Deuteronomy 7:9 tells us about God’s reliability, ” Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.” When it comes to God’s covenantal promises, they are trustworthy, believable, and enduring. But our knowledge of this can never just be “head knowledge”… we must allow it to become “heart knowledge…pervading and shaping every aspect of our life. Or as Joshua 23:14 says, “You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.”
The communal thanksgiving and singing praises to the Lord may start in the Church…but it can’t stop at the perimeter of the its walls. It says here, “So that all men know of Your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of Your Kingdom.” The Church thus must leave the building and go out into the highways and byways telling all about God’s wonderful deeds…for how will they know if they’ve not been told? And how will the world be changed for the better if no one makes known to them the Lord’s sovereignty, strength, and power to deliver souls from hell?
When was the last time you stopped and really meditated on Who God is and what He has done in your life? To sit in quiet reflection…going over in your mind divine things…things that are beyond the bounds of human power or even expectations. It’s then that we can join in with Psalm 148:13 when it proclaims, “Let them praise the Name of the Lord, for His Name alone is exalted; His splendor is above the earth and the heavens.” But the verses here in Psalm 145 want us to take it a step farther by telling others about God’s glory, majesty, and power. We are to tell of His wonderful deeds, not hiding them from our children…but telling the next generation. (Psalm 75:1 & Psalm 78:4)
Passing on God’s Word to the next generation is far more important than we can conceive. At the end of the Book of Joshua all the elders of Israel and Joshua himself were dying. But unlike Moses who discipled Joshua, they had failed to mentor their successors…and as a result, the next generation succumbed to Canaanite idolatry. From this story we need to be mindful that as God’s people, we are only one generation away from renouncing God. This is why passing on and entrusting God’s Word to the succeeding generation is so vital. So how do we do this? Deuteronomy 11:19 shows us that sharing God’s Word needs to be deeply ingrained in our everyday activities and as natural as breathing. It tells us to teach His Word…explaining to them when we sit, when we walk together, when we lie down, and when we get back up. In other words, we need to be constantly commending God’s works and the Gospel Message to future generations.
It’s counterintuitive, but God blesses His people because of His promises, despite our sin. There’s never been a sin you’ve committed that’s greater than the blood of the Cross…there’s no amount of dysfunction in your life right now that God can’t work through for your good and His glory. You don’t even have to “fix things” first before you come to Jesus…He is waiting for you right now…ready, willing, and able to save your soul. All you need to know is this…The Gospel Message is the Good News that you can be saved and forgiven from your rebellion against the God who created you if you will turn from your sin and trust in the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
There’s a wrong way to be right, and trusting in our own good works rather than in Jesus is one way legalism takes over our life. Paul wrote in Romans 3:20, “No one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the Law; rather, through the Law we become conscious of sin.” Try as we might, we’ll never be justified in the sight of God by our good works…only by our belief in His Son, Jesus Christ. But even though our righteousness doesn’t hinge on observing the Law, it has very important implications in our life. The Law is a mirror reflecting who God is and our own sinfulness… it also reveals to us very clearly what pleases and offends God. Yes, there’s a wrong way to be right, and trusting in our good works isn’t one of them.
The New King James version of this verse says, “Lord, I will follow You, but first let me go and bury my father.” At times we too are very good at saying to the Lord, “Yes, but first…” as if our demands or desires really matter or will make a difference. In the culture of the time we know that it was the son’s responsibility to make the final arrangements for his father’s burial…which makes Jesus’ reply to him all the more shocking, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” Jesus was saying to him, “Follow Me, not the world.” For anytime we answer the call of God with a “Yes, but…” we’ve taken our eyes off the eternal and onto the world. Our abiding fellowship with the Lord should then be about self-denial and self-restraint and a renouncing of the temporal.
This statement of Jesus’ is counterintuitive to our corrupt human nature. Our highest priority in life is to look out for number 1…ourselves, and not to cast all our material needs on Him, trusting He will take care of us. But Jesus didn’t say to take no thought about practical matters…that would be foolish. He rather said the controlling factor in our life was to be about our relationship with Him not amassing stuff. We are to focus on our relationship with God while being cautiously carefree about everything else. When Peter asked Jesus what there would be for them because they had left everything to follow Him, Jesus replied, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for My sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” By seeking God first and foremost in our life we receive the greatest gift possible – salvation – which far exceeds any earthly material thing we could ever obtain by ourselves.
When we allow our desires, appetites, and longings to overrule our wisdom and understanding… and when we rush into making choices that are good but not the best…two things happen. We compromise ourselves and settle for less than God’s best for us. Our choice may seem good enough, but it falls pathetically short of what God has for us. Proverbs 14:12 reminds of this when it reads, “There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death.” Anytime we compromise, we put in jeopardy our relationship with God…for anytime we settle for just good enough we’re risking the chance to miss His best and sin against Him. But God assures us in Isaiah 30:21 that He will help us make those best choices if we will but listen…”Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ ”
Jesus is speaking here of oneness or unity…not only spiritually or invisible unity, but becoming perfectly one with the Lord that then becomes visible to the world. This oneness is found in Jeremiah 32:39-40 when God said, “I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear Me for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear Me, so that they will never turn away from Me.” In other words, by becoming united with Christ, our actions will be in line with our beliefs… which then, both will be in line with God’s commands. So the next time you’re going through a time of isolation and wondering why, your answer is explained here in John as to why you are where you are…that you may become one with the Father just as Jesus is one with Him.