First Kings 15:3 says Abijah walked in the sins of his father. He didn't do very well. Then it says in verse 26 that Nadab did evil in the eyes of the Lord, walking in the ways of his father in his sin. Numerous times in the Scripture you can read over and over and over where this person followed in the evil ways of his father and did evil. So parents really have to be careful. First Kings 22:51. Ahaziah did evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the ways of his father. Our offspring follow us, so we have to be careful where we lead. Is that correct? As parents we have an obligation. If you want cool kids then you can't be a negligent dad. Parents are object lessons that their children are going to follow.
I read a poem one time. There was a crooked man, who had a crooked smile, who made a crooked fortune, in a very crooked style. He lived a crooked life, as crooked people do, and wondered why it turned out that his sons were crooked too. Can't imagine.
I've heard it said that some parents just don't get to the seat of the problem. You know what I mean by that? I think that's correct because the seat of the problem might be you. Some parents don't try to correct themselves. You parents might be the seat of the problem and so childrearing needs to begin probably 100 years before the babies are born. As adults, when you go home after church and you have roast preacher for lunch and you badmouth the church, you badmouth the preacher, you badmouth the conference, who is listening? The little kids are listening. Oh, is that how I'm supposed to react? And then you wonder, well why don't they attend church now that they're older? There might be a reason, so be careful.
A sorrowing mother wrote a letter to Ann Landers. She said, what happened between parents and children the last 15 years. The Bible says, and then she quoted this text. Train up a child in the way that it should go and when it is old it will not depart from it, which is Proverbs 22:6. The poor mother said, I don't believe the Bible. I don't believe this verse because our own four children are living proof. We always went to church together. We had plenty of love and responsibility in our home. Everybody was fine until they started high school or went away to college. Now our sons and daughters look like bums. They have no interest in decent clothes. They are college graduates, three of them, and yet they don't find jobs that they like. Don't they realize that life isn't all fun and pleasure. We parents are fed up with the scraggly appearance and foul language and lazy life, and total disregard for authority. My husband is in his early 50s and he is a broken man. We cry for each other, and for thousands of other parents who feel that they have failed. We did our best. What did we do wrong? Ann Landers wrote back. You know what she said? Very wise words. She said, don't despair. The jury is still out. Many children come to their senses again. You did. Plenty of far out children do a complete reversal. They become conservative, even square, and it could occur with your children, and pray that it will. Don't give up.
So what if your children have gone over fool's hill? What if your children are adults now and they're still living in your house? What do you do? They won't move out. They can't get a job and they're on Facebook all day. They won't do any housework and they're lazy bums. What do you do with kids like that? Well, don't give up on them. Pray for them. Believe in them. Set a right example in front of them. Never, ever give up on them. I don't think you should worry about your youngster disliking broccoli or brussel sprouts or other vegetables. Don't worry about that, because that same kid also used to dislike girls. They change. They can change. Time changes things.
Part of the early training that the Bible refers to is the Adventurers, and the Busy Bees and the Builders and all of these things that we do.. That's part of it. Pathfinders are part of. These clubs are actually small groups designed so that we might establish friendships, not just during the Adventurers, but for life. They're making friends of Christians and they're having a relationship together, developing community. They learn that the highest adventure of life is to be a lovable and loving Christian.
Psalm 119:9 says, how can a young man keep his way pure? You know what the Bible says. By living according to Your word. So you parents need to instill the Bible. Some of you grandparents need to give your grandchildren a good devotional book for Christmas. Give them a nice Bible or something. Let them see you reading the Bible and marking the Bible. Let them see you on your knees. That's how that happens.
I hold in my hands two things. This is a thermometer and this is a thermostat. These two things are both dealing with temperature. I want to talk you about the thermostat first. What is a thermostat? It is a little thing that you can move this lever and control the temperature in your home. What is a thermometer? There's nothing to move so what do you do with it? What is the purpose of the thermometer. To tell you what the temperature is. There's a big difference between these two things. This one always adjusts to its environment. It is changed by its surroundings. This one reacts to its environment and the events of life and conforms to those things. This one does not conform to anything. This one is in charge. Whatever the events of life are, it decides what is going to happen. It has authority, and you can move this to 'cool' or to 'heat' and you can actually control the environment. It doesn't matter what it is, this is in charge of it. So it is not influenced by what we would call peer pressure. It's not influenced by anything. It is going to control the situation. This one reacts to the situation.
May I ask which of these would be best for you to be? A thermometer or a thermostat. Well, you know the answer, don't you? You need to be in charge, yourself, of how you react to the things of life. Things might not always be the best, but you're in charge of that. Nobody's in charge of you except Jesus and so that's what you want to be, is a thermostat. You want to control life and let God set your setting because God is in charge of moving this, and then you're in charge of making it happen, and He will give you the power, because back here there's a place to hook up the power. So you boys and girls can be either one. You can influence others or you can let others influence you. May I suggest that you kids need to stand up and do what is right.
There's something I really don't understand about teenagers. Teenagers are people who demand to be different and yet they all wear the same clothes. I don't understand that. They all go shopping at the same stores and they all want to look like. I just can't figure that out. The Bible says in Romans 12:2, do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be renewed by the changing of your mind. Be transformed.
There was an Emperor who was really getting old. He decided, It's time that I've got to pick a new Emperor, and so he called all the kids of his kingdom together, and he was surrounded by several hundred kids of his kingdom. The Emperor said, I've lived a long life, I've been there and done that. It's time for me to turn over the power to somebody else and I'm going to choose one of you kids that is standing right here today to be the new Emperor of our country. You will be the new Emperor. I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to give each of you a seed from my garden, and I want you to take this seed home and get your parents to help you and I want you to plant it in a pot. Then I want you to faithfully water the seed and tend to it and put it in the sunshine and take care of it and one year later I want you all to bring your pots back and I want you to show me what your seed has grown. Is that fair? Oh yes that's fair. And on that day I will choose which one of you will actually be the next Emperor. And they all agreed.
So one boy named Ling took his precious seed home. He guarded it very carefully because he only had one seed. With the help of his mother he planted it in a big pot. He watered it carefully. He put it out in the sunshine. Took good care of it and after about three weeks the other kids were all talking about their plants and how they were growing and his seed hadn't germinated yet. It had even started up. So he watered it and put it in the sunshine and didn't really know what else to do. Nothing grew. Every day Ling checked it and there was nothing at all. He said to his mother, what am I doing wrong? She said, well just be faithful. Six months went by and he kept watering. He was faithful and all the other kids were showing off their beautiful plants that they had and they had success. But he did not have any success. Nothing at all.
Finally one year went by and all the youngsters made their way to the Emperor because they were supposed to show up exactly one year later, so they all came with their pots. He said, I'm not going to go mother because my seed didn't grow. And she said, well you did your best. Just go and take your pot and it's okay. You did your best. That's all you can do. So he went. He stood near the back hoping that nobody would see him and all the other kids were there and some of them had big beautiful plants. Lush and green and his pot was empty. Ling was so sick. He felt sick to his stomach. He was so ashamed and he stood back there. The other kids were laughing at him and finally the Emperor came out. The Emperor motioned for everybody to be quiet. He said, all right, it's been one year. I see you've all come back. He looked over everybody and finally saw Ling back there in the back, and he appointed several security people to go and get Ling and bring him to the front. He ordered them to do that. Ling was terrified. Maybe I'm going to be killed. I don't know what they're going to do to me. The big guards asked him his name and he said my name is Ling. All the kids were laughing at him and poking fun at him. The Emperor looked at Ling and the Emperor said to the crowd, here's your next Emperor. Ling will be your Emperor. Everybody thought, what? How can that be? Ling couldn't believe it himself. He couldn't even grow his seed and yet he was going to be the new Emperor. What's the matter here.
The Emperor said, one year ago today I gave each of you a precious seed. You all took it home. You all planted the seed. Then you all came back today. I gave all of you seeds that had been boiled in water. Not one of them would germinate. All of you except Ling substituted a seed of your own for my seed. Ling is the only person here who was honest. Ling is the only person here who had the courage to come with his empty pot and to show it to me and I respect that, and Ling is your next Emperor.
Be honest, boys and girls. Ling obeyed his mother. Ephesians 6:1 says, children obey your parents in the Lord because this is right. You need to be quick to do the right thing. To be honest. And not cheat in school. Be brave. Even when your life might look like a failure, it's not a failure if you're doing the best that you can. Is your life a failure if you're doing what you're supposed to do? No it's not. You parents teach your children to be honest. Don't help them to cheat. You kids follow Jesus all the way, and let Jesus lead you to real life, and He will.
When I was just a small boy back in the 1940s, hundreds of people were killed in a very tragic accident on the railroad. It happened in El Toro in the big tunnel near Leon, Spain. The train was a long passenger train. At one end there was a locomotive and this locomotive was pulling this long train and at the other end there was another locomotive and it was just dragging along, but it was there is an emergency. If something happened with the lead locomotive, this locomotive could push the train. There was an engineer in the front locomotive and there was an engineer in the back locomotive. So they went along in this long passenger train. There were hundreds of people on board. They came to this tunnel and as they were going through the tunnel the front engine lost power for some reason. The train came to a stop in the tunnel. Both engines were in the tunnel and the back engineer thought, something is wrong. We've stopped. There was no communication between them back in those days. I wonder what's wrong up ahead. Something must be wrong. We can't get through and we can't stay in this tunnel because the smoke will be harmful to the people so we've got to get out of this tunnel. So the engineer at the back said, I'm going to pull the train out of the tunnel because we can't go that way. I need to help here, and so he put his engine in gear and started to go backwards. At the same time the front engineer got the problem fixed and he said, we better get out of this tunnel, so he put his engine in gear to go forward.
So both engineers were trying to do what they thought was the best. This one going forward, this one going backwards. They pulled and pulled and nothing happened. This engineer thought, I will apply more power, and this engineer thought, I'd better apply more power, so they put full power on their locomotives and they pulled and nothing happened but something was happening. Smoke was billowing out of their smokestacks and 521 people died of carbon monoxide poisoning in that tunnel.
And do you know why they died? Because they had too many engineers. Because there were two engineers instead of one. Two people in charge. The Bible says in Matthew, no man can serve two masters. You kids cannot have the Lord in charge of one end of your life and the devil hooked on to the other end of your life, because they're going to pull you in opposite directions. You're going to be stuck. You understand what I'm talking about? You need Jesus to be totally in charge of your life. You've got to do this. The Bible says choose for yourself this day whom you will serve, and let it be the Lord. You need to choose Jesus.
One day I was out in town at a stoplight. I was stopped there and I looked at this bumper sticker on the back of the car in front of me. The bumper sticker said, my child is an honor student at Baylor school. I thought, well that's nice. That's a very intelligent kid and the parent is so proud. That's good. But I have yet to see a bumper sticker on the back of a car that says, my child doesn't lie. Or another one that says, my child holds the door for the elderly. Or another one that says, my child attends Sabbath school. My child memorizes all of the memory verses. Grades are important I agree, but so is godliness. Which is the most important. Well they're both important but let's not eliminate the godliness in favor of grades. Let's be proud of our kids because of the spiritual things that they exhibit in their lives.
When we send our kids off to summer camp we pack them up. We put all the things in their they will need to experience a great summer camp. You parents have your kids for how many years? Maybe 18, 19, 20, 21 years. They're in your house. While you have your kids under your roof, you need to be packing their life with Jesus. Pack them up for the things they will need when they get out and experience their own life. The Bible says, seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.
I want to read you a summation of kids. Somebody wrote this. Our youths love luxury. Our teenagers have bad manners. Contempt for authority. They show disregard for their elders. They love to chatter in place of exercise. The children are now tyrants. They're not the servants of their household. They no longer rise when their elders enter the room. They contradict their parents. They chatter before company. They gobble up food. They tyrannize their teachers. Do you know who wrote this? It didn't come from Spaulding elementary. It came from Socrates in the year 400 BC.
Children have always been a challenge, but I want to challenge you children and you parents here today with the words of Ecclesiastes 12:1. Remember your Creator in the days of your youth. Please do that. Put Jesus first in your life and He will lead you to eternal life. Can we do that?
Hymn of Praise: #132, O Come All Ye Faithful Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:4-9 Hymn of Response: #185, Jesus is all the World to Me Sermon Notes: Sermon notes available as PDF
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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 12/08/10