Tag Archives: children

A woman’s priorities: Three most important things

3 most important things: Obedience to and spending time with God is our #1 priority. But there is no higher priority under God than being a wife. There is no higher calling than motherhood.

Time alone with God will change your life like no other.

Three most important priorities in your life

Do you ever get frustrated with all the demands placed upon you? Our world demands more and more all the time. We need to take time to determine what is really important.

I was asked an interesting question in a job interview once: “If you had to nail it down, what would you consider the three most important things in your life?” My perspective employer told me to think about it before answering, because he felt it was one of the most important questions in the interview. How would you respond to that question?

I told him I would not need to think about the first two. I explained that God must be first in everything, and that my family is the most important part of my life after God. I thought a moment about the third response. Several things vied for that position, but I decided that the thing that means most to me after God and family is my church. That was in 1990 and, as I update this in 2009, my priorities remain the same. These three things top the list for me.

However, for this study, I am going to list the priorities in our immediate family in the proper order. The top three things, then, will look like this:

  1. God
  2. Husband
  3. Children

Family (husband and children) and a woman’s priorities

So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.

So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.

Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man

–Genesis 2:20-22

Our primary calling under God is to be a helper to our husbands. That is why we were created. “To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you'” (Genesis 3:16).

God placed a natural desire in us to make our husbands our priority. The friction of marriage tends to wear away at that desire. Then we bring that little baby home from the hospital — helpless and demanding — and we forget the first priority God gave us in our homes.

Motherhood is a high calling. But before motherhood we were given to our husbands as a helper. Many husbands are jealous of a wife’s time with the children. This is to our shame. Our husbands deserve better than second rate to the children. When we put them second we are not fulfilling the role God has given us as wives.

There is no higher calling than motherhood. But there is no higher priority under God than being a wife. They go hand in hand. Unless we get the relationships in our families right we cant be what God intended us to be. Caring for our children is part of meeting our husband’s needs. Our husbands want us to do that. They just don’t want to be sacrificed in the process. We don’t have to neglect our children to put our husbands first.

The Bible has much to say about our role as wives, as well as about parents — both husband and wife together. There are examples of Godly mothers in the Bible. But few verses are directed specifically toward a mother’s role in raising her children. This is because it is natural for us to mother.

“To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16) Many of us remember the anguish of childbirth. But when that baby was placed in our arms, the anguish was forgotten. We began to mother!

It is natural for us to desire our husbands too. But the part about allowing our husbands to rule is not so natural for most of us. This requires steadfast devotion to and faith in God. So God is careful to emphasize our role as wives more than mothers.

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children” (Titus 2:3-4) Which is listed first in God’s command of who we are to love? Husbands or children? God’s order is husbands first, children second. If we follow God’s order our children will be cared for in the best possible way. God’s way is always right.

I am not advocating a mother subject herself or her children to abuse. I am suggesting we do not excuse ourselves for our rebellion against God’s plan for families because of our own selfishness. Much material on this website discusses our role as wives and mothers. Now we turn to our #1 priority.

God and a woman’s priorities

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38). It is easy to say God is #1. But is he really #1 in your life?

“If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).

“Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23).

What did Jesus say we will do if we love him? (Obey his teachings). Where do we find his teachings? (In the Bible). Do you love God enough to set aside a time each day to learn about his teachings? Do you have time for God? Do you plan ahead for this time of meeting with him in His word? Do you reserve a few minutes of your 24 hrs for him alone, or is your prayer life always “on the go?”

There is nothing wrong with “on the go” prayers. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). The Bible says, “Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

But how can we say he is a priority if we are not willing to set aside a few minutes of each day to devote only to him? You may say, “I tried that. Didn’t work.” Here is what God says:

“Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway” (Proverbs 8:34)

“For it is: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there” (Isaiah 28:10)

The King James translation of Isaiah 28:10 says it this way: For precept [must be] upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, [and] there a little: (Isaiah 28:10 KJV)

God says it WILL work if you are faithful to do it and don’t give up. Some days you will feel God so near you can almost touch him. Other times you will read the Bible for days or even weeks and nothing seems to happen. But you are being fed.

Think of a special meal you enjoyed recently, something out of the ordinary. Yet, most of the time you probably eat the same type of food day after day. Either way, you are being nurtured. If you are faithful during the times you feel you aren’t getting anything out of it, God will be faithful to develop a foundation in your life that will be strong and secure. He will do it in tiny measures sometimes — barely noticeable — precept upon precept. But one day you will read a passage you’ve read many times. In an instant God will reveal a special truth to you, something you missed before — a special meal. The Bible will begin to come alive for you!

God’s word fits together wonderfully but it takes faithfulness to comprehend its wonders. I’ve talked with many defeated Christians. They come back over and over with the same needs. Yet I have watched God dramatically change the lives of those who are willing to make time alone with God the #1 priority in their lives.

This one thing – time alone with God – will change your life like no other!

Jesus replied: “`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).

Loving our neighbor as ourselves takes care of everything else

  • home
  • friends
  • relationships at church
  • work
  • social life
  • mistreatment from others

But before we can get the part about our neighbor right we must get the part about making God #1 right. There is an old hymn that says:

I love Thee, I love Thee, I love Thee, my Lord.
I love Thee, my Savior, I love Thee my God;
I love Thee, I love Thee, and that Thou doest know;
But how much I love Thee my actions will show.

“Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him…'” (John 14:23)

Do you love God enough to make time alone with him your #1 priority? Or do you keep putting him off?

  • When I get better organized…
  • When I get the kids in school…
  • When I get a better job with different hours…
  • When I have more time I will spend time with him.

That is Satan’s lie. It will never happen unless you chose to make it happen, unless you choose now — NOW — to make time for God! Do you have to think about whether you will comb your hair each day? Do you ever consider not combing it?

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7)

Is the God who knows the number of your hairs, who cares for the sparrows and says you are much more important… Is he less important than brushing your hair? Our time with God should be just that automatic like brushing our hair. It shouldn’t be up for question as to whether we will do it. He always waits for us. We can come to him any time.

Satan challenges us in this area like no other. Satan knows if he can defeat our time alone with God he can defeat us in every other area. Will you let Satan continue to defeat you?

What time would be best for you to set aside for God? Think of a time right now that would be best to set aside for God. If you don’t plan ahead you will never do it. Commit your heart right now to keeping this appointment with God each day this week. Don’t let Satan steal your time with the most important priority in your life.

What to do during your time alone with god

The concordance in the back of your Bible is wonderful. Use it to find passages relating to Bible people.

  • What made them great?
  • What made them fall short?
  • Notice how God worked in their lives.
  • How did they respond?
  • Learn from their examples.

Are you fearful? Look up “fear and “afraid” in the concordance.

Are you angry? Look up “anger.”

Search for God’s promises that meet your need. Are there conditions to the promises? Ask God to help you meet them.

When you come to the “begets and begots” and other things that seem boring skip them. God has them there for a reason and some day you will go back and uncover the wonderful truths in them. But for now don’t concentrate on the things you don’t understand. Just apply the things you do understand. None of us understands it all. The Bible has some very simple truths in it and some very profound. The Holy Spirit will teach us as we read it. The more we study, the more we will understand.

Spend time talking with God. You can be honest with him. If you don’t feel like praying, tell him. Like this: “God, I don’t feel like praying today. I’d rather be reading a magazine. But you are here, and I want to learn. I am struggling. Help me with this.”

He will hear that prayer…and he will open his word to you. Tell him all your heart things. He already knows. He just wants you to invite him to help. He doesn’t look at our failures to see where he can condemn us. He looks at them to see how he can help.

Your homework for the next week is this:

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. It is divided into 22 short sections. Read 3 sections each day during the time you have set apart for God. One day you will need to read 4 sections.

Meditate on what you read. Ask God to give you 1 verse each day that speaks to your need. Talk to God during this time just as you would talk to a friend. You may want to write your prayers.

Psalm 119 is a passage on the helpfulness of God’s word. It is written in the form of a prayer. By reading it you will be performing both Bible study and prayer.

God waits for you every day. He will be waiting for you at the time you have selected. Your appointment with Him is the only place you will find what you are missing in your life.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27) If you want that peace you have to spend time with Him.

When I was in high school, I used to dig promises out of God’s word and write them in the flyleaves of my Bible. The flyleaves of my Bible and a New Testament I had then are both covered with penciled promises. I have been a Christian since 1956. God has been faithful to every promise.

Here is my testimony about God’s promises:
“Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them” (Psalm 119:140).

But there was a time in my young adult years when I didn’t have time for God. I was a defeated Christian. My world was collapsing around me.

He was waiting for me. I found answers with God. You can too.

For more help in establishing a daily time with God, click here. This will take you to our old website until I get things moved. We are in the process of moving the website to the site you are on now.

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

20. Advice from the crowd: Reaching a wayward son

The father’s #1 goal was to reach his wayward son. Children are more important than rules. Raising our children takes priority over adhering to rules so we look good.

“The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

A Son Goes Missing

The son had come of age, and he left for a distant country. His father longed to reach his wayward son and give him positive support, but there was no communication between them. Oh, how the father missed his son!

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, `Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, `How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, `Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'”

–Luke 15:11-24,28-30

A Crowd Starts Meddling

There must have been a lot of noise among the crowd as they surmised what was going on in the “Prodigal” household. Young Joe Prodigal most likely had been a wayward son for quite some time to have made such a request. No doubt there was plenty of free, unsolicited advice for Mr. Prodigal as he was rearing this son upon whom the world had such a hold.

No one really knew all the circumstances in the Prodigal household. But everyone surely had an opinion of what Mr. Prodigal needed to do to get young Joe in line.

Have you ever wondered why Mr. Prodigal gave in to this son’s request and handed him the inheritance he requested at such an early age? If we had been there, we might have joined the crowd and cried, “Mistake! Mistake!” But as our Lord told this story, he did not indicate in any way that what the father did was wrong.

Many people will have opinions on how we should raise our children. But only one opinion matters. We must look to our Heavenly Father and ask him for wisdom.

There are many absolute answers. For example the Bible says, “Thou shalt not steal,” and it is always wrong to steal.

But the question of whether to give a son the inheritance is not so absolute. For one son the right thing may be to do this. In another household, it be right to refuse to give the inheritance at such a young age.

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

–Mark 2:23-27

God’s laws are always right. But many times man adds his wisdom to God’s law. God had said:

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.

For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

–Exodus 20:8-11

When our Lord and his disciples were hungry and plucked enough grain to meet their immediate needs, man said they were breaking the law. Yet our Lord himself is the one who wrote the law! They had added their own ridiculous interpretations.

A Father Watches Mindfully

Mr. Prodigal must have faced many episodes of humiliation. The world as well as his Christian comrades were probably quick to judge his household. But Mr. Prodigal knew that it sometimes takes a lot of cultivating and pruning if the rosebush is to bear fruit. He knew that the world might only see a thorn bush before the roses bloom.

Mr. Prodigal kept his eyes off the crowd and on the end of the pathway. Why? Because Mr. Prodigal knew that he had done what God told him to do, and he lived in anticipation of the day that God would bring his boy home!

Application

Today, many good and well-meaning people will tell us what we need to do differently in the rearing of our children. We must not cast this advice aside lightly. God may indeed speak to us through those he sends our way. We may need to wake up and save our household.

But we must also keep in mind that only God knows what we should do in each particular situation. If we have several choices that are not contrary to his Word, we must seek His will. The world will have its ideas. Other Christians may help us with the answers, but ultimately we must look to God.

Sometimes the easiest thing to do is insist that our children obey the rules that make us look good in everyone else’s eyes. But Jesus said, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.” God would say to us today, “The rules are made for your children, and not your children for the rules.” Raising our children must always take priority over adhering to rules.

Today we may be discouraged. It may seem we have done all God said, yet our child is living with the swine. It may seem God has let us down. What if….

We will never know how much lower our wayward children may have fallen without our restraining presence. We can find peace in leaving the finalities to God. He is the God of all justice. He is the God of incomprehensible love. Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him” (Job 13:15).

Thought for Today

As we look toward the end of the pathway, there is good news: The prodigal son did come home!

“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Questions for Discussion

  1. How do we answer the advice from the crowd?
  2. What’s more important, the rule or the child?
  3. What if….

Next

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

19. From victory unto victory: It’s time to take the land!

God commissioned us to train our children. He will not call us to fruitless labor, for he will enable. We will defeat the giants, and we will train our children. God has given us the land!

“So Joshua took the entire land, just as the LORD had directed….” (Joshua 11:23).

It’s Time to Take the Land!

The battle had begun. It was time to take the land in the power of God. Read the following accounts of battle, and see God’s power displayed!

Then the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.”

The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the LORD has given you the city!”

When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city. They devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it–men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.

Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land. You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the city.”

So Joshua and the whole army moved out to attack Ai. He chose thirty thousand of his best fighting men and sent them out at night with these orders: “Listen carefully. You are to set an ambush behind the city. Don’t go very far from it. All of you be on the alert.

“I and all those with me will advance on the city, and when the men come out against us, as they did before, we will flee from them. They will pursue us until we have lured them away from the city, for they will say, `They are running away from us as they did before.’ So when we flee from them, you are to rise up from ambush and take the city. The LORD your God will give it into your hand.”

Joshua had taken about five thousand men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, to the west of the city. They had the soldiers take up their positions–all those in the camp to the north of the city and the ambush to the west of it. That night Joshua went into the valley.

When the king of Ai saw this, he and all the men of the city hurried out early in the morning to meet Israel in battle at a certain place overlooking the Arabah. But he did not know that an ambush had been set against him behind the city.

Joshua and all Israel let themselves be driven back before them, and they fled toward the desert. All the men of Ai were called to pursue them, and they pursued Joshua and were lured away from the city. Not a man remained in Ai or Bethel who did not go after Israel. They left the city open and went in pursuit of Israel.

Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Hold out toward Ai the javelin that is in your hand, for into your hand I will deliver the city.” So Joshua held out his javelin toward Ai. As soon as he did this, the men in the ambush rose quickly from their position and rushed forward. They entered the city and captured it and quickly set it on fire.

The men of Ai looked back and saw the smoke of the city rising against the sky, but they had no chance to escape in any direction, for the Israelites who had been fleeing toward the desert had turned back against their pursuers.

So Joshua took the entire land, just as the LORD had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war.

These are the kings of the land whom the Israelites had defeated and whose territory they took over east of the Jordan, from the Arnon Gorge to Mount Hermon, including all the eastern side of the Arabah…. thirty-one kings in all.

–Joshua 6:2-5,16,20-21;8:1-7,12-20;11:23;12:1,30

Application

God, you have parted the Jordan before our eyes. We have stepped into the land of promise, and the battle begins.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

–John 15:4-5,16

God gave us a commission. He said, “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). He will not call us to that which he does not enable us. He will not call us to fruitless labor.

We will train our children. We battle with giants who strive to produce the fruits of evil in our children. But our God has given us the land.

Thought for Today

God has told us to take our children for him, and that we will do! We will bear fruit of righteousness in our children through the power of our God. For we are branches of God’s Son!

Questions for Discussion

  1. What are the giants God is calling you to take for the protection of your children?
  2. What Scripture promise will you carry with you to battle?

Next

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

18. Battling the giants: Reclaiming our children

God commissioned Joshua to take the land of the giants. Joshua didn’t hesitate. Will we tremble in fear as our children follow giants today, or will we reclaim our children for God?

“God is getting ready to do something great!” (Joshua 3:5, paraphrased).

Commission and Covenant

“After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: ‘Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them–to the Israelites'” (Joshua 1:1-2).

This was an awesome responsibility that God placed upon the shoulders of Joshua. Fear had kept the Israelites from inhabiting this land forty years earlier. Those people had died in the wilderness, and a God had raised up a new generation.

Then Moses died, and Joshua’s first commission from God was to take the land of the giants. But with God’s commission, God gave a promise!

I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates–all the Hittite country–to the Great Sea on the west. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

–Joshua 1:3-9

God promised to be with Joshua. He told Joshua to take courage in the fact that God would never leave or fail him. He told Joshua that his success would come from meditating continually in God’s Word.

“Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you'” (Joshua 3:5).

Consecration and Conquest

When God spoke to Joshua, Joshua didn’t hesitate. Immediately he told the people, “Get your hearts right with God. God is getting ready to do something great!” (Lois’ paraphrase).

Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God. This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you.

Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD–the Lord of all the earth–set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”

So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them.

Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.

The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.

–Joshua 3:9-17

With this, the Israelites entered the promised land. And the battle had begun!

Application

God gives a commission to parents today. God says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). The giants have claimed our children. If we would carry out God’s commission, we face an awesome task.

But every promise Joshua had, and many more, are written in God’s Word. These promises are ours today. God tells us to “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 4:16 NIV). “…God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV). Will we tremble in fear as our children follow the giants? Or will we take our children for God?

God, as mothers, we ask you to cleanse and prepare our hearts. Our children are in the land of the giants. But the land belongs to you. You have commissioned us to take it. You are getting ready to do something great!

Thought for Today

“Get your hearts right with God. God is getting ready to do something great!” (Joshua 3:5, Lois’ paraphrase.)

Questions for Discussion

  1. How did God use previous victories in Joshua’s life to prepare him to face the tremendous responsibility of taking the land of the giants without the aid of his mentor?
  2. How did God bolster Joshua’s faith with a promise?
  3. What are the giants God is calling you to take for the protection of your children?

Next

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

16. Faith for the battle: Listening in God’s presence

Joshua found faith for the battle by listening in God’s presence, meditating upon God’s deliverance, and rehearsing God’s words. God told Moses, “Make sure that Joshua hears it.”

“Write this…to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it” (Exodus 7:14).

Joshua Rehearsed God’s Words

In chapter 15, we saw that Joshua remembered God’s deliverance and God’s banner. Joshua also rehearsed God’s words.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven” (Exodus 17:14).

“Make sure that Joshua hears it.” God gave Moses the words to write to describe what happened, and God told him to read and discuss this especially with Joshua. God was nurturing Joshua’s faith. “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). God was preparing Joshua to be a man of faith.

God is challenging us today to study his Word that we might become God’s faithful women. We must accept the challenge. Only by faith can we pull our children from the edge of the sword.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

–Ephesians 6:10-18

We go to battle for our children against the armies of Satan himself. Our sword is the Word of God, and our shield is faith in God’s faithfulness. The victory is ours as long as we hold God’s banner high.

Joshua Spent Time Listening God’s Presence

Not only did Joshua remember God’s deliverance, God’s banner, and God’s Word, but Joshua also remembered his personal encounters with God as Moses’ aide. Wherever Moses went, Joshua went to assist and minister to Moses. Whenever Moses encountered God, Joshua encountered God also.

Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. He said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them.”

When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud. To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

–Exodus 24:13-18

When Moses received the instructions for the tabernacle and the ten commandments written on two tables of stone with the finger of God, Joshua was near. Joshua and Moses went together up into the mount of God. For six days, Joshua and Moses fellowshiped in the light of God’s glory. On the seventh day, Moses went farther, into the midst of the cloud, and he stayed there forty days and forty nights.

Joshua probably could not go all the way with Moses. But Joshua remained in the warmth of God’s presence. For forty days and nights, God spoke with Moses. God ministered to Joshua during this time as well. Joshua probably could not hear God audibly, but this was a time of refreshing for Joshua. Joshua basked in the glow from magnificent splendor of the glory of God. He meditated upon the ways God had delivered them. Surely Joshua rehearsed again and again the words of God that Moses had already shared with him. He experienced the calming atmosphere of the presence of God. And he waited in anticipation to see what Word God would give them through Moses.

When Moses and Joshua came down from the mount, Moses brought with him God’s instructions for building the tabernacle. But before the actual tabernacle was constructed, God would talk with Moses inside the makeshift “tent of meeting.” When God met with Moses in this makeshift tabernacle, Joshua was there:

Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent.

As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the LORD spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to his tent.

The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.

— Exodus 33:7-11

Application

Joshua delighted in the presence of God. Just being in God’s presence while God spoke with Moses gave Joshua strength. It was during these times of refreshing that Joshua found the faith to go back into the battle.

Joshua remembered God’s deliverance. Joshua fought under God’s banner. Joshua rehearsed God’s Word. Joshua spent time in God’s presence. These things made a difference for Joshua, and these are the things that will make a difference for us!

I wrote earlier about Joshua meditating on God but, when I proofread what I had typed, I discovered that instead of typing “meditated,” I accidentally typed “medicated.” This may be the best rendering of all: “Joshua medicated on God.” As we medicate on God, our spirits are healed!

Thought to Remember

Like Joshua, we can win this battle if we remember our past encounters with God, and spend time in his presence through Bible study, prayer, meditation, and medication on our faithful God.

Question for Discussion

  • How can I have the kind of faith that gets results? (part 2)

Next

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.

Back to Top

Next

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?

Next

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

00. Called to be a mother: Introduction

Between the battlefield of prayer and God’s promise of hope, I found faith to know that God was working in my children’s lives in ways I couldn’t see just yet.

Don’t give up. God hears your cry!

Author’s Preface

These sessions were written in the mid 1990’s, between the battlefield of prayer and God’s promise of hope. My last child was a teenager then, and we were going through some rugged times. I went to God’s Word for help, and this Bible study is the result. From the beginning, I wrote it in a format to share, because the things God was showing me were too wonderful to keep to myself. As I’ve moved them to our new site in March of 2009, I’ve added sub-headings and made minor editorial changes for clarity.

Chapters 1-19 were written while my son was home. He moved out a few days before he turned 18, and chapters 20 and 21 were written about three years later as I continued to wait for God’s answers. It was not until my son was in his early-to-mid-twenties that I first saw God’s transformations in his life. But, all along, I knew he was working in a way that I couldn’t see just yet.

My son will be thirty this year. He is a committed Christian, a great father, and a productive citizen. He is married to a former missionary from Turkey, and they are serving the Lord together.

My oldest, a daughter, is also serving the Lord. Her work as a CNA gives her many opportunities to show God’s love to the patients she cares for. She is a mother, and we have done this “Called to Be a Mother” Bible study together with local friends several times.

Don’t give up. God hears your cry.
Lois

Next