God promised the patriarchs (founding fathers) of Israel to make them into a great nation.
In the context of Deuteronomy 6:1-9, God had fulfilled this promise. And out of His unconditional love, he cut a covenant with them- to be their God and for them to be his people.
He also gave them law that will guide their private, communal and national life. In following them, they would prosper and succeed; but disobedience would mean punishment.
Before they could step on the Promised Land, God reminded them of the central role a family plays in a national life. The nation will rise or fall depending on the nature of the families they nurture. Strong and healthy families will result into a strong and vibrant nation. Therefore God instructed parents how to carry out their divine duty of parenting.
This is a message we need to give heed today as individuals and as churches. It has been said that, “the church that ignores children is raising up children that will ignore the church.” Therefore ministry to children/next generation should be prioritized because:
- Children represent the future- of any family, church, or nation.
- Children are God’s instruments to the next generation.
- Satan on the other hand is actively seeking to win and influence their lives.
- God has a plan, future, and a heart for every child.
- God cares how we raise our children.
How can we parent in a way that we are able to leave a godly legacy? (Read Deut. 6:4-9):
1. Learn how to parent from the perfect Father- v4
The charge to the nation of Israel in the shema (vv.4-5) begins with a declaration of the nature of Yahweh to his covenanted people. The relationship between Yahweh and his people is unique and special. Here, parents are first reminded not of their childrearing task but of the nature of their God. The Lord who called Israel, “My people”, is the only true and One God. He is relational God. He is a perfect Father (and Mother- Isa. 49:15). He is a loving God. He keeps his word.
Christian parents should therefore derive their parenting values (on life, family) and styles from God. They should provide biblical leadership in their homes by leading as the heavenly Father leads.
Interestingly, parenting styles we use determines the kind of children we raise up. The dominant parent(s) that sets very high standards and expectation to children with rigid rules end up ‘producing’ children that have aggressive behavior, low self esteem, and a rebellious attitude toward authority. The neglectful type of a parent(s) who is always absent and lacks control over his/her children raises up children that are insecure and alienated. The permissive parent(s) who offers support but fails to establish and enforce rules and limits for the children raises up children that have little self-respect, lack discipline, insecure, and manipulative. But parent that are both loving and firm- those who take time to be with their children, define rules, offer support, discipline in love bring up children that are secure, disciplined with self-respect and have great interest with in parent’s faith. So learn how to parent from the heavenly Father.
- Set an example in you Love for the Lord – vv5-6
Lead by example; “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength”. Love the Lord wholeheartedly; this is the greatest commandment (Matt. 22:37; Mk. 12:29-30).
It is important that adults and parents model what it means to love the Lord wholeheartedly. Let you children see and experience that love at home and outside home.
Children learn more by seeing than by listening.
The faith should first dwell in the heart of instructor before taking root in the life of the learner.
Simply put, if you want your children to love the Lord then let you love for the Lord be evident to them. If you want your children to be people of prayer (hard work, integrity), then you must be a man/woman of prayer… Set an example in you speech, attitudes, emotions and actions.
Let them see your hunger for God; you desire to see them love the Lord and prosper.
- Have daily conversations on God’s Word with your children– vv6-9
Have constant conversations (formal and informal) with your children on God word.
Talk about the Lord’s commandments when you sit at home, walk along the road, lie down and when you get up. Make the most of every opportunity to train them in the way they should go (Prov. 22:6). Teach them to live Jesus.
Have conversations that deal with holistic life- social, financial, economic, spiritual etc
Christian parents should ensure that the home is a conducive environment to learn, share, and grow. It should be a place that the members of the family feel loved and free to express themselves openly without fear of criticism and ridicule. It should be where the giftedness of a child should be realized, affirmed, and nurtured.
Teach them that they can do all things through Christ who strengthens them.
The Word of the Lord is the manual and content for successful parenting. To the young people be reminded that-the word of God is your life (Deut. 32:47) and key to your success and prosperity (Deut. 6:1-3). By breaking it, you life and future will consequently be broken.
The word of God is able to keep you pure (Ps. 119:9). Hide the word of God in your heart that it may become a source of influence to your action, emotions, attitudes, decisions and behavior. God’s word is transforming; it is able to transform your character, belief system/worldview and conduct.
The Bible commands children to obey their parents (Eph. 6:1). Parents are to “nurture them in admonition of the Lord” (Eph 6:4) and not to deal with them harshly (Eph 6:4; Col. 3:21).
God expects us as individuals, parents and church to pass on biblical values to the next generation (Ps. 78:3-8). When Israel failed in their mandate what happened? The book of Judges 2:6-12 records that the first generation of those who grew up in the Promised Land “knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” Therefore, children are God’s agents to shape the generation after them. Win a generation for Christ today; sign up for a ministry in the children’s department and be part of the great work that God is already doing among the children (in this church). Admittedly, parenting is a hard task, but we need to do our part. You may not have been parented well, but that should not be an excuse to abdicate your God-given responsibility.
However there are some challenges to be overcome. Today, parents are unavailable in their homes because of work-related demands. It is godly that we meet the physical needs of our children but we should also prioritize the spiritual needs our children at home. Amidst our busy schedules, we need to intentionally create time for the family. It is true that limited time with our children means we have limited influence upon their future lives. Churches should invest in the children ministry. Always remember that the enduring legacy we leave to our children is not the material inheritance but the values that will steer on their lives.
I believe God is awakening some parents today to refocus their attention on their purpose as parents.
I also believe that God is calling someone here today to participate in children ministry by shaping a future generation for God.
Perhaps there are parents here today who have been praying for their rebellious children to turn from their rebellious ways; I want to pray and speak prophetically that your prayer is not in vain. There is hope. God is at work. The prodigal son will soon return to the father’s house.
Perhaps there are children/sons/daughters who feel they have not been in good terms with their parents and today they would want to restore their relationships. They want to go back to their parent(s) and say “I have sinned. I need forgiveness.” God is able to restore what the devil has stolen.
Perhaps there are children here in this congregation who are being lured to drug abuse, immorality, and radicalization; I want to say your life is so precious in God’s eyes and wants you to live a holy and fulfilled life. Don’t give in, don’t give up. Stand firm and declare God in your generation.