Women Embracing Faith

Thinking Through the Bible

Feeling God’s Sadness:Isaiah 1 September 27, 2008

Filed under: Isaiah — womenembracingfaith @ 3:35 am
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Babies are so endearing. Such consumers of our time and money. Wonder why God gives them to us?

“‘I have nourished and brought up children,

And they have rebelled against Me;

The ox knows its owner

And the donkey its master’s crib;

But Israel does not know,

My people do not consider.

Alas, sinful nation,

A people laden with iniquity,

A brood of evildoers,

Children who are corrupters!

They have forsaken the Lord,..'” Isaiah 1:2-4

God is giving a very painful evaluation of the people who are called by His name–specifically those of Judah and its capital, Jerusalem, around 740 BC.  Most of the first part of Isaiah is a call to the Northern Kingdom of Israel to repent before the Assyrians destroy them.  But, this passage is directed toward the Southern Kingdom, Judah, whom Assyria would never conquer.  However, this passage could be applied to anyone who claims to be in relationship with God yet continues living her life her way. Or, by implication, it could be applied to any Christian church tolerating evil and corruption.

Rebellious children break parents’ hearts. After all we do and sacrifice for them! We can all relate to His pain and sorrow.

But in this case, it is the Sovereign God of the Universe who is speaking to Judah, a small insignificant nation claiming to be special to Him. Even the ox and the donkey–noted to be dumb– know who their Master is, who owns them. But this rebellious people don’t even think about that! That’s pretty arrogant, isn’t it? But, God is sorry for them.  “Alas..” They are carrying a heavy load because of their sin and corruption and rejection. They have turned their backs on their rightful Master.

What Bible themes help us apply this passage?

One of the themes is God’s Faithfulness To His People While Remaining Holy and Just. He keeps His promises to them. He will never leave them or forsake them. His compassion and patience stretch to the heavens!

Yet, another theme warns: He will not always look the other way, appearing to tolerate sin. He is Holy, distinct from others because He is perfect and just. God’s compassion is sure. It is most seen in Jesus Christ. He is our righteousness. He satisfied God’s justice.  He covered our sin.

With these themes in the back of our minds as we read this passage, we can apply them to ourselves.

Do you call yourself God’s child? Then don’t be burdened down by your sins. Throw them off and run back to your Father like the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. Your Father will throw a party! There will be joy, gladness, hope.

God gives us children so, as we raise them, we can learn something about His character, especially His love and compassion. They are created “for His own glory,” –to display what our Savior is really like. Children help us understand how God feels.  “I have nourished and brought up children and they have rebelled against me.” No one wants that feeling.

 Has your church been tolerating evil and corruption by not practicing church discipline?  These biblical principles and this particular passage urge us to turn from our sins and follow the Lord Jesus Christ both individually and corporately.

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Devotions For Children (And Their Mothers) July 2, 2008

Filed under: Teaching Tips — womenembracingfaith @ 1:26 am
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Frances Havergal wrote short devotions for children ages 5-10. Little Pillows and Starlight Through The Shadows</strong> can be read aloud so questions could be addressed on the spot, or the good reader could read them herself. (Be prepared for questions about
heaven and hell, faith, sin etc.) These devotions, written around the 1870’s, are applicable to parents as well. They are about bible verses and filled with parallel scripture.

Gail Rigg used Little Pillowsas the basis for emails to her granddaughter. She rewrote the devotion in today’s language and applied them to what was going on. You could do that too.

Don’t forget to keep them handy so you don’t have to waste time searching for them when the time is right. I used the top of the refrigerator for things like this–out of reach of kids and visible to me as a reminder to read them.

The Importance of a Warm Heart

Even though I’ve filed this under “Teaching Tips,” I think devotions are different from teaching. Devotion is about balancing the heart and the mind. Just as we need to renew our minds with biblical truth, we find our hearts in need of warmth. A cold heart in any of our relationships is a warning sign.
We are told to love our children (in Titus 2) which is with kindness and tenderness. We are to reverence our husbands (think of them highly, admire, respect), and watch out if that is done with a cold heart!

I’ve found the best way to warm my heart toward God is to hear or read or think about how God has poured his love upon me, choosing me to be his, and then dying for me, even going to hell. These little children devotions will do that for you, and hopefully, stir up the love that is within you so that you can love God and others.

That’s what I mean by balancing the mind and heart.

“Little Pillows” may be ordered from cvbbs.com

 

Finish the Story March 28, 2008

Filed under: Bible Story For Children,Family Life,Teaching Tips — womenembracingfaith @ 1:42 am
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My grandson, Benjamin, is all into Noah’s ark. Chiefly, I think, because he loves to make animal sounds! The monkey is his favorite. He is also into boats big time. So Noah’s adventures make for lively interaction.

All this is a lot of fun, but any animal story would do for that. For  spiritual profit, we need to do more than just tell fun stories. In this case, we need to add what most of the picture books leave out–the meaning of it all. The flood was a judgment of God and is a picture of the judgment to come– the wrath and justice of God sweeping away sinners. The ark saved Noah and his family, and symbolizes Jesus as our Savior.  Noah was in the ark just as believers are “in Christ” (Romans 4).  Noah found grace (unearned favor) in the sight of the Lord. He then believed God, floated to safety, and saw the rainbow as a token of God’s promise never to flood the earth again. Flood, ark, rainbow–visual images all.

Why in the world would you bring this up to a two-year-old? Every kid is different, but familiarity and repetition help all of us remember. In this case, you are giving him visual images he will never forget. Who knows how the Holy Spirit will use those simple images of judgment and salvation down the road?

Genesis 6-9 and II Peter 3 were written by Moses and Peter more than a thousand years apart. It is all for us to”grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18). Keep on believing even when others joke about it. And finish the story so your child will have these images to fall back on when the Holy Spirit convicts him of his own need to flee the judgment to come.

 

Church History and Child Care? March 5, 2008

Filed under: Church History,Family Life — womenembracingfaith @ 7:36 pm
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How in the world could church history have anything to do with today’s child care issues?

Mary Henry could tell us. Her husband wrote one of the most used and most often published Bible commentaries ever. They lived in Chester, England, two miles from the border with Wales during the late 1600’s. She came from a distinguished family. Her grandfather was Chief Justice of Chester and her father was remembered for his help to nonconforming ministers and their families. Her mother was from London. Public worship and such things as your choice of schools and jobs were all restricted by the English government which sought to suppress their “dissenting” view of Christianity. (Only the Anglicans had full freedoms in these areas. A Dissenter (or Nonconformist) was similar to today’s conservative Presbyterians or Baptists.) Matthew became a Dissenting pastor and Bible teacher anyway.

Because he was born just as the Puritan era of power came to a close, Matthew Henry is considered as a bridge between the Puritans and the 1700’s. His diary and other personal papers were preserved by his sister and Mary. These papers give us a glimpse into this Puritan approach to living just as his commentary shows us a Puritan approach to the Bible.

Mary and Matthew had eight children of their own; at least two died in infancy. In addition, he had one daughter by his first marriage. Then, when his sister and her husband died, Mary agreed to take in their four children. That makes eleven kids! I wonder what Mary could tell us about their home life and her work load! We can only imagine. Have you seen “Pride and Prejudice?” Remember the home-life confusion portrayed with only four girls?

Unlike that movie household, the Henry home was a Christian one. Matthew’s childhood home has been held up as a model for Christian families, and he sought to do the same thing with his own. I wonder what it was like to study the Old Testament in family devotions in the morning and the New Testament at night? Morning and Evening– imagine getting everyone together and quiet! Restless kids; Mary was probably nursing one most of the time; servants were also included. No wonder Matthew Henry is remembered for his ability to apply the Bible to everyday life. He had plenty of practice. And don’t get the idea he was at home all day. He preached elsewhere six days a week.

This example of day by day reading and explaining the scriptures to children of all ages is the lesson glimpsed from church history for today’s care of children. It leaves us looking foolish as we excuse our failure to have family Bible studies. But, don’t try to copy someone from the 1600’s. Adapt the principle to your own life. We need to lead our children to God through Bible study and family worship. That is not so easy, but it wasn’t so easy then either. Mary was widowed after only twenty-four years of marriage. I bet she was thankful they did what they could during those family days in Cheshire County, England.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary can help you. Google Matthew Henry. Find the verses you are teaching your kids about. See how his explanations are amazingly applicable to your life right now. He teaches sound doctrine in such a way that God is exalted and we are helped. It is a quick, handy tool to use to care for your children. And it is at your finger-tips.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

(See J. B. Williams, The Life of the Reverend Matthew Henry, (Bridge-Logos, Gainesville, Fl., reprint of 1828), 2004.)