Posts filed under: Sermons

The Promise of Blessing

Last week, we looked at how God promised a Savior at the moment that man fell into sin. God had every right to just pronounce judgment on mankind, but He chose, out of the graciousness of His heart, to make a way of hope and redemption.

As time would move on, we see that God begins putting His plan of redemption in place. We come now to the promise of blessing. In Genesis 12, God calls a man named Abram to follow Him.  God promises blessing to mankind through this man who would come to be known as Abraham. It is this promise of blessing that we want to look at today.

The Promised Child

Genesis 17:15–16

And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”

As Abraham would journey with God by faith, we see in Genesis 17 where God promised one of the greatest gifts to Abraham. God said that Abraham and Sarah would have a son. This seemed impossible as Abraham was close to 100 years old and Sarah was 90 years old – both well past childbearing ages.

About one year from the Genesis 17 meeting between God and Abraham, Sarah would give birth to Isaac. It is easy to look at our situations and circumstances and think that they are just too much… that we’ve missed our opportunity… but God uses this situation to show that NOTHING is impossible for Him.

The Strange Request

While the scene that has been played out so far is one of warmth and encouragement, we see that things take a strange turn in Genesis 22.

The same God that had called Abraham out to follow Him and gave him a child when it was impossible and promised that blessings would come to the world through his line is now saying to sacrifice the promised child.

It is a tragic thing when a parent loses a child. For a parent to be called to willing let go of their child is unthinkable. But that is exactly what we see here. What in the world is God up to? How is the world going to be blessed through the line of Abraham if it does not exist?

We see in Genesis 22:1 that the Bible says God “tested” Abraham. There are times when God will put us to the test. Many times when these tests come they are a test to show where our true loyalty lies. Are we committed to God or to our way?

To be committed to God means that He is who we claim Him to be in our lives – Lord… the one in complete control… the one who gets to say what goes and doesn’t in every single area of our lives. Do we demonstrate this with our actions? Is every word that we say and every action that we take what God desires? Or do we let God have control of only certain areas of our lives? The blessings that our hearts desire come only when we follow the Blesser’s commands.

Abraham obeys

Genesis 22:3

So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

Genesis 22:9–10

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son.

We see that Abraham wastes no time in obeying what God had commanded him. Did he understand what God was going to do? I don’t think so fully. That is the essence of faith though. We like to have all the details laid out before us, but that removes the element of faith.

The Bible tells us that without faith, we cannot please God.

Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Abraham takes Isaac to the mountain that God determines. The boy and his father go up the mountain, and there the unthinkable happens: Abraham prepares to sacrifice his son.

How willing are you to let go and sacrifice your dreams… your plans… your ways? We are trained by our culture to do and have things “your way.” We are told that you are to be your own person. The truth is that we will never experience the blessings that God has for us until we get to the point where we let go of our ways, plans, and dreams. It is at that point that we experience God’s dreams, plans, and ways which are always perfect and for our best.

The Blessing Confirmed

We see that the Lord intervenes in the situation. The angel of the Lord said that it was evident that God truly had Abraham’s heart. Abraham had not held anything back from the Lord. Now there would be nothing to stand in the way from Abraham experiencing the work that God wanted to do in him and through him.

Are there things that you are holding back from the Lord? Are there areas of your life that you have been unwilling to hand over to God? If so, these things are keeping you from experiencing the fullness of what God wants to do in and through you. Why don’t you make a decision today to give God those areas of your life and experience the fullness of Him?

If you choose to do that, you too can experience the blessing of God.

In Genesis 22:15–18, we see that because of Abraham’s willingness to surrender his entire self to God, the promise of blessing was confirmed over him. The truth is that this promise was much greater than Issac. It was only at this point that Abraham fully understood that God had much bigger plans in mind.
In the New Testament, Matthew’s gospel starts out with a human genealogy of Jesus Christ. It traced its way from Jesus all the way back to Abraham. This line went from Abraham through Isaac and brought us Jesus.

We may not always see what God is up to at the moment. We can be assured that He is always working something up for the good of those who follow Him and for His glory. His plans are always much bigger than we could ever expect.

Conclusion

God has always been a God of blessing. He has wanted to see His people live in the midst of His blessing. Some years ago, God promised to an older man that through Him the peoples of the earth would experience the greatest of blessings. We see from Matthew’s gospel that the promise of blessing has been kept. The blessing of God comes through His Son, Jesus Christ, and it is available to all who will receive Him.

As we go about this wonderful Christmas season, are we experiencing the blessing that God promised so long ago? Or are we missing the greatest gift that was ever given?

The Promise of a Savior

There is nothing like the Christmas season. It comes rushing in like a hurricane and overtakes everything. Music. Movies. Even grocery stores. When Christmas comes in, you cannot miss it.

While you cannot miss the presence of the season, it is not that hard to miss what has been known as the “Reason for the Season.” It is not about white chocolate Oreos (even though they are oh so good and should be available all year long). It’s not about Christmas trees, ornaments, lawn decorations, or lights (although I like all of these). It is about the greatest gift in the world. It is the celebration of the birth if the Messiah: Jesus Christ.

Every year, I try to take the congregation that I lead through a series to remind us of the “Reason for the Season.” This year, I am preaching through a series that looks at the promises of Christmas. Over the weeks leading up to Christmas, I will be sharing here a written version of those messages. I welcome feedback and discussion, but mostly hope that they help you focus on Jesus this Christmas season.

The Promise of a Savior

Some of us get irritated when stores begin getting ready for Christmas. It seems like it is earlier and earlier. There are differing opinions as to when getting ready is too soon. When we look at the Bible, one could easily make an argument that God is in favor of an early preparation of Christmas. How can I say that? We see the first promise of Christmas mentioned in the Garden of Eden.

A Promise Broken (Genesis 3:1-7)

When Genesis 3 opens, we are introduced to a new character in the Bible: the serpent. This was a creature that was created as good by God but had been indwelt by Satan himself and used for his ungodly purposes. We see that this serpent has a conversation with Eve and causes her to break her promise to God.

Prior to this conversation that we see, Adam had been told by God to enjoy all of the creation that God had made except one tree – the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:16-17). After God created Eve, it was Adam’s responsibility to share this with her.

We see that as Eve has this conversation with the serpent, she gives in to the temptation and breaks her promise to God. This is what the Bible calls sin – the breaking of God’s laws… disobeying what God has said.

We may be tempted to point a finger at Adam and Eve and say, “How could you do that? You had everything in all of creation, and you went after the one thing that you were told not to!” But how quickly do we see ourselves following Adam and Eve’s ways? How many times do we crave the very things that we are told that we are not to have?

We see that the very first promise that man made to God was broken. The result of this broken promise was judgment. We see that in the rest of the chapter. God shows up and deals with sin.

A Promise Made

As God came and brought judgment upon creation because of the sin that was present, we see an interesting sight. When we hear the word ‘judgment’, we tend to think of negative things. It does not normally compute with our minds that something good might actually come out of a judgment where we are completely in the wrong. God blows everyone’s mind in Genesis 3:14-15.

As God pronounces a curse upon the serpent, He makes a promise in verse 15. This is the first proclamation of the Gospel in creation. God says that He will rise up One that will bruise (or crush) the head of the serpent while he will bruise this One’s heel. It is interesting that the same word is given in action of the One and the serpent. They will deliver equally damaging blows, but the difference is that the One will have the ability to come back from it because He is not a creation. In Genesis 3:15, we have God making a promise to provide a Deliverer from the sin that has brought about the judgments of God on us.

A Promise Kept

If we fast-forward to Matthew 1:20-21, we will see that God keeps His promise. In this verse, we see an angel of the Lord coming to Joseph and telling him not to hesitate in taking Mary to be his bride. The child that she is carrying is the promise that God had made in the Garden of Eden. This “seed” would be the One who would save people from their sins.

God is not in the business of breaking promises. If God has made a promise, you can take it to the bank that He will make good on it. The promise might not come in the timing that we would want, but it will always come right on time.

We can celebrate this Christmas season in knowing that God is a promise-keeping God. He sent His Son, Jesus, into this world to redeem us from the sin that we were guilty of. God did not weigh the scales and say, “I didn’t realize there was going to be THIS much sin.” God did not look at the types of sin and say, “I’m not sure about taking care of THAT sin.”

God showed His great love to us by saying to all who have sin – many or few, big or small – “I love you… this gift of salvation is for you.”

This Christmas season, my prayer for you is that you might experience the fullness of the gift that God gave to the world that first Christmas morning. If you have never received this gift of forgiveness and a new life through Christ, then you can today by surrendering your will and life to Christ.

4 Hopes From the Rapture

rapture

There may be one event that Christians are looking forward to more than any other.  It is an event that is called the rapture.  This event in history is unlike anything that has ever taken place.  This event takes place as Jesus keeps His promise to return and take every believer to be with Him for eternity.  What an event!

While this may be one of the most anticipated moments in all of history, it has shocked some to find out that the term “rapture” cannot be found in the Bible.  If the term “rapture” is not found in the Bible, why do we expect it so much?  We look forward to this event because while the term “rapture” is not found in the Bible, the teaching of the rapture is all over the New Testament.  It is interesting that the terms “Trinity” and “missionary” are also not found in the Bible, but the teaching of both of these terms is saturated throughout the Bible.

The term “rapture” actually comes from the Latin term rapio meaning “to seize or to carry away.” One of the clearest references to this event is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.  It is this event that brings great hope to the people of God.  I want to look at four “hopes” that the rapture brings to those who trust in God.

4 Hopes of the Rapture

  1. The hope of reuniting.

At the rapture event, there is a great reunion that takes place. First (and foremost) there will be a reuniting with our Savior face-to-face.  Can you imagine it?  In the blink of an eye, all of our hopes and questions about Christ will be revealed and made plain.  I know that it has not been common practice of a Baptist to dance, but I just have to believe that there will be a little “cutting of the rug” going on at this moment.  We will see Jesus face to face and experience His fullness like never before.

If that weren’t enough, the Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 that we will be reunited with loved ones who have gone on before us into glory.  I’m sure that we all have someone who has been dear to us that we have had to let go far too early. The beautiful hope that a Christian has is that there is never a “good-bye” for believers.  It is simply a “see you later.”  There is coming a day when we will be reunited with our loved ones who have trusted in the Lord and gone before us.  What a day that will be!

2.  The hope of God’s revenge.

Revenge is a strong word and seen by many to have some negative connotations to it.   We are taught from an early age that we should not be vengeful… that we should not seek out our vengeance against another.  Romans 12:19 tells us “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

There may be times when we are wronged and want to get even. Our vengeance will never bring about the result that God desires.  This in no way says that we are to be anyone’s doormat, but rather we have One that will take up our cause and bring about the perfect result in due time.

The rapture event is not just a deliverance for us as believers, it is an indication to creation that the holy God of the universe is not going to let sin go unpunished.  In the rapture, God removes His chosen children out of the way of where His wrath will be poured out.  We should praise God for the ways that He looks out and cares for us.

3.  The hope of release from a troubled world.

This world in which we live is filled with trouble.  It shouldn’t be a surprise to us that we face trouble around every corner in this world.  Jesus told us that it would be this way in John 16:33 = “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

There are times that our hearts seek out relief from the troubles of this world.  You may be at a point where all you see around you is trouble.  That is one of the effects of sin that entered in the Garden of Eden.  We seek deliverance because something in our hearts tells us that this isn’t right… we weren’t created for misery … there has to be relief.  There is, and that relief is found in Jesus!  When a person comes to faith in Christ, the troubles may not evaporate before them, but the sting of our troubles vanishes before the peace that comes through the Holy Spirit.

The rapture event is a reminder that the troubles that we face here in this world are for but a moment. There is strength for the battle today, but there is coming a full deliverance when our Savior splits the sky and calls us home, and no trouble will ever be able to touch us again.

4.  The hope of unending life.

When a person places their faith into Jesus Christ alone, he or she is promised what the Bible calls “eternal life.”  This is a life that never ends.  This body may one day stop breathing and the heart may stop beating, but this is not all that there is.  Life goes on past the grave.  Each and every person who has ever lived is still alive today in heaven or hell.  Now hell is called the second death because it is the eternal experience of God’s judgment on our sin.  But for the one who has chosen to allow Christ to pay their penalty, and trusted in His going through hell on behalf of us, that person experiences life forever in heaven.

The rapture event is the reminder to all who place their faith in Christ and follow Him only that eternal life is not just something that we sing about or talk about in church services… it is a reality.  Paul taught about this event in 1 Corinthians 15:51-57.

The Rapture for Today

Is there any wonder why Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 4:18 that we should “comfort one another with these words?”  The rapture event is a hope-filled event that will take place in the near future.  To know that we have not been forgotten… that we have not been abandoned… Praise the Lord!

But what about today?  The rapture event has not taken place yet.  We look forward to its coming.  The hope that the rapture brings us, we are to comfort and encourage one another with these words as 1 Thessalonians 4:18 tells us.

As these words, straight from the heart of God, come to us, we are not only to “pick our heads up” but we are to have courage build up within us to carry out the mission that God has given us as His children.  That mission is to take the gospel that makes this all possible to those who need it.

Just as Christ will one day come and call us out of this sinful world, He has already called us out of the world to be shining lights in the darkness. For those who have already placed their faith in Christ, He has seized you out of the kingdom of darkness and brought you into His kingdom of light.  He has commanded that each of us to live out the reality of His power through word and deed before others so that they can experience it for themselves.

There is no sitting and waiting. There will be no opportunities after the rapture to share your faith with someone so that they may receive the gift of eternal life.  That is a task for the here and now.  Jesus is coming back, and when He does, our opportunities to do what He has commanded will be over.  Those opportunities that bring about the words that every Christian should long to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” are only found prior to the rapture event.

While we anticipate the return of Christ and our hopes made sight, there may be some who for the first time realize that they aren’t ready.  Larry Norman (Christian musician of the 1970s) had a famous song, “I Wish We All Been Ready” that spoke about this event.  They are not ready because as they examine their hearts, they realize that they have never truly followed Jesus Christ.  They have not called out to Him in confession and with repentance given themselves to Him wholly.  The beautiful thing about this is that you have been given another opportunity to respond.

For others, you might have made that decision already but you realize that you have been lazy with your faith.  You have answered the call for you to come and receive God’s salvation, but you have turned a deaf ear to what God is calling you to do now.  You know that you should be sharing your faith… you know that you should be following Him in all areas of your life, but you haven’t been.  God has graciously called out to give you another opportunity to answer His call of “follow Me.”

This post was adapted from the sermon that I shared at the South Calhoun County Revival at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Calhoun City, MS on October 26, 2016.  

We Are The Champions: Over Our Communities

we-are-the-champions
INTRODUCTION

Penny Brown and Kevin Stephan both owe their lives to the other. Kevin was an 11-year-old batboy in July of 1999 when a player accidentally dealt him a severe blow to the chest with a bat while warming up. Kevin passed out, and his heart stopped beating.

Penny (a nurse) was at the game to watch her son play when she saw this transpire. She rushed down to Kevin and performed CPR, which brought him back. Kevin’s mother said he was very fortunate because Penny was scheduled to work that day and had been given the day off at the last minute.

Fast-forward seven years. Penny Brown is eating in a restaurant at Depew, New York when she begins to choke on her food and cannot breathe. Kevin worked as a dishwasher in that restaurant and was immediately called to help Penny because he was a volunteer firefighter.

Kevin performed the Heimlich maneuver and dislodged the food that was suffocating Penny. After saving her life he realized that she was the lady that had saved his life seven years earlier.

Penny summed it up by saying, “This is an experience neither of us will ever forget.”

CPR has been a tool that has saved many lives through the years. It’s one of those things that you want to know but hope that you never have to use it.

As we conclude our series entitled “We Are The Champions,” I would like to look at how Christ has made us champions over our communities. Our text for this series has been Romans 8:37, which says, “… in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us.”

Our community is the place where we do life. It is an important part of life as it can shape a person greatly. As we look around at our communities, it is easy to see that things are not what they once were. You can read the papers or watch the news and get very depressed at the state of our communities.

This should not be the case though. Because of what Christ has done in us as Christians, He has given us the victory over the darkness that looms over our communities. He has also given the church the responsibility to be a lighthouse in the community that we find ourselves. It is important to remember that the church is not a building, but us… the Christians. We are to be the lighthouses in our communities allowing the light of Christ to shine through us and impact our communities for good.

I would like to look at a portion of Scripture this morning that will help us know how to be champions over our communities. It is found in Luke 10:25-37. I believe that these Scriptures will show us the CPR that our communities need from us as the church.

LUKE 10:25-37

Jesus shares this parable as an answer to a question that was posed to Him by an expert in the law. This man had come trying to trap Jesus by asking what one had to do to inherit eternal life. The fact is that we cannot do anything to inherit eternal life. You inherit something because of a relationship. Eternal life comes from having a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Jesus shares a parable about the Good Samaritan. In this parable, the CPR that our communities need from the church (us) is shown. The first part is compassion. It is found in verses 30-33.

Some thieves had robbed, beaten, and left for dead the man in the parable. Jesus shared that two people, a priest and a Levite, passed him by. These are people who you would think would stop and help the victim here, but they didn’t. They saw the man and kept on going their way. They even went so far to distance themselves from the man so that they would not become “dirty.”

Jesus then mentions the Samaritan. Here is a man that would have every right to pass by and pay no attention to the victim. Jews hated Samaritans because they were only “half Jewish.” The Samaritan was probably the butt of a lot of jokes. But we see that compassion moved this Samaritan to stop and help.

We live in a very fast-paced society. We always have something going or somewhere to be. Could it be that, in living life in the fast lane that we are like the priest and Levite? Are we passing by people who are broken, beaten, and abused because we do not want to get “dirty” ourselves?

If we have experienced the compassion of Christ and had it change our lives, then Christ’s compassion is within us and should stop us when we see people along the path that our lives are taking. Sometimes in order to go where God wants us to go we have to stop. God’s plans might not be the agenda we had planned.

We may think, “Someone else will help them.” Who will that be? The government? No, we are the ones that Christ called the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). We are the ones who have the answer to a broken person’s true need: Jesus. The government, action groups, programs cannot give a person Jesus. Only someone who knows the Savior can truly share the Savior with those in need.

As we continue on with the parable, we see the second part: provision. Look at verse 34. We see that the Samaritan went over to the man and bandaged his wounds. He took time to truly assess the situation. He didn’t just throw out cliché answers to the man’s problems. He took the time to see what had happened and what was exactly needed.

The Samaritan applied oil and wine to the man’s wounds. This was a common but specific cure to a specific problem. We need to get into people’s lives and see exactly what they are going through before we are quick to throw out answers and solutions. There is one Gospel message, but there are many ways in which it can be shared. We need to listen to people so that we know how to provide the life-saving message of Christ to them.

Sometimes in providing the necessary medicine it will cost us. We see the Samaritan provided lodging and care for this man. This course of action cost him not only money but time. He had to put his plans on hold. What is the value of a person? Is someone that the Lord allows us to cross paths with worth it? Jesus thought they were or He would not have gone to the cross to provide for their needs. As the body of Christ, the church should share in seeing the value of people.

The final part of this CPR that will aide us in being champions of our communities is responsibility. In verse 35, Jesus shows that this Samaritan agreed to pay for all the man’s expenses during his stay, even those that were to come. He was taking responsibility for the man’s well being. This is one of the clearest ways that a person can show love for another.

It was Cain after killing his brother, Abel, said, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The mindset of not caring enough for others to see the best for them has plagued the human race ever since that day.

If we are going to be a lighthouse in our communities, we have to be willing to pay the price of getting in their world. It will take time. It might take money. Once again, we are faced with the question of “Do we value other people as Christ does?”

Responsibility is a tough road. Just ask any parent. It can be scary and heartbreaking at times. Just because it is tough… just because it costs something… just because we might get a little dirty ourselves… these cannot be deal breakers for us. We are the church. We are the body and representation of Christ to a lost, broken, and dying world.

CONCLUSION

As the body of Christ, we have been made victorious and champions over our communities. We do not live, work, and worship where we do by chance. God has placed us here for a purpose. He has called us to be lighthouses to the communities that He has planted us in. Our communities are in desperate need of some CPR: compassion, provision, and responsibility. Our communities will not find it anywhere else. Will we be that lighthouse?

We Are The Champions: Over Our Families

we-are-the-champions

INTRODUCTION

The months of May and June have a tendency to draw our attention towards two primary roles that are in our society: mothers and fathers.  When we think about these roles in society, we have to look at the family.  The family is a very important part in a society.  People from all walks of life and all across the spectrum realize this fact.

“Family is not an important thing.  It is everything.” – Michael J. Fox

“Dad kept us out of school, but school comes and goes.  Family is forever.” – Charlie Sheen

“A man should never neglect his family for his business.” – Walt Disney

“A family is a risky venture, because the greater the love, the greater the loss… that’s the trade-off.  But I’ll take it all.” – Brad Pitt

“As the family goes, so goes the nation and goes the whole world we live in.” – Pope John Paul II

The family is the centerpiece of a society.  It was the very first institution that was created by God among humans.  He created the family even before He created the church.  It is because the family plays such an important role that Satan has made it the target of many attacks.

We see the family under fire in so many different ways.  Divorce is tearing families apart and causing children to question the validity of a strong marriage.  Abuse of children is rampant.  Children abusing parents is on the rise.  A study done by Lifeway Research this past March shows that while love, protection, provision, and involvement were among the leading desired qualities of parents, “being a committed Christian” was close to the bottom[i].  The family in our society is under attack.

As we continue our series, “We Are The Champions,” we are going to talk a little about how Christ has made us champions even in the area of the family.  Romans 8:37 says, “… in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us.”  Contrary to what may seem to be unraveling in our society, the family is God’s centerpiece and showcase in a society.  Through Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, He has given us victory in our families.  Today, we are going to take a look at some of the ways in which He has made us champions over our families.

LUKE 15:11-32

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus shares a series of parables for the Pharisees and scribes who had come and were complaining against Him for eating with sinners.  One of these parables is the well-known one about the prodigal son.  It is found in Luke 15:11-32.  As we examine this parable, I would like for us to see some keys to being a champion for our families.

First, we see that Christ has made us family champions by enabling us to be providers.  Provision of needs is critical in a family.  Children look to the parents to provide what is needed for them.  It is important that the parent make provisions for those in their care.

Luke 15:11-12

The father in this parable had taken the time to provide for his family.  The soon-to-be prodigal son demanded his inheritance immediately.  While we focus many times on the boldness and harshness of this prodigal son, do not miss the father.  The father was able to provide that for him.  We may not all be “well off” financially, but it is important that we make plans and be wise so that we might be able to be the best provider that we can be.

While this is talking about finances, it is the responsibility of the parents to provide all the needs a child needs.  Money may be needed for many things in this life, but our families also need love, respect, shelter, and an example to follow.  During my time of working at the MS Baptist Children’s Village, I had the opportunity to see countless times where children were neglected in many areas.

It is easy to look at this task of providing for our family’s needs and say, “this is too much for me.”  It is too much for you.  But for Christ in you, it is not too difficult.  Christ has given us everything that we need to carry out this task in providing for our families.

A second key that we see is that Christ has made us family champions by enabling us to be teachers.

Luke 15:17-19

After the prodigal son found himself in a very undesirable position, he remembered things that he had learned about home.  He remembered that in his father’s house, people were valued and taken care of.  He realized that the way in which he was living was not the way he had been brought up.  He was sinning against God and his family.

This education does not come without intentional teaching done on the part of the parents.  We can hope that our children are good people who love and serve the Lord, but that is not going to just happen on its own.  It is going to take some intentional teaching of the parents to the children.

One of the best teaching tools that we have is modeling.  If we will live the life that we hope for our children before them, they will see the value in it and pick it up much easier.  I’m sure that you’ve heard or seen the advertisements about foster families on radio and tv.  A parent does not have to be a “perfect” parent with all the answers, just available and willing.  The classroom with that has the most impact for children today is the home.

A third key that we see that Christ has given to us to be champions over our families is compassion.

LUKE 15:20

There is no telling how long this father had been looking out the window and longing for his son’s return.  Some of us have children or other family members that our hearts are broken over and we’re longing for them to return to the Lord.  I would encourage you to follow the example of this father here: don’t give up on them.

As the prodigal son returned broken and bankrupt by the life he had chosen, the father ran to him and loved on him.  The compassion that Christ has shown to us should cause us to show that same kind of compassion to others, especially those in our families.  One important thing that I see here is that the father was not afraid to demonstrate his compassion.  The compassion that Christ has placed in our hearts is one that cannot and should not be restrained.

A final key that Christ has given to us to be champions over our families is the ability to initiate.

LUKE 15:25-28

The older son was not so thrilled at the reaction of his father to this prodigal son.  He was a little bitter and refrained from joining in the festivities.  The father did not just sit back and let things go; he went to the older son.

In our culture today, it is frowned upon to initiate help or thoughts into a situation without being asked to first.  Many feel that they do not want to intrude.  It might be a situation like the father in this parable found himself: the other person is in the wrong.  They need to make the first move.

By sitting back and waiting for others to make the first move, we will lose a generation.  Christ made the first move towards us by His compassion and love for us.  He has instilled that within the hearts of His people to do the same.  We are not to sit back and wait for things to get better.  We have been charged with the duty of initiating in our families.

If we want to see a reversal in the direction of families around us, we are going to have to take the initiative and not sit on the pews or sidelines and watch them crumble.  The father in this parable had every right to just blow off the older son and continue the celebration of the prodigal’s return, but he didn’t.  He went to the older son with a heart of compassion and the truth about the situation to make a difference.

CONCLUSION

The family is an important part of our society and culture.  God has a great plan for the family.  Through Christ’s work on the cross and by His resurrection, He has made us champions over our families.  This great work can only come through the life that has been surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  If you have not given your life to Christ, I would like to invite you to do that this morning.

With today being Father’s Day, I would like to say a word to the Dads in the congregation.  He has called us to take the lead.  We have a part in each of these keys that we’ve discussed this morning.  I know that you get beat up and put down from so many directions.  I want to encourage you today.  I would like you to know that we at Bethany Baptist Church are for you.  I would like to call all fathers to the front as we have a prayer over you.