Our series this week, entitled “Train Up A Child”. Is an opportunity for each of us to consider carefully from God’s Word, the principles of Christian parenting. We have just concluded a two-part study, entitled, “Lead On”, how? “Softly”. And we’ve been considering in that two part study, the roles of the father and the mother. Now I recognize that we have been looking at ideals. And sometimes when we consider the ideal, it can be a bit overwhelming, when we recognize how far short we fall.
But brothers and sisters, is that a valid reason not to consider the ideal? Oh no. And besides, with God’s forgiving and enabling grace, ideals should NEVER be discouraging. They should be exciting and challenging and thrilling. Because we know a God, who by His amazing grace makes up for our unavoidable deficiencies, and by the power of His Spirit, enables us to press on towards the mark. If we recognize that we fall short, as father and mother, let us confess that to the Lord, receive His forgiveness, get up and press on. Press on towards the mark, knowing that His grace is sufficient. His grace IS SUFFICIENT.
We would like at this point in our series, to move into a consideration of 4 major techniques, that parents can and must learn to use in training up their children.
Four major techniques.
Number 1. By precept. That’s instruction in principles. And that will be our study today, both this morning and this evening, in another two part series.
Number 2. By example. That is modeling a life lived in harmony with the precepts, with the principles.
Number 3. Restraint. I like to call this, preventive discipline. Help through the right use of parental authority to restrain our children, from indulging their inherited, or cultivated tendencies to wrong.
Number 4. The Rod and Reproof. This is corrective discipline. The rod and reproof are at times, necessary corrective measures, if our restraining efforts have failed. If our children have willfully disregarded our preventive disciplinary measures, we at times must exercise, corrective disciplinary measures, we must at times, use the rod and reproof.
I just gave you there an outline of the studies that lie ahead. This morning, as I indicated, we will deal with, major technique #1, precept, instruction in principles. The title of this presentation is “Teach Them Diligently”. And before we turn to that text, from which we have taken the title, let’s again, invite, indeed, plead for the outpouring of God’s Spirit upon us as we study God’s Word this morning. Shall we kneel?
Father God, not because we seek to convince You, but because we seek to prepare our own hearts, we come to ask for Your Spirit. We know that You long to give us Your Spirit. But we also recognize that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked and we tend to be deceived as to our need of spiritual discernment. Please open our eyes and help us see that in and of ourselves, we have not the capacity to understand the truth to the point of freedom. So grant us that supernatural capacity I pray Father, in the Person and by the power of Your Spirit, come into each heart, and energize us, quicken our faculties, that sin has so terribly damaged, and enable us to see the truth as it is in Jesus. And help us Father to experience it’s power. To free us from our natural bondage to sin and self and Satan. And liberate us, to a Christlike life, especially in the area of parenting. Oh Father, You have asked me to lift up Jesus Christ. The truth as it is in Him, to proclaim it. But Father I have not the capacity in and of myself to do that, but I’m trusting You to enable me to do what You have asked me to do. I have NO OTHER HOPE, except for your condescension to use me for the glory of Jesus. I give You myself to that end. Please, for Jesus’ sake, work a miracle. In His name I ask it. AMEN.
The text from which the title of this two part presentation is taken is Deut 6:5-7. Let’s pick it up with verse 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” Verse 5 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might, and these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.” Verse 7 “you shall TEACH THEM DILIGENTLY to your children, and shall talk to them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
What is the antecedent to the pronoun, “them,” in our title, “Teach Them Diligently”? Is it the children? No, not in this context. Of course we are to teach our children diligently, but what is the antecedent to that pronoun? His words, particularly as it is summed up in the phrase “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.” This is, as Jesus indicated later, the essence of God’s law. And of course, Christ added the second part “and your neighbor as your self”.
The “them”, in “teach them diligently”, then refers to the fundamental principles of God’s law. Principles, this is what we are to teach our children. Principles, that by these principles understood and appreciated, our children might learn to govern themselves. Again I want to repeat that. That by an understanding of and an appreciation for these principles, our children might learn to govern themselves. And what does it mean to govern one’s self?
Prov 4:23 to govern one’s self, is to learn to “keep your heart with all diligence”. Where is a man? “As a man thinketh in his heart, to is he” (Prov 23:7). If we are to are to exercise self-control, we must then be able to control our thoughts and feelings, our CHARACTER, must be under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, if we are to truly have self-control. Brothers and sisters, we cannot overemphasize this fact. Self control does not consist of only in making one’s behavior comply with the letter of the law. Self-control must reach to the spirit, to the mind, to the thoughts and feelings. And it must involve bringing every thought into captivity. Or as we’re told in 2 Cor 10:5 to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”.
Only when our children learn to bring their thoughts and feelings, into harmony with the principles of God’s Word, will they begin to develop a Christlike character. And the character development process is learning to bring more and more constantly and consistently and completely, our thoughts and feelings, into harmony with the principles of God’s Word, that’s character development.
But you see parents, where we come into the picture, is not bringing the thoughts into captivity, we can’t do that can we? That’s the child’s work. But where we do come into the picture is in diligently teaching the child those principles, that he then, might learn with God’s help to bring his thoughts and feelings into harmony with them. That’s what we are to teach diligently– principles, the principles of God’s Word that by them, our children might learn to regulate their thoughts and feelings–develop a Christ-like character.
In the book CT 20 “Old and young are to form habits of thought”, please note what we are taking about here. Are we talking about behavior habits? No, we’re talking about something much more basis than behavior patterns. What are we talking about? Thought patterns. This is where character is, up here. What goes on out here, is only, but not always, a manifestation of what goes on up here. Is it possible to have the appearance of a Christlike character, but not really have a Christlike character? What did Jesus say? “White-washed sepulchres” (Matt 23:27). Beautiful on the outside, but inside what? Full of all corruption and dead mans bones.
Oh brothers and sisters, God forbid that we should train our children to be hypocrites. Which we can do if we fail to recognize that character goes on up here, not out here. If we fail to equip them with principles, we fail to help them develop a Christlike character. We may get them by the exercise of authority, to comply at the level of behavior, but have we helped them develop a character? Not necessarily. Not unless we have taught as well, the principles behind the rules and regulations and challenged them to appreciate those and bring their own thoughts and feelings into harmony with them. That’s our mission parents. It’s not an easy task, but it’s an absolutely necessary one.
Let’s go back to our statement. CT 20 “Old and young are to form habits of thought that will enable them to resist temptation. They must learn to look upward. The PRINCIPLES of the Word of God–principles that are as high as heaven and that compass eternity–are to be understood in their bearing on the daily life. EVERY ACT, EVERY WORD, EVERY THOUGHT, is to be in accord with these principles.” That right there is the grand objective of every Christian for that is precisely what it means to perfect a Christlike character.
But do you see, dear brother, dear sister, it is impossible for our children to even begin to bring “every act, every word, every thought” into harmony with the principles of the Word of God, until they understand what those principles are and how they apply to the daily practical life. And that is precisely what we are to teach. Teach them diligently. This is our work to inculcate the principles of God’s Word in the minds of our children to inscribe them, to engrave them, to permanently and indelibly imprint them on their impressionable minds. Or to go back to our earlier illustration, this is the foundation isn’t it? That we are to lay, that the child may then build his character temple, under the supervision of the Holy Spirit. We are to lay the foundation, give them the blue print, and that means to teach them diligently the principles of God’s Word.
Let’s define principles. What do we mean when we use the word principle? I would suggest that principles, are basic, underlying laws of our being, that govern the way that we function, in every dimension, be it mental, spiritual, physical or social. Rules and regulations, do’s and don’ts, are practical, specific applications, of principles to govern everyday behavior. Do’s and Don’ts and principles are not the same thing.
Our exhortation, our do’s, parents. And our prohibitions, our don’ts, must be understood as they relate to principle, before our children can truly appreciate them, and intelligently accept them. Did you hear what we said there? This is so important.
Let me illustrate with a specific “do and a don’t”, that are based on a fundamental principle, that we have often repeated to our children. They are strongly exhorted to spend time, significant time, the first and best time of the day, getting to know Jesus, by reading about Him, in the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy; and by observing the way He reveals Himself in nature. They are also prohibited to spend any time reading comics, novels, watching television, movies, listening to rock music, etc. Now those are specific do’s and don’ts, those are rules and regulations in our home. But if I fail to help my children recognize the principle behind those, the only basis upon which they can except them is daddy’s authority. I have to help them see the principle behind, and what is the principle behind, what is the basic underlying law, that these rules are applications of? In beholding we are changed–changed into the likeness of what we behold. Therefore, behold Christ, therefore don’t behold the things of this world. Do you see?
Now brothers and sisters, we have fallen miserably short, in our efforts to teach our children if we only give them rules and regulations and fail to help them understand the principles behind those. When we help them understand the principles behind those, then they can intelligently, and willingly obey the rules. They can appreciate them, they make sense to them. And it is not hard to help a child understand that principle, in beholding we are changed. We are changed into the likeness of what? Of that which we behold.
Our tendency, and it’s typical of a child when we give him a rule or a regulation, to say why? Why? Bless their hearts, they ought to know. And do you know what we often say in response? BECAUSE I SAID SO. Oh brothers and sisters, how miserably we’ve failed our children. Now at times, I grant you, and there are things that daddy has told his little boys, don’t, and they’re not in a position now to understand why. But when I’ve told them that, I tell them, now when you get older daddy will be able to let you know why, but for now you’re going to have to trust daddy. Because you can’t understand these things now. I’ll explain it to you just as soon as you’re old enough to understand it. But please accept it from daddy, he loves you and he wants to protect you. And I’ll tell you why it’s so important not to do that, when you get a little older.
There are occasions when that’s necessary, but brothers and sisters, lets do all we can to inform our children as to underlying principles as soon as they are capable of understanding. As soon as they are capable of understanding. Thus and only thus are we really laying a foundation for them to build a Christlike character upon. Only thus are we fulfilling our commission to teach them diligently, principles.
Now part one of this two part presentation, I’ d like to consider with you, How. How we teach these principles diligently. And part two, I’d like to consider What principles we are to teach. We will study together, some of the basic fundamental principles that apply particularly to character development.
To parents, all parents, there is a command and a promise given, that I would like you to consider with me. It’s found in Prov 22:6. It’s a familiar verse to us, in fact it’s the verse from which we take the title of this series. Prov 22:6, a command and a promise, here’s the command, “Train up a child in the way he should go”. Here’s the promise, “and when he is old he will not depart from it”. Oh that’s a marvelous promise isn’t it?
But brothers and sisters, all promises are conditional. And the condition for this promise, is obedience to the command that says, “Train up a child in the way he should go”. Let’s take a close look at that condition.
“Train up”, that expression in the Hebrew is an interesting one. There are three ideas communicated in that word “train up” in the Hebrew.
The first idea or meaning, is that of dedication. This is the meaning of the word in other old testament passages, such as Deut 20:5, 1 Ki 8:63. Child training, in other words must begin with dedication of the child to the Lord, in acknowledgement of His ownership and an acceptance of parental responsibility as stewards. This I would suggest, is step number one in the child training process, dedication. It involves a realization and acknowledgement to God that the child is not your own His and that you are, by His appointment, a steward, entrusted with the most sacred and important task of helping that child learn to give glory to God for time and eternity.
The second meaning of the word “train up”, is instruction. Instruction. This is the meaning of the word in Jewish writings. Child training in other words includes, thorough and systematic instruction in principle, that will enable a child to glorify God. What does it mean to glorify God? “To reveal His character in our own” (7BC 979) To glorify God in every dimension of his being, mental, spiritual, social, and even what? Physical. “Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” for “You are not your own, for you were bought at a price”. (1 Cor 6:19,20)
The third sense of the word “train up”, is the word motivation. Dedication, Instruction, Motivation. This is the meaning of the word in the Arabic. And it is used to describe the action of a mid-wife who stimulates the palate of the new-born babe, so it will take nourishment. Thus, parents, co-operating with the Holy Spirit, are to strive to develop within the child a spiritual motivation. A hungering and thirsting after righteousness. To develop a passionate desire to know and do God’s will that they might be able to say with Christ, “My meat, is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work”. (John 4:34) To help our children come to experience with Christ this motivation is part of what it means to train them up.
Home, home is where this process must go on brothers and sisters. Home is, and affords the greatest educational opportunity. It’s the first school. CT 107 “In His wisdom the Lord has decreed that the family shall be the greatest of all educational agencies. It is in the home that the education of the child is to begin. Here is his first school. Here, with his parents as instructors, he is to learn the lessons that are to guide him throughout life–lessons of respect, obedience, reverence, self-control. The educational influences of the home are a decided power for good or for evil.” Did you get that list? “Respect, obedience, reverence, self-control” and where are these lessons to be taught? In the home. It is there where this “training up” process– this effort, to dedicate, to instruct, to motivate, takes place.
Who is to be “trained up” at home? The English says a child. In the Hebrew, that word, a child, is in reference to a dependent. A dependent. In other words, as long as our children, are dependent upon us, we are to train them up, we are to dedicate them, instruct them and motivate them. But of course the most effective time to train them is in their early years
MH 380 “To much importance cannot be placed upon the early training of children. The lessons learned, the habits formed, during the years of infancy and childhood, have more to do with the formation of the character and the direction of the life than have all the instruction and training of after years”. You see, you see it is when they are the most dependent upon us, that they are the most susceptible to long lasting impressions. That’s why we must not delay to take full advantage of our opportunity.
CG 193 “Too much importance cannot be placed on the early training of children. The lessons that the child learns during the first seven years of life have more to do with forming his character than ALL that it learns in future years”. You’re familiar with that statement. “The first the first seven years”. Those first years, are more influential than ALL future years. No wonder we’re told in CT 158 “The tender years of childhood are years of heavy responsibility for fathers and mothers”.
You see parents, we are laying foundations, that will determine, largely, the shape of that character structure, that will be built for the remaining years of the child’s like. CG 199 “The character is formed, to a great extent, in early years. The habits then established have more influence than any natural endowment, in making men either giants or dwarfs in intellect; for the very best talents may, through wrong habits, become warped and enfeebled. The EARLIER in life one contracts hurtful habits, the MORE FIRMLY will they hold their victim in slavery, and the more certainly will they lower his standard of spirituality. On the other hand, if correct and virtuous habits are formed in youth, they will generally mark the course of the possessor through life. In most cases, it will be found that those who in later life reverence God and honor the right learned that lesson BEFORE there was time for the world to stamp its images of sin upon the soul. Those of mature age are generally as insensible to new impressions as is the hardened rock, but youth is impressible”. “YOUTH IS IMPRESSIBLE”.
Brothers and sisters, let’s take ADVANTAGE of that fact, let’s train up our children while they are dependent upon us, and oh how dependent they are, for a solid foundation, based upon the principles of God’s Word.
What is the content of our training, that we are to give our children? The text says, “in the way he should go”. And the thought here, is that, as the child progresses in his journey of life, the parents are to continually be there, to dedicate, to instruct, and to motivate the child. To do and be all the Lord has equipped him to do, and called him to be. This is what it means to instruct, in the way that he should go.
The content, again, of our instruction, is principle. The principles of God’s Word. These are the guide posts that mark the way, that he should go. AA 475 “In EVERY generation and in EVERY land, the true foundation for character building has been the same—THE PRINCIPLES CONTAINED IN THE WORD OF GOD.” What is the TRUE FOUNDATION? “The principles contained in the Word of God.”
The Jesuits say, give me a child until he is seven, and anyone, can have him after that. And there’s a lot of truth to that. You see brothers and sisters, what does the promise say? “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. Those first seven years, if you do your job, “when he is old, he will not depart from it”, that’s the promise. That IS the promise. But please note the condition.
ST Apr 16, 1896, “Children are susceptible to moral and spiritual impressions, and those who are wisely trained in childhood may be erring at times, but THEY WILL NOT GO FAR ASTRAY”. That’s the promise. “And when he is old, he will not depart from it”. When he is old, what does that mean? That’s best understood in contrast to Train up a child, and what is a child? A DEPENDENT. When he is old then, is when he is INDEPENDENT. When he leaves your parental authority, if you have rightly trained him, and equipped him with principles, he will not reject that authority, because he has made that authority HIS OWN. And he may be erring at times, but he will not go far astray. He will not go far astray.
But please note that the promise is conditional. I read that same statement a little further, “But a child left to form its own character is more likely to choose evil influences than good.” We can’t claim the promise, unless we meet, by God’s enabling grace, the conditions.
When does this training begin? When can we start?
CG 26 “Education begins with the infant in its mother’s arms. While the mother is molding and fashioning the character of her children, she is educating them.” Now mothers, please note, that you are educating your child, it’s going on. You’re “molding and fashioning” their character. The only question is what character are you molding and fashioning? What education are you giving them? Are you letting nature take its course? What is the course of nature? What is the natural inherited tendency of that child? It’s a bent to evil. If you’re letting nature take its course, you’re educating them to self-indulgence, which will invariably lead to self destruction. But, if you, by Gods grace, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are striving to teach principles to the child, right when they’re in your arms, and we’ll consider how that can be done later, you are countering nature in the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, and you are enabling that child to walk in the way that God would have him walk.
Again CG 26 “As soon as a child is capable of forming an idea, his education should begin”. As soon as he is capable of forming an idea, his education should begin.
Who are the teachers in this education process? The visible teachers are parents. Especially, the mother, but who is THE teacher in this process? Jesus Christ.
ST May 14, 1894 “The Christian family is to be a school of Christ, where parents are to be the visible teachers, but Christ himself the great invisible teacher. The lessons which Christ imparts to the parents they are to repeat to their children, line upon line and precept upon precept”. Parents, please recognize that if you are to instruct with authority, your instruction MUST originate from God. For He ALONE is the supreme authority. If you and I are the author of our instructions, do they have authority? No. But if God is the author of our instructions, they have authority. Because He authored them, and He is the SUPREME authority. That is why in this education process, He is the great invisible teacher. We go to HIM for those principles to instruct to our children, we don’t go to our own resources. If we speak on our own initiative our words are without authority. But if we go to the supreme source of authority, we do speak with TRUE authority.
Training our children, parents, is to be our FIRST PRIORITY. Listen to this statement. AH 183 “Every child brought into the world is the property of Jesus Christ, and should be educated by precept and example to love and obey God; but by far the largest number of parents have neglected their God-given work, by failing to educate and train their children, from the first dawning of reason, to know and love Christ. By painstaking effort parents are to watch the opening, receptive mind and make EVERYTHING in the home life SECONDARY to the positive duty enjoined upon them by God—to TRAIN THEIR CHILDREN in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”. What is our first priority, brothers and sisters? TEACHING OUR CHILDREN THE PRINCIPLES OF GODS WORD. Oh that we would recognize the vital importance of this.
Where is the best classroom, for this educational process? Outdoors, outdoors. Parents are the best teachers, outdoors is the best classroom.
Listen to this statement. FE 156, 157 “Do not send your little ones away to school to early. The mother should be careful how she trusts the molding of the infant mind to other hands. Parents ought to be the best teachers of their children until they have reached 8 or 10 years of age. Their schoolroom should be the open air, amid the flowers and birds, and their textbook the treasure of nature. As fast as their minds can comprehend it, the parents should open before them God’s great book of nature. These lessons, given amid such surroundings, will not soon be forgotten”.
Oh brothers and sisters, may I highly recommend to you, gardening as one of the most effective, enjoyable and rewarding means of communicating principles to your children. Gardening, my wife and I, love to get out and garden with our children. It’s great therapy from the physical dimension alone, but there are TREMENDOUS SPIRITUAL blessings to be had in gardening. Some of these concepts that we’ve been studying this week already. The fact that the ground was cursed, and naturally produces weeds. Do you see the potential to teach your children what by nature they’ve inherited as you get out there and garden? The fact that GOOD seeds, have to be purchased and brought in and planted. Do you see the object lesson there? Oh it’s all there. And it’s in such tangible concrete terms that, bless their hearts, they can understand it.
This concept of beholding. In beholding, we’re changed. Go to your garden. Ask them, of all the flowers, which one looks the most like the sun. Which one is it? The sun-flower. Why Stevie? Why Ryan? Because the sun-flower is the one that always beholds the sun. It’s always beholding the sun. It turns and is always looking to the SUN of righteousness. And if we’re always looking to Jesus, we’ll look like Him too. In beholding, we’re changed. Can A child understand that. Why of course a child can. You’re teaching principles from nature, in tangible, concrete ways that they can grasp. Tremendous are the opportunities, and the potential to instruct in gardening. Oh I challenge you, make that a classroom. Make that a classroom. I’d love to explore this further but I dare not, we have just a few minutes left, but there are so many object lessons. Pray for spiritual discernment.
You see, nature is Gods revelation. It’s now damaged on account of sin, but God initially intended to communicate what He is like to us, through nature. But to here what he has said to us through nature takes spiritual discernment. Pray before you go out and garden. Just as you prayed before you opened Gods second book, (chronologically speaking anyway) pray before you seek to understand Him in His FIRST book, nature. And He’ll give you that supernatural discernment and enable you to see beautiful principles of His Word, in its pages.
The supreme textbook of course for parents, as teachers, is the students supreme textbook as well, the Word of God. AH 184 “In order to be teachers, parents must be learners, gathering light constantly from the oracles of God and by precept and example bringing this precious light into the education of their children”. Where did they get these principles? “from the oracles of God”.
CT 108 “The Bible should be the child’s FIRST textbook.” What “should be the child’s first textbook”? “The Bible”. Let me insert a little parenthetical thought here. Melissa, my precious wife, has just completed a whole learning activity designed to teach our children to read. And do you know what the text is? Genesis one and two. They’re going to learn how to read with the first chapters of scripture. And as you read those first chapters, you’ll find that the language is beautifully simple and I believe that God designed it that way, for therein are fundamental lessons for our children to learn.
Why not teach them to read from the Bible? So that their first satisfaction of learning how to read is connected with Gods Word. Tremendous potential of getting them on the right track. Back to our statement, (CT 108, 109) “The Bible should be the child’s first textbook. From this book, parents are to give wise instruction. The Word of God is to be made the rule of the life. From it the children are to learn that God is their Father; and from the beautiful lessons of His word they are to gain a knowledge of His character. Through the inculcation of its principles, they are to learn to do justice and judgment”.
That’s the only way brothers and sisters, that their behavior will be in harmony with Gods will. As those principles are inculcated, in their young impressionable minds. But remember, we must always seek to take the meat and turn it into milk. And mothers, this is where you, I believe, are especially gifted and equipped by God.
CT 109 “Parents, let the instruction you give your children be simple, and be sure that it is clearly understood. The lessons that you learn from the word you are to present to their young minds so plainly that they cannot fail to understand. By simple lessons drawn from the word of God and their own experience, you may teach them how to conform their lives to the highest standard. Even in childhood and youth they may learn to live thoughtful, earnest lives that will yield a rich harvest of good.”
Is this not Timothy’s experience? 2 Timothy, turn with me there.
2 Tim 3:14, “But as for you,” this is in reference to Timothy, who as we’re told in chapter 1:5, was the recipient of the faith from his mother, and his grandmother. Oh mothers, do you see your potentials, to shape destinies? Verse 14, chapter 3 “But as for you, (Timothy) continue in the things”, do what? Continue in them. Where did they start? “which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them. (verse 15) and that from CHILDHOOD you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus”. “from CHILDHOOD”.
Brothers and sisters, I challenge you, to do all you can to make your children familiar with Jesus as He’s revealed in Scripture, from the earliest years. 8T320 “The knowledge of God as revealed in His word is the knowledge to be given to our children. From the earliest dawn of reason they should be made familiar with the name and the life of Jesus. The very first lesson given them should be that God is their Father. Their very first training should teach them to render loving obedience. Reverently and tenderly let the word of God be read and repeated to them, in portions suited to their comprehension and adapted to awaken their interest. Above all, let them learn of His love revealed in Christ, and its great lesson: ‘If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.’”
(1 John 4:11).
Oh there are some excellent ways to familiarize our children with Jesus, as He’s revealed in the Word.
First of all, as has been indicated in that statement, read selected portions of scripture that are suitable to their comprehension. And there are very simple stories in scripture.
I would suggest that an appropriate way as well, which is implied in the phrase, “adapted to awaken interest”. Is some of the Bible stories that have been prepared. These are scriptural stories, but adapted for the younger mind. We like to use these.
A third way, that I would HIGHLY recommend, and I found to very, very helpful, with our own children, is to get for them, scripture on tape. Some years ago now, I think it was when Stevie was 5 years old. For Christmas, Melissa and I got him a set of tapes of the New Testament. Slightly dramatized, very tastefully, with some music in the background. Stevie and Ryan have spent HOURS, listening to those tapes. They LOVE them, and they have listened to them OVER and OVER again. In fact, they have listened to them for such periods of time, and so frequently, that if you get Stevie started on certain of the passages in the New Testament, he can repeat, verbatim, whole passages, almost word for word. Just by having heard them, over and over again. I highly recommend this, brothers and sisters.
Cassette tapes, the particular ones that we have, are the New International Version, which I don’t strongly recommend as a study Bible, but I believe is certainly appropriate for children, for this purpose. Bible study with the children. Make it as attractive as possible.
And as we study, let’s always seek to point out principles, precepts, ok? And then look for examples as well. Good examples of those who obeyed principles, and thereby reap the inherent blessings. Did you note the word there, what kind of blessings? Inherent blessings, oh this is a vital principle to teach our children, and we’ll get to that in part two.
Gods blessings and Gods curses, are NOT ARBITRARY, they are INHERENT. They are part of a cause, effect relationship. This is vitally important to help our children understand. Point out the principles and the examples. The good examples, those who obeyed the principles, and reaped the inherent blessings, and the bad examples too. Scripture’s full of those, isn’t it? Those who disobeyed the principles, reap the inherent what? Curse. And then help them to reason from cause to effect. And strive to help them make personal relevant applications to their own experience. I know that we don’t have time to illustrate here but these are concepts that I would like you to strive to apply.
Another point that we need to close with, is that our teaching techniques with our children, may need to be significantly varied from one child to another. Why? Because not all children are cast in the same mold. Though they have the same parents, it’s remarkable how they differ in temperament, isn’t it? Not one technique works for everyone.
ST Dec 20, 1877 “Some [children] may be best influenced through veneration and the fear of God; others through the manifestation of his benevolence and wise providence, calling forth their deep gratitude; others may be more deeply impressed by opening before them the wonders and mysteries of the natural world, with all its delicate harmony land beauty, which speak to their souls of Him who is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and all the beautiful things therein.”
Again from the same article, ST Dec 20, 1877, “Children who are gifted with the talent or love of music many receive impressions that will be life-long, by the judicious use of those susceptibilities as the medium for religious instruction. They may be taught that if they are not right with God they are like a discord in the divine harmony of creation, like an instrument out of tune, giving forth discordant strains more grievous to God than harsh, inharmonious notes are to their own fine musical ear”.
Do you see what she’s saying there? She’s saying, get to know your children, what their special abilities are, what their temperaments are, and then, take advantage of those to communicate to them, spiritual principles. Parents, this is not easy, it takes time, doesn’t it? But it is our FIRST priority, make time, I beg of you, for the sake of your children. Get acquainted with them, find out what works best, and use it with Gods enabling grace.
Again, the same periodical article. “Many may be reached best through sacred pictures, illustrating scenes in the life and mission of Christ. By this means truths may be vividly imprinted upon their minds, never to be effaced”. Oh I can say Amen to that. I have some pictures that my mother has shown me when I was just a tiny tot, that are there and have made an indelible impression upon me, and been a source of spiritual instruction and encouragement all the way through my years.
Now listen to the warning though. “While we have no sympathy for image worship, which is condemned by the law of God, we hold that it is proper to take advantage of that almost universal love of pictures in the young, to fasten in their minds valuable moral truths, to bind the gospel to their hearts by beautiful imagery illustrating the great moral principles of the Bible. Even so our Saviour illustrated His sacred lessons by the imagery found in God’s created works.”
Oh brothers and sisters, what a marvelous and thrilling challenge is ours. Teach them diligently, principles of Gods Word, to our children, that by them, they might have a character that is after the likeness of Jesus Christ. Shall we pray.
Father God, I thank you so much for the nicest work ever given to man, and that is molding and shaping young minds, to come to submit to Your Lordship. Oh Father, help us to teach principles, diligently to our children. Help us to recognize it as our #1 priority, and seek to do the best possible job. With Your blessing, to Your glory, we pray in Jesus’ name. AMEN