Saturday, April 21, 2012
I SMELL SMOKE!
"But they rebelliously tested the Most High God, for they did not keep His decrees.
Fire consumed His chosen young men, and His young women had no wedding songs." (Psalm 78:56, 63 HCSB)
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire! That’s why having a smoke detector is critical to protect your home. The loud alarm can give you an opportunity to escape the imminent danger to your family, and if detection comes quickly you have a chance to put out the fire before it consumes everything.
I smell smoke! Today, I am a spiritual smoke detector. This message sounds a warning that is a life and death matter for your family. Israel did not listen and perished. They failed to set a pattern and teach the principles of the Word of God and so family life and national life became engulfed in hell’s inferno.
"My people, hear my instruction; listen to what I say. I will declare wise sayings; I will speak mysteries from the past--things we have heard and known and that our fathers have passed down to us. We must not hide them from their children,but must tell a future generation the praises of the Lord, His might, and the wonderful works He has performed.
He established a testimony in Jacob and set up a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers to teach to their children so that a future generation--children yet to be born--might know. They were to rise and tell their children so that they might put their confidence in God and not forget God's works, but keep His commands. Then they would not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not loyal and whose spirit was not faithful to God." (Psalm 78:1-8 HCSB)
If adults fail to give the message of God and give the model of godliness, we will see the sad results in the generation to come. The home will burn to the ground, “Fire consumed His chosen young men, and His young women had no wedding songs." (Psalm 78:63 HCSB)
That sinful generation is described as UNGRATEFUL in verses 9-16. Here are some key verses: "They did not keep God's covenant and refused to live by His law. They forgot what He had done, the wonderful works He had shown them. (Psalm 78:10, 11 HCSB)
They forgot all that God had done for them. He had blessed them and blessed them, and they just took it for granted those blessings would always be there—and they forgot that a gracious God was the source, and the blessings were undeserved.
I smell smoke! This describes the masses of those who have grown up with an entitlement mentality. We have modeled ungratefulness as parents and now we have a young generation that by and large has stricken, “Thank you,” from their vocabulary.
I smell smoke and where there’s smoke, there’s fire! Like pigs coming to a trough, we gorge ourselves at the table, few of us bowing our heads to a God in heaven who gives us every good thing. We dive into the food and don’t even offer a prayer of thanksgiving. Romans 1:21 describes those that have given themselves over to sin, “because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful.”
How many times are the words,"thank you" said in your home? If gratitude isn’t a feature of your relationship with God and if "thank you" isn’t often heard in your home, then your home isn’t fireproof!
The sinful generation is marked not only by being ungrateful, but UNBELIEVING as seen in verses 17-33. Look at this:
"But they continued to sin against Him, rebelling in the desert against the Most High. They deliberately tested God, demanding the food they craved. They spoke against God, saying, 'Is God able to provide food in the wilderness? Look! He struck the rock and water gushed out; torrents overflowed. But can He also provide bread or furnish meat for His people?" Therefore, the Lord heard and became furious; then fire broke out against Jacob, and anger flared up against Israel because they did not believe God or rely on His salvation. (Psalm 78:17-22 HCSB)
God delivered the Jews from Egyptian slavery by miraculous deeds. He opened up a highway through the Red Sea to bring them out. When they were thirsty, He gave them water from the rock. He fed them bread from heaven. Yet, every time they faced adversity, they would wring their hands and whine in despair. They doubted the ability and veracity of God to keep His Word—and that is a horrible sin! It would shut them out of the Promised Land.
The sin of unbelief is all that will shut us out of heaven. Yet, I have heard some parents say the stupidest thing, “I’m not going to force religion on my child. You know my parents made me go to church, and I’m not going to do that to my kid.” In most cases, one with that attitude, is sentencing their children to hell. The world will gladly indoctrinate your children if you don’t! Now, a few may find Christ despite this parental folly and some will rebel against parents who are faithful, to be sure, but most come to faith through the witness of their parents.
The only way of salvation is by faith in Christ, and that faith comes from the Word of God. So, God's people are clearly commanded:
"things we have heard and known and that our fathers have passed down to us. We must not hide them from their children, but must tell a future generation the praises of the Lord, His might, and the wonderful works He has performed. He established a testimony in Jacob and set up a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers to teach to their children so that a future generation--children yet to be born--might know. They were to rise and tell their children so that they might put their confidence in God
and not forget God's works, but keep His commands." (Psalm 78:3-7 HCSB)
And--it's more than just taking them to church--important as that is. All our church ministries cannot compensate for failure to teach children at home. We have them such brief time. They need your daily education as parents.
They need more. This is wasted work if not coupled with your devoted example as parents. Kids can smell hypocrisy a mile away. When they see that church is “small potatoes” but sports, or job, or whatever, is a “big deal” to parents, then why should they take faith seriously?
I smell smoke--and where there's smoke, there's fire!
Paul told us the shield of faith would extinguish every flaming arrow the enemy launches. But without that shield of faith, our home will burn to the ground!
The sinful generation is ungrateful, unbelieving and UNREPENTANT (v.34-55). Consider this:
"But they deceived Him with their mouths, they lied to Him with their tongues, their hearts were insincere toward Him, and they were unfaithful to His covenant.
Yet He was compassionate; He atoned for [their] guilt and did not destroy [them]. He often turned His anger aside and did not unleash all His wrath. He remembered that they were [only] flesh, a wind that passes and does not return.
How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness and grieved Him in the desert. They constantly tested God and provoked the Holy One of Israel." (Psalm 78:36-41 HCSB)
They would say the right thing, but it was all a show. When they got in trouble, they would promise God anything, and as soon as the pressure was off, they were back to their old ways. Nothing burns me up much worse than when you get on a kid for doing something wrong and they say, “Sorrrry!” It infuriates God too. It’s the attitude, “What’s the big deal?” That, my friend, is not repentance.
Do you suppose that God, upset with Israel’s façade of confession, will treat us differently? Jesus warned, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Repentance means we turn from sin and turn to God sincerely. It’s going to take a miracle to save your family. It will require the power of God. But I am convinced that no matter how spiritually toxic the culture may be, God can bring us, and our loved ones safely through.
But not if we don’t take our faith seriously. If it isn't the core of all we do--if it’s just one of the things we do—nice, but not a priority—then God cannot do for us what He wants to do. Did you hear me? I said, God cannot. Look at the chilling words, "They constantly tested God and provoked the Holy One of Israel." (Psalm 78:41 HCSB) They provoked God! They tested God! The Hebrew term means, “draw a line.” We say to God, I’ll give you this much and no more. We say to God, "You have to draw the line somewhere! You can't expect me to surrender everything!" Do we think we are equals who can negotiate terms with the Holy One? Did Jesus negotiate with the rich young ruler when he turned and walked away? Read Matthew 19:16-30.
The sinful generation is one that is ungrateful, unbelieving, unrepentant and UNFAITHFUL (v.56-72). For example:
"They constantly tested God and provoked the Holy One of Israel. But they rebelliously tested the Most High God, for they did not keep His decrees. They treacherously turned away like their fathers; they became warped like a faulty bow. They enraged Him with their high places and provoked His jealousy with their carved images.
God heard and became furious; He completely rejected Israel. He abandoned the tabernacle at Shiloh, the tent where He resided among men. He gave up His strength to captivity and His splendor to the hand of a foe. He surrendered His people to the sword because He was enraged with His heritage. Fire consumed His chosen young men, and His young women had no wedding songs. His priests fell by the sword, but the widows could not lament." (Psalm 78:41, 56-64 HCSB)
They abandoned their love for the Lord and went whoring after other gods—spiritual adulterers. Unfaithfulness to our marriage vows will burn a home down, but that is rooted in unfaithfulness to God. The marriage covenant is made before God. It is a sacred vow to Him--not just to our spouse. Infidelity to our mate springs from idolatry in our heart!
I smell smoke and where there’s smoke there’s fire. If we are not faithful to God as parents to do what He has called us to do, then what hope is there for the generations to come?
When Hitler came to the realization in his demonic, demented mind, that he could not win, he commanded a "scorched earth" policy. He would burn down everything before the Allied armies could take it as the spoils of war. Hitler got the idea from his master, the Devil. Satan's rage has led him to do the same. He well knows he cannot win. So, he will seek to burn down every home and tear down every church and pull down every soul that he can.
There were those, thankfully, that refused to take orders from Hitler. We must do all we can to save all we can in the midst of this ultimate world war ignited by hell.
I think, for instance, of Satan's strategy to turn America into another Sodom. If he succeeds, then the fire of God's wrath will consume us as it did them. As a church, we must seek to douse those flames with a loving witness and firm stand for truth--that marriage is one man, one woman united in marriage for life. Currently, we are seeking to preserve this truth by working to pass a Constitutional Amendment in North Carolina codifying this. If it fails, the fault will not be the liberals and libertines, but the church people who didn't stand up and speak up. What kind of world are we leaving for our children?
Are you just going to sit there? I smell smoke!