One of “seven laws of teaching” I quoted in Old Paths For Little Feet( p. 97) is “Use the known to teach the unknown.” The Bible is real good at this. It uses the tangible to teach the intangible. Something from everyday life to illustrate a spiritual principle. Here is an example:
‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is ‘born’ again he cannot see the kingdom of God. …Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again.” The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit (John 3:4).
Jesus was showing Nicodemus the role of the Holy Spirit in one’s salvation experience. Without the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts none of us can know God. He used the wind to help Nicodemus understand the work of the Spirit upon the heart.
Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will put my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams (Isaiah 44:2-4).
In this Old Testament passage, the Holy Spirit’s work is illustrated by water. He is like a stream or flowing water bringing blessings upon dry, parched hearts.
God’s sovereignty is always balanced with the truth of man’s responsibility. The two truths are like parallel train tracks, running along beside each other, but never intersecting or crossing the other one out. The Holy Spirit actually renews our hearts, gives us faith, but we are to watch our hearts carefully, and observe the fruit it is producing.
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23).
Sometimes we have to stir up our hearts to serve the Lord Jesus and to love him more. We do this through praying, reading and studying our Bible, singing, and serving.
USE THE TANGIBLE TO TEACH THE INTANGIBLE. USE THE PHYSICAL TO TEACH THE SPIRITUAL.
Try this with your children: Put some flour in a large bowl. Let them stir the dry flour. Keep repeating “STIR.” Then let them pour water into the bowl. Keep repeating POUR. STIR, POUR, DRY, WATER. Start with simple vocabulary. “Look what happens to the dry flour. It becomes soft and moist. Our hearts are like this. They are dry and hard. God has to pour his Spirit upon us so our hearts will soften and love him.”
Then, read these verses quoted above out loud, sing a song, and pray. I did this in Children’s Church with ages 5-10. We are learning to sing “O Can It Be” by Charles Wesley to stir our hearts so we can love, worship, and obey God more.
Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, should die for me?
‘Tis mercy all! Let earth adore, let angel minds inquire no more.
‘Tis mercy all! Immense and free! for O my God it found out me.