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Mt. 19:13-15 (See also: Mk. 10:13-16 and Lk. 18:15-17)
Duration:14 mins 37 secs

 

What is "The most important job in the world?"  President of the United States? Surely not! They can be replaced once every four years.  Supreme Court Justice? (That's a step in the right direction, I suppose. But still not the most important.)   Maybe you think I'll say a preacher or missionary is the most important job (since I are one.)  Nope! Not even close.

The most important job in the world (in my opinion) is being a parent!  Why? In the person of their child, parents have been entrusted not only with an eternal soul, but the with direction of future generations of eternal souls.  It is a heavy responsibility, and an extremely difficult task.

A while back I ran across this interesting job opportunity:

"Long-term team players needed for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic environment.  Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call."

"Virtually no possibility for advancement.  Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you.

"Previous experience not required, unfortunately.  On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

"Wages and compensation: None.  In fact, you pay [those for whom you work], offering frequent raises and bonuses.  …When you die, you give them whatever you have left."

"No health benefits or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; [however this] job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth…”

The position being described, of course, is that of being a parent!  When you put it that way, it does sound rather demanding doesn’t it?

And yet, many of us already have (have had or will have) this very job!  And if you only look at it the way that job description puts it, the task can seem a bit discouraging…and even overwhelming.  By the way, I did a quick check of the internet and found that the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 for a middle income family in the U.S. is somewhere between $250,000 and $300,000!  And that doesn’t include college tuition!

(www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/18/cost-of-raising-a-child_n_5688179.html
and  www.usda.gov/media/blog/2017/01/13/cost-raising-child)


Of course, that's not the only way of looking at the job of parenting.  Someone else described it this way:

What do you get for your investment?

  • Naming rights.  First, middle, and last!
  • Glimpses of God every day.
  • Giggles under the covers every night.
  • More love than your heart can hold.
  • Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.
  • Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm cookies.
  • A hand to hold, (usually covered with jam.)
  • A partner for blowing bubbles, flying kites, building sandcastles, and skipping down the sidewalk in the pouring rain.
  • Someone to laugh yourself silly with no matter what the boss said or how your stocks performed that day.
  • You get to finger-paint, carve pumpkins, play hide-and-seek, [and] catch lightning bugs…
  • You have an excuse to keep: reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh, watching Saturday morning cartoons…, and wishing on stars.
  • You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator magnets and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas, hand prints set in clay for Mother’s Day, and cards with backward letters for Father's Day.

For the money, there is no greater bang for your buck.

  • You get to be a hero just for retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof, taking the training wheels off the bike, removing a splinter, filling the wading pool, coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and coaching a baseball team that never wins but always gets treated to ice cream regardless.
  • You get a front row seat to history to witness the first step, first word, …first date, and first time behind the wheel.
  • You get to be immortal.
  • You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you’re lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called grandchildren.
  • You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice, communications, and human sexuality that no college can match.
  • In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there with God.
  • You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love them without limits, so one day they will, like you, love without counting the cost."

I'm glad we have a "Baby Day" every year here at Parkview Christian Church.  It gives us a chance not only to remind ourselves of the responsibilities of raising a child, but also of the joys involved in doing so; to celebrate with new Moms & Dads and Grandmas & Grandpas over their precious little ones.  Psalm 127:3-5 = "Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."

Think about that statement Jesus made in our text concerning children; "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them…"  The Bible says people were bringing their "little children" to Jesus "for him to place his hands on them and pray for them."  (Luke's parallel account says they were even bringing their "babies" to have him touch them.) (Lk. 18:15).  Isn't that great?  These parents were wise enough to know that children need to be introduced to the Savior while they're still young!  Waiting to do so until they are old enough to already be hardened in sin is not good!

But there was a problem.  The apostles thought Jesus would be annoyed by these children, and His attention diverted from matters of greater importance.  "Get those noisy, dirty little kids out of here!" they probably scolded.

But the apostles were wrong!  There is no "matter of greater importance" than the spiritual training of children!  One preacher, known to me only as Dr. Tyng, writes "It seems to me that the Devil would never ask anything more of a minister than to have him look upon his mission as chiefly to the grown up members of his congregation, while somebody else was to look after the children."  The same could be said of any parent, any church leader, or any Christian.

Ben Merold is retired now, but was for many years the preacher for what is probably the largest Christian church in the state of Missouri.  (It wasn't that big when he first got there, but it was before he retired, and probably still is.) I remember hearing him say once that he had a rule among the staff of his congregation that if a child came up to talk with them, no matter if they interrupted an important conversation with another adult—even the president of the United States—they were to stop and talk with that child first.  I believe that's one of the reasons the congregation is as large as it is, and he believes that too.  

When Jesus saw what the disciples were doing with regard to these parents and children, He was much displeased.  Mark's parallel gospel says He was "indignant."(Mk 10:14).  That's when He made that now famous statement, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them…"  Children are important to Jesus!  Consequently, they ought to be important to us as well.

 

"There are little eyes upon you,

And they’re watching night and day;

There are little ears that quickly

Take in every word you say,

There are little hands all eager

To do everything you do,

And a little one who's dreaming

Of the day he'll be like you."

 

Several years ago the Preachers Quartet was helping to conduct Revival services for a church in Medora, Indiana.  On the night I preached there was a three-year old little boy named Isaac Theophilus in the audience who decided it would be a lot more fun to do what I was doing than what everybody else was doing.  He stood up in the pew, turned to people behind him and started preaching right along with me. He waved his arms and repeated word for word what I said.  He even emphasized the same words I emphasized.  That didn't continue too long before his grandmother decided it was time to take him to the nursery, but it surely demonstrated that children are influenced by adults at very early ages and in very subtle ways—by what we say and what we do.

Every grandparent here today could probably testify to new parents and parents of young children, that although you sometimes think those little ones will never "grow up," they do!  And when you're looking back on it a few years from now, it will seem as though they "grew up" much quicker than you expected.  Our opportunities to influence and shape their minds are over much too soon.

For Christians, this matter of influence is doubly important.  Children are not just the church of tomorrow. They are the church of today!

An old newsletter from Focus on the Family reports; "…research reveals that if a child hasn’t been introduced to Jesus Christ by the time he or she is 14, there is only a 4% chance that such conversion will happen between the ages of 14 and 18, and only a 6% chance that it will occur in the remainder of life."

 

Conclusion

I'm pleased with our Sunday School and youth programs here at Parkview.  Our Sunday School teachers and youth leaders are top notch. Our Nursery workers, and youth sponsors are doing an excellent job.  We conduct a Christian pre-school here at the church on weekday mornings. But none of these programs, nor all of them put together can equal the influence—either for good or for bad—that is exercised by parents.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."  That verse (from Gal. 6:9) was intended for every Christian, but it ought to have a special meaning for parents.

Hang in there you Moms and Dads, and don't give up!  Your effort, labor, and patience will pay big dividends later on in the lives of your adult children, and you could quite likely make the difference in your child's eternal destiny.

The rest of us should not forget or neglect to pray for children and those God has entrusted to raise them, teach them, and lead them.  Theirs is a tough job in an increasingly wicked world.

A farmer was once asked how he got such beautiful sheep.  He thought for a moment and then replied, 'I take good care of the lambs."

Let us also resolve to take good care of our lambs.



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