A REAL GENTLEMAN

Having addressed husbands, wives and women it seems only appropriate I address the subject of young men as Scripture would put before us. We are told that young men glory in their strength (Proverbs 20:29) which today we see carried out on the fields of sport. This physical strength can also be channeled into strength of soul and spirit as 1 John 2:13-14 tells us. Perhaps that is why the Mormons find it so successful to send out their youth in two’s to carry the message of their belief to others.

These same positive characteristics of young men sadly are often led astray. King Rehoboam discovered this when he looked to the unwise counsel of young men (1 Kings 12:8-14) for his decisions. This same unwise counsel comes because with youth is often unbridled passion easily led astray (Proverbs 7:7-23) and impatience as shown in the example Christ shared in the words of Luke 15:12-13.

What then do young men need to remain on the right path. The path God would have them travel. Most importantly they need God’s Word (Psalm 119:9). Until you fully surrender, as the rich young ruler was advised by Christ (Matthew 19:20-22) to do, guided by The Word, your life will be one of struggling. As the Wisdom of Solomon shares in Proverbs 1:4, young men need this knowledge from God and to live out lives of discretion accordingly. This sober mindedness Titus speaks of (2:6) will build a young man into the person any parent and most especially God would want him to be. A REAL GENTLEMAN.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Young men when uniting God’s Word with their years can do wonders.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 119:9 “Young men have a special need for God’s Word”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord bring our youth to Your Word.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  How can the strength of youth be a positive?
  2.  What often leads the young to provide unwise counsel?
  3.  What makes young men vulnerable to demonic ways?
  4.  Define a real gentleman?

HAPPIER HOMES AND A BETTER WORLD!

There was a time when the worst behavior of our youth defined them as ‘juvenile delinquents’. To be labeled as such was an embarrassment almost beyond recovery especially by the parents. Today being embarrassed is seldom seen and behavior continues to get worse while rules and laws protect the truly guilty often more than the innocent.

Juvenile delinquency has been around since long before the time of Christ. The sons of Eli were such in their disrespect for honoring the Lord (1 Samuel 2:12-17). Only the day before I write this I saw youth wandering the streets on a Sabbath morning in my nearby community. For my  family the Sabbath was a day of worship of God and time with family and not focusing on self.

Samuel’s sons (1 Samuel 8:1-5) likewise were juvenile delinquents. Placed in authority there favor was able to be bought. That same scenario exists today where ‘truth’ is sold to the highest bidder. What many do not realize is God’s truth can never be compromised. God as ultimate judge will see to that. Numerous other examples of juvenile delinquency exist in Scripture but the real question is how do you provide safeguards against this reprehensible behavior.

First it is necessary to have parents who pray. One of the best examples is Hannah (1 Samuel 1:9-28). Her faithful  prayers for a child who would be dedicated to the Lord were heard. Today parents need again to return to prayer.

In addition to prayer there needs to be strict discipline. The old adage of “spare the rod (you) spoil the child” is still true. In fact it is Scriptural found in Proverbs 13:24. Not only should discipline be used when bad behavior occurs but as vs. 24 tells us it should be done promptly.

Finally juvenile delinquency would be less of an issue if early training on proper behavior occurred (Proverbs 22:6). There may be some truth in the adage that “it is never to late” but proper training from conception on using the Bible alone as your guide will make for HAPPIER HOMES AND A BETTER WORLD.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Juvenile delinquency happens when human judgment replaces divine judgment.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY:  Proverbs 22:6 “early training is a safeguard against juvenile delinquency”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord keep my family in Your truth.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How are today’s rules and laws affecting juvenile delinquency?
  2. What factors reinforce juvenile delinquency?
  3. How do people try to compromise truth?
  4. How does the Bible understand discipline?

LOVE GIFTS FROM GOD

The title of my devotional this morning are the words that crossed my mind the first time I set my eyes on my new granddaughter. That has not changed with each subsequent visit as I am sure is the case for all of you with grandchildren.

As parents, there are certain responsibilities such as naming rights but the most important is to bring the infant to Jesus as Christ Himself requested in Matthew 19:14. This devotional is not to discuss the merits of infant baptism but to acknowledge the importance of receiving the act of blessing upon a newborn as shown when Zachariah blessed the child (his child) John later to be called the Baptist (Luke 1:67-80).

Infants need to be brought up in the words of Scripture as they have an enormous capacity to believe (Matthew 18:6). This instruction is given to parents, sponsors and family in 2 Timothy 3:15 and I believe most importantly asked of fathers (Ephesians 6:4) who are to be the spiritual head of the family.

This spiritual training needs a support network and understanding which can only come through worshiping in God’s House. It has often been said that the family that prays together stays together. That begins in the home but culminates in church. It is at those moments we best understand the LOVE GIFTS FROM GOD.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Infants are an inheritance that give understanding to the name Immanuel (God with us).

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Matthew 18:6 “Infant capacity to believe”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for each gift of love You send.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Does Scripture suggest infant salvation and if so where?
  2. What are the arguments for infant baptism versus believer baptism?
  3. Reflect on your spiritual upbringing and that of any children you may have?
  4. Who is your support network?

 

GRANDCHILDREN!

It goes almost without saying that at least for me the highest point in my life was the birth of my children and now grandchild. Experiencing the love of God is seen most directly in the birth of a newborn child as God most directly shared when He sent us His Son which we now celebrate as Christmas.

Children and grandchildren come into our lives in many ways. Some that are looked upon with disfavor such as shared in Genesis 19:30-38 in the story of Lot. Despite the circumstance they were all known in the womb by God as Scripture tells us. Our responsibility is from the moment of birth to instruct them in the ways of pious (holy) living beginning at home (1 Timothy 5:4).

For parents and grandparents it is important to set the right example (Exodus 34:7) as the old saying goes the “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. Our lifestyle be it in a physical or spiritual way affects lives for generations to come. This can even go as far as serving false gods (2 Kings 17:4) condemning that child to a life in hell. Imagine yourself as that type of parent or grandparent.

Going into my 7th decade of life, I now fully realize the majesty contained in the words of Proverbs 17:6 that “children’s children are the crown of old men”. No honor or accomplishment in life comes close to being blessed with GRANDCHILDREN.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The true greatness of grandchildren is seen as they grow closer to God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Proverbs 17:6 “Grandchildren are the crown of all men”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for the blessing of grandchildren.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How has your or someone else’s grandchild changed your life?
  2. Does the circumstance of birth matter to God?
  3. Why should all children be loved from the moment of conception?
  4. If you have a grandchild, what will your legacy be that you leave to them?

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CHILDREN!

Steve Martin in one of his movies once gave the line that “if I mess up raising my kids, nothing I achieve will matter much”. Whether the script writer meant to be Biblical he certainly was. In Proverbs 22:6 parents are given the responsibility of raising children. They may not always heed our instruction but instruct we must.

The seriousness of this responsibility is underscored by Christ Himself. In Mark 9:42 He tells us causing a child of God who believes in Him to stumble will be severely punished. As we are all children of God it could be understood not to cause anyone to stumble.

The Bible is clear on what are reasons for capitol punishment. The list includes: murder, adultery, incest, sodomy, rape, witchcraft, prostitution, blasphemy, sharing false doctrine and being disobedient to parents. The first step to prevent these is bringing up a child in the Word of God. These may sound harsh but it is God’s Word to the people before the time of Christ and Christ Himself did not put away the Old Testament teachings we understand today during His ministry on earth.

Our societies infrastructure has fallen apart because our family unit has fallen apart. Poor parenting and a secular interfering government has sped the process along. The church in many ways has allowed itself to become barely relevant at best.

Today as a parent or grandparent knowing the world we live in we must fight back. We do so one family at a time. The reason is IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CHILDREN.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Children choose Christ when parents display a Christian character.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Mark 9:42 “warning about hell”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord help me to be the best parent I can be.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Have you done what God asks for your children?
  2. Does your family know Christ?
  3. What in your life may cause others to stumble?
  4. Can societies infrastructure be repaired?

RELATED BLOGS: The parent-child relationship, Parenting, and Instruction time.

SELDOM DISCUSSED BUT STILL RELEVANT!

With the advent of increasingly more proficient medical care an act known as circumcision performed on male infants has fallen out of favor. As it is relevant to our faith I felt it important to look at this procedure and how the Bible views its necessity or lack thereof.

First of all we must understand that circumcision was done for the sake of purity and to show personal commitment to God. It is first mentioned in Genesis 17:9-14 as a part of the covenant or agreement between God and Abraham.

The need for this was later removed as we see in Acts 14:1 that false teachers would use it in conversations with Gentiles (non-Jews) until properly disposed of by Peter when in vs. 10-11 he refers to it as a yoke in that salvation comes through grace received through Christ’s death and resurrection and not this earlier agreement. Now our commitment to God and desire for physical and spiritual purity comes not through circumcision but keeping the commandments of God (1 Corinthians 7:19) and through this grace.

Paul in Galatians 5:1-4 clarifies that the Gospel of grace not the laws of circumcision is what saves us and this is clearly stated in verse 6 with the words “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avoids anything but (rather) faith working through love”. In fact as Colossians 3:11 tells us Christ now is our “all in all”.

Circumcision is indeed SELDOM DISCUSSED BUT STILL RELEVANT for the possible health benefits and to help bring us to the awareness of our need for God’s redemptive grace through Christ Jesus’s death and resurrection.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY:  The necessity for circumcision was removed in the coming of Christ.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 7:18-19 “Apostles of Christ remove necessity for circumcision”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for Your grace.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How do you feel about the importance of circumcision?
  2. What ways can we show personal commitment to Christ?
  3. What is the relationship between the commandment’s and circumcision?
  4. Explain how faith works through love?

FOUND IN THE TEMPLE

The only event in the life of Jesus that was important enough to write about according to John was the temple experience. It is interesting to note that the Passover was a time when families traveled together to Jerusalem and often would not see a child for a lengthy period of time which was the situation with Jesus and his parents. It seems that Jesus desired to be with the church elders in one of the 3 rooms outside the sanctuary used for instruction and instead of listening was the one who was doing the teaching.

After a day’s journey Mary and Joseph discovered that Jesus was missing from the large family and village group of people who traveled together and needed to return to find Him. Jesus understood as did all young boys I expect at that time that when you were age 12 you were in a training year learning a trade before you become a fully adult member at age 13 and from that moment on could see the enforcement of penalties for breaking Jewish law so to have Christ take on the role much like that of an adult was a serious issue for His family. Naturally Jesus was special and so his action at age 12 was not totally unusual. In fact Solomon at age 12 was given authority to judge 2 women so there were special cases and children in Jewish history.

The example of Christ being lost by His family reminds me that for many who feel they have lost Christ in their lives they to should return where they last knew Him to be. This was a lesson Mary and Joseph learned and one we can learn from as well. Christ will not be found in yoga, drugs or any number of other avenues that supposedly will put us in touch with Him but perhaps it is simply to return to the place of our youth (maybe a church home) where we first heard His stories.

I also believe we can take from this lesson that as Christ did we grow in our faith by first listening quietly, then asking thoughtful questions and then sharing as Jesus did with the elders our knowledge with others. Being FOUND IN THE TEMPLE as Christ was is a place we should all be found in and not just on Sunday morning.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Time spent in the temple being taught the Word of God is time well spent.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Luke 2:49 “the business of Jesus as a child”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may I be found in Your temple growing always in Your knowledge.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. How much time do you spend in your house of faith?

2. What do you do once you find a place of worship to further your knowledge and that of others?

3. What are you doing to increase your knowledge of Scripture?

4. At what age should a child take on the responsibilities of an adult in their Christian life?

 

HAVE YOU GIVEN UP YET?

Giving up, throwing in the towel, submission are all words we tend to shy away from ever more so as we find ourselves in a self-centered world that seems to affirm our being entitled to what we want along with the how’s, when’s and where’s that are involved in those decisions. In fact many even want to dictate who is to fulfill their presumed needs even if it is contrary to the other person’s values. An example of this are those who want a non-traditional “marriage” (male to male, female to female, etc.) taking to court photographers or cake makers, and others who do not want to affirm such an event.

Often times the person who is the biggest “bully” (stronger, has the court behind them) is the one who wins in at least some fashion. So what does the Bible say about submission? Naturally this must be prefaced with submission only when it is according to God’s Word (Acts. 4:18-20) and not causing you to act contrary to it.

We begin with one of the most controversial in Eph. 5:22 with wives submitting to husbands (not my words but God’s spoken through Paul). Elsewhere I have elaborated on this and I would suggest you also read verse 21 along with this as it helps understand that humble obedience to another person’s will is aided when it is a 100% loving relationship that exists between the husband and wife. What makes this submission work in its proper fashion is when that 100% love is a love founded on Christ by both spouses.

Hebrews 13:17  next tells us to offer humble obedience to Christian leaders who are responsible for our souls. Imagine a pastor or deacon calling on you to ask you to change your behavior or be at risk of loosing your soul. That may seem harsh but consider the consequence if not confronted. Again today that often results in a falling away from the church as self conquers soul most often.

Ultimate submission must be to God (James 4:7) which is produced through our deep and abiding faith. This submission as vs. 7 tells us will help us in all areas as satan will be less of a factor in our lives if at all. In 1 Peter we see scriptures last places of submission beginning with ch. 2:13 where we are called upon to be good citizens obeying all unless contrary to scriptrue. This includes payment of taxes willingly and prayer for our leadership.

Finally in James 5:5 we see submission of Christians to one another with a special emphasis of younger people to their elders. That topic alone can be a separate devotional but until then we need to understand that submission or ‘giving up’ is not necessarily a bad thing and so we should ask ourselves HAVE WE GIVEN UP YET?

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Submission is sweet when remaining steadfast in the ways of God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Eph. 5:22 “rules of submission”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may I remain in submission to You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. What are examples of people demanding submission from someone else?

2. Explain Eph. 5:22 of wives being submissive to husbands?

3. When have Christian leaders lost their right of receiving humble obedience or should exercise it more vigorously?

4. What ways are youth submitting or not submitting to their elders?

 

LEFT BEHIND

I suspect many if not most parents look to their own children as well behaved or at least in a sufficient enough manner that they will be responsible citizens. When there behavior is called into question many parents take offense at that since it also calls into question there parenting skills as well.

The Bible clearly speaks about parental correction or discipline beginning in Prov. 10:13 where the wise King Solomon tells us that growing in understanding must naturally accompany discipline. Discipline it must be understood must be done without anger and with love  as if it is not you may well find yourself crossing the fine line of child abuse which involves legal action. Nevertheless there is at least some truth in the old adage that “to spare the rod is to spoil the child”. The goal of course is an obedient child and generally speaking if the problem is caught early enough and appropriate correction or discipline administered then understanding will be the end result.

Discipline or correction is also meant to drive out foolishness (Prov. 22:15). Foolishness in Scripture is a lack of wisdom especially in regard to issues of finality. Today it seems that type of discipline is totally overlooked as we see foolishness, especially regarding issues of final judgment, everywhere we look. Growing up I had no choice about going to church, catchism, etc. and I have to admit that even if one fact made an impression on me it was time well spent.Today I am very thankful of that. The reason for this is Prov. 23:13-14 as we see that without growing in faith you jeopardize your child loosing their soul to eternal judgment (hell). Those are hard words to hear and for me to speak but that is exactly the concern King Solomon was inspired to share with us. Take a moment or two to let that fact sink in.

As the bible teaches chastening (a.k.a. discipline) is a way to build reverence (Heb. 12:8-10) and it is in the manner that God disciplines even we who believe that we when in roles of authority should discipline others and most especially our children otherwise they truly will be LEFT BEHIND.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Discipline is not a disgrace when it willingly leads to discipleship.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Prov. 22:15 “parental discipline drives out foolishness”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord let my disciplining be in a fashion and for a purpose acceptable to You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. Have you as a parent or child ever been in a situation where the manner of discipline given or received has been called into question?

2. Should a child’s behavior reflect on the parent?

3. What are different ways to discipline that lead to understanding?

4. Should children be required by parents to attend church, Sunday School, confirmation or youth meetings?

RELATED BLOGS: “Instruction time” and “parenting”.

UNTOUCHED!

A topic that for many Christians is snickered at but society seems to be obsessed by is sex and most especially regarding virginity (defined as an untouched woman). Scrolling through my cable TV channels I now see the channel set aside for youth (MTV) has a show mocking virginity and one show after another on television and in the movies seems to agree with MTV’s viewpoint.

The topic of virginity is not to be avoided nor does the Bible do so, but for many the understanding of it is vague at best. King Solomon proclaimed to be one of the wisest men ever in Proverbs 30:18-19 puts the male and yet untouched female level at the same majestic level as travel in the sky, on earth and on water so it behooves us to know what God wants us to have knowledge about regarding this topic.

Today couples ‘play house’ on a seemingly regular basis. In Deut. 22:28-29 that action would be considered the same as marriage especially in regards to never separating unless as Christ clarified later for infidelity reasons. The danger of course is that the reason for what once was called courtship (dating) necessary to learn about how compatible you are with someone is now cast aside. The idea of living together has potentially serious repercussions if the dating is not first gone through.

The love of a man for an  untouched woman that brings forth a child as in the case of the Virgin Mary and after a relationship for mortals is so special that God used this method to introduce Himself to earth in human form. The Virgin Mary still serves as a role model for women in the understanding of sexual intimacy.

Another perspective is presented by Paul in 1 Cor. 8:34. Paul supports marriage and even with a virgin past child bearing age but seems to feel that if a person is inclined as a young unwed woman to disciple for Christ she should remain clean and therefore unmarried. The secondary work that goes with marriage takes time away from God. To remain untouched is in fact so highly regarded that John writes in Rev. 14:4 of some virgins who will one day be presented to God and I suspect that is the reason for convents where in some faiths women choose to dedicate their earthly life to God going UNTOUCHED.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: A life of a virgin is not vain when following the voice of God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Prov. 30:18 “an amazing relationship”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord my body, soul and spirit is Yours.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. What is your view of virginity?

2. Is it okay to consummate the act of marriage before speaking vows before God?

3. How has Hollywood distorted virginity and marriage?

4. Have you ever visited with a convent member?