Live Against the Drift: Refocusing the Distracted Soul

By Marshall Segal

The danger of drifting, spiritual or otherwise, is in just how subtle and comfortable drifting can feel. Often we don’t even notice it’s happening at all.

I grew up outside Cincinnati, Ohio, a far drive from any ocean. I can’t even remember a lake near our house. The largest body of water might have been the man-made pond next to the local golf course. So when I finally met the ocean, I would never forget it. I had never seen anything so large and alive and frightening — and yet my little brother and I could splash and wrestle in its wake.

I distinctly remember, on one of those early beach days, mustering up the courage to swim out a little farther, and then a little farther, floating over wave after wave, learning how they obediently march in rows and yet dance in their own way. And then, as happens to so many first-timers, I realized (with great fear) just how far I was from safety. Suddenly the waves were coming higher and faster, pulling me farther than I wanted to go. My feet searched frantically for the bottom. My arms and legs suddenly felt like logs, like they were somehow taking on water. I looked and looked along the beach, but couldn’t see my brother, my dad, my mom, anyone. Another wave crashed over my head.

In a panic, I swam frantically, and soon found my feet back on land, but I had learned just how easy and dangerous it is to drift away from shore. How much more dangerous, then, to drift away from Jesus — to realize, after weeks or months or years, that the waves of life have carried us farther away than we ever expected.

Focus or Drift

One mark of Christian maturity is learning that none of us passively drifts toward Christ, not even after we’ve followed him for years or even decades. The currents of the still-sinful soul, weathered by constant waves of temptation, still pull us out to sea. We can’t sluggishly float in place. We’re either swimming toward God or drifting somewhere else.

The writer of Hebrews had felt the undertow of sin battling our love for Jesus. After lifting up the supremacy of the Son in creation, in redemption, in authority, in glory, he writes, “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1). In other words, if we take our eyes off of this Christ, we’ll soon find ourselves further from him. In the life of faith, we either focus or drift.

For his immediate hearers, the tide threatened to pull them back into the Christ-less rituals of old-covenant Israel. Jewish persecution made following Jesus painful and costly, leaving some in prison (Hebrews 13:3). Many considered retreating from Christ to being mistreated with him. Our souls may drift along similar lines. We might drift because people we love hate the God we love, making belittling comments about our convictions or distancing themselves from us because of them. Or we might drift in other, very different directions.

We might drift after unrepentant sin, allowing some lust or bitterness or craving or envy to take hold and slowly drag our souls from safety. We might, like Demas, drift away into worldliness, slowly allowing our affections and imaginations to be absorbed with some distraction — deadlines and promotions, headline news, sports triumphs or losses, shopping trends and deals, social media controversies. We might even drift away because of a fixation on friends or family. Each of these loved ones is a gift of God meant to lead us to God, and yet how often do they instead become gods?

We might drift any number of ways to any number of places. The warning is that if we’re not currently swimming closer to Jesus, we cannot stay where we are. Paddling in place is not an option. And the tide will choose where we go — if we let it. The human soul is designed to wax or wane, to drive or drift. So do you know, in the moments of greater preoccupation and weaker resolve, where your soul tends to drift?

Greater Than Angels

Whatever ways our souls tend to drift, how do we counter the pull? By paying all the more attention to what we’ve heard about Jesus. The claim of the first chapter of Hebrews, that he’s greater than angels, may fall strangely flat on modern ears (like mine). We’re not awestruck by angels anymore. And so the argument’s largely lost on us — not at all because it’s a weak argument, but because we have weaker eyes, because we’ve grown ignorant to reality. Angels haven’t changed; we have.

We yawn when we should marvel (and often marvel when we should yawn). We scroll by when we should fall on our faces. We treat angels like puppies or kittens — adorable, desirable, cuddly, surely not wonderful and terrifying. That’s not how first-century Jews would have imagined angels. They might not have been comfortable printing them on children’s clothing.

If we could see angels, we would shudder and hide our faces. And Jesus, Hebrews tells us, is more frightening than a hurricane, more spectacular than a towering pillar of fire, more glorious even than the angels of heaven.

Because of Who He Is

Wholly apart from our tendency to drift, Jesus really is worthy of our whole attention. He really is endlessly fascinating. When my family visited Yellowstone, we came across two grizzly bears playfully wrestling in a field. We were far enough away to be completely safe, but close enough to see it all. I can still picture those enormous, furry brawlers running and tackling and rolling. No one had to convince us to pay attention or keep watching. Someone could have easily made off with our car, which we had left running.

Similarly, if we could catch a glimpse of who Jesus really is, we wouldn’t struggle to focus on him. In fact, we’d probably have a hard time noticing all the things that capture and consume so much of our attention now. When we read our Bibles and feel little, it’s like we’re scanning the field but can’t see the bears. Or we can, but they’re too far away and fuzzy. When we stop reading our Bibles, we’ve stopped even looking in the fields. We’re driving right by while we stream some series on our phones.

Hebrews 1 is a trailer to the glory we’re missing when our eyes drift away from the field. The boy born in Bethlehem is the heir of all things — in part because he made all things (Hebrews 1:2). This Jesus is the beauty of the universe — “the radiance of the glory of God” — and he upholds that universe with his all-powerful breath (Hebrews 1:3). And though he is the pure, spotless image of God, he stepped between the wrath of God and the enemies of God, to make his enemies his brothers. After dying on the cross, he proved even death was under his feet, rising from the grave and then ascending in even greater glory than he came.

And if you could see him as he now is, even mouth-stopping, sword-wielding armies of angels would grow dull by comparison. He’s always worthy of more attention, and he rewards whatever focus we give him.

Because of Who You Are

We pay exceedingly close attention to Jesus because he’s worthy of such attention, and because we know how easily we drift away from him. “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”

We keep our eyes fixed on him because of who he is, and because of who we are — tempted, distracted, sometimes wandering.

Staying close to Jesus means steadily moving toward Jesus. Scripture’s language of “walking by faith” is a great encouragement here. There are times to run (or swim) hard, but most of the Christian life will be walking with Jesus against the drift, like the disciples who walked with Jesus during his ministry. In an age of driving, riding, flying, and hurrying, many of us have lost the art of walking. Resisting the tide often means just taking the next few steps — reading the next chapter, praying the next prayer, preparing for the next Sunday gathering. As we do, we’ll find, on some days and in some seasons, that the waves actually turn to serve us, to lift us higher and farther in the right direction. With the Spirit’s help, like surfers, we can actually tame and enjoy the currents we once feared.

As we fight the drift within us, we don’t have to try to finish our race today. We just need to go as far as we can in these few hours with our eyes on Jesus.

Courtesy of

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Fighting for Faith in the Entertainment Age

By John Piper

“Salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11). Today is the 80th birthday of Dan Fuller, which doesn’t mean anything to most of you, but means a great deal to me because Dan Fuller was for me in 1968, ’69, ’70 and ’71 God’s instrument for turning my world upside down and opening my eyes to the Scriptures and the glory of God. So, I got on email yesterday, and I wrote him a long letter of appreciation and gratitude. And among the other things that I said, I said, “Dan, salvation is closer to you now than it was the day you believed, and every groan of your 80-year-old body is groaning closer to Jesus. Every heartbeat in your fragile old body is a heartbeat closer to the glory of Jesus Christ.”

We Christians also fight for faith. We fight for faith because the world and the flesh and the devil conspire to spiritually deaden us. They come at us with sleeping pills, with tranquilizers of relaxation, with the offer of a life filled by the hypnotic trance of digital amusements. And what Jesus wants us to see is that “faith and hope and love are the antidotes to the soporific effects of the world always trying to get you to go to sleep.” So how do we stay awake? And how do we fight to stay awake in the entertainment age? Here’s Pastor John, preaching in 2005 at an outdoor venue — a conference maybe. I’m not sure about the context, but you’ll hear the wind at times. Here is John Piper.

I hope he takes heart in his 80-year-old frame. And I hope you take heart from knowing your salvation — which is the completion of your redemption, with a new body and the end of battling with sin — is closer today than it was yesterday. And every groaning of your aching body means, “I’m one groan closer to the glory that is arriving.”

Sleepwalking and Skydiving

Then the third thing he says in verse 11, in the first half of the verse, is this: “The hour has come for you to wake from sleep” (Romans 13:11). And you remember what we said about that? Most of the world that is not treasuring Jesus Christ as its supreme treasure is sleepwalking. Even though their life is very glitzy, it’s just bombarded every day with advertisements to say, “Do this, and you will live,” when in fact, it’s the devil wringing his hand, saying, “Do this, and you will go sound asleep” — sound asleep to what that sun is really saying today.

How many people in Mounds View do not hear the glory of God being declared from the heavens? Why? Because they spent all night watching television. They’ve saturated their lives with an entertainment mentality, and their spiritual eyes have gotten smaller and smaller and smaller until most people without Christ can’t see anything glorious in spiritual reality. And Paul says, “The day has come. This is not a time for sleeping. This is not a time for sleepwalking.”

It’s not a time for being like skydivers — this is like a parable of the world without Christ. The skydivers are leaping out their planes, and they are watching the air go at 120 miles an hour through their fingers, and feeling this is the apex of the thrill of life. But there’s just one problem: they have no parachutes. And the gravity that is pulling them inexorably toward what will happen in about a minute or two is called the wrath of God. Because Jesus said in John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” And they think they’re so alive.

One of our great tasks is to so let the light of the gospel shine that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, eyes will wake up to the fact that day has come. Christ has come. The sun of righteousness has risen over Mounds View and over the Twin Cities. Wake up to the glory of your Savior, and believe him and enjoy him. Don’t be a sleepwalker. Don’t be a sleep-skydiver. It’s time to wake up. It’s time to get dressed. That’s what this text is about today. Get dressed. Take off your pajamas. Stop going to work in your pajamas.

Entering the War

So, we start now at verse 12. And what we’re finding here is that we’re being told what to wear as the light has come and what to do in this clothing. Romans 13:12: “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then cast off the works of darkness.” You see the logic? “Because it is day, so then . . .” These are pajamas. Cast off the works of pajamas. One way to define sin is pajamas. You should be embarrassed to go around sinning. I mean, who would go to work in his pajamas? But people go to work in the works of darkness every day when it’s day. Wake up! It’s day. The King of kings has come.

So, “cast off [take off] the works of darkness and put on” — and then he chooses a word that is surprising. I didn’t expect him to choose this word. It’s a word that signals that the Christian life is not just wakeful; it’s war. You see that word? The day is at hand; so then, take off your pajamas — that is, the works of darkness — “and put on the armor of light.” I mean, I would expect it to say, “Put on a shirt or a cloak” or “Dress well for work” or something. And he says, “Put on the armor of light.”

“The Christian life is not just wakeful; it’s war.”

So, out of the blue comes — I mean, we don’t just go from pajamas to clothes to armor; we go straight from pajamas to armor. What does that say about life? It says life is war. The Christian life is a battle — though God has been so merciful to give us a foretaste of heaven today, and we may wonder, how can we even think in terms of life as being war and a battle and darkness to be overcome?

Armor of Light

So, put off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Now, here’s my question: What is the armor of light, and what does putting it on mean? But let’s make the question a little broader. Verse 12 and verse 14 both used the words “put on.” Notice verse 14: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” So, now you’ve got two “put-ons”: put on the armor of light when you take off your pajamas of sin, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ. So, my question really is, What’s the relationship between putting on the armor of light and putting on the Lord Jesus Christ? What do those two things mean? And I think the answer is given in 1 Thessalonians 5:7–8.

So, if you want to go there with me, you can, or you can just listen. I read this two weeks ago because 1 Thessalonians 5:7–8 is the closest comparison in all of Paul’s writings to what we have here in Romans 13:12–14. When I read it, you’ll hear the relationship. So listen carefully to 1 Thessalonians 5:7–8:

For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on [now there it is: we have armor, so we know we’re in the same sphere of thought] the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.

So, Paul mentions two pieces of armor: breastplate and helmet. We know there are more from Ephesians 6, but that’s all he’s dealing with here. We’ve got a breastplate to cover your heart and your will, and we’ve got a helmet to cover your brain, because those are the only three things the devil’s interested in. He wants your heart; he wants your will; he wants your brain — so get yourself covered good here and here. And he says there are three things that this armor stands for: faith, love, hope. Sound familiar? These three are the great ones — faith, hope, and love.

Staying Awake in a Sleepy World

So, now I come back to Romans 13:12, and see if this will help us. “So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” That is, let us put on faith, and let us put on hope, and let us put on love.

“Faith and hope and love are the antidotes to the soporific effects of the world.”

In this world of sleepwalking, the message is coming at you all day long — every day from television and from advertising and from all other kinds of things — to say, “Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep with regard to God, with regard to Christ, with regard to the Bible.” And the less you want the Bible, the less you want Jesus, the less you want God, the more effective you know the sleeping pills of the world have been in your life. And what he’s saying here now is that faith and hope and love are the antidotes to the soporific effects of the world always trying to get you to go to sleep. So, combat that sleep-producing effect of the world by putting on faith and putting on hope and putting on love.

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The Lord is a Warrior

I am drawn to adventurous movies of warriors and superheroes fighting against evil. Or a boxing warrior like Rocky fighting against impossible odds to achieve victory. I love the war movies of people fighting throughout the ages in the struggle against evil. Have you ever thought about God like this or is our view of God more passive.

Exodus 15:3: The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is His name.  Another translation says: God is the Master of war, God is His name.  Exodus 15:3 

Yahweh is a warrior and is at war. God fights every day and night, and there is never a time that Yahweh is not fighting. God is on the battlefield fighting battles. Yahweh always fights for His people. God never loses. God is never defeated. God cannot be pushed back in battle into defeat. Nothing can overcome his power and strength.

This truth coincides with an important name of God, Yahweh Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, which also describes God as a warrior who fights for his people. The Hebrew word” hosts” means to wage war, warfare, and a leader of an army organized for war. Names in the Hebrew culture were a distinctive mark and indicated the essential character of that to which the name is given. In Scriptures the names of God reveal important characteristics of His nature and attributes. Yahweh Sabaoth, Lord of Hosts, is the most frequent compound name of God used in the Bible. This phrase has been translated “Yahweh of the Armies” or Yahweh who commands armies. The armies are primarily armies of heavenly beings (angels), but also this name has been associated with the armies of Israel, who is called the God of the battle lines of Israel, and armies of things in creation such as stars and planets. It is the militant name of God as the commander in chief and illustrates that God is far superior to any adversary and able to achieve victory in the most impossible human circumstances. It is the magnificent name of God in battle in all His majesty defeating every foe with His surpassing power that nothing can stand against.   

An examination of this wonderful name the Lord of Hosts in the Old Testament, we see Yahweh move with extraordinary power to establish His Word and to accomplish His purposes. This is especially true in the future when the Lord of Hosts, the Warrior God, establishes the kingdom of His Son Jesus Christ upon the earth. The Lord of Hosts is a fierce protector against anything or anyone who tries to intrude into this relationship. The Lord of Hosts declares if you touch, lay a hand on, or strike out against my beloved children who trust in me, you have touched the apple of my eye, and I will rise up to declare war on this aggression. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts is ignited in prayer and burns white hot in the heart of God against all who defame His name or harass His namesake. The Lord of Hosts also is an avenger against all who pridefully fail to consider their wicked ways and humbly turn to Him. He is the enemy to those who turn a deaf ear to his words, refusing to obey Him.

In its first usage in the Bible in I Samuel 1, this name is inextricably linked to prayer and is used in time of dire need when all hope seems lost, and defeat seems inevitable. Yahweh is not passive in prayer or indecisive, but rather is a mighty warrior that prayer invokes to action to fight the battles of His people. Yahweh and His heavenly armies are moved in prayer to unleash Yahweh’s almighty power in the earth to break walls, move mountains and shatter chains. God wants us to see that He is ready to wage war in prayer and bring all the resources of His kingdom against every foe that stands against us. How our prayer life would change if we believed that we are praying to the Lord of Hosts! God is a warrior who knows no defeat. He cannot be ambushed, deceived, diminished, or annihilated. God does go AWOL in time of need or disappear from the battlefield. The warrior God is for us. He is on our side. Nothing can stand against us when we put our trust in Him. We need to know when we pray that we are praying to the Lord of Hosts.

We are introduced to Hannah in I Samuel, a wonderful women devoted to prayer who would give birth to one of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament. As the curtain unfolds in I Samuel we see a woman in agony, distraught that she is barren and has no children. In Hebrew culture, it was considered a disgrace not to have children as they were considered a blessing from the Lord. On top of this she was constantly mocked by Peninnah, her husband’s second wife, for being barren. Hannah invokes the warrior God, Yahweh of the Armies, to raise His mighty arm and do the impossible, bring her womb to life so she can give birth to a son.

 I Samuel 1:12:

And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.” 

Hannah was in great pain and anxiety, vexed in her heart about her barrenness. Her prayer was raw and unfiltered as she poured out her soul to Yahweh. The range of emotions that Hannah experienced are set forth in this chapter. She was sorrowful, bitter, frustrated, distressed, and sobbing in a flood of tears. She did not hold back her sorrow and bitterness, but laid out all her emotions, frustrations, and irritations at the feet of Yahweh. She had reached the end of all her futile struggles. She realized her inability and weakness to do or change anything as only the Lord of Hosts, the warrior God, could fight this battle of barrenness and open her womb. She made a binding promise to God that if He would give her a son, she would give him to the Lord all the days of his life. She knew in her heart that only Yahweh could remove this curse from her and bless her with children.

The word “remember” is used idiomatically in this verse and does not mean to just mentally remember, but to act on one’s behalf. Prayer is where we pour out everything in our hearts to the Lord, asking Yahweh to act for us and declare war on that which holds us captive. Hannah’s prayer was not a ten second exercise of a few rushed words that lacked faith, and simply fell to the ground with no impact. Verse 12 says she spent “a long time praying” or in the Hebrew she multiplied her praying. Like Jacob she clung to Yahweh and refused to let go until he answered her prayer. This is the tenacity of prayer, that relentlessly pursues Yahweh to breathe life into any situation.

The Lord of Hosts graciously granted Hannah’s prayer, and she lifted her heart in praise to Yahweh and in her second prayer, we see the wonderful character of Hannah and some timeless truths about prayer to the Lord of Hosts.

         I Samuel 2:1-4,9,10:

And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation.

“There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.

Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.

The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength.

 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail.

The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

The Hebrew word for “exults” in verse one means to jump for joy. Hannah jumped for joy that the Lord of Hosts triumphed against her calamity and granted her prayerful request. No desperate condition, no overwhelming circumstance, and no human power can stand against the Lord of Hosts in prayer. Nothing can compare to our God as all the weapons and strength of an earthly kingdom or the gods of all the religions on earth cannot even come close to measuring up to Yahweh. Yahweh is the only rock, and the immovable security and confidence in the instability of our times. We can summon the Lord of Hosts in prayer to shatter the bows of the mighty and break into pieces the adversaries of Yahweh. You cannot contend, strive, chide, or file a lawsuit against Yahweh and win. You cannot modify, change, adapt or alter Yahweh to fit in with cultural mandates. The Lord of Hosts does not lose. The Lord of Hosts does not retreat. The Lord of Hosts does not compromise. The Lord of Hosts does not come in second. The essence of praying to the Lord of Hosts is the promise of Isaiah 14:22 that “I will rise up against them.” The Lord of Hosts promises to rise up and fight every one of our battles with the tenacity of an undefeated warrior.

Jeremiah 10:6,7,10-12,13b,15-17 (Voice) declares:

This message is for all of Israel. Listen to what the Eternal (Yahweh) is saying to you.

O Eternal One, there is no comparison. You are great; even your name is powerful.

Who wouldn’t worship You? It is only right; You are the King of all kingdoms. The wise and  powerful men of all nations in their realms are still nothing compared to You.

Just look at the contrast! The Eternal is the True God: He is the living God and eternal King, not  some lifeless idol. The whole earth trembles when He is angry; nations crumble beneath His wrath.

Say this to anyone still worshiping idols: The so-called gods you worship did not make the earth and the starry sky above it. And one day they will all be blotted from the earth beneath those stars.                                                                                                        

Know whom you’re dealing with!  God alone is powerful enough to create the earth. He alone
is wise enough to put the world together. He alone understands enough to stretch out the heavens.

Those who make idols are shamed by their creations. What they fashion out of gold are imposters—
breathless, lifeless frauds.

Their idols are worthless, the work of their hands an embarrassing mockery.  They are doomed to perish under God’s judgment.

The portion of Jacob, the Eternal One, is not like any of these. He was not fashioned out of human hands. Instead, it is He who made all things and appointed Israel to inherit it all. His name is the Eternal (Yahweh), Commander of heavenly armies (The Lord of Hosts).

A second great truth wrapped up in the name of the Lord of Hosts is that God fights our battles This is so hard for us because we are wired to be our own superhero. We want to do it, we want to be the prime mover, and we want to get some if not all the credit. We want to be self-reliant, self-sufficient and self-achieving. We want the pat on the back and to exalt ourselves to the forefront of faith-filled Christians. We love the applause. We want to be known. We want to show everyone how spiritual we are. How hard it is to just let go. How difficult it is to cast everything to Yahweh with no strings attached. Any solution or strategy rooted in the flesh will fail. Yahweh will fight and Yahweh will conquer if we only let Him.

The Bible has many verses concerning this simple truth:

                 Deuteronomy 20:1-4:

When you go out to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. 

And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people 

And shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, 

For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.

Deuteronomy 1:29,30:

Then I said to you, ‘Do not be in dread or afraid of them. 30 The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes,

Deuteronomy 1:42:

And the Lord said to me, ‘Say to them, Do not go up or fight, for I am not in your midst, lest you be defeated before your enemies.’ 

2 Chronicles 20:15-17:

And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 

Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find  them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 

You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”

Nehemiah 4:20:

In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”

Psalm 35:1:

Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me!

Romans 8:31:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Is there any doubt that God wants to fight our battles? Is there any question that our God is a warrior, the Lord of Hosts, and He is a fighter. He will stand against any devil spirit, any fear, any army and any circumstance that rises up against us. This truth has not changed. What little faith we have that God fights all our battles! What lack of trust we have in Yahweh as our deliverer! We have more faith in the Devil to oppress us than in God to deliver us. God is blamed for sickness, for death, for oppression and every other form of evil. In fact, there is a whole segment of Christian “theology” that teaches God inflicts us and makes us suffer to make us better Christians. Isn’t it time we quit blaming God for evil? Isn’t it time we quit whitewashing the works of Satan to make them look like the works of God.  Isn’t it time we quit calling darkness light and evil good? When the Lord is for you, when the Lord is with you, when the Lord is in you, nothing can stand against you. Yahweh cannot lose. He is the God of triumph and victory. Yahweh is the God that obliterates His foes. Who do you want on your side?

Exodus 14:10-14 (NIV):

As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 

They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 

Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

When the Israelites lifted their eyes to the horizon, they saw Pharoah charging toward them in horses and chariots leading the mightiest army of that time. Pharoah chose six hundred of the best chariots and rounded up all the other chariots of Egypt all manned by his elite officers. He had summoned all the military power of his empire to crush the rebellious Israelites. The Hebrew word for “pursue” means to run after with hostile intent and to chase with considerable effort, focus and intensity. The Pharoah was moving in for the kill.

From a human perspective, all seemed hopeless. Israel had nowhere to go and no place to flee. They were backed up to the Red Sea with the strongest army of the greatest empire of the day racing towards them. All odds were against them as they were easy prey to the Egyptians. The Israelites reaction was extreme fear and dread. They originally cried to Yahweh, but not for long as they turned on Moses screaming “what have you done?” and “leave us alone!”  These are the cries of unbelief not the cries of trust or faith. How short was their memory! Had they already forgotten the magnificent deliverance of Israel from Egyptian slavery with ten miraculous plagues that rocked Egypt and decimated its gods? Did they disregard the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night that Yahweh used to go before them and lead them through the wilderness? This was not some story that they heard about; they saw these amazing manifestations of the power of Yahweh with their own eyes. Yet they desired to return to the land of cruelty and oppression where they were ruthlessly made to work as slaves and their lives were made bitter with hard service. How quickly they disregarded their own desperate groanings because of their slavery in Egypt, and that they had cried out to Yahweh for deliverance.

Moses said the conditions for God to fight our battles-Stand firm, do not fear, be still and you will see that Yahweh will fight for you. Do you believe it?

We are to be warriors with God. But Jesus said, “without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5) Unless God is with you, you can never be a mighty warrior.  But when He is with you, you operate in a completely different realm.  It’s not your strength or power than matters any more.  It is the might of the Lord of hosts that flows through you. The life of the warrior is found wherever God is present in a person.  The life of the warrior is a life of spiritual proximity, not human potential.  Drawing close to God is the only way of the true warrior.  God and me. Anyone who wants to fight his demons with his own weapons is a fool.” How many of us attempt to fight our own demons with effort, technique and motivation from ourselves?  How’s that working out?  Self-reliance is a sure formula for failure.  “I admit that I am powerless” is the necessary precondition for recovery because it puts away the foolish arrogance of believing that I can rescue myself. 

David, the warrior-king, knew that no victory was possible in his own strength.  In fact, the most disastrous consequences to his people occurred when he took the path of self-reliance by counting the size of his army.  David’s strength rested in God’s ability to fight for him, not in his ability to marshal his own resources.  Read the Psalms again and you will find a man who learns to lean on the Lord.  Even the mighty men know that running to God for rescue is the only successful battle plan. Zechariah 4:6: Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. 

Contemporary Christianity proclaims a Savior who delivers us from the punishment of sin.  But far too often that message promotes delayed victory.  In other words, we are told that when we get to heaven our troubles will be over.  The Hebrew idea is much more tactical.  Rescue and deliverance are needed now, in this life, on this earth.  If Yeshua’s deliverance is only good after death, then we are the most miserable of creatures.  We are stuck in the staggering evil of the world, waiting to die in order to be redeemed.  May it never be!  Rescue is reinforcements in the midst of the battle.  God’s will must be done on earth.  His salvation is revealed in the Kingdom at hand.  Some day we may see an Exit sign ahead, but today the sign says “Run To Me.” Every believer is called to be a track star – in reverse.  Run back to the source of your strength.  There will be plenty of time to move forward again, after the Lord clears away the high hurdles. 

How magnificent is His name! This is who we pray to! Not some manufactured idea or dead agenda, but the Eternal One, Yahweh, the Lord of Hosts, the Commander of the heavenly armies. Hezekiah knew that the mighty Assyrian empire was walking on sinking said when it attacked Yahweh and those who trust in Him. He understood it was utter futility to declare war on the Creator of the heavens and earth. The trick of the enemy is to lull us into a false sense of security by providing tangible distractions to our true condition.  We pile up wealth, health and friendships, imagining that somehow these will protect us in a storm.  Of course, they won’t, but that doesn’t prevent us from acting as though they will.  There is nothing wrong with securing these resources, as long as we recognize that they are nothing more than God’s gifts for Kingdom purposes. Most of the battles in the enemy’s territory begin right here – knowing our vulnerability and God’s reliability.  The enemy wants all of us to think we are generals.

Psalms 46:11 The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. The Greek Septuagint translates LORD of hosts with the word dunamis – which speaks of One with inherent ability able to produce a strong effect. Literally the Greek translation reads “Lord the dunamis God” the one able to carry out whatever He deems fit and proper! We need to remember this truth about His Name.)

Spurgeon: It is a truth of which no believer wearies, it is a fact too often forgotten, it is a precious privilege which cannot be too often considered. Reader, is the Lord on thy side? Is Emmanuel, God with us, thy Redeemer? Is there a covenant between thee and God as between God and Jacob? 

Psalm 46 gives us a great picture of the attitude and action that believers should be able to manifest if they truly appropriate the truth inherent in the great Name, Jehovah Sabaoth, LORD of hosts. I see that I can do nothing, and that all reliance on man is vanity. “Not by might.” I see that no visible means can be relied on, but the force is in the invisible Spirit. God alone must work, and men and means must be nothing accounted of. If it be so that the Almighty God takes up the concerns of His people, then great mountains are nothing. He can remove worlds as boys toss balls about or drive them with their foot. It may be a great mountain, but even before my feebleness it shall become a plain, for the Lord hath said it. What can I be afraid of with God on my side?

Joshua 1:5 I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

THIS word to Joshua is often quoted; it is the basis of that New Testament word, “He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Beloved, a life of warfare is before us,
but the Lord of Hosts is with us. It would be woe to us indeed if Jehovah could fail us but, as this can never be, the winds of disquietude are laid to sleep in the caverns of divine faithfulness. On no one occasion will the Lord desert us. He will be at our side. Come, my heart, be calm and hopeful today. Clouds may gather, but the Lord can blow them away. Since God will not fail me, my faith shall not fail, and, as He will not forsake me neither will I forsake Him. Oh, for a restful faith. The Lord of hosts is with us, and who shall resist His sin-destroying power?

Psalms 84:12 O LORD of hosts, How blessed is the man who trusts in Thee!

Who is the King of glory?  God as king win battles.  The King of glory is the most victorious of them all; the One Who is mighty in battle.  We don’t think of God in terms of warfare.  Why?  He is no longer described in terms of tangible reality.  God is removed from our real experience of life as it is.  Is it any wonder that we are slowly erasing God from our culture?  He is no longer the warrior king, the Rock, the strong right arm, the cleft, the fortress or the holy fire. Isn’t the cry of our culture like Zephaniah: Zephaniah 2:15a: This is the exultant city that lived securely, that said in her heart, “I am, and there is no one else.” Isaiah 23:9: The Lord of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honorable of the earth. Isaiah 66:3b: They have chosen their ways and their soul delights in their abominations.

I want a God Who is my king!  I want a God Who is a mighty warrior, Who will fight battles for me.  I want to smell the battlefield and know that He is victorious.  I want to see the enemies of God stacked like cordwood.  I want to walk the scorched earth where He passed. 

Deuteronomy 31:8 “The Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not neither be dismayed.” If Jehovah Himself goes before us, it must be safe to follow. Who can obstruct our progress if the Lord Himself is in the van? Nor is the Lord before us only; He is with us. Above, beneath, around, and within, all the time, even to eternity. The Lord of hosts is with us! Being before us and with us, He will never withdraw His help. He cannot fail in Himself, and He will not fail toward us. He will continue to help us according to our need, even to the end. As He cannot fail us, so He will not forsake us. Let us not fear nor be dismayed; for the Lord of hosts will go down to the battle with us, will bear the brunt of the fight, and has given us the final victory in our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Don’t Underestimate the Enemies of Your Soul

Spiritual warfare is not a metaphor. It would be more accurate to say that human warfare is a metaphor — and an expression — of the even more real and pervasive spiritual war being waged all around us. And unless we engage it seriously, we will not be serious players in it, and may be swept away by it.

Demonic powers are in no way impressed by our intellect or other abilities. What impresses them is the strength of the Spirit of God and the weapons he provides. And these have divine power to destroy the works of the devil and cause us to stand firm in the evil day (2 Corinthians 10:41 John 3:8Ephesians 6:13).

And God wants us to stand our ground and not yield an inch. More than that, God wants us to take back ground that Satan has seized and free others he has enslaved through fear (Hebrews 2:14–15).

Schemes of the Devil

The evidence that a soldier takes his battle seriously, and understands the strength of his enemy, is seen in how he arms and prepares himself. That’s why when Paul launches into the most famous spiritual-warfare exhortation in the Bible, the first thing he says is this:

Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (Ephesians 6:10–11)

Like any other war, there will be no defeating our spiritual enemy if we do not have the right equipment. Wars waged carelessly are wars lost. Protective armor and offensive weapons matter.

And all we have to do is look at the armor that the experienced warrior lists to understand the nature of this fight: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel, the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:14–17). This is a war over what is real, which means it is psychological warfare at its worst.

Look around you to see the destruction it wreaks. When humans are deluded over what’s real, they think and do terrible, unspeakable evil, individually and collectively. Look carefully, longer than you want to. See the horrors, too diverse to begin to catalog. What you are seeing are the outcomes of the devil’s schemes. This is what he wants to do to you and those you love. You know that, because you know what goes through your mind and what pulls at your depravity.

You can stand against these schemes, and more than that, you can defeat them and drive your enemy back. But you need to understand who you’re up against and take them with all seriousness.

We Do Not Wrestle Lightweights

Listen again to how Paul describes these foes:

We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

Many Christians in the West respond to Paul’s description of these spiritual beings like they do to descriptions of smallpox: a terrible scourge that really doesn’t affect our lives today. They wouldn’t say this in so many words, but they live like it. Which is a massive mistake, and likely evidence that they aren’t really engaged in the war.

Try taking spiritual territory from “cosmic powers” and you know what happens? All hell begins to break loose. We are assaulted with oppressive psychological warfare, we are tempted to suspect people we love, sickness hits, relationships go sideways, churches strain at the seams, and more. If you’ve been in the battle, you know what I mean. Press against a spiritual stronghold of evil, and very quickly our flesh will scream at us to get away from there.

This is not meant to scare us away from the fight. We have a superior power and better weapons at our disposal (1 John 4:4). But we ought not underestimate our enemy.

If we are going to follow Jesus, we will confront beings far beyond our natural selves, beings who are more powerful than we thought and who attack us in ways we don’t expect, beings who will do everything they can to delude us about what is real while trying to destroy us and everything we love.

Stand Your Ground, Take Your Enemy’s

If speaking like this makes us tremble, good! Soldiers only take their armor and weapons seriously, and learn how to use them, if they believe they really need them. God wants us to know that we really need our armor and weapons.

But God also wants us to know that our armor and weapons make our enemies tremble too. They are scared to death of God. And nothing on earth is more dangerous to a demonic cosmic power than a Spirit-filled Christian who wears his armor and wields his weapons. That person is pure destruction to evil. The fiery darts of deception are ineffective against a shield of faith. And the word-sword of the Spirit hews holes in the demonic line.

Battles are intense affairs. But if we take the battle seriously, and use the divine equipment God provides us, we will “stand against the schemes of the devil . . . in the evil day” (Ephesians 6:1113). Do not underestimate your enemy, but do not underestimate your spiritual Ally either. We will win.

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God . . . and having done all . . . stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13). Stand your ground. Do not yield an inch. More than that, press your enemy back, and take his ground. He will fight back, and it will get ugly at times. Don’t panic. Fight. “With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes” (Psalm 108:13).

Courtesy of Jon Bloom (@Bloom_Jon) serves as teacher and cofounder of Desiring God.

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Give Thanks Against Temptation: The Spiritual Power of Gratitude

No one had ever seen a more unusual band of soldiers. Or heard. As the men slowly advanced toward the front lines, no armor glinted in the sunlight; no war cry pierced the air. Instead, colorful robes adorned these soldiers’ shoulders, and they were armed with nothing but a song. And at the heart of the song were two words that seemed severely premature: “Give thanks.”

Give thanks to the Lord,
     for his steadfast love endures forever. (2 Chronicles 20:21)

So sang the vanguard of King Jehoshaphat’s army; so marched his first men into war.

Their enemies, surely disoriented, perhaps took some courage, thinking Judah’s warriors had lost their minds. But as the next minutes would show, the soldiers’ song of thanks proved more powerful than any sword. For “when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed” (2 Chronicles 20:22).

Judah’s enemies were routed by song, vanquished by praise. And the first sounds to fill the expectant air of war were those two surprising words: “Give thanks.” Many a war today is won with the same words, even if our foes have changed. Many a sin lies slain, many a lie gets daggered, and many a devil flees at the sound of this weapon called “thank you.”

Weapon Called ‘Thank You’

Often, in Scripture, thanksgiving arises after deliverance — after God has answered the prayer, brought the rescue, trampled the enemy. But among the many examples of post-deliverance thanksgiving, we find several striking examples of the saints thanking God before the battle begins — as a weapon of war.

Alongside Jehoshaphat’s army, we might recall what Daniel did when faced with King Darius’s insane decree: “Whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions” (Daniel 6:7). Daniel would not, could not, endure a month of prayerless days, much less make petition to a creature of dust. So, “he got down on his knees three times a day and prayed, . . . as he had done previously” (Daniel 6:10).

Were I Daniel, my prayers would no doubt plead and beg and earnestly ask for deliverance. Daniel, however, did more: he “gave thanks before his God” (Daniel 6:10). Let kings rage and lions roar; Daniel will still be heard saying “thank you” to his God. And with this weapon, he silenced fear, proclaimed God’s faithfulness, and so trusted in his God all through the awful night.

“Under God, thanksgiving can become not only the raised cup after battle, but the drawn sword beforehand.”

Chief among gratitude’s soldiers, however, stands our own Lord Jesus, who knew how to thank his Father before the four thousand were fed (Mark 8:6), before Lazarus shook off his graveclothes (John 11:41), and even before his own betrayal. “He took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them” (Matthew 26:27). Maundy Thursday heard the agonized prayers of Gethsemane; it heard also the stunning sounds of gratitude. And in part through that “thank you,” Jesus saw more clearly the joy set before him, “that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29), and he found strength to trust until the empty tomb.

Under God, thanksgiving can become for us an army marching forward, declaring God’s steadfast love against the hordes of unbelief. It can become not only the raised cup after battle, but the drawn sword beforehand.

Counting Blessings, Killing Sins

Consider now your own life. You are no soldier marching toward battle, no Daniel facing the lions’ den, no Savior engulfed in darkness. But in Christ, you have many strong and subtle foes. And Godward gratitude is one of your sharpest swords.

Take worry. How do you repel a rising anxiety and welcome the peace that passes all understanding? How does your embattled mind become garrisoned by the forces of grace? Not only by “[letting] your requests be made known to God,” but also by doing so “with thanksgiving” (Philippians 4:6–7). “Father, though worry weighs on me so heavily, thank you. You have proved your faithfulness so many times; you will prove your faithfulness again.”

Or take sexual temptation. How do you create an atmosphere in your heart that chokes the lungs of lust? Not only by removing “filthiness,” “foolish talk,” and “crude joking” from mouth and mind, and not only by remembering that “everyone who is sexually immoral . . . has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God,” but also by filling your soul with the fragrance of gratitude. Instead of sexual sin, Paul says, “let there be thanksgiving” (Ephesians 5:4–5). For lust cannot live in an utterly thankful heart, a heart that gratefully knows God as its treasure.

Or take bitterness. How do you “let the peace of Christ rule in your heart” when someone in your community drives you crazy (Colossians 3:15)? How do you go on forgiving and forbearing instead of allowing anger to kill your love — or bitterness to cool it (Colossians 3:13–14)? In part, by obeying the command to “be thankful” (Colossians 3:15). When we sincerely thank God for his mercy in Christ, when we gratefully trace the kindness that covers our sins, another day of love feels a little more doable.

We’re not talking here about a bland and banal, cross-stitched and clichéd “count your blessings.” We’re talking about war. Thanksgiving is an act of war. We count our blessings to kill our sins.

Begin and Abound

A habit of thanksgiving, however, rarely comes easily — especially in the grip of temptation. Far easier to allow worry over the walls, to cede ground to lust, to open the gates before bitterness, than to boldly raise gratitude’s flag. And understandably so. When Paul travels to our sin’s twisted center, he finds there an ancient thanklessness: “Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21). Sin never says “thank you” — not sincerely, not from the heart.

So, how might naturally thankless people wield the weapon of thanksgiving? We might consider a two-part plan: begin and abound.


A habit of thanksgiving grows, in part, from beginning our prayers with gratitude and praise. On some regular basis, then, we might resolve to say “thank you” before we say “help me.” Before we voice whatever burdens feel most pressing, we might pause, remember, and spend some time naming God’s past faithfulness, his present help.

Such a practice holds dangers, of course, because thanksgiving holds no value apart from what John Piper calls thanksfeeling. Habitually “thanking” God from a thankless heart warrants the rebuke of Jesus: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8). In fact, perhaps the worst prayer in the Gospels begins with “thank you” (Luke 18:11–12).

At the same time, Scripture gives us warrant to begin with thanksgiving; it also gives us hope that such a practice may nourish into our hearts not only the words, but the feeling too. The Levites of old “were to stand every morning, thanking and praising the Lord, and likewise at evening” (1 Chronicles 23:30). Whatever the circumstance, each day found the Levites adorning the dawn with thanksgiving and bedewing the dark with gratitude.

“Thanksgiving is an act of war. We count our blessings to kill our sins.”

In the New Testament, Paul commands us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) — indeed, to thank God “always and for everything” (Ephesians 5:20). Such commands suggest more than mere spontaneity. By grace, resolving to thank God “always” can push us to remember our many reasons for thankfulness. And remembrance, like a net thrown into the heart’s waters, often catches fresh feelings.

As you begin with thanksgiving, then, remember particular answers to past prayers. Remember the gifts God has scattered so generously about you. Remember how much you have that you don’t deserve — and how little you have that you do. Remember the main reason for gratitude named in the Old Testament: “For he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (1 Chronicles 16:3441). And then trace that goodness and love in the figure of your dying Savior, resurrected Lord, ascended King, and coming Groom.

As we do so, the Lord may well set a table before us in the presence of our enemies — our own worry, our lust, our bitterness — and our cup will overflow with thanks.


If we regularly begin with thanksgiving, we may find ourselves slowly doing more: abounding in thanksgiving. Paul names such abounding as one of the central pillars of the everyday Christian life:

As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6–7)

Abounding in thanksgiving is not a discrete practice; it’s not a step of prayer on the way to petition. Abounding in thanksgiving is a lifestyle. When we abound, we find gratitude rising from our hearts as our bodies rise from bed. We say “thank you” unplanned, unpremeditated, as our eyes catch red falling leaves or the morning’s frosted dew. We bow our heads before meals not merely by brute force of habit but by a living impulse of the heart.

And when the forces of temptation advance, we wield thanksgiving like a weapon well used and close at hand. With Jehoshaphat’s singers, we march toward the battle with song. “Thank you!” we sing, and the sword descends. “I trust you!” we shout, and sin lies slain.

Scott Hubbard is an editor for Desiring God, a pastor at All Peoples Church, and a graduate of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He and his wife, Bethany, live with their two sons in Minneapolis.

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The Dark Side of Equality

by Greg Moore

Outrage against God’s men never sounded so heroic.

“You have gone too far!” they shouted at Moses. “For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” (Numbers 16:3).

The hundreds of men at the entrance lobbied for the people. They demanded notice. Far from peeking around avatars and fake names, these men confronted Moses as men — “well-known men,” in fact, chiefs in their communities, shepherds of families and clans (Numbers 16:2). Their charge: Moses and Aaron have exalted themselves; they rule with confiscated authority. Their logic: all of Israel is holy, every last person. Who is this Moses and this Aaron to speak from on high? This was “Power to the People.”

Did they have a point? Moses, after all, wrote that Israel was to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). Did “kingdom of priests” actually mean “sons of Aaron”? Did “holy nation” actually mean “holy prophet”? Had not Moses and Aaron “gone too far” in asserting their authority?

Korah, the people’s champion, thought so. He placed himself at the head of this small army. Shouts swelled, “All in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and Yahweh is among them — come down from your castles!”

Moses, the meekest man on earth, gives us a lesson for today with his reply.

Motives Unmasked

Moses responds with the following steps.

First, he falls on his face. He grew weary of his life as a constant game of thrones. Would Moses have ever chosen this staff for himself? He tried his best to deny it from the start — “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else” (Exodus 4:13). Since then, he has heard the thankless voices repeat, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us?” (Exodus 2:14). He collapses in prayer.

Second, he challenges Korah and his company. He bows before God; he stands before men. He challenges Korah and the other sons of Levi to return tomorrow: “In the morning the Lord will show who is his, and who is holy, and will bring him near to him” (Numbers 16:5).

Third, he unmasks Korah’s motives. Here, Moses gives us our lesson. He diagnoses what Korah’s rebellion is really about — something very different than presented. Korah shouted of equality, of fairness, of removing mountains and lifting valleys. But what did Moses hear?

Hear now, you sons of Levi: is it too small a thing for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself, to do service in the tabernacle of the Lord and to stand before the congregation to minister to them, and that he has brought you near him, and all your brothers the sons of Levi with you? And would you seek the priesthood also? (Numbers 16:8–10)

The revolutionists said, “Sameness for all! All of us are holy! The Lord walks among us — why should Moses and Aaron reign?” But Moses heard, “We want the priesthood.”

Korah and his company were Levites (like Moses and Aaron) but not priests. Priesthood belonged to Aaron and his sons. The Levites helped the priests and served in the tabernacle, but they did not possess full access. Discontent festered. Those closest grasp at crowns. Moses hears envy in their talk of equality. They despised not that some were preferred, but who was preferred. They wanted all level so they could rise. Instead of Aaron, Korah.

Scolding Ingratitude

They did not admit their hunger for religious authority. And isn’t it ironic — and, as Moses says, shameful — that those already with distinction led this mutiny? He scolds their ingratitude:

Hear now, you sons of Levi: is it too small a thing for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself, to do service in the tabernacle of the Lord and to stand before the congregation to minister to them, and that he has brought you near him, and all your brothers the sons of Levi with you? (Numbers 16:8–10)

“Is your nobility too small, Korah and his complainers, that you stand here and snarl? Has God not separated you for holy service above the other tribes? Do not your sons inherit advantages by birthright?”

They said they were attempting to impeach Moses and Aaron, but again, the prophet strips them bare: “It is against the Lord that you and all your company have gathered together. What is Aaron that you grumble against him?” (Numbers 16:11). In revolting against God’s authority, Korah and his chiefs revolted against God. Moses did not exalt his brother; God did. For “no one takes this honor [of priesthood] for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was” (Hebrews 5:4).

Blurred Boundaries

Centuries and different covenants separate us from Korah. Yet while the earth swallowed Korah alive — along with his family, his people, and all their goods (Numbers 16:31–35) — the spirit of Korah and his campaign strategy endure.

“The spirit of our age feuds against God’s authorities because it feuds against God.”

The spirit of our age feuds against God’s authorities because it feuds against God. “You have gone too far,” it whispers of those above, “for all are special, every last one of us.” It triggers explosives at the base to collapse categories of parent-child, pastor-sheep, teacher-student, policeman-citizen, elder-youth, employer-employee — crumbling them to our harm. God gives us a world with order for our good — mother over the child, father over the home, king over the nation, pastors over the congregant, and Christ over all. But the Korahs cannot tolerate any Moseses and Aarons, because ultimately they want the Savior’s scepter.

Drunk on Equality

Today, as then, rebellion against God can sound so heroic. We need to be aware of equality’s dark side. This might sound strange at first. Isn’t equality always a good thing?

C.S. Lewis writes in reply, “When equality is treated not as a medicine or a safety-gadget, but as an ideal, we begin to breed that stunted and envious sort of mind which hates all superiority. That mind,” Lewis tells us, “is the special disease of democracy” (Present Concerns, 9).

By this, Lewis did not mean legal equality. Justice sings when confronting a Jim Crow South or an anti-Semitic Germany or the barbarous but now fallen Roe v. Wade. What he means is this spirit of Korah, the “man who cannot conceive a joyful and loyal obedience on the one hand, nor an unembarrassed and noble acceptance of that obedience on the other — the man who has never even wanted to kneel or to bow.” He is what Lewis labels “a prosaic barbarian.”

He goes so far as to say that God designed us to desire distinctions. Even when we overdose on sameness, our veneration always travels elsewhere:

Where men are forbidden to honor a king they honor millionaires, athletes, or film-stars instead — even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served — deny it food and it will gobble poison. (12)

“We resist flattening God’s good order for the home, the church, and society — especially at the flattery of Korah.”

Our society overdoses on prescription pills. But Christians have the label. We resist flattening God’s good order for the home, the church, and society — especially at the flattery of Korah. Because when we do cave, we extend the new world order designed by shadows and spirits at war with God. And as shown in Korah’s rebellion, even some who scream loudest of equality don’t want it either.

Is It Too Small a Thing?

Shapeless homes and interchangeable churches lower the drawbridge for Korah to invade. The likes of feminism, socialism, LGBTQ+, and smooth-sounding egalitarianism might tell us how special we all are, even co-opting the imago dei. But the plain instruction given to Christian husbands and wives, fathers and children, kings and citizens, masters and servants, shepherds and individual sheep survives.

In Christ, we do not chafe at this. Of all people, we best love just sovereigns, good heads, righteous authorities and their rule. We will not follow Korah’s sweet talk into the earth’s core. If tempted by his rhetoric, hear Christ himself ask us, “Is it too small a thing to you that the living God has loved you, chosen you, redeemed you, and graced you to rule with me in the endless world to come?”

Greg Morse is a staff writer for and graduate of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He and his wife, Abigail, live in St. Paul with their son and two daughters.

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The Miracle of Forgiveness

At the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ is forgiveness. It is the central key to unlock the power and grace of Christianity. Yet unforgiveness plagues both the Christian believer and the church and threatens destroy our witness for the Lord Jesus Christ and our journey to be like Him. We live in the age of unforgiveness. Lashing out with disdain, hatred and revenge is the norm. How dare they attack me, the nerve of them slandering me, I will pay all of them back. Sound familiar? Forgiveness is considered a sign of weakness, a trait of the unenlightened.

Tolerance is all the rage of our generation but there is a big difference between tolerance and forgiveness. Tolerance — the increasingly omnipresent theme of Western culture. Many people of the Christian faith have adopted this approach to life, suggesting that Christians should be part of a “kinder, gentler” Church that is tolerant of many things that were unimaginable in generations past. It seems to me that many are confusing tolerance with the Christian call for forgiveness.

According to the Random House College Dictionary, to “tolerate” means “to allow without prohibition or hindrance; permit.” On the other hand, to “forgive” means “to grant free pardon for or remission of an offense; absolve.” There is a very big difference. Tolerance implies an absence of wrongdoing; it is a victory of moral relativism over the presence of right and wrong. 

Tolerance, taken to its natural extreme, removes the notion that anything can be inherently right or wrong. Rather, everything should be OK for all of us if it is OK for the person doing it. Forgiveness, on the other hand, recognizes that there has been a wrong. Forgiveness involves granting a pardon to the wrongdoer without approving of the act being pardoned.

An obvious example in the Bible of the distinction between tolerance and forgiveness is the account of Jesus’ encounter with the adulteress. Despite her undeniable sin, Jesus forgives her, rather than condemning her. However, he clearly does not “tolerate” her sin. Instead, he says “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11 NIV) He does not tell her that what she has done is permissible. He forgives her but declares her acts to be sinful and commands her to change her ways.

We live in an age of offence. Everyone is offended. Everyone is angry. Everyone is enraged. And out of this offence flows bitterness, resentment, hatred, and unforgiveness. Jesus said, “It is impossible that no offenses should come” (Luke 17:1). All of us experience offence daily, but the critical question is how our heart will handle it. All unforgiveness comes out of offense and unforgiveness may be the greatest poison to the heart known to mankind.

John Bevere, The Bait of Satan: “As I travel across the United States ministering, I have been able to observe one of the enemy’s most deadly and deceptive traps. It imprisons countless Christians, severs relationships, and widens the existing breaches between us. It is the trap of offense. Many are unable to function properly in their calling because of the wounds and hurts that offenses have caused in their lives. They are handicapped and hindered from fulfilling their full potential…The closer the relationship, the more severe the offense. You find the greatest hatred among those who were once close.”

So many are wounded, hurt and bitter. They are offended and do not realize they have fallen into Satan’s trap. Every evil flows out of offense. Offense is a tool of the devil to bring people into captivity. The Greek word for “offense” means a “trap stick: the crooked stick on which a bait is fastened, which, being struck by the animal, springs the trap.” It is a deadly trap that springs suddenly and ensnares us in the trap of the Devil. This is why offense is called the bait of Satan as it gets the heart to fall into the trap of unforgiveness.

Matthew 24:10-13: And many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love (agape) of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved.

The Word of God can never grow and produce fruit in the soil of an offended heart. The Word of God will never grow in a heart plagued with unforgiveness.

II Corinthians tells us that a major device of Satan in his warfare against the kingdom of God is unforgiveness. Unforgiveness allows the Devil to get an advantage over us and entrap us in his snare. The Bible says we are not to be ignorant of this device of unforgiveness.

2 Corinthians 2:7-11: so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. 10 Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, 11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

We are continually outwitted by Satan because we do not forgive. Much of our confusion and misery in life is due to our underestimating (or ignoring altogether) the enemy of our souls. Some of us rarely think of Satan and his demons, and if we do, we often downplay their power and influence.

Do you want to know what Satan’s schemes are? He wants you to hold a grudge. He wants you to believe vengeance is yours, and not God’s. Forgiveness outwits Satan, and forgiveness subverts his wickedness. Satan loathes forgiveness. Forgiveness offends everything he stands for and fights against. He relentlessly accuses — morning, afternoon, evening, and night — hurling our sins, like stones, against us (Revelation 12:10). Accuser is who he is, and therefore forgiveness is his sworn enemy. Forgiveness contradicts his existence. Forgiveness defies his life’s work. To him, forgiveness is hostility.

Forgiveness can be hard because it fights against all the impulses of our flesh: “Did you see how he hurt me? Why would I make myself vulnerable again?” “The pain still feels so fresh and deep — how could I possibly pretend to be okay with her?” “This is the dozenth time he has done this to me. Haven’t I forgiven him enough?” “I’ll never be able to trust her again — how could I possibly forgive her?” What voices keep you from forgiving?

That means to withhold forgiveness is to play into Satan’s hands, to reinforce his war, to join his cause. To withhold forgiveness is an attempted suicide of the soul.

We as a church worship the hind legs off God figuratively speaking, then not lift a finger to do a single thing he says. Is such the case for Christians in the hard area of forgiveness? We worship God yet refuse to forgive. We praise God yet carry in our hearts a root of bitterness toward someone. God’s word is clear on the great duty of the Christian to forgive always without exception.

And Jesus calls us to forgive not just once, but tirelessly. “Pay attention to yourselves!” he warns. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him” (Luke 17:3–4). 

Returning to the dictionary, to “rebuke” means “to express sternly one’s disapproval; reprove; reprimand.” Jesus here is telling us, as Christians, to express strongly our disapproval of sinful behavior. Paul instructs us to do so publicly. If we have to express that disapproval seven times, then that is what we are to do, even as we forgive. We are NOT to tolerate sinful behavior by letting it continue without rebuke as if there is nothing wrong with it. We are NOT to allow our forgiveness of a wrongdoer to become an expression of tolerance for the wrong.

Maybe the most effective way to wage spiritual warfare today would be for us to more quickly and freely forgive. Counselor Ed Welch writes,

Remember, (1) the flesh has a sinful bent toward self-interest. It is committed to the question, “What’s in it for me?” (2) Satan is a liar and divider. Notice that the most explicit biblical teaching on spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6) is found in the book that emphasizes unity. Satan’s most prominent strategy is to fracture and divide. And (3) the world tries to institutionalize these tendencies. (When People Are Big and God Is Small, 196) “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12). Instead, we rush to forgive flesh and blood. And we wrestle “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). The rulers and authorities of darkness trade in angry grudges. The spiritual forces of evil breed bitterness and dissension. But we, those forgiven by God, defy and defeat them by wielding the precious and dangerous weapon of forgiveness.

We are ambassadors of a Kingdom that is all about forgiveness. The greatest example of forgiveness is when Jesus was beaten, betrayed, spat on, mocked, and crucified, in the midst of all His pain, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).Wow this is almost incomprehensible. Think about that next time you are confronted with unforgiveness.

There are many definitions of forgiveness, but a simple one is to surrender the right to hurt others in response to the way they’ve hurt us. Forgiveness means refusing to retaliate or hold bitterness against people for the ways they have wounded us. It is a unilateral act — not conditional on the person being repentant or even willing to acknowledge what they’ve done.

Forgiveness is not saying that sin doesn’t matter. It is not approving of what the other person has done, minimizing the offense, or denying we’ve been wronged. Forgiveness is acknowledging that the other person has sinned against us and may never be able to make it right. 

Unfortunately, I want to cling to my right to be angry and often resent being asked to give that up. It all seems so unfair. My flesh still demands some type of retribution. My resistance shows me I need God’s help to understand forgiveness and to truly forgive.

Forgiveness is an inherent part of God’s nature. Psalm 86:5: For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.

There are three Greek words for “forgive” which help us understand more in depth what it means to forgive.

1) Aphiema-To send away, dismiss, set free, express the discharge or acquittal of a defendant, to remit the punishment, where the guilty is dealt with as if he were innocent. When we forgive, we send the offense away, we set it free from our hearts and we declare the person NOT GUILTY and acquitted even if they were not innocent!

2) Charizomai: Forgiving (“given as an act of grace”) means literally to give freely and unconditionally or to bestow as a gift of grace and then to remit a debt, and hence to forgive. To forgive is to extend grace to someone. Who does not deserve some grace? God extended unlimited grace to us. Why is it so hard for us to extend it to someone else? Charizomai means to extend grace, to show kindness or to bestow favor. The present tense calls for this to be the believer’s continual practice, our new way of life (our “new garment” worn continually) as saints. Don’t say you can’t forgive, for what you are really saying is you won’t forgive. We can forgive others because He forgave us! As an act of mercy make the conscious choice to extend grace to others who don’t necessarily deserve it. In fact Paul uses the middle voice which pictures believers as those who are to initiate the action of forgiving and then to participate in the results of forgiveness, not the least of which is we free ourselves from the “prison” and “poison” of unforgiveness!

3) Apoluo-to let loose from, to loosen, unbind, to set at liberty, to set a debtor free, and overlook. When we forgive, we let loose the offense, we unbind it from our heart and throw it away never to let it raise its ugly head again. We set the debt free like the parable and set our heart at liberty by freeing it of its offense.

As mentioned before an unforgiving spirit is the devil’s playground: Ephesians 4:27 “Don’t give place to the devil” by allowing unforgiveness to dominate our hearts.

Unforgiveness is at the heart of every Church division and split throughout history. Unforgiveness is running rampant in Christianity today and it must be stopped. Its poison pill is being swallowed every day by Christians and it is corrupting their witness for Christ and destroying their lives physically and spiritually.

Galatians 5:13-15: For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

Romans 14:19: Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.

Ephesians 4:1-3: I therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to and beg you to walk (lead a life) worthy of the divine calling to which you have been called with behavior that is a credit to the summons to God’s service,2 Living as becomes you with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another.3 Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.

We can only walk worthy of our divine calling when we walk in complete forgiveness. God is begging us to honor our Lord by forgiving others. God says in I Corinthians 1:10: “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”

Divisions and disunity have all come from offense and unforgiveness. Won’t you answer God’s plea from this day forward and let forgiveness be the brand of your life. Do not let offense push you to be unforgiving, hard-hearted and bitter, but forgive like God in Christ forgave you and set your heart free. We must not allow a schism to arise in the Body of Christ because of unforgiveness, but we must have the same love and care for each other as Christ has for us. Then the gospel will truly set us free to live as His ambassadors for Jesus Christ on the earth walking in His amazing love and forgiveness.

I Corinthians 13:3-8a (Living Bible): Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, 5 never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. 6 It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. 7 If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him…love goes on forever.

Love never fails in any situation or problem. It is God’s solution in all relationships. Forgiveness never fails either for when you forgive you are fulfilling the will of God in any relationship.

For only forgiveness liberates us from a painful past to a brand-new future. Not to forgive is to suffer endlessly the torment of yesterday as both present and future are hopelessly overwhelmed and devoured by the past. Only forgiveness sets us free. Forgiveness sets us free to love like Christ loved in every circumstance, in every problem and with every person. According to Christ, no one is exempt from forgiveness no matter how bad they have hurt or harmed you. Remember Christ died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).

We must forgive; it is a commandment of the Lord: Colossians 3:12, 13:  Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive

Colossians 1:13,14: He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Ephesians 1:7.8a: In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, 

God lavished forgiveness of sins upon us out of the riches of His grace. Shouldn’t we lavish it upon others especially our Christian brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ? Forgiveness of sins flows out of the blood of the covenant-memorialized in Communion). Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22)

Forgiveness also provides healing for an entire nation: 2 Chronicles 7:14: If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Forgiveness is always the foundation of healing.

Nehemiah 9:17b: But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. God is always ready to forgive. Shouldn’t we? 

Effectual prayer that moves mountains is also linked to forgiveness: Mark 11:22-25:  And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received[c] it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Forgiveness should be the rock of our prayer life.

Matthew 18:21ff:  Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.[g] 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.

A talent is a unit of measure. It was used in measuring gold, silver and other precious metals. One talent was equivalent to 75 pounds. Ten thousand talents would be approximately 750,000 pounds or 375 tons. This servant owed the king 375 tons of gold. The price of gold currently is $1926 an ounce. So the servant owed the king in today’s dollars almost 23 billion dollars!! Jesus was emphasizing this was a debt he could not pay. 

26 So the servant[i] fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe. 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 

A denarius was approximately equal to a laborer’s day wages. So in today’s money one hundred denarii would be worth about $12,000. This man was forgiven a debt of 23 billion dollars, but refused to forgive a debt of $12,000. The offenses we hold against each other compared to the offenses that God forgive us for are like the $12,000 compared to the 23 billion. We may have been treated badly by someone else, but it does not compare with our transgressions against God. A person who cannot forgive has forgotten the great debt for which they were forgiven. When you realize God through Christ released you from the penalty of your sins, from eternal death and gave you citizenship in His kingdom as sons and daughters you will release others unconditionally. Every time you don’t forgive you are like this unforgiving servant in the parable who was forgiven so much but refused to forgive a paltry sum in comparison.

31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,[k] until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

An unforgiving spirit is the devil’s playground and before long it becomes the Christian’s battleground. If somebody hurts us, either deliberately or unintentionally, and we do not forgive him, then we begin to develop bitterness within, which hardens the heart. We should be tenderhearted and kind, but instead we are hardhearted and bitter. Actually, we are not hurting the person who hurt us; we are only hurting ourselves. Bitterness in the heart makes us treat others the way Satan treats them, when we should treat others the way God has treated us. In His gracious kindness, God has forgiven us, and we should forgive others. We do not forgive for our sake (though we do get a blessing from it) or even for their sake, but for Jesus’ sake. Learning how to forgive and forget is one of the secrets of a happy Christian life.

Bitterness-the fretted and irritable state of mind that keeps a man or woman in perpetual animosity; that inclines him to harsh and uncharitable opinions of men and things; that makes him sour, crabby and repulsive in his general demeanor; that brings a scowl over his face and infuses the words of his tongue with venom; Bitterness reflects a smoldering resentment, a brooding grudge–filled attitude, an unwillingness to forgive or a harsh feeling. Bitterness is the opposite of sweetness and kindness. In every recipe of unforgiveness there is the ingredient of bitterness. Every day thousands upon thousands people die in bitterness of soul, having never tasted the goodness of forgiveness. (Job 21:25). Hebrews 12:15: See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 

And so you ask, whom shall I forgive first? If Christ is your Savior, he calls you his own. He calls you clean; he calls you forgiven. Jesus said to Peter one day, “Whatever I have cleansed, do not call common or unclean anymore” (see Acts 10:15). So first, you must learn to forgive yourself. We have all made mistakes. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. Sometimes people can receive the forgiveness of God, but they cannot forgive themselves for what they have done. Accept God’s forgiveness, and then forgive yourself.

Once you are operating from that perspective, then it is easier to let go of the debt that somebody else owes you. It is not worth hanging on to any longer. There is a story about a bear coming up to a campfire where he finds a cauldron sitting on the open flame. He picks it up with his big paws and holds it to his chest. It starts to burn him, but he does not know enough to let it go, so he holds it tighter, not realizing that the tighter he holds it, the more it is going to burn, eventually killing him. We are like that with unforgiveness. We grab onto it, we hold it, and we feel justified. And even though it is hurting us, we refuse to let it go.

There is no room for grudges in the Body of Christ. To forgive is to release it forever, never to bring it up again. There are no conditions to forgiveness in the Bible as it is unconditional. Our forgiveness so often is not unconditional as we seek, desire, plan and try to carry out our revenge. We don’t want to forgive until the debt is paid in full, so we set up ourselves as the Judge and jury, but there is only one Judge and it is not us. Do not be in bondage to human justice. We really try to play God when we do not forgive. Unforgiveness in borne out of a prideful heart that refuses to humble itself and release the offense to God. Quit trying to defend ourselves and let God defend us. Release the unforgiveness to God and be set free from its poison. Unforgiveness is a breach that prevents restoration of a relationship. If God marked our iniquities we could never stand so we should not mark the iniquities of others. Psalm 130:3,4: If you Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared (respected, revered and held in awe).

The promise of God to you is if you will receive his forgiveness, forgive yourself, and forgive others, a whole new realm will begin to open to you—a whole new way of living, an understanding of his power, a release of his life within yours. You will be able to pull down strongholds, recover your family, and reclaim your purpose in life! Hallelujah!

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Why Celebrate Christmas?

Christmas is such a huge holiday all around the world, but why do we celebrate Christmas? Why do we celebrate the birth of Christ? What is so special about this season? To answer these questions, let’s go back to God’s first promise of the Messiah in Genesis.

Genesis 3:15 (Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible):

And enmity shall I put between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed,-

He shall crush thy head, but thou shall crush

his heel.

When it seemed that all was lost and the devil had succeeded in ruining Adam and Eve, God promised a coming Savior, who will redeem mankind from the penalty of sin and crush the devil into oblivion. The coming redeemer would restore everything Adam and Eve lost in the garden. This verse sets forth the fulcrum point of all history and defines the ceaseless battle that has raged since Adam’s fall in the Garden of Eden. This verse is the central theme of all scriptures, as the red thread of the coming Redeemer is interwoven into every book of the Old Testament. Its message is even written in the heavens, as each night the stars proclaim the sufferings and glorious triumph of Christ.

Who is the seed of the woman? In conception the seed comes from the male, but God’s Word clearly refers to the woman’s seed here. Galatians 3:16b “He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” The seed of the woman is Christ. He is the Savior, the Redeemer, the Liberator, the Messiah, the Second Adam, and the Conqueror over sin and death. The seed of the woman will “crush the head of the serpent.” The word “crush” in the Hebrew means: to break or smite in pieces and to greatly injure or wound.

E. W. Bullinger, in The Companion Bible, states:

When it is said (v.15), “He shall crush thy head,”

it means something more than a skull of bone, and

brain and hair. It means all Satan’s plans and plots,

policy and purposes, will one day be finally crushed

and ended, never more to mar or to hinder the

purposes of God.

God also states that there will be great enmity between the serpent and the second Adam, Christ. The word “enmity” in the Hebrew means: hatred and hostility with a desire to injure. There is no truce in this battle. There is no peace agreement. Satan has great hostility to everything that Christ represents. Satan wants to keep people in the dark about the great salvation and deliverance available through Jesus Christ. He does everything he can to turn people away from the Lord Jesus Christ.

The devil knew that there was a genealogical Christ line that would pass through Eve, as the seed of the woman would have to be born. Later, the Word of God was more specific that this Christ line would pass through Abraham and King David. The entire Old Testament is a record of the fierce attempts of the devil to wipe out the Christ line, and prevent Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman, from ever being born. Sometimes the survival of the Christ line rested on the faith of one individual like Noah, Joseph, Abraham, and Esther. Read the Old Testament with this truth in mind, and the Word of God will come alive in new and wonderful ways. The salvation and redemption of the human race depended on the preservation of the Christ line.  The devil even tried to genetically corrupt the entire human race with nephilim, or giants of wickedness, (see Genesis 6) so that the Christ line could never come. The devil tried countless schemes throughout the Old Testament to destroy the true knowledge of God and obliterate the genealogical line from which Christ would be born. But Satan was foiled again and again. He even tried to devour the infant Jesus through Herod’s decree of death, but God was always one step ahead of the devil in the preservation of His promise of the Seed of the woman.

The book of Romans sets forth the importance of this one man, the second Adam, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race for all who believe.

Romans 5:15,17,18 (Amplified Bible):

But God’s free gift is not all to be compared

to the trespass [His grace is out of all

proportion to the fall of man]. For if many

died through one man’s falling away (his

lapse, his offense), much more profusely

did God’s grace and the free gift that comes

through the undeserved favor of the one

Man Jesus Christ abound and overflow to

and for the benefit of many.

For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse,

offense) death reigned through that one,

much more surely will those who receive

God’s overflowing grace (unmerited favor)

and the free gift of righteousness [putting

them into right standing with Himself] reign                            

as kings in life through the one Man Jesus

Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One.)

Well then, as one man’s trespass [one man’s

false step and falling away led] to condemnation

for all men, so one Man’s act of righteousness                                          

leads to acquittal and right standing with God

and life for all men.

Jesus Christ by His death and resurrection made available the free gift of righteousness leading to acquittal from the penalty of sin and right standing again with God.  The court of God legally pronounces the declaration of acquittal when a man or woman confesses Jesus Christ as their Lord and believes God raised Jesus from the dead. Sin and death reign in this world because of Adam’s one act of disobedience, but now through the obedience of one man, Jesus Christ, and his sacrifice, we can reign as kings in this life and the one to come. Are you starting to see the true message of Christmas?

Ray Pritchard in his Commentary on Romans explains:

Death reigned. That’s our heritage from Adam.

Death reigns on the earth because of Adam’s

sin…Ah, but that’s only part of the story. There

is a way out. Notice the result of receiving the  .

Those who receive this free gift now reign in life.

We may through Jesus Christ reign as kings…

Only God could take a slave and transform him into a king.

So what Jesus did is far greater than

what Adam did. Greater in its nature. Greater

in its power. Greater in its effect.

What Jesus Christ accomplished at Calvary is so magnificent that it permanently crippled Satan’s kingdom and one day will obliterate every remnant of it from off the face of the earth. The death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the most important event in all human history, because he broke the curse of sin and death that hangs over the world like a dark cloud. He paid the price for the complete redemption and salvation of the soul of every person who comes to Him. Through Jesus Christ, righteousness is restored to a person so that they can stand in the presence of God without any sense of fear, shortcoming, guilt, or unworthiness. The ability to have deep fellowship and communion with the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ has been recovered and given as a gift to all those who confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Colossians further elaborates on this head crushing of the serpent by the Seed of the woman, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:14,15 (Message):

When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life,

you were incapable of responding to God. God

brought you alive-right along with Christ! Think

of it! All sins forgive, the slate wiped clean, that

old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s

cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants of the

universe of their sham authority at the Cross and

marched them naked through the streets.

Verse 15 (Phillips):

And having drawn the sting of all powers ranged

against us, he exposed them, shattered, empty

and defeated, in his final glorious triumphant act.

At Calvary, Jesus Christ stripped and disarmed the power and authority of the devil’s kingdom for every born-again believer. No devil spirit in the devil’s kingdom, no matter what its rank, can defeat you when you stand in the strength of the Lord’s redemptive work for you at the cross. In the Roman world, this was the highest honor that could be bestowed upon a victorious Roman general. It was called “the triumph.” It was an awesome display of the power, of the Roman Empire. It was a spectacle that few would forget its images, as the triumph declared to the world that the enemy had been overwhelmed and crushed, now to be publicly humiliated through the streets of the city.

How much greater is the triumph of Christ as the captain of our salvation?  What a triumph on the cross! What a victory against the forces of darkness! What a crushing blow to Satan’s kingdom! What a public display of victory to all those who have eyes to see and ears to hear! You become identified and in vital union with this triumph on the cross and all its glorious effects when you become a new creation in Christ.

Hebrew 2:14,15 (Wuest):

Therefore since the children share in common

with one another blood and flesh, He himself

also partook with them in the same, in order

that through the aforementioned death He might

render inoperative the one having the dominion

of death, that is the devil, and effect the release

of those, as many as who by reason of fear of

death through the entire course of their lives

were held in bondage.

Since the fall of Adam, the devil has wielded the power of death. Part of his dominion over humanity was in the form of death. Death has been an incredible weapon of destruction for Satan. Death is an enemy to every human being on the earth, and with its companion sin, the devil has held the human race in his firm grasp. 

The words “render inoperative” in verse 14 in the Greek mean: to render powerless; to make the force or power of something ineffective, and to nullify. The word “dominion” in the Greek means: strength, might, force, and manifested power. This brutal and horrible dominion of death, utilized so effectively by the devil, was broken at Calvary. The strength and might of death that the devil has used relentlessly as a weapon in every age of history was declared null and void. The major kingpin of his dominion and authority over the earth has been trampled under the feet of the Lord Jesus. God also promises in I Corinthians 15, and in the book of Revelation, that there is a day coming when this last enemy, death, will be destroyed off the face of the earth, and its sorrow, bondage, and destruction will be no more. There will absolutely be no death in the new heavens and earth.

I Timothy 1:10 (Amplified):

It is that purpose and grace which He has

now made known and has fully disclosed

and made real to us through the appearing

of our Savior Christ Jesus, Who annulled

death and made it of no effect and brought

life and immortality (immunity from eternal

death) to light through the Gospel.

The born-again believer who has put his faith in Christ as his Savior cannot be defeated by spiritual or physical death.  We have been reconciled to God in the new birth and made alive spiritually in Christ. We have been given the sure promise of everlasting life and spiritual death has been obliterated by Jesus Christ. Even if we die physically, the Lord has promised that at the Rapture, he will raise us from the dead and give us a new glorious immortal body that is not subject to the jaws of death. The devil’s main tool in the battle between good and evil, the power of death, has been mortally wounded and crushed at the cross. Physical death cannot hold your body in the grave, for there is a day coming when the Lord of glory is coming back; he will break the power of the grave and raise the physical body as incorruptible. Then we will be forever with the Lord throughout all eternity. What a gospel! How good is the truth about the Seed of the woman, Jesus Christ!

Romans 5:21 (Phillips):

The whole outlook changes-sin use to be the

master of men and in the end handed them

over to death: now grace is the ruling factor,

with righteousness as its purpose and

at its end the bringing of men to the eternal

life of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I Corinthians 15:20-28; 51-57 (Message):

But the truth is Christ has been raised up,

the first in a long legacy of those who are

going to leave the cemeteries.

There is a nice symmetry to this: Death

initially came by a man, and resurrection

from death came by a man.

Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes

alive in Christ.

But we have to wait our turn: Christ is first,

then those with him at his Coming, the grand

consummation when, after crushing the                                    

opposition, he hands over his kingdom to

God the Father.

He won’t let up until the last enemy is down-

and the very last enemy is death.

It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code

guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power.

But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three-

Sin, guilt, death are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus

Christ. Thank God!                        

Death cannot be conquered by science; death cannot be overcome by a political decree; death cannot be eradicated by a vaccine, and death cannot be defeated by any earthly power. There will never be a fountain of youth or some magical spell or potion to obtain eternal life. Death is the cruelest, most vicious, brutal, and lethal curse on the human race. Death does not bring you into some higher state of consciousness but throws you into the decay and corruption of the grave. Death does not allow you to float around as a ghost and have free movement while you haunt or help people. Death does not bring you into a reincarnated new life form. This is a most certain truth-death does not bring life in any way, shape, or form. Without the Savior Jesus Christ, death is the end of all humanity.  Death cannot produce, generate, or refine life. Death is the end of life.

Do you see why death is such a curse and lethal enemy according to Scripture? Once you understand the brutal and permanent nature of death, you can really appreciate the total victory that Jesus Christ accomplished with his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. Jesus Christ is the master over death and the conqueror of the grave. Immortality only comes with the good news of Jesus Christ.

Death was not the only work of the devil that Jesus Christ destroyed. The purpose of the Son of was to crush the works, policies, purposes, plots, and designs of the devil.

I John 3:8 (b) (New King James):

For this purpose was the Son of God manifested,                                    

that He might destroy the works of the devil.

This is why the devil has such hatred toward Jesus for he came for the express purpose of destroying and bringing to naught the works of the devil. He was sent to restore God’s magnificent purpose for men, women, and children. God wanted to bring children into His family again who would be fully righteous, justified, sanctified, and redeemed and have complete, vital, and intimate communion and fellowship with Him.

The word “destroy” is the Greek word luo, meaning: to loose something bound, to break up that which is compacted together, to dissolve, to sever, to break in pieces and to demolish. The word means “a destruction by undoing or dissolving that which forms the bond of cohesion.” Jesus Christ came to loosen people from the works of the devil and set them free. We all had a bond of cohesion to Satan’s kingdom through sin and death, but Jesus Christ dissolved the bond, and we broke free. 

One of the devil’s main tools in his battle with the Seed of the woman is ignorance. Satan wants to keep people in the dark about the great victory of redemption, wholeness, healing, peace, and everlasting life available in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Acts 10:38 (English Standard Version):

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth

with the Holy Spirit and power. He went

about doing good and healing all that

were oppressed of the devil, for God

was with him.

Every word and work of Jesus Christ upon the earth was good. Jesus Christ’s character, his habitual action, his personality, and manner of life was to do good. He was the Christ, the Anointed One, who lived, moved, and acted in all the authority and power of the Spirit of God. He revealed the truth of God’s goodness, grace, mercy, and love to a degree that had not been known since the Garden of Eden. He also shined a spotlight on the devil and his kingdom, exposing its methods, operation, and existence, which had never been previously known in the history of the world.

During his earthly ministry and even now, Jesus does good by healing all those who were oppressed of the devil. The word “oppressed” in the Greek means: to exercise harsh control over someone, to exploit, to be overpowered, to oppress harshly, to tyrannize, and to dominate someone.  The word “heal” in the Greek means to cure, to make whole, to cause to live, and to revive or recover from illness. It refers to both physical and spiritual healing. Jesus Christ destroyed the works of the devil by healing, reviving, and making whole all those who had been dominated, overpowered, and exploited by the devil. This was all part of his crushing of the head of the serpent. Jesus Christ is the great healer and restorer. 

Jesus Christ did the ultimate act of goodness by giving his life for you and me on the cross. When Jesus Christ was hanging on the cross, he was doing good. When Jesus Christ was being savagely beaten, whipped, and crushed, he was doing good, because he was bruised for our iniquities, wounded for our transgressions, and by his stripes we were healed. 

The fatal wound to the head of the serpent was delivered at Calvary and the empty tomb. The death sentence to both the devil and all his works was shouted out to the human race with three words at Calvary and three words at the empty tomb. Jesus Christ cried out, “It is finished” at Calvary, and the angel proclaimed, “He is risen” at the empty tomb. 

Luke 4:18  (Weymouth):

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because

He has anointed me to proclaim Good News

to the poor; He sent me to announce release

to the prisoners of war and recovery of sight

to the blind; to send away free those whose

tyranny has crushed.

Jesus Christ opened the prison door of every tyranny of mind, body, and soul and set us free. He crushed every tyrannical work of the devil that had previously broke our heart and spirit. He delivers all those who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity. He destroyed the devil’s work of separation and deception, and widely opened the door of access to our loving Father. Humanity feels restless, empty, and unfulfilled, without a deep, vibrant, and living relationship with their Creator God Almighty. How exciting to have God as your closest friend, your trusted advisor, your loving parent, and your strong protector. What a message we have in Jesus Christ!

John 1:17,18 (Amplified):

For while the Law was given through Moses,

grace (unearned, undeserved favor and

spiritual blessing) and truth came through

Jesus Christ.

No man has ever seen God at any time,

the only unique Son, or the only begotten

of God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate

presence of] the Father, He has declared

Him [He has revealed Him and brought

Him out where He can been seen; He has

interpreted Him and He has made Him


The word “declared” in the Greek means:  to unfold, and to make known by expounding.” Jesus Christ unfolded the heart of God to mankind that had never been known before in all of history. He revealed and made known the heart of God as a Father and showed the world His goodness in a way that had not been previously known. Jesus Christ brought the truth about God’s goodness and His character to a sick, dying, and lost world.

How exciting is the adventure of life with God when you really know Him and His character? How thrilling and awesome is living when you begin to understand the depth of His goodness? Jesus Christ made it available that we might be alive to God, in God and for God. Jesus Christ made it available that we can live our lives in a vibrant, living union with God on the most intimate level that you can ever imagine.

The word “seed” also implies that there will be progeny, children, a newly birthed people out of the finished work of Jesus Christ. What  completely blindsided the devil was the new creation that a man or woman becomes in Christ. This truth is an enormous aspect of the goodness Jesus Christ accomplished in His death and resurrection.                

II Corinthians 5:17 (NIV):

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is

a new creation; the old is gone; the new

has come. 

What a breathtaking truth that in Christ we are a new creation; we have a new divine nature; we are new people created in the likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we are His seed. The word “creation” in the Greek means: to bring something into existence that has not existed before. The word “new” in the Greek means: that which is new in kind or quality, and is something unprecedented, novel, uncommon, and unheard of.  It relates to something not previously present. This word “new” does not mean that something is simply renovated, but something that it is entirely new in species and character. 

By the divine will of God, He built a new spiritual nature in all born again believers. This new creation is of perfect quality and character because it originates from the creative heart of God. It is unprecedented in the nature of a person because it is a divine seed planted by God. We become partakers of the divine nature, and in Christ we have a dynamically powerful new spiritual nature. This is a spiritual birth and the seed of God within us is permanent, incorruptible, and indestructible. Once you are born of your earthly parents, you are always their child because you have their seed within you. The same holds true for the spiritual new birth in Christ, as this incorruptible seed of God is created within you, and you forever become God’s new spiritual son or daughter of God.             

Bullinger, in his article “A New Creation” expounds on this new creation:

What is it to create? Not to change, not to

renovate, not to reform, not to improve,

not the old nature adorned and beautified,

not the flesh with its corruptions and lust                        

trimmed and trained; but it is the new and

Divine nature imparted, with all its spiritual

blessings and holy privileges. It is not the

old Adam made clean or religious, clothed

and adorned. No! It is something altogether

NEW. Therefore in Christ Jesus, I am a partaker

of the Divine nature; I am a partaker of His

Resurrection-life, according to the Father’s

promise…A new Divine nature is not a mere

influence, is not a mere passing religious

feeling induced by ravishing music or pathetic

story, but a real existence in living union with

a crucified, risen, exalted, glorified, coming

Lord. What a glorious union!   

Satan had been the master of the human race from the Fall to the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, but in the resurrected and ascended Christ, a new day dawned for the world. The power of the great enemy, the crafty serpent, and deceitful slanderer has been permanently broken, crushed, and defeated in our wonderful Lord Jesus. We are a new people, a called out mighty seed, a glorious new creation clothed in righteousness. We have a new Lord, who has ushered us into a new age of spiritual, mental, and physical freedom and the crushing of every yoke of bondage that has held us in its grasp. We have a new destiny, as sin and death are no longer our emperors and rulers to whom we must bow and serve.

David Needham, in Birthright, Christian, Do You Know Who You Are?,  states:

When he saved you-a miracle that actually changed you…

by the new birth, I became a brand-new kind of person

The divine activity re-makes a man. He is born all over

again by the very Spirit of God…Perhaps this “new

personhood” idea seems far away from the daily activity

of your life. That still doesn’t change the basic fact. If

you have received the Savior, you simply are not the same

person you were before.

You may weigh the same, look the same, feel the same

but you are not the same…God has birthed you…children of God….

“Children,” not by adoption, but by birth. Christ… is now

reproducing himself progressively in the lives of the saints…

Now the last Adam [Christ]…is reproducing his very life-his image-in us!…

The believer enters not just into a private relationship with Jesus, but a

new humanity in which he becomes a new kind of man…Jesus Christ

is no less than the inaugurator of a new humanity.

We are the blessed progeny, the new humanity, the new species, the seed of Christ, and the children of the living God.  This is what the human heart has been craving for since the fall of Adam: a new creation, authored by God Almighty, that fundamentally changes who we are, and who we will be in the future. We have passed from death unto life, from sin unto righteousness, from condemnation to justification, from separation to reconciliation, and from enemies to beloved children. The first Adam’s disobedience produced a race of mortal people destined to die and to be ravaged by sin and its consequences. The Last Adam, Jesus Christ, through his obedience, death, and resurrection is producing a race of people who will live forever and be victorious over the terrible twins of sin and death and all their consequences. God’s ultimate plan after the Fall was to restore His original purpose of having birthed children live with Him forever on a perfect, beautiful, and amazing earth. The entire Bible points to Jesus Christ as being the agent, the mediator, the Savior, and the sacrifice that would bring about this restoration. The Last Adam, Jesus Christ, had to face the fierce enemies of sin, death, and the devil and he overwhelmingly conquered them all.

How the Christmas hymn O Holy Night comes alive in its lyrics: “O Holy night! The stars are brightly shining. It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.  Long lay the world in sin and error pining ‘Til He appears, and the soul felt its worth A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn, Fall on your knees; O hear the Angel voices! O night divine, O night when Christ was born O night, O Holy night, O night divine! Truly He taught us to love one another. His law is love and His Gospel is Peace. Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother. And in His name, all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we.

Let all within us Praise His Holy name! Christ is the Lord; O praise His name forever! His power and glory evermore proclaim, His power and glory evermore proclaim.”

Thank God for the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank God for the true message of Christmas.

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Keep in Love with God

We as humans have a hard time staying in love with something for a sustained period of time. We get bored, we get distracted, we get our fancy tickled by something else, and we usually walk away. Then we do it all over again. This is the cycle of love that engulfs the world. We toss things away when they lose their relevance in our lives.

The book of Timothy warns us that perilous difficult times will come in the last days and one of the characteristics is that love for God is nonexistent. 2 Timothy 3:1,2,5 says people will be lovers of self, lovers of money and lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. What camp are you in? Lovers of self or lovers of God. Lovers of pleasure or lovers of God? Lover of money or lovers of God? Whom do you love more? The reason people do not love God is that they have been seduced, deceived, and bamboozled. We are being seduced away from God to love something else more. Something is more important than God and deserves our love and attention. This is the great battle of love. Our entire life is defined by whom we love.

God is love in all its perfection. God commands us to love Him and to love one another. This is not optional. It should be the fabric of everything we are and everything we do. Love is the measuring stick of our Christian life.

Mark 12:29-31: Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 

Agapao: means a love, which is awakened by a sense of value in an object that causes one to prize it. It springs from an appreciation of the preciousness of an object and is a love of esteem for the value and worth of an object. It is to love with wonder and admiration, prizing the worth of the person loved. It means to cherish with reverence.

The figure of speech polysyndeton-many ands-emphasizing the importance of each of these four ways we are to love God. All our heart; all our soul; all our mind; all our strength. This is how we love God. It is a command.

Our thinking should be wholly engaged to do all it can to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all things.

Joshua 23:11: So take diligent heed to love the Lord your God. ”Diligent heed” means to guard, to protect, to watch over. It’s an attitude of attentive care. We must guard, protect, and keep a protective hedge around our love for God for it is always under attack from the enemy. The devil wants to steal, kill, and destroy your love for God.

John 21:15:17: When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 

Do you love the Lord more than these? What is the “these” in our life? Do we love him more than our house, our car, our sports team, our job, our success, our business, our money, our 401K, our hobbies, our self-image, our family, our goals, our opportunities, our ministry?

What is the temperature of your relationship with God? Is it hot, cold, or lukewarm? How much affection is in your relationship with God? How much passion is there in your relationship? How much of a bond is there between you and God? Does anything come between you and God? How much time are you devoting daily to your relationship with God? Is it a passing thought before you go to bed or night or a minute devotional before you start the day. Is He a backburner God or a second-string God? Is He just another contact that you mean to catch up with? Are you consumed with God?

We have so “evolved” in culture, that we just don’t need to be consumed with God anymore or, so we are told. Who needs God anymore as long as I have my iPad? Who needs God when I have the world at my fingertips from my computer in my cozy house? Who needs God when I have Netflix, iTunes, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and Xbox? God must be more than just on our mailing list. God must be more than just on our wish list. God must be a living, burning fire in the depths of our heart. God must be more alive, real, present, close, and looked to than any earthly thing. An electronic device may fascinate you for a moment, but it can never bring you peace, love, joy, or true satisfaction. It is a sad characteristic to this “enlightened” world that God is so dead in the hearts of people.  

It is sad to say that there are 10,080 minutes in a week and 524,160 minutes in a year, and we think we are doing God a favor if we spend 60 minutes a week for Him or 3120 minutes a year. We wonder why spiritual anemia is rampant in our lives. We wonder why God is not real to us and why we lack the demonstration of the power of God in our lives. The white hotness of your love for God is in direct proportion to how much time you spend with him. If we love Him, we will place our lives at his disposal.

The challenge is to keep the flame of God’s love alive in our hearts. Romans 12:9: Let love be genuine (without hypocrisy), vs 11: Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Fervent-boil with heat, be hot. Describes water boiling or metal glowing with heat.  Zeal, fervency, and service flow out of our love for God. Fan into flame the gift of God which is in you-2 Timothy 1:6. Feed it until it is ablaze. We need to feed and stoke our love for God, so the fire does not go out.

Look what happened to the love of these great leaders! 2 Timothy 4:10: For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. They forsook Paul, they forsook God, they abandoned their first love. 

Tozer: Man unlike any other of God’s creation, is uniquely created to experience God. Not to know God and His intimacy is to deny our fundamental purpose. Humanity has been guilty of revolt. We have broken with God, and the Bible teaches that we are all alienated from Him. That is, we-the human race-are strangers to Him. We have ceased to love and trust Him and enjoy His presence. Redemption simply brings us back to intimate fellowship with God.

Psalm 10:4: In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

The world does not love you if you walk with Christ. The world hates you. The world hates Him. This causes many to fall away in their relationship with God. When lawlessness abounds, it will test your love for God. Does it grow or fade? Does it burn brightly or wax cold.

Matthew 24:9-12: Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 

Wax cold-reduction of temperature by evaporation. Cool by blowing, to wane, to chill. The fervency and intensity of our love for God begins to wane.

Revelation 2:4: But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.                                                                               

Abandon-to depart, to send away, to let go, to desert, to leave. Have we abandoned our first love? Has the flame of our love flickered and been blown out? Who in this generation truly seeks Yahweh? Who in our age really seeks God’s face? The wicked has no room in their thoughts for God. They are dead in their love for God. But are we the same? Do we want all of God? Have we created a god in our own image? Is God our most treasured possession? We need to breathe in God’s presence daily. We need to live in the conscious, vital, living presence of God.                                                           

Love for God starts with a love of who is He is. More you know who is He and His characteristics, the more you love Him.

Psa. 42:1-2: As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. Does your soul thirst for God? Do you pant for God? How thirsty are you for God?

Love God test: I John 4:20,21: If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. We cannot say we love God and hate our brothers and sisters in Christ. How we love others is a measuring rod of how much we love God?

And as he came still nearer to the city, he caught sight of it and wept over it, saying, “Ah, if you only knew, even at this eleventh hour, on what your peace depends—but you cannot see it. The time is coming when your enemies will encircle you with ramparts, surrounding you and hemming you in on every side. And they will hurl you and all your children to the ground—yes, they will not leave you one stone standing upon another—all because you did not know when God Himself was visiting you!” (Luke 19:41–44, PHILLIPS)

Is Jesus crying over you this day? Is He crying out to you, ‘’Must your heart rebel against me forever? I gave my life for you. You have so much potential, so much promise, so much power because of my sacrifice! Why are you wasting it? Why are you not walking in my victory, letting me live through you? Why are you letting your heart become entangled in the trivial matters of this world that have no eternal value?” Jesus weeps over the wasted potential of His church and what could have been. He weeps over the many hardened hearts. He weeps over those who have been deceived. He weeps over those who are enslaved to sin. He weeps over the hearts that have waxed cold and forgotten their first love. He weeps over those who have closed their ears to His voice because they are offended at His words.

To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it. (Jeremiah 6:10, NIV)

You cannot love God if you do not listen to Him. Your ears determine the temperature of your love. Can you imagine having your ears so attuned to God that every day you hear His voice encouraging and helping you to be your best in your service for His kingdom? We are so accustomed to spiritual deafness that such an idea seems far-fetched and beyond our reach, but God wants you to know His voice like a loving Father and faithful friend. Pray that God awakens your ear to His voice.

Revelation 3:20: Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with me. 

Jesus is standing at the door of your heart wanting you to let him in so you can commune and fellowship with him with the deepest love. Will you open the door?

If Christ finds His chief delight in us, should we not delight in Him? Should not our principal pleasure derive from Him?  We can never get too much of Jesus or be too happy in Him.

The number one enemy of staying in love with God is idolatry. Idolatry dulls the heart for God, steals our love, and extinguishes the flame. Every problem that has ever plagued humanity can be traced back to the sin of idolatry. Tertullian called idolatry “the principal crime of the human race.”[i] Idolatry devours people, cities, governments, and nations. Idolatry has infiltrated every generation, hanging over them like a dark cloud, wreaking havoc like a deadly plague. Idolatry is the great destroyer of civilization.                                                                                          

The prophet Jeremiah proclaimed: “Look now, people of Judah; you have as many gods as you have towns. You have as many altars of shame”— (Jeremiah 11:13, NLT). The sad truth is that in America, our list of gods far exceeds the number of gods in Judah. We have pursued other gods with a fanatical obsession and have become a nation wholly given to idolatry. Surely God weeps over a world that has sold their souls to an endless list of worthless idols that have corrupted their relationship with Him.                                                                                    

Isaiah 65:1-4 NLT: The Lord says, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name. All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people. But they follow their own evil paths and their own crooked schemes. All day long they insult me to my face by worshiping idols in their sacred gardens. They burn incense on pagan altars.                                                                                              

Above all other things, idolatry breaks the heart of Almighty God for He created men and women in His own image and greatly desires fellowship, love, adoration, praise, and worship from His precious creation. But idolatry ruined everything and caused a wall of separation between God and the human race as they gave their love to another. Idolatry is the human choice of substituting their Creator for a thing, image, person, or ideal. Idolatry is an act of treason against the God who gave us life. The sin of idolatry declares God is not good enough, not great enough, not glorious enough, not complete enough, and not all that He claims to be. It says that something else is more worthy to be loved and served. Who do you love the most? Do we love God? Do we really love God or has an idol replaced Him?

The price to pay for idolatry is extremely high as it demands everything, and ultimately will destroy our lives. It chokes the life of God from our hearts. This condition of the idolater’s heart is described in Isaiah 59:11: “we grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the night: we are in desolate places as dead men.” The idolater has lost his eyes to see the magnificence of the God, lost his ears to hear the loving voice of the faithful God, lost his way to see the path of the righteous God, and lost his life to the service of a dead god that mocks his reason for existence.

A.W. Tozer said in The Knowledge of the Holy that “the essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.”[ii] Idolatry begins when we lose the sense of awe and wonder of God and relegate Him to a simple concept that gets lost in the thousands of other things that bombard our minds daily. God becomes mundane, unneeded, unimportant, and bothersome in the schemes of our lives, and other things become more exciting and valuable to us. This is fertile ground for idolatry.

“Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. “To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal? Some people pour out their silver and gold and hire a craftsman to make a god from it. Then they bow down and worship it! They carry it around on their shoulders, and when they set it down, it stays there. It can’t even move! And when someone prays to it, there is no answer. It can’t rescue anyone from trouble. “Do not forget this! Keep it in mind! Remember this, you guilty ones. Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. (Isaiah 46:3-9, NLT)

God has no rivals. He alone is God, and nothing from the tiniest blade of grass on earth to the remotest star at the far reaches of the universe, can be compared to Him. He is the first and the last; He is the beginning and the end; He was, is and always will be. He is unchangeable in the beauty of His character, and the holiness of his nature. He is everything we could ever dream Him to be in all His perfection, and a billion times more! God’s wisdom is infinite, His understanding limitless, His love fathomless, His righteousness untouchable and His mercy boundless. He alone has the right to be worshipped, praised, and loved above all else. How can we not love God?

Psalm 27:8 NLT My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.”

What do you do when the Lord calls? Too busy? Get to him later? How would you describe your relationship with the Lord? Is their affection? Is there a tender bond?

A recent survey indicated that the average Christian spends 8 minute a day in prayer and the average minister 12 minutes a day in prayer. Are we too busy for God? How often do we practice His presence in a day? How often do we seek his face? Do you know God? Really know Him? Do you know the Lord Jesus? Really know Him? Do we experience God intimately on a personal level daily? When was the last time you sought his face? Really sought his face?

Each day presents a new opportunity to experience God and fellowship with Him. Nothing should so occupy the mind of the Christian than discovering God in his day. When did you last seized Him and cleaved unto God and say, “Lord, I can’t go another inch without meeting You this morning.”

Dr. Tozer said as a mature man in his sixties that there were times when he lay on the rug for hours. He said, “I’m lost in adoration, I see Him in His glory, in His majesty, in His beauty. I can hear those holy beings crying, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord.’” And he said, “I’m silent in adoration before Him. I had no language, it is beggared.”

Have you forgotten to love Him? We fail to love because we forget God hours upon hours, and He doesn’t even enter out mind. One of the great flaws of the human heart is to fall into habitual forgetfulness of God. We tend to not remember God daily. A parent’s heart would be crushed if their beloved child forgot them. A bride’s heart would be wounded if her groom forgot about her love and devotion to him. There may not be a worse feeling for someone than to feel that you have been forgotten. No one wants to be a distant memory. Yet God is consistently forgotten day after day in the busyness of our hectic lives. God easily disappears from our thoughts with a troubling constancy. The heart forgets. The heart does not remember. God fades from our memory with a relentless persistency, and the heart of God is grieved that His very own children have so easily forgotten Him.

Can a virgin forget her ornaments or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number. (Jeremiah 2:32, ESV)

You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth. (Deuteronomy 32:18, ESV)

This is the great tragedy of forgetfulness that we live our lives unmindful of God, barely giving him a thought. We have forgotten the God who intricately knitted us together in our mother’s womb and beautifully formed every physical detail of our bodies. We cannot love God if we forget.

The Hebrew word for “forget” means to ignore, to wither, to cease to care. We must not allow God to wither from our hearts by ignoring Him and giving Him little attention. We cannot cease to care about God being at the center of everything we do and everything we are. We must never let God be labeled “the forgotten one” in the depth of our hearts.

It is sad to say, but most of us give more attention to our grocery list than God. We have become consumed with everything else, but God. We are consumed with our television shows, music, careers, schedules, success, sports, businesses, families, education, politics, fitness, comforts, and finances. We remember more about our iPhone apps than we remember about God. We remember the latest sport scores and statistics more than we remember God. God must be more than just on our mailing list when we send Him a nice card from our hearts twice a year on Christmas and Easter. For a Christian, God should be more alive, important, and thought of, than any earthly thing. God must be the living and burning passion of our hearts. We cannot follow the ways of this world where God is dead in the hearts of people. God must be more than a fleeting thought or a desperate prayer when we are in trouble. God must become the lifeblood of our heart, and the reason for every breath we take.

However, most of us have not given our hearts to God completely, without reservation, and with nothing held back. Too often we have honored God with our lips, but our heart is far from Him. We have a whole religious culture today with churches on every corner, but so few of us have ever really given God all our heart, with no strings attached. If God does not have your heart, then you will forget Him. God is knocking at the door of your heart right now. He is pleading with you to let Him in. Dine with Him! Abide with Him! Give Him the keys to your heart! Don’t shut Him out! Don’t forget Him! God cries out daily like He did in Proverbs 23:26: “My son give me your heart!”

The Hebrew word for “forget” has even a deeper meaning when we look at its word picture. Remember that Hebrew is a pictographic language, and each letter of the Hebrew alphabet represents a picture. The Hebrew pictograph for the word “forget” is Shin-Kaf-Chetand means what destroys the fence around the open palm or hand. He has put a fence or protective boundary around our heart that allows us to live separate from the chaos of this broken world. To forget is to tear down and destroy this fence.

You make the choice, whether your heart is going to remember God or forget Him. It is interesting that one of the root words for “sin” in the Hebrew means forgetfulness. At the core of sin is a heart that has forgotten the majesty, grandeur, and holiness of God. At the core of sin is a heart that has erased God from its thinking, forgetting His instructions, and deliberately choosing to follow another god.


I don’t know about you, but I want to finish this race the way I started. I want my marriage to finish even better than it began. I want my love for Jesus to increase. Everything in my being, everything in my voice, everything in my eyes simply wants to exude the deep relationship I have! Perhaps you started out so in love with Jesus, yet somewhere down the road that love has degenerated. In your heart you know that your relationship with Him is not what it used to be. How do we come back to our first love? I believe it starts with asking the Lord to ignite our hearts once again, and then simply reaching out and embracing Him.

Jude 21: Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.                                                    

The Greek word of “keep”: To attend to carefully, to guard; Keep is an aorist imperative, a command calling for “urgent” attention. Let love be the “atmosphere” you breathe and in which you obey.

John 15:9-11: As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. Abide in His love by keeping His commandments and your joy will be full

You see, the opposite of love isn’t hate.  It’s indifference.  “I don’t care” is far more painful than “I hate you.”  Hate implies strong emotional connection.  Just like love.  The relationship remains, even if it’s a hostile one.  But “I don’t care” wipes away the relationship.  Not hot.  Not cold.  Nothing.  It says, “You don’t matter to me.  You’re nothing to me.”  

God knows us intimately, like a best friend, a lover of our soul.  We are real, embodied, emotional, relational beings whom He chooses to deeply, personally, and compassionately understand. Do you know that God thinks about you all the time? Do you know that God’s love for you is immeasurable and unfathomable and to such a degree that it transcends human understanding? Do you know that God longs for you to fall into His embrace and to cleave unto Him with all your heart and strength? Do you know that God wants to be wanted by you, He wants to be loved, He wants to be cherished, He wants to be adored, He wants to be treasured, and He wants to be worshipped?  The Psalmist says that God’s thoughts toward us are so many and so wonderful that they cannot be numbered. 

God has always loved you no matter what you have done. God has always been there even in your darkest hour even though you may not have ever realized it. God will never give up on you for He is a loving God and not just a fickle person. God will never quit chasing you for His love for you burns deep and true. God is pleading to you, please let me be your God, your everything, your reason for breathing and let me bear my mighty arm for you and show you my goodness and glory. God has never forgotten you, not ever, not even for a second. Don’t you want to know and love this God? 

Don’t let you’re your love for God be diminished in this critical hour. Come back to your first love, whether you have walked with God for fifty years or for ten. Simply come back to that place where you love Him with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. We must have the flame of first love burning brightly in this dark hour. This is what our testimony should be; this is what will bring Him glory in our generation!


[i] Tertullian, On Idolatry (Whitefish: Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2004), 3.

[ii] A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1961), 3.

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Behold Your God!

Isaiah 40:9: Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”

Have you paused in your busy life to reflect on our awesome God? What do you perceive God to be in your heart?

A.W. Tozer says in The Knowledge of the Holy:

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us…No religion has ever been greater than its idea of God…For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God  Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at any time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God…Without doubt the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is the thought of God…That our idea of God corresponds as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance to us…A right conception of God is basic not only to systematic theology but to practical Christian living as well…It is my opinion that the Christian conception of God…is so decadent as to be utterly beneath the dignity of the Most High and actually to constitute for professed believers something amounting to a moral calamity…low views of God destroy the gospel for all who hold them…The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him…The idolator simply imagines things about God and acts as if they were true…The first step down for any church is taken when it surrenders its high opinion of God.

What is your mental image of God? What do you conceive God to be like?  Do you carry thoughts of God that are worthy of Him? You will go no further in your spiritual walk with God then the picture of God you carry in your heart. Our faith, our prayers, our trust, our worship, and our fellowship are all dramatically affected by the thoughts we carry about God.

Psalm 9:10: And they that know thy name (character and reputation) will put their trust in thee.

Faith is confidence in the character of God and if don’t know what kind of God He is, we can’t have faith. We must know the character of God. We need a restored knowledge of God. Today we have more Bibles, more books, more preachers, more missions, and more schools than at any time in history, but how little we know about the character, reputation, and name of God! We have lost the lofty truth about God, and the wonder, the awe, the majesty of Yahweh. This has led to a tremendous decline in our spiritual growth both individually and as a church. A.W. Tozer said, “One hour with the majesty of God would be worth more to you now and in eternity than all the preachers-including myself-that ever stood up to open their Bible.”

How much do we study and know about the attributes of God? An attribute of God is whatever God has revealed as being true of Himself. An attribute is what God is. The attributes of God refer to his fundamental, permanent, and unchanging characteristics. This is the most important knowledge we can possess. The knowledge of God begins with His attributes. Scripture tells us that God possess attributes about which we may know. What is God like? What kind of God is He? How may we expect Him to act toward us? How much do we know about God? God has revealed Himself in the creation, in the Bible and in His Son. Human character is not constant and varies with intensity throughout their lives. God’s attributes are perfect and do not change or vary. He does not possess them as qualities, but it is what God is. No contradiction exists in God. He is unified in all His attributes.

Jeremiah 9:23,24: Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, But let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice,  and righteousness in the earth. For in these                      things I delight, declares the Lord.”

We cannot understand Yahweh without understanding His attributes. The great purpose of all life is to know God in an intimate relationship. Only in a true knowledge of God does one understand their identity and their purpose in life. Hosea 6:3 says, “Let us press on to know the Lord.” Yet we live in a culture that mimics Job 21:14: “They say to God, ‘Depart from us! We do not desire the knowledge of your ways.” This is a life of chaos. This is a life with no eternal purpose wandering aimlessly in the darkness of this world. This is a true waste of life.

,here are literally countless attributes of God, but let us look at four attributes of God today that will help build our knowledge of God and expand our vision of Him.

God is Eternal    

This is one of the most amazing attributes of God and distinguishes Him from all creation. God is without beginning or end. There is never a time He did not exist, and there is never a time He will cease to exist in the future. God is timeless, always existing, and never changing. We are for a moment, but God is forever. He was God, is God and will be God forever. As God is, so He will be. This truth is so necessary to right thoughts about God that it cannot be overemphasized.

Isaiah 57:15 says that God “inhabits eternity.” In the Hebrew, the word “inhabits” comes from the primitive root meaning lodging, and is where one resides and permanently stays. It is where one settles down and abides. God’s lodging and permanent abode is eternity.

Psalm 90:2 (Amplified): Before the mountains were born or before You had given birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are [the eternal] God.

Isaiah 43:10: “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.

Tozer: We cannot think rightly about God until we begin to think of Him as always being there and being there first.

God never began to be. God was. God didn’t start from somewhere as God just is. Time cannot apply to God. There never was a time when God was not. God dwells in the everlasting now. God has no past and God has no future. Time is a little mark across eternity. God has no yesterdays and no tomorrows. God has already lived all our tomorrows. God never panics because God never looks at clocks or watches. We have become slaves to time, but we find our immortality and eternity in God and nowhere else. We need God for God is our eternity. God is our guarantee of eternal life and will one day take us into the heart of the everlasting now. He is the only one that has the promise of everlasting life.

We begin to see this verse in a deeper light.

John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

God never fades, never disappears, never dies, and never ceases to exist. His care for us is everlasting.

Psalm 48:14: that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.

God promises He will care for us and guide us forever. Pluralism is just another name for idolatry. There is only one true God. There is no other that is even worthy to be called God.

Isaiah 46:9b, 10: for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

Even a pagan king changed his concept of Yahweh.

Daniel 4:34,35: At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,   and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,  and he does according to his will among the host of heaven   and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand   or say to him, “What have you done?”

We bless, we honor, and we praise Him for God is eternal.

God is great

God alone is great. Everything in creation is dependent on Him. No comparison can ever be made between God and any other creature or thing. He is infinitely above anything in creation. God is incomparable. He defines greatness. God is greater than we can even imagine.

Nehemiah 8:6 Yahweh is the great God.

Jeremiah 10:6: There is none like You, O Lord; You are great, and great is Your name in might.

2 Chronicles 2:5b, 6a: For our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him?

Nehemiah 1:5a: I said, “I beseech You, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God…

Deuteronomy 7:21b: For the Lord your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God.

2 Chronicles 29:11: Yours, O Lord, is the greatness..

The Hebrew word for “great” means great in magnitude and extent. This word does not mean great in number. It is great in largeness and majesty. It is to be immeasurable. God cannot be measured or weighed. God cannot be confined or analyzed in a laboratory. There is no limit to God. Job 11:7b: “Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?” There is no end to God’s greatness. It also means to be great in intensity, importance, and distinguishment. Great in wisdom, power, and strength. Nothing comes close to the greatness of God. The unparalleled, incomparable, unrivaled, and unequalled greatness of God. It is the truth that is utterly relevant for everything in life. We are to be gripped by His awesome reality.

Psalm 145:3:  Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,and his greatness is unsearchable.

Deuteronomy 10:17:  For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe.

Job 5:9,10: As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number:

God is so great He does things that we think are beyond doing. The uniqueness and magnitude of God is wrapped up in this word great. We must never forget that our God is great beyond anything we can ever imagine.

God is omnipotent

This refers to the attribute of having infinite or unlimited power. God can do all that He has determined to do and no person or force can hinder Him.

Psalm 62:11b: “Power belongs to God.” What an awesome truth and this power is without limit.

Genesis 17:1: I am the Almighty God. The word “Almighty” in Scripture is used 56 times and is never used about anyone else but God. He is the Almighty-having absolute and infinite power that is never exhausted, never burns out and never has to be replenished.

God cannot contradict Himself in the exercise of His power. God can do everything that is in harmony with His Holy character. God is all powerful and thus has unlimited authority & influence. He has the ability to do whatever His will dictates. He has both the resources and the ability to work his will in every circumstance in the universe.

If you prefer a simpler definition, just think of these three words—” God is able.” That’s what omnipotence means. He is able to do everything he needs to do or wants to do. No one can stop God’s plans. No power can thwart His purposes. What God starts, He finishes and no matter how great the need, His resources are never depleted. He has unlimited power to carry our burdens and solve our problems. God is unlimited in His strength, capacity, vigor, and force. God can hold you up when no one else can. God contains, perpetuates, and sustains all things.

Jeremiah 32:17: Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

He has the same amount of power today than when He made the heavens and earth. God doesn’t expend energy, He is energy.

Luke 1:37: For nothing is impossible with God.

Psalm 147:5: Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.

Nahum 1:3: The Lord is great in power

Job 42:2: I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

Deuteronomy 9:29: For they are your people and your heritage, whom you brought out by your great power and by your outstretched arm

2 Chronicles 20:6, 12b: O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

Isaiah 40:26: Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing.

His power does not miss one thing. God is powerful, but personable. We can call Him “Abba Father.”

Psalm 115:3: Our God is in the heavens;He does all that he pleases.

His power is not constrained by the limits of human reasoning.

Psalm 29:4: The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

As Christians God has shared some of His power with us as a gift.

Acts 1:8: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Where is the power in Christianity? It was never meant to be a dead battery.

Ephesians 3:20: Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.

Ephesians 1:19ff: And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,  Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

We activate God’s explosive power by our believing.

People often ask why all the suffering in the world if God is omnipotent? God does bare His arm and exercise His power for those who trust and seek Him, but we live in a generation where no one seeks Him, but they still ask why. They also don’t understand that Adam committed high treason when he transferred the authority God had given him to the Devil. Lucifer has a limited jurisdiction upon this earth until Christ establishes His kingdom on the earth in the future. if God is not truly omnipotent, then evil is more powerful than God. This simply is not true as seen in page after page of scripture.

Psalm 23:4: I will fear no evil because you are with me. Romans 8:31-If God be for me who can be against me?

God’s unlimited power is a truth that we often do not believe and thus fail to utilize in our lives.

God is Faithful

I Corinthians 1:9: God is faithful.

The faithfulness of God guarantees that He will never be or act inconsistent with Himself. God will never cease to be what He is and who He is. He will always be true to Himself. God is His own standard. God imitates nobody and is influenced by nobody. He never acts out of character. Nothing can force God to act otherwise than faithfully to Himself and us-no person, no circumstance, nothing. God will remain faithful because He never changes. God is never partly anything as He is perfectly faithful in all He does.

Deuteronomy 7:9: Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations

He is the faithful God who never broke a promise, never violated a covenant, never told a lie, never said one thing and meant another, and never overlooked or forgot anything. He always fulfills every jot and title of His Word. If God said it, you can believe it. God cannot contradict Himself. God’s faithfulness should destroy our unbelief. Unbelief says somewhere else, but not here; some other time, but not now; some other people, but not us. We believe in miracles yesterday and miracles tomorrow but not miracles today. God is perfectly willing to do the impossible when His people dare to believe that He is the faithful God and meant what He says. Do you take God at His Word? When you read the Bible say “God wrote this and God is faithful and He cannot lie.” God’s words and works are also completely faithful.

Faithfulness communicates the idea of stability and certainty. God is worthy of absolute trust because He is faithful. We can depend on Him without any doubt or reservation. God’s faithfulness means He will do everything that He has promised in His Word.

2 Thessalonians 3:3: But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

2 Timothy 2:13:  if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

Hebrews 10:23: Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

I Thessalonians 5:24: The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

Lamentations 3:22,23: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Exodus 34:6: And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness

Deuteronomy 32:3,4: For I will proclaim the name of the LORD; ascribe greatness to our God!  “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.

Psalm 100:5: For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

God’s faithfulness depends on His power and immutability (He does not change). God has unlimited power to fulfill His promises and does not change His will on His promises. God is able to do all that He has promised.

I Kings 8:56: Not one word has failed of all His good promise.

Isaiah 14:24: The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.”

Psalm 36:5: Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,  your faithfulness to the clouds.

Numbers 23:19: God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

God is utterly dependable and reliable 100% of the time. He does not falter, fail, forget, or disappoint. There is no taint of doubt. There is no tinge of uncertainty. Faithfulness is what God is. God is worthy of trust and confidence because He is faithful. We can have faith in God because He is faithful.

Psalm 37:3: “Feed on His faithfulness.” It should be the diet of our soul.

You are a monument to God’s faithfulness.

There are so many more attributes of God’s character that we do not have time to cover in this sermon but provide a rich study for us. God’s holiness, love, grace, mercy, wisdom, goodness, longsuffering, justice, righteousness, omnipresent, omniscient, immutable, and truth. He is the absolute perfection of each of these qualities and together they form a unity of His character.

We know that this awesome great God has made a promise for our future. He is absolutely faithful and has the unlimited power to bring to pass this promise of eternal life and an everlasting kingdom. We will for all eternity shout “Behold our God!”

Isaiah 25:6-9: On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

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