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The three “R’s” used to be readin’, ‘wrightin, and ‘rithmetic, right?  In home school, at least at my house, we have a different set of “R’s.” They are respect, reasoning, righteousness, and responsibility.  If I succeed at teaching them those things, I have zero doubt that my kids will succeed in whatever it is they choose to do in life.  Even if their paths and choices lead to failure, they will succeed in character, integrity, and wisdom if just these four things are instilled in them.

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan!’ For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” ~Matthew 4:10

“What?!  Why would he say that?!” exclaims my indignant nine year-old.

“What?”

“Why would Jesus tell the devil to worship God?!  He will never do it!!”

“Just because we know someone is not going to listen does not mean God does not want us to tell them the truth.  Truth has two purposes.  One is grace for those who will listen and change by it.  The other is condemnation for those who will refuse it.

In other words, Jesus’ faithfulness in telling the truth of the scriptures to those who do not listen is actually what he will point to when he judges them.  It is not just sin that will condemn people, it will be also the saving grace God gave that was refused.

 The only sin listed in the Bible as unforgivable is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.  What that means is that when God shows up to teach us and offers His truth to us by grace and we disbelieve, dismiss, and ignore it, we cannot be forgiven because we have pulled the rug out from under the means by which he saves.  If we refuse the Spirit of God when it speaks plain truth to us, we stiff arm God’s grace and we remain in stubborn, willful darkness.

We must learn to love the truth, girls.  No matter how uncomfortable, difficult, or painful it may be for us to accept, we must always embrace truth.  Never refuse or put off the truth of God when you learn it.  The Bible says, “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.  For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.  Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now its the day of salvation.” ~2 Corinthians 6:1-2

There is a particular urgency to the truth.  Today is the day.  Don’t put it off.  Don’t wait one more second.  Take the truth to heart, now!  Today!  Do what is right, right away!  That is how we are to react when met with the truth.  Jesus is the Truth and he is the Way.  If we are following him, we must obey the truth, and obey it quickly.

The next day Bible class resumes.  We read Revelation chapter 16.

“Then I heard the angel of the waters say to God: ‘Holy One, you are the One who is and who was.  You are right to decide to punish these evil people.  They have spilled the blood of your holy people and your prophets.  Now you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.’  And I heard the altar say: ‘Yes, Lord God All-Powerful, the way you punish evil people is right and fair.'” ~Revelation 16:5-7

This time my seven year-old protests.

“Doesn’t God say ‘Don’t do bad things back to people when they do bad to you?!’ Why is he doing bad to the bad people?  He is disobeying himself!!!”

“God tells us not to take revenge.  The reason we are not allowed to take revenge is because he is going to.  He tells us not to repay evil with evil because if we do, we will be judged, too.  God has to punish evil and he will punish evil because he is just and fair.  He punished Jesus for our sins but those who do not love and obey Jesus will get their own punishment.”

“Education was, in fact, so important to the Puritans that it was required.  By 1642, parents were required to teach their young children to read so they could know the Scriptures…The purpose of teaching was to learn the Word of God and defeat Satan, who was the deluder.  So the law to teach was called the ‘Old Deluder Satan Act.'” ~Linda Lacour Hobar, Mystery of History, Vol. III

My lessons for the week are very clear.

1. Tell the truth even when your hearers refuse to listen.

2.Trust God to judge evil.

3.Remember that it is parents who are responsible for their children’s education.

4. The ultimate goal of educating children is knowing and understanding the Scriptures.

AMEN.

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It had been quite a while since Paul had been to Jerusalem.  Fourteen years, to be exact.  In Galatians 2, he writes telling the Galatians he had gone back.  He told them who he went with, why he went, and what he taught there.  He does so to lay a foundation for what he wants the Galatians to understand.  Here’s what he shares:

Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. ~Galatians 2:1-5

Why, after fourteen years, did Paul go back to Jerusalem?  The text says he had a revelation.  This trip was God’s doing, not his own.  He wanted the Galatian leaders to understand that important fact, firstly.  So Paul took Barnabas and…Titus.  Titus was a Gentile believer who had not been circumcised.  Neither he nor the other leaders in Jerusalem saw any issue with Titus not being circumcised after coming to faith and even becoming a minister of the gospel.  Circumcision is not gospel.  Stop teaching that it, among many other things, is necessary for salvation, guys.  

Notice who he taught there.  He taught leaders and the most influential people, privately.  Why?  Why not everyone and why not publicly?

Paul knew the stronghold these age-old Jewish customs and beliefs had.  He knew if he went in swingin’ there was bound to be trouble.  So instead, he teaches the leaders who were already fully functioning in the church.  He trusts them to share the truth of pure Christianity apart from works faithfully, patiently, and gently with the rest of the followers who were still entrapped in some Jewish mix.  He knew it wasn’t going to be a one sermon subject.  He knew it wouldn’t be an overnight change for most like it so miraculously was for him.  If it were, God wouldn’t have sent him, he wouldn’t have had the revelation, and they wouldn’t be having this conversation at all.  But God did, he did, and they were.  So he, in his God-given wisdom, goes to the leaders privately and makes certain that they are all on level ground regarding a pure gospel.  

Paul mentions “false brothers.”  These were men who had somehow found their way into the church and were skilled in the craft of espionage.  Spies.  Watchers.  Informants.  Inauthentic probers.  Their main mission was to feel out every believer and gather information they could and would use against them.  Ultimately, their goal was to imprison the believers through falsehood, setups, intimidation, and half-truths.  They wanted slaves, not sisters and brothers.

Paul wasn’t buying.  He refused to submit to their unorthodox practices even for a moment.  (Galatians 2:4-5)  It was for freedom that Christ set us free.  The gospel is not about secrecy and spying on our counterparts.  The gospel is about loving one another truly and living free in Christ.

Paul adds that, though their gospel missions were different, all the apostles and leaders loved and accepted one another without prejudice.  Rather, they agreed to work together for the good of those in real need. (Galatians 2:7-10)

It is clear that Paul allowed no hybrid mix of the cultural practices and pressures to infiltrate and taint the purity of the truth he was so tirelessly teaching.  For that evil, he could neither stand nor submit.  The gospel is simply too important to toy with.  Notice, he had absolutely no fear in teaching the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth despite the strong cultural and congregational pressure to do otherwise.  

A pure, unadulterated gospel is as unfavorable now as it was then.  Whether spies sneak in to overemphasize works in exchange for faith or de-emphasize holiness in exchange for grace, do not fear.  Long-held, improper, imprisoning beliefs are bound to belabor any true disciple.  When you witness secrecy, spies, or slave drivers, do not fear.  Instead, follow your Father to freedom in Christ.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jotNbcFelX4

 

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Playing catch.  Planting a garden.  Riding a bike.  Working hard.  How to surprise Mommy.  Prayer.  Picking blackberries.  Courage.  Sled-riding.  Getting dirty.  The importance of church attendance.  Fishing.  Homework.  How to fight the heebeegeebees.  Computer skills.  Dog walking.  Giving.

These are just a few of the many things my daddy taught me.  Daddy got sick when I was 11 and I spent the rest of my life wishing he hadn’t.  Still, I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if he hadn’t been there at all.  I wonder how the world can pretend fathers are simply an optional appendage to an otherwise fully fulfilled childhood.  

Fatherhood was God’s first idea when he created the first man.  He was the father!  God himself has always been a father, first to his One and Only Son; second to humanity.  He’s been living and working in the hearts and lives of his children for all eternity past.  He’ll continue to do so for all eternity future.  He gave us his best that we might be our best.  That is the role of a every good father.

Married men and women, think of your children before you think of yourself.  Your children need a father who lives in their home.  Single men and women, think of your future children before you think of yourself.  Your children will need a father who loves and is married to their mother.  

If your living situation is not ideal presently, look to God, your first father.  Ask him how you might seek imitate his model for family and abstain from anything that will detract from his plan.  Remember, we serve a redeemer who has unlimited resources and is capable of redeeming all circumstances for the good when we obey.  

Let us all consider Our Father God and never underestimate the impact of a selfless father who willingly lays down his life for his children from beginning to end.  That is, after all, how the world was saved.  Let us also consider Jesus’ mother, Mary, who willingly laid down her life for both her God and her child before he was even born as well as on the day of his death.

Men and women, let us learn wisdom from Our Heavenly Father and go and do likewise.

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
    is God in his holy habitation. ~Psalm 68:5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pu6TJeasyWE

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