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From Generation To Generation

Psalm 78

 

We have a great church, and may it ever be!  But the Lord is leading us today to consider ourselves 'generationally', for the sake of the future!

 

Many generations have passed over 200 years in this place, thousands have been touched, millions of dollars have been given, and we today are benefiting.  God’s call remains the same: for the present generation to build the future in this wonderful place!  Every other generation passed it on.  Will we?

 

Psalm 100:5

    For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Psalm 145:4

    One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.

 

As a nation on this weekend we remember generations who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms.  We don’t know them all…but we owe them all!  As a church, we should honor our elders while we have them. 

 

Just because we have always had them doesn't mean we will always have them.  This may seem awkward to you, but it isn't to them.  They know they are old, and God said you may have 70 or 80 years.  Some of them are pushing the limit!  Of course, none of us are promised tomorrow, and some of our elders may attend my funeral or yours.  But they want me today to challenge you to rise up for the future of FBC!  There is no greater honor or tribute we could bestow upon these than the assurance that we will follow in their footsteps of faithfulness and sacrifice and bear the burden and carry the load of the future, so the walls they worked so hard to build may ever stand and the doors God has opened here may ever remain open!

 

God’s call remains the same: for the present generation to build the future in this wonderful place!

 

We must join this race, receive the baton…the torch is being passed.  Will we, too, become a generation who did our part?  How about our children?  And theirs?

 

The Bible often speaks of a generation.  Check out this verse:

Judges 2:10

    And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done…

 

We cannot let that happen!  The Bible says,

Eccles. 1:4

    One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh…

 

But what will become of the next generation?

 

If we do it correctly…then this is what could be said,

Psalm 45:17

    I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.

 

If this is to happen, then it’s up to us gathered here this morning, by God’s grace, to see it thru!  It’s time to claim responsibility [own it!]…to lay aside the ‘consumer mentality’ that asks ‘what can this church do for me?’, and have a ‘contributor mentality’, asking, ‘what can I do for the church God has led me to?’

 

"Contributor Mentality"--This person looks for a place where they are needed.  Their main question is "where is a local church that I can serve God thru?"  They believe God's perfect will includes more than just "what's in it for me."  Matter of fact, they firmly believe that they will receive the most when they are giving of their time, talents, and treasures, believing that they cannot outgive God.

 

God would seem to agree...

Luke 6:38
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Matthew 20:28
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Romans 15:20
Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation.

 

You can be blessed by going to a church where others have sacrificed and built something good...but you can be "double-blessed" by going to a church with needs and problems to solve, and then becoming a part of the solution!

 

The Bible has quite a lot to say about generations, and the younger generation stepping up to the plate and dedicating to the task at hand!

 

Consider these verses:

Lament. 5:19

    Thou, O Lord, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation.

Daniel 4:3

    How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.

Isaiah 34:17

    …his hand hath divided it unto them…they shall possess it for ever, from generation to generation shall they dwell therein.

Matthew 16:18

    …upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

1 Peter 2:9

    But ye are a chosen generation…that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

 

Yes, the Bible has much to say about generations, and our responsibility for the coming years is clear!  But, there’s also a major warning for us in scripture, in the form of the children of Israel.  The whole Israel story is summed up succinctly in Psalm 78…please turn…

 

Let’s read the first 8 verses responsively…

 

And the rest of Psalm 78 sums up 6 books of the Bible…Exodus-Judges.  What would take 3 months to read if you spent 15 min. per day is summed up for us here in a brief overview.

 

vv. 10-29         God was taking good care of His own.  But they didn’t go with His plan, they lacked faith, and constantly complained [entitlement]!

vv. 30-33         God decided it wouldn’t happen for that generation.

 

Ever felt like you have wasted years?  Ever looked back over a period of time and wondered why you squandered it so, and what you really accomplished of real value?

 

What does v. 33 mean when it speaks of vanity and years consumed?

 

Deut. 1:2-3

    (There are eleven days' journey from Horeb by the way of mount Seir unto Kadesh-barnea.) [3] And it came to pass in the fortieth year…

 

Whoa Nellie!  It took 40 years to travel this short distance?  Yes!  As they went in circles, going nowhere, meandering their lives away!

 

The next few verses then also summarize their lack of faith, and going their own way, and how God let them wander in the wilderness, and then it says in…

Deut. 1:35

    Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers,

 

Yes, their days were consumed in vanity!

 

Here’s a couple of other very ‘telling’ verses:

Numbers 32:13

    And the Lord's anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the Lord, was consumed.

Psalm 95:10

    Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways:

 

So we can see this story and how Israel turned a few days journey into 40 years and we can almost get angry and want to slap them around…that is, until we realize that they are a picture of us, today!

 

Oh me, oh my!  Check out this passage…

1 Cor. 10:5, 11-12

    But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. [11] Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. [12] Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

        These things about Israel were written for us, today!

 

And truly for us to do anything less than give Him 100% of who we are is an insult to God and our elders, and will lead to a wilderness-like Christianity that goes in circles and accomplishes very little for our generation!

 

v. 41 says they ‘limited God.’ 

        We limit Him by not selling out and becoming 100% dedicated to the greatest life any Christian could ever hope to live, the life of building the church of the living God!

 

To do less is unthinkable, and limits God, and could spell the end of this place long before another generation comes and goes.  Our elders could disappear in the blink of an eye.  We would cry at their funerals, and wish we had spent more time gleaning from them, and would wonder if we could still follow in their footsteps, or is it too late?

 

It’s time the people of God realize they are limiting the Father’s work here in the church.  It’s time we stop praying, ‘God, use me’, and start praying, ‘God, make me usable’.  This happens when we realize that He wants to do greater works than we can imagine, and He wants this place to become a soul saving station like none other in the area, full and overflowing!

 

That’s why He left us here…it’s why He led you here…you can do it, you can reach others w/ God’s help, if you’ll commit to the task, and take responsibility in your generation, and just believe it’s possible…to do less would be to limit God!

 

Here’s 3 quick things Israel did wrong:

1.     Lacked faith.  They didn’t take God at His Word.

v. 22        Oh, they believed enough to leave Egypt [to get saved] but not enough to ever arrive at the promised land [victorious life].  I marvel at Christians who believe God for something as huge as salvation, but don’t believe they could ever personally win a soul to Christ, or don’t believe He will return more than they tithe back to them, or that He could do great things w/ their life!

 

2.     Lacked obedience.  They didn’t hearken to God’s voice.

vv. 9-10           God told them they would win if they would go forward and enter the promised land, but they saw giants and were afraid, and turned back. Life is a giant challenge.  Our elders took on the giant.  Will we retreat?

 

3.     Lacked purity.  They didn’t progress in holiness.

Praise God He doesn’t expect sinless perfection, for none of us could meet that challenge.  But He does expect us to ‘sin less’!

vv. 56-61 detail this.

 

God wants us to go forward as Christians, and as a church, and the best progress comes by walking, not by wandering.

2 Peter 3:18

    But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

 

That’s baby steps, but it’s still going forward…that’s progressing in holiness!

Col. 2:6

    As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:

…that’s progressing in holiness!

James 4:8

    Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

…that’s progressing in holiness!

Proverbs 24:16

    For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.

…that’s progressing in holiness!

Proverbs 28:13

    He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

 

At best, most Christians just confess…knowing it’s not the last time they will do that sin!  Well, that confession may be good for the soul, but forsaking is what God is looking for, or we limit Him in our generation!

 

What will we see when we look back from the future?  Will we limit God, or will we become the next great generation?! 

 

There's several ways to measure our generations.  A personal character evaluation, attendance, service, personal faithfulness.  These sound a bit superficial, and we need to get to the heart of the matter.  But Jesus said our heart is best indicated by our treasure and what we do with it.

 

If you are under 60, leave your seat and lay a hand on one of our respected elders.

 

Let's pray a prayer of sincere dedication.  What are we saying? 

  • We're dedicating ourselves to faithfulness.  Would there even be evening services if ours were the only generation present?  Would our kids ever learn to sit in big church and listen to deep preaching?
  • We're dedicating ourselves to sacrifice.  Obedience in giving will not only benefit the church, but ourselves and our children when they take our place someday!
  • We're dedicating ourselves to service.  These visited and won souls, and so can we! 

 

 

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