Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Legacy Series Week 3: Legacy of God’s Word

Both of my parents accepted Jesus as their Savior before I was born, and while they lived in Stockton, California, they attend an Assemblies of God church called Century. There, my parents were a part of several ministries; it was also there that I went to preschool. Now, I’ve said it before, as far as I remember, I was a pretty good kid, but apparently my mom didn’t see it that way. See I was her only boy, and apparently I was a little rowdy. Well it really came out when we had kids of our own, and Marika asked my mom how I was at that age. I think my mom exaggerated a bit, but she told Marika that, she would go into her woman’s Sunday school class and cry because I was so out of control.
Then she went on to give Marika horror stories, of how I apparently wouldn’t stay in my seatbelt while we were driving, and then a cop pulled us over, and again she broke down in tears. I don’t remember anything like that, so it must be blown way out of proportion. 
Anyway, we eventually moved to the little town of Comanche, and started to attend another Assembly of God church. My parents didn’t feel like they fit in, and we proceeded to church hop, never finding a place where my family felt they could be long term. They never found the support they experienced in that first church anywhere else. And eventually, we just stopped attending. 
Now, I never really paid much attention to the whole thing, and didn’t really understand until later what had happen. What I do remember, and I have shared this before, is the long drives I would take with my dad in the summer, as we would work on side jobs for people. He would talk about God, who Jesus was, about salvation, and a lot of other topics. He never quoted Scripture to my memory, but at home, I do remember his Bible. It was a large, brown leather bound, New International Version. And in it was red inked. Not just the words of Jesus in red, but my dad’s own handwriting filled the margins and back pages of the book.
It contained thoughts on verses, questions, and answers. Connections between other passages, and notes from sermons. It is so clear in my memory, that I can feel the thin pages between my finger tips, and smell the musk of it.
Though I never really attended Sunday school, nor many sermons in my youth, those conversations and that marked up book, impacted me more than anything else.

And that’s where we come to the our legacy series today, a place where we’re going to look at the need of having God’s Word impact the next generation.
So if you have your Bibles, we’re going to be in Deuteronomy chapter 11 verse 1.

And as we begin in Deuteronomy 11:1, let’s bring ourselves up to speed on where we’re at in our legacy series so far.
This is our third week talking about the legacy that we’re leaving behind. In the first week, we talked about how our legacies tends to be focused on temporal wealth. Things like money, real estate, and other possessions. But that’s not the legacy that we’re looking at. The legacy God desires us to leave behind, is a legacy that is of eternal worth. This type of legacy looks to have our impact on the next generation continue beyond what physical wealth we have, and rather having a focus on the work of God and his Kingdom.
Then in our second week, we began to look at the components of this eternal worth legacy. We started talking about legacy that shows our trust in Jesus. Do people realize that we trust in Jesus? Does it show to them? Is it just a Sunday trust, or is it a trust that beats through our everyday living? When our trust is real, to not only us, but the people around us, it leaves an impact for the next generation, and it brings eternity into focus.

So now we’re in week three and looking at another component to this eternal worth legacy. And so we’re looking at Deuteronomy chapter 11. Now let’s put this passage in it’s context. Moses is recounting the events of Mount Sinai and imploring the people several times to walk in the path that God is calling them toward. And in doing so, Moses gives the people three Musts. Three things they must do. So let’s pick this up in verse 1 of chapter 11, in the book of Deuteronomy.

1 Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. 2 Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm; 3 the signs he performed and the things he did in the heart of Egypt, both to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his whole country; 4 what he did to the Egyptian army, to its horses and chariots, how he overwhelmed them with the waters of the Red Sea as they were pursuing you, and how the Lord brought lasting ruin on them. 5 It was not your children who saw what he did for you in the wilderness until you arrived at this place, 6 and what he did to Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab the Reubenite, when the earth opened its mouth right in the middle of all Israel and swallowed them up with their households, their tents and every living thing that belonged to them. 7 But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the Lord has done.

Moses put this idea in front of the people, that they were the ones who saw all the miracles that God had performed to get them out of Egypt. But, you know who didn’t see them? Their children. Moses is pointing out the fact, that the children who were now in their nation, did not see these events. They had been wandering in the desert for such a long time that the children being born had no idea what got them to this place. So Moses is telling the people, that they needed to tell those children about what God has done. Why, because the adults had seen the work of the Lord, but the children had not.

So Moses tells the people their first must: they must tell their children what God had done. Moses didn’t want the next generation to forget the work that God had done on behalf of the people. Moses didn’t want the children to think that Egypt was a better place than the land ahead. He wanted them to understand what God had done, so that they would follow where he led. But that’s not the only thing they must do.

Going to verse 8 Moses says, “8 Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess…”
Then dropping down to verse 13, “So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— 14 then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. 15 I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.”

Moses is now telling them, they must observe and be faithful to the commands of God. He even gives them a reason why this is a good idea. When the people are faithfully following the commands, God too will be faithful. As they faithfully observe the commands, God will supply the land with what it needs, so that the people will receive what they need.

These two musts are building up. The people must tell the next generation what God has done and the people must observe and be faithful to God’s commands. Do you see the legacy focus of Moses? The, we must relay God’s work to the next generation and we must show that we believe in him. Then in verse 16 Moses gives them their final must.

16 Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. 17 Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut up the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you.

This last must, is a must not. The people must not turn to other gods. If they turn away from God and begin to worship other gods, then the rains will stop, and the land will no longer produce what they need. And the people themselves will end up losing everything.

Moses tells the people, you must tell the next generation about the things God has done, you must faithfully observe the commands of God, and you must not turn to other gods.
But how does Moses expect the people to achieve these musts? Well, he gives them that in verse 18.

18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

Moses wants them to take the Word of God and make it a part of their lives. This isn’t the first time Moses has told the people to do this. He told them back in chapter 6 to do it. And he is repeating himself so that the people will realize the need to internalize the word of God in their lives.
Why? Because when we internalize God’s Word, we can teach it to our children because it is a part of who we are. We can follow God’s commands, because it’s who we are as a person. And we won’t turn to other gods, because we know the truth, from the true and living God.

This internalizing of God’s Word component of the eternal worth legacy was really pressed upon me several weeks ago. I have always agreed that we need to know God’s Word, and I’ve always believed that pointing back to God’s Word is important. But it wasn’t until recently that I made this connection between God’s Word, Jesus, and internalizing. 

Some of you might have heard where Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
I have always understood this, as a context of Christians meeting together.
This passage was one I thought was focused on the fellowship aspect of Christians and that’s about it. But then I heard this quote from the Mishna, which is the oral tradition of Jewish Rabbis. The quote is, “But two who are sitting together and there are words of Torah [spoken] between them, the Divine Presence rests with them…(Pirkei Avot in the Mishna 3:2)”

This idea that when two speak together about the Word of God, there the very Divine Presence of God is, brought the necessity of internalizing God’s Word into a whole new light. When I am internalizing the Word of God in my life, and I am sharing it with my children, or other people, the Divine Presence of God is there. I am not just putting words from the page of a 5,000 year old book out there, but I am literally internalizing God’s Presence. He is the Word, and his presence is to be shown in and through me.

So, when I come upon passages like 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”, are brought more to life. And the need to read, and study, and understand the very Word of God, becomes more than simple Scripture memorization.
Now I’m not saying this book is Jesus, nor do I want us to confuse the two. But what I am saying is that God’s presence is with us as we internalize his Word, and as we share his Word with others.
I have believed for years, that God’s Word contains everything we need to know to live out this life. But in recent months, this has become more apparent to me. And not only for me, but for the eternal legacy I am building. Am I pressing upon my children this desire to read the Word of God. That they need to internalize it? That it is more than just some words on a page, it is the living transformative presence of God?

This is our second component of legacy that is of eternal worth. Are we pressing upon our children the need for the Bible? We are blessed beyond measure. There are roughly 100 different English versions of the Bible in print today. We have them for free at the welcome table, you can pick one up for a dollar at the dollar store, or you can spend a lot of money and get a really fancy one. You can even go to a hotel and take one from the end table. The point is, they’re available everywhere in the US. 
No other generation and few other countries, is as blessed as we are to have the Word of God so readily available. But are we impressing on our children just how important it is? Or is it something we simply carry to church and it sits on our shelf every other day?

I hope I will forever have the smell, the sight, and the touch of my father’s Bible in my mind. Because seeing the use from it, has helped me realize the need for it.

My challenge to you today, is to ask yourself, do I internalize the Word of God, so that the presence of Jesus can be seen in me? Is my Bible worked through in a way, that others would see my love for God’s Word, or do they see a pristine artifact of a shallow faith? What will me legacy be in sharing God’s Word with the next generation?
Let us be people who live out an eternal worth legacy, that press upon the next generation the need to internalize the Word of God. Amen.

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