Blessed: Part 2 by Abidan Shah, PhD

BLESSED – 2 by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: When I first came to America, I came to the South, where I heard an interesting expression “Bless his heart.” What I didn’t realize is that it has more than one meaning depending on the context and tone! What if it is said rather earnestly with a concerned look? “I’m so sorry for what happened to you or is happening to you.” What if it is said in a whisper about someone not there, followed by the look? “Did you hear that about so and so? Don’t say I told you.” What if it is said with some sarcasm? “You are an idiot, but I don’t want to hurt your feelings.” What if it is done with a passive “bless your heart?” “I rather not give you my opinion.” There are a few more variations, but you get the point. Last weekend, we began a 2-part series called “BLESSED.” It’s still part of our series titled “CONTEND” where we are learning how to defend our faith, and we come to that portion in Genesis where Noah and his family were the new first family in the post-flood world, and God blessed their marriages and future children. In part 1 we saw what a God-blessed marriage looks like. In this message, we will learn what God-blessed children look like. Main point: The world wants us to believe that children are a burden, and that life is even better without them. Some even consider children to be harmful, considering the so-called climate crisis. To the contrary, the Bible reminds us that children are a blessing from the Lord. In fact, God has commanded us to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. This does not mean that parenting is easy or that not having children is bad. It simply means that children reared in the fear and admonition of the Lord are blessed by him, and they are the key to build God’s kingdom in this world.

Genesis 9      1 So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth…7 And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; Bring forth abundantly in the earth and multiply in it.”

Context: As I mentioned last weekend, after God smelled the soothing aroma of the sacrifice of the clean animals – signifying the future sacrifice of his Son on the cross – you would think that God would then go back into heaven and be done for now. Instead, in Genesis 9, God had one more thing to do. He had to reaffirm the blessing that he had given to the first couple (Man and Woman or Adam and Eve). Listen to that first blessing in Genesis 1     27“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth…” In other words, both at Creation and after the Flood, God had to say something very important about the institution of marriage and family. Last weekend, our focus was on marriage, and this weekend, our focus is on children. Contrary to what the world thinks today, children are a blessing from the Lord. Psalm 127       3“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.” According to the Bible, there are several stages at which children are a blessing:

  1. The Unborn:

The Unborn are not considered blessed in our world today. According to the statistics from National Right to Life, since 1973, there have been 64,443,118 abortions. Thank God that Roe v. Wade was overturned last year (June 24, 2022) in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Although there are some discrepancies over the numbers, it appears that the numbers of abortion are declining. 

How do the scriptures see the unborn? Psalm 139      13 “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.”

Personal story by Abidan about how his sister (Libna) could have been aborted but wasn’t because of the parent’s convictions.

Application: Do you see the Unborn stage as a blessing from the Lord?

2. The Young Child:

When your baby arrives in this world, you can’t imagine ever being upset with this child. They are cute and cuddly, even their cries are sweet (until they cry all night!). We dream of what they will do when they grow up. It’s easy to see them as blessings because they are so cute and helpless, but then the responsibility begins to set in along with being sleep deprived. We always envision children who love us, are never angry with us, and love being with their family. That’s not always the case. Nowadays, people don’t want children for various reasons. The main reason, which we can dress up and try to make it look like something else is selfishness. Sometimes it’s the bad experiences we had as children. We are afraid the same thing will happen to our children. Another reason I have heard many times is it is such a bad world that I don’t want to bring a child into it. 

We must see children as a blessing in this stage. What a wonderful opportunity to shape them to be God’s leaders for his kingdom. We were blessed to see each of our 4 children come to know Christ as their Savior and King in this stage. We are also to help guide them through their struggles. The struggles of children in this stage are very different than when we were growing up. The lure of technology and all that comes through that are very tempting and tragic. The Bible has much to say about this stage:

  • Hannah dedicated Samuel to the Lord. Listen to her prayer when he was born in 1 Samuel 1     27 For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. 28 Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD.”
  • Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple. Luke 2:22 “Now when the days of her (Mary) purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they (Joseph and Mary) brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord.”
  • Jesus blessed the little children – Mark 9     36 Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, 37“Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.” Later, he even set children as a model for the kingdom of God – Mark 10      13 Then they brought little 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. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” 16 And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.

Application: Do you see the Young Child stage as a blessing? The parenting seminar this weekend is going to be very helpful to you.

3. The Teenager:

The Teenager stage is a tough stage to say the least. In our GENERATIONS series back in Spring, we talked about Generation Z (2001-2015): This generation has faced more crises (9/11, ISIS, mass shootings, pandemic, riots, recession, to name a few) than any previous ones. Unfortunately, all this news and information has been sent to them on their phones! Tragically, they are also facing some of the worst moral and spiritual challenges. Think about all the gender dysphoria issues that are being dumped upon them. Furthermore, they are being told that the world is full of problems, and it is up to them to solve them. If they don’t, then they are the problem. In his book “A New Kind of Diversity,” Tim Elmore points out that, “mental health is their top priority.” Sometimes, we have all made fun of them about this, but none of us would be any better. We expect them to handle it like we would have, but they are kids! After Gen Z is Generation Alpha (2016-2030). The oldest member of this generation is barely 6 years old! This generation is playing with technology at less than a year of age! There is much we know about them, but there’s so much we still have to learn!

3 essentials of rearing teenagers: Understand, Model, and Pray.

Ephesians 6      1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” 4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 6       4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

There may be days that we as parents may not feel that children are a blessing from God, especially in the teenager stage. We have to say, “I’ll see this truth one day, but today is not that day.”

Application: Do you see the Teenager stage as a blessing? Remember the Parenting Seminar this weekend.

4. The Emerging Adult:

Jeffrey Arnett, PhD coined the term “emerging adults” in 1995 for young people ages 18-29. There are five features: age of identity exploration- what they want out of work, school & love. Age of instability-repeated residence changes-college, living with roommates, then spouse. Age of self-focus-a time to do what they want before marriage, children & career. Age of feeling in between-even though they are responsible for themselves, they don’t feel like adults. Age of possibilities- they feel optimistic about their lives and where they are headed.

When you are parents of emerging adults, there are new challenges. Many of them feel that they are adults, but soon realize how much it takes to truly be on their own without their parents’ help. They often make decisions that have consequences and don’t want to face them, so they involve their parents. This is where tough love from parents may have to come in. Even though this stage can be difficult for both parents and the children, it can also be a time of changing relationship from parent to friends and an exciting time as your kids gain their wings and begin to work towards their dreams. Don’t get me wrong, you will never stop being a parent, but hopefully you will work your way out of that full-time job. 

Sometimes, emerging adults will project their failures and weaknesses on their parents. Don’t lose heart. Wait on God’s timing. When they walk in your shoes, they will understand. 

Application: Do you see the Emerging Adult stage as a blessing?

Conclusion: Overall, God gives us families to understand our relationship with him. Each stage teaches us an aspect of that relationship. As Christians, we are all a part of God’s family. He wants us to understand how much he loves us. We get a picture of that love when we hold our newborn baby in our arms and feel like we will burst with love. We get a picture of that relationship as we watch the excitement of our toddlers and preschoolers learning something new. We also get a picture of our relationship with God when our children disobey and the hurt that it causes us as parents. We also get a picture of that relationship with the warnings that we give our children because we know the danger that they cannot see. We also get a picture of that relationship when our children hurt us to the core with decisions they are making as emerging adults. God wants to understand how he feels about us and how our decisions to love him, to disobey him, to walk away from him feels to him. Our families are an earthly picture of our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Also remember that God loves your children more than you ever could. Pray for them each day. Pray for their safety. Pray for the decisions they will make i.e., college, job, spouse, etc. God wants the best for them as well, and unlike us, he knows what that best is. Trust him to guide your children and to move in your children’s lives even when they are young.

What if you don’t feel like they are a blessing right now, especially if they are not walking with God? Remember Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Don’t give up. God will open your children’s hearts in his timing. Remember to pray for their salvation if they are lost. Time and again, I have seen children come back to the Lord.

Are you saved? Do you see your children, whatever stage they are in, as a blessing?

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