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PARENTING BY THE BOOK
Intro: For several weeks now we have been discussing matters related to the home and family. Family, as we know it, is under attack in our society. Just this week marriage took a direct hit from a federal judge who overturned Proposition 8. Prop 8 was a referendum passed by voters in California that restricted marriage to a union between a man and a woman. This federal judge believes that he knows more than the voters of California, and the God of the Bible, Who happens to also believe that marriage is only to be between a man and a woman.
Consider these few statements from this judge. This will not be the final word on the matter. It will be appealed to the notoriously liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and it will surely come before the Supreme Court for a final decision. Let the courts rule as they will. One day, they will all face the ultimate Judge and give an account to Him for ignoring His clear commands.
Today, I want to look at one of the most important areas of all; that of raising children in Godís will, for Godís glory. When we have successfully raised our children, we have accomplished something of the highest magnitude.
Ill. Former President George H.W. Bush was asked this question, ďWhat is you greatest accomplishment in life?Ē President Bush might have mentioned his success during World War 2 as a Navy pilot. He might have called to mind his 8 years as Vice President under Ronald Reagan. He might have mentioned his own successful presidency. He might have spoken of his time as the head of the CIA, or of his years as U.S. Ambassador to China. He could have bragged about his success during Operation Desert Storm. But, when answering this question, President Bush revealed his heart as well as his priorities when he said, ďMy greatest accomplishment is that my children still come to see me.Ē
What a statement! When everything else in life is weighed and considered in light of its importance; there is no greater ministry than that given to parents. Your children are your greatest investment in the future. Apparently, Mr. Bush had done right by his children. They responded to his investment in their lives, and they will remain a legacy to his life even after he is gone.
The Bible is clear when it reminds us that children are a precious gift from the Lord, Psa. 127:3-5, ďLo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.Ē
Far too often, however, children are seen as an inconvenience and as a nuisance. Instead of being seen a blessing, parenting is often seen as a burden. We must remember that our children have been placed in our lives for a just a few short years. They have been given to us so that we might help them to mature into the adults God desires them to be. We are not to be guilty of forcing them into our mold, but we are to do everything in our power to mold them into the image of Jesus Christ.
This passage gives us some much needed insights into this matter of raising our child. Letís take the time today to learn about better parenting from the Lord and His Word, as we look at Parenting By The Book.
I. v. 1-3 PARENTS MUST
(Ill. Successful parenting always begins with a parentís relationship with God. No parent can succeed in helping a child grow up into the image of the Lord unless they know the Lord.
Parents must be walking in a right relationship before the Lord or they will never have the influence in their childrenís lives that is needed. In other words, you will never be able to lead your children somewhere you have never been. These first few verses speak to this issue and show parents where they need to be if they are going to be the effective parents God desires them to be.)
A. He Speaks About Reverence – We are told in verse 2 that we should ďfear the Lord.Ē That is, we are to walk with awareness of His glory, His holiness and of His majesty. A parentís primary responsibility is to walk in the fear of the Lord.
We are to bring our lives under Godís Lordship. A godly parent places the Lordís will above all other considerations, realizing that the fear of the Lord is the first step in wisdom and in proper parenting.
B. He Speaks About Reactions – When we fear the Lord as we should, we will obey His Word. There is no better witness to our children than the sure knowledge that mom and dad take the Bible seriously; and that Godís Word is the rule of the home. This brings to mind to great truths:
∑ Godís standards are to be our standards! We are to build our lives around the dictates and mandates of the Word of God. When God speaks, we are to respond by doing what He tells us to do, and by refraining from what He forbids us to do.
∑ Your children will often model what they see in your life! They will carry away from your home many of your actions and reactions. It is your responsibility to teach them that Godís Word is to be obeyed.
C. He Speaks About Rewards – God promised Israel that when they followed His Word, He would bless them and reward their lives. The same holds true today! God has promised to bless those who walk in His will and follow His Word - Psa. 1:1-3. Children need to see that God will do what He has said He would do.
∑ Do your children know that God will bless tithing? Mal. 3:8-10.
∑ Do your children know that God will bless honesty? Phil. 4:8; 1 Thes. 4:11-12.
∑ Do your children see that faithfulness is blessed by God? Matt. 25:21.
∑ Do your children see serving God as optional or mandatory?
They will learn exactly what they observe in your life. They need to know that God blesses faithful people. If they see us enjoying the great blessings of the Lord, they will want the same things for their own lives.
(Ill. Letís show them that serving God is the only way to live, and that obedience to the Lord always pays off. Letís show them that Godís way is the best way. It is far better to raise a religious fanatic than a heathen. When your parenting duties are over, your children will be a living memorial to your investment in their lives.
By the way, you canít do that if all you do is complain about the church, the preacher and way things are done at the Lordís house. You canít teach them to honor the Lord if you donít honor Him. You canít teach them to be faithful if you arenít faithful. You canít teach them to love the Lord if all you do is encourage them to love the world.)
I. Parents Must Live Right
II. v. 4-5 PARENTS MUST
(Ill. Again, this may not seem to have a lot to do with parenting, but it strikes at the very heart of the matter. Before we can ever be successful Christian parents, we must have our own relationship with the Lord nailed down. And, just as it is important that our children see us living right, they must also see us loving right. That is, they must see that we love the Lord God supremely.)
A. v. 4 Our Love Is To Be Focused On The Lord – There are to be no other gods in our lives. Too often, children see parents putting everything in the world ahead of God. It may be a job, a hobby, a friend, etc. Whatever comes ahead of God in your life is an idol and it sends a false message to our children.
We are telling them, by our actions, that this thing we love comes ahead of our love for God. Children need to know that no one or no thing comes before our relationship with God. He must be our focus. If we teach them that God is just for Sundays, we are going to raise a generation of infidels.
(Ill. Why do you think many children have rejected the faith of their parents? Sometimes, the reason lies in the fact that what mom and dad claimed to have lacked any reality. By the way, if it werenít for the intervention of God in my life, I would not be here today. Growing up, I saw not one reason to make God and His church a priority in my life!)
B. v. 5 Our Love Is To Be Fixed On The Lord – This love for God is to motivate us in every area of life. Our love for Him should consume us totally, Matt. 22:35-40. When it does, it will fill us and work in us and reveal itself through us - 1 Cor. 13:1-8.
When we love Him like we should, we will be in our place at church time. We will support the work of the church with our giving, our living and our time. We will teach our children to be faithful to the things of God, not to personal opinion. We will teach them to respect the church, the people of God and the men of God. We will teach them to love the Word of God, the worship of God and the will of God! Our children need to see this in the lives of mom and dad.
I. Parents Must Live Right
II. Parents Must Love Right
III. v. 6-9 PARENTS MUST
(Ill. In these verses, Moses reveals the importance of the Word of God in successful parenting. We are to take the Word of God and make it the primary motivator in all we do as parents. Moses mentions three things that we to do with Godís Word.)
A. v. 6 We Are To Study It – The Word is to be taken in, and it is to be allowed to change our lives. If I expect my life to impact my children, then I must be transformed by the Word myself. Nothing can happen through me until it first happens in me.
It is essential that parents have a personal time of prayer and Bible study. You need to be growing so that you can help your children to grow. It is essential that you come to Sunday School and preaching. You mom and dad still need to grow up in Jesus Christ!
The importance and influence of the Word of God should never be underestimated! If we expect to raise Godly children, there must first be godly parents!
B. v. 7-9 We Are To Share It – This verse says that we are to ďdiligentlyĒ teach the Word to our children. The word ďdiligentlyĒ means ďto whet or to sharpen.Ē It carries the idea ďof stabbing, or of one object penetrating another.Ē
In other words, our training is to penetrate deeply into our children. We are to help them, on the basis of Godís word to be keen, sharp and discerning when it comes to living life. We are not to teach them through dogmatic exclamations such as ďBecause I said so!Ē
We are to develop in them a set of convictions based on the Word of God that will guide them through life. It isnít about a bunch of rules, or a list of doís and doníts. It is about teaching them by example and by explanation the things God would have them learn.
(Ill. 1 Thes. 2:11 has some timely advice for parents. There are 3 ways we are to influence our children:
1. Exhort – ďTo call to oneís side.Ē This speaks of an effort to get your children on your team. To develop within them the same sort of convictions that you yourself possess. You do this by consistent loving and living. If you live one way and try to push them in another, you will fail! The problem with most children is that they turn out just like their parents!
2. Comfort – To Encourage. As parents, we are to seek to bring out the best in our children by encouraging them in the things they do correctly and in the things they do well.
3. Charge – This word means ďto call a witness or to protest.Ē As parents, there are times when we cannot condone everything and we must witness against the behavior of our children.)
(Ill. How are we to accomplish this? There are several Scriptures that shed light on this topic:
1. Psa. 139:13 – Realize That Each Child Is Uniquely Formed By God - While a child will certainly acquire certain traits from being in your home; that child is still an individual before the Lord. No child is the product of evolution, but each has been formed by God for a particular function. This needs to be understood by parents as they seek to raise their children. It may be that the Lord has plans that are vastly different from your own.
2. Pro. 22:6 – Realize That Each Child Has An Individual Bent – This verse says that we are to ďtrain upĒ our children. These words speak of ďa midwife who would dip her finger in crushed dates to awaken in the newborn infant a desire for milk.Ē
What this means is that the training we give our children should whet their appetites for the things of God. We should so lead them that they develop a hunger for God and are internally motivated rather then externally compelled.
This phrase can also refer to ďthe placing of a rope in a wild horses mouth.Ē Certainly, there must be rules and boundaries, but there should also be an internal desire to know and follow the Lord. This is awakened by parental example. Parents must learn the proper balance between example and boundaries.
(Ill. This verse also mentions ďIn the way he should go.Ē This does not mean in the way you think he should go, but it refers to the individual bent that is in every child. All children are like cement; they are impressionable.
All children are gifted in different ways. The wise parent sees the differences and raises each child accordingly. Every child has different interests and they should be trained according to those interests. Some are leaders, some are followers. Some are creative and artistic; others are more practical and logical. Some are gifted intellectually and others struggle to learn. A wise parent trains up a child in the way HE should go. Not according to the parentís will for the child, but according to Godís will created as part of the child.)
3. Psa. 51:5 – Realize That Each Child Is Born With A Sinful Nature – They seem so sweet when they get here. But, do not be fooled by that sweet little baby. Inside every one of them is a defiled, sinful nature and it begins expressing itself almost immediately, Psa. 58:3; Rom. 3:10-23; 5:12.
Therefore, parents are not only challenged to teach children to do the right thing, we are challenged to punish them when they do the wrong thing. If a parent does not punish their children, then the children will punish them! The Bible gives at least six good reasons why children should be disciplined:
∑ Chastisement Reduces Foolishness – Pro. 22:15, ďFoolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.Ē
∑ Chastisement Rescues From Judgment – Pro. 23:13-14, ďWithhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.Ē
∑ Chastisement Helps Them Receive Wisdom – Pro. 29:15, ďThe rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.Ē
∑ Chastisement Helps Relieve Your Anxiety – Pro. 29:17, ďCorrect thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.Ē
∑ Chastisement Helps Them To Reflect Godís Character – Heb. 12:10-11
∑ Chastisement Reminds Them You Love Them – Pro. 13:24, ďHe that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.Ē
(Ill. Susannah Wesley, who raised 17 children, including John and Charles Wesley, and who most would consider to be somewhat of an expert said this about discipline, ďThe parent that studies to subdue self-will in his child works together with God in renewing and saving a soul. The parent who indulges it does the devilís work, makes salvation unattainable, and does all that in him lies to damn his child, soul and body forever.Ē)
(Ill. Godís Word is to be such an integral part of our lives that we are to set the right example for our children every day. Ill. v. 8-9 - These verses were later misused by the Pharisees and others who made themselves little boxes of leather worn on leather straps which they tied around their heads or around their arms. Inside these boxes, they placed certain verses from the Law and wore them wherever they went. Orthodox Jews still do this.
Godís intention is far more practical! He wants the Word to be such a part of our lives that we are literally saturated in it. So much so that it motivates us in every area of our lives so that our children know that we are living out the Word. When they see us happy and blessed in the Lord, it will create an appetite in them for the same things. They may rebel for a while, but certainly, the Lord will work in their hearts and bring them home.)
Conc: May I remind you that it is far easier to build a child that to repair an adult! May the Lord help us to do everything in our power to be the best parents we can be to His praise and glory.
Now, how would you feel if your child grew up to be a Christian just like you? Would you be pleased with that? Or, are there areas that need the Lordís attention? If we have made mistakes, and who hasnít, there is help, forgiveness and renewal in the Lord. Some parents actually need to apologize to their children for living contradictory lives before them.
Any change must begin with the Lord. Mom and Dad, is everything right in your relationship with the Lord? Is everything all right in your relationship with your children? If there are needs, please bring them to Jesus right now.