PATIENCE:

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When everything is going our way, patience is easy to demonstrate. The true test of patience comes when our rights are violated—when another car cuts us off in traffic; when we are treated unfairly; when our coworker derides our faith, again. Some people think they have a right to get upset in the face of irritations and trials. Impatience seems like a holy anger. The Bible, however, praises patience as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) which should be produced for all followers of Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Patience reveals our faith in God’s timing, omnipotence, and love.

Although most people consider patience to be a passive waiting or gentle tolerance, most of the Greek words translated “patience” in the New Testament are active, robust words. Consider, for example, Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore since we also are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (NKJV). Does one run a race by passively waiting for slow-pokes or gently tolerating cheaters? Certainly not! The word translated “patience” in this verse means “endurance.” A Christian runs the race patiently by persevering through difficulties. In the Bible, patience is persevering towards a goal, enduring trials, or expectantly waiting for a promise to be fulfilled.

Patience does not develop overnight. God’s power and goodness are crucial to the development of patience. Colossians 1:11 tells us that we are strengthened by Him to “great endurance and patience,” while James 1:3-4 encourages us to know that trials are His way of perfecting our patience. Our patience is further developed and strengthened by resting in God’s perfect will and timing, even in the face of evil men who “succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes” (Psalm 37:7). Our patience is rewarded in the end “because the Lord’s coming is near” (James 5:7-8). “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him” (Lamentations 3:25).

We see in the Bible many examples of those whose patience characterized their walk with God. James points us to the prophets “as an example of patience in the face of suffering” (James 5:10). He also refers to Job, whose perseverance was rewarded by what the “Lord finally brought about” (James 5:11). Abraham, too, waited patiently and “received what was promised” (Hebrews 6:15). Jesus is our model in all things, and He demonstrated patient endurance: “Who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

How do we display the patience that is characteristic of Christ? First, we thank God. A person’s first reaction is usually “Why me?”, but the Bible says to rejoice in God’s will (Philippians 4:4; 1 Peter 1:6). Second, we seek His purposes. Sometimes God puts us in difficult situations so that we can be a witness. Other times, He might allow a trial for sanctification of character. Remembering that His purpose is for our growth and His glory will help us in the trial. Third, we remember His promises such as Romans 8:28, which tells us that “all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” The “all things” include the things that try our patience.

The next time you are in a traffic jam, betrayed by a friend, or mocked for your testimony, how will you respond? The natural response is impatience which leads to stress, anger, and frustration. Praise God that, as Christians, we are no longer in bondage to a “natural response” because we are new creations in Christ Himself (2 Corinthians 5:17). Instead, we have the Lord’s strength to respond with patience and in complete trust in the Father’s power and purpose. “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life” (Romans 2:7).

Prophet Nathan Emol

SHOULD A CHRISTIAN MAKE A PROMISE?

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A promise is a vow or pledge to take an action or an assurance that something will definitely happen. There is nothing inherently wrong or sinful about making a promise. In fact, the Bible records a great number of promises God Himself has made.

When Adam and Eve first sinned in the garden of Eden, God made a covenant—a special promise based on a personal relationship—to send a Savior who would “crush [Satan’s] head” and deliver mankind from sin (Genesis 3:15). God made more covenants with Noah and all mankind (Genesis 9:8–17), with Abraham (Genesis 12:1–3), with the Israelites (Deuteronomy 11 and 30:1–10), with David (2 Samuel 7:8–16), and with believers in Christ (Jeremiah 31:31–34). God has made promises to care for His people (Psalm 9:9–10; Matthew 6:31–33; Romans 8:28), promises to bless those who seek and obey Him (Psalm 37:4; Isaiah 40:31; James 1:5), promises to grant salvation and forgiveness to those who believe in Him and choose to follow Him (John 3:36; Romans 10:9–10; 1 John 1:9), and many more. Whatever promises God makes, He keeps.

Our promises are important, especially when we make a promise to God. “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin” (Ecclesiastes 5:4–5).

Promises can be beautiful and honorable and made for the good of others. But they must be kept. As we are imperfect humans, we should only make promises with care and introspection so they do not turn into sin. Promises can be easily broken or made with the wrong motivation, which may result in damage to ourselves or others. When making a promise, the believer should consider the following questions:

1. Is your promise made with the intention of harming someone else? Jesus declared that the second greatest commandment is to love others as ourselves (Matthew 22:34–40). Jesus also taught that we are to forgive our enemies (Matthew 18:21–22) and not take revenge (Matthew 5:38–40). If the promise is made with the intent to harm someone or seek revenge, it is sin.

2. Do you intend to keep the promise? Promises should not be made without a strict intention to keep them. Even something as seemingly benign as promising someone, “I’ll pray for you,” and then neglecting to pray is a broken promise. When it comes to swearing an oath, Jesus instructed, “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37). This can also be applied to promises.

3. Have you thought through your promise? Flippant promises can be dangerous, especially when made to God. In Judges 11:29–40, we read about Jephthah’s thoughtless vow to the Lord. In return for victory over the Ammonites, Jephthah promised to sacrifice whatever met him first when he returned home. Sadly, it was Jephthah’s only child, a daughter, who met him upon his return.

4. Do you have the power to carry out your promise? A promise dependent on someone else’s actions or on an unknown variable has no guarantee to be kept and therefore should be avoided. Promises like these can harm one’s reputation and make the person who promised them seem untrustworthy.

There is an old saying: “A promise made is a promise kept.” This is the standard of faithfulness that every believer should strive for. A Christian should make a promise only if he or she fully intends to keep it.

Prophet Nathan Emol

HOW CAN I LEARN TO STOP BLAMING OTHERS FOR MY PROBLEMS?

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For many people, blame is a favorite game when something goes wrong. Living as broken people in a broken world, we can easily find someone or something to blame when we are hurt. Sometimes it is true that someone else so violated our lives that the fault is his alone. When that happens, we have steps to take to right the wrong (Matthew 18:15–17). But if we habitually blame others for our problems instead of taking responsibility for the part we may have played, blame can become a way of life.

The following are some steps we can take to stop blaming others for everything that goes wrong:

1. Fully acknowledge the damage that was done. It may seem odd to begin a change by focusing on the problem, but that is the best way to process it so that we don’t have to carry it around anymore. Fully recognizing the hurt and injustice we experienced prepares our hearts to forgive and move on. Our hearts know a wrong was committed, and in pretending the wrong was less than it was, we do ourselves no favors. Recognizing the problem, grieving the loss when appropriate, and then committing to forgive the offender are important in changing the blame game.

2. Recognize the pride that lurks behind the blame game. Prideful hearts don’t want to admit wrong. It’s easy to see where someone else is wrong, but it’s not so enjoyable to admit our own fault. It helps to ask ourselves, “Did I contribute to this problem in any way?” We can usually find something we could have done better. Instead of focusing on what the offender did, we can redirect our focus to our response. Yes, that person was wrong, but did I respond the way God wants me to? Did I make the situation better or worse? When we recognize pride, we should confess it as sin and humble ourselves before God and before the other person (1 John 1:9; 1 Peter 5:6).

3. Lower lofty expectations. We cause ourselves much grief when we carry too high expectations for ourselves and others. Often those expectations are never communicated, but they are at the root of our bitterness and reflexive blaming of others. We think, “They should have done this,” or “They should not have done that.” When the word should enters our thoughts about other people’s actions, we have set the scene to start blaming them. Should implies an expectation that is going unmet. Surrendering our expectations to God and trusting that He will give us what we need helps calm us when we feel slighted or ignored.

4. Surrender rights to God. Human beings are rights-fighters. If we made a list of our assumed rights, we would probably be shocked. Common on most people’s lists are the right to be treated fairly; the right to never be offended; and the right to be respected, loved, or included. The problem is that God did not give us those rights; we conscripted them for ourselves. Blaming others for our problems often arises from a perceived rights violation. The fight to maintain bogus rights keeps us in emotional turmoil.

If we find ourselves blaming others a lot, it may help to make a list of personal rights we feel are being violated. Then, as an act of surrender, offer that list to God. Tell Him that you give up these rights, and if He thinks you need to be validated, respected, or included by others, He will see to it. James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” Giving our rights to God is one way we humble ourselves. He then lifts us up in ways that have nothing to do with pride or rights-fighting.

5. Turn blame into prayer. When we feel someone else has wronged us, we can tell God about it. The psalms are filled with expressions of the pain, hurt, and betrayal felt by the writers. But they didn’t stop with expressing the pain. After we pour out our pain in prayer, we can quiet our hearts and humbly ask the Lord for direction. Rather than blaming others, we can begin praying for them. If they were wrong, they need the healing and restoration of the Lord. Pray that God will change their hearts, convict them of their sin, and restore them to Himself. Every time Satan tempts us to grow bitter, we can use the temptation as a reminder to pray for the person who wronged us.

6. Repent of the entitlement attitude. Blamers typically have an attitude of entitlement they are unaware of. Similar to rights-fighters, entitled people believe they are owed something. We may have an entitlement problem if our thoughts sound something like this:

• “It’s his fault I didn’t get that job.”
• “My mom knew I wanted to host the dinner, but she hosted it to spite me.”
• “I’m not married because all guys are scum.”
• “I don’t have a girlfriend because women are shallow and greedy.”
• “Everyone else is further ahead than I am because they’ve had it easier than I have.”

Ridding ourselves of entitlement attitudes is like pulling thistles out by the roots. It’s difficult, but, once the attitude is gone, it can’t grow any more thorns. Those who blame others often blame God indirectly for bequeathing them an inferior life. Such blame of God must be confessed as well. We must admit that God owes us nothing. James 1:7 reminds us that every good and perfect gift comes from God. If we can breathe; if we can work, love, play, laugh, and experience enjoyment, then we are greatly blessed. God did not owe us any of that, but, because He is good, He gave us many things to enjoy. We are commanded to be thankful in every situation (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We cannot be thankful if we feel entitled to more.

7. Find the good in the situation. We tend to blame others when our life situation is not as we wish it to be. However, God says that He is ultimately in charge and will use everything for our good if we trust and love Him (Romans 8:28). You didn’t get that job you wanted? Perhaps you can thank God that He protected you from a job that was not right for you. You couldn’t finish college? Perhaps you can thank God for showing you that college was not the path for you. When we turn misfortune into an opportunity to give thanks, we rob our enemy, Satan, of a weapon he wants to use against us.

Taking personal responsibility for our lives and refusing to blame others for our problems is a mark of maturity. Blaming others for our problems only keeps us mired in immaturity. We also forfeit opportunities to learn from our mistakes, develop perseverance, and work in harmony with God to produce the character of Jesus in our lives (see Galatians 5:22–23).

Prophet Nathan Emol

WHY ARE THERE SO MANY FAKE CHRISTIANS?

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A Christian can be defined as a person who has, by faith, received and fully trusted in Jesus Christ as the only Savior from sin (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8–9). And in the heart of the Christian resides the Spirit of Christ (Ephesians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Romans 8:11). Now, “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9), and this person, then, is not a Christian. Thus, the term “fake Christian” is a misnomer. You are a Christian or you are not a Christian; one is either with God or against God (Matthew 12:30).

That being said, this question is certainly a legitimate one in the minds of many people. And this is likely due to the behavior of some Christians; however, it is also likely because of the behavior of many who think they are Christians or profess to be Christians, but who are not. The reasons many believe they are true Christians when they are not are many and varied. False teaching is certainly one reason. When churches eschew teaching sound doctrine, the end result will be congregants who do not know the truth of God’s Word. How can they keep in step with the Spirit, when the Truth is not in them?

Also, some believe their recitation of a prayer or responding to an “altar call” alone may have turned them into a Christian. Many believe their religious traditions, such as being baptized as an infant, secured a spot in heaven for them, or that their plentiful good works alone have put them in good standing with God. And, of course, some believe church attendance alone guarantees salvation. The point is that many who profess to be Christians are not Christians at all. Yet they complacently remain convinced that all is well with their soul. Sadly, many will live their entire lives believing they were Christians only to one day hear these words from Jesus Christ: “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:23).

The clear teaching of the Bible is that when someone is saved his life will most definitely change as he is a “new creation, the old has gone and the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). A true, born-again Christian will strive to bring glory and honor to Christ by living a life that is pleasing to God (1 Peter 1:15–16; 4:1–4). True saving faith will indeed produce works or “fruit” in the life of the believer (James 2:17, 26). Thus, if there are no works of love in one’s life, a careful self-examination is certainly called for. The apostle Paul instructed those in Corinth to do this very thing: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Indeed, any profession of faith that does not result in a changed life and good works is a false profession, and the professor is not a Christian.

Now, even though the lifestyle of true Christians does reflect the presence of Christ in their hearts, we know we are not perfect. Christians do sin, and the apostle John makes it clear that we deceive ourselves if we think otherwise (1 John 1:8). And when Christians do sin, there are those eager to use their “slip-up” to further denigrate the true body of believers. That is why Paul admonished the church in Thessalonica to abstain from even the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22) and to live in such a way as to “win the respect of outsiders” (1 Thessalonians 4:12).

What Christians will not do, however, is engage in repeated or habitual sin (1 John 3:6). One who engages in deliberate and habitual sin is simply proving that he does not know Christ and therefore cannot be abiding in Him even though he may live his life under the vast umbrella of religion and is thought, therefore, by many to be a Christian.

As believers mature in their faith, they will exhibit more and more evidence of their true Christian nature, such as their love for God, repentance from sin, separation from the world, spiritual growth, and obedient living. As Paul told the Romans, the genuine child of God has been set free from sin and has become a slave to God, and the result is eternal life (Romans 6:22).

Prophet Nathan Emol

TRUST:

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The words translated “trust” in the Bible literally mean “a bold, confident, sure security or action based on that security.” Trust is not exactly the same as faith, which is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Rather, trusting is what we do because of the faith we have been given. Trusting is believing in the promises of God in all circumstances, even in those where the evidence seems to be to the contrary. Hebrews 11 talks about faith, which is accepting and believing the truth that God reveals about Himself, supremely in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, the practical consequence of faith in God is trust, which we prove by living out our full acceptance of God’s promises day by day. Furthermore, it is by this trust that we are promised peace: “You will keep in peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).

The classic verse regarding trust is Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” This verse sums up the Bible’s teaching on trust. First, it is the Lord in whom we are to trust, not ourselves or our plans, and certainly not the world’s wisdom and devices. We trust in the Lord because He and He alone is truly trustworthy. His Word is trustworthy (Psalm 93:5; 111:7; Titus 1:9), His nature is faithful and true (Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 25:10; 145:13; 146:6), and His plans for us are perfect and purposeful (Isaiah 46:10; Jeremiah 29:11). Further, because of God’s nature, we are to trust Him with all our hearts, committing every aspect of our lives to Him in complete confidence. Finally, we are not to trust in ourselves because our understanding is temporal, finite, and tainted by our sin natures. Trusting in ourselves is like walking confidently across a rotten wooden bridge over a yawning chasm thousands of feet deep. Disaster inevitably follows.

Trust in God is a feature of many of the psalms of David. There are 39 references to trust in the Psalms alone, whether referring to trusting in God and His Word, or to not trusting in riches or the things of this world. It is on the basis of this trust that David finds deliverance from all the evil he encounters. Many of David’s psalms describe situations when he was pursued by Saul and his army, as well as his other enemies, and always did the Lord come to his aid. One thing that can be noted about biblical trust is that it always engenders further trust in our God. The man of God never stops trusting in God completely. His faith may be knocked, He may stumble, or He may fall into the foulest of sins, but “though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand” (Psalm 37:24). The man of God knows that, though trials will beset in this life, his trust will not waiver because that trust is based on faith in the promises of God: the promise of eternal joy with the Lord and the promise of an inheritance that “can never perish, spoil and fade” (1 Peter 1:4).

Prophet Nathan Emol