|The Blessing “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 One of my most cherished childhood memories is of my dad praying a blessing over my brother and me every evening. He would ask the Lord to cultivate in us love, zeal, and godly wisdom. He’d pray that Jesus would be the Cornerstone of our lives. In time, I realized that my dad’s blessing pointed to an even greater blessing. In biblical times, receiving a father’s blessing was significant. God made a covenant of blessing with Abraham (Genesis 12:2-3) that was to be passed down through the generations, all the way until the birth of Jesus, the Savior (Matthew 1:2-16). Galatians 3:9 enlightens us to the good news that all who put their faith in Christ will share in the same blessing given to Abraham! In Christ we are adopted into God’s family and receive all of the benefits and privileges of a beloved child. If you have never experienced the love of an earthly father, your heart may ache. Thanks be to God that you can know the joy and security of belonging to your heavenly Father and receiving His blessing in Christ. SF:|
Ephesians 1 Insight:
When we meditate on God’s Word, His Spirit opens our eyes to the rich blessings and glorious inheritance promised to those who believe. BIAY:
1 Corinthians 10
Grab hold of God’s hand.
By Lesli White
Many Christians profess to trust God’s Will for their lives but when it comes down to letting go and letting God, they can’t. We know that God has a special plan and purpose for our lives, most of us don’t have trouble believing this, but the fear develops when we realize that His Will may not be the will we have for ourselves. When we’re afraid of His plan, we begin to doubt His Will for our lives. Sometimes this feeling can take us to a place where we feel depressed, lost, overwhelmed, maybe even like we’re drowning. We then must ask ourselves, how do we let go of that fear and our plan and begin to trust God’s plan? Here are six Bible verses when you feel like you’re drowning.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6: 10-12).
While we can’t physically hear God, it’s important that we remain confident that God hears us and confident in God’s promises offered through Scripture. This is the place where you will really begin to hear His voice. The more time we spend with Scripture, the more we can hear and know what God’s Will is for us. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. When you read the Bible and hear God speaking through the Word, you begin to see situations differently and your circumstances in a whole new light. We can’t do this without letting go and trusting God. Just as the Scripture tells us, we need to put on the full armor of God and then we can avoid the Enemy’s advances. You then can make decisions based not off an anxious mindset but where you are being led by God.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139: 23-24).
It is difficult to walk with God when we caught up in our uncertainties. Even when we believe God won’t, He will. Always apply this to your life. Even if you’re struggling with doubt, know that God has a special plan for your life. Focus on your faith, not your doubts.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6: 25-27).
Fear feels uncomfortable, but in most cases, it won’t really harm you – but attempting to avoid your anxiety will because you are robbing yourself of the chance to experience the deep satisfaction which comes with listening to your heart and soul and creating a better life fill of passion and purpose. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and want to overcome the fears of today, it’s important that you are confident in God and His Word.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17: 7-8).
If you really want to hear God and begin to trust His Will for our lives, we must get involved with Scripture and hear what God’s Word is telling us. God’s Word provides transformative wisdom, and when we study the Bible and grow closer to the Word, we begin to understand where God is, especially for us. The more confident we are in God’s promises, the closer we get to transformation and renewal. When we begin to see where God is, not where the World is, we can really move towards letting go of doubt.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11: 28-30).
Always remember that you are bigger than any concern you have and that God is control. One of the best ways to overcome the feeling of drowning is to trust in God and lean on His Word. Immerse yourself in it. While fear may continue to show up for you, when you acknowledge and truly believe that God is in control, anything is possible. Your anxiety can feel like it’s paralyzing you, but fear only has as much power as you allow it. Trust that you can challenge any fear you have with God and you will always come out victorious.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9).
It’s easy to trust God when things are going according to our plan for ourselves, but when the plan begins to deviate and we feel like we’re underwater, we begin to sink. We put up a shield so that we don’t get hurt, but we are only casting out God and hurting ourselves. Proverbs 3:5 which tells us to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding” is a great reminder to let go of self, the thoughts in our head that allow us to believe our plan is greater than God’s, because these are the thoughts that sabotage us and will only lead us astray. We should trust God, even when we don’t understand His greater purpose for our lives.
Scripture can encourage us when we feel completely overwhelmed. Who better to trust in than God. Psalm 56:8 tells us that God not only see our tears, He collects them. This means he cares about your worry, your anxiety, your fears, your pain more than you can comprehend. You just have to trust that God will hold your hand through every circumstance.
Jonathan PetersenContent manager for Bible Gateway
When you try to tell your friends about Jesus, you may have encountered a negative response from them viewing it as being offensive, inappropriate, or insensitive. Studies confirm that the majority of Christians rarely evangelize, worried they might offend their family or lose their friends. How can you build confidence to share your faith?
Bible Gateway interviewed Sam Chan (@drsamchan) about his book, How to Talk About Jesus (Without Being THAT Guy): Personal Evangelism in a Skeptical World (Zondervan, 2020).
What is the underlying meaning of the title and subtitle?
Sam Chan: There’s an unspoken rule in the West. We can talk about the weekend, weather, and sports. But we can’t talk about Jesus. Because, if we do, we become “that guy.” This puts us Christians in a gut-wrenching dilemma. We want to tell our friends about Jesus. But we also don’t want to scare them away.
So I’ve written this book to show that we can talk about Jesus in socially appropriate ways without being awkward and cringeworthy. We can talk about Jesus and keep our friends!
Why is evangelism considered by many Christians to be scary and awkward?
Sam Chan: We effectively live in a de-facto closed country where we can’t talk about Jesus.
It’s not just Christians who find evangelism scary and awkward. Our friends will find us scary and awkward if we tell them about Jesus.
How is evangelism God’s work as well as a Christian’s work?
Sam Chan: Tim Keller uses the analogy of Elijah building his altar on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18). Elijah built his altar. But only God could send the fire. Yes, but… Elijah still had to build the altar.
It’s the same with evangelism. God sends the fire: he pours out his Spirit and opens someone’s heart to our message of Jesus (Acts 16:14). Evangelism is God’s work.
But evangelism is also our work: We need to tell the person about Jesus. We do this with our human words, stories, experiences, emotions, and personalities (2 Cor. 5:20).https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/894410008&color=%23e1df3a&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true
Why do you say evangelism is a lifestyle change?
Sam Chan: Evangelism is like fitness. Every New Year’s, we make the same resolution to get fit. So we sign up for a gym. We get up for a five a.m. run. But it only lasts a few weeks because we treated fitness as something to shoe-horn into our schedule. Instead, fitness needs to be a lifestyle change. It’s what we become.
Evangelism is the same. It can’t only be once-off events. Evangelism needs to be a lifestyle change. One where we deliberately merge our universes of friends—by introducing our non-believing friends to our believing friends. One where we go to our non-believing friends’ events so they also come to ours. One where we open up our homes for hospitality.
Why do you call hospitality the secret sauce of evangelism?
Sam Chan: The funny thing about hospitality is that it isn’t about the food at all. Hospitality is about conversations. The weird thing about us humans is that when we eat together we also talk. It ends up, not about the eating, but about the talking.
As a result, hospitality creates the spaces where sacred conversations happen.
In going to events at the invitation of non-Christians, where should Christians draw the line in what they attend?
Sam Chan: We can ask ourselves, what are our motivations?
Asian Christians often face this dilemma. Should they go to the funerals of their non-believing parents where there will be idol worship? Usually the Christian attends because their motivation is to honor their parents and not to worship idols.
We can also ask how will our attendance be interpreted?
My pastor friend Rohan tells me that when he got baptized, his atheist uncle turned up for the ceremony. No one interpreted the uncle’s attendance as evidence of his giving up atheism and adopting Rohan’s Christian faith. Instead, they saw him as an uncle showing respect to his nephew without adopting his faith.
In similar ways our attendance can show respect for our friendship without showing approval of the lifestyle. Our example is Jesus who went to dinners with both his religious opponents (Luke 7:36; Luke 14:1) and those on the opposite end of the religious spectrum—the tax collectors and sinners (for example, Luke 5:29; 19:5-6)
Jesus did this so much that he got criticized for it. People called him a “glutton and a drunkard” (Luke 7:34). It was scandalous that he was always “welcoming sinners and eating with them” (Luke 5:30; 15:1-2; 19:7).
We can learn much from Jesus’ answer: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32).
By calling them “sinners” Jesus was explaining that he doesn’t approve of their lifestyle. But it’s precisely because they are sinners that it’s a priority to eat and drink with them.
What we can learn from Jesus is this: if a non-believer asks us to one of their things—for example, a party, fundraiser, gig—we can make it a priority to go. Many of my Christian friends lament that they have no non-believing friends anymore. One way to change this is to make a point of going to whatever meals, parties, or events they invite us to.
What is the Golden Rule of Evangelism?
Sam Chan: The Golden Rule of Evangelism is to evangelize the same way you want to be evangelized.
For me, I don’t want someone to monologue at me. I want someone to listen to me without interrupting. I want someone to understand my point of view. That means when I evangelize, I should listen first and let them speak. Hopefully they will do the same for me.
The best way to do this is by asking questions! Experts point out that Jesus asked over 300 questions and was himself asked almost 200 questions. But he only gave a direct answer 8 times. In other words, his primary method of communication was to ask questions and listen.
In my book, I argue that maybe we need to learn to evangelize, less like a preacher who preaches a 20 minute monologue, and more like a counsellor who asks questions and guides you to speak out aloud the answer for yourself.
What do you mean, “tell a better story”?
Sam Chan: Up until now, our Western secular friends think they have the better story: “Don’t listen to anybody else. You’ve got to be true to yourself and do whatever it takes to be happy.”
Sadly, our friends hear our Christian story as the worse story: “You need to listen to authority figures and obey outdated views on sex and morality. Oh, and you can’t sleep in on a Sunday, because you have to go to church.”
But we can show them we really do have a better story than their secular storyline.
Our story is that there is a God who loves us, made us, and saves us. We’re more than atoms and molecules. We’re more than a blip in the timeline of the universe. Jesus died for us and lives for us. And now we can live for him. As a result, we can be part of God’s bigger story for us. We can be part of God’s mission to bring his love, mercy, and justice.
It’s a better story of purpose, hope, freedom, value, dignity, love, forgiveness, and redemption. All we have to do is open our friends’ eyes to see it. It’s always been there in the Bible. But we haven’t been very good at telling it to our friends.
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How and why should Christians “lean into disagreement”?
Sam Chan: Sooner or later we’re going to disagree with our non-believing friends over something. It’s inevitable. But rather than fear this moment, we should welcome it.
Because this is a teachable moment where we can gently help our friends examine their own views. We can do this with two types of questions.
The first question is: “Where do you get this belief from?” This allows our friend to explain the foundation of their belief. This will also gently expose some deficiencies in their belief. Maybe they’ll see that their belief is much less evidence-based than they’d assumed up until now.
For example, they might have strong beliefs on human rights. But now they’ll see that it’s very hard to demonstrate where human rights can come from, if there’s no God.
The second question is: “Why do you think we see things differently?” This prods our friend to see things from our Christian point of view. If they do this, they’ll interpret the facts in a whole new way—the Christian way.
For example, they’ll see that our views on human rights come from a loving God who sent his Son Jesus to become one of us. They’ll see how the Christian worldview provides a more loving and robust foundation for human rights.
If this happens, hopefully we won’t end up with an argument. Instead, we’ll have practiced the gentle art of persuasion.
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Sam Chan: I love John 4. There are so many things to love. What hasn’t been said already—Jesus offering living water to a shunned, shamed, and Samaritan woman?
But I’m going to pick up on something we tend to miss: “Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well” (v. 6).
Did you spot that? Jesus, the Son of God, the incarnate Second Person of the Trinity was tired. He had to sit down!
He might also have been peopled-out. Because Jesus sent his disciples into the town to buy food, while he stayed back (v. 8).
Jesus was like this, not because he was weak, lazy, or sinful. He was like this because he was one of us—a human.
If Jesus was able to embrace our humanness, maybe we can too. Sometimes we need to be kinder to ourselves and practice a bit more self-care.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App and Bible Audio App?
Sam Chan: I write a blog at EspressoTheology.com—aimed at both believers and non-believers. I love how I can easily reference the Bible by linking to the Bible Gateway site. If I didn’t do this, many of my readers simply wouldn’t be able to look up the Bible any other way.
I also have the Bible Gateway App on my phone. It’s an easy way to read the Bible wherever I am—especially in bed at night because I don’t have to worry about a bedlam.
I also like using Bible Gateway on my laptop when I’m writing talks. It’s much easier having the Bible already there on my screen than trying to nurse a Bible on my lap at the same time. (The Bible always ends up either flipping shut or falling off my lap—groan!)
How to Talk About Jesus (Without Being THAT Guy) is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Sam Chan (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; MBBS, University of Sydney) is a public evangelist with City Bible Forum in Sydney, Australia, where he regularly shares the gospel with high school students, city workers, doctors, and lawyers. He is the author of the award-winning book Evangelism in a Skeptical World and regularly speaks at conferences around the world on the practice of evangelism in a post-Christian culture. Sam blogs at EspressoTheology.com.Dive deep into Scripture with confidence and convenience when you become a member of Bible Gateway Plus. Try it right now!
It’s important that we are prepared.
By Lesli White
Given the current chaos and confusion in the world today, it is hard to avoid the thought that the end times are upon us. You’ve probably heard predictions of when the world will end, or perhaps you don’t even want to think about it. The truth is the world is straying from God and scripture points to several warnings we can see all around us. There are things Christians should be doing to get ready for these cataclysmic events, but there are also things that we should not do. Here are five end time errors Christians need to avoid.
Trying to calculate the date.
One common end time error Christians make is believing they will be able to predict the calculate the date, but we can’t. We should avoid determining a date and time for the end times. Despite many attempts throughout the years to calculate when it will take place, the truth is we cannot calculate the day Christ will return because God specifically chose not to reveal this to us. When Jesus was asked about the apocalyptic time by the apostles, He replied. “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:7-8). Only God knows the date, the time and the hour, and only God knows when the time will run out.
Looking for secret codes in scripture.
While many people will try to find ways to “decode” scripture and claim there are hidden codes in the Bible about the end times, the idea of hidden codes contradicts the Bible’s real message. The Bible frequently speaks about its clarity. Psalm 119:130 says, “The unfolding of Thy words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” Psalm 19:7 teaches, “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” Anyone who claims that they can decipher the cryptic messages God “hid” in scriptures is lying. Such “experts” are not needed because the Bible contains no hidden codes. There are concepts in the Bible that are hard to understand, even the apostle Peter admitted that (2 Peter 3:15). The way to discover the meaning of these hard passages is not by finding hidden messages, but by engaging different study that accurately handles the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
Not keeping Christ-focused.
As previously mentioned, we can’t calculate the date or the time of the end times, but we can be intentional about the time given to us. We should live our lives so that when Christ arrives, we can say our time has been well-spent.
A Christ-focused life is one that centers on a commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord. At the heart of every human decision is motivation. Some people are motivated by the quest for pleasure or money. Some center their entire lives on a goal, a job, or even their families. We should be sure that what we are motivated by doesn’t become our god. When we center our hearts on Jesus, our lives quickly follow.
Not testifying to the truth about God.
One common end time error Christians make is not testifying to the truth about God. Revelation 12:1 points out how to prepare for the end times and the tools we should utilize: “And they [believers on earth] overcome him [satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” This is the same Lamb pointed out in John 1:29, who takes away the sin of the world. Testifying is the personal action that makes this truth real. If we do not testify, nothing happens. Our testimony is the action that triggers the whole process and brings satan’s defeat. When we begin to testify God’s Word, we experience a special kind of opposition and begin to do the devil harm. The devil is fine with us believing whatever we like to believe until we begin to share our testimony. That’s when he gets rattled. When you do this, the enemy will do everything he can to frighten and discourage you because He wants to keep you from declaring the Word of God. Our testimony has great power.
Thinking hell doesn’t exist.
Nobody wants to talk or even think about hell, for the sake of themselves or the sake of others. Yet, it’s a major subject, in the New Testament, and when it comes to the end times. You may be surprised how many believers don’t believe or accept that hell exists. For those who doubt it, God has given us substantial evidence that hell does exist in His infallible message to us. If you don’t believe hell exists, consider these words from Jesus: “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him” (Luke 12:4-5). If you don’t believe hell exists, you don’t trust God’s Word or truth.
By understanding what God says about the end times, there can be peace in our hearts and an increased understanding of what is to come. As the world gets darker around us, and we face greater spiritual battles than ever before, we have hope through Jesus Christ.