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Discipling Your Children: A Hopeful Exhortation

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Introduction

2 Timothy 3:10–17 ESV
You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:14–17 ESV
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Family Discipleship and Expectation

Who is responsible?
Ephesians 6:4 ESV
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4
God calls parents to intentionally, regularly, and personally to fashion the character of their children and be used of him to shape their faith. Why? Parents have the most influential position and the most pervasive proximity to their children.
Charles Spurgeon, “To neglect the instruction of our offspring is worse than brutish. Family religion is necessary for the nation, for the family itself, and the for the church of God… Would that parents would awaken to a sense of the importance of this matter. It is a pleasant duty to talk of Jesus to our sons and daughters, and the more so because it has often proved to an accepted work, for God has saved children through the parent’s prayers and admonitions. May every house into which this volume shall come honor the Lord and receive his smile.”
When is this to be done?
Deuteronomy 6:4–9 ESV
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy
Ephesians 6:1–4 ESV
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
In what manner is this to be done?
Deuteronomy 4:
Deuteronomy 4:9 ESV
“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children—
The word diligently means to “watch yourselves closely”. We cannot take a haphazard approach to this responsibility.
Eighty-five percent of parents with children under the age of 13 believe they have the primary responsibility for teaching their children about religious beliefs and spiritual matters. However, a majority of parents don’t spend any time during the week discussing religious matters of studying religious materials with their children… Parents generally rely upon their church to do all the religious training their children will receive.
Response: Will you take up this God-given privilege and duty?

Family Discipleship and Example

This is the heart of family discipleship. You will not and cannot disciple your children to be followers of Jesus Christ if you are not a disciple of Jesus Christ yourself.
The Apostle Paul knew about the importance of example. He also knew the importance of a genuine example.
1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
Philippians 3:17 ESV
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
You are a Christian, a lover of God, and you are inviting your children to join you in this very same life.
You are displaying to your family the pattern of a godly life.
You are genuinely walking with God.
You are authentically repenting with you do not meet the mark.
You are continually seeking to grow.
Response: Seek afresh to dedicate yourself to the pursuit of God.
Philippians 3:13–14 ESV
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining 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-

Family Discipleship and Exposure

When we are talking about exposure, we are talking about exposure to God. This means the knowledge of God from the Scriptures that is applied to all of life. There are two aspects of exposure that we should consider. We are going to call these categories planned and providential.
Let’s think about planned. Planned exposure to God. These are times that are set one our calendar in which we teach our children about our God. Many people call this family worship. It is a little worship service for the family.
Though we do not have an exact command regarding this practice in the Scriptures, the practice of such is in absolutely harmony with the sense of the Scriptures regarding the family.
Don Whitney lists the components for family worship:
Read the Bible
Pray
Sing
If time permits:
Catechize
Memorize Scripture
Memorize Scripture
Read other Books
Read other Books
John Knox, “Brethren, ye are ordained of God to rule you own houses in his true fear, and according to his work…. And therefore, I say, ye must make them partakers in reading, exhorting, and in making common prayers, which I would in every house were used once a day at least.”
Providential exposure to God. This describes opportunities that arise which are not on your calendar, but are on God’s.
Let me give and example and then I will give you a verse. You are driving your child to the store, because you have to pick up a few items at the grocery store. Someone pulls out in front of you and you get
Deuteronomy 11:19 ESV
You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
1 Peter 3:15 ESV
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
In this verse, we see what a repetition of and we notice the phrase, “when you are walking by the way”. As we are walking through life, we should be aware of teachable moments. These moments are times that God blesses us with opportunity to teach our children something about the character of God, their sin, their need for Christ, how they can walk for Christ, beauty of what Christ has done for us, etc…
One such opportunity is when they disobey.
Proverbs 13:24 ESV
Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
Here, the Scriptures teach of corrective disciple with the application of the rod, but we should stop with the rod. There should be instruction about why the rod was used and what your child ultimately needs and prayer for God to meet that need.
Another opportunity is when your child asks a question about God or the Christ life. We should not dismiss them and tell them that they will learn about that later. We should realize that if they are asking, the time to start learning is now. If we cannot answer the question, we should seek the answer to the question from the Word of God.
Response: Begin today, continue today, increase today.

Family Discipleship and Experiences

In our culture, we are all rich compared to the rest of the world. The issue is not with being rich, but with how we use our riches. Though we need to be careful about what we are spending on ourselves, God does give good gifts to be enjoyed. One area I think about is times of entertainment or joy.
1 Timothy 6:17–19 ESV
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

In our culture, we are all rich compared to the rest of the world. The issue is not with being rich, but with how we use our riches. Though we need to be careful about what we are spending on ourselves, God does give good gifts to be enjoyed. One area I think about is times of entertainment or joy or recreation.

Family Discipleship and Experiences

We need to show our children how to have a good time in the Lord at birthday parties, holidays, playing sports, learning an instrument, getting a driver’s license, etc…
In short, we need to teach our children how to enjoy the gifts, but not forget the giver of those gifts.
We cannot embrace the Fallen world’s model, but we can enjoy the good gifts God gives us. We must teach our children how to enjoy the gifts and praise the Giver.
Response: Ask God for wisdom on how to lead your children to love God as the giver of good gifts.

Closing Thoughts

The principles found here can and should be applied even in home where there are no children.
2 Timothy 1:5 ESV
I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.
2 Timothy 1:5
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