A Good Impresssion

Bible Book: Deuteronomy  6 : 1-9
Subject: Family; Bible; Home; Parental Guidance; Parents; Children, Leading
Introduction

The first institution for the welfare of the human race was the home. This institution preceded government and even preceded the church. We must understand this to fully appreciate how important the family is to the human race, and how very important the family is to God. After all, He is the One who designed the human race and placed us in families.

We are going to be looking today at how parents are to teach truth about life to their children from the Word of God. Now some parents have a difficult time teaching their children. Let me share with you today some actual notes sent to teachers at public schools from parents in one northeastern Pennsylvania school district:

"Dear School: Please ackuse [sic] John for being absent January 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33."

"I kept Billy Home because she had to go Christmas shopping because I didn't know what size she wear."

"My son is under the doctor's care and should not take P.E. Please execute [sic] him."

"Please excuse Joyce from P.E. for a few days. Yesterday she fell out of a tree and misplaced her hip."

"Please excuse Jimmy from being. It was his father's fault."

Former President George Herbert Walker Bush was asked this question, "What is your greatest accomplishment in life?" President Bush might have mentioned his success during World War II as a Navy pilot. He might have called to mind his eight years as Vice President under Ronald Reagan. He might have mentioned his own successful presidency. He might have spoken of his time as the head of the CIA, or of his years as U.S. Ambassador to China. He could have bragged about his success during Operation Desert Storm. But, when answering this question, President Bush revealed his heart as well as his priorities when he said, "My greatest accomplishment is ... my children." And he said that before W became President.

I come to this subject today with a little fear and trembling. First, I do so because I do not believe there are any perfect parents in this world. I remember Eli from the Old Testament. He was not a bad man, in fact he loved the Lord and served Him diligently. Yet, his sons were rascals and disobeyed the Lord. The only fault of Eli seems to have been his lack of discipline for his boys.

Then there was Samuel. What a great servant He was, yet his sons were godless.

Again, I recall David, a man after God's own heart; but, he had two sons, Absalom and Amnon, and they both rejected God and their father David's leadership and advice.

Thinking of these three great characters mentioned in the Bible reminds me that parenting is not an easy task.

Thank God we are not depending today on the advice of a man regarding parenting. We are turning to what God has to say about this subject. In fact, we are going far back into the Scripture to find some principles which are unchanging. We are going back to the axiomatic, essential, fundamental truths which God established for parents. Lets look at Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and discover God's principles for parenting.

I. The Purposeful Law (6:1-4)

This Scripture can be called part of the Old Testament Law. The Law involves those commands given to the people of God for their good and God's glory. There is one thing we need to get straight from the beginning, the directions of God are no good without the indwelling presence of God. In other words, you need to be sure that the Lord is your personal Savior. You need to know that you have been born again. You need to be certain that you have turned from your sin and have been regenerated. In other words, you must be one of God's redeemed children for these principles to actually work.

Once we know that we are saved, we can then come to understand that God did not give the people the Law in order to make life difficult for them; He gave them the Law in order to guide them and make their lives better. When it comes to the home, this principle is especially true.

Let me share three reasons why the Laws of God for the family are proper and correct. Let me share three important reasons listed in our Scripture today for heeding the Word of God in this matter of parenting.

A. These Laws Are For Your Endurance

One thing is sure, as you go through life you change constant changes. The person sitting on top of the world today may well have that world roll over on him or her tomorrow! But God is speaking to us in truths that do not change. These truths endure and help us to endure good times and hard times. These words, laws, and principles of God are unchanging. People are often saying, "Well, the times have changed." One wise guy said that you know for sure that times have changed when you hear that Billy down the street drove his Mustang home from High School, drove into the garage and ran over his dad's bicycle. It used to be the other way around.

Sure the times change, but our God does not change. His Word does not change. Hell has not changed. Heaven has not changed. Salvation has not changed. This Book (the Bible) has not changed. His Word is given to help us know the trutyh from one generation to the next.

God's Word makes you capable of enduring all those times you go through in life as a family. The good times, when you are tempted to forget God. The difficult times, when you are tempted to forsake God. Follow His Word and you can remain steadfast through it all. The songwriter said,

"Through it all, through it all,

I've learned to trust in Jesus,

I've learned to trust in God.

Through it all, through it all,

I've learned to depend upon the Lord." (Andrae Crouch, 1971)

B. These Laws Are For Your Enjoyment

This is perhaps the most misunderstood principle of God's Word. God is not a mean old man seeking to keep us from having fun. The Lord truly loves us and wants the best for us. His Word is to direct us toward true and lasting enjoyment.

The devil can lead you to have fun, but his fun leads to ultimate sorrow. Ask the alcoholic with liver disease. Ask the gambler who has lost family, job and home. Ask the sexually promiscuous person who has contracted a sexually transmitted disease. Yes, they had fun, but the party came to an end. God knows that is going to happen. He only wants to prevent your going down that thorny path toward the precipice of disaster.

God does not just want us to have life, He wants us to have eternal life and life more abundant. His restrictions are for our benefit.

C. These Laws Are For Your Enrichment

Note in verse 3 that God has a desire for us to prosper. He wants us to know the blessings which flow from His hand. The Lord has plans to bless us and not to curse us. But in order for the blessing to flow, we need to be in His will. Be assured that God has your best interest at heart. You can be sure that His way may not necessarily seem the best to you at the time you are being called upon to walk that path; however, His way always leads to your best and His glory.

II. The Passionate Love vs. 5

Here we are told that we are to love God. It is important to understand the depth of meaning in this passage, and especially the magnitude of the word love in this passage. To see this in its fullness, lets look at three things.

A. A Love Of Sensation

It must be a felt love. It must come from the heart. It is like the love that one has for food, for a real friend, for a sweetheart. That is the actual meaning behind the word used in the Hebrew language of this text. You will note that the love God speaks of involves the entire being and life of a person.

B. A Love Of Reciprocation

The word "reciprocate" means to give what you receive. If a friend invites you to dinner, and you in turn invite that person later to your house for dinner - you have reciprocated. To love God with all our soul, is to reciprocate. Why? Because you would not have a soul if God had not breathed it into Adam.

The human soul, made in the image on God, is a special gift given only to humans. God has given us a nature unlike any other creature. He has given us a love reserved only for human kind. He has bestowed that love on those He saves. We are most blessed. We should return that love to God in obedience and worship. We love Him because He first loved us. If you have a problem with the love of sensation (feeling), spend some time on the love of reciprocation and the love of sensation will soon follow!

C. A Love of Animation

God calls on us to love Him with a life that reveals that love. Did you hear about the mouse that committed suicide when he learned that his father was a rat? Well, I'm glad people don't often do that, even though some fathers are rats!

We have to live like the people we say we are in Christ, and when we are wrong we have to admit it and ask for forgiveness. Someone suggested that most girls grow up to marry men like their dads and that is why almost all mothers cry at weddings! Seriously, however, we need to love God in our daily living and that means especially at home!

He calls for a love that displays strength. It must be a love that is more than mere words. James tells us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only! We must show our love in our actions and put all of our heart and strength into it. Real love does something. "For God so loved the world that He GAVE His only begotten son... ." You see that God's love was revealed not only in words but also in action, and the action of God involved the best He had. We are never to give God leftover strength or a mere ritual of worship and obedience.

Now you might be asking what all this has to do with parenting. Listen carefully parents. You cannot be what you should be unless you first understand these principles and apply them in parenting your children. You cannot convey properly to your children the things of God unless you first understand the things of God. It all starts with knowing that God has a purpose in what He says and what He commands.

We do not obey Him because we must, or because of fear, or because of rigid legalism - No! We obey Him because we have experienced His love and return it to Him gladly and willingly. In this way, we are wonderful conduits for our children to see the love of God in us. In this way, we are lights reflecting the glory of God to our children's sparkling, young eyes. In this way, we do not teach our children the threats of God nearly so much as we show them the regrets of sin. In this way, we do not guide our children because of the dangers of turning from God, but we guide them because of the delight of serving the Living God! Sure, there is an element of fear in obedience to God, but we only achieve the full sense of that fear when we understand it as "awe". When parents reveal that God is awesome, there children are more likely to see Him that way as well.

III. The Proper Leadership vss. 6-9

Now we come to specifics about leading our children and teaching them. God laid down some ancient principles for being parental leaders. These principles are built upon the Word of God. The Word is not drummed into our children, but is driven into them like a fragile nail is driven into a thin board - with many small, gentle, repetitive taps - and this is a difficult task. After all, children are given to rebellion because they are born in sin. No, they are not lost when they are born, for God has chosen to redeem all children until they come to an age of accountability, but don't make the mistake of thinking that children are innocent till they reach the age of accountability. None of us are innocent. There is NONE righteous, no not ONE. Every little child that dies before reaching the age of accountability is saved through the blood sacrifice of Jesus. So, understand that children are given to rebellion as Adam himself rebelled. When we try to raise our children to love God, there can be a rebellion against that.

A little fellow had been sent to his room because he had misbehaved. A short time later he came out and said to his mother, "I've been thinking about what I did and I said a prayer."

His mother said, "That's fine, because when you ask God to make you good, He will help you." The lad replied, "Oh, I didn't ask Him to help me be good; I asked Him to help you put up with me."

Also, there is a rule that familiarity breeds contempt. Many children grow up in the church and get so used to hearing the words, singing the hymns, going through the services that they lack an appreciation of what it is all about. In a book entitled, "Why Churches Grow," we read that the average child who grows up in church will, by the age of 18, sing 18,000 hymns, hear 2,000 sermons, and spend over 5,000 hours in church. That can lead to a familiarity which causes one to not realize how wonderful a blessing it is to be in church with God's people.

Also, no matter how good we are as parents, we are not perfect. We fail. We say one thing and some times we do another. This can lead our children to feel that Christians are hypocrites. It is difficult to convey to a child the love in your heart for God when you are revealing a wrong attitude in your behavior. I think it is important for children to hear a Christian parent repent before God. When a child hears his dad or mom call upon God in prayer, asking for forgiveness, it helps the child realize that all of us need God's grace.

I had a young boy in my office one day because his parents wanted me to talk to him about salvation. I thought he was too young, but his parents said he was asking questions and they needed someone to determine if he was ready to receive Christ. I asked the young boy if he had every sinned. I explained sin in simple terms that he understood. He answered that he had sinned. Then I told him that all had sinned and read him the appropriate verse from the Bible. I asked, "Has you daddy sinned?" The boy acknowledged that his father had indeed sinned. I asked if his mother had sinned, and he nodded to indicate that she had. I then asked, "Have I ever sinned?" The boy's eyes opened widely and he said, "You pastor, I know you have never sinned." Poor boy! He didn't know me at all. Our children need to know that we all sin, and that is why God provided our wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ!

You see, it is hard for us as parents to lead our children and have them relate to us. They feel we are out of touch with reality. They don't realize they will be old like us before they know it. One boy told another, "No wonder Monette gets straight A's in French. Her parents were born in France and speak French at home."

His friend said, "O yeah, if that is so, I should get straight A's in geometry. My parents are square and talk in circles."

So, what can we do? God tells us three things which must be done to be the parents we should be to our children. This does not insure that they will grow up to love God and to know Him, but it is the best hope we have. In the same book I mentioned a moment ago, it was revealed that 50% of children who grow up with parents who went to church almost every week will themselves not attend church when they grow up. So our job is not an easy one. Let learn God's principles.

A. Internalizing Of The Word

You must get the Word of God down on the inside, in your very heart! It is not enough to know the Word of God, we have got to stow the Word of God in our hearts. The Psalmist said, "I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you."

In essence, as parents, we need to...

Know the Word

Stow the Word, and

Show the Word in our lives!

B. Impression Of The Word

We are to impress the Word upon our children. This is a very important passage. The word "impress" means to pierce or cut. It means to sharpen or stab. In other words, it means to put it on the inside of your children. It is a kind of spiritual surgery. This is not done with a hateful manner or a threatening manner, it is done as a surgeon gently and lovingly operates on a patient in order to make him well.

I was jogging one day and fell. It was 17 degrees that morning and I fell on some black ice. I landed face-first on the ground and broke four bones in face, which led to my visiting several doctors in the intervening days. One of them was especially kind. When he touched my face, he would say, "Now I know this is going to hurt but I am trying my best not to cause you any pain." Then when he touched me and saw the wincing of my face, he would apologize for causing me any discomfort. That is exactly what I believe this passage means. We are to be gently but faithfully impress our children with God's Word.

Sometimes we impress our children with a word of blessing. Sometimes a Word of promise. Sometimes a Word of warning. Sometimes a Word correction. Sometimes a Word of advice. Sometimes a Word of conviction. But always, it is a Word from God.

You know what we sometimes do as parents? We say to our children, "What will people think if you act like this"? That is not a Word from God; that is a social correction! Or we say, "God is not going to love you if you act this way." Come now! God loved you even when you were a sinner. In fact, Jesus died for you when you were a sinner. You cannot tell a child that God will not love them if they do wrong. You have to tell them that God loves them and that is why he instructs them not to do wrong. The wrong they do will lead to sorrow and God does want them to be sorrowful. We must learn to know the Word of God and to use it with our children.

C. The Importance Of The Word

The Word of God must never be forgotten. We must keep it in mind when we walk and talk, when we lie down and when we rise up, when we go in our house and when we go out of our house, when we are thinking and when we are acting. That is what this passage is about. We cannot use the philosophies of this world to raise our children. After all, the philosophy of the world changes about every 10 to 15 years. We cannot use the patterns of our own parents to raise our children, our parents were not perfect either. We cannot fly by the seat of our pants, for we will lose our way. NO, we must have a Word, and that Word is God's Word.

Conclusion

A group of botanists went on an expedition into a hard-to-reach location in the Alps searching for new varieties of flowers. One day as a scientist looked through his binoculars, he saw a beautiful, rare species growing at the bottom of a deep ravine. To reach it someone would have to be lowered into that gorge. Noticing a local youngster standing nearby, the man asked him if he would help them get the flower. The boy was told that a rope would be tied around his waist and the men would then lower him to the floor of the canyon. Excited, yet apprehensive about the adventure, the youngster peered thoughtfully into the chasm. "Wait," he said, "I'll be back," and off he dashed.

When he returned, he was accompanied by an older man. Approaching the head botanist, the boy said, "I'll go over the cliff now and get the flower for you, but this man must hold on to the rope. He's my dad!"

Dads, and moms, we are holding the rope for our children. Let us turn to God today with a renewed commitment to parenting God's way!