Speaker: Rev. Shine Thomas
We are living in times where the institution of family is under great attack. Demands at work, school, busy schedules, stress etc are pressures pulling families apart these days. At the end of everything we compromise on family time. On the other hand, Satan has made many families a conflict zone but God wants us to have peaceful dwellings of joy.
I want to give you some things strong families have in common.
Isaiah 32:18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.
Psalm 128:3-4 3Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. 4Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the LORD.
When God instituted the family it is like a fortress, noting can break it. But there are some things we need to do with God’s help make build a strong family. Here are some things strong families have in common:
Commitment is the assurance that this family will stay together, value each other for a lifetime, no matter what.
Ecclesiastes 9:9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days.
Ruth 1:16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.
Mark 10:7-9 7‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Joke: One day Adam came home very late. Eve became upset. “You´re running around with other women,” she told her him. “Eve, honey, you´re being unreasonable,” Adam responded. “You know you´re the only woman on earth.” The quarrel continued until Adam fell asleep, only to be awakened by a strange pain in his side. It was Eve poking him about the torso. “What do you think you´re doing?” Adam demanded. “Counting your ribs,” said Eve.
Over the last decade I have counselled a lot of couples and children and one thing that stands out is that people today don’t understand commitment.
Nowadays most people enter into marriage in a very relaxed attitude, “If it works, fine, if it doesn’t, fine but I’m sure it will work because we love each other now!” Well, love is blind and they get into marriage, and marriage is an eye opener and then they say it will not work.
We take our marriage vows so lightly. Then problems come and people say, “I didn’t expect this!” Oh yes you did, you said “For better or for worse” and now it’s worse, so you were specific about this point, that you will be committed even now!
Is it love that sustains our commitment or commitment that sustains our love? It’s the latter. Whatever problems we face, we face them together. Strong couples say: “I’m committed to you, no matter what.” The word “divorce” out of their vocabulary.
Commitment between parents and kids.
How committed are you to your children? How committed are you to your parents?
Colossians 3:20 Children obey your parents in everything for this pleases the Lord.
Children obedience is your commitment to your parents. When you obey them you are telling them you are committed to them.
There are 2 ways you can convey the sense of commitment to a child:
a. Convey to them they are a blessing.
Psalm 127:3 Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.
You need remind them that they are a blessing, not a burden. Media today sends the message that children are an unwanted expense, interference in careers, or an untimely accident. There are no mistakes, accidents, or surprises with God. Tell your children they are a blessing.
Illustration: In my school days we had teams to play football. There was a guy who would never be picked. Who wants him the captain asks? The other captain says, “I picked him the last time, you pick him now.” Have you ever been the last one picked for a team in sports? The poor boy feels, “I am not good, they are stuck with me.” There are many kids that are like this in our families because of what we talk.
Illustration: A suicide note from teenage girl: “Dear mom, I’m sorry I was ever born. It seems to me that I’ve ruined your happiness. I’ve chosen this way out so that you can be happy again.” (Chances are, this girl was genuinely loved and wanted, but somehow they failed to communicate it to her!)
b. Convey they are loved unconditionally.
Proverbs 13:24 The one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
Titus 2:4 Urge the younger women to love their husbands and children.
We live in an achievement-oriented society where significance equals performance, and importance equals ability, and where self-worth equals achievement. This mindset has crept into many homes.
Parents, do your kids know that there’s nothing they can do to be more loved, because they’re already loved with measureless love? Do they know nothing they can do to be more accepted, because they’re already totally accepted? Do they know that nothing they can do to be more valued, because they’re already infinitely valued?
Nothing will alienate a child more than making them work for something that should be given freely…love, acceptance, and self-worth.
Do your children know they are a blessing, not a burden? Do they know they’re loved unconditionally? Children, do your parents know that you obey them even when they are not around? That’s commitment. It’s the first thing strong families have in common. Couples committed to each other and parents and children committed to one another.
Communion is the time you spend with your loved ones, family. This is not the time sitting around the television. This is like times you spend around the table eating, talking, laughing.
Psalm 128:3 Your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
In a survey, 1,500 children were asked, “What makes families happy?” Over 90% said it was “doing things together with dad and mom.” It isn’t a big house, new video games, or lots of money.
Communion is spending quality time with family where you can eventually see right into their heart just by looking into their eyes, and you can tell how they are right away!
Is your child shy or confident? Leader or follower? What are their interests? What do they want to be someday? Who is their best friend, and why are they their best friend?
Some of you are blank for those questions, and the reason is how busy we are these days, trying to make money for our family but…we’re not spending enough time together.
For family love is spelt as TIME. Husband and wives, God makes us 2 into 1, so we need to be 1 together much more than we currently are. Marriage is like 2 horses pulling a wagon…they need to be together, stay together, and have one mind, going in the same direction in order to accomplish anything.
There’s no substitute for time spent together. You can’t neglect your family for months, and then make up for it by taking them to wonderla, or buying them something they really want.
Joke: Long time ago people who sacrifice their family, sleep, food, laughter, and other joys of life were called saints. But now they are called IT Professionals.
Take time to do the things together: Take them to the supermarket. Slow down and experience life together! That’s communion.
Proverbs 16:24 Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Illustration: A kid comes home from college and dad says, “How’s college son? “Good.” How’s your grades? “Good” Friends? “Fine.” Food? “OK”. Dorm life? “Good.” By the way, are you studying Maths or business? He said “no communications.”
And unfortunately, he learned his communication skills at home, where his mom asked his dad lots of questions like that, with the same kind of monotone, one-word replies.
Strong families are held together by good communication. Communication is discussing the burdens of your heart…opening the windows of your soul at times, sharing your feelings…and all with respect and love. Good communication is always with respect and love. Let your speech be full of grace and seasoned with salt.
Illustration: A lady who went to her pastor because she wanted a divorce from her husband. He asked her, “Do you have any grounds?”…yeah, 3 acres outside of town, you’ve been there too! “no, I mean, do you have a grudge?” She heard garage and said, we park our care outside on the road. “Sister, I’m trying to ask, are you and your husband having any troubles?”…oh yes, lots of troubles… “like what?”…He just can’t communicate!
Communication is a 2-way street…being a good listener is important as well!
4B’s of good listening
a. Be observant.
Look at them, show you’re listening
Study says that only 7% of our true feelings are conveyed by the actual words we speak, 38% by way we say those words, whopping 55% is conveyed thru body language…non-verbal communication: Facial expression/eye contact/posture/tone of voice.
It is impossible to listen to my family if the TV is on. It is also impossible to listen when we read the newspaper. Give them time and observe.
b. Be available.
Communication is like fishing. You catch fish when it is hungry and it bites.
Be available when your children and spouse want you. It might be during your favourite TV program…better turn it off and listen. Sometimes it might be at midnight, be available. They won’t resemble the same person after sometime, so be available.
c. Be considerate.
Titus 3:2 Slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always be gentle toward everyone.
It’s amazing how considerate we are to others out in public, but how rude we can be to our own family members. If we interrupted people at work like we do at home, we would be isolated! If our boss was talking to us and we just walk away from them while talking, we’d be sent home permanently. Listen, don’t take each other for granted in the family also.
Illustration: Wife: “I wish you cared as much for me as you do your dog…you talk sweet to him, pet him, and care for his needs.”
Illustration: A husband was told by the marriage counsellor to try and be nice to his wife. He comes home from work. He’s dressed up in a suit, he has body spray on, he has a bouquet of flowers and a box of candy in his hands. He’s trying to make a good impression. The wife says, “Oh, I can’t believe it! Little Johnny has been throwing up; there are lots of dishes to wash; your parents are coming to visit, and now to top it all off, you come home drunk!”
d. Be demonstrative.
Show them that you love them. The free stuff is the best. Better than candy or gifts. We’re talking physical…hugs, kisses, pats, etc. Use them often. Gary Smalley says in a relationship you need 8 of these touches per day. (Brothers do not wake up tomorrow and go to your wife and 12345678…) It doesn’t work that way.
Illustration: A couple was having some trouble, so they went to a marriage counsellor. After a few visits, the counsellor said that he had discovered the main problem. He stood up, went over to the woman, asked her to stand, and gave her a hug. He looked at the man and said, “This is what your wife needs, at least once a day!” The man frowned, thought for a moment, then said, “Ok, what time do you want me to bring her back tomorrow?”
Marriage counsellors say over half of all divorces are the result of poor communication, and that if they could have just learned to talk, they could have saved their marriage. Strong family has great communication.
4. GOOD COPING SKILLS.
Strong families have great coping skills.
Illustration: The young husband felt he was henpecked and so he went to a psychiatrist about the problem. The doctor told him, “You don’t have to let your wife bully you! Go home and show her you’re the boss! The young man got home, slammed the door, shook his fist in his wife’s face, and growled, “From now on, you’re taking orders from ME! When I get home from work, I want my supper ON the table. I want my clothes laid out. I will be going out with the boys. You will be staying home. And another thing. Do you know who’s going to tie my tie? She replied, “Yeah, The undertaker!”
Do not rely on the advice of the world when it comes to family problems. God has given us everything we need in the Bible. Build your life on Bible principles you will have good coping skills and peace at home.
Those who develop good coping skills have the rare ability to solve problems together. Don’t ever think that the families that break up had big problems, and that the families who stay together don’t. Divorces and fights are the result of poor problem solving.
There people here now who’ve been married 37 years or more, and they’ve had problems far worse than a lot of people who’ve divorced. All families have struggles. Even Christian families have problems.
Joke: One day Adam and kids walked by garden…kids say, what’s that, dad? “That’s where your mother ate us out of house and home!”
The Chinese language does not have letters, it has symbols. And the same symbol which means crisis can also mean opportunity, depending upon the context. And, you know, one family can have a problem and see it as a crisis, and another family can have exactly the same problem, and see it as an opportunity.
One family will become bitter and another will become better with problems, all because of good coping skills. How we respond to our problems will make or break us! We’ve got to learn to attack our problems together, instead of attacking each other.
5. STRONG SENSE OF CONSECRATION.
Here is the spiritual thing. This is to be dedicated to the Lord. There’s no way to have a truly successful family without giving God the first place.
Psalm 127:1 Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain.
Joshua 24:15 But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.
2 Chronicles 20:13 All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD.
Acts 10:2 He (Cornelius) and all his family were devout and God-fearing.
Acts 18:8 Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord.
Give God the number one priority in your family. Give praying together the priority. Give church the priority. A study once disclosed that if both Mom and Dad attend church regularly, 72% of their children remain faithful to God. If only Dad, 55% remain faithful. If only Mom, 15%. If neither attended regularly, only 6% remain faithful. The statistics speak for themselves. The example of parents is more important than all the efforts of the church.
Illustration: Glory and I are blessed today because we have godly parents. Right from our childhood until now we can see and hear our parents pray to God for hours.
Let’s work to make our families a strong fortress.
As your pastor, let me reassure you that our family is a strong family and many here also. All of us can do it too. Let’s remember these 5 C’s that will help us build a family fortress that will stand up to the winds of this life:
Commitment – no matter what
Communion – time together
Communication – Let’s talk.
Coping Skills – attack the problem, not the person
Consecration – Be dedicated to the Lord.
This sermon belongs to the series Godly Family. Other sermons in this series: