Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Hearts of the Fathers

 Father’s Day is just a week away and is a day we as a society have set aside to honor our fathers for the sacrifices they have made for us. While I deeply appreciate the sacrifices and sense of duty exhibited by my own father on this day, as a father myself, I can’t help but to also contemplate the station of my own children. The question that comes to mind is, “Am I doing all I can to prepare them for the times just ahead?” There’s a passage in Malachi chapter 4 that keeps preying on my mind. Let’s take a look at it.

Malachi 4:4-6 (KJV)  Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.  (5)  Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:  (6)  And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

That spirit of concern for our children’s welfare lies heavy with us even today. As we fathers get older and get a glimpse of the end of our days just over the horizon, we have a natural tendency to wonder if the next generation coming up is ready - to make the proper decisions for their future and to lead others. Have they been prepared sufficiently? Are they ready?

My message today is generally directed to the men but I hope the women will listen too because if my message today is not effective, it will be left up to them to pick up the slack. The title is – The Hearts of the Fathers

What happens to nations, communities, and churches after the elder generation passes on is dependent on how effective their efforts have been to prepare the ones coming up. But, it is also incumbent on the next generation to learn from their fathers how they apply God’s laws and principles in their lives and to earnestly take hold of the reins and take responsibility themselves for their own preparation. 
Greatest Generation - born 1901 to 1924 – Age in 2012 – 88 to 111
Silent Generation - born 1925 to 1945 – Age in 2012 – 67 to 87
Baby Boom I Generation – born 1946 to 1954 – Age in 2012 – 58 to 66
Baby Boom II Generation – 1955 to 1964 – Age in 2012 – 48 to 57
Generation X – born 1965 to 1981 – Age in 2012 – 31 to 47
Generation Y (Millennials) – born 1982 to 1994 – Age in 2012 – 18 to 30
Generation Z – 1995 to 2012 – Age in 2012 – 1 to 17
Let’s take a look at what can happen to the next generation after the fathers have passed on. Turn to Joshua chapter 24.

Joshua gathered all the elders and the leaders of Israel just prior to his death for one last confirmation of the covenant they had made with God. This was after they had already crossed over the Jordan into the Promised Land back in chapter 2. These are men in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and even 50’s. This is Joshua speaking the words God gave him to speak to them.

Joshua 24:13-31  (KJV) And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.  (14)  Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.  (15)  And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD(16)  And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;   

(21)  And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.  (22)  And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.  (23)  Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel(24)  And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.

So these men swore their allegiance to the LORD, to serve and obey Him only. Let’s see how they did.

Judges 2:7-14 (KJV) And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.  (8)  And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.  (9)  And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash.  (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 for Israel(11)  And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:  (12)  And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger.  (13)  And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.  (14)  And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.

How could this have happened? Why? Joshua and all the generation who were children in the wilderness and grew up witnessing God’s miracles died off. Without the leadership they provided, the next generation went the way of Baalim. They didn’t learn what they needed to from the elders while they were still alive. They did their own thing. They left the spiritual welfare of the nation to the fathers. They didn’t take the faith of their fathers to heart and make it their own. Much like what we see in this country today.

Each of us has to figure out for ourselves when it’s time to put away childish things and get on with the weightier matters. (1Cor 13:11). Do we say we’re too busy to study God’s word and too busy to pray but somehow have time to play video games and fantasy football and the like and watch TV? For some “guys” that day for putting away childish things never comes. They are forever locked into the role of children never taking the reins of responsibility for themselves, their families, their communities, and even their churches.

Let me ask you a question guys –

When you speak of yourself, do you say, “I’m the kind of guy who does thus and so”? Or do you say, “I’m the kind of man who does thus and so”? It’s a matter of self-perception. At what point do you stop thinking of yourself as one of the “guys” and start thinking of yourself as a “man”? Unfortunately, as I said for some that day never comes.

We need men who are ready for the troublous times just ahead. When faced with these spiritual and physical challenges, are we prepared such that we can make the right decisions? Will we recognize the counterfeit Christs and false doctrine that will be presented to us? Are our lamps filled with oil? Are we spending time daily in God’s word, in study and in prayer? Or are we thinking that when the time comes and it all comes unraveled, we’ll be told by the elders what to do? Or we don’t need to prep just yet, there’s still plenty of time. I need to focus on my career or spend more time with my friends right now. Besides, there are men in the Church who are more knowledgeable than I am who will tell us what we need to do.

Well, I’m here to tell you, these men, these elders, are not going to be here forever! We better listen to what they have to say while we still can.

We’re told that a deception is coming that will be so believable that if possible even the very elect will be deceived. (Mat24:24) When it does, it will be too late then to cram for the exam! How can we recognize a counterfeit unless we’re intimately familiar with the genuine? There will come a time when we’ll have to stand on our own two feet, to prove all things for ourselves and choose which way to go. And if we’re not thoroughly grounded in the truth, we’re going to have a hard time figuring it out. And that decision will be the most important decision we’ve ever made, a matter of life and death. There will be no grey area. There will be no compromise or choosing some combination of both. It will be either one or the other - Good or Evil; Light or Darkness.
Do we have the love of the truth or will we fall victim to strong delusion and believe the lie? (2Thes 2:10-11) Are we prepared to be able discern the genuine from the counterfeit?

Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus to beware of just such a deception and to be firmly grounded in the faith.

Ephesians 4:1, 14-15  (KJV) (1) I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, [This is my message here today]

(14) That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  (15)  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

If we’re not in the word every day learning God’s truth and proving it for ourselves, how will we be able to confidently make the right decision when the time comes? It comes down this. Why are we here? This is a proving ground to see whether we will follow God or not. All these earthly pursuits are vanity, just distractions that will come to nothing. What matters most is our spiritual preparation to serve God no matter what, even unto death. (Rev 12:11) We better get on the stick, time’s getting short! And we better listen to these men, these men that we look up to in the church. We’re not here to be entertained by their sermons. We’re here to learn from them. Turn your hearts to the fathers! Spend time with them. Learn what they know and what they think, how they apply God’s laws in their lives before they’re no longer with us. Then prove it for yourself from the word of God!

Gentlemen, how long will it be before you’re no longer one of the “guys”?
Hezekiah was only 25 years old when he began to clean up the kingdom of Judah. (2Kings 18:2)
Josiah was only 26. (2Kings 22:1-3)

Jesus Christ was only 30. (Luke 3:23)

To those of the elder generations, I know that the daily grind amidst a world that just doesn’t get it and doesn’t want to, tends to wear on you but I beg of you, don’t give up on us just yet! Turn your hearts to the children. Despite how weary you may be, and though you may be as Paul was toward the end of his life, in a strait betwixt a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better (Php 1:21-26) I beseech you that it is more needful for you to be with us. And I ask, I pray, that you reach deep down and find the reserves you have left and give it all you got to prepare us to carry on and to stand in the gap after you’re gone lest we go the way of Baalim and Ashtaroth!



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I strive to be as the Bereans spoken of in Acts 17:10-11 receiving the word with all readiness of mind, and searching the scriptures daily, whether those things are so. Check up on me in your own bible. Should you find me in error please let me know immediately. We must prove all things (1Thes 5:21) and rightly divide the word of truth (2Tim 2:15) together lest we be deceived. (Matt 24:24)

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Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

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