Teaching Our Children: Part 2

When a baby comes into this world he is completely dependent upon his parents. At this stage an infant cannot understand words spoken to it; it is impossible to teach a little baby about God’s Word. But babies can sense human emotions and feelings. They perceive love and comfort through the soothing sounds of their mothers (or other care givers) and they are very sensitive to the sense of touch. They thrive when they are held and have direct contact with other human beings. Touch is a means of communication so critical that its absence retards growth in infants and they simply fail to thrive if they are not held and do not receive skin to skin contact from their parents according to researchers who do studies in this area.

The first few weeks after birth a baby usually does not show real facial expression as far as smiling back or showing any kind of recognition for their parents, they just stare into our eyes with that precious wide-eyed innocent baby look we are all familiar with. The fact that a baby does not show that it is aware of anything yet does not mean that nothing of importance is happening. A newborn baby’s mind is like a new unused sponge or like a brand new computer disk and as soon as he is born, he begins immediately to absorb things into his human spirit; his mind is being programmed just like a computer and soaking up information and impressions just like a sponge. The baby begins to form memories and is being influenced by the sounds, sights, touch that are a part of his environment, whether the influences are negative or positive.

God’s Gifts to Parents, Are Their Children

Psalm 127:3 Lo, children are an heritage [a gift, possession, property, inheritance] of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

God gives parents a most precious gift as His reward when a child comes into existence and is placed in the waiting arms of his parents. God tells us through the apostle Paul that we are to bring up our children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

Teaching God’s Word begins by showing the newborn the loving example of God’s love for them with the language of love, acceptance, touch and caring for their needs.

The Greek word for nurture is ektrephó (Strong’s #1625) and means to bring up to maturity, to nourish, to cherish. The Greek word for admonition is nouthesia (Strong’s #3559).  It means: God inspired warning, admonition, counsel, instruction such as pertaining to the Lord (Christ) or proceeds from Him. (Strong’s Concordance)

As Christian parents, our spiritual goal for our children is that they grow up to have a love for all of God’s Word, and that they will recognize that God’s Word is true and is the ultimate authority on how they should live. Also, our ULTIMATE goal is that they learn of God’s Plan of Salvation and choose to embrace it with all of their hearts and to become a child of the Father and some day enter into eternal life as a member of His spiritual Family.

Paul, in instructing Timothy writes in his letter:

2 Timothy 3:14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 3:15 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. 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 

As God’s called out people we earnestly desire that our children grow up to be men and women of God who are complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work, so it is important that we teach them to receive their guidance for living from the Bible, which is the whole Word of God.

It is part of our calling as Christians to teach and prepare our children to be prepared for whatever time table God has in mind for them for a distinct and special calling from Him. The only way a child can come to Christ is be called by God the Father in heaven, but we still need to fulfill the roll that God places on parents to teach our children about righteousness and the way to eternal life.

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 14:6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

David expresses in Psalm 19 and in Psalm 119  his great love for God’s Word, and for God’s law and that it was more valuable than all the physical riches that can be obtained in this life. The Bible only consisted of a few Books at the time of David and yet he had come to love the Word of God. He had this to say about how wonderful and perfect God’s laws, statutes, and judgments are.

Psalm 119:7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. 119:8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. 119:9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. 119:10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 119:11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

Psalm 119:1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. 119:2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.

Just as David was taught these things as a young child, and they stayed with him throughout his life, we must also teach our little ones, instilling in them a love for God’s Word and for His Laws. In these modern times we are blessed to have all 66 Books of the Bible, both Old and New Testament at our disposal and it is readily available to most people today. 

It is a valuable privilege to be able to share the truth contained in these Books with our children, to teach them to depend on it for guidance and direction as they are growing up and God commands that we do so. We do this by our words and our actions and by our examples to them of how we apply the principles of the Bible in our own lives. From the womb and until the time they are young adults, it is important to instill in our children the love of Scripture, God’s Word and the desire to continue to study, learn from it and then apply it for the rest of their lives.

Learning Begins in the Womb

When a baby is first born, he cannot yet speak our language or fully understand what we are saying to him, but babies are very fast learners. Research shows that babies can hear their parents’ and other siblings’ voices while still in the womb.  Even while the child is still in the womb  parents may speak comforting words of love to their child.  Once born, the infant begins to listen and tune into our words and sentence patterns and can sense somewhat what we are communicating. He uses the power of observation to learn about some of the more nonverbal things – like love, trust, kindness and tenderness, and cause and effect; that exist in his physical and emotional reality.

There are studies that have been done that show that unborn babies can learn and hear while still in the womb and that they respond to the sounds that they can hear on the outside during the later months of pregnancy. At about six months of development in the womb, a baby begins to recognize his parents’ voices and can be either soothed or made restless by certain sounds and certain kinds of music. 

Even as a child in the womb we can begin to have an impact on him by the kinds of music we play, by speaking and talking to him in a loving comforting manner, and we can begin to read Scripture to him before he is even born.

If we are living in a God-centered home and striving to provide a godly environment for ourselves and the rest of the family, and if the baby can hear sounds and pick up on emotions and speech patterns of others; it is possible to familiarize the baby with the poetic rhythm of reading certain Scriptures, singing hymns and spiritual songs even during the final development stage in the womb.

Many parents have probably been doing this for ages not even realizing this ability on the part of the unborn child. If the mom or the dad reads the Bible out loud to their other children that are gathered close to the mother, it makes sense that the unborn child would hear the perhaps muffled sounds as the mother is reading out loud and singing songs and playing music.  A  baby bonds with its parents and starts to learn about life even before he is born.

 

Teaching A Newborn Baby About God

As newborns, babies do not know the meanings of the words we use, but they can pick up on our emotions, such as joyfulness, sorrow, love, care, anxiety, fear, and anger. Every waking moment, the newborn baby is using his senses to take in new information, just like a sponge, about the world and people around him. He still lacks the skills and information that adults and older children use in their thinking processes, but very rapidly he begins to learn from what he is taking in and he is building a unique store of knowledge day by day. 

A baby becomes emotionally attached to the people closest to him, especially the mother; and after just a few weeks he begins to respond to the tone of her voice, her smile, and the comfort of her touch when she is feeding him. Gradually he begins to show his emotions in the form of smiling back, cooing, and sometimes anger.  

As he becomes accustomed to living in the outside world, he soon learns much about trust from the way his parents and other persons in his life respond to him. And if he is receiving proper loving care, he soon learns to feel secure because those in his life come to him when he cries, smiles into his eyes with love and endearment, feeds him when he is hungry and changes him when he feels uncomfortable in diapers. After just a few months the baby’s motor skills progress, his memory gets sharper, his attention span lengthens, his ability to make sounds of his own improves, and he begins to develop social skills, learning to interact with his mother and the rest of the family.

The baby continues to soak up everything in his surroundings; his favorite activity is watching what goes on around him. If he is in a loving home he feels secure in that others will soothe, feed, and play with him when he cries for attention. And we all remember our infants’ first genuine smile back at us, and we feel pure delight that he is becoming aware and responding back to our love with what appears to be joy from him in the form of engaging grins, smiles, and then cooing sounds.

After a few weeks, or about a month or so, our baby is finally actually communicating with us, even if it is a very primitive form of language at first and communicating in other ways than just crying for milk. And it fills mommy and daddy’s heart with such joy!

Babies are really quite intelligent even though they do not know very much; they learn quickly that they can charm and fascinate their audiences with just their smile and the more we show love and happiness to them, the more they respond with the same. The more we sing, talk, and smile at them, the more we are rewarded with the same returned to us but in their own language.

As we read aloud to the infant while he was still in the womb, the reading of the Bible out loud should then continue after the baby is born. He will not be able to understand the words, of course, but he begins right away to associate the reading of God’s Word with being held in a loving and comforting way.

When the mother is breast feeding, is a wonderful time to speak directly to those innocent wide eyes that are looking up at her, to sing spiritual songs and speak of God to him, telling him that he is God’s creation, that he or she is a gift to her and his daddy, that God has a special purpose in life for him.

Babies respond to the sense of touch most of all and it is important to give them lots of hugs, kisses while holding and rocking him to sleep, snuggled and held firmly so that he feels safe and warm. His little brain is recording these things even if he cannot understand them yet and the things that are being recorded are forming memories situated in remote areas of his subconsciousness. God can bring those memories to remembrance at a later date in the child’s thinking processes. 

When a child understands from the very beginning of his existence, that his parents love him and cherish him; will set his attitude towards the loving authority of God; and will serve as a bulwark or spiritual armor against the lies of the wicked one when the child has to step out into the harsh world of bullies and deal with those who do not know God’s ways.

This concept of love, acceptance and forgiveness, that his parents have instilled in him, will carry over into how he looks at God; as a powerful authority figure [like his parents are to him] that loves and cherishes him; and if he goes astray, is eager to forgive and accept him back upon sincere repentance.

Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 4:17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us.

As human beings it is of utmost importance that we know that God loves us and that no matter what happens, God is a God of love. As parents we must instill this truth from the very beginning; that God is good, just, fair, and has a wonderful purpose for us and for all that have ever lived.

We must convey to our young children that God is all about goodness and is going to bring about good for all that turn to Him and embrace His Way of life, and we do this by setting a loving example.  

Parents being the dominant feature of a babies life, the conduct of parents sets the way in which babies will view God in future.  If they are distant they will see God as distant when they grow up, if they are harsh they will see God as harsh and if the parents are affectionate, tactile and loving then the babies will see God as loving when they grow up..

When people doubt God’s love for them, that doubt cancels out the faith that they are to have in God and in His love, the love that took the Son even to the death for us, to atone for our sins.

Doubt and insecurity about who God is and doubting the fact that He really does love us, will bring about all kinds of trouble and baggage, especially heavy and unnecessary guilt even after having been forgiven.

Is it really important what we read or sing to an infant? Yes, it is very important, and so what do we start out with? As 2 Timothy 3:16 teaches, all of the Bible is “profitable,”. We could read the Gospels to them – paraphrasing as simply as possible while keeping the meaning intact –  and tell them about Jesus or perhaps we might focus on Psalms and Proverbs or as they reach toddler stage begin with Genesis. 

Even at this early age we can begin to teach them all of God’s Word write it on the little one’s heart. 

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

Matthew 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 22:38 This is the first and great commandment. 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

When it comes to teaching children about love, it is important that we teach them that love is the keeping of the commandments, and that this is what real godly love is all about.

This foundational concept of what “love” really means, is just not being taught to the children of the world because the whole world has such a warped concept of what love is truly about. Even in the COG organizations, what true love constitutes has been skewed and there is a growing consensus that love means that we are to show a tolerance for sinning and compromise.  This shallow emotional lovey, dovey, type of love that overlooks sin and wrong behavior, strays from the love of God and is false doctrine in our midst.

This is very prevalent in modern day child rearing practices to the point that parents will not discipline their children for fear of offending them or making them feel “unloved”. (We will do an article about “discipline” soon).

Knowing the true definition of “love” and living it, is powerful, for [proper, godly] love is very powerful, it is more powerful than all the nuclear bombs in the world. If every person on earth was suddenly filled with TRUE LOVE as God defines it, and started keeping all of God’s commandments, think about what an impact that would have on the whole wide world. If all little children were taught about the real definition of what true love is, and were expected to live it, we could change the world in a generation. 

But as we have all witnessed in this present evil world and from the prophecies of the Bible, we know that this is not going to happen until Christ returns and sets up His Kingdom. But as stewards of God’s TRUTH and His WAY, we, who are the called out, are to teach this to the ones God has given into our charge and instill it even before they understand…. even from the CRADLE.

As far as songs to sing, there are many children’s songs on the market that we could buy that put psalms to music; or better yet, we can even make up our own songs based on Biblical principles to sing to them. An infant comes to us with a clean slate, and it is important to fill that slate up as much as we can with the law and precepts of God before anything else starts to fill it. 

A baby may seem very unknowing and not capable of thinking for itself, but his brain is learning at a very fast rate and is he growing in brain cells more so than at any future time in his life. We must take advantage of this time to fill him with the good things of God that will stay with him or her for the rest of their lives. At this tender age, we as the parents, are to begin the process of hiding the whole Word of God into their little hearts and show them how they are to continue the hiding of God’s Word there as they are growing up.

Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Teaching God’s Word at Toddler Stage

When our child progresses to the toddler stage and becomes mobile, he is in a constant state of exploration and wonderment; his mind is still rapidly growing and picking up knowledge from the experiences and events that are happening in his every day life.

At this stage it may be harder to keep him sitting still for very long. But we can hold his attention by getting really creative at this time, by reading him the Bible at special times like early in the morning or just before bed time. At this point, children usually love to have parents read to them. We can make the heroes and the events of the Bible come alive to them, by using our voices to dramatize the events and to depict the feelings of the Bible persons. We want to really teach them from the perspective that these “stories” from the Bible are much more than just stories and that, yes, these things really did happen in those days of Genesis or 1st Samuel or whatever Book we happen to be reading from.

It has been my experience that a small child will come to have a “favorite” story that he wants read to him again and again and soon he will learn it by heart; and if you ask him to “read” it back to you, he will tell you the story from his memory using certain pictures and illustrations and will use the same inflections and dramatized tones as you have used when you read it to him (50 times or so). He may not even be able to talk yet, but to him in his own baby language, he is mimicking you and telling you what he has heard you tell him. And he is delighted when you show him how pleased you are at his “reading skills” and how well he recited the story back to you.

And then it is never too soon to begin to read to your children about heroes of faith even as a toddler. We know that even before a child begins to learn to talk, he is already internalizing words and meanings. He may not be able to understand ALL that you are reading at this time but his mind is internalizing much more than we realize. So even if they do not know how to speak the words yet, they begin at an early age to understand what you are saying. So you can take advantage of this wonderful ability on their part to teach them short but fundamental verses and passages that you would like for them to memorize when they do begin to speak. The verses will already be programmed in their little minds and especially if the verses are in the form of music!

Will they understand every word and all of the biblical precepts yet at this stage? Probably not, but they are learning that there is something very special and important about the Book that mom and dad use to constantly read from and they will see us reading constantly from this special Book when they witness us doing our own Bible Studies.

This is also a time when they begin to crawl and learn to walk and they are on a mission! As they explore the world around them we can point out certain things to them (or they may be pointing out things to us) for example as they are watching a bird outside. When they point or try to talk about it we can have them listen to the bird’s singing and we can tell them how God created them to sing and make music and how it was God that created them to fly. We can teach about God’s creation with any number of the things that are catching their attention especially while visiting a new place or walking outside in a natural outdoor environment. There is no limit to the wonders of God’s creation from which to teach!

Teaching our Preschooler about God

When children get to be about three or four, just beyond the toddler state, they are usually able to use words and speak sentences and they begin to ask questions. As they begin to learn words, they will start to ask all kinds of questions for their minds are expanding and learning at a very fast pace and they want to know “why” or “how” about everything!

If children have heard about God all of their lives, they have no hesitancy or shyness to ask about Him as well! And this is our opportunity to explain not only that we are to obey God but why we are to obey Him. They love to have stories read to them and they appreciate their parents attention and look forward to the times when mom and/or dad is completely focused on them and not other activities.

Now when they are read to, they may have questions and the parent can take advantage of their wanting to know and to understand by slowing introducing God’s Plan and Purpose for mankind at a level they can comprehend. Will they understand everything about His plan at his stage? No, but we as parents are laying down the foundation on which we can build upon over the next few years.  Even we as parents don’t really know everything there is to know about God yet, and we can impart to them that learning is a lifelong endeavor, something that is a worthwhile to pursue, and that it is fulfilling and exciting right up to the day we die. 

If they ask us something and we do not know the answer, we can just honestly say we don’t know and then use that as an opportunity to find out the answer if it is possible and allow the child to see us looking up answers for them. This also teaches them about how they too when they are older can research out the things that they do not know and where to find answers.

It is our job as the parents to instill in our children the love of learning. At this exploratory stage of growth we can teach them that life is an adventure, and that we are on a journey on our way to the Promised Land (kingdom of God) and that there is so very much to life than what we can see with just our five physical senses. Also, that it is exciting to be alive and to be able to partake of God’s grand purpose for this life, that it is a precursor of an exciting and marvelous life that we will have eternally if we embrace all that God offers to us and do those things that are necessary for salvation.

It is very important to have a more formal family Bible Study led by the family head each Sabbath, after the Friday evening meal is an excellent time; and on the New Moons.  In that way we are not teaching the study lesson, but by actually doing we are setting an example and teaching our children the proper time to begin the Sabbaths and to observe the Sabbaths and New Moon as God has instructed us.

M others or fathers can read a short piece from the Bible and give a short explanation or talk each evening at bedtime, so that thinking about God as a daily habit is instilled.

We can read to them slowly and clearly but also with our voices dramatizing the events with this age group as well. It is okay to be dramatic, to show what the persons in the Bible must have felt; this will keep their attention and help them to remember the details and to know what it must have been like for the people of God in those days.

When you have a “to be continued” toward the end of the study time especially if this is a routine before bedtime habit each night, they will look forward to the next evening’s bedtime reading to find out more about what happens. Use your creatively to make their time of learning about God full of good times, bonding, and let them feel your love for them and also let them see your love for God and that you are full of zeal and enthusiasm for Him and His Word.

At preschool age the child is usually learning his ABC’s and is gaining in knowledge and practice about words and phrases. He is gaining skills he will need that prepare him for reading when he starts kindergarten and first grade. He may even be able to recognize small words and short sentences.

When our children begin to learn to how to read, (usually in kindergarten) we can help them practice their reading skills with having him read verses in the Bible to us. At the same time we can talk about what he is reading, helping him with difficult and unfamiliar words. We can teach him how to stop and look up words in a dictionary to get the full meaning. Let him express his thoughts on how those words can be used in other sentences and explain the different meanings and how they can be applied differently in other contexts.

By the time your child is reading on his own at about first or second grade level, he should have a Bible of his own and be encouraged to begin to read the Bible for himself. But by all means make reading fun and fulfilling and try to instill in your child’s heart a LOVE for READING as well as a love for the Scriptures for it is the lifelong tool that we will need to implement for as long as we live!

The more we love to read, the more we WILL read, and the more we read and study the Bible, the more we will learn. Associating the skill of reading with learning new and exciting things, while being in a warm, safe relationship with his mom or dad give him that love for learning. Our Father is pleased when parents take the time to be with their children and giving them undivided attention, joking, laughing, but also stressing to them what a treasure house the Word of God is and that the study of the Bible will guide and lead them in the right direction if they are willing to apply the things that they learn.

If our child wants to try to read sooner than the other kids, let him, and encourage him, and give him lots of support and feedback and be available to help him. Help your child develop a reading plan, and encourage him in it. Again, talk about what he is reading and help him with the hard words and ideas that he encounters.

When your child is able to do so have him read short readings from the bible out loud to loud to you day by day and discuss what he has read with him to help him to get the sense of what he is reading.  Be sure to keep these readings short and the discussions interesting. This gets him into the habit of bible reading, gets him comfortable reading to others and helps his reading as you assist him.  As he gets older encourage the youth to join discussions at the formal Sabbath and New Moon services as well as talk abut what he reads during his daily readings. 

Encourage them to ask even more questions and ask them questions. When we read to them a certain passage we can ask them, “okay, “what does this passage man or require of me?” We want to impress on them that Bible reading and studying is for transformation, not simply information. We must show them that what we read, study and meditate from God’s Word will change us if we apply it. God’s Word has the ultimate authority to tell us how to live. Application includes understanding how what God says is right or wrong and knowing truths of Scripture needs to affect our behavior by putting into practice what we read and learn from the Bible.  

In addition the parent is liable to learn more about God’s Word from reading with and teaching the child than the child does himself and beyond the actual study into God’s Word the parent is actually learning how to teach!  Just think!  In the process of teaching our own children we are learning to teach people in the resurrections!

Read directly from the Bible to your children. Children’s “Bible Story Books”  should be avoided.  One should never replace directly reading the Word of God by a parent – or directly by an older child – with a parent there to explain, answer questions and discuss the lesson.  

Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.

Deuteronomy 12:32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

God’s exhortation that He commanded to Joshua is the same for us  and we must not only be doing this ourselves but also be teaching this to our children. If we use study materials that distort God’s truth or His laws then we are not being good examples of this command.

Just as these verses show, if we do not waver from God’s laws and commandments, God promises that we will have good success in life if we do not turn from God’s precepts and laws to the right hand or to the left hand. Perhaps we may never have the material successes that this world portrays as successful but we will prosper in the spiritual things of God in this life; but more importantly in eternal life with God if we stay faithful to the end. These are the things we must be exemplifying to our little ones as well.

Joshua 1:7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest. 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

The main thing is that from the time our children are infants and within the first seven or so formative years, parents can impart their love of God and their love of the ways of God to their when they are young and tender and at the most teachable time of their lives.  No wonder governments and others seek to gain control of our children as young as possible.

There is a general principle that children will come to value what their principle caregivers value. Children are such mimickers and pick up quickly the same habits, opinions, world views, (whether they are good or bad) and it is most important that pick up the values of their parents and not someone who does not share your values. 

For the love of God and His Word to stay with your child as he grows up, he needs to see that your love for God’s Word is real, that you take God and what He says in the Bible very seriously and that your faith helps you in all of your relationships and in all of life’s choices.

Being transparent with our child lets him see how the truth of God’s Word guide us as we make decisions, receive comfort and face challenges. Instill in him that God’s Word can do the same for him, if he will love the Lord and seek Him all of his days, that there is no other WAY on earth that is more important or worthwhile. 

 

Visuals and Object Lessons

Children love to learn from visuals and we can provide them with other things like coloring books that have biblical themes, animals in the Bible, agriculture, and lands that show what it must have been like in biblical times or pictures that depict the times in which the events took place

We can color maps of the lands that the Israelites journeyed through and then the Promised Land and the dividing of the lands to the tribes; or maps of Jesus’ travels when He taught here on earth and where Paul traveled in his ministry. Children especially love it when mom or dad or even grandparents color with them and as we color we can talk about the things that we are coloring. Or we can just give them a blank piece of paper and let them use their own creativity to draw pictures of Bible characters or events.

Older children can be very helpful in teaching their younger brothers and sisters to learn how to color and/or draw and at the same this creates a time of bonding as they talk and make suggestions as to what color or how to make the picture look really good. We can then tape their art work on the refrigerator for all to enjoy!

Also, using object lessons are excellent ways of teaching children certain principles that we are trying to illustrate to them. 

 

Using object lessons and illustrative stories in teaching will put a visual picture in a growing child’s mind that will help him to remember passages of the Bible and the messages they contain for the rest of their lives. Jesus and the other Bible writers often used this method to drive home certain precepts and principles.  

Matthew 13:34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: 13:35 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

 

We can teach little children the excitement of preparing for the Sabbath and watching the sun go down on Friday evening and letting them proclaim to you that the Sabbath has begun and then perhaps have a special dinner with special Sabbath treats for them. On the Sabbath day we can teach about the fact that the seventh day Sabbath represents the Millennium that is coming to earth some day.

When teaching them about the new moons we can point up to the sky and show them the different phases of the moon throughout the month. When the moon disappears for a couple of evenings we can then have them look up to watch for when the new crescent appears and we can explain to them that is how it looks when the new crescent appears in Jerusalem. We can expand on that and tell them about how Jerusalem was chosen to be God’s special city and that someday He will reign from there.  We can even explain to the older children the time differences and expand on the new moon theme to teach them about Jerusalem and HOW it became God’s city and the role it will play in the future.

During the New Moon day we can make that day special for them with family devotions, perhaps a nice family dinner with other like minded friends and extended family present.

What a great time for a full family reunion once a month; for all like minded family members to come together and worship, learn of and rejoice before God!  We can read special stories and what these days represent in God’s plan and give them the big picture of what these things mean. 

Observing these times as God would have us to do, and keeping them as special days show our kids that these days are special for their dad and mom and we will impart to them the importance of observing these days as God admonishes all His people to do.

When we teach these things to our kids and show them these things through fun and informative family experiences, it makes them so much more aware that God is really present in their lives, that it is God that is in control of the marvelous things that appear in the sky and in the wild and that He is such an AWESOME God that created all things! That He created them as well and wants them to be in His Kingdom some day.

 

Our Example Will Speak Volumes To Our Children At Any Age

We need to make the teaching of God exciting and very relevant for our children, not dull and boring nor should we harshly demand that they learn these things. The teaching about God and talking about the things of God should be as natural to them as breathing, and that mom and dad are living examples of ones that live for God joyfully and exuberantly.

Godly parents should show the child what it means to be a Christian by our exemplary example ourselves and by doing so we SHOW them that living God’s way is the MOST excellent way.

During the first few years of your child’s life, you are their living walking breathing “Bible” to them and it is to the parent that they look to, to find out what God their Father in heaven is like, and children immediately pick up on hypocrisy if there is any.

If the parents do not match what they teach their children then there is a high likelihood that they will grow up learning to distrust the Christian faith and bolt from it when they can. Jesus gives very stern warnings about not doing anything that would offend a little child and being the cause of that child turning against Him and His true teachings.

Matthew 18:5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 18:7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

As we know, life is not always a walk in the park so when hard times do come, like illness, loss of a job, accidents, death in the family, etc., the child will look to their the parents’ example of how to trust in God, looking to them to show them about what it means to walk in faith, trusting and believing that God will make every thing work out in His own way and in His own time.

So in times when things are not so fun and enjoyable, we are to teach our children even during life’s difficult times that we will remain faithful and continue to have faith in God and in all of His promises. Parents are to teach that even when tough trials come and show their children that it is to God they are to run to, not to the sinful things of the world to bring relief and solace, but to God’s Word.

Teach them how important it is to keep all of God’s commandments and show them that you are committed to keeping them no matter what. But we are all human and we all sin and we make mistakes.

Our children will witness from time to time when we fail, but then we must be humble in their sight even though they are our own children, and show them how sorry we are when we become aware of the sins in our life. We must be examples of a repentant attitude and humility and this too teaches them what it is to be of a humble and contrite heart. And when we sin against our children, or perhaps cannot keep our promises as we thought we could, it is important to seek their forgiveness as well. This illustrates to them that we too are human, that everyone make mistakes, but when we come to see that we have let God down or others, that we are willing to acknowledge it and seek forgiveness and reconciliation with God and with the people in our lives.

1 Corinthians 13 is a very good guide as to how to be godly examples of loving kindness to our children and to our families.  This is the kind of love that God shows us and if we are examples of what 1 Corinthians 13 is all about, we will exemplify the love of God to them.

1 Corinthians 13:4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 13:6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; (Please see the whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 13)

When we do need to discipline our children after any correction by word or in other ways; be always patient, loving, affectionate and forgiving with all your heart when the child is sincerely repentant; and make the child know he is accepted, forgiven and deeply loved with words and hugs.

If we, the parents, have God’s Spirit, then our homes will reflect the fruits of the Spirit. And when our children are living in the midst of the spiritual fruits of the Spirit that emanate from their parents and others in the family; things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control, they are picking up on these things as well.

As they develop they will begin to emulate these things also; first on a physical habitual level and later in the full intent of the Spirit when they are eventually called, respond by repenting and committing to obey God, and when they receive the Holy Spirit.  And as children if they are living with those who do have God’s Spirit they can be exposed to0 and influenced by the divine nature of God, preparing them for the day when they too will be given God’s Spirit; and what a tremendous gift this is to provide this kind of an atmosphere for them.

Many studies show, and we know this from experience, that children generally mirror back to others the same way that they themselves have been treated. If we treat a child with kindness, he will show kindness to others; if we have been patient with him, he will tend to be more patient to others.

A child that has been yelled and screamed at will tend to yell and scream at others. A child who has been over disciplined and bullied will become a dominator and bully.

Often, as we witness certain behavior traits and habits in a child, we can generally know the behavior traits of his parents. So it is very, very important to be on guard always knowing that our little ones are walking right behind us, following in our footsteps and trying to be just like us, whether it is a good example or a negative example.  It is also very important to be careful about who our children are being exposed to during the early formative years.

Proverbs 20:11 Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.

The early years in the life of a little child are a period of time that they are learning to trust those that represent “God” to them. They are learning about God and what He is about by watching us and like a lump of soft pliable clay their minds are being molded and fashioned by the things that they see us do and by how we live our lives in front of them. They will be influenced by how dependable we are, how we treat them and others, and especially how we treat our spouse, the other parent.

Little boys are learning from dad how to be a man and little girls are learning from mom how to be a woman. They are also learning how men and women interact with each other and will grow up to emulate what they have learned from their parents and how they see each one treats and respects the other.  

The worldly that insist on their rights to have alternate life styles having no clue as to how important it is for children to have a mother and a father and to have the good role models that God intended to teach them about God’s sacred ordinance of marriage and family, about proper masculinity and proper femininity.

As for teaching by our example, it is so important that our behavior is godly at all times and to be aware that we are teaching them about God and His ways with our behavior, demeanor and with our attitudes even when we are not teaching them with words.

If they live in a peaceful, joyful, godly home; that will be the standard that they will come to know and that is what will seem “normal” to them. Many children that come from very dysfunctional ungodly homes learn to view that as very normal to them as they have never known any other way. It is hard for them to discern good from evil and good friends from evil friends when they get older.

 
“And Ye Shall Teach Them To Your Children”
 
Jesus teaches us that the Word of God is our foundation. It’s what we build our lives on and it’s what our children should build their lives on. God’s Word is the truth, and Jesus said,
“… And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)
 

Jesus also taught His disciples  that whatever they receive from God, that is the message we are to teach others, including our children who are a type of “disciples”.

John 17:8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

The world is what it is today because humanity does not live by every Word of God. As godly and faithful parents, we are to be beacons of light to the world as to how to bring up our children, exemplifying to them and teaching them the absolute truths of the Bible and the eternal principles and sound doctrines that underpin the whole of God’s Word.

God gives His spiritual children; “children” of their own as a most precious gift and we are to teach them God’s Word and His ways from the very first day they are placed in our arms. In Psalm 127 God says that they are our HERITAGE and our REWARD.

When we leave this present physical world at our passing, we can take nothing with us except the character we have developed during our life time. But if we have been diligent in bringing up our children in the nurture and admonishment of the Lord, and they build from that early training and choose to follow God for themselves, then they will be with us for all eternity, as part of the Family of God and, oh, what a REWARD that will be. 

So there is something else besides our character and that something is our children if they want to be there and if they choose the path that we have lit up for them; actually it was really God that lit it up for them, He just uses the parents as His instruments and gives us our marching orders as to how we are to be instrumental.

Deuteronomy 11:19 And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 11:20 And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: 11:21 That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.

Most habits are formed when children are young. What we are taught as children, we internalized more than at any other time in our lives and it becomes the basis for our worldview, ethics, convictions, and behaviors in our adult years. The Psalmist recognized this principle and said that as he had been taught in his youth, so he would show [teach] it to the next generation, and then even beyond by saying “thy power to every one that is to come.”
Psalm 71:17 O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. 71:18 Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.

2 Timothy 3:14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 3:15 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.

Just as we studied last week, Lois and Eunice (Timothy’s mother and grandmother) taught Timothy from his youth; they, with God’s help, were able to impart to him their faith and to help make him wise unto salvation through the faith that is in Jesus Christ. This is our goal too; we desire with all our being that our children, just like Timothy, would be made wise unto salvation and have the opportunity to enter eternal life as a member of God’s own spiritual Family.  

 James Malm and Constance Belanger

Note-  Constance submitted the original rough draft of this article in 2016, which I then completed for posting.  Constance left any association with TheShiningLight in late 2017 and is no longer of like mind. 

At the end of 2016 Constance retired from writing for TheShiningLight, and in 2017 she drifted in another direction and disassociated herself from TheShiningLight.

 

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