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Grace Notes Ministry:
From Generation To Generation
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.
A Biblical generation is 40 years.
That sums up what today is all about…on this the 40th anniversary of GBC, we celebrate a Generation of Grace! We praise God for all He has done and for all those He has done it thru, inc. those remaining here today. You paved the way, you paid for that pavement, and these facilities, and ministries all these years, and you continue to serve the Lord faithfully! And now, a new generation is on the scene, and we must join this race, receive the baton…the torch is being passed. Will we, too, become a generation of Grace? How about our children?
The number 40 in the Bible speaks of a generation, but it also symbolizes earthly trials and tribulations:
It rained on Noah 40 days and nights
How long did Nineveh have to repent? 40 days.
Jesus’ fasting in wilderness? 40 days
And there’s many other examples we could go into…but for now, check out this verse we finished with on Sunday night:
And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done…
We cannot let that happen! The Bible says,
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh…
But what will become of the next generation?
If we do it correctly…then this is what could be said,
I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.
If this is to happen, then it’s up to us gathered here this morning, by God’s grace, to see it thru! It’s time to claim responsibility…to lay aside the ‘consumer mentality’ that asks ‘what can this church do for me?’, and have a ‘contributor mentality’, asking, ‘what can I do for the church God has led me to?’
"Contributor Mentality"--This person looks for a place where they are needed. Their main question is "where is a local church that I can serve God thru?" They believe God's perfect will includes more than just "what's in it for me." Matter of fact, they firmly believe that they will receive the most when they are giving of their time, talents, and treasures, believing that they cannot outgive God.
God would seem to agree...
You can be blessed by going to a church where others have sacrificed and built something good...but you can be "double-blessed" by going to a church with needs and problems to solve, and then becoming a part of the solution!
The Bible has quite a lot to say about generations, and the younger generation stepping up to the plate and dedicating to the task at hand!
Consider these verses:
Thou, O Lord, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation.
How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.
…his hand hath divided it unto them…they shall possess it for ever, from generation to generation shall they dwell therein.
…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
1 Peter 2:9
But ye are a chosen generation…that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Yes, the Bible has much to say about generations, and our responsibility for the next 40 years is clear! But, there’s also a major warning for us in scripture, in the form of the children of Israel. This is a huge story, a major illustration, but summed up succinctly in Psalm 78…please turn…
Let’s read the first 8 verses responsively…
And the rest of Psalm 78 sums up 6 books of the Bible…Exodus-Judges. What would take 3 months to read if you spent 15 min. per day is summed up for us here in a brief, 3 minute overview.
vv. 10-29 God was taking good care of His own. But they didn’t go with His plan, they lacked faith, and constantly complained!
vv. 30-33 God decided it wouldn’t happen for that generation.
Ever felt like you have wasted years? Ever looked back over a period of time and wondered why you squandered it so, and what you really accomplished of real value?
What does v. 33 mean when it speaks of vanity and years consumed?
(There are eleven days' journey from Horeb by the way of mount Seir unto Kadesh-barnea.)  And it came to pass in the fortieth year…
Whoa Nellie! It took 40 years to travel this short distance? Yes! As they went in circles, going nowhere, meandering their lives away!
The next few verses then also summarize their lack of faith, and going their own way, and how God let them wander in the wilderness, and then it says in…
Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers,
Yes, their days were consumed in vanity!
Here’s a couple of other very ‘telling’ verses:
And the Lord's anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the Lord, was consumed.
Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways:
Now, don’t miss this:
Egypt is a picture of the bondage of sin, but God delivered them. And the promised land wasn’t far away, and the promised land is a picture of the victorious life. So we can see this story and how Israel turned a few days journey into 40 years and we can almost get angry and want to slap them around…that is, until we realize that they are a picture of us, the church!
Oh me oh my! Check out this passage…
1 Cor. 10:5, 11-12
But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.  Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.  Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
These things about Israel were written for us, today!
A map reveals that they went in circles. And spiritually they were going in circles.
Back to Psalm 78…
vv. 34-42 And the rest of the chapter reminisces of the mighty plagues in Egypt, and how mightily God delivered them, and how they treated Him in return, spitting in His face by not fully following Him.
And truly for us to do anything less than give Him 100% of who we are is an insult, and will lead to a wilderness-like Christianity that goes in circles and accomplishes very little for our generation!
v. 41 says they ‘limited God.’ But can the creature actually limit the Creator? How could this be? He’s all powerful!
First of all, God is His essence cannot be limited. He plays by no one’s rules but His own…but one of His rules He goes by is that He will not use a dirty vessel to put His glory into. He will not put His hand into a dirty glove to do His work.
The balance: truly, anything God does thru us is in spite of who we are as sinful mankind…but He can do so much more than we allow Him to…we limit Him by not selling out and becoming 100% dedicated to the greatest life any Christian could ever hope to live, the life of building the church of the living God!
To do less is unthinkable, and limits God, and could spell the end of this place long before another 40 years comes and goes.
It’s time the people of God realize they are limiting the Father’s work here in the church. It’s time we stop praying, ‘God, use me’, and start praying, ‘God, make me usable’. This happens when we realize that He wants to do greater works than we can imagine, and He wants this place to become a soul saving station like no other in the area, full and overflowing!
That’s why He left us here…it’s why He led you here…you can do it, you can reach others w/ God’s help, if you’ll commit to the task, and take responsibility in your generation, and just believe it’s possible…to do less would be to limit God!
I don’t like what I see in Israel. And often when we don’t like someone, it’s because they remind us of ourselves! Personality conflicts come when we butt heads w/ someone much like us! And so, we could point our fingers at Israel and ask them why they made such an easy task, such a short journey, into such a long, drawn out, impossible feat…but rather than do that, we should look in the mirror and say, how can I avoid doing the same thing.
The Bible says that the “dog returns to his vomit, and the pig to wallowing in the mud”
We need to stop the cycle of going in circles…constantly returning to the same sins over and over again, and get victory and go forward, doing greater things for God than we ever even considered we could do!
…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
We take God’s grace so lightly, and return to the same sins over and again.
Ill.—pet sins—they keep coming back because of how we stroke them and feed them and care for them!
You know, you can’t keep stray dogs from coming into your yard, but you don’t have to pet them and feed them…or they’ll never leave!
Ill.—my daughter knows just the face to make when she’s in trouble, that will get her out. I know just the pathetic voice to use when my wife is onto my mischief. And she knows just what meal to prepare right before she asks if she can ‘go shopping’!
And Satan knows just what sin will always work w/ you, and he uses it all the time, and why SHOULD he change his game plan when that sin works every time. It’s the king sin that sits on the throne of your life! Name it right now! What’s your king sin?
Well, it’s time we teach the devil it’s not gonna work anymore!
Here’s 3 quick things Israel did wrong:
1. Lacked faith. They didn’t take God at His Word.
v. 22 Oh, they believed enough to leave Egypt [to get saved] but not enough to ever arrive at the promised land [victorious life]. I marvel at Christians who believe God for something as huge as salvation, but don’t believe they could ever personally win a soul to Christ, or don’t believe He could do great things w/ their life!
2. Lacked obedience. They didn’t hearken to God’s voice.
vv. 9-10 God told them they would win if they would go forward and enter the promised land, but they saw giants and were afraid, and turned back.
3. Lacked purity. They didn’t progress in holiness.
Praise God He doesn’t expect sinless perfection, for none of us could meet that challenge. But He does expect us to ‘sin less’!
vv. 56-61 detail this.
God wants us to go forward as Christians, and as a church, and the best progress comes by walking, not by wandering.
2 Peter 3:18
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
That’s baby steps, but it’s still going forward…that’s progressing in holiness!
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
…that’s progressing in holiness!
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
…that’s progressing in holiness!
For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
…that’s progressing in holiness!
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
At best, most Christians just confess…knowing it’s not the last time they will do that sin! Well, that confession may be good for the soul, but forsaking is what God is looking for, or we limit Him in our generation!
Ill.—the front row sin—this auditorium has a front row. And if the front row were a sin, it’s the main one we should deal with. Throw out your front row sin, there will be more to deal w/ after it, but until you deal w/ row #1, you limit God, and wander in the wilderness, and go nowhere in your life! [Will there still be a front row? Yes, the next moves up, but one by one we are to progress in holiness!]
Wanna know what my front row sin is? Yeah, I’ll bet you do. Listen, I don’t want to hang out my dirty laundry any more than you do. Fact is, we don’t have to. We need to share it w/ God who already knows, but wants to see if we’ll admit it and deal with it.
I’m a young man, in only our 5th year as a Senior Pastor, but the Lord Jesus has sent me today to ask, what is your front row sin? And how are you going to deal with it? Will you limit God, or will you become a part of the generation of Grace?!
How can we ever become conquerors when we’re constantly a casualty?
It’s been great to look back over these 40 years, but now it’s time to go forward. What will we see when we look back from the future?
All Sermons and PowerPoint Slideshow Presentations ©Copyright Jerry Shirley and Grace Notes Ministries® unless otherwise credited. These resources are yours to use freely, but only in public worship services or private study groups and devotions. They may not be sold, republished or retransmitted in any form without written permission.