Summary: What can parents do to make sure their children have faith in the years to come. Today’s scripture shows three vital things.
Iliff and Saltillo UM
June 19, 2005
“Making Sure Our Children Have Faith”
INTRODUCTION: Have you ever wondered if your children and grandchildren will have faith in God as the years go by? The same was true at the time when Moses lived. At the end of four decades of frustrating wandering in the desert, Moses spoke to the Israelites about what life would be like in the Promised Land. Sometimes we think that this new land was the perfect place--no temptations--an ideal place. But it was not that way. They were about to be scattered throughout the land. They would be confronted by people whose values, lifestyles, and faith were altogether different from their own. It was necessary for them to be able to SURVIVE and THRIVE as the people of God in a hostile environment. How could they do that and teach their children how to thrive among people of very different values? The same question faces us today. Will our children have faith? What did they do and what can we do today?
Verse four tells us, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 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. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”
Ancient and contemporary Jews refer to Deut. 6:4-5 as the Shema. It’s repeated at the beginning of each new day by those who seriously long to live a godly life. Ever since Moses spoke these words, parents who want their children to have a living faith in God have followed this lifestyle. Within this scripture there are three principles that will help us today.
1. The Principle of EXPERIENCE: Moses’ first concern was that before parents could reasonably hope that their children would have faith that they must first model this faith themselves. It must be “upon your (own) heart,” Moses said, “before your children will ever try it out for themselves.”
Thomas Aquinas once told his students, “Preach Christ everywhere you go. AND IF NECESSARY, USE WORDS.” Today this is pretty good advice. Unfortunately many parents do not know the Lord and do not live it before their children in daily life. Others who say they are Christians do not make it an important priority in their every day lifestyle.
What does our Christian experience say to our families? Can your children see a connection between your faith in God and the way you live? Can they see that you mean business with God as you live out your life this week?
Moses said to Israel, “love the Lord with ALL your heart and ALL your soul and with ALL your strength.”
If we follow this principle today, wouldn’t our families take notice that spiritual things are important to us?
In a magazine article there is story about Denzel Washington described as “One of Tinseltown’s most sought after leading men.”
He says, “My priorities are very clear: God, family, work, football--in that order.”
How did he get that arrangement of priorities? In an interview by McCalls he was asked, “Your father was a Pentecostal Preacher. Did he inspire you?”
Here is an example where a father modeled his faith in a significant way before his son, Denzel.
He replied, “As a boy I would REGULARLY sit in on my father’s sermons. I miss his presence and his influence. He and my mother gave me a moral center that has never gone away. You keep building off it for as long as you live. I hope I can pass it on to my children. I share my father’s spiritual commitment. I believe in the Bible and I believe that every event in my life comes from God.”
2. The Second Principle is EXPOSURE: The second guideline toward helping our children have faith is the principle of exposure. The King James version says to “teach diligently.” The NIV says to “impress upon” The basic idea is that by repeating the teachings over and over again, parents will eventually get through to their children.
There must be some things that happen during the week in addition to Sunday school and church just once a week. Parents can ask the blessing before meals, pray about things throughout the week and talk about God in their daily lives.
It is said that today Christians have difficulty “connecting their faith to their daily lives. That it is difficult to talk about it naturally.”