True Beauty

All beauty is only reflection.”  I read that today in Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts and it struck me as an incredibly profound but rarely verbalized truth.  Our culture worships beauty – never more so than now.  And whatever we were born lacking, we can purchase on a payment plan.  We can change shape, size, eye color and hair color.  We can dewrinkle, fluff up, pouf out, and pay to look like we kissed the back end of every bee in a hive.

This kind of beauty – the kind that comes from a bottle or a syringe or a surgery – is it true beauty?  What about the beauty of a not-so-perfect looking, exhausted mother, tenderly caring for her special needs child day after day?

What about the beauty of utterly impoverished folk in a Third World country, walking mile after mile with no shoes to gather with other villagers and worship in grateful adoration?

What about the beauty of those who suffer for righteousness, whose stories and tears we will never know this side of Heaven?

These, I propose, are the faces of true beauty.  And if “all beauty is only reflection”, as the moon is but a reflection of the glory of the sun, then of WHAT is it a reflection?  Or perhaps, of whom?

I believe the answer lies in a seemingly paradoxical ancient writing by the prophet Isaiah.  He writes prophetically of the coming Christ, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.” (Is. 53:2)

Isaiah had not yet seen this God Man who, pierced and beaten, staggered under the weight of the sins of the whole world.  Under the weight of MY sin.  He hadn’t seen the weary trudging of dusty miles, the nights of no roof overhead, the aching loneliness.  He wasn’t there when this Man of no physical beauty gave life and dignity back to the woman with the issue of blood.  He didn’t get to watch as, with love in His eyes, He reached out and touched the shunned and miserable leper and made him whole.  Isaiah wasn’t there when the muscled back was laid open by a cat-o’-nine tails, only to then have a crude, heavy wooden cross placed on it.  The bleeding brow, the agony of slow suffocation…here, my friends, is beauty.  He endured that for you.  He endured that for me.  Oh, how beautiful He is!  Had Isaiah been granted just a glimpse, surely he would have asked how we could see anything BUT beauty in this consummate love and self-sacrifice.

Here is the beauty from which all other true beauty radiates.  And no matter what our past or our physical appearance, “We who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Cor. 3:18).

So there you have it.  As you reflect the Beautiful One, you are beautiful.  True beauty – beauty of spirit that far outlasts fleeting physical perfection.

Beautiful friend, go do some reflecting today.  The world needs to see you shine.

Written by:  Christine Sakwitz
Christine is the author of The Beautiful Journey blog, women's Bible study writer and teacher, and homeschooling mom of two critter-loving children.  She has been happily married for 23 years and is passionate about equipping and encouraging women to live full, joyful, high-impact lives.

She would love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter (Live_Fully_Now), or via email at chris@thebeautifuljourney.com.

Searching for Significance

Wycliffe Bible Translators has released a new free, 7-day devotional, "Searching for Significance", and it is available to download here!

We’re all searching for something in life. Whether you want to call it significance, purpose, meaning or something else, there is an innate desire in each of us for our life to matter — to have significance and purpose.

We want to explore that desire with you from a biblical perspective and dive into God’s view of your worth. That’s why we created a seven-day devotional, “Searching for Significance.” Each day we’ll explore a different part of God’s perfect plan for your life, and how he ultimately wants you to find purpose and significance through bringing him glory.

Download the devotional here.

Written by: Annie Monson

Wycliffe Bible Translators is the largest scripture translation organization in the world, with a widespread mission network internationally and in the United States. They endeavor to have begun a translation of the Bible into every language by 2025 while fostering Christian community, providing educational material and fellowship resources.

A Daring Request

Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; Psalm 26:2

David had called out to God to vindicate him from his enemies. His reasoning was that he had trusted in God and never faltered in it. He then asked God to test him and examine his heart and mind.

When a person is working hard at trying to improve something, he may ask another person to examine it to determine if it better or not. Writers will often have an editor read through their book to search for any mistakes.

Many do not want anyone to look at it, for fear of being wrong or having too many mistakes in it. They do not want to be looked at as bad. Many fear the truth and know it in their hearts that what they are doing is not that good.

Believers tend to live their lives the same way. They live their lives one way at church and another way in the home or workplace. They fear if any other believer sees them as they really are, seeing the mistakes they make.

David made a very daring request for God to examine his heart and mind. God is the only one that can do that perfectly. God knows exactly every purpose of every action a person has done, and He knows every thought a person has had.

As a believer, you should be willing to dare to ask God to examine your heart and mind. Open yourself up honestly to God's inspection of your life, not just the outward actions, but the inside heart and mind. These are the things that no other person can see at all. In fact, often, it is hidden from the individual himself, the real hidden motives of his heart.

The daring part of asking God to do this, is knowing what God may find there. God knows that you have sinned against Him. There is nothing that you have done or thought that God is not fully aware of. Now it is opening yourself up to allowing God to show you what He finds.

God will examine you in love, not to destroy you or find fault with you, but to improve you. He wants you to be like Jesus. This can only be done if the inner heart and mind is examined and changed.

Are you willing to take the dare and ask God to examine your heart and mind?

I pray today that you will trust God's examination of your life; that you will allow God to change what is needed in your life; and that you will pass God's examination of your heart and mind as faithful to Him.

 

Written By: Tom Arn

Tom has been happily married for nearly 25 years, and has eight wonderful (all still at home) children. He loves Jesus and has been serving Him in many ways for many years. Active in teaching in the church and in a school, he desires to share some of what God has shown him over the years. His blog is primarily a devotional blog, but also includes book reviews and other things he has learned and wants to share. You may check his blog out at http://www.insightsfromtom.com .

Better Than Food

I have not departed from the command of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread. Job 23:12 (NIV)

 

As Job is going through a lot of suffering, he does not understand why it is happening. He is willing to state his case before God of his innocence of any wrong doing. In his heart, Job knows that he follows all of God's commands. He desires God's Word more than food.

Eating food is something most people like to do. Many will even eat much more than they need too, because they love eating the food so much.

Look at the many different restaurants that have all you can eat buffets. Those places are constantly filled with people stuffing themselves. There are restaurants that are now open twenty-four hours a day, because there is always someone ready to eat something around the clock.

What people desire to eat is different for each person. Some like junk food, such as chips and candy. Others love fast food. Others just like deserts. While others attempt to eat healthy meals, just a lot. The desire to eat is great.

While the need to eat food is important, the need to eat of God's Word is more important. Job knew the value of God's Word in his life. He desired to have His Word more than the food that is only here today and gone tomorrow.

Jesus told the disciples that His food is to do the will of the Father. The will of the Father (God) is doing what He says to do, following His Word.

Most believers do not even read the Bible at all, except on Sunday when in church. They do not study or memorize any verses from day-to-day. They do not have a hunger for God's Word. They do not treasure the greatest book in all of creation.

You need to ask God to give you a desire to know His Word and to apply it to your life. As you read the Bible more andmore, you will also learn to love it and desire it more and more. You will not want to go one day without feeding on His Word.

What do you treasure more?

Food?

Or God's Word?

I pray today that you will have a desire to know God's Word; that you will read the Bible daily; that you will apply God's Words to your life; and that you will be willing to forsake all else for knowing His Word for your life.

 

Written By: Tom Arn

Tom has been happily married for 24 years, and has been blessed with eight wonderful children. Over the years he has been a pastor, children's pastor, Sunday School teacher, and in many other areas of ministry in the church. He has a great love for God and wants to share some of the things he has learned. He has been writing a devotional blog at http://www.insightsfromtom.com for about three years. It is his heart's desire to see people draw closer to God as they learn more of His Word.

Be An Encourager

But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring relief. Job 16:5 (NIV)

 

Job's friends were continually pointing out how wrong he must be to be going through the harsh suffering he was dealing with. They had no words of encouragement for him. Job states that he could speak in the same way if the roles were reversed, but that he would not. He would speak words of encouragement and comfort striving to ease their suffering.

The world loves to kick a person when he is down. When a person has fallen a little in some area of his life, the world will point out more wrongs and keep him down. Others will just love to point out where he went wrong to bring him in to the suffering that is happening.

People of the world will treat others this way, because that is what the devil wants to do. He sets out to kill and destroy anyone he can. He wants to destroy any hope or belief that a person has. Destruction of progress in a person's life is important to the devil.

It is easy to do things as the world does. It is easy to point out faults and wrongs in a person, and cut them down while they are down. However, that is not what you as a believer should be doing.

Jesus said that He was sent to proclaim good news. That good news is that God loves the people and wants to save them. Jesus did not come to condemn the people or sit and just point out all of their faults. He built them up with love and compassion.

Every believer should be seeking to build up another person. Building another person is done by encouraging the person, rather than pointing out his faults.

As a believer, you are supposed to be doing things just like Jesus would do them. You are to be His disciple, one who is learning to live just like He lived.

What kind of words are you speaking today?

Are they words like the friends of Job, cutting down, condemning, and destroying?

Or are they words like Jesus, loving, caring, full of compassion and building up?

I pray today that you will know God's love for all people; that you will show compassion for others; that God will strengthen you to encourage others; and that you will show God's comfort to others.

 

Written By: Tom Arn

Tom is a man who has been happily married for over 24 years, and currently has eight wonderful children. He has been in the Army, full time ministry, volunteer ministry and numerous jobs. Tom has been writing a daily devotional blog, along with book reviews on http://www.insightsfromtom.com. God has blessed his life in many ways and he desires to share some of what he has learned with others.

An Open Life

Can anyone bring charges against me? If so, I will be silent and die. Job 13:19

 

The friends of Job were convinced that Job had done something sinful to bring on the troubles that he was going through. In their minds, the only reason God would inflict trouble on a person is because of sin. Job was convinced that he was innocent before God. He challenges anyone to bring a true charge against him. If that could happen, Job would be silent.

Seeing a fault in another person is very easy. The news media loves to look at faults that people have. Only occasionally does the news look at something good in a person.

At the same time, most people do not like to have any of their faults looked at or seen. They do not want to be told about something wrong in their life. Very few are willing to be corrected by another person.

The world likes to keep things in the dark, behind closed doors. Many will claim that those things are personal and of no one else's business. For most people, if those things were known, it would be embarrassing and often harmful to their career or status in the community.

The person who wants to grow will want to know what faults he has. He will desire to be corrected and set on the right path. The true believer in Jesus will strive to live a life that is without fault.

God sees into the hearts and minds of every person. He knows the truth of every action or thought a person has. There is nothing hidden from Him. Man cannot see into the heart as God can, he can only see on the outside.

You must live your life as an open book before men and God. The ultimate life to live is one that is living for God with no faults. God sees into your heart already and sees everything. Men should be able to also look at your life and see nothing but Jesus in you.

Live your life in a way that no one can accuse you of any wrong. Allow yourself to be an open book for anyone to examine. Let them see Jesus in you. If anything else is seen, allow it to be pointed out so that you can change and live for God.

 

I pray today that you will allow God to cleanse you of all sin; that you will be an open witness of Jesus; that the world will only see Jesus in you; and that you will seek to change any wrong in your life.

Written By: Tom Arn

Tom is a happily married husband of 24 years with eight wonderful children. He loves Jesus and talking about Jesus. He shares some of what God has taught him over the years in a daily devotional he writes at http://www.insightsfromtom.com.

Need help reading the Bible?

THE(2)

These are some of the things I’ve discovered that willhelp get you motivated and inspired to get the most out of your time in the Bible.

Make time. 

 

Life can be so busy and there is rarely any time when there is no noise. Finding time to spend in the Bible can be hard, but it’s necessary. I’m learning that if I don’t intentionally pick a time to get alone with God, it doesn’t happen and yet another day goes by with no time in the Bible. The longer it gets, the harder I find it is to get back into reading and studying my Bible. But the truth is, it’s important and we as Christians need to be spending regular time in the Bible as it is supposed to be our very source of life. Matthew 4 says that we don’tlive on bread alone, but on every word that comes out of the mouth of God. Well, all scripture is God breathed (2 Timothy 3:16),and came out of His mouth and so we need to be eating off it regularly.

There is just something about removing all the noise and it just being you, your Bible and the Holy Spirit. Even Jesus needed time out away from the hustle and bustle of life. Many times in scripture you see Him taking time out and going up on a mountain to be alone and pray. If Jesus needed time alone with God then so do we.  Be intentional and make time in the word.

 

Pray before you read.

This has helped me tremendously. Years ago, every time I would start reading the Bible, I would fall asleep within minutes if not seconds. This used to frustrate me to no end and I would often be left feeling guilty that I hadn’t read my Bible. It finally dawned on me to pray before I started reading. I prayed for eyes to see and ears to hear what God was saying to me, I prayed that God would make the scriptures come alive and feed my spirit while I read. Do you know what began to happen? The Bible started making sense and I stopped falling asleep. This is so simple and yet something I overlooked for years and the results have been so profound.

Read Aloud.

 

Now this might sound a little strange but it’s a big key. The Bible says faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). So if I want to grow in faith I need to be hearing the word of God more regularly, in my own ears. It didn’t say faith comes by reading, it said it comes by hearing, so I make a point to read out loud when I read my Bible. This way not only am I seeing the words but I’m hearing the word and feeding my faith. Jesus also said that, His words are spirit and they are life (John 6:63), so when I speak His words out of my mouth they bring life to my spirit. I try make it a habit to read the Bible out loud. I can testify from experience that it works to fuel and feed your faith, especially when you are feeling dry and don’t feel like reading.

Get a Bible you can write in.

 

The Bible is a sacred text but the paper it is printed on isn’t. So many people I meet don’t write in their Bible because it’s Holy. Yes I agree it’s Holy, but it is also food to your mind and spirit, and food is meant to be consumed. I have so many Bibles all over the house. All of them are filled with Highlights, ruler marks, writing, notes and thoughts, from the times I’ve fed on the word. For me, writing in my Bible helps me connect the dots and has made a huge difference in my ability to digest and consume the word. This way when God shows me something in Scripture I write it down, right there in the scripture so I never forget it. It is there as a constant reminder that God spoke to me, every time I open up to that scripture. When I read what I wrote, I’m reminded of what God said and I can meditate on it again and again. I have found that if I don’t write down the revelation God gives me where I can easily find it, I forget it and it never takes root in my life and subsequently never bears fruit in my life. Let me set you free, get a wide margin Bible and write in it.

 

Don’t be scared to go on a rabbit trail.

While studying themes, characters, or books of the Bible is very helpful, don’t be scared to go on a rabbit trail with the Holy Spirit. So often I start out studying a particular person or subject, when I suddenly see something in the scriptures that I have never seen before. Often what I see is completely unrelated to what I’m studying at the time and there is a temptation to refocus and go back to what I’ve actually set out to study. However I have discovered that throwing away the structure and following these things God reveals to me,  leads to some of the most exciting times in scripture. These rabbit trails have unlocked some amazing revelation to me and God has used them to profoundly speak to me through His word during these times. So have a structure but don’t be afraid to go where the Holy Spirit is leading.

These are some of the things that have helped me get into the Bible, particularly during the spiritual dry seasons of my life. I pray that they would help and encourage you too.

Lots of love

Byron

Written By: Byron van der Merwe

Byron van der Merwe and his wife Tammie live in Hampton,England, with their two children. Together they help lead the prophetic ministry at Kingsgate Church in Kingston upon Thames, with the eldership team.

 

Byron is also the author of "Testimonies of a Good God", his inspiring true storyof seeing God's goodness through some really tough challenges.

More information about Byron can be found at http://www.livinginvictory.co.uk/    

and his book can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Testimonies-Good-God-Goodness-Through-ebook/dp/B01CEE9C2Q?ie=UTF8&ref_=pe_2427780_160035660

http://www.livinginvictory.co.uk/testimonies-of-god/

To the Independent Man: You Are Not Christ

I’ve been human long enough to notice that if there’s one characteristic we have that usually creeps in unnoticed, that would be 

independence

 

Nothing’s wrong with the word, really. In a competitive society you’ve always been encouraged to strive, compete, excel, and work, else you’d fall behind the billions who’ve been trying to make through life longer than you’ve been. And that’s true. You don’t sit around waiting for the fish to flip from the water and land on your lap. That does not happen in real life (unless you’re going boating on a river teeming with ADHD fish waiting to be fired up).

Many too often we find ourselves forgetting the essence of the good news we have received about God’s kingdom (we are saved by grace). Even Paul was perplexed with the Galatians who seemed to have forgotten how they were saved, going back to the law to “add justification” through works – and it had only been less than a century since Jesus Christ’s ascension! It’s human nature, isn’t it?

No matter the situation, we are constantly driven by our proud nature to do something about something, make it work, etc. We take things into our own hands. Perhaps you get back at that guy who cut in line. Maybe you do the whole job yourself when your team doesn’t do anything. Maybe you jump on a job offer without waiting for consultation because it might be too late because it’s a crazy world out there. Or, maybe, when you get (or don’t get) caught in sin, you try to patch things up yourself.

But of course, you won’t admit it. You most likely won’t even notice it.

My head says I was saved by grace – by the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross – but after deep thought I realized I don’t really practice what I say I knew. When I do a good deed, I feel more saved than I’ve been before. I feel closer to heaven the more I engage in service than when I haven’t. When I fail in the good deeds department or fall into sin, I don’t feel forgiven until I’ve done a greater good – more time in service, extended Bible studies, etc. And when the guilt makes it harder to believe God would not get tired of my apologies, I drift into a stagnant phase – not doing anything about it at all. Have you ever felt the same way?

Self-dependent reader, do not mistake joy in bearing fruits with salvation.

Peter, who was so sure he loved Jesus there was no way he’d deny Him, denied Jesus three times just as predicted! After Christ’s death, he went back to fishing, disheartened and discouraged at his denial and of the death of his Lord. This is normal; you’d probably run into this point a few times in your life. And that is fine. Just because you’re a Christian does not mean you would no longer disappoint God. This is no excuse to cling on to sin, however. In fact, this truth should motor us towards Jesus – in humility. For what are we but believers in our earth suits?

After Christ’s resurrection, He went to the disciples who were fishing all night and when John told Peter, “It is the Lord!” Peter wrapped his outer garment around him and jumped (threw himself) into the water. (John 21:7)

Imagine having denied your Lord and Friend three times after you swore you wouldn’t and He shows up in front of you, smiling – resurrected. Every time I read this portion of the passage I start tearing up, thinking how Peter must’ve felt when his Lord comes back after he denies their relationship. How he must have been so excited to fall to Christ’s feet. How he must have felt a little miserable inside, wondering what could happen next.

Peter was a leader, having leader-tendencies – leading, initiating, working with his hands, etc. But there really are things you could not do on your own. Peter’s own grace (or efforts) could not vindicate himself. Neither do yours.

You are not Christ. You could follow the thousands of religious rituals known to mankind and still be lost. Just because you feel better after doing something good does not mean you are forgiven through it. Grace is not earned. Why act like it is? Again, it goes unnoticed most of the time. After all, are not good deeds, well, good?

“Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” Galatians 3:3

“Does God give you His Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?” Galatians 3:5

This strikes me hard and deep because my subconscious gets confused sometimes. Of course I knew good deeds are and should only be consequences of my faith and that’s what I tell people when I share the gospel. But the selfish in me still thinks there’s no such thing as free lunch; hence, it gets a little restless when not driven by effort.

“You mean, we can’t work for grace and mercy? Isn’t it too much to receive? What do we do?”

Isn’t that why we call it grace and mercy? Because no matter how much we try, our efforts could not afford the value of His Grace.But the good thing is this: the God we serve – the Great I AM – is good. He is full of grace and mercy – generous to those who seek His face.

Good deeds, fruits, are good, yes. But remember, independent reader, that they do not cause our righteousness. They are merely responses to it. The quantity of works does not add up to nor take away God’s love or your righteousness. One does not bear fruits apart from Christ.

It is a difficult battle with your sinful nature. It is tempting to think you had a share in this blessed life. It is tempting to think you are favored because you did good or because you spent more time serving or reading the Bible. But remember, independent reader, that there is nothing much better than depending on the Lord. His favors are at His disposal. His gift of salvation is not earned, and our efforts – big or small – could not discount its greatness.

Look to Him, my friend. Yes, look at Jesus. You are only a branch living off the living vine. You are not Christ.

 

Written By: Katherine CodasAine. Hand grasped by the Great I AM, she basks in love and mercy, and grace over grace.

On the trivial side, Aine has a recent weird attachment to green tea, and grainy films. Currently a freelance editor, she also writes regularly at Muted Rhapsodies.

What Spiritual Lesson Can You Learn From GPS?

What is GPS?

It is a Global Positioning system. The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based navigation system made up of a network of 24 satellites placed into orbit by the U.S. Department of Defense.

 

How does it work?

The GPS tell you where you are on Earth.

GPS answers four questions simultaneously:

  1. Where am I?
  2. Where am I going?
  3. What's the best way to get there?
  4. When will I get there?

GPS is the only system today that can show your exact position on the Earth anytime, in any weather, no matter where you are!

Now you will learn, how can you get spiritual lesson from GPS.

I am going to do comparison of GPS with DPS. Let me explain;

What is DPS?

It is a Divine Positioning System. Earth is not our final destination; we are aliens here. This system takes us to the divine track.

How does it work?

If you are truly a saved person, the power of the Holy Spirit is in you. When the Holy Spirit comes into your life, then He works like GPS. He tells us where we are standing in the eyes of God. What we need to do is to grow more towards our final destination. When someone goes in the wrong direction, GPS does rerouting. In the same manner, when you make a mistake or do sin, the Holy Spirit tells you that you are not on the right path. Then He helps you to get back on track to move towards your destiny.

You have to pay for the GPS, but the Holy Spirit is a free promised gift that is given to direct your life.

Think for a moment. If you don’t have GPS, and you don’t know the way, what will happen? Without the Holy Spirit, you are going somewhere; but you don’t know if you will reach your destiny or not.

If you don’t have the power of the Holy Spirit, ask God to give it to you today. You don’t have to beg for it. It is a gift of God. Walking in the Spirit is an absolute must for the believer. It is not up for debate. Don’t wait for another day, today is the day.

Written By: Nabeel Shahzad

 

Dr. Nabeel Shahzad is the Founder/Director of Winning Souls Ministries of Karachi, Pakistan and Myrtle Beach, S.C. He is a young man on fire for God, originally from Pakistan, now living in SC. He holds a Doctorate of Theology in Ministry and Doctorate of Divinity.

He is a Bible Teacher, Evangelist who seek to see the lives of people transformed by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the Author of the Book called “Your Divine Design”. Which is now a part of curriculum of a Bible college. Get my eBook free. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter.

(Un)Apologetic Parenting

Recently I went to judge at a speech and debate tournament, and much to my surprise I found out that a little book that I made for the junior speakers when I directed a tournament several years before was still being used.  This was really my first attempt at writing and it was a little booklet of apologetic questions and answers that I made for the children aged 6-11 who were competing in the NCFCA-National Christian Forensics and Communications Association.

The NCFCA is a speech and debate league for homeschool students. They offer a speech category for apologetics, which is a fancy word for defending your faith. When my eldest son was in junior high and high school he spent all 6 years seeking answers to the 150 questions of the faith that were the questions that made up that event of the competition. Participating in this activity was really helpful in forming his world view, and seeking things out on his own. It gave him an opportunity to answer questions like explain the meaning and significance of sanctification, justification, and propitiation. Which are some really big words, and even bigger concepts for a 12 year old.

When I wrote this booklet my youngest son was in junior speech, and would be competing in Apologetics the following year. I really wanted him to start working on some of those difficult theological concepts, and I remembered how daunting tackling 150 questions of the faith were to a lot of the kids in the leauge. If you have ever heard the expression, how do you eat an elephant? The answer is one bite at a time. Well, I don't know anyone who has ever eaten an elephant, but I thought it was a pretty good analogy for my youngest son, and the other kids his age, to begin exploring these questions of the faith. One bite or one concept at a time. And if they could start with 10 questions, then they could do 10 more, and another 10 and so on.

So I took 10 of the 150 questions, with at least one question from each of the five categories. So they could have exposure to each of the five categories.

  • EXISTENCE AND NATURE OF GOD
  • SCRIPTURES
  • THE NATURE, PURPOSE AND DESTINY OF MAN
  • SALVATION or HOW TO KNOW GOD
  • THE PERSON OF CHRIST

Armed with my ESV study bible in hand, I set out to explain concepts like the Omniscience and Omnipresence of God in simple basic terms, along with some key memory verses.

I believe it is important that my kids know what they believe, and why they believe it, because as old adage says, "If they don't stand for something, they will fall for anything." Also, as we learn from the warning in Collisions 2:8, "See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ."

Why is this important? Because according to the Barna group, "Parents and leaders have long been concerned about the faith development of the generation born between 1984 and 2002—and for good reason. First, Barna research shows nearly six in ten (59%) of these young people who grow up in Christian churches end up walking away from either their faith or from the institutional church at some point in their first decade of adult life." That means that more then half of the kids that currently go to church are leaving the faith!

I think our kids have a better chance of staying in church and following Christ, if they know what they believe and why they believe it.It is our job and responsibility as parents to teach our children in the way they should go, but it is up to them to own their faith and walk it out.

My belief on this subject has been recently challenged, as my eldest son has decided to leave the church we attend as a family in search of his own church home. At first, I was a little hurt by this, because I love having my family all together digging into God's word, and worshipping with them. But then I realized this is exactly what I taught him to do. He is firmly grounded in what he believes and why he believes it, so he will not get swept away by empty deceit or human tradition. As a man, my son does have to make his own way, and he is the one who is responsible for his faith.

There is no fool proof plan or formula that parents can follow that will assure that their kids stay in the church or that they will follow Christ for that matter. However, the bible does give us a promise to cling to, in Proverbs 22:6, that if we teach our kids in the way they should go, that when they our old, they will not depart. It is however, our responsibility to teach our children to love God, to share our faith with them, to lead them by example by spending time in the word, and praying with them.

 

Written By: Misty Phillip

Misty Phillip and her husband Peter live in the suburbs just north of Houston, Texas with their three boys, Jacob, Connor, and Ian, where they are active members of Champion Forest Baptist Church. Misty left the corporate world over 15 years ago to homeschool her children, and thus began an adventure of a lifetime. Misty loves studying her bible, cooking healthy meals for her family, and creating a warm inviting home for friends and family. Misty is excited to share her years of experience as a Christian wife, mother, daughter, homeschooler, and friend. You can find Misty on the web at http://www.MistyPhillip.com

Where Does Evil Come From?

As the teacher drove on, I began to wonder about all the evil in the world. “Father, I don’t understand something. Where does evil come from in the first place? How could God allow it? I thought He was completely sovereign.”

“He is. Let me explain it this way: God cannot do evil and He did not create evil; but He did ordain that evil exist.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”

“Look at it this way,” he said, “if God allowed evil to enter into this world, it could be only by His sovereign decision. Since He is always right and perfect, we have to conclude that His decision to allow evil to exist is a good decision. That’s not the same as saying ‘evil is good.’ We should never say that. However, we can say, ‘It is good that there is evil,’ solely based on the fact that God allowed it. I know this is a difficult concept to understand, but there would be no evil if God didn’t want there to be evil. The outcome of evil is always turned into His Glory; we just can’t see into the future how it’s done. But He can. And, we have His promise that one day those who know and love His Son will live on this earth without evil.”

I couldn’t respond. I could only think about it. As he drove on to Parchman, I looked out at the cotton fields and pondered what I would say to Sartain—the epitome of evil. Will I tell him that he’s evil, but God allowed it? Will I ask about JJ? Will I tell him that he’s going to hell and deserves it? Or should I plead for his soul?

 

Written By: Michael Hicks Thompson

Born in his mother's own bed out in the country, Michael grew up on the words of theology. Now he mixes that with mystery novels. Christian Fiction With Theology. His series, The Solo Ladies Bible Study, comes with a 6-week discussion guide. You can find him on the web at http://www.michaelthompsonauthor.com

Life in the Wilderness

“If you’ve not been there yet, you will be”, “Everyone has a wilderness”, “It’s part of growing in God” These are just a few descriptions from others about living through a “wilderness” in their relationship with God, or even in everyday life. Yes, I have journeyed through times that I would consider a wilderness. Some of these such times were traveled with grace and it was a time of learning and growth. While in other times my human nature took control with impatience and wanting to know the end result first.

Take a moment and examine this verse with me…

Deuteronomy 2:7 (NIV)

The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.

The term “wilderness” can be different for each of us. Your place of wilderness might be from an area of life that is not yet submitted to God, wilderness could be from an ongoing illness or a family member’s illness, or maybe a time when hearing God’s voice seems difficult even though we know He is still there and will never leave us or forsake us.

Wilderness does not necessarily mean we have rebelled against God as the Israelites in Deuteronomy. In the Old Testament we see David spent much time in the wilderness being prepared for a new role as king of Israel, although at the time it was unbeknownst to him. Jesus was led into the wilderness to overcome temptations. As both God and man, Jesus experienced temptations in the wilderness and defeated the enemy. In doing so Jesus became our High Priest interceding on our behalf because he experienced and overcame temptations that are common to man. Jesus understands the struggles of a wilderness journey.

Instead of focussing on the reason behind the wilderness, what can we take away from this passage about the journey through the wilderness itself?

  1. The work of their hands were blessed. Even in the wilderness the Israelites were prosperous.
  2. God watched over their every step. Father God knew exactly where they were, where they were going, and where they had been.
  3. In the wilderness the Children of Israel lacked nothing. God provided a place for them to dwell, food and drink not just for their survival but for their to be health, and leadership so they could live in unity.

Regardless of what brought us to the wilderness, we can trust that just as the Children of Israel were blessed, watched over and provided for during their wilderness journey so are we! When the end of this wilderness journey comes we will look back and see God was leading us and guiding us day and night.

Written By: Carlie Venkler

Friends call me Carlie, my husband calls me Sweetie and our children call me Mom. I enjoy sharing God's precious words with others through blogs and journaling. If you enjoyed this devotion feel free to read more at carlievenkler.wordpress.com