Doing right by your children

Proverbs 22:6 CEV

A mother who smokes passes on the nicotine to her baby in her breast milk. Unintentionally she pollutes her child with her own vices. And it’s the same when we pass on things like bitterness, guilt, and insecurity to our kids. That’s why we need God’s help; only He can bring healing to the root of our problem and break the cycle. No one else can teach faith to your children like you. The foundation must be laid by you and built on by them. And don’t just teach them your doctrine; expose them to your faith. Tell them Who brought you through the tough places. That way, when they encounter their own tough places they’ll be armed with more than a set of religious rules; they’ll have confidence in God for themselves. And stop beating yourself up over past mistakes; there are things all of us wish we’d done differently. The truth is that God can alter the effects of your past and prevent tragedy in your future. He’s the God of restoration who makes “all things new” (Revelation 21:5 NKJV). He can bring right out of wrong, good out of bad, and enable you to pour His wisdom and love into your children. This is your chance of a lifetime – seize it! Let go of yesterday and take hold of tomorrow. Your children are your tomorrow; they’re being shaped by you. Give them a taste of the things of God when they’re little, and when they grow up the world will never satisfy them.

Soul food: Ezek 27:25-30:26; Matt 23:1-12; Ps 112; Prov 20:1-4

Problem-solving (2)

Psalm 28:7 NKJV

Secondly, we must identify the real problem. Some of the problems we have in life can actually have deeper roots. Dealing with the surface problem is very important, but we also need to deal with the deeper-rooted issues causing the problems. If insecurity is our deeper problem, we need to ask God to remind us who we are in Him. We need to be feeding our minds with the truth of our identity, which we can find in the Bible. We need to hold on to verses such as 1 John 1:3. If we are struggling with not feeling enough, we need to remember that our salvation can’t be earned, it’s a gift. The Bible says: ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God’ (Ephesians 2:8 NIV). If we have lost our hope that things can ever get better, we need to ask God to renew our hope and show us that He’s always doing new things. When God called Gideon, He first had to deal with Gideon’s hopelessness, insecurity, and doubt. Gideon questioned how God could have been there when so many bad things had happened, he questioned how God could use him when he was the weakest in his family, and then he tested God multiple times to make sure he was hearing Him correctly. But God was patient, and dealt with each issue (you can read the full story in Judges 6). And He’s patient with us too. He’ll help us dig out the deeper problems in our lives which stop us from doing the things He’s called us to do. He brings healing to the places of our lives which we think are beyond redemption.

Judg 19:16-21:25; Matt 18:10-20; Ps 119:97-104; Prov 18:6-8

Steps to getting well

John 5:6 NIV

Jesus asked a sick man an unusual question: ‘Do you want to get well?’ This man had been unwell for 38 years, so it seemed like an obvious question to ask. But we can often find ourselves needing to be asked that same question. We have probably all been hurt in some way in our lives. But if we are still focused on it years later we are not victims of our circumstances, we are victims by choice. That can pretty hard to accept. When we are hurting, we don’t want to think we are choosing to feel that way. But we can often choose to let the hurt rule our lives rather than forgive the person who hurt us. Jesus said, ‘If you are angry with someone, forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also forgive your sins’ (Mark 11:25 NCV). Sometimes the ‘victim lifestyle’ gets quite comfortable. We like having the sympathy of others, and we like the thought that what’s going in our lives, and the way we are dealing with it, isn’t our fault. But forgiving others sets us free. Whatever others may have taken from us in the past, if we remain bitter they will take more from us in the future. God’s got new plans and new opportunities for us, but for Him to be able to work in us and through us, we need to make the choice to let go and forgive. If we are holding onto the past, we are not ready for God to do something new. He says: ‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!’ (Isaiah 43:18 NIV). Are we ready to let go, forgive, and move into the new things God’s got for us?

Deut 8-10; Matt 12:22-37; Ps 78:9-16; Prov 16:25

Helping the hurting (3)

Mark 5:34 NIV

There are many reasons why people could be hurting. They might have been let down by a friend, been through a relationship break-up, experienced cruel words, or, as in the case of the woman described in Mark 5, been suffering with an illness for a long period of time. We’re told this woman had spent all of her money, and the doctors could not find a cure. When we’ve been suffering for a long time, we can become discouraged and disappointed. We can wonder why God hasn’t stepped in and sorted our situation. We wonder if somehow it’s our fault. When we’re faced with someone who is hurting on this level, it can be hard to know how to help. Their discouragement can be deeply rooted. The way Jesus responded to this woman can help us know what to do. After she had touched his robe, and had experienced His healing, He turned and wanted to know who it was. He said: ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’ By calling her ‘daughter’, He spoke out her identity over her. He reminded her that she belonged to Him and that He saw her. When any of us are hurting, we need to be reminded that Jesus sees us and loves us. We need to be reminded that we’re His sons and daughters. Our Identity in God’s eyes is so important. When someone is hurting, we might not be able to fix the situation, but we can remind them that they are more than the hurt they’re experiencing. We can show them verses in the Bible which speak of God’s love and comfort. We can show them that they’re not defined by their problems. They’re defined by Christ.

Exo 20:13; Gen 4:1-15; Matt 5:21-22

Let the healing begin

Psalm 30:2 NKJV

We talk so easily about things that don’t matter. But when it’s time to talk about our fears, our loneliness, our guilt, or our need to be loved, we clam up like oysters. Sometimes we act like we don’t even hear, when the truth is we don’t like what we hear. You heard your mate say they needed more of your time, or your child say, “I love you.” And you also heard them sigh when you didn’t say anything in return. You ran and hid because either you don’t know how to give them what they’re asking for, or you don’t want to pay the price. We all have hiding places – like our jobs, our habits, or relationships that require no emotional honesty. And as a result we feel bottled up inside. But every one of our escape mechanisms traps us deeper in the cycle of silence. God created you with a need to feel, to touch, and to express emotions. How long are you going to hide behind the mask and deny your unmet needs and unexpressed fears? God said, “It is not good that…man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). If you keep denying your emotions, you’ll never experience the joy of a good relationship. David wasn’t afraid to admit to God that he felt weak, or sad, or angry, or needed love. He said, “I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed” (Psalm 61:2 NKJV). If you can’t express yourself to others, start by talking to God. What He did for David, He can do for you. So turn to Him today and let the healing begin.

Soul food: Est 1-4; Luke 19:45-48; Ps 69:19-36; Prov 8:30-31