The Need for Revelation and Power

In Ephesians 1:17, 18, Paul had prayed that the Christians at Ephesus might receive revelation from the Holy Spirit. At the end of this first half of Ephesians, in chapter 3:16, Paul prays that they might receive power from the Holy Spirit. These are our two greatest needs – revelation and power. The Holy Spirit alone can give us both. The entire Christian life is dependent on the Holy Spirit. First of all, the Spirit gives us revelation on what God has done for us in Christ. Then, He gives us power to walk in a manner worthy of our calling, obeying all that the Lord has taught us.

In Ephesians 3: 18 & 19, we see that we can experience the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ (there are four dimensions there and that itself goes beyond human knowledge!!) – only along with ALL the saints. We can never grasp the love of Christ all by ourselves. We need the other members of Christ’s Body. And further, we need ALL the members of Christ’s Body, not just those in our own little group. That is why our hearts should always be open to ALL believers, even to those who don’t agree with us, and even to those whom we would consider a bit extreme. We may not be able to work with all of them, and we certainly will not be able to meet all of them on this earth. But our hearts should be open to all of God’s children. Our hearts must have room for as many brothers and sisters as God has children – both barbarian and cultured.

That is why we need to be open to read the writings of ALL godly people – and not just to the writings of our favourite authors. Let me warn you, in advance, that in my lifetime, I have found very, very few believers who have such an open heart. But those are the few who are truly spiritually wealthy. The remainder carry on with their poverty-stricken, sectarian attitudes and live and die as Pharisees, missing out on the wealth that could have been theirs if they had been humble enough to accept all whom God had accepted.

Let us meditate carefully on the first three chapters of Ephesians and ask the Holy Spirit to give us revelation on these glorious truths. Once you have got revelation, you will be ready to seek the Spirit for His power to live an overcoming life, full of purity, humility and love. Then we will be able to put away ALL unwholesome words from our speech, and ALL anger and ALL bitterness from our hearts (Eph.4:29, 31).

Then wives will be able to submit to their husbands as the church is to Christ, and husbands will be able to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Eph.5:22, 25). Then we will be able to overcome Satan at all times (Eph.6:11-13). And then we will have the power to “become imitators of God” (Eph.5:1).

God is able to do far more in us and through us than we can ask or think.

To Him alone be all the glory (Eph.3:20, 21).

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** Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at CFC India.com / Photo by Avery Nielsen-Webb at Pexels

12 Wonderful Responsibilities God Has Given to Women

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Gen. 1:27).

Countless millions of women around the world faithfully strive to honor God in all their vocations in life. Here are twelve wonderful responsibilities God has given to women:

1. To Love, Believe, and Respect the Lord

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates. (Prov. 31:30-31)

And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. (1 Cor. 7:34)

2. To Support the Gospel Work of the Church

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well. (Rom. 16:1-2)

Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Phil. 4:3)

3. To Be Diligent in Her Vocations

And every skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. (Exod. 35:25)

She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. (Prov. 31:16)

She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy. (Prov. 31:20)

Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. (Acts 9:36)

One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. (Acts 16:14)

4. To Be a Wife

And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Gen. 2:22-24)

He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matt. 19:4-6)

5. To Be a Mother

And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” (Gen. 21:6-7)

Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice. (Prov. 23:25)

Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. (1 Tim. 5:9-10)

6. To Care for Her Household

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. (Prov. 14:1)

She rises while it is yet night
    and provides food for her household
    and portions for her maidens. (Prov. 31:15)

So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. (1 Tim. 5:14)

7. To Be a Helper to Her Husband

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Gen. 2:18)

Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.” (Prov. 31:28-29)

For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. (1 Cor. 11:8-9)

8. To Love and Respect Her Husband

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Eph. 5:33)

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. (1 Pet. 3:1-2)

So train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:4-5)

9. To Submit to Her Husband

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Cor. 11:3)

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Eph. 5:22-24)

10. To Be Respectable

“And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman.” (Ruth 3:11)

Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. (1 Tim. 2:9-10)

Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. (1 Tim. 3:11)

Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. (1 Pet. 3:4-6)

11. To Learn Quietly in Church

The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. (1 Cor. 14:34)

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. (1 Tim. 2:11-13)

12. To Teach What Is Good

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. (Prov. 31:26)

He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately. (Acts 18:26)

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:3-5)

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** By Beautiful Christian Life

12 Wonderful Responsibilities God Has Given to Men

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27).

Millions of men around the world faithfully strive to honor God in all their vocations in life. Here are ten wonderful responsibilities God has given to men:

1. To Work

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15)

2. To Be Courageous

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

3. To Be Strong

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)

4. To Love

And he [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39)

5. To Be a Husband

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)

6. To Be the Head of His Wife

For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:23-24)

7. To Serve Sacrificially

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. (Ephesians 5:25)

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

8. To Be a Father

The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. (Proverbs 23:24)

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (Hebrews 12:7)

9. To Be Compassionate

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. (Psalms 103:13)

10. To Provide

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)

11. To Be Accountable

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Corinthians 11:3)

12. To Be Honorable

The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him! (Proverbs 20:7)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

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**By Beautiful Christian Life / Picture created by Mike Waters at Joyful Toons

Power with God and Power with Men

It is written in Genesis 32:29 that “God blessed Jacob there”. The word “bless” is perhaps the most frequently used word in the prayers of Christians; but few understand its real meaning.

What is blessing? What was the blessing Jacob got? It is described in verse 28 as “power with God and power with men”. This is the blessing that we all need and that we should be seeking for. And this alone can make the sun to rise upon our lives. Nothing less than this is what God desires to give His people.

Jesus referred to this blessing when He asked His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father. He said, “When the Holy Spirit is come upon you, you shall receive power” (Acts 1:8) – power with God and power with men. Jacobs would be transformed by the Spirit’s power into Israels. This was what made the sun to rise upon Peter’s life and upon the lives of the other disciples that day in the upper room at Jerusalem.

And this alone can provide the answer to the crookedness of our self-life. It is not a question of reformation or of good resolutions or even of our determination. It is a question of the Holy Spirit possessing us fully and governing and ruling our lives.

But where does the Spirit lead us? Always to the cross. It is only when we are crucified, that Christ can live in us in His fullness. It was when Jesus was baptized, buried under the waters – symbolically accepting death to Himself – that the Holy Spirit came upon Him (Matt. 3:16). It was when Jacob was broken, that he was blessed. It was only after Moses’ self-confidence had been shattered through 40 years of looking after sheep, that he was ready to deliver Israel. The rock had to be smitten before the living waters could flow. The Israelites had to go through the River Jordan (symbolizing death and burial) before they could enter Canaan (symbolizing life in the fullness of the Spirit). Gideon’s army had to break their pitchers before the light inside was visible. The alabaster vial had to be broken before the odor of the ointment could fill the house. Peter’s boastful self-confidence had to be shattered before he was ready for Pentecost. We find this truth throughout Scripture.

It would be dangerous for God to empower an unbroken man. It would be like giving a sharp knife to a 6-month-old baby, or like handling 20,000 volts of electricity without proper insulation. God is careful. He does not give the power of His Spirit to those in whom ‘self’ is still unbroken. And He removes His power from a man when he ceases to be broken.

Jacob was now blessed by God Himself. Earlier, Isaac had laid his hands on Jacob and blessed him when Jacob brought him the venison (Gen. 27:23). But that had brought no change in Jacob’s life. The real blessing came at Peniel. And this is the lesson we need to learn too. No man can ever give us this blessing. A man – even a saintly man like Isaac – may lay his empty hands on our empty heads and pray for us. Yet, we may get nothing. Only God can really empower us. When Isaac put his hands on Jacob’s head, the sun merely set on Jacob’s life. But when God blessed him, the sun rose! Power belongs to God and He is the only one who can ever give it to us.

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** Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at cfcindia.com / Arnie Chou at Pexels

5 Ways To Be A Godly Woman

Being a woman of bold faith is what we have been called to. Boldness is not a personality trait. Boldness is acting by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s take risks for the sake of the gospel to the glory of God. ~ Heather Riggleman

“You will be a woman of bold faith who empowers and encourages those around you.”

This was declared over me after I handed my life over to Jesus. I was barely toddling in my walk with God, yet others could see the calling and purpose He already had for me.

What Does it Mean to Be a Godly Woman?

But what does it mean to be a godly woman? Becoming a woman of faith is not about perfectly checked church attendance, being the most modestly dress, how much you volunteer, having the best snacks for life groups, or having all the answers in Bible study.

A bold woman of faith has real, bold, Jesus-glorifying, heart-wrenching, deep-in-the-trenches, and fight for God’s truths in the midst of the lies, kind of belief.

John Piper says it best, “The deepest root of Christian womanhood is hope in God,” and “this hope in God yields fearlessness.”

However, becoming her means embodying a warrior willing to bleed for her cause. Becoming a godly woman is digging-your-heels in the dirt when your marriage falls apart, when your child rebels, when your career gets decimated, or when everyone follows tradition without question or when your health fails.

Why? Because we have a very real enemy whose goal is to destroy us. Why was Satan so anxious to have access to us?

Because clearly, Satan was listening when Jesus declared: “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18).

We are the keys to God’s kingdom! We are the keys to help others unlock their faith. We are the keys to our home and our community.

Our enemy wants to knock us down — blow by blow until we are so bloodied and wounded in our hearts and minds that we lose sight of Jesus.

He wants us so focused on the mess, the hurt, and pain that we forget God’s promises of who we really are: Heiresses to His Kingdom. And the “brutiful” (beautiful and brutal) truth behind this: you will then help others through the sifting.

A godly woman isn’t something that just happens without the “becoming.” Look at our savior:

  • It’s what Jesus did
  • He helped others through the sifting
  • He demonstrated the process of becoming
  • He was the light of God in a world that didn’t even want Him
  • Like Jesus — bold women of faith lead others to God 

The word “godly” in the Bible means pious or holy. This means we are set apart from all others. Holiness is achieved when we are made new creations in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Born again Christian women are indwelled with the Holy Spirit.

In Him, we produce godliness that molds and shapes us into the image of Christ. A godly woman controls her thoughts and takes them captive, making them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). She also controls her tongue and uses her words to encourage and build up others.

Godly women inspire change. They question tradition for tradition’s sake. They lift up other women gunned down in the trenches.

They impact their community. Their table always has room for one more. They friend the unwanted. They love the rejected.

They speak for those who do not have a voice. They change the world right where they are at all the while keeping their hearts and minds focused on Christ.

Becoming a godly woman means stepping into your God-given leadership. Let God’s voice speak louder than all the others. Here are a few ways to be a godly woman within God’s parameters for us.

Five Ways to be a Godly Woman

1. Always stay in God’s Word. Know what the Bible says. Study it. Read it every day. Understand what scriptures say within context. God’s Word is our go-to source for wisdom, encouragement, and nourishment.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).

2. Pray. Ask God to use your gifts, your personality, and your community to further his kingdom. Ask God to reveal to you the things that matter to Him.

Take all of your hurts, worries, dreams, and petitions to God! Ephesians 6:18 is our battle call, “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24).

“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known”(Jeremiah 33:3).

3. Know the things that matter. Hold firm to the beliefs that God has placed heavily on your heart. When you make a stand for these issues, make sure you know why God stands for them too.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4:8).

4. Speak with gentleness. Always remember who you represent every time you open your mouth to voice an opinion or idea. And always, always speak with love. Proverbs 15:1 reminds us, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).

5. Respect authority. All authority comes from God and He calls us to respect those He places in authority over us. This includes husbands, fathers, pastors, elders, and other leaders.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything(Ephesians 5:22-24).

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God (Romans 13:1).

Yet, John Piper once said, “The deepest root of Christian womanhood is hope in God,” and “this hope in God yields fearlessness.”

Becoming a fearless, bold woman of God didn’t happen overnight. Those two years of lost time were spent on my knees in prayer for our hearts and health.

What seemed like wasted time was actually the refining fires that created a boldness for believing God’s truth and promises for my family.

And the more I spent time with him, the more he began to send others in need of a good dose of Jesus’ strong courage my way.

Each of us has causes that make us come alive, things that move us and make us eager to share our vision.

Each woman has a chance to embody what it means to be bold, brave, and fierce for the life she has given. Even though you are not Maya Angelou, Malala, Mother Teresa, or Mary — mother of Jesus, you are still changing the world one breath at a time.

Why? Because being a woman of bold faith is what we have been called to.

Boldness is not a personality trait. Boldness is acting by the power of the Holy Spirit, on an urgent conviction in the face of some threat.

A shy, soft-spoken, introverted, calm person can be bold at a time when a typically driven, outspoken, brash person shrinks back. A Bold Woman for God contains these ingredients.

Spirit-Empowered Courage, Conviction, and Urgency

Meaning — every woman must get uncomfortable for the sake of the gospel. A bold woman:

Seeks God every morning (Psalm 5:3).

Looks for one person to share the gospel at the grocery store, meetings, appointments, or the park (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Hosts without grumbling. Open your front door and add one more spot at the table (1 Peter 4:9).

Welcomes fellowship in difficult seasons — all seasons (Hebrews 10:24–25).

Adorns herself in His word through good works — not the latest trends (1 Timothy 2:9–10,4:7–8).

Takes time to disciple and discipline your children with grace and love (Titus 2:3–5; Hebrews 12:5–11).

Christian women, we have nothing to fear and nothing to lose. Let’s live like we have the greatest hope to offer the world.

Let’s get uncomfortable by hoping in God and not in what the world offers. Let’s not be conformed to the world in its apathy toward the things of God.

Let’s take risks for the sake of the gospel to the glory of God.

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** By Heather Riggleman at Christianity.com / Photo by Ellagrin at Shuttershock

Don’t Sell Your Birthright Like Esau

See to it that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. ~ Hebrews 12:16

“But Jacob said, ‘Swear to me first.’ So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.” -Genesis 25:33-34

What is a birthright? According to WordNet online dictionary, it is “a right or privilege that you are entitled to at birth”, or “an inheritance coming by right of birth”. Did you know God gives each of us a birthright as His children? Did you know that we may not be aware of our birthright from Him, or, if we understand our birthright, we can also lose it? This is described in the story of Jacob and Esau.

Jacob stole Esau’s birthright by offering him food when he was extremely hungry. Although Jacob acted as a manipulator and deceiver, his brother didn’t seem all that concerned with his inheritance in the present. He wanted his hunger for food met, now! He couldn’t see past his immediate desires, although legitimate. He tried to get them met in the wrong way. And he sold the only thing of true value in his life away for a bowl of stew. How angry at himself he must’ve been once his hunger had been satisfied!

When we are born into the kingdom of God by accepting Christ into our lives, we are born not only into new life through salvation, but we also carry a new birthright. Like free education is a right to anyone born in America, when we are born again, a new creation in Christ, we have rights that people who do not know Him do not have. Peace, joy, hope, and spiritual gifts are in addition to the gift of eternal salvation are all part of this birthright. Our very purpose for existence is also our birthright. God gave that to us before we were born. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” (Jeremiah 1:5) However, it is easy to “miss” our birthright by deception, or to exchange it for a life of self-gratification.

It says in Genesis 25:34 Esau “despised” his birthright.  How many of us “despise” doing the things that Christ would have us do? Whether it’s fear, or pride, or past hurts and rejections, or not feeling good enough – none of those reasons are good enough for us to miss the inheritance that God has in store for us.

Don’t let deception keep you from your birthright of who you are in Christ – from all the things that God has planned for you to bless you, give you a purpose, and to use you mightily for His kingdom.

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** By Charis Brown at Today God is First / Photo by Shantanu Pal at Pexels

4 Reason’s Why Christian’s Should Keep Out Of Worldly Pursuits

No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. ~ 2 Timothy 2:4

As fully devoted followers of Christ we need to give careful attention to what things we pursue in life! Why? Because they can either help us grow in our devotion to Christ or hinder us. A Godly goal is a good thing but a worldly pursuit is not. 

In this post I want to share with you 4 reasons why God’s people should at all cost avoid pursuing worldly goals and in particular keep themselves from getting entangled in the love of money. The Love of Money, by the way, according to the Bible is one particular way Christian quite often get caught up in the things of the world. 

To accomplish I will be sharing 3 Pitfalls that come with choosing worldly goals and what happens to those who stumble into those pitfalls. These pitfall’s are found in 1 Timothy 6:9-10:

“But those who want to get rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires. , which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” ((CSB)

These pitfalls are:

PITFALL #1: 

It Makes You susceptible To Temptation: When our heart longs for the things of this world we become more vulnerable to the wiles and schemes of the devil. Temptations in and of themselves are not sins but they are the doorway that leads a person to sin. The primary reason a person commits a sin is because they have some kind of worldly desire they are trying to satisfy. And that unmet satisfaction cause people to look for its fulfillment in ways that God says is sinful. Therefore, the cure is not to continually fight off the temptation but to root out the evil and sinful desires and replace them with God honoring desires. So, if your sincere desire is to live a life that pleases God then you need to make sure that your hearts desires are on the things of Heaven and off the things of this world. 

PITFALL #2: 

It’s a trap that will ensnare you. Traps have been used throughout the ages by hunters who are want to catch unsuspecting animals. They are usually camouflage so the animal will not see it and step into it. And this is the way it is with the goals of this world and especially the love of money. The true intent of these longings are hidden and dressed up to look like things that are good. After all, what could be wrong with being rich if it allows me to give more money to help the poor? What’s wrong with having a nicer and bigger home for my family to live in? Shouldn’t they be able to live in a nice place? You see the issue isn’t what you can do with the money but what you are willing to do to get the money or your true motivation for getting the money.

PITFALL #3:

It Ignites Feelings That You Shouldn’t Have: The problem with the love of money or the desire to have the things of the world is that it doesn’t stay satisfied with the fulfillment of those desires. As a result of pursing them newer and more harmful desires start to grow. There are some feelings that we were never intended to have or experience. The “Love of Money” is described as a “root”. If temptation is the seed then the love of money (materialism) is the root that is form from that seed and it in turns grows into a blooming plant of all kinds of other evil and more harmful desires. If you think that you can control your love for money and keep it contained then you are only fooling yourself. The only way to keep yourself from growth of all kinds of evil in your life is to uproot the love of the world and replace it with a root that exclusively loves God. 

Now let me share a little bit about what the end result will be if you fall into one or all of these pitfalls and fail to uproot and guard agains the love of this world and the pursuit of worldly goals. Quite simple it is exactly what the Bible says,

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:10 (CSB)

2 End Results:

#1: Wandering From The Faith: 

In Luke chapter 8 Jesus tells a parable about a person who went sowing seed on different types of ground and then He explains the spiritual significance for each group. Here’s how Jesus describes the seed that feel on the ground filled with thorns and thistles.

“As for the seed that fell among the thorns, these are the ones who, when they have heard, go on their way and are choked with worries, riches, and pleasures of life and produce no mature fruit.” Luke 8:14 (CSB)

This is quite a visible picture, from Jesus, on what happens to people who have their hearts set on the things of this world and not on Christ. The riches and pleasures of life of life choke out or we could also, are more valuable to people than Christ is, and as a result they walk away. Another way of saying it is that people who hear the Gospel of Christ and are excited with the forgiveness of sins that come from following Christ but once they hear that they need to leave everything (including their riches) in order to follow Christ, they walk away sad because they love their money more than they do Jesus. 

#2: They Stab Themselves With Lots of Grief:

Notice that verse 10 uses the word pierce and not prick. Why? Because the word pierce suggest a knife or sword stabbing. It is a life threatening wound. It’s not a little poke that might draw some blood but a wound that in most cases lead to death. 

Also, notice that this is a self-inflicted wound. This is something you caused yourself and not something someone did to you. You’re the one who sets you life goal, you are the one who decides who your heart will be devoted to. To choose the world over Christ is your chose and the result is a harm that you brought on yourself. It is avoidable if you choose wisely but it is also unavoidable if you don’t choose wisely. 

So many people suffer horribly simply because they have chosen to go after the things of this world, to give their heart over to what this world says is important. The pain is real but the pain was and is avoidable. 

By simply choosing to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength you will avoid all three of these pitfalls and the consequences that follow. So who will you give your heart to? Will it be God through Jesus Christ or will it be the world.

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** By Jay Moore at the Ordinary Christian / Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

Don’t Despise Difficulty

One night, just before I went to bed, in my mind, I heard. “Don’t despise difficulty.”

In John 15:2 it says, “Every branch in Me that does NOT bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it…” Why does God do this? “… so that it (the branch-the Christian) may bear MORE fruit.
Vs.8 My Father is GLORIFIED by this, that you bear MUCH…fruit,.(not just a little, but MUCH fruit) and so prove to be My disciples.

To prune a tree, you must cut/remove specific branches or stems to BENEFIT the whole tree. The removal of dead, damaged diseased branches, HELP to PREVENT insect and decay organisms from entering the tree.

When God prunes me, ITS FOR MY BENEFIT! By the Holy Spirit He removes what is dead, damaged and diseased in my heart. When condescending words come from a co-worker, God can prune/cut off STEMS of pride, that are causing decay in your heart that says, how can you talk to me that way? I DESERVE RESPECT. IT’S FOR MY BENEFIT, when that big BILL comes. God can prune us to remove that disease of loving money, that UNREST you feel because your retirement fund has decreased.

God says, I’m pruning you, SO you CAN HAVE the BENEFIT of bearing MORE Fruit! Don’t despise the cuts, bear MUCH fruit! Fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

Much more love for one another (John 15:12) with people who are different than you, rejoicing ALWAYS, peace that surpasses understanding, an ABUNDANCE of patience DURING being tempted to be annoyed at someone, the law of kindness ALWAYS on your lips though you you’ve just been insulted, the goodness of God flowing out of your heart, faithfulness to God, the gentleness of Jesus to others, and dependence upon the Holy Spirit for self-control.

Do you want that? REALLY?

God is saying don’t despise the pruning, the cuts of difficulty. I’m doing great things in your life! And yes, you can enjoy a good meal, a nice trip and even good sleep, BUT that’s NOT the ABUNDANT life, God is calling us to! We SET ourselves up for discouragement, when we LIVE for ease, comfort and pleasure.
Jesus said, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matt.6:19-21
We have to be careful NOT treasure our pleasure.

I also have to be careful what I call a BLESSING or a BENEFIT in my life.

I’m NOT COMPLETELY there yet, BUT I’m believing God WILL bring me to a place where I can ALWAYS see His pruning in my life, as an ABSOLUTE BENEFIT TO HIM! Not ONLY what benefits me. (2 Cor.5:9)

Just like we take our bags of fruit home from Safeway or farmers market. We enjoy eating the fruit. Can God do that too? When He walks out to the garden of my life, can HE partake of the Fruit of His Spirit? (Gal.5:22-23) Can He take each fruit, out of the bag and say Ah…humility? Another bite, Ah…love, ah…self-control? Another bite…ah patience, how good it is too eat of My children’s fruitful lives! If God does not prune me, I CANNOT give HIM that fruit! I cannot make Him go…Ah!

John 15:1 My Father is the vinedresser. He prunes, trains, and cultivates. If the fruit is NOT coming out of my branch, it’s possible I’m NOT abiding in the Vine, Jesus. Am I KEEPING His word? Am I dried up? Maybe you just got pruned. And you’re thinking, I got nothing man. PERFECT Vs. 5 Apart from Him, you CAN DO NOTHING! Realizing how INCAPABLE we are and how ABLE He is, will help us depend on Jesus, the Vine. His grace is sufficient (2 Cor.12: 9).

Before fruit appears/grows, it must go through a process of unseen nourishment from the vine.
So it is with fruit in my heart for God. Fruit will come as I get nourishment from the Vine/Jesus. That means I remain in His love and obey His word. Not copying and pasting on the fruit of the Spirit with some dead work, selfish motive. No, if I keep/obey His word, I can prove to God in MY HEART, I’m a DISCIPLE of Jesus. Not prove to others, BUT to God first, who sees and knows all, in the deep secrets of my thoughts and desires. To prove my devotion and allegiance to Him IN the difficulty. (John 15:8) Then the fruit can grow and be GENUINE.

If we look at Luke 14:25-33, we can see some ways our devotion and allegiances WILL be tested as a disciple of Jesus. My love for GOD should be MUCH greater in comparison to my love for others and for myself. So much so, that my love for others and for myself, LOOKS like hate. This is tested in the CLOSEST relationships. Father, mother, wife, children, siblings and even our own life (vs.26). All these relationships can have disagreements. And when you have a strong disagreement, you can have difficulty.

Jesus said in the very next verse, 27 “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
We face a choice to pick up our own INNER cross. We can decide to please others, please ourselves OR please Jesus. When we chose to please Jesus, it will cost us. It may cost us a “silent” treatment, disrespect, misunderstanding, others being angry with us and maybe even left alone or cut off. Yes, this can even happen in our OWN homes. (Luke 12:51-53).

In Phil. 2:1-11 We see the glory of Jesus, how He carried His cross. He humbled Himself His entire life, even to the point of death. Even in His own home, at least for a time, His brothers were not believing in Him ( John 7:5 ). They lived with Jesus and never saw Him sin even once! Yet they still mocked Him.
In Mark 3:21 says, “When His own people ( kinsmen-blood relatives ), heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.” In other words, Jesus’ own family called Him crazy! These are just a few examples of what we can face if we live by Jesus’ standards. Jesus Himself said in:
Matt.10: 34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. 37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

Maybe it’s Jesus’ standard against the finances between you and your spouse. Maybe it’s Jesus’ standard in your wedding plans against your family’s standards for your wedding plans. Maybe it’s deciding what church to go to or continue to go to. Or even different opinions and thoughts about ministry in the church. Yes, even there we can find Jesus’ dividing sword of discipleship. If I can’t have a humble attitude and pick up my INNER cross IN my home, I certainly won’t be able to do it in God’s church.

God knows in these relationships we WILL be tested. We CAN carry our own cross, when we love Jesus MORE than our own families and our own life. And in so doing, we actually love them better. Whether others say so or not. If that happens because we’ve chosen to obey God, not man, He will honor us ( 1 Sam.2:30 ). And that is greater than ANY honor we can receive!

Jesus sums it up in Vs.33 “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”
If we are holding onto these relationships at the cost of lowering Jesus’ standards to follow what they say, we cannot be His disciple.
Being a follower of Jesus, is not a matter of how many times we’ve read, studied or memorized the Bible. Not a matter of how many times we went to church, shared the word, gave a testimony, prayed or helped people. Yes, amen, we should do these things BUT it’s NOT what qualifies me to be a disciple of Jesus.

Though God may prune me in these relationships, I don’t have to fear
God DOESN’T prune us to be mean. John 15:4-10 says, He does this so we can remain in His love. And when we keep His word, that’s what happens. We remain in His love. He stays close to us and we to Him. And I NEVER lose out, though the pruning HURT.
We see in verse 11 Jesus asked, why have I said these things to you? To discourage you? No. I HAVE SAID THIS TO YOU, SO I CAN…. GIVE you MY JOY TO THE FULLEST!!!!

So, I’m believing God, that when I face difficulty and I’m getting pruned, I can ACTUALLY look forward to some Promises!
John 15: 8 When I bear fruit of the Holy Spirit, I WILL give Him glory. Verse 10 If I obey His word, I WILL abide in His love like Jesus did. And verse 11 When I do these things, I WILL get Jesus’ JOY…. to the FULLEST!
The Lord is so generous, He gives us His joy too when we are faithful to Him in difficulty.

If you are IN a tough spot now, remain in His love. Obey His word and believe God WILL fulfill His promises, even IN your difficulty!

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**By Paul Moore © Copyright – Paul Moore. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author. https://nccf.com/ 

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