In this day and time when human life is increasingly devalued and the wickedness of mankind’s hearts grow likewise, I am thankful more now than ever for the promise of protection. The psalmist’s confession that the Lord is his refuge and fortress, his God in whom he trusts (Psalm 91:2) is my declaration as well. I’ve taken to praying it over each member of my family, the males in particular.
I’m also reminded to put no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3) that means in no individual, including ourselves, or systems created by people. Who should we fully trust in, even for protection? Jesus Christ. Psalm 121 is another of my favorites. I’ve shared it with my kids often, usually when they spoke of seeing monsters in their room at night. This psalm reassures us the Lord is always watching us with a protective eye. He’s not off in the distance observing us. He actively guards us, day and night in our comings and goings; protecting us from evil.
If you are reading this and have not received the gift of salvation and abundant life in the Lord Jesus Christ (whose birth is the real reason for Christmas), would you receive Him now? He made it as “easy” as believing in your heart and saying with your mouth that Jesus paid your debt with His life and you trust Him to lead yours (John 3:16, Romans 10:8-11, Ephesians 2:8, Hebrews 10:10, 12). He loves you more than anyone you know and He went “all in” to prove it. He is the gift who “keeps on giving” and NO ONE who puts their trust in Him will ever be put to shame!
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3: 5, 6
Recently I looked at a ministry resource given to my daughter and was taken aback. It was a “children’s translation” or “interpretation” of Philippians 2:5, 7. It read as follows: “In your lives you must think and act like Jesus. He gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born to be a man and became like a servant.”
I’m sure the translator meant well. While it is true that as we continue to look to Christ and His finished work we become like Him by His Spirit, it’s certainly not something we accomplish in our own effort. Furthermore, the full context of the verses is an admonition to consider others before ourselves. It speaks to seeing things from Christ’s perspective. None of us had a place with God to give up. We were already nothing therefore needing Jesus to serve as the perfect sacrifice. It’s not a model to mimic. It’s a wonder to savor. Anything about us resembling Christ is purely by grace, not by our works.
After I read the handout, I folded it and put it on her dresser, moving to tuck her into bed. She noticed and asked why I folded it and what it said. (She knows me well enough to know the next stop for that piece of paper was the garbage can!) After a couple of questions, I realized she didn’t know what the handout said. It was merely given to her as a coloring sheet. So I read it to her, all the while asking the Lord to help me respond. Then I shared what He gave me: ‘God wants us to receive His love and trust Him. Trust that as He works in us we’ll begin thinking like Him and doing things reminiscent of Him. It’s about trust, not must.’ I looked at her waiting for her response. Did she understand? She cocked her head to the side and said, “Oh, okay.” Kids!
Two things came to mind as I closed her bedroom door behind me. One, as parents, my husband and I have primary spiritual influence over our children. It’s an honor we can’t abdicate to anyone else. Second, training up children to follow Jesus is a humble position. They don’t need our opinion; they need to know what their loving Lord says. My best bet is to open my mouth and let Him fill it.
2 Corinthians 3: 18
Philippians 2: 1-7