The Way He Should Go May Not Be Your Way!

The Way He Should Go May Not Be Your Way!

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from  it.” Proverbs 22.6

I can’t remember a time in my life when I did not go to church. My parents were faithful to attend and to make sure I was there at the appropriate times. My mother was killed in a car crash when I was 11 but my father continued to be my example in spiritual training. When my father passed away, I had the privilege of conducting his funeral. I began by saying, “There are several things my father did not teach me when I was growing up. He did not teach me to lie, to steal, to smoke, to drink or do drugs, or any other thing that would be detrimental to my spiritual life.”

The time has long since passed since that day and I have come to realize, as a father, a grandfather, and a great grand father, that my words are not nearly as important as my example. Children learn by what they see in those around them. Having said that, as parents we will spend the greatest amount of time with them before they start school. They need to see in us the difference that a walk with God makes.

In the verse above, notice what it does not say. It does not say, “Train up a child in the way his father or mother wants him to go.” Far too many times we want to live out a dream that we have through our children vicariously. We need to recognize and cultivate the gifts and inborn traits that our children have and know that is “the way he should go.” Your child may carry your last name, but he must not be made to carry out your dream. As parents we need to seek God’s face for our children and ask Him to show us the direction our child’s life ought to take. And if God should choose them for His Work, there is no higher calling in this world. Rejoice in it. Just my thoughts …

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What Are YOU Thinking?

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4.8

I am not sure we realize how much our THOUGHT life controls us – our attitude, our feelings, and our behavior. But the Apostle Paul knew the power of what one thinks. So when we read these words “whatsoever things … ” we must not gloss over them as though they were meant for someone else. He clearly had the Philippian believers (and us too) in mind.

If we link the two preceding verses with this one, we discover a valuable lesson: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

We must not try to separate these verses from each other. They belong together. Paul tells that if we will pray about every thing and worry about nothing, in exchange God will give us His peace that this world cannot understand. And in addition to that, He will “keep (our) hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

When we deliberately do the things God tells us to do in His Word, the result is a right thought life. And that right thought life is the result of learning HOW to “think on (the right) things.” Satan’s point of attack is ALWAYS the mind. He cannot make us DO anything we don’t want to do. His trick is to try to make what we think about doing so attractive that we believe we are the exception to the rule and we won’t get caught.

But the Scripture says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 5 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Just my thoughts …

In the Beginning Who Was There?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” John 1.1-5

John’s writings have been said to be the simplest in all the New Testament, however I find these verses simple and complex at the same time. When you read these verses, what image is created in your mind? I see the Creator God and the Savior of the world so intertwined that we must not attempt to separate them in our thinking.

The concept of this God who created all things and placed man on this planet, and this man would need a savior, convinces me of God’s absolute holiness and His absolute sense of justice. But I am also given a picture of His unconditional love. How so, you ask?

Look at these words: “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” Jesus’ very presence her on earth was to give mankind a glimpse of His Father’s heart. He came to give light – a sense of knowing and understanding who God is. But when this LIGHT began to shine into the darkness of a sinful world, this wicked, sinful world was unable to comprehend (grasp) what God was showing man. Never mind that Jesus was a good teacher. Never mind that He was a healer. Never mind that He raised Lazarus from the dead. The “darkness” was unwilling to grasp that God became the Son of man so that sons of men could become sons of God.

As we meditate on these words today, allow God’s Holy Spirit to energize you to share this LIGHT with others who are still in darkness. You will be blessed and so will they. Just my thoughts …

 

An Amazing Conclusion!

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Ecclesiastes 12.13-14

Solomon, the world’s wisest man, is summing up his writings in Ecclesiastes. So, this is no ordinary “Finally in closing … “ But rather it is this wise man saying to all who care to read it, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter … ” so what IS the conclusion of the whole matter? (1) Fear God and (2) keep his commandments. These two things SEEM simple enough.

Let’s take a closer look at the phrase “Fear God”. I have written about this word fear before, but just to state it once again, this word fear does not mean to fear God as some terrible despot in the sky who is just waiting to zap someone with a lightening bolt. It means to “stand in awe” of who He is. When you think of God, what kind of picture comes into your mind? For me, I am overwhelmed that a God like Him is willing to love me, protect me, supply my needs, and on and on it could go. I am humbled to know that THIS God want to take care of me, even though I don’t deserve it. That is the word picture for “fear”.

Ok, but what about those “commandments”? I thought we didn’t have to keep the Ten Commandments. True, but there are other down to earth, simple things that God asks of us that we often fail to do; things such as loving others in the family of God, giving the first fruits of my increase (income), reaching out and witnessing to others, being faithful to the services in the house of God. These are just a few of the things that are “the whole duty of man.

V. 14 speaks clearly for itself. We must simply realize that NOTHING is hidden from God, “whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Take a moment to think about these truths. Just my thoughts …

 

What Are You Hiding?

Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Psalm 119.11

Frequently I heard Christians say something like this: “I just can’t memorize scripture. It’s just too hard for me.” And some people think because they are getting older, it gets harder. Let me ask you a question. Do you know your cell phone number? Has it ever changed? Did you remember the old one as well as the new one? Memorizing is simply a matter if discipline. If I want to do something badly enough, I will find a way to make it happen.

The psalmist wrote, “Thy word have I hid in my heart … ” What does that mean? Obviously there is some special significance to “hiding” God’s Word in our hearts. This is speaking about the part of us that makes decisions and provides guidance for our lives. You may have said something like this before: “I love you with all of my HEART.” You weren’t talking about your blood pump. You were talking about that part of you that has passion and deep feeling.

Hiding, in the sense that it is used here, does not mean that we can never find what we have hidden. But rather putting something in a place that we can access when we need it. We don’t always have a Bible with us, even if we have it on our mobile device. So, if it is hidden in our hearts, when we need it, the Holy Spirit can access it and bring it to our memory.

Now this last phrase gives us the significant reason to do this: “that I might not sin against thee.” I don’t know of any Christ follower who intentionally sets out to sin against God. But there are times when temptation comes and it seems like a pretty good idea. But if I have hidden God’s Word in my heart, then I have the resource I need with me. The Holy Spirit can retrieve the scripture I need to stop me from yielding to the temptation. If you have NEVER tried to memorize God’s Word, I challenge you to begin now to prepare yourself for a battle with Satan. You WILL need it. Just my thoughts …

How Much Is “So”?

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 1 John 3.16

I am constantly amazed at the way people who are professing believers characterize God. Instead of viewing Him as a loving Heavenly Father, they characterize Him as some despot in some far off place who is waiting to zap one of His children if they step out of line. That may seem a little harsh to some, but over the years I have heard that concept suggested more than once.

So, what is John telling us here in this verse? He is telling us how we RECOGNIZE the love of God. “He laid down his life for us … ” If there were ever a question about HOW MUCH God loves us, that question was answered at Calvary. A kindred verse with this one is John 3.16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Some times we quote that verse from memory with little thought for what we have just said. What more could God the Father do to demonstrate His love for us? He only had ONE son and He sent him to DIE for my sin and your sin. The question that we as God’s children must never ask is this, “I wonder how much God loves me?” His love cannot be measured.

A little boy was playing while his father was reading the paper. He went over to where his dad was sitting and tugged on the paper and said, “Daddy, I love you a hundred dollar’s worth.” That was the largest amount of money he could imagine. He went back to playing. In a little bit, he went back over to his dad again, tugged on the paper again, and said, “Daddy I love you a hundred miles worth.” That was the greatest measure he could think of. After playing a few minutes more, he went back to his dad one more time, tugging on the paper. This time he said, “Daddy, I love you SO much.” That could not be measured. Then he was happy and went on playing.

God SO loved the world … you and me … and that love cannot be measured. Just my thoughts…

Let Us Get With It!

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.” Hebrews 10.23-24

This is such a life-changing passage and we need to consider all of this in context. In vs. 19-22 we read these words: “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 And having an high priest over the house of God; 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water …

Can you grasp the significance of these words? Once we realize all that we have in our salvation package, then we can grasp the significance of all that we are in Christ. And knowing that, each day becomes a new and fresh opportunity to “glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6.20)

These phrases carry great weight: (1) Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith (v. 22); (2) Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering (v. 23); (3) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works (v. 24); and (4) Not forsaking the assembling of our selves as the manner of some is. (v. 25)

I don’t think the Holy Spirit was stuttering here when He inspired the author of Hebrews to write these words for His people (and that includes us). I sense no impression of a negative life, but quite the opposite is expressed here. People are looking at what we DO to determine who we ARE and WHOSE we are. Take a moment sometime today to re-read these verses and ask God to help you do things mentioned here. Just my thoughts …

 

Let’s Choose Hope!

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29.11

Someone said to me rather recently, “Did it ever occur to you that nothing occurs to God?” That is just a catchy way to say that God is omniscient – He knows EVERYTHING. So, when I read this verse in Jeremiah, it simply reminds me again that God’s plan for me is already in place.

Another translation reads: “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” If I can remember that the Lord ALWAYS my best interests at heart, and if I can view each event in my life with this knowledge, then I will not get angry with God. Rather I will desire to see the events of my life through His eyes.

God HAS plans, and those plans are for my “wholeness.” God wants me to live a complete life that lacks nothing and finds its fulness in Him. When “evil” does come into our lives and we have done nothing to cause it, it must first pass through my Father’s hand in order to get to me. He does not MAKE evil things happen, but He must allow them or Satan can have no access to us (think of Job and his experiences).

God desires to “to give (us) a future and a hope.” Realizing how important hope is to us, God wants us to maintain hope daily. When I MAKE Him my hope, my whole perspective of life changes. I see life differently; I see events in my life differently. I see my life challenges differently. And all of this comes because the One who is the OBJECT of my hope. Just my thoughts …

The Total Picture!

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.” 1 Chronicles 29.11

This verse is such a dynamic description of God. Most of us would quickly give mental assent to each one of these adjectives that attempts to describe our great God. But when we see them all together in one verse, it is enough to stagger the mind. We must reflect deeply on what these verses tell us.

Look at the words in the first half of this verse: (1) greatness, (2) power, (3) glory, (4) victory, and (5) majesty. This God of ours is a God of greatness – what does that mean to you? It goes far beyond the second word power. Is He great in the sense of size, or does His greatness embrace the other four (4) attributes that are listed? I believe that is the case. They cannot be separated easily for they are all wrapped up in this word greatness. His power is great, His glory is great, the victory He achieves is great, and His majesty is great. So, let’s take a moment to revel in who God really is – this picture provided for us here.

The second phrase is equally all encompassing: “ … for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD.” EVERYTHING belongs to Him. Everything had its beginning with Him. “And thou art exalted as head above all.” Although Satan is powerful, he is not ALL-powerful. Although Satan knows a little about each one of us, he is not omniscient. Although Satan has an army of demons working for him, he is not omnipresent. You see, our great God is “exalted as head above all.” Just my thoughts …

It Is a Matter of Simple Faith!

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations; (7) that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (8) Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: (9) Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1.6-9

I am using a rather lengthy passage so we can see the context of vs. 8 and 9. Look at the words of v. 8: “Whom having not seen, ye love … ” As the context indicates, this is speaking about Christ. I often hear people say something like this: “I can’t believe in someone or something that I have never seen.” If we attended school at all, and studied any kind of history, we recognize the names George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. I am quite confident that no one alive today has actually SEEN those two men, but we all believe they existed, based on some historian’s account of our great nation.

Peter puts his finger on the key issue here; even though Peter had seen the risen Christ, those to whom he was writing (including us) had NOT seen the risen Christ. So he continues with “ … in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory … ” Pretty awesome encouragement – though you do not see Him, you still believe, and with that believing you (and us too) rejoice … and HOW do they rejoice? With joy unspeakable and full of glory. It is a joy that cannot be contained. Is your joy that compelling? Remember, we must choose to have joy. Psalm 16.11 tells us: “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in THY PRESENCE (emphasis mine) is FULNESS of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” If we want joy we must CHOOSE IT, because there is never a time when we are not in God’s presence.

I pray God will help each one of us right now, today, to exercise simple faith and live in such a way that those who are watching will know “though now (we) see him not, yet believing, (we) rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Just my thoughts …