5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” (Hebrews 12:5–6, NKJV)
Jesus faced “hostilities from sinners,” and so do Christians (Heb. 12:3). Instead of becoming “weary and discouraged” when this happens, we should remember God’s exhortation to us, His children. God uses times of trial to discipline us (educate through instruction and correction), train our faith, and bring us to spiritual maturity (Heb. 12:11; Jas. 1:2-4). If you find yourself asking why you are facing trials, God’s explanations in Hebrews 12:5-11 will help sustain you. 1) God loves you (Heb. 12:5-6). Just as discipline shows love for a child, even so, trials are undergirded by God’s love for us (Prov. 13:24). Do not despise the discipline trials afford. 2) Develop endurance (Heb. 12:7-8). The presence of God’s parental love teaches us to endure the temporary pain of trials (2 Cor. 4:16-17). By accepting God’s discipline, our faith grows because we are “looking unto Jesus” for strength (Heb. 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 12:9). 3) Our faith needs this training (Heb. 12:9-10). Children need instruction and correction, and so do Christians (Eph. 6:4). We submit ourselves to the training trials bring so we may partake of God’s holiness. 4) The intended result (Heb. 12:11). Trials hurt and are not joyful. Still, the pain generates peaceable fruit in the lives of faithful saints. Trials help train our faith to rely on the Lord. Let’s do that when hardships arise. God loves us, and He will use our trials to strengthen our faith, not discourage our souls. Keep running the race set before you (Heb. 12:1-2).
18 We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. 19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. (1 John 5:18–21, NKJV)
God assures Christians of knowing we have eternal life in the Son of God (1 Jno. 5:11-13). We are confident of this wonderful blessing in Christ because we are born of God through His word (Jno. 1:12-13; 3:3, 5; 1 Pet. 1:23). John tells us some things we know as God’s children, which testify to God’s grace and our faith as His children. 1) We know whoever is born of God does not practice sin, but guards himself against the evil one (5:18). We do not say we “have no sin,” but that we practice righteousness (1 Jno. 1:8; 2:29; 3:6-10). 2) We know we are different from the world (5:19). We do not love the world and its lusts, but God and His will (1 Jno. 2:15-17). 3) We know the Son of God has given us an understanding (5:20). Jesus Christ is the Truth, and His word lights our path (Jno. 14:6; 1 Jno. 1:6-7). We have fellowship with the Father and the Son when we walk in (obey) apostolic truth (1 Jno. 1:2-3; 2:3-6; 3:24). Let us guard ourselves against false gods and their false concepts of salvation by faithfully following Jesus Christ (1 Jno. 5:21).
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14, NKJV)
Protecting the innocent lives of children has not always been the norm in this cruel world. About the time Jesus lived, an Egyptian named Hilarion wrote a letter from Alexandria to his wife, Alis. He wrote of his trip and of his possible delay returning home. He promised to send money as soon as he was paid. Then he wrote, “If you happen to be pregnant again, if it is a boy, leave it; if it is a girl, throw it out” (sententiaeantiquae.com). We recoil in horror at the thought of killing a newborn child, yet, there are modern parallels. When China imposed its “one child” policy from 1979 to 2015 (now, the Chinese government allows two children), untold numbers of babies were aborted (often, forcibly). Firstborn girls were often abandoned as liabilities – People wanted sons. Legalized abortion in America and around the world killed over 41 million children in 2018 (worldmeters.info). Shocking! Then there are the crimes of child pornography and child trafficking that bring untold misery and suffering upon children and on all those affected by these terrible sins. Jesus valued and protected children. Parents must value and protect their children. Governments must value and protect children. The gospel of Christ has greatly improved the lives of children through the ages. There is still much to do for the children. Each one of us can do our part to bring the children to Jesus. The question is, are we? (Jas. 1:27)
13 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. (Psalm 139:13–16, NKJV)
Americans continue to debate the legality of abortion. We ought to be discussing its morality. God establishes what is moral, not men and women. It is immoral to take innocent life (Gen. 9:6). One cannot read today’s passage without being impressed by the truth that the unborn child is known by God. Truly, new life in the womb is a marvelous work of God. David was in his mother’s womb (“me”) – not his mother’s body in his mother’s body. Unseen at conception, new human life is seen by God. God gave this new life a safe place to grow and develop before birth. The womb is the mother’s (“my mother’s womb,” v. 13), but the life in it was David’s (“my substance,” v. 16). This week a woman openly discussed her abortion and encouraged women to share their abortion stories online using #YouKnowMe. The New York Times quoted her saying, “We need to be as loud as they are, but with the truth. That’s the only thing we have.” The truth is, God knows you. He knew you in your mother’s womb. And, He knows your unborn child, too. We must honor all human life, including the unborn. God does.
A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. (Proverbs 13:1, NKJV)
Father’s Day is a good time for fathers to remember their God-given work as teachers, guides, and disciplinarians (Ephesians 6:4). Far too many fathers have abandoned their responsibilities as fathers. According to the US Census Bureau (as reported by fatherhoodfactor.com), “23.6% of US children (17.4 million) lived in father absent homes in 2014.” Many factors produce this number, but there is little doubt that a leading reason for fatherless homes is fathers who reject their role in the home. Let us urge and help fathers to fulfill their work that is so vital for successful families. Father’s Day is also a good time for children to honor their fathers by remembering to accept and follow their scriptural, godly, and wise counsel. Fathers want their children to avoid the mistakes they made. Fathers want their children to live with understanding. Godly fathers want their children to be successful in life, and more importantly, in eternity. So, they teach, train and discipline their children. The child who scoffs at his father’s wise and timely teaching shows his own foolishness. Your father’s instruction is for your benefit and progress. Give honor to your father by heeding his instruction.
Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. (Luke 2:51, NKJV)
Jesus was an obedient child. He intentionally subjected himself to the nurturing of his parents, just as God still expects children to do (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1-3). While some may think 12-year-old Jesus did not obey his parents when he lingered behind in Jerusalem following the Passover, we do not agree with that conclusion at all. As Jesus passed from childhood (“child,” Luke 2:40) to adolescence (“boy,” Luke 2:43) his spiritual life also matured (Luke 2:52). This is revealed in how he answered his parents. Joseph and Mary should have known where to look for Jesus, he said, because they should have known he “must be about my Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). His obedience to his parents is the model for children today. Growing up does not mean you do not have to obey your parents, it means obeying them in a responsible way. Like every mother, as Jesus grew to adulthood, Mary treasured in her heart all the things he said and did. As you transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, leave your parents good memories of respectful obedience to keep in their hearts, not rebellious opposition. Jesus shows you how.
“The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” (Proverbs 29:15, NKJV)
While God has always exalted motherhood, it is not held in the high esteem it once was. It has taken a severe hit due to the rise of feminism, and its unisex agenda. However, the facts continue to bear out what common sense tells us: The interaction of a mother with her child is crucial to the child’s development. Wall Street Journal journalist James Taranto recently reported on the findings of New York psychoanalyst Erica Komisar: “Mothers are biologically necessary for babies,” and not only for the obvious reasons of pregnancy and birth. “Babies are much more neurologically fragile than we’ve ever understood,” says Komisar, in her book, “Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters” (“The Politicization of Motherhood,” James Taranto, The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 27, 2017). Citing neuroscientist Nim Tottenham, of Columbia University, Komisar notes “that babies are born without a central nervous system,” and that “mothers are the central nervous system to babies,” especially for the first nine months after birth” (Ibid). Mothers help their children learn to interact with their world. You have a work that only you are equipped to accomplish. Young mother, do not be discouraged when the world disparages you for doing your work. You are doing God’s work, and you and your child are blessed for it.
15 Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (Luke 18:15–17, NKJV)
In Luke’s narrative, Jesus had just told the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, exposing the sin of judgmental self-righteousness, while honoring the humble heart that pleases God (Lk. 18:9-14). A real-life illustration now follows, demonstrating the humility required to receive and enter the kingdom of God. His disciples were rebuking people who brought their small children, including infants, to Jesus to be blessed. Jesus was “greatly displeased” with the disciples’ conduct (Mark 10:13-14). The kingdom of God is composed of those with the innocent humility of children (Matthew 18:1-4; 19:13-14). Not only does this passage destroy the false doctrine of inheriting original sin, it also establishes the heart condition one must have to be saved. The Lord will not bless the arrogant, self-righteous person with redemption. Be careful with what heart you try to follow Jesus. It is the one with the heart of a child who receives the kingdom, and hence, the Lord’s eternal blessing.
16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, And your princes feast in the morning! 17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles, and your princes feast at the proper time— For strength and not for drunkenness! (Ecclesiastes 10:16–17, NKJV)
When a country has an inexperienced, self-indulgent leader, its people suffer. Foolishly ranting and raving, instead of wisely serving the best interests in the nation, such a leader brings ruin to his realm. Conversely, the leader who learns from the experience and counsel of others in positions of rule, are more likely to manifest propriety and decision-making that brings a blessing to his people. We live in dangerous times. Rumors of war are heard around the globe. Let us pray for leaders here and abroad who wisely defend justice while refusing the oppressive, destructive dictates of self-indulgent hearts. “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:11–13, NKJV)
Jesus came to the Jewish people, and they rejected Him as the Messiah. But, their refusal to receive Him did not prevent God from declaring Jesus to be Lord and Christ (Psa. 2:1-7; Acts 2:33-37). Now, everyone who receives Him has been given the right to become a child of God. It is precisely those who “believe in His name” that have the right to be born of God to become His child. Some have this verse 12 all wrong. They think it says, “receive + believe = become.” They use this verse to say you should pray for salvation, but nothing is said of prayer here. The verse actually says, “received Him (believed) = right to become” children of God. If you receive Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God (that is, you believe it), then you have the right to become a child of God. That truth is embedded perfectly into the call of the gospel at the Great Commission: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:15-16). You have the right to become a child of God when you receive (believe) He is the Christ, the Son of God. But, without faith you cannot be saved (Jno. 8:23-24).