An Excellent Wife

August 21, 2022 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Marriage, Meditations

Proverbs 12:4 

4An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones. 

The Proverbs direct us in the way of wisdom and teach us what it is to imitate the character of our Lord and Savior Jesus. Even as Proverbs 12 has contrasted those who love instruction with those who hate correction and the good man with the wicked man, so today it contrasts an excellent wife with a shameful wife. 

The Scriptures extol marriage as one of the greatest gifts that God has given to humanity and an excellent wife as one of the greatest gifts that God gives to an individual man. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord” (Prov 18:22). “Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord” (19:14). Marriage is among God’s greatest gifts to humanity because it is “a great mystery” (Eph 5:32) that symbolizes the relationship between Christ and His Church. The husband images Christ while the wife images the Church. Wives, therefore, are called to reveal in their lives the way that the Church relates to Christ Himself. As Paul writes to the Ephesians:

22Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 

An important biblical distinction is between indicatives and imperatives. Indicatives are statements of fact while imperatives are commands. “Christ died for sinners” is an indicative. “Believe in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins,” is an imperative. So note in Paul’s instructions that we have both an indicative and an imperative.

The indicative is “the husband is the head of the wife.” This is the way that God has structured the marriage relationship. God created the woman to be a helper comparable to the man – to assist the man in fulfilling his calling to fill the earth and subdue it. So if you are a wife this is your identity. It is not an imperative, it is an indicative: your husband is your head. Hence, God united you with him to be a helper comparable to him – to assist him in fulfilling his calling to fill the earth and subdue it. That is his calling; your calling is to help him achieve it.

So what is the imperative that emerges from this indicative? Paul is very clear. “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Now the Greek behind this word “submit” means “submit.” Paul clarifies later, “Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” So how does the Church submit to Christ? By listening to Him, honoring Him, obeying Him, praising Him, respecting Him. If you are a wife, it is in this way that you are to relate to your husband – you are to submit to him as to the Lord, and to be subject to him in everything. Listen to him about the finances, training the children, relating to your friends, cleaning the house, working outside the home, etc. Now all this entails, husbands, an immense responsibility on your part to rule your household as would Christ Himself who is the head and Savior of the body – sacrificing for the protection and blessing of His bride. But our text today speaks to wives not husbands.

So, wives, you are to extol the beauty of the Church in the way you relate to your husband. Such a wife, a wife who clearly honors and respects and submits to her husband, is an excellent wife and, Proverbs declares, the crown of her husband. She demonstrates that her husband is a true king, capable of ruling his family and the world under God.

But, Proverbs insists, a shameful wife is rottenness to the bones. A wife who disrespects her husband, who scorns him in public and in private, who manipulates and cajoles him, who nags and berates him, who refuses to listen to his voice is rottenness to the bones – wearing him down, increasing his stress level, and undermining his ability to accomplish the tasks to which God has called him. He is weakened – and when a storm comes he will likely break just like a rotten branch or tree.

So what of you? If you are a wife, are you striving to be an excellent wife, a crown of glory on your husband’s head, enabling him to fulfill his calling? Or are you a shameful wife, rottenness to his bones, inhibiting his ability to do what God has called him to do? Reminded that our marriages are to extol the relationship between Christ and His Church and that many of us husbands and wives have failed to live up to our callings, let us confess our sin to the Lord.

A Good Man

August 14, 2022 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations

Proverbs 12:2–3 

2A good man obtains favor from the Lord, But a man of wicked intentions He will condemn. 3A man is not established by wickedness, But the root of the righteous cannot be moved. 

The Proverbs direct us in the way of wisdom and teach us what it is to imitate the character of our Lord and Savior Jesus. Last week Solomon contrasted those who love instruction with those who hate correction. This week he contrasts a “good” or “righteous” man with a “wicked” man. 

Now, on one level, the Scriptures tell us that “there is none righteous, no, not one… There is none who does good, no, not one” (Rom 3:10b, 12b). We have all turned aside and by nature both our actions and our motives are corrupt. Apart from God’s grace, we all have, in Solomon’s words, wicked intentions. The two greatest commandments are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Hence, we are to do everything we do – changing diapers, building houses, fixing cars, teaching children, managing investments, running electrical wire – we are to do everything we do with good intentions – out of love for God and neighbor. 

However, by nature, we none of us live that way. We worship idols and love ourselves more than our neighbors. We justify lying or cheating or stealing; we break our vows, mistreat our children, and dishonor our parents; we do shoddy work, use foul language, and commit adultery because we do not live from love of God and neighbor. Hence, we endure God’s condemnation in this life and the next – our conscience afflicts us, our bodies betray us, God’s moral law condemns us, and Jesus Christ will judge us when we die and appear before His judgment seat. A man is not established by wickedness.

Nevertheless, the Scriptures also teach that when God saves us and delivers us from our natural corruption through faith in Jesus, when He turns us from the worship of idols to the worship of His Name, He begins to transform our character. As we have been emphasizing recently, we become like what we worship. And so, because the God we worship is a good God who upholds righteousness, those who worship Him become good men who likewise uphold righteousness. 

As we learn to live this way, as we learn to become good men who uphold righteousness, we obtain favor from the Lord (12:2). God is pleased with us. So Paul prayed for the Colossians that they “may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col 1:10). As we learn to fulfill the two greatest commandments – to live out of love for God and neighbor – we please God. And because we trust in the Lord and walk in obedience to His Word, Solomon insists that we cannot be moved. Even if we suffer for righteousness’ sake, we are blessed (cf. 1 Pet 4:16). And when we die and enter into the presence of our Lord, He will say to us, “Well done thou good and faithful servant… Enter into the joy of your Master” (Mt 25:21). The root of the righteous cannot be moved. 

This contrast between the good man and the wicked man recalls Psalm 1. The good man is like a tree planted by streams of water whose leaf does not wither and in whatever he does he prospers. He meditates on God’s law and lives out of love for Him. His roots absorb water from the everlasting fountain of God’s grace and so he flourishes even in times of drought or trial. But the wicked are not so. They are like the chaff which the wind drives away; therefore, the wicked shall not stand in the day of judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

So what of you? Are you sinking your roots deep in our Triune God and in His word so that you can stand firm in prosperity and trial? Are you being intentional about living out of love for God and your neighbor? Or have your loves become disordered? Are you loving self more than your neighbor and loving your neighbor more than God? 

Reminded that we are to be good men who live righteously out of love for God and neighbor, not wicked men with wicked intentions whose loves are disordered, let us confess that our intentions are often corrupt and that we need God to forgive us and transform into His image, into the image of our good God who upholds righteousness

Instruction & Correction

August 7, 2022 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations, Wisdom

Proverbs 12:1 

1Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid. 

The Proverbs direct us in the way of wisdom and teach us what it is to imitate the character of our Lord and Savior Jesus. Today we begin a series of exhorations through Proverbs 12. In v. 1, Solomon contrasts two types of men, men who are characterized by their loves and hates.

It is important to emphasize that love and hate are not, in themselves, virtues or vices. Though we often think of love as inherently virtuous and hate as vicious, the truth is that their praiseworthiness is determined by their object. To love Jesus; to love your wife and children; to love Scripture; to love truthfulness – all these loves are virtuous. However, to love wickedness, to love deceit, to love cruelty – these loves are perverse. Similarly, while it is vile to hate God, to hate the righteous, to hate truth and goodness and beauty, it is praiseworthy to hate deceitfulness, murder, covetousness, and sushi. God summons us, therefore, to be men and women and children who both love and hate – who love what is lovely and hate what is vile. 

So, on the one hand, Solomon lauds the man who loves instruction. So what does it mean to love instruction? I think we know. Kids, if you have a friend who loves pizza or loves soccer or loves Xbox, what does that mean? It means that your friend can’t get enough pizza, that he eagerly plays or watches or studies soccer games and scores, that he regularly seeks opportunities to play Xbox with his friends. So what would it mean to love instruction? It means he is eager to learn more and more. He readily listens to those wiser and more knowledgable than him. He cultivates a listening ear and an inquisitive heart. He wants to learn more of God’s Word, more of God’s world, more of his occupation. So he reads, he listens, he watches, he asks questions all in order to learn. This person, the one who loves instruction, likewise, Solomon tells us, loves knowledge. He grows in knowledge because he loves instruction. Tell me more; give me more; I want to grow.

On the other hand is the man who hates correction. This man thinks he knows it all. He is proud and unteachable. He refuses to listen to those wiser than himself. He closes his ears. “Yes, I know, I know,” he says even though it is evident that he does not. This man, Solomon tells us, is stupid. He is like a beast not a man. 

So what of you? Do you love instruction? Do you look for opportunities to learn? Let’s say you don’t know much about the Bible – are you striving to learn more, reading more, listening more? Let’s say you’re a new parent – are you asking seasoned parents for wisdom, reading good books, listening to good teaching? Let’s say you’re married – do you love to learn more about what makes a good marriage and how to make your marriage grow and flourish? Let’s say you’re an employee – do you strive to learn more about your job so that you can bless your employer more and more? Do you love instruction or do you hate it?

Do you hate correction? When your parents correct you, do you listen and repent or do you become sullen and angry? When your boss criticizes your work, do you listen and strive to get better or do you think you know it all? When your husband exhorts you, do you listen or do you become bitter and resentful? When your elders correct you, do you listen or do you just pack up your bags and find another church? Do you love correction or do you hate it?

Reminded that we are to love what is lovely and hate what is vile, let us confess to the Lord that our loves and hates are often disordered and distorted. Let us acknowlege, in particular, that we often hate instruction and correction, that we are stupid creatures. And as we confess our sin to the Lord, let us kneel as we are able. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

The Key to Long Life and Fruitfulness

August 8, 2021 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations, Wisdom

Proverbs 10:27–30 

27The fear of the Lord prolongs days, But the years of the wicked will be shortened. 28The hope of the righteous will be gladness, But the expectation of the wicked will perish. 29The way of the Lord is strength for the upright, But destruction will come to the workers of iniquity. 30The righteous will never be removed, But the wicked will not inhabit the earth. 

What is the key to long life and fruitfulness? This is a pressing question that our generation continues to ask. However, because we have turned away from the Living God, our answers are many and vacuous. We suggest that the key is public education, or sexual liberation, or social justice, or state funded health care, or confiscatory taxation, or particular diets, or essential oils, or violating our marriage oaths. In our polytheistic culture, everyone seems to have their own answer.

But Solomon tells us that the correct answer is the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord prolongs days. It is the one who hopes in the Lord that will experience gladness; the one who walks in the Lord’s ways, observing His moral law, that will be strong; the one who listens to the Word of God and implements it, that will never be moved. As David teaches us to sing in Psalm 1 – Blessed is the man who delights in the law of the Lord…he shall be like a tree planted by streams of living water, which yields its fruit in its season and does not wither. The key to long life and fruitfulness is the fear of the Lord for the righteous has an everlasting foundation. When the winds blow and the rains fall, it is the one who builds his house on the rock, who hears the words of Christ and does them, who will stand. Indeed, even if he perishes in this life, he knows that when Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead, he will be raised eternal and will serve the Lord in gladness forever. The fear of the Lord prolongs days.

So what is it that will bring death and desolation? Is it climate change, overpopulation, intolerance and discrimination, sexual repression, an unhappy marriage, poverty, capitalism, processed foods, vaccinations? Solomon tells us that the correct answer is wickedness: the years of the wicked will be shortened, his expectation will perish. The one who works iniquity, who violates God’s moral law, will be destroyed and will not inherit the earth. As David teaches us to sing in Psalm 1 – The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. Though the wicked may prosper for a time, God will bring their plans and expectations to naught. He will destroy them and the earth will vomit them out. They are like a foolish man who builds his house upon sand – when the rains and floods come, his house will be destroyed. And this destruction will reach its culmination when Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead. The wicked will be judged according to the things written in the books and they will perish eternally. The years of the wicked will be shortened. 

So where have you placed your hope for long life? What do your habits and passions reveal about your beliefs? Have you been distracted by the cacophany of voices surrounding us? Or have you remained centered on the answer that Solomon gives? Is the majority of your time devoted to knowing and serving God, to understanding His moral law and obeying His precepts, or have you become distracted by other things? Where have you placed your hope? 

Reminded that righteousness is the key to long life and fruitfulness, and that wickedness brings destruction, let us confess that as Americans we have abandoned the living God and embraced wickedness, and let us confess that we, the Church in America, have become confused by the foolish answers given by our neighbors. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin. As we confess our sins to the Lord, let us kneel together as you are able.

The Folly of a Rushed Conclusion

June 27, 2021 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations, Satan, Wisdom

Proverbs 18:13, 17

13He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him… 17The first one to plead his cause seems right, Until his neighbor comes and examines him. 

Frank and Deuce were neighbors and as they were both fairly young men just setting out in life neither had a family. But being ranchers, they worked hard – sunup to sundown on their ranches. And they often helped one another – sometimes one pair of hands just wasn’t enough.

One day another neighbor, Dolosus by name, who owned a large spread immediately south of Frank and Deuce paid Frank a visit.

“Howdy, Frank,” Dolosus greeted and then asked with a hint of concern in his voice, “Is everything okay down here on your ranch?”

“Why yes, thank you, everything seems to be just fine. Why do you ask?” Frank replied.

“Oh, it’s probably nothing,” Dolosus assured him good-naturedly.

“What’s probably nothing?” asked Frank, getting a bit concerned.

“Well,” Dolosus confided, “Deuce mentioned to me today at the store that he was tired of sharing the creek with you and was planning to stop it up with a dam and make a pond.”

“What?!” Frank demanded. “He’d never do such a thing!”

“Well,” said Dolosus with a sympathetic look, “I’m sorry to say that I saw him purchasing the supplies today – posts, supports, … Go see for yourself – I think you’ll see him putting the posts in now.”

And sure enough, when Frank climbed the bank to where he could see Deuce’s ranch there was Deuce putting posts in the ground right near the creek. Frank got so mad, steaming and stewing on Deuce’s audacity, that he grabbed his shotgun out of the house and set out across the field, making a beeline for Deuce. 

Deuce was so busy working on the fence that he never noticed Frank’s approach. He jumped when Frank yelled at him from just a few feet away, “You lousy neighbor!” Deuce had just enough time to turn around and see the shotgun aimed his way before Frank pulled the trigger and shot him dead. 

With grim satisfaction Frank looked at Deuce’s dead body sprawled on the ground. And it was then that he noticed the barbed wire that lay beside Deuce’s corpse – and then that he became aware of the awful truth: Deuce hadn’t been making a dam. He had been building the barbed wire fence the two of them had discussed only last week.

At that moment the Sheriff happened to arrive – it seems Dolosus had notified him there might be some trouble. The Sheriff clapped Frank in irons and led him off to be hanged. Dolosus smiled grimly as Frank passed by. He couldn’t wait for the auctioneer to put the two men’s farms up for sale. He had always thought they’d make a nice addition to his own spread.

Solomon tells us that he who listens to only one side of the story rarely gets the whole story. And the problem arises when we make conclusions based on only one side of the story. Like Dolosus, Satan delights to stir up trouble – for his own advantage, of course. And one of the ways he succeeds is by convincing us to act on inadequate information. So, this morning, let us confess that we have often proven as foolish as Frank. And, as you are able, let us kneel together as we confess. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

The Mystery of a Man with a Maid

February 14, 2021 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Covenantal Living, Love, Marriage, Meditations, Sexuality

Proverbs 30:18-19
18 There are three things which are too wonderful for me, Yes, four which I do not understand: 19 The way of an eagle in the air, The way of a serpent on a rock, The way of a ship in the midst of the sea, And the way of a man with a maid.

The world that God has made is full of wonders – wonders in the air, wonders on land, wonders in the sea, and wonders among men. Since today is Valentine’s Day, the day our culture has historically celebrated the wonder of romantic love, I thought I would meditate upon, as Solomon calls it, the way of a man with a maid..

There are few things more evident about young men than that they begin to develop a rather keen interest in young women. Proverbs 30 reminds us that this interest is good. After all, it was God who designed man and woman to be together. He said that it was not good when the man was alone; He put the man to sleep and extracted a rib from his side; He crafted and shaped the woman; He presented her to the man. God designed the affection that men and women have one for another.

So perfect was the design, that when God presented Eve to Adam, he spoke his first words. And these weren’t just run of the mill words. No, they were astonished words, glorious words, affectionate words – words of wonder, words of poetry:

This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh,
She shall be called woman Because she was taken out of man.

The first couple was designed by God and celebrated by man. And every couple since has been His handiwork as well. Wedded love is a gift from God, one of the best gifts from God to man.

Evolutionary culture would have us believe that the attraction of a man and woman for one another is a mere matter of biology. We are mere animals and the sight of certain things arouses us. But as Solomon meditates upon God’s gift of love, and the gift of lovers, he confesses that it is all mystery – not biology.

18 There are three things which are too wonderful for me, Yes, four which I do not understand: 19 The way of an eagle in the air, The way of a serpent on a rock, The way of a ship in the midst of the sea, And the way of a man with a maid.

How is it that a man otherwise taciturn and sullen, suddenly awakens and becomes sociable and amiable? How is it that a man directionless and purposeless, suddenly develops a clear and distinct vision? How is it that a man intent and disciplined, suddenly forgets himself, finds it difficult to focus, and is distracted from his work? And how is it that any man convinces a maid to love him and covenant with him?

All these things, Solomon confesses, are a mystery – but not because they are petty and foolish, rather because they are glorious and wonderful. We often marvel at the fool who wastes his life with drugs, drink, or gaming. Sin is a mystery. But this is not the type of mystery that confronts us when considering the way of a man with a maid – no this is a mystery of God’s making. It is a marvel like eagles in the air, serpents on a rock, and ships in the sea.

So, young men, God himself gave you the desire to be with a woman. Desiring to earn the hand of a woman is a good and noble thing. But a woman whose hand is worth having is a woman who makes you earn it – so be purposeful, be intent, be honorable – and treat all the women in your life with respect until God in His grace and kindness gives you one specific woman upon whom to shower your affections.

And older men, let us not forget the ardor with which we pursued the woman by our side. Let us remember that she is a gift of God – and let us continue to pursue her to the glory of God and the beautification of our bride.

Reminded that we often despise the gifts of God, that we often seek His gifts in unlawful ways, that we often fail to thank Him for the gifts that He has given, let us kneel as we are able and confess our sin to Him. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

The Delight of Discipline

February 7, 2021 in Authority, Bible - OT - Proverbs, Children, Covenantal Living, Human Condition, Judgment, Lord's Day, Meditations, Parents, Responsibility

Proverbs 29:17 (NKJV)

17 Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul.

Last week we insisted that a good father, an earthly father who imitates our Father in heaven, will discipline his children for their good. A loving father does not discipline out of frustration or anger or impatience. Outbursts of wrath are not the fruit of the Spirit but the works of the flesh. Such outbursts do not reflect the loving discipline of our Heavenly Father but the perverse self-interest of Satan and his minions. For, as James reminds us, the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

While our discipline of our children is not to be self-centered, there is a blessing that comes to those parents who discipline their children. It is to this blessing that Solomon points us today, Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul.” A wise son gives delight to the soul, gives a deep and abiding sense of comfort or, as Solomon puts it, rest. Parents have no greater joy than to see their children joyfully serving the Lord and walking uprightly. “My son, if your heart is wise, My heart will rejoice—indeed, I myself; Yes, my inmost being will rejoice When your lips speak right things” (Prov 23:15-16).

But note that this delight and rest are the fruits of godly discipline. “Correct your son, and he will give you rest…” A child left to himself when young rarely brings delight when old. So Solomon urges you, “Chasten your son while there is hope, And do not set your heart on his destruction” (Prov 19:18). Now, while your children are young and the concrete is still wet, discipline and train them so that, when the concrete sets, it doesn’t have to be destroyed. Use your lips, in love, to correct your son. Use the rod, in love, to correct your son. And if you want to know how to do that faithfully, then contact Bob or Jackie and join their upcoming parenting class; seek out older mentors who can give you wisdom.

The fact that we parents are to train our children to be a blessing, reminds us that untrained children are a curse. Children, considered in the abstract, are a blessing from God and the fruit of the womb is His reward (Psalm 127:3). However, parents who fail to train their children take that blessing and twist it into a curse. “A foolish son is a grief to his father, And bitterness to her who bore him” (Prov 17:25). Untrained children are a curse and a grief to mother and father as well as to others. So be diligent to train your children that they may be a delight. This is one way that you love your neighbor as yourself. Who enjoys being in the company of a child that lacks self-control, that refuses to listen to correction, or that is a regular disruption? No one. So if you don’t like it, then love your neighbor as yourself by training your own children so that they are not like that.

And, children, notice what your calling is. Your calling is to learn the lessons that your parents are teaching you. Give heed to their verbal corrections; welcome their discipline; and strive to bring joy to your parents and to others by growing in wisdom and maturity. Little children, pray that you may be like your Lord Jesus who “grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him” (Lk 2:40). Teens, be like your Lord Jesus who “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Lk 2:52).

Reminded that discipline is to train us to bring joy to others, let us acknowledge that we often fail to bring the joy that we ought; we often fail to grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. So let us confess our sin to the Lord, seeking His forgiveness through Jesus Christ. And, as you are able, let us kneel as we confess. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Other-Centered Discipline

January 31, 2021 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Children, Covenantal Living, Discipline, Love, Meditations, Parents, Wisdom

Proverbs 3:11-12

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights”

The Word of God assures us that God is absolutely sovereign, absolutely in control of each and every event, good or bad, which befalls us. Hence, even when we are experiencing a severe trial, we can be assured that it comes from the hand of God. As Job reminded his wife, “The Lord gives; the Lord takes away…” (Job 1:21; 2:10).

So why do such trials come? Do they come because God hates us? If you are in Christ, the answer to that question is, “Absolutely not!” If you are in Christ, then Solomon assures you that the Lord sends trials to correct you because He loves you. “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Prov 3:11-12 cf. Heb 12:5-6). God corrects us because He is a good Father who loves us. It was this knowledge that enabled Jacob to endure under Laban’s evil schemes; that fortified Joseph with joy and hope despite the treachery of his brothers, the lies of Potiphar’s wife, and the forgetfulness of the cupbearer; that emboldened Israel to cry out to God while suffering under Pharaoh’s heavy hand; and that comforted our Lord Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Whom the Lord loves He corrects.

So notice what this means for earthly fathers. A righteous father, one who loves and cherishes his children, is concerned for his child’s spiritual and personal growth and maturity. Consequently, a righteous father corrects his son. He knows that “foolishness is bound up in the heart of his child” (Prov 22:15) and so he uses “the rod of discipline” to “drive” this foolishness far away from him. He wants his child to receive God’s blessing. And this blessing only comes to those who have been trained in the ways of righteousness and self-control.

So fathers, how are you doing? Are you engaged with the discipline of your children? Are you concerned for them even as your Heavenly Father is for you? A loving father disciplines his children. “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Pr 13:24). And loving discipline, discipline that glorifies our Father in heaven, that imitates His character toward His children, must always be for the good of our children. Our discipline must be designed to bless them and strengthen them; to train them in righteousness and self-control; to make them ever more faithful servants of Christ Jesus. Biblical discipline, discipline that imitates our Heavenly Father, is a gift not a noose. God commanded Israel, “You shall not boil a kid [a baby goat] in its mother’s milk.” Yet how many children have been destroyed by the very discipline that should have been the means of blessing them?

So what are ways we can be tempted to distort the gift of discipline? Our chief temptation is to discipline our children not for their good but for our good. So we discipline them to get them out of our hair – to prevent them from disturbing our tranquility or our enjoyment of some other activity. Or we discipline them because we are frustrated with ourselves or with our day at work – we take out our frustration on them. Or we discipline them because we are concerned about what others might think of us, perhaps because we are embarrassed by our child’s behavior. In all these cases, the discipline is for us rather than for them.

Note carefully, however, that this is not how our Heavenly Father treats us. Therefore, if we discipline our children in this self-centered fashion, we are preaching a false Gospel, a Gospel that says, “God is so concerned about Himself that He lashes out at those who irritate Him.” Let us rather teach a true Gospel, a Gospel that says, “God is so satisfied in Himself and filled with love for His sons that He disciplines them for their good.”

And for you children out there, remember that this passage teaches you an important lesson – if your parents love you, they will discipline you. It is the permissive parent, the parent who says, “Oh do what you like I don’t really care” who truly doesn’t care. So when your parents limit your screen time, when they rebuke your attitude, when they spank you for disobeying them, when they give you consequences for your behavior, when they question your choice of friends or music or movies, be sure to thank them for loving you and caring for you. Discipline is a gift – and we all know what we’re supposed to say when we receive a gift, don’t we? Haven’t your parents trained you to say, “Thank you!”?

Reminded that the Lord chastens those He loves even as a father the son in whom he delights, let us confess that, as parents, we often fail to train our children as we ought, and that, as children, we often fail to thank God for disciplining us. And, as we confess our sin, let us kneel as we are able before the Lord. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Blessed and Cursed Marriages

January 24, 2021 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Love, Marriage, Meditations, Politics, Trials

Proverbs 31:10, 23

10Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies… 23Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land.

As we begin this new year, I want to deliver a couple exhortations regarding family life, first marriage and then children. The book of Proverbs regularly extols the blessedness of marriage. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord” (18:22). “Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, But a prudent wife is from the Lord” (19:14). When God created Adam in the Garden, it was God Himself who declared that the man alone was not good. Consequently, God put the man to sleep, crafted Eve from one of his ribs, and presented her to the man. God created marriage and blessed it – for the mutual advantage of both husband and wife. A man who finds a virtuous wife finds a treasure more valuable than rubies; and a woman who finds a righteous man derives great honor from her marriage to him.

While the Scriptures extol the blessing of marriage, they regularly extol its dangers as well. Marriage in itself is a blessing for the world, a good gift from a generous God. However, an unhappy marriage is a curse. Hence, when I have done pre-marital counseling, I regularly tell couples, “The only thing worse than being single and unhappy is being married and unhappy.” So Solomon warns us, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones” (Prov 12:4). And even as a wife who causes shame is a misery to her husband, so a husband who causes shame is a misery to his wife. When David was determined to destroy Nabal’s entire household because of Nabal’s folly, Nabal’s wife Abigail pleaded with David, “Please, let not my lord regard this scoundrel Nabal. For as his name is, so is he; Nabal [Fool] is his name, and folly is with him!” (1 Sam 25:25) Better not to marry at all than to marry a foolish man or woman.

As we commence a new year, therefore, give heed to a few exhortations. First, single, marriageable men and women – so develop your character that should God see fit to bless you with a spouse, you prove a blessing to your spouse and not a curse. Rarely does marriage radically transform the character of a man or woman; more commonly, marriage reveals your character. Marriage takes the musical chords you have been playing while single and plugs them into an amplifier. Hence, if you are indulging selfishness or impatience or lust or greed or anger now, that spirit will plague your marriage. Consecrate your life to the service of Christ and cultivate a godly character that you may prove a blessing and not a curse to your future spouse.

Second, married men – so develop your character that your wife be proud to be married to you. Your wife is called to respect you. So be respectable. Cultivate such wisdom and godly character that others want your counsel, solicit your direction, and imitate your character. A wife doesn’t want a husband who follows in her wake but a husband who loves her by leading her, providing for her and protecting her. Earn her respect by stepping up to the plate and doing so. Push yourself and stretch yourself to be a better man.

Finally, married women – so develop your character that you make it easy for your husband to love and lead you. Ground yourself in Christ and imitate Lady Wisdom in Proverbs. Routinely take the log out of your own eye before attempting to take the speck out of your husband’s. Beware being a dripping faucet. Beware being cold sexually. Beware exposing your husband’s faults to others. Make his home a haven to which he may return regularly with joy and not resignation. Enable your husband to put his full trust in you.

Reminded that marriage to an honorable man or virtuous woman is God’s good gift to us, let us confess that we often fail to cultivate the character necessary to be a blessing to our spouse; and, as we confess our sin, let us kneel as we are able before the Lord. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.