Saturday, February 25, 2017

170226 Obedience to Parents

Ephesians 6:1-4 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Everywhere we turn today we encounter a breakdown in society that begins in the home. Adults who are responsible for working with children have many examples of this breakdown. Children question the authority of bus drivers, teachers, teaching aides and administrators in the schools. Out in society many adolescents and teenagers are very disrespectful to most adults – even their parents. There is a real need to turn that around soon.
As I look at the insane “political correctness” going on in our culture I am repelled and disgusted. Children, sometimes at the insistence of their parents, are being allowed, in the public schools, to choose their gender! This very dangerous life-changing decision is promoted by less than 4% of the adult population. I’m not sure when the trend began that allows a small percent of the population to bully the rest of us. I am absolutely convinced that people who promote these strange lifestyles are shaped by their family relationships and not by their hormones. There’s a real need in the lives of children for a secure atmosphere to grow up in. That secure atmosphere will require that they…
Obey your parents. Let’s look at Deuteronomy 4:40. Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for all time.”
The Lord God asked the question, “has any God ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation…?” (Deuteronomy 4:34). Then he goes on to explain that since he had done that and he had begun to drive out mighty nations in order to give his people a homeland it would be in their best interests to keep his statutes and commandments.
God’s rules for living — his statutes and commands — were not given by him just because he could. Instead they are very important to the physical and mental health of his people. These commandments were very important for the generation he was speaking to and their children and grandchildren. A common theme of being obedient to God is that it will result in a long life. In the all-important Ten Commandments, commandment number five is…
The first commandment with a promise. Let’s look at Deuteronomy 5:16.  “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”
We need to remember that these commandments are given as the nation of Israel was crossing the desert on their way to the promised land. The Commandments were given to the generation who came out of Egypt. That generation died in the wilderness because of their lack of faith (Hebrews 4:2).
If those people found themselves living a longer life than others because of their honoring their parents then a large percentage of our current generation will not be rewarded with longevity.
Honor is an internal attitude of respect, courtesy, and reverence and should first of all be given to God. After that, our respect, courtesy, and reverence should be given to our parents. Honoring one’s parents does not mean approving everything about the parent. Parents, even godly ones, are human and as such are subject to all kinds of human weakness.
To honor a parent who is not considered honorable is not hypocrisy. It is a studied obedience to God. Who knows? It might be that treating a parent the way they would be treated if they were honorable might result in their changing their behavior. I believe most parents want to be respected by their children. And if given the chance will live up to expectations. Of course it is much easier to honor the parent who already deserves it. Yet it is to our own individual benefit as well as the benefit of the family structure if we will give honor where honor is needed. Children are instructed to obey their parents…
In the Lord. Let’s look at Deuteronomy 6:5-7. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
A functional family that honors parents will be one in which the Lord God is loved and obeyed. The people of Israel were instructed to put all they had emotionally and physically into the process of loving God. The evidence of such love will be seen in the way we fathers instruct our children. It is important that each generation be brought into the kingdom through faith. In order to arrive there the Bible does not tell us to take them to Sunday school and let them teach our children for 30 or 40 minutes a week. The Bible tells us to teach the children in the home. We are to apply ourselves diligently to such teaching. In every possible way, in our homes, and as we walk out into society, at the end of the day and at the beginning of the day we should talk about the word of God and the power of the God we serve.
It may well be that we don’t know how to do this kind of instruction. I submit to you that we should simply reach out with what we know about the Lord and expect him to guide us in our instruction. It would be good to begin each day with family devotions. Reading the Bible together and praying before we go out into the world can change the consequences we face. It would be good also to come to the end of the day and let God’s word speak to our family and then pray together. Such leadership by parents will certainly lead to the children honoring the parents throughout their life and beyond. It is very important that…
Fathers — do not provoke. Let’s look at Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 1:5. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
Our world today is infected with anger disorder. That’s my diagnosis and I will stick to it! Our relationship to our children should be based on love not anger. Among the things that I regret in life are the times when I allowed my anger to come to the surface in relation my children. That’s just wrong and I am so sorry and I let it happen! Instead, I should have been focusing on teaching Jesus’ instructions. You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18). When we begin with that principle we should look at who our neighbor really is. Our closest neighbor is our spouse! And then the next level will be our children. After that we would consider the neighborhood including our workplace.
When our children know that they are loved and that the goal of our instruction is love that comes out of a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith they will have little trouble returning that love, honoring their parents and becoming useful citizens in society.
When we correct our children it should not be considered punishment. We don’t just want them to pay for their crime we want them to change their behavior! Rather than provoking our children to anger we have a responsibility…
Fathers — discipline. Let’s turn to Hebrews 12:9-11. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Punishment when the parent is angry leads to bad action such as spanking. Discipline, when properly applied, will lead to positive changes in behavior.
When I was growing up there was a particular pattern of discipline that our home. When I did wrong during the day my mother did not punish me she talked to me. She explained to me why what I was doing was wrong and, if it was a particular serious offense, she said wait till your father gets home. That was one of the longest most anguished period of time in my life. I knew that when my father came home he was going to back my mother up 100%. The truth is that I would rather take painful discipline from my father than have my mother talk to me about it.
I don’t think I was a particularly rebellious child but I did, a few times, require discipline to get me back on track.
Discipline was applied by my parents when I acted in a way that did not bring honor to our family. I can remember my mother saying, “That is not the way we act in our family”. We are reminded by the writer of Hebrews that God’s discipline follows the same pattern. God disciplines us for our good so that we might be holy like he is! When he disciplines us we should recognize in that discipline a pattern that we should follow in disciplining our children. God disciplines us for our good and his glory. Our human fathers should discipline with the goal of helping us to be good family members.
We should not cause our children to rebel in anger and we should not punish them in a way that does not bring about good discipline. There is a desperate need in our world today for…
Fathers — give instruction. Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
If we avoid the pitfall of our anger causing our children to be angry and we discipline them in love we will be able to train them in the way they should go. This proverb is often quoted but seldom understood. When we give our children correct training it will never be taken away from them. Sometimes well instructed children walk away from what their family is all about in their teenage years. Time may pass when they are not following our instructions. Godly training will never be forgotten and as our children mature they will come back to the training of their childhood. When we see young men and young women go off to college or to the military and we see them abandon the lifestyle they were raised in. We need to pray that they will return to the God of their fathers.
We must remember that…
Everything Is of the Lord. Let’s turn to Romans 8:28. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
We adults need to apply ourselves to the first and greatest commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). This promise is for those who love God. If we love God all things work together for good. It follows that if we do not love God there is no reason to expect things to work together for good. So the first step should be to love God with all our being and then teach our children to follow our example.
I recall many years ago after spending a couple of days with a man whose wife attended our church that I asked him, “Are you a Christian?” His reply was I know I don’t love him as much as I should. I have never known an unsaved person to be concerned with how much he loved God. God gave me the ability to lead him to salvation and he was soon baptized. He became very active in the church and even became a deacon. As he developed cancer and came to the end of his life he had his children and grandchildren come to visit him one by one and he told them “I want you to be with me in heaven” then he carefully went over the plan of salvation with each one of them.
That is a powerful illustration of a man responsibly leading his family in spiritual matters.
Children and grandchildren will respond to their treatment by their father and mother. We should never beat our children up with the Bible. Instead we should use Scripture is a tool that leads our families to love God the same way that we do.
The role of children in the family should be guided by the concept that every action in our lives should be done in Christ. It is “in the Lord” that children should obey their parents. It is “in the Lord” wives are to submit to their husbands. All believers are to be strong “in the Lord”! As we walk close to Christ we can be encouraged (Ephesians 6:1), rejoice (Philippians 3:1), agree (Philippians 4:2), live a godly life (2 Timothy 3:12), and have good behavior (1 Peter 3:16). For those who are not in the Lord all of these positive attributes of life are a struggle. For those who are in Christ these character traits — and many more — can be grown into. Have you committed your life to the Lord Jesus Christ? This can be the day!
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society

Saturday, February 18, 2017

170219 The Responsibility of Men

Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
There is no easy out for men in our world. The Bible says that we are responsible for providing spiritual leadership. That responsibility exists even when men do not act responsibly. There is a desperate need in our world today for men who will actively love their wives and children. The Bible calls on men to be understanding in regard to their wives. It is very important for men to honor their wives and encourage them to fill their place in the world. We live in such a messed up world Biblical relationships have been put on the shelf and women have been brought into situations that God did not intend.
All around us we see the single-parent families that are usually a woman and children. Very rarely do we see a situation where a man takes care of children without a woman. It is very usual for the children to each have a different father. Nothing could have been farther from God’s obvious intention of one man, one woman, in one lifetime.
Love is the standard we are measured by. Let’s turn to Colossians 3:19. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.
The Bible not only teaches that we are to love our wives but we are to be gentle with them. Not harsh nor abrasive. Throughout the Bible love is put forth as God’s standard for mankind.
Looking back at our text we see that it begins with, “Husbands, love your wives”. The most powerful force in the world is love. We are told that God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Additionally, God demonstrates his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Because God loves us we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37).
The Bible teaches us that love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). As Jesus was pouring out his final instructions to his disciples he taught them, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). I submit to you that one of the reasons the world does not recognize Christians is because many who claim the name of Christ do not act in a loving manner towards other Christians. I could easily spend the rest of the day pointing out scriptures that command us to love and act in a loving manner towards others.
When Adam and Eve broke their fellowship with God…
God certainly considered man responsible. Let’s turn to Genesis 2:15-17. The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the Garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” & Genesis 3:9. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?
We can see from these passages that God approached his creatures by speaking to Adam first. On the other hand when Eve was approached by Satan and was deceived into taking the forbidden fruit Adam was not involved in the discussion. Even though Eve had sinned first God came to Adam first and called him to account. Satan had acted to undermine the authority of the man and create a role reversal. And Satan is still active in that realm.
God ignored Satan’s actions by holding the man responsible even though the woman had been first in rebelling against God’s commands. Or at least, she had been deceived into thinking that this would not violate God’s plan. There is no doubt that the Scriptures teach that…
The man — Adam — represented the human race. Let’s look at Romans 5:12. Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned —.
When Adam was created all future humans were in his genetic makeup. Everything he did profoundly affected future generations. We inherit many things from our ancestors. Hair color, eye color, height, tendency toward a body shape, perhaps even personality types come to us from our ancestors. Many years ago when I began to look at my genealogy I discovered that these ancestors of mine were clearly related to me because of the things they did and said.
I have found a large number of people that are clearly related to me and often they look physically like they would be one of my relatives. However these are not the important things that come to us from our ancestors.
The most important thing that comes to us through inheritance is sin! Not just the tendency to sin but sin itself came into the world through one man. Along with sin came death and we have all inherited that. When Adam sinned God credited it to us. From the time of Adam to the time of Moses people did not have God’s written law yet the consequence of sin was still in them because they died. The fact that death came to all men is proof that God counted people guilty on the basis of Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12).
Today, through the study of DNA, we see that everybody descended from a common ancestor. Amazingly the scientists who discovered this by and large do not credit God with that act of creation. So they still spend millions of dollars in trying to find out where we came from when all they had to do was look at the book and read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… And God said let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:1, 26).
Many times I’ve heard the complaint that this is just unfair. Every person who complains about the unfairness of it voluntarily commits many personal sins of their own. God holds us guilty for them as well as our inherited sin debt. We need to remember that we do not deserve to have the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus! It is a gift of God given in order to offset the curse brought on by man we see that…
Jesus came into the world as a man. Let’s look at Galatians4:4-5. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
God did not drop his Son full-grown into the world instead, at the right time, God planted his seed in a woman so the curse could be broken by a God/man. Jesus was born fully human in order that several gifts of God could come to us as an inheritance. The Bible tells us that, For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). We certainly cannot earn God’s righteousness. It comes to us as a gift because of his great love for us. The writer of Hebrews tells us,  Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Hebrews 2:14-15). We may struggle with the fact that we inherited sin but at the same time we must be grateful that God, seeing our condition, sent Christ into the world to destroy the power of the devil that was imposed on mankind in the Garden of Eden.
Christ became our example so that…
A man must love his wife as Christ the church. Let’s look at Ephesians 5:28-29. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,
The words, “I love you”, need to be said often because they should reflect the foundation marriage is built upon. However, too often those words are not backed up by actions. There are many ways that a man can show his wife that he loves her. We have just passed a week that includes Valentine’s Day and all kinds of pressure is on to produce flowers, jewelry and chocolate. All of those are things that can be bought but do not necessarily prove real love.
How does a man go about showing his wife that he loves her? In my experience there are many little things that prove the existence of love. Holding the door for her, holding her chair, holding her, are all evidences of the existence of love. Suppose it were a crime to love your wife? All of this is simply human activity and can be used as evidence. In looking at your day-to-day activities is there enough evidence to convict you men of love for your wife in a court of law? When compared to other men we should show evidence of loving our wives. However the Bible doesn’t compare us to each other it compares us to Christ. God demonstrates his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). There are many evidences of Christ’s love before the cross. He came into the world, from heaven, as a human baby! In his humanity he went through all of the normal human developmental activities. He had to learn to sit up, crawl, walk and run. He had to learn to speak just as we did. He had to submit to his parents. In all of this he was fully human and at the same time fully God. Even during his ministry he lived a life of poverty. He himself said that the foxes had holes and birds of the air have nests but he had no place to lay his head (Luke 9:58).
These activities of Jesus were all acts of love. What can I compare that to in our human existence? Take out the garbage! Do the necessary yardwork! Clear the snow off her car! Warm it up for her before you leave! Pick up your socks and when necessary do the laundry and prepare the meals. All of these things are day-to-day dying to yourself for her. Jesus’ final evidence of his love for us is shown in his dying for us.
In marriage…
There comes about a new union. Let’s look at Ephesians 5:30-31. Because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
When God created man in his own image he did not create isolated individuals and leave them to find their own way. He created them male and female so that they could reproduce and carry on the race. God intended from the beginning that one man should be linked to one woman for one lifetime. A man and woman are to be bound together in such a way that they seem to be one person. There should be such a unity in marriage that it compares favorably to God the Father’s unity with God the Son. Paul concluded with these words found in Ephesians 5:32-33. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
As we look around us and see the breakdown of families much of the responsibility for that breakdown lies at the feet of men. I almost said “the man in the family”. But actually, too often, it is the man who is not in the family. It is sad to see children being raised in a single-parent home and usually that single-parent is the mother. Following the course of this world, that mother was deceived into a sexual relationship that she was not ready for and produced children that she was not ready for. The only thing that can be commended in that situation is the obvious fact that the baby was not killed in the womb. We need men to stand up and take responsibility. They will do that far better if they have repented of their sin and have placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not too late for those fathers to “man up”! Pray for them that they will surrender to Christ and lead their family.
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society