Psalm 78 -
Listen dear friends to God’s truth, bend your ears to what I tell you. I’m chewing on the morsel of a proverb; I’ll let you in on the sweet old truths, stories we heard from out fathers, counsel we learned at our mother’s knee. We’re not keeping this to ourselves, we’re passing it along to the next generation-- God’s fame and fortune, the marvelous things he has done.
He planted a witness in Jacob, set his Word firmly in Israel, then commanded our parents to teach it to their children so the next generation would know, and all the generations to come--know the truth and tell the stories so their children can trust in God, never forget the works of God but keep his commands to the letter.
Heaven forbid they should be like their parents, bullheaded and bad, a fickle and faithless bunch who never stayed true to God. ...All they did was sin even more...They tried to get their own way with God...they whined like spoiled children...it is clear they didn’t believe God, had no intention of trusting in his help.
But God helped them anyway...he handed them everything they craved on a platter. But their greed knew no bounds. They stuffed their mouths with more and more. Finally, God was fed up, his anger erupted--he cut down their brightest and best, he laid low Israel’s finest young men.
And -- can you believe it?-- they kept right on sinning: all those wonders and they sill wouldn’t believe! So their lives dribbled off to nothing--nothing to show for their lives but a ghost town. When he cut them down, they came running for help; they turned and pled for mercy. They gave witness that God was their rock. that High God was their redeemer, but they didn’t mean a word of it: they lied through their teeth the whole time. They couldn’t have cared less about him, wanted nothing to do with the Covenant.
And God? Compassionate! Forgave the sin! Didn’t destroy! Over and over he reined in his anger, restrained his considerable wrath...How quickly they forgot what he’d done...they kept giving him a hard time... until he let his pride and joy go to the dogs, turned his back on the pride of his life...
He disqualified Joseph as leader, told Ephraim he didn’t have what it takes, and chose the tribe of Judah instead...then he chose David, his servant...One day he was caring for the ewes and their lambs, the next day God had him shepherding Jacob, his people Israel, his prize possession. His good heart made him a good shepherd: he guided the people wisely and well.
2 Timothy 4 -
I can’t impress on you too strongly, God is looking over your shoulder..so proclaim the Message with intensity, keep on your watch. Challenge, warn and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple.
You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food--catchy opinions that tickle their fancy...
But you, keep your eye on what you’re doing: accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant...This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way...
At my preliminary hearing no one stood by me. They all ran like scared rabbits. But it doesn’t matter--the Master stood by me and helped me spread the message loud and clear to those who had never heard it.