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Behold, Children Are a Gift of the LORD the Fruit of the Womb a Reward - Psalm 127:3

Behold, Children Are a Gift of the LORD; the Fruit of the Womb a Reward (Psalm 127:3)

“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward,” writes Solomon in Psalm 127:3. My desire with this sermon is for people to view children as they’re described in the Bible, which is to say view children as God views them.

“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward,” (Psalm 127:3). Children and barrenness are sensitive issues.

Lessons for Children Are a Gift of the LORD; the Fruit of the Womb a Reward

  • Lesson 1: God ________________ ____________ to, “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28, 2:18; Pro 14:28).
  • Lesson 2: Children are:
    • (Part I) A ________, ____________, and ________________ (Psa 127:3-5, 128:1-4; Deut 7:13, 28:4).
    • (Part II) __________ ____________ of maturity (Eph 6:4; 1 Tim 2:15).
  • Lesson 3: Barrenness: • (Part I) Is __ __________ ____ Scripture (Gen 11:30, 25:21, 29:31; Judg 13:2; 1 Sam 1:5; Luke 1:7 • (Part II) Shouldn’t ____ ____________.
  • Lesson 4: __________ ________ God’s Word says about children (Pro 14:4).

Family Worship Guide for Children Are a Gift of the LORD; the Fruit of the Womb a Reward

Memory Verses: Psalm 127:3 1.

  • Day 1—Read Genesis 1:28 and discuss: Why did God give this command? What benefits are there associated with this command being obeyed/fulfilled? What problems are associated with it being disobeyed? Are we seeing some of those problems today?
  • Day 2—Read Psalms 127 and 128 and discuss: How are children described? How should parents view their children? How should Christians respond when God provides a couple with a child?
  • Day 3—Read Ephesians 6:4 and 1 Timothy 2:15 and discuss: How do children help parents mature spiritually? What does it mean that women “will be saved in childbearing”?
  • Day 4—Read some of the accounts of barren women (Gen 11:30, 25:21, 29:31; Judg 13:2; 1 Sam 1:15, Luke 1:7) and discuss: What are some of the similarities in these accounts? What can we learn from them? How should Christians view barrenness? Why shouldn’t barrenness be chosen?
  • Day 5—Read Pro 14:4 and discuss: What application does this verse have to families? Since families can’t do everything they might want, discuss those activities that are most important and least important to your family.

Sermon Notes for Lessons for Children Are a Gift of the LORD; the Fruit of the Womb a Reward

I probably don’t have to tell you children are a very sensitive issue in the church for a number of reasons:

  1. First, you have some people who haven’t been able to have any children, and they feel judged or misunderstood by others.
  2. Second, some people have a lot of children and they feel…judged or misunderstood by others.
  3. Finally, you have some people who only have a few children and they feel…judged or misunderstood by others.

As we begin let me tell you my desires for this message…

First, I want to share what God’s Word says about children…

If you have no children, 15 children, or any number in between, by the end of this message I hope you’ll see children as they’re described in God’s Word. And this applies to all of us:

  • Obviously, it applies to people who have children
  • It also applies to people who are younger and will children in the future
  • It applies to people who are older who might not be able to have children anymore, but are in the position to teach younger people about children.

My second desire is to hopefully prevent you from having one of the most common regrets as a pastor that I have heard express

“I wish we would’ve had more children.”

I’ll feel blessed if any of you are prevented from saying as a result of this message!

By knowing what God’s Word says about children you can take that into consideration when making decisions, and hopefully avoid any painful regrets in the future.

Now let’s look at the second command God gave man. The first command was not to eat from the tree of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The second command is in Genesis 1:28

Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

And this brings us to Lesson 1 on your inserts…

Lesson 1: God commands people to, “Be fruitful and multiply.”

My desire isn’t to condemn anyone…

  • I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad.
  • I don’t have an ax to grind.

But I do have a responsibility to tell you what God’s Word says, and God clearly commanded people to “Be fruitful and multiply.”

I think some people want to ignore this command, or alter it in some way so it doesn’t say what it says, but you can read it a thousand times and it still says the same thing clearly.

In Genesis 2:18 God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

There are a few reasons it’s not good for man to be alone, and one of those reasons is man can’t fulfill God’s command to be fruitful and multiply.

Something interesting about this second command is God gave it to both Adam and Eve, as opposed to the first command, which He gave only to Adam. Then Adam had to take that command and pass it along to Eve, and Eve had to choose to obey her husband. It helped establish Adam’s headship in the marriage relationship.

But with the second command it says, “God said to them.”

God wanted both man and woman to hear this command from Him. The obvious question is: “Why did God give the first command to Adam, but the second command to Adam and Eve? Why didn’t God give both commands to Adam, or why didn’t He give both commands to both of them?”

We’re not told specifically – so I admit I’m being a little speculative – but my suspicion is b/c of Eve’s greater involvement in obeying this command:

  • The children that are going to be ruling over the earth and subduing it and going to grow in her womb.
  • She’s the one who’s going to experience the pain of childbirth.

One argument I’ve heard from people regarding this command is, “The earth is filled and subdued now, so there’s no reason for people to feel like this is a continuing command.”

The problem w/ this argument is there’s nothing in Scripture to support it!

  • There’s nothing in Scripture to support that this command would ever cease…
  • There’s nothing in the NT to make believers think they shouldn’t have children.

We’ve all heard about overpopulation, so I’ll briefly address that…

Has anyone driven through Montana? North Dakota? Most of Nevada? If you’ve ever driven through Canada you can drive hours and hours and hours of land w/o seeing any houses, so there are definitely plenty of un-subdued areas.

It amazes me that anyone mentions overpopulation considering the real threat is low birthrates. Please listen to this quote from the Washington Times…this is a secular, non-Christian organization…no Christian bias…

The title is, “U.S. Fertility Plummets to record low.”

America’s total fertility rate fell to just 1.86 births per woman, [which] puts the U.S. on the same course with many Western European nations and Japan, where the birth rate has fallen below the ‘replacement rate,’ [which is] usually around 2.1 births per woman, [and which] is needed to keep a country’s population from falling.”

With 1.86 births per woman this puts the US behind countries like:

  • The United Kingdom 1.9
  • Sweden 1.91
  • Australia 1.92
  • France 2.01

The sad part is since the United States is supposed to be the world’s leading Christian nation:

  • You’d expect us to be producing the most children that can grow up and serve the Lord…
  • You’d expect us to be the most obedient to God’s second command.

Proverbs 14:28 In a multitude of people is a king’s honor, But IN THE LACK OF PEOPLE IS THE DOWNFALL OF A PRINCE.

This verse is describing the problem it is for a nation to survive with a declining birth rate.

CNBC – another secular, non-Christian organization – posted an article titled, “We need more babies! Seriously, this is a problem.”

Here’s a quote from the article…

“We just learned that the US birthrate fell for the 6th straight year in 2013 to an all-time low. Pardon me for sounding a bit alarmist, but this is really bad news for our economy, our society, and all of civilization.”

God’s commands are always for our benefit. When we as a society disobey God’s commands there are consequences, and that article discussed a number of those consequences. The articled discussed why the low birth rates are bad for each of these areas.

Now even though Americans aren’t having children, any idea who IS having children?

Muslims!

Please listen to this…

  • As of 2011 it’s predicted the world’s Muslim population will grow twice as fast as the rest of the world over the next 20 yrs.
  • An article on CNN from January 2011 said, “The [growth] will primarily [take place] because of their relatively high birth rate…Conversion [to Islam] will play relatively little part in the increase. High birth rates were cited as the reason for [Islam’s] growth.”
  • According to the World Christian Database in 2007:
    • Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, w/ a growth rate of 1.84%.
    • Christianity isn’t 2nd…or 3rd…or 4th…or 5th. Christianity is 6th w/ a growth rate of 1.32% behind religions like Hinduism, making it almost one-third slower than Islam.

It’s obvious the Muslims can see the benefit of obeying God’s command to, “Be fruitful and multiply.” My hope is Christians will see that benefit too!

Sadly, as Muslims’ birth rates climb, what impression does it give?

It gives the impression they value children more than Christians.

Let me ask you to think about this spiritually:

  • Who would the devil want having children? Muslims, non-Christians, anyone hostile to Christianity.
  • Who would the devil NOT want having children? Christians.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss said: “Anything that hinders or discourages women from fulfilling their God-given calling to be bearers and nurturers of life furthers Satan’s schemes and aids his efforts. One of the purposes of marriage is to produce ‘godly offspring.’ Childbearing is a basic, God-given role for women. Children are to be received as a blessing from God.”

Now even though I shared those statistics w/ you about birthrates, here’s the truth…

  • I don’t want anyone wanting to have children, b/c of the statistics I shared….
  • I don’t want anyone wanting to have children, b/c a low birthrate is bad for the economy…
  • I don’t want anyone wanting to have children, so we can pull ahead of Muslims…

I want people to want to have children b/c of what the Bible says about children. So let’s discuss what God says about children…

Lesson 2: children are (part 1) a gift, reward, and blessing.

Whenever the Bible discusses children they’re always presented very positively…

Please turn to Psalm 127:3

Psalms 127:3 Behold, children are a heritage (some translations say, “inheritance” or “gift”) from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.

This is what God’s Word says about children, so if we want to be biblical in our understanding of children, this is how we need to view children.

And we want to remember what God’s Word says about children at two specific times:

  1. First, when the world is striving to make us think they’re more of a curse than blessing.
  2. Second, when children themselves almost seem like they’re striving to make us see them as something other than a blessing:
    1. Having children is hard work.
    1. They can be the cause of some of our greatest joy on this side of heaven…and some of our greatest hurt.

The next verse says…

Psalms 127:4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

Before I tell you what this verse is saying, let me be clear about what it’s not saying: it is not putting down, or condemning or criticizing people w/ fewer children or no children.

But w/ that said the verse is clearly associating children w/ blessing. You should feel more blessed by each child God gives you.

Because the verse doesn’t say how many children make a full quiver, I’m not going to say how many children make a full quiver. But I am going to ask you this, and then I’m going to move on…

When people go to battle, how many arrows do they want to take w/ them? How many people say, “No, no, don’t give me anymore arrows. I don’t want to have TOO many of them!”

Please look at the next psalm, Psalms 128

If your Bibles have a title for this psalm, it probably says something like, “Blessings for Those Who Fear the LORD.” This psalm describes some of the blessings for those who fear the Lord, and the main blessing in the psalm is children…

Psalms 128:1 Blessed is every one who fears the Lord,
Who walks in His ways…

Now it goes on to discuss those blessings. Please skip to verse 3…

3 Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine (this means your wife will produce children like a vine produces fruit)
In the very heart of your house,
Your children like olive plants
All around your table.

The idea is children will shoot up around your table the way olive shoots shoot up around an olive plant…

4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed (or this is how the man will be blessed…) Who fears the Lord.

So the idea is the man who fears the Lord will be blessed w/ children. As a note, I look at this more like the generalities of Proverbs than being an absolute.

In Scripture it was always a sign of blessing when God multiplied someone’s children. Children and descendants were one of the most common blessings God offered to His people…

  • Deut 7 records the blessings for obedience under the Old Covenant, and verse 13 says: He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb.
  • The blessings for obedience under the Old Covenant are again repeated in Deut 28,and in verse 4 it says, “Blessed shall be the fruit of your body.”

The idea is, children were one of the primary ways for God to bless His people’s obedience.

One of the other ways children can be a blessing is by helping in our sanctification, and this brings us to the next part of Lesson 2…

Lesson 2: children are (part 2) great causes of maturity.

One time I had a mother tell me how surprised she was when the hospital let her drive away w/ their first child. She said it’s such a huge responsibility she couldn’t believe they just let her leave like that expecting you to be able to care for this human life. The more I thought about what she said, the truer it seemed!

The fact is there’s nothing else in life that teaches you responsibility, sacrifice, and maturity like having children:

  • If you’re going to school, you take classes, but you get breaks between classes, during summer, weekends, holidays. When you finish your schoolwork you relax.
  • If you have a job, you clock in and clock out. Even if you work a lot of overtime, you’re still not working around the clock…and maybe best of all at least you’re getting paid J.
  • Even when you get married:
    • While there’s sacrifice involved…
    • While marriage really helps our sanctification…
    • I would say even marriage pales in comparison to the maturity caused by having children:
      • Your spouse doesn’t depend on you around the clock…
      • Your spouse isn’t completely helpless w/o you…some of the wives just said, “Uh, I think my husband would be completely helpless w/o me” ?.

When you have children you are introducing something into your life that has very little break and demands a commitment that’s unparalleled in the rest of life:

  • There’s nothing in life that purges selfishness like having children.
  • You become responsible w/ completely taking care of another human being that can do almost nothing for itself.
  • Once you have children, your life that used to revolve around you and your spouse and what you two wanted, now revolves around your child.
  • Unless you are an unbelievably selfish person – you have no choice except to:
    • Make sacrifices…
    • Give of yourself…
    • Basically you have no choice except to grow up!

And all of this is very, very good. It’s part of God’s plan for children to:

  • Help us mature…
  • Become more giving…
  • Become less selfish.

Please listen to this…

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

This verse is commanding fathers not to anger or exasperate our children:

  • What that’s really telling fathers is to be patient and gentle.
  • Learning to be patient and gentle is very sanctifying.

For most of us – myself included – becoming a father really means learning to be someone we might not be naturally.

For wives…

1 Timothy 2:15 Will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

We know from the rest of Scripture that this doesn’t mean women are saved by having children, but here’s what it does mean…

First, it means raising children is the primary sphere of ministry in which women serve the Lord and works out their salvation. While we’re not saved by works, works are evidence of being saved, and childbearing is where the works – or fruit – of a woman’s salvation will be most commonly shown and/or exercised. In other words, the fruit that demonstrates a woman is saved is produced while she’s raising children.

Second, it means women will be made holy or sanctified through having children.

  • If you’re a mother, are there many more sanctifying influences on you than your children?
  • Are there many things that teach you to be patient, gentle, longsuffering, sacrificial – and thankful – more than having children?
  • One of the things Katie pointed out to me is:
    • Are there any other things in your life that cause you to cling to the Lord and trust Him more than having children?
    • Is there anything in life that’s scarier and causes you to depend on the Lord more than having children?

Even the secular world recognizes that children are great causes of maturity…

Earlier I mentioned the CNBC article, We need more babies! Seriously, this is a problem.”

Interestingly, the article also said one of the specific problems associated w/ not having children is people don’t mature…

“There’s a societal price we’re paying in this country for having fewer children later in life. Just about every parent I know will tell you that the moment their first child was born was the moment they truly accepted the responsibility of their own adulthood to the fullest…When we start seeing more 25-to-45-year-olds who clearly haven’t grown up yet [because they’ve delayed having children] I get concerned. Our growth as a society is stunted when fewer children are around to induce maturity and better behavior. Fewer children means more aimless and purposeless young adults.”

So even the secular world recognizes how important it is to have children, and how those children help us mature.

Now there’s obviously a group of people that are unable to obey God’s command in Genesis 1:28. These are people struggling w/ barrenness…and this brings us to Lesson 3…

Lesson 3: barrenness (part 1) is a theme in Scripture.

Barrenness is a common theme in Scripture. Six – and possibly seven women – experienced barrenness. They are:

  1. Sarah who was barren until she was 90: Genesis 11:30 But Sarai was barren; she had no child.
  2. Rebekah – Genesis 25:21 [Rebekah] was barren.
  3. Genesis 29:31 Rachel was barren.
  4. Samson’s mother – we’re never told her name: Judges 13:2 Manoah (this is Samson’s father); his wife was barren and had no children.
  5. 1 Samuel 1:5 The Lord had closed [Hannah’s] womb.
  6. John the Baptist’s mother Elizabeth: Luke 1:7 They had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.
  7. Michal might be another barren woman, but I tend to think David simply stopped having relations w/ her.

Notice this is practically a list of the godliest women in Scripture. If you’re a woman and you struggle w/ barrenness, I hope you can be encouraged that many of the godliest women in Scripture were barren!

This is important to keep in mind, b/c Christian women who see God as the author of life can be understandably hurt when they can’t have children. They say…

  • Why me?
  • Did I do something wrong?
  • Why wouldn’t God want me to have children?
  • Why does God let other women have children, but not me?

My hope is:

  • If any women hear are struggling to have children, they can keep in mind that it has nothing to do w/ their actions.
  • If you know women struggling to have children, you can let them know it doesn’t have to do w/ their actions.

Also, when you think about these women, you notice their barrenness was temporary. As much as it’s a theme for women to suffer w/ barrenness, it’s equally a theme for God to graciously remove that barrenness and open the womb.

And typically God removed that barrenness upon the husband’s prayer request. While I definitely wouldn’t guarantee that God is going to open the womb of a wife when a husband prays, I will say considering the number of times that happened in Scripture, when a wife is barren the husband should be praying!

Share story about praying w/ man at Christian Heritage who came to my church a year later to introduce me to the child he and his wife had.

And just as a note, before we move on from this lesson…

Considering some women struggle w/ barrenness, if you’ve been able to have children, be thankful!

We naturally take things for granted, so sometimes we have to be reminded of God’s grace in our lives. Since barrenness is a painful struggle for some, if you’ve been able to have children, don’t take that for granted! Be thankful! You have a gift from the Lord that many people would give almost anything to have!

And this leads us to Lesson 3, Part II…

Lesson 3: barrenness (part 2) shouldn’t be chosen.

By “choosing barrenness,” I mean taking permanent steps to no longer have children.

One reason I’m saying this is simple…

You might change your mind later. Believe me…I know!!! We had a reversal, and by God’s grace it was successful.

The other – more important reason – I’m saying this is if we’re honest w/ Scripture I don’t see how barrenness can be supported!

How is barrenness always presented in Scripture?

It’s always presented very negatively:

  • It’s one of the worst and most painful situations for people to have to endure.
  • Along w/ debt, barrenness is the other thing presented very negatively in Scripture that Christians willingly embrace.
    • It’s very sad when Christians will deliberately introduce into their lives something the Bible describes as being terrible for people to have to endure.
    • It’s very sad when Christians will deliberately introduce into their lives something the Bible presents as a curse!
    • It’s very sad when Christians will put themselves in a situation the people in Scripture prayed fervently to avoid!

Consider this:

  • Since it’s such a manifestation of God’s grace to have children…
  • Since Scripture presents children so positively: as a gift, reward, and blessing…
  • Since Scripture presents barrenness so negatively: as a curse…

How could any Christian honestly think God would have them choose barrenness?

Let me conclude w/ one more important point…

Lesson 4: apply what God’s Word says about children.

Whenever we come to God’s Word we have two choices:

  • We can let God’s Word shape our beliefs.
  • Or we can let our beliefs shape God’s Word…and usually that means shaping God’s Word to agree w/ what we’ve learned from the world.

The world definitely doesn’t describe children the way we’re discussing:

  • The world describes children as a burden, nuisance, annoyance, and the list goes on.
  • But this is what we should expect: if the Bible speaks well of something, we should expect the world to present it poorly.

So it’s easy to walk away from a message like this saying, “Oh yes, children are a blessing.”

But the question is, “What does it look like practically to see children as a blessing?”

First, in your church you should be happy about having children around. It’s very unfortunate that many churches do whatever they can to…

  • Split up families
  • Get children away from adults

I love pastoring a church that loves children and loves having them around. It saddens me when Christians and churches say, “Oh yeah, we think children are a blessing. But let’s make sure we can’t really hear them or see them.”

It’s also unfortunate when I meet women who tell me they found out they were pregnant and the response from their brothers and sisters in Christ was:

  • An eyeroll
  • A joke

The proper response when a couple shares that they’re expecting is:

  • Praise God!
  • This is so wonderful!
  • The Lord is blessing you!

I’ll be the first to say I know children often make environments louder, messier, and more difficult, but that shouldn’t change the way we see them.

Proverbs 14:4 Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.

In other words: “Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.

The idea is if you don’t have any oxen in the barn, you won’t have any messes to clean up…BUT you also won’t have any harvest.

That’s kind of the same w/ children: no children means no messes, but it also means no spiritual harvest.

We want to raise up the next generation of followers of Christ, and that means Christian families having children.

So in conclusion, my hope is we can demonstrate:

  • Through our lives…
  • Through the way we treat children…
  • Through the way we treat young mothers…
  • Through the way we respond to pregnancies…

That we view children as God views them, which is to say as a gift, reward and blessing.

Finally, I’d like to invite you to give me the privilege of praying w/ you if any of these 3 situations describe you:

  1. You’re at all on the fence about whether to have more children, please give me the privilege of speaking w/ you and praying w/ you for wisdom.
    1. Can you think of a bigger decision to make?
    1. Can you think of a bigger decision to pray about w/ me or one of your elders?
  2. You’re struggling w/ being able to see children as the blessing they’re described as in God’s Word. There are plenty of struggles associated w/ parenting. Please allow me to pray w/ you!
  3. You’re struggling w/ being able to have children. If so, please allow me to pray w/ you!

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