The Privilege of Participation

January 27, 2017 at 3:46 pm | Posted in The Family of Faith | 2 Comments
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Previously, we saw that, in the family of faith, we have the privilege of patriotism. Now we will see that we also have the privilege of participation.

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.

Matthew 18:18

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.

Decrees on Discipline and Divorce

April 14, 2016 at 12:17 pm | Posted in Matthew | 2 Comments
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Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. 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. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Matthew 18:15-20

This passage of Scripture deals with church discipline. It is not a fun procedure. Regardless if you are the one being disciplined or one of the ones involved in doing the disciplining, it is a serious matter and a daunting task. But it must not be neglected. Sometimes surgery is required on one part of the body to keep the whole body healthy.

Christians should exercise self-discipline first. There must be obedience to the Word and agreement in prayer. The goal is restoration in the body and the removal of sin.

Humility is an overriding theme in Matthew Chapter 18, and humility is the key to forgiveness.

Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

Matthew 18:27

This is what God did for us, and He wants us to do it for others.

In Matthew 19 the King returns to confront His enemies head on. There is another occurrence of the transitional phrase which Matthew uses:

And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;

Matthew 19:1

Jesus’s enemies tried to ensnare him with questions about marriage, but Jesus taught what marriage really is. It is a covenant before God rather than merely a contract before the state.

The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Matthew 19:3-6

Marriage is a God-ordained form of government, but the vows made at a wedding are vows made BEFORE GOD Himself. Neither the civil government nor the Church have any real rights to “make up” laws concerning marriage. These are ordained by God. Both the Church and the civil government are to be witnesses of the vows since both have an interest in disciplining or arbitrating binding agreements, but the Bible also has the authority to forbid marriage.

He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

Matthew 19:8

The problem of divorce was never a problem with the King’s plan. It was and is a problem with man’s heart. Why did God allow Moses to make a concession in this matter? Because the union of marriage is physical, not spiritual.

Who Is the Greatest?

April 1, 2016 at 10:04 am | Posted in Matthew | 1 Comment
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In Matthew Chapter 17 three of the Lord’s disciples saw Jesus transfigured – His outward appearance transformed from within by the glory of His deity for a brief moment. They fell on their faces, trembling in fear at just a tiny glimpse of His glory. Therefore, in Chapter 18, we could expect their reaction to be, “Lord, Your majesty and splendor have overwhelmed us! What might we do to serve you better?” Right?

Wrong! Chapter 18 records their most pressing question:

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

Matthew 18:1

The disciples wanted to know the same thing that a distressing number of Christians want to know today: “What’s in it for me?”

Jesus answered by summoning a small unspoiled child into their midst, and told them:

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 18:4

Before the Lord imparts His glorious grace upon His human creations, He wants to see the quality of humility (James 4:10). Humility, it is sometimes said, is not thinking too much of oneself, or too little of oneself. However, a close inspection of Christ’s teaching here is that true humility is actually not thinking of oneself at all. Imagine the freedom and the inspired power that God can impart to His children when they no longer care how “great” they look to men, but instead begin to get zealous over how great God looks to men, and how much God can do to help the people they encounter on a daily basis.

The Humble King

March 21, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Posted in Matthew | 2 Comments
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Matthew began showing us the humility of the King in Chapter 17 with the account of the King Who paid tribute. Jesus helped Peter to understand the practicality of glory. God’s glory, if it is to reflected in a way onto men, must be a disciplined glory which always points back to God. As Christ’s disciples we must be loyal to the One Who loves us enough and is gracious enough to shine His glory on us.

Did you know the word “shed” is used in 50 different verses in the King James Version of the Bible? Every single time up until Romans 5:5 it is used in reference to blood (except II Samuel 20:10 where it’s talking about guts). Guess what it refers to in Romans 5:5.

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Romans 5:5

After this experience on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the coin in the fish’s mouth, they must have really “got it,” right? After the Disciples saw their King transfigured in their midst, you would think their question would be, “Lord – King Jesus – what would You have us to do?” But that was NOT their question. Their question was, “Which one of us will get more than the others in this Kingdom?”

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

Matthew 18:1

This was not a very humble question. In fact, it appears to have been evidence of pride. Pride is thinking too much of ourselves. Humility is not thinking too little of ourselves. It’s not really even thinking realistically about ourselves. A better definition of humility would be not thinking of ourselves AT ALL. We can’t be trusted to have an opinion about how great or how little we are (Jeremiah 17:9). Our hearts are wicked and we are too biased and prejudiced to conduct a fair examination of ourselves – to see if we are humble or not.

The humblest person is the happiest person because he only sees opportunities for God’s glory. He’s not tired, not frustrated, not boastful, not depressed, not discouraged, not ashamed – because it hasn’t occurred to him to be those things – because he hasn’t thought about himself at all.

Pop psychology says that we should start exhorting people to be happy with themselves just the way they are, and it sounds good. It mixes a little truth with a little leaven – contentment mixed with self-esteem – so it even sounds kind of spiritual. “Be all that you can be.” “Get everything that God wants you to have.” “Have your best life now.” Saul of Tarsus had prestige, wealth, friends, a great career, a job he loved, room for advancement, respect. Then he met Christ – and he took his “best life now” and he threw it away to live like the scum of the earth for Christ’s sake, and for God’s glory.

Jesus wanted to show the Disciples what He thought about their argument over who would be “greatest” in the Kingdom, so He called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, and said:

… Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 18:3

This child was not spoiled. I cringe when I think what would have happened if He called one of my children to sit on His lap! Would she be laughing at her friends, sticking her tongue out? This child apparently exhibited the virtue of childlikeness, rather than the vice of childishness.

Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

Mark 10:15

The quality of childlikeness that Jesus was pointing out was not playfulness, nor embarrassment, nor shyness, nor boldness. The quality that He wanted to illustrate was unselfconsciousness, which is another word for humility. Unspoiled children have a desire to please. They want to please their fathers, and others. Many times, as parents, we are guilty of causing them to lose this quality. We must not cause them to stumble.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Matthew 18:7-9

We should be stepping-stones, not stumbling-blocks. We should be blessings, not burdens.

The Husband of One Wife – Part 1

September 23, 2010 at 9:02 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Biblical Marriage | 8 Comments
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Why did some of the Old Testament patriarchs have multiple wives?

I. What God Authorized

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:18-25

From what part of Adam was Eve taken? Not from his head or his foot, but from his side. This symbolizes equality, protection, and proximity to his “heart.” How many ribs did God take from Adam? Not two, not three – just one. Adam named the fish and the birds first. They could do things he couldn’t do: live underwater and fly. The land animals were doing something that Adam couldn’t do alone: mating with the females of their kind – and the fact that Adam did not have a mate was not good. God created man so that one woman is sufficient to meet all his needs. That’s God’s plan. That’s His standard. That’s what He authorized. God made it very clear: one man; one woman; two people; one made for the other; becoming one flesh.

However, note that they became one flesh – not one spirit. Marriage is a physical, earthly union, not a spiritual, eternal union. Marriage is an earthly institution ordained by God. God’s rules for it are to be obeyed. He does not want us tampering with them. When God ordains something there are blessings in doing it right. There is danger in doing it wrong. The same principle applies to baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the Church.

Are there people who were married on earth who are in Heaven right now and are still in a marriage relationship?

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Revelation 2:17

Marriage relationships in Heaven would require divided affections as spouses would still owe allegiance to each other. In Heaven all allegiance, service, and worship will be directed toward the Lord alone. My wife is God’s daughter first and foremost.

So, what about the polygamy that we see in the Old Testament? It’s always good to look in the Bible and see the “firsts.”

And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.

Genesis 4:23

The Lamech from the ungodly line of Cain was the first bigamist. (He may have also been the author of the first sinful poem or song.) The “and” in Genesis 4:23 does not denote two separate killings. It is like when I say, “I went to the store and I went with my shoes on.” That does not mean that I went to the store twice. It is parallelism for emphasis. The same kind of “and” connects Genesis 1:1 and 1:2: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Lamech not only celebrated his killing with a little ditty, but he made a mockery of God’s mercy to Cain.

If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.

Genesis 4:24

Jesus made a mockery of Lamech, though, when He said that His followers were not to get revenge to a degree of seventy times seven, but are to forgive to the degree of seventy times seven.

What God authorizes (what He “wills,” in one sense) and what God allows are two different things.

II. What God Allows

Remember, God destroyed the world, saving only Noah and his family, but at the tower of Babel men turned to idolatry and paganism. God called Abraham at a time when there weren’t that many Godly women around. When we read about the patriarchs of the Old Testament we have to remember that Old Testament examples are given for good and bad examples. God did use bigamists and polygamists at times. Who is He using today? “Great men of God?” No, He is using liars, adulterers, murderers, idolators, blasphemers – broken, pitiful, sinful, wretched men of a great and merciful and loving and holy God: trophies of His grace. Therefore, we can not assume that because God used polygamists in the Old Testament to do His will that He condoned their polygamy.

If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated:

Deuteronomy 21:15, emphasis added

This is a case where the first wife has died.

Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn:

Deuteronomy 21:16

Now the husband is focused only on his living wife, but God is saying that he must not forget his firstborn child.

But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his. If a man have [present tense] a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them [present tense]:

Deuteronomy 21:17-18, emphasis and parentheses added

To say that polygamy is okay with God based on Deuteronomy 21:15-16 is the same as saying that having a stubborn and rebellious son is okay with God based on Deuteronomy 21:17-18.

Many times the New Testament clarifies the Old Testament.

Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

Acts 17:29-30

God, in patience, longsuffering, and love, overlooked the iniquities of men. But where Christ is proclaimed, God will not wink at idol worship.

Consider the Words of Jesus:

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

Matthew 19:4-8

Some Old Testament patriarchs had multiple wives and appeared to be blessed: Jacob, David, some of the kings of Israel and Judah.

Here are some men greatly used by God that had one wife: Adam, Noah, Isaac, Moses, Job, Isaiah, Hosea, Joseph, Jesus (His “bride” being the Church).

The practice of multiplying wives grew and increased under Saul. David engaged in it. It culminated under Solomon.

We have seen:
I. What God Authorized

Next time we will finish looking at:
II. What God Allows,
and discuss:
III. What God Accepts

Explaining the Meaning of Biblical “Authority” to Children

August 6, 2010 at 11:42 am | Posted in Biblical Teaching | 4 Comments
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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.

Matthew 18:18

The people that Jesus was talking to when He said this were called “the Disciples.” The twelve men we commonly refer to as “the” Disciples were followers of Jesus before He was crucified:

1. Simon (who is called Peter)
2. His brother, Andrew
3. James, the son of Zebedee
4. His brother, John
5. Philip
6. Bartholomew
7. Thomas
8. Matthew, the tax collector
9. James, the son of Alphaeus
10. Thaddaeus
11. Simon the Zealot
12. Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus

In Matthew 18:18 “verily” means that Jesus is telling the Disciples to listen closely – He is about to say something that’s very important because it’s true.

Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.

Luke 8:22-25

The Lord Jesus has given authority to His followers, but we do not pray to the wind and the rain. Authority is the right and the power to make things obey. God is the One Who created everything. There is nothing that God did not create. Everything that God created obeys Him except for you and me (and Satan and his demons at times). Let’s not be the one thing that God created that turns against Him and doesn’t do what He says.

Because I am a child of God, He has given me authority over some things. But if I use those things just for me, and not the way that God says to use them, these things (including many of my blessings) could be stolen from me. In fact, the devil would like to steal my blessings from me, and he probably could – unless Someone stronger than him stops him. One reason God gave me His Spirit when He saved me is so I could have Him with me all the time and keep the devil from stealing from me.

However – can I boss God around and tell Him what to do? If I say something, does it have to come true, just because I said it in Jesus’s Name? No. But, if I am doing what God tells me to do in the Bible, then I can pray to Him in Jesus’s Name to help me, and the Bible says He will hear my prayer and help me in the way that He knows is best.

In a way, that’s what Jesus was talking about when He said, “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Romans 8:32

Can you name some things that God has given you? What is the greatest thing He has given you? His Own Son. If He gave His Own Son for us, we can easily believe He will give us other things.

Falling, Flooding, and Facing Facts

December 21, 2009 at 11:46 pm | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Genesis | 11 Comments
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Last time, we learned that there is a clear separation between the lines of Seth and Cain. At least the separation was clear until:

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

Genesis 6:1-2

When the Godly line of Seth intermingled with the ungodly line of Cain, which side influenced the other? The Godly did not influence the ungodly for good. The ungodly dragged the Godly down into sin. This happens even today whenever Christians become participants with, instead of witnesses to, the lost.

The majority of commentators disagree with me, but I believe that the “sons of God” in these verses were men, not fallen angels. Angels do not procreate.

And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.

Genesis 4:25-26

There is a clear distinction between men who called upon the Lord – and were known for doing so – and those who began to be “mighty” in their own eyes, and began to make light of their need to call upon the Lord. Lamech is a good example. There was a “Seth-Lamech” and a “Cain-Lamech.” Seth’s Lamech called his son Noah, and believed in the promise of God that a redeemer would come and reverse the curse. But look at Cain’s Lamech:

And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.

Genesis 4:23

He was the first bigamist, and possibly the author and performer of the first sinful poem or song. The “and” in Genesis 4:23 does not denote two separate killings. It is an example of Hebrew parallelism. A modern English example would be: “I went to the store, and I went with my shoes on.” That does not mean I went to the store twice. The “and” in Genesis 4:23 is the same kind of “and” that connects Genesis 1:1 and 1:2: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Emphasis added.) There has only been one world-wide flood (Noah’s). There was not a “flood of Lucifer” during a “gap” between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.

Lamech not only celebrated his killing with a little ditty, but he made a mockery of God’s mercy to Cain:

If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.

Genesis 4:24

Several centuries later Jesus would make a mockery of Lamech, though, when He said that we are not to avenge seventy times seven; we are to forgive seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22).

So, in Genesis 6 the sons of God mixed with the daughters of men, and the remnant of Godly descendants of Seth started becoming corrupted. The devil wins converts by forming relationships.

And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Genesis 6:5

In just a few generations man became completely deteriorated. (See Romans 1 and II Corinthians 10:5.)

And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

Genesis 6:6

God does not repent from sin, because He can not sin, but He has feelings, including grief and the excitement of fellowship with His creatures.

And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

Genesis 6:7-8

We do not praise Noah for being found righteous. We praise God for making Noah righteous.

These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

Genesis 6:9

Noah was not perfectly sinless, but he was without blame in his complete devotion to God, in comparison with everyone else. Noah lived his life in the awareness of being in God’s presence.

And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

Genesis 6:10-13

And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

II Peter 2:5

For 120 years Noah and his sons built and preached. They preached righteousness: Get right with God. And they preached truth. The devil’s way is to defile by forming relationships, but God’s way is to cleanse by preaching righteousness and truth.

1. Noah built: He built the ark.
2. Noah believed: He believed the Word of God.
3. Noah brought: He brought his family into the Ark.

Jesus did the same with His redeemed family, and we are to do likewise:

1. We are to build His church.
2. We are to believe His Word.
3. We are to bring a spiritual family into the safety of the Body of Christ.

We can be sure that the flood of Noah’s time was indeed a world-wide flood.

And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

Genesis 6:17 (emphasis added)

That is God’s Word – not Noah’s or Moses’s viewpoint. It was God’s Word then – and it is His Word now.

And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.

Genesis 7:21-23 (emphasis added)

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

Genesis 7:11 (emphasis added)

This was more than just rain. It was an event of cataclysmic, geological changes – changes like the formation of the Grand Canyon. Possibly a water or vapor canopy fell from around the Earth – which would help to explain why men and animals lived so long prior to the flood. God really shook the whole earth. If not for God’s mercy, no one would be alive today to make up false “scientific” theories to refute it.

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

II Peter 3:3-10

Talk about a “big bang!” Men have a problem with a God who destroyed the earth, but Heaven has a problem with a God who would save one man and his family – knowing that his descendants would later mock and deny the event. Heaven solved this problem in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

What to Be for Your Kids

June 17, 2009 at 11:43 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting | 22 Comments
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Praise the Lord for kids! I have three of them myself [now four!; updated Sept. 2014]. As my wife likes to say, “I just love kids – but I couldn’t eat a whole one!”

The fact is that the three kids who call me “Daddy” are not really “my” kids. They are the Lord’s.

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

Psalm 127:3

Children are a reward, and a blessing, but they are also given to us as a deposit. We are to manage them, put them to use, protect them, and help them to grow – like an investment… an investment for the Lord.

And, when you have an entrusted investment, the Owner will one day want an accounting.

As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.

Psalm 127:4

How are children like arrows? Both arrows and children must be “straight” in order to work right – not crooked, not “perverse.” Bent arrows are no good.

Second, arrows are made to be shot – they are made to go where the archer cannot reach. Arrows go into the quiver first, but they are not meant to stay in the quiver forever.

If you are a Christian parent, there are three things you should BE for your kids:

BE an encourager.

When a child does something good, tell him about it. When a child has something to say, listen to her.

Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

Most parents are pretty good at the admonition part. Admonishing comes in when kids do wrong. We are often quick to tell them about the wrong, but not so quick to tell them when they do right. That’s the “nurture” part – the “building-up.”

The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.

Proverbs 23:24

Do your children bring you joy? If so, let them know about it!

There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.

Proverbs 12:18

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Ephesians 4:29

Parents can encourage their children by talking to them, and they can encourage their children in how they talk to them.

Sarcasm is prevalent in our culture today. If your kids have been exposed to school or television at all, you have heard these phrases come out their mouths just dripping with sarcasm: “Yeah, right;” “Whatever;” “That’s just great.”

Sarcasm can be contagious. Kids bring it home from school or their friends’ homes, and before long the parents are doing it, too. We may think sarcasm is funny, but the Bible says it is corrupt communication. The purpose of sarcasm is to make the other person feel like they’ve said or done something dumb. It tears down; it doesn’t build up, and it doesn’t encourage. God wants parents to be encouragers, not discouragers. God wants children to honor their fathers and mothers – to speak to them respectfully – to not talk back. Children should never speak to their parents in a way that indicates a belief that their parents do not know as much as they do.

Parents should BE encouragers, and parents should BE enforcers.

Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.

Proverbs 23:19 (emphasis added)

Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.

Proverbs 23:22 (emphasis added)

It is very important for Christian parents to teach their children to listen – to hear.

Listening, hearing, and obeying do not come naturally to children. In fact, doing what is right in general does not come naturally to children. Do you know what does come naturally to children? Foolishness.

What makes a child carry a full-to-the-brim glass of red Kool-aid onto beige carpet? Foolishness.

What makes a kid who has 3 hours to clean her room spend 2 hours and 45 minutes listening to music, and then try to do the cleaning in 15 minutes? Foolishness.

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child…

Proverbs 22:15

When I think back to my earliest memories, I have to admit that no one ever had to sit me down as a little child and teach me to lie. No one ever had to teach me to be selfish and greedy, or to hit my brother. No, those things came naturally to me. I did not jump up and down, and say, “Can I go to church now? Please!”

As Christian parents we need to encourage our children to listen when they are in God’s house, and especially when God’s Word is being read or taught. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17; Galatians 3:5).

Getting children to hear the Word of God, whether they think church is boring or not, is a heart issue – not an entertainment issue. In Bible times, children were expected to come to church to hear the Word.

Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.

Joel 2:15-16 (emphasis added)

God’s will in the Old Testament was for children to be in even the most serious of church meetings – and for people of all ages to be together in the congregation.

When the letter to the church in Ephesus was read in the church – in the assembly – it was read out loud to grown-ups and children alike. Ephesians 6:1 is directed straight at children, whom the Apostle Paul knew would be listening: “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”

Children have to be trained, and this includes being trained in how to behave in church. Training involves an enforcer, and parents are the God-ordained enforcers of their children. Being an encouraging parent is a not always an easy job, but being an enforcing parent is even tougher.

Proverbs 22:15 starts off by saying that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, and the rest of it does not say that a good talking-to will drive it far from them. It does not say that being grounded will drive it far from them. It does not say that a “time-out” will drive it far from them. It does not say that sending them to their rooms will drive it far from them. It does not say that taking away their X-Box will drive it far from them. It says that the rod of correction will drive it far from them. I know this may sound archaic, but if I’m not enforcing discipline, then I don’t love my children.

For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

Proverbs 3:12

Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

Proverbs 23:13-14

As a father, if I do not discipline God’s child, placed in my trust, with a rod of correction, then I am placing that child’s life in danger.

Parents should BE encouragers. Parents should BE enforcers. And parents should BE examples.

Being a Godly example may be the toughest thing that parents have to be for their children.

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.

Proverbs 20:7

Integrity” is living what you believe. It is inconsistent for me to encourage my children with principles I don’t really believe. And it is inconsistent for me to enforce rules on my children I am not willing to follow myself. Parents need to be careful about saying one thing and doing another. As Pastor John Wilkerson says, what I allow in moderation, my children will practice in excess. What I dabble in, my children will dive into.

If you are reading this, and you happen to be a child, however, I want you to know this: When a parent places a rule on you, but does not follow that rule himself/herself, this is not an excuse for you to be disobedient.

Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

Matthew 23:1-3

The Pharisees appointed themselves to be the ones to tell people what God said they should do – they had authority. Jesus told people to do what they said, but not what they did. As a Christian child, you may be under an authority figure who is less Godly than you are. But there are blessings in obedience. Generally, God will not fight a battle for you that you are trying to fight on your own in the flesh. If you try to make your parents miserable through showing them disrespect, you may get what you want, but God may see to it that you do not want what you get. One of the worst judgments God can place on you is to let you have your own way.

Having said that, you must also realize that parents and adults know more than you think they do. If you are young – especially if you are a teenaged child – guard against thinking that you know everything. I have heard this attributed to Mark Twain, although I do not know for sure if he actually said it:

“When I left home at age 17, my dad was a complete fool – a total idiot. He didn’t know anything. After being on my own for a while, I came back home at age 21, and I couldn’t believe how much the old man had learned in 4 years!”

Parents should not be Pharisees – teachers who teach falsely. We will give an account for any little ones we lead astray. There is no shortage of terrible role models out there for children to follow: rappers, rock stars, movie stars, athletes, rich and famous people. People scream and follow them, and pay hundreds of dollars to get near them at a concert. People beg for their autographs. They wave their arms for a touch, and worship them. Many of these celebrities are about as big as a big-shot can get. But they don’t do anything for the Lord.

You won’t see many Godly pastors, children’s workers, nursery workers, Sunday School teachers, or Christian fathers and mothers on MTV or the E channel – but they are on God’s TV screen – they are before His sight. Children need to follow those who have God’s approval, more than those who have the world’s approval.

As a dad, do my kids ever see me praying? Do they see me singing to the Lord?

As a mom, I hope you would not put up with your kids using bad language. But when your cell phone goes off, do they hear a rap song or a country or pop song that glorifies sin?

I believe God wants faithful, humble parents – parents who do what’s right when no one else is looking. I believe He wants parents who are different, who are distinct. Parents who are going to stand out, and stand up, for Jesus even if it means being unpopular.

I believe God wants kids who don’t laugh at dirty jokes, and who don’t make fun of teachers and those in authority, even when everyone else is laughing and mocking.

Parents, we don’t have the choice to opt out. Our kids are watching us. Even if I am just one person in the world, I am the world to one person.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Matthew 18:6

Next time: What to do for your kids.

Quarterback Commandment No. 2

March 19, 2009 at 11:37 am | Posted in Quarterback Commandments | 12 Comments
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This is the second in a series of 11 “Quarterback Commandments” which Bill Parcells gave to Tony Romo, quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. The connection between the Quarterback Commandments and this series of Bible lessons can be found in the preface to Quarterback Commandment No. 1.

Quarterback Commandment No. 2: Clowns can’t run a huddle. Don’t forget to have fun, but don’t be the class clown. Clowns and leaders don’t mix. Clowns can’t run a huddle.

Spiritual Application: Christians are supposed to be Christ-like. We are supposed to act the way Jesus acted. There is no evidence in Scripture to indicate that Jesus was generally morose, pedantic, boring, overly austere, or just plain old “no fun to be around.” I know many preachers and teachers like to claim that some of the church fathers, reformers, and Puritans gave Jesus a bad image by portraying Him as somber, serious, and grumpy. Modern evangelicals love to point out that Jesus was not a “cosmic killjoy.”

Let’s be analytical for a second. We know Jesus had a sense of humor. Matthew 7:4 and a few other verses show that He could turn a phrase to humorous effect, and even be a little sardonic at times (Matthew 23:24). After all, He was the Book of Proverbs personified, so He must have been witty, as well as wise. We also know that He went to a wedding (John 2:2), He enjoyed good food (John 21:13), and little children liked to be around Him (Matthew 18:2, Luke 18:16).

However, the instances of Jesus joking around are extremely rare in the Gospel record. We see Him angry (Matthew 21:12). We see Him grieved (Luke 13:34). We see Him challenging the status quo (Matthew 23:33). We see Him teaching the greatest and most valuable truths ever taught. We even see Him crying (John 11:35).

So was Jesus Christ a bitter, discontented grouch? Definitely not! Was He a clown? Definitely not! In Christ Jesus, the supreme example for every Christian, we observe the perfect balance. He could weep with those who wept. He laughed with those whose laughter was not sinful. He sternly admonished those who needed correction. He showed compassion and real solutions to those who were truly hurting. And He never, ever ONCE brought shame or disgrace to His Holy Name, to His character, or to His testimony. He never once stepped even a millimeter outside the will of His Father.

As Christian “quarterbacks,” it is possible to have fun in Christian leadership. But, for a quarterback, there must be a difference between having fun and being a clown. The Gospel is a not a “business,” but we might say that we should consider our duty to preserve, protect, and promote the Gospel message to be “serious business.”

Lester Roloff, before he would begin a sermon, would sometimes sing along with some of the young ladies whom God had used him to rescue from lives of addiction and immorality. In one song, he liked to remind people of the seriousness of our spiritual warfare.

“It’s a battlefield, brother, not a recreation room,” he would sing.
“It’s a fight and not a game.
“When I fall down I’m gonna get right up,
“‘Cause I didn’t start out to play
“Run if you want to, run if you will,
“But I came here to stay.”

Consider what the Bible has to say about the demeanor of Christian leaders:

That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.

Titus 2:2

Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,

Titus 2:6-7

Whether we are running a prayer huddle, a Sunday School class huddle, a family worship huddle, or a Biblical counseling huddle, let us remember that “Clowns for Christ” is an oxymoronic idea.


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