Teach Your Children

Bill Cherry
Feast of Tabernacles - Seaside, Oregon
Day 5:  October 5, 2012

Note: This was a recorded sermonette that was originally given on September 26th 2002 at the Church of the Great God Feast site at Topeka, Kansas, U.S.A.

Greetings to you all and I hope that you are having a wonderful Feast of Tabernacles.

Please take your Bibles and turn to Matthew 3.  These words were spoken by our God about His Son:

Matthew 3:17:
And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

God made an audible voice out of heaven saying that He was well pleased with what His Son was doing on the earth.  

And we, when we look at our children, when they do things that exhibit godly traits and godly character, we say to ourselves  and even maybe to other people: “These are my children and I am well pleased with what they are doing.”

God’s Word tells us how to teach our children and give them traits that will lead and guide them into God’s Kingdom.

Today we are going to read a familiar scripture passage which tells us how we can teach our children; and how we can given them godly traits.  Some of you have probably already turned there:

Deuteronomy 6:
5:  And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 
6:  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart.

Right off the bat, God tells us that we have to have a passion for Him!  We have to love God with all our hearts with our total being.  We have to put His Word in our hearts.

Does this sound like we must do a lot of Bible study and reading?  Does it sound like we must memorize the scriptures, enjoy singing them, and maybe even make up songs about them?  Do we make God's Word a central focal point of our lives, where and when we do things  that we have these words ringing in our ears and giving us guidelines of conduct and how we should treat people?  When we live it, we experience the abundant life, the excitement and the joy from obeying God’s laws.  How great that kind of life is!  

That is the first step.  We should have a passion and a love for God.  David was a great example of one who had a passion for God.  He sat in the beautiful wilderness; he saw the beautiful flowers and the great creation and he wrote many beautiful hymns praising God and expressing his confidence and trust in God.  He trusted God for deliverance in all things.  

When he saw Goliath shaking his fist at the armies of Israel, saying, “I defy you to give a man as a champion to stand up against me, Goliath,” David said, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that dares to shake his fist and defy the armies of the living God?”  He went before Saul and he told him that he would fight him.  He said, “God delivered me from the lion and the bear; and God will deliver me from this giant.  I don’t need a sword, a shield or a spear, because I know that God will deliver me.”

When he came before Goliath who was twice David’s size, shaking his fist at David and cursing the God of Israel, saying, "Why has this dog come out before me," David was not afraid.  David was angry at a man that would say these things about God.  David said, “You come with a sword, a shield and a spear; but I come in the name of the LORD God of Israel, whose armies you defy.”  He told Goliath that he would smite him and take his head off.  David didn’t even have his stone in his sling yet.  It says that he reached his hand for the stone after he started running towards Goliath.  He did exactly what he said he would do; and you know the rest of the story.  David did this because he had a passion and a love for God.  David had a confidence in God, because He trusted God in everything that He did, and his mind and heart was on God.

We should have a passion for God!  When we do develop a passion for God, and when we put His words in our heart, we have something to give to our children.  We can give them our example of righteous living.  We can give them our knowledge of the scriptures, and share it with them.  We can give them confidence, faith and love.  We can give them guidelines for them to use along the way in their lives:

Deuteronomy 6:7:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

If you were to diagram this sentence, you would see that it has two branches.  It says "You shall teach" and "You shall talk."  They are two different facets.  We will talk about them in a few minutes; but the verse tells you what to teach: teaching them the Word of God.

Moses was talking here specifically about the Ten Commandments; but we certainly understand and project that we have this whole Word; and God intends for us to live by it and to teach it diligently to our children. 

How do we teach diligently?  It takes perseverance, drive, consistency and planning.  To me, it sounds like He is telling us that we should be teaching our children every day.  When you sit, walk, rise, and in virtually every facet of your life, you should have eye-to-eye contact with your children in conversation with them and talking to them. 

Teaching, by definition, is that you have a set time that you are going to teach; and a set place.  The teacher is designated and the students are designated.  So it is a planned activity; and the teaching is much like a Spokesman’s Club speech.  You have to have a specific purpose statement (S.P.S.)  a one sentence idea of what you are going to teach; and everything you say should be directed to getting across that point. 

I would say that, for young children especially, the teaching is probably more effective if it is brief.  Maybe reading a Bible verse and letting it be "the memory verse for today," or something like that.  Show them by an illustration how it happened and how they can apply it to their lives.  

Maybe something like the verse in Exodus that says, “I am the LORD that heals you.”  Tell them the story about when Paul was shipwrecked on a Mediterranean island with the other prisoners.  Instead of saying, “Woe is me!” he encouraged them and told them that God was going to deliver them.  He went out and gathered wood and encouraged them to do so.  But a poisonous serpent bit him on the hand.  This was a poisonous serpent that would normally kill a man; but Paul shook it off into the fire, and he was healed instantly. 

You might want to tell it before bedtime.  Maybe every night before you put them to bed, you can read the Bible and talk about it.  Let this be the last image that goes into their minds before they go to sleep  that God protects the righteous and that God will protect them if they are righteous. 

You might do it before or after meals.  You might do it in the morning.  The idea is that God wants us to have a specific time to teach our children.  

Teaching is a planned activity at a set time.  It is not accepted if it is not expected.  You can’t interrupt your child, when they are doing something else and tell them, "We are now going to study the Bible."  They will know that every day at a certain time you are going to read God’s Word, because it will give them direction and purpose and it will tell them how to be happy. 

Your idea in talking is to listen!  You need to listen to your child, and you need to know their minds and hearts.  You need to talk to them about everything and to try to understand exactly how they feel and how they think. 

Then you may guide the conversation to God’s Word  or you may not!  It might be that, in the conversation, with your knowledge of scripture or your experience with trying to apply the scriptures, you can say, “I had a man angry with me at work, and I used a soft answer and it turned away his wrath.”  You can tell them that, if they have somebody angry with them, they can do the same thing.  

It says. "When you sit in your house or when you lie down and when you rise up."  This suggests that you spend much time with your children.  It is even more important to spend time with your teenagers, because they are bombarded from the media that tells them, "There is a generation gap and you are not supposed to listen to your parents."  They get negative things that come from this world, and so talking is listening!  

You should stop everything that you are doing, look them in the eye and talk with them.  Plan activities where you walk with them and sit with them doing housework or in the yard raking leaves – anywhere you can talk about things.

Casual conversation is where you try to understand your child.  If you can give them any guidance with the scriptures, then that is when to do it.  You do it by spending time with your children.

I was associated with camps which had a Christian biblical background.  Most of these camps had a time when they would get all of the campers up and they would have morning "devotion."  A scripture would be read and an application would be made.  They would tell a brief story and at the end of the day the counsellors would take their group of kids and talk with them.  Some camps even had a mid-day worship service every day.  

Did this saturation of religious instruction turn the campers off?  It did not!... because the camps were filled with interesting and wonderful activities like horseback riding, archery, horseshoes, tennis and many other activities that children love.  During the time spent with each other, they knew that they were to be kind, honest, and thy were to do the things that are in the Ten Commandments.  The camp focused on God’s Word and used it as a guideline for behaviour. 

I want to tell you about a man who predestined his child to become a professional baseball player.  Some of you have heard of Mickey Mantle.  Maybe some of you haven’t.  He was a famous baseball player and he played for the New York Yankees.  He could switch-hit and he could wallop that ball right over the fence to the right hand side and whack it over the fence to the left hand.  He was very skilful with his glove, he could run fast and beat the ball to first base.  He had these baseball skills  not by accident, but because his father predestined him to be a baseball player!

Before Mickey was born, his father said, “I am going to have a boy and he is going to be a professional baseball player.”  He walked in the house one day and they told him that he had a child.  He said, “It’s a boy!”  They said, “How do you know?”  He said, “It’s a boy and he is going to be a baseball player!” 

While Mickey was a little baby in the crib, his father would put baseballs in the crib and say, “Son, you see these balls?  One day you are going to knock them out of Yankee stadium!  You are going to throw these balls very fast and throw people out.  And you are going to run fast.”  He was talking baseball all the time; and when Mickey was very little, he taught him to hold the ball; then to run and to bat.  His grandfather would stick the bat in one hand and say, “Okay, you hit from this side.”  His father would stick it in the other hand and say, “Okay you hit from this side.”  So from birth he was a switch-hitter.  That is the way it happened, because Mickey Mantle’s father put baseball in his heart.  And he taught it diligently to his child in virtually every facet of his life.  Mickey’s father told him that he was going to be a professional baseball player; and he had to beg and beg his father to be able to get permission to play high-school football!

We must diligently teach our children and tell them how great it is going to be in God’s Kingdom.  We must show them what is going to happen when they apply God’s Laws, and point out the things that they can do and accomplish, within the realm of God’s Laws.  We can show them how wonderful activities are when they are done correctly.  

Our children will not be turned off when we teach them God’s Word if we teach them by our example and if we teach them without hypocrisy. 

If we are sitting on the couch reading the newspaper and say, “Come here son; let me talk to you; I want you to look me straight in the eye when I am talking to you,” they are going to be turned off. 

And if you say, “Son, you shouldn’t SHOUT at people, you should be KIND to people... and don’t act like a JAR-HEAD!”... (Bill is shouting and talking mean here)... they are going to be turned off. 

But if we look them in the eye and stop everything, listen and talk with them, we are saying, “I love you, and you are more important than this newspaper, this Internet” or whatever you are doing. 

If you are talking with an adult, you may excuse yourself, bend down and say a little something to your child like, “Well honey, I will talk to you in just a minute; I am talking to Mr. Jones.”  When you do this you show your child that you care about them and that you love them. 

This is part of teaching diligently to your children.  You do it because you love God’s law, because you love God, you put His Word in your heart, and you have something to give to your children.

As parents, we have a unique opportunity  something that no one else can do  a relationship with our children.  We can teach them the love of God, the knowledge of His Word; and we can show them by pointing out and helping them in their life, the joy and the happiness that comes from living God’s way.  We can give our children a wall of protection of faith in God that is going to help them quench the fiery darts of this world which is full of selfishness, strife and false ideas. 

We might ask ourselves this question: “If we don’t teach our children the Word of God and the way of God, who will?”