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Jack Graham - Celebrating the Family


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    Jack Graham - Celebrating the Family
TOPICS: All In... The Family, Marriage, Family, Relationship

Your home, as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ should be the happiest place on earth. It really should be. And, as a matter of fact, people should be asking you. If you are a follower of Jesus, people should be asking you, "What is your secret? What sets you apart? Why is your life, why is your family successful"? People should want to know. Your neighbors should want to know the difference that Jesus makes in your family and in your home; if indeed, He makes a difference. We need to pray that God would bless our homes. Now I know not all homes are alike. There are different kinds of homes than we see here as an ideal in this very passage. We know that there is much brokenness in the world.

And many times we are impacted by the brokenness around us, and choices that others made that we would have not made for ourselves. And some live with broken hearts and broken homes. But let me remind you that the church of the Lord Jesus Christ and God's Word has a message for the broken, and those who have messed up, and those who've not experienced happiness in their homes. And if you will just give God all the pieces, He will put your life back together again. Amen? He will! And no one has a perfect home. I don't; you don't. But we can have godly homes. We can all have Christ-centered homes.

So take your Bibles and turn to Psalm 128, verse 1 says: "Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you", note those words, "it will be well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots (or branches) around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. The Lord bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life! May you see your children's children! Peace be upon Israel"! Peace be upon you! Four times the word bless or blessing shows up in this passage, and other words comparable, like prosperity and even peace and wellness. Is it well or it would be well with you.

And this is the story, therefore, a song about the blessing of God upon the family; that your family would be blessed again and again and again. And these blessings are never ending. We're told in the book of Ephesians that we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Jesus Christ in the heavenly places. We are abundantly blessed. And I assure you, you need the blessing of God upon your life, upon your family, upon your husband, your wife, your children, your grandchildren. You should cry out and pray and claim this promise of the blessings of God. The blessing that God has promised us speaks of joy and favor and prosperity and security and happiness and pleasure and gladness. We ought to enjoy our family. There ought to be more laughter and more leisure in our homes. So often we're hustling around and we don't stop long enough or linger long enough to even laugh, much less live in the joy of that family. And we know there's a lot of unhappy family and a lot of unhappy people in family.

You know, the problem is not the institution of the family, it's the personnel that's the problem. Again, there are no perfect families. There are knots on every family tree, and knot heads in every family. Why? Because it's not easy to raise a family. As a matter of fact, in my view it's the hardest thing you will ever do in life. Now I'm speaking to you know as a husband and a father, now a grandfather, and my calling in life is to be a spiritual father to God's family, the church. And I speak to you, therefore, as a father, a grandfather, a spiritual leader to say that Satan will attack your family, the world will try to suck you into its vortex that you might compromise your convictions and lose your values, biblical values as a family. You will be tempted many times along the way to give up and to give in to the world, and the wisdom of the world rather than the wisdom of God. And many times as a parent you will be driven on your knees and on your face, begging God for help! Can I get an Amen on that? Sure you will.

Children keep us humble before the Lord, and dependent upon the Lord because we know how important this responsibility is. Raising a family will drive you to the Word for wisdom and to the church for assistance and help. So it's hard! But cheer up! That's what this message is about. Look up! Because when you look to the end and you see your children's children, if God gives you that grace, you'll look back and you'll say "We did it; to the glory of God it happened"! God is promising us here in your twilight years, when you see your children's children, you will look back and you will remember some of the battles, but most of all you will remember the blessings. Because four times, blessed, blessed, blessed, blessed, prospered, at peace, all of this! Celebrate the family. Celebrate your children. Celebrate your marriage. How do we do that? Well, it's very clear. Because verse one of chapter 128, Psalm 128 says, look at it: "Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways"!

I could just drop the mic right there, because that's it! "Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord and walks in his ways". This is the way of wisdom, this is the way of enjoyment and blessing for your family. "Fear the Lord and walk in His ways". Now no one but God can keep your family from falling apart. That's why in the sister psalm here, number 127 in Psalms, it says in verse 1: "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it". It's impossible to build a godly home without God, a Christian home without Christ! How do we know this? Because Jesus said it. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapter 7) after Jesus gave those Beatitudes, the attitudes that ought to be in every believer's life, and those beatitudes and teaching of the way we live our lives in the sermon, He gives a closing illustration. He talked about two men who build a house, one on sand, one on rock. In fact, let's listen to the words of Jesus. We'll put them up.

"Everyone then who hears these words of Mine and does them (there you go, who fears the Lord and walks in His ways) he hears these words and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand, and the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it". Into every life some rain will fall. There are storms and seasons in life that beat against us. And in your life, I guarantee it, you will be blasted and battered by trials and tribulation, even tragedy. There will be sickness and sadness along the way. There will be storms guaranteed. Sometimes it's a spring rain; at other times it is a tornado that tears everything down.

But if your house is built upon the Rock. Who is the Rock? The Bible says Jesus is our Rock. He is our Rock, and He is our Redeemer. And as you build your life upon Jesus Christ, "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it". It's worthless without Him; it's meaningless. It's going to blow away. It will be nothing but a wasted life and wasted household if you don't build your life upon Jesus Christ. And that's what it means to "fear the Lord and walk in His ways". He said you hear these words and do them, you'll be like that one who built his house, her house on the Rock with a solid foundation. So the question is: is your family on the rocks or is it on the Rock? Are you building your home, your family on a foundation that will not fail? Jesus Christ. When you build your house on Jesus, it means that you're fearing Him and walking with Him.

Now what does it mean to "fear the Lord". We don't hear those words often enough today. As of fact, I believe that's ultimately what's missing in society, in culture without God in our generation. There is no fear of God. But we need to identify the fear of God. It doesn't mean that we are afraid of God necessarily. Now if you don't know the Lord, judgment is coming and there's something to fear, for sure! But to fear God as a believer and follower means that you passionately and purposefully, profoundly stand in awe of God. You reverence Him, you honor Him, you obey Him. You walk in His Word and His wisdom. You live in awe of the Almighty. And if you, parents, will teach your children to respect God, to revere God, to fear God by your own example, by your own testimony, your children will grow up to honor and fear God as well. To fear God is to love God and live in obedience to His commandments.

So, celebrate the family by walking in the fear of the Lord in the wisdom of God. And then expect and envision your family God's way. Enjoy your family and celebrate it but experience your family God's way. Please remember, if you honor God in this way, you're going to have a lot of faith, but let me tell you something else! You're going to have a lot of fun! There's not enough laughter. There's so much stress for success. Psalm 127 talks about it; people staying up late, working hard, not getting enough sleep. Sometime we're hustling around, we're hurrying around. We don't stop to really enjoy our family! Not enough time around the table. The picture that is given to us here is a family sitting around the table. You've got a godly dad and a faithful wife, and it's called a beautiful vine here. An unusual description of a beautiful wife, a beautiful woman and mother, a fruitful vine.

You know the vine in Israel was a symbol of its prosperity. It was a symbol of its beauty, it was a symbol of enjoyment and pleasure. And here is the wife. And the husband comes home and this wife is there at the table, surrounded by the children who are described as olive shoots, like branches. The fact is that each of these branches, these shoots are to produce fruit and be productive. And the role that we have as parents in our family is to help them bear fruit in the world, spiritual fruit and make a difference as they go forward. That they would grow up and grow out. And that each child in the family would be a testimony to the goodness and the grace of God. So I say that ought to be fun doing that. Didn't say it wasn't hard; it is hard, but the family that prays together, stays together, and you could also say the family that plays together, stays together.

I asked my own children, I sent them a text, Jason and Kelly and Josh. I sent something to the three of them, all adult children now. Sent them a text, said: "Describe some of your favorite memories growing up. And I added there: I know I'm taking a risk here", because they grew up in a preacher's home. And you know what they said? It was the time together as a family. Those times of vacations that we had together. We had a thing in our family on Friday evenings when we would have a pizza party and the kids would all bunk down on mattresses or sleeping blankets, beds on the floor. And each one of them mentioned that. Those family nights that we had together. Board games! I hated playing those board games, I really did! Kids would come and say, you know, "Let's play monopoly". And I'd say "That's a wintertime game". It was summer. And in the winter I'd say, "That's a summertime game"!

You know, any way, but maybe their mom did it. I don't know but... No, games and so fun, and then those times around the table. We don't have enough family time around the table! We're rushing here and there. And we all know we live in a fast paced, pressure cooker world, but the fact is, you need to slow down and sit down together. Because it's around the table when people let their guard down and they talk. And that fourteen year old child of yours that used to talk to you, that never talks to you anymore? They might open up and talk about what's going on in their life. I'm saying that those times, interestingly enough, my kids, not one of them mentioned my great sermons! But all of our children have grown up to love the Lord. They have wonderful mates and spouses and now have given us children.

And as 3 John 4 says, "There's no greater joy than to know that your children are walking in truth". And so it wasn't the sermons necessarily. It's good to teach your children and to have the Bible stories, and to have formal times of Christian education, but it's typically around the table or playing a board game or being on a vacation. Our children all mentioned trips to Israel. They had the privilege of going to Israel with Deb and I many times, and it helped to solidify and strengthen their faith in certain ways. Look at verse 6 and we're finished: "May you see your children's children"!

So now in the twilight years your grandkids show up. And the promise, the vision here is looking back and there's peace and there's prosperity, spiritual success in your life, because I guarantee you when you get to the end of your life the only thing that's going to matter when it comes to the end, when you come to die, will be your faith and your family and your friends. That's what matters! This is the ninetieth birthday of my wife's mother Joan who went to be with the Lord a couple of months ago. She almost made it to 90 years. She's in heaven now, but, Joan would come in her older age and she would just sit on the couch, weakened in her condition, and all the little great grandchildren were coming around and sitting in her lap, and the grandchildren were blessing her. I'm thinking "It doesn't get any better than that"!

If God gives you life and length of years. You know, not everyone gets to be a grandfather. My dad didn't; Deb's dad didn't, but if you live long enough to see your children's children, that's the joy of life, that's such an incredible blessing upon you and your family. That's the vision. Mom and Dad, children around the table, and progressing on to the end of life and looking back and saying, "Yes, Lord! Thank you, Jesus, for giving me a happy home". Now for those of you who don't have happy homes, may God give you the grace to change things. If your home is broken, it could be put back together again. I've seen it happen many times, if you'll just give Him all the pieces. But even in your brokenness you can find peace, you can find a spiritual family that will love you.

But I close with this: A gentleman by the name of Bob Benson wrote this. His wife's name was Peg. So get your Kleenex ready, alright. It's called Laughter in the Walls. I passed a lot of houses on my way home. Some pretty, some expensive, some inviting. But my heart always skips a beat when I turn down the road and see my house, nestled against the hill. I guess I'm especially proud of the house and the way it looks because I drew the plans myself. It started out large enough for us. I even had a study, two teenage boys now reside in there. And it had a guest room, my girl and nine dolls are now permanent guests. It had a small room Peg had hoped would be her sewing room, but two boys swinging on the dutch door had claimed this room as their home. So it really doesn't look like now as if I'm much of an architect, but it will be larger again.

One by one they will go away: to work, to college, to service, to their own houses. And then there will be room. A guest room, a study and sewing room just for the two of us. But it won't be empty. Every corner, every room, every nick in the coffee table will be crowded with memories. Memories of picnics and parties and Christmases and bedside vigils, and summer, fires, winters, going barefoot, leaving for vacation, cat, conversations, blackeyes, graduations, first dates, ball games, arguments, washing dishes, bicycles, dogs (there you go!), boat rides, getting home from vacation, meals, rabbits, and a thousand other things that fill our lives with those who would raise five. And Peg and I will sit quietly by the fire and listen to the laughter in the walls. Let there be laughter in your home and laughter in your hearts because of the blessing of God upon your family. Amen?
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