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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
July 15, 2012
Proverbs on the Family, Part 9: Principles of Parenting, Part 1
Proverbs 22:15 states that “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” This morning we will continue in our series on the family from Proverbs. We have spent five weeks looking at solutions for foolishness in marriage, and this morning I want to look at solutions for foolishness in parenting and children. Before I can do that we need to first review God’s purpose for children and then address a danger children can bring to a marriage if the parents are not careful to walk in godly wisdom
When I began this series on the family back in May, I spent the first sermon establishing God’s purpose for marriage and the family by going back to Genesis 1:26-30 . (See: Proverbs on the Family, Part 1 – The Foundation). There we find that God created man in His image and gave to him a mandate to subdue and rule over the earth. That means that God wants mankind to bring the earth into subjection and have dominion over the fish, the birds and the living things on the earth. God has made man His regent on earth and will hold him accountable for carrying out His commands. We also saw in those verses that children would be the means to carry out that mandate around the world.
I then went on to Genesis 2 to explain the roles of the man and the woman. It was not good for man to be alone, so God fashioned a woman from Adam’s rib and gave her to him to be a helpmeet to him. She would correspond to Adam and would help him carry out God’s mandate over the earth. Many women protest against this often while proclaiming a wrong idea about equality. In doing so, they disrupt the distinct roles God has given to men and women. Men and women have an equal standing before God according to Galatians 3:28, but the Lord has not made them the same physically nor given to them the same roles. While our society is increasingly confused by this reality, simple observation is not. Most sports are separated into men’s and women’s divisions because of those physical differences. No man has ever given birth to a baby. More importantly, the Scriptures are clear about differences and roles. The man is the head and is responsible to lead his family (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23). He is to love his wife sacrificially just as Christ loved the church and cherish her as he does his own body (Ephesians 5:25, 28). She is to submit to her husband’s headship and show him respect (Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:1-2). People commonly fight against these roles and disobey God’s commands thinking themselves to be wise, but in doing so they really only demonstrate their foolishness.
In the course of our studies on the family we have examined many of the various types of foolishness that can destroy a marriage and the solutions to them. While there is a wide rage of specific expressions of foolishness such as stubbornness, self-righteousness, contention, nagging, quarreling, harshness, neglect, indifference, manipulation, deceit, lying, indiscretion, shamefulness and unfaithfulness, there are three major general areas of foolishness that underlie these specific areas. They are selfishness, pride and wickedness. So while there are specific solutions to specific areas of foolishness, those solutions must also address the general areas that are the foundations of the problems. There must be repentance from any area of wickedness and sin. Pride must be replaced with humility, and selfishness must be replaced by unselfishness. (See: Proverbs on the Family, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8) We will find that these same truths also apply to children, and the parents are going to have to help them learn the solutions. While it could be deduced from Genesis that the primary role of the parent would be to teach their children God’s commands and how to carry them out in order to carry out the dominion mandate, other Scriptures make this responsibility clear.
Our society has worked hard to shift the responsibility for the care and the outcome of raising children to people other than the parents including governments, school districts, counselors, doctors and even church workers. However, God places the responsibility on parents regardless of what society proclaims. Other people can help, but the responsibility still rests on the parents.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 lays out this parental responsibility. 4 “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! 5 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 “And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; 7 and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8 “And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 “And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Godly parents will be diligent in their efforts to carry out these responsibilities. Throughout the scriptures such commands are generally given to the Father in relationship to his son, but as I have pointed out before, the principles in them also apply to mothers and daughters. Proverbs 1:8, the first verse after the introduction, is “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, And do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” Both parents are responsible to be involved in rearing the children, but right here there exists a danger. What happens when the children become the priority? Foolishness arises which can destroy the marriage and family.
Keeping Family Priorities
A successful family begins with a marriage that strives to fulfill God’s purposes. The husband and wife learn the roles God has for them and strive to fulfill those responsibilities. They then teach their children to do likewise in carrying out God’s commands. That is why Proverbs 18:22 can say, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord.” Together, a man and wife can help one another fulfill the responsibilities God has placed upon them toward each other, their children and the world.
When the focus shifts from the spouse to the children as the priority, then there is a stepping away from God’s design for the family. You cannot be a better father or mother than you are a husband or wife. Why do I say that? Because if you do not obey the Lord and strive to fulfill your God given role in the marriage, then you are teaching your children to also disobey the Lord by your example.
Let me give a quick disclaimer here because there are some he
re who have difficult or broken marriages. I am not saying that you have to have a successful marriage because it takes both of you for that to happen, but I am saying that you must be striving to the best of your ability to walk in godliness. Your marriage could be difficult, it could even fail and you can still be a godly example to your children even if your spouse is not. Remember that godly success is determined by obedience, not achievement.
My concern here is one I have seen too often. The children become the center of the family instead of welcome members to it. Women are especially prone to this as the mommy role takes over and the wife role is lost, but it can also occur in dads and especially those who want to live vicariously through their sons. There is no question that caring for and raising your children will consume vast amounts of your time and energy, but if the kids become the priority over your spouse, you have entered the realm of foolishness and the family will suffer for it. I have seen this cause marital strife and even divorce. Ladies, be aware for if this occurs slowly and the man is passive in nature, he may not even object to your neglect of him. He will simply find something else to do, or he may even join you in the foolishness. That will seem good for awhile as you work together to satisfy your children, but the day will come when the children will grow up and move away from home leaving two people who are married, but strangers to each other. This is a major reason that there is a spike in divorces after the children become independent.
Men, the responsibility primarily falls on you to make sure you get your wife out of the mommy role from time to time and let her be your wife. Get her away from the kids periodically so that she can refocus on being a wife. Young children are time consuming because they need a lot of attention, but it is not hard to find time to work on your marriage and enjoy your relationship if you will take advantage of the opportunities. Make wise use of their nap times, play periods and such. Get a cup of coffee or soda and talk while the kids are in a class or sports practice. Put them to bed early enough you can spend time with each other. Get a babysitter occasionally so that you can spend more substantial time together without interruption to work on your marriage. When the kids are responsible enough to leave at home alone, take advantage of the new freedom for you and do so. Do not neglect your marriage and do not let your wife neglect it either.
Ladies, you have to be proactive about this as well. First, and this one is more of a problem with young mothers, but get over the idea that only you can care for your children. It is not true. Let someone else take care of them and go spend time with your husband. Second, your husband is not another child in the home, so don’t treat him like one even if you do think he acts that way at times. Show him the proper respect God commands you to give him as your husband. Third, your husband is ultimately responsible for the rearing of the children. Make sure you are talking to him about the kids, listening to what he has to say, and following his lead. The only exception to that is if he wants you to do something that is ungodly. Remember that your submission is always first to God, then your husband. Fourth, and this is especially true if your husband is passive, you may have to encourage him in his husband role. If he does not plan for some time to be alone with you, then with his approval, you make plans for the two of you to have some time together to work on and enjoy your marriage.
Psalm 127:3 states that “Children are a gift of the Lord; The fruit of the womb is a reward.” Make sure that you keep your priorities in order so that they are such blessing in having a larger family and not a curse that destroys it because your wrong priorities put them between you and your spouse.
I don’t have any doubts that good parents, both Christian and non-Christian, want their children to grow up to become wise and responsible adults. However, there is an immediate problem with that statement because there can be a great difference between Christians and non-Christians about what is wise, and that presents a great danger. When non-Christians follow godly wisdom, such as is in the book of Proverbs, they will be blessed. Our nation was blessed in such a way when Christianity and Biblical principles were the major influences in society. But if Christians follow worldly wisdom, they will find a heap of trouble. That is the situation we find ourselves in now in this society.
James 3:15-17 contrasts the difference between godly wisdom and worldly wisdom and why one brings blessing and other trouble. “This wisdom is not that which comes down from above , but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.”
It would be logical to think that the contrast between the consequences of the wisdom from above and the wisdom from below would make it easy for people to recognize which is wise and which is actually foolish. The problem is that sin blinds the minds of the unbelieving so that they are not able to see and recognize the truth though it is staring them in the face. Worldly people believe they are wise and superior though even simple logic demonstrates their wisdom is foolish and harmful. Paul comments on this in 1 Corinthians1:19-25.
“For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not [come to] know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
Notice that verse 22 states that “Greeks search for wisdom.” This is a reference to their philosophical systems and the credibility given to those who Paul described in Acts 17:21 as those who spent their time in telling or hearing something new. The philosophers were academically astute and therefore considered wise, among the elite in the society, to whom the people should pay attention. Whether what they said was actually true or not was not as important as the status they had attained.
Our society has done something similar with people with advanced degrees. There is a credibility given to those who have a PhD (Philosophy Doctorate – love of wisdom teacher) whether their ideas are actually true and wise or not. The common reaction is that they have a degree, therefore they must be wise. That is dangerous for a lot of very intelligent people with such advanced academic degrees are actually very foolish according to the Scriptures. They are those described in Psalm 1 as seating in the seat of the scoffers. They teach what is contrary to God and godliness.
Why do I bring this up? Because the tragedy for our society is that these are the kind of people that are now in the positions of authority in nearly all of our colleges and universities including the vast majority that claim to be Christian. That is bad enough, but their influence has gone well beyond academia through their writings and influence on those they are teaching that become the leaders of each successive generation. This is why our culture has shifted so radically over the last forty years with an increasing speed in its moral decline.
Their influence on the family has been especially destructive and through that also destructive to all of society. Their philosophies on marriage, family and child rearing are in contradiction to God’s word. They profess to be wise, but are fools. And as tragic as it is for our society, the greater tragedy is that the vast majority of Christians in this nation have not only listened to it, but are following it. That is a warning that much of what I will say in the rest of this sermon and next week will seem radically different from what is now commonly taught about rasing children. If what I say seems odd, it only illustrates my point here that the ungodly wisdom of the world has invaded the camp of the Lord’s people.
This begins with our goals for our children, and remember the goals that we set will determine the activities in which we and our children will be involved. However, many parents only have a vague notion of their goals, and those that do often do not give much consideration for how a particular activity fits within any plan to reach those goals. You must take the time to think through your major goals and secondary goals and then the means by which you can reach them, or you will fall into the trap of just reacting and following the example of everyone else. If that happens, you and your children will be swallowed up by society, and that is not something any godly parent should desire.
The greatest desire of any true Christian parent is that their children would become genuine Christians. However, as great as that desire might be, you cannot save them from their sin for that is the work of God. You could force a lot of things upon them and manipulate them to say and do the things you want, but salvation is a matter of the heart, not conformity of behavior. We have seen too many times the tragedy of Christian parents getting their children to pray the sinners prayer, follow strict rules in their home, only to see the child go wild once they are out of the home. Outward conformity was not inward reality. There are also those children that will continue to conform but without the reality and love of Christ. While they will still benefit from following Biblical principles, they lack the joy and life of walking with Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.
You cannot save your children, but you can and need to lay the foundation for the Holy Spirit’s work of convicting them of sin, righteousness and judgment so that they may personally repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. This becomes your primary goal as parents. You do this by diligently praying for your children and teaching them about God and to follow His commands. I already briefly pointed this out from Deuteronomy 6. These actions also lay the foundation for the next important goal in raising children who will be godly in actions and attitude.
To be a successful Christian parent you must first love the Lord God with all your heart, soul and might and then you pass that onto your children. You cannot teach them to love God if you do not love Him yourself. That means your own walk with the Lord is a critical factor in raising your children. Parents that sacrifice their own time with the Lord because they have to do things with their children are short sighted. Certainly there are many things with children that demand immediate attention and can interfere with your plans for personal Bible study and prayer. You have to be somewhat flexible to handle those situations, but that means finding another time slot to spend with the Lord, not neglecting it.
The next step is to be diligent in teaching your children about God and His commandments in all the various situations of life. Deuteronomy 6: 7 describes this as being done “when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way” and also “when you lie down and when you rise up.” These encompass all the daily activities of life. It begins when you get up and does not stop until you go to sleep. The reality is that you are teaching your children by everything you do because they are watching your example. Being diligent means that you purposely take advantage of every situation in life to teach about God, His commands and how to carry them out. It is to happen when you are having a meal, playing a game, being entertained or traveling from place to place.
This means there will be some forethought into all those activities and not just responding to situations as they arise. Think about and develop a plan of things you would like to talk about when you share a meal together. Pick out games that will help you to reinforce character lessons you are trying to teach them. Your entertainment choices need to be helpful in developing their character, or at least neutral and not something that is detrimental. Use your time while you travel from place to place not only to talk, but to point out things God has made or remind you of what God has done and give thanks. And don’t forget that your attitude and manner of driving is also teaching them. In all your activities and in all your waking hours you are to be looking for, creating and taking advantage of opportunities to teach your children about God and what He desires and requires in all the subjects that come up in the course of life.
The first element of foolishness found in Christian parenting occurs when something other than teaching their children to know and love God and keep His commandments becomes the primary goal. There are many parents that claim to love Christ themselves, yet instilling that in their children does not seem to be a very high priority. When more attention is given to other things, the children are taught that those things have greater value than learning about the Lord and His will. Proverbs has a lot of practical things to say about the character of God and how to live for Him. In a sense, the whole book is about this since “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10), and it is God that defines true wisdom and He is its source. Here are some of the things we learn from Proverbs about God and His character that you need to teach your children.
Teaching about God from Proverbs
First, the Lord is in control. Mankind generally does not like the idea that God is sovereign because man wants to be autonomous, yet it is a critical concept to teach your children in order to bring about humility, a key solution to many kinds of foolishness. The concept of God’s sovereignty is not that God is responsible for everything that happens, otherwise the unrighteous would have a valid claim that God is also the cause of evil and therefore cannot be good. But God is good, in fact every good thing comes from Him (James 1:17). On the other side, God takes no pleasure in wickedness and no evil dwells in Him (Psalm 5:4). His eyes are too pure to approve evil (Habakkuk 1:12). God’s sovereignty means that He is in control and nothing can thwart His will. He will do as He desires. His sovereignty means that He can even use the evil that men intend and carry out to bring about His own will. Joseph understood this which is why he told his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “you meant evil against me, [but] God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”
Here are three Proverbs that succinctly teach that the Lord is in control. Proverbs 16:9, “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:33, “The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the Lord.” Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is [like] channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.” God is in control over kingdoms, what would seem random, and your plans too. (See also Proverbs 16:1; 19:21; 20:24). That is a comfort to the righteous, but scary for the unrighteous.
Second, the Lord knows your heart.
Man’s quest for autonomy includes the idea that he can hide from justice. While he ma
y be able to do that among other humans, and your kids will certainly try it with you, man cannot hide from God. That puts a check on wickedness. Here are three Proverbs that will help you teach this. Proverbs 15:3, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Watching the evil and the good.” Proverbs 17:3, “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the Lord tests hearts.” Proverbs 21:2, “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts.” (See also Proverbs 5:21; 16:2). God’s omniscience is a source of fear for the wicked, but comfort to the righteous as David expressed in Psalm 139.
Third, things the Lord hates.
It is important that your children know what is sin and what is not. This can be used by the Holy Spirit to bring them to conviction so that they might seek God’s forgiveness. There are many Proverbs that point out particular sins, but a good place to start is with those things the Lord specifically says He hates and are an abomination to Him. Proverbs 6:16-19 “There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: 17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, 19 A false witness [who] utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.” Proverbs 16:5, “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.”
Fourth, the Lord cares for the righteous.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom, but then we go beyond that to the Lord’s forgiveness and care for the righteous. Start with the Lord’s compassion – Proverbs 28:13, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes [them] will find compassion.” Then go on to His attentiveness to the righteous – Proverbs 15:29, “The Lord is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous.” The Lord provides for the righteous – Proverbs 10:3, “The Lord will not allow the righteous to hunger, But He will thrust [aside] the craving of the wicked.” The Lord is our protection – Proverbs 10:29-30, “The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the upright, But ruin to the workers of iniquity. 30 The righteous will never be shaken, But the wicked will not dwell in the land.”
Fifth, the Lord can be trusted.
Because of His nature and attributes, we can trust the Lord in the present and for eternity. There are many Proverbs that bring out this idea, but Proverbs 3:5-8 is a good place to start and a passage you will be wise to have your children learn and memorize, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. 8 It will be healing to your body, And refreshment to your bones.” (See also Proverbs 16:20; 22:17-19; 29:25).
Sixth, the Lord desires you to be righteous
Proverbs 21:3, “To do righteousness and justice Is desired by the Lord rather than sacrifice.” What is important to God is our character and the actions that arise out of that character, not religious rituals. This principle keeps your children from falling into the trap of empty religious practice. And while this danger may be more apparent in liturgical churches, the danger exists in any church.
Seventh, the discipline of the Lord is a good thing
I will expand on the importance of discipline in another sermon, but here I just want to point out the concept. Proverbs 3:11-12, “My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord , Or loathe His reproof, 12 For whom the Lord loves He reproves, Even as a father, the son in whom he delights.” This is a more difficult concept to get children to understand, but it is a truth that will effect not only their acceptance of it, but also your practice of discipline with them.
Man’s foolishness works to disrupt and tear apart marriages and families. Parents are responsible before God for the rearing of their children. Christian parents must make sure they are pursing godly wisdom and not worldly wisdom. This begins by having the right goals of teaching your children to know the Lord, what it means to love Him and how to obey His commands. Proverbs can help you with this.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down the scripture references and look them up later 2) Count how many times “parent(s)”is said. 3) Discuss with your parents what you have learned about God and how to obey Him from them.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What is God’s purpose for mankind? Why did he fashion Eve for Adam? What is the purpose of children? What are the three main causes of foolishness in people? What are the three corresponding solutions to them? Who is responsible for raising children? Explain. What is the danger of the priority in the family shifting from the marriage to the children? Why can’t you be a better father / mother than a husband / wife? What about in difficult or failed marriages? What is “mommy mode” and why is it dangerous? What things can a man do to get his wife out of “mommy mode?” In what ways can a woman make sure she does not fall into “mommy mode.” What are some of the ways a husband can fall into “daddy mode?” How can that be prevented? What are some of the differences in results between worldly wisdom and godly wisdom? (James 3:15-17). How does 1 Cor. 1:19-25 help us understand the nature of worldly wisdom? What problems have arisen from the influence of the worldly wise? How can Christians protect themselves from their influence? What should be the greatest desire of Christian parents? What goals should they have and what can they do so that desire might be fulfilled? How can you carry out the principles of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 in your home? Review the various aspects about God and the corresponding verses from Proverbs given in the sermon (Teaching about God from Proverbs). Make a plan for your family to learn at least one concept and memorize a corresponding verse each week for the next seven weeks.
Sermon Notes – 7/15/2012
Principles of Parenting, Part 1
God’s mandate to man: subdue and rule over the ____________ – Genesis 1:26-30
God fashioned the woman to be man’s _______________in fulfilling God’s commands to man – Gen. 2
Men & women have equal standing before God, but have __________________characteristics and roles
The many expressions of foolishness are usually founded upon selfishness, ___________& wickedness
Repentance, ______________ and unselfishness are three key solutions to most foolishness
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 Parents are responsible to _____God and teach their children about Him & His laws
Proverbs 1:8 – both father and mother are responsible for _
_____________ the children
Keeping Family Priorities
A successful family begins with a _______________ that strives to fulfill God’s purposes
You cannot be a ____________ father or mother than you are a husband or wife
You must be a godly ________________ to your children even in a difficult or failing marriage
Concentrating on your parental role to the neglect of your spouse is ___________that tears a home down
Men, find ways to rescue your wife from “_______mode” – do not neglect your marriage or let her do so
Ladies, 1) Get over the idea that ___________ you can care for your children
2) Do not treat your husband like another child in the home – _____________ him as God commands
3) Your _______________ is ultimately responsible for the children, so talk, listen, and follow
4) Learn to _____________ your husband in his role – especially if he tends to be passive
Keep the proper priorities so that your children are _______________ and not a curse to you and others
All good parents want to raise ____________ and responsible children, but what kind of wisdom?
Godly wisdom is a _____________ to all, but worldly wisdom brings a heap of trouble
James 3:15-17 Contrasting consequences of ______________ wisdom and the wisdom from above
The worldly wise are _____________ to the truth and think their foolishness is superior – 1 Cor. 1:19-25
The worldly wise may be intelligent with advance degrees, but they are ______________scoffers – Ps. 1
The influence of the worldly wise has been ________________ to the family and to all of society
The Lord’s people must have godly ____________ lest they get swallowed up by the ungodly culture
The greatest desire of Christian parents is that their children will be genuine ________________
You cannot ___________ your children, but you can lay the foundation for the Holy Spirit’s work
Diligently _____________ for your children, teach them about God and how to follow His commands
The successful Christian parent must __________ love the Lord with all their heart, soul and might
Do not allow your parenting practices to cause you to __________ your personal walk with God
Diligently _____your children about God and His commands in all the various situations of life – Dt. 6:7
Think about and __________ activities so that you are proactive and not just reactive to what happens
The first element of foolishness in Christian parenting is having the ___________ primary goal
Teaching about God from Proverbs
1) The Lord is in ____________- God’s sovereignty is a critical concept to bring about human humility
2) The Lord ___________ your heart – God omniscience puts a check on wickedness –
3) Things the Lord hates – Knowledge of what God considers __________ is used to bring conviction
4) The Lord ____________ for the righteous –
He is compassionate – Prov. 28:13; Attentive – 15:29; Provides – 10:3; Protects – 10:29-30
5) The Lord can be ____________ – for the present & eternity
6) The Lord desires you to be _____________- Proverbs 21:3
7) The discipline of the Lord is a _____________ thing – Proverbs 3:11-12
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