Text: Proverbs 4:1-9 (Parents Day) June 10, 2012.
1) Cutting the trails: The American Indians in Michigan were the state¡¯s first highway route engineers. With few exceptions, Michigan¡¯s major highways follow the trails they cut through the wilderness hundreds of years before the white men came. A trail was 12-18 inches wide, and for safety the people followed single file. Then packed horses followed these trails they widen them. Later came wagons, and the trails became dirt roads and finally became paved highways.
2) Follow the lead: In a similar way, King Solomon followed the trail of his father, as King David followed Jessie, his father. Here Solomon paved the way for his sons and grandsons on how to follow wise instructions and sound doctrines of their forefathers. We see here a father giving his sons good spiritual and practical counsel, was passing on what he had learned from his father, the sons¡¯ grandfather, King David who was called a ¡°man after God¡¯s heart.¡± (1 Samuel 13:14.) Younger generation of believers often learn best about God from their family.
WHERE ARE THE LEADERS: A diminishing phenomenon.
1) Lacking the godly fathers? From the examples in the Bible to history of Christian movement, godly fathers were foundation of building godly families and raising godly children. Godly image and influence of fathers were the backbones of Christian growth in most of the 2,000 years of history. But in the recent decades or the last couple of centuries, most churches were filled with lots of women and children, not with their husband and fathers. Lacking the leadership of men at home and in the church created terrible vacuum in leadership and example of spiritual growth.
2) Lacking spiritual examples: There is an eternal truth when Jesus said, ¡°Likewise, every good tree bears good fruits, but a bad tree bears bad fruits.¡± (Matt 7:17) This is not aimed to place a black mark on the face of parents, but very often, ungodly children are the fruits of ungodly parents, particularly fathers. The life style, priority and values, everyday life examples of ungodly parents could not give children what they need to build their love for the Lord and a heart to follow God¡¯s word. If parents don¡¯t go to church, how can you expect their children will keep going to church? We see too many samples of failure in this area.
3) Lacking the safety nests: Being a pastor for 43 years, I learn to understand the pain of some people who suffered through their marriages and divorce is the lesser of two evils. At the same time, I also learn about the importance of maintaining a safe and secure family for proper growing of their children and their future. With fighting parents and a broken family, it is hard for children to feel safe and secured to pursue the goals of their life. When parents care more of their own needs than that of their kids, they undermine their authority and influence in the life of their children.
4) Missing the opportunity: If parents are not doing their duties in leading their children to God and provide them strong examples of Christian value and practices, their children will find their own leaders. They will be influenced mostly by the secular culture in school, TV program, pop music, movies, and bad peer pressure. When children are not being taught the word of God in their preteen years, once they turn adolescent, it is very hard to pull them back from their life direction. When most parents are so busy in their work and their life activities, neglecting the need of spiritual guidance in their children, they will reap the painful punishment when their children are grown-ups.
WHERE ARE THE FOLLOWERS? Downfall of next generation.
1) The rebellious generation: Rebellion of children is not a modern day problem, but is has become the norm of the modern day culture: rebel against parents and authorities such as teachers has been the trend of the day. Many of these children got so wrong in their life and the tragedy that follow, not because their parents didn¡¯t do their job, but because they won¡¯t respect their parents and didn¡¯t want to follow their instruction. I have seen many very good parents who have very rebellious children and they suffer so much heartache for their children. This is exactly the same picture when we violate God¡¯s teaching, got into lots of suffering, and God feels the agony in His heart.
2) The lost generation: Many of our children are lost in today¡¯s ¡°everything goes¡± culture without definite answer to right and wrong, good and bad. They are also lost in lacking role models to follow from family, society, school and even the church. Our children are also lost in values and purpose. They are confused on what is good and what is bad and what the purpose of their life is. The most popular and famous are mostly bad examples in their life circles such as music, sport and politics. They have lost the ability to know and choose the path of life that will make them good and right. The value of family, school and society had lost their influence on our children. If they gang up with bad peers, their future is done.
3) The ungodly generation: According to a recent poll, fewer people are joining the church, particularly the younger generation. When young people do not care about God and church, they tend to live their life according to their own idea and choices, and certainly it is ungodly. This may be results of the failure of the church to reach to the younger generation and the lack of parental support in bringing their children to God. Many parents set bad examples for their children in making everything else more important than the needs of their soul and moral life. When the kids are busy, the first cut is church, not birthday parties of their friends or a soccer game. When kids don¡¯t learn to respect God, how can they learn to respect parents, teacher and other authorities?
4) The hopeful generation: I was greatly elated to see some signs of revival among our younger generation when Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow openly demonstrated their faith in God and their clean life style received mostly positive publicity in the media and the society. I pray that more of such godly role models will inspire the rest of our children to see the importance of God in their lives. Seeing the children in our church, growing in the grace of God and the discipline they have learned in this church, I believe there is a good hope for their future. All those who are diligent in seeking God through the years in this church have grown up to be very good kids and young adults. We all are grateful to the parents and teacher at FCBC, for your support and hard work to help our kids grow up right.
REDISCOVER THAT GODLY TRAIL: (Proverbs 4:1-9)
1) Get back to the basic: ¡°Listen, my sons, to a father¡¯s instruction. Pay attention and gain understanding.¡± (4:1)This is a call to our children to get back to the basic: listen and follow the teaching of their father both the father at home and the Father in Heaven. The Bible has all it takes for all the children to listen and follow the instruction. When people disregard the teaching of God in family life, in moral training, they invent their own theories and everyone goes his own way. We need to restore our respect of God¡¯s word, the Bible and teach it at home, in church and on personal level. We need to follow the godly trail again.
2) Teach kids in early years: ¡°When I am a boy in my father¡¯s house, still tender, and an only child of my mother; he taught me and said: Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live.¡± (4:3-4)The hearts of a small child is like a piece of blank paper ready for someone to write or paint something on it. If parents don¡¯t lead them to listen to the word of God, others will lead them to listen to the word and voice of the world, and all of them are secular and humanistic, putting man in front of God in family life, society, moral, etc. It is both the duty and honor for parents to teach their kids about God and His word when they were young so they won¡¯t go astray from the path God has designed for them. ¡°Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.¡± (22:6)
3) Hold on to your treasures: ¡°Get wisdom and understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her and she will watch over you.¡± (4:5-6) Too often, children who had learned God and his word in early years turn away from them when they grow older, gone to college or become independent. They think they are old enough to make their own decision or choose their path of life without the interference of God and parents. That is where they begin to stumble, fall and suffer consequences. It is very important that young adults continue to keep what they had learned in their early years, deepen their respect and knowledge, so they can live by godly wisdom and are able to teach their kids when they have their own.
4) Wait for the promised rewards: ¡°Esteem her (wisdom) and she will exalt you; embrace her and she will honor you. She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor.¡± (4:8-9) Most people doubt and abandon the wisdom of God and their parents, because they mistaken obedience as a losing game or old fashion or some thing hurting their pursuit of happy life. But God has promised honor, grace and rewards to those who are wise and humble to follow God¡¯s word and the teaching of their godly parents. If you have faith in God, He will never break His promises.
1) Treasure your rewards: ¡°Sons are a heritage of the Lord, and children a reward from Him.¡± (Psalm 127:3) Parents need to treasure the honor of being parents and the opportunity God give to train, mold their character and lead them to the Lord while they are young. Do not waste the privilege of parenthood.
2) Treasure your opportunity: If God grants you the opportunity to have Christian parents, you are blessed beyond measure. If you have come to know Jesus Christ, do not go astray. Follow His lead to a life full of glory, honor and success.