Oct 7, 2019
Join us as we explore God’s ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
I've read a couple of books lately by John Walton that describes the thinking of the ancient people of Israel as the nation began. He also writes about what people of Jesus day might think when they heard scripture. It's interesting reading as he describes what they would have known of the stories of the people around them.
We forget sometimes, they grew up in Egypt after Jacob took his family there to escape the famine in Canaan. They heard the Egyptian tales of the beginnings of mankind and their thoughts on who and why we worship the pantheon of gods they held sacred. We forget Egyptian idols and rituals surrounded the Israelites every day until Moses led them out of slavery and into the wilderness toward the promised land.
The Israelites probably didn't tell many stories around the dinner table about Moses' version of creation, the call of Abraham, or the rescue from famine for Jacob and his family. After 400 years, more than 10 generations since Joseph sat next to Pharaoh, I expect most of the Israelites never heard anything except the Egyptian version of ancient history.
Then Moses comes along and incites Pharoah to end the slavery and let the Israelites return to their homeland. I expect the elders tried to carry on some of the traditions Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob shared with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. But I suppose many more of those two or three million sojourners never heard of Jehovah and certainly didn't worship him. More followed God's command to observe the Passover out of fear than obedience. They watched all the other plagues happen just as Moses said they would and wanted no part of this one.
Maybe that's a little too cynical, but I'm watching our country, and I don't think I'm too far off the mark. Just about 400 years ago, a boatload of Pilgrim brought Christianity to form a tiny little settlement in this new nation. For a while, we became known as a Christian nation. Now, recent surveys of high school students show most don't know the stories of the Bible. They've never heard of Cain and Abel, Daniel or Elisha, David and Goliath, unless as a motivation speech somewhere. They haven't heard the miracle stories of the New Testament as Jesus turned water into wine, fed 5,000 men and their families, or raised Lazarus from the dead.
Why is that? Why do our children not know the stories from the Bible? I think there are two simple reasons.
First, we don't read the Bible ourselves enough to know the stories. We would have a hard time telling the story of Jael and Sisera when Deborah served as the judge over Israel. We might not do well answering questions about who replaced Judas as the twelfth apostle and how he was chosen. We might be really confused as to which missionary trip Paul planted the church at Corinth.
Second, like the ancients and those who walked the earth around the first century, we are primarily aural learners. We don't think we are because we spend so much time reading books or emails or websites to gather information. But think about it. When someone sings a song you've heard several times, and changes even one word or one or two notes in the melody, you recognize it immediately. But in a paragraph you just read, do you know when a word changes? Or can you even see that someone removed a sentence from a section or two? Most people can't from written documents, but can easily from music.
That's part of the reason so much of the ancient texts are poetry. Storytellers passed on the history, the commands, the songs, the stories from generation to generation orally. People couldn't read and write, and those that could wouldn't have access to books or materials to write them.
The point? In ancient times, parents, elders, storytellers told stories to their children to pass on the vital information within the tribe. When is the last time you share stories of Jesus or what he is doing in your life to your children or grandchildren? I'm pointing fingers at myself as I share this. I'm guilty also. We fail to use the gift of stories to spread what is most important to those who are dearest to us. Listen to what Paul wrote from prison to the one he groomed to take his place. This, from his second letter to Timothy:
For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.¹
Did you notice Paul's letter refers to teaching Timothy heard from Paul. I can see the two of them talking as they shared meals, traveled down the road together, mended tents, Paul's other trade. I think Paul shared with Timothy whenever he had the chance about what he believed, the stories told to him about Jesus, his personal experience on the road to Damascus. Timothy soaked up the lessons, and they weren't written. That came later while Paul sat in prison.
We remember the stories in our lives, not the words on paper. Even the words on paper are remembered because we turn them into pictures in our heads. That's how our brain works. So when we tell our kids stories about God's work in the world, past and present, they stick. We just don't do it enough.
So, how about it? Are you ready to make memories the way Jesus did, telling stories, sharing word pictures to be remembered forever? Are you ready to just talk to those you meet about the story of your life and what God has done for you? No one reads and remembers anymore if they ever did. Take a look at our world. If we remembered what we read, we wouldn't repeat the same mistakes over and over. But we do. Partly because we don't tell the stories that impact our sons and daughters, our friends and neighbors. We don't let them see and hear the change God makes in our lives. We've lost the art of storytelling. Maybe it's time to bring it back.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
¹THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® NIV®
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society®
Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.