Tags: Biblical chastening, chastening, chastisement, God's wrath, Heman, prayer, prayer in suffering, propitiation, Psalm 88, wrath of God
In Psalm 88 Heman prayed openly. He prayed obstinately. And he prayed obnoxiously. Note some of the broad generalizations he used, and the self-centered assumption that God was doing His absolute worst to Heman:
For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.
“Full?” We often feel this way when we are in extreme distress, but this is an exaggeration that attempts to disguise the fact that God truly sees to the very depths of our soul.
Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.
“The lowest?” No matter how low we may feel, the pit of anguish in which we languish is far shallower, by God’s grace, than the one we deserve, apart from Him.
Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted [me] with all thy waves.
“All Thy waves?” No, not a one of us, from the strongest to the most faithful to the most affliction-hardened, could withstand one instant under the full tide of God’s wrathful surf. We would be obliterated. Only Christ could, and has, experienced this type of wrath in our place.
Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.
What Heman was truly experiencing was not the “fierce wrath” of God. What he was actually experiencing was the chastisement of His loving God, which, although no doubt severe, is done out of kindness, with the goal of correction, the way a good father disciplines his son, not out of petty anger, frustration, or perverse joy, but with the intention that the son may benefit, grow, and learn – not be “cut off.”
That Heman’s feelings, although sincere, were not valid in their extremity, is evidenced by the fact that He was still given grace to pray, and that he had the consolation of knowing that the Master of the Universe was listening.
Next time we will see that Heman also prayed obstetrically.
Tags: 1 John 4, Biblical Parenting, Christian parenting, Genesis 8, Psalm 51, Psalm 58, Romans 14, sin, sinfulness of man, total depravity
As Christian parents we must talk to our children about some hard truths and difficult subjects that are page one headline material in the Bible, even though it might be tempting to shield our children from these truths when they are very young. The temptation is there because, in our sentimentalism and worldly conception of “love,” we do not relish the idea of giving them information that might make them uncomfortable. However, they need to know, understand, and believe that:
1. You are not a good kid.
According to the Bible, children come into the world as simple, but not virtuous. They are ignorant, but not innocent. As parents we don’t want them to be “wise” ABOUT sin, but we do want them to be humbled by the truth that they ARE sinners.
Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth. The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.
We think of using these verses about wickedness when witnessing to strangers (and we should), but look at Psalm 58:1 and see to whom they are addressed: “the congregation” (which would include the children of God’s covenant people).
The Bible makes it clear that children are not exempt from the classification of “wicked sinners.”
Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.
Why is it so important for our children to understand that they are not inherently “good?” Because we want them to be looking for a Savior, not a participation trophy. We want them to humble themselves in the sight of the Lord, not to hear that they have something about which to be proud. We, as their parents, are charged with the task of utterly convincing them of the absolutely supremacy of God.
For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
As a Christian father, I do not want the children that God has entrusted to my care to have self-esteem; I want them to have “God esteem.” I do not want them to have self-worth; I want them to recognize God’s worth. Children will not naturally want to admit they are evil, but it’s true. They are not basically good – they are basically evil – just like Dad and Mom. They will love God more truly and deeply when they understand that they themselves are not the initiators, nor the instigators, of God’s love for them. We ONLY love God because He first loved us. And He ONLY loves us because He is love.
Next time we will face another difficult truth for children.
Tags: Biblical evangelism, Biblical farming, Ephesians 6, evangelism, farming, Jesus Christ, Luke 12, night watchmen, parable of the wise steward, watchfulness
Usually when we see the word “watching” in the Bible it refers to something more than just idly looking at something. It typically has the connotation that we think of in connection with a night “watchman,” someone who is actively trying to stay alert, awake, and on guard, keeping a lookout for some sign that could mean either trouble or glad tidings.
Because the Bible sometimes uses the metaphor of farming in connection with Biblical evangelism, we have already noted that good farmers are concerned with planting, watering, and weeding. It would be nearly unthinkable to imagine a farmer, whose livelihood depended on a successful harvest, planting with care, watering diligently, pulling up weeds with zealous regularity, but failing to keep an eye on his crop, being oblivious to harmful insects, marauders, bad weather on the horizon, or sundry other forms of trouble that might befall his fields of produce. Therefore, we might apply the same principle to evangelism.
Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
Luke 12:35-40 (emphasis added)
No one likes to get caught loafing. Because the Lord has given us a serious responsibility, and because we know the time to accomplish it is limited, and because we know that the day of accounting could come unexpectedly, we need to be serving Him faithfully, diligently, actively, obediently, and warily.
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Ephesians 6:18 (emphasis added)
We do well to pray, but our custom of praying with our eyes closed must not be a hindrance to our engagement in the reality of spiritual warfare.
Faithful farmers hope that God sends rain, protection, and favorable conditions, but they also know that He expects them to be on guard, prepared to spring into action at the first signs of infestation, unexpected trouble, or the ripeness that means it’s time to harvest.
Tags: Biblical Parenting, Biblical parents, Christian parenting, Christian parents, Deuteronomy 6, God's supremacy, Kingdom of God, Luke 2, Psalm 78
God’s kingdom will never merge with this world’s kingdom. God’s kingdom is already far greater than any kingdom of this world, and God’s kingdom will one day overcome this world in a very visible way. As Christian parents we want our children to start, from as young an age as possible, thinking more about God’s kingdom than this world’s kingdom.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
“In thine house” means during casual times of conversation, including play and relaxation, but also during formal times of family worship. “By the way” means outdoors, but also in social settings and commercial transactions. “When thou liest down” means a review of the day’s activities, events, and lessons, including the expressing of gratitude and confession of sins. “When thou risest up” means prioritizing God (demonstrating our conviction of His supremacy), in addition to consciously consecrating our bodies and that day’s planned activities to Him.
Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.
Psalm 78:1-4 (emphasis on Verse 4)
We should glean spiritual truths from redemptive history and use them as teaching tools for our children.
Furthermore, we need to be training our children to grow mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
Notice the order: God and then man. Here are some areas and activities where we can talk to our chldren, and teach them about the importance of that order:
I. Look for examples in nature and daily life
II. Talk about what happened in church
C. Lord’s Supper
III. Rehearse history lessons with them
A. The history recorded in the Bible (redemptive history)
B. Church history
C. Personal history
1. Your ancestors’ personal histories
2. Your own personal history
3. Their personal history
Tags: 1 Timothy 5, church family, church membership, church ministry, Ephesians 2, family obligations, Galatians 6, household of faith, household of God, the local church
Christians should be well aware that they are supposed to love their neighbors as themselves. So, when we see someone hurting or someone with a need, we are to fight our “natural” instinct to look out for number one, and instead make a genuine effort to help the other person (our “neighbor“) even if it means sacrificing our own comfort.
However, it is also true that, in a world where suffering and neediness is so plentiful, we are allowed and encouraged to place a special emphasis and attention on the needs of our family.
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
Your “household” is your family and those who live under your roof. The “household of faith” refers to those who are related to you as brothers and sisters in Christ, especially the fellow members of the local church to which you belong. We have a relationship of shared faith in Christ. We are to be on the lookout for opportunities to minister to Him by serving those who have like faith and are ministering alongside us.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
Not only are we of the same “household” as part of a church family, but we are members of God’s household, having been brought into His family by both “birth” (the second birth of regeneration) and adoption. We willingly and lovingly minister to “strangers” (those who seem alien to us in our everyday experience of life) and to “foreigners” (those we may commonly encounter, but who do not seem to “belong” to the family of faith). We are like ambassadors: hailing from another country (citizens of Heaven), but also representing a benevolent and generous King, Who would have us accurately represent Him in this temporary, and sometimes hostile, world.
But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
I Timothy 5:8
Finally, while we are to care for outsiders, and focus on the needs of our spiritual family members, we must not forget our blood relations. Parents must not use “church ministry” as an excuse for neglecting their children. Children must honor and respect their parents even when they perceive that the parents are lacking in spiritual maturity. Families must care for, and attend to, their elderly family members.
In every sense, the “household of God” is truly a “family of faith.”
Here are the the previous posts in this series:
1. Especially the Family (Galatians 6:10)
2. Becoming Part of the Family
3. Family Responsibilities (Galatians 6:10)
4. Family Privileges (Ephesians 2:12, 19)
5. The Privilege of Patriotism
6. The Privilege of Participation
7. The Privilege of Protection
8. The Privilege of Provision (Philippians 4:19)
Tags: citizenship, family of faith, family of God, household of faith, Philippians 4
The citizens of earthly nations pay taxes so that needs will be met; the citizens of God’s family have their REAL needs provided for by God according to His riches in glory in Christ.
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Citizenship in an earthly nation is supposed to provide safety and acceptance; citizenship in God’s nation and family provides a home and unseverable relationships (although fellowship may be tested, strained, and even broken).
Tags: 2 Timothy 3, Ephesians 6, family of faith, family of God, household of faith, sound doctrine, spiritual warfare, Titus 1
Citizens of an earthly nation sometimes have to fight for their nation. Citizens of God’s nation and family get to fight in a spiritual war for their nation.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Why is fighting a privilege? Because we know we’re going to win.
Citizens of an earthly nation must protect the principles on which their nation is founded. Citizens of God’s nation and family get to protect sound doctrine.
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
Next time: the privilege of provision.
Tags: 1 Thessalonians 5, 1 Timothy 3, church family, deacons, family of faith, family of God, household of faith, Matthew 18, servant leaders, servant leadership
Just as citizens of an earthly nation ought to have the privilege of voting, so the citizens of God’s nation and family get to have a say-so (subject to the sovereign commands of Scripture, of course) in the direction and the condition of God’s family.
Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Just as citizens of an earthly nation get the opportunity to serve in government, so the citizens of God’s nation and family get to seek positions of servant leadership.
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
I Timothy 3:1
For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
I Timothy 3:13
Just as the citizens of an earthly nation are registered with the government in some type of official record-keeping, so the citizens of God’s nation and family get to keep track of what’s going on in each other’s lives.
And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;
I Thessalonians 5:12
Next time: the privilege of protection.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 3, church planting, commentary on Matthew, evangelism, Hebrews 12, Matthew 13, soulwinning, soulwinning training, Sunday School lessons on Matthew, tips for soulwinning
One aspect that tends to be overlooked, though, is the principle of “weeding.” Sometimes the seed of the Gospel can be planted, but thorny weeds tend to choke out growth before strong and true roots can be established.
And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
Jesus warned us not to treat professing brothers and sisters in the faith as though they need to be pulled up and thrown out like weeds masquerading as fruitful plants, even if we suspect they may be false professors, although certainly God knows those who are truly His and will sort them out at the proper time.
Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
When it comes to pulling things up by the roots, we need to be mainly focused on our own hearts, because the weed of bitterness can easily spring up before we realize it, and it will serve not only as a an obstacle across our own path, but it will cause others to stumble and fall, as well.
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
So, while we need to exercise great care with those who have heard, and may be considering, the Good News about Jesus and His salvation, there might indeed be a need, along with the need for planting, watering, and harvesting, to do a little weed-pulling in our evangelistic efforts. A diligent farmer checks his field regularly for unwanted weeds which steal nutrients, sunlight, and room to grow from the crop he has planted and watered. In our soulwinning ministry, we need preaching planters, wise waterers, and holy harvesters, but we also need winsome weeders. Be a good friend to those who have heard the Gospel but have not yet believed. Invite them to investigate the Truth of the Bible more closely, answer their questions, and do what the Lord allows you to do to eliminate worldly, sinful, and Satanic distractions while the Holy Spirit does His work.
Tags: Biblical prayer, Biblical prayers, commentary on Psalms, Heman, importunity, Luke 11, prayer, Psalm 88, purpose of prayer, Sunday School lessons on Psalms
In part one we saw that Heman, the psalmist of Psalm 88, prayed openly. Now we see that he also prayed obstinately.
O lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:
Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.
But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.
Praying day and night, praying with tears and grasping hands, praying first thing in the morning, as though the Lord would hear our prayers before He even (figuratively, of course) begins HIS day – this is what is called praying with importunity. And, while it may be an annoyance to us when someone pesters us this way, it does not bother the Lord.
And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
This asking and this seeking and this knocking is an insistent, faithful, and strenuous calling out to the Lord in prayer, which may very well incline Him to respond. Regardless of whether He grants our plea or not, though, it pleases Him because it teaches us dedication and persistence, and because it brings us to intentionally spend time with Him in the awareness of His presence.
Next time we will see that Heman even prayed obnoxiously!