Life is tough but God’s love…

for us is expressed in many ways. You may be thinking of John 3:16, where God the Father lovingly offered us salvation through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus.  What happens after that? How does He express love for us? Consider these verses from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. 

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NKJV)

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, ]thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 

The word love here is agape, a love of affection or benevolence.  It’s only possible for us through God the Holy Spirit who lives in us. This is how God wanted the brethren in Corinth to behave toward each other.  Did you know that this also describes God’s relationship with us? Toward us He is patient, kind, and is not jealous of anything we have or do. He is not rude, does not only care about Himself. He cares greatly for us. He takes no pleasure in our sins. He’s always ready to forgive us, He wants what’s best for us, which is His will in our life.   

Pastor Sharon and I encourage you to pray to your loving God about this. Ask Him to show you the many ways that He expresses His love for you.

Copyright 2018, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights Reserved.

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How important is love to God?

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NKJV)

 

13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

 

 

Why is that? Paul doesn’t say that we should not use the spiritual gifts God gives to us.  It’s because,  if we use them without love, He is not pleased with us.  Even if someone had the greatest possible amount of these these gifts, it wouldn’t change that.   And  how Does God want us to express that greatest of spiritual gifts?

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NKJV)

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 

 

 

Can we do this by our own human efforts? Impossible! Only through God the Holy Spirit who lives in us, can we express love in this way. And what is God’s purpose in this?

1 Corinthians 13:11 (NKJV)

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

 

 

Love is an essential part of Christian maturity, of “growing up” to be more like our example Jesus.  Pastor Sharon and I encourage you to pray about this. Ask your heavenly Father to change you in this way by His Holy Spirit so that over time you can express this love more and more.

 

Copyright 2018, Pastors George and Sharon Billington,  All Rights Reserved

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What’s the love-martyrdom connection?

When you think of a Christian being a martyr, what comes to mind?  Perhaps you think of this scripture.

Revelation 2:13 (NKJV)

13 “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is.And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.

 

Jesus commends the faith of Antipas, who gave up his life rather than give up his relationship with his Lord and Savior. The faith Antipas had was of God, a fruit of the Holy Spirit. But there was another fruit of the Spirit necessary for Antipas to do what God wanted Him to do. That was love.  Consider this scripture about love.  I’m going to use a paraphrase version, which brings out the implied meaning.

Luke 14:26 (AMP)

26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life [in the sense of indifference to or relative disregard for them in comparison with his attitude toward God]—he cannot be My disciple. 

 

In other words, God wants us to love Him so much, that we would choose to do whatever he wants for us.  Even over what anyone else (whom we love), wants us to do. How’s that  possible? Because of two things that God gives us.  Faith, a supernatural knowing or conviction of what He wants. And love, which comes from Him that enables us to make that choice. Not because we’re afraid of not doing it, but because we love God and want to please Him.  This scripture shows how God grants all of the spiritual gifts needed to accomplish His will.

 

Revelation 12:11 (NKJV)

11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. 

 

These Christians were saved by Jesus blood, which paid the death penalty for their sins. That was God’s gift. The faith to believe that was His gift. What to testify and the courage to say it was God’s gift. And the love to choose Him over their own life was His gift.

 

Pastor Sharon and I encourage you to pray about this. Ask Your Heavenly Father in Jesus name to give you the spiritual gifts needed to accomplish His will in your life.

 

 

Copyright 2018, Pastors George and Sharon Billington , All Rights Reserved.

 

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When what God does in your life doesn’t make sense, do you still trust Him?

God’s purpose in His peoples lives have been frequently misunderstood.  Joseph didn’t understand this for many years.  Lets look at his story.

Genesis 37:5-10 (NKJV)

Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. So he said to them, “Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.”

And his brothers said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.”

10 So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?” 

In other words, his father and brothers told him “That’s not happening!”  Other things started to happen, fast. What was important  was that God used or engineered events to fulfill His purpose in Joseph’s life.  Joseph’s brothers intended to kill him, but  they were talked into selling him into slavery.  Joseph was taken to Egypt and sold to Potiphar, an officer in Pharaoh’s court.  God had Joseph in the nation He wanted Him to be, and with a possible connection to the ruler of that nation.

God was with Joseph, and he was blessed by God in everything he did.  Potiphar knew that. How did Potiphar know that?  God must have given him that knowledge. It was another one of God’s blessings, and Potiphar put Joseph in charge of his whole estate. What did Joseph make of all this? Did he think this was God’s purpose for his life? It wasn’t.  Someone new to Joseph’s story  might expect that next would come the realization of the dreams, but that was a long way off.

What was next was that Potiphar’s wife wanted to commit adultery with him, and when she was told no, she falsely accused him of mocking her. God did allow this to happen, but  adultery and lying are never part of God’s plan for someone’s life. God intervened again,  He must have given Joseph favor with Potiphar.  Instead of being killed, Joseph was put in prison.  Joseph may have thought his life was over, but God was continuing to work out His plan. And then? God blessed everything Joseph did, giving him favor with the keeper of the prison, and, yes, Joseph was put in charge of the place. Was he wondering by this time why God keep putting him in positions of leadership? That’s another good question.

Then Pharaoh became angry with his butler and baker and he put them into prison of the captain of the guard(Potiphar), where Joseph was in charge.  And they had dreams. The butler and the baker didn’t know what to make of them, but God gave Joseph the interpretation of them.  And what Joseph said came to pass: the butler was restored to his office, and the baker was executed.  What was next?  An introduction to Pharaoh? No, the butler forgot about Joseph, for two years. That didn’t stop God from continuing to work out His purpose. Was Joseph wondering about what God was doing in his life, first with dreams, and then with the interpretation of those dreams?

And then God sent a dream to Pharaoh. And he was so troubled by it that he sent for the magicians and wise men to tell him what it meant, but they couldn’t. And then the butler remembered Joseph and what he did (time and chance? I think not), and then Joseph met Pharaoh.  God gave him the interpretation of the dream, and wise counsel to Pharaoh about what to do concerning the coming years of plenty and famine. And then God did this:

Genesis 41: 38-44

And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?”

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.”

42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand; and he clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 And he had him ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried out before him, “Bow the knee!” So he set him over all the land of Egypt. 44 Pharaoh also said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no man may lift his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” 

Notice verses 42-44. Now Joseph was in a position where people did bow before him to acknowledge his authority. What had seemed impossible when Joseph had shared his dreams with his family thirteen years before had become reality.  Verse 46 tells us that he was thirty years old when given this authority.  But the events of his earlier dreams were still years in the future. God was working out a plan on a much greater and larger scale.

Nine years later, after seven years of plenty, and two years of famine came the time for those early dreams to become reality. God had engineered things so that Joseph’s family had to come to Egypt to get food. There was no where else to go. And no one was  buying any food unless Joseph approved the sale. Chapter 42, verses 5-6 are the start of the fulfillment of most of the details of the dreams with ten of Joseph’s brothers bowing before him.  Chapter 43 verse 26  has eleven of his brothers meeting him, and bowing. And the dream of the sun and moon and starts?  First there was another dream. Chapter 46 verses 2-4 where God reassured Jacob that it was safe for him to go to Egypt and meet this very powerful official, his son. And that Joseph still loved him, verses 29-30 confirm that. And who was missing from this dream? Rachael, his mother, was not there, could not be there, because she died soon after giving birth to his brother Benjamin. That part of the dream was not fulfilled in Joseph’s physical lifetime. And to this day we don’t know why, that is for the future.

So what was it all for? All those events over all those years. Was it just to reunite the family? Far from it, God had a much greater purpose for Joseph’s life.

 

 

Genesis 45:3-8 (NKJV)

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

 

Pastor Sharon and I encourage you to pray to God about the problems and difficulties in your life, about the things that you just don’t understand. Ask Him to give you the faith to trust Him, to know how much He loves you, and that He is working out the details in your life in a way that’s best for you and for others.

 

Copyright 2018, Pastors George and Sharon  Billington, All Rights Reserved.

Posted in bible study, Christian meditation, Christian teaching, faith, Joseph, obedience, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Will God …

 

Be with you during trials and tribulations?

 

Matthew 28:20 (NKJV)

20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

 

Give you what you need to get through them?

 

Philippians 4:19 (NKJV)

19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

 

Allow them to separate you from His love?

 

Romans 8:35-39 (NKJV)

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Give you comfort during those times?

 

2 Corinthians 1:4 (NKJV)

who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

 

Reward you for your faithfulness?

 

2 Timothy 4:8 (NKJV)

Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

 

Pastor Sharon and I encourage you to pray about this and ask God for the faith to believe and rely on His promises.

 

copyright 2018,Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights Reserved.

 

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Is God pleased with your endurance?

Why does God allow His people to endure persecutions and tribulations in this physical life? None of us knows all of the reasons why God does what He does.  Here are just some of them from scripture.

James 5:11 (NKJV)

11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

 

The suffering and patience of  Job were an example or a witness.   Job’s endurance and faithfulness to God was a witness to Satan. That his claim that Job only served God for what he could get out of it was nonsense .  And a witness that when the amount of suffering that God has allowed has been reached, in His compassion and mercy,  He ends it. And nothing or no one can stop Him from doing that.

 

2 Thessalonians 1:3-6 (NKJV)

We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you,

 

These verses also show how that the endurance of the Thessalonian Christians  were  an example and a witness. Their faith and Christian love for each other were an example of how God wants His people to live.  Their faith and patience in persecution and tribulation were a witness that they put their relationship with God , their willingness to obey Him, first in their lives.  And because of that, God counted them worthy of the kingdom of God.  God does care about His people, and in His timing His judgment will be on those who hurt them.

 

Pastor Sharon and I encourage you to pray about this post.  Ask God to grant you all you need in order to endure whatever amount of suffering and trial that He has willed for your life.

 

Copyright 2018, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights reserved.

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What you can’t do, God can.

It’s widely accepted in the church that you can’t save yourself by your own efforts. As the scripture says,

Romans 6:23 (NKJV)

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The only thing that pays the penalty for sin death, not good works. We can give our own life for sin,  but that would not do us any good because then we would be dead.  Impossible for us, but God did it by sending His Son to die for us.

What about being more like  Jesus by our own efforts?  Consider these verses

Galatians 5:19-23 (NKJV)

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Verses 19-21 show what we can do ourselves without God’s help. But doing those works of the flesh will not make us one bit more like our example Jesus.  What we can’t do by ourselves is to produce the fruits in verse 22.  Again what’s impossible for us, is done by God the Holy Spirit.

Pastor Sharon and I encourage you to pray about this and ask your  Heavenly Father to change you through His Holy Spirit to be more like Jesus.

 

 

Copyright 2018, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights Reserved

Posted in being a disciple of Christ, being spirit-led, bible study, change, Christian meditation, Christian teaching, devotional, God the Holy Spirit, obedience, spiritual teaching, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment