Wednesday, June 27, 2012


So Samuel said: "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. "  (1 Samuel 15:22-23)

 . . . submitting to one another in the fear of God.  (Ephesians 5:21)

 We live in an age of rebellion.  While violent rebellion rages in many parts of the world, in our own country students rebel against teachers and against society in general, laborers rebel against employers, churches against pastors, children against parents, and wives against husbands.

We have to admit that our nation was born out of rebellion, and it has been part of our national psyche ever since.  This spirit of rebellion affects every area of our society, but its most devastating impact has been on the family.  To destroy the nation, Satan must destroy the family, and he is doing just that through a spirit of rebellion.

 A rebellious spirit opens the door of the heart to Satan’s influence, as it did in the life of King Saul.  Once Saul rebelled against God’s orders given through the prophet Samuel, Satan and his demons began to torment Saul and prompt him to do more evil.  At last, when Saul could no longer receive counsel from God, he turned to a witch for help.

Why does rebellion open the door to Satan?  Because Lucifer, Son of the Morning (Isaiah 14:12), rebelled against God and thus became the fallen, despicable creature who seeks to destroy all God has made.  He sniffs out the rebellious spirit wherever it may be found.  Every family is vulnerable when there is even one member who has a rebellious spirit.

The biblical shield against this attack of Satan is the virtue of submission.  In Ephesians 5 and 6 God, through the Apostle Paul, admonishes each member of the family to practice this virtue.  It is well to note that with each admonition to “submit” or “obey,” there is a corresponding admonition to the one God has entrusted with authority to submit to the Lord in practicing kindly, loving care for those under that authority.  Hence, when God says, “Wives submit to your own husbands as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22), the husbands are admonished to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her . . .” (Ephesians 5:25-26a).  When God says, “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1), he also says, “And you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

We must be careful here, and note that Satan will try to corrupt our thinking regarding these verses:  One admonition is not conditional on the other.  The wife’s submission to her husband does not depend upon the husband's obedience to the Lord in sacrificial love for his wife, nor is the husband’s obligation to love his wife as Christ loved the Church dependent upon the wife’s submission.  Likewise the children's obligation to obey and the parent's obligation to properly train, depend upon only one thing -- their relationship to the Lord.  Each member of the family is to be submissive to the Lord, obeying His directions for their God-given position in the family, regardless of what the other members may do.

Jesus, the Son of God Himself, is the model of a submissive spirit.  Every family member should meditate on Philippians 2:5-8 frequently:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.   (Philippians 2:5-8 NKJV)

 Let this mind be in each one of us! And let our families be bound together in the love of Christ!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fond Ambitions?

Comedienne Lilly Tomlin once said: "All my life I always wanted to be somebody.  Now I realize I should have been more specific."

Ambition is generally viewed as a good thing.  After all, only deadbeats have no ambition.  But when our ambition is directed toward attaining what this sinful, fallen world thinks is valuable, we are headed for spiritual shipwreck.

I know whenever my desires turn inward, when I long for praise and recognition, perhaps even worldly riches.  I know because God reminds me of a verse from a hymn by one of the godliest pastors who ever graced this earth -- Henry F. Lyte  The hymn is "Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken," and the last part of verse one, the part God brings to my mind, goes like this:

"Perish every fond ambition,
All I've sought, and hoped, and known;
Yet how rich is my condition,
God and heaven are still my own!"

I have to ask myself often: Who are you seeking to please?  Jesus said that the first and great commandment is, "You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30)  In that blessed relationship alone we find peace and joy and contentment. 

J. I. Packer tells of a Christian who understood that our relationship with God is everything: "I walked in the sunshine," he recalls, "with a scholar who had effectively forfeited his prospect of academic advancement by clashing with church dignitaries over the gospel of grace.  'But it doesn't matter,' he said at length, 'for I've known God and they haven't.'" (Knowing God, p. 20)

Do you want to be somebody?  Then be somebody who delights in God.  God will work "all things together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)