Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Next Generation


“When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.  Judges 2:10

The failure of the nation of Israel did not stop with their disobedience to rid their new land of the former occupants, as we talked about yesterday.  But rather their failure continued to drag them even further away from God when they also failed to pass their love, devotion, and fear of the Lord to their children along with the practice of worshipping the God they followed. 

These parents failed to tell their stories of faith and of God’s goodness and mighty power, and therefore they failed to keep their covenant before the Lord, which was to worship Him and devote their existence and all they did around His character and to follow Him for all generations to come.  For that reason, when the parents who made those promises for their descendants were finally gone, the next generation was not in equipped with the ability to keep the covenant their parents had made for them and their heirs to follow.  It was only a natural consequence of the parent’s negligence that their children sought out the gods of the other nations around them and did not see the value of worshipping the God of their fathers nor the importance of the covenant made for them.

We have seen parallels to this type of parenting throughout the generations, both in the arenas of faith and in the secular world.  Parents not instilling the why behind the things they do and working on instilling a deep heart-felt value for the things they do and love and therefore leaving their children with great methods for working hard, spending money wisely, worshipping God, tithing, etc. but the child in essence only copying dutifully under the eye of the parent.  Children who are taught to do, but are not given the heart level understanding of the why that would internally drive them to carry on the actions of their parents are apt to never develop a sincere desire to make the ways of their parents their own.  Rather, if left on their own accord to internally motivate themselves to copy the actions of a parent, a child will either feel condemned to follow those ways out of duty or guilt or they will choose to follow the unchecked lusts of their own heart and rebel against the ways of their parent.  In essence both types of behavior, suppression of self and rebellion, are limitations the parent brings upon the child by not teaching the child’s heart over his behavior.

A long time back I learned the lesson that no matter how hard I try to correct my children’s behavior, the true success I was privy to witness in their development always came when their hearts had been changed and they then took the initiative themselves to internalize a change in their actions to match their hearts.   Changing the hearts of my children to seek the Lord and His ways is much more important to me than seeing their beds made every morning or them wearing matching clothes when they go out in public (although that is not a bad thing when they do choose to do so).  Why?  Because I know as I share my heart with them and stories of God working in my life, God changes their hearts and I see changes in their behavior that have been internalize not just actions they are taking to appease me.  Rather, my children change their actions because they have been convicted by God to make those changes in their lives – changes that withstand the test of time and future circumstances they will be called out on to make choices regarding those same heart issues, and because they have internalized the why behind their actions they will be equipped to stand strong on their own when the tests do come.

If you see the heart of you or your children just following dutifully the lines that have been drawn before you but there is no deep heartfelt desire for the Lord driving your actions, take some time today to seek the Lord and sit in His presence.  Sing of His goodness and recall His wonderful works.  Make time to list the things the Lord has done for you, give thanks to Him for what He has done and share those stories with the people God has put into your life.  When we focus our hearts on God we cannot help but have a heart that moves into line with Him and His underlying purposes for us and for those who we desire to follow the Lord we love.

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