BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people” (Gen 14:13-16 NKJV).
In the passage you’ve just read, it is clear that Abraham trained the men born in his household, hence he was able to deploy them to pursue the enemy and recover all (verses 14-16). Are you training your children today for the future? Are you preparing your household (everyone living under your roof) for the challenges of tomorrow?
In Gen 18:19, the Bible says about Abraham, “For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him” (NKJV). What command or direction are you giving your own household? Can God count on you to do the right thing? Can God depend on you to lead them right? Prov 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (NKJV). The NLT puts it this way: “Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it.”
God expects parents to model the right pattern of behavior before them because example is stronger than precepts. He expects parents to teach or instruct their children (Deut 6:6-9, 11:18-21), and correct them when they’re wrong (Prov 23:13-14, 19:18, 22:15, 23:13-14, 29:15, 17; Heb12:9-11).
Parents are to bring up their children in the training and admonition of the Lord. The book of Proverbs contains a father’s exhortation to his son. The phrase “my son” is used in the New King James no fewer than twenty-three times in the book of Proverbs to address the son and teach him.
Eli failed to train his children well; he didn’t discipline them when they were committing evil (1 Sam 2:12-17, 22-25). Because of the evil of Eli’s children and Eli’s failure to discipline them, God passed judgment on him and his father’s house (verses 27-36). Verses 31-33 say, “Behold, the days are coming that I will cut off your arm and the arm of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. And you will see an enemy in My dwelling place, despite all the good which God does for Israel. And there shall not be an old man in your house forever. But any of your men whom I do not cut off from My altar shall consume your eyes and grieve your heart. And all the descendants of your house shall die in the flower of their age” (NKJV). God repeated to Samuel His judgment on Eli’s house in 1 Sam 3:10-14.
But what was Eli’s reaction to God’s judgment after Samuel had told him? He said, “It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him” (verse 18 NKJV). God fulfilled His Word – Eli and his children died same day (1 Sam 4:10-18). Abiathar was the last priest from Eli’s family – he was removed by Solomon for supporting Adonijah’s desire for the throne as the king of Israel (1 Kings 1:5-25, 2:26-27, 35). Abiathar was very loyal to David until the botched Adonijah’s kingship. But he supported the wrong candidate! He probably was influenced by the curse to terminate his family from priesthood, which was pronounced by God several years earlier.
Samuel also repeated the failure of Eli, his boss, in the training of his children. The Bible records that his children did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice (1 Sam 8:3). In view of his old age and the failure of his sons to walk in his ways, the Israelites demanded that Samuel make them a king to judge them like all the nations (verse 5).
Rebecca’s failure; Eunice success
Rebecca was a bad teacher in Jacob’s life. She was a mother who taught her son to deceive his father (Gen 27:6-17). Compare Rebecca to Timothy’s mother, Eunice and her grandmother, Lois. Timothy received faith from his mother, who also received it from her mother (2 Tim 1:5). Some mothers are still like Rebecca teaching their household bad things. What type of mother are you? And what type of father are you?
Joshua’s and the Rechabites’ success
Joshua is another example of someone who trained his household well. He was so confident that they would serve the LORD, so he could speak on their behalf. He told the Israelites to choose between serving the Canaanite gods or the God of their fathers. “But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Josh 24:15 NKJV). Can you speak boldly like that on behalf of your family?
The sons of the house of the Rechabites were well trained and they imbibed the training given by their ancestors long after their demise (Jer 35).
God wants you to train your children. Training them will make them straight and sharp arrows in your hand; and you’ll be able to confront the enemy without shame or fear. “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate” (Psalm 127:3-5 NKJV).
What to do
1.Be a godly example in all ways. Younger ones learn from adults; children learn from their parents. This is beyond what you say. Therefore, training your children requires that you should be a godly example to them. For example, be a faithful and loving husband; be an obedient and submissive wife; be a responsible and caring parent, be truthful.
The Bible says of the virtuous woman in Prov 31:21 that “She has no fear of winter for her household because all of them have warm clothes” (NLT). She took care of her household.
Provide for your household which also serves as a good example to provide for their own household in future. 1 Tim 5:8 says, “But those who won’t care for their own relatives, especially those living in the same household, have denied what we believe. Such people are worse than unbelievers” (NLT).
Joseph showed us a good example when, during the famine, he provided for his household in Egypt which included his extended family. “And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father’s household, with bread, according to their families” (Gen 47:12 ASV).
The Bible says Moses was faithful in God’s house as a servant, but Christ was faithful as a Son in charge of the entire household (Heb 3:5-6). See yourself as God’s steward over your household, and be faithful. “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?” (Matt 24:45 NKJV)
2. Seek the salvation and baptism of our household. Salvation is individualistic; nobody can be saved for another person. There’s no salvation by proxy. But a household head can work towards the salvation of members of his household by praying for their salvation, sharing the Word of God with them, leading them to Christ and ensuring that they are baptized in water and receive Holy Ghost baptism.
The Bible records the examples of household heads who worked towards the salvation of members of their family. They were not satisfied with only their salvation.
Though Noah’s salvation was a physical salvation from the flood, the Bible tells us that Noah and his household were saved from the flood after Noah’s 120 years of constructing the ark, during which he preached to them but won no soul other than his family of seven that entered the ark with him! Heb 11:7 says, “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (NKJV). Because of this effort of Noah, he was saved along with seven members of his household (Gen 6:10, 17-18, 7:7; 1 Peter 3:20).
Rahab also sought the physical salvation of his household. Though a harlot, Rahab wasn’t satisfied that she alone would escape the destruction of Jericho; she showed concern for the protection of her family. What a woman with a good heart but a bad job! Having hidden the two spies, Rahab pleaded with them: “Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death” (Josh 2:12-13 NKJV). The spies granted her request and the Israelites saved her and her household when Jericho was eventually destroyed (Josh 6:17, 22-25).
Because Lydia, a textile merchant, opened her heart to the word of God, she was not only saved and baptized, she was saved together with her household – apparently she was a positive influence on them and she brought them to the Lord (Acts 16:14-15). Verse 15 says, “And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay’” (NKJV).
In Acts 10, the day Peter entered the house of Cornelius to preach, Cornelius had already assembled his relatives and close friends waiting for Peter’s arrival. Cornelius was not the only one saved and baptized that day; his relatives and close friends present were saved and baptized in water after they had all received the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongue while Peter was still speaking (verses 24-48).
In Acts 16, both the keeper of prison and his household were saved and baptized after the keeper of prison had brought them out to his house. “And he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household” (Acts 16:30-34 NKJV). You shouldn’t be contented that you’re saved and baptized in the Holy Ghost and in water, but ensure that your household enjoys the same thing. Your household can be saved and baptized. Paul said he baptized the household of Stephanas (1 Cor 1:16).
3. Teach them the word of God. The Lord told the children of Israel, “And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again. Tie them to your hands as a reminder, and wear them on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deut 6:6-9 NLT). The Bible is the manual God has given His children for living. Therefore don’t leave the teaching or training of your children to the church, the school or the society; instruct your entire household in the Word of God. Be proactive.
Prov 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (NKJV). Teach your household to fear the LORD. Acts 10:2 describes Cornelius, among other things as “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household” (NKJV).
Teach your household holy living. The Lord says, “And you shall be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine” (Lev 20:26 NKJV). Train your household to live a holy life and not embrace the sinful lifestyle of the world. They must get rid of everything that constitutes sin. “And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me in the way which I have gone.’ So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree which was by Shechem” (Gen 35:2-4 NKJV). After this, Jacob proceeded on a journey with his household to Bethel.
4. Discipline them. Disciplining members of your household, especially your children and young ones under your care, is part of your spiritual responsibility as a parent or guardian. Prov 29:17 says, “Discipline your children, and they will give you happiness and peace of mind” (NLT). The converse is also true: Don’t discipline your children and they will not give you happiness and peace of mind.
You must instruct and also correct and punish when necessary. “Don’t fail to correct your children. They won’t die if you spank them. Physical discipline may well save them from death” ( Prov 23:13-14 NLT). Even the Bible recommends physical punishment where necessary as part of the process of raising one’s child.
According to Prov 20:30, “Physical punishment cleanses away evil; such discipline purifies the heart” (NLT). Prov 22:15 says a similar thing: “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (NKJV).
Refusing to beat your child to correct or discipline him or her is contrary to the Word of God. The Bible knows that there are certain things our children won’t get or do right except we apply the rod of correction. “The rod and reproof give wisdom; but a child left to himself causeth shame to his mother” (Prov 29:15 ASV). Don’t leave your child to himself or herself. You may not beat the older members of your household, but you should correct them, as you consider appropriate. They don’t have to like it now, but later in life they’ll appreciate it.
Heb 12:11 says, “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening — it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (NLT). Our children don’t have to enjoy being disciplined. Parents also may not enjoy doing it, but, all the same, parents have a responsibility to discipline their children, and where necessary, apply the rod of correction. To withhold the rod of discipline is to destroy your child.
That does not, however, mean that a child should be beaten for every kind of misbehavior or be beaten without regard for his or her safety. You don’t beat a child to the point of injuring or killing him or her. That will amount to child abuse; that will be criminal. The Bible says, “Chastise your son while there is hope for him, but be careful not to flog him to death” (Prov 19:18 New English Bible). That song, “A Bible and a Belt,” by Joey and Rory captures this point succinctly. Parents must raise their children with both a Bible and a belt!
5. Cultivate the habit of taking them regularly to Bethel (House of God). We must train our household to cherish the gathering together of saints; don’t go to Sunday service, midweek service or any other church programme that is open to all, and leave your family at home.
Elkanah, the father of Samuel, used to travel each year with his family to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the LORD Almighty (1 Sam 1:1-7). Church services are not for adults only; go with your household. Let them appreciate the importance of going to church.
6. Pray for them and pray with them. Train your children to pray. Jesus modeled a prayerful life to the disciples and, upon their request, taught them how to pray (Luke 11:1-4; Matt 6:9-15). Let your household see your prayer life and also teach them, especially your children and the younger ones, how to pray. “Then Jeshua son of Jehozadak with his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel with his family began to rebuild the altar of the God of Israel so they could sacrifice burnt offerings on it, as instructed in the law of Moses, the man of God” (Ezra 3:2 NLT). Take note of the phrase: “Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel with his family began to rebuild the altar of the God of Israel so they could sacrifice burnt offerings on it.” That’s how it should be. Zerubbabel didn’t rebuild the altar of the God of Israel alone to sacrifice burnt offerings. He and his family rebuilt it. We could say he and family prayed together; he didn’t pray alone.
Rebuild the altar of God – you and your household. Pray for your household and pray with them. Teach them spiritual warfare, prayer and fasting, praise and worship.
7. Bring your household under God’s blessing. Do what will bring God’s blessing upon your household. The name Achan means troubler. Achan brought trouble upon his household by his sin of greed or covetousness. “And Joshua said, ‘Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day.’ So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones” (Josh 7:25 NKJV). Don’t bring your household under a curse like Achan did. Don’t cause trouble for your household
The house of Obed-Edom was blessed because of the ark of God brought to their house. “The ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite three months. And the LORD blessed Obed-Edom and all his household” (2 Sam 6:11 NKJV). Become a channel of blessing to your household. Bequeath to them a legacy of blessing, not that of curse.
Pronounce blessing upon them. Bless your household, especially your spouse and children. 2 Sam 6:20 says David returned to bless his household. Unfortunately, Michal, the daughter or Saul (David’s wife), by her contempt for David, brought herself under a curse rather than being blessed (verses 21-23).
Conclusion: As we’ve seen, the house of the Rechabites was well trained by their ancestors, Jonadab (Jer 35). Rebecca was a bad teacher in Jacob’s life, because he taught him how to lie and deceive his father, This caused unnecessary problem in his life, which lasted many years (Gen 27:5-17).
What are you teaching your children? What example are you showing them? Don’t just give birth to children; train them. Train those under your roof who may not even be your biological children.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus. I urge you to take the following steps:*Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where you will be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things becoming all God wants you to be. I’ll be glad to hear from you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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