"But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life."
Unless we build up ourselves up in our faith, we will stay stagnant. Unless we build up our children in the faith, they will stay little babies and will not grow in the Lord. How do we build up ourselves and our families? It's the Word of God that has the power to do it. I have found 20 ways the Word of God brings us up to a higher level in our walk with God. Let's look at them.
1. Nourish Up
1 Timothy 4:6 says we are to be "nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine..." We love to nourish and nurture our children with love, but we also need to nourish them with God's precious Word. Become a Word Nourisher. Of course, you'll need to be nourished yourself. Place a Bible on your window-sill to be nourished by a verse from the Psalms or Proverbs as you prepare your meals. Put a Bible in your bathroom where you can grab another little morsel when you are there for a few minutes. Keep a Bible where you sit to nurse your baby and be nourished in your soul as you nourish your little one. As you are nourished, you will then be able to nourish your husband and children.
2. Build Up
In Acts 20:32 Paul commends us to the "Word of his grace which is able to build you up..." Why do we neglect God's Word when it has the power to build us up? You need building up each day. Your children need building up each day. Be a Word Building mother, into your own life and also your children. Don't forget to read a portion of the Word of God to them every morning and every evening. (Click on BIBLE IN THE HOME to find THE MORNING AND EVENING PRINCIPLE. This will give you the biblical premise for reading the Word of God morning and evening to your family.)
3. Grow Up
1 Peter 2:2 says, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby." It's the way to grow in your Christian walk. If a child does not grow physically it is because they have something medically wrong with them. A person who doesn't grow in the Lord also has a problem-usually because they lack the nutrition that comes from the Word.
As we grow, we'll wean from milk to devouring strong meat. Hebrews 5:13-14 says, "For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age." Don't limit your children to Bible stories only. Raise them on the richness of the Word so they can learn to chew the meat as well. (Read Colossians 3:16) (Click on BIBLE IN THE HOME to find DON'T STAY A BABY which will give you more teaching about growing ourselves and our children in the Word.)
4. Clean Up
John 15:3 says, "Now ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you." (Ephesians 5:26) We make sure that we wash every day and we certainly try to make sure that our children wash every day. However, it is just as important to keep clean on the inside as it is on the outside. Daily cleansing happens through the daily reading of the Word. (Click on BIBLE IN THE HOME to find DAILY WASHING to read more about keeping clean through the Word.)
5. Liven Up
Jesus said, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." (John 6:63) God's Word has the power to make you alive, to revive and refresh you.
The psalmist confessed,"This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me." (Psalm 119:50)The word quickened is the Hebrew word chayah and means ‘to put life into, to live anew, to recover, to make alive, to refresh, animate.' When you are feeling low, drained of all emotional energy and wiped out, how do you feel alive again? You read and claim God's promises. They are your life.
The Moffat translation says, "Thy promise puts life into me."
The NLT says, "Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles."
And again the psalmist confesses in verse 93, "Never shall I forget thy laws for they put new life into me." (1 Peter 1:23)
We gain our very life from the Word of God. Jesus emphatically stated in Matthew 4:4 that "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Deuteronomy 8:3) We do not deprive ourselves or our children of bread for the sustenance of their body; and yet how flippantly we can deprive them of the living bread that feeds their spirit. Don't look to other sources to be renewed. Find your life in God's Word. It is God-breathed. It is alive and active. As you read it in faith, you will be revived.
6. Discern Up
There is so very little discernment around today. I am often amazed how even believers do not discern the difference between righteousness and evil. Many times they ignorantly condone what God says is abominable. Even Christians frequent abortion clinics! Even believers get involved in fornication! Do we have no discernment of what is truly right and wrong?
How do we get discernment? It comes from the Word of God. Hebrews 5:14 says, "Strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." It doesn't come by haphazardly reading the Bible, or just listening to a message on Sunday. It comes by constant use! It takes being committed to read the Word to yourself and your family.
The margin in my King James Bible describes "reason of use" as a habit! That means a daily exercise. I like the Knox version which says, "Solid food is for the full-grown; for those whose faculties are so trained by exercise that they can distinguish between good and evil."
God promises that when we return back to Him and His Word that we'll learn to discern. Malachi 3:18, "Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth not."He wants His teachers (which of course include parents) to teach "the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean." (Ezekiel 44:23)
My prayer is that we and our children in this generation will be like the children of Issachar who "had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do." (1 Chronicles 12:32) We are living in a new era in our nation-a time of disruption, change and deception. More than ever, we need the daily inspiration of God's living Word which will give us discernment and understanding of what to do.
7. Enlighten Up
Psalm 19:8, "The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes."
Psalm 119:130, "The entrance of thy words giveth light, it giveth understanding unto the simple." True understanding and knowledge comes from God's Word. The word understanding (bin) is also associated with discernment. The same word is used when Solomon asked God for wisdom, "Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern (bin) between good and bad." We can't have discernment without being enlightened and we can't be enlightened without the Word of God.
Have you seen a picture of the tabernacle in the wilderness? It was formed in the shape of the cross. On the right hand side of the Holy place stood the Table of Shewbread on which the priests placed 12 loaves of bread each week. On the left hand side of the cross stood the Golden Candlestick shining its light upon the Presence bread. The light shining from the Candlestick speaks of the illumination of the Holy Spirit upon the loaves of bread which speak of the nourishment of the Word. The best translation of the Word of God is the Holy Spirit who reveals God's Word to us.
When God enlightens His Word to us we can be wiser than our enemies. There are many enemies of God's truth but as we fill ourselves up richly with the Word of God, we will have answers for our adversaries. Our children can have more insight than their teachers and elders when they are filled with the Word of God. Read about it in Psalm 119:78-100.
The Word of God increases the intellect as it is the source of all knowledge. James W. Alexander writes in Thoughts on Family Worship, "I cannot think it possible for any family to enjoy, twice every day for all their lives, the privilege of hearing the Scripture read at domestic worship without, by that very means, rising perceptibly and greatly in knowledge and intellectual force." (2 Corinthians 4:4-6; Ephesians 1:17-18; Colossians 1:9)
8. Teach Up
Our children must be taught God's Word. It is their right. And God commands that we do it. Deuteronomy 6:7 says, "Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."
Are we taking up the challenge to teach our children diligently? This Hebrew word for teach, shaman tells how we have to do it...
a) To whet and sharpen. When you whet a knife, you turn it first on this side and then the other to make sure it is sharpened on both edges. We must teach the Word from every angle. We must sharpen our children with the Word so that they have an edge on them. We don't want them to be blunt and clueless. We want them to know what to do in every situation because the Word of God fills their heart and mouth. They will be sharp to pierce the enemy when he comes to attack them. (Read these Scriptures where shaman is translated whet or sharpen. (Deuteronomy 32:41; Psalm 45:5; 64:3; 120:4; Isaiah 5:28)
b) To enforce and inculcate. We must teach consistently--expounding, explaining and reading it over and over again. We can't rely on church on Sundays for their teaching; it is our responsibility to do it daily. Isaiah 28:9-10 says, "Precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little and there a little." (Isaiah 28:9-10) It's hard to do this if our children are at school all day for this is meant to be part of our daily activities. Can you imagine what amazing things could happen if all Christian parents took their children out of the humanistic, atheistic, anti-family and socialist public school system and began to truly teach their children in the Word at home? We would see an unprecedented move of God in the nation.
9. Heal Up
Psalm 107:20 says, "He sent forth His Word and healed them." The Word of God has the power to heal. Colin and I knew a dear couple who had served the Lord with the China inland Mission until they came back to New Zealand in their eighties. When Mr. Arthur Beard was serving the Lord in China he got cancer. But He loved the Word of God and every day he read it out loud over his body and he was totally healed. Claim the promises of the Word over your sicknesses.
10. Light Up
It is the Word of God that lights up the way before us and shows us the path God wants us to take. Psalm 119:105 says, "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." God has revealed His plan for us in His Word. It is up to us to study the plan so we know the way we are to walk. It is up to us to fill our children with the Word so they will be filled with light and know the way they should take. As God lights up the way for us through His Word, we are then able to shine the light for others to see the way. Philippians 2:15-16 says "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding for the word of life."
11. Save up
James 1:21 says, "Receive with meekness the engrafted word which is able to save your souls." It's God's Word that leads us to salvation. The word save is sozo which is a powerful word. It not only means ‘to save' but ‘to heal, deliver and preserve." The Word of God has not only the power to save our souls from our sin but to deliver us from the bondage of sin. It is our deliverance and preservation from this evil world in which we live.
12. Doctrine Up
2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
We are built up through doctrine. It is not enough to tell our children Bible Stories and take them to Sunday School, although this is great. They need to be nurtured daily in the doctrines of the Word of God. They need "all the counsel of God." (Acts 20:27) It is not always necessary to isolate certain doctrines (although this can be good from time to time) but if we consistently take our children through the Word of God (not just the Psalms or our favorite chapters) they will gradually imbibe doctrine.
Another thing we must realize is that doctrine is not only an intellectual understanding on subjects such as baptism, justification, sanctification, etc. It is practical "know how" on how God wants us to live. Paul told Titus to "speak the things which become sound doctrine." What was the sound doctrine? Explicit instructions on how the older men are to conduct themselves and the behavior of the older women. Sound doctrine is teaching the younger women "to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good and obedient to their own husbands." It is good advice for the young people and how servants are to act toward their masters! (Titus 2:1-15)* Sound doctrine gets to the nitty-gritty of daily living. That's why we and our children need to be doctrined up!
Some families like to take their families through the Bible chapter by chapter. We have done this from time to time. Currently we use THE DAILY LIGHT which gives Scriptures from different parts of the Bible on a specific theme. We find this very effective. You can order THE DAILY LIGHT by going to BOOKSTORE SPECIALS or call 1 877
To read further Scriptures about sound doctrine go to: Proverbs 4:2; Isaiah 28:9-19; John 7:16-17; Acts 2:42; Titus 1:9; 1 Timothy 1:10; 4; 6, 13, 16; 6:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1: 9;2:6-8; 2 John 1:9.
13. Reproof Up
2 Timothy 3:16. The Word "reproof" actually means "to convict." The daily reading of the Word of God brings conviction to our souls and to our children. We can go on blindly through each day, not knowing that we are grieving the Holy Spirit by our thoughts, words and actions until we are convicted by the Word of God. It keeps us and our children sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
14. Correct Up
2 Timothy 3:16. This word means "to make right what is wrong; to refute error." Constant reading of the Word will show us what is wrong in our lives and show us how to make it right. It will expose deception and lead us into truth. No wonder we can't do without it.
15. Instruct Up
2 Timothy 3:16. The Word is profitable for "instruction in righteousness." This Greek word includes chastening. God's Word not only instructs, but chastens us. Chastening leads us to righteousness. .
The psalmist in Psalm 119:67 says, "Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word." He confesses again in verse 71, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statues." (Hebrews 12:10-11) J. B. Philipp's translation calls it the "re-setting the direction of a man's life."
16. Furnish Up
2 Timothy 3:16, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable... that the man of god may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
This is the plan. This is the fulfillment-that we will be "fully equipped" for every good work that God has planned for us to do. The Word prepares us for our destiny. The Word prepares our children for their destiny.
I believe that the Word of God is able to fill up that which is lacking in our lives and make us complete in that area. If I have a weakness in my life, I will look up every Scripture in the Word relating to this area. I will write out these Scriptures, meditate upon them, and embrace them into my life. I find that they always bring victory.
I also did this when raising our children. If I saw a weakness in their lives that needed attention, I would look up the Scriptures relating to that subject, write them in large colored letters on paper and pin them up in the home. I would read the Scriptures to them. I would get them to memorize certain Scriptures relating to the subject. As the Word filled their hearts, they were built up and made complete in this area.
Truly, this living, breathing Word of God has power to change our lives. Let's drink in the truth as we read it again from another two translations...
Knox, "Everything in the Scripture has been divinely inspired, and has its uses; to instruct us, to expose our errors, to correct our faults, to educate us in holy living; so God's servant will become a master of his craft, and each noble task that comes will find him ready for it."
The Message, "Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful-showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us."
17. Wise Up
Paul reminded Timothy, "From a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 3:15) It is obvious that Timothy's mother did not read the Scriptures occasionally to her son. It was a habitual part of her life. Timothy "knew" the Scriptures from a child.
When is a child old enough to receive the Scriptures? I think we can start in the womb. A child can hear the Word even while he is in the womb. When do we start Family Devotions with our children? When they are at an age of understanding? No. We commence reading as they nurse at the breast.
Norman V. Williams in his book, "How to have a Family Altar" writes, "A child of three months is too young to understand Galatians 5:22-23, but he is not too young to enjoy it. The greatest secret of shaping the life of the child from one day to six years of age is to make Galatians 5:22-23 the very spirit and life of your home! Then your child will literally feed on the love of God both emotionally and spiritually. He will absorb that out of his environment which will make him emotionally and spiritually healthy and strong."
He goes on to say, "Our aim is to lead our child to Christ as soon as possible. Many parents object that a four-month-old baby is too young to understand the Word of God. Therefore, they reason, he should not hear it. But God's Word says, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." (Romans 10:17) Your duty, dear parent, is to let your baby hear the Word of God. Somehow by the action of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, that child will receive faith. Babies have ears to hear with! They have hearts to believe with!"
The reading of God's Word prepares our children for salvation. Nearly all our children had a definite experience of receiving Christ into their lives at the age of four. The power of this experience has continued into their adult lives, even as they now raise children of their own.
I'll share Evangeline's story with you. She was only four years old when she experienced a mighty encounter with God. She says, "God saved me at four years of age. Even today, it is still the most vivid and powerful experience of my life. I was lying in bed. I still remember the orange bedspread cover. My mother came into my room and said, "Stephen (my twin) has just asked Jesus to come into his life. Would you like to also?" At that moment the world stopped and the fight between the powers of darkness and heaven began. My whole body was shaking. With all my heart I wanted to ask Jesus into my life, but the pull from Satan was so strong. "No, no, no..." the voice of Satan pulled at my heart. The struggle was powerful.
Eventually I said, "Yes" with all my heart. I followed my mother in prayer asking Jesus to come into my life. At that moment I knew God. I experienced the reality of God. He came into my life and filled me. He opened my mind to Him. I was saved for life--no turning back! I have known His powerful presence in my life ever since. Instantly I felt peace. Instantly I was not afraid of the big owl outside my room--or of anything. I have never been afraid of anything from that day."
Let me quote again from Norman Williams, "The parents' great privilege during the first six years is to make his child acquainted with Christ as his Maker and his loving Friend. Before the child is three and one-half, he should be saved and know that Christ made him and loves him. The child should learn to lovingly speak the name of "Jesus" right along with the name of "Daddy" and "Mother."
"In the first six years of his life, the child has a strong sense of the reality of the invisible. There is a strongly developed dimension of his being that senses the reality of the invisible and that reaches out to experience and to know that reality... The failure to supply this need through the Word of God causes him to people the invisible with objects of his own imagination-fairies, gremlins, Santa Claus, and so on. God has given the child a strong sense for the reality of the invisible as a foundation for receiving the truth of Christ and His Word in the earliest and tender years. We should pray diligently for those parents who starve their children for the Word of God and then feed the child lies about fairies, Santa Claus, witches, gremlins, and other such stories. These are the devil's lies and substitutes for the Lord Jesus Christ and the Word of God."
Not only does the Word of God have the power to prepare our children to receive Christ, but it makes us wise in all areas of our lives. When we read the Word we are in touch with the Giver of all wisdom and knowledge. I have a friend who has three teen daughters. Every time they go out of the home she says, "Be wise." It's good that she backs this up by reading good doses of God's Word to them each day.
Psalm 19:7 says, "The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple."
You can even be wiser than your teachers! You can be wiser than your opponents who would intimate you with their humanist jargon. Psalm 119:98-100 MLB says, "Thy commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have deeper insight than all my instructors, because Thy testimonies are my meditation. I have a better grasp on truth than have the elders, because I have kept thy precepts."
Do you want your marriage and family to withstand the storms of life that we all face at different times? Jesus said the wise ones will hear His Word and obey it. Daily read the Word personally. Daily read it with your husband. Daily read it to your family. And your home will be built upon the rock, ready to survive whatever comes against you.
18. Meditate Up
Joshua 1:8 says, "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." We talked last week about how the Scriptures will make us wise. The margin in my Bible translates "have good success" as "you will do wisely."
The word ‘meditate' in the Hebrew is hagah and has three meanings:
1. To meditate (to ponder and think on)
2. To mutter (mutter the Word to yourself)
3. To speak out loud. Obviously this helps meditation. It is thought that in Bible times they read the Scriptures audibly during times of meditation.
Notice these Scriptures where the word hagah is used:
Psalm 35:28, "My tongue shall speak (hagah) of thy righteousness and of thy praise al the day long."
Psalm 37:30, "The mouth of the righteous speaketh (hagah) wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment."
Psalm 71:24, "My tongue also shall talk (hagah) of thy righteousness all the day long."
I am sure that speaking the Scriptures out loud helps us to gain more understanding. Of course, the same word also speaks of taking time to meditate and study such as...
Psalm 1:2, "But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night."
Psalm 119:97, "O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day."
Psalm 119:99, "I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation."
Proverbs 1`5:28, "The heart of the righteous studieth to answer."
You will find that you will get the most out of the Word of God when you take time to think about it and meditate upon it. I find that I get more understanding as I write it down. That's why I keep a daily journal. I look for the Scripture that most speaks to me in my daily reading. I then write it down and write what I feel God is saying to me.
19. Praise and Rejoice Up
Are you feeling down and depressed? There is nothing like the Word to lift you up and put strength back into your soul. Are you in a complaining state? The Word will get you rejoicing again. Guaranteed! Unless you do not receive it!
Psalm 119:111 says, "Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage forever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart."
Psalm 119:162, "I rejoice at thy Word, as one that findeth great spoil."
Psalm 119:164, "Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments."
Psalm 119:171, "My lips shall utter praise when thou hast taught me thy statutes."
20. Speak Up
We get the Word of God into our heart by meditating upon it. But we have to get it from our heart to our mouth! Romans 10:8 says, "The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart..." The word must become our confession. This is how we are born again. By believing in our heart that Jesus died and rose from the dead, and then confessing that Jesus is our Lord. Read Romans 10:9-10 again. This is how we start the Christian life and this is how we continue. As we read and meditate we believe and then we speak what we believe! Our Christian walk is a continual confession! Unless we confess what we believe, we can doubt the validity of what we believe.
Paul quoted from Psalm 116:10 when he affirmed, "I believed, therefore have I spoken." (2 Corinthians 4:13) Make it a habit to speak what you believe. Speak it to everyone who will listen. Your faith will grow. You will become stronger in the Lord. And the truth will spread.
I love Psalm 8:2, "Out of the mouth of babes and suckling hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightiest still the enemy and the avenger." The enemy is defeated by words! If adults won't speak them, God will raise up children to do so!
I love the quote from E. W. Boeham, "When God sees that in this poor old world a wrong needs righting or a truth needs preaching, or a benefit needs inventing He sends a baby into the world to do it."
Psalm 119:46, "I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed."
Psalm 119:172, "My tongue shall speak of thy Word for all thy commandments are righteousness."
Psalm 68:11, "The Lord gives the command; the women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host."
To read more about speaking the Word go to the web page, www.aboverubies.org and go to Devotional Archives. There you will find, Training Your Children to Speak, Parts 1, 2 and 3.
Above Rubies, www.aboverubies.org