See Life

See Life

36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

John 3:36

It’s amazing how much emphasis the Bible puts on your belief. If you simply believe in the Son, Jesus, you can have eternal life. Realize of course that this belief is not dead or powerless. The belief that we must have has to be one that can create change and movement in our lives.

Of course the opposite is equally true. Not believing in the Son keeps you from life itself. Notice how it says that you shall not see life, as if life actually only starts when you begin to believe in Jesus. What we are ‘living’ now is just an empty husk compared to the real life that is available to all who are willing to make the great leap to believe.

The last few words of the verse can seem very scary. The wrath of God is on all who do not believe. Some people can read this and think that God is uncaring and cruel. He punishes those who reject His Son. But I see it as a natural consequence. Do you blame fire itself when you burn yourself if you were to stick your hand into a flame? Of course not. Fire is hot and burns. That is not punishment but a natural reality of fire. God is similar.

God is pure goodness. He is the giver of life and life itself. To reject God is to reject life. Can you blame God for you yourself rejecting to live? Life, like the burning of fire, is just a natural state of God. Remember too that there is no other source of life.

I hope you can see your belief in Jesus, not as a requirement or decision but also as a natural consequence. I hope that when you experience the love, joy and peace of Christ that you just naturally become believer in it and Him.

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

John 3:16-17

 

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

Waiting for a Miracle

Waiting for a Miracle

16 When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick,

Matthew 8:16

I can’t even imagine what it must have been like for the sick and their families, waiting for sunset, the changing of Sabbath to Sunday to rush over and have Jesus touch their infirmities away.

One day we will all be able to experience it if we chose to take part. When Jesus returns in the clouds, we will have our day of healing and perfection. We will see Jesus face to face. We simply have to wait.

But wait how long?

I ask this question because it is possible that we ourselves create time limits on ourselves. Many a debate has raged over 2 Peter 3:12:

12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?

Can we really hasten his coming?

I’m not going to answer that question here but I will bring up something that all those looking for healing got wrong in Matthew 8:16. Look at the few verses before it.

14 Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever. 15 So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them.

Jesus didn’t wait for the Sabbath to end to cure Peter’s mother in law. She was sick, he was there and so he healed her. So many people waited for the sun to go down not realizing that Jesus was already willing and waiting to heal them. Can you be doing to same today?

Is there a miracle Jesus is waiting to give you, but you yourself is waiting for a special time or event?

20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

Revelation 3:20

Look at tour current situation right now and ask yourself: is Jesus waiting for me to ask for a miracle I’m needing?

 

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

Don’t Worry

Don’t Worry

25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

Matthew 6:25

Last week we talked about our treasures. The question was asked, where do you focus most of your effort and attention? Is it on the physical things of this world or is it in our future life with God in heaven?

Today, we will continue with this theme. Jesus made it perfectly clear that he loves us and wants the best for us. He made it very clear that he knows what we need in this life. He himself came down to this world to experience it. He said to put our focus on the things of heaven but that creates anxiety for us who believe that we ourselves must care for our futures here. Matthew 6:25 is telling us the exact opposite. Jesus, knowing our needs, is promising that we will have our futures here secured even if we put our focus on the heavenly things first. This is where true faith is experienced and challenged. Do not worry! That is the core theme of Matthew 6:25. Do not worry, not because you will win the lottery and not have to worry about but, but because God will always provide your needs in this life. Notice I say needs here and not wants.

It is the difference between needs and wants that our true struggle rests. God promises our needs will be met but the world offers us wants to fill our joy, desire and fulfilment. The wants of this life truly are appealing. Who wouldn’t want a big fancy home, expensive car, pool, world vacations and more? This world can be very hard and stressful and that vacation can really be a benefit sometimes. The struggle however is what is more important to you? Will you put that ‘want’, whatever it may be above what God is trying to give or lead in your life?

The problem with wants is that they are never satiated. You can always have room for more and in fact an old want quickly loses its appeal and something bigger is desired. Wants can easily become more and more important in someone’s life. It can quickly rise up in the pyramid of importance you create for yourself. If not restrained and controlled, it can even take the spot of God.

Don’t get me wrong. There is no problem in having a big home, fancy car, pool, enjoying a luxury vacation or other expensive things. Wants, in of themselves, are not sinful just as money itself is not sinful. Sin begins when those things begin to take control of a person’s mind and life. When you begin to worry, not about your needs but your lack of wants, it is a sign that you may be going down a dangerous path.

Do not worry. It’s a simple message from God. Are you following it?

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

Perfect Flesh

Perfect Flesh

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.

1 Corinthians 15:50

Someone reading this verse, especially out of context might believe that we will not have flesh and blood in heaven but that is not what is being stated here. Verse 42 clearly says, So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.” We will have bodies in heaven. What this verse was saying is that it’s not through our flesh and blood that we can be saved. Your old self is not suitable for heaven. You must be born again and become a Spirit filled new life. Verse 44 clearly shows that, “It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.”

The big question is this: Do we get brand new bodies when we accept Christ, get baptized and receive the new ‘spiritual bodies’ (that is a person who now is connected to God through the Spirit and sets his mind on spiritual things)?

The simple answer is no. How do we know this? Well, the Bible explains very clearly when we receive new and perfect physical bodies.

51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

1 Corinthians 15:51-53

Our perfect bodies only come to us at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Only then can we be truly perfect in all our parts- physically, spiritually and mentally. It is only at the Second Coming that we receive our full reward as expressed in Revelation 22.

12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.

Revelation 22:12

As hard as you may try, you will never be able to perfect your flesh or body. That can only be done at the return of Christ. What you can achieve is a mind and character that wholly focusses on God through the Spirit. That is what God desires for us.

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:1

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

Perfect Lamb

The Perfect Lamb

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

John 1:29

Jesus is the Lamb of God. This title has been repeated throughout the Bible’s history. It is found right at the beginning, near the creation and just after sin.

21 Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.

Genesis 3:21

God had to kill an animal to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve. Although it is not stated, we believe that it was a lamb, the first sacrifice and first physical lesson about the Lamb of God.

But the Bible says that it couldn’t just be any lamb. It had to be perfect for sacrifice.

Your lamb shall be without[a] blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.

Exodus 12:5

Just as the physical lamb could not have any blemishes, Jesus too had to be a perfect sacrifice. His life could not be stained with sin. His actions but be perfect and blameless. How hard it must have been for a human Jesus to live an entire life in this sinful world with all its temptations and not succumb. But Jesus did it.

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:21

Just as the image of the Lamb of God is seen right at the beginning, it is also present at the end.

But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

Revelation 21:22

The Lamb of God, Jesus, is the Alpha and Omega. He was at the beginning at will be at the end. He was God’s perfect sacrifice and the only reason we have hope in this world. Let us never forget that.

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

Teaching and Hearing

Teaching and Hearing

30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.

Acts 8:30-31

The story of Philip in Acts 8 is one of my favorite evangelistic themed stories. It’s amazing to see God directing this faithful man so vividly.

26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert.

Acts 8:26

How great would it be if God also spoke to us like this? Perhaps he does or he would like too. What would be keeping God from doing a similar act with us? We know it isn’t because God has gotten tired of trying to save mankind. Why know it’s not because he’s too busy or no longer has the power. We also know it isn’t because the need is no longer there. So what is it?

27 So he arose and went.

Acts 8:27

Perhaps this is the answer. God spoke to him because he knew that Philip would do it right away without hesitation, fear or excuse. Perhaps we are the ones that aren’t ready to accept the words that God wants to give to us. Perhaps we’re too busy with our own work to do God’s work.

Or perhaps God is speaking to us but we refuse to listen because of all the distractions and noise of the world. When was the last time you took real time off to listen to God?

There’s a lot of guessing and questioning here but one thing is certain. The work is still desperately needed. If God is to come, we must do our work of spreading the gospel. Look at your own life and see if you can’t figure out why you’re not being guided in the same way Philip or the other disciples were in the Bible.

36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”

Acts 8:36

This is the future that could be in all our lives. Instead of struggling to reach people to hear about Jesus, people will be asking us to know more and be baptized.

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

Pure and Filled

Pure and Filled

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalms 139:23-24

Imagine being at a restaurant and ordering a really expensive and delicious dish. The food comes out of the kitchen, sizzling and filling the room with a beautiful smell. The food is put in front of you, you look down at it and realize the food is on a dirty, grimy plate. Old, dried food is still stuck and molding on the plate. It doesn’t matter how tasty the dish may be, the plate will ruin your appetite.

The same is true with Christians. We have a delicious and nourishing food to give to others- the bread of life and water of life. If we serve that food however on dirty and sinful plates, our own lives, it quickly ruins the food to those who are receiving it.

Hypocrisy is probably the greatest problem of the Christian when it comes to evangelizing. People hear messages of love, peace and joy but then see none of those attributes in the person who is sharing it.

That is why the Psalm says ‘Search me, God’ and ‘See if there is any offensive way in me’ because the psalmist knows how important it is to be clean and pure, not only for their own salvation but also in helping others with theirs.

This month, as we continue with the theme of Personal Ministries, there are two important things we have to do in preparation.

The first is to make sure that we ourselves are clean and that we are good examples when it comes to the messages and promises that we will be sharing about Jesus. That new life should be found in us.

The second is that we are filled with the spirit so that we have something truly valuable and worthy to give. We can only give what we have. We can’t be like the five unwise virgins who had lamps but not enough oil themselves to make it through the night. We should strive to have enough oil to not only fulfil our needs but also to share with others.

Both of these important points that were mentioned are wrapped up in one simple verse.

18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,

Ephesians 5:18

God has a mighty work ready for us to be a part of. Let us get prepared and move forward in faith.

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

Beautiful Feet

Beautiful Feet

11 How beautiful on the mountain are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

Isaiah 52:7

As we enter into the month of March, we will be looking at Personal Ministries, or in other words, the mission that God has given to us individually. We are all important and carry a great responsibility. The Bible says, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:7. We all carry the Holy Spirit within our hearts and with that power and a mission to accomplish.

Those that believe in evolution, use vestigial organs, as proof or support for the theory. Vestigial organs and parts of the body that no longer have use or function. Tonsils and our appendix used to be considered vestigial organs that is until we began to learn that they do in fact still carry importance. The appendix is connected with the immune system, specifically the lymphoid tissue.

In humans, the appendix also harbors a layer of helpful gut bacteria—a fact discovered by scientists at Duke University. In a 2007 paper, they proposed that it serves as a “safe house” to preserve these microbes, so that when the gut microbiome is hit hard by illness, we can replenish it with good guys holed up in the appendix.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-all-our-organs-vital/

As for our tonsils, a study done on 1.2 million Danish Children had the following results:

Over a follow-up period of 10 to 30 years, the 5 percent or so who had one or both sets of organs extracted before age nine were found to have a twofold to threefold higher rate of upper respiratory diseases and higher rates of allergies and asthma.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-all-our-organs-vital/

The more we study, the more we learn that there actually are fewer and fewer and probably no vestigial organs in our bodies. God made us whole, complete and perfect.

The same is true for the church. There are no vestigial members in churches. There are no members who have no purpose. We are all unique and special and because of that have a unique and special purpose within the church.

Find what your purpose is and help in creating a healthy growing church.

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

A Bright Future

A Bright Future

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 

Jeremiah 29:11-13

As America inaugurated a new president in Joe Biden earlier this year, I have to say that most of the attention was not on the new president but on a young woman named Amanda Gorman. She read a poem entitled ‘The Hill We Climb’ and the words encapsulated the reality of many who heard her.

When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry. A sea we must wade.

We braved the belly of the beast.

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.

And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.

 

Her words asked the question for tomorrow, not just for those who have been on top but to everyone under the sun. When will we find the victory?

When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.

The new dawn balloons as we free it.

For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.

If only we’re brave enough to be it.

 

As Christians, these words could not be more true. God doesn’t just want us to accept the light which he’s offering us but to be the light for those around us.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

Matthew 5:14-15

We are not just to embrace the future of light that God has given us, but to become that light and share it with others. God has a future for everyone of us. Let us embrace it.

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

Growth

Growth

 A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.

Psalm 17:22

Anderson Ruffin Abbott was born in Toronto on April 7, 1837. Although his parents were both black and from Alabama, they were ‘free people of colour’ who after moving north were given the space to grow, and grow they did. Through the purchase of real estate within Toronto, they became prominent in the community and even became active in politics. This prominence allowed Anderson to have an excellent education where he only grew the more, being an honour student in school and college. He became the first Canadian-born black Canadian to be a licensed family physician, became a coroner and even surgeon-in-chief.

It is not the colour of your skin, age, height or weight that determines what you can be in this life. Unfortunately, it also isn’t simply skill that you may or may not have. In most cases it’s the opportunity and chance to grow. A plant that is left in a small pot will reach a height and stop because it cannot extend its roots any further. Should you move it to a bigger pot, it will continue to grow higher and stronger.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

What is holding you back? Is it God? No. He is ready to open the doors to let you grow. He wants you to have life and have it more abundantly. Is it others around you? Possibly. We live in a world of greed and discrimination and it can be hard to grow when others try and build walls around you. But God is greater than those who are around you. There is no wall that they can build that God cannot tumble down. Depend on Him and you will not have to be limited by those around you.

Are you holding yourself back? That I can’t answer you but it is the only hurdle that God cannot, or better, will not break down. God will never go over your free will. He will always wait for your choice and accept it. Are you the source of your stunted growth? Is fear what drives your decisions? If yes, again, God is your solution. He will not go above your decision, but if asked, he can take away the fear that hinders you from making the right decision. Pray to God, be planted anew, and watch yourself grow beyond your wildest imagination.

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto