Blog Detail

Tell

Tell


There is a quote from film maker George Lucas that will begin today’s message. 


George Lucas is best-known for directing and/or writing American Graffiti and the Indiana Jones and Star Wars movies. Here is the quote. It is his answer to the question how he wants to be remembered. 


Lucas said, “I will be remembered as a filmmaker. Hopefully some of the stories I told will still be relevant. If you have raised children, you know you have to explain things to them, and if you do not, they end up learning the hard way, so the old stories have to be reiterated again in a form that is acceptable to each new generation. I do not think I am ever going to go much beyond the old stories, because I think they still need to be told.”


Apparently George Lucas’ plan is working. He remains one of the biggest names in the movie world. But you know what? His plan is important, not only in general, but specifically to our faith as well. In fact, that is exactly what is taught in Psalm 78. What is taught is that God’s story - tales of His mighty works - needs to be told and retold and retold again, over and over and over. Why? So that neither we nor generations younger than us will be able to forget all God has done.


Let’s look at Psalm 78 today. A Psalm that begins by giving instructions to tell about God. A Psalm that includes examples of what can be told about God.


Psalm 78. “A maskil of Asaph.” Asaph was a man important in the performance of psalms. It is thought he might have been the author of some of them, including Psalm 78. A maskil is a psalm that gives instructions. In this case, instructions about the importance of telling others, including children, about God.


Psalm 78, a maskil of Asaph, begins with the words, “Give ear, O my people, to my teaching.” God Himself said that very same thing many times, so in essence, Asaph was simply challenging the people the same way God did and does challenge. The challenge in this case was and is to tell others about God.


“Give ear to my teaching. Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.” That refers to taking action to hear. It is not just idle listening because there might not be anything else to listen to. It means to position yourself to receive what Asaph was about to say.


What was he about to say? He was going to “utter dark sayings from of old.” Dark sayings, not as in foreboding, ominous things, but sayings that might be difficult to understand. Notice the word is difficult, not impossible, but sayings we need to think about and pray about so we can understand them and see how they can and should apply to us.


And notice they are not new sayings. They are sayings of old. Sayings told before, from the beginning of God’s people through the time of Asaph.


Then verse 4. “We will not hide them from children.” The gist is that we should not hide them from our children. Instead, we are to tell the coming generation “the glorious deeds of the LORD, and His might, and the wonders which He has wrought.”


That again is not new. Way back in the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy, for instance, instruction was given for parents to tell their children about God. Remember what is recorded in Deuteronomy 6? “You shall teach your children diligently about God and His word. You shall talk of His teachings when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise. You shall bind His words as a sign upon your hand and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”


Telling others, including children, about God is an important teaching in the Bible, but Psalm 78 gives reasons to tell.


First, verse 6. So “the next generation might know” God’s wonder. But it is to go beyond that. The goal is that the next generation will “rise and tell their children” about God. 


On and on it is to go so that - verse 7 - “they should set their hope in God, not forgetting His works, but keeping His commandments.”


Verse 8 is interesting. Teaching about God is to happen so coming generations will “not be like their fathers.” Not fathers in general, but what their fathers did spiritually. Their fathers were “stubborn, rebellious generations. Generations whose hearts were “not steadfast,” whose spirits were “not faithful to God.”


We are to tell others about God. Others we are to tell include children. The goal is for the next generation and the ones after that and on into the future to learn about God so well - to be so thrilled to know what He did - they will be drawn to Him, setting their hope in Him.


We are to tell others about God. So, what are some of the things we can tell? The rest of Psalm 78 lists many things God did. Let’s review what is in the Psalm. Let’s remember these are things we can tell, even today.


The first thing in historical order mentioned in Psalm 78 centers on what God did in Egypt as the people of God neared the end of their time of slavery in that nation.


The people had been enslaved for a few centuries. Many times they had called on God for release. Why God did not answer immediately, I do not know, but in God’s timing, He did answer.


Even then God’s answer did not come instantly. He began with a series of plagues inflicted on the leader of Egypt and the people over whom the leader ruled.


Remember the plagues? Water was turned to blood. Frogs swarmed over the land and got into people’s houses. Swarms of gnats and then flies infested the nation. Many cattle died. The cattle of the Egyptians. The cattle of the people of God were spared. Boils broke out on Egyptians. There was hail on Egyptian land. Egyptian crops not destroyed by hail were destroyed by locusts. Darkness overtook the land for a time. The whole land except where God’s people lived. Finally, the first born of every Egyptian person and the first born of all Egyptian cattle - the cattle left after the earlier plagues - died.


The result was that the leader of Egypt allowed God’s people to leave his nation. In fact, he and his people begged God’s people to leave so they would not have to suffer anymore at what they knew was the hand of God.


By the way, here is something else we can tell others. Every plague brought about by God proved His power over gods worshiped by the Egyptians. Let’s tell others, including our children, that God is the most powerful - in fact, He is the only true God. That is one thing that should help others to set their hope in God.


What else can we tell? According to Psalm 78, we can tell how God provided for His people after their escape from Egypt.


For instance, a short time later, the leader of Egypt wanted the slaves returned. He sent his army to capture the people of God.


Soon, the army thought it had the people pinned. The army was behind them. The Red Sea was before them. It was just flat land on either side of them. All of which means there was no way to escape.


Remember what happened? God had Moses, the leader of the people, strike the Red Sea. The Red Sea parted. God kept it parted just long enough for His people to cross to the other side. As soon as the last person was across, God brought the water together again. The result was that the entire Egyptian army, which had been in pursuit - men, animals, and equipment alike - were drowned.


That is something we can tell others about God. How He cared for His people. Plus, before and after that, God assured His people of His presence. He did that by providing a cloud each day and a pillar of fire each night. Those two things were usually for guidance, but right before the crossing of the Red Sea, the pillar of fire blinded the Egyptian army, keeping them from attacking the night before the crossing. And again, those two things were reminders of God’s presence with His people.


Listen. The plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the cloud and the fire are all well-known things, but they need to be repeated so we can remember them in the telling of them and so others, including our children, can have them be part of their knowledge. Telling and retelling will make it more likely they will put their hope in God.


Psalm 78 lists some more wonders of God. 


In the wilderness, following His people’s escape from the Egyptian army, God provided water. That was needed since they had little if any water with them and the wilderness they were in was a desert. 


What did God do? He directed Moses to strike a rock. From the rock water gushed. There was enough water for all the people and all the animals.


After that the people ran low on food. Again, they were in a desert. Food sources were scarce, and of course they had no way of farming to produce crops. Even if they did, it would take a long time for the crops to ripen and be harvested. 


What did God do? He sent a substance called manna. A wafer-type thing that looked like dew and had the taste of honey. A substance that took care of all the nutritional requirements of the people.


Interestingly, the people were unhappy about the manna. Not that they received it, but that it was the only food they received from God. 


In some ways, I understand that. The same meal over and over and over again can get tiring. But the people grumbled and complained, so much so that one time, God provided the people quail.


The people ate so much of the meat they became sick, but as He had done before, God provided for His people. That is what needs to be told about Him. Again, the purpose is to get people, including the next generation, to put their hope in God so they can do better than those in the wilderness who complained about what God gave them.


The people of God were in the wilderness for 40 years before they were allowed by God to enter the land He had promised them. This is not in Psalm 78, but I am always amazed that through all that time, the shoes and clothes of the people never wore out. 


What a gift that was from God, but when it came time for the people of God to enter the Promised Land, God went with them and sometimes before them, His purpose to either move away the people who lived in that land or allow His people to defeat those inhabitants.


Over and over again, God helped His people. That is what we are to tell others, even today. And one more time, the hope is that we and the next generation will do better than the Old Testament people of God did. 


Already mentioned was the grumbling the people did in the wilderness. As Psalm 78 reminds us, there were more problems in the Promised Land. After all God had done, including Him allowing His people to occupy the Promised Land, they so often tested Him and rebelled against Him, including worshiping false gods.


Over the next several centuries, God, as often as His people tested and rebelled, turned away from them, causing them to suffer, sometimes in the Promised Land, other times as captives of foreign kings.


But as often as His people repented, He blessed them. That included, as is stated toward the end of Psalm 78, the choosing of David to be the king, which was quite a promotion. David started out as a shepherd for his father, but his rule was blessed by God.


Interestingly, even David stumbled. We know the report of that. David noticed and took a liking to the wife of another man. David slept with her and a baby was conceived. David ended up arranging to have the husband killed in battle, which allowed David to marry the woman.


Eventually, David was sorry for what had happened. He repented and asked for God’s forgiveness, which was given.


But one more time, the goal is to have ourselves and others avoid the problems caused by not putting hope in God. That is why God is to be told about over and over and over again. May the stories never get old for us or for others. May we continue to tell them. That is what the Bible instructs us to do.


Of course, it is not just God the Father who is to be told about. In our New Testament times, we also have the privilege of telling about God the Son - about Jesus. 


For that, I asked the Wednesday evening Bible study group a week-and-a-half ago to share what they tell others about Jesus. Here are some of the things shared by the people in that group.


Two people tell others about God’s miracles, including, one person wrote, the very first recorded miracle, which was turning water into wine. That was done at a wedding feast, and it was not just wine. It was great wine Jesus created.


The fact Jesus did that at wedding feast is significant. It is one example of Jesus relating to all people, which is a benefit some in the Bible study group tell others. You see, the wedding couple is not identified, which at least suggests they might have had no special social standing. But they were in need since wine had run out. Jesus helped them.


Relating to all others was also proved by His work on behalf of the sick. Over and over Jesus performed miracles to heal people. He did it when they had need, even if it happened to be on sabbath days. Jewish law made it illegal to heal on sabbath days, but Jesus did not care. Religious law was important to Him, but more important was helping people in need.


Speaking of relating to all, think of Jesus’ disciples. They were not the most studious of young men, yet Jesus saw their potential and called them to follow Him. How good it is to share that with others, letting them know Jesus can use anyone and everyone who will answer His call.


One person in the Bible study group wrote that Jesus being a teacher is told to others. A great teacher who was able to hold the interest of people, always for the purpose of getting them closer to God.


Someone else wrote that the power of prayer is told. Remember Jesus taught us how to pray. He did that through the Lord’s Prayer that praises God, then gives us the opportunity to ask Him to satisfy our needs before once again praising God.


And of course, as some wrote, there was the greatest gift of all, which was Jesus’ death on a cross. An act that was horrible for Him, but wonderful for us because His death was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. A sacrifice needed so we can have eternal life with God in Heaven. That gift needs to be told to others.


Someone wrote that He is always here for you to talk to and share every need and to thank Him for every blessing. Jesus tells us in His word that we are to ask Him and talk to Him about everything. With that in mind, do we show the truth of it in how we talk with God? Do we pray in front of our children and/or others? Do we display that we believe He cares about everything we do?


And one more. A women shared that she has often told her daughter that she and her father prayed her into existence. The couple had tried for a long time to have a child. When she was born, that was an answer to prayer. What an important thing to share with the daughter.


To repeat, it is not just George Lucas who should be telling old stories. We are to tell others about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit so others, including children, will learn to put their hope in God, not forgetting the Lord’s works, but keeping His commandments. That is what we are instructed in the Bible to do. Let’s be obedient to that instruction. Let’s be dedicated to telling others.


What better closing song could there be than I Love to Tell the Story? We will sing verses 1, 3, and 4.


I love to tell the story of unseen things above,

Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love;

I love to tell the story - because I know ’tis true

It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.

I love to tell the story! 

’Twill be my theme in glory -

To tell the old, old story 

Of Jesus and His love.


I love to tell the story - ’tis pleasant to repeat

When seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet;

I love to tell the story - for some have never heard

The message of salvation from God’s own holy word.

I love to tell the story! 

’Twill be my theme in glory -

To tell the old, old story 

Of Jesus and His love.


I love to tell the story - for those who know it best

Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest’

And when in scenes of glory I sing the new, new song,

’Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.

I love to tell the story! 

’Twill be my theme in glory -

To tell the old, old story 

Of Jesus and His love.


Lord, help us to love to tell Your story. The story of You and Your Father and the Holy Spirit. As the closing song has it, we who tell are to hunger and thirst for that story. As Psalm 78 has it, telling Your story is to benefit others, including our children. The benefits of learning to love You and setting their hope in You so they can be obedient to You. Thank You for having a story for us to tell. Thank You for the freedom to tell it. Amen.