This morning's sermon was on Ruth and it really gave me a lot to ponder. One of the things I saw was that, in the Old Testament, just about every 3rd generation turned from God. Think about it. There was Moses, then Joshua and the next generation turned away.
Judges 2 tells us,
"Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel."
We as people sure seem to have a short memory and attention span. What usually happens is that someone experiences God in a very real way. They live for God and their children hear about this God and the stories of what He did in their parents' lives. Then the children have children. When the grandchildren hear about God from the grandparents, it sounds like good stories. Stories, just stories. Not real, life changing experiences of a living God, just good stories. How can the grandchild base his life on good stories? Good stories don't give you hope or a reason to live or eternal life.
By the 3rd generation, God becomes watered down and seems far away or something relevant only to the grandparents. Twice in Judges (Judges 17:6, 21:15), it says, "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit." By the 3rd generation removed from a personal encounter with God, it becomes very easy to do 'as he saw fit'.
Until the grandchildren have their own relationship with God, there will be no reason to live for God or follow His ways. Where there is no relationship, there will be rebellion.
Our job as parents is to give our children opportunities to know Jesus on their own, not rely on our relationship with Him. We can't take the easy way out and hope that our experiences will be enough to keep our kids and grandkids going in the right direction. It won't be enough because God wants a personal relationship with each of us. He doesn't want to become a distant memory. Always remember that God doesn't have grandchildren.
Just about the time I feel so unworthy to have an impact on another generation, God reminds me that He completes His plan through ordinary people.
In Matthew and Luke, Jesus's genealogy is traced back and 2 women are remembered by name, Rahab and Ruth. Rahab was a prostitute and Ruth was a Moabite. Both were ordinary women who embraced a living God. Rahab's past was forgiven and she raised a good man who married Ruth. And they became part of Jesus' past and heritage.
The times that past regrets try to choke me, I remember what Corrie Ten Boom once said, "When we confess our sins, God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever ... Then He places a sign out there that says No Fishing Allowed!"
I want to be an ordinary person, used by an extraordinary God.
(thanks for a great sermon, Troy)
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