Lesson 4

Discipling Children

(Jeremiah 7, Deuteronomy 6, Matthew 18)
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Introduction: It was a tough time when we left the hospital with our first born child. When we put the new-born baby in the car seat my wife was convinced it would kill the baby. I was convinced that if we did not put our baby boy in the car seat he could die. It was an unpleasant conversation, and I'm sure the hospital people wanted us to drive off - which we could not do until we had resolved this issue. My wife won the debate. On the way home, we thought that the hospital had given our son some special liquid that we needed to purchase, but no drug store sold it. Again, we were worried that we would make a mistake that would harm our baby. No one gave us an instruction book to consult for these issues. Did you feel that way with your first-born child? The Bible gives us instructions about child handling. It does not include car seats, but it is lifesaving. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Giving Children Life


    1. Read Jeremiah 7:30. Which house bears God's name? (God is speaking of His temple. In our last series of lessons we learned about the temple sanctuary and how it was central for the removal of sin. We learned that the Most Holy Place was where God was present.)


      1. What have God's people done? (They have put idols in God's house.)


    2. Read Jeremiah 7:31. Instead of offering animal sacrifices for sin removal, what are the people doing? (Offering their children!)


      1. What does God say about this? (It did not even enter His mind that such evil should take place.)


      2. Why would such a horrific thing enter the minds of God's people? (They thought that by offering their children to be burned in the fire, the gods would bless them and make their life better.)


        1. Why do people have abortions these days? (Same reason, except the god is not an idol, but it is the same god of selfishness.)


    3. Read Jeremiah 7:32-34. What will happen to a nation of people who sacrifice their children for their own prosperity, who serve gods other than the true God? (They lose everything they hoped to gain - including their lives and their dignity. Some of the dead are eaten by animals. Not a glorious way to end.)


  2. Giving Children a Knowledge of God


    1. Read Deuteronomy 6:1-3. What is God offering here? (The same thing the prior group of people sought - a better life.)


      1. What route does God suggest to a better life? (Following God's decrees and commands.)


    2. Read Deuteronomy 6:4-5. What is the first command that God gives us? (Read Matthew 22:36-40. The consistent theme in both the Old and New Testaments is that we need to love God first, and we need to love our neighbors.)


    3. Read Deuteronomy 6:6 and Hebrews 8:10. We see this reference to the law being "upon your hearts" or written on "their hearts." What does it mean to have the law written on our heart? (It becomes a part of us. It becomes a part of our will and our nature.)


    4. Read Deuteronomy 6:7-9. It is common for conservative Jews to have a mezuzah, a small container in which is found this Bible text, affixed to the door of the house. As you consider these verses, what do you think is the sense of them? To actually fasten things to your head, hands and door? (Perhaps. But, the deeper sense of this is to bathe your children with God's word. The goal is to have God's will in their hearts.)


      1. Is this possible? Will your children rebel and hate God if you talk about God all the time?


      2. Let' change this to television. Bathe your children with television. Talk about television in the car, when you walk and when you eat. Tie symbols of television on your hands and your head. Have a T.V. t-shirt. Could you do this? Are you doing this?


      3. What if we changed it to the Internet? Have your computer phone on your hands and your head. Wear Google glasses. Could you do this?


      4. It may seem impossible or impractical to bathe our children with God's law, but Satan has surely accomplished this with his messages. When my children were still living with us I recall thinking how I needed to steer the conversation to God's will. That was a challenge.


    5. Read Deuteronomy 6:20. Have you been asked this question by your children? Have you been asked, why is that important? Why should I worry about God's rules? What difference does it make?


    6. Read Deuteronomy 6:21-24. What parallel response can you give to your children? (Talk about your history with God. Tell them how walking with God gives life and prosperity. Do they want to succeed in life? Obey God!)


      1. Of all the missed opportunities I had to talk about God with my children, one area in which I succeeded was that we would read the Bible in the evening. We started with the New Testament and then went to the Old Testament. I would choose an easy to read version of the Bible, the children would take turns reading, and we would discuss what we read. It was enjoyable. Are you willing to do this?


  3. Welcoming Children


    1. Read Matthew 18:1-4. If you have spent a lot of time with children, do you think they are humble? (Hardly! Children are selfish - just like the disciples who wanted to be first.)


      1. Needless to say, this is the Bible and our Lord is speaking, so we can hardly say, "That's wrong!" What do you think Jesus means? (Children had no status in life compared to the adults. The disciples were looking for status over each other. Jesus tells us that we should not be fighting for status.)


    2. Read Matthew 18:5. How is this logically connected to the verses we just read? (You might prefer to spend your time being with people who will give you more status. But, Jesus says that spending time with children "in [Jesus] name" is unequaled in importance.)


      1. What practical point can you draw from this? (We certainly need to welcome children in church. We need to be sure that programs for children are created and adequately staffed.)


      2. What will children think if they show up for Sabbath School and the teacher is not there? Will they feel welcome?


    3. Read Matthew 18:6. How important is our influence upon children?


    4. Read Matthew 18:7. Have you ever heard someone say, "Well, if I didn't sell [something harmful to children] someone else would?" Does Jesus admit that someone will be there to bring harm to children? (Yes. "Such things must come.")


      1. What does Jesus say about the excuse "if I don't do it someone else will?" (He says that is no excuse. "Woe to the man.")


    5. Read Mark 10:13. What do you think is the object of having Jesus touch the little children? (Parents were looking for a blessing on their children.)


      1. Why do you think the disciples rebuked the parents? (They probably thought Jesus had more important things to do.)


    6. Read Mark 10:14. How did Jesus react to the disciples' rebuke? (He was indignant. The Greek reflects deep emotion. Jesus was very unhappy.)


      1. Does that seem to be an over-reaction? (No! We need to understand this: Jesus put a very high priority on welcoming children!)


    7. Read Mark 10:14-16. Recall that in Matthew 18:4 Jesus said that we need to become like little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Now Jesus says that we must "receive" the Kingdom of Heaven "like a little child" or we cannot receive it at all? What does this mean? How would a little child receive the gospel? (Children may have many character flaws, but one universal trait of children is simple trust.)


      1. How improved would your life be if you showed simple trust in God?


    8. Friend, we need to make children a high priority in our home and in our church. We need to do everything we can to lead them in the right path, and not lead them astray. Will you commit to make a special point of this? Perhaps you will be rewarded with a more child-like attitude, one of simple trust!


  4. Next week: Discipling the Sick.

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Lessons on Discipleship (2)

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