Sharing Christ’s Love For Children
By Rich Carmicheal
This issue of Herald of His Coming focuses on the theme of the family, offering special encouragement in the all-important matters of parenting, family worship and spiritual revival in the home. There are also three messages to encourage intercession for your family (and others), including one about the conversion of E.M. Bounds’ 84-year-old son – a story that provides inspiration for those who are praying for their unsaved children, even if they are now adults.
Along with these matters, I believe the Lord would call our attention to the significance of the ministry you and I can provide to children, whether through our care for the children in our own families, or through our prayers and outreach to other children. After all, the Lord cares deeply for children. They are a gift from Him (Gen. 33:5; Psa. 127:3), formed by Him in the mother’s womb (Psa. 139:13-16), and He is vitally concerned about their physical and spiritual welfare. He calls us to be very intentional about teaching children and passing on to them our faith in Him and our reverence for Him. (See, for example, Deut. 4:9; 6:6-9; Psa. 78:5-7; Eph. 6:4.)
The Lord is concerned not only with our ministry to our own children, but with other children as well, including those in special need. In fact, a primary aspect of "pure and undefiled religion" in God’s sight is to look after orphans in their distress (Jas. 1:27; cf. Deut. 10:18; Isa. 1:17). Sadly, we know that there are many orphans in the world, and also many other children who are in distress and in need of the love and help the people of God can share with them. Many need even the very basics of life, including food, housing, healthcare, schooling and protection.
Jesus and Children
Jesus, in both His teaching and example, shows us very clearly how important children are to Him and to our Heavenly Father. He goes so far as to say, "…Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me" (Matt. 18:5). And He goes on to warn, "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea" (18:6). He stresses that our Heavenly Father is not willing that one of these little ones perish (18:14).
Because of Jesus’ love for children, it is not surprising that people were eager to bring their children and babies to Him so that He might lay hands upon them and bless them (Mark 10:13; Luke 18:15). This was very important to Jesus, and when the disciples tried to stop this from happening, Jesus became indignant and said to the disciples, "Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these" (Mark 10:14). He then took the children in His arms and blessed them (v. 16).
Our Turn to Bless Children
Today, the Lord gives you and me the privilege and responsibility to bless children in His Name and with His love. Of course, parents have the primary role in the physical and spiritual well-being of their children, but all of us have the opportunity to bless families, whether our own or others. These are difficult days for parents with many challenges (including the special challenges single parents face), and they can benefit much from our prayers and other forms of support. We hope the messages in this issue provide much inspiration and encouragement to parents in the precious (and demanding) calling of bringing their children up in the training of the Lord. We also hope that the messages will inspire every reader to pray more regularly and intensely for the children (and parents) the Lord has brought into your sphere, whether in your family, neighborhood, church, or beyond.
On the Herald International page, we include some prayer suggestions drawn from a prayer bulletin designed to help one pray for children. We encourage you to take the prayer points very much to heart as you pray for children nearby and in other countries. Many children are in desperate need of others to intercede for them.
Along with your prayers, we hope you are inspired to continue on in any present ministry you are doing on behalf of children, or to increase your involvement in the lives of children. Any time, effort and financial support you can invest in children will surely be helpful to them and precious to the Lord.
A Special Word to Grandparents
I am blessed to know the joy of being a grandparent. If you have the same privilege, I encourage you to take to heart the vital role you can play in the spiritual well-being of your grandchildren, through your prayers, words, actions and example. As the psalmist states, "…The lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children" (Psa. 103:17). As we walk with the Lord, He will be faithful and gracious to allow godly influence to flow from our lives into the lives of our grandchildren.
A beautiful example of this in the Scripture is found in Paul’s words to Timothy: "For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well" (2 Tim. 1:5). How thankful we can be that our lives can impact our grandchildren (and children) in such a profound way. This gives us all the more reason to take our own walk with the Lord seriously, and to take to heart admonition such as this: "Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons" (Deut. 4:9).
Last year when my grandson was four years old and spending a night at my house, I started to read a children’s book to him at bedtime. Part of the way into the book, he interrupted me and said, "Papaw, you need to get a Bible so that we can read about the Lord!" Now that certainly blessed my heart, and I promptly put the book aside, pulled a Bible from the nightstand, and read a psalm to him.
As you can probably imagine from the story, his parents are in the habit of reading the Bible to him at bedtime. How thankful I am for their faith and their efforts to bring him and his sister up in the training and instruction of the Lord. But I know it will not be easy in the days and years ahead as they will face the many pressures and challenges that come from the world. So for my part, I want to be faithful in prayer and in offering any encouragement and support I can as a grandparent. I encourage you to do the same in your family. And may we bless as many other children along the way as we can.