Children’s Devotional: God’s Love

Our devotional today is:

John 3:16 (KJV)

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlastng life. 

                                                                                                                                                                                       That means that GOD loves the world so much that He gave His ONLY Son that we might live, actually His Son DIED FOR OUR SINS!.  (would you do that??)

Our prayer today,

 

Dear Heavenly FATHER,

Thank you GOD for sending your son to die for our sins long ago

Thank you for your love

IN JESUS NAME,

Amen.

Devotional: While We Were Yet Sinners…

“But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

As the holiday season is upon us, there is a need for much reflection.  Many people around the world are awaiting for December 25th as the “celebration” of Jesus birth.  Some families will be reunited with gifts, hugs and laughter to be exchanged.  It truly seems like a time when hearts are open to one another full of love, joy, hope, mercy, forgiveness and acceptance.

For all Christendom the focus of this season is centered around a babe lying in a manger inside a barn wrapped in swaddling cloth.  While that humble scene was the way our Saviour came into the world, let not our focus stay on just the arrival of that sweet little baby.  Matthew 1:21 states the purpose of why that little baby came into the world… “[a]nd she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.”  The birth of Jesus didn’t occur just so another couple could have a darling new baby, but He was born with a purpose.  His purpose was to save people from their sins.  Jesus was born as “[…] the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” – John 1:29

A shift in attention is needed during this season.  While the mystery of Jesus’ birth was an amazing feat, our mind must fixate on WHY Jesus had to come.  He had to come to save people from their sins…“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” – Romans 5:19  Jesus had come to the earth to be an example of how we can live a life of obedience and continual overcoming in childhood through youth, and through adulthood.  He then conquered sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:51-57), so that if we remain faithful and follow His example we too can inherit eternal life (1 Timothy 6:11-12).

One of the most beautiful aspects about Jesus coming to the earth is found in Romans 5:8“But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  God sent Jesus to the earth not even knowing if anyone would accept the sacrificial offering of His life on the cross.  Jesus came and died for the whole world, for each and every one of us and our family members not even knowing if we would love Him in return.  He did it all in the hope that at least ONE person might accept Him as their Lord and Savior.  That at least ONE person might accept His sacrifice.  That at least ONE person by faith may lay hold on all the promises found in His word, so that they too may live a life of continual overcoming.  Jesus came as a baby, “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52) and then in His adulthood was crucified all in hope that at least ONE person would come to live again with Him in glory.  That thought is definitely something to celebrate, not just during the month of December but for eternity.

God Bless,

Family Blueprint

Devotional – Enemies of the Cross

“And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” – Mark 10:27

So many times as a parent I hear my children say, and other’s children as well, that “it’s too hard to always share”, “it’s too hard to always be kind”, “it’s too hard to always use kind tones” and so on and so forth.  Immediately as parents our first response seems to always be “you have to do it anyway…” or something of the sort, right?  Is just telling the children they have to do it anyway, when they have no unction to do it on their own, setting them up for failure in some way, shape or form?  Is forcing them to alter their behavior for the time being going to solve the underlying issue?

Sometimes we the adults have the same issues as our poor innocent little children.  We begin whining and complaining to others or even God and say “it’s too hard to stop getting angry and going off all the time”, “it’s to hard to stop lying”, “it’s too hard to stop cheating, “it’s too hard to stop drinking and smoking”, “it’s too hard to stop gossiping”, “it’s too hard to stop…sinning”.  Sounds strikingly similar to the children’s complaint of impossibility, doesn’t it?  It seems as if just making attempts to modify our behavior without getting to the root of the problem is causing all these issues.  Matthew 3:10 states “the axe is laid unto the root of the trees” in order to cause that evil fruit, fruit that is unlike Christ, to die off.

What is truly the root of the problem in not overcoming these unbecoming traits of character in our lives?  It can be summed up in one word.  Unbelief.  Mark 10:27 lays it clear for us that in and of ourselves we cannot overcome, we cannot be victorious, we cannot be saved, what we need is the power of God working in our lives to make our salvation possible.  The disciples even questioned Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:25-26  The disciples themselves who walked with Jesus for 3 1/2 years had to understand the concept “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” – Philippians 2:13  Does that mean we don’t have any work to do in order to be saved?  

While God provides the power to overcome, we have to be a willing participant in the process to allow the transformation to take place.  We have to make the conscious effort to make the right choices, that are in accordance with God’s word.  “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” – James 4:17.  We must Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” – James 4:7-8  We must “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.: – Philippians 2:12  Therefore, we have a work to do:  1. Submit to God (in prayer and claiming His promises), 2. Resist the devil by making the godly choice to turn away from the temptation, never lingering nor yielding. 3.  Draw nigh to God in earnest prayer so that He may draw nigh to us.  4.  Ask God to cleanse our hands to no longer participate in those sins; ask Him to purify our hearts and imaginations so that we will no longer have the desire for those things.

The question to ask ourselves today is “Have we become enemies of the cross of Christ by stating that it is too hard to give up things that we know are not pleasing to God?”  Have we not only resisted His pleadings in our own lives, but have we also encouraged others to ignore His voice as well, stating that God doesn’t care what we do?  We must remember if our goal is to make it to His kingdom, we must believe in the power of the cross to overcome, that in it sin and death are defeated so that we may have victory unto eternal life with Him in heaven.

God Bless,

Family Blueprint

Caught in the Snare – Part 1: The Lure of Pleasure

When we think of snares, the first thing we think about is traps.  The hunters that lay the snares, position them in two different ways:  1.  Hdden, so well you can’t really see or notice the snare.  2.  Positioned in plain sight.  Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives some definitions that I find so interesting.  It states:

  • A device that has a loop (called a noose) which gets smaller when the end of it is pulled and that is used to catch animals : a kind of trap
  • A position or situation from which it is difficult to escape:
    • (a) something by which one is entangled, involved in difficulties, or impeded
    • (b) something deceptively attractive

One may be asking, why are they speaking about snares for animals?  The parallel we want to draw is this, can we as God’s professed people especially our families  be so caught up in the cares and affairs of this life (career, friends, family, relationships, fun, entertainment, money, houses, gain, worldly ambition, success, grades, acknowledgement, etc.) , that we unknowingly, carelessly, or even intentionally walk right into the snares that Satan has set for us?  The answer is YES!

If our families are not diligent “to make your calling and election sure” – 2 Peter 1:10  Studying “to shew thyself approved unto God,” being “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:15  It can and will be so easy for any one of our family members to fall into any snare that Satan has set in our path. How do we get caught up in the snare of Satan?  The lure of pleasure.

The truth of the matter is, if sin didn’t look appealing no one would want to take part.  Satan has set up innumerable devices to lure and entice us, especially our children.  He appeal to our carnal natures to get us to slip and fall right into his traps.  The first step may be the hardest, finally dismissing the Holy Spirit’s promptings, then giving into that sin that may seem small and innocent in the beginning.  However, if we do not submit ourselves unto God, resisting the devil, he will not rest until we have gone down the extremely slippery slope of immorality and pure wickedness.

As long as our family members keep creeping so close to the edge of temptations, much like the animals who in their curiosity sniff and try the snare, one wrong choice can get the” loop” of sin caught around our necks.  Then when we, by ourselves, try to escape the the “noose” of sin, it in turn gets smaller tightening around us not wanting to let go.  Our loving Savior, however, doesn’t even desire for any one in our family to reach that point of being captured.

In God’s word it states “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – Matthew 26:41 We may think ourselves to be strong, that we can break apart the snare at any time if we fall captive.  We may think we have the best intentions as to why we were playing around with the snare to begin with.  But God’s word is sure, as a family we must watch and pray!  If our families were diligently doing our part, we would at once notice the snare, and by submitting to God turn the other way.  Our spirit is always willing to obey and follow Christ, but we are weak, helpless and hopeless without His help.

While the rest of the world is in bondage to Satan’s devices, it may seem, especially to our children, that everyone else is enjoying the pleasures of this world.  Our children may be confused and even upset that we as a family are taking a stand to not partake of the “seemingly” innocent worldly pleasures of today.  However, God’s word is sure that we should be “choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;” – Hebrews 11:25 We must explain to our families that we are raising and molding our sacred circle to be fit for Heaven above, and we cannot be ready for Heaven if we are lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:5).  The snare of the lure of pleasure may seem strong, but God’s love and power to overcome and obtain victory is much stronger because the devil is already a defeated foe.

This hymn states it best, on how we can avoid any snares of Satan:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”

God Bless,

The Family Blueprint



The All-Important Consideration—Let none begin to believe that amusements are essential and that a careless disregard of the Holy Spirit during hours of selfish pleasure is to be looked upon as a light matter. God will not be mocked. Let every young man, every young woman, consider: “Am I prepared today for my life to close? Have I the heart preparation that fits me to do the work which the Lord has given me to do?” – The Youth’s Instructor, August 14, 1906.

Devotional – A Heart Divided

“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” – 1 Kings 18:21

The phrase “you want to have your cake and eat it too”, can some times be applied to our spiritual walk with our Lord.  For example, when I give my children different options for dessert after dinner, there are times when they sway between which one they desire most.  There have even been times in which my children were so conflicted they asked if they could have both.  Most times our parental reply would be “No you can only choose one.”  Even though they may have been disappointed initially when they couldn’t have both, each would be satisfied with their choice. Much like choosing which dessert you want after dinner is like our Christian walk, God in His love and mercy always offers us a choice in all we do.

God never forces us to choose to love Him.  The bible says “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” – Revelation 3:20  God doesn’t barge in like an uninvited house guest, but He also doesn’t leave us unattended or forsaken either.  The bible clearly states He stands at the door and knocks, He awaits for us to choose to open the door and allow Him to come in.  What a beautiful love!  That Christ would stand at the door, while it may have been shut in His face, and continues to knock in hope that it will be opened unto Him.  If we do decide to answer His call and open the door, what will He find?  Will it be vacant, ready to receive Him?  If the house of our heart is already occupied Christ isn’t able to come in, no matter how much we may desire Him to.  Opening the door to Christ is one thing, making room for Him to stay in us is another.

What if a husband and wife are living happily married, then one day the wife comes to the husband and says “I found someone else that I love too, can he come and stay with us?”  If the husband sincerely loves his wife, his reaction would be “NO! NEVER!”  He wouldn’t want to share his wife, nor her love and live with her divided heart.  He would want her to make a choice.  The same principle applies to God, He is our husbandman, He loves us so much that He died for us not even knowing if we would love Him in return.   But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8  

God chose us, His heart was and is not divided when it comes to us.  All He desires of us in return is a love reciprocally undivided (click here to see what that entails).  We cannot have sin and satan in our hearts and still try to jam pack God in there with them.  As a scientific principle, darkness and light cannot dwell together, therefore sin and righteousness cannot dwell together either.  We as the owner of the heart are bound to allow for one to overcome the other.  Which will we choose?  The one who thought we were worthy enough to die for or the one who wants us to die with them in misery.  God desires for all His children that He formed in their mother’s wombs to be with Him in paradise when He returns.  He leaves us with these words found in Joshua 24:14 “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve” God bids for us, like the children of Israel of old to make a choice, His hearts desire is that our decision will be “[…], but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

 

God Bless,

Family Blueprint

 

The Battle for Our Minds

Media is a powerful tool that can invoke emotions, messages, and even send corrupt communications of influence to affect our thoughts and gain direct access to our minds.

“Those who would not fall a prey to Satan’s devices, must guard well the avenues of the soul; they must avoid reading, seeing, or hearing that which will suggest impure thoughts.  The mind must not be left to dwell at random upon every subject that the enemy of souls may suggest.  The heart must be faithfully sentineled, or evils without will awaken evils within, and the soul will wander in darkness.” Acts of the Apostles, p. 518

Psychologists also have studied the effects that outside influences can have on our cognition (or rather our thinking) and behavior.  Albert Bandura, a renown psychologist, produced the Social Cognitive theory. He directed his initial research to the role of social modeling in human motivation, thought, and action. The initial phase of Bandura’s research analyzed the foundations of human learning and the propensity of children and adults to imitate behavior observed in others, in particular, aggression. He found that models are an important source for learning new behaviors and for achieving behavioral change.

Question:  Are the children of this world truly wiser than the children of light?

Please take the time to think about this concept.  A person decides to buy a game or a video where the lead character or characters commit an immoral behavior.  They watch the video and that particular behavior (or sin) shown in the media outlet has now been imprinted as motivation, or thought in our minds and could be conveyed as an action later on.  Can we now see why there are so many activist calling for stricter bans on violent video games and movies promoted to children and youth?  Also think about how violence, sexual immorality and other indecent acts have risen almost proportionally or rather exponentially to what is seen nowadays on TV.

800px-tv_highquality

 “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33

Jesus truly did understand this principle as he was the master Teacher.  That is why in the book of 1 Peter 2:21-23, the apostle tells us that “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:  Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:” Christ understood are nature more than anyone which is why He exhorts us to learn of Him rather than of this world.  Some may argue that although they may watch violence it doesn’t make them violent.  This may be true, but what it does it desensitizes us to sin so that we no longer abhor it or detest it like we have been commanded to.  This may also lend to the fact why most churches cannot agree on whether victory over sin is achievable. Ask yourself this, can victory over sin ever be achieved if we enjoy watching it, listening to it, or even reading it?

In Deuteronomy 7:26 we are told not to “bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing.”

So ask yourself, “Are the things that I am watching, listening too, reading or enjoying, things that God considers to be detestable?”   Does it have cursing, because the bible let no corrupt communication come out of your mouth, Does it have murder, sexual immorality, witchcraft? Does it glorify or normalize the things that the bible condemns?Really think about it and ask, Am I enjoying seeing other people sin?  In Romans 1:32, Paul states that we are just as guilty as the person committing the act if we find pleasure in them doing the act.  This is why David could make the powerful statement “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes” Psalm 101:3

photo-2-who-owns-what_flowtv-350x151

We are in the last days, and we have to remember that Satan is doing everything in his power to divert the minds of God’s children from Him, and also to be found living contrary to His character. This is why we are told in Colossians 3:1,2 to “seek those things that are above…{to} Set [our] minds on things [in heaven], not on things on the earth.”  Lest satan should get an advantage over us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. 2 Cor. 2:11

What tools do you think Satan will use in order to deceive us?  We are told that he deceived a third of the holy angels who dwelt in the presence of God.  That he deceived our first parents who talked to God face to face.  What do you think he can do to us? On our own we are no might for him, which is why we must deny ourselves and also our passions, AFFLICT our souls and commit our lives to Christ.

“The righteousness of Christ will not cover one cherished sin. A man may be a law-breaker in heart; yet if he commits no outward act of transgression, he may be regarded by the world as possessing great integrity. But God’s law looks into the secrets of the heart. Every act is judged by the motives that prompt it. Only that which is in accord with the principles of God’s law will stand in the judgment.”- {COL 316.2}

Remember, what the beloved apostle John said. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1 John 2:15, 16

Are you ready for that day of Judgment?  Are you ready to stand at the seat of Christ?  When our names come up will our record bear the love for sin, or will it bear the pure love and character of Jesus Christ?

God Bless,

Family Blueprint

Dating/Courtship – Preparing for Marriage Part 2

Counsel for a Christian man or woman who is dating/courting and preparing for marriage – Part 2

So many young people, even Christian young persons, pursue relationships without any counsel or guidance from any experienced godly person.  That is not what God desires for His children.  He wants the best for us and desires that our marriage relationships will glorify Him and will reveal what He has designed for His people since the Garden of Eden.  Are our behavior and relationship choices honoring and glorifying God at all times?

For more counsel on courtship and marriage, please read “16 Questions Every Girl Should Ask Herself Before Marriage

Devotional: A Persistent Faith

“Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” – Matthew 15:28

Have you ever desired something from a friend or family member so badly that you kept asking until you received a definitive response.  As a parent, its like when your child(ren) keep asking you for something and they do not stop until they either receive their request or receive a definite no.  Parents/guardians since we are the first example of Christ to our child(ren), by our example are we teaching the young ones to have confidence in God’s word as they can have confidence in our word?  Do our children know the things they should persist for in faith?  Are we ourselves exhibiting a persistent persevering faith in seeking Christ for an answer no matter the circumstance or ridicule we may receive?

In Matthew 15 is a beautiful story of a woman who had a persistent faith.  Jesus had gone into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon when a Canaanite woman (also known as the Syrophencian woman) came unto him crying that her daughter was possessed by a devil.  Since we know the ministry of Jesus was about preaching, teaching and healing we could all assume He was getting ready to help this poor woman.  However, it seemed like the answer to her prayer didn’t come until after she endured a series of tests.  Does the same happen with us?  Does God try our faith to see if we are persistent and truly believe in His power to perform what we know He can do?

Her first test came in verse 23, after she came to Jesus explaining her problem and need of assistance the bible says “[H]e answered her not a word.”  It seemed like Jesus didn’t even acknowledge her request.  Many times in our life when we pray, we expect an immediate response.  However, do we ever feel as though our prayers are just not being heard.  What is our response to that feeling?  Do we give up or do we persist?  Praise God this woman persisted!

Her second test came in verse 23, after the woman continued seeking Christ for help, Jesus’ disciples instructed Him to send her away because she was so insistent.  It’s like when we express our earnest request to others and they either downplay it or when they don’t see God give an immediate answer in the affirmative they become discouraging.  The question is, do we persevere even though it seems like no one else is on our side?  Praise God this woman persisted!

Her third test came when Jesus finally responded in verse 24, “he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  In verse 25-26 when she realized she had Jesus’ attention she “worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.  But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” After all that persisting, Jesus responds to her by saying He was sent to help others.  Do we ever feel as though Jesus is helping everyone but us?  Do we ever begin to feel as though we aren’t even worthy of having our prayers answered?  What is our response when that happens?  Do we keep seeking God for His divine aid or do we fade away?  Praise God this woman still persisted!

 

In verse 27, this woman even still persisted because she knew the love of her Savior desired to save everyone.  “She said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”  This woman knew, even though it seemed as if her prayer weren’t heard; even though others ridiculed her presence in seeking the Lord; even though it was implied she wasn’t even worthy of help she was fully persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate [her] from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus [her] Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39  She knew the power and love of Christ could do anything, and that His love was so great He would not leave her desolate.  

After the series of tests she endured in verse 28 Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”  There aren’t many people in the bible that Jesus expresses they had great faith.  Many would have been discouraged at His lack of response, His follows vocalizing their distaste of their presence and, lastly discouraged at the feeling of not being worthy of God’s divine help.  However, this Canaanite woman persevered through these seemingly discouraging trials.  The beauty of the story lies in verse 29, after He healed her daughter the bible says “And Jesus departed from thence…”  The reason why this is so beautiful, it shows that Jesus went to that place just to help that Canaanite woman who had so great a faith in Him and His saving power.  The same thought should come over us, even though it seems like we are having to go through trials and tribulations before our prayer is answered, Jesus is drawing near just for you, so keep persevering for Him with all your heart.

 

God Bless,

Family Blueprint