Tag Archives: pray

God’s Words: Faithfulness

Life-transforming words

Written by Gary Fleetwood on 27/03/2018

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: FaithFaithfulnessGodFaithful


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

I just love the word “faithfulness.” If there is any quality I want to always be developing in my life, it is being faithful to God. It is very difficult to be useful to God if we are unfaithful to Him. Faithfulness is the idea of someone being able to depend on us to do something for them. We all know how disappointing it is when someone tells us that they are going to do something for us, but then they fail to do it. If someone tells you that they will pick you up at 8 a.m., but they never show up, I doubt seriously that you would even ask them to come to get you again. Why? Because they were unfaithful in doing what they promised they would do.

I had a great friend who just died of brain cancer. After he found how he had cancer, he only lived about one year more. As he got closer to the end of his life, there were many of us who would take turns going to his home, visiting him in the hospital, spending the night with him and helping his wife move him and feed him. People cut their grass, took their children different places, fixed meals for them and came and just spent time with the family. It was the faithfulness of these friends that helped the family get through a very difficult time in their life.

So, exactly how does God define “faithfulness”?

The easiest way to understand that question is to simply look at the life of Christ and see how He lived. In everything He did, He was willing to do exactly what His Father wanted Him to do.  He never once swerved from doing what His Father sent Him to do – to die for our sins. Jesus fully knew what the enormous cost would be to Him personally, but He was always faithful to God’s will for His life no matter the cost. 1 Corinthians 4:2 says this about being faithful: “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.”

In other words, if we are going to be someone who God can trust to do what He wants us to do, then we must “be found faithful.” No one would consider a man to be a faithful husband if every two or three years he would divorce his current wife and go find another woman to marry. That would be a good example of what it means to be unfaithful. None of us would want to hear that our marriage partner was faithful to us 98% of the time. That would be just as bad as being unfaithful all the time. To be faithful means to remain, to stay, and to continue with someone no matter how difficult life may be at times.

So, how should I demonstrate faithfulness in my life? 

Well, the best way to demonstrate “faithfulness” is to simply be obedient to God’s Word. We would never consider someone to be a faithful friend who was always doing things that would hurt us in some way. Maybe they would make a promise to us that they would help us finish something that we were building, but then they would never come over to help as they had promised. For someone who is a fully devoted follower of Christ, the best way to demonstrate faithfulness to Christ is simply to be obedient to His Word. Jesus said this in John 14:15: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” 

That may be one of the simplest yet most important statements in the Bible because it defines how God measures our love for Him. If someone is always disobedient to God’s Word, then in essence they are not being faithful to Him and really do not love God. If you have children, you want respect from them, and the way they show respect is by being obedient to you. If you own a business, the way your employees show respect is by being more than willing to do what you ask them to do and to do a good job. Well, it is no different in the Christian life. God the Father calls on us to simply be faithful to Him, and we do that when we remain obedient to His Word.  

Does faithfulness have a reward?

Sure it does. Jesus gave a parable about faithfulness and this is what he said in Matthew 25:23 to those who were faithful.

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”

We will never be disappointed in how God rewards faithfulness, so be encouraged that you can truly be someone that He sees as a good and faithful servant.


Pray this week:

Lord Jesus, when life seems to bring me a very difficult test, my prayer is that You would help me to be faithful during the trial so that You can be glorified in my life.


If someone were to look at your life, would they consider you to be a loyal and faithful servant of Jesus Christ?

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Changing Suffering Into Joy

Are your tears collected or wasted?

Written by Ruth on 14/05/2019

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: JoyPrayerSuccessSufferingHannah


[Suffering] may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30:5

The Bible says we are to rejoice at all times, but how can we do that when we are hurting greatly?

The Need

As we read in 1 Samuel 1, Hannah was a lady with a big heartache. She wanted a child and had done everything she knew God asked of her – she was married, faithful to her husband, and asked God to bless her with a child. (1 Samuel 1:11).

Then the time of year came when she could travel to the Tabernacle with her husband, the place where she knew God would hear her prayer. She had not given up on God even though she had been asking for years.

How long do you pray for something you would like God to give you? Do you keep asking even when it seems like he isn’t listening?

The Prayer

As we read in His teaching about prayer in Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus wants us to present our needs to Him. 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us that we, His people, are to come before Him humbly, praying, and seeking His will for our lives, so that He can bless us according to his His will.

What are God’s requirements for us when we pray for something? We find a great answer to that in Matthew 7:7 – we are to seek things that belong to His kingdom. James tells us, by the Holy Spirit, that we must ask for things as Jesus wants them to be rather than asking for selfish things (James 4:3). 

Proverbs 3:5-7 says we are to seek His will in all things for which we pray. Hannah had done everything she knew God asked of her, so now she asked Him for what she still wanted. And in her prayer, she also promised God that His gift to her would be returned to Him in the form of worship.
 
This is for the specific reason of giving us an opportunity to thank Him when He answers us. It also places our desires into line with Jesus’ will. Just as Hannah went home rejoicing, our trust in His mercy will be our assurance that God will provide, and keep us rejoicing.

The Joy

Hannah’s heart responded in joy after she received the promise that God had heard and would answer her prayer (1 Samuel 1:18). Does that mean her life was perfect from that day forward? No – she was separated from her son from a very young age because she kept her promise and gave Him to God. Can a mother see her child only once per year without crying for the rest of the year? Jesus reminds us that this world is neither our source of joy nor a reason for despair. Our peace, and therefore our joy, is only from Jesus, as we read in Colossians 3:15

We are not here to find joy from a successful life in this temporary home; He is making us a success for all eternity. Often that means we carry His cross for Him (Mark 8:34), just as Hannah carried her cross of separation from her son for the sake of the whole nation. Her gift to God mirrors the gift of God, who gave His only Son so that we could have eternal life. (John 3:16) We need never be afraid of any suffering He asks us to bear because He promises that our glory in heaven will be so great that our suffering cannot even be measured against it (Romans 8:18-25). Our suffering here is a cause for joy even now because we anticipate His promises being fulfilled – just as they were fulfilled to Hannah.


Pray this week:

Heavenly Father, help me to trust You enough to say “Your will be done in my life!”


Have you been praying like Hannah for a long time? Would you like someone to join you in praying? 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Receiving Blessings from God

The Receiving is the Blessing!

Written by Susan on 10/05/2016

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: BlessingsGodHoly Spirit


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.

Ephesians 1:3-4

God has already done it all!

If God has already provided all of His spiritual blessings for us, how do we get those blessings? Ephesians 1:3-4 and 2 Peter 1:3 say we have what we need already. “We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God. It was all given to us by God’s own power, when we learned that he had invited us to share in his wonderful goodness.” His provision is here – now. We need to understand and use the blessings He has provided. How do we do that?

How do we receive blessings from God?

You receive God’s blessings from His spirit. We must remember that spiritual blessings aren’t usually what we picture. The purpose of spiritual blessing are to make us “holy and blameless.” You have to know what pleases God before you can put His spiritual blessings into practice.

The “Fruit of the Spirit” is a great example of this: “God’s Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled…” (Galatians 5:22-23I Corinthians 13:4-8a tells us “Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” Do you want to love like that? You can! But it is not the fruit of your own heart. It is poured out by God’s Spirit. It is literally His fruit.

God’s Work, God’s Way

Think of it this way: if you own a business, paying all its expenses, you would not let your business sell a product people should not have. In the same way, God’s promised blessings are for living the life that pleases Him, not a life that opposes Him. Living by faith (1 John 5:4) means understanding what pleases God (Ephesians 5:10) and counting on Him to “hold back nothing good from those who walk in the way that is right.” (Psalm 84:11)


Pray this week:

Will you pray this week: Help me to begin to see Your provision of blessing in my area of greatest need. Make me able to see Your blessings in my life, and not lean on my perceptions.


Have you thanked God for His very specific presence in your life today? He is present, are you choosing Him over all else today?

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Why Are We Here?

How can we know the purpose for our lives?

Written by GodLife on 09/04/2018

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: MeaningLoveSignificancePurposeDestiny


…everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.

Isaiah 43:7

You've met them or heard of them — men and women of vision and passion. Driven by purpose and a life pursuit. They discover things. They build things. They do important things. Streets, colleges, battleships, cities and awards are named after them. They're fascinating! What makes them tick, and why aren't more people like them?

One reason more people aren't like this may be that the single-minded pursuit of a mission tends to be hard on people. We sometimes call high achievers "workaholics." That makes it sound like an addiction. Addictions are destructive, unlike the diligence we associate with dedicated workers. How can your diligent attention be singularly significant, yet not hurt your friends and loved ones — or your walk with God? Read on to discover three key aspects of an effective Christian life that can make all the difference.

Your own context

Followers of Jesus talk more often about calling than achievement. That puts it into different perspective. You are the hearer. God, your creator and redeemer, is the caller. If He’s your omniscient creator, nothing in your life is an accident. Your resources, experiences, skills, talents and relationships have all been gifts planned and given by Him. It helps to see them as gifts, because then you know you’re responsible to take care of them. Thinking “How God has provided these things for me?” can begin to set you on the right course. 

“…let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him…Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called…in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.” 

All these quotes are from 1 Corinthians 7:17–24, where Paul explicitly covers questions about marriage, servitude and the Gentile or Jewish roots of these early believers.

God’s work, God’s way

Just as you can get guidance from your own life conditions, you can also do so from things shown to you about God. For example, because God is love, He would not be behind inclinations toward the hatred or exploitation of a group of people. Because God is the Spirit of Truth, He’s not in things that rely on the practice of deceit. Israel’s first king, Saul, thought God would accept his sacrifice despite his incomplete obedience to his original mission. Samuel predicted God would replace him, saying,  “…to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22

God’s Priorities

God is clear that all His instructions are pure (Proverbs 30:5) and that we have no right to add or subtract from them. (Deuteronomy 4:2Revelation 22:18-19) That almost makes it sound as if they are all equally important, so that we have to carefully follow it all and “…do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) Yet Jesus had a surprising answer to a teacher of Jewish law who asked, “‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” If all God’s words are perfect, how can any have more priority than the other? Jesus goes on to explain this implied question: “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40) They are greatest because they effectively contain the rest. Romans explains, “love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:10) God’s great expression of love (1 John 3:16) was sending Christ to die for our sins. Jesus told the Apostles: “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”(John 20:21)

In summary, the reason you and I are here is to bring glory to God, as Isaiah 43:7 says. We do so by telling others to be reconciled to God, as 2 Corinthians 5:15-20 tells us. Because we know Him, we must not go about this in a way that is against what He reveals about Himself in His Word. And because we trust that He created us for a purpose and has provided for us in a way that serves as a guide and a model for us, we cherish our relationships, seeking the best for others instead of taking advantage of them. We leverage our resources, putting His Kingdom first by using our time, energy, experience, knowledge and influence to help others find the way to eternal life. That’s how to live a life of the very highest purpose without missing out on the best God has for you and your loved ones.


Pray this week:

Father, will you help me see and eliminate anything that is standing in the way of reaching the full potential of my life?


Do you sense any resistance to the ideas shared in this devotional? A caring volunteer is available to discuss and pray through them with you!

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Why Prayer Is So Important

Five reasons why prayer is the answer when life turns upside down.

Written by Janet Perez Eckles on 18/04/2017

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: PrayerHealingReassuranceConfidenceAnxiety


The Lord is there to rescue all who are discouraged and have given up hope.

Psalm 34:18

The doctor’s news crushed me. I squirmed on the examining chair.

“There is nothing that can be done for this retinal disease,” he said as he pulled back from examining my eyes. “No one knows how long you’ll have your sight. You need to prepare for the inevitable.”

He was right. Despite my frantic search for a cure, a few months later my vision closed in completely. Horrified, anxious and desperate, I trembled at the notion that without sight, I would not be able to care for my three small sons. I tossed awake at night questioning God.

Where was He? Why didn’t He hear my prayers as I begged for a miracle? Hope threatened to leave me.

But one day God showed up. That day a friend invited me to a Christian church, and everything changed. My eyesight wasn’t healed, but my heart was. I faced my need to know Christ. I realized the emptiness that ruled my life was because I had prayer all wrong. I had asked and asked some more. But prayer required something more, something that made our communication powerful. And that involved listening.

To my relief, after months of soaking my soul in His Word, I added listening to my prayer time. And through that prayer relationship with Him, He revealed these five promises to calm my soul:

1. He will transform.

God was about to transform me as I invited Christ to be my Lord of all. And through Him, God made me righteous. He saw my tears, knew my desperation, and heard my cries. “If you obey the Lord, he will watch over you and answer your prayers.” Psalm 34:15

2. He reassures.

When loneliness tried to come in, God reassured me I wasn’t alone. His army of angels would stand with me, by me, and around me. “If you honor the Lord, his angel will protect you.” Psalm 34:7

3. He strengthens.

Those days when I lacked the emotional strength to be a mom and wife, God’s promise to provide soothed me. “You rule with strength and power. You make people rich and powerful and famous.” 1 Chronicles 29:12

4. He guards.

When tempted to succumb to anxiety, worry or fear, God’s instructions were clear and beautifully reassuring. “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.” Philippians 4:6-7

5. He answers.

When I needed comfort to face a lifetime of blindness, or in small things like sorting my sons’ clothes or finding rides to doctors’ appointments, I trusted. I believed. And I was confident that God would help me because…“We are certain that God will hear our prayers when we ask for what pleases him. And if we know that God listens when we pray, we are sure that our prayers have already been answered.” 1 John 5:14-15

God’s healing came, not through my physical eyesight, but through the spiritual eyes of my heart. I saw how prayer is a sweetly personal conversation with Him. It’s the direct connection between me, a mere human with the divine Lord. And it’s the channel through which I receive all that’s good in order to bring peace to my nights and joy to my days.


Pray this week:

Father, I praise you because you heard my sobs at night. You saw my struggles as you’re aware of my inadequacies. And I praise you because our conversation-filled prayer gives me the confidence to believe that there is no battle I face that you won’t win for me. And there is no struggle I encounter that you won’t bring victory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Does Prayer Make a Difference?

Prayer makes a difference, and it’s best if you use both channels: talking and listening.

Written by Colin Millar on 05/02/2019

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: ConfidenceGodPrayer


Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. …. And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.

Nehemiah 2:4, 8

By Colin Milar

If you look at the verses above, one of the shortest prayers mentioned in the Bible made a huge difference, and Nehemiah received everything he needed to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in just 53 days! In Nehemiah’s case, his short prayer for help in mid-sentence of answering King Artaxerxes’ question: “What is your request?” is a beautiful picture of what God calls us to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:17“Pray without ceasing.” Nehemiah prayed in the midst of a conversation because he knew, by faith, that his heart cry would make a difference.

God talks to us!

We were visiting some dear friends a number of years ago who had twin daughters, and we were building a ropes course amongst some large trees. I was balancing on the first rope six feet up, twisting and tightening the rope above me with a screwdriver. Suddenly, it sprung out of my hand and spun through the air, landing somewhere buried in the thick leaves. At the same time, I lost my balance and fell on my back safely in the blanket of leaves. 

I stood up saying, “Children, let’s look for the screwdriver!” After 5 minutes of fruitless searching, 3-year-old Christopher tapped me on the knee saying: “Daddy we need to pray!” I responded: “Let’s just find the screwdriver, son!” Another 3 minutes, no screwdriver, and a much more insistent: “Daddy we need to pray!” 

The Holy Spirit zapped my heart. I dropped to my knees beside my son, saying: “I’m so sorry son! Yes, of course we need to pray! Come, children, let’s join hands.” 

Christopher simply said, “Jesus, You know where our screwdriver is. Please show us, in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.”
  
I stood up, stepped back, and under my foot was the screwdriver. 

Is there a project, a problem, or a promise you are working on without success? And without prayer? There is nothing too small nor too large about which our Father is longing for you to ask His help. God had to send my son twice in order for me to listen and then hear, but I assure you, He is ever standing at the door of your heart, knocking and waiting for you to hear and invite Him in. (Revelation 3:20)

Just sit back, be still, and bring that situation before Him right now and remember: “Daddy we need to pray!” 


Pray this week:

Oh Lord, will You make me obedient to your Great Commission?

One of God’s best ways through which He teaches us to pray is when we “go and make disciples.” (Matthew 28:19) God has used my growing friendship with Curtis Sergeant to thrust me into the high adventure of obediently living out the Great Commission. You could share this with your online friends with our Facebook sharing button below. God can take your little bit of obedience to His Word and bring life-transforming impact to hundreds of other people’s lives.

 If you, like me, have or do struggle with being obedient to God’s Great Commission, watch Curtis’s 30 minute message on immediate, radical and costly obedience. I confess that my obedience to making multiplying disciples only came after a six-year delay from when I first attended the Steve Smith Training for Trainers to make multiplying disciples.
 


Will you ask this question to someone every day this week?: "If there was one thing we could pray now for you personally, what would it be?"

Commit to ask this question of one person a day, then pray for them out loud right on the spot and you will see how prayer makes a difference!

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Relating to God the Father Son and Holy Spirit

Who are you in relation to each person of the Trinity?

Written by GodLife on 14/02/2016

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: ClosenessIdentityWorship


There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6

If you have come to trust Jesus as your own Savior, you are in a relationship with God that can't be broken. He's beyond what we can imagine. He lives forever and does not change. Big as He is, He is also personal. He is near to us. He created a great variety of people. And He wants us to be close to Him. In a way, variety exists in His own nature. Father, Son and Holy Spirit have a relationship with each other. They also have perfect unity. God teaches us to relate to Him in lots of ways. Learn how biblical worship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit affects how we understand ourselves.

In relation to the Father

When I think of the Father, I remember His right to direct me. Because of what Jesus did, God is also my adoptive Father. He loved me so much, He gave His Son to keep me from perishing. (John 3:161:12Galatians 3:26)

To the Father, I am a beloved son worth recovering. For a picture of this, see the story of the Prodigal Son. (Luke 15:11-32)

In relation to the Son

When I think of the Son of God, I remember I’m meant to look like Jesus. (Romans 8:28-29)

To Jesus, I am His sheep (John 10:27-30), and no one is able to snatch me from His hand. For a picture of this, read about the Good Shepherd Who gave His life for me. (John 10:11-16) He even says I am His friend. (John 15:14) He is unashamed to call me His brother. (Hebrews 2:11-18)

In relation to the Holy Spirit

When I think of the Holy Spirit, I remember that He is a Helper to me as I desire and serve God. (John 14:16-17) He makes up for my limitations. And His constant presence in my life is a taste of what I will eventually fully inherit. (Ephesians 1:142 Corinthians 1:22)

To the Spirit, I am His home. Because God Himself lives in me, I am home base for his earthly ministry. Read 1 Corinthians 6:19 for an explanation of this: “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself” (1 Corinthians 6:19) As God floods my heart with His love, (Romans 5:5) my life produces His fruit in response. (Galatians 5:22-23)


Pray this week:

Father God, please show me your will and make my life count for eternity. Lord Jesus, because you live, I live also. Make me over into your most holy image. Holy Spirit, give me the desire and the ability to glorify Jesus. It’s in His name that I pray, AMEN.


When you think of God, is He both infinite and personal to you?

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Powerful Gospel

Have you ever not trusted in the power of the gospel to bring people to Christ?

Written by Malcolm Riley


Does the gospel have the power to save anyone?

Have you ever been tempted not to trust in the power of the gospel to bring people to Christ? Sometimes, we as Christians apologize for the message of Christ when talking to those who don’t believe. Romans 1:16 should be a life verse for every Christian! Paul says at the beginning of his letter to the Roman Christians, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of others.” The same gospel that has been saving people for thousands of years is still saving people today. This gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, can change any hard heart—if we will tell it! Our job is to pray and tell people about Christ. For as Paul went on to say, “How will they know if someone doesn’t tell them?”

The Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth

We need to tell people about the whole gospel and not leave out the difficult bits like sin, judgment, and Hell, and only talk about the amazing forgiveness that Christ offers at the cross. This means we will really have to trust the Holy Spirit when we tell people of the gospel. Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to Me.” The power is not in our “sales pitch” of the gospel; the power is in telling the truth about Jesus.

Bring Them to Jesus

We also want to be the kind of people who, like Billy Graham, “Call people to decision!” A great prayer is that we might be like a crossroad in the lives of those we meet: that meeting us would draw someone in one of two directions—either towards Jesus Christ or further away from Him. We don’t want our lives to leave people ignorant about the gospel or comfortable with being neutral. The great preacher Charles H. Spurgeon said we should preach “the whole gospel with a call to decision.”

Push Past the Awkwardness

Every time I come to a point when I am going to challenge someone to pray to receive Jesus Christ, it never feels right. It always feels awkward. But so many have come to Christ when I have felt like this and chosen to go past the pain barrier and preach the gospel with a call to decision. We’ve got to challenge people in spite of being nervous or feeling awkward. It’s so important to not just tell people the gospel but to also challenge them to receive the greatest news in the world! Ask them, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Messiah? Do you wish to follow Him?” If their answer is yes, lead them in confessing their faith in Christ and assure them of their salvation. Ask the Holy Spirit today to make Romans 1:16 your life verse: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation others.”

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

What is a Cult? How to tell the false from the true

 

How to tell the false from the true

 

Written by Dan Lee on 11/07/2017

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: Church, Cults, Discernment

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

 

2 Timothy 4:3-4

Do you remember the “People’s Temple”? Started in Indianapolis in 1955 by the Reverend Jim Jones, it moved to San Francisco in 1971. The headquarters was just a few miles from my house, and mere blocks from the hospital where I was born. As a teenager I often rode the bus right past it.

 

In 1974, the People’s Temple established a settlement in Guyana, South America. It promised a tropical paradise, free from the wickedness of the outside world.

 

By 1978, the population of Jonestown, as it was called, had grown to over 900. And in November of that year, the residents of Jonestown were forced at gunpoint to drink poison. Nine-hundred and eighteen people died that day, the largest deliberate taking of American lives before September 11, 2001.

 

The people tasked with cleaning up found a shocking discovery: Not a single Bible was found in Jonestown. This “church” turned out to be one of history’s most dangerous cults.

 

As a follower of Jesus, you need to be regularly involved in a church, or local fellowship of believers — “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more, as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25)

 

But you must choose your church carefully, avoiding false teachers, and making sure you don’t end up in a cult. Here are some characteristics of a cult, or a church or group that has gone the wrong path:

 

Authority Other than the Bible

Sometimes it is writings, such as Mormonism’s The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price. Often it is the teaching of an individual, such as Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who claimed that historic beliefs of the church were wrong (the Trinity and the deity of Christ).

 

The Jehovah’s Witnesses took this a step farther with their New World translation of the Bible, which is “the first intentional, systematic effort at producing a complete version of the Bible that is edited and revised for the specific purpose of agreeing with a group's doctrine.” (gotquestions.org)

 

Additional Revelation

Many cults are based on new discoveries or so-called revelations. For example, Joseph Smith’s founding of the Mormon church was based, he claimed, on his discovery of golden tablets. Other cult leaders simply declare that they have received direct revelations from God, which cannot be proven or disproven.

 

Paul warned in his very first epistle about those who departed from the established truth of the gospel: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8)

 

The Mormons make their stand very clear: “We do not believe the Bible to be inerrant, complete or the final word of God.” (From an address to the Harvard Divinity School in March 2001 by Robert L. Millet, former dean of religious education at Brigham Young University.)

 

Incorrect view of Jesus

Both the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons deny the full divinity of Jesus. They cite isolated passages to prove their point, rather than looking at the totality of teaching about the Lord. They ignore passages that show the eternal nature of Christ, such as John 10:30, “I and the Father are one” or John 17:5: “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” Also, Hebrews 1:3 says of Jesus, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”

 

Salvation by Works

Most cults do not teach that one is saved by faith alone in the finished work of Christ, but by following the rules and teachings of that particular group.

 

For instance, the Mormons add “obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel” to the requirements for salvation. But the Bible makes abundantly clear that works cannot save us: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Romans 4:5 says, “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.” Also see Titus 3:5, Galatians 5:4.

 

Authoritarian Leadership and Excessive Control

If a church, or even a fellowship group, is led by someone who has complete rule, whose authority is never to be questioned, watch out! Pastors and elders are to lead gently and lovingly, “not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:3)

 

Another warning sign is when group members are required to submit their daily lives to group control – to quit their jobs, or give all their money to the group. This was definitely true at the People’s Temple.

 

Other possible reasons for caution include:

 

Exclusivity / Denunciation of other groups – “Everyone else is wrong”

Secret rituals or doctrines

Bondage – you cannot leave, and if you do you are shunned.

 

Jeremiah 23:1-2 gives a dire warning to pastors who lead their people astray: “‘Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!’ declares the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: ‘You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord.’”

 

One of life’s most important decisions is choosing your church family. Ask Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the Sheep (Hebrews 13:20), to help you find a church and a shepherd who will be true to God’s word and lead you and help you “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

 

Pray this week:

Lord, guide me by Your Holy Spirit to know when a church or group is one that I should participate in, or avoid as a cult. Lead me to a true Christian fellowship that honors and glorifies You, and where I will grow in my faith and witness for you.

 

Do you have doubts about the group you’re involved in? 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Worshipping God Through your Work

Opportunities to worship Jesus fill our daily lives.

Written by GodLife on 09/03/2013

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: GodJesusWorkWorship


 

"I Am the True Vine, and My Father is the Gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing." (John 15:1-5)

 

Opportunities to worship Jesus fill our daily lives. A few years ago I witnessed a great example of seizing the moment to love and honor our Savior through work.

While my son was putting away the dishes, he broke into praises to our King, singing along with the worship music on the radio (or the stereo – whatever it was). He danced around the kitchen, utensils becoming percussion instruments in his hands. His joyful face reflected his enthusiastic heart for Jesus, and for his appointed task.

What an encouragement to me and a great reminder to take advantage of every opportunity given to us, and in every task before us, to lift up worship, praise and thanksgiving to our King!

Jesus asks us to humble ourselves and become like children, for those who do will be the greatest in the Kingdom of God (Matthew 18:1-4) .

Now whenever I am putting away dishes, the image of my little one, who is so precious to our Father, fills my heart. I rejoice in the strength Jesus has given me for the task at hand. I adore Jesus and praise Him Creating me and our amazing Universe. I thank Him for the blessings of day. And sometimes, I too, turn on worship music and sing my praises to our Great Giver of Life.

When I turn work time into worship time, joy fills my spirit. I now look forward to it as a time of intimacy between my Great Counselor and me. Work is a time to honor my Prince of Peace by giving my best. For all I have was given to me by Jesus, and I want to surrender everything I am for His Glory and His Kingdom.

Abiding in Jesus through worship, prayer and His Word brings me in to His Holy Presence. And in His Presence there is fullness of Joy (Psalms 16:11)!

May we bear much fruit for Jesus today by abiding in Him: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22). Thank You, Father, for the work and time of worship You have given to us today. May it be a sweet-smelling aroma to You.

Prayer, Care and Share Jesus

The Hebrew term "avodah" combines the words for "work" and "worship." Many people wrongly think of work as a curse; a result of the fall. But work came before the fall! From the beginning, God gave people work to do for Him (Genesis 2:15). In serving God, we are to worship Him. So let us start and end every task by asking God's blessing on it, and thanking Him for the chance to worship him through our work.

This week, we expand our daily prayers to include prayers of blessing on every task we do, as well as thanks when the task is completed. This includes:

•Preparing and eating meals, and cleaning up
•Traveling and commuting
•Each task or meeting at work
•Studying or doing assignments — especially if you are a student!
• Exercise, sport and recreation
• Social activities
•Serving at church or in the community
•Going to sleep

Jesus states clearly in today's scripture that we can do nothing apart from Him. Our work only bears eternal fruit if it is done in fellowship with God. So let us do it!


Pray this week:

God will fill your heart with love for the community you live and work or move in daily.


What is your attitude toward work? How can you worship God while you're working? 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member