I am overwhelmed by the loving spirit of my church family and by your generous gifts to Robbie and me last Sunday morning as a part of your Pastor Appreciation. Thank you for all that you constantly do to support and share in what God is doing among us. Your appreciation of my ministry with you is consistently shown by your prayers, your attendance, and by your joy in fellowship with one another. The scripture says that you will know the people of God by their love for one another, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). The people of Grace are some of the most loving and caring people I have ever known. It is a joy and honor to be your pastor.
We gather in worship today to rejoice in the strength of our families and also to honor our children. The children who will participate in the Parent/Child Dedication portion of our service represent the blessing of God which is ours through all of our children and youth. God has poured out his grace on us through increasing the number of our young ones who are now a part of our church. If you want to see what a good church is, look for the children who attend it. Children present at church are the measuring tool by which you can tell how close a church is to the heart of God. Listen to what the Bible says about children:
- Children are a Gift from the Lord, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3)
- Children are Special in God’s kingdom, “…Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these…whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all” (Mark 10:14-14).
- Jesus was Dedicated to God by His Parents, “…they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord” (Luke 2:22).
- Parents are to Lead their Children to Jesus, “…bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
I was led to faith in Christ by my parents. They took me to church every Sunday, not just occasionally. My mother was my Sunday School teacher when I was a primary. My dad sat beside me every Sunday morning in worship. I learned how to worship by watching him. Mom and dad made sure my offering was in my pocket so that when the offering plate came by, I had something to put into it. When I prayed the sinner’s prayer and asked Jesus to come into my heart, my mother knelt beside me and helped me say the right words. Of all the teachers, preachers, colleagues, and friends that have influenced my ministry over the years, my parents stand out far beyond anyone else. I still believe God’s word and preach like they lived it in front of me and taught me to love it. I believe every word of it like they did. When I stand before you today to preach God’s word like I do every Sunday morning, I do so in honor of my parents and in the fear (reverence) of the Lord. It is a privilege and joy to honor our parents, grandparents, and children today as we worship.