Monday, August 4, 2008

MOMMY (or Caregiver/Mentor) MONDAY #21

We've been instructed to raise our children in the instruction of the Lord. For those of us who have accepted Christ as Savior, we know that, or, we've at least heard it and know that it's a good thing. But why? How often? When? What if you don't have children now? What if you never have children? Let's see if we can answer these most important question with God's Word. I think He'll make it clear why we should, how often, how we should, and the benefit of doing so.

In Exodus 13, Moses explained to the sons of Israel the consecration of their and their animals' firstborn. This was in accordance with the instruction the Lord had given him, because God had adopted Israel as His firstborn. The sons of Israel were to do certain things for this consecration, but the point was to let the people know that everything that they were to do was to be a reminder to them and their children of what the Lord had done for them when they came out of Egypt. In other words, they were to do things that would be a constant reminder of the goodness of the Lord. They were to be reminded that God had a powerful hand. They were to keep this information ever before them and in their hearts and minds. When sons asked fathers why they were doing what they were doing, the father was to answer, "It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt." (NASB v. 8) Do your children know why you do what you do? Do your children know why you praise the Lord every chance you get, if you do? Can your children see you express some kind of way, the goodness of the Lord? Do you recognize how good the Lord has been to you?

In addition to doing the things that Moses instructed the people to do, v. 9 explains to them what following the ordinances and being reminded of the goodness of the Lord would do. Following his instructions was to serve as a sign on their hand, as a reminder on their forehead, and that the law of the Lord should be in their mouth. This was figurative language to say, "Your heart should be toward the Lord in all you do, in all you think, and in all you say." (the hand, the forehead, the mouth) The Israelites were to do these things at the appointed time, from year to year. This was under the Old covenant. We are under the New Covenant my friends. We are to do these things every day, every month, every year--all of the time.

Moses gave these instructions to the adults. But the adults were to not just carry these things out in obedience, but to instruct their children to do the exact same; and, not only to do the exact same thing, but to give them a reason for doing what they were to do. Shouldn't we have this same model? "Kids, don't just follow my instruction and follow my lead, but here's why we're doing this. How can we be reminded of the Lord in all things, good and bad, and keep our eyes on Him?"

This theme of giving kids instruction in the Lord and admonishing them to keep their thoughts toward God, His goodness, and His will, runs throughout the Bible. The Old Testament is rich with instructions in teaching parents how to impart to sons how they should obey laws, commandments, ordinances, instructions, wisdom, etc. of the Lord and the benefit of doing so. The New Testament even tells the children (indirectly to the parent who should be instructing the children in the Way) to obey their parents in the Lord (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Why would we want to do all of these things ourselves and teach them (or mentor others' children if you don't have one--these instructions definitely do pertain to you too) to our children? What is the benefit? First of all, we are commanded to do these things. That's pretty simple and straight forward. If you love the Lord, you keep His commandments. But the benefits to us, well, there are many and they are all good--1) so that you and your generations will respect the Lord, 2) that your days may be prolonged, 3) that things may be well with you and you may multiply (in many ways) greatly, 4) that you might see the promises of God, 5) that God may impart to you things that you could never attain on your own, 6) that you may grow in wisdom and grace, and 7) that you may experience a relationship with and the goodness of the Lord.

What can we say then? Is it not time that we open God's Word and allow Him to speak to our hearts about the things He has called us to do? Is it not time for those of us who have not always gotten it right with our children to ask for forgiveness of Him and them and open ourselves to be called to righteousness according to His Word, concerning His children? Is it not time that we start where we are now rather than worrying about how we've failed or how we've been lax in the past? For those out there who have gotten it right thus far, is it not time that we praise God for the lessons we learned early and commit to teaching what we've learned and imparted to our children to someone else and their children? Is it not time for those who have no children to commit to mentoring and discipling another's child?

We have God's instructions and we see the benefits. Let us pray, go forward, and move another generation toward Christ. Teach the children to love God, think on Him in all things, everyday, and live with eternity in view.

Repeatedly (Ex. 13:9, 16, Deut. 6:4-9, 20-25, 11:18-21, Prov. 3:3, 6:21) the Bible instructs us and then instructs us to teach our children to set our focus and eyes on things above, to be reminded of the work of the Lord, to love Him with all our heart, mind, and soul, to do these things regularly. I love Deut. 6:5-7--"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart (the word "heart" is an indication that while this talk was under the old law, the new law will command us to keep Jesus in our hearts, to believe Him in our hearts, and still think on Him daily, etc.). You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." What does that leave to question about how, when, where, how much?

Now the Jews took the figurative instructions literally and they would tie phylacteries on their forehead and left arms. They would also nail Scripture to the doorposts and place it in boxes. A figurative interpretation is supported by Deut. 11:18-20 and Ex. 13:9, 16. We may see the Jewish symbolism and custom of doing this as strange or even unnecessary, but what can be said about them is that they take the ordinance seriously. So many of us Christians can find fault or even error in the customs, traditions, etc. of the world's religions, but, we can find with Jews, Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and others that there is a common thread, that something good can be said about, that runs throughout each, and that is, that they are serious about what they feel and/or believe about their faith and the instructions of that faith. They diligently teach their churches and their children about their faith, and they are not afraid or hindered of trying to teach what they believe to others. If we were to surrender to God's will and adopt this same attitude for the cause of Christ, imagine how many people God would call to Himself, using us! Imagine how we would raise up a generation of children who would teach this to the next generation, then the next, and so on. Imagine what the world would be like.


Chantel said...

Just wanted to let you know that you won the giveway back on my blog! If you could email me your name and mailing information, I hope to get this off to you shortly

Congratulations and thanks for joining!

alaskawildrose AT gmail DOT com

Kristen Schiffman said...

I am thrilled you visited my blog and enjoyed it!

You are more than welcome any time and I will definitely add your link to the Mrs. Quirky post when you post your own. : )

I will be beack to your blog as well, you love Jesus. I like that in my blogging friends!!