Parents and children together

Ephesians 6:1-4

Everyone born into this world has a purpose to fulfill, and a role to play in their predestined environments. No matter what stage a person resides in life, there are certain commands God expects all people to obey, so they can grow in His grace, and maintain good standing in His sight. Even children were commanded to obey their parents, but to the extent that their parents live according to godly standards. Children are always expected to honor and respect those who fulfill the role of guardian over them, but when provoked to do things displeasing to God, the child is not required to follow unwise, and unhealthy orders. Obeying those parents who walk by faith is right, and adds blessings to the life of a child, including health and well being, and the promise of long life. This makes me wonder why many children are dying so young. Could it be the result of disobedience to their parents or guardians? It’s a good possibility.

The role of a parent is essential to the development and growth of the child. In addition, God gives special favor to parents who train up their children according to His Word. When they began to flap their wings and attempt to fly on their own, they’ll never forget those valuable lessons they were once taught as children.

The most interesting thing I noticed in this lesson’s text is, God’s command that fathers provoke not their children to wrath, but raise them up according to godly training, education, discipline, warning, admonition, and reproof. God intended for the father to teach their household His Word. While the mother is usually responsible for nurturing, and caring for the physical needs of her children, the father is expected to keep the house filled with God’s Word. What kind of world would this be, if fathers were actually obeying this simple command? One of the reasons I’ve learn why young boys have a disconnect from God the Father is, they also have a disconnect from their earthly fathers as well. The devil’s job is to break up families, and homes, but he works diligently to sever the relationship between a father and son. Young boys need to see godly examples, especially through their own fathers. In this way, they’ll develop a greater appreciation, not only for their natural father, but also for the God of Heaven.

Good parents oftentimes produce good children, while cruel parents usually have not so good offspring (I’m fully aware there are exceptions to both examples). One simple lesson parents should grasp early on in their parenthood is, the difference between correction, and punishment. Punishing children stems from the root of the principle of revenge, whereas correction is from a principle of care and affectionate concern. The minds of children are fragile, yet super absorbent, so it’s important that parents monitor what they teach, and how they deliver it to their children, because kids soak in everything they see and hear. It’s wise to expose young minds to as much of God’s Word as possible, so that they’ll gradually develop a better understanding of holiness as they age.

Psalms 127:3 – Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Isaiah 54:13 – And all thy children [shall be] taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

Proverbs 13:24 – He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

Proverbs 17:6 – Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.

Walk in love,

Ell

Live as children of light

Ephesians 5:6-20

When given the opportunity to minister to a new believer, what advice do you usually give them? Do your words motivate them to build up a desire to run hard for the Lord, or do you spook them with your version of how life is, and cause them to cringe in fear? The apostle Paul cared little for the feelings of those he taught, and more about strengthening their faith and trust in God. Although he was sensitive to their thoughts and curiosities, he never wavered from delivering the God-honest truth.

To the Ephesians, Paul gave some of the best advice any Christian could ever receive. Recognizing the times, Paul thought it necessary that the people remain guarded against deceivers, and those who practiced disobedience. During those days, men would try hard to turn people away from following after godliness by presenting false doctrines, and teachings that appeared legit on the surface, but their intentions were evil, and motives set on manipulating the minds of those who hungered after righteousness. As the children of God, we are not to be partakers of, nor participate in the habits of those who have no fear and reverence for God. Only with the mind of Christ, can the body be in sync, and function as a single, purposeful unit. Mixing your godliness with worldliness creates unstable character, and causes you to do things contrary to what you believe.

Paul admonished his audience to not even get involved with those who’s aim is to deceive, distract, and destroy the believer’s faith in God. He continued to teach, although the people were to refrain from joining themselves with those who worked in darkness, they too were once lost in their sins at one point in time, so it’s never good to judge, rather pray that God change evil men’s hearts from wicked to pure. Walking as children of light is a sure way to expose those who operate in darkness. Just as a light that’s turned on in the wee hours of the night exposes all the cockroaches holding meetings in your kitchen, the life of the believer will no doubt cause evil men to feel conviction, simply from the way they live. There are times when you’ll have an opportunity to witness to others with your words, but sometimes your life can speak louder than your words ever could.

Every day a Christian is granted the breath of life, and health, he or she should always be alert, and carry themselves in such a way, that their conduct and character mirrors that of Jesus Christ. We are to remain sober, so that our thoughts are pure, and our actions always please God. Paul touched on a subject that’s sensitive even today. Many Christians believe that drinking a little wine is good for one’s health, and that there’s no sin in doing so, but Paul commanded that the people keep themselves from getting drunk, and entering into all kinds of immoral acts. The Bible teaches that “wine is a mocker, and strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1). God has given us the spirit of a sound mind, so that we can make decisions motivated by the Holy Ghost, and not by ungodly influences. The mind is a terrible thing to waste, and we must guard against allowing evil entities to invade, and take residence in our thoughts too long, and potentially cause us to fall into snares of sin.

God is holy, and those who bear His name have a responsibility to live holy as well. The world needs to see a difference between themselves, and those who claim to be in God, because when they finally tire out from running in circles of sin and cycles of iniquity, they’ll look to us to guide them to the Light of the world.

Walk in love,

Ell

Capable wife and supportive husband

Proverbs 31:16-31

One of the most misrepresented, misquoted, and misunderstood passages of Scripture can be found in Proverbs 31. This text introduces the “virtuous woman”, and mentions a list of amazing attributes she can potentially exhibit. The virtuous woman isn’t a specific woman per se, rather an embodiment of all the good things a woman who fears God is capable of accomplishing.

According to the words of king Lemuel, that were taught by his mother, there are 31 characteristics of a virtuous woman. The woman who fears and shows reverence to God is first morally perfect, also invaluable, trustworthy, inherently good and true, proficient, hardworking, considerate, versatile, diligent, joyful, watchful, skillful, charitable, generous, fearless, creative, has good taste, respected, prosperous, honest, confident, wise, kind, prudent, energetic, an ideal wife and mother, honored by her family, excels in virtue, God-fearing, successful, and honored by the public. After reading this list, how many women can you count on your hand, that has at least ten of those noteworthy qualities?

A virtuous woman is focused, and desires only to please God, and carry out her role as a wife, mother, and neighbor. Oftentimes, women are distracted by things that are unimportant, that shift their focus from caring for the needs of their family, to finding ways to enjoy life in other ways. Life can be fulfilling simply by obeying the will of God, and operating in your role as a wife. You don’t have to travel the world, see all the wonders of other countries, or jump from planes to get a thrill, instead, being the best wife and mother can offer a personal satisfaction that is unmatched by anything else.

The husband of the virtuous woman has complete confidence in her. A real man recognizes a real woman, and has the wisdom to understand that rather than keep her from excelling in all her dealings, he shows support and offers assistance as needed. When the wife produces, the husband is blessed as well. In the same sense, when the husband produces, the wife is blessed equally. It’s sad to witness how in these end-times, women are catering more to their outward appearance, than their inner-man. The longer we live, the more our wrinkles appear, and beauty will slowly fade away, but the woman who fears the Lord will be honored, praised, and respected in her latter years.

Throughout today, and the rest of your life, ask God for the wisdom you need to fulfill your role as a wife, mother, and neighbor. It’s also wise to seek advice from other godly women as well, but only follow what God reveals as essential to your purpose and success.

Walk in love,

Ell

We will serve the Lord

Joshua 24:14-18

If you had the option to start life over, and choose between two lives; one where you’re given all the things you could ever desire, including money, fame, wealth, health, and success, but that life ends in eternal damnation, or the life that guarantees suffering, pain, and persecution, with occasional moments of joy, but that life ends in eternal glory, provision, and peace; which would you choose? Men today are following the example of those in the past, who believed they’d benefit more by following strange and perverted gods, over the God of all creation. While it seems, at times, that following the God of Heaven causes us to suffer and experience moments of pain and shame more often than blessings, while living according to worldly standards offer more appeal, God’s love is pure and He offers a better end, while satan only holds us back, long enough for us to miss Heaven in the end.

In this life, there are only two religions; one that is aligned with godliness, and the other that’s anti-God, and supports sin and ungodliness. There are many names associated with man-made religions today, but at the heart of what religion really is, centers around whether one believes in God, or not. According to James 1:27, godly religion is defined as this, “pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world”. In other words, we are to be selfless, and humble, while caring for the needs of others in our daily living.

In the beginning, Able offered to God of the firstlings of his flock, and the Lord had respect unto Able and his offering, because of his faith, and the right kind of sacrifice. On the other hand, Cain offered a sacrifice that God disapproved of, and had no respect for, because he gave to Him a cheap and selfish offering. In my opinion, this is where the two religions originated, one where God was honored and reverence, and the other where self was exalted and promoted over God.

Our text discusses the time when Joshua presented to the people of God the opportunity to make a final decision on who they would ultimately serve; God, or satan. He reminded the people of the time when those before them submitted to serving other gods, in contrast to how God blessed Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses for being obedient to His will. God protected their forefathers from evil, yet they willingly chose to go after those same evil entities after being delivered from them. What a shame. As Joshua stood before the people, he made it plain that whether they chose to live for God or not, he and his house would undoubtedly serve the Lord. He realized that the only way to serve God was through fear, sincerity, and truth, which aids in the putting away of the false gods which the people’s forefathers once served in the past.

The people gathered before Joshua made six confessions in response to his demand. They mentioned, “God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods; For the Lord our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed: And the Lord drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the Lord; for he is our God” (vs. 16-18).

God will never force a man to serve Him, because He created us with the free moral agency to choose according to our desires. Whether we choose to live for God, or not, is up to us. But one must remember, whatever choice you make, the consequences are the product of your own doing.

Walk in love,

Ell

Partners from the beginning

Genesis 2:18-24

A few lessons ago, I noted contrasting opinions between myself, and the apostle Paul, where he mentioned, “For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man has his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that” (1 Corinthians 7:7). Paul’s reasoning behind his desire that all be single, wasn’t based on selfishness, but so that men and women could focus all of their attention on God, as he did, without balancing the challenges and concerns involved with marriage as well. Marriage is a beautiful thing, but can become a distraction when the husband and wife are unable to maintain a godly focus. God instituted marriage, and it should be carried out the way He designed it, and I strongly believe that everyone should desire to experience it, but only for the right reasons.

When God took one of the ribs from Adam, and skillfully formed the woman, He made certain to take her from his side, so that she could be equal with him, from under his arm, to be protected by him, and from near his heart, so that she could be loved by him. Knowing this, the woman should never feel that she’s beneath the man, nor regard herself as inferior, but should carry herself as the “help” God created to “meet” the needs of her husband.

Establishing a solid foundation, and working together, are two key elements required to make a marriage work. One reason I’ve learned why many marriages fail is, the foundations were built on feelings and emotions, rather than planning and logical reasoning. When a man makes up in his mind that he’s prepared to marry a woman, he should first have a job. What woman in her right mind would give up all her single liberties to a man who is unable to support her? In my most humble opinion, that’s borderline insanity! It’s obvious that God should be at the forefront of a woman’s desires in a man, but having consistent income is far more attractive than biceps and a six-pack.

In the beginning of any relationship, the courting process is super important. Adam and Eve were an exception, as they were the only two humans in existence, and I’m convinced Adam was created with unlimited knowledge, based on his reference to a man leaving his father and mother. If Eve and himself were the only humans created, then how could Adam possibly have any understanding of family, except it had already been embedded in his system? That’s information for another lesson. In any case, having knowledge and reverence for God will help in choosing a wife suitable to the man. After God made Adam, He immediately put Him to work, then taught him the Word. The man seeking a wife should follow this example, by studying and meditating on the Word of God, and being in a position to financially support a wife. According to Scripture, the man is responsible for teaching the Word of God to his wife. No, I didn’t stutter. Rarely do men follow this example, as we see more women doing the teaching these days, but God’s order was designed where men are to teach the Word in their homes.

Can you see how out of order this world has become? Roles have been reversed, and families are dysfunctional, but all could be avoided if God’s order is implemented in every marriage. As you prepare your mind, heart, and social position to be a husband or wife, don’t forget to check what God expects from you as well. Marriage indeed is a beautiful institution, and I pray yours gains God’s favor from now, until eternity!

Walk in love,

Ell

A covenant to marry

Ruth 3:1-6, 8-12, 16-18

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another exciting episode of, “Why Did I Get Married”! Starring, three of the most honorable and humble characters in Scripture; Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz! I’m your host, “holyell”, and I’ll be bringing you all the details of tonight’s most fascinating scenes!

Naomi: Ruth, my loyal and faithful daughter, you’ve been with me all this time; showing support, and helping me in more ways than I can imagine. Ever since we lost our husbands and left Moab, not once did you do anything to offend, or disrespect me. Many years have passed, and I’ve grown old, but you’re still young and vibrant! I think it’s about time that I return the favor by helping you find a husband. As a matter of fact, the maidens you were gleaning with the other day, weren’t they working for my cousin Boaz?

Ruth: Umm…I think so mother.

Naomi: Girl that boy is rich! Not only is he rich, but he’s also righteous! Rich and righteous…now you can’t go wrong with that babygirl.

Ruth: Yes mother, but…umm…

Naomi: What is it girl, let it out!

Ruth: Well, if he’s our cousin, is it lawful for us to marry? And I don’t want him just for his wealth. I want to be a wife who pleases God, then in turn, can please my husband.

Naomi: Of course it’s lawful. In fact, your closest of kin is entitled to the opportunity to take you as his wife, and give you children, since your husband died without giving you any. Later on in the future, most countries will forbid the marrying of relatives, but some will still practice it. Don’t ask me how I know 😉.

Ruth: Alright mother. I will trust your words, and follow whatever advice you can offer. But what if he doesn’t like me, or think I’m not attractive enough?

Naomi: Child please! You’re one of the most beautiful, and desirable women God has ever created. If he doesn’t fall for you, then something is wrong in his brain.

Ruth: (LOL)

Naomi: Alright, listen up. Here’s what I want you to do. Take a good, long shower, freshen yourself with your best perfume, then dress up in something modest, yet appealing. Then, I want you to go to a certain place where he usually rests, hide out for a few, then wait for him to fall asleep. After he’s snoozing good, go to him, uncover his feet, then lay down. When he gets up, he’ll tell you what you should do from there.

Ruth: Uhhh….umm… you’re joking, right?

Naomi: No time for games honey.

Ruth: So, you want me to hide in a man’s house, wait until he falls asleep, then lay near him until he wakes up?

Naomi: Precisely!

Naomi: Alright mother. I trust you. At your word, I will do it.

(Tradition says that women of the East, when going to be with their lawful husbands would, through modesty, and in token of subjection to them, go to the foot of the bed, gently raise the covers, and creep under them up to their place. In the case of Ruth, she was instructed to only uncover the feet of Boaz and lie down there until he should discover her presence, then tell her what to do. Naomi evidently knew that Boaz was a man with good moral character, which is why she could safely advise this.)

*Ruth follows Naomi’s plan to the letter, and now rests at the feet of the snoozing Boaz.

Boaz: Zzz…zzz…zzz…zzz…mmm..whaa… wha… what’s going on? (Rolls over) Is someone there? (Feels something at his feet, then looks up with sleepy eyes) Ohhh sugga snaps! Who whaa what..what are you doing….who the…what are you doing here?

Ruth: Please don’t be alarmed, forgive me if I’ve violated your personal space. I am Ruth, your handmaid. If you would be so kind, spread your skirt over me, for we are near relatives.

(Spreading the skirt over a woman was a symbol of taking her under one’s protection, and entering into marriage with her. (Sounds like my kind of wedding; private, simple, cheap, and already at the honeymoon).

Boaz: Ohhhh, it’s you! Hey beautiful! How are you? Did Naomi put you up to this?

Ruth: Yes, she wants a better life for me, and suggested that you and I would be a good match.

Boaz: Sigh… you are a beautiful and blessed woman, whom God favors, because you have shown more kindness to me since we met. I know I’m at fault for not following through with the kinsman redemption duty, and I’m grateful that you, and my cousin have reminded me to act on it. I give you my word, that I’ll take care of this today. As a matter of fact, take these six measures of barely, and give it to Naomi. I’ll get back with you when things are settled.

Ruth: God bless you for your kindness, and extreme generosity. I promise to be the wife you need, to help meet all your needs, and fulfill God’s will for your life.

Boaz: See, now you’re trying to make me blush. You better get your beautiful self outta here before I have to repent…

Ruth: (Smiles) You’re so crazy boy…

Boaz: Crazy about you boo…

*Ruth returns to Naomi to tell her the good news.

Ruth: Hello mother!

Naomi: Is that you, Ruth?

Ruth: Yes ma’am, it’s me.

Naomi: Well… I’m listening. How’d it go?

Ruth: It went well mother.

Naomi: Well, geesh! Where’s all the excitement?

Ruth: Mother, I’m overjoyed! I just don’t know…I mean… well, this is like a dream come true. It feels like I’m floating in the clouds. Boaz is sooooo fine, and sooooo sweet…. and I saw his feet. His toes weren’t ugly. That’s a major plus!

Naomi: Girl, I know what you mean.

Ruth: Here, he told me to give you this, as a gift.

Naomi: (Receives the measures of barley) That boy is a true God-send. They don’t make them like him anymore. Hang out here with me for a while. From the way you explained things, I’m certain Boaz won’t rest until he takes care of this matter today.

Ruth: (Smiles, and blushes)

This concludes another episode of, “Why Did I Get Married”! Thanks for tuning in.

Walk in love,

Ell

Ruth and Boaz marry; Obed born

Ruth 4:13-17

In my daily communications, I often hear the most unusual, yet heartfelt stories of how couples met. While some were graced to experience the high school sweetheart to marriage story, others either met in college, the grocery store, airport, military, work, or online. Marriage is a beautiful thing, and yields amazing results, especially when both partners contribute with their whole hearts, and keep God at the helm. One of the greatest benefits that come from marriage is children. While those little rascals can be a challenge to keep in line during the early years, they can bring smiles and laughter to parents that is unlike anything else. Every little child that’s born, has the potential to do great things in the earth, and should be valued as such by both parents, and those around them. It’s sad when children are mistreated, abused, and unappreciated, because many who experience this usually grow up hurt and confused, and are unable to fully develop into who God created them to be. It’s important that we cover, protect, and encourage our children as they adjust daily to life, and are molded into their role in this world.

The marriage between Boaz and Ruth initiated the fulfilling of the law of kinsman redemption, while conceiving and raising up seed for the dead, and keeping his name alive carried it out to its full extent. Grandma Naomi was overjoyed to see her little grandson Obed enter the earth, and she assisted in nursing the child, and helping to care for it. I grew up under the impression that grandparents got a double dose of work, because after raising their own children, they would eventually be responsible for raising their children’s children as well. As I grew older, I realized that grandparents were a lot more lenient than parents (at least in my case). Nonetheless, it’s a blessing to be born into a family that loves God, keeps His commandments, suffers no lack, and strives to do good in all things.

Little Obed was favored to be the product of a faithful and loving mother, and mighty and wealthy father. His existence was counted to take the place of Ruth’s first husband, and to carry on in his place. He was the ancestor of Jesse, and David, the king. Although he was just a baby at the time, his life was set up to be great, and remembered forever in history.

We were all once babes, born into a world of hope and opportunity. While some were favored to be born into wealthy families, others grew up with different struggles. However you got here matters, but only a little, because God takes notice of what you do with what you’re given. Times are different now, and the struggle indeed is real, but with God’s help, it matters not if you were born wealthy or poor, because little is much, when God is in it. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loves the church. Wives, submit to your husbands, and love them as you desire to be loved. Parents, love your children wholeheartedly, training them in the ways of godliness. Make sure your words hold more weight to them than what they glean from television or friends. You don’t have to be their best friend to gain their trust, only teach them the Word of God, and live a life that exemplifies holiness. By doing this, they’ll learn to respect the God in you, and consider that their own lives are nothing without Him as well.

Walk in love,

Ell