Thursday, March 15, 2012

Growing Family Relationships

Tips for Growing Family Relationships
Tip #1: Understand each other

How many of you own a VCR? How many of you know how to program it? There is a big difference between owning something and understanding how it works. People who have a nodding acquaintance with a second language know the gap between hearing words and understanding the meaning of those words.

1 Peter 3:7 states You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honour as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (NASB)

Husbands we are directly instructed to understand our wives. Now I know some husbands who would say that it would be easier to understand quantum physics than to understand their wives. And guys, I know some wives who would say the same thing about us!

Now while the text is directly addressed to husbands it is not bad biblical interpretation to suggest that the principle of understanding one another can be applied to other relationships as well.

What does it mean to understand another person? It means to “make what is important to the other person as important to you as the other person is to you.” (2)

How do we develop an understanding spirit? By making the time to really get to know each other. And by making it a point to really listen to each other.
James 1:19 states that we should be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (NLT) Parents I don’t know of any child that would be repulsed by a parent who was quick to really listen to them.

Tip #2: Keep commitments

Parents we need to do everything we can to keep promises we make to our children. Spouses we need to do everything we can to keep our promises to our one another. Children you need to do everything you can to keep your promises to your parents.

Why is keeping our commitments and honouring our promises so important? Because we all tend to construct our hopes around promises.

When a man promises to love a woman until death they do part, that gives the woman security to become all she was meant to be in the marriage relationship.

Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 says 4 So when you make a promise to God, don’t delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools. Keep all the promises you make to him. 5 It is better to say nothing than to promise something that you don’t follow through on. (NLT)

We can infer from this text that same holds true in our commitments to others. In other words, we are to be loyal. Proverbs 3:3-4 says 3 Never let loyalty and kindness get away from you! Wear them like a necklace; write them down within your heart. 4 Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will gain a good reputation. (NLT)
When we keep our commitments it builds trust. And there is no such thing as a healthy relationship apart from trust. Trust is the firm foundation upon which a family is built.

But keeping commitments can be costly. I remember one time this past year I was invited to a dinner meeting where the pastor of the largest Protestant church in America was going to be speaking. I really wanted to go, but when I looked at my calendar I saw that I had made a previous commitment to some students in our church. That was tough for me, but I felt my previous commitment was more important. I know some parents in this church who travel as a part of their profession. They will drive all night long in order to make it to a child’s school program they promised they would be at. You can be assured when the child sees them not only are they happy, but that parent has instilled within the child the importance of keeping commitments.

Got any commitments needing to be kept? Husbands and wives, when was the last time we visited the vows .we made on our wedding day? When we married we made a commitment that next to God our spouse would be the most important relationship in our lives. Does our time and attention reflect that?

Tip #3: Give some respect

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. it something all of us in any relationship want. In fact it is next to impossible to have a deep relationship with another person when there is no respect.

Could it be the reason some of us are not experiencing the kind of relationship God wants to have with us because we do not have respect for him? And could it be that the reason some family relationships are not secure is because God is not respected? Proverbs 14:26 states Those who fear (or respect) the Lord are secure; he will be a place of refuge for their children. (NLT)

Another word for respect is “honour.” Romans 12:10 states that as Christ followers we are to take delight in honouring each other. Did you catch that? We are to “delight” in honouring another person. It is not supposed to be a hassle or something to dread. When we delight in honouring another person it boosts their feeling of value.

How can we show that we are honouring the people in our family relationships?

• By respecting each other’s property
• By respecting each other’s privacy
• By respecting each other’s time

The people who have the most difficulty respecting others are those people with an inflated idea of their own importance; the sinfully proud. Philippians 2:3 tells us to be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing.
Tip #4: Offer encouragement

Perhaps the easiest way to grow a healthy relationship is to offer encouragement. A well known actress once said, “We live by encouragement, we die without it, slowly, sadly and angrily.” (3)

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.(NIV)

How can we encourage one another in our homes?
• By smiling

Never underestimate the power of a smile. A smile not only increases your face value, but it warms the heart of those you give it to.
• By our words

Someone noted, "Man doesn’t live by bread alone. He also needs buttering up." (4) Words are power in that they can do enormous harm and amazing good.
• By pointing out the positive.

Start today to look for gold in your child, in your spouse and in your parents. Jesus certainly must have seen the gold in the disciples he chose.
• By giving gifts

Are their any Barnabas’ in your house? In Acts 4:36-37 we read there was a man named Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. 37 He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles for those in need. (NLT) Joseph, because of his behavior, was given the nickname “Son of Encouragement.” One of the ways he practiced encouragement by giving gifts.
I saved the best tip for last.

Tip #5: Ask for and offer forgiveness

Anyone who lives in a family of any kind knows that people will disappoint and hurt you. I asked my mom and dad, who’ve been married for 54 years, what were the secrets to their long and happy marriage. One gem of wisdom was “you overlook at lot of little things and you forgive each other.”

Colossians 3:13 states Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Forgiveness is not natural. It seems to be more natural to carry a grudge; to record all wrongs in read on a legal pad in our minds; to think of ways of getting back at those who hurt us.

Yet the Bible is clear in its instruction. As we have experienced forgiveness from God we are to forgive others.
Families today are filled with people who desperately long for reconciliation.(6)

Some of you need to experience that kind of forgiveness from God. You can. God has sent out a letter of forgiveness – his name is Jesus. If you will receive him forgiveness will be yours.

Confess Daily


Confess Daily and Continously
I confess today is a good day (Psa 118:24).
I proclaim all that is good, all that is blessed of God,
all that is in the perfect will of God,
all that God has designed for me shall be mine today in Jesus' name (2 Cor 1:20)
I am blessed coming in; I am blessed going out (De 28:6).
I am blessed with all spiritual blessings in
heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph 1:3).
Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world (1Jn 4:4).
There shall no evil befall me,
neither shall any plague come nigh my dwelling,
for He has given His angels charge over me.
They keep me in all my ways (Psa 91:10-11).
No weapon formed against me will prosper (Isa 54:17),
but whatever I do will prosper.
I am like a tree planted by the rivers of water (Psa 1:1-3).
I lack for no good thing.
My God supplies all my needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Php 4:19)
I have all sufficiency in all things and abound to all good works,
for my God has made all grace abound toward me (2 Cor 9:8).
Today I am filled with the love of God.
I am filled with the joy of the Lord. I am filled with the peace of God (Ga 5:22).
I confess the many benefits of Calvary today.
All my sins are forgiven. All my diseases are healed.
I am preserved and strong in God.
I am crowned with his loving kindness and tender mercy,
and my strength is renewed as the eagle (Psa 103:1-5).
I am redeemed from the curse of the law and from every sickness and disease and everything else under the curse (Ga 3:13-14; De 28:15-68).
I have been washed in the blood of Jesus (Rev 1:5).
Jesus Himself took my infirmities and bore my sicknesses (Isa 53:4-5; Mt 8:17),
and by His stripes I am healed (1 Pet 2:24).
The Lord is my helper and I will not fear what man can do to me (He 13:5-6).
I rejoice today that all my family are coming into the fold of the Lord.
This is my confession, and I thank you Father in Jesus' name that I have what I say
(Mk 11:22-23). Jesus is the high priest of my confession.
He makes it happen today (He 10:19-23).

To me Christmas is .....

To me, Christmas is...

-remembering the great love that God had for
each and every one of us. He loved us so
much, that He spared not His only Son that
we might be saved.
-remembering the uniqueness of
His life
His teachings
His miracles
His prophesies
His death
His resurrection
-remembering all those humble but great people
surrounding the Christmas story
people like Joseph & Mary, Zacharias & Eliz-
abeth, Anna, Simeon, the sheperds, the wise
men, etc.

II. Secondly, to me, Christmas is...

People make a special effort to be a little
kinder, a little more considerate of others,
and a little more generous during the Christ-
mas season. They get involved in such things
as Christmas carolling, toys for the needy,
meals for the misfortunate, etc.
It is a time for reaching out to others with
love and concern.

God so loved the world-let us never forget
that!!! In all of our preaching, teaching,
evangelizing, etc. let us always remember
that the motivation for all this is the love
of God for lost sinners. He really cares
about us. So should we care as He cares.
So should we love, as He loves.


For God so loved the world, that He gave...

Love cannot look with indifference on the
hungry, and the sick, and the lonely, lost
souls of this world. Love must give.

God gave all He could give. He gave His
only begotten Son. This gift was freely
given, lovingly given, graciously given to
all of us, who were undeserving sinners.

Christ shared our human nature that we might
receive His divine nature. Day by day, those
who receive Him are being transformed into
His image, until we all come into the full
stature of the perfected children of God,
washed in the blood of the Lamb.


God was willing to forgive us. He was willing
to show mercy to a sinful, lost, and dying
world. Do we possess His forgiving spirit?
Or, is our spirit a judgmental one, that
looks down upon others?
Is there someone we need to forgive today?


God rescued us by His love and mercy. He
saved us from perishing.

Without Christ we are without life, and
headed for an eternity without God-forever
seperated from the God who made us and longs
to save us.

He wants us to inherit eternal life. We
are all descendents of a dying race. But
for the grace of God, we would all likewise


The Christ of Christmas changes us. He makes
us new creatures. All things become new for
us. We have new goals, new ideas, new direc-
tion, new hope.

Christ changes people for the better.


-rejoicing in God’s unmerited grace
-rejoicing in the release of forgiveness
-rejoicing in a new life with a new mission

Voice of the Lord

Voice of the Lord

Listen to and obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people;
and walk completely in the ways that I command you,
so that it may be well to you.
Jer 7:23
And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying,
"This is my beloved Son. Listen to, believe, and obey Him.” Luk 9:35

Give ear and hear my voice; listen and hear my words. Isa 28:23

Incline your ear, and come to me. Hear [and obey], and your soul shall live;
and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies promised to David. Isa 55:3

Speaking of Jesus, Moses said:
"From among you the Lord your God shall raise up a prophet like me from your brothers;
you shall listen to him in everything, whatever he says to you.
And it shall come to pass, that every soul that does not listen to and obey that prophet
will be thus destroyed from among the people." Acts 3:22-23
(This applies to Gentiles as well -
we must hear Christ' voice within and obey what he commands
to save our souls from destruction.)
See that you do not refuse him who speaks.
For if they did not escape, who refused him who spoke on the earth,
how much more will we be liable,
if we turn away from him who speaks from heaven [which is in your heart]. Heb 12:25

So I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them;
because when I called, no one answered; when I spoke, they did not hear;
but they did evil before my eyes and chose that in which I did not delight.
Isa 66:4
Exodus 19:5
Now therefore, if you will obey my voice, and keep my covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure to me above all people; for all the earth is mine.

Exodus 23:20-22
Behold, I send an Angel before you, to keep you in the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.
Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions for my name is in him.
But if you shall indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and an adversary to your adversaries.
Leviticus 26:13-42
I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.
But if you will not hearken to me, and will not do all these commandments;
And if you shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhors my judgments, so that you will not do all my commandments, but that you break my covenant;
I also will do this to you: I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart; and you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
And I will set my face against you, and you shall be slain before your enemies. Those who hate you shall reign over you; and you shall flee when none pursues you.
And if you will not yet for all this hearken to me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.
And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass.
And your strength shall be spent in vain for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.
And if you walk contrary to me, and will not hearken to me, I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.
I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; And if you will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary to me;
Then will I also walk contrary to you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.
And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant; and when you are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.
And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight; and you shall eat, and not be satisfied.
And if you will not for all this hearken to me, but walk contrary to me;
Then I will walk contrary to you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.
And you shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters.
And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcasses upon the carcasses of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.
And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries to desolation, and I will not smell the savor of your sweet odors.
And I will bring the land into desolation, and your enemies that dwell in it shall be astonished at it.
And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you; and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.
Then shall the land enjoy her Sabbaths, as long as it lies desolate, and you are in your enemies' land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her Sabbaths.
As long as it lies desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your Sabbaths, when you dwelled upon it.
And upon those who are left alive of you, I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursues them.
And they shall fall one upon another, as it were before a sword, when none pursues them; and you shall have no power to stand before your enemies.
And you shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.
And those who are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies' lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.
If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary to me;
And that I also have walked contrary to them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity;
Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.
Deut 8:20
As the nations which the LORD destroys before your face, so shall you perish; because you would not be obedient to the voice of the LORD your God.
Deut 13:4
You shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and you shall serve him, and cleave to him.
Deut 18:15,19
From among you the Lord your God shall raise up a prophet like me [Jesus] to you of your brothers; you shall listen to him.
And it shall come to pass, that whoever will not listen to my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

Deut 27:10
You shall therefore obey the voice of the LORD your God, and do his commandments and his statutes, which I command you this day,
Deut 28:15-57
But it shall come to pass, if you will not listen to and heed the voice of the LORD your God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command you this day; that all these curses shall come upon you, and overtake you:

Cursed shall you be who are in the city, and cursed shall you be who are in the field.
Cursed shall be your basket and your store.
Cursed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your land, the increase of your cattle, and the flocks of your sheep.
Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.
The LORD shall send upon you cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that you set your hand to for to do, until you are destroyed, and until you perish quickly; because of the wickedness of your doings, in which you have forsaken me.
The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave to you, until he has consumed you from off the land, where you go to possess it.
The LORD shall smite you with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue you until you perish.
And your heaven that is over your head shall be brass, and the earth that is under you will be iron.
The LORD shall make the rain of your land powder and dust; from heaven it shall come down upon you, until you are destroyed.
The LORD shall cause you to be struck down before your enemies; you will go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them:, and you shall be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.2
And your carcass shall be meat to all fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the earth, and no man shall frighten them away.
The LORD will smite you with the ulcer of Egypt, and with the hemorrhoids, and with the scurvy, and with the itch, of which you cannot be healed.
The LORD shall strike you with madness, blindness, and astonishment of heart:
And you will grope at noonday, as the blind gropes in darkness, and you will not prosper in your ways; and you will be only oppressed and plundered continually, and no man shall save you.
You will betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her; you will build an house, and you will not dwell in it; you will plant a vineyard, and will not gather the grapes of it.
Your ox shall be killed before your eyes, and you will not eat of it. Your ass shall be violently taken away from before your face, and it shall not be restored to you. Your sheep shall be given to your enemies, and you will have no one to rescue them.
Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, and your eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long; and there shall be no strength in your hand.
The fruit of your land, and all your labours, shall be consumed by a nation that you do not know; and you will only be oppressed and crushed always;
So that you will become mad because of the sights that your eyes will see.
The LORD shall smite you in the knees, and in the legs, with a sore boil that cannot be healed, from the sole of your foot to the top of your head.
The LORD shall bring you, and your king that you will set over you, to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known; and there shall you serve other gods, wood and stone.
And you will become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations where the LORD shall lead you.
You will carry much seed out into the field, and will gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it.
You will plant vineyards, and dress them, but will neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms will eat them.
You will have olive trees throughout all your coasts, but you will not anoint yourself with the oil; for your olive shall shed its fruit.
You will beget sons and daughters, but you will not enjoy them for they shall go into captivity.
All your trees and fruit of your land will be consumed by the locust.
The stranger who is among you will get up above you very high, and you will come down very low.
He shall lend to you, and you will not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you will be the tail.
Moreover all these curses will come upon you, and will pursue you, and overtake you, until you are destroyed; because you did not listen to and heed the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded you.
And they will be upon you for a sign and for a wonder, and upon your seed forever.
Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things;
Therefore shall you serve your enemies which the LORD shall send against you, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things; and he shall put a yoke of iron upon your neck, until he has destroyed you.
The LORD shall bring a nation against you from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies; a nation whose tongue you will not understand;
A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favor to the young.
And he will eat the fruit of your cattle, and the fruit of your land, until you are destroyed; neither will he leave you either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of your cattle, or flocks of your sheep, until he has destroyed you.
And he will besiege you in all your gates, until your high and fenced walls come down, in which you trusted, throughout all your land; and he will besiege you in all your gates throughout all your land, which the LORD your God has given you.
And you will eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and of your daughters, which the LORD your God has given you, in the siege, and in the harshness, with which your enemies shall distress you:.
So that the man who is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children which he shall leave.
So that he will not give to any of them the flesh of his children, whom he shall eat, because he has nothing left him in the siege, and in the harshness with which your enemies shall distress you in all your gates.
The tender and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness; her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter,
And toward her young one that comes out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear; for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and harshness, with which your enemy shall distress you in your gates.
Deu 28:62
And you shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God.

Deut 30:2
And shall return to the LORD your God, and shall obey his voice according to all that I command you this day, you and your children, with all your heart, and with all your soul;
Deut 30:8
And you shall return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command you this day.
Deut 30:14
But the word is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, so that you may obey it.
(Notice! The Lord is speaking about the word in every man's heart, to which he must listen and obey. Some will say that the people only hear the voice of the Lord through the prophets, but this verse applies to all men.)
Deut 30:19-20
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live:
That you may love the LORD your God, and that you may obey his voice, and that you may cleave to him for he is your life, and the length of your days; that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
Joshua 24:24
And the people said to Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.
1 Sam 12:14-15
If you will fear the LORD, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall both you and also the king that reigns over you continue following the LORD your God.
But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall the hand of the LORD be against you, as it was against your fathers.
1 Sam 15:19
Therefore then did you not obey the voice of the LORD, but did fly upon the spoil, and did evil in the sight of the LORD?
1 Sam 15:22-26
And Samuel said, Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.
And Saul said to Samuel, I have sinned for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and your words because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.
Now therefore, I pray you, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD.
And Samuel said to Saul, I will not return with you: for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.
Job 36:8-12
And if they are bound in fetters, and are held in cords of affliction;
Then he shows them their work, and their transgressions that they have exceeded.
He opens also their ear to discipline, and commands that they return from iniquity.
If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures.
But if they do not obey, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge.
Isa 28:23
Give ear and hear my voice; listen and hear my words.
Isa 32:9
Rise up, you women who are at ease; hear my voice, you careless daughters; give ear to my speech.
Isa 42:23
Who among you will give ear to this? Who will listen and hear for the time to come?
Isa 48:8
Yes, you did not hear, yes, you did not know; yes, from long ago your ear was not opened. For I knew that you would deal very treacherously, and were called a transgressor from the womb.

Isa 50:4-5
The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of the learned, so that I would know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary.
He wakens me morning by morning; he wakens my ear to hear as one who is taught.
The Lord GOD has opened my ear; and I was not rebellious, nor did I turn back.

Isa 51:4
Listen to me, my people, and give ear to me, O my nation for a law will go out from me, and I will make my judgment a light to the people.

Isa 55:3
Incline your ear, and come to me. Hear [and obey], and your soul shall live;
Hosea 5:1
Hear this, O priests! And listen, O house of Israel! And give your ear, O house of the king!
Hosea 9:17
My God will cast them away because they did not listen to and obey him.
Isa 5:24
Therefore as the fire devours the stubble, and the flame consumes the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
Jer 3:13
Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the LORD your God, and have scattered your ways to the strangers under every green tree, and you have not obeyed my voice,'" said the LORD.
Jer 3:25
We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covers us for we have sinned against the LORD our God; we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.

Jer 6:10-13
To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot listen. Behold, the word of the LORD is to them a reproach; they have no delight in it.
Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD; I am weary with holding it back. I will pour it out upon the children in the street, and upon groups of young men together. Even the husband with the wife shall be taken and the aged with him that is full of days.
And their houses shall be turned to others, with their fields and wives together. For I will stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of the land," said the LORD.
"For from the least of them even to the greatest of them everyone is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely.
Jer 6:19
Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts [and schemes] because they have not heeded my words, nor my law, but have rejected it.

Be Still and know that I am your God

Pslams 46

So let’s look at vs’s 1-3. "God is our refuge & strength, an ever�present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way, & the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar & foam, & the mountains quake with their surging."
But as Christians, how are we to react to all this? The Psalmist says, "I will not be afraid. My Lord is still in command of the winds & the waves & the sea, & all of the elements of nature.
Therefore I will not fear. God is my refuge & my strength."


Now look at vs’s 4-7. "There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts His voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."
Here he pictures nations in an uproar, kingdoms falling, of great changes taking place. It sounds like today, doesn’t it?

Then it seems that the Psalmist sits back & looks at all the changes that have taken place & he reflects on them with these words in vs’s 8 & 9, "Come & see the works of the Lord, the desolations He has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; He breaks the bow & shatters the spear; He burns the shields with fire."

Then in vs. 10 he says, "`Be still, & know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."

Do you realize what he is saying? He is saying, "In the midst of it all I have decided that I will no longer let my life be filled with stress & anxiety." Why? Because "God is my refuge & my strength."

I wonder if we have forgotten how to relax? How long has it been since you sat down with your family & ate a meal together, & then after the meal just talked and visited & had fun? How long has it been since you took off your shoes & walked barefoot & felt the blades of grass beneath your feet?

How long has it been since you took a long walk in the evening, & watched the sun set? Or sat in a hot tub of water & read a whole chapter of a book without interruption? How long has it been since you just leaned back & relaxed & listened to some good, wholesome music? How long has it been?

How long has it been since you just spent a day & got away from it all? You took your wristwatch off & forgot what time it was & did what you wanted to do, when you wanted to do it?
Someone said that 3 words can summarize how most of us spend our lives - hurrying, worrying, & scurrying. It’s time for us to take the Psalmist to heart, to "Be still, & know that I am God."


Now let me close by pointing out 3 great truths that we can draw from this Psalm:

A. #1, God is always near & available to us. God never puts us on hold. We may be on hold on the telephone, on hold at the red light, on hold at the bank as we deposit our money, on hold in the post office line, & on hold at the supermarket.

But God is always available & anxious to hear us whenever we want to speak to Him. Some of our problems may be superficial, but others are deep, & God can help us. So talk to Him!

B. Secondly, God’s power is greater than anything in all this world. Greater than winds or storms, or earthquakes, or volcanoes. There is no greater power. God’s power is sufficient to win the victory over all the enemies that come our way. The Psalmist tells us again that "God is our refuge, our strength in times of trouble." So don’t be afraid to ask for His help.

C. Finally, God’s help works even when we can’t help ourselves. Have you felt weak lately? Have you felt like there are too many stresses, & that you’re about ready to explode? God’s help is available, & all you have to do is reach out for it, & grab hold.

Seven Words from the Cross

The Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is the corner stone of our faith. It is the chosen symbol of the Christian faith. Thank God, we see it now as an empty cross because the seeming tragedy for good and apparent victory for evil was overturned by the power and purposes of God into the triumph of the resurrection of Jesus. But what does it mean to us? Is the Cross in our experience more meaningful than a nicely sculpted piece of wood or an elegantly-shaped piece of gold hung around the neck? The Cross of Christ is God’s final word as to the character and consequence of human sin, and of the wonder and sacrifice of divine love.

Jesus went to the Cross so that we, through his death and resurrection might have a personal relationship with God and that we might know its power in every area of our lives. When we speak of "the Cross", we’re not thinking of it in the purely physical sense of two rough pieces of wood, bolted together and suspended by its vertical section before being dropped into a hole in the ground. To the Christian, it is much more than that - "the Cross" is a "shorthand" expression meaning the death of Jesus. It’s Jesus stretched out between heaven and earth, suffering more than anyone has ever suffered, for you and me. The Cross is Jesus as our Saviour. There is no holier place that we can ever hope to come to - the Cross is the place "to where heaven’s love and heaven’s justice meet".

The Gospels contain a most wonderful commentary on the Cross in the words of Jesus himself, spoken from the Cross itself. Seven sayings are recorded: if there were more we don’t know but surely it’s significant that seven is God’s perfect number. It represents completeness and wholeness. As Jesus hung upon that Cross almost two thousand years ago, he made seven great statements, treasured by believers as the Seven Words from the Cross. They cover the basic needs of mankind. Let’s meditate on them together as our Lord’s testament to a world wrecked by sin, bowed down by needs of healing in body, mind and spirit. The Words from the Cross reveal God’s answer to our basic needs.

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34).
"Forgive them" said Jesus. Who, I wonder, was Jesus referring to? There were many groups of people around the Cross. Closest to him would have been the execution party, soldiers of the Roman garrison, coarsened by discipline and cruelty. They had the unspeakable task of nailing a human being to a cross, but perhaps they were the least guilty of all parties who were responsible for putting to death an innocent man - after all, they were under the strict instructions of the Roman Governor, and to fail to co-operate in the execution would have meant instant death for themselves. Yet they were involved - they crucified the Lord of glory.

As Jesus prayed his utterly unselfish prayer "Father, forgive them" his eyes would have taken in other groups: they were the teachers who hated him, the priests who bought him with silver, the traitor who sold him to them, the crowd who had cried "crucify him" at the farce of his trial, and in the distance was Pilate in his palace trying to salve his conscience by blaming somebody else for what was happening. But I like to think that Jesus was encompassing a wider body of people than those I have mentioned: therewas the band of disciples who had been his constant companions for nearly three years. Had they lifted a finger to prevent this act of barbarism? They were there, at a discreet distance, perhaps standing next to the secret disciples of Jesus, those kindly men Nicodemus and Joseph who were to minister to the dead body of Jesus. But as Jesus endured the torture of crucifixion, they failed to make even a token protest against the terrible atrocity being committed.

What does this tell us? All these groups either actively or passively helped to crucify Jesus - they were all guilty, but in a very real sense they are only representatives of a wider number of those responsible for crucifying Jesus, because the message of the Bible is that it was the sin of the world which crucified Jesus. The gospel writers simply wrote "They crucified Jesus". Who crucified him? I’ll tell you who crucified him. I did - and you did, and they did, those groups around the cross. The old Negro spiritual asked the question, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" “They” crucified the Lord? It would be truer to say "We crucified the Lord". Every one of us is equally guilty, "They do not know what they do" said Jesus. What a perceptive word this is. Mankind had become so blinded by evil, so corrupted by sin that it reacted violently to the purity and holiness of God as shown in the Lord Jesus Christ. These poor representatives of mankind were swept along by the power of Satan in seeking to destroy the Lord of glory - "they do not know what they do" - but they did it all the same.

The wonder of this Word from the Cross is that there is forgiveness. Forgiveness for the disciples who forsook Jesus and fled in the night. Forgiveness for the evil ones who drove Him to the Cross. Forgiveness for the soldiers who nailed him to the tree. Forgiveness for the bitter hearts of his religious enemies, the priests and teachers. Forgiveness for every person who has ever sinned or made a mistake. Forgiveness for you and for me. Thank God, there is forgiveness but it is a forgiveness that requires to be taken individually, to be drawn upon in the way that God has planned.
Years later, one of the disciples, John, restated this truth when he wrote, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9).

Forgiveness has always been the hallmark of Christianity, following the great example of its founder. The first Christian martyr, Stephen, showed this spirit when he was being stoned to death, "Lord," he prayed, "do not hold this sin against them." Non-Christians may have in their hearts the unforgiving spirit, but Christians know better; we are Christ’s men and women, and we must forgive as He forgave.

One of the great preachers of the early part of this century, Dr. F B Meyer, says that "in uttering this first cry from the Cross, our Lord entered that work of intercession which he ever lives to continue on our behalf. He thinks, not of himself, but of others; he is occupied, not with his own pain, but with their sins. He makes no threat but instead offers a tender prayer of pleading intercession." When was that prayer answered? Seven weeks after this, on the day of Pentecost, three thousand of these people, whomPeter described as the murderers of Christ repented and believed; and, in the days that followed, thousands more, including a great number of the priests. That was the answer to this intercession, and it has continued down the centuries for we too, are the fruits of his prayer, "Father, forgive them."

"Today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43).
If the First Word embraced all mankind within the scope of the dreadful act of crucifying Jesus and the potential of forgiveness through his prayer, then the Second Word narrows its focus to one single needy sinner. God not only sees the whole world but he sees it made up of individuals. On that fateful day in the history of the world, it happened that there were two thieves who were crucified alongside Jesus. This fact isn’t just recorded to give a bit of colour to the dark scene. It’s not just to round up the story, but as a piece of evidence that what was happening was part of God’s plan of salvation. It was conceived before the world existed and revealed through God’s messengers, centuries before. The particular prophecy that was being fulfilled is recorded in Isaiah 53 where, among many other predictions, the prophet declared that the coming Suffering Servant of the Lord was he who "was numbered with the transgressors" (53:12).

This ancient prophecy was fulfilled quite literally when Jesus was crucified in the company of two thieves, obviously known to each other. Something of the way that Jesus conducted himself must have convicted one thief of his own vileness when contrasted with the righteousness of Jesus, visible to all who had eyes to see it. It soon dawned on his understanding that he was witnessing something not of this earth. Instead of curses from the lips of Jesus as the soldiers hammered in the nails, it was a prayer of forgiveness for his torturers. It seems likely that he had known of the life of Jesus for when the other thief was casting abuse at Jesus, this fellow tried to restrain him and told him that, although they were receiving the just reward of their misdeeds Jesus had done nothing amiss. Evil man though he was, he feared God and that was the beginning of his repentance.

No man is beyond hope of redemption in whose soul still lingers some fear of God. And as he spoke, faith rose in his soul and he blurted out his appeal, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." It was a plea that did not fall on deaf ears. The response was immediate, "Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise." The word "Paradise" is a Persian word meaning "a walled garden". When a Persian king wished to do one of his subjects a very special honour he made him a “companion of the garden” and he was chosen to walk in the royal garden with the king. It was more than immortality that Jesus promised the penitent thief. He promised the honoured place of a companion of the garden in the courts of heaven. "You will be with me" said Jesus.

This word from the cross teaches some wonderful truths. It illustrates that the way of salvation is wondrously simple. The devil has blinded the eyes of men and women to thinking that it is hard to be saved, difficult to come to Christ and to become a Christian. But this clearly isn’t true. The man was saved simply by asking the Lord to save him. In the words of his request, there’s theimplication that he felt and confessed his need of salvation; he believed the Lord could and would save him and he committed himself to the Lord and trusted him to save him (Romans 10:13).

This Word from the Cross reminds us that the worst sinner may be saved. There can be no doubt that the man was a criminal. He had broken the laws of the land and he was crucified for that reason, but the measure of his sin didn’t alter his chance of being saved one little bit. Let no one despair in thinking they are too bad to be saved, as the hymn writer put it, "the vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives."

Another important lesson to learn from the personal encounter of the dying thief with Jesus is that salvation doesn’t depend on religious ceremonies, good deeds or any contribution from man. There was no time for any of these things to take place. I once read that "salvation is free yet costly; the entrance fee into the kingdom of heaven is nothing at all, but once you are in, the annual subscription is all you have got."

There is one further point to mention before we leave this Word. It’s a solemn one. You see, there were two thieves crucified with Jesus - one repented but the other didn’t. The time of decision came for both. When it came to the choice of rebellion or repentance for the dying thieves it was irrevocable. It was now or never. There is a dual tug - the eternal pull of evil, and the eternal pull of God’s Spirit. As James Russell Lowell put it: "Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide, In the strife of Truth and Falsehood, for the good or evil side; Some great cause, God’s new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight, Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right, And the choice goes by forever ’twixt that darkness and that light."

We may think that time is on our side before we commit ourselves, but beware, the next moment is promised to no-one. We never know amid the flow of life’s choices, which will be final and irreversible. Someone once said that the story of the dying thieves was recorded so that no one need despair, and also as a dire warning to presume on God’s mercy by delaying trusting in Christ.

Thank God for conscience - that voice within that tells us that we have done wrong, that nags us to a point of hurting for the mistakes that we’ve made; when we’ve missed the mark and fallen short of God’s best for our lives. It’s then we too can look up to God and say, "Lord, remember me". There’s salvation in the Cross.

"Jesus said to his mother, ’Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple ’Here is your mother’" (John 19:26,27).
The Second Word from the Cross ministered salvation to the penitent sinner, but the Third Word introduces us to the wider implications of this great salvation. It illuminates relationships as seen through the cross of Jesus, especially that of love. A psychologist once said, "there are two things that men want: power and love." At the very heart of all our wanting is the love that Jesus gave us on the cross. The disciple that Jesus refers to in his word is John, and his gospel contains several of the most important statements that Jesus made on love. "Greater love has no one than this that one lays down his life for his friends" (15:13). "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (3:16).

The gospels provide only the briefest glimpses of the relationship between Jesus and Mary. I wonder what tortured thoughts were passing through Mary’s mind as she saw her son in such extremity. Very likely she would recall the words uttered in a prophecy when the infant Jesus was presented in the Temple,
"This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too." This was that moment - the sword was being cruelly thrust into her. It was suffering for Jesus to see his mother among those who stood near the Cross. He suffered because of her suffering. He always entered into the needs of his people. He wept over the rebellious people of Jerusalem.

Here he is touched with his mother’s suffering, but he doesn’t refer to her as "Mother" rather as "Woman". Have you ever wondered why? On the face of it, it would have seemed to be more tender and loving to have done so, and Jesus lacked nothing in consideration and compassion. The reason is that Mary must no longer think of him as being her son. The more she thinks of him as her son, the more she will suffer when he suffers. Mary must begin to look upon Jesus as her "Lord". Even then she will suffer, but this suffering will be of a different nature. She will then know that however terrible his agony is, it is glorious because of its purpose. She will then begin to concentrate on its redemptive meaning. Mary’s merely emotional suffering must be replaced by something higher, that is, by adoration. This was the way that Jesus ministered love unto the broken hearted. It shows that in the Cross all barriers have been broken. Mary represents the women of the world, all too often treated as inferior. She represents those getting on in years. But at the Cross there’s no age barrier, no sex barrier, for all who come to Jesus are part of his household.

This Third Word from the Cross also reveals the relationship of Jesus with his disciple John, the one who had been closest to him. It didn’t require a long explanation for John to know what was meant. We read that from that hour John took Mary into his own home. The question might be raised, "But why was not Mary committed into the care of one of her other children?" The answer is probably because they as yet hadn’t received him by a living faith. John was ready and acted without hesitation. It has been said that this Word from the Cross is the least theological, but practical application of the gospel must never be separated from its message. It is only as theory is translated into practice that relationship with Christ becomes a living reality. This Word tells us that there’s love for you in the cross, and it’s a love which having been received, is to be shared with others.

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me" (Matt. 27:46).
There is a depth of feeling in this cry from the heart, made with an intensity matched only by the darkness which had draped itself over the terrible spectacle. It’s surely symbolic that the sun couldn’t shine upon such a scene as the crucifixion of its Creator. The darkness lasted three hours and wasan outward sign of the darkness that now wrapped itself around the soul of Jesus. Wave after wave of evil swept over his consciousness. All the sin of the world, the awful legacy of the fall of mankind was laid upon Jesus. "He who knew no sin was made to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor 5:21).

Only the night before, Jesus had told his disciples that in his hour of trial they would all desert him but he said, "Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me" (John 16:33). But now at the climax of his passion, at the moment of making atonement for our sin it was necessary that even his Father should stand aside. Just as a scapegoat of the Old Testament had to be banished into the wilderness, so Jesus had to bear the sin of the world alone - literally. God forsaken. He who was made sin for us was feeling the punishment of the sinner, being separated from God. His humiliation was complete. It has been said that "Christ’s self-emptying was not a single act or bereavement, but a growing poorer and poorer, until at last nothing was left to Him but a piece of ground where He could weep and a Cross where He could die." (Abraham Kuyper)

How Jesus felt as his loud cry broke the dreadful silence of that moment of destiny we cannot know. Never before had he stood alone, forsaken by God his Father. Yet, although he was forsaken he never ceased to be his Father’s well-beloved Son, for he was carrying out his Father’s will and purpose in becoming our atonement for sin. This Word from the Cross points us to the cost of the atonement made. Thank God, there’s atonement for sin at the Cross by the Lord Jesus. It’s something we must never lose sight of.

"I thirst" (John 19:28).
The hours of torture on the Cross took a tremendous toll on the body of Jesus. Execution by crucifixion was not a sudden death like being shot by a firing squad. It was a long drawn out, lingering death carried out under the Eastern sun. His wounded hands and feet would be quickly inflamed, resulting in a fever of thirst and His body would soon be dehydrated.

The prophetic 22nd Psalm which anticipated our Lord’s passion speaks graphically of his condition, "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth" (14,15). Yes, our Saviour’s sufferings were real. Although Jesus was divine he was also uniquely man and felt all the emotions and pain as we feel them.

Jesus had earlier refused to drink a drugged wine designed to alleviate to some extent the intensity of the coming suffering, but now his mission almost complete his cry of thirst could be met from a sponge dipped in wine vinegar. In fact it was necessary that his lips should be moistened because he had yet two momentous Words to utter which the world must hear clearly. The second reason was that there was a Scripture still to be fulfilled. Psalm 69:21 had predicted that the Suffering Servant of Israel would say "They ... gave me vinegar for my thirst." Jesus knew that for him to do his Father’s will required him to fulfil all that had been prophesied of the Messiah down the ages. This Fifth Word from the Cross serves to tell us that there is suffering in the Cross.

"It is finished" (John 19:30). consists of one single word in the Greek - "Finished, accomplished." It was a loud cry that rang out over the ghastly scene. What did Jesus mean? What was finished? Was he referring to his sufferings or his life’s work? Certainly it was those things, but even more. It was the end of an era. The Old Testament contains a long list of prophetic utterances, beginning with the first family of mankind, when God told the serpent in the Garden of Eden that he would "put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel" (Gen 3:15). It was this great conquest that was being enacted. Jesus’ cry was proclaiming his victory over the evil one. In the gigantic struggle between good and evil the Son of Man had suffered grievously but he had finished the work of redemption that his Father had committed to him. He didn’t say "I am finished" but rather "It is finished." It was a shout of victory over sin, death and hell.

The word from the Cross said "finished" to the rituals of the Jewish religion. There was nothing wrong with them because they had been given by God, but now they had served their purpose as a holding operation until the appointed time of the coming of the Messiah.

The sacrifices and ceremonies of the Old Testament order were but types pointing to the Christ, but now he had come, shadow had given way to substance; that which had been promised centuries before had at last been realised. The work of man’s redemption was finished, accomplished. Jesus had offered himself without spot or blemish to God, and by that one sacrifice for sin, once and for all he had done all that was required to reconcile the world unto God.

"It is finished." The Word tells us there is nothing left for man to do but to enter into the results of Christ’s finished work. The Greek word for “finished” was used in business life of the time to indicate that a debt had been paid. It’s like the message of a rubber stamp bearing the words ’Payment received’ when stamped across a bill. That’s what Jesus was proclaiming from the Cross - "it is paid, man’s account with God has been settled, the debt is wiped out." That is the very essence of the Gospel. The Redeemer has paid the price for our redemption. Salvation has been obtained for all who accept and rely upon the finished work of Calvary. "A full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world." Yes, there is victory over sin in the Cross.

"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (Luke 23:46).
The First Word from the Cross begins with Jesus addressing His Father - "Father forgive" and now it begins the last. God, the Father, had accepted the sin offering made by Jesus, as would soon be demonstrated by his resurrection from the dead. Jesus had come from his Father and to his Father he would return, but first he had to die physically. These words tell us that his life didn’t just ebb away - in fact Jesus had previously said that no one could take his life "but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father" (John 10:18). And so it was that Jesus consciously gave his life. He laid it upon the altar, just as the burnt offering of the Old Testament which had spoken

What should you think about Prosperity ?

What should you think about prosperity?

Here are a few ideas to remember- and to believe. It may be important to review these regularly because Proverbs 23:7 tells us
“as a man thinks, so is he.”
The Bible says that the one who mediates on the law of the Lord is blessed (see Psalm 1:2). The word meditate in the Hebrew language doesn’t simply mean to “think about” or “ponder.” Rather, it means
“to mutter, to say aloud.”
In other words, we must speak the words of God to actually remind ourselves of the Truth of them. Remember, faith comes by hearing- not by thinking (Romans 10:17).
Joshua was commanded by Moses not to let the words of the Law depart from his mouth, but to meditate on it day and night (Joshua 1:7). This is why. He needed to remind himself that he could believe the Lord’s words were true- particularly when reality seemed to say otherwise. So, change your thinking- by speaking the passages of the Bible aloud.
Remind yourself of the following:
First, God operates from prosperity- not scarcity. Live from a position that affirms that God has more than enough- not that He lacks anything. The earth is His- and everything that belongs in it (Psalm 24:1, 1 Corinthians 10:26).
Second, God is a giver of the prosperity that He has. Proverbs 35:27 tells us that the Lord actually has pleasure in your prosperity (and, remember, we are defining prosperity as God’s blessing to you in order to allow you to bless others- not simply as Him giving you lots of “stuff”). Romans 8:32 asks the rhetorical question, “He who did not spare His own Son; how will he not freely give us all things?”
Third, you are a conduit of God’s blessings. As long as you have your hands open, you can receive from Him so that you can give to others. Many people hold their hands closed, afraid they will lose what they have. However, we can still lose things from “closed” hands- and closed hands block us from receiving.
Live from the mind-set that God has plenty, that He takes delight in handing it to you, and that He hands it to you to continue handing it off… Jesus freed you to this on His way to The Cross. It’s the promise of the crown of thorns.