God’s Heart For Your Family
By Kim Butts
God has kingdom plans for His people – plans He designed uniquely for us so that His will might be done on this earth. He purposefully intends to use our families for His glory! We must develop the characteristics of His heart and cooperate with His purposes to use us in radical, counter-culture, kingdom-advancing ways! In other words, He has set His heart on our hearts! We can choose to obey and join Him in transforming our homes, communities and nations, or we will be relegated to the sidelines, rendered ineffective by the designs that the enemy of our souls has upon the condition of our hearts. Please don’t use excuses that you must wait until your children are older, or you have just the right job situation, etc. It is not up to you. God has determined that the time is NOW, and there is fresh urgency, given the condition of our sorry, fallen world! We cannot afford to wait until later to develop the heart of God. We are useless with hearts that reflect our culture, but with the lifeblood of Jesus Christ pumping through us by the power of the Holy Spirit, our lives can be strong testimonies to the transforming, life-giving heart of the Father!
We Are Designed by His Heart
God created us in His image, and therefore our hearts were initially made to be like His: "From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth – He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do" (Psalm 33:13-15). The original plans and purposes of the Father’s heart for each generation is that we would love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and that we would also love our neighbors as ourselves. Sin broke this relationship; however, the Father’s plans were not to be thwarted. Through His Son, Jesus Christ, our hearts have been redeemed. Therefore, "…the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations" (Psalm 33:11).
God has plans for your family, from the oldest to the youngest…even for those yet to be born: "He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which He commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds but would keep His commands" (Psalm 78:5-7). "They will proclaim His righteousness to a people yet unborn – for He has done it" (Psalm 22:31). The purposes of His heart flow from generation to generation if we are faithful to pass them on and demonstrate them to our children and then to our children’s children.
It is so critical to know that children are never too young to understand and soak up the deep things of God. Their young hearts long for an encounter with the living Lord, and once they experience Him and connect with Him heart to heart, they will never go back! They will long for the next opportunity to hear His voice, and to see Him work powerfully in and through them to accomplish His plans and purposes on this earth. Parents and grandparents – don’t stop the little children from coming to Jesus. Allow them every opportunity to connect with His Holy Spirit, to learn from His gentle, humble heart, and to obey His teaching. They are intercessors, evangelists, worshipers and church planters! They long to move and serve in the power of His Spirit. Parents, train up your children in the way they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). They cannot fulfill their destinies in Christ without training, encouragement and mentoring! Unless we stop entertaining them and start allowing them to have encounters with Jesus, we will lose successive generations! Help them to set their hearts on things above (Colossians 3:1-2) and not upon the culture in which they live, for the kingdom belongs to them (Matthew 19:14). God has made the hearts of our families to reflect His glory!
His Plans for Our Hearts
One major purpose of the Father’s heart is to complete the work He began in us when He created us. "…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6). His good work began in you when you were created – even before you were born. We can have complete confidence, through Scripture, that God will fulfill His plans to complete His work in our families: "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?" (Numbers 23:19). God’s Word is trustworthy; He fulfills His promises.
Another purpose of God’s heart is to give us hope and a future: "‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’" (Jeremiah 29:11). In order for the Lord to complete the good work He began in each person, we need to receive the promise that He plans to bring us peace (the Hebrew word for "prosper" here is "shalom" which means "peace") and not harm. He plans to give us hope, not despair, and a future! What will your family do with this future? Will you honor Him with the good stewardship of lives lived well for His sake?
God has such a heart for families that to encourage parents to carry out His purposes He sent two different prophets – Elijah, and later, John the Baptist to "turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers…" (Read Malachi 4:6 and Luke 1:17). How very sad that we are such a stiff-necked people. We have so neglected our relationships within our families that we are now suffering the consequences of our sin. We cannot carry out God’s plans when we are not united in loving relationships that reflect the character of Christ in our homes. The Church will not experience unity and revival until our families begin to do so. God designed the family to be the primary training ground for children. Until we obey His mandate (see Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Psalm 78:1-8) can God’s plans and purposes for us be fully completed?
The Lord Searches Our Hearts
"I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve" (Jeremiah 17:10). Can you picture the Lord searching your heart and examining your mind? What will He find there? Will He be pleased, or saddened? Remember, there is absolutely nothing that can be hidden from Him: "…would not God have discovered it, since He knows the secrets of the heart?" (Psalm 44:21). We often try to go our way in our own flesh; however, as Christians we must always remember that everything we do and say must be weighed and measured against the plans and purposes of God rather than man: "All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart" (Proverbs 21:2). When God tests your heart, will He find integrity? "I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity" (1 Chronicles 29:17a). Are you teaching your children to live lives of truthfulness, honor and uprightness in a world that promotes the opposite? "The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil" (Proverbs 15:28). If our hearts are stubborn, and bent upon going our way, we cannot bring honor to God: "But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; each of us will follow the stubbornness of his evil heart’" (Jeremiah 18:12). Our Father has plans and purposes for us – plans for peace, hope and a future! Will you submit to Him?
God Transforms Our Hearts through Prayer
Jesus Christ has redeemed our hearts and rescued us from death. Now we can be like Chris t, and have the heart of God – which is what He intended from the beginning. However, we must choose to obey the Father so that we can be more like Him. He has given us careful instructions about how to have a heart like His. And if we will ask Him, He will transform our hearts: "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26). Jesus lives to intercede for us before the Father (see Hebrews 7:25 and Romans 8:34). When we pray, we join our hearts to His. Jesus said, "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:29).
Prayer is our response to the purposes of God’s heart: "Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:12-13). God created us to commune with Him through prayer and worship. As the passage above states, if we will call upon Him and pray, then He will listen. If we seek Him with all of our hearts, we will find Him. Here are some Scriptural prayers for your family to pray as you ask the Lord to transform your hearts to be like His:
"Lord, our family yearns to know You better! Our hearts and flesh cry out for You, the Living God" (Psalm 84:2).
"Holy Spirit, help me to flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call upon You out of a pure heart!" (2 Timothy 2:22).
"Father, protect my heart from what is evil so that I will never take part in wicked deeds with those who would draw me away from You (Psalm 141:4). Instead, please help me to love from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith (1 Timothy 1:5). When I have purified myself by obeying the truth so that I have sincere love for others, help me to love them deeply, from my heart" (1 Peter 1:22).
Sometimes God’s people are sidelined or diverted for a time. Here are some prayers to pray for members of your family – even those who may not be walking with the Lord at the moment – to ask the Lord to complete His work in them:
"Lord, thank you that Your Word promises that You will fulfill Your purpose for _____ and that Your love endures forever. Do not abandon the works of Your hands, Father (Psalm 138:8). I cry out to You, God Most High, to fulfill Your purpose for _____ (Psalm 57:2). Your hands made _____ and formed him/her; give him/her understanding to learn Your commands (Psalm 119:73). And then, Father, give _____ everything that is needed to perfectly complete the work You began in him/her when You created him/her."
We have an enemy whose desire is for the destruction of our children and our families! Take this passage to heart: "Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to Him for the lives of your children, who faint from hunger at the head of every street" (Lamentations 2:19). Your children may not be fainting from physical hunger, but are they going without spiritual food in your home?
As an encouragement, take this passage to heart: "The LORD is far from the wicked but He hears the prayer of the righteous" (Proverbs 15:29). Would you ask Him to give you and the members of your family His heart?
What Is Written on the Tablet of Your Heart?
"Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man" (Proverbs 3:3-4). May the God of Glory write His plans and purposes upon your heart today so that your family may be used in powerful ways for the expansion of His kingdom on this earth!