Category Archives: God

RELYING IN GOD’S POWER:

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We often hear about the power of God, and Scripture is full of examples of His power in action. He is “the great God, mighty and awesome” (Nehemiah 9:32). We are taught to rely on His great power to get us through trials such as a job loss, a sticky divorce, bankruptcy, hateful persecutions, a debilitating illness, or the loss of a loved one. Learning to rely on the power of God is part of living the Christian life.

The apostle Paul gives us a glimpse of the power of God when he writes of “his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority” (Ephesians 1:19–21). The Greek word translated “great” is megethos, which means “strong” or “great,” and it appears only here in the New Testament. This word obviously wasn’t sufficient for Paul to express God’s great power, so he adds the word incomparably or, in Greek, hyperballon, related to a verb that literally means to “throw beyond the usual mark” or to “excel or surpass.” So, the full idea of the expression hyperballon megethos is that of a power beyond measure, a super-abounding or surpassing power, power that is “more than enough.”

Greek authorities tell us that, because the term megethos is found only here in all the New Testament, this reflects the outreach of Paul’s mind when he sought to describe the power of God. Paul was “stretching at the seams” as he tried to describe the power of God and pour more meaning into his words. What Paul is really telling us is that God’s power exceeds or surpasses everything—it is unimaginable power. God spoke the universe into existence, raised Jesus from the dead, and “placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church” (Ephesians 1:22), and He has power far beyond any possibility of being measured. Paul simply could not say enough about the greatness and majesty of God, and he had difficulty finding the words to express his thoughts about the power of God.

How can we learn to rely on the enormous power of God? First of all, we choose to remember the things that God has done: “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced” (Psalm 105:4–5). Every miracle recorded for us in the Bible should give us encouragement that His strength is more than enough for our need.

Also, to rely on the power of God, we must learn to cease trusting in our frail efforts and hand our resources over to the One who can do anything. God’s power is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). The disciples were at their wits’ end trying to figure out how to feed the 5,000; it was not until they brought the small amount of food they had to Christ that anyone was fed. Joshua stood helpless before the walls of Jericho, but he learned to trust the Lord’s battle plan. Zerubbabel faced the daunting task of rebuilding the temple, and God reminded him that the work would be done “not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6).

Prayer is a vital part of relying on the power of God, as we pray, “Thy will be done” (Luke 11:2, KJV). Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7–8). It was after a prayer meeting in the early church that “the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31). It was during a prayer meeting that Peter was miraculously released from prison (Acts 12).

The resurrection of Jesus certainly demonstrates the great power of God and is the great hope of all believers. Because He lives, we will live also (John 14:19). Peter said we have been “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away” (1 Peter 1:3–4, NASB). No matter what happens in this world, we have the power of God and Jesus’ resurrection; the Lord will grant us an inheritance and sustain us through eternity. We “through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (verse 5). As Martin Luther sang during the Protestant Reformation, “The body they may kill; / God’s truth abideth still.”

No matter how weak or ill-equipped we may at times feel, we can rely on the power of God. We have the assurance that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). We have confidence that ultimately God will accomplish His good in our lives: “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Prophet Nathan Emol

HAVING A CLOSER RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD:

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Developing a closer relationship with God is an admirable goal and reflects a heart that is truly reborn, for only those who are in Christ desire a closer relationship with God. We must also understand that in this life we will never be as close to God as we ought to be or desire to be. The reason for this is lingering sin in our lives. This is not a deficiency on God’s part, but on ours; our sin remains a barrier to the full and complete fellowship with God which will be realized once we’re in glory.

Even the apostle Paul, who had about as close a relationship as one could probably have with God in this life, still longed for a closer relationship: “Indeed, I count every thing as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ” (Philippians 3:8-9). No matter where we are in our walk with Christ, we can always have a closer walk, and, even glorified in heaven, we will have all eternity to grow in our relationship with the Lord.

There are five basic things we can do to have a closer relationship with God.

The first thing we can do to have a closer relationship with God is to make a daily habit of confessing our sin to Him. If sin is the barrier in our relationship with God, then confession removes that barrier. When we confess our sins before God, He promises to forgive us (1 John 1:9), and forgiveness is what restores a relationship that has been strained. We must keep in mind that confession is more than simply saying, “I’m sorry for my sin, God.” It is the heartfelt contrition of those who recognize that their sin is an offense to a holy God. It is the confession of one who realizes that his sin is what nailed Jesus Christ to the cross. It is the cry of the publican in Luke 18 who said, “God be merciful to me a sinner!” As King David wrote, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).

The second thing we can do to have a closer relationship with God is to listen when God speaks. Many today are chasing a supernatural experience of hearing God’s voice, but the apostle Peter tells us that we “have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). That “more sure prophetic word” is the Bible. In the Bible, we “hear” God’s voice to us. It is through the “God-breathed” Scriptures that we become “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). So if we want to grow closer to God, we should read His Word regularly. In reading His Word, we are “listening” to God speak through it by his Spirit who illuminates the Word to us.

The third thing we can do to have a closer relationship with God is to speak to Him through prayer. If reading the Bible is listening to God speak to us, speaking to God is accomplished through prayer. The Gospels often record Jesus secreting Himself away to commune with His Father in prayer. Prayer is much more than simply a way to ask God for things we need or want. Consider the model prayer that Jesus gives His disciples in Matthew 6:9-13. The first three petitions in that prayer are directed toward God (may His name be hallowed, may His kingdom come, may His will be done). The last three petitions are requests we make of God after we’ve taken care of the first three (give us our daily bread, forgive us our debts, lead us not into temptation). Another thing we can do to revive our prayer lives is to read the Psalms. Many of the Psalms are heartfelt cries to God for various things. In the Psalms we see adoration, contrition, thanksgiving and supplication modeled in a divinely inspired way.

The fourth thing we can do to have a closer relationship with God is to find a body of believers with whom we can regularly worship. This is such a vital component of spiritual growth. Too often, we approach church with a “what can I get out of it?” mentality. We seldom take the time to prepare our hearts and minds for worship. Again, the Psalms show us many calls from God to His people to come and worship the Lord (for example, Psalm 95:1-2). God invites us, commands us, to come into His presence for worship. How can we, His people, fail to respond? Not only does regular church attendance give us an opportunity to come before the Lord’s presence in worship, but it also gives us an opportunity to fellowship with the Lord’s people. As we come into the house of the Lord in worship and fellowship with His people, we can’t help but grow closer to the Lord as a result.

Finally, a closer relationship with God is built upon a life of obedience. Jesus told His disciples in the upper room, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:23). James tells us that as we submit ourselves to God through obedience, resist the devil, and draw near to God, He will draw near to us (James 4:7-8). Paul tells us in Romans that our obedience is our “living sacrifice” of thanksgiving to God (Romans 12:1). We must keep in mind that all biblical exhortations to obedience are presented as our response to the grace of God we receive in salvation. We don’t earn salvation through our obedience; rather, it is the way we show our love and gratitude toward God.

So, through confession, Bible study, prayer, regular church attendance, and obedience, we can develop a closer relationship with God. It seems rather simple, if not simplistic. But consider this: how do we develop a closer relationship with other human beings? We spend time with them in conversation, opening our hearts to them and listening to them at the same time. We acknowledge when we’ve done wrong and seek forgiveness. We seek to treat them well and sacrifice our own needs to fulfill theirs. It’s not really that different with our relationship to our Heavenly Father.

Prophet Nathan Emol

HAVING A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD:

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Having a personal relationship with God begins the moment we realize our need for Him, admit we are sinners, and in faith receive Jesus Christ as Savior. God, our heavenly Father, has always desired to be close to us, to have a relationship with us. Before Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden (Genesis chapter 3), both he and Eve knew God on an intimate, personal level. They walked with Him in the garden and talked directly to Him. Due to the sin of man, we became separated and disconnected from God.

What many people do not know, realize, or care about, is that Jesus gave us the most amazing gift—the opportunity to spend eternity with God if we trust in Him. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). God became a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ to take on our sin, be killed, and then be raised to life again, proving His victory over sin and death. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). If we accept this gift, we have become acceptable to God and can have a relationship with Him.

Those who have a personal relationship with God include God in their daily lives. They pray to Him, read His word, and meditate on verses in an effort to get to know Him even better. Those who have a personal relationship with God pray for wisdom (James 1:5), which is the most valuable asset we could ever have. They take their requests to Him, asking in Jesus’ name (John 15:16). Jesus is the one who loves us enough to give His life for us (Romans 5:8), and He is the one who bridged the gap between us and God.

The Holy Spirit has been given to us as our Counselor. “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:15-17). Jesus said this before He died, and after He died, the Holy Spirit became available to all who earnestly seek to receive Him. He is the one who lives in the hearts of believers and never leaves. He counsels us, teaches us truths, and changes our hearts. Without this divine Holy Spirit, we would not have the ability to fight against evil and temptations. But since we do have Him, we begin to produce the fruit that comes from allowing the Spirit to control us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

This personal relationship with God is not as hard to find as we might think, and there is no mysterious formula for getting it. As soon as we become children of God, we receive the Holy Spirit, who will begin to work on our hearts. We should pray without ceasing, read the Bible, and join a Bible-believing church; all these things will help us to grow spiritually. Trusting in God to get us through each day and believing that He is our sustainer is the way to have a relationship with Him. Although we may not see changes immediately, we will begin to see them over time, and all the truths will become clear.

Prophet Nathan Emol

GOD WILL FIGHT YOUR BATTLES:

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That God will fight our battles means we do not have to anguish, be anxious, or be discouraged when bad things happen in our lives. When it seems a situation is hopeless or the matter at hand is too overwhelming, we may be tempted to doubt God. But Christians must remember that no problem is beyond the scope of God’s sovereign care for His children. He has promised to take care of us (Philippians 4:19), make good plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11), and love us beyond measure (Romans 8:37–39).

In Exodus 14:14 Moses tells the children of Israel, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” At that moment, they were standing at the edge of the Red Sea, hemmed in by the sea before them and the Egyptian army behind. The Israelites are in a seemingly impossible situation, but it was a situation brought on by the Lord Himself. It was God who had hardened Pharaoh’s heart to pursue the fleeing slaves (Exodus 14:4, 8). Why would God do such a thing? The Bible gives some of the reasons: because God wanted to make it crystal clear to Egypt that He is LORD so that He got the glory over Pharaoh (Exodus 14:4). And because God wanted to teach Israel that He is their Deliverer (Exodus 6:6) and their Salvation (Exodus 14:13). They were incapable of escaping the situation on their own—they needed only to wait for God to move on their behalf (cf. Psalm 27:14). The battle that appeared to be between the Egyptians and the Israelites was in reality between the Egyptians and the Lord (Exodus 14:4).

The lessons believers can learn from the Exodus account can be powerful and life-changing. When Christians trust God to fight their battles, it enables them to circumvent what often accompanies conflict, i.e., panic, fear, and hopelessness (Exodus 14:11–12). There are times when we can see absolutely no way around a problem, just like Israel when they were cornered. It’s quite probable not one of the Israelites ever imagined that the massive sea was going to split down the middle, providing their way of escape. When Christians believe God’s Word (2 Chronicles 20:17), they learn that no battle is too formidable or monumental for God to handle (Joshua 1:5).

Moses gives a review of some of Israel’s history in Deuteronomy 1. In his recap he reminds them of the importance of having courage and trusting God at the edge of the Promised Land. Forty years earlier, the Israelites had spied out the land and concluded that they were unable to go up against the Canaanites, who were too big and too strong (Numbers 13:31—33). Due to that generation’s lack of faith, they were not allowed to enter the Promised Land. Moses tells the new generation to avoid their fathers’ lack of trust: “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes” (Deuteronomy 1:29–30). As God’s people obeyed in faith, they would find triumph at every turn. “Victory rests with the LORD” (Proverbs 21:31).

Israel, like many Christians today, had forgotten the previous battles God had fought for them all along the way (see Deuteronomy 2:7). The Israelite spies had seen “giants” in the land (Numbers 13:33, NKJV), just like Christians today see “giant” obstacles, complications, and problems that seem too large to conquer. To let the “giants” steal our faith only leaves defeat and a lack of assurance in the God who is in control of every problem, in spite of its size (Romans 8:28).

God is in control, but that does not mean Christians get to avoid the battles—in fact, the Bible states the opposite (2 Timothy 3:12). “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3–4). In order for a believer to live a life of endurance, character, and hope, we must put on our armor (Ephesians 6:10–17) and trust the Deliverer. We “put no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). Our confidence is in God, who will fight our battles and bring us safely home (Jude 1:24–25). “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7).

Prophet Nathan Emol

RECEIVING GOD’S PROTECTION:

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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—2:10; 1 Kings 17:1–6; Jonah 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 Emol