Our Children's Companions

Over twenty years ago, when my husband and I moved into the home we are in now, my sons were 12 and 9 years of age. There were many young children in this neighborhood at the time, and my boys were eager to make new friends. At first, my husband and I were delighted to see our kids forming new attachments, but then we began noticing the negative behavior of many of our neighbors’ sons and daughters. Eventually, Joe and I had to forbid our boys to associate with the neighborhood kids.

What happened next only confirmed our suspicions. The kids that were not allowed to be friends with my children began attacking our house and property. They did so much damage that we had to get the police and our insurance company involved, and we eventually had to have all new siding put on our entire house. As the years passed, our sons were sometimes attacked verbally, and even physically, by the neighborhood children. And my husband and I did our best to protect them, along with God’s guidance and help.

As I look back, I have to admit that if I had to do it all over again, I would still make the difficult decision to forbid my children to hang out with the neighborhood gang. Even with all of the persecution and grief we endured from those who lived among us, I know in my heart that I did the right thing. The Bible says, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.'” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV) No matter how we try to convince ourselves otherwise, we are affected by those we spend time with. I know that my children would not be the godly, well-adjusted, and successful young men that they are today, if I had not kept a close watch on their companionships.

If you are a parent, the Lord holds you responsible for protecting your children from toxic relationships. Even if your children are adults, you have a responsibility to give them good, sound counsel in this area, and to pray for them to make wise choices. Scripture says, “Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.” (2 Timothy 2:22 NLT) Pray this verse for your children regularly, and trust God to work in their lives and hearts as you cooperate with His good plans for them!

Reaching the Unreachable

My husband, Joe, has a long-time friend who has been running away from God all of his life. Several years ago, the Lord led me to begin praying for this man and his family on a regular basis. I stood on God’s promise which says: “He will even deliver the one [for whom you intercede] who is not innocent; yes, he will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.” (Job 22:30 AMP)

Well, my husband’s friend didn’t turn his life over to Christ after I prayed, but his son did. Not only did this son get saved, but he married a Christlike believer who encouraged his devotion to the Lord. They have three children now–grandchildren of my husband’s friend–and God is using these little ones, and their godly parents, to draw this man to Him. Now they can claim God’s promise in Acts 16:31 (NASB), which says: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And I believe with all my heart that it’s only a matter of time before Joe’s friend surrenders his life to the Lord.

If you have people you care about who are unsaved, pray faithfully for them. Even if they look like a hopeless case, rest assured that the Lord has a way of reaching them, perhaps even through their own loved ones. Let this encouraging promise from the Scriptures fill you with a fresh sense of hope today–“The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].” (James 5:16 AMP)

Don't Act Hastily

If you are facing a decision of some sort right now, I have a word from the Lord for you today. It’s Psalm 106:13 (NKJV), which says: “Whoever believes will not act hastily.” In other words, when our trust is truly in God, the way it’s supposed to be, we will not make a move without seeking His direction, wisdom, and help. We will take the time to pause, to get still in our hearts and minds, and to seek the Lord through focused prayer and Scripture reading. A trusting soul will believe that God really does know best, and that He always wants what is best for us.

Sometimes when we’re facing circumstances that trouble us, we can be tempted to take matters into our own hands, instead of waiting on God and following the leadership of His Spirit. This strategy can actually make matters worse, and can even create a new set of problems that will leave us with feelings of regret in the long run.

The truth is that it can be downright dangerous for us to try to hurry up God’s plans for us, or to try to make something happen that is out of His perfect will or timing. Responding to situations like this only proves that we believe that we know better than God what is best for us.

You can’t even begin to imagine what the Lord has planned for you, if you’ll only refuse to act hastily today. Let this promise from His Word sustain and encourage you: “For from of old no one has heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who works and shows Himself active on behalf of him who [earnestly] waits for Him.” (Isaiah 64:4 AMP)

The Results of Waiting on God's Promises

One of the greatest encouragements we could ever give someone else, is to let them see the results of our standing on God’s promises in times of uncertainty and difficulty. When we are facing adversity, and we refuse to panic or act hastily apart from God, people take notice, because it’s not a natural or common reaction these days.

Scripture says: “Those who reverently and worshipfully fear You will see me and be glad, because I have hoped in Your word and tarried for it.” (Psalm 119:74 AMP) Here, the psalmist declares that He has committed himself to waiting on God to fulfill His promises to him, and that he expects the Lord to make good on His Word. He acknowledges that this strategy will not only profit himself, but that it will prove to others that believing God, and waiting on His promises, is the right way to live.

In the eyes of the Lord, your problems have a high purpose, and God can use them to bring about great good on your behalf, and on behalf of others, if you let Him. Ask the Lord today, “How can I cooperate with You to show others that believing and waiting on Your Word is the best way to live?”

What Are You Listening To?

My husband, Joe, and I were spending the day cleaning house recently, when he put on some music we used to enjoy when we first met many years ago. When I heard it, I froze in my tracks. The lyrics were offensive to me, and I yelled at my husband, and demanded that he turn it off immediately. He was stunned. “You don’t like it?” he asked, incredulous. “I hate it, and I don’t ever want to hear it again!”

As I resumed my cleaning, the realization that I had loved that music in years past sickened me. How could I have listened to—and actually enjoyed—such dark, depressing, and degrading music? How it must have grieved the Lord’s heart when I devoted my attention to it the way I did. I began to hear the apostle Paul’s words in my head, saying, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8 NASB) Paul knew that what we listen to goes into our spirits and becomes part of us, often forever.

The simple truth is that we can’t “dwell on” the things of God, or the good things in life, if we are feeding and programming our hearts and minds with worldly thoughts and ideas. Filling ourselves wrongly will steal our peace and joy, and it will make it hard for us to hear God’s voice, and to receive from Him.

You and I have a high calling from God on our lives, and we can’t afford to compromise our walk with Him in the name of “entertainment”. Ask yourself today, “How serious am I about receiving God’s best?”

Right and Wrong Ways to Discipline

When my children were in their teens, we as a family experienced some very tense times. I confess that I often struggled with anger, frustration, and bitterness, and that I didn’t always carry out my parental duties in a godly or Christlike manner. One day, when I was seeking the Lord about the tension in our home, He led me to a revealing verse of Scripture. Proverbs 19:18 (AMP) says: “Discipline your son while there is hope, but do not [indulge your angry resentments by undue chastisements and] set yourself to his ruin.” I knew this was a warning from God that I had to be very careful not to indulge my feelings of bitterness and resentment, by using disciplinary measures that might make me feel good momentarily, but that could do my children serious harm.

The apostle Paul gives a similar word of caution when he says: “Do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 AMP) The Bible makes it clear that there are right ways and wrong ways to instruct, correct, and discipline our children, so how do we know which tactics to employ in each situation? We pray and ask the Lord to show us exactly what to do. The Bible says in James 1:5 that whenever we need wisdom, all we need to do is to ask God for it, and He will supply it liberally.

We don’t own our children–they belong to the Lord. But He gives them to us for a relatively short time so that we can raise them up to love God and people, and to be a blessing to us and others in His name. If you are a parent, then you have a very important job to do. Do it well by seeking God’s wisdom, strength, and help continually, knowing that when you aim to please the Lord, you will have all the resources of heaven on your side!

I Will Go in the Strength of the Lord

Years ago, when I had an appointment to go to that I was dreading, the Lord gave me a Scripture that encourages me to this day. It’s Psalm 71:16 (NKJV), which says, “I will go in the strength of the Lord God.” I’ve discovered that when I declare this verse, trusting the Lord to strengthen and empower me, He is faithful to provide me with everything I need to persevere and prevail.

I’ve also discovered that it’s important for me to cooperate with God to prepare myself properly for stressful appointments and events. I do that by confessing my fears and anxieties to the Lord, and praying in advance for His help. The psalmist declared, “I am too distressed even to pray!” (Psalm 77:4 NLT) Often, that’s exactly how I feel, too, once I’m in the midst of a stressful situation. Then, my prayers are not as focused, and my thinking is often scattered.

I always ask the Lord for a favorable outcome, and I ask Him for the desires of my heart. I also say things like, “Lord, I’m trusting You to make this appointment go well for me.” Or, “I’m expecting You to work mightily on my behalf.” I’ve learned that God will do things for us when we pray, that He won’t do for us when we don’t pray.

The next time you are facing something that fills you with fear and dread, make your mind up to “go in the strength of the Lord God,” and to cooperate with Him for your victory and success!

God's Plans and Purposes for You

Romans 8:28 is one of the most quoted and most beloved verses in all of Scripture, with good reason. It is God’s promise to His devoted ones that He will cause everything—even every hurt and heartache—to profit them somehow. It reads: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (NASB)

I recently did a study on the word, “purpose,” as used in this verse, and discovered that it has a rich meaning behind it. It says that God’s plans and purposes for us are specific and deliberate, not vague or left to chance. Before we even showed up on Planet Earth, the Lord already had in mind what He wanted us to do and become. Ephesians 2:10 (AMP) says it this way: “For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].”

No matter what anyone has told you, if you are a follower of Christ, God has unique and specific plans and purposes for your life, and they are good. In fact, if you will give Him first place in your life, and follow His lead on a moment-by-moment basis, you will discover that He even has GREAT plans for you. Even if your parents didn’t want you, and you were told that you were a mistake, God wanted you. And He has paths already prepared for you that will lead to extraordinary and unexpected blessings, opportunities, and rewards.

Today, I encourage you to take these divine promises and truths to heart, and discover the “good life” and the “good works” that are your inheritance in Christ!

God's Warnings and Rewards

If it seems like I talk about the Word of God a lot in my writing, there’s a very good reason for that. The Word has changed my life, my family, and our circumstances, and I am determined to believe it, and to devote myself to it, all the rest of my days. The Bible makes it clear that we are called to “fear,” or “revere,” the Lord. That means that we are to trust and obey Him in everything. We simply can’t fulfill this responsibility without the Word of God. After all, how can we obey God’s commands when we don’t even know what they are?

Psalm 19:9,11 (NIV) says: “The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. By them Your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” If in every situation we face, we consult the Lord and His Word on the subject involved, He will lead us to the Scriptures that will show us the right thing to do, and that will warn us against wrongdoing. If we will follow His lead, we simply can’t lose. Using this divine strategy, we will be able to avoid pitfalls that could lead to financial problems, health troubles, and wrong relationships. The better choices we make in every area of our lives, the more we will experience the peace, joy, and wholeness that the Lord desires us to.

Ask yourself today, “Am I heeding God’s warnings in His Word, and reaping the rich rewards He has for me?”