7 The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the Lord which He had done for Israel. 8 Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 10 Also, all [the people of] that generation were gathered to their fathers [in death]; and another generation arose after them who did not know (recognize, understand) the Lord, nor even the work which He had done for Israel. . . 17. . .They quickly turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked in obeying the commandments of the Lord; they did not do as their fathers.
This portion of Scripture reminds us of the importance of talking to your children and grandchildren about God. If they do not hear what God has done for you and previous generations, and are not taught to expect the same wonders in their own lives, they will fall away.
People do not live successfully for God based on others’ experiences. They must have their own miracles, their own parting of the Red Sea, their own rescue from the enemy’s army. While miracles experienced by friends and family can be shared, they can too easily be dismissed as merely stories or legends. However, it is hard to discount and turn away from your own personal experience.
No wonder God tells us to “Train up a child in the way he should go. . .” (Proverbs 22:6.)
How do we do that? God gives us instructions in Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (AMP). “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be [written] on your heart and mind. You shall teach them diligently to your children [impressing God’s precepts on their minds and penetrating their hearts with His truths] and shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand (forearm), and they shall be used as bands (frontals, frontlets) on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Let’s look at these how we can apply these verses into our own lives.
- Speak of them when you sit in your house: In order to talk about God’s Word with your children at home, you must first be familiar with it; so, do what you can to make devotions part of your day. If this is not a current habit, do not be overwhelmed. Even a single verse or a promise is enough to get started. Reading one verse, and meditating on it throughout the day, will give you topics to discuss with your children or words of wisdom to sprinkle throughout daily conversations.
- When you walk on the road: While I encourage you to do this literally by taking walks with your kids, the verse implies more. As you walk through life, take opportunities to talk about God. God’s plan for each child’s life is individual, as is each child’s relationship with God. Ask your child what he/she thinks God wants them to do with his/her life, rather than the typical, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Learn your child’s bents and interests. He/she has talents that are God-given for a purpose. Find out what those are and talk about them. Use the time you travel in the car or spend on vacation to develop your relationship with your kids and encourage their relationship with God. Simple activities, for example, gardening and planting seeds, can spark spiritual conversations.
- When you lie down: Encourage bedtime prayer and read Bible stories as part of your nightly routine.
- And when you get up: Take time to begin the day with prayer. This can be a few minutes at breakfast or as you wake each child in the morning. Or perhaps as you get in the car for the day’s commute. Pray for God or order your steps, make you a blessing, and ask for His protection and safety. Your children will learn that God has a design for each and every day and is always watching over them.
- Bind them as a sign on your hand (forearm): If you apply this literally, you can give children one or more of the wrist bands that are so prevalent today. They may have a Bible verse, a reminder to pray for someone, or ask “What would Jesus do? (WWJD). But there are symbolic applications, too. First, you can hold the Bible in your hands. Open it, read it, and study it. This provides a visual clue to children that God’s Word is important. And when you do, you will find yourself sharing with your children because what you have read will naturally flow out into your conversation. Second, remember Ecclesiastes 9:10 – “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” Hands should be about God’s work, and actions speak louder than words. We should provide real examples to our children by doing the work of the Lord—helping others and encouraging them whenever we have the opportunity.
- They shall be used as bands on your forehead: Keep God’s Word and instructions in the front of your mind so they are a part of your being. Memorize scripture verses to help you get through your day. Have your children memorize scripture. Summer is a great time for this because it keeps their minds active, and they do not have other studies to worry about. Your main desire for you and your children is probably to live according to God’s ways; and having His Word in your mind will help you to walk a straight path. As your children mature and face temptation, God’s Word will remind them to make the right choices.
- You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates: Whatever the way of the world, “…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) Your home should be a place that honors God first and also provides a safe haven for your children away from the world’s ways. Love should rule the home—love for God, love for family, and love for people, both brothers and sisters in Christ and the lost. Your home may also provide a haven for others who enter. They will sense God’s presence. If you open your home to guests, you can demonstrate to your children the gift of hospitality . . . contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality. (Romans 12:13)
Still feeling overwhelmed? Just remember, you do not have to do this on your own. Take your children to Sunday School and Children’s Church. Get them involved in weekly kids’ programs like Awana, Pioneer Clubs, or Missionettes and Royal Rangers. Sign them up for summer church camp. (Make the sacrifice; it is well worth it.) Send them to Vacation Bible School. Read Christian biographies with them. Christian school is also an option, if that is possible or a right choice for your family. Let them watch Christian programming or listen to Christian radio shows. (Look up Focus on the Family.) Every opportunity to pour God’s Word into their hearts and minds will pay off in dividends of healthy children who become healthy adults who love the Lord.
And be mindful of opposing influences. Know what your kids are learning at school and be careful about where they spend time. Don’t let them spend too much time with families who have beliefs that do not line up with the Word. Keep your children close. They will be on their own and making decisions about friends all too soon.
Finally, be encouraged. God promises to reward the faithful. “Train up a child in the way he should go” brings the promise of “Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Deuteronomy 6:10-11 shows God’s promise to the Israelites. “Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore (solemnly promised) to [give] your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—to give you, [a land with] great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn (excavated) cisterns (wells) which you did not dig out, and vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are full and satisfied. . .”
These are promises to us, as well. When we remember to share all that God has done with our children, our lives and theirs will be full and satisfied.