Day 50 – A Terrible Thing
26Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil…29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all_bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:26-27, 29-32
Anger is a terrible thing. It is an emotional outburst that is most often associated with the types of expressions that Paul lists in Ephesians 4:31 – things like bitterness (perhaps present because of some feeling of injustice done), wrath (expressed out of a desire to get even with someone), clamor (a noisy, loud expression of annoyance), and slander (making false statements about another person). All of these expressions are unattractive in the one initiating the angry outburst and damaging to the targeted person or thing. My guess is that you have been the recipient of such troubling and disturbing behaviour. How did you feel when you became the subject of another person’s anger?
The Bible teaches that we don’t need to get into a state of anger. We can feel anger rising within and stop at that point, “and sin not”. Sinning might include misdirecting our anger and attacking someone who is not guilty of the affront we feel. Sinning might also mean allowing that inner anger to linger and grow and eventually explode in one of the ways verse 31 describes. We can choose between an angry response to a situation on the one hand and an act of kindness on the other (verse 32).
The Christian must always relate his or her actions to one’s relationship to God. Verse 30 says that God the Holy Spirit is “grieved” – saddened – by our angry abusive behaviour. You have been saddened by someone’s anger, saddened for yourself or another recipient, yes, but also for saddened for how this anger is hurting the perpetrator. God feels sadness when we are angry. God has already demonstrated how to respond to the offense of others. Verse 32 calls on us to consider Christ. God in Christ (as a result of Jesus Christ’s willingness to come to this earth, humbly live as a man, and die for the sins of others) has forgiven us.
It is hard to forgive an angry outburst, because it hurts. But this is God’s call for us. Thus, this passage at the end of Ephesians chapter 4 challenges us to avoid sinful anger and to forgive it in others.
- Read Ephesians 4:17-32.
- Think of a recent time when you were in the midst of someone’s angry outburst. How did you feel? What did you see that was unbecoming – something you would not want to be seen in yourself. Have you forgiven the guilty one (not excusing sinful, hurtful actions, but calling out to God on behalf of the person who caused them)?
- Think of a recent time when you were angry. How did that manifest itself? Is there anyone to whom you owe an apology?
- Reflect on the life of Jesus as presented in the Gospels. He spoke firmly against sin and drove out money changers, etc. from the Temple. Were any of these actions motivated by personal vengeance? How much of your anger is motivated by zeal for the things of God (John 2:17)?
Day 51 – The Most Important Thing You Will Do This Week
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
The title of this piece is probably somewhat exaggerated, but I do want to write about at least one of the most important things you will do this week.
In Hebrews 10 we read about the open pathway into the presence of God which Christ has made for us (verse 19). Jesus Christ is our “great high priest”, there for us, and consequently we are to approach God with a true heart, trusting, and knowing we are cleansed as a result of Christ’s work (verse 22). But having a relationship with God is not just a personal thing; it also involves others. That means we maintain an unshakable confession before the world and we give attention to helping and encouraging others in their expressions of love and good works (verse 24). How can we do that? Answer: “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (verse 25).
The Pew Research center reported on church attendance of at least once per month in Canada and the United States. From 1986 to 2010, in Canada (for those 15 years of age and older) attendance fell from 43% to 27%, and in the United States (those ages 18 and over) from 54% to 46%. http://www.pewforum.org/2013/06/27/canadas-changing-religious-landscape/
Were you in church last Sunday? Will you be there this coming Lord’s Day? I know that you may be tired, not thrilled about the pastor’s preaching or the music, and maybe feeling neglected by some of the folks at your church. The New Testament reports on local churches that had many problems in their day – it’s not unusual. We know what Jesus thought of the spiritual leaders and some inappropriate practices in the synagogues and temple of His day, yet He regularly attended – Luke 4:16, “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he_stood up to read.”
Yes, even with our concerns, there is still reason regularly to be there: “encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:25; I Thessalonians 5:11). You are needed for someone else’s sake (use your gifts to serve one another – I Peter 4:10; confess your sins and pray for one another – James 5:16).
The scriptural injunctions are many and clear. We are expected by God to gather in Christ’s name (Matthew 18:20), to be part of a group that features teaching, admonishing, and singing (Colossians 3:16), to use God-given Spiritual gifts to serve one another (Romans 12:4-8; Ephesians 4:11-13; I Cor. 12:7-11; 27-28), to break bread and pray together (Acts 2:42), and to go into the world baptizing and teaching others what Jesus has commanded (Matthew 28:19-20). We also have the example of the early church in establishing a pattern of congregations regularly meeting for worship (Hebrews 13:7,17; Acts 2:42-47; I Timothy 5:17; I Thessalonians 15:12-13; Acts 14:20-21; 20:7; I Peter 5:1-4). In the Old Testament, the psalmist encouraged believers as follows (Psalm 100:4-5): 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name. 5 For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
Although we are individuals, we still belong to one another. Romans 12:5, “ So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”
- Read and reflect on Hebrews 10:19-25.
- Reflect on your own church attendance. Are you following the biblical command and example in this matter?
- In addition to the reasons related to believers’ responsibility to one another, we also attend church to honour God. Recently, I was a visitor in a fine church where the sermon part of the service surprisingly disappointed, even concerned, me for its lack of biblical content and some misleading emphases. How might I still find blessing and extend encouragement to others in that situation?
- The next time you are at church, express thanks to someone (and to God) for the help and encouragement that you received from the service.
Day 52 – More Than A Number
“They cried out to God in the battle, and he granted their urgent plea because they trusted in him.” I Chronicles 5:20b
I am quiet in the classroom.
I don’t always raise my hand.
I don’t always answer questions.
I don’t always understand.
But I always have ideas
when I stare up at the sky.
My sister likes to tease me
for always asking, “Why?”
I am more than a number.
I am more than a grade.
I know the constellations.
Here’s a painting I made.
I read books in my closet.
I will not be a ‘2’.
I am more than a number.
I’m a person just like you. *
This song captures what many of us have experienced sometime or another. We would like people to know that there is more to us than one personality trait or event or experience.
The Bible often presents lists. An example is found in I Chronicles chapters 1-9. There we have various genealogies, for example of Adam to Abraham, Abraham to Jacob, Jacob’s sons to David, David to the sons of Solomon, members of the twelve tribes of Israel, Saul’s descendants, and some returned exiles. I have not attempted to count the names – there are many! These names show connections that are important to the coming of Jesus Christ and His claim to David’s throne. They show God’s special love for and historical role given to the people of Israel. Thus, names in a list have value.
But there is another thing that impresses me about the way the list is presented. As I read through the nine chapters of I Chronicles I see side comments about particular people that show the individuality and personal influence of certain ones. Here is another list identifying some ways people contributed to their society in their day:
- served as priest
- more honourable
- prayed for God’s help
- valiant men with bow and spear
- trusted in God
- served in the Temple
- mourned and was comforted
- mighty warriors
- gatekeepers responsible for opening doors, caring for Temple utensils and furniture and preparation of shewbread
On the negative side, some are described as
- breaking faith with God
- being evil in God’s sight
These people were not just ancestors of Jesus, as wonderful as that was, but they were family members and friends who had specific jobs that impacted those around them and the nation as a whole, mostly for good but in a few cases for evil.
You and I are numbers to the systems with which we have to interact (employee or student numbers, driver’s licence numbers, social insurance or social security numbers, and on and on). We, too, are names on a list (family genealogies, members of a church or a profession or an organization, etc.) and that list has value, too. But we should note that the people around us, or even strangers with whom we interact in the course of our social lives and while doing business, are individuals whose role and personal values make a mark. Many do their jobs well. Many help us in our following of God. Some are harmful to others and disrespectful to God.
How is my life being lived? How am I influencing others? Am I accepting of God’s call upon my life? In God’s accounting of my life, will He insert a note of commendation or of rebuke? You and I are more than numbers or names.
- Read at least some of these chapters. For example, I Chronicles 9.
- So far, what has God called you to do in life? Have you agreed to follow His calling and to do so with the best of your obedience and ability?
- Is there a person in your life you should thank for the way she or he is performing God’s calling? Will you thank God for that person?
- As you read the Bible and come to sections that are hard to pay attention to, resolve to go forward with care for the small details that jump out to you as curious.
* Words by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater; music by Barry Lane. From More Than A Number: Songs for Sane Schools, released May 12, 2013. All rights reserved. For additional words from this song, see https://barrylane.bandcamp.com/track/more-than-a-number
Day 53 – How to Love One Another
“Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:10 ESV
Social media platforms allow individuals to express their views on any number of issues. When such views are expressed they often elicit responses that either provide ringing endorsement or strident disagreement. Whether agreeing or disagreeing, people often feel free to enter into name-calling or other forms of bitter criticism of those with whom they disagree. This can occur between followers of Jesus Christ – followers, for example, who may have opposing political views.
In Romans 12:1-13:14 we are given several practical ways to live out the command to love one another.
The passage starts with the submission of yourself to God for His purposes – and His purposes will almost certainly mean willingness to sacrifice self for the sake of another (12:1). Then, you apply love for your neighbor in any number of ways, such as:
- serving others through use of your gifts (12:6-8)
- being genuine & honourable (by entering into the joys and sorrows of others, praying, contributing to needs, 12:9-13)
- blessing those who hurt you (do this by not paying back evil done to you with more evil, by living peaceably, by overcoming evil with good, 12:14-21)
- submitting to the governing authorities (because they are in power for your good, 13:1-7)
The instruction then ends as it began: in this case, instead of “sacrifice”, the word is “love” (13:8). Four of the ten commandments are stated and the others assumed (“any other commandment”, 13:9) as the writer tells us these commandments can be summed up in the one injunction, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
- Love does no harm to one’s neighbor (13:10).
- Love for one another is likened to living in the light in stark contrast to the darkness of indulging in immorality, jealousy, and quarreling (13:11-13).
- And living in the light is living in the power of the risen Jesus Christ (13:14).
God presents us with a choice. We can seek vengeance or shower blessings on our enemies. We can promote ourselves or humble ourselves and give caring attention to others. We can live in a worldly fashion or in a Christ-like way. So, in our encounters, whether in person or online, with others, we make the choice that the Apostle calls “honourable” and in that way fulfill the purpose for which Christ called us.
- Read Romans 12:1-13:14.
- How will you respond to another’s expression of a viewpoint that disagrees with your own? Is there a way you can respond peaceably while still holding to your position?
- In Romans 12:9-13 the Apostle Paul calls us to be generous towards others. Is there someone who comes to mind now with whom you often disagree but for whom you can pray or show compassion and appreciation?
- Think of the 10 Commandments. How is each an expression of love for one’s neighbor?
- How would Jesus react to a provocation you have experienced recently?
Day 54 -Work, Work, Work
29 Jesus answered them,“This is_the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:29
There are three kinds of work mentioned in John chapter 6.
The first kind of work mentioned is the type of human effort which is aimed at achieving and acquiring worldly success and possessions (v.27, “the food that perishes”). Last week I received an alumni magazine from one of the universities from which I graduated. The magazine is printed on glossy paper, has good photography, and fourteen stories about alumni who have achieved significant success in the eyes of the world – among them a researcher trying to help impoverished Africans, an investment counsellor helping farmers, a medical researcher whose work has saved lives, an advocate for women who are victims of relationship violence, and another woman working with a not-for-profit organization that helps girls in countries where they have little opportunity to live their dreams.
There is no doubt that these people are worthy of honour, a credit to their institution, having taken hold of a vision and an opportunity to succeed. This kind of human effort is commendable, but other people may achieve wealth and fame while at the same time not being worthy in terms of their character or their field of endeavor. In the latter cases, we are talking about an accomplishment that won’t last – like food that perishes. There is no doubt that human effort can bring notable results, some good, some not so good, even harmful to others.
The second category of work refers to good works to one assumes will earn merit with God (v. 28, “the works of God”). There are millions of people who believe there is a God and put much of their focus on trying to earn his favour. The Guinness Book of World Records reports, “The longest distance ever swum without flippers in open sea is 225 km (139.8 miles) by Veljko Rogošić (Croatia) across the Adriatic Sea from Grado to Riccione (both Italy) from 29-31 August 2006. The attempt took him 50 hours 10 mins.” http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/longest-ocean-swim. Over two hundred kilometers is a long distance, but not even this record holder can swim across the Atlantic. So, if we likened reaching heaven on our own effort to swimming across an ocean, we would have to say, it’s impossible. The Bible teaches that we are accepted by God through a work of His grace, through a gift, and not by our ‘good works’.
“8 For_by grace you have been saved through faith. And this your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result_of works, so that no one may_boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in_righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior. (Titus 3:4-6)
That takes us to the third way in which works are talked about in this 6thchapter of John. It is somewhat different than the first two. Jesus says, in effect, ‘If you want to do good works, here’s the only type that count – belief in Me’ (v. 29, “that you believe in Him whom He has sent”). Belief in the One sent by God is the “work” He requires. Paul had the same message: “A man is justified by faith” (Romans 3:28). Jesus reiterates the point in verses 35-36 and 40, using the word “believe(s)” three times.
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 40For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
This is not a vague concept of “belief” or “faith”, but a focused one: belief in Jesus Christ specifically. It means an acceptance of what He has done for us and a recognition that our own efforts never could be enough.
- Read John 6:25-40.
- Why do humans want to depend on their own effort to approach God? Why isn’t self-effort good enough to gain God’s acceptance?
- Notice that Jesus made His hearers reflect on His coming to earth and the work He was sent to do. Belief has an object. See John 14:6.
Day 55 – Thanksgiving
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! I Chronicles 16:34
Most cultures have a harvest season celebration. As I write this it is the second Monday of October – Thanksgiving Day in Canada. A proclamation by the Canadian government issued in 1957 established this as “A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed – to be observed on the second Monday in October.” Yesterday, our family gathered for turkey and all the trimmings, including pumpkin, apple, and peach pies to choose from! The grandchildren enjoyed a ride around the yard, pulled in a trailer by my son-in-law’s new yard tractor and several of us played a little baseball.
Harvest festivals are fairly common around the world. Like Canada, the United States has a Thanksgiving Day (in November), while similar acknowledgements of the bounty of the harvest are held at various times of year in Britain, Iran, India, China, Poland, and elsewhere.
In the Bible we read that the Israelites were to observe a time of gratitude for the harvest:
13 You shall keep the Feast of Booths seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your winepress.14 You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns. 15 For seven days you shall keep the feast to the LORD your God at the place that the LORD will choose, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful. Deuteronomy 16:13-15
This time of thanksgiving focused on God’s deliverance of the nation from Egypt and subsequent provision during the wilderness wanderings. It was celebrated over a whole week. John 7 shows Jesus attending this feast (which is also called the Feast of Tabernacles). It reads,
37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive….” John 7:37-39
Jesus Christ came as the deliverer from the bondage of sin and as the provider for all we need in our following of Him.
God not only created the soil and the seeds that grow into our fruits and vegetable, and the sun and the rain to nourish them. He uses these things to feed our animals and birds, and also gives us the strength to do the work of harvesting what we eat – or the work of another job that enables us to purchase these foods. “You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” (Deuteronomy 8:18)
So, we thank God. On radio this morning a reporter interviewed some recent immigrants, asking what they knew about Canadian Thanksgiving. Answers were “a family time”, “turkey”, pumpkin”. Neither they nor the interviewer said anything about being thankful to God for His provision. But thankfulness to God is often encouraged in scripture, and not just for the harvest. We see expressions of thanks for God’s wonderful deeds, unfailing love, grace, and righteousness. We also are shown that God is to be thanked for the generosity one person shows another and for the service some render to others. By thanking others we are also thanking God who has brought us together.
- Read Psalm 9.
- The psalmist often listed reasons to thank God. If you were writing your own psalm, what things would you list?
- Ungratefulness is listed in II Timothy 3:1-5 as a sin of the last days. See Luke 17:11-19 for the Lord’s take on ungratefulness. Only one of ten mean healed of leprousy came back to thank Him, and He asks, “Where are the others?” Ask yourself, “Does He say this of me?”
- In his Daily Goodies blog, Clyde Pilkington, Jr. posted on November 23, 2010 that the Apostle Paul is the “Apostle of Thanksgiving”. Read about the many ways Paul expressed thanks at https://dailygoodies.wordpress.com/2010/11/23/paul-the-apostle-of-thanksgiving/
- On a prayer list I use, I have found it helpful to remind myself to identify one thing for which to be thankful each day. Based on Nehemiah, here are ways to thank God Monday through Saturday:
Monday – Thank God for His creation. Neh. 9:6
Tuesday – Thank God for His choosing and guidance of us. Neh. 9:7-8, 12, 19
Wednesday – His deliverance from trouble. Neh. 9:9-11
Thursday – His spiritual provisions. Neh. 9:13-14
Friday – His daily provisions and victories. Neh. 9:15, 20-25
Saturday – His forgiveness, discipline, and restoration. Neh. 9:16-18, 26-27
Day 56 -Generations
“Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, 2 that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Deuteronomy 6:1-2 ESV
The desire of God-fearing parents is that their children and their children’s children and beyond will love and follow the Lord. That desire is consistent with God’s stated desire as in Deuteronomy 6:2 and elsewhere – “you and your son and your son’s son”. Yet, we see all too often that such is not the case. Perhaps you grieve that your offspring and/or theirs in turn choose not to follow God.
We know that the decision about honouring the Lord is a personal one that must be made by each generation. It is not automatic that one generation that trusts and seeks to obey the Lord will be followed by the next that shares the same purpose and commitment. For example, in Joshua 2:7,10 we read that the people followed God in Joshua’s day and in the days of his immediate successors, but not in the generation after that.
” 7 And the people served the LORD all the_days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the LORD had done for Israel… 10And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel.”
This, sadly, is the story repeated in history since that time. Yet, we at the least, wish to influence our children and grandchildren in the right direction. How do we do that? A study of the many verses in the Bible that address parental responsibility gives us some clue to the ‘how’ of helping the succeeding generations.
The main direction we receive is to teach the next generations. Here are some verses that emphasize the teaching responsibility we have to our descendants:
Deuteronomy 6:6-9, 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 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.8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on_your gates.
[Notice here that teaching can be done deliberately, casually, at any time, and through visible reminders.]
Joshua 4:21-24, 21 And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come,‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’…24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”
[Notice that the teaching in this example takes the form of symbolic physical reminders (the stones) which give occasion to questions and answers.]
Psalm 78:1-7, Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! 2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, 3 things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. 5 He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, 6 that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, 7 so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments;
[Notice that the teaching can take the form of parables as well as direct instruction in the law and commandments.]
Proverbs 1:8, Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching…
Proverbs 3:1, My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments…
[The verses that follow in Proverbs 3 give promises and encouragement to trust God to direct one’s paths through life.]
Proverbs 22:6, Train up a child in the way he should go ;even when he is old he will not depart from it.
[Sometimes the ultimate result of our teaching may not be evident until later in the child’s life.]
Ephesians 6:4, Fathers, … bring them up in the discipline and_instruction of the Lord.
II Timothy 3:14-16, 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly_believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
[Timothy had learned from and come to faith under the teaching of his grandmother and mother. From “childhood” he had been taught the “sacred writings”.
Interestingly, there are also cautions in scripture about what not to do as you engage in the teaching of the next generation:
Colossians 3:21, Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
Ephesians 6:4, Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
[Good words of instruction can be nullified if spoken harshly, with a bad example of anger in their delivery, or without consideration of the child’s heart which can be easily hurt.]
I Peter 5:2-3, 2 Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
[Though these verses are aimed at church leaders, the principle can be applied to parents and grandparents. We need to examine our motives for the instruction we give to children. Is it for ourselves, our own convenience, or glory? Is it wrongly controlling? Are we living in the way we are telling our children to live?]
In addition to teaching the next generation, we are to discipline our children.
Proverbs 29:17, Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.
[There is a time and place for loving discipline.]
Hebrews 12:11, For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
[The context is God’s discipline of His children. Parental discipline, properly administered, benefits the child and is part of his or her training.]
And, one other thing – perhaps most important of all: we are to be an example.
I Peter 5:2-3, 2 Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,… being examples to the flock.
[Learners catch the sincerity and integrity of the instructor – or the lack thereof! Jesus not only taught His disciples but also remains an example: I Peter 2:21, For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. I Peter 2:21
We can teach, disciple, and leave an example to succeeding generations. In these ways, we provide opportunity and remove obstacles for those who follow.
- Read Psalm 78:1-7 and the other verses quoted above.
- What is your spiritual heritage? If positive, how are you living so as to replicate what you have seen and heard to the next generation? If negative, how are you living so as to change things for those who follow you?
- My father had as a favourite verse Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the_kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added”. ” The “these things” in the context refers to daily provisions like food and clothing that we worry about providing for our families. We could also think of the spiritual provisions we wish to provide for them. How might you and I “seek the kingdom of God” so that spiritual provision is made for our descendants?
- Is there some way God wishes you to be better prepared as a teacher, disciplinarian, and example to your children and children’s children?