Our legacy is at stake

Exodus 1:15-17 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.

What exactly was the king up to in this passage of scripture? We know from the previous verses, he was upset that the Israelites were becoming too numerous. He was afraid that if a war broke out, God’s people would turn on him. He wanted to preserve himself and his people, so he turned on them. The method in which he turned on them was the most disturbing – he went after the babies. Specifically, he went after the baby boys.

Now why would he do that? On the surface, it appears that his concern was reproduction. But it would be 20 years until these boys married and had babies of their own. Besides, he let the girls live. Weren’t they the ones that would someday carry the babies? Couldn’t older men take them as wives and get them pregnant? Here’s the thing – I think the king of Egypt was after more than just babies; I think he was after legacy.

Father-reading-with-sonws

Legacy. It was the boys who would someday carry on the family name. It was the young men who would build upon the trades of their fathers. It was the fathers who would someday impart the ways of the Lord to their families. It was the elders who would impart wisdom to the next generation. Legacy. If the king could eliminate the carriers of legacy, then he could eliminate God’s people altogether. 

We live in a culture today, in which there is a real enemy that is standing against the legacy of God. That enemy takes on the form of political correctness and tolerance. It takes on the image of pointing fingers toward the faces of Christians, yelling “bigots!” Here’s the thing, the enemy isn’t really after universal love and acceptance. He isn’t after tolerance in the name of inclusiveness. He is after our legacy. He is commanding that the Spirit of Christ be crushed in our children and in our young adults, and even in our own hearts. But we must be like the midwives who fear God more than we fear the king. Because, our legacy is at stake. Who will take a stand against the plans of the enemy? Will you? It’s time for us to rise, church! It’s time for us to get purposeful about the legacy which we are to carry.

 

That’s a weird name for a tree

Genesis 21:33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the LORD, the Eternal God.

tamarisk treeI have some trees in my back yard, or are they shrubs?  All I know is that this one variety has three different names.  Pyramidalis, thuja, and something else I can’t think of.  All I know is that when I bought them I was told they are low maintenance.  They have proven to live up to that promise, so I quite enjoy them.  I think permadalis is a strange name for a tree.  But there are trees with even weirder names.  Names like: elderberry, bladdernut, harlequin glorybower (it’s real, I promise), devil’s stick, and tree of heaven.

Then there’s the tree that Abraham planted.  It was a tamarisk tree.  Exciting isn’t it?  I mean this is big time biblical stuff!  Abraham planted a tree everyone – woohoo!  I’m off to read some more genealogies!  Now before you think I’m crazy for blogging about a tree, stick with me for a minute.  The tamarisk tree took a really long time to grow… like several generations.  For hundreds of years, it isn’t any good to anyone.  But when it is good and old, it gets really big and provides shade.  That may not sound like much to you, but in the desert, that is a big deal.  So Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in a desert that didn’t belong to him. What’s the point?

That seedling was a statement of faith.  You see, someday hundreds of years later, Abraham’s descendants would own that land.  How did he know that?  Because God promised Him.  And all those years later his great, great, great grandchildren would find refuge under a tree that someone from a previous generation had planted.  I wonder sometimes if we only plant spiritual trees that will give us shade for today.  Like Abraham, we are invited by God to plant trees that we will never see fully grow.  We are invited to plant trees that will be a legacy for future generations.  Abraham planted a tamarisk tree. Will you?

*Are you planting any tamarisk trees in your own life?

The benchmark

2 Kings 16:2  Ahaz was 20 years old when he became king and reigned 16 years in Jerusalem. He did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD his God like his ancestor David

This book of stories in the book of 2 Kings could be summed up using this illustration:  God would be holding a flower and as He picks off each petal, He would be saying, “he loves me, he loves me not.”  Because that is what seems to be happening in the this book.  A king rises up and follows the Lord and then the next one doesn’t follow Him at all.  It’s like these guys never established their thrones to the point in which they would have a legacy.  They were fickle and every generation decided to go his own way.

There was a benchmark, however.  His name was David.  I noticed this morning, that throughout this book, the kings were measured against David.  They weren’t measured in regards to their leadership or the size of their kingdom.  They weren’t measured based on the number of wars they one or the number of children they had.  They were measured against his zeal for the Lord.  It was always about whether they did what was right in the sight of the Lord as David did.  Some of them even came close, but never hit the mark that he set.

I’ll bet that David didn’t know he would be the benchmark.  He wasn’t all that concerned with winning a trophy from God.  He just served him with his life, and his life did the talking.  For years to come, his pursuit of the Lord was the standard.  It’s amazing, really, to think about setting that standard for others to follow you.  And I wonder if I am doing the same.  I wonder if generations to come after me will look at my life and define it by how I followed the Lord.  Yes, I want to be a benchmark.  Not because I want fame or honor or even recognition.  I just want to follow the Lord with my whole heart and my whole life to a degree that others will take notice.  I want to give them something to strive for.  And like David, I want to be set apart for His plans, His purposes, and His glory.

 

Long-Term Planning

1 Kings 15:4,9-11   But because of David, the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem to raise up his son after him and to establish Jerusalem.   In the twentieth year of Israel’s King Jeroboam, Asa became king of Judah and reigned 41 years in Jerusalem. His grandmother’s name was Maacah daughter of Abishalom.  Asa did what was right in the LORD’s eyes, as his ancestor David had done. 

For some people, long-term planning means that they have plans for tonight.  They live minute by minute, often living for themselves.  While it is good to live in the moment, it’s also good to look ahead.  Looking ahead demands that your consider the involvement of others.  It requires that you think beyond yourself and think about how your plans and actions affect other people.  Do you ever consider that your life today will affect someone tomorrow?

In 1 Kings, we read about evil kings.  We read about these guys who did not follow the Lord as their ancestor David did.  They ruled to their own pleasure and desires.  They turned to other gods and turned their back on the Lord.  Consequently, their reign was not blessed.  But there was this one guy who came along named Asa.  His parents and grandparents didn’t follow the Lord.  Everything modeled for him was wicked.  And even though he had a bad example set for him, he found the Lord.  He destroyed the despicable things his parents had done.  He turned his heart to God the way his ancestor David did.  

You see, David laid the groundwork for a generation that would come long after he died.  It says here in 1 Kings that it was because of David that God raised up Asa to be a man who did right in the eyes of the Lord.  That’s some serious long-term planning on David’s part!  We, too must realize that our lives are not just about us.  We think in terms of how our actions affect us.  We pursue wicked things in our heart thinking it won’t hurt anybody.  But there is something great at stake: our legacy.  We have the opportunity to live a life for the Lord that will be passed down to generation after generation.  Think bigger today and pave the way for your great-great-great grandchildren.

Work harder, not smarter?

1 Kings 2:1-4 ​When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son. “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, and that the LORD may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’

(This one is mostly for the men out there, although it applies to everyone.)  We’ve all heard the old saying: work smarter, not harder?  Well I personally believe we should work both smarter and harder, but whatever.  The point is, wisdom tells us to think about what we are doing so that we don’t wear ourselves out with work that is pointless.  We practice this principle at our jobs, our ministries, and our sports endeavors; but I wonder if we practice it in our homes?

David was a wise man who gave some great advice to his son, who by the way became the wisest man who ever lived.  His advice? Son, it’s not so much about what you accomplish while you are on the throne.  The quantity of your work isn’t what is going to matter in the long run.  What really matters is that your descendants serve the Lord with their whole hearts.  If you can instill that in the generations to come, our family will always be on top. 

Now for some reason, men in our culture have put much more stock in what we accomplish today than what will matter tomorrow. We have relegated the responsibility of raising our kids to our wives, schools, sunday school teachers, and disney TV shows. We would rather they “go find something to do” than interact with them on a personal level.  It’s not okay, people.  It’s NOT OKAY! 

We must take a cue from David.  It’s not about what I accomplished at work today.  It’s not about the wars I will win or the money I will make.  It’s about me investing in the next generation.  It is about me taking an active role in preparing them to serve the Lord with all their heart and soul.  Someday, my great-great grandchildren will be on top because of it. 

I’ll fight with my dentures

1 Samuel 31:4-6 4 Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.” But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. 6 So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.

We all have the opportunity to leave a legacy.  It is comprised of the values we esteem, the impression we leave on others, and the choices we make.  It is defined by the way we lead and the way we serve.  And it is wrapped up by the way we finish.  While we all have our bumps along the road of life, the finish line is what really matters most.  A strong finish can make you forget all the mistakes in between.  But what happens when you fail to end well?  How would it feel to know you have failed at leaving a worthwhile legacy to those behind you?

Such is the case with Saul.  He started off so well.  He was the first king that Israel ever had.  Sure he made mistakes along the way, but he had the opportunity to finish out his reign and his life with dignity and pass something onto those behind him.  Instead, he spent his latter years consumed with trying to hunt down David and kill him.  He visited a medium to call up the spirit of Samuel because he couldn’t get God to answer him.  Just really bad choices, people!

What sticks out to me the most, however, is his miserable finish.  He doesn’t go down fighting valiantly defending the honor of the Lord.  No, he fell on his sword and killed himself.  Lame.  And that was it, the end of the first king of Israel.  All that I can remember about his reign was the fact that he was a miserable failure who died a cowardly death.  Legacy FAIL.

There is no way I am going to follow in Saul’s footsteps.  I am going to finish well.  Even if I have no sword and I have to fight the enemy with my dentures – so be it!  I will be marked as a man of God, full of courage.  And I am going to think about the legacy I am leaving too.  Because we leave one whether we try to or not.  Some people might leave a legacy of alcoholism, abuse, violence, or anger.  They don’t mean to, but they do.  So I am going to think about what I am passing on.  I am going to work at it.  I am going to consciously leave a legacy every day of my life.