Joe English is an American musician, vocalist and songwriter for the English Band. Prior to this solo career, Joe played drums in Paul McCartney’s band Wings and in the rock band Sea Level. Yet, at some point Joe began to sing for a higher purpose. This is reflected in the England Band’s song What You Need. Based upon the lyrics, what you need is Jesus.
And my God will liberally supply ([i]fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:19.
The apostle Paul came to a similar conclusion in the passage above. Paul builds upon the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:33-34. Human nature encourages individuals to figure out things on your own. However, if you develop a belief, confidence, and trust in Jesus to provide your daily bread, you will come to the same conclusion as Joe English. Jesus is what you need in life, John 10:10.
One of the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church is a time of prayer during each mass. Depending upon the congregation or priest, a list of prayers is usually read out loud. Following each individual request, the audience responds with “Lord hear our prayer.” One of Jesus’ disciples writes about this in the passage below. According to John, God does hear these prayers and there’s no doubt about it.
And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him, 1 John 5:15.
It’s not uncommon for children to adopt an invisible friend when they are young. While parents may be uneasy about this behavior, this is the power of the imagination of a child at work. Similar to Robin Williams’ adult character in the film Hook, age and time have a way of sucking the joy out of parents. Rather than revel in the innocence of being young, the Devil has a way of wearing down faith, John 10:10.
When the disciples saw it, they marveled greatly and asked, How is it that the fig tree has withered away all at once? 21 And Jesus answered them, Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a [n]firm relying trust) and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive, Matthew 21:20-22.
During a first century walk, Jesus teaches his disciples a powerful lesson about pray. This isn’t a meaningless imaginary exercise where you pretend to talk to an invisible God. Rather prayer is maximized when Christians approach God without doubt. Having belief and faith takes prayer to the next level. To those who pray without a doubt begin to move the mountains blocking God’s path for you.
Confidence is the belief, feeling, or inner desire that you can rely on someone or something. Whether you’re a gifted academic, natural athlete or possess unique trade skills, certain talents come with ease. The more this special quality is fine-tuned, individuals begin to develop an absolute confidence in their ability. The Bible speaks of a spiritual absolute confidence.
We know [absolutely] that anyone born of God does not [deliberately and knowingly] practice committing sin, but the One Who was begotten of God carefully watches over and protects him [Christ’s divine presence within him preserves him against the evil], and the wicked one does not lay hold (get a grip) on him or touch [him], 1 John 5:18.
According to a member of Jesus’ inner circle, absolute confidence is conceived when individuals become born again. This spiritual conception comes from the Holy Spirit who gives Christians everything they need for life, 2 Peter 1:3-4. The apostle Paul compares the Holy Spirit to an invisible force that you can feel and sense as you walk through life, Galatians 5:25.
And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who [reverently] fears God and abstains from and shuns evil [because it is wrong]? 9 Then Satan answered the Lord, Does Job [reverently] fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have conferred prosperity and happiness upon him in the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land, Job 1:8-10.
One of the reasons why evil exists in this world is due to a lack of prayer coverage. Based upon the oldest book in the Bible, Satan complained that God was placing a hedge of protection around Christian leaders. Only when this hedge was removed, did Job become vulnerable to spiritual attacks. The act of sin is merely a byproduct of losing faith by giving into natural desires. The end goal is to become filled with Christ’s strength so that the Devil will not lay a hand on you. This is absolute confidence.
From the earliest days on earth, children tend to become like a sponge, soaking up everything they see and hear. When what adolescents come to believe deviates from the Bible, this is defined as an ungodly belief. In the film Rudy, following the death of his best friend, Rudy goes to a bus stop, about to leave for Notre Dame to follow his childhood dream. Afraid his son is about to make a big mistake, Rudy’s father tries to talk him out of going. Within the attached scene, Rudy is told about the limitations of the Ruettiger family lineage. Rudy is told he’s not big enough or smart enough and that he doesn’t belong at Notre Dame.
I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 [Therefore, I do not treat God’s gracious gift as something of minor importance and defeat its very purpose]; I do not set aside and invalidate and frustrate and nullify the grace (unmerited favor) of God. For if justification (righteousness, acquittal from guilt) comes through [observing the ritual of] the Law, then Christ (the Messiah) died groundlessly and to no purpose and in vain. [His death was then wholly superfluous,] Galatians 2:20-21.
The Church at Galatia had their own ungodly beliefs to overcome. However, this time adult Christians who could not let go of their Jewish upbringing would not let go of following the Torah. Subsequently, a religious sect known as the Judaizers were forcing Gentiles to become circumcised. As their doctrine developed over time, Judaizers were equating the act of circumcision with a necessary step to be saved. According to the apostle Paul, Barnabas and Peter were led astray by this teaching as they began to separate from non-Jewish Christians. This is not the type of belief consistent with Jesus’ teaching.
But now that the faith has come, we are no longer under a trainer (the guardian of our childhood). 26 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. 27 For as many [of you] as were baptized into Christ [into a spiritual union and communion with Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah] have put on (clothed yourselves with) Christ. 28 There is [now no distinction] neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male [b]and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus, Galatians 3:25-28.
One of the inspirations for writing Galtians is to address and correct this spiritual lie. The two passages above highlight the importance of faith. First, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Paul uses similar language in Colossians 3:1-9 where Christians are called to leave their old self and practices. Until human beings purge and put to death the addictions and bad habits of their past, belief in God is hard to maintain. However, as Christians begin to live by faith by putting on spiritual attributes of Jesus, a sense of belonging and purpose enters your life. When you join a church body, believing leads to belonging.
While engagement is often associated with the process leading up to marriage, to be engaged refers to an active, engrossed and involved state. I’ve never thought of prayer in the context of being engaged. However, when the apostle Paul found an isolated spot to pray, Mark 1:35, his concentration was fixated on God. Paul wasn’t just hoping and wishing for an answer to prayer, he expected God to perform a miracle.
We are ever giving thanks to God for all of you, continually mentioning [you when engaged] in our prayers, 1 Thessalonians 1:2.
One verse later, Paul refers to being energized by faith. As Christians begin to pray with an unceasing desire, this is often accompanied with a sudden boost of energy. When you add and incorporate promises in the Bible to prayer, faith is strengthened. Prayer is an act of putting the needs of others before yourself as you pour out your heart to God. When prayer becomes a daily habit, a spirit of service is conceived.
Recalling unceasingly before our God and Father your work energized by faith and service motivated by love and unwavering hope in [the return of] our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), 1 Thessalonians 1:3.
In the first century, there was a belief that Jesus would return in their own lifetime. For those individuals who witnessed Jesus rise from the dead, there was a sense of urgency to seize each day on earth, Galatians 6:9-10. This is the motivation that the apostle Paul refers to in the passage above. If you want to make the most of your life on earth, engage yourself in prayer so that your faith is energized to keep on serving Jesus.
Living out a Christian faith can be oppressive, tedious, and seemingly without end of obstacles. Furthermore, when things don’t go the way you expect or think, it’s not uncommon to suffer from depression. When confidence is lost or hope slips away, fear can suck the joy out of life. Like a golfer who is all over the place during their round, there are many days where you have to grind everything out.
In Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear). 13 So I ask you not to lose heart [not to faint or become despondent through fear] at what I am suffering in your behalf. [Rather glory in it] for it is an honor to you, Ephesians 3:12-13.
Whatever optimistic message you have received about a new life in Christ, every day has a new set of challenges. If you let your guard down, become over confident or don’t have enough prayer cover, extreme discouragement may not be too far behind. Unpleasant emotions are a byproduct of fear, caused by a belief that someone or something is a threat. This is where faith must rise to the occasion, opening the door for boldness and courage to shine through.
And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. 10 So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers], Galatians 6:9-10.
Apparently, despondency was an issue in the first century as the apostle Paul writes a similar message to two different congregations. The context of the passage above refers to you reap what you sow. If your mind is constantly fixated on fear, you will become worn down by despondent thoughts. Therefore, if you want to rise above your circumstances, approach God with a humble heart, expecting blessings for those who belong to the household of faith.
Since public Bible readings and prayer was banned from public education during the 1960’s, it was only a matter of time before right and wrong would come under attack. Beginning in 1980, a group of Kentucky parents targeted the Ten Commandments. These parents argued that the posting of copies of the Ten Commandments in each public school classroom violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. In the ensuing case Stone vs. Graham, the court ruled 5-2 in the parents’ favor declaring, “the Ten Commandments had no secular legislative purpose” and were “plainly religious in nature.”
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! – Isaiah 5:20
This is a far cry from what America’s founding fathers believed. While serving as the second president of the United States, John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (October 11, 1798). The freedom that our founding fathers aspired to achieve was a freedom in the context of moral standards based upon biblical principles. Yet, after all aspects of God was neutered from public education, atheists began to attack public displays of faith. Whether it’s nativity scenes, statues of the Ten Commandments or monuments in the shape of crosses, reminders of right and wrong have vanished from public squares throughout America.
So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin, James 4:17.
Gray areas refer to ill-defined situations, fields not readily conforming to a category or to an existing set of rules. One of the purposes of the Bible is to define boundaries designed to keep God near while shielding yourself from evil. Unfortunately, as right and wrong is no longer clearly defined for young people, absolutes have turned into expanding gray areas. Meanwhile, opinions expressed on talk shows are being elevated to the status of facts. Despite this growing trend, Jesus’ earthly brother clarifies the status of right and wrong. While the amoral do exist, if you know what’s right and don’t do it, sins of omission are equivalent to sins of action. Therefore, if you’re not sure which way to turn, open the Bible and find out for yourself, Romans 10:17.
There are vast degrees of self-righteousness that exist in today’s culture. However, a term that dates back to 1979 is replacing self-righteous; what Christopher Lasch refers to as moral narcissism. This moral superiority is conceived from a sense that one’s beliefs, ideals, and affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person. Moral narcissists can range from obnoxious religious leaders, perfectionists seeking piety to sanctimonious members of the media. If you are not part of an important, powerful or significant group, expect to be looked down upon from one of these individuals who practice symbolism over substance.
He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves and were confident that they were righteous [that they were upright and in right standing with God] and scorned and made nothing of all the rest of men: 10 Two men went up into the temple [enclosure] to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector, Luke 18:9-10.
During a first century conversation, Jesus uses prayer as way to highlight the difference between the humble and self-righteous. In this illustration, Jesus compares a Pharisee to a tax collector. To set the scene, Pharisees were considered devout religious leaders, respected by the Jewish community. Meanwhile, tax collectors were often corrupt, tied with prostitutes at the bottom of the least desired occupations of their day. This background reflects how each approaches the Lord in prayer. As long as moral narcissists express how much they care publicly, following through with their convictions isn’t as important.
The Pharisee took his stand ostentatiously and began to pray thus before and with himself: God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men—extortioners (robbers), swindlers [unrighteous in heart and life], adulterers—or even like this tax collector here. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I gain. 13 But the tax collector, [merely] standing at a distance, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, O God, be favorable (be gracious, be merciful) to me, the especially wicked sinner that I am! – Luke 18:11-13.
Becoming self-righteous blinds individuals from their own spiritual condition. When you think too highly of yourself, subtle sins are ignored and overlooked. Instead of looking inward, moral narcissists compare themselves to lesser human beings as a means to feel better about their life. This mindset is a breeding ground for lukewarm spirits. Anyone who continues down this path are in spiritual danger, drifting closer to hell. The only way to snap out of this state is by acknowledging sin. May this parable serve as a warning to those hindered by a big ego, hypocrisy or smugness.
After writing for a couple of hours, I began channel surfing to pass some time. Thirty seconds later, I stumbled upon the early stages of Footloose. As a former teacher, the idea of a senior boy standing up for his beliefs appeals to me. One of my favorite scenes from this film occurs later on when a rebellious preacher’s daughter has a heart to heart talk with her father. Lori Singer plays Ariel who opens up about a belief system which differs her dad, Reverend Shaw played by John Lithgow.
Do not let your hearts be troubled (distressed, agitated). You believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely on God; believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely also on Me, John 14:1.
When Singer shares that “I don’t believe what you believe,” I am reminded of a former student. Jennifer was an atheist forced to attend a Christian school by her parents. What made this situation worse, her parents turned out to be hypocrites, following the motto ” do as I say, not as I do.” Initially, there was tension between Jennifer and I, often leading to heated debates. However, as time passed, I accepted Jennifer for where she was spiritually, sharing the love of Jesus whenever I could.
Jesus said to him, Because you have seen Me, Thomas, do you now believe (trust, have faith)? Blessed and happy and to be envied are those who have never seen Me and yet have believed and adhered to and trusted and relied on Me, John 20:29.
In this day and age, politics and religion are two of the most divisive topics in America. If you don’t hold or share a similar view of the media in these areas, expect criticism. Anyone who dares to think differently, get’s out of line or speaks out will be labeled as controversial, dangerous and unsafe. It’s too bad that most adults can’t come to their senses by being willing to accept what others believe. Perhaps, the words of Jesus above may permeate hearts so that love will lead to accepting what others believe until faith is conceived.
Hypocrisy is the contrivance of a false appearance of virtue or goodness, while concealing real character or inclinations, especially with respect to religious and moral beliefs. Whenever individuals begin to say one thing publically, but your every day actions tell a different story, a hypocrite is on the verge of being conceived. Unfortunately, at this moment in time, I find myself in the sad state of indulging in hypocrisy. This trend will continue until I begin to walk where I belong, exchanging darkness for the light.
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin, 1 John 1:6-7.
A fellowship is formed when a group of people who share a common interest come together to reinforce this activity, belief or conviction . During his 3 year earthly ministry, Jesus used the analogy of light and darkness to express those who embrace God from others who have strayed from Old Testament principles. The disciple who Jesus loved builds upon this concept in the passage above highlighting that hypocrites are walking in darkness, not in the light of Christ.
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed, Romans 13:11.
One of the ways first century Christians inspired change was to develop a mindset that Jesus’ second coming is imminent. The apostle Paul eludes to this in a letter to the Church at Rome. When bad habits begin to become a life style, the fear of God is needed to awaken souls like mine from their spiritual slumber. Thus, until I start walking in the light, where I belong, examples of hypocrisy will continue to send a mixed message to others. Therefore, it’s time to leave my deeds of darkness by abiding in God’s light.