Could it really be that simple? Could all of life truly hinge on the answer to one question? Could we change the world, break the cycle of poverty, change lives, restore families, etc.? I believe so, and I will tell you what that question is at the end of this blog post.
Yesterday, I began a sermon series entitled “Tell the Story” based on Psalm 78, A Psalm of Asaph in which he reminds his people of all the failures of their ancestors. Now, he has a purpose other than totally bumming them out about how stupid the Israelites were. I mean, when you have God doing so many wonderful miracles for you like parting the Red Sea and drowning the entire Egyptian army and sending manna from heaven to feed you, and then all you can do is decide to worship a golden calf – come on! I mean, really! It’s not like us today, right? We’ve got this stuff down pat. Well, more on that later. Asaph uses the stories of his ancestors to remind his people that in spite of their unfaithfulness that God remains faithful. His mercies are made new every morning. He loves them, and just as He has cared for them in the past, He will continue to care for them in the future. However, that is not a license for them to continue in their sin. That is not the purpose of this story. Asaph wants them to know that continued sin brings God’s discipline and eventually His hand of judgment, so “you better watch out, you better not cry. You better not pout, I’m telling you why.” Okay, I’m having a little bit of Christmas withdrawal, so just stick with me for a minute.
Here is what Asaph tells us. There is a way to break the cycle, and it has nothing to do with the man in the red suit (pitch fork, reindeer, or otherwise). Do you want to know what it is? He says that we need to pay attention to the lessons of the past. Look at what their ancestors had lived through, the cycle of sin, judgment, repentance, and deliverance. Lather, rinse, repeat. Again and again and again. What is the answer? We need to tell the stories. The stories of Abraham and Moses and David and Solomon. We are to “praise the Lord for what He has done.” But more than that, we need to look at all the stories of the Bible and discover for ourselves the stories we can use to tell our children and our grandchildren the ones that can prove His love in such a way that they will know that He is still in the business of taking care of them. We must teach them the truths of God’s Word and show them how they can change their lives.
And do you know what will happen if we do that? Our children will set their hope in God. I don’t know about you, but that was my number one goal in raising my children. I did not want them placing all their hopes in me because I knew that at some point I might let them down. I didn’t want them placing all their hopes in this world either. I wanted them placing their hope and their confidence in the one thing that was, is, and always will be a sure thing and that is a heavenly Father that loves them unconditionally. How do you get them to that place? You teach them the grand old stories of the Bible so much so that they love them. You tell them the stories over and over again. You sing them to them. You preach them to them. You teach them to them. You make them go to church. You read them to them at home. You make sure they go to Sunday School. You let them know that it’s important to you and it will be important to them. If you love it, they will love it even if they pretend not to love it. If we will listen and lead, our children will set their hope in God.
Second, our children will not forget the works of God. How can they if we follow these guidelines. Talk about the stories of the Bible. In the car. Play the songs. Sings the songs. Tell the stories. Read the verses. Play Bible memory games. It will be good for you, too. Listen to me. In Bible times, every succeeding generation was to be taught His Word. It was to be meticulously taught, protected and preserved. Every generation was to be taught to do the same for their children. The same is true today, and if we don’t start taking this seriously, we are not just going to lose the children of lost people, we are going to lose our own children as well. Why? Because they are being inundated by the educational system that is telling them to forget the works of God. They aren’t real.
And third, our children will keep His commandments. That’s right. If we teach them to love the Word of God, they will live the Word of God. The Word has the power to change hearts and lives. That’s why the devil cringes when people get serious about studying the Bible. It’s powerful, and it will not only change your life, it will change your family and it will change the world. Do you know what Asaph is saying? He’s telling us how to break the cycle. If you don’t want this next generation to be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, then teach them the word of God. Teach them to love the Word of God, to cherish it.
But all of this hinges on that one question, and here it is: do you believe that the Word of God is true? Because if you don’t believe it, they never will.
To listen to the message in its entirety, you can find it on this website under the audio sermons. It should be up later today. Or you can view the entire worship service at www.southsidebaptist.net. Click the link in the middle of the page to view our live and archived services. If you would like a copy of the message transcript or outline, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.