Sunday, August 28, 2022

Sunday Sermon: "Raising Godly Generations"


SERMON: “Raising Godly Generations”

SCRIPTURE: Deuteronomy 6:1–25

Open your Bible to Deuteronomy chapter 6. Our text this morning, in honor of Move-Up Sunday, tells us about how to raise up godly children and godly grandchildren (Deut. 6:2). Our goal and prayer should be that our godly children raise godly children who in turn raise godly children. It’s the principle of 2 Timothy 2:2: “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” There are four generations there: Paul, Timothy, faithful men, and others also. That multi-generational discipleship process should take place in our families.

So how can we, as Christian parents, raise up godly generations? Moses preached Deuteronomy 6 to Israel as they prepared to enter the land of Canaan. They would face many temptations in the land. They would be surrounded by pagans. His point is:

To raise up godly generations, love God fervently, teach your children diligently, and live in the world carefully. Listen to Deut. 6:1-3,

“Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

Notice, verse 3, then it will be “well with you” (Deut. 6:3) under God’s blessing. So, let’s think more together about how to raise up godly generations here at the Plymouth Church of Christ. First,

1. To raise up godly generations, love God fervently (Deut. 6:4–6).

Deuteronomy 6:4–6: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.”

The most important requirement for raising godly generations is for you to have personal reality with God. You cannot pass on to your children what you do not possess. You must have a REAL relationship with God. Now, this requires two things:

A. To love God fervently, you must know Him through His Word.

Verse 4 is called the “Shema” (from the Hebrew, “Hear”). This is the central tenet of Judaism, recited daily by devout Jews. The call to “hear” implies that the following words are very important and must be obeyed. What we are to hear is, “Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one.” It means that Yahweh is the only true and living God, and He alone is to be the object of our worship. As the Lord proclaims (Isa. 45:5), “I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God.” He is one God who exists in three co-equal, co-eternal persons, as implied in several places in the Old Testament, and made explicit in the New.

The only way to know this triune God is by His revelation to us of Himself through His Word. We don’t learn about Him through philosophy, mystical experiences, or subjective feelings, but only through His written Word, which Moses emphasizes here (v. 1, “commandment, statutes, judgments”; v. 6, “these words”).

We are not only to know this Almighty God, but also we are to love Him (v. 5, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might).” Jesus (Matt. 22) identified loving God as “the great and foremost commandment” in Scripture. It’s not enough to know about God through His Word; also, you must love Him with your total being. This means entering into a personal relationship with God through saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But like any relationship, you have to maintain and deepen it by spending time alone with the Lord each day, reading and studying the Bible with the constant prayer, “Lord, help me to know You better through Your Word!” That should be your number one priority. Personally knowing and loving God is the foundation for raising up godly generations after you. So you must know God, and you must know Him as He has revealed Himself through His Word.

B. To love God fervently, you must walk with Him with reality on the heart level.

Moses says (Deut. 6:5–6), “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.” The idea of “heart, soul, and might” (Jesus adds “mind,” Matt. 22:37) is total-person love for God. Every area of our being must be consumed with this great quest of loving God. A personal relationship with God is essential. Jesus condemned the Pharisees because, although they were very religious and honored God with their lips, their hearts were far from Him. They kept their religious rituals, but lacked a love relationship with God. If we’re not careful, it’s easy to fall into going through the motions of being Christians outwardly, but all the while, we’re not loving God on the heart level.

Loving God is not just a matter of having warm feelings about Him, although we should feel love for Him. Genuine love for God results in obedience to His Word. As Jesus said (John 14:21), “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” Genuine Christianity is growing to know God better through His Word and obeying Him more and more, beginning on the heart or thought level, motivated by His great love for us as seen at the cross.

Now, you say, Matthew how does this apply to raising our children? Well, here’s how this applies to raising our children in the Lord: Religiosity won’t do; you’ve got to be walking with God with reality on the heart level. Kids can smell hypocrisy from a mile away! If you’re often angry and yell at your kids at home, but then put on your “Christian” front when you go to church, your kids will conclude, “If that’s Christianity, I don’t need it!” If your kids see you and your wife angrily yelling at each other and not resolving conflicts in a godly way, but then you go to church and posture yourselves as an exemplary Christian family, your kids conclude that Christianity is just a religious game that doesn’t affect real life.

So if you want to teach your children to follow God, you’ve got to love God fervently. His Word must be on your heart. Fight lukewarmness like the plague! Pray constantly that you won’t lose your first love for Jesus Christ. If your kids see you walking in reality with God daily, loving His Word, applying it to your life, and growing in the fruit of the Spirit, your love for God will be infectious. That’s the foundation for raising godly generations.

2. To raise up godly generations, teach your children diligently (Deut. 6:7–9, 20–25).

Deuteronomy 6:7-9: “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” 

“Teach them diligently” in Hebrew means literally to sharpen. Your teaching should penetrate your child deeply so that it has an effect on him. You come at it from every angle and in every situation. As mentioned, the Hebrews came to take verses 8 and 9 literally. But the idea rather is making God’s commandments central in your life so that you’re thinking about them all the time. This is an overflow of your own walk with God. If God’s Word is on your heart continually, then you’ll be talking about it constantly with your kids, applying it to real life situations.

Verse 7 assumes that you do, in fact, take the time to sit down in your house to talk with your family (with the TV off!). If you’re so busy as a family that you don’t all sit down to at least one meal a day on a regular basis, you need to change your schedules. At that time, try to read a portion of the Bible and spend a few minutes in prayer. When your children are young, keep it short and use the story parts of the Bible. As they get older, you can venture into more of the teaching portions, like Romans. And don’t let anything distract you. The phone invariably rings with texts and calls when we’re reading the Bible. Let it go to voicemail! Ignore the text! Be diligent to teach your children!

In fact, let me encourage fathers to take the lead on this family worship. Barna released some interesting facts on worship recently. They found that if both your parents worshipped with you regularly while you were growing up, there's an 80 percent likelihood that you'll worship God regularly as an adult. 

If only your mother worshipped regularly with you, there's only a 30 percent probability that you'll worship regularly as an adult. 

If only your father worshipped regularly with you, the likelihood that you'll worship regularly as an adult increases to 70 percent! 

The lesson was that fathers have an enormous impact on their children's faith and values. One of your most important ministries is worshipping with your kids!

And Moses says we are to be teaching the kids and grandkids in any time or situation. He uses the phrase in verse 8 “when you walk by the way” which implies teaching your kids when you go places together. It may be a trip to the grocery store or a family outing. Those are choice opportunities to talk about how people act and how Christians are to act. You can also point out God’s beauty through His creation. 

“When you lie down” points to bedtime as a great opportunity to talk with your children about their concerns and pray with them. “When you rise up” implies that mornings are another opportunity to teach your children. Teach them how to start the day off right with the Lord. Again, your example teaches a lot. If your kids are grumpy in the morning, show them and tell them how to begin the day with a cheerful heart, focused on God’s blessings.

Notice, verse 8, “Binding God’s commands on your hand” (v. 8) means that you should teach your children God’s ways by your actions. Putting them on your forehead means that your thoughts and attitudes should communicate God’s truth. Putting them on the doorposts points to the home as a setting for teaching God’s truths. The gate points to civic or social life as another chance to talk about God. 

Discuss national and world events with your kids from God’s perspective. Moses is saying that everything you think and do, from home to the business world, should be permeated with God’s Word. Teach your children how the Word applies to every area of their lives as you live in a godly manner before them.

Also, answer your children’s questions about God and the Christian life (Deut. 6:20–25). 

“When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What do the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments mean which the LORD our God commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the LORD brought us from Egypt with a mighty hand. Moreover, the LORD showed great and distressing signs and wonders before our eyes against Egypt, Pharaoh and all his household; He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers.’ So the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today. It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the LORD our God, just as He commanded us.

When your children ask about spiritual things, we get to explain the great deliverance which God has brought about for His people. Parents and grandparents get to explain the great truths of salvation to our kids. It’s important not to respond to your kids’ questions by saying, “That’s just what we believe,” or, “Because I said so!” Your child needs to understand the “why” behind things as he grows older. If you don’t know the answer, admit it and do some research to find the answer.

Also, explain that God’s commands are for our good (Deut. 6:24). He cares for us and wants to bless us. You want your kids to see both from your life and from your teaching that the Bible is a book that applies to every aspect of life. It tells us how to think and act, from the most private to the most public details of our lives. Teach that to your kids and always be open to their questions. To raise up godly generations, love God fervently and teach your children diligently. Finally,

3. To raise up godly generations, live in the world carefully (Deut. 6:10–19).

Moses warns of the spiritual dangers that Israel will face when they settle into Canaan. It’s easy to drift into the ways of the world. These verses reveal two safeguards:

A. Continually watch yourself.

Deuteronomy 6:12: “Watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord.” When times are good, a progression sets in: First, you become satisfied with your comfy life (v. 11); then, you forget the Lord (v. 12); finally, you follow the gods of the people who surround you (v. 14). It’s often easier to trust the Lord during hard times. If we faced the threat of being arrested for gathering as a church, everyone here would be actively trusting in the Lord. But since we currently are free to come to church, you don’t have to trust God to be here. When you’re struggling to make ends meet, you pray a lot. But when you’ve got plenty, you tend to take it for granted. If you’re not careful, you forget the Lord and then it’s easy to worship other gods. First John (5:21) ends with the terse warning, “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” It’s a danger!

What are some of the idols of the peoples who surround us? There’s the idol of affluence. Retailers try to get us to rack up credit card debt because we think we need more stuff to be happy. It’s easy to drift into worshiping the god of affluence rather than managing the resources that God has entrusted to you in light of His kingdom.

What about the idol of self? You follow this idol when you use the true God for the benefits He gives. When things go well, you worship Him. But when hard trials come along, you abandon Him. Israel treated God this way at Massah (Deut. 6:16; see Exod. 17:1–7). They grumbled because there wasn’t any water. They wanted to go back to slavery in Egypt rather than trust God to provide water. How you handle trials teaches your kids a lot about God! So continually watch yourself so that you don’t drift!

Another idol is sports. Jim Elliff (“When Ball Becomes Baal”) argues that many Christian families have made sports the household god. It controls them. They order their schedules around it. If the kids’ sports teams play on Sunday, the family skips church. After all, the team needs all the players! But what does this teach your kids about priorities? Or, if you spend hours every week watching game after game, but then don’t have time to read your Bible, pray, teach your kids God’s ways, or serve the Lord, maybe sports has become your idol. Watch yourself! It’s easy to forget the Lord and the great salvation He provided (Deut. 6:13)!

B. Constantly focus on pleasing God.

Deuteronomy 6:18: “You shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord.” 

Every aspect of life—your thoughts, attitudes, words, deeds, schedule, possessions—must be lived with a view toward pleasing the Lord. Your goal is to teach your kids to please God with all their lives. Ultimately, they have to answer to God. If you only teach them to obey you, then what happens when you’re not around? If you continually examine yourself and constantly focus on pleasing God in light of His Word, you won’t live like the Canaanites. You won’t seek the things they spend their lives going after. Your kids will see the reality of your love for God. They will want to follow Him too.


Do solid Christian homes make a difference? In 1900, a man studied the descendants of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards, the New England revival preacher, theologian, and president of Princeton University. 

Statistics vary slightly, but over 100 of his descendants became ministers, missionaries, and theological professors. Thirteen were university presidents; at least 65 were college professors. More than 100 were lawyers and judges. More than 60 were physicians. Eighty-six were state senators, three were state governors, three were U.S. Congressmen, one was the Comptroller of the U.S. Treasury, and one became Vice President of the United States.

We aren’t guaranteed of leaving such an impressive legacy. But we can make an impact for Christ on this world if we raise up godly generations by loving God fervently, teaching our children diligently, and living in the world carefully. If you’ve been negligent, thankfully the Lord allows U-turns! He is “abounding in riches for all who call upon Him” (Rom. 10:12).