Fifth Commandment

Honor your father and mother...

I did a bit of research on the biblical concept of honor. And there is a difference in its use in reference to God and its use in reference to other people. In reference to God it refers almost universally to obedience, and worship. But in reference to people (like our father and our mother) the concept is more broad.

To be sure, the New Testament tells children to obey their parents. And this is significant when speaking about children who still live in their parent's home or who are living on the financial support of their parents. But when a self-supporting adult is addressed with the idea of honoring their parents, it is very helpful to understand the biblical concept of honoring another person.

Here is what I discovered about honoring another person as I scanned the Bible for examples.
First, see the person the way God sees that person. See them the way God designed them to be, the way He is working in their life to make them to be. Getting stuck in all the shortcomings we see in a person is a dishonor.
Second, speak to the person with the words God has for the person. God has words of grace and love. God corrects gently. God is full of patience. The way we speak to a person AND the way we speak of a person will be a major characteristic of our honor for them.
Third, treat the person as someone who is created by, loved by, and cherished by God. They are and our actions toward this person can reflect all of these attributes of God.

Maybe you have a parent or another person to begin to honor today.


The Third Commandment

Since our message yesterday, I have had a couple of you share with me ways that you think we can "elevate the renown of our personal God Yaweah in a worthless manner" (or as the NIV says - misuse the name of the Lord our God). I thought I would start a list here and see what you out there can add to it.

Let's go about this in a productive format:
God's reputation is honored when people who carry His name:
- are contributers instead of a consumers
- set aside their own reputation to advance His purposes
- avoid comparison
- work together without grumbling
- keep their conversation clean and encouraging
- mend relationships
- continually devote time to spiritual growth
- befriend the friendless
- help the helpless
- love with no strings attached
- watch over single moms, and widows
- protect the vulnerable
- maximize our opportunities to speak of God and for God

Add to the list.
OR, even better, give tangible examples.
Add as much as you would like.


Abraham and Faith

As Rhonda and I read today's reading from Through the Bible Through the Year, we embarked an an interesting conversation about faith and where Abram and Sarai succeeded and failed. At one point in the conversation I noted that I didn't think Sarai to be a very good wife. I believe that God-following couples should encourage one another toward deeper faith by the life they live out together.

Eventually our conversation addressed the issue of faith in God's will and His promises.

By the way, a few people have e-mailed me wanting me to repeat this quote for them. So in case you may wish to be reminded of the description of faith I presented on Sunday morning, here it is again. "Faith is more than trusting God for what you want. True faith is trusting God for what He wants."

So we talked about what God wants and Abraham's education about how God accomplishes it. So often we want things that are in opposition to what God wants and that creates it's own disruption in our relationship with God. But SO much more often we hear what God wants and we still get in the way of what He wants.

God's will involves multiple elements.
1. The thing God wants.
2. The time God wants to do it.
3. The way God wants to do it.
4. The people God wants to do it through.

Sarai is a perfect example of knowing what God wants: a descendant for her family. But in spite of knowing what God wanted, she managed to get in His way instead of following His lead. The very idea of giving her maid servant to her husband is ludicrous! (But then again, so was Abram's idea of calling Sarai his sister instead of his wife...) In Sarai's plan of action, she neglected 75% of God's will in pursuit of only 25%. We can only assume that her own will was somehow involved in her plan to some degree as well. She pursued what God wanted (and what she presumably wanted) but neglected God's time, His way, and he choice of persons.

From Sarai's mistake we can learn 3 good lessons. (Surely you can come up with some more.)
1. Don't get anxious for God's will to come to pass. (And, it should be noted, that we should not be overly lax either, for we can just as easily miss God's will for being comfortable where we are and not wanting to move ahead.)

2. Don't mistake our ingenuity for God's execution of His plan. (His ways are not our ways...) God, being supernatural in His very being will undoubtedly unfold His will according to his supernature instead of our simple nature. Now this is not to misunderstand God's use of natural forces to accomplish His will, but let's remember Noah and the flood. Rain is perfectly natural. Using rain to flood the known earth to the point of covering all the mountains is supernatural.

3. Never assume a role in God's plan that He has not give you (me, us). Sometimes the only role we may have in the revelation that God gives us is to pray according to that will. Obedience is our role. Do what God asks us to do and don't step ahead of that. So often (at least for me) we assume that we are the star of God's plan and that our role is the central role in His plan's unfolding. And maybe we have just one job to do along the path of that unfolding and others will do other single jobs. Paul talked about that when he referred to his relationship with Apollos and Peter. He said that he had planted the seed, Apollos had watered it, and GOD MADE IT GROW. (1 Corinthians 3:1-22)

Faith and God's will. It is our journey in this world as followers of Christ. Remember don't settle for 25%, or 50%, or anything less than His thing, His way, His time, AND His people.


Some Great Suggestions for Losing Connection with the Holy Spirit

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25

Having been a Christ-follower since childhood, I have gone through various season of distance and/or closeness with God through His Spirit. I would love to say that those experiences have made me an expert at fulfilling the Bible's instruction that I have quoted above. Instead, as I reflect, I find that I am much more skilled at keeping out of step than I am at keeping in step.

If you ever reach a place in your Christian life when you are just tired of experiencing closeness with God, dynamic effectiveness in your ministry, godly wisdom in all of your thinking, victory over temptation, and living impact from your daily quiet time, let me make a few suggestions.

1. Wallow in self-blame when things go wrong.
2. Revel in self-praise when things go right.
3. Nurse your wounds.
4. Allow bruised relationships to quietly sink into disintegration.
5. Believe the compliments of others.
6. Believe the insults of others.
7. Pray less and plan more.
8. Make your plan by copying the success of others.
9. Aim for success instead of aiming for faithful obedience.
10. And finally, read more contemporary books than you read the Bible.

I hope that these simple but effective suggestions help you...

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