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! Introduction
      One of the things dearest to a mother’s heart is that her children will have faith.
All parents desire that their children will embrace the faith they have and will live by it.
As I have visited with many of you, this has been the topic of conversation many times and even those of you who are grandmothers express the same heart's desire.
You have mentioned it as a matter of pain when you have seen children or grandchildren going astray.
You have mentioned it as a matter of joy when you have seen children or grandchildren drawing near to the Lord and serving Him.
We have often made it a matter of prayer.
Since it is such a great concern, I thought it would be appropriate for us to talk about it this morning on Mother's Day.
Particularly, I want to talk about what we can do to assist our children and grandchildren come to faith.
As we think about this, we know that we cannot guarantee that they will believe.
Each individual has to make their own decision of faith and Jesus told us that some will not choose to follow in the faith.
Yet studies also show that the influence of mothers's, father's and grandparents most often does bring people to faith.
What are the important elements that bring children to faith?
We will study God's Word to see what it has to say and I will also share the results of a study done by Bruce Hunsberger and Bob Altemeyer on psychology students at the University of Manitoba and Wilfred Laurier University.
It was a study that examined how people followed the faith that they had grown up with.
It revealed that a majority of people will follow in the path they grew up with.
The intent of the study was to find out what happened to the anomalies.
One part of the study, which I would like to tell you about today is those who grew up with faith and then rejected that faith.
The other part of the study dealt with those who had not grown up with faith, but now embraced it.
The thesis was to find out why those who had grown up with faith left it and why those who had grown up without faith now accepted it.
! I.                   The Biblical Mandate
      When I hear the heart cry of mothers and also fathers and grandparents about the spiritual state of their children or grandchildren, I know that I am hearing a cry that is dear to the heart of God.
This desire of yours is a desire that God has placed in your heart and His Word affirms that bringing our children to faith is something we ought to be very concerned about.
Having just completed a study of Deutereonomy it is hard to shake its influence especially since there are numerous passages in this book that tell us that what our hearts say is what we should be doing.
In Deuteronomy 4:7-9, after reminding Israel that they had a God who was near to them and who had given them righteous laws and decrees, Moses told the people of Israel in verse 9, "Teach them to your children and to their children after them."
It was their duty to pass on their faith.
Also notice that this was to be done for both children and grandchildren.
In Deuteronomy 6:2, Moses pointed to the law and then he indicated the goal of this law and that was "so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord."
Once again the mandate to live the faith and to communicate it to children and grandchildren was commanded.
In Deuteronomy 6:7 after giving the most basic precept of Jewish life, Moses commanded the people of Israel to "Impress them on your children."
The word used here is interesting.
He does not merely say teach, but uses the word "impress."
The Hebrew word means to sharpen with a whet stone.
What that implies is that by regular, patient working, our children must have the Word of God gently and carefully and deliberately inscribed into their lives.
In Deuteronomy 31:13 in the section in which he tells Israel that after he is gone, they must keep the law of God ever before them, he also tells them "their children who do not know this law must hear it..." Once again we see the duty to pass on faith.
So we see that throughout this book the importance of passing on faith is communicated.
There are other passages in other parts of the Bible which also make this point.
Even the Psalms carry this message.
Psalm 34:11 says, "...come my children, I will teach you." and Psalm 78:5 says, "He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children,"
      In the New Testament, in Ephesians 6:4, this duty is also given to fathers when it says that they are to "bring up (their children) in the training and instruction of the Lord."
So again I want to say that when your heart longs for the souls of your children, that is a longing that is put there by the Spirit of God and affirmed by the Word of God.     
Strategies For Passing On Faith
      But what are the things that we can do to help bring our children to faith?
!! A.                 Christian Living Leads To Faith
      In the study of psychology students done at the University of Manitoba and Wilfred Laruier University, "...about 80% of the students raised Christians said they were still Christians, while the other 20% were now "nothing."
The biggest difference we could find between these  two groups appeared in how much the home religion had been stressed.
Parents of those who had "kept the faith" emphasized religion twice as much as the parents of those who had become apostates."
      What that study found was that the consistency of Christian living and the degree to which faith was real in the home resulted, in a majority of cases, in faith in the children.
This says some important things to us.
It is encouraging that in most cases the lifestyle and faith we live and model for our children will be the lifestyle and faith they choose.
It reminds us that the first mission field and one that ought not to be neglected is the mission field in our own home.
And, it is a mission project that promises a high degree of success.
But this statistic does not only encourage us, it also challenges us to ask, "what are the things that I must have in my lifestyle and my home which will make this difference?"
The study found that the greatest success in passing on faith was in the homes where religion was emphasized "twice as much."
In other words, if it is truly a lifestyle and an emphasis in the home then it is more likely that children will also embrace the faith.
Another way of saying this is that you reap what you sow.
The Bible gives us some specifics.
1.Recognizing God In Life
      One of the most important ways in which we can live our faith is to keep what God has done before the eyes of our family at all times.
We read in Deuteronomy 4:9
“do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart.”
The beginning of apostasy is forgetting about what God has done.
In other words, failing to be thankful and failing to recognize God's grace causes God's works to be forgotten and God's name to be hidden.
Should we not place before the eyes of our children the wonder of God's work in salvation?
We can do so by emphasizing Christ in Christmas, making Easter an important celebration, letting them see the observance of communion and hear the testimonies of baptismal candidates and observe baptismal services.
Should we not remember and recognize God's work in our family?
We should have celebrations of what God has done and we should acknowledge God's gifts in prayer.
Should we not hold up Christian service before them by inviting missionaries over and by bringing them to church when there is a visiting missionary?
Our children must know the story of what God did and is doing!
2.Deliberate Teaching
      In Deuteronomy 6:7, we noted that parents are to impress these things on their children.
Then in the rest of the verse it says, "...Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."
In other words, the truth of God must be taught in the course of daily life.
If faith is to be successfully passed on, it cannot be something that is talked about on Sunday's only or once a day at devotion time only.
The strategy by which we will pass faith on to our children is by speaking of it in the course of daily life.
As we explain from scripture why we are living the way we are living, we will have a great impact.
3.Focus On God’s Word
      Along with that, Deuteronomy 31:13 reinforces the importance of teaching the word of God.
Moses tells the people, "their children who do not know this law must hear it..."
      The teaching of the Word of God is not only for men and women, but also for children.
Today, as those of you working in clubs are finding out, there is a tremendous ignorance about the word of God.
Children today just do not know what the Bible says.
If we are to pass on the faith, we must make sure that our children know what the Bible says.
We must tell them Bible stories and help them memorize Scripture and teach them the songs of faith.
Passing on faith involves giving a solid knowledge of the Word of God.
4.Lifestyle Consistency
      We have long understood the phrase "what you do speaks so loudly that I can't hear what you say."
As we remember the works of God and as we teach the word of God, we must also live consistently with what we teach in order to have the greatest impact.
So, for example, if we put Philippians 4:8, which says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."
in front of the TV we are teaching them the values necessary to make good viewing habits.
But if we ignore that verse and watch what we want(because we are adults), we are communicating that this is a nice verse, but it doesn't really mean anything.
If we will recognize God in daily life.
speak about faith in the course of life, take time to teach our children the word of God and live what we speak, in most cases, the study suggests over 80%, we will lead our children to faith.
Those are impressive results and since it is a biblical goal and one which expresses our heart, it is one which is worth pursuing diligently.
!! B.                 Children At Risk, or Those Turbulent Teen Years
      But we know that there are times when it isn't that simple.
There are times when faith is severely challenged.
How can we continue to pass on faith when our children are challenging it?
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