Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Spiritual Heritage

A Spiritual Heritage


When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.” – Judges 2:10

A spiritual heritage isn’t something you hear much about these days. But it’s something this old girl loves to tell about.  The love of those who blessed me with the knowledge of God overflows in my heart as I remember them.  I grew up with grandparents who believed in God and worshipped Him.  All of them, great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents, knew God as their savior and allowed Him to be Lord of all.
My Papaw Lev was the song leader at the church I grew up in for many years.  On the day I was baptized in Lake Barkley I remember him on the bank, in his old gray flannel hat, leading the church in “Shall We Gather at the River”.  He would often go to town with his Bible, sit on the “loafer’s bench” in front of the old court house, and wait for someone to come along to discuss the Bible with him.

My Granddaddy Clarence, nicknamed “Tarzan”, was a loving man much like my Uncle Dale.  His hugs would tell you all you needed to know about what was in his heart.  He was a deacon in the church for a long time, and proudly served the church.  It wasn’t uncommon to see his Bible on the table beside his recliner.
My Mamma Ruby, given up for adoption as a little girl, had been raised in an orphanage.  She was not saved when she came into our lives, but I remember when she was. And I remember her morals of hard work, and determination.  She would work in the field or with the cattle or pigs till noon, come in and cook a farmer’s lunch, and then clean up and go to work at one of a number of restaurants she worked in as a cook.  And she was a great cook too! If you ever ate at Pete Light Springs when it was in the height of its popularity, you most likely ate her cooking.

My Momma Pearl was a strong woman of faith.  She believed God for what the Bible said and was non-denominational before it even had a name.  She would worship Him anywhere and everywhere she was invited to go.  She watched TV ministries, and give to orphans in other countries.  She taught me how to pray by watching and listening to her.  Being widowed at an early age, she raised my cousin’s single handedly.  Though they gave her a hard time, she remained strong, steady in her faith, loyal to God, and unshakeable.  She was the one to lead me to Christ.    
But they weren’t perfect people by any means.  My Papaw Lev quit going to church completely after my Great-Grandmother Oat died.  Truth be told, he liked to argue the Bible as much as discuss it.  My Granddaddy Clarence gave up on church after my Momma Ruby died and eventually was excluded from the church because he hadn’t attended in a long time.  He later turned back to church but missed several years.  My Momma Pearl had a tongue sharper than a steak knife and often lit up the phone lines gossiping with her friends.  But were they spiritual role models for me?  You bet they were!  Love covers a multitude of sins, and it was there love for Him that I saw most. They showed reverence and respect to God regardless of their church attendance, bad habits, or attitudes.  I am a better person today because they were part of my spiritual heritage.

In Judges 2 we read of Israel when they had first begun to take the Promised Land from its inhabitants.  Under God’s direction and Joshua’s leadership, they conquered nation by nation to gain the land that God had given them.   Joshua rallied them and directed them to trust and obey God, much like a grandparent will teach their children to respect God.  But as Joshua died, something unexpected unfolded.  Though he taught His generation to trust God, the second generation did not.
Judges 2:8-10 tells of his death and says “Now Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died when he was one hundred and ten years old.  And they buried him within the border of his inheritance at Timnath Heres, in the mountains of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash. When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. 

After 110 years of life Joshua died, and the generation he led died. And the next generation grew and did not know the Lord or even the miraculous things He had done for Israel.  If we read further we find that they were idolaters, and “did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals” (Judges 2:11).  After all God had accomplished for Israel to have these children raised in freedom, they could not be grateful because they didn’t know about the blessings God had given them.  We have to lay blame at their parent’s feet for this one.  What parent would deny their child the knowledge of God?
After raising two kids of my own, I know how hard it is to get them up and dressed for church on a Sunday morning.  It’s even harder if the man of the house doesn’t want to lead.  But friends, if we don’t take our children to church, they will never learn of God.  The school doesn’t teach about Him.  We don’t teach about Him in our homes. Our liberal media isn’t going to proclaim His existence.  Without church attendance, they will likely grow up to be idolaters as well, and reject the God that loves them.

Giving your children a spiritual heritage means you have to walk with Christ in a visible daily manner.  The best sermons are the ones that are not spoken.  Seeing you pray, as I did my Momma Pearl, they will learn to pray.  Seeing you study your Bible, as I did my Papa Lev, they’ll learn the joy of studying His word.  Seeing you go to church when you’re tired and overworked, as I did my Momma Ruby, they learn the importance of loyalty to Him without you even having to proclaim it.
You can leave your children a great inheritance in financial funds and investments.  But when you’re gone, you will have no idea if it will be spent well or wasted on momentary desires.  But if you leave them a spiritual heritage, you will see them walk through Heaven crowned one day.  Then you will know that the struggles were all worth it.

I won’t be searching Heaven for my kids for I know they’ll be there.  I’m passing on my spiritual heritage.  What about your kids?  What about your grand kids?  Are you leaving them a spiritual heritage?  The best time to teach them about God is before you’ve breathed your last breath. 



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