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ScriptureHear my prayer, O LORD, And let my cry come to You. 2Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble; Incline Your ear to me; In the day that I call, answer me speedily. 3For my days are consumed like smoke, And my bones are burned like a hearth. . .   This will be written for the generation to come, That a people yet to be created may praise the LORD. Psalm 102:11-3, 8 (NKJV)

 

Observation: Some think that David penned this psalm at the time of Absalom’s rebellion; others that Daniel, Nehemiah, or some other prophet, penned it for the use of the church, when it was in captivity in Babylon, because it seems to speak of the ruin of Zion and of a time set for the rebuilding of it, which Daniel understood by books, Dan. 9:2. Or perhaps the psalmist was himself in great affliction, which he complains of in the beginning of the psalm, but (as in Ps. 77 and elsewhere) he comforts himself under it with the consideration of God’s eternity, and the church’s prosperity and perpetuity, how much soever it was now distressed and threatened. But it is clear, from the application of v. 25, 26, to Christ (Heb. 1:10–12), that the psalm has reference to the days of the Messiah, and speaks either of his affliction or of the afflictions of his church for his sake. In the psalm we have, I. A sorrowful complaint which the psalmist makes, either for himself or in the name of the church, of great afflictions, which were very pressing (v. 1–11). II. Seasonable comfort fetched in against these grievances, 1. From the eternity of God (v. 12, 24, 27). 2. From a believing prospect of the deliverance which God would, in due time, work for his afflicted church (v. 13–22) and the continuance of it in the world (v. 28). In singing this psalm, if we have not occasion to make the same complaints, yet we may take occasion to sympathize with those that have, and then the comfortable part of this psalm will be the more comfortable to us in the singing of it. [Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: Complete and unabridged in one volume (888). Peabody: Hendrickson.]

 

Application: A mud slide destroyed many homes and killed many people, in fact, it wiped out an entire community.  A airliner crashed killing all its occupants and leaving many families grieving their loss.  A child was diagnosed with terminal cancer and her life was cut short at the tender age of three.  Three firefighters were killed fighting an apartment fire in a large city.  A building collapsed killing many of its residents.  Five soldiers were killed with a road-side bomb.

We read, hear, or see stories like these almost every day in the news or online.  We hear them so often that they lose their impact the more often they happen.  It is as if we become immunized to the bad news a little at a time…until it happens to us or to someone we know personally.  It’s one thing to hear of a plane crash, but it’s another to know one of the passengers.  It’s one thing to hear of a police officer that was killed, but it’s another thing to have known him personally and attend his funeral.  It’s one thing to hear of the young cancer victim, but it’s another thing to be her pastor, her parent, or her grandparent.

For any one of us experiencing deep pain and sorrow David’s words become ours.  While we’re going through the darkest moments in our lives it is as if God were not there.  We cry out, “God, please, don’t hide from me in my pain!”  But the psalmist words are also very encouraging.  God is not hiding His face from us in our pain and sorrow.  On the contrary, His face shines in our darkness, His warmth surrounds us when we feel alone, and at the end we will sing His praises.

 

A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, thank You for always being next to us in our pain and sorrow.  We trust You and that one day we will be able to praise Your name and tell others of your love and encouragement during our darkest hours.

Scripture: “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. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you…” (1 Timothy 4:12-14 NKJV)

Observation: Thy youth. Timothy was probably not 40 years old, and yet would have numerous elders under his charge (see ch. 5:1, 17, 19). From ch. 4:12–16 some have concluded that Timothy was timid and reticent by nature, more given to obey than to command, and that Paul’s counsel here was intended to correct this supposed defect. Youth is no barrier to a rich spiritual fellowship with God, and old age is not a guarantee of sound thinking or complete dedication. Men, according to Paul, are to be judged by their sanctified abilities and not by arbitrary standards such as age. [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 7. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (305–306). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

Application: How many times have you told your child, “You are too young.”  Yes, there are things that may not be “age appropriate” for our child. But, the scriptural focus today is a strong reminder for us as parents. We are raising ministers! We cannot underestimate how God can use our little ones to bring others to Him. That child like innocence, honesty, and true love for Jesus can impact others in ways that adults cannot. This is one thing that they are not too young to do. Regardless of their age, they can use their gifts to witness to others.

From a very young age, our little ones can be taught they can be a minister. Ministry should not be seen to be reserved for the pastor of the church or the deacons or elders only. Let them know that they can serve others too. Engage them in simple acts of kindness and service to others.

Toddlers can make cheerful cards to give to a neighbor who is ill or to take to a nursing care facility. They can call or skype someone who may not be having a good day and sing an uplifting song. Older children can rake a neighbor’s fallen leaves or shovel the snow from a driveway. Helping to make and deliver homemade cookies or bread can also be a ministry.

Too small? Too young? Never! “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… Do not neglect the gift that is in you…” (I Timothy 4:12-14 NKJV)

A Prayer You May Say: Lord, help me to lead my child to be Your disciple. Use the gifts that You have given him/her to bring others to You. Help me to not overlook the gifts and potential that You have blessed my child with. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Scripture: “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (1 Chronicles 16:34 NKJV)

Observation: 16:34 Oh give thanks to Yahweh This verse is most likely adapted from Psa 106:1, although both refrains are common throughout the Psalms (Pss 107:1; 118:1; 136:1). See Psa 106:1 and note.

his loyal love is everlasting This refrain acts as a repeated chorus in some Psalms (Pss 118:1–4; 136:1–26). [Barry, J. D., Grigoni, M. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (1 Ch 16:34). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.]

Application: Have you stopped to listen to your prayers lately? Are they characterized by long “to do” lists for God?  As parents, it is easy to fall into this trap. We can quickly recite a long list of things for God to “fix” in our children.

Don’t allow the negative to overshadow the good. There is more good than bad but focusing on the bad prevents you from seeing the blessings that are right in front of you. That strong willed chichitchat gives you so much trouble now will be able to stand up to his/her peers later. So, give thanks! That child who talks non-stop may grow up to be a preacher. So, give thanks! That child who seems to have an argument for everything may stand before courts to argue for religious liberty one day. So, give thanks!  What may seem like a negative trait today may be used by God for His purposes tomorrow. So, give thanks!

When you are tempted to complain, think again. Give thanks instead. You will feel better and your family will also benefit from a more positive you. “Oh, give thanks to the Lord. For His mercy endures forever!”

A Prayer You May Say: Dear Lord, thank you for the special gift you gave me in my child. Thank you for… ( make a list of all of the positive traits you see in your child. Be specific. Take this time to focus on what’s right in them and give thanks to God).

Scripture: “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NKJV)

Observation: care—“anxiety? The advantage flowing from humbling ourselves under God’s hand (1 Pe 5:6) is confident reliance on His goodness. Exemption from care goes along with humble submission to God.

careth for you—literally “respecting you.” Care is a burden which faith casts off the man on his God. Compare Ps 22:10; 37:5; 55:22, to which Peter alludes; Lu 12:22, 37; Php 4:6.

careth—not so strong a Greek word as the previous Greek “anxiety.” [Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1 Pe 5:7). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.]

Application: Do you have those days when the challenges of parenting seem too big to bear?  Every day is not filled with hugs, teddy bears, and cuddles. There are days that are not how we envisioned- screaming, sibling rivalry, grumbling, spilled milk, dirty diapers, doctor appointments and sick kids. And, all of this must somehow fit into an already packed calendar.

Even on those days when you feel that you are dealing with all of the parenting challenges alone, the good news is that you are not alone. Your Heavenly Father walks beside you. He sees the messes made. He hears the crying toddler. He knows the exact number of times that you have had to wipe runny noses, change diapers, and pick up toys left on the stairs. And, through it all, He promises to be with you. Yes, He is with you as you sit in the darkened nursery and try to rock a crying baby to sleep. He waits with you in the emergency room at the hospital while your child is burning with fever.

You do not walk alone. No matter how dark the night or strong the storm, you have a forever companion. As you go throughout the day today, remember the words of our scriptural focus, “He cares for you.” Cast those burdens and cares upon Him. He is willing and able to bear them for you.

A Prayer You May Say: Dear Lord, thank you for co-parenting with me. It is a joy to know that I will not face this day alone. I go forward knowing that You will walk beside me. Thank you for caring for me! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Scripture:  “I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers.”  Philemon 1:4 (NASB)

Observation: My prayers. Sharing with God the joys and sorrows of life as friend to friend, is prayer at its best. Again, Paul reminds Philemon of the deep respect and gratitude the apostle feels toward him. Tactfully, Paul prepares the way for Philemon to accord Onesimus a kindly reception. There is an abundance of encouragement in the certain knowledge that a beloved and respected friend is praying for us, that this friend has full confidence in our integrity and sanctified judgment (see vs. 5–7). Such is the assurance that Paul gives Philemon. 9 The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 7. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (379). Review and Herald Publishing Association)

Application: Do you see your child as a gift from God?  He has entrusted you with one of the greatest treasures you will ever own. Yet, do our words regard them as such? If we were to take an inventory perhaps we would be surprised at how often we speak in ways that are to the contrary.

Focusing on the negative is an easy trap to fall in to. Complaining and griping is one of Satan’s tactics that all too often work. Do you often find yourself speaking negatively about your child? It is easy to make our daily prayers look more like a “fix it” list. That list becomes long as we spend prayer time asking God to “fix” our children and our spouse. We gladly hand God His “to do” list every day. Our prayers ascend to the heavenly throne and sound like this… “Lord, fix John’s grumbling, make Katie quit fighting with her little sister, help Michael study harder and make better grades, and please let Susie sleep through the night. “

When was the last time that you devoted prayer time exclusively to thanking God for each member of your family?  Mention them by name and thank God for specific things about each one. And, don’t forget to tell them too. Knowing that you have been a praise on someone’s prayer list can be powerful. By focusing on the positives our daily “fix it” lists to God can become times of thanksgiving and praise. ” Lord, thank you for John’s ability to see things that need changing, thank you that little Katie can stand up for herself when she sees injustice, thank you that Michael enjoys being out in your creation, and thank you for little Susie’s energy. “

A Prayer You May Say: Dear Lord, thank you for (insert your child’s name). Thank You for the awesome priviledge of being his/her parent. Thank you for the gifts such as (be specific and list positives).  In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Scripture:  “God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that he won’t stop before it is complete on the day that Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6 (CEV)

Observation:  a good work—Any work that God begins, He will surely finish (1Sa 3:12). Not even men begin a work at random. Much more the fact of His beginning the work is a pledge of its completion (Is 26:12). So as to the particular work here meant, the perfecting of their fellowship in the Gospel (Php 1:5; Ps 37:24; 89:33; 138:8; Jn 10:28, 29; Jn 10:28, 29, Ro 8:29, 35–39 Heb 6:17–19; Jam 1:17; Jud 1:24). As God cast not off Israel for ever, though chastening them for a time, so He will not cast off the spiritual Israel (De 33:3; Is 27:3; 1Pe 1:5). [Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Php 1:6). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.]

Application:  Growth takes time and yet, as parents we often expect perfection in our children overnight. It is far too easy to forget that He is not finished yet. As adults we struggle with certain behaviors and continue to grow and mature spiritually throughout our lifetime. Remember, the text for today tells me that the work God is doing in my life will not be complete until the day that Jesus returns to take me home with Him. Why is it that we want our children to overcome their challenges and we want the change to happen NOW?

 Don’t be impatient with your child. Focus on the positives. Look for areas where you see growth and take the time to affirm that in your child. If your child only hears about their faults they will become discouraged, develop poor self- esteem, and not be motivated to attempt new things for fear of failure. It is through failures that we all learn. It is only in falling that we learn how to get up.

I’m thankful that I serve a God who never gives up on me. And, we should never give up on our children! The scripture verse also reminds me that “He won’t stop.”  Christ keeps working on my heart and my attitudes day after day. He loves me and continually forgives me and allows me to start anew. Now, that’s great news for us and for our children!

A Prayer You May Say:  Dear Lord, please help me to exercise patience with my child. I trust You to finish the work that You have started in them, and in me. In the name of Jesus, amen. 

Title: A Handsome Child                               Topic: Parenting

 

Scripture: So the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months. (Ex.2:2, NKJV)

 

Observation:  A goodly child. Even as a babe Moses gave evidence of the keen intellect, emotional stability, and also the physical perfection that marked his later years. All of this is implied in the Hebrew word translated “goodly.” Jochebed saw in these qualities a token of divine approval, which she took as a sign that God had marked out some special task for him. According to Acts 7:20 he was, literally, “attractive [“beautiful,” RSV] to God.” This is rendered in the KJV as “exceeding fair.” Jochebed would of course have loved and protected Moses even if he had not been so “goodly” a child, for mothers often devote their deepest love to weak and sickly children. However, Jochebed’s efforts to preserve the life of Moses are praised in Heb. 11:23 as an act of faith, and this implies awareness on her part that God had destined him for an important role and would therefore intervene to preserve his life. This, however, does not necessarily confirm a statement by the Jewish historian Josephus (Antiquities ii. 9. 3) that it had been revealed to Amram before the birth of the child that he was appointed to be the savior of Israel. (The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 1. 1978 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (501). Review and Herald Publishing Association.)

 

Application:  Every time I read the words of today’s text I find it interesting that Jochebed saw that her son, Moses, was handsome.  What mother doesn’t think their child is handsome?  Well, in a poll of 1000 parents in the United Kingdom[1] revealed their feelings and reactions when they first set eyes on their babies.  Of the 18 per cent who admitted being disappointed by the looks of their child, more than half had discussed their feelings with their partners but only eight per cent said they had spoken to anyone else about it.  Instead it seems the vast majority suffer their disappointment in silence, choosing to put on the brave face society expects.

A spokesman for the company that conducted the survey explained that as human beings we are wired to love our babies and the poll overwhelmingly supports the theory that we all fall in love with our children at first sight.  At the same time, loving your baby doesn’t have to mean that you think he/she is beautiful.  It appears that every parent feels a pressure to say their new baby is beautiful but only four out of five actually believe it.  And yet, the remaining fifth who secretly feel their baby is ugly don’t love them any less and may even feel the need to spoil them more than they would a good looking baby.

Were you a little disappointed with your child’s look when you first laid eyes on him/her?  Maybe that has to do with the world’s idea of what constitutes a beautiful baby.  We have seen the “Gerber” baby on so many baby food jars, posters, and commercials that we expect ours to look just like that.  But the reality is that our children are beautiful because they are ours. . . and they are God’s children.  At first, many children are a bit “disfigured” as a result of the trauma of going through the birth canal, or when they are premature, but with time their head assumes the proper shape,  they fill up with normal baby fat, and act more and more like these precious little creatures, looking so much like us, and we fall in love with them more and more every day.  Love your child, no matter what your first feelings about their looks may be.

 

A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, thank you for our children, your gift to us.  May they experience our love toward them in the same way we experience Your love toward us.

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