Disciples Making Disciples
(Joshua 4, Matt. 28, Genesis 37)
Introduction: Jesus calls each of us in Matthew 28:18-20 to make disciples of "all nations." Would this include making disciples of our children? Of course it would! Last week we discussed what the Bible teaches about the blessings and challenges of having children. This week we turn to the topic of "discipling" our children - teaching them to love and obey God. Let's jump into our study!
- Read Joshua 3:14-15. Imagine that you are one of the Israelites heading towards the place God has told you He will give you as your home. You come to the Jordan river and have to cross it with your family and all of your possessions. Unfortunately, the river is at flood stage. What are your thoughts and your concerns?
- Read Joshua 3:15-17. Now, tell me, how do you feel? What is your attitude towards God?
- Read Joshua 4:1-3. Those of you who have spent time in the outdoors, tell me what these stones would look like? How would they differ from other stones in the area? (They would be very smooth - perhaps even have a little shine.)
- Read Joshua 4:4-5. Did this require faith on the part of the stone retrievers? (The water is still piled up. I would be concerned that it might come down on me!)
- Why do you think Joshua chose 12 stones? (One to represent each tribe of Israel.)
- Read Joshua 4:6-7. What is the purpose of these stones?
- Read Joshua 24:25-27. What is the purpose of this stone?
- Read 1 Samuel 7:12. What pattern do we see with the use of stones and the relationship between God and the people? (They memorialize great events in the history of God's people.)
- Read Joshua 4:20-24 for the end of the story about the stones from the Jordan river. Notice especially verses 21-23 and the comment about children. What lessons about teaching our children can we learn from this story? (1. Teaching children is an intentional act of the Christian community. 2. Teaching the children involves using something that catches their attention. Did you notice that Joshua intended the stones to be attention-getters? 3. The stones are a consistent generation to generation reminder. 4. The stones remind the children of God's power, love, care and provision for them and their parents.)
- What can the church do today to create "stones" for teaching the next generation? (Read Exodus 12:12-14 and Exodus 12:26-27. By observing and explaining religious holidays we can create "stones" for our children.)
- How can parents create "stones" in their home for teaching their children?
- Is the weekly Sabbath a "stone?"
- How can you create a visible reminder of the Sabbath?
- How would you make sure a "stone" does not become an idol?
- Read John 13:34-35, Matthew 5:44 and 1 John 3:14. If Christian parents are to show love to others, should they show it to their children as well?
- Parents of teens, does Matthew 5:44 resonate in your life? (We may be tempted to return hurtful words with hurtful responses. We may be tempted to turn away from our children when they say they hate us. But if enemies deserve better, so do our children.)
- Parents, leaving aside the question of discipline, would you say the things to others that you say to your children?
- Read Exodus 4:22-23 and Isaiah 66:13. How does a child's view of God get influenced by his parents? (God consistently portrays Himself as our parent. If you want your children to have a proper view of God, you need to be very careful about the mental picture your children draw from the word "parent.")
- Read Genesis 37:3-4. Is this a foreseeable result of showing favoritism among your children?
- What problems followed because of father Israel's (Jacob's) favoritism in his love? (Scan Genesis 37:23-36. Would it be too far a stretch to say that 400 years of Hebrew slavery can be traced back to this event? Parents, do not show favoritism!)
- Read Proverbs 22:6. What do you think it means to "train up" your children?
- Let's look at some texts that more fully explain this "train up" idea. Read Genesis 18:19. What did God expect of Abraham as a parent? (Do what is right and just.)
- Read Proverbs 2:1-9. Notice that these verses have an "if/then" sequence. What are children called to do? (To seek to know God and His will.)
- What does God promise if they do this? (God will given them wisdom and understanding which will help to protect them from making harmful mistakes in their life.)
- How can parents instill in their children a desire to know God and His will? (The first thing they must do is present God's words to their children. They should be presented as something that is desirable.)
- Read Proverbs 3:11-12. What should a child's attitude be towards discipline?
- How do we teach that attitude to our children? (This gets back to the "stone" issue. If God has disciplined you, tell your children about it and how it has helped you to grow.)
- Read Proverbs 1:8-9. How is learning from parental teaching like wearing jewelry? (It makes you more attractive.)
- Do you know some "good" kids that just draw you to them? You feel pleasure in talking with them? I think that is part of what Proverbs is talking about in this text.
- Read Proverbs 3:13-15. What is another benefit of parents teaching their children the wisdom of God? (It makes you rich. Whether this means rich in money is not clear, because the Bible says that God's wisdom is better than money.)
- Read Proverbs 3:17-18. What else lies in wait for those parents who teach their children to accept the wisdom of God? (Peace, blessings and life.)
- Parent, do you want your children to have a great life here and eternal life hereafter? Disciple them. Show them God's love. Teach them the wisdom from the Bible. Remind them with "stones" of what a great God they serve! Will you determine today to do this?
- Next week: Wise Words for Families.