TEACHING CHILDREN TO APPLY THE SCRIPTURES TO THEIR LIVES
In our culture there is a great need not only for children to be taught the Word of God, but also to be taught how to apply the scriptures to their everyday lives. They can be taught a measure of the former without knowing the latter. Children will not learn this by osmosis. The culture in which we live, is anti God and anti scripture, and is teaching our children every day. Unless parents are diligent in the duty of teaching their children the truths of the Bible, their children will absorb the worlds belief system and lifestyle.
A. Children must be taught the Word of God.
Parents, particularly fathers, have been admonished to teach their children the Word of God. Most Christian parents have read the following verse:
Ephesians 6:4, "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
A wonderful and blessed home it is, where the father does this and teaches his children himself, and brings them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
There are all too many homes, however, where the father does not take this admonition to heart, and does not do his part in these things. There are also many homes where the father is not saved and does not care anything about obeying the scriptures. In these homes where there is a believing mother, she is likely in conflict. She is likely to wonder, "Is there no hope for my children? Will they go the way of their father?" Our questions today are, "Can and will the Lord use this mother to mold her childrens hearts, without their fathers help?" And, "What should these mothers do?"
Many women, whose husbands do not involve themselves in the scriptural teaching of their children, feel guilty taking on the fathers role in these things, and may abdicate their own responsibility. They may sit back and say, "It is the fathers responsibility, and so it is not mine," and thus they do nothing. Is a mother to take on this responsibility, also?
Women take heart! There is a very clear answer! The Lord has given an example, written just for you, to show that you can have a very large part in the teaching of the scriptures to your child, and in the molding of his (or her) spiritual nature. The Lord will use the scriptures you have taught him, to work in your childs heart and life, even if his father does not help in any way.
This most wonderful example is found in II Timothy. We find in chapter 1, that Timothys faith in God was because of his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois.
2 Timothy 1:5, "When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also."
The scriptures tell us that Timothys father was a Greek. The following verse seems to indicate that he was not a believer:
Acts 16:1, "Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:"
Therefore, we can probably assume that Timothys father did not play a part in Timothys spiritual life.
When we look over into chapter 3, we find that Timothy was taught the scriptures from an early age. We assume because of what was said in chapter 1, that it was his mother and grandmother who taught him the Word of God, from childhood.
2 Timothy 3:14-15:
14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Lois and Eunice taught Timothy well, starting when he was very young. They evidently had a very strong influence on his life. Timothy later became a very faithful believer in Christ and a preacher of the gospel of the grace of God. No doubt he has influenced many down through the ages.
We also can see in verse 15 that the last half of the verse insinuates that Timothy was not saved as a child. In fact we know from other passages that Paul calls Timothy his "son" in the gospel, meaning a spiritual relationship . Timothy was saved after he heard Paul preach, no doubt. Paul admonishes him to remember the things he, Paul, had taught him and to continue in these things. "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them."
Thus we know it was the foundation of the Holy Word of God that prepared Timothy to be saved when Paul preached the gospel of the grace of God to him. This foundation came from his mother and grandmother.
Mothers, you can do the same thing. You can prepare your children to be saved and to live lives of service to the Lord, if you, too, will be diligent to teach your children as Eunice and Lois did.
I love the fact that the Lord also included Timothys grandmother in this passage. I think we can also assume from this, that aunts and uncles and anyone else close to the child can also have this great influence on him.
B. Teaching children to apply the scriptures to their daily lives.
1. Practical application is so important.
Not only are parents and grandparents to teach their children correct doctrine and what the Bible says, but they must also teach children to apply it to their lives practically. In fact, parents cannot effectively teach the Word of God to their children without also teaching it practically!
It is a sad thing to see an adult child of God, who knows what the Bible says, but who does not allow the Word to work out effectually in his life. This surely must grieve the Lord also. We know this because there are passages that state that we can grieve the Lord with our actions and lives. A couple of these are:
Psalms 78:40-41, "How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel."
Ephesians 4:30, "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."
Gods will is that all saved people live lives pleasing to the Lord!
9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Not only should parents be teaching their children the Bible, but they must also make sure the children know it is relevant to their lives. To effectually teach and train a child, this must be a very important part of their upbringing. Parents have been given a promise concerning this, found in Proverbs 22:
Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
For me, this has been a foundation verse, and its associated promise, that I clung to continually throughout the raising of my children.
2. Parents must not leave this job to others.
Many parents leave all teaching of the scriptures up to a Sunday School teacher or other teacher of their children. This is wrong and may not bring about a life-changing attitude about the Word of God in their childrens hearts. They must also know it is extremely important to you, their parent. You must teach them it is relevant to their daily activities. You yourself, must involve yourself everyday with your children to teach them this. As opportunities arise in his day, a mother (or father) needs to point her child to the scriptures. The scriptures should never be something a child only thinks about on Sundays.
3. Use the scriptures to correct your child.
Prov 29:17 "Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul."
Prov 29:15 "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
Note in the above verse that the rod alone will not effectively correct the child. The reproof from the Word of God must also be a part of the whole disciplinary process.
During disciplinary situations, using the absolute final authority of the scriptures will make more of an impression on a child, than any words a parent can say. If your child has already been taught that the scriptures are true and right and that they are Gods Words and not mans, then he will have respect for this authority over him.
A friend once told me that she had scolded and disciplined her children for years without much change until she started using the scriptures to correct them. She said it was like a light bulb came on. Suddenly the authority of the scriptures, that is, what God had said in His Word, that made the difference. She began to see a difference in their attitudes. Children need an absolute authority in their lives. This should be the Word of God. They should believe, "If God said it, I believe it, and that settles it!"
Mothers, whenever possible in disciplinary situations, again ask the question, "What Bible verse does this remind you of?" Let the child tell you the answer. This will get him to really thinking. In other words, rather than always saying to children, "The Bible says you are to obey your parents", ask them for the verse, instead. Having to speak the verse out loud to themselves and to you will help to imprint it more firmly in their hearts.
Let your children know you discipline them because you love them. You want the best for them and you want them to grow up to be godly men and women. You want them to please the Lord in their lives. When your children know why you discipline them and correct them from the Word of God, they accept it much more easily. I have often told of the time when my children were very young, that one day my son told me that his neighbor friends mother did not love her son. I asked him why he thought that, and he said that the Bible says if you love your son you will spank him, and his friend's mother did not ever spank her son when he didnt mind. I was so glad that I had often quoted from Proverbs 13 when spanking him.
Prov 13:24 "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes."
I knew then that my son truly believed what the scriptures said.
4. Teaching the scriptures should never be used only for disciplinary measures.
To use the scriptures only to correct a child might produce a negative concept of the Word of God. The scriptures should be applied to every area of a persons life. And it should be taught to children, day and night, every day.
The Lord gave the following instruction to the Jews under the law, about teaching their children the Old Testament law. Should we, who are saved by grace and thus should love our Lord more than anyone in history, do any less? I personally believe that every saved parent today should use this passage in a spiritual application sense to see how they might more effectively be teaching their children the Word of God and its application to their lives.
6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
5. Apply the scriptures in a positive way.
During any activity of her day or time with her child, a mother would do well to find a way to incorporate the scriptures into this time.
A good question for a mother to ask a child during these times is, "What Bible verse does this remind you of?" If, when asked this question, the child answers, "I dont know," then you can say, "Well it reminds me of..." Many children, however, who have been faithfully taught the scriptures will have a ready answer, even at an early age.
For example, if you are looking at a beautiful sunset, a good verse would be, "He hath made every thing beautiful in his time..." (Eccl. 3:11).
Another question might be, "Who made this beautiful sunset?" A good verse could be, "...God, who created all things by Jesus Christ..." (Eph. 3:9)
An important additional note to this is that parents are also to teach doctrine at every opportunity. In the above example, Jesus Christ was God at the beginning of the creation, and He made everything. Therefore you are teaching the trinity.
To be able to do an effective job of this kind of teaching, a mother herself must be busy reading and memorizing scripture verses in order to be able to use them in conversations with her children. "...shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way". (Deut. 6:7)
Another form of teaching in a positive way, might be to ask a child, "What do we learn from this?" This could be done after a discussion about something that happened to the child, or to someone else. It can also be asked after viewing programs from which a spiritual lesson can be drawn.
For example: My husband was sitting with some of our grandchildren in his lap, watching a "Veggie Tales" song video. After each song, he asked, "What do we learn from this song?" The children responded with positive answers about moral lessons, and a couple of them quoted verses in their answers. I felt this was a positive influence on their lives in many ways.
As an additional note here, I must say that I am not advocating that when a child views something that is not spiritually healthy, it can be righted by a mere Bible discussion. Some parents seem to take this view and usually it is an excuse for not having the inner fortitude to turn "the set" off. On the contrary, the sinful practice seen or words spoken that go into the child's mind will be forever imprinted there.
6. Use Bible games to teach. Most educators know that children learn very easily in a positive, game type of atmosphere.
A mother might choose to play a game with the question, "What verse does this remind you of?" Come up with hypothetical situations and ask the child what verse would apply. I have done this in Sunday School and in Bible conferences where I have taught. Kids usually like this game very much. They need to have a few verses stored away however, for this one. (Psalms 119:11: "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.")
Another good thing to do is to cut pictures out and paste them in a special book, or all around the house and talk about Bible verses that apply to each one.
Post Bible verses around the house. "And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates." Find ways to play games with these posted verses. "I Spy" is a good one. Ex.: "I spy a verse about Gods creation".
In this way, a mother is encouraging memorization or remembering the meaning of the verses. Even preschoolers can learn verses that are written out for them to look at. They will remember certain letters, or how the verse looks as a whole.
Play certain Bible games that help children to remember verses, or to learn new ones. One example is to write out a verse on a board with some of the words left blank, and have children fill in the missing words.
"Hangman" can also be adapted to this and is good for verses also. In hangman, you can have missing words instead of missing letters. Short parts of verses are good for this one.
In a similar way, a mother might create games by writing many verses on 3 X 5 cards. These could be the verses that she wishes her children to be familiar with. She can keep these together for playing different games.
One game could be "I spy". Simply place these verses around a room, and play the game. For younger children, a picture from a magazine could be pasted to the 3 X 5 card. The child then would be able to recognize the picture and associate a verse with the picture. The picture could either be on the same side as the written verse, or on the opposite side, depending upon the form of the game to be played.
A mother might wish to use cards with pictures on the opposite sides as a type of "flashcard" game. Show one side, maybe the picture side, and the child tries to think of a verse the picture reminds him of. Or the parent might show the verse side and read it to her child. The child will answer as to which picture is on the back and what the picture means to him as to how it applies to the verse.
7. Teach your children why learning Bible verses is good for them.
A good verse for children to absorb the meaning of, is Psalms 119:11.
Psalms 119:11, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."
The scriptures plainly state, that it is Gods Word, implanted within our hearts and minds, that helps us to forsake sin.
Therefore, the best thing a parent can do for a child is to help him to memorize verses. Parents today tend to think this is too hard for children, but in actuality it is too hard for the parents! Parents are usually too lazy or too busy to put the effort into helping their children to learn verses. Children are like sponges, they can learn so much more easily than most people realize. When my children were in Christian school in the 70s, they had to memorize a couple of verses a week, starting in kindergarten. The amount was increased each year in grade school. By the time they were in high school, they had to memorize whole passages or chapters, each week. For Bible team contests they also memorized whole books of the Bible! This to me, was an amazing feat, but they both actually accomplished this!
Teach your children that everything the Bible says is right. That is why we must know what it says.
Psalms 33:4: "For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth."
Psalms 119:105: "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."
Teach your children that Gods Word will guide their daily walk and their lives. As they acknowledge Gods Word and put it into its rightful place in their lives, the Lord will direct their paths. Remember parents, to acknowledge (in Proverbs 3:6), the Lord, is to acknowledge His Word!
5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
8. Teach your children the story of Jesus confrontation with Satan, in Matthew 4:1-11. This is a wonderful Bible lesson to teach the importance of learning the scriptures. Each time Satan tempted Him, Jesus, our Lord, quoted Bible verses to him in response. In each of these times, Satan could not argue with the Word of God, and finally left our Lord for a while. This is a great lesson for spiritual application and should be taught to every child.
C. We must conclude that there is nothing more important than teaching children the scriptures.
Mothers, teach your children the scriptures. Teach them diligently! Write them all about your house and talk of them when you are walking, sitting in your house, going to bed, or rising in the mornings. Use every means available to you to do this. Show your children by your example and by your conversations with them, that God's Word is the most important thing they will ever learn!
(To be continued.)