Monday, November 1, 2010

Raise up a Child


Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. - Proverbs 22:6

I have heard many people quote this scripture. Often times it is used in a way that seems to state that if you raise a child in a Christian home they will be saved. This isn't the right way to utilize this scripture. We all have to make a choice whether we accept Christ or not and God will not make us saved simply because we were raised in a Christian home. How then should we understand this scripture?

The Message version says point your kids in the right direction so that when they are old they won't be lost. In otherwords, as Christian parents, grandparents and mentors of young people; we are to point them in the right direction so that when they get older that which they have heard (if they apply it) will help them see clearly the way.

Oftentimes we do not realize that in order for us to point our young people in the right direction, that calls for us to actively be doing something. Let's take a look a few scriptures that show us what it is we should be doing to raise up a child in the right way, one that points them to God.

All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD.  Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly. He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. - 2 Chronicles 20:13-16

* If we want our young people to realize the importance of prayer, we have to exhibit it in front of them. We have to take them to where prayer is going on. In this scripture the people all gathered, children included to go before God to request his help. The children were there to hear the instructions and to hear the promises of what God was going to do for them. They were being allowed to have a first hand encounter with what God could do. This is something we need to do so that our children will know that God does hear and he does answer.

* We must allow our children to see first hand  the power of God. In the scripture above, the children were right there in the midst of what the promise of God was. While they may not have seen how it was worked out, once it was, they had their own personal experience of knowing that God keeps his promises and that he does have power over all that touches our lives. We may not tell our children all the things that go on in our houses (there are somethings that are too much for them), but we sure can let them know what God has promised and what he has done because they are right there and can see what is going on. This also helps by exampling for them a heart of gratefulness to the things that God does for his people. If we do not show thankfulness to God why would our kids? We have the opportunity to show them that it was not mommy or daddy that made things happen, but God.

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. - Matthew 19:13

* We must bring our children to Jesus. This means we must be willing to take our children where ever Jesus is being taught or exhibited. It is hard and I know first hand to get your kids up and out everyday. Sunday comes around and you just want to get that little extra sleep. However, you would not sleep late and keep your kids from getting to school. Why? Because you know the important of them learning to help them be ready for their future. Sunday school does the same thing, it prepares them for their spiritual future. What we are not aware of is this, if our kids don't see the importance of being around where Jesus is talked about through us, they won't see him as important. We must bring our children (not send them) to Sunday school, youth hour, retreats, etc. Why, so they can be placed in Jesus' hands over and over again.

* We must allows Jesus' hand to be upon our children. We must bring our kids to Jesus and those places that show him so that we can have his hand upon them. God's Word will help to soften the hearts of our children so that Jesus can become important to them. They can learn to love him. And we must be careful not to do as the disciples and rebuke them, turn them away. Jesus desires the little children to come to him and adults must make sure that the enviroment welcomes them, not turns them away.

Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. - Deut. 6:7

* We must impress God's word upon our children daily. I must admit I am not always on point in this area. I have great plans to have family devotions and something gets in the way sometimes. However, God impressed it upon me that I cannot be changed without the hearing of the Word so why would I think my kids would be any different? We must impress the Word of God upon our children daily. While we are sitting at home and a teaching moment comes up where we can talk to them about the truth of God as it references a movie, a game or something they are doing. When we are out and about walking around we can talk to them about God's Word and how the lack of obedience is effecting our world. When we get ready to go to bed or get up in the morning we can start and end, with the word. When we do that, we direct our kids in the right direction so that seed planted may help them when they are older to do what is right.
Prayer: Lord help us to raise up a generation of young people that will change this world like it has never seen before. Help us to plant into their lives. Help us to talk to them about you, show them your power at work in our lives and help us to teach them the importance of prayer and walking right before you. When we do that we trust that as we lead them in the right directions, that your truth will be their for them to draw upon. Help our young people to see clearly the tricks of the enemy that desires to destroy them. Help this generation of parents, grandparents and mentors raise up our children right. Amen.

Week In Review

Unusual assignments bring miraculous results - Are you taking your position? - part 2
Preached in 2007

In this chapter Jehoshaphat aligns himself up with Ahab. And it almost cost him his life. The moment Jehoshaphat took the first step out of Judah and began toward Israel, he was stepping away from God’s purpose. Judah in this instance represents the place where God’s presence is. Jehoshaphat even though he didn’t mean to, was stepping away from God’s presence and the further he went out of Judah the less he could hear the sounds of Judah, until finally he could not hear Judah at all. Because of his turning away from God’s presence, his lost his ability to discern what was good and what was evil. He had stepped away from the presence of God just as his father Asa did. He was however different than his father because when the prophet approaches him in 2 Chronicles, chapter 19 and tells him God’s wrath is upon him he didn’t have a tantrum.

He turned and went back to standing in his position of reformer. He repented of his folly. As soon as Jehoshaphat began his journey out of Judah, he began to leave his purpose and was being drawn away after foolish things. As soon as we allow ourselves to be drawn away from the place God dwells, we too leave our purpose and turn to foolish things. What had happened was Jehoshaphat had allowed himself to be lulled to sleep. He sat down, moved away from the place he should have been standing. Folded his arms, a show of self-satisfaction at his own efforts, closed his eyes, lost sight of God and fell asleep, a spiritual separation from God’s calling. He had allowed his ideas to take place over the work that he was doing for God. Instead of him going to Ahab, that wicked king or as one commentary calls him that depraved Israelite, he should have been back home taking care of God’s business. But when corrected, he woke up and continued the work. His father however refused and in his anger, was lulled to sleep permanently by his own refusal to listen and suffered for it. Both however were lulled to sleep, even though Jehoshaphat only for a while. When they turned from their first love, sat down, folded their arms, closed their eyes, they were lulled to sleep.

What do I mean by lulled to sleep? And what is God’s word speaking to us today? In this instance lulled to sleep means lack of action, which causes sleep, which represents spiritual death. There are two different ways we can be lulled to sleep. Sometimes we can be lulled to sleep because of the stubbornness of our hearts. We refuse to listen to God’s word and correction, so we sit down, which means to move ourselves from our position, fold our hands which means no evidence of works and close our eyes, refusal to see and go to sleep, die spiritually.

We are also lulled to sleep because of our own ideas and agenda that seem good, for we know that the ways of a man seem right in his own eyes, but none the less we are allowing ourselves to fall asleep. Jehoshaphat probably thought lining himself up with Ahab was a good idea because he might be able to bring back the two kingdoms that were divided. But nowhere do we see in that scripture that God called for him to do this, God was more concerned with him obeying his will instead of trying to bring everyone together, it was all his own bright idea.

God is telling his children, to wake up. God is telling us that we must stop being lulled to sleep; we must stop moving from our first love. Here we go, time to fasten on our seat belts, God posed a question in my heart, he said, what things lull my children to sleep today? First let us look at the things that lull us to sleep like Jehosphaphat, things like our own ideas or plans. (Return next week to read the next installment).