Ephesians 5:10 “Figure out what will please Christ, and then, do it!” (MSG) One of the first and best ways we can please the Lord is to praise Him. It’s the best response to all that God has done. I’ll be talking about this and answering a question from a listener about being unequally yoked. God’s blessings are found inside His boundaries.
Transcribed version of podcast is below.
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Job 1:20-22
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Hey everybody. Happy New Year. Happy New Year. This is Heidi St. John. Welcome to a brand new year here at the podcast. We are so excited for what God is going to do this year. This is 2020. It’s going to be a big year. I can feel it in my bones and we’re going to get started today by a little conversation about a big thing called holiness. Stick around. I think you’re going to be encouraged.
Hope you guys are having a great New Year’s Day today. Today is Wednesday, January 1st. This is episode number 865 and I’m doing something a little bit different on Wednesdays. You guys know that I used to teach from MomStrong International on Wednesdays, but I went ahead and switched the format and now I teach at a private Facebook page for MomStrong International Bible study members, so this is a great day you guys. First day of a brand new year. It’s a great day for you to join me at momstronginternational.com, sign up to become a member of the Bible study there, and join the scripture writing community. So there are about 15,000 of you at the scripture writing community now and that’s just a free community where you guys can get in and download the scripture writing challenge, and the scripture writing challenge correlates. It’s the verses that we’re studying at MomStrong International at the Bible study page.
So one of the things that I am very passionate about is equipping our listeners, and mothers in particular, to a place of really knowing and studying God’s word so that you can be prepared to give an answer for the hope that lies within you. So January 1st is the most wonderful time of the year to start a brand new commitment to being in the word of God. And we do a study five days a week there. And the scripture writing challenge actually is seven days a week. So it’s every single day of the week. Just a passage for you to copy. We have something for your children. We have scripture writing for your children, copy work for them. The Bible study includes a component called KidsStrong to help you take what you’re learning and begin the process of discipling your own children.
And so this is not the job of your pastor, mom and dad. It’s not, are you listening? Stop what you’re doing. Not the job of your youth pastor, not the job of your pastor, certainly not the job of your child’s teacher. It is your job, according to scripture, to disciple your children, to be obedient to God’s command in Deuteronomy, to train up your children to talk about the things of the Lord. When you rise up and when you lie down and when you walk along the road, your responsibility is to train your kids in righteousness, and we are committed to doing that, helping you do that at MomStrongInternational.com, so check it out. The brand new Bible study starts on January the 6th. That’s the first Monday in January. The new studies always released on the first Monday in January and then I will be doing video teachings after that. I’m not entirely sure I’m going to get to the video teaching for the first Wednesday in January because I am going to be on a cruise.
My husband and I are speaking for the Florida Parent Home Educators Associations cruise, their marriage cruise called Refresh and we’re going to be, I believe in St Martin that day. So we’re looking forward to that, my husband and I, a chance to get to know a bunch of you who are coming on the cruise with us and also a chance for my husband and I to get away ourselves. We just celebrated our 30th anniversary and so we are excited to be doing that.
I’m going to jump into a little devotion with you guys today. I want to start out, before I get to your questions, I want to start out talking about the pursuit of holiness. 1 Peter 1:15 says, “You must be holy because I am holy,” and I believe that we have seen a lot of reckless attempts lately by social activists to redefine gender in an attempt to get rid of our societal female and male norms. And it has to do with language, right? They’re trying to restructure and redefine and redo the language of the culture because they understand that language is a cornerstone in the culture, and so we’ve seen the language changed dramatically. That’s why you’re seeing these attempts by social activists and people on the far left, they’re trying to say, “It’s not male and female. There’s 72 genders and there’s cisgender and…” I can’t. I don’t even know what they are. There’s so many. It’s ridiculous. But I’ve also noticed that there has been a shift away from a kindness in our everyday language because it’s given way to divisive speech and it threatens to tear us apart even in the church.
And when we talk about the church, there’s something else I’ve noticed that I’ve become more and more concerned about as we move along, and that’s the state of God’s people, particularly as it relates to something that the Bible calls holiness. Now I looked up the word and according to the dictionary, holiness is the state of being sinless, and we’ve talked about this on the podcast before, and I want to encourage you again toward a place. Of course, we can’t be sinless, right? I mean, thank goodness, we can’t do that, but God isn’t looking for us to be in a state of sinlessness. This is why he sent Jesus. He knew that we could never do it, but what he is asking us to do is to be a set apart people. God says that we are to be different. This was my beef. I answered a question at length on Monday from someone who wrote in and said that they have Christian friends on the progressive left who are social activists, who believe in homosexuality. This was my beef with Jen Hatmaker when she said that Christians who are married, married in a homosexual relationship, as long as they’re married, it could be considered holy, which is directly opposing the word of God and we need to be set apart.
We really are at a crossroad in our culture right now and I want to encourage you to a place of holiness. God expects it. Holiness means that we are set apart. We are set apart people, and there’ve been some things in my life that I’ve been really praying about recently and just saying, “Lord, help me to listen to your Holy spirit in this area of my life. Help me to be more devoted to you, Lord, so that I can hear your voice better. Help me to set that time aside.” I’ve heard from a lot of moms saying they just don’t have time. “I don’t have time decided to study God’s word.” I hear it all the time and my goodness, I believe for as much as I have been out on the road for the last 15 years administering to mothers and and writing books and trying to encourage you, I hear the voice of the adversary when he tells you you got better things to do. There can be nothing more important, nothing more pressing than asking the Lord, “Father, am I living in a way that pleases you?” That should be the question, right? We need to find out what pleases the Lord. Ephesians chapter five verse 10 says, “Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.”
Now it’s easy for us to focus on what displeases him. And sometimes we do that here at the podcast. But did you guys know that you can please God too? I think that’s kind of amazing. Here we are, we are created beings so insignificant in the light of our creator and what he has done. And yet God says we have the ability to please him. And he says, “Holiness pleases him.” In Ephesians chapter five verse 10 which I just read a second ago, this is the apostle Paul, and he’s saying that we should be thinking about how to please God by carefully determining what that might be. Now, I don’t know about you guys, but it’s easy for me to focus on myself, and consequently our children, on what we shouldn’t be doing rather than what we should be doing to honor and please the creator.
And so if we can flip the narrative for just a moment today and not talk about what we shouldn’t do and instead talk about what we should do, I think it’s a great way for us to start the new year by sort of recalibrating how we see ourselves and how our faith is going to reach a generation that needs to hear the gospel, right?
So the message translation, which I don’t always love, but I did love this translation of the verse Ephesians 5:10 the message translation says, “Figure out what will please Christ and then do it.” Moment of silence. Just do it. See, the best part about knowing that God loves us is that we get to respond to his love and teach our children to do the same. And so God isn’t shy about telling us how to please him. In Psalm 113, we read that one of the first and best ways to please the Lord is to praise him.
Praise is simply the best response to all that God has done for us. In Psalm 113, verses five to nine, King David lists a few reasons why God is worthy of our praise. Let me read it to you. This is starting in verse five in Psalm 113. “Who can be compared with the Lord our God who was thrown down high. He stoops to look down on heaven and on earth. He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes and even the princes of his own people. He gives a childless woman a family, making her a happy mother. Praise the Lord.” I love that David points out the joyful response of a mother who realizes her children are a gift from the Lord.
What is his instruction? It’s praise. Continual praise you guys, is the right response to all that God has done and all that he will do. It’s the right response to our gift of salvation, the right response when God gives us children, no matter the circumstances of their conception. It’s the right response when God gives us a place to live and food to eat. It’s the right response to creation itself. And as parents, mothers in particular, we have the opportunity to set the tones for our homes. And so I’m going to encourage you on this January 1, let’s let our tone be one of enduring praise. God is worthy and there are many ways that we can please the Lord. And so let’s start by being a people of praise. It’s part of becoming the people that God says we are. The Holy people, the set apart people and we are people, or at least God says we should be, people, men and women of praise. So do you have an attitude of praise today? I want to encourage you to a place of having an attitude of praise.
And when we think about, I’m going to start with a tough question today from a listener. When we think about holiness and what it looks like, we always should run back to the Bible. We run back to the Bible when we choose which decisions we make for raising our children. We go to the Bible for issues of salvation. We go to the Bible for issues of morality, human morality. This is how I know unequivocally that abortion is a sin because God clearly delineates it in his word as such. And so we’re going to, I’m going to take you to God’s word today. I’m going to answer a tough question. This question came in a couple of months ago and I have been hesitating to answer it because I want to be tender.
And yet as I pursue holiness in my own life and the Lord is showing me that there are some blind spots in my own life, and I’ve asked my husband to pray for me. And even one of my daughters, I was out on a walk with her the other day, and she is going to help me get into shape. I fell off the exercise a wagon you guys. I’ve been so tired and Jan and I have so many things going on and in the midst of all the things that we’re doing, I’ve had a very hard time taking care of my body, which the Bible says is the temple of the Holy spirit. So I asked my daughter, I have one daughter in particular, five daughters that God has been gracious to give to me and Jay. And one of them in particular is kind of a health nut. She’s the girl who’s always telling me how many calories are in my dinner and “Mom, here’s my hand sanitizer.” All that stuff. And so I just said, “Hey sweetheart. Would you help me get me out of bed every day and just take me on a walk? Help me get my exercise routine back because I’m not feeling good.”
And it was so important for me to just realize this is important to me. And there’s a couple of other things that the Lord’s just been like, “Nope, this isn’t quite right.” And sometimes his instruction and sometimes when the Holy spirit convicts us of sin, it can hurt a little bit, and this might hurt a little bit, but I want you to listen to my heart because if we don’t listen to and obey God’s word, then if we ignore the boundaries that God puts up for us, we ignore them to our peril.
And so the question comes in from an anonymous listener, “Should I marry the father of my children if he is an unbeliever?” She says, “I have two little ones ages four and one. I got pregnant when I was 19 and I was not in a good place in my life. I had walked away from the Lord and was living a lifestyle that was not pleasing to him in the least. My children’s father is an atheist. We are still together though not yet married. As I have left that lifestyle behind and started walking closely with the Lord, I felt that we need to get married, but I’m worried. He says not to be unequally yoked. And as someone who grew up with a Christian mom and a Muslim father, I saw the strain that it can put on a marriage and on the children by default. I’m scared that I will never see the marriage that God has planned for me. And that my children will not have the strong spiritual leader that they need. I’m afraid that the information that they will get about the word of God will be conflicted and that my calling will never be able to be fully alive because of our relationship. Please give me some insight and hope. What does God say about this?”
Well, sweet mom. A couple of things I want to point out right away. I love that you have acknowledged that you came from place of walking away from the Lord and now you want to walk with him. I love that you are noticing the strain that your mother’s marriage to someone… So your mother was unequally yoked also, right? So she married a Muslim man and you saw the strain that put on you, I would imagine, and on any siblings that you would have. And I love that you are seeing that God’s highest ideal is for people who have children together to be married, right? That’s true. But God’s highest ideal is not that you would marry someone who is an unbeliever.
Now, if you were already married, I would have a completely different answer for you. But the truth of the matter is, God says, “Do not marry an unbeliever.” In 2 Corinthians 6:14-15, it says, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness and lawlessness or what fellowship has light with darkness or what harmony has Christ with BL or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?” And I think sometimes my husband, when I started dating him, he was in a Christian rock and roll band and he wrote a song called Missionary Dating. And this was way back in the 80s, right? But it’s still true today. And sometimes we tell our kids, they are interested in a person and we will say, our first question always is, is that person a Christian? And our next question is, is that Christian walking with the Lord, right?
We might say to our kids, “No, no. No missionary dating.” I think sometimes we hope that we can convert the people that we are dating or planning on marrying. And sometimes we think that our own spirituality is strong enough so that we can witness to them and motivate the other person to convert to our faith through our patience and our love. But we want to be very, very clear about what God says and not walk in disobedience ourselves. And I know sometimes people think it sounds harsh, but something as serious as marrying an unbeliever needs to be addressed to the point. We must not compromise the will of God or the word of God because it endangers our spiritual wellbeing. And frankly, I think it endangers the future for your children.
If you were my daughter, I would be counseling you not to live with this man because God doesn’t want you to be living with him. God doesn’t want you to be sleeping with him and God doesn’t want you to marry him. So really your decision, your past decisions when you walked away from the Lord have put you in a very difficult position. So I think we can acknowledge the difficult position. But I also want to say that God’s blessings are not found outside of God’s boundaries. They’re never found outside God’s boundaries. And you know, because you said it to me in your letter, that God doesn’t want you to be unequally yoked.
And so I would say, and I know this is hard, I would say trust the Lord. Trust the Lord. I want to give you insight and hope and the hope is this. God has a plan for you and it is a good one. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” And your hope and your future, the hope that you have for your future will not be found in walking outside of gods plan for you and outside of obeying his word, which is to say, God said, “Do not be married to an unbeliever.” And so I want you to be encouraged because God has a good plan for you and I don’t want you to be afraid for your children.
I would be more afraid if you married someone who is an atheist who’s definitely going to be influencing your children against what God says is true. Pray for this man who is the father of your children and in the meantime, do not sin against God by continuing to either live with him or have sex outside of marriage. God has a plan and right now, you are the spiritual leader for your children. And I want to encourage you to get into a church, to join a women’s Bible study, find a MomStrong International Group around you. If you haven’t already joined my women at MomStrong International Online. I teach every Wednesday online and you can sit in on that teaching and we can talk about what’s going on in your life. But I just want to encourage you to a place of strength and that strength begins when we acknowledge that we need the Lord and we give our lives to the Lord. And then we walk in obedience to his word, and you can do that. You can do it. In fact, the Bible teaches that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. So don’t walk outside of God’s plan for your life by disobeying him further and being unequally yoked in marriage to a man who is not a believer.
All right, I’m going to be praying for you. Your question touched my heart a couple of months ago when it came in and I just want you to know we’re praying for you guys here at the podcast and I know that God has good things for you, so don’t be discouraged, rather be encouraged because as you walk with the Lord, he is going to give you the desires of your heart. All right? And remember as you’re praying, God already knows the circumstance that you’re in and so it’s your job now to say, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” And then walk in, right relationship, walk in obedience. Say, “Lord, I acknowledge that your blessings are not found outside your boundaries,” and then stay inside the boundaries that God has already set for you.
I hope that’s encouraging for you guys today. I am so excited for you to be starting a brand new year with us at MomStrong International on this first day of 2020 and I want to encourage you again to check them out where I’m going to be: Faith That Speaks—My women’s conference is coming to Lakeland, Florida. That’s the first one of the year and here really quickly we’re going to be announcing the women that are going to be out speaking with me. I’m bringing a very special team of women who have incredible stories to share with you. Many of them you’re going to be familiar with. This is a great time to get your tickets. Your ticket will include lunch. It includes swag, a really awesome swag bag, and a tee shirt, and a whole bunch of other cool stuff. And my team will be coming to each one of these cities and we’re going to be blessing you and encouraging you to walk in right relationship with God and have your faith become a faith that speaks.
I want to thank you guys for listening. As always, we love hearing from you. We’d love to get correspondence from you. If you can support this podcast financially, we would love that too, and you can reach out to us. Have a great day everybody and I’m going to see you back here on Friday with my friend, the vice president of the James Dobson Institute, James Gottry. He’ll be my guest on Friday. Have a great day you guys and I will see you on Friday.
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Heidi St. John
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