Thursday, February 6, 2014

Like a Shepherd 2: Leading Lambs to the Shepherd

Lesson two comes from Mark 10:13-16.  And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
First, it is possible that as parents we, too, can be an unintentional hindrance to bringing our children to Jesus.
*When we are apathetic, self-reliant, or just so busy that we fail to go to Him ourselves. Our greatest need is the same as our children's. Jesus.
*When we fail to live lives of integrity. Our children's view of God and parent is skewed if we say one thing with our mouths and live another.
*By allowing our children to grow up thinking they are the center of the universe. The Christian life is an ever-increasing "my life for yours."
*By failing to show sincere love for the body of Christ, the church. We can teach our youngest children love for the body of Christ by consistent participation in Sunday School. Their being there teaches them and their peers, "I care about you."
It is our duty as Christian parents to bring our children to Jesus. When our children are very young and so dependent, our living is by the tyranny of the urgent and duty becomes an unpleasant word. One of my daughters was explaining family responsibilities to her young sons. "It is," she explained, "your DUTY to your family." One of the very little tappers grinned at his brother, "Hey, Mama said duuuuu-ty. Eeeeuw." That's how we often look at parental duty. Eeeeuw. But duty becomes delight when it flows from an apprehension of the love of God in Christ.
Bring your children at every age as did these parents who brought their children to Jesus. The disciples followed the thinking of the day that rabbis were too busy for children, too important to be bothered by the youngest. But Jesus was not too busy and chastised the disciples for prohibiting them. Jesus is not too busy for our children. More often, our children are too busy for Jesus.
Expect opposition from many fronts.
*From your children themselves. Their inborn sin nature is resistant and opposed to the gospel from birth.
*From their peers. We live in an ever-increasing world that is hostile to believers in Christ. Prepare them for ridicule and opposition, reminding them there is something worse than being a lonely Christian, being lonely and without Christ.
*From YOUR peers. Motherhood can be a lonely place, especially if you are committed to biblically based parenting. But always be ready and willing to use your role as a Christian mother as a gentle and joyful opportunity for sharing the gospel. In a culture where we feel enormous pressure to be the same, look the same, think the same, blah, blah, blah, be willing to be iron that sharpens iron, as one person sharpens another. Prov.27:17.  Remember there are God rules (we will be kind, we will not take what does not belong to us, we will be truth tellers) which apply to everyone and there are house rules which are established in individual homes (screen time on weekends only, bedtime is 8 o'clock, etc.)
How do I bring my children to Jesus?
*In prayer. Even before they are born we should be praying earnestly for our children. Heb.2:13b Here am I, and the children whom God has given me.
*In baptism. While children are not saved by baptism, they are visibly set apart from the world and placed under the covenant promises of God within the context of the covenant family.
*In daily family worship, bible reading and prayer. This is how God speaks to us. Begin small. Read from children's bible story books and pray brief prayers with a sentence of thanksgiving, a request for others and one for Junior, always remembering to take Junior back to the Lord to thank Him for answered prayer.
*In memorizing the scriptures and the catechisms. God's word hidden in the heart of a child is a sword to be used in temptation, a light to guide his way and food for his hungry soul. The concise statements of doctrine that are the catechisms inform and instruct our children in what we believe. These truths will last a lifetime.
*In public worship in the Lord's house on the Lord's day. I encourage you for the well-being of your mind, heart, body and soul to make public worship in your church a non-negotiable in your family as long as your children are under your roof. There is so much more to say about this, but remember that worship of the Lord Jesus Christ is the only activity that will last for eternity.
*In speaking to them about spiritual things as we live. I'm going to follow this post with another including some ideas and very practical things you can do in your home to promote a very natural way of communicating the truth of God's word to your children as you live. This is how Jesus communicated in His earthly ministry. He went where the people were, talking to them when and where they lived.
These verses from Deuteronomy are the foundation of bringing our children to Jesus. Love for the God who first loved us should cause our hearts and minds to burst with joy and desire to bring our children to that God. Our homes are the little kingdom, the nursery of heaven. Bringing your children to Jesus isn't a list, it's life. Now and forever.
What is your expectation? Once again, Jesus surprises us with the depth and lavishness of his response to those who come to him. The parents in Mark 10 brought their children that Jesus would touch them. What does He do? So much more! He picked them up and as the Greek says, he "in-armed" them. He wrapped them in His arms. (Which is just what our theme verse from Isaiah said He would do!) He laid His hands on them showing the favor, ownership, adoption, "these children are mine" laying on of hands. He blessed them. Jesus in His power and authority as the Son of God called down the promises of God upon these children! They came to be touched, and Jesus did so much more. Consider your expectation of what Jesus will do in the lives of your children as you bring them to Him. He is able to do exceedingly more abundantly than we can ask or imagine. Ephesians 3:20,21. As parents we must live in the light of that Jesus.

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