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Author:Rev. Stephen 't Hart
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Baldivis
 Baldivis, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/baldivis/
 
Title:Live to leave a godly legacy
Text:Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Parenting
 
Preached:2013-08-14
Added:2013-10-13
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

All songs from 2010 APV Book of Praise
Bible translation:  NKJV

Psalm 89:1

Psalm 34:5

Psalm 78:1,2,3,4

Psalm 103:7

Psalm 71:3,10

 

Read:  Deuteronomy 5:23 – 6:25

Text:  Deuteronomy  6:6-7.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

What does it mean to be a parent?  What does it mean for you to be a father or a mother of your child?  What should you be doing, and how should you be doing it?

 

Most people seem to think that the role of parents is basically that of care-giver.  In other words, it is the responsibility of the parent to make sure that their child grows up in a safe environment where he or she is given food, clothes, and a bed to sleep in.  For the rest, he is to be sent to school and encouraged to stay out of trouble as he discovers for himself what life and the world is all about.

 

The Bible, however, gives us a different understanding of what it means to be a parent, particularly a Christian parent.  From the Bible we learn that our children must be instructed in the paths of the Lord and so we should be taking our children to church, to catechism classes, to Bible study meetings and also ensure that they receive a Christian education at school.  But there is more to being a Christian parent than that.  And being a Christian  parent is also more than simply letting them grow up in a Christian home in the hope that your Christian values will somehow rub off on to them.  Our form for baptism has it right when it says at the end of the form,

“Infants must be baptized as heirs of the kingdom of God and of his covenant; and as they grow up, their parents have the duty to instruct them in these things.”

And if ever there was a time to “instruct them in these things”, to diligent teach your children who God is and how we are to live before Him, that time is now!

  I preach to you the Word of the Lord as we have read it in the book of Deuteronomy under the following theme:

 

Live to leave a godly legacy.

  Diligently teach your children to:

1.    Know the LORD.

2.    Obey the LORD.

3.    Love the LORD.

 

1. Diligently teach your children to know the LORD.

We don’t tend to talk to much about leaving a “legacy”.  That’s for American presidents or other important people to do: they are expected to attempt to leave something of lasting and enduring importance behind for people to remember them by.  Nevertheless in the theme for this sermon I chose the word “legacy” deliberately because each one of us should live in such a way that we leave our mark on the next generation – and on the generation to follow that.  And the mark we are to leave is that of godliness, a godliness that goes from generation to generation.  Since the Lord’s covenant extends from generation to generation, He also wants us to be concerned not just for ourselves and this present generation but also for the generation that comes after us! 

  It is important that we understand this.  Much of our parenting focuses on what is happening “today”.  As we discipline our children for not doing what they were told, for not sharing with their sister or brother, for being on the internet when they should be doing homework, for not coming to the dinner table when first called, we tend to do this with little thought for more than the issue at hand.  However you are not only teaching and disciplining your children for today, but also for tomorrow.  Raising children in the fear of the Lord is a life-long process!  But not only that, the Lord wants you to be concerned not only for your children but also for your grandchildren!  And for your grandchildren’s children!  Listen to what it says in Psalm 78:5-7

“For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.”

Deuteronomy chapters 5 and 6 also teach us to have a long term generational approach to covenant instruction and discipline.  Chapter 5:29,

“Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!”

And chapter 6:2,

“. . . that you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.”

 

How you live your life, the choices you make and the things that you live for, will affect your children.  And how you raise your children will have an impact on how they raise your grandchildren.  And that is why it is so important that you as parents live to leave a godly legacy in your children. 

 

Now it needs to be stressed here that there is no guarantee that godly parenting will necessarily result in a child responding in faith and obedience.  There is no simple formula for success where if you did “this and that” you would be guaranteed that every one of your children would turn out just right.  The Bible has examples where two children are in one family: the one remains with the Lord while the other rejects Him.  And this still can and does happen.  It is only the Holy Spirit who is able to work regeneration and faith in the heart of your child.  Nevertheless, the LORD is pleased to regularly use godly parents to raise godly offspring.  And our children, therefore, need to be taught biblical ways of thinking and of acting.  Our children need to be taught what it means to be a child of God in a world that is enticing them to be a little less like God and a little more like them.  Our children need to taught what the Bible – the whole Bible – has to say to them.  And our children need to know just who the LORD is whom they care called to love and obey.    And so we have to teach them!  We have to teach them to know the LORD.  And we must all know the LORD and teach Him as He has revealed Himself in the Bible. 

 

But are you doing that?  Do you know who God is?  And are you teaching your children who the God of the Scriptures really is? 

 

It struck me recently that our children seem to be able to quote from Ice Age 3 and Madagascar 2 more easily and more accurately than they can quote from the Bible!  It struck me that while Deuteronomy 6:7 commands you to teach your children when you sit in your house, sitting together as a family and actually communicating together seems to be happening less and less.  We don’t seem to know what it means to sit still anymore.  We are always doing something or going somewhere.  And even when everyone is at home, perhaps even in the same room, the distractions of TV and internet games, ipads and ipods, phones and Facebook, are in danger of distracting us from what we should be doing and driving us apart.  We are, to use a quote from Neil Postman, we are in danger of amusing ourselves to death! Whether or not the things that you do are wrong in themselves, the clamor of the world is drowning out the call to truly know the LORD and to diligently teach your children to do the same.  And that is a problem.

 

So do you still know who God is?  Do you know what He is like?  And are you teaching your children to know who the God of the Scriptures really is?  Indeed who is this God whom we must speak to our children about?  Do your children know that our God is a holy God?  Do they have a right understanding of the holiness, the majesty and the wrath of God?  As your children grow older, do they understand that the story of Noah and the Ark, for example, is not a cute fairy tale but that at the same time as He saved Noah and his family, the Lord destroyed the earth and all the other people in waters of the flood? Do your children know that our God killed the firstborn sons of Egypt but saved His people Israel?  Do they know the story about how Korah, Dathan and Abiram died when the Lord opened up the ground and the earth swallowed them up?  Do they realize that when the walls of Jericho came tumbling down that all of God’s enemies in that city were killed?  And going on to the New Testament, do your children know and understand the shocking story of how Ananias and Sapphira died on the spot?  Do your children have a right understanding of the holiness, majesty and the wrath of God?

            The people of Israel knew.  When the LORD gave His law, the 10 Commandments, they said in Deuteronomy 5:24,

“Surely the LORD our God has shown us His glory and His greatness.”

And verse 25,

“Now therefore, why should we die?  For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the LORD our God anymore, then we shall die.”

The people of Israel understood that to follow God and to love Him with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength is a matter of life and death!  And that’s why they were warned in chapter 6:13-15,

“You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name.  You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you (for the LORD your God is a jealous God among you), lest the anger of the LORD your God be aroused against you and destroy you from the face of the earth.

Do your children know this?  Do your children know that the LORD is a holy God, that the LORD your God is One, that He alone is to be served, that we may not serve Him and our own sinful desires at the same time, that we may not have a little bit of God (his love, His kindness, His forgiveness – but not His justice, not His wrath against sin) and a little bit of godlessness on the side.  Brothers and sisters, teach your children to know the LORD, to know who it is whom we worship!  Teach your children not just a little bit about the Bible: teach them to know the God of the Bible.

 

But teach them too that this holy God is their LORD!  Teach them that this holy and jealous God has made a covenant with His people declaring that He is their God and they are His people.  He is the One who chose you, He is the One who redeemed you, and He is the One who claims you to be His own.  This holy God, He who is to be feared, declares, “I am Your Father and you are My child!”  And as a Father He loves His children with a perfect love, and He delights to bless them.  To Israel of Old He promised a land flowing with milk and honey, a land where they would be free, a land where they could worship Him in holiness.  And to us He has sent His Son so that in Jesus Christ we can receive the fullness of His blessing!  And now that you belong to Him, He calls you not to flee from His holy presence but to come to Him through Christ, and so walk in all His ways.  And so we come to our second point.

 

2. Teach your children to obey the LORD.

When the LORD gave His 10 Commandments to the people of Israel, the people of Israel were afraid.  They saw His glory and His greatness and they feared Him.  But their fear did not cause them to run away.  They knew themselves to be sinful, to be unholy, but they still wanted to know the will of the LORD, to hear His commandments, so that could do them and in that way live with God in the Promised Land.  They understood how important it was to both know the commandments of God and to obey them, and so they said to Moses in Deuteronomy 5:27,

“You go near and hear all that the LORD our God may say, and tell us all that the LORD our God says to you, and we will hear and do it.”

 

And then in verse 28 of chapter 5 the LORD said to Moses,

“I have heard the voice of the words of this people which they have spoken to you.  They are right in all that they have spoken.”

 

It was right for them to fear God and so the LORD went on to say in verse 29, “If only they always feared Me in this way and always kept My commandments, then it would be well with them and with their children forever.”  You see, when you know who the LORD really is, when you see Him in His holiness, in His glory and His greatness, then you will see how important it is to live in covenant holiness before Him!  Obedience is a matter of life and death!  To keep God’s law is life; to disobey is death.  No, obedience is not the way to life.  Israel did not find salvation through keeping God’s law and nor do we.  Your salvation is a matter of grace from beginning to end.  It was to His covenant people, His redeemed people, to those whom He had delivered out of Egypt that the LORD gave the 10 Commandments.  But obedience is the way of life.  God’s law was – and is – the way to live in God’s holy presence now that we have been redeemed to live with Him and for Him.  Obedience to God’s law is not an option, it is not a suggestion.  It is a command. 

 

And it is a command that the LORD repeated over and over again in Deuteronomy chapters 5 and 6.  Take your Bibles and see how the LORD told His people over and over again that they must obey Him and teach their children to do the same.

 

Deuteronomy 5:31 (NKJV)

31 But as for you, stand here by Me, and I will speak to you all the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments which you shall teach them, that they may observe them in the land which I am giving them to possess.’

 

Deuteronomy 5:32 (NKJV)

32Therefore you shall be careful to do as the Lord your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.

 

Deuteronomy 5:33 (NKJV)

33 You shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess.

 

Deuteronomy 6:1 (NKJV)

“Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess,

 

Deuteronomy 6:2 (NKJV)

2 that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.

 

Deuteronomy 6:3 (NKJV)

3 Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you— ‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’

 

Deuteronomy 6:17 (NKJV)

17 You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, His testimonies, and His statutes which He has commanded you.

 

Deuteronomy 6:18 (NKJV)

18 And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land of which the Lord swore to your fathers,

 

And so the LORD repeated over and over again.  “Keep My commandments.  Obey Me.  Love Me.  Follow Me.  Walk in My ways.”

 

And that is what you must teach your children!  You must teach your children what it means to be a child of God.  You must teach them not only that they belong to Him, but also how they are to serve Him, to obey Him.  And you must teach these things diligently to your children.  Talk to your children about what it means to be a child of God.  Talk about the holiness that He expects of you.  Talk about what it means to live as a Christian, as a child of God in a world that says there is no God.  Teach them why the amusements of this world can so easily be a distraction.  Teach them why we should sometimes say “no” to something even if in itself it is not wrong to do.  Teach them why it is so important that families stay together, communicate together, read God’s Word together, pray together, worship together.  Teach them, talk to them, when you sit in your house, when you eat your dinner, when you drive with them in the car, at night when it is time to lie down and in the morning when it is time to get up.

 

Is this happening in your family?  Is this happening in mine?  Are we constantly teaching our children, by example, by what we say and by the rules we set in our own homes, are we teaching them what it means to be a child of God?  Are we teaching them to love and obey the LORD with all their heart, with all their soul and with all their strength?  Do we give ourselves enough time for this?  Do we do all we can to find those times when as a family you can sit together and talk and learn and hear from God’s Word?  Are your daily family times still anchored around regular, daily times of Bible reading, of prayer and of worship?  Is the Word of God opened and explained and discussed?  Are you opening God’s Word to see what it says regarding your choice of a life partner, your taste for music, your entertainment, your leisure activities, your holiday destinations, your sports, your dress, your job and so forth? 

Dear LORD, forgive us, forgives us for our many weaknesses and failures to live to leave a godly legacy.  Dear LORD, help us, renew us and give us the strength of Your Holy Spirit for a task that is too great for us, too much for us to handle on our own.  Help us to teach our children to see all of life in the light of Your Word.  Help them to see something of Your gory, Your greatness, Your goodness.  Help them that they might understand what it means to be created in Your image, and redeemed by You so that they might live out of love for You and love for their neighbor.

 

3. Diligently teach your children to love the LORD.

If, with God’s help and His guidance, you live to leave a godly legacy, your family life will be vastly different to that of the world around you.  You will speak differently, you will act differently, you will spend your time differently and spend your money differently.  Sometimes, also for your children, that “different” will be good.  At other times your children will struggle and perhaps even rebel.  And then you can expect the question “Why?”  Why do we live like this?  Why can’t we do this and why don’t you let us do that?  Why won’t you let me go to the cinema with my friends to watch that M-Rated movie?  Why do we have to go to church twice every Sunday?  What’s wrong with me playing this game?  Why can’t I wear this top, this skirt when I go out tonight?”  To quote from Deuteronomy 6:20,

“What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which the LORD our God has commanded you?”

 

Expect your children to ask these things and do not be surprised when they do.  And when they do – or even before they do, tell them this:  “It is because the LORD has brought His salvation to this family!  It is because of His grace, because of His mercy!”

 

For the Old Testament people of Israel the answer was this:  “It is because we were slaves in Egypt, but the LORD delivered us out of Pharaoh’s hand. He punished the Egyptians (in fact He even killed many of them) but He saved us.  He brought us through the wilderness to this land that He had promised to give to us.  And now He is our LORD and we are His children.  And so the LORD has commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day.”

 

But for you the reason is even greater!  For the LORD has sent You His Son to redeem you, to make You His own possession.  He says to you, “I chose you.  I have redeemed you.  I went to the cross for you.  My body was broken for you and my blood was poured out for you.  I came to you.  I regenerated you.  I gave to you faith and repentance.  I gave to you a new life!”

 

For that is what the LORD has done for you! He has established an eternal covenant of grace with you.  He has loved you with an everlasting love  and He has given you His Holy Spirit to live with you and in you.  And therefore He has given you His laws, His commandments, that you might live with Him and for Him and in Him.  That you might live and never die. 

 

And therefore what does the LORD require of you but to love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  Teach your children what it is to love the LORD, what it is to live out of the gospel of grace. 

 

And then pray to the LORD that He might open the eyes of your children and your grandchildren to the beauty of God’s grace.  Pray that they might see both the justice and holiness of God as well as His grace in Christ.  Pray that they too might love the LORD and obey Him from a heart that overflows in joy and thankfulness that we belong to Him.  Amen.

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2013, Rev. Stephen 't Hart

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