Tag Archives: faith

14. Activating God’s promises: Catalyst of faith

We activate God’s promises with the catalyst of faith. Do we dare to force God’s hand? No, God has forced his own hand. God is honor-bound to keep his word.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence” (Hebrews 4:16).

Seeking Faith to Believe

Jesus indicated that the key is to believe. Our problems with our children are not impossible, if we can just believe that they aren’t. We have power over our problems if we just believe that we do.

A father brought his ailing son to Jesus, and asked if he could help. Jesus told him: “Everything is possible for him who believes” (Mark 9:23).

When the apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith, “He replied, ‘If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it will obey you'” (Luke 17:5-6).

But how can we make ourselves believe? The fact is, we can’t. We cannot believe. We cannot cause ourselves to have faith. But we can choose the focus of our attention. We can choose to focus our attention on problems or on promises!

Finding Faith in Focus

If we focus on our circumstances and those of our children, we will be helpless and hopeless before them. If we focus on God’s faithfulness, God will generate inside of us a faith that can pluck up trees and rearrange nature if necessary to accomplish God’s will.

God’s will. That is what we are talking about here. Remember the story of Hannah? Remember how we paraphrased Hannah’s words in 1 Samuel 1:28? Hannah was saying, “I trust God to do the right thing in Samuel’s life. I trust God to take over Samuel’s training where I cannot go. I accept whatever outcome God brings forth with my son.”

We will not find a faith that believes God will work all things out our way. But we can find a faith that believes God will work all things out the best way. God said it like this:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

To find this faith, we must be willing to say with Hannah, “I accept whatever outcome God brings forth with my children.” Throughout the Bible, God did remarkable wonders in the lives of men and women who dared to accept in advance whatever outcome God brought forth, knowing whatever God did would be right.

Whatever God does in our children’s lives will be right. How can we really believe this? Where can we find the faith? Herein lies the key to increasing our faith:

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

Finding Faith in History

God’s word is brimming with stories of his faithfulness down through the ages. It’s promises overflow into our lives as God illuminates them to us.

We come before the Lord. We have focused our attention on the accounts in his Word of his faithfulness to men and women who walked according to his ways. We reach into God’s word and grab a fistful of these accounts in our left hand.

Finding Faith in Promise

Now we reach deep into God’s Word, and clench tightly as many promises as we can hold in our right hand. We hold high before our God an open Bible. Every page is a promise and a testimony that our faithfulness to God will be multiplied beyond measure in his faithfulness back to us!

We refresh ourselves in God’s promises which are as old as all ages and as new as today! And above our heads is our Banner Promise, the promise which undergirds our hope in all the others:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

He is the same God who was faithful to Moses’ mother; to Samuel’s mother; to Timothy’s mother. He is the same God who was faithful to Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob; to David, Joseph, Isaiah, Rahab, Joshua, and Hannah; to Peter, James, John, Mary, and Paul. He is the same God who has kept his promises to Christians unnamed and unnumbered down through the ages.

Praise be to the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not oneword has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.

–1 Kings 8:56, Deuteronomy 7:9

Finding Faith in Boldness

He is the same God who has been faithful to you and to me in the past. He is the same God. He will always be faithful. As we stand before our God we hold our hands high. Our left hand holds before him the testimonies we have gathered of his faithfulness. Our right hand waves God’s promises toward heaven like a flag of victory. God is honor-bound to keep his Word to us!

Have we dared to force God’s hand? No, God has forced his own hand. We are nothing, unworthy, helpless and hopeless. God in mercy and love reached down through his Son our Savior and gave us hope and made us mighty in his Son. He gave us all power in his name. He has told us to come boldly before His throne. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16)..

The Lord has said:

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.

God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.

–Hebrews 6:10-19

Application

Let us give God the preeminence in our lives. Then God will teach us his promises. He dares us to hold him to them. We accept the challenge — and we have won. Our faith has been turned on. The catalyst that sets off God’s promises has been activated. The fulfillment of God’s promises has been accomplished. We simply await their enactment in a world bound by time!

In the next few sessions, we will study these principles as they were applied in Joshua’s life. We will see how the Word of God enabled Joshua’s faith to “turn on” God’s promises. And we will see our mighty God respond!

Thought to Remember

We will not find a faith that believes God will work all things out our way. But we can find a faith that believes God will work things out in a way greater than we could have ever imagined.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What do you do when the world seems to crush down upon you?
  2. What do you do when you claim God’s promises yet he does not seem to be doing anything?
  3. How do you keep from getting depressed when your children continue to go farther astray?

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

08. The (not) ideal home: She did what she could

God has a unique plan for each of us in nurturing our children. We cannot be fathers to our offspring, but if we will be mothers committed to God, that will be enough!

“She did what she could” (Mark 14:8).

An Unnamed Woman: Her Best Was Enough

Jesus was visiting in the home of a man named Simon when a woman did something so significant that most people could not comprehend it.

While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.

–Mark 14:3-8

Jesus said of the woman who anointed him, “She did what she could,” and Jesus indicated that was enough.

Was it enough that she simply anointed Jesus from an alabaster box or jar of sweet-smelling perfume? Will it be enough if we just determine some quality things to do with our children? Will it be enough if we take them to church? Will it be enough if we provide them with an ideal Christian home? According to whose ideals? And what if we don’t have an ideal home? What is enough?

There were a lot of things this woman couldn’t do. She probably would not have been allowed to stand and give a speech on the greatness of Jesus Christ. She couldn’t travel with Jesus daily. Possibly circumstances prevented her from being able to host him in her home.

So she did what she could. She made this simple little gesture of anointing him. Or was it simple?

According to the passage quoted above, this was no ordinary perfume. It was valued at “more than a year’s wages,” and some felt it could have better been used to feed the poor. The contents of the alabaster box were treasured in the family–reserved to be used for burial. What she gave was no simple gesture. Not only did it cost her monetarily, but it cost her much ridicule from many of the religious people who observed.

There were other things she could have done. She could have spoken words of praise to Jesus. She could have offered to bring lunch to him and his disciples the next day at less expense than that of the perfume. She could have used a relatively inexpensive perfume on his feet. But she gave the very best that she had.

That is what is required of us as parents. No simple textbook formula will do. Taking our children to church alone won’t cut it. “Quality time,” so often lauded, can’t measure up to God’s standard. Idealism based on man’s ideals is unrealism.

We are not required to do what we cannot, but we are accountable before God to do all that he instructs us to do for each individual child. This will be costly. Our goal must not be to impress our Christian friends or absolve our conscience that we have followed the “rules.” Our goal must constantly be to do the best thing in this particular situation to help this child to know God better.

There are many excellent books written by Christian authors on parenting. There is much good advice from Christian friends and leaders. But as we study God’s Word for ourselves and pray, only God can reveal if we are to use this particular advice to apply to this child in this situation, and if not, what God would have us do.

Moses’ Mother: Her Time Was Enough

Moses’ father and mother were both Jews from the tribe of Levi. From a very young age, Moses was raised by a pagan princess. But God gave his parents the opportunity to start him out for God first.

Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river bank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.

Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”

“Yes, go,” she answered. And the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”

–Exodus 2:5-10

Moses grew to be a great leader of God’s people, and God through Moses gave us the first 5 books of the Bible. Moses’ mother took full advantage of the time God gave her with her son. She followed God’s leadership, and she raised her son for God while she had Moses with her. And that was enough!

Ah, that we as mothers would quit blaming our circumstances and just do all God says to do. That too will be enough!

It is time that we quit excusing ourselves because we don’t have an ideal home where Dad demonstrates his loving authority as the God-appointed head of the home. He leads Spiritually at the family altar. He has the wisdom of Solomon in rearing his family. He maintains the children’s respect of their mother. He supports her and she supports him. He makes sure love and discipline are balanced. The mother trains and teaches under the auspices of the father’s Spiritual umbrella.

There are homes where this Scriptural ideal is realized. Praise God for them. But these homes are rare in our day. We do not live in an ideal world. Sin has corrupted what God ordained. So often Dad goes the opposite way, and leads the children away from God, seemingly obliterating the Spiritual teaching the mother makes in her children’s lives. Or refusing to allow her freedom to teach as she would.

But God will not be obliterated! God has provided a way to overcome sin, through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ. Let’s quit moaning about how we cannot raise our children for God because of our husbands. Or our lack of a husband.

If we have the Holy Spirit of God living in us, how dare we say we can’t because our husbands don’t! Sin has often torn apart the ideal. But God specializes in undoing what sin has done in individual circumstances! God will make a way if we as mothers trust him and obey him.

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen

–Ephesians 3:20-21; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Ephesians 5:22

We women are never instructed to oppose our husbands in the rearing of our children. On the contrary, God strictly forbids us to oppose our husbands. He tells us to submit ourselves to our own husbands.

If we set our mind to obey God in this, he will never allow our husbands to require us to blatantly participate in that which is in direct opposition to God’s precepts. God will not put us in a position where we are forced to choose between two of his commandments. God will make away to escape.

What greater teaching can we give our children than that of our example in obedience to our husbands as instructed in the Word of God?

Abraham: His Faith Was Enough

Abraham sacrificed his son at God’s command. We may seemingly be sacrificing our children to sin in obedience to our husbands. Abraham believed God would raise his son if he obeyed God, and God provided a lamb and rescued Abraham’s son.

Our children are about to be destroyed, and God has provided a lamb. We, like Abraham, believe that God’s Son, the Lamb, will either rescue or raise our children if we are obedient to God.

Application

Our trust in God’s intervention does not excuse us from doing what we can, as God leads. As long as our husbands do not oppose our Spiritual efforts in our children’s lives, we are free to do all we want. When our husband’s do oppose that we propose to do, we must revise our plans. It may take a little more innovation to find “husband-approved” methods of teaching our children God’s precepts, but if this is the life God has called us to, he will make a way!

We are not permitted to give up. We cannot be a father to our children. But God has not called us to be fathers. God has called us to be mothers.

Thought to Remember

Let us follow the unique plan God has called each of us to in the nurturing our children for him. God will magnify our efforts exceeding abundantly above that we ask or think. And if we will be mothers sold out to God, that will be enough!

Questions for Discussion

  1. How much training is “enough”?
  2. How do we know whose advice to follow as parents?
  3. What if circumstances prevent us from doing what we feel is best for our child?
  4. What if our husband opposes our training methods with our children?

Next

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

04. The time God gives: Redeem and release

Hannah redeemed the time with her child then released Samuel to the Lord. She trusted God to go where she could not, and to manage the outcome he desired for her son’s life.

“I give him to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:28).

Hannah Leads

Samuel’s father was a Jew from the tribe of Ephraim. He was a faithful and devout follower of the Lord. However, his wife Hannah was the one who led in the dedication an giving of their son, still a small lad, to serve in the house of the Lord at Shiloh. Read their story here:

[Elkanah] had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.

Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the LORD Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the LORD. Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb. And because the LORD had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. Elkanah her husband would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”

Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the LORD’s temple. In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine.”

“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”

Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”

She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast

Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the LORD and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah lay with Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.”

When the man Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the LORD and to fulfill his vow, Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the LORD, and he will live there always.”

“Do what seems best to you,” Elkanah her husband told her. “Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the LORD make good his word.” So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.

After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. When they had slaughtered the bull, they brought the boy to Eli, and she said to him, “As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.

–1 Samuel 1:2-28

Hannah did not go against her husband. He gave her his blessing in whatever seemed best to her. Hannah’s husband joined with her in the offering and giving of their son. But Hannah was still the leader in this.

Many times, even in “Christian” homes, mothers have to be the ones to lead in dedication of their children to the Lord. Sometime husbands join, sometimes they don’t.

The Bible never teaches us that we should oppose our husbands in doing what we feel is best for our children Spiritually. But if our husbands do not accept their role as Spiritual leaders, we should provide as much Spiritual leadership for our children as our husbands will permit.

Samuel Learns

“She took the boy with her, young as he was.”

Young as he was, Hannah had already managed to instill into Samuel a love for God and a desire to honor God. No doubt she had taught him he was a promise from God. No doubt she had taught him he was a gift back to God. Young as he was, she taught him he was being raised for the Lord!

Hannah Releases

“I give him to the LORD.” What a lot Hannah said with those words. She gave him to the Lord who first gave Samuel to her. When she said “I give him to the LORD,” she was saying: “I trust God to do the right thing in his life. I trust God to take over his training where I can not go. I accept whatever outcome God brings forth with my son.”

“For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” Again what faith! There was not a hint of fear that Samuel might rebel and refuse to follow the Lord. Hannah had started him out for God. Hannah had trusted God to do what she could not do. Hannah would continue to pray that her Son would live for God. And God would bring it to pass!

Samuel Worships

And he worshipped the Lord there. The boy, “young as he was,” worshipped the Lord. He was being taken from his mother, given to a strange environment where he had never been (see v. 22), yet he worshipped the Lord.

No wonder Hannah could rest assured for her Son’s future. She had taught him to love the Lord his God above everything else and to trust God no matter what. “Young as he was,” he understood enough to worship God even in the face of being taken from his mother and his home.

Application

We may not have a lot of time with our children. Hannah had only the very earliest years of her son’s life. Some parents have only every other weekend or less. Some have their children only a few years until death calls the parent home. Some have them every day, but the influence of another parent in the home threatens to train their children the wrong way.

But if we use the time God does allow us to train our children for him, we, like Hannah, can trust that God will take over where we can not go to see that our children fulfill his promise!

“The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Thought to Remember

When Hannah said “I give him to the LORD,” she was saying: “I trust God to do the right thing in his life. I trust God to take over his training where I can not go. I accept whatever outcome God brings forth with my son.”

Questions for Discussion

  1. Which parent should lead in the dedication and raising of their children for the Lord?
  2. At what age are our children old enough for us to begin training them in the way they should go?
  3. How much time does it take to raise our children for God?

Next

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

00. Called to be a mother: Introduction

Between the battlefield of prayer and God’s promise of hope, I found faith to know that God was working in my children’s lives in ways I couldn’t see just yet.

Don’t give up. God hears your cry!

Author’s Preface

These sessions were written in the mid 1990’s, between the battlefield of prayer and God’s promise of hope. My last child was a teenager then, and we were going through some rugged times. I went to God’s Word for help, and this Bible study is the result. From the beginning, I wrote it in a format to share, because the things God was showing me were too wonderful to keep to myself. As I’ve moved them to our new site in March of 2009, I’ve added sub-headings and made minor editorial changes for clarity.

Chapters 1-19 were written while my son was home. He moved out a few days before he turned 18, and chapters 20 and 21 were written about three years later as I continued to wait for God’s answers. It was not until my son was in his early-to-mid-twenties that I first saw God’s transformations in his life. But, all along, I knew he was working in a way that I couldn’t see just yet.

My son will be thirty this year. He is a committed Christian, a great father, and a productive citizen. He is married to a former missionary from Turkey, and they are serving the Lord together.

My oldest, a daughter, is also serving the Lord. Her work as a CNA gives her many opportunities to show God’s love to the patients she cares for. She is a mother, and we have done this “Called to Be a Mother” Bible study together with local friends several times.

Don’t give up. God hears your cry.
Lois

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The Lord will fight for you

These verses were given to me by an online friend near the end of 1999, as I experienced a time of great difficulty. I’ve included his commentary as well.

“Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today….”

God promises…

Exodus 14:13 – 14 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Exodus 23:27 I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run.

2 Chronicles 20:29 The fear of God came upon all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard how the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel.

2 Kings 6:16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

2 Kings 6:17 And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Matthew 12:20 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory.

2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.

Psalms 34:7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

Psalms 125:2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.

Deuteronomy 28:7 The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.

Deuteronomy 11:25 No man will be able to stand against you. The LORD your God, as he promised you, will put the terror and fear of you on the whole land, wherever you go.

Commentary: For those who are godly….
God goes out in front and protects against THE WHOLE LAND
Example……

Genesis 35:5 Then they set out, and the terror of God fell upon the towns all around them so that no one pursued them.

Commentary: These are entire towns God shuts down to provide victory for those who follow him.

John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

Joshua 1:5 No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Joshua 21:44 The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD handed all their enemies over to them.

Joshua 23:9 The LORD has driven out before you great and powerful nations; to this day no one has been able to withstand you.

Deuteronomy 7:24 He will give their kings into your hand, and you will wipe out their names from under heaven. No one will be able to stand up against you; you will destroy them.

Psalms 91:4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Commentary: Here lies the ENTIRE key to this:

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted