The bows and paper have been tossed by now. The clothes that didn't fit have been returned. Perhaps you are satisfied with all the gifts you gave and received. We hope so. We all love the satisfaction and joy of knowing that the recipient likes what we gave them. But maybe some of us forgot a very important gift. This gift would benefit the recipient in immeasurable ways, while also liberating the giver from increasing bondage, providing vivid testimony to the gospel, and showcasing Christ-like love to the unsaved world. What gift could do all this? It’s the gift of forgiveness.
In his book Unpacking Forgiveness, Chris Brauns helps us understand that forgiveness is not only right (in that it glorifies God by obeying His will), but it is also best. God, as the standard of holiness and goodness, will only require of His people those things which are best for them. Our joy is completely full only when we live in submission to God’s design for our lives. And part of God’s good design for us is forgiveness to those who’ve sinned against us. Forgiveness is not a bitter pill to swallow; it is the doorway to maximum joy and peace.
Our ability to forgive others is a result of God’s forgiveness of us, and our desire to forgive others is based entirely on His forgiveness of us (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13). Brauns highlights three ways in which our forgiveness must mirror God’s forgiveness of all those who’ve been redeemed:
1. Forgiveness is gracious (Eph. 2:8,9; 2:4; I John 4:10).God’s forgiveness toward us is a gift motivated by His love for us (Eph. 2:4). But though this gift is graciously offered to all, this gift wasn’t free: God paid for it with the blood of His Son’s death (I John 4:10). In the same way, our forgiveness of others must be freely offered even though it is costly. There is nothing that we have done or ever could do to receive God’s forgiveness; He graciously offers it because He is gracious. Our offer of forgiveness toward others must not be dependent upon their efforts, their remorse, or anything else we want them to do, feel, or say. And it will be costly. We will need to die to ourselves, our desire for revenge, and our pride.
2. Forgiveness is conditional.God’s forgiveness is graciously offered to all, but it’s only given to those who repent and believe (Acts 20:21). God’s forgiveness is dependent; it is conditional. Like any present, God’s gift of forgiveness in Christ must be accepted, or “opened.” As we graciously offer forgiveness to those who have legitimately wronged us, we pray and plead that they will accept it by humble repentance, just as God pleads with all to accept His forgiveness by repentance. Forgiveness is conditional in that both parties involved must be committed to the new life together. Forgiveness is not possible where humility is not present.
3. Forgiveness is a commitment. When God’s gracious offer of forgiveness (that is motivated by His love and costs the death of His Son) is accepted through repentance and faith, God justifies that person. He commits that He will no longer hold that person’s sin against them. There is a legal transaction that frees that person from the condemnation and punishment that was deserved. When we forgive another individual, we make a similar commitment. We enter into an agreement that, though wrong was done, we will no longer hold that sin against that person. Our forgiveness has freed them from the debt that they had accrued.
And this commitment is not temporary or insignificant. True forgiveness means that we are committing to never bring up the offense again – not to that person, not to another person, not to God, and not to ourselves. This is the commitment that God makes to us in Christ. He commits to remove our sin “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). What tremendous hope is found in this truth! “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” (Psalm 130:3,4)
Of course, forgiveness does not mean that all consequences of wrongdoing are immediately eliminated. Because sin affects others, consequences of sin must sometimes be carried out. And it is in this very process where forgiveness can be most sweetly displayed: Those who are truly repentant and have been forgiven are most ready to accept the consequences of their sin.
Forgiveness frees us from the captivity of revenge. This world tells us that revenge is our right, and that we ought to get even with those who’ve wronged us. But this is in direct contrast to God’s Word. See, in God’s economy, those who forgive others are carrying out the very essence of the gospel. Those who have been forgiven are to be the ones who forgive, and they are to forgive in the very same way they’ve been forgiven. As a result, joy and peace will flood into our lives.
It is here. 2017 is a fresh start. It provides a clean slate to write your story. Here are some biblical ways of doing so to consider as you begin. Of highest importance is knowing for sure you have a vital real relationship with Jesus Christ through the simple plan of the Gospel. If you are unsure of your relationship with God, we would invite you to contact us to talk in person. In the meantime, click here to help understand more about your relationship with God.
Here are 7 practical ways to begin 2017 in a biblical way.
1. Begin With an Over-all Renewed Commitment to the Priority of God in Your Life
Some things to think about as you consider the place of priority God has held in your life and how you might improve.
· What do I spend my time doing each week? Remember, time is life and life is time. How you spend your time is how you are spending your life. Sure there is time to relax, watch the game
· What do I look forward to doing most in a week? Does your answer have much to do with God or your service to him?
o Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…(Matthew 6:33)
o If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (Col 3:1-2)
o Create and pray for the opportunities to serve in ways you enjoy. The way you serve him will be according to the spiritual gifts and opportunities he has given you.
2. Begin with a Renewed Commitment to the Priority of Prayer
It is interesting how large a portion of Sacred Writ is occupied with the subject of prayer, either in furnishing examples, enforcing precepts, or pronouncing promises. We scarcely open the Bible before we read, "Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord;" and just as we are about to close the volume, the "Amen" of an earnest supplication meets our ear. Instances are plentiful. Here we find a wrestling Jacob-there a Daniel who prayed three times a day-and a David who with all his heart called upon his God. On the mountain we see Elias; in the dungeon Paul and Silas. We have multitudes of commands, and myriads of promises. What does this teach us, but the sacred importance and necessity of prayer? – Charles Spurgeon
“God’s acquaintance is not made hurriedly. He does not bestow his gifts on the casual or hasty comer and goer. To be MUCH alone with God is the secret of knowing Him and of having influence with Him.” E.M. Bounds
“We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity but we accomplish little; many services but few conversions; much machinery but few results. The power of God is lacking in our lives and in our work. We have not because we ask not. It was a master stroke of the Devil when he got the church and the ministry so generally to lay aside the mighty weapon of prayer/ The Devil is not afraid of machinery, he is only afraid of God, and machinery without prayer is machinery without God. When due to lack of teaching or spiritual insight, we trust in our own diligence and effort to influence the world and the flesh, and work more than pray, the presence and power of God are not seen in our work as we wish.” R. A. Torrey
3. Begin with A Renewed Commitment to the Word of God, The Bible.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Col 3:16)
“Sanctify them through Thy Word, Thy Word is Truth.” (John 17:17)
Whatsoever things be TRUE….THINK on these things… (Phil. 4:8)
We ARE what we THINK on a regular basis. Meditate on the Bible every day.
· Read the Word – Don’t get discouraged if you miss a day or a week or a month….
· Listen to the Word preached – take notes, MP3, online sermons…. www.oneplace.com
· Memorize the Word
· Consider it in daily actions – remember that as a Christian it is “written on your heart.” What does that mean to you?
4. Begin Without the Nagging Paralyzing Effect of Fear, Dread and Worry
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. (Isa 41:10)
Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ… Peter 1:13
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2Co 10:5)
Great Faith is not an irrational leap. It is a reasonable trust in the revealed truth about God. It is a process of thinking. John MacArthur
Faith is primarily thinking. The trouble with a man of “little faith” is that he doesn’t think. He allows circumstances to beat him up. Faith is not purely mystical. Christian faith is essentially thinking (by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit) on the truths of God’s Word. “Look at the bird, the grass, the lilies, --consider them…think about it and draw your deductions based on logic. Faith is a man determined to think on truth when circumstances tell him not to. Lloyd-Jones
The essence of “little faith” is that a man’s thoughts are controlled by circumstance and not by the man girding up the loins of his mind and bringing them captive to the truth. The man of “little faith” is the man who is not allowing the Spirit to fill him with the truth of the Word of God, but is being filled with his own thoughts of fear, worry and suspicion based on circumstances. He then does not think, but goes round and round in circles. Worry is not “thinking too much” it is not thinking enough about the Biblical truth that you know. It is not letting the Word of Christ “dwell in you richly” and being “filled with the Word of God by the Holy Spirit” Faith is not optimism, wishful thinking, or dreaming. It is a reasoned response to the revealed truth of the Bible with or without emotion. Lloyd-Jones
5. Begin Without Conviction from Sins of the Past Which You Have Confessed and Forsaken.
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. (Pro 28:13) If you haven’t confessed and forsaken your sin. Do so today. Would you rather have a year of failure or a year of mercy?
6. Begin with A Renewed Commitment to Spiritual Disciplines in the Pursuit of Godliness.
God makes us Godly!!! We “put ourselves in the way.” Remember:
· Discipline brings Freedom to reach your goals
· Discipline is based on principle and commitment -not feeling
· Discipline without direction is drudgery. - Donald Whitney
Examples of areas to develop disciplined routines for godliness.
A great resource for ideas in the book, Spiritual Discipline by Donald Whitney.
· Bible intake
· Confession to God
7. Begin with The End in Mind.
What do you want the end of 2017 to be like? What do you want to have accomplished, how to you want to be better? Different? This means you’ll need to set and accomplish goals. Here are some ideas on how to do so.
Quick steps to getting where you want to go…
· Review your roles (What roles do you play? Mom, Dad, Employee, Christian, Husband, Wife…?
· Realistic reflection in each area of how you can and should improve.
· Righteous reach forward (God ordained Goals). Set goals for each role.
· Reinvented routine. Determine to change your life’s routines in order to reach your goals.
· Revitalized rigor. Get excited and motivated by envisioning how your life and the lives of those around you will improve as you reach your goals.
If you do not have a church you feel at home in or that teaches the Bible in a truthful practical way, we invite you to visit us some Sunday.
A Thanksgiving festival is deeply rooted in American history and even predates the Pilgrims’ celebration at Plymouth. Although the one in 1621 is probably the real beginning of Thanksgiving celebrations in America, David Barton of Wallbuilders explains in the video below how days of thanksgiving in American date as far back as 1541 in Palo Duro Canyon in what would later become the state of Texas. There was another in 1595 in St. Augustine, another in 1598 in El Paso as well as several more. You can watch David Barton explain the history of Thanksgiving below in this article.
The majority of presidents from Washington to Obama have made Thanksgiving Day proclamations pointing to God as our ultimate source of blessing. You can read the presidential proclamation of each president by clicking here.
We encourage you to watch the video from David Barton, but even more so the following video from “The Story of Liberty” website with your family sometime during the Thanksgiving holiday break. It is about 30 minutes long, but well worth your family’s time if you want them to understand the true significance of this national day dedicated to thanking God for his bountiful and undeserved blessings.
We also wanted to post some portions of Presidential proclamations from over the years for your understanding of the significance of this day in American history and as a reminder that we are a country with a Christian heritage.
George Washington - WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."
Abraham Lincoln - The year that is drawing towards its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.
Franklin D. Roosevelt - To the end that we may bear more earnest witness to our gratitude to Almighty God, I suggest a nationwide reading of the Holy Scriptures during the period from Thanksgiving Day to Christmas. Let every man of every creed go to his own version of the Scriptures for a renewed and strengthening contact with those eternal truths and majestic principles which have inspired such measure of true greatness as this nation has achieved.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, President of the United States of America, in consonance with the joint resolution of the Congress approved December 26, 1941, do hereby proclaim Thursday the twenty-third day of November 1944 a day of national thanksgiving and I call upon the people of the United States to observe it by bending every effort to hasten the day of final victory and by offering to God our devout gratitude for His goodness to us and to our men.
O give thanks to the Lord, call on His name, Make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him, Tell of all His wonderful works!
Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 24, 1988, as a National Day of Thanksgiving, and I call upon the citizens of this great Nation to gather together in homes and places of worship on that day of thanks to affirm by their prayers and their gratitude the many blessings God has bestowed upon us.
David Barton from WallBuilders gives more information on the history of Thanksgiving in America. Watch the video here.
If you are looking for a church in the Plattsmouth area for you or someone in your extended family, please look over our site. We would enjoy having you visit with us soon.
In real life, we can often live in fear and anxiety because of the same type of “smoke and mirrors.” Although these tricks really are lies and come from a sinister foe. Jesus said that the devil is a liar—and the father of lies. The devil cannot “make” us do anything, but he is a master deceiver who is very much experienced at making people believe anything that interferes with God’s plan. Jesus Christ, in contrast, is called “the way, the truth, and the life,” and his plan is for each person to experience life “more abundantly.”
Here are five lies that cause us to fear and the Biblical truth that sets people free from those fears if they will believe and trust God’s word.
The worst thing about the “I can’t” lie is that it stops us before we start. It fills us with fear as we face our biggest obstacles and challenges. “I can’t overcome alcohol.” “I shouldn’t expect to have a good marriage.” “Everything I touch turns out wrong.” “I’m a failure.” “I can’t follow God.” “I can’t start that business.”
In contrast, God is the creator of potential—and the completer of fulfillment. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Yes, that verse is specifically about Paul’s learning to handle both plenty and poverty without being distracted from his life’s purpose by either. Still, if God is the great creator, if he knows us, if we will one day be rewarded for what we have done, then we may assume he has a plan for us—something we can do. No, we can’t do everything, but we can do anything he wants us to do. That includes overcoming our sins and failures by his grace and with his help and accomplishing his will for our lives.
Whether it is something people consider to be great or small, God looks on the heart, and the very act of seeking to serve him is a success. And failure is an essential part of success. “ For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity.”  The only way to never fail is to never attempt. So don’t be afraid to attempt that which God is leading you to do through prayerful and Biblical wisdom. Don’t fear and believe the lie of “I can’t.”
“God won’t help me.” “God won’t forgive me again.” “God won’t hear me.” God won’t love me.” These are real cries of the hurting heart. And God is ready for that: “As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear him. He knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”  God is not frustrated at our weaknesses and failing. Ask Peter after his denial of Christ. Ask the woman who was so ashamed that she could not even look up, but washed the feet of Christ with her tears. But he is severe to those who stubbornly persist in rejecting his grace. It’s Okay to be weak, but we must guard our hearts against being willfully and stubbornly resistant of God’s grace. The key differences? Sincerity and repentance. “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart.” 
This is a lie from Satan, “the accuser,” much too close to the first recorded lie. His approach to Eve was that God did not have her best interest at heart. She could have more than God was offering. Although she had known only good, she could know both good and evil. And that experiential knowledge of evil brought pain and misery.
God cares. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” 
And people care. It is natural to retreat from people when we hurt, to hide, to isolate ourselves. It is natural, but it is counterproductive. The healing comes as we choose the supernatural, God’s plan. And God’s plan involves accepting the provisions God has made, including people. That is one function of the church: “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting [encouraging] one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” That may take letting some people inside your life, opening yourself up, sharing your hurts when you just want to hide. But God intends to use his people. Will everyone respond rightly? Maybe not. In fact, probably not. In any group of people, some will let you down, but in a good church, there will be someone with whom you can connect. One function of pastoral leadership is to help people make those connections. If you are in our area, we would like to help. Please feel free to contact us or come for a visit to a service soon. We are here to listen and we care.
I don’t matter
You matter to God. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  You are worth God assuming human flesh, dying on a cross to take the punishment for your sins, and rising again.
You matter, not because of what you can do, not because of who you are, but because of whose you are, if you are a child of God. A loving parent cares for the child, even in the child’s failures. Your own parents are, or were, fallible. But your heavenly father is not.
Yet we know by observation and by scripture that God’s children—and all people—suffer. The “why” behind suffering is a topic of its own, and has been a lifelong passion of Phillip Yancey, who wrote the book Where Is God When It Hurts.” This is a good source for deeper consideration of this topic.
It’s too late
This is a powerful lie of the devil. The feeling of urgency which should prompt us to action becomes his tool to intensify despair and fear. The feeling of guilt which should prompt us to repentance, this the devil uses to make us hide from God because of fear instead.
But what does God say? The mercy of God is “new every morning.”  I love Psalm 103:8—“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy—because it begins and ends its description of God with his mercy.
And lost opportunity? True, yesterday cannot come again. But should we throw away today because of that? You might be surprised at how encouraging it is to do something rather than to stagnate in yesterday’s sorrow.
This has all been written for the perspective of a person who has a relationship with God. It’s never too late to start. The first step in truly dealing with fear based on the lies of Satan is to begin a relationship with God. For more about knowing for sure of the forgiveness of God, having a real relationship with him that can bring peace and relief from fear, click here.
 John 8:44
 Philippians 4:13
 Proverbs 24:16
 Psalm 103:13-14
 Psalm 34:18
 Romans 8:32
 Hebrews 10:25
 John 3:16
Have you ever been yelled at as an adult? Maybe it was in traffic or when you accidentally spilled something on the big mean guy in front of you at a ball game. Whatever the situation, how did it make you feel? Did you feel your face get red? Were you embarrassed or angry? After the fact, even hours later, did you feel vengeful or keep thinking of things you could have or should have yelled back at the person? Now, rewind to the last time you yelled at your child. Do you think they feel much differently? Do you think raising your voice or using harsh words helps or hurts the relationship with young people?
The Bible says in Ephesians 4:29-32, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.”
There is powerful truth in this passage regarding communication in general especially at home, but let’s focus for now on the word “clamor” in verse 21. The word comes from a word that means to croak (as a raven) or scream, that is, shriek, cry (out). This unfortunately describes most every one of us as parents at one time or another in the way we speak to our kids. We lose control because we had a long day, our kids get under our skin, they disobey or disrespect one too many times and instead of responding firmly in love, we respond firmly in anger, clamor and evil speaking. Instead of solving the problem, we makes it worse.
Here are 10 suggestions for dealing with yelling and/or its aftermath.
1. If you’re guilty, make it right. If you know you’ve been wrong in this area, let your child know you were wrong, you feel badly about it and you are going to take steps to correct this issue. This may be difficult, but it will help you and your child. Make sure you also go to the Lord and ask for forgiveness and help as well. He will not only forgive us but strengthen us to overcome our sin. (I John 1:9)
2. In addition to making it right, communicate with your child about the situation. Tell them in a way that fits their age and understanding that you struggle with anger and yelling at times. Let them know you are praying for victory and ask for their help. Let them know what actions on their part can cause you to struggle more. Don’t blame them or make them feel your sin is their fault (it’s not) but communicate that their actions do make a difference.
3. Give advance warning when possible to avoid the yelling. Let your child know that their actions are elevating your emotions in a negative way and that you feel like you’re going to explode. Let them know when possible that you both need to work to defuse the situation immediately. Let them know that you may need to walk away and cool down. Tell them that if you do that, it is your way of preventing a yelling episode.
4. Pray. Ask God right there in the heat of the moment to give you strength to control your words and voice. Step away and cool down if possible.
5. Envision a stage. God sees your actions, but imagine that a group of your peers or co-workers are watching you and your child on a stage. Would your yelling embarrass you in front of them? Perhaps it will help to envision them as being there.
6. Remember you are the parent. Yelling and sparring with words reduces your level of authority and respectability. You are the adult. Remember to act like one. When you yell, it makes it easier for your child to yell back because you seem more like a sibling or peer.
7. Memorize a passage of Scripture together with your child. Agree that it is wrong for both of you to participate in these sins of words and voice. A joint memorizing project will help with accountability and relationship building. Ps. 119:11 says, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. You can simply “Google” “Bible verses on controlling your words” or “Bible verses on controlling the tongue” for some good suggestions.
8. Have your husband or wife help. Be accountable to someone regarding your words and voice. A husband or wife is perfect. If that doesn’t fit in your particular situation, ask your pastor, pastor’s wife or a close friend to keep tabs on you and ask how you’re doing weekly. Ask them to pray with you about the struggle.
9. Thank the Lord your child is safe and healthy. There have been times I felt myself becoming irritated with my child and feeling like exploding. It helped to envision them sick or hurting and thank the Lord that they were actually ok, safe and well. This filled me with more compassion and thankfulness which helped defuse the anger and tone down the situation.
So is there ever a reason to yell? Sure. Perhaps to get attention, to create urgency or emphasis, but yelling with sinful anger is never good. Like any sin, it always makes things worse.
We would love to help minister to your family at First Baptist Church. We have a very active children's and teen program and we have seasoned parents who would be happy to be involved with praying for you and listening. Our pastor preaches messages from God's word, the Bible, in a practical way that applies biblical principles to your life. It is systematic and right from the text of God's word. Join us.
It can be expressed with these two phrases one might hear from doubters.
Good doubt may sound like this. "I need to know more. I want to understand who God is and why he is trustworthy."
Bad doubt may sound like this. "Hey, who knows right? Live and let live. We'll find out who is right or wrong eventually anyhow when we all gather at the big party in the sky."
For a long time, I’ve felt that Thomas has gotten a bad rap. Remember him? Doubting Thomas? He’s the disciple who was out somewhere when the resurrected Christ appeared to the others.
“Hey, Tom! You really missed it. He’s back—Jesus. And He was here just a few hours ago—Where were you?”
“I was out. Just out. Walking. I’ve got a lot of thinking to do.”
His friends were obviously excited about something. Maybe one of them said, “That empty tomb Peter and John saw on Sunday—this is why. Jesus is really alive! We’ve seen Him!”
Thomas wasn’t one to buy into someone else’s excitement. Still hurting over the loss of one he had committed his life to, he said, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
That’s pretty strong wording. Thomas said he would have to poke his finger into the holes made by the nails of the crucifixion. Maybe that was hyperbole. But we forget how confused and discouraged all of the disciples were. But Thomas was the realist in the crowd. It was only Thomas who heard what Jesus clearly had told them on their way to the Passover feast, just a week before. Jesus had said to them that he would be betrayed and killed. All the others were expecting Jesus to use this huge gathering to announce his earthly kingdom and to lead a revolt that would push the occupying Roman army out of Israel. Some of them were jockeying for position in this new kingdom. Most of the disciples were not ready for God’s unexpected plan.
But Thomas was. His take on it? He was ready for the worst. Before they came to Jerusalem, he had said, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” You’ve got to give him credit for faithfulness. For him, it wasn’t about a place in the inner circle or getting a high office in the kingdom. For Thomas it was about Jesus.
The honesty of doubt, good doubt, in contrast to smoke-screen or bad doubt, is what will build a person up. Lee Strobel wrote of that. A Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and an atheist, Strobel started his investigation of Christianity to disprove it. As the evidence for the validity of faith began to mount, he experienced the natural reaction of trying to avoid God’s claims on his life. He clung to arguments that he knew were weak, just to avoid the consequences of admitting that God is real. He knew that his life would have to change. However, the tough-minded pursuit of truth that made him a good journalist compelled him to confront his intellectual dishonesty, and he became not only a Christian, but also one of the major defenders of Christian belief in our time.
Thomas struggled with that too. Do you see the profound insight of his wording: “I will not believe.” He did not say, “can’t believe”; he said, “won’t believe.” There is an act of the will involved. Honest good doubt seeks truth, not convenience or a way to continue in a given lifestyle. Some people are more interested in saving face than honestly considering faith.
Good or Honest doubt matters. So does the point-of-decision principle. An old story has a college freshman challenging the professor, “How do you know that I exist?” Perhaps the student expected a discussion of a universal life force and the illusory nature of our perception of individual existence and human will. Instead, the prof answered, “Who, may I ask, is speaking?” The evidence of the student’s existence was overwhelming. Yes, you can always come up with some argument, but sooner or later, you must choose. To continue putting off choice is itself a powerful choice, perhaps a deadly choice. For the enquiring mind, there never will be a point when all questions have been answered as simply and clearly as a high school math problem. Faith must take priority.
Some years ago, when I was struggling with a career change, a friend introduced a new phrase to me: “Eventually, you just have to pull the trigger.” Quite a picture: a small action performed with full knowledge that something big and consequential will follow. There comes a time when the weight of evidence demands a verdict. So it is with Christ. Healthy good doubt moves toward a goal; it doesn’t drift. It seeks truth, not excuses.
It is God who says “Come now, let us reason together.” (Isaiah 1:18). God also says, “You will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). I would encourage you to seek where answers are likely to be found: at a Bible-teaching church. For a safe, friendly place to investigate the claims of God’s word, visit us at First Baptist Church.
- That the people impacted by this violence and unrest would, as Jeremiah did in Lamentations 3, remember the true God of the Bible and have hope.
This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. Lamentations 3:21
- That the people would be comforted in the Lord because his compassions fail not and his mercies are new every day.
It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
- That the Lord would guide people into hope through quietness and solitude where they can reflect on their own relationship with Jesus Christ. Pray that they will find both present and eternal hope in Him.
The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope. He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach. For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. Lamentations 3:25-33
- That the people would not be ashamed of standing on true moral, Biblical truth and right as they continue to fight this battle against evil and terrorism.
O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, Psalms 25:2a
- That their enemies would not triumph over them in bringing about more evil deeds, in defeating their courage or their trust in the one true God.
let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me. Psalms 25:2b
- That those who continue to transgress without cause, taking innocent lives would be in disarray, in conflict with one another and ultimately exposed and defeated.
Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. Psalms 25:3
- That leaders, law enforcement and protection forces would have wisdom and insight. That they would seek God in their efforts to destroy evil and that God would direct their paths.
Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Psalms 25:4
- That rather than turning against the true God of the Bible in anger or discouragement, the people impacted would turn to God. That they would trust his mercy, his lovingkindness and goodness to those who follow him.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. Psalms 25:5
- Implement a strategy where your child can earn points. Points turn into cash, material items, trips and other things that individually motivate your child. It works for children and I’ve even seen teens up to 18 get excited about it if the incentives are right. It works something like this. There are two lists of jobs. One list is a daily/weekly list of regular routine chores that need to be done around the house. Each week chores are successfully completed earns them 300 points. You can give partial points for less than 100% completion. A second list has items that can be done for extra points. This list is one that you build off your own “to-do” list from around the house, around the widow’s house next door, grandma’s house etc. It can include all kinds of items from cleaning out the junk drawer to trimming the hedges to weeding the garden. You decide a fair number of points for each job. Your child can choose which he’d like to do and when he’d like to do them. If you have jobs that arise or that need to be done at a certain time, negotiate points for the job with him like you would a contractor. In all cases, make the points worth it for him. As the weekly and extra points add up, he can trade them in at various levels for smaller rewards or save them for something bigger. Give some extra incentive for when he reaches certain levels. At 2500, he gets to have a friend over. At 4000, bowling with some buddies. These extra incentives don’t have to subtract from the totals. It is a great way to keep him busy and also reward his hard work. (Hint- Points can also be taken away for negative behavior, but use this option sparingly.)
- Consider vacation Bible school at local churches.At our Bible school (see below) there are outdoor activities, crafts, fun with friends and the blessing of learning about the Bible. Your kids and teens will have a blast at First Baptist this summer. You can check with other local churches to learn about other Bible school opportunities during the summer. Make sure though that what is being taught is truly from the Bible. Check websites for the doctrinal statements of the church and what they will be learning that week during the Bible school time. You can read our doctrine statement here and more about our summer youth programs here.
- Communicate. Make sure you are taking advantage of the extra time with your child. Take them to lunch, take a weekend trip together or binge watch some wholesome Netflix shows from your childhood era. Conversation Starters for Good Communication with Your Teens and Children
- Stay involved in a church. Most churches provide some great family activities in the summer. We do here at First Baptist. Check it out here. Get involved with a good Bible-believing church that will not only provide great worship opportunities for your family, but a great teen program for your teens. Talk to the youth pastor or children's ministry director if you’re concerned about your child.
- Give them time to relax and refresh. School can be hard and students need some time off. Don’t be overly concerned with some sleeping in, video gaming and tv watching. Kids are only young once and most will work the rest of their lives. While a good work ethic is needed, don’t forget to let them be a kid while they can.
Why do we have to wait?
1. God tells us to. Often parents tell young children to wait; and, like it or not, they must obey.
Look at the many commands and verses that imply that God, our loving Father, tells us to wait.
Psalm 25:5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.
Psalm 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
Psalm 62:5 My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.
Psalm 123:2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.
Proverbs 20:22 Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.
Isaiah 8:17 And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.
Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Hosea 12:6 Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.
Psalm 33:20 Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.
Psalm 37:7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
Psalm 40:1 I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
Psalm 130:6 My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning:
Isaiah 25:9 And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
Lamentations 3:25 The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.
2. God’s ways and plans are wiser and better than our ways and plans. We wait for His time, which is the best time, whether we realize and understand that or not. Consider these verses from the Bible.
Isaiah 55:9 For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
God has all power, wisdom and an eternal plan that he is executing flawlessly.
Job 9:12 Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?
Psalm 29:10 The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever.
Psalm 47:2 For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.
Psalm 83:18 That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.
Psalm 93:1 The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.
Psalm 135:6 Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.
Daniel 2:20 Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:
Daniel 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
How do we wait? When you are in a position of waiting on God, perhaps this acrostic, using the word “wait” will help you know and remember how to wait.
Watch without anxiety. We are told to watch and pray often in the Bible. The words associated with the Greek word “watch” in these passages means to keep alert and yet remain calm and collected. It seems to have the idea of expectancy as well. Continue to pray and watch for the answer. Do not be anxious and nervous when it does not seem to happen according to your reasoning and timing.
Act on what you know to do. We must continue to function according to what God has called us to do. We must go about the normal responsibilities given to our care by the Lord. If the burden is great enough, the temptation for some is to “shut down” and do nothing but pray and fast. God may lead you in this direction, but be careful here, especially if you are of an anxious and fearful temperament. In most cases, the best solution is a combination of praying and fasting, and yet still working at what you know God has already given you to do. Be cautious of prayer that is nothing more than “sanctified worry.” This is when we find ourselves not really praying to God, but rehearsing our problem over and over again in our own minds in the guise of prayer. Often it is best simply to pray a short prayer, leaving the care with the Lord and then continuing with our business of the day, trusting God to do the work we cannot.
Instruct yourself in the things of God. Spend time seeking God while you are waiting. This is when God will reveal new things about Himself to you from His Word, preaching, good Christian books, godly friends, and even through the moving of the Holy Spirit in your heart. This is not a time to complain, but to “Be still and know that I am God.” Keep a journal, especially through very trying times, and write down all that God teaches you. This is a prime blessing of waiting. You will grow closer to God!
Confrontation and giving advice. When we know our friends may be struggling with a problem, sin, or even an addiction, it's never easy to offer helpful correction or give input. In fact, it is like trying to gift wrap a huge, awkwardly-shaped gift that our friend may not even appreciate at the time. You know they will benefit from it, but how do you make it presentable so they will gladly accept it? Even with examples laid out before us in Scripture, it is still difficult at times to know exactly what to do and say to get our friends or family to listen and really hear truth.
In the end, we know we can't force a gift on anyone. No matter how valuable the gift of advice or confrontation, no matter how perfectly wrapped or perfectly timed, it still has to be received. We know that, according to Scripture, wise people accept this gift of advice and confrontation. We can see that even some marginally wise folks will accept it, although more care must be taken in the giving of it. We also know that the Bible says that a mark of a foolish person is that he will not accept advice (Proverbs 23:9).
A few preliminary thoughts first.
Silence means approval (Proverbs 17:15-17). Remember that you, as a friend or family member, must attempt to give this gift. You can't stay silent and just hope things get better. You can't be the buddy or friend and not be a godly friend.
Remember that advice and confrontation bring results (Proverbs 28:23). It may not be the immediate results you want; but if they accept, you have "gained a brother" (Matthew 18:15) and strengthened the relationship. If the result is rejection, you can begin to follow the advice God gives on dealing with those who are foolish.
So how do we wrap this gift of advice, wisdom, and / or confrontation?
There are some great "wrapping" instructions in the story of the prophet Nathan confronting David after his sin with Bathsheba. This story can be found in 1 Samuel 12:1-15.
1. Wrap your advice in a friendship of encouragement. If you are not careful about picking the battle you choose with your friends who are struggling, you'll find yourself nagging instead of advising. What's the difference? Nagging occurs when you find yourself constantly irritated with your friend and badgering them almost every time you’re with them. Advising happens when you pick your battles, letting some (maybe many) issues go while focusing on the biggest issues or the ones the Holy Spirit prompts you about first. Spend your time and energy trying to find the things you can praise in your friend’s life on a regular basis. He'll be more open to the purposeful, planned confrontation if it is wrapped in a day-to-day flow of encouragement.
2. Wrap your advice in brotherly love and not harsh judgment. In other words, wrap it in humility, mercy, and grace, remembering your own journey, struggles, and failures along the way. Remember God's mercy to you. Soft words turn away anger. Meditate on Proverbs 15:1. Learn to ask questions and not make accusations. Study 1 Corinthians 13 before confronting. Love hopes, love endures, is patient, kind, thinks the best whenever possible, and so on. If you are looking forward to pointing the finger and confronting, or if you are angry and frustrated, then wait.
3. Wrap your advice in facts. Nathan knew the facts when he confronted David. Don't rely on hearsay, possibly false assumptions, or speculations. Trust your friend enough to believe the best and think no evil until the facts are evident. This doesn't mean that you believe lies and don't investigate, but make sure he knows you've given him the benefit of the doubt. Again, ask questions of your friend first before you simply make accusations. Even if you know the facts, give him the option to share them with you first. Remember, Proverbs says that there are often two sides to a story, and a wise person gets all the facts.
4. Give your gift with a wise sense of timing. The occasion must be God’s prompting, not your own angry outburst. Wait and pray for the right time. Here are a few thoughts: Talk privately; this type of gift is not best received in front of other family or friends. Honor his agenda if possible; if you are interrupting a ball game on TV or planned time with other friends, your gift of advice or confrontation takes a hit. Consider scheduling a time with them: "Hey, I have some things to talk with you about. When is a good time for you later today?" Along with this goes bathing the whole situation in prayer. Part of timing is giving the Holy Spirit time to work in your friend’s heart ahead of time, as well as yours (Proverbs18:13).
5. Wrap your gift with a healthy dose of Biblical Truth and Love.
"I'm tired of the way you’ve been treating your wife! I just about popped you the other day when you yelled at her at the restaurant. That better never happen again when I’m around. God will deal with people like you. I promise you!"
Instead, try something like:
"I'm concerned for you because the Bible says you should honor your wife; it gives promises for God’s grace in doing so. The Bible says in Ephesians that guys should love their wives like Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. How do you think you’ve been doing in that area lately? I know it is an area that I’ve had to be careful in myself.”
Biblically, the key to solving strife (relational conflict) is humility and truth. This is well stated in Ephesians 4:15 as truth wrapped in love. Wrapping truth in love provokes thoughts of our heart motivations, because when we act in humility and love, we take attacking and offending out of the picture. We can then join with them in the discussion of truth. Biblical truth becomes the light in the situation and does the work of revealing the heart. With this approach, as a friend, you let the power of God's Word, "sharper than any two edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12) do its work. You are then more freed up to love and help them as they learn how to implement truth in their actions.
6. Wrap advice and confrontation with the wide red ribbon of forgiveness. Be ready to forgive before you confront if the offense was against you. After the confrontation and advising, forgive. Don't keep bringing up the problem. Move on. If the offense was against someone else or against God alone, assure a repentant friend of God's love and forgiveness as well. Make sure that during the confrontation, you don't bring up past forgiven sins unless they are very pertinent to the current situation. If the advice is rejected, you as a friend can still keep a spirit of sweetness and readiness to forgive when your friend is brought to a place of repentance by God's work in his life. This helps guard your own heart from getting vengeful and bitter and your conversations from being harsh and sarcastic.
7. Wrap the gift of confrontation or advice as well as the presentation of the gift in lots of love. Samuel affirmed love (II Samuel 12:25). Remember we referred to 1 Corinthians 13 earlier? Study this passage over and over when dealing with struggling friends or family. Love goes deeper than feelings and beyond feelings. You may not feel like loving him in any sort of way right now, but you can still act in love towards him according to the principles in 1 Corinthians 13. Assure your friend that you love him no matter what he does. You may not approve, you may have to even separate from him for a while, but let him never doubt your or God's love for him.