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That They Might Set Their Hope in God

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That They May set Their Hope in God


“He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Psalm 78:5-7).


I shared a message this past Sunday, on Father’s Day, from this passage of Scripture. And what a powerful, helpful, visionary passage it is!


Here we are reminded of four vital elements to faithful, successful, God-centered parenting:


1) A Multi-Generational Vision:

At least five generations are specifically mentioned here.


Fathers, think about that next time you’re disciplining your child, or explaining a decision to them, or choosing between hobby time and parenting time. What do you want to be passed to your child as he or she grows up, makes decisions, sets priorities, gets married and teaches their children?


How can you make what really matters in life stick — make such an impression — that it’s passed down generations? Here’s a hint: sacrificial, clearly-above-all dedication!


This can be true for poor choices and priorities, even for hobbies: “Dad wouldn’t miss Monday night football for anythng”


Or, as the psalmist reminds us here, it can be true of God and his works and his Word. My grandfather on my mother’s side, who passed away before I was born, showed such determination — although traveling for work five days out of the week — to make it to the house of God on Sunday, that my mother told me about it growing up, and now I am telling my children about it (four generations!).


But perhaps you didn’t inherit a Christian witness from parents or grandparents? Then you begin now! Make this the generation that is fundamentally different, the branch of the family tree that strikes out strikingly heavenward! We are never condemned to follow in failing footprints of past generation.


That’s actually the point of this Psalm. Verse 8 says all this teaching of childen is to be done so that they “might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.” You be meek and obedient, you calibrate your heart to God, you steadfastly walk with and stand for God -– no matter what example you had from your parents.


2) A Gospel-Centered Goal:

“…that they might set their hope in God.”


The force of the gospel is to put your hope in God, not in yourself or in others. The gospel says you can’t do it, you can’t succeed, you can’t save yourself… but Jesus did for you! Is that the force, the effect of your parenting? Whether you are complimenting for a job well done, or disciplining because of disobedience, do you point them to Christ as their only salvation?


Our words and actions and decisions ought to point our children to Jesus continually.


In other words, our goal in everything we do and say and example as parents should be the same as John in writing his gospel: “[this is] written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (20:31).


Our goal as parents ought to be the same as Paul, in spending time with the church at Philippi: “[I will] abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; that your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again” (Philippians 1:25-26).


Fathers, think about that, make that your goal, the next time you walk in the door from work! “May my coming to you again further your joy of faith, make my family’s rejoicing in Jesus Christ be more abundant.”


It is only with this gospel-centered goal and mindset that we then can point our children to what follows:


3) A Deliberate Awareness:

Isn’t it interesting how often the Bible exhorts us to remember, or not to forget?


It seems we have an amazing capacity to lose focus, to wander from major objectives, to be heedless or careless concerning past blessings and lessons from God.


But here the Psalmist says, “Don’t forget!”


Don’t forget the works of God for you, in Jesus, and don’t forget the works that Christ in turn now commands of you as his disciple.


We see this deliberate awareness in verse 4, immediately preceding our text: “We will not hide them from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.” Are you deliberately, openly showing God’s praise and strength and wonderful works to your children and those around you?


4) A Persistent Obedience:

“…and keep his commandments.”


True obedience must flow out of receiving the gospel and not forgetting God’s work. Notice the order of this passage, or rather what the order is NOT: it doesn’t say obey, remember, then hope. We do not obey God first, then remember our works, and then have hope in God. No, we trust in God, and remember God’s works and Word, and then find the right and lasting motivation to persistently obey.


As you trust the gospel and teach your children to rejoice in the grace of Jesus, the faithfulness and grace of God — genuinely received and considered — fosters a persistent obedience to the marvelous One who gave himself for us!


If we believe Jesus persisted through the humiliation of his life and the pain his death for us, and we are deliberately remembering Jesus’ grace to us, it will lead to an obedience that refuses to give up, to be distracted, to settle down into a life that is merely moral.


An apprehension and appreciation of God’s grace will lead to a persistent obedience. To a grace-grounded, gospel-proclaiming life for the fame of our wonderful Savior Jesus.


May you trust in God yourself, and then lead your children for generations to come to walk in the awareness of God’s marvelous work in Jesus Christ.


By Justin Huffman of Baptist Bible Hour