Gifts From Granny Archive 2012

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 All articles written by Joanne Beckley unless stated otherwise

  • Mourning for Our Sins From a Working Conscience 
  • Let's Stop Scaring Ourselves!
  • Personal Bible Study 
  • I Can't Stand Her!
  • A Moment with Him (poem, author unknown)
  • Parenting Our Children by Principles of the Word of God 
  • Godliness Requires Discipline
  • I Had a Little Tea Party by Unknown Author
  • Alone, All Alone

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Mourning for our sins – from a working Conscience
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"Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted." Matt. 5:4
by Joanne Beckley


(Revise “conscience”)
I have sinned. 
I’m not happy. 
I’m feeling very guilty. 
I don’t like myself. 
My stomach hurts. 
Yes, my conscience has kicked in. 
And I am in danger.

If I do not repent I will hurt my conscience. In fact, if I do not repent my conscience will gradually stop reminding me of my sins. I will actually think I am dong just fine. But the feelings of guilt will not disappear, but go underground. The guilt continues and it can cause physical health problems (loss of appetite, a sense of dread, physical illness, lack of sleep, obsessive thoughts, etc.) and eventually I will feel like there is no hope of true happiness. When there is no hope, the mind and emotions turn inward, even to the point of committing suicide. Remember Judas? Mat 27:3-5.

There is NEVER a need to think there is no hope! If you are seeking a solution to stop the hurt you feel, the terrible guilt you feel, be assured there is a solution! Turn to the One who made you and gave you life! (Many professional people will advise you to seek what they call modern solutions. They will help you to re-evaluate your feelings of guilt and talk you into a “more positive context”. They will help you to FEEL better and ignore the SOURCE of why you feel guilt. They are teaching you to deactivate your conscience!)

God has given us a conscience to work together with the laws God has given us. It is the laws of God that identify sin. The law of Christ is not evil! Rather, it is the selfish heart within us that fights against the law, (Rom 7:7). When we do as we please and break the law, our conscience is activated.

So what must we do when our conscience gives us warning? First, be very, very thankful we are feeling guilty. It is the guilt that will prompt us to repent. Notice that God’s counsel to Cain was not aimed to reduce Cain’s feelings, but to notice his conduct–“If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” Genesis 4. God wanted Cain to repent! 

Just as with Cain, God wants everyone’s guilty conscience to prompt responsible behaviour– to repent.

What is repentance? Just being sorry for the sin we have committed is not repentance. Sorrow by itself does not make us want to act in a different way. Sorrow is actually the beginning point. When we sin, and our guilty conscience is activated, we feel pain, shame, and embarrassed at our weakness. But so far there is no decision to acknowledge the sin, to ask for forgiveness, or to even to make a plan how to avoid the sin in the future. We have not yet repented.

We must truly understand that ANY sin we commit is as if we have slapped God in the face. We have rejected God’s will for us and told Him WE know better. The pain of this knowledge should bring us to our knees to beg God for forgiveness. Our conscience will prompt tears of deep sorrow, expressing our hearts to God. Read Luke 7:47-48; 18:10-14.

Paul told the Christians at Corinth that their guilty conscience was to help bring them to true repentance, 2 Cor 7:9-10. He reminded them that it is godly sorrow that produces repentance and this will lead them to salvation. If we ignore the warnings of a guilty conscience, we will face death. Worldly sorrow which does not repent produces death. The solution? To make a determined decision to change our minds and hearts from evil and be obedient to Christ. As Ezra said, “let us make a covenant with our God to put away...” Ezra 10:3.

The only way to clear a guilty conscience is through the blood of Christ which will “cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God”. It is through obedience to Christ in repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38) that we can now approach the throne of God and receive His forgiveness, Heb 9:13-14; 1 Pet 3:21-22. Let us listen again to Ezra as he urged the people to repent: “Arise, for this matter is your responsibility...Be of good courage and do it” Ezra 10:4. We too can and must “do it”!

How thankful we should be that each time we sin God disciplines us. How does he do this? One way is by using our conscience which will prompt us to repent. God will forgive and “cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God”, Heb 9:13-14. 

Notice what the Hebrew writer said concerning the conscience (God’s discipline): “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it”, Heb 12:11.

After you are chastened and repent, do you give thanks so that you can enjoy peaceable fruit of righteousness? “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1Th 5:18.

Jesus cannot reach you if you have abused your conscience by ignoring it. Is your conscience still talking to you, causing you to feel guilt when you do wrong? Don’t ignore the warning! Come to Jesus by accepting responsibility for your actions. Change your behavior and determine to obey Him. Ask for forgiveness. Find happiness in Him, by trusting and believing you have been forgiven.

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LET’S STOP SCARING OURSELVES!
by Joanne Beckley


When I first came to Africa, everyone gave me advice on safety–in my home, while driving, going shopping, wherever. And then when I went to bed, in the dark, I found myself revisiting all I had been told–and scared myself silly, unable to sleep. All of us at some time have had to deal with not just fear, but even paralyzing fear. And then we feel guilty, for we read, “But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled." 1Pe 3:14. Is it possible to let go of our fear? To take precautions, but put are fears where they belong? And if so, how?

Fear defined:
Oxford dictionary:
1) an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm, 2) archaic - regard (God) with reverence and awe.
Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:
phobos - first had the meaning of flight, that which is caused by being scared, later, that which may cause flight–fear, dread, terror.
eulabeia - caution, reverence, godly fear–holy fear. “That mingled fear and love which, combined, constitute the piety of man toward God.” (Trench)
Deilia - fearfulness. That spirit is not given us of God–cowardice, timidity, never used in a good sense

Thus there are two fears given us by God, but one comes to us because of our lack of faith in God. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind,” 1 Tim 1:7. "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid,” Joh 14:27.

Notice what is listed in Revelation 21:8. "But the cowardly (fearful), unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

God has given us the ability to be afraid. Fear can be helpful. A baby is born with a wholesome fear of danger. We retain that feeling throughout our lives. It is an automatic trigger when we perceive some kind of risk to our person. We also have been given a wholesome fear of God. It is HOW we face our fears that will affect whether our fearfulness is good or bad.

Look at this incomplete list of things we fear. Each one of these fears feeds on our imagination, causing distrust, and feelings of helplessness. Circle one or more that gives you trouble.
Fear of the future
Fear of rejection
Fear of pain and discomfort
Fear of growing old
Fear of failure, past mistakes
Fear of change
Fear of loneliness
Fear of bodily harm
Fear of hunger, of being poor
Fear of the unknown.

The purpose of fear is to focus the mind and body into a state of readiness; preparing to deal with some kind of physical threat. But instead, there is nothing there–only the imagination! The mind cannot tell whether the danger is real or not, and responds as if the danger is real. A real situation is resolved, but the mind can maintain a scary thought indefinitely. Fear keeps a person locked onto the object of that fear because it is seen as a threat. The anxiety increases, producing more thoughts, the thoughts driving more anxious feelings and create even more fear. The fear cycles because we are expecting something bad before it happens.

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A best selling book on the market reassures you that, “All you have to do to diminish your fear is to develop more trust in your own ability to handle whatever comes your way.” People down through the ages have tried this and failed. It is our thoughts and feelings that generate the fear in the first place. What about self-hypnosis? The idea of seeking the underlying memories and associations that trigger feelings might be a good idea. But this too can fail us. So what from without can help us stop the fear cycle? Can God help me?

Fear of God
Unless we grow from real and imagined fears to a fear for God (deep respect, awe), we are not going to win! By believing and putting our trust in God that He is all powerful and in control, that we are totally dependant on Him–only then can we remove paralyzing fear. Faith in God requires obedience in order to find peace. Notice what God said after Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac, “Now I know you fear me,” Gen 22:12. When we put our trust in God and do what He says, we have nothing to fear!

As we seek help from Him we must learn what God has NOT promised us. He has not promised us a life without trouble, sickness and pain. He DOES expect us to use these trials to increase our faith in Him, to increase our belief and trust in what He HAS promised. God has promised us hope and peace without understanding BECAUSE we have put our trust in Him. “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,” Php 4:7.

The priest Zacharias said: Lu 1:70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began, 71 That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us, 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant, 73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham: 74 To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear.

Fear is based on distrust in God. We have displaced faith with fear, doubting that God will take care of us. We read passages where Jesus tells us God cares about us more than the birds of the air or flowers of the fields, yet we allow our fears to dominate our thoughts and feelings, forgetting what God has promised.

Jesus gives us additional reminders and advice concerning fear that keeps us from doing what we need to do:
Remember: “I am not alone, because the Father is with Me” Jn 16:32
Remember: “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” Jn 16:33
Remember: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Mat 28:20
Jesus asks us–where is our treasure? "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Lu 12:32-34
Are you afraid in the dark that someone will harm you? "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell,” Mt 10:28.
Do you wonder why you are so fearful? It is weak faith that causes fear. Jesus asked his disciples, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Mat 8:26

The apostle Paul continually reminds us of the peaceful joy we can have if we truly trust as we should. Notice it is our faith in Jesus Christ that will give us the right to longer fear.

Ro 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Col 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Did you notice the last phrase, “and be ye thankful”? A clue to help us! Take time to read Philippians 1:12-21. Notice how Paul trusted in the Lord. He didn’t need to know what was going to happen because he would accept whatever came his way with joy. “And we know that ALL things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”, Ro 8:28.

It is a strong faith in Jesus that removes fear. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:4-5.

Moses encouraged the Israelites: And Moses said to the people, "Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin," Ex 20:20.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” 1Pe 1:3-7.

God always keeps his promise to take care of us. Throughout the Old Testament and New, we have proof that He will care for you and me. We might have to face the robber, a car accident, illness, whatever, but if we die in the Lord, we believe that God will raise us from the dead to live forever with Him. Yes, we CAN set our hope in God.


“For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,” 2Co 1:8-10.

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Ro 8:37-39.

Nothing can happen to us that God doesn’t know about. Nothing can separate us from His love. “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble,” Mat 6:32-34.

Jesus expects us, even demands of us, to replace thinking patterns of fear with a stronger faith in Him. We can CHOOSE how we respond to real or imagined threats by TRUSTING in God. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil,” Ec 12:13-14.

“I will fear no evil; For You are with me,” Psa 23:4

“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love,” 1 John 4:17-18.

Questions:
1. What is your biggest fear? ___________________________________________________
2. Describe how you feel when you are fearful. ____________________________________
3. Which of the three definitions describe what you wrote on question #1? _______________ _________________________________________________________________________
4. Why is “cowardly” (fearful) included in the lists of sins in Revelation 21:8? ___________
5. Draw the Fear cycle.
6. Every Christian must grow from real and imagined ______________ to a stronger and stronger _____________ for the Lord.
7. Eccl 12:13-14. What does it mean to fear God? ________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________
8. Proverbs 1:7; 8:13; 10:27; 14:26-27. What does the “fear of the Lord” offer us? _______ _________________________________________________________________________
9. Romans 10:17. How do we develop “the fear of the Lord”? ________________________ __________________________________________________________________________
10. Philippians 2:12. How does someone work out their salvation with fear and trembling? ___________________
11. Romans 8:37-39. It is through _________________ we can be more than conquerors. ________________ can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
12. Psalm 23:4. How did young David face his fears? ________________________________
13. What verse(s) of scripture in this lesson can help you face your personal fears? Can you think of others? ____________________________________________

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PERSONAL BIBLE STUDY

Joanne Beckley


The Bible is a revelation of God’s will. God has spoken; there can be no changes made. God chose what he wants us to understand and expects us to understand him. The Bible is from heaven and we must obey.

Psalm 119:9-16
The more we spend time in His word, the more we delight in it and it becomes our counsellor. We will build a strong trust in God. We will discover the more time we spend in study, the more we want to know our Father and how we can please Him.

Study helps us to understand Him better, and thus helps us to develop our prayers, asking that the false way be removed. Study will help us to develop new and better goals in our study and in our life, a new determination. Through our studies God will enlarge our hearts.

The biblical process:
Psalm 119:9-16,24,33
(This is demonstrated on paper as a staircase going UPWARD, beginning with "Read the Bible")
➔ God enlarges our hearts.
➔ new goals on the "faithful way"
➔ words becomes our counsellor
➔ not forget what we learn
➔ delight in the Word
➔ pray
➔ meditate
➔ study
➔Read the Bible

When I sit down at the kitchen table to study my Bible, the time I have set aside is one-on-one between me and my Bible. I want to be careful to let the Bible determine what I believe, what I teach and what I practice. After I have done my very best, only then should I find out what others think concerning what I have studied. I don’t want others to tell me what to believe, Romans 10:17.

I begin my study of the Bible by assembling 1) Bible, 2) paper, 3) pen, 4) dictionary. I will look for all the facts and let them speak for themselves. When I find agreement between two verses, then whatever I find later must agree with the first two truths. Jesus reasoned in the same way, Luke 24:25-27.

Narrative Text

1. First, I decide where I am going to read and study. A good place to begin my study is the book Genesis. The very word Genesis means beginning, a very good place to start! Reading and studying the Scriptures is the foundation of learning who God is, what he expects from me, his creature, and the consequences if I do not obey Him, Acts 17:11. From there I would go to the gospel of Mark and the book of Acts, learning how God completed his plan to save me. This will create in me a determination to apply what I learn, James 1:25.
2. The book of Genesis is written like one would tell a story, so I will read one chapter and then I read it again.
3. I use paper and pen to firmly fix the main events in my mind.
a. Event title (my “hook”)
b. Scripture
c. Places and people
d. List of steps in the event
e. Lessons I learned
4. I study in the same order that the events happened so that I won’t get confused.
5. I use a map to find any locations that are mentioned.
6. I make sure I know when these events took place by looking at my Bible timeline.

Poetry and prophesy

7. As I study these books I will notice how the author uses a word. Words change meaning as time goes by, so I need to concentrate on how the author uses the word.
8. I also make sure to identify whether any word is a figure of speech (Amos 4:1).

New Testament Letters

9. When I want to study a book that is not about events, such as Paul’s letters, I will understand that I am reading someone else’s mail, but that Jesus also wants me to read it.
10. I begin my study in the same way, but instead of just reading one chapter and then reading it again, I will first read the whole letter.
11. I need to understand who is writing the letter, who he is talking to, and what does he mainly wants us to understand. I write these main points down.
12. THEN I go back and begin with chapter one and read only a few verses. I look for the simplest, most obvious meaning of the passage. I ask, does this meaning fit into what the writer wrote before or afterwards? Do I understand his main point? Does what I understand agree with other writers of the Bible? I write the main points on paper.
13. Then I read the verses again and write the details to help me understand the writer’s reasoning.
14. If I think of verses in another place in the Bible that talk about the subject, I also record these.
15. If my conclusion disagrees with another verse in the Bible that is more clear, I will cross out my own false conclusion.
16. I keep my main goal in mind–to know what I ought to believe, teach and practice.

By Subject

17. I try very hard not to make definite conclusions about a subject until I have gathered all the verses about the subject (Luke 24:27).
18. I make sure I understand the context of each verse I find so I do not misuse the verse. (Context: how it fits in the whole)

Procedure of study- MY HOUR OF STUDY
(Draw a circle and cut into wedges, label and number wedges. Stack wedges, beginning with #1. When completed, add #2 to the circle. Continue until the circle is completed. If you complete #11 before hour is up, go back to #8 and continue to the end.)

Decision - Acts 17:11; James 1:25
Purpose - to know what I ought to believe, do, and teach

1. Assemble Bible, paper, pen, dictionary
2. Pray for guidance
3. Read chapter
4. Define unknown words
5. Find places on a map, locate time on timeline
6. Read chapter again
7. Write down main point(s) of chapter
8. Read small section of the chapter
9. Write down main point of small section
10. Look for details of main point
11. Write down lesson(s) learned
12. Pray with thanksgiving


 

I loved the article under "Gifts from Granny" about Bible study!  So often we are admonished to study the Bible, as if it is a tiresome chore.  The concept of taking delight in God's Word is so important!

Here is a method I have found that works for me, but it does consume much time per passage studied.  I used to write separate pages in a loose leaf binder.  Now I do this on the computer.  Although, handwriting helps with meditation.  Sometimes faster is not better.  Who ==  What  ==  When  ==  Where  ==  Why  ==  How

I study the same text all 6 ways (that means at least 6 times), making a detailed list under each heading.  Then  I explore other resources for anything that comes up which I don't already know thoroughly, adding notes as I go. 

The Why and How are the most significant to me.  I compose sentences telling in my own words WHY certain things were done or happened.  I consider HOW I can implement or improve my habits in light of what I have learned.  I look for HOW a thing was accomplished.  I write questions as they occur to me, then go back and write answers as I discover them. 

After practicing this method, sometimes I do a light study by only thinking through the process without the literal writing.  But I find this is not as effective for getting at the details.  I learn best by writing.  -Susan Lynn Taylor


 

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A Moment for Him

We mutter and sputter
We fume and we spurt,
We mumble and grumble,
Our feelings get hurt.

We can't understand things,
Our vision grows dim,
When all that we need
is a moment with HIM

Author Unknown

I Can't Stand Her!

Joanne Beckley



We all get frustrated with people at times. And everybody is somebody’s difficult person at least some of the time. It is therefore helpful to identify characteristics and habits that annoy us–and then make a plan as to how to deal with problem people. At the same time we need to ask ourselves, “Is it I? Do I too have the tendency to act in such and such a way when I am thwarted or feel threatened?

It is well and good to hear Jesus’ command to love one another, but too often we stop there, thinking, of course we love each other! By the following words, I would like us to consider whether we really do love one another. And then look at three things that are necessary to help us love one another indeed.

Consider these difficult people. They might be:
1. Confrontational, angry and push to get my way.
2. Make rude comments, biting sarcasm, and roll the eyes.
3. Suddenly explode into unfocused words about nothing to do with the present circumstance.
4. Seldom in doubt, a know-it-all with a low tolerance for correction and contradiction.
5. Try to fool some people just to get some attention.
6. Say “yes” without thinking things through, in an effort to please people and avoid confrontation.
7. Procrastinate at a time a decision needs to be made, hoping against hope a decision will not be necessary.
8. Remain silent, offering no feedback, saying nothing.
9. Defeat big ideas with a single syllable, No.
10.Whine when feeling helpless and overwhelmed by an unfair world, thinking nothing is measuring up to my idea of perfection.

When you and I are faced with difficult people we can’t stand to work with, talk with, deal with, we don’t have to be guilty of #10. We need to remember that we do have choices. Four choices.

1. Stay and suffer.
2. Walk away.
3. Change our attitude about the difficult person. Learn to see them differently, listen to them differently, and feel differently around him/her. This will be absolutely necessary if we are to make the fourth choice.
4. Change our behaviour. If we change our behaviour the difficult person will have to learn new ways to deal with us.

Just as some people bring out the worst in us, so others bring out the best. We need to practice several skills in order to try and encourage the best from everyone we meet.

1. Consider WHY that person is acting the way she is. It will help to answer WHY she is acting in such a way. Listen to the communication going on. If there are different intentions present, no wonder frustration builds and undesirable behaviour develops. Their behaviour interacts with your behaviour which is also based on intentions. What intentions? Four possibilities:
a. Get the job done
b. Get the job right
c. Get along with people
d. Get appreciation from people

2. To reduce the differences between us we need to try and blend, to try and find common ground. While the annoying one is talking, use positive non-verbal communication, clarify, and allow them to completely express themselves. Be patient!

3. Monitor your own voice and expressions. Say what is important to you (see #1). Tell the truth. Be ready to listen yet again. Assume the best and give the benefit of the doubt. If you receive criticism, verbally give thanks. By doing so you let go of the need to defend your behaviour.

John 13:34-35 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

Do we?

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Parenting Our Children by the Principles of the Word of God

Compiled by Joanne Beckley

The Bible is filled with useful guidance in obeying the Lord's command to bring up our children "in the teaching and admonition of the Lord," Eph. 6:4. Read and study and practice. I would suggest that you keep adding helpful verses to this list as you come across them.

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Examine Self

  • 1 Pet 1:15,16 as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy." (God is the standard.)
  • John 13:15 I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
  • Gal 6:4,7 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another...Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
  • Num 14:18 He by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation. (Children feel the impact of parents’ sins.)
  • Isa 58:12 You shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach. (Parents can repair the damage of previous generations.)
  • 1 Tim 4:12 be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
  • Prov 20:7 The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.
  • James 5:16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
  • 2 Cor 12:14,15 the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls. (Are you willing to provide what is needed for you’re your children???)
  • Mat 10:37 "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Keep perspective!)
  • 1 Cor 16:13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.
  • 2 Kings 4:8-37 A woman whose name we do not know. Yet she confronts us with our excuses and wipes them away as though they did not exist. She saw a need, used opportunity, gracious in her efforts, giving no excuses for what she had. Notice her contentment in verses 12-17. When her child died (verses 20-24) she again saw a need, planned how it could be handled, discussed it with her husband, and took action. She kept her eyes on the goal. God first, then husband, child, others, self.

Architect of the Home

  • Psa 127:1 Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain

Acknowledge the gift - with gratitude

  • Psa 127:3, Children are a heritage of the Lord (an inheritance according to the willing desire of the giver, a sacred trust, loaned to us to prepare them for his use.
  • Psa 127:5 The fruit of the womb is his reward, (not earned, but freely given by the giver)Happy is the man who has his quiver full.

No anxiety

  • Psa 127:2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so he giveth his beloved sleep. (God blesses honest work, but he supplies the things we need without anxious efforts.)
  • Phil 4:19 My God shall supply all your need.
  • Eccl 3:1 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven. (It takes time to nurture a child for the Lord.)
  • Col 1:9-11 be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy. (A certain objectivity coupled with a constant sense of your ultimate goals will give you patience. Pray for your children, even as did the apostle Paul.) 

The goal:

  • Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Copy the perfect Parent

  • Exodus 34:6-7 And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation.” (Note the balance between mercy and justice.)
  • Jer 9:24 But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am  the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight," says the LORD.
  • Psa 18:30 As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.
  • Psa 103:13 As a father pities his children. (tender and sympathetic)
  • Prov 3:12 For whom the LORD loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
  • Heb 12:6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.
  • Mat 7:11 The Father who is in heaven gives good things.
  • 1 John 4:6 We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us.
  • Deut 7:9 Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.
  • Gen 15:1 Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield.
  • Mat 7:9-11 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? "Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
  • Phil 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself  and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

All scripture is helpful

  • 2 Tim 3:14-15 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
  • Deu 6:4-7 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! “You shall love the LORD your God withall your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

Love your children!

  • John 16:27 the Father Himself loves you
  • 1 John 3:1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! (Our love for our children should be the same love.
  • Mat 28:20 I am with you always. (Do you children know you are?)
  • Acts 10:34 In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. (James 2:9; Gen 25:28)
  • 1 John 3:18 let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
  • Titus 2:4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children. (The deepest sort of parental love, tenderness, mercy, and compassion)
  • Gal 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
  • Eph 6:4 bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord
  • Prov 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. (Love sets limits.)
  • Prov 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. (Monitor what goes into their heart–entertainment, recreation, friends, etc.)

Teach your children!

  • Heb 5:122 Tim 3:15 unto salvation
  • Psalm 148:12,13 Both young men and maidens; Old men and children. Let them praise the name of the LORD, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven.
  • Isa 28:9,10 "Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts? For precept must be upon precept, precept upon  precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little."
  • 1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.
  • Prov 3:5,6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
  • Lam 3:27 It is good for a man to bear The yoke in his youth. (Note the context–3:24-30)
  • Eph 6:1,2 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother," (Teach obedience/honour)
  • Prov 1:8,9 My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother; For they will be a graceful ornament on your head, And chains about your neck. (So, parents, teach!)
  • 1 Tim 4:12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
  • Prov 25:28 Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls. (Self-control must be learned.)
  • Gal 5:22,23 the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
  • Eph 4:32 And be kind  to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
  • Prov 16:32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
  • Job 27:5 Till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.
  • 1 Pet 3:4 Let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a  gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.
  • Luke 6:30-33 "Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
  • 1 Tim 6:6-8 Now godliness with contentment  is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
  • Mat 6:9"In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. (Teach our children how to pray.)
  • James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
  • Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly,  To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? (James 4:10)
  • John 13:16,17 "Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
  • 1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
  • Mat 11:28-30 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Therefore a parent’s should not be burdensome.)
  • James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (1 John 2:16; 1 Cor 10:13, a way of escape; 2 Tim 2:22, flee youthful lusts; 1 Cor 5:6 leaven leavens the whole lump)
  • Nahum 1:7 The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him. (Heb 13:6)
  • Rom 8:26-28 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Blessings and dignity of work

  • Gen 2:15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 
  • Gen 3:19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground.
  • Psa 128:2 When you eat the labor of your hands, You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.
  • Prov 10:4-5 He who has a slack hand becomes poor, But the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a wise son; He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.
  • Prov 6:6-8 Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest. Notice self-motivation and discipline  is necessary.
  • Prov 20:4 The lazy man will not plow because of winter; He will beg during harvest and have nothing. Don’t put off work when it needs to be done.
  • Prov 28:19 He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, But he who follows frivolity will have poverty enough!
  • Prov 18:9 He who is slothful in his work Is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.
  • Eph 4:28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
  • 1 Thes 4:11-12 that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.
  • 2 Thes 3:10 If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.
  • 1 Tim 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
  • Prov 22:29 Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men.

Keep your child on the straight and narrow –the same way our Father in heaven does by providing adequate motivation.

  • Deut 28:1,2 Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God.”
  • Deut 28:15 "But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.”
  • Gal 6:8 Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
  • James 1:25 he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
  • 3 John 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (Example of Joseph, Daniel.)
  • Luke 15:11-32 the rebellious son. Note the father did not forcibly restrain his son from leaving home. The father let his son bear full responsibility for his actions. When his son repented, the father welcomed him home with true forgiveness.

Chasten your children

  • 1 Cor 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (Parents, train according to age and ability, Heb 5:13-14.)
  • Heb 12:5 we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect.
  • Heb 12:10,11 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness...afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Implies the purging influence of God’s disciplinary action, to bring us back, to restore us to the right way, to help us learn what is right and wrong, to encourage us to choose the right. A productive effort.)
  • Prov 13:24 He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
  • Eccl 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. (Do the right thing at the right time.)
  • Prov 23:13,14 Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, And deliver his soul from hell.
  • Prov 22:15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him. (A child’s judgement is not mature and needs correcting.
  • Eccl 4:13 Better a poor and wise youth Than an old and foolish king who will be admonished no more.
  • Prov 19:18 Chasten your son while there is hope, And do not set your heart on his destruction.
  • Prov 29:17 Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul.
  • Mal 3:6 "For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. (Be consistent!)
  • Jer 31:3 I have loved you with an everlasting love. (Love never stops during chastening.)
  • 2 Pet 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (Encourage and expect good results.) 

Control your anger

  • Psa 37:8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret –it only causes harm. (Calm down!)
  • Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
  • James 1:19-20 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man  be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (Patience!!)
  • Eph 6:4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath,
  • Prov 30:33 For as the churning of milk produces butter, And wringing the nose produces blood, So the forcing of wrath produces strife.
  • Prov 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. (Too many of us fool ourselves that our anger is righteous indignation. Instead we are mad, hurt, and hostile, venting because we are irritated, inconvenienced, embarrassed, or challenged. Righteous indignation is over sin or injustice and moves us to constructive and helpful action.
  • Prov 16:32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
Four biblical principles for deciding doubtful things: 1. Principle of liberty-freedom from anything that might bring us under its power, 1 Cor. 6:12:2. 2. Principle of love - living for the benefit of is object rather than for itself, John 13:34; Rom. 15:2; 1 Cor. 8-9). 3. Principle of edification, 1 Cor. 10:23. 4. Principle of exaltation, 1 Cor. 19:31. We belong to Him and everything we do should demonstate His goodness, glory and grace.
Fathers:
  • Proverbs 13:22 A good man leaves  an inheritance to his children's children
  • 1 Cor 11:3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
  • Col 3:18 Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.
  • 1 Tim 3:4-5 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence.
  • 1 Tim 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
  • Psa 78:5 For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a  law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children.
  • 1 Thes 2:11-12 as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. (Teach your children!)
  • Eph 5:21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.
  • Prov 3:12 For whom the LORD loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
  • Eph 6:4 fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but  bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
  • Col 3:21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
  • Mal 4:6 The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers. (A close relationship)
Mothers:
  • Psa 121:1-3 I will lift up my eyes to the hills-From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.
  • Eph 5:22,24 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord...et the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
  • Titus 2:4,5 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
  • 1 Peter 3:1,5 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives.
  • Prov 31:25-26 Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come. She opens her mouth  with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
  • Isa 66:13 As one whom his mother comforts, So I will comfort you.
  • 1 Thes 2:7 we were gentle  among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.
  • 1 Tim 5:14 bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
  • Isaiah 66:11-13 That you may feed and be satisfied With the consolation of her bosom, That you may drink deeply and be delighted With the abundance of her glory." For thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will extend peace  to her like a river, And the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. Then you shall feed; On her sides shall you be carried, And be dandled on her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, So I will comfort you; And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem."
Leaving the nest
  • 2 Pet 1:3 His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.
  • 2 Tim 3:16-17 from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
  • John 13:14 "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. (A life of service.)
  • Prov 6:20-23 My son, keep your father's command, And do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; Tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; When you sleep, they will keep you; And when you awake, they will speak with you. For the commandment is a lamp, And the law a light; Reproofs of instruction are the way of life. (Make the whole package such a part of their lives that when they leave our care it will continue to guide them.
Various concerns
  • God cares for you! Isaiah 40:29-31 He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
  • Modesty – 1 Peter 3:3-4 Emphasis on the heart, as opposed to indications of a proud heart. Proverbs 13:20; 1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:3,4; Exodus 23:2
  • Parental “Interference” – Proverbs 1:8,9; Matthew 21:23-27; Luke 23:8-12; Ephesians 6:1-4 Colossians 3:20.
  • When to “tattle” – Exodus 20:17; 1 Samuel 19:4; Proverbs 17:17; Proverbs 28:25; Proverbs 25:8; Acts 7:26-27; Acts 7:51-60; Galatians 5:22; Philippians 4:2; James 4:1,2
  • Protecting reputation – Genesis 4:9; Proverbs 17:17; Proverbs 21:28-29; Proverbs 22:1; Proverbs 25:8-10; Acts 6:3; Galatians 6:1,2; 1 Timothy 5:22; 2 Timothy 2:22
  • Facing peer pressure – Joshua 24:15; Psalm 15:1-2; Psalm 101:7; Romans 12:17; Romans 13:13; 2 Corinthians 8:21; 1 Peter 2:11-12; 1 Thes 5:22; Phil 4:13
  • Responsibilities of eldest child – Exodus 2:1-10; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Matthew 10:37; Luke 2:48-52; Ephesians 6:1-4; 1 Peter 2:18-25
  • Drinking/Drugs – Proverbs 20:1; Proverbs 23:29; Isaiah 26:3; Isaiah 28:7; Romans 13:13; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 4:1
  • Obedience to Christ & fear of failure – Acts 2:38; Romans 12:10; Romans 14:13; 1 Corinthians 4:6; Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 10:24; 1 Peter 2:2
  • Dating concerns – Proverbs 11:14; Proverbs 29:25; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20; 2 Timothy 2:22; Gen 39; 2 Sam 13
  • Pornography – Psalm 1:1-2; Proverbs 16:17; Matthew 5:28; Mark 7:21-23; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Ephesians 4:17-19; 1 Thessalonians 5:22; 2 Timothy 2:22
  • Feeling hopeless; suicide – Exodus 20:13; Proverbs 8:35-36; John 17:12; Acts 1:25
  • Desire to “fit in” – 1 Corinthians 15:33-34 (1 Corinthians 5:6); Rom 12:2
  • Gambling – Genesis 3:19; Romans 13:9; Ephesians 4:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:10; Matthew 22:36-40; 1 Timothy 6:10
  • Dancing – Mark 7:21-23; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Peter 4:3-5; 1 Peter 1:14; Romans 13:13;2 Peter 2:13; Amos 6:7; James 4:7-8
  • Sexual temptation – Mat 5:28; Exodus 20:12; Matthew 15:4-6; Matthew 19:19; Ephesians 6:2; Galatians 6:7; 1 Cor 7:2; Prov 23:7; Phil 4:8
  • Homosexuality – Gen 19:24; Rom 1:22-32; Mat 15:19
  • Abortion - 1 John 3:15; Jer. 1:5

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Godliness Requires Discipline

Joanne Beckley

We have an old song we sing that progresses from “all of self and none of Thee” to “none of self and all of Thee.” When I sing this song, I want to sing with confidence, but I become depressed. Why can I not achieve the last verse? I am confident that the fault does not lay with God and His holy Word. No, I am the one who is failing. Perhaps I have not totally accepted the kind of effort that is required to become like Christ.

Godliness does not happen instantly. No one can suddenly become like Christ (Phil 2:5; 1 Cor 11:1). There’s not even an easy three-step process and we can be godly by next Sunday. The Bible very plainly tells us how it will happen: “exercise yourself toward godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). Today, we hardly know what discipline (exercise) means, but there is no other way to become something we are not, whether it is the ability press weights, ride a bicycle or bake a cake – or to become like Christ.

The first thing we have to accept is that we have no other choice but to become like Christ. We are commanded to be perfect even as He is perfect. (1 John 1:8). This will take application on a daily basis to move toward the goal of perfection – being, thinking, doing, saying and feeling in all that God wants from us.

Notice the biblical phrase again “exercise yourself TOWARD godliness.” The original means “to be oriented toward godliness. Our entire lives should be disciplined (organized, arranged) toward reaching godliness. Everything we do should bring something to our goal. Not just on Sunday, but each day of the week, one step at a time further along the way.

If we have an “in our face” strong goal and desire to become godly, we will be thinking about it all the time. “Will this please Jesus?” “Should I be thinking this?” Paul referred to this when he wrote: “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor 5:17). We have a new focus on all of life from this point on. But this does not mean we automatically are like Christ. Our old man of sin is still an unwelcome sidekick. Rarely is the person who is so totally determined to change his life that he no longer is tempted to practice old sinful habits.

How does one discipline one’s self?

Discipline. Self-discipline. And it means work – prolonged, daily effort. The original Greek word gumnaze meant to practice (naked) in the games. We get our English word gymnastics and gymnasium from this Greek word. Truly an athlete only becomes skilful through years of hard practice. It requires a mind, heart, and body totally focussed on this one goal. In the same way a Christian must practice with the SAME singleness of heart to obey the command to live a life of godliness. We are going to have to discipline ourselves.

Jesus tells us exactly what we will have to do in order to be disciplined. “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).

Jesus is not talking about denying ourselves of things. He is not asking penance from us. He isn’t looking for voluntary self-punishment as an open expression of repentance. No, Jesus is telling us in no uncertain terms that Christians must deny self, that essential part of us that distinguishes us from others: the mind, body and spirit – all of our being. No longer can we place desires directed toward self ahead of God’s desires. No longer can we live by our old habit patterns that have become second nature. We have to learn to say “no” to self DAILY – until we die and our spirit returns to God. This battle to crucify self while facing trouble and difficulties along the road is going to take self-discipline on a daily basis for the rest of our lives.

But removing self also requires putting on Christ (Rom 13:14), walking in the Spirit (Rom 5:16), putting on the new man (Eph 4:24) “who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Col.3:10). This is a positive action. Saying “yes!” to Christ every day until the old sinful habits are replaced with good habits of godliness. But saying “yes!” to Christ will also include suffering, trials, and ill treatment for the cause of Christ.

The ability to create habits is a wonderful gift from God. Whenever we do something long enough it becomes a part of us. This is called exercise. Disciplined exercise. The writer of Hebrews wrote a considerable amount on this subject. He concludes: “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb 5:14). If we practice what God has told us to do, our obedience will become a part of us.

Peter speaks of the wrong thing to exercise ourselves in. “...having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children” (2 Pet 2:14). The eyes are FULL, the hearts are TRAINED – in this case, on self. There is no simple, easy, quick way to keep our eyes FULL and our hearts TRAINED on God. Because our lives live by habit, we must take a good look at our habits. And measure them against the Word of God. When we discovered a sinful habit, we must replace it with a new godly pattern. From then on we must practice, practice, practice – exercising and training our eyes and heart toward godliness.

We don’t have to do it alone. We don’t have to make decisions about what, when, where, why or how. The Holy Spirit has already given us these guidelines. God has promised us that we CAN become godly. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17). Guidelines – the way to go.

It is self-discipline that we have to supply. And therein lies the rub. Too often we give up too soon! We might be regularly reading the Scriptures, asking God for help, even scheduling what changes we want to make. But if we allow our feelings to dictate whether we stick to a plan or not, all will be lost. Discipline is an action we choose, not according to how we feel. If we want to create new habits and patterns in our lives, we have to accept that feelings must be ignored and that it usually takes at least three weeks of daily effort before we can become comfortable with a new practice. It will then take another three weeks for it to become a part of us. The Bible calls this endurance. The apostle James actually tells us that to endure (remember? deny self, take up cross, follow Me) is what brings us happiness (James 5:11). It is through willing, prayerful, and continued obedience to the gospel, the words of God, that we build a godly and happy life. Happy? Yes, even when faced with burdensome or disgraceful problems. The Bible describes this as a “walk” with God. Constant, continual, and with endurance, walking within “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7).

There are only two ways to live. One is all about self: “My feelings & my desires dictate what I do.” The other says “I choose to obey God.” What is your choice? And if you do choose God over self, do you trust God when He says you can do it?

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I had a little tea party
This afternoon at three.
‘Twas very small --
Three guests in all --
Just I, Myself and Me.

Myself ate all the sandwiches,
While I drank up the tea;
‘Twas also I who ate the pie
And passed the cake to me.

via Joanne's pleonast blog

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NOTE FROM PAT: Such a cute little poem, above. It could go along with several kinds of articles like contentment with being alone with self or perhaps an article on selfishness. I have chosen another topic from Joanne's Pleonast blog to go along with the poem... having a tea party, not by choice, but by circumstance. 

Alone, All Alone

by Joanne Beckley

During this festive season, I am hearing a lot of pain, expressing how very alone they feel at this time of year. “My husband is dead.” “I’ve lost my career.” “My sweetheart has chosen another.” “My husband is sleeping with another woman.” These are painful words that I realize reflect deep grief because the pain is seemingly too strong and deep to bear. I understand that even after the sharp pains of grief lessen, we have to face that we no longer have someone nearby who knows, understands and accepts us as we are. People all around us – yet so far away. Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. . . .

What we don’t realize is that we can experience two kinds of loneliness, and often the combination of both. Physically separated, we feel a deep loss, no longer able to feel the touch of those we love and who love us. But it is the other kind of loneliness that is far heavier to bear. It is when we feel an isolation in spirit. It is when eyes glaze into ours, and they cannot read our deep needs. As the psalmist said, “No man cares for my soul” (Psalm 142).

Jesus Christ suffered from an isolation in spirit but he sought help from the only source who could give him relief. Rejected and misunderstood he spent much time in prayer with his father in heaven. Even on the night of his betrayal, he urged his disciples to also seek help . . . but they slept on. Jesus has provided us with the key to triumph over loneliness while we face our problems. He told his disciples, “The Father is with me” (John 16:32). Knowing that He was doing God’s will, Jesus could totally depend on God’s nearness to Him. This too can be our strength in times of loneliness.

Loneliness is caused by a breakdown in emotionally giving and receiving. It is downright difficult to reach out or to accept loving care in return. The pain seems overwhelming. Might I suggest the following determined activities that helped me and can help you return to the joy of service that in turn helps us to manage our feelings of loneliness.

1. First and foremost, dust off your Bible and study the Scriptures. “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13). Belief includes living what we believe. Therefore we must obey His commands.
2. Forgive those who have hurt you. “Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." (Luke 6:37-38).
3. With obedience to God in mind, list compelling goals for your life.
4. Reach out and serve. Looking to the needs of others releases us from being self-centered. "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" (Acts 20:35)
5. Write your prayers in a notebook where you can return to previous pages and actually see proof that your prayers are being answered.
6. Learn a new skill and seek ways to use it in helping others.
7. Make an effort to improve your health. Dress each morning – including proper footwear.
8. Plan tomorrow’s tasks so that you can arise from you bed with purpose.
9. Treat yourself with something you enjoy doing.
10. Accept that change is accomplished one day at a time.

Psalm 121
I will lift up my eyes to the hills-
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.


Advice from a widow:

I'm a widow and live alone. Please invite me into your family to share in common things. Many people are very attentive at the beginning, but the loneliness lasts and is sharper weeks and months longer. Call me. Suggest we get together. Though I initiate contact with others, I sometimes feel like I'm horning in. Hug me. Put an arm around me or rub my shoulders. I have lost the human contact of my mate. Call on me for help. I need to feel needed. Don't always put me with the girls. I long for male conversation (even just listening) at times. Sometimes I grow weary of woman's talk and just want a male point of view. I have lost my balancer. My husband balanced my way of thinking by helping me understand his thoughts on subjects. Invite me to sit with you at services or just come sit by me. Mention something that you loved about my husband or just that you miss him. I don't want to feel that everyone has forgotten him. Call me or write me a note on his birthday, our anniversary or the date he died just to let me know you're thinking of me. Tell me that you know my husband would be proud of me for "doing so well."

written 12/21/09




http://ourhopeonline.com

September/October 2017