Jesus said, "He that believes in me, as the scriptures had said, out of his belly will flow rivers of living water" John 7:38
It was estimated by the US Department of Agriculture, that in 2010 at 3 percent, it costs $291,000 to raise a child from infancy through age 17 for middle-income Americans. That is a lot on money to spend on a child. Imagine after spending all that money and precious time, that child could become a liability and threat to the community. If this venture is analyzed from a business point of view, it would be called a failed and unfruitful investment. Therefore, along with our financial input, there should be teachings and examples of good values, moral upbringing, character shaping, personal hygiene and social responsibility, projected by parents, relative, friends, schools and religious organizations. A child “could” be the product of his environment. Whatever they are taught from birth to 12 years old could impact their future decisions in life.
Proverbs 22:6 - Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
True (Godly) love will cause a parent or guardian to monitor and supervise each step in a child’s growth.
1 Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “ I have no pleasure in them”; 2 While the sun and the light, the moon and the stars, are not darkened, and the clouds do not return after the rain; 3 In the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men bow down; when the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look through the windows grow dim; …
God is calling on this new generation to stand up and challenge the status quo in order to bring deliverance to this lost generation in whose hands the future of this world sits. It is time to move forward to the next level, move past our obstacles, and secure our future. While the church is focusing on blessings, money, control, positions, power, and selfish ambitions, our children who are our future leaders, are trying to find their place in society alone with the help of the devil. They make up a very large percent of the behavioral problems that exist in our educational and correctional institutions today. The Gospel exists today to change lives from the greatest to the least; it is our responsibility to reach them and make disciples of them.
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever receives one such little child in my name receives me. 6 But whoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it would be better for him that a millstone (130 lbs) were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Verse 6 also suggests to me that God is going to heavily judge the men and women who have not repented from sexually abusing or taking advantage of children; or lead them towards drugs, alcohol, prostitution, disrespect, hate, and other destructive behaviors. This includes parents and guardians who hinder children from going to church to learn more of God, especially for personal reasons.
Jesus (the example) Prepares for Adulthood and Service
Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah are Jewish coming of age rituals. According to Jewish law, when Jewish children reach 13 years of age, they become responsible for their actions, and "become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, (English: Son (Bar) or Daughter (Bat) of commandment. In Orthodox communities, a Bat Mitzvah is celebrated when a girl reaches the age of 12. In addition to being considered responsible for their actions from a religious perspective, they may lead prayer and other religious services for the community. The age of B'nai Mitzvah was selected because it roughly coincides with physical puberty. Prior to a child reaching Bar or Bat Mitzvah, the child's parents hold the responsibility for the child's adherence to Jewish law and tradition. After this age, children bear their own responsibility for Jewish ritual law, tradition, and ethics and are privileged to participate in all areas of Jewish community life. The Bar Mitzvah ceremony involves the young man or woman being called to read the Torah, a Haftarah portion, or both at a Shabbat or other service when the Torah is read, and it may also involve giving a d'var Torah, a discussion of that week's Torah portion.Those Jewish young people were trained to be disciples and ministers of the Word of God that was spoken by Moses from the time they were weaned (about 3 yrs old) from their mothers (1 Samuel 1: 22-24). They had to learn everything they needed to know about God and adulthood by the age of twelve. They stood on the same podium with all the other adult Jews, and their age was not a factor. They were not given a separate building or special hour for services. At the age of twelve or thirteen they were not labeled as teenagers, but adults; and they were not isolated. They all participated in the same services.
Responsibilities at Age 12
Whoever becomes Bar or Bat Mitzvah has the responsibilities of an adult Jew under Jewish law. These include:
• Moral responsibility for their own actions
• Eligibility to be called to read from the Torah and participate in a Minyan (prayer service)
• May possess personal property
• May be legally married according to Jewish law
• Must follow the 613 laws of the Torah
Preparation and Study
In many Jewish congregations, the years leading up to a Bar or Bat Mitzvah celebration are spent preparing for the event. They require teens to attend a minimum number of Shabbat prayer services at the synagogue, to attend Hebrew School, take on a charity or community service project, and to maintain membership in good standing with the synagogue.
Luke 2: 39-52
The Family Returns to Nazareth
39 So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. 40 And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.The Boy Jesus Amazes the Scholars42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. 43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; 44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. 46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors and teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. 48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” 49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. 51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, and faithfulness the belt of His waist. 6 “The wolf also shalldwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
Samuel, another example
1 Samuel 3:
1 And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision.
Read 1 Samuel chapters 1, 2 & 3; 2 Kings 2:1
In 1 Samuel Chapters 2 & 4, Eli's two sons Hophni and Phinehas were judged by God for the sins they committed because they did not know God. God was disappointed with Eli because he did not raise them to fear and obey God. Maybe he assumed that because he was a priest in the temple, they would have a heart for God.This type of mindset about the training of children still exist in the Middle Eastern, African, and Asian nations; that is why it is sometimes difficult to convert the people of these other religions to Christianity. They were taught and molded from the time they were weaned from their mothers. Boys were raised to perform the role of men, and girls the role of women. God was also aware of the devil's plan distort His Word with misinformation.
but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
Since most of the Christian countries have raised the ages of adulthood to between 18 to 21 years old, it seems as if our children should have been more than prepared for discipleship and the adult world. They are our future. They will be responsible for the economical, emotional and physical health of our societies, and the spreading and living of the Gospel of Jesus Christ when we depart from this earth. In my assessment, we may have failed them, and need to re-visit our Christian foundational principles. I know that our laws about children differ from theirs, but we have to apply wisdom to the laws we were given to live by. When we struggle with our teenagers, according to God's timetable of adulthood, we are struggling with adults who were not taught the principles of adulthood. We say that "they think that they are grown and know everything", but in fact, they are but were not taught everything. I now have a much clearer understandingof the importance and urgency of the scriptures listed below.
Psalm 127:3 - Lo, children are a heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
Proverbs 22:6 - Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it
But whoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it would be better for him that a millstone (130 lbs) were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
13 Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
Ephesians 6:4 - And, you fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Colossians 3:21 - Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him.
Proverbs 23:13 - Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.
Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come,and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them”:We may look at them as harmless, innocent, immature and senseless "little" humans, but God and the devil see them differently.Let us view a passage of scripture in order to clarify what I mean.
2 Kings 2:23-24
23 Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” 24 So he turned around and looked at them, and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the Lord. And two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.
I could assume that God allowed them to be destroyed because:
-They allowed the devil to use them.
-They were not taught correctly (especially about having respect for other people)
-They may have disobeyed their parents
-God saw them as "old enough" to be responsible for their actions.
-Jesus also expressed His dislike for people who disrespect or put down others.
But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca (worthless),’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
I firmly that believe that God will use younger people to bring about the much needed revival among the nations of this generation around the world. Do not overlook their importance to God and the future of this world, and do not stand in the way of God’s direction for their lives. Let us do what we can with what we have to help our children.
15 Tips for Raising Great Christian Children
I found these tips on a non-Christian religious website which I believe proved very successful in the raising of their children to embrace and be committed to their religion for life (Proverbs 22:6). If these tips are applied to our Christian faith, I believe we would grow very strong and dedicated young Christians. Some of the words in these tips were paraphrased to personalized and bring a clearer understanding of the importance of the subject matter.
15 tips paraphrased
Children are easily influenced by their surroundings. These days, it is extremely difficult to expose our children to an ideal Christian environment given the influences from media, friends and even other members of the family. With television, radio, Internet and forms of media mostly touting non-Christian values, it is up to parents and adults close to the children to set the correct example. It is impossible to shield our children from all the negative forces that can shape their minds and, ultimately, their behavior. However, by our own example and showing them better options, we can set them on the true path, which is to obey the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Here are the tips you may want to follow in helping your children grow up with Christian values:
1. Start by teaching them the importance of only Worshipping God: The best thing any Christian parent could ever teach their children is to emphasize, from the day they can comprehend, that God is One and no other one or thing is worthy of worship except God. This is the fundamental message of Jesus Christ and it is our key to Heaven.
2. Treat them kindly: Kindness begets kindness: If we are kind to our children, they in turn would show kindness to others. Jesus was the best example in being kind to children. (Matthew 18)
3. Teach them examples of Christian heroes: Instead of Batman or Superman, tell them about real Christian heroes such as Jim Elliot, John Bunyan, Apostle Paul, Adoniram Judson, Sadu Sundar Singh, Charles Spurgeon, Billy Graham, Charles Wesley, and others. Tell them how Christian leaders brought a real peaceful change in the world and won the hearts of Christians and non-Christians alike.
4. Let children sit with adults: It is preferable for children to be among adults, especially when listening to Christian lectures. Jesus would often allow children to come to Him when he spoke to the people. (Matthew 19)
5. Make them feel important: Consult them in family matters. Let them feel that they are important members of the family and have a part to play in the growth and well being of the family.
6. Go out as a family: Take family trips rather than allowing your children to always go out only with their friends. Let your children be around family and friends from whom you want them to pick up their values. Always remember that your children will become who they are around with most of the time. So, watch their company and above all give them your company.
7. Praise them: Praise is a powerful tool with children, especially in front of others. Children feel a sense of pride when their parents’ praise them and will be keen to perform other good deeds. However, praise must be limited to Christian deeds and deeds of moral value.
8. Avoid humiliation: Similarly, do not humiliate them in front of others. Children make mistakes. Sometimes, these mistakes occur in their efforts to please the parents. If you are unhappy with your children, tell them in private.
9. Sports: Encourage sports such as swimming, running and horse riding. Other sports that build character and physical strength are also recommended, as long as the children maintain their Christian identity, wear appropriate clothes and do not engage in unnecessary mixing. (2 Corinthians 6:14-15)
10. Responsibility: Have faith in their abilities to perform tasks. Give them chores to do in line with their age. Convince them that they are performing an important function and you will find them eager to help you out again.
11. Don’t spoil them: Children are easily spoiled. If they receive everything they ask for, they will expect you to oblige on every occasion. Be wise in what you buy for them. Avoid extravagance and unnecessary luxuries. Take them to an orphanage or poor area of your city once in a while so they can see how privileged they are.
12. Maintain a parent/child relationship: Do not allow your children to talk to you like they talk to their friends. If you have ever heard how friends talk to each other, then you will know that this is not how a parent-child relationship should be. You are the parents, and they should respect you, and this is what you should be teaching them. The friendship part should be limited to you and them keeping an open dialog so they can share their concerns with you and ask you questions when they have any.
13. Pray with them: Involve them in acts of worship. When they are young, let them see you in the act of prayer. Soon, they would be trying to imitate you. Wake them up for early morning prayers, and pray as a family. Talk to them about the rewards of prayer so that it doesn’t feel like a burden to them.
14. Emphasize on what is permitted: It is not always good to say “this is not permitted, that is not permitted”. While you must educate them on what is not permitted, Christianity is also full of good and permissible things. Teach your children to thank God for the bounties He has bestowed on them and not just for food and clothes. Tell them to be thankful for having eyes that see, ears that hear, arms and legs, and the ultimate blessing, which is God in their hearts.
15. Set an example: As parents, you are the best example the children could have. If you talk to your parents rudely, expect your children to do the same to you. If you are disrespectful to others, your children will follow too. Christianity is filled with Godly advice on the best ways to bring up your children. That makes it an obligation upon parents to be good Christians so that their children would try to emulate them. If you don’t take Christianity seriously, neither will your children. It goes back to our third point, which is to teach them about them Christian heroes, but as a parent, you should be their number-one hero.Teaching them the right things according to God's timetable could affect the toy industry, but we will have a better world to live in.The cost of our system of justice is too much of a burden on our governments and citizens, and cannot be remedied by politics, money, sticks, stones, guns, or legislation. It could only be cured directly or indirectly by the word of God that was spoken through Jesus Christ.
River of Life Evangelistic Outreach