“Into Your Hands”…Christ’s Purpose Fulfilled

“Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father! In Your hands, I place My spirit!” He said this and died.”

Luke 23:46 GNT

No doubt, if you are familiar with the story of Christ’s death and resurrection, you have heard these words…probably, numerous times! However your translation of Scripture puts it (commit, commend, place, entrust), you, most likely, recognize that Jesus was on the cross when He said this. After this, He died. Commit, commend, place, entrust…It may not seem like a big deal which word is used in this verse, but I believe it is! It can give us so much more of a correct view of what happened. Let me show you why.

Commit: carry out [usually in a negative sense, like a crime or mistake], pledge or bind a person to a certain course, be dedicated to something, transfer something to a state or place

Oxford Languages

Entrust: assign the responsibility for doing something to someone, put something into someone’s care or protection

Oxford Languages

Place: put in a particular position (used to express the attitude someone has toward someone or something), find a home for, identify or classify as holding a specified position in hierarchy

Oxford Languages

Commend: praise formally or officially, present as suitable for approval or acceptance

Oxford Languages

While all of these words have portions of their meanings that could fit here, “commend” is my favorite to fully encapsulate the intended meaning, which is so much more than just handing over His spirit. The word for this action, in Greek, is paratithémi; pará means “right close beside” and títhēmi means “to place, put.” If the meaning, here, was merely to place His spirit in the Father’s hands, títhēmi would have been used here all by itself…but it wasn’t! The fact that paratithémi was used lets us know that His spirit was placed in the Father’s hands…right next to the Father!

“But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”

Luke 22:69 ISV

but He, when He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God;.

Hebrews 10:12 ASV

Another crucial ingredient to this is that in Hebrew, the hand is “the instrument a person uses to accomplish their purpose (their intention or plan).”

In Hebrew, the hand is “the instrument a person uses to accomplish their purpose (their intention or plan).”

HELPS Word-Studies

Jesus was the instrument that the Father used to accomplish His intention!

“For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God Who sent me, not to do My own will.”

John 6:38 NLT

Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment [to separate those who believe in Me from those who reject Me—to declare judgment on those who choose to be separated from God], so that the sightless would see, and those who see would become blind.”

John 9:39 AB

“For the Son of Man also did not come to be waited upon, but to wait on others, and to give His life as the redemption-price for a multitude of people.”

Mark 10:45 WNT

“When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor; those who are sick do. I’ve come to call sinners, not people who…have God’s approval.”

Mark 2:17 GWT

“Truly, I tell all of you emphatically, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces a lot of grain…Now, My soul is greatly distressed, and what should I say? ‘Father, deliver Me from this hour?’ No, but for this very reason I have come to this hour.”

John 12:24 ISV, 27 NETB

These are just some of the purposes Scripture reveals for why Jesus came. On the cross, after the sin of the world was put on Him, displayed through the darkness above the ground for three hours (see the post before this one for more on that), Christ, the ultimate sacrifice, had completed His purpose. Just like any sacrifice is offered, He offered Himself to His Father and thus, completed His Father’s purpose. His sacrifice was approved and accepted by God the Father!

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”

John 3:16-17 ESV

“He went once for all into the Holy Place [the Holy of Holies of heaven, into the presence of God], and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, having obtained and secured eternal redemption [that is, the salvation of all who personally believe in Him as Savior].”

Hebrew 9:12 AB

I don’t know about you, but this picture…the accomplishment of all He was sent here to do; placing Himself, His blood, His spirit in the hands of the Father for approval; basically saying, I’ve been Your hands, Your feet, Your voice; I’ve accomplished everything You sent me down to earth from heaven to do; “It’s finished!” and, having been approved, is sitting next to God the Father…stirs my soul so much more than merely acknowledging He was ready to die and, in displaying His dedication and submission, handing His spirit over to His Father’s care and protection. I hope, as you reflect on Christ’s death for you, it, too, stirs your soul and causes you to praise Him!!!

Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

Emerging from the Darkness

He’d come to visit me when I was on my own and single. My little brother and I had planned ahead of time to take in a concert at a nearby college. The artists performing both professed to be believers. As the opening “act” began, the gym was pitch black. Deep red lights began to progressively fill the stage. I don’t remember every detail, but the posture of the lead singer, her motions, and wardrobe, amidst the darkness and red hues, left an impression on my soul: pure light was missing. A growing urge stirred within me that I could not dismiss. I remember turning to my brother and letting him know something was wrong; there was a dark presence that I didn’t want to be part of, and, even at his young age, he said he could feel it, too. We quickly left the gym together and sat for the entire set of that “performance” in the entrance area of the building. I remember gaining more than we were “missing.” Not only did we unite in our desire to flee the darkness, which still unites us today, but we solidified our relationship through good conversation, time spent together (which is a love language for us both), and a strong bond built through the action of following the leading of the Holy Spirit.

From the beginning of the earth, God divided the light from the darkness (Genesis 1:4). In Scripture, light resembles purity, holiness…God Himself.

“We write to you about the Word of life, which has existed from the very beginning. We have heard it, and we have seen it with our eyes; yes, we have seen it, and our hands have touched it. When this life became visible, we saw it; so we speak of it and tell you about the eternal life which was with the Father and was made known to us. What we have seen and heard we announce to you also, so that you will join with us in the fellowship that we have with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ…Now the message that we have heard from His Son and announce is this: God is light, and there is no darkness at all in Him.”

1 John 1:1-3, 5 GNT

Darkness is where there is no light, so it, logically, resembles sin, evil…Satan, the enemy and opposer of God.

As we remember Christ’s death for us and celebrate His resurrection, I want to marinate on something. Whether or not you’ve noticed it before, I hope you’ll take the time to reflect on the fact that God always has a purpose! Some people dismiss the Old Testament as “old,” but all of Scripture purposefully points to Jesus!!

For instance, do you know how Moses told Pharoah to let the LORD God’s people go a three days’ journey into the wilderness to keep a pilgrim feast (Exodus 5:1) and sacrifice to Him (Exodus 3:18)? Do you remember how God brought 10 plagues on the land of Egypt, because Pharoah refused to do what the LORD God commanded in letting His people go? Let’s look at the ninth plague–darkness–and one of its purposes.

“So Moses lifted his hand to the sky, and a deep darkness covered the entire land of Egypt for three days.”

Exodus 10:22 NLT

“They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the people of Israel had light where they lived.”

Exodus 10:23 ESV

We’re not talking the kind of darkness that seems dark, but is invaded by the light from the city around. We’re talking darkness, like the sun went down and is no longer in sight…like “I know you’re there, but I can’t see you” kind of darkness…so much so that the people of Egypt didn’t stand up from the place they were seated or laying for THREE days!

Take a look at another set of verses that took place while Jesus was dying on the cross…

“It was already about noon, and the whole land became dark until three in the afternoon.”

Luke 23:44 ISV

“The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle.”

Luke 23:45 NLT

“Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Father! In Your hands, I place My spirit!‘ He said this and died.”

Luke 23:46 GNT

It was about noon (Jewish time) when darkness filled all the space above the ground; this was the time when the sun would have been directly overhead, but the sun stopped giving light. It stayed that way for THREE HOURS! During this time, Jesus was alive, but our sins (pictured through the darkness) were placed on Him before His death.

“This was done late on Friday afternoon, the day of preparation, as the Sabbath was about to begin.”

Luke 23:54 NLT

“The women who had followed Jesus from Galilee went with Joseph and saw the tomb and how Jesus’ body was placed in it.”

Luke 23:55 GNT

“Then they went back and prepared spices and perfumes, and on the Sabbath, they rested, according to the commandment.”

Luke 23:56 ISV

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women went to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared [to finish anointing the body].”

Luke 24:1 AB

“Full of fear, the women bowed down to the ground, as the men said to them, “Why are you looking among the dead for One Who is alive?”

Luke 24:5 GNT

“Jesus isn’t here! He has been raised from death…”

Luke 24:6a CEV

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,”

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 ESV
Photo by Simon Wood on Unsplash

“Then Jesus, again, spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; the one who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

John 8:12 NASB

Jesus, the Light, fulfilled the promises of God in Scripture! I hope you can see the connection throughout Scripture between darkness, sin, and opposing God as well as Light, forgiveness, and following God. God divided darkness and light in the beginning, and He is still dividing those who oppose Him and are in darkness from those who follow Him; I hope you have chosen to follow God today and experience walking with Him, because you have believed in Jesus, confessed your sin, and received forgiveness through Jesus, the Light of the world!

Digging for Gold

There’s a lot of negativity going around these days! Believe me; it’s in my home, too, as much as I hate it! It’s SO easy to focus on the negative of whatever the situation…how somebody else is treating you, what new policy is being enforced due to the pandemic, vacation or wedding plans getting postponed or canceled, health issues, being unable to have children, hearing news that riles you…It’s in these situations that our focus typically determines our perspective, whether we’re going to be optimistic or pessimistic. You and I both have a choice of where we set our eyes (and heart, for that matter).

Kelly Minter is an author, singer, songwriter, and speaker, whose Bible studies have been used greatly in my life, as I began to aspire to really digging into the Word like a spiritual archaeologist. Not only were there fascinating nuggets to find within the text, but there was also the process of researching the time period, the customs, etc., that brought the Word to life in a different way. Kelly recently began a new podcast that I’m super excited about! It’s, basically, a Bible study, one day a week, digging into the Word with her. Some episodes may look slightly different, adding in some fun, like recipes, gardening info, missions focuses, etc., that make up a lot of who Kelly is, but her focus on the Word is what I’m coming back for!

Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash

I know! A podcast can take some time to listen to, and time seems like a commodity. I haven’t been big into podcasts in the past, but this was an investment worth making, in my opinion! I happened to have some “mindless” paperwork I had to do this week, so I played the first episode of her Cultivate podcast while I got to “work.” The time went so quickly, but the dig and its “finds” were many! This first episode is worth sharing, so I’m passing it along to you all. Whether you’re taking a walk, doing dishes or cleaning, resting and listening, or sharing time together with family or friends, take this in! It’s about a half hour long, but I hope you, too, find nuggets that are worth your investment, as Hannah’s story reminds us of the focus of worship.

Step#1: Click on this link:


Step #2: Click on the “Play” button (sideways triangle) to the left of “Ep 1: When God Turns Pain Into Blessing (Life of Hannah).”

* Don’t forget to come back and let me know what you thought!

Self-Promotion: Turning the Tide

A verbal jab was thrown and knocked another square in the jaw. The one who threw it wanted to get a laugh from those around you all and certainly achieved it…at the other person’s expense! Then, you looked at the one on the receiving end of the jab. She may have been laughing along to show she could take it, or maybe the hurt was expressed all over her face. Either way, she was the recipient of what Paul was referring to in Philippians 2:23 as “selfish ambition.”

“Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves.”

Philippians 2:3 GNT

Ambition…A lot of times we look at this word as a positive thing. It’s something that drives us. It’s the strong desire to energetically work hard at something in order to persuade someone…to persuade them that we’re more important, we’re funny and should be accepted, we’re the one for the job, the one who deserves the raise, the one who should be elected, honored, rewarded, and/or valued…The attention we, ourselves, seek feels justified; getting a step ahead of someone else is warranted, in our eyes. “Didn’t you see all that I’ve done?” “Haven’t you seen what I’ve had to go through to get here?” However, there are times when language is manipulated in order to deceive others to have the same view as we do or to give us the upper hand. Sometimes, actions are purely entertainment…entertainment with no values. Sometimes, our biases put a film on our glasses and keep us from seeing clearly. Other times, we make up ideas, views, reactions, or experiences just to fit in or gain something we crave.

Photo by Armand Khoury on Unsplash

Paul instructed the believers in Philippi to refrain from doing anything that feeds our bodies above everything else, with no care of what destruction or pain it causes along the way. By “selfish ambition,” he’s referring to our desires, our body’s appetite for our physical needs…anything that rivals “us.” It’s pretty easy to stoop low and throw punches below the waist in order to win, but Paul teaches that instead of putting ourselves, our gain, ahead of others (including God and His will for us) or having a kind of pride that has no substance (no backing to it), we should set our minds on being humble.

Now, if we’re like most people in the circle of believers, we’d probably say, “I don’t do that! Of course, I look out for others!” So, maybe we don’t weasel our way to get ahead or dance on others when they’re down, but have we ever said something like:

  • “I’m so busy with everything I’m signed up for at church! It’d be really nice if ______ would help out every now and then!”
  • “Did you see _______’s Facebook post/page?!? I wouldn’t post that!”
  • “That coach is a joke! I could never be a coach, but I could do better than that!?”

One thing that stuck out to me, when digging into this verse, is that “better” literally means to hold someone up, to view them as superior. Mmmmm. Does that hit you, too? So often, we hold a view that we are better than them…that we are superior! Isn’t this mindset a cure for so much of the hate that’s going around these days?

Another thing that hit me was what I didn’t see verbalized in any of the translations I looked at…that “considering,” “regarding,” or “esteeming” is, actually, being a person in authority, leading the way. We are ambassadors of Christ and His kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:20); we have been given the authority to represent Christ and His message! People look to us as ones who know about Him, who know the Way. So, how are we leading others in that Way…to Him? Are we leading well? I know I need to consistently think before I speak; it’s so easy to speak out of emotions or feelings. Thinking first takes a lot of discipline, thought, effort, and intentionality, but it’s what’s required of us in order to humbly lead others well.

I have to brag on my hubby a minute…The other day, he was in a group of leaders where members started verbally “bashing” someone he knows in authority. He stepped in and reminded them to “stay positive” and focus on the job at hand. Every single one of them took notice of his response and leadership, and every one of them changed their verbiage off of the person and onto the task. I was (and am) so proud of him!

Let’s stay focused on the “job” at hand and reign ourselves in! Have the courage to be authentic, stand out from the crowd, and raise others (in our minds) higher than ourselves! Little do we know how much of an impact we can make on those around us and what changes we can make, as we lead with humility, integrity, and selflessness. A lot of conversations we have will look a LOT different!

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Running Toward My Giant

The reality of having a brain tumor had set in for several months; my mobility, functionality, and the pain in my head were all worsening. I was told by two doctors that the tumor wasn’t to blame, but something just wasn’t right; we had to be sure. We sought out the Mayo Clinic; they’d know.

As the weeks went by, awaiting my appointments, there seemed to be more questions than answers…and I continued to be immobile, accompanied by pain like I’d never felt. I had a lot of time to be alone with my thoughts, but more and more of that time was spent seeking God. At times, I was petitioning Him for an earlier appointment date at Mayo (which He answered in His beautiful, “I Can Do All Things” way). Other times, I just sat in the quiet, waiting to hear what He wanted to say to me, do through me, or just listened to His singing His peace over me. I’d cry out to Him, as the pain increased, and thank Him for the sweet servant hearts, displayed by my hubby, kiddos, parents, and friends, who all cared for me so selflessly (and in the case of my hubby, kiddos, and mom, “tirelessly” is also an appropriate word). God was still so good…always!

During this time, the LORD showed me something within very familiar verses.

“But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.’…”

1 Samuel 17:34-37a NIV

“He took his staff in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook and put them in the pouch in his shepherd’s bag. He approached the Philistine with his sling in his hand.”

1 Samuel 17:40 ISV

The LORD showed me that David didn’t run from his “giants;” he ran toward them!! He knew God’s presence and power were enough for him. He’d seen Him do great things before and trusted Him to be able to do them, again! Because of this, he didn’t shy away from trouble; he ran toward it!

In all of these situations, David had a purpose: 1) to kill the lion and bear, who were taking sheep from the flock, and rescue the sheep and 2) to kill the Philistine and rescue the people of Israel…He was to attack the enemy, be used by God to rescue the ones needing rescuing, all while proclaiming the LORD as being the One Who delivered him!

And David says, ‘YHWH, Who delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He delivers me from the hand of this Philistine.’ And Saul says to David, ‘Go, and YHWH is with you.’”

1 Samuel 17:37 ISV

“David told the Philistine, ‘You come to me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Armies, the God of the army of Israel, Whom you have insulted. Today the LORD will hand you over to me. I will strike you down and cut off your head. And this day, I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals. The whole world will know that Israel has a God. Then everyone gathered here will know that the LORD can save without sword or spear, because the LORD determines every battle’s outcome. He will hand all of you over to us.”

1 Samuel 17:45-47 GWT

Check out how many times, in Verses 45-47, David talks about the LORD!!! When you read these verses, do you sense fear? David’s standing in front of the champion of the Philistines (1 Samuel 17:4), who’s just been hurling insults at him (Verses 43-44)! The enemy is 9 FEET 9 INCHES tall and stellar strong!!! Yet, in these verses, I don’t see any indication that David is afraid. What I see is faith, trust, confidence, and boldness, because of the LORD God, Whom he serves!

When we face our giants, where is our focus? The giant or the LORD?
Does the enemy, tempting us with fear, have to run, because our testimony screams of our faith in our God?

I loved this when the LORD showed this to me…and still do! It resonates within me! My tumor, my health, and my inability to do things I used to didn’t feel so big. I felt (and still feel) His presence so strongly that I knew whatever I met on this unknown path could be destroyed, if He wanted it to be…or He would use it to shout His name!! “The LORD determines every battle’s outcome!” Although the tumor has grown, my activity level isn’t (and may never be) normal, I deal with a number of medical disorders, and the enemy continues to try to overtake me, I am confident in the LORD and His purpose for me. I’m pursuing His purpose…and Him!

I hope you clearly hear, in all I say throughout this blog, my shouting the name of the LORD as my battle cry and pointing you to Him–He is my strength and sustainer, in Whom my hope, peace, and victory are found!

May those needing rescuing be “rescued” by the Truth of His Word through these works of His hands, as He speaks to my soul and continues to move my fingers, typing each “day” of the study of His Word as well as each blog post! Amen.

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

What Distractions Weigh You Down?

“Aaaaahhh! There’s a stick!…Oooo! Catch that leaf! The wind is blowing it a cross the yard!!…Who is that at the neighbor’s?!?…Squirrrrrelll!!!”

If you’ve read the last post, you know that we’re working on training our puppy. Just this morning, we were outside, working on heeling, but whatever smells were on or under the ground were WAY more appealing to our pup than my voice or the treats I had to offer. Yesterday, we were playing fetch (which he’s really good at), but he decided that a detour behind our out-garage was worth his time. Why is a tour through the woods more fun than playing fetch?!?…(Sigh.)…It’s SO much easier to train inside, where the distractions are less; he obeys much more quickly!…Isn’t that all of us?

How are your “heeling” lessons? Are you walking closely by your Master? What’s your biggest distraction?

If you’ve spent any length of time in a store, you’ve seen this, as well. It doesn’t matter if it’s a child or an adult, walking toward what they came for; they soon become distracted by something sitting in the middle of the aisle that marketers bank on (literally) drawing their eyes and attention to. If they’re focused (especially if they’re driven by a time crunch), they may be more apt to succeed in getting only what they came for; however, if they have even a little time on their hands, it can be so easy to get distracted!

Temptation…Even Jesus was tempted. Following His baptism, the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness. During the 40 days He was there, Satan whirled distractions at Jesus with the hopes of enticing Him to sin. While Jesus aced the tests, we often don’t. These 40 days are the basis for the 40 days some observe as Lent, approaching the celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Whether or not you observe Lent, many view it purely as a time to give something up…to test their self-control. Yet, take a look at this…

“Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won’t let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us.”

Hebrews 12:1 CEV

Just like people watch a race, those around us, who pass us, who live next to us, who do life with us, who drive behind us…watch us! This verse alerts us that we need to run this race of life, which God has gifted to us, well. To do this, we need to throw off/get rid of anything that weighs us down.

What is this to you? What weighs you down?

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.”

1 Peter 5:7 NLT

All your worries, cares, anxieties…This meaning comes from a word that refers to distractions. These distractions weigh us down; they make it harder to move forward; and they take our focus off the finish line and the prize.

Photo by Todd Trapani on Unsplash

Just like when training a dog, you are going to train him in a quieter environment, first, to get him to recognize your voice and develop positive habits of obedience. When training a child, you begin at home; you don’t start your first lesson at the grocery store. When God is training us, as believers, He will, at some point, put us in a position where we are alone with Him (I have learned more about the LORD and heard His voice more clearly than ever before during my health issues, where I have been immobile and in the quiet, seeking Him).

Maybe, for you, it’s the death of someone you love…or Covid…or moving to a new place where you don’t know anyone…or when you’re between jobs…or in a situation that just brings you to our knees; it feels so out of control. This is a training ground. We have the opportunity to become more and more obedient in these quiet hours, learning to hear His voice more clearly, but He WILL expose us to more noise, more distractions. Will we absentmindedly pick up that heavy pack of distractions and run, weighed down by it, or will we run to our Shelter, our Dwelling Place, along life’s path, drop off the heavy pack at the foot of His throne, knowing He will take care of it, and continue to run the race God has designed for us? Will all those watching see where and Whom we ran to in this contest, this struggle? Will they see what we did and how we continue to run, freer, lighter, after dropping off the heavy pack? Will our actions inspire others to do the same?

“fixing our attention on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of the faith, Who, in view of the joy set before Him, endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:2 ISV

Jesus, too, had a race to run. He had a goal before Him, a hard road, threw off (disregarded) what would try to bog Him down, and finished the race well (“…’It is Finished!’…” John 19:30)!

As you reflect on your journey (your race), where is your attention focused?

Is there something weighing you down from reflecting Who Jesus is, why He came, and that He lives…in you?

What do you need to get rid of (not for the sake of testing your self-control, but releasing your control–or its control of you–and dropping whatever it is off to God)?

Positively Negative: Training Tools

He went for the sandal one more time. He realizes you notice him and bolts under a chair, tucked under the Dining Room table. You get down on his level, peering under the table, and give him the command to “drop it.” Is this Groundhog Day? You’ve lost count how many times you’ve done this…how many times he‘s done this. He drops the shoe, obeying your command…after the fourth time you’ve given it. You’ve already thrown away one pair of shoes he’s ruined, and your patience is wearing thin. What do you do? If you respond with a “No!” for taking the shoe in the first place, because you’re frustrated, he’ll think he did something wrong in obeying your command/dropping the shoe; yet the last thing you feel like doing is praising him!

As we are working on training our pup, this thought of positive reinforcement has been on my mind. How often do I harbor frustration with my kids for what they did 10 minutes ago and react to that situation, instead of their current behavior? Or worse, I’ve been known to hold on to that previous situation, which affects how I react to a different one with a different child!

I “randomly” ran across the following post this week (click below to read). I had already been translating the positive reinforcement training thoughts to circumstances with our children, so I, naturally, took notice when I read its title (I think God was giving me another nudge, as I’m still a work in progress).

Reading through the list of phrases was good for me. I may not say the phrases exactly the same way, but our kids should still be reminded of these Biblical truths. Just as one reader pointed out, this positive approach, though, doesn’t mean you don’t point out a child’s negative behavior and call it what it is–sin. It just means, you include a positive truth with it, as well, to reinforce positive behavior. Does that make sense? Let me explain.

We were dealing with an obedience issue with one of our dear kiddos. Instead of only focusing on the fact that what was instructed was not obeyed, I began with the fact that the behavior exhibited after coming home was helpful and joyful. I had also noticed positive efforts at “checking” thoughts at the door of the mind and altering the words that were chosen. I made a point to highlight this kiddo’s positive choices with them before discussing the current negative ones. It made the atmosphere more conversational, loving, instructive, and our child was more receptive than if I had just whirled right into how disappointed I was with the disobedient choice and disrespectful body language and words. I’m talking about the Word all the time, so if I say, “The Bible talks about…” I may just lose my kid’s attention in his or her moment of frustration. However, if I make a point to, first, intentionally connect with them by encouraging their good choices, as it relates to how God has instructed us to live, I find they tend to be more receptive when we approach the “other stuff.

Photo by Nathan McDine on Unsplash

It’s clear, in Scripture, that we don’t need to shy away from “Do Nots.” They’re all over the Bible in order to establish healthy boundaries and lead us in the way we should live. However, we’re instructed in Proverbs 22:6 to train children by showing them where moral and character choices, that are opposite God’s designed path for us, will take them. This equips them with the knowledge and wisdom to turn away from this behavior and follow God’s path into a ripe old age.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Ephesians 6:4 ESV

The Greek word for “bring them up,” is “ektrephó.” English translations don’t do it justice. The word is combined with meanings, “out from” and “to feed.” To feed is obviously a positive action and is necessary to grow a life, yet “out from” gives a nod, again, to helping our children understand where their negative choices will head.

The Greek word translated, “discipline,” in this verse refers to giving instruction to train a child, so they can grow and mature. The Greek word translated, “instruction,” is teaching, for sure, but it includes God’s warnings that help a child reason the “whys” in his or her mind. “Because I said so” just doesn’t cut it.

“…instruction,” is teaching, for sure, but it includes God’s warnings that help a child reason the “whys” in his or her mind.

This can be daunting. We don’t always feel like we have time to sit and have this kind of necessary conversation in every situation…nor do we always feel capable, equipped with all the answers. That’s where submitting to God comes in.

“So place yourselves under God’s authority. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you.”

James 4:7 GWT

This is monumental and applies to us as parents, but He doesn’t expect us to do it alone. He promises to give us wisdom when we ask Him (without doubting–James 1:6). However, if we try to assume the authority and go solo, that’s where Satan sneaks in the open door with lies, harsh tones, and words that are harmful.

Believe me! This isn’t just for parents with littles! Ephesians 6:4 is, actually, a directive to ALL believers, not just fathers…It’s everyone who’s experienced a close relationship with his/her heavenly Father, including His love, instruction, and teaching. Even if you don’t have earthly kiddos, you can still weigh in on this! All of us are kids of someone and need a loving, guiding hand, at some point, in all phases of life!!

How have you instructed and taught children (yours, your nieces/nephews, grandkids, those at church, friends’ kiddos) God’s warnings this week?