“Intentional Giving”

Pt. 4 of the Series: “Outlasters”

March 3, 2019

 

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

 

It is interesting how, sometimes, we are intentional about some things, but not intentional about others.  Students might be intentional about going to school but maybe not so intentional about actually learning something.  High school seniors might be very intentional about getting into a college and once at that college, they might be intentional about getting a diploma—that’s the end goal, a diploma that they can put on their wall or the degree they can list on their resume, but what they learn in college sometimes is secondary.  Or, some people are very intentional about the wedding--planning for the wedding, getting the right reception place, the right bridesmaid dresses, the right DJ and the right napkins--but they are not as intentional about the marriage, about doing pre-marital counseling and learning those elements that make for a great marriage.  That is why Kim, our Family Life Minister, is running a marriage retreat, so people can be intentional about their marriage.  Or, some folks are very intentional about having a child and naming the child and having a baby shower to get the right stuff and getting a nursery set up with a theme—I didn’t know you needed to have a theme for the nursery.  I mean, will that kid really know that he or she had lampshades with Superheroes all over it?  Parents are very intentional about getting ready for this kid and naming it and setting up the room, but maybe not so intentional about what all goes into the actual parenting deal, what are those things that make for good parents, what are those precious things you want to make sure you teach your child as a parent.  Again, that is why Kim teaches these parenting courses.  That is why we hope every parent takes the course “Parenting is Heart Work.”  It is why we want to get this into the Preschool and out into the community.  People are intentional about some things but not intentional about others.

 

That is our entry point into what we want to cover today.  Today, I want to talk about being intentional about what you pass down to the next generation.  That has really been the focus of this series, how you can outlast your life, what is it that you can pass down to the next generation—your kids and grandkids and the Cub Scouts you lead, even the younger folks you work with at your office—what is it that you can pass down to the next generation that will outlast your life.  And, we found that you can pass down a love of sports, an allegiance to the Orioles, you can pass down money or jewelry or that painting in the hallway but those things will not outlast your life.  What we found was that your faith and values will outlast your life.  You will be forgotten but your faith and your values will outlast you.  You can be an “Outlaster.”  So, today, I want to talk about a passage in the Bible that is all about being intentional about passing down your faith and your values.  It is from the Old Testament, from the book of Deuteronomy.  It is called the Shema.  It is a declaration of faith, a pledge of allegiance to God.  It is the first prayer learned by a Jewish child.  It was the first thing prayed every morning and the last thing prayed at night and it was the last prayer prayed before death.  It defines a personal relationship with God.  I want to read it again with you;

        

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9

 

There are 3 things I want you to see today as we examine this passage, the Shema, 3 things we need to be intentional about in passing down stuff to the next generation.  The first is this;

 

  1. We Need to Intentionally Give the Next Generation a Community Worth Having

 

  1.  We need community

 

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”  Deuteronomy 6:4

 

Notice, it didn’t say, “Hear Hezekiah,” or “Hear Ezekiel.”  It says, “Hear, O Israel.”  This is not just an individual faith.  This was a national faith.  This was the faith of a community.  It is interesting how homes were built in Bible times.  A father would build his house in a community of other fathers.  When that father had a son, the son would build his house behind his father’s house, kind of an appendage to his father’s house.  If the father had another son, that son would build his house next to his brother’s, behind his father’s house.  If those sons had sons, they would build their houses behind their father’s house which was attached to their grandfather’s house.  All of these houses would be connected.  Families were large so there could be 50, 60, even 90 people all part of this extended family, all living in houses attached to the others.  When the patriarch died, the oldest son moved into the patriarch’s house and everybody else moved up one house.  Now, in that kind of community, there would be fathers and mothers and aunts and uncles, all of whom would join together to teach the children the lessons they should learn.  The entire family was a community.  And—here is the really important thing—they all joined forces to reinforce this one faith.  They would all join in praying, “Hear O Israel,” and a village, then was made up of a number of these extended families all praying that same prayer, “Hear O Israel.”  It was a community affair.  Community was so very important. 

 

However, community is devalued in our culture.  Now, community is more of what happens on-line.  Social media becomes many people’s community.  Yet, this is no substitute for face to face community.  Our culture celebrates independence above community.  That you can go it alone, is applauded.  But, God didn’t create us that way.  We were created for community.  Didn’t God say that it was not good that the man, Adam, was alone.  So, God created community.  He created Eve and at that moment on, Adam had someone to talk with, someone with whom he could share his life, someone with whom he had community.  You see, we need community and

 

  1.  We need the right kind of community

 

Something that can really bring a teenager down is to get in the wrong crowd.  What can bring a teen down, maybe more than any other factor, is to have the wrong friends.  If a teen is involved with the wrong friends and those friends are involved in the wrong activities, ungodly activities, then that teen might easily fall into those same ungodly activities.  If a teen is hanging with friends who do drugs, it is going to be a hard go for that teen to not do drugs. 

 

And, even if a teen has friends who are not into ungodly activities, that is not enough.  When I was a teen, I was a jock.  I played baseball on the high school team and I played football and basketball in neighborhood leagues.  I was a jock and my friends were jocks.  Jocks have been known to get into some bad behaviors.  We never did but still, hanging with jocks is not the right kind of community I am referring to.  I was also a musician.  So, I had friends who were musicians.  Again, my musician friends and I didn’t get into any trouble, but this was still not the right kind of community I am referring to.  Being a jock or a musician is not a bad thing.  It is a very good thing.  Yet, the next generation needs more than that.  For you see, the one thing both my jock friends and my musician friends were lacking was Jesus.

       

I needed the right kind of community and the right kind of community was a faith community.  So, I was involved in my youth group at church.  Then, it was called Walther League.  I was in the Walther League.  I had good Christian friends in Walther League with whom I was able to share my common faith, discuss how Jesus fit into our lives, strive to serve Jesus.  We did Bible Study and service projects.  We had Sunday School classes together.  I met my wife, Nancy, in Sunday School, in Mr. Butler’s class.  It was the right kind of community because Jesus was in the center of it. 

 

We need to be intentional about giving the next generation a community worth having, the right kind of community, a faith-filled community.  We need to be intentional about providing that community in the community of our homes.  One Sunday, there was a baptism of a little baby at the church.  On the way home from church, little Johnny sat in the back seat bawling his eyes out.  His mom asked him three times what was wrong.  Finally, little Johnny said, “The pastor said that he wanted us to be brought up in a good Christian home…but”, little Johnny said, “I want to stay with you guys.”  We need to be intentional about giving the next generation a faith-filled community and we need to be intentional about giving the next generation an extended faith filled community as well.  That is one of the reasons Sunday School is so important.  Kids even at 4 years old begin forming faith relations with other kids.  Every Sunday they gather with church friends who are different from school friends because church friends know Jesus.  They gather to sing to Jesus and learn about Jesus and do service projects with Jesus in the center and they learn good Christian values in Sunday School.  Sunday School becomes the right kind of community to give to the next generation.

 

And, that is one of the reasons youth group is so important.  Every week Jr. high teens come together and learn about Jesus.  Senior highs come together and they support one another and care for one another and hold one another accountable.  So, they may be at school and one of their fellow students who is not a Christian might make fun of them and say, “Hey, are you coming to the party Friday night?  Josiah’s parents are going to be out of town and Josiah has some older friends who are getting a keg.  We are all going to get drunk.  Everybody gets drunk these days.”  But, your kid, involved in youth group, can say, “No, that is not correct.  Not everybody gets drunk.  My friends at church don’t get drunk,” and that faith community becomes a support to them.  A fellow student can say, “You’re not going to wait until marriage are you?  Nobody waits until marriage these days.”  And, your teen can say, “Well I know a bunch of people at my church who are waiting until marriage.  What you say is not so.”  A fellow student can say, “You believe in God?  Who believes in God, these days?”  And your teen can say, “I believe in God and I am part of a huge extended community of hundreds, no billions of other people who believe in God.” 

 

Bottom line; I would want to be intentional about doing all I can to make sure my teen was in the right kind of community, a church community, a Sunday School and youth group community.  As a parent, I would want to be intentional about giving the next generation the right kind of community.  So, the first point is; We need to give the next generation a community worth having.            

    

  1. We Need to Intentionally Give the Next Generation a Standard Worth Achieving

 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  Deuteronomy 6:5

 

  1.  We need to raise the standard of their love for God

 

Our culture is all about dumbing down the standards.  I am all for encouraging kids and praising them when they do well and high fiving them.  I want to tell them, “Good job,” all over the place, or, as my grandson says, “Good job, team.”  Where does he get that, “Good job, team”?  But, many times we let the next generation slide by with just minimum standards, where if they put a couple of things away in their room, we slobber all over them saying what a fantastic job they did.  Jesus didn’t lower His standards.  He didn’t say that halfway is good enough.  He said that the Scripture says, “You shall not murder.”  But, then Jesus said, “But, I say to you, don’t even hate your brother or sister.”  He said that the Scripture says, “You shall not commit adultery.”  But, then Jesus said, “But, I say to you, don’t even look with lust on a woman because you have already committed adultery with her in your heart.”  Jesus didn’t lower the standards.  He raised them.

 

Notice this verse doesn’t say to love God with half your heart.  It doesn’t say to love God if you have time or if you have nothing better to do.  It says to love God, “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  It is saying that we, the next generation, need to cut out of their lives anything that would get in the way of loving God whole heartedly, that we need to raise the standard of devotion and love toward Jesus.  We need to raise that standard for the next generation in their love for God.  And,

 

  1.  We need to raise the standard for living out their faith
     

You don’t tell your kids or your grandkids, “Hey, you go to school and try to be good and try to be popular.”  No, you can say to them, “You go to school and you be the light of the world.  That’s what Jesus is calling you to be, the light of the world, the light of your school.”  Instead of saying, “Don’t drink and drive,” you tell them that it is still illegal for someone under 18 to drink, so don’t drink, period.  Instead of saying, “If you’re going to have sex, use protection,” no, you say to them, “Sex is only for married couples.  It is only for married couples.  Don’t have sex outside of marriage.”  Instead of saying, “Go to church when you can, you know when you don’t stay up too late the night before or when it is not too nice outside or not too snowy when you want to sleep in. ” No, you say to them, “Look, you are the church.  You go to church every week and you go to worship and you go to serve.  That’s what you do.”  So, I know this isn’t ever the case, but if the pastor’s sermon is stinky, you still go to church.  And, if you are just not into it, you still go to church because it is there that you can serve, you can teach Sunday School or you can learn the sound board or you can sing in the Praise Band.  So, we need to give the next generation a community worth having and we need to be intentional about giving the next generation a standard worth achieving.  Finally,     

 

  1. We Need to Intentionally Give the Next Generation a Faith Worth Reproducing

 

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”  Deuteronomy 6:6-9

 

The Jews took these words very specifically.  When it says to tie the words as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads, they made these things called phylacteries which were little boxes containing a portion of the law and they would literally tie them on their foreheads.  Some Jews do this today.  When it says to write them on the doorframes of your houses, they put little plaques called mezuzahs on their doorframes  They were to put them on all of the doorframes in their house and whenever they went from one room to the next, they were to touch those plaques.  But, what happened many times was that the phylactery or the mezuzah became a substitute for a relationship with God.  As long as you wore the phylactery, as long as you touched the mezuzah—kind of like a football team slapping the picture of their mascot as they went out onto the field--as long as you wore the phylactery or touched the mezuzah, you were fulfilling the law.  You see, God wasn’t in it any longer.  It had nothing to do with a relationship with God.  It had nothing to do with faith.

 

  1.  Impress God on your kids

 

Listen to what this verse says, though; “Impress the law on your children.”  To impress is to teach incisively.  It means to sharpen.  It is the idea of going over and over until the knife or the razor is sharp.  It means to make a mark on the mind. 

 

Impress this faith relationship on your children, Deuteronomy is saying to make this Job #1.  You can teach them how to read or how to ride a bike or how to do multiplication tables or how to build a birdhouse or how to swing a baseball bat, but if you don’t teach your kids about Jesus, you have failed as a parent.  You can teach the next generation so many things, but if you don’t teach them that God loves them, that Jesus died to take away their sins, that as they believe in Jesus, they will be forgiven and will have eternal life, that if they live life God’s way, they will live the best way, if you don’t teach them those things, you have not done your job as a Christian parent.  Deuteronomy says to impress this on the next generation.  If you get nothing else done with your kids or your grandkids, get this done.  Get it done.

 

  1.  How can you impress God on them?

 

Moses in Deuteronomy says, “Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  Impress God on them when you sit at home.  When you gather around the supper table, that is when you impress this on them.  Make dinner as a family an expectation.  I know teens are running every which way.  When Matthew was a teen, he was running all over the place.  He played 70 games of baseball during the spring and summer.  We would go watch his game and then I would have to go back to church for a meeting but we would take time for dinner together.  So, take time for community as a family.  And, make the supper table an electronics free zone.  No cell phones, no Ipads, no TV.  Start the meal with God.  Say grace.  Yesterday, Nancy and I took our grandkids to Steve’s Original.  If you’ve never been there, you need to go.  They have pancakes bigger than a dinner plate.  When the our breakfast arrived, we held hands and said grace.  Now when we say grace with them, Audrey and Anthony get this big smile on their faces, they get so excited, and we say the grace and as we say it, we get louder and louder; “God is great, God is good, and we thank Him for our food,” and Audrey and Anthony end it, they say it so loud; “Amen!”  And they laugh and Anthony says, “Good job, team.”  Start the meal with God and see how God fit into each person’s day.  Talk with them when you sit at home.   

 

Talk with them, “when you walk along the road.”  When you are on your way to soccer practice, when you are “walking” along the road, impress upon them their relationship with Jesus.  Play some Christian music.  Notice God in nature.  Talk with them about Jesus.  Talk with them when they lie down.  When you tuck them in at night, that is a sweet time to impress faith on them.  One night there was a violent thunderstorm and mom went in to tuck in little Herman.  With a tremor in his voice, he said, “Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?”  Mom gave little Herman a reassuring smile and said, “I can’t.  I have to sleep with Daddy.”  Little Herman said, “The big sissy.  Is he scared, too?”  One night when Matthew was in his early teens, he asked me to tuck him in.  I was absolutely dead tired and couldn’t even get myself up out of the chair.  I told him, “Matthew, dad is so tired.  How about you tuck yourself in?”  That was the last night I got to tuck my son in bed.  He didn’t want me to do it any longer.  I look back on that with shame.  I failed as a dad then.  What I am trying to tell you is that bedtime is a wonderful time to say prayers with your child or grandchild, to talk about how they could see God in their day. 

 

Talk with them when you get up.  When you send them off to school, have them go with God.  Impress that on them.  Read the Bible with them.  Pray with them.  Sing Christian songs with them.  Impress Jesus on them.  Here is a quote from Gary Oliver in his book, “Raising Kids to Love Jesus”:  “Our primary call isn’t to be good parents.  Our primary call is to model a vibrant and vital love relationship with the living God.” [1]   

 

Be an outlaster.  Be intentional about this.  Don’t do this one on autopilot.  You can leave a legacy of money in a will or an allegiance to a baseball team.  I am leaving Matthew the legacy of rooting for the Orioles and he is passing that on to Anthony and Audrey.  These things are all right and good.  But, they won’t outlast your life.  You can outlast your life by passing on your faith and by passing on your Godly values.  After a few generations, you will be forgotten, but your faith and your values will not.  They will impact the next generation and the next and the next after that.  In doing that, you will be an “Outlaster.”

 

In Jesus’ name.

Amen.            

 

 

 

[1] Quoted in the sermon, “Parenting Prerogatives,” by Brian Bill, found at SermonCantral.com.