April 25, 2021 | The Generation of Change | Life in the Arena | 1, 2 Timothy (various references)
• We need to spend more time affirming the spiritual growth and calling of our children than we do celebrating their academic and athletic achievements;
• If there is one thing this next generation needs to be anchored in, it is this: the Gospel is our hope;
• We need to focus on commissioning the next generation onto the mission of God.
The next generation is growing up in one of the hardest environments we have ever seen as they live for Jesus.
We are seeing an attack on two fronts:
1) The indoctrination of secular ideology permeating our society;
2) The marginalization of Christianity is rapidly moving towards persecution;
It is pivotal that we as parents, grandparents, and the local church, do everything we can to pour into this generation, building them up in Jesus and calling them to exhaust their life making Jesus known regardless of the cost.
What does it look like for us to reach and disciple this next generation to be the generation of change? Let’s look at Paul and Timothy.
Empower them to be spiritual leaders NOW | 1 Timothy 4:12: “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. | Paul tells Timothy, “don’t let your age keep you from being a spiritual leader now!” He says, “Get your head up and demonstrate godliness in a godless culture.” He called him to set an example in every area of life of what it looks like to live for Jesus. Parents, we must understand that if your child has been saved that means they have the same presence of the Holy Spirit that you have. They are not second-rate Christians, they have the ability right now to be spiritual leaders and world-changers.
Affirm them in their spiritual growth and calling | 2 Timothy 1:5-6: “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. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” | Paul tells Timothy that he recognized the genuineness and sincerity of his relationship with Jesus. By mentioning both his grandmother and mother, Paul is saying that Timothy is a by-product of strong women of faith who love Jesus. As parents, grandparents, and church, we need to spend more time affirming the spiritual growth and calling of our children than celebrating their academic and athletic achievements. What we affirm the most will be what gets the most attention.
Remind them that the Gospel is their hope and it is enough | 2 Timothy 1:8-12: “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, | Paul is reminding Timothy that everything we have in Jesus, is because of His grace. We bring nothing to the table and we are recipients of everything. Jesus defeated death and has now brought life to us. This is found only in the Gospel. Not only does Paul remind Timothy that the Gospel is our hope but it is enough to sustain us. Paul wants Timothy to know that no matter what he faces, the Gospel sustains us. If there is one thing this next generation needs to be anchored in, it is this: the Gospel is our hope.
Prepare them for the difficulty of following Jesus | 2 Timothy 3:1-7 “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. | Paul wanted his young apprentice to know, life is going to be difficult and even more challenging. We must prepare this next generation to follow Jesus when it is hard, for those moments when it would be easier to take the same road everyone else is taking.
Equip them to be faithful to Jesus by the example of our walk and the authority of God’s Word | 2 Timothy 3:10-17: “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,” | Paul brought Timothy into the struggle and now points to it as an example of faithfulness in the middle of difficulty. As disciple-makers, we must bring the next Generation into the struggle. They need to see a living example of what it looks like to be serious about following Jesus. Here is a heart question: If your kids follow your example, what would their pursuit of Jesus look like?
Commission them onto the mission of God | 2 Timothy 4:1 – 5: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” | Listen: your child will stand before Jesus one day and they will give an account to Him. On that day, it will not be their GPA, batting average, club stats, what chair in the band they sat in, how great their jump shot was, what class rank, college, social group or how much money they made that will matter. What will matter is did they know Jesus and did they follow Him faithfully all the days of their life? We must stop sending our kids to college, careers, and adulthood and we need to focus on commissioning them onto the mission of God. Here’s a final quote (author unknown):
“Don’t feel sorry for or fear for your kids because the world they are going to grow up in, is not what it used to be. God created them and called them for the exact moment in time they’re in. Their life wasn’t a coincidence or an accident. Raise them up to know the power they walk in as children of God. Train them up in the authority of His Word. Teach them to walk in faith knowing that God is in control. Empower them to know they can change the world.
Don’t teach them to be fearful and disheartened by the state of the world but hopeful that they can do something about it. Every person in all of history has been placed in the time that they were in because of God’s sovereign plan. He knew Daniel could handle the lion’s den. He knew David could handle Goliath. He knew Esther could handle Haman. He knew Peter could handle persecution. He knows that your child can handle whatever challenges they face in their life. He created them specifically for it!
Don’t be scared for your children, but be honored that God chose you to parent the generation that is facing the biggest challenges of our lifetime. Rise up to the challenge and raise up Daniels, Davids, Esthers and Peters! God isn’t scratching His head wondering what He’s going to do with this mess of a world. He has an army He’s raising to drive back the darkness and make Himself known all over the earth.”