Passing Faith to the Next Generation

As you peruse the pages of the Old Testament, one thing becomes absolutely clear. God does not want His people to forget Him! God knows that when man becomes prosperous his natural proclivity is to forget the one from whom the blessings came. For this reason, over and over again, God reminds us that He is the source of all good things. In order for present and future generations to know God, the parent generation must purposefully expose Him through personal examples and vivid reminders. God states in ;

We will not hide them (God’s works) from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he has done… That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:

In a culture that has a distorted view of the meaning of success, Tim Kimmel aptly defines success as “the conscientious stewarding of future generations.” A steward is someone who carries out the dictates of his master. One significant dictate from the Master (Jesus Christ) to Christian parents is that we show our children and grandchildren the praises of the Lord for the wonderful works we have personally experienced from Him. We must pass on to our children the faith that was delivered to us. Parents cannot and must not assume that their faith will be passed on to their children and their children’s children, but rather parents must purposefully pass on their faith!

We see a lucid example of this in . Joshua gathers all the tribes and leaders of Israel together and reminds them that God has blessed them through His deliverance (), through his protection and provision (), and that God has sanctified them () to be holy.  Joshua in the remaining verses of this chapter does two significant things.  First, he asks the people to make a commitment to put away all false gods and choose to wholly follow Jehovah God. (). Next, he sets up a stone () as a witness (a reminder or memorial) of their commitment to God so that every time they see the stone they will be reminded that they chose to serve God alone!

Unfortunately, a few years later, in we see that the next generation knew God and His works, but there arose another generation who did not know the Lord or the works He had done in Israel. What happened to the commitment and passion of Joshua’s generation?  Because the middle generation failed to describe the details and wonder of the works of God to their cchildren, this third generation did not experience God, became confused, and turned to idolatry.

I’m reminded of the old Scandinavian Proverb that tells of a spider coming down from the lofty rafters of an old barn on a single strand to a window sill. From this window sill, the spider  began to weave a web to a corner in the barn. Over time the spider became very fat and prosperous. One day as the spider walked across the web, he noticed the single strand going up to the unseen above. Forgetting the significance of that single strand, the spider snapped it and his whole world caved in upon him.

Like the spider, the second and third generations described in Judges Chapter two had forgotten the unseen hand of God which had been the source of their many blessings. As a result their whole world began to crumble. God summarizes their condition in when He says that “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes”.

America has been extraordinarily blessed through the providence of God in the forming of this great nation.  God has protected us and provided for us in a way that no other nation has ever experienced!  Yet America has become a post modern nation in which God has become merely an afterthought. How can we as parents practically insure that the faith and works of God that both we and our forefathers witnessed are passed on to future generations?
First, parents and grandparents must humbly and honestly answer several convicting questions:

1. Do you love Jesus more passionately than anything else in this world?
2. Are you willing to destroy the idols in my life (money, sex, pleasures) that are coming between me and my relationship with God?
3. Can your children see and hear your passion for Jesus in your daily conversation and conduct?
    Parents, who cannot answer these questions affirmatively, must repent and allow Jesus to rule supremely in their life. With passion and wonder for our amazing God parents must:

    • Share your salvation experience with your children.
    • Share with your children how God has supernaturally answered specific prayers (healing, finances, protection, ability to have children).
    • Relate stories of special workings of God that happened in your family when you were growing up.
    • Watch DVDs and read books to your children that detail how God providentially directed the founding of America. We recommend resources from historian David Barton.
    Next, follow the example of Joshua by displaying memorials in your home that are a reminder of God’s deliverance, protection, and provision. Then, repeatedly tell your children the story of God working in your life that the memorial represents. Webster defines a memorial as an established remembrance of a person or event. What are some of the works of God in your life and family that can be represented by a memorial of God before your children that they might set their hope in God and not forget His works?

    In a corner of our family room, we propped up a movie reel that represents the first fulltime ministry that God called us to. Twenty five years ago God directed me to establish a Christian theatre outreach to present the truths of God’s Word and principles through Christian films. We have related to our boys numerous stories of how God provided for our family and taught us to depend totally upon Him. The movie reel is a witness not only of the miraculous provision to our family but also a witness to the people that were saved and the lives that were changed by Jesus in that theatre.

    You may also want to consider building a shadow box that houses certain items representing the specific works of God in your life. Place the shadowbox or memorial item in a place where your children will often see it and be reminded of the great works that God has done. You must intentionally and diligently pass on your faith and the great works of God to your children that you might leave a Godly legacy to future generations!

    Suggested Resources:

    Leaving Memorials Message on CD

    How to Keep Dennis from Becoming a Menance message on CD


    Listen

    We will not hide them from their children,
    but tell to the coming generation
    the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
    and the wonders that he has done.

    He established a testimony in Jacob
    and appointed a law in Israel,
    which he commanded our fathers
    to teach to their children,
    that the next generation might know them,
    the children yet unborn,
    and arise and tell them to their children,
    so that they should set their hope in God
    and not forget the works of God,
    but keep his commandments; (ESV)


    Listen

    24:1 Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel. And they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan, and made his offspring many. I gave him Isaac. And to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. And I gave Esau the hill country of Seir to possess, but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt. And I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt with what I did in the midst of it, and afterward I brought you out.

    “‘Then I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and you came to the sea. And the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. And when they cried to the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians and made the sea come upon them and cover them; and your eyes saw what I did in Egypt. And you lived in the wilderness a long time. Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites, who lived on the other side of the Jordan. They fought with you, and I gave them into your hand, and you took possession of their land, and I destroyed them before you. Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and fought against Israel. And he sent and invited Balaam the son of Beor to curse you, 10 but I would not listen to Balaam. Indeed, he blessed you. So I delivered you out of his hand. 11 And you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho, and the leaders of Jericho fought against you, and also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And I gave them into your hand. 12 And I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out before you, the two kings of the Amorites; it was not by your sword or by your bow. 13 I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant.’

    14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

    16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, 17 for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. 18 And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”

    19 But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.” 21 And the people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the Lord.” 22 Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” 23 He said, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord, the God of Israel.” 24 And the people said to Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.” 25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and put in place statutes and rules for them at Shechem. 26 And Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone and set it up there under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. 27 And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us. Therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God.” 28 So Joshua sent the people away, every man to his inheritance.

    29 After these things Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being 110 years old. 30 And they buried him in his own inheritance at Timnath-serah, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash.

    31 Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the Lord did for Israel.

    32 As for the bones of Joseph, which the people of Israel brought up from Egypt, they buried them at Shechem, in the piece of land that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money. It became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph.

    33 And Eleazar the son of Aaron died, and they buried him at Gibeah, the town of Phinehas his son, which had been given him in the hill country of Ephraim. (ESV)


    Listen

    And I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt with what I did in the midst of it, and afterward I brought you out.

    “‘Then I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and you came to the sea. And the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. (ESV)


    Listen

    And when they cried to the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians and made the sea come upon them and cover them; and your eyes saw what I did in Egypt. And you lived in the wilderness a long time. Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites, who lived on the other side of the Jordan. They fought with you, and I gave them into your hand, and you took possession of their land, and I destroyed them before you. Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and fought against Israel. And he sent and invited Balaam the son of Beor to curse you, 10 but I would not listen to Balaam. Indeed, he blessed you. So I delivered you out of his hand. 11 And you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho, and the leaders of Jericho fought against you, and also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And I gave them into your hand. 12 And I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out before you, the two kings of the Amorites; it was not by your sword or by your bow. 13 I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant.’ (ESV)


    Listen

    14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. (ESV)


    Listen

    15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (ESV)


    Listen

    26 And Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone and set it up there under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. 27 And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us. Therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God.” (ESV)


    Listen

    10 And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.

    11 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. 12 And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger. 13 They abandoned the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. (ESV)

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