Story, Wk. 8 10/30/16—Highland—Meute
The Story: “Mind the Gap”
The Story, Ch. 8;
Judges 2: 1-10
Pearl: Make sure to pass the faith on to the next generation.
Function: To motivate the current generation to intentionally work to pass the faith on to the next generation.
Previously… in The Story, the people of God gained passage into the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua, the protégé of Moses. God’s special people became residents of their new world: the land of promise. But it did not take long for the people to stray from the Lord (just like in the wilderness).
1. It happened in typical human fashion. The people were busy settling in. They were busy, you see! They had things to do. They had a way of life to establish. God, their deliverer, began to be forgotten.
2. Perhaps one of the greatest reasons that they were headed for disaster was that they forgot the Lord their God and there was a failure of transfer from one generation to the next generation. They were not diligent to tell their children of the goodness and graciousness of the Lord their God.
a. The very thing that the Lord warned them about was coming to pass. He told them to “remember.” But they forgot.
b. It is said that, “Christianity is always one generation away from extinction.”
3. This speaks of the need for parents and adult believers to be diligent in passing along the love and adoration of the Lord who loves us.
a. Very early in the Book of Judges it is written: “…that whole generation was gathered to their ancestors, and another generation grew up after them, who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10). How could they not know?
b. Through the rest of the Book of Judges is recorded the repeating cycles of social chaos as a result of not “transferring the faith to the next generation and the generation after that and so on.”
c. “Minding the ‘Generation’ Gap” so that there is the continual transfer of the faith to the next generation requires the best thinking and planning of the church!
4. How can we ensure it?
a. I ran across a post entitled the “20 Hymns that Your Children Should Know.” Of course, you are now curious which hymns made the list.
i. They are:
1. The Day Though Gavest, Lord, Is Ended
2. Morning Has Broken
3. Come, Christians, Join to Sing
4. When In Our Music God is Glorified
5. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
6. Come, Thou Almighty King
7. For All the Saints
8. Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
9. Of the Fathers Love Begotten
10. All People that On Earth Do Dwell
11. Holy God, We Praise Thy Name
12. Now Thank We All Our God
13. O God, Our Help in Ages Past
14. The Church’s One Foundation
15. Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
16. All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
17. All Creatures of our God and King
18. Jesus Shall Reign
19. A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
20. Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty
a. The congregation added:
b. Amazing Grace
c. Onward Christians Soldiers
d. Jesus Loves Me
e. Great Is Thy Faithfulness
f. How Great Thou Art
g. In the Garden
b. Apparently you should give the next generation a “sound track” to help pass on the faith to the next generation.
i. I conducted a small test on my own children, now adults, who were brought to worship regularly and who I know were exposed to many of these hymns as well as many other hymns and spiritual songs.
ii. I asked them to tell me what hymns or spiritual songs they remember and treasure. I am sad to report that none of the above were mentioned. I got “Lamb of God,” and “The Lord’s Prayer.” Three PKs did not have any of these songs in their sound track!
5. How can we ensure the transfer of the faith to the next generation so that Christianity does not go extinct? It is very important that you show the young people God gave you genuine love and affection.
a. There is a display table in the entrance to the church with the names of 14 young college students from or related to this congregation. You are being asked to help fill care packages which will be sent to them. This is an action to help pass on the faith to our young adults. Please participate in this activity by jotting down some encouraging words on the cards and do it today—they are about to be sent.
b. The Over 80’s Birthday Party today is a way to honor and thank the many who passed on the faith to many of you present today.
c. I cannot stress enough the importance of genuinely transferring the gospel on to future generations!
Because of the failure to transfer the faith as reported in the Book of Judges so began repeating cycles of waywardness, woe, repentance, deliverance. This very old story is also an up-to-date story. We go through ups and downs, even cycles which range from trusting and serving God to ignoring and walking away from God.
1. God’s people did not tell their children about the God who loved them, his ways, his grace and goodness toward them. So they did as they wished. They did whatever they wanted. And so God allowed them to be overrun by neighboring nations. They were oppressed by Mesopotamians, Moabites, Canaanites, Midianites, Ammonites, and Philistines.
a. The oppression of these nations was not just short-lived. The Mesopotamian oppression was for 8 years; the Moabite oppression was for 18 years; the Canaanite oppression was for 20 years; the Midianite oppression was for 7 years; the Ammonite oppression—18 years; and the Philistine oppression—40 years.
b. This added up to a grand total of 111 years of oppression at the hands of their enemy nations.
2. At certain low points with each nation God’s people would somehow remember the Lord their God who loved them and they would cry out to him for deliverance.
a. Each time God provided for them a Judge (Deliverer/Leader).
i. Othniel was the leader against the Mesopotamians.
ii. Ehud brought deliverance from the Moabites.
iii. Deborah did so with the Canaanites.
iv. Gideon from the Midianites.
v. Jephthah from the Ammonites.
vi. And finally, most notably, Samson from the Philistines.
3. The cycles of human faithfulness to waywardness went like this:
a. The people wandered—forgot their God—sin and chaos would multiply.
b. God allowed them to experience the results of their forgetting their protector and savior. And they were overrun and oppressed.
c. They came to their senses, remembering the God who loved them, and they cried out to him for forgiveness—repenting.
d. God orchestrated their deliverance by providing human leaders—Judges.
4. It is important to notice something wonderful!
a. One of the pastors in my Story preparation meeting suggested that people should read through the entire book of Judges to notice the mercy and compassion of the Lord! No matter how many times the people would stray from God he was always ready and willing to send a Deliverer to turn things around for His people.
5. This is the God we know! Here is the God we know and love, working his grace in the stark pages of the Old Testament book of Judges!
a. God always readily responds to people when they repent! His compassion and mercy are without end.
The Lord who loves you is always faithful and he responds to his fickle people time after time. He responded this way for many reasons, mostly known only to God. Two likely reasons were:
1. He wanted to demonstrate to his people and to the on-looking nations that he was a compassionate and gracious God.
2. He wanted to demonstrate that he responds when people cry out to him. He wants to be known as the loving, living God who is gracious and merciful. He wanted to show that when people pray, God responds with deliverance.
Our challenge today is to be aware of the human tendency toward cycles of forgetting God. The “life that is really life” is marked by a constancy of faithfulness to God.
1. Your challenge is to worship and serve the Lord over the long haul.
2. Your challenge is to continually seek signs of his reign or kingdom and to point out these signs and amplify these ways to the world with your lives.
3. Your challenge is to raise up your young ones in the knowledge of the God who loves them so that they will love him in relationship and to serve him in this needy world.
4. Your challenge is to avoid the cycles of unfaithfulness and to “…run with perseverance the race that is before you, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of your faith…” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Will you rise to the occasion as a church and make sure to “transfer to the next generation?” If it is true that the church is always one generation away from extinction, then this is surely at the heart of everything the church is about today!