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FOCUS ON FAMILY

FOCUS ON FAMILY

Written by Elishah McDonald

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Romans 12:12
 

In the verse above it says to “rejoice in hope” and “be patient in tribulation.”  It’s saying to be excited and ecstatic when goods things come our way, but when we are hurting or suffering we need to wait we need to be calm, and we need to be patient.   

 

We need to let God work.  He does not forget about you and He will never leave us, I can promise you that.


Loving your family and leading them in their faith and their relationship with Jesus is so important! Whether you are a husband, wife, mom, dad, sibling, or even grandma or grandpa, you can all help lead in some sort of way.

 

If you’re married pray for one another or ask to pray with them. For you older siblings, you can lead by example to the little ones. No matter how much of a pain they may be, they think of you as their own personal hero in their life, so they will listen and follow every step you take.

 

Let’s pray.

Dear Jesus, please help lead my family in their journey with Christ...

FOCUS ON FAMILY

FOCUS ON FAMILY

Written by Anthony and Lindsey Noles

 

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  James 1:5

 

James was known as “camel knees” because his knees were so tough from kneeling in prayer. #PrayerGoals. We should take advice from James in how we pray, and in many of our situations, how we pray for our families.

 

The first thing that James addresses here is humility, but in a funny way. “IF any of you lacks wisdom”? Ha! If marriage and parenthood has taught us anything so far, it’s that we most definitely lack wisdom. We do stupid things, say hurtful things, and prioritize unimportant things, so this part seems like a heart check. “You know you don’t know everything, right? Ok good.”

 

Then, “you should ask God.” Seems simple enough, but in how many OTHER places do we first try to find wisdom, love, security, etc.? You should ask God.

 

“Who gives to all without finding fault.” This is not credit-based giving. Stop trying to earn it. He doesn’t wait for you to _____ or to stop _____ before He’s willing to shower gifts on you. Our proof of this is Jesus!

 

“AND IT WILL BE GIVEN TO YOU.” You guys, we have a God who follows through. We are broken and terrible at follow through, but that’s not God. No prayer goes unheard, no desire is simply ignored. We need to trust that God is who He says He is, and that He loves us as much as He says He does.

 

In any family relationship, (in our season, marriage and parenting are the biggies, but this applies to any relationship) our supply of patience, forgiveness, strength, and frankly, love, runs out quickly when we try to do it on our own. God invites us to lean into Him in prayer so that He can be our Source of all of those things. We need to pray for His wisdom to be firm in knowing who we are in Christ even when our families see us at our weakest and worst, and we need to pray for His wisdom to serve and love them even when they are at their weakest and worst. We need to pray for His wisdom to give up control to Him, whatever that might mean at the moment. We need to pray for wisdom to be able and willing to show our spouses and kids what following Jesus looks like.

 

In what relationship do I need to ask God for His wisdom?

 

How do I pray? Do I pray as if I believe I am a beloved child of the King? Do I pray as if I actually believe He will answer?

 

Father, we pray for Your wisdom in our families. Please give us wisdom in how to spend time with them, in our words and actions toward them, to forgive and to ask forgiveness, in finances, in the everyday grind. Please give us wisdom on how to be Your people, not just at church but at home.

 

FOCUS ON FAMILY

FOCUS ON FAMILY

Written by Austin Barngrover

 

You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:2-3 NIV

 

In these verses we see James writing to servants of God who were being persecuted for their faith, and he was reminding them how to live out their Christian faith. 

 

We, as disciples of God, communicate with our Father through the power of prayer. But sometimes we tend to ask God for our wants and needs instead of the needs of God. So, when we don't get the answer we want we get frustrated and mad at God. Instead of praying in such a selfish way, we need to pray for whatever advances God's kingdom and Christ's Glory. Too many times our prayers involve the word, "me," but you can never say the Lord's Prayer and only use the words I, My, or Me. 

 

We need to realize, as children of God, that our entire purpose here on Earth is to serve God for His plan.  One way we can do that is by praying for our loved ones, whether your friends or family. If they need something it's your job to pray for them. If someone is sick or in a bad situation, pray about it and ask God to put His hand on that situation.  Again, "You do not have because you do not ask God." Friends and family are extremely important in our lives as we depend on each other.

 

God is the source of all our blessings. We have a great Father who listens to our prayers. God hears the cry of His people. Whenever we call on Him and from whatever situation, we know He is listening and He will answer. We know there is everlasting love and forgiveness. We have a good Father who has a plan and who guides us. 

 

Dear Lord, we are so grateful for Your love and Grace each and every day. Lord, forgive us when we are selfish and we don't put Your glory first. Lord, be with us when we are praying for friends and family. Let us be more like You and be with us as we continue our journey and the plan You have for us. 

FOCUS ON FAMILY

FOCUS ON FAMILY

Written by Rod and Dee Mohr

 

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4 (NIV)

Seek your happiness in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desire.  Psalm 37:4 (GNB)

 

As parents, we get great joy in seeing our kids become happy and successful in all they do.  As they grow up, we spend a lot of our own personal time and money on things we think will make them happy.  It doesn’t matter how hard we try to help them find happiness because sometimes being happy is still a major struggle for them.  And when they struggle to find happiness, so do we.  Part of the struggle could be that we just need to find a different currency to measure happiness with.

 

When we read a verse like Psalm 37:4, we might be tempted to mentally substitute the word “happiness” for the words “delight” and “desire”, which are key words in the verse, but what if that’s not exactly what David meant here?  What if instead, he meant to direct our thoughts to the action word “love” when we study the verse?  Consider this:  to delight in someone is to “experience great pleasure and joy” whenever we are with them.  To experience these emotions with people, we obviously have to know them very well, and they in turn have to know us just the same.  We have to know their heart before we can find comfort in them.  To be able to do this, we must spend a lot of time with someone before we can get to the point where we can “take delight” in them. 

 

To “Take delight in the Lord” means we are going to have to make a commitment to Him.  First and foremost, we have to fully trust Jesus with our salvation.  To be close to our Heavenly Father, we have to know first just how much He loves us and to what lengths He’s willing to go to have a relationship with us.  We delight in God by knowing Him more intimately so that we have a better understanding of His love for us.  This is the only way to be sure that our desires are in line with God’s.  So, in essence, David is telling us that if we know God’s love well, our hearts will be in line with His and in turn, so will our heart’s desire.  Delight can certainly relate to happiness if we are seeking happiness in the right place.

 

Here are some things to think about as you pray for your kids, keeping in mind how your own personal relationship with God might affect theirs:

1.     Do I fully trust that Jesus died for me?

2.     Do I know God well and spend time with him regularly?

3.     Do I consistently display God’s love and grace for my kids in all circumstances?

4.     Do I feed my child’s personal relationship with our Heavenly Father, or do I spend more time feeding their earthly desires because it’s much easier to do?

5.     Do I ask for God’s guidance as I lead my children?

FOCUS ON FAMILY

FOCUS ON FAMILY

Written by Jackie Davis

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-8

 

I come from a long line of strong West Virginia women who are competent and faith-filled, who see all of life as a grand story that God is weaving. You will never meet women with more courage, strength, and inner determination to face what life gives them. But, they are also classic worriers. They can literally make up things to worry about. That is my legacy.

 

These verses mean the world to me, not because I am always filled with the peace of Christ and never worry, but because I have struggled countless times. With His continued patience and grace, however, He is breaking the cycle of worry in my life and I am leaving a new legacy for my family. What have I learned?

 

First, in EVERY situation and with every reason to worry, I need to bring it to Him. He promises HIS peace only AFTER I come to Him in prayer. And, here's the hardest part: I need to do it with thanksgiving. Why be thankful? Because, every situation I find myself in can help me grow in my walk with Christ...every single one. And, boy, has that ever been true. I could write a book about His faithfulness in growing me! Besides, thankfulness trains me away from worry.

 

Second, one of the best ways I can love my family is to let them SEE me take my worries to God in prayer. Personally, I need the fresh inspiration of God's Spirit to fill my mind and heart and lift me to new places of grace instead of wallowing in my own troubled thoughts. My family is a sacred trust; they have been given to me for eternal purposes. Being an example of prayer and trust instead of worry is one way I can point them to Christ.

 

Finally, I have come to expect the peace that He promises if I go to Him first. Sometimes, God gives me peace about a situation that is unexplainable. This summer, I had a significant health scare with many medical tests, several procedures, two hospitalizations, and a surgery. Throughout the whole ordeal, God's peace surrounded me like a warm blanket. I didn't worry one time! God's grace was present in a way that defied explanation. He promised that peace and He delivered.

 

Have I graduated from the School of Worry? Probably not. But, the older I get, the more that hindsight allows me to see His presence, His comfort, and His provision through all of the worries of my life. He shows up every time! I pass on this legacy of faith by talking about these stories of provision and care. I believe my prayers will outlive me. They may find their answers years after my own life on earth is done. In the meantime, I will keep walking in the promise of Phil. 4:6-8.

 

PRAYER: Dear Lord, in Matthew 14, I read about how Peter took his eyes off of You while walking on the water and started to sink because he was worried and distracted. I have walked in his footsteps, but not on water. Even though You tell me not to worry about tomorrow and what it brings, sometimes that is very difficult for me to do—as a parent. But, You were right there for Peter and You are right there for me, too. Thank You that I can come to You with my worries. You have everything my family and I need in Your hands. But we need You most of all. I pray with all my heart that my children see this, that they will learn to bring it all to You and know the peace that You give, Lord Jesus. You are my peace, dear Lord, and I pray that You will be my children's as well. In Your holy and precious name I pray, Amen."

FOCUS ON FAMILY

FOCUS ON FAMILY

Written by Alva, Amanda, and Jocelynn Catt

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

God tells us in these verses to rejoice, pray, and give thanks. He doesn’t say give thanks when things go our way. He tells us to give thanks in ALL things. It isn’t always easy to be thankful in the hard times or depressing times, but those are the times that we need to remember & meditate on His Word even more. Our faith doesn’t take our problems away, it gives us the capabilities to manage our problems.

When we take all three of these and put them together, it is praising the Lord. We should praise in all seasons of our lives. We’ve had a season in our life when it was extremely hard to praise Him in all circumstances. After our motorcycle accident we lost a lot; our house, our jobs, our lives as we knew them. We couldn’t care for ourselves let alone a 3 year-old. What was God doing, how could we praise Him in this time, when we didn’t even know how we were going to live?

We are here to tell you it is not easy, but it is possible. We found many ways to praise Him. We are still alive for our child, we were blessed with so many family & friends, we were blessed with wonderful doctors who knew just how to care for us. There are so many things we were thankful for, we could go on forever. 

But, one major thing was the fact that we had lost our jobs. We couldn’t work, how were we going to live with NO income? Boy, were we ever put in our place by the Lord. We weren’t the ones taking care of it, the Lord was. He had family and loved ones there for us. As family (church family included), they were there to pray for us and care for us. God always had a plan. Just when I thought there was no way this was going to work out, or that bill wasn’t going to get paid, He took care of it. We rejoiced in our times of trouble for what we did have. Our loved ones prayed with us CONTINUALLY. We all also gave thanks for the blessings He gave us.

We have to remember that even when we don’t see the end, He does. He has a much bigger plan that we could ever dream! It is important to remember that He doesn’t want us to be alone. We have others who are there for us to pray, to help, to love on us. We just have to allow them in.

Thank you, Lord for blessing us with the family You have put around us. May we see each other through Your eyes so that we can love deeper, respect more, and do so with unwavering mercy.

 

FOCUS ON FAMILY

FOCUS ON FAMILY

Written by Nancy Blackford

Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord."  And You forgave the guilt of my sin.  Therefore let all the faithful pray to You while You may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them.  You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.  Psalm 32:5-7

I have been trying to memorize 1 Peter 3:10-12.  The message in this verse is the same as in Psalm 32:5-7 when David was writing about God’s forgiveness of his adulterous affair.  They both speak of keeping ourselves from evil and resting in the Lord.  Rest comes after exertion.  David rested after he confessed to the Lord.  Not that God didn’t know exactly what was happening and what was in David’s heart, but that David acknowledged what God already knew.  You get the sense David felt a huge flood of forgiveness and release following a very frank and probably graphic confession.

I think the corner of God’s mouth goes up when we confess in a very real way, “God, when she gave her ‘expert opinion’ again in small group, my comment was not to dispense Godly wisdom but to shut her up!”  That is a much better way to ask for forgiveness than sugar coating our actions or intentions. 

After David made his confession, he prayed for himself and God’s people to remain faithful and lean in on God’s protection and deliverance.  David found peace.  Bathsheba’s husband had been very devoted to David and followed his orders impeccably.  David took advantage of this by basically ordering his execution, ensuring nobody found out about his nights with Bathsheba and his longing to remain untarnished.  He even imagined how good he would look if he wed the widow and raised her son as his own. 

Once exposed by Nathan the prophet, David had to be the ridicule of the kingdom.  Satan knew God had a plan through David (even if he did not fully grasp what it was) and tried to see David destroyed by his own actions.  During the remainder of his reign, I imagine many people put less importance on his “spiritual instruction” as king.  Yet David had peace. 

One of the greatest ways we can participate in spiritual warfare is by confessing what we know is not pleasing to God, and then consistently standing under God’s wings and abiding in His love, direction and protection. That is it.  That is what David did.  He didn’t fight for his reputation, he didn’t devise a way to punish himself or make plans to do spectacular Godly things from then on out.  He just rested. We don’t have to fight.  The biggest way we can resist the destruction Satan craves for us is to just rest.  Memorize this:  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.  Exodus 14:14.

Family Application:  Standing firm and being still in the way you manage yourself and your family means you don’t clutter life with things that don’t matter.  Make it a practice to clear your conscious towards God and ask for His direction and guidance so that your spouse and family can depend on your steady faith.  You can live then in total freedom, no longer plagued by guilt, comparisons or compromises.   

Dear God, teach me to live my life in such a way that I reflect my total hope in You to my spouse and children.  Let them see my strength and peace in all things, which comes from leaning in and resting on You.  Let this be my defining characteristic.

FOCUS ON FAMILY

FOCUS ON FAMILY

Written by Vince, Christina, Isabella, and Abigail Bradburn

“Daddy, why are they talking about Halloween?”

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name.  Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 
Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.  
Matthew 6:9-13

When the girls were toddlers we needed a bedtime routine for our sanity!  So, we followed the exact same routine every single night. We would start with bath time, followed by saying goodnight to every single stuffed animal in the room and we would end with reading a simple and cheap (they did still like to eat books!) illustrated version of the Lord’s Prayer. At first, like any other story, they were focused on the pictures.  Abby would often point out the bread (she loved to eat) and Bella made sure we didn’t skip any pages because the pictures had to come in order or the world didn’t make sense!  Innocent questions like “Daddy, why are they talking about Halloween?” from our three-year old referring to “hallowed be” in the Lord’s Prayer, provide insight into the great responsibility we have as parents to explain how and why we pray to our God.

Something we’ve learned as parents is that it’s ok for God to be a wonderful mystery.  It’s also ok that our children are simply memorizing big words within verses for application later in their prayers.  The most important task we have as parents is to make prayer as common as brushing teeth and bath time; to make it less mysterious and formal and more like the daily hugs and kisses we give them.    

Even a prayer as formal as the Lord’s Prayer can carry meaning for our kids.  Each stage of development can add a layer of meaning. At three years old, “hallowed” meant “special”, at ten years old, it now means “holy”.  The village of adults who we have around us teaching our children about God have made this growth possible.  We’ve also learned that we can’t do it by ourselves.  We’ve come to value and appreciate the shared role that we and our church family have in helping our kids talk with their God.  

As a family, pray the Lord’s Prayer together several times in a row.  Each time, encourage a family member to use the words that make the most sense to them in the prayer – the ones that will carry the most meaning.  “Give us our daily bread” can be “Give us what we need today.” Meaningful prayers with children start with allowing them to pray to their God in their own words.  Just make sure you explain that it’s “hallowed be” and not “Halloween”!

FOCUS ON FAMILY

FOCUS ON FAMILY

Written by Hannah Elliott

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

The Greek word “parrēsias” (Pair-Ah-sea-Ah) means an overwhelming confidence in something. In our verse, we see it used. In this context, we see it as an overwhelming confidence in our God. We are told to approach God with parrēsias always, so that when we are in a time of need we will find peace and grace easily.

Prayer. It is scary and overwhelming. But it is also peace and confidence.

We need to confidently reach out to God in prayer, asking Him to guide us in our lives. Our lives can consist of some of the simplest or the most complex things. A complex thing such as family can be hard to pray for. What do I even pray for? Who do I pray for in my family?  And so many other questions…

These are all good and acceptable questions. It isn't easy to pray for your family on your own. In the questions you ask, the main word is I. We focus on what we need, and not what God’s plan is. 

My favorite prayer to God is, "God, let me see what You see. Let me see what people are to You, who they are to You. Father, let me hear what You hear. Let me hear the cries of help You do. Let me hear people the way You do."

It is a simple, but extraordinary prayer. God will take action in your life. You will see and hear what God wants. You will be overtaken in the love God has. You will know who to pray for. It will become natural to you- God will give you the words to say.

Just approach God with parrēsias in prayer. Hop on in. You'll experience another love like no other.

“Hello, my Heavenly Father. I'm so thankful for Your love. I'm so thankful Your son died for me so that in parrēsias I can approach You at Your throne and receive Your grace and mercy to do right by my family. I pray for Your guidance. I ask that You give me Your eyes to see and Your ears to hear. Show me what I need to work on in my family. I love You so much, Thank You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”