Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Winning and Blessing Their Hearts

“The Resolution”
Session 6 – Winning and Blessing Their Hearts
Q:  Every generation is given an example in movies or television of what fathers are like. What famous personality represented fatherhood for your generation?

When you think about fathers today, you may automatically associate them with the ones we just discussed. Dads themselves may be starting to assume that such portrayals are the norm. It is past time to develop a new perception for fathers and a new view of fathers.

Q: What man in your life has best represented biblical fatherhood for you?

People of faith recognize that God has a good and noble role for fathers to fill. While the man you described is not perfect, he impacted you and spoke into your life in positive ways. He certainly has made and may be continuing to make an impact on his children. Even if his children ultimately make unwise decisions, they cannot use their father as an excuse to not follow God.

Q: What voices are your children listening to right now? How can you win and bless your children’s hearts so they listen to your voice?

If we truly care that our children succeed at following God, we will stop at nothing to ensure that we win their heart.

You cannot speak into the hearts of your children if you don’t have their hearts. To learn how to win their hearts, let’s learn from God, the Father. We are going to start in Matthew the 3rd chapter where John is baptizing Jesus. As we read this, realize that this passage is a picture of God affirming Jesus, not establishing Him. There is an important difference.

"After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”
Matthew 3:16-17 (NLT)

Verse 17 is pivotal. The Father’s words reveal three affirmations:

1-      The Father was honored to call Jesus His Son.
2-      He loves His Son very much.
3-      God was pleased with how His Son was living on earth.

In Luke, at Jesus’ transfiguration we see the Father state that people should listen to His Son.

 “Then a voice came from the cloud saying: “This is my Son, The Chosen One; Listen to Him!”
Luke 9:35 (NLT)

The Father is saying here that Jesus was of such stature “Chosen One” that others would benefit from knowing and hearing Him. God reiterated His special relationship with Jesus (“my Son”).

In both accounts, God affirmed Jesus so others could hear. The Father told Jesus that He loves Him in a sincere and passionate way. Every child deserves to hear these affirmations in a similar spirit:

1-      You are loved.
2-      You make me proud.
3-      You are good at….

Q: What is the most impactful thing your father ever told you?

Q: What do you think your children are longing to hear from your lips?

Insert Clip 9- “A Better Brother”

Q: What is the difference between saying you love someone and giving him your approval?

Q: What does it mean to you when someone tells you “I love you” or “I’m proud of you”?

Some children have never heard either from their parents. Others have vivid memories of a parent telling them, “I’m proud of you.” Perhaps that affirmation is more specific, acknowledging your child’s priceless worth.

In the last verse of the Old Testament, the prophet Malachi told the people of the forthcoming Jesus. Through the work of John the Baptist and Jesus, a specific action would take place; otherwise, God’s curse would fall on the people. Let’s read it:

“He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”
Malachi 4:6

One outcome of Christ’s coming ministry was to bring fathers’ hearts back to their children and children’s hearts back to their fathers.

“My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways”
Proverbs 23:26

Q: What is the good and the bad of a child being told to “observe my ways”?

Not only are we called to win our children’s hearts, but once we have won them, we must instruct them in the right way to live.

Insert Clip 10- “Nathan’s Date with Jade.”

At a pivotal point in Jade’s life, Nathan spoke truth over her in a life-changing way. Recognizing the opportunity he had, he expressed his love, affirmation, encouragement, and hope for her future. Nathan both told and showed Jade how much he loved her and was proud of her.

Her presented Jade with a wonderful reminder of the love of both of her parents. Nathan promised their lifelong support and discipleship of Jade as a godly woman while at the same time calling her to stand for God, honoring herself and her future husband.

Parenting roles change as children mature, as this clip illustrates well. For their own safety, toddlers benefit more by a loving authority figure than they do a loving counselor- more appropriate when your children are about to leave the nest, like Jade.

No matter the age or life stage, your children will always need your love, encouragement, and affirmation. Let them know it, hear it, and see it.

So what does winning the hearts of your children look like?  Your children know that you love them and have their best interests in mind; you affirm them for who they are as unique individuals; and they trust and allow you to speak value and success into their lives.

When we do all these things, we are encouraging in both word and in deed.

Personal Growth

Commit to memory:

Proverbs 23:26 – “My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.”

Men:        “Resolve to Bless Your Children” (pp. 101-113)
                  Invest in some heart-to-heart time with each child this week. 

Women:   “It Only Works When I Breathe” (pp. 105-110)
                          “Loving My Children” (pp. 205-226)


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