My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons from Philippians 4:8 for our West Huntsville family as we are necessarily (because of the virus) spending less time physically together in worship, study and fellowship. We may be “socially distanced,” but we’re a close-knit family and we want to keep it that way! One way to stay on track together, spiritually, is to think about a common passage and make applications for our lives together even when we are unable to assemble as frequently. I’m sharing these daily family lessons here for those in other places, whose families (or even congregations) might benefit from a common study in these uncommon days of semi-quarantine. Blessings.
Thursday — Whatever Is Pure
When Paul wrote that we are to think on things that are pure, he used a word defined by Strong’s as, innocent, modest, perfect: — chaste, clean, pure. This is in sync with other passages that place our sexuality in an elevated category when it comes to protection and purity. Paul showed us the uniqueness of sexual sin when he wrote “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18). He went on to say “…because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2). Jesus put sexual sin in a unique category when He taught, “…whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery” (Mt. 19:9). Of the plethora of instructions older women could give younger women about marriage and the home, Paul makes a short list and includes this: “…Admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste…”(Tit. 2:4-5).
Think of all the harmful behaviors that potentially destroy marriages and consider that Jesus elevates this one sin—fornication— to be the exclusive basis on which divorce and remarriage can occur with God’s approval. I doubt we will ever fully understand the depth of spiritual significance involved in this act. Fornication is a sin with profound consequences, and God always references it with great sobriety.
Mankind shakes a fist at heaven over God’s sexual laws. Hell has persuaded people to embrace homosexuality and to proudly espouse the joy of the fluidity of gender. A man can choose to be a woman if he likes and people are bound to use pronouns that suit that unfortunate pretense. God has given such people up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, (Rom. 1:24). Some of the strongest condemnations of Scripture are aimed at sexual sin and perversion. We understand why. Sexual immorality is dark and destroys lives and homes.
Even members of the body of Christ sometimes make the sad mistake of flirting with sexual sin by wearing revealing clothing, by dancing inappropriately, and by participating in other lustful and reckless behaviors. They sin against their own bodies and invite haunting ghosts of regret into their future lives.
In contrast, consider the bright light of purity—not the absence of sexuality but the safety and joy of sex within God’s prescribed boundaries. In Biblical marriage, sex knows no broken violation of God’s holy word, no guilt, no bitter and lingering heartache, no young girls with shattered lives facing unwanted pregnancies, no teen boys with STD’s. This sexuality is pure. It is God-designed, God-approved, and, in fact, it is God-commanded for those who are married (I Cor. 7:1-2). It is joyful. It is bonding in an incomparable way. It is the ultimate embrace. Its purity is traditionally depicted by a white dress, and a honeymoon that is physically fulfilling and holy at the same time. Sexuality is a deep celebration in marriage because the act of marriage binds husband and wife to one another for their entire lives.
Not all sex is equal. We must force ourselves to contrast and separate the world’s corrupted sex and the purity of sex in a happy, God-approved marriage. Then we are doing what Paul teaches us here: We are thinking on the things that are pure and lovely.
Tonight’s Story Time Earlier in the day, prepare yourself for family story time by reading carefully Genesis 41 so you’ll have all the details in mind.
Tell the children that Joseph spent two additional years in prison, after God interpreted the dreams of the baker and butler. But God had not forgotten Joseph. He had big plans for Joseph to lead his family into the protection of Egyptian abundance. (Say this in terms your kids will understand, of course.) After telling the account (Gen. 41:1-32) leading up to revealing Joseph’s revelation to Pharaoh, move on to these discussion questions:
1. When God gave Joseph the interpretation of the baker’s and butler’s dreams, what future purpose did He have in mind? God is not limited as a man and He makes plans into the future. You do not know everything about God’s purpose for your future, but you do know some things for sure. What are those things? (Have a discussion here about being faithful through all of life, finding a follower of Christ to marry, working hard in a career that God approves or raising children to be faithful to God.)
2. Why do you think God had Pharaoh dream about cows and ears of grain instead of just having him dream about years of plenty and of famine in Egypt? How did God make a picture in Pharaoh’s mind so that this dream would be “stuck” in his head? Tell your children the cows were sacred, like gods or idols, to the Egyptians. Imagine how shocked Pharaoh would have been to dream about sacred cows being eaten up! God is brilliant!
3. In 41:16, after Pharaoh had invited Joseph to interpret the dreams about the cows and grain, Joseph again gave full credit to God, not himself. You should practice doing that now so that it will be a natural thing to speak of God’s will and blessings in your life for all your lifetime. What important blessings in your life right now can you point to and say, “I didn’t do that. God did.”? When we are staying well, having enough food to last us through this time of sickness, being able to enjoy being with our families at home, who is it that gives us this place to be safe and well? When we are ill, to whom do we pray for strength and healing? Practice asking your children if they are well and healthy. Have them respond “Yes. God has been so good to us…” or “Yes, and we are thanking God..” or “Yes. Praise God.”
Tonight, have your children make a card for someone they know who is sick in your congregation or neighborhood. Have each child draw a picture and write “We are praying for you…” followed by the words from Genesis 41:16 “God shall give an answer of peace.” Help those children who can’t yet write. You might write the text out and then have the very young child put his handprint on the card with paint or ink or just draw around his hand. Be sure to remember to mail these tomorrow.
Remind your children that Joseph was doing something in this chapter that was going to save many lives.
Pray with your children. Have your children help you make a list of people they know who are sick. Pray for each by name. Remember to pray for all of those people who are sick with COVID. Pray that your family will be healthy both “in our bodies and in our pure hearts.”
Repeat the Golden Rule with your children.