Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Becoming a Living Testimony of Christ for Our Children

Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

We've focused on our relationship with God and our spouses as areas where we need to spend time and energy during 2012.  This week our attention turns to our children.

I have found in the short time that I have been a mother, that parenting is the toughest job one can do and yet the most enjoyable.  To have the responsibility of helping to mold and develop another person to be of good character and to have strong morals is an awesome undertaking.  It's a Godly assignment that I do not take lightly.

Train Up a Child in the Way He Should Go

In order for us to complete that assignment, we must infuse our children's lives with God in an effort to develop their spirit, their character, and their walk with God.  But if we are expected to pour into our children's lives, we must make sure that our own cups are full with the love of God and His word.

So the first lesson as we think of how to help our children mature in their relationships with God is making sure we, the parents, are continuing to invest in our own Christian development.  Are we reading the Bible, and studying scripture?  Are we going to church, spending time worshipping God and assembling together with other Christians to share the gospel?  Are we walking around with a continual praise on our lips? Through every season...of want and plenty?

Now, I don't mean to imply for us to wait until we are the "perfect Christians" before we share the gospel with our children. We know that will never happen. But we certainly need to be trying to live for God each day.  Setting an example for our children to emulate should be our daily goal.  Yes, we'll always be working to fill our own cups but we must show our children the God in us through our words, our actions and our deeds.  That is the way our children learn at an early age how to have a personal relationship with Christ, and how He becomes real in their lives, and not just someone they hear about only on Sunday at church.

Train Up a Child in the Way He Should Go

Then those words, actions and deeds need to be supported by a strong teaching of God within our home.  We need to teach our children how to pray. We need to teach our children how to read the Bible. We need to teach our children how to praise and worship God. We need to teach our children how to love others. We need to teach our children how to forgive and how to encourage. We need to teach our children how to trust God to take control of our lives.

Of course, in theory, it makes sense. Sharing God and the gospel with our children. But not everyone puts the common sense into practice ON PURPOSE in their home.  Sure, our children might surmise that we're Christians, and they might be able to connect our behavior with our love for day. But I believe that we must tell our children EARLY that the decisions that we make, the walk that we are on, the life that we have chosen is because we follow Christ. And that our expectation is for them to follow Christ too.

I will never forget one time when I heard an acquaintance, who is a Christian, say that she and her husband were going to let her children "discover Jesus on their own." In their thought, the children would then have a genuine connection to God and not one that their parents had "forced" on them. Not  introduce the Savior to their children, but rather let their kids "stumble" upon God? Sound crazy??? That's because it is.

Train Up a Child in the Way He Should Go

As our children's first teachers, it is our DUTY to instill in them a sense of morals and judgment, and a love of God. If we don't, who will? The world? That's not likely to happen.

Why would we have knowledge of the greatest gift that anyone could receive, and never share that gift with them? Why would we just hope that they would "find their way" to it?

Think of it this way. If we knew a person who needed a transplant to save their life and we knew someone who was a perfect match, would we be okay to think, "Oh, I'll let this person discover the match on their own." No, we would never withhold something that could literally save that person's life.

Well, Christ is the only one who can truly save us.  Who can give us life AND save our lives. It is only through Him that we can receive salvation and eternal life. So to not share Him with our children is neglecting their spiritual development. That is why it's critical that we teach our children about Him.

Train Up a Child in the Way He Should Go

But what exactly do we teach them about God? This is the list that I came up with that I hope to instill in my children:

How to FOLLOW Him:  Matthew 16:24 "Then said Jesus to his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."

How to KNOW Him:  Psalm 119:105 "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."

How to TRUST Him:  Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding."

How to PRAISE Him:  Psalm 34:1 "I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth."

How to WORSHIP Him:  Psalm 95:6 "O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker."

How to HEAR Him:  Deuteronomy 4:36 "Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire."
How to OBEY Him: Deuteronomy 11:27 "A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day:"
How to LOVE Him:  Deuteronomy 6:5 "And thou shalt love the LORD they God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."

These are not quick lessons to be taught all at once, but rather ones that I have learned must be interwoven throughout our day and our lives.

And as I mull over the list, the most important point I take away from God's word on sharing with my children, is to let them witness the God in me.  And through that, want to fully discover the God in them.  That is my goal for my children for the year 2012 and beyond!

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