Unity is Key to the Health of God’s People

Pray for unity

Ps 133 “Be Unified”

Unity is not a new idea. We read that even Jesus prayed for his disciples: “that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I am in you.” [Jn 17] Before him, the psalmist wrote: “how beautiful it is to be unified as brethren.” As the Father and Son are unified, we are to be as well. Our model is the Trinity, and we are to be the messengers of this unity to the world.

In Genesis, we read a sad story about disunity and a family that failed to model that principle. Abraham and Lot had lived side by side, but disunity came about over water and grasslands. Whereas Lot was feuding, fussing and fuming, Abraham sought unity: “Let there be no quarreling between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are close relatives.” [Gen 13:8] However, Lot chose to ignore this wise counsel and moved away from Abraham choosing his herdsmen and the well-watered plain of Jordan. He never returned even in his darkest hour. Lot’s decision is a lesson for us in what NOT to do. That is why we need Psalm 133:1,

“How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!” 

Is there disunity in someplace in a relationship between you and another? Beloved: make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. [Eph 4:3]

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Do you know your ABC’s?

The ABCs

Psalm 119: Many of us have scores of Bibles at our fingertips and bookstores galore. But, the early Israelites learned through oral recitation using the memory aid tool: “abecedaries” just like children today learn their A-B-C’s in a sing-song fashion. All 176 verses of this psalm remind us of the steadfast love of God and His Word and mention the Word of God in nearly every stanza.  

Martin Luther memorized this entire psalm, and as a monk, he followed the pattern to recite long passages of scripture. He found Psalm 119 was easy to memorize because of its sing-song pattern. What a great challenge for us! Just as the psalmist said, those who are blessed are blameless and obedient to the law of the Lord. They choose to observe God’s statutes and seek Him with their whole heart.

The psalmist knew the principle of 2Tim 3:16

“All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, reproof correction, and training in righteousness.” 

Take time to walk through each stanza for your edification so that you might know who God is and what He does through the hearts and minds of those who taste and see that the Lord is good. 

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Handing Off to the Next Generation

Psalm 71 and 78 Getting older is not for sissies, but until we take our last breath, God has work for us to do. Senior citizens have much to offer the younger generation about the lessons gleaned from trials to blessings. But how do we ensure that the next generation knows these lessons? We must purposefully choose to take time to sit with them and share our life’s story.   How many years are there between you and the next generation? Twenty or even fifty? One of my regrets is that my parents did not tell us about their lives even when asked.

Beloved, time is fleeting, and memories are being lost. We must begin to tell the next generation of our story—whether good or bad.

The psalmist is writing from his perspective of being “old and gray.” He has one request of the Lord. His prayer is that God allows him to remain until he tells the next generation about God’s strength and His power. What is your prayer? Do we choose to tell about His praiseworthy acts, strength, and the amazing things He has done? Do we choose to teach and speak of His splendor and tell about His marvelous deeds, power, and majesty?

What is your prayer this day? Don’t waste this opportunity! Prepare now to tell your story.

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“Which Voice Do You Listen To?”

2 Chron 10 Voices can be misleading, or they can lead to the truth. The Tempter’s voice, along with the world’s influence, can easily lead us astray. We must be “discerning regarding truth and error and listen to the voice of the Spirit. (author’s thoughts Heb 5 & 3)

Solomon’s son Rehoboam was a foolish king who listened not to the Spirit but to men. First, he listened to his father’s former advisors and then to his boyhood friends.  He chose the latter. He forsook wisdom for folly, righteousness for power. God hated that His beloved kingdom would suffer over a foolish decision. Yet the scriptures also say: God was instigating this turn of events so that Ahijah’s prophecy might be fulfilled. Although God prophesied this to happen it also reveals to us the heart of Rehoboam. Like many today, Rehoboam did not seek the counsel of God just like Adam and Eve.

Fast forward to our world today. The Tempter’s voice says separate.  The Tempter says divorce. God says. “I hate divorce.” [Mal 2]

The wisest and most blessed man/woman is the one who listens to the voice of the Spirit speaking the words of God and you cannot hear the voice of the Spirit unless you are Spirit-filled. When faced with a decision, do like Hezekiah; lay the decision before the Lord and He will guide you into all truth. [Ps 25:5; John 16:13]

Have you experienced the indwelling Spirit of God?

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Parenting101

Parenting101

Proverbs 23 This past month all over the world, parents are learning how to homeschool because of the lockdown due to the Coronavirus. Some find it a joy and others, well enough said. A suggestion: read a chapter from the book of Proverbs following the calendar. If you are reading a chapter of Proverbs each day, you will find many promises. Here is one found right smack in the middle of Proverbs 23! It is just for you parents who are now working with your little ones:

The father of a righteous person will rejoice greatly; whoever fathers a wise child will have joy in him. May your father and your mother have joy; may she who bore you rejoice.

Did you notice the repetition of the words “rejoice and joy?” Parents take heart. God sees your work, and He will reward you. 

Parents, if you are feeling overwhelmed with this task, go back and read Samson’s father’s prayer. He felt just like you. Jdg 13:8 Manoah prayed to the Lord, “Please, Lord, allow the man sent from God to visit us again, so he can teach us how we should raise the child who will be born.” Claim that prayer and go to God for your stamina, wisdom, and discernment. 

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Preparing for your departure

1 Chron 24-26 Today we received yet another note from one of the international staff that they had been tested and it was positive. Will this person weather the corona storm? But, add to that the many that are already near their finish line. One friend’s father is 104 and another is 101. Will they continue on or will they move to their eternal destiny. Only time will tell. Both are in excellent health. On the other hand, King David knew his time was drawing near and so he set about to plan for the future and the next king. Do we do the same? Do we plan ahead so our children and extended family are prepared? Do we have all or bank accounts set up with our children or someone else as a beneficiary? Have we made out our will so that our testimony is clear to those who are not saved?

Read carefully David’s planning structure. “David, Zadok (a descendant of Eleazar), and Ahimelech (a descendant of Ithamar) divided them into groups to carry out their assigned responsibilities,” David also prepared some for music and words to encourage and edify. Paul captured this idea as he wrote to the Ephesians: “speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord,” [Eph 5:19] Along with that, David outlined the duties of those who would care for the new temple.

These are timely examples to us.

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“Tuck this away for a hard day…God hears your cry”

Stormy times

2Kings “Tuck this away for a hard day”

Are you facing a storm in your life with a child that just refuses to obey? Although Hezekiah was a good king, he was not a faithful father. His son Manasseh was the worst of the worst! However, after being captured by the Babylonians, he repented, and God returned him to his homeland. His story is just what is needed when you face a hardened sinner. Tuck that away for such a time as that. Manasseh is the story of us all: sinners saved by His grace.

Manasseh’s son Amon followed in his footsteps but never repented.  Manasseh’s grandson Josiah was the model king, faithful, obedient, and godly. He obeyed the Law to the letter, cleansing and rebuilding the Temple. He cleansed the land and its people. God blessed him in many ways. Yet, as godly as he was, his son Jehoahaz returned to the ways of his grandfather and uncle.

There are some lessons here for parents who are discouraged because of their children’s choices. God was gracious to Josiah that he never saw the ultimate rebelliousness of his son. Sometimes that happens to us as well. Even when you raise them correctly, children make choices, some good and some bad. Tuck that lesson away when you are facing an uphill battle.

Parenting is the toughest job given to a person. We need to remember that and pray and disciple young parents.   Come alongside them; encourage them; listen to them.

Do you have a rebellious child? May I pray for you?

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The Product of an Indulgent Father

2 Samuel 16-18 Proverbs 22:6 wisely admonishes parents to “Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”  David was a man after God’s own heart yet he failed Parenting 101 class as well as the one man-one woman rule. He was a dysfunctional parent and husband to his many children of many wives. His first child, Absalom, was the first child with honors awaiting him to rule after his father passed off the scene but as we read this story we see that Absalom was foolish, prideful, arrogant, bitter and lacked respect for his father and the role he should inherit. And so now he seeks to usurp the king’s position all because David indulged him. Spoiled children do make a king or queen as we can ascertain from history, not just here.

And all of this began one night long ago when David allowed lust to rule rather than God.

We can learn a lot from this story if we are willing to look. Look at the fruit of indulgence. Look at the fruit of not being discerning. David fits all categories. If we read Psalm 55 along with today’s passage we see the heart of David. We wish we could undo life but we can’t. It is wiser to learn from our mistakes and seek the heart of God.

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“Look Alikes”

1Samuel 8

One year when I was teaching, I had six sets of identical twins and one set of identical triplets! The children who attended all wore uniforms, so it was a challenge to differentiate between them! The Prophet Samuel’s two sons who were so similar they could have been twins but they walked in the ways of the world, not Samuel’s. It was not just one of the sons, but both walked contrary to the ways of Samuel, and they did so publicly. Every godly parent, just like Samuel, wants their children to follow the path of godliness, but sometimes children do not. We say they “march to their own drummer.” The leaders of the nation came to Samuel to give them a replacement in a king. They wanted to look like twins. They wanted to look like the nations around them with a king to rule and fight for them.  

Samuel’s heart was broken to hear the leaders say: “we reject your sons.”  But God told Samuel: “Listen to the voice of the people regarding all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them;” and remind them of the consequences of their decision.

Proverbs tells us to raise up a child in the way he should go, and he will not depart from it. [Prov 22:6] But sometimes no matter how diligent we are, some children will seek the world, not God.

If this resonates with you, know that we are here to pray for you if you have children who march to their own drummer, not God’s.

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God Answers the Barren with Fruit

1Samuel 1-4 Yesterday we walked with Ruth from Moab to Bethlehem and saw the hand of God at work. Like Hannah in our story today, she had been barren until God touched her womb. God has placed these women in scripture that we might see His blessing after years of barrenness.

Hannah was not only childless, but she lived in a family where there were two wives. God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman, but her husband, Elkanah, like some others in scripture, failed to keep that rule.  Hannah’s rival was jealous and lacked compassion for Hannah.

Trials and storms either drive us closer to God or far away. Hannah chose to draw near as she cried out to El Roi, the God who sees and hears. Hannah knew her only resource was to pour out her heart to God. She was desperate, and in that desperation, she made an unusual vow to dedicate the child back to God.  Ecclesiastes reminds us that “When you make a vow to God, do not delay in paying it…and don’t tell the priest “it was a mistake.”

God hears our cries, and God answered with a little boy she would name Samuel meaning “asked of God,” who would become a leader in Israel. Even if you are facing adversity this day, stop and pour over this prayer of Hannah and pray her words back to God. Hannah learned the truth of Phil 4:7; bring all requests to God and His peace will guard your heart.

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