Lead Your Children to Jesus
One of the most important things you can do to give your children a good foundation in life is to help them establish a personal relationship with God, through Jesus. When your children are very young, it is very easy to lead them to Jesus. Here is an excerpt from Keys to Toddlers and Preschoolers (also in this series), which may be helpful for you with any of your younger children:
Children can pray and receive God’s gift of eternal salvation, through asking Jesus to come into their hearts, at an early age. Receiving Jesus into their hearts is so simple that even a two-year-old can do it! You can hardly find anybody more sincere or believing than a small child. That’s why Jesus said we must become as little children to go to Heaven (Matthew 18:3). As soon as they are old enough to pray the simplest of prayers—as young as two years old—they are old enough to receive Jesus.
As soon as you have taught your child who Jesus is (children’s picture Bibles are great for this), you can explain: “Jesus wants to come and live in your heart. He loves you very much, and He wants to be your best friend and stay with you always. If you ask Him to, He will come and live in your heart. Then He will never ever leave you! Do you want Jesus to come into your heart?”
You can then pray a simple prayer that your child can repeat after you, as well as he or she can. Even if your child can only manage to say the last word or two from each phrase, that’s enough for Jesus, because it’s the heart that counts. Simply pray: “Jesus, come into my heart. Forgive me for being bad sometimes. Help me to love You, and help me to be good.”—And Jesus will come in; your child will be eternally saved. That is God’s promise. It’s as simple as that!
Your older children may need a fuller explanation of salvation. Perhaps you could share the following, or parts of it, with them:
We all have weaknesses and are not perfect, and sometimes we do wrong things. God loves us so much that He wants to forgive us and help us change, so He has worked a great miracle: a plan to save us. He made it so simple that anyone can be saved! All you need to do is to simply believe and receive Jesus in your heart. When Jesus comes into your life, He will help you right now, and He will also give you eternal life forever in Heaven. Salvation is a great gift from God to all those who love and believe in Jesus.
God wants everyone to be saved, but He gives each of us the freedom of choice. We each must decide personally if we will accept Jesus and His free gift of eternal life.
Jesus promised, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him” (Revelation 3:20).
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. … Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:9-10,13).
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
“And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life” (1 John 2:25).
Salvation is as simple as that! Once your child receives Jesus into his life, he has it. It’s a wonderful experience for parents to be able to share in their child’s discovery of Jesus and His salvation.
Giving Your Children the Word of God
“The Word of God is living and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12). It lives in us, speaks to us and fills our lives with light and understanding. As we drink in the living water of God’s Word, it begins to transform our hearts, minds, and lives. We begin to see things from God’s point of view, which often is entirely different from our own way of thinking. We discover things about ourselves and others that we cannot learn any other way.
We wouldn’t say to a child lost in a forest, “Find your own way.” We would never think of not feeding our children, or not clothing them, or not letting them go out and play and get fresh air and exercise. Neither should we withhold from them the Words of life—the power, light, and life of God. Jesus said, “The Words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).
It is through God’s Word that your children will learn what is right and what is wrong, and it is God’s Word that will give them a solid foundation to hang onto through all the tests and trials they will face. And as they grow up, they will indeed face many, because life is a proving ground where we must learn to make choices on the side of what is right and good, rather than what is wrong and hurtful. Young as they are, your children soon find themselves engaged in this spiritual struggle and begin making choices that can greatly affect their lives and the lives of others. As parents, you can better prepare your children for these tough choices by giving them Jesus, a foundation of faith, and a knowledge of God’s Word.
“How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your Word” (Psalm 119:9).
“Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).
“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:10-12 KJV).
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:13-17 KJV).
Bible Stories for Kids
Teach your children Bible stories starting at a young age—the younger the better. Even as babies, they can drink in stories about Jesus and men and women of faith. This will lay a good foundation for deeper discoveries from God’s Word as your children get older. (See Keys to Baby and Keys to Toddlers and Preschoolers for Bible lesson ideas for little children.)
In the “Word Study Activities Guide” at the end of this booklet you’ll find a Bible story checklist of some basic Bible stories that you could start reading with your children. Having daily Bible stories with your kids will bring you all closer together, and help you grow in your faith and understanding of God’s Word. As you read and discuss these stories, you will be surprised at how many lessons you’ll find that apply to your everyday life. Take time to talk about the details and the meaning of each story and help your children apply the lessons to their own lives.
Some well-known Old Testament stories are not appropriate for younger children, as they include violence and immorality; e.g., Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah, Jael’s assassination of Sisera, and others. Of course, there are Old Testament stories that are appropriate for younger kids, such as the Creation, Noah’s ark, God calling the little boy Samuel, etc.
Exploring God’s Word is a spiritual adventure your whole family can share, and you don’t have to know all the answers to begin. If your children ask you questions that you don’t know the answer to, simply tell them, “That is something I don’t know yet, but as we keep reading I’m sure we’ll find out!” Ask the Lord to help you see the answer as you read the Word. You might find it helpful to discuss their questions with your husband or wife, or a Bible-reading friend. The Bible is a big book, and even after a lifetime of study you will not have learned all of the wonderful things it has to say.
Keeping the Word in Your Heart
One important aspect of studying God’s Word as a family is committing to memory some of the most important, inspiring and comforting verses. Memorizing His faith-building promises helps us grow in faith and find comfort for ourselves and others in difficult times. In Psalm 119:11 (quoted earlier), the Bible tells us that we should hide the Word in our heart so that we will please God and avoid doing things that will hurt others. Thinking about and memorizing God’s Word actually helps clean up our thoughts and our hearts; the godly quotes and lines that we memorize become a light to our path and an anchor to our soul. Knowing God’s Word helps us to grow spiritually, and gives us a better understanding of the Lord, others, and ourselves. Knowing the Word by heart makes it easy to share what it has to say with others, even when we do not have a printed copy of the Bible with us. Realizing how very helpful and important it is to know God’s Word should encourage us to want to learn all we can, and to continue to read, study, and memorize it with our children.
Some suggested verses to help you and your children get started on a Word memorization project are included in the “Word Study Activities Guide” at the end of this booklet under “Family-Time Memory Verses.”
If memory work is new to you and your children, start by trying to memorize one verse every two days. Read the memory verse while the kids are having breakfast. It is a good idea to discuss it briefly with them to be sure they understand what it means and how to apply it to their lives. If possible, give them a copy of the verse to have in their pockets or schoolbags so they can refer to it throughout the day. At the end of the first day, say the verse together over dinner, and review it again before the children go to bed. Do the same the second day, and at the end of the day, you could award a small prize to those who can say the verse from memory. Rewards don’t have to be big—just a fun acknowledgment of the progress they’ve made.
One way to record progress when working on a series of memory verses with more than one child is to put a chart on the refrigerator or elsewhere. List the children’s names and the Bible references to the verses they are learning, and put a sticker, or check mark by each child’s name when he or she has learned each verse. Don’t forget to put your name on the memory chart too, and give yourself a sticker, or a check mark—or let the kids give you one—when you successfully quote the verse! Make your memory work a family affair. To keep everyone inspired and making progress, you’ll probably want to vary your approach and your incentive from time to time. For example, you might try putting a check mark by each verse learned, awarding a sticker after five verses are learned, and then having a special outing or other reward when everyone has four stickers (20 verses completed).
Once you become accustomed to doing memory work, you will probably be able to memorize a verse a day. Don’t be surprised if it’s easier for your children to memorize verses than it is for you. Let this be an encouragement to them. Memorizing verses can be a little difficult at first, but as you do it, it will become easier and more natural. Like learning to type or drive or play a musical instrument or operate a computer, it’s a skill that comes with practice.
For memory projects to last, it is best to have some handy way to collect and review the verses. One idea is to write out each verse on an index card, or photocopy the checklist at the end of this booklet and cut it up into individual verses and glue them onto small cards. Or you could photocopy the checklist to make a small memory booklet for each child. If you put verses on one side of index cards and write the Bible references or key reminder words or phrases on the other, they can be used for memory review games.
Memorizing (and reviewing) a whole psalm or other chapter from the Bible is sometimes easier than memorizing a handful of individual verses, because in a chapter the verses are usually cohesive; they tell a story or build on a theme. On the other hand, you may find a few select verses to be more useful, as well as a less daunting memory project than a whole chapter or psalm, especially when you’re just beginning. While some long sections in the Bible can be very encouraging and helpful to learn, one of the benefits of learning individual verses is that you can cover more topics in a shorter time: salvation, the Holy Spirit, healing, prayer, faith, witnessing, God’s care and protection, comfort, etc. Try to learn verses that contain God’s special promises to you, or that teach basic spiritual truths, or that speak to you individually.
(For more ideas on how to keep from forgetting the verses that you learn, see “Tips on Bible Memory Verse Review” in the “Word Study Activities Guide” at the end of this booklet.)
Sharing Jesus with Others
Once you and your children have received Jesus and begin to feed on His Word, your lives will change. You will begin to see a difference in yourselves and your attitudes and your approach to different situations. God has given you the great gift of His salvation, the treasure of His Word, and the peace and assurance of His love. You have found a priceless treasure which God wants you to share with others, so they too can be saved and enjoy the riches of God that you have discovered.
God’s love is never-ending; there’s plenty for all, so don’t hesitate to open the treasure chest to others. A friendly look, a smile, a touch, or a word of encouragement and sympathy can open the door to sharing the message of God’s love and salvation with others. All that you have learned in this booklet about receiving Jesus, His salvation and His Word can be shared with your family, friends, co-workers, schoolmates, and people you meet. Read and learn the verses under the topics of salvation and witnessing in the “Family-Time Memory Verses” at the end of this booklet, and let the Lord work through you and your children to help others find salvation and a happy life with Jesus, now and forever.
If your children (or you) are shy about talking to others about Jesus, pray together and ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit—the marvelous gift He has promised, which will give you the power to witness. (For more on the Holy Spirit and how it can help you and your children, read God’s Gifts in the Get Activated series.)
You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me. (Acts 1:8)
The message your children can give their friends can be as simple as this: “Jesus is my best friend. He is in my heart. He loves you and wants to be in your heart too. He will be your best friend, and then we’ll all be together in Heaven one day. Just pray with me and Jesus will come into your heart.”