REPLACING “WHAT IF’S” WITH “WHAT IS”

“I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” – Psalm 34:4

I often find myself worrying about “what if” questions.

What if this happens, or that? What if this situation doesn’t get better, or that situation gets worse?  What if things don’t work out as planned?

Recently I asked many of these questions as my 16-year old son battled illness for several months. Due to complications from an auto-immune condition (CRMO), a sinus infection led to months of extended illness for him.  Despite being an otherwise healthy, strong and athletic young man, his auto-immune disease and compromised immune system were working against him, causing his body to “catch everything going around” his doctor said.  He was sick with one viral illness after another, running fevers and becoming weak. Eventually the auto-immune condition itself flared up.  When the first viral illnesses set in, we were worried, but thought surely he’d get well soon.  However, as illnesses continued for weeks and then months, and his condition worsened, I worried about many “what if’s”:

What if he doesn’t get well soon? What if he’s sick for the rest of the semester, or entire school year? Will he be able to play baseball in the spring?  What if his grades suffer?  He’ll be applying for college next year and this will affect his GPA.  Oh, no, college! What if he’s sick in college?  How will he manage then? If he continues to be sick, will he be able to go to college? What if this affects him as an adult?  The jobs he wants are physical – construction, engineering or agriculture.  What if illness prevents him from being able to do his job?

This was all too much.  My “what if’s” were getting way ahead of things – worrying about my son’s ability to work as an adult when he’s just a sophomore in high school! I needed to pray. As I prayed, the Spirit of the Lord began to reassure me, not by answering all my “what if’s,” but by reminding me of “what is” –  bringing the following scriptures to mind:

Jeremiah 29:11    God created Jackson with His own plans and purposes for him, plans not to harm him, but to prosper him.   God knows who He created Jackson to be, and He has good plans for Jackson’s life!

Psalm 139   Before Jackson was a physical being, He was conceived in thought by God, and then intricately formed in accordance with those plans by the God of the universe.  God knows what is going on with Jackson, for God knows his strengths and weaknesses.  God intricately formed Jackson with the skills, abilities, talents and gifts to become the person and do the work God has planned for him – whatever that work might be.

Deuteronomy 31:6, 8    God is with us in this situation.   The Bible clearly says the Lord will never leave us or forsake us.  He doesn’t pull away from us.  We pull away from Him.  Even when we are too bogged down or overcome by a situation to sense the Lord’s presence, it is there.  Sometimes God reveals Himself directly.  Other times He reveals Himself through the words and actions of others, leading them to act on His behalf to give us comfort and encouragement.

 Romans 8:28   God works all things for good.   Challenges and set-backs can be the result of consequences for our actions or part of God’s plan for us.  Regardless the reason, when we give our situation to the Lord, and trust in Him, we can be reassured that God will work through our situation for good.  We may see results immediately, or maybe not for years to come.  The good might be for us to witness, and often I think God works in ways that we will never know.  Knowing God can harvest good from even the worst of times helps us tolerate the tough times better, and more importantly, enables us to continue finding joy and strength in the Lord.

Matthew 6:25-34 Do not borrow worries from the future.   God’s got this today!  

Being reminded of these Biblical truths changed the anxiousness of my “what if’s” to assuredness of “what is.”

What is: God knows the plans and purposes He has for my child. Illness may seem to be a set-back, but it’s part of who Jackson is, and God knows all about it.  Dealing with illness has shown me much about Jackson’s character – his ability to persevere, be strong, and overcome discouragement and disappointment.  God knows what He wants of Jackson’s future, and surely he has a good future planned because He has gifted Jackson with many interests, skills, abilities and talents.  It will all come together as it’s supposed to if we trust God, allow His will to be done, and follow the paths He puts before us.

Matthew 6:25-34  says:

25 (A)“Therefore I tell you, (B)do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 (C)Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. (D)Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his (E)span of life?[a] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, (F)even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, (G)O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For (H)the Gentiles seek after all these things, and (I)your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But (J)seek first (K)the kingdom of God and his righteousness, (L)and all these things will be added to you.

34 (M)“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.  

 Regardless of what causes our worries or anxieties, we can be assured that if God provides for a single blade of grass, tends to the sparrows, and gives beauty to fleeting lilies of the field, then surely He will provide and take care of us, too! When God says not to be anxious about tomorrow, we can trust that He knows what we are going through today, and He’s saying, I’ve got this. Don’t be anxious about all the “what if’s.”  Be assured with “what is.” 

Yes, as Psalm 34:4 says above, I sought the Lord and he delivered me from my fears by replacing my “what if’s” with “what is.”  Praise be to God. 🙂

Are worrisome “what if’s” on your mind?

How can God’s promises and truths from the Bible help when we feel worried or anxious?

Do you have particular verses that help you when you feel anxious or worried?

Need to know “what is” for you?    Go to www.BibleGateway.com and enter keywords that address what you’re feeling or what you need. i.e. hope, fear, plans, purpose, courage, strength, joy     Then read through the verses that come up and take note of the verses that seem to speak to you. Those are the “what is” assurances that God is sharing with you.

May the assurances of God’s truths strengthen your faith, fill you with hope, and bring you peace.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen. 

Renee Myers 1-31-17 (revised 2-2-17)

Not for Christians only.

If we put aside race, religion, politics, and issues that divide, I think many would agree that what we seek most from the world around us is love, respect, grace and peace.   If we get back to basing our hearts, thoughts and actions on those things, we can move forward in a way that will promote what I’m thinking of as Civil Unity.

Civil means applying to individual citizens and citizens as a whole.  It also speaks to public order, being peaceable in behavior, mannerly and polite.

Unity is about oneness, harmony.

Civil Unity speaks to all people about striving for public order, being peaceable and mannerly with others for oneness among us.

Civil Unity doesn’t mean we have to agree on all the issues. Differences of opinion can be good, and ultimately bring us to the best outcomes; but for that to happen, we have to approach things with an attitude of love and respect, showing grace and seeking peace.

Doing so requires something our society and many leaders lack – humility.  Humility is something I have to work on every day, for my human tendency is to be about self.  Humility teaches us to put others first, serve others, put others’ needs ahead of our own, and being more about the greater good of our community and the world around us than what we personally want from the world.

When we stop trying to make ours the loudest voices heard, we can listen to what others have to say, too, and listen with respect.

When we can offer grace to others by letting go of anger, frustration and personal grudges(those things hurt us more than the other person), we will reduce the tensions around us and create an environment that allows everyone to find their place and have a voice.  Thus, bringing about peace.

This will never be a perfect world, but if we humble ourselves and strive for civil unity among us, we can make it a better world.

Yes, I write from a Christian heart, and these are common themes in Christianity for they are what Jesus taught, how He lived and why Christians believe He died for us.  However, even those who do not claim Jesus as Savior and Lord, can benefit from His teachings.  We all benefit from those who live with love and respect for others.

Borrowing from the words of Paul:  Grace and peace, for all.

NOTE: If you would like to learn what Jesus taught, I encourage you to read about Him in the Bible, perhaps starting with the Book of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John (the first four books of the New Testament).  Some Bibles have red print indicating the words Jesus spoke.  You can read the Bible online at Bible Gateway.  They also have a great app!

My message at Waltonwood today will be about Christian Unity (for Ecumenical Sunday).

This is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Jan 18-Jan 25).  It is perfect timing in response to all the division happening in our country and around the world – especially in light of recent events surrounding the Presidential Inauguration here in the United States.

Are we still the “United” States?  Even our elected officials can’t come together for the goal of common good.  More than 60 stated their intent to boycott the Inauguration to express their disapproval of Donald Trump as President.

As Christians, we are called together in unity.  Paul warned against division amongst us in 1 Corinthians 1:10-18.

10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Jesus prayed for our unity in John chapter 17 (The High Priestly Prayer). Twice Jesus prayed that we (His believers, followers) would be one, just as He and the Father are one.  Unity.

 

In this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, I speak not just to Americans, but to our brothers and sisters around the world. With readers in the Philippines, Europe, Africa, Iraq, Iran, Australia, New Zealand, India, Asia, Canada, and all other countries, let us join hands with Christians around the world.

Quote by JK Rowling: “We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” (Harry Potter and the Goblet of  Fire – #4)

(We are only as strong as our weakest links.  We should be lifting others up, helping them along.  When others succeed, we all succeed.)

Quote by Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers – All for one and one for all, united we stand, divided we fall.

Quote from John Lennon’s lyrics from the song “Imagine”:

Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for, and  no religion, too.  Imagine all the people living life in peace.  You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.  I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.

(He isn’t saying there shouldn’t be any religion at all.  He’s saying religion shouldn’t interfere with faith, looking to the day when we are united in faith.)

Quote of A W Tozer, The Pursuit of God:

“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.”

How can we show and share the love of Christ when there are divisions among us?

Unity begins with us.

May we, as Christians, put aside religious denominations, political affiliations, and nationalities to unite in our Christian beliefs and the teachings of Jesus, to model the practice of coming together in unity to promote love, respect, justice, mercy and compassion.  We pray these things for the glory and honor of Jesus, the Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Waking up early, while the morning was still dark, I was tempted to sleep a little longer, but then my mind jumped to the day ahead of me.  Thoughts started coming quickly – I can’t go back to sleep because I have to wake Jackson early for his semester exam, but he was sick last night, so if still sick, I’ll have to contact school.  Zach’s coming home today! Clean his room and get it ready for his arrival.  Doctor appointment for Jackson at 11:50.  Finish Christmas decorations. Clean house.  Puppy proof house for Marley (Zach’s dog).  Prepare food – lunch, bake cookies, cut up fresh fruit…what to have for dinner?  Zach will be home for dinner!  Will it be a problem if Jackson is too sick to take exam today?  I hope the doctor can help him…

Then my alarm went off.  Ugh. It was tempting to snuggle down in the covers and give myself snooze time.  Instead, I hit the snooze button and used the time to pray.

Good morning, dear Heavenly Father.  Please be with me in the day ahead.  Help me accomplish the things that need to be done.  What do You want me to do today? Your plans are more important than mine. Please be with Zach as he drives home from college.  Please be with Jackson to help him get well.  I pray he’ll be well enough to take his exam this morning. I pray also for Rex, that he can get to the doctor about his cough.  Please comfort Sheryl and her family after recent losses of three loved ones, and help them through Christmas.  Please also be with Colby’s family (Jackson’s 15-year old friend who recently “finished his race” after battling brain tumors).  Lord, what an inspiration they’ve been, choosing to live life through faith in You, not bow down to the darkness of death. I pray they will find joy in Christmas while still grieving their loss.  How painful it must be to be missing a child at Christmas.  Yes, Lord, please be with them.  Lord, I pray for all who are sick, hurting, healing, struggling, that Your presence will bless them and make a difference in their lives, that they will be drawn closer to You.  I pray for my parents and our families, …  Then the “ripples” sound of my snooze alarm called me out of prayer and into the present moment.  My mind had transitioned from planning to praying.   I was ready to get out of bed and begin my day.

It turned out that Jackson was still very sick (he has the flu and Rex has bronchitis), so while he slept, I sat down with a cup of hot tea.   Beautiful colors were spreading across the sky in the twilight of dawn. I checked my phone for my daily “Verse of the Day” from Bible Gateway.  It was perfect:

(Mary’s Song of Praise) And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.  (Luke 1:46-47,49)

Reading the words of praise from Mary, I was inspired by her faith.  After after finding herself with child out of wedlock (as a virgin, no less!) putting her engagement and future at great risk, she was still so full of faith that she wanted to magnify the Lord and praise His holy name!  Wow. The Lord reminded me that He has done great things for me, too, and I’ve witnessed His greatness in other people’s lives, also.  Being reminded of God’s goodness, especially at Christmas when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,  gave me confidence for the prayers I just prayed, and hope for whatever is to come.

Brilliant colors of orange, pink and purple lit up sky ahead of the rising sun.  It was a beautiful morning, and surely would be a blessed day.  Magnify the Lord, and praise His holy name, indeed!

CHRISTmas blessings,

Renee

To read more of the story of Mary, or read about the first Christmas when Jesus was born, go to http://www.BibleGateway. com     Search for Mary, or read about the birth and life of Jesus in the Gospels – Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

 

 

Yep, it’s Christmas, so it’s that time of year again!  Time to be Candy Cane Crusaders for Christ!

Bothered by the fact that businesses were forbidding employees to say, “Merry Christmas,” I decided to make sure that I said, “Merry Christmas” to them. However, just saying “Merry Christmas” wasn’t enough.  Remembering the Candy Cane Poem that tells how the candy cane was created to be symbolic of Jesus, I decided to start handing out mini candy canes wherever I went.

Several years and thousands of candy canes later, I’m still handing out candy canes and saying, “Merry Christmas!”  Others are doing the same!

Every year I stock up on boxes of mini candy canes, say a prayer that they will bless those who receive them, and then arm myself by filling a quart-size baggie that I keep handy in my purse. I hand candy canes out to those I see throughout my day while saying, “Merry Christmas!”

The first candy canes I gave out this year were to two entertaining little boys while we waited in line. (I discreetly asked the mom if it was ok to give them candy canes before doing so.)  Yesterday I gave a candy cane to an older lady who was beside me at a cash register.  We were buying Christmas decorations.  She’d been very cheerful and seemed to be enjoying the holidays, so as she turned to go, I said, “Excuse me, ma’am.  Would you like a candy cane?”  I expected a big, cheerful smile, but instead she looked like she might cry.  Then she said, “Yes, please.  I really needed that.  Can I give you a hug?”   She gave me a big hug right there at the registers while she thanked me and I said, “Merry Christmas.”  Then she smiled again and left with her purchases in tow.  When I turned back to the register to pay for my things, I saw that the people around us had been watching.  They just looked at me, not saying anything at first.  Then someone said, “That was really nice of you.  You really made a difference for her.”   I gave everyone else candy canes, too.  They were delighted!

Who can you give candy canes to?  The people who take your order and serve you at restaurants and drive-thru service, and people at registers.  When they give you your receipt, you give them a candy cane and say, “Merry Christmas!”  Candy canes are great for coffee baristas, the person who bags your groceries,  for cheering up cranky children and grumpy grown-ups.  They’re also a good reward when you catch kids being good!  I give candy canes to friends, strangers, whoever I run into throughout my day.

Often I attach the Candy Cane Poem to the candy canes I give out. The poem is a great way to share the story of Jesus.  I’ve prepared thousands of candy canes with the poem for children’s charities and gift baskets for shut-ins.  I’ve also filled a large zip-lock bag with them to put in our newspaper box with a sign attached that says, “Help yourself” as a way to offer them to passers-by, the mailman, etc.  I also keep a basket of candy canes with the poem by the front door to give to delivery people and anyone who stops by.

Look at the Candy Cane,  What do you see?

Stripes that are red, Like the blood shed for me.

White is for my Savior, Who is sinless and pure!

“J” is for Jesus, my Lord, that’s for sure!

Turn it around and a staff you will see,

Jesus, the Shepherd, born for you and me!

What do you think?  Would you like to be a Candy Cane Crusader for Christ?

If you’d like to use the Candy Cane Poem, just send me an email and I’ll reply with a document that has copies of the poem ready to cut out like small tags.

How are you giving out candy canes?  I’d love to hear from you!

CHRISTmas blessings to all!

 

 

 

TO THE YOUNG PEOPLE OF ‘MERICA:

I am sorry for the way things are in our country. When I was your age, the future looked good, promising and bright. The only worries I had were for my own personal goals.  Our nation seemed to be solid and secure, a place that offered promise for young people pursuing their hopes and dreams.  We had leaders who set good examples, not just in politics, but also in business, entertainment, sports, churches, schools and in communities.  We were starting to see the coming together of races as the nation moved on from racial tensions.  Christianity was still an important part of the American society; and the moral fabric of our nation was still intact, not yet eaten by moths of disrespect, arrogance, greed, self-serving attitudes, and other ills that plague our nation today.

I am sorry that mistakes made by my generation are leaving great problems for you, and those behind you, to solve and fix.

I am sorry that, when asked about the future, young people say they are worried. They are concerned about serious issues posed by both sides of politics, not feeling confident about either candidate running for President.  I am sorry that, when you should be looking toward your future with hope and promise, you feel worry, concern and discouragement.

I pray for you. I pray that God will raise up great leaders, thinkers and doers from among you.  I pray you will be a generation who learns from the mistakes we have made, and works together to find solutions and ways to turn things around.

I pray that God will bring forth for you good leaders, teachers, parents, family and friends – and Presidents! – to inspire, encourage, and help you along. I also pray your generation will find its way to God and church.

In this world of change, violence and instability, there is only one constant, one true hope, and that is our hope in God through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Did you see that word “Savior”?  Only Jesus can save us from the sins of our past and be our hope in times of injustice and unrest.  God loves you and those around you.  Thousands of years ago He started making a way for you to follow when He set aside a Holy nation and taught them how to live together in righteousness.  He sent His only Son to live among us to teach us how to love and live before offering Himself as a sacrifice for the sins we had committed, promising salvation and life everlasting to all who come to Him and claim Him as their Savior and Lord. All the Lord asks of us is that we live righteously for Him, putting Him before all else, turning away from sins, and loving others as He loves us.

With God on our side, the future is still promising and bright! My hopes and prayers are for you, the young people of America.   Have hope for the future, and trust in God.

May God bless and keep you.  🙂

The Lord loves the just (righteous) and will not forsake his faithful ones.  – Psalm 37:28

For Biblical inspiration and teaching, go to http://www.BibleGateway.com

This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.  – Psalm 118:24

I took the month of August off from leading Bible study so I could take a breather before school starts and focus on some other tasks. However, unexpected things keep coming up, instead!  I haven’t had a breather and I have not gotten to do one thing I planned, but you know what?  I’m not frustrated.  I’m thankful!   Because of the break, I’ve been available for the other things that came up – the things that God intended for me to do.  That makes me happier than fulfilling my own plans.

This is the day the Lord has made, for sure, and as my dear friend Kendra quotes from her Mom:

This is the day the Lord has made, so don’t mess it up!           LOL.

Praise be to God for each day, especially the ones that go His way instead of mine! Amen.  🙂 

Just when it seemed like the world was all doom and gloom from politics, violence, and other troubling stories in the news, I spent a couple of hours at school and got to entertain a happy, healthy, playful sweet 17-month old boy (so cute, loved him!), and witnessed an entire football team and many other students enthusiastically take time to sign a card for a classmate battling cancer.  Many of them took a few minutes to say hi to me and ask how their friend is doing.  All were happy, friendly, respectful, polite, and full of positive energy.  Playing with my new little toddler friend and watching teens pursue their interests and dreams at pre-season workouts helped me see God’s goodness in them.  God is raising up new generations of kids and young people whom He has created with His plans and purposes (Jeremiah & Psalm 139), people who can be the leaders, thinkers, innovators, and inspirations for our future!  God hasn’t lost hope in us yet, so we shouldn’t lose hope either!

Instead, let’s invest ourselves in children and young people to help them bring about more of God’s goodness in our world.

Jesus said, “Let the children come unto me,”…And he took them up in his arms, put his hands on them, and blessed them.  – Mark 10:14-16 (paraphrased) 

To learn more of what the Bible says about children, go to http://www.BibleGateway.com    Use keyword “children”.

Did you know studies show that families who eat meals together regularly have children who are better students who are more likely to be engaged in school activities, and less likely to get into trouble, smoke, drink or do drugs?  I was recently told by a retired educator that a study revealed regular family meals were found to be important to the success of National Merit Scholarship winners.  These findings are true, especially if dad is at the table, too!

The majority of men in prisons grew up without a father.

Studies also show that fatherless children are more likely to be violent, abusive, and have criminal tendencies.

Children with a father who commits violence, abuse and crimes are more likely to commit criminal acts, too.

The impact of the father is especially important when it comes to raising men of faith.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  – Ephesians 6:4

A study in Switzerland showed that if the father attends church regularly, 2/3-3/4 of the children are likely attend regularly as adults, regardless of the involvement of the mother.

If the father attends church irregularly, or occasionally, 1/2-2/3 of the children can be expected to also attend occasionally, regardless of the devotion of the mother.

If the mother is a faithful woman who attends church regularly and is active in church, but the father does not go to church, only one child in 50 is expected to become a regular churchgoer in his/her adult years.

If neither parent goes to church, there is only a 4% chance that the children will someday go to church, meaning 96 out of 100 will most likely never go to church.

According to a Barna study, of those surveyed, the majority of American moms raising children ages 0-18 years said that family is their top priority and faith is an important part of parenting.  Majority of dads also said family was top priority, but not many felt faith was important part of parenting.  With fathers having the greatest impact on the future of our children’s faith, that is a disparaging revelation.

Of moms 42+ raising children 0-18 years of age, the majority are married.

Of moms ages 23-41, about half are married.

Only 1 in 4 of moms ages 18-22 are married, which means 3 0f 4 children are growing up with a single mom, most of whom do not have the children’s fathers in their lives.  These children are off to a rough start with statistics indicating that they will likely be violent, abusive, and commit crimes if a father or father-figure does not come into their lives  Their chances of becoming men and women of faith are next to nothing.

Women, do not be discouraged.  Moms are still seen as being the primary caregivers and nurturers, and I know many awesome mothers who defy these statistics by intentionally raising their children in a Christian environment, active in church. They are raising impressive kids who are good students, fine people, and loving children of faith. Women who have faithful husbands need to support and encourage them!

My father, grandfathers, and close uncles were faithful men, for which I am grateful!  However, it was my grandmothers who had significant impact on my faith and beliefs, so women, please don’t feel your influence doesn’t also matter, because it does.  🙂

Nevertheless, multiple studies about families, parenting, and the futures of our children indicate the choices the father makes has a much greater impact on children than those of the mother.  Statistics improved when dad’s favorable decisions were supported by the mother, and when Mom and Dad showed love and respect for each other.

The Bible says to take care of widows and orphans, the fatherless among us.  As the church we need to find ways to support fatherless children and those raising them, and encourage young people to be responsible in their relationships, and help them see the importance of 2-parent families.  We also need to help couples respect the sanctity of marriage and Biblically help them work through their problems when marital issues arise.

Most importantly, we need to remember and share the examples set by our Heavenly Father.  He taught us that He is loving, merciful, gracious, and slow to anger.  He is a Father who says what He means, and means what He says.  He keeps His word.  When necessary, the Father convicts and disciplines, but is just in His ways, not overbearing.  Through Jesus, the Father taught us what true Love is, being a Father who made sacrifices for the wellbeing of His children, and instructed us to hate evil – not people; remembering that His goodness and grace are not something any of us can earn, for we have all sinned, but that He makes available to ALL His children who live by faith and obey His commands.

The more we try to live as godly men and women who find ways to share the love and saving grace of Jesus, the Christ, our Savior and Lord; the more God can work through us to make a difference in the lives of those around us, especially when it comes to parenting and raising the next generation of Christian boys and girls.

Fathers, remember, the choices you make and the way you live your lives have a tremendous impact on the little ones watching you.  Mothers, we are important, too!  We need to live faithful lives, support husbands of faith, and encourage younger generations to join us in our walk of faith.

What are we doing today?  How will our choices and actions impact the children of tomorrow?

To learn more about God as our Father, and teachings of Jesus, go to http://www.BibleGateway.com

SOURCES:

The Barna Group

Justin Taylor A Father’s Role in His Children Going to Church When They are Adults – referencing Robbie Lowe (vicar of St. Peter’s, Bushey Heath, a parish in the Church of England) and the 1994 Swiss study about the impact parents have on the future faith of their children (Touchstone, June 2003)

http://www.TheFatherlessGeneration.wordpress.com

 

 

 

Do you know the plan?  “What plan?” you might ask.  My reply, “Whatever comes to mind when you hear the question.”  For some the plan might be for their job, relationships, children, or financial goals.  For Jeremiah, the plans were for the future and the well being of God’s people.

Jeremiah was a prophet and priest.  A prophet is someone chosen by God to give God’s messages to His people.  Jeremiah was young when he was called to be a prophet, which is interesting, because the reigning king in Jerusalem also started young – at age 8!  That king was Josiah.  He was the last godly king of Judah before the fall of Jerusalem and capture by Babylon.  Jeremiah lived in a small town outside of Jerusalem.  He knew the business, activities and ways of worship within the walls of Jerusalem, but was able to live outside the fray of the city.  After Josiah died, Jerusalem became a city of turmoil – politically, socially, and morally.   Can you relate today?

It was Jeremiah’s job to give God’s messages of warning to the people of Jerusalem, informing them of their sinful ways, calling for them to repent and turn their hearts back to God, and warning  them that God would allow them to be taken by their enemies if they did not.  Jeremiah was grieved, literally to tears, for the people of Jerusalem, for they would not turn from sinful ways and turn their hearts back to God.  Eventually God’s punishment happened.  Jeremiah watched as people from Jerusalem were taken by King Nebuchadnezzar and exiled to Babylon.

After the exile, Jerusalem fell to ruin and the temple was destroyed.  This was very distressing for Jeremiah and the people of Jerusalem because the temple was more than a place of worship. It was the place where God’s physical presence resided among them.

Exiled to Babylon, the people of Judah felt like they’d been sent away from God’s presence.  Then, when they heard the temple had been destroyed, they feared God would be gone from their lives forever.  Once they thrived in Jerusalem, and now they were living as captives in a new place, under the rule of another king, away from the presence of God, and fearing He would never be with them or their children again.

God knew their despair; and even though He had sent them to Babylon as punishment for turning away from Him, God did not turn His back on them.  He called on Jeremiah to prepare a letter for the exiled people of Jerusalem, addressing their fear for the future and their feelings that God had abandoned them.  Following are the words of consolation that God gave Jeremiah to share:

Jeremiah 29:1-14   (ESV)      Jeremiah’s Letter to the Exiles    

29 These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to… all the people… taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon… The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah… to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. It said: Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream,[a] for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the Lord.

10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[b] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”       

(Text copied from http://www.BibleGateway.com)

God was telling the people of Jerusalem that even though they were in exile, He wanted them to seek “welfare”, meaning “well being.”  Some Bible versions say “to prosper”, which in Greek and Aramaic, means to “have means and ability,” “thrive,” “have gain.”   When God said “expected end,” He meant that He had plans for them to have a future of well being and hope, not harm or evil.  God promised that, in time, He would bring them back to where they belonged.  Most importantly, God was assuring the exiled people of Jerusalem that He had not abandoned them, and despite their sinful past, He had plans for them, and the plans for were for their good!

There’s an adage today that says:  The best way to make God laugh is to have plans.

It’s good to have plans and goals, but ultimately, we need seek God’s plans for us, making our plans accordingly.  However, even then, things can go wrong, and we can find ourselves in bad situations and tough places.

Have you ever found yourself in an uncertain place in your life, or a place you didn’t want to be?  Maybe you were in a tough place because of your own actions, or maybe life happened in a bad way, leaving you to survive the consequences.  Tough times might make us feel like the people of Judah – having to survive in a new way, feeling fear of the unknown, wondering if we still have a future. maybe even feeling hopeless.  At times we might also feel as if we’ve been abandoned by God, or that we are undeserving of His love and help.  Maybe you’re in that place right now.  If so, please find comfort in God’s words!

The words above were given to Jeremiah to be shared with the suffering people of Jerusalem to give them comfort and hope, and those words of God still speak to us today!

In Jeremiah 29:1-14, God is saying:    Live your life, and trust in Me.  I know your situation.  Don’t give up!  I have plans for you!  My plans are for your wellbeing, that you thrive and survive.  At the right time, I will gather you to myself and restore your life.  You will seek Me and find Me by your side.  You will pray to Me, and I will hear.  Let these promises give you hope for your future!   (my paraphrased summary of 29:1-14)

What about you?  Do you know the plan?

The truth is that we don’t know the plan, but we know the God who does!  Praise be to God!

To read the Book of Jeremiah or learn more through commentaries, go to http://www.Biblegateway.com

Blessings to all,

Renee Myers

 

 

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