CHALLENGE ENCOURAGE STRENGTHEN
TEXT: DEUTERONOMY 3
TOP 10: WHY COLLEGE STUDENTS DIDN’T WRITE THE BIBLE
- The Last Supper would have consisted of Top Ramen and Red Bull.
- The Ten Commandments would actually be only five -- double-spaced and written in a large font.
- The resurrection would have occurred after 12 noon
- Forbidden fruit would have been OK to eat because it wasn't cafeteria food.
- Paul's letter to the Romans would become Paul's email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Old and New Testament would be broken down into 140 Character Tweets
- Reason Cain killed Abel: they were roommates.
- The Sermon On The Mount would have happened at Starbucks
- Reason why Moses and followers walked in the desert for 40 years: they didn't want to ask directions and look like freshmen.
- Instead of God creating the world in six days and resting on the seventh, he would have put it off until the night before to get it done.
Today I want to look at the subject of future generations and the Church
- According to a study done by the Southern Baptist denomination, 70% of 18-22 year olds stop going to church for at least one year
- That means 30% of the youth make the transition from youth ministry to big church ministry
- Of the 70% that stop attending church, only 35% return – that means 65% of our youth continue to prioritize their relationship with God going into adulthood.
- Rather than focus on all the reasons why people leave church, I want to focus on what made the difference
- What was common amongst those who continued to cultivate a strong and active faith
- And what we are going to discover is it didn’t happen by accident, but it happened because someone cared enough to invest in that young person’s life
The Bible gives us three things that we can do as mature believers
- Three things that will insure that our youth are the 65% that keep growing in their faith
- It’s found in Deuteronomy 3 beginning with verse 23…
Deuteronomy 3:23–28 (NKJV)
23 “Then I [MOSES] pleaded with the LORD at that time, saying: 24 ‘O Lord GOD, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds? 25 I pray, let me cross over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, those pleasant mountains, and Lebanon.’
26 “But the LORD was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me. So the LORD said to me: ‘Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter. 27 Go up to the top of Pisgah, and lift your eyes toward the west, the north, the south, and the east; behold it with your eyes, for you shall not cross over this Jordan. 28 But command Joshua, and encourage him and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which you will see.’
Moses is over 90 years old at this point and he’s finally reached the Jordan river
- Just on the other side is the land God promised to give him
- He’s looking at the land and he’s saying… aw come on Lord, just let me cross over and see the land…
- Moses was like the energizing bunny
- But the Lord had already told Moses He wasn’t going
- The reason why is because Moses misrepresented God in Numbers 20
- God told Moses to speak to the rock and water would come out
- But Moses didn’t trust God, He didn’t believe God to handle the people so Moses acted out of anger and frustration and struck the rock and water came out
- By doing this he misrepresented God and as a result God said you can’t go into the land
- In fact, God says… don’t even bring it up again – it’s a done deal
- But then God tells him what he is to do with Joshua – who represents the next generation
- He tells Moses to do three things…
- To Command Joshua
- To Encourage Him and
- To Strengthen Him
- Moses, you may not be the one to conquer the land, but I want you to have a tremendous influence over those who will
THE FIRST THING GOD TELLS MOSES TO DO IS TO COMMAND JOSHUA
- The word command means to give direction, to instruct, to state with authority what other must do or what is forbidden
- It also means to assign one to a role, a function, a task or office
- In other words, Moses I want you to tell Joshua everything you know… what to do, what not to do and make him the leader so he can learn under your watch
- That’s what it means to command – it means to instruct
Paul in writing to Titus, a young pastor of a church in Crete writes this…
Titus 2:1–8 (NKJV)
2 But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
6 Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, 7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, 8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.
The heading in my Bible for this section of scripture says… the Qualities of a Sound Church – and it’s true.
- He says to the older women – teach the young women to be good wives and mothers. Teach the young women to be strong in the Word of God
- Teach them to live in such a way that nothing bad can be said of them
- He says to the older men – teach the younger men to be sober-minded, to have integrity, reverence for God
- Teach them to watch what they say, watch their language, the kind of jokes they tell so nothing bad can be said of them
- Notice, Paul isn’t telling Titus to instruct the parents to do this… he is telling Titus to instruct the whole church to do this
According to this study by Lifeway Research…
- One of the common elements of young people who continue on in their faith is the presence of an adult who spent time with them regularly to help them grow spiritually
- But to command doesn’t just mean to instruct, it also means to give them meaningful opportunities to serve and to lead
Going back to this study by Lifeway Research
- Two common elements of young people who continue in their faith have to do with serving and leading
- They had regular responsibilities or opportunities to serve and they held leadership positions in their church.
I know that is certainly true for my life
When I was 16 a man by the name of Glenn Ruby taught me how to lead a Christian club at Vista High School. He taught me how to read the Bible and discover God truth for myself. He taught me how to organize a ministry and entrusted with leadership. The same time a Pastor by the name of Chuck Eason entrusted me with the worship ministry of a new church plant called Calvary Chapel Vista – at 16. Many pastors today would never take the risk to entrust such a vital ministry to a teenager… but I’m serving the Lord today because of Pastor Chuck Eason
Those of you who are mature in life and in faith have so much to offer the next generation
- Not only do you have much to offer, but you’re influence in a young person’s life can make the difference between a lifetime of service for the Lord or an eternity in hell
- I’m praying that we as a church will be a place where the older men and women instruct the younger men and women in the things of the Lord
There are side benefits when you do this
- You start listening to cooler music and start dressing a little more hip
- You stop thinking about your problems
- You start thinking about ministering to the problems of others
- You stop focusing on the things that are tripping you up
- You start thinking about how God’s Presence is flowing through you to minister to someone else
- You stop complaining about your problems and you start rejoicing in God’s power as He uses you
THE SECOND THING GOD TELLS MOSES TO DO IS TO ENCOURAGE JOSHUA
- The word encourage means to teach them how to respond in hard situations
- To teach them how to have authority and defeat an enemy
- To teach them how to press on, to stay focused, to repair broken situations and create favorable circumstances
- You can’t learn these skills from your high school or college friends
- You can’t learn these skills from your peers at work
- These are all skills that are taught by seasoned, mature believers
- And if we who are mature in life and faith don’t do this… who will?
Let me give you some statistics that I hope helps you see the need for the church to take the lead in encouraging our youth
- 50% of all American children will witness the breakup of a parent’s marriage before their 18th birthday
- Among the millions of children who have seen their parents divorce, one in every 10 will also live through three or more parental marriage breakups
- Forty percent of children growing up in America today are being raised without their fathers
- Globally 25–35% of all families are headed by single parent mothers with the United States leading the world in the highest percentage of single parent homes.
- Let me tell you that’s a lot of kids that need encouragement
- That’s a lot of kids who need to learn how to respond Biblically in hard situations
- That’s a lot of kids who need to learn how to have authority and defeat the enemy
- And if we who are mature in life and faith don’t do this… who will?
Hebrews 10:24–25 (NKJV)
24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
One of the lost skills of this generation is going to church
- The Bible tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together – that means make going to church a priority
- We teach our kids that sports is more important than God, work is more important than God, friends are more important than God and we wonder why they don’t think God is important
I was recently speaking with a group of Pastor’s in San Clemente about the issue of Sunday Sports Programs. I said – I think God needs to have His day… Sunday needs to be a day for church and family and if we as Christians got together we could stop all sports programs on Sunday. Especially if we could get the largest church in the country that happens to be in our backyard to stand with us. But guess who is leading the charge? Christians? NO… we want Saturday services so we can keep our sports programs. It’s the Mormons. They believe that Sunday should be for church and family
God has given us the responsibility to teach the next generation to live a vibrant faith in the midst of an ungodly culture
- My prayer is that we as a church will step up to the plate
Let me just speak to the young people for a moment
- I love your youthful ideas and energy, but that’s not what impresses me
- I expect you to have a billion ideas and crazy energy
- What impresses me is seasoned wisdom that comes from men and women who have walked with God for years… who can tell me how to make it through the storms of life… that’s what impresses me
- My encouragement to you is to find those older, wiser men of God and listen to them
THE THIRD THING GOD TELLS MOSES TO DO IS STRENGTHEN JOSHUA
- The word strengthen means to have victory, to let grow and increase, to cause one to have courage, to persist, to do something intensely, to be steady
- In other words, Moses… teach Joshua how to be faithful, teach Joshua that growth and success comes through persistence and faithfulness
- I always laugh when I hear the phrase overnight sensation – because in reality it’s more like the overnight sensation that was 10 years in the making
We live in a culture where you can send a text and get an instant response back
- We get mad when the person takes more than a few seconds to respond back
- People feel a sense of entitlement – you owe me and if you don’t give me what I want then I quit – and they pick up their toys and go home
- If my marriage doesn’t work out, I’ll just quit and get another marriage
- If it gets too hard, I’ll just quit and find something that’s easier
- What it does is make for weak people who don’t know how to overcome because they’re looking for the easy way out
One of my mentors is David Rosales, the pastor of Calvary Chapel Chino Valley. Another is John Milhouse, the pastor of Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley. David Rosales started his church in 1981. John started in 1982. Both ministries are strong, solid, loving churches that have given birth to other churches all over the world. They’re not flashy churches or cutting edge churches. There isn’t a buzz about their churches. They’re not trendy, but they are relevant. What I have seen through David and John is the result of two men who have been faithful to pastor the churches God gave them 30 years ago. I see the benefits of being faithful.
- Their example inspires me to stay faithful to the work God has called me to do
- It inspires me to be patient and to wait for the vision God has given me to come to pass
I want to tell you the story of a young preacher who faced a crisis of faith. He became the first evangelist for Youth For Christ, but he didn’t believe the message he was preaching. He was filled with doubt. He questioned – is God really God? Is He a God of love, power, truth and wisdom? Does He care about humanity? Does He hear and answer prayer? Is Jesus Christ really the Son of God? Does He equip men and women with supernatural grace and favor when they seek His face and place their lives at His disposal? Does God fill us with the Holy Spirit and visit us in hidden and unseen ways when we defy the pattern of the world and commit ourselves to His own pattern of crucifixion and resurrection? These were real questions for this young man. He was invited by Henrietta Mears to a conference at the Forest Home Conference Grounds in the San Bernardino Mountains. This young man writes in his biography that Henrietta Mears was a great spiritual reservoir for him. Finally, one moonlit night this young preacher got his Bible and went out into the forest until he came to a stump. He placed his Bible on the stump and knelt down and said – God, I cannot answer some of these questions, but I accept this book by faith as the Word of God.” That man was Billy Graham. Concerning Henrietta Mears Billy Graham writes… I doubt if any other woman outside my wife and mother has had such a marked influence on my life. She is certainly one of the greatest Christians I have ever know.”
- In this city could be the next Billy Graham and you could be the person that God is going to use, like Moses, to command, encourage and strengthen them.
- You can allow life to continue to overwhelm you, you can focus on all your problems or you can get busy doing what God has called you to do – command, encourage, strengthen.