Help for a Happier Home
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - June 8, 2014
*How are things going in your family these days? -- If things are going well right now, then praise the Lord! But all families have problems from time to time, and that certainly includes Christian homes.
*In the late 1990s, "Family Life" in Little Rock developed what they called a "Family Needs Survey." By April of 2000, they had collected over 10,000 anonymous responses from local churches. Only 42% of those Christian couples were willing to say they had a good marriage. 43% said they were in the "yellow light" area, with signs of trouble. And 15% said they were in the "red light" area, in big trouble, headed for divorce. (1)
*All families have problems. But God wants to help us. He wants to help us have happier homes. God wants to help all of us have better lives. In fact, God wants to give us the best life possible. Let's look into His Word and see how to get there.
1. First Christians: Remember to rejoice in the Lord.
*Solomon points out the value of god-given joy in vs. 13. There the wise king said this: "A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken." A "merry heart" here means a "glad, gleeful, rejoicing heart." So vs. 13 in the New Living Translation says: "A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit." And vs. 13 in the "The Message" says: "A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day." Generally speaking, God wants His followers to be cheerful. He wants us to have His inward joy that shows up on the outside too.
*You see, it's good to smile and laugh for the right reasons, and it's good for us. Jerry Shirley explained that laughter is a gift God gave us to help release tension. It helps keep our spirits from being broken in this deeply troubled world. And it is one of God's ways of keeping us healthy.
*'Executive Digest' once reported on a study on how laughter affects people. They found that laughter has an instant effect on almost every important organ in our bodies. Laughter reduces unhealthy tensions, and relaxes the tissues. It also exercises our most vital organs. It helps us both mentally and physically. So we need to laugh. (2)
*And I am quite sure that God has a sense of humor. Anyone who created giraffes, hippos, monkeys and koala bears would have to have a sense of humor.
*I can see the Lord's sense of humor in Mark's report of Jesus walking on the water. After Jesus miraculously fed the 5,000, Mark 6 says:
45. Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away.
46. And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray.
47. Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. (John 16:9 tells us this happened after the disciples had rowed 25 or 30 furlongs. That's 3 or 4 miles out!)
48. Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night He came to them. . . (Matthew 14: 24 tells us the boat was in the middle of the sea, tossed by wind-driven waves. And the fourth watch of the night was probably sometime between 3 and 6 o'clock in the morning.)
*With all that in mind, Mark 6:48 says: "Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by."
*Picture the scene: Middle of the night, middle of the sea, middle of a big storm, Jesus came walking on the sea, "and would have passed them by." I can see the Lord smiling and waving as He started to pass them by. That's a sense of humor.
*And Mark went on to say:
49. But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out;
50. for they all saw Him and were troubled. And immediately He talked with them and said to them, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.''
51. Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled.
*Just before He calmed that storm, Jesus said: "Be of good cheer!'' The Lord said that, because He wanted them (and us) to have His joy in our hearts! That's also why Jesus told His followers this in John 16:33: "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.''
*The Apostle Paul knew this great truth. When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippian Christians, he had been a prisoner of Rome, bound in chains, maybe as long as 4 years. Paul's only crime was telling the truth about Jesus. And Philippians 2:27 tells us that Paul almost had sorrow on top of sorrow when one of his friends came close to death.
*Paul could have been filled with bitterness, but he overflowed with the joy of the Lord. And we can too! That's why in Philippians 4:4, Paul said: "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" There Paul is telling us: "Remember to rejoice in the Lord!"
*When we think about who Jesus Christ is, and all that He has done for us, it's astounding that we have to be reminded to rejoice in the Lord. But Paul stressed rejoicing seven times in that short letter.
*Christians: Our hands are not in chains today, and we are blessed far more than most people in the world. But if all of that was taken away, we would still have grace, we would still have Heaven, and we would still have Jesus! So remember to rejoice in the Lord. We can't always rejoice in our health or our looks. We can't always rejoice in our finances, our family, our jobs, or our grades. We can't always rejoice in our houses, our cars, our toys, or our accomplishments, but we can always rejoice in the Lord!
*Jesus wants to give us the "merry heart (that) makes a cheerful countenance," and that will definitely help us have a better life. So remember to rejoice in the Lord.
2. But also focus your fear on the Lord.
*It may seem strange, but one of the most important things we need for a better life is a healthy fear of the Lord. That's what Solomon stressed in vs. 16, when he said: "Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure with trouble."
*Solomon was talking about a holy and reverent fear toward God, and that's not a bad thing. It's a good thing. This is the kind of fear we all need, because our God is not a fluffy, little kitten. In Revelation 5:5, He is the mighty "Lion of the tribe of Judah" who has prevailed!
*But isn't God our friend? -- Yes, He is the best Friend we will ever have! In John 15:13, Jesus said, "Greater love has no man than this, that He lay down His life for His friends." And this is exactly what Jesus did for us when He died on the cross.
*God is merciful, compassionate and kind. But at the same time He is the holy, sovereign, Almighty God of the whole universe! And He is not to be trifled with. So Hebrews 12:28-29 gives this caution to believers:
28. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
29. For our God is a consuming fire.
*No wonder we should have holy reverence for God. And Solomon said: "Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure with trouble." You see, the fear of the Lord is a good thing. It helps us understand what matters in life. It helps us have the right priorities.
*Fear of the Lord doesn't crush our spirits. It puts us on the right path in life. It doesn't hurt us. It helps us. Godly fear doesn't blot out the mercy of God. It helps us see how much we need His mercy. So this godly fear will help us have a better life. In fact, we can have the best life possible, if we will fear the Lord. So focus your fear on the Lord.
3. And live in godly love.
*Again in vs. 17, Solomon tells us about the better life, and there the wise king said: "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred."
*1 Corinthians 13 gives us a great description of the kind of love God wants us to have. There the Word of God says:
4. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
5. does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
6. does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
7. bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8. Love never fails. . . (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
*God raises the bar on love. He calls us to the highest kind of love. God calls us to His kind of patient, unselfish, forgiving, sacrificial love. It's the kind of love we see best on the cross of Jesus Christ, the kind of love that is willing to pay the price for us.
*Wednesday afternoon I got to spend a couple of hours at the World War II Museum in New Orleans. Wow. It would take a couple of days to see the whole thing. But it starts in an old train car like the ones that carried those young men off to war, and that ties in to a love story I know about from those days.
*It's the story of Murphy and Gracie Tolar. They met in school over in Chatham, and fell deeply in love. Murphy went on to serve twice in the army: First in the occupation of Japan after World War II, then in the Korean War.
*One time Murphy was on leave from the Army. And he got stuck in Charlotte, North Carolina, because there was some kind of train wreck. Murphy wanted to go home so badly that he hired a taxi to take him all the way from Charlotte, North Carolina to Chatham, Louisiana! -- That's love! Murphy didn't want to wait for a bus. He wanted to see Gracie! And he wanted to see her as soon as possible, so he was willing to pay the price. That's love! And their love continued to grow over their 51 years of marriage.
*God calls us to the highest kind of love. And Christians we can love like that, because we have the Spirit of Christ living in our hearts. As Romans 5:5 says: "The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." This godly love will help us have the best life possible, so Live in godly love.
4. But also act to overcome your anger.
*This is Solomon's message to us in vs. 18 where he said: "A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention." That word "allays" or "appeaseth" in the KJV means "to give quiet, tranquility, peace or rest." God wants us to be at peace with one another, and hot tempers get in the way.
*Now there is such a thing as righteous indignation, and we see that in the Lord. But most of our anger comes from the opposite direction. That's why Solomon warns us here, and the New Testament does the same thing. In James 1:19-20, the Word of God says:
19. Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;
20. for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
*A wise man once said: "For that worn-out feeling, carry a grudge all day." (3)
*How can we lay that burden down? How can we get out of the anger trap? One of the greatest keys is forgiveness. Listen to this guidance from Ephesians 4:
26. "Be angry, and do not sin'': do not let the sun go down on your wrath,
31. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
32. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.
*To get out of the anger trap, we need to forgive one another, just as God in Christ also forgave us. But we also need to restrain our angry tongues. Solomon showed us this truth back up in vs. 1, where he said: "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
*It took me a long time to learn this: But just because I think something doesn't mean I need to say it! You may think, "But in the heat of that moment, I can't control my mouth!" Sure you can. There you are in the middle of an argument: "You low down, dirty, worthless skunk. I don't know why I ever married you in the first place." You're mad, you're hot, you're screaming, you're steaming. Then the phone rings: "Hello- o."
*Yes we can control our tongues. We can act to overcome our anger, and that will definitely give us better lives. So act to overcome your anger.
5. But also walk in the wisdom of God's Word.
*Walking in wisdom basically sums up everything we've been talking about today. But how can we walk in godly wisdom? Well, vs. 14 warns us not to feed on foolishness. There King Solomon said: "The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness."
*Don't feed on foolishness. That's important advice today, because we are bombarded by foolishness on TV, radio, the movies and the internet. If you want to walk in wisdom, don't feed on foolishness.
*But there is so much more for us here in the Word of God. For example, just listen to what Solomon said in vs. 19-24:
19. The way of the slothful man is like a hedge of thorns, but the way of the upright is a highway.
20. A wise son makes a father glad, but a foolish man despises his mother.
21. Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment, but a man of understanding walks uprightly.
22. Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.
23. A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!
24. The way of life winds upward for the wise, that he may turn away from hell below.
*There is so much wisdom for us here in God's Word. In fact, God gives us a lifetime supply of His wisdom here in the Bible: Wisdom that can give us a better life, wisdom that can give us the best life possible, wisdom that can make almost any home a happier home, and wisdom that can change the hardest hearts.
*So close to the 70th anniversary of D-Day, let me give you another example from World War II. It was part of the story Stephen Ambrose told about an American paratrooper unit all the way from jump training to D-Day in Normandy and the final defeat of Germany.
*Some of you probably read his book or saw the mini-series: "Band of Brothers." It included the story of a man from my parents' generation, a man who desperately needed God's better life. His name was Sgt. Skinny Sisk, and he was one of the few men in his unit to survive from beginning to end.
*After the war, Sisk had a hard time shaking his memories. In July of 1991, he wrote a letter to explain to his old Captain, Dick Winters. Skinny said: "My career after the war was trying to drink away the truckload of Krauts that I stopped in Holland, and the die-hard Nazi that I went up into the Bavarian Alps and killed. Old Moe Alley made a statement that all the killings that I did was going to jump into the bed with me one of these days. And they surely did. I had a lot of flash backs after the war, and I started drinking. . .
"Then my sister's little daughter, four years old, came into my bedroom. (I was too unbearable to the rest of the family, either hung-over or drunk.) And she told me that Jesus loved me, and she loved me. And if I would repent, God would forgive me for all the men I kept trying to kill all over again.
*That little girl got to me. I put her out of my room, told her to go to her Mommy. There and then I bowed my head on my Mother's old feather bed and repented. And God forgave me for the war, and all the other bad things I had done down through the years.
*I was ordained in the latter part of 1949 into the ministry, and believe me, Dick, I haven't whipped but one man since, -- and he needed it. I have four children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. The Lord willing and Jesus tarries, I hope to see you all at the next reunion. If not, I'll see you at the Last Jump."
*I love that story because it shows us how the Lord can change any life, and save any soul. The Lord Jesus Christ can change any life, and He wants to give all of us the best life possible.
-Remember to rejoice in the Lord.
-Focus your fear on the Lord.
-Live in godly love.
-Act to overcome your anger.
-And walk in the wisdom of God's Word.
*The first step is to do what Skinny Sisk did: Repent. Turn your life over to the Lord, and put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus loves you. He died on the cross for you. He rose again from the dead. If you will receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, He will forgive all of our sins, He will give you an everlasting home in Heaven, and He will give you the best life you can possibly have in this world. Call on the Lord to save you, right now, as we go to God in prayer.
(1) "Marital Bliss or Breakdown" by Mike Sciarra, "Rev" - Nov/Dec 2001 - p. 28 - Source "Dynamic Illustrations" Apr-May-June, 2002 - Topic: Marriage
(2) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "Relieve Stress and Tension in Home" by Jerry Shirley - Proverbs 15:13-25
(3) KNOXVILLE NEWS-SENTINEL - Source: Sermons.com)
(4) KERUX ILLUSTRATION COLLECTION - ID Number: 20439 - SOURCE: Book: Band Of Brothers, Touchstone: 2001 - TITLE: Forgive Me For All The Men I Kept Trying To Kill - AUTHOR: Stephen E. Ambrose - DATE: 2001