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People need hope more than ever. As followers of Jesus, we have this promise in Colossians 1:27.....Listen to Radio Podcast featured on Moody Radio April 17 2024 

Poke, Poke, Poke

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

Whenever we went on a long drive, we always came to the same place. It wasn’t the stop sign at the bottom of our street. It wasn’t a favorite fast-food joint. It wasn’t the gas station with the lowest price. No, we came to that place that was at the end of an index finger.

It always, always, always happened. It never failed. The temptation was just too great. After an hour or more, my brother would reach out his left hand and poke me in the ribs. My catlike reflexes slapped his hand and it retreated to his side of the car.

But it never stopped there. Once, twice, three times. The ruthless, relentless, and repetition of these attack on my person were just too much to ignore. After all, he had his side of the car and I had mine. He violated the neutral zone

I became unglued. I screamed. I yelled. And since these were the days before seatbelts, I jumped up and down in my seat as I wildly threw my arms all around. I whipped up great drops of crocodile tears as I begged by mom and dad to stop the madness! They needed to stop the territorial invasion and terrorism by my brother. I was exasperated, and I’m sure my parents were exasperated with me.

Exasperation doesn’t just focus on dads, but it applies to all parents, or anyone in a parental role. They are not to exasperate their kids. They are not to do or say things with the intent of raising anger in their children.

This doesn’t mean that there are never times when your words or actions will not hurt. Pain under control can be a terrific tool when used in the wise hands of a parent that wants nothing but the absolute very best for their child. But abusing and overusing are never allowed. Period.

Yes, there are times when no matter what parents say or do, they are guaranteed an angry response. To think that if you just say the right words, with the right tone, that you’re guaranteed a calm and submissive response is just plain nonsense.

Parental exasperation is an explosion where they lose control. There is no chance to identify what’s wrong, why it’s wrong, or correction. Exasperation does not instruct or train the child; it only frustrates and irritates them. Exasperation discourages and separates parents from children, driving a wedge between them.

So, what is God’s solution? To bring them up through training and instruction. This nourishes more than their bodies, it’s feeding and encouraging the whole person through life lessons, teaching, correction, and redirection. Some of this is one-on-one and some of this is on the playground of life.

We all want our children and grandchildren to do well. To grow up strong morally and physically. This never happens automatically. There’s no checklist or program that guarantees success. So, how do we do this?

The simple and short answer is “In the Lord.” We recognize that each child is unique, made by God, and someone that Jesus died for. As a gift from God, we treat them as an individual, training and correcting them based on their unique personalities, gifts, temperaments, and abilities.

What’s the goal? The endgame? The aim is to build into children so that they can make up their own minds. Make their own decisions. It’s never to force them into a mold but to provide guidance so that they can grow up into making godly and wise decisions on their own. And part of that endgame is for them to take their place in the community of people around them.

And isn’t that how God treats us? He came and died for us on the cross. His sacrifice solved our greatest need. But he didn’t stop there. He didn’t save us and say, “Well, that’s that. I saved them, got them in the door. The end.” No. There’s a lot more to it.

His plan is to mature us. For us to grow up as his child, deepening our commitment and relationship with him. Not just as an individual, but as part of his body here on earth. But there’s more.

God doesn’t just have a plan for us. God has a good plan for us. God has a good plan for you. And that plan isn’t just for a few short years here on earth. God’s perspective and plan for us goes on for all eternity. Our loving heavenly Father is never in a rush.

for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Philippians 2:13

God wants to fulfill his good purpose. He’s not satisfied to just sprinkle a little good purpose on us. Not just some good purpose. But to fill his good purpose full. To overflowing.

Remembering this will keep us from exasperation when all life seems to be going to hell in a handbasket. Remember it. Continually think about God fulfilling his good purpose in you.

Noodling Questions

  • Describe the last time you were exasperated. How did it feel?

  • What happed when you tried to say just the right thing to fix a relational problem?

  • What is God’s good purpose for your life?

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