Sunday Sermon: ‘Designed by God’

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If you’ve had the privilege to be a parent, you know that kids can sometimes be a mess. No two kids are alike. Chuck Swindoll says that they are as different as snowflakes. What’s most amazing is that even when kids come from the same family, they can be so different. Why is that? It’s because kids are uniquely designed by God.

Look with me at Psalm 139:14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. NKJV

Children aren’t accidents. They aren’t mistakes. They are special creations made by a God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving, and never changes.

As we continue in our study on parenting, I would like to take us through a quick survey of Psalm 139 which is perhaps the most descriptive portion of scripture in all the Bible to help us understand how important our children are to God.

I. God’s Knowledge of Our Children  

 A. God Knows Us

Psalm 139:1 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.

The predominant theme of this psalm is that God knows everything there is to know about us. As someone has said, “We cannot see God, but he can see us.” [1]  God knows all the secrets we try to keep locked and hidden away. He knows things that others don’t know. God even knows the things about us that we don’t know ourselves.

I love what Ruth Graham (wife of Billy Graham) has engraved on her grave marker- “END OF CONSTRUCTION – THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE.” I appreciate not only her humor, but also her honesty. We’re all under construction. We’re all a work in progress.

B. God Studies Us

The way David wrote this seems to imply that God’s knowledge of us is not just because He is God and knows everything, but also because He studies us.

Psalm 139:1 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.

The word ‘searched’ means to seek out and examine in order to better understand. God watches how we live in order to better understand who we are.

Psalm 139:1 O Lord, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. 3 You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways.

Notice, ‘You are acquainted with all my ways.’ The thought here is that God knows each and every one of us as an individual. God knows who Terry Covey is. He knows how I think and feel. He knows what excites me and what scares me. He knows what touches my heart.

C. God Understands Us

David said –

Psalm 139:2 You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. 3 You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. 4 For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.

Someone has said that it is both ‘convicting’ and comforting’ to know that God knows all there is about us. [2] It’s convicting in that we can’t hide anything from God; but it’s comforting in that, even though God knows everything there is to know about us, He still loves us.

One of my favorite verses of scripture is Psalms 103:14 ‘For He knows how we were formed, remembering that we are dust.’ (authors translation) God never forgets that He is God and we are not. God always remembers that we were made from the dust of the earth. God knows this not only because He is God and made us; He knows this because He Himself became a man. The Bible says –

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ESV

Though God is not pleased with our sins, He does not simply write us off. Jesus, God’s Son, clothed Himself in humanity and became a man. Why did Jesus do this? There are at least a couple of reasons.

Jesus did this so that He could offer His life as a sacrifice for our sins. We read from the Bible – “…when Christ came into the world, He said: ‘(animal) Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You prepared for me.’” (Hebrews 10:5 BSB) Jesus became a man so that as a man, He could give His life for the sins of mankind.

But there’s also another reason why Jesus became a man. He became a man so that He might understand what it is like to be human. The Bible says that Jesus ‘sympathizes with our weaknesses.’ The word ‘sympathize’ means to suffer with someone. Jesus is right here with us in our struggles. He does not excuse our sins, but He sympathizes with our weaknesses and He encourages us to come to Him so that He might help us.

D. As Parents, We Must Seek to Know and Understand Our Children

What does all of this have to do with parenting? First of all, we need to understand that God knows and understands our children. Some of us forget that it is not always easy to be a child. A child’s life is not always fun and games. Children have their struggles as well. With great intimacy God knows our children and understands their struggles. God cares deeply about children. Perhaps you will remember the story of how one day some parents brought their children to Jesus in order for Him to bless them. (see Mark 10:13-16) The disciples thought that Jesus was too busy and important to fool with children; yet the Bible says that Jesus became very upset with His disciples and rebuked them. “To such belongs the kingdom of God.” On another occasion, Jesus said that we have to become like little children if we expect to go to heaven. We have to come down off of our pedestals and have child-like faith in Jesus in order to be saved. Then the Bible says that Jesus took the little children up in His arms and blessed them. Do you think that perhaps He may have called many of them by name?

Sometimes parents will say to me that they don’t understand their children. Perhaps one of the reasons we don’t understand them is because we often have preconceived ideas of how they should think and act. Tammy and I often laugh about the ‘First Child Syndrome.’ You know what that is, don’t you? It’s that idea that we’re going to show the world just how great we are as parents by raising the perfect child. Yet we can’t raise perfect children because we’re not perfect parents.

Another reason we might not understand our children is because we haven’t taken the time to study them. Actually, this week’s message is to prepare us for next week’s message, so hang on to that thought. We need to strive to study and understand our children.

II. God’s Pursuit of Our Children   

God not only understands our children, God pursues a relationship with them.

Psalm 139:5 You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it.

Literally David is saying, “You have gone before me and You stand behind me. I am completely engulfed by You.” We cannot escape God. He is not only all-knowing, He is present everywhere. God knows us and He pursues us.

A. God Pursues Our Children

I remember a time in my life when I tried to run from God. I also remember how I often became very upset because I thought other people were trying to control me. This was especially true with my parents. I couldn’t understand why my parents wouldn’t just leave me alone and let me live like I pleased. It wasn’t until after the Lord gave me children that I began to understand the depth of my parents’ love

Although I thought that it was my parents who were trying to control me, it was actually God who was pursuing me.

Jesus told a parable once about God’s pursuit of us.

Luke 15:3-7 … “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?”

Why does God pursue us? He pursues us because He made us and he loves us.

When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!”

I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

God begins pursuing our children, even before our children know very much about God. I remember when I was about ten or eleven years old and beginning to have questions about God. At that time, I knew almost nothing about Jesus, much less that He had died on the cross for my sins. I thought that He was just a good man. Yet God was stirring in my soul, creating an interest in me to know more about Him. Then the Lord, in His amazing love, orchestrated the events that caused our family to be invited to another church where I, for the first time in my life, heard the truth about Jesus and my need for a Savior. In another message I hope to share with you some biblical principles about leading your child to Christ.

B. Our Children May Try to Run From God, But They Can’t Outrun God

Psalm 139:5 You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it. 7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” Even the night shall be light about me; 12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

Distance can’t separate us from God, neither can darkness. God’s knowledge penetrates the darkness and His presence surpasses the distance.

During those years that I was trying to run from God, I at one point thought that if I could just get away from my parents and the church I grew up in, I could be free. But to my amazement, God was already there when I arrived at my desired destination. And when I decided to make my way back home, God got in the car and rode with me. Without anyone else around, God brought me back to Himself.

God knows your children and He pursues your children. Your job as their parent is to travel along the journey with them.

III. God’s Design of Your Child

Here’s an interesting thought, when did God first become aware of your child? When they were born? When you first brought them home from the hospital? Was it the first time you brought them to church or let them go to Sunday School?

David tells us that God was intimately acquainted with our children while they were being formed in their mother’s womb.

Psalm 139:13 For You formed my inward parts;

The Bible teaches us that children are not accidents. They are a part of the magnificent handiwork of God. The words David uses here refers to someone weaving together a fine tapestry.

David literally says, “You and You alone have made me.” We are not the product of Mother Nature. There is no such thing as Mother Nature. That’s paganism. Each and every child is created by the Creator.

Psalm 139:13 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.

Literally David is saying, “You carefully wove me together like a fine tapestry.” Often children struggle with certain parts of their body. They’re too tall or too short or too heavy or too thin. Yet God has made them to be who they are. They need to know that. We all need to realize that God has made each of us for His own glory.

There was an article the other day in USAToday about a little boy who was born with a cleft palette and no eyes. On the one hand, it’s a heart wrenching story, yet on the other hand it’s very encouraging and inspiring. The little boy was born to parents who are believers and they named him ‘Christian.’ The little boy’s mother doesn’t focus on her son’s difficulties and obstacles. She focuses on him being a gift from God.

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…

Every child is a unique creation by God. Someone has said that they are like snowflakes carefully designed by God.

IV. God’s Plan for Our Children

Psalm 139:16 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.

Children are not accidents or inconveniences. They are gifts from God given for the ultimate purpose of bringing Him glory. As parents, our duty is to:

1) Help them come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior

2) Help them learn to love and serve Christ as their Lord

Psalm 139:17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand…

So often God is portrayed as some mean bully that is waiting to destroy us. Yet the Bible teaches us that it breaks the heart of God whenever one of His special creations turns away from Him. I do not agree with the Calvinist who says that God has chosen for some people to be saved and the rest to perish. I believe that scripture teaches us that God loves all that are in the world and it is our duty as His followers to tell them.

CONCLUSION

Unlike many of David’s psalms, the Bible doesn’t tell us what the occasion was when he wrote this magnificent piece of poetry. Perhaps it was on a starry night, when he was tending his father’s sheep, and gazing up into the heavens. But perhaps it was when he committed his terrible sin of adultery with Bathsheba. Why do I say that? Consider how David ends his psalm.

Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. NLT

If there was sin in David’s life, you would think that he would try to hide it, yet instead he pleads with God to reveal it. Why would he do that? I believe it is because he understands that God loves him and that God wants to forgive and bless him. David wants God to reveal anything in his life that might stand between him and God so that he might enjoy a rich and rewarding relationship with His Creator.

How about you today? Can you do that? Can you invite God to open up your heart and to reveal everything that is in it? I pray that today’s message will encourage us to do just that and to teach the same to our children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UNDERSTANDING THE UNIQUENESS OF YOUR CHILD

Proverbs 22

6         Train up a child in the way he should go:

and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

 

Best known Bible verses on parenting – but what does it mean?

 

 

  1. Principle (Not a Promise)
    1. “You can prepare your child to make wise, responsible decisions:

nevertheless, the choices remain theirs.” (Swindoll)

  1. Principle / Probability
    1. If you raise your child in the proper way
    2. They will embrace that way when they are grown – continue to live in it
    3. Question – ‘What is the right way?’

 

 

 

 

  1. Train Up a Child in the Way He (She) Should Go
    1. OUR WAY             My way or the highway!”
      1. Parental Authority – but…
      2. Goal?
        1. To always be right / in control?
        2. Raise up children who will know and love God?
      3. GOD’S WAY
        1. ‘The Way’ <01870> God’s Way – Standard
          1. Proverbs – (2) ways:
            1. Way of the Foolishness (Rebellion)                       Pathway to Destruction

Pr 12:15 “The way <01870>” of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.

 

  1. Way of Wisdom Pathway to Blessing

Pr 4:10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.

11 I have taught thee in “the way <01870>” of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.

 

  1. Presupposition – “Train up a child in “the way <01870>” he should go:

and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

 

  1. If we – make our children go to church / conform to our rules – turn out OK
  2. They may wander off the path for a while                (sow some wild oats)
  3. But when they ‘are old’ (hair on chin) – they will return and everything be OK
  4. Yet – sometimes – they don’t return / everything isn’t OK
  5. Ted Tripp – ‘Shepherding a Child’s Heart’ Goal of parenting:
    1. Not – just to get your child to comply with your rules
    2. But to change your child’s heart
  • “The behavior a person exhibits – expression of overflow with her heart” [3]

 

  1. The Child’s Way

Proverbs 22

6         Train up a child in ”the way <01870>” he should go:

and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

  1. Pr 30:
    1. “the way <01870>” of an eagle – soars in the sky
    2. “the way <01870>” of a ship – sails across the sea
  • Way – {mannerisms} unique characteristics

 

  1. According to the child’s ‘BENT’
    1. Understand who God has made your child to be

Psalm 139 NKJV

13       For You formed my inward parts;          (0rgans)

Emphatic – ‘You’ / God –  and no other

  • Not – Mother Nature
  • Not – by accident / coincidence

Formed – ‘created’ / originated  (as it pleased Him – Creator)

  • Every child is an original
  • Therefore – every child needs original parenting

 

 

You covered (wove / knitted – tapestry) me in my mother’s womb. (before birth)

 

14       I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

“I praise you because of how marvelously and miraculously You have made me!”

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,    (womb)

And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.   (fine needle point)

When does life begin?

When God begins His process of creating a child – conception

 

16       Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.    (OMNISCIENCE of God)

 

 

 

 

 

And in Your book they all were written,

The days fashioned for me,

When as yet there were none of them.

 

Jeremiah – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” (Jeremiah 1:5)

 

Paul – “even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace…” Gal 1:15

 

17       How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!

How great is the sum of them!

God cares about every detail of your child’s life

God cares about every detail of your life:

  • God created you in His image
  • God sent His Son
    • To die on the cross
    • In order to receive in Himself the punishment you and I deserve for our sins
    • God knows you / God loves you / God pleads with you to come home

 

Application

Seeing your child as a unique design by God will change:

  • How you see and raise them
  • How they will see themselves
    • I believe that a sense of self-worth is vital in raising a healthy child
    • Children who feel good about themselves will be less susceptible to the influence of others

 

Chuck Swindoll – ‘Tell your children how special God has made them’

Study (pray) – know who this child is that God has given to you:

  • What are God’s dreams for your child?
  • Why has He made them the way they are?

[1] Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

[2] Danny Akin, http://www.danielakin.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/psalm-139-fearfully-and-wonderfully-made-manuscript-kh.pdf

 

[3] Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, p 3

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