Speaker: Rev. Dr. Marnie Crumpler
Date: October 30, 2016
Text: Connected for Good: Generous To The Next Generation
GENEROUS TO THE NEXT GENERATION
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
2 I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
3 things that we have heard and known,
that our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
5 He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
6 that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
7 so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
8 and that they should not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
whose spirit was not faithful to God.
The grace of God is the highest and best example of generosity. All other expressions of generosity point to this ultimate act of giving more than is required or usual--God's sending his son to die in our place in order that our relationship with him might be restored. Since God is generous, he invites us to grow as a generous people. We've looked at generosity across a variety of relationships-friendships, and marriages. Today we consider generosity extended from one generation to successive generations.
1. The Psalm begins with the exhortation: "Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth" (78:1). Discipleship requires hearing God speak through His Word by His Spirit and heeding God's instruction guidance in life. How are you doing when it comes to intentionally seeking to listen and heed God's Word? What skills or training would help you grow as a student of Scripture?
2. God is the God many generations. God promises Abraham, "I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you" (Genesis 17:7). Then, in the New Testament, that promises is renewed. When Peter preaches to the Jews on Pentecost (in Acts 2:39), he states: "For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord God calls to himself." How should this reality shape our life together as a congregation? Are you willing to invest yourself in the lives of those who are older and/or younger than you? If not, why not?
3. The Psalmist tells us that we have the privilege of telling what the Lord has done. The idea conveyed in the text is that we tell, on the basis of our firsthand experience, how God has been and is being faithful to us. How's your relationship with God? Are you able to tell, on the basis of current experience, how God is being faithful to his covenant promises to you? Or, are you taking God's grace for granted? Do you need to be reminded of God's grace and to return to him in gratitude and repentance?
4, Not only do we tell (bear witness), but we are also to "teach" the Law that God has given to us (78:5). In other words, subjective and firsthand experience is vital, but knowing God as he has revealed himself in Scripture is more foundational. Our beliefs about God must be rooted in and shaped by the Bible. How does the Bible shape your faith? Through your "teaching"--formal and informal-what are you communicating to the next generation about God?
5. Sometimes we say one thing with our mouth and do another thing with our lives. The Psalmist calls on us to trust God and to lead the next generation towards trusting God. Is this true in your life? Or, are there things other than God that you are tempted to trust in?
6. Sociologists have described the rise of the "nones," those who do claim any form of religious identity for themselves. Some studies also indicate that close to half of "committed" Christian high school students will stop practicing their faith by the end of college. Are we failing to pass the baton? What part might you play in transitioning the baton from one generation to the next?
7.At the end of the day, the relay race is about the baton more than about the runners. Yet, the relay brings out the best in each runner. How is your leg of the race? What is God laying on your heart in terms of how to participate in your leg of the race?
You have promised us that you will be a God to us and to our children, and to our children's children. We thank you for your covenant faithfulness to us. You have promised us than in the Day of the Lord you will turn the hearts of parents to their children and children to their parents; and, that you will unite the generations in your praise. Lord, may it be so!
Grant us the wisdom to live our lives in such a way that we may be a blessing to those generations that surround us-those older and those younger. Use us, we pray, to grow your church into a multi-generational community of disciples who love you with heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Create in us generous hearts, willing to share time, talents, and treasure in order to enrich the lives of those around us and together to follow you.