A Heart for God in the Hearts of Children (Mother’s Day)

A Heart for God in the Hearts of Children (Mother’s Day)

“A Heart for God in the Hearts of Children”

(Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Mother’s Day


Rev. Todd A. Linn, PhD

Henderson’s First Baptist Church, Henderson


  • Take God’s Word and open to Deuteronomy, chapter 6.


It is Mother’s Day and so we are pausing our study in the Book of Luke and focusing in on a passage of Scripture that speaks to the family.  This is one of the most well-known passages of Scripture that addresses moms and dads and their roles before God and before their children.


  • Stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word.


4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!

5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.

7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.


  • Pray.




Some months prior to Mother’s Day I find myself collecting various information I come across in my reading and I’ll think to myself, “Well, maybe I can use this on Mother’s Day,” and there will be an arrangement of material under an illustration tab that I’ll review the week before Mother’s Day to see whether any of it may prove useful.  And many times nothing makes its way into the sermon as it just didn’t fit.  I had forgotten about some of this stuff I had collected through my reading and studying over the past few months.


For example, I was reading a February issue of Reader’s Digest and came across this quote from Catherine Blythe from her book, The Art of Marriage: A Guide to Living Life as Two.  This was the quote, “In 19th-Century Japan and China, ‘Talks too much’ was one of seven reasons for which a man could divorce his wife.”  Talks too much!  I’m not sure how I planned to work that in on a sermon on Mother’s Day, but I had saved it.


There was also this brief excerpt from the same issue that I thought might be of interest on Mother’s Day.  Deborah Kelly of San Diego California submitted this.  She writes, “I’d noticed that my 60-year-old father seemed to be losing his hearing, so I mentioned it to my mother.  ‘Things haven’t changed that much,’ she said.  ‘Only difference is, before, he didn’t listen.  Now he can’t.’”


Then there was this much more practical tidbit for married couples.  It’s from author and journalist Jancee Dunn in a short article she wrote for the magazine, “Real Simple.”  She writes, “My folks have been married for 47 years.  One of my father’s rules for a happy marriage is that if a nasty argument threatens to erupt, hold hands while you hash it out.  You’ll feel incredibly goofy doing this (and your hand may sweat a little), but here’s the thing: it works.”  That’s a good one!


Well there’s no end to the illustrative material preachers can use on Mother’s Day, but this week I really sensed the Lord’s leading me to this passage of Scripture in Deuteronomy 6.  And I want to study this passage with you and I hope that it will be a blessing to every one of us, moms, dads, grandparents, teens, unmarrieds, singles, every person!  But its application is especially important to parents.


This passage of Scripture is known as the Shema.  How many of you have heard that term, “Shema?”  It refers to these verses in our text, Deuteronomy 6, verses 4-9.  It’s called the Shema because that’s the Hebrew word for the first word in verse 4, “Hear.”  The word “hear” in Hebrew is Shema.  Now this passage is recited twice a day by the faithful Jew.  It’s a great passage of Scripture and I want to share with you the logic of how these verses interrelate.


Verse 4, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!”  This is a statement referring to the exclusive One True God of the Bible.  The point is, “There is no other God!”  That is the point of verse 4.  It includes the unity of God—He is One—but it really has in mind that there is no God, but the God of the Bible.


Then verse 5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”  The point is, “Your total being is in this love for God.  Be totally devoted to the Lord.”  Even today we use this phrase, “I love with all my heart,” my total being.


Verse 6, “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.”  So we love the Lord with all our heart by keeping God’s word in our heart.  We love God with all our heart by keeping the words God commands in our hearts.


Verse 7, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”  See this connection?  Parents continue loving God with all their hearts (verse 5) by keeping the words God commands in their hearts (verse 6) and then pouring God’s word into the hearts of their children (verses 7-9).


So if you want your child to have a heart for God, you must first get God’s Word into your own heart and then pour God’s Word into your child’s heart, which means parents are to be the child’s primary faith influencer and trainer.


One of the booklets these young parents received this morning equips them to be their child’s primary faith trainer by learning to pray for their children.  The booklet is entitled, “Praying for the Next Generation.”  It is written by Sally Michael who, along with her husband, David, serves on the staff at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis.  In the booklet she asks this question:


What kind of legacy do we want to leave for our children?  Often as we get older and anticipate leaving this world, we diligently make plans for what we will be leaving behind.  Some people label their possessions indicating who is to receive them after their death; others make strategic investments calculating how much they will leave to their heirs; most people draw up wills signed by witnesses; some get all their photos in order…but how often have we thought through the spiritual inheritance we want to leave our children?  Do we pray faithfully not only for them, but also for their children and our grandchildren’s children?  What better legacy can we leave than prayers prayed for future generations?


Now I want to break down these six verses into two halves.  The first half applies to every single one of us, whether we are mothers or fathers or singles or whoever.  The first three verses teach that we are to treasure God’s Word.  Number one:


1) We Must Treasure His Word (4-6)


Remember the connection: Love the Lord your God with all your heart—verse 5—by keeping God’s Word in your heart—verse 6.  You love God with all your heart when you keep God’s Word in your heart.  You must treasure His Word.  The psalmist in Psalm 19:10 writes of his love for the commands and judgments of God.  He says, “More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”  He treasures the Word of God.


Psalm 1:1-2, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.”  Treasuring the Word!


Do you treasure the Word?  Is God’s Word to you more to be desired than gold, than fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb?  Do you treasure it?  I want to give you some practical ways to treasure God’s Word.  First by:


1. Reading and Studying it


Some of you say, “Man, I want to feel God’s power and presence!  I mean I just really want to sense His power.  Brother Todd, how can I feel that power and presence?”  Okay, do you read and study His Word?  That’s how to really feel God’s power and presence.  And by the way, you don’t read and study His Word so that you’ll be powerful.  You read and study His Word and He humbles you and convicts you and chastens you and encourages you and uplifts you and then you realize you feel His power and presence.


Read and study God’s Word every day.  If you have never read through the Word of God, start today by turning to the New Testament, Gospel of Matthew, read chapter 1 today.  Tomorrow read chapter 2, etc.  Keep reading.  Then read the Gospel of Mark, then Luke, then John, then Acts.  Just keep reading and watch God honor your discipline.  You will begin to sense His power and presence in your life.  Read and study God’s Word in Sunday school.  Remember every Christian needs two groups: a small group and a big group.  You small group Sunday school class is where you can read and study the Word together with like-minded friends.


Here’s another way you can treasure the Word of God, by:


2. Memorizing and Praying it


If you can memorize your phone number, your Social Security Number and the code you need to punch-in to use your credit card, you can memorize Scripture.  Listen for verses that really speak to you and determine to commit them to memory.  The first time I head Jeremiah 29:11 I knew I wanted to hear that again, “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”


Pray the Word of God.  Open the book of Psalms and pray.  Open to the psalm I mentioned earlier, Psalm 1, and prayerfully read, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,” and say, “Dear God, help me today to not walk among fools and the ungodly.”  Read, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD,” and pray, “Dear God help me to locate my delight in your Word, not in my career, not in my house, but in Your Word.”


You treasure God’s Word by reading and studying it, memorizing and praying it and then:


3. Hearing and Singing it


Every Christian needs two groups: a small group—Sunday school—and a big group—corporate worship.  Both are necessary.  In big group you hear the Word of God and sing the Word of God.  These disciplines help us treasure the Word by getting it into our heart so that we are equipped to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts.  You hear God’s Word in corporate worship through preaching of the Word and you sing God’s Word in corporate worship as through music.


So first half of these verses, “We must Treasure His Word.”  This applies to every one of us.  The second half applies to those who have children.  Second half, number two:


2) We Must Teach His Word (7-9)


So if you have children—moms and dads—here’s what you are to do, verses 7-9, teach God’s Word diligently to your children.  And if you don’t yet have children, perhaps one day you will.  And if it’s not God’s plan for you to have children, then you partner with your friends and loved ones in your church family to pour into the hearts of kids the Word of God.  Watch this parents:


7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.


The idea is to always be about the business of teaching your children and grandchildren the Word of God.  If you want your kids to have a heart for God, you must first have a heart for God.  And you have a heart for God by treasuring His Word in your heart and then pouring His Word into the heart of your child.  You are the primary faith trainer of your children and grandchildren.  Look how important this is, verses 8-9:


8 You shall bind them (the commands of God) as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.


The Jews take these verses literally.  They literally—verse 8—bind the Word of God as a sign on their hand and on their foreheads.  Some of you may have seen Jews wearing these small boxes called phylacteries.  It’s a small black, calfskin case containing God’s Word from this passage as well as another and the little case is fastened with strings to the forehead or to the left hand or arm.


The Jews do the same with verse 9, same thing.  God says in verse 9, “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and your gates.”  The Jews pace a couple of passages of Scripture in a protective case called a mezuzah and they hang these on the doorposts of their homes.  Actually several of these cases are affixed to the doorpost of each room in the house as well as at the place of business.


But of course greater than the question of whether we are supposed to literally place these verses into little boxes or containers is our living out the meaning of these verses.  The meaning of these verses is that we are to teach our children the Word of God.  Parents are to teach God’s Word to their children, being the primary faith trainers of their kids.  Here are three practical ways to teach children the Word.  First:


1. Take Children to Church


Don’t drop them off.  Take them with you.  You go, they go.  I shared with you a couple weeks ago my mother’s conviction about taking me and my younger sister to church.  Shortly after my parents divorced, mom took me to church—every Sunday, no questions asked.  “But mom!”  “Get in the car.”  Today, I say, “Thank you, mom.  Happy mother’s Day!”


Take your children to church.  You are the primary faith trainer.  You teach your children the Word of God and the church comes alongside you and “seconds” the work you are doing.  Parents, the church assists you.  The church does not replace you.  The church reinforces what parents do.


You can train up your child in the way he or she should go, having a heart for God by taking your children to church.  Show them the Lord’s Day means something.  Disengage from all the stuff you normally do during the week and enjoy the fourth commandment by spending the day, not just an hour of the day, but the entire day, focusing on spiritual conversation and worship.  Take your children to church.  Secondly:


2. Have Family Devotion


Every day take time to have a family devotion.  Follow Don Whitney’s suggestion of “Read, Pray, Sing.” It’s really simple.  If there’s a dad in the home, dads lead.  Read a passage of Scripture.  Pray and then sing a brief hymn or chorus.  For years our family has been reading a chapter of Proverbs in the morning.  We read a chapter that coincides with the date.  We read the passage and I’ll ask, “What was one of your favorite verses?”  Or, “Anyone have an insight or a question?”  Then we’ll stand and join hands and pray and then sing something like the first verse of “Amazing Grace.”   This is like 10 minutes tops.  It may not seem like much, but it goes a long way in teaching children what is important.


Teach God’s Word by taking children to church and having family devotion.  Thirdly, teach God’s Word with:


3. Faith Talks & God Sightings


Faith talks are planned.  They usually take the form of a special night set aside to teach and reinforce spiritual truths.  Our family has been taking about one night a week to read through John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.  We’ll just read aloud for about 30 minutes or so and then talk about what we’ve learned.  I love it!  I want to encourage you to set aside an evening a week where you can make memories and lasting spiritual impressions.


A “God Sighting” is unplanned.  It is an opportunity God gives you through circumstances to teach or reinforce a spiritual truth.  So they are not planned, but rather just happen and then parents seize upon the occasion to point children to God.  Maybe your child comments on a beautiful sun set and you seize the opportunity to talk about the God of all creation.


Faith talks and God sightings are wonderful ways to teach our children—verse 7—talking to them when they sit in our house, walk by the way, lie down, and rise up.


Not too long ago, I planned a faith talk with my oldest son, Matthew.  Two months ago, Matthew and I celebrated his spiritual birthday.  March 15th was the day Matthew surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1999.  Every year since then, Michele and I have made it a point on March 15th to celebrate Matthew’s growth in Christ and to talk about the events of the day.  I wrote out what happened that day back in 1999 and I’ll read it and we’ll reflect and remember.


But on his last spiritual birthday in March, I felt led to talk about his spiritual legacy.  We went out to eat like we normally do and then I pulled out this Bible and shared with him the story of my great-grandfather, Samuel Linn.  Samuel Linn was a Presbyterian minister who traveled in the early 1900s to nearby cities in Nebraska every Sunday and preached the Word in both German and English.  Accompanying my great-grandfather was my grandfather, Carl, then a small boy who drove the team of horses—and later a Model T.  Carl thought he wanted to grow up to be a medical missionary, but things changed later in life and he became a very successful chemist, starting his own company, that continues to thrive today.  But Carl died about 15 years ago and it appears that he may have died lost.  He had become intrigued with philosophy and appears to have forsaken his early childhood faith.  My great-grandfather gave him this Bible on Christmas 1963.  I later received it after my grandfather died.  And I received some letters, too, including this one written the following Christmastime in 1964 where my great-grandfather is encouraging my grandfather to place his faith in God.  It’s almost as though he’s doing everything he can to get his son to walk in the ways of God.  And I shared with Matthew how important it is that he continues to walk in the ways of God and never walk away from him.  How encouraging it was for me to hear him say, “I will never do that!”

Will he stay faithful to the One True God?  Time will tell, but I continue to pray.  That is our hope, isn’t it, for our children and grandchildren?  We must treasure God’s Word and teach God’s Word.  May God give us the grace to do so.

Stand for prayer.


COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER: The text contained in this sermon is solely owned by its author. The reproduction, or distribution of this message, or any portion of it, should include the author’s name. The author intends to provide free resources in order to inspire believers and to assist preachers and teachers in Kingdom work.