Friday, June 12, 2015

What We Let In Our Homes and Hearts

“Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world…”
~Titus 2:12

While we can’t escape living in the “present world” we do have one place in which we can keep holiness and God’s word and law ever present before us. Our homes. Our homes can be a haven of godliness for us, an escape from the present world of everything that is thrown at us everyday. We have a choice of what we let in our homes. We can have a filter over our eyes and hearts, a sifter of sorts that sifts out the ungodly, unrighteous and sinful things that want to seep into the cracks of our homes. The enemy will try to slither into any small opening he sees. We all have the small crevices and cracks in our homes where the spiders enter.

“Who can find a virtuous (chayil) woman? For her price is far above rubies.” ~Proverbs 31:10

We’ve all heard this verse a million times before. Many think this woman is someone we cannot live up to. Virtuous translated from hebrew is from the word “chayil.” Chayil means strength, efficiency, nobly, excellence, mighty, valiant, warrior, and worthy. It means a woman, mother and wife of strong character. One who does not give in to the cultures lies, one who stands up under the most difficult of pressures against the deceit thrown at her, and a woman willing to stand guard at the gates of her home and tell the enemy “no!” Satan wants to crawl into our homes, catch us off of our guard, and destroy a home that pursues righteousness. If he can tear down a family after God’s heart, he will. The ‘chayil’ woman is worth far more than rubies---she walks the path of righteousness and is not weak when it comes to guarding her home for Christ.

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” ~Colossians 2:8

The last place we should be held captive by the enemy in is our homes. We can be held captive by what we let in. Entertainment, radio, going to the movies, reading the latest “fad” books (even by some Christians) are holding many people captive to false ideologies. We are influenced by those who should hold no influence over us, for they themselves are influenced by the father of lies---who is himself empty deceit.  People will think we are ‘odd’ for not being held captive by the “human traditions” of our day. (entertainment and pop culture being a ‘tradition’ we have to participate in) We should be influenced by scripture, reading our Bibles and knowing the living word of God for ourselves, and then praying for wisdom and discernment over our homes. We have to stand by our gates with strength, not expecting it to make us popular. There will be pressure to give in to seemingly ‘small’ infractions against our faithfulness to God. Yet each of these small things add up to large compromise.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” ~Philippians 4:8

As we filter things through God’s lens, we may find there is little that is worthy of letting in. Purity is so important because through purity we can understand deeply the ways of God and live them out practically in our day to day living. If our minds and hearts are filled with to overflowing with impurity and rebellion against God, we begin to dwell on that and it begins to block our vision of God. As we weed out the mind and heart, we can see God and His ways with clear vision--- “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

As mothers, wives, women of God, we must be ‘chayil’ women. We must stand at the gates of our homes, of our hearts and minds, and take a clear stand. The stand begins with our own heart and mind. We must filter out of our lives what is impure and holds no place in the life of a woman claiming to follow God. As we grow in this area ourselves, we can carry this on to our children and our homes. We can strive to be strong in the face of a culture that wants to break us down into it’s compromise. Taking hold of the strength of God’s righteousness and his absolute truth is a far greater investment in the future for ourselves and our children.

Prayer: “Lord, build me up in your strength and take away all my fear. You do not want me to fear standing for you and following your path. Show me how to guard myself, my home and children for you. Show me your wisdom and discernment that I may be a strong warrior for your kingdom, taking a stand for righteousness in my home. Amen.”

“Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.” ~Psalm 24:3-4

“So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.” ~Psalm 18:24

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” ~Psalm 86:11

“ I believe that far more is done for Christ's kingdom by the holy living of believers than we are all aware of. There is a reality of such living that makes men feel, and obliges them to think. It carries a weight and influence with it that nothing else can give. It makes religion beautiful, and draws men to consider it, like a lighthouse seen a far off. The day of judgement will prove that many besides husbands have been won "without the word" by a holy life (1 Peter 3:1). You may talk to persons about the doctrines of the Gospels, and few will listen, and still fewer understand. But your life is an argument that none can escape. There is a meaning about holiness that not even the unlearned can help taking in. They may not understand justification, but they can understand love.” -J.C. Ryle

Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Contented Home Life

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8

Building a joyful, contented home life begins not with the size of home we live in, but the state of our hearts. The simplest home not built on the world’s idea of perfection but built on the foundation of Christ can seem a mansion to those residing there. A heart content with what God has provided sees the potential beauty of home. With creativity and a desire to see God’s beauty come to life in our homes, it will be a place we want to spend time in. Memories will be made, learning and laughter will take place, and it will be a place of people’s memories.

So often we wait until we have some idea of ‘perfection’ for our homes or until we get the “dream home.” Yet the Godly, contented home does not wait until the people reside in a larger home, or one decorated to perfection, or some ideal that we have stored in our minds. The contented home is built into the people, the hearts and minds of the family. Where the family is, there is the home.  We can prepare a place for our families, that is filled with God’s love, sparks of simple creativity and a love for God’s creation. When we pass to our families the love and care that God shows us, with a servant’s heart, they are seeing what home really is, and a small reflection of their permanent, heavenly home.

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:1-2
Jesus goes to prepare a place for us in heaven. Sacrificing for us as he did and loving us, he provides us with an eternal home, one where we will always be with Him. Abiding in Him, the vine, we can prepare a place for our families to feel safe and content, and surrounded by the love of Christ. Expensive decorations, a spacious home, a home without spots on the carpet or smudges on the windows does not make a home. That is just the exterior, the things that will pass away. The internal things of a home, time built into hearts and minds---love, patience, gentleness, parents modeling God’s character and grace to their children, simple beauty and learning---a home built on these things is lasting and fruitful. Children can begin to develop the concept of God’s love, His grace and mercy, and that it is His beauty in us that is the real reflection of home. Apart from His grace and mercy we cannot build anything of lasting beauty, but a heart abiding in Christ can prepare a simple home of beauty.
We can’t wait until the perfection of “someday” arrives to begin building a contented home life. The perfect someday may never arrive. We have what God has provided and if we have willing contented hands to work for Him, we can build up something of great value to God. He doesn’t desire the perfection of a dirt free home, or a sterile perfect home, but a heart willing to be used by Him and home that we are willing to let him mold and shape. We need hearts focused on the treasure that is our eternal heavenly home; so that we reflect that into our temporary home on earth.
Most importantly, we can build a love for God and his goodness into our children’s hearts, a love for the Bible, and a love for simple creativity and learning that will last them a lifetime. The Bible, library books, jars with leaves, flowers, branches, listening to birds and learning their different calls---these are all free and building a home of beauty into their hearts. Children’s art on the walls, using the imagination, prayer and learning about people in the Bible build character into children and a sense of independent learning they will carry with them into adulthood. Making time and putting effort into building a life of quality and substance for our children (even on a limited budget) pours into the hearts of our children more than any other expensive activity or excessive busyness can.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, having grown up in small cabins, with few possessions, never writes of any lack of joy in her home life. They had God, love of family, music and a love for learning. Her home was her favorite place, and it was probably no larger than most people’s living rooms today. The life and laughter that her parents passed onto her and radiated from their hearts built her home life, not her possessions or the perfection of her home. She said “Home is the nicest word there is.”
When the Lord is our dwelling place, He will guide, equip and lead us to build up our home, large or small, for Him. He will provide us with the creativity, spark ideas and show us more of His love and grace as we submit a heart to Him willing to build our home into a home for Him.

Prayer: “Lord, show me how to build a home for you amongst the culture that wants to tear down a godly home. Give me creativity, and a heart willing to learn from you and submit to you. Show me how to be content with the resources you have given me and use them to the best of my ability. Show me how to build my home for you by pouring into the hearts of those you’ve given me. Amen.”
“Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Psalm 90:1-2
“But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.” 1 Timothy 5:4
This is all the inheritance I give to my dear family. The religion of Christ will give them one which will make them rich indeed.
~ Patrick Henry

“If therefore our houses be houses of the Lord, we shall for that reason love home, reckoning our daily devotion the sweetest of our daily delights; and our family worship the most valuable of our family comforts...A church in the house will be a good legacy, nay, it will be a good inheritance left to your children after you.” ~ Matthew Henry, clergyman