In our introduction I began by laying out four things we risk when we do not remember who God is and all that He has done. These were:
- Falling into idolatry/trusting ourselves or our possessions (Deut. 8:13-14)
- Never growing in trust of/faith in God (Isa. 40:20-21)
- Stumbling into sin and suffering the Father’s discipline (Deut. 8:19)
- Forfeiting a generation to the enemy (Judges 2:10-11)
In our exploration of remembering God, we’ll begin with his written revelation. God’s Word is our primary means of remembering who He is and all that He has done throughout history. As parents our most important duty in the kingdom is to take the words of God and, “Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home. Talk about them when you walk along the road. Speak about them when you go to bed. And speak about them when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:19).
God’s Word is our primary means of remembering who He is and all that He has done throughout history.
When Josiah, the child-king who reigned in Jerusalem for thirty-one years, was twenty-six years old, an amazing discovery was made during repairs to the temple. You can find the account in 2 Kings 22-23. Hilkiah, the high priest, found the Book of the Law in the Temple. There are a couple of interesting things to note here. First, the Book was “found” which means it had come into disuse, it was “lost,” it was not being read and proclaimed to the people. When the Book is given to Josiah he had apparently been unaware of its existence or what was written in it. At this time in Jerusalem the very Temple was filled with statues dedicated to other gods. On every high hill in the country there were altars to foreign gods where the people of Israel would sacrifice even their own children. This was a culture that had forgotten God’s Word, forgotten his covenant promises, forgotten who He was and what He had done to make them his people, and as a result, had fallen into the deepest, darkest pits of demonic idolatry. The second point of interest is Josiah’s reaction upon being exposed to the Holy Scriptures for the first time.
When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, … “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”
Josiah’s response is one of repentance and a newfound zeal for the Lord. His heart was turned from idolatry and he was spared the discipline that the Lord would eventually bring on Judah.
There is a lesson to be learned here. God’s Word must hold an active and prominent place in our family life and in our homes. We cannot let it lapse into disuse because, if we do, inevitably something else will come in to fill that vacuum as it did in Jerusalem. It must be ever before us as a reminder. We are the spiritual descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, of Peter, Paul, and John. Children need to know where they came from if they are to understand where they fit into the bigger picture and where they are going. They need to have a sense of history and their place in it. They must understand where they fit in to God’s redemptive plan.
So how can we be a family of the Book? Every family is different but here are two ways straight out of the good Book itself that any of us can employ right away and to great affect (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
- Place the written word of God in strategic places throughout your home. These can be anything from a plaque over the door to the artwork on the wall to a white board by the breakfast table with a verse of the day. Select a verse that speaks to you about each of your children and place that prominently in their bedroom. Use notecards or sticky notes on the bathroom mirror or in their lunchbox. Whatever form it takes, fill your home with His Word.
- Make reading of the Word aloud part of your family routine. This could be as simple as having a new verse or passage to read at the dinner table each evening. If you have readers, allow them a chance to do the reading. Then give the family some time as you break bread together to discuss it. Even with pre-readers this can be a precious time and generate some great questions.
The most important thing we can do is lead by example. Show them how to approach God’s Word with respect, in prayer, and with the expectation that God will speak to you through it. Even if you think you are weak in this area you’d be surprised what your children are picking up on and how far a little faithfulness on your part will go.
Tune in next time when we talk about “Remembering God in Song.”
Why is it that God spends so much time in the Bible telling His children to “remember” Him?
I’d like to venture four reasons I believe are grounded in scripture and then, over the next several weeks, give you five practical and biblical ways to remember the Lord as a family. When we fail to remember God we risk…
- …Falling into idolatry/trusting ourselves or our possessions (Deut. 8:13-14)
- …Never growing in trust of/faith in God (Isa. 40:20-21)
- …Stumbling into sin and suffering the Father’s discipline (Deut. 8:19)
- …Forfeiting a generation to the enemy (Judges 2:10-11)
So how can we be a family that is all about remembering God? As we head toward Thanksgiving and Christmas, two big “reminders” built into our culture, I want to take some time to discuss each of the five ways, listed below, that God has ordained for us to remember Him, who He is, and all that He has done. I’ll also include some practical ways for us to incorporate these into family life.
- In His Word – God’s Word is our primary means of remembering who He is and all that He has done throughout history. As parents our most important duty in the kingdom is to take the words of God and, “Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home. Talk about them when you walk along the road. Speak about them when you go to bed. And speak about them when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:19).
- In song – Remembering God in song is a theme we see in scripture over and over again. How wonderful it is that our Creator gave us music, knowing the power it has to help us remember as well as to connect our heads to our hearts and emotions.
- In prayer – Prayer should not only be about asking for help but about remembering to God all that He has done. When we thank God in our prayers we are “remembering” that God alone is responsible for providing our every need. (Nehemiah 9)
- In true Christian fellowship – Fellowship is much more than potluck dinners or bowling night. It is about gathering together to remember God to one another. (1 Corinthians 14:26)
- In traditions and memorials – Traditions and memorials are things that we, in the bible church movement have largely banished from the life of the church. While a healthy dose of caution about tradition becoming idolatry is warranted, the Bible is also clear that God has given us tradition and memorial to help us “remember” who He is and all that He has done. (Joshua 4:4-7, Luke 22:19)
I hope that these “reminders” will serve you well in making your home, for this holiday season and throughout the year, a place where you are remembering God for who He is and what He’s done. Tune in next time when we’ll look at what it means to remember God in his Word.
Muslims fast for thirty days once a year during a period called Ramadan (or Ramazan). Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of the religion of Islam and one of their highest forms of worship. During these thirty days, Muslims around the world will fast from first light until sunset, not even drinking water. They will typically break fast to eat and drink in the evenings. In the Muslim culture, Ramadan marks a period of heightened religious sensitivity and is regarded by Muslims as an act of obedience and submission to God as well as a means of atoning for sin. They view their fasting during this time as a way to purify themselves and earn favor with God.
As followers of Christ, clearly we do not celebrate Ramadan as a holy month like so many Muslims do. However, the Islamic emphasis on earning favor with God though the fasting and abstinence during this season should call to mind at least two things for us:
1 – We should be humbled and grateful before God that we do not have to earn His favor. Jesus Christ atoned for our sins – no other atonement is sufficient or necessary (Romans 3:22-26). God has done that for us, a great gift of redemption that cannot be earned or achieved through our good works. It is God in His great love and mercy that makes us alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:4-9). Thus, we should be both immensely humbled and grateful. Mind you, our gratefulness shouldn’t be in the Pharisaical sense (“God, thank You that I am not like these other people…”) but with a sense of wonder that He should have mercy on sinners at all (Luke 18:9-18:14).
2 – We should be drawn in compassion toward those who do not know His gift of grace in Jesus. In the first chapter of 2 Corinthians, Paul urges Christ-followers to comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from our Heavenly Father – the “Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” (1 Cor. 1:3-5). Muslims have no concept of God as Father, and without Christ, cannot know Him as such or be reconciled to Him. So for the Christian, the Muslim celebration of Ramadan is a special opportunity to pray that they might come to know the great and eternal comfort in Christ.
Why should we pray for Muslims during Ramadan? Our compassion for the lost should draw us – at a minimum – to prayer for them. Prayer for Muslims during Ramadan is a means by which Christians can missionally identify with Muslims for a fixed period of time and call for God’s sovereign intervention in the lives of Muslims during a time of the year when they are particularly religious.
We would certainly be clear that praying for Muslims during the month of Ramadan does not mean that we conform ourselves to the Muslim practices. As believers in Jesus Christ we do not hold to Islamic ideas, theology and practice. However, we can – and should – place an emphasis on God’s love for Muslims. All believers should cultivate a spirit of humility, love, respect and service toward Muslims, and the month of Ramadan is an entirely appropriate season to redeem for the glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Though Muslims have been caricatured as “unreachable” with the Gospel, this simply is not true. About 20 years ago, the world had about 1.1 billion Muslims. Islam was a little-known religion in most Western nations, and efforts on the part of the Church to share their faith in Christ with Muslims were scarce. Today, efforts have increased ten-fold, and the technological advance of the past 20 years has transformed the way in which the Gospel is communicated to previously-unreached Muslim groups. For example, radio and satellite broadcasting throughout the Muslim world has resulted in millions of Muslims responding to the message of Christ. In the Arab world alone, one ministry, SAT 7, has a regular audience of 8.5 million. RBC supports a number of missionaries who are serving in Muslim communities around the world.
Many Christians are finding a new passion and commitment to see God’s kingdom come in Muslim nations, according to an article from Thirty Days Prayer Network.
In November 2012, 70,000 Christians from all denominations gathered in Cairo to pray for their nation. Others are finding increasing boldness as they lovingly reach out to their Muslim neighbours in new ways during these uncertain times.
Across the region there is an explosion of stories of Muslim people coming to faith in Christ and meeting together for support, encouragement and discipleship. Increasingly, however, these movements are finding themselves the targets of intimidation and persecution by their family, community or governments.
The challenges in reaching Muslims for Christ are great, but the power of the Gospel is greater. Our prayer is that Muslims will experience the love and grace of God the Father through the revelation of His Son, Jesus, to them as their Savior.
We encourage you to seek further information and gain a greater understanding reaching the Islamic world for Christ by viewing articles online at www.30-days.net. There, you can find daily prayer ideas though the month of Ramadan, as well as general articles and ministry ideas relating to Islam.
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Jason VanDorsten with Bill Hurley
The nation again has had its soul pierced with yet another massacre. This did not take place in on the battlefield of Afghanistan nor was it the result of a back-alley drug deal gone bad. It took place in an obscure town in Connecticut, where a gunman opened fire in an elementary school. Two questions always surface in the aftermath of such blatant evil.
“Why does this keep happening in the most sophisticated nation on earth?”
“Why does God allow such things to happen?”
The answer to the first question is easy. The answer to the second is not easy.
Why does this keep happening in the most sophisticated nation on earth? People do such evil deeds because the Scriptures tell us the “The heart is incurably wicked…..” (Jer.17:9). Simply put, it is impossible for man to police his own behavior. God has established human government to be a deterrent to evil, but it will never be perfectly effective in this task. When human beings in any society vote to have total moral freedom, that society will see an increase in violent behavior. There is a subtle irony in that unrestricted freedom eventually leads to bondage. True freedom is only found when we stay within the bounds of God’s moral will.
When a nation heads down this path of unrestricted freedom, it tends to turn a blind eye to the real issue. It will point to having more security or better-educated people or more legislation regarding gun control to the table. But if anyone brings up abortion, pornography, violence in movies, lyrics, and video games, or the absence of absolute truth (all of which contribute to devaluing human life) then prepare yourself for battle. These will be seen as a threat to one’s moral freedom.
To be sure, the church is in no position to point its self-righteous moral finger at the world. Perhaps the finger needs to be pointed more at the church than at society since we are called to be the salt and light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16). There is enough blame for everyone to have a sizable piece of the pie. Are we living a life that is void of hypocrisy?
So why does God allow such things to happen? This is a much bigger question and far more difficult to answer. In fact, the writers of Scripture often asked the same question. We know God is all-powerful and hates evil. Yet it is clear He allows it to have a foothold in every nation. God gives hints to an answer, but never fully reveals His feelings on this matter of lingering evil. Here are a few Scriptures to meditate on:
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever….” (Deut. 29:29)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” (Isa. 55:8)
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then, face to face…” (1Cor. 13:12)
I think perhaps the most revealing response is found in John’s gospel, where Jesus and Pilot are in dialogue. Jesus answers Pilot with these words “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight that I would not be delivered to the Jews…”
His point seems to be that as long as His Kingdom has not fully come, then by default, Satan’s kingdom reigns to the degree that God allows it. This does not answer all the questions surrounding the subject of evil, but in the end, we must trust Him to have reasons far beyond our present comprehension. And to be sure, our lack of understanding does not negate our duty or privilege to pray for those dear people who lost their children in this most recent tragedy.
~ Pastor Mike
MARRIAGE STRUGGLING? HERE’S WHY.
1. When you were dating you thought to yourself, “When we get married, I will change him/her.” That introvert personality will come out of their shell. Those strange irritating habits will fall by the wayside. This is equivalent to believing a dog can teach a cat to bark. It won’t happen. One’s personality is not a sin. Sin lies in character, morals, ethics, and behavior but not in personality.
2. Heading down the aisle, you were quite sure the two of you were of one mind in thought and purpose – but time has proven otherwise. There was more of a distance between the two of you when you said “I do” than you could have ever imagined. That unknown distance is the unexplored territory that marriage reveals. All marriages are programmed to fail if this territory is not navigated with humility and wisdom. To neglect this piece of real estate is to run from responsibility.
3. Recognize that all your expectations before you got married were performance based. “If I can get him/her to change, then I will have a happy marriage.” When such expectations are not realized, the lingering weight of disappointment only exacerbates the situation.
4. Love is not based on what your spouse can do for you but what you can do for your spouse.
5. Proverbs 18:17 says, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” If this verse could be measured in speed, it would be lighting fast. If measured in power, it would be 500-horse power. If measured in bytes, it would be a million gigs. Tattoo this verse on the back of your eyelids and let it be the guide for your tongue all the days of your life. What you say to your spouse does not reveal their heart, but yours (Matt.12:34).
6. When the changes you were counting on didn’t happen, angry words are exchanged. Attacks and counter attacks become the norm. Both sides begin to retreat into their own private world of work, TV, video games, and endless hours of entertainment to deaden the pain. Emotional or legal divorce is soon to follow.
7. We can control what we eat, but we cannot control what we hear. We can remove what goes into our mouth but not what goes into the ear, which is the gateway to the soul. Once it is said, it cannot be retracted.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
1. It is never too late to get things back on track. It will take courage, time, energy, wise counsel, and most of all humility.
2. Take a hard look at your contribution to the demise of the marriage. Do not focus on your spouse’s failures. That is their responsibility, not yours
3. Once the two of you have taken careful inventory of your failure, you will need to seek forgiveness from the other. This is not just saying I’m sorry but looking your spouse in the eye and stating what you have done to damage the relationship and saying “Will you forgive me for…..?”
4. You will then need to plan out a strategy for how you will deal with conflict in the future. There will need to be ongoing maintenance to keep the marriage on a biblical track. Marriage requires work and lots of it. Even the best of marriages require time and energy. The cruise control on your car works well on the highway but cruise control in marriage will result in a wreck.
5. Follow God’s blueprint, and leave the results to Him.
How many times in life have you been told that you are making a big deal out of something that is very small? We often refer to this as “making a mountain out of a mole hill.” But is it not possible that we are just as guilty of making mole hills out of mountains? How often do we say “It’s no big deal” when in fact it is a very big deal? Consider these words from scripture:
“I will set nothing wicked before my eyes” (Psalm 101:3)
If we took this mountain seriously, what would we have to remove from our TV diet? Are these little mole hills punctuated throughout the landscape of God’s word, or are they monstrous mountain ranges strategically placed for our protection? To say it’s no big deal what I read or what I watch is to say that Jesus was making a mountain out of a mole hill. I don’t think we want to go there.
What about the poor? The scriptures are replete about caring for the poor, yet it seems to have fallen into the mole hill category. What did our Savior say about materialism?
“A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke12:15, NIV)
I realize the list could go on and on, and I am well aware that a form of legalism looms when we see these as performance issues so that God will love us more. Mountains are in the Bible as a gift from God so that we may live life to the fullest, which is in direct opposition to earning His love. The church in our western society has fallen prey to calling holiness legalism. I don’t write this from the standpoint of pastor-to-flock, but from my own personal battle of having seen mountains become mole hills. I guess you could say I have been taking inventory to see if I am truly growing in grace and not legalism.
Would you be willing to see if your life is measuring up to His teachings? You will be glad you did, for I prefer mountains to mole hills any day.
Remember when Bill Maher, the political satirist and comedian, accused former Vice President Dick Cheney of lying? Coinciding with his attack on Cheney’s character was Tiger Woods’ confession of adultery. Both Maher and Woods are atheists. All atheists believe that we are nothing more than chemicals wrapped in skin. We do what we do based on chemical reactions driven by random electrical stimuli.
So if I understand these men correctly, the human race is made up of six and half billion bags of fertilizer. My question is this: If one bag of fertilizer thinks that lying is wrong, what right does that bag have to impose its moral standards on another bag that can’t help but lie because its chemical makeup dictates that it do so? And why would another bag publicly confess to having numerous affairs with other bags? Is not such a confession implying that it is wrong to behave in such a manner?
And are there not other “God-denying” bags that think killing and stealing is wrong? Seven out of the Ten Commandments have to do with moral values. Tiger, Bill, and like-minded bags seem to be pushing their moral values on the rest of us sad sacks. Strangely, when we try to return the favor with the same set of values we are called self-righteous, right winged fanatics. Do I detect a double-standard in which one set of bags has the right to inflict its moral standard on all other bags? Since Christian bags hold to the same value as atheistic bags , why are we marginalized and seen as judgmental?
Well, I must bring this to a close because the chemicals in this bag tell me that it is time to fertilize my lawn. As an aside, here is a helpful hint to have a great-looking lawn. Always buy the fertilizer with the highest moral standards – unless your chemical makeup tells you otherwise. The standards are written on the sides of each bag. The highest standards guarantee a thick, green, weedless lawn and that is the kind of lawn I like. So do atheists.