Acts 1:21-22 “Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
as i was studying the books of acts this fall, the above verses glared at me and i have been pondering them quite a bit. it wasn’t enough for judas’ replacement to have simply heard of Jesus and His miracles and power. this replacement needed, as one commentary stated, “to have accompanied the disciples throughout the course of Jesus’ ministry (from His baptism to His ascension), thus assuring that he could speak about things he has seen personally.” so when i was asked to speak to the “moms and more” group at church, this passage jumped to the forefront of my mind. no, we are not in charge of replacing judas (good thing, because i could royally mess that up), but we are challenged and called to raise children to be authentic disciples of Jesus, so they can testify to the things they have seen in and through Him.
how do we help children be eyewitnesses to the living Christ thousands of years after He walked the earth? i believe if we want kids to see the power and life-changing potential of Jesus, we must get them in the word – not simply stories about Him. we must plan to be purposed in engaging children with the living word of God.
“For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.” Hebrews 4: 12 amplified
“Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action).” 2 Timothy 3: 16 amplified
to live by the scriptures we have to help children hide them in their hearts. as adults, we can surely testify to a time when being able to recall/recite scripture to ourselves from memory brought peace, joy, comfort, direction, or discernment. i believe these fruits are truly the reward for hiding God’s Word in our hearts. that is why in the classes i teach, i have children memorize scripture, but not for any kind of reward. i explain to them the “prize” for knowing God’s Word may not come to them the day they say their scripture to me, but it can come at a time when they most need it and will be of a much greater worth than the temporary reward i hand them. scripture memory alone stops shy of the goal if we don’t help children see how it applies to their life. so, as we are practicing God’s Word with them, we must be deliberate about helping them see: what is to learn, the example(s) shown, or what we should put into practice after learning the verse. here are some great tools to help children hide God’s Word in their hearts.
- children desiring God has a great resource called fighter verses. http://fighterverses.com/the-verses/fighter-verses
- music is a great way to memorize God’s word and i love seed family worship because the lyrics of their songs are made up of scripture. http://www.seedsfamilyworship.net
- sometimes verses are long and can be harder for younger kids. ministrytochildren.com has a great list of short verses for younger children. http://ministry-to-children.com/30-easy-bible-verses/
use scripture for answers, correction, and decisions
one of my favorite Bible teachers is anne graham lotz. one of the things i appreciate most about her is when she is asked a question in a Bible study setting or an interview on national tv, she doesn’t quickly answer with her opinion. her answer almost inevitably begins with, “the Bible says…” oh the value of immediately pointing children to God’s Word when they are seeking answers, need to understand why we are to behave a certain way, or have to make a decision! six months ago, i made the decision to accept God’s call to a new church and place of service. i knew one of the hardest conversations i would have was with the 6th graders (Y.U.C.s – youth under construction) with whom i had spent the most time with in ministry. so the first wednesday night after my announcement, i sat them down and told them to fire away with their questions. what a comfort and joy it was to be able to share with them specific scriptures that God used as He called me into this new adventure and they could see it was His word, not circumstances, on which i was basing my decision. they knew that ephesians 3:20-21 was one of the main scriptures and for weeks after i received texts and cards that they had found with that scripture on them.
pointing kids to scripture can also be a great tool when we, as adults, blow it. i blogged about a time i blew it with my niece here, but what if when children see us make mistakes or sin, we use that as a time to show them how we fall short and are in need of a Savior. (romans 3:23) or, how we are not perfect and cannot save ourselves, only grace does that. (ephesians 2:8)
also as we speak and pray over children how much more powerful if we use God’s Word other than our own. Bible teacher, pricilla shirer, wrote a great blog about how she speaks God’s word over boys. http://www.goingbeyond.com/blog/gods-word-spoken-over-our-children
children digging into God’s word
devotion books are great and there are wonderful ones out there for children, but i also think it is important for us to teach kids how to open, read, study, and apply God’s Word to their lives using just the Bible. i have also stopped calling them Bible stories in an effort to separate the truths contained from all the other “stories” children read. i will go into this process much more detailed in a “digging deeper” study i am teaching parents and kids this spring, but we can begin by asking children to look for things as they read a passage of scripture. is there an example of a way someone is behaving that i should follow or not follow? is there something happening in these passages that can teach me a lesson? then, how can i put in to practice what i learned from these scriptures? we can begin the Christmas with God’s word and truths about a Savior being born that apply to their lives today. (luke 1:46-55, luke 2:8-10, isaiah 9:6-7, matthew 2:9-11)
- my friend, jenny funderburke also put together a great website to help families focus on Jesus through His word this advent season. http://familyadvent.com
as we minister to children that are surrounded by the world, lets engage them with the living scriptures of Jesus Christ so that they will be more than church-going disciples and devotion-book disciples. God’s words can accomplish His purposes. as we intentionally point them to the infallible truths in the Bible, may they become passionate and committed disciples of the Word and eyewitness of the Savior.
Isaiah 55:11 “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”