Summary: The church must choose to reach the next generation for Christ.
May 22, 2011
Text: Deuteronomy 6:1-12
Subject: Teaching Children
Title: Teach Your Children Well – Impacting the Next Generation
I would like for you all to take the time to look around you this morning, and as you do I want you to pay special attention to anyone who is younger than you. Now for some of you that will include much of the congregation. To others it will be a smaller number and for some it will be a relatively small number. Now, what I would like for you to do is to think back, especially those of you who have been in this church for a prolonged period of time, and I want you to think of the kind of legacy that you have left or are in the process of leaving to those who are coming after you. Have you left a lasting impression on people? If so, has it been a positive or a negative impression? Maybe you have never thought about it. I have. I wonder if I have ever done or said anything to anyone that would negatively affect the choices that they would make in their lives. That fact is that you will impact someone’s life at some point in your Christian walk, and it is up to you as to how you will impact them – whether positively or negatively.
Here is the story of two men who lived in the eighteenth century. One man, Max Jukes, was an atheist. The other man was Jonathan Edwards – a preacher. Edwards was everything Juke was not: hardworking, God-fearing and Bible believing. Edwards "was a godly minister who was credited with igniting The Great Awakening through his sermons. He served for a brief period just before his death as president of what is now known as Princeton University. He believed in leading by example. He authored two books on the subjects of physical fitness and kindness. Mr. Edwards later became involved in teaching people to be responsible for their daily actions."
Certainly Juke and Edwards had an impact on their immediate families, but what about the generations to follow? Here's what happened in the years after Juke and Edwards died:
Of 1026 descendants of Max Juke, 300 were convicts, 27 were murderers, 190 were prostitutes and 509 were either alcoholics or drug addicts. It is estimated that the Jukes family had cost the State of New York almost $1.4 million dollars to house, institutionalize and treat the family of deviants. By contrast, the 929 descendents of Jonathan Edwards included 13 college presidents, 86 college professors, 430 ministers, 314 war veterans, 75 authors, 100 lawyers, 30 judges, 66 physicians, and 80 holders of public office, including three U.S. Senators, seven congressman, mayors of three large cities, governors of three states, a Vice-President of the United States, and a controller of the United States Treasury.
Now, I am not going to talk to you about the spiritual legacy that you have left for your family. What I am going to talk about today the kind of spiritual legacy that you are leaving in the church for those who will come after you.
Whether you know it or not you are impacting the next generation of Christians.
Read Deuteronomy 6:1-12
Lord, open my eyes to see and my ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
I. THE NEXT GENERATION WILL BE IMPACTED BY YOUR ATTITUDES… 1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3 Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you. I want you to look at three attitudes that I see in what Moses is saying to Israel. 1) An attitude of fear. One of the things that I feel that has been lost in our church experience is the fear of the LORD. And I don’t want you to misunderstand me on this… I believe that Jesus is my best friend. I believe the God the Father desires only the best for me. I believe that I have power and authority over the evil one because of the Holy Spirit dwelling in me. But I fear my God… That word fear in the original Hebrew language has wide connotations. It can mean, “to be afraid of; or in dread of someone or something”. It also means to “morally be in reverence”. And finally, it can also mean, “to be in awe of”. Now, looking at those meanings according to scripture we see that each of them is probably included in the idea of “fear” of the LORD. That is the attitude of Israel when they heard the voice of God from the mountain in Exodus 19. 16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, 19 and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. They were afraid because they knew what God could do if they were disobedient. They were in reverence of Him because they understood His holiness and their own sinfulness. And they were in awe of Him who was able to bring them out of Egypt with His mighty hand, working miracles that had never been seen before. Now, I am speaking to the whole church today because we all need to have that fear of the Lord in our lives. But, I am specifically speaking to those of you who have direct contact with the next generation as teachers or leaders – Sunday School, Youth sponsors, Royal Rangers leaders – if you don’t have the proper attitude toward God it doesn’t matter what you teach our young people, they will see through your teaching. The fear of the LORD is not passed on by just teaching. It is passed on by doing. …fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you… 2) an attitude of obedience… There is a phrase that I heard often as a child and I must admit that I probably have used it as well, “Do as I say and not as I do.” I have a question for you. Are you obedient to God because you have to be or because you want to be? Do you see the difference? You can be obedient because you have to be or else faith the wrath of God… That is not biblical Christianity. That is legalistic religion. But if you are obedient because you love the LORD – now that’s real Christianity and is reflective of the relationship you have with Jesus. Now I said that to say this – your attitude toward obedience will be seen by the young people you minister to not so much in what you say but in the way you say it. You see, if we are trying to teach children by telling them, “Don’t do this or don’t do that…” or by speaking negative words to them all the time, it is probably a reflection of the way we see our relationship with God. You will speak according to your attitude. Matthew 12:24 says, “…out of the overflow (abundance) of the heart the mouth speaks.” I know a woman who had four children. As soon as number four came along the husband said, “see you later.” And left her with the four kids. Now it was hard for her to try to raise her family and work forty hours a week. In her case it was easier for her to yell at her kids rather than to discipline or reason with them and talk about what they were doing. She dealt with her children out of the frustrations that she had inside of her. She didn’t know the LORD at that time. Now she does. Now her speech flows with the grace of God and the relationship she has with Him. Ephesians 6:4, 4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. 3) an attitude of expectancy… If you expect those you are teaching to respond to you, then you must have an attitude of expectancy. 3 Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you. If children see that you are just saying words without really expecting to see anything happen, what does that say to them about the word of God? You see, expectancy is the cornerstone of faith. Romans 4:16, Therefore, the promise comes by faith… 18-21, 18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. If you want to pass on to the next generation the very promises of God, you must convince them with your attitudes that God’s promises are real and true. You will teach children more with your attitudes than any other way.