The Peril of Prosperity

There is a danger that we all face as Christians.  This danger is intensified when God tangibly displays His mercy in our lives.  The danger is that we might magnify the gift and forget the Giver.  As believers, there is great blessing in the gifts God gives us, but we must evaluate the real worth of such gifts.  The gift must draw us closer to the Giver.  We must magnify Ghannahod …make Him big.  The gift is a vehicle to do just that.

Hannah is an Old Testament example of just this (1 Samuel 1-2).  Hannah looked upon the gift of a son as an opportunity to magnify her God.  What can we learn from Hannah’s words recorded in 1 Samuel 2.1-10?

When we receive great gifts from God, it is because He is a great God.  There is none like Him (1 Samuel 2.2a-b).  There is no one as powerful as He is (2.2c).  There is no one who knows what He knows (3c).  There is no one who is just as He is (3d).  God is able to bring to bear a great reversal in our lives.  He gives great strength in our great weakness (4b).  The full are hungry (5a) and the hungry are fed (5b).  The barren woman has many children and the mother who has many children becomes feeble (5c-d).  The poor are made rich and the low are exalted (7-8).

God alone takes a life in judgment.  He kills but does not murder.  This is His sovereign prerogative (6).  He guards the feet of the saints or those set apart as His children (9).  But those who reject His King and Anointed One, the Lord Jesus Christ, are silent in eternal darkness.  By self-sufficiency, self-righteousness, or self-dependence, no man prevails.  Strength is found in Christ and in Him alone.  Don’t look at the gift but at the Giver.  Look to…

  1. God’s power and holiness brought to bear in the lives of those who trust in Him
  2. God’s wisdom and justice as comforts when inequity abounds
  3. God’s grace found in the benefits of prayer and His full revelation in the Scriptures

All benefits and blessings in this life point up the character of the God we claim to serve.  If these gifts from God become a means to an end, then we have practiced a very subtle form of idolatry.  We have vaunted up creation above the Creator.  If we do this as children of God, we may expect God to bring chastening instead of prosperity.

If you are like me, you’d rather have all of your needs met right away.  But it seems that we are inclined to stop trusting in God when this happens.  Prosperity is a place of peril for many in our country.  We fall into the delusion that our own hand has provided us with these things.

Our families must understand that suffering, difficult people and circumstances, and the crucible of a trial have the potential to be wonderful messengers declaring the glory of God.  Hannah’s great trial was a barren womb.  She pleaded for a child.  God gave her a baby boy.  She called him Samuel.  Samuel’s name means “asked of YHWH”.  When God grants her request, Hannah has the spiritual depth to magnify God and not the fact that she was no longer barren.

Who or what is magnified when God blesses you?  The answer to this question reveals how spiritual we truly are.

The Abundance of Everything

We certainly love God for who He is, but we also love God for what He gives.  It’s never advisable to think only in terms of the abstract in theology.  It may sound pious to say that we simply love God for who He is and not what He gives, but such piety will not stand in the face of Scripture.  We arPsalm 103.3e grateful daily for all of God’s benefits.  We serve Him with joy and gladness for the abundance of everything (Deuteronomy 28.47).

Who He Is

God is merciful, gracious, and steadfast.  The extension of God’s mercy teaches us that we deserve nothing but His wrath.  The extension of His grace indicates that He watches over us and delights in giving us good gifts we will never deserve.  His steadfastness helps us to realize that He will always be present and never neglect us.  The mercy, grace, and steadfastness of the LORD are realities which spur active service.

What He Gives

The response and worship of God’s children ought to be personal, committed, and continual.  David writes, “Bless the LORD, O my soul” (Psalm 103.1).  We owe a debt that we cannot possibly pay.  Even if we are struggling to make ends meet, we are better off.  The richest of men who know nothing of God’s gifts live is spiritual squalor.  This drives commitment to obey the LORD’s primary command:  Love Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  He forgives, heals redeems, crowns, and satisfies.  Therefore we continually bless and praise Him.

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:

Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103.1-5

We are reluctant to bless the LORD because it doesn’t feel genuine.  The reason this is true is that we fail to remind ourselves of His character and all His daily benefits.  There is no greater joy for the Christian to be genuinely and continually committed to his God.  Be thankful for who He is and what He gives.

Explore the Book: Exodus (Pt 1)

Exodus is built around its three great actors:  Israel, Egypt, and God.

Israel

Exodus meant four things specifically for Israel:

  1. A new life was marked by the beginning of a new calendar (Exodus 12.2).
  2. The house of bondage gave way to new liberty by the powerful hand of God’s deliverance (Exodus 13.3).
  3. The Passover memorial and feast symbolized a new fellowship (Exodus 12.14).
  4. The deliverance of Israel from bondage marked a new assurance that God would indeed be there God (Exodus 6.7-8).

The Exodus under Moses parallels the redemption Christ brings to believers:

“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5.7-8).

We, too, have new life, new liberty, new fellowship, and new assurance.

Egypt

Exodus meant three things specifically for Egypt:

  1. Their false idolatry was exposed (Exodus 12.12).  Baxter
  2. Resistance to God is futile (Exodus 9.16).
  3. Egypt parallels the world:
  • Its material wealth and power (Hebrews 11.26)
  • Its fleshly wisdom and false religion (Exodus 8.7)
  • Its ruler (Satan compared with Pharaoh)
  • Its principles of force, arrogance, ambition, and pleasure
  • Its persecution of the people of God (Deuteronomy 4.20)
  • Its overthrow by divine judgment (Exodus 12.29; 15.4-7; plagues, death of the firstborn, drowning of Pharaoh’s army)

God

Exodus provides a go-to manifestation of God’s power.  It will be an event that the Old Testament returns to again and again.

The Marvel of the Exodus Deliverance:

  1. A marvel of judgment (plagues, smiting of the firstborn, and the defeat of the Egyptian army)
  2. A marvel of grace (blood-marked dwellings are passed over and Israel is delivered)
  3. A marvel of might (God’s power to part the Red Sea)
  4. A marvel of guidance (demonstrated by the pillars of cloud and fire)
  5. A marvel of provision (manna and water)
  6. A marvel of faithfulness (God honors both the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants)
  7. A marvel of condescension (God meets with man in the Tabernacle; He will not forsake His people)

The Marvel of New Testament Redemption:

  1. Judgment – God has judged human sin at the cross of Jesus Christ and through the blood of His Son.
  2. Grace – We identify with Christ and escape punishment we deserve.  Then, we are given righteousness we do not deserve.
  3. Might – The resurrection of Christ is a manifestation of God’s supreme power over sin and death.
  4. Guidance – The Holy Spirit leads us in the way we should go.  There is no need for a physical pillar of light or fire.
  5. Provision – We have all the spiritual blessings in Christ.  He supplies our every need.
  6. Faithfulness – God keeps covenant with His people.  He will not leave or forsake us.
  7. Condescension – God makes His home in us through the Holy Spirit.  Thus, we are the temple of the living God.  This is simply amazing condescension.

These parallels provide an entrance for the Gospel.  Baxter draws three points of comparison and three points of contrast:

Comparison

  1. Israel was freed from the house of bondage, namely Egypt.  We, too, are freed from the bondage of sin.
  2. Israel celebrated their deliverance with the Passover lamb.  Jesus is the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world.
  3. Israel commemorated the Passover with a feast from that time forward.  Christ is our Passover and we too remember Him as such through the Lord’s Table.

Contrast

  1. Means:  The blood of animals was a mere shadow of the substance of Christ’s blood shed for us.
  2. Extent:  The liberation of Israel was limited to just them, but the liberation of the Gospel is for whosoever will come.
  3. Effects:  Israel was delivered from physical slavery in Egypt, but we are delivered from eternal slavery in Hell.

 

Explore the Book: Genesis (Pt 4)

The Seven Great Men of Genesis

  1. Abel – a man of spiritual desire.  This is a contrast to Cain, a man of earthly desire.  Cain was a tiller of the ground with earthward interests and holdings.  Abel was a keeper of sheep, a tent-dwelling pilgrim desiring something beyond.  Cain goes out from the presence of the Lord and busies himself with cities and with works in brass and iron.  Abel reaches for better things, seeking rest in God; suffering and dying in hope of the better resurrection (Hebrews 11.16).
  2. Enoch – a man who walked with God.  Behind the walk was the will.  Enoch’s will was God’s will.  Two cannot walk together except they be agreed (Amos 3.3).  Enoch agreed with God.  He made this choice to fellowship with God and walk with God.  Enoch went God’s way; God did not come Enoch’s way.  He was a dedicated man of spiritual choice.
  3. Noah – a man of spiritual renewal.  Noah’s story begins as a man of spiritual choice on the ground of the old world (Genesis 6).  He is separated from the old world in the ark and by the flood waters (Genesis 7).  He then goes forth into a new life in a new world (Genesis 8-9).
  4. Abraham – a man of faith.  He trusted in God’s guidance, believed in God’s promises, received God’s assurances, inherited God’s blessing, underwent difficult testing, and was accounted righteous through faith as a friend of God.
  5. Isaac – a man of sonship.  Isaac is a son of special promise, special birth, special preciousness, the only son of his mother, and the only heir of his father, the son through whom promises are realized.  A special bride is chosen for him.  He dwelt in the land of inheritance, biding by thBaxtere wells of water, with many joys and few conflicts, we see in him the privileges and joys of sonship.
  6. Jacob – a man of service.  Jacob is the worker throughout, busy with his hands.  He struggles to obtain the blessing.  He is touched by God and becomes the prince of prayer.  He is spiritual at heart.  He is eager in his activity, work, and service.
  7. Joseph – a man of suffering and glory.  Faith, sonship, and service blend together in his life.  Joseph is made perfect through sufferings.  

These seven men are set apart by the writer of Hebrews as great men of faith (see Hebrews 11).

Suggestions to Study these Seven Men:

    

  1. Study them biographically.  Note dominant features and determining crises.  Illustrate and apply.
  2. Study them spiritually.  Which transcending truths enlighten the mind?  Which transcending truths regulate the life?
  3. Study them prophetically.  Baxter suggests the following prophecies within Genesis:  Christ (3.14-15); Earth (3.17-18; 8.21-22); Race (9.25-27); Israel (13.14-17; 22.15-18); Nations and tribes (17.19-20; 25.23; 48.17-20; 49.1-28).
  4. Study them dispensationally.  A dispensation is a period of time during which man is tested in respect of obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God.  Baxter numbers seven in Scripture and four in Genesis:  1) Innocence in which God tests man; 2) Conscience in which God suffered man; 3) Human Government in which God restrained man; 4) Promise in which God wrought for man.
  5. Study Genesis geographically, critically, and textually.

Explore the Book: Genesis (Pt 2)

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1–2)

Creation

  • “In the beginning God” – denies atheism with its doctrine of no God
  • “In the beginning God” – denies polytheism with its doctrine of many gods
  • “In the beginning God created” – denies fatalism with its doctrine of chance
  • “In the beginning God created” – denies evolution with its doctrine of infinite becoming
  • “God created heaven and earth” – denies pantheism which makes God and the universe identical
  • “God created heaven and earth” – denies materialism which asserts the eternity of matter

Note:  It is at this point that Baxter maintains what many older commentators maintained.  He held to a gap of time that elapses between Genesis 1.1 and Genesis 1.2.  He claims that these verses have no logical connection.  He seeks to reconcile science with the Bible by explaining geology through this gap of time.  He believes that the earth was reformed. Further, he believes that the days in Genesis 1-2 are not literal days but point to the process, progress, and purpose they exhibit.  This effects his view of Genesis 2.

I maintain that God created all things in six literal days.  There was no recreation of the heavens and the earth.  There is no large gap of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.  As far as the age of the geological table, I believe God created the heavens and the earth with the appearance of age.  Adam and Eve were not created as infants but as full-grown adults.  The gap theory and any other acquiescence to science ought to be dismissed.  The text in Genesis is literal and historical.

Click this link to understand more about the Gap Theory and recent modifications made to it.

Fall

  1. Temptation (Genesis 3.1-6) – The tempter could only tempt.  There need not have been sin.  There was no reason to yield to temptation.  The temptation was strengthened by the questioning of God’s Word (3.1), flat out contradiction (3.4), and the maligning of God’s motive behind the prohibition given (3.5).
  2. Yielding (Genesis 3.6) – Satan captured the ear, the eye, the inward desire, and finally the will.  Eve allowed her ear to listen to the tempter, her eye to become fixed upon the object of temptation, and her desire to run away with her will (cp. Genesis 3.6 with 1 John 2.16 and 2 Timothy 2.14).
  3. Results (Genesis 3.7-24) – Eyes were in fact opened and they knew they were naked.  Innocence was gone.  Shame manifested itself.  Surely there were outward and inward changes.  Attendant with sin was fear and hiding.  Yet God remembers mercy and delivers the promise of a coming Savior (Genesis 3.15).

Flood

We know little about the period between the Fall and the Flood.  It is a 1600 year period when corruption became so thorough that the intervention of God was unavoidable.  Retribution became inevitable.  It illustrates the need for separation between the lines of Seth and Cain.  It illustrates the need to remain uncompromising in our world today.

Note:  Baxter believes that it is not necessary to hold to a universal flood in order to maintain inspiration.  He is mistaken.  The promise of God mitigates against this belief.  There have been many localized floods that have taken tens of thousands of lives in a single incident.  His material on this point is confusing and incoherent.

To better understand the Genesis flood, click here to examine its universality.
Baxter
Babel

This event marks the pluralizing of human language.  This was necessary as a form of judgment due to unwholesome unity and rebellion against God.

Note:  Baxter’s addendum to Lesson 2 buttressed his argument for a Gap Theory.  Research regarding the Days of Creation is found by clicking the link.  In spite of Baxter’s support of the Gap Theory, we will find much value and profit in Explore the Book.  We just need to be discerning.

Cultivating a Life of Faith:  A Man of Promise – Genesis 21.1-21 (Pt 11)

We must read Abraham’s story with our own in mind.  What have we learned from his journey?  Those cultivating a life of faith must…

  1. …be set apart from the world, to God, and for His glory (Genesis 12.1-4).
  2. …begin with a proper perspective of God and upon godliness (Genesis 12.5-20).
  3. …deny self and choose the path of separation (Genesis 13.1-18).
  4. …be courageous enough to see beyond today and serve the King of Peace (Genesis 14.1-24).
  5. …persevere and imitate those who have already received the promises (Genesis 15.1-21).
  6. …refuse to compromise and live lives of conviction (Genesis 16.1-16).
  7. …be properly motivated for a daily commitment to God (Genesis 17.1-27).
  8. …develop intimacy with integrity in order to effectively intercede on the behalf of others (Genesis 18.1-33).
  9. …be intolerant of sin (Genesis 19.1-38).
  10. …acknowledge and confess carnality before our Heavenly Father (Genesis 20.1-18).

Genesis 21 brings us to the realization of a promise God had made to Abraham through the provision of a son, namely Isaac.  Yet Sarah’s solution through her handmaid Hagar and the subsequent birth of Ishmael continues to create problems.  Hagar and Ishmael are both driven away from the homestead and into the wilderness where God continues to provide for both.

Isaac:  The Promised Son (21.1-7)

God promised an heir all along.  He had asked, “Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son” (Genesis 18.14).  Now in clear, unmistakable terms God keeps His promise “as He had said”, “as He had spoken”, and at the set time “of which He had spoken.”

The Lord visited Sarah.  This marks a momentous event.  God will visit the children of Israel and look upon their affliction when they are in bondage in Egypt.  Luke 1.68 tells us that the Lord God of Israel “visited and redeemed His people.”  Later, after Jesus raises the widow’s son, great fear comes upon all, they glorify God and say, “…God has visited His people” (Luke 7.16).  The birth of Isaac points to an even greater birth:  “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…” (Isaiah 9.6a).

This passage reveals that Sarah laughs a second time.  The first time she laughed, it was a nervous laughter years ago when God had revealed what He would do.  She laughs now out of sheer joy, and we laugh with her some four thousand years later.  When she asks the question, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children?”  She acknowledges that only God could be at work in her life.  And, indeed, only God could be at work in delivering the promised son.

Sarah desired to see God work in her life, but she hardly believed it possible.  Sometimes it is easy for us to ignore the fact that God is at work in and through us.  Other times, we take credit for what He has done and strut in arrogant opposition to Him.  Be careful with this.  As James Dixon wrote, “We seldom consider that a request to see God work in our lives may be a request for testing and trial.”  This is exactly what happened to Sarah, and God made her laugh!

Ishmael:  The Parting Son (21.8-21)

Ishmael scoffed.  You won’t settle what is meant by this by merely studying the lexical meaning of the word.  Was Ishmael cruel toward Isaac?  Was he arrogantly asserting his own position as the oldest son and, therefore, the rightful heir?  Was he simply being immature, showing a lack of respect?  Whatever the answer, Ishmael simply did not understand his place in the house of Abraham.  It was also some form of persecution because Galatians 4.29 makes that clear.  Isaac was the heir and Ishmael was not.  So Sarah has Abraham send Ishmael and his mother away into the wilderness.  But God meets them both in their distress.  He will not only care for Hagar and her son; he will make good on His promise to make a great nation from Ishmael.

Sarah sinned when she gave Hagar to Abraham back in Genesis 16.  Abraham sinned by not leading Sarah and fostering security in the promises of God.  Ishmael sinned in scoffing at the plan of God.  Sin brings judgment.  When Hagar realized she carried Ishmael, she despised Sarah.  Things were never the same.  Abraham gave Sarah the power and discretion to handle the situation with Hagar.  So in a spirit of vindictiveness and retaliation, Sarah treated her without mercy for her insolence.

Sarah sought for a solution to a problem.  But because she acted independently of God, an avalanche of consequences came crushing down on Abraham’s family.  Sarah sought for blessing and happiness but found only struggle and misery.  Hagar had to return to Sarah, which must have really been a humbling experience.  She must submit again to Sarah, but she must have struggled to maintain a good relationship with her.  Now in Genesis 21 Sarah casts out Hagar and Ishmael for good.

Abraham was very displeased.  This was his son that had been cast out.  God had told Abraham in Genesis 17.20:  “I have blessed [Ishmael], and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly.  He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.”  And God would do exactly what He had promised.  Only Abraham could not be a part of Ishmael’s life.  Ishmael would have to be entirely entrusted to God.  God will use this event in Galatians 4 as a portrait for the salvation He now offers:

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children—but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband.” Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free (Galatians 4.21-31).

We are children of the freewoman.  Christians are similar to Isaac in that we experience supernatural birth.  We are a part of the fulfillment of God’s promise to mankind.  Unto us a Son is given!  We should not live as those enslaved.  As Ishmael persecuted Isaac, those according to the flesh persecute those according to the Spirit.  Those according to the flesh are true legalists.  They believe that what they do merits favor with God and will gain them an inheritance.  We should cast out the legalist from our assembly even as Abraham cast out Ishmael.  The legalist will not share in the inheritance with the legitimate sons and daughters of God.  Those who believe they can won’t!  But is it possible for a genuine Christian to revert to legalism?  Yes!  And when he or she does, they ought to be confronted.  They ought to repent and trust fully in Christ for sanctification as they did for justification.  We are children of faith not children of the flesh.

 1. Those born according to the flesh will persecute those born according to the Spirit.

We could not apply this text in Genesis 21 in this specific way if Paul did not do so under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 4.  Genesis 21 is instructive in showing us the heart of man.  Those born according to the flesh will persecute those born according to the Spirit.  It will always be this way.  As a matter of fact, a Christian walking in the flesh (condition) even though he is in the Spirit (position) will often persecute his own brother or sister in Christ.

Anyone born according to the flesh or walking in the flesh just cannot endure the fact that anyone could walk according to the Spirit and be blessed and favored by God.  Jesus says in John 15.19:  “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”  That we call ourselves saints or elect ones in Christ is enough to provoke the hatred of the world.  Ishmael mocked Isaac.  Israel mocked the Christ.  Those in the flesh mock the true sons and daughters of God.  “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (1 Timothy 3.12).

 2. Those born according to the Spirit are true children of the promise.

We are justified by faith; therefore, we are no longer bound under the tutor (Galatians 3.24-25).  We are all sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  If we are Christ’s, then we are truly heirs of the promise (Galatians 3.29).  As children of the promise, we must escape the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Peter 1.4).  We must cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7.1).  As Christians we are empowered by the Holy Spirit of God to demonstrate the righteousness of the Son of God for the glory of God.  Anything short of this goal is not normal Christianity.  We must truly be Spirit-fed and Spirit-led Christians.  True Christians evidence the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  If they don’t, they will have no personal assurance that they are children.  We won’t be assured of that fact either.  There are always weeds among the stalks of wheat.

 3. Those who are sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father shall share together in the inheritance as saints of light.

Paul wrote:

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light (Colossians 1.9-12).

Only the saints in the light are partakers of the Father’s inheritance.  He will cast out all others.  There is neither Jew nor Greek in God’s economy of grace.  All are one in Christ.  Anyone who refuses Christ will not participate in the inheritance which awaits us in Heaven above.  Those who stand on the promises will alone find a solid foundation for their hope, namely the confident expectation that Jesus is coming to take believers to be with Him forever!  What great assurance!  We will not be disinherited.  We cannot be.  We have so much in Christ!  There is so much yet in store for us.  It is simply unreasonable for us not to live for Him.

Parents must endeavor to keep their families together for the glory of God.

Every family is dysfunctional.  Dad acts like an imperial dictator.  Mom wallows in self-pity.  The children are lazy and rebellious.  Family members take one another for granted.  Children scoff and mock when it comes to their siblings.  Not much has changed in 4,000 years.  Our joy can turn to sorrow in a hurry.

As parents, we must endeavor to keep our families together in spite of all of this.  We must avoid rashness and unreasonable demands.  We must respond with the same compassion and mercy that governs our Heavenly Father when we sin against Him.  If we must correct our children, let us temper that correction with genuine prayer.  Let us not be extreme in our response.  We can be excessively permissive and excessively autocratic.  Both are hurtful.  Ask yourself, “What does the Scripture teach?”  Pray for discernment.

The most severe correction should be reserved for scoffing at the will of God in family life.  Meet children head-on when they don’t pay attention to and make fun of your Bible time together.  If they don’t take seriously the things of God, we cannot let it pass.  If they must pluck out an eye or cut off an arm to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, so be it.  What we must be careful of is to make sure we don’t correct our children for our pleasure and convenience.  We cannot discipline our children in anger for this very reason.  It is not for our profit, but for His (and theirs)!

All of us who are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father are secure.

Jesus said of His true disciples, “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10.28-29).

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8.35-39).

It’s not the privileges in store.  It’s not the possessions we hold.  It’s the promises we have.  Rely on the promises of God.  Read the Bible not just for a list of duties before God and man; read it to receive the promises of your Heavenly Father.  Let this sink in as you read it:  The Son of God loved you and gave Himself for you (Galatians 2.20).

“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…” (Ephesians 2.19).