It is imperative to create an atmosphere of belief if we are going to see the family strengthened and fully functional the way the Father intended. We know, without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6, KJV). The core of faith is belief, which means we have to believe God in order to walk by faith. An atmosphere of belief encourages faith to be active in the lives of family members. “Belief” means to have full persuasion or to trust, and is the root word of faith. When family members firmly trust God, they will have confidence in Him to be Who He says He is, and what He says He will do. When members fully trust God, they are firm in their belief that He loves them, which gives them confidence in their relationship with Him. Even the earthly model of a family shows us that those children who firmly believe their parents love them, tend to have more confidence than those who do not. When people are confident that the Father loves them, self-esteem issues quickly disappear. Confidence breeds courage, and courage activates boldness, and with boldness comes exploits. Just as Daniel says, “The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits” (Daniel 11:32, KJV). That means when God makes a promise, believers are persuaded they He will make good. When He says, “Take the land,” they charge boldly into the promise land and occupy it. Those families that believe are blessed.
What can unbelief to do a family? The children of Israel in the wilderness serve as an example to us. Numbers 13 and 14 give the account of the 12 spies who went into the promise land to spy it out. When they returned, only two gave a good report, while the other ten gave an evil one. Caleb said, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30, KJV). Meanwhile, we read in verses 32-33, “And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (KJV). What was the people’s reaction to the two differing reports? “All the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt (Numbers 14:1-4, KJV). Ultimately, they rebelled against God. What was God’s response? “As truly as I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in Mine ears, so will I do to you: Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against Me, Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb . . . and Joshua . . . But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. But as for you, your carcasses, they shall fall in this wilderness” (Numbers 14:28-32, KJV). In due time, even Moses would also be excluded from entering into the land of Canaan, although, he would at least get to see it from a distance. This part of Moses’ story will not be addressed here. So, what are some observations we can take away from this event?
Tragically, not only did a generation fail to enter into the promise land, they did not get to see their own children enter into it. They did not witness their children or their grandchildren enjoy the blessings of God found in the land. Secondly, it delayed the promise and caused the children to wander 40 years before even seeing it (see Numbers 14:33-34). What are some lessons we can learn from this incident? Murmuring creates an environment of unbelief, which causes rebellion. It places stumbling blocks before others, and provokes them to wrath, especially children. Unbelief causes hardship! God has a very dim view of an unbelieving heart. Hebrews 3:7-12 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted Me, proved me, and saw My works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known My ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God (KJV). As a suggestion, take time to read chapters three and four from the book of Hebrews. Finally, it is time to see families flourish in the faith, therefore encourage one another to believe God. Believe!
If the family is to be strengthened, then the presence of the Lord must be present to make the home a sanctuary. If the presence of the Lord is lacking, so will be the environment that is necessary for true strength and growth. Simply, it would be house and not a home. It would be a church building, but not a house of God. If God is not welcomed in the house, rebellion will make itself at home! If a “Welcome” sign for the Lord is not at the front door of the house, another sign will hang in its place: “Ichabod” –the glory has departed ([“inglorious”] see 1Samuel 4:19-21).
If a family desires the presence of God in the home, then they need to establish an altar unto God. Some call it a family altar. The altar is a meeting place with God. It is the place where sacrifices are given and covenants are cut. The altar should be the centerpiece of all the furniture in the house because it represents His manifest presence, much as the Ark of the Covenant represented the presence of the Lord before the children of Israel. This does not necessarily mean you build a physical altar and put in the middle of the living room, although you could, if you feel so inclined. However, this is not talking about an altar to be displayed for the entire world to see. Rather, it is the centerpiece of the family where everyone meets with God. One person can meet with Him there, or the entire family can converge with Him. Sometimes, depending on the family, it has to start with one in order for the entire household to show up. Likewise, it works the same way at a church. When a person meets with God in the Name of Jesus, he gathers with Three in One (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit), making a majority. If you are the only one in the family serving the Lord, take heart. He is most faithful; therefore, you remain faithful to Him, and watch what happens.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (Romans 12:1, KJV). To see the Lord greatly move through the family, its members must belong to Him. The altar is the place where we offer ourselves as living sacrifices unto the Lord, which enables Him to have full reign in our lives. It is the place where we crucify the old nature on the cross and mortify the deeds of the flesh by yielding to the Holy Spirit (see Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5-17). This is the place of surrender. It is where holiness abounds, which gives the family strength to stand!
Strengthen a family; strengthen a nation. If the family is holy, a nation will be holy. The time has come to redeem lost ground, and recapture what was stolen from the family as a whole. If we are going to strengthen the family and restore what was lost and stolen, if we are going to take back what should never have been given away in the first place, then we have to do it on the Father’s terms. We need to pattern our families after God’s design. There are some important questions to ask ourselves. Starting with, how does the Father treat His children? Secondly, do we treat each other as the Father treats us? Looking at the Father and Jesus, do our relationships even remotely resemble their relationship as One? What needs changing?
In this series, we will start with filling the house with love and vacating shame. We know that love is what holds relationships together. One of the ways Satan has struck at the family is by attacking our love one for another. A method he uses to keep the family void of love is filling the household with shame. Shame is the demonic counter part of conviction. While conviction will lead people to repentance and reconciliation, shame causes resentment and separation. Shame does not bring correction; it causes more damage as well as more isolation. Those who feel shame will run away from God, while those who feel conviction from the Holy Spirit will run to God. Likewise, those who feel ashamed will avoid those who have disgraced or humiliated them.
Parents who employed shame as part of raising their children become disappointed because their children will not talk with them. They cannot figure out why they will not open up to them. In fact, in many cases, as they mature into adulthood they rarely come around to visit. Shame has put a wedge in their relationship. Trust has long been broken because safety was removed from the relationship. Meaning, the children do not feel safe to share their feelings, hopes, dreams and failings with their parents because they belittled them in their past. The home should be a sanctuary. It should be a place of safety and healing. Children rely on their parents to build them up, and when they do the opposite, their trust is broken. Question for you parents: when the Father corrects you, does He use shame in the process? If you ever felt shame because of failure, that was not God! That was the enemy of your soul seeking to isolate you from the Father. God does not employ such methods!
The family also refers to the Church as a whole (see Ephesians 5:21-6:4). Therefore, these same principles apply to church families. When a congregation uses shame in its teachings, it invites a religious spirit. It encourages isolationism because no one feels safe to express his or her faults to each other (see James 5:16). Consequently, many silently struggle with their shortcomings because they feel that they will be judged by others if they do. Secret sins and hurts remain secret because there is no one they can trust to restore them in a spirit of meekness (see Galatians 6:1-2). Often such “houses of worship” are vacant of young adults because they chose to flee from such stagnant environments. They experienced religion instead of the relationships they were supposed to have with God and their church family.
Just as God loves us in spite of our sins and shortcomings, we must learn to do the same with each other in the home and in the Church. Because the Lord does not accept sin, and is not content to leave us in our shortcomings, He provided a way to rid them. Nevertheless, He does not use shame or humiliation in the process. Shame is selfish, whereas, love seeks the benefit the other. Those who use humiliation are generally more concerned that their children reflect poorly on them. The Father is more concerned about His children being all they can be. His is more concerned about us being conformed to the image of Jesus than He is about image altogether. This means when He disciplines His children, He does it with their best interest at heart. Everything He does is intended to draw His children closer to Himself; not push them away. The Father raises His children up; He does not beat them down. Love strengthens the family!
We are told that we should seek wisdom and that it is more precious than fine gold (see Proverbs 3:14; 8:11). James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (KJV). If God does not withhold wisdom from those who ask Him for it, why do some still fail to receive it when they ask? What gives? James hints at the reason behind it: “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3, KJV).
There is another key ingredient to wisdom: the fear of the Lord. Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding (KJV). Here is where the difficultly lies with those who ask for wisdom and still fail to receive it. In simple terms: they do not fear the Lord. As long as they do not fear the Lord, they will always lack true wisdom. Some may ask, “What about grace? Aren’t we under grace, so we do not have to be afraid of God anymore?” Grace enables us to come boldly to the throne by faith; nevertheless, it also enables us to have the proper fear. In fact, God’s grace should deepen our fear of the Lord. It would never cause a person to be arrogant with God!
Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate (KJV). A sign that you have the proper fear of the Lord is that you hate evil as defined by Him. If you take it upon yourself to define evil, chances are you do not fear God properly because you are acting as God when you do. If you define evil by society’s standards, you are missing the mark. Furthermore, when people decide they can define evil, they are being prideful. The fear of the Lord hates pride. That means humility is crucial in obtaining wisdom. The fear of the Lord understands that everything has to be done on God’s terms. There are those who call good, evil, and call evil, good. The Word of God says, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20, KJV).
Grace is not a license to do as we please (see Romans 6:1-23). Jude 1:4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness (excessive pleasure, unbridled lust), and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ (KJV). Even now, there are those who teach things that are contrary to Scripture in a number of churches. They have turned God’s grace into something that it is not. These people ignore the warning, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31, KJV [see 24-39 for full context]). They refuse the caution of James 3:1, “My brethren, be not many masters (teachers), knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (KJV). 1Timothy 4:1-2 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron (KJV). 2Timothy 4:3-4 also reveals, “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (KJV). As long as people refuse to fear the Lord, they will not respect His Word. They will invent doctrines, using the Bible to justify their falsehood. They are on dangerous ground! As long as they disrespect His Word, they will never obtain wisdom.
There are major differences between worldly and godly wisdom. These differences are found in James 3:13-18: “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (KJV). You will find worldly wisdom despises God, while godly wisdom is filled with the fear of the Lord. Take the time to study the attributes of each one found in this passage of Scripture. See where you stand in relation to the fear of the Lord.