Monday, June 30, 2014

Will the Next Generation Follow God?

     Each generation is known by certain designations today.  There are the Baby "Boomers"....those born after World War II from 1946 to 1964.  Then there are the Gen X'ers born between 1965 and 1980, and they are followed by the Millennials or Gen Y born between 1981 and 1996.  While each generation is known for certain characteristics, one question remains.  Will the next generation rising up know the Lord?  Looking to the Bible reveals some good lessons for us.
     Following the great victories, miracles and conquests which God provided for the Israelites, Joshua, the son of Nun, died.  All the tribes had their apportioned land that God had given in promise to them.  While the Lord was faithful in His covenant, the children of Israel were not.  We read this sad commentary in Judges 2:10-12:  "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.  Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals.  They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt.  They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them."  What happened to this generation?
Our son Aaron with his firstborn son Aiden
     One of the things we can learn from this passage is that the generation which followed Joshua had not been taught by their fathers about the works of the Lord.  This made them easy prey for the surrounding culture with its foreign gods.  They were seduced because they lacked the knowledge of God and His laws.  This was in violation of what the Lord had specifically told the Children of Israel to do as recorded in Deuteronomy 11:19 concerning the Law:  "Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."  Each generation was called upon to make certain their children knew about the LORD, His commands and precepts.  Yet over and over again in Israel's history, we see evidence of neglect in this area.  The result was a generation that did not know the Lord.
      What we see happening today in our culture is not unlike this picture painted for us in Scripture.
God intends for His people to be salt and light in this world to transform the culture but it seems that the culture is doing more to transform the church.  In some denominations, there is little distinction between their governing bodies actions and the culture around them.  When this happens, Jesus tells us the result in His Sermon on the Mount:  "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot" (Matthew 5:13).
     When we consider what happened in the Old Testament, it was not merely the allure of the pagan nations around them that turned them from the Lord.  Rather, it happened because the believers no longer knew the Lord, His character, and His Laws.  We are seeing much the same today with the rise of abortion, euthanasia, and sexual immorality of all sorts.  There are fewer church members today who have sufficient understanding of the doctrines of the faith taken from Scripture.  As a result, they do not know the Lord and all He has done for them through Christ.  So how do we begin to combat this?
     Our first order of business is to make certain that we teach our children and grandchildren the truth of God's Word.  Read the Bible to them.  My grandfather did this with me.  No storybooks for me.  He read me the Bible.  I did not understand all of it, but I knew it was important to him and I never forgot that.  Then, we must take our children to church...not drop them off but attend with them.  We must pray with them and for them and model our faith before them.  More behavior is caught than taught.  If they see us living for Christ, it sets an example for them.
     Recently, one of our grandsons was having a tough time starting his day.  I could tell he was upset so I asked him if he wanted to pray about it.  He agreed and led in prayer.  I finished it off all while we were traveling together in a car (he is five years old).  His parents are teaching him to turn to God, and I wanted to reinforce that in his life.  God has the answers for us in little and big problems and this is what we want our children and grandchildren to know.
     Within the church itself, we need to be prayer warriors.  Pray for the leadership, the pastors, and for God's Word to penetrate the darkness of the human heart.  If we want to see our churches stand
Our daughter Jordan on the day of Rilyn's baptism with Gavin
for truth despite the assaults of culture that would make it look like the world, then we also need to be willing to roll up our shirt sleeves and be involved.  For example, we can offer a Sunday School Class or Bible study on basic Christian beliefs.  Currently in our church, the pastors and elders are teaching a solid course going over the doctrines of the faith.  It has been a rich blessing to attend this.  As believers we can never get enough of God's Word and truth into our minds.  This is the only way we can stand when the enemy attacks us.
     God has called us to be His ambassadors in this world.  We are called to glorify God, and we do this best when we prepare the next generation to know Him, love Him and serve Him.  However, they will never know Christ if we do not tell them, train them and help them to grow.  We must not fail in our mission to evangelize at home first and then to our neighbors and beyond.  The Lord has called us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only.  Therefore, let us consider how we can begin to teach, train and prepare the next generation that they might know the Lord and live for Him.  Selah!

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