“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name’” (Matthew 6:9, NASB95).
Meditate with me today about “our Father who is in heaven.” Unfortunately, many do not think of God at all. Others consider him to be a grandfatherly figure who nods approvingly toward whatever we do. Some do not believe in a personal God at all, but being pantheists believe “that reality is identical with divinity, or that all-things compose an all-encompassing, immanent god (Wikipedia). The words of Jesus are clear, concise, and consistent with the nature of God revealed in the inspired writings of the Bible. Jesus identified God as (1) Our Father. As our Creator, God is the Father of us all (Acts 17:28; 1 Cor. 8:6). He also created our spirits and is the “Father of spirits,” in whose image we are made (Heb. 12:9). Christians are children of God by faith and have an intimate fellowship with our Father (Gal. 4:5-7). (2) Personal. Our Father is not “like gold or silver or stone” shaped by artistic expression (Acts 17:29). He knows us and calls us through the gospel to come to Him (Acts 17:27; 2:21, 39). (3) In heaven. God is Spirit and not defined by or confined to material things (John 4:24). Physical constraints do not limit God (Acts 7:48-50; 2 Pet. 3:8). (4) Holy. Hallowed means “to sanctify” or set apart as holy in our minds and lives. We fail to revere His name when defining God by our will, ways, and expectations (Rom. 1:20-23). Jesus held His heavenly Father in the highest regard, and so must we (John 10:29; 14:28). (5) The One to whom we pray. We pray to God our Father, assured that He hears and answers us according to His will, which is always best for us (Matt. 7:11; 26:39-44; 1 John 5:14-15). Think on these things.
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).
6 And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:6–7, NKJV)
Young minds are impressionable, pliable, teachable. Moses charged parents with teaching their children God’s law, and this responsibility remains true under the gospel of Christ (Eph. 6:4). Make no mistake; forces of error want to impress and persuade your children that sin is not sin. Even now, preschool children and older are being taught in public schools, through media, by friends, and parents that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender behavior is loving, good, and natural. Children are taught people should take pride in LGBTQ+ conduct. They are taught that to say otherwise is an act of bullying, bigotry, and hate. The Bible speaks on the subject, not with “hate speech,” but with words of truth and reason (Acts 26:24-25). It says such behavior is “against nature,” shameful, against the will of God, and dishonors the body’s natural use (Rom. 1:24-29; 1 Cor. 6:9-11). Many have exchanged the truth of God for the lie and are teaching children the lie is the truth (Rom. 1:24-25; Isa. 5:20-21). Real love tells the truth about the danger of sin, not lies that lead souls to hell. The one who tells you God’s truth is not your enemy (Gal. 4:16). The world teaches children God’s truth is a lie. Keep training your children with God’s truth and take nothing for granted.
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).
27 And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” 28 But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27–28, NKJV)
There is no doubt that God blessed Mary as the mother of Jesus. And, there is no doubt that as a son, Jesus was a blessing to His mother. Jesus lived the wisdom of Solomon’s proverb, “The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who begets a wise child will delight in him. Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her who bore you rejoice” (Prov. 23:24-25). Like Jesus, children should choose to be a blessing to their mothers and fathers by treating them with righteous respect. Righteous children are a blessing from the Lord. Notably, Jesus explained an even greater blessing than Mary’s will come to every person who hears and keeps the word of God (v. 28). Jesus shifted the focus of the woman’s proclamation from the physical to the spiritual. Only one person was blessed by God to be the mother of Jesus, yet through her service, God blesses the whole world (Lk. 4:46-55). The child Mary bore is the Son of God who blesses with salvation everyone who hears and keeps the word of God (Lk. 1:35; Jno. 8:31-32). The blessing of salvation restores our soul and refreshes us daily with the spiritual blessings of Christ (Acts 3:19; Eph. 1:3). Every lost soul who hears and obeys the word of Christ will be saved (Mk. 16:15-16).
9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 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 good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:9–11, NKJV)
Celebrating Father’s Day each year reminds us of the value of fathers, something the Bible repeatedly teaches. Far more than mere progenitors, fathers shape future generations and thus, nations and the world (not to mention churches). Their value cannot be overstated. We thank God for the gift of godly fathers and ask Him to continue to bless us with faithful fathers. We need and honor faithful fathers who listen to God’s word to guide their families. We need and honor faithful fathers who learn and live in the truth of God’s word. We need and honor faithful fathers who lead their families with diligence and duty, sacrifice and strength that comes from God. We need and honor faithful fathers who love the Lord first and, in that love, train their children to serve God and others (Heb. 12:5-7). Our heavenly Father is the perfect Father. May fathers listen and learn from His word to lead and love as He does us, His children.
6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. (Romans 9:6–8, NKJV)
God showed His faithfulness by fulfilling His promise to Abraham that “in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 22:18). The gospel of Christ reveals this promised blessing as salvation from sins “for everyone who believes, for the Jew first, and also for the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). The gospel also makes it clear the “children of the promise” are now the children of God. The promised blessing is obtained in Jesus Christ, not as a Jew under the Law of Moses (Gal. 3:16-19). Whether Jew or Gentile, “we are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,” not through the Law of Moses (Gal. 3:23-27). The nation of Israel is no longer God’s chosen people. God chose us “in Christ” for redemption, regardless of race (Eph. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13). In Christ, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). Being a citizen of the nation of Israel does not make one a child of God. The church is now the “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:15-16).
“But wisdom is justified by all her children.” (Luke 7:35, NKJV)
The scribes and Pharisees rejected John the Baptist and Jesus, accusing John of having a demon and Jesus of being a glutton, a winebibber, and a friend of sinners. They rejected John’s baptism, and they crucified Jesus (Lk. 7:28-34). They had their reasons, and they felt justified in them (cf. Lk. 22:66-23:2). But, the people, “even the tax collectors, justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John” (Lk. 7:29). They had their reasons, too, and they felt justified in them. You see, wisdom has children. And, her children will always justify (validate, defend as right) their mother (the wisdom they follow). The wisdom of the world produces children who are darkened in understanding, blinded in heart, and alienated from God in unbelief (Eph. 4:17-18; Rom. 1:20-23). But, they have their reasons for rejecting Jesus and His gospel truth – and they feel justified by them. The gospel of Christ (the wisdom of God) bears children who are faithful, humble, obedient disciples (1 Cor. 1:18-25; 4:14-15; Jas. 3:13, 17-18). In this sense, the call of the gospel is a call to decide which wisdom we will follow. Whichever wisdom you choose, you will have your reasons for following it – right or wrong. Only the power and wisdom from God will save us and secure us in Christ (1 Cor. 1:23-24; 3:18-20). So, choose God’s wisdom. Because truly, “wisdom is justified by all her children.”
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)
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1–3, NKJV)
Dr. Leonard Sax, practicing physician and author of “The Collapse of Parenting,” wrote in the Wall Street Journal (Dec. 17, 2015), “Kids are not born knowing how to be respectful. They have to be taught.” He tells of his patient Kyle, who “was absorbed in a videogame on his cellphone, so I asked his mom, ‘How long has Kyle had a stomach ache?’ Mom said, ‘I’m thinking it’s been about two days.’ Then Kyle replied, ‘Shut up, mom. You don’t know what you’re talking about.’ And he gave a snorty laugh, without looking up from his videogame. Kyle is 10 years old.” One source of such disrespect comes from devaluing parents. According to Dr. Sax, “America’s children are immersed in a culture of disrespect: for parents, teachers, and one another. They learn it from television, even on the Disney Channel, where parents are portrayed as clueless, out-of-touch or absent. They learn it from celebrities or the Internet. They learn it from social media. They teach it to one another. They wear T-shirts emblazoned with slogans like ‘I’m not shy. I just don’t like you.’” Parents, train your children to respect you by being respectful to one another, and to others. Train them to honor you by placing value on God, on faith, and on every human being. Children can only be respectful by learning it. So, be respectable – especially when the culture does not value it – or you.