Impressing the Faith On Children

When it was time to go in and take the Promised Land, Moses reminded God’s people of how they should live in order to enjoy God’s blessing. He reminded them of the agreement God had made with them, the covenant. He was to be their God and they were to be his people. He would give them his truth and they would live according to that truth.

God’s blessing was designed to last for generations. As a result, each generation of God’s people was responsible to make sure that their children and grandchildren knew about God’s ways. Moses reminded the people that they were to impress God’s words on their children (Deuteronomy 6:7). Moses was not talking to professional teachers but to parents and grandparents. Faith begins at home.

God’s people still have the great responsibility and the wonderful joy of impressing God’s truth on our children. It is pleasing to God and profitable to our kids to make sure that they know God’s Word. When we tell our children about God’s ways, we stir the fires of faith in our own lives, too.

Impressing God’s commands on our children is an ongoing task that must be done in our homes every day and in our church every week. The Christian faith is not merely information, but a way of life. Children must see the faith in the lives of their parents in order to understand and embrace Christianity.

As our culture becomes more hostile toward Bible-believing Christianity, parents who strive to pass on the faith to their children will be harshly criticized. The organizations and institutions in our society will put pressure on Christian parents in order to pull them and their children away from the Bible and from the local church. Schedule conflicts will abound.

In this new environment of aggressive secularism, sadly, many parents will compromise. They will try to balance the recreational, academic, and athletic pursuits of this age with their commitments to Christ and his kingdom work. Their children are watching and they understand the inconsistency of claiming Christ as Lord but setting up idols in his place.

Other families will see the temptations of this godless world for what they really are. They will be ready to make personal sacrifices for the faith, knowing that Jesus calls his followers to deny self, take up a cross, and follow him. These parents will model Christ for their children. They will impress upon their children the Christian faith.

May God’s Spirit empower us to keep the faith alive in our own hearts and in the hearts of our children,

Brother Richard Foster

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A Word From the Heart

“But Christ, honor him as Lord in your hearts, always ready with a defense to everyone asking you for a word concerning the hope in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

Peter wrote these words to Christians who were facing opposition and sometimes deadly hostility for their faith in Jesus Christ. He wrote in order to encourage his fellow believers in their struggle.

In this verse, Peter instructed his readers to do two things. First, he called on his fellow Christians to set apart Jesus as Lord in their hearts. Peter started with the heart, that is, the mind and the will. Why? Because Christians are Christians from the inside out. Until the heart changes, nothing else can. The essence of Christianity is to follow Jesus first, before anything or anyone else.

When Jesus is Lord of a person’s inner being, there will be a sense of hope in that individual which shines through. The hope of true faith cannot be hidden, even in difficult times. And nobody can deprive a true believer of the hope that he or she has in the risen Jesus Christ.

Peter knew that outsiders would notice the hope in Jesus’ followers. They noticed that Christians were blessed with a deep and abiding sense of optimism even in the darkest of times. Peter also knew that curiosity would drive some people to ask believers about their hope, opening up wonderful opportunities for sharing the faith.

So the second part of Peter’s instruction was to be ready with a defense. People may have thought that Christians were foolish for being so hopeful when they faced such opposition and persecution. But Jesus had faced the ultimate persecution, death, and he had experienced the ultimate victory, resurrection. How could his followers lose hope when their Lord had defeated death?

Peter wanted believers to be ready with a personal testimony, a testimony that was rooted in their own personal faith in Jesus Christ. He called it a defense. Believers were on trial in the Roman world and they were required to give a defense for their hope in Jesus.

Christians today are on trial in America. The faith is under fire. Only those who have Jesus set apart as Lord in their hearts will be able to give an effective defense for the hope that Jesus provides. And those who have Jesus set apart as Lord in their hearts will not be able to silence the Spirit of Christ within them. The hope and its defense are both signs of authentic saving faith.

The Bible’s instructions are as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago. The world is still in a state of rebellion against the Maker. God’s people are still chosen and empowered to speak the truth in love. A word from the heart is still compelling and powerful. Let’s make Jesus Lord in our hearts and get ready to fight the good fight of the faith.

May our hope in Christ Jesus inspire us to contend for the faith,

Brother Richard Foster

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Fight The Good Fight (Audio)

Click here to start the audio: Fight the Good Fight

Fight with me in prayer! This is an excellent message about fighting in prayer, learning to pray, and the power of prayer. From Ephesians 6:10-13.

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Dr. Richard Foster, Grace Baptist Church, Camden, AR

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Fight With Me!

Fight with me in prayer. That is what the Apostle Paul asked the church in Rome to do (Romans 15:30). It may seem strange to think of prayer as a battle, but the Bible assures us that Christians are caught in a firefight, and without prayer we will fall.

In Ephesians 6 we learn that our enemies in this age are not flesh and blood but spiritual: Satan and his evil troops. Our real battle is not political, economic or cultural. Our battle is spiritual.

In order to stand against the spiritual forces of evil in this age we must be diligent in using all the spiritual equipment which God has provided. Like a well-armed soldier, followers of Jesus can face the enemy with confidence, knowing that victory is assured.

The Apostle Paul was incarcerated and being guarded by a Roman soldier as he wrote about spiritual warfare to the believers in Ephesus. His description of God’s full armor is a great way to think about the spiritual weapons that God has given his people.

The belt of truth enables us to stand against Satan’s lies. The breastplate of righteousness makes us impervious to the accusations made against us by the Devil. Feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace keep us from being frozen by fear of our Enemy.

The shield of faith protects us from the deadly temptations that are fired at us in order to destroy us. The helmet of salvation gives us confidence to pursue heaven in a world that is trying desperately to ignore the danger of hell.

The sword of God’s Spirit is the word of God. The word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. No weapon can withstand God’s word.

When Jesus was tempted by Satan he wielded the sword of the Spirit, applying Scripture in order to push the Enemy back in defeat. The Bible gives us great power in our battle against the evil forces in this world.

After instructing his readers to adorn the full armor of God, the apostle directed them to pray with passion and perseverance. The battle is won in prayer. Prayer enables us to stand in the mighty power of God, which is greater than any enemy we might face.

Jesus fought the good fight of faith on the cross at Calvary and displayed astounding power by walking away from his tomb in triumph. But first he prayed with great passion and perseverance in Gethsemane. His sweat was like blood dropping to the ground, yet he prayed on. When his prayer was finished the victory was assured.

Paul finished his instruction in Ephesians 6 by asking for prayer that he would proclaim the gospel with boldness. Despite being chained to a Roman soldier like a common criminal, he realized that his true identity was ambassador for Christ.

We, too, are called to be ambassadors for Christ. Let’s fight together in prayer. Pray for God’s people. No weapon forged against us will prevail.

May we stand strong for Christ in his power and for his glory,

Brother Richard Foster

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What Are We Doing?

God did not save us so that we can do whatever we want. God saved us so that we can do whatever he wants. When we were doing whatever we wanted, we were doomed. But God graciously called us to salvation so that we would escape the disaster of doing whatever we want.

Salvation is more than going to heaven when we die. To be saved is to be serving God now. God’s forgiveness is not a spiritual safety suit that protects us from disaster while we go on ignoring the Lord and his kingdom. Nobody should fool himself into thinking that he has a mansion on a hill in eternity while caring little or nothing for the Master’s work now.

Jesus was very plain and outspoken about the signs of salvation in a person’s life. “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit,” he said, “nor can a bad tree produce good fruit” (Matthew 7:18). In other words, saved people act saved and those who do not act saved are lost.

Jesus also said, “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of the heavens, but only the one doing the will of my Father in the heavens” (Matthew 7:21). Words without works are worthless.

The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians, “With Christ I am crucified, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live now in the flesh, by faith I live through the Son of God, the one loving me and giving himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). As followers of Jesus, we have left behind our old lives.

Baptism is a wonderful picture of this great spiritual truth. Jesus’ followers are buried with Christ through baptism, representing the death of our former way of life, when we did whatever we wanted. We are raised to live a new life, the life of doing what God wants, participating in his kingdom (see Romans 6).

By faith in Jesus, God gives us a new life that changes even more than our actions. God’s indwelling Spirit also changes our desires. As a result, followers of Jesus begin to want to do what God wants. The desire for the old things fades away in the lives of those who are really saved.

In the Psalms God promises, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). Seeking and following God is a life-changing activity. Godly desires are born and nurtured in the hearts of God’s people. We no longer find true joy or satisfaction in the old ways of the world, but we discover a passion for obeying God and contributing to his great kingdom work.

When we are truly saved, we share in the resurrection of Jesus, not just because we will someday be raised to live in his Presence forever, but because we live in his resurrection power every day, doing things that are pleasing to God.

As we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus this Easter, let’s rejoice not just in the fact that Jesus was raised in the past and that we will be raised in the future. Let’s rejoice in the fact that we have been raised to walk in newness of life now. Because he lives, we can face today!

May the power of the Risen Christ keep on changing us,

Brother Richard Foster

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Our Promise for Eternity

Jesus went to many of the same places that we go to in life. He attended at least one wedding, went to many worship services, accepted dinner invitations, visited at friends’ homes, and also showed up at some funerals. Marvelous things often happened when Jesus went to these events. Water turned to wine at the wedding. Demons were cast out of people at worship services. Arrogant rulers were humbled at dinner parties. Physically ill folks were healed at friends’ houses.

Nobody could ever forget what happened when Jesus appeared at funerals. One time a little girl had died and the house was full of mourners wailing and crying (Mark 5). Her parents were devastated at the loss. Jesus went into the room where the dead girl’s body had been placed. He gently took her hand and spoke to her. “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” And she did.

Another time Jesus and his followers came to a town where they were having a funeral (Luke 7). A widow had lost her only son. A large crowd from town was with her, carrying his body out for burial. Jesus’ heart went out to the woman. “Don’t cry,” he told her. He touched the coffin and spoke, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” He sat up and began to talk, no longer dead.

Perhaps Jesus’ most dramatic and memorable funeral appearance was when Lazarus died (John 11). Lazarus and his sisters were friends of Jesus. When he arrived they had already buried Lazarus but his sisters and many of their friends were still mourning. The sisters, Mary and Martha, each told Jesus that if he had come sooner, their brother would be alive. After hearing this the second time, Jesus wept. But he went on to the tomb where they had buried Lazarus and after praying he cried out to the dead man, “Lazarus, come out!” And he did.

Jesus told Martha, Lazarus’ sister, that he is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). On another occasion he said that he had God’s power and authority to lay down his own life for God’s people and then to take it up again (John 10:17-18). He also said that a day is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out (John 5:28). Some will rise up to a resurrection of life, others to a resurrection of judgment.

Jesus is the resurrected Lord who is the source of resurrection power for all his people. This great truth is our promise for eternity. We can face living and dying with confidence because Jesus is our resurrection and our life. The proof is his own resurrection, the foundation of our faith. We remember Jesus’ resurrection power always, but we turn our hearts and minds toward his empty tomb in a special way each Easter. Let us prepare our hearts to do so once again.

May God’s Spirit fill us with the power and the joy of Christ’s resurrection,

Brother Richard Foster

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Agreeing with the Pope, sort of . . . (short version)

The new Pope is enjoying surprising popularity with the media in the United States. Apparently journalists see in him a reformer willing to challenge traditional conservative positions on social and economic issues.

Pope Francis is giving the secular media a vehicle for defining the mission of the Church in ways that agree with their political predispositions. Of course, Roman Catholicism and The Church are not the same. Nevertheless, the question is raised: Is social reform the main mission of Christianity?

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul describes the mission of the Church. “We proclaim Christ,” he wrote (Colossians 1:28). The heart and soul of the Early Church’s work was a proclamation, an authoritative announcement.

The Church’s proclamation was not merely disseminating certain information, or promoting a philosophy, or even advancing a system of belief. The gospel proclamation is an announcement about a person: Jesus, who is the Christ.

The title “Christ,” reminds us that Jesus is God’s Anointed. The Church’s mission today, like that of the Early Church, is centered on proclamation. That proclamation is to be focused on Jesus Christ, his life and ministry.

Paul proclaimed Christ by “warning everyone.” The presence of God’s Son in the world was a warning about how terribly broken our world really is, so broken that we need nothing less than God’s personal intervention.

The problem in our world is more than hateful and oppressive relations between different groups of people. The root problem is a broken relationship between every person and God.

Next, Paul writes, “and teaching everyone with all wisdom.” The message of Christ comes not just as a warning about sin, death and eternal condemnation because Christ is the hope of glory. The proclamation of Christ includes teaching about the Good News that personal faith in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection opens access to God and to a new life in Christ.

Paul finished his thought by revealing the purpose for proclaiming Christ. “We proclaim Christ,” he wrote, “so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” The ultimate goal is not temporal or political. The ultimate goal is to present people “mature in Christ” to God on the Day of Judgment.

The Bible assures us that believers will give an account of their life’s work before the bema seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). The crowns we will present to our Lord on that day will be the lives of people whom we helped to grow in Christ (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20).

What about the Pope’s reform? One sign of authentic gospel ministry is genuine concern for the poor, the poor in spirit as well as the poor in money and power.

Jesus, Paul, and the Early Church all made efforts to alleviate suffering and injustice, but they focused primarily on proclaiming a message that encompassed far more than political and economic equality.

Does Pope Francis see social reform as the primary focus of Roman Catholicism? Time and patience will reveal his beliefs with greater clarity than Western journalists who can barely conceal their own political agendas.

Meanwhile, the Church must not be distracted from the true gospel mission; and the gospel mission is clearly revealed in the pages of the New Testament. Jesus proclaimed freedom for the captives, not just those held captive by unfair political and economic systems, but captive to sin and to Satan.

The Church must remember that any justice gained for the downtrodden is illusory apart from true spiritual freedom. And only Christ Jesus can break all the chains that bind us. So we proclaim Christ.

Richard Foster, Grace Baptist Camden, Arkansas, March 2014
Published in Arkansas Baptist News, March 18, 2014

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