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.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Legacy Series Week 2: Legacy of Trust

You know, one of the hardest lessons to learn is patience; especially when it comes to savings. At this point in my son’s life, he loves building Lego structures. Recently for Christmas, his grandparents bought him a large firehouse Lego set. In the box were advertisements for other Lego products, and one of those advertisements had a volcano set. He decided that it was what he wanted.
So we found it online and told him, it cost about $155. Then we told him that if he did his chores, saved his money, and then waited until after his birthday, and added any money he got then to his total, that he would most likely be able to buy the set himself. So far, he has earned about $4. It’s been about 4 weeks since he made it known he wanted to buy the set; so at this rate, he’ll be done, in about 2 years. Then this past week, he broke something that wasn’t his, and had to pay for it with the money he has saved, and extra chores. If he doesn’t get some much needed help from his grandparents, I foresee a bleak future for him, where there is no volcano Lego set.
Why? Because he likes to spend money. Every time we go anywhere and he has money in his pocket, it’s time to spend it. Candy, $1 toys, whatever it is, if it’s shinning and new, his attention is drawn away from what he intends to buy, and zeros in on what he can get at that moment. And when he doesn’t have money, he begs and bargains his sisters for their money. Like he did yesterday at the QIA POW WOW.
I can’t really fault him for it. There have been many times in my life where I’ve succumbed to the same thing. Why wait for what I could get, even though it might be wonderful, when I can get something now for a temporary indulgence?

At that’s where we come to our second week in our Legacy series, a place where our legacy can either be short sighted, or eternally focused. 
So if you have your Bibles, we’re going to be in the book of Hebrews chapter 11, starting in verse 8.

And as we get into Hebrews 11:8. Let’s catch ourselves up to speed at where we’re at from last week.

Last week we started talking about the Legacy we are leaving behind. We talked about how we tend to think about our legacy when we see the end of our lives approaching. We saw this in the life of Paul. The two letters he wrote to his protege Timothy, were very different in their focus. The first letter was focused on the here and now of running a church. With all of it’s need to have good leaders, strong stances on teaching, and how to keep going in adversity.
Paul’s second letter on the other hand, was one that focused on eternal things. The relationship we have with God, and how to strengthen it. Paul’s charge to Timothy to continue was to run the race well, just Paul had done. 
And so, these two letters showed us how biblical legacy is focused on things that are of eternal worth, rather than on temporal wealth. 
As we ended last week, we also said, that we were going to go more in-depth about what are some key components of eternal worth legacy.

We’re going to begin here in Hebrews 11:8, where we pick up in the text, another well known chapter of the Bible. This chapter is usually referred to as the faith Hall of Fame. The whole history of the Israelite people is summed up in 40 verses. Covering people like Abel a son of Adam, to Noah the Ark builder, to the prophets that finish off the Old Testament writings.
And it’s in between all of this that we find our first component of eternal worth legacy.

Let’s begin reading…

8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Here is our first component of eternal worth legacy, visible trust in the promise of God that will pass onto the next generation..

Abraham was a man in the land of Ur, he followed his father to the land of Haran. There God called Abraham to the land of Canaan. God told Abraham that he would make him into a great nation. God told him that he would make his name great. God told him that all peoples on earth would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:2-3).
But all that Abraham had at the end of his life, was a son of the promise, a daughter in-law, some servants, some cattle, some respect of the people around him, and one gravesite. A great nation this was not. At the end of Abraham’s life, the promise of God had not been fulfilled.
Yet, through it all, Abraham trusted in the promise of God. That God would make him a great nation. And, that promise was fulfilled through Joshua, as he came into the land of Canaan and conquered it. That promise was fulfilled in Solomon, who governed over a united Israel. And that promise was fulfilled through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, who because of him, we gather together. 
We are a result of the promise that God gave to Abraham. And the Hebrew writer knows it. And brings out the fact that each one was still looking for the next part of the promise to be fulfilled. 

“13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.”

God’s promise was not fulfilled in Abraham’s lifetime, but he trusted, and his trust was carried on by his son, and then by his son, and it continued, until the first cries of Jesus. And as Jesus was presented in the temple, a man named Simeon took the baby in his hands and said, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel (Luke 2:29-32).”

Abraham, though he never saw this moment, trusted God until his dying breath. 

The story of this denomination is a simple one. The founder of it, was a man named A.B. Simpson. He was a very good preacher and pastor. He was from Canada, but due to health concerns he was instructed to move to a different climate. He eventually moved to Louisville, Kentucky and then to New York city. In New York, Simpson took the position of pastor at the Thirteenth Street Presbyterian Church. It was an upper middle-class church with some very influential people, making, at the time, $5,000 a year. That’s a salary of $120,000 by today’s standards. Simpson was at the top of his field, and in a wealthy church.
As he pastored the church, he would go down to the docks and preach to the Irish and immigrants coming off the boats. He eventually wanted them to be brought into the church. But that wasn’t okay with the current congregation. Without fanfare, Simpson left his very well off pastorate, and with the help of several other ministers, started the Gospel Tabernacle. A place that reached out to the poor of the city.
As Simpson pastored this new church, God turned his heart towards the unreached people’s around the world. A new calling was put on his life, get the Gospel out to those people. Simpson called on his poor church congregation to train and send out missionaries to these unreached people. What little they had, a watch here, a wedding ring there, was put into the ministry, and eventually the first set of missionaries were trained and sent out. 
These missionaries were sent out with all their worldly belongings in a 6ft by 2ft wooden box. That they understood would double as their coffin, because once out there, they were almost guaranteed to not coming back. 
From these beginnings, the Christian and Missionary Alliance began. Churches were raised here at home, to send missionaries to unreached people groups. And though, even today, the Alliance is not the biggest, it is one of the leaders in missions. Establishing churches in countries, building up the national people to run them, and then moving on to the next unreached people. Matthew 24:14 says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

This verse has given the Alliance the mantra of “Bring Back the King!” Meaning, let us preached the Gospel to all nations, so that we may see the return of Jesus our King.
A.B. Simpson died in 1919. The world was still dealing with the aftermath of the first world war. He had sent many a young missionary to far off places, who never returned. Today the Alliance is in over 60 countries. We have 22 other countries where the national churches are strong enough to send out their own missionaries. In 2017, over 26,000 people came to Christ through the work fo the Alliance.
I share this with you, not to make the Alliance look good, there are a lot of denominations that do great work. I share this with you, because it doesn’t matter if your a shepherd being called by God to be the father of a great nation, or a pastor called to send out missionaries, or someone who lives their life, day by day; what matters is that we trust the call of God, even though that call may not be completed in our life time.

This is the first component to eternal worth legacy, visible trust in the promise of God that will pass onto the next generation. The question we need to ask ourselves is, am I living the promise of God out so strongly in my life, that I am passing on that trust to the next generation? Abraham trusted so much that he was willing to sacrifice God’s promised son Issac. Simpson trusted so much that he left $120,000 job. Because of Abraham’s trust, God fulfilled his promise by bringing Jesus into the world. And when Jesus returns, God will have fulfilled his promise again when he said that the, “gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

The question that we must ask ourselves, isn’t, “Do I trust in Jesus?” The question should be, “Is my trust in Jesus so life altering and clear, that it will pass on to the next generation?”

Abraham to Isaac. Isaac to Jacob. Jacob to Moses. Moses to David. David to Jesus. Simpson to Jeremiah. Jeremiah to whom?
Who will follow our trust in Jesus?

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews ends with these words, “35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
“39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”

Are we willing to live these types of lives, to leave the legacy that says, I trust God above all else?
All the wealth of the ages has and will past, but trust in God stands the test of time. It is passed from generation to generation by men and women who are brave enough to pass it. The question is, are we those type are men and women?

My challenge to you this week is to ask someone that you would like to leave a legacy with, has your trust in God shown to them? And if so, are they following in that trust?
I pray that God will be seen in our lives this week, that he would be glorified, and that others would trust him, through our lives. Amen.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Legacy Series Week 1: Legacy of Eternal Worth

About a year and a half ago my wife started telling me that I was morbid. Not because I have an interest in death, or I watch scary movies, or anything like that. She started calling me morbid, because the last several times we’ve visited with my parents, I’ve brought up the subject of them having a will.
Now I don’t bring up the subject as if I’m the prodigal son, trying to get my cut of my parent’s estate. Rather, the more I live in Quartzsite the more it’s pressed upon me that we are not always going to be here. I don’t know if you know that. And I have seen people pass away, without having a well thought out plan about what will happen to their estates when they leave it behind.
Now, some people don’t care. They say things like, “What would I care, I’m gone.” But I have watched families struggle trying to get everything in order. I have seen families fight about who gets what.
And so, I just want to make sure that my parent’s wishes are fulfilled. What is it that they want? Are those wishes clear? And is there a clear way of implementing everything when the time comes? Personally, I don’t have emotional attachments to anything my parents have. And so, there’s nothing that I really want from them. All I want, is for their legacy to continue. And I don’t mean the legacy of their stuff. I mean the legacy of their lives.
Growing up, I never really knew my grandparents. My parents kept us away from them, because they were either very abusive, or they lived lives that my parents didn’t want us to experience. 
But I want my kids to know their grandparents. Both my wife’s and mine, because I think they’re great people. They love God, their generous, and their fun to be around. That is the legacy I want to live on. A legacy that builds up, and doesn’t tear down. I don’t want to see, at the end of my parent’s lives, the legacy that had been built into their children and grandchildren, come falling down, because a will wasn’t there or wasn’t clear.

And that’s where we come to the beginning of our sermon series on Legacy. For the next few weeks we’re going to be talking about leaving a biblical legacy. Now we’re going to intertwine the personal biblical legacy that God calls us to, with the ministry legacy of the Alliance Church here in Quartzsite.
But here’s a spoiler for the sermon series: the personal legacy is not about money, while we might touch on the topic of money, this sermon series is not about our earthly wealth.

Legacy is defined as; anything handed down from the past… Can that be money? Yes, but there’s a greater legacy that we who have put our trust into Jesus as our Savior are called to. And it’s the greater biblical legacy that we are going to talk about. So let’s jump into it.
If you have your Bibles, we’re going into 2nd Timothy chapter 3, starting in verse 10.

As we get into 2nd Timothy 3:10, lets find out where we’re at. Since this is a 2nd Timothy, that means there was a first. The first one was written about three years prior. Both are written to Timothy, and both are written by Paul. Timothy was one of Paul’s proteges, and someone Paul left behind to do ministry in the city of Ephesus. Paul’s first letter was to teach Timothy how to be a leader of a church. But Paul’s second letter is very different.
In the first letter, Paul is very much thinking about the here and now. How to lead a church, how to recognize the attributes of Elders and Deacons, how to see false teachings that will inevitably seep their way in. All of it has a focus on carrying out the work that needs to be done now, in this present time. Paul even states in chapter 3 verse 14 of his first letter, “Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, 15 if I am delayed…” Paul is thinking about visiting Timothy, he might be delayed, but his goal is to visit his protege again.
But Paul’s second letter is very different. Instead of a pure focus on the here and now, Paul focuses’ on the future to come. Paul encourages Timothy to be faithful to the end, to be a workman approved by God, to not get involved in useless quarreling, and how in the last days there will be godlessness. Paul’s focus has shifted from the work of the here and now, to the time ahead.
And it’s at the end of this letter that we pick up Paul’s words in chapter 3, starting in verse 10. Let’s read.

3:10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
4:1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

We tend to hear, or read, or even recite Paul’s words in verse 7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” These words are good, but it’s not the full legacy that Paul wants Timothy to receive.

Paul starts off with, “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured.”
Paul tells Timothy, you know what my life has been like. The pain, the suffering, and the love and purpose of it all. Paul tells Timothy, you know the teachings that I’ve given to you. But it’s not until verse 1 of chapter 4 that we really get into the legacy Paul desires Timothy to receive.
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:”
We tend to start thinking about legacy when death is knocking on our door. Paul is literally in the last year of his life. Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy when he still thought he’d be around to visit him. But now, three years later, Paul is in a situation, where he is focusing on meeting his Savior. Everything else is dropping away, and only legacy is in view.
So he tells Timothy in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, here is your charge from me. Here is the legacy I desire to pass on to you.
“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”
Paul tells Timothy, preach the word, being ready at any moment to do so. And then in verse 5, Paul tells Timothy, buckle down and do the work that God has called you to you. Don’t worry about these other things that will happen. Don’t worry about people leaving you to hear other messages that tickle their ear. No, Timothy, you do what God has called you to do.
And it’s in this context, this context of being at the end of this life, of sending the next generation off, that we get Paul’s oft so quoted words in verse 7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

In other words, I have done everything that God has called me to do, now Timothy follow my example. Live within the legacy I am leaving behind, the legacy you have watched me build all these years.
This is an Elijah and Elisha moment of the Old Testament. Elijah was the Paul, and Elisha was his Timothy. The mantle, the garment, the legacy of Elijah passed to Elisha.
This is what biblical legacy is, the passing of the torch of the word of God from believer to believer. From the old in the faith, to the new in the faith.

This ministry of the Alliance Church was started, when godly men and women took up the legacy of reaching people. That legacy has been passed down for the last 40 years. You and I have been given the responsibility to continue the legacy of God’s work here. Not to make the Alliance Church great, but to do the work that God has called us to.
This is the legacy that we have received, and we are to pass to the next generation. Are we willing leave it ready for them? Have we done what we can to leave them in a place to achieve greater work? Elijah gave Elisha a double portion of spirit. Paul gave the work in Ephesus that he started to Timothy. Jesus said to his disciples, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these (John 14:12)…”

Are we running the race in such a way, that the legacy we leave behind would be one that people would want to be a part of? Or are we running the race in such a way, that they just want to throw it out?

In June of 2018 I officially took over for Pastor Jeff as Lead Pastor of the Alliance Church here in Quartzsite. I see the legacy that Jeff has done here, and I want to continue to build on it. Because I see that Jeff ran the race and did as God led, and I want the double portion of Jeff, I want to pick up where he left off, I want to do greater things, because of the legacy he, and those before him in this ministry, have left.
And I want to challenge you to be a part of that work, to be a part of this legacy. To run it well, so that we can pass it on to the next generation, so that they can accomplish greater things.

So what is this legacy? Paul left no money, no land, no nest egg behind. Too often we think that legacy is synonymous with money. If I leave money, or land, or whatever behind, I will be remembered.
That might be true for one generation, but what about the one after that, or the one after that? 
We tend to leave legacies of temporal wealth. Those things that can be forgotten in one generation. Those things, that Jesus says will pass away. I think there is a place for that. There’s a great richness in being able to give the next generation advantages of wealth that we have built up. And to show our beneficiaries that we care for them enough to give them something when we pass on. 
But God calls us to legacies of eternal worth. This type of legacy shifts it’s focus from the temporary enjoyment of our beneficiaries, to the building of God’s Kingdom. 
Legacies built on temporal wealth are used, fought over, divided, and forgotten. But Legacies built on eternal worth move the work of God forward, and lay the ground work for people coming to know Jesus as their Savior.

I’m not asking that you make the Alliance Church a beneficiary of your wealth. I’m echoing God’s call on your life, to work with me for God’s Kingdom.

And so I ask you, what type of legacy are you leaving behind? Will your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren see your legacy as temporal or as eternal? That is my question and the challenge for this week, is this: take some time, and evaluate your legacy, asking what is the legacy I’m leaving behind? Is is temporal wealth, or eternal worth?

Let us be people that leave legacies of eternal worth, so that the Kingdom of God may house even more people. Let’s pray.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Famous 2019

One of the best Disney movies is Aladdin, which is getting live action redone that comes this year. If you don’t know the story, Jafar is the evil advisor to the sultan. He is trying to gain the magical lamp with the Genie to take over the kingdom of Agrabah. He uses street rat Aladdin to enter the cave of wonders and retrieve the lamp. While doing this the cave collapse, sealing Aladdin inside with the lamp.
Using the Genie’s magic to get out, Aladdin wishes to become a prince, so that he can marry the princess of Agrabah, that he fell in love with at the beginning of the film. And his introduction is an amazing song and dance entrance. 
But everything starts going off the rails, when the fame becomes more important than the truth. And it’s because Aladdin isn’t truthful with the princess when he should be, that causes his relationships with his friends to become strained, he ends up losing the lamp, and only be the skin of his teeth does it all turn out alright in the end.

I use Aladdin’s story to bring up the idea of being famous. Now in the past, I have said, a lot of us want to be famous, and I have had teens say to me, “Oh I don’t want to be famous.”

Well, I got the stats for you to say, “yeah, you’re probably lying to me if you say you don’t want to be famous.
In 2017, a survey was taken by a website called the dailymail online. Now it was of teens in the United Kingdom, but another survey back in 2009 showed that the trends of developed countries, like the US and the UK are usually statistically similar. So what did the daily mail find out?
The top 5 jobs that teens want to get in the future are, YouTubers at 34%, Blogger/Vlogger at 18%, Musician/Singer at 16%, Actor at 15%, and Film Maker at 13%. That means 96% of teens want to be in a role that will bring them fame. This doesn’t include the overlap of TV Presenters, or Athletes. We have a desire to be known by people. Why? because who wants to live their lives as if it didn’t matter?
We don’t want our lives to have no meaning. This is especially true if we look around us and see people who’s lives seem to make no difference. Or if we are shuffled to the back of the family. We have a sibling that seems to get more love from our parents or grandparents. We have other kids around us that seem to be smarter, stronger, better at things, and we want the recognition. 

In the band Imagine Dragons, their song Thunder picks up on this idea.

Just a young gun with a quick fuse
I was uptight, wanna let loose
I was dreaming of bigger things
And wanna leave my own life behind


Kids were laughing in my classes
While I was scheming for the masses
Who do you think you are?
Dreaming 'bout being a big star
They say you're basic, they say you're easy
You're always riding in the back seat
Now I'm smiling from the stage while
You were clapping in the nose bleeds

We tend to want to make ourselves known, but what will that get us? Momentary love of others, until we’re no longer useful. Sure you have people like Beyonce, who is going strong in her career, but for every one that makes it, hundreds even thousands are left behind. Still hoping for their shot.

But God desires a different fame for us. Jesus said, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it (Matthew 16:25).”

One of Jesus’ disciples, Paul, wrote this at the end of his life, “6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing…18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen (2 Timothy 4:6-8, 18).”

Paul realized what true fame was: not to be known by the world, but to be known by God. 
People want to be world famous. And some have reached that status, but others are more well known than any of the actors, or youtubers, or bloggers of today. Paul is one fo the most quoted men of history, and all he did was talk about Jesus.
This is the fame that lasts, not that the world knows us, but that God knows us, And when we find this fame, then we find purpose, we find contentment, we find life.

As we begin this new year, I would ask you, where are you seeking your fame? From this world, that is fleeting? Or from God eternally?

Let’s close on the song, Yours (Glory and Praise) by Elevation Worship.