Document 61614

Selected Scriptures
In this lesson we affirm the two foundation
stones necessary for building strong families.
Not everyone in this world who is raising children is a Christian.
So where are they getting their ideas and principles? There are
many sources available. But it makes the most sense to build
families based on the principles of the Designer—and then to
consult Him daily along the way.
I. God’s Word: The First Foundation Stone
A. The First Step
B. A Positive Word of Instruction
C. Protect Your Family from Destructive Influences
II. Prayer: The Second Foundation Stone
Building on a Solid Foundation • 33
have a confession to make: I am not very good when it comes to
reading instruction manuals. When I got a new cell phone, I only
wanted to know how to turn it on, how to make a call, and how
to receive a call. I’m sure there are many enjoyable features that I
am missing because I haven’t taken time to read the manual.
When the VCR first came on the scene years ago, peoples’ inability to program them became a standing joke in the industry. People
could insert a VHS tape to watch a movie, but they couldn’t program the VCR to record something off the TV. Why? Because they
didn’t take time to read the manual. (Okay, the manuals at that
time were extremely complicated, but you get the idea.)
When it comes to the family and raising children, there is an
instruction manual for everyone who will take time to read it: God’s
Word, the Bible. The family is God’s idea, not man’s, yet man makes
up rules and standards by which the family should operate—and
often fails in the process. It makes sense that the “manufacturer” of
any “product” is the one who knows the most about it and should
write the “instruction manual” for how to get the most out of it. In
this study guide, God is the manufacturer, the family and children
are the products, and the instruction manual is the Bible. Scripture
is the foundation that must be laid in order to raise children who
grow up loving God.
The Bible is a miraculous book: written over a period of 1,600
years by forty authors from all different backgrounds, all of whose
words support consistent themes throughout. And that is true not
only with regard to the person of God and His plan of redemption
but the most practical matters as well—like raising children.
Think about compiling a medical textbook over the same period
of time, written by different physicians in different languages from
different cultures. And then imagine trying to use that textbook to
find wholly consistent answers for treating modern illnesses. It
would be impossible! Yet the Bible is just as applicable today as in
the days when each of its parts was written. There is no contradiction or reinterpretation.
That’s the difference between a book written by men and a book
that comes from God, delivered through human authors. The Bible
34 • Hopeful Parenting
is a miraculous book, meaning it transcends human nature—goes
beyond something man could create or accomplish on his own. As
Paul told young Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of
God” (2 Timothy 3:16). Because the Bible is from God, it is completely trustworthy. It is able to teach, to reprove, to correct, and
to instruct in matters leading to righteousness. Righteousness, of
course, is what leads to intimacy with God and ultimately to success in life.
What parent does not want to be successful when raising
children? Scripture is the only infallible source of doctrine and
instruction for that endeavor. God invented families and has written the manual on how children are to be raised. And that’s the
point of Paul’s words to Timothy in verse 17: “That the man of
God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
If there’s anybody who needs equipping for a challenging task, it’s
parents! And the Word of God is the source for all that we need.
The word “equipped” means “to fit; to make ready”—like a
seagoing vessel preparing for a voyage. Think of all the preparations needed in order for that voyage to be safe and successful.
Those responsible would take every step to make sure the ship
was fully prepared to sail. Just so, God has taken every step,
through the Word, to make sure that parents are “thoroughly
equipped” for the good work of parenting.
Seen from another angle, parents have the responsibility to
“thoroughly equip” their children for a life of intimacy with Christ.
And the Bible is the source from which they must draw principles
and instruction for their own children who are setting out on a lifetime voyage. Parents must act quickly and diligently—childhood
is over before we realize it. Once the ship has sailed, it is too late to
stock it with provisions.
There are many resources available for parents, but the Bible is
the chief among them. It is the resource that will make the greatest
difference in the lives of parents and children.
The First Step
Step one in raising children on a biblical foundation is to put
God at the center of all you do. Psalm 127:1 puts it this way: “Unless
the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” There
is only one builder in the home, and that builder is God himself.
To build with anyone or anything else at the center would be to
build in vain. God is the architect, but He is also the builder.
Building on a Solid Foundation • 35
For God to be at the center of the home requires knowing Him
through His Son, Jesus Christ. It’s impossible to put God at the
center of the home without first establishing a relationship with
Him through Christ. Even among Christians who know the Lord,
I have seen God get pushed to the periphery of the family’s life
over time. Couples will start out strong, committed to raising the
children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4),
and then gradually lose that vision. Whereas He was the hub when
they started, five or ten years later they find He is on the rim of the
wheel instead of at the center.
Do children know when God is central instead of being just an
accessory in the home? Absolutely! Parents may think they are
fooling their children, but they are not. When God is only acknowledged on Sunday and on Christian holidays, children grow up
viewing him as a distant relative—important but not relevant
to day-to-day living. It should come as no surprise when those
children treat God the same way in their own adult lives.
When God is at the center of our family, it doesn’t mean we
become “religious,” walking around with pious looks on our faces.
Rather, it means we have a living, breathing relationship with the
God who is the source of joy, life, energy, excitement, and security
in life. Our daily decisions are laid before Him where we seek His
counsel and guidance. And we submit all that we are and have to
Him for His honor and glory. It is a lifestyle, not a religious exercise.
A Positive Word of Instruction
Proverbs 22:6—“Train up a child in the way he should go, and
when he is old he will not depart from it”—is a verse that is wellknown but, in my estimation, often misunderstood. Understanding
it correctly will provide parents with a wise word of instruction for
raising their children in the Lord.
That verse did not provide much comfort to me for many
years. It appeared to be predicting that children will ignore their
parents’ teaching and training for most of their life and then return
to it at some point before they (or their parents!) die. That was not
the kind of encouragement I needed as a young parent. I wanted
my children to flourish and love the Lord all through their lives,
not just near the end.
There are two key parts of this verse: training and the child’s
“way.” Understanding both are critical to a proper interpretation
of this verse.
36 • Hopeful Parenting
Too many parents think of the military when they think of
training. They think its necessary to have strict spiritual training
regimens for their kids in order to conform them to some image
of spirituality that the parents think is appropriate. But that is not
what the verse means. The word “train” comes from a word used
by Hebrew midwives to induce a newborn to begin sucking at its
mother’s breast. The midwife would put the sweet juice of a date
on her finger and rub it on the newborn’s palate, which would
cause the infant to begin sucking, seeking more of the sweet taste
of the juice.
Therefore, spiritually speaking, our job is to create a hunger for
the things of God in our children’s lives. We give them a taste of the
pleasure and benefits of knowing God so they will want to know
Him as well. The “my way or the highway” perspective on training creates resistance, not desire, in children. There is nothing
wrong with rules and standards for children, of course. But the
goal is to create a hunger for God, not to force rules upon children
in the name of “training.”
When my wife and I started our family, being in full-time pastoral ministry, we decided that we were going to do whatever we
could to show our kids that knowing the Lord and serving Him
was the most exciting thing anyone could do in life. I wanted them
to know that I was doing with my life what I considered the most
valuable and exciting possible thing: serving God. That wouldn’t
mean that all of our children would be expected to go into fulltime ministry. But it did mean that, whatever their calling, they
would learn what it meant to keep God at the center of it.
The child’s “way” is also important. Many interpreters suggest
that “the way he should go” refers to a general moral and spiritual
way that all children should take. But I believe it refers to a child’s
individual, unique way. Every child is different. While there is a
spiritual path that is the same for all, how children get on that path
will be different for each one. My wife and I raised four children,
no two of whom were alike. We “trained” them all differently
according to their temperaments and personalities.
Every child is a unique treasure—God’s creative design for
each one. A parent’s job is to unlock and draw out that treasure,
helping each child to taste and see that God is good (Psalm 34:8).
When a child discovers that God is good at a young age, “when he
is old he will not depart from [that way].”
Building on a Solid Foundation • 37
Protect Your Family from
Destructive Influences
Not only is it the Lord who builds the house, it is the Lord
who guards it. Every parent wants to protect his child from
spiritual and physical harm, but there is no power of protection
available like the power of God. Because all evil in the world is
ultimately of a spiritual nature, it takes spiritual power to counteract it. And only God the Spirit can counterattack the evil one who
would seek to harm our children (1 John 3:8; 5:19).
We have said that the first foundation stone in building a
strong home is the Word of God; the second is prayer.
There have been times in the raising of my children when I
realized that, outside the promises of the Word, prayer was my
only resource. You do everything you know to do as a parent for
your child and ultimately end up in the presence of God on your
knees. Regardless of where your children are, as they get older and
go off to college or careers, you can still impact their lives by praying for them. There is no place on this earth that God is not able to
reach your children and minister to them as a result of your prayers.
Prayer is an ongoing conversation with God that lasts a lifetime. When our children are toddlers and teenagers, the intensity
of our prayers probably increases dramatically—but it never stops.
I can remember days when I would wake up praying and not stop
all day, regardless of what I was doing. When your children are
hurting and you are powerless to help them yourself, calling out
to God is your offensive and defensive weapon.
Our culture is built on information, and it’s easy to fall into the
trap of reading books, listening to tapes, going to seminars, and
getting godly advice instead of praying. All those efforts are worthwhile, but not at the expense of prayer. We should learn as much
as we can and then pray for the ability to apply it—and pray for
God to show us what we still don’t know.
God is able! I once went through my Bible and marked all the
places I could find where the text says, “God is able”—and there
are many uses of that phrase and similar ones. God was able to
save Daniel’s three friends from a fiery furnace (Daniel 3) and
Daniel himself from hungry lions (Daniel 6). God was able to give
38 • Hopeful Parenting
ninety-year-old Sara a baby boy (Genesis 21). God is able to give
his followers all they need (2 Corinthians 9:8) and to save those
who come to Him through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7). And God is
even able to do more than we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).
Regardless of what you may be going through in your family
or with your children, it is no more intense or life-threatening than
what many in Scripture went through. As God was able to help
them, so is He able to help you.
Here are some things you can pray for your children even in
times when they are not in the middle of a crisis—just ongoing
issues important to any parent or child that are worthy of prayer.
I have summarized these items from a list originally set forth by
author Patrick Morley.
• Pray for your children to become Christians if they haven’t
already. On the day you discover you have conceived a
child, begin praying for him or her to be saved.
• Pray that their faith will mature—that they will grow
in grace.
• Pray for an independent faith, especially in their high school
and college years.
• Pray that they will be sound and healthy in body, soul,
and spirit.
• Pray that they will develop a sense of purpose and destiny
in life.
• Pray for them to hunger for integrity and excellence in
their life.
• Pray that they will hunger to know God; that they will set
aside time for Him.
• Pray for them to acquire wisdom.
• Pray for their protection against the moral evils of this world.
Those are just a few of the long-term prayers we can pray for
our children that may significantly change their lives. You will
think of others as you begin to pray for your own children.
Two foundation stones anchor every home that is committed
to raising children who love God: the Word of God and prayer.
I encourage you to make both of them the foundation of your
family—and do it today.
Building on a Solid Foundation • 39
1. Read 2 Timothy 3:16–17.
a. How much of Scripture did God inspire? (verse 16)
b. How should that inspire a parent’s confidence when it comes
to biblical material concerning the family?
c. How would you use the word “profitable” to apply
biblical truth about the family? What kind of “profit”
should you expect?
d. Give an example of “doctrine” that applies to the family?
(verse 16)
e. How do parents or families need to be “reproved”? (verse 16)
f. Give an example of how you have been “corrected” as a
parent or family member by the Word of God. (verse 16)
g. In what ways do families need to be “instructed in
righteousness”? Describe an “unrighteous” family. (verse 16)
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h. List five ways the Bible can “thoroughly equip” any person
to be a better parent. (verse 17)
i. How has the Bible benefited you as a parent or
family member?
2. Why does the family, and especially children, need protection?
(1 John 5:19)
a. Why is God the best defense against spiritual attack?
(1 John 3:8)
b. What kinds of “wiles” (schemes) do you imagine the devil
plots against the family? (Ephesians 6:11)
c. What kinds of weapons are necessary to win spiritual
battles? (2 Corinthians 10:3–5)
d. What is the only source of defense against spiritual battles in
the family? (Ephesians 6:10–18)
Building on a Solid Foundation • 41
3. Review Psalm 91 and identify at least three “defensive”
promises that you can apply to your experience as a
parent or family member.
4. What kinds of things would you like God to show you about
your family or parenting experience? What does Jeremiah 33:3
tell you to do?
a. What assurance do you have from Jesus about His
willingness to help you in your family? (John 15:7)
b. What does James 5:16 tell you about your prayers for
your family?
c. What is God able to do for your family? (Ephesians 3:20)
hen Paul says that “all Scripture is inspired by God”
(2 Timothy 3:16), he uses a Greek word that occurs only
once in the New Testament: theopneustos. Literally, the
word is translated “God-breathed.” It comes from two words: theos
(God) and pneo (to blow). The apostle Peter provides the best picture
of how the wind of God resulted in the Scriptures being written:
“Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy
Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21 NIV). “Carried” is a passive verb, meaning
God was acting upon those who spoke and wrote for Him.
42 • Hopeful Parenting
Parenting is far from easy. From first steps to
first dates, parenthood is filled with unique
challenges. Yet there is no greater joy than
nurturing one of God's most precious gifts.
New York Times best-selling author David
Jeremiah presents a heartwarming look at
adventures in parenting. Drawing from his own
rich journey through fatherhood, Pastor
Jeremiah shares wit and wisdom on raising
children in an unpredictable world. Each
insightful chapter features timeless truths from
God's Word, offering encouragement for the
road ahead. Be refreshed. Be challenged. Be
inspired to build a rich and deep legacy of faith
for your family.