On Various Subjects
"Why Children Are Important"
RODGERS BAPTIST CHURCH
801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040
(5) "There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
(6) "And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
(7) "And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
(8) "And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course,
(9) "According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
(10) "And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.
(11) "And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
(12) "And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
(13) "But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
(14) "And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
(15) "For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.
(16) "And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
(17) "And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
(18) "And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
(19) "And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
(20) "And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
(21) "And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he tarried so long in the temple.
(22) "And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.
(23) "And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
(24) "And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
(25) "Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein He looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
(26) "And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
(27) "To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
(28) "And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
(29) "And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
(30) "And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God.
(31) "And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
(32) "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of his father David:
(33) "And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end.
(34) "Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
(35) "And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
(36) "And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
(37) "For with God nothing shall be impossible.
(38) "And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word. And the angel departed from her.
(39) "And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;
(40) "And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.
(41) "And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
(42) "And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
(43) "And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
(44) "For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
(45) "And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a
performance of those things which were told her from the Lord."
(boldface emphasis added).
Sometime ago, I was away in a meeting and staying in a motel. It was late at night, I had just returned to the motel, so I called my wife, grabbed the remote, clicked on the television, and fell into the bed. As I was talking to my wife, the channel I selected was airing a documentary contrasting the way America and China treated their animals. It was a strange film, but their premise was that how a culture treated their animals, revealed much about the culture and it's values.
In America, we were shown the finest veterinarian facilities, and the great amounts of money and care people were willing to invest in their pets. There were people who included their family pets in their wills. We were shown pet psychologist, pet funerals, and pet cemeteries. Only in America!
Then the focus turned to China. I wasn't prepared for what I was about to see. The animals we keep as pets over here, are the animals that end up on their dinner tables over there. Of course I knew that, but it was the inhumane way they treated the animals as they prepared them for consumption, that turned my stomach. I will spare you the details, but as I was talking to my wife, I had to turn off the television, get up, and walk around the room to over come a sick feeling I had on the inside.
Then recently in Australia, Bro. Fairbanks (a missionary sponsored by Rodgers Baptist Church) placed before me an article from the Creation Research Institute that took me back. They are now selling and consuming human fetuses in China. The fetus material is provided of course by the tremendous abortion industry in China, since families are limited by the powers that be as to how many children they can have. It is not uncommon in China to see women trying to give their children away to Americans or anybody who will take them. Consuming fetus material is supposed to have life giving and medicinal properties.
While we were recently in China, on several occasions, we encountered American couples who were in the process of adopting, or trying to adopt, Chinese children. As I took all this in, I realized that a culture and country is measured to a greater degree not by how they treat their animals, but by how they treat their children.
Our text reveals one great truth. The difference between people, cultures, and nations, as to their values, does not lie so much in the people themselves, but in their relationship to God and His Word! Obviously America has it's own sin and problems, however if we do better by our children, or by our animals for that matter, it is solely because of the Bible and our faith in Jesus Christ.
Christianity has in the past at least shaped and molded our nation in ways we have all come to take for granted. When we as a nation, and as a people, walk away from God and His Word, we walk away from the value of life itself. It's a sad day in America when children are slaughtered, abandoned, and forsaken, on the alters of materialism and the triune humanistic god of me, myself and I.
Listen to me, children are important! How we treat our children is a reflection of our innermost self. Here in this passage, we observe in the lives of two godly women, Elizabeth and Mary, that children were very important to them.
In this message, I want to bring to you four reasons, WHY
CHILDREN ARE IMPORTANT, as we consider these two women,
Elizabeth and Mary.
Elizabeth was barren. She was childless. She and her husband wanted a child more than anything in the world. The years were advancing upon them and the likelihood of their ever having a child was growing slim, yet they refused to give up hope. Zacharias and Elizabeth sought the Lord fervently for a baby.
Then came the day as Zacharias was offering incense to the Lord in the holy place, the angel of the Lord Gabriel appeared unto him and told him that he and his wife would soon have the child they had dreamed of and prayed for. The child would be a boy, and they must name him John. Zacharias at first doubted it was possible, considering their age and the limitations it presented, but the child was born just as the angel had promised, and when John came into the world, both Zacharias and Elizabeth knew who made it all possible! The cry of a baby proved that, "with God, all things are possible."
Mary was not looking for a child. She was a virgin engaged to be married when Gabriel appeared to her with the most astounding news. She was to give birth to the promised Messiah. She was to be the virgin prophesied by Isaiah. Mary was to conceive a child by the Holy Spirit of God, giving birth to the Son of God! While this news brought joy to her heart, it shook her relationship with Joseph, and stirred the community with rumors of shame and suspicion.
We know the rest of the story. Mary kept her child. Joseph stayed with Mary choosing not to put her away, but claimed her as his wife. The child was born in Bethlehem, and was named by Heaven itself! The angel said, "Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sin."
Elizabeth and Mary loved their baby boys because they knew how they came into the world. These babies, these children, were a gift from the hand of God. Were it not for the intervention of God, neither of these children would have come into the world!
Listen, John and especially Jesus were unique and special babies, but all babies, all children, are precious gifts from the hand of God. God is in the baby business. He is preoccupied with children. We must view children as important because God loves and values children. This is the God who blessed the barren womb in the Old Testament, over and over again. This is the God who watched over baby Moses, and spoke to young Samuel. This is the God who became a babe Himself, and when He grew to manhood said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for such is the kingdom of Heaven."
There are things we throw away and other things
we would never throw away. For example, costume jewelry is
man made and it is cheap. We let our kids play with
this stuff. However, a genuine diamond necklace or ring is
another thing. We would never throw away something as valuable,
as precious, as a genuine diamond necklace or ring.
There are some things that man cannot make. Why then do we
throw away our children? Why do we trash our precious
babies, something that only God can make? Children are important
because of HOW THEY COME.
What does a baby bring to our lives? Some would say bottles, pampers, pacifiers, sleepless nights, dirty smelly diapers, doctor bills, stained shirts and dresses from those volcanic burps, the list goes on and on. A baby has to have a whole life support system. If you go anywhere with the baby, you have to rent a U-Haul truck! Children bring a lot of changes in our lives.
But what if you asked the two mothers in out text the same question?
Elizabeth and Mary would answer, "joy!" Can you imagine the joy that filled the house of Zacharias and Elizabeth? They were going to have a baby! This was the answer to their prayers. Then when the initial shock of Mary's baby wore off and she realized that she would bear God's only begotten Son, both she and Elizabeth rejoiced together.
Mary's heart sang, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is His name. And His mercy is on them that fear Him from generation to generation.
He hath showed strength with His arm; He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away. He hath holpen His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy; As He spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to His seed for ever." Wow! This woman is happy! She is rejoicing in the Lord!
What does a baby bring into our lives? Elizabeth and Mary would answer, "love!" God is love, and where God is, there is love. Oh the love that flowed between these mothers and their baby boys. Jesus Christ came into the world because of love. The greatest demonstration of love this world has ever known was the day Jesus willingly laid down His life on a cruel Roman cross to become our sacrifice, our substitute, our Savior.
What does a baby bring into our lives? Elizabeth and Mary would answer, "hope!" God heard their prayers. Elizabeth prayed for a child. For sure Mary prayed for God's purpose to be performed in her life not knowing what all it would entail. These two boys, John and Jesus were to change the world! The Christ child was the world's only hope for redemption. Jesus would provide a way for man to be reconciled to God, and John the Baptist would prepare that way!
Have you ever stepped back and witnessed how a baby
or a little child can change people? A baby can melt
the heart of an adult. Grown ups can act like blithering
idiots around babies! A sweet little boy or girl
can arrest the attention of a total stranger in the grocery
store. Take a child into a senior citizens center and
watch the magic that child brings into their lives. Children
are important for what they bring into the world and
into our lives.
Concerning Elizabeth's child, it says in verses 15-17, "For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
John became God's messenger. John was a great preacher. He came to be known as "John the Baptist." God used this great man to turn men's hearts back to Him and to prepare the way for the Messiah. John was a non-conformist. He stood in the face of the powerful but perverted religious establishment and told them to repent and be baptized. John was a bold and brave man. Herod Antipus chopped off John's head, but Jesus said there was not a greater man than John the Baptist.
Concerning Mary's child it says in verses 30-33, "And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end." Jesus was the Lord's Messiah. The babe born of Mary was the blessed Savior of the world. The day came when Jesus walked to the Jordan river as John was preaching. When John saw Jesus he said, " Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world."
Why are children important? You never know what God will
do with that child that graces your home.
The ultimate leaders develop followers who will surpass them. Runners will become coaches and train other athletes who will break their records. Executives will motivate subordinates so successfully that they will become their superiors. And parents, in their devotion to a child, will pull him or her up beside them -- and then encourage the child to go even higher.
When Harry and Ada Mae Day had their first child, they traveled 225 miles from their ranch to El Paso for the delivery, and Ada Mae brought her baby, Sandra, home to a difficult life. The four-room adobe house had no running water and no electricity. There was no school within driving distance.
But the Days did not allow themselves to be limited by their surroundings. Harry had been forced by his father's death to take over the ranch rather than enter Stanford University, but he never gave up hope that his daughter would someday study there. Sandra's mother first taught at her home, and also saw to it that the house was stocked with newspapers, magazines and books. One summer the Days took their children to all the state capitals west of the Mississippi.
Sandra did go to Stanford, to law school, and became the first woman justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. On the day of her swearing in, the family was there. "She looked around, saw us and locked her eyes right into ours," said her brother, Alan. "That's when the tears started falling."
What motivates a woman like Sandra Day O'Connor? Intelligence, of course, and inner drive. But much of the credit goes to a determined ranch mother sitting in her adobe house, reading to her children by the hour, and who, with her husband, scampered up the stairways of capitol domes, their children in tow. You never know just where your children will take you. A lot of it depends on where you take them.
Elizabeth's child took her to the banks of the Jordan river where John the Baptist was baptizing and preaching, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
Mary's child took her to the cross of Golgotha, then to an empty tomb, and on to a hillside where He ascended in a cloud to the right hand of His Father.
Elizabeth and Mary went places they never thought they would go, experienced things that both challenged and changed them for eternity, all because of their children.
Elizabeth and Mary did well by their children, but how about our children? Are we giving them the love, the attention, the correction and instruction, the devotion and the discipline they need? Most of all, are we introducing them to the One who Himself became a babe in a manger so that one day He could redeem the world?
Christmas is not about toys and presents. It's not about children. Christmas is about a child, the Lord Jesus Christ. How important is Jesus to you?