Awana Sunday ~ 20100502 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
5/2 Training our Children
We have a lot of kids in our church. God says kids are a blessing (Ps.127:3-5). We've had a chance to hear from our kids and see what they are learning. Kids are a blessing and they are a huge responsibility. Parents are charged with the responsibility of raising children in such a way that they will raise their children to raise their children to know and fear God. That is the responsibility of parents, and that is the primary responsibility of parents. If you have kids, your first responsibility for evangelism and for teaching is within your own home. Parents, there is no-one in whose lives you are more influential than in the lives of your kids.
When Moses was giving his farewell speech to Israel in Deuteronomy, he emphasized the role of parents in the training of children:
Notice what he says. He instructs parents to be the ones to instruct your children and grandchildren. He also gives the how and the what of instructing your children.
First the what. What is the most important thing we can pass on to the coming generations? Verse 10 tells us, and it comes straight from the mouth of God.
'That I may let them hear my words' - we need to teach our children the bible We need to teach them that God's word is a great privilege. God didn't have to speak. He didn't have to communicate. He didn't have to leave us a reliable record of who he is and how we are to be saved. But he did! He let us hear his words! That is an awesome undeserved gift and we need to teach our children to treasure it. We need to pass on to the coming generations how to think about God's word. We need to teach them how to think about the bible.
And we need to teach them the content of the bible. God's stated purpose for speaking is 'so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth'. Fear of the Lord. God is incomprehensibly great and wise and powerful and good. God is the awesome origin of all things. He will be the righteous judge of all people. And he is the sovereign rescuer of sinners who have rebelled against him and deserve his holy wrath. We need to pass on to our children an awesome view of who God is. We need to teach our kids the nature and character of God; that he is the undisputed King, Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of all; that he is righteous, holy and good; that he must punish sin. We must teach them that he is gracious, compassionate, generous, kind and faithful, eager to forgive and pour out mercy and grace on undeserving sinners. This God is worthy of all our amazement and respect and adoration and worship. We must teach our kids to fear the Lord.
That is the 'what' of what we are to teach our children. We teach them to treasure the word of God and to have a holy fear of the God who reveals himself in the word.
How? How do we communicate this to our kids? Thankfully, the text does not leave us without help here. Verse 9 starts out 'only take care, and keep your soul diligently'. Communicating this to our kids will take great care and diligence on our part. But the focus of the diligence and care is not the teaching itself. The focus of our parental diligence and care is our own soul. If we want our kids to fear the Lord and treasure his word, we must live it ourselves. 'Do as I say, not as I do' is never an effective teaching method. God must have first place in our hearts. The fear of the Lord must define our lives. We must treasure his word with in our decisions and daily habits. The greatest lessons of life are caught not taught. Lots of people will tell you that God is important and bible reading is a good thing to do. But if you live a life consumed by who God is and governed by what he says, you don't have to say anything.
There is a danger here. The text says:
Lest you forget. That's not a problem for any of us is it? Have you ever heard a sermon or read a passage and God convicted your heart and you resolved to make some decisive changes? Do you remember what those changes were? Did you make them? God knows we are a forgetful people. God can show up in our lives in a radical unmistakable supernatural unforgettable way, and a month later it is ancient history. Oh yeah, that sounds familiar. But I don't live my life any different today. We forget what we have seen of God, and it doesn't change us. Forgetfulness is not the end of it. 'Lest they depart from your heart'. When our affections are unmoved there is no change that results. God demands to be first in our affections. With all the things that are battling for our attention and teasing our desires, it takes diligent care to keep our soul focused on the only one who can truly satisfy the deepest longings of our soul. If we want our kids to know and fear the Lord and treasure his word, we must diligently care for our own souls so that we treasure his word daily and increase in our awe and fear of him.
Parents are given the privilege and responsibility of training their children. We are to train our children to treasure God's words and pass on to them an awesome view of who God is. We do this by diligently guarding our own soul and keeping our own affections firmly fixed on God and his word.
Here's a biblical illustration of what this infectious affection for God looks like:
O God, give us this vision of you. Keep us from forgetting what we have seen. Transform our affections so we are satisfied only in you. Help us to diligently guard our souls from being sidetracked by worthless things. May our affection for you be infectious, and may the coming generations pass us up in their passion for your word and your honor. In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.