Many passages of scripture speak of God’s deep love for mankind. In what is perhaps the greatest verse, Jesus states, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). Also, we find Paul writing, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). And John adds, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 Jn. 4:10). All these passages point to the great love God has for His creation (mankind).
The act of love on God’s part in sacrificing His Son, is the basis of the gospel. It is His plan for man’s redemption from sin. “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:1-4).
It is by this gospel (and no other) message that calls us to salvation. “…because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:13-14). The gospel message holds the key to our salvation. Paul wrote, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Rom. 1:16 ).
God gave His Son as a sacrifice for the guilt of our sins. His act of love calls for a loving response from each of us. The most effective way one can demonstrate their love for God, is by obeying the gospel. This is done by dying to your life of sin as you are buried with Christ in baptism and raised up from that watery grave reborn, forgiven, saved in Christ (Rom. 6:3-5).
God has abundantly demonstrated His love for us through the gospel message. The question is, “How are you responding to His love?” Perhaps, at this point, it might be wise to read Paul’s description of the final day of judgment: “…when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess. 1:7-9).
History records for us the good and evil of past societies. When looking at this, I find our society no worse, and in many cases, not even close to than the ancient societies. However, I also notice something else that perhaps should be of great concern to us. Each of these societies has been brought low by the God of Heaven for their evil.
Some time ago, a movement started that had the aim of producing a gender-neutral society. Accordingly, many institutions have been put into existence that are designed to accomplish this end. One such is the neutralization of public restrooms.
I cannot say exactly when this started, but in 2015 it was reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, that the boys’ bathrooms and girls’ bathrooms were to become just bathrooms at the Miraloma Elementary School in San Francisco, California as they go gender-neutral. This decision follows a trend that is accelerating in our nation. There are many other reports I could site, but one is enough for us to think about the implications of such a move.
God on Gender
1) Male and Female. Considering this ridiculousness, a good question is, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE?” (Matt. 19:4-5). The origination book affirms, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27). Again, it is recorded, “He created them male and female…” (Gen. 5:2). If you’re not sure which you are, you might check your birth certificate.
2) Mankind and Womankind. Leviticus 18:22 teaches, “You shall not lie
with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” Today we are told
that if you are mankind you can change to womankind, and if you are womankind
you can identify as mankind. Craziness, isn’t it?
Men and women
3) Man and Woman. The creation account reveals, “The LORD God fashioned
into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man and brought her to the
man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man” (Gen. 2:22-23).
Paul wrote the Corinthians, “it is good for a man not to touch a woman. But
because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to
have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:1-2).
4) Husbands and Wives. The Ephesian letter instructs, “Ephesians 5:22-33 NAS95 22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife…But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands…Husbands, love your wives…and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband” (Eph. 5:22-33).
5) Father and Mother. Did you know that the terms “dad” and “mom” or
“father” and “mother” are now considered offensive to some in our society? The
Book of God says, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother
and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). Paul
wrote the Ephesians, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is
right. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER…” (Eph. 6:1-2).
Boys and girls
6) Sons and Daughters. The generations of Adam find “sons and
daughters” being born (Gen. 5:4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 26, 30). When you were
born, were you a son or a daughter?
7) Boys and Girls. Zechariah 8:5 says, “And the streets of the city
will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.” When a child is
born, the first words are often: “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” Right? Some
school systems no longer refer to students as “boys” and “girls”. Teachers are
told, “Don’t use phrases such as ‘boys and girls,’ ‘you guys,’ ‘ladies and gentlemen,’
and similarly gendered expressions to get kids’ attention.” Instead of “boys”
and “girls”, call them purple penguins! Divide them by whether they prefer
skateboards or bikes, or whether they like milk or juice. So, are we going to
have the milk room and the juice room, instead of the boys’ room and the girls’
He and she
8) He and She. ‘He” and “she” occurs in 160 Bible verses. Here’s a
sampling: “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was
a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she
took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he
ate” (Gen. 3:6). You ought to be able to tell a she from a he and a he from a
she! The law commanded, “A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man
put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to
the LORD your God” (Deut. 22:5). The Corinthians were asked, “Does not even
nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him,
but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her…” (1 Cor. 11:14-15).
Speaking of nature-teaching, did you observe what Noah took with him into the
ark? “…two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they
shall be male and female” (Gen. 6:19). Ever see a trans dog or cat?
Friend, we might ask, “What’s next?” It is time to recognize the sovereignty of God and accept what is obvious to all. There is a difference between male and female. So, let us accept God’s design and forget about bringing “strange fire” before Him (Lev 10:1; Num 26:61). The results of this “strange fire” are disastrous.
It is hard to remain strong when one is discouraged. And discouragement
is one of the nastiest tools the devil has at his disposal. If he can
discourage a Christian, he can keep him from doing the will of God.
Discouragement creates a type of spiritual paralysis within the heart
that keeps a Christian inactive before the Lord. It then becomes a
question of how do we keep ourselves strong in the Lord when the devil
is working so hard against us? Let’s look at some suggestions.
to the word of God
The word of God tells us He will always
be there for us (Hebrews 13:5-6) So, the best way to overcome any adversity in
life is to go to God’s word. Contained within is all the instructions we will
ever need to fight the good fight of faith and rise victoriously. In the
eighteenth chapter of the book of Luke we read, “Now He was telling them a
parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart”
then tells the parable about the “Persistent Widow”. The judge in the parable
did not fear God nor regard man. But, because of the widow’s persistence, he
finally gave in and gave her the justice that she craved. What we must understand
is that the judge is by no means a comparison to our heavenly Father, but
rather he serves as a direct contrast to Him.
When we read in the word of God
about our heavenly Father, we find that He is very much in tune with our needs.
Matthew 6:8 tells us that God knows our needs even before we ask. Matthew
7:7-11 reminds us that human fathers know how to give good gifts to their
children. The question is then raised, “If you then, being evil, know how to
give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in
heaven give what is good to those who ask Him” (Matthew 7:11).
Cast your anxiety (cares, worries) on God
Peter wrote, “casting all your
anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). When we are faced with
adversity, it is easy to forget the strength and comfort we find in the Lord.
Too often we wait until the world is in shambles before we remember the great
love God has for us. Too often, we forget to approach Him in prayer.
may contend that worry is simply part of life. They may even call the burdens
that weigh heavily upon their minds “legitimate concerns”. But whatever a
person may call them, they are not healthy for productive Christian living. Therefore,
we must always remember to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. If we
do so, all these other concerns will be taken care of (Matthew 6:25-34).
may sound strange, but thankfulness before God goes a long way in keeping us
strong in the faith. All can remember struggles of the past that they thought they
would never make it through. Yet, it happened. The struggles were overcome because
one’s faith was grounded in the Lord. The key was looking to Him in prayer and remaining
we look to the current obstacles in our path and face them with newfound
confidence knowing that our God is still with us. This was exactly what David
did before facing Goliath. He remembered God’s deliverance from the lion and
the bear. Then he looked at the Philistine and boldly stated that he would be defeated
like one of them.
The next time you are faced with adversity and
discouragement, remember the great power of prayer. When we bow our heads in
prayer, the line of communication between our hearts and our heavenly Father is
open. He hears us and will answer speedily (Luke 18:8).
How can we build better families? How can we strengthen the foundation of a society?
As politicians campaign for office, it seems as if every one of them is trying to help the American family. Some want to give tax breaks. Others believe the offer financial help is the best way to attract votes. Still others look to instill better values.
The one common thread that connects all these efforts is; the family needs help. Whether the politician is Democrat or Republican, the one thing they will agree on is the need to bolster the American family.
Politicians may not agree as to exactly where the family is hurting or how to do this, but they do agree that families are hurting. They know that many families are disintegrating. They know that our society (or any society) is only as strong as its families.
Yet, very few turn to the real source of family values. To rebuild or strengthen the family, it is absolutely necessary that people turn to the One who created the family in the first place. It was God who brought Adam and Eve together (Gen. 2:22-25) making them “one flesh”. It was God who commanded them to “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28). God established the family. God ordained that families would be the backbone of any and all societies. So, what is God’s plan for your family and mine?
Values Are Learned At Home
We hear a great deal today about the need for values. Many turn to schools or government institutions to try to teach children and adults about right and wrong. But these values are taught best and most powerfully in the home. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:1-4). Paul tells us that values are learned at home.
Parents are to admonish and nurture their children. They are to instill a sense of honor and respect for parents. Children are to be obedient to parents and are to learn to respect them. These are the very values that seem to be missing in society: honor, respect, obedience, nurturing. If families respond to God’s plan by living this way, our society would undergo a profound change from selfish violence, to selfless respect for others.
Old Testament Suggestions
These values are passed to children in subtle ways. “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deut. 6:4-7). As Moses restated the law, he explained the process that instills values. It begins with the realization that God is, that He is our God and that He commands our lives. These facts should not be wrapped up in sermons, but in a lifestyle that speaks of God, thinks about God, and talks about God.
Moses even gives ideas about how to do this. He suggests talking about God in informal settings such as walking, eating, getting out of bed or going to bed. Those parents who include God at meals by praying are accomplishing much in the way of instilling values. Those parents who pray with their children before bedtime are setting the example children need in order to learn good values.
Actions Outweigh Words
Finally, realize that these values are more modeled than taught. Children learn much more by example than by lectures or sermons. Taking your children to church is important. But if the home life is a poor example of faith, then all the lessons in the world, taught by all the best teachers, will fall on deaf ears. What takes place in your home will set in concrete the values your children adopt.
Throughout Paul’s discussion of marriage and child-rearing (Eph. 5:21-6:4), he constantly refers to an atmosphere in which family members and protected. So a husband will not be threatened by a wife who submits (Eph. 5:22). So a wife will not be afraid of a husband who dies to self for his wife (Eph. 5:25) or who treats his wife as his own body (Eph. 5:28-29). So parents will not be pressured by kids who honor them (Eph 6:1) and children will not be angered by parents who nurture (Eph. 6:4). A family is to be a group of people who make it safe to live, to work, to worship, to succeed and to fail, without threat or intimidation or fear.
Homes Should Be Physically Safe
A home should be a place where everyone is safe from abuse. Our society takes spanking and too often turns it into pain, fear or worse. Society deals with that by making laws and taking steps to protect children. What child should need protection from a parent? Every child should feel safe to come home, even when that child is in trouble and deserves punishment. I never enjoyed facing my folks when I was in trouble. But I was never physically afraid of either of them. They would discipline, they love and they would forgive.
A wife should have that same sense of safety. When Adam met his bride they “were both naked and were not ashamed” (Gen. 2:25). This first couple had no barriers between them. No matter how pretty or ugly she was, no matter how thin or obese, no matter how tall or short, she was accepted and loved by Adam. Eve returned this love to Adam, so that both could be completely transparent, physically and emotionally, and not be at risk. In too many homes today, spouses are afraid to be honest with each other. They are afraid of criticism, or of an explosion that would be even more pain than holding in the truth. Every marriage is to be built on a foundation of transparency in which both partners can be honest even when wrong, and not be afraid harmed emotionally or physically.
Homes Should Be Emotionally Safe
But homes also need to be a safe place to risk. Paul tells husbands that Jesus died for the church, “that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless (Eph. 5:27). Jesus died to encourage the church to become all that God wanted us to be, pure and holy. In the same way, husbands should die to self that their wives can shine in all their glory and become all God wants them to be. Wives should do the same for husbands. Parents must do this for their kids.
A family should be a safe place to risk being more, knowing more, trying more, learning more. Some families are so critical, so harsh, so discouraging that no one ever succeeds. A family built on God’s plan encourages its members to grow physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. I want my wife to be happy, to be satisfied and to accomplish all she can in life for herself, for us and for God. My children should have the opportunity to go farther, to do more, to know more, to love more than I have. I want my children to know God better and to serve Him better than I have. To do this they must risk new things, take chances that might not work just right. But a family is to be a place in which that sort of risk can be taken.
God’s Plan For The Family
Repeatedly in Ephesians 5:21-6:4 Paul gives the key to having a family based on God’s plan. “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (5:22). “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (5:25). “Children, obey your parents in the Lord” (Eph. 6:1). “Fathers…bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). The key to all family functioning is having God and Jesus at the center.
So wives submit, not because their particular prince charming deserves it, but because that is what Jesus wants. Husbands die to self, not because their particular bride is wonderful and perfect, but because Jesus wants it. And children obey parents, not because parents are always right or smarter, but because, in the Lord, that is what we are asked to do. Finally, parents are gentle and disciplining, not because their kids are perfect and deserve good parents, but because that is the will of God.
Christians are formed in the family
This means that the family is the ground for being Christians. Thus, it is at home that we learn about mercy, about grace, about righteousness, about faithfulness. Also, it is at home that we learn about turning the other cheek, going the second mile and giving up our rights. And we do all this because it is God’s will, not because the people in our homes deserve it. Too many families are built on the idea of “you go first.” In God’s plan it is always the believer who “goes first” by dying to self and submitting to the others.
In answer to the questions at the beginning of part one, we can change homes by being aggressive in ministering to families as they learn the skills of modeling, transparency, and denial. Churches and believers can teach and practice these skills so that the world comes to us, not because we have good ideas, but because God’s plan, put in action in our lives actually works!