When it comes to the Reformation, one of the most important topics to discuss is Martin Luther on Scripture. Recorded on location in Germany, Dr. Stephen Nichols looks at Luther’s teaching on Scripture and his three steps for reading and studying the Bible.
When it comes to the Reformation, one of the most important topics to discuss is Martin Luther on Scripture. There are a number of things that we could say about this topic, but let’s look at just a few.
The first is the authority of Scripture. We see this in Luther at the Leipzig Debate in 1519. One of the monuments to Luther, in Eisleben, has an etching on the side of a very angry-looking Roman Catholic official. That angry-looking official is Johann Eck. On the other side of Eck is Luther, and Eck is holding in his hand some bound-up documents, while Luther is holding a book—the Bible—and that tells it all. Eck at Leipzig appealed to the teachings of the councils, the teachings of the church, and those rolled-up documents represent that. He came at Luther and the Wittenberg Reformers from the context of the church and the church’s authority. And Luther said to Eck, “I have an authority that is older than yours,” and, of course, this astounded Eck and he said, “Name them.” Luther said, “Paul and Peter and John.” He appealed directly to the authority of Scripture at Leipzig and, of course, he did the same thing at Worms. So, at Worms he said, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God.” When he said, “Here I stand,” he was standing on Scripture and standing firm on the foundation of Scripture. And because Scripture is authoritative, we should read it and we should study it.
Among the many things Luther said about the Bible, he offered a lot of counsel about how to read it and study it. One text in particular that helps us is a preface to a collection of his writings in German. He gives three steps for reading and studying the Bible. The first step is oratio, or “prayer.” The Psalms are especially helpful here. Luther was very familiar with the Psalms. As a monk, he would have been in the Psalms seven times a day. They took Psalm 119:164 very literally: “Seven times in the day I will praise Thee,” that text says. So Luther and his fellow monks would take seven periods out of their day to spend in the Psalms. Luther loved the Psalms. Some contend that Luther had the Psalter memorized, and he often had the Hebrew Psalter with him, and after that he would also have the Latin Psalter with him as a monk. This was a book he lived in, and it was a book that taught him not only that he should learn Scripture but that he should pray Scripture. So, the Psalms can be very helpful for us as we think about Scripture and as we seek to approach it prayerfully.
The second step is meditatio. Luther says the temptation is to push on, to rush on, to just simply read the text. Luther cautions us, he counsels us, he encourages us to simply pause, to meditate on God’s Word. And again, the Psalms are helpful here because the psalmists often call on us to meditate on God’s Word.
The third step in studying the Bible is tentatio, or “struggle.” Just as Jacob wrestled with the angel, we wrestle and struggle with Scripture. The struggle, Luther says, comes from our unbelief, our doubt, our stubbornness; ultimately, it comes from our sin, and the Word of God confronts it all.
That’s Luther on Scripture, the authority of Scripture, and how to read and study and learn and labor in and even love this Word that God has given us.
(This podcast is by Ligonier Ministries. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)
On this episode of 5 Minutes in Church History, Dr. Stephen Nichols is joined by Dr. Michael Kruger to discuss how the canon was recognized in the early church.
Stephen Nichols (SN): Today we have a very special guest: Dr. Michael Kruger. He is the president and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. Kruger, welcome.
Michael Kruger (MK): Thanks, Steve. Great to be here.
SN: I’m looking forward to having a conversation with you about a very important topic. You’ve given a lot of attention and energy to the topic of the canon.
SN: So, let’s talk about the canon. Now, let’s get one thing straight. We’re talking about canon with one n in the middle. Is that right?
MK: That’s right. Canon, not cannon that would blow somebody up. This is a standard or list or rule.
SN: Okay, so we’ve got that established. This is canon with one n. What do we need to know about the canon in the early church?
MK: Well, there’s a lot to say there, Steve. I think most people probably labor with a number of misconceptions about the canon, and so one of the things I try to do is to help people undo those misconceptions. Probably the largest misconception out there is this idea that canon is a late imposition on books written for another purpose. In other words, people think these books were written with no intention of being authoritative documents; they were written sort of as occasional texts that only later—centuries later—Christians began to realize, “Wow, these are really great books and maybe we should consider these Scripture. Tell you what, let’s have a canon and put these in it,” something like that. So, the first thing, I think, that people need to understand is that these books were not just written as texts that had bearing only a certain situation or people; that Paul, for example, as an Apostle, wrote with conscious authority. Even in the first century, he understood himself as writing books to govern and guide the church. And this is an important thing that I think people miss.
SN: We find Peter speaking of the writings of Paul—and I always find this helpful because I get stumped by Paul sometimes; it’s helpful to know, well, Peter was stumped by Paul—and he’ll say, “There are some things in [Paul’s letters] that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16).
MK: Yes, absolutely. And that shows you that even in the first century how in that text, somewhere in the 60s, people were already viewing Apostolic books as scriptural books. So, you didn’t have to wait for the third or fourth century for this idea that you ought to have books that are regarded as Scripture in the New Testament.
SN: Now, as you look at the essence of the New Testament, we see a general consensus around the Gospels, we see a general consensus around Paul, but there were some sort of fuzzy boundaries there in those early centuries. What were some of the issues that were going on?
MK: What I like to help people understand is that by the early second century or middle second century there was really a wide and unified consensus on what we might call the core of the New Testament canon. The core of the New Testament canon would include things like the four Gospels, Acts, Paul’s thirteen letters, books like 1 Peter, 1 John, Revelation, and so on. So, about twenty-two out of the twenty-seven would have been pretty well established. What that means, then, is that for the books that were under discussion, if you will, there was maybe a little bit more disagreement about them were the small ones. So, this would have been books like 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, James, books like that.
SN: Was Philemon ever an issue?
MK: Philemon wasn’t really ever an issue. Philemon was just not talked about very much and often just no one mentioned it. So, for example, Irenaeus, a second-century church father, when he mentions all of Paul’s letters except Philemon, that doesn’t mean he rejects Philemon; it just means that Philemon is such a little book that he may not get around to saying much about it. I imagine that is still true in the modern day.
SN: Then there were other books that we do not have in our twenty-seven books of the New Testament.
SN: So, what were some of those?
MK: In the second century there were books in circulation that people sometimes used that they were kind of hanging on the edges. An example of this is the Shepherd of Hermas, which was a popular book in early Christianity, or 1 Clement, which was a letter that some valued. And then you have what we call apocryphal gospels, gospels that are outside the canon such as the Gospel of Thomas or the Gospel of Peter. We know people read them now and then but they never had much popularity and they never really were true contenders for the canon.
SN: In fact, we find some very early church fathers outright rejecting these gospels as false gospels.
MK: Yes, despite the claims of many modern scholars that these were popular and widely received, the fact of the matter is that when they were mentioned, which isn’t very often, they were condemned quite directly. So, there was never really a chance that they would be in the canon.
SN: Well, Dr. Kruger, thank you for being with us. I’ve been enjoying our conversation. Maybe we’ll have to have another conversation about the cannon with two n’s sometime. That would be just as explosive.
MK: That would be fun.
(This podcast is by Ligonier Ministries. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)
Though we have the promise that as His sheep we hear his voice, too many believers are starved for that intimate relationship that alone can satisfy the desire of their hearts. Many people who have read my blogs ask me how I can be so sure what I am hearing is really Him. Do I just make it up in my head? I get the looks. You know the ones; the small smirk because they really think you are crazy. No one can talk to God, right?. When you are ready to really press in and exercise your faith, I can assure you that when you truly hear Him, there is no one who can convince you that it is not His voice you hear.
This kind of intimacy with Jesus is the key to all that you struggle with in your life. When you know you hear His voice, you will never feel alone again. The awareness that His presence is always there gives you confidence that He is in control, even at the most terrifying times.
Key 1: God’s voice in your heart often sounds like a flow of spontaneous thoughts that you come to realize is not coming from you. It is just like a real conversation, because it is. I imagine Him seated next to me at the table where I study and talk to Him as if we are having coffee (which I usually am). It was at one of these times that He told me to write a book, told me what title to give it, and who to talk to when it was completed. More on that in a later chapter.
Key 2: Be still in your mind so you can sense God’s flow of thoughts and emotions within. I had to learn how to bring all my thoughts captive, and then throw them off. We are always at war with an enemy who wants nothing more than to cloud our communication with his destructive suggestions:
“What will people think? You are deceiving yourself. You are just really losing it, Dixie. What makes you think God Himself will talk to you?“
And it goes on and on as long as I am receptive to his suggestions of doubt and fear, and agree with him. Remember, Satan can’t read our minds. He can only introduce his voice as if it is God’s. Don’t agree with him…you can judge it by the Word and how you feel when he speaks. Jesus only brings peace.
Key 3: As you talk to Him, fix the eyes of your new heart upon Jesus, seeing in the Spirit the dreams and visions of Almighty God. He gave us an imagination to use to exercise our faith. This is exciting. Step out there in the Spirit. Believe in His supernatural power working in and through you. Use your imagination and see Him sitting there smiling at you, chuckling in delight with your personality. He will show you things to come and give you visions and Words. Did you know He has a great personality? We laugh and cry together. I sing to Him, and He sings to me.
Key 4: Journaling. The recording of your prayers and God’s answers brings great freedom in hearing God’s voice. It is a two-way conversation on paper. I have found it to be a fabulous catalyst for clearly discerning God’s inner spontaneous flow, because as I journal, I am able to write in faith for long periods of time, simply believing it is God. Doubt blocks divine communication. When you are familiar with His Word and His Spirit within you, you know when the voice you’re hearing is not His. With journaling, I can receive in faith, knowing that when the flow has ended, I can test and examine it carefully, making sure that it lines up with scripture. My belief is that when you blindly step out in faith, He will never let you down. Jesus smiles and is delighted that you are venturing outside your reasoning. Isn’t that what faith is?
You will be amazed when you journal. Doubt may hinder you at first, but throw it off, reminding yourself that it is a biblical concept, and that God is present, speaking to you, His child. Relax. When we cease our labors and enter His rest, God is free to flow (Hebrews 4:10). Sit back comfortably, take out your pen and paper, smile, and turn your attention toward the Lord in adoration, seeking His face. I just write out my heart to Him…I talk to Him on paper, fixing my gaze on Jesus. I even tell Him about my poor attitudes, my doubts, and my frustrations. When I am through with my prayer, almost immediately I begin to write again as His voice speaks to my spirit. I entitle it “Jesus says:” It sometimes goes faster than I can write, but I simply write it down. Later, as I read my journaling, I am always blessed to discover that I am indeed dialoguing with God. And the best part? When I go back and read what He said, weeks or months later, I have yet to find a time when everything He says hasn’t come to pass.
Just step out there and do it!! Don’t be afraid you are making it up. That is what faith is. You will fall in total love with this wonderful, exciting, personable, smiling, and full-of-love Jesus.
It’s so important to be aware of how divorce effects children differently when a family is in the turmoil of a separation or divorce, in order to help your child cope in ways that are most beneficial to them in regards to their age. Today we will discuss how divorce impacts teens, 13-18-years-old.
As teens, grow so does their desire to be independent. However, they still need you. Though it may seem they are rebelling against you and what you stand for, they are attempting to identify what is important to them. Teens of this age range are working on solidifying their identity and establishing their sense of “self” in relation to rules and regulations of society. They may push the limits on rules to determine whether you will continue to enforce your values. For parents, it may be a difficult time as we realize our child doesn’t seem to need us as they once did. Compared to younger kids, our teens seem to want less of our time, less of our advice and opinions and less of our togetherness. They want to be with their peers and perhaps have found someone they are interested in as more than just a friend. It is partly through these relationships that your teen discovers who he is, what he wants in relationships and what he will seek out in community.
When divorce happens, teens of this age range may feel embarrassed by the family break-up and may react by idealizing one or both parents. Younger kids typically continue to love both sets of parents and views divorce as the enemy; teens tend to hold their parents accountable for the divorce. They may become critical expressing that “if dad had not done that” or “if mom would have done this”, our family could still be together. Teens often feel their parents did not try hard enough in their marriage and now everyone is suffering. They do not feel that the divorce just happened, in their own need for control, they may blame one or both of their parents.
The teen years are a time when kids begin to think about their future love life. When parents divorce, it may hamper the teens indulgence to dream and hope about love for themselves. If mom and dad got divorced, they believe their own chances for success are diminished.
This age group is more likely to place peer needs ahead of family and may not want to visit the non-resident parent. As the resident parent, encourage time with your ex for your child. The parents are getting divorced, not the kids and your teen still needs both of you. Though emotionally they are breaking away from the family, they still need to know you are both available should he need you. Never speak poorly of your ex to your teen and never ask them to take your side, it may come back to haunt you. They absolutely should be allowed the privilege of maintaining relationship with both parents even if they express anger towards one.
Do not allow yourself to become the victim in the divorce – you are responsible for your emotional needs. Do not expect or allow your teen to feel they need to take care of you emotionally. That is not their job. As parents, we should be serious about helping our kids emotionally through the divorce, not the other way around. However, I have seen this very thing way too often. KJ wanted to become friends with his son rather than be his dad after the divorce. He shared all of his grief and pain with Reg and looked to him to make him feel better. This was very unfair to his son. Reg has only one dad and now he wants to be friends? KJ should have watched out for his son and protected him emotionally, not expect him to carry his own load and now his dad’s too.
How can we help our teens to move forward in spite of the divorce?
If you notice your teen withdrawing from the family, having difficulty concentrating or engaging in high risk behaviors, I would recommend you get them professional immediately. Don’t wait until they make a choice that will effect them for the rest of their lives.
Acts 20:32 says – and parents you can pray this over your kids:
“Now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified”.
Pray the word over your kids and receive God’s promises by faith for your kids.
I met a lovely young woman this past weekend who we shall call “Monique”. She is divorced with a young daughter. Her husband left her two years ago for another woman. He moved out of their home they had bought together, and right into the new woman’s house. Monique had to short sell her home due to the divorce and chose to move into a two-bedroom apartment. She has suffered a lot of loss. The death of her marriage, selling her beautiful home, and the loss of time with her daughter.
Anyone who has been cheated on can identify with this type of hurt and betrayal. What happened to “til death do us part”? The emotional crisis that can arise comes with questions like “Am I enough?” Or “What does she have that I don’t?” or “Why did he fall out of love with me?” All of this is enough to tear a heart a part.
Monique’s parents were divorced when she was young, so she remembers what it is like for the child of divorced parents. It’s hard. You love both of your parents and you just want them to like each other. Her dad and stepdad hated each other but the mistake they made was to let Monique know this and she felt put in the middle.
Put in the middle of adult issues. Is that fair? Of course not. No child should have to shoulder the burden of their parent’s decisions and try to fix them. Why? Because they can’t and emotionally they are not developed enough to carry adult size problems.
This amazing young woman decided a year after their divorce to take some time for herself and figure out what she wants to do with her life. She examined her own heart and she made some very hard choices.
She decided, for her daughter’s sake, that she is going to be friends with her ex-husband. She determined that her daughter, as far as she can help it, will not be put in the middle. Her daughter will be allowed to love both of her parents and enjoy her time with her daddy without being pumped for information. So she called her ex and asked if they could get a cup of coffee together. She asked him to forgive her for her part in the break up of the marriage and she told him that she has forgiven him. She said, “For our daughter’s sake, I would like for us to be friends and be friendly toward each other.” He agreed that would be healthy for their daughter.
They recently attended a school program together and their little girl was so delighted…she exclaimed with a big smile on her face “You and Daddy are really coming together?”
This woman could have chosen to become bitter – and really, who would have blamed her? She was dumped on. But she chose the higher road and because of that, her daughter is the winner. When we get caught up in hating our exes, the only ones hurt from that are our children… and perhaps our own hearts. A bitter person becomes an ugly person no matter how pretty they may be on the outside. And no one wants to be around a person like that for long. I have no doubt whatsoever, that this young woman will find another partner at the right time. Someone who will cherish her for the woman she is and the choices she has made.
Our human nature wants to take the road of getting even, lashing out and bad mouthing our exes. That’s our sin nature and it can be determined to get it’s own way. But the strength and character Monique has displayed will benefit not only her daughter but also herself. She is being a healthy example of how to love, forgive and let go.
“ Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)
If you are finding it difficult to forgive your ex for whatever reason, then maybe you just need someone to come alongside of you and walk with you for a season. Sometimes our hearts are so wounded we seemingly can’t let go. I have walked the journey of choosing to forgive so I understand and can help you in your journey to freedom of the past. Don’t let someone else’s bad choice hold you back any longer.
Please contact me here or at nouveaulifecoaching.com
We have been looking at the following scripture up close and personal.
Isaiah 26: 3, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trust in you!!
Last week we got up to “him whose mind is steadfast. This week we are starting with:
“Because he trusts in you”….. the Hebrew word trust is batach, to attach oneself. To confide in, feel safe, be confident, secure. Picture a baby with her mom or dad, don’t we want to trust God like that child who is utterly dependent.
Now let’s look at this word out of 2 Corinthians 10:5
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
When did you last break a stronghold in your own strength and end up feeling powerless and totally defeated? Do you see any patterns?
Think about a stronghold you have experienced my friend. What part did insecurity play in it?
Insecurity played a major part in the strongholds the enemy built in my life. An important part of learning for me to live in victory has been discerning the heart rumblings of insecurity.
I had to learn to pour out my heart to God and acknowledge every hollow place. I had to surrender my eating habits to Him every day
“When you make a daily practice of inviting His love to fill your hollow places and make sure you are not hindering the process, God will begin to satisfy you more than a double cheeseburger.” …Halleluiah!!
We recently discussed Ted and Susie’s situation about whether they should give money to Ted’s grown daughter who is in debt.
Not surprisingly, people have differing opinions on this subject. Some parents believe that once their child is out on their own, they need to make it on their own. And those parents who have or do help their children financially do so because they are “legitimately concerned” about their child’s financial well-being, while others stated they did not want their children to struggle financially like they once did.
If you give money to your adult children, you have lots of company:
The National Endowment for Financial Education completed a study that showed more than half the parents surveyed (59%) financially helped out their adult children who were not in college. But if they are not in school, then shouldn’t these young adults be working?
When your adult child comes to you asking for money, where do you begin? My advice is don’t start by pulling out your checkbook yet. Instead, look at the situation more closely.
First, think about whether you can really afford to help your child. Are you financially able to give them the money? And what if you make it a loan but they never pay it back? Are you able to forgive the loan without it hurting your relationship? By the way, this happens more times than we’d like to think. So if you do make a loan with your child, you have to be able to part with the money without it hurting the relationship with your child. The relationship should be more important than the money, that’s why it should be of an amount, that if you don’t get it back, it wouldn’t hurt you financially. If they don’t pay the loan back, obviously, you probably will not want to loan them any more money. Teaching them to be people of their word is just as valuable as teaching them to be responsible.
It’s interesting to learn why parents are giving money to their adult children. It’s usually for living costs, transportation, and even spending money.
But you must examine whether you can really afford to help your child.
Often, parents will either borrow money to supplement their child’s income, or divert money earmarked for their own emergencies or retirement to help their child out. Neither scenario is good for the parents because they can’t really afford to be generous without putting their own financial security at risk.
Is this healthy and would your adult child really want you to put yourself at risk this way?
Biblically, we are to help one another out and to share what we have been given with others. But does the Bible counsel us to enable another to be dependent upon us when they are quite capable of working themselves?
If we are quick to give our adult children money every time they overspend or get themselves into a jam: how will they learn to be self-sufficient or learn to live within a budget? And how is it really helping them if the parents become financially unstable or indebted just to support adult children. One of the goals of parenting is to raise responsible citizens who make a contribution to society. If the child remains dependent on the parent, they are not acting responsibly.
Now of course, there are situation’s that could arise and we, as parents, need and should help our child. I’m talking about lifestyle choices and habits and living outside of their means that we should not enable them to continue.
Recently, a couple told me of their child who just couldn’t find any work for quite awhile. But amazingly, when all options for staying at home had ceased, this person was able to find work. It wasn’t the position she had hoped for, but it paid her bills.
Before you hand over the money, examine the reason why your child needs the money.
Is this really a short-term crisis or more of a chronic condition? If your child can’t manage money, overspends on “wants” or has other issues that lead to money problems (possibly mental health issues or substance abuse), the situation may need different solutions. If you simply hand over the money, you can count on more requests for cash that will further drain your finances.
To help your child act responsibly and to accept responsibility for their finances ask some tough questions:
If you can help your child see how they got into this situation and then help them to make a plan to get out of it that includes a plan to avoid future problems, you will have done them a great service.
We love our kids don’t we? That’s why we help them on their journey to taking full ownership of their responsibilities.
I know many of you are in blended families ~ how do you handle situations like this? Are you good at communicating with your spouse? Can you come up with viable solutions that you are both happy with? Can you compromise? A common problem in stepfamilies is that the birth parent is more willing to help their grown child financially than the stepparent is; particularly when the stepparent views the problem as continual. So it’s imperative that you seek the Lord for His will and not your own. If you are struggling, as your blended family coach, I will help you to decipher God’s perfect will for you and your family and help you to move in that direction.
1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 says: “And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else”.
I look forward to hearing from you either here or at my website, nouveaulifecoaching.com
Until next time, may our Lord bless you as you Blend Your Stepfamily.
Some people who are “Born Again”… and KNOW that they are born again… You see, you’ll know that you know when you are. But, when you’re not sure, then you probably aren’t. But some people who are and know that they are are what I call a “Point In Time” Christian.
A Point in Time Christian is someone who may not remember the exact date, but they remember the circumstance – it may have been at a revival meeting or Harvest Crusade, it may have been kneeling beside your bed with your Grandpa, it may have been at camp, or even in front of your television… either way, you remember the circumstance when you prayed and asked Jesus Christ to enter your life.
This accounts for about two-thirds of people who claim to follow Christ.
But here’s the problem with being a “Point in Time” guy: there are more of them than there are what I call “Process Christians”, so therefore, Point in Time Christians tend to want Process Christians to have a time, date, and place. Why do they want this for them? Because it’s the way that they got saved, so Point in Timers want to make sure that Processors are in fact saved so that they can be sure that they are in… as if the Point in Timers are fruit inspectors at the holy gates or something.
So, Point in Timers make life really tough for Processors.
Now, Process Christians are people who acknowledge that at some point in time they were born again, but they are not exactly certain when that was. All that they know is that right now they know that they know that they know. They’re just not sure when it happened.
Either way, the Bible is very clear that if we want to spend eternity with God and be saved from an eternity without Him, then we must be born again.
In John 3:9-15, we learn that this didn’t make sense to Nicodemus. He asked Jesus,
“How can these things be?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and you do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak that We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that it, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”
In other words, Jesus said, “I’m putting it as plainly as I can. I know what I’m talking about here. I am God!” Jesus continued:
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Jesus comes right out of left field with this line.
Consider your basic, everyday, run of the mill snake.
In the Old Testament, Numbers 21 tells the story that Jesus is referring to. You see, every time that the Hebrews messed up, God had to lay a heavy on them to get their attention. At one point, they grumbled about the food He had provided for them, so He laid a real big heavy on them. He sent some little red snakes to bite them.
Every time a little red snake bit somebody, they would die.
The Israelites cried out, “Oh, Moses! This is the heaviest heavy that God has ever laid on us. Go pray like crazy and ask God to lighten up!”
Moses returned with some good news and some bad news: The bad news was that God was not getting rid of the snakes. Every time God got rid of the snakes or their equivalent, the people stopped trusting God. The good news was that if they made a bronze stick with a golden snake on it and if they looked on the snake after getting bit, they would be healed and would not die. God gave them the world’s best snakebite kit, but he didn’t get rid of the snakes.
The Hebrews had four responses.
Some refused to follow God’s instructions, followed their own thinking, and died.
Some thought that there must be other options to being healed from the snake’s venom. There’s no way that God’s instructions are THE ONLY way to be saved. They died.
Some took off and ran far away from where all the snakes were thinking that they could run away from the situation at hand. But the snakes were there, too and they were bit. But by the time they turned to look for the golden snake, they had wandered so far away that there were hills between them and camp. They couldn’t see it. They died.
But, some, after being bit by the snakes, did as God told them and immediately looked upon the golden serpent. They didn’t die.
They did things the way that God said to do them.
And, Jesus, who is God, said, “You must be born again.”
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you!!” (Isaiah 26: 3 )
Let’s take a look at this word up close and personal:
3. “Him whose mind is steadfast”. We see events from our own perspective and context. Have you noticed how two people can look at the same experience so differently? They put the picture of what happened in different frames and act accordingly. Our reaction depends on how we framed the event.
Included in this podcast is my stronghold of weight story I have been sharing each week.
Write these scriptures down and meditate on them.
You are deeply and completely loved. (Romans 8:38–39)
You are totally and completely forgiven. (1 John 2:12)
When God sees you, he sees the righteousness of Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
You mean the whole world to him. (John 3:16)
He thinks you are beautiful. Right now. (Song of Songs 4:1)
He is committed to your restoration. (Romans 8:29)
You are not now, nor have you ever been, alone. (Hebrews 13:5)
Meditate on these scriptures friends. They will completely change the way you think about yourself.
For more information, visit ReflectionsOfGraceHome.com
Each of us should continue to learn to love each other as Christ has loved us. And, I can’t think of a better place to learn how to really love than in a stepfamily. It’s a daily choice to choose to love others as God has loved us. It’s a growing process but that process begins with wanting to please God by loving the ones He has sent us. And that always begins with our family whether it’s blended or not. You and I both chose to marry our spouses and we knew they had kids. So with God’s grace and help, we need to choose to learn to love those kids even when they are unlovable. You would do no less for your own child, right? I am not talking about enabling any of the kids; I’m talking about doing for your stepchild as you would for your own child in the same situation.
A couple came to me this week with the following scenario:
First, a little background. Ted and Susie have a great marriage. They enjoy many of the same things and have learned to accept each other’s child. Susie has a grown son and Ted has a grown daughter. Both are wonderful kids, but like all of us, have some areas they need to grow in. Ted and Susie help their kids out when they can and when it seems appropriate. Since they were married, they have combined their money unlike some blended couples that keep their money separate.
They are working through a situation right now that they need some wisdom in. And this is where I would like you, the listener, to come in.
What would you do in this situation?
Ted and Susie are saving for their retirement, which hopefully will be in the near future. They have some great plans once they do not have to be at a job on a daily basis. They say they will never stop working; but I quote them “we will retire and refire with something new to do”. In the meantime, they are being frugal and trying to save where they can.
Ted’s daughter is a lovely woman but has never been a saver and always seems to buy the latest and greatest whether she needs it or not. And that would be fine if she could afford it. Over the past few years, she has gotten herself into debt and sees no way out. She continually makes excuses for why she can’t further her education even though she has a grant to help her do so. Every semester she says she will be going back to school the next semester and this has been going on for quite some time now.
She has a fixed income but has not stayed within her budget. There is no reason why she can’t go out and make extra money but she has not chosen to do so. Both Ted and Susie say she has some self-discipline issues; she does not choose to take care of the things she does have. Her apartment is always a mess, her car the same and she admits she borders on hoarding.
Susie says she is a very sweet and thoughtful woman but this problem of hers is something she needs to decide to do something about. Susie feels that only their daughter can stop spending and start saving her money. Only she can better herself with higher education and only she can decide to discipline herself enough to take care of the things she already has and only she can choose to stop buying more stuff that she really doesn’t need.
Ted feels they should give her some money to help get her out of the debt she has dug herself into but Susie feels they would be enabling her to continue on the same path. Ted points out that they helped Susie’s son when he needed help financially and now they should do the same for his daughter. Susie wants to help but she is not sure that giving Ted’s daughter money is really the kind of help she needs.
What do you think? What would you do? And maybe you have a story of your own that you would like to share.
I look forward to your responses, I will let you know the consensus of what you think Ted and Susie should do.
Proverbs 24:6 says
“for by wise guidance you can wage your war,
and in the abundance of counselors there is victory.”
Ted and Susie both want to do what’s best for their daughter. They both would like to help her but want to give her the kind of help that will last and truly help her.
So, what say you?