I remember in my teenage years I referred to my smoking habit by saying, “I can quit anytime.” We often have inflated confidence that we can stop an addicting habit. Somehow it doesn’t seem so bad if an addiction is merely “a choice,” and we think we are in control. I’m guessing quite of few of you can relate because you were once a slave to smoking.
Smoking is one thing, but drinking alcohol is in a whole different solar system. Smoking is now less socially acceptable, while drinking is widely accepted as long as it isn’t “excessive.” Even in many Christian circles, drinking in moderation is “fine.” But I challenge you to consider: Is it wise?
Seriously, have you ever heard of a husband abusing his wife or threatening to kill her while under the influence of tobacco? Alcohol undermines what self-control and inhibitions a person has. It clouds judgement and destroys relationships. It feels good and cries “give me more.” Alcohol destroys lives. Might it be similar to the fool who justifies drug use by saying, “Sure it can be addictive, but I only use it in moderation.”
“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1).
“Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder” (Proverbs 23:31-32).
If you are still not convinced, next week I will share why I decided to never drink alcohol even in moderation.
Teri was aware of our morning, wake-up alarm sounding, but I wasn’t stirring to turn it off. She hopped out of bed to turn the ceiling fan off. When she returned, I hadn’t yet rolled over to turn the alarm off and the light on, which would have been my norm. She waited a bit with the alarm now sounding its loudest. She decided she would gently try to wake me by patting my exposed arm. She touched my arm. Still, no movement and my arm felt cold! Could her worst fear be true?
Brothers, death is a part of life and inevitable. When one in a marriage is gone, memories remain. I understand that regrets tend to push their way in quickly. If only I’d have been more loving, patient, gentle, affirming—an endless list.
Then there are those marriages where a spouse is broadsided when the other leaves declaring, “I’ve had enough. It’s over, and I’m not coming back.”
Brothers, the best time to improve a marriage is now—not tomorrow. Invest in your wife, love her, in Christ lead her. Be dead to irritating things she does or doesn’t do.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself” (Ephesians 5:25-28).
If only everyone had the right answer to: “Who is Jesus Christ?” Jesus is the Messiah, God incarnate, the perfect, sinless, Lamb of God, Son of God. It is a great question when you engage someone new. If you hear a textbook response then ask: “But Who is Jesus to you?” (Luke 9:20) Knowing Who Jesus is theologically, is important, but not enough, compared to knowing Him as one’s personal Savior and Lord (2 Peter 3:18).
Obviously, we want the right answers (read relationship) from our children. What are you doing to facilitate that? Hopefully, your family is attending church. That is good, but are you leading your family in a quality, Bible time every day? That is vitally important to disciple our children in their relationship with Jesus. We must also be living out the example of life in Christ before them. If Jesus is in our thoughts, and we are abiding in Him, He will be in our speech through praise and thanksgiving over the course of the day. Brothers, we have nothing and are nothing aside from Christ.
If our answer to “Who is Jesus?” is simply a textbook response, and our lives aren’t different from the world, that is scary. Maybe we don’t know Him. “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).
If you are in the practice of sharing your faith, someone likely has told you he didn’t want to be a Christian and be like the other hypocrites who say they are Christians. Hmmm. Let’s consider that thought.
Let’s say I TRULY believe that Scripture says unless someone repents of the hell-bound path they are on and trusts solely in Jesus’ shed blood on the cross (propitiation, Romans 3:25) for the remission/payment for their sins, they will spend eternity in hell. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).
Or I believe Scripture says you can’t be saved (or kept) by good works as many churches/religions teach. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
If I truly, truly believe those things and don’t make sincere, constant efforts to lovingly engage those I encounter and share with them the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, wouldn’t you say I was worthy of being called a hypocrite? How could I sincerely love people who are headed for eternity in hell and not seek to turn them?
Brothers, is it any wonder this country, full of professing Christians, is throwing off everything of Christ in the pursuit of evil? Is your hand to the plow my brothers or the TV remote, gameboy, fishing pole, or whatever your pleasure might be? “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
If you want to know what is important to someone, simply “watch them.” A person will spend his time on what he considers most important. Excuses aside, if you want to know what priority the God of the universe is to him, watch how much time is spent with Him.
How much time is “given Him?” Does God get the left-over scraps of time after priorities are dealt with? Do the vain things valued by the world; TV, movies, news and social media get priority over family and personal Bible time?
We easily consider that we are giving Him our time, but aren’t we “bought with a price?” He owns us totally, which includes all our time. If we love Him, wouldn’t we spend undistracted time with our Lord Jesus?
The more serious question is whether we are stealing any of His time.
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20). “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19).
Your attitude is vitally important. Your thoughts regarding your God-given responsibilities are powerful factors in determining the results ahead. Nehemiah was steadfast in his determination to build Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:11, 2:11, 2:17) and you, my brothers, must be determined to build your families spiritually (Deuteronomy 6, Ephesians 6:4).
Nehemiah had enemies around him who did not want him to succeed in the work God called him to (Nehemiah 2:19). You will face resistance (John 16:33) to building the godly family God has called you to build. The more godly your desires for your family, the more resistance you might expect. It may come from extended family, neighbors, “friends” or sadly, even people at church who don’t like your particular direction. Initially, they might use disparaging/discouraging words (Nehemiah 2:19) to you or your family, and if that doesn’t derail you, they will likely try additional tactics.
Those against Nehemiah devised cunning ways and even intimidation to try to stop the building. Oh, my brothers, don’t underestimate the will of those who do not want you to succeed in raising children who love and serve the Lord Jesus. “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30).
Sadly, it seems like some women in church have taken Isaiah 20:3 out of context. “And the LORD said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia” (Isaiah 20:3). It is not a clothing recommendation.
The first Passover required every family to take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood of the slain lamb, and then apply it to the lintel and side posts of the door to their home (Exodus 12:21-22). The blood on the doorframe would certainly have been obvious to anyone passing by.
Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb. He was the perfect Lamb of God sacrificed for us, and His blood has been applied to the souls of every believer. “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us…” (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Scripture gives us the picture that anyone who is a true follower of Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:24) will be as obvious to others as that door frame with the blood splashed on it was. Jesus gave us the mental image of a follower carrying his cross in this life. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). May we live for the One Who died for us.
It’s Wednesday morning and you grab your phone to see if anything important has come in overnight. There is an email from the church with important news, “Next Wednesday the Lord is returning for His people.” You can hardly believe it. How exciting, but how difficult to wait a whole week.
After your wave of joy, a wave of grief hits you. What about all the lost people you know? After you are gone is there any hope of them coming to Christ? The next wave is of greater sadness. You think of all the time that you squandered doing selfish, unimportant, fun things that seemed important yesterday. Now you wonder: What if my fun will cost these people eternity in hell?
Suddenly you realized football, baseball, basketball, movies (good wholesome ones of course) TV, video games/gaming, news, social media and so much more all represent countless wasted hours. Then the thought comes: Hey, it’s Satan’s fault, not mine. He’s the one who tricked me into wasting my time on what I thought was harmless fun things. Oh, you realize, that excuse didn’t work for Adam and Eve, and it won’t work for me when I stand before the Lord at judgement.
Since the Lord isn’t going to tell us when He’s coming back, maybe we ought to live as if it is tomorrow. “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:44).
Please consider. If the decisions you make while leading your family don’t require strength and courage, is it possible you aren’t following God’s Word, or you are leading a family of “angels”? Here’s why the question.
When Joshua took over leadership of Israel, Moses told him to be strong and of good courage (Deuteronomy 31:7). God, Himself, told Joshua two times to be strong and of good courage (Joshua 1:6, 1:9). One time God told Joshua to be strong and very courageous (Joshua 1:7). Do you get the feeling that leading consistent with God’s Word is a difficult challenge? Joshua was taking God’s children into the promised land. The obstacles had been huge under Moses’ direction and would continue to be so. Previously, the problems were more from within than from the enemies without.
Do you see the similarities to what a Christian father faces in raising children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Then Paul encouraged the Ephesians: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10). Next they were to “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). That takes strength and courage my Brothers. It is a marvel of God’s grace that He will supply it (Philippians 4:19).