The scripture holds a serious commandment to parents in Psalms 78: “Tell the generations to come the praises of the Lord – Tell them of His strength and work.” It says don’t hide them from your children. There are things we want our children to know. The Psalmist went on to give some examples – how He opened the sea, how He delivered us from Egypt. Basically He is saying, “Tell the old Bible stories to your children.”
It also means tell the old family stories to your children. Tell them the things God did for your parents and your grandparents and even your great-grandparents. Tell them your own stories of healing and deliverance and divine intervention. By telling them, you won’t forget yourself – but you will also pass their power on.
Paul said, “You are living epistles” – living letters that people can read, people can hear. People can read God in you – or read the lack of God. So, tell your story. It’s a part of God’s way of revealing Himself to others and especially to our children.
It’s one thing to tell a child John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world…” – but when you tell them about how God’s grace was worked out in your own life – that can be even more impactful to a child.
What types of things should we tell our children? What should compose the story that we leave with them? The Scriptures tell us there are seven points to bring to your attention:
Exodus 12:21-27 – The first type of story to consider – He said there are occasions when you should regularly take action that would cause the children to ask, “What does this mean?” That can then be a catalyst for you to tell the story.
Easter can become an occasion to explain what communion means, the Passover – even using the communion cup to explain. Did you ever think of a child’s confusion over what the bread and the fruit of the vine should be? While doing this, tell your children how you got saved – how you came to Christ – what were they singing – what happened.
Exodus 16:31 – Tells how the Lord miraculously provided. Tell your children how the Lord has miraculously provided for you.
The children of Israel’s story was of God providing manna for them. You can tell their story again. Then tell them about how God provided in other Bible stories – multitudes fed, widows fed. Then, finally, but just as importantly, tell them your personal stories of provision – what God has done for you!
Numbers 16:37 – The third story that should be told – Hammered plates of burned censers – to be placed on the altar as a memorial to the children of Israel.
God deals with rebellion in a way that generations to come will remember it. Every time the children looked at those beaten censers on that altar they remembered how God dealt with rebellion and how God deals with hypocritical worship. Anybody that says, “I know how to live life better than God…” ends up flattened. God knows how to flatten you.
It is a two-fold lesson. First, God deals with rebellion and second, rebellion has a place at the altar where it can be flattened and covered by the blood itself and forgiven. Children need to know both of these lessons.
Remember, honesty is always the best policy. It is even good to tell the children of your own failures – maybe your own rebellion – and how God flattened you and the lessons you learned – Encouraging them to learn from your mistakes.
I could tell stories of how God flattened me but He also forgave me – Flattened but forgiven has been the theme of more than one experience that children should know.
The fourth thing is found in Joshua 4:4 – pile up stones for monuments so children will say, “What does this mean?” You can say, “This reminds us of how God brought us into the place He had promised us.”
Tell how the Lord brought us into His purpose for our lives and how this purpose has shaped the destiny of the family. This is why it works to let God open the way and bring you in to His purpose. The children need to know that.
The fifth thing that we are to tell our children is found in Esther 9:26-28 – “They established a feast called Purim” – This taught them that they as a people would not exist if it had not been for the deliverance of God.
This feast is still kept by Jews today. Tell your children of the times of special deliverance in your life – of healings – of times when He brought you through troubled waters. Don’t be afraid to share the times when you could say, “If it had not been for the Lord on my side…”
Joel 1:2-4 – Show your children how to pray and show them what to expect is the sixth thing we must tell our children.
We must show our children by example that we are to pray with tears for a dying world. God is not saying, “Raise a generation of religious prudes that sneer at a world of perversion and abortions” but raise them to have compassion, a burden, a love. He didn’t say, “Raise a generation who are mean and call it holy” – but raise them to be genuinely concerned and to love.
In Joel 2, God promised, “The Lord will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh…sons and daughters will prophesy…”
You can teach your children to expect the supernatural move of the Holy Ghost – to believe in not the spectacular but the supernatural. In a world that’s disintegrating, teach your children to pray and to expect the power of God to intervene.
What are some Scriptures that your children will remember? What are some songs that they will remember that were your favorites? Children remember experiences you give them long after they’ve forgotten the gifts. “One generation shall show your works to another…” – Each one of us come under a mandated mission to make sure our children know or we will lose our heritage.
Our children must know that God is more than a Bible story – They need to know a God of something that happened to them when related by a loved one, a parent, an aunt, an uncle, or just a concerned Sunday School teacher.
Jerry B. Jenkins, an editor at Moody Monthly, published a book several years ago entitled, “Twelve Things I Want My Kids To Remember Forever.” Here, briefly, are his twelve things:
Love Is As Love Does – “Love is not a state of being. It’s an act of the will. It cannot be demanded or required or commanded. It can only be bestowed.”
Set Only Intrinsic Goals – “Make it your goal to be the best you can be at whatever task is set before you…If you do indeed become the best there ever was at your profession, I hope it is because you made the decision early to give yourself, all of yourself, to Christ….
We Never Quit -“Go to the ant…consider her ways…” Never quit. Don’t quit at Monopoly just because you’re losing. Never give up at life just because it’s not going your way. I’ve seen losing Monopolists with nothing left but a couple of railroads suddenly get lucky. Everybody’s landing on their railroads! And they win! You never win by quitting.
Some People Have the Right To Be Wrong – “You will know many people who flit from job to job and career to career. They will be the ones who talk about their dumb bosses, the stupid policies, the unfair practices. Somehow these people never find anyone to work for who is as brilliant as they are…Living with other people’s mistakes is part of life. You will have teachers, bosses, relatives, officials, all kinds of people in charge who make mistakes or who are simply wrong. Remember: some people have the right to be wrong.”
Life Isn’t Fair – Don’t expect it to be. I want you to remember that forever, not so you live in depression and cynicism but so you will not be so disappointed and will live in a way that will make a difference.
Take Responsibility For Your Own Actions – “If you’re asked to do something and you’re counting on six other suppliers to make it happen, take responsibility. See that it gets done. Stay on top of it. People don’t want excuses. They want performance. And when something does go wrong, even if it’s not your fault, express sorrow for the inconvenience, and make it right. Too often you could have done something to prevent the problem , so accept the blame too.”
Watch Your Tongue – Watch it. Guard it. Keep it. And use it for good.
Work Before You Play, But Play – “Don’t forget to get your work done first so that you can enjoy playing all the more. And always remember to play. You owe it to yourself. It’s a reward for getting your work done.”
Women Work Harder Than Men – “…my father was never so exhausted as when he was doing work my mother typically did. And when your mother is away on a women’s retreat or a conference, I am left to do her typical chores. Take it from me, boys, I speak the truth.”
Play To Your Strengths – “Psychologist James Dobson says that having a specialty is a key to raising a healthy teenager. Excelling in at least one area will result in positive self-esteem. Find your strength and play to it. The weaknesses, unless they are harmful to you or society will take care of themselves. Find your thing and go for it.”
Some Things Are Black and White – “I can lead you only to foundations, like Scripture and principles — like the fact that not everything is black and white, some things are. Before God you make decisions to base your life upon. So do me the favor of remembering that some things are black and white.”
Cultivate A Best Friend – “Best friendships are roots. Best friendships are between people who can be honest with each other, laugh at each other’s faults, and don’t try to change one another. Best friends are loyal and care and can keep confidences. Best friends can argue and disagree and even raise their voices at each other without worrying an iota about the future of the relationship. Best friends are long past the point of thinking each other has no faults. Knowing each other well and still caring about each other is what makes best friends. Best friends aren’t made overnight. It takes years.”