Monday, March 1, 2010

Soul-winning Really Oughta Start At Home

On the cross Jesus Christ did the most important Task, but He didn't forget His family there. While suffering for you, me and those around the globe for ages to come ..He still took good care of His family!

Will you husbands and fathers take good care of your families? That would indeed please Him. The psalmist said, "I will lead a life of integrity in my own home" (Ps. 101:2, nlt). Want God to give you public anointing in your ministry endeavors? How do you expect to have this without private integrity, earnest prayerfulness and practical service ..starting in the home?

Now, I was always taught: "God first, spouse second, children third, work / ministry / school forth and church fifth. Everything else comes after those." I believe this is only right. Maybe you were taught these priorities too.

"'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." ~Ephesians 5:31-33, nkjv

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." ~ Genesis 2:24

A primary purpose of God in marriage is to make those in it holy, not merely happy. Nothing challenges human self-centeredness more.

"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.' And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart." ~Ephesians 6:1-4, nkjv

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men." ~Colossians 3:18-23, nkjv

What do you have first in your life right now, and second, and third, and forth, and fifth? When we read through the entirety of Scripture, we can see the order of priorities that we believers are to have. It would appear to be this way:

1. Relatiionship with the Lord – The God of the Bible; worshipping and serving Him is to come first before all else. Jesus Christ commanded in Matthew 22:37-38, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment." So, our first priority is worshipping the Bible God. Do you give your time, talent and treasure to God? Why not? Has a lame minister let you down? God will still show you a way to serve Him.

Ministers, your relationship with Jesus Christ comes before all your church ministries. PasWe cannot be whole and balanced human beings without a close relationship with Jesus Christ.

2. Spouse - Your spouse comes second only to God, as you are indeed one flesh. God has only two rules for marriage: Love and submit. Not too much. And you are both to be in agreement about biblical discipline (under God's authority) with the children if He ever blesses you with some. If you are married, no one is to become a closer friend to you than God or your spouse.. yup, not even emotionally. Right now who do you spend the most time with? Who are you talking with the most ..and about what?

If there was only more holy courting before and during marriage, there'd sure be fewer marriages in court. ~Anon

"Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun." ~Ecclesiastes 9:9

3. Children - Your children come third. They are a major part of your family of course, and are the fruit of your marriage. Nothing else comes before your children, except your spouse and God. Our kids are to be protected by both parents and loved without partiality (one spouse should stand up to protect the children if the other partner is lost and refuses to. Proper discipline is good, but one partner is not to allow the other to partner to injure the children in any way--sad that even needs to be said). The children need careful, accurate, practical Bible training by the Spirit and this training will take time and persistence. It can also happen naturally as you go through your day with them.

Paul said in First Corinthians 11:3, "Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God."

So if man came from God as he did, and woman came from man, and then the kids came from the woman, so kids are to be subject to their mother, father, and Father God, but all (the woman, man and kids) should put God first because he is the ultimate Authority.

The fathers (as the spiritual leaders in the home) are primarily responsible for the children's training—not your church or Sunday school class. Think about what Proverbs 19:18 says, "Discipline your son in his early years while there is hope. If you don't you will ruin his life" (tlb). Why 'ruin' your kids by being too busy to teach, listen to and love them? Why hurt them by putting your personal wants and desires above time with them? It is not easy, but we must put our kids third on our priority list. your family doesn't need king child deciding if the family will go to church on Sundays or when they will go to bed. We should provide Christian homes, sound Bible teaching churches and the right schooling for our children. When they become adults they will be responsible for themselves and on their own. We can and should pray for each child all their life and give advice when they ask for it, but it's a crucial time when they are young to point them to the Word of God.

4. Your Career / Job / Ministry calling / School ..needs to come number four. Work has its place, and of course there will be appropriate times where work will be more of a priority than the other things here (in number four here.. like school and public ministry commitments) because you'll need to honor the Lord by paying your bills on time, but work should never come before your relationship with the Lord. You are not to have employment that is committed to hurting other people ..knowingly or unknowingly (like say in the "sick adult entertainment arena"). Duh. 

If you are constantly laying out of (a Bible teaching) church all the time because you say you've got to work more or play golf (and that you can simply worship out on green.. "holy in one, holy in one, holy in one!"), then something is wrong. Repent.

If you are constantly using work to keep away from ministering anywhere then something is wrong (of course many people attend church and don't know that they are lost and they have no grasp on how to minister in the Spirit). A career can become a man's identity and literally consume his life if he lets it—real bad idea! Your identity is primarily to be in Christ as His servant.

We've seen some lazy men use "ministry commitments" at church to keep from going to work anywhere (they shouldn't be ministering at church at all). It is important however that we do provide for our families. Paul said in 1 Timothy 5:8, "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

"Dishonest money brings grief to the whole family, but those who hate bribes will live." ~ Proverbs 15:27

5. Your Christ-exalting, Bible teaching local church is to be your fifth priority. Don't just move away from your sound church to take a better career without first praying as a family about it. This commitment is to be very important to you. Is there a sound church in that other location at least? What does God want for your family? How can you know unless you ask Him?

All real Christians are to be a part of a fellowship of growing Christians that strengthens their faith and helps them to keep the family separate from the negative worldly influences that would pull them down, or pull them away from the Word of God (And I don't mean each Christian is to stay away from all unbelievers—that would not be a good witness in the dark world). But the Christian life is not to be gone all alone. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. The Bible pointedly tells us to have a habit of meeting together to worship the Lord, to fellowship and to minister.

6. Hobbies and everything else needs to come after the other stuff listed above the Lord leads you with these hobbies. Yes, everything else is to take a back seat to your relationship with God, to your marriage relationship, to your family, to your vocation, and to your church involvement.

God wants to make your home like an outreach center if you will to your neighborhood ..and beyond. But biblical soul-winning and discipleship-ministry for parents needs to start and continue at home.

The Bible says "The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9). How willing are you for people to perish? What about unborn people / family members? He can use you to win those in your family. 

Of course your spouse should already be a growing Christian ..before you got married or even started dating each other. Missionary dating doesn't work and no Christian is to become unequally yoked with non-believers in a romantic or marital relationship.

A whole lot more could be said. I would love to hear some of your feed back because I know this is just scratching the surface.

Again.. God is to be first, your spouse second, your children third, your God-given career (including full time ministry work) is to be fourth, and a sound local church commitment is fifth. I've seen un-spiritual pastors put way too much pressure on leaders to put "ministry at church" first, saying this work is the same as your relationship with God. It ain't! This only ended up hurting several families when they never saw their dads and husbands at home much. I've seen men who were literally called of God to go become a missionary, but then they went and hurt their families because they didn't get with God again to hear the details of how to go obey this calling. They quit their jobs too early and then took their poor, needy families around the country--running way out ahead of God, instead of letting Jesus lead them step by step. We've got to serve the Lord His way, not according to our own way! Having our priorities in proper order are kinda like a rudder that will help us to steer the family into the safe harbor of God's blessing, favor, fruitfulness and fulfillment.

More at F4S..
-          How to keep loving your family.
-          Parents and kids have tough choices ahead.
-          Prayers for your wife.
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