Robert Jeffress - A Legacy of Faith - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. In one respect, faith is something deeply personal. It's a private relationship between you and your Creator. But in another way, faith is something that should be openly shared and passed on to the next generation. Last time, we talked about Abraham, a man who understood this dynamic. And today, I'm going to show you how to model Abraham, and how to pass down your faith in God to the next generation. My message is titled, "A Legacy of Faith", on today's edition of, Pathway to Victory.
At this point, Isaac was a young teenager, perhaps 18 or even 19 years of age. He was stronger than his father. He could have resisted his father. He could have crawled off that altar if he wanted to, but he willingly submitted to his father's will. The Bible says he was a type of Jesus Christ, who was equal with God the Father, but he willingly offered himself as a sacrifice for your sins and my sins. Why did Isaac submit to Abraham's command? Because Abraham had passed on his faith to his son, Isaac. If God had said it, that settled it for Isaac. He willingly submitted to Abraham, because Abraham had passed on his faith to Isaac. And that's what we talk about in these verses. The laboratory of faith is the home, but the legacy of our faith is our children and our grandchildren. Abraham had told Isaac the miraculous stories of how God called him out of Ur, how God had protected his mother from Abimelech, even after Abraham had sinned, about how God had brought them to the Promised Land, and hearing all of those stories of faith from his dad made Isaac assured that he could trust in God too to fulfill his promises. But the faith message didn't stop with Isaac. Isaac passed on that message as well.
Look at verse 20, "By faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come". You know, the story of Isaac passing on the blessing to Jacob, it's a weird story. It's shrouded in deception and dishonesty, but the point is, Isaac, before his death, said to Jacob, "God hadn't fulfilled all of his promise yet, but you can trust him". As Isaac prepared to die, he said, "Jacob, follow God. He can be trusted to do what he's promised to do". And then Isaac passed on that faith to his son, Jacob. Look at verse 21, "By faith, Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff". When Jacob was about to die, he called in his son Joseph, and Joseph sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. And he said to his son and to his grandsons, "I'm about to die. God hasn't fulfilled his promise yet, but he'll do it one day. Trust him, follow him".
By the way, notice he passed on that message, not only to his children, but to his grandchildren. Grandparents, don't underestimate the role you play in your grandchildren's faith. You know, Julia and Ryan do such a great job of teaching the triplets. They're such better parents than I ever was in that way. But Amy and I have a role to play too, just like you do, in helping, supplementing, supporting what their parents are trying to teach them. You know, the best way, grandparents, for you to model faith to your grandchildren is by telling them stories they will remember, stories about how maybe God led you to your mate, stories about how God gave you direction when you were confused about which way to go, about God supernaturally providing for you when you had a need. Pass on to them those stories that they'll remember about how God can be trusted to do what he has promised to do. But it didn't stop there. The son Jacob passed on the blessing to Joseph, look at verse 22, "By faith, Joseph, when he was dying made mention of the Exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones".
Think about it, Joseph had spent from age 17 to age 110 in Egypt, away from the Promised Land, and was going to die in Egypt. But before he died, he wanted his children to remember the promise that one day God would lead an Exodus out of Egypt. And when he did, he wanted whoever was responsible to carry Joseph's own bones out of Egypt, into the Promised Land. In fact, in Genesis 50:24-25, we find that command, "Joseph said to his brothers, 'I'm about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which he promised as an oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob'. And then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, 'God will surely take care of you. You shall carry my bones up from here'". Whenever it's time to go, have somebody dig me up, and take my bones with them, because I want to go to the Promised Land. You know how long it took for that to happen? 400 years, 400 years later, God chose a man named Moses to lead the Exodus. And look at Exodus 13:19, "And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, 'God will surely take care of you. You shall carry my bones from here with you'".
Now, how did Moses know about that? He had never met Joseph. He never met Jacob, or Abraham, or Isaac. Those are just names to him. How did he know about a command that had been given 400 years earlier? There was no Bible yet. It's because every parent had passed on to his children and grandchildren that truth that you can trust in God, and carry the bones of Joseph whenever it's time to go. They had passed on their faith from generation to generation. You know, Dr. Chris wool used to say, "Every civilization is just one generation away from barbarianism". If one generation neglects to pass on its faith, that civilization is gone forever. The Israelites passed that faith from generation to generation to generation. Chuck Swindoll said one time, "There are two different ways to view your home. You can view your home as a holding tank, where kids are fed and clothed, and educated, until you send them out on their own, a holding tank. Or you can view your home as a training ground, where they learn the invaluable lessons of faith that will sustain them through their life".
God wants your family, your home to be a training ground, to teach them the lessons of God. What are those lessons we need to teach our children? Let me mention two, the two most important spiritual lessons you can communicate to your children and your grandchildren. First of all, the sovereignty of God. Nothing happens by accident. That is, every joy in life and every sorrow, every victory and every failure, everything that happens is under God's control. There are no accidents for a child of God. And included in that list of all things are the hurts and disappointments we have in life. One thing you can know for sure that your children and grandchildren are going to experience at some point in their life, is a deep hurt from somebody else. Your child or grandchild, at some point in their life is going to be hurt and hurt deeply. The best thing you can teach them is how to handle that disappointment. They can either be consumed with bitterness, and allow it to destroy their life, or they can learn the lesson of forgiveness, of forgiveness that is based on the sovereignty of God.
You know, I think about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. One thing they all had in common is they were hurt. They were wronged by other people. Abraham wrong by his nephew, lot. Isaac, his wells were filled up by the Philistines. Jacob cheated by his uncle Laban, and Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers. But remember, God used that wrong of his brothers to place Joseph ultimately as Pharaoh's right-hand man in Egypt. And when Joseph was finally reunited with his brothers, they thought Joseph would surely kill them for what they had done. He said, "No, you meant it for evil, but God used it for good". Folks, the greatest thing you can teach your children and grandchildren is God can use the worst things that happened to them, the worst offenses by other people, and God is so powerful, he can take those horrible things that happen to them and use them for your children's good, and for God's ultimate glory. Teach them about the sovereignty of God. Nothing or no one is going to thwart God's purpose for their life.
Secondly, we need to teach our children the sufficiency of God, that is God can be trusted. God can be trusted to do what he's promised to do, to provide for our needs. You know, one way parents, you can teach your children that, especially when they're younger and at home is have a family prayer list, a list of things you pray together for regularly, as a family, and then see how God answers those requests, with a yes, with a no, with a maybe wait. That'll teach them about God's faithfulness.
When I think about that, I think about my old mentor now in heaven, from Dallas seminary, Howard Hendricks. He used to love to tell the story about a family that came to Dallas seminary. They had owned a business, but they felt God's call. And so they gave up the business, and they came to the seminary. They were struggling financially, but every night they would have a family prayer time with their four sons. At one of those prayer times, the youngest son, Timmy, said, "Could I ask for a new shirt? I need a new shirt". They said, "Sure," so they put down a new shirt for Timmy. The mom added size seven. And every night they prayed for that shirt. One day out of the blue, the mom got a phone call from a owner of a clothing store here in Dallas. He knew the family and knew some of their difficulties. And he said, "We just had our July liquidation sale, and we have some leftover shirts for boys. Wondered if you could use some"? She said, "What size"? He said, "Size seven". The mom said, "How many of them do you have"? He said, "12".
Now most parents would kinda say, "Oh, guess what Timmy, we got some shirts today," and so forth, and give them to them. Not this mom and dad, they wanted to make this a faith lesson. So they had their prayer time that night. And Timmy said, "Don't forget to pray for the shirt". They said, "No, we're not going to pray for the shirt tonight". He said, "Why not"? They said, "God's answered the prayer". "He has"? And on cue, it had been prearranged, one of the older brothers went into the other room and brought out one of the shirts, and plopped it in front of Timmy. His eyes were bigger than saucers. He went out and got another shirt, and another one, and another one, piled those shirts up until Timmy was sure God had gone into the clothing business. But Dr. Hendricks used to say, "Today there's a little boy named Timmy, who believes in a God who cares about his needs enough to provide a shirt for him".
Do your children know that? Do they know how to trust in the sufficiency of God? You know, we teach our children about the sufficiency of God, not only through answered prayer and blessings, but also through the adversities that we face. I think it's interesting that these men, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, they passed on the blessing. They passed on their message of you can trust in God, while they were dying. Not while they were living, but while they were dying, you can trust God. You know, my parents were wonderful Christians. They taught me a lot of lessons in life, most of which I have forgotten, just because of age and stage. But I will never forget their final words each of them spoke to me before they died. Never forget them, "Be faithful to your calling, follow God with all of your heart". Those final words were lasting words, and they will be for you as well. We teach faith by not only how we live, but also how we die.
Listen to this true story. After only four hours of the illness, Becky Fremont died, leaving her husband Adam, and their young daughter Carrie, crushed with grief when the funeral was over. Kind friends advised Adam, you can't go home now. Bring Carrie and stay with us for a few days until you can face going home again. Adam Fremont refused. I've gotta fight it out in the same place, in the same room where I lost Becky. I've gotta go back to where I lost her and win the battle if I can win it at all.
So Adam went back to his hollow house, with his little flaxen haired daughter. He moved Carrie's bed next to his, and they settled down to sleep. It was a moonless starless night, with a blackness as cold and black as the grief, that smothered him crushing his breath. His daughter Carrie sobs, brought him back from the abyss that threatened him. Pathetic heartbreaking cries such as only can come from a little girl, who knows her mother will never come back. Adam reached across with his big hand patting her, speaking softly trying to comfort her. I'm trying to stop daddy, I really am, I really am, but I can't stop.
He lifted her into his bed and put her damp face against his chest. She lay there several minutes, her sobs subsided. And then her small voice came quietly. Dad it's so dark, I can't see you. Do you love me daddy even though I can't see you, even though I don't know where you are? Yes, sweetheart, you know I love you. But daddy it's so dark. He spoke softly and gently until she fell asleep.
Sleep alluded Adam Fremont that night. His burning eyes searched through the blackness for a hint of light and he found none. Alone, so an utterly empty and alone, so he took the cry from his daughter's lips, took it as his own and passed it up to God. It's so dark Lord, so dark. I've never known it to be so dark before. Or do you still love me? His voice trembled as he spoke, I need your help, Lord, I can't make it alone. The wonder of God's reply still clung to his voice, as he told the story to concerned friends the next day. There came a light into the room, an illumination. No, I didn't see anything, but I felt a loving presence right there. And I turned my grief over to the Lord. He took my burden and Carrie and I went free. Carrie Fremont learned about faith, in her home, and so do we.