This week’s devo is a little different than most. It is a bit of a personal testimony and a challenge to youth and parents.
In my devotional time, it’s time for me to read through the precious book of Proverbs again and I was reminded of how much this book affected my life and how much I cherish it. I wasn’t introduced to Proverbs until about 20 years old but after living life my way for more than long enough, this book became like a father’s wise instruction to me, and I cherished it more than gold! This book told me things no one else would (that I was making foolish decisions) and it did so without flinching. I needed that at the time!
Proverbs is like fatherly wisdom because well, that’s the way it is written – from Solomon to his children. His children are to learn it and heed it. The opening verses read:
“The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: For learning wisdom and discipline; for understanding insightful sayings; for receiving prudent instruction in righteousness, justice, and integrity; for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced, knowledge and discretion to a young man – let a wise person listen and increase learning, and let a discerning person obtain guidance.”
Solomon’s proverbs changed my life drastically and liberated me from many of the self-destructive decisions I was making by following the ways of the world. My life was a wreck! Would that every young man or woman be fully acquainted with the book of Proverbs and heed its ancient wisdom! As the song goes, they are, “Ancient words, ever true; changing me, changing you.” These ancient and inspired words of wisdom would prevent so much unnecessary pain and heartache and frustration in life for whoever reads them and applies them.
If you’re a young man or woman, I want to challenge you to read Proverbs through and habitually read it throughout your life. It has wisdom for many practical topics such as finances, marriage and relationships, child rearing, use of the tongue, work, etc. As young men and women connected to the internet, there is more information at your fingertips that one can fathom. But what we need is not more information. We need more wisdom. We would be better off with just 31 short chapters on wisdom than with the majority of the information out there. If we spent a fraction of the time reading Proverbs (with the intention of applying it) that we spend reading useless, mind-numbing junk on the internet, this world would be much more pleasant place to live and our lives would be much happier! Happiness belongs to the wise (Prov. 8:32, 34).
Now let’s look at Proverbs from Solomon’s perspective: as a parent. I want to remind you and me that God has entrusted us with His precious gifts – our children. And the one main target He has given us to aim at is to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 5:4). I know this is probably hard to take coming from a young parent but I’m going to say this with love (I really care about this) and say it without flinching because it is based on the authority of God’s Word (not my word): if you fail to bring up your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, you fail as a parent. You can do a hundred other things right, but to not do that, is missing the target.
What they do with the instruction and training in God’s Word when they grow up and move out, is their choice. But while they are in the home, our objective target is clear: we are to make sure they are developing the spiritual component of their lives which superintends everything else they will do and be in life. If you do that, God says, “Well done!” If you aren’t doing that, start now. If you didn’t do that when you had the chance, start taking opportune moments to influence your adult kids or even as grandparents. Remember this:
The home, not school or government, is the first
and primary social institution established by God.
Parents, not missionaries or AWANA volunteers,
are the primary disciple-makers of the next generation.
God’s plan for multi-generational faithfulness is
the family, not a youth pastor.
Most parents will fail to hit the target of developing their children’s spiritual component because they are too busy trying to make their child happy and successful according to the world’s standards. Rather than living with the target in mind, our kids are in school most of the day learning just about anything but spiritual truth. Then they go to sports practice. Then maybe to work if they are old enough. Then dinner and homework. What’s left? Probably a little vegetation on the couch. Before you know it, they’ve left the nest and we’ll be answering to God for how we failed to redeem the time.
I leave youth and parents with a fun exercise that I myself was once challenged with in my “Christian Family” class at Bible school: Open up the book of Proverbs and slowly read it through. When a proverb teaches on child rearing, go ahead and mark a little “CR” beside that proverb in the margin. Where it talks about finances, mark an “F”. Mark a “T” beside any proverb that deals with use of the tongue. Those are three major topics that come up often both in Proverbs and in life itself. I trust this exercise will prove to be a fast and easy guide for you later when you want wisdom on those topics. Also, below I included those helpful resources for biblical parenting that we put together earlier this year:
Suggested Parenting Resources to “Help You Hit the Target”:
Biblical Parenting by Chuck Swindoll
(sermon series available online)
Parenting: From Surviving to Thriving by Chuck Swindoll
(book for parents)
Heaven Help the Home! By Howard Hendricks
(any family-related material by Hendricks)
The Art of Parenting by Dennis Rainey/Family Life Today
Raising Worldly-Wise But Innocent Kids by Dave Wyrtzen
(book for parents)
The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers by Tyndale Publishers
(devotional for young children)
The One Year Book of Family Devotions by Tyndale Publishers
(devotional for older children)
Devotions for the Children’s Hour by Kenneth Taylor
(basic doctrine for children)
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Zonderkidz
Read with Me Bible by Zondervan
Family Life Today programs with Bob Lepine & Dennis Rainey talks
(podcast & radio)
Parenting by Tedd Tripp
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Paul Tripp
Enjoy your day! It is a gift! And so are your children!
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