Our Goal Is Godly Children
Psalm 78:1-39 (Initial Reading vs. 1-8)
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - June 22, 2014
*The greatest happiness in the life of a Christian parent is to see their child receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The greatest heartache is to see their child reject the Lord. Nothing in life is more important for us than to raise godly children. That's true for us as Christian parents. And it's true for us as a church. In this Psalm, God helps us see how to do it.
1. And first of all, the Lord calls us to listen.
*We see this truth twice in vs. 1, where God says: "Give ear, O my people, to my law; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth." God calls us to stop and listen to Him. This truth is the main theme for our VBS tomorrow evening. And it always amazes me to stop and consider that the God of the whole universe is willing to speak to us. But He is! By His Word and by His Holy Spirit, God will certainly speak to us.
*And the most important thing God speaks about is His Son Jesus Christ. In fact, vs. 2 is speaking about Jesus when it says: "I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old." This verse is a prophecy about how the Lord would teach, and it was written a thousand years before Jesus was born!
*God can speak through prophecies like this, because He is bigger than time! God Almighty is big enough to see the whole scope of history at once, so He can reveal the future to us in His Word, and He has! That's why in Isaiah 46, God gives us this command:
9. Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,
10. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.'"
*Verse 2 is just one of many prophecies God gave us about His Son Jesus Christ. And the New Testament explains that this prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus began to teach with parables. Matthew 13:35 says that Jesus taught in parables, "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: 'I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.'"
*A skeptic could say that doesn't prove anything about Jesus, because anyone could fulfill this prophecy about telling parables. But Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophecies during the 33 years of His life on earth. On just the day of Jesus' crucifixion, 35 different prophecies were fulfilled. No wonder Jon Allen said, "The biography of Christ was written centuries before He was born."
*So for example, in the Old Testament we read that:
-He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
-He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14).
-He would be betrayed by a friend (Psalm 41:9)
-The price of betrayal would be 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13).
-His hands and feet would be nailed (Psalm 22:16).
-None of His bones would be broken (Psalm 34:20).
-His side would be pierced (Zechariah 12:10).
-He would be buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9).
-And that He would rise from the dead! (Psalm 16:10).
*Could over 300 prophecies about Jesus coming true be just a coincidence? Mathematician Peter Stoner calculated that the odds of even 8 of these prophecies coming true would have been one in a hundred-million-billion! Then to help us understand that staggering figure, Peter gave an illustration using that gigantic number.
*Dr. Stoner said, "Suppose we take a hundred-million-billion silver dollars, and lay them out over the state of Texas. Those silver dollars will cover the whole state of Texas two feet deep! Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes anywhere in the state, but he must pick up the silver dollar that was marked.
*What chance would he have of getting the right one? The same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these 8 prophecies, and having them all come true in any one man!" (1)
*Church: We can be absolutely sure that Jesus Christ is the Lord God Almighty and the only Savior of the world who was prophesied to come. We can be absolutely sure that God speaks to us in this Book. And He wants to speak to us, so again in vs. 1, He says: "Give ear, O my people, to my law; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth."
*God wants us to listen to His Word, especially what He says about His Son Jesus Christ. God wants us to listen to the truth about Jesus' birth, His death on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead. God calls us to listen, and it's one of the keys for raising godly children.
2. But God also calls us to learn.
*Verse 3 talks about the things of God "which we have heard and known."
 God wants us to know. He surely wants us to know His magnificent works.
*He wants us to learn about the wonderful things that He has done. God wants us to know all of the Old Testament stories: Like Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden, Noah and the Ark, David and Goliath, Daniel in the lion's den.
*And here in Psalm 78, God wants us to learn about Moses and the Children of Israel. The tragic news was that so many people in that generation stubbornly rebelled against God. And why did they rebel? Verse 11 shows us one of the main reasons: They "forgot His works And His wonders that He had shown them."
*May we never do that! May God help us to learn and remember His great works! -- Works like we see starting in vs. 12:
12. Marvelous things He did in the sight of their fathers, In the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
13. He divided the sea and caused them to pass through; And He made the waters stand up like a heap.
14. In the daytime also He led them with the cloud, And all the night with a light of fire.
15. He split the rocks in the wilderness, And gave them drink in abundance like the depths.
16. He also brought streams out of the rock, And caused waters to run down like rivers.
*We see more of God's great works in vs. 23-25. There:
23. . . He had commanded the clouds above, And opened the doors of heaven,
24. Had rained down manna on them to eat, And given them of the bread of heaven.
25. Men ate angels' food; He sent them food to the full.
*We must never forget the great works of our God. We need to learn them so well that we constantly carry His works in our hearts. Then they will influence the decisions we make, and the way we live our lives.
*God wants us all to know about His works, especially the wonderful works of Jesus. He healed the sick and raised the dead. He walked on water and calmed the storms. He even died on the cross, and rose again from the dead!
 God wants us to learn about His magnificent works. -- He also wants us to learn about His merciful ways.
*The Holy Spirit helps us understand God's mercy starting down in vs. 36. There the rebellious Children of Israel:
36. . . lied to Him with their tongue;
37. For their heart was not steadfast with Him, Nor were they faithful in His covenant.
38. But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, And did not destroy them. Yes, many a time He turned His anger away, And did not stir up all His wrath;
39. For He remembered that they were but flesh, A breath that passes away and does not come again.
*Our God is a compassionate, merciful God, and we see this best in the cross of Jesus Christ. In His merciful love, God the Father sent God the Son into this world to die on the cross for us. Jesus took all of our punishment for our sins. Then He rose again from the dead, because He did not deserve to die. And He will give us eternal life, if we will turn to the Lord and put our trust in Him, if we will open our hearts and receive Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of our lives.
*All of us need to know these things, because like the rebellious people in this Psalm, all of us are sinners. Our children also need to learn God's ways as soon as they can, because they are sinners too.
*We will see a baby cooing at his mom and we say, "What a sweet little baby." And he is a sweet little child, as long as he gets exactly what he wants, when he wants it. We were all born with a sinful nature because of Adam and Eve's fall in the Garden.
*Danny Cox gave the example of his grandson Rex. Rex was in kindergarten when he tried to convince his mom to play hooky with him. They lived in Southern California, and Rex was well aware of the many possibilities.
*He started by saying, "Mom, it's too beautiful today to go to school. Can we go to the beach?" Mom replied, "No, honey, you have to go to school today." Rex figured that the beach wasn't good enough to convince his mom. So next he said, "Then how about Disneyland? Think of the fun we could have there!"
*"No, Rex," mom replied, "you have to go to school today." "Why?" Rex asked. Mom decided to appeal to his love for her, and replied, "Because if you don't go to school, they could put me in jail."
*Rex thought about it a moment, got a funny look on his face, and asked, "For how long?" That little boy wanted to go to Disneyland! And he was willing to throw Mom under the bus to get there. (2)
*But all of us were born with that streak of selfishness, so we have to learn about our sinfulness, about God's judgment on sin, and about God's great mercy that comes the cross of Jesus Christ.
*We have to learn enough to really turn our lives over to Jesus Christ, and put our trust in Him. You see another huge problem among the Children of Israel was that no matter what God did, they still refused to trust in Him.
*We can see this truth down in vs. 17-22, where the Children of Israel:
17. . . sinned even more against Him By rebelling against the Most High in the wilderness.
18. And they tested God in their heart By asking for the food of their fancy.
19. Yes, they spoke against God: They said, "Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?
20. Behold, He struck the rock, So that the waters gushed out, And the streams overflowed. Can He give bread also? Can He provide meat for His people?''
21. Therefore the Lord heard this and was furious; So a fire was kindled against Jacob, And anger also came up against Israel,
22. Because they did not believe in God, And did not trust in His salvation.
*We have to learn about God's magnificent works, and merciful ways. We have to learn enough to trust in the salvation God wants to give us through the cross of Christ. Then we will not just know about God. We will know Him in a personal way.
*Nebraska Pastor Scotty Plummer saw a picture of our God in his own father. Here's part of his testimony: "The day I turned 18, I left home. I had saved some money. And despite my parents' strong objections, I packed a few things in my Volkswagen and headed for California. Just outside of Needles, California, a man at a rest stop pulled a gun, took my wallet, and drove off with my car. I had not been in the state more than 15 minutes, and I was broke and on foot."
*Scotty was able to hitchhike to the coast, but said, "Within a few days, I was dirty and reduced to asking strangers for money. For two months I slept wherever I could. I searched behind restaurants and grocery stores for food. One day I spent a precious dollar on a postcard to send to the folks. I wrote: 'Having a great time. Found a good job, and have rented an apartment near the beach.' All lies, but I was too embarrassed to tell my folks of my situation.
*Every morning I would walk down Santa Monica Blvd, hold out my hand and ask everyone I passed, 'Do you have any extra change?'" One day, Scotty stuck his hand out to a man, and was shocked when he realized it was his father. Scotty said: "I was instantly embarrassed, and then I realized he didn't recognize me. As dad fumbled for change, I realized that I had lost a lot of weight. And behind the beard and dirty clothes, he could have easily passed me by. Then without really thinking about it, I blurted out, 'Dad! -- It's me. Scotty.' Tears came instantly to our eyes. He stood there in silence for a few moments; then said, 'Son, I've been looking for you.'
*Despite the filth and the smell, he hugged me close to himself. And to shorten a long story, within 24 hours I was clean, wearing new clothes, and on a plane heading for Nebraska. I was sitting beside my dad, and I was going home. I feel very good knowing that once he got my postcard, he came looking for me.
*Well, that was years ago. Both my mom and dad have passed away now. In fact I live in their house, the one I left so long ago. I realize now just how young and foolish I was back then, but I'll tell you something that is a lot more foolish than that. That day in Santa Monica, all I had asked from my dad was "any spare change." Yet he would have willingly given me all he had. I asked so little from him that day because (at first) I didn't know who he was.
*We often ask so little from God, because we really do not know him (as we should). We project our limited love toward God, and assume His love is limited towards us. But 'He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us, will He not also graciously give us everything we ask?' (Romans 8 32)" (3)
*That's what God calls us to learn, and that's why He calls us to learn.
3. But Church, God also calls us to lead.
*God calls us as parents, grandparents and concerned Christians to lead children in the way they should go. If we have really listened to God's Word, if we have really learned the works and ways of God, then we need to make the same commitment we hear in vs. 4: "We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done."
*God calls us to lead children in the way they should go. In fact, God commands us to lead them in vs. 5&6:
5. 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;
6. That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children,
*God commands us to lead children, and the first part of vs. 7 shows us why: "That they may set their hope in God. . ." God also commands us to lead children, so that they will be obedient to Him. In vs. 7&8:
7. That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments;
8. And may not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not set its heart aright, And whose spirit was not faithful to God.
*God calls all Christians to listen, learn and lead. And when we do, we will see great results in the younger generation. We will see more Christian heroes like 18-year-old Rachel Hill.
*Rachel was one of the 32 students massacred at Virginia Tech back in 2007. Rachel and at least 3 more of those murdered students were involved in the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Virginia Tech. Rachel was a freshman who graduated in 2006 from the Grove Avenue Christian School. This school is a ministry of Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia. Rachel was the only child of Alan and Tammy Hill.
*One of Rachel's former principals said: "She was a wonderful young lady, very bright, very gifted. She was very spiritually mature. She loved the Lord and was just an asset to our school."
*Rachel's high school administrator, Clay Fogler wrote these words of tribute: "Rachael was an incredible witness for Christ; the love of Christ shone through her to others. . ." He also said, "Any parent would have counted it a privilege to have called her their daughter." Rachel was "perpetually prepared. . . The world has lost one of its brightest prospects, but the Lord is glorified through the Daughter of the King that she is, the life that she lived, and the impact Rachael had on others in the name of Jesus Christ."
*Some of Rachel's friends said that the quote she submitted for her senior yearbook was almost prophetic. The quote by C.S. Lewis said this: "God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain, but without stain." (4)
*God wants us to help raise up more children like that! Let's ask Him to help us do it, as we go to God in prayer.
(1) Peter Stoner in "Science Speaks" - Source: "Illustration Digest" edited by Jon Allen - Number 2 - 1996, p. 11 - Also see: SermonCentral illustration contributed by: David Parks - Source: "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" by Josh McDowell
(2) Danny Cox and John Hoover, SEIZE THE DAY - Hawthorne, N.J. - Career Press - 1994 - Source: Sermons.com sermon "Secrets of Successful Parenting" by King Duncan - Luke 2:41-52
(3) Adapted from a sermon by N. D. "Scotty" Plummer - Source: "Illustration Digest" edited by Jon Allen - Number 1, 1996 - p. 5
(4) "Two Baptist students among shooting victims" - Posted on Apr 18, 2007 by Erin Roach - BLACKSBURG, VA - Baptist Press