Recently an author wrote to young men/women about life after high school. It was interestingly similar to an instructional manual and could have come right out of Proverbs 7! To the gals: If a guy calls you at 2 AM to “hang out,” he is not boyfriend material! To guys and gals: go to church, not just because your parents instructed you to do it, but because it is there that God speaks, and you need to hear his voice. Now is the time to strengthen your relationship with God and follow his plan. To guys and gals: keep your morals and standards high. The author asked: Will it be challenging? Absolutely! Will you feel like the minority? Absolutely! Should you change to fit in? Absolutely not!
It is not a sin to be simple, but it is a sin to not grow from simpleton to maturity. “But solid food is for the mature, whose perceptions are trained by practice to discern both good and evil.” [Heb 5:24]
Be careful of becoming the fool: “Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways – do not wander into her pathways; for she has brought down many fatally wounded, and all those she has slain are many.” [Prov 7:25]The warning is clear. “when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full-grown, it gives birth to death. Do not be led astray” [James 1:15]
Are you the parent of a simpleton because of their age or because of their naiveté? Increase your parenting skills.
God is always alert to the prayers of His children. All through the scriptures we come across this promise: the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. [1Pe 3:12]
Imagine Psalm 121 as a conversation between three friends about a need. The first asks a question, the second responds with an answer, the third responds with affirmation and reason.
#1 friend asks: from where does my help come?” and then answers his own question: “My help comes from the Lord.” [vs 1 -2]
#2 friend responds with this encouragement; may He not allow your foot to slip. [vs 3]
#3 friend affirms those words. The Lord is your protector, he never sleeps. He is always on the job 24/7. You can trust Him to be ready to protect you in whatever situation you are in. [vs 4, 7, 8]
Do you have a need today? Do you have a friend that will pray you through your needs? Grab that friend and pray together. Pray with confidence: Lord, you are our helper; no matter what is on Your schedule for us, we will notfear what comes our way today or tomorrow or the next day because You are ever by our side! You are our Helper, our Sustainer, our Deliverer, our Jehovah Jireh
Child-rearing comes with ups and downs. The old saying: sticks and stones may break my bones, but words shall never hurt me is so false. Samuel’s heart takes a nosedive when the elders come to him and say they are not pleased with his sons. Their excuse is that they do not follow Samuel’s ways. In reality, like spoiled children, they wanted a king so they could be like every other nation because “they are all doing it.” Today we call it kindergarten politics.
In his quiet time, God spoke to Samuel’s heart.
We all have times when others speak ill of us, and our heart is breaking, especially when it speaks to our parenting skills. When that happens, return to these chapters in Samuel to hear God’s reassurance; they are not rejecting you but God because men are fickle.
When you experience something like this, you must remain strong and continue the path of godliness. There will always be people who will respond like this no matter what you do, how prayerful you are. They march to their own drumbeat. These are the hard lessons of life. Men choose men rather than God.
Numbers 32:23 Some men from Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh saw the land on the east side of the Jordan, and, like Lot earlier, they wanted to settle there because it was ideal for cattle. As Moses listened to their argument, he became angry because these choices would discourage the other tribes. Like Lot, they were willing to take the easy route rather than being obedient to the Lord. There will always be the “second best.” Their choice would come at a price, one of which was a reoccurrence of what happened at Kadesh Barnea if they disobeyed. They saw what was in front but not what was ahead. They failed to trust that God knows best. How often are we like that? We can’t see ahead, but we still think we know better than God.
Being older and wiser, Moses knew that their hearts were lukewarm, but also Moses too did not seek the Lord in this decision. Why he did not is uncertain, but we do know these men were like Lot, thinking of the moment before them rather than the future that God had planned.
Beware of being contented with the lesser when God has the best already set aside for you. As Moses warned them, if they did not obey, their sin would be found out. [Num 32:23]
Lev 26 God desires that His people to be light among the nations. He desires that we obey Him and receive blessings but just like an errant child who has been warned, God will bring about cursings to correct His children. “Be sure your sins will find you out.” [Num 32:23] This is as true today as it was then: “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” [Prov 22:15] Like the Israelites of old, today we too face fallow land and fallow hearts.
We foolishly say this was OT; not for us who live under grace and in the NT. A principle is a principle, and God is God. He is “does not go back on his word or change his mind, for he is not a human being who changes his mind.” [1Sam 15:29] God desires that we obey Him now and forever so that He may bless us. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [1Jn 1:9] Then He will return and heal our land and our people.
Genesis 48 to 50 The covenantal blessing precedes the deaths of Jacob and Joseph as well as their last words. Abraham blessed Isaac and Ishmael, and now Jacob follows that tradition by blessing his 12 sons. In forward sight, Jacob blessed Judah noting that the Lion of Judah/the Messiah would come from his line. Judah’s is the longest, followed by Joseph’s. Moses continued that tradition in Deut 33 for all the tribes of Israel, minus Simeon, because of his sin of murdering the Shechemites.
As Jacob was nearing death, he blessed Joseph’s sons by placing his hands on their heads and symbolically passed on the gifts of heritage and inheritance. Jacob blessed the younger over the eldest just as has been seen throughout the book of Genesis: Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Joseph over Reuben, and Ephraim over Manasseh. Later Moses would continue that. Jacob thus passed on the privileges and blessing of land and peoples to Joseph’s sons just as he had received.
Jacob’s and Joseph’s last words are like the finishing threads of a tapestry. The underside threads may be scattered, but the top reveals God’s hand upon their life. Truly “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them,” [Eph 2:10].
What will your tapestry reveal? What are you passing on to your children and your children’s children?
Gen 35 to 37 It all began with Abraham, who fathered Ishmael and begged God to make him his legacy, but God said no. Isaac fathered Jacob and Esau, heard the prophecy that the younger would serve the elder but because he favored Esau, the eldest, he conveniently chose to forget God’s words. Jacob, favored by Rebekah, ignored his inner ear and deceived Isaac. Jacob, like his grandfather and father, played favorites. “Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they will not become disheartened.” [Col 3:21] Jacob’s behavior caused three heart behaviors to erupt amongst his sons: jealousy, envy, and hatred for Joseph.
The Proverbs author lists 7 character qualities God hates:
“haughty eyes, lying tongues, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift to run to evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who spreads discord among family members.”[Prov 6]
If we walk down that list, we see all 7 of these qualities in Jacob’s sons. Later Joseph would note: “you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose so that he could preserve the lives of many people.” Amazingly, God can and will use our wickedness to accomplish his purposes because He can see the end from the beginning.
Fathers have a unique responsibility to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Today take time to pray for the fathers ( and the mothers) of our children.
Genesis 25 & 26 What is the value of prayer? Why should I pray? What should I pray for? Over and over, the scriptures teach the value of prayer. As we follow the men and women in the pages of this sacred book, we see those who followed the Lord believed in prayer. Prayer is the answer to that which is upon our hearts. “O Lord, hear my prayer!” [Ps 86:6] “Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God.” [Phil 4:6]
After many years, Isaac and Rebekah were still childless, yet Isaac did not seek other women to fill his quiver as others had done. Instead, Isaac “prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife because she was childless.” [Gen 25:21] God remembered Rebekah and opened her womb, a direct response that God was pleased and answered his prayer. Isaac’s example led Rebekah also to seek the face of the Lord when she was wondering what was going on in her womb once she conceived.
In the NT, we find Zechariah offering prayers at the altar of incense at his time of chosen duty. An angel appears and tells him that his prayers for a son have been heard and answered. Truly, “The effective, fervent prayer of the righteous has great effectiveness.”[James 5:16]
Prayer is the divine path to receiving answers from the Lord. What prayer need is on your heart today?
The author of Hebrews, who may be unknown to us, is not unknown to the Father. He extols the virtues of our Savior to those who were facing persecution. He reminded them that Jesus is better than the angels, better than Moses, better than the Priesthood, better than Joshua, better than the Law so stand firm! Therefore, take heed lest you lose heart and fall irreparably. Stand firm is our admonition; stand firm in the midst of persecution; stand firm in the midst of accolades. Remind yourself of the children of Israel who sold their faith because of fear and wandered around the desert wilderness for 40 years.
We must follow the admonition of the author to review the blessings of God that He has bestowed upon us and cling to them and the message of hope. God’s lovingkindness was poured upon them and yet they refused to obey. May we not be so but rather be steadfast, immovable always abounding in the work of the Lord.
2Cor 1 Teddy Bears are given to foster children and those facing surgery as a way of comforting them when the future is an unknown. God has given us others to comfort us as we face times of difficulty. Paul noted that God is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. Do you trust that He can comfort you in all of your troubles? Do you see your troubles as God’s open door for you to minister to others? Paul wanted the Corinthians and us to know that God “comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” [2Cor 1:5]
Are you confident and able to trust that God is involved in your circumstances? Paul’s testimony was that he was steadfast and immovable in whatever circumstance he found himself in because his hope was set on God alone.
Lastly, Paul reminded the Corinthians to pray without ceasing so that many people may give thanks to God. John Bunyan wrote: “In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”
What adversity are you facing today, and how may we pray for you in this time?