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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Monday, December 18, 2006

God's Plan for Parenting - Part 3

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Ephesians 6:4
And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

Daily Scripture Reading - Deuteronomy 6

Puritan Catechism
Question #49 - Which is the fourth commandment?

Answer - The fourth commandment is, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it" (Ex 20:8-11).

Devotional Thoughts
God has created us as male and female. Why? Part of the answer is that God has created us so that we might have a lifetime partnership through marriage and a lineage through parenting. We have seen in the last few devotionals that God has a purpose for children and that He has a plan for parenting. Our last two devotionals have focused on Proverbs 22:6 which tell us, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Today we will continue that study and add to it Ephesians 6:4, "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord."

We train up a child in the way he should go by being sensitive and discerning, recognizing God’s call, gifts, and talents in the life of our children. Picking up where we left off last time we will examine a few specific steps for training our children in the way they should go. Remember, we all need to be trained! We all need to be taught. And we all need to know the difference between right and wrong. This absolute truth brings us to our need for a Savior, because without Him we cannot do what is right and will only do what is wrong, bringing shame upon our family and our lives.

How then do we train up our children in the way they should go? Simply put, we TRAIN them. We can use the word itself to serve as an outline to remind us and teach us how to do what we have been commanded to do. Let us see then what each letter in the word TRAIN stands for as we apply God's Plan for Parenting.

So far we have seen that the T stands for Train - that is, it is God's plan for parents to disciple their children. This involves mentoring, guiding, teaching, and instructing them. The R we saw stands for Restrain, wherein is the responsibility of every parent to restrain their children from evil! This speaks of discipline - not punishment, but instruction for right living and correction for sinful actions and attitudes.

Now we will see what the A, I, and N stand for as we train our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

A

The A tells us that we should Admonish our children in the Lord. The word means to encourage. Often we think of encouragement as attempting to make someone feel good or regain a proper perspective after a let down. But the word actually means to warn, instruct, and counsel.

We warn about the danger of sin. We instruct in how to avoid sin. And we counsel so that our children are wise when it comes to knowing the difference between good and evil. This is critical, because many parents and many Christians think that in order to know that something is wrong we must have all the dirty details. In reality though all our children need to know to recognize evil and sin is the truth! If they are familiar with the truth then they will recognize the lie.

Do we admonish one another in the church and in the home? Do we even know how?? It is a command you know. We admonish even in the corporate worship of the church. Colossians 3:16 says, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." So if we do not know what it is to admonish one another then we must deal with the hard truth that we do not know how to worship God!!

Part of teaching in the home and the church is that the older are to admonish the younger - to encourage and instruct them in holy living, to teach them their duties and respective God given roles. We must teach our boys how to be godly men and we must teach our girls how to be godly women. Being holy and being mature in godliness does not just happen - it is taught. And this is part of God's plan for parenting.

I

The I in TRAIN stands for a word that we have already used quite a bit to describe the role of parents - it is that we Instruct in Righteousness, that is we teach our children how to be right with God. Have you considered that your primary mission field on this earth is your own family? Do your children know Jesus Christ? Are they growing in grace and being discipled by you so that they might follow after, love, and obey our Savior?

To understand how it is that we are to instruct our children we need to look at the tool for instruction that we have been given. The tool is or should be rather obvious - it is the Word of God. 2 Tim 3:16-17 tells us, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." Do we approach parenting as if the desired end result was that our children were mature and equipped for good works done in obedience to God? Too often our goal is outward conformity to societal standards. But God is more concerned about the heart! And it is our task as parents to teach our children not just how to act, but how to BE. And the Word of God is the inspired and all sufficient tool that He has given us to teach our children how to live and be godly.

We must also pause here to note that it is the clear teaching of Scripture that parents are primarily responsible for the teaching of their children - in all areas of life! While we may assign part of that duty to schools and teachers, we must never lose sight of the fact that God will hold us accountable for what our children are taught. This means more than that we should be involved and aware of what our children are learning - it means we are called and equipped by God to be their primary teachers. This is God's plan for parenting. Parents are the teachers and children are their students.

Consider these verses, as they need no comment:

“Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you—‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’ “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. - Deut 6:1-8

Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren, especially concerning the day you stood before the LORD your God in Horeb, when the LORD said to me, ‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’ - Deut 4:9-10

“Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth. - Deut 11:18-21

To be clear here, God has assigned parents to be the teachers of their children – Prov 1:8; Eph 6:4; Prov 22:6 - and God’s program for education is discipleship - Deut 6:5-7.

N

To conclude here then we see that the N represents Nurture. This is tender care as we serve as Guardians for our children. Nurture is not hard to understand but it is difficult to implement! Too often we parent with an attitude of superiority, even thinking condescending thoughts toward our children. They are after all needy, and we cannot pursue self gratification and be good parents both at the same time!

Perhaps the best I have even read on this topic is by JC Ryle in his message, "The Duties of Parents (linked in its entirety below). Point #13 deals with nurture. Here is what he says:

Train them remembering continually how God trains His children.

The Bible tells us that God has an elect people, — a family in this world. All poor sinners who have been convinced of sin, and fled to Jesus for peace, make up that family. All of us who really believe on Christ for salvation are its members. Now God the Father is ever training the members of this family for their everlasting abode with Him in heaven. He acts as a husbandman pruning his vines, that they may bear more fruit. He knows the character of each of us, — our besetting sins, — our weaknesses, — our peculiar infirmities, — our special wants. He knows our works and where we dwell, who are our companions in life, and what are our trials, what our temptations, and what are our privileges. He knows all these things, and is ever ordering all for our good. He allots to each of us, in His providence, the very things we need, in order to bear the most fruit, — as much of sunshine as we can stand, and as much of rain, — as much of bitter things as we can bear, and as much of sweet. Reader, if you would train your children wisely, mark well how God the Father trains His. He doeth all things well; the plan which He adopts must be right.

See, then, how many things there are which God withholds from His children. Few could be found, I suspect, among them who have not had desires which He has never been pleased to fulfill. There has often been some one thing they wanted to attain, and yet there has always been some barrier to prevent attainment. It has been just as if God was placing it above our reach, and saying, "This is not good for you; this must not be." Moses desired exceedingly to cross over Jordan, and see the goodly land of promise; but you will remember his desire was never granted.

See, too, how often God leads His people by ways which seem dark and mysterious to our eyes. We cannot see the meaning of all His dealings with us; we cannot see the reasonableness of the path in which our feet are treading. Sometimes so many trials have assailed us, — so many difficulties encompassed us, — that we have not been able to discover the needs-be of it all. It has been just as if our Father was taking us by the hand into a dark place and saying, "Ask no questions, but follow Me." There was a direct road from Egypt to Canaan, yet Israel was not led into it; but round, through the wilderness. And this seemed hard at the time. "The soul of the people," we are told, "was much discouraged because of the way" (Exod. 13:17; Num. 21:4).

See, also, how often God chastens His people with trial and affliction. He sends them crosses and disappointments; He lays them low with sickness; He strips them of property and friends; He changes them from one position to another; He visits them with things most hard to flesh and blood; and some of us have well- nigh fainted under the burdens laid upon us. We have felt pressed beyond strength, and have been almost ready to murmur at the hand which chastened us. Paul the Apostle had a thorn in the flesh appointed him, some bitter bodily trial, no doubt, though we know not exactly what it was. But this we know, — he besought the Lord thrice that it might be removed; yet it was not taken away (2 Cor. 12:8,9).

Now, reader, notwithstanding all these things, did you ever hear of a single child of God who thought his Father did not treat him wisely? No, I am sure you never did. God’s children would always tell you, in the long run, it was a blessed thing they did not have their own way, and that God had done far better for them than they could have done for themselves. Yes! And they could tell you, too, that God’s dealings had provided more happiness for them than they ever would have obtained themselves, and that His way, however dark at times, was the way of pleasantness and the path of peace.

I ask you to lay to heart the lesson which God’s dealings with His people is meant to teach you. Fear not to withhold from your child anything you think will do him harm, whatever his own wishes may be. This is God’s plan. Hesitate not to lay on him commands, of which he may not at present see the wisdom, and to guide him in ways which may not now seem reasonable to his mind. This is God’s plan.

Shrink not from chastising and correcting him whenever you see his soul’s health requires it, however painful it may be to your feelings; and remember medicines for the mind must not be rejected because they are bitter. This is God’s plan.

And be not afraid, above all, that such a plan of training will make your child unhappy. I warn you against this delusion. Depend on it, there is no surer road to unhappiness than always having our own way. To have our wills checked and denied is a blessed thing for us; it makes us value enjoyments when they come. To be indulged perpetually is the way to be made selfish; and selfish people and spoiled children, believe me, are seldom happy.

Reader, be not wiser than God; — train your children as He trains His.

Tomorrow then we will take a quick look in review at a few practical ways that we can carry out God's Plan for Parenting. Until then, remember that the best book on parenting ever written is the Book of Proverbs!

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

The Duties of Parents by JC Ryle
Come Ye Children by Charles Spurgeon

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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