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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Why Some Reject the Truth

Root causes

Isaac McNally and I were discussing why some people refuse the evidence for faith and choose not to believe. He made the point that no matter how effectively we present the reasons for belief, nothing we might say will persuade those who have closed their ears to the truth. Why not?

While only God sees the deepest motives of the heart, and we cannot know in every case why someone refuses to believe, Scripture does reveal some root causes.

Jesus said, “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father the devil” (John 8:43-44).

There are those who “loved darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19-20).

Paul warned of those “who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18), “who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12), and who “will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

What it all comes down to

Some reject faith because they do not want to be accountable to anyone. They wish to do as they please, thinking that submitting to God means losing their freedom.

Yes, we must renounce our own sins if we wish to be saved—that’s repentance. But in reality, going God’s way is greatly to our advantage, while stubbornly remaining in unbelief leads to a destination where we do not wish to go (Matthew 7:13-14).

So it all comes down to this: Which do we love: our sins or the truth that can save our souls?

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

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Believe!

“Believe” is the main key word of the Gospel of John. From the 12th chapter of John let’s see what we can learn about what it means to believe:

Many believed (vv. 10-11).

A large number who witnessed Lazarus’ resurrection came to believe in Jesus (11:45). This is as it should be, for that was why Jesus raised Lazarus in the first place (11:4, 15, 42).

Some did not believe (vv. 37-40).

In spite of Jesus’ many miracles, some still refused to put their trust in Him. Why? It’s not that they didn’t have ample evidence, but they willfully closed their eyes against the Light. In doing so, they forfeited their only hope. “Having so hardened themselves, they inevitably suffered the penalty of God’s judicial hardening, making them no longer capable of believing” (James Burton Coffman, Commentary on John, Austin, TX: Firm Foundation Publishing Co., 1974, p. 305). Could anything be sadder?

Some believed but would not go public with their faith (vv. 42-43).

They knew if they confessed their faith, they would be put out of the synagogue. So they kept quiet. In doing so they took their stand with those who did not believe. In contrast, those who believed as a result of Lazarus’ resurrection were willing to bear public witness to Christ (v. 17). They weren’t ashamed to say so.

“While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light . . . . I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness” (vv. 36, 46).

Those who do not believe and those who do not confess remain in darkness.

Those who take their stand for Jesus are the ones who become sons of light.

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

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Faith’s Opposites

Light is the opposite of dark. Good is the opposite of evil. Hope is the opposite of despair. Zeal is the opposite of apathy. What then is the opposite of faith?

Faith is the opposite of sight.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). “Now faith is . . . the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Our five senses detect the physical world around us. But with the eye of faith “we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen . . .” (2 Corinthians 4:18; see John 20:29; 1 Peter 1:8).

Faith is the opposite of fear.

“Why are you afraid?” Jesus asked His frightened disciples. “How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40). Faith and fear are on opposite ends of the seesaw. When faith is down, fear is up; when faith is up, fear is down.

Faith is the opposite of unbelief.

Jesus said to Thomas, who at first refused to believe Jesus had risen, “. . . do not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:27). Unbelief is the root cause of faith’s other opposites: walking by sight and fear.

To illustrate all three opposites:

Israel on the edge of Canaan chose to believe the ten spies who said, in essence, “We can’t take the land—the giants are too big.” Israel refused to believe Joshua and Caleb’s report: “With God on our side we can do it!”

In other words: 1) They walked by sight—they could see the big giants, but failed to look with eyes of faith to a far bigger God. 2) They feared the giants instead of trusting in their all-powerful Protector. 3) They didn’t believe that God would keep His promise to give them the land. “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:19).

Israel’s failure serves as a warning to us not to miss out on our Promised Land (Hebrews 3:12-14; 4:1-11).

“Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest . . .” (Hebrews 4:11).

faith-tagged

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

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Selective Vision

“Seeing is believing.”

So they say. But not always.

Israel’s experience in the wilderness proves that seeing doesn’t always lead to believing.

God was ready for Israel to enter the Promised Land, but they weren’t ready. Why not? Their eyes were focused on the wrong things.

Ten of the spies reported on the land they had explored: “. . . the people who live in the land are strong . . . . we saw the descendants of Anak there . . . . all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim . . . and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:28, 32, 33).

The high cost of unbelief

So God said, “Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet . . . have not listened to My voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it” (Numbers 14:22-23).

Because the ten spies had seen with their own eyes the power of God as demonstrated in the Egyptian plagues and the Red Sea deliverance, shouldn’t they have trusted Him? But because the giants loomed large, God’s far superior power was all but forgotten! As a penalty, they would never get to enter the land. They were disqualified by unbelief (Hebrews 3:19).

A lesson for us

The writer of Hebrews warns us not to do as they did: “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11).

Selective vision paralyzes whenever we focus on our fears instead of our Father. Selective vision empowers when we keep our eyes on God, trusting Him to help us deal with life’s challenges.

As the children’s song says, “Oh be careful, little eyes, what you see.”

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

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What’s the most amazing?

Cause for wonder

Watching a documentary, I marveled at the living things inhabiting the waters and rain forests of the Amazon. The anaconda, capybara, macaw, piranha—what wonderful creatures God has made, each with its distinctive traits.

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It’s good to be awed every once in awhile.

What are the most amazing things you can think of? Would these be on your list?

  • The sky on a clear night
  • The complex genetic code of DNA
  • A sonogram of a child in its mother’s womb

And there is more!

  • Old Testament prophecies of Christ
  • The way Scripture plumbs the depths of our being
  • The lengths to which Jesus went to save us

But then . . .

So often the human response to our Creator is a stubborn refusal to honor and obey Him.

Could unbelief be the greatest wonder of all?

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