A break in the dam
During the course of this last year a little toddler mistakenly crawled out the back door of her home. At the outset, best sales this did not seem so alarming, except for the weather conditions she shuffled herself into. The temperature was well below freezing. Without her mother’s awareness, the little girl made her way into the back yard where she froze in her tracks. When this tragic situation was discovered, paramedics were immediately called. Hour after hour they tried to revive her, seemingly without hope or result. Then all of a sudden, her heart began to beat, a pulse was felt, and life returned to her body. Through the grace of God she survived an impending death. For the mother the memory of this potentially tragic mishap will last for an eternity. But the outcome was wonderful; her daughter’s spirit was brought to life.
I believe this toddler’s ordeal truly represents the spiritual decision a parent or child makes when coming to Christ. Without Christ, the spirit is frozen to death. We are all lifeless, without the pulse of God’s Spirit (Romans 6:23). But with faith in Christ, the spiritual heart miraculously beats and the pulse begins to thump (John 10:10b, John 1:4).
The most astonishing aspect of receiving Christ is the immediate entrance of the Holy Spirit (John 7:38-39). This entry is analogous to the story of this little girl frozen in the snow. She was virtually dead, yet by the grace of God, she came to life in a miraculous way (John 11:25, 43-45).
Does this mean you or your children will receive the Holy Spirit only in a spectacular way like this little girl or many of the early Christians in the book of Acts? (Acts2:2-4)? No, because every child that God makes is created uniquely with different personalities, gifts, and life responses (Psalm 139:13-16, I Cor. 12:5-7). Therefore the responses to God’s Spirit will likewise be different. Not all the disciples for example, responded to the gift of salvation in the same way. Paul’s response was dramatic, but Andrew, Phillip, and many of other disciples were not (Acts 9:17-21, Matthew 4:18-20 ). Also, apart from all the varied earthly responses, the Spirit consistently enters equally each new believer’s life. There is no less Spirit, filling, or life given to any parent or child that is more or greater than another (I Cor. 12:13-14). But regardless of the earthly response, a commitment to Christ and the entry of the Holy Spirit from heaven’s perspective is a spectacular event. According to the Scripture, angelic rejoicing accompanies every new decision made for Christ. Perhaps it is because angels can see from heaven what it means to be in God’s kingdom and have the permanent presence of the Holy Spirit. So from heaven’s perspective, salvation is like the little girl’s miraculous resuscitation in our story; it is spectacular (Luke 15:7,10).
In this teachable moment create a structure in the likeness of a dam with your children. This can be accomplished in the family bathtub, or better yet, build a mud dam (weather permitting) outside in the yard. Throw in a few ice cubes to represent the idea of frozen water in winter. Picture for your children the lush foliage (trees, flowers, plants) that lies below the dam on its banks.
Explain that if the dam is not broken, the water cannot be released. Without water everything below will die. An unbroken dam will remain frozen forever, and without its release the banks below will perish. As you draw a comparison for your children, explain that the broken dam is when they decided to receive Christ into their lives. The rush of water is the ministry of the Spirit. The awaiting banks below are their whole life.
When you have finished sharing this teachable moment, take this analogy one point further. Rebuild your dam for each member of the family, so that everyone has the opportunity to break the dam in his or her own way. For one member a few punctures may be the approach to release the water. The flow of water graduates into a larger flow as time passes. For another a smash to the dam’s center releases all the water at once. This kind of a release is dramatic; it can be immediately seen by all. As you explain this part of the lesson, the key is the flow of Spirit which is represented by the flow of water. For some like Andrew, Phillip, and many of the other disciples the flow of the Spirit seemed to be gradual, whereas with Paul it was quite demonstrative when he came to know the Lord. The flow varies from believer to believer; the key is to break the dam and let the Spirit flow according to His will in each person’s life.
Word of God
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
John 10:10b I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
John 1:4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
John 7:38-39 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ ” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who ere to receive.”
John 11: 25, 43-45 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 43 When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” 44 The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” 45 Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him.
Acts 2: 2-4 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
Psalm 139: 13-16 13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written all the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them
I Cor. 12: 5-7 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each ation of the Spirit for the common good.
Acts 9: 17-21 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; 20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 All those hearing him continued to be amazed.
Matthew 4:18 -20 18 Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
I Cor. 12:13-14 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit
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Luke 15: 7, 10 7 “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. 10 “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”