I want to speak with you about our children and about heaven. Let me ask you a question: How many children are in heaven right now? As far as I know, there aren't any. No diapers to be changed. As far as we know, there have never been any children in heaven. That is something, isn't it. Not even one! But some day heaven will be filled with millions and millions of children. A great change is going to take place. Angels are working preparing heaven for the arrival of the children.
Come over here to Malachi 4 in your Bible. When we all get to heaven, we will find that the only people there from this planet will be children. Malachi 4:2 KJV speaks about heaven: ...Ye shall go forth and grow up as calves in the stall. You can't be a grownup and until you stop growing up. Everyone who gets there will be as a child and grow up over a period of time, maybe years. God has gone all out to prepare heaven as a place ideally suited for our maximum growth potential. That's what He's preparing for us. I think the church should do the same thing. The church has an obligation to its young people to provide a place where the children of God can grow up and reach their maximum potential for Jesus Christ. That's what a church is.
When you get to heaven, there will be no grey haired old-timers there. Nobody with wrinkles. They're all going to be fresh. On the resurrection morning when those graves open, Who do you suppose is going to come out? Children. Kids. No old people. You won't have your false teeth and your glasses and hearing aids and all the things you associate with old age. That won't be there. When you get to heaven you're going to just see people at the ideal age. That's what it's going to be.
I believe Zechariah 8:5 refers ultimately to heaven when it says boys and girls will be playing in the streets there. They are going to be there. We will all look like the perfect pictures on the front of these teenage magazines. We're all going to look like sixteen-year-olds, or whatever the ideal age is. That' what we're going to look like. We'll all be kids. One hundred percent of the new arrivals from planet earth will be young people. Perhaps we will see Jesus and see that He is young as well. We'll never get old. I hope we will never get bald. We will be full of vitality and energy and with eternal youth. We will all be kids for eternity.
In fact, Jesus said in Mark 10:14: "Let the little children to come, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." There are going to be children in heaven.
1. CHILDREN ARE SPECIAL TO FAMILIES:
They are special to their parents. If God loves children so much that He's preparing heaven for all these kids, then we ought to love our children a lot. Children are a privilege. In fact, they are on loan. They're not ours, are they? Kids are on loan from God.
God has placed Children in families. He doesn't do that with bears or lions. They nurse their young and turn them loose and away they go. A family sets mankind apart from almost all other living creatures. What other created creature continues the family relationship after the young ones grow up, with parents and grandparents?
I don't find that much of the wild kingdom the grandparents take care of their grandchildren, do you? Do you see that in nature much? I don't think that happens. You don't we it with the calf, the colt, the grasshopper, the squirrel, and the sparrow. They give birth to their young and quickly part ways. If they see each other later they say, "You smell like I do. You might be related to me." They don't have much of a connection. Kids do. They are yours forever.
Let's pour on the love of God on our kids, in our families and let's allow Christ to live in our homes and shine out of our hearts. Let's have Christian homes. Let's not yell at our kids. Let's do things together. If you've got a kite in your closet, go fly it with your kids. You've got a picnic basket, wear that thing out with your family. Tell stories to them. Share with them. Children are born with a sign tattooed across their forehead that says: I want to be important to somebody. Parents need to realize that they want to be important to them.
Many of our juvenile delinquency problems arise because the parents do not read the sign. Spend time with your kids.
One day I heard a song. I don't even know the name of it. But the words tugged at my heart when I first heard it. It goes something like this:
My child arrived just the other day. He learned to walk while I was away. As he grew he would say: "I'm going be like you, dad! When are you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when son, but we'll have a good time then, son."
My son turned ten just the other day. He said, "Thanks for the ball dad. Let's play, can you teach me to catch and throw?" "Not today son, I've got a lot to do." He said, "Well, that's okay.. When are you coming home dad?" "I don't know-but we'll have a good time then, son."
Well, my son came home from college just the other day. "Son, I'm proud to see you. Sit a while." He shook his head and said with a smile: "I need the car keys, dad, and I'll see you later." "When are you coming home son?" "I don't know when, but we'll get together then, dad We'll have a good time then, dad."
That's the way life goes, isn't it? What a shame. His son grew up to be just like his old dad! We need to spend time with our kids while our children still think you are about the most special person alive. They won't always think that. There will come a time when they won't.
Matthew 23:37 (KJV) records a whole lost generation. And not even Christ Himself could gather together. "...How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not."
Christianity Today took a survey of hundreds of children, and these children would make a request to their parents, and there were three answers that were most commonly used. The first answer that the parents gave the child requested was: "I'm too tired." That's the number one answer. The second answer was: "We can't afford that!" And the third answer was: "Keep quiet. Shush up. I'm busy." - (Christianity Today, Aug 27, 1976)
I will tell you, eventually they will keep quiet. When do they keep quiet? When the become teenagers! You'll ask, "What did you do today? "Nothing." They'll be quiet all right. You've trained them to be quiet. So, enjoy your children through all their life, of course, but pay special attention to them at all of their ages, especially the first six years, they tell us.
A little girl demanded that her father would read the same bedtime story over and over every night. My granddaughter, Candace, does that. I say, "What story would you like grampa to read you tonight? "David and Goliath." The same story, the same book. Every night. I read it last night. I'll probably read it again tonight. So this father got smart. He said, "I know how to figure this out." He got a tape recorder and recorded himself reading the story to her. And he gave her the tape recorder the next night. And she listened. The next night she came bringing the book. He said, "What's the matter with the recorder? Is it broken?" "No, but I can't sit on its lap!" You see, what your kids really want is you. That's all they want. So, kids are special to families.
2. CHILDREN ARE SPECIAL TO THE CHURCH:
Kids are an entrusted gift on loan to the church given by God. Would you agree with that? The other day David Turner made a statement that I will never forget. I want to share with you. He said, "You know, we're losing some of our church family. We don't lose people much at the ag of sixty or seventy. They don't walk out of the church and become backsliders. We're not losing very many kids age three and four and five and six. We don't lose them. There's a hole they are going out of, and that's at the age of sixteen, twenty, twenty two, somewhere in there. They're hemorrhaging away. Researcher George Barna, who is a national surveyor here in the United Sates confirms that. In fact, he said that if present trends continue, less than ten percent of children now under the age of ten will be adult Christians. I want to repeat that. I want that to soak in. You are a church family. God has loaned children to you. You look around. The kids that you see in our church age ten and under, only one out of ten of those will be an adult Seventh-day Adventist, or Christian. Nine will be gone. That's according to his survey. And in the 1930's and 1940's this percentage was seventy percent. Seven out of ten would be retained. Now we retain one out of ten. The church is in a crisis. Something has to happen. We've got to do something as a church. We must do all we can to save our kids. I have a burden for this.
This church must do whatever it takes to hold onto its seed. We should spend whatever money it takes, we should pray for how ever long it takes to save them. Let us Love them while we have them. If a kid enters the door of this church and he is not dressed the way you think he ought to be dressed, don't you mention it. You just say, "I'm thrilled you're here." If he is wearing something, or there's jewelry, or there's the smell of something, whatever it is, you be thrilled that person is here. Love them. Put your arms around them. We all need that. I am so thrilled our church is about to begin construction of a new wing, and most of the square footage will be for kids. And I will tell you that the bulk of that floor space will be dedicated, not just for nursery and primary and kindergarten and cradle roll and so forth, but also to youth and early teens and juniors. And there will become a space available for young adults in their very own room. This is exciting. We need to do something for our young people. We must do something for our young people. Just as heaven is getting all of heaven ready for the arrival of the kids, we as a church need to do our very best for our young people. We have to do this for their retention, for their growth.
Come over here to 3 John 4. Here, John makes an amazing statement: I have no greater joy, the thing that made him the happiest, the greatest joy that he could possibly have, and this is the greatest joy the church ought to have. He said, I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. Praise God for that! Isn't that wonderful? You all have children, most of you do, or nieces or nephews. You have somebody. Are they in the church, are they in the Lord? Are they here today? Never criticize them. Be thankful they're here. We're going to build a fireplace in the youth room. We're going to spend Saturday nights there with them. We're going to have socials, we're going to have training, we're going to have fellowship. It's going to be exciting. It may take sacrifice and time but we as a church must save our kids.
3. WHAT IF YOUR CHILDREN ARE ALREADY LOST?
What if your children are already out there, they're not coming to church anymore. They never read the Bible. They're in the world, they're gone. What do you do? Allow me to address those of you whose children are age twenty or thirty or forty and they never worship the Lord. They don't pray, they no longer attend church, they are no longer in the Truth. You sent them to our schools, you followed the blueprint. You loved them, and they're out. Or maybe worse, you drove your children out. You beat them over the head with the Bible or something. You drove them out.
Are you one of the thousands of hurting parents? As God's beautiful Sabbath rolls across the fields and valleys of this great land ushering in those sacred hours, where are your children? And you wonder, "Where have I failed?" And Sabbaths are especially long and hard for these types of people.
And one text in the Bible that makes it hard is over here in Proverbs 22, and this makes it extremely hard for most of these parents. Proverbs 22:6 KJV says this: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. He won't leave it. He'll stay. And you think, "Well, I did that and they didn't stay." I want you to know, that may not be the primary meaning of that verse.
According to our Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol 3, p. 1020 it refers to the training that parents give for an occupation or a trade. In fact, it's the primary meaning of this text. Moffitt's translation says: Train a child for his proper trade and he will never leave it even when he is old. Proverbs 22:6 (Moffitt) It has to do with the choice of lifework. And what really brings us guilt is when we read this verse and we conclude that if our child did not follow our religion we must not have provided proper training. We must have been bad parents.
Is God a good parent? Did God save all of His creation? How many of the angels dropped out? How many of the angels became backsliders? What percent was that? Revelation 12:4 says that one third of the angels fell. Does that mean that God did not train His angels properly? Not at all!
At a certain age, our children are accountable for themselves. I don't know what age that is, but they are accountable for their own habits. Maybe you're not at fault. They do have the freedom of choice.
Jeremiah 31:16-17 is a great promise. ...Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for "your work will be rewarded....Your children will again return to the Lord, to their land." We need to claim these promises. They are our promises in the Bible.
I think it is time for hurting parents to cast their heavy burden of guilt and shame upon Jesus. Love them while you have them, and love them as adults. Turn your eyes toward Jesus toward your children. Pray for them every day. Love them. Hope, and keep hoping. Never give up on them. Hug them when you see them. Set a right example in front of them that they can see. And one other thing; stop preaching at your adult children. Stop pounding them over the head. They know what to do. I am not ever with the idea that these kids don't know what's right. They do know. They just don't do it. I don't think we need to give them that type of advice unless they really ask.
4. HOW YOU CAN HELP
Let's suppose you have no children or yours have left home. You can help others raise their children. You can help by providing a place where the children can grow. You can help out in the Children's Sabbath School or Pathfinders. You can sponsor a needy student in school. You can give funds for the construction of their new Sabbath School rooms in the children's wing. Make sure that you don't worry. Pray about your children. Give them to Jesus. Simply do your best and trust the outcome to God.
Once upon a time, there was a church nominating committee. And the nominating committee was looking for Sabbath School teachers for the children. Some adults said: "Well, I don't want to leave the sweet fellowship and study in the adult class. [But the drug pusher on the street said: Not even the threat of jail will keep me from working with your children.]
The nominating committee called other adults and they said, "I could never give the time to work in the children's departments. I just don't have the time in my schedule. There's only so many hours, you know. I don't have the time to work in the children's department." [But the porno dealer said, We will stay open 24 hours everyday to control your children's minds].
The nominating committee called other adults and they said, "Well, "I can't really afford to provide for the children's needs..." [But the movie producer said: We will spend millions on your kids].
So the adults stayed in their sweet Sabbath School classes and enjoyed the spiritual feast there and after many Sabbaths the children finally quit coming because they had gone to listen to those who did care about what went into their minds.
Ecclesiastes 12:1 says, Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come when you won't. If we don't win our children when they are young we may never do it. Let's go all out for our children.
God has prepared Heaven for the arrival of the children. I'm thrilled that He has. Imagine what God has in store. You're going to get there. Are you going to see the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? No, you're going to see the tree of life. You're going to see the river of life. On either side of that river will be lined with trees that are producing ice cream cones, maybe. You don't know what He has prepared. It's fantastic! And we need to be doing the same on this earth. All of heaven is preparing for the kids, and their arrival. We need to prepare for the kids and their arrival. I imagine that when you're in heaven, a little kid walks up to you. Maybe you're a little kid at that point, too. We'll all be sixteen. Of course the little kids will have to grow up. Nobody will be over sixteen, but there will be a lot under sixteen. Maybe some child will walk up to you and say, "I'm here in heaven because of you. You sacrificed for me. You did that for me. I realize that now." And they might thank you and say, "I'm here. I made it because of you." Wouldn't that be great?
Hymn of Praise: #101, Children of the Heavnly Father Scripture: Jeremiah 31:16,17 Hymn of Response: #633, When We All Get to Heaven
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last updated 4/28/2002 by Bob Beckett.