Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Travel with Saul on the Road to Knowing God’s Will

When Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus, Saul asked Him the two greatest questions anybody could ever ask: “Lord, Who are You?” and “What do You want me to do?”

Direction Is Promised
In Acts 9:6, the Lord said to Saul, “… Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” Jesus could not have given him a better promise: to tell him what to do.

And God will guide you too. He has a plan for your life. Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and He delights in his way.” In Psalm 32:8. God says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go: I will guide you with My eye.” Aren’t those wonderful promises? Direction is promised in the Word of God. We have a Father above us, controlling all things. We have the Savior beside us, directing our steps. And we have the Spirit within us, impressing our hearts. We can know His will.

Detours on the Road to Knowing the Will of God
There are four common detours that hinder us from follow the will of God that need to be recognized:

Detour #1
God will give you a roadmap for your life. God's will for you is not a roadmap — it is a relationship. If you stay in a relationship with Him, He will guide you each step of the way.

Detour #2
God is some sort of a kill-joy. There are a lot of people who don't want to know the will of God because they are afraid of what they might find out. God is not in Heaven saying, “Let's see how we can make his life miserable.” He wants the very best for your life. Don't be afraid of the will of God. It’s what you would want for yourself if you knew enough to want it.

Detour #3
God only speaks to a certain category of persons. Some believe God has a will for missionaries and ministers but not for the rest of us. But God has a particular will for you whether you are a missionary or a secretary, a pastor or a plumber. God has a will for every life.

Detour #4
God hides His will. God does not hide His will from us. God wants to reveal His will. In the truest sense of the word, you don't find the will of God, the will of God finds you when you're walking in the Spirit.

Road Signs to Guide Us
With these detours removed, what are some road signs that will help guide us along lives road to get on the road He wants us to travel on?

 Miracles - God may speak to you in a vision, a dream, or with an audible voice like He did Saul. But He does not normally guide this way. Since we have the New Testament, and the Bible is completed; these kinds of miracles are not greatly needed today.

 His Word - Much of the will of God for your life is found in the Bible. It is sheer arrogance for you to pray, “God show me Your will,” when He has already shown it in His Word.

 The Spirit of God - Saul received the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17), and the Holy Spirit will lead you also. You need to be sensitive enough to hear the Spirit of God and know the voice of God.

 The wisdom of God. Notice Saul preached in the synagogues that Christ is the Son of God (Acts 9:20). Where did he get this wisdom? God gave it to him supernaturally. Knowledge comes by looking around, but wisdom comes by looking up.

 His people - When God was speaking to Saul, He used Ananias to confirm His will (Acts 9:15). When God is speaking to you about something, He will often confirm it to somebody else.

 Circumstances - God opens and closes doors. And what you think is happenstance is God's plan and God's way to guide you.

The way to know the will of God for the rest of your life is to do the will of God right now — obey what you already know. If you're interested in knowing the will of God in your life, say what the apostle Paul said, “Lord, Who are You, and what do You want me to do?”

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Forgiving Our Fathers

We enter fatherhood with many experience and expectations. Some of those relate to our own fathers, who sometimes fell short of what we think a good father should be. We may carry a heavy burden of anger, resentment, hurt, low esteem and emotional pain caused by our fathers. We must be courageous and deal with these burdens so we can become better fathers.

Acknowledging negative emotions and what caused them can be an important step to starting a new chapter in our family histories. We need to deal with these feelings with the goal of forgiving our fathers (Matthew 6:14-15). Forgiveness will lead us on the path to healing.

Forgiving our fathers does not necessarily mean our fathers are guiltless. It does not mean that they have to be involved in our lives. However, if reconciliation is still possible, we should welcome it.

Forgiveness is as much for us as it is for our fathers. Forgiveness is saying that we release bitterness or hate from our hearts. Forgiveness can set us free to be the kind of father our children need.

It has been said that, “Fathering is not something perfect men do, but something that perfects men.” I would simply add that fathering is not something that perfect men do, but something that imperfect men do in reliance and dependence on the perfect Father.

Following God’s Model: Acceptance

We have already seen that God displays the characteristics that all fathers should imitate. He sets the standard for all fathers. Let’s look at some practical ways these characteristics could apply to fathers today.

The effect of a father approval or rejection is one of the most enduring experiences in our lives. Acceptance of our children is one of the most powerful ways to express our love to them.

We can show that we accept them by accepting our children as individuals. God has gifted each person in different ways. Remember that our children are His and He has gifted each of them.

We can also show acceptance by teaching respect by respecting our children and their spouses. Nothing pushes people away like a hurtful word spoken in anger. Children’s intellectual maturity does not allow them to distinguish sarcasm from plain talk. Sarcasm can be deeply damaging to children and adults alike. Lies are equally damaging. Truth must be told in age-appropriate ways, but no white lie is ever a good substitute for the truth told in love.

Praising our children when they do something special is excellent way to demonstrate to them that we except tem. Do not give empty praise, they will grow to expect it even when it’s not deserved. But praise is a great reward for effort!

Nothing can substitute for physical contact as a way to express love and acceptance. When we hug and kiss our children, it is a very concrete way for them to understand love and we also teach them what appropriate affection looks like.

One of the best ways to show our children respect, love and that they are valued by recognizing our mistakes and asking their forgiveness. It is okay to make mistakes, relationships are not severed when we make mistakes, they just need to be repaired. Forgiveness is something we learn to give and receive. It’s never too early to get started. When we do, God’s amazing grace and forgiveness will not be a strange thing to receive.

Cat’s in the Cradle by Harry Chapin

My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin' 'fore I knew it, and as he grew
He'd say "I'm gonna be like you dad
You know I'm gonna be like you"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home dad?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, "Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let's play
Can you teach me to throw", I said "Not today
I got a lot to do", he said, "That's ok"
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah
You know I'm gonna be like him"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

Well, he came home from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
"Son, I'm proud of you, can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head and said with a smile
"What I'd really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please?"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

I've long since retired, my son's moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind"
He said, "I'd love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job's a hassle and kids have the flu
But it's sure nice talking to you, Dad
It's been sure nice talking to you"

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then


"Walk a little plainer, Daddy,"
Said a little boy so frail.
"I'm following in your footsteps
And I don't want to fail.
Sometimes your steps are very plain;
Sometimes they are hard to see;
So walk a little plainer, Daddy,
For you are leading me.
I know that once you walked this way many years ago,
And what you did along the way
I'd really like to know:
For sometimes when I am tempted
I don't know what to do
So walk a little plainer, Daddy,
For I must follow you.
Someday when I'm grown up
You are like I want to be.
Then I will have a little boy
Who will want to follow me
And I would want to lead him right
And help him to be true.
So walk a little plainer, Daddy

The Perfect Father

Some one has said, “Being a great father is like shaving. No matter how good you shaved today, you have to do it again tomorrow.” Mark Twain is accredited for saying, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven year.”

The fact is that a father’s presence in the lives of his children can yield significant, measurable benefit, and his absence can create an equally measurable risk for harm. I have never met a dad who wanted to be a failure at the job. On the other side it is probably true that none of us is the dad we would like to be! The busyness of life gets in the way. Too often we have let others take on our responsibilities. We have let school nurture the mind, churches the spirit and television (movies, video games and the Internet) provide entertainment, and the fast food restaurants take care of the nutrition department.

The brokenness and separation caused by sin compounds the difficulty of the day. There are many circumstances that make it difficult for a father today to be present in the lives of his children (divorce, separation, unmarried parents, widowhood). But is a father’s presence limited to his physical presence? Don’t we have a perfect model to follow?

God, Himself is the perfect father. However, often when thinking about God as Father, we allow our own personal experiences with our earthly fathers to color how we see our Father in Heaven. But it should be the other way around: Our understanding of God as a Father gives us the standard for what an earthly father should be like.

Without question, God’s main characteristic as a Father is that God is love. But God’s love is more than an emotion. It is a powerful impulse to act on behalf of His children. God’s love is manifested in many ways. Let’s just think about some of the characteristics of God as Father:

God is accepting. God’s acceptance is clearly shown through His display of mercy for humanity (Joel 2:13, Micah 7:18, Titus 3:5).

God is also accessible to His children because He has reveals Himself through His Son the Lord Jesus (John 1:1, 14, 14:9, Hebrews 1:1-3). We have access to Him through prayer in Jesus name (Matthew 6:9-13, Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6, Ephesians 3:12, Hebrews 4:16).

He is actively present in the life of His Children because He helps them in difficult times (Deuteronomy 33:29, Psalm 28:7, Isaiah 41:10, Hebrews 13:6). He provides for His children’s needs (Psalm 31:19, Matthew 6:31-32, Luke 12:7, 1 Peter 5:7). He comforts they are hurting (Psalm 27:5, 103:13, Isaiah 43:2, 66:13). As a Father He guides His children when direction is needed (Psalm 25:9, 4814, Isaiah 42:16, john 16:13).

God the Father disciplines (or trains) His children not simply by punishing but by providing clear boundaries for them (Exodus 19:12-13, 1 Corinthians 10:23). He guides them to the right path (Psalm 1:1, 16:11, Proverbs 2:6-11). He corrects His children when they go in the wrong direction (Deuteronomy 8:5, Proverbs 3:12, Revelation 3:19). He sends warnings when disobedience and rebellion prevail (Deuteronomy 18:15-18, Amos 3:7). He provide opportunities for His children to repent and be restored (Ezekiel 18:31, Joel 2:12, Acts 3:19, 2 Corinthians 7:10). He does all the discipline or training with love and for the purpose of restoration (Psalm 94:12, Proverbs 3:12, Revelation 3:19).

God is a faithful Father in keeping His promises (1 Kings 8:56, 1 Corinthians 1:9, Romans 4:21, Hebrews 6:18). He is also faithful in keeping His commitments (Deuteronomy 7:9, Psalm 36:5, 89:1, 103:17).

He is good Father displaying His goodness when He instructs His children in His ways (Psalm 25:8, 119:68). In His goodness He is a refuge to His children in times of trouble (Psalm 34:8, Nahum 1:7). As a good father He wants the best for His children (Matthew 7:11, Luke 11:13). As a good Father He is loyal and true (Psalm 100:5, 118:1).

In the next few post we will look at each of these characteristics and apply them in a practical way to our lives as Fathers in the twenty-first Century.

What Kind of Shoes are you Wearing?

Detectives in Huntington Beach, California, recently made a break in a cold case by identifying a murdered woman's shoes. The crime occurred in 1968, and for decades the victim's identity has been "Jane Doe." Recently the case was reopened after her shoes were traced to a regional brand in upstate New York. Now police have discovered a report of a missing woman from that area, and it appears the case may be solved.

Imagine being identified by one's shoes. The Bible teaches that those who take the Gospel to friends and neighbors have "beautiful feet" in God's sight (Romans 10:15). When our faith is steady, we travel through life surefooted, saying, "He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places" (Psalm 18:33). We're to turn our feet to God's testimonies (Psalm 119:59) and away from evil (Proverbs 4:27). And we're to have our feet shod with the Gospel of Peace. In other words, we're grounded in a message that gives us peace. Our shoes will help identify us when we're shod for God.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Decision Making to the Glory of God

Did you know 90% of the choices you make as a Christian involve areas where Scripture says surprisingly little? What you wear, where you go, how you spend your free time—you won’t find many explicit instructions in the Bible. But you can find plenty of rules and strictures in the various spheres of evangelicalism, many of them unhelpful and even harmful (and not only in the fundamentalist camp).
Of course Scripture forbids all clear-cut sins such as lying, cheating, stealing, murdering, or committing adultery. The Bible also clearly calls us to pursue Christ and grow in our faith. No Christian seriously questions whether he should read the Bible, pray, or tell others about Christ. Scripture is unambiguous about those things.
There is, however, one class of questions that seems to fall somewhere in the middle. These are the issues dealing with Christian freedom—things that fall between what God prohibits and what He commands. What entertainment is acceptable? What kind of music is okay? What can a Christian do or not do on Sunday? What about what you wear, what you eat and drink, or how you spend your free time—does the Bible address those things?

Some would say, "No, the Bible doesn't address those things. Those are gray areas, so do what you want to do—you're free in Christ!" While it is true that the Bible doesn't specifically list every possible decision you'll face in life, it does address all choices with principles that govern Christian freedom. When you run your choices through the following grid of principles from God's Word, you'll find both clarity and true freedom to live your life to God's glory.

Will it benefit me spiritually?
All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify (1 Cor. 10:23).
A "profitable" thing is useful, helpful, or to your advantage to do; and the idea behind "edify" is to build up spiritually. So based on this verse, ask yourself, "Will doing this enhance my spiritual life? Will it cultivate godliness? Will it build me up spiritually?" If not, you should seriously question whether that behavior is the best choice.

Will it bring bondage?
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything (1 Cor. 6:12).

In the second part of this verse, Paul is saying, "I will not be brought under the power of anything." If what you are considering can be habit-forming, why pursue it? Don't allow yourself to be in bondage to anything or anyone. You are a bond-servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, and Him alone.

Will it defile God's temple?
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
Don't do anything that you know will harm your body or bring shame—it is the only instrument you have to glorify God. Romans 6:13 says, "Present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." How you choose to use your body should always reflect your concern to honor Jesus Christ.

Will it cause anyone to stumble?
Food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. But take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak (1 Cor. 8:8-9).
This is the principle of love. As Romans 13:10 says: "Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law." If you know that your choice—what you consider "in bounds" and approved—causes another Christian to stumble and sin, love that brother or sister enough to restrict your own freedom. That is not very popular in our self-absorbed society, but it is biblical. To continue to indulge in a legitimate freedom that causes problems for another Christian is a sin. For "by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore," Paul said, "if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, that I might not cause my brother to stumble" (1 Cor. 8:12-13).

Will it further the cause of evangelism?
Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved (1 Cor. 10:32-33).
Whether you are aware of it, what you allow or disallow in your behavior affects your witness for Christ, and the world is watching. It's an issue of testimony—what your life says about God. Your testimony either tells the truth about God, or it tells a lie. The choices you make in areas where Scripture speaks principally rather than specifically should reflect your concern not to bring offense to God's reputation but to bring Him praise instead.

Will it violate my conscience?
He who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin (Rom. 14:23).
First Corinthians 10:25-29 contains three references to abstaining from a certain practice "for conscience sake." Never train yourself to violate your conscience. If your conscience is troubled by what you consider, don't do it. If you aren't sure about it, don't do it. It is hard to overstate the value of a clean conscience, but it is worth keeping your conscience clear so that your relationship to God will not be hindered. If you'll keep yourself in prayer and the study of God's Word, you will inform your conscience so you can "walk as children of light...finding out what is acceptable to the Lord" (Eph. 5:8, 10).

Will it bring glory to God?
Therefore, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).
That verse is clearly both the summary and the goal of all the principles listed above. Isn't our heart's cry to glorify our Lord and Savior with our lives? Think about your decision—Will He be glorified, honored, and praised through it? May we say along with Jesus, "I glorified You on the earth" (John 17:4).
So the next time you face a decision where Scripture is less than specific or overt, run it through the principles above and enjoy your freedom in Christ.

What Does the Bible Say About Decision Making?

The Bible is especially designed to help us make the most important decision, the decision to repent, change and follow Jesus Christ for the rest of our lives (Acts 2:38; 1 John 2:6). God tells us to put Him first, to obey Him and thus choose eternal life and blessings (Matthew 6:33; Deuteronomy 30:19-20).

All other decisions in life should contribute toward that ultimate decision and goal. We must avoid decisions that will detract from putting God and His righteousness first in our life.

But not every decision is a choice of good versus evil. Many of our daily decisions have multiple acceptable options. Some of our biggest decisions also have a variety of possible choices, like what career to pursue, who to marry and where to live. Thankfully the Bible also gives us principles that can help us identify and choose the best options. Let's explore biblical wisdom to find some of those keys.

What is the starting point in finding wisdom?

Proverbs 1:7 "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction."

Proverbs 2:2-6 "So that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding…"

Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."

When we understand how great God is and see how small we are, we will grow in a proper reverence and fear of God. That leads us to ask for His guidance and to study His Bible to grow not just in knowledge but in understanding of the principles behind those facts. Meditating on and applying that biblical knowledge and understanding with God's Spirit leads to godly wisdom.

So we seek wisdom when we fear God, pray for His help and study His Bible to find principles that apply to the decisions we face.

How else does the Bible tell us to seek wisdom?

Proverbs 11:14 "Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety."

Trusted experts and wise individuals can be a good source of advice. Other people may see our problem from a different angle than we would, allowing them to provide possible solutions we might not see.

How should we approach defining and understanding the problem—the decision we face? Proverbs 22:3 "A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished."

Proverbs 18:13 "He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him."

John 7:24 "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."

A wise person carefully looks ahead to the end, trying to foresee the likely long-term consequences, before making a decision to plunge ahead.
For an important decision, we must invest the time to get the facts, to examine the situation more than superficially and to clearly define the problem. When we are able to accurately state the problem or opportunity, we will be able to see the shape of the ideal solution more clearly.
But determining how to get to that ideal solution can still be challenging. Brainstorm for possible options and include the advice of the counselors you are consulting.

So we end this phase of decision making with a clearly stated problem and a list of possible solutions to choose from.
How should we make our decision?

Deuteronomy 30:19 "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live..."

Luke 14:28-30 "For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.'"

If a possible solution requires disobeying a biblical principle, delete that option from your list. Then compare the remaining options with positive biblical principles, wise advice from others, the likelihood of success and the effects your decision will have on others. Carefully weigh the pros and cons and "count the cost."

If the decision is still not clear, you may need to repeat some of the fact-finding, brainstorming and wisdom-seeking steps. In the end, if there are two or more options that seem equally good, you may have to just decide and then act on your decision. Indecision and inaction can sometimes be worse than a less-than-perfect solution (as long as it does not violate biblical principles).

When we strive to seek God's wisdom and follow biblical principles, we can entrust our decisions and the worries that naturally accompany them to God (Proverbs 3:5-6; Matthew 6:33-34).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Who Is the Holy Spirit (Part Two)

1. What activities of a person does the Holy Spirit perform?
• John 14:26____________________________________________________
• John 15:26, Romans 8:16_________________________________________
• John 16:13, Romans 8:14_________________________________________
• John 16:7-8____________________________________________________
• Genesis 6:3, 2 Thessalonians 2:7 __________________________________
• Acts 8:29_____________________________________________________
• Acts13:2-4____________________________________________________
• Romans 8:26__________________________________________________

The Symbols of the Holy Spirit in Scripture
What symbols are used in the Bible to describe the person and work of the Holy Spirit? What do you think they mean?
1. Acts 2:3-4, Matthew 3:11-12__________________________________________

2. Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22, John 1:32___________________________

3. Acts 2:2___________________________________________________________

4. John 7:2, 14________________________________________________________

5. Luke 24:49________________________________________________________

6. Acts 10:38, Isaiah 61:1, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, 1 John 2:20 __________________________________________________________________

7. Ephesians 1:14, 2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5 _________________________________

1. What activities of a person does the Holy Spirit perform?
• John 14:26____________________________________________________
• John 15:26, Romans 8:16_________________________________________
• John 16:13, Romans 8:14_________________________________________
• John 16:7-8____________________________________________________
• Genesis 6:3, 2 Thessalonians 2:7 __________________________________
• Acts 8:29_____________________________________________________
• Acts13:2-4____________________________________________________
• Romans 8:26__________________________________________________

The Symbols of the Holy Spirit in Scripture
What symbols are used in the Bible to describe the person and work of the Holy Spirit? What do you think they mean?
1. Acts 2:3-4, Matthew 3:11-12__________________________________________

2. Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22, John 1:32___________________________

3. Acts 2:2___________________________________________________________

4. John 7:2, 14________________________________________________________

5. Luke 24:49________________________________________________________

6. Acts 10:38, Isaiah 61:1, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, 1 John 2:20 __________________________________________________________________

7. Ephesians 1:14, 2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5 _________________________________

Who Is the Holy Spirit? (Part One)

Is the Holy Spirit God?
1. In Acts 5:3-4, who did Ananias and Sapphira lie to?

2. What can we learn of the Holy Spirit’s involvement in:
• Creation (Genesis 1:2, Job 26:13, Genesis 2:7, Job 33:4)?
• Spiritual birth, (John 1:12-13 John 3:5)?

3. According to the following verses what kind of attributes does the Holy Spirit possesses? He is:
• Hebrews 9:14________________________________________________
• Psalm 139:7-10_______________________________________________
• 1 Corinthians 2:11_____________________________________________
• Romans 8:11_________________________________________________

4. Is He Equal with God the Father (Matthew 28:19, 2 Corinthians 13:14)?

Is the Holy Spirit a Person?
1. What personal pronouns are used when referring to the Holy Spirit (John 14:16, 17, 16:7-15)?

2. What do the following verses tell us about the intelligence of the Holy Spirit?

• 1 Corinthians 2:10-13¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬_________________________________________
• Romans 8:27________________________________________________
• Ephesians 1:17_______________________________________________
• Isaiah 11:2__________________________________________________

3. Looking at the verses below what other personal characteristic does the Holy Spirit have?
• 1 Corinthians 12:11_______________________________________________
• 2 Peter 1:20, 21__________________________________________________
• Acts 16:6-11____________________________________________________

4. What kind of emotion does the Holy Spirit display?
• Ephesians 4:30_______________________________________________
• Romans 5:5 _________________________________________________
• James 4:5___________________________________________________

5. What do we learn from Hebrews 10:29?

6. How can people respond to Him (Acts 7:51)?

Friday, May 6, 2011

M - O - T - H - E - R

"M" is for the million things she gave me,

"O" means only that she's growing old,

"T" is for the tears she shed to save me,

"H" is for her heart of purest gold;

"E" is for her eyes, with love-light shining,

"R" means right, and right she'll always be,

Put them all together, they spell


A word that means the world to me.

Howard Johnson (c. 1915)

Mother's Day Quotes

"Who ran to help be when I fell,
And would some pretty story tell,
Or kiss the place to make it well?
My Mother."

-Ann Taylor

"Youth fades; love droops, the leaves of friendship fall; A mother's secret hope outlives them all."

-Oliver Wendell Holmes

"Who is getting more pleasure from this rocking, the baby or me?

-Nancy Thayer

"Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to 'jump at de sun.' We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground."

-Zora Neale Hurston

"Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother."

-Lin Yutang

"I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life."

-Abraham Lincoln

"The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother."

-Author Unknown

"Making the decision to have a child-it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."

-Elizabeth Stone

"Is my mother my friend? I would have to say, first of all she is my Mother, with a capital 'M'; she's something sacred to me. I love her dearly...yes, she is also a good friend, someone I can talk openly with if I want to."

-Sophia Loren

"My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her."

-George Washington

"Nobody knows of the work it makes
To keep the home together.
Nobody knows of the steps it takes,
Nobody knows-but Mother."


Special Tribute to Moms

Before I was a Mom
I slept as late as I wanted and never worried about how late I got into bed.
I brushed my hair and my teeth everyday.

Before I was a Mom... See More
I cleaned my house each day.
I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby.
I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous.
I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a Mom
I had never been puked on.
Pooped on.
Spit on.
Chewed on.
Pottied on.
I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts.
I slept all night.

Before I was a Mom
I never held down a screaming child so that doctors could do tests. Or give shots.
I never looked into teary eyes and cried.
I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.
I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.

Before I was a Mom
I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put it down.
I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt.
I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much.
I never knew that I could love someone so much.

Before I was a Mom
I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body.
I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby.
I didn't know that bond between a mother and her child.
I didn't know that something so small could make me feel so important and happy.

Before I was a Mom
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay.
I had never known the warmth, the joy, the love, the heartache, the wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom.
I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much love or so much pain before I was a Mom.
I never knew I would love being a Mom.
— Author unknown.

How Can You Build A Family of Character ?

I. Evaluate Your Perspective Toward Your Family

1. Take Responsibility For Your Family (Gen.1, 2)

2. Decide To Aim For A Successful Home (Josh. 24:15)

3. Make The Connection Between Character and Success (Josh 1:3-9)

4. Make A Personal Commitment To Character Development (Phil. 1:21)

II. Formulate A Plan For Developing Character Together (Ps. 127-128)

1. Step Back And Take A Careful Look At Your Home Life.

2. Make A List Of Goal For Your Family

3. Sketch A Plan For The Pace, Order, And Method To Follow.

III. Begin To Practice The Basic Principles of Character Building

1. Modeling Good Character (Deut. 6:7)

2. Praising Good Character (1 Thess. 1:2-3,6-9, 2:7,11)

3. Teaching Good Character (Eph. 6:4, Col. 3:2, Deut. 6:4-12)

4. Recognizing Good Character (Rev 2-3)

5. Correcting For Good Character (Prov. 22:6,15, 13:24)

IV. Develop A Procedure With Practical Steps Of Action (Gen. 35:2-3)

1. Gather the Family Together For a Special Meeting

2. Explain the Importance of Character to the Success and What it means to be a Character Family.

3. Make a Character Family Decision

4. Share Your Plan

What a Character!

This is a phrase that we often use to describe someone, it’s not usaully meant as a compliment. I would like to be so bold ask to ask, ‘What kind of character are you?’ Or could I put it a different way, ‘What kind of character do you have?’ If some one was to describe your character what would they say? What kind of character should a Christian have?

In Presidents George W. Bush’s first address to the nation he mentioned the thought of character and the lack of good values. When we look at our society today we realize that there is a lack of character and values. For instance, think of what causes all the violence in the schools? One of the reasons is the lack of character building. There are very few good, positive role models for the young people today. We are raising a generation that are being taught that there are no absolutes, no God, and that traditional values are out of date. The results of this is alarming!

In a book called, “The Day America Told the Truth,” by James Patterson and Peter Kim, the serious character crisis facing us today is revealed. Listen to some of their findings: Only thirteen percent of those asked see that the Ten Commandments has any affect on us today. Ninety One percent admitted to lying regularly at work and at home. When asked, “to whom did you lie?” Eighty-six perecnt said to parents and seventyfive percent said to friends. Most of the workers poled admitted to goofing off about seven hours a week, almost a whole day and half admitted to calling in sick when they were not. When asked, What would you do for $10 million?” Twenty-five percent said that they would abandon their families. Twenty-three percent said they would become a prositute for a week. Seven perecent said they would comitt murder. That means that in a gathering of 100 people, there are seven who would consider ending your life if the price was right.
These are very disturbing stastics, but they demostrate the need of character and values in our world today. We can not legislate or dictate moral values on people, but as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we can have an influence on those the Lord puts in our path, our spouse, our children, co- workers and many others.

But it all begins with me. I have to know what God expects my Christian character to be and then I have to live it out constantly and consistantly.

The Right Motive

This sound simple and I’m sure we all agree, but let’s just look at it for a minute. If we are honest many times our motives are self centered instead of Christ-Centered. Often, we want to maintain our reputation or we do things because that’s what we’ve been taught, but the motivation isn’t really related to pleasing God.

Think of when Joseph was enticed by Potiphar’s wife, what motivated him from giving in to her? It wasn’t, “If I do this my master will have my head.” His motivation was His love and devotion to God. Listen to what he said to her in Gen. 39:8-9. “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no on greater in his house than I, nor has he kept anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” His motivation was Godward, not selfward.

God tested Abraham’s motivation in Genesis 22. Abraham in obedience was about to offer his beloved son Isaac as a sacrifice to God when he heard, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld yopur son, your only son, from me.” The Lord saw His Godward motivation and accepted it.
In the N.T. this is seen in Mtt. 22:37-40. The Lord wasn’t just teaching that these two commandments of love sum up all the others, but He was always teaching that all the other commandments depend on the motivation of love for their fulfillment. Notice how this thought of Godward motivation is peppered throughout the N.T.

* 1 Cor. 10:31 tells us that even our eating and drinking is to be done for the glory of God.

* Col. 3:22 Slaves are told to obey their Master out of reverence for the Lord.

* 1 Pet. 2:13 says that all of us our to submit to human authority.
All of our action should be done out of a sense of devotion to God.

II. The Source of Power for Godly Character. Our power to have a godly character is from the risen Christ. Look at some of Paul’s statements about this: 2 Cor. 3:5, Col. 1:29, Phil 4:13 All of these verses teach us that the source of power for godliness is Christ, so the means of experiencing that power is through our relationship with Him. This is the Lord’s teaching in Jn. 15:4-5. We have to set aside any dependence on our own wisdom and strength of character and draw all that we need from Christ. This dependence is expressed through prayer like in Ps.119:33-37.

III. Godly Character Involves Putting Off and Putting On.
Paul reminds us of this principle and then makes some very challenging applications in Eph.4:22-5:4. The Lord Jesus practiced this as well Heb.1:9 and we are to follow His example according to Rom. 12:9.

IV. Godly Character Produces a Balanced Growth. 2 Pet. 3:18 Tells us to grow in the Grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There should be a balance between growing in our appreciation and practice of grace and our knowledge of the Word and of the person of Christ. In Lk. 2:52 we are told that the Lord Jesus grew balanced. We also need to grow in all the graces that are considered the fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5.

V. This Growth is to be Progressive. Read Phil. 3:12, 1 Thess. 4:9-10 We should always be growing in godly character, it is a never ending process.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lessons from the Perfect Servant

The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens me morning by morning. He awakens My ear to hear as the learned. The Lord has opened My ear and I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away. Isaiah 50:4-5

These verses, and those that follow, speak of our blessed Savior the Lord Jesus Christ as that perfect Servant! But verse 6 goes on to describe some of the suffering and shame at the hands of His enemies, and verse 7 shows the dedication and determination He had as He faced the cross: “He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).

But they also give us insight into our Lord’s personal devotion to the Father. His Father awakened Him each morning opened His ear and taught Him as the dependent Man and Servant. What a wonderful way to start each day!

Christ opened the day by opening His ear to God’s voice. He was fed by the Word and led by the Word. What He spoke, He had first heard. “I speak to the world those things I have heard of Him,” (John 8:26). The effective witness is the one first knows how to hear!

Because the Lord Jesus gave His ear to the Father, it was not difficult for Him to give His back to the smiters or His face to the scorners. “The Lord will help me” (Isaiah 50:7)! This was His confidence, and He was not disappointed. He set His face like a flint. “I have finished the work which you gave Me to do” (John 17:4.

What this Perfect Servant teaches us is that the way to open every day is to open your ear to hear the voice of God!