Let Honor Meet Honor

Let Honor Meet Honor

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. Matthew 6:1

I’ve always been impressed by the solemn, magnificent simplicity of the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. The carefully choreographed event is a moving tribute to soldiers whose names—and sacrifice—are “known but to God.” Equally moving are the private moments of steady pacing when the crowds are gone: back and forth, hour after hour, day by day, in even the worst weather.

In September 2003, Hurricane Isabel was bearing down on Washington, DC, and the guards were told they could seek shelter during the worst of the storm. Surprising almost no one, the guards refused! They unselfishly stood their post to honor their fallen comrades even in the face of a hurricane.

The more we serve Christ, the less we will serve self.

Underlying Jesus’s teaching in Matthew 6:1–6, I believe, is His desire for us to live with an unrelenting, selfless devotion to Him. The Bible calls us to good deeds and holy living, but these are to be acts of worship and obedience (vv. 4–6), not orchestrated acts for self-glorification (v. 2). The apostle Paul endorses this whole-life faithfulness when he pleads with us to make our bodies “a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1).

May our private and public moments speak of our devotion and wholehearted commitment to You, Lord.

Grant me the strength this day, O Lord, to persevere, to return honor to Your name where I am serving. My desire is to give myself in selfless devotion because of Your love for me.

The more we serve Christ, the less we will serve self.

INSIGHT:In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5–7), Jesus issues a warning about showcased religiosity and hypocrisy (6:1–8). After His strong caution against it, He gives us the proper motivation. Our reason to share with open hands, to raise our hands in prayer, and to fold them before an empty plate is both stated and implied. When we do these things, we do them out of love for the Father, the source of all good things, knowing He will bless our efforts. The approval of the Father is better than any praise we may receive from friends and neighbors. It is the reward from Him that we should truly and deeply desire.

 

The Stages of Our Christian Life

Philippians 1:5-7

Each Christian’s journey is unique. Yet certain stages of growth should be common to all of God’s children. For example:

• The Lord wants to teach new followers basic principles as a foundation on which to build. He expresses these truths through other believers, His Word, and life circumstances.

• God allows us to serve Him. We were created to do good works, and this becomes evident as Christians glorify Jesus (Eph. 2:10).

• The Lord lets us experience “frustrated inadequacy.” Pride and self-confidence are threats to spiritual growth. Therefore, our Father brings us to the place where we realize we can achieve nothing of value without divine guidance and power.

• To make freedom a reality, the Father brings His children face to face with whatever holds them captive. We often carry hurts, fears, or other baggage and on our own have no idea how to gain victory. God allows us to struggle through such issues with His help. As we surrender to Him and seek His perspective, He works to liberate us.

• The Lord teaches us how to live the “exchanged life” (Gal. 2:20). Our sinful nature has been crucified with Christ, and the Savior’s life is expressed through us as we surrender to the Holy Spirit’s influence.

Do you recognize these stages as you look back over your walk with Christ? Perhaps you can identify an area where God still needs to work in your life. Is there anything standing in the way of allowing Him to live fully through you? Surrender to the Holy Spirit, asking Him to help you become more like Jesus.

Call to Remembrance

“But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions.” (Hebrews 10:32)

Our American younger generation, like the Hebrew Christians back in the first generation after Christ, seems in grave danger of forgetting the great sacrifices of those earlier generations in this country who made our nation the land of the free. What seems almost a deliberate “dumbing down” of our great Christian heritage has been taking place in our public schools and universities ever since World War II ended.

Memorial Day should not be merely an occasion to give people a three-day time of leisure and pleasure, but rather a call to remembrance of those who suffered and died to ensure our political and religious freedoms—especially that freedom to believe and proclaim the saving gospel of Christ, which so motivated our forefathers.

And it is even more important, every day, to call to remembrance the unfathomable sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ who died, not just to give us temporal freedom, but eternal freedom, providing everlasting life to all those who believe. We have a formal time for remembering this—whenever we observe the special supper He established, remembering His broken body and shed blood. “This do in remembrance of me,” He said (1 Corinthians 11:24-25), and Christians have been remembering Him in this way ever since He met with His disciples the night before He died for our sins.

But we need also to remember Him every day, not just on the days scheduled for communion, just as we ought to remember and thank God for those who died for our country, and to do so far more often than just once each year. As Paul said concerning the dedicated, but suffering, Christians in Philippi, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” (Philippians 1:3). HMM

“Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

Proverbs 26:17-28

We will continue to read from the wise sayings of Solomon, and complete the chapter which we commenced.

Proverbs 26:17

He may expect to be bitten and he is not likely to get any good. He has done a very needless and absurd thing, and he will get nobody’s thanks for his pains. It is honourable to suffer as a Christian, but disgraceful to smart for being a busy-body. Blessed are the peace makers, but very far front blessed are the meddlers.

Proverbs 26:19

To sin in jest is often to do mischief in earnest, and it will be punished in earnest at the last great day.

Proverbs 26:20

Do not talk about it and it will die out. No hurt ever comes from holding our tongues; silly tattling causes much sorrow. If we will not reply, those who slander us will tire of their dirty work, or will be powerless for mischief Evil speaking seldom injures those who take no notice of it. Do not find embers for your own burning. Let the talebearers alone, and their fire will go out for want of fuel.

Proverbs 26:21

Wherever he is, quarrelling begins, or being already commenced, it is fanned to a fiercer flame. He is a stoker for Satan’s fires. Let us never grow like him.

Proverbs 26:22

They are deadly stabs, which have sent many to their graves with broken hearts.

Proverbs 26:23

There is a film of fair speech like a coating of silver, but underneath is deceit. They appear to glow with love, but in very truth malice is smouldering in their souls. Lord, save us from lying lips and malicious hearts.

Proverbs 26:24

He is brooding mischief, and storing up revenge, yet he speaks fairly. He hangs out the sign of the angel, but the devil keeps his house.

Proverbs 26:25

All kinds of evils lurk in a dissembler’s soul. The man’s heart is a hell, full of evil spirits, the forge of Satan, the workshop of all mischief. Whenever any one flatters us, let us fly from him at once, and avoid him for the future. He would not spin so fine a web if he did not wish to catch a fly.

Proverbs 26:26

If not in this world, yet certainly in the next, all secrets will be revealed to the shame of those who acted the part of the hypocrite. Even in this life masks are very apt to drop off. Clever counterfeits fail in some point or other, and are found out: dissembling is a difficult game, and the players are sure to be the losers, sooner or later.

Proverbs 26:27

Often do we observe the law of providential retaliation at work. If any of us try to injure another, we only hurt ourselves: God will make all our ill thoughts to return to us, like birds which come home to roost. O for a loving spirit which seeks the good of all.

Proverbs 26:28

It is the nature of ill will to hate those whom it injures. Hurt another and you will dislike him, benefit him and you will love him. Above all things abhor flattery, for he who uses this detestable art is surely plotting your overthrow. Young people should learn this lesson early, or their ignorance may cost them dear.

 

Oh, tame my tongue to peace,

And tune my heart to love;

From all reproaches may I cease,

Made harmless as a dove.

 

Faithful, but meekly kind;

Gentle, yet boldly true;

I would possess the perfect mind

Which in my Lord I view.

 

Never Forget To Look At the Children!

1 Timothy 3:4

Once while traveling on an airplane, I sat next to a lady who had taught public school for thirty-five years. I asked her, “What can you tell about a family by the way a child behaves in school?”

She answered, “Everything! I can usually tell by the way a child acts if his or her home is peaceful or tormented; if the parents pay attention to their kids or ignore them; and if the father and mother have a good relationship. Almost everything can be determined by watching a child’s behavior. It’s usually a mirror of what’s happening at home.”

Of course, I know there are unique situations in which parents do everything right in raising their child, yet the child still becomes indifferent toward God and develops a rebellious and disrespectful attitude toward others. But often rebellious children are a symptom of a deeper problem in the family. If only one of the children in a family is rebellious and unmanageable, you might be able to dismiss the situation as a freak development or an attack of the devil. But if every child exhibits the same disturbing behavioral problems, you can surmise that something is not right in that home.

Paul considered the condition of the home so important that he wrote that a leader must have “… his children in subjection with all gravity” (1 Timothy 3:4). This is important to understand, because what happens in a person’s home is usually the true picture about what kind of leader he is going to be. So when I personally look for new leaders or for people who will represent me and my ministry, I look at their children to see if they are respectful and understand authority. If the children aren’t being taught this at home, it may be a sign that this parent doesn’t value the things I count as important.

But what age of children are we talking about? The word “children” that Paul uses in First Timothy 3:4 is the Greek word tekna, the word used to describe children who are still under parental guidance at home. After a child grows into a young adult and leaves home, the parent is no longer responsible; however, as long as the child remains at home and under the authority of his or her parents, those parents have a God-given parental responsibility to teach that child how to live and how to act toward others.

Paul says in this verse that a leader’s children should have “gravity.” The word “gravity” is the Greek word semnotes. It presents the idea of a person who carries himself with dignity and treats other people with courtesy and respect.

Through the years, I’ve learned that the way a person’s children speak to each other and to others outside the home is very revealing about what’s really happening behind closed doors in that home. As noted above, children usually mirror the true situation in a home. In other words, how they speak, carry themselves, and treat others usually reflects the quality of relationships in their home.

If parents are constantly arguing and screaming at each other until it has become a pattern and a way of life, the children will usually speak to each other exactly the same way in that home. When siblings engage in chronic patterns of strife, name-calling, and mutual accusation, these destructive patterns probably exist in their parents’ marital relationship as well. Children repeat what they see their parents do.

I’ll never forget the time I was called upon to mediate a very difficult situation between a husband and wife whose marital problems could no longer be hidden. On the surface, they always smiled and acted deeply in love. However, the behavior of their children let me know that serious problems existed in that marital relationship.

Those kids frequently told each other:

  • “I hate you!”
  • “I wish you were dead!”
  • “I can’t stand you!”
  • “I’ll be so glad when you grow up and move out of this house!”
  • “I think you stink!”

It was very revealing to me that the children spoke so freely to each other like this and that no one at home stopped it. It told me that it was probably the kind of language spoken by everyone in the home—including Dad and Mom.

Then the true story came to light, and the facade of marital bliss this couple tried to project was removed. The truth was that this husband and wife fought like cats and dogs. He yelled and she screamed; he threatened and she threw objects. That house had been filled with strife, discord, quarreling, and squabbling for many years. This long-term destructive behavior was exactly what those kids mirrored in their own behavior and conversations with each other.

If a home is filled with love, respect, and teamwork, this is also evident in the way the children conduct themselves. For instance, just recently a leader and his family came to our home for dinner. I watched that leader’s children interact with each other all evening while they were at our home. By watching those children, I knew exactly what I needed to know about this family. Those children possessed a respect and courtesy for each other and for other people that had been passed down to them by their parents’ example.

When children are disrespectful toward authority and resentful when they’re asked to do something they think is too low for them to do, it usually means they come from a home where a servant mentality is nonexistent. If their parents were true servants, their children would reflect that servant mentality themselves. Leaders who are servants most often have children who are servants.

So if you’re looking for someone to serve in your church or to hire for a job, never forget to take a good look at the potential candidate’s children. If you see a house full of children who are content to sit and watch other people work, be careful. You may be inviting someone who lacks a servant’s heart into your team of leaders. Certainly there are exceptions to the rule, but you will most often find that what you see in the children is what you’ll experience with the parent as well.

I am certain this Sparkling Gem has raised questions for you. My prayer is that it raises a warning flag to make you think twice about your own children and to cause you to move more slowly when choosing a leader who has disrespectful children. I’m NOT saying that a potential leader whose children are rude and disorderly can’t be used. But you should enter that relationship with both eyes wide open.

If your own children are disrespectful toward each other and toward authority, maybe you need to ask the Lord to help you analyze the real situation in your life and your home so He can show you what is out of order. Then once He reveals it to you, determine to start taking the proper steps to put things in good shape!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, thank You for speaking to me through today’s Sparkling Gem. I ask You to help me truthfully evaluate the situation in my life and honestly analyze how I am doing at rearing my children. It is difficult for me to be honest with myself about my performance as a parent, so I need You to give me the grace to see the truth as You see it. After You show me where I have erred, please quickly teach me how to bring correction into the situation. I am willing to be corrected, and I am waiting for You to help me clearly see the situation. I determine this day to do whatever is required to put my home in good working order.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that I am growing and developing as a parent. My parental skills are getting better and better all the time. My home is filled with love; my children speak with kindness and respect; and I am rearing them to be godly leaders for the next generation. With God’s Word as my guide and the Holy Spirit as my Teacher, I am leading my family in a way that pleases God and that is an example to others.

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. When considering the behavior of your children, would you say they are respectful or disrespectful toward authority?
  2. Do your children play one parent against the other parent—going to the second parent to get approval for what they want to do after the other parent has already denied their request? If yes, what does this communicate to you?
  3. Do your children speak kindly to each other and respectfully toward their parents? If the answer is no, what does this reveal about you as a parent?

 

Discipling Someone? Consider These Areas Of Concentration

One: Engage him in the Scriptures to discover Christ and apply His truth.

 

Teaching him to meditate upon and apply God’s Word is generic to knowing Christ.

 

He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.” (John 14:21)

 

Two: Disciple him life-on-life.

 

Both Jesus and Paul believed in the worth of the individual, and so should we:

 

Jesus: “The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, Follow me.” (John 1:43)

 

Paul: “We dealt with you one by one, as a father deals with his children… ” (1 Thessalonians 2:11b neb)

 

Three: Equip him to multiply his life:

  • By helping him develop consistency in (1) Daily time with God, (2) Scripture memory, and (3) Bible study.

The Scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God, and fit him fully for all branches of his work.” (2 Timothy 3:17 – J.B. Phillips Translation)

  • By helping him discover and utilize his gifts. (1 Corinthians 12-14)

Four: Maintain the centrality of Christ.

 

At the very core of the discipling effort must be the emphasis on developing intimacy with Christ.

 

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:10, 11)

 

QUESTION: Since example is the most powerful teacher, developing intimacy with Christ is better “caught” than taught. Is your disciple picking up the fact that knowing Christ is your primary passion?

 

Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

 

 

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