“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” Judges 2:10. History repeats itself, as the expression goes, and I have often seen a comparison of God’s people in the book of Judges with His church in 21st century America. It has been at least a generation here since the majority of Americans attended worship services regularly. Judeo-Christian principles were woven into our founding, and the US was considered a Christian nation. With the rise of secularism, though, a knowledge of God and the gospel leeched from the fabric, so that biblical illiteracy is pervasive among the younger generations. Those who grew up in the forty years of wandering in the wilderness and survived to take their parents’ and grandparents’ places were too busy conquering the Promised Land to teach their children that which was most essential. It was not when our pioneer forebears who were busy pulling stumps and planting crops that the children were not taught, it seems, but distractions in a period of leisure that took them away. Who do you teach to know Jesus?
“and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land … But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done?” Judges 2:2. In a preview of what was to come four generations from then, God tells Abraham that his descendants would return to the Promised Land to be His weapon of judgment as the sins of the current inhabitants had not yet reached its full measure. Over four hundred years later, Joshua had every intention of annihilating all and making no covenants with the Canaanite tribes but did not inquire of the Lord when the Gibeonites deceived (Joshua 9), and the Israelites failed to take possession of the land after Joshua’s death—though the Lord still commanded them (Judges 1). It was good that they inquired of the Lord but bad that considered their enemy’s strength rather than the Lord’s. Peter also intended to have faith but saw the wind rather than Jesus as he sank beneath the waves. Intentions aren’t obedience. When we shrug off our Christian walk when it gets hard believing that God will forgive us, we too don’t obey God’s voice and leave many thorns in our sides that hinder us from loving Him fully. What covenants do you make with the world?
“… he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of Lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen” 1 Timothy 6:15-16. Who do you lift up? We live in a very narcissistic culture that is all about promoting self. As products of our culture, it’s hard as Christians to not reflect what we see around us. Yet, throughout scripture, we see many praising God for being the awesome God He is. In the acronym about prayer, ACTS, the A stands for adoration. This is to remind us that our very lives are to be God-centered. Is this because we serve a narcissistic God who demands to be praised, as Christianity’s skeptics believe? No, Paul, speaking to the pagans in Athens, declared that God didn’t need anything from us (Acts 17:25). Rather, lifting up God helps us from slipping into narcissism so that it is truly the God who “gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” we worship and not ourselves. We need to worship a God who is bigger than ourselves so that we can become true worshippers in spirit and in truth. Who do you promote in your worship and life?
“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” Galatians 6:10. This is true of our individual blessings and resources that God has entrusted us with as well as how we might use them collectively as the many parts of the body working together as God gives us opportunity to do good as the church. Jesus “went about doing good” and so we who are His followers and are His body, must do good as well. This is our purpose here as we “seek and save the lost” as Jesus did. We look collectively for the opportunities that God gives us and turn every interaction into an opening to further the gospel. Our ministries must be needs-based. We don’t just start a widowhood ministry to say we have one but because we can meet the educational, emotional, and social needs of widows and widowers. We give away food and clothing because we can meet needs of those without—and glory goes to God! Our motivation in the time God has given each of us with what He has given us must be to do good and bring Him glory as every word and deed is done in Jesus’ name. So, how you as a Christian doing this with His church?