As followers of Christ, we strive to live in a way that visibly attests to the work of God in our lives. Yet it’s easy to feel timid or reluctant about displaying our faith—especially if we’ve failed before. Abram knew what it was like to fail in trusting God fully. In Genesis 12, he acted out of fear and self-preservation in the face of danger instead of trusting in God’s promise (Gen 12:10–20). Yet God remained faithful to him. In Genesis 14, when Abram learned that his nephew was in danger, he didn’t hesitate to act. Emboldened by God’s promise, Abram confidently set his eyes on the armies of the Mesopotamian kings, and with his band of trained men, he took down an army of giants.
Our past failures or lapses of faith do not prevent God from using us to accomplish great things, whether in witnessing to His work in our lives or defeating armies of giants (see Psa 118:6; Rom 8:31). Abram’s life shows us that God can and will use us despite our weaknesses and failures (see 1 Cor 1:26–31). This encourages us, like the Apostle Paul, to recognize that God’s grace is sufficient and that His power is made evident through our weakness (2 Cor 12:9).
In Colossians 3:17, Paul wrote, “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (ESV). Paul recognized that when we live out our faith, others notice—and they benefit from our efforts. This was true in Abram’s life: The Canaanite priest-king Melchizedek recognized Abram’s courage and, more importantly, God’s hand in Abram’s victory. Our faith should not only affect us, it should affect those around us as we respond to God’s call to live as disciples of Christ (see Col 3:12–15).
1. Read 1 Corinthians 1:26–31 and 2 Cor 12:9–10. How does Paul describe our weakness compared to God’s strength? How does this encourage you to rely on the Lord?
2. How can you show God’s love to others by living faithfully? How does putting to death “what is
earthly” and putting on a new being affect how you relate to others (see Col 3:5–17)?
I recently witnessed a social-media interaction that looked to be a triumphant and encouraging celebration of enlightenment.
A young woman, new in her Christian journey, who for the most part, goes largely unnoticed online, had posted a status regarding a certain behavior she’d been engaged in. She declared that she’d received new revelation of how damaging this behavior was, then publicly renounced it, and encouraged others to do the same.
In turn, she was rewarded with multiple virtual thumbs-up and comments of encouragement from other well-meaning Christians.
On the surface, this seemed like a beautiful interaction, filled with praise and exhortation, and I have no doubt whatsoever that this is what her encouragers and congratulators were feeling.
However, further reflection upon this scenario, had me asking myself this question: Are we teaching people how to fall in love with Jesus, or are we just teaching them to behave like good Christians?
Look, I can see why my thinking and questioning may seem critical, but I’m really just trying to prompt us to mindfully assess the motivations behind our actions, even those that carry the very best of intentions.
In my humble opinion, I see so much of what we do in the church as simply Behavior Modification Techniques….for obstinate children.
I hope that makes you cringe as much as it does me.
And I don’t for a second stand in judgment; I cringe because I’ve done the same thing with people with whom I’ve been journeying.
I’ve rewarded “good” behavior with my praise, approval and affection and shunned people as they’ve displayed poor or unhelpful behaviors. Shamefully, I also have been guilty of distancing myself from people who, in my flawed opinion, were just “not getting the whole God thing.”
Self-righteousness isn’t a good look on me, and yet for a while there, I accessorized every outfit with it.
The thing is, the church was never designed to be a congregation of pop psychologists.
We often think so highly of ourselves and our righteousness that we forget why we have it in the first place!
I don’t believe that the body of Christ was ever designed to be a peer support group for Behavior Modification.
Have we forgotten that it is God alone who is able to bring about such a complete transformation that it alters mind, body and spirit?
Our behavior is merely the out-working of intimacy with our Creator!
Our job as fellow journey-people is to introduce people to Jesus, to facilitate relationship. Sometimes that means giving Spirit-led directions, sometimes it means walking with them (for as long as it takes!), and sometimes we pick up their weary butts and drag them to Jesus’ feet.
But let us never forget who it is that does the real work, and how it occurs, inside out.
By all means, go, encourage! Heaven knows we need more exhorters; it’s a precious and much-needed gift!
By all means, reward; we certainly need more givers!
But let us also remember, not just with our minds, but also our hearts exactly where it is that we have come from, and the grace that stops us from going back. So often when we stumble, trip or face-plant ourselves directly into a pig’s sty, all we need is the presence of a companion.
A companion who will just sit with us in the filth, ignoring the smell, not caring that their feet and clothes are now also covered in crap, just being.
There will come a time for the clean up, for words of healing, and perhaps where relationship allows, even reprimand.
But this is the profundity of intimacy with Jesus: It brings about positive change, oft without a word of correction ever needing to be spoken by us. So again, I ask, gently, and implore you to ponder: Are you teaching people how to fall in love with Jesus, or are you just teaching them to behave like good Christians?
We have our Communion Service on the First week. Come have communion with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
What Is The Holy Communion?
The Holy Communion, known also as the Lord’s Supper, represents the greatest expression of God’s love for His people.
Two items are used in the Holy Communion—the bread which represents Jesus’ body that was scourged and broken before and during His crucifixion, and the cup which represents His shed blood.
When Jesus walked on earth, He was vibrant, and His body was full of life and health. He was never sick. But before Jesus went to the cross, He was badly scourged by the Roman soldiers, and His body was torn as He hung on the cross.
At the cross, God also took all our sicknesses and diseases and put them on Jesus’ originally perfect and healthy body, so that we can walk in divine health. That is why the Bible says by His stripes, we are healed (Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24).
In Luke 22:20, Jesus tells us that the cup is the “new covenant in My blood”, and the apostle Paul tells us that the blood of Jesus brings forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:14, Ephesians 1:7).
Why Do Believers Partake Of The Holy Communion?
Besides being born again in Christ, a healthy body and mind are the greatest blessings anyone can have. And the Holy Communion is God’s ordained channel of healing and wholeness.
On the night that He was betrayed, Jesus ate His last supper with His disciples. And knowing what He would accomplish through His sacrifice, He instituted the Holy Communion (Luke 22:19–20, 1 Corinthians 11:24–25).
His loving instruction is that we are to remember Him as we partake of the Holy Communion. Jesus wanted us conscious of how His body was broken for our wholeness, and His blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins. And whenever we partake in this consciousness, we “proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
Today, when we partake of the bread, we are declaring that Jesus’ health and divine life flows in our mortal bodies. And when we partake of the cup, we are declaring that we are forgiven and have been made righteous. Jesus’ blood gives us right standing before God, and we can go boldly into God’s presence (Hebrews 4:16). When we pray, we can be sure that God hears us!
How Do I Partake Of The Holy Communion?
Before you partake, remember that the Holy Communion is not a ritual to be observed, but a blessing to be received.
Because it is not a ritual, there is no prescribed bread or special drink required. In the Last Supper, Jesus used whatever He had at the table—bread commonly eaten at supper, and whatever they were drinking.
To partake, first, hold the bread in your hand and say:
Thank You, Father, for the gift of Your Son. By the stripes that fell on His back, my body is healed from the crown of my head to the very soles of my feet. Every cell, every organ, every function of my body is healed, restored, and renewed. In Jesus’ name, I believe and I receive. [Eat the bread.]
Next, take the cup in your hand and say:
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your precious blood. Your sin-free, disease-free, poverty-free life is in Your blood. And Your shed blood has removed every sin from my life. Through your blood, I am forgiven of all my sins—past, present and future—and made completely righteous. Today, I celebrate and partake of the inheritance of the righteous, which is preservation, healing, wholeness and provision. Thank You Lord Jesus, for loving me. Amen. [Drink the wine.]
In Ephesians 4: 4-6, emphasis is given to those great fundamental facts of the Christian faith which are at once its unifying features. In verses 7 – 16, the apostle writes of the diversity of gifts which characterise those who are members of Christ’s Body, the Church. This is an intriguing theme, and we need also to refer to three other New Testament passages which deal with the subject of spiritual gifts – look up Romans 12: 3-8; 1 Corinthians l2: 4-11 (indeed, chapters 12, 13 and 14); and 1 Peter 4: 10-11. Let us confine our study to the teaching embodied in Ephesians 4: 4-16, and notice the following:-
1. The GIVER of the Gifts.
This is brought out in verses 7, 8 and 11, where we are told that Christ Himself gives spiritual gifts to the members of His Church; but especially notice verse 8, which is a quotation from Psalm 68: 18. The Lord Jesus went down into death, was raised and then ascended to Heaven. When He ascended, having conquered sin, death and Hell, He “led captives in his train” – (these were the Old Testament saints who up until the Ascension dwelt in Paradise), and then He received gifts from the Father in order that He might bestow these gifts upon the Church. But who does He give these gifts to?
2. The RECIPIENTS of the Gifts.
Are spiritual gifts only for a few members of the Body, the Church? – look at verse 7, and underline the words, “to each one of us”. That refers to every true believer. Every Christian, without exception, has received some gift from the risen and exalted Lord – see Romans 12: 4, where we are told that we all have some “function”; also 1 Corinthians 12:4-5 and 1 Peter 4: 10. It is wrong for any Christian to say, “There’s nothing I can do”, or, “My days of service are over now!” But note this wonderful fact: to every Christian has been given grace as Christ apportioned it (verse 7). You see, the nature of the gift determines the measure of grace that is supplied in order that we may exercise the gift. Grace is given to the preacher to preach, to the pray-er to pray, to the teacher to teach, to the helper to help (1 Corinthians 12: 28), and so on! But do all have the same gifts?
3. The DIVERSITY of the Gifts
Look at verse 11. Here Paul mentions five special gifts which the Lord has given to His Church, (or, five kinds of men to whom are given these special gifts):-
Apostles and prophets were given for the purpose of laying the foundations of the Church, as Ephesians 2: 20 tells us.
Evangelists: An evangelist’s ministry is especially directed towards the unconverted – look up 2 Timothy 4: 5.
Pastors: The word means “shepherds” – compare John 21: 15-17 and Acts 20:28. This is a caring ministry for the sheep in Christ’s fold.
Teachers: The work of the teacher is to instruct the Church in the things of God, to give milk to the babes (1 Peter 2: 2), and meat to those who are more mature (Hebrews 5: 14) in order that there may be growth and stability.
4. The PURPOSE of the Gifts.
In verses 12 and 14, we are told of a three-fold purpose that the Lord has in giving these gifts to His Church.
To Prepare us for Service. This is what verse 12 tells us. The meaning is this: The Lord has given evangelists, pastors, teachers, etc…” to prepare God’s people for works of service.” The evangelists, pastors and teachers are not to do all the ministry, but their chief task is that of getting the saints to function actively as members of the Body.
To Help us to Grow. Verse 12 goes on to say, “so that the body of Christ may be built up” God does not want us to remain as babies spiritually (1 Corinthians 3: 1-3), but He wants us to grow up (2 Peter 3: 18); therefore, He has given gifts to the Church, in order that the members may grow – look at verse 15!
To Protect us from Harm. The Enemy is always ready to deceive even the “elect” (Matthew 24: 24), and in order that we may be protected against his “false prophets” (Mark 13: 22), and their “destructive heresies” (2 Peter 2: 1), the Lord has placed teachers in the Church so that we may be instructed in the truth and know how to detect the Devil’s deadly counterfeits and lies! The ultimate purpose that the Lord has in giving gifts to His Church is indicated in verse 13 – which tells us also about:
5. The DURATION of the Gifts.
How long will the gifts be needed in the Church? Only until – verse 13! When we are with Christ, who is the Head of the Body, the Church, then He will be “all in all” (Ephesians 1: 23), and there will be no room for, or need of, gifts! He will be ALL!
Are you worried, anxious, afraid, or troubled?
God will give you peace.
In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. … He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. —Psalm 18:6, 19
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.—Psalm 46:1-2
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? —Psalm 56:3-4
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. —Isaiah 26:3
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me . . . Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.—John 14:1, 27
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.—John 16:33
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 4:6-7
Are you worried about the future?
God will guide you.
He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.—Psalm 25:9
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. —Psalm 32:8
If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.—Psalm 37:23-24
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.—Proverbs 3:5-6
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. —Proverbs 16:3
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. —Isaiah 41:10
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”—Jeremiah 29:11
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.—James 1:5
Are you afraid of feeling alone?
God will never leave you.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.—Deuteronomy 31:6
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. —saiah 58:9
The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.—Zephaniah 3:17
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.—John 14:18
Are you worried no one loves you?
God loves you.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.—John 3:16
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 8:38-39
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. —1 John 3:16
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. —1 John 4:10
Are you worried that God could never forgive your sins?
God’s salvation overcomes all sins and guilt.
As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. —Psalm 103:12
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. —1 John 1:9
Do you feel depressed?
God will comfort you.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. —Psalm 34:18
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. —Psalm 42:11
Are you worried because you face opposition?
God is with you.
If God is for us, who can be against us? —Romans 8:31
Are you worried about physical needs?
God will provide.
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 important than food, and the body more important 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? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.—Matthew 6:25-34
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!—Matthew 7:11
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. —Luke 12:6-7
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? —Romans 8:32
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.—2 Corinthians 9:8
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Do you worry about your safety?
God will protect you.
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. —Psalm 4:8
The Lord will keep you from all harm-he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.—Psalm 121:7-8
Do you worry so much that you can’t sleep?
God will ease your fears.
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. —Psalm 3:5
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. -Psalm 4:8
When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. —Proverbs 3:24
Are you worried about your appearance?
God looks at your heart.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” —1 Samuel 16:7
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. —Ecclesiastes 3:11
Are you worried about your health?
God will give you strength.
A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. —Psalm 34:19
The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.—Isaiah 58:11
“But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,” declares the Lord, “because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.”—Jeremiah 30:17
Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. —James 5:14-15
Are you worried about getting old?
God will stay with you.
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.—Psalm 92:12-14
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. —Isaiah 46:4
Are you worried about dying?
God offers eternal life.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.—Psalm 23:4
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.—John 3:16
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. —John 10:28
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” . . . Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. —1 Corinthians 15:55, 57
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. —Hebrews 2:14-15