Category Archives: Bible Studies

Bible Studies for women

13. Campaign of prayer: Media advocates

Satan has launched an aggressive media campaign against our children. We are media advocates agreeing in prayer: powerful and effective, right with God.

“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16).

Satan’s Campaign

Satan has launched an aggressive campaign against our children. He attacks them relentlessly through our media system, our political system, our school system, and sometimes even our family system. Our kids are bombarded with his lies and propaganda almost constantly.

We cannot imagine the temptation and pressure to yield that our children endure daily. How will they escape Satan’s snare? Christian workers in the media, political arena, schools and families face almost insurmountable odds.

Our Campaign

But God is still able. He has called us to prayer. His way is not the flashy, clamoring method of the world. It is the “powerful and effective” prayer of one right with God.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

“I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven” (James 5:16, Matthew 18:19-20).

As we come into the presence of our God and present our children to him in prayer, God hears, and he promises to respond. The Bible teaches that our prayers have the power to bind Satan’s attack against our children.

God instructs us to pray one for another, and to agree in prayer. God makes special promises to respond to the united power we manifest as we blend our hearts in prayer.

Many mothers have led heroic campaigns for their handicapped children, their missing children, or in honor of their deceased children. But to combat Satan’s campaign against our children, our campaign must be a campaign of prayer.

If our children are wayward, this is especially important, because if they are not “meshing” with other Christians, they can easily be forgotten by the Christian community. We are prone to remember and pray for those people whose need is brought to our attention.

As mothers, we must be a “prayer advocate” for our children. We must keep the passion burning in the hearts of other Christians for the needs of our children, especially our wayward children. We cannot allow them to be forgotten.

Challenged Campaign

We’ve seen that whenever a parent came to Jesus in the Bible, sincerely seeking help for their child, God met the child’s need. However, those parents had to place their faith in God, and to be in right relationship with him. The Bible says:

If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his ommands and do what pleases him.

–Psalm 66:18, James 4:3, 1 John 3:21-22.

What does it mean to “had cherished sin in my heart?” It is to know there are certain areas in my life where I am not going in the way God would have me go, and to be unwilling to allow God to help me change these areas.

Satan challenges our commitment. God’s promises are only for those who give him control. When we defend certain territory in our lives, we find that those areas we defend do not provide the fulfillment we seek. When we are willing to trust God with control in every area, even those areas we cherish, we will find what we really want.

We cannot even know what we want on our own. God cannot work things out for best for us as long as we take control and work them out our way.

A good illustration of this is the prayer of this mother for her sons:

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.

“What is it you want?” he asked.

She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”

“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

“We can,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave– just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

–Matthew 20:20-28

This mother and her sons came worshiping Jesus. So what was wrong? She was not in right relationship with God. She sought her will for her sons, not God’s will, and this is sin.

She was not acting in faith either. She was attempting to deceive Christ into making a commitment off guard so that when he announced his kingdom it would be too late to renege. She did not understand that the kingdom is heavenly and that it is ruled by love.

We must be in right relationship to God if we would get our prayers answered. If we are not walking in the way God would have us go, our prayers are simply words. Our first prayer must be for God to cleanse us.

We must come as Hannah did when she said, in essence, “I accept whatever God brings forth with my child” (See Session 4). God’s goal for our children is that they live for him. He has instilled that same goal in us as Christian parents. As our prayers blend with God’s will for our children, we can know God will do what is right for them.

This leads us to the second requirement for answered prayer. We must come in faith. Satan will challenge us here too. We must stand firm. We must believe that God will do what he says.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.

–Mark 11:24, 1 John 5:14-15.

Victorious Campaign

We can “know that we have what we asked of him.” God may not do what he has promised in the way we think he should. He may not do it at the time we think he should. But these things are sure: God will do it as we wait on him. He will do it in a manner which far exceeds our plans or imaginations. He will do it at the most appropriate time. And when he does it, we will marvel at the perfect wisdom of his way and his time.

Application

God is always faithful to answer. But we are not always faithful to pray. God, forgive us.

We renew our commitment to fight for our children in prayer. Strengthen us for the battle. We will not let our children go. We will bind the power of Satan through prayer as long as there is breath in us. We will fight for our children, and we will win. For our God is able!

Thought to Remember

Satan is playing tug-of-war with our children, but with him it is not a game. It is a demonic attack. Our part is to pray. God’s part is to answer. Satan attacks this plan, not on God’s side but on ours. He knows the only way to thwart God’s answer is to halt our prayers.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What important campaign should we lead for our wayward children?
  2. Why involve others in prayer for our children?
  3. What are the two conditions we must meet for our prayers to be effective?
  4. Can something so easy really work?
  5. Can something so difficult be worth the effort?

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

12. Unleashing God’s power: Catalyst of prayer

The religious ruler, common man, nobleman–all unleashed God’s power through prayer. Parenthood is an overwhelming project. We must communicate with the author of the plan.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe” (Mark 5:36, Luke 8:50).

The Daughter of the Religious Ruler

Jarius was a ruler of the synagogue. But religion wasn’t enough to bring his daughter back from death. However, Jarius went to the one who could make his daughter whole again. Jesus told him “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Read Jarius’ story here:

Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him.

While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?”

Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.

–Mark 5:22-24,35-36,41-42

The Son of the Ordinary Man

This man in this story was a common guy who blended in with the crowd, but his son had a problem. This parent took it to Jesus. He may have been just one of a huge multitude to everyone else, but he and his son were important to Jesus. Jesus told him, “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Here’s his story:

A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.

“It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“`If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

–Mark 9:17-18,22-29

The Child of the Nobleman

The nobleman’s power and affluence could not save his son from death. But the nobleman went to the right place. Jesus told him, “You may go. Your son will live.” Read it here:

Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

“Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

Jesus replied, “You may go. Your son will live.”

The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour.”

Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and all his household believed.

–John 4:46-53

Application

The religious ruler, the ordinary man, and the nobleman–all went to the one who could meet their children’s needs. We must go to the one who can meet our children’s needs as well. Parenthood is an overwhelming project. The only way we can accomplish the task successfully is to communicate with the one who wrote the plan!

We cannot know what kind of parents we need to be aside from prayer. We cannot know the God who can help us apart from prayer. We cannot experience the fulfillment of the promises of God unless we claim them through prayer. We cannot make it without prayer.

The most important thing we can do for our children is to pray for them. Prayer must be the first step and the last step. Prayer must be the backdrop of all the in-between steps. Only through prayer can we be equipped to be the mothers our children need. Prayer is the catalyst that unleashes God’s intervention and power in our children’s lives.

Let us go to him now in prayer for our children. He has the right answer for us!

Thought to Remember

Our children are living in a world that seeks to destroy them in its clutches of wickedness. Jesus never turned away a parent who came to him in sincerity. He always had an answer for them, and he has an answer for you.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What is the most important thing we can do for our children?
  2. What is the first step?
  3. What is the last step?
  4. What should we do in-between these steps?

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

11. Anticipate the harvest: Sowing, claiming, reaping

We sow God’s precepts in our children’s lives, and dare to claim God’s promise. He guarantees a harvest, and we hold him to his Word. We will not leave God’s throne until we reap!

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 14:6).

Crying

The Bible tells the story of a mother who was completely helpless to do anything for her child’s emergent need. Here’s her story:

A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”

Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”

“Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

–Matthew 15:22-28

Praying

This woman’s daughter was demon-possessed. The mother was helpless against the demons. Circumstances were also against her, for she was a gentile, not of the chosen race.

But she had the faith to believe if she would ask Jesus he would heal her daughter Spiritually. She had the persistence to refuse to leave until she had the answer for which she came to him.

God loves for us to hold him to his Word in prayer. The Bible says: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 14:6). We cling to his Word. We have no greater weapon than prayer. We will not leave until God gives us victory in our children’s lives!

Sowing

The Bible says:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

–Isaiah 55:10-11; Galatians 6:7-9

Our part is to sow the right seeds in our children’s lives. God’s part is to provide the harvest. Just as the rain and snow water the earth to produce a bountiful harvest, so will his Word accomplish all that he sends it to do. If we are sowing God’s Word in our children’s lives at every opportunity, we have his guarantee that the harvest will come!

Reaping

When others sow seeds of evil in our children’s lives, how does that affect God’s promise? That does not in any way change God’s promise to us.

There are no conditions to this promise. The floods of evil influence may wash the small seeds away. The weeds of peer pressure may choke the young seedlings that remain. The locusts of lust may eat the few plants that do survive.

Yet if we are faithful to sow, we will have a harvest. God guarantees we will reap what we sow. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). God will perform a miracle and create a harvest, if necessary, in order to keep his word to us!

Application

Mothers, let us never tire of going to whatever extreme we must to sow God’s precepts into our children’s lives. And let us dare to hold God to His Word. For the harvest is guaranteed!

We never have our children raised. However, there comes a time when our children must make their own decisions. We can offer Godly support and advice when appropriate, but sometimes we can only trust them to God.

What a comfort to know that God will never cease to perform in their lives that we allow him to start through us. What a promise, that God will continue to work in their lives even after we have gone home to be with the Lord. What a joy to anticipate that which God will do in them, above all we ask or think.

What a God! What a promise! What a victory!

Mothers, let us persist in the strength of our magnificent God. We have his Word!

Thought to Remember

What a comfort to know that God will never cease to perform in their lives that we allow him to start through us.

Question for Discussion

  1. What if we find ourselves in a situation where there is nothing we can do on our child’s behalf?
  2. When others sow seeds of evil in our children’s lives, how does that affect God’s promise?

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

10. Offspring, in-laws, torches: Heritage of faith

Pass the torch of a spiritual heritage of faith. Intercede in prayer for future in-laws and offspring. Give adult married children the right to make mistakes, learn and grow together.

A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife (Genesis 2:24).

Interdependent Relationships

When a baby is inside its mother’s womb, that child is one flesh with its mother. At birth, the baby sucks into its lungs the first breath of air. The child experiences the first taste of independence. From that time on, the child is being prepared for that day when he or she will make decisions independently as an adult. At marriage, a person enters into an interdependent relationship, and becomes one flesh with another person again. This unit is established by God. It is sacred.

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

From then on, when we deal with our child, we are dealing with part of a unit. Our child’s relationship with his or her marriage partner is more important than their relationship with us.

Indisputable Choices

In many situations, it may be best not to give advice unless our adult children seek it from us. When we see our adult children going astray we may wish to warn them, but certainly we should never nag. Most will not resent our occasional gentle advice given in a spirit of love, if we then back off. Our children must have room to learn from their own mistakes. We cannot smother them. Remember, we may not know all the facts. Our children receive input and advice from many sources, and ours is only one of those sources.

When our child (or our child’s marriage partner) comes to us for advice on how to handle problems with each other, we should not respond by putting down the other partner. Instead, our response should be, “How would Jesus handle this? What does God want you to do in this circumstance?” This is the most important consideration in any marriage. They cannot change their marriage partner. They can only change themselves. As we help our children search for God’s will for themselves in their marriage relationship, we are guiding them toward maturity.

Our married children have the right to make plans and decisions together with each other, apart from us or against our advice. They have the right to make mistakes. They have the right to be immature, and to learn and grow together.

Intercessory Prayer

Just as God planned and made each of us inside our mother’s womb (Psalm 139, below), he plans and makes the person who will be our child’s mate. When two individuals are joined in marriage, two unique personalities are merged into one unit.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

–Psalm 139:13-16

While we are raising our children, God is also preparing the child who will someday be knit together with our child in the union of marriage. What a privilege to pray for that child as we raise and pray for our own child and wait on God to bring his plan to pass! We don’t know who that child is, but our heavenly father knows. A mother carries a child inside her body for nine months, and she feels a special bond when that child finally arrives into the world. When a mother prays for her child’s mate during the growing up years of her child, she also feels a special bond when she finally meets this person for whom she has been praying. What a terrific way to start an in-law relationship!

Indestructible Love (Naomi)

Naomi had a right relationship with her daughters-in-law. That story starts like this:

Now Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.

When she heard in Moab that the LORD had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, Naomi and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the LORD show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and to me.”

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”

–Ruth 1:3-6,16-17

Naomi must have had many long talks with her daughters-in-law about life, and no doubt she revealed to them by word and action the God she served. The story of Ruth and Naomi is the classic example of the love that can exist between a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law. This love was made possible because Naomi led Ruth to know and love her God.

So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”

Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. The women living there said, “Naomi has a son.” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

–Ruth 4:13-17

Indelible Descendancy

The baby born to Naomi’s daughter-in-law Ruth was the grandfather of King David, the royal line through which Jesus was born. It all started with Naomi and her obedience to God.

Application

Down through the ages the story of God’s love must continue to be told. We are instructed to tell this story to our offspring as long as the earth shall stand.

“A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.”

“The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

“Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.”

–Proverbs 13:2; Acts 2:39; Joel 1:3

Begin preparing a spiritual inheritance for your children today. Teach them their awesome responsibility to carry the torch to their offspring. What a shame it would be to leave our descendants an inheritance of this world’s wealth and fail to leave them the most important treasure of all. What a privilege to pray for those who come after us: that God would grant that none would be born unto us that will not choose to serve our God; and that each one who comes after us would light the torch for the next generation!

Ask God to lead you and determine to be obedient to his direction in rearing your children.

Thoughts to Remember

We have the privilege and responsibility to pray for our child’s future mate. Our children deserve the right to make and learn from their own mistakes. We have yet to see what God will do through our children, our sons and daughters-in-law, and our grandchildren, and great-grandchildren on down, if we will be obedient to God.

Question for Discussion

  • How should I prepare for (or deal with) daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, and grandchildren?

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

09. Excitement is brewing: Teach what you are learning

A mother’s personal Bible study is the best school for devotions with children. Teach what you are learning and unleash the power of God through the catalyst of prayer.

O our God… We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you (2 Chronicles 20:12).

Teaching With Excitement

We cannot get our children excited about God if we are not excited about him ourselves. The best school for teacing our children is to first have private devotions ourselves alone with God.

If we sincerely seek what God has for us in his Word, he will show us. The greatest thing we can teach our children is that which we are learning ourselves from God’s Word.

There are several advantages to teaching what we are learning:

  • We have the Scripture references handy for the truths we’ve just discovered.
  • We are able to present new truths more completely before time has had a chance to steal pieces of the concepts.
  • We are able to start with the basics and build upon the concept as we learn more.

Most importantly, if we teach what we are learning ourselves our excitement about the things God is showing us will be contagious. It will bubble over into our children’s lives as well. Our children will become excited about God when we share our excitement about him.

Teaching by Explanation

There are several ways to teach what we are learning. For example, did the illustration of Hannah’s faith that God would use her son in spite of corrupt role models inspire you? Were you excited to realize how God honored Hannah’s faith by using Samuel to write Scriptures that still speak to us today?

We can share the drama of this story with our children. “Hannah loved her son, and she knew God loved him, too. She knew she could trust God to help her son do what was right, even if all the people around him did wrong.

Hannah believed God, and God didn’t let her down. He used her son to give us part of the Bible that we read today!” If this simple story is told with a sense of drama and excitement, even a very small child can catch a glimpse of God’s faithfulness.

When our devotional time includes children of different ages, we should aim them toward the level of the younger child. The older children will admire the simplicity of these beautiful truths from the Bible. And we can share more depth one on one with an older child later.

Teaching by Exploration

Another way to share what we are learning is to ask questions. This stimulates our children’s interest.

“Is there anyone that loves you more than Mom?” (God does. He loves you even more than Mom does!)

“Why was Hannah not afraid to let her son go where God wanted him?” (She knew that if Samuel followed God, God would always take care of him).

“Samuel was just a little boy. Why do you think he worshipped God?” (There are several possible answers. Questions like this inspire us along with our children to think and learn great truths).

Teaching by Evocation

Every concept God teaches us has not only the truths we have learned, but a “sidebar” concept for our children. For example, the story of Hannah can be presented to our children not only from a perspective of God’s honoring Hannah’s faith, but from the perspective of a boy who knew God would take care of him, and who grew up to help write the Bible.

Our children will be able to relate quickly to Samuel, the child. And as we dig more truth out to share in the sidebar, God will use these simple childlike concepts to speak to us, too.

We can’t always do formal devotions with our children. But we can still teach them what we are learning in little “asides.”

Teaching by Edification

It is especially difficult to have a devotional time with teenagers. But we can sneak a piece of the treasure into their lives as we walk through the mall parking lot together:

“There sure are lots of young people out today. I can’t imagine the stress and temptations all of you face. It reminds me of the Bible story of Samuel, and how he grew up with Eli’s wicked sons.

“It must have been hard for Samuel. But Samuel’s mother prayed for him, and God gave him the strength to get through it. God helped Samuel grow into a man he could use to write part of the Bible.

“I want you to know I’m praying for you just like Samuel’s mother did, because I know it must be awfully tough. But Samuel’s mother knew God would help her son do what was right, and I know God will help you do what is right also.”

Teaching by Example

Another way we can bring excitement into our devotional time is to share our needs and concerns with our children. As parents we tend to shield our children from anxiety by hiding our problems from them.

For example, in times of financial crises, we are often reluctant to let our children know that there might not be enough money to meet our needs. Or when a parent has a serious illness, she may not share this with her children because she does not want to scare them.

But for some of us it goes even further than this. Some of us consider our difficulties very private, even to the exclusion of our closest family members. To bare these areas would make us vulnerable to scrutiny.

On our “up” days, we could be big and brave. But on our “down” days, some of our real fears might come out. No longer could we be the person who handles all things well. We fear that if we share a little, people may pry more and open up areas that intimidate us.

In addition, we fear that we cannot get away from our problems if others continue to question us about them.

Yet our God lives within the deepest part of our vulnerability and our need. That is where he does his greatest work in our lives. If we do not allow our children into these areas so they can see God work in our lives, we can only tell them about him.

Only as we share some of our deepest needs with them can they see God calm our fears. Only as we share our human frailties with them can they experience with us the God who is sufficient for those needs.

King Jehoshaphat’s Example

Consider the story of the great King Jehoshaphat:

After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to make war on Jehoshaphat.

Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.

Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard and said:

“O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.

O our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, `If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’

“But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance.

O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”

All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD.

Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly.

He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: `Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.'”

Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD. Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with very loud voice.

Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.”

After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever.”

As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The men of Ammon and Moab rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value — more than they could take away.

There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, where they praised the LORD. This is why it is called the Valley of Beracah to this day.

Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the LORD had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the LORD with harps and lutes and trumpets.

–2 Chronicles 20:1-28

King Jehoshaphat was afraid. Several nations had joined forces and his nation was being attacked. He could have hid his fear and displayed the front of a brave commander.

But Jehoshaphat did a far greater thing. He called together the nation and let them know about his fear. This great king demonstrated his helplessness in himself and his faith in his God in the presence of his people. He cried out to God: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”

According to the passage above, “All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD.” Jehoshaphat included the children in this time of prayer so they could see for themselves the mighty work that God would do for them.

Even the children must have been overwhelmed with the seriousness of their plight. And even the youngest must have been touched by the splendor of Jehoshaphat’s faith.

Imagine how the children must have rejoiced when the battle was over, and the men came back to Jerusalem in victory to share how God fought the battle for them. “They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the LORD with harps and lutes and trumpets…”

There are times we must bring our children into our most vulnerable areas so we, as Jehoshaphat, can unleash before them the power of our God through the catalyst of prayer!

Application

There are many ways to teach God’s Word to our children and grandchildren. We’ve discussed only a few. Select a time to read God’s Word each day, and ask God to show you how he wants you to share with your children or grandchildren what you learned in your time alone with God today.

Thought to Remember

We cannot get our children excited about God if we are not excited about him ourselves. The best school for conducting devotions with our children is to first have private devotions ourselves alone with God.

Questions for Discussion

  1. How can I keep family devotions from being boring?
  2. How can I convince my children that God is a reality in my life, and not just someone we talk about?
  3. How can I help my children experience the reality of God for themselves?

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

08. The (not) ideal home: She did what she could

God has a unique plan for each of us in nurturing our children. We cannot be fathers to our offspring, but if we will be mothers committed to God, that will be enough!

“She did what she could” (Mark 14:8).

An Unnamed Woman: Her Best Was Enough

Jesus was visiting in the home of a man named Simon when a woman did something so significant that most people could not comprehend it.

While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.

–Mark 14:3-8

Jesus said of the woman who anointed him, “She did what she could,” and Jesus indicated that was enough.

Was it enough that she simply anointed Jesus from an alabaster box or jar of sweet-smelling perfume? Will it be enough if we just determine some quality things to do with our children? Will it be enough if we take them to church? Will it be enough if we provide them with an ideal Christian home? According to whose ideals? And what if we don’t have an ideal home? What is enough?

There were a lot of things this woman couldn’t do. She probably would not have been allowed to stand and give a speech on the greatness of Jesus Christ. She couldn’t travel with Jesus daily. Possibly circumstances prevented her from being able to host him in her home.

So she did what she could. She made this simple little gesture of anointing him. Or was it simple?

According to the passage quoted above, this was no ordinary perfume. It was valued at “more than a year’s wages,” and some felt it could have better been used to feed the poor. The contents of the alabaster box were treasured in the family–reserved to be used for burial. What she gave was no simple gesture. Not only did it cost her monetarily, but it cost her much ridicule from many of the religious people who observed.

There were other things she could have done. She could have spoken words of praise to Jesus. She could have offered to bring lunch to him and his disciples the next day at less expense than that of the perfume. She could have used a relatively inexpensive perfume on his feet. But she gave the very best that she had.

That is what is required of us as parents. No simple textbook formula will do. Taking our children to church alone won’t cut it. “Quality time,” so often lauded, can’t measure up to God’s standard. Idealism based on man’s ideals is unrealism.

We are not required to do what we cannot, but we are accountable before God to do all that he instructs us to do for each individual child. This will be costly. Our goal must not be to impress our Christian friends or absolve our conscience that we have followed the “rules.” Our goal must constantly be to do the best thing in this particular situation to help this child to know God better.

There are many excellent books written by Christian authors on parenting. There is much good advice from Christian friends and leaders. But as we study God’s Word for ourselves and pray, only God can reveal if we are to use this particular advice to apply to this child in this situation, and if not, what God would have us do.

Moses’ Mother: Her Time Was Enough

Moses’ father and mother were both Jews from the tribe of Levi. From a very young age, Moses was raised by a pagan princess. But God gave his parents the opportunity to start him out for God first.

Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river bank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.

Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”

“Yes, go,” she answered. And the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”

–Exodus 2:5-10

Moses grew to be a great leader of God’s people, and God through Moses gave us the first 5 books of the Bible. Moses’ mother took full advantage of the time God gave her with her son. She followed God’s leadership, and she raised her son for God while she had Moses with her. And that was enough!

Ah, that we as mothers would quit blaming our circumstances and just do all God says to do. That too will be enough!

It is time that we quit excusing ourselves because we don’t have an ideal home where Dad demonstrates his loving authority as the God-appointed head of the home. He leads Spiritually at the family altar. He has the wisdom of Solomon in rearing his family. He maintains the children’s respect of their mother. He supports her and she supports him. He makes sure love and discipline are balanced. The mother trains and teaches under the auspices of the father’s Spiritual umbrella.

There are homes where this Scriptural ideal is realized. Praise God for them. But these homes are rare in our day. We do not live in an ideal world. Sin has corrupted what God ordained. So often Dad goes the opposite way, and leads the children away from God, seemingly obliterating the Spiritual teaching the mother makes in her children’s lives. Or refusing to allow her freedom to teach as she would.

But God will not be obliterated! God has provided a way to overcome sin, through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ. Let’s quit moaning about how we cannot raise our children for God because of our husbands. Or our lack of a husband.

If we have the Holy Spirit of God living in us, how dare we say we can’t because our husbands don’t! Sin has often torn apart the ideal. But God specializes in undoing what sin has done in individual circumstances! God will make a way if we as mothers trust him and obey him.

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen

–Ephesians 3:20-21; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Ephesians 5:22

We women are never instructed to oppose our husbands in the rearing of our children. On the contrary, God strictly forbids us to oppose our husbands. He tells us to submit ourselves to our own husbands.

If we set our mind to obey God in this, he will never allow our husbands to require us to blatantly participate in that which is in direct opposition to God’s precepts. God will not put us in a position where we are forced to choose between two of his commandments. God will make away to escape.

What greater teaching can we give our children than that of our example in obedience to our husbands as instructed in the Word of God?

Abraham: His Faith Was Enough

Abraham sacrificed his son at God’s command. We may seemingly be sacrificing our children to sin in obedience to our husbands. Abraham believed God would raise his son if he obeyed God, and God provided a lamb and rescued Abraham’s son.

Our children are about to be destroyed, and God has provided a lamb. We, like Abraham, believe that God’s Son, the Lamb, will either rescue or raise our children if we are obedient to God.

Application

Our trust in God’s intervention does not excuse us from doing what we can, as God leads. As long as our husbands do not oppose our Spiritual efforts in our children’s lives, we are free to do all we want. When our husband’s do oppose that we propose to do, we must revise our plans. It may take a little more innovation to find “husband-approved” methods of teaching our children God’s precepts, but if this is the life God has called us to, he will make a way!

We are not permitted to give up. We cannot be a father to our children. But God has not called us to be fathers. God has called us to be mothers.

Thought to Remember

Let us follow the unique plan God has called each of us to in the nurturing our children for him. God will magnify our efforts exceeding abundantly above that we ask or think. And if we will be mothers sold out to God, that will be enough!

Questions for Discussion

  1. How much training is “enough”?
  2. How do we know whose advice to follow as parents?
  3. What if circumstances prevent us from doing what we feel is best for our child?
  4. What if our husband opposes our training methods with our children?

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

07. Discipline and affirmation: Confident of better things

As we balance discipline with affirmation, we give our children worthy expectations to live up to. Expect the best, provide loving discipline and support in the worst.

We are confident of better things in your case (Hebrews 6:9).

Paul, the Master ‘Parent’

This session is mostly Scripture, as an example of the Apostle Paul’s “parenting” method. Meditate on the verses below, taken from Paul’s’ Epistles. Observe as this master “parent” shows us how to deal with our children. Get your Bible and read the context or entire book of some of these epistles. Skim through some of Paul’s other epistles in addition to those quoted below. Most of the epistles are very short, and almost all of them employ the principles we’ve been discussing here.

From Paul’s Letter to the Church at Thessalonica

But we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.

You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.

For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

–1 Thessalonians 2:7-12

From Paul’s Letter to the Church at Philippi

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus….

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.

Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.
–Philippians 1:3-6,27; 4:1-2

From Paul’s First Letter to the Church at Corinth

I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way–in all your speaking and in all your knowledge– because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife.

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you.

In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it.

–1 Corinthians 1:4-11; 5:1; 11:1-2,17-18

From Paul’s Second Letter to the Church at Corinth

So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you. For if I grieve you, who is left to make me glad but you whom I have grieved? I wrote as I did so that when I came I should not be distressed by those who ought to make me rejoice. I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy. For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.

If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent–not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.

Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it.

This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority–the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.

–2 Corinthians 2:1-8; 3:2; 8:4; 13:10

From the Letter to the Hebrews

The author of Hebrrews is uncertain, but many Bible Scholars believe it was written by the Apostle Paul.

Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case–things that accompany salvation.

–Hebrews 6:9

Application

We must learn to balance discipline with affirmation. Even when our children rebel, we must never give them even a hint that we anticipate they might continue to live beneath God’s standards.

Thought to Remember

Our children want to live up to our expectations. Let us give them worthy expectations to live up to!

Question for Discussion

Can you give me a model parent, someone I can live with and follow over an extended period of time?

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

06. Positive support: Praising right choices

Praising right choices our children make reinforces them. Even in wrong choices, we can praise the right desires we’ve planted in our children from God’s Word.

I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life (1 Samuel 1:11).

An Irrevocable Vow

As Christian parents we must say with Hannah of all our children, “I will give him (or her) to the Lord for all the days of his (or her) life.” Hannah made a special promise called a Nazarite vow.

And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.

“So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.

–1 Samuel 1:11, 28

Hannah’s Nazarite vow (“and no razor will ever be used on his head”) is not applicable to our day. However the principle of dedication of our children is not only appropriate, but mandatory if we would bring our children up to honor the Lord.

An Unremitting Reminder

We must tell our children from a young age that they are being raised for the Lord. We must remind them of this over and over. We must make sure they understand that we have embedded this goal in their life. We must let them know as they mature that this responsibility to live for the Lord is being shifted to their shoulders. We must remind them that the teaching we have given them puts an extra burden of responsibility upon them before the Lord to live by God’s principles. We must let them know that this is what we expect. We must always be positive in our teaching. Our children have a choice. They will learn that soon enough. But we must always reinforce the right choices.

An Expressed Positiveness

Even when they seem to be going in the wrong direction, we can know what we have sown in our children’s hearts, and we can affirm them:

“I know you want to do the right thing, because you love the Lord. Let me pray with you that he will help you make the right choice.”

“You did the wrong thing. But I know your desire now is to do what God wants. I know you are going to follow what God shows you to do about this.”

“God is going to remind you of all the things we’ve talked about. I just know God is going to do great things in your life!”

We must take every opportunity we can to let our children know how proud we are of the right choices they make. Even in the midst of their wrong choices, we can praise the right desires we know we’ve planted inside them.

We should praise our children’s obedience before they rebel. If our children display a hint of rebellion, we must renew our praise for their obedience before the leaven of rebellion has a chance to rise. Even if the rebellious attitude had to be squelched by our firmness, even if the child really did not want to obey, we can inspire our children to squelch the rebellion themselves next time:

“I was so proud of you tonight. You started to argue with me about going out with your friends. But when I told you ‘No, this is how it will be,’ you accepted that. I’ve seen a lot of kids be very disrespectful of their moms in situations like that. But you did what I told you, even though you really didn’t want to. You’ve always respected what I’ve told you, and I want you to know how much I appreciate that.”

Then we can reel in the catch by praising this child to another adult in the child’s presence at the first opportunity:

“He (or she) is a good kid. He respects me, and he obeys me, and he really wants to do the right thing. I couldn’t be more proud of him!”

Next time he starts to disobey, he will be so compelled to live up to the standard Mom has set that it will most likely take only a gentle “You’re not obeying me” to turn the tide.

An Unrelenting Love

We must let our children know that we are always praying for them. We must teach them that to depart from God’s principles is to walk on our prayers and to walk on God’s love. But we must also let them know that they can never do anything to depart from our love or God’s love. We must teach them about God’s love with our love. We must prove to our children over and over that no matter what they do we always love them.

When our children fall short of the principles we teach them, we must be there to support and help them back to the right way–never to criticize. We must respond to them as God responds to us.

An Endearing Discipline

We must love them enough to discipline when necessary. Here are some of the things the Bible teaches about discipline:

Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.

The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother….
Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord

Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

–Proverbs 19:18; 22:15; 29:15,17; Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21

A mother must discipline her children from an early age. Sometimes parents disagree on the discipline of their children. When the father’s ideas of discipline differs from the mother’s, a mother may not be given the opportunity to discipline her children as she would like. But a mother must always love her children enough to demand their respect.

A mother must never, never allow her children to speak disrespectfully to her. She must love them so purely that with only a glance she inspires their admiration of her integrity and sacrificial love. She must love them so firmly that with only a word she employs their desire for her approval and fellowship to produce a reverential respect for her authority. She must demand nothing less than utmost respect from her children.

“Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 5:16).

An Adept Example

The Apostle Paul was a master at incorporating the above principles into his ministry. To him, the churches he had established and nurtured were his children. In 2 Thessalonians 2:7-11 (quoted in the next session), Paul shows us his father heart. He compares his ministry to that of parent to child.

In almost all of his epistles (letters) to the churches, he began with affirmation and commendation.

The Philippian church was his most well-behaved “child,” the child after his own heart. He told the Philippian church he was praying for them, and expecting great things from them. He did not overlook the dissention between two women who were apparently disputing. However, he did not labor the point. He let them know that he loved them, and that he expected unity.

Corinth was a wicked city, and the church at Corinth tried Paul’s patience at times. This was the child who had never grown up. This child was prone to be rebellious, to follow the world. He had to be firm with this child.

The first letter to the Corinthians displays something of Paul’s firmness–still mingled with love and positive hope, but abounding with discipline. He is reminding them that they have been “trained up” in the way they should go, and that he will not accept their departing from that way now.

The second letter reveals more of Paul’s heart. Even for Paul, the master at balancing discipline with affirmation, it was hard to know how to handle this child. He did not want to be overpowering in his discipline, yet he could not approve the evil in them.

He “disciplined” them in his first letter, but after they had both had an opportunity to think and pray about the situation, he took the initiative to write to them again. He didn’t apologize for his discipline, but he made sure they understood the spirit with which he gave it. And he did indicate that some of the things he had led them to do in his previous letter needed to be amended at this time. He admonished them in love to live up to the positive things he was expecting of them now.

Application

Our children need both our positive support and our consistent discipline. When we are angry or disappointed with our children, or when our children are angry because of our discipline, we can’t really “finish” the job. We haven’t finished until we go back to that child after things have settled.

We must not apologize for our discipline if it was merited, but we must apologize if we have displayed any misbehavior toward our child. We must make sure our child understands the heart and spirit of our discipline, and the reason for it. We must then let our child know that we already feel proud of the way we expect him to behave in the future.

Our children are looking for someone to believe in them. As mothers, we must be that someone!

Thought to Remember

We must take every opportunity we can to let our children know how proud we are of the right choices they make. Even in the midst of their wrong choices, we can praise the right desires we know we’ve planted inside them.

Questions for Discussion

  1. This sounds good. But HOW do I pull it off? I need some PRACTICAL advice.
  2. What do we do when our children rebel?

Nazarite Scriptures

Nazarite Vow Requirement for Hair:
Numbers 6:5 “`During the entire period of his vow of separation no razor may be used on his head. He must be holy until the period of his separation to the LORD is over; he must let the hair of his head grow long.

Sampson:
Judges 13:5 because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”

Samuel:
1 Samuel 1:11 And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

John the Baptist (Compare Luke 1:15 with Numbers 6:3):
Luke 1:15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.

Numbers 6:3 he must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or from other fermented drink. He must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins.

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

05. The God of Circumstances: Left behind, a mother’s faith

Her son left behind in a far-away land, Samuel’s mother trusted God. Hannah rejoiced in God’s faithfulness with a prayer of praise in sorrow and dark circumstances.

“My heart rejoices in the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:1).

Hannah’s Prayer of Praise

After Hannah left her son at Shiloh, she said, “My heart rejoices in the Lord.” Read her prayer of praise here:

Then Hannah prayed and said:
“My heart rejoices in the LORD;
in the LORD my horn is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
for I delight in your deliverance.

“There is no one holy like the LORD;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.

“Do not keep talking so proudly
or let your mouth speak such arrogance,
for the LORD is a God who knows,
and by him deeds are weighed.

“The bows of the warriors are broken,
but those who stumbled are armed with strength.

Those who were full hire themselves out for food,
but those who were hungry hunger no more.
She who was barren has borne seven children,
but she who has had many sons pines away.

“The LORD brings death and makes alive;
he brings down to the grave and raises up.

The LORD sends poverty and wealth;
he humbles and he exalts.

He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
and has them inherit a throne of honor.

“For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’s;
upon them he has set the world.

He will guard the feet of his saints,
but the wicked will be silenced in darkness.

“It is not by strength that one prevails;

those who oppose the LORD will be shattered.
He will thunder against them from heaven;
the LORD will judge the ends of the earth.
“He will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

–1 Samuel 2:1-10

Hannah’s Peace in Parting

After Hannah left her son at Shiloh, she said, “My heart rejoices in the Lord.”

How can a mother rejoice when her son is being left behind, far away from her? How can a mother in our day rejoice when her son has chosen a wrong path and she must send him off for rehabilitation with people she has never met to a place she has never seen? How can a mother experience great joy and peace on what would seem to be one of the darkest days of her life?

This is peace that passes understanding. This is unexplainable.

But when a mother knows that she has steadfastly adhered to God’s directions in raising her son; when a mother knows she has planted God’s Word in her son’s heart; when a mother knows she is following God’s leadership now in the placement of her son — In short, when a mother knows God is leading and she is obeying, she also knows that God is honor-bound to keep his word to her.

The fulfillment of the promise now rests on the Lord. What relief! What peace! What anticipation! What joy!

Hannah was able to express a beautiful prayer of joy unto the Lord, because the goal of her life was that she and her child would live for the Lord. Samuel was the child Hannah had longed for, the child she prayed for, the child God gave in answer to her prayers. Next to her husband, Samuel was the fulfillment of her heart’s greatest desire, save one.

Hannah’s Paramount Passion

Save one — Hannah’s #1 supreme desire was to serve God. Samuel was not #1 in her life. Neither was her husband. The #1 position in her life was reserved for her God. We can only produce children that will honor the Lord as we put God in his rightful position in our own lives.

Hannah’s Pleasure in God’s Provision

In the blockquote above, Hannah proclaimed that “It is not by strength that one prevails.” Hannah uses several other paradoxical statements in these verses to proclaim that what we see is not always what we get.

She may have been thinking back to the mocking she had experienced from Peninnah when Peninnah had children and Hannah had none (See Session 4). Hannah probably did not understand the fullness and prophecy of all God said through her in these verses.

But one thing is certain: God is always working behind the scenes in our children’s behalf to accomplish the fruition of the Godly training we have planted in their lives. We may not always see the fulfillment of God’s work in their lives with our own eyes, but we can trust God that the strength of wickedness will not prevail against his completion of what he begins in them through us!

“But,” you may say, “Samuel was at the house of God. Her child was in a Godly environment, so it was easy for her to trust.”

Ah, but read this:

Then Elkanah went home to Ramah, but the boy ministered before the LORD under Eli the priest.

Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the LORD

1 Samuel 2:11-12.

Samuel was thrust into an environment, “young as he was,” with older role models who “had no regard for the Lord.” Yet, in spite of this, Samuel grew to be a man that God could use to minister in his own day, as well as to record part of the Word of God that still speaks to men and women today!

Application

We must allow God to control the circumstances of our children’s lives. We must trust him when we don’t understand the circumstances. We must trust him even when the circumstances seem to be a hindrance to their developing into men and women of God.

We cannot blame environment, role models, or circumstances. We have the same God today that Hannah had. Let us share him with our children then trust them to him!

Thought to Remember

We must trust God when we don’t understand the circumstances. We must trust him even when the circumstances seem to be a hindrance to our children’s developing into men and women of God.

Questions for Discussion

  1. How can we rejoice in the hard times?
  2. What if God seems to allow the wrong circumstances or the wrong role models in our children’s lives?

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

04. The time God gives: Redeem and release

Hannah redeemed the time with her child then released Samuel to the Lord. She trusted God to go where she could not, and to manage the outcome he desired for her son’s life.

“I give him to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:28).

Hannah Leads

Samuel’s father was a Jew from the tribe of Ephraim. He was a faithful and devout follower of the Lord. However, his wife Hannah was the one who led in the dedication an giving of their son, still a small lad, to serve in the house of the Lord at Shiloh. Read their story here:

[Elkanah] had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.

Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the LORD Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the LORD. Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb. And because the LORD had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. Elkanah her husband would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”

Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the LORD’s temple. In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine.”

“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”

Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”

She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast

Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the LORD and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah lay with Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.”

When the man Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the LORD and to fulfill his vow, Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the LORD, and he will live there always.”

“Do what seems best to you,” Elkanah her husband told her. “Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the LORD make good his word.” So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.

After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. When they had slaughtered the bull, they brought the boy to Eli, and she said to him, “As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.

–1 Samuel 1:2-28

Hannah did not go against her husband. He gave her his blessing in whatever seemed best to her. Hannah’s husband joined with her in the offering and giving of their son. But Hannah was still the leader in this.

Many times, even in “Christian” homes, mothers have to be the ones to lead in dedication of their children to the Lord. Sometime husbands join, sometimes they don’t.

The Bible never teaches us that we should oppose our husbands in doing what we feel is best for our children Spiritually. But if our husbands do not accept their role as Spiritual leaders, we should provide as much Spiritual leadership for our children as our husbands will permit.

Samuel Learns

“She took the boy with her, young as he was.”

Young as he was, Hannah had already managed to instill into Samuel a love for God and a desire to honor God. No doubt she had taught him he was a promise from God. No doubt she had taught him he was a gift back to God. Young as he was, she taught him he was being raised for the Lord!

Hannah Releases

“I give him to the LORD.” What a lot Hannah said with those words. She gave him to the Lord who first gave Samuel to her. When she said “I give him to the LORD,” she was saying: “I trust God to do the right thing in his life. I trust God to take over his training where I can not go. I accept whatever outcome God brings forth with my son.”

“For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” Again what faith! There was not a hint of fear that Samuel might rebel and refuse to follow the Lord. Hannah had started him out for God. Hannah had trusted God to do what she could not do. Hannah would continue to pray that her Son would live for God. And God would bring it to pass!

Samuel Worships

And he worshipped the Lord there. The boy, “young as he was,” worshipped the Lord. He was being taken from his mother, given to a strange environment where he had never been (see v. 22), yet he worshipped the Lord.

No wonder Hannah could rest assured for her Son’s future. She had taught him to love the Lord his God above everything else and to trust God no matter what. “Young as he was,” he understood enough to worship God even in the face of being taken from his mother and his home.

Application

We may not have a lot of time with our children. Hannah had only the very earliest years of her son’s life. Some parents have only every other weekend or less. Some have their children only a few years until death calls the parent home. Some have them every day, but the influence of another parent in the home threatens to train their children the wrong way.

But if we use the time God does allow us to train our children for him, we, like Hannah, can trust that God will take over where we can not go to see that our children fulfill his promise!

“The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Thought to Remember

When Hannah said “I give him to the LORD,” she was saying: “I trust God to do the right thing in his life. I trust God to take over his training where I can not go. I accept whatever outcome God brings forth with my son.”

Questions for Discussion

  1. Which parent should lead in the dedication and raising of their children for the Lord?
  2. At what age are our children old enough for us to begin training them in the way they should go?
  3. How much time does it take to raise our children for God?

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted