Friday, 22 October 2021
Undesirable, uninvited, irritating. Crabgrass, thistles, dandelions. Creeping charlie, yellow nutsedge, poison ivy. Weeds: various sizes, shapes, forms. Annoying.
I wish my yard was pure and perfect, free from weeds—inviting, appealing, attractive. I wish, if neighbors wanted to play croquet, if golfers wanted to practice their putting, if sunbathers wanted the perfect place to catch some rays, they’d think of my yard first.
But the opposite is true. Look at my yard, and you’ll see lots of yellow flowers—if they deserve to be called “flowers.” Lay down in my yard, and you may end up on a prickly thistle. Try to putt, and the crabgrass may send your ball off in the wrong direction.
Over the past month I have spent many hours in my yard trying to prevent the nasty dandelions from taking over. (Taraxacum is the genus; taraxacology is the scientific study of dandelions—I’m sure you wanted to know that.) Maybe I should have gotten a Ph.D. in taraxacology instead of papyrology.
I don’t appreciate a sea of yellow in my yard. I should have sprayed with some strong chemicals a long time ago, but that would be the easy way out. Instead, I scout out my yard, picking yellow “flowers” and the white seedheads by the bucketful. I don’t need more dandelions coming from the ones already there. But they are determined little rascals, popping up all over the place. Get outta here!
Now, this being a devotional, it’s time for full disclosure. Any time I said “weeds,” replace that with sins. Any time I said “my yard,” replace that with my life. When I said I want my yard to be inviting, appealing, attractive, that’s what I want my life to be. When I said, “Get outta here!,” I was referring to Satan.
The grace of God . . . teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age (Titus 2:11-12). So that those who do not believe the word may be won over without words by our behavior . . . when they see the purity and reverence of our lives (see 1 Peter 3:1-2 for the exact wording).
Life Application Questions
Peace in the Family
October 21, 2021
Life lived wide-open calls each disciple to affirm Christ’s lordship. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:15-17).
Given Scripture’s next set of intentional instruction delivered to the wives, husbands and children in Colossae (Colossians 3:18-21) we ought not rush by these opening words. The opening emphasizes how a disciple’s behavior is built on commitment to Christ as Lord, and the Spirit as indwelling counselor. Connecting the two sections builds our understanding of God’s intention: families are centers of discipleship.
Families are, as we know, complicated. We are spiritual beings residing in our Father’s world; but, that fallen-separated world is a mess.
Worse than a mess, our world is a place where sin ruins and foolish behavior wrecks good intentions. How we live as families provides an example, encouraging seekers to discover Christ, or reasons to run away from God’s truth.
Being a 21st century family may leave us like Abraham of old. His family should have been among the happiest, most vibrant and spiritually enthusiastic groups to ever live on the planet. Yet, if we read the Genesis stories, his family struggles’ resemble an afternoon-television-soap opera. A later report comments that Abraham was as an individual looking for a city whose builder and maker is God, we understand (Hebrews 11:10).
What threatens to “disturb the peace,” within your family?
What behaviors enrich your life as an individual or family?
What lifestyle changes can you make to increase the practice of peace within your family?
On a scale of one (1) to ten (10), with the one being dissatisfied, how would you score your family’s level of peace?
A Holy Husband is not Harsh
Or How is Your Prayer Life?
1 Peter 3:7; Ephesians 5:25-33
Wednesday, 20 October, 2021
Prayer is a blessed benefit of a believer. Jim Elliot speaking on the importance of prayer said, “That saint who advances on his knees, never retreats.” So being in a spiritual condition worthy of prayer with God is essential. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16b) Except when it’s not. Righteousness is key to effective prayer as is holiness as we see in 1 Timothy 2:8, which directs men to lift holy hands in prayer without anger or dissension.
So how does this relate to the prayer life of a husband? 1 Peter 3:7 says Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. Also, Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. (Colossians 3:19)
Eph. 5:25-33 teaches Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy. “Christ does not crush the church. Rather He sacrifices himself to serve her, in order that she might become everything he longs for her to be. Just so a husband should never use his headship to crush or stifle his wife, or frustrate her from being herself. His love for her will lead him to an exactly opposite path. He will give himself for her, so that she may develop her full potential under God and become more completely herself.” Reading Ephesians with John Stott p. 135
“Paul declared that a husband should love his wife to the extent of giving himself up for her, even to love her as much as he loves himself. That would have meant that he was to show her honor, even above himself! It involved putting her needs and desires at the top of the list. Now, none of the traditional Greco-Roman household codes described a husband’s role anything like this. Paul was putting a revolutionary twist on household relationships.” Quoting Dr. Brent Sandy.
Since Scripture is teaching husbands how not to act as well as how to act, not following this direction can maim them spiritually, impacting their prayers.
Life Application Questions
Husbands, when you come home from a long day at work, are you appreciative that your wife has also experienced a long day’s work?
Are you like Archie Bunker, often sitting in the recliner while Edith is serving him? A thought-provoking statement is the “Stand-up rule,” which states that while the wife is standing, so should the husband, and when she is seated, he may also sit down.
Do you and your wife view each other as a precious porcelain tea cup – fragile, delicate and treasured – as Dr. Gary Smalley in his series, “Hidden Keys to Loving, Lasting Relationships” teaches?
Wives, how can you help your husbands honor you? Is mutual submission beneficial to a loving home, to our prayer lives and to an open relationship with God?
Ephesians 5:21-24, Titus 2:3-4
October 19, 2021
GOAT represents the Greatest of All-Time. Often athletes receive the GOAT designation when they achieve in their sport. The Greatest of All-Time is not a new concept. In the Bible, kings claimed the “Greatest” bragging rights, disciples of Jesus wanted to be the “greatest” and even we are warned against an inharmonious, GOAT attitude in an unsubmitted lifestyle. Who would you say is the Greatest of All-Time athlete? Would you put Simone Biles in that category with her total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals? Would you choose Jim Brown or Tom Brady? Would Usain Bolt make your list with his world records for the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay or would you choose Michael Jordan? Humans have been striving for recognition and fame and ascendancy since the beginning of time.
God addressed the bragging rights of kings, disciples and us. In 2 Kings 20, Hezekiah received envoys from Babylon. Hezekiah told Isaiah, “There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them.” (2 Kings 20:15) Instead of being the GOAT of kings, the word of the Lord was, “the time will surely come when everything in your palace…will be carried off to Babylon…” (2 Kings 20: 17). Hezekiah missed the mark because he did not fully submit himself, and the possessions that God had given to the Jews, to God. Submission has nothing to do with the order of authority, but rather governs the operation of authority: how it is given and how it is received.
Jesus tried to teach his disciples this principle. Read Luke 22:24-27, did the disciples live in submission? Did they understand who was truly “the Greatest of All-Time”? When Jesus washed the disciples feet (John 13:1-17), He taught them that the greatest is the person who uses his authority to build up people. “…I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:16) Where have you seen people use their authority to build up others rather than build up themselves?
Mutual submission looks like foot washing. Why do many wedding ceremonies include a foot washing element as part of the ceremony? Ephesians 5:24 states: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Read Romans 12:10 and Philippians 2:1-4, how do these verses apply to mutual submission in marriage? Paul gives 2 reasons for submission in Ephesians 5. He addresses the Lordship of Christ (Ephesians 5:22) and the headship of the main in Christ (Ephesians 5:23). When the Christ following wife submits herself to Christ and lets Him be the Lord of her life, she will have less difficulty submitting to her husband, who is also submitting to Christ. The mutually submissive marriage lays the ground work for the Titus 2 woman to share with the younger women, how to live in mutual submissive harmony in their marriages. It’s not about who is the GOAT, but who is the servant. How can you “wash the feet” of someone today in your sphere of influence?
1 Peter 3:1-6 and 1 Timothy 2:9-10
October 18. 2021
What's your favorite word game? Scrabble, Pictionary, Hangman? Or are you one of those people who just must do the crossword puzzles in your daily paper? Perhaps you don't even like to play games—or at least, you say you don't. But, if you stop and think about it, most people play word games much of the time. We can predict what a friend or family member is going to say because that's what they always say. And in reality, there may be little truth or sincerity in it.
True confession: I just wrote a note in a greeting card that contained kind words that were true, but really didn't reflect what's in my heart toward that person.
What kind of word games do you play?
What do you understand the word submission to mean from today’s Bible reading? Women, have you found a way to somehow soften what you think Peter meant when he said, “In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands”? (vs 1, NLT) Ladies, have you skipped over the admonition, “You should clothe yourselves...with the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit…” (vs. 4, NLT), telling yourself the Myers-Briggs profile shows you as totally opposite? Are you (and I) like the little boy who, when told repeatedly to sit down, finally sat down and said, "I'm sitting down on the outside, but inside I'm standing up!"? Speaking of word games, this could be described as rebellious submission—an oxymoron, if ever there was one.
Don’t forget the biblical context. In the preceding chapter Peter describes the willing submission of Jesus to the Father as he underwent the cruel treatment of suffering as an innocent person. When Paul writes about husbands and wives in Ephesians 5, he reminds us that we all are “to submit to one another out of reverence to Christ” (5:21). So, the attitude of submission is for all believers
Does your life show submission to those who have authority over you--How?
Take a moment to consider the deeper meanings that the word submission includes. Perhaps most important is honor or respect. Scripture calls us to honor others. That includes our physical and spiritual families, our friends, and associates at work. When we honor another, we show respect and admiration; we listen to and consider another's opinions or actions; we value them. When we honor someone, we may have to compromise our own ideas on non-essential issues. Honor doesn't overlook another person's wrongdoing but knows when and how to address it. Honor includes trusting the other person, especially someone who has more authority than you do. And perhaps most importantly, honor should be given in the context of love.
What kind of attitude toward your spouse or others do people see in your life?
jbd & gmd