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I’M NUMBER ONE

1 TIMOTHY 1:15

“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.”  

Paul called himself the number one sinner. Why would anyone do that? That is not a title I want. But he was making a point. Jesus died for all sinners, even the worst sinner of all. Paul, obviously, was reflecting on his past actions before he came to Christ. He was a persecutor of the early church. He sanctioned murder of Christians. He was there when the first martyr, Stephen, fell. He was, in fact, eager to bring them all to justice.

So, how does this relate to us? We are just as bad. We may not have killed anyone or persecuted anyone, but our sins are just as wicked. Our sins, left unforgiven, will lead us directly to hell. There are no little sins. Sin is sin – period. We all vie for the title of number one sinner.

APPLICATION

If you are like most parents, you don’t want to see your little Johnny or Susie as a sinner. Sure, they misbehave at times, but to think they will spend eternity separated from a holy God breaks your heart. It is hard to accept. But it is the truth. Unless your little angel turns to Christ and surrenders their will to His, they will not see the glory of heaven.

Our number one job as parents is to do all we can to introduce them to Jesus. We must prepare the spiritual environment in our homes to allow them to know Him and accept Him. We can’t make them choose Christ, but we must do everything within our power to prepare the way. How are you doing with that?

And this responsibility doesn’t just apply to our household. We are commanded by God to share His good news to everyone. Are you sharing that? Will you share that today? Ask the Lord to send people into your life today with whom you can share the greatest story ever told. You won’t regret it. It will be the best part of your day.

O God, Savior of my soul, thank You for redeeming me. Thank You for not turning Your back on me when I came seeking You. I, like Paul, am the foremost of sinners.

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SUPER ABUNDANT

1 TIMOTHY 1:14

“and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.” 

I love it when I discover a word like the one today which is translated “more than abundant.” This word is only used right here in the New Testament. It literally means uncountable or beyond measure. It’s like trying to count the stars on a clear night. You just can’t do it. 

But look what it is used to describe. The Lord’s grace! Wow! His grace towards us is super abundant. It is infinite. It is limitless. It is constant and ongoing. It cannot be finished. There will never be a time when the Lord says, “Sorry, I just ran out of grace for you.” It is and will always be there.

APPLICATION

Ask your son or daughter how they would like a lifetime supply of ice cream. They could have any flavor, any time, and as much as they wanted. I am sure they would be excited. But I bet at some point they would tire of ice cream. They would say, “I am so sick of eating ice cream.” Even good things can get old after a while.

Now compare that with the grace the Lord gives us. Explain that the Lord gives us just the amount and type of grace we need each and every time we need it. His purpose of extending grace to us is the same as it was for Paul. He desires that our faith grow and our love deepen.  His grace is the instrument He uses to do that. And since we will never have a perfect faith or a perfect love, God’s grace is a continuous flow. Your children need to learn to depend upon it and accept it. Why? Because they will need it their entire life.

Have you received the grace of the Lord today? Sure, you have. You may not be aware of it, but you have received His grace through your very first breath this morning. He knows in advance what your day is going to bring. So, He prepares your daily dose of grace to see you through. Thank Him for that today.

God of grace, I praise You. I do not understand your limitless supply of grace, but I am so thankful for it. Your grace truly is amazing.

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THANK GOD FOR MERCY

1 TIMOTHY 1:13

“even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;” 

There are so many great words in this verse. Most of them point towards Paul’s former life before he met Christ on the Damascus road. Just like us, he acted ignorantly in unbelief. He thought he was doing right. He thought he was acting on God’s behalf. We do the same. We go through life as if we are just fine with God – UNTIL we meet Him on our own Damascus road.

But the key word today is “mercy.” Paul was shown mercy. Mercy is NOT getting what we do deserve. It’s God showing compassion and pity on us because of our covenant relationship with Him. Because of the shed blood of Christ, He extends mercy to us when we deserve hell. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are forgiven. 

APPLICATION

There are times when you need to show mercy to your children. One more “crack down” on them will do them in. Our job is help mold their spirit, not break it. Sooner or later, your little Gertrude or Elrod is going to need some mercy. The question is can you give it.

Many parents think showing any kind of mercy is a sign of weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth. You are the authority. You have the power to enforce whatever rule and consequence you choose. Choosing to show mercy is a sign of control and strength to your child. They need to understand, though, what you are doing. They need to understand that you are choosing to show them mercy, just like our holy God has chosen to show us mercy.

Perhaps you are one of those parents who refuse to show mercy. May I warn you of something? Those who show no mercy will be shown no mercy. Don’t go running to God for mercy when you cannot show it yourself. When you choose to show mercy, you can appreciate it even more when you receive it yourself. And when you do, marvel at the relationship you have in Christ.

Mercy! I cry mercy, Lord. Forgive me! Show me mercy in my repentance. And help me show mercy to others today.

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SERVING

1 TIMOTHY 1:12

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service,” 

What does it mean to serve someone? I never worked as a waiter or server in a restaurant. There just weren’t many places to eat in my hometown. But my son, Christopher, worked for a number of years in a couple of places. He was good at it. He made sure his customers were served well. Their dining experience was his priority.

The word “service” in this verse is the word we get “deacon” from. Deacons are servants. They serve the body of Christ. They were never meant to be the ones who governed the church. So many churches have that wrong. A true deacon has a servant’s heart. They serve at the pleasure of our Lord and serve for one purpose – to help the church proclaim the Gospel.

APPLICATION

Your children can learn to serve, as well. Service is a good thing. Serving others teaches humility. Serving others for Christ is fulfilling. Serving others allows them to put others above self. And look at how the Lord sees it in today’s verse. He considers us faithful to serve. It’s all about faith.

So, how can your children serve? How about helping clean rooms at church? No church has enough help cleaning. How about helping in the nursery (if they are old enough)? No church has enough nursery workers. How about helping serve snacks at Vacation Bible School? There are numerous ways in which your children can serve the Body of Christ. And teaching them this early will set them on the right path of service as they grow up.

Whom are you serving? Don’t look on service as a chore. Look on it as a privilege. You have the opportunity to show your love for Jesus by serving other believers. The Lord wants you to learn the joy of serving. Will you?

I am thankful I can serve others. Help me see it as You do, Lord. I want to be obedient to You as You lead me to serve.

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ENTRUSTED

1 TIMOTHY 1:11

“according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.”

Do we really understand what this verse says? This is huge! This is big time! God, THE God of the universe, the God who saves me through His Son Jesus, has faith in ME! That’s what it says. He has so much faith in me that He has entrusted me with His Gospel. He has placed His trust in me to carry out the delivery of His message to a lost world. Despite all of today’s technology, God still uses people.

“Entrusted” comes from the same Greek word as “faith.” It means to be convinced of something. This verb “entrusted” is in the passive voice, which you will remember means the object of the verb is acted upon by something else. In this case, God acts upon us by entrusting us with His Gospel. Wow! Faith is a two-way street. We have faith in God to save us, and He has faith in us to carry out His message.

APPLICATION

This can be a good verse to act out with your little Susie or Johnny. You can entrust them to do something. Give them a chore to do with the promise of payment in return. Make sure it is something they can actually do according to their age. When they have completed the chore, sit them down and give them their payment and explain what just happened.

You gave them a task (you entrusted it to them), and you fulfilled your promise (you paid them). In the same way, although with much more purpose, God entrusts them with His message. He “pays” them through His promise to save them. Make sure they understand that our salvation does not depend on works. Our works are simply our way of showing God how much we love Him and how grateful we are to Him for having faith in us to be a part of His plan.

Do you believe God has entrusted you with a purpose? He has, you know. He believes in you as much as you believe in Him. He wants to use you to accomplish great things in His name. But you have to be willing. You have to do it. He won’t make you, but He knows you can do it. Will you? 

Doing Your Will is my purpose, O Lord. I know when I am obedient You are pleased. You love me unconditionally, but You are well pleased when I serve You.

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CONTRARY

1 TIMOTHY 1:10

“and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,” 

I am not going to get into the lifestyles of those who are mentioned in today’s verse. I do not think that is necessary. I want to pick out one word in the verse, though. Look at that word “contrary.” Have you ever known someone who was contrary? Do you even know what that means? It means someone who is against everything. They will argue with a fence post.

These kinds of people cannot be convinced with the truth because they do not believe it applies to them. Or they think they have the real truth. Paul has just listed in the past two verses those who fit into this category. They are opponents or enemies to sound teaching.

APPLICATION

Okay, then, how does this apply to our children? Easy, keep teaching them the truth. Point them constantly to God’s Word. Give them sound teaching. Only by doing this can they recognize the untruths. Only by consistently exposing them to truth will they be able to establish that baseline of truth and untruth. 

The world is going to throw enough untruths at your children. Satan does not want them to follow Jesus. He will hurl all sorts of lies at them to try to get them to believe them. You are that buffer when they are growing up. You shield them with the Gospel. You guard them with THE truth. And don’t stop just because they get saved. You have to continue to disciple and mentor them to spiritual maturity. You have a lifetime job!

But how about your spiritual maturity? Have you drunk the Kool-Aid of social tolerance? I don’t mean you can’t accept others and love them. I mean you can’t condone ungodly behavior, many of which are named in verses 9 and 10 of 1 Timothy 1. You have to decide if you are going to be contrary to sound teaching yourself.

Father, guard my heart against the lies of the devil. Reveal to me quickly anything that is contrary to your teachings. I want to live and speak truth.

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LAWBREAKERS

1 TIMOTHY 1:9

“realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers” 

I have noticed something about people who don’t like rules. They are usually the ones who break them. People who don’t like the law are normally lawbreakers. People who hate law enforcement officers are the ones who are repeatedly arrested for breaking the law. Hmm, there seems to be a pattern here.

That is exactly what Paul is saying here. The law isn’t an issue for the righteous. If we are living righteously, we have no problem with the law. If we are living righteously, we follow a higher law. But if we are lawless and rebellious, we constantly struggle against the law because it reminds us and convicts us of sin.

APPLICATION

Try an experiment in your house. Abolish all rules for a week. Anything goes. No chores have to be done. No bedtimes. No rules about what and when you eat your meals. See what happens. It won’t take long for your children to start following rules that no longer exist. It sounds like freedom to have no rules, but it actually is much more confusing and tiring.

After this experiment (if you dare), ask your children what they liked or disliked about it. Take notes. You will want to refer back to them a few weeks when they begin to complain about the rules again, lol.  And take the opportunity to explain that rules (law) are not meant to punish us. Rules are meant to guide us. Encourage your little Gertrude to obey because of her desire to please God, not you.

Which “laws” are you breaking? Are you fearful of being caught? Hiding your lawbreaking can be exhausting. Why don’t you confess that as sin today and allow the Lord to give you a fresh start? Learn to embrace the law (rules) as it was intended. God only wants us to obey Him out of love.

Lord, forgive me for complaining about Your law. I know You give it to guide me. Let me see it as You intended.

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FOLLOW THE RULES

1 TIMOTHY 1:8

“But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully,” 

We have rules for a reason. Rules help us keep order. Rules guide us correctly. Rules can teach us the right way to do something. Rules can keep us honest. So, why do so many people break them? For some, their motto is “Rules are made to be broken.”

Paul addresses the idea of rules in today’s verse. The word “lawfully” is only used twice in the New Testament – here and in 2 Timothy 2:5. Paul had been a rule follower. Remember, he was a Pharisee, a law-abider and a law enforcer. He knew the law couldn’t save you, but it could guide you. The law pointed out sin which can lead to repentance.

APPLICATION

I don’t know many children who like rules. I used to tell my staff in the Children’s homes to have as few rules as possible in their cottages. Fewer rules made it easier for the kids to remember them. That applies to our own homes as well. Rules without relationships just don’t work.

That’s why we have to help our children understand the “why” behind the rule, not just the “what” of the rule. Get them to help make the house rules. Make sure the house rules agree with Scripture. Let them hold you accountable for the rules. If you break a house rule, they should be able to point that out to you without fear of reprisal. We ALL need to be held accountable.

But aren’t you glad that the Lord is less concerned about rules than He is about relationships? You see, we should obey the Lord’s commands because we love Him, not out of fear of being punished. Obedience out of love will always be easier than obedience out of fear. Remember, the Lord gives us rules for a reason. He wants to keep us safe and teach us to be more like Him – the Law Giver.

I am thankful for Your Law, O Lord. Let me follow obediently without becoming legalistic. I want to show others the joy of obeying You willingly. 

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SINCERELY WRONG

1 TIMOTHY 1:7

“wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.”

Sometimes you can be confident but also wrong. You strongly believe in what you are saying or doing, only to find out later that you were entirely wrong. That may be to your own lack of research or knowledge, or you may have been fooled by someone else.

Paul is addressing that in today’s verse. These individuals who had strayed into fruitless discussions (verse 6) thought themselves wise enough to teach the Law. But Paul says “they do not understand.” Remember, Paul was a very knowledgeable man. He had been taught by the best. He knew the Law. He could tell when someone was faking it.

APPLICATION

Before you spend all these years training your children, shouldn’t you make sure that what you are teaching them is correct? Your little Susie is relying on you to tell her what’s what. If all she grows up believing is incorrect, you have done her a great disservice. That’s why the only true source of wisdom from which you can teach her is God’s Word.

So, before you teach, research. Before you spend the time and energy training your little ones, make sure you check it out with Him. He wants you to teach truth because He is truth.

Have you been fooled by someone into believing something is true when it’s not? I think of the people of Israel when the Gibeonites fooled them into thinking they were from faraway nation wanting to make peace when they were, in fact, their neighbors. If they had only consulted the Lord, they would have known. Don’t take what you hear from others at face value. Check it out in His Word.

O Lord, I praise You that I can always trust Your teachings. I am thankful You are trustworthy. Help me teach only what You have taught me.

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WHAT DRAWS YOU?

1 TIMOTHY 1:6

“For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion,” 

It is so important to understand not just what, but how the Scriptures are written. What do I mean by that? I mean the choice of verbs and adjectives is important. Today’s verse is one perfect example. The verb phrase “have turned aside” is in the passive voice, which means an action has been done on the subject. In this case, we have to ask what turned them aside. It’s in the phrase before, “straying from these things.”

Don’t let me lose you. Hang on! You see, when we stray, when we miss the mark, we are turned aside from where we should be going to where we should NOT be going. That can be “fruitless discussion” or something more dangerous. You see, sin will take you further than you ever thought you would stray, cost you more than you ever thought you would pay and keep you longer than you ever thought you would stay (this saying is not original to me).

APPLICATION

This is why one of our most important jobs as parents is to teach our children to focus on the eternal perspective. When they lose sight of the eternal, the temporal will cause them to stray. Learning to sacrifice immediate gain for ultimate reward is huge. Setting long term goals is critical, even for children.

Let me give you an example. When I began mowing yards as a young boy to make some money, my dad took me to his company credit union to open an account. I gave him money each time I got paid which he deposited into that account. When I turned fifteen, I had enough money to buy my first car. He helped me see past the bubble gum and movie tickets to my ultimate goal (though years away) of getting a car.

Are you making deposits for your spiritual future? Or are you spending every blessing you receive as fast as it is received. We need to examine every decision we make with eternal eyes. How do our decisions affect our eternity and the eternity of others? That’s a heavy question, but one we need to ask ourselves.

Father, You are so good to give me exactly what I need when I need it. Teach me to see all things eternally and to let go of my own selfish desires. Pleasing You is so much more important than pleasing myself or others.

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