The God of my father

Read: Genesis 31-32, Matthew 10:24-42

My grandfather was a pastor. For nearly my entire life, he was my pastor. That is, until he died.

Called to the ministry long before he entered it, he had an anointing to heal. People from all over were drawn to his charisma, his grand personality. He was a strong man in ideals and in faith. When he passed away, another minister preached—yes, preached—at his funeral. A room full of people from every facet of his life, both from church and work, heard this pastor speak of the mantle that would now be passed on. Like Elijah to Elisha, the anointing of Papa’s ministry would pass on, but not just to one person. It would spread. The foundation that he laid would not go to waste. The ceiling of his ministry would become the floor for those who would follow in his footsteps.

What is the significance in those who have gone before us?

All through the Bible, God is referred to as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel). It was recognised that the men who had gone before had a certain relationship with God. It was generational. And it was important to remember.

…the God of your father…

Genesis 31:29 (NIV)

If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac…

Genesis 31:42 (NIV)

Genesis 31:53

“O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac…”

Genesis 32:9 (NIV)

In two chapters of Genesis, there are no less than four examples of God being referred to as the God of a generation passed. Why?

Because God made promises to Abraham and to Isaac. Over and over again, God had proven himself faithful to Jacob’s father and grandfather. In his persistent reference to the God of his fathers, he reminded himself of those promises and that faithfulness.

We may throw away many things from the previous generation, but one thing that should never be set aside is the faith—the God—of our fathers. I don’t for one second take for granted the spiritual foundation that my grandfather laid. I know that he prayed for every person in his family by name every day. He prayed for me. I know that his work and his prayers were not in vain. I know that the relationship with God that I enjoy today has a lot to do with the relationship he had with God while he still walked this earth.

If you are fortunate enough to belong to the God of your fathers, don’t take it for granted. Look into your heritage and see the promises and the faithfulness.

If you are the first in your line, lay the foundation for future generations. Be the Abraham in your lineage.

Let us never forget the God of our fathers.

Hope anew

As humans, when left entirely to our own devices, we make poor choices.

left alone

Whether it be cereal or flour all over the kitchen, makeup all over the bathroom, or permanent marker all over the sibling, no kid ever had to be taught to make a bad decision. It all comes naturally. If we are never taught any different and are left to make our own choices, it is pretty much a guarantee that life will become a series of one bad decision after another.

People need to be free to make their own choices. Yes, they do, but they also need to be taught to make the right choices.

I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—
stories we have heard and know,
stories our ancestors handed down to us.
We will not hide these truths from our children
but we will tell the next generation about
the glorious deeds of the Lord.
We will tell of his power and the mighty
miracles he did.
For he issued his decree to Jacob;
he gave his law to Israel.
He commanded our ancestors
to teach them to their children,
so the next generation might know them—
even the children not yet born—
that they might teach their children
So each generation can set its hope anew on God
remembering his glorious miracles
and obeying his commands.
Then they will not be like their ancestors—
stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful,
refusing to give their hearts to God.

Psalm 78:2b-8 (NLT)

There are reasons why the Bible first, exists, and second, is full of verses about wisdom, knowledge, and instruction. These are not things that happen by chance. As you can see by the photos above, humans aren’t born wise. We are all prone to bad decision-making.

If you’ve been instructed to go somewhere you’ve never been before, but have not been given a map, how will you ever get there? Will chance lead you to that place? It’s doubtful.

Teach your child to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it.

Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)

Young or old, every person must be taught to make good choices—it’s never too late. Just like Israel passed on accounts of the miraculous things God did for their nation, so should we pass on accounts of the things God has done for, in, and through us. If the people around us are never given a map, how can we expect them to arrive at salvation?

…but you go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.

Luke 9:60b (NIV)

PROCLAIM: to announce; to utter openly; to make public

Church, it is our mandate to publicly proclaim the Gospel, to utter it openly, to make it public, to know Christ and to make him known.

So you must never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.

2 Timothy 1:8a (NLT)

This generation and the ones to follow will not be able to remember God’s glorious miracles if they never heard about them in the first place. When God does something, talk about it! When He says something, tell someone else. Give the next generation the opportunity to set their hope anew on God.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 78, Romans 7

Preservation

Even though it may not feel like it, we do not live in the first generation that has been overcome with lies disguised as truth. David was struck with an agony many faithful Christians feel today. And never in my life has his words seemed so apt.

Help, O Lord, for the godly are fast disappearing!
The faithful have vanished from the earth.

Psalm 12:1 (NLT)

David’s cry is not so different from that which we are hearing from those churches that have remained faithful—even when it would seem that popular culture wants them to alter the foundation of their doctrine. Even when the words of Jesus himself are considered hateful.

When the world is full of lies, even though it may be easier, it is our responsibility as those who bear the name of Christ both to preserve and to proclaim the truth. Our trust must be in our God, not our government. Our government can’t (or maybe even won’t) save us, but God already has. It is that fact that should keep us on our path in pursuit of truth—God has already saved us!

Therefore, Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed,
preserving them forever from this lying generation,
even though the wicked strut about
and evil is praised throughout the land.

Psalm 12:7-8 (NLT)

The pull of the world may be strong, but God is stronger. The lies may hide the truth, but the Truth lives longer.

Our help is from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 124:8 (NLT)

When the wicked strut about, remember who your help is and where it comes from. God can and will preserve His Church. Trust in that.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 10-12, Acts 17:16-34

The former generation

“You don’t understand.”

“These are different times.”

“It’s not the same as it was for you.”

As young people, we probably all said this to an older person or two. If you’re not so young anymore, you’ve probably heard a phrase or two like this. There are a great many things that change with each generation, but what young people never seem to realise is that there are also a great many things that never change.

To some extent, we all want to feel as though we’re the only person who’s ever gone through what we’re going through. We want to be special. We want to be alone in the situation. If we admit that someone else may have gone through it before, it would mean we’d have to listen to that person and, suddenly, we’re not as special and unique as we thought we were.

Job, in his great trouble and misery has spent a lot of time complaining—and justly so! A few of his buddies came to try and talk some sense into him.

Just ask the former generation. Pay attention to the experience of our ancestors. For we were born but yesterday and know so little. Our days on earth are as transient as a shadow. But those who came before us will teach you. They will teach you from the wisdom of former generations.

Job 8:8-10 (NLT)

This is kind of slap in the face to Job hearing a friend tell him to suck it up because he’s not the only person who’s ever lost everything. There were others. Learn from them.

I get made fun of a lot because the majority of my social circles include people at least two decades older than me. Most of my friends are old enough to be my parents, if not grandparents. As much as it would be nice to hang out with people my own age, I wouldn’t trade my friends for anything. When I sit in a room full of ladies who have lived full lives, I am surrounded with centuries of life experience. Anything I could possibly go through, one of those women has probably gone through it. Their generosity in how they are willing to share from their experiences often astounds me. There is so much to learn. And I don’t understand those who don’t see the benefit of sitting with and learning from someone older than they.

Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, was one of those young people who refused to listen to the advice of the older generation. He scorned the advice of his father’s advisors and listened to his young friends instead. His legacy was much less than that of his father’s.

But he was an evil king, for he did not seek the Lord with all his heart.

2 Chronicles 12:14 (NLT)

Don’t allow yourself to go through life believing that there is nothing to be learned from generations passed. If you are young, seek the wisdom of the old. If you are old, don’t be stingy with sharing your experience.

Times may change, but wise council does not. This world may be full of knowledge, but it is lacking in wisdom. We must all be willing to both seek and share wisdom if we are going to see change.

Daily Bible reading: Job 7-9, Acts 7:44-60

Proof

Life is all about proof. We all need to prove ourselves. When you’re looking for a job, you need to prove that you’re qualified. When you want to buy a house, you need to prove you can make the mortgage payments. When you want to cross a border, you need to prove who you are.

When he [Abraham] had proven himself faithful, he [God] made a covenant with him…

Nehemiah 9:8a (NLT)

Abraham had to prove himself worthy before God would cut a covenant with him. God wanted proof that this guy was going to be faithful before He bestowed blessings on him.

Many Christians are still acting like Abraham, trying to prove themselves worthy of a covenant with God. While Abraham was required to offer proof of faithfulness, God cut a covenant with us knowing full well we were all unfaithful. He knew when He sent Jesus to the cross that He was making a covenant with generation after generation of unfaithful people.

There is nothing that we can do to prove ourselves worthy of the covenant God has made with us. Our worth comes when we accept the gift God has so freely given to us.

Under the old covenant, the priest stands before the altar day after day, making sacrifices that can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as one sacrifice for sins, good for all time. For by that one offering he perfected forever all those whom he is making holy.

Hebrews 10:11-12, 14 (NLT)

Our proof is in Jesus’ sacrifice. In his blood. It is the only proof of worth we need when we come to stand before the throne of God. Works will not make us more or less worthy of the covenant, because by that one offering Jesus perfected forever all of us whom the Father is making holy.

There’s your proof.

Daily Bible reading: Nehemiah 9-11, Acts 4:1-22

A promise kept

I’ve often heard that God can do whatever He wants. He can do anything. There is nothing He cannot do. I will never dispute the omnipotence of God. There is no one or nothing more able than He. But there are a few things that God truly is incapable of.

God cannot lie. It is not in His nature to do so. If He is Truth, there can be no falsehood in Him at all. God cannot hate. Again, if He is Love, there is room for nothing else. So, if God has made a promise, He is unable to break it. It must come to pass.

Israel, as much as they seemed to love wandering in the wilderness or being enslaved by other nations, had a promise from God. They would have their own land. Good land. Prosperous land. And, nearly a half century after they left their bondage in Egypt, they got their land. Every tribe had received their inheritance. They were able to drive their enemies from the land and finally live in peace.

Could they have done this on their own? Most certainly not! They were a fickle nation—impatient with a tendency to be easily swayed away from God even though they were a massive living, breathing, eating, walking miracle. Could God have just pulled them out of Egypt and plopped them in the Promised Land? Probably. But would they have been able to enjoy the land? Would they have had peace within their borders? Would they have learned to trust God?

If you give a kid everything they want without making them work for any of it, what do you get? A spoiled brat! Like Veruca Salt wanting the golden egg now, a kid who has never has to work for a reward isn’t good for much of anything. They’re a bad egg.

But teach a kid to work for reward and they have the opportunity to become successful, valuable members in society. Perhaps this is the same principle God was using in leading Israel from Egypt. Had they made it to Canaan in the two weeks it should have taken them, I doubt they would have been able to take the land. The scouts Moses sent ahead were proof of that.

Instead, it took an entire generation to retrain a nation for victory. God had to wait until the unbelief died off and only the faithful remained. It took 40 years of training and teaching for Israel to finally be ready to take hold of their Promise.

So when it seems as though you’re being led through the wilderness, perhaps it is God trying to train and teach you to take the promise. God doesn’t need a nation of spoiled brats, He needs an army of strong servants.

All of the good promises that the Lord had given Israel came true.

Joshua 21:45 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Joshua 21-22, Luke 6:1-26

God of the living

Sometimes I wonder how much of what I enjoy today is because of the faithfulness of previous generations. I know that, as far back as we have been able to trace, my family has been Christians. And not just Christians – many of them in active ministry. Many still are.

From there Isaac moved to Beersheba, where the Lord appeared to him on the night of his arrival. “I am the God of your father, Abraham,” he said. “Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you. I will give you many descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will do this because of my promise to Abraham, my servant.”

Genesis 26:23-24 (NLT)

Isaac was able to begin to see the fulfilment of God’s promise, not because of who he was, but because of who his father was. His prosperity was a result of the promise God had made to Abraham, not to Isaac.

‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ So he is the God of the living, not the dead.

Matthew 22:32 (NLT)

Here, upon returning to the land his father had inhabited, Isaac is reminded of the promise that God made to Abraham. Abraham’s faithfulness and obedience allowed Isaac, as well as the generations that followed, to enjoy the fruit.

Who has been faithful in the generations that came before you? Are you enjoying the fruits of their faithfulness?

Perhaps you are the first generation of the faithful. Think about what you could be planting for the generations that come after you. Abraham never lived to see the whole promise fulfilled. Perhaps you won’t either, but your children might. Maybe your grandchildren and many generations after that.

Seeds of faithfulness and obedience never die.

Daily Bible reading: Genesis 25-26,Matthew 9:1-17