Over the last few years I have found myself in a sort of weird environment! When we returned to California after attending Bible College in Oklahoma, I suddenly found our home void of children since they were all grown up and pursuing their dreams and my wife’s mental abilities being savagely attacked to the point that in many physical respects… she was not quite at home with me either. Please don’t miss understand me here! My stand of faith is in the Word of God and in Peter’s’ declaration of Jesus’ finished work of the cross that : “…by whose stripes you (Piper, in this case) were healed.” (I Peter 2:24 MKJV) But while that Word is working in her body, we still have to deal and live with the physical symptoms.
During all this time I have thought a lot on our marriage and family through the years and wondered what and where I could have done better. And like most of us, I have found areas that I could have improved on as well as things I would not repeat if I could do it over again! Lately though, I have come to the conclusion that I did the best I could with what I knew to do at the time and with the resources we had at our disposal.
Today, when I look at my kids, their growing families and where they are in their place in life and the decisions that they are making, I realize that everything my wife and I attempted to do, whether successful or not, whether the results were positive or negative have been of aid to them. It is interesting and exciting for me to observe that they are not making the same mistakes that we did (and if they did, they cleaned it up a lot faster than we did!) and used our mistakes or miss-steps as a lesson NOT to be followed! On the other hand, they have followed through on the good lessons and used those as foundational stones in their lives.
The most wonderful inheritance that they have continued and developed is their love for the Lord and their sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Because of that one success, I feel that everything else comes in second place! My point is that as parents we will make mistakes with our kids, but the one redeeming factor is to be an example of Papa God’s love, peace, joy and patience to them… as well as to the kids in your neighborhood, church and city! I think that this is the best gift that we can give to the younger generations! As you study today’s Friday – The Third Week of Advent reading you’ll come to understand that as it obviously worked for Mary and Joseph in the raising of their son, it will work for you!
Friday, the third week of Advent
Today’s Readings: Proverbs 22:6 / Luke 2:39-40
As we near the conclusion of the story of the first Christmas, our portion of scripture in Luke infuses with Matthew’s details concerning Joseph, Mary and Jesus’ escape to Egypt and their eventual return to Israel. The author makes a point to declare that “they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.” (Luke 2:39 KJV) It must have been very important to God that Jesus be raised in the familiarity of His earthly parent’s home town. To have the comfort and security of living amongst family and friends who knew and cared for them.
From the scarce amount of information that the canonical scriptures give us, we can come to the conclusion that Jesus lived an ordinary childhood and experienced the same pleasures, trials and challenges that all children do as they grow up. But verse 40 establishes some very important details about His childhood and the way He was raised.
I believe that this small section of our story is to be read as a tribute to Joseph and Mary! The NKJV says that “the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” The God’s Word translation ends the verse by stating that “He gained favor from God and people.” These statements make it clear that Jesus’ earthly parents taught Him by precept and (probably more importantly) by example the things of God. They did whatever it took to establish Mary’s first born son in the understanding, trust and love of His Father God. And this was not accomplished at the expense of a natural education. While Jesus was a well-rounded individual in His secular and spiritual education, what preeminently came forth in His adult life and ministry was the firm foundation of the Word that was put into Him, primarily by the effort of His parents.
I think that this is one of the greatest lessons that parents, grandparents and all relatives alike should learn to follow in this life! We have a responsibility to the children and youth around us to be the best example of God’s love and holy living that we can be. I must confess that this was one of the primary reasons that I gave up having an occasional glass of wine or a beer many years ago. As I prayed and agonized over this, I came one day to the realization of the poor example that I was setting for my own children as well as for the ones that I ministered to in our church and as a soccer coach!
Many times the church will tend to attach Jesus’ unquestioning trust in God to His being the Son of God. But Jesus lived a normal life as the Son of Man until the Holy Spirit came upon Him following His baptism by John the Baptist. At that point I don’t believe that He was suddenly endued with all spiritual wisdom and understanding, but came to a much greater understanding of all the teaching that His earthy parents had bestowed upon Him as He grew up under their love and care. And you know what? It is never too late to start, especially if this wasn’t the pattern you demonstrated when your kids were at home! I have developed a stronger relationship now with my adult children than when they were younger. Now it is increasingly more exciting and rewarding to share the Word and our experiences with our faith to each other as never before!