“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” – Psalm 78:4
When I read the Bible there is a thread woven through that strikes me whenever I come across it. It is God’s love for children and his command that we adults tell them about him. You can’t escape it in the Old Testament. “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children…” - Deuteronomy 6:6. See also Deuteronomy 4:9 and 11:19.
Joel 1:3 gives warning to, “Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation.” The book of Joshua talks of several heaps of stones built as monuments of remembrance for the coming generations (see Joshua 4:21-22). The entire Psalm 78 is dedicated to telling the coming generations of what the Lord has done for his people.
In the New Testament we see Jesus gathering children to himself to be blessed. He knows there is no better place for them to be than in his presence. He openly receives them and sternly tells his disciples not to keep them away.
“Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’ ” – Matthew 19:13-15
Oh, if people would heed these words today! Do not hinder the children from coming to Jesus! Do not stop them from being in his presence or from hearing his Word! Direct them there, point the way, encourage them to know who he is and what he has done. Do not close the door on the relationship by not attending church or not reading the Bible. Stop acting like the name of Jesus is taboo unless used as a curse word. If this describes you, hear the rebuke of Christ loudly in your ear today – “let the little children come to me and do not hinder them”!
Tell the children about God and his glorious deeds and wondrous works. Tell them of his powerful wrath, his holiness, his perfection. Tell them of his standards and righteous judgement. Tell them of his immense love for his people, his glorious grace and his victory over sin and death. Tell them the story of Jesus that is only found in the Bible and is the only way to life forever.
You cannot rely on someone else to do this: not school (ha!), not church, not grandparents, not the internet, not a friend. You must do it. Do not stand aloof and think they will find their own way – someday – somehow – if they want to. If you wait until they are “old enough” to make up their own mind it will be too late. By then they will have learned from you that God is unimportant and not worth talking about.
Tell the children about God. Start with what is in the Bible and then (if you are a Believer) tell them of what he has done in your life. Tell of the times he provided for you, instructed you, and answered prayers. Tell of the time he claimed you as his own. There is so much to share, you have to start as soon as they are born and never stop.
Don’t go a day without talking to your child about God. Why? The answer is given in Psalm 78:7 – “so that they should set their hope in God.” God is their only hope, so you sure better let them know it. The only legacy worth leaving is the one that has eternal promise and points to Christ.
“Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” – Psalm 34:11
How hard do you work at being Christ-like? Do you take it as seriously as say staying healthy, earning money, working out, managing a home, or pursuing hobbies? I struggle in this area and I think many other women do too. We often take this Christian life lackadaisically. We’re all too willing to play a passive role as we attend church and just hope God will gently change our ways eventually. Slowly…….becoming….…more….…like…….Jesus.
Was this the lifestyle God had in mind for Christians when he had Paul write in Philippians 3:12-14: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers… one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Yeah, I don’t think so. Nothing about this passage sounds passive to me. Neither did Paul display passivity in his life in working toward obedience to Christ.
My oldest son gave me a Fitbit for Mother’s Day last weekend. I didn’t even know I wanted one until he gave me one. I also don’t remember ever caring how many steps I took in 24 hours…until now. I set a goal of getting 10,000 steps per day and I’m really working at it. I find myself looking down at my wrist constantly to see how many steps I have taken and how many I have yet to go (usually lots). I’m taking walks and hopping on the treadmill. Why? What has changed? A goal has been set.
Let me ask you something today. If you knew that 10,000 steps would get you to Jesus, how hard would you work to take those steps? How much of your time would be devoted to that one goal of being close to him? For those of us who are his, there is no greater prize than to be with Jesus. My hope is that we would run hard and “strain forward to what lies ahead” like Paul.
We need to work hard at being more like Christ because Christ has made us his own. We have an upward call upon our lives - a directive to move toward God in Christ. We should break a sweat as we slay sin in our lives and move forward in holiness. Expend the energy necessary because every step counts and every step is worth it.
Ladies, hear this upward call that that comes to you from God’s Word. Read his voice every day and strive to live it out. It alone enables you to progress in sanctification. Learn to set goals for yourself. What sins do you want to tackle? Knock them out of your life one by one. What Christ-like trait do you need to display more of? Pursue it and practice it. All goals should lead to the ultimate goal of obtaining the prize of being with Christ face to face.
Have no doubts, Christ is worth the pursuit. So, arm yourself with his Word and take the next step.
My son Peyton is the origami master at our house. We have folded paper all over the place. He makes some pretty awesome creations (we have our whole family in origami form, clothes and all). He once gave me an origami trophy that he wrote “World’s #1 Mom!” on. Except, because of how Peyton writes his “1”s, it looked like “World’s #2 Mom!” I get a kick out of it because it kind of sums up how I feel about my motherhood - just not quite perfect. Not a 10, but closer to a 9. Not 100%, but maybe 90%. Not 1st place, but second…ish…on a good day.
As a mom I often say the wrong things or say the right things the wrong way. I struggle to be consistent with discipline and often give too much correction. Sometimes I forget to give hugs and other times I smother the poor kids. I don’t think I have ever felt like I have this position mastered. If I did, it probably came right before screwing up. Like forgetting to pick my kid up from practice. Or leaving one behind at church (twice). Or consistently calling them by the dog’s name.
My guess is that you often feel the same way. I want to let you know that this is an okay place to be - in fact, it is an awesome place to be. Motherhood is God’s gift to remind us that there is no way we can do this parenting thing without Him. No matter how much we love them, we are incapable of raising our kids well without being fully dependent on Him every day.
God uses “second-rate” moms like us because there are no other types. All of us fall short of perfection because there is no such thing as a perfect person, only a perfect God (see Rom. 3:10 and Ps. 18:30). So if we are his, we can rejoice that he will work through us. He will use these jars of ordinary clay that we are for extraordinary purposes. “Now we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this surpassingly great power is from God and not from us.” 2 Cor. 4:7. We are clay, not gold, so any shine that we display comes from him.
So as we celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend and words of love and praise come your way, be thankful and gracious but direct ALL glory to God. He alone is the cause of any good that comes out of what we do as mothers. He deserves all the credit. “…I will not boast about myself, except in my weaknesses.” 2 Cor. 12:5.
Direct your children to the awesomeness of God and tell them that he is their perfect Father who will never forget them, leave them behind or use the wrong name!
Christian women, this blog post may not make you happy. And if that is the case, you may need to hear it more than anyone. As I type this today I want you to know that when I write about something, it means God is dealing with it in my own heart. He is a God of loving discipline (Heb. 12), and I often feel very loved by him! Yet, there are some of you who need to hear this just like I do. I do not see or hear happiness, contentment, satisfaction or a pleasure of the Lord from you. I see and hear the world. I see anxiety, busyness, and self-absorption pushing out the goodness of the Lord that should be on display.
Many of us have deceived ourselves into separating joy and happiness into different categories. As if one is real and the other fake. We too often allow ourselves to be moody, downcast or grumpy. When asked about joy in our lives, we may respond that we have a deep joy in the Lord, but that doesn’t mean we have to be happy every day. Is this a true statement? The bible teaches us that what is in the heart will be displayed in our lives (and thus our days):
As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man. – Proverbs 27:19
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. – Luke 6:45
Joy is a fruit from the Spirit within us. Happiness is not separate from joy or a superficial form of it. Happiness should be a “symptom” of the joy within us. We are commanded to “Rejoice in the Lord always;” (Phil. 4:4). Even in this verse (and many others like it) the Greek for “rejoice” (chairō ) is translated as “to be cheerful, i.e. calmly happy or well-off” (blueletterbible.org). Being cheerful and calmly happy sounds like a beautiful demonstration of being satisfied with the Lord.
There will certainly be times of sorrow, mourning and seriousness. However, these are not the norm and not adequate excuses to cover the majority of our lives. For even in times of difficulty there should be an undercurrent of contentment as we abide in Christ. What a wondrous testimony to be able to smile and praise while the fiery darts of the enemy are coming at you! The knowledge of victory with Jesus is that sweet.
Does this mean I want you to wear a “mask” of happiness? To slap on a smile and call it good? No. The joy of the Lord cannot be faked, so don’t bother trying. My desire is that you come to a point in your relationship with Christ that you do not feel the need for a mask. That your satisfaction in Jesus is so paramount that you are not hindered by worldly concerns. That offenses, disagreements, and the pains of life all seem petty and microscopic compared to the vast riches you have in God and the depth of grace you see in the face of Jesus Christ.
This is not a simple teaching, this comes with maturity in your walk with God. I see very few women who display such characteristics as this consistently, though it must be pursued. Do not think it will be accomplished without time and effort. And the ONLY way it comes is with deep and long fellowship with God himself. It comes from increasing in your knowledge of him through his Word and finding him infinitely valuable and precious above all else. It is only in his presence that “there is fullness of joy” Psalm 16:11.
Preacher, caretaker of orphans, and man of great faith, George Muller (1805-1898) made happiness in the Lord a priority:
According to my judgement the most important point to be attended to is this: above all things see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord. Other things may press upon you, the Lord's work may even have urgent claims upon your attention, but I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all things to have your souls truly happy in God Himself! Day by day seek to make this the most important business of your life…after much experience I specially commend this point to the notice of my younger brethren and sisters in Christ: the secret of all true effectual service is joy in God, having experimental acquaintance and fellowship with God Himself. (http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/george-muellers-strategy-for-showing-god)
If reading this blog stings today, I hope it is God’s Word doing its work on your heart. Allow it to bite and then take action on it. Go to God who is the source of all joy and abide (live, dwell, remain) in his Word. Be happy in Christ.