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Integrity in My House

June 21st, 2016

I will walk with integrity of heart within my house… (Psalm 101:2b)

The idea of a family making a home in a house is in the Bible, and it has remained a core value of human civilization. A Christian home is a blessed thing, and it has the potential to bless the whole world. Examine your home today. What is good about your home? What is unholy about it? Even more so, examine your thoughts. How do they honor God? How are they filled with lust and pride?

The first sentence of this psalm of David, “I will sing of steadfast love and justice” (Psa. 101:1), describe the balance that should be in our hearts and in our homes. We are accepted by the grace of God through our faith, but we are to live holy lives before him. A Christian life and a Christian home should hold on to both of these values tightly.

A Christian home should be a place where Christ is honored first and foremost. The home should be the center of Christian love, Christian education, and Christian service. We should not have to leave our homes to have a spiritual experience, rather we should bring into them the love and grace of God. The home is our first place of worship, or prayer, of community, and of holiness. Let integrity be the character of your heart, your home, and especially your heart in your home.

There are some who are mere pretenders about their devotional life. They live like the devil, harbor impure thoughts in their hearts, and then read a verse of scripture at breakfast time. Somehow the hypocrisy of it all comes through to the children. It is better for a hypocrite to read a scripture than not to, but much of the power is taken out of it. How much better when the hearts of the parents are right with God, and then they lead the children in family worship.

Moses wrote, by the command of God:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

In other words, our faith is to be lived in our homes, and our homes are to be guarded from evil and evil influences. Love is to be shared, God’s truth is to be proclaimed, and peace is to be shared.

Have you brought into your home that which is unholy? Have you allowed the values and lusts of the world to take root in your home? Have you seen your home as a place where you can hide from God? Then repent of this wrong doing and foolishness. Rededicate your home, and you in your home, to God. No home is perfect all the time, but the Christian home puts forth the effort, as the Spirit enables them to, to consistently bring their family to Christ – holding on to grace and righteousness.

Let the grace of God cover the former sins, and let the love and justice of God frame the future of your home. Pray before you eat. Read the Word before you go to bed. Let unholiness not take root. Tear down the strongholds that Satan has constructed, and give your home afresh to God.

More important than the space of a house is the space in our hearts. Let the Holy Spirit take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).

Christian Parenting, Daily Devotions , , , , ,

Children and Parents

May 2nd, 2014

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right…Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:1,4

The preciseness of these words should be well-noted. The first command above is to children, who in their formative years are under the authority of their parents. They should obey their parents, and this is specific, not theoretical. He did not say that the children should respect adults in general, nor even parenthood in theory, but that their specific parents they are to obey, “For this is right.” This command does not depend on the character of the parents, whether they are wise, or good, or intelligent, or irresponsible, rather it depends on the way in which God has created the world, that He has placed children in homes and there they are to learn discipline, develop character, and this through obedience to their parents.

But this obedience is to be done “in the Lord,” which in the context clearly refers to Christ. It bring us back to 5:21 that speaks of mutual submission in relationship “out of reverence for Christ.” This means that the attitude of the child toward the parents is to be similar to the child’s belief in Christ. It is a spiritual worship for a child to be obedient to his parents. But also the obedience has a limitation, that the child is not under obligation to obey the parent when that obedience would be against the clear will of the Lord. The child is not under obligation to sin against Christ in the name of obedience to or respect to his parents.

I have known many young Christians in Asia whose unbelieving parents insisted that they participate in some non-Christian religious practice that a Christian’s conscience will not allow him to do. It is one of the most difficult tests of faith in life, and though a Christian must always and continually show respect and love to his parents, the Christian has only one Lord, Christ Jesus Himself, and cannot in good conscience participate in non-Christian religious observances, and is under no obligation to do so. But the love of the Christians toward their parents has often been the very thing that God used to win the parents to faith in Christ.

To the father, however, is the command to be gentle and nurturing to their children. We presume that the command was given to the fathers, not because the mothers have no similar obligation, but that the fathers were the ones most likely to abuse their child, to be rough and uncaring and even cruel. The natural created order for the human family is that the father will take leadership and will exercise that leadership in compassionate, tender, mutually-submissive love. The one who is the strongest and who is likely to earn the most money should use these strengths not to abuse or control others, not to lord it over them and get his way, but to love and support and care for them. The mark of a Christian man is this considerate, loving, caring, and sacrificial giving leadership in the family.

The two words “discipline and instruction,” or “nurture and admonition” (KJV), of the Lord give the parameters and the nature of Christian instruction in the home, indeed they include virtually the entire process of raising up children. The phrase “of the Lord,” as it does throughout this passage, significantly colors the entire meaning. As the Lord deals with us graciously, patiently, kindly, and lovingly, so the parent should deal with the child. But the Lord does not hesitate to use discipline (Hebrews 12:5-11, e.g.) with us, nor apologize for it, and neither should a parent believe that discipline, when applied fairly and justly, is an insult to grace and love. True love does not spoil neither disciples nor children (Luke 17:10).

The first of these two words is paideia and describes a general training, education, or instruction. Christian education in the home and in the church is pervasive and involves learning about many things namely the word of God, but also how it is to be applied, as well as the challenge and encouragement given to obey. Christian education can never be separated from Christian character, and the subject that is taught should be done in a spirit that is agreeable to its nature. Kindness demonstrated in teaching and dealing with others is essential when one is teaching about kindness.

The second word is nouthesia and means “to put into the mind” and here it is a more personal and individually suited training that is considered. The general principles of love and grace, as well as holiness and righteousness, are not enough, but each of us also needs personal attention in our individual lives in how to personally apply these matters. It means to be reminded of one’s own faults, his specific failures and weaknesses, as well as his own strengths and abilities. “Admonition” is the word that is often used to describe this, but it cannot be only negative admonition. It must also be positive encouragement. In this word is considered that the parent should not only teach what is right and what is wrong, but should also help the child to obey.

It is the mark of the Spirit in dealing with us that He never convicts us of sin without also assuring us of the possibility of forgiveness and the reality of grace. So in dealing with our children we should be hopeful and positive. Strictness should never destroy the child’s spirit, but rather they should also know that there is grace and restoration and redemption possible. God says to us, “Come let us reason together, though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). And this should also be the attitude of the parent in dealing with the child.

Our salvation in Christ and His work in us should be demonstrated in our homes. Is your marriage and home what you would like them to be? What are the specific admonitions that the Lord is placing on your heart, that He has given to you to do in these passages? Take the first step toward being a better family member and you will find the strength of God is available for you to continue in this journey. To paraphrase 5:28, the one who loves his family loves himself.

Christian Parenting, Ephesians, Marriage