The job of a parent is not to make all decisions for their children, it is to raise them to make good decisions for themselves. Proverbs 22:6 says: Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Raising children is more about leading and less about dictating them. If we do a good job leading them, they will remember the right and good paths throughout their lives.
As we conclude the letter from Paul to the church in Philippi, Paul gives some final instructions in Philippians 4:8, Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. What Paul is saying is to focus on the good things and try not to think of the bad. What we put into our minds will ultimate control us. If we focus on the negative, we will be negative. If we focus on the positive, we will be positive. Paul tells us to program our minds with the positive focusing on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. If we fill our minds with these things, there will be no room for anything else.
While we have freedom in Christ, we still struggle with sin at times. Some people even struggle with lifelong addiction. And while our freedom in Christ may allow us to be free to do things that cause others to stumble, we should not do it out of love. In 1 Corinthians 8:13 Paul says, Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall. Protecting each other from sin is one of many ways we can love each other. While I may not struggle with a particular sin, I can protect my brothers and sisters by being mindful of how I can protect their hearts as well as mine.
All our hope and encouragement comes from God. In 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 Paul says to the Thessalonian believers, 16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. If we look to other people for our hope and strength, eventually they will let us down. But when we allow God to be our strength, He never lets us down.
James takes time today to talk about how powerful the tongue can be. He uses the rudder on a boat to illustrate the tongue’s potential affect. Though both the tongue and rudder are significantly small parts of a greater body, both can have a tremendous effect on where and how they leads. In Jame 3:5 it says, Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The illustration of what a small spark can do to an entire forest is powerful when you consider the potential behind seemingly insignificant words. Words can be used to build confidence and esteem, and words can be used to crush and cause pain. The tongue is the most powerful part of our bodies and we must treat it as such when it comes to impacting others.
The more we obey God and refuse to listen to those who reject and disobey Him, the happier we will be. Psalm 1:1 says, Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. Friends and colleagues can have a lot of influence over us. The big question is whether our friends build up our faith and encourage our relationship with God. True friends should help us draw closer to a relationship with God, not tear it down.
Surrounding yourself with people who challenge you and hold is accountable is one of the most valuable things you can do for your spiritual walk. Proverbs 27:17 says, As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Having people who are willing to encourage you through constructive challenge is the best ways a friend can help us grow.
We never know when someone needs a few simple words to help them keep going. Proverbs 11:25 says, A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. There are few things in life more satisfying than watching someone being lifted up by someone who believes in them. Let us all strive to be encouragers of each other.
Today we read the single chapter in the short book of Jude, which was written as a letter by the brother of Jesus and James. Jude writes this book as encouragement to other believer and to remind them to be vigilant in the faith and oppose heresy. The final doxology of the letter sums up everything Jude is trying to say: Jude 1:24-25 24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – 25 to the only God our Savior be the glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Today we read one of the strongest and most encouraging passages in the Bible; The Armor of God. In this passage, Paul gives us all the tools we need to do battle against the forces that are against us in this world. In Ephesians 6:13-18 Paul describes what the Armor of God looks like, 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.