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Sermon: “The Ultimate Legacy”January 15, 2017
Today we want to continue talking about leaving our legacies. Will we be perpetuating a legacy rich towards God or will it be one that does not include God? Remember it has to be one or the other as it can’t be one that is sort of about God. As we saw, one way or the other we will be leaving a legacy so why not leave one that is the ultimate legacy. So what would the ultimate legacy look like? The simple answer is it would look like Jesus. If we did what we were told, then we together with other Christians make up the church all doing what we are supposed to do. 2 Peter 3:11 “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” Yes it makes a difference how we live. What we would be doing would look exactly what Jesus commanded his disciples to do. Then these new disciples would go on doing the same thing. All this is being done in the power of the Holy Spirit.
We have seen many times that the church is not at this point nor does it look like the gospels. Sadly the similarity to the Old Testament is overwhelming. The requirements for obedience have not changed. Deuteronomy 6:3 “Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.” 4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Matthew 22:37 “Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the legacy we want to hand down to our children. It really is all about obedience. Deuteronomy 32:46 “he said to them, “Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law.” When we leave our children a legacy this would be it; Command them to obey God with everything they have then that would be the ultimate legacy to hand down.
But the ultimate legacy does not stop with obedience. We must fear God. 1 Samuel 12:23 “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. 24 But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 25 Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.” Deuteronomy 10:12 [ Fear the Lord ] “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?” Proverbs 2:1 “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding— 3 indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.” Understanding fear is in our obedience. This is so important as Jesus said when talking about making disciples that we need to teach them to obey. 2 Chronicles 26:5 “He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success.” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. That is the ultimate legacy.
In the book of Ecclesiastes 12:8 we see this verse at the end of the book. “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Everything is meaningless!” After much thought and discussion, that's the conclusion? What a way to end the book but it doesn’t end there. How would that be for a legacy if it did stop there? Not so good. But he didn’t end there. He sums everything up by saying this. Ecclesiastes 12:9 “Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true. 11 The words of the wise are like goads (spur one on), their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.” Hebrews 10:22 “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” So after much pondering what is the conclusion of this matter of legacy? What would the ultimate legacy look like summarized?
The writer then states his conclusion in Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” Hebrews told us of the big day. Peter asked, “what kind of people ought you to be?” This changes how we live. Fearing God and obeying him means we live for Jesus. Living this way takes away our fear. We address God like this Nehemiah 1:5 ”Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments.”
2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” If we want to be stronger then we must fully commit to our lives to God. This means we are committed to a life of obedience. Malachi 3:16 [ The Faithful Remnant ] Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.” We want to be part of the faithful remnant. Yes, we can sign our names to a piece of paper but it is much more than that it is actually living for God in all we do.
Living this way leaves a legacy of fearlessness. David said Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? Isaiah 41:8 “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, 9 I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. 10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 11 “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. 12 Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. 13 For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. 14 Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob, little Israel, do not fear, for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.”
So what happens if we don’t leave this kind of legacy? What happens if we don’t fear and obey? What if we refuse to obey the whole counsel of God? Here is an example from Jeremiah 42:1 “Then all the army officers and all the people from the least to the greatest approached 2 Jeremiah the prophet and said to him, “Please hear our petition and pray to the Lord your God for this entire remnant. For as you now see, though we were once many, now only a few are left. 3 Pray that the Lord your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do.” 4 “I have heard you,” replied Jeremiah the prophet. “I will certainly pray to the Lord your God as you have requested; I will tell you everything the Lord says and will keep nothing back from you. 5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with everything the Lord your God sends you to tell us. 6 Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we are sending you, so that it will go well with us, for we will obey the Lord our God.” That sounds good on their part but did they do what they were told. Ten days later Jeremiah told them exactly what they were to do and then he said 19 “Remnant of Judah, the Lord has told you, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Be sure of this: I warn you today 20 that you made a fatal mistake when you sent me to the Lord your God and said, ‘Pray to the Lord our God for us; tell us everything he says and we will do it.’ 21 I have told you today, but you still have not obeyed the Lord your God in all he sent me to tell you. 22 So now, be sure of this: You will die by the sword, famine and plague in the place where you want to go to settle.”
The same applies to us today. In order to live in complete fearlessness we must live in complete obedience. Fear in God leads to fearlessness. Fearing God also leads to complete obedience. Saul was told to obey but he didn’t. Samuel said to him, 1 Samuel 15:22 “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” So sure we think we are obeying because we go to church and are doing what we think is pleasing to the Lord but it had better be what God asks us to. Saul did not obey the commands of the Lord and lost the kingdom to one better than him. Deuteronomy 5:33 “Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” Deuteronomy 26:16 “The Lord your God commands you this day to follow these decrees and laws; carefully observe them with all your heart and with all your soul. 17 You have declared this day that the Lord is your God and that you will walk in obedience to him, that you will keep his decrees, commands and laws—that you will listen to him. 18 And the Lord has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised, and that you are to keep all his commands. 19 He has declared that he will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations he has made and that you will be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised.” He then goes to show the blessings for the obedience and the curses for disobedience. Deuteronomy 28:1 [ Blessings for Obedience ] “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.”9 The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him. “If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. 14 Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.” Deuteronomy 30:19 “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
In order for us to live a life pleasing to the Lord and to leave the ultimate legacy, we must heed the advice of David to Solomon.1 Kings 2:1 (David’s Charge to Solomon) “1 When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son. 2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, 3 and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go 4 and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.”
Our legacy also will be one of returning to the Lord because we fear him. We live in a time where many Christians have turned away from the way and have followed cleverly devised schemes, doctrines of demons and empty ways handed down from our forefathers. Because of this, like Israel the enemy has taken us captive. 1 Chronicles 9:1 “They were taken captive to Babylon because of their unfaithfulness.” 2 Kings 17:7 “All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God, 14 But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God. 40 They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. 41 Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.” The good news is that God will always reserve a remnant of the faithful. 1 Chronicles 9:2 “Now the first to resettle on their own property in their own towns were some Israelites, priests, Levites and temple servants.” Not only do we want to be part of those returning, we want our legacy to read like this.
2 Kings 23:25 “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.” As we wait to be clothed with power, our job is simply to return to the Lord with everything we have. I am pretty sure we want it said that they did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as his father David had done not that they 1 Kings 16:25 “did evil in the eyes of the Lord and sinned more than all those before him. 26 He followed completely the ways of Jeroboam”
So I leave you with this passage from Peter. 2 Peter 1:10 “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. 19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”