Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Depression




Christmas Depression

Psalm 42:11
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

As we read Psalm 42, notice the psalmist is struggling with some depression and feeling isolated from God. His feelings of isolation may have come from an absence of fellowship with God or discouragement from others. Whatever the cause, the feelings are real and recorded for our benefit. This time of year can bring depressing thoughts of loneliness and despair. Not being able to spend time with loved ones, during the Christmas season, can become extremely overwhelming to those alone. 

I remember the first Christmas I spent without my husband, Glen. We were opening presents with the grandchildren on Christmas morning. I recall thinking, “I’m doing so well, I haven’t even cried this morning.” My children brought out a gift that my husband had purchased for me while he was still living. Then I cried! The realization of someone being in heaven and still giving gifts was overpowering and huge. The act of kindness shown by my children made me truly thankful for their love and concern for their mother. It was a Christmas I will never forget.

Have you wrestled with the emotions expressed in Psalm 42? Has your soul been “cast down,” within you? Are you facing challenges at this time and need to see the hand of God working in your life? Psalm 42 reveals the character of God and ways He will help you “walk by faith,” when you are downcast and depressed.

Riding upon the storms of life with Christ as your anchor will without a doubt give you strength to endure. Knowing you have complete access and pleasure in His presence is most definitely the cure for sorrow. When you rely upon yourself for help and strength, you may begin to sink in the midst of the storm. But, when you hold on to the promises of God, He keeps your head above the billowing waves and comforts your tempestuous heart. Don’t let Christmas bring anything but joy and gladness to your heart. Set your affections on the things above and allow your mind to ponder the glorious gospel of Christ.

Prayer: Lord, may I keep my heart and mind fixed upon You with a thrusting in my soul for the true and living God.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Who's Missing Christmas?


 Who’s Missing Christmas?

Luke 2:11
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”  

There will be many people this year that will miss Christmas for one reason or another. I know you’re probably thinking, “How can this be, with all the advertising and holiday spirit going on?” Even though they are “celebrating” Christmas, they don’t know what Christmas is truly about. For us who are Christians, we can get caught up in the magic of the moment and forget about the One who came so long ago.

Sometimes, with the hustle and bustle of Christmas we become preoccupied with  all the presents, the food and other fun activities. The innkeeper in Bethlehem, said, “There’s no room for you in the inn.” Was he being hostile to Mary and Joseph? No! It was just too hectic for the innkeeper to take notice of them. The little town of Bethlehem was full of people to be counted in a census because their ancestors were from there. The innkeeper was either uninformed or unfamiliar with Scripture to recognize what was happening that blessed night. Therefore, he missed Christmas because he was just too busy to take notice.

The angel of the Lord came to shepherds the night Jesus was born. They were a despised group of people because they couldn’t participate in the religious rituals of the day. But, out of all the many people in Bethlehem, they were chosen to hear the angel of the Lord proclaim the birth of Christ. There are times when people miss out on Christmas because of religion. Religion steals the truth of Christmas and replaces it with ritualistic protocol and ceremonial formalities. The shepherds didn’t miss Christmas that wondrous night, the religious Jews did.

There are many ways to miss Christmas, but behind all those reasons is unbelief. If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and trust in His name, Christmas will become real to you. But, if you don’t know Christ and have never believed in who He is, I urge you today to put your faith and trust in the Christ of Christmas.

Prayer:  Lord, I am trusting in You today and believing You are everything that Scripture says You are. May my eyes be opened to Your so great salvation.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Living with the Addicted


Living with the Addicted

Growing up as a child, I didn’t realize I was living with an addict. My father, whom I loved very much, was an alcoholic. Some would characterize him as a “working alcoholic.” He was an extremely hard worker even in his addiction. I can only remember one vacation we ever took as a family and that was to Las Vegas, NV–––Not a fun trip for a kid. 

Alcohol was definitely used as an excuse to start a fight and leave home to get drunk. I have seen my dad so intoxicated that he passed out on the front lawn. It embarrassed me to see him this way and I know it was painful for my mother, as well. I remember going to work with my dad–––he was the manager of a liquor store. I would play in the store taking inventory of all the different kinds of alcoholic beverages he sold–––Not an appropriate play ground for a child.

I am thankful that God has allowed me to experience life with the addicted because this has given me the opportunity to reach addicts. Sharing the Gospel with women in substance abuse, gives them hope through Christ. Without the Lord Jesus Christ, they are beyond remedy in their sin.

Are you living with someone that is suffering with addiction and you’re wondering what you can do to help them? Loving those who are in substance abuse is essential. They need to be loved when it’s hard, when it hurts, and when they are unloveable. They need to see their problem in view of God’s Word and the solution that will make them free. God uses our struggles with sin to diagnose the true problem or condition of the heart, rebellion.

Rebellion against God is an issue we often avoid. To have true freedom there must be repentance. To repent means we are confessing our sin to God and forsaking that sin. Anything other than giving God the authority to remove this sin from our lives is self-centeredness. Submission leads to godly living and a renewed mind. Thus, this transformation changes one into the image of Christ, God’s dear Son (Romans 12:1,2).

Prayer:  Lord, I confess my sin of rebellion against You. I am acknowledging that I have sinned, and that this sin must be forsaken. Thank You for Your forgiveness.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Precious in His Sight



Precious in His Sight

Psalm 139:13-18
“... I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well...”

Every precious grandchild that God has gifted me with has been a magnificent and monumental moment I have been privileged to experience. To think the miracle of life has once again been given is awe-inspiring and breathtaking. I am overwhelmed when I call to mind what value God has placed on one small soul. The beginning of life was formed by the dust of the earth and the breath of God and though we are begotten and born of our earthly parents, God is the chief parent and the only fashioner of us all.  "Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves" (Psalms 100:3).

The examining eye of God views the new born baby and is acquainted with all their ways, every cry, every whimper, every breath. To think the God of this universe studies, considers and observes every minute feature of our being, gives great assurance that His knowledge of one so small is to wonderful to convey but deserves the highest praise.

The divine design and term of pregnancy, in which God watches over the growth of a child, is providentially ordained and divinely ordered. God’s plan in the forming of human life is unsearchable, for we are unable to clearly understand all aspects of life in our finite minds. God alone teaches man the knowledge of human life and true knowledge comes from the Word of God which gives us all truth. 

Thought: The song, “Jesus Loves the Little Children” says, “they are precious in His sight.”    It is most definitely the sweetest thing to hold a new born baby and feel the delight that flows from within. But, there is no greater joy than to know the Creator––Sustainer of life, and His wonderful gift of saving grace that gives to us the hope and joy of eternal life. New life in Christ and a new born baby are the most wonderful gifts that come from the heart of God.

I would like to introduce to you–––Mercy Noel––– my fourteenth grandchild. Born December 3, 2014, at 5:17 p.m. Weighing 6 lbs 11 ozs and is 20.75 inches long. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Sweet Song of Praise

 

Sweet Song of Praise


Psalm 8:1,9
O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.  O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

What comes to mind when we hear His name–– is it the Sweetest Name We Know
               Is there strength, power, and joy of heaven that comforts our troubled soul? 

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds, to a heart so filled with pain; 
To soothe the aching broken heart and heal the wounds of shame.

O, Lover of our burdened soul, our never ending Friend,
Though weak and weary, bruised from sin, forgiveness has no end.

May we lift our voice to heaven’s throne, of the matchless worth of Christ, 
Our Prophet, Priest, and Glorious King, our Sustainer and Giver of life.

O LORD, our Lord, what eternal excellence is given to Thy name,
The sweetest song of highest praise, will be to His wonderful, precious name.
    

                                                        by Dianna Moffitt Carroll


There is a well of strength hidden in the praises we sing and give to our Lord. Though our hearts are heavy and at times we don’t know what to do, we can meditate and ponder upon, “How excellent is Thy name.” He is our Counselor, the Prince of Peace, and our Mighty God in need: to defend us, comfort and guide us, throughout our anxious days. Don’t let the songs of praise be mere words written with ink, but let the sweetest name ever sung–– bring healing to the soul. For then we’ll discover the marvelous privilege of getting to know, the One whose name is exalted above every name and at the name of JESUS, every knee shall bow.


Philippians 2:9,10

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 


I Chronicles 29:11-13

Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.  Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.  Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.  

Thought: David, in his songs of praise to God, expresses loving words of adoration in which we see God’s name proclaimed as excellent and above all other names. He extols the Savior and the wonder of His precious name giving Him praise for the victory, greatness, power and strength unto all who praise His glorious name. Why praise the name of Jesus and give all honor to His name? Because He is worthy to be praised and His greatness is unsearchable in heaven above and on the earth beneath. Hebrews 13:15 ~ By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. “...That God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (I Peter 4:11b).

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Battle in Your Mind


The Battle in Your Mind

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Were you ever afraid of the dark as a child? I can recall waking up in the middle of the night fearful that some stranger was in my room. My heart was pounding so hard I thought it might jump right out of my chest. One night, I thought a man was standing in the doorway of my bedroom. He appeared large and monster like. I could not yell or even move because of the fear that had gripped my heart. Then I realized, when my eyes finally adjusted to the darkness, it was only my dad’s shirt hanging on the door frame. Crippling fear comes to us in many ways and for just about any reason.

What is paralyzing fear to you? What do you fear most in your life? Here is a list of a few things that women fear most:

•  Finances - We may loose our home, car, etc.

•  Children - Fear of baby development - Will our children  love and serve God?

•  Life of Singleness - Will I be alone forever? I must have a husband to be happy. 

• Divorce - Will my husband leave me for another woman?

•  Widowhood - Old age - Convalescent care - Loss of a loved one

•  Illness - Fear of suffering

•  Death - When will I die? How will I die? Will I die with dignity?

Have you ever asked yourself? “What if?”  That question could generate all kinds of fears about the future. What ifs? Are imaginations in the mind. This is why we know the mind is where the battle begins and where strongholds, images and knowledge that exalts itself above God, must be “cast down.”

Stronghold: A lie or false idea that a person believes to be true. It is so true to them that they are literally held in bondage to that thought. Picture a castle or fortress that is surrounding your mind with lies.

Imaginations: Are images made up in our mind keeping us from loving and serving God as He calls us to do.

Reasonings:  A cause, explanation, or justification for an action or event. The power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic.

If we want to overcome our fears, the strongholds, imaginations, or reasons in our minds, we cannot think, “What if.”  Thoughts about the future are at best only guesses.  Everything is in God’s hands. The dread of the future is a thief of joy. Like our future thoughts about the “What ifs” the “If only” thoughts about our past can rob us of peace and joy in the present. There is only one thing we can do about the past and that is to forget it! “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before” Philippians 3:13.

To forget means to not let your past affect or control you in the present.

Thought: How do I take every thought captive? Choose to trust what the Bible says about God is true and replace any fear or doubt with the truth of the Word of God. Life is difficult and bad things do happen to good people. When we know the truth of Scripture, we can lay before God our hurts, disappointments and the challenges we face. We can choose to think about God’s ability to handle problems instead of dwelling on them. Even when we feel the pain that life brings, we can rest in His peace that passes all understanding; the peace that only He can give. (Philippians 4:7)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Cheerful


Cheerful

Proverbs 15:13
A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. 

Proverbs 15:15
All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast. 

Proverbs 17:22
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

One night after a Bible Study at the House of Hope Treatment Center, I started to tell some funny stories about myself. The ladies that were there commented, “You need to write about your experiences, your episodes, they are so funny.” I love to laugh and do laugh regularly at the hilarious happenings of my life. For someone to have a merry, cheerful countenance it truly does depend on the condition of the heart. One finds in Scripture that along with a merry heart, there comes a continual feasting, and a cheerful countenance. The joy, the celebration, the cheerful countenance comes from a heart that is continuously filled with the love of God, His wonderful mercy, and matchless grace. 

True Story 
I was a homeschool mom and every Friday at our church, we had what we called, “Homeschool Friday.” On these special Fridays, all the children that were home schooled could come to the church for extra help in a certain subject that was being offered. Mom’s could take a day off from teaching and all of the children could stay at the church, even the babies. Some moms chose to stay and help teach some subjects, some babysat, or just hung out and helped in any way they could. We had Ladies’ Bible Study every Friday studying a particular book of the Bible or learning from a study book written by a well known author. It was a blessing to all the moms that took advantage of it.

On one particular Friday, after I had taught Ladies’ Bible Study, I went to the Ladies’ room. (I hope this is not TMI, too much information?) This room was a very small, one person, restroom. This Friday, I wore a dress and pantyhose to  teach the Ladies’ Bible Study. Somehow, while in the very small, one person, Ladies’ room, I got my watch stem caught in the back side of my pantyhose. I couldn’t budge my watch or my arm without ripping my hose. How does one get their watch stem caught in the back side of their pantyhose? I’m not sure how that happened, but it did, needless to say. My arm was stuck, pinned behind me, and I couldn’t get it unstuck–––I was a little flustered to say the least. 

I quietly opened the door and peered out to see if I could catch a glimpse of my husband, the pastor of the church, anywhere in sight. The restroom was in a narrow hallway, but close to my husband’s office. So, I thought, I’ll call out for him. I immediately heard a faint reply, “What?” I responded, “I need your help, Please!” You would have to know my husband to understand his reply back to me and to be assured his question was rooted in love. “What do you want, Woman?” There were people walking back and forth and wondering why I was calling out for the Pastor to come help me in the Ladies’ room. In a few minutes, he came and reluctantly entered the extremely small, one person, Ladies’ room with me. I showed him what had happened and immediately he started to laugh, which made me laugh. Here we were, the Pastor and his wife, in the small, one person, Ladies’ room, laughing-out-loud. 

The hallway, being quite narrow, made a perfect tunnel, or megaphone to hear everything that was going on in the very small, one person, Ladies’ room. Anyone in that part of the building, could hear us laughing and wrestling around in the getting smaller, one person, Ladies’ room. We knew they were wondering about us and asking each other, “What are they doing in there?” The ladies began to gather in the narrow hallway right outside the small, one person, Ladies’ room and started whispering, “What’s happened? What’s wrong?” Finally, my husband and I stopped laughing and there was silence in the very small, one person, Ladies’ room. Victory! He got my arm and watch free from the backside of my pantyhose. My husband definitely was not a timid or shy man but, after my pantyhose mishap, he quickly opened the door of the small, one person, Ladies’ room and dashed out–––the coward! Obviously, he left me behind to collect myself and try to explain to all the ladies standing around what had just happened. (Lucile Ball would have been proud of my moment).

Thought: To say the least, the rest of the day was spent; answering questions, listening to snide remarks, and being the blunt of many jokes. I’m not sure why these things happen to me, but they do and I assure you, they happen without me prompting them. If this silly story has brought a smile to your face or even a grin, then it was successful in it’s purpose. There is no spiritual insight to this funny story, but I do think as a Christian, you need to realize that when you are filled with the Spirit of Christ; you will possess a merry heart, have a cheerful countenance, and will continuously be feasting in His love and grace, so freely given.

Friday, November 7, 2014

"Pain"


"Pain"

The word “pain” or some form of it appears over 70 times in Scripture. The word’s first usage explains the origin of pain in childbirth: “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” Genesis 3:16. The truth here is that Adam and Eve had sinned and the pain of childbirth is one of the consequences of sin. Because of sin, the whole earth was cursed, and death entered in as a result (Romans 5:12). Therefore, it may be concluded that pain is one of the many results of the original sin.

Pain is a gift from God though it is not stated that way in the Bible. Without pain we would not know when we are hurting and need medical help. The absence of pain is one the of the problems associated with Leprosy. Definition of Leprosy: Symptoms that develop include granulomas of the nerves, respiratory tract, skin, and eyes. This may result in a lack of ability to feel pain and thus loss of parts of extremities due to repeated injuries. Weakness and poor eyesight may also be present. [From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia].

Just a few days ago I suffered some severe pain in my body. I reached out to touch something and excruciating pain gripped my right arm. I danced around for a few moments and then it stopped (must have been the dance). I called the chiropractor and got an appointment, but I was having difficulty getting undressed to get ready for the appointment. My head and arm were caught in my sweat shirt as I was attempting to remove them. Oh, the pain! Again, the dance started and I began to call out to God for help. While crying out in pain, these were my thoughts; “Here I am struck in this sweat shirt and no one can hear my cries or come to my rescue. Oh, it hurts! What will I do, if I can’t get unstuck?” It all seems so trite, but in reality, it truly was quite agonizing. Finally, the pain subsided and I did get my arm out of my sweat shirt and was able to take it off over my head–––making it to my doctor appointment right on time. I am so thankful for God’s kindness towards me in relieving that awful pain. This a small example of the Lord’s wonderful grace and mercy poured out on me that troublesome morning. (I later learned that the pain I was experiencing was caused by a pinched nerve in my neck). 

Pain provides one an opportunity to experience God’s marvelous grace. Consider what Paul said: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul was speaking of a “thorn in his flesh” that troubled him. We don’t know for sure what it was, but it seemed to have been painful for Paul. God’s grace was being given to Paul so he could endure the pain. God will give His children the grace to bear pain physically, emotionally, or spiritually. The really good news is that, “... God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away, (Revelation 21:4). The pain we experience here in this fallen sin-cursed world will be done away with for those who, through faith in Christ, spend eternity in heaven with Him. 

Thought: Can we truly thank God for our pain when in the midst of suffering it can be quite difficult? God assures us that His grace is sufficient, enough, for these unbearable times. His grace gives strength, durability, resilience, and endurance when our strength is spent–––His grace is constantly available. Though our request for deliverance from pain may be denied, He will continually supply us with His grace to endure that we may honor Him in and through our infirmities.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Teaching Your Children (part II)



  
Teaching Your Children (part II)

Proverbs 13:20
 He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Teach Your Children: To carefully select their companions –– Proverbs 1:11-18, “If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit: We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil: Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse: My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:  For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.  Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.  And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.”

         The power of association speaks volumes in shaping the character of a young person’s life. It is so important that we, as parents, help to mold our children’s moral strength by initiating proper friends and friendships. The intimidating force of peer pressure is overwhelming at times and often the way to entice those who lack God’s wisdom and parental guidance. The goal of good parenting is to produce wise children who know and honor God with their lives Proverbs 23:24 shows the end result of raising children according to God’s plan: “The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.” Proverbs 2:10-15, “When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;  Discretion shall preserve (watch over) thee, understanding shall keep thee: To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward (perverted) things;  Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness;  Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness (perverseness) of the wicked; Whose ways are crooked, and they (are devious) froward in their paths:” 

Teach Your Children: To control their sinful desires –– Proverbs 2:16-19, “To deliver thee from the strange (forbidden) woman, even from the stranger (adulteress) which flattereth with her words; Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God. For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.” ( Also Proverbs 5:3-5; 6:23-33; 7:6-27). Seduction is deceptive and flattering words make one servile, a slave, which suggests a cringing submissiveness. The wise father will help teach their young men that this kind of sin leads to bondage and irreversible regret, and to daughters, it results in painful loss. Help your children to see the lies of the entertainment world promoting sinful desires as healthy and participation in such things as acceptable. The lies of Satan are harmful and undeniably destructive. The lips of honey should be part of the sweetness of marriage in a true love God gives. “Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon” Song of Solomon 4:11.

Teach Your Children:  To watch their words –– Proverbs 10:32, “The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness (speaks what is perverse).” Proverbs 12:18, “There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.” Our words are to bring life and health and should never be cutting, evil or with intent to cause pain. (Proverbs 4:24; 10:11,19-21; 12:22; 15:1-2,7; 16:23; 20:15). “The tongue” is used throughout Scripture in both literal and metaphorical ways, especially in Psalms, Proverbs and James. The tongue is a “small part of the body” (James 3:5), yet Proverbs 18:21 says it “has the power of life and death.” This holds true whether we’re speaking of spiritual, physical or emotional “life and death.” Obviously, a literal, fleshly tongue cannot crush the human spirit, but the words the tongue produces can. What our tongue produces has eternal implications, for it reveals what is in our heart.

Thought: Encouragement often comes through spoken words ––– so does discouragement. Reckless words pierce like a sword (Proverbs 12:8). The wound is emotional, and it is deep. What we say to our children can have a profound effect on them and what they say to others, likewise.

                Controlling sinful desires keeps one from ruin and destruction, as well as, from being enslaved to inappropriate and immoral passions. Guide your children in appropriate behavior towards the opposite sex in the way that they act and talk. “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt . . .” (Colossians 4:6).

                Help your children to find friends that will encourage them to live godly lives and bring honor to God throughout their relationship. Parents, being an example before your children in what a true friend should be, is the best way for them to understand what a genuine and sincere friend really looks like.

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

Friday, October 24, 2014

Teaching Your Children


Teaching Your Children

Deuternomy 6:5-8
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. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

The book of Proverbs is a wonderful and intensely practical guide that contains much wisdom mothers and fathers can impart to their children. Here are some lessons that will serve children well their entire lives.

Teach your children: To have a healthy fear of God –– Proverbs 1:7 says,  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” (Also, Proverbs 10:27;15:16 and; 16:6;). There are two kinds of fear mentioned in the Bible. The first kind of fear is the fear of the Lord, which is healthy and to be encouraged. The second kind of fear the Bible talks about is a "spirit of fear" (see 2 Timothy 1:7), which is a hindrance to our life and walk with God.
What does it mean to fear the Lord? It’s having an attitude of respect and awe for all God is, which includes His unfailing love, mercy, power, and glory, and also characteristics like His righteous anger and wrath. The fear of the Lord contains many blessings and benefits as well as, true salvation. It leads to wisdom and understanding (Psalm 111:10). Also, with the fear of the Lord is life and true rest (Proverbs 14:27; 19:23). 
Teach your children: To guard their minds –– Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Teaching a child to watch over their heart, means: their mind, their emotions and their will. The heart is like a depository of all wisdom to encourage right decisions on every issue of life. Be careful what your children watch, read, and listen to. Their minds are simple, uncomplicated and somewhat unaffected by the things of this world. That’s why they need guidance through their formative years in the things that enter the eye gate –– impacting the heart.
Teach your children: To obey you –– Proverbs 1:8, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:” Proverbs 6:20-23, My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.  When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:”
It is an unbelievable thing to watch young mothers today trying to get their children to obey. They stroll through the store with a screaming child while they count to numbers that mean absolutely nothing. They attempt to threaten or intimidate their children into obedience but never succeed. They continue to ignored the fit that has proceeded throughout the store and the child has not yet obeyed. Is that a picture of “Teaching your child to obey?” No! Teaching a child to obey takes time and discipline on the part of the mother/parent. Sometimes, it’s embarrassment that causes a mother to just say, “forget it!” We can’t do that if we want our children to learn the godly aspect of obedience. Teaching a child to obey, mom and dad, is important and biblical because it guides a child into the practice of obeying God as they mature and grow older.

Thought: Training children is not an easy task, but it is extremely rewarding. We, as parents, are instructed to train up children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.” We are to love, discipline, and instruct them in the precepts of the Word of God. We are instructed never to provoke, annoy, or anger our children with unreasonable demands or criticisms. But, we are to bring our children up to respect the ways of God as a foundation of life in godliness, with blessings.

*I will continue some further lessons in the book of Proverbs on, “Teaching Your Children,” next week.




Friday, October 17, 2014

Freedom


Freedom

Galatians 5:1
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 


Harriet Tubman was an American bondwoman who escaped from slavery in the South to become a leading abolitionist before the American Civil War. She was born in Maryland in 1820, and successfully escaped in 1849. Yet she returned many times to rescue both family members and non-relatives from the plantation system. She led hundreds to freedom in the North as the most famous "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, an elaborate secret network of safe houses organized for that purpose.

Harriet Tubman was a slave but not by choice. She escaped slavery but returned to the South to help those whom she loved and those she didn’t even know. Slavery was hard and physical violence was a part of daily life for her and her family. The violence she suffered early in life caused permanent physical injuries. Harriet later recounted a particular day when she was lashed five times before breakfast. She carried the scars for the rest of her life. The most severe injury occurred when Harriet was an adolescent. Sent to a dry-goods store for supplies, she encountered a slave who had left the fields without permission. The man’s overseer demanded that Tubman help restrain the runaway. When Harriet refused, the overseer threw a two-pound weight that struck her in the head. Tubman endured seizures, severe headaches and narcoleptic episodes for the rest of her life. (Narcolepsy: a condition characterized by an extreme tendency to fall asleep whenever in relaxing surroundings.) Freedom was an important aspect in the life of Harriet Tubman and in the lives of others that were slaves during our great Civil War.

As Harriet Tubman returned to help slaves gain their freedom, Christ has come that we might be freed from the bondage of sin. Through His great sacrifice, we are made free from the oppression and guilt of our transgressions. What is Christian freedom? What does it mean when we say we are free in Christ? The believer’s old self is dead, crucified with Christ. When someone trusts Christ as their Savior, they are spiritually participating with Him in His crucifixion and victory over sin. Galatians 2:20 says,“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” We are free to live a life that honors Christ, not a life under the law in a yoke of bondage, but in freedom, by the grace of God.

When we trust Christ we become rich, spiritually wealthy, and we’re able to share in the riches of God’s grace, wisdom and knowledge. We are complete in Him and can live the kind of life Christ wants us to live. We are free to live life to the fullest never missing out on anything God has for us. Some people make others feel that they are missing something if they don’t live by a set of rules set up by man. Listen to what Paul said, “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. (Laws and rules for knowing Christ) For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.  For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.”

The Jews were accepting circumcision as a way to obtain salvation, becoming debtors to the whole law. If we believe that the things that we do, brings true salvation, we become debtors to do the whole law as well.  We are spiritually unable to keep the whole law and to save ourselves. There is only One that can keep the law perfectly, He is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The law is unable to change a person on the inside, it takes the power of God from within to transform a life. That power only comes from the Holy Spirit of God at conversion. 

Christ wants us to enjoy the liberty we have in Christ and walk by the Spirit of God, pleasing Him. Walking implies that we are being controlled by the Holy Spirit, and guided by His will, resulting in righteous behavior. If we are not led by the Spirit of God, we are prompted by the flesh which can sway the mind, will, and emotions of a person, subjecting them to sin. We need to be careful not to entangle ourselves in the yoke of bondage again after salvation. When we have rules and regulations controlling our lives, as the Jews did, we’re not walking in freedom by the Spirit of God, but in drudgery. 

Thought: Harriet Tubman loved her fellowman enough that she risked her life to help set some of them free from the chains of slavery. In Christ’s love for sinners, He freely gave up His life, shedding His blood on the cross to pay the price for man’s freedom. Our freedom is not earned, bought, or achieved by human effort or merit, but given to us freely through God’s amazing grace. When we repent of our sins, and trust Him with all of our heart, soul and mind, we are “Born Again” by the Spirit of God. We are made free indeed!  “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). This is true freedom!