Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Importance of Rest - Summer edition

Maybe you relate to the vast majority of Americans who take too few days off of work, and feel guilty for taking vacation.  If you have not been taking a Sabbath Day off ( a day of rest each week ) the summer is a great time to catch up.

Decide to take a few days off of work so that you can honor the Lord, by resting from work an appropriate amount.  That ability to excuse yourself from needing any rest is risky.  Along with lack of proper regular rest, you can face burnout.  This will not honor God, will lead to health problems, and even make your work less productive when you are there.

A day of rest does not have to be expensive.  Nor does it have to be staying at home.  If you are stuck in a chair doing accounting or programming or evaluating numbers, your day of rest might be getting out and getting active.  For someone who thinks of rest as an expensive vacation, perhaps if that's you, you can try a stay cation that is less of a burden.

Taking rest is part of Creation's plan.  In Genesis 2 we see God model this, so that we know its value, after six days of Creation.  That predates the Law of Israel, and sets a pattern in general, not just for a time and place.

In the Law of Moses, you have it reaffirmed, in Exodus 20:10, having a day set aside to stop from your work, to rest, is critical to a nation's health.  Exodus 23:12 arrives at the same point.
From the Apostle Paul we know that one person in New Testament times, may regard one day as a Sabbath day, and another, still another.  Romans 14:5.  Examples might be what?  Here's a few:  If you say, were a Pastor, or Worship Director, then Sundays are the opposite of taking a day off.  Good (yes, qualifier) sermon work, praying with people, leading others, answering questions, and reasoning with others, and visits, is quite a bit of work.  You would need to use another day, not your Sunday, as your Sabbath day.  The same if you were say an ER nurse, tech, doctor, or policeman, who had to rotate shifts.  If you work a Sunday at the ER or on duty, then you need another day off.  Don't try to overdo it or excuse yourself from this valuable tool in your week from God.

That the Sabbath has value, but of course is not to be misused, is clear from Mark 2:27 when Jesus is speaking to it.

We also know that Jesus and the disciples at times had to get away.  They would go to a solitary place.  Mark 6, et al.  It is wisdom to not always be engaged, but to have some time to unplug as well.

And even in the busyness of your normal schedules, there is a time to take a break too, as we see hints of in places like John 4:6.

Also, as you do rest, God is blessing you even in that, Psalm 3:5.  That may mean sleeping in on a day off or taking it easy.

So what is your next step for taking dutiful rest in your life?  This summer consider how you might build proper rest also into a busy routine.

God bless.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Benefits to Being Adopted by God

When it comes to a powerful Christian belief for our well-being, one that stands near the top is Adoption.  People routinely struggle with thoughts like, "Does God accept me?" and "How would I know for sure?"  In ancient Rome, a person was adopted even as an adult into a family.  They were in case law, actual heirs.  This is hard to grasp for us, that it was common to have adults adopted then.  As part of adoption, a new parent would expect the adopted son or daughter to hold to their values/goals.

Paul uses by the Holy Spirit's leading the analogy of what they were familiar with, to contrast and compare with what God was already up to (indeed in Old Testament, God had already mentioned this doctrine many a time, but Paul 'illustrates' it in his culture for the church).

You and I now live for God's goals/values/purposes, if we are in God's family by faith.

One must place their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, believing He died for their sins on the Cross.

This doctrine "adoption" is found in many places in the New Testament and Old Testament.  In the New Testament, we hear that we are "heirs" along with Jesus of an inheritance, Romans 8.  And we have not a spirit of slavery to the world / it's lord / it's ways, but a "spirit of adoption" to God through faith in Jesus.  We are called family, aka "sons" in Romans 8.  And the result is we will be "glorified" that is we inherit in heaven.

Practically you need to remind yourself that God accepts you by faith, today.  You are secure.  God is looking out for you.  And this was done already, so you are already legally declared adopted.  There's no abandonment of you.  God is a good Father, not a fickle person with confused whims.  If adoption is "forensic" in nature, we rest in God's declaration, not our declaration.  In other words:  if you decide to trust Jesus as your Savior, you are in God's family by trust in what Jesus did working that out which is already accomplished.

And you now have a new way to view your reason to live for God.  A benefit is we are motivated to serve God out of love.  You are set free.  Out of love, you choose to live God's values that the Son of God Jesus revealed in His life.

Beyond this, you are made into a new family image, and we now choose to live it out in love for our new family and honor of our new family name.

Do you rest today in God's adoption of you?  Do you find joy in identifying with His plans?  Are you full of peace from God instead of worry knowing He will not forsake His own?  I hope you are.

And eventually we will be glorified, and in heaven with the Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Proverbs for Parenting Wisdom

Raising kids is tough work.  A Christian parent has to rest in God's grace for mistakes, but at the same time rise to the occasion to instruct, counsel and protect.

As a parent / grandparent you want to 'check up' on how you're doing as a family with God's will.

The Book of Proverbs gives a really good synopsis of some parenting principles.
They are generally true, not absolutely true.

Here are a few points with Scriptures that would really help in this:

1. Fear.

Are you as a dad or mom fearing God as you should?  Or do you fear a parent's approval, or a friend's approval or a cultural human pressure to put something else you believe before God?

"In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and his children have confidence." ~ Proverbs 14:26.

2. Lies.

As a parent, do you speak truth regularly?  Do you lie as a habit?  If you find yourself telling lies, be assured your kids will pick up on it and feel the same liberty to do so.

"A righteous person hates falsehood, but a wicked man acts disgustingly and shamefully." ~ Proverbs 13:5.

Not only is it a risk for you getting the truth later, if you let lies slip yourself, but you're creating a child who becomes an adult other people will not trust.  That adult may also become a person who is prescribed prescription meds for routine lying, when perhaps it is just a spiritual matter of discipline that is lacking in training up a child in the way he/she should go.

3. Pride.

Many parents brag about their stuff compared to other peers, like they have the nicer SUV or house.  Some brag about how 'holy' or 'righteous' they are, reliving the Pharisee weakness in the 21st century.  They always act like they've got it figured out when they really do not (past outward image).  Some parents even make arrogance or bragging about kids a big deal, and create chaos at sporting events for kids.  Maybe it's just an attitude of "I'm better than this" towards a kid.  Pride goes before a fall the Bible says, but also it says this from Solomon-

"The LORD will tear down the house of the proud...."  ~ Proverbs 15:25a.

That doesn't sound so good, better to seek humility like Moses, like Mary, like Job, like Paul.

"Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD, assuredly he will not go unpunished." ~ Proverbs 16:5.

This punishment is discipline for a true Christian, but simply judgment without promise of restoration for the person rejecting salvation in Christ.  Regardless, the consequences would effect kids too, financially, emotionally, and in potential relationship IQ.

4. Being self-pitying or depressive.

Many Americans are on anti-depressants.  Some of this is chemically caused, but it's not unfair to say a good chunk of it is a spiritual matter leading to chemical changes.  On this angle, you need to choose to make your emotions what God says by seeing your situations and relationships and standing in life the way God does, valued, justified, heard, guided by God past other people's failings and sins.  Adopting this view allows you to bless your kids too, and lead them by example.

"Bright eyes gladden the heart, good news puts fat on the bones." ~ Proverbs 15:30.

Realize that your choice about how to perceive where you stand in life effects kiddos.

5. Cursing mocking / scoffing at others, including your parents.

People mock and scoff at a lot of things.  God, neighbors, kids, spouse, politicians, and more.

The Lord rejects the attitude in a man or woman of mocking or scoffing at others, authorities, or people they dislike.  People who do this in their marriage, tear it down.  People do this before their kids or to their kids too.  It's like exasperating a kid to make fun of them, Ephesians 6.

"He who curses his mother or father, his lamp will go out in a time of darkness." ~ Proverbs 20:20.

When difficulty comes, being like that only makes things dangerous.

When scoffing is present, there is contention and strife, Proverbs 22:10.  With a child you can stop scoffing as an example, and discipline them to not do it.  If you refuse to, you should expect your adult child to have a hard life.  Do you want that for them?  I hope not, lay it aside.

6.  Greediness.

In our time, contentment with building wealth God's way is low.  People are unfaithful, lovers of self, and arrogant, all of which work against real wealth accumulation.  Greed plays in by feeding these and itself tearing down a person's godly ability, one cannot serve God and the god of money.

"The treacherous will be caught by their own greed" so says Solomon in Proverbs 11:6.

So turn from greed, trust God with your hard work.

Ponder all of these and pray about them, see what God shows you.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inaguration Day Prayers January 2017

If you are willing to pray for our country today given the Inauguration of our new US President & Vice President, here are some Scriptures to consider praying over:

1.  "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way." (1 Timothy 2:2, ESV)

Prayer:  'Our Father, we give you praise that you call on us to pray for leaders.  We ask for an upholding of your Law and your moral precepts in our nation's leadership.  We pray that you would even change hearts to help those leading us to know your Son Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.  We pray that their leadership may give your church in our land freedom to live out our faith without harassment, even as early American Protestants also sought.  We seek the same.  Let your church be free to be upstanding in its character as a witness of the saving power of Jesus.  Amen.'

2.  "For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. "  (Romans 13:3-4, NASB)

Prayer:  'Lord, we know that it gives you honor when what is morally just is carried out.  We pray Lord for a land that turns to your Word and Truth, and that what is right is rewarded and what is morally wrong would be opposed.  In a morally confused and wandering time, lead people to your Word and may they be saved from their self and sin.  Help us as believers be the salt to bless others and encourage them to do what is right, and most importantly know your Son Jesus as Savior.  Help our leaders to stay the course with what is your will.  Forgive our land.  Let those who are genuinely, sincerely penitent be free for a new start, and those who fake it, or who have an evil bent to be found out and opposed by leaders as your Word in Romans 13:4 states.  Amen.'