Category: Bible Reflection & Challenge

Descriptions of a Childlike Faith

Descriptions of a Childlike Faith

Jesus’ statement to His disciples in Matthew 18:3 about them not entering the kingdom of heaven unless they are converted and become as little children speaks volumes of the importance of having a childlike faith.

But what is childlike faith? What makes one’s faith childlike?

Faith Rooted in Security

During the days of childhood, one learns how to survive and prosper, how to love and share, and how to serve and praise. A well-cared-for child has no worries about house payments, no anxious moments over job opportunities, no apprehensions about failure, and no thoughts of vengeance.

David exemplified this kind of faith while he was on the run from Saul. In Psalm 131:1-2, David compared the calmness and serenity he had in the Lord to that of a weaned child with his mother.

Content with God and the works He was doing in his life, David did not concern himself with great matters such as selfish ambition and self-promotion. Rather, he found serenity and security in his relationship with God.

Descriptions of a Childlike Faith

To have a childlike faith is to find serenity and security in our relationship with God no matter the circumstance.

Faith that Praises

Jesus loved children. He loved to use children to teach hard-headed and hard-hearted grown-ups about faith and praise. While preaching in the region of Judea, Christ was encircled by a great crowd.

“Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them and departed from there” (Matthew 19:13-15).

He later reminded the priests and scribes that “the mouth of babes and nursing infants” would offer praise fitting for God’s Anointed (Matthew 21:16). When Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a colt, a very great multitude that included children cried out saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9)!

The sound of the children praising Jesus in the temple courts made the chief priests and scribes indignant. In response, Jesus quoted from Psalm 8:2. God does not only want prayer in His house, He also delights in praise.

To have a childlike faith is to have a heart that always longs to praise and glorify God in each and every life’s circumstance.

*Read here: The Elements of Praise

Faith that Believes

Jesus used the lad with the five barley loaves and the two small fish to feed five thousand people (John 6:9). To show His power over death, He used a little girl. Jairus, a ruler in the synagogue, fell at Jesus’ feet begging Him to come to his house and save his dying twelve-year-old daughter.

Jesus agreed and tried to make His way with Jairus, but the surrounding crowd made the trip difficult. Word came that Jairus’ daughter had died. But Jesus responded, “Do not be afraid, only believe and she will be made well” (Luke 8:50).

At the house, as the parents wept over their loss, Jesus said, “She is not dead but sleeping” (Luke 8:52). Through tears, the people laughed at the impossibility of what they heard. Jesus then asked everyone to leave the room, and then He said, “Little girl, arise” (Luke 8:54), and she did!

Descriptions of a Childlike Faith

Romans 4:17 says that “God gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” Jesus spoke to the girl with the power of God, and she was raised from the dead. Jairus’ faith definitely played a part in the miracle healing of his daughter just like the faith of the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years had made her well (Luke 8:43-48).

Nothing is impossible with God if we would just believe. This is what it means to have a childlike faith.

Faith that is Humble

Another time, Jesus used a child to teach humility. In Matthew 18:1-5, we read how the disciples came to Jesus asking, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” and how did Jesus respond? He called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them and said, “Assuredly I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

He then went on to say, “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.”

The fact that Jesus had been sharing with the disciples that truth about His approaching suffering and death did not affect them for they were thinking only of themselves and what position they would have in His Kingdom. So absorbed were the disciples in this matter that they actually argued with each other (Luke 9:46).

Pride – the very sin that caused Satan to be cast down from heaven is what’s causing people to think of themselves more highly than others. When Christians are living for themselves and not for others, conflict and division are bound to result (James 4:1-2).

Descriptions of a Childlike Faith

True humility means knowing ourselves, accepting ourselves, and being ourselves – our best self – to the glory of God. It means avoiding two extremes: thinking less of ourselves than we ought to (as did Moses when God called him, Exodus 3:11), or thinking more of ourselves than we should (Romans 12:3).

The truly humble person does not deny the gifts God has given him or her but uses them to the glory of God. The truly humble person also helps to build up others, not to tear them down. This person is a stepping-stone, not a stumbling block. Thus, we must remove from our lives anything that makes us stumble. If we don’t, we will cause others to stumble as well.

An unspoiled child has the characteristics that make for humility: trust, dependence, a desire to make others happy, and an absence of boasting or selfish desires to be greater than others. By nature, we are all rebels who want to be celebrities instead of servants. And so we need a great deal of teaching for us to learn the lesson of humility.

Final Words

As Christians, we are encouraged to have a childlike faith. To have faith like a child is to completely trust our heavenly Father’s goodness, care, provision, leadership, and protection.

Have you experienced the peace of a well-cared-for child in letting Jesus take care of your worries? Have you found the healing that faith in Jesus brings? Have you praised His name with the joy of a child? Have you answered Jesus’ call in childlike faith, asking Him to be your Savior?

A Summary of the Book of Ruth

A Summary of the Book of Ruth

Ruth is one of the most significant books in the Old Testament for the Church. It explains like no other book in the Bible, the role and mission of the Kinsman Redeemer. This book is also an essential prerequisite to understanding the Book of Revelation. Before attempting to study Revelation 5, you need to understand the Book of Ruth.

In many respects, Ruth is the ultimate love story. It’s a love story on several levels. It’s a love story because Ruth falls in love with Boaz – that’s the main plotline. But overlaying that is the ultimate love story, a love story written in blood on a wooden cross, erected in Judea more than two thousand years ago.

Chapter 1: Ruth Remains with Naomi

Life was not easy in those days; for during the period of the judges, “Israel had no king so all the people did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6). How strange that a famine should hit Bethlehem, a town whose name means “house of bread,” thereby driving a family to Moab.

Elimelech, (which means “God is my king”) and his wife Naomi (“pleasant”) were forced to move to Moab along with their two sons, Mahlon (“unhealthy”) and Chilion (“puny”). The sons marry, but about ten years later all the men died, leaving Naomi destitute.

During those ten years, things began looking better back in Bethlehem, so Naomi decided to go back home. She released her two daughters-in-law from any obligations to her and encouraged them to find new husbands since they were still young. Naomi urged them not to follow her.

Ruth 1:16 Ruth's Loyalty to Naomi

Orpah ultimately decided to stay in Moab but Ruth (which means “desirable”) clung tightly to Naomi. In fact, her commitment is one of the most famous passages in the Bible. Ruth said:

“Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).

Ruth’s statement is one of the most magnificent confessions found anywhere in Scripture. First, she confessed her love for Naomi and her desire to stay with her mother-in-law even unto death. Then she confessed her faith in the true and living God and her decision to worship Him alone. She forsook her father and mother (Ruth 2:11) in order to cleave to Naomi and the God of her people.

Chapter 2: Ruth Gleans in the Field of Boaz

One of the values of the book is that to understand it, you have to do a little homework about the Law of Gleaning and the Law of the Levirate Marriage. The Law of Gleaning was a form of welfare. If you owned a field, your reapers could go through the field once, and only once. Whatever they missed was left for widows, the destitute, orphans, etc.

The existence of the gleaning law was proof of God’s concern for the poor among His people. The nation was instructed to treat the poor with equity (Exodus 23:3, 6; Leviticus 19:15; Proverbs 22:22-23) and with generosity (Leviticus 19:9-10). God was also concerned for the widows, many of whom were poor, and He told the people to care for them (Exodus 22:22-24; Isaiah 10:1-2).

A Summary of the Book of Ruth

In her gleaning, Ruth happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz (which means, “in him is strength”), one of the wealthiest landowners in the area. He was probably the primary leader among the men at the gate.

Boaz was introduced to Ruth by an unnamed servant. She obviously caught his eye because he instructed his supervisors not to let the young men touch her, and he gave her protection. He also instructed them to drop handfuls of grain on purpose.

It so happened that Boaz was a kinsman for Naomi’s family, which is why this is so important to us. The Law of Redemption said when someone sold their property; they actually sold only the rights to the property, not the title (the title belonged to God).

If you died, a kinsman of your family could go and pay the money to redeem the land. Naomi sold her property ten years before. Now they were back, but since she was destitute and couldn’t buy it back, a kinsman of hers would have the right to purchase that land from whoever was using it (the Law of Redemption is in Leviticus 25).

There is also a Law of the Levirate Marriage. If you were a widow without issue, you could ask your nearest kinsman to raise up an issue with you. He didn’t have to, but if he did, it would continue the line (see Deuteronomy 25). As we shall see, a family redeemer could rescue relatives from poverty and give them a new beginning.

The purpose of these laws was to preserve the name and protect the property of families in Israel. God owned the land and didn’t want it exploited by rich people who would take advantage of poor people and widows.

As a woman, a poor widow, and an alien, Ruth could have no claims on anyone. She was at the lowest rung of the social ladder. But grace is favor bestowed on someone who doesn’t deserve it and can’t earn it. Ruth received grace and the channel of that grace was Boaz.

The Message of the Book of Ruth

Ruth’s faith in God’s Word led her to the field of Boaz. The love of Boaz for Ruth compelled him to pour out his grace upon her and meet her every need. Ruth’s experience of grace gave her new hope as she anticipated what her family redeemer would do.

Chapter 3: Ruth at the Threshing Floor

The threshing floor was usually a raised platform outside the village and often on a hill where it could catch the evening breeze. Once the grain was harvested, the workers would throw the grain into the air, and the breeze would carry the chaff away while the grain fell to the floor. The men often worked in the evening when the breeze was up, and they slept on the threshing floor to protect the harvest.

Naomi understood all of this background. When she realized that Ruth happened upon the field of Boaz, she saw an opportunity because Ruth could put the bite on him to solve everybody’s problem. He could get Naomi back the land she had forfeited years ago and give Ruth a new life. So Naomi instructed Ruth on what to do.

Ruth washed herself, put on perfume and dress in her nicest clothes. Then she went down to the threshing floor where Boaz was sleeping, uncovered his feet and quietly lied down at his feet. When Boaz woke up and realized she was there, Ruth said, “Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a near kinsman” (Ruth 3:9).

There was no improper behavior implied in this episode; Ruth was asking Boaz to take her as a Levirate bride and put the authority of his house over her. He was flattered because he was much older and because he had learned a lot about her; she had a good reputation. He wanted to do this, but there was a problem: there is a kinsman nearer than him (Ruth 3:12).

A Summary of the Book of Ruth
Threshing Floor in Ancient Israel

Boaz told Ruth that he’ll see how things will go and gave her six measures of barley to take home as a code to Naomi that he would not rest until the matter was resolved. Not only did he calm Ruth’s fears, but he also made a promise to her concerning their future. That brings us to the climax of chapter 4, the redemption itself.

Chapter 4: Boaz Marries Ruth

The key theme of this chapter is redemption. The words “redeem,” “buy,” and “purchase” are used at least fifteen times and they mean “to set free by paying a price.”

In the case of Ruth and Naomi, Elimelech’s property had either been sold or was under some kind of mortgage. This explains why Ruth was also involved in the transaction.

As a near relative, Boaz could redeem the family property that Elimelech had mortgaged when he took his family to Moab. Naomi wasn’t wealthy enough to redeem it, but Boaz could buy it back and keep it in the family. The wife of the deceased went with the property; therefore, the family redeemer had to marry her and bring her up children bearing the name of the deceased. They would then inherit the property, and the family name and family possessions would continue to be theirs.

The Message of the Book of Ruth

Boaz was at the gate, which is like the city council, and told the nearer kinsman that Naomi had a piece of land t sell and needed a redeemer. The nearer kinsman said that it was no problem. But Boaz said, “By the way, the man who does this also has to take Ruth to bride.” But the nearer kinsman replied, “I can’t do that; it’ll ruin my inheritance.”

The nearer kinsman took off one shoe and gave it to Boaz, a symbol of him yielding the opportunity of the obligation. So Boaz purchased the land for Naomi and purchased Ruth as his bride. And that’s the term he used: he “purchased a bride.”

A Kinsman Redeemer

Looking at the Book of Ruth from the perspective of a goel, a kinsman redeemer, there are four requirements: 1) he has to be a kinsman; 2) he must be able to perform; 3) he must be willing, and 4) he must assume all of the obligations.

God has a goel for you and me. He has to be a kinsman of Adam. He must be able to perform. Revelation 5 is about the Seventh Sealed Book, the Title Deed of the Earth. No man was found to claim that Deed. It had to be a man. John sobbed convulsively because no man was found to redeem the earth.

But wait! There is one who has prevailed to open the book and loose the seals thereof. “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals” (Revelation 5:5).

And that unfolds in the story of Ruth. It has to be a kinsman, he has to be able; he was to be willing; he must assume all the obligations; and indeed, He has. “He proclaimed, “It is finished” (John 19:30)!

An Overview of the Book of Ruth

An Ultimate Purchase

Redemption, of which the story of Ruth and Boaz is a vivid illustration, becomes a theme in the New Testament. The primary Greek word used to convey this idea is a commercial word that simply means “to acquire something in the marketplace” (see its commercial use in Matthew 13:44 and Luke 9:13).

But used in reference to Christ and salvation, the word takes on a very important theological meaning. Paul modified this word in Galatians 3:13 and 4:5 with a preposition, so that the term literally means “to buy something and take it out of the marketplace.”

In essence, Paul was saying that by His death on the Cross, Jesus had purchased our pardon. We were under the curse of the Law, enslaved to sin, and destined to eternal death. But Christ redeemed us. He paid the price to buy us out of our sorry state and sad condition.

*Read here: What is the Cost of Our Redemption?

John Hagee said, “If you happen to be old enough to recall trading stamps, you may remember that it seemed to take forever to save the thirty or thirty-five books of stamps needed to purchase a toaster or a croquet set. The cost was high. The wait was agonizing. The taste from licking all those stamps was awful.”

The good news is, redemption in Christ is nothing like that. You don’t have to wait. It can be yours today. And the best of all it’s free because Jesus has already paid the full purchase price with His shed blood on the cross.

Conclusion

Ruth is a cameo story of love , devotion and redemption set in the black context of the days of the judges. It is the story of a Moabite woman who forsakes her pagan heritage in order to cling to the people of Israel and to the God of Israel. Because of her faithfulness in a time of national faithlessness, God rewards her by giving her a new husband (Boaz), a son (Obed), and a privileged position in the lineage of David and  Christ (she is the great grandmother of David).

The book of Ruth is also a harvest story about the Lord of the harvest bringing in the sheaves. Now, Boaz is the Lord of the harvest and he is also the kinsman-redeemer. So Boaz is a type of foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. Naomi typifies Israel. She was out of the land; through his redemption, she was brought back into the land. Ruth was the Gentile bride, a type of the Church.

In order for Ruth to be joined to Naomi, Naomi had to be exiled from her land. The nearer kinsman couldn’t take Ruth; it was against the law for an Israelite to marry Maoabite. But what the law could not do, grace did.

The Message of the Book of Ruth

Incidentally, Ruth did not replace Naomi. They are different; they are distinctive. Israel and the Church are distinctive; different origins, different missions. Ruth learned the laws of Israel through Naomi, a Jew. We Gentiles learn the ways of God by understanding the Jewish Scriptures. We worship a Jewish King in a Church composed of Jewish leaders using a Jewish Bible as our authority.

In the threshing floor scene, no matter how much Boaz loved Ruth, he had to respond to her move. And Boaz took it upon himself to be her advocate; he was her intercessor. He confronted the nearer kinsman.

You and I are also beneficiaries of a similar love story that was written in blood on a wooden cross erected in Judea almost two thousand years ago. Have you asked your Redeemer to be your God?


*References:

  1. Learn the Bible in 24 Hours by Chuck Missler
  2. NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible 
  3. The Transformation Study Bible (General Editor: Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe)
  4. The NKJV Prophecy Study Bible (General Editor: John Hagee)
The 3 Temptations of Jesus Christ

The 3 Temptations of Jesus Christ

The account of Jesus’ temptation recorded in Matthew 4:1-11 and in Luke 4:1-13 was not only God’s way of showing that Jesus was the perfect man, it also exposed the tactics of the enemy and reveals to us how we can overcome when we are tempted.

From the high and holy experience of blessing at the Jordan River, Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. It is important to note that it was the Spirit of God that led Jesus into the wilderness (Matthew 4:1). This is the same Spirit who descended on Jesus at His baptism and empowered Him (Matthew 3:16).

Satan Introduced in the Gospels

It is in this passage where the devil, Satan is first introduced in the Gospel. This is the same Tempter who showed up in the Garden (Genesis 3:1-5); the fallen angel, the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) and the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) who came in disguise, in the form of a serpent to deceive Adam and Eve; here Satan did not come in disguise, but in a bold and direct attack on Jesus.

The temptation in the Garden parallels that of Jesus’ temptation. But while the first Adam was tempted in a beautiful garden and failed, the last Adam (Jesus Christ) was tempted in a dangerous wilderness (Mark 1:13) and won the victory.

The Meaning of Temptation

The dictionary defines temptation as an urge or desire to do something, especially something you should not, or it refers to a wrong or forbidden pleasure that is enticing.

Lessons from the Temptation of Jesus Christ

In the Bible the word temptation primarily denotes a trial in which man has a free choice of being faithful or unfaithful to God; only secondarily does it signify allurement or seduction to sin.

The First Temptation

Matthew 4:3 “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

Notice how Satan picks up immediately on the fact that Jesus was hungry because He had not eaten for forty days (Matthew 4:2). By the way, there is no reason to doubt that Jesus really did fast for forty days and forty nights as the text clearly says. But the number “40” is commonly used in the Bible for a period of hardship, difficulty, or suffering.

When Jesus said, “If you are the Son of God …” he was not questioning Jesus’ deity for he knew exactly who Jesus was. He was saying, “Since you are the Son of God, why starve yourself to death? C’mon, just change some stones into bread.”

Satan challenged Jesus to prove or demonstrate that He is the Son of God through miraculous works. He wanted Jesus to use His divine powers to make something to eat. After all, Jesus was done fasting and He had the power to do exactly what Satan was suggesting. Didn’t He multiply food later during His ministry to feed some 4,000 and 5,000 people?

You may ask, “What’s wrong with that? Jesus was hungry and there’s definitely nothing wrong with hunger especially in a spiritual time of fasting. So why was this a temptation?” Because hunger represents human wants, plain and simple! Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights in order to focus on the spiritual and away from the physical, that is, the comforts of life. Then came Satan telling Him to use His divine powers to meet His own needs.

The 3 Temptations of Jesus Christ

Jesus’ Response to the First Temptation

Matthew 4:1 It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Jesus responded by quoting from Deuteronomy (Deut. 8:3). But Jesus was not just quoting a favorite verse. Chapter 8 of Deuteronomy talks about the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for forty years. After plundering the Egyptians of their gold and silver, God led the Israelites into the wilderness to teach them obedience and dependence on God.

God wanted the Israelites to know that God is all they had and all they needed. He provided them manna from heaven for food but in order to acquire it, they had to follow God’s instructions carefully. The main point is that God would provide their food but they needed to obey Him and submit to His will.

When Jesus refused to give in to Satan’s temptation, it isn’t that He did not want to eat. In fact, He was more than happy to eat what the angels brought to Him when the time of testing was over (Matthew 4:11). It wasn’t a matter of refusing supernatural help. Rather, it was a matter of obedience to the Father and submitting to His will in all things at all times.

The Second Temptation

The second temptation strikes at the very heart of Jesus’ previous victory. Jesus has overcome the first temptation by obeying God even it meant suffering from severe hunger and weakness. So Satan took Jesus into the holy city (Jerusalem), had Him stand on the highest point of the temple and said:

“If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands, they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone’” (Matthew 4:6).

What Can We Learn from the Temptation of JesusWhat exactly is the temptation here? It was for Jesus to create a crisis and then force or manipulate God to rescue Him. Satan was prompting Jesus to do something spectacular to demonstrate that He is indeed the Son of God.

The pinnacle or highest point of the temple arose some five hundred feet above the Kidron Valley. A leap from there and the appearance of the promised protection of the angels would be a spectacular event that will be in full view of all the assembled people.

Here, Satan appealed to the desire within every man to sense approval from God and to have that approval publicly displayed. Satan was saying to Jesus, “You are God’s Son and He loves you so if you jump down from here He will send His angels to rescue you. Isn’t that exactly what the Bible says?”

Notice how Satan himself uses Scripture in making the appeal. He quotes from Psalm 91:11-12 but left out the important words, “in all your ways,” thus making the text say what in truth it never promised. True to his nature of being a liar and deceiver, Satan twisted the Word of God in an attempt to make Jesus test God, which the Scriptures strictly forbid.

Jesus’ Response to the Second Temptation

Jesus responded by quoting also from Scripture and applying it correctly: “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God’” (Matthew 4:7). In other translations, it says, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:16, referencing Massa and Meribah in the wilderness where the Israelites murmured against God and tested Him because they did not believe that He could or would give them water.

Chapter 6 of Deuteronomy is the chapter in the Law that is foundational to Israel’s faith for it had the creedal statement in it, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4)! In this passage, God exhorts the Israelites to keep all His commandments and warns them against disobeying and testing Him.

The Third Temptation

Matthew 4: 9 “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”

The third temptation very much sounds like a desperate move on the part of Satan. He realized he was not winning and so he thought this time he would give it his best shot. After all, He had nothing to lose by asking Jesus to worship him.

Satan then took Jesus to a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world. Accordingly, there is no mountain in Israel high enough to see much of anything. Scholars say that Satan probably provided some vision of these kingdoms and promised that he would give them to Jesus if He would fall down and worship him.

For the third temptation, the devil offered Jesus a shortcut to His Kingdom. Jesus knew that He would suffer and die before He entered into His glory (Luke 24:26; 1 Peter 1:11, 20). If He bowed down and worshiped Satan just once (this is the force of the Greek verb), He could enjoy all the glory without enduring the suffering.

Satan was saying, “Look, you came as a king to inherit the nations. Here they are! I’m giving them to you in exchange for your worship. Why go through the trouble of being a suffering servant to get to the crown.” If we read the gospel of Luke, he adds that Satan claimed he had been given these kingdoms and he had the right to give them to Jesus if only He would fall down and worship him (Luke 4:6-7).

Jesus Tempted by Satan in the Wilderness

This is a revealing insight into Satan’s heart; worship and recognition from God are far more precious to him than the possession of the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Satan has always wanted worship because he has always wanted to be God (Isaiah 14:12-14).

But … coming from the father of lies, this was definitely a malicious temptation. Who would knowingly make a deal with the devil? Jesus knew that Satan was a liar and there is no truth in him (John 8:44). Did Satan actually imagine for one moment that Jesus would believe him? Even if Jesus gave in to the temptation, never would Satan have given Him the kingdoms.

Jesus’ Response to the Third Temptation

Jesus replied, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”Again, Jesus used the Word of God (Deuteronomy 6:13-14) and commanded the devil to leave. The enemy left as a defeated challenger and the angels of God came to minister to Jesus in ways that we cannot quite imagine (Matthew 4:10).

To worship God and God alone is the cardinal truth of Scripture. For the redeemed believers, the thought of bowing down and worshiping the prince of darkness should never come across. Jesus would never, ever worship Satan. He would take back the kingdom in God’s time and in God’s way – by defeating Satan not only here in the temptation but later at the cross.

It’s interesting that the three temptations of our Lord parallel that in 1 John 2:16; the lust of the flesh (stones into bread), the lust of the eyes (the world’s kingdoms and glory), and the pride of life (jump from the pinnacle of the temple).

How to Overcome Temptations

1. Be watchful and prayerful (Matthew 26:41).

Notice that Matthew writes, “When the tempter came …” (Matthew 4:3). In our lives, it’s not a question of if the tempter will come, but when he will come. We will all face temptation until we go to glory. 

In order for us to overcome temptations, first, we must be able to see them for what they are – lies and deception. Jesus triumphed over Satan because He recognized his mode of attack. Primarily, Satan is a liar and a deceiver and for those have been brought into the light of the cross, deception is his only tool.

How to Overcome Temptations as a Christian

Satan has already been disarmed of his “real weapons and power” at the cross. But deception is extremely effective at leading God’s people into sin. Matthew referred to Satan as the “tempter” and his weapons are lies and deception. How do we discern Satan’s temptations? We need to keep watch and pray.

2. Do not test God; instead, trust Him completely and obey Him fully.

Going back to Psalm 91:1-16, if we read it carefully, it is a psalm of trust, telling how God protects His people. God does promise to protect His people but passages like this were never intended to be claimed apart from practical wisdom. God promises protection but He has also given us common sense. 

When Satan prompted Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the temple, Jesus basically answered, “I trust God completely and I will not test God’s word by doing something foolish like what you’re suggesting to see if the God’s angels would come and save me.” 

Jesus knew that attempting to force or manipulate God the Father into performing some kind of supernatural demonstration would tempt God, which the Scriptures strictly forbid. Those who truly know God and experience the reality of their faith daily do not need to find something spectacular to convince themselves and others.

Of course, God still does miracles but if people seek some miraculous signs in order to believe or to convince themselves of the faith, it portrays a weak faith. We are not to demand something spectacular from God to prove His love or concern for us. He has already given the ultimate demonstration of His love for us at the cross (John 3:16; Romans 5:8), and He can do nothing more “spectacular” than that.

How to Overcome Temptation as a Christian

We also tempt or test God when we willfully get into trouble and then expect Him to rescue us. We tempt God when we force or dare Him to act contrary to his word. God had never promised protection in sinful and forbidden ways.

Satan said it perfectly; he had hit the nail right on the head – Jesus is the Son of God. But the essence of Sonship is obedience to the will of the Father in everything. Jesus said He came only to do the will of the Father who sent Him (John 6:38-39). He would not, therefore, act independently of the will of the Father.

It goes the same with everyone who claims to be a follower of Christ. If we really love God we must strive to obey Him in everything even it means giving up the comforts of life.

3. Know the Scriptures well and use them.

Apparently, the devil also has knowledge of Scriptures and is an expert at twisting them in order to confuse and defeat those he tempts. Too often, people quote Scriptures out of context and if you do not have a good grasp of what the Word of God actually says, you will surely fall victim to the deceit of the devil and sheep in wolves’ clothing whose mission is to drive people away from God and His truth.

If you isolate verses from their texts or passages from the total revelation of Scripture or randomly pick out verses from here and there, you can make the Bible say anything you want it to say. This is referred to as “proof-texting,” one of the most common errors of Hermeneutics (Bible interpretation).

Overcoming Temptation with the Word of God

Let’s take Mark 16:17-18 for instance. News has spread about people who died from snake bites because they intentionally played with them and drank poison as a result of some twisted doctrinal teachings by their cult leaders. This is the same tactic used by the devil to deceive Eve and Adam into disobeying God.

In the three temptations of our Lord, He used the Word of God. Jesus is God and had supernatural powers that He could have used against Satan. He could have stood against Satan with a supernatural display of His own glory. Instead, He used the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God as a weapon to defeat Satan and temptation, a weapon that is readily available and accessible to us.

4. Submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7).

How to overcome temptation as a Christian
Photo Credits: Jesus Calls

How did Jesus overcome Satan’s third temptation? By resisting him! Let us not forget that the devil will go where there is the least resistance.

I often hear people blame the devil for falling into sin as a result of his promptings. Truth is, the devil can never force anyone to do what they do not want to do.

Sure, the devil will do all he can to deceive people into going against the will of God but the decision to give in to the temptation is completely in our hands.

The temptations of Jesus remind us that it is no sin to be tempted, as long as the temptation is resisted.

Closing Words

God’s will has no shortcuts. If we want to share in the glory, we must also share in the temptations and suffering. After Jesus Christ had defeated Satan, He was ready to begin His ministry.

Our Lord’s experience of temptation prepared Him for His ministry as our sympathetic High Priest. We should note that Jesus faced the enemy as a human and not as God. Therefore, we can come to Him for the help we need to overcome the tempter.

The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was tempted in the ways we are (Hebrews 2:16-18; 14-16). We now have in heaven our Lord interceding for us, the Savior who has defeated the enemy completely.


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The Role of Children in the Family

The Role of Children in the Family

Both the Old and the New Testaments agree that children have only one role or responsibility in the family – to obey their parents. The admonition of Solomon in Proverbs 1:8 is more fully explained by Paul in Ephesians 6:1-3.

Bible Verses: Proverbs 1:8 & Ephesians 6:1-3

“My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother.” – Proverbs 1:8

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” – Ephesians 6:1-3

Reflection and Challenge

We read in Proverbs 1:8 a warm and appropriate scene; a father speaking to his son and encouraging him to receive the wisdom of his parents. Solomon’s mention of “instruction” shows he understood that children are to be regarded capable of thought and obedience.

In essence, Solomon is saying that children are not to be taught and disciplined primarily through physical punishment such as spanking; they are to be instructed.

The Responsibility of Children in the Family
Photo Credits: TodaysParent.Com

In Ephesians 6:1-3, the command is simple and that is for children to obey their parents. The role of children in the family is to obey their parents and parents have the responsibility to teach their children obedience – one of the most important jobs for parents.

*Note: “Children” is an inclusive term. It is not a matter of either sex or age that is involved.

Children Ought to Obey their Parents

Twice in Scripture has God intervened and directly stated what He would have children to do. The last time was nearly two thousand years ago when He gave a revelation to Paul for the church. The first time was nearly thirty-four hundred years ago when He gave a revelation to Moses and Israel in which He commanded, “Honor your father and mother” (Deuteronomy 5:16).

God’s will for children is that they are to obey their parents. The expression “in the Lord” does not limit the responsibility only to the circumstances where the parents are believers. Colossians 3:20 clearly points out that children are to obey their parents “in all things,” not just in those things pertaining to Christian living.

“In the Lord” more properly is understood to mean by the Lord or because it is the Lord’s directive (this is what God says children are to do). “For this is right” indicates that when a child respects his parents’ authority, he is respecting God’s order of authority in other areas of life.

Such obedience is perfectly illustrated by God the Son who was completely obedient to God the Father, even though that obedience resulted in his death (Philippians 2:6-8).

The Responsibility of Children

The Importance of Teaching Children to Obey

Think about this for just a moment, parents are admonished to teach their children how to obey, now why is that? Parents need not teach their children to disobey because they have each inherited an inclination to sin from Adam, but obedience must be taught.

Teaching obedience to their children is essential for all parents so that their children will grow up knowing how to obey God even when they do not understand everything or do not want to.

We call this discipline on the part of the parents. This will not be easy for parents but disobedience must be punished for obedience to be learned.

Hebrews 12:6 says, “The Lord disciplines (or chastens) those whom He loves.” (See also Proverbs 3:12.)

Promise of Reward for Obedience

Two things are promised to children who obey their parents:

  • It will be well with them – they will have a happy life
  • They will enjoy long life

These are the two things that children want most, and obedience to parents is the only way to assure them. That is why this is the first commandment with promise; from it springs all other important issue of life.

The Role of Children in the Family

The child who has not learned to obey his parents, who are God’s representatives in the family, will not learn to obey God.

Conclusion

To honor our parents means much more than simply obeying them. It means to show them respect and love, to care for them as long as they need us, and to seek to bring honor to them by the way we live.

Children must learn to obey their parents, not only because they are their parents, but also because God has commanded it to be so. Disobedience to parents is rebellion against God.

Sin Can Infest Everything

Sin Can Infest Everything

The church at Corinth was a defiled body of believers. Some of its members were guilty of sexual immorality; others got drunk; still, others were using the grace of God to excuse worldly living. To sum it all up, it was a disgraced church.

How did this happen? Corinth was a polluted city, filled with every kind of vice and worldly pleasure and the members of the church permitted the sins of the city to get into the local assembly. So when Paul wrote his first letter to them, he addressed all these issues.

Bible Verse: 1 Corinthians 5:6, 11

“Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?”

“But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner–not even to eat with such a person.”

Confronting the Sin of Immorality

In chapter 5 of 1 Corinthians, Paul confronted the believers at Corinth of their immorality. Apparently, someone was having an ongoing sexual relationship with his stepmother (1 Corinthians 5:1), an incestuous relationship.

During that time, this kind of relationship was prohibited even among the pagans, yet the Corinthian believers seem accepting of this behavior.

Confronting Sin in the Church
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The Bible declared it sin in Leviticus 18:8, Deuteronomy 22:30 and 27:20, the worldly culture considered it sin but the church at Corinth didn’t seem bothered by it at all.

Paul pleaded with them to mourn over sin (1 Corinthians 5:2). The word used here is the same one used for mourning over the dead, which is perhaps the deepest and most painful kind of personal sorrow possible.

But instead of mourning, the people at Corinth were puffed up. They were boasting of the fact that their church was so “open-minded” that even fornicators could be members in good standing. Sounds familiar? Sadly, many churches today have become so accommodating that they seem to not care that members of their congregation are engaging in the sin of immorality.

As bad as the sin itself was, the apostle Paul was more concerned that the believers at Corinth seemed to take sin lightly. He knew that sin can infest everything and so his solution to the problem was to take the fornicator away from among them in order to protect the fellowship of God’s people.

Purging Sin

The church was to purge sin (1 Corinthians 5:6-13). The image here is that of the Passover supper (Exodus 12). One of the requirements was that no yeast (leaven) be found anywhere in their dwellings. Even the bread at the feast was to be unleavened.

Paul says that just as the Jews were concerned to remove all leaven from their house, so the church should be concerned in removing unrepentant sinners from among them. Yeast is a picture of sin. It is small but powerful; it works secretly; it “puffs up” the dough and it spreads.

Sin infests everything. Like leaven, sin seeps into everything. The church is supposed to be without sin, but even one sin in one person has the tendency to grow throughout. The same is true in a church. As one person excuses sin, more and more people will excuse it.

The Principle of Separation

Paul tells the believers not to expect godly behavior from ungodly people. It’s not surprising that those who do not have a redemptive covenant with God through the Lord Jesus are sexually immoral and covetous.

Christians should not be offended when they see ungodly people committing extortion, are drunkards and idolaters. But they are to expect godly behavior from their fellow Christians and the believers at Corinth were not doing this.

Sin Can Infest Everything
Photo Credits: CrossCards.Com

So Paul commands that they were to be separated from them; they were not even allowed to eat with them. In those days the individuals whom you ate with was significant. Quite often church members ate together. Thus, if you were removed from fellowship and eating together, it resulted in a major barrier in the relationship.

It sounds to me like God hates sin in the church and wants us to get rid of that sin. 1 Corinthians 5:11 states several of the sins that God required a break in fellowship. Some people will not like this list at all but it does not matter what people say. It only matters what God’s word says.

*Related Article: Church Discipline: Correcting Another Believer

The Sin of Compromise

I have heard that 65% of people today believe cohabitation is acceptable. That is scary because that 65% must include many Christians. That is in spite of verses like this that say sex before marriage and cohabiting is sin, which should not happen to anyone that claims to be a Christian. God commands they should be removed from fellowship.

It is a shame that Christians accept any sin. Do you practice or accept this sin? You shouldn’t according to God. This list also included being covetous. Actually, every person commits this sin sometime in their life. The root word implies lust for or a very strong desire for something anything other than God.

If we seriously examine ourselves, we all have those things that we set as a priority over pursuing God. These things take our attention off of God. That is sin in God’s eyes. Have you repented for that sin?

Loving God Above All Else

Idolatry does not only mean bowing to or praying to a graven image. Anything that takes the place of God in our lives is our idol. It can be our family, our job, money, position or possessions.

And yes, it is true that Christians can worship God at church but worship other things the rest of the time. Is God your highest priority all of the time, or do you focus on other things as well? Remember, God said Christians that commit these sins should be removed from the fellowship.

Do you have pet gods? This includes railers, drunks, and extortioners. God does not want sin at your church. It is true you can hide your sin from other believers, but that does not mean you can hide it from God. What haven’t you confessed?

Closing Thoughts

Church discipline is not easy or popular, but it is important. If it is done properly, God can use it to convict and restore an erring believer. 2 Corinthians 2:1-11 indicates that this brother who was having an incestuous relationship with his father’s wife did repent and was restored to fellowship.


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Psalm 100: A Thanksgiving Song

Psalm 100: A Thanksgiving Song

Psalm 100:1-5 is a thanksgiving song that describes the process of preparation, anticipation, and participation of God’s people in worship. In the procession, as the worshipers reach the gates of the sanctuary (Psalm 100:4-5), they burst out in songs of praise and thanksgiving to God because of His goodness, unfailing love, and faithfulness.

Bible Verse: Psalm 100 

1 Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! 2 Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. 3 Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5 For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.

Give Thanks with Joy

We can easily understand the people of Israel shouting joyfully to the Lord in praise and thanksgiving. God has done lots of great and amazing things for them that they are exhorted to make a joyful shout to the Lord.

Thanksgiving is unrestrained happiness leading to worship. Worship leads to service, and true service is worship. But the psalmist calls for all the nations of the earth to praise God and serve Him with gladness (Psalm 100:1-2), for it was Israel’s responsibility to introduce the Gentiles to the true and living God.

A Psalm of Thanksgiving to God

Think of the Sunday school teacher who often grumbles at her class because the students’ work is sloppy and they won’t sit still and be quiet. With one eye on the clock and the other on the door, she fusses about the preacher’s sermon going too long.

As the children leave the room, she does not stop to say goodbye because she is too busy cleaning up. Finally, with all the children gone she dashes to her car to wait for her husband who is talking with a visiting family.

Her husband comes to the car and says, “Honey, we are going to lunch with that new family.” The look she gives him would freeze water. What kind of joy can she be getting from her service to the Lord? None. What kind of love can she be showing from the Lord? None.

The place to be happy is here, and the time to be happy is now. Let us serve the Lord with gladness and come before His presence with singing.

Give Thanks for God’s Authority

Before we can have any real joy, we have to recognize the authority of God. He is our Maker; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture (Psalm 100:3). The phrase “made us” means much more than “created us,” for He also created the nations that do not know Him.

It means Jehovah constituted us as a nation, His chosen people. This verse is a simple statement of faith: Yahweh (Jehovah) is God, Creator, Redeemer, and Shepherd, and we must be submitted to Him. If the sheep do not submit to their shepherd, they will stray into danger.

Without an awareness of who God is and who we are, we are not likely to sing a thanksgiving song to Him wholeheartedly.

Give Thanks in Adversity

Being thankful is easy when life is running smoothly. It is another matter when things are not going well.

We are not to blame God for what we do not have because doing so is to fault God’s provision. We are not to blame God for where we are in life – this is to fault God’s leadership. We are not to blame God for who we are or what has happened – this is to fault God’s sovereignty. The Bible tells us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).

Psalm 100 Psalm of Thanksgiving to God

The spirit of thanksgiving can cause believers to rejoice on the banks of the Red sea, to look at the fiery furnace and say, “Our God is able,” and to endure life’s impossibilities with the knowledge that “He who is in you is greater than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

The spirit of thanksgiving also helps us overcome some of the “sins in good standing” that too often invade our lives, such as complaining, idolatry, pride, and ingratitude.

Give Thanks with a Shout of Triumph

After the Israelites, under the leadership of Joshua, marched around the walls of Jericho seven times, they shouted to the Lord with a voice of triumph, and the walls came tumbling down.

There may be some Jerichos or some walled cities of the enemy that will not come tumbling down in our life until we lift our voices to God in the shout of victory and release His power. We do not only shout for what God has done; we also shout in faith for what He will do.

Christians should follow the admonition of Isaiah to “cry out and shout, for great is the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 12:6).

Giving Thanks Makes Prayer Effective

Thanksgiving is necessary to make other forms of prayer effective. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Without thanksgiving, God does not listen to our prayers. We are to start our prayer time with thanksgiving. The apostle Paul wrote, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (Romans 1:8).

Sing a Thanksgiving Song

Psalm 100 is a fitting climax to the collection of “royal psalms” (Psalm 93; 95-100) as it sums up their emphasis on God’s sovereign rule, His goodness to His people, the responsibility of all nations to acknowledge Him, and the importance of God’s people exalting and worshiping Him (see Psalm 95:1-2; 6-7).

Psalm 100:5 shows the importance of worship and praise in a believer’s life. When was the last time you shouted for joy because God answered the request of your heart? When was the last time you served the Lord with gladness? When was the last time you entered His gates with thanksgiving?

If you had to think about the answer, then it was too long ago. Commit yourself to a spirit-filled relationship with Christ, and begin it with a song of thanksgiving.

How to Receive God’s Blessings

How to Receive God’s Blessings

Do you want to be blessed by God? I’m sure you do. I mean, who does not want to receive God’s blessings? The question you may want to ask now is, “How do I receive the blessings of God?” Psalm 1:1-3 gives us three things we must do to in order to receive blessings from God.

Psalm 1:1-3

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law, he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”

Meaning of the word Blessed

The word translated “blessed” (or joy in other Bible translations) is from the Hebrew word “asher,” the name of one of Jacob’s sons (Genesis 30:12-13). It has the idea of happiness or contentment. When the Bible says “Blessed is the man…” it means supremely happy or fulfilled.

It is important to note that this blessedness is not for the king, or for the rich. “This blessedness is attainable by the poor, the obscure and the forgotten, as by those whose names figure in history, and are trumpeted by fame” (Charles Spurgeon).

How to be Blessed by God

1. Do not listen to ungodly counsel (Psalm 1:1a).

To be blessed or happy, we should not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. With all the advice that comes to us from different sources, we must know how to stay away from the counsel of the ungodly. But first, we need to be able to recognize and discern them.

Who are the ungodly? Murderers, robbers, and the like generally come to mind first. However, the Bible tells us that the ungodly are moral people who live their lives without God. These may be very nice people in our communities who have “fine” reputations, but they do not have God.

Whenever we need counseling or advice, we need to remember not to seek it from the unsaved world. The ungodly man thinks and behaves differently from the righteous man so when we go to him for advice, we will surely be led astray.

Instead, we must approach our church pastors and leaders because godly counselors will always bring the truth of God’s Word to help someone who needs counseling. We can also go immediately to the Word of God, the only place to find godly counsel (Psalm 119:24). This is why we need to know God’s word because God’s Word is always the best counselor.

2) Do not stand in the path of sinners (Psalm 1:1b).

To “stand” means to take their position and openly accept their sinful lifestyle.

We live in such a permissive society where nothing seems to be considered wrong anymore. Adultery is free love, a liar is an extrovert with a big imagination, a thief is a creative financier, and sin is not what I say it is. But sin is not what the media says it is. Sin is what God says it is, and His labels do not change.

God’s covenant with Israel made it clear that He would bless their obedience and judge their disobedience. Israel was a unique and separate people; they were among the other nations but not to be contaminated by them (Exodus 19:5-6, Numbers 23:9; Deuteronomy 32:8-10; 33:28).

Romans 12:2 NKJV

So it is with the people of God today. We are in the world but not of the world (John 17:11-17). We must beware of friendship with the world (James 4:4) that leads to being corrupted by the world (James 1:27) and even loving the world (1 John 2:15-17).

Christians need to have different habits than unbelievers. Do your habits show Christ in you or do they appear worldly? Don’t fellowship with those that mock or scorn the Bible or God. They will bring you down just by discouragement.

It is always difficult to talk about God when someone is mocking Him. Are you making good friends that encourage and support your Christian walk?

3) Delight in God’s law and meditate on it (Psalm 1:2).

Delighting in the Word and meditating on the Word must go together (Psalm 119:15-16, 23-24, 47-48, 77-78), for whatever we enjoy, we think about and pursue. They say that if a person delights in something, no one has to beg them to do it or to like it. They will do it by themselves.

“Meditate” in Hebrew means “to mutter, to ponder or to read in an undertone,” for orthodox Jews speak aloud as they read the Scriptures, meditate and pray. God’s word is on their lips (Deuteronomy 30:14).

While meditation in the eastern culture means emptying the mind, the goal of Christian meditation is to fill your mind with the Word of God. This is done by carefully thinking about each word and phrase and applying it in our daily lives.

Psalm 119:15-16

A blessed man enjoys reading, studying, and pondering on God’s word all the time. He does not hear it and forget it, he thinks about it. He is blessed because he cannot get enough of God’s word. Doesn’t that sound excellent?

If you knew there was a hidden treasure buried at a certain location, wouldn’t you want to dig and uncover it as quickly as possible? Well, that is what is located throughout the Bible; you just need to find it. Why aren’t you digging more?

Like a Tree Planted by the Rivers of Water (Psalm 1:3)

Like a tree, the godly person is alive, beautiful, fruitful, useful, and enduring. The most important part of a tree is the hidden root system that draws up water and nourishment, and the most important part of the believer’s life is the “spiritual root system” that draws on the hidden resources we have in Christ (Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 2:7).

This is known as abiding, or remaining in Christ (John 15:1-9). It’s a tragedy when a believer ignores the “root system” and begins to wither. We must remember that the tree doesn’t eat the fruit; others eat it. We must also remember that fruit isn’t the same as “results” because fruit has in it the seed for more fruit.

God plants every godly tree in fertile soil. You have a choice to be like a tree planted by a stream of living water lush with green leaves and full of fruit or you can be a handful of worthless chaff driven by the wind (Psalm 1:4). What choice will you make?

Blessings of Prosperity (Psalm 1:3)

The person described in Psalm 1:1-3 is blessed because he is walking uprightly with God. As a result, this blessed individual will always have a constant supply of life-giving water. Not to mention, he or she will produce spiritual fruit.

There are many different types of fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 lists some of the fruit of the Spirit. Other fruits include leading people to Christ. This blessed individual will also be full of life. They will be excited to serve God with joy in their soul. They won’t feel like it is routine or mandatory.

Receiving the Blessings of God

Lastly, this blessed individual will prosper no matter what they do. There will be evidence of God’s hand of blessing upon them. Doesn’t that sound like a wonderful description?

“This is not to say that the righteous man has a ‘Midas Touch,’ and everything he does makes him rich and comfortable. But in the life of the righteous man, God brings forth something good and wonderful out of everything. Even tough circumstances bring froth something that shall prosper” (David Guzik).

If you don’t have it, why don’t you try this prescription out? It’s worth the effort.

Conclusion

Do you walk with the ungodly? Do you stand with sinners? Do you sit with the scornful? Are you blessed and happy? Choose to say no to sin and say yes to God.

True believers are blessed in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-8). They have received God’s blessings, and they ought to be a blessing to others, especially to the chaff that will one day be thrown into the fire.

Let us all seek to win as many of them as we can while there is time.


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A Wife With Noble Character

A Wife With Noble Character

The poem about a wife of noble character found in Proverbs 31:10-31 is part of the sayings of King Lemuel which his mother taught him. This poem is an acrostic with the initial words of the twenty-two verses all beginning with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

This acrostic form was a device to help people commit the passage to memory. Perhaps Jewish parents instructed their sons and daughters to memorize this poem and use it as a guide for their lives and in their homes.

Who is King Lemuel?

We don’t know much about King Lemuel, other than what is revealed in Proverbs 31. He is not included in the recorded list of the kings of Israel or Judah but his name means “belonging to God” or “devoted to God.”

Although some commentators proposed that King Lemuel is actually King Solomon and his mother was Bathsheba, there is no evidence whatever that the name Lemuel means Solomon. Furthermore, the time of the writing of Proverbs 31 seems to be much later than the time of King Solomon.

Like Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5), perhaps Lemuel’s mother was Jewish and she taught him the fear of the Lord and God’s wisdom.

The Profile of a Wife Worthy of Honor

What kind of wife is described in Proverbs 31:10-31? The following notes develop the profile of a virtuous wife.

A virtuous wife is a woman of character.

Proverbs 31:10-12 “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.”

Just as wisdom is more important than wealth (Proverbs 3:15), so character is more important than jewels.

How to be a Virtuous Woman

In his first epistle, the apostle Peter gave this same counsel to Christian wives in his day (1 Peter 3:1-6). Marriage doesn’t change a person’s character. If the husband or the wife has character weaknesses, marriage will only reveal and accentuate them. A husband or wife who hopes to change his or her spouse after the honeymoon is destined for disappointment.

A virtuous wife is trustworthy.

Proverbs 31:11 “The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.”

If the husband and wife trust each other, they will live in harmony. The husband will have no fears or suspicions as she is busy with her work because he knows she has character and will do nothing but good for him and their children.

If brides and grooms take seriously the vows of love and loyalty they repeat to each other and to God at the altar, they will have a wall of confidence around their marriage that will keep out every enemy.

A virtuous wife is a woman who isn’t afraid to work.

Proverbs 31:13b “And willingly works with her hands.”

Whether it’s going to the market for food (Proverbs 31:14-15), buying real estate or planting a vineyard (Proverbs 31:16), she’s up early and busy with her chores. We get the impression that the night before she makes a “to do” list and doesn’t waste a minute in idleness.

She sets about her work energetically (Proverbs 31:17), whether spinning thread, helping the poor, or providing a wardrobe for her children. She prepares the very best for her family, and they have no reason to be ashamed.

A virtuous wife is generous.

Proverbs 31:20 “She extends her hand to the poor. Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.”

As she ministers to her family, she keeps her eyes open for people who have needs, and she does what she can to help them. Happiness comes to those who have mercy on the poor (Proverbs 14:21), and nothing given to the Lord for them will ever be lost (Proverbs 19:17).

A virtuous wife makes it easy for her husband to do his work.

Proverbs 31:23 Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.”

The city gate was the place where civic business was transacted, so her husband was one of the elders in the community (see Ruth 4). While no such restrictions exist today, in that day a woman never would have sat on the “city council.” But his loyal wife didn’t want to take her husband’s place; she just did her work and made it easier for him to do his.

A husband and wife should complement each other as they seek to fulfill their roles in the will of God. Wise is the husband who recognizes his wife’s strengths and lets her compensate for his weaknesses. Doing this isn’t a sign of personal failure, nor is it rebellion against the divine order (1 Corinthians 11:3).

Both leadership and submission in a home are evidences of love and obedience, and the one doesn’t nullify the other.

A virtuous wife is confident as she faces the future.

Proverbs 31:25 “Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come.”

In the Bible, to be “clothed” with something means that it is a part of a person’s life and reveals itself in that person’s character and conduct (see Colossians 3:8-14, 1 Timothy 2:9-10).

A Wife Worthy of Honor

This wife can laugh at future problems and troubles because she has strength of character and because she is prepared for emergencies. She is a woman of faith who knows that God is with her and her family.

A virtuous wife is a capable teacher of wisdom.

Proverbs 31:26 “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.”

She certainly teaches her children the wisdom of God, especially the daughters, preparing them for the time when they will have families of their own. But she probably also shares her insights with her husband, and he’s wise enough to listen.

Remember that earlier in the book, King Solomon used a beautiful woman to personify wisdom (Proverbs 1:20-33; 9:1-6); this godly wife does the same.

A virtuous wife attentively oversees her household.

Proverbs 31:27 “She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.”

She isn’t idle, and nothing in the household escapes her notice, whether it’s food, finances, clothing or school lessons. Managing the household is an exacting job, and she does her work faithfully day and night.

Any husband and father who thinks that his wife has it easy should take her responsibilities for a week or two and discover how wrong he is.

A Wife of Noble Character

I’m reminded of the story of a husband who felt that his stay-at-home wife wasn’t working as hard as he was. So he prayed to God and asked to trade places with his “lazy wife.” He wanted to teach her a lesson so she’d know what it’s like to work as hard as he does every day. God granted him his wish, only for the husband to soon realize that he’s the one about to learn a lesson.

You can read the full story here: Husband Asks to Trade Places with His Lazy Wife

A virtuous wife is a woman worthy of praise.

Proverbs 31:28-29 “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.’”

It’s a wonderful thing when the husband and his children can praise the wife and mother for her faithful ministry in their home. The suggestion here is that this praise was expressed regularly and spontaneously and not just on special occasions.

They did not have Mother’s Day in Israel so every day should be Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Tragically, often members of the family take each other for granted and fail to show sincere appreciation.

The father ought to set an example for their children and always thank his wife for what she does for the family. He should see in her the woman who surpasses them all.

Finally, the life of a virtuous wife is a testimony to others.

Proverbs 31:31 “Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.”

Her husband and children acknowledge her value and praise her, but so do the other people in the community. Even the leaders at the city gate recognize her good works and honor her.

God sees to it that the woman who faithfully serves Him and her family is properly honored, and certainly she will have even greater honor when she stands before her Lord.

Conclusion

This poem in Proverbs 31:10-31 which is a beautiful tribute to the godly wife and mother gives us the finest description of the ideal wife. But these qualities may seem too high for anyone to attain. What is the secret?

The answer is in Proverbs 31:30. The secret of a virtuous and capable wife’s life is that she fears the Lord. Having charm and beauty is wonderful; the possession of these qualities is not a sin. But the woman who walks with the Lord and seeks to please Him has a beauty that never fades (1 Peter 3:1-6).

A Wife with Noble Character

This passage also describes for every Christian man the kind of wife for whom he ought to be looking and praying. But it also reminds the prospective husband that he’d better be walking with the Lord and growing in his spiritual life so that he will be worthy of such a wife if and when God brings her to him.

The man who has a wife who daily reads the Scriptures, meditates, prays, and seeks to obey God’s will has a treasure that is indeed beyond the price of rubies.


*Reference: The Transformation Study Bible (General Editor: Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe)

*Recommended Resource:

A Woman of Noble Character: Becoming a Proverbs 31 Woman in Todays Busy World
By Susan Sikes

Women today have such busy lives and great responsibilities, yet so many still strive to be the Proverbs 31 women spoken of in the Bible. A Woman of Noble Character gives women practical ways to fulfill their role as wife, mother, or keeper of the house in a busy world.

Practically all areas of home life are covered with quick and easy tips to help. A few of the topics are Priorities/Godly Character, Decorating, Cleaning, Finances, Organizing, Cooking/Recipes, and many other helps and tips. Whether you work within or outside the home, this book makes a great resource to managing a home. 

The Context is Love

The Context is Love

Whenever asked if we love our family, we immediately say, “Of course I do.” Our relationships in the family need to be marked by love. Husbands are to love their wives and wives must love their husbands. Parents, children, and siblings must love one another.

But do we love one another the biblical way?

Bible Verse: 1 Corinthians 13:6-8a (NKJV)

“Does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”

Reflection

Divorced from its context, 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 becomes “a hymn to love” or a sentimental sermon on Christian brotherhood. What many people fail to see is that Paul was still dealing with the Corinthians’ problems when he penned these words.

There was division in the church, abuse of the gift of tongues, envy of others’ gifts, selfishness, impatience with one another in the public meetings, and behavior that was disgracing the Lord. Paul tells the believers in Corinth that the only way spiritual gifts can be used creatively is when they are motivated by love.

Characteristics of Biblical Love

1) Love is enriching.

In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Paul mentions five spiritual gifts: tongues, prophecy, knowledge, faith, and giving (sacrifice). The Corinthian believers were captivated with spiritual gifts; particularly the gift of tongues and Paul reminds them that without love, the exercise of these gifts is nothing. 

The Context is Love

A person may speak with the gift of tongues, but without love, it is as meaningless as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. It is just a lot of noise (1 Corinthians 13:1). It is love that enriches the gift and that gives it value.

Ministry without love cheapens both the minister and those who are touched by it, but ministry with love enriches the whole church.

2) Love is edifying.

While knowledge puffs up, it is love that edifies (1 Corinthians 8:1b). The purpose of spiritual gifts is the edification (strengthening) of the church (1 Corinthians 12:7; 14:3, 5, 12, 17, 26). This means we must not think of ourselves, but of others; and this demands love.

3) Love encourages.

Christians do not understand love. God hopes that all would get saved, in spite of the fact He knew not all would. God was willing to bear the sin of the whole world even though some would not accept.

Love does not nag. God does not nag people to get saved, even though it is good for them. God knows the best for everyone, but God does not force or nag anyone to do something they don’t want to do.

Challenge & Application

The issue I have with many Christian women today is that they nag a lot. They may know what the Bible says on what godly men should do and they try to play the part of the Holy Spirit in their spouse or significant other. Your spouse wants your love and respect and he deserves it.

Love bears all things. In other words, love does not harp on sin issues in your life. Making certain issues a broken record is the perfect way to become a nag. Don’t do it.

Love believes all things. That is, love trusts your spouse’s word. Your spouse is busy just like you. Whether you like it or not you both have two different sets of priorities. Your spouse is responsible to God first. You are second. Stop nagging about the insignificant details. You want to be a godly wife, trust his word.

Love hopes. God is working on your spouse. Both you and your spouse are sinners with issues. Why don’t you love them enough to watch God work in your spouse’s life? When you try to change your spouse, they get hurt because you are trying to act the part of the Holy Spirit, thus making it harder for them to listen to the Holy Spirit.

Love also forgives, and forgives, and forgives many times over without holding grudges. We do not understand how God changes us or in what order. The path of sanctification is different for every person. You do not get to determine what should change in your spouse. Stop playing the Holy Spirit in your spouse’s life.

The Context is Love

Lastly, love does not end. God never stops loving us. Our love for our spouse should not either. If you have true love for someone, you will not stop showing it in these ways. It is true that since we are sinners, we can’t do this perfectly like Jesus, but we need to strive to love our spouses this way. Love does not have a list of expectations.

It is true that God tells us what is good for us, but He still allows us to make choices, whether they result in good or bad. That does not mean God loves us less. God loves us in spite of us. Can you love your spouse by encouraging without nagging?

God does not nag. God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son to suffer and die on the cross so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

*Read here: The Cross Makes Love Believable

God knows and wants what’s best for everyone, yet He does not force or nag anyone to do something they don’t want to do. God does not nag people to be saved. He wants us to willingly accept His gift of eternal life.

Biblical love suffers long and is kind, does not envy, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, rejoices not in iniquity but in the truth, believes all things, bears all things, hopes all things and endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Closing Thoughts

Spiritual gifts, no matter how exciting and wonderful, are useless and even destructive if they are not ministered in love. In his letter, the apostle Paul gave great emphasis on love.

The main evidence of maturity in the Christian life is a growing love for God and for God’s people, as well as a love for lost souls. It has well been said that love is the “circulatory system” of the body of Christ.

Are you practicing biblical love?

Teach Well Your Children

Teach Well Your Children

In today’s society where abortion, child abuse, divorce and other sins against these little ones seem to be acceptable, it has become apparent that our culture places little value on the lives of these gifts from the Lord.

Bible Verse: Psalm 127:3-4

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.”

Reflection

Charles Spurgeon QuotesChildren are precious; they are a heritage and they make the home a treasury. But they are also useful – like fruits and arrows – and make the home a garden and an armory. If parents do not raise their children to know and love the truth, who will plant the seeds of truth and fight the battles against lies and evil in the years to come?

Parents are to preserve the best of the past and invest it in the future. Every baby born is God’s vote for the future of mankind and an opportunity for parents to help make some new beginnings.

Teach Your Children Well

Line upon line, precept upon precept, it is your job as parents to teach your children to walk in the ways of the Lord (Isaiah 28:9-10). What could be the most effective tool for doing exactly that? It’s your own walk with the Lord.

Our children are smart; they copy what we do, repeat what we say, follow where we go, and learn of God as we study His Word and praise Him. Parents who boast of their of past sins with a smirk on their face and their children at their feet have no idea the damage they are causing.

Children soak up every word they hear. Parents set a benchmark for either righteousness or wickedness on how they live before their children. That is why parents are not only to bring their children to church, they are to teach them the Word of God in their homes (Deuteronomy 11:19).

Raising Godly Children

This is not to say that every child who grew up in a Christian home will automatically become a worship leader or a pastor. We have heard of pastors’ kids who have gone out of their way to become gang leaders and drug addicts. There are also kids who grew up in the streets but ended up being elders and deacons in their church.

The point is, while it is the responsibility of parents to raise their children in accordance with the will of God, it is no guarantee that they won’t get lost along the way. However, the Bible also assures us that a child who was trained according to God’s standards may go astray at some point in his life but will eventually find his way back into the truth (Proverbs 22:6).

A Godly Heritage

A godly man, husband, and father, knows that having the right relationship with the Savior means a healthy relationship with his family. He would care for and nurture his children not just by teaching them to love God. More importantly, he would show them every day by the way he lives his life and conducts himself.

Philippine pride, Manny “The Pacman” Pacquiao, is a well-known champion in the field of boxing. And while I am very proud of his accomplishments as a boxer and for the honor he has given our nation, what I admire the most about him is his faith in the Lord, which is reflecting in the way he is now raising his kids to love God and His Word, the way he does.

Raising Godly Children

Make Room for Family

Parents must always make room in their lives for family. Sometimes a business or social calendars need readjusting. I have heard stories about parents who walk around with their mobile phones in constant operation, thereby rendering “conversation across the dinner table” a lost art.

A man who had just lost his wife of many years to cancer was sitting in a hotel room with a friend twenty-five years his junior a few weeks after the funeral. The younger friend had his own family, a wife and two sons.

The older gentleman wept tears of regret and said, “Friend, take time to enjoy your family now, for they will be gone all too soon. Don’t let the busy-ness of your life steal you from them now, lest you regret it later.”

Learn to appreciate what God has blessed you with. The dirty hand prints on the wall and the muddy socks under the bed are signs of healthy, active children who are yours but for a short while.

Create for these precious gifts a Christian home where the love of Jesus is taught. Love them deeply. Give yourself to them completely.

Closing Thoughts

Reproducing a child does not make a parent – that is reproduction, not parenting. In other words, you can have a child or children but that does not mean you’re a parent.

On the other hand, you may not have a child of your own but when you raise a child in a way that pleases and honors God, you are a parent, a godly one for that matter.


*Recommended Resource:

Fearless Parenting: How to Raise Faithful Kids in a Secular Culture – eBook
By George Barna & Jimmy Myers

Product Description:

Today’s Christian parents face an uphill battle in raising godly kids. How can we teach children to live out their faith in a morally bankrupt culture? Offering expert insights, Barna and Myers help you foster your youngsters’ spiritual growth and encourage them to develop their gifts; prioritize family relationships; reject materialism; and rethink social media.