January 28, 2023
Let’s be honest, parenting is a hard job. Running here and there to keep our children fed, clothed, educated, well-rounded, and happy can be exhausting. Yes, parenting is a tough job, but it is also a great joy. Our children are a tremendous blessing from the Lord. They are like beautiful olive plants around your table (Psalm 128:3). How can we truly nurture and protect these gifts from God?
Most parents’ minds are completely absorbed in taking care of their children’s physical needs. But how are we doing with providing for our children spiritually? We can get so busy providing physical things (which are certainly important) that we can neglect the spiritual things that are far, far more important. Providing spiritual training and instruction for our kids is the most important thing that we can do as parents! For what will it profit our children if they are well-fed, well-educated, and well-entertained but lose their soul?
Is the Lord important to you? Is your faith important to you? Are there godly virtues that are important to you? Do you want your children to cherish these things, too? Of course, the church can (and should) help instill godly values in your children, but the most powerful way in which these things will be transmitted to them is through you! The evil in the world has a strong pull that must be counteracted with sustained effort. If we do nothing and just hope that our kids will pick up godly values on their own, the odds are very high that they will one day walk away from the Lord.
So, what can we do? I want to encourage you to start a tradition in your home of family devotional time. What might this look like? It will vary from family to family, but the idea is to spend quality time together as a family being near to God. Spend some time reading the word together. Give your children time to think and ask questions about what you read. You may be surprised by the great questions they have. Spend some time singing with your children. You might learn that your kids have hymns that are special to them. Spend some time in prayer together. You might find out new things that are on your children’s hearts. You don’t necessarily have to spend a long amount of time, and even if your children are very young, you may be surprised at what they are capable of learning.
Parents, it is up to us to instill the things of God in our children. Would you give family devotional time a try? I am convinced that it will be a great spiritual benefit to you and your kids, and it will make for some of your most cherished memories as a family.
Leave a Comment » | children, family devotion, parents, spiritual training and instruction, teaching children | Permalink
Posted by Russell Holden
January 20, 2023
Mindset is a very powerful thing. The Scripture makes this fact abundantly clear. Paul writes in Romans chapter 8, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace…” (Romans 8:6 NAS95) Similarly, Paul wrote to the Philippian church: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9 NAS95)
God is offering us His peace! He, as the God of peace, is offering to be with you through the storms of life. He can give us His peace no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in! (2 Thessalonians 3:16) But here is the key: Are you setting your mind on the things of the Spirit? Are you setting your mind on what is true, lovely, and right? Our mindset will determine what we will receive from God.
It is very easy to let our minds focus on our problems, anxieties, and fears. When our troubles are our focus, we miss out on the supernatural peace of God. That’s not to say that we should never think realistically about challenges that face us, but we must not let our mind be overcome with worry. There needs to be a reset of the mind and heart.
It is also very easy to let our minds focus on the pleasures of this life. When our mind is constantly set on the things of the world rather than the things of God, the storms of life, when they come (and they will come), will shake us to our very core. There will be little peace found because our mindset has stopped the flow of spiritual power and nourishment from God.
What do you dwell on during the course of the day? Where is your mind set? If we will set our mind on the Spirit, we will find life and peace! It’s a promise of God!
Leave a Comment » | focus, mindset, Philippians 4:8-9, Romans 8:6 | Permalink
Posted by Russell Holden
January 13, 2023
The cross of Jesus refers to his crucifixion by the Romans, his burial in a rich man’s previously unused tomb, and his resurrection from the dead. Christians look back on this once for all event as permanently dealing with sins and gaining the victory over death. But Paul also uses the cross as a model for our lives as Christians.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for
me. (Galatians 2:20, ESV)
This daily crucifixion is a putting to death of myself so that Christ may live in me. The voluntary death to self is motivated by the great love that Christ and the Father have for us.
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.(Galatians 5:24, ESV)
The above passage from Paul lets us know that this crucifixion of ourselves also has to do with the flesh. Flesh in Paul is defined well by the descriptive phrase that follows “with its passions and desires.” In other words, it is a putting to death of sinful desires in our life. It is a life lived by faith (Gal. 2:16), “through the Spirit, by faith” (Gal 5:5), and involves faith working through love (Gal. 5:6). Although we may be engaged in an inner moral struggle for Christian maturity, it is love that motivates us and the Spirit who strengthens us (Romans 8:13, Ephesians 3:16). It is not an unaided struggle.
“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14, ESV)
The model of the cross is also a model for putting to death the world on a daily basis. Paul’s use of “world” is not to evoke the beauty of creation around us. Rather it is the world system that is hostile to God. My death to self is to result in a new creation (Gal. 6:15). It will be because I’m walking by the Spirit which is the opposite of gratifying the desires of the flesh (i.e., worldly, sinful desires). I’m to be led by the Spirit (Gal. 5:18) which will produce the fruit of the Spirit, which is a very different lifestyle from the one lived by worldly values. And Paul offers a challenge to us: “let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). We must pay attention to what it means to let Christ live in us. We must be vigilant that we are not slipping back into worldliness for the new creation is in Christ, it is not in the world.
As you ponder the cross of Christ, also consider your daily crucifixion of self. The cross of Christ is to be a transforming cross.
Leave a Comment » | cross, Galatians 2:20, Galatians 5:24, Galatians 6:14, putting to death, transformation | Permalink
Posted by Russell Holden
January 6, 2023
Unity and peace among brethren must be cherished and preserved. One of the most important objectives for each of us is “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3 NAS95) Peace among brothers and sisters in the Lord must be nourished and protected. We need to make every effort to preserve the unity that the Spirit has created among us.
What are some things that promote unity and peace? Paul wrote in the previous verse, “…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love…” (Ephesians 4:2 NAS95). Here are some of the qualities that make good relationships flourish. Humility builds peace and unity, while arrogance tears it down. Gentleness builds peace and unity, while harsh and rude words tear it down. Patience and tolerance for one another build peace and unity, while expressing irritability and annoyance at the shortcomings of others tears it down.
Preserving unity and peace amongst ourselves is so important that God has given some strong warnings in scripture about those who are intent on destroying it. Take, for example, this Proverb about things that the Lord hates: “There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16–19 NAS95) Note that one who spreads strife among brothers is an abomination to the LORD. This is a strong warning! Or, as another example, think of Paul’s words to Titus: “Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.” (Titus 3:10-11 NAS95). A factious person is a division-maker—one who purposefully causes divisions in the body of Christ. Again, this is a very serious matter to the Lord.
We should all be very thankful for the unity and peace that exists among the church here in our congregation. It is a precious thing! It is pleasing to the Lord! May God continue to bless us with peace as we strive for peace.
Leave a Comment » | Ephesians 4:2, Ephesians 4:3, peace, Proverbs 6:1 6-19, unity | Permalink
Posted by Russell Holden
January 2, 2023
My prayer for each of us is that we would grow spiritually in this new year. May God grant that each of us will grow closer to Him than ever before in 2023. May He grant that we would grow in love for Him and for one another. May He grant that we would advance in spiritual wisdom and insight. I pray that the richest blessings of God will be upon you, your family, and this church.
One powerful way that God brings these rich blessings into our lives is through the assembly of the saints on the Lord’s Day. Coming together for worship draws our hearts closer to God. Coming together for worship gives us an opportunity to build up and encourage one another. It gives us strength for the trials and temptations that we face. As we gather to offer up our hearts in thanksgiving to God, He will bless us. As we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.
On the other hand, if we are not faithful in coming to worship, we will certainly miss out on the blessings that God intends for us. When we neglect worship, we will be weakened spiritually over time. We will be in great danger of drifting away from the Lord.
I want to encourage you today to renew your commitment to assembling with the church each Lord’s Day. There is nothing better that you could do for yourself in the new year. Now is a wonderful time to make coming to worship a priority. Let us not come merely out of habit, but let us come actively seeking to offer our hearts to Him in praise. Let us come actively seeking to encourage and strengthen one another. Let us come actively seeking to mold our lives to His word. As the writer of Hebrews says, “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24–25 NAS95)
Happy new year! May your soul prosper in 2023.
Leave a Comment » | assembly, Hebrews 10:24-25, importance | Permalink
Posted by Russell Holden