Christ, and the wisdom of the world manifested in the foolishness of those who have rejected Christ. The fools view the wisdom of God as foolishness, while God clearly knows those who embrace the wisdom of the world as fools. (1 Corinthians 3:18-20)(1 Corinthians 1:19-20)(Psalm 14:1)(Luke 24:25) (1 Corinthians 2:14)(1 Corinthians 1:23)(Jeremiah 4:22)(Jeremiah 5:4)(Proverbs 24:9)(Matthew 7:24-27) (Read also the parables which Jesus taught) In general, the fools ridicule and persecute the wise and call them foolish and the wise recognize the foolish as fools and have compassion on them. God has compassion on both sides but judges each side differently.

The third class of people is the wise who have received Christ, but still live and act like the fools to some degree. They have temporarily lapsed into choosing to walk outside the character of Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 5:1)(Ephesians 5:15-18)(1 Thessalonians 4:4-7)(2 Thessalonians 3:6)(2 Thessalonians 3:14-15) The scriptures call us to attempt to restore these wayward souls.(James 5:20)

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. (Proverbs 11:30)

With much love, Phil


But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? (Luke 10:29)

There is a well known scene in the Bible about a lawyer who approached Jesus and asked Him "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus began the following dialog with the man:
And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?  (26)  He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? (27)  And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.  (28)  And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. (29) But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? (30) And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.  (31)  And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. (32) And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.  (33)  But a certain Samaritan , as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,  (34)  And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. (35) And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. (36) Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?  (37)  And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. (Luke 10:25-37)

The lawyer was tempting Jesus and was trying to justify himself, even though he did not have love in his heart for certain people. Jesus used the story about the Jewish man who embarked on a journey from Jerusalem to Jericho and was ambushed by thieves/murderers who left him half dead. A priest and then a Levite passed by and each were too self occupied to help the man. They even crossed to the other side of the path to avoid him. But a Samaritan (a people whom the jews hated) had compassion for the striken man, treated his wounds and paid for his recovery. Jesus answered the question of "who is my neighbor?" and gave the lawyer his salvation marching orders.

On my recent airplane trip home from Kenya, the Lord brought clearly into my remembrance who my neighbor is. Yes, a neighbor is one who LIVES near us but, as in the story above, a neighbor is also one who IS CURRENTLY near us. Our neighbors are the ones sitting in the seats next to us and the ones in the aisle walking past us on the plane. Our neighbors are the ones standing in the line with us waiting for something, or the one who arrives at a door at the same time as us or the ones who are in close proximity to us on a busy freeway. Even the beggar who stands at an intersection is our neighbor while we are also in the intersection. God places neighbors in our path. Whether we love those neighbors or not during those brief times of opportunity will be reflected in our thoughts, our compassions and our behaviour toward them.

I thanked the Lord for bringing this important reminder to me and immediately began putting the law of love into action. I took extra care to not spill my elbow over into the seat of the person next to me. I took care when leaning my seat back. I looked for those who needed help removing their carry-on articles from the overhead bin. I lowered my level of selfishness when deplaning. I strove to be more courteous to the security and Customs agents. These are things that one who loves his/her neighbors should always do.

Did the Holy Spirit quicken this into me just so I could write it down for others? I don't think so. I obviously needed to increase my compassion for those whom I don't necessarily know but who nevertheless cross my path. If this helps anyone else then I consider it a bonus.

With much love, Phil


For many are called, but few are chosen. (Mat 22:14)

Every individual person has a basic calling to receive Jesus Christ and join the kingdom of God. A calling is not a command, but an invitation - an invitation from our loving Father through Jesus to share eternity with Him. We, as individuals, have an absolute choice to accept or decline that invitation and the many temporal and eternal blessings offered to us. (Matthew 22:1-10) If we accept the invitation, then we are chosen.

There is also a higher purpose that God calls (invites) us to, and that is to the work that He has for us to do. Think of it. The God who made heaven and earth invites each of us to not only be His child, but also to go to work for Him. That is the ultimate job offer!

An example of a person being personally called (invited) by Jesus is found in three of the four Gospel books. (Matthew 19:16-29)(Mark 10:17-30)(Luke 18:18-30) As Jesus was going along the way, a man whom the Gospel accounts say is rich, young and is a ruler of some sort, runs up to Jesus, kneels before Him and asks Him "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus responds that he must keep the commandments, don't commit adultery, kill, steal, lie about others or defraud. He must honor his parents and love his neighbor as himself. The ruler apparently was a nice guy because he responded that he had kept all those from his youth. He then asked "What am I still lacking?" Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, "One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me." (Mark 10:21) The ruler went away sorrowful because he had great possessions. (Matthew 19:22)

As the ruler went, Jesus told His disciples "Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:23-24) Wait a minute! Does God place a requirement on people NOT to be rich in order to get saved? His disciples were also amazed. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:25-26)

Let me be clear. There are many rich people in heaven and heading to heaven. Wealth is relative. In fact, God desires that everything we set our hands to do will prosper. The kingdom of God needs rich people to help fund those that spread the Gospel. The key to understanding Jesus' comment about the camel and the needle is in knowing that, just as it is impossible for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle, it is impossible for man to save himself. Only by TRUSTING in God through Jesus Christ can man be saved. The key issue here is TRUST. The ruler had accomplished much by the world's standards but he was poor in God's eyes because he TRUSTED in riches. He did not trust God to do without his worldly riches and Jesus knew it. Being a nice, rich guy won't get someone into heaven. He chose his possessions over salvation. The sad part is that God would have paid him back many times over.

Jesus had not only called the ruler to repent and have saving faith, but He also called (invited) him to a special calling, and that is to literally follow Jesus. "... and come, take up the cross, and follow me." (Mark 10:21) Jesus was inviting the ruler to accompany Him, along with his disciples, on His journey. He was invited to spend life on the road with the Saviour of the world but he could not travel with all the possessions that were holding him back. Jesus and his company traveled light. The ruler was grieved and declined the invitations to salvation and also to great works and heavenly wealth - at least at that time. He did not have faith to be saved. His riches were his god. How sad!

As the ruler went on his way, having chosen grief and sorrow over the joy of salvation and serving the Lord, Jesus went on to confirm with Peter and those following Him that they would indeed be richly rewarded in this life and the life to come for trusting Him and accepting His callings. (Matthew 19:27-29)(Mark 10:28-30) (Luke 18:28-30)

How many of us have declined invitations from God because we did not trust Him? Many more than God would prefer.

With much love, Phil

3/20/2017

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:1)

God has assured us that, as long as this present earth remains, there will always be a day and a night. (Genesis 8:20) He has given us an equal assurance that every day is a new day. Throughout the Bible, Jesus is referred to as the symbol of a new day. He is the Sun of righteousness, (Malachi 4:2) the dayspring from on high (Luke 1:78), the bright and morning star (Revelation 22:16) and the day star. (2 Peter 1:19) He lit up the world and us! (John 1:9) There are many other referrences to Jesus being and bringing in a new day, too many to go into here in this short space.

The point is that Jesus provides each new day as an opportunity for a new start. (Lamentations 3:22-23) If we have had what we consider a great day, we can humble ourselves and rest up for another possibly greater day. If we have had a lousy day we have the opportunity to shake off our anger, (Ephesians 4:26) trade in our pride, forgive, repent, encourage ourselves and each other and generally set the stage for receiving grace for a new, fresh day (1 Thessalonians 5:5) and be ready to shine our light in the darkness. (Matthew 5:14)

Remember, our worst day with Christ is much better than a best day without Christ. Each day with Jesus is truly a new day!

For Jesus, Phil


For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:21)

There are many ways in this world to invest; stocks, mutual funds, real estate, businesses, and so on. We all need to invest time and efforts into worldly things in order to live. However, there is an infinitely better investment available to us than any of the worlds offerings, and here is why:

First of all, everything good that we have and can have on this earth comes from our Father in heaven, even to those who don't believe in God. (James 1:17)(Deuteronomy 28:12) (Matthew 5:45)(James 3:17) That is because God loves even those who don't love Him.

On top of the basic goodness that God supplies to everyone, when we receive Jesus Christ, we activate a pre-approved rewards account in heaven. It is our savings AND our checking account. It pays very high returns and it is 100% secure. (Matthew 6:20) We can make deposits to and withdrawals from the account at any time.

We make deposits to our checking and savings treasure account by studying the Bible, (John 5:39) by loving God and others, by putting priority on heavenly things over earthly things, (Colossians 3:2) by exercising faith, (Hebrews 11:6) by obeying the Holy Spirit and serving Jesus (Mark 10:21) and by being faithful. (1 Corinthians 4:2)

Not surprisingly, we earn withdrawals from our heavenly checking account, without any concern about overdrafts, by doing the same things, because whatever we sow into heaven, we also reap from heaven. (Mark 10:28-30)(Philippians 4:17-19)(Proverbs 19:17)(Luke 6:35)(Hebrews 11:24-26)(Luke 19:17)(Galatians 6:7-10)

Jesus Himself will bring the contents of our savings account (with much interest) with Him at the end of this age when we are resurrected. (Matthew 16:27)(Revelation 22:12) (2 John 1:8)(1 Corinthians 3:11-15)

Storing up treasures in heaven is an absolutely safe and extremely rewarding eternal investment. Whatever we send up to heaven comes back down to us in greater measure.

Best of success in your ventures, Phil

3/6/2017

And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. (Mark 1:35)

We know the great works that Jesus did and the great legacy of His kingdom that he brought to earth and left with us, but do we know how much Jesus depended on prayer? Here are some examples of what Jesus (and His disciples) accomplished through prayer. Those same powerful heavenly forces are also available to us if and when we pray.

  • Jesus fasted (and prayed) in the wilderness 40 days after his baptism and just before His ministry ramped up. (Luke 4:1-15)
  • To beat the crowd, Jesus got up early in the morning and went out alone so He could pray, even after working late healing people the night before. (Mark 1:32-35)
  • Jesus prayed all night before selecting His twelve apostles. (Luke 6:12-13)
  • Jesus laid his hands on and prayed for little children. (Matthew 19:13-15)
  • Jesus prayed before feeding the 5,000 people in the desert. (Matthew 14:19-22) And after feeding the 5,000 He prayed again before walking on water. (Matthew 14:23-25)
  • Jesus prayed before He gave us the model for praying, known as the Lord's Prayer. (Luke 11:1-4)
  • Jesus shone in glory and was joined by Moses and Elijah while praying. (Luke 9:28-31)
  • Nothing stopped Jesus from praying – even if he had to go to the wilderness to be alone. (Luke 5:15-16)
  • Jesus, knowing in advance that Peter was going to deny Him, prayed for him that his faith would not fail afterward. (Luke 22:31-32)
  • Jesus, knowing the suffering and abandonment that awaited Him, prayed before being taken to the cross, and an angel strengthened Him. (Matthew 26:36) (Luke 22:42-44)
  • Jesus did NOT pray to be rescued from His assignment of the cross by angels. (Matthew 26:53-54)
  • Jesus prayed for our forgiveness while being crucified. (Luke 23:33-34)
  • Jesus prayed when He finished His work on the cross. (John 19:30)(Luke 23:46)
  • Jesus prayed for the church so that the world may know Him. (John 17:1-26)
  • Jesus commanded that WE forgive while praying, or else we will not be forgiven. (Mark 11:25-26)
  • Jesus told us always to pray. (Luke 18:1-8)
  • Jesus gave us authority to pray directly to Father in His name. (John 16:23-28)
  • Jesus, even now, sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)(Hebrews 7:25)
  • Jesus asked the Father to give us the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17) and commissioned Him to also intercede for us. (Romans 8:26-28)
  • When we pray the Father’s will, we have Christ and the Holy Spirit teaming with us. (1 Thessalonians 5:17-19)
  • We are God’s prayer vehicles on earth. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Enough said for now, huh?

To our prayer life, Phil

2/27/2017

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (1 Corinthians 16:23)

What is grace? Here are some very good definitions:

  • Grace is unmerited favor.
  • Grace is not getting what we deserve.
  • Grace is anything this side of hell.
  • Grace is the application of Christ's righteousness to the sinner.
  • Grace is anything that comes from God to us through Jesus Christ.
  • Grace is God's overwhelming desire to treat us as if we have never sinned.
  • Grace is God's unlimited supply of whatever we need to fulfill His purpose for our lives.

John Newton, the writer of the song "Amazing Grace" was in awe of the grace that God extended to him, a sinner. He would never have written that powerful song if he would not have received by faith the grace of salvation that God extended to him through Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8) He would have missed out on heaven and being a blessing to us, and we would not be enjoying the blessing of his great piece of work and of his testimony.

As wonderful as that salvation grace is which was extended by God to Mr. Newton, and to all of us (Ephesians 4:7), we need His grace every bit as much after our salvation as we did before. The apostle Paul learned that lesson during a season of weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) In fact, as we go through our christian life becoming more and more mature, we need more grace (2 Corinthians 8:7)(2 Timothy 2:1) and to show more grace to others. (2 Peter 3:18)(Colossians 4:6) We also need to not use grace, which wipes out our sins (Ephesians 1:7), as a license to sin. (Romans 6:14-15) We need grace to resist sin. (James 4:6-7)

No matter what our calling is, working a job, raising children, preaching the Gospel, going through a sickness, we need God's grace to do it. The great part about grace is that we have access instantly to as much of it as we need or want, any time that we ask, and we can ask for it with boldness. (Hebrews 4:16)

Growing in grace, Phil

2/20/2017

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

Most of us have heard the phrase "No one is perfect" and many of the people who use this phrase are christians. Even though this phrase is comforting and we can depend on God's forgiveness, it is possible, and it is God's will, for us to be perfect. (Deuteronomy 18:13)(Matthew 5:46-48) Being perfect is being like Jesus. (Luke 6:40)(Colossians 1:27-28)(Hebrews 13:20-21)

The formula for becoming perfect in this life is simple, walk in perfect faith and perfect love. Faith and love are the base ingredients of our righteousness. (Ephesians 6:14)(1 Thessalonians 5:8) When we receive the free gift of salvalvation through Jesus Christ, we exercise a measure of love for God and a measure of faith in God. That is the beginning of our walk with the Lord. From that point God provides us with the grace to grow to be more like Christ as we walk. (2 Samuel 22:33)(1 Peter 2:2)(2 Peter 3:18)

An example of perfect faith is Abraham. Abraham did not start out with perfect faith. He became righteous by believing God by faith (Romans 4:3)(Galatians 3:6)(Hebrews 11:8) and eventually became perfect in faith to the point where he was ready to sacrifice his son Isaac when tested by God. (James 2:21-22)(Hebrews 11:17) In between those two points there were some bumps in the road, (Ishmael, lying about Sarah's relationship to him) but he got there.

The love of God is perfect. God is love. (1 John 4:16) Therefore those who love God and follow Jesus can walk in perfect love. (1 John 2:5-6)(1 John 4:16-17) If we grow to love God and love one another consistently then God's love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:12) You may have noticed that most of the scriptures on love presented here are written by John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. (John 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, 21:20) John had a special relationship with Jesus and a special revelation of the love of God. The Holy Spirit gave him the grace to explain His love so that we can understand it and walk in it. John's love of God and love for others was perfect.

So, how do we grow up to be perfect? By practicing and pursuing faith and love and staying away from sin. (2 Timothy 2:22)(1 Corinthians 16:14) By practicing speaking and acting in faith and love in every situation, no matter how strong the temptation is to erupt in anger and unbelief. By knowing and standing on God's word in the face of adversity. By repenting and making reparations quickly when we do fall short, and keeping moving toward perfection. By removing the limits to our faith and love. By loving even our enemies and people we don't like. By refusing to gossip or speak contrary to the Word of God. By being consistent and unwavering in our quest to grow in faith and love, developing a habit of doing, and developing the habit into a lifestyle.

The more and higher we walk in faith and love, the greater the rewards.

To our perfection, Phil


Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:10-11)

In (1 Samuel 17:1-52), the nation of Israel was facing a crisis in that the Philistine army was faced off against the army of Israel. Their giant champion Goliath was challenging Israel day after day to send out someone to fight him one-on-one. Israel was paralized with fright - until after 40 days when a lad named David showed up.

David was sent by his father Jesse to check on his brothers, who were part of Israel's army, and take some food to them and to the captain of the army. David surveyed the situation and then voluntered to fight the Philistine. Goliath was more than 9 feet tall and was heavily armoured with helmet, mail, brass and spear. He even had a shield bearer to stand in front of him. He was frightening to look on to everyone but David. King Saul ordered his own armour placed on David but David's response was "I cannot go with these for I have not proved them." He did, however, carry a sling, five stones, experience in previously killing a lion and a bear and an unshakable confidence in his own armour, the Lord of hosts. Goliath wore the armour of the world. David wore the armour of God.

Well, one stone fired from David's sling sunk into Goliath's head and put him down and David ran to him and cut off his head with the giant's own sword. The armour of God defeated the armour of the world! This same spiritual armour, also called the armour of light (Romans 13:12) and the armour of righteousness, (2 Corinthians 6:7) is available to every believer. It was used by Jesus Christ to resist the devil during 40 days of fasting in the wilderness, (Matthew 4:1-11) and by many other men and women of God to this day and beyond.

The armour of God lists seven critical components; (Ephesians 6:10-18)

  1. The girt (belt) of truth (Eph 6:14)
  2. The breastplate of righteousness (Eph 6:14) (which is faith and love (1 Thes 5:8))
  3. The shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace. (Eph 6:15)
  4. The shield of faith. (Eph 6:16)
  5. The helmet of salvation. (Eph 6:17)
  6. The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.(Eph 6:17)
  7. Praying and watching. (Eph 6:18)
The components of our armour are closely linked, interconnected and overlap each other. The helmet is connected to the breastplate. (Rom 10:10)(Isa 61:10) The breastplate, sword and shoes are connected to the shield. (1 Thes 5:8)(Rom 3:22)(Rom 10:8)(Luke 7:50) The breastplate is connected to the sword (Rom 10:17) The sword, belt, shoes and helmet are connected together. (Eph 1:13) (Col 1:5)(James 1:18)(Psalm 85:10) We put on the armour of God, ensure that all the pieces stay in place and stay aware of our situations by praying and watching for ourselves and for one another. (Matthew 26:41)(Mark 13:33, 14:38) (Luke 21:36)(Eph 6:18)(Jude 1:20). You get the picture.

Without keeping our spiritual eyes open and praying about all things, our armour could find itself lying dormat in a corner of our heart instead of where it belongs at time when we really need it. We might not have the words of salvation to share with a lost acquaintance or a powerful, faith filled and compassionate prayer for someone in need of a miracle, or or we might forget that we are ambassadors for Christ and act on the contrary, or we might not have the will to resist a moment of temptation, or we might forget to use scripture to extinguish a move against us by the devil, or we might be paralyzed by fear and back away from our calling, or we might not even know if we are sliding backward.

Unlike the armour of Goliath or all of the armour technology of the world's armies, God's armour has no weak spots or unprotected areas. When God's armour is in place and put to use, we are spiritually invincible and cannot be defeated!

To your protection and victory, Phil

2/6/2017

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. (Revelation 20:14)

My friends, we all have friends, aquaintances and even family members who, unless they repent and turn to Jesus Christ, have a very bleak future ahead of them. That future culminates in what the Bible refers to as the second death.

At the very moment that we are old enough to know the difference between good and evil and sin against God, we chart our own course away from God's will for us and towards an eternity of torment in a place called hell. The only way to avoid this indescribably horrible destiny is to accept the free gift of eternal life that the Father offers us through his Son Jesus Christ. (Matthew 25:46)(John 17:3) (Romans 5:21) Does receiving eteneral life mean that we never die? In an eternal sense, the answer is yes, we will live forever. Most of us will experience a physical death, which for believers is falling asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:6)(Acts 7:60) Others will be caught up alive and will meet the Lord in the air to join other previously asleep, resurrected believers. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) The resurrection of the believers in Christ is known as the first resurrection, and we will live on earth forever with the Lord, (Revelation 20:5-6) rewarded for accepting eternal life (John 3:16) and for what we have done for Christ and His kingdom. (1 Corinthians 3:8-15)(Revelation 22:12) We will have new bodies. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44) We will not experience the second death. (Revelation 20:6, 21:8)

The second death occurs after the 1,000 reign of Christ's kingdom on this earth after satan is released briefly from his prison and leads many people in one more rebellion against God. (Revelation 20:7-9) That does not end well for satan as he is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, (Revelation 20:10) located in the outer darkness. (Matthew 25:30) It also does not end well for those who have rejected Jesus Christ as they are resurrected from hell and the grave to stand before God in judgement and then are also cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15)(Luke 12:4-5)

Through Jesus Christ, who is the firstborn from the dead, (Colossians 1:18) we will reign with Him as kings and priests forever (Revelation 5:10) while the unbelievers will join satan in the lake of fire forever. (Revelation 14:9-13)(Luke 12:46)(Psalm 37:28)(Matthew 13:49-50)(John 6:53-54)

The choice belongs to each of us individually and the stakes could not be higher. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

To your life, Phil

1/30/2017

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)

I am in awe of the all powerful words of God that proceeded out of His mouth via His breath from the beginning when He spoke the earth, universes, light, firmament, seas, plants, animals, fish and birds into existence. (Genesis 1:1-25)

When He created man, He worked things a little differently. He piled up some dirt, formed it into HIS image and then breathed HIS breath INTO the man, creating a living soul! (Genesis 2:7) Then He formed woman out of one of Adam's ribs and presented her to him. (Genesis 2:21-24) God made man and woman special in His eyes and gave us dominion over everything else on the earth that He had created. He actually breathed His Holy Spirit into us and bonded us to gether with Him. (Genesis 1:26) What a priviledge and what a responsibility and what a dependency that we have on God! We are dependent upon Him for the very breath that is in us.

But, it did not take long for the devil to convince the woman and the man to obey him instead of God and they ate from the tree of good and evil. (Genesis 3:1-7) This act not only destroyed the spiritual bond between us and God, but it opened our eyes to the spiritual world of good and evil, something God had never willed for us to experience. (Genesis 2:17) God, in His Wisdom and mercy, banned them from eating from the tree of life, which would have caused them and us to live forever without hope in our sin. (Genesis 3:22)

God had already had a plan from before the beginning to fix this great wrong, even before it happened! That plan is Jesus Christ! (1 Peter 1:18-20)(Ephesians 1:4)(Matthew 25:34) God immediately began speaking via the breath of His Spirit through the prophets that His plan to restore our spirits is in place and will come to pass. (Isaiah 11:1-2)(Ezekiel 36:26)(Ezekiel 37:1-14)

In the Bible, the word spirit is synonomous with breath, air and wind. We cannot speak without using our spirit. Our life ends when we take our last breath and our spirit departs. (Luke 23:46) Get it? Jesus was full of the Holy Sprirt and was totally led by that same Spirit. (Luke 4:1) Jesus was full of, and spoke the Word of God (Luke 4:14) and demonstrated the power and love of God. (Luke 4:18-19)

After Jesus died on the cross and rose again and before he ascended back into heaven, He passed through the walls of where His disciples were assembled and breathed the breath of God on them and into them. (John 20:21-22) This transferred the resurrected, eternal life that Jesus had obtained unto those of us who believe on Him and restored that spiritual bond with the Father that we had in Eden! (1 Corinthians 15:45) But wait, there is more! To equip us to do without His physical presence on this earth, He promised his disciples that they would receive the power of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 1:8). Then, it happened! God fulfilled His promise and poured out the tremendous power of His Holy Spirit/breath/wind into us, (Acts 2:1-4) equipping us to use our breath to proclaim and demonstrate the life giving gift of Jesus Christ to ourselves, our family and friends and to the world! (Romans 8:2)

Lord, help us to use this gift of life responsibly and wisely. (Proverbs 18:21)

That the world may know, Phil


Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. (Luke 2:42-50)

Joseph and Mary did not understand Jesus' response. Since Jesus' Father is our Father, the question is worth asking. What is our Father's business? Well, we can sum it up by saying that He is in the Redemption, Reconciliation and Restoration business.

Jesus Christ completed the work of redemption on the cross by shedding His blood and dying for us for the remission (forgiveness) of sins. (Matthew 26:28)(Hebrews 9:22) He bought us with a tremendous price. (Hebrews 9:12)(Colossians 1:13-14)(Revelation 5:9)

The work of reconciliation of man to God is ongoing and we have a huge part to play in that we are ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18) and ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). We have a responsibility, and God is counting on us, to share the Gospel in love with others and to represent Him well. He cannot reconcile others to Him unless we tell them and persuade them that reconcilation is available. (1 Corinthians 3:6-8)

The work of restoration is also ongoing and is a shared responsibility between God and us. God restored us to eternal life when Jesus rose from the dead and He continues to restore by healing our bodies, minds, spirits, relationships and broken hearts. His work of restoration will culminate in the future with the creation of a new heaven and a new earth, (Isaiah 65:17)(2 Peter 3:13)(Revelation 21:1) eliminating every trace of the devil's work. In the meantime, there are plenty of opportunities for us to restore individuals out of a state of sin. (Galatians 6:1)

Jesus made reconciliation and restoration possible for us by redeeming us. Our job is to help Him in the reconciliation and restoration.

With much encouragement, Phil

1/16/2017

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

When Jesus Christ was being interrogated by Pilate before His crucifiction, Pilate responded to Jesus' statement that He came into the world that He should bear witness to the truth by asking "What is truth?" (John 18:38) Pilot either did not believe in truth, or he did not know what truth is - a sign of those times.

In this present time, there is also a prevalent ignorance of, or resistance to the truth, even among some in the body of Christ. Many are calling evil good and good evil. (Isaiah 5:20) Hot issues such as same sex marriage, sex outside of marriage, abortion, suppression of religious freedom, lying and corruption in our government and society, terrorist attacks, decisions against Israel, ... are condoned, not only by the world, but by many in the church of Christ. This should never be.

One false line of thought is that the Bible is outdated, society has changed and God changes with the times. Well, The Holy Spirit says that is not true. (Hebrews 13:8)

How do we know what is truth and what we should support and what we should not tolerate and how should we explain our stand? By getting to know the Truth, Jesus Christ, by studying His Word and communing with Him. By the way, Jesus IS the Word (John 1:1-14) We can and should be regularly reading the Bible and asking for wisdom, knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:6)(James 1:5) by the Holy Spirit to guide us, especially if we don't know where we should stand on a given issue. By the way, Jesus Christ IS Wisdom. (1 Corinthians 1:30) He is able to change our hearts to line up with His heart. A very good Bible study tool can be downloaded for free from www.e-sword.net.

In addition, we can apply our God given wisdom to support our knowledge and understanding by observing the fruits of both sides of the fence. Who is slandering who? Who is attempting to force their idealogy on who? Who is being persecuted for their beliefs, just for believing that way? Who is trying to silence who?

The real issue is knowing the truth, being set free and building up others, speaking the Truth in love. (John 8:32)(Romans 12:21)(Ephesians 4:14-15)

Your friend, Phil


Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies...(Psalm 23:5)

God has a wonderful table prepared for us. That table is filled with an unlimited buffet of physical and spiritual delicacies, including His Word, the Bible, for us to eat and drink of at any time. Also at His table is forgiveness, healing and abundant life now, and a marriage supper and eternal life in the next life. God's table in manifested through Jesus Christ. (Luke 22:29-30)(John 6:50-58)(Isaiah 55:1)

Our enemy the devil, satan, also has a table that is always open for business, and he is constantly trying to snare us by enticing us to feast there. (Psalm 69:22)(Romans 11:9) That table is filled with menu items which look good and, if eaten, taste good for a season, but immediately begin to turn sour and ultimately result in spiritual death. (James 1:15) In fact, the devil's table is filled with loss, death and destruction. (John 10:10)

Both of those tables are real! By God's grace we constantly face a choice of where to eat, (Deuteronomy 30:19) but we cannot simultaneously eat from both tables. (1 Corinthians 10:21)(2 Corinthians 6:14) I feasted at the devil's table for the first 33 years of my life until I turned to Christ.

If you are not a believer (Christian), then I encourage you to eat from the table of life and receive Jesus Christ in your heart. (1 John 3:23-24)(Luke 15:10)

If you are already a believer, you are being tempted in various forms. If you are backsliding by dabbling at the devil's table by things you do with your eyes, thoughts and body, you are loving sin more than God. Please repent and come back to where you belong. He is waiting...(Revelation 3:19-20)

With much love, Phil


Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)

At various times during my more than thirty years of walking with the Lord, I have been healed immediately by laying on of hands (thumb wart), quoting healing scriptures (broken ankle), being in gatherings where the presence of the Holy Spirit was tangible (deep grief and emotional issues), and over time by diet and lifestyle changes (high blood sugar and high cholesterol) and with the help of doctors (severed tendons in two fingers).

I have also been healed in another way that the scripture above reveals. Years ago, during an airplane ride on one of my trips to Kenya, I was stricken with a spirit of anxiety or claustrophobia while sitting in a middle seat. There was no one around to lay hands on me or pray for me and I was too uptight to quote scriptures, but I remembered the part of James 5:16 that tells us to pray for one another that we may be healed. I didn't know who to pray for so I simply asked the Lord to heal everyone else in the world who was also being tormented in a similar manner, knowing that what I was sowing I also would reap (2 Cor 9:6).

Soon, the anxiety subsided, not to return. I was healed and that scripture became ingrained in me as a powerful principle in that God granted me the same healing that I had asked Him for everyone else. I know He was pleased with not only the application of that scripture, but with the unselfishness of the prayer itself as the focus was on others and not myself. I don't know who or how many others received their healing as a result of that prayer, but I know by faith that someone besides me was also healed. I have applied that same principle in several other situations and have always received healing for myself. You can do it too! It starts with believing (Mark 11:24).

To your health! Phil