October 20, 2008
By Pastor Pat Binish
Resurrection Life Church, Grandville
What effect does a nursery have in a church and in families?
There are two very equal yet opposite view points of children in church. One says children should worship with their parents as a family unit through the entire service experience. The other view point says that children should have their own ‘children’s church’ where they can learn and grow in an environment geared around their age and learning ability. Both these view points are correct and should be respected as the parental belief and desire. These two view points have many variations in between such as having the children attend the Praise and Worship, and then are taken to their children’s rooms when the preaching begins.
So what is correct? I have been honored in observing and assisting thousands of nursery and preschool aged children advance in their understanding with God over the past 15 years. Like any other adult, I have formed a preference in which style is most effective for developing strong young teens and adults in later years, while fully respecting others styles and practices. But what does the Bible lead us to?
There is a passage found in Matthew 21:14-16 which says, “Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?” NKJV
Jesus quoted to them Psalm 8:2 which says “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, because of Your enemies, that You may silence the enemy and the avenger.” NKJV The words ‘ordained strength’ or ‘praise’ used here is defined as “Loud outward singing and shouting praises onto God”. Jesus’ response lets us know they were indignant with the children’s actions and words.
A church’s nursery and preschool areas are to be a ministry and not a daycare facility. Children in these early years are formidable and sponges to take in the Word of God. There is another scripture which does a beautiful job at describing how children should learn. Isa 28:9-10 and13 “Who does Isaiah think he is,” the people say, “to speak to us like this! Are we little children, barely old enough to talk? He tells us everything over and over again, a line at a time and in such simple words!” … “So the Lord will spell it out for them again, repeating it over and over in simple words whenever he can;” TLB
Isaiah’s words, applied to our churches nurseries, will bring God’s Living Word into children’s lives early and effectively. Bring forth the elementary teachings to children to build a foundation in them. Do it with repetition, simplicity and consistency. A nursery ministry fulfills Gods plan to bring His Word into the babes and nursing infants, and prepares them for a lifetime of serving Him.
October 6, 2008
“Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works . . . faith without works is dead,” says James 2:18, 20. Did you know that people can have a faith that is not active-a faith not living and moving in their lives? Your faith needs to be alive in you and on the move. If you’re going to deal with the challenges of life with any success, you have to have a faith that’s on the move. You have to release your faith!
You can have faith without releasing it. You might be born again and believe in God’s power, but you can still choose to sit there in a trial, down and depressed, and do nothing, pray nothing, meditate on nothing but your troubles, and speak nothing but negativity. You can refuse to thank God for anything or worship Him for what He can do. Victory over any trial is right within your grasp, but if you don’t choose to release your faith for that victory, it’s like not having faith for it at all. And you’ll get the same results in your sorry situation as if you didn’t have faith in the first place.
Avoid that scenario! In learning how to deal with trials, I’ve been there enough times to know that it doesn’t work. Release your faith instead. How do you release your faith for victory over a trial? You take action. You work at it. Don’t pray, “Lord, I’m going through an awful trial, and I’m going to sit right here and not make a move until You do something about it!” No way! Get moving! Take some steps to do all that you can do about your situation. Do everything God tells you to, and trust Him for the rest.
Remember the woman with the issue of blood in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 5? She released her faith with great expertise. She was plagued by an unhealthy flow of blood “for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse” (verses 25-26). She was in one miserable, long-term trial! When she heard about Jesus, though, the Bible shows that she released her faith in some of the ways I’ve talked about. “She came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, ‘If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well’” (verses 27-28).
Do you notice how she’d heard about Jesus beforehand and started meditating on what she’d heard? I’m sure before she approached Jesus, she thought about Him over and over. She kept wondering about the reports of miracles He’d done. Jesus was on her mind day and night! The more she thought about Him, the more her faith rose up, until she spoke out loud the miracle she was believing for. I believe the words “she said” imply that she didn’t only say “I will be made well” once, but that she kept on saying it, kept on confessing it again and again. She focused her thoughts, her words, and I’m sure her prayers on finding an opportunity to touch Jesus and be healed. You’ve got to remember that she wasn’t suddenly made well at the point of her first confession, or her second, or third-she was still very unwell. Her healing hadn’t yet come, but her faith was constantly on the move before Jesus even showed up!
When Jesus did show up and an opportunity came her way to carry out her plan, she didn’t just stand on the edge of the crowd and hope He would spot her and do something, either. She went into action! She released her faith by putting some works behind it. She worked her way through the crowd toward Jesus-no doubt a difficult task. Some Scripture versions say she touched the hem of his garment, so she may have even crawled ground-level in the dirt to get to Him. She had to press through to be able to touch Jesus, and when she did, “Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction” (verse 29).
I love the way she released her faith. I think Jesus loved it, too. “Daughter,” He said to her, “your faith has made you well” (verse 34).
Turn Back to God and Things Turn Around
King Hezekiah in the Old Testament was another one who released his faith in the midst of a terrible trial. The Bible says that pride entered into Hezekiah’s heart, and he became sick. He wouldn’t be the first or last person to let pride get the better of him! A lot of people find themselves in terrible trials because of their own pride and other sins. I’ve been there and done that! Have you? Even when we cause our own troubles, however, God is still there to turn things around if we’ll turn to Him. I love that!
Hezekiah didn’t think he needed to do things God’s way; he thought his own way was working just fine. (Admit it-a lot of us have been there!) But Hezekiah’s way wasn’t working, and he became deathly ill. Second Kings chapter 20 tells us what happened when Hezekiah turned back to God:
In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of
Amoz, went to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in order, for
you shall die, and not live.’”
Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, “Remember now,
O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have
done what was good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
And it happened, before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, that the word of the
Lord came to him, saying, “Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says
the Lord, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears;
surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. And I will
add to your days fifteen years.”‘”
2 Kings 20:1-6
Basically Isaiah went in to Hezekiah and said, “Take care of things, because you’re going to die,” just like that. Then Isaiah walked out of the room. The news hit Hezekiah hard-verse 3 says he “wept bitterly.”
Ever been hit that hard? Sometimes when you’re hit hard by life’s challenges, it’s all right to release your emotions-as long as you don’t let that get in the way of releasing your faith. Hezekiah released both. He was upset, and he turned his face to the wall and wept. But he also turned to God. He made himself pray, and he petitioned the Lord, “You know that I’ve lived before You all the days of my life, Lord. I’ve sought You, and I’ve tried to do good things. This shouldn’t be the result! This shouldn’t be my end!”
After Isaiah walked out, Hezekiah didn’t just lie down and die. He acted on his faith. He humbled himself, reminded the Lord of their relationship, and begged for mercy. In any trial, even a trial of our own making, we can always do the same. Before Isaiah could even walk out of the king’s court, the Lord answered Hezekiah’s prayer. The Lord told the prophet to turn around and tell Hezekiah that he would live fifteen more years.
Triumph Over Your Trials
Releasing your faith allows God to move. When life hits you hard, repent if you need to, then worship around God’s Word. Pray, “Lord, I’m righteous because of the blood of Jesus Christ. I’ve been washed in that blood. I’ve confessed Him as Lord and I’m living for Him, so therefore I cry out to You in the face of this trial. Lord, I call on Heaven-I need a change in my situation. Show me what You want me to do, Lord, and take care of whatever I can’t do. I trust You with my life.”
If you’ll grab on to these different ways we’ve talked about for dealing with your troubles, you’ll get to the place where you’ll make it through every single trial successfully. You’ll get to the place where you’re perfect and complete in Him, lacking nothing. What looks like it could or would destroy somebody else will not destroy you. Like Hezekiah or the woman with the issue of blood, you’ll come out in a better place after the trial than the place you were in before.
When a trial hits, start by taking the steps we’ve covered. First, realize that we all face trials. You are not alone. Look at your trial as an opportunity to build spiritual maturity and practice walking close to God. Next, take action. Realize that you can do some things to help you deal with your trial successfully. We’ve talked about some important things to do:
- Make yourself pray with thanksgiving and meditate on God’s Word day and night, even if you don’t feel like it (and you probably won’t).
- Watch your words because life and death are in the power of the tongue.
- Make it your goal to speak God’s Word out loud instead of speaking about your trial.
- Don’t forget to make yourself laugh because a merry heart does good, like medicine.
- Worship God around His Word, reminding Him of the promises you find there.
All of these are phenomenal ways that you can release your faith. Do these things, and I guarantee that no trial will defeat you. You’ll deal with the challenges of life successfully, and you’ll be able to say, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14). You will win over trials every time!