I Still Remember
I grew up in a home with two non-Christian parents. My grandparents were faithful to the Lord and helped me to learn more about Him. I obeyed the Gospel when I was young and with the help and encouragement of my grandparents I have tried to remain faithful. I cannot begin to tell you how hard it was to see my mom and dad Sunday after Sunday not serving God. A lot of times I was compelled to quit with them and forget my relationship with the Lord. When I got older, I made mistakes and sometimes drifted, but I always remembered that teaching I got from my grandparents. But what if I hadn't gotten that teaching???
I would like to share with you a situation that happened to me as a minister a couple of years ago that will hopefully encourage all of our parents here, and our future parents one day, to teach our children about the Lord. One day a man called me on my cell phone. He was a Christian that had attended services and Bible classes when he was a child. He became a Christian as a teenager and was eager to serve the Lord and grow closer to him. But, sadly, soon that enthusiasm waned. As he grew older as a young adult, the pleasures of this world enticed him and, as Demas, he forsook the Lord because he loved the present world (2 Tim, 4:10). He told me on the phone that, as the years went by and he got into his 50's, his father, now in a wheelchair, wanted to continue serving the Lord so he called him and asked his son to take him to church services. The son was hesitant, but took his dad anyway. He sat with him in the pew, and, at each service, he grew more interested in what was going on, and more comfortable with his surroundings, but more uncomfortable with himself. He finally realized he needed to come back to the Lord.
He now attended services with joy. He read his Bible daily. He started telling everyone about what he had done, how it had made him feel and how they could have that same joy and peace that he was experiencing. He told his son what had happened and invited him to come to services. But the son would have nothing to do with it. He had his own life now. He had the responsibilities of job and family, and he had no interest in spiritual things. His father was heartbroken. He repeatedly tried to get his son interested in serving God, but it didn't work. Finally, his son let him know very plainly that he did not want to discuss the matter again. So that is why his father called me. His son lived in the same small town that I was preaching in, and he thought, maybe, I might be able to do what he could not get his son to: listen to his need for the gospel and Christ.
I was excited to get the son's number, and I contacted him several times and tried to help him the best I could. But I knew in my heart that the years when his son could have been easily touched by the gospel were past. Proverbs 19:18 says, "Discipline your son while there is hope." When he was under his father's control, his father neglected to teach him the ways of the Lord and set a bad example before him. Yes, the gospel still has its power to convert, but not in a heart that is hardened to it or in a person who sees no need for it. Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it." Teaching needs to be done while children are young.
Parents, and future parents, please remember what you are doing. When we neglect serving the Lord, we are influencing our children. They will wonder why mommy and daddy or mom and dad don't go to church. They will wonder why you don't read your Bible or have prayers with them. It will scar them for life. I know because the memories and lack of instruction are still with me. Let us live up to our God-given duty and properly train our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Let us say today that this story will not be repeated in our own lives!!!
"Just Go In the Temple and Hide"
Nehemiah was in the process of rebuilding the walls of the temple (Nehemiah 6); in fact, he had it all done except for the doors being put on the gates. The enemies of Israel were not happy. They were actually plotting ways to delay or possibly attack Nehemiah and stop the work. They tried "friendly" meetings (6:1-4) and slander against Nehemiah (6:5-9). But I think the third way they tried to stop the work being done was the most interesting.
A secret informer was sent to Nehemiah in chapter 6:10-14; "Afterward I came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was a secret informer; and he said, 'Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed, at night they will come to kill you.'" The informer tried to persuade Nehemiah to go into the temple and hide because there were those trying to take his life. Can you imagine how tempting this would have been for Nehemiah? However, Nehemiah knew that only priests were allowed in the temple, and this would have violated God's word. In 2 Chronicles 26, King Uzziah - who was not a priest - went into the temple, and God instantly struck him with leprosy.
I believe there are two very good lessons in this story to be learned when we consider God's word today.
1. We can never compromise God's word because of fear.
Shemaiah tried to create fear in Nehemiah and tried to get him to disobey God based on this fear. Religion that compromises avoid persecution, which is exactly what Jesus said we would endure if we are faithful (Matthew 5:10). Being a true follower of God means we must decide whom we belong to in our heart and be ready to give an answer of the hope within us with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15).
We cannot compromise. “He seeks to persuade Nehemiah into an easy-going, compromising religion that will shirk persecution, that will carry no cross, and that is governed by fear of the opinions of other people (Redpath).”
Do we compromise or carry our cross? Jesus was also offered a way out of the cross from the devil - just worship him, and all the kingdoms of the world would be delivered to Him. Jesus would have none of it. Never compromise!!!
2. Religious talk can be deceptive. If Nehemiah believed Shemaiah’s religious talk, he would sin and give others something to find fault with and discredit him with. It was wrong to go in the temple… period. I hear things today like "that's your interpretation", or "that's the wrong hermeneutic", but the truth is, if God said it, then it came from Him; thus we must follow it (1 Peter 1:20-21, 2 Tim 3:16-17). We can call it whatever we want, but only God's word has the power of salvation (Rom 1:16). I also hear things like "God's grace will cover that" in reference to a sin. God's word teaches us that grace will not continue if we continue to sin (Romans 6:1). The fact is sin is transgression, and by the blood of Jesus we will be forgiven if as Christians we repent and make confession (1 Jn 1:9-10). We must be careful that we do not follow false religion or religious talk, (Matthew 7) and that we follow the teachers of God's word. According to Jesus’ own words, our love for Him is defined by our willingness to obey His teaching (John 14:15-23). And His teaching did not end with His death on the cross. After His death, the Spirit would return (John 14:15-23) and continue to reveal and teach God’s Truth through the apostles (John 16:12-14, 17:6-17).
Let us always see the importance of teaching only what Jesus Himself taught, whether in Person, or in the Spirit through His hand-picked apostles. (2nd Peter 1:3-12, Jude 3).