We're gonna have our bible reading now before Tom comes to preach, God's word to us, and you can you can turn to it in your bibles if you want, but it's also in your in your little handouts that you use this morning. You might want to find if you're using your own bible, find mark 12, 28 to 34 first, and then turn stick a finger in it and then turn to deuteronomy 6. Let's hear what God says to us. Due to Rotime chapter 6 verses 1 to 9. These are the commands, decrees and laws the lord or God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess so that you and your children and their children after them may fear the lord your god as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.
Hear Israel and be careful to obey so that it might so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in the land with milk flowing with milk and honey, just as the lord the God of your ancestors promised you. Here o Israel, The lord, our god, the lord is 1. Love the lord your god with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children.
Talk about them. When you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up, tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads, write them on the door frames of your houses, and on your gates. And mark chapter 12 verses 28 to 34. 1 of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer. He asked him of all the commandments, which is the most important, The most important 1 answered Jesus is this, here o Israel.
The Lord our God. The Lord is 1. Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. This second the second is this. Love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no commandment greater than these. Well said teacher, the man replied. You're right in saying that God is 1. And there is no and there is no other but him to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burn offerings and sacrifices. When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, He said to him, you are not far from the kingdom of God, and from then on, no 1 dared asked him any more questions.
Okay. Thank you very much, Dean, and a very warm welcome to you this morning. If we haven't met, my name is Tom Sweetman. I'm 1 of the pastors here at the church And it's lovely to welcome you. It's great to have you if you are visiting us and if you've come to give thanks for and to pray for.
The lives of these babies and to commit their parents also to the lord. And it's a pleasure to have you with us this morning. Do keep those bible readings open in front of you. If you're not familiar with the bible and this is 1 of the only times in the year that you might read it. Deuteronomy is 1 of those big books in the old testament.
It's a big book of sermons. That was preached by Moses to God's people just as they were on the eve of crossing over into the promised land and the book of Mark a new testament, it's a little biography account of Jesus' coming, his birth, his life, his death, his resurrection, and I hope you saw the connection between those 2 readings as we had them read to us. Let's just, as we begin, have a word of prayer, let's bow our heads and pray. Father, we thank you so much for an opportunity to be here this morning. We thank you for these children who you have created in your image We thank you that they have been fearfully and wonderfully made, and we thank you for their parents to whom they have been entrusted.
We thank you for the wider families, and we thank you for this church, and we pray lords that they would grow up to love you the lord god with all their heart and soul and mind and strength and to love their neighbors as themselves. And we ask these things in Jesus' name. Our men, Well, look, I don't know if there are any lawyers in the room this morning, but you might have noticed that that second reading begins with a lawyer. And he's a lawyer who is brave enough to come to Jesus with a question. And it's an important 1.
It was a question that these lawyers talked about quite a lot, which was the most important commandment of God, of all the commands that he had given which was the most important. See, depending on how you count them, there are 613 laws in the old testament part of the bible. And these lawyers had divided them up into 365 prohibitions and 248 commands. And then they had further divided those prohibitions in those commands into ones which were weighty and ought to be taken very seriously and others which were lighter and not as important to know about or to abate. So this was a source of debate among these lawyers, these teachers, which was the most important commandment of God.
And so this brave 1 comes up to Jesus by himself and asks him, come on then Jesus, which 1 is it, the most important of all and his reply is extraordinary. Verse 29, the most important 1 answer Jesus is this. Hero Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is 1. Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength and the second is this. Love your neighbor as yourself, and that is a powerful response for at least 2 reasons.
Firstly, because Jesus has chosen about the most well known and traditional command of all. He didn't choose 1 that was buried away in the small print that only he would know about something slightly obscure and on the edge. He chose the 1 that they knew the best. Faithful Jewish people at this time would have pated this commandment to themselves twice every day. It was like brushing their teeth.
It was part of the fabric of their lives. They knew it. There's no way They could accuse him of being a radical or a maverick. He chose the most traditional 1. But also his reply exposes their hearts because many of these lawyers, as I've said, were dividing god's laws up into the weighty matters and the light matters.
The ones God really cared about and the ones he didn't, the ones we definitely had to obey and the ones we could always shrug off if we needed to. But Jesus says in this command that that way of treating the lord of God is all wrong. So let me do with love, is it? To divide up the commands of 1 you love into the ones they care about and the ones they don't. He says, no.
If love is at the heart of the law, that changes everything. And so this man in some ways is different from them because he seems to get that, doesn't he? Then if you saw that in the reading, he seems to understand it. This particular lawyer understands what lots of people today don't understand about Christianity. He knows that it is not just about the outward rules and religion.
He knows it's not just about doing stuff, going through the motions in order to please God He knows there's something more important than all the sacrifices and the religious rituals. He knows that love for God is more important than all. Do you know that? Do you know that about Christianity? It's not just about the outward.
That the love for God is at the heart of the law, heart of the word. That's why Jesus actually quotes Deuteronomy 6 in the Old Testament because he's wanting to show that at the heart of god's word, both old and new, is love for god. Love for god. Is at the heart of the word of God. It is now and it always has been.
And so he quotes deuteronomy to prove that to them. And so this man seems to understand it. He understands what many fail to that love is at the heart of the law. And so the question is, Why does Jesus say he's only near to the kingdom and not in? Why does he still appear to be on the edge and not part of?
Well, because he doesn't yet realize that to love the lord his god will be to love the son of god who stands in front of him. That in order to love him with everything you've got, you must embrace his son Jesus Christ whom he sent into the world. In order to love him, you must love the sun and hopefully he gets there. But at this stage, It doesn't seem like he quite understands that. And so look, the question is why these 2 readings for a morning like this?
Well, you notice that in deuteronomy 6, this command about the love of God and the love of Christ is a command that is given to parents Parents are to take it to their own hearts. They are then to impress it upon the hearts of their children, and their children we pray will grow up to impress it upon the hearts of their children and all that they know. This is a cross generational command. Love God. Love Christ.
And then impress that upon your children. And given that we have got multiple generations with us this morning, parents and grandparents and children. And given that we think forward to 1 day what their children might be like, this seems like a good place for us to spend a few minutes. So firstly, I want to say that these commands ought to be on the hearts of the parents. These commands then secondly ought to be impressed upon the hearts of children.
And then thirdly, these commands are for all who will follow them. So firstly, let's have a look at this. The love of Christ on the hearts of the parents. Now if you type in books about parenting on Amazon, it will return hundreds of thousands of possible books that you could read to help you with parenting. There's a sentence in the bible in the old testament that says, of the making of many books, there is no end.
There are so many books being published in order to help parents. Here's a selection. Good insight a practical guide to becoming the parent you want to be. How to talk when kids won't listen dealing with whining, fighting, meltdowns and other challenges. It's a big book.
How to be a calm parent lose the guilt, control your anger, and tame the stress. You need that, 9 99, I think. The parenting map, step by step solutions to consciously create the ultimate parent child relationship. And then what that looks like by this book and you'll find out. Pocket commando dad.
This is my favorite. Pocket command aid that advice for new recruits to Farberhood. And it's worth the price of the book for the front cover because you've got his dad in combat gear with army paint across his cheeks. On the front lies holding this baby with no idea what he's supposed to be doing with it. The pocket commando dad advice for new recruits.
And of course, the reason that there are so many books like that is because there is much to learn about parenting. And the bible itself is a big book, and it is full of advice and full of wisdom for parents, full of instruction that they need But you notice in verse 4 to 6 of deuteronomy, if you have a look at with me, what is the most important of all? What do parents need to know for this great task before them more than anything else? What is it? The main 1, the greatest commandment.
Well, look what Jesus says. Look what it says in the old testament. Hero Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is 1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.
Now that's not all that there is to say about parenting, but it is the greatest command of all, isn't it? That the love of god and the love of Jesus Christ is to be impressed upon the hearts of the parents. That they would love him supremely above all else. Look what he says in verses 7 to 9, The point he's making is that this needs to be real. Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home. And when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up. In other words, he's saying that the love of Christ is to be real. It is to be part of the fabric of your life, not just something that you engage with for an hour once a week, but when you sit down in your house, and when you walk along the road that inside your house, on your doorposts, and all throughout your life, the love of Christ, rings out in your home and all that you are. 1 of the frustrating things about children getting older and this is We've got a 4 year old now.
1 of the frustrating things is that they start to spot the inconsistencies in your life. They start to realize that the things that you've told them to do, you sometimes don't do, and they get very wise to that. You know? So 1 example, not from my own life, of course, is driving. You know, when dad or mom could be mum or when dad runs a red light by accident, You know, the voice in the back might say, dad, you've just been through a red light.
And I said, well, I know. Yeah. Just only just but I know. When you told us you weren't supposed to do, you said you weren't supposed to do that. Well, that's true.
So why why did you do that? Well, because there are sometimes sun when it would be more dangerous not to go through 1 than to go through 1. You know, if I had to stop back quickly, it would have done damage to the car behind. Well, were you going too fast then dad if you weren't able to stop? And then eventually, once they bottomed out all of your arguments, you might say.
Look, there are certain occasions when you just need to do as I say and not do as I do. Yeah. Have you ever used that 1? Do as I say. And not do as I do.
In other words, kids, you're gonna have to accept a degree of inconsistency in your dad's life. He might tell you things that he wants you to do. That he may not do them himself. We can't have that with the love of Christ. Can we?
We don't want that. We don't want them to hear our say We get a church. God's important to us. We don't want them just to do as we say. We want them to see that it is what we do.
That we love Christ and that we believe they should love Christ too. It's to be in our homes, as we walk, as we sit down together. It's not saying that parents must be perfect, and I'm certainly not 1 and no parent ever is. They would see our inconsistencies. But what do parents need above all else?
They need to the to know the love of God in their lives. They need to remember that god so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him, should not perish but have eternal life. These parents need to know that this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us. And he sent his son to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins. It's what they all need, isn't it, to know that God has demonstrated his own love for us.
In that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us, we need them to know that the lord Jesus loves them. And has freed them from their sins by his blood. That is to be in their hearts. When the lord Jesus Christ hung on a cross at that first Easter dying for the sins of the world. He did not die just to put his love in our heads He did not die just to put it in our outward actions.
He died that it might live in our hearts, that the love of Christ might be real to us. And you see the trouble is if parents haven't got back within them, it won't come out of them. You might imagine a weary traveler going through the desert with nothing left in his water bottle. And as he goes through that dry and arid and dust the hot land. He meets another traveler who has no water in their water bottle.
They're exhausted. They're dehydrated. Cold up under a tree waiting to die. And as much as you would love to give him some of your water, if there's nothing in your own tank, you've got nothing to give. The love of Christ must be within the hearts of all of us, within the hearts of these parents.
That they have something to give to their children. So that's the first thing. Let the love of Christ dwell in your hearts. First of all, Secondly, let the love of Christ be impressed upon the hearts of your children. Have a look at verse 7 or sentence number 7.
In the deuteronomy reading. It says, impress them on your children, impress them on your children. That word actually means to make sharp, and it's a word used in the old testament about blacksmiths who would make arrows and swords. You are to make it sharp in the mouths and the lives of your children. That's what he says.
What does he mean? He says that you are to teach your children about the love of Christ and to give them reasons why they can trust it. Not just to tell them what you believe, but why. We don't just believe myth or superstition. Nothing to do with Christianity.
We believe in history. We believe in reality. That the lord Jesus Christ came and died and rose and was seen by hundreds of witnesses and preached in the world. Give them reach, sharpen the reason in them. Don't just tell them that we love Christ.
Let them know why and what he has done. Sharpen it in their hearts. Now, I think in our age, this sort of language is something that we're very nervous about, isn't it? That the parents would impress a way of thinking upon their children. It is much more common these days for parents to want to leave it down to their children to decide.
We're open minded, do you see? And we want our children to be free to make their own decisions. We don't want to put our prejudices on them, but neither do we want to impress anything. We want them to be free to make their own decisions. The question is, is it possible to do that?
Is it possible to leave someone so totally neutral? Tim Keller is an American pastor and writer. He says this. He says that modern parenting manuals often counsel that parents not try to instill their own values in children, but instead support them in forming their own. But the fact remains that everyone else in the world from advertisers to social media platforms to most of your child's school teachers will implicitly or overtly be trying to educate your children with its ideas such as live your own truth.
And then he concludes, if you don't teach your children well, somebody else will. It is not possible to bring them into a world where they receive no education. There is no such world where things are not impressed upon their hearts. The only question is what is being impressed upon their hearts and what is the quality of it? I was watching a YouTube podcast the other day, which was all about Gen Z.
Why are So many people in Gen Z anxious and depressed was the title. And the woman on the podcast was saying that we just need to remember that some of the very best minds in the world are paid big money to exploit the insecurities of teenagers all over the world. That through social media and TikTok, there are some of the best minds thinking how can we make money of the insecurities of these children. How can we teach them, night and day, that they are not what they ought to be, and that they need to change themselves? And it was frightening because she was saying that so many of these young people now no longer know the difference between who they are and the version of themselves that they constantly curate for other people to see.
They got no idea, which is real? Is it me? Or is it the 1 I have to produce for others to see? She was saying that 75 percent of teenagers before they upload any kind of video or photo, use this curating app called FaceTimeune, where they can adjust their bodies, they can adjust their image so that they can project something onto the world. And so we need to know that to bring a child into the world is to surround them in a story, to give them a mobile phone, is to bring them into education.
The question is not, do we impress our values upon our children, but which values are being impressed upon them? Now look what Moses says in verses 1 to 2. He says, these are the commands, decrees, and laws, the Lord, your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. There's a life to teach them. So that your children and their children after them may fear the lord your god.
And there's a world view into which that life fits. That's what he's saying. Teach them a life that flows from a story. Teach your children that they are not an accident, that they are not just a collection of atoms that has been spat out the end of a big bang. Teach them that they have been made by God and they have been created in his image and that they are precious in his sight.
But that like everybody else in the world, they have fallen into sin, and they are lost and they will grow up to reject their God. But teach them that Christ has come into the world and that he loves each and every 1 of them. And he went to the cross and he hung there and he died for their sins. Because he wants them to be forgiven and he wants them to know God and he wants them to go to heaven 1 day. Teach them that story.
Bring them into a worldview, impress it on them. Because look where it leads. Look where that world view leads. Have a look at verse 3. Here Israel and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey.
That milk and honey phrase really means teach them the story that is the best that life can offer them. You see, it's worth asking, isn't it? Where does the live your truth lead? Where does it lead children? Do we have a generation that are more stable and more secure and more emotionally robust and more confident in themselves because of your own truth.
Is that what that doctrine has produced? Or rather has it produced children who are so lost and so uncertain and so unsure of who they are that they're crying out for a story that makes sense. I think if we think carefully about it, that is what that has produced. But this story leads to the best that life can offer. It leads to a knowledge of God.
You see, you might read all this and ask who would ask such a commitment to love the lord, love of your heart, soul, mind, and strength is a big ask, isn't it? Who would ask such a thing? Only 1 who loves them, dearly, and who wants the very best for them. So the love of Christ is to be on the heart to the parents and to be impressed on their children. And thirdly and lastly, the love of Christ is for their children after them.
And you see how in this reading, it moves beyond the parents and the child, and Moses opens the door across all of time. Look at verse 2 so that your children and their children after them may fear the lord your god as long as you live by keeping his decrees and commands that I give you and so that you may enjoy long life. You see how he stretches across the generations? He says the God of your father said this to me, I am saying this to you, that you may say it to them, and that they may grow up and say it to their children, and that it may go on and on across the generations and throughout the world. It's worth us remembering that, isn't it?
That the decisions that we make now will affect the generations that follow. What are we gonna teach them? What are we gonna pray for? What mooring are we gonna give them in this world? Moses understands that here.
When I was talking with Ben Ben read about this passage, these words for today, he told me that it was a great joy for him or it would be a great joy for him. To have his parents joining him today and seeing him pray for his children. And it is a wonderful thing because both of his parents know and love the lord Jesus Christ. And they taught him to love the lord Jesus Christ. And with God's help, him and Kerry want to teach their children about the love of the lord Jesus Christ.
And on and on, we pray that it goes. That's the vision here. That's the scope. And that is what these children need. You see, if the lord is kind enough to grant Pearl and LSD their own children 1 day, Much will have changed by the time they grow up.
Gen Z will probably become Gen Z, a, b, or something. There'll be a new name for it. And the values will have changed and the ethical outlooks will have changed and what they're told to pursue will have changed, but the fundamental needs will be the same. That their children would have been made in the image of God, that they will live in a world of sin, which they themselves will take part in and they'll reject their creator and that the same savior will still be able to love them and reconcile them to God and bring them home. Everything else will have changed but those needs won't.
They will still need Christ above all else to be their savior. And so Moses is saying, I want this to just echo on through the generations. Tell them of Christ and of the love of God. But you can see throughout the bible that the scope of this message only gets bigger and bigger and bigger. It is not just for Christian families.
This message of Christ is to be given to the hearts of all who live in the world. His acts chapter 2, This is another new testament book and it follows the end of a sermon where Peter, 1 of the disciples has been preaching about Christ. And people say, what are we to do? How should we respond to the message of Jesus? And he says, repent and be baptized every 1 of you.
In the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the holy spirit. The promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, for all whom the lord our god will call. You see how it takes that deuteronomy language for you and your children and all who are far off and then it just expands it. It is not just for you and your children. Lots of people think Christianity is just something you're born into.
If your parents are into it, you'll be into it too. And that's how it passes on, only by being raised in Christian homes. But here we see that the message of Jesus Christ is to be to proclaim to all people. That's the size of this command. The message of Jesus is for all people who live on the face of the earth across all time and forever.
That's who he is for. And therefore, this promise of forgiveness and life in Christ is for all of us here. You see, it might be that you're visiting this morning and you're not used to hearing Christian truth or perhaps you heard it long ago and decided it's not for you. And you might think, look, I just can't be a Christian. I'm too scientifically minded these days.
I'm too into evidence. In fact, I can't do this faith stuff? Well, do you not think that there are thousands of scientific minds all over the world who see no contradiction between the love for Christ and their scientific passions. Or it might be that you're here and you say, I can't be a Christian because I'm too long in the tooth for that now. You know, I'm too well on in life.
My world view is formed. I'm too old to shift. Would you not think that there are thousands of people in life who've come to Christ later on, who have believed a certain thing for many, many years and have realized who Jesus is. And have changed their minds and trusted him as Lord. Or it might be that you're hearing you say, I can't be a Christian because I've done I've made too many mistakes I've done too many things wrong, and if you knew even the half of them, you knew that God could never save me.
Which, you know, the bible says that all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, that there is not 1 perfect person, that there is not 1 person good enough for God and that our sins are piled up to heaven, and the lord knows each and every 1 of them. I mean, this command to love him with all our hearts, soul, mind, and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves. You can put your hand up if you think you've obeyed it perfectly for all of your life. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But the promise of the gospel is that Jesus Christ knowing our every sin came into this world and went to a cross for us.
And he loves each and every 1 of you. And whatever your excuses are, None of them are good enough to keep you out the kingdom of God. That if you will sincerely change your mind about God, And if you will turn away from your sins and say I'm sorry lord for how I've treated you and I want Jesus to be my savior and my lord, he will receive you and adopt you and pour out his love upon you. You see the truth is no 1 is here this morning by accident. No 1 is hereby accident.
Everybody is here today for a reason. To hear this message about Christ, And if you're not a Christian, you don't follow Jesus, it might be that you're here this morning because Jesus wants to open the way to heaven for you. To make it possible for you to come to god. Jesus said, I am the way the truth and the life, and no 1 comes to the father except through me. There is nothing that we can do and there is no other way that we are gonna be able to get right with God.
But if we will say Jesus help me, Jesus save me. Jesus forgive me, then we will be born again into the kingdom of God. This promise, he says, is for parents and it is for children and it is for their children. But the love of Christ is so glorious. It needs to be impressed upon the hearts of all who live, that you can come.
And if you've changed your mind about god, he'll have you this morning. And he'll love you and he'll forgive you and he'll take you to be with him 1 day no matter what you've done. I've got these little booklets at the front There's 2 of them. There's a booklet called cross over to life which explains the message of Jesus and would help you. Right at the end if you wanted to, to make that decision and to pray.
Lord Jesus, I want to be forgiven. Or there's a little copy of Mark's gospel. That's where we've been reading from this morning. It will only take you 40 minutes to read. If you read it slowly and seriously, it will change it will change your life.
So you take it home and you read, we'd love to give you that gift. But why don't we pray as we close? Let's pray together. Father, I do pray for Ehiyani, Anakui, and for Ben and for Kerry, and for Craig and for Laura, and for James and for Beth, and I pray that the love of Jesus Christ would be impressed upon their hearts forever, that they would never lose the love for the savior. And we pray as we've already prayed that as they raise these precious children, that you would give them the help that they need to impress the love of Christ upon the hearts of their children, that they might grow up and not be ashamed to follow Jesus in their generation.
And we pray lord that if it's your will to give their children children, that you would help them to impress the love of Christ upon those hearts too, and we pray that on and on it would go. And yet we thank you lord that the love of Jesus displayed at the cross dying for our sins and rising again is a message for every single 1 of us in this room this morning. And we pray that you would help us all to understand it and to follow Jesus as our king in his name. Our men