Tag Archives: descendants

14. Activating God’s promises: Catalyst of faith

We activate God’s promises with the catalyst of faith. Do we dare to force God’s hand? No, God has forced his own hand. God is honor-bound to keep his word.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence” (Hebrews 4:16).

Seeking Faith to Believe

Jesus indicated that the key is to believe. Our problems with our children are not impossible, if we can just believe that they aren’t. We have power over our problems if we just believe that we do.

A father brought his ailing son to Jesus, and asked if he could help. Jesus told him: “Everything is possible for him who believes” (Mark 9:23).

When the apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith, “He replied, ‘If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it will obey you'” (Luke 17:5-6).

But how can we make ourselves believe? The fact is, we can’t. We cannot believe. We cannot cause ourselves to have faith. But we can choose the focus of our attention. We can choose to focus our attention on problems or on promises!

Finding Faith in Focus

If we focus on our circumstances and those of our children, we will be helpless and hopeless before them. If we focus on God’s faithfulness, God will generate inside of us a faith that can pluck up trees and rearrange nature if necessary to accomplish God’s will.

God’s will. That is what we are talking about here. Remember the story of Hannah? Remember how we paraphrased Hannah’s words in 1 Samuel 1:28? Hannah was saying, “I trust God to do the right thing in Samuel’s life. I trust God to take over Samuel’s training where I cannot go. I accept whatever outcome God brings forth with my son.”

We will not find a faith that believes God will work all things out our way. But we can find a faith that believes God will work all things out the best way. God said it like this:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

To find this faith, we must be willing to say with Hannah, “I accept whatever outcome God brings forth with my children.” Throughout the Bible, God did remarkable wonders in the lives of men and women who dared to accept in advance whatever outcome God brought forth, knowing whatever God did would be right.

Whatever God does in our children’s lives will be right. How can we really believe this? Where can we find the faith? Herein lies the key to increasing our faith:

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

Finding Faith in History

God’s word is brimming with stories of his faithfulness down through the ages. It’s promises overflow into our lives as God illuminates them to us.

We come before the Lord. We have focused our attention on the accounts in his Word of his faithfulness to men and women who walked according to his ways. We reach into God’s word and grab a fistful of these accounts in our left hand.

Finding Faith in Promise

Now we reach deep into God’s Word, and clench tightly as many promises as we can hold in our right hand. We hold high before our God an open Bible. Every page is a promise and a testimony that our faithfulness to God will be multiplied beyond measure in his faithfulness back to us!

We refresh ourselves in God’s promises which are as old as all ages and as new as today! And above our heads is our Banner Promise, the promise which undergirds our hope in all the others:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

He is the same God who was faithful to Moses’ mother; to Samuel’s mother; to Timothy’s mother. He is the same God who was faithful to Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob; to David, Joseph, Isaiah, Rahab, Joshua, and Hannah; to Peter, James, John, Mary, and Paul. He is the same God who has kept his promises to Christians unnamed and unnumbered down through the ages.

Praise be to the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not oneword has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.

–1 Kings 8:56, Deuteronomy 7:9

Finding Faith in Boldness

He is the same God who has been faithful to you and to me in the past. He is the same God. He will always be faithful. As we stand before our God we hold our hands high. Our left hand holds before him the testimonies we have gathered of his faithfulness. Our right hand waves God’s promises toward heaven like a flag of victory. God is honor-bound to keep his Word to us!

Have we dared to force God’s hand? No, God has forced his own hand. We are nothing, unworthy, helpless and hopeless. God in mercy and love reached down through his Son our Savior and gave us hope and made us mighty in his Son. He gave us all power in his name. He has told us to come boldly before His throne. “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)..

The Lord has said:

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.

God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.

–Hebrews 6:10-19

Application

Let us give God the preeminence in our lives. Then God will teach us his promises. He dares us to hold him to them. We accept the challenge — and we have won. Our faith has been turned on. The catalyst that sets off God’s promises has been activated. The fulfillment of God’s promises has been accomplished. We simply await their enactment in a world bound by time!

In the next few sessions, we will study these principles as they were applied in Joshua’s life. We will see how the Word of God enabled Joshua’s faith to “turn on” God’s promises. And we will see our mighty God respond!

Thought to Remember

We will not find a faith that believes God will work all things out our way. But we can find a faith that believes God will work things out in a way greater than we could have ever imagined.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What do you do when the world seems to crush down upon you?
  2. What do you do when you claim God’s promises yet he does not seem to be doing anything?
  3. How do you keep from getting depressed when your children continue to go farther astray?

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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