Creating Story Tellers | Legacy
Monday— These are the commands… the Lord your God directed me to teach you… so that you, your children and their children… may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands. Deuteronomy 6:1-2
Literacy is a relatively new concept in human history. For centuries, the common people had no way to learn to read or write, so information was handed down from one generation to the next through oral tradition. But this tradition was not like our game of Telephone where the story changes from person to person. A family or a community’s stories, events, and history was considered sacred and not to be embellished. Legends and myths were in a separate category. When God gave Moses the law for Israel, it was engraved on stone tablets. But that law was to be memorized by one generation and repeated to the next.
Part of the law included parents training their children to fear the Lord. That means to honor and approach Him with reverent awe. And God told them how they should show reverent awe: “…by keeping all his decrees and commands.” But reverent awe means it’s not about us, so we’ve invented substitutes that are more to our liking. However, God cares nothing for our passionate singing, hand-raising, or church-attendance IF we live in disobedience the rest of the time. The next generation can spot hypocrisy a mile away. While teaching God’s decrees is important, living them is critical. We “fear the Lord” when we make His word our final authority on everything—every day, in every way, on every topic from sexuality to eternity.
Final Thought: Creating a legacy of reverent awe toward the Lord requires both telling and modeling.
Prayer: Lord, I get lazy about obedience. I tell myself that if I go to church and do some good, you will overlook all the ways my life dishonors you. Please forgive me. May my telling match my living and leave a worthy legacy. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday— We will not hide these truths…we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD. Psalm 78:4
“So, you’ve been a Christian since you were a child, but you’ve never taken your daughter to church? She’s an adult and you’ve never told her about Jesus?” asked the counselor. Zena shook her head, embarrassed. “No. No I haven’t. I guess I wanted her to make up her own mind. I’ve hinted about it…” The counselor looked at his notes. “Okay, so now you’re upset that your daughter is an atheist, suicidal, and she won’t speak to you. Help me understand why this surprises you.”
Does it surprise you? Could you be Zena? We teach our children that a hot stove burns, shoes go on the right feet, and leaning over a third story balcony is dangerous. We don’t hesitate to yank them off the window ledge or jerk their hands away from a flame, but we find it embarrassing to tell them that the God who created them loves them and wants them to know Him. Does that make sense? Maybe you’ve taken your kids to church and told them about God, but did you stop there? If they ask you a basic Bible question, do you know how to find the answer? Do they think that simply believing that God exists is sufficient? God Himself doesn’t think so. He wrote down exactly what Israel was to teach their children about Him. And it’s still in there.
Final Thought: Do your children and grandchildren know who God is and why they should know, love, and obey Him?
Prayer: Lord, reveal to me if I’ve failed in this area. You’ve placed people in my life who need to know you. Have I been faithful to show and tell them? Give me opportunities now to change that. I’ll start by opening your word. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household…to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just. Genesis 18:19
“I just LOVE God!” bubbled Trudy. “He’s my life, my everything!” Winnie gave her a curious look. “Really? I didn’t know that. I mean, I know you like your church. And it’s cool the way they help the town. But I thought people who love God take their Bible seriously.” Trudy frowned. “I do. I have encouraging verses sent to my phone every morning.” Winnie shook her head. “No, I mean, the Christians I’ve known don’t sleep with their boyfriends, party on weekends, or lie to their bosses. You almost brag about doing all that stuff. Hey, I’m not religious, but I always thought people who loved God acted like it the rest of the time.”
When God chose Abraham, it was not so Abe could gush about how much he loved God. Specific instructions came with that choosing. The Bible ALWAYS equates love with obedience. ALWAYS. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). God plucked Abraham out of a sea of pagans in order to create a people that lived separately from the wickedness around them. When He plucks us out of our sea of wickedness, it’s for that same purpose. He expects those He’s saved to represent Him well in an insane world. We start in our own homes, with our children. We live before them what it means to keep the way of the Lord and they, in turn, keep the way of the Lord in their own families. That’s the kind of love God wants.
Final Thought: If you claim to love God, do you “keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just?”
Prayer: Lord, am I fooling myself? Do I keep your ways by doing what is just and right according to your word? Saying I love you doesn’t count if my actions don’t agree with it. Help me learn to keep the way of the LORD. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thursday— After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the LORD… Judges 2:10
Joshua was awesome! Rugged good looks, a backbone of steel, trained by Moses himself, he was a warrior and a great leader. Smart, kind, sensitive, and wholly devoted to the Lord, there weren’t many like Joshua. And he led the people to follow his example. Judges 2:7 says, “The people served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the LORD had done for Israel.” Pretty good legacy. Or was it? Three verses later, Israel is already sliding from God-worship to idol-worship in one generation. Consequences followed. What happened?
Somewhere between spying out the Promised Land and kicking the bucket, Joshua failed to train successors. There was no one after him willing to pick up the mantle and continue the good work he’d done. As long as Josh and his advisors were around, the people listened to them. They took their word about God and all He’d done. But they’d never seen miracles or chosen God for themselves. So when Joshua and his gang were gone, the people looked around for new role models. They picked heathens, idol worshipers, and immoral pagans. God saw, He punished, and the rest fills up the Old Testament.
Final Thought: Are you training the next generation to worship the Lord and follow His commands?
Prayer: Father, show me ways to invest in the next generation so that when my generation is gone, they will carry on what you’ve started. I don’t want them to follow you through me, but to know you for themselves. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Friday— Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power. Psalm 145:4
“And that’s why I don’t want you to experiment with drugs,” said Cal. “These scars remind me every day how foolish I was.”
“And that’s why you’ve had to grow up without a dad,” said Mena. “You’re having to pay for my immoral choices.”
“And that’s why we didn’t lose our house,” said Deb. “We obeyed God with our finances and he protected us in the recession.”
“And that’s why you are part of our family,” said Bob. “God heard our prayers for a child and He gave us you.”
We’ve all got a story. But it only becomes a useful story when we’ve let God turn it around. Sharing with the next generation our mistakes and consequences can keep them from suffering the way we did. Likewise, sharing with them all the ways God has blessed us also benefits them. God is specific about our responsibility to prepare those coming after us. We’re to talk about our failures and His grace, our rebellion and His forgiveness, our foolishness and His patience. But we’re also to highlight His goodness in our struggle, His provision in our need, and His blessing in our obedience. Our stories can entice or repel depending on who the hero is. What do children think when they hear adults bragging about their sexual exploits, laughing about their drunken binges, or boasting about their overspending. When they watch us run to the casino, the dispensary, or the bottle to meet our needs, who’s the hero in those stories? When debauchery is presented as “back when I was cool” and godliness is portrayed as “now that I’m boring,” what does the next generation think about God?
Final Thought: Who is the hero in your life story?
Prayer: Lord, am I still living the parts of my story that encourage sin? Do I think of my sinful past as “the good ol’ days?” What legacy am I leaving? May I start today letting you rewrite my story so that the hero is YOU, not sin. In Jesus’ name, amen.