2 Chronicles 33 Hezekiah was a god-fearing king who brought about reformation among the Israelites. His son Manasseh, however, was an evil ruler. He had watched his father walk with God and live according to Scripture. Yet he chose to ignore the Lord. Manasseh worshipped false gods, even to the point of sacrificing his sons by fire in order to praise Molech. He practiced much evil—including witchcraft and sorcery— and led Israel astray, thereby provoking God to anger. The king, along with the people, paid a high price for his rebellion. This story illustrates the Lord’s intolerance of a nation’s disregard toward Him. Now consider our country. We, too, are a nation that pushes God aside—one that has turned away from the only true God and embraced idols. Perhaps these aren’t statues of stone, but we worship money, sports ability, fame, and reputation, to name a few. The United States of America was founded on biblical principles with the intent to guarantee freedom of worship. But over time, we have removed the Lord from many aspects of public life. Prayer in schools, for instance, was deemed unconstitutional. What was once a “nation under God” has turned into a country that tolerates a growing number of sins and yet belittles absolute truth. If a nation turns its back on the Lord, His judgment is inevitable unless the people repent and make Him Lord once again. As believers, our responsibility is to pray that God would draw the heart of our country back to Himself—and to help the gospel and truth spread through our land.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 Proverbs 22:6 tells us, "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it." What a great responsibility this places on parents. Records of royal lineage (1 Kings 15-16) illustrate that one's level of submission to God is often mirrored in the offspring's life. Now, it's true that children eventually grow and make their own decisions. There are godly parents who are heartbroken by their kids' poor choices. Similarly, some from backgrounds full of sinful bondage become righteous people of integrity. As mothers and fathers, we are given a momentous task: to model and teach how to live according to God's Word. Thankfully, we don't have to rely on ourselves for wisdom. Good parenting involves prayerful self-evaluation, godly counsel, and thoughtful course corrections. Start by considering how you'd answer the following questions if your children were to walk in your way: What place will Jesus, the Word of God, and the church have in their lives? Will they seek God's direction as the ultimate guide for decisions? Will they develop strong godly relationships? Will they know how to handle money wisely? Will they do their best in their vocation? As you seek answers, ask God to reveal truth, since self-examination can be difficult.
In prayerfully considering your impact as a parent, expect to see positives and negatives. The goal isn't self-condemnation, so keep in mind 1) there's no perfect parent and 2) it's never too late. Even if the kids are grown, you can ask forgiveness, share what you've learned, and model a godly life starting now.
John 6:22-27 Which interests you more—who Jesus is or what He can do for you? I’m afraid that too many of us are more concerned about what He can give us than we are about getting to know who He is. But this is nothing new—Jesus had this problem when He walked on earth. The crowds often sought Him out for what He could do for them. Even though their needs were quite often legitimate, Christ knew their motives. There is a fine line between selfishly trying to use the Lord to get what we want and humbly coming to Him with our needs and struggles. Some of the issues we bring to Him are so pressing and urgent in our minds that our desire for Him to take action in the way we want becomes greater than our willingness to submit to His will. At times, what we call “faith” is really a demanding spirit. We must remember that our needs will come to an end, but Jesus Christ will remain forever. If our prayers have dealt only with presenting our requests to the Lord, we’ve missed a great opportunity to get to know the One with whom we’ll spend eternity. Let’s invest time in pursuing intimacy with Christ. Then we can enjoy the benefits of that relationship forever. How much of your communion with God is devoted to your needs—even legitimate ones? Are you spending any time getting to know the Lord? Although God delights in our prayers and tells us to pray about everything, He also wants us to come to Him just because we enjoy being with Him.
Matthew 28:16-20 I think it’s fairly evident that the society we live in is very self-centered, and this same characteristic can be present in a church. Whenever a local body of believers develops an inward focus, its fruitfulness in ministry begins to decrease, and each member’s Christian walk is hindered. Many believers want their church to be cozy and comfortable. They come to listen to a nice sermon, fellowship with friends, and have their needs met. But Godnever intended for the gathering of His people to be like a country club; He calls us to join an army that will bring the gospel into enemy territory. An effective church—one that poses a real threat to the Enemy—is a body of discipled people who have been taught the truth of Scripture, trained for service, and helped to mature spiritually. But all this is accomplished for the purpose of going out into the world, not for becoming a self-contained sanctuary of Christian comfort. The urgency of the Lord’s command and the desperate condition of humanity should motivate us to leave the safety of our Christian fellowships and deliver the message of salvation through Jesus. To avoid this responsibility is to miss the Father’s plan for your life and the opportunity to help build His kingdom. None of us want to waste time or energy on trivial things and thereby miss the exciting fulfillment of God’s will. He has called us, not to a life of comfortable tradition, but to an adventure of obedience. Answer His call—you’ll help fill His kingdom with people from every tribe and nation.