Monthly Archives: June 2013

What Happens When We Fail to Tell Our Children Bible Stories?

Something went terribly wrong. The Lord brought his people out of cruel bondage in Egypt with a mighty arm. He destroyed their enemies. He gave them a good land flowing with milk and honey, the Promised Land. All seemed well. Surely they would experience the blessings of God for many generations. But they did not, why?

In the Book of Judges we read that, “another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel” (2:10, NIV). After the faithful generation of Joshua fought their enemies and secured the land, things took a bad turn. Generation after generation wandered away from the Lord’s truth and the Lord’s blessing disappeared from their land. By the end of the Book of Judges it says that, “everyone did as he saw fit” (21:25). The result was chaos and disaster.

What went wrong? Notice that a generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. God had instructed his people to tell their children and grandchildren about his great deeds (Deuteronomy 6). In other words, tell them the stories about God, about the crossing of the Red Sea, the giving of the 10 Commandments, the wilderness wanderings, and the conquest of Canaan. In other words, tell kids Bible stories.

The generation that won great victories for God, Joshua’s generation, apparently failed in this one respect. They fought their enemies in Canaan but they failed to simply tell their children about the LORD. The result was a nation sinking into spiritual confusion, a nation that could no longer stand against its enemies. Their children and grandchildren grew up disobeying God and the country suffered.

Today we live in a land where everyone does as they see fit. Generations are growing up without hearing about God’s marvelous deeds, without learning about why it is vital to know God and to obey his commands. The people of God must obey his instruction—trust God by telling children the Bible accounts of God’s great works. God can still raise up a generation who will turn our nation back to him and his blessing.

We can passionately fight the enemies of God in order to secure the land and still lose the country. How? By not preparing a new generation of God-fearing young people who are ready to keep the faith alive. Any positive changes that we make in our society are sure to be lost if the next generation of believers is too weak to carry on the spiritual struggle. Although we may wish to, we will not erase the struggle in this age, but we can prepare our children to prevail.

We must faithfully tell children about God’s great deeds.

May God’s Spirit enable us to keep the faith and to pass it on to new generations,

Brother Richard

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Words Worthy of Our Complete Confidence

The words of the Lord are flawless. King David rejoiced over this great truth as he led God’s people in worship some 3,000 years ago (Psalm 12). Nevertheless, he was deeply concerned because his generation was full of empty talk, smooth talk, and double talk. Arrogant men were confident in their own words, their own ideas. They rejected God’s authority.

This old world hasn’t changed much. If David could spend a few days with us in the 21st century he would certainly be surprised by the cars, computers, cell phones, space stations, and other advances in technology. But he would soon realize that humanity is still fighting over the same vital question: Who is Lord? Where can we find the words of Truth?

Like David’s generation, our world is full of empty talk, smooth talk, and double talk. And like David’s generation, those who put their confidence in man’s talk are determined to silence the voice of God. But God spoke in David’s day and he continues to speak now. God will never be silenced. Jesus promised that his words will never pass away (Matthew 24:35).

When God speaks, his words are like precious metal refined to perfection. The Lord’s promises are of the utmost value because God is faithful and he will fulfill every promise he makes. David found confidence in God’s words, despite the foolish talk all around him. We can find confidence in God’s perfect words, too, no matter how dark and deceptive the talk gets in our generation.

God’s perfect Word does more than give us confidence; God’s promises give us a sure footing in life. As he finished his teaching one day, Jesus assured his followers that anyone who builds their life on his words, on his promises, is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rains came down, the waters came up, and the winds came through, but the house stood firm because it was built on the rock (Matthew 7:24-27).

Our confidence is well-placed in the perfect Word of God and our foundation is sure because it is none other than the Living Word of God: Jesus Christ. As a result, we can joyously affirm and celebrate God’s Word in our public worship and we can learn and apply God’s Word in our daily lives, seeing his promises fulfilled now.

Let’s thank the Lord for the power of his Word and let’s continue our commitment to the Lord’s Truth as we prepare our hearts to serve the Lord who has spoken to us. What great things will God do today?

Thank you for your faithfulness, and may God’s Word always be a lamp unto your feet,

Brother Richard

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Did Eve Leave a Mark on Adam?

God made the first man and put him in the Garden of Eden. The man, Adam, enjoyed the perfect environment: no housing bubbles or global warming, no overcrowding or energy shortages. All was good, apparently.

Adam not only had the pleasure of living in the garden, he also had the responsibility of taking care of it. It was the perfect job: no unemployment or labor disputes. He didn’t even have to pay taxes or worry about his retirement account. He was free of worries, or so it seemed.

Religion was good for Adam, too. God gave him only one command. He was free to eat from every tree in the garden except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He only had one verse to memorize and obey. Who could ask for anything better?

So Adam had a beautiful home, a great job, and a simple religion. Nevertheless, God noted that something was not right. He said that it was not good for Adam to be alone. And God had the perfect solution.

First, animals appeared before Adam so that he could name them. Apparently this was God’s way of making Adam aware of his need, his loneliness. All the animals had mates but Adam did not. And none of the animals could serve as his closest companion.

Then God caused a deep sleep to come over Adam. While Adam slept, God took something from Adam’s side. Most English Bibles call it a rib. Rib or not, it was definitely part of Adam’s body.

God took the living tissue that he removed from Adam’s side and fashioned it into a woman, the first woman. He then closed up Adam’s side and presented the woman to him.

Adam was thrilled. “At last! This is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She will be called woman because she was taken from man” (Genesis 2:23). Adam was no longer alone, problem solved.

But wait a minute. God performed surgery on Adam. Did that leave a scar? God closed him up but did he do so without leaving a mark? What place does a scar have in Paradise? After all, scars are echoes of pain and suffering, right?

And another thing: God could have made Adam and Eve at the same time, but he made Adam first, lacking his lover. Moreover, he sent Adam out on a search for a mate, knowing that his search would be unsuccessful. What is happening here?

Loneliness, failure, and scars are what we expect in the world today. Our world struggles with the tragic consequences caused by countless generations of rebellion against God. But why would God allow these things in the Garden of Eden, even just a little bit?

It’s clear; God made Adam incomplete. Adam was forced to change in order to become all that God wanted him to be. He needed the perfect helper made just for him, a woman, but he had to engage in a failed search first. He had to experience loneliness before he could appreciate her affection.

Then he had to trust God enough to give up a part of himself in order to have this mate. He really did have some “skin in the game!” And he had to put himself in God’s hands without seeing a picture of the woman first so that he could decide if she would be worth the trouble, the very first blind date.

Surely Adam’s struggle was far easier than the agony that people face now. After all, he was in Paradise. Human suffering now is far worse due to centuries of defiance against God. But it seems that God’s original design for humanity included some struggling for growth, even in Paradise.

If God’s surgery left a scar on Adam, then Adam was able to see his investment in Eve for the rest of his life. He could simply glance down at the mark on his side and remember that she cost him a bit of himself. That scar would be a good thing.

And even if Adam was not scarred from God’s surgery, he could remember the failed search for a mate, perhaps giving him his first sensation of anxiety. He had to realize that something important was missing in his life and that, apart from God, he was helpless to do anything about it.

Those who say that God never wishes for us to undergo any suffering are telling a half-truth. The whole truth is this: God does not want us to suffer meaninglessly. He does, however, desire that we experience real growth in our struggles.

If we mistakenly believe that God never allows us to suffer, then we will be tempted to conclude that our suffering is unnecessary, leading to despair. But when we trust that our suffering is used by God not to crush us, but to build us up, then we have hope. Our scars, be they physical, mental, or spiritual, are proof that we have a personal investment in growing stronger and wiser.

God’s greatest work resulted in scars. On the hands and side of Jesus are the permanent marks of the greatest victory in all of time and eternity: God’s salvation for all who will trust him completely.

Jesus obeyed God and suffered on a Roman cross. And for anyone who wishes to do things God’s way, Jesus challenges, “Let him take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). That leaves marks. That leads to eternal victory.

Richard Foster, Grace Baptist Church
Published by the Camden News in Religious Reflections April 21, 2013

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