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Our Legacy

DSC_3703_2Dear Comfort Cafe Friends,

In this short Bible Study series we are looking at what it means to love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. The lessons are running monthly through July 2014 and focus on “Looking Inward,” (relating to and loving God), and “Looking Outward,” (relating to and loving our neighbor). In this series, the entire lesson each month is presented here on the front page. We hope you will join us in applying knowledge of God’s character to deeper levels of life. Previous lessons from 2014 remain available under the Table of Contents and Archive page.

©2013 Kay Smith and Ruth Wood. All rights reserved. Used by permission. User Permission Notice: This study may not be sold or used for profit. However, copies may be made for personal use. Questions? Contact: ruthywood@gmail.com.

legacy

Looking Outward

By Ruth Wood

“My times are in your hands . . .” (Psalm 31:15a)

As an introduction to this lesson, listen to Dust in the Wind, by Kansas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tH2w6Oxx0kQ

I close my eyes, only for a moment, and the moment’s gone
All my dreams, pass before my eyes, a curiosity
Dust in the wind, all they are is dust in the wind

Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do, crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see
Dust in the wind, All we are is dust in the wind

Don’t hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away, all your money won’t another minute buy
Dust in the wind, All we are is dust in the wind

Since nothing lasts and everything slips away, we need to “set our hearts on things above” (Colossians 3:1). How then do we relate to our work, the way we spend our time, or our money and possessions? Here are some thoughts:

  • Remember that “we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (I Timothy 6:7).
  • “Let temporal things serve your use, but the eternal be the object of your desire.” (Thomas’a Kempis)
  • “Judge all things only by the price they shall gain in eternity.” (John Wesley)
  • “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
  • “You can’t take it with you…but you can send it on ahead.” (Randy Alcorn)
  • “He who spends his life moving away from his treasures has reason to despair. He who spends his life moving toward his treasures has reason to rejoice.” (Randy Alcorn)

What really matters? As the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 5:6, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love,” and that usually involves people.

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Diving In

1. The Declaration of Independence reflects a high view of man. It states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These concepts sprang from the authors’ Christian world view and scriptures such as the following:

He has also set eternity in the human heart . . . (Ecclesiastes 3:11b).

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,]and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Genesis 1:26-28).

C.S. Lewis said, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

How am I to view every fellow human being I encounter? When might I find this view difficult to remember?

2. As individualistic Westerners we don’t think a lot about our ancestors nor do we emphasize the heritage of children as much as many other cultures. However, our connection to one another on the time line of history is probably much stronger than we could imagine. Consider God’s perspective:

“I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:5b-6

How many generations will God punish sin? How many generations will God bless those who love Him?

3. What might be a negative generational legacy you want to change for your children’s and grandchildren’s sake? (e.g. miserliness, self-righteousness, anger, laziness, a critical spirit, worry, need to control, bitterness, unforgiveness, addictions.) Consider making a commitment to change with a prayer such as the following:

Prayer: Lord, “do not hold against [our family] the sins of past generations; may your mercy come quickly to meet us . . .” (Psalm 79:8). I confess and renounce the generational sin(s) of ___________________________________________________ and cut them off in Jesus’ name. I pray for protection and freedom for all affected family members. I hereby take responsibility for any participation on my part in these sins. Thank you that your shed blood washes away all unrighteousness. On behalf of myself and for the eternal good of my family, I commit to the necessary hard work to change myself, in the Spirit’s power, so that I may walk in obedience, setting a godly example. Let revival begin with me. Thank you, my Lord and my God, that “the Spirit of life…[sets us] free in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:2). In Jesus’ powerful name, amen.

4. Some of us have more knowledge of our lineage than others such as New Englanders who can often trace their genealogy back to the Mayflower. Reflect on the knowledge you have of your ancestors, great grandparents on down to your parents. In your lineage, who exhibited godly influence? How have you benefited? (Include step parents and step grandparents as they are grafted into your line.)

5. Who else has exerted godly influence in your life? Think aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, friends, pastors, or mentors. To whom are you indebted and grateful? You might even be inspired to make a phone call or drop someone a note of thanks this week!

6. Dillon Burroughs writes, “The actions you take today not only impact you; they influence generations. Every matter matters for eternity.” We must not dismiss what appears insignificant such as praying faithfully for someone or bringing meals to a cancer-stricken friend. So often we assume our “small lives” don’t matter, but at work, church, in our neighborhood, in our friend and family circles we touch people, often without even knowing it. Who is currently in the realm of your influence?

7. Based on the following scripture passages, what is our responsibility to pass on to the next generation?

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. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)

3Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
4 One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
5 They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.[b]
6 They tell of the power of your awesome works—
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
7 They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness. Psalm 145:3-7

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations (Psalm 89:1).

8. As we invest into people’s lives, we are sowing.

  • Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you (Hosea 10:12).
  • A wicked person earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward (Proverbs 11:18).
  • A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life (Galatians 6:7b-8).
  • Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well (Ecclesiastes 11:6).
  • Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously (II Corinthians 9:6).
  • Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy (Psalm 126:5)

From the above verses, what have you learned about sowing?

9. As we learn to live in the present according to eternal priorities, what does scripture say about reward?

  • And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life (Matthew 19:29).
  • I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings (Luke 16:9).
  • Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (Galatians 6:9-10).
  • See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him (Isaiah 40:10).

10.  Isaiah 49:4 says, “But I said, ‘I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.’”

And I Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Based on these verses, what is a healthy perspective when we get discouraged?

When we are consciously aware of being used as broken bread and poured-out wine, we have yet another level to reach— a level where all awareness of ourselves and of what God is doing through us is completely eliminated. A saint is never consciously a saint— a saint is consciously dependent on God.  ~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest

Summary Reflection:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength . . . [and] love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31)

In light of this study’s scripture theme, prayerfully review the last three lessons. Then record the highlights of what you learned about loving and relating to God, yourself, and others. What beliefs have changed? What behaviors have changed or might you plan to change?

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