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Faithfulness with the Next Generation 3 – Sermon Notes

By March 17, 2024Sermon Notes

We moved to Wichita in 1969, when I was 11.

A couple of months after we moved here,  Woodstock, took place in New York State…drawing almost half a million people to a farmers field for a music festival…it spotlighted the generational differences of the time.

The spring after we moved here, the tragic Kent State shooting by the National guard captured the nation’s attention…and highlighted the generational tensions.

These events were part of what defined that generation…and the many differences with the ones before it…that generation, my generation, came to be called…Baby Boomers.

Now boomers are between the ages of 60-78.

We, judged our parents, we were happy to blame “that” generation for many things.

Then we were up next…how did we do?  How are we doing?

Well, we are mixed bag…like every generation.

We are getting blamed for stuff and mocked for being out of touch (“okay, boomer”)…but we had it coming…it’s what we did to our parents.

But every generation…has blamed the one before.

Adam could only blame woman who blamed the serpent…so it is a very old custom.

Mike and the Mechanics had what was, for me, a moving hit song in 1989 called “The Living Years.”

BA Robertson, wrote the song after his dad died and his own son was born just three months later.

He mourned the fact that he had had permanently unresolved conflict with this dad…now he is a dad himself.

He is wrestling with this generational challenge (maybe “curse”) of…judging the generation before, then realizing…you are up next…are you ready?

And the reality of generational regret…it’s too late, when we die, to admit we don’t see eye to eye.

I was going to read the lyrics as an illustration of how painful and poignant this generational conflict is…but Rodney said he can sing it…that’s way better.

This is not a worship song, it is an illustration set to melody…but by hearing both the words and the melody, you can get both the content and the feeling of what the composer was experiencing.

The song gives voice to what has been the norm in regards to generational pain and discord…and I want you to hear it because today we are going to celebrate how the gospel tranforms this into generational forgiveness, trust, and mutual influence.

I know that song evokes strong feelings of sadness, regret in some of you…please don’t check out…we will end with transformational hope…hope for all of us.

For the past two weeks the focus has been on how we are to be faithful in our stewardship with the next generation.

Today, I want to challenge you, if you consider yourself to be a part of the next generation.

It is your turn this morning.

Blaming the last generation has never served to help anyone step into their own stewardship…when it is their turn.

Every current generation whose turn it is…leading government, and churches, and business, and education, and science…was in the very recent past…the next generation.

Then…suddenly, they were up…it’s their turn…where they ready?

Not if they blamed rather than prepared.

You will be up, sooner than you can imagine…are you getting ready?

Sure, we have stewardship to be faithful with the next generation…but you have a stewardship to be faithful AS the next generation.

To prepare now…to train guard your hearts, now…to train for your roles, now.

You can blame shift…you can find reasons why it is harder for you than others in the past…or why we messed it up…or you can train…I suggest you train

It’s better, way better.

Let’s go to Deuteronomy  6

 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one., Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead., Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates. Deut. 6:4-9

Before we unpack and apply this passage, let’s get the historical/theological setting.

Moses had led the people through the Exodus from Egypt

They had spent a year at Mt Sinai, God gave them the covenant…they would be his people and he committed himself to them.

-They would thrive as his people and be a light to the nations if they remained faithful to the covenant requirements.

-The law given at Sinai, if read through the eyes of its original time and setting was revolutionary…unlike anything the world had seen…not surprising, it came from God.

Then they embarked on the disastrous trip through the wilderness towards the promised land.

Starting at the very time Moses was getting the covenant…Israel was blowing the opportunity given them

While God was giving Moses his covenant promises and requirements, they were at the base of the mountain worshipping an idol.

They rebelled all along the way and finally an entire generation, including Moses was disqualified from entering the promised land.

They dropped the ball.

In Deuteronomy, Moses is standing in front of a new generation explaining God’s word and challenging that generation to be faithful unlike their parents had been.

He summarizes the story so far, including how the previous generation rebelled, and though God did not abandon them…they were not faithful and so they would not experience the full promise of God

He turns the challenge to them; you are up next…”You need to be more faithful than your parents were.”

Moses dies, in sight of the promised land and Joshua assumes command.

He repeats the challenge to the people and tells them to “Choose!  Decide and now live decided.”

Spoiler alert…if you haven’t read the Old Testament…the next generation acts just like their parents had…they failed to be faithful.

They also drop the ball…this goes on to the very end of the Old Testament.

But that is not the end of the story…and after we work through our passage we will focus on the “rest of the story”…the gospel.

Now let’s walk through the passage

Listen Israel

“Listen” is not merely hear.

Listen is,  prepare to obey.

Military, “Attention”…means get ready to respond.

Like a parent who says, “Listen to me!”

They are saying…do what I am telling you to do.

Last week, we talked about how there is no understanding without a prior commitment to obedience.

When you read the liberal theologians…that is a descriptive, not a derogatory term…They sat in judgment on the Bible using their own minds.

In them you can see intelligent men who became fools because they put their own minds above the mind of God…they did not start with a posture of “Speak Lord, and I will obey.”

They decided, starting with themselves, what part of Scripture was true and what was not.

If Scripture does not judge our thoughts, then our thoughts judge it.

This is very different than using our minds to understand what God has said, it is using our minds to judge what God has said.

In more recent times you have what is called Post-modern theologians telling us that Scripture can essentially mean whatever you or the culture around you, say it means.

The classical liberals used their own reason to tell us what is true and what is not.

The postmodern theologians tell us that Scripture can mean whatever we want it to mean…we get to decide our own truth.

So, Scripture is interpreted by our minds or by our moods and emotions and cultural trends.

It does not correct us, shape us…it mirrors us…we read into it rather than reading out of it.

Both of these approaches are quite old and they have always been a disaster.

So, when  Moses says, “Listen” or “hear”…he is saying…”Be ready to obey, if you really want to understand.”

Like Jesus saying, “For him who has ears to hear.”

Of course, they had physical ears, he was addressing the necessity of having hearts ready to obey if they were to understand.

Listen up…get ready to respond, unlike your parents did.

The Lord our God, the Lord is one

This is a precise and concise statement of allegiance to the one true God.

The God who had revealed himself to Israel in history…through his mighty acts and who had interpreted those acts (told them what they mean) through Moses and his own direct words, is the creator of all things and the one for whom all things exist.

This is their big “Why”.

Without a foundational “why” the what’s of our lives are random, and ultimately meaningless.

In a world full of idols and false gods…this is a declaration of ultimate reality and ultimate loyalty.

The one true God, is to be your single object of worship, allegiance and affection

He is the point of you.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

This allegiance to the one true God is not barren legalism it is a relationship of love.

Jesus describes this as the first and great commandment.

This is the beating heart, of what it means to be his covenant people.

Love is volition not mere emotion…it involves every part of who we are as humans.

Heart: Is the thinking, choosing, you.

Soul: Source of being, the real eternal you.

Strength: Effort, volition, grit

He is not dividing us up into component parts, quite the opposite.

He is saying…love God with your whole being…make him the center of your life’s purpose and devotion.

Don’t give him a portion of you…give him all of who you are…he has made you, you exist for his glory.

These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart.

Here we get a hint of the “rest of the story”.

The words of God are not just to be written on external tablets of stone, but to be inscribed in our hearts.

This is what the prophets said will be the hallmark of the New Covenant in Christ.

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Jeremiah 31:33

Historically, and still to this day, some have tried to make a kind of hard and fast distinction between God’s words in Scripture and relationship with God as a person.

Of course, there is a difference between God and the Bible…just as there is a difference between me and the words I am speaking now…but these are my words…there cannot be a false distinction between me and what comes from me.

God has revealed himself in the Bible…it is his word.  It reveals him to us.

He has chosen to use words, and written them down to make us wise for salvation and to enable us to know how to live faithful lives…we know him through his words.

We know him generally through what he has made (Rom 1), but we know him personally through his revealed words.

Some have tried to interpret the Bible through what they call the lens of “Jesus”…what this means is they start with their own ideas of who Jesus is…then, they decide what parts of the Bible fit that idea.

But we know Jesus from the gospels, the words written there.

If we don’t pay attention to the words of Scripture then we will not being transformed into the image of Jesus; he will be transformed into our image.

Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit comes, as he did on the Day of Pentecost and the church was birthed…he would bring to their minds what Jesus had taught.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

John 14:26

The Holy Spirit is not going to lead contrary to what has been written in Scripture.

To try and separate relationship with God from God’s word is like saying to your spouse …”I am going to disregard what you say and just focus on relationship with you.”

Of course, that would lead to no relationship at all.

So, to know God accurately and to love him as he actually is…we must give full effort to understanding his word.

A word used to describe the Bible is “perspicuity” (purse puh cu ity)(or clarity)

This means that Scripture is able to be understood by normal Christians…

it doesn’t require special insight, or a pair of golden glasses, like Joseph Smith, supposedly was given…as he founded the heresy called the Mormons

Or a church hierarchy, like in Roman Catholicism to tell you what it means.

You can read the bible and know God.

However, this doesn’t mean we don’t need the many gifts God has given the church in scholars and experts in biblical language and history.

It also doesn’t mean we can have understanding without effort.

One writer calls this “perspicuity and perspiration.” “Grace and Grit”

We can know it…God has given us his clear word

But it takes effort

You might think…”But this shouldn’t require this much effort.”


Tell me of a good thing in your life that didn’t take effort.

Tell me of a good relationship you have with another person that doesn’t take great effort.

So, Moses…a really smart guy…who was very close to God…and who paid a price to know God…and was used by God to write the first books of the Bible…gives the next generation this challenge about God’s covenant stipulations.

 Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead., Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates. Deut. 6:4-9

What we have is Moses telling the generation who is up next, to be faithful with the generation that will follow them…get ready to get your kids ready.

Here you have a training strategy to make sure the Covenant Word of God gets fully embedded into their lives…in order for them to be able to have a full…heart, soul, strength love relationship with God.

This is not earning relationship with God through effort…this is effort to enjoy relationship with God and training to be faithful to God.

What was meant to be a metaphor…bind them on your hand, make them into a symbol on your forehead was turned into a literal command by the Jews of Jesus’ time.

But the point was that you should so embed the word of God in your life that it directs your thoughts(head) and actions(hands)…it sets the course of your life.

This was never mean to be mere symbolism without substance or ritualism without relationship.

If was meant be a practical strategy to know and love God…and to pass this knowledge and love on through the generations.

So, if you have scripture written on pictures or wall hangings in your house or office, that is fine…but it is not the point here.

The point is that Scripture must shape your beliefs, values, and behaviors as you walk out the door of your house into your cars and drive down Kellogg and sit in your office as you do business.

Scripture shapes how you respond to your family as you walk back through the door of your house and deal with dinner and diapers and discipline.

All of this, because you are training (not merely trying) to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength…and you want the next generation to see it and embrace it themselves.

How did it go?

This was the challenge of Moses, Joshua picked it up and delivered the same essential challenge after he assumed command.

How did the people respond?

Of course, you already know…not well.

But that doesn’t mean we throw up our hands and say, “what is the use!

Paul wrote this…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 14:4

Paul wrote that from the perspective of the finished work of God in Christ.

Now, we have the Spirit of God in us.

We have the Gospel hope and Gospel power.

We have the promise that he who began this work in us will complete it.

We don’t have to drop the ball.

  1. If you have been given a broken heritage, you have the high calling of breaking a generational curse.

-My dad did this for me…I will be forever grateful.

You can spend time and energy asking “why” your parents didn’t do better than they did.

If you were handed a crooked heritage, why not give your full effort and energy to making straight paths for those who will come next?

It’s okay to be sad about things done or not done to you, it can be okay to explore what got you here…but don’t get stuck in their failure.

If you are next…you are responsible for your own choices, you have the opportunity to experience God in powerful ways.

The gospel is your hope…it is your new birthright, your new inheritance.

You can complain, you can blame…maybe with good reason in your case.

But here is the good news…you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

God’s sovereign foundations in your life are part of his plan for your life.

You can set a new course

Going forward, the gospel promise is straight and level paths for your feet as you walk faithfully with him.

Here is your spiritual inheritance in Christ.

Eph. 1

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory

  1. If you have guilt for failure with your own children…

The gospel covers all of your sins and failures.

Now, you don’t have to wallow in the pig mud like the unreturned prodigal son.

You are celebrated by your Father as the fully forgiven returned child of God.

  1. If you are up next, train now to be ready

Again, don’t waste time in the blame game.

Let’s finish by going back to Deut 6 and make our final applications.

This is specifically for those of you are up next…but we can all take these challenges, and opportunities to heart.

We will use Four action verbs…from that passage.

  1. Decide
  2. Reject
  3. Love
  4. Train


  1. Decide


To hear means to pre-decide to obey.

To know how to live, to know what matters the most, to have wisdom…we have to pre-decide to obey.

When I was 20, I decided I was going to follow Christ…I have not lived deciding since.

I have made plenty of mistakes, I have sinned and confessed a bunch.

But just like with Christy…I said “I do” to her in 1983…I have not asked day by day, “do I still?”

Now, I have been plenty selfish…not even close to perfect…but I have had a settled direction with her.

By God’s grace…I have lived a very imperfect but decided life with him as well.

My point of this is…we have been trained  by culture and our own experience…to believe we cannot  truly live “decided.”

I mean our failures…prove this…right?

No, they don’t…we can lived decided AND we mess up, fess up, move on.

“But Terry, who knows if you can stay faithful in marriage, there too many factors outside your control.”

“Who knows if you can stay faithful to Christ, there too many factors outside your control.”

No, faithfulness only has one factor…you…you decide.

God is all for it…it is up to you to be for it as well.

This is meant to give hope

If you believe faithfulness, living decided, is something outside your control…that it is a coin toss…it is like trying to control the weather…you will not live decided.

Why would you?

But you can decide…it is possible…you need to know that.

You can, even with your parents such as they were…decide and live decided.

Living decided will include failure and forgiveness…but you can and you must decide.

There is nothing stopping you…you get to decide.

  1. Reject

Reject all idols.

The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

Your heart was made for him.

If you wrap it around anything other than him it will break your heart and your life.

You cannot put Pepsi in your gas tank and expect your car to work and not be ruined.

You cannot allow your heart to wrap around any idol and expect it to not ruin you.

Reject all gods except the one true God

They will all rip you off.

  1. Love

Love him.

Obey him. Fear him…yes, but love him.

I obeyed my dad, and as a child I feared him…but I loved him dearly.

I feared him not because he would harm me…but because of my deep, deep reverence for him.

Learn to love God by investing in him.

Your heart will follow your investments.

What you love right now is the result of the investments you have made…it is really that simple.

You choose who or what you will love by choosing your investments.

So love for God is more about living decided, than chasing an emotion of devotion

  1. Train

Invest yourself in the Word of God.

Know it to know and love him and to make his love known.

Who cares if you can win arguments…that is such nonsense and not the point…know God’s word to love God.

You have questions, doubts, struggles to regarding Scripture…okay…but at some point, you must decide to put your faith in the God who has spoken through the Bible

Then you must train, throughout your life to understand and apply his word.

You have your ultimate authority…everyone does.

The choices are: You can trust yourself, or some other human, or God.

Train to trust God…he has graciously made himself known through his word.

Write his word on metaphorical sticky notes of your life and put them in every part of your life…so when you look around at the world, you see what is actually real and true.

When you are lonely…you see loneliness through the Word of God.

When you are tempted…you see that temptation through the Word of God.

When you are successful and happy…when you are sick, or dying…you see it all through the Word of God.

Train to trust him…but embedding his word in your whole life.

A final word to all the generations here:

The local church is the unique place in the world where multi-generational love, influence, impact and synergy happens…it flows up and down the ages.

Here, the next generation doesn’t blame the one before…they forgive and learn from our mistakes and from our wisdom.

My generation doesn’t judge and pigeon hole the ones who are up next…at least we shouldn’t…we mentor and coach and cheer them on as we learn from their passion and perspective…we do our best to set them up for success.

The gospel breaks the age-old cycle of blaming and empowers a community of trust and impact…you need my generation, we need yours…trust is high here and so influence is mutual and powerful and possible.

The gospel has done this…we live in multi-generational trust and impact…it’s a blast, it’s fun, its good.

You need what I have learned to get ready for what is next and I need you to help finish well with passion and perspective.