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:"
So why did my boy join the Army?
Was it because he wasn't smart enough for college?
Ha! Hardly. The boy was scoring college level on his national tests at 6th grade. He almost won the geography bee when he was a 4th grader going against 8th graders. He dominated the first and second rounds. He defeated everyone, but they had to have a competitor to hold a third round. The kid is brilliant.
Was it because he had nothing better to do?
He has been dreaming of this his whole life. Always in camo. Always collecting the gear. Always reading books, memorizing history and weaponry, and studying Christian military heroes. He told his grandmother, "I just want to do something that makes a difference."
Maybe he is doing what we have always taught him. We drug him to the other side of the world to make a difference. We taught him to run toward danger instead of away from it to rescue people from the fire physically and spiritually. He didn't hesitate to help dig people out of the rubble when a disaster hit the week of his 16th birthday. When most kids are celebrating their licenses, he was helping distribute emergency food. When most kids were cruising the roads of the USA wasting time, he was building emergency shelters and loving it.
Did it surprise me that he chose combat medic as his MOS? No, actually... somehow it seemed to fit just perfectly.
Does it make me sad that we are on the other side of the world and will not get to be there for his graduation in March? Yes, a little. But we are doing what we are supposed to be doing, and he is doing what he is supposed to be doing. Somehow God has used that to bring comfort, knowing we are all where we are supposed to be.
Jude 1:22 "And of some have compassion, making a difference:"
OK, you can laugh a little.
Honestly, my daughter and I laughed a lot.
Since my son recently went into Army Basic Training, I have been scouring through every photo posted from his battery on the internet. I haven't seen my son since July when he returned to the States, so these pictures are priceless to me. Every morning I get up to see if new pictures are posted of my SIT (Soldier In Training). I go to bed at night thinking about the possibility of pictures being posted. It's my last thought at night and my first thought in the morning. When pictures are finally posted, I go on a "Where's Waldo" adventure... Only, all these Waldos are wearing the same clothes! There is only one difference. Sometimes they are wearing color-coded and numbered jerseys.
About a week ago, the first round of pictures was posted. I spotted him in two pictures! My heart soared! I saved the pictures to my phone. I even put one on my phone as a wallpaper. It was a side shot of him putting on gloves as his platoon was in formation. They were wearing toboggans and his collar covered part of his face, but I would know my son's profile anywhere! The other picture was from a distance and slightly blurry, but he was tall and stood just like my son. Yep. That's my boy!
This week, a new set of pictures was posted. There he was in several pictures! Two of them were close-ups. Definitely my boy! But I noticed his jersey number in these pictures was different than in his other pictures. I thought that was very strange, so I did some research. I asked other Army Moms and wives. They assured me that the soldiers always wear the same jersey number. So for a week, I have had the picture of some stranger's son on my phone thinking it was my kid and staring at it every chance I got!
What a thrill to find the real deal, though. Sometimes we think we know our kids and that we could spot them anywhere. We think we know what they are like. Then we realize we didn't know them as well as what we thought we did.
We are like that with the Lord, too. We are convinced we know Him, but then as we get into the Word, we learn what He is really like. Just as my son's real jersey number identifies him without a doubt, the Bible points to the real God so that there is no mistaking who He is and what He is really like.
What if we had the same level of hunger to see Him that I have had for my son? What if He was our first thought in the morning and our last thought at night? What if we went scouring through the Bible daily to seek Him?
Psalm 63:1 "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;"
Psalm 63:6 "When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches."
Psalm 63:8 "My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me."
Often we have imagined in our minds what God is like, but if we had a hunger and appetite for Him we would get into the Bible to see what He is really like. Just as finding the real pictures of my real son gave me great satisfaction and confidence, so does getting in the Word give satisfaction and confidence because we get to know who the Lord really is. When we have a false view of God in our minds, it's like having some other mom's son's picture on your phone. It will make you smile until you realize that isn't your son! Then it will make you feel quite silly. I could keep that other guy's picture on my phone and pretend it's my boy, but why do that when I can have the real deal? And why be satisfied with a facsimile of God that we have created in our own minds when we can get in the Word and get the real picture of who He is?
Psalm 63:5 "My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:"
How hungry are we for the real deal? Are we satisfied with a fake view of the Lord? Are we hungry enough to go searching, seeking Him early and daily? Are we convinced we know Him enough already? We just might be surprised that our view was wrong all along.
Everyone here misses our oldest child. They keep asking about him and how he is doing. (Our son returned to the States and he enlisted in the military.) One of the questions that they often ask is what would happen if our son decided he didn't want to be a soldier anymore. We tell them of the serious consequences of going AWOL (absent without leave). Our son made a commitment to the military for a certain amount of time, and he is obligated to fulfill that commitment.
Psalm 65:1 "Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion: and unto thee shall the vow be performed."
The children of Israel, including David, also made a vow. Their vow was to praise the Lord for His goodness, blessings, and provision. This Psalm goes on to tell of how good God had been to them and how worthy He is of praise.
Do we have a commitment to praise the Lord? We should. He certainly is worthy. We should commit to praising Him every day, and we should take that vow seriously. Too often, though, we are AWOL in our praise. Circumstances are tough or we are tired or our day didn't go as expected, so we decide to skip praising the Lord. We take a day or two (or several) off from singing and shouting His praises. Isn't He still faithful and good even on days when we don't feel like praising Him?
One day last week, I saw a picture of my son online. His platoon was doing their physical training (PT) at 5:30 AM in the winter... outside. I bet he wasn't feeling like being a soldier at that time in the morning, but he manned up and broke a sweat with the rest of his platoon. My boy doesn't like to be cold, but he made a commitment and even at 5:30 in the morning he was determined to keep that commitment.
Some days, we just aren't going to feel like doing our PT (Praise and Thanksgiving). On those days we need to remind ourselves of our commitment and God's worthiness. We need to be sure we don't go AWOL on our worship and praise. God never goes AWOL on His grace and mercy!