Friday, August 19, 2016

Is Parenting Easy?

                                Is Parenting Easy?

                                         Proverbs 23:26
My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.

When you received the news that you were expecting your first child, your heart was most likely giddy with excitement. Your enthusiasm grew more and more with each day and a multitude of questions filled your mind. Can I be a good parent to this child that God has so graciously given me? Will I be someone my child can and will trust? How will I ever do this? God, will You please help me?

To set your mind as ease, there are no perfect parents that have ever existed or will at any time exist. If you think you must be that perfect parent, then you won’t need a perfect Savior to redeem you from your sins. As a parent, you will make plenty of mistakes in pursuing the roll of Mother or Father. You must remember that you have the Holy Spirit to guide, direct and comfort you through this life long journey.

Living the Gospel each day as you “parent,” will encourage you and strengthen your faith in Christ. The power of the Gospel is not to be set aside after salvation, but to be lived out daily before young eyes to observe and follow. The Gospel is the “good news” that you do not have to earn your salvation. The work of redemption has already been completed through the shedding of Christ’s precious blood and death on the cross. He was buried and rose again the third day ascending into heaven and is now seated at the right hand of the Father.

Gospel parenting is preparing your child to believe in what Jesus has done for them and to put their faith and trust in Christ, and in Christ alone. Effective parents do not center their lives around their children, but center their children around God’s dear Son. You, as a parent, must realize that you are utterly dependent upon God for parenting and responsible to Him as a parent.

Lord, may I center my life around You.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Slavery to Freedom to Bondservant

   Slavery to Freedom to Bondservant
 
                                 I Corinthians 7:22
For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant.

There have been many forms of slavery written about in our history books, including the enslavement of people recorded in Scripture. The Bible does not condemn slavery altogether seeing that the Bible gives instructions on how to treat a slave or bondservant (Colossians 4:1). During Bible times, slavery was sometimes pursued to aid and assist people struggling to stay alive. They would sell themselves to provide for their families or to get out of debt.

We suffered a great Civil War here in our country because of the unfavorable practice of slavery. This harmful action was directed towards the color of a person’s skin rather than their specific need for economic assistance. Men, women and children were taken from their homes unlawfully and forced to become slaves. They were treated as inferior human beings and abused physically and mentally. Freedom from this type of slavery was costly and many family members fought against each other during this difficult time. Roughly 2% of the population, an estimated 620,000 men, lost their lives in this devastating war.

The Word of God does tell us that we are born in sin and therefore, slaves to sin (Psalm 51:5; Romans 6:16-20). But, when we trust Christ by faith and believe in what He has done for us through His death, burial and resurrection, the Gospel, we are freed from the bondage of sin and its condemnation (Romans 8:1,2). When a person becomes a servant to Christ through regeneration, the Bible says they are then slaves, bound to serve but free to express their deep devotion to Christ. How can one not express such gratitude and overwhelming love for Him. Once slaves to sin, but now, a child of God, and heirs to Christ through Jesus Christ our Lord(Galatians 4:7).

Lord, thank You for the freedom to serve and to be Your servant.

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Rich Fool

                      The Rich Fool
                                     Luke 12:13-21
“. . . And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. . . But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?   So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
 
It's important to acknowledge that all the things we have in this world come from God. What we have is for this life only and we will not be able to take it with us. Wealth creates all kinds of choices as the parable indicates. A man had more than he needed. He spent all of his time just trying to decide what to do with his crops. He was allowing the material things he had to consume his soul.

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, "Master, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." This man was definitely greedy and covetous. He wanted Jesus to tell his brother to give him his money. Jesus said to the whole crowd, “Be on your guard against every form of greed." How foolish it is to be greedy, self-indulgent and to horde what you have to then leave it all behind. And so is the man who lays up treasure only for himself. It's not about how much you have, but what you do with it.

In 1 Timothy 6:9 Paul said, "Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction for the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil . . ."  If your desire is to make money for selfish reasons, it could cause you to wander away from your faith bringing many sorrows. “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have...” (Hebrews 13:5).


Lord, may I be satisfied with all You have given to me.


Friday, July 29, 2016

Self-Righteous

                         Self-Righteous
                                           
                                          Luke 18:9-14
"And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:  Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. . ."

Pharisees were one of the most respected people in society. Everyone thought the Pharisees were very righteous men. They were typically self-righteous and legalistic, flaunting their own "good works" before others to make themselves appear superior. Jesus referred to them many times as hypocrites.

In Luke 18:9-14, the Pharisee made the wrong conclusion in his comparison between himself and the tax collector. The Pharisee was unaware of his own sins, but very aware of others’ sins. This is very characteristic of a self-righteous person. The Pharisee was depending on his works and feeling that they gained him favor with God. He made himself righteous in the sight of men, but God knew his heart.
   
Righteousness is not the result of self-righteous activities one might perform or the result of the things you don’t do. If you have that attitude it is legalism. The publican was probably the least respected member of society. He was a Jew who worked for Rome collecting taxes. He was viewed as a traitor. This man was afraid to approach God, standing at a distance, knowing that he was unworthy to come before God. He was unwilling to lift his eyes which showed his humility while beating his breast–––the outward sign of an inward pain in ones’ soul.

The parable concludes with these final words: “for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” We cannot fail to learn from the publican’s confession and personal sense of sin. Here is a sinner’s cry for mercy and His great mercy is shown–––for only Jesus can save sinners.  “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us . . .” (Titus 3:5).

Lord, thank You for Your immense mercy upon a sinner like me.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Gift of Memory

                   The Gift of Memory

                                  Lamentations 3:21
              This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.

Our memory can sometimes be servants to hopelessness and despair. When we are faced with circumstances beyond our control, our mind can think up dark and despairing predicaments from   past situations. It can be like a dark cloud hanging over us raining down unwanted thoughts. When this happens we are at times unable to, “cast down imaginations...bringing every thought into captivity” ( 2 Corinthians 10:5) KJV.

The same memory that brought Jeremiah to despair brought him life and comfort again when he, remembered where he found true hope. The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; for they are new every day. There is no need for one to live in a state of despair, for truth can transform bad memories into His divine comfort. The memory that may have brought so many dismal and gloomy things into a believer’s life can be trained to carry a wealth of hopeful thoughts and replace them with joy and peace.

Consider where we would be without Christ and how dreary our lives would be without His mercies that fail not. Jeremiah reminds us that there are mercies that continue, “they are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23), to delight the soul day after day. When our mind is fixed on the gospel of Christ and not on the memories stained with sin, we can with great assurance stand before Him with no condemnation, having absolute peace with God.

The gift of memory can keep our hearts from complaining when the circumstances of life are not at all comfortable. When we’ve lost much but we haven’t lost our God, remember, that is when He becomes our all in all. Our sufficiency is from God in knowing He is enough and His gift of memory gives hope to sustain us through every remembrance good or bad.

Lord, may I remember that You are my hope, my expectation in troublesome times, as well as in the best of times.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Our Highest Focus

                 Our Highest Focus

                                 Ecclesiastes 12:13
 ". . . Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. "

Is there true satisfaction in the things of this world? Are some of man’s greatest and most notable achievements only efforts ending in emptiness and pride? It has been incredible what man has accomplished, yet God is rarely given the acknowledgment due His name. The theme and purpose of the book of Ecclesiastes is revealed through the reflections and experiences of just one man, King Solomon. He was the wisest man that ever lived and declared he had seen everything “under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).  In his conclusion to the whole matter, Solomon, determined that man’s existence was filled with futility and hopelessness. All that he had sought after in his pursuit of the real meaning of human life was meaningless.

The apostle Paul wrote about all he had accomplished religiously before he was confronted by Christ on the road to Damascus (Philippians 3:4-6). His conclusion, “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). Paul’s greatest desire was to: “...know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to His death;” (Philippians 3:10). 

Our purpose in life is to glorify God and enjoy fellowship with Him. Because of man's fall into sin, fellowship with God has been broken and man struggles to find peace and joy. Only through faith in Jesus Christ can purpose in life be discovered. To exalt God is to fear and obey Him, while keeping our hearts fixed on our future home, heaven. His purpose for our lives enables us to experience true and lasting joy–––the abundant life He desires for every believer. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

Lord, may my greatest achievement  in life be to trust You and love You with all my heart.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Seeking Sinners

                      Seeking Sinners

                                         Luke 15:1-7
Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, "This man receives sinners, and eats with them." And he spake this parable unto them, saying, . . .

Tax collectors of Jesus day were hated and despised by the Jews, mainly because they were usually fellow Jews working for Rome. Jesus was seen eating with “publicans,” another name for tax collectors or tax gatherers which the Pharisees and scribes complained about. Tax collectors were always under the suspicion of being extortioners (the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats) and they probably were guilty in most instances.

When Jesus was seen having dinner at a tax collector’s house named Matthew, along with other sinners, the Pharisees questioned Jesus’ choice of companions. Jesus’ response: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. . . . I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13). Jesus did not come to save the “good,” self-righteous people, but  He came to those who knew they were not good and who freely admitted they needed salvation. Matthew was one of those whom Jesus saved. When the Lord called Him, he left his tax collecting position and followed Christ immediately (Matthew 9:9).

Because the Pharisees were grumbling against Him, Jesus told them a parable about a lost sheep which illustrated the joy God has in one repentant sinner. He began the parable with a loving shepherd seeking out one lost sheep. It was the shepherd’s job to care for the sheep and make sure that none were lost, hurt, or killed. Jesus said, “there would be more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Though there was murmuring on earth over Jesus spending time with “sinners,” in heaven, there was great jubilation among the angels and pleasure with God over one sinner that repents.

Lord, thank You for seeking out sinners and saving me.