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Family First

Apr 14, 2024    Matthew Balentine

Matthew Balentine reflects on the profound role of children in our spiritual lives and the immense responsibility we have as parents to raise them as disciples of Christ. He begins by expressing gratitude for our Family First Sunday, a tradition that honors the families of the Ninth Avenue Church, particularly our children, who Jesus esteemed as the standard for entering the kingdom of God. He emphasizes the need to become like children in our faith and spiritual approach, a concept that Jesus presented to challenge our conventional thinking.

In prayer, Matthew lifts up a member of the community who is facing health challenges, and prays for her comfort and peace. He then shares anecdotes about the unpredictability of children and how they can humorously expose our flaws, reminding us of our need for humility and grace.

Matthew recounts the story of Hannah from 1 Samuel, who exemplified the importance of involving God in our family planning from the outset. Hannah's dedication to God before Samuel's birth set a precedent for us to pray for our children's futures and to recognize them as blessings from God, intended for His purposes.

Matthew discusses the joy and challenges of parenting, highlighting the first year as a time filled with precious memories born out of God's love for us. He encourages parents to let their children feel this love and to understand that our role extends beyond caregiving to demonstrating God's love in our lives.

Matthew stresses the importance of making God our top priority, as exemplified by Hannah and her husband, who were committed to following God's will above all else. This commitment should be evident in our parenting, as what we focus on will inevitably become important to our children. He uses the example of his children's affinity for the Atlanta Braves to illustrate how our passions influence our children's interests.

Matthew concludes by urging parents to raise their children in a spiritual environment, referring to Jewish homes as "little temples." He reminds everyone that our ultimate goal is to raise our children as disciples, making every effort to involve them in the church and to prioritize God in our homes.

Key Takeaways:

1. Children are not just a part of our families; they are a spiritual standard set by Jesus Himself. We must strive to embody their purity, humility, and faithfulness in our daily walk with God. This perspective challenges us to reevaluate our spiritual maturity and to approach God with a childlike heart.

2. The power of prayer in shaping our families cannot be overstated. Just as Hannah prayed for Samuel before his birth, we too should be proactive in praying for our children's futures, their spouses, their friends, and the decisions they will make. This practice acknowledges God's sovereignty and invites His guidance from the earliest stages of our children's lives.

3. Our children are watching us, and our priorities will shape their values. If we live as true disciples of Jesus, our actions will naturally instill in them a love for God and a desire to follow Him. This requires us to be intentional in demonstrating a life of faith both inside and outside the church.

4. The concept of our homes as "little temples" is a beautiful reminder that our primary ministry begins within our family. By creating a spiritual environment at home, we are nurturing our children's faith and setting a foundation for their lifelong relationship with God.

5. Raising our children as disciples is the most important task we have as parents. It is not enough to be successful in worldly terms if we fail to lead our children to Christ. Our legacy is best measured by the spiritual growth and discipleship we foster in our children's lives.