There are a lot of quotes going around that well meaning people, even Christians believe are scripture, things from the Bible. Many of them aren’t. We’ve heard many of these things over the years in church, from our parents, other relatives, friends, and other people we respect. Most of these quotes are not bad in themselves, some of them are meant to encourage and inspire, but some of them are also direct contradictions of scripture. Sometimes what we don’t really know about what’s in the Bible can actually hurt us when we confuse something that “sounds like it came from the Bible” with biblical truth.
Nearly two years ago I started a “That's Not In The Bible” category in this blog. I wrote about a number of things that people think are in the Bible but aren't they included:
God Helps Those Who Help Themselves
God Will Never Give You More Than You Can Bear
God Moves In Mysterious Ways
Spare The Rod, Spoil The Child
To Err Is Human, To Forgive Divine
To Thine Ownself Be True
Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness
This Too Shall Pass
Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide
This post is to address some things that we as Christians shouldn't say. We often will say things with good intentions in relation to our or other's lives that aren’t based in the Bible. These statements can be damaging and can also interfere with our walk with God or someone else’s. There are many things that we say as followers of Christ so it’s important that what we say is truly representative of our faith and based on what is in the Bible.
Here are five things that Christians shouldn't say from a Beliefnet article by Lesli White. Lesli’s article has six things but I have selected five for this post. I have edited her article adding excerpts from past posts on this blog.
1. “The devil made me do it.”
This statement finds its genesis in the Garden of Eden. When Eve ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God confronted her about it. She shifted the blame for her sin by saying, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Things haven’t changed much over time. As much as we’d like to make Satan the scapegoat for all our bad choices, the concept just isn’t biblical. While Satan is the driving force behind much of the evil in our world today, we have our own sinful nature to blame for most of our sins. James 1:14 says, “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” While it may seem discouraging to realize the sin we struggle with finds its origins within ourselves, it can also be empowering. Instead of having to battle a satanic attack, all we have to do is battle our flesh, and we can do that through the Holy Spirit because if we are in Christ we are new creatures.
Galatians 5:16-26 (NIV) So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2. “We’re all God’s children.”
Generally when people make this statement, they really mean, “God created us all,” which is accurate. God is the Father of us all in the sense that He formed us and gave us life. We are not, however, all God’s children. 1 John 3:10 clearly describes those who have an intimate, personal, familial relationship with God:
1 John 3:10 (NIV) This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.
Because God is a relational being, until we accept His gift of eternal life by confessing and repenting of our sins, accepting Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross on our behalf, and surrendering our lives to Him, we cannot be His children in the truest, most biblical sense of the word. We are just one of His created beings.
Of course, there is a sense in which God is fatherly toward all his creation. But Scripture affirms that we only come to know God as our Father personally when through faith in Christ we are adopted into God’s family. Indeed, God is fatherly toward all his creation. God exercises a “providential care over the works of his hands. He is fatherly in relationship to everything he has made and everyone he has made. The fact that any human being anywhere exists and lives and breathes is a testimony to a paternal and benevolent relationship between the Creator and his creation. But as the confession of faith points out, God is properly Father only to those who know him through the Son.
Scripture attests to the unique fatherly relationship God has with his people on numerous occasions:
Ephesians 1:4-5 (NIV) For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--
Galatians 4:4-7 (NIV) But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “ Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
Romans 4:14-17 (NIV) For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.
Only those who have the Spirit of God can call out to God as “Abba! Father” (Daddy)
3. “Everything happens for a reason.”
We’ve all heard this statement. We may have even said it to someone who was in the midst of unimaginable grief, pain, heartache or despair. The truth is, sometimes bad things happen for no reason other than we are human beings having a human experience. Pain, heartache, grief, loss, disease and death are inevitable parts of the human experience. God’s plan is never for someone to have cancer. God’s Will is not for an innocent child to be brutally murdered. God’s Will is not chronic pain, illness, disability or death. God’s Will is for us to walk with Him through the cancer, through the abuse, through the death and through the illness. God’s Will is for us to draw close to Him in the midst of the pain. God’s Will is for us to use our painful life events to carry His message of hope, grace, forgiveness and mercy.
1 Thessalonians 5:16, 18 (NIV) Rejoice always, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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.
4. “God needed another angel.
”No matter the age, death is an inescapable reality for all of us. Ironically, many of us fear the death of family and friends more than we fear our own death. It’s the kind of death that produces extreme pain that stirs our emotions to grasp at any hope we can muster to cause our hearts a brief moment of rest from the effects of brokenness over unbearable loss. In the midst of grasping and searching for the right words to help others, or to even soothe our own souls, we tend to believe and say things that aren’t biblically true. In such seasons, people will say, “God gained another angel today.” The truth is humans are humans, and angels are angels. This remains so even in eternity. Often, the best things we can do in times of grief is hurt with them, hold them and just listen.
The following is from Humans Have Never Been And Will Never Be Angels
Angels are created beings and were created as angels. Angels are not human beings who have died and returned to heaven, nor are angels given physical bodies. They can appear and have the mannerisms of a human being for a time but not permanently. Both humans and angels are created beings and God created them for different purposes and with different different ranks in in God’s hierarchy.
Hebrews 2:6-7 NIV But there is a place where someone has testified: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor
Human beings don't exist at all prior to their conception. Adam, the very first human became a “living being” when God formed his body from the ground.
Genesis 2:7 NIV Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
He was not an angel first. He originated from the earth. Jesus is the only human being whose existence as a person predated his human life on earth.
1 Corinthians 15:47-49 NIV The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
John 3:31 NIV The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all.
God’s plan for human beings after they die is not to become angels, but to await resurrection to immortal, eternal life as glorified, perfected human beings.
That means that we will be like angels but not be angels.
Luke 20:34-36 NIV Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.
This was Jesus’ response to a scenario posted by people trying to trick Jesus where the described a problem at the resurrection where a woman had married seven brothers in turn as each died leaving her childless. His point was that angels don’t have a life cycle like ours of birth, marriage, procreation, and death. The widow wouldn't be going back to the old life cycle after the resurrection either.
The good news is that in being like angels everything good that angels have that we don't have now we will in the resurrection. We will be immortal, we will have direct, unfettered access to God. We will have power and knowledge beyond anything we can experience in our present mortal, fallen condition.
In fact it will be even better than that.
1 John 3:1-3 NIV See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
We will have the best of both worlds. We will have the best things of our human nature. We will be able to enjoy the world that God created in it's originally intended perfection. We will keep our genders although we won't need to be “fruitful and multiply” We will have the best of both worlds, just as God intended.
5. "Satan is testing me.”
How many times have you been through a really tough situation and thought “This is the devil’s work” and thought that you were being tested by him. You may have good intentions by thinking or saying this, but the truth is this kind of language hedges on abuse. When a seeker hears this, they hear an accusation that they have allowed the devil to claim territory in their hearts. It’s the kind of statement that can make people think that something is intrinsically wrong with them, something that has reached the inner depths of their souls. No, there is nothing wrong with doubting. Avoid these kinds of accusations at all costs.
The following is from Take Responsibility, Stop Blaming The Devil, And Use The Power, And Authority That You Have In Christ.
So why do we say that Satan did this or that?
I believe that it's because we don't want to take responsibility for our actions.
I repeat the devil cannot make us do anything and the Christian can't be possessed by demons!
Demon possession is a condition in which a demon or demons have complete control over a person. Demon possession involves demons actually inhabiting a person and controlling his or her actions. Christians cannot be demon possessed. The indwelling Holy Spirit will not allow it!
Romans 8:9 (NKJV) But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
Ephesians 5:18 (NKJV) And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,
So, the devil and his demons cannot control a believer. They cannot make us do anything involuntarily. So, rather than blame the devil, all the time, we need to look at ourselves.
People are inclined to blame the devil in order to remove their guilt, justify their actions, and ignore their responsibility and the things God wants to teach them through their suffering. This has been true from the beginning.
Eve blamed the serpent for her disobedience.
Genesis 3:13 (NKJV) And the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
Adam actually blamed God for giving Eve to be with him.
Genesis 3:12 (NKJV) Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate."
Yes Satan instigated the temptation but Eve responded with unbelief and disobedience, and Adam failed to take his responsibility as the leader of his family.
Resist the devil
James 4:7 (NKJV) Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
I don’t think that James would have said that under the direction of the Holy Spirit if it wasn't true so when we resist the devil, and I mean really resist then he will flee. An example is when I was a child and my brother and I would get into an argument and I didn't want to be bothered with him I would go to our room and try to keep him out. He would push on one side of the door and I would hold the door or resist his efforts to get in. If I did it with all my strength he would give up and leave but if I didn't he would push his way in. So we have to resist with all of our might knowing that our strength comes from the Lord so we are more than able to resist. Remember greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world?
Much of our suffering is the direct result of our own self-induced misery, sometimes as a product of our ignorance, or unbelief, or indifference, or a combination of them. So Scripture tells us to resist the devil and he will flee from us, to put on the whole armor of God, to be controlled by means of the Spirit, to have Word-filled lives, to walk circumspectly and in wisdom, and to be on alert because of the activity of Satan who is constantly on the prowl.
Don't give Satan any undeserved power
While we need to acknowledge Satan’s constant activity, his ways, and we need to be on alert, our primary focus should be, not on Satan, but on the Lord and our responsibility to grow in Christ. It is often a cop out, for us to blame the devil when what's needed is an honest personal examination and confession.
As Christians, whenever we blame Satan for our sins, we’re empowering him while ignoring Christ. When we do this we buy into the lie that Satan can bypass and overcome God’s redemptive grace in our lives and the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection.
We need to realize that God has delivered us and accept the freedom He’s given us through Jesus' death on the cross. By admitting that Jesus’ sacrifice has real consequences relating to our current lives, our entire perspective changes, and we become fearless instead of fearful, hopeful instead of hopeless, and bold instead of timid.
Psalm 117:1-2 (NKJV)1 Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!
2 For His merciful kindness is great toward us, And the truth of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!
A Shout Of Praise
At only two verses Psalm 117 is the shortest song included in the book of Psalms (the Psalter).
The first verse is a universal call to praise. What’s unique in this universal call is that throughout the Psalter the call to praise is directed at the nation of Israel with little regard for the nations surrounding them. In this psalm all nations (all you peoples) are called to praise the God of Israel.
Verse two give the reasons for giving praise. The Lord is:
This merciful kindness is shown towards all of mankind not to the Jewish people only.
This mercy has been very great, or powerful. For us today God’s mercy and kindness are shown in Christ and all mankind can join in this acknowledgment, and in the praise which is therefore due.
Galatians 3:26-29 (NKJV)26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
This truth of God’s merciful kindness endures forever. He has kept his covenant promise that in the seed of Abraham should all nations of the earth be blessed, and he will eternally keep every single promise of that covenant to all those who put their trust in him. This should be a cause of constant and grateful praise. The Psalm ends and it begins with “Praise the Lord”
You probably know most of the prophets in the Bible like Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Daniel, Jonah, and the others with Old Testament books named for them, but the bible identifies many more prophets. In this blog series we will get to know most of the prophets of the Bible, the ones with books named after them, and those whose names you may not know at all.
The English word prophet in the Old Testament comes from the Hebrew word “nabiy” which means “spokesman” or “speaker”. The Greek word for prophet is “prophētēs”, which can mean “one who speaks forth” or “advocate.” Prophets are also called “seers,” because of their spiritual insight or their ability to “see” the future, as directed by God.
Malachi is the name the prophet who authored the last book of the Old Testament.
The name Malachi comes from a Hebrew word meaning “messenger,” which points to his role as a prophet of the Lord, That is really all we know about him. There is nothing in the book that tells us anything about his birthplace and where he lived. He, differing from several of the other prophets, doesn’t identify his father, or give the names of any of the kings that reigned during his life and ministry. We do know from the contents of the book that he delivered his message to the people of Israel after the Babylonian exile.
Malachi 1:1 (NLT2)1 This is the message that the LORD gave to Israel through the prophet Malachi.
Malachi 2:11 (NLT2)11 Judah has been unfaithful, and a detestable thing has been done in Israel and in Jerusalem. The men of Judah have defiled the LORD’s beloved sanctuary by marrying women who worship idols.
We can get an idea of the time and historical setting of Malachi’s ministry by his use of the Persian word pechah that he uses for governor.
Malachi 1:7-8 (NLT2)7 “You have shown contempt by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar. “Then you ask, ‘How have we defiled the sacrifices?’ “You defile them by saying the altar of the LORD deserves no respect.8 When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. (emphasis mine)
This indicates that he lived and ministered at a time when the nation of Israel was still under the control of the Persian Empire. The altar of the Lord he talked about, was the altar at the Temple in Jerusalem. The temple was rebuilt after the return from the Babylon exile. This places the timing of Malachi's ministry sometime after 515 BC when the temple construction was completed.
Malachi’s concerns with temple worship are similar to those of Nehemiah, which is the reason that some scholars date the book during the time that Nehemiah was away from Jerusalem starting in 432 BC.
Nehemiah 13:6-9 (NLT2)6 I was not in Jerusalem at that time, for I had returned to King Artaxerxes of Babylon in the thirty-second year of his reign, though I later asked his permission to return.7 When I arrived back in Jerusalem, I learned about Eliashib’s evil deed in providing Tobiah with a room in the courtyards of the Temple of God.8 I became very upset and threw all of Tobiah’s belongings out of the room.9 Then I demanded that the rooms be purified, and I brought back the articles for God’s Temple, the grain offerings, and the frankincense.
The people of Judah had turned away from the true worship of the Lord, leaving themselves under judgment and in need of salvation.
Why Malachi Is Important
Most people only know about Malachi from the scripture that preachers use at offering time to encourage and sometimes threaten people to tithe but the book of Malachi is much more important than that.
Malachi 3:8-11 (NKJV)8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings.9 You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation.10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.11 "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field," Says the LORD of hosts;
Malachi is important because;
Genesis 22:18 (NLT2)18 And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”
Jeremiah 23:5-6 (NLT2)5 “For the time is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land.6 And this will be his name: ‘The LORD Is Our Righteousness.’ In that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety.
Numbers 14:34 (NLT2)34 “‘Because your men explored the land for forty days, you must wander in the wilderness for forty years—a year for each day, suffering the consequences of your sins. Then you will discover what it is like to have me for an enemy.’
Leviticus 26:14-16, 33-34 (NLT2)14 “However, if you do not listen to me or obey all these commands,15 and if you break my covenant by rejecting my decrees, treating my regulations with contempt, and refusing to obey my commands,16 I will punish you. I will bring sudden terrors upon you—wasting diseases and burning fevers that will cause your eyes to fail and your life to ebb away. You will plant your crops in vain because your enemies will eat them. 33 I will scatter you among the nations and bring out my sword against you. Your land will become desolate, and your cities will lie in ruins.34 Then at last the land will enjoy its neglected Sabbath years as it lies desolate while you are in exile in the land of your enemies. Then the land will finally rest and enjoy the Sabbaths it missed.
Jeremiah 29:10 (NLT2)10 This is what the LORD says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.
By the time of Malachi, they had been back in the land of Israel for more than a hundred years and were looking for the blessings they expected to receive when they returned. Though the temple had been rebuilt, they were no longer excited about being able to worship God in their own land. They has become apathetic about the things of God. This led to corruption among the priesthood and a spiritual lethargy among the people.
Malachi 2:1-9 (NLT2)1 “Listen, you priests—this command is for you!2 Listen to me and make up your minds to honor my name,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “or I will bring a terrible curse against you. I will curse even the blessings you receive. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you have not taken my warning to heart.3 I will punish your descendants and splatter your faces with the manure from your festival sacrifices, and I will throw you on the manure pile.4 Then at last you will know it was I who sent you this warning so that my covenant with the Levites can continue,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.5 “The purpose of my covenant with the Levites was to bring life and peace, and that is what I gave them. This required reverence from them, and they greatly revered me and stood in awe of my name.6 They passed on to the people the truth of the instructions they received from me. They did not lie or cheat; they walked with me, living good and righteous lives, and they turned many from lives of sin.7 “The words of a priest’s lips should preserve knowledge of God, and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.8 But you priests have left God’s paths. Your instructions have caused many to stumble into sin. You have corrupted the covenant I made with the Levites,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.9 “So I have made you despised and humiliated in the eyes of all the people. For you have not obeyed me but have shown favoritism in the way you carry out my instructions.”
Malachi came along at a time when the people were struggling to believe that God loved them .
Malachi 1:2 (NLT2)2 “I have always loved you,” says the LORD. But you retort, “Really? How have you loved us?” And the LORD replies, “This is how I showed my love for you: I loved your ancestor Jacob,
God told the people, through Malachi, where they had fallen short. If they hoped to see changes, they needed to take responsibility for their own actions and serve God faithfully according to the promise their fathers had made to God on Mount Sinai.
Exodus 24:3 (NLT2) Then Moses went down to the people and repeated all the instructions and regulations the LORD had given him. All the people answered with one voice, “We will do everything the LORD has commanded.”
That’s where that favorite scripture before offering comes in.
Malachi 3:10-11 (NKJV)10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.11 "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field," Says the LORD of hosts;
What God is saying is to do what you said you would do at Mt. Sinai. When you do that you will experience the mercy of God that Malachi writes about.
Malachi 3:11-12, 17-18 (NLT2)11 Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.12 “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 17 “They will be my people,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child.18 Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”
The book of Malachi provides a smooth transition from the Old Testament which talks about judgement for not being able to obey the Law (Old Covenant), and the New Testament, the New Covenant under which righteousness comes through the final sacrifice for sin by Jesus Christ on the cross. Malachi ends with the announcement of the one who will introduce that New Covenant and be the herald for the Messiah.
Malachi 4:5-6 (NLT2)5 “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives.6 His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
That person was John the Baptist.
Isaiah 40:3 (NLT2) Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!
Mark 1:1-4 (NLT2)1 This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. It began2 just as the prophet Isaiah had written: “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way.3 He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for him!’”4 This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had turned to God to receive forgiveness for their sins.
Audacious means to show a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks. To have audacious faith is the willingness to believe God’s promises no matter the circumstances. God did not create you to be ordinary or complacent. You need to step up, step out and step into your purpose. And when you do this, expect some resistance in many forms but this is what you do: activate your audacious and persistent faith.
1 John 5:14-15 (NLT2)14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.
Mark 11:22-24 (NLT2)22 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God.23 I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.
Audacious faith is the kind of faith that Joshua had when he prayed and asked God to make the sun stop in the sky until the Israelite army defeated the Amorites.
Joshua 10:12-14 (NLT2)12 On the day the LORD gave the Israelites victory over the Amorites, Joshua prayed to the LORD in front of all the people of Israel. He said, “Let the sun stand still over Gibeon, and the moon over the valley of Aijalon.”13 So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies. Is this event not recorded in The Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the middle of the sky, and it did not set as on a normal day.14 There has never been a day like this one before or since, when the LORD answered such a prayer. Surely the LORD fought for Israel that day!
The Perhaps Paradox
Excerpts from the YouVersion Reading Plan Sun Stand Still Devotional by Steven Furtick (Edits mine).
If you'’re not daring to believe God for the impossible... you'’re sleeping through some of the best parts of your Christian life. And further still, if the size of your vision for your life isn't intimidating to you, there’'s a good chance it’'s insulting to God. You should be living by audacious faith every day. Audacity is not just for “elite Christians.” It’'s intended for every believer. So today we’'re beginning a spiritual journey toward trusting God for what seems impossible. I'’m thrilled to think about what it’s going to do for our lives and our world.
1 Samuel 14:1-15 (NLT2)1 One day Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Come on, let’s go over to where the Philistines have their outpost.” But Jonathan did not tell his father what he was doing.2 Meanwhile, Saul and his 600 men were camped on the outskirts of Gibeah, around the pomegranate tree at Migron.3 Among Saul’s men was Ahijah the priest, who was wearing the ephod, the priestly vest. Ahijah was the son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub, son of Phinehas, son of Eli, the priest of the LORD who had served at Shiloh. No one realized that Jonathan had left the Israelite camp.4 To reach the Philistine outpost, Jonathan had to go down between two rocky cliffs that were called Bozez and Seneh.5 The cliff on the north was in front of Micmash, and the one on the south was in front of Geba.6 “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the LORD will help us, for nothing can hinder the LORD. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”7 “Do what you think is best,” the armor bearer replied. “I’m with you completely, whatever you decide.”8 “All right then,” Jonathan told him. “We will cross over and let them see us.9 If they say to us, ‘Stay where you are or we’ll kill you,’ then we will stop and not go up to them.10 But if they say, ‘Come on up and fight,’ then we will go up. That will be the LORD’s sign that he will help us defeat them.”11 When the Philistines saw them coming, they shouted, “Look! The Hebrews are crawling out of their holes!”12 Then the men from the outpost shouted to Jonathan, “Come on up here, and we’ll teach you a lesson!” “Come on, climb right behind me,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “for the LORD will help us defeat them!”13 So they climbed up using both hands and feet, and the Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor bearer killed those who came behind them.14 They killed some twenty men in all, and their bodies were scattered over about half an acre.15 Suddenly, panic broke out in the Philistine army, both in the camp and in the field, including even the outposts and raiding parties. And just then an earthquake struck, and everyone was terrified.
The army of King Saul has been locked in a standoff against the Philistines. And Jonathan, the king’'s son, has become so aggravated with the inaction of his fellow warriors that he decides to make a bold move. He enlists his armor bearer to join him on a two-man commando raid.
His battle plan is potentially God inspired— - and a little ludicrous. The two young men will openly approach the enemy outpost. If they get a go-ahead sign from God, they will attack. A borderline suicide mission. But if God is with them, Jonathan figures, nothing can stop them.
In his motivational speech to his bodyguard, Jonathan seems to be speaking out of both sides of his mouth: •
- Nothing can hinder the Lord.
- Perhaps the Lord will act.
At first glance this seems like spiritual schizophrenia.
But perhaps Jonathan isn’'t schizophrenic. Perhaps true faith always feels this way. On the one hand, I know that God is able to do anything. On the other hand, I think He’'s willing to do this specific thing. I know God can. And I’'m pretty sure He will. But I can'’t be completely sure.
That’'s where audacious faith comes in.
Audacity isn’'t the absence of uncertainty and ambiguity. Audacity is believing that God’s promise is bigger than my perhaps.
The Bible says that God’'s Word is a lamp unto our feet (Psalm 119:105), not a floodlight beaming to our destination. So, armed with the confidence that there’'s a decent chance and an interesting possibility that my impulse might be from God (perhaps, in other words), I start investigating.
We'’d all like to live in a world where God lets us do big things that require minimal risk. Where the voice of the Holy Spirit carries for miles and miles, piercing through static and fuzz, jeers and taunts. The fact is, though, that the land where the sun stands still is a land where promise and perhaps must coexist. Audacious faith does not eliminate doubt and fear. It eclipses their power one decision at a time. You know God’'s will by doing God’'s will.
Jonathan and his armor bearer ended up saving the day in a spectacular way. Their act of audacious faith tilted the fate of an entire nation.
How much of God’s miraculous power are we unable to experience because we never pray prayers that are bigger than us?
Pray prayers beyond the scope of your own life, and watch what God will do in your own life.
There’'s nothing our world needs more desperately today - —in individuals, families, businesses, churches, and communities— - than God’s saving, supernatural acts. And God is ready to act if we will be bold enough to ask, not just for a good day or a better life, but for the impossible and then will step forward to act in audacious faith.
God has an incredible life for you beyond your imagination. But to get there will require taking bold risks. It will require stepping up and facing your giants… and the unknown. Audacious faith goes hand in hand with trusting God’s will. This is an opportunity to leave your comfort zone and bravely move to where God is calling you.
Power that comes with authority can be applied for good or applied for evil and the Bible addresses both. It’s important for us to know the difference so that we know how to pray for those in power.
Last year, because of all the angst about the current President of the United States (POTUS), I wrote the post “LIke It Or Not The Bible Says We Must Pray For Our Leaders” . In that post I quoted scripture that says we should pray for and submit to our leaders because authority was established by God to maintain peace and order so that we, especially Christians, can live and worship in peace. Please notice that I did not say that we were to pray for an individual but for the authority (official capacity or office). Our prayers should ask God to surround them with wise counsel and to actually change them and any evil in them.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NLT)1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.3 This is good and pleases God our Savior,4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.
1 Peter 2:17 (NLT)17 Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king.
Titus 3:1 (NLT)1 Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good.
Romans 13:1-5 (NLT)1 Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.2 So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.3 For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you.4 The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.5 So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.
That post gives five very good ways to pray for those in power that you don’t agree with, no matter where you are on the political spectrum, Republican, Democrat, Independent, liberal, moderate, conservative, or anywhere in between.
Ezra 6:9-10 (NLT)9 “Give the priests in Jerusalem whatever is needed in the way of young bulls, rams, and male lambs for the burnt offerings presented to the God of heaven. And without fail, provide them with as much wheat, salt, wine, and olive oil as they need each day.10 Then they will be able to offer acceptable sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the welfare of the king and his sons. (Bold mine)
1 Peter 2:13-14 (NLT)13 For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state,14 or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. (Bold mine)
When evil leaders are in authority, our prayers for them are just as needed. Manasseh's reign over Judah which resulted in his capture and exile to Babylon was reversed when he repented. This shows that when evil leaders sincerely repent they can be used by God to restore what they have ruined.
2 Chronicles 33:1-3, 11-13 (NLT)1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years.2 He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, following the detestable practices of the pagan nations that the LORD had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites.3 He rebuilt the pagan shrines his father, Hezekiah, had broken down. He constructed altars for the images of Baal and set up Asherah poles. He also bowed before all the powers of the heavens and worshiped them11 So the LORD sent the commanders of the Assyrian armies, and they took Manasseh prisoner. They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon.12 But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the LORD his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors.13 And when he prayed, the LORD listened to him and was moved by his request. So the LORD brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh finally realized that the LORD alone is God!
Jeremiah 29:7 (NLT) And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”
Proverbs 21:1 (NLT) The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the LORD; he guides it wherever he pleases.
When our leaders obey the will of God, it is easier to “live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness”. When evil leaders are in authority, our prayers for them are just as needed.
Proverbs 29:2 (NLT)2 When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan.
Read the following devotion from the YouVersion Reading Plan Living In The Light: Money, Sex, And Power by John Piper
Mark 9:31-37 (NIV) because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it. They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
When great power is wielded in the pursuit of great good, we stand amazed and rejoice. God has appointed human government, for example, to wield power for good. “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” (1 Peter 2 v 13-14). When power is wielded to do justice, we rejoice.
But there is another side to power: “When the wicked rule, the people groan” (Proverbs 29 v 2).
Power may pursue great good, but it may also pursue great evil.
And therein lies one of the dangers of power. Morally, it is no better than the goal it pursues. It is a “good” only in the way that a saw is good—and one can use a saw to cut firewood but also to deface an heirloom.
Not only is power dangerous because it can be used to bring about evil, but also because it can be used to exalt the one who has it. Since all humans admire glory, and power can be part of glory, we are all tempted to seek this admiration by getting this power. We love to be admired and praised, and so we bend what power we have toward getting applause. In other words, our power is employed to exalt ourselves. This is a great danger.
Why do all humans have this craving? Because we have all exchanged the glory of God for images—especially the one in the mirror.
Romans 1:23 (NIV) and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
The reason we abuse power is because we do not delight in the glory of God’s right to all power. When we are blind to the glory of God’s passion to be known and loved as the source and sum of all power, we take it for our own, and use it for ourselves. That is not why God created the universe—or us.
God wants you to rest, to recharge, and to recover from the hustle and bustle stress, anxiety, and worry of life. He wants you to rest much that he commanded it. I wrote the following in my post “Stop Ministry Burnout Just Say No! It’s Not A Sin”, but it’s so important that it bears repeating;
The Commandment with the most written about it is the one commanding rest.
Exodus 20:8-11 (NLT)8 “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
9 You have six days each week for your ordinary work,10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you.11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.
Shabbat is the original Hebrew word for our English word sabbath. It comes from the root Shin-Beit-Tavand means “to cease, to end, to rest.”
The Bible says that those who will not rest are disobedient.
Exodus 31:14 (NKJV) You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.
Deuteronomy 5:12 (NKJV)12 'Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you.
Rest doesn’t come naturally to us. In order for us to truly rest we have to trust that God will take care of things for us. That includes all the ministry things that we do. We often use the fact that we are, in our words, “doing the work of the Kingdom” or we say “Satan never takes a day off so why should I?”
Since we refuse to rest, as God commands, no matter the reason, thank God He has put a mechanism in place that signals us that it just may be time to slow down and obey. I believe that mechanism is burnout which can come in a variety of ways.
Ministry is not a sprint; it is a marathon. Take the long view and realize that sometimes slowing down will make you more effective. Structure your time so that you are not always rushed. Take frequent breaks. Give yourself permission to take a nap and to rest.
Even When You're Worn Out: Always Enough, Never Too Much
Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan
Even When You’re Worn Out
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. — Psalm 23:1-3
Shepherds are tough mamma-jammas. There are still shepherds today — did you know that? There aren’t too many in America, but in rural areas across the globe, you can still find one lone guy who literally herds his sheep, moving them around and tending to their needs.
You know what a shepherd has to do to a particularly unruly sheep that won’t go where it’s supposed to? It’s pretty graphic, so hold on to your hat.
He’ll break one of the sheep’s legs.
If that sweet little ball of fluff won’t rest, won’t go the right way, won’t cooperate, the shepherd will take matters into his own hands to make sure the sheep is completely reliant on him as he nurses it back to health after the very wound he himself caused.
If you are worn out, here’s the deal: you’re human.
You live with the effects of a fallen world. You live in a world where people need sleep and rest and restoration. God made your body with the need to shut down for eight-ish hours a night. He made your mind with an intrinsic desire to get quiet and recuperate when things are too hectic or overwhelming. He made your soul desperate to find respite and rejuvenation in Him.
If you’re burned out, worn out, needing rest, and feeling tired, the good news is that you’re human.
The bad news is that if we continually resist His invitation to be human and resist our God-given need of recreation, He has the capacity and the loving inclination to break us a little so we are forced to stick close to Him.
God is beckoning you into a life full of pushing, pulling, and advancing for the sake of His kingdom. But He’s also inviting you into a life full of rest and stillness so you can draw near to Him. What would it look like to rewrite Psalm 23 for yourself, reading “He made me lie down” and remembering that first “He invited me to lie down. He went to quiet waters and so I followed Him”?
What would it look like to finally trash the idea that needing rest automatically equals some kind of deficiency or lack?
This is how He made us. He is not surprised. Rather, He is glorified by our resting and trusting in Him.
Let’s follow our Shepherd to the water and the quiet spaces. And let’s kick the Enemy in the teeth when he tells us we’re not enough because we’re worn out!
Excerpted with permission from Always Enough, Never Too Much by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan, copyright Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan. Published by Zondervan.
Click any link or this image to purchase your copy of Always Enough Never Too Much.
Discover God’s wild freedom as you find your identity in Jesus with 100 devotions that will help you target and banish lies and insecurities. Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan, bestselling authors of Wild and Free, walk you through the gift of truly knowing who you are in Christ in Always Enough, Never Too Much: 100 Devotions to Quit Comparing, Stop Hiding, and Start Living Wild and Free. We’ve all been there. We know that sneaking, small voice in our heads all too well—you’re too loud. Too quiet. Too young. Too old. Too unimportant. Too ugly. Too silly. Too serious. You’re not as successful as she is—look at her perfect family, look at her high-powered job, look at her great hair and size 4 skinny jeans. Why can’t you be more like her—be more in general? Why do you expect so much from everyone? Why can’t you take up less space? Ask for less? Be less? The lies track well-worn paths in our minds and our hearts, wearing us down and making us question our role in God’s kingdom. With a unique flip-book design, these 100 devotions are topical, so you can choose what you need most every time you open the pages. This book is designed for you,
Psalms 34:1-22 (NLT) I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord ; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord ’s greatness; let us exalt his name together. I prayed to the Lord , and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord , you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing. Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the Lord . Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous? Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil; he will erase their memory from the earth. The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken! Calamity will surely destroy the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished. But the Lord will redeem those who serve him. No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
The Lord Delivers The Righteous
When running from King Saul David went to Achish, king of the Philistine city of Gath. However Achish’s officers didn’t want him there so David pretended to be insane. He wrote Psalm 34 after being sent away from Gath.
1 Samuel 21:10-15 (NLT2)10 So David escaped from Saul and went to King Achish of Gath.11 But the officers of Achish were unhappy about his being there. “Isn’t this David, the king of the land?” they asked. “Isn’t he the one the people honor with dances, singing, ‘Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?”12 David heard these comments and was very afraid of what King Achish of Gath might do to him.13 So he pretended to be insane, scratching on doors and drooling down his beard.14 Finally, King Achish said to his men, “Must you bring me a madman?15 We already have enough of them around here! Why should I let someone like this be my guest?”
David opens this psalm of praise and thanksgiving by inviting others to join him in his praise and acknowledgement of God’s goodness. He bases his praise on his deliverance so he knows God’s faithfulness firsthand. Because God has delivered him David urges others to “put God to the test” that’s what he means when he says “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” True blessings come only to those who trust, fear, and seek the Lord.
Hebrews 11:6 (NLT2) And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
Right in the middle of the psalm David changes from exhortation to instruction. His experiences have given him the right to teach others. He starts his instruction by telling those who follow him that the first thing necessary is that they fear God. The kind of fear David is talking about is not terror but reverence. The rewards of that reverence are protection and deliverance from the actions of others. Those who fear (reverence) the Lord are also rewarded by deliverance from God’s wrath while the wicked will overtaken by calamity and punishment.
Psalm 34:22 (NLT2) But the LORD will redeem those who serve him. No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
David could teach others about the fear of the Lord because he had come to understand it more fully from his own life experiences.
Philippians 2:5-8 (ASV)5 Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:6 who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped,7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men;8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross. (emphasis mine)
This is one of the scriptures that those who say that Jesus is the Son of God, but He is not God. I’ve written several posts that I believe provide proof of Jesus’ divinity (see my blog category Who Is Jesus ), but have not addressed the questions raised by this scripture in Philippians. Those who question Jesus’ divinity say how can God empty himself, become a man, and still be God? As I said in my previous posts Jesus, while taking on human flesh and nature, minus sin, still retained the attributes of God, making Him fully human and still fully God. The following is from Jesus Has Attributes That Are Attributes Of God Alone.
Jesus was not created; He existed eternally.
John 1:1-3 (NKJV)1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 He was in the beginning with God.3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
The Word did not become; he was. “With God” suggests equality as well as association. “The Word was God” (deity) without confusion of the persons. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
Jesus is everywhere-present (Omnipresent)
Man is limited by a physical body, and can be only in one place at any one time. God, however, is spirit and can be everywhere in the universe at the same time. This attribute, is also related to His unlimited power to act and to know. God is present everywhere in the sense that everything everywhere is in His presence. He can see, know, and act in all places at once.
Jesus promised His disciples that He would be with them no matter where they were.
Matthew 18:19-20 (NKJV)19 Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."
Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJV)19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,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.
Jesus is all-powerful (Omnipotent)
Man and other created beings have limited power over other created things. Only God has unlimited power over all creation. Absolutely nothing is impossible for Him.
Job 42:1-2 (NKJV) Then Job answered the LORD and said:2 "I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
While on earth, as a human, Jesus exercised power over;
Luke 8:24-25 (NKJV)24 And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm.25 But He said to them, "Where is your faith?" And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, "Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!"
Matthew 8:2-4 (NKJV)2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.4 And Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
Mark 1:32-34 (NKJV)32 At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed.33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door.34 Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.
John 11:14-15, 41-44 (NKJV)14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead.15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him." 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me."43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!"44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go."
Jesus is all-knowing (Omniscient)
Colossians 2:1-3 (NKJV)1 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh,2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ,3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Peter and his friends were experienced fishermen and after working all night in a place that they knew well they didn’t caught any fish. Jesus however, a carpenter’s son and no fisherman, knew exactly where to go to catch the fish.
Luke 5:4-9 (NKJV)4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."5 But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net."6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!"9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; John 16:30; 21:17 - Jesus' disciples claimed that He knew all things. He never contradicted this claim nor rebuked them for it.
Peter needed money for the taxes and Jesus knew where to get it.
Matthew 17:24-27 (NKJV)24 When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, "Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?"25 He said, "Yes." And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?"26 Peter said to Him, "From strangers." Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are free.27 Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you."
Jesus Is Worshiped
Scripture is emphatic that only God can be worshiped.
Exodus 20:3 (NKJV) You shall have no other gods before Me.
Yet there are many examples of people worshiping Jesus. There is no account in scripture where He stopped the worshiper.
Matthew 8:2-4 (NKJV)2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.4 And Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
Matthew 28:17-20 (NKJV)17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,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.
John 20:28 (NKJV) And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
As you see Jesus did not lose any of these of God when He took on humanity. Let's look at the Greek word kenosis which is translated “emptied himself”. The word means “to empty”.
This appears to mean when Jesus put on humanity He accepted limitations, constraints. The problem then is that if Jesus gave up, or emptied Himself of any of the attributes of God He became less than God and therefore not God at all. For example when asked when the end would come here’s how He answered;
Mark 13:32 (NKJV) “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
If Jesus knew all things, as is implied in His divine nature, then why did He not know the day or hour of His own return. The answer is that Jesus cooperated with the limitations of humanity and voluntarily did not exercise His attribute of omniscience. He still was divine but was moving and living completely as a man. If Jesus was not fully divine, then His atoning work would not be sufficient to atone for the sins of the world.
Jesus is both fully God and fully man and did not give up any divine attributes while as a man on earth.
Colossians 2:9 (NKJV) For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
How Did Jesus 'Empty Himself'?
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. -- Philippians 2:5–8 (emphasis mine).
This passage is so rich; we only have space to examine one jewel. It’s the phrase, He “made himself nothing” (v.7a). Notice, Jesus “made Himself.” He didn’t get a memo. He wasn’t pushed out of heaven. He was fully engaged in God’s whole plan!
That phrase there, “made himself nothing,” is actually the basis for a lot of false teaching. Some translations rightly put it, “He emptied Himself.” Then the question becomes, emptied Himself of what? Some falsely suggest that Jesus emptied Himself of Deity and that He literally became a first-century Jewish man; that there was no God, just Jesus, the man. But the Bible teaches the Incarnation of Jesus, 100 percent God; 100 percent man, undiminished Deity dwelling in humanity.
You ask, “Well, what did He empty Himself of then?”
Answer, at least five things:
Taken from “Jesus’ Selflessness” (used by permission).
Most people have heard of Jonah. They know him as the man swallowed by a big fish and lived to tell about it. Now a lot of people don’t believe that this ever happened however most believers do believe it because we know that God and do anything even preserve the life of a man swallowed by a fish. If He could bring a man back to life, never die again, who had been killed, and placed in a sealed guarded tomb a man in a fish for three days is nothing. What we may not know is how and why Jonah ended up in the fish in the first place.
The Old Testament book identifies Jonah as being from Gath-hepher, near Nazareth which was in the area of Galilee in the northern kingdom of Israel (Israel split into two nations after the death of Solomon with the northern kingdom retaining the name Israel and the southern kingdom came to be known as Judah).
2 Kings 14:25 (NLT2) Jeroboam II recovered the territories of Israel between Lebo-hamath and the Dead Sea, just as the LORD, the God of Israel, had promised through Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath-hepher.
Jonah is unique in a couple of ways. He is one of the few prophets from the northern kingdom of Israel. Most were from Judah even those who prophesied to Israel, the northern kingdom.
Jonah is also unique in that although he is reported to have prophesied that Israel would recover some territory, the book of Jonah recounts the story of God’s commandment that he go yo preach and warn Israel’s enemy, Assyria, in its capital city of Nineveh.
Jonah 1:2 (NLT2) “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”
The story gets interesting when instead of obeying God Jonah decides not only to disobey but to go in the opposite direction by ship.
Jonah 1:3 (NLT2) But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the LORD. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the LORD by sailing to Tarshish.
We know what happens after that. God orchestrates the events so that Jonah ends up in the “belly of a big fish”.
Jonah 1:4, 12, 15-17 (NLT2)4 But the LORD hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart. 12 “Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.” 15 Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once!16 The sailors were awestruck by the LORD’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.17 Now the LORD had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.
We know the rest of that part of the story. Jonah prays and God delivers him for the fish’s belly.
Jonah 2:1-2, 10 (NLT2)1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish.2 He said, “I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and LORD, you heard me! 10 Then the LORD ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.
Jonah then decides to obey God and go Nineveh. He preaches, hey repent and God does not destroy the city, much to the Jonah’s displeasure.
Jonah 3:1- 4:2 (NLT2)1 Then the LORD spoke to Jonah a second time:2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.”3 This time Jonah obeyed the LORD’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all.4 On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!”5 The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow.6 When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes.7 Then the king and his nobles sent this decree throughout the city: “No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat or drink anything at all.8 People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence.9 Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.”10 When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened. 1 This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry.2 So he complained to the LORD about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people.
Why Is Jonah Important?
Jonah was one of only four writing prophets (books that have the name of the prophet who wrote or whose actions are chronicled) that Jesus mentioned by name during His earthly ministry.
Mark 7:6-7 (NLT2)6 Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.7 Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ (emphasis mine)
Matthew 24:15-16 (NLT2)15 “The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about—the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place.” (Reader, pay attention!)16 “Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. (emphasis mine)
Matthew 23:35 (NLT2)5 As a result, you will be held responsible for the murder of all godly people of all time--from the murder of righteous Abel to the murder of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you killed in the Temple between the sanctuary and the altar. (emphasis mine)
Jonah however gets more than a mere mention. Jesus identified Himself with Jonah’s three days in the fish’s belly as a prediction of His own death and resurrection.
Matthew 12:39-41 (NLT2)39 But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah.40 For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.41 “The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here—but you refuse to repent. The book of Jonah presents a picture of Christ’s death and resurrection hundreds of years before they actually occurred.
When Jonah got the command from God to preach to the Assyrians he refused because of his desire to see God punish them. He didn’t want to be the one to alert them and give them a chance to seek God’s mercy, which is what they did when he did finally go to Nineveh.
Because of his disobedience God had to break Jonah of his selfishness so the he could relay His message. His time in the fish and his deliverance is a convincing example of salvation coming for the Lord alone.
Jonah 2:9 (NLT2)9 But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the LORD alone.”
Jonah also learns, and conveys to us, that God’s power is supreme and that He is the one who decides where and on whom to pour out his salvation and mercy.
Jonah 4:10-11 (NLT2)10 Then the LORD said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly.11 But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”
God Is Omnipresent
Man is limited by a physical body, and can be only in one place at any one time. God, however, is spirit and can be everywhere in the universe at the same time. This attribute, is also related to His unlimited power to act and to know. God is present everywhere in the sense that everything everywhere is in His presence - He can see, know, and act in all places at once.
Psalm 139:7-10 (NKJV)7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.9 If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.
God Is Omniscient
If God has the power to do whatever He chooses to do, it makes sense that He also has unlimited knowledge and wisdom.
Psalm 147:4-5 (NKJV)4 He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.5 Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.
God Is Omnipotent
Man and other created beings have limited power over other created things. Only God has unlimited power over all creation. Absolutely nothing is impossible for Him.
Job 42:1-2 (NKJV) Then Job answered the LORD and said:2 "I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
God Is Sovereign
God is in control of all things, including human decisions.
Psalms 135:6 (NKJV) Whatever the Lord pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places.
Ephesians 1:11-12 (NKJV) In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
These attributes of God show us that He is Almighty God and can do anything that He wants to do, anywhere and anytime. God is also, good, holy, faithful, loving, just, patient, and righteous, and since these things make up God’s character there are some things He can’t do. What????
Maisie Sparks believes in the omnipotence of God, yet has come up with a list of 101 things God cannot do, including lie, forsake his own, despise a contrite heart, allow anything to separate us from his love, or let our prayers go unanswered.
Here are 20 of those things from her book 101 Things God Can’t Do.
20 Things God Can't Do
It is because God is unable to do these things, that we can do all things through Christ.
“That by two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.” – Hebrews 6:18
Can’t Leave You
“And, behold I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.” – Genesis 28:15
Can’t Forsake You
“I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5
Can’t Despise a Broken Heart“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite hear, O God thou wilt not despise” – Psalm 51:17
“Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” – Psalm 121:4
Can’t Stop Loving You
“I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” – Jeremiah 31:3
Can’t Go Unnoticed
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” – Psalm 19:1
Can’t Bear Sin
“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” – Isaiah 59:2
Can’t Leave Work Unfinished
“Being confident of this very thing, that He which begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6
Can’t Forget You
“Can a woman forget her suckling child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.”- Isaiah 49:15
Can’t Get Tired
“The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary…” – Isaiah 40:28
Can’t Make Losers
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ.- 2 Corinthians 2:14
Can’t Be Silenced
“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” – Matthew 24:35
Can’t Be Imperfect
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” – Matthew 5:48
Can’t Be Second
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” – Exodus 20:3
Can’t Be Divided
“I and my Father are one.” – John 10:30
" I am the Lord. I do not change." - Malachi 3:6
Can't Be Destroyed
“Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.” – Psalm 145:13
Can’t Break a Promise
“My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips” – Psalm 89:34
Can’t Be Selfish
“He that spareth not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” – Romans 8:32
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.