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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A Remembered Lesson

It was over 50 years ago, but it stands out in my memory. Norman Harnage was teaching our class that Sunday morning in our congregation where I grew up.

Norman said he wanted to talk with us about one thing. And he did.

He cited several passages where the expression “one thing” is found. The following were, I believe, among those he cited:

What’s most needed

Jesus was a dinner guest in Martha’s home. In her preparations she became frustrated with her sister Mary, who was listening to Jesus teach. “Lord,” she complained, “do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”

“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, “you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).

What’s lacking

On another occasion a young man approached Jesus and asked what he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus cited several of the Mosaic commandments. “All these things I have kept from my youth,” he replied.

One thing you still lack;” Jesus told him, “sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven, and come, follow Me” (Luke 18:18-23).

But the young man turned sadly away. Jesus knew he was putting his money ahead of his relationship with God.

What’s most important

Paul wrote, “. . . one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

Paul knew what was most important in life, and he was totally focused on the goal. He let nothing distract him from obtaining the prize.

“. . . one thing is necessary . . . .” “One thing you still lack.” “. . . one thing I do . . . .”

Thank you, Norman Harnage, for bringing that simple but profound lesson so long ago.

You were right.

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

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What Moses Declined–And What He Chose Instead

A major test of our character is what we choose—and what we do not choose.

Moses’ choices

As an infant, Moses was adopted by the Egyptian princess and was given a first-rate Egyptian education (Acts 7:20-22). Moses had it all. But then he gave it all up. Why?

“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward” (Hebrews 11:24-26).

Moses would appreciate John Newton’s great hymn, “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken,” which includes these lines: “Fading is the worldling’s pleasure,/All his boasted pomp and show;/Solid joys and lasting treasure/None but Zion’s children know.”

On two separate occasions, decades later, God was so angry with Israel that He told Moses he would destroy them and make Moses the father of a great nation. Moses declined the honor and pled with God to spare Israel. And God did (Exodus 32:7-14; Numbers 14:11-20).

Like Moses

God promised to raise up an even greater Prophet like Moses—none other than Jesus Himself (Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 3:19-24; John 5:45-47).

Moses endured because he was “looking to the reward” (Hebrews 11:26). Jesus endured “for the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

And we?

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

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Thinking Ahead

When our belongings start to crowd us

It would be interesting to know how many more storage units there are today, compared with 40 years ago.

Most of us are so abundantly blessed that we are running out of room to store all our stuff.

One of the benefits of Bible study is that it reminds us that material things are not what counts most.

A far better investment

Since possessions are so vulnerable to loss, Jesus reminds us that we can have treasures that are moth-proof, rust-proof, and theft-proof (Matthew 6:19-21). Heavenly treasure is the way to go!

The rich young ruler was unwilling to accept Jesus’ challenge to sacrifice his earthly wealth for heavenly treasure, by giving to the poor. So he walked sadly away (Matthew 19:16-22). Big mistake!

Better glad than sad

People keep making that same mistake. They can’t bring themselves to take Jesus’ word for it.

If we prudently lay aside an amount every paycheck for retirement, we are operating on the principle that we’ll benefit eventually. Someday we’ll be glad we planned ahead and made whatever sacrifice was necessary.

Small children usually don’t think very far ahead. They want it NOW! As we grow older, ideally, we mature to the point where we are willing to defer gratification.

Laying up treasure in heaven by giving to those in need is the ultimate extension of this principle. God promises us that if we’ll do His will and depend on His grace, we will be glad someday. Very glad!

If it’s wise to plan for retirement, how much wiser to plan for eternity!

Retirement lasts a few years at most. But eternity . . . .

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A “Why?” for a “Why?”

How Jesus responded

So often during Jesus’ ministry He had to correct the views of His opponents and even His own disciples. On several occasions when objectors asked, “Why?” Jesus replied with a “Why?” of His own.

When Jesus forgave the paralytic, some thought, “Why does this man speak this way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus replied, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?” (Mark 2:7-8). Jesus proceeded to heal the man, thus proving He did indeed have the authority to forgive.

Another time the Pharisees and scribes challenged Him: “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” Jesus countered, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:2-3). Jesus’ enemies were doubly guilty—not only did they unjustly accuse Jesus’ disciples, but they were blind to their own failures.

When Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus, His disciples objected, “Why this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” Jesus replied, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me” (Matthew 26:8-10).

Learning to see from His perspective

In all three of these cases, those who thought Jesus was wrong turned out to be wrong themselves, whether they were willing to admit it or not. Jesus has the advantage of the divine perspective. His words of truth expose our faulty human reasoning for what it is. His perfect life validates all He taught.

As we get to know Christ better, we so often discover that His heavenly values run counter to our own limited, sin-warped, earth-bound thinking.

Something has to give. Let’s trust our own thinking less, and His more (Proverbs 3:5-6).

After all, shouldn’t He always have the last word?

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

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Headlines You’ll Never See

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Newsworthy?

Many of the most significant events never make the papers.

Can you imagine any of the following headlines?

SATAN HOLDS MILLIONS OF AMERICANS HOSTAGE

IMMORAL BEHAVIOR HIGHLY SELF-DEFEATING

CHRISTIANS ENDURE STRESS BETTER, STUDY SHOWS

SPIRITUAL INVESTMENTS UNTOUCHED BY RECESSION

HEAVEN CELEBRATES RETURN OF WAYWARD CHRISTIAN

END OF WORLD INEVITABLE—DATE UNCERTAIN

From God’s perspective

No, we won’t be seeing these in the paper, but in God’s economy these are things of eternal consequence.

The world may little note what Christians do, but God never overlooks even the smallest act of service done in His name (Matthew 6:1-4; 10:42; Luke 21:1-4; Hebrews 6:10).

And if He notices, that’s all that matters.

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The Latest Thing

New and Improved!

Today I used a carpet sweeper. It uses a rotating bristle brush to sweep the floor. It’s inexpensive, cordless, quiet, easy to push and pull, and has no bag to replace. Technology has done it again!

Seriously, the pace at which new inventions arrive on the market whets consumers’ insatiable appetite for newer, better, faster, fancier.

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Never dated

And yet all that’s most important in life doesn’t depend on technology: faith, love, kindness, patience, honesty, family, friendship—to name a few.

Let’s balance our gratitude for recent developments with a deepened appreciation for the timeless values that never become obsolete or need replacing.

“Heaven and earth will pass away,” said Jesus, “but My words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

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

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