What if I begin the New Year with full assurance of God’s love?
What if I begin the New Year knowing I am in a right relationship with God?
What if I choose to look more like Jesus and less like the world in 2016?
What if I read and mediate on God’s Word every day?
What if I let go and let God?
Psalm 91 (NLT)
1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. 3 For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. 4 He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. 5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. 6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. 7 Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. 8 Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished.
9 If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, 10 no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. 11 For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. 12 They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. 13 You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. 15 When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. 16 I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”
“14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
Spoken words are pleasing or unpleasing to God.
It’s relatively easy for me to speak kindly when “all is well.”
Not so easy, during stressful moments.
Yesterday was one of those moments. Thus, I hesitated to complete this post.
Prior to sinful words proceeding from the mouth, provoking thoughts loom.
Thoughts originating in the hidden places of the heart where only God can see.
18 “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person” (Matthew 15:18-20 ESV).
Unspoken words identify the condition of one’s heart.
I have found that the only way to keep my thoughts pure is to meditate on the Word of God.
12 “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” (Hebrews 4:12 NLT).
Facebook friends: May the Psalms draw you near to God.
“1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. 2 Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. 3 They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard.4 Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.
God has made a home in the heavens for the sun. 5 It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding. It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race. 6 The sun rises at one end of the heavens and follows its course to the other end. Nothing can hide from its heat.
7 The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. 9 Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair. 10 They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb. 11 They are a warning to your servant, a great reward for those who obey them.
12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.
14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19 NLT).
Faith at Home Moment:
Parents and grandparents, how is your Bible reading? Our children’s first impression of the Bible begins with us. When we exhibit a love for God’s Word through daily Scripture reading we are setting a holy precedence for our children to follow. Here are a few suggestions for reading the Bible.
– Set aside a specific time and place to read the Bible each day.
– Pray before reading the Bible, asking the Holy Spirit to give you clear understanding.
– Use a journal/notebook to write down the thoughts God gives you while reading the Bible.
No more Stinkin’ thinkin’…impossible? Depends on what you tend to think about.
What consumes your thoughts on a daily basis? Take a few moments to answer this question (it won’t take long), then reflect upon the following.
If your thoughts are continually focused on this world and all the “things “promising satisfaction, you are no doubt miserable! Take it from a person who has from time to time walked this dead-end path. Fortunately, I’ve learned a better way of thinking….that leads to a life that fully satisfies, and at times, splashes hope, joy, peace, and love onto those who happen across my path.
Note to self and friends: Learning and living this out is a daily surrender and dependence upon God.
Most recently, I found myself consumed with worry. Yes, the big W. Although I memorized Philippians 4:6 many years ago, I hadn’t been living it out, nor had I replaced my stinkin’ thinkin’ with thoughts that lead to hope, joy, peace, and love.
First, let’s look at one of my favorite passages of Scripture:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
– Worry about NOTHING
– Pray about EVERYTHING
– Thank God for ALL THINGS
Often we try to avoid or rid ourselves of thoughts that are unhealthy and or unholy with our own will power. This is not the best method. In fact, we will find ourselves powerless over thoughts that originate from the flesh, the world, and Satan, unless God’s power, through His Holy Spirit is at work in our lives.
Paul instructed the Church of Philippi, and future Christians, to fill their minds with the following:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).
I believe this is a great plan! Instead of going around with stinkin’ thinkin’, I’d much rather think upon such things that lead to peace.
Parents and grandparents, take this challenge.
No more Stinkin’ Thinkin’!
Discover the meaning of such things and then help your children/grandchildren catch you living out a thoughtful life in Christ, setting an example for them to follow.
Brief definitions (paraphrased from Webster Dictionary, etc.):
True — Agreeing with the facts, not with anything false. And I will go a little further than Webster: Not only agreeing with the facts, but living a life that substantiates all that is true. Qualities: steadfast, faithful, honest, just, truthful
Jesus said, “I am the true vine…” (John 15:1).
Jesus answered, “I am the way and thetruth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Noble — Having, showing, or coming from personal qualities that people admire (such as honesty, generosity, courage, etc.)
The Scripture that comes to mind: Proverbs 31:10 – The Wife of Noble Character
Right — Morally correct or acceptable; agreeing with the facts or truth; accurate or correct; speaking, acting, or judging in a way that agrees with the facts or truth. Sounds somewhat similar to the definition of True.
Pure — Not mixed with anything else; clean and not harmful in any way; being free from what vitiates, weakens, or pollutes; being free from everything that might make dirty, change, or lower the quality
Synonyms: spotless, stainless
“Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob” (Psalm 24:3-6).
Lovely – That what is attractive or beautiful especially in a graceful way; very good or likable; very pleasing; having a beautiful character
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looksat the heart’” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Admirable — Deserving to be admired; deserving the highest esteem
Excellent — Very good; extremely good; that what is superior or first-class
“Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question–if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17 NLT).
Praiseworthy — Deserving praise; worthy of praise
God is worthy of all our praise.
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelation 4:11).
Daily Challenge: Read and meditate on God’s Word (Holy Scripture).
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it” (Joshua 1:8).
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NLT).
“For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5).
Children speak from the honesty of their hearts, even when it reflects their sinful nature.
While finishing eating our cupcakes for Julia’s 4th birthday, Julia surprised me with these words, “Nana, sometimes I do mean things.” Prior to our little party, Julia had been in our backyard running water from the hose, making a puddle to jump in with her sparkly new shoes. Her momma caught her and gave her a little talking to about her misbehavior. No spanking though, since it was her birthday. I later gave her four affectionate old-fashioned birthday spankings and a pinch to grow on…fondly recalling my childhood memories.
Now back to Julia’s concern over her naughtiness. I asked her, “Why do you think you do mean things?” She quietly answered, “I don’t know, I just do.” Okay, got it! Julia’s sinful nature is becoming evident to her and to others. Because Julia has received the primary teaching of sin from her parents, and by the faithful conviction of God’s Holy Spirit, Julia is clearly beginning to recognize the reality of her inherited bent toward sin.
With her pretty blue eyes focused upon mine, I responded to Julia this way. “I know that you really don’t want to do mean things, but the only way that you will be able to stop doing them, is to ask Jesus to help you.” As she seemed to experience a small sense of relief, I told her I would be praying for Jesus to help her.
My prayer for Julia is the same one that I pray for all my grandchildren: That they will come to know Jesus at a young age, to love Him fully, to obey His Word, and to serve Him faithfully all the days of their lives.
I believe that teaching children who God and Jesus are comes more naturally for most parents/grandparents, than it does to teach them about the third person in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
While recently watching the made for T.V. miniseries, A.D. The Bible Continues, my spirit was reviatlized by the dramatization of the Acts of the Apostles being infilled with the power of the Holy Spirit.
This same Holy Spirit (God’s Spirit) that was poured out upon those early believers is the same Holy Spirit who desires to infill every Christ-follower today.
We need to teach our children the only way to work out the “meanness” in our lives, is to receive Jesus as our personal Savior…to repent of our sins, and allow the Holy Spirit to begin His cleansing work in our lives.
Somewhere along their spiritual journey, new believers sense an internal struggle–the “desire” to sin. This desire comes from the original sin nature, (inherited sin of Adam). The only remedy for the sinful nature is heart cleansing by the infilling (or baptism) of the Holy Spirit.
Teaching our children to understand the difference between original sin (nature) and personal acts of sin is a vital part of training in Christian holiness (perfect love).
Pray for your children to be sanctified (or set apart for God’s holy purpose). See Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonica Church:
1 Thessalonians 5:22-24 (NIV)
22 reject every kind of evil.
23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
It is true, God is faithful to cleanse (purify) the heart from original sin as we consecrate or surrender ourselves fully to Him. He promises to replace the inbred “desire to sin” with an abiding holy-heart desire to please our Heavenly Father above all other. Of course, we will continue to be tempted to sin, but with a cleansed heart, have the power NOT to sin.
The greatest joy of Christian parents is realizing the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of their children. Sanctification empowers every believer to serve Christ with a joyful heart.
The proof of spiritual maturity is not how “pure” you are but awareness of your impurity. That very awareness opens the door to grace. —Philip Yancey
When David sinned against God, he acknowledged that he was “born a sinner.” And when David repented of his personal sin against God, he sought to be fully cleansed, or purified.
Psalm 51: A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
1 Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. 2 Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. 3 For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. 4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.[a]5 For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. 6 But you desire honesty from the womb,[b] teaching me wisdom even there.
7 Purify me from my sins,[c] and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. 9 Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. 11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit[d] from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. 13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. 14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. 15 Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.
16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. 18 Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit—with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.
Living in the Light (1 John 1:5-7)
5 This is the message we heard from Jesus[c] and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. 6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
Resources for teaching children the basic beliefs of Christianity and the doctrines of the Church of the Nazarene.
Beliefs About the Triune God, Part 2: Jesus Christ
Beliefs About the Triune God, Part 3: The Holy Spirit
Beliefs About the Bible, God s Holy Word
Beliefs About the Human Race and Sin
Beliefs About Salvation, Part 1
Beliefs About Salvation, Part 2
Beliefs About Entire Sanctification
Beliefs About the Church
Beliefs About the Christian Life
Beliefs About the Sacraments and Divine Healing
Beliefs About Things to Come
Important Need to Knows
The Apostle’s Creed
The Nicene Creed
The Ten Commandments
The Lords Prayer
Agreed Statement of Belief
Articles of Faith
The Covenant of Christian Character
My Faith: Certificate of Completion
BE SURE TO TUNE IN TO WATCH A.D. THE BIBLE CONTINUES ON SUNDAY NIGHTS, NBC, 8 PM CENTRAL TIME. DISCLAIMER: DUE TO THE VIOLENCE DEPICTED IN SOME OF THE EPISODES, PARENTS ARE ENCOURAGED TO USE DISCRETION WITH YOUNGER CHILDREN. HOWEVER, I PERSONALLY ENCOURAGE PARENTS TO WATCH WITH OLDER CHILDREN AND TEENS. FOR BIBLE STUDY AND OTHER HELPFUL RESOURCES TO ENHANCE YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF A.D. THE BIBLE CONTINUES, THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, GO TO DR. DAVID JEREMIAH’S WEBSITE: http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/therevolution/home.aspx
While reading my Bible this morning, I was reminded of how much God loves me. Interestingly enough, this early Valentine’s message came through a very unlikely passage of Scripture: Numbers 25 and 31 New International Version (NIV). The swiftness of God’s punishment came upon some of the Israelite men and the Midianites for their sexual immorality and idolatry. As I read the chronological events of this difficult portion of Scripture, the Holy Spirit helped me to correlate God’s divine love for His children with the severe penalty of sin. I concluded it is because of God’s amazing love, that He protects us from that which has the potential to not only rob us from our present blessings, but even worse, prevent us from entering the “Promised Land,” the eternal home God has prepared for those who love Him.
When the Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land, they were seduced by the Moabite and Midianite women to participate in idolatrous practices (Numbers 25:1-18); thereby provoking a jealous God to anger, and resulting in the death of thousands because of their sin. Just like those who posed a threat to the Israelites’ entrance into Canaan, sin poses a threat to us and must be dealt with—to secure our entrance into Heaven.
I am thankful God takes every precaution to keep me from spending eternity apart from Him. He does this by demonstrating His amazing love and grace…daily in my life, and at times warns me of danger, and on occasion, delivers just discipline for my sin.
Because I want my children and grandchildren to enter the Promised Land (Heaven), I want them to know the love of God that is always demonstrated through His mercy and grace; and I also want them to understand the Holiness of God, which is often upheld through His protective and corrective hand of justice. God is the lover of our souls!
When teaching our children and grandchildren of God’s love and the beautiful plan of salvation, these verses come to mind. Help your children memorize them and take time to help them understand their meaning. Pray that God will prepare their hearts to receive Jesus as their Savior if they haven’t already done so.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:6-7).
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23).
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Over the past several years, I've blogged about my greatest passion--intentionally passing my faith in Christ to the next generation, beginning with my family.
I've been married to Jeff forever! We love spending time with our three children, six grandchildren, two son-in-laws, and our dog, Pepper.
Jeff and I gratefully serve as Pastor and wife at St. Paul's Church of the Nazarene, Kansas City, MO; where people love God and each other.
Holding His Hand, my newest blog (2016) is dedicated to my mom, Audrey Lewis, who learned to trust in Jesus during her battle with cancer.