Parents and Children

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Raising children is one of life’s greatest joys as well as one of life’s greatest challenges. On the one hand, godly parents want their children to have good moral virtues and to grow in their love of God and others. On the other hand, godly parents want their children to learn how to think for themselves and come to understand on their own who God made them to be. This requires parents to hold tightly to their children in some ways, but also be willing to release their children to be on their own in order to discover their own beliefs, goals, and values. It’s a very difficult tension to manage. 

Because the Word of God provides wisdom to all people in all cultures, it doesn’t provide step by step instructions for how to parent. Nor does it provide step by step instructions for how to grow as a child. It does, however, provide wisdom that can be applied within each family and culture. As an example, children are commanded both obey their parents as well as honor them. While obedience may only be required until a child leaves the home, honor is an ongoing requirement that continues throughout one’s life. 

READING & PRAYERS:

     EPHESIANS 6:1-4

What are some practical ways you currently honor your parents? 

What are at least three additional ways you can honor your parents over the next few weeks? Be specific. 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, today I simply pray that You will continue to reveal to me how I can not only be obedient toward my parents, but also continually honor them. Similarly, help me to live an honorable life. Not so that my children will honor me, but so that they will come to see Your love and grace through my life. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Take on the Role of Christ

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Admittedly, there are many today who find Ephesians 5:21-33 difficult to understand and live out. However, the passage itself isn’t difficult when it’s studied out well so that one can better grasp what God is communicating to us. 

In this passage,God is saying that husbands need to take on the same role that Jesus had for the Church. Jesus served His people relentlessly. He washed the feet of His disciples, a role that at the time was only done by servants. He did not serve his people as an authoritarian, but instead, when the time came, Jesus willingly gave His life for the church. Taking on this role, husbands are to serve with this level of sacrificial love. 

Similarly, God is also communicating that wives need to take on the the role of Jesus. In the same way that Jesus submitted to God the Father, wives submit to their husbands. Not out of duty or obligation, but instead reflecting the delight, respect, love, and sacrifice that the husband models. 

In short, this passage communicates that both the husband and the wife take on the role of Christ within the marriage, loving one another in the same way Christ loves them. 

READING & PRAYERS:

     EPHESIANS 5:21-33 (also read the commentary notes in your study bible of choice)

For those who are married: What are some benefits for you to know and understand the full meaning of this passage? Think of as many as you can. (Write out any questions you may have from this passage, and commit to finding the answers.)

For those who are unmarried: What are some benefits for you to know and understand the full meaning of this passage? Think of as many as you can.  

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, it is encouraging for me to read this passage and to recognize that You are not indicating one person in a marriage is superior, nor are you indicating one person is inferior. You are simply showing that both parties take on the role of Christ within the marriage. Continue to help me see marriage in light of these beautiful truths. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Submit to One Another

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Translating the Scriptures from the original languages in which they were written (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) is a very challenging task. Those who have studied these languages recognize dozens of differences between how things were communicated in one culture compared to how those same things can be communicated today. Similarly, punctuation was different. None of the text contained quotation marks, bolded words, or other common rules we use today. There were no paragraphs or indentations. There were no chapters or verses included by the author. Instead, letters such as the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians would have been one lengthy paragraph. 

Because of these challenges, some translations of the Scriptures have small differences in which a new paragraph begins. Ephesians 5:21 (or 5:22) through 5:33 is one such example. Many modern-day translators believe that this passage, which focuses on some virtues within Christian marriage, begins with verse 5:21, And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

READING & PRAYERS:

     EPHESIANS 5:21-33

Take the time to write it out — Practically speaking, what does it look like to Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ? 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I recognize that You — as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — are difficult for me to fully understand. Each aspect of the trinity works together beautifully and without any animosity or disrespect toward one another. May my marriage and/or the marriages of others I know and love be a reflection of the oneness found in You. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Walk in Wisdom

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There’s a big difference between being intelligent and being wise. Those with a strong intellect can often find creative solutions to major problems. But they may do so at the expense of financial or relational wisdom with others. 

In Ephesians 5:1-21, the Apostle Paul contrasts some differences between living in wisdom and living in foolishness. A person who lives in wisdom makes the most of every opportunity (5:16), is filled with the Holy Spirit (5:18) and gives thanks for everything to God the Father (5:20). But one who lives foolishly engages in drunkenness (5:18), sexual immorality, impurity, greed, foolish talk (5:3-4) and/or other foolish patterns. 

Some may read through passages such as these and form of list of good behaviors and bad behaviors. But Paul isn’t simply highlighting behaviors. He’s focusing on what it looks like to be in Christ, living a self-sacrificial life. A life full of love, light, and wisdom. A life lived in this way is a life full of singing, making music, giving thanks, and submitting to one another (5:19-21). A live lived in this way is a life well-lived. 

READING & PRAYERS:

     EPHESIANS 5:15-21

What do you need to do today so that when your head hits the pillow tonight you will feel like today was a day well-lived? 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, the Psalms and Proverbs are a wonderful reminder that sometimes Your people experience severe life challenges, anxiety, sadness, and depression. Yet despite these circumstances they remained faithful to You, a sure sign of wisdom. Continue to provide me with the wisdom to know what’s right and the courage to do what’s right, even when it’s hard. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Walk in Light

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In Book 4 of the Harry Potter series, a new professor – Alastor (Mad-Eye) Moody – begins teaching the students at Hogwarts. Having worked throughout his life as an Auror, Professor Moody seems very wise due to his experience in capturing those who use dark magic. Throughout the book, he regularly emphasizes that the students need to live in a state of, “Constant vigilance!” The students are reminded that the enemy can strike at the most unexpected of times. As such, “Constant vigilance,” is the only proper solution.  

As followers of Christ, we shouldn’t be surprised to discover the themes of light vs. dark woven throughout the Scriptures. The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 5:8-9, For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! The Life Application Study Bible notes, “Our pasts may have dark times of cynicism, despair, shame, or self-doubt. Satan desires to lead us back into that darkness. We must reject him by intentionally living out what pleases the Lord. In this way, Christ’s light will keep shining brighter in us.”

To summarize, “Constant vigilance!” is good advice to live by.

READING & PRAYERS:

     EPHESIANS 5:8-14, 1 THESSALONIANS 5:5-8

How would you explain to somebody else what it means to live as a person of light? 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, today I am reminded that not only is the culture around me full of self-centered voices, but I myself have made decisions that include cynicism, despair, shame, and self-doubt. Help me to remember that my sins have all been forgiven so I can now live in freedom of shame, and instead can live in light. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Walk in Love

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Several tech companies today have caught on to the simple truth that people walk. Fitbit watches track steps, encouraging people to walk at least 10,000 steps a day. Garmin and Apple watches encourage a commitment to ongoing exercise and/or a certain amount of moving every day. But the simple truth remains – people walk. 

But oftentimes, the Scriptures use the term walking as a metaphor for living. As an example, in Ephesians 5:1-21 (ESV) we read about walking in love, walking in light, and walking in wisdom. 

What does it mean to walk (live) in love? The NLT Life Application Study Bible reflects on the sacrifice of Christ. It says, “Our love for others should be [as the love of Christ]—a love that goes beyond affection to self-sacrificing service.”

In our culture, we rarely see a good example of what it looks like to live with self-sacrificing service for others. Political parties, the media, and even social media are filled with statements of power, self-centeredness, and self-gratification. But to walk in love is to live self-sacrificially. 

READING & PRAYERS:

     EPHESIANS 5:1-21, GALATIANS 2:20  (also read the commentary notes in your study bible of choice)

Think about it: How regularly do you hear statements about power, self-centeredness, or self-gratification?

What steps can you take today to be an example of what it looks like to live self-sacrificially? Be specific. 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I recognize that my life is completely surrounded by voices of self-centeredness and self-gratification. Continue to help me grow into a person of self-sacrifice, living a life of love. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Imitate God

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What does your day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute relationship with God look like? Some may go to church Sunday in order to “fill up” their tank for the week, only to admit by Tuesday that they’re running on empty. Others may choose to “fill up” their tank with some kind of Scripture reading or devotional every morning, only to admit by evening that they’re running on empty. 

In short, too many followers of Christ believe the lie that if we do certain things in certain ways and at certain times our tanks will remain full. So when one rhythm and routine doesn’t work, we’ll try another. And another. And another. 

The unfortunate reality is that this is simply living by works-righteousness. We believe the lie that if we do certain things, God will bless us and life will go well. When it doesn’t work, we end up frustrated with God, feeling that we’ve done our part but He hasn’t done His. 

But the real truth is that God has already done His part. We don’t need to earn His favor, but rest in it. For followers of Christ, we are His children. Rest in His love and grace. 

READING & PRAYERS:

     EPHESIANS 5:1-2

How would your day be different if you took several opportunities and pause and remember and that you are a beloved child of God, and He is pleased to know you? 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I confess that far too often I do certain things believing that they will somehow earn me more favor with You. Help me continue to live by the truth, that as one who has professed faith and trust in Christ, I am a beloved child of God and nothing can separate me from Your love. May I rest in this every moment of every day. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Ephesians 4:25-32 — Talk it Out

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What truths from Ephesians 4:25-32 impacted you most this week? 

Consider talking or meeting with somebody you trust to discuss what you’ve learned this week and how it’s helping you to grow emotionally and spiritually. 

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Imitate Me as I Imitate Christ

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Think about this: Would you be comfortable to contact all of your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors today and tell them that they should live the way you’re living? Could you say them, “If you want to see what it looks like to be honest, generous, kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving, just imitate the way I live, because I am imitating the life of Christ really well.” 

It’s pretty astounding that the Apostle Paul not only felt comfortable saying something like this, he felt comfortable saying it quite regularly. Paul didn’t hesitate to write to others and say, “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” Or, “Follow my example.” Or, “Whatever you have seen from me, put it into practice.” 

Apparently, Paul was either very arrogant, or he was living in such a way that he was day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, remembering that he had set his old nature aside, and was now living his new nature. And by continually reflecting on the truth that he was now “In Christ” he was able to be the kind of example others needed for what it really looked like to live the Christian life. 

READING & PRAYERS:

1 Corinthians 4:16, 1 Corinthians 11:1, Philippians 3:17, Philippians 4:9, 1 Thessalonians 1:6,  2 Thessalonians 3:9 

What would it look like for you to day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute remember that you are “In Christ” and can abide in Him? 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, today I’m grateful for the reminder that I am “In Christ” and can be in constant union with God each and every moment of each and every day. May Your presence have such a profound impact on my life that one day I can confidently say, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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