I’ve had a few random personal insights and contemplations the last few mornings during my devotions and I thought I would bounce them off of you.
Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:5-6 NKJV
I was struck by the words “patience” and “comfort” and wondered why-in-the-world would the Apostle Paul choose to use those words when talking about unity? Then I thought about my own kids. When I’m urging them to get along with each other I’m often comforting one of them who has been wronged and encouraging that child to endure with patience without retaliation. Which is another interesting point. Most of the translations read, “Now may the God of endurance and encouragement…”
It appears to me that Paul had to referee his own share of sibling conflicts and he understood that most of the time, to bring peace and unity, one person may need to simply lay down their right to be right. But that means they often get hurt – over and over again. At that point, it is imperative to find your strength in God who will not only give you the supernatural patience that is necessary to get along with tough people but will also comfort you when they run over you.
I understand that the world says we should stand up for ourselves and not let other people run over us, but the Truth is, Jesus actually modeled laying down His life unto death. When we lay down our rights for the sake of unity we are truly a reflection of His glory. Thankfully, He knows just how to comfort us.
And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. Genesis 17:7 ESV
Having teenagers I was quick to glom onto a few observations I had regarding this verse. The first thing that struck me was the fact that the parents were responsible for acknowledging the covenant between their children and God. They circumcised the baby on the 8th day. They didn’t wait for the child to decide whether they wanted to have a covenant relationship with God – the parents made the decision for them. “You are my child and you will be set apart for G_d!”
Just as in the Old Testament times, it was the parent’s responsibility to circumcise their children, I believe it is our New Testament responsibility to cut away the flesh from our children’s hearts. Surely, they must make the decision to love and obey God on their own someday but we can certainly “mark” them from childhood by taking our God-given responsibility seriously.
How? Well, I know that personally, as I described in my autobiography in the chapter entitled, “Circumcision of a Shiksa” when the Lord dealt with me about circumcising my heart, He needed to cut away a bunch of fat I had put on by feeding the flesh rather than the Spirit. So, the question I have to ask myself as a parent is, “Am I feeding my children’s flesh or their Spirit?”
Just as we are, and should be, careful to feed our children healthy food, we must be equally, if not more, careful to feed their spirits healthy food. Every once in awhile we may need to put them on a diet and cut back a bit on some of the cartoons, music, television shows, unhealthy friendships, activities that interfere with church nights, etc.
And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. Deuteronomy 30:6 ESV
I was encouraged to read this verse and see that God says He will circumcise our hearts and the hearts of our offspring. I am always excited when God includes phrases like: your offspring, all your descendants, and your household, etc. I care so deeply that I can hardly enjoy the blessings of God without my family enjoying them, too. (You know how that feels.) I want to take my responsibility as a parent seriously but it sure is good to read that ultimately it is God who will circumcise our hearts so that we are set apart for Him from the inside-out.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 ESV
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16 ESV
The other night I was at a meeting with a bunch of other parents and I embellished the truth/exaggerated a bit/fudged some/ shaded somewhat/lied! It wasn’t an out-and-out, bold-face lie, but it wasn’t the whole-truth, nothing-but-the-truth either. Here’s the deal. I wanted to impress these other parents so I said that I had done something that I really had only talked about doing, but hadn’t done yet, but planned to do in the future. It just made it sound so much better to say I had already done it.
The next morning the Lord really convicted me. I confessed and repented and then ever-so-quietly asked Him if he wanted me to call the leader of the meeting and confess my lie. (I soooo didn’t want to do that.) Thankfully, the Lord told me that I didn’t have to. When I asked Him why, He led me to the two verses above with an interesting possible interpretation.
I felt like He showed me that because I’m not characterized by lying, that I could simply confess my sin to Him and he would forgive and cleanse me. Now, if I had a habit of lying then I would need to confess my sin to another person so they could join with me in prayer – like an accountability partner. I could instantly see how an occasional sin in a particular area definitely needs to be confessed immediately so that it gets brought to the Light where it can’t fester and give the devil a foothold. But a habit of sinning in a particular area needs more than that. It needs the power of two!
There is so much in this little verse. For one thing, when we are sinning then the Bible says that God does not hear our prayers, so having someone else to pray with you is a good idea. Also, when we are sinning, we often don’t have the faith to pray, so it is good to have the powerful prayer of a righteous friend. Another thing, it says that we will be healed, which infers sickness. Addictions and bondage, which result from ongoing, unconfessed sin often result in sickness of some kind.
For me, the criteria I will now use to determine whether I need to confess my sin to a friend, or simply to God is to honestly ask myself if this sin is becoming a habit that needs the help and strength of a righteous friend to pray with me, or if I just blew it and trust that God is faithful to forgive and cleanse.
I have certainly known the undeniable power that comes from confessing sinful habits that I couldn’t break on my own, but I sure am thankful this wasn’t one of them. The freedom is worth it, but it is still embarrassing.
Anyway, that’s my two-cents worth. I hope I haven’t bored you with my ramblings.