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Julie Long

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  • “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1 KJV)

    God used visions and dreams in the Bible to reveal His plan, to further His plan, to put His people in places of influence, and to provide information that was unavailable elsewhere. In fact, the Book of Acts tells us that the Holy Spirit induces dreams.  Acts 2:17-18 describes entire households who prophesy, see visions and dream.

    Our families were designed to dream! Taking time to evaluate, plan and develop a vision for our family will help us prioritize so we can design our home with purpose.

    What do we want to be focused on right now as a family? What do we want to do in the future? What legacy do we want to continue and leave behind?

    The Bible is filled with principles like these that provide us with a blueprint for designing our dream home:

    • Designed to Surrender.

      God is the Master Architect of the family. In our homes, Jesus Christ must not only be present, but He must be preeminent. We want our children to understand that God is the greatest reality of life, not just in church on Sunday, but that we value His presence and His purpose every day, in every way (Deuteronomy 6:5).

    As a family, explore ways to invest the talent and treasure God has entrusted to you – volunteering; going on a missions trip; sponsoring a project; or developing your skills to honor God.
    • Designed to Support.

      God commands us to build our homes on Godly character and sound doctrine (Proverbs 4:1–2, Deuteronomy 6:4-9)The Bible instructs parents concerning children that we are to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Spiritual nurturing maintains the environment where our children learn to understand the ways and the Word of God. This is how “the Lord builds the house.”

    What special qualities or talents do you see in your children that you want to nurture? Are there some character traits you would like to see your children develop or strengthen?  What needs do you see in your children’s behavior, faith, or education that you can help cultivate?
    • Designed to Serve.

      Families were designed to represent Jesus Christ. The Bible says, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 KJV).

    When God gives us a dream for our family, it will always be connected to His master plan – the building of His family “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9 AMP). God will not give us a self-serving dream separate from what He wants to do in the world. His plan is to use our family for His dream!

    Does your family have a vision that will affect the present AND the eternal? Are you teaching your children that they have a God-ordained destiny (Jeremiah 29:11)? Are you adding fuel to their dreams or snuffing them out (Genesis 37:10)?

    Ask God to give you His vision for your family so that you can be part of the most important dream of all.  Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3 KJV). This is our ultimate dream home “whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10)!

    Reposted with permission from Reflections.

    A little girl was invited for dinner at the home of her first-grade friend. The vegetable was buttered broccoli and the mother asked if she liked it. “Oh, yes,” the child replied politely, “I love it!”

    But when the bowl of broccoli was passed, she declined to take any. The hostess said, “I thought you said you loved broccoli.” The girl replied sweetly, “Oh, yes ma’am, I do, but not enough to eat it!”

    Do you love others? “Of course I do!” We all would say that! It’s the only right answer. But what do you mean by love? So often we love like that little girl loved broccoli: We love in the abstract, but when it comes right down to it, we don’t want to get too close.

    The Apostle Paul’s famous chapter on love, 1 Corinthians 13, tells us what biblical love looks like. Paul makes the point that the use of their God-given gifts would amount to nothing if the Corinthians did not make selfless love their priority.

    In addition to cultivating our relationship with Jesus Christ and serving the people He has placed in our life (husband, children, family members, friends), we have also been commissioned to sacrificial love for people we’ve never met in places we’ve never been. This is not a special call for certain Christians. It’s the result of being like Jesus.  This is what Jesus does.  This is what love looks like.

    Listen to how He described the ministry He was sent to do: “…He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; (Luke 4:18 NKJV).  And then He tells us,As the Father has sent Me, I also send you. (John 20:21 NKJV).

    The only way to achieve this kind of love is to serve.  Because the truth is, we will serve somebody.  Either we serve others with grace, or we serve others with a grudge – or we can serve ourselves and love will wither. The greatest love is rooted in service to others.  Love is a verb that does!

    Hudson Taylor once made a statement that stirs my heart:

    “It will not do to say that you have no special call to go [to the mission field]. With the command of the Lord Jesus to go and preach the gospel to every creature, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home.”

    While God may not ask you to live in a foreign country, all of us are called to adopt a missionary heart no matter where God has placed us.  Ask Him to show you where and how to start being His hands and feet. Though the need around the world is staggering, He often wants to cultivate sacrificial love within us by starting with one person.  Right here.  Right now.

    Allow God to stretch you beyond what is comfortable and easy. We lead full lives and may feel we don’t have much time or energy available to serve others. But we must remember that what God calls us to do, He equips us to do.

     

    TAKE THE NEXT STEP

    Do you find it difficult to find the time and opportunity to obey the command to love your neighbor?  Don’t forget that kids have a great ability to break down people’s defenses and to open lines of communication. Here are a few ways that children can help us know and love our neighbors in the middle of busy days:

    • Starting Conversations. It’s easier to start a conversation with someone at a community event if our kids are playing together. I’ve also found many people start conversations with me when my kids are with me, simply asking how old they are and where they go to school.
    • Meeting New Neighbors. While anyone can bake cookies and knock on a neighbor’s door to say “welcome,” there’s something about having a child with you that makes this less intimidating.
    • Spending Time Together. If you meet neighbors with kids the same age, it’s easy to make plans to get together at a park, to go on a walk together, or have a playdate at one of your houses.

    “And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedience to him. Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done. Don’t let anyone lead you astray with empty philosophy and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the evil powers of this world, and not from Christ.” (Colossians 2:6-8 NLT)

    My mother was a wonderful seamstress.  Although I was not blessed with her talent, I have learned from her skill. Mom was always a stickler for following the pattern. In order to get a pleasing result, she would carefully lay out the pattern and cut the fabric to the precise specifications. I am reminded today that the pattern of my faith that I example to my children and others must be based on God’s Word. If my Christian experience is not rooted in the Scriptures, I will not only endanger my own spiritual life but my children and others may be drawn away from the truth.

    Prayer: Precious Savior, thank You for the pattern of Your Word that I can follow to eternal life. Help me to stay grounded in Your Word. Remind me each and every day to point my children to a relationship with You by spending time together in Your Word. Amen.