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Jun 11, 2023

Generational Spirituality

Passage: Deuteronomy 6:1-9

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: Deuteronomy

Keywords: love, god's word, parents, parenting, great commandment, grandparents, passing faith


This passage has been, to Jews down through the centuries, probably THE most important daily Scripture passage. It should hold equal importance for every Christ-follower as well. The Great Commandment that is contained in this passage is followed by the greatest charge to parents and grandparents in the Bible. Every parent and grandparent should make this passage one for continual reflection.


Generational Spirituality

Deuteronomy 6:1-9

June 11, 2023

Get acquainted question:  What is one of the best things someone invested in your life…and how did they do that.


Who are you making rich? 

The way I phrased that question, our minds probably start taking inventory of

  • who we’ve maybe given a job to or employed.
  • who you’re planning to leave an inheritance to.
  • If you’re in business, you’re probably thinking of someone you are responsible to train so they can do their job well and succeed in the company.

That word “rich” in our culture is usually applied to money and finances.  But human experience is such that we can be rich in lots of different ways…and we can help make others rich in many different spheres of life.

  • Rich in relationships: teaching others how to have great friendships, marriages, families.
  • Rich in opportunities: helping people learn to see opportunities, not to be afraid of change but to wade into risk and new things.
  • Rich in spirit: helping others come to faith in God and a growing personal relationship with their Savior Jesus.  Helping them develop a spiritual home, family, spiritual offspring.
  • Rich in skills—mentoring people on how to do something you’re skilled at.
  • Rich in knowledge—teaching, passing on understanding and wisdom.

Today’s passage in Deuteronomy 6 is one of the most important passages in the Bible for people who care about their families, their friends, their brothers and sisters in Christ, in short, other people.  It has the one verse of the O.T. that a dedicated Jew will recite every day, morning and evening. 

            As Moses spoke and wrote it to a nation he was about to leave after nearly 40 years of leading them in the wilderness, he was like a grandfather looking over the family he had loved, laughed with, gotten angry with and cried over.  He knew his days were drawing to a close and, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wanted to give them his parting instructions.

ILL:  How many of you have been able to either visit your now-deceased parents or grandparents shortly before their death or been at their bedside in those last days or hours?  You’ll never forget that last conversation, will you?  Hopefully, if you had truly loving and sacrificial parents, they said some things to you that you still carry with you today, things meant to help you make the most of the life you now live. 

            This is what was going on with Moses, now 120 years old but still strong in mind, spirit and body. 

            So, let’s read this passage with that mindset of people who are hearing from their much beloved spiritual grandfather.

Deut. 6:1-9

“Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, 

that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son's son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them 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 them as a sign on 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.

Q:  How were you discipled as a Christian?  When people used to ask me that question, I would usually think of…

  • a fellow named Jeff who was in college at the time I was in junior high. He started getting together with me every now and then to talk about what I was doing in reading the Bible, to talk about praying and even pray together. 
  • I would mention high school youth leaders like Fred or Dave who dragged me along with them to camps and retreats, put me on ministry teams that went out to places like Republic and Burke, ID to put on DVBS and evening evangelistic community outreaches for weeks at a time.
  • I would think back to my college days of pastors who made me a summer intern leading those same summer outreach teams I had been a part of as a kid or missions trips to the Navajo Nation in New Mexico.
  • During college & seminary days, I think of a Navigators staff who taught me to memorize Scripture and pastors who taught me to lead a college ministry and teach about 100 college students every week. I think of missionaries I lived with in the Philippines and professors who taught me over 5 years of college, 3 years of seminary and 5 years of doctoral classes.
  • But the older I get, the more I think of two people: my parents.  I was 8 when they came to Christ, so I had another 10 years of watching them grow in Christ before I left home.  Then I had another 8 years of living in the same city, still watching them.  Then God gave me another 25 years living distant from them but still watching them grow in the Lord as they grew old, lost their health and eventually died. 

I never took a class from either of them that I can remember.  I don’t remember them telling me how to practice spiritual disciplines or study the Bible. 

But what I did experience had THE most significant impact on my life of anyone…because they MODELED the heart and soul of this passage.  I would never have had the passion or drive or interest to do most of what did with all those other people had it not been for the transformation I saw God bring to their lives personally and our family together. 

They didn’t do it anywhere near perfectly, but they did it humbly and sincerely and consistently.  And they stuck by me their entire lives. 

            I know about half or better of us here at Mosaic are singles.  As Paul said and so many biblical leaders and prophets have modeled, singleness does give unique opportunities and time that married people and families must invest in their marriages and families.  

            But God also knows that there is something unique and sanctifying about marriage and families too.  To take a journey with the same people—your family—for 15, 30 or 60 years of your life when those people are truly living out loving God above all others, equals or perhaps transcends the impact of dozens and even hundreds of other saints God brings to us along the way. 

            That is why this passage is addressed to specifically, though not exclusively, adults who have children or grandchildren.  (Before those of you who are single tune me out, bear with me.)

Only recently, mostly in 21st century western culture, has the family so fractured and disintegrated that we have developed almost a disdain (even in church) for talking about marriage, for encouraging couples to have children, and especially for celebrating large families.

That is not God’s plan for raising up the next godly generation.  Parents and grandparents are God’s “Plan A” for creating the next generation of spiritual warriors.  And the church needs to be doing everything we possibly can to encourage men and women to enter into biblical marriage, encourage them to have children…lots of them… and assist them to model the very thing Moses is commanding all Israel to do for generations to come.  

C.S. Lewis wrote about the place motherhood holds in all the vast constellation of careers and callings in this world.  He noted that “The homemaker has the ultimate career.  All other careers exist for one purpose only—and that is to support the ultimate career.”  He was speaking to a culture that he knew was devaluing motherhood.  We live now in a culture that is attacking and devaluing parenting of both mothers and fathers. 

The survival of the church utterly depends upon godly parents.  The Kingdom utterly depends upon parents and grandparents who are raising the next generation of the church.  Therefore, all of us in the church are fundamentally in the service of parents who raise godly children who lead the church and the world into a future we will never live to see.  All other things we do pale in terms of insuring that the next generation of adults are the kind of kingdom people who will set the world on fire for God, not smolder into extinction and darkness.

So, this is speaking particularly to parents and grandparents today.  And to those of you who are not, I am asking you to do everything in your power for the rest of your days to assist, encourage, resource, help, bless and advocate for godly parents.  The cultural civil war we are currently facing over education and sexuality and parental rights and what is marriage and what is family is NOT a battle we can simply delegate to the few and shrinking godly, dedicated, passionate, convinced, exhausted, stretched and strapped parents now in the thick of the battle.  Their battle better be our battle!  Their horror at how the culture is clawing at their children’s hearts and minds better be our horror! 

Because the very survival of the church in America is at stake!  Our lamp as a church is in danger of being removed.  And the only thing that stands between us and that future is obedience to this passage and the process it puts forth. 

So, what is that process?  What is that pathway to spiritual thriving for the next generation of the church in our land…and any land?  It is what we have here.

  1. We all have ONE COMMAND to follow…and we all must follow it with the next generation in view.
  2. We all must do it [obey the One Command] by modeling the practice of cherishing God’s Word...in our affections & in the education of our children.


  1. We all have ONE COMMAND to follow:  “Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you…”  Moses is modeling precisely what he wants everyone to do.  He’s teaching them what they must teach the next generation if the faith is to survive let alone flourish.  He’s boiling it all down to one thing, one command. 

So, what is that ONE command? It is what the Hebrews call the Shema.  The “Shema” (from the Hebrew, “Hear”) is the central tenet of Judaism, recited daily by devout Jews. The call to hear implies that the following words are very important and must be obeyed.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 

What we are to hear is, “Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one.” It can also be translated, “Yahweh is our God; Yahweh alone.” It means that Yahweh and only Yahweh is the true and living God, is life itself, is everything in life.  He alone is to be the object of our worship.

Worship is to involve our passion, our deepest affections, our focus and longings and yearnings, our hopes and dreams in life, for life and about life.  Yes, we will love and enjoy many other things and people.  But without the constant, daily, multiple-times-a-day refocusing upon God and affirming Him as the source and sustainer of all that ‘other’, the ‘other things/people’ will become our gods displacing the One God.

Do you see why, back in our study of the 10 Commandments in chapter 5, the first commandment is the foundation of all other obedience to God?  “You shall have no other gods before me.”  Not in front of me, not in my presence, not even remotely approaching my role or place or object as THE Only God.

Next Moses tells us HOW we are to keep God in that unique place in our lives:  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

 God is not a religion we follow; He is our primary relationship.  He is not a set of rules; He is a the focus of our souls.  He is not a ritual or responsibility to follow; He is the Supreme Being to be loved supremely by our hearts, our souls, our entire physical beings. 

Because He needs it?  NO, because we need it.  We become like what we love.

  • Love money and you will become like it: cold, unfeeling, deceptive, here today and gone tomorrow, corrosive, and impersonal.
  • Love success and you will become demanding, consuming, illusive, distant, temporary, transient and empty. That’s what success is. 

God calls us to love him with everything we have because love of Him will give us everything that is best for us and everything that we were created to be. 

            It is what Moses has just promised in the previous verse 3:  Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

            God has not promised us that land.  But He has promised us far more, both in this life and in the life to come.  He has promised us more in soul-satisfaction in this life and Promised Land Paradise in the next than this promise to the Jews ever included.  But it comes by the same means:  careful obedience to this, the Great Commandment: love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 

  • Hopefully that is why you are here
  • Hopefully that is why you pray throughout the day.
  • Hopefully that is why you read your Bible or give to missionaries or go to Bible studies or fix meals for friends or raise children or love your spouse or die daily to self—because you are seeking to love the Lord [Jesus Christ] with all your heart and soul and might.

HOW does Moses call us to DO that?

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 

  1. We all must do it [obey the One Command] by modeling the practice of cherishing God’s Word…

a.)  in our affections, “our heart”, the driving center of our being. 

Are we always in love with the Word of God?  Probably not.  But there are many things any human heart does that causes it to “love” something from the heart. 

Q:  What are the things we do that causes our heart to love someone or something?

  • Spend time pursuing it/them.
  • Sacrifice for it/them.
  • Enjoy it/them.
  • Pray about/for…
  • Hold, touch, embrace…
  • Be faithful to….
  • Make plans for/with…
  • Protect…
  • Nurture…
  • Speak to others about…
  • ???

Secondly, God calls us to model the practice of cherishing God’s Word…

b.) in the education of our children.

You shall teach them diligently to your children….

God is really very specific about the portion of education for which we are responsible:  the Word of God.  Apparently God leaves it up to us who teaches our children about physics…or math …or history…or PE.  But he is very clear that it is every parent’s responsibility and calling to model the cherishing of His Word by modeling actually teaching that word “diligently” to our children. 

            Don’t believe the lie that you have to be super-educated to do that.  Don’t believe the lie that you have to be fun or entertaining about it.  Don’t believe the lie that someone else can do it for you.  YOUR children need to see the most important people in their lives being the ones modeling that you love God’s word enough to do whatever it takes to pass it on to them. 

ILL:  My parents didn’t know anything about doing this when they started.  They took the Daily Bread and simply read it and the assigned Bible passage every morning at the breakfast table.  It took less than 5 minutes.  It wasn’t entertaining.  I don’t remember a single daily devotional.  But I do remember that my parents loved the Word of God enough to have us read it every day, stop and think about it and talk about it as a family. 

            When I was a kid, “family devotions” was something churches taught and encouraged their families to have.  Whether at breakfast or dinner or bedtime, parents were told, “You need to be teaching your children that you love God’s word and that it is worth turning off the TV for.  It’s worth putting down the newspaper.  It’s worth putting up with the teenagers rolling their eyes, worth the littles squirming in their seats or bounding off the walls, worth the non-responses from your middle-school kids.  Because as much as they may whine and complain, they will see when we love God’s word. 

APP:  I’ve put together a little resource list for parents to consult with websites you can go to for ideas about family devotions.  Some suggest different things for different stages—preschool, grade school age, middle and high school kids. Methods may change.  I’m sure there are far more resources now than when Sandy and I were parenting.  But I’ve put on there some resources you can use daily.  It’s the pattern, the consistency and the modeling that matter. 


  • Preschool: act out Bible stories.  Assign parts and just read the story, having the kids pretend they are in the story.  EX:  we did this in February when our whole family was together; had the kids act out the paralytic who took their paralyzed friend to Jesus and let him down in the blanket >> they took turns being paralyzed, carrying each other, being healed, being Jesus.  Read stories together. (Try The Action Bible.)  Find YouTube shorts that are animations of various Bible stories (there are tons)…and show them where the creators added to or took away from the original.  Spend 60 seconds applying it to your life and they will learn how to apply it to theirs. 
  • Elementary: Keep doing the same.  Add little projects you do together.  Read about God making the stars and go gaze at them for 10 minutes on a blanket in the backyard.  Pick up a daily kids devotional designed for elementary…like Keys for Kids.  Start using a catechism for kids:  one line, short questions for which you memorize a one-line short answer.  Take one or two a week.  Review them.  Memorize the responses together and after a year or two, you will have taught your kids one of the historically most effective means of passing spiritual truth and Christian theology to kids.  ILL:  John Piper’s Baptist Catechism for Kids.  Memorize Scripture together with your kids.  Act it out with hand motions.  Use a dry erase board and keep taking off words.  Review, review, review.  Start simple and move to whole chapters.  It will be far harder for you than for your kids!  But they will see that you love God when they see you love and sacrifice to hide God’s word in your own heart. 
  • Middle and High School: Teach them how to read the Bible and understand what it is saying.  Use the DBS method on just one verse or one short story.  Teach your children how to a.) understand what it says, b.) what that means, and c.) what difference it can make to their lives.  ILL:  Know how some of our children learned to make their own daily devotional time meaningful?  Sandy or I took our devotional time with them for a couple of weeks when they were hungry and ready and just showed them how we read and digested a passage of scripture, how we asked the Holy Spirit to speak to us, how we listened for Him to apply it to us, etc.  (First they usually had to see us spending time in God’s word every morning when they got up and got ready for school.) 
    • Use Proverbs
    • Introduce them to devotional classics like Steams in the Dessert, My Utmost for His Highest, Daily Light.
    • Read short missionary biographies once a week or month and pray for a missionary. See From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya.
    • ???

PRAY with and for them daily. Pray God’s Word that you just read about over them.  Model to them that God’s word is what should shape even their prayers. 

Look at when and where the Word of God is to be part if not the focus of our interaction with our children.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 

            Mealtimes (breakfast & dinner), drive-times and bedtimes are the best times to have conversations about God’s word with anyone, especially children.  Just look for opportunities to tie life to Scripture.  It may not happen every day, but it should be paramount on our minds as parents:  how can I connect what my kids are talking about with God’s word?  How can I show them how God’s word touched something in my experience that day—a conversation I had with someone, an event I witnessed, a tragedy or crisis I read about or heard about on the news?

            If you’re musical, pull out the guitar and sing a worship song at dinner.  If you’re not, find scripture songs and play them on your IPad in the car.  Listen to kid’s programs that show them how God’s word applies to their lives, like Adventures in Odyssey on family trips and while running errands.  The Word of God comes in many and varied forms that children can learn and remember.

            The rest of this passage is really an elaboration of simply allowing God’s word to permeate every part of your life and thus your family life. 

You shall bind them as a sign on 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.

Vs. 8--You shall bind them as a sign on your hand….

ILL:  Yesterday’s wedding of Elroy and MaryAnne.  Had rings, of course.  Was reminded that rings are a cultural signal of a committed relationship.  What are the cultural signals today that we are people who love God and His word?

  • T-shirts
  • Tattoos (?)
  • Jewelry that makes a declaration of our faith. (Cliff’s cross.)
  • ???

 … they shall be as frontlets between your eyes….  I’m not sure what “frontlets” were in Moses’ day.  But the admonition was that the Word of God was to be kept “in view” of them all the time.  It was to be the glasses of our modern day that helped them see and correctly interpret the world around them. 

APP:  Do our children see us analyzing and filtering everything through the Word of God?

  • Taking time to talk over and analyze movies (animated or acted) you are watching to point out where they accurately reflect the truth of God and where they deviate; what is their ‘world view’? Message?  Assumption about mankind?  About God?  About morality? 
  • Do they see us filtering the news of the day through God’s word. Or are we so freaked out about what is happening that they don’t see us trusting God or believing in his sovereignty or loving people making horrible policy or decision or crimes?
  • “Can you think of a verse or truth in the Bible that speaks to this?” is one simple way to “keep the word of God before our eyes” on life.

…9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.  This month Sandy and I are moving to a new neighborhood.  We recently found out that one of our neighbors who we met while just walking the neighborhood a couple of weeks ago told another neighborhood (who happens to be a Christian) that she had spoken a spell over us and our house.  So not only have we taken spiritual charge over this new property and neighborhood;  I’m thinking that this little command to post the Word of God on our homes and “doorposts” might be a very good thing for us to actually, physically do.  All of our neighbors need to know that our family belongs to the Lord.  They can cast spells at us or they can bless us and pray for us for that.  But they cannot ignore that we love the Word of God.

            What would happen in our city if every Christ-follower had a yard sign with some passage of scripture on it?  Anyone want to start a business of printing yard signs with some of the most applicable, thought-provoking and easily understood Words of God on them?  Sign me up and make me a monthly subscriber!  If nothing else, my grandkids will see when they visit that Papa doesn’t just talk about the Bible when he’s in church;  he talks about it to his neighbors all week long too. 

ILL:  Does loving God and his word and teaching it to your children and grandchildren make a difference? I’ve read that in 1900, a man studied the descendants of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards, the New England revival preacher, theologian, and president of Princeton University. Statistics vary slightly, but over 100 of his descendants became ministers, missionaries, and theological professors. Thirteen were university presidents; at least 65 were college professors. More than 100 were lawyers and judges. More than 60 were physicians. Eighty-six were state senators, three were state governors, three were U.S. Congressmen, one was the Comptroller of the U.S. Treasury, and one became Vice President of the United States.

            While we have no idea what career successes our children may have, we do know that if we take the biblical education of our children seriously, we and they will be blessed.  Let’s devote ourselves as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and just brothers and sisters in Christ to being a people committed to GENERATIONAL SPIRITUALITY through our passionate love for God and His Word.