A. Please open your Bibles to Genesis 24. In this chapter you’ll find that Abraham is an old man. God has blessed him, giving him wealth & a faithful wife who stood beside him in good times & bad. But now Sarah is dead & Abraham is thinking about his own death & of the legacy he is passing on to his son, Isaac.
They live in a pagan land, & it is very important to Abraham that he pass on to Isaac a legacy of faith & values that Isaac will then pass on to his children as well.
So please turn with me in your Bible to Genesis 24:1-4. It says, “Abraham was now old & well advanced in years, & the Lord had blessed him in every way. He said to the chief servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, ‘Put your hand under my thigh. I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven & the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country & my own relatives & get a wife for my son Isaac.’”
Now it was the custom in O.T. times for parents to make the marriage arrangements for their children. And in many parts of the world, India for example, that is still the practice. When you talk to teenagers from India & ask their opinion, they will often say, “Marriage is too important a decision for us to make. And our parents are much wiser than we. So we trust them to make the right decision for us.”
Well, it was time for Isaac to get married, & Abraham wanted him to marry the right girl, one who loved God & was not a pagan or a worshipper of many Gods. So he delegated the responsibility of finding the right wife for Isaac to his most faithful servant. And he sent his servant to find a girl who believed in God to become Isaac’s wife.
Now can you imagine the pressure this servant must have felt? I mean, if you have ever tried to arrange a blind date for someone you know about the pressure. But the pressure of arranging a blind wedding is almost unimaginable.
In vs. 5 the servant asks Abraham, “What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?”
It didn’t take Abraham long to think that one over. He answers in vs’s 6-7, “’Make sure that you do not take my son back there,’ Abraham said. ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household & my native land & who spoke to me & promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’’ – He will send His angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there.’”
B. Now what I want you to notice is that Abraham is totally committed to God, & he was really concerned that his son would have the kind of wife who would help impart their faith in God & His values on to their children, too.
That responsibility of passing on faith in God & His values is an extremely important part of our family responsibilities today, too.
Now that is not easy for Christians today because our world counteracts much of what we’re trying to teach our children. That makes the words of Deuteronomy 11:18-20 important indeed. Please turn to Deuteronomy 11:18-20 & look at them with me.
“Fix these words of mine in your hearts & minds; tie them as symbols on your hands & bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home & when you walk along the road, when you lie down & when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses & on your gates, so that your days & the days of your children may be many…”
That is something to think about, isn’t it? God is saying, “In everything you do, make sure to saturate your children with my words. Write them on the doorframes & on the walls so that every place they turn they’ll encounter them. Impart the truth of God to your children.”
I. CHRISTIAN VALUES THAT ARE TO BE IMPARTED TO OUR CHILDREN
But if we’re going to do that, what values do we need to impart to our children?
A. Here’s value #1 – “Value God as the source of all things.” The Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens & the earth.” As Christians, we believe that God is the creator of everything – the heavens, the earth, & the universe & everything in it.
Now why is that important? Because if you believe that God is God & that He is our creator, then we ought to live life the way He designed it to be lived.
The world counters by saying, “You’re not here by design, but by accident. It just happened. You just happened to be who you are today, to look the way you look, have the personality you have – all by accident.”
ILL. Listen to one of their quotes: “The diversity of life on earth is the outcome of evolution, an unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable natural process." Now stop & think about that for a moment.
ILL. A little alligator has a hard, callused nose to knock his way out of his egg because his egg is hard. And if he doesn’t have a hard, callused nose he won’t make it out of his egg. But if evolution is correct, a bunch of little alligators millions of years ago said, “If we don’t develop some calluses on our nose we won’t get out of our eggs. So let’s develop some calluses on our nose.”
It takes more faith to believe that it all fell into place by accident than it does to believe that God created it. Paul says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities - His eternal power & divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” [Romans 1:20].
SUM. The world will seek to counter that. But stand your ground as Christian parents & teach your children that God is the source of all.
B. Now here is value #2 – “Value the earth as the creation of God.” “The earth is the Lord’s & everything in it,” says the Psalmist. And the Bible tells us, “God saw all that He made & it was good.”
God created the earth. Then He created Adam & Eve & put them in the Garden of Eden & told them, “You’re stewards of the garden. All the animals that are here are under your dominion. All the plants, everything is yours to be used for your benefit.”
But now people are going in two different directions as far as the earth is concerned. There are some who pillage & destroy, who ravage the hillsides & abuse the animals. And certainly God doesn’t want that.
On the other hand, there are others who worship the earth today, & you’ll hear them talking about “Mother Earth” as though the earth is the original source of life. You may see a bumper sticker that says, “Be kind to animals.” And on the same bumper you may also see a pro-choice bumper sticker. They seem to be more concerned about the spotted owl than they are about our children. Their values are confused.
SUM. We need to teach our children that this world is created by God, & God has given us dominion over it. We’re not to abuse it, but God does expect us to use it.
C. Here’s value #3 – “Value people as the image of God.” The Bible says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image.’” As Christians, we believe that God created all humankind in His image with a soul & a body & a spirit just like God. And God loves us all. “Red & yellow, black & white – they’re precious in His sight.” And we must teach that to our children as well.
D. Here’s value #4 – “Value the Bible as the truth of God.” “All Scripture is God-breathed,” the Bible says. We believe that God has revealed Himself in His Word, & through His Word we can have fellowship with Him. And the Word teaches us how to be forgiven of our sins & saved for all eternity. We believe that His Word is truth.
The world says, “Well, maybe the Bible is all right as far as ancient literature goes. But as far as it being divine or God-breathed or authoritative in what it says, we just won’t accept that.” In fact, the world doesn’t believe that there is any source of absolute truth about what is right & what is wrong.
ILL. George Barna recently conducted a survey & discovered that 72% of the people he surveyed do not believe that there is any absolute truth. That is rather frightening, isn’t it? If there is no absolute truth, then there is nothing to tell us what is right & what is wrong. That means chaos. And that is exactly what we have in our world today – a chaotic situation with no accepted standard of what’s right & what’s wrong.
SUM. But we believe that the Bible is the Word of God & what it says is authoritative for our lives. And we must pass that legacy on to our children.
E. Here’s value #5 – “Value the family as the basic unit of God.” “A man will leave his father & his mother & be united to his wife, & they become one flesh.” All the way through the Bible it teaches that when a man & woman marry they commit themselves to each other & they’re a family.
And we must teach that to our children – that marriage is sacred, that children are a gift from God, & the family is comprised of people who are related to each other, either by blood or by adoption.
Much of the world today says, “Marriage is antiquated. It ought to be thrown away. And a family may consist of same-sex marriages, or just a conglomeration of compatible people living under the same roof.” Society has watered down the meaning of family to where we’re not sure what the family is anymore.
SUM. But we must stand our ground against the culture of our time & say, “The family is the basic unit of God.” And then model that in our own homes as well.
F. Here’s value #6 – “Value the church as the called of God.” Jesus said, “The kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field.” Now we’ve talked about how the kingdom of God today is the church. We are His body, sacred & holy. So we are to value the church & pass that on to our children, too.
The world says, “We’ll tolerate the church as long as it is over in a corner doing whatever it’s going to do. Just don’t try to influence us.” But we’ve been called to witness to the world, so that the world might come to know Jesus as the Christ.
The world says, “Wait a minute. We want separation of church & state. We want everything kept in its own neat little compartment.” But the church is to be like yeast in the dough. The church is to seek constantly to influence the world of which we are a part. So we value the church as the called of God.
G. Here’s value #7 – “Value the government as established by God.” Now this is a tough one. But Romans 13:1 says, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.”
That means that as Christian citizens we are to obey the laws of the land. We are to be peaceful citizens. We should never do anything that the government commands us to do that would be against our Christian principles. But as long as they don’t violate that we are to live at peace in this land & obey its laws.
SUM. We need to pass that on to our kids & to our grandkids, & to all the generations that come after us.
II. HOW DO WE IMPART THESE VALUES TO OUR CHILDREN?
Now how do we do that? How do we impart these values to our children & to our grandchildren?
A. First of all, “Be totally committed to Christ yourself.” You know, kids are pretty good at picking up on inconsistencies in our lives. If you come to church & pray, & then go home & cuss like a sailor; of if you come to church & you act pious, & then you go home & bless out other people, your children will know that.
Or if you gossip about people, saying negative things about them, but when they come to visit you act warm & friendly, your kids will pick up on that, too. They see the inconsistencies.
I think one of the hardest places to be a Christian is at home because you take off all the disguises & masks at home, & you become what you really are. So when you take off all the disguises & masks, make sure that what is still there is a Christian – a Christian mom, a Christian dad, someone who loves the Lord.
SUM. So first of all, you must be sold out, totally committed to God. You must love God with all your heart & soul & mind & strength & set that example for your children.
B. Secondly – “Build a loving relationship with your children.” Josh McDowell says, “Rules without a relationship lead to rebellion.” I think he has put his finger on the pulse of what is going on in our world today. We have a lot of rules & regulations, but very few relationships that are meaningful.
He goes on to say that 54% of all teenagers say they would never talk to their fathers about their problems. And that 25% say they would never talk to their mothers. So we have homes where there are rules & regulations, but no relationships.
Here are moms & dads who have not related to their kids & vice-versa, & siblings who feel alienated from each other. As a result, the family is a gathering of strangers, people who really don’t love or care much for each other.
SUM. I think it is critical that we build loving relationships with our children so that they see us not just as authority figures but as friends, ones to whom they can confide the deepest longings of their heart.
C. Thirdly – “Saturate their lives with the Word of God.” “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you,” the Psalmist writes.
Remember what God said in Deuteronomy 11 when he told the Jews to write it on the doorposts & walls, & put it on their foreheads. Saturate them with the Word of God so that every time they turn around there is something there that reminds them of God.
So put pictures & scripture passages on the walls of your home to remind everybody that God is present in your home.
SUM. You will be amazed at how much your kids can remember, & how fast they pick up on things like that. If they’re constantly saturated with the things of God they’ll carry that with them all of their lives.
D. Here’s #4 – “Minimize their exposure to the world’s propaganda.” Do you know that every mother in the animal kingdom instinctively protects her young? God builds that into His creation so that the older ones protect the younger.
Listen, if we don’t protect our kids today we’re exposing them to moral cyanide. So monitor what they watch on television. Know what they’re being taught at school.
SUM. Teach them that God’s Word is the truth, that God is who He is, that Jesus is who He is, & we believe in Him in our home. “The world may teach you one thing, but in our church & in our home we’re going to teach you something else. We’re going to stand for that which is the truth.”
E. #5 – “Show respect for the church.” If you come to church & then go home griping & complaining about what happened at church, chances are pretty good your child will grow up as a pagan. You will tear down any testimony you have for the Lord Jesus Christ if you don’t respect the church, which is His body.
So when you go home say nice things that will encourage a love for the church. Things like, “Wasn’t the music great? The communion meditation really touched me this morning. Isn’t Greg doing a wonderful job with our kids?” And you might even throw in a kind word about your preacher, too.
SUM. There are a lot more positive things than negative. So dwell on the positive & your children will never forget. “My parents loved the church, & now I love the church. And I want to pass that on to my children as well.”
H. Here’s #6 – “Pray for them daily, & pray with them regularly.” Pray constantly for your children. Pray for them as they grow up. Pray for their health. Pray for their strength. Pray for their friends. Pray for protection against temptation. Pray every day that God will lead them to the right person to marry so that when they do, their marriage will be a happy one that will last a lifetime. Pray for their spouses.
Remember, the pressure on Abraham’s servant was overwhelming. He had to select the right wife for Isaac. So what did he do? He prayed. Look at vs’s 12-14:
“O Lord, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, & show kindness to my master Abraham. See, I am standing beside this spring, & the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when I say to a girl, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink, ‘ & she says, ‘Drink, & I’ll water your camels too’ – let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac.”
Before he even finished praying God answered his prayer. And Rebekah was the one. Then God opened the doors for him to talk with her parents & with Rebekah also about Isaac. And everything went well as Rebekah began the journey with him.
Meanwhile, Isaac is back home waiting for the servant to return with his new bride. “What will she look like? What kind of person will she be?” God had already taken care of all that because it had been prayed about & anointed by His spirit.
Finally, when Rebekah comes, Isaac sees her & it is love at first sight. Vs. 66 says, “Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, & he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, & he loved her, & Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death,” because they had prayed about it & they had committed it to God.
Some of the greatest times you can have in your home are when you pray with your kids. Prayers may start out being, “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. God bless mommy & daddy…”
But pretty soon they’ll be praying, “God help me as I take the test to remember the things I’ve studied & learned. God help me as I choose a college, that I’ll be protected & I won’t get in with the wrong crowd & make bad decisions. God help me to make a good choice of a career. I just want to do with my life whatever it is that you want me to do. I want to be your person, whatever that might be.”
“God help me as I choose a mate. May it be the right person. God bless our children. Keep them safe. Help us as we parent them to be the kind of parents you want us to be. God bless mom & dad. Their health is beginning to fail. Give them your strength & your healing.”
And finally, “Thank you God. Mom & dad are with you now. Thank you for good Christian parents who imparted values that have stayed with us all through the years.”
ILL. I like the story of a little boy who was asked if he believed in God. He answered, “Well, yes I do.” When asked why, he said, “Well, I guess it just runs in the family.”
I hope it runs in your family, too.
INV. If you’re here this morning & you’re a Christian, God bless you. Impart your values to your children & grandchildren & to all your family. If you’re here this morning & Jesus Christ is not your Savior, we extend to you His invitation. We invite you to come & accept Him as we stand & as we sing.