Read 1 John 2:15-17
Well, I've turned down this road. I think thousands of times - the road that leads back here to Victory Academy. As I go down this road, sometimes I think about what I'm going down at for, going down at the minister to people, to bring the hope of the gospel to desperate situations. I'm also going to my house, which has my children in it. My family struggles with the same things that other families struggle with. First John talks about the trifecta of sin: the desires of our eyes, things that we see and want that the desires of our flesh, the things that make us comfortable and feel good and the pride of life, just that I am somebody. Those things draw upon us all. Each one of us struggles with that. I would say parents struggle with those three things. As much as kids struggle with those three things. I struggle with them. As much as my children, my wife and I need Christ. We need to live redemptively. We get hung up on our kids, the desires of their eyes or the desires of their flesh or whatever, as it plays out on whatever platform they put their eyes on and put their hearts on. But the reality is our need is for Christ to redeem us, to draw us, not just to the place where we're acceptable or we are able to enter heaven, but that we would live redemptively too. We need to learn how to live life successfully here, where we're called, not just to go to heaven, we're called to glorify God right here. And as parents, that means that we need to learn to seize every opportunity and to set every stage we can to parent redemptively to bring that hope of Christ to our children, because they're struggling with that trifecta of sin.
They know that they have struggles. They may not want to talk about them. They may not want to acknowledge them. They may want to hide them, but they also know that that their sin is having a consequence. It is having repercussions, if you would, on their own lives and those sins and those desires that are competing with the desire to love God, those things are, are deep. And we need to speak truth into that. We need to be looking for how we can open the scriptures, how we can take the scriptures and make those a part of our every day so that our kids are saturated with it. They're being saturated with everything else. They're being saturated with the world, trying to satisfy them, trying to draw them into the world. We need to be very adept, very proactive, very planned to bring the truths of God to bear on today on the temptations of the day.
How we do that? We've got to take the Word of God and make it a part of our own lives. Deuteronomy is so clear about that. In chapter six, we make it ours before we attempt to make it somebody else's. Before we diligently teach it to someone, we have to know it ourselves. You can't teach something. You don't know. I've tried. It doesn't work. We teach what we know and we've got to get past the yelling and screaming and the belittling and the aggravating and the catching and the policing. And we've got to get down to where we are actually taking the Word of God and delicately, deliberately sharing it with our children. We have to really model the two great commands. We have to love God ourselves. And we have to love our neighbor as ourselves because our children are trying to figure out how to do that. So as a parent, get into the Word yourself, memorize it, learn it, become a student of the Word so that as you become a student of your own child, you have something to offer them. You have a new love. You have something better for them to set their affections on that. They might grow up through the struggle, learning to love God with all their heart and learning to love other people like they love themselves. They might fulfill the purpose that God has for them. When they look in the rear view mirror, they can say, "wow, I've lived to honor and glorify God."
What a joy.
Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
2 Corinthians chapter one, verses three and four, say "Blessed, be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort, with which we ourselves are comforted by God." The passage here in second Corinthians talks about comfort. The God of all comfort, in fact. We enjoy fires. It's fun to sit around. It's kind of a relaxing time, comfortable. It's comfortable. In fact, a lot of times working with guys, we'll sit around a campfire and man, the stories come out and hearts are shared and because it's a comfortable, it's a safe, it's a safe place. It's a good place to just hang out and enjoy each other. And that's good to have times like that because life can be hard. We all go through difficulty. We all have challenges we face; we all sin, and we all get sinned against. There's guilt. There's shame. There's confusion. There's discouragement. There's despondency and just difficulty. The Bible uses the term afflictions. It says in here, this God of all comfort who comforts us in all our affliction, which I love the word all, because all means all.
It means even those things we don't understand, the things that are difficult, that we just can't wrap our minds around. Like logically: "Why, why would God even allow something like this to take place?" Those are things we have to wrap our minds around, or we get the wrong idea of who God is. God is the God of mercy. He's the God of mercy. And I like the term, the two terms that are even used for God here, God, himself, but also the Father. It's the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. It's like, as a dad, I want to be merciful. In fact, I'm so merciful sometimes that I think maybe it's overboard. You know, I want good things. I want easy things. I want happy things. This is the God, the Father of being merciful to us because we sin, because others sin against us, and because we have hard things. We are but dust and God recognizes that we are broken and the people all around us are broken. So we have things happen to us that are difficult. And yet right here, it's so refreshing and so awesome to understand that the one who comforts us in our affliction does so, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction. Again, I love that word. Any, any and all, great words because you can't really exempt any affliction.
You can't say "Oh, but, but you can't help me because you don't know." Well, of course, I don't know. I haven't been through what you've been through, but I have been through what I've been through and I've seen God comfort me and be merciful to me. I've seen Him call me whenever I was so such an enemy of His and yet He and His grace was merciful and comforted me. It says here, "the comfort that we may comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort, with which we ourselves are comforted by God." You know, that's just an amazing, awesome picture of a gracious, good God that, in the difficult things of life, He's merciful and He brings us comfort. That's one of the things that I really enjoy about being here in this place at Victory Family Ministries is that that we have an opportunity to help people that are going through tough things and help them see the hope of God. And that God is a God of all comfort, able to bring comfort to any affliction.
That's comfort. That's mercy. I have a God of mercy and a God of all comfort.
Read 2 Timothy 3:12-17
It's like culture is constantly with us. Our phones are with us all the time. We've got iPads out. It's on TV, in every house, and often, in every room. There's a constancy to what culture is pouring into our thinking. And it's pervasive. It's not like we can look at our children and say, “Hey, knock it off. Get off that device.” It's actually a problem for me. I look up from my iPhone to see my kids consumed with their iPhones. And it's just a constant problem for all of us. It's not like we can point our finger at our kids and say, “Hey, you need to knock it off.” It's that we need to knock it off as well. So it's constant, it's pervasive.
It draws us in because it's true that our culture is trying to get us to buy something, to do something, to believe something.
And it runs, and it drives that agenda regardless of the platform. There's an agenda on that platform. And I want to challenge you as a parent, that the answer to that is a lot bigger than saying, “Hey, what's your screen time for the week?”. It's really a lot more of “How can I as a parent, so be in love with God myself, that that's where I'm finding my satisfaction?”. I'm going back to the truth of scripture. I'm going back to the truth of scripture to learn about a God that I love - a God that satisfies me - that whenever I'm drawn away from my God, because this cute little thing over here on this device is tempting me or I'm getting tired, and it's good to just veg in front of the TV for a while, that I have a little bit of longing and maybe eventually becomes a real strong longing that actually pulls me off the couch to go back and get the scriptures. That the Scriptures become so vital and so important to me that I'm then teaching my children naturally.
I'm opening the Scriptures to help them learn how to be satisfied.
It's taking these truths and it says here, “but as for you continue in what you've learned and in firmly believe, knowing from whom you have learned it, (your background, your environment, where you grew up, how you learn these things) and how from a 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 by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” and that's what we want for our children. We want our children to not just be competent and go out to have a good paying job, or to be able to hold a marriage together. Those are the good things, but that's not the thing. The thing is that our children might so fall in love with God, and that's not going to happen through the culture’s theme park. It's going to happen because we take the time in the scripture to learn who God is, and to fall in love with the God of the Scriptures that we might be not conformed to this world, but as it says, in Romans 12, we might be transformed by the renewing of our minds. It wouldn't be captured by the world's ideologies, but we would be captured by the truth of God's Word. And we might parent through tough times for the struggles that we face today and the culture at hand.
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