Every parent wants to enjoy parenting, and it seems to come so easy to parents whose kids are making the right choices. But what about parents whose kids are running from God? Can those parents have joy? God says, “Yes!” and AMBrewster wants to show you how you can have joy in difficult situations.
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Good day, friends. It’s so wonderful starting the year with you, and — not only starting the year — but starting it talking about such a joyous subject.
Which of us wants more joy in our parenting?
Which of us believe we need more joy in our parenting?
Well, I can tell you beyond a doubt that God wants — no — He commands us to have joy in our parenting.
Last time we talked about the effervescent joy that arises from a child who lives the Truth of God. Please listen to that episode if you missed it, and please share that episode because if we want the greatest joy in the universe — the joy that grows from a spiritual offspring — then we’re going to have to work hard.
Our children are predisposed to move away from Truth. There’s work to be done. Share that episode so that more of your friends can learn how to rear a child that celebrates Truth and brings joy to his father and mother.
But share today’s episode as well.
I am eternally certain that there are more parents listening to my voice today who’s children aren’t daily walking in the Truth of God.
Those are the parents — perhaps, you are the parent — that so desperately is searching for joy.
And our last episode tempted you to despair because the chances of your children walking in Truth seems so remote.
Joy seems impossibly out of your reach.
But you’re wrong.
And so’s your friend struggling with a Terrorist Child. And so’s your neighbor whose child rejects the very notion of God. And so’s your beloved brother or sister in Christ who’s child seems far more interested in worshipping their own selfish desires than submitting to God.
We all need to understand that the unfathomable fountain of joy is attainable not only in the light of a household that submits to God, but in the midst of broken relationships, turmoil, strife, and pain.
And that’s the subject of today’s talk.
Will you join me today, and will you share this episode with a parent who badly needs the joy of the Lord?
I know. It seems impossible.
The joy we receive when our children walk in Truth is the greatest human joy. If that’s confusing to you, I tried to explain it last time.
So, by extension we can assume that the greatest grief may — in fact — be that our children don’t walk in Truth.
Here at Victory Academy I invest about ten months my life into a different group of at-risk teens each year.
These are not my biological children. I only just met them. But at the end of ten months, often we’ll have a boy continue rejecting God, continue rebelling. And sometimes we have boys who though they experienced wonderful change while here they quickly slip back into old habits and sins at home.
The grief I feel — a grief which cannot compare to the grief of the biological and adopted and step and foster parents — is so intense. And I only invested ten months.
I understand the grief in part, and yet the joy I have in my own children’s walking in Truth graciously overpowers the grief.
But there are parents listening to me right now who don’t have any sliver of light in their families.
So, how can a person who’s being tempted to experience the greatest grief on earth have joy in the same situation?
Well, that is the glorious Truth we want to uncover today.
So, will you join me in James 1.
I love James. It dovetails so well with our study in The Merest Christianity. The whole book dramatically and pointedly calls our bluff and forces us to admit that true faith will always produce true behavior. Our actions, our words, and our feelings will bloom or canker in the reality of our faith.
My introductory comments — so real for so many of us — actually betray the problem. Every example I gave a minute ago is the answer to my most painful question. And, Lord willing, we’ll find that answer in a few minutes.
Let’s read James 1. I’ll stop from time to time to make application to our lives.
James 1:2-12 “Count it all joy,”
This is the same word that John used for Joy.
“Count it all joy, my brothers [and sisters], when you meet trials of various kinds,”
What’s your trial? What’s your temptation, your situation, your consternation? They can be as varied as the people meeting them.
Is it your spouse? Is it your children?
“Count it all joy, my brothers [and sisters], when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know.”
You know it. You’ve read Romans 8:28. You’ve heard Philippians preached. You’ve read Jesus’ own words about suffering and pain.
You know it.
“Count it all joy, my brothers [and sisters], when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
The Greek employed here for the English word “steadfastness” means cheerful or hopeful endurance; constancy; patience.
Be joyful because suffering produces enduring hope.
But did you see that other word: let? You have to let steadfastness have its work?
How do you let it? We’ll talk about that in a minute, but for now see the glorious work steadfastness is trying to accomplish in you.
“And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Are your children walking away from God? You lack nothing.
Is your spouse cheating on you? You lack nothing.
Did you lose your unborn child due to complications with your pregnancy. My dear sister and brother, you lack nothing.
I’m not saying the people in those situations are nothing, I’m saying that you don’t need those things or those people to be mature, complete, full, and joyous. If you needed those things to have joy, God would not be God.
If I need a faithful wife in order to have joy, then I should worship my wife — and do my absolute best to create an atmosphere where there’s no chance she could cheat on me. My life should be consumed with meeting her every whim and want and desire so she’s never tempted to leave me.
If I need obedient children to have joy, then I should worship obedient children. I would have to spend my entire existence crafting a relationship with my kids that — even in their sinful depravity — they want to do everything I ask. Of course, we all know that’s impossible. So eventually I’d also have to lower my expectations. Perhaps I’d only ever ask of them what they already want, and forget the rest.
Because then and only then will the god of obedient children give me joy. But that kind of family doesn’t breed joy. It may give us a feeling of arrogance that mirrors a chemical high. It may produce a willful ignorance that creates false bliss. But the end is the same as substance abuse. All the while as we conjure up happy feelings about the home we’ve created and the relationships we’ve crafted, we know that we’ve sacrificed the best and the good and the holy in order to worship the god of a “perfect family.”
But, my dear friends, it’s the difficulty; it’s the trials that produce the joy.
But only when we respond correctly to them. Only when we allow ourselves to be perfected and completed and filled by them
But we’re back to the same question. How do we do we let steadfastness create maturity and completeness and joy in us? James continues:
“5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
One of the reasons we don’t pray is that we don’t really believe we need God’s help to be wise. The same goes for searching His Scriptures. Thankfully, most family issues are uncontrollable enough that they drive the Christian to his knees. But even then, the Lord might not give us the wisdom we need to navigate the trial in such a way that it works in us joy and endurance and maturity.
Romans 8:28 does prove that every situation in life can produce good, but it may not. We have to love God and work along with His plans and purposes. And it’s His great and grand purpose that we walk in Truth, and in so doing become more like Christ. Only then will the situation work out to our greatest good.
In the same vein, James tells us that we must ask for God’s wisdom in true, genuine faith.
“6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
We’ve all struggled with family issues. Some of us are in the middle of them right now. And maybe we’ve asked God for wisdom, but there’s no joy, there’s no cheerful endurance.
My friends, God says that if we doubt His Truth we are fools to think the situation will result in our greatest good.
We’re double-minded. We’re unstable.
How many of our homes can be defined as unstable?
James continues: “9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
You hear that? Our reason for boasting and exalting is our lowliness, our humiliation.
And herein lies the source of joy in trial.
We are mere mortals who deserve nothing more than death. But this passage ends by saying,“12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
Have you been gripped by the grand and sweeping proclamations made in this passage?
Joy comes from God. Whether that joy is His working in our children or it’s His working in our trial, the joy is the same. It’s founded in and revolving around God and His Truth.
It has nothing to do with our kids. It has nothing to do with our circumstance. It has everything to do with our God.
“But, Aaron, I know that! And I still don’t have joy! I don’t have God’s wisdom. I’m lacking!”
Do you remember the beginning of the passage? “Count it all joy, my brothers [and sisters], when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
I know you know. But that steadfastness cannot have its full effect in us unless we approach it with wisdom — wisdom is merely applying what we know to life. Wisdom is the consequence of faith. Wisdom is the faith. “Let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
If you’re still confused between the difference of knowing and believing, please, please listen to The Merest Christianity series starting in episode 95.
But I have to say that what I’m teaching today is not appreciated by many. You can find hundreds of articles consumed with the idea that telling grief-stricken people that they don’t have enough faith is harmful and cruel.
But that’s a lie!
James, the half brother of Christ, the apostle, inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself takes the chin of our tears and our grief and our trials and our hurts and turns it up toward to reality of this life . . . we need to believe God’s promises.
God promises that this situation with your terrorist child will work out to God’s greatest glory and your greatest good if you love God, if you obey God, if you walk in His truth, if you participate in your own transformation into the character of Christ. But you won’t do that unless you believe it.
God commands us to be joyful in trials because He designs them to make us mature — like Christ — complete, lacking nothing!
But we have to have faith. We need to believe His promise. If we don’t, we’ll be unstable. We’ll be driven about like the ocean in a hurricane. We’ll be immature, incomplete, and lacking.
My friends, you don’t need perfect children to have joy in your parenting.
You don’t even need saved children to have joy in your parenting.
You don’t need a born again, faithful spouse to have joy in your marriage.
You need faith.
“But, I need people to help me more!” you say.
Yes, help can be such a blessing. There are steps that need to be taken. There are things that a friend can do to help. I believe the person who loves you enough to point you to the Scriptures and help you see how your instability is rooted in a lack of faith should also be the person to lift you up in prayer and one another you and be there for you and answer questions and ask questions and be a friend. This is why twice a week I encourage you to reach out to us. We have a page on our website, TruthLoveParent.com, dedicated to connecting you with a real person who would love to help you grow in your faith in God.
But when it’s all said and done, you will still be left with the responsibility of believing God.
Everything you do and say and feel in your parenting is a result of what you want in your parenting. And what you want in your parenting grows from what you believe about God, His Word, and your parenting.
“Count it all joy, [fathers and mothers], when you meet trials of various kinds [in your family], 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. 9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. 12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
I’ve put together some episode notes for you today. I pray they’re a blessing. And don’t forget about the invaluable resource that is our episode transcripts. Both the notes and the transcript are available on our Blog, Taking Back the Family, at TruthLoveParent.com.
And please share this episode. You know people who need joy in their parenting. You know people who need to simply believe God’s promises. Even though Satan and the world and their own flesh are trying to persuade them that there is no hope, God is trying to produce cheerful hope that results in them lacking nothing.
You can be an unbelievable blessing to other parents simply by clicking share.
I hope we’re all realizing that we are needy parenting. Please join us next time as we discuss “Needy Parenting.” It has nothing to do with finances. It has everything to do with the reality of our heart. If we’re not Needy Parents, then we’re not Ambassador Parents. If we’re not Needy Parents, then we’re not going to be successful parenting. If we’re not Needy Parents then we’re not going to be joyful parents.
And, speaking of joy, if you’re struggling with a particularly difficult family issue right now, please listen to our Peaceful Parenting series. It started in episode 69, and it’s such a massive blessing and encouragement to learn from God’s Word how we can have peace in our parenting. Peace and joy are close cousins and frequently attend the same family gatherings. And when one isn’t around the other quickly flees.
I pray you’ll revisit these two series often and that you’ll grow in your parental peace and joy.
And don’t forget that everyone who becomes a Patron at Patreon will receive upgraded benefits for the 2018 calendar year. You can learn more about that by clicking the “5 Ways to Support TLP” in the description.
And, as I mentioned earlier, the TLP Counselors are just an email away at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com. It’s always free, and we strive to do our best to direct you straight to God and His Truth.
You can have joy in your parenting. It doesn’t matter what your struggle is. God is greater.
See you next time.
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