Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Faith, Labor, Obedience, Parenting, Patience

FARM LIFE

2 TIMOTHY 2:6 

The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. 

I didn’t grow up on a farm, but my hometown was an agricultural based economy. Farmers around my community depended on local businesses and banks to extend the credit to plant their crops each year. The local businesses and banks depended on the farmers for their business. One really couldn’t exist without the other. I’ve seen my hometown struggle without the big farms over the last few decades. 

So, when I read this verse, I understood exactly what Paul was saying. A farmer depended on his crops for three things. He had to feed his family. He had to have seed for next year. And he had to sell the crops to pay back his debt. But I also know those farmers depended on the Lord to grow their crops. They knew He was the one who provided the rain and nutrients for their success. 

APPLICATION 

How do you apply this verse to your children? Well, look at the verse again. Paul is telling us that labor precedes reward. The farmer has to plant, tend to and harvest his crops before he can enjoy the fruits of his labor. That’s a lesson worth teaching our children. So many kids expect reward before labor.  

That’s why I believe children should have chores at home. Some chores are just part of being in the family. Cleaning their room, helping with the dishes and taking out the trash do not have to be rewarded with allowance. Now, that’s your call. But going beyond the everyday stuff should be rewarded. How much is also your call. They will learn that labor comes before reward. 

Do you expect something for nothing? Do you enjoy your labor as well as the fruits of your labor? I believe it was Mark Twain who said if you love what you do for a living, you will never work a day in your life. If you labor as unto the Lord, you will love the opportunity the Lord has given you to provide for yourself and your family. Dedicate your “crops” to the Lord today. 

Lord, You are the one who blesses my labor. I will give You today my hands and feet with which I labor. Make them strong so that I can be a blessing to those who depend on me. 

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Crowns, Encouragement, Obedience, Parenting, Victors

CROWNED

2 TIMOTHY 2:5 

Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. 

I have a niece named Stephanie. Her name comes from the Greek word here for “win the prize.” You could translate that phrase as “he is not crowned the victor.” By the way, Stephanie wears her crown well. She lives to please the Lord and has a great ministry with her husband who is a pastor. 

In the Greek culture, athletes were crowned with a wreath to signify they were the victor. But just like this verse said, they had to compete according to the rules. If they cheated, it didn’t count. It still doesn’t. We must compete (follow the Lord’s commands) according to the rule. 

APPLICATION 

Rules, rules, rules! I know most kids hate them. But rules are meant to be followed, not broken. If you want your children to be victors in life, teach them now to compete according to the rules. God honors rule followers, not rule breakers. 

Now wait, it’s not about the rules. It’s about following the rule maker. He establishes rules to guide us safely, not handcuff us. That is so important to teach your kids. Rules are their safety net. Don’t touch hot things is a good rule. Don’t play in the street – another good one. God’s commands are the same. They are there to protect and guide. Teach your child to trust them – no, trust Him. 

Are you a rule breaker? You see a rule and try to figure out a way to work around it. Really? Or maybe you are such a ruler follower that you forget about the rule maker. NO! He is the reason. He wants to crown you victor! 

Father, You are the one who shows me how to run the race well. I want to be obedient, not so much for the crown, but to pleas You. I lay any crowns I receive at Your feet. 

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Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Direction, Eternity, God's Will, Obedience, Parenting, Service, Soldiers

ENLISTED

2 TIMOTHY 2:4 

No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. 

In the United States we have a 100% volunteer military. Gone are the days of forced enlistment. You probably know someone who was drafted into the military. But that doesn’t happen now. You have to enlist yourself.  

The phrase “enlisted him as a soldier” is one Greek word that is only used here in 2 Timothy. It literally means to choose an army. God chooses us, but just like the “no draft” policy of the United States military, He doesn’t force us. We have to sign ourselves up. That’s why Paul is warning us to not get entangled with useless stuff. We have a higher calling – to serve our Lord. 

APPLICATION 

Kids love to choose sides in a game. There are captains chosen, and then they proceed to pick sides. Your child may be the captain, the first pick or the last. That may seem trivial to you, but it’s not to them. Getting picked last can be devastating for a child. Has your child ever come home in tears because of that?  

Here’s a chance to impart God’s Word to them. Read today’s verse to them. Show them God doesn’t have “last picks.” Everyone He chooses is His first pick. We are all in His army. Worrying about getting picked last is one of those everyday entanglements Paul is warning against. It has no eternal value. In fact, it’s just the opposite. It is a meaningless distraction. 

How do you handle not getting picked first? Is peer recognition more important to you than acknowledging God’s enlistment? Rest in the fact that the Lord has chosen you. He loves you and wants to use you to advance His kingdom. Will you be careful to stay untangled? Stay free of temporal distractions and be prepared to “soldier up.” 

Lord, I am amazed that You chose me! I only deserve condemnation, but through the blood of Jesus I am set free to serve You. 

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Bible, Bosses, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Grace, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Scripture, Soldiers, Surrender

SOLDIER FOR CHRIST

2 TIMOTHY 2:3 

Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 

The Greek word for “soldier” is used twenty times in the New Testament, each time referring to a Roman soldier except in today’s verse. This is the only time the word is used to describe a soldier for Christ. I think that is pretty important. Unlike other soldiers who are taught to kill and destroy the enemy, the soldier of Christ is told to “suffer hardship.” Hmmm. 

Soldiering is hard. Being a Christian soldier is no different. We are called to follow orders. Whose orders? Of our Commander and Chief, Jesus Christ. A soldier responds without questioning the orders. If He says do it, we do it. It’s that simple. 

APPLICATION 

Let me ask you something, Mom and Dad. Do you expect your children to follow your directions? Or do you let them decide how to run their own lives? If you expect obedience and they don’t respond correctly, what happens? There are consequences, right? As there should be. 

Teaching our children to follow our directions and guidance is important not just because they are under our authority. We are teaching them this principle for life. Submission to authority is key to life. Those children who do not learn this at an early age will struggle with those God places over them in authority. Soldiering is hard, remember? 

Do you have your soldier boots on? Are you ready to march wherever the Lord leads? Or are you questioning His commands? We all want to enlist in the army of Christ, but most of us don’t want to follow His commands. We will read His Word and ignore the passages we don’t like. Just obey. He will never lead you where His grace cannot cover you. 

You are my Commander in Chief. I will follow wherever You lead. I am ready to suffer with You. 

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Family, Friends, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Passion, Scripture, Witnessing

GENERATIONS

2 TIMOTHY 2:2 

The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 

I’ve got a picture somewhere of five generations of my family. The picture includes my great grandmother Butler, my grandmother Willis, my dad, myself and my son. That’s rare today. I need to find that picture, lol. I am blessed to say that all five generations knew or know Jesus as their personal Savior. 

Today’s verse talks about generations. This verse means a lot to me. In fact, it’s my passion. Discipling other men is what drives me. It obviously was to Paul too. What you see here is Paul telling Timothy to keep passing the torch. Paul had mentored Timothy, and now he tells him to find faithful men to mentor himself who will also mentor others. Four generations of spiritual reproduction! 

APPLICATION 

Our children are the key to this generational hand off. If we do not teach our children the Word of God and instill in them the necessity to train their children, then the torch gets extinguished. The church is always only one generation away from extinction. Each successive generation must embrace and pass on their faith. 

Now I know God is bigger than us, but He still uses people to accomplish His will on earth. Don’t you want your children to be a part of His plan to reach all mankind with the Gospel? Well, it starts with you and then your children. They have to teach their children who will teach their children. Pass it along. 

Whom are you discipling or mentoring today? No one? Listen, dear brother and sister, you have to begin. God has given you the greatest gift. You must pass it on. Find someone you can invest in for eternity. There is no higher calling. 

Thank You, Lord, for sending people into my life to mentor me. Help me be as attentive to others around me who need to be mentored. 

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Family, Grace, Parenting

BE STRONG

2 TIMOTHY 2:1 

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 

One of the more familiar verses that uses the Greek word for “be strong” is Philippians 4:13. Do you know that verse? “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Today’s verse doesn’t say the exact same thing, but it’s pretty close. Paul knows the source of strength lies with Christ. He is the only one who can strengthen us for the journey of faith. 

The Greek word here means to impart ability, to empower. The interesting thing about the word is it ends in –ooBig deal, right? Well, it kind of is. That places the emphasis on the result of the action of this verb rather than on the action itself. Don’t you love the results? The result of Christ’s strengthening us is we have the ability to do whatever He asks us. 

APPLICATION 

Suppose your child really has been wanting that new video game. It’s one you can approve of and you love your child, so you give them the money. That gift empowers them to buy it. The result of the gift is the ability to purchase. That’s not a perfect analogy, but you get the picture. 

We want our children to understand that the power of Christ is available to us. He strengthens us so we can honor Him. He strengthens us so we can empower others. He strengthens us so we can walk this walk of faith confidently.  

Do you feel strong? If you are relying on another source of strength, you had better stop. It will not sustain you. It can’t. It’s not eternal. Only Jesus can sustain you. Only His empowering can give you exactly what you need to live each day. Be strong, my brother. Be strong, my sister. 

I thank You, Lord, for strengthening me for the journey. I want to stay tapped into Your power and might. I know You empower me for a purpose. 

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Glory, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Scripture, Service

WAITING TABLES

2 TIMOTHY 1:18 

the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day—and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus. 

Onesiphorus was a servant. How do I know that? By this verse. Paul continues to describe this saint by reminding Timothy how Onesiphorus served so willingly in Ephesus. The phrase “services he rendered” is one Greek word that literally means to wait tables. And the form of the verb means he did this himself. He wasn’t forced to do it.  

Whom are you willing to serve? Do you pick and choose whom you will serve so that they notice? That’s not what Paul is describing here. True service is serving for the joy of serving. When you willingly serve, you do it for the joy of the Lord. After all, it is He who gets all the glory for it. 

APPLICATION 

Okay, I have to let you off the hook today (kind of). You can’t teach this kind of service to your kids. You can’t make them want to serve. That comes from within. However, you can model this behavior for them with the hopes they will want to do it. True service is a heart thing. The desire only comes after encountering the King of kings and Lord of lords. 

Oh, the joy of watching our children serve. You can always tell when they are doing it out of love. The smile gives it away. When your child sees you smiling as you serve, they notice that. You can be doing the most mundane thing, but when you do it willingly and sacrificially, you can’t help but smile. 

Has the Lord burdened your heart to serve? Perhaps He has asked you a hard one. The person He is directing you to serve is someone you don’t like. That really doesn’t matter. Do it any way. God is the one you are honoring. He is the one who will get all the glory.  

I may not want to serve today, but Lord I choose to serve because of Your love for me. I choose to serve in order to show others. I choose to serve to honor You. 

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