Category Archives: God

how can i receive god’s protection?

Because of man’s sin and the subsequent curse that poisoned the perfection of God’s creation, the world is often a dangerous place. People suffer every day from natural disasters, crime, car accidents, poor health, and more. It’s natural to seek protection from the pain and sorrow of life. Does the Bible promise us the protection of God when we become part of His eternal family?

There are many verses in God’s Word that seem to promise God’s physical protection. For example, Psalm 121:3 says, “He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber.” In verse 7 the psalmist declares, “The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life.” As Israel entered the Promised Land, God promised them that He would never leave or forsake them (Deuteronomy 31:6).

At first glance, it does seem that God promises to protect His children from harm. But if that were the case, why do so many Christians around the world struggle with persecution, illness, loss, accidents, and injuries? We all know Christians whose “foot” has “slipped.” Is God breaking His promise, or are we missing something?

First of all, we should interpret the Old Testament promises of physical safety in the context of the Mosaic Covenant. As the children of Israel were obedient to the covenant, God promised them various material and physical blessings—on their crops, livestock, children, etc. (Deuteronomy 28). The Old Covenant was very much concerned with earthly blessings, and physical protection was among them. This was the basis for Hezekiah’s prayer when he was smitten with a fatal illness (2 Kings 20:1–6). Throughout the Old Testament, we see God protecting His people in order to bring His plans to pass (e.g., Exodus 1:22—2:101 Kings 17:1–6Jonah 1).

It is important to understand that we are under the New Covenant, not the Old. God does not promise to keep believers in Christ from all physical harm. There are certainly times when He does mercifully shield us from situations where we would sustain injury or loss. Paul and Luke’s survival of the shipwreck in Acts 27 and Paul’s imperviousness to the snakebite in Acts 28 are cases in point. Today, however, God’s promises to believers usually refer to spiritual protection.

When we believe in Jesus Christ for salvation, the Holy Spirit immediately enters our lives. We are sealed for eternity and brought under God’s spiritual protection from that moment on. This means that, regardless of our future sins or the schemes of Satan, we will never lose the salvation God has granted (2 Timothy 1:12). There is nothing that can ever separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38–39). In addition, we are given freedom from the dominion of sin—we are no longer slaves to sinful thoughts, desires, and actions, but are born into a new life of holiness (Romans 6:22).

Throughout our lives, God will continue to “guard [our] hearts and [our] minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7), providing the strength, peace, and perseverance we need to make it through any test or trial. His Spirit grows in us fruit that will strengthen our Christian walk (Galatians 5:22–23), and He provides us with powerful tools with which we can fend off the enemy’s spiritual attacks (Ephesians 6:10–17).

There is nothing wrong with asking for physical protection from God, as long as we realize He does not always see fit to grant it. He knows we are strengthened by the trials that come our way, and in each physical trial, we are assured of His spiritual protection. So, rather than seeking complete physical protection from God, we can agree with James when he says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2–3).

Prophet Nathan’s Sermon

KEYS TO HEARING GOD’S VOICE:

Most people want to hear God’s voice when they are facing a decision. If only God would speak to them and tell them which choice to make or which direction to embark upon. Many people will claim to have heard God’s voice, saying, “God led me to do this,” when in fact it was simply their own thoughts and desires that led them in a particular direction.

The primary way that God speaks to us today is through His revealed, written Word. When we want to hear God’s voice, the Bible is where we should look. Most of the will of God for our lives is already fully revealed in its pages, and it is simply a matter of our obedience to it. All of Scripture is the will of God, but there are a few places in Scripture that specifically use the term will of God, which may be especially interesting to a person who wants to hear God’s voice:

• 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

• 1 Thessalonians 4:3: “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality.”

• 1 Peter 2:12–15: “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.”

Other passages also let us hear God’s voice, even if they don’t use the phrase the will of God. But, just taking the three above passages, we know that a Christian should always give thanks in every circumstance, avoid sexual immorality, and live an exemplary life. If a Christian does not follow these clear dictates given directly by God through inspired Scripture, why should he or she expect to hear more information from God? If you want further direction from God, obey what He has already told you. A heart willing to listen and obey is the key to hearing from God.

The primary way that a Christian hears God’s voice is through reading and studying Scripture and then obeying and applying what the Scripture says. People often rely upon “the leading of the Holy Spirit,” which is spoken of in Romans 8:14. In context, the passage speaks of the Spirit’s leading us away from sinful activity and into a confidence in our relationship with God as Father. The Holy Spirit will never lead contrary to Scripture. If a person is considering having an affair, the Spirit will only lead in one direction—toward marital fidelity. The Spirit might very well bring a verse like 1 Thessalonians 4:3 to mind for the person being tempted. When the Spirit leads, He is not imparting “new” information as much as He is impressing on our hearts the truth God has already revealed in Scripture and applying it to our situation. If a person says, “God told me” or “The Spirit led me to do such and such,” and the action taken is contrary to Scripture, we can be sure the person is mistaken.

We can also hear God’s voice as God speaks through other people. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). Good counselors or advisers can help us see a situation with new eyes. Again, the Bible is key. Biblical preaching and biblically sound Christian material can be put in the “advisers” category. The Word of God is the control. If a bunch of counselors advise a person to do something contrary to Scripture, then they are all wrong, no matter what their credentials; however, if the advisers help an individual understand and apply Scripture, then they can be helpful. Godly advisers can often see areas that an individual is blind to. A group of advisers may discern that the person seeking to hear God’s voice concerning a particular plan is in reality seeking approval of his own personal agenda.

Another way to hear God’s voice is to pray and ask for wisdom: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5). When a Christian is facing difficult circumstances and needs to hear from God, the Christian should ask for the wisdom that God promises to give. This wisdom will ultimately come from God, but it may come through the word of a friend; through a sermon, article, or book; or from the inner prompting of the Holy Spirit. Once again, the written Word of God is the standard by which all thoughts, actions, ideas, and feelings must be judged.

In this day of self-proclaimed prophets and the promotion of “new revelations” from God, people often mistake the voice of God for their own thoughts or the suggestions of other people. If you are hearing God’s voice, then the message will always be in accord with Scripture. We should all take great care not to misrepresent God. Instead of saying, “God told me this,” a better approach would be to say, “I think God may be saying this—what do you think?”

People often want to hear a specific word from God when He has already spoken in a general sense. For instance, a person may be deliberating the choice of whether to take the family on a short-term mission trip or on a vacation to the beach. Perhaps a specific word from God is unnecessary. What is really called for is wisdom. Which trip will most benefit the family? Which trip will most benefit the kingdom of God? The family will benefit by building the kingdom. The kingdom will benefit from a strong family. Either one could be a good choice. Other factors such as expense and the current state of the family should be considered. (Are the kids selfish and entitled so they need to see how other people live? Has the family been under a lot of stress and needs to get away and relax? Are the costs comparable? If not, which can they afford?) If they go to the beach, they look for opportunities to share their faith and be an encouragement to other believers. If they go on the mission trip, they look for ways to build bonds with each other and enjoy themselves as a family. Both options are good. Neither is inherently sinful. In the end, the husband and wife come to some agreement and throw themselves into it wholeheartedly, trusting that, if the decision is wrong, God will somehow make it clear to them that they should do something different. How will He do this? Probably not through an audible voice but through a combination of circumstances, advice from other people, evaluation of their priorities based on God’s Word, and a lack of inner peace from the Holy Spirit.

Prophet Nathan Emol

HOW CAN I KNOW HOW TO PROPERLY WORSHIP GOD?

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Worship can be defined as the act of honoring and loving a deity, idol or person in a “selfless” manner. The act of worship involves the total self in giving praise, thanksgiving and reverence to that deity, person or material object. It is not a half-hearted affair, and it is only after we distinguish between that which is and isn’t worship, with regards to the divine objective, that we can begin to answer the above question more fully. True, biblical worship, as defined by the scholar A. W. Pink (1886 – 1952) in his exposition of the gospel of John, says this: “It is a redeemed heart, occupied with God, expressing itself in adoration and thanksgiving.” Likewise, A. W. Tozer said, “True worship is to be so personally and hopelessly in love with God, that the idea of a transfer of affection never even remotely exists.”

So, the true worship of God is distinguished by the following criteria: first, it comes from the redeemed heart of a man or woman who has been justified before God by faith and who is trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness of sins. How can one worship the God of heaven if his sin has not been dealt with? Never can that worship be acceptable that proceeds from an unregenerate heart where Satan, self and the world hold sway (2 Timothy 2:26; 1 John 2:15). Any worship, other than that from a “washed” heart, is vain.

Second, true worship of God comes from a heart that desires Him alone. This was precisely where the Samaritan people erred; they sought to worship both God and idols (2 Kings 17:28-41), and this is reaffirmed by the Lord Jesus Christ when He discourses on the subject of true worship with the Samaritan woman who came to fetch water from the well. “You Samaritans worship what you do not know” (John 4:22). These people worshiped God “half-heartedly” because their total affection was not set on God. It is possible for even true believers to fall into this second error. We might not assent to having physical idols, like the Samaritans did, but what absorbs our will, our time, our resources most of all? Is it careers, material possessions, money, health, even our families? Let us cry out, like King David in Psalm 63:5, “My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips, my mouth will praise you.” Nothing less than God should satisfy the heart of the regenerate man, and his response to that divine satisfaction, comparable to the best food ever, is the fruit of lips that sing God’s praise (Hebrews 13:15).

Third, true worship of God is the desire to continue to build up our knowledge of God. How we have lost that desire in these days! Apart from the Bible, which we should be reading daily, we need to supplement our knowledge by reading other good books, too. We need to fill our minds constantly with the things of God; God should always be on our mind, and everything we do should be done with reference to Him (Colossians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 10:31). It is interesting that the Greek word for “worship” in Romans 12:1 can also mean “service.” So, our daily lives should also be considered as worship. Every day we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. The church is supposed to be impacting the world by its worship of God. Far too often, it’s the other way around.

Prophet Nathan Emol

PRACTICAL WAYS TO DEPEND ON GOD ALONE:

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Depending on God is basic to the Christian life. We trust in, or depend on, God for our salvation (Ephesians 2:8–9). We depend on God for wisdom (James 1:5). In fact, we depend on God for everything (Psalm 104:27) and in everything (Proverbs 3:5–6). The psalmist teaches the Lord’s reliability with the three-fold description “the LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer” (Psalm 18:2).

Depending on God alone does not mean we act foolishly. Jesus did not need to jump off the pinnacle of the temple to “prove” that He depended on God (Matthew 4:5–7). There is a difference between trusting God and putting God to the test. Depending on God alone doesn’t mean we dispense with God’s gifts. For example, a person with strep throat may refuse to go to the doctor, saying (hoarsely), “I am going to depend on God alone to heal me.” Or a person driving a car may close her eyes and release the steering wheel, saying, “I am going to depend on God alone to drive me home.” These actions would be foolish. God has provided us with doctors and medicines to help heal us. He has given us the wits to steer a car. We can still depend on God as we visit the doctor, knowing that all healing ultimately comes from God; and we can still depend on God as we drive, knowing that all safety ultimately comes from God.

We depend on God all the time, and there are times we can do nothing else. The Lord gives us the faith we need to make it through those times. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego couldn’t sway the will of the king, and they couldn’t lessen the intensity of the burning fiery furnace. They only knew that they could not bow down to a false god. They were thrown into the fire depending on God alone for the outcome (Daniel 3).

Here are some practical ways to depend on God alone:

1) Pray. Prayer is, among other things, an acknowledgment of God’s power, promises, and provision. When you pray, you demostrate dependence on God. The biblical command is to “present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

2) Honor the Bible. The Word of God has information, instructions, examples, and promises for New Testament believers. Read from the Bible every day. Check everything against the truth of the Word (Acts 17:11). And when there is a conflict between what the Bible says and what anyone else says, go with the Bible. “I will listen to what God the LORD says” (Psalm 85:8).

3) Do right. At all times, in all situations, do what you know is right, and leave the results with God. Jochebed did right by saving her baby, Moses (Exodus 2:1–10). Daniel did right by defying the king and praying to the Lord (Daniel 6). David did right by standing up to Goliath (1 Samuel 17). In each case, their dependence on God alone was rewarded.

4) Be a living sacrifice. Romans 12:1 says to offer up your body as a “living sacrifice” to God. Acceptable sacrifices are purified from sin and dedicated to God. When you become a living sacrifice, you live for the Lord. You cease fighting for your own rights and give up trusting in your own strength. As you learn to become a living sacrifice for God, you will discover the truth that, “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

5) Abide in Christ. The Christian life is not a now-and-then rendezvous with God. It is making God your dwelling place, living with Him. Jesus put it this way: “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4). Depend on Christ as a fruit-laden branch depends on the grapevine. The branch attached to the vine is fulfilling its purpose.

6) Refuse to worry. God cares for His children, even more than the grass that He clothes with flowers and the birds that He daily feeds. Yes, you have needs, but “your heavenly Father knows” (Matthew 6:32). Learn to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Keeping some of the anxiety on yourself is to doubt God’s care.

One day, the disciples asked Jesus who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus answered with an illustration: “He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 18:2–4). One quality of children is that they are dependent on others for their well-being. God’s children should share that quality of depending on their loving Heavenly Father for everything they need.

Prophet Nathan Emol

LET GO AND LET GOD:

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“Let go and let God” is a phrase that cropped up some years ago and still enjoys some popularity today. Actually, the Bible never tells us to “let go and let God.” In fact, there are so many commandments about what we are to do that it completely contradicts the way most people interpret “let go and let God.” The popular idea of “letting go” is to adopt a sort of spiritual inertia wherein we do nothing, say nothing, feel nothing, and simply live, allowing circumstances to roll over us however they may.

The Christian life, however, is a spiritual battle which the Bible exhorts us to prepare for and wage diligently. “Fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12); “Endure hardship . . . like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3); “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11). Letting go, in the sense of sitting back and watching events unfold however they may, is not biblical.

Having said that, though, we have to understand that the things we are to do, we do by the power of God and not on our own steam. The truth is that working at “letting go” is just as much as an effort-filled work as anything else we try to do for God and not nearly as easy to do as some things. So let’s look at the Christian life and see exactly what we are to do.

To begin with, Jesus was clear that, apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). The truth being imparted here is that we can do nothing of eternal value apart from Christ and the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We can do lots of “stuff” and assume we’re doing it for God, but if we are doing it on our own power, we get the credit, and there is little or no eternal value to it. The picture of the vine and the branches in John 15 is very appropriate. Christ is the vine; we are the branches. Everything branches need to bring forth fruit comes from the vine—water, nutrients, the genetic material of life itself—while nothing is provided by the branches. The branches are simply something to hang the fruit on. The same is true of the Christian life. We are a conduit through which Christ displays His (not our) fruit.

So what has all this to do with “letting go”? Many people believe that, if we are truly in a state of “letting go,” we will be able to cease from striving and struggling. But Jesus said that we are to “strive” to enter the narrow gate to eternal life (Luke 13:24), not to sit by and wait to die so we can gain heaven. By striving, He means that we should be diligent, active, and earnest and that we should make every effort to overcome our sinful tendencies, in order to prove that we are truly His children. We are also to strive to do the work of the kingdom, whatever form that takes in our lives. This is the reason He gives us spiritual gifts, so that we can edify one another and bring glory to Him.

Furthermore, when we struggle, we assume the problem is that we are not letting go and letting God. The reality is that we struggle for a variety of reasons. One is that we have a weak faith. We just don’t have enough confidence in God to rest in the reality of His nature and have the peace that comes with a strong faith in Him. For instance, when trials come or we experience illness, financial ruin, or the death of a loved one, do we really believe that “God works all things together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)? If we don’t know God intimately, it’s very hard to trust that He is working all things together for good. But if we do know Him, if we have spent time digging into His Word and meditating on His works and His nature, we have faith in His plan and purposes, His love for us, His sovereign control over all circumstances in life, and we rest in the “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). But if we don’t know Him, we will always struggle against life’s hard circumstances.

On the other hand, there is a positive reason for struggling—it is good for us and is God’s plan to grow and mature us into the people He wants us to be. Struggles are just one of the ways He strengthens us for the hard things life throws at us. Each one enables us to be stronger and better able to handle the next one. Trials are designed to show us and others that our faith is real. “Your faith will be like gold that has been tested in a fire. And these trials will prove that your faith is worth much more than gold that can be destroyed. They will show that you will be given praise and honor and glory when Jesus Christ returns” (1 Peter 1:7). In Christ, we can face the trials of life with grace and good humor and complete faith that whatever God has for us is ok. This comes from years of walking with Him, trial upon trial, struggle upon struggle.

Prophet Nathan Emol