Category Archives: Family

10 Statements (every child should hear their parents say):

Title: Ten Statements every child should hear their parents say

Text: Ephesians 5.33-6.4; Colossians 3.21; Deuteronomy 6.4-6

Introduction: Turn to Eph 6.4; and Col 3.21

I first heard a similar message by Dr. David Walker nearly 30 years ago in a revival we were hosting in Cotulla. I didn’t take notes, but some years later, as a pastor myself, wanted to preach a similar sermon. I preached once in Worland, once in Tyler, and now, I’ll preach it here today. I honestly don’t know how close this is to Dr. Walker’s message, but it is my own.

Read Eph 6.4; Col 3.21

10 Phrases:

  1.  “I love you, Lord”

exp.: more than anything your children knows about you, they need to know there is nothing, absolutely nothing in your life that is more important to you than your relationship w/ God.; they need to see you from the outside – looking into your time alone w/ God; to know that now is not a good time to bother daddy cause he’s praying. They need to have no doubt that you are saved and that you have a deep abiding relationship with the Father.

ill.: Michael Reagan received many gifts from his father, President Ronald Reagan. But at the 40th President’s sunset funeral, Michael described the greatest gift a child can receive:

I was so proud to have the Reagan name and to be Ronald Reagan’s son. What a great honor. He gave me a lot of gifts as a child—gave me a horse, gave me a car, gave me a lot of things. But there’s a gift he gave me that I think is wonderful for every father to give every son.

Last Saturday, when he opened his eyes for the last time…that’s when I realized the gift that he gave to me: that he was going to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He had—back in 1988 on a flight from Washington, D.C. to Point Mugu—told me about his love of God, his love of Christ as his Savior. I didn’t know then what it all meant. But I certainly, certainly know now.

I can’t think of a better gift for a father to give a son. And I hope to honor my father by giving my son, Cameron, and my daughter, Ashley, that very same gift he gave to me.

Knowing where he is this very moment, this very day, that he is in heaven, I can only promise my father this: Dad, when I go, I will go to heaven, too. And you and I and my sister, Maureen, who went before us, we will dance with the heavenly host of angels before the presence of God. We will do it melanoma and Alzheimer’s free. Thank you for letting me share my father, Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Transition: There is no greater gift to give your child, than for your child to know that you belong to God. At the end of your life, when your body is lying lifeless and the services take place committing your body to the ground and your spirit to God. Nothing will mean more to your child than knowing where you are.

2. “I love you, Sweetheart”

exp.: your kids need to know you love their mom/dad. Let them see your demonstrations of love. Open the door for her. Pull out the seat for her. Grab her when she walks by and pull her down into your lap and give her the biggest sweetest hug and make her laugh as you kiss her neck! Reach out and hold his hand, or slip your hand under his arm

Dad, Teach them to Honor and Respect her. Get angry when they miss treat her. And never, ever mistreat her yourself. Mom, teach them to Honor and Respect him. Don’t ever say a negative remark about him. Always show respect to him. Parents, if you do, then your kids will, too.

Ill.:  Listen to this writer whose article appeared in the Arkansas Democrat: “Women are very touchy about certain gifts, as I discovered years ago after buying my girlfriend a catcher’s mitt for her birthday. It seemed to me to be a particularly thoughtful gift, especially since she claimed not to be getting enough physical exercise. But apparently, she didn’t see it that way. The minute she unwrapped it, she ran sobbing from the room.

“At first, I thought those were tears of joy streaming down her face. I figured she was overwhelmed at being the first in her crowd to have a catcher’s mitt—that sort of thing. Or I figured she was so excited she couldn’t wait to get outside and work on her throws to second base. But when she didn’t return after a few hours, I got the hint.

“Here I’d spent all that time running around from one sporting goods store to the next trying to find the perfect gift. I mean, we’re talking the Johnny Bench model here; top of the line. And she calls me insensitive. I mean, you’d think I’d given her a year’s subscription to Field and Stream or a box of shotgun shells, which everybody knows should be saved for Christmas stocking stuffers. Personally, I think she just had a lot of anger in her and took it out on me. Not that I’m trying to play amateur psychologist or anything.” 

Listen, unless your wife specifically asks for her own set of tools… my wife did. Outside of your relationship with God, there is no greater relationship on earth than that of your spouse. And your kids should know it.

Transition: the 3rd phrase:

3. “I love you”

exp.: your child needs to know that you love him/her. Hug your kids, everyday. Do things with them. Build things with them. Read to them;

Ill.: I’ve told my children and it is being passed on to my grandchildren: there are three things I want you to know about me. Like, at my funeral someday, you’ll say, “These three things I know about my dad. First, He loved the Lord. 2nd, he loved my mama. And 3rd, he loved me.

Transition: Say, I love you with words, but also with your actions. And say I love you everyday. Everyday.

4. “I’m sorry, I was wrong; will you forgive me.”

exp.: read Col 3:21;

Eph 6:4                                                                           Col 3:21

Fathers,                                                                            Fathers,

Do not                                                                                 Do not

Provoke                                                                             provoke

Your children to anger                                             Your children

But, instead                                                                                lest

Nourish them, (not just food),

In the training and the instruction              they become discouraged

Of the Lord

  1. It is an incredible moment when your child realizes you’re not perfect. Set the example on how to restore relationships. Show deep humility. Show honesty. Don’t arouse a deep-seated bitterness within them. Go to them and teach them what you did was wrong or how you handled the situation was wrong.

ill.: 15 years ago, The AP reported on a young man named, Jesse Jacobs, who made it possible to apologize without actually talking to the person you’ve wronged.

Jacobs created an apology hotline. People unable or unwilling to unburden their conscience in person call the hot line and leave a message of apology on an answering machine. Each week, 30-50 calls are logged, as people apologize for things from adultery to embezzlement.

“The hot line offers participants a chance to alleviate their guilt and, to some degree, to own up to their misdeeds,” said Jacobs. “I’m just hoping that these people will feel better themselves, just by getting whatever’s been bothering them off their chest.” One caller to the hot line remarked, “I hope this apology will cleanse me and basically purify my soul…God knows, I need it.”

Here’s the thing: you can now download the app! You can go to the app store and find the appropriate app to put on your phone. Then confess to your heart’s content.

app.: don’t confess your wrongs to an app or a hotline!

Here’s why: your marriage is a picture of the Gospel.

Transition: Go to your child and look them in the eyes and say, “I’m sorry.” 5th:

5. “You’re doing a good job.”

Don’t discourage them; Encourage your kids; For some reason, this one is hard on parents. I don’t know why, but parents: everyday, find something good to say to encourage your child;  

ill.: Scott Larson, in his book, A place for Skeptics, writes:

I remember being approached by a 16-year-old boy named Ricky after I wrapped up my first speaking session at a weekend retreat for high schoolers. “I just hope you’re not heading down a path where at the end of the weekend you’re going to ask us to make some kind of commitment to follow God with our whole lives,” he said. “‘Cause if you are, I want to go home right now.”

Without pausing for breath, Ricky continued: “I’ve been coming here for a long time, and I’ve made these promises year after year, promises I can never keep, and ended up worse off than before I started, with God even more mad at me. ‘Cause now, not only am I sinning, but I’m breaking another promise I made to him. And so I just want to make sure that’s not where you’re headed this weekend. Is it?”

Feeling sad for Ricky and not knowing exactly how to respond to him, I took a shot in the dark and asked: “What can you tell me about your dad, Ricky?”

He proceeded to tell me a story from when he was in fifth grade. “Every day when my dad came home from work, the first thing he would always ask me was, ‘Have you done your homework yet?’ It was a pretty safe bet that I hadn’t. Then one day I decided to surprise him. When he got home, I met him at the door saying, ‘Guess what, Dad. I did all my homework!’ His response was, ‘Then why aren’t you working on tomorrow’s?'”

Suddenly it wasn’t so surprising that Ricky felt the way he did about himself and about God. He had learned that no matter how close he came, the mark of approval would always move a few notches higher. He would always come up short.

  • Do you realize how important your approval is to your kid? – that your approval sets them up for how they view their heavenly father? I know you want your child to always be pushed to be better. And you should, but don’t forget to affirm them, too.

ill.: Lisa B.: I love Jesus, but I don’t like God.

Transition: find ways to build up your child’s confidence and know how much they mean to you – how proud you are of them. Every day! They’re going to get beat down in so many ways, be a ray of sunshine for them. #6

6. “Let’s Pray”

1st, public speaking; at dinner; at bedtime

In situations and circumstance other than at the dinner table. Some guys, not even then. You are the Father, it’s sweet to have your kids pray, too. Like when you get in the car and travel.

They need to hear you speak to the Lord on your knees beside their bed. In “your chair” in the midnight hour. But they should see you living life in relation to your Master.

ill.: a mother came to me once and shared her concern of her little children. They asked her in private: How come daddy won’t pray before dinner. Mama, how come daddy won’t pray out loud?

Transition: I didn’t know what to tell her, except to encourage her kids by respecting her husband. #7

7. “We’re going to church”

Why? – To be with people who love God, too.

Why? – obedience; you can’t tell your kids to obey you and live in disobedience to God. Heb 10.25; It’s not your wife’s responsibility to get to church.

ill.: One Sunday morning, two men are out in a boat, fishing. After several hours on the lake without catching a single fish, one of the men says to his friend, “You know, we probably should have stayed home and gone to church this morning.”

The other man says, “Well, I could have stayed home, but I couldn’t have gone to church.”

“Why’s that?” asks his friend.

“My wife is sick,” the fisherman answers.

App.: Funny the excuses we can come up with to miss church. Consider this: you only get together with all of God’s people once a week. If you miss a Sunday, that’s 14 days since last you got to be together. Miss two Sundays – that’s 21 days!

Transition:

8. “Yes, But God has a plan”

Things may look bad, but God is going to use this to glorify himself and accomplish his plan. My biggest failure as a dad has been not trusting God in the early years when I couldn’t understand why things were going bad.

He can be trusted in every situation Rom 8:18; 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us; 28 – 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to understand it. But, even when bad things happen, faith can carry you through.

9. “If you were to die tonight, are you absolutely, positively sure that God would let you into his heaven?”

Daddy, have you ever led someone to the Lord? Do your kids know about it? Maybe they can’t be there, but around the dinner table when your talking, tell them about someone coming to know Christ or a witnessing opportunity where someone said, “No”. “Kids pray for them.”

Your kids need to know that you have a passion for God and a passion to see others come to know him.

Seriously, how much do you have to hate someone to not tell them how they can have the promise of heaven?

Ill.: C.H. Spurgeon. – “If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms around their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.

  • Can I let you in on a secret? The greatest joy in a person’s spiritual walk is to get on his or her knees and pray with their children to accept Jesus as Lord and savior and teach them that God is worthy of our lives.

Transition: and that is the 10th phrase:

10. “God is Worthy of your whole life”

It all starts and ends with God. Not only that, but He flows through all the others.

Conclusion:

I was considering this week about my job – as pastor. God has been so good to me to allow me to serve him this way. I don’t deserve it. What an honor! It is the highest calling vocationally. I truly do have the greatest job in the world. But, do you know what is even more satisfying? It’s being a dad.

Now, you all haven’t been called to do what I do – and I’m sure you’ll find great pleasure in doing whatever God has called you to do. But as a parent, that’s a really cool gig. Here’s the problem, it’s really only temporary. You get this short time to get it right. It may not feel like it when you’re in it, but listen to those of us who’ve gone before you: the time is short – so seize the day.

            Let your children hear you say and watch you do the things that are most important. Let them know you love the Lord and that you love their mom or dad. And let them know you love them. Everyday! When you do things wrong, and you will, ask them to forgive you. Encourage them – everyday! And teach them to walk with the Lord as you walk with him.

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.

Let’s pray

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Filed under Christian Living, Colossians, Deuteronomy, Ephesians, Evangelism, Family, Scripture, Sermon

1 Timothy 5.3-16

Title: The Treatment of Members: Confronting & Caring

Text: 1 Timothy 5. 3-16

 

Introduction: Confronting and Caring. The two words really come together well. Consider this: if you don’t care about someone, you’re not going to confront them in their error. If you don’t care about them, then you don’t care about what will happen to them. Let them perish in their folly. But, if you care, then you’ll want to protect them and help them see the error in their way.

It is interesting to me that Paul moves from confronting people in the church to caring for people in the church. I think that is because they’re close to the same thing.

We pick up where we left off last week – in the discussion of older women, in particular, widows. You probably remember Paul’s commands concerning confronting members.

I.     Confronting Members (1-2)

    1. Confronting Older Men (v 1)
    2. Confronting Younger Men (v 1)
    3. Confronting Older Women (v 2)
    4. Confronting Younger Women (v 2)

exp.: as sisters, in all purity; probably just with this last phrase; a 2nd reminder of the moral responsibility as a man of God;

app.: The Context is that for a pastor, don’t lash out at people; There is an appropriate way to handle problems we have with members; Timothy isn’t to Lord it over them just because he’s the pastor. But instead, he is to confront these brothers and sisters in Christ with respect and dignity and honor (5th commandment);

I don’t think this is just for a young pastor. We can be this way with each other. We should be, right?

Paul turns his attention to another situation in Ephesus, which is point #2:

II.    Caring for Widows (3-8)

exp.: rd v 3; I don’t know about you, but I’m like: Truly Widows? Isn’t the definition of a widow pretty clear?

     1.  Truly a Widow (really, indeed)

exp.: truly; Lk 23:47 – this really was an innocent man; Lk 24:34 – The Lord is really risen; Jn 8:36 – If the Son sets you free indeed; Mark 11.32 – John was truly a prophet. What Paul is saying here is that there are women who have lost their husbands, but they aren’t in desperate need that other women who’ve lost their husbands are! I don’t think he’s being mean or harsh. Paul is trying to not overload the work of the church. Think about this for a moment: a woman in that culture didn’t work like men did. We do find women working and we find them in leadership, but for the overwhelming majority of the women, when they lost their husbands, they lost their livelihood. So, Paul breaks down the need into categories. He identifies those who are truly needy and those living without necessities – a woman who needed care. To clarify, Paul list three categories or ‘types of widows’.

     2. Types of Widows

    • Widow w/ family (4)

exp.: rd v 4a; a widow who has family, both children and/or grandchildren; ‘themis a plural pronoun, which I believe points back to the children and grandchildren; ‘widow’ is singular here. Let the children and grandchildren care for her – and return to them the same care she gave them;

Consider what she has done for them over the years. It’s time to reciprocate. How many diapers has she changed? How many ‘bottoms’ has she wiped and cleaned? How many meals has she cooked for them? How many times has she cared for them when they were sick? Cleaned up vomit? Spit up? Held them, cried for them, prayed over them? She didn’t do it thinking someday they’ll return the favor. She did it out of love.

It’s time now for her children and grandchildren to show that same love to her; rd 4b; this is pleasing in the sight of God; godliness and obedience; it’s how you honor them.

    • Widow w/ no family (5)

exp.: rd v 5a; a widow who is truly a widow has no family (μονόω), we get our word ‘mono’ for the singular; monologue; monotonous; she’s alone.

– Alone: has no concern except for the Lord; her family is the church and the church should care for her;

– She is concerned for the affairs of God; So, God’s family should take her in and care for her;

    • Widow w/ finances (6)

exp.: rd v 6; a widow who is self-sufficient, wealthy, resources; lit.: living in luxury; contrast the widow whose concern is the church and the woman whose concern is her own selfishness; she may have no family, but she has her money and her things;

     3. Teach these Warnings (7-8)

exp.: rd v 7,  who is the ‘they’; v 8 (4, 16); The family; If she has relatives, they are responsible for her; if they don’t care for her, then that is a poor witness; they’ve done two things: denied the faith, worse than an unbeliever; opposite of v 4; ungodly; disobedient; no honor; isn’t better to be an unbeliever and be seen as an unbeliever than to be a believer and bring harm to the body as a poor witness?

t.s.: Paul moves quickly to “the list”

III.   Criteria for Widowhood (9-16)

exp.: rd v 9-10; So, it appears that there is a list of those widows who should be cared for. This is good. We need a group of folks in our church who take on this responsibility – to organize those who are truly widows and then to organize care and concern – to lead the church in this matter. There needs to be some organization – a list is made. That list can then begin to tackle or take on specific needs. Screens that need repair, vehicles that need to be made ready for summer, that these widows are being watched over in the COVID-19 era. What is this List? The List: There seems to have been an official ‘order of widows’. These women had certain requirements and if the church had been supported by these ladies, then, by all means, the church should care for them. Titus 2:3-5;

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

ill.: J. MacArthur: Their duties surely included helping with the baptism of women, visiting the sick, visiting prisoners, teaching and discipling younger women, helping younger women rear and nurture their children, and providing hospitality for visitors and strangers. They may have also assisted in placing orphans into proper Christian homes. That was a very important ministry in the Roman world since orphaned or abandoned children wound up as slaves, and often as prostitutes or gladiators. With their own husbands gone and their children grown, those widows had the time to pursue such essential ministries.

That such a group of widows existed in the early church is known from extra-biblical sources. In the late first and early second centuries, Ignatius and Polycarp wrote of such an order. Tertullian, who lived in the latter part of the second and early part of the third century, also mentioned it. The third-century document known as the Didascalia and the fourth century ‘Apostolic Constitutions’ also refer to an order of widows.

 – Three Criteria to make the List (9-10)

    • Age
    • Faithfulness
    • Service (good works)
      1. Brought up her children; this isn’t necessarily in the order of preference or prominence, but it definitely deserves some attention. Is there a greater task of importance than a mother to her children? Maybe to her husband?
      2. Hospitable
      3. Washed feet
      4. Cared for the afflicted (θλίβω (thlibō) under pressure to squeeze; it means to be between a rock and a hard place)
      5. Devoted herself to these ‘good works’; good works are a demonstration of godliness in a woman’s life – they demonstrate her beauty.

IV.    Caution/Urge Younger Widows to marry (11-15)

          1. Downward spiral
          2. Better to Marry

exp.: evidently, some of the widows have fallen for this false teaching in the church, they’ve chased after the things of this world and are causing trouble in the church.

There is something really interesting here that takes place throughout this chapter:

Aside: The order of people who care for widows: (16)

  • Children and Grandchildren (v 4)
  • Male Relatives (v 8)
  • Female Relatives (v 16)

I don’t think this means that the church should ignore widows who have relatives who can care for them. But it does help us in regard to identifying widows in need and our responsibility to care for them.

Conclusion:

So, what is Paul saying here:

1. Anyone can be led astray: Old, young; male, female. We’re all vulnerable to false teaching.

2. But, widows need particular attention, because they are preyed on by others.

–  Widows, in particular, were targeted with false teaching in Ephesus.

But some of you might be asking about this because it isn’t what you see. What I mean is this: the government has taken over the responsibility to care for widows and orphans. And you know what, I’m grateful for those who saw the need and led out in caring for those folks. I’m grateful that our Christian virtues and ethics impacted our government.

But does that mean we ignore the command as given by God to the church? No, it doesn’t. The church needs to step up and care for her widows.

So, with this in mind, let me ask a question: Are you feeling a tug on your heart to care for the widows/widowers? – to make sure they’re ok? – to make sure they’re not being taken advantage of? Maybe the Lord is moving in your heart to step up to this task.

Ill.: Joanne Walker of Corvalis, Montana: Our wedding reception, in my parents’ home, ended late. Mom didn’t try to clean up until the next morning. To her dismay, there were cake crumbs everywhere! “How careless the guests were,” she thought to herself.

Until she went to the kitchen. There, still neatly stacked and clean, were the plates and forks–forgotten by my mother in the busyness of the preparations. In other words, with all of her work, she forgot to set out the very utensils needed to prevent such a mess. In her busyness, she forgot her business.

3. Busyness vs. Business

It’s easy to forget in the busyness of the church what the true business is: imaging God (being the Body of Christ). Let’s not get so busy with things that we overlook a very important part of our church: Our widows – those women (and I might add men) who are truly widows indeed.

Difference between the Y and the I; Busyness leads to questions: Why are their crumbs all over the floor, Why were people so careless? Business, true business leads to the I…what can I do, how can I help?

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Missing Christmas

Title: Missing Christmas

Text: Matt 2.1-12

CIT: Some people missed that first Christmas.

CIS: We can miss Christmas this year if we are like them…


Introduction: Van Morris from Mt. Washington, KY tells the story of a woman who was doing her last-minute Christmas shopping at a crowded mall in days before Amazon.com. She was tired of fighting the crowds. She was tired of standing in lines. She was tired of fighting her way down long aisles looking for a gift that had sold out days before.

Her arms were full of bulky packages when an elevator door opened. It was full. The occupants of the elevator grudgingly tightened ranks to allow a small space for her and her load.

As the doors closed, she blurted out, “Whoever is responsible for this whole Christmas thing ought to be arrested, strung up, and shot!”

A few others nodded their heads or grunted in agreement.

Then, from somewhere in the back of the elevator, came a single voice that said: “Don’t worry. They already crucified him.”

I get the idea that this woman was missing Christmas.

Transition: I think it’s easy to miss Christmas. I did for many years. Even after becoming a Christian, I still didn’t get what Christmas was all about – what Christmas is all about.

In Matthew 2, we read about different people or groups of people who missed that first Christmas for various reasons. Rd v 1-2;

We can miss Christmas this year if we are:

I.     Self-Centered like King Herod

exp.: rd vs 3; He was troubled; stirred; Why? He was looking out for himself. You see, He was a very selfish man! So concerned for his throne was he, that he murdered anyone whom he thought might try and take it from him;

ill.: Those he killed (pg 70, Miracle).

exp.: feeling he had been tricked by the Magi and worried about this baby boy, he responds with a fury – rd 2.16-18; Man, Herod is doing anything he can to protect his throne. He is going to miss Christmas because he is most concerned about himself.

app.: We can miss Christmas this year if we are intolerant of Christ and his right to sit on the throne of our lives – if we seek our own rights obsessively; this sounds harsh, but I don’t know of any other way to say this – you ready? You’ll miss Christmas if you think Christmas is all about you. That was Herod’s problem.

t.s.: Let’s look at the 2nd group.

II.    Self-Satisfied like the people of Jerusalem

exp.: We see them in v 3; rd v 3; but their troubled minds are well-warranted! For them, it’s self-preservation like Herod, but on a different level. They know very well what could happen if Herod gets upset. And, as we read down in v16-18, their concerns become a reality.

And why shouldn’t they miss Christmas? They had everything they needed right there in Jerusalem. They don’t need any more religion. They had the Temple – and they thought that meant they had everything. They missed Jeremiah’s message in chapter 7 about putting their trust in the Temple: Jeremiah told the people: Amend your ways. Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord!’ Their understanding was that God dwelt in a building made by men. They had this understanding that God was in their midst. So, they didn’t worry about externals because they were sure that God was on their side. But here’s the problem – they had set the terms: 1) the building; 2) the leaders 3) their rules and regulations – they had their religion

III.   Self-Righteous like the Religious Leaders.

exp.:  rd v. 4-6; they’re busy; they just throw out the answer and move on; I’m shocked that none said, “Why do you ask?”  Israel had been looking for the messiah since Deu. 18:15; He had been promised since Genesis 3.15; Here the religious leaders knew the answer to Herod’s question but couldn’t care any less about what it actually meant.

ill.:  J. MacArthur: These men were too busy with themselves to be concerned about Jesus. Engrossed in their own pride, their self-righteousness, their self-sufficiency, they carried on their ritual and their petty theological discussion in the confines of their own comfortable system. They had no time for the Son of God.

app.:  Here’s the problem – sometimes we know the answers here (point to my noggin), but we can’t apply the answers here (point to my heart). Is there any excuse for us? I wonder if these guys had stopped looking for the Messiah. They got wrapped up in study and memory work, they just forgot all about what they were supposed to be doing.

And let’s be honest: it’s easy to do! It’s easy to focus in on the holiday on activity and parties and forget the real reason for the season. It’s easy to think Christmas is all about you. It’s easy to zero in on all of the activity and get so busy you miss the baby in the manger. It’s easy to entrust the work to someone else.

ill.: I think we are already doing that around here; in commercials; in Christmas displays; In the songs playing in stores; Lisa and I stopped in at Starbucks for some Tea and Coffee when little Cameron was born. We got a lot of drinks for the family. As we were waiting on our order to be filled, I looked around to see if there was anything in the Holiday decorations that made reference to Christ. Anything! I found nothing. Nothing at all to even hint that Christmas is about Christ.

ill.: Last Christmas I watched a News interview of people on T.V. who were in the holiday spirit: The views ranged from sentimental to irreverent. Some were sentimental saying Christmas is a time for family and friends. Others said it is a special time for Children. Some people were humanistic saying it is a time for brotherly love, to put aside our differences and come together. Others were just downright rude, saying that it was just another excuse to party. But not one person being interviewed said it was a time to recognize the birth of Christ.

To further illustrate this point: Is Jesus featured on television at Christmastime? According to a National Religious Broadcasters analysis of 48,000 hours of programming during December 2002, 90 percent of programming did not have a significant spiritual theme.

Some 7 percent had a religious or spiritual theme but did not refer to Jesus.

Jesus was the focus of only 3 percent of Christmas programming.

app.: you won’t find the Christ-Child, the Messiah on TV or in the papers; you’ll find him…we’ll may I quote: Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

t.s.: and finally…

We are sure to enjoy Christmas this year if we

IV.    Insistently, Incessantly Search for Christ

exp.: Why? What got them started? I’ll tell you what, time is getting away from us, so, we’ll pick up with this next week and talk about the ones who didn’t miss that first Christmas.

Take-a-ways:

  1. Just like Herod, we all need to learn this lesson: Christmas isn’t about you. But then again, most things in life aren’t. Christmas is a great time to focus on others and to pour our love out on them. And building on that…
  2. The word holiday, in our modern-day language, is formed from two words: Holy & Day. Can we bring holiness back into the season? I’m not talking about just being religious – like the inhabitants of Jerusalem. You might be wondering how…
    1. Well, one thing you can do: come to church for worship on Christmas Eve. It’s a great way to put your ‘holiday’ time into a proper perspective. I’m not saying to abandon your traditions or kick out your relatives. I’m just saying take some steps to make the occasion holy. Sure, you’ll have to work through some logistics: you may have your family visiting. Bring’ em along. They’re not saved, you say… Invite them. What a witness to declare to them this is a holy time for you. This season is when your Messiah was born.
    2. Something else you could do is to give your gifts away. Don’t panic, but just hear me out. Instead of giving gifts to each other, take the money you were going to spend on gifts in your family and go on a mission trip together. Or buy Christmas gifts for a needy family who won’t have nice gifts.

Be creative – make the season holy…

  1. As I think about these religious leaders, I really feel for them. They’re so religious, they miss the single greatest religious moment of their lives. Listen, there is a lot to do in getting ready for Christmas. You may have travel plans, family coming in, decorating, buying food, gifts, and the list goes on. Don’t get so busy with working to make the holiday grand that it just goes right on by you and all you feel is worn out. If you’re working hard to make it grand, then enjoy it. Sit down with a cup of coffee (or hot chocolate; or eggnog) and watch the lights on your tree and listen to and sing along with the Christmas music. Soak it in.

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Filed under Christmas, Evangelism, Family, Matthew, Scripture, Sermon

Psalm 127

Title: Unless the Lord…

Text: Psalm 127

Introduction: An incredible athlete. All-state football, basketball, and track. Mike played racquetball with a friend, a lineman. He first lost 21-1; then, 21-3; last game he lost 21-7. Mike said: Well, I’m getting better. His friend said: Sorry, that last game, I played you left handed. Don’t’ you hate when you find out you are not doing as well as you thought you were.

Today’s message is hard in that way: you find out that you’re not doing as well at this family thing as you thought. But that’s ok because, in the end, you learn it isn’t even about you. It’s all about God.

Read:

127 A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.

        Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

        It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

        Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

        Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.

        Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

I’d like to point out a couple of what I’ll call highlights this morning as we begin. I say highlights because there are words or phrases we’ll want to note in the text as we begin.

Psalm 127; A Psalm of Ascent; Of Solomon; So who wrote this? Solomon, and there is some very strong evidence to point to this… I just want to point them out to you now, but we’ll talk more about them when we get to those verses:

  1. Building the house (1a): 2 Samuel 7; David wanted to build God a house, but God said no. Instead, God built David a house;
  2. Vanity: 3x’s in v 1a, 1b, 2; Vanity, Vanity, all is vanity.
  3. His beloved (v2): Song of Solomon; 2 Sam 12.24-5: 24 Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the Lord loved him 25 and sent a message by Nathan the prophet. So he called his name Jedidiah, because of the Lord. There is a footnote there at the name Jedidiah which says that Jedidah means: beloved of the Lord.
  4. Wisdom Literature: this Ps. has characteristics of a Wisdom passage; a simile in v 4, Blessed is the man… in v 5;

I just want you to note these highlights and we’ll come back to them at the end of the message.

2nd, the author’s main idea for Psalm 127 is: God is sovereign over all affairs in one’s life. I think that is where he’s going. And, I hope you’ll feel the same way by the time I’m finished this morning. Let me show you what I mean:

  1. 1st he mentions building “the house” – not “a house”, not your house; also, in keeping with the context of the Psalms of Ascent, these folks were going up to God’s House: the Temple. So this gives it a religious context.
    1. House could mean a house, but I don’t think he’s talking about architecture.
    2. House could mean Israel. That doesn’t fit the flow of the passage, though.
    3. House could mean lineage. He could be talking about the messianic promise of the one to come. Hold on to that. Or family.
    4. Or, House could mean Seeing that this is in the POA, I think this is his focus.
    5. Caveat: Sometimes a passage has more than one meaning. And, I think this has multiple meanings, especially for those of us who live in the age of the Church.
  2. 2nd, he mentions watching over the city. The city is Jerusalem. This is where the house is Mt. Zion or the Temple and the city is Jerusalem. There is the idea of protection. Think about two weeks ago and the passage of the peaks that surround her.
  3. 3rd, he mentions work and rest. You work too hard and you don’t get the rest you need.
  4. 4th, he mentions the family. To be more specific, Solomon references Sons. (v3, 4, 5, them, being the relative pronoun of the antecedent, Sons).

So, let me go back to the main idea: God is sovereign over every aspect of one’s life. And, there are four areas Solomon mentions: Religious, Community, Vocational, and Family. Solomon is basically charging his people to Trust God in every aspect or every facet of their lives.

One last highlight: 3rd, I want you to see the flow of the Psalms around this particular Psalm in the POA.

  • In 125: We find that we can place our trust completely in the Lord because he is forever faithful. He alone brings stability and protection.
  • In 126: The Psalmist is calling upon God’s people to (1) sincerely pray for Yahweh to act once again as he has in the past and to (2) work through those prayers with labor and tears with the hope that God will restore their fortunes.
  • Here in 127: God alone is sovereign over Man’s affairs (religion; community; vocation; family). All else is ‘vanity’. Unless the Lord does this work, it will all be in vain.
  • In 128: This Ps. continues with the theme of the family. A man who walks in the fear and way of the Lord is blessed in the grandest of ways (his family, his work, his faith).
  • 129: Just the opposite – a man who doesn’t walk in the fear of the Lord will not be blessed.

So, what we see is this natural progression for the Israelites as they give themselves fully to trusting the Lord.

  • 125: God alone brings stability and protection to those who trust completely in God.
    • 126: Then, there is a call to do just that and to pray like it all depends on God and work like it all depends on them.
      • 127: God alone is sovereign over every aspect of Israel’s existence (religious, community, vocation, and family).
        • 128: This Psalm continues with the theme of the family and a declaration that the man who walks in the fear and way of the Lord is blessed in the grandest of ways.
          • 129: Presents just the opposite – the person who doesn’t fear God and walk in his ways will not be blessed.

Let’s zoom in closer to 127 and make our way through these four aspects of a person’s life and see what Solomon is saying to his readers and what it means for us. Let’s look at the 1st aspect: Religious aspect.

I.     Religious (1a)

exp.: rd 1a: Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.

ill.: The story of David wanting to build a house for God… 2 Samuel 7;

app.: now, for those readers, yes, they were thinking about the rebuilding of the Temple and the need to trust Yahweh in that endeavor. But for you and me… this is a definite reference to the Messiah and his lineage in 2 Samuel. With this in mind, the Church exists because of the Messiah. 2 Samuel isn’t about a Temple for God so much as it is about the Messiah. God’s Temple is the body of Christ. If you’re a Christian, that’s you and me.

ill.: last week a man was wearing a shirt that said: I don’t go to church. I wasn’t offended exactly but thought he was using his T-shirt to tell those of us who are Christians to leave him alone. That is until I saw the back of his shirt, which read: I am the church. That’s a good point. The church isn’t a building of wood, screws, and drywall. The church is the people. And that’s what we’re ‘building’… we’re building people.

ill.: there is something really interesting here beyond those two highlights, the building and the builder. 3rd, there is a play on those words that you’ll miss in the English but is evident in the Hebrew. In v 1, you see the word build? It is bonim in Hebrew. Do you see v 3, the word Sons (or maybe children)? It is the word banim. The writer is intentionally drawing the reader’s attention to his play on words… they kind of rhyme or sound very close to the same.

That is why I think there is this multiple meaning here. The Temple, The Messiah, this is the religious aspect of a person’s life. For us, that connection (building and sons) creates a thread that weaves its way through this song – it connects the beginning and the end to say that we’re building a building that isn’t a building!

t.s.: Ok, so Solomon goes from that broad aspect and narrows it down to community. And, that’s our 2nd aspect here…

II.    Community (1b)

exp.: rd 1b; Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. This Psalm was chosen because of its connection to the Temple and the City of Jerusalem. Those topics are found throughout other Psalms of Ascent. The city, Jerusalem, is not only where the Temple of God is, but it is also where the people of God are. The People of God are being challenged to trust God for their protection. Remember Ps. 125 where the Psalmist painted a picture of security with the mountains surrounding Jerusalem. And, how the Psalmist declared that those who Trust in Yahweh are like those mountains? He is saying here, once again, don’t trust in the people as much as you trust in the Lord to protect you. Because, if the Lord isn’t watching over you, then putting a man on the wall won’t do you any good!

ill.: There is something truly wonderful about community. Community – a place where you belong, a place where you feel safe, a place where you feel loved.

app.: Does that not describe the church? Again, I don’t mean this building or these facilities. I mean you and me, coming together and creating a safe place, a safe space for believers. A place to grow, a place to invest yourself.

t.s.: Religious Aspect, Community aspect, and 3rd, Solomon narrows this focus down to the individual – and keeping it within context, he’s talking to every single man.

III.   Vocational (2)

exp.: For men, this one hits so close to home. We define ourselves by what we do and who we are. I imagine it was the same for those men. Think about it. When men meet each other, what do they ask? What do you do for a living? Look at what Solomon is saying to these men: rd v 2: It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

It is vanity for the one who builds the Lord’s house without the Lord. It is vanity for the one who watches over his community without the Lord. It is vanity that a man works restlessly – long, hard hours to provide bread for his family. A man should work hard, but only while trusting in the Lord – not in what is produced by the work of his own hands. He needs to find time to rest. Resting is trusting.

ill.: do you know where we first read about rest? Gen 2 – when God rested. The 4th commandment is about rest. But, think about this for a moment. This rest isn’t about you. Maybe that’s why most men don’t obey that commandment. I don’t need to rest. That’s because you’re being selfish. You’re thinking about you. The commandment is: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it … holy. The passage continues: the 7th day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Resting isn’t so much about you.

app.: he blessed the 7th day. He made it holy. He rested on it as an example for you to follow. Then he commanded you to not work 7 days a week. Work is good. Hard work is good, but it isn’t everything. And for sure, it doesn’t define who you are – at least it shouldn’t. Think about this: if you’re working 7 days a week, then you’re not trusting God – you’re trusting yourself. And the whole point of v2 is about bringing glory to God through your work.

t.s.: your religion, your community, your work, and finally, your family.

IV.    Familial (3-5)

exp.: Obviously, the largest part of this passage focuses in on the family. I would say this about that: if you’re looking at building a house – that is, a line, a heritage (v1), then you’d start with the family. The family is the backbone from which these other aspects find meaning and purpose. If you’re wanting each of these other areas to be strong and healthy, consider the family first.

  • Dad, what are you without your family? Take me for instance: would you want me to still be your pastor if I abandoned my wife? If I abandoned my family? If I abandoned my work and ministry. If I abandoned the community?
  • What kind of employee are you if your family is falling apart? Boss, what kind of employee do you have if his family is falling apart? Don’t men focus in on their work better when the home fires are burning as they should?
  • Isn’t our community better and stronger when our families are better, healthier, and stronger? Show me a community where the average household is missing a father and I’ll show you a community with lots of crime and poverty. I’m not meaning to berate families missing fathers or be hateful or spiteful toward communities or demographic groups who have a higher percentage of single-parent homes. That’s not what I’m saying here. But, I am asking you to compare those communities with other communities where fathers are involved in the life of their family and in the life of their community. And, in the life of their church.

app.: Consider Solomon’s words: rd v3-5; Families are truly blessings upon every other aspect of our society. And can I be bold enough to add here – that it starts with dads, husbands?

t.s.: Do you remember the title, who wrote this Psalm? Yeah, Solomon.

Conclusion: Of Solomon. If you read his story though, He didn’t heed his own counsel. His lineage didn’t follow the Lord. More of his descendant kings rejected God than followed God. His marriages were not what God had designed and purposed for him. His foreign wives and concubines led his heart astray to chase after foreign gods. Here you have the wisest, richest man who ever lived and he didn’t follow his own teaching.

Do you know what is the difference between Wisdom and Foolishness? It is simply this: what one does with the information they have.

Application: This can be disappointing. You work hard at family, only to find out that life has been beating you and he’s been playing with his left hand! So, what would I have you take away with you today?

  1. Your family dynamic doesn’t mean so much as your family devotion. God is sovereign over every aspect of your life – even your failures. So don’t feel sorry for yourself for past mistakes or experiences. Don’t use yesterday as an excuse to not follow God today. Single parent, Single adult?
    1. Single parent. That’s ok, you still can teach your children to trust God.
    2. Single adult. Practice now what you know to be right and don’t surrender your principles and standards. And that goes for male or female.
  2. Vanity, Vanity, Vanity. Solomon is giving this warning so that we’ll work hard to do what is right. Listen, it can be so hard to begin trusting the Lord. But, it really does get easier the more you do it. Start today.
    1. It starts when you give your life to him.
    2. It continues as you trust and follow him.
    3. It grows as you repent of times you fail.
  3. Consider ways that you can bless your community. HOA? Community party/Block party;
  4. Are you getting the rest you need? Sure your business and your work are important. But take an honest assessment of yourself and your life. Remember, no one lays on their deathbed and wishes they had spent more time working.
  5. This should lead us to worship. We need the Lord. The understanding of our desperate need for God and our utter dependence on him should lead us to Worship.

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Filed under 2 Samuel, Family, Psalms, Psalms of Ascent, Scripture, Sermon

Service for Scotty Calhoun

Service for Scotty Calhoun

20 April 2018

 

Song: He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands played over the speaker system

Prayer & Scripture Reading: Psalm 121

Psalm 121: I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Eulogy/Obituary: Mr. Scott Calhoun (Scotty), 58 of Tyler, passed away Tuesday, April 17, 2018 in Tyler. He was born October, 16, 1959 in Tyler to Sammy Joe Calhoun and Martha Gentry Calhoun.

Scott was a member of Calvary Baptist Church, Tyler, TX (I was told that Scotty and his family were the 1st folks to join Calvary when Calvary relocated to its currently location. That they actually drove downtown to the old facility just for the purpose of joining, knowing they were moving south to Old Jacksonville Hwy. The Obituary reads that Scotty lived at Breckenridge Village of Tyler.

Scott was preceded in death by parents, uncle, Paul Gentry, grandparents, Joe and Gladys Gentry and Park and Jessie Calhoun. He is survived by his loving family including his uncle, Bill Gentry and wife Peggy of Lewisville; aunt, Alice Arnett and husband Don of Emmet, AR; cousins, Sherry DiPatri, Dick Gentry, Teresa Klembara, Lisa Ormsbee, Linda Aull, Kathie Cobb and Cindy Allen; and numerous friends from Breckenridge Village of Tyler.

Prayer by Pastor Fred

Song: Nearer, My God, to Thee

 Message: Psalm 139.13-18

This afternoon we’ve come together to celebrate. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there is mourning at the loss of Scotty Calhoun. But there is celebration, too. Why? Why is there celebration?

  1. We celebrate God’s incredible love for us.

Psalm 139 is a Psalm of Praise, which highlights the wonderful works of God. They’re really too incredible to actually wrap our minds around.

        O Lord, you have searched me and known me!

                        You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

you discern my thoughts from afar.

                        You search out my path and my lying down

and are acquainted with all my ways.

                        Even before a word is on my tongue,

behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

                        You hem me in, behind and before,

and lay your hand upon me.

                        Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

it is high; I cannot attain it.

Consider how God knows us. He knows the simple things and the complex things. He understands what we’re thinking before we even form the words to say.

ill.: When I would visit with Martha and Scotty, I have to say, there were times I didn’t understand what Scotty was saying or what he wanted. Not with Martha, she would know and she would ‘translate’ for me or explain to me what was going on. I have to say, her wisdom and experience were invaluable. She knew Scotty so well.

Do you ever wonder about your own life? Does God truly understand? Does he really know? Let me encourage you today and say yes! Even better than a mom knows her child, even deeper than a wife knows her husband, God’s knowledge of you and your life is mind blowing: v6 reads: Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

Transition: We gather here today to celebrate God’s incredible love us. We also gather to celebrate God’s incredible grace toward us.

  1. We celebrate God’s incredible grace toward us.

Read with me Psalm 139.7-12; Where shall I go from your Spirit?

Or where shall I flee from your presence?

        If I ascend to heaven, you are there!

If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

        If I take the wings of the morning

and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

10         even there your hand shall lead me,

and your right hand shall hold me.

11         If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,

and the light about me be night,”

12         even the darkness is not dark to you;

the night is bright as the day,

for darkness is as light with you.

Consider then, according to the Psalmist, that wherever we go or wherever we are, God is with us. You’re never alone. Sam and Martha had an incredible plan. Sam worked while he was alive and Martha carried it over to completion. They were watching out for their boy. I feel positive they knew pretty much everything about his coming and going. And, they made sure that when they were gone, there would be someone watching over him, too. But, as believers, they knew that God was watching over him. There is no place on earth he could go that would ever take him out of God’s care.

As a preacher, my concern would be that you know this amazing principle, too. God’s Holy Spirit, once it enters us upon the invitation of the heart, never leaves us. There is no place you can go where God is not there with you also. I know, that is a double negative, but it just doesn’t sound the same worded differently. If you don’t know Christ, my plea would be that you would.

Transition: We’re here today to celebrate God’s incredible love for us, his incredible grace toward us and thirdly…

  1. We celebrate this wonderful life that God has given us.

13         For you formed my inward parts;

you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

14         I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;

my soul knows it very well.

15         My frame was not hidden from you,

when I was being made in secret,

intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

16         Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when as yet there was none of them.

17         How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

18         If I would count them, they are more than the sand.

                                       I awake, and I am still with you.

This part of the passage focuses on the word formed.

  • You formed my inward parts
  • Your eyes saw my unformed substance

Even before the sperm and the egg came together to create the first cell known as us, God knew us. God saw us before we came to be. That is mind blowing! He formed our inward parts together. Get that, now, intentionally forming every part of us to make us who we are. And we’re perfect the way God makes us.

There is more here, though, consider this third use of the word formed:

  • That all of my days (and your days) were formed for me (and for you), and written down in God’s book before even my (or your) first day came to be.

There is a scene in the Matrix where Neo goes to visit the oracle. The oracle says to Neo – don’t worry about the vase. He turns to look for the vase and bumps it. It falls and breaks. He apologizes for breaking the vase and she says: I told you not to worry about it. Then, she says: What’s really going to cook your noodle later is: would you still have broken it if I hadn’t said anything.

Did you know nothing is going to happen to you today that God doesn’t already know about?

Ill.: I had plans to be at the San Antonio Zoo today. My wife and I were invited home for a family get together, that our family has every Easter. This was the closest weekend when the most of us could be there together. Think about this, now: I made plans to be at the San Antonio Zoo. But while I was making those plans, God knew where I’d be and what I’d be doing.

Have you ever heard the quip: if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

Are you someone who questions God’s plan for your life? I hope you won’t and I hope you don’t. Because we never know why things happen the way they do.

I’m often time confounded by the world’s smartest people who will spend millions of dollars to send a probe into space to look for life out there on Mars or some other remote part of the Universe. And yet, these same smart people will not choose life when it comes to people who aren’t like them. They miss the fact that we’re all made the way we’re made for God’s glory.

Did you know that in the last 30 years, the life expectancy of someone born with Down syndrome has increased from 25 years to 55 years. Medical advances have created the possibility where babies can be born without heart defects, colon and intestinal problems, cleft lips and cleft palates. Surgery can actually be done in the womb and there are no physical scars when the child is born! And still, with all of these technological and medical advances, the smart people out there are working to stop these children from ever being born. And worse, there is a movement to end their lives prematurely.

States are moving at an alarming rate to approve euthanasia for those whose lives are lived outside of the ‘normal’ boundaries.

Listen, God’s blessings come in all shapes and sizes. Most of the blessings we receive are from those gifts we would have never expected.

I want to take this moment before I close to give a shout out to Breckenridge Village and the wonderful people who work there. You folks are the best. May the Lord continue to bless your ministry to our families! Do you let youth groups and volunteers come help? What a great mission project for your church. What an opportunity to pull out your check book and donate to a Christian Cause that truly blesses others.

Closing:

Once upon a time, there was a farmer in the central region of China. He didn’t have a lot of money and, instead of a tractor, he used an old horse to plow his field.

One afternoon, while working in the field, the horse dropped dead. Everyone in the village said, “Oh, what a horrible thing to happen.” The farmer said simply, “We’ll see.”

He was so at peace and so calm, that everyone in the village got together and, admiring his attitude, gave him a new horse as a gift.

Everyone’s reaction now was, “What a lucky man.” And the farmer said, “We’ll see.”

A couple days later, the new horse jumped a fence and ran away. Everyone in the village shook their heads and said, “What a poor fellow!”

The farmer smiled and said, “We’ll see.”

Eventually, the horse found his way home, and brought with him another horse that had been out in the wilderness. Everyone again said, “What a blessed man.” He lost his horse and now he has two!

The farmer said, “We’ll see.”

The farmer’s son went out to break and train the new horse when he was thrown and broke his leg. Everyone in the village said, “What a shame for the poor boy.”

The farmer said, “We’ll see.”

Two days later, the army came into the village to draft new recruits. When they saw that the farmer’s son had a broken leg, they decided not to recruit him.

Everyone said, “What a fortunate young man.”

The farmer smiled again – and said, “We’ll see.”

Moral of the story: We have no idea what the circumstances we find ourselves in today will be for us tomorrow. There’s no use in overreacting to the events and circumstances of our everyday lives. We must trust that God has “formed our days” and written them down in his book – before even one of those days came to be. We must trust that God is going to glorify himself in and through our lives. And we have evidence of his goodness in the life of Scotty Calhoun. We are better people because we knew him. Both he and his family have profoundly influenced our lives for the good.

Prayer:

Song: How Great Thou Art

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WHAT EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW…

Title: What every child should know… because his or her father taught it to them.

Text: Genesis 12-50

Introduction: We’re in the midst of a sermon series entitled His Story. His Story spans the length of the entire Bible. Every little story, from the story of creation all the way through to the prophecy in Revelation, is about Jesus.

We began with a look at creation and it’s perfection. Adam and Eve enjoyed a relationship… no, a fellowship with the Father that we can only dream about. No hindrance, no deception, no confusion, no struggle, no sin. In the perfection of the garden there was a state of existence that you and I can only imagine. But that perfection was interrupted with the decision on the part of both Adam and Eve to believe the lie of the devil. Their actions would destroy that perfection. And, there would be a quest by humanity to seek that utopia from then on… Last week, we looked at life in the fall. Honestly, we’re still living life in the fall, but the circumstances have changed a little.

After the flood, God scattered the people and confused their language. We meet those folks in chapter 10 of Genesis which is known as the Table of Nations. Chapter 11 explains it the story of the Tower of Babel. As the people are scattered, they move throughout the Mesopotamian World and settle in various places. After 10 generations beginning with Shem, we meet Abram – henceforth called Abraham. At the end of chapter 11 and continuing all the way through Genesis, we get the stories of the Patriarchs. There is:

  • Abraham. He is a father with many sons, but it is his son with Sarah
  • Isaac, who will carry on the line. Isaac becomes a father of two sons, Esau and
  • Jacob, who is the younger. Jacob will carry on the lineage of Abraham as chosen by God.
  • Jacob will have 12 sons, who in essence will become the nation of Israel. One son, Levi, will become a tribe of priests and so won’t be numbered with the nations as a tribe. One son, Joseph, will then have two sons who will take their places. Their names are Manasseh and Ephraim.

Each of these 12 sons will father many other sons and daughters. Etc. Etc. Etc. 400 years later, you have the descendants of Israel who live in Egypt as slaves. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Today, I want to talk to you about fathers.

1st, it is Father’s Day and this message just happens to coincide with the date.

2nd, this section is about fathers. Namely, these guys: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Gad, Joseph and Benjamin. That’s a lot of fathers to look at in one sermon. So, here’s what I’ve decided to do: I’ve decided to list, “What every child should learn from their father!”

Two Caveats:

  1. This list isn’t exhaustive. It is just a list I’ve gathered from these stories.
  2. I know not everyone has a father. What I mean by that is not every man who sires a child is a daddy. Some of us become orphans for different reasons. Some Dad’s die, some leave. Fathers are special because of who they are and what they do. Today, we’re in Genesis 12-50 where we’ll meet the patriarchs or forefathers to the Hebrew Children. I’m taking these lessons from them and from our Heavenly Father who gives the best example of what a daddy should be.

So let’s get started: the first bit of information a child gathers from his or her father should lead them to say…

  1. I am loved

exp.: John 3.16; Romans 5.8; 1 Jn 3.1 – See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. Deut. 10.15 – 15 Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Jn 16.27 says, …the Father himself loves you. There are countless verses and examples of the Father’s love for you.

In Scripture, God chose a man named Abraham to father his people. Abraham remained childless for many years; however, his brother died and so he took his nephew in as his own. Abraham brought him with him when God called him to leave his country and kindred and go to a place God had planned to give to his descendants.

In Genesis 13 and 14, tensions begin to grow between Abraham and Lot. It just seemed like there wasn’t enough pastureland for both families. Rd 13.5-11; Abraham’s actions toward his nephew are righteous and demonstrate the love of God. God then blesses Abraham in the same manner that Abraham just did with Lot; rd v 14-17; As Abraham had demonstrated his love toward Lot, God, in turn, demonstrates his love to Abraham, giving him the land as far as the eye can see.

app.: Here is then a good application that we see in a good father…A good father gives good gifts. It isn’t so much that gifts are given, but rather that when these gifts are given, they are good gifts. They are good because they good for your child – they make your child better and they demonstrate your love for your child.

Transition: Every child should know they are loved because their father has demonstrated that love toward them. Let me say, that each point from here on out is an extension of that love. For example: 2ndly, every child should know they are safe.

  1. I am safe

ill.: Some years ago, I was headed to bed and Lisa asked, “Am I safe? It was a good question. So, I started a ritual with her of when I’d go to bed, I would ensure the house was closed up and locked.

One night, not too long ago, Anna Grace was afraid. I don’t remember why exactly, but Lisa told her of my job to make sure the family was safe and how I made my rounds to ensure everything was locked up tight. Out of curiosity (or maybe just to put off going to bed for a couple of minutes longer) she asked if she could accompany me on my rounds. Sometimes, she still likes to accompany me, but mostly she just asks if we’re safe. She asks because she knows that’s my job… to keep them safe and to make them feel protected.

Some of you might not agree with this, but I’ve shown my girls the guns I have and the rifles and shotguns, too. They know those weapons are locked away, but within my reach should the need arise. My girls know that I would use them to defend them. I pray that never happens – that I never have to…

exp.: this very thing happens to Abraham in Genesis 14. Abraham’s nephew, who was more like a son to him, had been kidnapped by an army from the north. Abraham covered a lot of territory in Israel and up to Syria to rescue Lot from this enemy. Rd 14.11-14; rd v 15-16;

Dan Gate

Photo of the Gates of Dan at the time of Abraham (cf.: Gen.14:14)

Transition: While we can’t always guarantee safety, we can always fight for our kids… grandkids. We can take steps to make sure they’re safe: look the doors, set the alarm, buckle their seatbelts and car seats, etc. This communicates to them that they are loved and protected.

Thirdly, every child should know that whatever they go through, a good father will always do his best to go through it with them.

  1. I am never alone in this:

exp.: in Gen 28 Jacob is forced to flee to his mother’s homeland. It is the land Abraham and Sarah came from and it is the land Isaac got his wife, Rebecca from; And, because God worked it this way, it is the land from which his wives would come from. I said Jacob fled to his mother’s homeland. The ploy was to find a wife. The truth is that his brother Esau wanted to kill him – And you can blame their mother for that! Rebecca would have to send her son away for his own safety – if you read through the stories, you find that she dies before he comes back. She never sees her son again. We pick up the story in 28.10. rd 10-11; This place is the place Abraham stayed and built an altar when he came into the land. rd 12-15; I will not leave you. What a promise!

ill.: God will make this promise to many of his children throughout the generations; Moses, Joshua, In Hebrews we read it as a promise to us… His Children today.

app.: And we as fathers make this same sort of promise to our kids. I want you to know that I’m here for you. Yes, there will be journeys you must take without me – but I’m here for you. I’ll be the wind beneath your wings. I’ll be your loudest cheerleader. I will give advice and counsel if you ask for it and as long as you’re following the Lord, You can count on me to go through whatever you’re going through, too.

Transition: which leads me to the next statement that every child should know because of their father

  1. I don’t have to worry about things…. He’s got it covered. Father’s provide for their children. At least they should. I’m not talking about a check in the mail. I’m not talking about provision of goods alone. What I’m talking about is an everyday thing. In Genesis 30, God provides for Jacob by causing him to prosper. He did the same for Abraham. When he went out to rescue Lot, it says he gathered the men who worked for him and his household. He led forth his trained men, men who were born to his household – 318 men. In Genesis 30, Laban does everything he can to thwart the growth and prosperity of Jacob, but God isn’t deterred. We’ll see the same with Joseph.

David will compose a beautiful song about the Father’s provision for his children. He will write: I once was young, but now I am old. And I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor his children begging for bread. God knows how to care for his children and give them good gifts.

I think of the times I needlessly worried my kids about things that were too big for them. Come to think of it…I shouldn’t have been worried myself, because God has given me a great record of faithfulness to hang my hat on. Would you say the same thing? Where are my young men and women here this morning? Trust God! He is faithful.

Turn to Gen. 50.15; rd 15-17; funny how they bring God up; rd v 18-21; when you consider God is sovereign, let me ask you children, what do you really need to worry about? In Gen 15, Abraham was told that he would have a son and a nation would come from his line. Furthermore, he said they would be sojourners in a land that wasn’t their own, but it would all be ok, because after 400 years, God would bring them back to this land where Abraham was listening to God speak.

That text says in v 1-6 that God took Abraham outside and gave him a visual aid. God told Abraham to look out at the stars and to count them if he could. Then God said, “So shall your offspring be.” And the amazing part of Abraham’s story is that he believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.

Ill.: one of my favorite war stories is about a couple of buddies who were in a horrible battle. One of the men went down when he was critically wounded. His buddy started to move out into the open to retrieve his friend. Another soldier grabbed him and said, “What are you doing? He’s critically injured. He’s gonna die anyway!” The friend pulled away and went out into the open, dodging bullets to get his friend and pull him back to safety. When he had pulled his friend back out of the fire, the soldier yelled at him, “See he’s dead… you risked your life for nothing! Was it worth it?”

“Yes, it was. When I got there he said, “I knew you would come.”

I think learning not to worry is born out of the faithfulness of the one you trust. As daddies, we learn that from the faithfulness of our father – and our children and grandchildren learn it from us…

Transition: I am loved, I am safe, I am never alone, I don’t have to worry about this and #5…

  1. I am forgiven.

Your child should know the grace of God in your life. If you’re perfect, well then, you don’t need the grace of God. But, if you’re like me, if you’ve failed time and again, then demonstrate grace for them.

I see this happening in two ways:

  • When you’ve blown it as a parent, go to them and ask them to forgive you. As fathers we have disciplined without knowing the full extent of the problem. We’ve divvied up and doled out punishment unfairly and without ‘due justice’. To be honest, sometimes the punishment did not fit the crime. Man, I’ve beaten myself up over this particular one. That’s why your children need you to go in and get down on their level and apologize when you’ve been wrong or when you’ve wronged them. That’s one way they learn grace. But there’s another and it is even harder for a dad to teach by example.
  • If you have sinned and they’ve witnessed it, let them see your need for repentance and the grace of God at work in your struggle. This one is really tough. Most of us don’t want to admit this. We’d rather call it something other than sin. But if your language was less than exemplary, if your actions were dishonorable, if you mistreated someone with your actions or your words, if you hit your hand and used a word… not found in the dictionary – your kids need to see your repentance and confession toward God. I’m not saying confess all of your sins to them. Don’t tell your children all of your nasty failures. But here is your gage, your standard – your repentance needs to be as public as your sin. No, your kid doesn’t need to know everything. We don’t need to know everything. If you’ve sinned only against God – then let your repentance be only to God.

The greatest gift that our Heavenly Father has given to us is the gift of forgiveness found in His Son; 1 Jn 1.9 says, if we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and purify us from all unrighteousness. Your children will learn this truth when they see it demonstrated in your life.

Transition: and this goes so well with my last statement…

  1. I have a better understanding of who God is because of who my dad was.

ill.: in “Confession of a Part-time Mom”, Lara Bazelon explains why divorce suits her and having shared custody gives her a bit of a refresher when her two little kids are with their dad. In some respects I understand where she is coming from: as parents we all get tired. But in other respects, it saddens me. I read her article and was saddened – not for her, but for her kids (Yeah, maybe her a little, but more so for her children).

I don’t think Ms. Bazelon understands what being a parent is all about. There are goals in parenthood – at least there are supposed to be – that go way beyond the selfish tendencies we all have. I’m not saying you don’t need a break from your kids. I’m sure you do. In her article she says that at the end of 5 days she is fed up with them and ready for their father to pick them up. And, when they’re gone 5 days, she is refreshed, but getting lonely and missing them.

The purpose in rearing children isn’t to fix a loneliness you have. The purpose in rearing children and being a parent isn’t so that those kids will serve you. Children don’t exist simply for our pleasure – although, they do bring us great pleasure. My dad used to tell me to be quiet. Children are to be seen and not heard. And sometimes, not even seen. Children aren’t simply used to get you the remote or something out of your reach. Get off your lazy… can I say that in a sermon?

Did you know though, that your presence and activity in your kid’s life demonstrates the presence of God? Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t ship you off every five days?

  • Your love demonstrates the love of God.
  • Your presence demonstrates the presence of God.
  • Your patience demonstrates the patience of god.
  • Your care demonstrates the care of God.

Here’s the simple application: It makes it so much easier for a child to grasp our heavenly father when they have a good earthly father as an example. And, the converse is true, as well. A poor example of a father can turn the hearts of children away from God.

Fathers, your marriage is a picture of the Gospel that your kids will see – and hopefully hold in high regard. Dads, when you work through your relationships as struggles come, you’re teaching your kids about loyalty, faithfulness and what is truly important. You’re teaching them that love is unconditional. You’re teaching them about God. Your kids will learn more about God through your behavior then they ever will learn about God through what you say.

As we look at these dads… Isaac and Jacob, and the 12 brothers, we see men who didn’t always behave the way fathers should. We see favoritism. We see manipulation. In these men, we get a lot of bad examples – probably more bad examples than good!

Conclusion: Sometimes I think to myself, it is too late for me. For the most part, my kids are grown and gone. But it really is never too late to let your kids know they are loved, to let them know you’re there for them – in whatever way you can best help them. Isn’t that a true demonstration of what God does for us?

Let’s pray.

God is our example of a good, good father. Invitation.

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