Parenting: Some Bible-based Perspectives

Daily Devotional: Day 172

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6, AKJV).

Today’s message is addressed, first of all, to parents and guardians; to all who now or in the future will play some form of parental roles; and to anyone who is interested in some Bible-based perspectives on parenting. Proverbs 22:6 assumes that parents know the way the child should go; for you can only lead others on a path with which you are familiar.

Train your child, your way – the Bible way. Give children the knowledge of God. Put the fear of God in them when they’re little. They need it, even if they don’t want it. Train them, not only to love God, but also to fear Him. If anyone loves God, they will fear Him also. If they fear God, it means they love Him. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (cf. Proverbs 9:10). A child who fears God will most likely fear his parents, and vice versa. In Leviticus 19:3, God commands everyone to fear his mother, and his father.

Make time to train your own child. Don’t leave the education of your child to HollywoodDisneyvideo games or the Government. Today’s world is aggressive on all fronts. Even adults are stumbling. Therefore, you can’t afford to leave things to chance and hope that children will magically turn out alright. Children deserve to be adequately prepared to face and overcome the pressures of this world.

Don’t compromise on discipline. God is a Parent and He doesn’t compromise on discipline (cf. Deuteronomy 8:5). Neither should you. Children will test you. If you compromise on discipline once, the game is over. They’ve won. Compromise projects weakness. Children will notice it, and they will use it against you by habitually resisting you. Maintain your integrity and authority as a parent. Care for children, love them, protect them, provide for them; but be firm. Love your child, but don’t let your love cloud your judgment.

An undisciplined child is a danger to himself and others; but a disciplined child is an inspiration. Don’t just talk about discipline; enforce discipline. The most valuable thing you can bequeath to your children is neither a house, nor money, nor a car; but rather, godly discipline. Open their eyes to the lies and deceptions of this world. Show them the truths they need to be successful. Successful parenting is a catalyst for a sound Church and a healthy society.

Fear not. Being a parent is an honor. It gives you the opportunity to raise another human being. This makes you a Minister of God. In churches, there’s a ministry for nearly everything: children’s ministry, choreography, music ministry, youth ministry, women’s ministry, men’s ministry, singles’ ministry, etc. But parenting as a ministry is often overlooked. Parenting is a divine calling and a ministry. If you do it well, our heavenly Father will greatly reward you.

True, this world doesn’t make it easy to be a parent, but with God you can do all things. And, He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Have courage. Be loving. Be fearless. Be the parent God ordained you to be.

May the Lord remember your labor of love and greatly bless you. Amen.

For further study: Hebrews 12:1-13

 

How to Live Long and Prosper

Daily Devotional: Day 163

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-2, NKJV).

Once a child, always a child. In other words, you’re always somebody’s child. No matter how old or independent you are, you always will be someone’s child. Similarly, once a parent, always a parent. Whether your children are around or not, your status as a parent remains a permanent fact of human history. The bond between parent and child is precious to God; for God Himself is a Parent and the Source of all life. God, therefore, pays special attention to the parent-child relationship. Today’s message will focus on what God wants children to do for their parents. As usual, look carefully at today’s opening Scripture; there’s a lot going on the passage.

Honoring your father and mother is so important to God that He included it in the Ten Commandments (cf. Deuteronomy 5:16). In the New Testament, Jesus reiterated it (cf. Mark 10:17-19); so did Paul – as you can see in today’s reading. Speaking to the Christians in Ephesus, Paul says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” The context suggests that he is addressing children who are still under the care of their parents. Notice that the command is for children to obey their parents in the Lord. It’s an important qualification, because when we become Christians, we’re supposed to do all things (good things, of course) in the Lord and for His sake. Love for Christ motivates us to do what pleases Him, including obeying our parents. Paul adds, “for this is right.” The life of a Christian is about doing what is right, i.e. practicing righteousness. Obeying our parents is the right thing to do, therefore, we do it. And, when we do what is right, we’re showing that we are righteous people (cf. 1 John 3:7).

“Honor your father and mother” means obey your parents, respect them and show them reverence. It means you serve them; you provide for their welfare; it also means you don’t quarrel or fight with them; you don’t talk back to them or talk down to them; you don’t raise your voice against them or give them attitude. God hates disrespectful attitude toward parents. How you treat your parents says a lot about the authenticity of your relationship with Jesus. If you love Jesus, you’ll do what He tells you. Regardless of how insufferable you think your parents are, God wants you to always uphold honor and respect. You may not like something about your parents, but they’re your parents; and, so long as they remain alive, Jesus wants you to honor them. If you have a problem with them, look for ways to handle it while maintaining a posture of respect and honor.

Furthermore, “Honor your father and mother,” is the first commandment with a promise attached to it. If you honor your parents, God promises that it will be well with you (meaning, you will prosper) and you will live long on the earth. See, God has given you the key to prosperity and long life. He is not asking you to go on a diet or go to the gym. All He is telling you to do is to honor your parents. Do you want it to be well with you? If yes, then honor your parents. Do you want to live long on earth? If yes, then honor your parents.

May the Lord let His face shine upon you and your family today! Amen.

For further study: Luke 2:41-52

Did Jesus Teach Conditional Forgiveness?

Daily Devotional: Day 129

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:25-26, NKJV).

Today’s Scripture is a puzzle to many a Christian. Did Jesus really mean what He said? We received forgiveness for all our sins during our new birth, right? So, do Jesus’ words apply to us? If I stand in God’s presence to pray, and for some reason I don’t forgive those who have offended me, is Jesus saying God will not forgive me? Is Jesus saying that God’s forgiveness is conditional? Wait, I thought God’s love was unconditional.

Some find today’s Scripture text somewhat ‘incompatible’ with the grace of the New Covenant; therefore, they either ignore it or explain it away. They basically believe that Christians are exempt from what Jesus is saying. But should Christians think the above Scripture doesn’t apply to them?

To arrive at a sound conclusion, let us look at the Scripture one more time. Notice that there is no ambiguity in what Jesus is saying. He is not telling a parable; nor is He using a figure of speech. He does not insert an exemption clause that says, “What I am teaching applies to everyone, except Christians.” His words are as plain and direct as they can get. The hard truth is this: Jesus is teaching that the Father’s forgiveness is conditional. If you forgive, you will be forgiven. If you refuse to forgive others their trespasses, the Father, being a God of justice, will not forgive you, either. I know this goes against much of what we’ve been told in churches, but we do not have the liberty to overrule Jesus’ teaching. He meant exactly what He said, so we will do well to take Him seriously.

In fact, if there is a group of people to whom Jesus’ words apply the most, it is us Christians. Why? Because we have been forgiven much; we have received grace upon grace (cf. John 1:16); we have been justified freely through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (cf. Romans 3:23-24). Therefore, we, of all the people in the world, have no excuse to hold anything against someone.

Anyone who is born again will have no issue whatsoever with Jesus’ statement. When you are born of God, forgiving people from your heart comes natural to you. You forgive without even thinking much about it. Your heart is always free from harboring  grudge, bitterness and unforgiveness. The secret is the love of God which has been shed abroad in our hearts (cf. Romans 5:5). With this kind of divine love in your heart, there is no offense you cannot forgive; and there is no bitterness or hurt you cannot overcome. Forgiveness is simpler than we think. Let us be like our Father in heaven: merciful and forgiving.

May the Lord let His face shine upon you today! Amen.

For further study: Matthew 18:21-35

Home of Glory

Daily Devotional: Day 122

Jesus answered and said to him [Judas], “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23, NKJV).

Every normal person goes where he knows he is welcome and accepted. It is the same with God. Jesus and His Father go where they are obeyedloved, and welcome. They don’t just move in with anyone. That is what Jesus is saying to us today. There is only one way to show Jesus that you love Him: by keeping His word, i.e. by doing what He tells you. Jesus adds that if you do this, the Father will love you. And both the Father and the Son will come to you and they shall make Their home with you. Blessed indeed are you if Almighty God and His Son make Their home with you! But this moving in of God has conditions attached to it, as Jesus tells us in the passage. God will not make His home with you if you don’t want that arrangement. Jesus’ message is precise. Therefore, let’s talk about some of its essential aspects.

If you pay attention to Jesus’ words, you’ll notice He doesn’t say that He and the Father will visit you. They are not planning on a visit. Nor are they planning on checking in at your hotel and leave upon completion of their stay. Rather, they are planning on taking up residence with you. They are coming to settle with you – in perpetuity. This is the highest form of intimacy and fellowship with God you can dream of on this earth. Imagine the blessings that will flow from this intimacy. Nothing beats it. 

Next, Jesus says He and the Father will make their home with you. This means they are not planning on being your guests. They are moving in to take over. Henceforth, it shall be their home. They are not coming to rent a room in your house. They will not be tenants in your home. No, they will bring their home to you. They shall be the Host and you shall be the guest. In modern parlance, they shall run the show.

Consequently, you will voluntarily relinquish any, and all, control. They will set the ground rules and dictate the terms of their stay with you. Sin, ungodliness and disobedience shall not be welcome in the home. Only love, holiness and obedience shall be welcome. The Father and the Son shall protect and provide for the home and fill it with the sweet fragrance of their divine presence. They shall love you, teach you, train you, develop you, grant you deeper access to their heart, and mold you into the very image of Christ. This life of fellowship shall be unto you a foretaste of heavenly glory.

 If you have read and agreed to the terms and conditions of the Father and His Son coming to make their home with you, you’ve made the right decision. Enjoy heaven on earth!

Pray to the Father about today’s message.

For further study: 1 John 2:1-29

Be Unmoved

Daily Devotional: Day 44

“I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved” (Psalm 16:8, KJV).

Today’s Bible verse is taken from Psalm 16, which contains prophecies about the Messiah and his resurrection. On the day of Pentecost, Peter quoted form this Psalm to confirm its fulfillment in the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:24-28).  The Bible says that Jesus always set the LORD – his Father- before him. This means he kept his focus on the Father and never took his eyes off him. Jesus always saw his Father by his side, and because of this, he was not moved. He knew that his death wouldn’t be his end. He knew that his enemies wouldn’t have the final say. Keeping his eyes on his Father gave him strength to carry out his mission to die for our sins and be raised from the dead. Jesus faced many troubles in his life: rejection, death threats, slander, betrayal, misunderstanding, and persecution. Yet, he was not moved. He confronted Satan, death and hell, and rose from the dead victorious. His secret, the Bible tells us, was that that he never took his eyes off his Father. This is what Psalm 16 celebrates, and it’s what Peter brought to the attention of the crowd that listened to him on the day of Pentecost.

Your faith is only as strong as your focus on your Father in heaven. This sounds simple, and it is; but setting the Lord always before you doesn’t come automatically. You must be intentional about it. A lot of things in life fight for your attention, but you must decide what you set before you. Whatever matters to you the most, that’s what you’ll set before you. And whatever you set before you, will make your faith stronger or weaker. Yes, troubles, persecutions and afflictions may come your way. We don’t live in a perfect world, so don’t expect to get your way all the time. What matters is how you deal with hardship.

As a Christian, the key to maintaining your peace and confidence is to set the LORD always before. God didn’t promise that you’ll never suffer, but he did promise that he’ll neither leave you nor abandon you (Read Hebrews 13:5-6).  So long as the Father is at your right hand, you shall overcome. Setting God before you isn’t burdensome. In fact, it’s liberating; it’s the essence of lasting peace and joyful confidence. When you fall in love with your Father in heaven, it’ll become natural for you to always have him in your mind and on your heart. Don’t make the mistake of setting your fears and problems before you. Learn from Jesus. Lock eyes with your Father in heaven, and you shall be unmoved.

Pray:

Daddy, you stood by Jesus and gave him strength to accomplish his mission. Grant me the revelation to know that you’re always with me. No matter what I go through, I shall not be moved because you’re my Rock and my salvation. I thank you for hearing me. In the Name of Jesus. Amen. 

For further study: Psalm 46:1-11