Sunday, August 24, 2014

Family Trio: Triplets of Parenting

In its simplest form, the family as God designed it is a trio consisting of mother, father, and child, reflecting His Triune nature. Not surprisingly, advice in His Word about parenting also occurs in patterns of three.

God urges parents to remind themselves, their children, and their grandchildren of His faithfulness by remembering all His wonderful works. Hearing God’s Word leads us to fear Him, to live long and abundantly, and to teach our children to do the same (Deuteronomy 4:9-10).

The fear His Word instills in us and in our offspring is respect for His power, which is the beginning of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding (Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; 15:33). That fear of the Lord is a treasure giving us stability in changing and challenging times and the strength of our salvation (Isaiah 33:6). When we and our children fear the Lord, His Spirit will rest upon us, giving us the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, [and] the spirit of knowledge (Isaiah 11:2).

Parents are to love God with our whole being -- with all our heart, soul and strength – and to teach our child to love God and His Word as part of our daily routine. We are to teach our child diligently, no matter whether we are at home or away from home, and at all times, whether getting up in the morning or going to bed at night. Our whole body should keep His Word, including our heart, hands, and eyes (Deuteronomy 6:5-7; 11:18), to help keep us from sin (Psalm 119:11).

Teaching our children about God and His Word is primarily the responsibility of the parents, not that of the school or even the church. However, families that attend a Bible-believing church that begins teaching Scripture at an early age will have their own teaching reinforced. As the saying goes, “Teach your child to love God, or the world will teach him not to.” God commands the father to make His truth known to the children (Isaiah 38:19).

If parents use God’s Word to illuminate our path (Psalm 119:105), it will lead us to follow His commandments, statutes, and judgments (Deuteronomy 7:11). We are not only to hear His Word, but to study it and do what it says (Deuteronomy 7:12; James 1:22). If we do this, He will love, bless and multiply us, blessing our children, our harvest, and our livestock. He will provide bountifully for all of us with corn, wine and oil (Deuteronomy 7:13).

If we trust Christ, our children are more likely to follow our example and be saved. Parents who are born again (John 3:3-8) by realizing we are sinners in need of a Savior, and by our belief in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6) are living proof of faith.

Timothy’s faith was a legacy passed down through three generations, from his grandmother Lois to his mother Eunice, and then to Timothy. Even though Timothy had to trust God through his own faith, the Godly atmosphere in which he grew up made that more likely by leading and strengthening him and encouraging him to grow spiritually (2 Timothy 3:15).

If we are saved, we set a good example for our children to follow. In his sermon at Pentecost, Peter promised salvation to whomever the Lord would call -- his listeners, their children, and even those far away (Acts 2:39).

Zacchaeus, the dishonest tax collector sought out by Jesus, hurried to comply with Jesus’ wish to visit him, came down from his perch high in the tree (swallowed his pride), and received Jesus joyfully. As a result, Jesus said that salvation had come to his house (Luke 19:5-10).

Once the father is saved, his children are more likely to observe, emulate and internalize that faith, although it is no guarantee they will be saved. Each child must come to his own repentance of sin, need of a Savior, and spiritual rebirth. God is the perfect Parent, and yet Adam and Eve disobeyed Him (Genesis 3:6). (In this case, the family trio was not two parents and one child, but One Father and two children).

God had clearly told them what they could do (eat the fruit of every tree but one), what they must not do (eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil), and what would happen if they disobeyed (they would die). (Genesis 2:16-17). This is the perfect example of stating expectations, setting limits, and warning about expected outcomes that we should follow with our children.

In today’s society, there seems to be a trend for parents to want to be their child’s peer, buddy, or playmate, rather than the one in authority. This is clearly not Biblical. Children are to honor (respect and obey) their father and mother, because God has commanded it; because it will lengthen their life; and because they will fare better in life (Deuteronomy 5:16; Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:2-3, etc.).

So let us be parents, and not chums, by disciplining our children in love when needed. It is not loving to avoid physical discipline when it is needed to protect them (Proverbs 13:24). Discipline should never be done in anger, but to encourage children in the nurture (loving care) and admonition (warning against evil) of the Lord (Colossians 3:20-21; Ephesians 6:4).

May we pray for our children as Jesus Himself prayed for us (John 17). He identifies us as God’s children because we receive the words which Jesus (through His Word and His Spirit) gave us, we know that Jesus came from the Father, and we believe that God the Father sent Jesus the Son to this earth to save us (v. 8). We belong to the Father, and we belong to Jesus, and He is glorified in us (v. 9-10). Jesus prayed that we would be kept in the Father’s Name, that the Father would keep us from the evil in the world, and that the Father would sanctify us through His truth (v. 11,15,17).

May we pray this prayer for ourselves, for our children, and for generations to follow, anticipating great blessings, as we shall see next week!

© 2014 Laurie Collett
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Monday, August 18, 2014

Triplets of Salvation: Renew

Periodically all of us have to renew legal documents, whether for employment contracts, passports, or even a driver’s license. In each case, the privilege of working, traveling, or driving has to be re-evaluated and updated to reflect life changes since the previous document. 

These may include new responsibilities, training, or benefits related to the job; aging necessitating a new photo on the passport for accurate identification; or the need for corrective lenses, use of a specially equipped vehicle, or the wish to be an organ donor annotated on the license.

But my favorite sense of “renew” is that offered by MerriamWebster: “to make (something) new, fresh, or strong again; to make (a promise, vow, etc.) again; to begin (something) again especially with more force or enthusiasm.”

That is the spirit in which couples renew their wedding vows, promising once more to spend the remainder of their lives with one another. They vow again to be faithful to one another, loving and supporting one another in sickness, health, and all life circumstances, until death parts them (Matthew 19:3-9; Mark 10:2-12), if only temporarily in the case of couples who are born-again Christians (John 3:16; 11:25-26). The renewal is not only a repetition of the original vow, but a desire to recapture the joy, vigor, and excitement of newlyweds, yet tempered by the maturity, wisdom and strength of two lives shared together as one (Ephesians 5:22-31).

The church, or body of believers in Jesus Christ, is His bride (Revelation 21:2; Matthew 9:15; 21:1-10), so why should we not periodically renew our vow to love, follow, and obey Him? Sometimes those who feel they have drifted away from God’s will “rededicate their lives to the Lord” at the altar. But even for those who try to “die daily” to our sin nature (1 Corinthians 15:31) so that we can yield to His Spirit, what better way to start each day than by renewing our commitment to Him?

As we have seen, triplets of salvation in Scripture can be described with the terms redeem, restore, and renew, with the terms used literally as well as symbolically. In the literal sense, “renew” in the Bible means to take something up again, such as the kingdom renewed by Samuel at Gilgal (1 Samuel 11:14), or Asa renewing the Lord’s altar in a land polluted by idols (2 Chronicles 15:8).

In his tirade questioning God, Job says that witnesses are renewed against him, or accusing him again (Job 10:17), but then he remembers his glory days when his bow was renewed in his hand (Job 29:20).

Physical renewal in the sense of regaining the strength of youth (Isaiah 41:1; Lamentations 5:21) can be likened to the lofty flight of an eagle, soaring not in our own power but on the powerful wind of the Holy Spirit. If we wait upon the Lord to renew our strength, we shall mount up with wings as eagles; we shall run and not be weary; and we shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).

The Psalmist speaks not only of physical renewal but also of spiritual renewal when he writes (Psalm 103: 2-5) that if we bless God, He will renew our youth like the eagle's, heal all our diseases, and satisfy our mouth with good things. Spiritually, He forgives all our sins; redeems our life from destruction; and crowns us with loving kindness and tender mercies.

Paul speaks of spiritual renewal of our inward man, yielded to the Holy Spirit and thus being renewed every day, despite the inevitable effects of aging, disease, and injury to our physical body (2 Corinthians 4:16). We believe, or have faith, because we have read and heard God’s Word and testimonies of believers (v. 13) that God raised Jesus from the dead, that He shall raise believers from the dead, and that He shall present all believers to Himself  (v. 14).

We thank God for His abundant grace, to His glory (v. 15). If we focus on eternal things, our temporary physical suffering will bring forth eternal glory (v. 17-18). By keeping our eyes fixed on those things of eternal significance, we can renew our mind in the spiritual sense, which will transform us, so that we are not conformed to the world (Romans 12:2). In so doing, we can present our bodies to God as a living, holy, and acceptable sacrifice (Romans 12:1).

Being renewed in the spirit of our mind (Psalm 51:10) means putting on the new man, which the Holy Spirit creates within us, resembling Him in righteousness and true holiness. To do this, we must take off or lay aside the old man, which is corrupt because of deceitful lusts (Ephesians 4:21-24; Colossians 3: 9-10).

The new man has his identity in Christ, free of national labels, religious customs, or servitude because he is God’s chosen, holy and beloved (v. 11-12). In this state we should renew ourselves and one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, doing all to the glory of the Lord Jesus, God (Spirit) and the Father (v. 16-17).

Not only does God renew His children who are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) with new compassions every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23), but He will also renew, restore and regenerate the heavens, the earth, and His Kingdom (Matthew 17:11; 19:28; Mark 9:12; Acts 1:6; 3:21; Ephesians 1:10; Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1-5).

Praise God that He renews us as we are born again, that He renews His children physically and spiritually, and that we can eagerly await His renewal of the heavens, earth and His kingdom!

Revelation 21:5 …Behold, I make all things new.

© 2014 Laurie Collett
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