Friday, July 26, 2013

Lessons Learned From a Godly General

Lessons Learned From a Godly General
“Among the many lessons that can be learned from studying the life of General ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, one of the most important is to, live each day boldly without fear, loving and serving the Lord our God in all things, and be prepared to leave this earth for our heavenly home at any time.” - Jim Riddle

Ephesians 6:19-20
And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Hebrews 13:6
So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
1 John 2:28
And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

1 Peter 5:4
And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

I love history and am especially enthralled with the lives of a few Christian Generals of the American Civil War. One general that has captured my interest and I might add, “my heart” is the well known, General “Stonewall” Jackson. The love He had for his country was overwhelming though he truly was distraught over the North’s impending invasion. Jackson affirmed his allegiance to the Army of the Shenandoah and vowed to fight for God and country to the bitter end. Duty did not prevent him from acknowledging and proclaiming his religious convictions and many members of his brigade were quickly indoctrinated with Jackson’s infectious faith.

Thomas Jonathan Jackson, raised by his Episcopalian relatives following the untimely deaths of both his father and mother, joined the Presbyterian Church in the early 1850s.  Eager to share his renewed faith with all people, Jackson started a Sunday school in Lexington, Virginia for African-Americans teaching black children the ways of salvation. Although he could not alter the social status of slaves, he committed himself to Christian decency and pledged to “assist the souls of those held in bondage.” Eventually the Sunday school grew beyond the allotted facilities and ultimately blossomed into new churches for African-Americans. As a result, many ex- slaves became preachers themselves and were later responsible for some of the largest religious revivals that followed the South’s surrender. 

In reading the life of “Stonewall” Jackson, I realized what great conviction he had in serving God with boldness and without the fear of man. Whenever possible, General Jackson held to a strict schedule of morning and evening Sunday worship, as well as Wednesday prayer meetings, which he would adhered to at all costs. One of the local Fredericksburg preachers routinely led the services, which were often attended by General Robert E. Lee and his staff. Jackson loved God and lived his life in preparation of Christ’s return at any time. He felt he was just as safe on the battlefield as he was sitting in his own parlor–––knowing God was in control of his life and of his death.

Thought: As I read through some excerpts of General Jackson’s life, I realized that he was an example of a man who lived his life in pursuit of virtue and godliness. The perfect picture of godly virtue and worthy of all honor is of course, the LORD JESUS CHRIST. I would not want in anyway to take away from Christ’s supreme majesty and give homage due our Lord to a mere man, but a life lived out in faithfulness to Christ, in the end, Christ will reward.

May we live boldly, without fear, loving God with all our hearts, and others as ourselves. Let us live our lives as if everyday were our last in preparation of our Lord’s return, never to be ashamed at His appearing.  And when this life as we know it is over, may we cherish the words spoken by our Lord; “Well done, thou good and faithful servant:thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” Matthew 25:21. (Remember, rewards are based on faithfulness not results.)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Do I Ask for More?

Do I Ask for More?
James 4:2
Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
Have you ever thought to yourself, “I need to ask God for more joy, peace and love, in my life?”  Have you secretly envied people who are cheerful no matter what and who appear to have everything going for them? Are you laughing on the outside, but crying on the inside–––hurting and alone? Are you waiting to enjoy life when your circumstances become perfect? Be careful, there is danger lurking in the midst and your heart can be poisoned in the very presences of God’s beauty and holiness. With the Bible before your eyes, you can still commit sin and distort the Words of inspired Scripture.

Jesus said in John 15:11, These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.  Jesus set the model of perfect joy by His obedience to the Father and we as believers, will experience true joy when we are obedient to Christ. Hebrews 12:2 ~ Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Obedience is the basis of our joy. Acts 2:28 ~ Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Know and obey the ways of God and you will be filled with joy.

John 14:27 ~  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

John 16:33 ~ These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. This peace is unknown to the unsaved world, but secures serenity to the Christian in the difficult times of life. God’s peace is already given to us and can dissolve one’s greatest fears. Peace can rule in the hearts of those who claim Christ as their Savior and fortify them against the temptations of life. Jesus left His peace that we may also overcome a world filled with fears, trials and overwhelming circumstances.

Romans 5:5 ~ And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad (poured out) in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. God’s love for us as believers, has been poured out in our hearts to the point of overflowing. God has planted in our hearts the knowledge that we belong to Him and that His love is so immense, we can never be separated from so great a love. Romans 8:39 ~ Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thought: No need for us to ask for more joy, love or peace, God has already given us all these things. 2 Peter 1:3 ~ According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

What Scripture encourages us to ask for is “wisdom,” James 1:5 ~ If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally (generously), and upbraideth not (without reproach); and it shall be given him. Only such divine wisdom enables believers to be joyous, submissive in trials (peace), and experience the great love of God so cherished in a Christian’s life. God has wisdom in abundance, ask in faith, and He will provide the wisdom needed for every situation. If you are in doubt, you will be like the restless sea, moving back and forth, never able to settle. Ask God to give you wisdom for life’s journey, and He will guide you through every circumstance.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Training Up Children

Training Up Children

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Susannah Wesley believed that for a child to grow into a self-disciplined adult, he/she must first be a parent-disciplined child. To her, the stubborn flesh was the hardest battle for Christians to fight, and godly parents would do well to equip their children to overcome it early. 

To train up children, means that we as parents, must discipline our children, not necessarily in the way they would go, (in a sinful and corrupt manner) but in the way they should go. Directing them with a gentle, yet firm hand, while nurturing them and developing a heart of love towards God––––a parents mandate. As our children grow up, the prayer of a parent should be: “Please Lord, may our children never depart from the training we have invested in them through the teaching of the Word of God.” Deuteronomy 6:5-7 says,  And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:  And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 

It has been said, “Labor in childbirth is only the beginning–––genuine labor takes place when  the teaching, discipling, instructing and the admonishing of a child occurs.” A child, in the early years of their lives, needs to be seasoned with salt as to retain the savor, excitement, enjoyment and delight of the things of God during those tender years. Salt preserves, protects and guards against spoil. We as parents must season our children’s lives with the quality and flavor of the Word of God–––to safeguard them against the cunning devices of Satan. We must be consistent in the disciplining of our children and as parents, we are to be obedient to the Lord in our own lives.

Raising children today is challenging. We must explain issues we wish they never had to face and our children will experience things we never had to address. Our world is threatened by terrorism and economic uncertainty. Some of us may have to guide our children through divorce, poverty, or even the death of a parent or loved one. Unhealthy influences from the media or peers beckon our children, pressuring them to engage in unsafe activities. Disease is on the rise and it seems everyone we know, that is sick, has cancer. Our fears for our children are grimly realistic, while the world around us only presents more frightening questions, with no truth in their answers.

The secret to raising children in this society is our daily dependence upon God. We cannot train our children up without realizing the high calling of God upon our lives as mothers and fathers. Susanna Wesley taught her children that when she put her apron over her head that was a signal to leave her alone. She recognized her daily dependence on God, and prioritized her relationship with Him. (I’m not saying you need to wear an apron over your head like Susanna Wesley did, but having a daily dependence upon God is essential in training up children in this world).

Thought: There is only one right way to train up children and that is God’s way. The book of Proverbs clearly defines in great detail, that early child training in the ways of God, secures lifelong habits and character building traits parents must insist upon. Teaching God’s Word and enforcing it’s teachings with loving discipline throughout the child’s life, is a practice parents must consistently adhere to during those challenging, child training days. 

“You want to mess up the minds of your children? Here's how - guaranteed! Rear them in a legalistic, tight context of external religion, where performance is more important than reality. Fake your faith. Sneak around and pretend your spirituality. Train your children to do the same. Embrace a long list of do's and don'ts publicly but hypocritically practice them privately... yet never own up to the fact that its hypocrisy. Act one way but live another. And you can count on it - emotional and spiritual damage will occur.” Quote by  Charles (Chuck) Swindoll

Joshua 24:15 ~ And if it seem evil (disagreeable) unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. 

Joshua was a model parent and an example to Israel admonishing them to serve the Lord, not false gods. He challenged his family and others to commit themselves to serving the Lord. They wisely listened to his counsel and followed his example.

Joshua 24:24 ~ And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.

Friday, July 5, 2013

My Walk with God

My Walk with God
by Dianna Moffitt Carroll
My walk with God these forty years, 
Has been the blessing of my soul;
To tell of His great love for me, 
And His grace which has made me whole.

We’ve walked in the garden together,
 And journeyed through the valley of death,
Strolled near the water brooks thirsting,
 And there, with my Lord, I've wept.

Tender mercies He has shown me, 
Along life’s darkened way,
He promised me, though the way be unsure,
 By my side He would always stay.

Forty years of walking in His love and peace,
 A resemblance of heaven, so precious indeed.
The day will come, when we shall meet,
 The knee will bow, my joy, complete!

 One day I’ll walk with Christ, on streets of purest gold,
 His presence shall bring ten thousand Hallelujahs,
 And eternity will then unfold.

Thank you, Lord, for so great a salvation, 
So many years ago,
Because of You, I’m accepted, adopted,
 Complete in Christ, for Your Word has told me so.
Thought:  Forty years ago this week, I trusted Christ as my Savior, the most incredible journey I could have ever imagined. How anyone would not want to know the Savior, is beyond my comprehension. To be fully and completely His, exceeds any worldly treasure, any earthy influence or power this world could afford to give. I am thankful for my salvation and my “Walk in Christ” for all these many years. The first Bible verse I learned as a new Christian was 2 Corinthians 5:17 ~ Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. More than anything in this world, I wanted to live a different life than I had lived in the past. By divine grace, I left this world’s pleasures and being compelled by the love of Christ, a great change took place in my heart. Old principles and old practices passed away; and all things became new in my life. I didn’t know what “Regeneration” meant then, but I knew that my heart was different, and the desires of my soul were unfamiliar. My actions changed, my friends changed, and I was a renewed person with new goals and dreams. An unquestionable privilege had taken place in my life,  I was born again by the Spirit of God.

Where once my heart was filled with enmity towards God, it was now justified fully, completely forgiven, through the shed blood of Christ, Creator of heaven and earth. I was reconciled to God through Christ, my Savior and appointed Mediator. He was willing to take my sin upon Himself and freely forgive all my sin. What? A Holy God willing to be reconciled to me, a sinner? This truly is the greatest gift given, the glorious design of the gospel. He was made sin; not a sinner, a sacrifice for sin; that I might be made the righteousness of God in Him and be justified freely by the grace of God through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:21 ~ For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

 Happy Day, happy day, When Jesus washed my sins away!