Children: a gift from God
We live in an age and a culture in which it is tempting to see having children as the end of fun, the end of career, the end of the world as we know it, to see children as a burden, a roadblock, as a curse. Kids is a four letter word.
In ancient times they saw children not as a curse or a burden, but as a gift – a gift from God.
Call us old fashioned, but here at NCF, we agree. We believe that children are a gift from God.
3 Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
Children are a gift from God, a heritage from Him, like arrows in the hands of a warrior blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. Today, people look at me like I’m crazy because I have four kids as if that was a full quiver. But in ancient times a full quiver was more like 12. I would have more if I made more money and my wife is shaking her head…no.
Children, like all that we have are from God. In fact, everything we possess is a loaner from the owner.
As the Bible says God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. That number thousand in the bible is symbolic for completion, which communicates that God owns all the cattle. God owns all the cars, God owns all the everything. Your iPhone belongs to God, your android belongs to God, your laptop belongs to God, your children belong to God. Everything in our possession is ultimately on loan to us from God. Everything we possess is a loaner from the owner.
When God, the owner decides we are done with it, we are done with it. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.
My mother said she always knew that I was on borrowed time and that I ultimately belonged to God. She was aware of the fact that ultimately my time on earth and my placement under her care were temporal and at God’s discretion.
Stewardship is the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving – dictionary.com
We should be good stewards over the things in our possession; with everything God entrusts to our care we should practice good stewardship. We put otterboxes on our phones to care for and preserve them, we put antivirus software on our laptops care for and preserve them, we get insurance on our vehicles care for and preserve them. We tend to practice good stewardship with our possessions. How much more with our children?
Parenting is a stewardship.
How can we be good stewards with our children? If they are a gift from God, if they ultimately belong to him, but he is allowing us the joy of raising them for a time, if they are simply a loaner from the owner, how can we oversee and protect, care for and protect these precious gifts called children? How can we practice good stewardship with these precious children to which we have been entrusted?
Three P’s and three T’s if you’re following along in your programs.
PROVIDE The first P is provide. I don’t need to say much about this, because there is an intuitive sense in all of us that knows that we are responsible to provide for our children. Jesus said to the crowds, in Matt 7:9-11 9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
We have this desire wired into us it seems that we enjoy providing for our children, not just shelter, water, clothing, and food, but we like buying them Birthday gifts and Christmas gifts and just gifts and we feel bad when we have to say no. Although we know that if they got everything they asked for they might well become spoiled rotten, but that’s what grandparents are for, right?
PRAYER The second P is Prayer.
Pray FOR your children and pray WITH your children.
Prayer is powerful. There are certain things we just can’t control. But God can. There may come a time when our children will not listen to us. We will want to change their mind. But we can’t. God can. There is power in prayer. And let’s not wait to pray for them until the teenage years come. Let’s begin the healthy habit of praying for our children now.
Pray for your children. Pray for them daily. Pray for them often.
- Influences in their lives
- That they would not be influenced as much as they influence
- Friends – drawn to the right people
- Parents of friends – not only that they aren’t creepy pedophiles, but that they’d be cultivating a Christ – centered home as you are, that they’d be a good influence in your child’s life
- Pray that if your child spends time at the home of a non-believer, that God would use that to teach them by contrast – that they would recognize the difference between the home that lacks the joy and peace of the Lord and the home that possesses the joy and peace of the Lord.
- Pray for their future spouse
- Pray for their future
- most importantly salvation and a life of love
Prayer is powerful. Pray FOR your children. Not only should we pray for them, but we should pray WITH them.
- simple terms
- talk with God like you talk with them
- this teaches them at an early age that conversation with God should be a reality
o not just at meals
o not just before bed
There is power in prayer. To parent with power, prayer is THE key ingredient.
Prayer is first and foremost for parents who wish to be good stewards with their children.
PRAISE The third P is Praise.
While discipline, rebuke, and correction are important, it is equally and perhaps more important to praise them, to BUILD THEM UP.
As often as you can, praise them. It is so much easier to point out their faults and failures especially if you’re critical, analytical or if you’re a perfectionist. So we have to be mindful and careful and strive to praise them as often as we can. They live to hear “well done, my child.” I’m a 34 year old man and I love when my dad tells me, “son, well done. I’m proud of you.” Hearing praise from parents is such a great feeling to a child. Let’s give that feeling to our children as much as we can. When I praise my kids they just beam. It’s similar to adding gasoline to a fire. When they realize how nice it is to hear praise instead of rebuke, they want to hear it more, so they’re on their best behavior because they want to hear more of it.
It is crucial to build our children up. Edify them with words of affirmation and praise as often as you can.
I heard a statistic recently that for every negative criticism in the workplace it takes 4 positive statements to offset it. I shared that with someone and they said, I’ve actually heard it was more like 7. I don’t know what the actual figure is, but I’m sure it varies based on the individual, but either way, there is a principle at play there that can and should be applied to our children. In order to be good stewards with our children, our praises of their good behavior should far outweigh our criticisms and condemnations of their bad.
Positive feedback, praise, and reward for good performance usually drives good performance far better than punishment for bad performance and it is consistent with the grace shown us by our heavenly father as we are motivated not by fear of punishment.
The three P’s are:
There are also three T’s. The first T is treasure.
TREASURE Treasure your children. Truly recognize that they are a gift from God and see them as your “precious.”
While we would all admit verbally and agree intellectually that we cherish our children, they may not sense that from us. Let’s make sure that they do. Let’s treasure them in such a way that there is no doubt in their little minds that they are precious to mommy and daddy and that they mean the world to us.
There is a guy in my neighborhood that cherishes his truck. In my opinion, it’s not even that nice of a truck, but this guy treasures it. Do you know how I know? Just about every time I drive by that guy is washing, or waxing, or vacuuming or detailing that truck. He’s under the hood, he’s inside – he treasures that truck. It’s evident; he makes it evident. Let’s make it evident that we treasure our children.
Love them. Tell them you love them. Tell them often.
Show them that you love them. Live in such a way that your kids know my mommy and daddy love me and no matter what I do, they will always love me, unconditionally.
TEACHING The second T is teaching.
Eph 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
For parents who are committed to good stewardship with our children, it is essential to teach our children the truth. It is essential to teach them the doctrines of Scripture.
I believe that one of the healthiest things we can do is instill in our children from an early age the essentials. I believe that we should strive to teach them the gospel in terms that they can grasp.
- people are sinners
- sin separates people from God & makes God angry with people
- Jesus died for our sins & took our sins away from us
- If we believe in Jesus & what He did for us, we can be friends with God
Love: I believe that we should instill in them the fundamental and foundational doctrine of love. I believe that if there is no other doctrines that we teach our children, we should not fail in teaching them the gospel and love.
Teaching our children is essential. Many of you are already intentionally teaching your children in that way. Some of you may be convicted by that exhortation and perhaps your current thought is: boy, I need to be teaching my children. I have a secret to tell you. You already do.
We are all teaching our children whether we intend to or not. We are teaching them by demonstration every moment we spend with them. Are you ready for the cliché? Actions speak louder than words. They do. Our children’s little eyes are upon us. Their little ears are tuned in to our words. And their little minds are constantly processing what we say, what we do, how we react, where we go, what we spend money on, what we spend our time doing.
We teach our children through our actions. We teach them by demonstration. Being aware of that reality is powerful in parenting.
Be aware that our children are always learning from what we say, what we do, how we react. When we are driving and somebody cuts us off with no blinker how do mommy and daddy react? The kiddos are in the back seat learning how to react by watching how we react. When our circumstances are uncertain, do we worry or trust God? Our children are learning how to worry by watching us worry; they are learning to trust God by watching us trust God. Our children learn from us in observing how we react. When something takes a long time are we patient? Are we selfish with our things?
Have you ever thought about how powerful your life is? We teach our kids day in and day out. By our life, we have the opportunity to teach our children that God all powerful. By our life we have the opportunity to teach our children that God is trustworthy. By our life we have the opportunity to teach our children that humility is a virtue and pride is sin. By our life we have the opportunity to teach our children integrity, patience, kindness, peace and love.
TIME The third T is time.
SPEND TIME WITH THEM. We are all so busy. It is so hard to find time to do everything we want to do. However, I’m convinced that we all have enough time to do what we need to do. It’s important to distinguish between the two. We need to spend time with our children. Somebody will spend time with them. If we don’t spend time with them others will. If we’re not spending time with them, Elmo will, Barney will, Miley Cirus or Hannah Montana will, Justin Beiber will, Eminem will, Nikki Minaj will. It is imperative that we spend time with our children. If we don’t, others will and we may not like who they spend time with.
There is a sense in which whoever spends the most time with your children will have the most influence in their lives. Let’s be the ones with the greatest influence.
I fear that if we don’t spend time with them now, we may not get that opportunity later. At this point in time my children often ask me to do things with them (ie spend time with them). Daddy will you play trains with me? Daddy will you come outside with me so I can ride my bike. Daddy, will you jump on the trampoline with me? The easy answer is daddy’s tired. That’s not the right answer though. The right answer is the one that takes advantage of the opportunity to spend time with my children. I fear that when the teenage years come, I will desire to spend time with my children but perhaps they won’t want to spend time with me. They want to right now. Let’s take advantage of the time they want to spend time with us. Let’s muster up the energy to say yes even when we’re too tired.
o Get into their world
o Play with them
o Build a fort
o Take them to chuck-e-cheeses
o Take them to the park
o Ride bikes with them
o Jump on the trampoline with them
o Do a puzzle with them
o Talk with them
o GET TO KNOW THEM!!!
o Be their friends; keep the lines of communication open starting now teenage years coming when they won’t want to talk to you about stuff.
Learn what they like. Take note of what they ask you to do with them. One day, suggest doing that with them before they ask you.
As parents committed to being good stewards with our children, let’s
- Provide for our children
- Pray for our children & with our children
- Praise our children
- Treasure our children
- Teach our children
- And spend time with them
Before we close, I’d like to take a look at a passage in the Bible where we see an individual who truly understood that children are a gift from God.
Samuel’s momma Hannah.
1 Samuel 1
There was a woman named Hannah who had no children.
Now in 1 Sam 1:5it says that the Lord had closed her womb.
That would have been a very sad scenario for her. Especially because of her situation. See she wasn’t her husband’s only wife. And his other wife was a baby momma. And Hannah couldn’t have babies. But she wanted to be a baby momma too. And to make matters worse, the other wife, the baby momma would provoke her and taunt her and tease her. Let’s read together starting in verse 9.
9 Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. 10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
12 As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”
15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”
17 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
18 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.
19 Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”
Hannah Dedicates Samuel
21 When her husband Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfill his vow, 22 Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord, and he will live there always.”
23 “Do what seems best to you,” her husband Elkanah told her. “Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the Lord make good hisword.” So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.
24 After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull,an ephahof flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. 25 When the bull had been sacrificed, they brought the boy to Eli, 26 and she said to him, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. 27 I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.
Here we see a woman, Hanna who saw her child as a gift from God and had a heart of sacrifice, a woman who recognized that God had closed her womb and that if she was going to have a child, God would have to open her womb, that he would have to give her a son and that if he did, that child would simply be a loaner from the owner.
She dedicates Samuel to the Lord; here God, he is yours anyway.
This morning, we have some families, who like Hannah, recognize their children as a gift from God and who want to dedicate their children to the Lord. Now I want to be clear up front so that everybody understands what this is NOT. This is not in any way, shape or form, an act that saves our children; we believe that salvation is the free gift of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
Now, Hannah lived in Israel during a time when God’s presence dwelt in the Tabernacle, the house of the lord, where a priesthood served making animal sacrifices; and this was superseded by the Temple that Solomon built within a couple hundred years. Hannah brought Samuel there to remain and serve.
You and I are in the NC, so we don’t have a physical temple and an earthly priesthood to go drop off our children with. In the NC, believers are living stones who make up a spiritual temple, and believers are a royal priesthood, who offer spiritual sacrifices. So we
commit to giving our children as servants of God in a spiritual house of the Lord, where we also dwell. We dedicate ourselves as well, committing to raising our children in the faith IN HOPES THAT they will grow to know love and serve him as a spiritual priesthood making spiritual sacrifices.
This child dedication ceremony is simply stating before God that we realize that this child really belongs to him and living that way, raising the child that way, dedicating this child’s life to God and for service in his house.