Summary: This sermon explores the 128 psalm as a model for changing life, family, and nation from the father up.
A Godly Father’s Reward
This morning I want to break with a long standing church tradition. Somehow it has become a tradition to praise mothers for their wonderful and inspiring work on Mothers Day – and berate Dad’s for their shortcomings on Fathers Day. We often make the assumption that Dads really need to be thrashed about the head and neck for failing to live up to God’s standards – and then wonder why they don’t come to church. Men this morning I have the inspiring privilege to share with you the power of being a man of God.
We live in a world where Father’s are disparaged at every turn. Turn on the TV – you will find the vast majority of men portrayed as bungling, insensitive, boozing, lecherous, jerks. It is rare to find a father portrayed in a good light. Maybe that speaks to the state of entertainment in the US or maybe it speaks to the state of manhood in our society – but either way the messages are all wrong. Don’t get me wrong this morning – there are plenty of bungling, insensitive, boozing, lecherous jerks out there – but in my experience there are far more – men who are genuinely trying if often failing to do it right. Let’s talk this morning about doing it right and the rewards found in getting it right.
Psalm 128 – this psalm many believe is a psalm that was sung during Israelite marriage ceremonies. It has wonderful teaching for us as men today.
1) You have the power to be happy – We live in a generally unhappy society. The truth is that people make a living making you unhappy. From advertisers who are telling you that you need their product to make you happy – to political power brokers who get elected by telling you that they will make you happier than the other guy – the world runs on making you unhappy. Psalm 128 starts out with the word “blessed”. To be blessed is to be truly happy, regardless of circumstances. It includes well-being, fullness, prosperity. The Jewish Talmud says “We see life, not as it is, but as we are.” It’s a matter of perception, which means that some people will never be happy, no matter what. Happiness isn’t a matter of luck; there are no tricks involved. We have the power to be happy – but often we look in the wrong places. This passage says that if we Fear God and walk in His ways that we can find happiness.
2) You have the power to make your home what you want it to be – Verses 3-4 tell us that our homes can be blessed. The picture of wives as fruitful vines and children as olive plants is more than a picture of a large and growing family. It is a picture of prosperity, comfort, and love. Grapevines and olive plants are symbols of prosperity – riches – in Jewish culture. This picture is not of a perpetually pregnant wife (whew ladies) but of a home where there is a richness and comfort and prosperity. In Japan there is actually a buisness that rents ready made families for a fee who will show up on their doorstep and greet them with enthusiastic warmth. It’s not a cheap service, but the business is a huge success. The truth is though that too few of our marriages show the blessing of God today. Often they are marked with bitterness – confusion – and apathy. The truth is that we as men have the power to transform our marriages and our children by the choices that we make. The Scripture again says that if we fear God and walk in His ways that our homes will be full of His blessing.
3) You have the power to transform the world around you – Psalm 128 talks about the prosperity of the nation of Israel. You – men – have the power to make our community and our nation strong and prosperous – or weak and failing. It depends on where you place your focus – where you spend your time – what you teach your children. Are you teaching your children how to have a happy home – a lifelong marriage – and success in life? Are you preparing the next generation to be a Godly generation? Your teaching will be the lifes blood of the next generation of Political leaders, journalists, teachers, preachers, and laborers. The values that you instill will be the values of those who rule when you are old. What legacy are you leaving our world our nation and our community? The scripture tells us that we can transform the world if we fear God and walk in His ways.