Today's episode of A New Beginning is brought to you by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God.
Learn more at harvest.org. And while you're there, browse our library of free eBooks designed to help you grow in your faith. Escape your presence, but they can never escape your prayers. Keep praying for them. Christian parents invest a lot of themselves in training up their children in the ways of the faith.
It's their most important job, and they take it very seriously. But when a child exercises his own free will and declares his independence, they can leave mom and dad heartsick. Well, today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie offers reassurance from his family series, Am I Doing This Right? From Ephesians 6 Pastor Greg brings his message called, God's Plan for the Family. Here in Ephesians 6 verse 1 we read these words, Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise, that it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth. Honor your father and your mother.
Now I know. Moms and dads are not always honorable people. So we need God's help to be moms, to be dads. And just as we need help with our marriages, we need God's help as parents. It's hard to be a parent today. This is why we read in the gospels that the mothers brought their children to Jesus. And if you are a smart mom, you will keep bringing your child to Jesus.
Look at verse 4. You fathers, don't provoke your children to wrath, bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. The word provoke means to anger them. In fact the word provoke means a repeated pattern of treatment that causes a child to have anger and resentment that boils over to outright hostility. How would we provoke our children? One way we anger our children or provoke them is by showing favoritism to one child over another. Experts say the effects of parental favoritism left unchecked can be long lasting. A study was done that found siblings who sensed their mom consistently favored or rejected one child over another were far more likely to exhibit depression in middle age. The less favored kids also had ill will toward their parent or favored sibling.
You see this matters. Another way you provoke your children is by never complimenting them. You provoke them by never complimenting them or affirming them.
I grew up in a home where there were no compliments. There was no affirmation. There was no attaboys. It just wasn't done. No hugs. No kisses.
No I love you said by anyone to anyone. So one problem is never affirming our child. Another problem is over affirming our child. And the problem with this is it has produced a lot of narcissistic self-centered kids.
And I see it all the time. Now what are we to do? We are to bring them up it says in the training and admonition of the Lord. Bring them up. This could also be translated nourish and feed. Another translation says let them be kindly cherished. It says bring them up.
It does not say knock them down. Nor does it say leave them to themselves. Because Proverbs 29 15 says, a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. It is your job mom and dad. Your job to train your children. To bring them up in the way of the Lord.
And I will tell you why to bring them up. Because their sinful nature brings them down. I don't think I have to tell you that your child is a sinner. Just like you are a sinner. David said, In sin did my mother conceive me. I never had to teach my boys how to sin.
No. What we need to do is help our children come to Jesus and develop their own relationship with God. Listen to this. Nothing can really happen through us until this first happened to us. And Paul writes in Philippians 4 9, the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me practice these things. Listen.
Some things are caught and some things are taught. And what your children need to see is your faith in action. You know when I first became a Christian I came from this crazy broken home.
You all know that. And so I mean I was converted. My life was changed. And I would meet some kids that were kind of rebelling against God. And they would tell me how they came from homes of hypocrisy. And I would say, man you have no idea what a bad home looks like. I came from the worst home ever.
Why would you not walk with God. And later I began to realize what hypocrisy does. In some ways it is almost better. Almost. Not really.
But in some ways. It is almost better to come from a home of complete nonbelief than to come from a home where mom and dad say they are Christians and they don't live it. And I will tell you why. When you are raised in the kind of home I was raised in which was godless, multiple fathers, alcoholism, all that stuff. You know that is not good.
And I kind of saw the world up close and personal. I said I don't want that. There has to be something better. So at least I knew. This is not the example to follow. But when you come from a home where mom and dad say they are Christians and they contradict it and they are fighting and they are screaming and they are getting drunk or doing whatever they do or even breaking up this is the worst thing you can do to your kids.
Because now you have given them an excuse for their unbelief. So live a godly life. Best thing you can do for your kids man. Love your wife. Best thing you can do for your kids mom. Love your husband. Show them what love looks like. Show them what a good marriage looks like. And then as we teach our children it is a daily thing.
It is a lifestyle. Moses gave some great insights into this in Deuteronomy 6 verses 4 to 7. He says, These words I am commanding you today will be in your heart. Teach them diligently to your sons and your daughters. Talk to them when you sit down in your house, when you walk together, when you lie down, when you rise up.
I love that. Moses is saying man just do it all the time. Do it when they get up in the morning. Do it before they go to bed at night.
Do it when you are just out and about. I find some of the greatest spiritual moments with my children have been when we are just out doing things. And you will look for a teaching moment. You know sometimes Christian parents want to have their children live in a bubble. They are not going to allow any godless influences into our home. We won't even have a television set. We will have nothing. No media.
No internet. Just nothing. They will just sit in the house and I will read Bible verses to them all day long. Yeah that is not going to work real well. Because here is what is going to happen. Your sweet little children are going to see TV at a friend's house or walking down the aisle in a mall.
So look. Prepare them to live in the real world. So one thing I often do with my kids and I do with my grandkids too is you know they want to watch a cartoon I will watch it with them. I kind of like cartoons. You know I was going to be a cartoonist before I became a pastor. So I have always liked cartoons. But I have also noticed there is a lot of subliminal and sometimes not so subliminal messages in those cartoons. And certainly in those little sitcoms and those preteen sitcoms you know that you see a lot of now there is messages.
There are conveying messages. So I will watch it with the kids and afterwards I will ask them questions and I will try to help them interpret it. See what I am trying to help them develop is a biblical world view for themselves. And see things as God wants them to see them.
That is a constant process. You know there is nothing like hearing the Word of God and worshiping the Lord together. I want to encourage you to join us for something we call Harvest at Home. It happens every Saturday and Sunday at Harvest.org. You can join Christians from around the world as we worship and we study the Word of God together.
So join us for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org. Well Pastor Greg continues now with his message God's Plan for the Family. Sometimes children go astray. Yes sometimes they go astray and then we feel that we have somehow failed. You know my own sons both had prodigal times in their life. Both Christopher my oldest and Jonathan my youngest for a time went astray from their faith. But we never gave up on them. And both of them came back to Christ. So here is just some closing thoughts now.
Number one. Even when raised in godly homes sometimes kids rebel. Even when raised in godly homes. This doesn't mean you failed as a parent.
Here is a perfect example. Jesus told a story we call the parable of the prodigal son. The Bible doesn't call it that but we call it that. So you know the story. Jesus said there was a dad who had two sons.
And the youngest son came to his father. And I will loosely paraphrase now if you don't mind. Dad I am sick of living in this house with you. I am sick of your rules.
I am sick of your regulations. I want to go out and live my own life. And I want my inheritance. I don't want to wait until you die.
You are living too long. So just give me my inheritance now so I can go have some fun. Amazingly the father acquiesces. He gives the son his portion of the inheritance. It is not long until that boy has blown the family fortune on prostitutes and drunkenness and all kinds of stupid things.
And he came to nothing. But you know that father loved that son and never forgot about that son and prayed about that son as shown by his reaction when his son came home. So one day the son came to his senses and said you know what. The guys that work for my dad have it better than me. I am just going to go home and say father I know I have blown it as your son.
I would never expect you to see me that way anymore. But can you just give me a job so I can have food in my stomach. And well the boy was a great way off the father's stomach.
Sort of like the camera switches. So in one scene we are looking at the prodigal living with pigs literally. Starving to death. Miserable.
Broke. And so he makes his way home. Now the camera shifts and it is another scene. We are back home with dad at the estate. And dad is there on the porch maybe in his rocker looking down that long road the boy walked away on some years ago. And the father sees the son and Jesus says, the father saw the son and began to run toward him and threw his arms around his son. The son starts his speech. Dad I am no longer ready to be called your son. Just make me a heart servant.
Yeah whatever. Get out the fatted calf. Let's have a barbecue. Put a ring in his finger. This my son who is dead is alive again. He was lost is found. Now here is the point I am going to bring up. This boy was raised in a loving home but he still rebelled. And so this can happen. So don't feel like you are a failure as a parent if your children rebel.
Let me take it a step further. If you are a failure as a parent because your children have gone prodigal then God the father is a failure as a heavenly father. Because does not God have a lot of prodigals. Yes He does. And He is not a failure by the way.
It is just that we have a free will and God lets us utilize it. So what did the father do? He welcomed his son.
Here is point number two. If you have a child that goes prodigal stay true to your beliefs. The father never compromised. The father stood his ground and you need to do the same. Hold your course.
Lovingly teach the Word and continue on doing it. Listen both my boys knew that when they lived under my roof they lived by my rules. I said, these are the rules. And you live by my rules.
And you always show respect to your mom and me. If you have a disagreement that is fine. We want to hear your disagreement. But don't disrespect us. And here is what we believe. And this is what we do. Yes we go to church on Sunday. And that means you come to church with us on Sunday too.
And these are the standards we hold. And by the way I reserve the right to go anywhere on my house I wanted to go including my kids' rooms. Because sometimes people say, oh no that is their private space. Don't invade their space. I am invading any stinking space I want. Ok. What are you snooping?
You better believe I am snooping. Because if I find something that is destructive to the child I am going to bring it to their attention so they don't go the wrong way. That is part of my job as a parent. Like I said earlier they don't need me to be their best friend. They need me to be their dad.
And they need you to be their mom. Number three we should never give up on our kids. Don't give up. Keep praying. Listen to this. Your children can escape your presence but they can never escape your prayers.
Keep praying for them. And point number four always keep the door open. Always keep the door open.
Well my son Christopher was in his little prodigal phase which went on quite a few years. He always knew I loved him. He always knew I cared. And I kept communication open.
Even if he didn't communicate with me I communicated with him. I said let's get together for lunch. Let's do this.
Let's do that. My son Christopher told Levi Lusko his friend you know I kind of can measure my relationship with God based on my relationship with my father speaking to me. He said when I am right with God I am right with my dad. When I am not right with God there is tension between my dad and myself. But then he also told Levi the thing that brought me back to Christ was knowing that my father loved me unconditionally and that I could always go home.
And he did. And now he is home in heaven. Because how was I to know that one day would be his last day. But I am just so thankful that he was right with God and walking with God.
And as David said he cannot come to me but I will go to him. Some of you moms today, dads too, have a child that has gone on to be with the Lord. And so this is a hard day.
A hard day for you. But just remember you left that legacy with them and if they trusted in Christ you will see them again. I had a prodigal son.
You want to know another crazy thing in closing? I had a prodigal mother too. See my mom was raised in the church.
She went to a little Baptist church with her family in the McDaniel clan in Friendship, Arkansas. Every Sunday morning, every Sunday night, every Wednesday night my mom had a serious drug problem. They drug her to church in the morning, drug her to church at night, and they drug her to church midweek. And so she rebelled and she ran away from her faith and lived her crazy life.
And I went along for Charlene's Wild Ride. That was her name. And then of course the last thing she ever thought would happen her own son became a Christian and worse yet a preacher. But it was always hard to have that conversation with my mom about spiritual things. Whenever I would raise the issue she would say, I don't want to talk about that.
I don't want to talk about that. So one day I was on my way to church and I felt really led by the Lord to go talk with my mother about her soul. She is 70 now. She honestly looks like she's 90. The effects of her lifestyle choices had caught up with her.
All the drinking and smoking had ravaged her body and she was on dialysis three times a week. And I felt very strongly I should talk to her. So I drove her over to her house.
She was alone. I sat down. I said, Mom, I want to talk to you about your soul. She said, I don't want to talk about it.
I said, today we're going to talk about it. And that conversation resulted in her recommitting her life to the Lord. Now she's in heaven. She's in heaven. And I know I will see her again.
Is it possible we have some prodigal mothers or prodigal sons or people that have never met Christ. That's the bottom line. Now I am just talking to everybody. You are a mother, a father, a son, or a daughter. That pretty much covers it doesn't it.
And leave anybody out. You are one of those things. Whoever you are you need Jesus. Because you are separated from God by your sin. But 2,000 years ago Jesus Christ died on the cross for you and rose again from the dead. And now He is here with us in this place knocking at the door of your life and saying if you will hear His voice and open the door He will come in. Maybe moms you came to church today with your kids because that is what they wanted you to do.
Dads maybe you came along. You don't usually come to church. But here you are hoping I end this sermon soon and I will. Maybe you are just a kid and you come with your mom and dad to church and you are kind of young and you don't understand all the things I am saying.
But maybe you will understand this. God loves you. God wants to forgive you of your sin. And He wants to live inside of your heart. And He has a plan for your life. And He wants you to know that one day you can have the hope and assurance that you will go to heaven but for that to happen you need to ask Jesus Christ to come into your life.
Have you done that yet? If not I want to give you an opportunity to ask Christ to come in. Wherever you are at He will forgive you but you must come. Let's bow our heads now and everybody praying. Father thank You for Your word to us.
Thank You for loving us. And I pray for any here now or those that are watching that do not yet know Jesus. Help them see their need for You. Help them to come to You and be forgiven of all of their sin. In Jesus name I pray.
Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important prayer about coming to the Lord to find forgiveness of sins. And if you'd like to do that Pastor Greg will help you in just a moment so please stay tuned. Well it's so great to have Pastor Levi Lusko with us today. Senior pastor of Fresh Life Church with campuses in Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, and Utah. He and his wife Jenny have authored the new book called The Marriage Devotional.
Great resource. Now Levi you talk about the violin in this marriage in this marriage devotional. Listeners may think they don't need to spend time talking about the violin but they'll want to talk about the violin won't they?
Yes I think they will. You know we use violin as sort of shorthand for sex which is really an interesting probably illustration for most people but if you think about it you don't just pick up the violin and play a song by Beethoven at first blush. It takes practice. It takes years and it becomes more valuable with time.
I think Stradivarius violin is in the millions now but it's a rare piece of beauty. Not everyone can get their hands on one and sex as God intended it to be is sort of this secret treasure. This walled garden is language from the Bible about sex that we don't let anybody else in except for our spouse. It's not common.
It's not trafficked. It's treasured like a violin and you can get better at it over time as you practice. You know we want to take away culture. Culture puts this baggage on sex that you have it on the first date and that's as good as it's ever going to be. That's why most romantic comedies end the day they get married if they do indeed get married at all but really God that's just the beginning for what God wants as you grow in it and studies show the most happy demographic in our country when it comes to sexual satisfaction are married couples who have stayed married for decades been committed exclusively to each other and so it's not experience that makes you better at sex it's exclusivity that will make you better at it over time if you do things God's way.
Well imagine that God had it right all along when the Bible says for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh. So we have a great book for you that will help you learn more about how to have a stronger marriage hey how to have a better sex life in that marriage and it's called The Marriage Devotional written by that young man that you just heard from named Levi Lusko and his beautiful wife Jenny. It's a really fantastic book it's not like other books you've seen on this topic I love the honesty of it I love the vulnerability of it I love that it's based on scripture and so this is a book you want to get your hands on and we're going to send it to you for your gift of any size. Dave tell them how to get a copy. Sure we have it available for you right now just give us a phone call we're sending it to say thanks for your partnership partnership that makes these daily studies possible so call us today at 1-800-821-3300 we're here around the clock to take your call again the number 1-800-821-3300 or write a new beginning box 4000 riverside california 92514 or just go online to harvest.org. Well Pastor Greg you pointed out the importance of asking Jesus to forgive our sins a few moments ago.
That's right. Could you help those who want to do that very thing right now? Yeah you know the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ stands at the door of our life and he knocks and if any man will hear his voice and open the door he will come in. Maybe as you've heard me speak today well you've heard another voice speaking to you it's the voice of God and you realize you need Christ in your life you need your sin forgiven you want the assurance that you will go to heaven when you die well here's what you need to do you need to pray and I would like to lead you in a prayer right now where you will be saying to Jesus Lord come into my life I choose to follow you so let's pray. Lord Jesus Lord Jesus I know that I'm a sinner but I thank you for dying on the cross for my sin I turn from that sin now and I put my faith in you be my Lord my Savior and my God and my friend I choose to follow you Jesus from this moment forward thank you for loving me and calling me and accepting me in Jesus name I pray amen. Listen if you just prayed that prayer I want you to know on the authority of scripture that Christ himself has come into your life the Bible says these things we write to you that believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life if you just prayed that prayer in minute you can know today you have eternal life and may I be the first to say to you welcome to the family of God and we want to help you grow as a believer so let us send you our new believers growth packet we'll send it free of charge if you prayed with Pastor Greg today just call 1-800-821-3300 that's a 24 7 phone number 1-800-821-3300 or write us at a new beginning box 4000 riverside california 92514 or go to harvest.org and click on know God well next time Pastor Greg brings important insight and a message called how to divorce proof your marriage more from his series am I doing this right join us here on a new beginning with Pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie thanks for listening to a new beginning with Greg Laurie a podcast made possible by harvest partners helping people everywhere know God sign up for daily devotions and learn how to become a harvest partner at harvest.org
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