Jump Start # 1931
Acts 13:36 “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his father, and underwent decay.”
Recently, I have been reading the history of Washington County, Indiana. It’s a book that was first written in the 1880’s. My interest is in early church history, especially those connected to the restoration movement. That county isn’t far from where I live and I’ve done a bit of preaching there and know a lot of people from there. I find the stories about the early days of hunting bears and dealings with Indians to be most fascinating. Last night, I read about a pioneer that shot a bear out of a tree. The bear then put both paws on the man’s shoulders and started shaking him. The man was saved by his dogs who irritated the bear so much that it left. Fascinating.
I thought about that pioneer and his world and how different it was from my world. Surviving was most important for that early settler. Surviving weather, Indians and wild animals. He never thought about retirement savings, as I do. The thought of assisted living insurance never crossed his mind. It does mine. Clearing some trees so he could plant some corn was important to that pioneer. He worked hard. Life was hard. Accidents, disease, and attacks from wild animals and Indians kept many from living very long. One story I read took place at a wedding. The groom wasn’t there. Word came that he had been bitten by a rattlesnake and died. The wedding party got up and went to his funeral. Unbelievable.
While our worlds are so different, some things remain the same. Some things have never changed.
Worry remains the same. I don’t think about Indians. The last time I thought about any Indian was when I went to a ballgame this summer in Cleveland. Those early pioneers worried about weather, surviving and getting through the winter. Our worries are about our kids getting through college, having enough to retire on and driving in traffic. Worry is the same. Whether we are worrying about bears or bear markets, worry can steal our faith, blind us to the blessings of God and rob us of both health and sleep. Worry is the same.
God remains the same. I read in that book about an epidemic of cholera. Many died. I can only imagine the prayers of those parents in a log cabin as they looked over their sick child. Helpless. Hopeless. The end of dreams. And yet, here we are, all these years later. Instead of a log cabin, we are in a hospital room. Instead of cholera, it’s cancer. And there God remains hearing our prayers. Hope in troubled times is always found in God. When no one can do any more, God can. There sure has been many wars since those early pioneer days of young Indiana. There has been civil wars and world wars. Parents have sent their sons to far off places to defend our freedoms. Many never returned. There has been hurricanes and fires and tornados and floods. There has been trips to the cemeteries and broken hearts. Yet God remains on the throne. Our houses are larger and more comfortable than those early log cabins. We can do more today and faster than those early pioneers. Yet, we still need God. We have not out grown God. We have not conquered sin. We have not found any other way to Heaven, but through Jesus. We still fuss and fight with each other. We struggle to forgive. We suffer when we have not developed a heart like Jesus. What that early pioneer needed is the same thing that I need, and that is Jesus.
Our work remains the same. We are to walk by faith. We are to trust in the Lord. We are to build congregations. We are to preach and teach. For those early pioneers, sitting on log pews, they were amazed with the stories of the Savior who healed lepers and made the blind to see. They learned about forgiveness and grace. They saw what God expected in worship. And, today, with our Bibles on our phones and tablets, we continue to read and learn about that wonderful Savior. The words of salvation remain the same. It brought forgiveness and hope in that wooded Indiana wilderness as it does in our modern cities today. Generations pass, but the same Gospel needs to be taught.
We are the same. That pioneer that fought the bear was probably much stronger and tougher than I am. I probably couldn’t put up with the things he ate. He wouldn’t like what I eat. But, we are the same on the inside. We must make choices that will either lead us to Heaven or away from God. We are both sinners who need Jesus. We both need to be leaders in our homes. We both will be judged by God someday.
Our verse today sums all of this up. It’s about King David. He served the purpose of God in his own generation. That’s the good that we do. Our work is now. Our work is among this generation. As primitive as the bear hunter seems to us, we will appear like that to future generations. Those future generations will still have worry. They will still have God. They will still have the same work to do that we’ve done. They may do it faster and better, but preaching and teaching will remain.
But what happens when a generation doesn’t serve the purpose of God? A generation grows without knowing the Lord. Wrong choices are made. Life gets messy. Lives are lost eternally. All it takes is for one generation to stop and future generations are hindered and affected. The book of Judges shows this. After Joshua died, another generation rose that didn’t not know the Lord. Their choices led them away from God. Each generation must do it’s work. This means we need to pour hours into training, teaching and developing those behind us. We will pass the baton on to them. It is essential that they understand and that they know. So, fellow preacher, we must continue to preach the basics. A new people needs to know. We need to spend time showing how things should be done. We need to take the time to answer their questions. Serving our generation is what we must be busy doing.
We don’t need monuments to honor us. Our treasures are stored up in Heaven.
David served. He served the purpose of God. He served the purpose of God in his own generation. Powerful thoughts for us. This is what we must be busy doing. It was true in the wilderness of early Indiana as is it today for us.