THE GODLY FAMILY - Psalm 127
1. For many years our church has celebrated Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. In a sense we are keeping this tradition alive by having a program from the Sunday School honouring our mothers in a very special way.
2. The wider Christian community however, is moving more and more towards focusing on the entire family on this specific day. The Conference of Mennonites in Canada has marked this day on the Calendar as “the Festival of the Christian Home”.
3. In accordance with the Conference theme, I would like to focus on the entire Family this morning, with special emphasis on Momies and Daddies. In his book Strengthening your grip, Charles Swindoll gives his readers a real eye-opener in terms of what is going on in many families today.
4. “The family is fast becoming an endangered species”, he says. And he backs up this claim with some shocking statistics about failing marriages, single-parent homes, illegitimate births, children of both parents working, physical and sexual abuse of children, domestic violence, teenage pregnancy, suicide, and wife abuse. The home is described as the most dangerous place to be outside riots and war.
5. Everyone, whose family is not affected by such devastating situations as these owes God a great deal of gratitude. But, even for those who have been, or who are a part of the statistics there is hope. Following Swindoll’s outline I want to talk about the Family from God’s perspective. Psalms 127 & 128 give us a picture of a family upon which the blessing of the Lord rests. Here we notice four stages.
1. THE BEGINNING OF THE FAMILY
1. Psalm 127:1-2 speaks about the early years of the family. This is the time when a young man and a young woman join their lives together, and live in an intimate relationship with the partner. God’s word says:
Unless the Lord builds the house, it’s builders labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat - for he grants sleep to those he loves.
2. During the early months and years of married life it is especially important to put ones family in God’s hands. A family gets the right start if its members are in a right relationship with the Lord.
3. Too often however, we see ourselves tangled up with the busyness and the get-ahead-drive of today’s secular society. We need, we want more, nicer, bigger, better stuff. Getting up early and dropping into bed late, labouring for material gain is vain, the psalmist tells us.
4. This is the reason why the crucial first years of life together can be determining whether a family will adopt this philosophy or the way of God. Let us be aware of this powerful snare of the devil that eventually destroys a family that is not building on the right foundation.
5. From our own experience, Hedi and I can testify to the fact that the early months were a testing ground for our survival as a married couple. I remember the countless times that we spent praying for God’s guidance in our decisions. that early time away from both our parents were often difficult. But, we were determined to let God build our home. I am sure that many of you would have similar stories to tell.
2. THE EXPANSION OF THE FAMILY
Ps. 127:3-5 says: Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.
1. By this time the child-bearing years have come. (Sometimes my wife would wish that I would deliver the next one). These are good years. They are also physically demanding and financially exhausting for many parents. The Lord blesses his beloved children with many offsprings.
2. In fact I remember some weddings back in Paraguay where the Pastor would end his meditation by saying to the just married couple: “And now, be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” Until one other pastor had enough of that and said: “And now that the earth is full, don’t overdo it.
3. In any event, children are a blessing of the Lord, even if at times we feel that we weren’t ready for this one yet. For God there are no unwanted or unplanned children. the birth of a child is never taken lightly by the Lord. This message, however, sadly is rejected by pro-abortionists. God does not “dump” any “accidents” on our homes. Rather, “blessed is the person whose quiver is full of them.”
3. THE CHILD-BEARING YEARS.
1. These are the years when many parents feel that they are driven up the wall by each child in a different way. Our daughter is working hard at perfecting her technic. Psalm 127:4 says, that children are in their parents hands as an arrow in the hand of a warrior. With our child-rearing formulas and recipes we make our children to become whatever they will become. During their tender years children are especially vulnerable to all kinds of influences. Therefore, it is extremely important that parents take full advantage during this early time to aim at the right target.
2. Then come the school years. Swindoll expands: “Little babies that cooed and gurgled grow up into challenging, independent thinking adolescents.
3. The protected, sheltered environment of the home is broken into by the school, new friends, alien philosophies, financial strain, illness, accidents, hard questions, constant decisions, and busy schedules.” Many people are really tempted to give up on their families in such times. But here is what God says about these years:
4. Ps. 128:1-3 Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labour; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons (and we would add daughters) will be like olive shoots around your table.
5. This almost sounds dreamlike, doesn’t it? But, it is no dream. This promise rests on the family in which the Lord is the centre of attention. Even in the teen years parents and children can enjoy a great family relationship. With a lot of love and care from the parents and some understanding from the children a family can truly experience the blessing of God during the wonder years.
4. THE TWILIGHT YEARS.
1. Psalm 128:4-6 speaks of these years in the following terms: Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion all the days of your life, may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem, and may you live to see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel.
2. Some parents are at the stage in life where they begin to wonder what life will be like after the dust settles and peace and quiet returns to the home. Will there be any rewards for bringing up a family according to God’s plan? What will life in the so-called empty nest be like? I am not really by experience authorized to speak on this one. But, when I listen to the psalmist, I get the impression that this will be a time of happiness and joyful memories. Good and healthy relationships with the grown-up children will be the source of parental joy and pride.
3. It says that Jerusalem will be a better place. That is, the entire community will benefit from the people that have been brought up fearing the Lord and respecting fellow citizen. In the end the entire nation will live at peace. Healthy, well disciplined, loving homes release into society such people that will make a nation strong and peaceful. Swindoll sums it up this way: “When you boil it down to the basics, the pulse of an entire civilization is determined by the heartbeat of it’s homes.
The advise is this: no matter which stage in life you are in, allow God to be the centre around which your family life revolves. At the outset of your married life make God, not success, your top priority. During the expansion and child-rearing years ask God for guidance in your children’s education. Then you will enjoy the fruits of your labour in the chair-rocking years. May God grant us grace and bless our families as we nurture them in the way of the Lord.