Peace Will Guard My Heart

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

I have to admit, I think about potential problems more than I probably should.  Sometimes I catch myself thinking through entire situations that might occur before I snap back to reality.  I try to convince myself it is only my want to be prepared, but in reality it is much more.  It is worry about what others think of me and that somehow I do not measure up to those expectations.  In many of these situations, I know I am doing the right thing, but I do not like the thought that someone else does not recognize this.  Anxiety and pride become entangled into one jumbled mess of irrational feelings.  As I read Chapter 9 of A Confident Heart for the online Bible study I participate in, I felt a breath of reassurance coming from Philippians 4:6-7.

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The author, Renee Swope, breaks down Paul’s promise of peace into three steps (p. 171, A Confident Heart):

  1. Stop worrying – press the pause button on my consuming concerns.
  2. Start praying – open my mouth and tell God what I need.
  3. Keep thanking God – remind my heart of God’s goodness by thanking Him for what He’s done.

Paul’s words breath life into my weary heart.  I crave the peace only God can give.  I yearn for it in my life, yet my thoughts often betray me.  These verses and the three steps it provides, call my heart to return to God.  My mind will turn away from what others think or my perceived shortcomings and begin to once again focus on my God-given priorities and goals.

What is causing you to worry?  Do you worry you are not pleasing those around you?  Maybe you worry what you will do in light of your current difficulties.  Or, perhaps you worry about all the what-ifs in life.  I can relate to all of these, and more.  However, I can also speak to the truth shared in Philippians.  When I stop worrying, pray to God telling him my worries and needs and thank him for His goodness, I begin to feel peace.  Peace that guards my heart and my mind.  The tangents my mind takes into the world of what if begin to be replaced once again with God given thoughts and assurances.

In times of anxiety or depression, when my feelings of inadequacy threaten to overtake me, I gain reassurance from reading the Psalms.  It allows me to see the worry of the psalmist taken from him and be replaced with the peace and joy only God can provide.  One of my favorites is Psalm 138:8, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” There is the promise that God will fulfill His plans for me, because His steadfast love endures forever.  The Psalmist cries out to God to be ever with him, for God created him of his own hands.  What a beautiful and amazing promise!  God WILL fulfill his purpose for us.  He does love us forever.  He will not forsake the work of his hands.  Rest in that promise.  Pray that promise.  Live that promise.  Allow the peace of God, which transcends all earthly understanding to guard your heart and mind.  Let it permeate your innermost being and affect every thought and action.

Given these promises and the simplicity of the steps to achieve this peace, why do we still worry?  Uncertainty and hardship are difficult to release into God’s capable hands.  We forget the truth of Romans 8:28:and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” We may not be able to see or understand the good, but it is there.  It may not be easy, and it may never fully become apparent why these things happen, but God is working for the good of those who love him.  He is trying to further train us in his love and faithfulness, if we allow him.  While the situation causing anxiety may seem insurmountable, there is reason to praise God.  Perhaps the only reason you can think of is our salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus, but what an awesome thing for which we should give thanks!

As we close out the Thanksgiving holiday and are now anxiously preparing for the celebration of our Lord’s birth through Advent, I invite you to stop worrying, start praying and keep thanking God.  Allow the peace of God to guard your heart and mind so that you might be the love of God to others this holiday season.

Because I love the hymns of the season, here is one of my favorites.  Enjoy as your prepare your heart for the celebration of Christ’s birth!

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I Will Give Thanks

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:15-17

It is time for a bit of honesty today.  I really do not want to write this post.  We are in the midst of an incredibly busy time due to a minor disaster in our home.  Without a doubt, I am thankful for all the amazing ways God has provided for us in the past 3 weeks, but I cannot help but feel tired.  Mentally, I am having difficulties keeping everything straight.  Physically, I really just want a “day off”.  Spiritually, I feel like I am in a stage with a bit of uncertainty.  Today, for example, our calendar was filled with things to accomplish.  In the midst of the day, a hiccup: an ingredient I was sure I had for dinner, was not there.  I did not have a plan B.  I was tutoring, my husband was working and taking care of my car getting fixed, so there was no time to come up with a new plan.   This led to a chaotic evening before my husband’s meeting and putting the kids to bed on my own.  As I am sitting here on the other side of the chaos, I can still see all the provision of God throughout the day, but I cannot shake the feeling that I let everyone down.  There it is.  I don’t have what it takes.  It is a recurring doubt that I have to fight off with authority, because the path it leads me down is a dangerous one, full of darkness and fear.

So, as I look back on today and I struggle to fight back the doubts of my ability as a mother and a wife, I am going to give thanks.  I give thanks for the abundant blessings in my life of a home, food, clothes, a healthy family, a loving family, and so many other things I could not even begin to list them all.  However, I also want to give thanks to God for the gifts he has given me.  No, on my own, I am not enough, and there will always be days when I feel like I do not measure up.  However, God has given me talents, personality traits and spiritual gifts that allow me to always feel his presence, and to allow me to hear his guidance when I feel like I have fallen short.

I give thanks he has given me the ability to teach.  God has blessed me with wisdom and knowledge and the ability to clearly share that with others.  Not only has this talent allowed me to be a math teacher, but also to raise my children, lead Bible Studies and impart knowledge in everyday situations.  Through teaching others, I have learned some of the greatest lessons of my life.  These lessons have shown me how to love others better and how to allow others to love me.

I give thanks that he has made me organized.  Organization has allowed me to live out my priorities and allowed me to overcome clutter in my mind.  The clutter in my mind threatens to overcome me at any moment and plunge me into darkness if I do not keep my focus and priorities where they ought to be.  My organization allows me to be effective in all areas of my life.

Perhaps most of all, I thank God for the grace and love he showed me, despite my past failures so that I might extend that same grace and love to others. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 tells us: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” I have fallen short so many times, yet Christ’s death has covered ALL my sin.  The true realization of that has brought me freedom. Not freedom to sin as I wish, but freedom from the shackles of sin.  I can have the peace of God within me instead of the battles that rage in the midst of sin.

As we look to the promises given us in Scripture, we should be confident in our abilities.  Not in a cocky or arrogant way, but knowing that God has given us the strength and ability to glorify him in all things.  I may not change the world in the view of history, but in God’s eyes, each action I take to glorify him changes the world for the better.  Thanks be to God for his abundant blessings!

Give Thanks

A Place of Surrender

I know, O Lord, that the way of human beings is not in their control,
    that mortals as they walk cannot direct their steps.

Jeremiah 10:23

I have been a Christian my entire life.  As a child, I was obedient and hard-working.  As a teenager, I made mistakes, but I generally remained obedient and hard-working. College, pretty much the same story.  After college, as I married and began true adulthood, I was successful and had a life of relative ease.  This continued, to a degree, with the birth of my first child.  While I had to learn to be a mother, and there are always challenges, I got back on my feet rather quickly after my son came into my life.  A couple of years later, a new joy came into our life with the birth of our second son.  With this joy came a level of challenge I had never before experienced.  My now 2 1/2 year old son began to be a greater challenge and my newborn son would cry every evening for hours with seemingly no hope of calming him.  We would try feeding him, rocking him, singing to him, and so many other things, it became mentally, physically and spiritually exhausting.  While there had been a number of challenges I had faced in my past, never had I encountered one that made me feel like such a failure with no hope of overcoming this challenge.  Fortunately, I cried out to God, and in a moment of surrender, my life has forever been changed.

God spoke a truth into my heart.  He made me realize that I am not a failure, but that this was something I could thrive in if I relinquished control to him.  Jeremiah 10:23 tells us, “I know, O Lord, that the way of human beings is not in their control, that mortals as they walk cannot direct their steps.”  We are not in control of what comes to us in this life.  Life is unpredictable.  Human beings are unpredictable.  I had to learn that I was not a failure as a mother because my baby cried without being consoled.  I was not a failure because my toddler was testing his boundaries in an often frustrating manner.  I was not a failure because I felt tired and overwhelmed.  I was not a failure in God’s eyes, only my own.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  God does not intend for us to carry these burdens alone.

I Surrender All

God cares for us so much that he invites us to live in his strength, so that we might find rest for our souls.  I had been chasing every solution I could find in books, online, through friends; anywhere that I could find suggestions.  The truth is, I never did find an answer to my problem.  I did, however, find peace beyond all understanding.  I stopped looking for reasons why and started enjoying the gifts in my life and being faithful to my duties as mother.  I will not say my challenges got any easier, because the opposite was true.  Physical and mental exhaustion set in more than I had ever experienced before.  I was not the perfect example of grace under fire, but my outlook improved.  Even more important, I gained empathy with other mothers.  I truly saw that there is no one solution to raising children.  Most of the judgment I had towards other mothers (which was generally well-meaning advice), was replaced with understanding and encouragement.

I had finally come to a place where I was willing to surrender all to God.  I have had many occasions to do so again since that time.  While I do find myself taking charge again from time to time, I know God wishes us to surrender all to him.  Psalm 50:15 tells us, “call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” God promises us deliverance through our trouble (not necessarily from) and it will bring glory to him.  My constant prayer is that my support and encouragement of other mothers brings him glory and those mothers a sense of peace.  I am no expert, but I have learned a tremendous amount from following God’s will for me as a mother.

Perhaps your struggles are not with motherhood, but you feel overwhelmed and defeated.  Maybe you have surrendered before, but have slipped back into the habit of taking control.  May you find encouragement through him as I have.  Lamentations 3:22-23 promises, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,his mercies never come to an end;they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  My prayer for each of us is that we constantly look to the Lord for our strength and surrender all to him who promises deliverance, who gives us unending love, and whose burden is light.

When Doubt Whispers

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

I sat in my bed, crying silently to myself and to God.  “Why can’t I do this?”  Why am I not smart enough to figure this out?”  I messed up, again.  It felt like my life was a series of repeated events: life is going smoothly, something unforeseen happens to divert us, I try to take complete control and end up messing something up.  It seems I will never learn. I mentally beat myself up and question my worth as a wife, mother, daughter, friend and a person.  This can quickly escalate into an identity crisis of epic proportions, which leads to me questioning everything and leaves me unable to move forward.  Have you been there too?  Has doubt crept into your mind, leaving you questioning your worth?  In recent years, I have learned to not allow the doubts that invade my mind to define my worth.  These doubts are based on temporary circumstances, and while they may tell a part of my story, they do not define who I am.

Instead of allowing doubt to overwhelm our thoughts, we need to be prepared to replace them with God’s truth and promises.  God knows we do not have what it takes to do it on our own.  This is why “he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) God knows we cannot earn salvation of our own accord, so he sent his son to pay the ransom for our sinful nature.  This allows us to step out of the muck of doubt into the freedom of Jesus’ redemption.  Not only did Jesus die for our salvation, God sent the Holy Spirit to guide our ways.  “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26) What a beautiful gift.  Not only did God wipe the slate clean in regards to sin with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but he sent an intercessor to place the law of the Spirit in our hearts to guide us and give us strength.

God did not want us to live in constant doubt of ourselves.  God knows our weaknesses and works within us with his strength to show his glory.  In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul tells us But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  Paul does not say that God makes us powerful or perfect when we believe.  Rather, Paul shares that God shows His power through our weaknesses so that God’s glory may be revealed through us, not only to others, but continually to each of us as believers.

This gives us an amazing promise.  We no longer have to worry about who we are in our weaknesses.  We do not have to let them define us or determine our future.  No, God has promised us an identity in Christ.  We are loved, cared for, significant, secure in the present and the future, and the list could go on.  The Bible is filled with promises from God as to our identity.  As sons and daughters born of God, we have an extraordinary inheritance.  We only have to take hold of the truth and allow it to be poured into our hearts.  Only then can we overcome fear and doubt. For they will always be there, waiting to try to overcome us.  As 1 Peter 5:8-9 tells us, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” God is telling us to be alert to the attacks from the enemy.  Do not allow yourself to be of unclear mind.  Do not feel alone in your resistance, for many in the family of believers (both past and present) have suffered similarly.

As I read through God’s Word, I discover who I am as a child of God.  It paints a picture of a woman who is accepted (or adopted) as a child of God, friend of Christ, and a member of Christ’s body.  I am secure in all of the promises that come with being a child of God.  I am significant.  My life and purpose matters to God and is uniquely made for me to serve him.

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Created by Ginny Blankenship with chart from
Renee Swope’s A Confident Heart, pp. 107-108.

If you hear doubt and fear whispering you are not good enough, turn to God’s Word to refute these lies.  As Jesus demonstrated when he was tested in the wilderness, God’s Word is a powerful weapon against temptation and lies.  Each time you feel your thoughts turning to doubt and fear, turn to some of the verses listed above, or use any of the numerous resources that help you find your true identity in Christ Jesus.  God’s Word becomes a trusted friend, encouraging you and giving you strength to carry on. Will you join me in replacing our doubt with the truth of who we are through Christ?

Thy Word

Moving Forward

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.

1 Chronicles 16:11

I could share many stories with you today.  In my past there is so much I am not proud of and a number of unfortunate things that happened to me.  I could share my story of redemption, which is great indeed.  There is both sadness and joy beyond what words can express in my past. That is not my focus here.  I want to share the truth of 1 Chronicles 16:11, “Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always,” and apply it to my current struggles.  I know that in the times I must fully look to the Lord’s strength is when I am going to find victory over darkness.  I want to seek his face always, especially when I feel incapable.

As a mother of three young children, soon to be four, my life is filled with both joy and frustration.  Raising children and caring for a home is not for the faint of heart.  It is hard work.  Here is the problem: I long to be a strong, godly mother, yet I feel so often like I fall flat on my face.  Perhaps you feel that way too?  I find myself constantly pulled between the want to have an easier life and the knowledge that easier is not really what I should be searching for.  Do not get me wrong, there are certain measures I must take to ensure I have the focus and energy to be the best mother, wife, and person I can be, but if I am honest with myself, I am often looking for a magic cure to “fix” all the problems I face.  I am raising and living with human beings.  There is no quick fix to the big problems we face.  In fact, it is only loving, consistent discipline that has brought me where I am today.  Why would I expect different for my children and my family?  This is why I am moving forward.

I am no longer going to live in the muck of everyday.  I am going to lovingly do my job.  I am going to care for my home and family.  I am going to do it to the best of my ability.  I am not going to let the actions of others, especially my children, determine my attitude.  I am going to remember that correction is necessary, but so is grace, forgiveness and love.  I am not going to let the actions of others determine my worth.  Comparisons are a trap that always leads to disappointment.  Instead, I am going to rely on what God intends for ME to be.  Not my neighbor, sister, friend, or anyone else.  I am also going to extend them the same grace.  I am not going to busy myself judging the lives of others from afar.  When needed, I will be there to support them, not blame them.  I am going to stop worrying that I am not the best cook, housekeeper, crafty mom, or anything else I see from others in a similar position.  God put me here because I am uniquely equipped to do this job.

I do not think I am a bad mother.  I do not sit around beating myself up over every decision I have made.  I have mostly learned that lesson.  When life gets difficult,  I will often wonder what I am doing wrong.  I should be using my God-given strength to get through the day, week, month, or even longer.  He is there.  He has proven this to me over and again.  An easy life does not mean you are doing everything right.  More likely you have grown complacent with the status quo. No more does a hard life mean you are doing anything wrong.  Life is hard sometimes.  I cannot give all the reasons why, but I do know I have gained extraordinary strength and knowledge through those times.  Through it all, I am learning to find peace in the midst of it all.  What a gift!

Perhaps you are in the midst of a struggle that leaves you wondering what happened or how you got there.  I speak to you not as one who has mastered the art of gracefully dealing with trial, but one who is seeking God’s strength to better do this.  I want to live 1 Chronicles 16:11.  I will “look to the LORD and his strength”.  I will “seek his face always.”  God is there.  Even though it may not feel like he is, our feelings are deceiving.  God’s truth never deceives.  He has promised He is there.  Let’s turn to seek His face again.  Will you join me?

Priceless

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Psalm 36:7

I love reading the Psalms.  Something about the musical language conveys the depth of emotion that comes along with life.  Today’s verse from Psalm 36:7 shares David’s understanding of God’s love.  It says, “how priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” It does not get much more concise than this, yet the verse is full of meaning.  Today we will take a quick look at the verse and some of the characteristics of God we learn from this verse.  I invite you to read and find others I did not list.

The first part of the verse states, “how priceless if your unfailing love, O God!”  The word priceless is the first word that drips with meaning.  The technical definition of priceless is “having a value beyond all price; invaluable.” This is certainly true of God’s love, for we all fall short of his glory (Romans 3:23), yet he offers salvation for us still.  Some synonyms for priceless are: irreplaceable, precious, costly, incomparable.  There is nothing in this world that compares to the love of God.  He gives this love freely and without reservation.  God’s love for us is quite costly, even if it is free for us, for he had to sacrifice the blood of Jesus, who was without sin, in order to redeem us.  It is more precious than anything of this world, and certainly cannot be replaced by anything of this world.

David also describes God’s love as unfailing.  Perhaps the most applicable definition is inexhaustible or endless.  Even more than a love of a parent for a child, God continues to love us for all time and despite our sinfulness.  This is a love that seems beyond comprehension at times, but God has shown me to be true over and again.

The second part of Psalm 36:7 tells us “people take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” The mental picture this conveys is one of protection and loving care.  God’s wings are outstretched, waiting for us to step towards him, to rely on him, to live in the loving care he has promised.

As you continue along this week, my prayer for each of you is be embraced by the love of God and to use that love as fuel to accomplish those things in God’s will for you.  It may not be an easy task, but I can say without hesitation that God is there.

Coming Back to the Well

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”

John 4:28-29

Blogging has been a particularly difficult task of late.  To keep from boring you with details, sleep has been hard found over the past couple months, which means so have well put together thoughts.  Fatigue also brings about other not-so-nice qualities, namely frustration and impatience.  Raising children is hard to begin with; throw in endless sleep deprived nights, it seems downright impossible.  There are many days when I feel worthless as a mother and a wife because of a mental breakdown.  There are times when I look up to God and ask why and how.  I am sure many of you have been there, whether with children or another difficult trial or task.  John Chapter 4 gives us a picture of a Samaritan woman who likely struggled with feeling worthless.  The story tells us this woman at the well had five husbands and was now living with a man who was not her husband.  Those around her must have been talking feverishly about this woman’s situation and her shame was evident given the circumstances under which she met Jesus at the well.  However, Jesus purposely met this woman at the well.  He would speak truth into her life, which in turn this woman would share with those around her.

The women at the well had returned each day to gather water at the hottest part of the day to avoid the stares and the hushed conversations.  Meeting Jesus that day introduced this young woman to water that will fill her thirst for eternity.  When this woman realized the promises Jesus was making, she ran, ‘leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”’  She saw that Jesus offered to be her savior despite everything she ever did.  God also makes that same promise to us.  Our source of living water wants us to turn to Him, no matter how many times or how bad we have screwed up.  He wants us to turn to Him for redemption, so that we might use his strength to overcome the difficulties before us.

Will my children let me sleep in the coming weeks?  That question is still open.  However, I do know that I can control my reactions, even through fatigue.  In my quiet times, God speaks to my heart about the truth of the situation.  I can find peace in the midst of frustration and a bit more patience in the midst of chaos.  I pray that in the coming weeks, even if things seems overwhelming, that we look to our source of living water for rejuvenation and strength.  God’s promises to us are true.  He sent a Messiah for us.  Our works do not earn it, only our belief.  Praise God for such an amazing gift!

You Can Do It!

Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.

Psalm 119:105

Next week begins a new online Bible Study (this time on A Confident Heart by Renee Swope), so Thursday Blog Hop will officially start again.  I love the focus and study it brings.  This time, we were challenged with an impromptu blog post and were asked: “How have you used the time in between our studies to draw even closer to God? Did you learn something you’d like to share with us?”  This was actually a fairly easy question to answer, and for once, I feel like I have achieved a goal I set out to do at the beginning of the year.  Generally, in between studies I take a break from blogging and sometimes this effects my time in God’s Word.  I promised myself I would continue blogging at least once a week in between and continue to dive into God’s Word.  The result: most weeks I continued to blog twice a week and I feel like I haven’t missed a beat as far as studying my Bible.

None of this is to boast.  Actually, just the opposite.  I would like to recognize the fact that there are many around me encouraging me so that I might share that encouragement with others.  I have had many great resources to use in order to continue studying.  All it took was a change of heart.  I have to admit, sometimes that is the hardest part for me, but this time I trusted God and stepped forward.  The result?  I have been less frustrated and feel less out of control in my life.  Have my circumstances changed?  Not really.  But I am able to be continually reminded of my blessings.  My need for Christ is in front of me so that I might continue to learn as I teach my children.  I am reminded of the need to share Christ with others, not just at church or in situations where I am sure the person is open to it.  Psalm 119:105 tells us “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”  Without God’s Word, I can sometimes feel like I am stumbling along in the dark, trying to find my way.

So, do you have something you are trying to do, but it seems impossible?  I have been there.  Let this be the sign that you can do it, through Christ.  It may not be easy, but you can prevail.  Figure out what your first step is and take it.  Remember to check in with God frequently.  Allow his words to guide you.  You may be amazed at the change in perspective it brings.

Until next week, I pray you will grasp God’s promises with both hands.

Building Blocks

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Deuteronomy 6:5-7

Before I get into this blog post, I most post a disclaimer.  The words I post are lessons God is teaching me and I am by no means an expert.  There are many better qualified to write this post, but God has placed this on my heart, so I will faithfully obey.  I hope that you find a word from God too.

Many, myself included, are baffled about how to teach our children about God.  The Bible is such a huge text with intricacies which theologians still argue over.  There are so many complex issues that seem far beyond our children that it seems overwhelming to even begin.  Even those who have volunteered to teach Sunday School or work with children teaching them about God may simply throw ideas out there with the hope it will stick.  While it is true that some of it will stick, understanding what God tells us about how to train our children is an important starting point for teaching our children about God.

In Deuteronomy 6:5-7, God’s commandments are shared with the Israelites with this instruction: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” This verse gives adults some important guidance when teaching our children.  First, we are commanded to love God with our whole being and to place the commandments on our hearts.  This love should be obvious in our words and our actions so that those around us, even the children, will begin to recognize the effect God’s love should have.  Next it commands us to talk about it when we sit at home, when we walk along the road, when we lie down and what we get up.  Note it says talk, not have intense theological discussion.  This means we, as adults, (parents or otherwise) should be familiar enough with the text of the Bible to be able to talk about it with our children.

How do we talk about the Bible and God with our children?  First, read the stories and text of the Bible and ask your children some basic questions.  Who are the characters in this story?  What did they do?  What did this story tell us to do?  The questions will differ based on what you are reading, but the questions should be for basic comprehension of what they are reading.  This allows the child to start to look for key ideas in the story and also to begin applying it to their lives.

Second, begin to lead the child further into the story or passage.  Ask questions like, what does this story tell us about God?  What does this story tell us about humans (people)?  Does this story tell me anything about how I should act?  If you are working with younger children or those who are a bit reluctant to walk through the text, you may have to lead them a bit.  For example, in the story of Noah, we see Noah’s obedience, but this may not be apparent to the children at first.  Look at the passages where God gives instructions, then highlight the fact that Noah did it.  They may not call this obedience, but they will begin to put this together.  Then you can begin to talk about ways to be obedient in their lives and perhaps even God’s promises when we are obedient.

Do not overwhelm yourself.  It is taking you a lifetime to learn God’s Word and the same is true for children.  They can, however, begin with great foundational understanding that will help them make decisions appropriate to their age.  These building blocks allow the child to begin to put together a picture of God and His role in their life.

Prayer for the Enslaved

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Ephesians 6:18

Today, I am taking a moment from my normal posts to share a prayer for those enslaved throughout the world, including the United States.  Proverbs 31 Ministries has partnered with A21 Campaign to pray for an end to human trafficking throughout the world.  Lysa TerKeurst started 31 days of prayers several days ago, and the Online Bible Study I participate in challenged us to share a prayer on one of the days listed.  Today is day 12 which asked us to pray for implementation of just legislation.  They suggested using the verses Proverbs 8:15, Proverbs 29:4, and Nehemiah 9:13.  Here is my prayer.  I invite you to share your prayer in the comments section here if you feel comfortable, or look further into this campaign to see how you can help in other ways.

Dearest God,

You ask us to come before you in prayer and today I pray for your children who are enslaved across the world.  Please give governments throughout the world the eyes to see this injustice and the wisdom to enforce current legislation when they encounter human trafficking and further the wisdom and sight to create new legislation where it is needed to free the people currently enslaved and those who have the potential to become enslaved in the future.

I praise you Lord for giving us the ability to help in large and small ways to bring justice in some small way to this world.  Thank you for the opportunity to pray for our fellow human beings and I pray that I have the heart to see those ways in which you want me to act to help solve this problem.

In Your Name I pray, Amen.

Thank you for reading this prayer, and I hope it spurs you to come before God and ask what you can do also.

Below are the verses mentioned, but I invite you to go to your Bible and find others relating to this subject also.

Proverbs 8:15 – By me kings reign and rulers issue decrees that are just;

Proverbs 29:4 – By justice a king gives a country stability, but those who are greedy for[a] bribes tear it down.

Nehemiah 9:13 – You came down on Mount Sinai; you spoke to them from heaven. You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good.