Judges 2:6-10Amplified Bible
6 And when Joshua had sent the people away, the [tribes of the] Israelites went each to his inheritance, to take possession of the land. 7 The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the Lord which He had done for Israel. 8 Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 10 Also, all [the people of] that generation were gathered to their fathers [in death]; and another generation arose after them who did not know (recognize, understand) the Lord, nor even the work which He had done for Israel.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
An entire generation had passed after Joshua died (aged 110) that did not
“know the Lord or knew the work that He had done”.
How could this happen to God’s chosen people?
These were the same people He performed miracle after miracle for.
Again, a whole generation of Israelites don’t know who God was!
This might seem like a familiar story to you if you live anywhere on earth.
A generation is currently on the rise that has never stepped foot into church, never or barely reading their Bible, never taught or even learned about Jesus.
What do we make of this?
It can be easy to place blame on others but, really, the next generation comes down to you and me.
We are responsible for the discipleship and upbringing of the next generation.
Let us stop passing the blame and start taking responsibility.
If you have kids, don’t just expect the church or school to teach and disciple them; be involved.
If you have generations of people coming to your church, do not just expect the church alone to reach and teach and disciple them; be and become the involved.
If you have friends or family or neighbors who are struggling, take an active role in their lives, and in sharing with them the truth about God with them.
My legacy is not what I did or I will do for myself, it is what I am doing right now, what I will do in all of my collective tomorrow’s for the next generation.
Our ministry and mission is to serve all generations for the coming generations.
Acts 13:34-37Amplified Bible
34 And [as for the fact] that He raised Him from the dead, never again to return to decay [in the grave], He has spoken in this way: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David [those blessings and mercies that were promised to him].’ 35 For this reason He also says in another Psalm, ‘You will not allow Your Holy One to see decay.’ 36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was buried among his fathers and experienced decay [in the grave]; 37 but He whom God raised [to life] did not experience decay [in the grave].
There are many deeds that David did during his life.
He did many great things even as a young man.
He did many not so great things for the generations of his own children.
Despite all of that, God still referred to David as “Man after my own heart.”
However, none speak as loud to us as this text. “David served his generation.”
The question is in our goodness and mercy, “can we serve our generation?”
The question is in our faults and failures, “can we still serve our generation?”
Can we still acknowledge, preach, teach God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
Can our witness and our testimony remain genuine and influential for others?
Our witness and testimony as a church is to reach our generation for the Lord.
Considering socio-economic, political pressures, the task seems impossible.
Jonathan Edwards said “The obligation of every generation is to understand what God is doing and then do it with Him.”
Reverend Andy Stanley asks me one question that simply wrecks me as I pray.
He asks this question of me and of all generations: “What breaks your heart?”
He framed the question with this statement: “You do not have to change the world, but you do have a responsibility – you have to change something.”
His point was God did not ask us to change everything, but he did give us each particular gifts and passions – it is those passions that pave the road to change.
The moment he asked the question, I knew my answer.
My heart breaks for the coming generations – of my step son, and of his son.
My heart breaks for young, younger people growing up in a culture increasingly antagonistic, negative and downright brutally hateful towards Christianity.
My heart breaks for the next generation and the hostility they face from both the outside and the inside of the church.
Yes, inside the church – their knowledge of the real Jesus Christ of the Gospels.
I want to fight for them.
I want to affirm them.
I want to prepare them.
I want to teach them and even preach to them ….
I want to witness and testify to the real and genuine Jesus Christ to them.
You see, I believe the next generation should receive the church from us better than we found it.
We should prepare the next generation to take the baton and run past us.
Ephesians 4:17-24Amplified Bible
The Christian’s Walk
17 So this I say, and solemnly affirm together with the Lord [as in His presence], that you must no longer live as the [unbelieving] Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds [and in the foolishness and emptiness of their souls], 18 for their [moral] understanding is darkened and their reasoning is clouded; [they are] alienated and self-banished from the life of God [with no share in it; this is] because of the [willful] ignorance and spiritual blindness that is [deep-seated] within them, because of the hardness and insensitivity of their heart. 19 And they, [the ungodly in their spiritual apathy], having become callous and unfeeling, have given themselves over [as prey] to unbridled sensuality, eagerly craving the practice of every kind of impurity [that their desires may demand]. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way! 21 If in fact you have [really] heard Him and have been taught by Him, just as truth is in Jesus [revealed in His life and personified in Him], 22 that, regarding your previous way of life, you put off your old self [completely discard your former nature], which is being corrupted through deceitful desires, 23 and be continually renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude], 24 and put on the new self [the regenerated and renewed nature], created in God’s image, [godlike] in the righteousness and holiness of the truth [living in a way that expresses to God your gratitude for your salvation].
We have an accountability to God for those future “great clouds of witnesses!”
Handing the next generation a battered and beaten and defeated version of the church we inherited means we fail to add to God’s “great clouds of witnesses.”
Truth is: Investing in the next generation isn’t easy.
Truth is: Investing in the next generation is never going to be easy.
Truth is: Investing in the next generations was never meant to be easy
Truth is: It involves Christ-Like sacrifice.
Truth is: It involves Christ-Like grace.
Truth is: It involves Christ-Like humility.
Truth is: It involves a Christ-Like future-focus.
Truth is: It involves our becoming like Christ Jesus.
Truth is: Jesus has a lot to say about reaching the next generation.
I want to highlight a few of those.
Here are 4 things Jesus tells us about reaching the next generation.
1.) Jesus came down to others. He didn’t expect others to come up to his level.
Salvation and redemption are a product of Jesus refusing to accept equality with God (Philippians 2).
He wasn’t content with his throne in heaven.
He came down to us.
Jesus had more knowledge and power than any person on earth.
Yet he used the power to serve others.
He used the knowledge to reach those who were powerless.
For us to acquire power and knowledge but not use them to affirm, serve and encourage those without it is not only horribly bad stewardship, it is ungodly.
I hear these statements often.
“The next generation needs to practice patience. They need to stop making everything about them. We sat in pews every Sunday and listened to boring sermons. We paid our dues. The next generation needs to do the same.”
Now, does the next generation have selfish tendencies?
But this is not a generational problem.
It is a human problem.
So, what does Jesus reveal to us about solving this problem?
He comes down.
He empties himself.
He does not tell the apostles to come up to his level.
He gave up everything, humbled Himself – He humbly came down to them.
When the church asks the next generation to give up all their desires and ways to connect with God, we are not effectively modeling the ways, mind, of Jesus.
We are expecting those less mature, less powerful, and less knowledgeable to reach up.
Instead of coming down and engaging the next generation on their level, they must come up to ours.
Truth is: It is selfish pride.
Maybe the next generation is leaving the church because they are exhausted from constantly having to feed those who are already full.
Maybe the next generation is leaving because they are tired of reaching up and conforming to our way of doing things. Maybe the next generation is leaving because the church’s attitude is more self-centered than Christ-centered.
2.) Jesus spoke the language of the culture.
When I was in high school if you wanted to call someone, you used something called a dial phone.
Anyone under 20 or even 30 has no idea what I am talking about.
Today, land lines are virtually non-existent.
They aren’t the most effective way to communicate.
That title belongs to cell phones.
Cell phones allow us to message anyone in the world instantly, check social media with a click, make phone calls anytime and accomplish virtually any task in life no matter where we are.
Today, if are not using a smartphone, you and I are generations behind.
What does this have to do with Jesus?
Glad you asked. Jesus believed strongly in effective communication.
This is why he spoke in parables.
He didn’t use large “churchy,” academic words when speaking to crowds.
He could have, but he chose not to.
Why? He wanted to effectively communicate.
That is why he used stories.
Stories were the most effective way to communicate God’s message.
The church should want to effectively communicate as well.
“Why doesn’t the next generation call someone instead of always texting?
Why are they on social media so much?”
Well, the answer is because text messages and social media are the most effective and quickest forms of communication today.
It’s ridiculous to use a dial phone to do business, and it is ridiculous to not embrace the most effective ways to communicate.
So, we can stop throwing up our hands because the next generation does not communicate like we do.
Or we can embrace a new, more effective form of communication.
After all, Truth is: They might have something significantly GOD to teach us.
3.) Jesus did nOt lecture. He loved.
“When it comes to the next generation, we need to stop lecturing them and start loving them like Christ first Loved them.”
I can’t tell you how many “lectures” I received from my dad over the years.
“what were you thinking? You know better than that! here’s why you are wrong, I cannot believe you could ever make such a terrible decision!”
And you know what those lectures did for me?
EXACTLY! Pushed me further away.
Maybe it’s time to admit lecturing the next generation does little to change or influence change within them.
What the next generation needs to know is we are FOR them.
They need to know we love them.
They need to know they will struggle.
They need to know they will fail.
They need to know they will have their share of faults.
But when they know they are affirmed and loved, they will be compelled to get back up and keep moving, they will run toward the cross and not away from it.
When the next generation constantly hears what they did wrong, what message are we sending to them?
I know what message was sent to me: You better not mess up or God will be mad at you. Unless you do things the “right way,” you aren’t accepted around here.
Jesus seemed to understand better than anyone that lecturing did not serve the ultimate goal or purpose of transforming people.
The only ones Jesus lectured were the Pharisees.
But that’s because they were gluttons of knowledge and power.
They did the very opposite of Jesus.
The Pharisees expected others to come up to their level.
You won’t find an example of Jesus lecturing those aware of their sin.
Instead, you will find Jesus loving them and embracing them.
You will find Jesus speaking life to them.
He did not excuse their sin, but he did not lecture them either.
There is a way for one generation to push the next generation towards God without lecturing them.
Truth is: Just look at Jesus.
Jesus not only came down to those with less power, he invested in them.
He spent his time preparing a group of men to take over after he left.
Jesus knew his time on earth was short, and he knew his mission was larger than his time on earth.
Jesus didn’t come to earth seeking to build an earthly kingdom that wouldn’t sustain after his departure.
He came to build God’s kingdom that would last forever.
Jesus came to prepare people, not allow people to feed him.
The problem with many churches is they aren’t preparing the next generation.
They aren’t concerned with the church after their departure.
“Who cares what happens after our departure? After all, we paid our dues, now it is time for us to enjoy the fruit of our patience.”
If Jesus had the attitude of many church leaders today, the church would be non-existent.
But Jesus did not believe power, wisdom, and title were grounds for others to feed him.
He poured into others.
2 Timothy 4:6-8Amplified Bible
6 For I am already being [a]poured out as a drink offering, and the time of [b]my departure [from this world] is at hand and I will soon go free. 7 I have fought the good and worthy and noble fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith [firmly guarding the gospel against error]. 8 In the future there is reserved for me the [victor’s] crown of righteousness [for being right with God and doing right], which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that [great] day—and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and longed for and welcomed His appearing.
The goal was for everyone to cross the finish line.
Not just him.
Not just those alive during his earthly ministry.
Jesus came to earth with a future-focus.
He came to earth with a selfless focus.
Jesus knew if the message terminated on him, his mission failed.
The same is true for the church today.
If our infinitely selfish actions and attitudes create an untenable environment is not sustainable for the “great clouds of witnesses” next generations, we’ll fail.
The church is infinitely larger than us.
The church is infinitely more than the here and now.
Again, the next generation is my passion.
I will never give up on them.
I vow to spend more time affirming and loving them than condemning them.
The real and genuine and living Jesus of the Gospels shows us some principles for reaching into every single one of all those “next upcoming generations.”
– I pray we’ll think seriously about them!
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us pray,
Psalm 100Amplified Bible
All Men Exhorted to Praise God.
A Psalm of Thanksgiving.
100 Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness and delight;
Come before His presence with joyful singing.
Know and fully recognize with gratitude that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, [a]not we ourselves [and we are His].
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with a song of thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, bless and praise His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy and lovingkindness are everlasting,
His faithfulness [endures] to all generations.