Monthly Archives: May 2018

The Children in Our Home

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.            Matthew 19:14

The simple fact is that there likely will be more people in heaven who never reached maturity than those who did grow up.  We usually have the notion that heaven will be primarily a place for adults, with former children there by way of exception or accommodation.  To the contrary; we who grow to maturity on earth will not be more important in heaven.  Jesus meant very literally what he said about children, “Of such is the kingdom of heaven!”

It has been truthfully said that this is an adult world, and children are tolerated in it.  Nearly all its equipment, customs, and activity are built around adults, and children spend an important part of their life in unfair competition, at a hopeless disadvantage.

There isn’t a more important age of life than childhood.  There isn’t a more important thing in the home than its children.  Even our all-important daily work is done largely for the sake of the children; and yet they are often neglected for the job.  Such irony!

Are our children getting anything out of the daily Bible reading and prayer?  What habits in this regard are they developing for their own future homes?  What attitudes are they developing toward church-going?  Are our divine services on such an adult level that children do not enjoy going to church?

Childhood is for the child itself one of the most difficult times of life.  When we think of it as just one long lark we are looking at it through adult eyes.  Some of the most painful experiences of life are suffered in those years.  Let us never minimize our children’s problems; they are big ones, and not just to them.  Let us not minimize their achievements, or fail to understand their problems.

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The Location of Our Home

Abram lived in the land of Canaan while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom.      Genesis 13:12

The simple fact of where a family lives can determine, humanly, the place where they will spend eternity!  What a difference it would have made for Lot and his family if they had lived somewhere else instead of in the suburbs of Sodom.  think of the terrible consequences of the simple choice he made of a home-site.  He lost his house, his wife, his daughters’ virtue, and vexed his own would in the bad bargain.  And why did he choose to live where he did?  The only factors he took into consideration were appearance and economic advantage.

Often, of course, we have little choice in the matter of where we live.  But plenty of times we do decide, and make our choice for unworthy reasons.

What are the factors that should determine the town, the street, and the house in which we live?  Here are some of them:  nearness to our church, to a school where our children may learn to know God; the kind of children with whom ours will play, and the sort of things the neighbors do on Sunday.

It is hard to live the Christian life in this world.  Let us not deliberately do anything to made it harder for ourselves and our children than it is.  The farther we live from God’s house, for example, the harder it is to take an active part in the church-life.

To choose for God is not always easy.  The hot wilderness was not a pleasant place for Abram to take Sarah.  But God was there, and there he prospered on account of his wise choice.  We will too, if we choose to live where we do, in order that we may live closer to God.

The Renewed Resolutions of Our Home

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.                Joshua 24:15

When Joshua made his historic resolution, this did not mark his conversion to the faith.  Joshua, like Timothy, had been a believer from boyhood.  No doubt he had also brought up his family in a devout manner.

But there are times in the life of every individual and of every family when we must renew our vows to serve God, rededicate ourselves to His service.  We should do that at the beginning of each year, the beginning of each week, and in fact, at the beginning of each new day.  “Today, by the grace of God, I shall serve Him a little better than ever before.”

Especially today our families should echo Joshua’s resolution.  The modern home is subject to more temptation than ever before.  And it is yielding.  Its walls are crumbling because its spiritual foundation is being undermined.  We see more and more broken homes.

But we can still repent in our homes.  No matter how well or how poorly we have done in the past, our homes should resolve that, by the grace of God, we shall do better.  “Forgetting the things which are behind,” said Paul, “and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on.”  Families too can begin again to serve God.

Anything that is alive either grows or it decays.  Failing to grow, it dies.  So does our soul. There is no such thing as “holding your own” spiritually.  Like an airplane, we must move ahead to stay aloft.  We must gain ground or we will lose it.  And this is also true in the home.  So let us repent of our failure and then resolve to go forward in faith as real Christian homes.

The Atmosphere of Our Home

These commandments that I give you today…. write them on the doorframe of your houses and on your gates.         Deuteronomy 6:6, 9

They say that some of the religious people of Jesus’ day used to carry copies of the Ten Commandments on their foreheads, rolled up in little tubes, with similar things other wrists.

But God did not mean anything of the sort when He said, “Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.”  And when Deuteronomy 6 says, “Write them on the doorframe of your houses and on your gates,” it is not referring to the mottoes and plaques that are found in many Christian homes.

Those things are fine.  Every Christian home should have something distinctive about it, so that a stranger stepping inside can tell that “Christ is the head of the house, the unseen guest at every table, the silent listener to every conversation.”

But many homes have mottoes like that on the wall, and Bibles lying on the table, and that is about all there is to indicate that it is a Christian home.  The Christianity of a home is more than just reading the Bible and praying at the table.  If it is nothing more than that, our Christianity is like sprinkling salt on some bread after leaving it out of the dough, or spreading on top of a cake the sugar that was forgotten from the batter.

Our home should be Christian for twenty-four hours a day, not just for five or ten minutes at mealtime. The whole atmosphere should breathe piety.  The very walls should radiate our religion, for walls have ears, says an old proverb.  Our conversation, even on so-called secular subjects, should be Christ-like and sacred.  Such homes are a foretaste of heaven.

Our Home and Daily Work

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…                          Colossians 3:23

More than half our waking hours are spent in work.  We have to work.  “He that will not work shall not eat.”  The dentist works, the teacher works, the salesman, the farmer, the housekeeper.  And often the job that looks easy to us is harder or more unpleasant than our own.

Work is a blessing.

Thank God for a world where none may shirk.  Thank God for the blessing of every-day work.

As children we ought to be thankful for schoolwork.  It would be one of the worst things in the world if we did not have wholesome, engrossing, challenging occupation of our time.  As housewives, fathers, and working young people we ought to rejoice that we have daily work to do and the strength to perform it.  Think of the unemployed and the bedridden the next time you tend to complain about work.

We can glorify God in our work.  God intended that we should.  When God made man He placed him in charge of creation, commanding him to control and develop it to His greater glory.

Jesus came into this world to redeem and hallow our work.  He Himself spent most of His life as a laborer at the carpenter’s bench.  One Christmas song says,

No more let sin and sorrow grow, nor thorns infest the ground.   He comes to make His blessing flow far as the curse in found.

Because of Christ and His “finished work” on the cross, much of the sting and curse of work has been removed.  We do not owe easier living so much to technology and invention as to Christ and the kingdom of heaven.  Christ has lifted the laboring man more than any union ever dreamed of accomplishing.

Devoted Women

And Mary Magdalene, and Mary the other of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Jesus.       Mark 16:1

Mother’s Day recalls the splendid example and the striking prominence for the women in Jesus’ ministry.  Are our modern mothers like them?

These faithful women ministered to Jesus’ needs when He went about healing and preaching the gospel.  These women stood sadly beside Calvary’s cross for the long and awful hours that Jesus hung there.  They stayed until the bitter end, and when Joseph of Arimathea took the body away and carefully laid it in his family tomb, these women followed after.

And now, the first thing on Easter morning, they leave their homes while it is still dark, before sunrise, in order to anoint Jesus’ body with spices just as you and I might carry some fresh flowers to a new grave.  They are not afraid of what might happen to them for being Jesus’ disciples; they do not cancel their plans because of such difficulties as moving a huge tombstone.

Thank God for the devoted and consecrated women who have prayed and worked and sacrificed in the service of God and His cause ever since the time of Eve!  Just think of Hannah, Ruth, Esther, Elizabeth, Lois and Eunice.  Think of the courageous Christian women who were thrown to the lions, beheaded, and burned alive because they were believers in the Lord Jesus!  Think of the women today who read their Bibles, teach their children to pray, and lead quiet Christian lives of example.  How could we have Christian homes without them?

God give us more mothers and wives whose adorning is not, as Peter puts it, primarily an outward one of jewelry, dress, or hair-do, but the internal, radiant beauty of the spirit, “Which is in the sight of God of great price.”

The Witness of Our Home

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.  Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.                   I Peter 2:11, 12

This is a wicked world, and a dark one also.  It needs light, lots of it,  And Christ says that we are the light of the world.

This light radiates largely out of our homes.  Most people live in families and spend most of their lives around their houses.  We claim that Christianity changes human lives, that Christian homes are different.  It is for us to prove this in our daily living.  We live in a very practical world; the deciding question about almost anything in this age is:  Does it work?  Show us!

Surely unbelief is proving its powerlessness to help homes.  Three of every five marriages in this “Christian” culture are broken by divorce.  Many more are living in a state of “armed truce.”  What have we to say to such a situation?  What message have we for such unhappy homes?  What kind of an example is our home in our community?

Are we “the Joneses” with whom the frustrated neighbors are frantically trying to keep up?  Is that the example they emulate?  When we leave for church on Sunday do they say, there go the hypocrites; or are they moved by our consistent Christianity, to imitate us each day of the week?  It is said that in the days of the early Church the pagan Romans were struck by the character of the Christians’ home-life.  We are just as much observed, for better or worse, today.

The saintly Francis of Assisi once told one of his students to accompany him as he went preaching, and all they did all day was walk through the neighborhood.  When they returned home the surprised student inquired, “I thought we were going to preach today?” to which Francis quietly replied, “We did.”