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!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Burden Bearer


Burden Bearer

Galatians 6:1,2 
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.


The Old Testament prophet, Amos, name means, burden bearer. The prophets of the O.T. bore the burdens of God’s people even though they were wrongly accused, put into prisons, dungeons, or cisterns. Moses was a spokesman and an ambassador for God, a burden bearer, watching and caring for the children of Israel. Christians have been encouraged to comfort, encourage and bear one another’s burdens with the knowledge that Jesus Christ is our Chief Burden Bearer. Psalms 55:22 says, “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”

Burdens are extra heavy loads that people are having trouble dealing with. To bear someone’s burden means that you are willing to help carry that load with endurance fulfilling the law of Christ, the law of love which satisfies the entire law. Burden bearers are to help others live a spirit-filled life as they are confronted, encouraged, and loved. Building relationships in love, trust, and mutual respect will help people through their painful circumstances. They need to be given hope that their situation can change and nothing is impossible with God. 

Emotions during an overwhelming trial are very revealing and powerful. Under the influence of anger, drugs, alcohol, etc., many people have done extremely wicked things. But the emotion of anger specifically, can be controlled according to the Word of God. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Proverbs 19:11,  “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.” ” Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9).  Paul wrote, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:“ (Ephesians 4:26). Paul’s command from Ephesians to be angry without sin should give us hope.

Galatians 6:1 says, “If a man be overtaken in a fault, (failure, weakness) ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness (gentleness).” What does it mean to be “overtaken in a fault?” This can actually mean someone has seen a person committing a sin or been caught or trapped by the sin itself. In the spirit of gentleness, we are to help mend or repair the broken one and restore them to Christ.  The Spirit-filled Christian should seek to restore a brother in love watching over them with diligent attentiveness. We are to encourage others through their bad moods, hard to handle times, and emotional traumas, “lifting up the hands which hang down.” (Hebrews 12:12). Someone that has fallen into sin, does not need the legalist attitude of pride which says, ”I’d never do that” or condemnation, “Why did you do that?” but they need the truth given in love and kindness. Bearing someone’s burden is not agreeing with their sin, but realizing that no man is immune from falling, “considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1b). Pride is an arrogant spirit that people express when they feel they are better than someone else because they have never committed a particular sin, nor will they ever.  All that we do is either investing in the flesh or in the Spirit. The believer that sows to the flesh will reap the corruption of the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit, will reap from the Spirit, eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8) We are to live our lives in accordance to the fruit of the Spirit. How do I know if I am living in the Spirit? Ask yourself these questions. Am I joyful, do I love others deeply, am I patient, am I at peace with God? These are a part of the fruit of the Spirit of God written in Galatians 5:22-25. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), gentleness (kindness), goodness, faith(faithfulness). Meekness (gentle), temperance:(self-control) against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Thought: As we seek to left each other up, may we do so in the spirit of love and kindness. When someone is down, pick them up. When someone is hurting, comfort them. When someone is in sin, restore them in the spirit of gentleness. And when someone’s burden is to heavy to bear, show them Christ, the Ultimate Burden Bearer. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek (gentle) and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).


Friday, October 3, 2014

Burnout


Burnout, What’s That?

Matthew 11:28-30
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Burnout is commonly described as an exhausted state in which a person loses interest in a particular activity and even in life in general. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, social, and spiritual exhaustion. It can lead to declining health, social withdrawal, depression, and a spiritual weariness. Many times, burnout is the result of an extended period of exertion at a particular task (generally with no obvious payoff or end in sight) or the carrying of too many burdens (such as borne by those in the helping professions or those in positions of authority, among others). Burnout can be common among those in high-stress jobs who feel forced to please an earthly master in order to maintain their job and continue to provide for their families. The god of money reigns in our culture, and his demands often lead to burnout.

Perhaps you are a single mother who’s working full time and your kids are with a babysitter or in day care all day. You feel angry, bitter, guilty. Or maybe you’re a pastor or youth worker in a church and you spend every hour serving God, loving people, and making a difference in the lives of others. Yet, your own marriage is a disaster. You’ve lost the art of communication with your spouse. Passion is only a word in the dictionary and maybe you’re ready to call it quits. Perhaps you’ve gained thirty pounds over the last year, and you’ve finally admitted that food is your only true friend. You may have a problem with drinking, or are afflicted with a sexual addiction, or find yourself emotionally or physically abusing others. Whatever your challenge may be, it has you in a vice grip from which you can see no escape. One thing for sure; You are exhausted. Each day is another twenty-four hours of pain and struggle. You scream inside but no one can hear you. 

What do we do when life seems hopeless or out of control? We move into areas we think will help: more work, more alcohol, more obsessive/compulsive activity, more entertainment, more frantic escape from reality. But it’s always more and more of the wrong thing. Instead of helping us regain control of our lives, it produces an internal environment that evolves into burnout. We feel an uncontrollable sense of disease, but because we’re on a vicious cycle of unproductive activity, we keep doing the same unproductive activity over and over. When our burnout and stress builds to a level at which we cannot endure the pain any longer, we cross the line to physical and mental exhaustion.

Burnout is often the result of self-reliance. The self-reliant take upon themselves the role of savior rather than trusting God to accomplish His own will. They begin to see every need as their call, rather than asking for God's wisdom and direction. This can play out in a ministry setting when a pastor attempts to do the work of the entire Body of Christ, in a business setting when someone forces a certain plan or project, in a family setting when a parent takes responsibility for the success and happiness of a child, and in numerous other settings.

What does relying on Jesus look like practically? It will be different for each person. For some it will mean examining their own hearts and removing the idols of self-reliance. For others it will be challenging their trust in God by learning to say "no." For some it will mean consulting with God before saying "yes." For others, it will mean being more intentional about self-care. Self-care implies not only caring for one's body as the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19-20) by getting proper exercise, sleep, and nutrition; it also means taking time to laugh, to engage in hobbies, to be with friends, to be alone, to go for a hike, to soak in a bath, to read a book, to journal, in essence to actually enjoy those things that God has made to be life-giving to you. Taking steps to rely on Jesus may have very real consequences. When we are following God, we can trust that He is faithful to provide for our needs (Matthew 6:33). God has designed us and He knows what is best for us. When we rely on Him, we can trust Him to make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5,6). It takes wisdom, discernment, and faith to live within God's parameters, but it is there that we find true life. 

Thought: We recover from burnout by entering God's rest. We avoid burnout the next time by staying in tune with God's specific direction for our lives. That means we consult Him about our schedules, we take time to care for ourselves, and we learn to depend on His strength to carry out our duties. Our identity is not drawn from the tasks we accomplish but from our relationship with Jesus. We do the work He calls us to, and we do it with all our hearts, but we do not go beyond the limits He has set. We accept His rest because it is the gracious gift of a loving and wise Father. God is more interested in our relationship with Him than He is in our work (Hosea 6:6). There is nothing spiritual about "burning out for Jesus."










Jantz, Gregory L. (2008-08-01). How to De-Stress Your Life. Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.