There is a video clip included in the transcript of the message. If unable to view it on your device, try clicking here.
GIVING YOUR CHILDREN BACK TO GOD
I have a question for you: have you ever given your children back to God? (Now some of you are thinking, “I’d like to give them back—but I didn’t think God would take them back. I thought He had a ‘no return’ policy on kids! Besides, I lost the receipt and the warranty ran out!” The truth is, there is not a parent here who hasn’t had moments or days when you could easily package up the kid, take them back to God’s customer service Chappy and demand, “I want my money back!”
When Rosie and I got married and then had our first child we had rock solid theories on how to raise children … then we raised 3 kids and now we have absolutely no theories at all! Someone said once that one of their boys asked, “Mum, what would you like for your birthday this year?” She said, “I would like three well-behaved children!” The boy, quick as a flash, said, “Then there would be six of us!”
I’m not suggesting you return your kids to God to try to get your money back, when I ask you if you have ever given your children back to God. What I am asking is, have you ever:
- Recognise your children are a precious gift from the Lord, and that ultimately they belong, and always belong, to God — not to you?
- Released ownership of your children to God—understanding He is responsible for the way they were designed, and that He already knows the plan and purpose for their future?
- Realised God has left it up to you, to show them His way?
Something God asks us to do again and again, is to surrender to Him things that are important to us. Today, I am reminding every one of us who are parents, that He wants us to “BRING OUR CHILDREN AND PUT GIVE THEM BACK TO GOD”. There are a number of Biblical examples of parents who brought their children to God and gave them back to Him:
Two weeks ago we learned about the classic example of Hannah bringing her son Samuel (the son for whom she had prayed), and presenting him to God, and handing young Samuel over to Eli the priest. (1 Sam. 1:27–28).
I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he shall be given over to the Lord.’ And he worshipped the Lord there.
Of course, you remember how Joseph and Mary brought the infant child Jesus to the temple following his circumcision at 8 days. They brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (Luke 2:22:)
When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
But the example of a parent surrendering his child to God I want us to look at today is the time when Abraham offered Isaac at the summit of Mount Moriah. We pick up on that story in the first 13 verses of Genesis 22. To make this story more alive for us today, here’s a video clip taken from The Bible television series:
Abraham literally, totally, and irrevocably gave Isaac back to God. Think about how hard that had to be, and how painful for Abraham. After all:, Abraham loved Isaac. V.2 God said, Take your son, your only son, whom you love, and sacrifice him. Isaac had been a MIRACLE baby, born when Sarah was 90 and Abraham was 100.
Put yourself in Abraham’s place. It was incomprehensibly painful for Abraham to strap his beloved son on an altar piled up with dry wood, then raise a knife ready to make a sacrifice of this dear boy he loved with a precious and deep affection.
I don’t know if I could do that — even if God asked in person! This is such a hard truth to get a grip of, but the best thing Abraham did for Isaac was to tie him to that altar and to surrender him back to God. God is love, we preach, so this sounds so oxymoronic, a loving God who asks Abraham to sacrifice his own loved son. What a dilemma.
If Abraham refused to give Isaac back to God, he would forfeit all God’s promises and plans for Isaac. Isaac would have lived and died in obscurity instead of becoming one of the great founding fathers of our Judaeo-Christian heritage. But Abraham obeyed and gave Isaac back to God, and as a result Isaac received the fullness of God’s best plan and promise for his life. He became a wealthy man, the forefather of God’s own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaac’s life still has impact and blessing upon millions of people worldwide, through his descendent — Jesus Christ.
We need to learn from Abraham today: refuse or fail to give our children back to God and we most probably forfeit God’s best plan and purpose for their lives. When we entrust our children back to God — we secure for them, the covenant of God’s best purpose and plan for their lives.
FOUR ELEMENTS OF GIVING YOUR CHILD BACK TO GOD:
What does it mean to give your child back to God? 4 things, and the first is that:
Giving your children to God is CONFIRMATION of your love for God.
The primary thing you are saying when you give that child back to the Lord is simply that you love God even more than you love that child. Hear this well, we all know and appreciate a child is a most prized possession — but don’t allow them to take the place of God! When we love our children, we desire them best for them, and giving them back to the Lord is the very best you can do. This is exactly what Abraham proved by his willingness to offer Isaac. He was demonstrating that his love and reverence of God were supreme in his life above all else. Abraham loved God above the most prized treasure of his life — his only son Isaac.
Matthew 10:37–38 says that Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Not only a Confirmation, the second thing is that:
Giving your children to God is a CLARIFICATION of ownership.
When you give your child back to God, you are openly declaring that your child is a gift from God, does not really belong to you, but belongs to God. Of course, you have the privilege to love and train this child, but your children are not yours, they are God’s. I believe this was fully on Abraham’s mind when he lay Isaac on the altar. Was he not saying, “Lord, this young man belongs to you—not me?” He was saying, “You do with him as you please. He’s yours!”
In our possession-driven culture, that little boy or girl we have been blessed with, does not really belong to you—they belong to God! They are a precious gift from The Lord, on loan to us.(Ps. 127:3)
Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
What does that verse suggest we had better pay close attention to? We’d better be careful how we treat and care for children who belong to Him. Something to be aware of is that God has not authorised the state to raise our children. And God has not authorised day care centers to raise kids. God authorized Mums and Dads to raise kids! Contrary to what Hillary Clinton would tell you, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a Mum and a Dad! Not only a Confirmation, Clarification, and a third thing is that:
Giving Your Children To God Is A COMMITMENT to Raise Your Children God’s Way!
Ephesians 6:4 says we are to bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. So, in a rather pointed way to Andy and Claire today but also to all parents, giving your child to God is not just a CEREMONY…It is a COMMITMENT. It is a commitment to:
- Being a Godly parent.
- Teaching your children about Christ
- Keeping your children in church
- Loving your children (even if loving them means disciplining them or letting God discipline you)
- Praying for your children.
- Training your children.
- Staying married for your children. (there are other reasons for staying married, but this is a huge one!)
- Making your home a holy place
- Putting away worldliness.
- Living a righteous life.
I think some people see a baby dedication as a magic-dust kind of a ceremony but it means nothing if you are not making a sincere, life-long commitment to raise this child God’s way! I like what Joshua told the children of Israel as they settled into their new home, the Promised Land in (Joshua 24:14–15):
Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served…and serve the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom you will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
Staying believe Joshua made a decision, “I want my family to turn out right, and so, as a parent, I’m going to begin to lead them right! That’s the kind of commitment God is looking for in parents today! it is the commitment that will make our nation and world a better place. Not only a Confirmation, Clarification, Commitment, but fourthly:
Giving Your Children To God is CLAIMING God’s plan and promises for your children.
Isaac inherited God’s blessings, protection and promises because his dad, Abraham, gave him back to God.
Your children are blessed by your obedience to God, AND cursed by your disobedience to God. (they have a free will, but you stack the odds in their favour or against them by the way YOU live!) As you obey God with your life, and as you give you children back to God, you are positioning them to receive God’s very best for his/her life. Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
So, to sum up, what does it mean to give your children back to God? It means it is —
1) CONFIRMATION of your supreme love for Christ.
2) CLARIFICATION of ownership (God owns your children).
3) COMMITMENT to raise your kids under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
4) CLAIMING of God’s best plan and promises for each of their lives.
Which is exactly what transpired when Abraham took Isaac up Mt. Moriah and laid him on the altar to give him to God.Abraham was:
1) CONFIRMING his love and fear of the Lord.
2) CLARIFYING that Isaac really belonged to God.
3) COMMITTING to be a Godly parent.
4) CLAIMING God’s plan and promises for Isaac.
May all of us who have been blessed with children, whether they are still kids or now grown up, with us or no longer with us, boys or girls, compliant or crazy active — with faith, give them back to God. Amen