A Practical Parenting Tip from Paul

One young man

Timothy had a good reputation (Acts 16:2). Years later Paul could say of him, “For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father” (Philippians 2:20-22).\

What had molded Timothy’s character? Certainly Paul had a part, but as he wrote Timothy, “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.”

“. . . from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15; see Acts 16:1).

Another young man

How different Timothy’s upbringing was from that of the young man described by Arlie J. Hoover: “A student who was an agnostic once told me that his mother deliberately raised him with no ideals, no values. She told him when he was very young, ‘I am not about to make you conform to my values. I just want you to grow up for yourself, make your own mistakes, search out the truth on your own, find your own worldview and life values.’

“This all sounds so sweet and reasonable and tolerant to most ears, but if you analyze this notion carefully it falls into a pile of nonsense” (“Toleration and Relativism: A Crucial Distinction,” Firm Foundation, 3-21-78: 181).

Conclusion?

Timothy had a mother and grandmother who taught him the Scriptures. Is it any wonder he turned out so well?

Do you suppose this just might still work today?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Over Our Heads?

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They just didn’t get it!

It’s remarkable how often what Jesus said went right over the heads of His hearers.

When Jesus was talking with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, He offered her “living water” that would deeply and permanently satisfy, unlike the H2O she drew from the well.

Her response? “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw” (John 4:13-15). By “living water” Jesus meant the Holy Spirit imparted to believers (John 7:37-39).

When Jesus’ disciples returned from buying bread, they urged Him to eat. Jesus replied, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” The disciples assumed He meant literal bread, but then Jesus explained, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work” (John 4:31-34).

So often Jesus and His listeners were operating on different wavelengths. Since His words were so frequently misunderstood, was He then an ineffective communicator?  As the Master Teacher, He was aiming to elevate the sights of His listeners from the mundane to the spiritual, from the earthly to the heavenly.

He refused to dumb down His message. He was trying to make people think—something many of us would rather not do.

Note this interchange: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Those who heard Him say this thought He meant the Jerusalem temple, but as John explains, “He was speaking of the temple of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken” (John 2:19-22). It finally clicked!

When we finally get it!

Jesus’ statements are all the richer as we understand them in the context of the Big Picture of the great plan of God. Our faith in Him can be strengthened as we think through His words until a light comes on in our minds, and our faith grows. Those “Aha!” moments are priceless!

I once heard a highly-educated and accomplished man say that in all the various fields of study he had pursued, he has found none more challenging than the study of the Scriptures. How true! There’s more than enough there to keep us occupied for a lifetime.

This is but another evidence that the Bible is what it claims to be: the inspired and living and powerful word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 1:23-25; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

As a result of its divine origin, for nearly 2,000 years it has been transforming millions of hopeless sinners into the likeness of God’s Son.

Can you think of any other book that could do that?

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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“I Think . . . .”

During her last semester before graduating from high school, Amy took a course in the New Testament. Probably not too many public schools offer Bible classes, but hers did.

Opposite approaches

At various times during the semester the teacher would ask what the Bible says about such and such. One male student tended to respond by saying, “Well, I think . . .” and he would give his opinion.

Among the issues discussed were whether one can fall from grace and whether baptism is essential to salvation. This student did not offer much if any Scripture as the basis for his assertions.

About once a week Amy responded to his “I think . . .” by saying, “The Bible says . . . .”

Good for her! She knew that what we believe must be Bible-based—and she had studied enough to be able to say, “The Bible says . . . .”

How many people twice her age can do that? Or three times her age?

Why we believe what we believe

Many people simply inherit their beliefs from parents without question, or they uncritically accept what some preacher says.

Bible study takes effort. Are we prepared to invest the time and energy required?

Also, if we discover we’ve been taught wrong, will we change our thinking to conform to Scripture?

What if we discover from our study that God expects us to make a major change in our lifestyle? Are we willing?

Or what if accepting biblical truth means we will face opposition from family and friends? Will we go with the truth, regardless?

What Bible study involves

To be effective, Bible study requires that we: 1) love the truth, and 2) diligently search the Scriptures (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12; Acts 17:10-12).

The goal of Bible study is not simply to accumulate knowledge but: 1) to learn what God expects us to do so we can do it, and 2) to share what we’ve learned with others (James 1:22-25; Ezra 7:10; 2 Timothy 2:2).

People like Amy are in the minority. Many don’t know what the Bible says. Many don’t care.

So, Amy, keep on saying, “The Bible says . . .” and you’ll enlighten those who love the truth as you do, but who also need your help to find the Way.

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Sayings and Scriptures

Passages paraphrased

How many times have you heard someone say, “God won’t lay on you more than you can bear”? While this is not found in Scripture per se, notice how closely it parallels what Paul says: “. . . God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). No, God never lays on us more than we can bear.

Another common saying: “One soul is worth more than all the world.” Although these exact words are not found in the Bible, it does echo Jesus’ statement, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Yes, one soul is worth more than all the world. What a bad bargain if we exchange our very soul for anything this world has to offer!

Skewed scriptures

It is also frequently said, “Money is the root of all evil.” Close, but not quite. What the Bible actually says is, “For the love of money is the root of all evil . . .” (1 Timothy 6:10). It’s the love of money we must guard against. A more accurate saying is, “Love people and use things. Don’t love things and use people.”

Often you hear, “Receive Christ as your personal Savior.” Certainly Christ is our Savior, He saves us personally, and we are to receive Him. But receiving Christ means more than saying the “Sinner’s Prayer.” We must obey Christ if we are to be saved by Him (Hebrews 5:8-9). This obedience involves faith, repentance, and baptism (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38). Obedience does not earn us our salvation—we are still saved by grace. Obedience is a test of our faith, a condition of our salvation. Without it we cannot be saved (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

The purpose of this little exercise is to help us be more discerning regarding the things we hear and say. Do they truly measure up against what the Bible teaches?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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On the Abuse and Proper Use of Scripture

God’s word says much about itself. It claims to be inspired of God (2 Timothy 3:16), able to save our souls (James 1:21), and forever enduring (1 Peter 1:25).

Powerful in its effects, it is like fire, like a hammer, and sharper than any two-edged sword (Jeremiah 5:14; 23:29; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12).

With such powerful benefits, it’s no surprise that Satan would oppose God’s word any way he can.

Influenced by Satan, there are those who:

  • Despise and reject God’s word (2 Chronicles 6:16; Isaiah 30:9-11).
  • Attempt to destroy it (Jeremiah 36:1-4, 20-32).
  • Distort it (2 Peter 3:15-16).
  • Use it deceitfully (2 Corinthians 4:2).
  • Invalidate it by human tradition (Mark 7:8, 13).
  • Add to or take from it (Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6).
  • Prevent others from believing it (Luke 8:12; Acts 13:6-12; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16).

In contrast, if we use God’s word as He meant for us to use it, we will:

  • Love it (Psalm 1:1-3; 119:97, 127).
  • Study it diligently (Acts 17:10-12).
  • Receive it humbly (James 1:21).
  • Receive it as a divine, not a human message (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
  • Obey it (James 1:22-25).
  • Teach it to others (Ezra 7:10; Acts 18:26; 2 Timothy 4:2).

How then have we been using God’s word lately?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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There’s a Scripture for That

Always applicable

God designed the Bible to meet the spiritual needs of all people in every culture, in every age. Only God is wise enough to make the Scriptures so universally and perpetually relevant.

His word is never dated.

Like the people of the first century, we too are sinners in need of the same grace they needed then.

God’s plan of salvation never changes (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Titus 3:5).

Applicable even to thorny ethical questions

But how do we make right moral decisions regarding matters not specifically mentioned in the Bible?

There’s where biblical principles guide our choices.

“. . . His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3).

Everything!

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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What I Love to See

Powerful effect

I love to see a well-used Bible—worn cover, key passages marked, and with lots of hand-written notes in the margins.

Even more so, I love to see believers whose lives are shaped by the Scriptures. They not only know the Bible, but far more important, they live it.

This is exactly what God intends (James 1:21-25).

God’s word is a guiding light (Psalm 119:105), nourishing food (Matthew 4:4; 1 Peter 2:2), and a sharp-two edged sword that pierces to the very core of our being (Hebrews 4:12).

Powerful Cause

When applied, the Scriptures can transform vile sinners of all stripes into those whose lives reflect the Christ they now serve (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

How can the Bible’s transforming power be explained in any other way than by its divine origin?

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