Saturday, August 30, 2014

Prayers for our Children: Triplets of Trust

As we saw last week, advice in God’s Word about parenting occurs in patterns of three, reflecting not only His Triune nature but the family trio consisting of mother, father, and child. Scripture tells us to love, discipline, and teach our children about His Word, His nature, and our faith.

Just as Jesus prayed for every child of God, we should pray for our children to be kept in the Name of God, to be kept from evil, and to be sanctified through His truth (John 17:11,15,17). If we follow this and other Biblical wisdom about parenting, we can anticipate many blessings.

We see many examples in Scripture of fathers praying for their children. Abraham prayed that God would not abandon Ishmael, even though he was conceived in opposition to God’s will (Genesis 17:18). In answer to that prayer, God promised to bless Ishmael, to make him the father of twelve princes, and to make him a great nation (v. 20).

Even better, God promised to bless Abraham’s wife Sarah, to give Abraham a son by her, and to make her a mother of nations (v. 16). These were conditional promises, so to show his honoring the covenant with God, Abraham obeyed by circumcising himself, Ishmael, and every male in his household (v. 23-27)

King David prayed that God would spare the life of his first child (2 Samuel 12:16), who was deathly ill and who had been born from David’s sins of lust for Bathsheba, wife of Uriah; adultery with Bathsheba; and murder of Uriah (2 Samuel 11:2-17). He begged God in prayer so intense that he fasted, went in (locked himself in his prayer closet; Matthew 6:6), and prayed all night prostrate upon the earth (2 Samuel 12:16). Paradoxically, when the child died, David cleansed himself, worshipped God, and ate. His cleansing consisted of washing, anointing himself, and changing his clothing (2 Samuel 12:20).

Although God had not answered David’s prayer as he had hoped, David resigned himself to God’s will, saying, “Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12:23).This is an excellent illustration of God knowing what we need far better than we do (Matthew 6:8), so that we can have faith that He will answer the prayer in the best possible way (Romans 8:28).

God allowed David the supernatural understanding that the child was in Heaven where he would one day be reunited with him, for all who turn from their sins and place their faith in God alone are born again  to everlasting life (John 3:3-8, 16).

God dealt with David’s sin by chastising him through the death of his son, yet He responded to David’s prayer by giving him three blessings: faith in eternal life in which he would be united with his son, restored marital relations with Bathsheba, and the birth of a second son, Solomon (2 Samuel 12:24).

David had been a man of war, which prevented him from being the one to complete God’s temple. However, his son Solomon would be suited for this task because God promised him rest from all his enemies and peace and quietness for Israel throughout his lifetime. David prayed for his son Solomon to be a wise ruler over Israel, to serve God, and to build His temple in accordance with God’s will, keeping His commandments, testimonies, and statutes (1 Chronicles 22:8,9,12; 29:19).

But as a good father should, David put his money where his mouth was. In addition to prayer, he supported Solomon’s building of the temple by giving him an hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand thousand talents of silver; and of brass and iron without weight, He also gave him an abundant supply of timber, stone and skilled workmen for the project (v. 14, 15).

King David supported God’s will for Solomon’s life from his abundant riches. But even if we have only meager financial resources, our children will appreciate, remember and be blessed by our sacrificing to help pay for their education, development of their talents, missions trips, or other opportunities in accordance with God’s specific plan for their lives.

The Bible tells us God’s general will for every child, which is to be saved (2 Peter 3:9), to love God and love one another (Matthew 22:36-40), to keep His commandments (John 14:15), to pray (1 Thessalonians 5:17), to study and share His Word (2 Timothy 4:2), to witness (Matthew 28:19-20), to be faithful to church (Hebrews 10:25), to tithe (Malachi 3:8-10), etc.

We also need to pray that God’s specific will be fulfilled in our child’s life, calling on His promise to think of them with thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give us His desired outcome. If we call on Him, we will pray to Him, and He will listen to us. When we search for Him with all our heart, we shall seek Him and find Him (Jeremiah 29:11-13). It’s never too early to start praying or God’s will for our children’s higher education, career, and even for their future spouse.

As we pray for our children, we can have faith that God knows, protects and loves them even more than we do, understanding their every thought, word and deed. He knows where they have been and where they will go and guides them with His hand where they are. He knew them before they were even conceived, designed their unique being, and guided their development during gestation. He created every child to be marvelous, fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:1-16).

May we pray earnestly for our children as Jesus prayed for us!  May they grow in God’s grace as Jesus did, physically, mentally and spiritually, increasing in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52),

© 2014 Laurie Collett
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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Family Trio: Triplets of Parenting

In its simplest form, the family as God designed it is a trio consisting of mother, father, and child, reflecting His Triune nature. Not surprisingly, advice in His Word about parenting also occurs in patterns of three.

God urges parents to remind themselves, their children, and their grandchildren of His faithfulness by remembering all His wonderful works. Hearing God’s Word leads us to fear Him, to live long and abundantly, and to teach our children to do the same (Deuteronomy 4:9-10).

The fear His Word instills in us and in our offspring is respect for His power, which is the beginning of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding (Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; 15:33). That fear of the Lord is a treasure giving us stability in changing and challenging times and the strength of our salvation (Isaiah 33:6). When we and our children fear the Lord, His Spirit will rest upon us, giving us the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, [and] the spirit of knowledge (Isaiah 11:2).

Parents are to love God with our whole being -- with all our heart, soul and strength – and to teach our child to love God and His Word as part of our daily routine. We are to teach our child diligently, no matter whether we are at home or away from home, and at all times, whether getting up in the morning or going to bed at night. Our whole body should keep His Word, including our heart, hands, and eyes (Deuteronomy 6:5-7; 11:18), to help keep us from sin (Psalm 119:11).

Teaching our children about God and His Word is primarily the responsibility of the parents, not that of the school or even the church. However, families that attend a Bible-believing church that begins teaching Scripture at an early age will have their own teaching reinforced. As the saying goes, “Teach your child to love God, or the world will teach him not to.” God commands the father to make His truth known to the children (Isaiah 38:19).

If parents use God’s Word to illuminate our path (Psalm 119:105), it will lead us to follow His commandments, statutes, and judgments (Deuteronomy 7:11). We are not only to hear His Word, but to study it and do what it says (Deuteronomy 7:12; James 1:22). If we do this, He will love, bless and multiply us, blessing our children, our harvest, and our livestock. He will provide bountifully for all of us with corn, wine and oil (Deuteronomy 7:13).

If we trust Christ, our children are more likely to follow our example and be saved. Parents who are born again (John 3:3-8) by realizing we are sinners in need of a Savior, and by our belief in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6) are living proof of faith.

Timothy’s faith was a legacy passed down through three generations, from his grandmother Lois to his mother Eunice, and then to Timothy. Even though Timothy had to trust God through his own faith, the Godly atmosphere in which he grew up made that more likely by leading and strengthening him and encouraging him to grow spiritually (2 Timothy 3:15).

If we are saved, we set a good example for our children to follow. In his sermon at Pentecost, Peter promised salvation to whomever the Lord would call -- his listeners, their children, and even those far away (Acts 2:39).

Zacchaeus, the dishonest tax collector sought out by Jesus, hurried to comply with Jesus’ wish to visit him, came down from his perch high in the tree (swallowed his pride), and received Jesus joyfully. As a result, Jesus said that salvation had come to his house (Luke 19:5-10).

Once the father is saved, his children are more likely to observe, emulate and internalize that faith, although it is no guarantee they will be saved. Each child must come to his own repentance of sin, need of a Savior, and spiritual rebirth. God is the perfect Parent, and yet Adam and Eve disobeyed Him (Genesis 3:6). (In this case, the family trio was not two parents and one child, but One Father and two children).

God had clearly told them what they could do (eat the fruit of every tree but one), what they must not do (eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil), and what would happen if they disobeyed (they would die). (Genesis 2:16-17). This is the perfect example of stating expectations, setting limits, and warning about expected outcomes that we should follow with our children.

In today’s society, there seems to be a trend for parents to want to be their child’s peer, buddy, or playmate, rather than the one in authority. This is clearly not Biblical. Children are to honor (respect and obey) their father and mother, because God has commanded it; because it will lengthen their life; and because they will fare better in life (Deuteronomy 5:16; Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:2-3, etc.).

So let us be parents, and not chums, by disciplining our children in love when needed. It is not loving to avoid physical discipline when it is needed to protect them (Proverbs 13:24). Discipline should never be done in anger, but to encourage children in the nurture (loving care) and admonition (warning against evil) of the Lord (Colossians 3:20-21; Ephesians 6:4).

May we pray for our children as Jesus Himself prayed for us (John 17). He identifies us as God’s children because we receive the words which Jesus (through His Word and His Spirit) gave us, we know that Jesus came from the Father, and we believe that God the Father sent Jesus the Son to this earth to save us (v. 8). We belong to the Father, and we belong to Jesus, and He is glorified in us (v. 9-10). Jesus prayed that we would be kept in the Father’s Name, that the Father would keep us from the evil in the world, and that the Father would sanctify us through His truth (v. 11,15,17).

May we pray this prayer for ourselves, for our children, and for generations to follow, anticipating great blessings, as we shall see next week!

© 2014 Laurie Collett
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