Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes


A Heart for Children
Pastor Steve Schell, Craig Kessel, Joe Bulman
Malachi 4:1-6
God promises to send Elijah, or a prophet like him, before the Messiah arrives so that when He does that moment can be joyful rather than a time of judgement for God’s people. Elijah will prepare us by calling for repentance (Isa 40:3-5), and the sign that repentance has truly come Malachi says will be when God’s people see as their highest calling the passing of their faith to their children. This single attitude will prove that people are prepared to meet the returning Lord. As usual God’s ways startle us and catch us off guard.

Revival
We have been seeking revival for years and it is undeniable that there are already areas in this church and many others that are being revived. But we have been earnestly praying for more, and the Bible says if we ask according to His will He hears us, and if He hears us we have the petition which we ask of Him (1Jn 5:14, 15), and there is no question that it is God’s will to revive His church. So, if God’s answer to our request is “yes,” then where is the revival?

Before I answer let me define the word “revival.” What is it? It is the process of God bringing His church back to life (re-vive), and by that I mean He restores our “first-love” (Rev 2:4). He starts the process by bringing upon His people a spirit of repentance by which all things hypocritical, all secret sin, all bitter-unforgiveness is confessed and cleansed. Then fresh love and power can flow, worship becomes heartfelt, God’s presence grows strong, and the Spirit reveals God’s Word in a way that is easily understood and faith is awakened. As a result, we, God’s people, carry with us a strong presence of God’s Spirit everywhere we go. The very atmosphere of our homes, classrooms, workplaces and the marketplace is changed, even without our saying anything.

And this revival in the church produces another result: the awakening of the community. There is a stirring up of spiritual interest among unbelievers. They begin to feel a growing hunger for something more, and a growing discontent with the “gods” of the world. This happens because the Spirit of God is “hovering” over them. He’s preparing them to meet Jesus in the faces of revived believers. They begin to hear rumors about what God is doing in the lives of people they know, and this “troubles” them.

Answered prayer
I share this brief explanation of revival so we can see that ever since we started asking for revival, God has been at work answering us. He’s been reviving us. He must first build a community of true disciples. Then He increases His power upon them. Then He prophetically shows them how to reach their city and when they do what He tells them to do, a “door of faith” (Ac 14:27; Col 4:3) is opened through which many will come. Any community, anywhere in the world can experience such a move of God, though admittedly some are harder than others. But please notice, there is an order to the way God does things. He starts with His own people, turning our hearts back to Him, then He moves to awaken unbelievers, then He prophetically guides us individually and corporately, showing us how to reach those He’s awakened.

Perspective
So, do you see it? He’s been answering us all along. He can move no faster than we allow Him. He must wait for us to obey. He cannot guide us until we listen. He waits for us to search for Him with all our hearts (Jer 29:13). But, step by step He’s been pressing us to grow, until He can give us the revival and the awakening we asked for… in fact, He plans to give them to us “abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us…” (Eph 3:20).

Questions
1) Have you sensed Him exposing your hypocrisy and calling you to repentance? He’s answering your prayers.
2) Have you sensed an increase in His powerful presence? He’s answering your prayers.
3) Do you observe a growing discontent among those you know with the “gods” of this world? Are they “distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt 5:36-38)? He’s answering your prayers.
4) Has He been prophetically guiding us as to how to reach our community? Yes, in fact He’s been showing us ways to reach our community for years, such as: an Hispanic Ministry, a food pantry, healing and deliverance prayer, “treasure hunts,” planting a church in the north part of our city, OSL, etc. But now, in this moment, He’s giving us another revelation: He’s calling us to re-commit to children and youth, to turn our hearts toward them, to give them our best, not for a weekend, not for a year, but until He comes again. He’s answering your prayers.

Introduce children to a real relationship with the Father, through strong, biblically-based curriculum.

Five Focus Points of our Curriculum:
1. FAMILY IS PRIMARY — God’s design for faith replication is through the context of the family while the church plays a supportive/equipping role to this endeavor. (We’ll come back to this point).
2. SPIRITUAL FORMATION — Kids need a strong foundation of biblical knowledge in an environment where they can encounter the living God. Children open their hearts to God, learn to discern His voice, have a desire to obey Him, and do so in the power of the Holy Spirit. (Php 2:13)
3. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE TEACHER — Parents and leaders have the opportunity to create “environments” where the Holy Spirit is free to move, teach, and lead. (Environments or themes are a great tool to focus our children toward spiritual truths “Course Correction.”) (Jn14:26).
4. AUTHORITY OF THE SCRIPTURE — The Bible is God’s truth for daily living. God’s Word holds instructions and inspiration that guides children to know God and interpret their lives through the lense of His will. (2Ti 3:16-17)
5. THE BIG GOD STORY — The Big God Story is God’s entire redemptive story that incorporates all of history, stretching from Genesis to Revelation and beyond. In most settings, Bible stories are told in isolation and often don’t tell the bigger life story where God is central. By putting each story in context of the meta-narrative, we can begin to elevate Jesus, the Redeemer, to His rightful place in the storyline. Kids understand that they not only play a part in this incredible story, but are also part of a much larger faith community of past, present, and future believers.

The parents are the PRIMARY SPIRITUAL LEADER (Dt 6:4-8)

Spiritual and Water Baptism are a key factor in solidifying a child’s relationship with the Father.

We are building a Children’s Ministry where kids won’t want to leave and where parents just want them to be.

How do we disciple our children in the home
• The primary responsibility of passing on the faith belongs to the parents; the spiritual nurturing of children is supposed to take place at home. (Ps 78:1-8)
• Encouraging research for parents and the church (“Helping Kids Keep the Faith,” Fuller Youth Institute e-journal December 19, 2013,
http://fulleryouthinstitute.org/articles/helping-kids-keep-the-faith)

Parents continue to be the single greatest influence on their children’s faith. Grandparents are a close second in influence.

Lukewarm faith does not influence or transfer to children. A child must see that faith actually makes a difference in Mom and Dad’s lives.

Single greatest factor in whether a parent successfully imparted their faith to their children was the quality of their relationship with their children.

• Resources for Parents and Grandparents:
1) Home Front weekly – This resource is designed to allow your family to have time in God’s Word and share in some exercises and discussion together. This lesson is for next weekend and you can take the lead and introduce it. (Scripture reading, interesting facts, memory verse, teachable moments and prayer)
2) Home Front Magazine www.homefrontmag.com
(A no-charge digital magazine with an app for iPhone, iPad or Android device.) Additional support and resources for you in your parenting with Home Front weekly providing family ideas, activities, games and tips to creating a spiritual environment.
3) Parenting Class and Life Group
• Spiritual Parenting - a six-week class that empowers parents and grandparents to be the primary nurturers of their children’s faith and teaches them how to create a home environment God can use to work in their children’s lives. This class starts Wednesday, January 15 and meets in L5 from 7:00-8:30pm. Register at nwcfoursquare.org or after service.
• Revolutionary Parenting Life Group hosted by Eric & Denise Kliskey starting on January 28. Information and contact information is in the bulletin.

 


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