family

Legitimate or Illegitimate?

Children need boundaries. We all do. Without clear boundaries of what's okay or not okay, we run amuck and trample on the feelings and rights of others.

Clear boundaries and consistency are essential elements for raising healthy and confident children who will mature into healthy and confident adults.

We've seen this with our own children and hundreds of others my wife and I cared for over the years. Now we see this with our grandchildren and children of our extended family in the Philippines.

Sadly, a lack of healthy consistent discipline has rippled through our nation, beginning with the "me generation" of the seventies to a couple million people incarcerated and well over four million others on probation or parole, producing heartache and despair.

No boundaries and the abandonment of discipline brings conflict and disruption in families and society at large. We all need discipline and boundaries. Without them, we will self-destruct personally and so will our nation if things don't change.

Scripture

You struggle against sin, but your struggles haven’t killed you. You have forgotten the encouraging words that God speaks to you as his children:

“My child, pay attention when the Lord disciplines you. Don’t give up when he corrects you. The Lord disciplines everyone he loves. He severely disciplines everyone he accepts as his child.” [vss 4-6] [reference– Proverbs 3:11-12]

Endure your discipline. God corrects you as a father corrects his children. All children are disciplined by their fathers.

If you aren’t disciplined like the other children, you aren’t part of the family. On earth we have fathers who disciplined us, and we respect them. Shouldn’t we place ourselves under the authority of God, the father of spirits, so that we will live? [vss 7-9]

(Hebrews 12:4-9 GW) [Context– Hebrews 12]

Key phrase—

If you aren’t disciplined like the other children, you aren’t part of the family

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What is said about our struggle with sin? How does this relate to you in a personal way?

  • What are the encouraging words spoken about here? How is this strong exhortation encouraging?

  • How is the idea of God's discipline explained? Does this make sense to you?

  • How is the discipline God gives His children different than what our natural parents do?

Reflection...

No one likes correction, not immediately. Neither do we like to undergo discipline or accept punishment, even when it's deserved. We can be quick to claim, "It's unfair!" But much of the time we need to be disciplined for our own good.

This is one of the more difficult things for believers and nonbelievers to understand. "Why would a loving God discipline, correct, or punish anyone?"

The short answer is—so we don't become spoiled brats! Also, God wants to develop a nature in us like His. He wants us to fit in with His family, that is, He wants us to be His legitimate children, not to be illegitimate, self-willed rebels.

An important element of God's redemptive work is restoring us so we may enjoy a face to face relationship with God. But this requires an internal work in us. A transforming work in our hearts and lives. God uses external situations in our life to shape and transform our inner nature.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • How did this exhortation speak to the believers who heard this first and how does it fit for us?

  • What kind of discipline did you receive as a child and how has it shaped your life?

  • Do you think your own upbringing might get in the way of understanding God's discipline?

  • How can you better understand and accept God's discipline in your life?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews

Choosing Freedom Over Pleasure

The life of Moses is generally venerated throughout history, especially within Judaism and Christianity. Some may malign him but when Moses is portrayed in movies, he's seen as a great leader.

His life is extraordinary and there are many lessons to be drawn from it. But a mystical view of Moses' life might be out of sync with reality. In the book of Exodus, we see a fuller view.

Moses didn't start out as a man of faith, he grew into it. He led a life of ease and privilege until he started to identify with his Hebrew heritage.

His Hebrew faith was passed onto Moses by his family, especially his mother as his nursemaid. His faith became his own when Moses fled for his life into the desert (Exo 2:11-15).

Faith is most often forged in the fire of life's challenges and difficulties.

Scripture

Faith led Moses’ parents to hide him for three months after he was born. They did this because they saw that Moses was a beautiful baby and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s order.

When Moses grew up, faith led him to refuse to be known as a son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to suffer with God’s people rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a little while. He thought that being insulted for Christ would be better than having the treasures of Egypt. He was looking ahead to his reward. [vss 23-26]

Faith led Moses to leave Egypt without being afraid of the king’s anger. Moses didn’t give up but continued as if he could actually see the invisible God.

Faith led Moses to establish the Passover and spread the blood ⌊on the doorposts⌋ so that the destroying angel would not kill the firstborn sons.

Faith caused the people to go through the Red Sea as if it were dry land. The Egyptians also tried this, but they drowned. [vss 27-29]

(Hebrews 11:23-29 GW) [Context– Hebrews 11]

Key phrase—

He thought that being insulted for Christ would be better than having the treasures of Egypt

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What did faith lead Moses to do and when did this happen?

  • What did Moses consider was better than the treasures of Egypt? How is this seen?

  • What was the attitude Moses had when he left Egypt? Why was he not afraid? 

  • How does all of this relate to the judgment and celebration of Passover?

Reflection...

Moses made life choices based on his encounter and relationship with the true and living God. He saw beyond what the natural eye sees. The choices Moses made were not based on what his human nature desired.

Moses' life became extraordinary as God worked faith into him through the challenges and tests in his life. Those times were decision points for him and required him to make certain choices.

Each step Moses took in trusting God led him to a deeper level of faith. This is what brought Moses from the ordinary life of pleasure he had in Pharoah's court to an extraordinary life as God's deliverer for Israel.

Moses forsook the pleasures he had in Egypt and endured the insults and scorn as a man who trusted in the God of Israel. Because Moses chose insult and suffering over pleasure, God set him free and he led Israel into freedom and out of Egypt.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  •  How is it possible that Christ is referred to in relation to Moses' time in Egypt? [see the story of Passover in Exodus chapters 12 and 13]

  • Do you see how the writer of Hebrews connects Christ and the freedom Passover brought to believers then and for us now?

  • What are your life choices based on? Do you choose the ordinary or the extraordinary?

  • In what way do you make extraordinary faith-based decisions?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews

Better Things

What's your image of God? Do you envision Him as a kindly grandfather, or do you imagine Him being a strict disciplinarian?

Our family of origin and how we were raised can have a positive or negative effect on our relationship with God. I've seen this to be true in people's lives over and over as a pastor and missionary. 

A Son Not a Servant

The Christian faith is not a set of abstract beliefs. A confession of faith is more than words and thoughts written out or spoken.

Genuine Christian faith is anchored in Jesus. Not only what is believed in Him as the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, but in relationship with Him.

Genuine Christianity is centered on the person of Jesus Christ, not a set of doctrines to be practiced or beliefs to hold. The book of Hebrews makes this very clear.