Many use fear to persuade people to come to Christ. While there is a time and place for warning people about the consequences of rejecting the Lord, love IS the message of the gospel. God’s grace is amazing!
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17 NKJV
When Jesus laid down His life for us, it was perfect love in action.
I became a Christian as a teenager, but still lived my life in fear. Even though I had accepted Jesus as my savior I constantly worried about whether or not I was ‘really saved’. I still feared that I would spend eternity in Hell. This fear based faith haunted me for years and I lived on a spiritual roller coaster.
You see, you and I can never measure up to God’s standard of holiness. We can never BE good enough to earn our way into Heaven. The GOOD NEWS is God knows that. Jesus didn’t die because He wanted to condemn the lost to Hell. He died because He wanted to save them from it. Grace isn’t an excuse to keep living in sin, but Jesus died to provide continuous cleansing because He knows we can’t live a sinless life.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NKJV
I’ve never met a parent who said, “If that kid falls down again, I’m done! I’m never helping them up again.” Yet somehow we think God will throw in the towel if we fall. The truth is, God will pursue you until you take your last breath. He loves you with an everlasting, PERFECT love. When you sin, run to Him … not from Him. He has no desire to punish you. He wants to cleanse and restore you.
Today’s scripture photo is commonly known as “The Priestly Blessing”. The Lord Himself gave Moses instructions to have Aaron and his sons speak this blessing over the people of Israel, and He promised to bless them in return.
I’d like to encourage you to speak this blessing over your family each day. If you are single, stand in front of a mirror and speak it over your own life. This short passage invokes God’s blessing, protection, favor, grace and peace. That’s powerful!
According to Proverbs 18:21 life and death are in the power of the tongue (words). The Jewish people recognized this truth and took blessing and cursing very seriously. Sometimes we need to take inventory of our speaking habits. Are we speaking life into our situations, or death? Are we believing God’s Word over our circumstances? It’s easy to forget the power of our words. When we voice our fears or complaints are we actually cursing ourselves?
If you want to know how to overcome the negative situations in your life, find scriptures that address the issue from God’s perspective and speak His Word. Isaiah 55:11 promises that God watches over His Word to perform it. His Word will not return void. He will accomplish what He says. His Word is His bond. You can count on it.
Pay attention to what you speak. Speak blessings over yourself and others.
Remember the excitement you felt when you were a child and someone whispered, “hey, wanna know a secret?” It made you feel special to be included and trusted with whatever nugget they were going to reveal. Unfortunately, most of those little secrets turned out to be gossip. Right?
But GOD … the God who created the universe, the master of mysteries wants to share hidden things with you, great and mighty things! Nothing could possibly make you feel as cherished as a word from the one who not only created you, but gave His life for you.
His hidden treasures breathe life into dead situations. His secrets bring healing and restoration into broken lives and hearts. One word from the Almighty can change your life. I know this because I have experienced it. Once, when God showed me how He was going to take something that nearly broke me, and use it for a specific purpose, and again as I was interceding for someone I dearly love. Both times, His words gave me hope. One gave me purpose and one gave me peace.
God is not distant. He is a prayer away. Call out to Him. He will answer. Quiet your spirit enough to hear Him whisper the great and hidden truths He wants to share with you alone.
Pray: Father, I am calling out to you. I thank You that You are the solution to every situation I will ever experience. You long to share Your wisdom with Your children. Your words bring life and healing when there seems to be no way. You are a way-maker. You will not withhold anything good from those who seek You. Speak Lord. I long to hear Your voice. Help me to shut out all the noise around me, to lay aside the distractions so I can hear You clearly.
Today I want to speak to parents of young children. If you want your child to remain pure in adolescence don’t wait until they are a teen to teach them about purity.
I once heard a quote that said, “If you don’t teach your children to follow God the world will teach them not to.” Recently someone told me it is not uncommon for elementary aged children to be engaging in sexual activity. I was so shocked by this I went online to try to find statistical data to validate the claim. While I was not able to find statistics specific to elementary aged children I did find an article at http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/ which states:
- “Six percent of all U.S. high school students had sexual intercourse before age 13.”
- “Data are limited on sexual behaviors of middle school students. Based on an average of reports from 10 states and 6 large local school districts, 19.8 percent of middle schoolers have ever had sexual intercourse.”
- “In the United States, 46 percent of all high school age students, and 62 percent of high school seniors, have had sexual intercourse.”
As Christian parents, how do we protect our children from becoming a statistic?
- First, instill a love for God and His Word from infancy. While we cannot guarantee the path our children will choose we have a limited time of being the main influence in their lives. Use this time wisely. Find ways to make His Word come alive for them and help them build a solid foundation in Christ so that their faith is THEIR faith, not just your faith. Don’t rely on Sunday School or Children’s church to be their only spiritual training. Have a daily devotional time with your children.
- Second, be their example. The idea of “do as I say, not as I do” is hypocritical. Live what you teach. Let them see the model of a Godly womom or man through you.
- Third, If possible I recommend sending your child to a Christian school or home schooling them. I realize this isn’t financially feasible for everyone, but imagine how confusing it must be for a child when they are being taught conflicting values in school. Know what your child is being taught. I was surprised to learn that the topics of heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual lifestyles are consided “age appropriate” at the age of 5-8 years old. (According to KidsHealth.org) As a parent you have the right to know what your child is being taught in school so you can then discuss these topics with them from a Biblical perspective.
- Fourth, know their friends AND their parents. By “know” I don’t mean as a casual acquaintance. If you allow your child to spend the night with another child without knowing the value and character of that family you are risking their safety. It’s your obligation to protect them, even if it seems like you are being overprotective.
- Last but not least, PRAY for and with your children every day. God has a plan and a purpose for their lives. Cover them under the wings of the Almighty.
In recent years the word seeker has been given a negative connotation as the term “seeker friendly church” emerged.
Throughout the Bible we are encouraged to seek God wholeheartedly. This results in a desire to please Him through obedience. That desire isn’t driven by fear, but rather by relational love.
When couples are joined together in marriage they make a commitment to love, honor and cherish one another. Their faithfulness to each other is driven by love. That’s the kind of relationship God wants with His people. He even calls us “the bride of Christ”. In today’s verse the psalmist implores God, “Do not let me stray from your commands.” Why? Because he knew sin brings separation from God and his desire was intimacy with God.
Religion is another word that people see negatively. I believe this comes from a rebellious spirit. Somehow we think God’s law deprives us, when in truth it is designed to protect us. God wants you to live an abundant life and He knows the truth has the power to set you free.
I realize there are many religious figures who do try to control people through fear and manipulation, but you can’t hold God responsible for the actions of other people. When we seek God for ourselves and know His Word it is much easier to discern when someone is misusing their authority.
Seek Him with all your heart. In doing so you will find a love like no other, and what you gain from a relationship with God far surpasses anything this world has to offer. Be a seeker.
When we read this verse in context we find that God allowed Satan to afflict Paul to keep him humble. We never learn what the affliction (thorn) was, but we know Paul prayed three times for God to remove it. Instead, the Lord told him … “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Once Paul understood why God allowed the thorn he accepted it and actually embraced it because he knew his weakness would be cause for the strength of Christ to be revealed.
Jesus told His disciples they would do even greater works than He did. (John 14:12) I believe in miracles! I believe God still moves mountains! I am perplexed by the fact that I have never seen these “greater works”, much less done them myself. I know one thing for certain; God is faithful. He is not the problem. He is always the solution.
That being said, if you have some thorns in your life that just won’t go away, KNOW that God’s grace is sufficient for you. He will carry you in your time of weakness. Continue to pray for healing and deliverance, but also seek to understand why God has allowed the affliction to remain. Remember, He loves you deeply and He will never leave you or forsake you. Rest in the assurance that Father knows best and when we are weak, He is strong.
The Apostle Paul compares his life to a race in Acts. 20:24. He was so dedicated to his life mission that he considerd his life worthless without it. One of my earliest memories as a child is laying in my Grandmothers feather bed having a conversation with God. What made that conversation so unique was my family did not attend church at that time, and I had no religious influence in my life. YET, here I was trying to bargain with God. I remember telling Him, “if you wait until I am grown I will serve you.” I have no idea why I thought it would be easier as an adult. I didn’t really understand what He was asking me to do, but I knew it would require complete surrender. It wasn’t until High School that I made that surrender and entered the race. Even then, I allowed the world to pull me away from God and spent many years wandering in rebellion to God’s call on my life. Thank goodness He is faithful even when we are not! According to Romans 11:29, “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”
Every believer is called to serve God. You may not be called to full-time ministry, but you do have an assignment from God, and discovering your purpose is critical to living a mission driven life. If you are unsure about your life mission, my prayer for you today is that God would clearly reveal His will for your life and fill you with the passion to pursue it.