[Note: Since this section of Ephesians is directed primarily at children, I have taught it in the past toward only the children. You can see from the notes in brackets below what I do.]
[Reserve front rows for all youth 18 years of age and younger.]
[Have them sit in these rows, and tell them that the sermon today is directed completely at them.]
[Have Ephesians 6:1-3 up on screen, have one of the children stand and read it.]
Now it says children, but just so you teens know, the word here does not mean little children. The Greek language has a word for that, and it is paidia. The word here is not paidia, but rather tekna. This word means descendants. So tekna technically refers to every person in here. So adults, while I didn’t have you come to the front, these verses refer to you as well to a certain extent. Although you are grown and have left your parents, you still need to do what these verses say.
But today, I am going to direct what I say mainly to those who are 18 and under because it during this age that we learn to do what these verses say.
[Have a target and something to throw at it that will “stick.” Hide the target.]
Give one of the children the Velcro balls or suction cup arrows and tell them to throw them at the target.
The Orange and black target on the wall.
“But it’s not there.”
Well, try to hit it anyway. … [When they finally throw, say, “Oh, too bad, you missed.”]
[Let someone else try.]
Why did you have trouble hitting the target?
“Because it wasn’t there.”
That’s right. If there is no target, you miss it every time, right? You tried to hit a target that wasn’t there, right? And so you missed every time.
Let me show you an example of somebody who doesn’t have a target to aim at. And because they don’t have a target to aim at, they end up not doing anything.
Silly Songs with Larry Video: “We are the Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything.”
So these pirates didn’t have any goals and didn’t have any plans and didn’t have any targets to aim at, and so what happened? They never did anything. They missed every time.
To hit the target, you need to know what the target is, and where it is, right?
How many of you have a target in life? How many of you have goals in life? Something you are aiming for? Something you want to achieve? Something you want to accomplish?
What are some of your goals?
Good. But I noticed something as you were giving your answers. Nobody said that they wanted to have a terrible life. Any of you want to have a really bad life? No? Why not?
Ok. Well, I also noticed that nobody wanted to have a short life. Nobody said that they wanted to die young. Why not?
Good. We all want to have a good life and we all want to live a long time, right? Those are two of the goals we all have in life. Those are two of the targets that we are all aiming for.
And look at these verses up on the screen. What does verse 3 say?
That’s right. And what does that mean? What does it mean when it says, “that it may go well with you”?
Does it mean that you will have a lot of money, and will have a lot of toys, and a lot of friends, and that you will never get hurt or sick?
No, it doesn’t mean this. What does it mean?
Yes, this phrase is used many times in Scripture, and it means basically that you will have a good life. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be rich, or that you will always be healthy. But in general, you will have good life.
And look at the second target in verse 3. What is it?
That’s right. It says that “you may live long on the earth.” What does this mean?
Yes. That you will live a long time. You will have a long life.
So those two things are the target that you should be aiming at. A good life and a long life. All of you want that, right? All of you want to hit a bulls-eye on this target right?
Well, now that we know what our target is, let’s put it out, and give you another chance to hit it.
[Put felt target out, and three lines from which they can throw at the target. Stand them at the furthest line away, about 30 feet, and have them try to hit the target.]
So, now that we have a target, we know what we are aiming for. But it’s still kind of hard to hit it, right? Why is that?
What if I told you there was something you could do which would allow you to move closer to the target? Would that allow you to hit the target easier?
Well, let’s look at Ephesians to see if it helps us at all. Verse 1 shows what we need to do in order to have a good life and a long life.
[Have somebody read verse 1.]
But look now at Ephesians 6:1-2 They tell us how to hit the target.
What does Ephesians 6:1 say we need to do first? … That’s right! Obey your parents.
[Turn over second line, about 15 feet from target.]
What does it mean to obey your parents?
That’s right. To do what they tell you to do.
What kind of things do your parents tell you to do?
When they tell you to clean your room, you need to clean your room. When they tell you to help clean up after dinner, you need to help them clean up after dinner. If your parents tell you not to watch a certain movie, you need to not watch it.
I know a girl who was a senior in High School this year, and was one of the best players on the Varsity Volleyball team. This was not here in this town, so I doubt any of you know her.
But she knew that it was wrong to get involved in underage drinking. But one night, on the way to a volleyball game, one of the other players brought out a flask of whiskey and started passing it around. This girl that I know took one small drink—just because everybody else was doing it.
And guess what? The coach found out about it, and this girl not only got kicked off the volleyball team, but also was suspended from school for what could be the rest of the year. Her senior year in high school was ruined.
Now, I think she got lucky. What if she had been at a party, and had gotten drunk, and then tried to drive home, and had ended up getting in a car accident and dying? Or – even worse – what if she had accidentally hit someone and killed them? She is 18, so she would have been sent to prison for involuntary manslaughter.
Her whole life would have been ruined, not just her senior year. Or she could have lost her life – not just her position on the volleyball team.
Do you see how important it is to obey your parents?
Some of you youth are thinking. Oh come on – I’m not going to lose my life if I don’t clean my room. No, you’re right. You probably won’t. But you see, when your parents ask you to clean your room, it is a way of training you to be neat and clean and orderly.
You see, the best jobs in this country are held by people who are neat, clean and orderly. Most of the people who are messy and disorganized never get anywhere in life.
So by obeying your parents, you are learning the lessons that life will go well for you and so that you may live long on the earth.
[Let a few throw from the middle line.]
Is that easier? Yes, it was, wasn’t it? So by obeying your parents, it becomes easier to hit the target. It becomes easier to have a good life and a long life.
But guess what? There’s more to hitting the target of a good life and long life than just obeying. Sometimes we obey and don’t really want to, right? What does verse 2 say?
That’s right. Honor your Parents.
[Turn over closest line. About 5 feet away.]
I know some kids who obey their parents, but only do it grudgingly. Or who only do it because they know that if they don’t, they will get punished.
You know what? For the longest time, I was one of these kinds of kids. I used to think when I was younger that my mother only had children because she wanted slaves. Seriously. That is what I thought.
But my mom had a way of countering this…all you parents listen up. My mom knew that it wasn’t good enough for us just to obey her. We also wanted us to respect her. For her, this meant doing our chores cheerfully. So if we didn’t do our chores cheerfully, or if we did our chores poorly, she would give us another job, and another job, and another job, until we did a good job, and did it cheerfully.
But honoring your parents is more than just obeying them cheerfully and doing a good job at your chores. It also means not talking back to your parents, and not talking negatively about them to your friends.
Some of you probably can’t wait to get out of the house and on your own. I saw a billboard sign a while back that said this:
“Teenagers! – are you sick of putting up with your foolish parents? Act now! Move out! Get married! Buy a house! Get a job! Act now while you still know everything.”
The fact of the matter is, teenagers, your parents are wiser and smarter than you will ever know.
Mark Twain once said, “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have [him] around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much [he] had learned in seven years.”
I have found this to be true for myself as well. Almost weekly, I call my parents for advice. When I was in high school, I thought I knew it all. But now, I know that I don’t, and that my parents know a whole lot more than I do.
You will realize this later, but for now, you just need to obey and respect them. Why? Well, the Verse says, “for this is right.” In other words, this is what God wants you to do. But also, because your parents only want what is best for you and what will help you succeed in life.
Your parents give so much to you and do so much for you that you will never understand how much it is. Your parents know what is best for you and that is why you should obey and honor them. Not only this, but as long as you live with them, they are providing for you. They provide for your food, your transportation, your room, your clothes, your recreation. If they didn’t give all of this to you, where would you get it? Who would feed you? Who would cook your meals? Who would wash your clothes? Who would let you borrow their car?
A mother once gave me a paper last year that showed how much money it costs to raise a child to the age of 18. Do you kids want to know how much money your parents poor into you?
The paper said that each one of you costs your parents about $160,000. Yet they give all that up for you. So you had better obey and respect them. The least you can do is honor them in return. This again, will help you hit the target of having a good life and a long life.
In a Bill Cosby show, one of his kids was talking back to him, and Bill Cosby looked at his kid and said, “You better be careful. I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.”
Obviously, none of your parents want to kill you, but the truth of the matter here is that God promises long life to those who obey and honor their parents.
Do you want to have a long life or don’t you? Do you want to have a good life, or don’t you?
If you want both, then you need to both obey and honor your parents.
[Let them throw from the closest mark.]
Now, there is one final phrase in these verses that I want us to see. This final phrase is something that will be very helpful to you kids in obeying and honoring your parents.
In the Lord.
Back to the target. Some people know what the target is, but have a hard time hitting it because they are blind.
[Blindfold a few. Spin them.]
Try to hit the target now.
It’s easier isn’t it, if we know the target and can see?
Do you want to know what the blindfold is on most people in the world today? It’s called sin.
The Bible says that Satan has blinded the hearts and minds of this world so that they cannot see the truth. Satan has put a blindfold over the eyes of all the people in this world.
But God wants to let us see. And we can learn to see by being in the Lord.
Let me show you how we can be “In the Lord.”
[Piece of Paper, cross – decision. Two results. One piece, or many pieces. Heaven, or hell.]
All of us have a Father in heaven. And one of the things He tells us to do is to believe in Jesus Christ for eternal life. If we obey and honor him in this way, we will have the best life that we can ever have. But if we don’t obey our parents, then our life will be in shambles, in pieces, and it will be a hellish life, a life ruled by darkness and frustration.
By obeying and honoring our earthly parents, we learn to obey and honor our heavenly Father as well.
If you are “in the Lord” you have had your blindfold removed, and now you can clearly see the target, and in fact, by being in the Lord, you are close than you have ever been before. Have you all believed in Jesus for eternal life?
When we are in the Lord, it is easy to hit the target.
[Walk them right up to the target, and let them stick their balls right into the bullseye.]