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All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. — 2 Timothy 3:16
Psalm 78, the second longest psalm next to Psalm 119, is considered an historical psalm, an instructive psalm, and a relevant psalm. This psalm is not just for the children of Israel. This psalm is for parents and the church today.
In referring to the Old Testament we find this verse in the New Testament: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4).
So what are we to learn from Psalm 78? What is the priority given to us? We are to raise our children to have hope, trust, and confidence in God.
How are we doing with that as the mandate? How are we—how are you—helping to raise your own children and the children of your church to become confident and hopeful in God?
From Psalm 78 we see two things that parents and the church owe their children:
1. We owe them the truth about God.
“. . .we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, His power, and the wonders He has done” (Psalm 78:4).
If our children are going to hope and trust in God we must be willing to talk about God in our homes and in our church—His preeminence and centrality. We must tell them that there is One ultimate, unchanging reality in life and that is God. He is the center, the creator, and the conductor of our lives.
We should not shy away from telling them that life is hard, but God is good. Life is unjust, but God is fair. And that God can be trusted.
We also need to tell them that Christ is the great heart-satisfier. Our children, and the children in our church, need to hear us say that our satisfaction is not bound up in the car we drive, the house we live in, the type of status we have in the community, or the clothes we wear. Our greatest satisfaction comes from contentment in Christ and Christ alone.
But this is important—remember that in order for us to talk about God—we must first walk with God. Our conduct should match our conversation. Our personal lives must match our public proclamation.
He is not just a god of Sunday but the God of everyday.
He is the God who exists in times of crisis and in times of joy.
He is the God who makes a difference in the way Mom and Dad live their lives.
He is the God who makes a difference in what we watch on television and what we talk about at the dinner table.
He is the God whom we get excited about and to whom we cry.
He is the God who is the source and goal of all our acts.
He is the God who leads and guards us during times of deployment and times at home.
Therefore—how do we accomplish our #1 task? At home, we walk with God and talk about God. At church, we talk about God in the presence of children. And even when times are difficult during wartime, we talk to our children about God’s faithfulness and God’s goodness.
When leads us to Psalm 78:5:
2. We owe them faithfulness to God’s Word.
“He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which He commanded our forefathers to teach their children . . .” (Psalm 78:5)
The “law” here is the teaching of Scripture. And we are commanded to teach the testimony of God to our children.
In our homes and in our church, we will teach our children to have confidence in God when we teach them to have confidence in the Word of God, the Bible. It will not just be one book among many books—the Bible will be the central book. All other knowledge and other books will be read in the light of this book and will establish their worldview.
What the Bible says about sin—we will say about sin.
What the Bible says about mercy and grace—we will say about mercy and grace.
What the Bible says about marriage and singleness and sex—we will say about marriage and singleness and sex.
What the Bible says about forgiveness—we will say about forgiveness.
What the Bible says about right and wrong—we will say about right and wrong.
What the Bible says about love and compassion—we will say about love and compassion.
What will be the outcome of the application of these two principles?
- A legacy is created. From Psalm 78:6: “. . .so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.”
- A confidence is embraced. From Psalm 78:7: “Then they would put their trust in God. . . “
- An obedience is desired. Also from Psalm 78:7: “and would not forget His deeds but would keep His commands.”
- A spiritual catastrophe is avoided. From Psalm 78:8: “They would not be like their forefathers—a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to Him.”
Before you deploy, make sure your family is plugged into a local, Bible-believing and Bible-preaching church where love and grace are lived out. Make sure you have a routine established of regular Bible reading in your home—with a chance to reinforce that and encourage that even though geographically separated.
Why this partnership between the church and the home?
Parents need help in keeping a God-centered vision of parenting alive.
Parents need motivation to persevere year in and year out.
Parents need encouragement when everything seems to go wrong.
Parents need relief from time to time from the strain of parenting.
Parents need help in boiling down the Book of God into essential truths.
Parents need help in teaching subjects and skills where they lack expertise and time.
Parents need covenant community reinforcement of truth and moral standards.
Parents need solutions to touch problems raised by children.
Parents need camaraderie for the sharing of accumulated wisdom.
Parents need correction when others can see that something is wrong and they can’t.
Parents need worship.
Parents need prayer.
In the end, the church family will be:
The breeding ground for children who are confident in God.
The training school for teaching what is true and false in the world.
The boot camp for fitting young soldiers of Christ for the greatest combat of the world.
The fortress of protection in a world that has lost belief in absolute truth.
The hospital of healing for children and young people who have felt the pain and effects of sin.
The supply depot for replenishing the young troops who have been challenged each week.
The retreat center for spiritual renewal and rest.
The launching pad for future missionaries aimed at the unreached peoples of the world.
Let us bring up our children to hope in God, even when there is loneliness and turmoil in their lives.
Let us bring up our children to find their place in God’s plan.
Let us bring up our children who see everything in relation to God—even deployment.
Questions to Share:
1. What steps can you make to make sure that your family is grounded in their belief in God, a local church, and regular times of devotion before deployment?
2. What have you talked about this week in terms of God’s creation or God’s work in your lives?
3. Have you asked each other, “How can I pray for you this week?”