Looking for something new to add to your family’s Christmas traditions? Checkout theshepherdstreasure.com. I found this resource last year while on church staff, and think it is a fun way to connect with your family during Advent.
“A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.” ~ Proverbs 15:1
Let me start with this confession: This is hard for me.
I don’t know if you struggle with being snippy and harsh with your loved ones, but I do.
Not too long ago I confessed that to someone close to me, and their response startled me a little: “I have a hard time believing that. You are always so mild-tempered and never seem frazzled by anything.”
Why did this startle me? Because I know the truth in my heart that controlling my tongue is hard. It was during that conversation I realized something about myself. I intentionally invest and expend a great deal of energy in appearing “in control” at work and, in general, when away from home. What I don’t do often enough is give my family that same level of energy. They are often stuck with the leftovers of my relational energy.
How can this be?!? These are the people I love the most, and yet, they are the ones I treat the worst!
It turns out that James’ caution about the tongue is spot on (James 3), though that really should be no surprise. At times, taming my tongue seems impossible. And it takes an amount of energy and restraint that I struggle to have.
The more important issue I have to deal with, though, is not what comes out of my mouth but my attitude and the condition of my heart. Jesus said that my mouth speaks from the overflow of my heart (Luke 6:45). So when I let my guard down and speak with anything less than a respectful, gentle tone to my family, what is really happening in my heart? It typically boils down selfishness.
Regarding sin, Paul says “whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12) The only “cure” for the real issue is the transforming power of the gospel, that is, the Spirit of God’s renewal of my heart and mind (Romans 12:1-2). After all, the fruit of the Spirit is… gentleness and self control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) I must daily… hourly… moment-by-moment submit myself to the Spirt of God and let Him transform my heart.
God, cleanse me from my hidden faults and keep me from willful sins; do not let them rule me… may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:12-14).
“A person should think of us in this way: as servants of Christ and managers of the mysteries of God. In this regard, it is required that managers be found faithful.” ~ 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 CSB
How are you managing the gospel which you have received?
I must admit, I’ve heard verse 2 (above) many times before. It wasn’t until today, however, that I really read verse 1 and saw that the “thing” which we are to be faithful managers of is the gospel (the mysteries of God) mentioned in verse 1.
Now that question is burning deep in my heart: how faithful am I in managing the gospel in my life? In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul said “For I passed on to you as most important what I also received.” Am I being intentional in passing along that which I say I believe is most important?
As a husband?
As a dad?
As children’s minister?
As a Christian?
Psalm 96:2 says, “proclaim His salvation from day to day.” So what am I doing with the gospel? Am I allowing the truth of the gospel to permeate and rule every area of my life?
God has chosen the people of God, empowered by the Spirit of God and equipped with the Word of God, to be about the mission of God to make disciples (Matthew 28).
In The Gospel Project we studied Jesus’ Parable of the Sower. Ultimately Jesus alone holds the power of the gospel message. We, as His disciples, are responsible, though, to spread the seed of the gospel wherever we go. “Go and make disciples of all nations…” Jesus said, “…in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Matthew 28:19 & Acts 1:8) I must diligently and consistently apply the truth of Scripture to my life while simultaneously letting the gospel of Jesus overflow into my decisions, my speech, and my behavior as a husband, dad, and every other role I step into.
God, give me strength and wisdom to manage the gospel well by spreading the seeds of the gospel in all the “fields” of my life.
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” ~ John 3:30
Can you imagine being one of Jesus’ relatives living in His shadow? Especially during His adult years. In fact at one point, some of them thought He was crazy (Mark 3:21). Then when they wanted to talk with Him, He said “Who are my mother and my brothers? …those sitting in [this[ circle… are my mother and my brothers!” (Mark 3:33-34) From their perspective, it must have been hard to watch a member of their family do and say the incredible things Jesus did. Fortunately, the New Testament and church history tell us that some of those in His earthly family believed after His resurrection.
John seems to have been different, though. From the beginning, John had an honest understanding of his role within God’s salvation plan. Jesus had to be front-and-center. “One who is more powerful than I am is coming. I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals.” (Luke 3:16) “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) John did not seek fame and spotlight. His mission was to be “a voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord.” (John 1:23)
God, help me have a true understanding of my role within Your kingdom work. Moment-by-moment, day-by-day, help me “lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares [me and] run with endurance the race that lies before [me], fixing [my] eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of [my] faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” ~ Proverbs 31:30
A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. This verse is frequently used in churches on Mother’s Day. In fact it was YouVersion’s Verse of the Day today (Mother’s Day 2017). And we should celebrate our moms. They work hard, some away from home and some in the home. Regardless of where they spend their days, moms are incredible. They are selfless. They are nurturing. They give of themselves when there is nothing left to give.
But Mother’s Day can be difficult for some ladies due to a variety of reasons.
Whether mom or not, a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Today I am thankful for the women of faith in my life, including but definitely not limited to:
- My wife and the mother of my children, who loves me more than I deserve and who daily works diligently to pass her faith to our children.
- Susan, the woman I call mom who passed her faith to me by showing me what unconditional love looks like through the way she loves me and my siblings, as well as, the way she loves my dad.
- My Mimi, my mom’s mom who passed her faith down to her daughters.
- My mother-in-law, who passed her faith down to my wife.
- My sister, who works to pass her faith on to communities of people often overlooked.
- My sisters-in-law who love their families and work hard to pass their faith on to their families.
What makes your life worth living?
Money? Notoriety? Legacy? Family? Job? In 21st Century America there is no shortage of things that vie for our affection.
“But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” ~ Philippians 3:7-8
Oh, how I pray to have this outlook on life!
God, make my spiritual hunger and thirst so strong that I would count everything else in my life as lost in comparison to my satisfaction and purpose in You.
“But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” ~ Ephesians 2:13 CSB
What a glorious truth of the gospel! Though we were once far away, Jesus has brought us near. Though we were once foreigners, we are now citizens of the Kingdom of God with unrestricted access to the King.
“Through him we… have access in one spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.” ~ Ephesians 2:18-20 CSB
“We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!” ~ Ephesians 2:3-5
What an incredible passage! These verses proclaim the good news of Jesus as clearly as any other passage in the Bible.
For someone who sees no need for Jesus, take note that each of us started on the same side: as enemies of God and children of wrath.
For the Christian, we are reminded that we were dead in our sins but were made alive by the richness of God’s mercy and the greatness of His love. We must not pretend that we are better than those unredeemed. Our redemption came, not from our own efforts or goodness (Ephesians 2:8-9), but from God’s mercy, grace, and love.
May we never lose perspective of the darkness from which we were all brought into light.