Each week everyone in our church receives a wrap-up of the previous Sunday's message along with questions to ponder. The content is too valuable not to be shared, so with Wes Johnson's permission, I am sharing his words here:
-How do we distinguish between the enemies we should curse and the enemies we should bless? When do we pray for our enemies as David did, and when do we pray for them to be blessed?
*Hint: When the enemies seek to take your life, livelihood, or family by force or coercion you pray for them like David. When the enemies mock you, shame you, and belittle you receive their curses and bless them, fighting their evil with good. The application of these principles requires wisdom from the Spirit and case-by-case analysis in an age like ours where mockery and shame of a certain kind coming from the right people can itself be ruinous, threatening our livelihoods, but remember that even when David prayed imprecations, he was asking the Lord to do the violence, he did not engage in it himself.
-Why is it important to understand that we don’t change from the inside out?
*Hint: Because if we don’t, then we will reject a primary means of sanctification that the Lord has given to us, namely, control of our actions to train our hearts. Our emotions and our will must be brought into submission to Christ, they have to be trained in righteousness, and Scripture is exceedingly clear that that training occurs in large part by external means. Don’t shy away from discipline and behavior modification, those are tools to be employed toward the training of your heart. We do these things in faith and from faith, not because we’re working for faith.
-How are the two primary points of the sermon (1. Love is obedient action, not a feeling/2. We change in large part by external means) related to each other?
*Hint: These two points together show the internal and external integration. God’s intent is certainly not that we resign ourselves to gritting our teeth and bearing obedience, but that we grow to delight in that obedience. As we diligently train the heart by disciplining the hands, the emotional component will come along as those emotions are reoriented and reshaped by our obedience. The goal is for our emotions to become as obedient as our actions, but if you wait for the emotions to be roused before you obey, you’ll be delaying obedience for a long time.
I loved this! Not only does it apply to us as parents, but also to the training of our children: it can be easy to become confused about whether or not we should require obedience from our children if "their hearts are not in it". Requiring our children to do things they don't want to isn't wrong because the inside of our children becomes reoriented by obedience/action on the outside. This is why God calls children to "obey their parents in the Lord" and for parents to "train their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. When we as parents obey God by requiring our children to obey us, we are trusting that God will do on the inside what He said He would, while we do what we are told to do on the outside. We want a fire for the Lord to burn in the hearts of our children and when we obey God in our parenting, we are gathering kindling around the children's hearts and begging God to light it on fire!
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