Saturday, January 18, 2014

And When You Walk By the Way

Ephesians 6:4
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Deuteronomy 6:5-7
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

Obviously, reading in context, the command in Deuteronomy 6 was specifically given to Israel. That is clear. But in light of the New Testament, it is also clearly a principle to be followed by all of God’s people, including those of us on this side of the Cross in the New Covenant today - to train up our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. As Christian parents, we have a high calling, obligation, and privilege to teach the faith to our children. We must instruct them about who God is, and tell them of His Holy Law, and tell them that they have broken that Law and are sinners, as are we all, and tell them over and over and over about the great Good News that God sent His Son to redeem a people to Himself, that for those who repent and trust in Jesus, there is salvation, and in Jesus alone there is salvation. As parents, we are to make sure that our children know God’s Word and know that Jesus is precious, and that He alone can save and that He is mighty to save and that in Him there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who understand that they deserve God’s wrath, but who repent and place their trust in Jesus who is the great Passover Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. And we are to teach our children what it is to live in that Light.

What has me thinking today, as it has often, is the part of the verse that says, ‘and when you walk by the way.’ As important as times of formal teaching are, and they are vitally important, because it is by hearing the word that faith comes. How are they to know if we do not tell them? But as important as formal teaching time is, I think equally important for our children is that they see us believing and living and talking about the faith day in and day out as we walk along the way of life. They need to know that this faith we teach them matters. And it matters deeply and profoundly in how we think and live and move and act. Our children learn by watching us every bit as much as they learn by hearing us. When we sin, and we will sin, do our children hear us confess and repent of sin? Do they hear us preaching the gospel to ourselves and to them as we go about living life? If someone were to ask our children what matters most to their mom or dad, would ‘Jesus’ be the answer? Do they see that in our daily lives? I’m not saying this as a guilt thing, heaping up laws to follow. I’m looking deeper. Does the gospel so matter to me that it is the warp and woof of my life, that other things, while important and a part of life, just aren’t as important in comparison? Do I talk about Jesus? Do I love Him so much that obeying Him is what I want to do out of gratitude, not legalism? Is the fruit of my lips gospel talk, not just on Sunday, not just during conscious Bible-teaching times, but as the overflow of life?

I had a glimpse of grace the other day. I brought home the music for Sunday so I could pull out the keyboard and try to plunk out the alto part in an attempt to be ready for Sunday morning. One of the songs I was working on was “There is a Fountain,” one of my very favorite hymns. As I was plodding through the alto line, my 12-year-old son, my middle child, looked up and said something along the lines of, “I really like that one. It’s one of my favorites.” I smiled, and immediately remembered why that song might be special for him, whether he knows it or not.

I was taken right back to the days of new motherhood, hours and hours and hours of rocking a crying, sleepless baby, desperate for sleep myself, crying out to God for the grace and patience to get through the sleepless nights with a baby who just did not want to sleep, and the song that I sang, through tears sometimes, but over and over and over, because sometimes it was just the only song that would come to my sleep-deprived mind, was “There is a Fountain.” I sang that thing to our oldest, our middle, and finally our youngest, wearing out the rocking chair, turning sleep deprivation and sometimes despair to praise and worship in the quiet of the nightlit nursery room to the strains of that cherished hymn, which often was the only prayer I knew to whisper when a colicky baby needed comfort. 

So it’s no surprise to me that my boy, now 12, no longer a baby, would look up and recognize and love that song. It’s been a part of the warp and woof of his life as long as he can remember. And I am so thankful to God for the grace that allowed my mind to turn to Jesus in the midst of those oh-so-short-in-hindsight sleepless nights. That is a gift that He supplied to turn my heart to Him. And I also pray that as these children are older now, that I would be faithful in teaching them the gospel, both formally and informally as we walk along the way. May they know that Jesus is precious and that I believe what I’m teaching them with all that I am, these are not just words to me, they are life. When I fail, and I do fail, I do sin so often, please, Lord guard their hearts and their minds and help them to see that Your Word is true, and that You will never fail, and help them to learn the power of the gospel to forgive our sin. Help them to know that we are accepted in Christ, not on the basis of anything we could ever do, but solely for the sake of Christ, on the basis of what He has done on the Cross and the Resurrection. Jesus is the Light of the world. He is the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. By His blood, we lose our guilty stains and rejoice to have our sins washed away. He is Lord. He is worthy. Please, Lord, let me live a life and use the words that tell that to not only my children, but please let the overflow of Your grace tune my heart to sing Your praise and to tell others about You, about their need for the Savior. Help me to share it first to my children, yes, but outside the walls of our home as well. Loose my tongue, and let us be gospel people who are quick to share it.

I think this is a small part of the ‘as you walk along the way’ that we live. Turning our eyes to Jesus, and sharing Him with the people in our lives, making the music of our home be the gospel, most of all. 

There is a Fountain

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins; 
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day;
And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.
Washed all my sins away, washed all my sins away;
And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.

Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more
Be saved, to sin no more, be saved, to sin no more.
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more.

E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.
And shall be till I die, and shall be till I die;
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.

Then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sing Thy power to save,
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.
Lies silent in the grave, lies silent in the grave;

When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.

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