************ Sermon on Psalm 78:4 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on April 21, 2002

Psalm 78:1-8
Psalm 78:4
"Telling the Next Generation"

I like to invite the students in Grades 5 & 6 to come forward ... (GET THEM TO COME FORWARD). I am going to ask you students some Bible questions. I want you to show off your Bible knowledge. I will be starting off with easy questions and then my questions will become harder.

1. Name one of the Ten Commandments.
Comedian Jay Leno asked this question as he roamed through his audience one day. Do you know what someone answered? "God helps those who help themselves." I don't find that in my Bible.

2. Name one of the Apostles.
No one in Leno's audience was able to give the name of even a single apostle.

3. What did David do to Goliath?
David killed him with a slingshot and a stone and then cut off his head.
A recent candidate for governor in Nevada, supposedly a smart man, said David "didn't kill Goliath, he just hurt him a little."

4. What is the first line of the Lord's Prayer?
"Our Father Who art in heaven."
In response to this question someone recently said, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."

5. Where do you find the line, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want"?
Psalm 23

6. What is the last book of the Old Testament?

7. What does the shortest verse of the Bible say?
(Jn 11:35) Jesus wept.

8. How many Psalms are there?

9. What is the theme of 1 Corinthians 13?

10. What did Rahab the prostitute hang from her window so she and her family were not killed when the walls of Jericho came crashing down?
A scarlet cord

11. How many children did Abraham have?
A. One
B. Two
C. Many sons and daughters
Answer is C: Ishmael, Isaac, and (Gen 25:1-2) Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. (2) She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah.

12. Name the fruit of the Spirit?
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

13. Name the chapter and verse that talks about the fruit of the Spirit?
Galatians 5:22-23

Be honest: raise your hand if you knew the correct answer for every question.

I'm proud and happy to say that most of our children and youth and adults know their Bibles. The questions I asked our youth are easy for most of our members to answer.

Do you know why? It is because of Christian Education. We stress Christian Education in the home, church, and school. To use our Christian Education theme for this year, we insist on "Telling the Next Generation" about God and the things of God.

I Hide the Lord
A Our text uses a word that struck me as strange when I was studying it this past week. I am talking about the word "hide."
(Ps 78:4) We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.
Why would anyone "hide" the LORD and the things of the LORD from their children and grandchildren? Yet, as Jay Leno has demonstrated, that is exactly what many parents have done.

B Strictly speaking, it is impossible to "hide" the Lord. After all, we can't shove Him in a box somewhere. And, He has not left Himself without witnesses and testimonies. For instance, all of Creation speaks of Him, His glory, His power, His wisdom, His creativity and imagination. Furthermore, with church buildings in every town and city, religious programing on TV and radio, countless missionaries and church planters, and the witness of individual Christians there really is no excuse not to know about God in our country.

C Yet, many parents "hide" God from their children.

Some parents "hide" God from their children because they don't take their children to worship services and Sunday School. They don't give their children religious instruction in the home. They don't bother with Bible reading and prayer. They raise their children in ignorance about the Lord and the Bible.

Some parents "hide" God from their children by failing to image Christ. It is hard for children to see God as a loving Father if they have a dad who constantly yells or swears or gets drunk or abuses and mistreats them.

Some parents "hide" God from their children because of wrong priorities. They chase after things and wealth and money and pleasure instead of chasing after God and His Kingdom and His righteousness and the Word.

Some parents "hide" God from their children by exposing the children to many faiths, many religions, and many belief systems without telling them which is right and which is wrong. They give their children no direction about ultimate truth and say they want to let their children make up their own mind. They say they will not influence their children in making choices and decisions in matters of religion. But why not? The ads will! The press will! The movies will! The neighbors will! The forces of sin will! The politicians will!

At the time of Jesus some parents tried to "hide" God from their children by practicing their faith in secret. Joseph of Arimathea was that way. Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews (Jn 19:38). In fact, many of the Jewish leaders believed in Jesus in secret; John tells us that because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; they loved praise from men more than praise from God (Jn 12:42).

II The Praiseworthy Deeds of the Lord
A Instead of hiding the Lord and the things of the Lord we all know that we are to "tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done" (vs 4).

What are the praiseworthy deeds that the psalmist has in mind? In verses 9-72 the psalmist tells us exactly what deeds and wonders he has in mind:
(Ps 78:13-16) He divided the sea and led them through; he made the water stand firm like a wall. (14) He guided them with the cloud by day and with light from the fire all night. (15) He split the rocks in the desert and gave them water as abundant as the seas; (16) he brought streams out of a rocky crag and made water flow down like rivers.

(Ps 78:23-29) Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; (24) he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven. (25) Men ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat. (26) He let loose the east wind from the heavens and led forth the south wind by his power. (27) He rained meat down on them like dust, flying birds like sand on the seashore. (28) He made them come down inside their camp, all around their tents. (29) They ate till they had more than enough, for he had given them what they craved.

(Ps 78:42-55) They did not remember his power-- the day he redeemed them from the oppressor, (43) the day he displayed his miraculous signs in Egypt, his wonders in the region of Zoan. (44) He turned their rivers to blood; they could not drink from their streams. (45) He sent swarms of flies that devoured them, and frogs that devastated them. (46) He gave their crops to the grasshopper, their produce to the locust. (47) He destroyed their vines with hail and their sycamore-figs with sleet. (48) He gave over their cattle to the hail, their livestock to bolts of lightning. (49) He unleashed against them his hot anger, his wrath, indignation and hostility-- a band of destroying angels. (50) He prepared a path for his anger; he did not spare them from death but gave them over to the plague. (51) He struck down all the firstborn of Egypt, the firstfruits of manhood in the tents of Ham. (52) But he brought his people out like a flock; he led them like sheep through the desert. (53) He guided them safely, so they were unafraid; but the sea engulfed their enemies. (54) Thus he brought them to the border of his holy land, to the hill country his right hand had taken. (55) He drove out nations before them and allotted their lands to them as an inheritance; he settled the tribes of Israel in their homes.
The psalmist mentions all the high-points of Israel's history.

B Day after day and year after year our children and youth need to hear the great stories of the Christian faith. We need to tell the next generation not just the stories mentioned in Psalm 78 but also the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, Paul, Peter, and especially Jesus.

Not only that, but our children and youth need to see the "praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done" in all of life. They need to hear and see "the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord" in algebra, history, biology, science, geography, and technology too. They need to be told that God is doing great things today as well.

III Parents are Responsible
A Within the covenant community, God is addressing Himself first of all here to parents. We often miss this obvious point. It is to parents that God entrusts the primary responsibility for telling children the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord. The psalmist says,
(Ps 78:5-6) He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, (6) so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.
God's Word is plain, simple, and easy to understand: it is Christian parents who have the primary responsibility for "Telling the Next Generation."

Moms and dads, do you live up to the Lord's leading here? Do you follow God's will for your life? Do you take seriously your responsibility to tell your child the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord? Do you read the Bible to your little ones and children? Do you pray over them every single day? Do you ask your youth questions about their faith and devotional life? Do you encourage them to profess their faith?

B Parents are responsible for teaching their children about God. Parents are responsible for giving their children a Christian education. But we don't have to do it on our own. We get help from the Christian Church and the Christian School in doing this.

In a school like CVC, for instance, teachers help students see God in science, math, literature, art, geography, and PE. They help students see the "praiseworthy deeds of God, his power, and the wonders he has done" in every area of life. And, thanks to the Christian School our children and youth know the Bible in a way that other parents can only envy.

C The Christian School and the Christian Church helps parents in teaching their children about God. But theirs is only a helping role. Christian instruction in the school and church is never meant to take the place of instruction in the home. Instruction always starts in the home. In fact, it must start in the home.

The words of the psalmist reminds us that the most important mission field is in our own home. It makes little sense to worry about the salvation of the heathen if we don't press the claims of God and His Christ upon our own children and loved ones. It makes little sense to expend money and effort on the lost of the inner city if we are not willing to do the same and even more for our own children. No mission field, congregation, is more important than the one in our own home. And no mission is more important than passing on the faith in our own families.
Topic: Parental Duties
Subtopic: Discipline of Children
Index: 1630
Title: No Decision to Make

The late J. Edgar Hoover was once asked, "Should I make my child go to Sunday school and church?" His reply was both Scriptural and practical. "Yes," said the former head of the FBI, "you certainly should, and with no further discussion about the matter. You may be startled by my answer, but what do you say to Junior when he comes to breakfast on Monday morning and announces he isn't going to school anymore? You know! He goes! How do you answer him when he comes home covered with mud and says, 'I'm not going to take a bath.' Junior bathes, doesn't he? Why all this timidity, then, in the realm of spiritual guidance and growth? You say you're going to let him wait and decide what church he wants to go to when he is old enough? Quit your kidding! You wouldn't wait until he's grown up to choose whether he wishes to be clean or dirty, would you? Do you let him decide for himself whether to take medicine when he's sick? Do you? How shall we respond, then, when Junior says he doesn't want to go to Sunday school and church? That's easy! Just be consistent. Tell him, 'Son, in our house we ALL go to Sunday school and church, and that includes you!' Your firmness and example will furnish a bridge over which youthful rebellion will then travel into many rich and satisfying spiritual experiences."
Families are God's primary missionary society.

IV Trust in God
A Why are Christian parents to tell their children "the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done"? Parents do this so that their children by grace end up knowing, fearing, and serving God. The psalmist puts it this way:
(Ps 78:7) Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.
When Christian parents tell their children "the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done," then those children by grace end up with faith. When Christian parents tell the next generation about the Lord, then those children by grace trust God, know His deeds, and keep His commands.

B But the opposite is also true. When parents don't tell their children "the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done," their children cannot help but grow up as covenant breakers. Verse 8 and following tells us the sad result when children do not hear about God, ignore His commands, and forget His deeds:
(Ps 78:8) They would ... be like their fore-fathers--a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.
It is hard for me to even imagine that some parents in Israel did not tell their children about the Lord and the things of the Lord yet, that is exactly what happened.

I say what I said before: families are God's primary missionary society. It is through the family that God carries out His decree of election. For this reason it is important, vitally important, for parents to tell the next generation "the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done."

But, as I said before, we don't have to do this on our own. Both the Christian Church and the Christian School partner with parents as they keep their commitment "to tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord."
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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