• In Christ, I am a forgiven and reconciled member of God’s family. By His strength, I agree to honor God by forgiving and reconciling with members of my family as well.
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
2 Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;
3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.
Consider this brief but telling alliteration on unhealthy family relationships: Don’t be done in by disrespect, dishonor, disobedience or disputes. Seek God’s help to disarm such destructive family dynamics. To let them linger is to, lamentably, let them last. While alliteration allows for light-hearted linguistic lessons, God takes seriously the concepts of forgiveness and reconciliation; He calls us to take them seriously also; the home is a prominent place to live this out. Honor and respect are to be shared, as are the rest of God’s teachings. Let’s turn these devotional thoughts into a prayer between us and our Father in heaven.
Father God, I don’t want my family done in by disobedience, dishonor, disrespect, or disputes. Help us disarm such deadly, destructive family dynamics. In the place of such unhealthy actions, instead bring to our family a restoration born of Your grace that manifests in humble confession, forgiveness, acceptance and love that covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
49 I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?
50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!
51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
53 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
Jesus, the One known as the “Prince of Peace,” acknowledges that He brings division and strife concerning who He is – even among family members. This is one of those difficult lessons Jesus shares. Yet it’s all too real.
Yesterday we talked about the home being a prominent place to live out forgiveness and reconciliation, a place where honor and respect are to be shared. But not everyone agrees on how to follow Jesus – or even to follow Him at all. Differences like this can bring division and strife, calling for…(guess what)… honor and respect. What it does NOT call for is rejecting, burying, or denying biblical beliefs just to keep peace at home. This can lead to letting our family come between us and God, as Jesus alludes to in the Gospel reading today. We want to love and respect family in all matters, but not in a way that displaces God’s truth or our love and respect for Him.
Father God, whenever differences in beliefs or spiritual matters arise, help me a strike a healthy balance between honoring You and respecting my family. I pray that my beliefs and actions draw family members to You and not drive them away. So I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
One could apply these words of biblical instruction in many different areas of life; family dynamics is definitely one of them. Since ideal is not a word most people use to describe their family situation, there is plenty of room for the practice of joyful hope, patience in difficult times, and commitment to be faithful in prayer over family matters.
Don’t accept despair or hopelessness over your family; pray about it. Pray to the God of hope (Romans 15:13); Seek guidance from the Holy Spirit who produces the fruit of love, joy and patience in us (Galatians 5:22). It can be had. Don’t buy the lie that your family can’t change or that you can’t change.
As Romans 12:1-3 says, offer yourself to God as a living sacrifice and let Him transform you as He reveals His good, pleasing and perfect will.
Father God, help me maintain a practice of joyful hope, patience in difficult times, and a commitment to be faithful in prayer over family matters. Where changes need to be made, let me lead the way and trust that You will nudge others where needed rather than me pushing the issues. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?
~ King Solomon
Solomon’s ‘great people’ are part of the Israelite kingdom he inherits from His father David. You are being encouraged to adopt this prayer and adapt it for your family life. As we take time to Prayerfully Re-Center around God, consider how you are called live in your families – whether as one governing or being governed. Keep in mind that there is often more than one family you take part in – some close and some quite distant, both physically and metaphorically.
Who does the governing (or leading) in your family? Who are the ‘great people’ of God in your family that are being governed? Could you be more respectful to those you are tied to family-wise? Do you make it difficult or easy for those in your family? Do you practice forgiveness and grace?
Confess any less-than-cooperative attitudes, whether as leader or follower. Repent of any disrespect to or provoking of others, and any hostility or contempt toward family.
After confessing your own sins, forgive those who have sinned against you. Then pray about being an effective and godly influence in your family environment, and for all of your family submitting to the will and ways of God.
Definition of govern:
[Create your own prayer for recentering yourself in Jesus' eyes.]
No parent always does the right thing. Humility about our mistakes draws our children to us. Pride almost always causes a negative reaction.
p.103, The Prideful Soul’s Guide to Humility, Fontenot/Jones
Knowing that we don’t always do the right thing, help us to be humble with one another in our family – as spouses, parents and children, swallowing our pride, admitting mistakes and offering forgiveness to each other as You forgive us our sins. Amen.
People often see their relationship with God as primarily a vertical experience and minimize the weight of God discipling us through various horizontal relationships in our worlds. The Holy Spirit does a huge part of His discipleship through people – just like he does a huge part of His Gospel ministry through people. Ephesians 5-6 bring into focus the sphere of family influence in discipleship. It brings to mind what a godly home life should look like in terms of wife-husband and parent-child relationships. This area can often be ignored or quite sensitive, but the Spirit wants to influence every part of our lives, including our at-home relationships.
Spirit of God, my Primary Discipler, remind me that You are teaching me at all times and will use different horizontal relationships, including my family, to ‘train me up’ as Proverbs 22:6 says, in the way I should go. With that reminder, help me maintain a submitted-to-God attitude in all places, especially the home. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.
18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
The weight of these verses is best measured in connection to the background information, what Joseph’s brothers did to him as a teenager and the life-long impact it had on those involved. That information is found in Genesis chapters 37 and 39-47.
As a student of the Bible and follower of Jesus Christ, I am continually amazed at Joseph’s faith in God; it brought him through many ungodly situations over many years. Where others choose to blame God for such circumstances and take matters into their owns hands, Joseph stays faithful. And – true to God’s given dreams of Joseph’s teenage years, he gets blessed in family and world-impacting ways.
Father God, Joseph learned to forgive his brothers and saw that You could use their evil intent to bring about good for people. Grant me such faith as I face obstacles in life, trusting You rather than taking matters into my own hands.
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever he does prospers.
Chosen to lead off the Psalms, these words set the tone for all that follows. And these words, describing the actions of a godly person, set the tone for a godly, fruitful life. What are you going to do differently as a result of reading about this blessing?