Monday, January 30, 2017

What Will You Leave Behind?

Every Christian leaves something behind when he or she is finally called home to be with the Lord someday. Leaving a legacy or a heritage is not an option. The question is, “What type of legacy do you leave behind?” This could be one of the most profound question that may change the way you live your life.

You see, your family pass on a legacy to you – good or bad – because that is what they have. And you will pass on a legacy to your children by which they will live by. It would be reasonable to say that all parents would love to leave something good for their children to the best of their abilities. But what is the thing of greatest value that we can leave behind for them? The things of greatest value would be reflected by what we put our time to. Excellence in academic pursuits and extracurricular activities are something we Malaysian parents take pride in. Hence the constant shuttle between one tuition to another after school and on top of that, all kinds of classes from swimming to music. There is a mad race to chase after the things that we think will get our children ahead of the pack. But are they really things of greatest worth?

An added challenge would be that we are not only to pass these on just to the next generation, but beyond that. “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children” (Proverbs 13: 22) Generational blessings are to be a norm in God’s plan for our families. “One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendour of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.” (Psalm 145:4–5)

Martin Luther, a seminal figure in the Protestant Movement, was asked what he would do if he knew he were going to die tomorrow. His simple reply was "I would go out and plant a tree." He would, in other words, leave behind a legacy of life that would grow on and on into the future. This brings into questions the focus of many in their quests to leave behind wealth, possessions and good academic qualifications. These things, while good to have, will not be the things that are essential for a lasting Godly legacy.

In the studies of the book of Joshua, in particular chapter one, when Moses passed on his leadership baton to Joshua, there was a clarity about three things that Joshua received from God as he prepared to enter the Promised Land. First, there was a clarity of God’s call. “I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. “Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.” (Joshua 1:3-4) God gave precise detail of what he needed Joshua to follow through. Otherwise he will be wandering aimlessly through the region and never arriving, typical of many who are living their lives chasing after the wind, blindfolded. Our children can be climbing the corporate ladder and to realise when they finally reached the top, it is leaning on the wrong wall! Learning to live in accordance to God’s commandments will save us a lot time and heartaches in the latter years. How do we discern God’s will? By reading His word and hearing His voice. Jesus said “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) Knowing the Bible well will ensure that the voices we hear, if they are conflicting, will be filtered accordingly because He will never instruct us on something contrary to His Word. Hence, the first principle is this: teach your children to hear the voice of God and to discern His will.

Second, there is a clarity about God’s Presence. “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5) The stories of Joshua in chapters 2 to 12, crossing of the Jordan river (Chapter 3), the defeat of Jericho and Ai (Chapter 6 and 8), battles with the 31 kings and the day the sun stood still for a whole day (Chapter 10), are powerful stories of God’s faithfulness and deliverance in the lives of the Israelites. These stories are told from one generation to another and immortalized in the Bible. Testimonies like these build faith. The question is, what stories do you leave behind of God’s faithfulness? DUMC is a story of faith that will be passed on to our next generation. Our ministries to people and mission to the world are powerful stories of life’s transformations. It is about raising up home and workplace ministers as salt of the earth and light of the world. The Church is present through you and your children in the world. Powerful legacies are always about transformed lives. The second principle evolves around teaching your children to experience the Presence of God. Leave behind powerful stories of how God dealt with you.

Third, there is a clarity of God’s enabling. “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.” (Joshua 1:6) The call to be strong and courageous was a divine call and encouragement made by God to Joshua three times. Hence we recognise that God often allows challenges and difficulties in our lives to grow and mature us. Don’t be too quick therefore to wish away challenges and problems. Problems and challenges build faith. The bigger the problem the bigger the building of our faith because we have a BIG God. The third principle would then be to teach your children to experience God’s enabling. Challenge them to serve their Almighty God and they will experience His enabling in powerful ways. Teach and show them to step out in faith and do not be too quick to bail them out of difficult situations because that would jolly well be the best learning experiences they can go through as they cry out to God.

My challenge therefore to all of us would be to build DUMC not just for ourselves with our own preferences, but to build it for our children and their children. We find too many young people leaving the church they grew up in because they no longer find it relevant. The generation after Joshua turned away from God. Let’s not be found making the same mistake. The most important legacy is a life of faith in God that leads to eternal life. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Mt 16:26, ESV). Often we are concern about our children’s physical provision. Have we thought about their spiritual provision, helping them to move from second-hand to a first-hand faith?

In my personal reflection, the book of Joshua was a practical outworking of the promises of God. Simply stated, God is saying in the battle field of life, “Follow me, you win. Leave me, you lose.”  Obedience brings blessings and disobedience brings curses. I succinctly summed up the whole series in these words: “Without God, we cannot. Without us, God will not.” Joshua not only emphasized the faithfulness of God but also the responsibility of Israel. This is the mystery of faith. Although God could do it all on His own yet He gave us a choice to serve Him because He wants to work through us! If Joshua and the people of Israel had not co-operated with God, their entry into the Promised Land would not have happened, and yet without God and without His interventions, they could not possibly have done it. This I believe will be the most powerful legacy we can leave behind.

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