Archive for March, 2014

BUILDING A CONFIDENT CHILD

“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a real blessing” (Psalm 127:3 GNT).

Our children are under attack like never before. The enemy has gone after the precious with but one aim. He wants to recruit them into his army; teaching them how to hate rather than love; to dishonor authority rather than honor authority.  He wants them to walk in ways of rebellion rather than in the ways of God,leading ultimately to their own self-destruction..

Statistics are alarming as to the vicious and cruel acts that are being carried out by children in the public arena.  But there is still hope for our children(And parents!).   An interesting by-product of various stats and analysis on today’s family reveal that when parents are engaged and present in a child’s life the incidents of  wrong or destructive behavior is far less noted. When the parent is not engaging with the child, this is when they move much more easily toward cruel, disrespectful and anti-social behavior.

Parents still are the greatest single influence in a child’s life and the choices they make.

A BLESSING

The psalmist reminds us that children are a blessing from God. Therefore, Let them know they are wanted. No matter how a child may have been brought into the world ,we must make it clear to the child that they were wanted. Celebrating the fact that God,the Author of life, sent them into the world is what helps them understand that they are special and unique. The status of what one “has” or “does not have” is not the most important reference point in a child’s life. Their guiding compass apart from parental care is the fact that they know they were wanted by God in the world. As Catherine Booth(wife of Gen. William Booth of the Salvation Army) was overheard speaking to one of her daughters who was in her baby crib, “You were not brought into this world for yourself, God brought you here for others”! A tribute to them as parents, their affirmation influenced everyone of their children to enter a life of extraordinary service to others for God.

SIGNIFICANCE

Children need to know they are significant,they matter. One of the sure ways this can be known is by the love shown, giving them the undivided attention they need.  In a child’s mind, love equals the TIME you spend with them. They recognize love when you are really present to the moments spent with them.

TRAINING

Children are to be trained in the ways of the Lord. This can be a rather intimidating proposition to a parent or guardian. After all, children do not come with an “Instruction Manual”! Nevertheless, we as parents have been given spiritual authority as well as practical wisdom. God has given us instructions in the Bible that help give guidelines and boundaries for the upbringing of children. Here are a few.

“Train a child in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not turn from it “(Proverbs 22:6). The word “train” here in the original is suggestive of the “placing of an arrow in a bowstring” and releasing it in the direction of the target in order for it to hit the mark, the bulls eye.” The psalmist wrote, “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth”(Psalms 127:4 NKJV).

 Every child has a unique gift or talent(s) for which they are to honor God. Helping them discover this is the role of the parent(See Hebrews 11:23-27).

BOUNDARIES

Providing Biblical boundaries and encouragement is necessary if they are to achieve their God- given design. With gratitude the psalmist prayed,”I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life”(Psalm 119:93 NIV). 

Children need to know that there are boundaries that govern all of life.  And when healthy boundaries are violated there are consequences. They need to have a honest and healthy respect for God and others if they will live a God-honored life. Proverbs gives practical insight as How to get along in life with God and others.  Building a confident child occurs by  loving them unconditionally, teaching them to love themselves responsibly and learning how to respect other human beings equally.  Jesus taught,”Honour your father and mother and You shall love your neigbor as thyself”(Matthew 19:19) 

Its possible to raise a confident child today. Its not always easy with the many challenges and temptations all around.  It’s not too late (even if they are away from home).  Pray daily for your children. Trust God’s faithfulness.  It is not merely what you SAY but what they SEE that makes the difference.

 

 

(c) Copyright. 2014, Walter Fletcher Jr. This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com.

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BUILDING ON SOLID GROUND

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: (Matthew 7:24 NKJV)

In the natural order of things every foundation will be tested. Jesus teaches us that this is true in the spiritual order of things as well. The type of insurance we carry in the day of great trials is important. The hymn writer proclaimed, *My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness…When all around is sinking sand on Christ the solid rock I stand”. “Where am I standing?” is the honest question.

The apostle Paul understood that every house would be tested at the base level. So he prepares the new followers of Christ in Ephesus not to trust in themselves. He reminds them, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins…For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1, 8-10 NKJV)

Two exhortations are drawn from these words: (1) Stop competing with the world. You are dead to the former way of living. “Don’t love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in them. Everything that is in the world—the craving for whatever the body feels, the craving for whatever the eyes see and the arrogant pride in one’s possessions—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world and its cravings are passing away, but the person who does the will of God remains forever”(1 John 2:15-17 CEB).   (2) Stop competing with God. ” We are His Masterpiece”(Ephesians 2:10b NIV).  Your performance does not define you. Your identity in Christ does. Paul taught, “You are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:10). You are not to try to compete…for you are complete! This means you cannot play “Can You Top That?” with Jesus. “Very well”, ”If I am complete in Christ Jesus then “How shall I live?” You must recognize, as Paul said, “I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus”(Philippians 1:6 CEB). Then you must cooperate as an act of loving obedience. “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose”(Philippians 2:12, 13 NIV). The key is what Roy Hession coined as “Calvary Road”. In other words, the Way of the Cross is the Key. Again as the apostle Paul testified, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 CEB)

The Cross is the key to victory over the flesh nature. We are dead to the worldly way and point of view. But we are to experience Christ’ LIFE in our every day living. Crucified, yet alive in Him and His resurrection life and power Alive in me. And when you do so you will stand unmoved because you have built confidently on the solid Rock of Christ.

 

(c) Copyright 2014, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not altered in anyway from its original Content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

BUILDING A SOLID COMMUNITY

“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one”(Ezekiel 22:30 NKJV).

God looks for those who will partner with Him in the earth. Although the Almighty, Who needs nothing, upholds all things and take counsel from none…He does request the honor of our help. But (In addition to this humbling thought) there is a catch to this knowledge. If we would become co-workers with God we must first see where He is working in order to join Him in HIS work. In other words, we must SEE what God sees in order to participate in His building(rebuilding?) plans. Otherwise, all our “doing”(as wonderful as it maybe) is a “dead work”. It does not have the Life of God and will not redound to His glory.

INJUSTICE
In Nehemiah Chapter five, Nehemiah while inspiring the people to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem was confronted with another wall…the wall of injustice. The poor of His people were being neglected and being exploited by their civic leaders and by heartless businessmen.
“Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their fellow Jews. Some were saying, “We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.” Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.” Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our fellow Jews and though our children are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others”(Nehemiah 5:1-5 NIV).
Unfortunately, from history, we learn somethings never change. As found in Nehemiah’s time, it was the case of the powerless being exploited by the powerful. God knows the propensity of the rich and powerful to forget the marginalized and poor. He warned His people not to forget the poor, the widow, the orphan and the stranger(or “alien”) when they entered into their time of plenty”(Consider Leviticus 19:9-18; Deuteronomy 23:10-13; James 1:27). They were to remember that they were once such as these in the land of Egypt. The wise Solomon wrote, “Whoever mistreats the poor insults their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God”(Proverbs 14:31).
This was perhaps why Job, the riches man of the East could stand up under the trial of suffering and loss. His conscience was clear with no regrets. In his time of affluence he did not neglect to use his godly influence to help those less fortunate(See Job 31:16-21; James 5:10-11). God did not forget what Job had done and in the end, Job was both vindicated and rewarded.
NEHEMIAH’S REFORM
When Nehemiah heard of the abuse of power among the leaders of his people he did not remain passive or neutral. Moved with compassion, he took appropriate action. “When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry. I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, “You are charging your own people interest!” So I called together a large meeting to deal with them and said: “As far as possible, we have bought back our fellow Jews who were sold to the Gentiles. Now you are selling your own people, only for them to be sold back to us!” They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say. So I continued, “What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies? I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let us stop charging interest! Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the interest you are charging them—one percent of the money, grain, new wine and olive oil.” “We will give it back,” they said. “And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say.” Then I summoned the priests and made the nobles and officials take an oath to do what they had promised. I also shook out the folds of my robe and said, “In this way may God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise. So may such a person be shaken out and emptied!” At this the whole assembly said, “Amen,” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised”(Nehemiah 5:6-13 NIV).
NEHEMIAH’S LEAD
Nehemiah’s actions were rewarded by his people. The king’s “cupbearer” became the people’s “governor”. He became a leader worthy of the people’s trust and honor, serving as their governor for twelves years! (See Nehemiah 5:14-18).

Nehemiah’s compassionate leadership style is desperately needed today as our neighborhoods and Nation is facing more and more disparity between the “haves” and the “have nots”. The cry of the poor has come up to the ears of God. He will not long delay in answering them. The prophet Isaiah faces his people regarding the issue in his day, “Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 1:16-20 NIV)
Fortunately, in his day, Nehemiah was alert to the danger and responded with godly fear and compassion, averting disastrous consequences. He wrote in his prayer journal,”Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people”(Nehemiah 5:19 NIV).
Those who get involved in God’s work among the needy can be assured of God’s reward. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers”(Galatians 6:9, 10 NIV).

(c) Copyright 2014, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

BUILDING A SOLID HOME

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. (Matthew 7:24 NIV)

VISION & HOPE

The basis for solid neighborhoods is solid homes. The basis for solid homes is solid families. The basis for solid families is solid marriages. The basis for solid marriages is God.  With this vision a spiritual community should provide a safe environment, giving hope for healthy families as well as for homes needing “foundation” repair.  Coming together with like-minded Individuals of faith can often provide a healthy visionary model. Take Nehemiah for example.

Nehemiah was a man who agonized with a vision for his people to be rebuilt once again into a godly community. Recall that he held the position as the king’s trusted Cupbearer up until the time he received word of the condition of his people, in Jerusalem. ”The walls were broken down and the gates were burnt with fire”(Nehemiah 1).  

After much fasting and prayer, Nehemiah was given permission by the king to take some time off to restore the city of His people, Israel.

ASSESSING THE NEED

Once he arrived in the city, he went by night to survey the damage to the walls and gates. So too, repairing marriages can be quite similar. Until assessing the needs or locating the cause of a marriage breakdown…nothing changes. If not tended to, the problems only become worst. These “foundational cracks” may lead to the destruction of the whole marriage, usually because one party (or both) refuses to seek godly counsel and spiritual advice.  In times of trouble we should avail ourselves of biblical counsel and insight from those older and wiser than ourselves.  Find someone, like Nehemiah, who can help us see what we cannot see or most important…what does God want us to see? Many thoughts, ideas and advice may be somewhat helpful. But the ultimate arbitrator must be “wisdom and counsel that is from above”, which comes from God’s Word (James 3:17).

GOD’S DESIGN

The unique privilege of a man and woman coming together to make a home is recognizing God’s design and value for marriage. In the recorded account of Genesis Chapter Two, we discover: That the man (Adam) was created from the dirt. And the woman (Eve) was fashioned from Adam’s rib, near his heart and the place of his affections. The LORD God knew that she which came from Adam’s side would stand by him in both the good times and the “bad weather of life”(Brennan Manning). Tough times in married life is not a time to bale out.  Rather they are often allowed by God as a time to help you as a couple both to “lean into” and “lean upon” one another, in order to get through (or Work through) the difficult and even frustrating situations. Thus making Adam and “his rib” support stronger…Side by side.

HUMILITY

It requires humility to stay in the room and fight “together” against whatever is assaulting the marriage covenant until IT is disarmed and eliminated.  Please remember (Men), that (Adam) Man was first taken out of the dirt!  But  later, we observe that the Man was taken “out of” woman. Thus giving women their dignity and honor, pointing to our redemption (See Galatians 4:4-7).  The purpose of this order was to fulfill God’s promise to redeem mankind through woman (Genesis 3:15). This also would be a reminder to men not to “lord their headship” over their wife!  After all, if she is described as “The weaker vessel”(1 Peter 3:7).  It means (by implication) that makes him, ” The weak vessel”!  In humility, we must realize that BOTH are weak…the other is only the “weaker”.  This calls for mutual compassion and understanding as marriage partners.

GRAND DESIGN

“Therefore shall a man leave father & mother and be joined to his wife: and they two shall become one flesh”(Genesis 2:24).  This was a mystery the apostle Paul received regarding Christ and His Bride (Ephesians 5). The grand design of human marriage is a mere reflection of the most anticipated Wedding of history! (Revelation 19:7).

Christ will receive a Bride like unto Himself; holy, undefiled… spotless! She will not be inferior to her Lover. When Adam saw Eve he declared, “This is now bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh”(Genesis 2).  He recognized his wife, saying (In the Hebrew language) “Ishshah” meaning “woman”; acknowledging, “She IS what I am”.  With that revelation, he had what he had longed for.  With “she” who is part of “me”…I will build a solid home. Therefore, he understood, “What God has joined together no man was to pull apart.”

(c)Copyright 2014, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not altered in anyway from its original Content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

ARE YOU BEING PLUNDERED(Pt.4)

“Can plunder be taken from warriors, or captives be rescued from the fierce ? But this is what the Lord says: “Yes, captives will be taken from warriors, and plunder retrieved from the fierce; I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save”(Isaiah 49:24, 25 NIV).

An understanding of the purpose of the Lord Jesus’ entry into the earth(from Eternity into Time) is essential to being called overcomers. The apostle John wrote,”The Son of God was manifest to destroy the works of the devil”(1 John 3:8). Again, the writer to the Hebrew Believers wrote, ”Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is,the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death”(Hebrews 2:14-15 NIV). From the moment that Jesus came up out of the waters of baptism in the Jordan, He was fixed on His mission. When He fought the Tempter after forty days of hunger in the wilderness and got the victory, He was undoing the Fall of the Man(Adam) in the Garden. Further, His public ministry of Preaching, Teaching, Healing, Miracles, signs and wonders were all to announce and manifest His power and authority over the works of darkness. “If it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you…How can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house”(Matthew 12:28-29 NIV).

DEALING WITH THE STRONG MAN

Jesus teaches us both, what He came to do and how WE must enforce His victory over the strong man in our life’s circumstance. The strong man is real and has a war-strategy against your life and everything that would advance the kingdom of God here on the earth. You must learn to overcome his strategy against your life and future in God. You cannot make “a deal” with your enemy and hope that you will be “left alone”. Rise up! And deal with the spirit of passivity. Your enemy must be defeated through Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter explains that your enemy cannot be “reasoned with”. He is full of lies, cruel hatred, malice and deceit; seeking your destruction. Peter wrote,”Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith”(1 Peter 5:8, 9a NIV).

Three things you need to know when dealing with the strong man:

1- He guards His “House”. The enemy will not give back the plunder without a fight. He is bent on keeping what has been taken as his spoils of war. Therefore, he guards his house(kingdom) with great vigilance. He uses principalities, rulers of darkness and other governing powers to intimidate, blind and defend the ground gained over peoples, cities and regions. This is why we are commanded to “Put on the whole of armor of God”(Ephesians 6:10). We are in a spiritual battle and only spiritual weapons will pierce and overthrow demonic powers.

2- The strong man must be bound. Jesus, the One who is stronger than the strong man must be brought into the fight. If you have ever watched the wrestling matches where the guy in the ring seems to be getting beat to a pulp…You are sure he’s “down for the count”. Then suddenly! He somehow gets to the side of his ring and tags his partner to get in the ring against his opponent. Suddenly! The match turns and the opposing team is beat. The point being, we have a stronger one who can deal with any enemy in our life. Through humility and prayer we can “touch the One who has defeated the enemy” and He will help us prevail against our foe as well. Call on the Name of Jesus and you shall be delivered! At the Name of Jesus every knee will bow to the glory of God (See Philippians 2:9-11).

3- The plunder must be recovered. It is not enough that the enemy be bound. You must do like David when he and his men returned to Ziglag and discovered that the enemy had taken their wives and family. After getting into God’s presence (“Encouraging himself in the Lord”), he arose with new strength and determination to go after the enemy. Getting God’s strategy, “David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken…David brought everything back…’This is David’s plunder’”(See 1 Samuel 30). Friend, through Jesus Christ, you can plunder what the enemy has stolen from you as well. “If the thief is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house”(Proverbs 6:31).

 

© Copyright 2014,Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared without cost provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from it’s original content. Please address all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com