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Archive for January, 2014

Scripture:  “I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers.”  Philemon 1:4 (NASB)

Observation: My prayers. Sharing with God the joys and sorrows of life as friend to friend, is prayer at its best. Again, Paul reminds Philemon of the deep respect and gratitude the apostle feels toward him. Tactfully, Paul prepares the way for Philemon to accord Onesimus a kindly reception. There is an abundance of encouragement in the certain knowledge that a beloved and respected friend is praying for us, that this friend has full confidence in our integrity and sanctified judgment (see vs. 5–7). Such is the assurance that Paul gives Philemon. 9 The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 7. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (379). Review and Herald Publishing Association)

Application: Do you see your child as a gift from God?  He has entrusted you with one of the greatest treasures you will ever own. Yet, do our words regard them as such? If we were to take an inventory perhaps we would be surprised at how often we speak in ways that are to the contrary.

Focusing on the negative is an easy trap to fall in to. Complaining and griping is one of Satan’s tactics that all too often work. Do you often find yourself speaking negatively about your child? It is easy to make our daily prayers look more like a “fix it” list. That list becomes long as we spend prayer time asking God to “fix” our children and our spouse. We gladly hand God His “to do” list every day. Our prayers ascend to the heavenly throne and sound like this… “Lord, fix John’s grumbling, make Katie quit fighting with her little sister, help Michael study harder and make better grades, and please let Susie sleep through the night. ”

When was the last time that you devoted prayer time exclusively to thanking God for each member of your family?  Mention them by name and thank God for specific things about each one. And, don’t forget to tell them too. Knowing that you have been a praise on someone’s prayer list can be powerful. By focusing on the positives our daily “fix it” lists to God can become times of thanksgiving and praise. ” Lord, thank you for John’s ability to see things that need changing, thank you that little Katie can stand up for herself when she sees injustice, thank you that Michael enjoys being out in your creation, and thank you for little Susie’s energy. ”

A Prayer You May Say: Dear Lord, thank you for (insert your child’s name). Thank You for the awesome priviledge of being his/her parent. Thank you for the gifts such as (be specific and list positives).  In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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Scripture:  “God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that he won’t stop before it is complete on the day that Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6 (CEV)

Observation:  a good work—Any work that God begins, He will surely finish (1Sa 3:12). Not even men begin a work at random. Much more the fact of His beginning the work is a pledge of its completion (Is 26:12). So as to the particular work here meant, the perfecting of their fellowship in the Gospel (Php 1:5; Ps 37:24; 89:33; 138:8; Jn 10:28, 29; Jn 10:28, 29, Ro 8:29, 35–39 Heb 6:17–19; Jam 1:17; Jud 1:24). As God cast not off Israel for ever, though chastening them for a time, so He will not cast off the spiritual Israel (De 33:3; Is 27:3; 1Pe 1:5). [Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Php 1:6). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.]

Application:  Growth takes time and yet, as parents we often expect perfection in our children overnight. It is far too easy to forget that He is not finished yet. As adults we struggle with certain behaviors and continue to grow and mature spiritually throughout our lifetime. Remember, the text for today tells me that the work God is doing in my life will not be complete until the day that Jesus returns to take me home with Him. Why is it that we want our children to overcome their challenges and we want the change to happen NOW?

 Don’t be impatient with your child. Focus on the positives. Look for areas where you see growth and take the time to affirm that in your child. If your child only hears about their faults they will become discouraged, develop poor self- esteem, and not be motivated to attempt new things for fear of failure. It is through failures that we all learn. It is only in falling that we learn how to get up.

I’m thankful that I serve a God who never gives up on me. And, we should never give up on our children! The scripture verse also reminds me that “He won’t stop.”  Christ keeps working on my heart and my attitudes day after day. He loves me and continually forgives me and allows me to start anew. Now, that’s great news for us and for our children!

A Prayer You May Say:  Dear Lord, please help me to exercise patience with my child. I trust You to finish the work that You have started in them, and in me. In the name of Jesus, amen. 

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A Handsome Child

Title: A Handsome Child                               Topic: Parenting

 

Scripture: So the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months. (Ex.2:2, NKJV)

 

Observation:  A goodly child. Even as a babe Moses gave evidence of the keen intellect, emotional stability, and also the physical perfection that marked his later years. All of this is implied in the Hebrew word translated “goodly.” Jochebed saw in these qualities a token of divine approval, which she took as a sign that God had marked out some special task for him. According to Acts 7:20 he was, literally, “attractive [“beautiful,” RSV] to God.” This is rendered in the KJV as “exceeding fair.” Jochebed would of course have loved and protected Moses even if he had not been so “goodly” a child, for mothers often devote their deepest love to weak and sickly children. However, Jochebed’s efforts to preserve the life of Moses are praised in Heb. 11:23 as an act of faith, and this implies awareness on her part that God had destined him for an important role and would therefore intervene to preserve his life. This, however, does not necessarily confirm a statement by the Jewish historian Josephus (Antiquities ii. 9. 3) that it had been revealed to Amram before the birth of the child that he was appointed to be the savior of Israel. (The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 1. 1978 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (501). Review and Herald Publishing Association.)

 

Application:  Every time I read the words of today’s text I find it interesting that Jochebed saw that her son, Moses, was handsome.  What mother doesn’t think their child is handsome?  Well, in a poll of 1000 parents in the United Kingdom[1] revealed their feelings and reactions when they first set eyes on their babies.  Of the 18 per cent who admitted being disappointed by the looks of their child, more than half had discussed their feelings with their partners but only eight per cent said they had spoken to anyone else about it.  Instead it seems the vast majority suffer their disappointment in silence, choosing to put on the brave face society expects.

A spokesman for the company that conducted the survey explained that as human beings we are wired to love our babies and the poll overwhelmingly supports the theory that we all fall in love with our children at first sight.  At the same time, loving your baby doesn’t have to mean that you think he/she is beautiful.  It appears that every parent feels a pressure to say their new baby is beautiful but only four out of five actually believe it.  And yet, the remaining fifth who secretly feel their baby is ugly don’t love them any less and may even feel the need to spoil them more than they would a good looking baby.

Were you a little disappointed with your child’s look when you first laid eyes on him/her?  Maybe that has to do with the world’s idea of what constitutes a beautiful baby.  We have seen the “Gerber” baby on so many baby food jars, posters, and commercials that we expect ours to look just like that.  But the reality is that our children are beautiful because they are ours. . . and they are God’s children.  At first, many children are a bit “disfigured” as a result of the trauma of going through the birth canal, or when they are premature, but with time their head assumes the proper shape,  they fill up with normal baby fat, and act more and more like these precious little creatures, looking so much like us, and we fall in love with them more and more every day.  Love your child, no matter what your first feelings about their looks may be.

 

A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, thank you for our children, your gift to us.  May they experience our love toward them in the same way we experience Your love toward us.

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In-laws or Out-laws?

Scripture: When Esau was forty years old, he took as wives Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah. (Genesis 26:34-35 NKJV)

 

Observation:  Esau … took to wife—If the pious feelings of Abraham recoiled from the idea of Isaac forming a matrimonial connection with a Canaanitish woman [Ge 24:3], that devout patriarch himself would be equally opposed to such a union on the part of his children; and we may easily imagine how much his pious heart was wounded, and the family peace destroyed, when his favorite but wayward son brought no less than two idolatrous wives among them—an additional proof that Esau neither desired the blessing nor dreaded the curse of God. These wives never gained the affections of his parents, and this estrangement was overruled by God for keeping the chosen family aloof from the dangers of heathen influence. [Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Ge 26:34). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.]

Which were a grief of mind. These two women, as the Hebrew clearly indicates, became literally, “a bitterness of spirit” to Esau’s parents. Their perverse and evil ways, their idolatrous religion, and their unspiritual and frivolous disposition brought heartache to Isaac and Rebekah. This sad world knows no greater grief than that which children can bring. [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 1. 1978 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (374). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

 

Application: Parents often have conflict with their children over their potential mate, particularly if it’s one whose beliefs and lifestyle are contrary to the way they brought their children.  Shakespeare immortalized this conflict it in Romeo and Juliet.  This drama is one of the major themes in the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof.

 

Fortunately, there are less drastic solutions than the romantic death scene in Romeo and Juliet. Like Tevye in Fiddler or Robert in Downton Abbey, there are parents who eventually accept their adult children’s choices and even give their blessing. But it takes work and willingness. It doesn’t happen by magic or by argument. An article in PsychCentral.com (http://psychcentral.com/lib/when-your-parents-disapprove-of-your-partner/00015804) provides several suggestions to help you negotiate through these troubled waters:

  1. Don’t meet criticism with criticism but instead, be compassionate and understanding.
  2. Don’t meet parental disapproval with defensiveness and argument; instead, respond to their concerns with respect and clarity.
  3. Don’t keep your relationship a secret. Instead, make sure both of you agree about compromises in order to be together.
  4. Don’t use your partner to make a political point, to educate your parents, or to give yourself an ally. Instead, be clear about your own motives.
  5. Don’t take a side – your potential mate or your mother’s.  Instead, do your best to negotiate compromises, understanding, or at least respectful disagreement.

 

Parents don’t want to lose you any more than you want to lose them.  They are afraid of not just breaking the relationship they have with you but that you will break your relationship with God.  I’m sure that was part of what brought grief to the heart of Isaac and Rebekah.

 

A Prayer You May Say:  Father, bless our children that them may choose a mate who has the same principles, values, and beliefs in which we have brought them up, and bless us that we may always have a close, positive relationship with them and their chosen spouse.

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One Husband and One Wife

Scripture:       The Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a fitting helper for him.” (Gen. 2:18 – Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures. Jewish Publication Society)

Observation:  Man’s fulfillment requires companionship. As a talmudic rabbi observes about v. 18, “Even though a man has several sons, it is forbidden to him to be without a wife” (b. Yebam. 61b). The Lord’s creation of woman from man emphasizes the close connection between them and lays the groundwork for the understanding of marriage (and its association with procreation) in v. 24. The creation of the woman after the man and from a part of his body need not imply the subordination of women to men. According to Ramban (Naḥmanides, a great 13th-century Spanish rabbi), the point of v. 24 is that men are to be different from the males of the animal world, who mate and move on to the next partner: A man “wishes [his wife] to be with him always.” Promiscuity is thus a degradation of God’s intentions in creating human beings male and female. It is interesting that although polygamy is amply attested in the Tanakh, v. 24 indicates that the ideal, Edenic condition is monogamy (see also Mal. 2:14–16; Prov. 5:15–23).[ The Jewish Study Bible. 2004 (A. Berlin, M. Z. Brettler & M. Fishbane, Ed.) (16). New York: Oxford University Press.]

Application:  When God created Eve, His plan was not that the man and the woman would be in competition for supremacy; that came as a result of sin.  God’s plan was that they would be equally in His image and that they would serve one another, a principle stated later by Paul in Ephesians 5:21 where he wrote, “submitting to one another in the fear of God.”

The Jewish commentators cited above make a very interesting point, and worth emphasizing again:  According to Ramban (Naḥmanides, a great 13th-century Spanish rabbi), the point of v. 24 is that men are to be different from the males of the animal world, who mate and move on to the next partner: A man “wishes [his wife] to be with him always.” Promiscuity is thus a degradation of God’s intentions in creating human beings male and female.

            From the beginning, God intended that one man and one woman would make up the marital dyad.  A multiplicity of spouse (polygamy), or even a series of spouses (serial monogamy), was not God’s intention, even if it was permitted for some and for some time.  God’s best plan for us as individuals is to be married only to one other individual, and that for a lifetime.

Ellen White makes a most sublime observation when she writes: “God Himself gave Adam a companion. He provided ‘an help meet for him’–a helper corresponding to him–one who was fitted to be his companion, and who could be one with him in love and sympathy (The Adventist Home, p.25).  Marriage, as God designed it, was to bring two people so close together that they would not simply feel for the other (empathy), but feel with the other (sympathy).

A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, thank you for designing marriage of one man and one woman as Your ideal, knowing that it would be best for both and for our family.  Help us to have love and sympathy one for the other and to be the true helpmate you designed for us to be.

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