Reflections on My Daily Bible Reading April 30, 2010

Reflections on My Daily Bible Reading April 30, 2010

Today’s Reading: Jeremiah 27-31

The reign of Zedekiah, King of Judah, is the subject of today’s reading. An obvious message from these verses is that God has an expectation that Zedekiah will reinforce His plan for the domination of all nations, especially Judah, by Babylon. In spite of what false prophets in Judah were advising him to do, Zedekiah was told by God, “…serve the king of Babylon and live.”

In chapter 28, A prophet named Hananiah comes on the scene saying, “I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon,” but Jeremiah confronts him and delivers the judgment of God upon him for lying to the people. Jeremiah then sends a letter to the exiles in Babylon, telling them to plan for a long stay in the city. They were to go about life as normal, building houses, planting vineyards, marrying, having children but they were to beware that the prophets among them not deceive them with dreams of a short-lived captivity. That captivity is to last seventy years and only then will they be restored.

Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles is described in chapter 29. One of my favorite verses is found in verse 11. “For I know the plans that I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Those who remained in Jerusalem faced a much worse fate. Sword, famine and pestilence awaited them because they committed adultery with their neighbor’ wives and spoke lying words.

Shemiah’s false prophecy is also described in chapter 29. A glimpse of the restoration of Israel and Judah is given in chapter 30, and chapter 31 declares that the Lord will turn the captives’ mourning to joy. The promise of a new covenant is made, in perhaps the most famous passage in the book (vv. 31-40).

As I read these chapters I can thank God that I have the privilege to live under this new covenant of which Jeremiah spoke. I have the benefit of all of history that has been lived before me to learn how to glorify God, by letting him rule in my life. There are false prophets in our age who are teaching things contrary to the will of God. Some are holding out false hope. The message of God is that the heavens will pass away and the earth will be burned up (2nd Peter 3:10) and that our home and our citizenship are in heaven (Philippians 3:20). We sing with anticipation, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing thru. My treasures are laid somewhere beyond the blue.”

Thanks for reading with me, dear friend. Have a blessed day!

–Randy Sexton

A Christians Voice From Raymore, Issue 2; Number 1: April 30, 2010

A Christians Voice From Raymore, Issue 2; Number 1: April 30, 2010

A Prayer For Peace In Our Families

We just completed our first year of publication of this blog. I apologize for the three-month absence, but I found myself needing to step-up my job search activities. After expending some time and effort, I determined that the time was not right to start a second career teaching at the college level, nor was the market sufficiently able to support a non-profit youth and men’s ministry. I began more aggressively seeking a position in my core area of Supply Chain Management (Sourcing and Procurement). If you know of opportunities, please consider sharing those with me. I pray that the Lord will use me to His glory in whatever role he has in store for me!

I began this article in November of last year when I ran across information on the internet about a man that history knows as saint Francis of Assisi. It is not the intent of this article to delve into the particular history of this man nor of the use of the term “saint” but rather to note the words and history of the “Prayer of Saint Francis.” With that as an introduction we hope to focus on the need for peace in our families in light of statistics that show division in the family. So the main points I wish to discuss here are:

1. What do the stats show?

2. What does Scripture teach?

3. What tools are available to the family wishing to restore the family to what God intended it?

To conclude I will then issue a clear call to action. Please follow along with me and add your comments by scrolling to the bottom of the article at http://achristiansvoice.com and typing your thoughts in the comments box.

Wikipedia says, “The Prayer of Saint Francis is a Christian prayer. It is attributed to the 13th-century saint Francis of Assisi, although the prayer in its present form cannot be traced back further than 1912, when it was printed in France in French, in a small spiritual magazine called La Clochette (The Little Bell) as an anonymous prayer, as demonstrated by Dr Christian Renoux in 2001. The prayer has been known in the United States since 1936 and Cardinal Francis Spellman and Senator Hawkes distributed millions of copies of the prayer during and just after World War II.[1]

The words cited by them are:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood, as to understand;

to be loved, as to love;

for it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen.

By googling I also found that this song was recorded in South Africa in the early 1990s by either Maranatha or Integrity Singers. I think it was sung by the Johannesburg Boys Choir

Lord, Make us instruments of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let your love increase

Lord, make us instruments of your peace,

Walls of pride and prejudice shall cease

When we are your instruments of peace.

Where there is hatred, we will show his love

Where there is injury, we will never judge

Where there is striving, we will speak his peace

To the millions crying for release,

We will be his instruments of peace

Lord, Make us instruments of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let your love increase

Lord, make us instruments of your peace,

Walls of pride and prejudice shall cease

When we are your instruments of peace.

Where there is blindness, we will pray for sight

where there is darkness, we will shine his light

Where there is sadness, we will bear their grief

To the millions crying for relief,

We will be your instruments of peace.

Whichever version you choose to use, it conveys great ideals. It verbalizes a passion to seek peace. It describes the pursuit of peace as a personal responsibility not something that will happen without effort.

What Do The Statistics Show?

Sadly, the statistics show families that are broken and divided. In their book, Reaching A Generation For Christ, Richard Dunn and Mark Senter III (p. 489) site research from The Dad Difference by J. McDowell and N. Wakefield that says that one in four teenagers now indicate that they have never had a meaningful conversation with their fathers. Citing parental absence and conflict as a contributing factor as to why today’s teens are hurting, the authors say (pp. 512-513), “Many of today’s teenagers are left to parent themselves. If they are not from the 40 percent of young people who come from broken homes, they most likely come from homes where both parents go to work. This makes for a home life that is often characterized by busy schedules, chronic fatigue, and weary battles of discord and dissension. Parent-adolescent conflict occurs in all families some of the time and in some families most of the time. Sadly, however, the latter category is growing.”

The “National Fathering Profile” published by Headfirst Ministries and Gary Bauer are also cited (pp. 491-492) in raising “a pointed question about the cost of the national neglect of our children. ‘What are we saying to our children if we allow them to spend more time watching television by the time they are 6 than they will spend talking with their fathers the rest of their lives?” (Learn to Discern by R. G. DeMoss, p. 14)

I heard my good brother Ken McDaniel cite an alarming statistic in a great lesson, “Parenting – A Blessing With Responsibilities” Tuesday night of this week in a Gospel Meeting with the County Line Church of Christ in St. Joseph, MO. Brother McDaniel astutely observed that we often overestimate the time that we give to our children. As evidence he cited the results of a recent experiment where microphones were clipped to children to record the verbal interactions with their fathers during a day. The shocking result of that experiment showed that, on average, a father had 3 interactions, totaling a mere 37 seconds per day with his child.

What Does Scripture Teach?

Scripture teaches that in order for peace to reign in the family, the members of it must respect God’s design of the family and the role that He has given to each to fulfill. As Brother L. A. Stauffer observes,

“Other than the individual, the oldest, the smallest, the closest, and the most basic unit of society is the family. Families, therefore, form the building blocks of a community, a nation, a civilization. As families go, so fo the city, the country, and the world. When, for example, love, respect, honesty, responsibility, subjection, fairness – the bonding elements of the family – are not taught in the home, how can they possibly exist in society? No nation can long survive the absence of these fundamentals in family life; they are the basis of all human relationships.” (Family Life: A Biblical Perspective, p. 2)

Marriage, as God designed it, is one woman for one man for life (Matthew 19:4-5). In God’s design, the husband is the provider (Genesis 3:19; 1st Timothy 5:8 ) and the spiritual leader of the family (Joshua 24:15; 1st Corinthians 16:15). In God’s design, the wife is subject to the husband (1st Corinthians 11:3, 8-10 ) and is the manager of the household (1st Timothy 5:13-14; Titus 2:5). In God’s design the parents are the instructors and disciplinarians of their children (Proverbs 22:6).

As Brother McDaniel so ably pointed out in his parenting lesson, God who gives children as a “blessing” or “heritage” has also given instruction for their “care and feeding.” This blessing comes with responsibilities. As Brother Stauffer says,

“This responsibility is stated so simply, and yet so poignantly, in the familiar proverb ‘Train up a child in the way he should go, And even when he is old he will not depart from it (Prov. 22:6.)

Three thoughts are taught in this verse about children. First, there is a way children should or ought to go…. Second, training is essential if children are to go the way they should. Training involves both instruction and discipline…. Finally, the proverb teaches that the most lasting impressions upon man are the trainings he received from his youth. (IBID, p. 52)

What tools are available to the family wishing to restore the family to what God intended it?

Obviously, the number one tool available to the family wishing to restore the family to what God intended is His Word. Following the plan for the family, as God designed it, is the first key to this restoration. In conjunction with carefully studying the pattern of Scripture, pray to the God of Heaven who created us in His image and who desires to have an intimate relationship with us.

Other resources that can be used as an aid to your number one tool, pickup a book or two written by one who has a biblical perspective. I highly recommend L. A. Stauffer’s workbook from which I quote again,

“Husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, children must all listen to God who created them, believe that he knew what he was doing, and resolve to fulfill their roles in family life. This study is designed to help each one learn the place that God has assigned him or her in the home. May he help all to accept that place by faith.” (IBID, p. 5)

A Clear Call To Action

I have made some rather bold assumptions in writing this article. I have assumed that you, the reader, are a Christian and that you accept the authority of the New Testament Scriptures as your guide for living. If that does not describe YOU and you have NOT made Jesus Christ the Lord of your life, that is the first step that you must take.

Recognizing Him as the author of everlasting life, make the decision to repent, that is turn from fulfilling your own desires to serving Him. Confess him before others and be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 8:35-39; Mark 16:15-16; Romans 10:9-10; 1st Peter 3:21).

Having done this, identify yourself with a local congregation of God’s people who will help to encourage you and will provide additional resources for your growth and development as an individual and as a family. Being part of a spiritual family is one of the many blessings in Christ (1st John 1:5-10).

We, who recognize God as the designer of the universe and of the family, must call upon all of our energy and all of our influence to counter the forces that are attacking our families. Won’t you join with me in helping fathers and mothers to teach, train and discipline their children, not abdicate these God-given responsibilities. Help fight the evil and corrupt influence of evolution, a philosophy that promotes the idea that man is nothing more than a thinking ape or gorilla and therefore should be free to follow his “instincts” to do as he pleases. Enlist in the fight against humanism, an increasingly pervasive ideology in our culture that proposes that all wisdom originates with man and for man, and therefore it is totally up to him to decide what is good and pleasurable and beneficial.

Finally, if there is anything that I can do to assist you, please post your comment here or send me a private e-mail to randy.sexton@achristiansvoice.com.

Thanks for reading with me, dear friend. Have a blessed day!

–Randy Sexton

Reflections on My Daily Bible Reading April 29, 2010

Today’s Readings: Job 35-36

In place of Elihu, substitute the name of your best friend. Imagine that you have just had the worst day of your life. It is worse than any episode of the current hit 24. You have lost your wife and your kids and now a dreaded disease has invaded your body! And your best friend comes to you and begins to ask you “twenty questions.”

“Does this kind of thing make any sense? …See those clouds towering above you? If you sin, what difference could that make to God? No matter how much you sin, will it matter to Him? Even if you’re good, what would God get out of that? Do you think he’s dependent on your accomplishments? … So why would he notice you just because you say you’re tired of waiting to be heard, or waiting for him to get good and angry and something about the world’s problems?” (The Message)

And all you wanted was a little empathy. You wanted your friend to “walk a mile in your moccasins.” But instead, here he is lecturing you. Have you ever had a day like that? He uttered many truths about God’s attributes and about your frailties. But where is his love and compassion. He tells you, “But now you are being punished like the wicked; you are getting justice (36:17 – NCV). Would he be willing to carry your cross on his back as Simon did on that long slow death march called, in later years the Via Dolorosa, the “way of suffering,” for Jesus?

Thanks for reading with me, dear friend and I trust that you have had a blessed day!

–Randy Sexton

Reflections on My Daily Bible Reading April 29, 2010

Today’s Readings: Job 35-36

In place of Elihu, substitute the name of your best friend. Imagine that you have just had the worst day of your life. It is worse than any episode of the current hit 24. You have lost your wife and your kids and now a dreaded disease has invaded your body! And your best friend comes to you and begins to ask you “twenty questions.”

“Does this kind of thing make any sense? …See those clouds towering above you? If you sin, what difference could that make to God? No matter how much you sin, will it matter to Him? Even if you’re good, what would God get out of that? Do you think he’s dependent on your accomplishments? … So why would he notice you just because you say you’re tired of waiting to be heard, or waiting for him to get good and angry and something about the world’s problems?” (The Message)

And all you wanted was a little empathy. You wanted your friend to “walk a mile in your moccasins.” But instead, here he is lecturing you. Have you ever had a day like that? He uttered many truths about God’s attributes and about your frailties. But where is his love and compassion. He tells you, “But now you are being punished like the wicked; you are getting justice (36:17 – NCV). Would he be willing to carry your cross on his back as Simon did on that long slow death march called, in later years the Via Dolorosa, the “way of suffering,” for Jesus?

Thanks for reading with me, dear friend and I trust that you have had a blessed day!

–Randy Sexton

Reflections on My Daily Bible Reading April 28, 2010

Today’s Readings: Psalm 51-53

Today’s reading contains what the ESV Study Bible says is “probably the best known of the ‘Penitential Psalms.” Here David calls to mind his sin with Bathsheba and calls on God for His mercy. After taking “ownership” in his sin, he seeks restoration and renewal asking for God’s intervention in his life to create a CLEAN HEART and to renew a RIGHT SPIRIT within him. I love this verse and how David expresses his need to God. So often we fail to take ownership in our failings and attempt to blame them on others. Help me Lord, to humble myself in your presence this day and to make every minute count! Help me to fully realize that, when I sin, I sin against you and I affect my relationship with you.

David also has provided us a psalm that “enables the faithful to develop confidence in God’s care and protection.” In spite of the boasting of evil men, their potting of destruction, their working of deceit, their love of evil and lying and words that devour, we CAN MAKE GOD OUR REFURGE. We can be assured of His steadfast love forever and ever. Lord, help me to wait for YOU to vindicate your name by protecting those who trust in You. Help me to remember that it is not my job to take vengeance but it is yours! Help me to be patient and not grow weary in doing good!

David’s response to the atheist is, “You are a fool!” But recognizing that many have fallen away and are corrupt, he acknowledges God’s power to protect his people and to restore their fortunes. Praise God for His providential care for His children!

Thanks for reading with me, dear friend and I trust that you have had a blessed day!

–Randy Sexton

Reflections on My Daily Bible Reading April 27, 2010

Today’s Readings: 2nd Samuel 5-9

For the past several months I have been following the 52 Week Bible Reading Plan (Copyright 1995-2009 Michael Coley which you can obtain at http://www.Bible-Reading.com). Today is Tuesday of the 18th week of 2010 so, if you have been keeping up with that schedule, our reading today is in 2nd Samuel 5-9.

For a man to become king of a great nation at the age of 30 was no extraordinary event, but it is clear from today’s reading that even greater things are yet to come because the God of Hosts was with THIS king! If WE will follow God’s leading, great things will come to us. David forges a covenant relationship with the people that he has been given charge to lead. We would do well to follow his example as we attempt to lead.

After ruling for seven years in Hebron, David secretly enters Jerusalem, a heavily fortified city under the control of the Jebusites, through its water system (1st Chronicles 11:6), opens the gates of the city and takes control of it. From Jerusalem, he will rule over the kingdom for the next thirty-three years. “And David knew that the Lord established him king over Israel, and that He exalted his kingdom for the sake of the people of Israel” (5:12). The accounting of this process will occupy the remainder of 2nd Samuel.

The Lord is with David in battles against the Philistines, against Moab, against Zobah, and gave him victory wherever he went (8:6). David recognizes the Lord’s assistance and compares it to a “bursting flood” (5:20). The Lord will assist us in our battles if we will seek his wise counsel. While the ark of God is being transported from Baale-judah to Jerusalem, it almost falls from the cart on which it is being carried. When Uzzah puts his hands on it to steady it, he is struck dead. God expects us to do His work in His way! When He commands that the ark be carried by the Levites using poles placed through rings on the side of the ark (see Exodus 25:14-15; Numbers 4:15; 7:9; Deuteronomy 10:8; 31:9, 25, cf. Joshua 3:15), that is how he expects it to be done! May we never forget that. The consequences are eternal.

It is sad that David’s wife Michal does not share in his spiritual joy described here as the ark is set in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it (6:16-19). In fact, her sarcastic comments make clear her contempt toward David’s divinely appointed role as king. It is sad to see husband and wife who do not share common spiritual goals and ideals!

It was admirable for David to want to build God a house but God had other plans. It was God’s plan that David’s son, Solomon, build him a house. God reveals parts of that plan to David as He details the “Davidic Covenant” and the messianic promises. The lesson in this for me is that what I THINK God wants of me is not always what God truly has in store for me. May I always have the courage that David had to pray, “And now O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you.”

Truly God HAS blessed the house of THIS servant in that I was able to baptize my son Ryan into Christ and see him begin his journey of faith two weeks ago!

Thanks for reading with me, dear friend and have a blessed day!

–Randy Sexton

Reflections on My Daily Bible Reading April 26, 2010

Today’s Readings: 1st Samuel 16-20

After a long absence, I return this morning to putting on paper, the reflections from my daily Bible readings. I trust that you, dear reader, have continued to read your Bible consistently, if not daily, through what life has thrown at you. For the past several months I have been following the 52 Week Bible Reading Plan (Copyright 1995-2009 Michael Coley which you can obtain at http://www.Bible-Reading.com).

Today’s reading recounts David being anointed king while continuing to serve Saul as armor-bearer, until the time appointed by God for him to take over the kingship of Israel. He also is called into service, during this time, to play the lyre to help calm the trouble spirit that comes upon Saul from time to time. Eventually, of course, the love that Saul has for David (16:21) turns to jealousy and envy, and as the story unfolds, Saul makes many attempts on the life of young David forcing him to flee for his life continually.

David demonstrates his great courage and faith in standing against Goliath, the enemy of God. We see the development of the friendship and special bond between Jonathan, Saul’s son, and David. We see David’s romantic relationship with Saul’s two daughters, Jonathan’s sisters, Merab and Michal.

These five chapters contain many wonderful stories that remind us of the assurance that we can place in God who does not go back on his promises, like man does. We also see how rewarding our friendships can be when they are based upon the bond of mutual appreciation and respect and both parties respect God’s law. We see demonstrated also the lengths to which a man will go, when motivated by the wrong spirit, to achieve his own purposes against the purposes of God.

Thanks for reading with me, dear friend.

–Randy Sexton