Ok, let me start with an apology about the title. I promise I’m not about to get political. Please stick with me!!
Let me start with the backstory. While I was in college, I had a friend who got pregnant. Having grown up in a Christian environment, she knew to be shell shocked and embarrassed. She called me not too long after she left her appointment. I asked if she wanted me to go with her to tell her parents because my assumption was that of course she was going to have the baby. I was the one shell shocked when she told me that she and her boyfriend had already decided to abort. She went on to tearfully tell me that she was terrified of what her church family among others would say. Having grown up in this church family, she knew all too well what the whispers would sound like once they all found out. Sadly, I’m sure you do too. (There's another lesson to be had here too. The one place that people should know they can turn when they've messed up, is among God's people. They should always feel as if we are going to support and love on them as we've been loved by a perfect Savior.)
Let’s take a look at scripture. Flip over to Psalms 127:3,
"3Children are a blessing
and a gift from the Lord."
I have encountered nowhere in scripture where God says He’s punishing someone by making them a parent. On the other hand, there are a number of places where children are described as blessings.
This is what I believe God has been showing me with this memory of mine. Children aren’t the only blessings that He gives. Do you recognize all your blessings as such? Or like my sweet friend, do you see a blessing as a disruption to your plans that needs to be removed? Everyone’s story is different, but one thing I know is that He has blessed you with something. Do you always see it as a blessing? Maybe it’s a job that initially looked perfect for you but now is full of demands you didn’t anticipate. Perhaps He had you move across country (or maybe just across town) and away from your support group in an effort to grow you.
There are days that I don’t see His children in my home as blessings from above. (Then I peek in on them while they’re sleep and I smile.) There are days that laundry is piling up like a skyscraper going up in a bustling downtown. There are days that I feel pulled in every direction but right with no time to get anywhere. There are days that I am just counting the minutes/hours until nap time just to get a break. Its in these moments that I have taken my eye off the prize…. God’s glory! Just like God told Abraham,
"17 The Lord said to himself, “I should tell Abraham what I am going to do, 18 since his family will become a great and powerful nation that will be a blessing to all the other nations on earth. 19 I have chosen him to teach his family to obey me forever and to do what is right and fair. If they do, I will give Abraham many descendants, just as I promised.”, Genesis 18:17-19, CEV
He was blessed so that he could bless others. In other words, Abraham was given a blessing so that his obedience and the family that came from his obedience would bless all the other nations on earth!! I was blessed with two beautifully sweet children so that my obedience would become a blessing to those around me, namely those two little souls. With what were you blessed? Time? Health? Wealth? Kids? No kids?
This week’s challenge is to recognize your blessings for what they are. We have a loving, caring compassionate God who is ready and willing to bless you freely within His will.
We are grateful to you for all the many blessings you have sent our way. This includes the ones who call us dad or mom. Especially in the hard times, help us to remember this!
Do you know who Rahab was? She is listed in the Faith Hall of Fame, Hebrews 11.
“By faith Rahab the prostitute received the spies in peace and didn’t perish with those who disobeyed.” Hebrews 11:31, HCSB
However, we first meet her in the second chapter of the book of Joshua.
“Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two men as spies from the Acacia Grove, saying, ‘Go and scout the land, especially Jericho.’ So they left, and they came to the house of a woman, a prostitute named Rahab, and stayed there.” Joshua 2:1, HCSB
Joshua had sent these spies over into Jericho to spy out the city. Rahab lived in Jericho and hid the spies from her king so they were able to return to Joshua. She did this because she had heard of what God had done on behalf of the Israelites against other cities. While some of her neighbors had learned of these things and began to cower in fear (which eventually led to their ruin), she had begun to have faith. It is through this faith that we come to learn of her.
Flip over to James 2:24-26. In a discussion about righteousness and faith, James brings up her name and says,
“24You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25And in the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route? 26For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” James 2:24-26, HCSB
Now you would think that all this time later, she could just be Rahab, right? I mean she did the Children of Israel a solid and then spent the rest of her life among them. But James still refers to her along with her profession. I mean we don’t ever see people say, “Jesus the carpenter” or “Paul the tentmaker”, but here we see her still discussed as a prostitute. I think this is indicative of the difference in how we see our neighbors versus how God sees them. Here we are thousands of years later still seeing her as a prostitute.
Let’s find out how God sees her.
“1The historical record of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: ………. 5Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab, Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth, Obed fathered Jesse,” Matthew 1:1,5 HCSB
Not only did Rahab go on to became the great grandmother of Israel’s 2nd greatest king (David), but she is in the family line of God’s Son!! There are two big points here for us as parents. First, we have to be sure that our children are able to look past people’s pasts and see the faith they’re operating in today, no matter how immature or imperfect that faith is. Secondly, we have to be sure that our children know that even if (or when) they get into trouble and mess up, not only do they still have a place in our lives, hearts and families but more importantly they still have a place in the kingdom of God!!
Thank you, Lord for seeing us for who we will be and not the mess that we are currently in!
I was listening to a sermon. As he was talking about the future plans for their church as well as the accomplishments they had recently completed. He made this statement, “No one plans to get out of shape”. Though this statement is simple, it hit me (maybe because I remember the day I looked up and noticed I was out of shape). Just the same as no one plans to get out of shape, no one plans to have children who don’t know Jesus for themselves.
As with so many areas of our lives (finances, health, child rearing, etc), if we aren’t intentional about how we live we can one day look up and find ourselves in a place we never expected to arrive.
Take a look at what Paul has to say about how we “walk”.
“15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk — not as unwise people but as wise — 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Ephesians 5:15-17, HCSB
We have to be intentional not only in our walk but how we raise our children. We have to start out with the end in mind. If in the end we want to live in Heaven for all of eternity with Christ, then we’ll need to be working toward that goal today. If we want to reach our 80s and still be able to move about easily, then we need to be moving lots and eating well today. If we want to end up with children who are not only attending church but have fully devoted their lives to His service, we need to introduce and model this lifestyle for them today.
Father teach us to spend time planning how to introduce and train our children to love and serve You. Remind us that this isn’t something we can put to the side and pick up later, but rather we need to be focused on it diligently and consistently.
My mother was an athlete in every sense of the word. She didn’t just play the sport, but she was the MVP on every team. She was that girl who could grab a ball and play just as good if not better than the boys. So of course when she had a daughter she expected that she would be just the same…. but she was wrong. There’s a whole lesson on our expectations for our children. But that’s a lesson for another day.
I was nothing like that. Not for lack of trying, I just wasn’t that great of an athlete. So these were words that I heard quite often. “You throw like a girl!!” For a while I took those as the insult she intended, until I got old enough to respond with, “Thanks mom! I am!” Don’t get me wrong, though I have a flawed human for a mother, she is fantastic!!
I was reminded of this not to long ago while sitting in Bible study talking about controlling the tongue. Especially when we got to this verse,
“So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites. And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell.” James 3:5-6, HCSB
In this verse and the preceding verses, James is reminding us to walk like we know Jesus, not just talk about it. That includes the words that we say. So specifically, this verse is reminding us that our tongues can be a destructive force, though it is but a tiny organ. But lets look at the flip side of that. If our tongues can be the cause of a forest fire, doesn’t it make sense that our tongues can be a huge force for good, especially for our kids?? Last week we talked about bragging on our kids. This week I want to talk about all of our speech with our kids. It’s important to remember that our words have big meanings, especially to our children. So, imagine if that fire that we started was a positive fire?? What if regardless of the negative words that our kids hear from everyone else, they know we’re a fount of positivism on their side??
As I’m writing this, I’m reminded of a scene in the movie Pursuit of Happyness. Will Smith’s character is playing basketball with his son. While they’re playing, his son says that one day he wants to play basketball in the NBA. Initially Will Smith’s character tells his son that more than likely he’ll only get to about his (dad’s) height so he has little to no potential for making it to the big leagues. Once he sees his son’s reaction (the little boy grabs then throws the ball away, angrily) to the misguided slight, he corrects himself. He then tells his son that he was wrong to say that. He tells his son that what he should have done is the only way to do anything he wants to do in life is to work hard and go for it.
This is the perfect example of lighting a fire! Lets remind ourselves of this verse every morning. Remind yourself to light a fire for God in your babies!!
“After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Sprit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him. And there came a voice from heaven: ‘This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!’” Matthew 3:16-17, HCSB
How often do your children hear you brag on them? I don’t mean being the obnoxious parent at the party who thinks their kid is the second coming. I mean speaking life into them by highlighting aspects of their character that are wonderful. In a marriage lesson not too long ago, the instructor suggested having something great to say about your spouse always; especially to other people. This isn’t the phony kind of made up ignore real issues type of compliment. But truly great things to say. The point the instructor was making is this: if you are constantly looking to have a compliment, not only will you find it, but you’ll also fall deeper in love with this amazing person God has gifted to you! And, who doesn’t LOVE to overhear their spouse talking about how great they are?!
The same is true for us as parents. Your children are constantly looking to you as their validation and personality development. Look for a way to encourage their self-confidence. Again, we’re not talking about phony or shallow compliments, but deep personality characteristics that you see consistently.
Paul talks about this in Philippians chapter 4. Take a look,
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8, ESV
Earlier in this letter Paul talked about having the mind of Jesus within them to help them maintain unity in the brotherhood. He doesn’t want you overlooking problems that need to be addressed, but rather he encourages us to be fully committed to searching for the honorable, just, pure, lovely and commendable attributes of our kids. Doing this will give us clarity into who God intends for our children to be and become. I honestly believe that He had a specific honorable purpose in mind when He created our children. Our job as parents is to help them along the way to figure out who that person is and encourage them (even to other people) to grow in those areas that are lovely and commendable!!
God FTW (for the win!!) Thank You Father for showing us the example!! Brag on you babies as they grow and do things that are commendable!!