A Godly Heritage

A sermon by Denny Kenaston, modified for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS by Nate Wilson 20 June 2010-06-19

Intro

         4 Eís. Exalting Christ, Equipping the Saints, Evangelizing the world, Encouraging Godly Households. Iíve been focusing on the first three throughout my sermon series on the Funct≠ions of Deity, and I preached right through Motherís day without even acknowledging it.

         Today I want to land on the 4th E Ė Encouraging Godly Households and fan to a flame in your hearts a vision for leaving a godly heritage.

         As I thought about what to preach on this Fatherís Day, I believe God has drawn my heart to preach another manís sermon. This is an unusual thing for me, so I would like to explain it a bit.

         This is a well-work sermon Ė One that Iíve listened to at least half a dozen times, and it has been inspiring to me every time Iíve heard it! I was moved to tears yesterday as I re-read it again. Itís powerful stuff.

         Around the time that my second child was born in 1993, my brother, who lived near Denny Kenaston, gave me a tape recording of a week-long seminar series on the family which Denny has preached back in the Ď80ís.

         Now, Denny is a conservative Menonite, which means heís on the opposite end of the Christian spectrum on a lot of theological issues from me Ė heís anti-Calvin, Anti-infant baptism, Anti-Army, and Anti-higher education. Heís a plain-dresser; Heís against reading Christian fiction. A lot of things I disagree with.

         But Dennyís seminars on the family, I must say, have been the most significant influence on my parenting philosophy next to the influence of my own Dad.

         And Iím not the only one. In the last 30 or so years since he delivered that seminar, it has been estimated that 100,000 people have heard it. You can easily find mp3ís of it floating around the Internet if you want to hear the original version.

         So what I want to share with you this morning is not very original, but it is so near and dear to my heart that I want to share it with you. I have modified it somewhat to fit our congregation and shorten it to fit in our worship service, but the main points are what Denny Kenaston shared.

Read Psalm 78:1-8

A Maschil of Asaph.

Give ear, O my people, to my law: Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of Jehovah, and His strength, and His wondrous works that He hath done.

††††††††††† For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children, that the generation to come might know them, even the children that should be born; who should arise and tell them to their children, that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments, and might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not set their heart right, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God.

 

I believe in salvation by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and every child in this room is going to have to come to the place where they acknowledge their own sinfulness and their own need of a savior. However, it's very foolish for us as parents, to start resting on salvation for our children, and thus to neglect the propagating of the faith to our children, as we've read here in these verses. This is not talking about passing on religion. Itís talking about passing on a living, breathing, vibrant Christian faith into the next generation, that that generation can then pass that same living, breathing, vibrant Christian faith into the next generation, and so on it goes. That is God's plan to propagate the faith from one generation to the next.

 

Also note this: The generation to come was most specifically, the father's responsibility. Wives need to learn how to be a helpmate to your husbands, but fathers, God has laid the specific responsibility of propagating this faith to the next generation right upon you. The father is the head of the home. And the responsibility lies heaviest upon him, and God looks to him when there is a failure.

 

Now lets look more specifically at these verses. At verse five we see a beautiful illustration given here in Psalm 78. "For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed the law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers," That's one generation..."
††††††††††† that they should make them known to their children," That's the second generation... "
††††††††††† that the generation to come might know them, even the children that should be born," That's the third generation... "
††††††††††† who should arise and declare them to their children." That's the fourth generation.

Old Testament Examples of a Godly Heritage

What a beautiful picture! And wherever you found somebody who did what these verses said in the Old Testament, you saw that they got results. Just like God said.

         For instance: Boaz was a man of God.

o       He married Ruth. And they had a son named Obed. And Boaz raised Obed to be a man of God. And when Obed grew up, he had a son named Jesse.

o       And when Jesse grew up, he had several sons, but one of his sons name was David.

o       Jesse raised David to be a man of God. And David became the Psalmist of Israel. David was a man of God. And he had a son named Solomon

o       And Solomon became the king over Israel; he became the writer of the Book of Proverbs. Now, later on in his life, he went his own way.

o       But here, we see five generations who followed this very thing that we're looking at, this very precept in the Word of God.

         Here is another one: Abraham was a man of God.

o       And he had Isaac, as a son. Isaac was a man of God, and he had Jacob as a son, who later, after he wrestled with God, became Israel.

o       And Israel had many sons, but one of his sons was Joseph.

o       And Joseph was a man of God.

o       And Joseph had a son named Ephraim, who was also a man of God.

o       There's five generations again in the Word of God.

         One more that we'll take a look at: Amram was a man of God.

o       And Amram had two sons, Moses and Aaron.

o       Aaron had a son named Eleazar, who became the high priest after him, and Eleazar was a man of God.

o       And he had a son named Phineas, and he raised that young man, to be a man of God, and Phineas was a man of God, and he was valued for truth.

Catch the vision!

Now what we have here, are biblical examples of how God's Word works, just like He said it would. And we need to get a hold of that in our own lives. How would you like this week, to get a vision, to be able to claim generations of children! I believe that it is within your grasp Ė God is no respecter of persons Ė it is possible for you. God wants us to live in light of those generations to come!

 

It is said, that a test of a man's Christianity, is his children. But I like to carry it one step further than that, looking into the Book of Proverbs, we find that a test of a man's Christianity, is his children's children. If a man's Christianity was thoroughly in his heart, he will have propagated it so thoroughly into the hearts of his children that they would be stirred up then, to go out and put it into their children. What kind of a vision do we have? God wants us to look down the generations further than just the children that are in our home.

 

Perhaps youíre thinking: ďIím just a kid. I donít have any children. Whatís this have to do with me?Ē Listen to me: It has everything to do with you. You are a vital link in a chain of generations. One day there are going to be children and grand-children and great-grandchildren standing around your grave. What will they say about you? Will there even be any children or grand-children? How you respond to this message will make all the difference in the world. I want to kindle a flame in your heart that burns with a passion to have great-grandchildren who love Jesus and who have you to thank for it!

My heritage

In my own family, I have a godly heritage. I havenít studied it very far back. But I know my Dadís parents were believers. Neither were very strong in their faith, but they found a good church and they raised their seven children to hear Biblical preaching down at McIlwain Presbyterian church in Pensacola, FL. (Thatís a picture of my Mema and Grandpa serving dinner to my mom and a younger brother and sister of my Dadís around a table that Grandpa made.)

††††††††††† My Dad was called to the ministry and he was truly a man of God. He married a woman who had no godly heritage. Mom was a first-generation Christian. She was starting from scratch. But she was determined to raise children for God.

††††††††††† Dadís job as a the assistant pastor of a mega-church didnít leave him a lot of time with me and my brother and sister, but he made sure to disciple us, talking with us while he cooked breakfast every morning and drove us to school, and having discipleship meetings with us every week or two in the treehouse or at a restaurant. I still have some of the notes that I took during these times when I was 4-5-6 years old! I also saw how my Dad made disciples of friends whose dad abandoned them and how Dad made disciples of thousands of children at our summer church camps and inner-city outreaches. Me and all of my siblings have been through some bumps in the road, but all of us are walking with the Lord. (Thereís a picture of us last Christmas.)

††††††††††† And when I got married, I knew that I wanted to raise my children for God like my Dad did. How grateful I am for this precious godly heritage!

†††††††††††

But even if you donít have a godly heritage, you can change the entire direction of your generation, simply by submitting yourself to God and obeying His Word. You can do that. I'd like to encourage every one of you to get the same kind of a vision, so that your children, and your children's children, can look back and say, "Yes, I remember Grandpa and Grandma. They were godly people. When they prayed, God came down. When they spoke, my heart burned."

Modern Examples of a Godly Heritage

1.      William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, had a wife named Catherine Booth.
††††† They had eight children together. William Booth loved God. There was no question in the hearts of his children about his dedication to the Lord. And he lived out a godly life in his home, and so did his wife. And those eight children, they grew up, and they just wanted to follow their father and their mother, so they scattered around the world as missionaries - preaching in some of the big cities around the world.
††††† Well those eight children had forty-five grandchildren. And those forty-five grandchildren watched those eight children and their spouses and saw that they loved God, and that they were excited about the Lord, and that they had a real Christian life in them, and those forty-five grandchildren, every single one of them, rose up and said, "I'm going to follow the faith of my father and mother!" And those forty-five grandchildren all went out, scattered across the world on the mission field, to do the work of God.
††††† On a mission trip to Africa, Denny Kenaston met a woman who had gone to Bible School with some of William Booth's great-grandchildren, and they're out on the mission field this day.
††††† That's what God wants us to do! Pass on a vibrant, living Christianity to our children that will cause them to rise up and go out and do the work of God, which will cause their children to see that their parents are serious about God and they'll rise up and do the same thing, and it just keeps going on and on. The only thing that breaks the chain is cold-heartedness, and lukewarmness, and sin in the lives of God's people.

2.      James Taylor turned his heart over to the Lord after hearing John Wesley preach. He was late for his own wedding because he was on his knees praying, that God would bless his home. It took him about two weeks to win his wife to the Lord, and he became a Lay-Methodist preacher.
††††† He had several sons, and they all rose up and the zeal of their father, and became Lay-Methodist preachers.
††††† And then those sons, had several sons, who rose up and became Lay-Methodist preachers, and out of those sons was the father of Hudson Taylor. That father used to pray, every day, "Oh God, would you send missionaries to China. Oh God would you send missionaries to China."
††††† And Hudson Taylor, when he was six years old, he got alone with God, and said, "God, I'll go to China."
††††† And it doesn't stop there. The generations of preachers keeps right on going up to this generation, right now there's nine generations of preachers in the Taylor heritage! I recently got a poster advertising the 2010 Chinese Mission Convention, and there listed among the plenary speakers is Jamie Taylor Ė Hudson Taylorís Great-grandson!

3.      God used Jonathan Edwards in a great revival 150 years ago. Jonathan Edwards had a wife. They were dedicated to the Lord. God gave them 10 children. They had a godly home. They raised those children for God. George Whitefield came to their home and saw that godly home, and those 10 children and went back to England and said, "I'm going to find me a wife, that's the most beautiful picture I've seen in a long time of a godly home."
††††† The State of New York did a study on five generations of the Edwards family, and hereís what they found: Out of 729 descendants,
††††† 300 of them became preachers,
††††† 65 of them became college professors (Back in his day, the schools were made for one †††††††††††††††† ††††† reason and that was to raise up preachers.)
††††† 13 of his descendants were university presidents.
††††† 60 of his descendants were authors.
††††† 3 were congressman, and one was a Vice-president.
All from one man who loved God, and set himself with his wife, to raise his children for God. And now we can see how the generations flow out from that.

Do the Math

Hereís a little more statistics for you:

         Hereís a poppa and a momma with six children.

         Now if each one of those children had six children also have six children, that would be - 36.

         Letís go down one more generation - 216 descendants.

         And in the next generation there would be 1,296 descendants,

         and in the next generation, 7,776 descendants - more than 10,000 from one poppa and one momma in five generations.

Now maybe that doesn't do anything to you. But to me that is very stirring.

 

And I'll tell you somebody else that it's stirring to, and that's Satan. He knows the statistics! He knows that if he gets you right up here at the top of the chart, he's got all this down here at the same time (meaning the generations to follow). He is no dummy! He knows if he can shoot mom and dad off the rock of Christ Jesus, he'll get all of these down through here.

 

But our Heavenly Father also knows these statistics, and the Spirit of God knows these statistics, and God knows that if He can get a hold of a poppa's heart in these meetings, and a momma's heart and set them in the right direction, that they will raise up their children for God in such a way, that they will raise up their children for God, and then their children for God, all the way down here, we have 10,000 descendants.

 

Now I realize, that's hypothetical. Cut it in half if you want. Make it 5,000. It's still a tremendous work of God.

Pre-requisite: Having a life in order before God

††††† So God is calling us to our responsibilities, as parents, to see the potential. But, you have to be truly a Christian man. You have to be truly a Christian woman at home.

 

You canít raise children for God if you have not bowed your own heart before the God who made the universe and say, ďI have sinned against You and I deserve to perish, but I ask you to forgive me on the basis of Jesus Christ who died on the cross to pay the price for my sin. I will be a follower of Jesus for the rest of my life.Ē If you havenít done that, then give it up; you cannot do it in your own strength. But children who grow up in an atmosphere of revival, with parents who love the Lord extravagantly and obey His word joyfully will be a mighty influence upon this earth. God can do something, just like we put on the board up here. With your life.

 

We see the illustration of an Elder in the New Testament Ė 1 Timothy 3. One of the requirements of an Elder is to make sure he has a family that's in order. If you find a home that's in order, you've found somebody, who lives right, behind the closed door. You'll find a man who's in order in his private life.

 

You see, our family gives us away. We cannot hide ourselves. We may think for a few years that nobody really knows what we're like. But it's not true. Our children give us away every time. Father and mother are sober - children are sober. Father and mother are foolish - children are foolish. Father and mother are critical - children are critical. We cannot hide ourselves. Only thing is, it takes a few years before the children begin manifesting the examples that they lived while they were in your home.

Priority and Methodology

Maybe your parents didn't do a very good job. Well it could be that that's the case, but, brothers and sisters, now it's our turn. Now it's our turn! Maybe they didn't do right! Maybe they could have done better! But now it's our turn! Let's rise up! Let's rise up and build for God!

 

Outside of the ministry, the work of God, rearing my children for God is the most challenging, maturing, self-denying, time-consuming thing I do. Raising your children for God must become a priority. It can't be a sideline. You are not going to get the results that we've been speaking about this evening, if raising your children is a sideline! It's got to be a big priority in your life!

 

Turn to Eph 6:4 ďAnd, you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath: but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord.Ē It's a very simple statement: "Raise them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." But yet, it has great depth to it. There are many, many statements that are hidden in that one verse that we've read. We must meditate upon God's Word, in order to draw them out for our lives.

 

And as we obey this little verse, God will bless our obedience with godly children because godly children is what He wants! (Gen. 18:18, Mal 4:6) Many of God's people do not believe that. They live in unbelief. They live in fear. They live in doubt as to how their children will turn out. But I believe that if we'll follow the principles that He gives in His Word, we can get lasting results.

 

In this sermon, I canít get into the nuts and bolts of discipline and instruction Ė I hope to do that in a future sermon, but for now, I want you to catch the vision of a godly heritage.

 

Do not listen to the lies of Satan, who comes along and says, "It's not going to work out." Have faith in the principles of God's Word, that if we do what the Bible says, then God will do what He said He will do!

Willingness to take criticism and learn

Another thing: if you are going to be serious about raising your children for God, you canít afford to ignore criticism and advice. When you try to talk to somebody about their children, it seems to be a very touchy issue. And I believe one of the reasons for that is because our children are a part of us. Criticism of our children is really criticism of the parents. But I'd like to encourage you this week, that you open up your hearts, if we really have our sights set on a godly home, we will welcome the admonitions that come our way, and I want to encourage you, just open your hearts.

 

Much criticism comes my way, often. I sometimes wonder about the motives behind some of the criticism that comes our way, but none-the-less, when somebody comes to me, I welcome it. I go home and think and pray about it. I talk it over with my wife. Why? I don't want to make a mistake! I don't want to find out 10 years from now that I made a big mistake! I want to know now! So I would say to each one of you, welcome criticism. Just open heart, teachable spirit, willing to learn, willing to examine your homes. I believe God will bless you if you can do that.

Loosing our Children to the World

We don't want to lose our children to the world. We don't want our children to go out into the world and leave Christianity behind, and it happens all the time doesn't it?

         Dr. Voddie Baucham did his graduate research on attrition rates of church kids. He surveyed thousands of college students and found that about ĺ of kids that grew up in Christian homes left Christianity for good while in College. Thatís not a good track record!

         Then Ken Hamm released his research a year or two ago saying that most of those kids had already left the faith in elementary school before they had left home. The title of his book? Already Gone. Something is bad wrong in America today for most of the children in the church to abandon the faith like this.

Inspiration from John Appel Family

We all need inspiration to know it can be done. For me, it came in the year 1996 when I had three little boys and a lot of questions about life. In Godís providence, a man named John Appel lost his job in Washington state and moved to Denver, and we ended up living for a few months in the Appelís house. I was enthralled at what I saw. Here were three teenage boys who loved their parents. They would hold their momís hand and surround her like secret service men whenever she went out. They were intelligent and could talk with me like peers about classical music or theology even though they were high school and college age. And they loved God Ė one of those boys preached an awe-inspiring sermon when our pastor was out of town.

 

The parents were so gracious and generous to us that our socks were blessed clean off! Paula asked Betty one day, ďWhat did you do to get such wonderful young men?Ē and Betty said, ďOh, itís just the grace of God.Ē True, only God can mold the hearts of rebellious little boys into godly men, but those parents hadnít just sat back waiting for God to send a lightening bolt out of the sky. John led family devotions every day in the living room, discussing Proverbs, and he and Betty worked diligently on their sons character every day.

 

I had three little boys that could hardly talk or sit still and listen or anything, but I got inspired at what God can do. I wanted a family like the Appels, so I made it my goal. And I believe God has done it. My first three little boys are young men now, almost the same age as those three Appel boys were when we lived with them. And although, there are differences between our families, I am so thrilled at what God has done with my children so far. I know I have a long way to go, though, because we still have babies to raise to adulthood, but I can taste fruit now!

Application Ė What I did after hearing this sermon

But even before I met the Appel family, I had a tape recording of the material Iím presenting to you this morning. I had heard from the vision God had given Denny Kenaston for a Godly heritage. Paula and I were so excited about seeing this vision come to fruition in our lives that we sat our little boys down in two or three little chairs and turned on a tape recorder and told them to listen to this sermon so they could learn to sit still in church and so they could catch a vision for a godly heritage. We had family devotions and read our Bible, and we sang songs together. Weíve sung ďJesus Loves meĒ and ďWide, Wide as the OceanĒ too many times to count, but our little kids still always want to sing them again! We knew we had to go after our kidsí hearts. We had to love them and do things with them and teach them and discipline them and pray for them enthusiastically. We knew we had to maintain hearts of honesty and repentance and faith and love for God before our children. Itís a constant battle, but the victories are thrilling!

 

God wants you to leave a heritage for your children and their children! His Spirit is still moving on the hearts of fathers and turning their hearts to their children, just as He promised to do at the end of the book of Malachi! He's saying, "My people! I want you to raise your children, that they'd be a godly example of my glory. It's not right, that there just be a few! It's God's will, that the church of Jesus Christ be filled with Godly families, filled with Godly fathers and mothers, with a zeal, with a vision, with a vibrant Christianity, that they can pass it on to their children. And their children would take those hot coals and pass them on to their children, and their childrenís children.