Is It Biblical to Say “the Lord Gives, and the Lord Takes Away”?

You might have sung the verse in church or heard it at a funeral, perhaps as a way to explain the inexplicable: The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.

But what does this phrase actually mean? Is it biblical, and does it accurately describe the nature of God?

While the term “the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away” is biblical in that it does appear in the Bible, uttered by Job in a seemingly worshipful, accepting manner after his family and possessions are destroyed, it’s important to understand that it does not necessarily reflect the truth of who God is in relation to his love for humanity.

What Does It Mean, “the Lord Gives and the Lord Takes Away?”?
We find the phrase in Job 1:21, after Job—a man described as blameless and upright, who loved God, shunned evil and was the greatest among all the people of the East (vv. 1-2)—lost his 10 children, thousands of livestock, and countless servants in a single day. This came some time after God and Satan were said to have argued over Job’s character. God described Job as God-fearing, but the devil said Job was only so fearful and righteous because all had gone well for him. God then granted the devil power over all Job had, though He said the devil could not hurt the man himself (v. 12).

When the cursed day arrived and Job did indeed lose everything, he was devastated. He tore his robe, shaved his head, and worshipped God, crying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21).

Essentially, Job is acknowledging that despite what happened, God is sovereign. He rules over all and has all under control, and this appears to bring Job comfort. He does not blame God for any of this.

Is the Phrase “the Lord Gives and the Lord Takes Away” Biblical?
On one hand, the verse is biblical, meaning these words are indeed contained in the Bible. It is a statement uttered by a righteous man of God in the face of calamity. He’s lost it all, and he clings to the powerful nature of the Almighty God, who created us in the first place and gave us all the blessings we possess. It is a way Job is attempting to worship God, praising God’s stable and triumphant rulership when all else is lost.

And indeed, on the surface, there is truth in this. Genesis 1:1 tells us God “created the heavens and the earth” and went on to create all things in them—people, animals, planets, seas, stars, and more. Revelation 22:13 proclaims God as “Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

Elsewhere, we are reminded of God’s sovereignty. Colossians 1:16-17 tells us that in God, “All things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

Ephesians 1:11 says much the same, noting, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”

But taking a look at the entire book of Job gives us more context and understanding of the verse, which should not be read and interpreted on its own.

While at first Job praises this sovereign God who gives and takes away, later more destruction occurs. He is plagued with painful sores, and his wife and friends begin to falsely accuse him of bringing these sorrows upon himself—perhaps his sin prompted God’s retribution.

Soon, Job sinks into a depressive state. His view of God as one who would arbitrarily give and take away translates into despair. He sees it as an abuse of power, this God who destroys at will, seemingly for the fun of it. He moves away from God, and begins to see God as an enemy unworthy, perhaps, of his adoration.

As he finally utters in Job 30:20-22, “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me. You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me. You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; you toss me about in the storm.”

But ultimately, Job repents of this perspective. He understands he cannot define God as cruel or arbitrary. He cannot even say, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away” (Job 3:21).

As he reflects in Job 42:3-6, “You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.’”

Is Everything That Happens to Us because of God’s Will?
God does indeed have a plan for the world. He has a purpose and a will. And on one hand, God Almighty, who is all-knowing and all-encompassing, is indeed sovereign over everything. But not everything that happens is God’s will. For instance, God does not want us to sin, yet we do. In the case of Job, God was clearly delighted with Job, but while He didn’t cause the calamity to happen, He did allow the devil to do as he wished in the man’s life.

We cannot understand the ways of God, as Job ultimately concludes. But we do know God orchestrates all according to His ultimate purpose, no matter what.

As Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Why Does God Take Away?
It’s important to know that God’s plan is not for humans to live separated from Him by sin forever. He gave us temporary bodies on purpose, knowing that if we chose the true path—His Son, Jesus—we would be blessed with eternal life in heaven, where tears, sadness, and pain do not exist. Bad things do happen, but God uses them for His good purpose. And we can take comfort that when these bad things do happen, this world is not the end. Heaven is our ultimate destination. And the bad things we experience on earth enable us to be prepared for ministry in a deeper, more compassionate way.

We might not understand God’s reasons or even begin to understand a kernel of His plan, but we can trust that He loves us. We can trust that He makes a better way for us—a life removed from the sinful world and all its death and destruction.

A Prayer to Faithfully Trust God’s Plan
If you are in a place where bad things are happening to you or around you and you cannot fathom why a good and loving God can seem to give and take away, can seem to bless and curse in the same breath, here is a prayer that might help:

Father God, help us remember the words of Your servant Job, who understood after all his painful experiences that Your ways are beyond comprehension. I am but a human being, sinful and without full understanding. Some things are simply, as Job said, too wonderful for me to know. Help me, Lord, to trust that You are almighty. You created the world, and You have a plan that is being fulfilled. I might not be able to see it or even define it, but I put my faith in You, resting in the perfect peace that You are in full control. I surrender all to You. In Your holy and precious name I pray, Amen.

God knows all, sees all, and encompasses all. As God said through the prophet Isaiah, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

We can indeed trust God in good times and in bad. We are given this life, and breath in our lungs. Because of God’s great mercy and love, we are also given eternal salvation through His Son, Jesus.

This world and its happenings are not the end.

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Why Did Jesus Say John the Baptist Was the Greatest Prophet?

Okay, this is a VERY long post….so if you do not have time to read something long then I totally understand..but if you do have time to read this then I’d really appreciate it!

Who Was John the Baptist in the Bible?
John the Baptist was a great prophet. His birth was foretold in Luke 1. He is the son of Zacharias and Elisabeth. He would eventually be the one who baptized our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Look at Luke 1:11. The angel Gabriel appeared unto Zacharias and made the announcement about the birth of John the Baptist.

The angel told Zacharias to name their baby John. He shall be great in the sight of the Lord and shall not drink wine or strong drink. John would was filled with the Holy Ghost in his mother’s womb. He shall turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. Verse 17 states: “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Zacharias and his wife were both old in age. So, he questioned how this would happen to them. Gabriel reminded Zacharias that he was an angel of the Lord who stands in the presence of the Lord. “And behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things are performed, because you do not believe my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.” His wife Elisabeth becomes pregnant. Six months later, Gabriel goes to Mary announcing the birth of Jesus.

Let us fast forward in the book of Luke. After the virgin Mary is told that she will be the mother of Jesus, she goes to visit her cousin Elisabeth. Elisabeth is also pregnant and in her sixth month. Luke 1:37 declares “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” When Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb, and she was filled with the Holy Ghost.

After John was born and his mother named him. His father could not talk until after John’s birth. Some wanted them to name him Zacharias after his father. Elisabeth said no. John would be his name (Luke 1:60). When they asked John’s father, he motioned for something to write with. He wrote that his name is John. His mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed. All those around him became fearful.

Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost and prophesied saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people” (Luke 1:68). Zacharias had a lot to say since he could not talk for nine months. He spoke of John being the forerunner of the Lord. John grew and was strong in spirit. He lived in the deserts until the day he showed up in Israel. This was about 30 years of his life. His spiritual strength was developed in solitude for use in his public ministry (The KJV Study Bible, Barbour Publishing, 2011).

What Did John the Baptist Do in His Life?
John is also referred to as a forerunner of Jesus Christ. He was born before Christ in Judea, Palestine near Jerusalem. John the Baptist’s ministry is evident throughout the New Testament especially in Matthew 3 and Luke 3. In Matthew 3:1, we find John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea saying “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

He reminds the people that Jesus is the one spoken of by the prophet Isaiah. I know you are familiar with verse four. His clothes set him apart from other religious leaders in those days (The KJV Study Bible, Barbour Publishing, 2011). His outfit was made of camel’s hair, and he wore a leather girdle for pants. He feasted on locusts and wild honey. During those days, religious leaders would have worn fine garments to reflect their position.

He baptized many people in the Jordan River after they had confessed their sins. Pharisees and Sadducees came to get baptized. John rebuked them and told them to repent because judgment will come upon them if they do not. John makes it clear that he can baptize people with water unto repentance but there is one coming after him whose shoes he was not worthy to bear. Jesus will baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire.

Jesus came from Galilee to Jordan unto John to be baptized. John tried to resist this because he felt that Jesus should baptize him. Jesus told John that he needed to baptize him. “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16-17).

Why Did Jesus Say He’s the Greatest Prophet?

John has often been called a forerunner of Jesus. He preached all about the country of Jordan calling for repentance for the remission of sins (Luke 3:3). He taught that all flesh would see the salvation of God. He instructed those who came to be baptized to bring fruits worthy of repentance. He taught charity and said that if you have plenty that you should share with others. John preached even to soldiers that they should not do violence to any man, not to falsely accuse anyone, and to be content with their pay (Luke 3:14).

Also, remember that there is about six months difference in their age. They are also cousins through their mothers. When the virgin Mary visited Elisabeth, the Holy Ghost was present there as the baby leaped in her womb. He referred to John as the greatest prophet because of his boldness. He was not afraid to preach the Gospel. It was quite dangerous to do so in those days. John would later die for his faith. Jesus says in Matthew 11:11 “Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” When Jesus said this. John was already in prison.

How Did John the Baptist Die?
Herod put John the Baptist in prison because John told him that it was unlawful for him to have his brother’s wife. Herodias was divorced from his half-brother. Herod the tetrarch also had divorced his wife. He would have put John to death, but he feared the multitude who counted him as a prophet (Matthew 14:5).

During his birthday celebration, Herodias’ daughter danced for him. It pleased him so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she wanted up to a half of his kingdom. Read Mark 6:14-29. She asked her mother, “What shall I ask for?” Her mother told her to ask for the head of John the Baptist in a charger. The king was sorry, but for his oath’s sake and those who set before him, he granted her wish. He sent and beheaded John and his head was brought in a charger. She gave John’s head to her mother. The disciples came and took up the body of John and buried him and then told Jesus. After the news, Jesus departed by ship into a desert place.

Christians Need To Cling to FAITH When Life Knocks You Off Balance

“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 that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure’” (Isaiah 46:9-10).

Whenever bad things unexpectedly happen to us (like a job lay off, an unfaithful spouse, or a shocking doctor’s diagnosis), we can be knocked off our “spiritual balance.” It’s important at these times to realize that our troubles didn’t surprise God! When the bad news hit Heaven, God didn’t say, “No way, it can’t be!” God’s jaw didn’t drop. He didn’t go into a state of shock. And because God is not surprised by our problems, I’ve got good news for you – it means there is a promise waiting for you in your future.

Because of who God is (the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End), He exists outside of time. He has already seen your troubles and has planned for them. And because God is not surprised by your test, He has already arranged for your testimony; He’s seen your future, and provided a way out of your present situation.

God Provides for Us When Bad Things Happen

The Bible is full of examples of God’s provision for people ahead of their problems. For example, God made arrangements for Joseph to be placed in power in the palace of Egypt, before his brothers threw him into the pit, before Potiphar threw him into prison, and before his family would need his political influence to survive a seven-year famine.

God arranged for ravens to feed Elijah meat in the morning and evening even before he hid himself away in the wilderness. God lodged a coin in a fish’s mouth to pay the Temple tax, even before Peter and Jesus had a tax liability. And before the serpent deceived Adam and Eve into sinning and separation from their Creator, God provided a plan of redemption for mankind through the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). The only thing that should actually concern us is how do we get to that place where God has provided for our deliverance?

There’s a popular saying that goes like this: there are only two absolutes in life, death and taxes. But I believe there’s a third: sandwiched between you and the promise God has to deliver you from your problem, is a test of faith. As James 1:2 says “count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” Jesus also said it plainly in John 16:33, ”in this world you will have tribulation.” Since we can’t get around these tests of faith, we need to prepare for them.

By studying the life of Abraham and Sarah, we can learn three important strategies that will help guide us to experience God’s promises, especially when we have been knocked off balance by a trial which puts our faith to the test.

  1. Develop a “Test Ready” Kind of Faith

“Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am’” (Genesis 22:1).

Most Christians know of Abraham’s story, how God called the man Abram out of obscurity in the land of Ur and led him to the Promised Land. How this ordinary man, by faith and patience, became Abraham – the Father of our Faith – and received a promise that through his supernatural offspring, Isaac, God would redeem mankind with the coming Messiah.

In Genesis 12, Abraham embraced God’s calling on his life and left everything to pursue the promise of God. But after going 15 years without a child, Abraham began to question his calling, and made a series of bad decisions. Even so, in extreme old age, Abraham and his wife Sarah received their miraculous, promised son.

“Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why ‘it was credited to him as righteousness’” (Romans 4:19-22).

I don’t know about you, but when I read that description of Abraham’s faith, it seems pretty perfect to me. But then I realize that’s not the full story behind Abraham’s faith. It’s not where Abraham started in faith, it’s where he ended up. And along the way, he was anything but failure free.

  • He lied about Sarah being his sister to save his own life, and God had to rescue her from being prostituted to Pharaoh.
  • He was enriched financially from this deception, when Pharaoh paid him to leave the country (Genesis 12:11-20).
  • He did it again to King Abimelech, and again was enriched financially (Genesis Chapter 20).
  • At first, he laughed at the promise of God (Genesis 17:17); he then slept with Sarah’s maid and fathered Ishmael, who was ultimately rejected by God and sent away from his father’s house (Genesis 21:9-12).

If you are going to have a “test ready faith,” it’s not that you’ll never make mistakes. What’s truly important is that you learn from your mistakes and grow. You must be able to say next time it’s going to be different. Next time I’ll do it God’s way. Next time, I will absolutely get it right! You don’t have to be failure free, but when you learn from your mistakes, you will be prepared for the next trial and develop your test-ready faith.

  1. Trust God When Things Don’t Make Sense

“Then He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’ So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you’” (Genesis 22:2-5).

At this point in Abraham’s journey of faith, he had received his supernatural, promised child – the one through whom all nations of the earth would be blessed, the one through whom the Messiah would come. And then God says to him: Go, and offer him up to me as a sacrifice. And even though it didn’t make sense, Abraham took the boy up to the top of Mt. Moriah, and reasoned that God could raise the child from the dead.

Has God ever asked you to do something that doesn’t make sense?

  • Bless those that curse you
  • Do good to someone who has spitefully used you
  • Turn the other cheek when someone hurts you
  • Give to those who steal from you
  • Go here…when the logical thing is to go there
  • Say this… when the logical thing is to say that
  • Do nothing…when the logical thing is to do something

In order for us to walk in faith from where we are now, to the promise that is waiting for us in the future, we must be willing to trust God even when it doesn’t make sense. That is, trust that God always has our best interest at heart. It’s not our job to know how God is going to work things out; it’s our job to simply trust that He will!

  1. Be Obedient, Even When It Is Difficult

“So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ Then he said, ‘Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.’ So the two of them went together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son” (Genesis 22:6-10).

If somebody told you that laying hold of the promise of God was easy, they lied. Sometimes the obedience that is required is really quite difficult. It isn’t always easy to put God first, crucify your flesh, take up your cross and follow Him. It isn’t easy, but it’s often a necessary part of the process to develop the faith to receive the promise.

Abraham, sacrifice your son Isaac

Widow woman, give away your last bit of oil and flour

Noah, build an enormous ark

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, don’t bow, go into the furnace

Daniel, keep praying, and be thrown into the lion’s den

David, go fight that giant Goliath

However, big acts of obedience are often the final push that propels us out of our problem and into our promise!

“But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ So he said, ‘Here I am.’ And He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me’” (Genesis 22:11-12).

Ultimately, we are all on a journey toward God being our first priority. And that is the set up for the breakthrough! When God is number one, when Christ becomes the center of our lives, there is no promise from Him that we will not walk into.

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

“Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son” (Genesis 22:13).

It’s no coincidence that the ram was there, caught in the thicket near the place of sacrifice. It was part of God’s plan even before the problem existed. It was God’s miracle provision before Abraham even knew there was a mountain called Moriah that he had to climb in his future.

God, the Alpha and Omega, had already gone there and set the pieces into place for Abraham. He cleared a place for the altar, grew a thicket of bramble bushes, and provided the ram at just the right time for Abraham’s need. So Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah Jireh (Genesis 22:14), which means not just the God who provides, but more accurately, the God who sees in advance and provides!

God is never surprised by our problems. The same God who provided a ram for Abraham before he ever stepped on Mt. Moriah has seen our needs and has provided for us as well!

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What Does it Mean That We Are God’s Workmanship?

Paul wrote to God’s holy people in Ephesus who were faithful followers of Christ Jesus, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10, NKJV).

Other English Bible translations use words such as “handiwork, masterpiece, accomplished, creative work, or the product of His hand” (heaven’s poetry etched on lives) instead of workmanship.

In the Oxford English Dictionary, workmanship is defined as “the degree of skill with which a product is made, or a job done” and synonymous with craftmanship, which is “the quality of design and work shown in something made by hand; creative skill or ability.”

The truth that Christ’s believers are God’s workmanship reflects His works of creation, redemption, provision, and sanctification in every believer’s life.

  1. God’s Work of Creation in His Workmanship
    All human beings are created in the image of God, regardless of whether or not they put their faith in His Son, Jesus Christ (Genesis 1:26-27). All we are the clay, and the Creator is our potter (Isaiah 64:8).

God created the universe by His word: He spoke, and things came into existence. But it was only when He created man that He did something different: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

Therefore, unlike animals and plants, every human being possesses a spirit, which means having the ability to perceive spiritual realms or matters and the things of God, who is Spirit (John 4:24).

  1. God’s Work of Redemption in His Workmanship
    Because of sin, originated by the enemy (i.e., the fallen angel or Satan), God’s image in every human being is corrupted. As a result, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

This means that we are all sinners, by nature and by choice, and no amount of good works can save us from the penalty for sin: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

We all need God’s mercy and grace for our salvation. We all need God taking the initiative to restore the relationship — and thankfully, He did! (by sending His Son, Jesus Christ) — so that we can have peace with God.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:1-2).

This redemptive and restorative mission has been fulfilled by Jesus Christ, who came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). Here is the wonderful truth: God’s image in every believer is restored by Jesus Christ, the perfect, visible image (i.e., the exact representation) of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Romans 8:29), as we live in Him, and He lives in us.

  1. God’s Work of Provision in His Workmanship
    Everyone who trusts in Jesus can be sure that God is able to supply all our needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

As King David declared, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:1-3).

It is for His name’s sake that God provides all our needs. We can trust Him, the Possessor of heaven and earth, for our every need, including physical, financial, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Note that we are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus,” having been blessed, not only with eternal life but also with a new life (2 Corinthians 5:17) and abundant life (John 10:10) in Him. Praise the Lord!

  1. God’s Work of Sanctification in His Workmanship
    As we receive and believe Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit resides in us, making our hearts His home (Romans 8:9). By the Holy Spirit alone, we can realize that Jesus is Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3). The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, of our need for God’s righteousness, and of His judgment (John 16:8), and He guides us into all truth (John 16:13).

We live in a broken world and oftentimes our faith in Christ is challenged by the temptation and values of this world. Hence, we need God’s Spirit to continue to sanctify us from the sins of this world that could “pollute” our hearts.

And as we are God’s workmanship, the Holy Spirit ultimately transforms us into Christlikeness (2 Corinthians 3:18), producing the character of Christ and the fruit of the Spirit in us (Ephesians 5:8-10; Galatians 5:22-23). This means that our sinful nature (i.e., tendency to disobey and rebel against God) is replaced with a new, godly nature that desires to please, obey, and glorify the Lord.

The Purpose of God’s Workmanship
It is amazing to see that the triune God (God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) all participate in this workmanship, which displays His divine nature — His greatness and goodness.

And now, Ephesians 2:10 tells us further that we are God’s workmanship for good works, which He ordained beforehand that we should walk in them.

The preceding verses say, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NKJV). It is clear that we are saved by God’s grace through faith that should be manifested in good works.

In other words, God’s grace in our lives through Christ Jesus should result in good works, which, I believe, speak of our unique calling and purpose in Him. These are related to God’s original plan in creating mankind (Genesis 2:28), which is then translated into the Great Commission.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

These good works ultimately bring honor and glory to the One who creates, redeems, provides, and sanctifies us with His unchanging love. All glory to God!

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Should Christian Only Read Christian Novels?

Christians have debated the idea of whether or not they can read books outside of Christian novels for some time. Some legalistic Christians believe Christians should only read the Bible; whereas other Christians may believe it is within their Christian freedom to read whatever they want to read. The Bible gives guidance into all of these matters and the Holy Spirit will help direct you as an individual.

A Novel Idea
Christian novels have grown in popularity over the years with series such as The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of The Rings, and The Wingfeather Saga. All of these Christian novels are good to read, and most believers would agree that these novels are great for any person to read.

In fact, many Christians may encourage other believers and nonbelievers to read Christian novels in order to introduce the idea of Christ to them. Christian novels are great to read, but what about other novels? Many best-selling novels cause a raise of concern for believers.

When a Christian chooses to read a piece of literature outside of the Bible or Christian novels, they need to exercise caution, wisdom, and discernment. It is within each believer’s freedom in Christ to read the novels and books they desire; however, simply because a person can do something does not mean it is beneficial.

I have the right to do anything,” you say — but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything” — but I will not be mastered by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12).

Before reading a novel, Christians should run the content of the novel through Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”

We should only read things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. There are many secular books that do not contain anything sinful in them. Believers should never read novels that contain graphic materials, sexual concepts, or novels that promote an anti-biblical agenda.

A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “Would Jesus read this book? Will God be glorified through me reading this book?” Reading is a great gift that believers have received from our Heavenly Father.

Not everyone in the world has the privilege of being able to read, which is why we use our privilege with wisdom. God does not want His children reading novels about sins or novels promoting unethical behaviors.

Reading can help people relax, learn, as well as grow into better readers and writers. There are advantages of being familiar with secular novels as Paul gives us this example by being knowledgeable about the popular secular writers during his ministry.

Paul was able to quote the philosophers, which actually helped the lost become interested in his message (Acts 17:22-28).

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So, you are ignorant of the very thing you worship — and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands (Acts 17:22-24).

It is good to be familiar with secular novels, but believers should never read a novel that they believe will cause them to sin. We all have our own temptations, and it is wise for you to be aware of your own triggers.

If a book causes you to feel bad feelings or encourages you to sin, it is best to close the book, put it down, and return the book to the bookstore. Christians can read novels outside of strictly Christian novels; however, they need to be cautious and really know their own limitations.

  1. Reading for Education
    There are going to be times when a believer will have to read secular books, such as in the event of high school, college, or work training. There is nothing wrong with reading a math textbook, an English workbook, or an employee handbook for training.

Within secular high schools and colleges, it is highly plausible Christians will encounter many evolutionary ideas and professors will teach evolution as the truth. Secular universities downplay creationism as an old wives’ tale.

In the event of a Christian having to read these textbooks, it can cause the believer to doubt their belief in creationism and even cause them to express doubt in God. Rather than allowing these books to cause the believer to doubt, the believer should view it as an opportunity to grow, strengthen, and increase their faith.

There are many creationists scientists who have written science textbooks to prove creationism, such as Ken Ham. If you are not enrolled in a Christian school or university, you most likely will not see Ken Ham’s books; however, his books would be worthwhile to read in the argument for creationism. Thus, there are books outside of Christian novels that are beneficial to believers.

  1. Reading for Fun
    Despite popular belief, God does want His children to have fun. God does not want His children to have fun in the way the world views fun, such as drunkenness, sexual immorality, and drugs. These things are not true fun. In the same way, God wants His children to have fun with reading, but it has to be good, wholesome fun.

It is not fun to read about temptations that will cause you to sin against God nor is it fun to read novels in which the main character participates in unethical behaviors. As believers, we can read for fun, but we have to run the book through Philippians 4:8 as mentioned above.

God has given us each a brain and He wants us to use it. If we know the novel is not good for our spiritual growth, do not read it. If we know the novel will lead us into sin, we should not read it. We can read any book, whether Christian-focused or not, as long as the content glorifies the Lord.

Why Does Reading Matter?
As believers, we should want to do the right thing and only engage in activities that will honor God. If the novel does not glorify God and has questionable content, it is best to abstain from reading that specific book.

There are many great secular books out there that do have good morals to them — the Christian just has to discover them. We are all given freedom in Christ, but we must not misuse our freedom as Peter tells us “Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves” (1 Peter 2:16).

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Who Is to Blame for Jesus’ Death?

Jesus of Nazareth, also known as the Christ, was crucified. According to research, His death took place on Friday, April 3, AD 33 when Israel was occupied and oppressed by Rome. Before His death, Jesus had 12 men who were His disciples, and they traveled around the country preaching and teaching about the Kingdom of God.

And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him (Acts 10:38).

Jesus was doing good, so why was He crucified and who is responsible for His death?

Some Blame Judas
Judas Iscariot has long been blamed for the death of Jesus. We know from the scriptures that he sought out to betray Jesus. It was Judas who led the soldiers to arrest Jesus, betraying Him with a kiss.

Then one of the Twelve — the one called Judas Iscariot — went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over (Matthew 26:14-16).

Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him (Matthew 26:47-50).

Judas may have been responsible for Jesus’ arrest, but not for His death.

Some Blame the Jews
Many Jewish people have been persecuted and even killed for being, as some called them, the “Christ-killer.” What led people to believe that an entire people group was responsible for the death of Jesus?

Perhaps it was taken from Matthew 27:1-2, 20, and 22-25,

“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”

Or it might be taken from the nonchalant way Paul put it in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15,

For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone.

Many Jewish people played a role in what led to the death of Jesus. But many is not every.

The disciples were Jewish and 11 of them played no role.
Mary and the other women who followed Jesus were Jewish and they too played no role.

And then there is Joseph of Arimathea, who was one of the Jewish religious leaders who did not consent to Jesus’ death.

The Jews are not responsible or to blame for the death of Jesus.

Some Blame the Religious Leaders
It’s true that the religious leaders felt threatened by Jesus. This is because they had power over their people and the privileges they’d acquired from the Roman government.

If the people followed Jesus, they’d lose their power over them.

If they lost their power over the people, they’d lose their privileges from the government.

They had clear motives even though murder was against the law of Moses.

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death (Matthew 26:59).

The chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him (Mark 14:1).

Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered (Matthew 26:65-66).

Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor (Matthew 27:1-2).

But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed (Matthew 27:20).

There were religious leaders pushing for Jesus to be killed, but not all of them. Remember Joseph of Arimathea.

Many religious leaders played a role, but they’re not responsible for the death of Jesus.

Some Blame Caiaphas
Because we can’t blame the whole group of religious leaders some look at their leader —Caiaphas — the high priest.

Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled (Matthew 26:57).

Caiaphas was not only a religious leader, but also had power regarding civil laws. However, his power was allowed only at the discretion of the Romans who ruled over him. Due to that oversight, Caiaphas had no power to put Jesus to death and had to take him to the Roman ruler.

Due to Roman oversight, Caiaphas was not responsible for the death of Jesus.

Some Blame the Romans
Some find it logical to blame the Romans for Jesus’ death because of how He was killed. Crucifixion was imposed by the Roman government.

Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” “But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die (John 18:31-32).

Again, here we have the whole people group thing.

The Roman government was responsible for the way Jesus died, but not His death.

Some Blame Pilate
Pilate must be responsible due to the power he held, right?

“Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” (John 19:9-10).

Pilate made the decree for Jesus to be crucified, but he is not responsible for His death.

Who Is Really to Blame?
The death of Jesus was strategically planned by one. When they came to arrest Jesus, He said:

Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matthew 26:53-55).

When Pilate threatened Jesus, He answered, You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above (John 19:11).

Before it happened, Jesus said how He was going to die.

“No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father” (John 10:18).

When Jesus died, He did what He said — gave up His life, yielded His spirit, sent His spirit forth (Matthew 27:50).

The death of Jesus was an elaborate plan made by God Himself.

None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8).

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

The love of God is solely responsible for the death of Jesus — and His resurrection, so that we may be saved!

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Tests Christians Must Pass to Prepare for Your Calling

God has a call upon your life.” I hear that statement spoken so regularly, yet meet so few Christians who seem to know what their “calling” entails. In a culture that applauds vision, grit, and hustle to make it happen, how do we know when we are pursuing our calling or merely pursuing selfish ambition? Scripture offers some stunning patterns in how God issues a call upon people’s lives.

Maybe you’ve wrestled with your own calling. Life did not unfold the way you imagined and you feel forgotten or wonder if you missed it. You speculate if the stirring in your heart reflects the call of God. Or maybe you sensed a call but it feels stagnant and you deliberate how and when you might move forward. If the call feels too monumental, you doubt your ability to carry it forward. God, in His great grace, helps us to cease speculation by offering some samples of how He calls His people. An examination of these ancient Biblical patterns helps us discover God’s ways and His will for us today.

The Contrast of the Call
Most Biblical figures rarely responded with a resounding, “Now that’s what I’m talking about! I was made for this!” when God arrived announcing a call. Most experienced fear, expressed self-doubt or bewilderment, or the Bible does not offer an inkling of how they felt about it at all. I cannot think of a single scriptural instance in which the person prayed for a specific call of God upon their lives and God granted them an affirmative, “Yes.” More often than not, the assignment is one they never would have chosen for themselves. Something beyond their wildest imagination, like a virgin birth, or utterly inconceivable based upon their passion and giftedness.

Paul’s call fits into this pattern perfectly. Talk about vision and hustle, Saul the Pharisee sought the fast track to religious success. He cites an impressive resume for us: “a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless” (Philippians 3:5-6). Then Jesus showed up and rocked his world. In a heavenly vision, Jesus issued a new call upon Saul’s life: missionary to the Gentiles (See Acts 9:1-17).

His plan to rise above the ranks in the Sanhedrin became abruptly interrupted by a blinding light with a new call. Whoa! Paul left Jerusalem and headed toward Damascus in order to persecute and arrest those who followed Jesus. Until he became a follower himself. What displeased Paul even more than Jews who followed Jesus? Gentiles. Paul disdained Gentiles, yet now he would spend the remainder of his life serving them. An inconceivable calling.

5 Tests to Carry Out the Call
While the call itself seems unexpected and unanticipated in most scriptural accounts, walking out the call presents patterns to prepare us. Unlike the world, which tells us that when we are pursuing our call and giftedness we should experience exhilaration and success when we strive consistently, Paul’s example proves otherwise. We see Paul face five specific tests as he fulfills his call as a missionary to the Gentiles.

  1. The Test of Waiting. Paul waited a minimum of ten years since Jesus first appeared to him on the road to Damascus and he began actively ministering at the church in Antioch. Other than a three–year stint where he went down to Arabia to fully grasp the gospel of grace, we are not told how he spent his time. We know at some point he returned to his hometown of Tarsus, but that is all we are told. Until Barnabas arrived from Antioch to bring Paul to the predominantly Gentile church, Paul continued to wait for his calling to be fulfilled. We see a season of waiting often in Scripture beginning with Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Elijah, Ezekiel, Nehemiah, and even Christ Himself, living thirty long years before the onset of His ministry. God knows where He is leading in the round–a­–bout wait.
  2. The Test of Spiritual Opposition. After Paul spent a year of preparation teaching at the church in Antioch alongside Barnabas, both embarked upon their first missionary journey together. God allowed these men to bond in service together in a thriving church before sending them out to face opposition on missionary soil. Once on the island of Cyprus, they faced the forces of darkness. We see this same pattern with Jesus in Luke 4. God brings us into battle with evil so we learn to trust in His victory. When walking out our calling we should expect opposition.
  3. The Test of Emotional Opposition. After leaving Cyprus, Paul and Barnabas traveled to Iconium where their motives were questioned and their character slandered. When we step into the fullness of our calling others will downplay, distract and discredit us. Some might even desecrate us emotionally. God calls His servants to lean on Him emotionally in the oftentimes lonely place of living out one’s calling. Strife erupting does not signify that we have stepped outside of His call for us. Moses and David ran for their lives. Elijah and Ezekiel hid in foreign countries. The dynamic duo Paul and Barnabas disputed over John Mark.
  4. The Test of Praise. After leaving Iconium, Paul and Barnabas traveled to Lystra where they were worshiped as gods in response to a miracle. When God begins to do the unexplainable among and through us, people will start to praise the messenger rather than the Miracle Working God. Will we pass the test and humbly point them to Jesus or begin to think we are something special? Man’s heart is tested most severely in the crucible of praise. We must be prepared to handle God working wonders through us, in spite of us.
  5. The Test of Release.When Paul and Barnabas finished their missionary journey, they returned home to Antioch. Undoubtedly, they wonder how their fledgling churches would fare in their absence. It would be tempting to stay and continue to disciple each church for longer periods, yet they both knew they were called to spread the gospel to new lands. This meant letting God go and trusting God to finish what He had started through their faithful service. Sometimes in our calling, we can fall into the trap of being needed– as if God’s kingdom plans rest solely on our ability or involvement. We cannot release the good for God to call us to what is best. We have to let go of something in order for God to place His call within our grasp.

Preparing for the Tests
These tests often make us question our call as they are occurring. When the call feels so utterly foreign to our expectations we begin to believe our doubts and doubt our beliefs. Waiting exacerbates our confusion forcing us into greater faith. Opposition entices us to believe we are outside of God’s will for our lives. Praise invites us to move forward in our own strength and letting go of questions about our purpose or significance. Do you notice the one common denominator in the call? Death to self–reliance.

Whether you feel as though you are walking in your calling or waiting for it to be fulfilled, God calls us to intentionally prepare for what’s ahead. Passing these tests will never be easy. We prepare by intently examining these patterns of Scripture rather than self-analyzing or striving in our own strength. Are you walking through one of these tests? Chances are you are closer to carrying out your calling than you might think.

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Powerful Prayers of Thanks and Gratitude to God For His Many Blessings

Having a thankful heart can change your entire perspective and outlook on life. One of the best ways to experience the power of thanksgiving is to through prayer. Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic – with job loss, sickness and loss, we can experience blessings. When we offer a prayer of thanks to God, our focus shifts from our problems to our blessings. And that’s the beauty of faith – we can experience gratitude and give thanks despite the circumstances and storms that surround us.

We have a choice every day to give God thanks. Start expressing your gratitude today for His faithfulness and love in your life. Thank God for his sovereign control over your life. Thank God for the hope and joy that we regardless of how we may be feeling in the moment. Let him change your heart to strengthen you with HIS peace. The best way to defeat satan’s attacks of disappointment, fear, worry is through a grateful heart! We surely have so much to be thankful for because of the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ and the peace He offers. Let’s learn to thank God for all seasons of life. Below are some of my favorite prayers of “THANKS”. May they inspire and grow a heart of gratitude in you today.

Prayer of Thanks to God
Heavenly Father, thank You for caring about my life. Thank You that I can talk to You about everything. I have lots of concerns so I’m bringing each one to You. Thank You for promising to give me Your peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A Heart of Gratitude
Dear Lord, I praise You and I love being in Your presence. Thank You for the sacrifice you made for me on the cross. Thank You for helping my heart to rest in Your presence. In a busy world, it is here that I find truth, grace, and mercy. My heart is overwhelmingly grateful. As it overflows with gratitude, may You present opportunities for me to serve. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

Thanks for Blessings
Father, thank you for intervening in my life and allowing me to have a personal relationship with you. Thank you for your love for me today and forever.

Thank you for the blessings you’ve given me and my family. Help us use those blessings to bless others. May I live a life of true joy as I see you at work around me today! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

A Prayer for Thanks-Living
Dear God, I hate to say it, but I have been guilty of grumbling and griping about all my problems and trials. I have failed to be thankful and to remember that You are at work in my life, even through all the troubles.

Please forgive me, God. I want to be a person who keeps my eyes on You and praises You, no matter what may come my way. So, thank you God for these blessings (name them) and these challenges (name them). I know You are in control of all things.

I know You love me and work all things together for my good. I choose to trust You, Lord. Teach me to be a “praiser” who always finds the good… and not a complainer who always finds the bad. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

For Grace and Gratitude
Dear heavenly Father, please help me to accept both life’s little challenges and Your restoring help with grace and gratitude. Help me remember that no problem is too large or too small for me to call out to You. Please help me remember that a heart can be filled in with joy every day, not just the easy days. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Praise in the Storm
O Lord, thank You that You love me and that You give me comfort like no other. Thank You that You are a God who is well acquainted with all our grief and that You ache when I ache. Help me to remember that in the midst of struggles, trials, and utter heartbreak that You offer hope. You are the Author of Hope and Salvation. I praise You that through the sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus, all things are put under Your feet. Allow me to trust Your heart and believe that there is more to life than the heartache of this world. Allow me to lean ever closer to You in the midst of this fallen world. Thank You God for hope, peace, Your love, Your comfort, and Your salvation. Amen.

A Prayer for Blessing
Thank you for your great love and blessing over our lives. Thank you that your favor has no end, but it lasts for our entire lifetime. Forgive us for sometimes forgetting that you are intimately acquainted with all of our ways, that you know what concerns us, and you cover us as with a shield.

Establish the work of our hands and bring to fulfillment all that you have given us to do in these days. We pray that you would make our way purposeful and our footsteps firm out of your goodness and love. Give us a heart of wisdom to hear your voice, and make us strong by your huge favor and grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

For Hope and Joy
Heavenly Father, thank You for ordering my life. I choose to trust in You and find my delight in Your laws. I commit my ways to You and ask for divine guidance over my life. I rest in You, believing You’re working all things for good in my life. Come and have Your way in me. Keep my heart steadfast in hope, and fill me with joy today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A Prayer to Give Thanks to the Lord
Lord, teach me to offer you a heart of thanksgiving and praise in all my daily experiences of life. Teach me to be joyful always, to pray continually and to give thanks in all my circumstances. I accept them as Your will for my life (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). I long to bring pleasure to Your heart daily. Break the power of the enemy in my life. Defeat Him through my sacrifice of praise. Change my outlook and attitude into one of joyful contentment with my present circumstances. I thank You for… [Name a difficult circumstance in your life presently and thank God for it.]

Jesus, I want to be like You who obeyed the Father without complaint. You embraced the chains of humanity when You walked this earth. Convict me whenever I complain or compare myself with others. Give me Your attitude of humility and thankful acceptance. I want to be like the Apostle Paul who learned contentment in every circumstance. I choose to continually offer You a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that give praise to Your name (Hebrews 13:15). I long to bring a smile to Your face. Teach me the power of a thankful heart. I know that Your truth dwells in a thankful heart.

“I will give thanks to the LORD because of His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens” (Psalm 7:17-18:1). In Jesus’ name, amen.

For Faithfulness
Father, thank You for the testimony of Your faithfulness and goodness that I have in the cross of Christ. Thank You for Your loyal love and compassion that stocks my pantry with everything I need to live a life that pleases and serves You. Forgive me for the ways I have knowingly or unknowingly rebelled against Your truth. Resurrect the grand vision for my life that You have crafted just for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thankful for God’s Strength
Heavenly Father, thank You for life and hope and bravery. Thank You that even at my weakest, I can rely on You for strength. Remind me of the bravery You’ve called me to step into today, and help me to encourage others with the mighty hope of the Lord too. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

For Creating Me With Purpose
Dear God, thank You that in Jesus, I am equipped, enough and loved. Period. Thank You for creating me with purpose and potential. Please use me to change the world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Grateful for Salvation
Thank You Lord that Your finished work on the cross has made a personal relationship with You possible. You are our Maker and only You can truly satisfy. Thank You that we can seek You and that You can be found. Thank You that You minister to our spirits with Your Truth. Thank You that You are indeed our “Daddy” in heaven. In Christ’s name, Amen.

I hope these words inspire your own prayer of thanks to God and fill your heart with gratitude today!

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4 Significant Lessons We Can Learn from Jesus Washing Feet

  1. Jesus Came to Serve, Not to Be Served

It’s hard to imagine coming into this world, knowing that you are not here just for your personal benefit, but that you came to be a servant of others. This is exactly what Jesus came to do. Often we think of people who are leaders as people who are here to be served due to their position and status. Jesus was God in the flesh, and he didn’t expect special treatment. Instead, he came to show us a different way. He set an example that we should follow.

I wish I could say that it is easy to follow the example of Jesus, but it can be hard to do in the world that we live in. Our society is one where it is common to look out for our own good, not so much looking out for the good of others. We seek to be in a position of leadership, have celebrity status, or get an important position somewhere.

People in these positions are usually treated better than most and are given favor over others. What Jesus shows us is completely backwards to what society does. If we know Jesus, and have a relationship with him, we are to take the place of a servant. This does not mean that others are more significant than we are, but we are to be like our Savior who did the exact same thing for us.

  1. We Are to Show Others the Same Kind of Love That Jesus Shows Us

When Jesus washes the feet of the disciples, not only is he serving, but he is showing what sacrificial love looks like. He was about to be crucified on a cross and make the ultimate sacrifice with his life. The disciples did not understand what was about to happen, but Jesus was trying to set an example for them.

After he washed the disciples’ feet, he said to them in John 13:15, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” Jesus expressed his love for the disciples when he humbly washed their feet, and we are to follow in his footsteps and do likewise to others.

  1. Jesus Had a Healthy Understanding of Who He Was, and Where He Came From

There was no doubt that Jesus was secure in his identity. In John 13:3 it says, “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.” Jesus put his trust in the Father that he was completely loved, had a future, and knew his sacrifice had a purpose.

Being secure in who he was, he was able to love others perfectly, and not feel inferior because he was serving them. When we know we are fully loved, and know where our identity comes from, we don’t have to try to get it from our status or position in life.

  1. It Is Not True Humility to Deny Someone Who Wants to Serve Us

Sometimes it can be hard to let others serve us. When Peter found out what Jesus was going to do for them, immediately he responded, “You shall never wash my feet.” (John 13:8) In that same verse, Jesus responded by saying, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” Peter was not responding out of humility, but out of pride instead. He didn’t think that he could possibly receive what Jesus was about to do.

If he had not allowed Jesus to serve him like this, he might have missed out on one of the most important things that Jesus was trying to teach him. We must not assume that we are not good enough to be served by others. If we are too prideful to accept what others want to do for us, we might completely miss what Jesus has done for us as well. We must be humble enough to allow others to minister to us as well.

How Can We Apply These Lessons to Our Lives?
We can learn so much from the example that Jesus sets for us, but it is also important for us to learn how to incorporate this into our own lives. If we follow Jesus, we are called to become more and more like him. It is not always easy to be like Jesus because we are imperfect human beings, but the good thing is we don’t have to do it on our own. We can rely on the power of the Holy Spirit in us to serve and love others well. All we need to do is ask for help to carry it out, and for the wisdom to see who we can minister to.

Another important thing we need to realize from Jesus washing feet is how much He loves us. If we are trying to love others on an empty tank, we run the risk of serving and loving others for the wrong reasons. It is hard to genuinely love others well, if we don’t understand how loved we are. We may end up thinking that we are above serving others, or doing it and expecting something in return. This is why we need to spend time with Jesus and grow in our relationship with him. When we get to know him more, eventually loving others will be something that flows out of our relationship with him.

It doesn’t have to be complicated to love others, we can actually look for practical ways to do it. The first step is asking Jesus to show us who we can love on, and then looking for a need that needs to be met. This can be writing a note to encourage someone, paying for a meal for another person, opening a door for someone, or watching someone’s kids for them. There are many other ways to serve others, we just need to pay attention, step out, and meet a need.

When we start serving and loving others well, this is when we start to make an impact. Jesus can take the simple acts of kindness that we do for others, and change lives. We can play an important part in helping others come to know Jesus. This can be the result of following the example Jesus has given us when he washed the disciples’ feet.

What Does ‘The Earth Is the Lord’s’ Mean in Psalm 24?

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What Does ‘The Earth Is the Lord’s’ Mean in Psalm 24?

The earth belongs to the Lord and the Lord alone and He created it. This statement is in every Christian’s mind and as Christians, we are expected to praise God for creating the world and also creating us. Such praising is constantly being done by King David.

In Psalm 24:1-3, David praises God the Father and acknowledges that God owns the world, and the world belongs to God. It is a beautifully crafted Psalm.

David puts emphasis on God’s ownership and spanned ownership in these verses. The verses are divided into three — with three different emphases, themes, and meanings. Let’s analyze each verse of this passage further.

  1. The Earth Is the Lord’s
    And everything in it, the world, and all who live in it (Psalm 24:10).

The first verse pronounces God’s ownership to the world followed by the second line that supports the first statement of God’s ownership and expounds the span of God’s dominion.

The first verse is the boldest among the three verses. It is a strong statement that puts emphasis on the fact that God owns everything – the earth and every single tangible and intangible thing.

The verse has two themes: ownership and belonging. In terms of ownership, it talks about how God owns the earth, and yet in terms of belonging it talks about how we belong to God because God first loved us.

  1. For He Founded it on the Seas
    And established it on the waters (Psalm 24:2).

The second verse is more specific. David’s praise recalls God creating the heavens the earth, which we all know was the beginning of all things on Earth:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground — everything that has the breath of life in it — I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning — the sixth day (Genesis 1:1-2, 26-31).

David also specifies both seas and waters and emphasizes the expanse of creation. Additionally, he mentions the words “establish” and “founded,” which are the two themes of this verse.

Establishing and founding are two words that are beyond creation. Establishing means setting up a system or organization while founding means planning the beginning of something.

These two actions mean that God did not just decide in one day to create the earth, but He planned for it and also made a system of organization. That is why the Earth works as it does — it was well-designed.

God founding and establishing the Earth through such a careful degree of meticulousness is so inspiring and comforting. It reveals more about God’s passion and love for the Earth. The Earth is His masterpiece and like an artist, He crafts it and maintains His masterpiece.

  1. Who May Ascend the Mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place? (Psalm 24:3).

The third verse talks about the fact that no one can reach the level of the Lord. He owns the world, and no one can be like Him. Everything belongs to Him and only Him.

This last verse puts emphasis on who is worthy to be like God and concludes that no one is. It is a pressing and lucid statement that only God owns the world.

The theme of the last verse is the worth of God’s ownership of this world. It tells us that we are not worthy of Him, yet He made us and even took care of us and made us the tenants to the things that belong to Him.

It also tells us that God is so powerful and more powerful than any other being in this world. No one can surpass His power. Because He made the earth, it belongs to its power.

It also talks about assurance. We are assured that there is a God, God the Father, who is guiding us in this world that He owns.

David is bold in praising God. This reminds us that we should be bold ourselves by acknowledging that God owns the world and because He owns it, we should take care of it with all our means possible.

A Prayer for the Earth
Dear Creator God, on this Earth Day and all days, let me always be in awe of Your wonderful works of creation. I don’t want to take the details of the world You created for me for granted. Everything around me is wonderfully complex and splendid. You, Lord, are both an Engineer and an Artist that built a world to perfectly sustain life. But you didn’t stop there. You also made immense details that please all of our senses as well. There are beautiful things to see, sounds to hear, textures to feel, yummy food to taste, and even delightful aromas to bring us enjoyment. Thank you for the details of life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Tough Question: Can We Worship Any Way We Want?

God created humans to worship. In the Garden, Adam and Eve were able to worship their Creator face to face. In their rebellion, humans were cut off from the face of God. The Cherubim were set in place throughout history to guard the worship of God. First in the entrance to Eden (Genesis 3:24), then set on both ends of the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant (Exodus 25). Eventually, they were set to guard the Holy of Holies (2 Chronicles 3).

Though all of mankind was cursed through the sin of Adam (Romans 5:12), the Lord was gracious in letting His people worship Him from afar. God was specific in His commandments to His people regarding how sinners were to worship him (Deuteronomy 12:32), and the punishment for veering from that command proved to be severe. Consider Nadab and Abihu:

Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’ And Aaron held his peace. – Leviticus 10:1-3

In short, the two priests were flippant and disobedient (Exodus 30:9) with the worship they offered to God, and they died because of it. Granted, this is not the normative penalty for this sin, but because God’s character never changes (Numbers 23), the truth remains—God cares how He is worshipped.

You might say that this is simply an Old Testament narrative that doesn’t apply to the church today, but that notion would simply deny the immutability of God. We may not worship with burnt offerings under the New Covenant, but does that mean God is now indifferent about the way in which we worship Him?

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