The Successful Home And Marriage Series
Chasten Children While There Is Hope
Editor’s note: The following is a continuation of the “Successful Home & Marriage” series by Jimmy Swaggart.
Today, young minds are inundated and saturated with filth and profanity being spewed out through TVs, computers, and smart phones. No wonder there is no social consciousness and no moral responsibility. The Word of God is what provides this element necessary for a stable society. Nothing else can supply it—schools don’t, colleges don’t, and televisions don’t. The Word of God is the only tool of moral consciousness and responsibility, and children are growing up without it. As a consequence, they are growing up filled with hate. They are growing up with no knowledge of right or wrong. They demonstrate no remorse over truly terrible crimes. So, what is the answer?
“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” —Deuteronomy 6:6-9
The subject of family worship is of great importance. There are many reasons for family worship. There are as many reasons in the Word of God for the family worshipping in the home as there are for public services in a church building. The family is the more compact and permanent unit. It is more closely knit than any church congregation can ever be. This does not mean that we should not have public worship or church services. Most certainly we should.
It may be of interest to note that in early New Testament days the groups of people who met as a “church” held their meetings in homes. In I Corinthians 16:19, Paul wrote, “The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.” Again, we have reference to a church meeting in the house as Paul is writing in Colossians 4:15: “Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.”
So church services, as such, began in houses. But even beyond that, the home ought still to be a unit for regular worship. The family members worshipping together with a regular, set, dedicated time of worship will be much better church members and can better serve God. They will be more loyal to the activities of the kingdom of God than those who come from families neglecting home worship. Of course, worship at home does not replace church worship.
Home worship is more basic and serves as the foundation for all other activities. The home is the basic unit of society and as the home goes, so goes the church and the nation. It stands to reason, therefore, that family worship should serve as the foundation for every Christian home.
In Matthew 18:19, Jesus urged Christians to agree together in prayer. He said, “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.”
Who can agree so completely in prayer as husband and wife, those of one flesh? The next Scripture, Matthew 18:20, goes on to say, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” So families should not only involve themselves in church, but also in family worship. They ought to agree together in prayer about specific things and believe God is in their midst and answering prayers. The one who enjoys fellowship with the Lord in a small unit (like the family), will generally be regular in fellowship with the larger family of God in the church service.
Parents have a great responsibility regarding their children in all religious matters. Other persons and numerous outside factors affect children, but the primary influence should come from the parents. I see my little great-grandchildren as often as I can, but I can only teach them so much because I am around them for only a limited time. Their parents, though, are the ones who really set the example for them. While they are young and their minds are pliable, this is the compelling force in forming their character. While they can be molded, mothers and dads ought to take this golden opportunity by spending time molding their children’s minds in the ways of God and His Word.
Fathers are commanded in Deuteronomy 6:7 to diligently teach their children the Word of God. Children are to be taught the fundamentals of faith while they are young. Then—once they are raised up in the faith—parents can claim the promise that they will not later depart from it.
The New Testament also commands fathers to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. If children are to be taught the Word of God, how to pray, how to live holy lives, and how to put their trust in Christ, the Saviour—there certainly should be regular worship in the home. This should include systematic Bible reading and prayer, exhortation, and even singing. There ought to be times when prayer requests are given the family unit prays about them. It is one of the most precious periods of family togetherness possible.
The home worship service should be a time under the supervision of the father and mother. When I was a boy growing up, we had family worship every night. I will never forget it. My mother and dad would read from the Word of God, or sometimes I’d read, and prayer requests would be given. It wasn’t a question of should we do it or not having time; we would get on our knees and pray. Whenever I was around the house, I was called in for family worship every night. It left an indelible mark of righteousness upon my heart and life.
In Old Testament days, when the population was much smaller than it is now, those of faith were commanded to train their children in their homes. That command still holds. Of course, there are churches all over the landscape now. They are plentiful in most areas and easy to get to. People should go to church.
Church going cannot, however, replace worship in the home. It is all too easy for parents to pass responsibility for instruction to pastors and Sunday school teachers. Even though pastors and Sunday school teachers may be committed servants of the Lord, this is not the right approach to the training up of children.
Certainly the pastor or teacher provides a framework of godly training and spiritual and scriptural instruction for the group as a whole. This does not, however, negate the responsibility of parents. Each parent should influence his child as no one else can. Leaving responsibility for teaching to the Sunday school teacher is completely wrong. Each child ought to learn Bible stories at his mother’s knee or from the parents together. Children should learn to worship God principally by the example of the parents. As the child is brought up in an atmosphere of prayer and obedience to God’s Word, it will influence and mold the child’s life long after he has gone out into the world.
As parents lead the family in worship, all children should participate. It shouldn’t matter if a son or daughter is grown. If they are home, either as a resident or a visitor, they should join in the joy and comfort of communal family worship. One of the secrets of successful family worship is to have a regular, set time. The length of time will, of course, vary, and it need not be overly long. Regularity is the important factor.
Many factors rob today’s family of the positive influences of past eras. Television (and today we could add all like devices) has intruded to the point where it has taken the place of parents. Everyone tends to go his or her own way. I still maintain, however, that whether the period is in the morning or at night, time should be allotted within the family for devotion and dedication. A few minutes of Bible reading and seeking of the Lord, as a family unit, can be the most valuable part of the day. The Word of God should be discussed until everyone is satisfied that they understand the passages read. This should be a blessed time. It will sometimes be solemn, sometimes happy and joyous. It should always be approached, however, with total consecration and dedication.
Christian homes need this. The entire family should be involved. You will be surprised as you try to unfold the Scriptures to others, how much they will expand for you.
We are exhorted in Deuteronomy 6 to keep God’s Word in our hearts and teach it to our children. Every individual in a family should memorize Scripture. Even a little child is capable of memorizing simple verses. They can also be taught simple prayers. This will give them a good start.
When a child is allowed to say the blessing, no matter how elementary or clumsy, it is a treasure to the parents and grandparents, and a blessing for the child. I am sure it is also a dear thing to the Lord.
Teach Respect And Participation
Every child should learn to bow his head when others pray. Respect for the Word of God and all spiritual activity needs to be ingrained in children.
Children can play a significant role in the devotional time. I remember reading Scripture while still a young boy. My daddy would say, “Jimmy, it’s your turn now.” I would then pick out a passage from the Word of God, and I felt so uplifted by reading it. It was a great blessing. It left a lasting feeling of closeness to God and a sense that I can’t really begin to explain. We all participated, and I recall it all now with great warmth and fondness.
Not Too Fast
The family worship service should not be rushed through, nor allowed to degenerate into a “ritual.” Everyone should be truly involved and asked to contribute to the general spirit of the gathering. It will result in great blessing and spiritual growth.
Family worship is a beautiful way to teach children the Word of God. This should be a day-to-day part of family life with every member reading the passages they feel led to read, or sharing in some other way. If this could become a part of every family unit, then we could avert much of the juvenile delinquency and all of the other demonic influences affecting society today.
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).