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What God Wants Christians to Do for Children

The Gospel of Matthew  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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1. Help bring children to Jesus. 2. Pray for children. 3. Never try to keep children away from Jesus. 4. Help children grow up God's way.

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What God Wants Christians to Do for Children

The Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 2:40-52

Sermon by Rick Crandall

(Prepared November 2, 2022)


*Please open your Bibles to Matthew 19:13. By this time, Jesus was only about 3 months away from dying on the cross for our sins. And in today's Scripture, the Lord again demonstrated His great love for children. Now, our risen Savior wants us to have the same kind of loving care for kids. God wants all Christians to do everything we can to protect children from evil and lead them to the Lord. Please focus on this truth as we read Matthew 19:13-15.


*Children need a lot of guidance and tender loving care, especially when it comes to spiritual matters. Bill Adler reminded us of this truth in his book on children's letters to Santa Claus. Here are a couple of those letters:

"Dear Santa: Last year you didn't leave me anything good. The year before last year, you didn't leave me anything good. This year is your last chance." Signed: Alfred

"Dear Santa: In my house there are three boys. Richard is two. Jeffrey is four. Norman is seven. Richard is good sometimes. Jeffrey is good sometimes. Norman is good all the time." Signed: Norman (1)

*Children need a lot of tender loving care and strong spiritual guidance. That's the way God designed His world. And here in Matthew 19, Jesus spoke about His great concern for children. These verses help us to see what the Lord wants us to do for children. And this doesn't just mean parents and grandparents. Every Christian from 6 to 96 can make a difference in children's lives.


*Jesus loves children so much that He wants us to bring them to Him, and the parents in vs. 13 are a great example for us, because that's exactly what they did. Now the Lord wants us to do everything we can to bring children to Him. That's why Proverbs 22:6 tells us to "train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." This is also why Ephesians 6:4 says this to Christian dads: "Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord."

*The giant problem is that many children don't have good, godly dads. About 8 years ago, our daughter Becky saw a tweet from Brenna Norwood. Becky used to work with Brenna at Houston Baptist University. At the time, Brenna and her husband served as volunteers in one of the Christian prison ministries in Texas. There they were leading a year-long course for male prisoners on how to be a godly father. During the first meeting, they asked the prisoners about their own dads. 28 out of 31 raised their hands to say they had never even met their father.

*The world needs more, good, godly men. Our families need good men. Our children need good fathers. But most dads aren't raising their children "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." That's why Jesus wants all of us to do everything we can to bring children to Him.

*Another reason why is because children are teachable and reachable. Children are almost always open to spiritual truth. Most children, especially little children, love to come to church. Sometimes they are the ones pushing Dad and Mom to come. I've seen this more than a few times.

*And some of the most famous, fruitful Christians in history were saved when they were very young. Matthew Henry was 11, Jonathan Edwards was 7, Richard Baxter was 6, Isaac Watts was 9, and Corrie ten Boom received Jesus at the age of 5. One of the fathers of modern missions, Nicholaus Zinzendorf, was only 4! The great missionary Stanley Jones was moved to be a missionary when he was 8 years old. Stanley saw a poster of a big tiger standing beside a little boy from India. And underneath the little boy's picture was this caption: "Who will tell me about Jesus?" Eight-year-old Stanley Jones said, "I will."

*W. A. Criswell was one of the greatest pastors of the 20th century. He was saved when he was 10. But he felt God calling him into ministry even earlier. Criswell stated, "I had been thinking about being a preacher for years, -- since I was 6. I knew I had not been saved. But I knew that God wanted me to be a preacher." (2)

*The next W. A. Criswell may be in the nursery right now! So the Lord wants us to do everything we can to help bring children to Jesus. And wonderful things will happen when we do. I don't know how it got started, but the annual "See You at the Pole" student prayer time has been going on since at least 2000. Pastor Peter Flamming gave this report from that year:

"One of our fine teachers said to me Wednesday, 'We had 30 students together at the flagpole to pray this week.' A flagpole may seem a strange place to meet, but if you are going to meet God, you set a time and a place, -- and you get there. The tradition is for Christian students to meet at the flagpole at the start of each school year to pray. It is now international. Millions of students have prayed this fall. As they have prayed, they have been brought together. And they prayed for their teachers, their coaches, their principal, and each other.

*At an elementary school near Boston, MA, a little girl was at the flagpole all by herself. After some time, her principal went out to where she was and asked her, 'What are you doing?' She replied, 'Well, I am here for "See You at the Pole."' He said, 'Well, there is no one else here.' Then with unexpected wisdom she replied, 'I am here to meet God.'" (3)

*That little girl had a great attitude, great insight, and a great answer! Somebody had brought that little girl to Jesus, and that's what the Lord wants us to do. This may mean inviting families to church, hosting a neighborhood children's event in your home, or even driving a van to bring kids to church. Never underestimate what God can do through you when you try to bring children to Jesus. Even small things can make a giant difference forever.

*Isabel Wolseley told a story about a modest, soft-spoken, Christian lady from Oregon. She wasn't the type you would notice in a crowd. This woman often felt worthless and told her pastor, "Everyone else at church seems to have some special talent, but I just don't have any ministry at all."

*About that time, halfway around the world in Papua, New Guinea, a young missionary stooped down to go into a grass-thatched hut. Sometimes this missionary hiked with those natives down a jungle trail. Sometimes he flew his helicopter to take them to a doctor or bring them supplies. Sometimes he flew over dangerous country to carry Bible translators to their workstations.

*One day a friend asked him, "How did you happen to become a missionary?" He answered, "Well, my brother and I were going around our neighborhood one Halloween when a neighbor dropped an invitation to Sunday School into our trick-or-treat bags. That's what started Mom and Dad and my little brother and me going to a Bible-believing church."

*"What's happened to the other three in your family?" his friend asked. He replied, "My brother is a Sunday School director. Mom writes articles for Christian publications. Dad directs the church choir and other activities."

*His friend was astounded and sat silent for several seconds before saying, "And all this resulted from a simple invitation to Sunday School that was dropped in your trick-or-treat bags." (4)

*Isabel Wolseley told that story, because she is the mother who became a Christian writer, and that missionary is Isabel's son. Think for a moment about all of the people who have been blessed by Isabel's articles, all of the people her husband helped lead in worship, all of the people their son helped in Sunday School, and all of the people over in New Guinea, who were led to the Lord by Isabel's missionary son. All of those blessings can be traced back to one soft-spoken Christian woman from Oregon. That woman cared enough to help bring children to Jesus Christ. And that's what God wants us to do!


*Those parents in vs. 13 brought their little children to Jesus so "that He might put His hands on them and pray." Today, the Lord wants us to pray for children, and we'll get to that. But first Christians, let me stress this wonderful truth: Jesus prayed for those little children, and now He is now praying for us, because we are born again children of God!

*Romans 8:34 speaks to all Christians and says, "Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us." We almost never use this word "intercession," but it means "to meet with God for prayer." And Romans 8:34 in the New Living Translation says Jesus "is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us."

*Hebrews 7:25 also tells us that Jesus is "able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them." Christians: Whenever we are in need, and maybe every single moment of our lives, Jesus Christ is praying to our Heavenly Father for us!

*One of the best things about being a pastor was the fact that people were praying for me every day. I loved knowing that they were praying for me! There was nothing I would rather have them do for me. I never could have made it for 36 years without their prayers.

*But there is someone BIGGER, STRONGER and WISER praying for us all. Jesus Christ is praying for us! And Jesus always makes the right requests. He never gets distracted. And He never runs out of time, because He is bigger than time! He knows our every need. He knows us better than we know ourselves! He even knows our future, so we can trust Him fully. All of us can fully trust in the Lord as He is praying for us up in Heaven. And Jesus doesn't have to pray for us. He wants to, because He loves us!

*But He also wants us to pray for other people, and today's Scripture focuses on children. Of course, this includes our own children and grandchildren, but also children in our neighborhood and around the world.

*Pray for children to be protected from the evil influences in our world today. Pray for them to know that God cares for them. Pray that they would learn about the cross of Christ and how He rose again from the dead. Pray for them to put their trust in Jesus and receive Him as their Lord and Savior. Pray for them to grow in the Lord and become faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Pray for all of these things and more.

*Your prayers can make an everlasting difference in countless lives. Australian pastor Brian Roennfeldt gave this testimony about the power of prayer: "My wife, Angie, went to a rough high school. There were few Christians there apart from one teacher, Mr. David Bunton, who taught manual arts (or shop).

*Years after Mr. Bunton left his position, dozens of his former students became believers. Many have entered the ministry and become pastors and missionaries. I tracked down Mr. Bunton, who is now 70 years old and retired. He was stunned and choked with emotion when I told him of the many conversions since he had taught at that high school.

*I wondered how his influence had brought such a harvest. He told me that many times he had prayed softly over his classes as he sat back in his desk and watched them work. But apart from this, he'd done nothing to influence these students toward Christ. The only common point of spiritual connection the students shared was that they were prayed over by their teacher." (5)

*Prayer has far more impact than we realize, and there is nothing we can do for children more important than praying for them.


*In vs. 13-14:

13. . . Little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them.

14. But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.''

*Mark 10:13-14 says:

13. Then they brought young children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.

14. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God."

*Jesus loves children, and He certainly wants them to be brought to Him. But in vs. 13 the disciples got in the way. They rebuked the parents who brought their children to Jesus. No wonder the Lord was greatly displeased with His disciples. Jesus was indignant with them, furious, and He strongly rebuked His disciples. It's as if Jesus said, "How dare you keep these children from Me!"

*Why in the world did the disciples try to block these parents from getting their children to Jesus? One reason was because the Lord and His disciples had been extremely busy. Mark 6:31 tells us that sometimes they didn't even have time to eat, so they didn't want to be interrupted. And maybe the disciples could see the strain of the cross beginning to wear on Jesus. They were concerned for Him. But there is never a good reason to keep children away from Jesus Christ! He is never too burdened or busy for them. And, by the way, He is never too busy for you! So, don't ever think you have a good reason from keeping children from the Lord.

*Years ago, Mary and I knew some parents who decided to ground one of their misbehaving children. This kid loved to come to church, but his parents didn't, so they decided to ground their kid from church. What a mistake! Don't ever think you have a good reason for keeping children from the Lord. Don't let anything in your life be a barrier between children and the Lord: Not your busyness or your burdens, not your hobbies or your habits.

*Again in vs. 14 Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of Heaven."


*In vs. 15 Jesus "laid His hands on them and departed from there." But the godly parents were still there. Other godly family members, friends, neighbors, and teachers were still there to help those children grow up in a godly way. And that's the kind of people God want us to be.

*Jesus wants us to do everything we can to help today's children grow up God's way. And the Lord's own earthly family can help us understand. Luke 2:40 tells us that the Child Jesus "grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him." And Luke 2:52 tells us that "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."

*Roger Thomas explained that "The 4 areas of Jesus' growth show us what every Christian should want for children. Jesus grew in wisdom. Wisdom in the Bible means much more than a good education. Biblical wisdom means having humble reverence for the Lord, and living accordingly.

*Jesus grew in wisdom, but He also grew in stature. Physical health matters to God. So, children need to know that our bodies are a gift from God, and He wants us to take good care of them." Jesus also grew in favor with God: That's spiritual growth. And He grew in favor with man: That's emotional and relational growth. Jesus learned how to relate to people in a healthy way, and that's important. As Roger Thomas said, "We all want our children to grow up to be kind, compassionate, loving human beings. No right-thinking parent wants to raise selfish, hateful, mean-tempered kids." (6)

*Again, Luke 2:52 tells us that "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." The 4 areas of Jesus' growth give us a blueprint for what every Christian should want for all children. Most of all, we should help them get to know Jesus Christ in a personal way, helping them to become devoted followers of Christ.

*This is why things like the Nursery, Sunday School, VBS, Upward, Orange, and Children's Choir are so important in the life of our church. And through things like the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions, and Operation Christmas Child, we can help reach children all over the world.

*Years ago, author Lewis Grizzard wrote a newspaper column about the difference we can make. It happened at the little Methodist Church where Lewis grew up in Moreland, Georgia. Two other teenage boys from the community had gotten in trouble. And the wise judge sentenced them to go to the Youth Group at Lewis' church for six months in a row.

*Lewis remembered when those two rowdies came to the youth group. The first night there, they beat up two of the other boys. Then they threw a hymnbook at the kind lady who volunteered to meet with them every Sunday night.

*That sweet, Christian lady ducked that book like a ninja. Then she said this to the two young delinquents, "I don’t approve of what you boys did here tonight, and neither does Jesus Christ. But if He can forgive you, I guess I can too." Then she passed those boys a plate of cookies and told them to help themselves!

*Years later, Lewis was standing at the door of that little Methodist church, and he remembered the story. Then he went inside and learned that those two rowdy friends of his, had grown up to be good daddies with steady jobs. And they rarely, if ever, missed being in church on Sunday morning. Lewis finished his column by saying: "It was the first miracle I ever saw!" (7)


*That senior adult lady fought the good fight of faith with a quick move, a kind word, and a plate of cookies. She stuck with it because she cared, and those two boys were miraculously saved. By God's grace, that is the kind of miracle we can see many more times in our church! And here God lays out our responsibilities: Help bring more children to Jesus. Pray for them. Never try to keep them away from the Lord. And help them grow up God's way.

*But the first step is to put your trust in Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God who came into this world to die on the cross for you. He rose again from the dead. And Jesus will give His everlasting life to you, if you will open your heart to receive Him as your Lord and Savior.

*As we go back to God in prayer, call on the Lord to save you. And ask God how you can help bring more children to Jesus Christ.

(1) sermon "Be Joyful" by King Duncan - Advent 3 - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

(2) Adapted from "Nelson's Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations and Quotes"

(3) God Says, "You Alone Can Allocate Your Life." - Peter James Flamming - Pastor, FBC of Richmond, VA - Oct. 1, 2000 - Exodus 40 -

(4) Testimony by Isabel Champ Wolseley - Original source unknown

(5), Brian Roennfeldt, Perth, West Australia - Source: SermonCentral sermon "Standing in the Gap" by Russell Brownworth - 1 Timothy 2:1

(6) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "Growing Kids God's Way" by Roger Thomas - Luke 2:52 - 2006

(7) Maxie Dunnam, "This Is Christianity" - Nashville: Abington Press, 1994 - pp. 83-84 - Source: Peachtree Presbyterian Pulpit - Series: "What I Believe!" - #4 - "What I Believe about the Church!" by W. Frank Harrington, Matthew 18:19-20; Ephesians 1:1-5; 22-23 - March 23, 1997

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