Galatians 6:10 English Standard Version
10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Psalm 121:7-8 English Standard Version
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
Numbers 6:24-26 English Standard Version
24 The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Acts 7:51-53 English Standard Version
51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”
Deuteronomy 32:43 English Standard Version
43 “Rejoice with him, O heavens;
bow down to him, all gods,
for he avenges the blood of his children
and takes vengeance on his adversaries.
He repays those who hate him
and cleanses his people's land.”
2 Samuel 22:5-7 English Standard Version
5 “For the waves of death encompassed me,
the torrents of destruction assailed me;
6 the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.
7 “In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I called.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry came to his ears.
Psalm 121:3-4 English Standard Version
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
When we face situations that seem insurmountable, we have one thing that keeps us going from one day to the next. That “thing” is hope. We always hope that things will get better and that hope gives us the strength to not only take on the present challenges but gives us that silver lining for tomorrow. As humans, hope is one of the things we depend on to get us through the problems we face.
It doesn’t matter the size or type of problem. Our hope gets us through each moment. Think back to a particular hard and arduous problem that you faced. It seemed like it lasted for days, weeks or months. In fact, it might have lasted months or even years. We all face these types of problems. Whether they lasted for hours or years, we counted on hope to get us through each moment of what we had to endure.
For me, it was four years ago when I had to deal with an illness that nearly took my life. When the doctors finally figured out what I had, some were already telling me that I only had a twenty percent chance of living. One doctor, while working on my case early in the ordeal, said, “If you are lucky, it’s cancer. If it’s the other, we don’t have a lot of time.”
It took over a year for me to get through that horrible situation. Each day was so difficult to get through. I was taking medications that caused so many side effects. There were so many unknowns to the team of doctors and specialists who worked so hard to just keep me alive from one moment to the next.
Then, there were the times when I wondered about the next day. I thought about how I was going to get through tomorrow’s unknown. There were days when more and more problems would appear and I had to get through each of them. But, I had hope to keep me going from one moment to the next.
The noted inventor and patent draftsman, Lewis Howard Latimer, once said, while paraphrasing Alexander Pope, “”Hope springs eternal in the human breast,’ and is as necessary to life as the act of breathing.”
Hope gives us the strength to take that next hard step and prepares us for each additional step. If we didn’t have hope, we would certainly feel the hand of doom upon us daily. We would seem powerless and wouldn’t even want to go on.
In the play, “Annie,” there is a song that sums up how we should feel about tomorrow. Annie sings, “Tomorrow”. When you listen to the lyrics of this song, you can easily see the virtues of hope. You just have to push beyond the bad and hope for the best.
As we start the Advent season for this year, we all face issues in our lives that truly seem insurmountable. I see more and more people walking with only sorrow to dog their steps. They don’t see a bright day ahead. They feel that they are doomed and have nothing to look forward to. There is only doom and gloom ahead for them.
Have you felt that way or are you feeling that way now? We all go through these dark times. But, hope gets us through them and helps us look forward to a new day with optimism. The same holds true for us as we approach Christmas, the birthday of Jesus.
About 700 years prior to the birth of Jesus, Isaiah prophesied the coming of the Messiah. This gave the Israelites hope and a future to look forward to. This child will grow up and provide for not only the children of Israel but also us, salvation. Jew and Gentiles alike will be given a path to redemption from God.
In chapter nine of the book bearing his name, Isaiah tells the Israelites, “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!”
Their hope as well as our own came in the form of a small child who was born of a virgin in a stable. This child grew up like a normal child and when he grew to manhood, he began to preach the Word of God to all who would listen to him. He would teach us to love one another and, most importantly, seek the Father wholeheartedly.
Isaiah tells the Israelites more about the Prince of Peace, “He will delight in obeying the Lord. He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay. He will give justice to the poor and make fair decisions for the exploited. The earth will shake at the force of his word, and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked. He will wear righteousness like a belt and truth like an undergarment.”
Our hope for salvation rests squarely on the shoulders of this man who didn't come into this world to condemn individuals. He came into it to save them from the wages of sin. The weight of all of the sins of everyone would be borne by his body as he suffers on a cross for each of us. He will become the perfect sacrifice for us and die in our place to end the grip of sin and death once and for all time. This is the hope that we have when we believe, the hope of eternal life with our Heavenly Father and His son.
Hope truly springs eternal for each of us. It gives us the strength to stand firm today knowing that God loves us and the ability to take that next step towards tomorrow. Hope gives us so much to look forward to when we face adversity.
Isaiah said it best, “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
No matter what you face today, tomorrow or next week, your hope will renew your strength and allow you to remain faithful to the Lord. To paraphrase the song, “Tomorrow,” a bit, the Son will always be there with you and clear away the cobwebs and sorrow.
As you go through this first week of advent, take time out of your schedule to think about that hope you have received as a gift from Jesus. It is a very special gift that gives you the strength you need to face anything and everything that will pop up in your life. When hope becomes more than just a word and more of a way of life, you can most assuredly stand firm in it and in His grace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
A psalm of David.
1 O Lord, I give my life to you.
2 I trust in you, my God!
Do not let me be disgraced,
or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat.
3 No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced,
but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.
4 Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow.
5 Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.
6 Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love,
which you have shown from long ages past.
7 Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth.
Remember me in the light of your unfailing love,
for you are merciful, O Lord.
8 The Lord is good and does what is right;
he shows the proper path to those who go astray.
9 He leads the humble in doing right,
teaching them his way.
10 The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 New Living Translation
9 How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy as we enter God’s presence. 10 Night and day we pray earnestly for you, asking God to let us see you again to fill the gaps in your faith.
11 May God our Father and our Lord Jesus bring us to you very soon. 12 And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. 13 May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. Amen.
Luke 21:25-36 New Living Translation
25 “And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides. 26 People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory. 28 So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!”
29 Then he gave them this illustration: “Notice the fig tree, or any other tree. 30 When the leaves come out, you know without being told that summer is near. 31 In the same way, when you see all these things taking place, you can know that the Kingdom of God is near. 32 I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.
34 “Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, 35 like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. 36 Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.”
Ezekiel 18:5-9 English Standard Version
5 “If a man is righteous and does what is just and right— 6 if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor's wife or approach a woman in her time of menstrual impurity, 7 does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, 8 does not lend at interest or take any profit, withholds his hand from injustice, executes true justice between man and man, 9 walks in my statutes, and keeps my rules by acting faithfully—he is righteous; he shall surely live, declares the Lord God.
Isaiah 55:3-5 English Standard Version
3 Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
4 Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
5 Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,
and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.
2 Corinthians 9:10-11 English Standard Version
10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.
Psalm 120:5-7 English Standard Version
5 Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech,
that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
6 Too long have I had my dwelling
among those who hate peace.
7 I am for peace,
but when I speak, they are for war!
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 English Standard Version
19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”
Psalm 120:3-4 English Standard Version
3 What shall be given to you,
and what more shall be done to you,
you deceitful tongue?
4 A warrior's sharp arrows,
with glowing coals of the broom tree!
1 Timothy 1:12-14 English Standard Version
12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7 English Standard Version
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever." Psalm 136:1 (NLT)
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving day in America. It is the day that we carry on the tradition begun by the Pilgrims in 1621. On that day, they gathered together with their new native American friends to thank the Lord for taking care of, providing for and protecting them.
As I write this morning, I can't help but wonder what was on their minds that day. Those that had survived had seen days of near starvation and truly understood that the food that was before them was directly from God's hand. As they worshipped Him, they did so with hearts that were filled with gratitude for His faithfulness and goodness.
Four hundred years later, as we shop for our turkeys, potatoes, cranberries and all the other edibles that will be upon our tables, are we remembering that our provision still comes from the Lord? Or do we grumble because of the inflated prices and stress as we wonder how we are going to get all the tasks accomplished by the time our family and guests arrive? Is our focus on giving thanks or on parades and football games? Does this day, specifically set aside as a day of praise, mean to us what it should?
We have been through a lot in the last couple of years. Grief and uncertainty have surrounded us and we have found ourselves asking a lot of questions about what might come next.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 admonishes, "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."
It doesn't say to be thankful FOR all circumstances. It is hard to be thankful when we are standing at the grave of a loved one, or when we worry how we are going to pay our rent or mortgage. Yet, each breath we take is a gift from above. Each morsel of food we swallow is provided by His hand, even if we have had to work hard for the money to pay for it. And we can be thankful for each second we had with those who have passed.
If we are blessed to take our place at a heavily laden table tomorrow, or if we only have enough for one meal, let's turn our thoughts toward acknowledging where each item originated. Our loving Creator has chosen to bless us with what it takes to sustain our lives.
As we trust Him to supply what we need in the future, we can praise Him for the moment we are in. No matter where we find ourselves, or what circumstances we find ourselves in, we can, as Paul did, learn to be content. And as the Pilgrims did, we can be thankful for His hand of protection and His provision. God bless.
Daniel 6:25-28 English Standard Version
25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. 26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,
for he is the living God,
his kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion shall be to the end.
27 He delivers and rescues;
he works signs and wonders
in heaven and on earth,
he who has saved Daniel
from the power of the lions.”
28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 English Standard Version
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Psalm 119:169-176 English Standard Version
169 Let my cry come before you, O Lord;
give me understanding according to your word!
170 Let my plea come before you;
deliver me according to your word.
171 My lips will pour forth praise,
for you teach me your statutes.
172 My tongue will sing of your word,
for all your commandments are right.
173 Let your hand be ready to help me,
for I have chosen your precepts.
174 I long for your salvation, O Lord,
and your law is my delight.
175 Let my soul live and praise you,
and let your rules help me.
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,
for I do not forget your commandments.
1 Timothy 4:4-5 English Standard Version
4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
Jeremiah 30:18-22 English Standard Version
18 “Thus says the Lord:
Behold, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob
and have compassion on his dwellings;
the city shall be rebuilt on its mound,
and the palace shall stand where it used to be.
19 Out of them shall come songs of thanksgiving,
and the voices of those who celebrate.
I will multiply them, and they shall not be few;
I will make them honored, and they shall not be small.
20 Their children shall be as they were of old,
and their congregation shall be established before me,
and I will punish all who oppress them.
21 Their prince shall be one of themselves;
their ruler shall come out from their midst;
I will make him draw near, and he shall approach me,
for who would dare of himself to approach me?
declares the Lord.
22 And you shall be my people,
and I will be your God.”
Psalm 119:161-168 English Standard Version
Sin and Shin
161 Princes persecute me without cause,
but my heart stands in awe of your words.
162 I rejoice at your word
like one who finds great spoil.
163 I hate and abhor falsehood,
but I love your law.
164 Seven times a day I praise you
for your righteous rules.
165 Great peace have those who love your law;
nothing can make them stumble.
166 I hope for your salvation, O Lord,
and I do your commandments.
167 My soul keeps your testimonies;
I love them exceedingly.
168 I keep your precepts and testimonies,
for all my ways are before you.
2 Corinthians 4:13-15 English Standard Version
13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
James 1:16-18 English Standard Version
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Psalm 119:153-160 English Standard Version
153 Look on my affliction and deliver me,
for I do not forget your law.
154 Plead my cause and redeem me;
give me life according to your promise!
155 Salvation is far from the wicked,
for they do not seek your statutes.
156 Great is your mercy, O Lord;
give me life according to your rules.
157 Many are my persecutors and my adversaries,
but I do not swerve from your testimonies.
158 I look at the faithless with disgust,
because they do not keep your commands.
159 Consider how I love your precepts!
Give me life according to your steadfast love.
160 The sum of your word is truth,
and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.
Over the past couple of Sundays, I have been writing to you about the five kernels of corn. The story goes that the Pilgrims, during their first year, experienced not only hardships from the voyage over to the new world but also problems when they arrived. It was very difficult for them. They experienced harsh weather, lack of shelter and crop failure. In order to stretch their supplies, they were each given five kernels of corn to live per day.
You are thinking how could anyone live on such meager rations. It was more than just those puny seeds that kept them going. It was their faith in God that kept them going. Faith is the one thing that we can have in our lives that will keep us going when all may seem lost or unattainable.
In chapter eight of the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses writes, “Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
After enduring everything and remaining faithful to the Lord, they were given a new set of friends, the Native Americans, who showed them what, how and when to plant their crops, where to hunt and how to use the natural resources to build their homes.
According to the story, the Pilgrims, after receiving such wonderful blessings and bounty, celebrated with their new friends the first Thanksgiving feast. Before enjoying the food, each Pilgrim received on his or her plate five kernels of corn. Each was encouraged to remember the meaning of those small kernels.
Today, we, too, remember what they went through and also have an opportunity to reflect on our experiences and to be thankful for the blessings and bounty given to us by our Heavenly Father. We should all look at our plates and find the fourth kernel of corn and be thankful for our loved ones given to us by God.
As we think of those who love us, let us also think about those we love. Each of us is a gift to others. We can be such a blessing to one another when we take the time to share whatever we have. It is so natural for us to love one another. That love transcends the blood ties of family. We have the capacity to love and help one another in good times and in bad.
In his final speech in the movie, “The Great Dictator”, Charlie Chaplin said, “You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don't hate! Only the unloved hate - the unloved and the unnatural!”
It is only natural for us to love one another. That love doesn’t come to us by accident. It is a gift that was given to us when God created us. He not only gave us life, but He also gave us the gift of love. Love comes directly from God.
In chapter four of his first epistle, John writes, “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.”
That passage can easily be boiled down to one immutable fact, “God is love.” God loved us so much that He gave us His only son as a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus loved us so much that he allowed evil men to nail him to a cross and willingly died for each and every one of us. He paid our debt of sin once and for all time.
When you think of that sort of love, it is a love that is undeserved and cannot be earned. It can only be given and it is given freely with no conditions or strings attached. It is, what many would say, perfect love. When we love one another and share what we have with others with no expectation of receiving any sort of payment in return, we are perfecting our ability to love one another. Our love for our family, friends and all around us begins to become more Christ-like. This is what we are all called upon to do, love one another.
In the same chapter and letter, John writes, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.”
Jesus, in chapter five of the Gospel of Matthew, takes it a step further by telling us, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
If we are truly His children, we need to truly show the world that we are His children by loving and caring for each other. When you consider all the things we face each and every day, it is getting more and more difficult for people to make ends meet. Food, fuel and clothing prices are going up daily. Many are having to make difficult decisions to go without so that they can make it just another day.
We, as Christians, cannot ignore the plight of those around us and we must reach out in love to others and help wherever and whenever we can. In that way, we are telling the world that God lives in us and His love shines brightly for all to see.
As you sit down and enjoy your Thanksgiving feast and reflect on the fourth kernel of corn, thank God for those who love you and for the opportunity to love those around you. You are loved by so many wonderful people. Acknowledge their love by loving them back and loving others. When you do that, you are truly a child of God and can stand firm in His grace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Isaiah 58:6-7 English Standard Version
6 “Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Psalm 119:145-152 English Standard Version
145 With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord!
I will keep your statutes.
146 I call to you; save me,
that I may observe your testimonies.
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I hope in your words.
148 My eyes are awake before the watches of the night,
that I may meditate on your promise.
149 Hear my voice according to your steadfast love;
O Lord, according to your justice give me life.
150 They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose;
they are far from your law.
151 But you are near, O Lord,
and all your commandments are true.
152 Long have I known from your testimonies
that you have founded them forever.
1 Corinthians 1:4-9 English Standard Version
4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
2 Chronicles 5:11-14 English Standard Version
11 And when the priests came out of the Holy Place (for all the priests who were present had consecrated themselves, without regard to their divisions, 12 and all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, their sons and kinsmen, arrayed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps, and lyres, stood east of the altar with 120 priests who were trumpeters; 13 and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the Lord,
“For he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever,”
the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.
Psalm 119:137-144 English Standard Version
137 Righteous are you, O Lord,
and right are your rules.
138 You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness
and in all faithfulness.
139 My zeal consumes me,
because my foes forget your words.
140 Your promise is well tried,
and your servant loves it.
141 I am small and despised,
yet I do not forget your precepts.
142 Your righteousness is righteous forever,
and your law is true.
143 Trouble and anguish have found me out,
but your commandments are my delight.
144 Your testimonies are righteous forever;
give me understanding that I may live.
Amos 5:4-7 English Standard Version
4 For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel:
“Seek me and live;
5 but do not seek Bethel,
and do not enter into Gilgal
or cross over to Beersheba;
for Gilgal shall surely go into exile,
and Bethel shall come to nothing.”
6 Seek the Lord and live,
lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph,
and it devour, with none to quench it for Bethel,
7 O you who turn justice to wormwood
and cast down righteousness to the earth!
Psalm 119:129-136 English Standard Version
129 Your testimonies are wonderful;
therefore my soul keeps them.
130 The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.
131 I open my mouth and pant,
because I long for your commandments.
132 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
as is your way with those who love your name.
133 Keep steady my steps according to your promise,
and let no iniquity get dominion over me.
134 Redeem me from man's oppression,
that I may keep your precepts.
135 Make your face shine upon your servant,
and teach me your statutes.
136 My eyes shed streams of tears,
because people do not keep your law.
Genesis 17:1-2 English Standard Version
17 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”
Deuteronomy 29:29 English Standard Version
29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Psalm 119:121-128 English Standard Version
121 I have done what is just and right;
do not leave me to my oppressors.
122 Give your servant a pledge of good;
let not the insolent oppress me.
123 My eyes long for your salvation
and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.
124 Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love,
and teach me your statutes.
125 I am your servant; give me understanding,
that I may know your testimonies!
126 It is time for the Lord to act,
for your law has been broken.
127 Therefore I love your commandments
above gold, above fine gold.
128 Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right;
I hate every false way.
"My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20 (NLT)
Every child gets asked the same question at some point in their life. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Do you remember? What was your answer?
From the time children are very small, we begin preparing them to take a role in society. Attempting to ignite ambition in their lives, we introduce them to the various professions such as fire fighters, police, doctors, nurses, teachers, etc. Schools have career days when various professionals visit to describe what their job is like. We want our children's lives to be fulfilling and for them to contribute something positive to the world.
What did you grow up to be? Did you stay true to what you wanted to be as a child or did you change your mind and go into another field?
The big question I have for you is this, "Are you fulfilled? Is your life what you thought it would be or what you wanted it to be?"
I believe we are emphasizing the wrong idea. Rather than focusing on WHAT our children are to become, we need to concentrate on WHO they should be.
Paul was a tent maker. Now, I don't know if he wanted to grow up to be a tent maker, but that was his profession. However, as you read the Scriptures, how often do you read about how happy he was with his job? No. Paul's mind was on Christ and who he was in Christ. He knew that as a follower of Jesus, he was to take on Christ-like qualities. His mind, his body, his focus was to be in line with his Savior.
We all have a place in life that God has chosen for us to occupy. The bulk of my working years were spent as a school secretary in a Christian school. I did all the duties that were required, but I looked at my position as a ministry. I was once told by a superior that my first obligation was to the job I was hired to do. My reply was that I believed God had placed me in that position to minister to the young souls and their parents that frequented my office. I saw very early on that hearts were more important than paperwork.
This world needs police, teachers, plumbers and electricians. Certainly we should choose our vocations wisely, using our talents and interests as guides. My point is that the only way to be truly satisfied in what we choose is to allow the Lord to be present and active so that, besides doing the job, we reach hearts and souls for Him.
Are we teaching our children to pursue their own goals or are we pointing them to their Creator and encouraging them to get to know Him and to follow where He leads? True fulfillment comes through the work of the Spirit. If we want the best for them, then we need to school them in the qualities that truly matter - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. God bless.
Romans 7:14-17 English Standard Version
14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
1 Thessalonians 2:9-12 English Standard Version
9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
Psalm 119:113-120 English Standard Version
113 I hate the double-minded,
but I love your law.
114 You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in your word.
115 Depart from me, you evildoers,
that I may keep the commandments of my God.
116 Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live,
and let me not be put to shame in my hope!
117 Hold me up, that I may be safe
and have regard for your statutes continually!
118 You spurn all who go astray from your statutes,
for their cunning is in vain.
119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross,
therefore I love your testimonies.
120 My flesh trembles for fear of you,
and I am afraid of your judgments.
Psalm 119:105-112 English Standard Version
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
106 I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to keep your righteous rules.
107 I am severely afflicted;
give me life, O Lord, according to your word!
108 Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord,
and teach me your rules.
109 I hold my life in my hand continually,
but I do not forget your law.
110 The wicked have laid a snare for me,
but I do not stray from your precepts.
111 Your testimonies are my heritage forever,
for they are the joy of my heart.
112 I incline my heart to perform your statutes
forever, to the end.
2 Samuel 22:32-43 English Standard Version
32 “For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?
33 This God is my strong refuge
and has made my way blameless.
34 He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
35 He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
36 You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your gentleness made me great.
37 You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip;
38 I pursued my enemies and destroyed them,
and did not turn back until they were consumed.
39 I consumed them; I thrust them through, so that they did not rise;
they fell under my feet.
40 For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
you made those who rise against me sink under me.
41 You made my enemies turn their backs to me,
those who hated me, and I destroyed them.
42 They looked, but there was none to save;
they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them.
43 I beat them fine as the dust of the earth;
I crushed them and stamped them down like the mire of the streets.
1 John 4:13-21 English Standard Version
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Psalm 119:97-104 English Standard Version
97 Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.
101 I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.
102 I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.