Sermon for Sunday August 29th, 2010

 


Our Legacy of Hope Begins at Home by David Ferguson

Psalms 127:1-127:3

Our Legacy of Hope Begins at Home

Introduction: Recognize the longest married couple in the service and possibly the
newest married couple. (Perhaps distribute a special gift of some kind)

A question for married couples: For those of us who are married, what hope do we have that our marriage will last? What hope do we have that we will “finish strong”’? What should we count on—or hope in, so that our marriage is full of passion and intimacy?

The headlines are filled with stories of unfaithfulness and marital discord. So what
lessons can we learn from legendary sports heroes, political figures and movie stars that seem to have it all, but can’t seem to make their marriage last?

What do the stars of Hollywood or the politicians of Washington hope in? What are they counting on? I wonder if their hope of marital success was misplaced? How about yours and mine?

A question for parents: For those of us who are parents or grand-parents: What hope do we have that our children will stand by their faith? Live by their values? What are you counting on? What are you hoping in—that will produce relationally
healthy, followers of Jesus? (Proverbs 22:6)

We certainly can’t hope for perfect children, because our children are just like us: imperfect people. They make their own decisions and just like us, some of those choices are good ones and some of them are not! Could you join with me in this hope?

• Our children are more influenced and shaped by their parents and by their
faith—than by the world.
• Our teens, remain open to our input and continue to be open about the details of
their physical, emotional and spiritual life.
• Our adult children want to be around us and we regularly enjoy being around
them!

Some of us may also champion the simple, but profound hope that our current family could be a little healthier, or a little more functional than our childhood.
When we consider the worldwide tragedies of family violence and neglect,
abuse and fragmentation – We’ve got to ask the question: Is the hope for our
families in the right place?

A question for teens and single adults: If we were to ask, the vast majority of you
would say that you hope for a life-long soul mate and committed marriage relationship, but many of you would settle for much less. The rise of co-habitation, frequency of divorce, having children outside of marriage and “hooking up” are all signs that the hope for life-long commitment often gets terribly lost.

Is your hope for an abundantly satisfying, life-long marriage just a fantasy or could
it be, God’s hope for you? Again, lessons from the Psalmist give us wisdom to ground our hopes in confidence for the future. Let’s read what many refer to as, “The Homebuilding” Psalm – Psalms 127:1-3.

The Lord is Our Hope For a Blessed Marriage and Family “Unless the Lord builds the house they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain” (Psalm 12 7:1).

The Lord is in the homebuilding business. He builds heavenly homes (John
14:1-3), church homes (Matthew 16:16-18) and earthly homes!

Married couples: Consider God’s wisdom— “Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church...” (Ephesians 5:25). And “let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33).

Parents: Consider God’s wisdom—”Do not provoke or exasperate your children ...”(Ephesians 6:4).

Teenagers and singles: Consider the encouragement of II Timothy 2:22—”Run away from youthful indulgence. Run after mature righteousness—faith, love, peace—joining those who are in honest and serious prayer before God.”

Our homebuilding Psalm reminds us that there are only two kinds of homes being built: Those the Lord builds and those being built in vain— the homes and families built with emptiness. Consider how life events have recently exposed the vanity – or the emptiness of celebrity marriages. They looked good on the
outside, but painful emptiness and betrayal was just below the surface.

Colossians 3:16 Preparation: “Let the word of Christ dwell richly in you.”

Pastor, take time now to allow the Lord to remind you of a “wake-up” call you received from the Lord—a time when you realized your home priorities were out of balance. Recall a time when emptiness or vanity was creeping into your home. Consider sharing this with your congregation as a testimony of humility and dependence upon the Lord as our hope.

“I remember the time that the Lord got my attention about our family …”

It is the Lord who both builds and guards our homes. Countless enemies are trying to destroy God-honoring relationships. The Lord is our only true hope for faithfulness.

You see, it’s not just today’s celebrities who have failed to “hope in the Lord” for their marriages and families, this problem has been around a long time:

Remember King David? He was named, “a man after God’s own heart” yet we can read of his marriage betrayal with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:1-2).

Remember Abraham, the Old Testament Patriarch? Abraham, was named the “friend of God”. He failed to protect his wife, Sarah when life’s pressures came closing in. He chose instead to lie and take the easy way out (Genesis 12:10-20).

Allowing the Lord to build and guard your home, means more than just a token acknowledgement of Him or His principles. It requires a commitment to live out His blueprints for your family.

The Bible is the Lord’s blueprint for your family. God lets us know how to have a blessed marriage and family. Part of His plans are about:

Communicating in Families: Proverbs 15:1 and Ephesians 4:15
When Someone Messes Up in a Family: I John 1:9 and James 5:16
When Someone is Hurting in a Family: II Corinthians 1:2-4 and Matthew 5:4

Relationships are Our Hope of Life Abundance
“It is vain to rise up early and retire late” (Psalm 127:2).

The barrenness and emptiness of a busy life has stolen much of the closeness from relationships and families today. Recent talk show hosts have seen the need to invite experts to help families slow down, unplug and communicate with one another. Even secular experts have seen the need for relationships to
take priority.

Marriages, families, and friendships are our hope for a meaningful life.

Life fulfillment and abundance is NEVER ultimately found in what we acquire, accomplish or achieve. It’s only found in the loving intimacy with God and others.

The home the Lord builds is a home where people are the priority!

• Could you take initiative this week to make a quick phone call or short text, just
to communicate with your spouse, family member or friend: “I was thinking about
you; I miss seeing you; I look forward to seeing you soon”? You might be amazed at how a few minutes of thoughtful initiative can deepen a relationship.

• Could you develop a habit of giving first? This week, why don’t you look for ways
to share words of encouragement and appreciation, offering comfort and support? Start each day with an attitude of “Who will I give to today?”

• For married couples: Set up a weekly time to talk. Some call it a Marriage Staff Meeting (visit www.beacommunityofhope.com to download free Marriage Staff Meeting ideas....you will need to register and then start downloading for FREE) This is the time where you can plan your next date night, discuss marriage & family goals, or communicate about parenting challenges.

• For parents: Try designating a family night this week. This is a time where
fun, games and laughter deepen the connections between family members.

Use a video segment - visit www.beacommunityofhope.com for video download - you will need to register and then you can download the video for FREE

There is a special film coming to theaters on April 9th. Letters to God shows a boy named Tyler and his battle with cancer. While Tyler’s family struggles to accept his diagnosis, hope is inspired through his letters to God! Let’s watch a clip from Letters to God that shows how God and the priority of relationships can bring hope to the most difficult circumstance. This scene reminds us that when we’re facing hardships, nothing can be more valuable than the support of a close friend.

Life fulfillment and abundance is NEVER found in what we acquire, accomplish
or achieve. It’s only found in the loving intimacy with God and others.

Children are Our Hope-Filled Heritage
“Behold children are gifts from the Lord” (Psalm 127 3).

Each year, for almost a decade, national marriage and family leaders from across the U.S. have gathered at the Chick—Fil— A Winshape retreat center outside of Rome, Georgia for a Marriage CoMission Summit (www.marriagecomission.com).

The goal for these gatherings and subsequent actions is to: Inspire the created desire of men and women for life-long healthy marriages, equipping them to lead strong families and lead hope-filled children.

Could this be the vision of the parents in this room?
Could this be the vision of anyone who interacts with the children of this church? Could this be the vision of anyone who ministers to a child?
Could we be equipped to inspire hope-filled children?

Let’s examine this vision for hope-filled children. What would it look like to see
children who are filled with hope? It would mean that our children wouldn’t be filled
with self-centeredness, arrogant pride or self-condemnation, but instead with a
hope-filled faith in the Lord.

Our children’s faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). As parents, we can not make our children receive our faith. Each child must live out his or her own faith journey … but we can instill in our children the hope that we have in our Lord. It is this hope that can blossom into a child’s personal faith. This is the incredible opportunity we have as parents, building our homes as the Lord leads.

Look around the room, (and without scaring any of the children) imagine each child as an extravagant gift. Imagine that God has given us individually wrapped presents. He’s laid before us, packages that have brightly colored paper, uniquely tied ribbons and beautiful bows. Parents, if you have more than one child in your family, imagine each gift and how it is uniquely packaged & carefully displayed.

Here’s an important challenge and valuable opportunity to instill hope in our preciously wrapped gifts:

• Have you slowed down long enough, to turn aside, enter each child’s world and
“unwrap” each gift?
• Have you stopped, noticed and admired the special way in which each child is
wired? Have you stopped, noticed and admired each of their personalities,
giftedness and character?

Encountering Christ
I’d like for everyone to take a moment and pray. Pause to imagine yourself standing before a child, your children—your gifts from the Lord. Each gift is uniquely packaged, preciously wrapped and carefully presented. Now as you admire your gifts from the Lord, you look over your shoulder, to see Jesus standing next to you. Jesus leans in to look at the children and seems to gaze in awe of His creation. Speaking with the admiration of the Master Creator, Jesus reminds you of how He knows these children intimately; He formed them in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). Jesus reminds you that He notices each part of their day—when they rise up and when they lay down (Psalm 139:1-3). Christ lovingly
recalls how He knows and admires each child’s gifts and talents (Psalm 139:14, 16).

Jesus offers reassurance that He hears each child’s thoughts and intentions and
knows the intricacies of each person’s character (Psalm 139:23). Jesus leaves your side, but before He does, He whispers an invitation: Will you join me in unwrapping these gifts?

Consider how deeply Jesus knows your children. Reflect on His intimate knowledge of each one of them. Now pause to meditate on how He has asked you to join Him in loving the children well. How could we know and love our children the way Jesus does? How could we inspire hope in the children we touch?

• Verbalize Appreciation: Do you really know that each one of your children flourishes on appreciation?

They blossom inside when they hear your acknowledgement of their behavior
and gratitude for their efforts.

• Convey Respect: Did you know that some children are starving for respect?
They crave the moments when you ask their opinion and include them in
decisions. They deeply want to know that you value and honor them as individuals.

• Know Their Fears: Are you aware of your children’s insecurities and fears? Do
you know about the things that make them nervous and the situations that cause them anxiety?

• Discover Dreams: Do you know your children’s dreams and aspirations? Have
you discovered the paths where their imaginations take them?

• Celebrate Strengths: Are you close enough to your children to see each
child’s character strengths? And are you attentive enough to verbalize
those strengths, both in one-on-one conversations and in front of other
people?

• Prioritize Confessions: Apologies instill hope! It’s ironic, but a parent’s
apology sows some of the best “seeds of hope” into a young life: “I’m sorry to be
impatient”’ “I was wrong not to keep my promise.” These humble admissions of
wrong give a child hope that they, too can admit and make amends for their
own imperfections.

Colossians 3:16 Preparation: “Let the word of Christ dwell richly in you.”
Pastor: Think about a recent time of apology to one of your children. You may even want to pause quietly before the Lord and see if a fresh apology might be needed.

Make time to apologize to your child (if needed) and then reflect on how that
apology could have instilled hope within your child. With your child’s permission, share your own testimony of confession and the hope that was conveyed. Consider making this testimony a part of your sermon.

One final way to inspire hope within a child:
• Set Aside Time: Individual, quality time with a child instills hope. When a child
senses that mom or dad sets aside special time just for them, a child’s worth is
affirmed and a sense of hope increased.

When was the last time you enjoyed fun time alone with your son/daughter, doing
something they wanted to do? If it’s been too long, you might reignite their hope
with words like: “Eric, it’s been too long since just you and I had some fun time together. Let’s make plans for Saturday afternoon. You get to choose what
we do!”

Why is this simple action such a good idea? Jesus is a powerful example of leaving His world (of Heaven), to enter into ours. He took initiative to set aside time for us! He didn’t just look out for His own interests, Jesus looked to the interests of others (See Philippians 2:4-8).

As parents and those who care about children, we have a similar opportunity to “think more highly” of our children as we leave the busyness of our adult world and enter the world of our children: So kick a ball, play with Playdoh, let them beat you at a video game, have a tea party, listen to a drum solo, draw together, read together, get a cup of coffee together.

Enter your child’s world, enjoy your gifts from the Lord and pass on a little hope.

Closing story: An elderly gentleman took the stage to talk about some of his business successes. He told about starting his own business and becoming a millionaire at age 21. He told about the ten’s of millions he made and the many businesses he purchased by the age of 30. This successful business man described his private airplanes and extravagant yachts.

Experience the Word:
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15). In closing, let’s pray a prayer that we can be certain is according to God’s will:
God does not want us to take the gifts that He has given for granted. “Receive not the gifts of God in vain” (2 Corinthians 6:1).

• Husbands have been gifted with a wife (Proverbs 18:22).
• Wives can receive their husbands as gifts from above (James 1:17).
• Parents can pause to unwrap their children as gifts from the Lord (Psalm 127:3).

Would you pray this prayer with sincerity?
Pray individually, before the Lord or pray as couples and families. Hold hands with a friend, family member or loved one at the alter and pray:

“Lord, I receive my wife/my husband/my children as gifts from You. I recommit myself to joining You in knowing them deeply and loving them well. Give us a hope filled home as we deepen our faith in You. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. May You continue to build our home. ”