Each week, nearly every church greets their members with a handshake, smile, and an outline, a bulletin. It is comprised of the many pieces of the service they are about to attend. Many times, the delegated aspects of the service are so wide spread among different families and departments within the church that there isn’t discussion about the specific topics, songs, verses, or message being presented. Everyone knows what they are doing individually for their puzzle piece but are working on a puzzle without the front of the box to see what final picture they are making.
It is a service like this that God Writes the Outline.
I’m always amazed at the greatness of the presence of the Spirit when the pieces, previously un-discussed, fit together to form a majestic and meaningful picture puzzle. This morning I was at a service such as this.
Bellina, my tween daughter, prepared a song for weeks. She spoke three sentences about choosing Jesus and then sang, I Choose Jesus (made popular by Moriah Peters). A child standing on stage, lightly and clearly singing out, amplified through the microphones, proclaiming that She Chooses Jesus! Amen! It was a beautiful thing!
Then, a representative of the Bair Foundation from New Wilmington, PA (www.Bair.org) spoke about Orphan Sunday encouraging us to pray for those children without parents or with temporary housing needs, to foster, adopt, volunteer, give, and so much more for these children. They are a Christian organization emphasizing that they have an eternal family through Christ Jesus!
The Bible reading was Mark 10:13-16 (NIV)
13 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.
14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
16 And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.
And Preacher’s message titled Do Not Hinder the Children, spoke of the church’s and the family’s responsibility to children.
This evening, at this late hour, I feel God telling me that the outline hasn’t been completed yet. Not all of the work is done. Not everything has been stated. So, I write this to you:
I end this evening thinking about the many opportunities to spread the Gospel , to share love, to build confidence, and to make a difference through children. I encourage each of you to speak blessings and power into children. I don’t mean only your own children but into every child that you meet, see, or who crosses your path. What would you say? You can compliment them. Speak to them as you want to be spoken to. Encourage them. Build them up with power words. Speak with sincerity and look them in the eye at their level. Don’t be fake, but be sincere. (Children can spot an “actor” from a mile away.) At every opportunity, tell the children that they are better than “this” or “that”, that they are “set apart” as Children of Christ, they are “in the world but not of the world”, that they are “the example” and that they are “fully capable of being so because of the Holy Spirit.” In time, use the opportunity to tell them about Christ Jesus and how to be saved. Don’t put words into their mouths but listen to their words as the seeds, that you help plant, grow into their eternal salvation.
How young is the right age? One word, birth. If you work in a nursery, day care, or are around infants, you have the greatest opportunity. Hold them in your arms and pray over them many times a day. You, as children of the King of Kings, have the power to speak blessings into the lives of these princes and princesses. Unleash God’s blessings upon them. Speak out loud several power phrases about God’s love for them; this is an unconditional love, an eternal love, a love greater than any love on Earth. Tell them how smart they are, how brave they are, how bold they are. Let them know that God has a plan for them and that every single bit of them is “perfectly made” for this plan of greatness. Yes, as infants, bring them up with these strengths spoken into them. They will remember.
As adults, spend less time trying to mend relationships between each other and instead put that effort and energy into building the relationship between the child and Christ. I call this “building the vertical”. When things are going right vertically (between the child and Christ) then the horizontal (between the child and parents, siblings, friends, …) will all work out. Seize every opportunity to encourage the growth vertically. How would I do this? Instead of pressuring the child to “tell me what is going on”, encourage the child to pray to tell God what is going on. Instead of telling the child how disappointed you are, explain to the child how disappointed God is at the sin, not the sinner. Emphasize that God, and you, love them no matter what, that they are good people that made wrong choices. Help them by praying with them at the beginning to let them know examples of how to pray for these things. “Dear heavenly Father, I sinned today. I hit my sister and lied to my mom about it. What do you, Lord, want me to do differently when I feel this way next time? Will you please help me to not respond with sin but instead to handle the situation in a way that is pleasing to and bringing honor to you?” Then, before leaving, have the child pray in their own words.
May God Bless You and All of the Children,
Rebecca Devine, The Devine Inspirations