I am not the greatest parent in the world. As a disciple of Jesus, I have not done well in making a new disciple. Right in my own household, I have a child who needs to know all I can teach him about God. Oh, he is learning about God. But how much closer to Jesus would he be if I was more active in discipling Ben?
He gets to hear two preachers preach. He has been involved in youth and children’s activities over the years. There was that one time when he was younger that he played his drum as Maria sang “The Little Drummer Boy.” Ah, that was a good time!
There was the time when Ben was about 4 or 5 years old. We had Holy Week services at one of the churches. We had Holy Communion that night, so it was probably the Maundy Thursday Service. We were going to eat our dinner after the service. Ben was sitting at the table, were we had placed the extra bread and the grape juice. As I was coming back into the dining room, here is Ben, lifting up the bread to me and saying: “ The body of Christ broken for you.”
There is so much more I can teach him. Can I teach him how to pray, even going beyond popular phrases? Can I instill in Ben the love of the Scripture which can carry him through his life? Can I yet teach him how to be a disciple of Christ Jesus? These questions, and more, have come to me as I am looking for ways to encourage this church to disciple children.
A. Keep on doing that things you have been taught (4:9)
1. We have been taught to love our neighbors – then let’s love them
2. We have been taught to imitate Jesus’ humility – then let’s be humble
3. We have been taught the good news – God sent Jesus to us so we can get to God – let’s remember this truth!
4. I have read over the years many articles saying churches need to get beyond the felt board cut-out stories of the Bible. The easel with the felt board needs to be thrown out. At least that is the idea when we are trying to find ways to reach the younger generation. If we ever used a felt board, then maybe we know what they are like. However, in the process of trying to adapt to a newer generation, we don’t throw out the Bible stories! We get to teach the children about David, Solomon, Peter, and Paul. We get to show the children how to give to God through the church by tithing. We get to raise up new disciples by being disciples ourselves!
B. Find how to be content with whatever you have (4:10-13)
1. Paul had many rough times as a follower of Jesus
2. The churches in Asia helped him with finances and prayer
3. Paul’s needs were met – no matter the situation
4. Paul knows contentment – a self-sufficiency from knowing Jesus
a. He gave up all so he may have Christ (3:7-11)
b. Being humbled like Jesus, Paul has found a good standing/righteousness with God because of faith in Christ
5. Have we come to realize contentment in our lives? Have we come to know God provides for us in all circumstances? This contentment helps us to make disciples, even in our own homes. For when we are in good standing with God, we are able to naturally pass on what we know about Jesus. We can pass along our excitement about our favorite music and movies. We can learn to pass along our contentment about our favorite Messiah. What if we are not comfortable talking about our faith, with anyone? What if we don’t feel prepared to help our children or grandchildren to be disciples of Jesus?
C. What is the secret to get beyond our comfort and our preparation? (4:13)
1. Going hungry, yet content?
2. Being well-fed, yet content?
3. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”
4. Christ can strengthen us we learn to know our situations & have peace
5. Christ can strengthen us as we remember what we have been taught so we can teach the children
6. Christopher Miles Ritter shared in his book, Seven Things John Wesley Expected Us to Do for Kids, how John Wesley leaned on Philip Henry’s “Method of Family Prayer” to instruct the preachers. Henry used the model of the monastery to guide families in growing disciples. The model includes:
a. Family worship – twice a day (song, prayer, & Scripture)
b. Thursday evening – taught from the catechism – religious studies
c. Saturday evening – quiz time – about what they learned that week in family worship
d. Sundays – “little Easter” – doubled the time in family worship, attending public worship, prayer for the surrounding towns, reciting Psalm 139
e. Philip Henry: “He who would make his house a little church, shall find that God will make it a little sanctuary.”
7. To know Christ is to be content, whatever the situation. He can and does strengthen us. Will we take the time to know Christ? We may not follow this “Method of Family Prayer” completely. Yet, can we not spend a bit more time praying with our families? Can we not spend a bit more time reading the Bible with our families?
I have begun to read the Scripture from my devotions with my family. We may even sing a hymn that goes with the Scripture. Of course, Maria leads the singing! But we are starting to spend more time worshiping God as a family.
I want my household to be content with Christ. I want my family to have the God of peace with us. Will your family join my family in striving to be content with Christ? Will your family join my family in knowing the God of peace will be with us? It will be good for Maria and I to help Ben to be a disciple of Jesus. Won’t it be good for our children and grandchildren to disciples of Jesus? Then let our families start worshiping together.