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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Monday, December 04, 2006

God's Purpose for Children

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Psalm 127:3
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.

Daily Scripture Reading - Psalm 127

Puritan Catechism
Question #48 - What is required in the third commandment?

Answer - The third commandment requires the holy and reverent use of God's names (Ps. 29:2), titles, attributes (Rev. 15:3-4), ordinances (Eccl. 5:1), Word (Ps. 138:2), and works (Job 36:24; Deut. 28:58-59).

Devotional Thoughts
We have asked the question "Why were we created?" and while the answer was brief and not nearly as in depth as it could have been we have seen that we were created for fellowship, stewardship, and worship. God created us to worship and glorify Him, to fellowship with Him, and to care for His creation and act on His behalf in the world. In looking at an even more specific follow up question, we are now examining the question, "Why were we created male and female?"

We have started to answer the question by showing first that God created us male and female for Lifetime Partnership. The second part of our answer is that God created us in His image as male and female so that we might have a Lineage through Parenting. This then introduces three statements that we will spend a day each studying:

1. God's Purpose for Children
2. God's Plan for Parenting
3. God's Providential Exception: The Barren Womb

We in the church need to be reminded that Jesus loves the little children..... Attitudes today that stem from feminism and liberalism have given birth to ideas that children are a curse, a burden, a bother, a chore, and therefore undesirable. Children we are taught - whether we know it or not - intrude upon our personal liberty. They infringe on our rights over our own lives and our own bodies. These attitudes are obvious, even in the church. While we may stand against abortion, especially when it is used as an after-conception form of birth control, we do not even blink an eye when we decide to use chemical contraceptives that will either prevent conception or prevent implantation (abort) once conception occurs. And even if we attempt to use natural family planning we still miss the whole point. We still see children as something to be planned or prevented as we see fit.

But the Bible teaches us a few things and we need to pay attention. Let us settle these things right from the start. We must understand and embrace these points as truth, because this is what the Bible tells us about children: God gives children as a blessing (Psalm 127:3), God causes conception and crafts each child in the womb (Psalm 139:13-16), God even causes the time of delivery and birth for each child (Isaiah 66:9). If these are true statements then what business do we have trying to prevent conception? If only God can bring a new life into being then what are we really trying to prevent by any form of contraception? We are in fact trying to prevent God from blessing us!

There is so much more that can be said - and should be said - about this in the church today. But for now, I want to spend our time looking at what the Bible tells us about God's Purpose for Children. Our views about the family and family planning will reveal the truth about what we believe about children, so let us make sure today that we believe what the Bible says instead of falling for the lies of the spirit of the age that would have us view children as a burden instead of a blessing.

God's Purpose for Children

What then is God's Purpose for Children? Let us examine Psalm 127 for the answer:

Psalm 127:1
Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

Building a house here refers to building a family. It is not about a habitation, but about a heritage. God builds families. He makes the husband and wife one flesh, telling us that what He has joined together no man can separate. He also actively creates life in the womb and brings children into our homes. The truth is that unless God builds our family we will have no family. We will work in vain to build it ourselves because only God can build a family - giving us the covenant of marriage and blessing that covenantal relationship with offspring.

Further we see that there is no protection unless the Lord guards us. What good is a watchman if God is not watching over us? God is sovereign. Life without Him is vain and all attempts to keep ourselves safe from harm will fail unless He watches over us.

Do we then trust God to build our families and to keep us safe? Do we walk by faith in these matters, for we know that the Bible tells us that whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23). Do we take God at His Word and trust that He knows what is best for us? In order to understand God's purpose for children we must first confess and admit that it is God who alone is capable of building the family and keeping us safe from harm. This puts the focus then on the growth and well being of our family specifically on God. He is in charge. He does as He wills for His own good pleasure. And He tells us to trust Him.

Psalm 127:2
It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late,
to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.

This verse reveals for us another vanity, something else that is useless. Just as it is useless to try and build a family without God and useless to try and stay safe without God's care and protection, so to it is useless to try and get a good night’s sleep without the blessing of God! The focus here is restful sleep. The goal is to be rested, refreshed, and ready to go the next day.

Some tell us that if we just get up and get going then we will surely come home and get a good night’s sleep. An early start is supposed to ensure that we are sufficiently tired when bed time rolls around. Others tell us that if we work hard and exhaust ourselves through labor then we will sleep good at night. This is to "eat the bread of sorrows" for we know that part of the curse for sin was that God told Adam that it would be through the sweat of his work that he would eat bread. And even others tell us that if we put things off until later in the day and then stay up late, we will eventually tire out and be ready for bed.

But the Bible tells us here that all of these things are vain. We could probably all give testimony to the fact that there are times when we get up early and still cannot sleep later that night. Likewise, we have all worked through a hard day and come home with such energy in our system that we simply cannot sleep. And surely you have suffered with me, staying up late only to stay up so late that it is actually early!

Why are these things useless when it comes to sleep? Because the Bible teaches us that sleep is a blessing from God. Often lack of sleep is shown to be from God in order to cause us to reflect on the day or deal with our sin. At other times God would take sleep away from us so that we might spend the time praying or praising, or ministering to those in need. Whatever the case, we can affirm that sleep is a blessing from God and unless He gives us restful sleep nothing that we do can bring us rest.

The underlying truth here in the context of this Psalm is that it is vain and useless to think that there is anything we can do to bless ourselves with the blessings that only God can give. His blessings listed thus far include a family, safety, and a restful sleep. We cannot do anything on our own to bring these about if God would will otherwise. And we are foolish to think that we should stop Him from blessing us with these things. Who in their right mind would reject God's blessing as if His blessing was ill-timed, inappropriate, or unappreciated?

Interestingly we see in these verses God's definition of prosperity! In God's eyes for us to prosper means that we have a godly family, safety, and restful sleep. And this is all a blessing from God. We cannot manufacture it, we cannot counterfeit it, and sadly we often settle for a substitute - the world's prosperity, those things which rob us from the prosperity God gives us.

Psalm 127:3
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb is a reward.

Now it gets interesting! Now we see how God views children. He has already told us that a family is a blessing that He gives as He chooses and now we see how specific this is - He gives children as a blessing! There are two things we need to understand here, first, what it means that children are a heritage, and secondly, what it means that they are a reward.

Children we are told in this verse are our heritage from the Lord. We first note that the heritage comes from the Lord. There is no other place to get it or find it. God gives children as a heritage and a reward. The word heritage refers to a number of things. It can mean:

1. Something passed down through generations
2. A Possession or Inheritance – Property, Share, Portion
3. What you leave when you leave

To understand the term we must look past our immediate family. This has at its core a generational view. We must look far past ourselves! How sad it is that the things that influence us the most about our view of children all revolve around self. We give little thought for the long term impact we can make through the generations of our family and our church and instead we think only of ourselves. God views children through the lens of generations and wisdom is seeing these things from His perspective.

Often the things that are passed down generationally in the Bible are negative things, sins and curses. Yet God gives us children so that good things might be passed down. This involves more that possessions given as part of an inheritance. It goes straight to the truth of what we leave when we leave - what will be left after us when we go on to be with Jesus in glory? Our family. Our children. Our grandchildren. These things will go on after us and will either enhance and continue our influence for the Kingdom of God or they will destroy what we have done and bring sorrow and pain to others.

The most important thing we can leave when we leave is changed lives - not stuff, but disciples! Part of our inheritance then given to us by God as He prospers us is our children. Do we view our children as God giving us an inheritance - something to be passed down through the generations for the benefit of the family and church?

Every child is given by God. Every child is conceived by God, crafted in the womb by God, brought to delivery by God. And every child is a blessing from His hand, an inheritance with which we will either bless of curse the world depending on how we teach and train that child!!

Looking at this verse, He even refers to children as a "reward." A reward is a favor, not a penalty. Children are gifts of God's grace! But do we see God's viewpoint? He gives children as a blessing. Why then would we think that children are a burden, a curse, or an accident? Is there such a thing as an "unwanted blessing" or a "rejected reward"? But then, how often do we as fallen human beings reject the grace and blessing of God choosing instead to embrace our self indulgent sins and sorrows?

Psalm 127:4-5
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
so are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
they shall not be ashamed,
but shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

The Bible talks about children in terms of arrows, enemies, and elders. Our children are weapons in spiritual warfare!! They are arrows to be fashioned and used in spiritual battle, launched against the world, the flesh, and the devil. This gives us an illustration that shows us that we have a three-fold duty to our children as we receive them as gifts and rewards from God. If we understand God's purpose for children then we will follow His Word in order to 1) fashion them, 2) aim them, and 3) let them go, thereby make a lasting impact for the Kingdom of God and a lasting name in the community.

Fashion Them

How we view and accept our children will have direct bearing on the way in which we train and discipline them. If we believe that children are a burden and that discipline is simply a tool to make them conform their behavior to acceptable social norms then we miss the whole point that our children are given as blessings by God to be fashioned and molded and taught and used to further the Kingdom of God of His glory. Tomorrow's devotional will deal with how we fashion our children as we examine God's Plan for Parenting, but for today we need to know and understand that parents are responsible to take the blessings that God gives them and use them for a maximum impact for the gospel on the world.

Aim Them

In having a proper view of children we see that we must aim them. We must give them direction. In order to do this we must be sensitive to God's working in the lives of our children. What is He doing in them and through them? What plans does He have for them? How has He gifted and called them? This does not mean that we decide for our children what they will be "when they grow up." It means that we equip them to be godly and holy as they grow up.

An arrow in a quiver that is not taken up and aimed is useless in battle. We must learn to fashion and aim our children so that God is able to use them to further the gospel. We do not just give them goals, or an aim - we actively aim them!

Let Them Go

Again, an arrow left in the quiver, or held in the bow, is ineffective in battle. The arrow must be fashioned, aimed, and released in order to strike its target. Our children must be trained in such a way that when it is time for them to be released we know that they have been God's all along and that we have simply been used to prepare them for effective use in His hands.

Notice, by the way, that the man who has a quiver full of arrows is happy! This means he is contagiously rejoicing. A man and woman who are allowing God to build their family and who are resting in Him, who receive blessings of grace from His hand accepting them for what they are and purposing to fashion and use them according to the Word of God will be happy - full of joy. Life then has abundant meaning and usefulness.

Those who are raising a godly family also will not be ashamed. Literally, this means that life will not be wasted. They will influence people, many of whom they will never meet. Their life and the lives of their children will impact even the lives of the enemies of the gospel.

How many people seem so depressed and think their lives are so unfulfilling? And they refuse to have a family! They reject marriage and children as if either were a hindrance to their personal goals and ambitions. No wonder they feel the way they do - true and lasting joy is found in resting safely in God's will as He builds our family for a multi-generational impact on the world around us.

We must take our eyes off of ourselves and allow the Spirit of God to reset our vision to see God's purpose for children and the family. We must willingly and gladly embrace His calling and purposes by working with Him instead of against Him when it comes to rejoicing in the blessings He plans for us. Are we living and believing that God will build our family? Are we willing to let Him? Do we view children as a blessing, a reward, and an arrow to be raised for the glory of God and the furtherance of the gospel in this fallen world? Do we understand God's purpose for children?

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Treasury of David - Psalm 127 by Charles Spurgeon
A Plan for Your Family: God's vs. the World's by John MacArthur

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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