Witnessing Without Words – 1 Peter 3:1-2

Witnessing Without Words Only Works In Marriage

1 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

Simple Submission

What’s the quickest way for a wife to win over her husband to God?  When she submits to him as leader of the home, he will be won over.  No amount of words can replace the simple act of reverential submission.  When a wife submits to her husband, there is a special provision that God makes for her so that her husband’s heart connects to her and God.

Won Without Words

When a husband’s wife submits to him, he feels appreciated and fulfilled.  His desire to step up to the plate as the head of the household is aroused, and he will be convicted by the Holy Spirit if he does not know God, as her Godly behavior will point out his less than Godly behavior.  He will be in a position to be won over by her conduct.  No amount of words can convince a man, but the simple act of submission of his wife can do this.  He will become curious as he is convicted, and ask what happened?  His heart will then be open to the words that were previously merely bouncing off of him.  While this does not guarantee that a man will respond correctly, it certainly sets the stage for the Spirit of God to prepare his heart for what both you and God desire – his obedience!

Beautiful Behavior

Actions speak louder than words.  When a wife acts in a Godly manner, she is able to influence her husband in ways that were previously unavailable to her.  He will be willing to listen as he ponders her behavior, and may be more open to coming to church, reading from the Bible, and other spiritual activities that nagging and gentle rebuking had no effect in the past.  It is so true that you catch more bees with honey than with vinegar…

Powerful Purity

When a wife is acting in purity, it does something to a man.  It awakens a desire to be worthy of that purity.  A man may even break down in shame when his wife is acting in purity and he is not.  He may very well need to see the proper example before he is able to start desiring purity in his own life.  And while there are cases where a man may simply reject God as he sees his wife display purity in her life, this will give him every opportunity to see out God as the pattern of holiness is displayed before him.

Respectful Reverence

And men do respond to respect.  It is their love language.  Just as women need to feel loved in order to grow and prosper in God, men need to feel respected in order to grow properly and prosper in God.  A man will be influenced more by the respect of his wife than a million words by her in helpful assistance.  Respect will resonate within him, and allow the wife to connect with him in a way that she may not have been able to connect before.  It opens a door and shows him that He needs to respect God and his wife in return.  That usually begins the process of reconciliation between him and God.

A Qualifying Question

Wives, let’s ask a question:  Am I respecting my husband in such a way that he sees how he should respect God?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are able to do more than we could ever desire.  Please help me to respect others in the way that they need to be respected.  Help me to respect You as the best and highest example of love for men.  Help me to live a life that is submitted to You and to others.  Help me to overcome any difficulties that I may have that would hinder my ability to submit to You and to others.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Announcing the Announcer – Luke 1:76-80

John The Baptist Would Prepare The Way For The Messiah

76 “And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.

Proclaiming the Prophet

Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, had been struck mute when he was confronted by the angel Gabriel concerning the birth of his son.  After proclaiming his son’s name by writing it on a tablet, the condition was removed, and Zechariah began to prophesy concerning his son.  The first words from his mouth were praise and glory to God followed by the announcement that his son, John the Baptist,  would be a prophet.  He then spoke of a few characteristics concerning John.

Prepare a Path

John the Baptist was to prepare the way for the Lord.  John fulfilled this prophesy by proclaiming that the people needed to be baptized for their sins:

1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene- 2 during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5 Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6 And all people will see God’s salvation.'”

John came out of the wilderness when the Spirit of God came to him.  He baptized by water all who desired to be prepared for the coming messiah.

Speak of Salvation

John spoke of salvation to the people, not only baptizing them for their sin in preparation for the messiah, but telling them that they needed to change by being obedient to the word of God:

7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”

13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.

14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

In each case, John the Baptist called people to stop living for themselves, and begin to love their neighbor as themselves.  He encouraged them to produce fruit in keeping with repentance.  Merely going through an act was not going to do them any good.  They were to have a change of heart, and live their lives in such a way that they showed the change.  Salvation came to those whose hearts were changed by the word of God so that they would believe God.

Burn Brightly

The people wandered in their hearts if John the Baptist was the messiah. He pointed people to the messiah and responded:

15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.

John the Baptist faithfully pointed people to the messiah, and consistently told them that he was not the one they were looking for.  And when he saw his messiah come to be baptized by him, he faithfully announced Him to the crowds:

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

John the Baptist faithfully did everything that was required of him, and fulfilled the prophecy of his father in accordance with the will and word of God.  In every way, John had grown stronger in spirit in preparation for his coming assignment to prepare the way for the Lord.  John was faithful in all that he did.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I fulfilling the purposes that God has prepared for me to do for him?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have shown me the way to salvation.  Give me the strength and desire to bear fruit in accordance with my profession of faith in the completed work and shed blood of my Savior.  Help me to honor and glorify Your name with the works that You have prepared for me to do since before the foundation of the universe.  Strengthen me this day that I might be steadfast in shining for You as a light on a hill.  Prepare the soil of the hearts of all that Your word would take root and bear much fruit, for I know that time grows short and the return of Your son in imminent.  Help me to be aware of this always as I go about my day, and be in tune with Your spirit, yielding my spirit to You as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing in Your sight.  This I ask and pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Obedience to God – Psalm 81:11-16

Victory Comes Through Obedience

11 “But my people would not listen to me;
Israel would not submit to me.
12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts
to follow their own devices.

13 “If my people would only listen to me,
if Israel would only follow my ways,
14 how quickly I would subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes!
15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him,
and their punishment would last forever.
16 But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

Learning to Listen

Listening to God is not one of the stronger qualities of mankind.  For millennia, we have ignored the commands of God and have gone our own ways.  For us, obedience seems to be a fleeting concept, just out of the reach of men, beckoning to us yet remaining elusive with the draw of every other manner of pleasure, satisfaction, and fulfillment.  The flesh, the world, and the devil intentionally sabotage every effort at obedience through their incessant cries for attention.  Their efforts are like delicious chocolate dangled in front of the faces of children with obedience like plates of broccoli, brussel sprouts, and kale in warm butter and garlic just outside their reach.  As children, we know what we like, and we grab what we can, not realizing the error of our ways until it is too late.

God beckons to us to listen to Him and obey Him.  Obedience and faithfulness of our hearts have been two of His primary tasks since Adam and Eve.  They were given only one command, yet even then they could not even be obedient in that.  Given the option to partake in the forbidden fruit, we often give in to our desires in a moment of weakness, unable to resist the sumptuous and easy bait lying in front of us.  But God desires that we ignore the bait, and desire Him more.

Choices have Consequences

And when we continually fail to develop self-restraint and self-control, we spiral out of control and allow our desires to control us, rather than the opposite.  Cain, in a fit of rage when his offering was rejected by God, lashed out at the only one he could – he murdered his brother Able, who provided the accepted offering.  And so murder was born into the world of men.  As we mature, we learn more and more that there are consequences with our actions.  We may ignore them, or emotionlessly calculate the risks versus the rewards of them.  And when we do so repeatedly, without seeking God, He gives us over to our stubborn hearts.

How terrible is it to be ruled by our every desire.  When people are ruled by their emotions, they make horrible decisions.  They injure and kill their neighbors.  They burn down their neighborhoods.  They steal and rob from others.  The strong quickly overpower the weak and lord their power over their victims.  And as they continually allow themselves to be fueled by their emotions, there is no end to the depth of their depravity.

Veritable Victory

God gives us hope in the form of a promise.  When we are obedience, we will experience victory.  We will have victory over our sin.  We will have victory over our enemies.  And our enemies – also the enemies of God – will experience the punishment in the form of judgment by God for what they have done.  We cannot expect God to punish our enemies while we are participating in the exact same behavior that they are.  God does not show favoritism among men.  Victory can only come through obedience and submission to God.

Do you want your enemies to be brought to justice?  Do you want an end to your torment?  Do you want to have victory regardless of our your circumstances?  Be obedient to God who gives victory not only over our enemies by also over our own sin nature.  It is only then that we can live in a way that truly glorifies God and brings Him honor.  No matter the end result of our circumstances, obedience and submission to God are the only way to ensure our victory over our own nature.

Lest we forget, Jesus Christ was completely obedient to God and fully submitted to His Spirit, yet even He had to suffer on the cross for us.  But his victory was OVER death, and his reward was to sit at the right hand of God, given the world as His footstool, to reign in everlasting glory.

Rich Reward

God also promises to reward us for obedience and submission to Him.  When we, AS A PEOPLE, submit ourselves to God in obedience, He brings peace and prosperity to our nation:

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

No longer will we suffer under economic duress.  No longer will we be pursued by our enemies.  God will bring peace and prosperity:

When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them.

And as mentioned in this Psalm, He will also do the following:

But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I allowing my stubborn heart to overpower my desire to be obedient to God in submission to His Spirit?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have shown me in Your word the importance of obedience and submission, and the nature of my heart.  You have given me a heart of flesh for a heart of stone when I believed You and your word.  Help me to keep my heart from hardening in this time of great trial and tribulation.  Soften it so that it would be more receptive to Your gentle nudging.  Give me the desire, patience, and ability to carefully listen to Your voice.  And when I hear You through Your word and Your still small voice, give me a heart like Abraham so that on that very day I would be completely obedient to Your will and desire.  Strengthen me and keep my heart from going cold due to the increase of lawlessness in the world.  Protect me from my enemies and from myself, for each day it becomes harder and harder to do what is right.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Warning from God – Revelation 3:14-18

Be On Fire For God

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”

Neither Frost Nor Fire

God sees us as we truly are.  In the last days, there will be a great falling away – a great rebellion.  The fire that was in the church to be holy and set apart for Him will fade.  The church will be in a state of indifference, possibly due to the circumstances that surround them that cry out that there is no hope.  In Christ, there is always hope.  God tells us through James that we should submit ourselves to God, resist the devil, and he will flee.  When we are on fire for God, we are doing everything that we can to submit to God.  We should also resist the devil.  And wait for God to do His part and make the devil flee.

Don’t be lukewarm.  God doesn’t like us lukewarm.  He would rather that we be hot or cold.  Be on fire for the one who saved you, lifted you out of the murky depths, and placed you cleaned up on dry ground.  Submit yourself to the one who is able to strengthen you and provide for you.  And no matter what the devil throws at you, remember that God will not allow you to be snatched from His hand.  You may have to suffer greatly, but He always comes through, even if in death.

Self-Sufficiency

Jesus said that it was easier for a camel to go through an eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.  How true that is!  Material wealth has a way of leading people into a false sense of security that it will provide for their every need.  Money can buy many things, and when we have a lot, we can forget that it is God who is providing everything for us.  In that, we begin to trust in money, and forget the one who gave it to us.  Additionally, we forget to depend upon God for our every morsel of food, for our every breath, and for all things in general.

It is only by following the example of Jesus, in complete submission to the Father, that we are able to overcome our desire or belief that our wealth will provide for us.  When we forget that it is God and not wealth that provides, we become spiritually poor, naked, wretched, and blind.  It is then that we become spiritually impoverished.

Spiritually Sparse

In our spiritual wasteland, we aren’t even aware of our need for God.  But He counsels us to buy from Him Gold refined in Fire.  Only God can provide the spiritual currency that will clothe us from the shame of sin, and blindness of spiritual sight, and the poverty of spiritual darkness.  He is able to provide, for Jesus has died on the cross and paid for it with His blood.  Let us never forget the price that was paid, and where we came from.  The church in the last days will forget for whatever reason, and God will spew them out of His mouth.  Let us not forget:

12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I hot, cold or lukewarm towards God?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have done so much and continue to do so much for us that we cannot conceive the magnitude of Your great mercy and grace.  Forgive me, Father, for my many sins.  Help me to be on fire for You so that I would recognize my condition and further yield myself to You.  Help me to humble myself in Your presence, and lift me up so that I may do all that You would have me to do.  And when You provide physical riches to me, guide me in managing it for Your glory.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – Romans 8:12-14

Live According To The Spirit.

12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Outstanding Obligation

God greatly desires that we keep our obligations.  His very character is one that ensures that any promise that He makes is kept.  We can trust His word, no matter what.

Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, we have an obligation to God – to stop living by the flesh.  When we live by the flesh, we are suppressing the Truth, and bring shame upon our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Fleshy Failure

We live by the flesh when we listen to our desires rather than to the Spirit of God.  When we seek to bring about the fulfillment of personal pleasure rather than obedience to God, we are setting ourselves us for failure.  Adam and Eve did this very thing when they disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden and ate the fruit of the knowledge of Good and Evil.  We do the same when we seek out our selfish desires rather than the express will of God.

We have available to us the whole counsel of God, yet we often ignore it as we seek to alleviate the pain or pressures of this life in following our desires.  We are told that the heart is deceitful.  We must therefore rely upon the Holy Spirit to guide us in all things.  When we begin a path of ignoring the Holy Spirit of God in order to follow our own desires, we are setting ourselves up to spiritually die.

Spiritual Superiority

God reminds us that if we put to death the flesh by the Spirit, we will live.  This is accomplished through reading and applying the Word of God under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit of God. He will lead us into all righteousness, for He knows all things.  When we put to death (starve) the flesh, we are feeding the spirit.  And when we feed the flesh, we are starving the spirit.  Whichever one you feed, that is the one that grows.

God says that if we are led by the Spirit of God, we are His children.  Jesus has told us that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  We need to follow in His footsteps.  We can only do that if we submit ourselves to the Spirit.  Jesus did the very same thingJesus said that if we love Him we will obey his commands.  Jesus also said that He is the vine and we are the branches.  The branches receive nourishment from the vine, and cannot live on their own.  Let us be known as the children of God by how faithfully we are obedient and submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit of God.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Are we feeding the flesh or are we feeding the Spirit?

A short prayer of preparation

Father in Heaven, I thank You for Your Word and Your patience with me.  Show me in Your Word how to put to death the deeds of the flesh.  Empower me to live according to Your Word, and strengthen my spirit that it would submit to You.  Help me to starve my flesh from its evil desires, and to desire You.  Fill me with a sense of purpose as I kill off that which does not conform to Your image, for all change is painful.  Help me to deal with the consequences of obedience, that I may not flinch in the face of opposition or with any loss that may occur.  Show me your beauty and grace as I move closer to You.  This I ask in the precious name of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Family Living by God – Ephesians 6:1-4

Children are Adults-in-Training.

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Righteous Request

Paul encourages children to obey their parents.  The rebellion started when Adam rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden.  It continues today with children.  No one is immune, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  The fallen nature of man gives us a presence of mind to think that we know better than our elders.  And although information is abundant, and children see themselves learning much faster than their parents, the lack of depth and breadth of knowledge, coupled with inexperience, growing brains, and raging hormones, yields a perfect storm that blinds them to the value of wisdom.  And in today’s generation, how a person feels is more important than facts, and held to be more valid than critical thought and sound judgement.  This further witnesses to the need for children to listen to and honor their parents.

Holy Honor

Children who honor their parents bring great glory to God.  It shows that they are fulfilling their designated role, and helps to display the unity of the family.  Additionally, when children honor their parents, they help the learning process along by displaying self-control, learning obedience (a skill that transfers to their relationship with God), and it makes the job of the parents that much more easy.  This reduces the burden on the parents and allows them to fulfill the designated roles assigned to them by God.  Although children may not initially see how honoring their parents is honoring God, as they mature and their minds grow, they will be able to see the wisdom in this.

Particular Promise

Paul indicates that a promise is attached to this Commandment, and that children benefit from doing this, rather than it being just a rule to follow.  With experience comes wisdom, and the life lessons learned by children through honoring their father and mother will yield a harvest of righteousness later on.  This wisdom will assist them in making decisions that will have a positive impact not only in their lives, but in the lives of people with whom they interact.

If parents attempt to impart wisdom in financial matters to their children, and the children honored them by following the examples provided, even if they didn’t necessarily understand why they were doing what they were doing, the results from that would speak for themselves, and show the wisdom of the decisions.  This could include setting aside money for retirement at an early age, budgeting, using self-restraint and purchasing what they need instead of what they want.  The application of restraint in this area in life would keep them from the pitfalls of debt and monetary indentured servitude.  Most children cannot appreciate being debt-free, owning a house and a car, and having all of their income going into a bank account instead of living paycheck to paycheck until they are actually in that situation.  The pain of self-denial and self-restraint may take years to reap a benefit.

Avoiding Angst

Because fathers are wired to respect and not to love, displaying love does not come naturally to them.  This can lead to conflict as they seek to impart discipline (not punishment but self-control) in their children.  Paul sees the danger and warns fathers that their efforts with instruction and correction can exasperate their children.  Fathers often expect that the children should learn the lessons fast and adhere to their principles immediately.  When children aren’t able to (and sometimes not willing to) do this, the father’s reactions, speech, and discipline can cause a child to just want to stop listening.  The child may feel that no matter what they do, it just won’t measure up.

Fathers must take great care to distinguish between a child’s true intentions – whether they are truly trying to obey their parents, or whether they are engaging in the manipulative feinting of exasperation in order to avoid discomfort in the tasks and lessons being imparted.  Children are master manipulators, being instructed by the world and through the whispers of the devil as he tries to tear apart the family.  It is only the Word of the Living God that can break the power of these evil influences.

And even in all of that, children have free will.  Even the most dedicated, loving, and encouraging father may run up against a child that absolutely refuses to learn the lessons provided (think Oppositional Defiant Disorder).  Someone with ODD doesn’t care if you punish them.  They live to be in opposition to you, and everything you stand for.  This is a strong-willed child who, understanding the repercussions for their reactions, would rather lose their life and liberty than to obey.  The need to be in control and to throw off the yoke of authority is so strong in them that they truly would rather die than to listen.  These children often become expert in the art of manipulation.  They lie with a straight face, telling falsehoods to even get their parents imprisoned just so that they can be free from their authority, or anyone who would attempt to exert authority over them.  Their conscience is seared, and their own personal desires justify any actions that they take.  They often know the exact outcome of what their actions will have on the adults that they malign, and have no compassion towards them or their circumstances once the effects of their plans have taken effect.

Scripture provided a recourse for this in the Old Testament that many today would think harsh and possibly cast a shadow over the grace and mercy of God.  This solution was needed in order to showcase that first and foremost, God is HOLY:

18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.

The Trials of Training

Oh, the trials and tribulations of training a child…  Especially during the teen years…  It can sometimes seem like herding cats, or grasping oil in your hand – a fruitless effort.  The good news is that it is not fruitless.  Everything that you impart, whether the child grasps and runs with it or not, is being stored in that wonderful sponge of a brain.

Scripture also tells how they should be trained:

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Parents are not to make carbon copies of themselves.  They are not to plan their child’s life from cradle to grave.  Rather, they have been instructed to “train up” the child in the way they should go.  This is difficult, as it requires the parents to recognize what God has placed in the child and then nurture it.  These characteristics can be the polar opposition of what was in the parent.  This then requires great prayer, research, submission to God, and following God’s teaching as the parent may not have any knowledge or expertise in the child’s God-given bent and abilities.

Image a family where both parents are scholars and spend most of their time reading books and watching movies.  Now imagine a son who is constantly moving, and loves to jog, play football, soccer, baseball, basketball, hockey, and every other conceivable sport.  The parents are to encourage this in their child so that the child can fulfill what God has placed in them to glorify Himself.

If the parents just try to turn this child into an academician, the child will lose heart, and suppress what is in him to do what God has not necessarily gifted the child to do.  This would require the parents to either go outside their comfort zone to be a part of their child’s life, or involving a trusted and respected mentor to help their child to excel in their strengths.  In either case, training up the child in the way they should go would prove to be challenging and counter-intuitive to what they know.

A Qualifying Question

For children, let’s ask the question:  Are we honoring our mother and father the way that God wants us to?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, give me strength as I walk with You today.  Help me to understand my role that You have assigned to me.  Regardless of my age, help me to honor my mother and father, that it would be pleasing to You and bring great glory to You.  Show me the way I should go, and provide the people who are mentoring me through life the ability, knowledge, and wisdom to help me to become the person that You desire me to be.  This I ask and pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Family Living by God- Ephesians 5:21-24

Jesus Submitted Himself to the Holy Spirit

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Sacred Submission

Paul starts this section on family living with a very provocative statement: that ALL of the body of Christ should submit to the REST of the body of Christ.  Unity within the body of Christ CANNOT be obtained unless we are willing to submit ourselves to one another.  He prepares the reader with this for the next big challenge – that wives should submit to their husbands, and not only submit; but submit to them as they submit to Christ.

God has created within Men and Women certain traits that have been corrupted by the fall of Adam in the garden of Eden.

  • Men – by nature – understand how to respect each other
    • They can live in a state of quasi-harmony with each other in respect.
    • They do not have agape love embedded into the DNA of their brain.  As a result, they will tend to do things that show respect to others, but they may not necessarily show love to others.
    • This can be seen in the business world, and even in gangs.  Men are risk-takers, and do things that tend to benefit themselves.  When men do things to each other, they have a sense of respect when it happens, understanding the need for certain situations, but then say, “It’s nothing personal – it’s just business.”
    • This can come off as being aloof, uncommunicative, unloving, dispassionate, emotionally distant, and relationally cold.
  • Women – by nature – understand how to agape love each other
    • They can live in a state of quasi-harmony with each other in love.
    • They do not have respect embedded into the DNA of their brain.  As a result, they will tend to do things that show love to others, but they may not necessarily show respect to others.
    • This can be seen in the family, and even in women’s gatherings.  Women are natural communicators, and seek the best for others at their own expense.  They are protective of others, and are wonderful for showing love and raising children.  When something needs to change, they often use their communication skills to spark a controversy (repetitive criticism can sometimes be seen here) because women want wholeness in relationship, and will respond to that with compassion and a heart to reconcile the relationship.  Their natural sensitivity helps them to stay connected and desire smoothness in relationships.
    • This can come off as a critical spirit, gossiping, and nagging.

Wives are told to submit to their husbands, and this is very difficult for them, especially if they don’t have respect for them, or see them failing as leaders of the family.  How can a person submit to another person that they don’t respect?

Because of this issue, Paul tells wives to submit to their husbands as they submit to Christ.  This is the hardest thing they will need to do in marriage.  But it can also be the easiest thing to do in marriage.  Paul next tells us why this can occur.

Household Headship

God is a God of order.  There is order in the Trinity:

  • God the Father is the head of the organization, but submits to God the Son and God the Holy Spirit
  • God the Son submits to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit
  • God the Holy Spirit submits to God the Father and God the Son
  • Someone has to be in charge for the purpose of accountability and to establish a hierarchy of authority so that order can be established and maintained.

In the same way, there is hierarchy of order within the family:

  • The husband is the head of the organization, but submits to his wife (and any children).
    • He is a servant-leader, who is charged with bringing about the spiritual growth of his wife and children, teaching them the things of Christ and revealing to them the Word of the Living God.
    • He is charged with taking care of them and providing for them physically, financially, and spiritually.  God has placed this burden upon his heart, and he eagerly seeks to meet this goal.
    • It is a terrible thing when he rebels against this and abandons servant-leadership to become self-centered.
  • The wife submits to her husband (and any children).
    • She has an advisory role in the organization, able to see things about people and situations that the husband is unable to see because of his giftedness.  Her input is very valuable, and should be given great consideration by her husband when making decisions.
    • She is in tune with the needs and desires of all affected people in the organization, and can provide balance and unity between husbands and children.
    • It is a terrible thing when she abandons this and cultivates a critical spirit that does not encourage and love but rather verbally reminds others in her care of their shortcomings, often in anger, fueled by the memories of all of the other similar things that happened to her that flood into her mind during the situation.
  • The children submit to the husband (father) and wife (mother).
    • They are adults-in-training, and don’t have the skills yet to be independent of them.  They should carefully consider their parent’s advice and decisions.  When both the mother and father are acting in the role of servant-leader, they are taking their children’s best interests at heart, and are making decisions that are meant to be beneficial to everyone involved.
    • Children are born needy and selfish.  If left alone, they would do great harm to themselves and others.  It is only through the care, teaching, and correction by their parents that they are able to train themselves away from this natural-born state.  But it is just as important that they acknowledge and submit themselves to God so that they can overcome these tendencies.
    • Sometimes, decisions made by their parents may not appear to the children to be in their best interest.  An example of this is when they have to move because the father and/or mother has lost his/her job, and now are going to be separated from the safety and security of everything that they have known until now.  What they fail to grasp is that if the family stays, they may become homeless and encounter all of the difficulties associated with that particular life situation. They may not grasp that this would be far worse than if they moved.
    • It is terrible when they rebel against the authority of their parents (in the Lord). One example of this is when the children seek to do them as much harm as possible to get back at them in retaliation for feelings they may experience when their desires are not immediately granted (the entitlement generation syndrome).

When the order that God has imposed is followed by the family organization, there can be unity within it.  When a husband (fathers) submits himself to Christ, he is listening to the One who Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent.  God has everyone’s (including the family’s) best interests at heart and will direct the husband (father) in the ways that the family should go.

When this occurs, he will display the love of God to his family, and it will be much easier to respect him in his role.  They should remember that he will be held accountable by God for the success or failure of the family organization.  While individuals have free will, and they certainly can rebel against both God and the husband (father), he will be held accountable for his submission to God and obedience to what God has directed him to do.

If a husband (father) is seeking God with all of his heart, mind, soul, and strength, it should be a joy for his wife to respect him and submit to him in all things, for in doing so, she is both submitting to the one placed in authority over her by God, as well as to God Himself as He works through His servant, the husband (father).  When the children (if any) see this relationship being displayed, their unity and Christ-likeness should fill them with a sense of safety and security and fill them with joy, knowing that they are loved and respected, and that their best interests are being kept in mind in all things.

When a wife submits to her husband, even (and especially) when he doesn’t deserve it, she is fulfilling her obligations with regard to the organization.  This must be done in love and without a critical spirit.  When this occurs, her love and respect for him will be used by the Holy Spirit to convict him and bring him back into line where he should be.  This is to be done with tender and tearful prayer by his wife, so that God would get a hold of him and help him to be the man of God that he is called to be.  Once that occurs, it will be a joy to submit to him.

A definition for submission of wives to husbands was once described as wives being willing to duck so that when God throws a right-cross at the family leadership, it lands firmly upon their husbands.

A Qualifying Question

For wives, let’s ask the question:  Are we submitting to our husband as the church is supposed to submit to Christ, with great respect and joy (even and especially if he doesn’t deserve it)?

A short prayer of Preparation:

Father in Heaven, it is a difficult thing to do what is the opposite of my nature to do.   Father, give me strength and guidance in every area of my life.  Help me to be who You made me to be.  Give me peace as I fulfill my role that You have provided for me.  Help me to see Your perspective in all things, and to love and respect my family the way that desire.  Show me where I need to change, that I may grow in You, and be an example for others.  Watch my ways, and keep me from sinning against You.  You have called me to be Holy – to be set apart from sin, and set apart to You.  Only You can bring that to fruition.  Encourage me when I feel frustrated, and remind me of Your goodness, mercy, grace, and compassion that I may lean upon them and show them to others, even when I am experiencing great trials.  This I ask in the name of Jesus my Lord and Savior, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Submission to God – Colossians 3:1-4

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

The world, the flesh, and the devil all vie for the attention of our thoughts.  If they can just persuade us to take our eyes off of Christ, we can be led astray.  Paul provides us with the framework for preventing this, in that our lives are hidden in Christ.  Our thoughts should be continually towards the things of God.  We are also told where our treasure is, there are our hearts also.

Time and time again, we are distracted with the troubles of life.  Even when we are focused on God, tragedy seems to occur to cause us to take our eyes off of the object of our affection, and be focused in the here and now of trials and tribulations.  It takes great self-control to refocus on the things that matter, as the threat of pain, suffering, and loss loom over us in those moments.  We are directed (both imperative commands!) to set our hearts and set our minds on things above.  It is an act of the will, contrary to our natural inclinations.

It is an act of submission of the will to God that enables us to make this unnatural change in our thought lives.  In everything, Christ submitted Himself to the Father through submission to the Holy Spirit.  In the same manner we need to submit ourselves the same way to the Holy Spirit.

So, let’s ask the question:  How well are we submitting to the Holy Spirit?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, we are so easily distracted by the difficulties of life.  Give me strength today to have a heart that is steadfastly focused upon Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Remove the veneer of importance from those things that try to grab my attention, and place everything in its proper place, so that You are honored in everything.  Guard my heart, and help me to submit to Your perfect will.  This I ask in the precious name of your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?