Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Wisdom for Parents

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss says wisdom is something we need to proactively pass on to our children.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: If you want to find wisdom you have to pursue it. You have to be intentional about it. You have to place a high priority on searching for it, on finding it. You don’t get wisdom by just drifting through life, going with the flow, partially because the flow is usually wrong. If you’re going with the flow you’re probably headed in the wrong direction.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, August 14.

Nancy’s been leading us through a valuable series called The Way of Wisdom. It’s challenged my thinking in some very important ways. Godly wisdom is very practical, affecting everything from your use of time to the way you raise your children. We’ll hear from Nancy on this in a minute.

But first one of our listeners is explaining her need for biblical wisdom as a mom.

Anna: I home school my children. This last school year I restructured my day particularly in the early morning with my children. I am an exercise fanatic. I love to exercise. It’s my one time I go alone and do something just for me.

But I really felt like I needed to (my children are middle school age now) focus on building into them spiritually. So at the beginning of the school year, I decided to begin to meet with my kids in the morning and have an early morning appointment with them with the Lord to just discuss spiritual issues and topics and just tell stories. I want to see what God has for us in the Word and pray together with them every morning.

It’s been a hard year because I’ve missed my exercise. This is the first time in years that I haven’t exercised as consistently as I had before. But it’s been so good. God has used that time to bring up issues and things that are going on in their lives on a regular basis, things that are going on in my life, and an opportunity for us to connect on a spiritual level with the Lord.

This series on wisdom has been an encouragement to me because I feel like it’s been a huge sacrifice for me personally to do this, but God is honoring it in our family.

Nancy: You probably have not yet seen the half of how God will honor that. There’s nothing wrong with exercise, but it may not be the season of your life for you to give as much attention to that or to some hobby or to some other thing that you would enjoy—a good thing—if God has something different for you in this season.

The investment you’re making in your children—it’s priceless! And you don’t have long to do it.

Let me just reiterate. We’ve been talking about parenting and children, and there are no magic formulas. If you take six hours a day to do that, there’s no guarantee that your children will have a heart and a hunger for the Lord.

That’s why the wise parent is a praying parent, because it takes God’s grace and sovereign intervention in their lives to turn on the lights, to make it click. You cannot make it click. You can’t do everything right, and if you could do everything right, you still couldn’t make it click. But God is the one who can turn their hearts.

You just want to make sure as a mom that you are investing in their lives in the way God wants you to. Don’t let the way God has led some other mother to do it put you in bondage. There may be another time of day or a different way of doing it that God puts on your heart as a mother.

There are different seasons of life. Your children are different; you’re different. So ask the Lord, “Here am I; here are these children. How do you want me as a mom to be investing in their lives?”

Anna, what you shared also brought up something that someone said to me on a break that I want to just mention here. A grandmom said, “The struggle today as we’re talking about teaching children is that the kids today say, ‘Don’t preach to me.’”

Well, I think it’s important that you ask God to show you how to teach your children in ways that don’t sound like preaching, how to use everyday real life circumstances and situations to help make connections.

That’s why the Proverbs uses so many word pictures. That’s why Jesus taught in parables, in stories. You see the grass over there? You see that sower over there sowing seed? There’s a lesson here.

So as you’re living life with your kids, as you’re just experiencing life together—you hear something on the news or something happens to a friend—ask God to help you connect the dots.

Where is wisdom or foolishness involved here? And then to help you be able to point those connections out to your children, particularly at teachable moments, when your children are open, when they’re tender.

Ask God to show you how to weave truth into the context of everyday life so your kids won’t feel like the Christian life is a category—it’s something we do on Sunday morning; it’s something we do during devotions. But you want them to feel it’s part of the warp and woof of everyday life.

Now, having said that and you trying to weave an understanding of your faith into everyday life, there will still be times when your kids will say, “Don’t preach to me.” When it comes down to it, God will show you there may be some times that you should just be quiet and back off.

There are different ages and different stages of development. But there will probably be some times when you need to have the courage to say, “I’m going to preach whether you want to hear it or not.”

Proverbs says, “Sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.” So watch your tone, watch your attitude. Make sure you’re not just venting.

I know you’ll have those days, but the best teaching, the most persuasive teaching will come when you’re in control of your own spirit and you’re not just hammering at them but God’s put something in your heart.

And you’ve been praying. You’ve been seeking the Lord. You’ve been asking the Lord for an opportune time, an opportune moment to speak into that child’s life. When the time comes and you believe it’s right, then say it.

Don’t expect that necessarily for some period of time you will necessarily be their best friend. They will rise up and call you blessed, but maybe not right away.

And just one other thought there: The age of 14 is not the time to start. If you’ve been speaking into your children’s lives love, affirmation, encouragement, instruction, rebuke, warning, all the balance of these kinds of teaching—if you’ve been doing it from the time they were little tiny babies and cultivating a relationship, you will probably find that as they get into those teenage years it will not be quite so difficult to get a hearing.

There may still be some rough sledding at some times. They’re maturing; they’re moving toward independence, so there are going to be some times when their struggle is not really with you, though they will act like it is.

There are struggles with themselves, struggles with God. And you just have to say, “Lord, give me wisdom to know with this child, with this season of life, is it time to back off and release, or is it time to say, ‘I know you don’t understand this. I know you don’t think that you need to hear this, but I love you too much to let you go your own way. I’m going to say it; you don’t have to receive it, but I’m going to appeal to you’?”

God will show you when those times are. Even if it doesn’t feel like it’s received, if you’ve been sensitive to the Lord, then those are seeds you’re planting that prayerfully, in God’s time, will reap a harvest.

Dorothy: When they don’t want to hear it, all you say is very true. Nevertheless, I always comfort myself with that verse that says, “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save men’s souls.”

Nancy: So a lot of times we think, “I don’t want to hear preaching, but God knew that preaching is a means of getting Christ to our hearts. So you’re right, Dorothy. Preaching sometimes seems foolish to us, particularly to those who are lost, and sometimes to your children; but it’s God’s wisdom. It’s God’s wisdom because it points people to Christ.

Make sure you’re pointing your children to Christ—not just to rules, not just to precepts, not just to principles, but to Christ. You don’t want your children just to do right. You want them to love Christ, to love God with all their hearts.

Again, you can’t make them do that, but you can salt their oats. You can give them some things that create thirst as they see the example of your life—not the perfect example, but your example of humility when you blow it.

They see you teaching out of your life message. They see you making wise choices and repenting when you make foolish choices. These things add up to a powerful message in the lives of your children.

Remember, the last chapter hasn’t been written. God is still able to turn their hearts.

It may be they get away from home; it may be they make some foolish choices. That prodigal son got way far from home, way down, way out, way in the bottom of the pit before he came to his senses. And that father with a broken heart was just waiting.

Had that father failed? Well, all humans fail; we’re all sinners. But if that father is a picture of God in that story, then it wasn’t the father’s failure. It was just that young man needing time for God to get a hold of his heart. But when it happened, it happened.

So don’t stop praying; don’t give up. Don’t give up crying out to the Lord, no matter how far they’re gone. My dad, who went way, way far from God before he came to his senses and came to faith in Christ, used to say, “There are no tough nuts for God to crack."

He believed that because he had been a tough nut, and God had penetrated and pierced his heart in His way and in His time. He just never gave up hope believing for all of us kids and for other people that he was carrying a burden for.

Leslie Basham: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss on teaching wisdom to our children. She’ll be right back. I’m going to step in and tell you about a way you can gain great godly wisdom that you can then pass on to your children.

Go through the Bible study Nancy co-wrote called Seeking Him. It will give you godly wisdom on practical topics. You’ll learn to forgive. You’ll gain a clear conscience before God and other people. You’ll learn to make pure choices.

It’s a practical study in learning to walk in wisdom. We’ll send you Seeking Him when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Just call 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now let’s get back to Nancy’s series, The Way of Wisdom.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Several years ago I saw a picture in a biography I was reading of a painting. I saw that picture of that painting, and it was a painting that involved one of my spiritual heroines of the faiths, somebody that you probably wouldn’t know, who lived long ago. But I loved this picture of this painting, and I thought, “I would love to have a copy of that painting.”

So I set out on a search. All I had was the name of the painting and the name of the artist and some museum in Stockholm or Copenhagen or something like that. I started researching (this is before we had Google) and looking for that painting.

I searched high and low, and finally my mother found out I was interested in this. She went on a search, and she found where that painting was located. This was after months or maybe even more than a year of searching. We finally found it, and my mother gave me a copy of a print of that painting, which is now hanging in my home.

I love it. I’m so thankful to have it, and I’m thankful we went on a search to find it. It was worth the search to find this painting that I really enjoyed.

As we talk and think about the subject of wisdom, I think back to that search for that rare painting. It’s not something that would probably be meaningful to you, but it’s something I really enjoyed, really wanted, and it was worth the search to me.

It took pursuit. It took effort. It took time to find that painting. And it takes pursuit and time and effort to find wisdom.

You don’t get wisdom by just drifting through life or going with the flow. If you’re going with the flow you’re probably headed in the wrong direction.

So Proverbs challenges us over and over again to get wisdom. Look for it. Search for it. Go for it.

Proverbs 23:23 says, “Buy truth, and do not sell it.” Once you find it hang onto it.

I’m not probably willing to sell my painting to you. Well, for the right price, maybe! But I’m not going to sell. I’m going to hold onto it. It’s valuable to me. And Proverbs 23 says, “Buy truth and don’t sell it. Hold onto it. Buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.”

Buying wisdom, buying the truth, suggests spending whatever energy or financial resources are necessary to get truth, to get wisdom. You’re willing to expend; you’re willing to put out a price.

Proverbs 7:4 says, “Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and call insight your intimate friend.” Work on this relationship. Cultivate it. Get close to wisdom.

Now, to do that requires intentionality. It requires earnestness. It requires pursuit.

Listen to these words in Proverbs chapter 2—in fact you may want to turn there—Proverbs chapter 2 beginning in verse 1. Hear the way this father, Solomon, says to his son that he needs to pursue wisdom. He needs to be intentional about it. Proverbs 2:1-4,

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures.

Let’s just stop there before we move on. Do you hear the earnestness here? If you desire this, if you receive this, if you treasure this up, make your ear attentive. Tune your ear like you’re listening for the faintest sound. Incline your heart. Set your heart. Don’t stop there. Call out for it; raise your voice for it; seek it like silver; search for it as for hidden treasures.

We’ve all had the experience of losing something, in our home or . . . I can lose something in my purse and not find it for months. Now I carry a smaller purse so that won’t happen. But you know what’s like to just tear up your house looking for a check or a bill or something valuable that you’ve lost.

I know what it is to spend long periods of time trying to track down some obscure fact or quote on the Internet. I’ll search and search. I’m on a mission. I’ve got to find this. I need this quote; I need this stat. I need this check. I need to find this.

We go on a mission. We get intentional about it and we say, “Get out of my way. I’m going to find what I’m looking for.”

That’s the picture here. I’m on a mission. I’m on a pursuit. There’s nothing casual about this pursuit. I’m looking for wisdom. Let me say that you don’t have to be old to look for wisdom. Far better that you start when you’re young!

You know what? The women in this room who are older would say, without exception, “I wish I had been more earnest in searching for wisdom when I was younger.”

I see a lot of heads nodding. I wish that I had been more diligent. I wish that I had cried out for wisdom. I wish that I hadn’t waited until I was married to a person who wasn’t God’s will for my life before I started searching for wisdom. Before I raised my children and didn’t do it God’s way, I wish that I had searched for wisdom.

The earnest, intentional, desperate pursuit of wisdom is what we’re reading about here. Then he goes on to say in Proverbs 2 verse 5, if you will search for wisdom in this way, "then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God."

God isn’t playing hide and seek. He wants to be found. He wants you to know His wisdom. He wants to give you His wisdom. He’s just waiting for you to want it. He wants to know if you really want it, if you’re going to search for it.

Verse 6, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

  • What are doing to become a wise woman?
  • What are you doing with your time?
  • What are you doing in your schedule?

You say, “I’m so busy.” If you’re too busy to search for wisdom, then you’re too busy.

You can search for wisdom in the course of everyday life, in the course of mothering, in the course of going to school, in the course of working at your job. Be inclining your heart toward the Lord, toward His ways, seeking to hear what God is saying in the situation.

  • What are you doing to pursue wisdom?
  • Are you intentional about it?
  • Are you in earnest about it?

Are you just lollygagging your way through life, not thinking about what kind of person you’re becoming, what kind of character you’re developing, what kind of heart you’re cultivating? If you’re not thinking about it, you know what’s going to happen? You’re going to become a foolish person. You will.

Proverbs 8:17, wisdom is speaking here, and wisdom says, “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.”

“And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me [to wisdom], watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors” (verses 32-34).

Most people I know check the news every day in some way. They watch it on TV; they hear it on the radio. They get in their car and turn on NPR; they want to hear the news. They turn on the Internet. We want to stay tuned; nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with staying current, keeping your ear tuned to the news.

But I wonder how many Christians are as earnest about keeping their ear tuned to what God is doing? Listening, watching, daily.

“Blessed is the one who listens to me,” wisdom says, “watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.”

Do you watch? Do you listen? Do you wait daily to get wisdom from God? Do you wait on the Lord each day, with His Word open in front of you, saying, “Lord, teach me, show me, give me wisdom, show me Your ways, teach me Your paths”?

Just let me say this: If you’re spending more time listening to, waiting on, watching the world’s wisdom than God’s wisdom—if you’re getting more input from the world into your mind and into your heart than you are getting input from God and His ways—then don’t expect to be a wise person.

You say, “But I go to church; I go to Sunday school; I’m in a small group.” Listen, you can’t in 60 or 90 minutes a week counter all the other stuff that you may be putting into your mind and into your heart—the world’s wisdom, which is foolishness compared to God’s wisdom.

If you want to be wise, you need to watch daily. You need to listen. You can’t neglect it. You can’t let it go. And you know what? You can never stop learning. You never stop growing. You never stop searching.

I’ve been studying God’s Word for 40 years now, and it’s always fresh and alive and active. I’ve read the book of Proverbs many, many, many times over the years, and a number of times just in preparing for this series I’ve been pouring through the book of Proverbs.

But it’s fresh; it’s new; it’s active; it’s alive; it feeds me. And that’s why I want to listen to it, watch daily at the gates of wisdom, and wait to hear what God has to say.

Let me just say, by the way, that in the same way you have to be intentional about pursuing wisdom, people generally don’t just stumble or fall into great sins such as adultery or embezzlement. They don’t just generally fall into having a broken family. It’s like, “I’m helpless; I didn’t have anything to do with this; I couldn’t do anything about it.”

Somewhere, chances are, they left the pathway of wisdom. What happened? Then they lost God’s protection. They made incremental choices and compromises to neglect wisdom. It was a slow leak, it wasn’t a blowout.

Then they look back at their lives and they see, “This is a mess!” Humpty Dumpty has fallen off the wall and had a great fall. And then they come to their counselor, their pastor, or they write Revive Our Hearts, and they say, “Can you help me put my life back together?”

Now, we love people in whatever situation and circumstance of life, and we’ll do anything we can to pray, to serve, to help. But could I just say, in many cases you didn’t need to get to that point if you would not have left the pathway of wisdom way far back.

That’s why you have to be intentional. If you’re not intentional about pursuing wisdom, you will inevitably pay the price. Sooner or later you’ll want wisdom, but then you may find it’s too late to get the wisdom that you spurned along the way.

So the question is: What are you doing to pursue wisdom? I don’t care whether you’re 14 or 44 or 84; and we have some in this audience who are at various ends of that spectrum. What are doing now to pursue wisdom?

Some of you high-school students, I know you’re on vacation, and you may not be thinking of pursuing wisdom during your holiday. Let me say, you can never stop pursuing wisdom. Pursue it with all your heart. You’ll be blessed; you’ll be thankful; you’ll be rich in the ways that really matter. And you will spare yourself many, many negative consequences down the road.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been warning us against the terrible consequences of foolish choices. That message is part of the series The Way of Wisdom, which Nancy will pick up next week. 

During this series we’ve been sending our listeners Nancy’s workbook Seeking Him for a donation of any amount. This workbook does two things. It will take you into a study of wise behavior so you can avoid some of the negative consequences we’ve been hearing about. You’ll learn to lean on God’s power and wisdom to make humble, honest, pure choices day by day.

But Seeking Him also helps you deal with foolish choices in the past. You’ll learn to be free through humility, confession, forgiveness, and restoration. Donate any amount at ReviveOurHearts.com and we’ll send you Seeking Him. You can also call us at 1-800-569-5959.

When you were a kid, did you enjoy playing connect the dots? God may want to lead you on a grown up version of that game. Find out why Monday on Revive Our Hearts. .

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

 

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