Last night, our family had an amazing family devotion time. We traced the children's Godly Christian heritage for them so that they could see how they arrived where they are today. On my side, their heritage starts with me. I didn't become a Christian until I was 18, and I was not raised in a Christian home. So I am considered first generation. But much like Timothy's grandmother, it has been my responsibility and privilege to start the line. (Paul traced Timothy's Christian heritage, too.)
2 Timothy 1:5 "When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also."
On my husband's side, his mother was saved as a teenager, but she didn't grow nor pass on her Christian heritage at first. His father was in the Navy and met a friend. That friend invited him to church. My husband's dad accepted Christ as his Saviour. At that time he was already married to "Gramma" and they had two young children. They had no training, but they began faithfully learning, growing, and teaching their boys the best they could. Because of their faithfulness, my husband heard the Gospel as a child. My husband accepted Christ as a preteen. Then in high school, he met me and invited me to church. I accepted Christ. We later married and had children. We passed on our Christian heritage to our children. Now the responsibility rests on their shoulders. The question is, "Are you going to continue this Godly Christian heritage, or are you going to drop the ball? Are you going to quit being faithful somewhere along the way?"
David declares, much like our children could declare, that from his youth he was taught and raised to know God.
Psalm 71:5 For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.
Psalm 71:6 By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother's bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee.
Psalm 71:17 O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.
From his youth He dedicated his life to following the Lord. He was taught and he followed in that teaching, continuing a heritage. But he didn't just stop there. He continued!
vs 6: "... from the womb... my praise shall be continually of thee."
vs 8, 15: "... all the day."
vs 14: "... hope continually..."
vs 17: "... from my youth: and hitherto..."
He continued on and was faithful!
But he didn't stop there. He talked about continuing on farther! He hungered for that close relationship to continue his whole life!
Psalm 71:9 "Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth."
Psalm 71:18 "Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not..."
But get this: the most exciting part to me isn't that he wanted a close fellowship with God his whole life. It thrills my soul to no end that he also determined and purposed in his heart to serve God even in his old age. He didn't have a "retirement" mindset about his Christian heritage and serving God. He wasn't content just to let the young guys take over. He took personal responsibility for reaching the next generation as long as he still had breath!
Psalm 71:18 "Now also when I am old and gray-headed, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come."
Just because we grow grey headed and wrinkled, slow or bedridden, doesn't mean we stop serving. So, when the body is aging, tired, and weary, how can a person still serve God?
Psalm 71:8 "Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honour all the day."
Doesn't this next generation need to see what real worship and praise is?
Psalm 71:14 "But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more."
Doesn't this next generation need to see faith (hope... confident expectation) lived out in daily life? Don't they need to see someone who lives daily trusting in God's perfect Word, learning and growing in the Word even in old age?
Psalm 71:15 "My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof."
Doesn't this next generation still need to know who God is and what He has done? With a life full of stories of God's provision, protection, and providence, shall we silence those stories because we are old? Shall they not hear of a real saving faith that changed our lives?
Psalm 71:16 "I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only."
In a world that fills their ears full of lies that the answers are in them and that they are strong, not needing anyone, shall we not in our old age show them the truth? Shall we not tell them that without Christ we can do nothing? Will our faltering bodies silence this truth?
Psalm 71:22 "I will also praise thee with the psaltery, even thy truth, O my God: unto thee will I sing with the harp, O thou Holy One of Israel."
Oh how our Father loves to hear us sing! The wrinkles on our brow do not distract Him as He bends to hear the singing of His praises! Shall this next generation not be touched by our heart's adoration of the Saviour in song?
Psalm 71:23 "My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed."
This world is full of complaining and it seems to be a heritage that is passed on generation to generation. How do we stop it? When we are old and aching and yet we still praise Him, we declare to the next generation that God is good all the time. We spread an attitude of gratitude.
Psalm 71:24 "My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long: for they are confounded, for they are brought unto shame, that seek my hurt."
No matter how old we get, we can pass on to the next generation the truth of God's righteousness. We can keep proclaiming His Word even on our deathbed. ALL THE DAY LONG... and every day.... until we draw our last breath. Be committed, by God's grace, to be the one who will pass on a Godly heritage to the next generation. From youth... continually now... and in old age. Don't quit.
I have a confession. My biggest pet peeve is when I cannot find something. It drives me crazy to waste time looking for something that isn't where it is supposed to be. This is especially frustrating when we are in a hurry to go somewhere. Maybe it's missing keys or a misplaced Bible. Whatever it is, I struggle having a meek and quiet spirit when the minutes tick away as we search the house for an item that should have been put in a specific place but wasn't.
My family, however, knows that I am the queen of finding things. If it is anywhere in the house, I can find it. I can find it in much less time than anyone else. Why? Because I know exactly where to look! I know the habits of my family and where they are likely to have absent-mindedly placed something. I ask them a few questions to narrow down the possibilities, and then within minutes the item is in hand and we rejoice and are glad. We celebrate and are once again at peace.
Psalm 70:4 "Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified."
Do you seek the Lord? He isn't misplaced. He wasn't absent-mindedly left somewhere. He actually is right where He is supposed to be. When we struggle finding Him, it is because we are looking for Him in the wrong places and in the wrong things. We look for the joy He brings in people, in circumstances, and in places. We seek Him in places and ways that He declares He will not be found. We develop our own plans, methods, and worldly/fleshly means to attempt conjuring up God. Really those things show us that we aren't looking for God. We are instead looking for a deity that lives by our terms and expectations. The true and holy God will only be found on His terms.
Imagine if my youngest child misplaced an item, a sock. I decide to help him find it. So I search for his orange Adidas sock. I look and look. For some reason, I can't find it. I go to him and tell him I can't find his orange sport sock.
"Mom, I don't have an orange Adidas sock. I am looking for my red Adidas sock!" No wonder I cannot find his sock!
Searching for God is the same thing. Sometimes we cannot find Him because we are looking for something He is not!
"Well, your red sock is in the drawer where it belongs."
"Oh, I didn't look in there." Sigh... Sorry to compare the holy Lord to a sock, but I have searched for a lot of socks in my time. The illustration was handy and easy. Yes, God is always right where He is supposed to be, but if we refuse to look for Him in the places where He is, we will never find Him. If we have misguided notions of what God is like and who He is, we will struggle in our seeking.
So exactly where can we find the Lord?
In His Word.
His Word describes who He is and what He is like. So if you are searching for God in other places, you are wasting your time. If you are searching for God, but not opening the Bible, you aren't really seeking Him at all.
Jeremiah 29:13 "And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."
Isaiah 55:6 "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:"
There is a practice here in this country that is heartbreaking. Often families are split apart because the husband decides to go off to work in another country, leaving the wife to raise the children alone. Sometimes it is the mother who goes. And even more tragic is when both parents leave the country to work, leaving the children with a grandparent. These children grow up not really knowing their parents. The parents chase dreams of making a lot of money, when in actuality they end up in worse financial shape than they were in the beginning. In their new country of employment they are often abused, neglected, and taken advantage of. Some fall for employment schemes that give great promises of money, only to discover they were tricked into being a mule for drugs or illegal goods. Those people end up in prison in their new country. Their lives are ruined and the family is torn apart. My heart breaks for the whole family, but even more for the children. You see it in their eyes. They hunger for love, security, and affection. They hunger for the home to be what God designed it to be, yet none of them know what is missing in their lives. It's like walking around in darkness, groping for something you don't know is out there.
There is another story, too. Sometimes the fathers/husbands are in the home, but alcohol plagues their existence. Women come into our church toting their small children along. They request prayer for their unbelieving husbands who get drunk and then beat them. No, the husband will not be prosecuted in this culture. Often the family is seen as the father's property. How he wants to tend to his family is his business. You can see the age and the wear on the faces of these women. My heart breaks for them.
Not even half a mile from our home there is a park. Elderly women often walk there. They go to the temple to do their idol worship and then walk in the park to get fresh air and exercise. The story of these women, more often than not, is that they live in a home for widows nearby. They usually have adult children, but these women are neglected and unwanted. Because they are aging, they are cumbersome to the family. If the family can afford it, the family puts these women in a home to get them out of the way. These elderly women are not valued. As I sometimes sat and talked with these women at the park, tears would well up in their eyes when I asked if they had family.
We live in a broken world. Sin has devastated the home. These people are bound by sin and circumstance. What is the solution? We must give them hope.
Psalm 68:5-6 "A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land."
Our Saviour, Jesus, is the answer to the longing in their hearts. He can fill the empty gap. He can satisfy their hearts' desires. He is the solution to mend the broken heart and the broken home. A Father to the fatherless, He also takes care of the widow.This world needs Christ whether they realize it or not. I need Christ. You need Him. The things of this world will leave us empty and broken. He, however, satisfies our every need.
If anyone knows anything about Basic Training in the Army, they know that push-ups are a way of life. They do push-ups for anything and everything. Contraband items in their possession, taking too long to do something, getting letters in the mail, waking up in the morning... time for more push-ups.
Right now I am waiting for a phone call from my son in the Army. It is getting late and I am concerned that his platoon lost phone call privileges this week. I bet if they did, they also had to do push-ups. It is possible that as a group they failed at something, but more often than not they lose privileges because a handful of people got into trouble. I am sure no one minds doing push-ups for getting letters in the mail. After all, they are getting mail! It's like Christmas! They will take the push-ups for the letters! But when they have to do push-ups, or worse... lose phone privileges, for another person's stupidity, that's frustrating.
The question then is posed: Why do they all have to pay the price for one or two people's mistakes? Can't they just punish the ones who did wrong?
Of course they could! But then that would be missing out on the valuable lesson. What in the world could a Drill Sergeant be teaching by punishing everyone? The lesson is simple. Our mistakes impact everyone around us. I would rather those soldiers in training learn that lesson over a Twinkie in a footlocker than an overlooked detail that gets several killed!
Psalm 69:5-6 "O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee. Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel."
David didn't want those who were faithful to the Lord to face reproach or to be confused and frustrated because of what he was facing. Not only was David a sinful man, but he was also facing reproach without just cause. His enemies hated him for no good reason. David was facing hardship from them that was undeserved and unjustified.
1 Peter 3:14 "But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;"
Just as those soldiers in training would happily endure push-ups for letters, there are times when we suffer persecution and reproach for righteousness. It should be something we endure happily for Christ. He has a purpose in it. He, too, suffered persecution for righteousness.
What is frustrating is suffering for someone else's sin. Let it always remind us that our own sin always impacts others.
Update!!! Got a call just now!!! Yay! Love that boy!
You know what the difference between a funnel and a bowl is? It seems pretty obvious. One has a hole in it and the other doesn't. One captures and keeps everything, and the other directs everything to a different location. Both are blessed recipients of things, but only one willingly "spreads the love."
Psalm 67:1-2 "To the chief Musician on Neginoth, A Psalm or Song. God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah. That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations."
The Psalmist was praying for God's mercy and blessing. He wanted God's face to shine upon his people. Why? So they could hoard the blessings? So they could show off to the world how blessed and awesome they were? So they could get so much stuff that they had to build bigger barns to store it all? According to verse 2, he wanted God to pour on the blessings so that the world would know the one true God, His goodness, and His salvation. He wanted the whole world to praise the LORD. For the psalmist, God's blessings were not about him and his people gathering great bounty like a bowl, but it was about being a funnel. He knew the blessings of God in his life could impact the lives of others.
What does this mean for us today? How does this apply in modern times? You know that blessing you received recently? Did you pocket it or did you seek for some way to use it for God's glory and to reach others with the Gospel? That income tax refund you are expecting, are you pretty excited to buy a new gadget or toy? Or are you seeking how you may invest in eternity? That paycheck you receive, do you spend it selfishly serving all your own needs or do you give tithes, offerings, and missions money? Do you help those in need?
If God has your heart, He will have no problem having your pocket book. Your eyes will be focused on eternity and the trinkets of this world will not have the glimmer and sparkle they once had. You will learn to be a funnel instead of a bowl because you will realize how temporary things are on this earth and that eternity matters forever.
Luke 12:34 "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."