Summary: A sermon about giving one’s life to Christ, and the importance of bringing children up in the faith.
By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor of Parkview UMC, Soddy Daisy, TN
Zacchaeus was chief among tax collectors, and I’m sure his parents never would have dreamed that he would turn out the way he did.
You know why?
Because Zacchaus’ name means “Pure” or “Righteous”.
He was given that name as a baby.
Zacchaeus’ mother and father looked down at him and thought he was the most precious little fellow in the world…so they named him “Pure.”
They knew and believed that God had great plans for his life…just like God has great plans for all our lives…so they named him “Righteous”.
And I would imagine that Zacchaeus’ parents probably did the best they could to help Zacchaeus to live into his name.
They probably took him to the Temple.
They probably taught him about God and the Scriptures.
I would imagine they loved him so very much…just like you all who have children love your children!
And through their showing an unconditional love for Zacchaeus…
…I would imagine that Zacchaeus was given just a little glimpse of the kind of love that God has for all people—including himself!
This is one of the reasons that it is of utmost importance that we bring our children to church and Sunday school every week and to Youth Group…whether they feel like it or not!
Christian parents are doing their children a possibly disastrous dis-service when they make coming to church an option.
It wasn’t an option for me.
I didn’t always want to go.
But I am so thankful that my parents made sure I came.
It has made all the difference in my life!!!
All the difference!
Church is one of the most significant places I learned about God’s unconditional love.
And, as you know, we only love God when we find that God loves us!
What a horrible thing to know that there are so many children who do not know…
…have not experienced…
…have not been taught about…
…the God of love…
…within the community of faith…
…the God Who loves them more than they can imagine!
No matter what!!!
When I attended church as a child I was witness to a kind of love and acceptance that the world did not have nor offer.
I knew that there was something better than the backstabbing, conditional fake love of the World!
Please take a good look at the insert in your bulletin this morning…especially if you have children who have not yet joined the church.
We will have a Confirmation Class in February.
This can be a very meaningful experience for the children you are responsible for…
…if your children have not yet gone through a confirmation class…
…as a parent, please make sure they sign up.
They don’t have to join the church, but they should be given this opportunity to learn more of what it’s about.
You are their parents…
…you love them and want what’s best for them.
Pastor and Author, Neil Cole, is doing some amazing ministry.
In his book, Organic Church, Cole writes about a time he decided to have a baptism in the parking lot of a ghetto apartment complex in Los Angeles.
He and other church members brought a barbecue and let the smell of steak grilling over the fire fill the apartments, and lots of people started coming out for the free lunch.
They started singing songs and filled a little kiddie pool with water.
Cole writes, “Curiosity kept everyone watching; in fact, the balconies were filled with onlookers.
We had the new believers sit down in the little pool, and we baptized them in front of everyone.
Then we presented the message of the Gospel and asked if any others wanted to come down and accept Christ and be baptized.
Cole continues to write, “Three more people gave their lives to Christ and were baptized.”
He adds, “Our presence was now well known in the whole neighborhood, and we were being watched closely.”
And this is the really neat part.
Cole writes, “One evening we were sitting in a circle discussing the Bible, I noticed a young woman watching us.
She was not entering into the circle but observing at a distance with her two small kids, simply listening to the Word of God.
As the weeks went on, Juanita eventually worked her way into the meeting.
She would sit quietly and listen to the Scriptures.
A few weeks later we read about the suffering of Christ.
The scourging and crucifixion were described in detail.
Juanita was sitting on the edge of her seat, speechless.
Then I read about the resurrection, and she couldn’t contain herself anymore.
Cole continues, “When I said, ‘He rose from the dead,’ she raised her hand and without hesitation asked, ‘Do you mean His spirit rose, His ghost?”