Can Children Encounter God (Part Two)

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In my Previous Article, I Introduced three Core Values that are Critical for children to have true experiences with God. They are Core Value #1 – MEAT, Core Value #2 – EQUIPPING, and Core Value #3 PRESENCE. We’re going to look a little deeper Into all three now.

In looking into this topic about kids encountering God, we’re making an assumption that you, as the parent, love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your body. That’s the foundation. For you to successfully raise children and teens who are hungry and thirsty for encounters with God, they have to see the same hunger In you.

They need to see you hungry for the Word, and see you reading, hear you quoting It, and turning to It for help and guidance in your everyday life. I can’t stress enough how valuable It Is for you to guide your children in Learning to read and love God’s Word. They need Core Value #1—the meat of God’s Word.

They Must Have a Foundation in the Word

If they don’t have a foundation of the Word, they have nothing to build their lives or their faith on. Everything else Is sinking sand. Just because your kids know the Bible stories doesn’t mean they know the Bible. They need to know the doctrines taught In the Bible and the foundations of the Christian faith. They need to understand what they believe and why they believe It. The Bible needs to be a priority to you and your spouse, so It has a fighting chance of being a priority for your kids. They are hearing so much gobbly-gook at school, In movies, books, etc, that their one hour In Sunday school every week—assuming you even go once a week!—Is little protection against the thousands of hours they are exposed to Godless beliefs and concepts from the world around them.

Deuteronomy 6:1-2 says these are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe In the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.

What were the commands and decrees? At that time, It was the equivalent of all of Moses’ writings that he had heard from God on behalf of the children of Israel. Today, we have them written down in the first five books of the Bible. Some of those books are long and tedious, but God commanded that they were to be read to the entire Jewish community once a year—men, women, boys, and girls.

Daily Input

Then Moses went on to say beyond that once-a-year event, the parents needed to talk about the commands and decrees every day in their homes. Now, don’t panic; these were not sit-down Bible studies. Here’s how he put It –parents, you must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up. Bind them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads, writing them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

The formula? Impress God’s Word upon your children. How? You do this when you’re sitting at home sharing a meal, watching tv, doing homework, playing games, or just relaxing. Or when you are going back and forth In the car from home to other places like school, the grocery store, sports practices, etc. You are to bring the Word of God Into the conversation. Then, when you go to bed at night, and you’re tucking the kids In, you are to be talking about the Word of God and how It applies and Impacts the day. They need to know the Bible Is relevant to their life. Finally, when they rise up In the morning, and they are eating their breakfast and getting ready for school, you are to be talking about the things of God, specific scriptures about Issues they are dealing with In their lives, and pray with them as they are going out the door for protection and favor, covering them with the blood of Jesus, and so on.

In other Words, It’s not just one time a day or once a week, but every day all day long. You are to spontaneously Impress the Word of God upon your children and applying to what’s happening In your family and In your lives. This Is then the foundation of making It possible for your child to have encounters with God.

They Won’t Have a Fighting Chance

The Word of God Is a powerful two-edged Word by which we learn to divide truth from lies and the darkness around us. Your kids don’t even have a fighting chance to stand firm for Christ if they don’t know the Word. And the little bit they will get at church each week can’t possibly impact them the same way you are talking about it in your home day and night.

Not only will they grow strong in the Lord this way, but so will you because chances are you need to Improve your knowledge and trust In the Word, too. When you don’t know the answers off the top of your head, there Is so much information from trusted Christian sources you can easily research it together as a family.

Core Value #2 – equipping……equipping takes on many forms, but most of the time, It needs to take place In the home! Let me explain – as a children’s pastor; I may be able to teach kids the basics of hearing God’s voice, or the mechanics, so to speak.  But I am only with them an hour or so once a week. But you are with them every day! It’s at home where they need mom or dad to constantly be teaching them to stop and pray and listen carefully to what the Spirit of God Is saying. Every time they need to make a decision or encounter a difficult situation, use It as a teaching time for them to listen for the direction of the Holy Spirit. Talk about encountering God! When your children learn how to hear the voice of God, they can potentially encounter God every day in many ways!

When your child learns to hear God for himself or herself, especially If they are spending time reading the Bible, they are so much better equipped to discern the lies of the enemy and the culture around them. But, Mom and Dad, you need to make It a habit as well. Then, talk about It with the family. Tell them every time you hear God give you advice or direction, both when It turned out well and when you screwed up. They need to know that there Is a real thing in your life, so they become comfortable with applying It to their lives. You, as a family, need to learn together to listen to the voice of God and obey. Make hearing God’s voice and being led by the Spirit a daily part of your lives.

Many Resources Available

I have written two books on how to hear the voice of God, one for adults (God’s Voice & the Gifts of the Spirit) and one for teens (God Is Talking. Are You Listening?), and we have a curriculum for children for use in the church to teach them how to hear God’s voice (Hearing God’s Voice for Kids) I also have a free video on my website to teach you how to show your kids how to hear God’s voice. So, we have lots of resources to help you

One of the easiest ways to teach kids to hear God’s voice Is by teaching them about their conscience. Everybody has a conscience. Our conscience Is one of the first ways we can learn to recognize the voice of God. Everyone knows what a guilty conscience feels like, so we also know what a good, clear conscience feels like. Those are the first basics of understanding how to hear the voice of God. If you don’t know where else to start, start there. Ask your children what their conscience Is telling them. Then, teach them that it Is the Spirit of God speaking to them. Once they grasp that concept, you can build from there. But It Is critical that you and your children learn to hear the voice of God. This Is one very significant way they will encounter God on a regular basis.

Another way Is through prayer. How important is prayer In your family? Do you take time to teach your children to pray over something besides their food? Prayer Is an exciting adventure In many ways, but In prayer, they will get even better at learning to hear God’s voice. Besides seeing answers to prayers, which many times are genuine miracles, they will frequently feel His presence. That’s another way to encounter God.

Most people, particularly children, think prayer Is boring. And It can be unless you teach them to pray real prayers or prayers about real-life events going on around the world and people. Then, give them Bible verses and show them how to use them In prayer. You can get very creative about prayer and use prayer objects to help you focus on the need. There are many fun and Creative Ideas In our curriculum on the power of prayer, but also free resources on the Internet.

Being Filled With the Spirit

Children need to be filled with the Holy Spirit and learn to pray In tongues. Yes! Kids can pray In tongues at early ages. This Is one of the most powerful ways they can encounter God. They can have very significant experiences at the time of the infilling. But also, beyond that, this experience makes our Spirits even more sensitive to his voice. We learn to hear God better when we are filled with the Spirit. Regular praying In tongues builds up the Spirit and makes the Inner man strong. But they need to see and hear you doing It at home, too, so they know It’s not just something you do at church.

So, then learning to hear God’s voice, be filled wIth the Spirit, and learning to pray real prayers….. are just three powerful ways your children and encounter God In significant ways. But they have to be encouraged and nurtured and taught their value.

There are many other things we could have listed here, but we have a time limit on what we can say. We could have talked about equipping your children to heal the sick and operate In the nIne gIfts of the Spirit spoken about In 2 Corinthians. But you will have to get some of my other resources to find out more.

God’s Presence

Our last Core Value #3 Is experiencing the presence of God. What do we have If we do not have His presence? How boring Is church If we never feel His presence? If we adults feel that way, how do you think your children feel? They must be able to feel God and sense His presence to know he’s really real and not just a religious story we made up. It Is not necessarily automatic to them. They have to be taught, In the same way, little Samuel In the old testament had to be taught to recognize the voice of God. The presence of God In a church service or at home Is not just the Icing on the cake—It Issss the cake.

Wasn’t It Moses who said, “If your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here?” Exodus 33:15nIv. King David said, “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.” Psalm 51:11nIv …..these men had experienced God’s presence and how special It was. These great men of God longed to be in the Lord’s presence, where hIs glory dwelled. It’s In His presence that we experience His glory! And that’s what this generation Is hungry for, too. They don’t want or need more good entertainment.

Do you ever think about Inviting the presence of God Into your home? Your family time? Do you think the presence of God Is Important? Is It something that is valuable to you? If so, then It can become valuable to your children, too.

one of the easiest ways to experiencing God’s presence at home Is to turn on some good worship music and gather the children together to worshiping the Lord. By the way, This Is another way your children can encounter God. but It seems like there are a thousand other things that take priority over the Spiritual growth and development of the children In our Christian homes.

What’s Not Happening in Homes?

Did you know that fewer than ten percent of Christian households spend any time at all during a typical week either reading the Bible or engaging In quality prayer as a family unit? Fewer than one-twentieth of churched households ever worship God outside of a church service In a typical week? Nearly nine out of every ten parents of churched kids (or 87%) are satisfied with whatever It Is their youngsters are receiving from the church. Yet we know the church Is producing very few Spiritual champions who go on to embrace their faith as adults.

So, we shouldn’t be surprised to discover two-thirds of children of churched families are not even born again, much less filled with the Spirit. But Ironically, 72 percent of those parents believe they are doing a stellar job of nurturing their children’s relationships with God.

Let me remind you, as parents and church leaders, that children don’t go to heaven because they are cute. They go to heaven because they have a relationship with Jesus. If we do not make room for him or the Holy Spirit In our families and homes, It will be a miracle If our children grow up to love the Lord their God with all their heart, mind and strength. If we think It’s valuable as adults to encounter God In any way you want to name it; if It encourages you and makes you want to grow deeper In the Lord, then keep In Mind. It’s valuable for your children, too. What are you as a parent willing to sacrifice In order to raise a child who will follow hard after God?

For faith to be effectively In the heart of a child, It must first be modeled In the home. Statistical facts are, If we don’t capture their hearts when they are young, we won’t have them when they are grown. Your Spiritual hunger will largely determine the Spiritual hunger of your children.

We Can’t Afford to Lose This Next Generation

We cannot afford to lose the next generation. God may be using you to prepare the next Joshua, or Elijah, or the next Billy Graham. Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.

The greatest delusion parents have today Is to suppose that children will be devout Christians simply because their parents have been. It doesn’t happen by accident. The most Spiritual place on the planet should not be the church. It should be our homes. Parents, you are the pastors In your home. What you say to your children about Spiritual things carries far more weight than what the children’s pastor says.

Our question for this session was, can children encounter God, and If so, how? While there Is so much more we could say, I believe we have covered the most important basics. And what we have discovered Is It’s not what they experience at church that matters nearly as much as what they experience At home. What you do on purpose as the parents makes all the difference in the world.

Look—everybody’s busy. All families are overwhelmed and in over their heads with problems and Issues, demanding jobs, and tight schedules. God knew that would happen. That’s why he made It easy for us to disciple our kids at home. The bottom line is that you have to believe it’s important, and you have to want to. Then you have to make It your number one priority If It matters to you at all that your children grow up to love and serve the Lord.

God bless you! Let’s go after our kids!

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