Scriptures and Thoughts on “Crucify”

Crucify – to fix to a cross – “crux” is the root of “excruciating.”

 How does crucifixion work?

 It is clear from the remains of Jehohanan that crucifixion was in practice in Jesus time. Those who suffered were nailed to a cross in such a way that they would naturally fall forward unless they made the effort to pull themselves up and back. Eventually, this would lead to utter exhaustion and suffocation.

 Why did the people insist on crucifying Jesus?

(Matthew 27:21-26) But the governor said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Crucify Him!” 23And he said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they kept shouting all the more, saying, “Crucify Him!” 24When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” 25And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!”26Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.

(Mark 15:9-15) Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10For he was aware that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy. 11But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask him to release Barabbas for them instead. 12Answering again, Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?”13They shouted back, “Crucify Him!” 14But Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify Him!” 15Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.

(Luke 23:1-4) “Then the whole body of them got up and brought Him before Pilate. And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.” So Pilate asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And He answered him and said, “It is as you say.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they kept on insisting, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching all over Judea, starting from Galilee even as far as this place.”

(Luke 23:13-25) “13Pilate summoned the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14and said to them, “You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him. 15“No, nor has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and behold, nothing deserving death has been done by Him. 16“Therefore I will punish Him and release Him.” 17[Now he was obliged to release to them at the feast one prisoner.] 18But they cried out all together, saying, “Away with this man, and release for us Barabbas!”19(He was one who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection made in the city, and for murder.) 20Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again, 21but they kept on calling out, saying, “Crucify, crucify Him!” 22And he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death; therefore I will punish Him and release Him.”23But they were insistent, with loud voices asking that He be crucified. And their voices began to prevail. 24And Pilate pronounced sentence that their demand be granted. 25And he released the man they were asking for who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, but he delivered Jesus to their will.”

(John 19:12-15) As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.” 13Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” 15So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

(Acts 13:26-28) 26“Brethren, sons of Abraham’s family, and those among you who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent. 27“For those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers, recognizing neither Him nor the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning Him. 28“And though they found no ground for putting Him to death, they asked Pilate that He be executed.

 What does it mean for a Christian to “crucify the flesh?”

(Galatians 5:16-24) 16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

(Galatians 2:20) “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

(Romans 6:1-7) 1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7for he who has died is freed from sin.

(Daniel 3:16-18) 16Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. 17“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18“But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

What phrases did Jesus speak from the cross?

 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots – Luke 23:34 (KJV)

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. – Luke 23:43 (KJV)

When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. – John 19:26-27 (KJV)

4. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? – Matthew 27:46 (KJV)

After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. – John 19:28 (KJV)

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. – John 19:30 (KJV)

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. – Luke 23:46 (KJV)

What did Jesus mean by quoting Psalm 22 from the cross? Did God forsake Jesus there?

 (Psalm 22) My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
[b]Far from my deliverance are the words of my [c]groaning.
O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer;
And by night, but [d]I have no rest.
Yet You are holy,
O You who [e]are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
In You our fathers trusted;
They trusted and You delivered them.
To You they cried out and were delivered;
In You they trusted and were not [f]disappointed.
But I am a worm and not a man,
A reproach of men and despised by the people.
All who see me [g]sneer at me;
They [h]separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying,
[i]Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him;
Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.”
Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb;
You made me trust when upon my mother’s breasts.
10 Upon You I was cast from [j]birth;
You have been my God from my mother’s womb.
11 Be not far from me, for [k]trouble is near;
For there is none to help.
12 Many bulls have surrounded me;
Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me.
13 They open wide their mouth at me,
As a ravening and a roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water,
And all my bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It is melted within [l]me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
And You lay me [m]in the dust of death.
16 For dogs have surrounded me;
[n]A band of evildoers has encompassed me;
[o]They pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones.
They look, they stare at me;
18 They divide my garments among them,
And for my clothing they cast lots.
19 But You, O Lord, be not far off;
O You my help, hasten to my assistance.
20 Deliver my [p]soul from the sword,
My only life from the [q]power of the dog.
21 Save me from the lion’s mouth;
From the horns of the wild oxen You answer me.
22 I will tell of Your name to my brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise Him;
All you [r]descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And stand in awe of Him, all you [s]descendants of Israel.
24 For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Nor has He hidden His face from him;
But when he cried to Him for help, He heard.
25 From You comes my praise in the great assembly;
I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him.
26 The [t]afflicted will eat and be satisfied;
Those who seek Him will praise the Lord.
Let your heart live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord,
And all the families of the nations will worship before [u]You.
28 For the kingdom is the Lord’s
And He rules over the nations.
29 All the [v]prosperous of the earth will eat and worship,
All those who go down to the dust will bow before Him,
Even he who [w]cannot keep his soul alive.
30 [x]Posterity will serve Him;
It will be told of the Lord to the coming generation.
31 They will come and will declare His righteousness
To a people who will be born, that He has performed it

(Isaiah 53:6) “We all, like sheep, have gone astray … and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all”

(Romans 6:23) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(2 Corinthians 5:21) For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

(Psalm 31:5) Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

 Is crucifixion related to the Jewish curse of hanging on a tree?

(Deuteronomy 21:22-23) 22 “If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance.

 (John 19:31) Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

(Acts 5:30) The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross.

(Acts 10:39) “We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross.

(Galatians 3:10-14) 10For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.” 11Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” 12However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.” 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON ATREE”— 14in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

 What does it mean to “take up your cross daily?”

(Matthew 16:24-27) 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life[g]will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

(Luke 9:23-26) 23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Cicero’s comments on crucifixion show how carrying a cross is a source of embarrassment and being made a spectacle and being looked down upon.

 What does it mean that the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing?

(1 Corinthians 1:18-31) 18For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written,
“I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE,
AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” 20Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,28and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29so that no man may boast before God. 30But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”

How is the cross similar to the golden serpent lifted up by Moses in the wilderness?

(Numbers 21:6-9) The Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and you; intercede with the Lord, that He may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded for the people. Then the Lord said to Moses, “[j]Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.” And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.

(John 3:13-18) No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. 14 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;15 so that whoever [d]believes will in Him have eternal life. 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His [e]only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the [f]only begotten Son of God.

(John 12:30-36) Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes. 31“Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” 33But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die. 34The crowd then answered Him, “We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” 35So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. 36“While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.”

 

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Trusting God to Tell us What to Do

Many of us know someone who grew up in a Christian environment, but left the faith later in life. You may also know someone who was presented the gospel as an adult, but rejected it vehemently. Maybe, you too have struggled with your own faith, or even considered giving up on living for God. Why?

One of the reasons people often cite for leaving the Lord is that they want to be free to do things their own way. They may say phrases like “no one else can tell me how to live my own life,” or “I have to do what makes me happy,” or “I have to be free to be myself, and the Bible is holding me back.”

There may be some truth to the statement “no one can tell me how to live my own life.” After all, in most cases, no one is going to physically control us and micromanage all of our own choices against our will. At the end of the day, God grants us the right to do whatever it is that we want to do, even if that means to reject Him.

So maybe no one has the power to FORCE us to live a certain way, but surely we all recognize that sometimes it is wise to listen to people who know more than we do.

Most of us do not take our car to the mechanic only to insist on disregarding necessary repairs because “no one can tell me what to do.” Most of us do not pay for music lessons and then ignore everything the teacher says because “I just have to do what makes me happy.” Most of us do not go to the hospital in crippling pain but reject a necessary surgery because “that is just not what I want to do with my time.” We recognize that the path to wholeness often requires us to do things that we do not want to do, and may not even fully understand. But we trust those who can guide us to where we need to be.

The Bible describes the Christian life as a battle between the flesh and the Spirit. Oh, how easy it can seem to just throw in the towel and indulge our fleshly tendencies because we long to “be true to ourselves,” and “not let some ancient book control us.” But notice something about the flesh and the Spirit.

The flesh does not practice wisdom or discernment. For example, the body will crave an unhealthy diet with no regard for how much the “daily recommended amount” of sugar is. A body that is addicted to drugs or alcohol will crave those things with no regard for the wellbeing of the person who possesses it. A body will desire sexual relations with an attractive counterpart, even when the long-term outcome could be catastrophic.

The Spirit, on the other hand, is characterized by discernment, wisdom, and higher order thinking. It is informed, ultimately, by the God who designed the universe and knows intimately how it works. The Spirit encourages us to follow a path of moral development rather than simply “living in the moment.”

Often our feelings, being motivated by our flesh, will pull us in a direction that promises to be gratifying. That direction might be jealousy, outbursts of anger, pornography, consumerism, gluttony, or any other number of things. On the other hand, the Spirit steps in and “tells us what to do,” applying a long-term wisdom to our short-term decisions.

Yes, God does tell us what to do. Frequently. And we would do well to listen. A doctor knows how to help a physical body. A mechanic knows how to fix a car. A piano teacher knows how to play piano. And God knows how to fix YOU. And just maybe, if you do not understand every instruction given by your doctor, mechanic, or piano teacher, you might not understand every instruction given by your God either. That does not make Him wrong.

Strive for Spiritual Growth

Our creator is the absolute embodiment of wisdom, and those who follow Him have access to that wisdom through His written word. Not in human books, human social media updates, human blog posts, or human opinions expressed by preachers can the same degree of truth and wisdom be found.

Humans do our best to grasp at the truth. We try to say things that are meaningful and insightful. But ultimately, there is simply no substitute whatsoever for the scriptures.

With that in mind, I want to share with you a piece of scripture, and rather than making commentary about it, I just want you to really pay attention to it, and maybe even commit to considering it constantly throughout your week.

2 Peter 1:5-7

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence,
in your faith supply moral excellence,
and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
and in your knowledge, self-control,
and in your self-control, perseverance,
and in your perseverance, godliness,
and in your godliness, brotherly kindness,
and in your brotherly kindness, love.”

Please consider what these instructions would mean for your life if you took them seriously. What would it look like to apply all diligence to your pursuit of spiritual growth every day this week?

Here are some synonyms of the words used in the translation quoted above. These may help us better consider what it would be like to make a conscious effort to grow in these ways each day.

Faith – belief, trust, confidence; fidelity, faithfulness
Moral excellence – virtue, perfection, goodness, uprightness
Knowledge – doctrine, wisdom, understanding
Self-control – self-mastery, self-restraint, continence
Perseverance – steadfastness, patient waiting
Godliness – piety, devotion, reverence
Brotherly kindness – brotherly love, affection
Love – benevolence, good will, esteem

“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.” (2 Peter 1:8-11)

Will you make growth in these qualities a goal for your life, one towards which you actively strive?

Things God has Done for Us

Given us life: “For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’” (Acts 17:28)

Formed us in the womb: “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.” (Proverbs 19:13)

Allowed us to live until this day: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’” (James 4:13-15)

Provided us with food and goods: “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11) “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Mathew 6:32-33) “And yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:17)

Sent His Son to Suffer as our Savior: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Sent out His word so that we can hear it: “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

Allotted to us faith: “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3)

Granted us repentance: “God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.” (Acts 11:18)

Shown us grace and mercy: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Given us spiritual gifts: “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly.” (Romans 12:6)

Granted us what wisdom we have: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

Given us the Holy Spirit: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”(Luke 11:13)

Given us absolutely everything: “For who makes you so superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Corinthians 4:7)

Scripture and Thoughts on “Mothers”

What does God intend to teach us through the example of mothers?

(1 Corinthians 13:4-7) Love is patient; love is kind. Love is not jealous; is not proud; is not conceited; does not act foolishly; is not selfish; is not easily provoked to anger; keeps no record of wrongs; takes no pleasure in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

(Isaiah 49:15) Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?

(Isaiah 66:13) As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you.

(Ephesiasn 4:32) Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

(Galatians 4:26) But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.

(1 Thessalonians 2) Paul uses the illustration of a mother nursing her child as a picture of gentleness and affection

Is it possible for a woman to make motherhood more central to her identity than she ought to?

(Matthew 10:37) Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

(Luke 14:26) “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

(1 Samuel 1-2) shows us a woman who wants desperately to be a mother, she is not content just to be a wife. But we also see that when she does have a son, she is willing to give him to the Lord.

(Psalm 127:3) Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD, and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

(Genesis 2:24) For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

(Song of Songs 3:11) “Go forth, O daughters of Zion, And gaze on King Solomon with the crown With which his mother has crowned him On the day of his wedding, And on the day of his gladness of heart.”

What picture does the Bible paint of ideal motherhood?

(Proverbs 31) speaks of mothers demonstrating strength, hard work, planning, provision, wisdom, kindness, charity, and dedication to God.

(2 Timothy 1:5) I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

(1 Kings 3:24-27) The king said, “Get me a sword.” So they brought a sword before the king. 25 The king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.”26 Then the woman whose child was the living one spoke to the king, for she was deeply stirred over her son and said, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him.” But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him!” 27 Then the king said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him. She is his mother.”

            (The Bible speaks much about mothers giving teaching and instruction)
(Proverbs 19:26-27) Whoever robs their father and drives out their mother is a child who brings shame and disgrace. Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

(Proverbs 1:8-9) Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.

(Proverbs 6:20-21) My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck.

(Proverbs 23:22-23) Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy the truth and do not sell it— wisdom, instruction and insight as well.

(2 Chronicles 22:3) He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother was his counselor to do wickedly.

(Matthew 14:8) Having been prompted by her mother, she *said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”

What role should mothers take in disciplining their children?

(Ephesians 6:4) Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

(Deuteronomy 21:18-21) “If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, 19 then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. 20 They shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear.

(Proverbs 22:6) Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

(Proverbs 22:15) Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.

(Proverbs 29:15) The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

(Ephesians 6:1-3) Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—  “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

 Does Mary deserve special recognition as the mother of Jesus?

(Luke 1:28-30) And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 

(Luke 1:42) And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!

(Luke 1:46-48) And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord  and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed,

What does it look like to truly honor your mother?

(Matthew 15:4-6) For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.

(Ephesians 6:1-3; Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16) Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—  “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

(John 19:25-27) Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman,here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

(Proverbs 23:22) Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old.

(Ruth 1:16-17) For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.

(Proverbs 30:17) The eye that mocks a father And scorns a mother, The ravens of the valley will pick it out, And the young eagles will eat it.

(Ezekiel 22:6-7) “Behold, the rulers of Israel, each according to his power, have been in you for the purpose of shedding blood.They have treated father and mother lightly within you. The alien they have oppressed in your midst; the fatherless and the widow they have wronged in you. 

How do we properly honor a mother who does not live honorably?

(Leviticus 19:3) Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and you shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.

(Leviticus 20:9) For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him.

(Exodus 21:15) “Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death.

(Romans 13:7) Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
Are there those who are not owed honor, or are all owed it? Is this like David, respecting Saul as king even though Saul himself was not being honorable?

(Matthew 10:35) “For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW;

(Luke 12:53) “They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

(Psalm 27:10) For my father and my mother have forsaken me, But the Lord will take me up.

            Notice that the church can provide mothers for those in need
(Ruth 1:16) But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.

(Mark 10:29-30) “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.

(1 Timothy 5:1-2) Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.

(Matthew 12:48-50)But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

(Esther 2:7) He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had no father or mother. Now the young lady was beautiful of form and face, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.

Scriptures and Thoughts on “Hope”

What is hope?

Hebrew:
qavah and achal – both terms mean to wait or to hope.

Greek:
Elpis – confident expectation and anticipation of a good outcome. Joyful optimism and confident trust for the fulfillment of the promises of God.

(Romans 15:13) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

How does hope differ from waiting?

Hope is distinguished from generic waiting by an expectation and an optimistic outlook.

(Romans 12:12) Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

(Hebrews 10:28) The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.

How does hope differ from faith?

Hope carries an especially strong connotation of eager anticipation, and is generally focused on a very specific and positive outcome.

(Hebrews 11:1) Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Which promises of God do you find yourself hoping for most strongly, or most often?

            (His appearance, our revelation as His children)
(1 John 3:1-3) See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

            (Our inheritance in heaven)
(1 Peter 1:3-5) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

            (Wisdom bestowed)
(James 1:5) If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

            (All things work for good)
(Romans 8:28) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

            (Eternal glory)
(2 Corinthians 4:17-18) “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.”

(Romans 8:18) “The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

            (No pain)
(Revelation 21:4) “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

How do we maintain hope during long and difficult times?

(It is a reasonable thing to have)
(1 Peter 3:15) But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

            (God has not left us)
(Psalm 33:18) Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love

(Psalm 43:5) Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

(Lamentations 3:21-23 ) “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

(Deuteronomy 31:6) Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

            (Read scripture)
(Romans 15:4) For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

            (Grow in patience)
(Romans 5:2-5) Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

(Isaiah 40:31) But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Is it possible to mistakenly hope for things that God has not promised?

(What about these passages?)
(John 14:13-14) “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

(Malachi 3:10) “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

(God does not promise Christians an easy life.)
(Matthew 10:22) You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

(James 1:12) Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

(Revelation 2:10) ‘Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

(Hebrews 11:32-38) 32 And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36 and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.

(2 Corinthians 12:7-10) Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

What experiences in this life most arouse in you a hope for better things in heaven?

(Psalm 120)In my trouble I cried to the LORD, And He answered me. Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, From a deceitful tongue. What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you, You deceitful tongue? Sharp arrows of the warrior, With the burning coals of the broom tree. Woe is me, for I sojourn in Meshech, For I dwell among the tents of Kedar! Too long has my soul had its dwelling With those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak,They are for war.”

What things do you have hope for in THIS life?

Scriptures and Thoughts on “Peace”

What is the Biblical concept of peace?
Hebrew:
shalom – based on the concept of “fastening” so as to achieve a stable condition. Implies not only the absence of conflict, but also wholeness, tranquility, stability, spiritual soundness, and good health.

Greek:
eirene – the higher spiritual fulfillment resulting from Christ coming into the world. A harmonious relationship between God and man, man and man, in the state, and in the church. Used as a common greeting in all 13 of the general epistles attributed to Paul.

(Romans 5:1) “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

(Mark 9:50) “Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

 “So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.” (Acts 24:16)

Are there things more important than peace?
Apparently, yes.

(Matthew 10:34-36) “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”

(Ecclesiastes 3:8) “…a time for war, and a time for peace.”

Bear in mind that being taken advantage of and injured by others is not a peaceful situation. Perhaps this helps explain (Luke 22:36) “whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one.”

(John 16:33) says “…take heart; I have overcome the world.” Notice, they could have peace not because there was no conflict, but because they had a champion among them who could end the conflict once and for all. Long-term peace is more important that short-term peace.

(Jeremiah 6:13-14) “For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is greedy for gain, And from the prophet even to the priest Everyone deals falsely. They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace.” — This seems to indicate that a “superficial” or false peace that seeks to ignore the problems rather than address them is not an acceptable outcome.

(Hebrews 12:14) says “strive for peace with everyone.” Peace ought to be an ultimate goal.

Blessed are the peacemakers, but are there times when it is wise not to get involved?

(Matthew 18:15) “if your brother sins against you…”

(Matthew 5:23) “if your brother has something against you…”

Notice that in both of these cases, you are one of the parties directly involved.
It may be unwise to get mixed up in other people’s business:
(1 Timothy 5:13) warns against the tendency to be “not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention.”

(2 Thessalonians 3:11) also mentions busy-bodies. This word means to “work all-around, i.e. to meddle, going beyond proper boundaries (where a person doesn’t belong); to fixate on what others are doing, instead of doing what the person himself is supposed to do.”

However, there are times for other parties to get involved:
(Philippians 4:2-3) “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”

How can we find peace when we are troubled?

Seek in in God.

(2 Thessalonians 3:16) “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”

(John 16:33) “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

(John 14:27; 16:33; 20:19, 21, 26) Jesus repeatedly declared peace to His followers. Find peace in what He is done and its significance for our spiritual future.

(Isaiah 26:3) “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

Through prayer.

(1 Peter 5:7) “casting all your anxiety on Him, for He cares for you.”

(Philippians 4:6-7) “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

What does “the peace that passes understanding” mean?

(Romans 8:26-27) “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Could this be relate?

 How can a church or a family in turmoil work for peace?

Follow the protocols of Matthew 5, Matthew 18, and Romans 14

Notice that being in Christ and in the Spirit together are key:

(Philippians 2:1-2) “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. “

(Romans 14:17) “…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” And Romans 14 is all about making peace by “accepting those who are weak in the faith.” Sort of like our concept of being the bigger person.

(Romans 15:13) “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

(Galatians 5) “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…”

(Ephesians 4:1-3) “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

(Ephesians 2:14, 17) Jesus is our peace, and He came and preached peace. He made peace possible.

It will require work:
(1 Peter 3:8-11)Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For ‘Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.”

(Hebrews 12:14) “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”

Compromise and perhaps the wisdom to keep a healthy distance:

(Genesis 13:8-9) “Then Abram said to Lot, ‘Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.’”

Think also of the example of Abigail and Nabal,

Or of Solomon and the two mothers

(Romans 12:18) “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Sometimes it may simply not be possible.

(Numbers 6:24-26) “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

Scriptures and Thoughts on “Self-Control”

What is a Biblical definition of self-control? What is the nature of this virtue?
The English term “self-control” did not appear until the 18th century. Prior to that, words like “temperance” and “sober” were used.

Hebrew:
Matsar – restraint or control

Greek:
Egkrateia – in the sphere of dominion or mastery; self-mastery, self-restraint
Sophosunei – soundness of mind, sanity, sobriety
Nepho – calm, vigilant, sober, free from illustion

(1 Timothy 4:8) compares physical training and spiritual self-control.
(1 Corinthians 9:25) attributes self-control to athletes.
In these cases, we see self-control as submission to a certain code of conduct in order to cultivate a desired outcome.

Jesus, in going to the cross, was the ultimate example of self control:
(1 Peter 2:23) “When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.”
(Acts 8:32) “Like a lamb before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.”
(Matthew 26:53) He could have called 12 legions of angels.
(John 10:18) He lay His own life down willingly.

Would it not be better to be controlled by God, rather than by my “self?”
(Galatians 5:22-26) shows us that self-control is actually a fruit of God’s Spirit, and that we have it when we “keep in step with the Spirit.” So having self-control does not negate God’s leadership in our lives.

(2 Corinthians 5:14-15) “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” God does control us, but there is no denying that on some level we have a choice in the matter and must choose “to live no longer for ourselves.”

(1 Corinthians 15:10) “…but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.”

(Romans 1:20) we are “without excuse” because we are accountable as free moral agents.(Proverbs 16:32) refers positively to “he who rules his [own] spirit.” In this sense, we need self-control to submit ourselves to God’s standard.

What role does willpower play in self-control? Is increasing my willpower an appropriate or effective way to grow in self-control?
(Galatians 5:16) “walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
(Ephesians 5:18) “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.”

In both cases, the text does not say “try harder,” but focuses on the Spirit. Why is that and what does it mean?

(1 Corinthians 1:25) “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
(Proverbs 3:5-7) “lean not on your own understanding.”
(1 Peter 2:23) Jesus was “entrusting Himself” to the Father. What role does trust in God play in self-control as compared or opposed to willpower?

What should I do in a situation in which I obviously do not have self-control?
Do something, you are in danger!
(Proverbs 25:28) “Like a city that is broken into and without walls Is a man who has no control over his spirit.”

 If possible, avoid the situation! “I am not stronger than Sampson, mightier than David, or wiser than Solomon, so I am not immune to sexual temptation.” Recognize and seek to avoid dangerous situations.

(James 5:16) Confess your sins one to another and pray for each other.
(Matthew 5:29) Make necessary sacrifices to protect yourself.
(Galatians 5, Ephesians 5) Give serious thought to what it means to walk in the Spirit.

(Hebrews 12:5-11) We discipline our children to help them learn ultimately how to control themselves. When the Lord disciplines us, we should be wise and learn from it.

 How can I grow in self-control?
(Galatians 5:17) The Spirit and the flesh are at war in each other, “so that you may not do the things that you please.” In a battle, the stronger one side becomes, the more control it has. This implies that persistence in the fight of the Spirit to control the flesh can help us grow over time.

Think of the illustration of an elephant and a rider. The elephant, like our passions, is very powerful, but unless it is governed by a strong rider who can control it, it will be a force to evil rather than for good.

(Titus 2:11-12) “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” God’s grace can help us to continue to get back up and keep learning.

(1 Peter 1:5-9) lists self control as a virtue, and suggests that if we do not have it, it is a result of us forgetting our purification from our former sins.
(1 Thessalonians 4:3) suggests a lack of sexual self-control comes from a lack of the knowledge of God.

Is there a key to self-control? If so, what is it?
It is clear from the connection to the Spirit (Galatians 5, Ephesians 5) and reliance on God (Proverbs 3, 1 Corinthians 1) that self-control must be a result of our relationship with God.

Beyond this perhaps obvious but important fundamental truth, what would you say is the key to self-control? Trust in God? Submission to His will?

 What areas of life are notable for requiring self-control?
Anger
(Proverbs 29:11) “A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back.”
Revenge
(Romans 12:19)
Sexual immorality
(1 Thessalonians 4:3) Paul wishes “that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God”
Alcohol
(Ephesians 5:16)

Food!

What other areas of life can be difficult in regards to self-control?

Mentors in Scripture

Every time I read the opening chapters of the book of Proverbs, I cannot help but notice how often Solomon addresses his wisdom to “my son.” I count 19 times in the first 8 chapters where Solomon refers to the hearer or reader of his words as “son” or “sons.”

What a fantastic resource the book of proverbs can be to a young man who is growing up, or has grown up, without a father in his life. What a rich source of fatherly guidance.

For that matter, the book of proverbs is a wonderful resource for all of us, young or old, male or female, whether we had two parents in the home or not. After all, the Bible tells us, “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men… and his fame was known in all the surrounding nations.” (1 Kings 4:29-31)

Even if you had the most wise and loving parents in the universe, there is still more wisdom for you to find in the book of Proverbs. Even if your friends are the best examples of godly living that anyone could imagine, they are still imperfect humans who may sometimes lack the perfect knowledge revealed in scripture.

Let Solomon be a mentor to you through the book of Proverbs.

Of course, the reason why Solomon was so wise was because he got his wisdom from God. The words recorded in the book of Proverbs are God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). When we open the Bible to learn, we are literally being taught by God. Jesus Himself said so in John 6:45, “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.”

We all need someone wiser than us to help us to learn and grow in life. Think of a classic mentor-trainee relationship such as Daniel and Mr. Miyagi in “Karate Kid.” That is what God offers to be for us. In John 13:13 Jesus said “You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.” In Luke 6:40 He said, “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.”

Will you allow God to be your teacher? Will you submit yourself to His instructions, even when you do not understand them, knowing that He can help you to become more like Him?

And will you spend time with the mentors that God has appointed throughout history to teach us various lessons, both through listening to their wisdom and through observing their mistakes?

There is much to learn from the words and actions of men and women like Adam, Eve, Enoch, Noah, Job, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Rachel, Joseph, Moses, Zipporah, Miriam, Joshua, Rahab, Deborah, Gideon, Jael, Sampson, Naomi, Ruth, Hannah, Samuel, David, Abigail, Solomon, Elijah, Elisha, Esther, Mordecai, Ezra, Nehemiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Jonah, John the Baptist, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary the sister or Martha, Anna the Prophetess, Peter, Andrew, James, John, Paul, Silas, Pheobe, Priscilla and Aquilla, Lydia, Dorcas, Barnabas, Timothy, and Titus. And that is just to name a few!

The Bible is full of father figures, mother figures, big brother and sister figures, and friends to help you learn and grow. Hebrews 12:1 describes them as a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us and cheering us on in our walk of faith.

Avail yourself to their guidance and support through God’s word.

Are you in a Spiritual “Echo Chamber?”

Last week, when we dissected the account of the Prophet Jonah, we noticed in the first few verses that “Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” If you are familiar with the story then you know that his plan to physically run away from God did not turn out so well.

Jonah had to learn what David spoke of in Psalm 139:7-10: “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.”

And while we may not physically run away from God, are we not behaving in a similar manner when we silence our God-given consciences, or deliberately put His words out of our heads in order to avoid the feeling of judgment? Do we not bury our heads in the sand when we just disregard His commands?

“Yes, I know I should be sharing the gospel with people wherever I go, but… lets talk about something else.” “Yes, I know the Bible says those actions are sinful, but surely God wants me to be happy.” “Well, I should probably get baptized but… I’ll do it later.”

Just as Jonah’s running away did not actually remove Him from God’s presence, ignoring or forgetting God’s words does not get us off the hook either.

In the book of Micah it is recorded that the people behaved in this way. After being chastised for their wickedness and warned of impending doom it is said: “‘Don’t say such things,’ the people respond. ‘Don’t prophesy like that. Such disasters will never come our way! (Micah 2:6-7, NLT)’” It was as if the people believed that if they did not hear God’s truth, then it did not exist.

Instead, they wanted to listen to people that would tell them what they wanted: “Suppose a prophet full of lies would say to you, ‘I’ll preach to you the joys of wine and alcohol!’ That’s just the kind of prophet you would like! (Micah 2:11, NLT)”

Even the world recognizes the danger of surrounding ourselves by people who only tell us what we like to here. Recently there has been a lot of talk about the dangers of social media becoming an “echo chamber” in which we become surrounded by likeminded individuals who will not challenge us to grow in our understandings.

Paul told Timothy that the same thing could happen to Christians if they were not careful: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

The truth is that there will always be someone somewhere willing to tell us what we want to hear just so we can feel good about ourselves and not be troubled with God’s truth. In this way, we can convince ourselves of whatever it is that we would like to believe, as though our obliviousness to reality actually altered the truth.

Beginning in Proverbs 1:20 we find a lengthy passage about wisdom crying out in the public square, asking if anyone is actually going to listen to her. The choice is yours. There are plenty of fools waiting to tell you exactly what you want. Or there is wisdom, crying out from the pages of the Bible for whoever is willing to listen.