What is your state of mind? Is it full of anxiety or is there peace? Are you meditating on some wrong done to you or how God has blessed you? Are you content or striving for more? Your state of mind leads either to peace or to turmoil.
Yesterday I talked about some of my favorite passages in Philippians. Today I want to share a few more from chapter 4:
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
“Be anxious for nothing …” It’s a command, not a suggestion.
Worry is sin! We’re to put off (Eph. 4.22) fear, worry, and anxiety. In its place we’re to put on (Eph. 4.24) prayer and thankfulness.
We know we’re supposed to pray about our concerns, but how often do we think about the second part of that command? Be thankful.
Everything in our lives is filtered through God’s hands. Our trials are uniquely designed by a sovereign God to grow us in the likeness of Christ (Rom. 8.28-29).
Are you thankful? Are you thanking Him for His work in your life?
The more we come to know Him, to trust in His sovereignty and goodness, the more His peace will guard our hearts and minds. The level of our peace depends on the quality of our relationship with Him and our willingness to humble ourselves under His hand (Jas. 4.10).
The battle for peace takes place in our thinking. The enemies are discontent, anger, bitterness and unforgiveness. Paul goes on in verses 8 and 9:
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
Instead of playing the video tape in our minds of that hurt, sin, or some real or imagined wrong done to us, we must learn to meditate on what God says about our situations. Instead of thinking about what someone has that we don’t or something we think we deserve and believe God is withholding, we need to think about the blessings in our lives. We need to be thankful for what we have.
One book that continues to resonate with me and impact my life, particularly my prayer life, is Donald Whitney’s book Praying the Bible. Even though I had prayed many Bible passages in the past, his book encouraged me to pray more from the Scriptures, especially the Psalms.
One of my goals for next year is to pray through the Bible as I read. I’d like to share with you what that will look like, give you some examples of how to pray passages of Scripture, and tell you about something new happening here on the blog next year.
In that post, I said that while both require discipline, I believe one or the other usually comes easier for each of us and the other not so much. I confided that prayer is the one that requires greater discipline on my part. Perhaps that’s why I’ve read so many books on prayer and why Donald Whitney’s book Praying the Bible impacted me so greatly.
Even so, I have not used the principles he shared nearly as often or as faithfully as I would like. One of my goals for next year is to, with God’s help, spend more time praying God’s Word.
So, today I’d like to share with you some examples of praying the Bible and something new I’ll be adding to the blog in 2018. I’m excited about it because it’s partly selfish as it’s part of my plan to keep me on track and accountable. I pray it will be a blessing to you, as well.
Not My Will
We’ve all heard the adage, “Be careful what you wish for,” or the Christian version, “Be careful what you pray for.”
That makes me think about Hezekiah. He was one of Israel’s rare good kings. The Bible says he did, “what was good and right and faithful before the LORD his God” (2 Chronicles 31:20).
He cleaned out the temple after his father, the wicked King Ahaz, had nailed it shut. He tore down the pagan altars, destroyed the idols, and reinstated the priesthood and temple worship.
When faced with destruction from the Assyrians, he prayed one of the most incredible prayers in the Bible. 2 Kings 19:15-19:
15 Then Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said: “O Lord God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. 17 Truly, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, 18 and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands—wood and stone. Therefore they destroyed them. 19 Now therefore, O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone.”
God answered that prayer in a dramatic way.
But later in his life, Hezekiah became very sick. Through the Prophet Isaiah, God told him to set his life in order that he was going to die. Yet, when he prayed, God gave him another 15 years (2 Kings 20.1-7).
Unfortunately, the last 15 years of his life were marked by a lack of wisdom that cost the nation and his descendants greatly. He, also, fathered Manasseh, the son who succeeded him. Manasseh turned out to be the most wicked king to reign over Judah (2 Kings 20.12-19).
I didn’t share all that to imply, we shouldn’t pray for God’s mercy when faced with sickness or other trials. God certainly could have said “no” to Hezekiah’s request. But our prayers will always be imperfect and sometimes out of step with God’s best. So, it’s important to hold those prayer requests in an open hand and maintain the same attitude Christ had in the Garden of Gethsemane, “nevertheless, not my will but Yours, Lord.”
Praying God’s Perfect Will
Yet, when we pray God’s Word, properly understood, we can know that we are praying God’s perfect will. Isaiah said:
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it (Is. 55.11).
I say properly understood because even as we pray the Scriptures, we need to remember there are passages relating to specific people and circumstances that are not God’s specific will for everyone. No matter how much you pray for a virgin birth or for the sun to stand still, it’s probably not going to happen. Those were special moves of God’s hand in His story of redemption. So it’s important for us to understand a verse in its context.
But when we pray passages relating to spiritual growth and God’s principles for living, we can be sure we’re praying according to God’s will.
14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him (1 Jn. 5.14-15).
How to Pray the Scriptures
If you’ve never tried praying God’s Word back to Him, you may wonder exactly how to do it. I don’t want to imply that there are rules, but sometimes it helps to have some practical examples. Continue reading →
How much do you really want to know Jesus? How much we value knowing Him reveals a great deal about our hearts. The Apostle Paul who had all the Jewish credentials: education, a great family pedigree, and his own achievements, said he counted it all as garbage, literally “dung,” in comparison to knowing Him.
Several years ago I started listening to a worship song entitled All I Once Held Dear (Knowing Him). You may be familiar with it.
I believe when it comes to worship, it’s not about the style of music, but about the words. It’s the words that we are offering up to God in our worship. It’s the words that really matter.
I was greatly moved by the lyrics which come right out of today’s passage in Philippians.
But as I was singing and worshiping two lines toward the end grabbed my heart with a holy fear. The lines were, “Oh, to know the power of your risen life and to know You in Your sufferings.”
The thought occurred to me that this isn’t generic. I was saying to the Lord, “I want to know You in Your sufferings.” And that would most likely happen through suffering on my part.
We have all suffered in various ways. I have and I’m sure you have, but there was something that gave me pause about singing and saying I wanted to know Christ in that way. I had to ask myself, “How much do I really want to know Him?”
As I went to my Bible to read the entire passage, I thought about the Apostle who had all the Jewish credentials: education, a great family pedigree, and his own achievements, and how he said he counted it all as garbage, literally “dung,” in comparison to knowing Christ (Phil. 3.8). Not just knowing Him in His resurrection power, but in the fellowship of His sufferings.
Verse 10, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”
I don’t know about you, but I like the part about knowing Him in the “power of His resurrection,” but the “fellowship of His sufferings,” is another thing. But I’ve come to believe we can’t have one without the other.
There will be times when we will suffer simply because we live in a sin-cursed world. There will be times when we will suffer because of the sins of others. And there will be times when we suffer because we are His and His light is in us. And darkness doesn’t like the light.
“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (Jn. 3.19-20).
The Christian walk is not without tests and trials, but ultimately God takes care of His own. As the Prophet Jeremiah said:
“‘They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you,’ says the LORD, ‘to deliver you’” (Jer. 1.19).
And in the process of that suffering, we come to know Him in increasingly greater ways as we learn to depend on Him and cling to His promises.
Here are the lyrics to the song:
All I once held dear, built my life upon All this world reveres, and wars to own All I once thought gain I have counted loss Spent and worthless now, compared to this
Knowing you, Jesus Knowing you, there is no greater thing You’re my all, you’re the best You’re my joy, my righteousness And I love you, Lord
Now my heart’s desire is to know you more To be found in you and known as yours To possess by faith what I could not earn All-surpassing gift of righteousness
Oh, to know the power of your risen life And to know You in Your sufferings To become like you in your death, my Lord So with you to live and never die
Jeremiah is often called “the weeping prophet.” He also wrote the book of Lamentations. Its name refers to a funeral dirge. Jeremiah grieved over the judgment of his people and the destruction of the once flourishing and beautiful city of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. The destruction was God’s judgment on a people who had repeatedly turned their backs on Him. But before doing so, God through Jeremiah called the people to repentance and warned of the judgment that would come if they did not repent. Continue reading →
“A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”
Lies hurt people! But an outright lie is not the only way to “lie.”
When we deceive or when we twist the truth to suit our purposes, justify our behavior, make ourselves look good or to gain sympathy, it’s lying just as surely as if we make up a tale out of whole cloth.
An even bigger problem with lying is that, like all sin, it leads to more lying and more sin of every kind. Paul said that lawlessness leads to further lawlessness (Rom. 6.19).
Look at Proverbs 26.28 again “a lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it.” Lying is a form of hatred. 1 John 2.11 says:
“But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
Just as all sin leads us into darkness, that darkness affects our ability to think and reason and make clear decisions, “the darkness has blinded [our] eyes.”
Pre-marital and extra-marital sex, for example, often affects people’s ability to recognize a bad, even dangerous, relationship.
Drunkards and addicts are often blinded to their problems. Many will say, “I can quit any time I want,” while they destroy their careers, their families, and their reputations.
Angry people often feel completely justified in their anger and abuse. Everyone else is to blame.
And just as sin leads to more sin and blindness, when we turn to God and walk in obedience, it leads to growth in holiness. Romans 6.18-19:
18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
Spiritual grown which is a growth in holiness, doesn’t just happen. We must choose to walk in obedience. When we are saved by faith in the gospel, God gives us new desires and we’re set free from the power of sin. But if we push those desires aside, we can become dull of hearing and our spiritual growth will be stunted. Hebrews 5 says:
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Growth in holiness happens “by reason of use.” The more we choose to obey, the more like Christ we become. The more we choose to submit to God’s providential work in our lives without grumbling, complaining or responding sinfully, the more we grow in holiness.
God says He’ll complete the work He has begun in us, but we often suffer unnecessarily in the process. Like Nemo and Dorie in the movie Finding Nemo, we ignore God’s instructions and end up “swimming through schools of jellyfish.” Like the fishy pair, we survive, but not without getting stung and suffering a great deal of pain and heartache!
Philippians 1.6 is one of my favorite verses. It gives me great hope when it says, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Isn’t it good to know that He is the one who will complete His work in us? And … He never gives up! But I wonder how often we make His work harder … on us!
Someone gave me a great illustration of this. I was explaining this passage and she told me it reminded her of the scene in Finding Nemo where Nemo and Dorie were told not to go around or over the gap, but through it. When they get there, that just doesn’t seem right to them; so they decide to swim over it. They end up running into a huge school of jellyfish! They survive it, but not without getting stung and suffering a great deal of pain! How like our attempts to figure things out for ourselves, often ignoring what God says, and doing what seems right to us! (Prov. 14:12)
4 For since the beginning of the world
Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,
Who acts for the one who waits for Him.
5 You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness,
Who remembers You in Your ways.
You are indeed angry, for we have sinned—
In these ways we continue;
And we need to be saved.
6 But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.
This passage speaks of the greatness of our God and our universal need for salvation. Each of us is like an “unclean thing.” All our righteousness, all our good deeds, all our attempts at trying to save ourselves or earn God’s approval are like filthy rags. We are unclean by nature, sinners from the womb.
But God …
Do you realize that the Bible is all one big “but God”? But God who is rich in mercy, who knows what we are, chose to die in our place! Continue reading →
Angry children—we see them in the grocery store, in the schoolyard, on the news, and possibly in our own homes. While all of us, including our children, are responsible for our choices, as parents we’re warned not to provoke our children to anger. Two ways we do that are by living an hypocritical lifestyle, telling them one thing while doing another, and parental role-reversal. Both of which we’ll look at today.
We’ll also talk about the armor of God, what it is and how we put it on.
Over the last few days we have been talking about Paul’s description of a Spirit controlled life from Ephesians 4 and 5. If you missed the earlier posts, you can read them here and here. In this chapter Paul addressed the parent-child relationship.
Children should honor and obey their parents (vss. 1-3). Parents should raise their children “in the discipline and admonition of the Lord” and not treat them in ways that would provoke them to anger (v. 4). Many of the ways we provoke them involve living a hypocritical life—teaching them to act one way while we act another. For example:
We can’t discipline our children for lying and then “call in sick” because we don’t want to go to work.
We can’t teach our children not to steal and then pilfer from our employer.
We can’t preach respect for authority while we disdainfully talk about “the cops” or brag about what we can get away with.
We can’t discipline them in anger or chastise them because they have “broken our law” by bothering or inconveniencing us.
In this week’s Mondays at Soul Survival I listed 25 ways we provoke our children to anger. The list came from a book by Lou Priolo, The Heart of Anger. Some of the other ways on the list are: marital disharmony, having a child centered home, being inconsistent with discipline, and parental role reversal. You can read the rest of the list here.
But I’d like to talk a little more about parental role reversal. In Ephesians 5 Paul said:
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.
And in verses 31-33:
31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
As wives we are to submit to the leadership of our husbands (v. 22) and show them respect (v.33). Husband’s are to love their wives with the same kind of servant love with which Christ loves His church (v. 25),
Submission is a concept that is often misunderstood and certainly not a popular in today’s world. But lack of submission is nothing new. It’s part of the curse of sin, as is, the failure of husbands to love and lead biblically.
To the woman He said:
“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you” (Gen. 3.16).
The New Living Translation says, “you will desire to control your husband.”
As wives our sinful desire is to usurp our husband’s leadership and theirs is to rule over us harshly or to withdraw and refuse to lead at all.
When this happens, it creates all kinds of problems in the marriage. One of those problems is its effect on our children.
God’s command to submit has nothing to do with our worth as women. It has nothing to do with intelligence or ability. It has to do with God’s design. Look at verse 32 again, “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” The design has been in existence since eternity past. It’s the same design He has for the church. The design is the Trinity.
In the Trinity, Jesus submitted to the Father (Matt. 26.39; Jn. 8.28) and the Holy Spirit proceeds from and glorifies the Father and the Son (Jn. 16.7, 14). In the church, the church is to submit to Christ and the congregation is to submit to and respect her leaders and Christ. In the family the wife is to submit to the husband. The children proceed from the mother and father and are to show them honor and respect. It’s God’s design.
Satan, as the ruler of this world and the enemy of God, hates God’s design. In the garden, he deceived Eve into acting independently, ignoring both her husband’s leadership and God’s authority. It should come as no surprise that he continues to attack God’s social institutions of marriage and the church.
If you’d like to read more about this subject, I’ll list some resources at the bottom of this post.
Our relationship with God should, also, affect our employer-employee relationships. If we work for someone else, we should be good, faithful employees. We should work hard, not just when the boss is looking, but all the time, out of a desire to please God, who sees everything (Eph. 6.5-8). Bosses should treat their employees and subordinates well, again out of a desire to please God (Eph. 6.9).
The Armor of God
Then in verses 10-17 we have the “armor of God” with which all believers should be equipped. We need to wear the “belt of truth” by getting rid of anything in our lives that will hinder us from having victory in the battle. Unforgiveness, bitterness, jealousy, and the like have no place in a believer’s life and will hinder your walk and spiritual growth. Continue reading →
In the first three chapters of Ephesians Paul tells us a great deal about who we are in Christ. He begins chapter 4 by saying, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.”
Because of everything Christ has done for you, I’m begging you walk worthy of that calling.
In the next three chapters he gives us a snapshot at what a believer’s life should look like when we are under the control of the Holy Spirit and living out that calling.
For the last two days we’ve been talking about what a mature or Spirit-controlled life should look like from Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 4-6. Today we’ll look at the second half of chapter 5 beginning in verse 17.
17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.
As believers we should not allow anything other than God to control our lives—not a substance like alcohol or drugs, nor anything else that our hearts crave like power, wealth or prestige. Instead we should be filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit.
One major way we should be changed, when we do, is in the way we communicate.
We’re to speak “to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (v. 19).
Paul isn’t suggesting we behave like a character in The Sound of Music by bursting into a song in the middle of a conversation, but there should be joy in our lives and our conversations should be filled with praise for all that God has done for us.
We should have an attitude of gratitude, “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 20).
It should affect our relationships toward each other, “submitting to one another in the fear of God” (v. 21).
Submitting isn’t just for those under one kind of authority or another. The Holy Spirit’s work in us enables us to submit our selfish wants and desires and prefer others above ourselves.
23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it (Lk. 9).
3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Phil. 2).
Within the husband and wife relationship, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord … Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her (vss. 22, 25).
Wives are called to submit to the leadership of their husbands and husbands are to lay down their lives for their wives, each in unique ways. This is a sacrificial love that involves laying down what we want (those selfish desires, Matt. 9.23-24), preferring each other as more important than ourselves (Phil. 2.3-4), submitting even when the other one isn’t doing his or her part (1 Pet. 3.1-6), giving honor (1 Pet. 3.7), and showing respect (Eph. 5.33).
We’ll continue tomorrow with more of Paul’s snapshot of a Spirit controlled life.
Wow! As I reread today’s passage, it occurred to me the phrases could be headlines in today’s newspapers!
Headlines like: “Our courts oppose the righteous,” “Justice is nowhere to be found,” “Truth stumbles in the streets,” “Honesty has been outlawed,” “Truth is gone,” and “Anyone who renounces evil is attacked” Look at chapter 59.13-15 in the NLT:
13 We know we have rebelled and have denied the LORD.
We have turned our backs on our God.
We know how unfair and oppressive we have been,
carefully planning our deceitful lies.
14 Our courts oppose the righteous,
and justice is nowhere to be found.
Truth stumbles in the streets,
and honesty has been outlawed.
15 Yes, truth is gone,
and anyone who renounces evil is attacked.
Verse 13 reminds us that all sin is first against the Lord. Notice it says, “We have turned our backs on our God.” When we deny and turn our backs on the Lord we are expressing contempt for Him, in effect, saying that we are dissatisfied with His blessings, that He is not good, that we want and deserve something better than what He has given us.
This passage says we sin willingly, knowingly, “We know we have rebelled … we know how unfair and oppressive we have been, carefully planning our deceitful lies.”
And when the believers in a nation begin to compromise and live like the rest of the world, all of society suffers. Look at the list in verses 14 & 15 again: Continue reading →
The deceitfulness of sin tells us that we can go ahead and sin even though we know it’s wrong, then we can ask God to forgive us and that’s all there is to it! But that’s rebellion against God and you can’t be both rebellious (determined to go your own way) and repentant (willing to go God’s way) at the same time. But there’s an even bigger problem with this kind of thinking.
Also read about chocolate covered dirt, foolish talk and dirty jokes.
In chapter 57 God, through the prophet, is rebuking his people for their continued turning to and reliance on false gods. God poses the question, “Is it not because I have held My peace from of old that you do not fear Me?” We might say it this way, “Do you keep sinning because I haven’t been hard enough on you?”
Is that true of us? Do we abuse God’s patience and mercy by thinking we can live any way we want and believing He isn’t going to deal with sin and faithlessness? Hebrews 3.13 says:
“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
The deceitfulness of sin tells us that we can sin now and ask forgiveness later, even though we know it’s wrong, as if asking for forgiveness involves some magic incantation or get out of jail free card. That’s rebellion against God and His Word. You can’t be both rebellious (determined to go your own way) and repentant (willing to go God’s way) at the same time.
Sometimes we understand the choice to sin will have consequences. Yet we can be like a stubborn, rebellious child, determined to do it anyway and just “take our licks.” The problem is that, while we can choose to sin, we don’t get to choose our consequences. Continue reading →
What should a mature Christian life look like? Is it the things we do, like going to church or reading our Bibles? Is it the “big sins” we don’t do, like getting drunk or stealing? What did Paul mean when he said, “walk worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Eph. 4.1)?
Verse 1 begins with “I, therefore, … beseech you …”
Therefore! Because of all the things Paul had just explained in chapters 1-3—because we are “in Him”—saved, redeemed, sanctified, justified, blessed, set free—we should “walk worthy of the calling with which [we have been] called” (v. 1)!
Now in these last three chapters of Ephesians, Paul begins to tell us how those truths should be lived out. Chapter 4 says:
We should work to have unity and peace in all our relationships—in our family, in our church, in the workplace—wherever God places us (v. 3).
We should no longer be spiritual babies, tossed to and fro by every appealing sounding doctrine or new spiritual experience that comes along (v. 14). Babies need constant attention, are easily upset and will believe in every “Santa Claus” that comes along! We need to be rooted and grounded in the truth instead of wanting someone to make us feel good or think we need to be entertained all the time. We need to “grow up” (v. 15)!
We are to speak the truth in love (v. 15). That means three things should happen. We should speak—not clam up or give someone the silent treatment—ever! Nothing justifies that behavior in the life of a believer. Second we must “speak truth”—not half truths, not omissions of the truth, but truth! And third it must be spoken “in love”—not because we want to give them a “piece of our minds” or unload on someone!
We should not act like pagans who don’t know God (v. 17). That means we can’t justify our behavior because, “Everyone else is doing it,” or because, “This is not the first century!”
That, obviously, means we don’t commit fornication or adultery. But it also means we don’t flirt if we’re married and we don’t flirt with someone who’s married, even if we’re single.
Ladies, it means we don’t dress like the covers of most magazines or some actress (and husbands, don’t ask your wife to dress that way, unless it’s in the privacy of your home). It means our beauty is to be primarily inner and spiritual. It does not mean we have to dress like a grandmother or be drab or unattractive.
It also means we don’t live with someone if we are not married to him or her … period! Having him stay at your house 2 or 3 times a week, or even occasionally, while you’re not technically “living together” is no better. You’re only deceiving yourself.
We’re not to be lewd, unclean or greedy (v. 19). No dirty jokes or sexual innuendos. No lies because “how else are you going to get ahead in business.”
We are to put off those habits and lifestyles of the old sinful nature (v. 22).
We are to work at renewing our minds (v. 23)—spending time in His Word, reading good theologically sound books, memorizing Scripture and meditating on it—thinking about how it is to be lived out in our lives personally.
We are to put on new righteous habits and lifestyles (V. 24).
We are to stop lying, deceiving, omitting, hiding and coloring the truth; and become open and honest in all our relationships (v. 25).
We are not to sin in our anger, but deal with it quickly (v. 26). There are some things that should make us angry, but we cannot use that as an excuse to sin. We must deal with those sinful thoughts, feelings, and actions quickly (don’t let the sun go down on them). If we don’t, we’re giving the devil an open window to crawl—or charge—through (v. 27). Continue reading →
One of the most concise instructions for parents appears in the book of Ephesians. It says, “… do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Some of the ways we provoke our children to anger seem obvious, but others may be less so. Could you be provoking your children to anger in ways you haven’t realized?
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival
Could You Be Provoking Your Children to Anger?
Parenting … it’s both one of the greatest privileges and one of the greatest responsibilities we have. And our example is a hard one to live up to … it’s God Himself, the One Perfect Parent.
Thankfully, God knows we won’t do this perfectly and He gives us His grace everyday. All the wisdom and help we need is available to us for the asking (Heb. 4.15-16; Jas. 1.2-5), as is His forgiveness when we fail (1 Jn. 1.9).
Often that grace is extended to us through the very children against whom we occasionally sin. When we humbly go to them and seek their forgiveness, they usually extend it readily and quickly.
But God does expect us to be faithful to study His Word, to pray for ourselves and our children, to be humble when we fail, and to grow in any area where we may lack understanding (2 Tim. 2.15, 3.16-17).
The book of Proverbs is jam-packed with principles for parenting and all the biblical principles for other relationships apply to the parent-child relationship, as well. But, one of the most concise instructions for parents appears in Ephesians 6.4:
… do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
We’ll talk more about training and admonition in a future post. But let me just say that fathers and mothers are responsible to educate their children morally, spiritually, socially and in every way. It’s not the church or the school that is primarily responsible, it’s us, as parents.
We’re to help our children understand that we are not the ultimate authority. We are under God’s authority and, as His agents, are responsible to raise them in ways that are pleasing to Him.
Training and admonition include both reproof and encouragement. Our goal, as parents, should be to raise children who have a reverence for God, a love for His Word, respect for parents and others in authority, an understanding of Christian principles, the ability to exercise self-control, and a desire to please God.
But in today’s post I want to focus on the first part of this verse, “do not provoke your children to wrath.” The NIV says, “do not exasperate your children.”
We must be careful not to provoke or exasperate our children by being harsh, unreasonable, unfair, angry, cruel, selfish, or by showing partiality. Even godly discipline and instruction should be gentle, fair, and done in love.
Lou’s book is one of my favorite parenting resources. He’s been a biblical counselor for over 30 years. He’s a Fellow with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and an instructor with the Birmingham Theological Seminary. But more important, he’s a parent and his books are practical, readable, and applicable to the daily realities of parenting.
I often recommend it in counseling as a tool to help parents take the principles home and work with their own children. But it’s easily usable by any parent who wants to help prevent or deal with anger in their own children. It will not only help you get to the heart issues your children may face, but will deal with your own heart, as well. Continue reading →