God only knows who His elect are. If our sons and daughters are numbered among them they will be saved. Not one of God’s chosen ones will perish. Christ will have those whom He has redeemed. In God’s time, He will call His own from death to life by the power of the Holy Spirit. If some of our children are not chosen of God, they will not be saved. They will not believe. And those who will not believe deserve to perish.
But it is our responsibility to do what we can to bring our families into the family of God. I offer these words of instruction to you who believe, to you who are interested in the immortal souls of your sons and daughters.
1. If you want your family to be saved, see to it that you worship God with your family. If you do not see to it that your children hear the gospel, it is because you do not care for their souls. If you neglected to feed your children, it would be reasonable to assume that you cared nothing for their bodies. And if you do not provide them with the gospel of Christ, both by private instruction and by bringing them to hear the Word preached, it is obvious that you do not care for their souls. You can do nothing that is more positively harmful to your family than to rob them of the ministry of the Word.
2. If you care for the souls of your children you will exercise loving discipline in your home. Eli was a believer. He showed his wicked sons the way of faith and life in Christ. He taught them the gospel. He taught them right from wrong. And he prayed for them. But he was a miserable failure as a father, because he exercised no discipline over them. ‘He restrained them not!’ God told him plainly that the cause of his sons’ death was his lack of’ discipline as a father.
3. If you want your children to follow Christ, let them see that you follow Christ. By all means see to it that your sons and daughters regularly attend the ministry of the gospel. See to it that you pray for them and discipline them. But if your religion is all lip service, they will soon detect your hypocrisy. Set before them an example of love for, faith in and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ.
– From “Grace for Today” by Don Fortner
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” – Matthew 27:46
The fourth utterance from our LORD Jesus Christ. I had uttered these very words so many times in my life. As I was struggling with depression, I had to battle loneliness so many times. There would be so many people around me, laughing with me, but the wounds in my heart would tear me apart and this would be the silent cry from the heart, and at times, there were some feral screams too.
So, when I started to meditate on the Passion of our Lord, it bothered me. I was a sinner. I am imperfect. My heart rebels against God. So, I can understand if the LORD forsakes me. But why would Jesus Christ, the only Son of God utter these words in anguish?
Because God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. – 2 Corinthians 5:21.
Oh, now it makes sense. Jesus cried out because it was supposed to be me. It was I who was supposed to be forsaken. Instead, Jesus was made to be sin for us, that the Most Holy God, Who does not look at sin, had to forsake Jesus.
The love of God our Father Who was ready to hide His face from His only Son. The love of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and the Son of God, Who was ready to be forsaken for us. Is there any way to understand such a love? Especially when I think about the sin that has lived in me. For me. And because Jesus took my place and was forsaken, I know that promise the Lord gave me, when He brought me with a mighty hand into His fold, will never fail: I will never leave you nor forsake you.
As I was struggling with sin, it was very difficult for me to come into the presence of the LORD to seek His guidance. I was pulled in all the directions. Though many times I had dedicated my whole self – my soul, my spirit, my body and my mind – to God, I fell back into sin.
Of course, I did have my own excuses for falling into sin. “I am falling into sin, because my flesh is used to that. Once my flesh is crucified with Christ, sin shall have no dominion over me.” Except, I had crucified my flesh with Christ innumerable times.
In between, I had this trouble: am I waging a lonely battle that I am certain to lose? Will I lose my redemption? As I was struggling with these thoughts, I came across this Christian classic: “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners” by John Bunyan. (If you want a free copy of this book, click on the book cover on the left or here.)
I was surprised to find that one of the great Christian saints had to struggle so much with sin and that I am not alone in this struggle. Most importantly, it is not a battle I am meant to lose.
Meanwhile, I was getting warnings from my preachers and every one who knew me and who knew my struggle with sin. Shockingly, the more warning I received, the hardened became my heart. That scared me a lot. Why am I not scared of the punishment I was going to get? Why is my heart so hardened?
As the internal struggle went on and on, the less time I spent on reading the Bible. But one day, I finally took the Bible and started reading. And I was so sure that the LORD is going to speak to me through His Word and reprimand me for my stubbornness.
God did speak to me through His Word, but surely not in the way I was expecting. HE spoke to me through the first part of Isaiah 5:4.
What more could have been done to My vineyard that I have not done in it? (MKJV)
In those words, I didn’t hear the commanding and booming voice of our LORD. But I heard the plaintive voice of Jesus as He cried, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani”… “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
I heard Jesus asking in a plaintive voice, “What more could I do for you?”
I didn’t sense any rebuke in that voice… instead I saw the grace that was in His eyes when He looked on Peter after he denied Christ thrice (Luke 22:61).
And that love and mercy, the grace and the pain in that voice, broke my heart. With no second thoughts, I left that sin then and there and moved on.
For, what more could Jesus do for me? HE endured so much suffering for me. HE died for me. HE gave His life for me. HE even shed His last drop of blood for me. And, HE is still interceding for me. What more could Jesus do for me?
And whenever temptation comes across my way, my soul asks only one question: what more could Jesus do for me?
True positive should be based on the grace of the LORD and also on TRUE faith. Why just not faith? Why true faith? True faith has few indicators. Some of us born strong – not “Schwarzenegger” strong (Wow, I need to get an award for spelling that name without a mistake), but mentally strong. Often people who are mentally strong are taken to be strong in faith – unfortunately. True faith believes in the Word of God and has its foundation on the grace of the LORD. And, true faith does not boast on itself, but will give glory to the Author and Perfecter of our faith, our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ.
Let us look at one person who was not strong minded, but was filled with faith and how her positive attitude brought her blessings from the LORD.
3. Hannah. Hannah was the mother of prophet Samuel. And she was married Elkanah who also had another wife, Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but not Hannah. As a result of that, Peninnah often made derogatory remarks about Hannah and the Bible says, Peninnah would keep insulting till Hannah finally broke down and started weeping. So, we can see that Hannah was not that strong minded.
Finally, Hannah goes to the LORD. With her soul filled with bitterness, she pours her heart to the LORD. And here comes the three lessons that every Christian should learn about prayer.
The first lesson is how to pray. The Bible tells that while pouring her heart out, her lips were moving, but there were no sounds as she was praying in her heart. While there is nothing wrong in praying aloud, crying out to God… the prayers that only our Heavenly Father could hear have more punch than the prayers that everyone can listen to. (Matthew 6:6)
Second, when she was praying, Eli, the high priest was watching her pray. Since only her lips were moving and no sound was coming out, he thought that she was drunk. So he admonishes her. Now, Hannah tells him that she was just pouring her heart out to the LORD about her problems. But note that, she did not tell Eli exactly what her problems were. Imagine this for a second… what would we have done there, in that situation? We would have explained everything – what our problem is, why we are there pouring our heart to the LORD… but Hannah does not talk about her problems in detail. Because people can give us a temporary relief. But the LORD can solve our problems in ways that we cannot even fathom.
Finally, the most important thing is, Hannah had faith.
How do we know that? Now, Eli, who just a second thought she was a drunkard and admonished her, tells her to go in peace as the God of Israel may grant her what she had asked him. Again, what would be our immediate reaction – when someone, especially a priest, does not know the difference between us praying and us being drunk, blesses us saying that our prayers are heard – would we trust those words? No way. But Hannah trusted the words of Eli, because he was the priest of the LORD Almighty and the Bible says,
Her face was not sad anymore. – 1 Sam. 1:18b (NIRV)
She came to the LORD’s presence with sadness in her heart. Now, she goes out with faith, because the anointed of the LORD has told her to go in peace and she was not sad anymore. She believed that her prayers were heard and that she would get a definite answer from the LORD and her faith showed on her face.
How about you? Do you have faith that your prayers are heard by the LORD? Do you believe that He would surely answer you favorably? If you believe so, if you really have faith in the LORD, then your face will not be sad anymore.
With this positive attitude, Hannah goes home and now, she gets a son – Samuel, a prophet who anoints Saul, the first king of Israel and also, David, the greatest king from whose royal line, Jesus Christ, the Messiah and the Savior of all humankind was born.
But, there is a difference in the positive attitude of Hannah (which came from her true faith on the LORD) and Rachel (whose positive attitude is a result of positive reinforcement, saying the positive words again and again). When Hannah begot Samuel, she dedicated him to the LORD, while Rachel gets her son, she names him Joseph, so she could get another son.
See the end of these two women. Rachel gets what she wanted, she gets her son, but during delivery, she develops complications and dies right after getting what she wanted.
But when Hannah gave her only son to the LORD and magnifies God for answering her prayers (True faith: she does not claim that her son is the result of her faith, but honors the LORD), she is blessed and over the years, she had three more sons and two daughters.
What do you want today? How are you going to pursue your goals? Based on positive attitude, reinforcing positive words to yourself or are you going to have a positive attitude based on the faith on the never ending grace of our LORD? Both will take you to your goals. But with the former, that will be the end of it. But if you put your trust on the LORD and have faith in His eternal grace, dear friend, this is just the beginning. For the blessings of the LORD will make you rich and He shall add no sorrow unto it. Amen.
Romans 15:5-6 “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
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