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

Your Life Matters to God

Daily Devotional: Day 158

“And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation . . . And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow” (Genesis 21:17-18, 20, ESV).

 I once met a young woman who shared with me and others the story of how she was born. Let’s call her ‘Jane.’ Her mother had taken steps not to have a baby, resorting to a contraceptive method that was known for its near-perfect success rate. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on whose side you take), unbeknownst to her, there was a hitch. Consequently, the woman later found out that she was pregnant. Thankfully, she didn’t abort. And, that’s how baby ‘Jane’ landed on planet Earth.

Today’s Scripture passage tells the story of Ishmael. Unable to conceive, Sarah urged Abraham to give her a child by having relations with her servant, Hagar. Abraham did. However, when Hagar became pregnant, she used that as an occasion to despise Sarah. Consequently, Sarah had the pregnant Hagar kicked out of Abraham’s house. By the intervention of an angel of God, Hagar returned to Sarah. But the tension didn’t end there. Ishmael was born; and later, Isaac. Sarah wouldn’t entertain the presence of Ishmael due to inheritance issues; so, for the second time, Hagar and her son were driven out of Abraham’s house; this time, for good. Abraham grieved over this matter, but he had to let Ishmael go.

Ishmael was conceived under unusual circumstances. He wasn’t the ideal child Sarah wanted. He came into the picture because Sarah thought she had run out of options. In a sense, Ishmael was the ‘PLAN B’ child. Even as a child, Ishmael had the bitter experience of being separated from his father as well as from Isaac, his half-brother. Ishmael became the ‘unwanted’ child born out of necessity and disposed of when his presence was deemed inconvenient. He was the innocent casualty of the drama in Abraham’s household. But thankfully, the God of Abraham is the Father of the unwanted, who welcomes the rejected, who gives hope to the hopeless, and who turns our mourning into dancing (cf. Psalm 30:11). He didn’t forget Ishmael. He blessed the boy and made him into a great nation. Later, Ishmael became an archer, an expert with the bow.

We all have different beginnings and different stories about how we got here. Your existence is not a mistake. Regardless of the circumstances of your birth or childhood, your life is not a mistake. People may have treated you in the past as something disposable or expendable. Don’t worry. You matter to God, and He has wonderful plans for you. How you got here shouldn’t be your problem. What matters is, you’re here; and where you go from here should be your focus. Don’t focus on those who don’t want you around; focus on the loving and faithful Father who wants you and wants to do great things with you. He was there for Ishmael. He will be there for you, too.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you. Amen.

For further study: Luke 1:59-80

The Price of Indiscipline

Daily Devotional: Day 138

“In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them” (1 Samuel 3:12-13, NKJV).

Today’s Scripture is about what God told young Samuel concerning the house of Eli. Eli was a high-priest and judge over Israel. He was based in Shiloh. He had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas – who served as priests under their father. The Bible tells us that these two sons of Eli were corrupt (cf. 1 Samuel 2:12). They habitually committed acts of blasphemy regarding the holy offerings and sacrifices brought to the Lord. As they grew bolder in their sin, Hophni and Phinehas even began to sleep with the women who came to the tabernacle of meeting. Eli knew about the sins of his children, and he did rebuke them. However, Eli’s response to his children’s rebellion did not go far enough. The Lord, therefore, intervened and proclaimed judgement upon Eli and his house.

Where did Eli do wrong? It’s not about what he did; it’s about what he failed to do. Eli knew about what his sons did. But as today’s Scripture tells us, he did not restrain them. Eli warned them about the seriousness of their actions, but his sons did not change. Warning is not the same as restraining. Warning your children about evil or misconduct is not a bad idea; but at times warning or advising alone won’t fix the problem. In that case God expects something beyond warning; He expects decisive discipline which addresses the problem at the root. God expected Eli to do more than just warn his sons; after all, his sons were working under his authority, which gave him several options to deal with their rebellion once and for all. For example, the least he could have done to end the ongoing blasphemy was to permanently remove his sons from the priestly office. But he didn’t. Therefore, the Lord chided Eli for honoring his sons more than God (cf. 1 Samuel 2:29).

Being a parent is a blessing. But it a blessing that comes with the sacred responsibility to raise our children to fear God and eschew evil. What happened to Eli and his sons is recorded in the Bible to serve as an example for us (parents, teachers, and all who exercise care and authority over children). If we allow our children to grow rebellious, corrupt or ungodly on our watch, we will not escape judgment. Today, disobedience and rebellion against parents (and against authority in general) is on the rise. Part of the problem can be attributed to the failure of parents to instill discipline in children when they are little. Some parents, like Eli, honor their children more than they honor God. Many children today are spoiled because they are pampered and treated as princes and princesses who, for the most part, are untouchable. But the truth is, uncompromising discipline is one of the best things we can do for our children. A disciplined child is a blessing to the home, the church and society. Let’s save our children.

May the Lord bless parents to make a difference in today’s world. Amen.

For further study: 1 Samuel 2:12-36