Focus on the Family

Strengthen Your Child's Faith With Scripture

by Gary Smalley

Jesus opened His mouth and spoke the greatest, most wonderful words ever uttered to a crowd on a hillside some 2,000 years ago. He told them that if they would listen carefully to His words, understand them, instill them within their hearts and live them, they would experience the very best, highest quality life possible while living on this earth. Isn't that what we want for ourselves and for our children?

He told them that if they applied His commands, they could ask God for anything and they'd have it. It's a list of Jesus' promises for the abundant life to the people who write His commands upon their hearts. Not one of His commands is burdensome, but all of them give an amazing life to anyone who wants to follow them. Who wouldn't want this promised life (see Matthew 5)?

This promised life is what we all want for our children. I want to help you teach your children to memorize and meditate on Scripture as a part of their everyday lives. You'll learn about four important commands of Christ and help your kids memorize verses that support these four commands. God's Word will change their thoughts and, therefore, their beliefs. This will change your life, too. I've found that these four powerful teachings of Christ are transforming me daily. We're never too old or too young to discover the best life possible — the life Jesus wants us to have.

We'll study these four wonderful beliefs that Christ wants within your heart and your children's heart:

I'll also briefly mention that the enemy of God also has beliefs he's trying to instill within our hearts which, when developed within us, cause most of the destruction on this earth. Most of mankind's evil comes directly from the thoughts that Satan wants branded upon our hearts. Satan came to "steal and kill and destroy" everything that is good within us and our children (John 10:10). And that's what he has done throughout our world. It's time for the followers of Christ to take back our turf from him!

The key to this blessed life is our thoughts and beliefs. Did you know that what you have been thinking about every day of your life has produced who you have become as a person? If you worry a lot, have too much stress, are discouraged easily and exhibit a host of other negative characteristics, you have created beliefs in your heart that are causing these emotions. Most people, myself included, do not realize how extremely powerful their thoughts are.

This truth, for me, has become an amazing life-changing and freeing concept. Today, everything about me is changing toward a much more enriching life in every area. I'm becoming free to enjoy my life like never before. And I've never been happier!

Here's even more amazing truth about how our thoughts build these powerful beliefs within our hearts. Most people have between 20,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day. Each of these thoughts will form its own individual chemical and electrical formation in your brain. If you are thinking about the words of God, your thoughts will form positive and healing electrical and chemical formations. But, if you are thinking negative thoughts, those negative ones will form toxic and unhealthy formations.

If you force yourself to think about Christ's four commandments each day between seven and 12 times, you will start to notice new positive and abundant-life beliefs forming within your heart after only four days. And if you stay focused and alert to your present thoughts and use the power given to you by God to take the negative ones captive while you think of Christ's positive thoughts, you can establish new belief habits of thinking in only 21 days.

My prayer is for you to experience the same freedom and joy that I am finding. To enjoy God's best with your children is to be blessed beyond imagination. You'll not only be enriched, but you'll discover amazing peace as you watch your kids develop God's solid foundation.


Do You Have a Plan?

How have you prepared your children for the attacks of Satan? Do you have a written plan to protect your children?

by Gary Smalley
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 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.
(Ephesians 6:10-13)

Getting Started

There is an enemy who wants to destroy your home. His cross hairs are on your children. He has four very powerful and destructive beliefs that he wants you and your children to hide within your heart. As you look around to what is happening in our world of crime and evil, most of the destruction and negative actions come directly from Satan's four toxic beliefs. Since he is the chief liar, he wants to steal your heart away from all that is good, kill everything that's honorable within you and your children, destroying your marriage, family and lives (see John 10:10).

But Christ came to bring you and your children abundant, overflowing life. He wants you to have amazing freedom from everything evil and establish within your hearts four powerful beliefs that lead to a blessed life here and eternal life forever.

I can honestly admit to you that I've never been happier in my entire life than I am today. I want to follow all of the teachings of Christ; but to start, I've embraced four of Christ's powerful teachings that alone have enriched me more than I could have ever imagined. I'm even learning how to fit all of Christ's commands into the four that I use every day!

With Satan's clever lying ways, no wonder there is so much crime and destruction in our world today. The enemy is sophisticated, patient, disciplined and lethal. He hates your family. He will utilize everything in his arsenal to destroy your marriage and your children. His strategy is to ruin not only your marriage, but also the future marriages of your children.

We must understand how grave this threat really is. We have been given the armor of God to protect our hearts. It is not an accident that Ephesians 6:10-13 follows the Bible's central teaching on marriage and family in Ephesians 5:22 – 6:4. The test before us is to sustain the unity of purpose and meet the challenges now confronting us. We need to design a balanced strategy for the long haul, to put on the full armor of God and prevent Satan from having victory in his future attacks.

Is your home prepared for the attacks of the enemy? Do you have a plan to guard your child's heart from the impending attacks of Satan?


Parents: Protect Your Child's Heart by Guarding Your Own

Every parent needs a deliberate, strategic and measurable plan to guard his or her child's heart.

by Gary Smalley

For years you have been imparting thoughts and beliefs to your child's heart that actually come from your own heart. Were you raised in a home with no guarding plan? Are you continuing the negative cycle? Here's the great news: You can break any negative, toxic cycle. I did.

My father was a very angry man. I made the decision early on in my marriage and family to break the cycle of anger. Why? Because my children get the overflow of my heart. Many of you grew up hearing your parents make statements such as:

Then, just think of how many hours you and your children have been bombarded with the lies of this world through TV, movies, music, magazines, school teachers, friends, and the list goes on and on.

What messages have been written on your heart? Do you know what negative belief is behind them? What statements from your childhood are you repeating to your children?

Positive Versus Negative Beliefs

Solomon said to "guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" (Proverbs 4:23). Your heart is shaped by what you think about all day long. And you alone get to choose what you think about every day.

You can either live in the negative or live in the positive. You can dwell on negative feelings and thoughts of anger, resentment and get-even tactics. Or you can take the words of the apostle Paul when he said, "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" (Philippians 4:8, emphasis added).

You only have two choices. One, you can think like Christ (as in Philippians 4:8). Or you can think like the prince of the world (negative).

You'll have thousands of thoughts every day whether you like it or not. Which would you rather have? Thoughts controlled by the world and the prince of this world or thoughts controlled by God, filled with love and desire to care for people?

 


Four Key Beliefs From Scripture

Learning these four biblical principles will help you reap the wonderful consequences of a much closer walk with God and harmony with others.

by Gary Smalley

The beliefs of your heart usually come from your parents, or you may pick them up from culture. Thus we are likely to be as happy or unhappy as our parents were or as our culture is as a whole.

But I don't want my happiness to be dependent on others, whether it's my parents or the culture in general. I know that God created me to be filled with joy, peace and love, and therefore, I have been learning to base my beliefs solely on Scripture. It is in Scripture that I have found the four major beliefs I am basing my life on today.

These four beliefs will become the foundation for the plan you and your children can develop. These are the key beliefs I have been diligent to embed, or hide, in my heart so that they become guiding principles for everything I do in life. And I have found that they work. If we will conform our minds to these four key beliefs that were designed by our Maker, they will put us on top of everything that matters in life.

These beliefs need to be established firmly in your life so they can in turn be included in your plan and impressed on the hearts of your children. Here is just a brief outline of these four beliefs:

  1. Humble Yourself. You are promised by Jesus that if you humble yourself before God and think of yourself as a helpless person or as a beggar, unable on your own to create His type of love and power, you will become "poor in Spirit." Then, as this sense of powerlessness grows into a huge belief within your heart, He will give you the kingdom of heaven as a reward today and forever (see Matthew 5:3; James 4:6).
  2. Love God. If you humble yourself before God and cry out as a beggar for His love and power, He'll reward you so that you in turn can use His love and power to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (see Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37).
  3. Love Others. If you remain humble before God and cry out as a beggar for His love and power, He'll reward you so that you in turn can use His love and power to love others as you love yourself (see Galatians 5:14).
  4. Rejoice in Trials. If you remain humble before God and cry out as a beggar for His love and power, He'll reward you so that you in turn can use His love and power to give thanks to Him and even rejoice during all circumstances, good and bad (see Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4).

I'm 70 years old and more excited about today and what the future brings than at any other time in my life. I live with great hope about today and tomorrow. What will He inspire me to do today? Help someone I don't even know? Grant forgiveness to someone? Use me to bring others to Him? How will He use me tomorrow? Even the littlest things I do can be used mightily by God. All things are possible through Him (see Matthew 19:26). I get to discover His dreams for me and what He wants to do through me.

Nothing has changed my life more than these four beliefs. As I review and think on the Bible verses that support these four beliefs every day, my friends and family are finding that I complain less and serve more.

Learning these principles will help you reap the wonderful consequences of a much closer walk with God and harmony with others. You'll be thrilled at the growing compassion in your heart toward all people. It all comes as a gift from God when you learn to adjust your deepest beliefs to only a few of the most powerful living words from Scripture. Just think of it: God's Word is truth (see John 17:17), and you will know this truth, and it will set you free (see John 8:32).

You may be way beyond me in this journey. You may already have these four beliefs firmly hidden in your own heart. If so, that's great. If you already know and live by these principles, you will be able to influence your children so that these amazing beliefs can spread throughout the world.


Memorize and Meditate

Find creative ways to make Scripture memorization fun. Here are some tips about times and ways to help your family memorize.

by Gary Smalley

Acknowledge where you are with a plan for guarding your child's heart:

Do you believe that Satan has a battle plan against your home? Be prepared with your own plan to guard the hearts of your family.

I'm asking you and your family to start with the four beliefs and find verses that teach them. You might find a number of verses that match. Memorize the ones that light you up the most.

You can customize the verse according to the ages and needs of your children. A younger child may be able to learn one phrase or sentence. An older child can learn a longer passage. Teach them just enough that they can grasp the meaning and meditate on it each day.

Be sure this isn't a forced, negative situation for your kids. Find creative ways to make it fun. Here are some tips about times and ways to help your family memorize:

Suggested Verses

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother" — which is the first commandment with a promise — "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." Fathers, do not exasperate [create anger in] your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-4)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 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. (Ephesians 6:10-13)


Next Steps and Related Information

Additional information on drawing your kids into God's Word

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