The Anatomy of a Happy Home
Acts 10:1-8, 19-25
Through today’s bible study we are going to see what the anatomy of a happy home is and that is important because the American home is in desperate need of repair. I believe statistics show that more than 50% of marriages end in divorce. That leads to single parent homes and homes with children from more than one family. And I recently heard that for the first time more American couples are living together than are married.
Many things have divided the home; divorce, working mothers, parents and children pursuing different interests, keeping up with the Jones’, families scattered across the country by their jobs, and the disgraceful way that families are depicted by the media. We are all concerned because we have children and grandchildren who must grow up and live with this depressing state of affairs.
The American home needs help; it needs God’s help. And I believe that the Bible is where we must go to find His help. The passage that we are going to study gives us a wonderful model for a Christian home. The Bible has some basic principles that apply regardless of the size of a family. When these principles are established, there will be good results.
Our scriptures for today clearly illustrate the conditions that are required for a healthy, happy home. Let’s read our text, from the New King James Bible.
1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment,
2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.
3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!”
4 And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.
5 Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter.
6 He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.”
7 And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually.
8 So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.
Cornelius was not the only person who had a vision. The apostle Peter, who was in another city, also had a vision from God, and we are told:
19 While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you.
20 Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”
21 Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?”
22 And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.”
23 Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
24 And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends.
25 As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him.
There are three principles found in today’s scriptures which if followed will produce a happy home.
The first principle is: CORNELIUS WAS HEAD OF HIS HOME AND SET THE PATTERN FOR THE FAMILY.
As a gentile, Cornelius was an unlikely candidate to be a Christian, for up to this time we don’t have any record of anyone embracing the Christian faith except the Jewish people. But he is proof that God responds when someone genuinely desires salvation for his or her family. Cornelius is described as “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.” (v.2) He was a religious man, even though he had received very little of the light of the Gospel; he was no idolater, like most Gentiles were at this time. He believed in the one God, the creator of heaven and earth, and he had a dread of offending Him by sin. He practiced his faith before his family and he would not allow any idolaters under his roof. He saw to it that his family and servants served the Lord. He was a very charitable man, for we read that he gave gifts to the people; not asking what their religion was. We know that he was a praying man, for we read, He “prayed to God always.”
It is evident that this man was the head of the house, and that’s the way it should be in a Christian home. The man is the head and he is to love his wife and care for her. That’s God’s preference and you can see it in the scriptures. Noah, Joshua and Joseph were three men who led their respective families and established homes that are good models.
Noah lived at a time when the world was so corrupt that God had to destroy it. The pressure on Noah to raise his family like those who lived around him must have been overwhelming; but he was faithful to God despite everything that was going on. Noah preached for 120 years and never saved a soul, and many would call him a failure; but he kept his family together and because of his testimony his family was saved, and he brought them through the flood so that God could begin again with the human race.
Then there was Joshua, who led Israel after the death of Moses. He was a strong military leader and a faithful servant of God. The nation became strong under his leadership and gained control of the Promised Land. When he was about to die, he stood before the nation of Israel and gave his farewell address. He said, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Josh 24:15) Joshua took a stand for God and his family stood with him, because they believed in him; they believed because they saw the life he led.
Then there is the example of Joseph, who was raised in a dysfunctional home. His father created uproar and anxiety in the home, and because he showed favoritism toward Joseph, his brothers sold him into slavery, and later he spent years in prison for something he didn’t do; but he never stopped trusting God. At the end of his life he was able to stand before his brothers and say, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good,…” (Ex 50:20) He forgave his brothers, and he saved his family and most of the world from starvation, because he believed God no matter what his circumstances. The home of Joseph was so much different than the one he grew up in and his sons were a blessing to him and to their grandfather, Israel.
But what about today; we live in a different type of world than existed in the days of Noah, Joshua and Joseph? There are so many instances today where the man has refused to accept the leadership roll in the home, or they have left the family and women have had to take the lead. We have in God’s word several cases where women have had to take the lead. Let me give you just three examples:
1. Hannah lived in a divided home, because her husband Elkanah had another wife; Peninnah. It is important to remember that even though polygamy can be found to be practiced by many in the Bible that it is not sanctioned by God. Actually, in almost every case it is apparent that there were problems in the home as the result of this arrangement. That is true here, because Hannah was not able to have children, while Peninnah was; and she continually made that an issue. Elkanah loved Hannah and was very good to her, but she was unhappy and wanted a child. She prayed and made a vow to God that if God would give her a son, she would give him back to the Lord. The story is a beautiful one and shows her great faith and devotion to God. God gave her a son; he was Samuel, a prophet and the last judge of Israel, and the one who anointed the first two kings of Israel.
2. Lydia was a wealthy and influential business woman, who lived in the Roman colony of Philippi. She was a seller of purple, which means that she was in the business of dying cloth. There must not have been a synagogue in Philippi, because Paul met her by the river while he was seeking the Jewish place of prayer. She was a Gentile, who believed in the God of Israel, so she must have been a convert to the Jewish faith. She was saved and baptized as the result of her meeting with Paul; and it says that her household followed her. She led her family to Christ, after she believed. It was because of her example that her family and servants believed.
3. Eunice was another remarkable woman. She was a Jewess who took the responsibility of teaching her son Timothy the Holy Scriptures, and according to 2 Timothy 3:15, making him “wise for salvation through faith.” Her husband was a Greek Gentile, and he may have died during Timothy’s early years. In any case, there is no evidence that he was a Christian. Two factors molded Timothy’s life. From early childhood his godly mother Eunice and his faithful grandmother Lois touched his life. Unknowingly, they prepared him for God’s call to salvation and then for ministry by teaching him the Word of God. Later, as an adult, he heard the gospel message, and he believed. But his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois were saved before he was. (2 Tim. 1:5). During the Apostle Paul’s first missionary journey around 46 A.D, Eunice and Lois were converted to Christ in Lystra. They showed a true faith (v. 5), and they lived out what they believed. Paul stated that the same faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother was, after that, in Timothy himself, bringing joy to Paul. Eunice and Lois are valuable models. Women can know God’s Word, and they can faithfully teach it to their children. Like Eunice and Lois, they can carefully nurture a true faith in their children. They can model for their children godliness rather than worldliness and Christ likeness as opposed to self-centeredness. Eunice and Lois are living testimonies that nothing in a mother’s life is more important than a personal and vibrant faith modeled before her children. In many cases, especially in today’s homes, where many fathers are absent, women have to take the lead. The key factor is that someone must lead the way, so that the family will follow.
Cornelius was a worthy model as a leader of his family. He took the lead in spiritual matters; he led in prayer and in studying the scriptures. But his actions spoke louder than his words, for he gave to the needy and he was kind and generous toward his soldiers and his neighbors. His wife and children believed in him because of the way he lived.
Cornelius was willing to do whatever was necessary to please God. At first he was afraid when he got the vision from God, but then he became confident when the angel told him that his generosity and prayers had been looked upon with favor by God. He responded to the angels request by immediately dispatching two of his household servants and a soldier who was as devout as himself to the city of Joppa to find Peter.
The second principle that can be found in today’s bible lesson is that GOD WAS CORNELIUS’S ALLY IN REACHING HIS FAMILY.
The meeting between Cornelius and Peter was well prepared for by the Lord. Both Peter and Cornelius had a vision that paved the way for their meeting. Peter’s vision came the day after that of Cornelius’, and the representatives of the Roman centurion were almost to Joppa when Peter went to the roof of Simon’s house to pray. While praying and waiting for lunch to be served, he fell into a trance. In this trance, Peter saw the heavens open and a great sheet joined together at the four corners, descend down to him. This huge sheet was being lowered from heaven and inside was “all manner of four footed beasts…and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fouls of the air.” There were both clean and unclean animals present; for God had forbidden Israel to eat certain unclean animals. Then Peter heard a voice which said, “Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.” This completely amazed and astonished Peter and must have brought his inborn sensitivities to a breaking point, because his Jewish conscience would not permit him to eat anything that was prohibited by Levitical law; therefore, his answer was, “Not so, Lord.” Then he claimed that he had never eaten anything unclean.
But this was to be the first great lesson that Peter was to receive; for God was about to illustrate the abolition of Jewish ceremonial law. The voice from heaven spoke to Peter the second time and said, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common (unclean).” Peter doubted what he had seen in the vision, but he didn’t have any time to think on it, because at that moment the representatives of Cornelius appeared at Simon’s house. Peter met with the men and they told him all about their mission on behalf of the centurion.
The next day Peter, accompanied by six other men from Joppa went with the men to Caesarea. Peter responded as all obedient followers of Jesus Christ do. And that’s the key to our successfully caring for our families spiritual needs; as the spiritual leader we must be obedient to God’s plan. We must show respect for God and rely on Him; then we must follow His guidance.
Now, here is the third principle that is found in our Bible lesson: THE FORMULA FOR A HAPPY HOME HAS NOT CHANGED.
Every home should have a spiritual leader; someone to set an example worthy to follow. Cornelius was such a man, and we have looked at other spiritual men and women who made a faithful commitment to lift up Jesus in their home. I believe that there are three spiritual exercises that are necessary to this happy home.
1. Praying regularly. There should be a definite time for prayer established; a time when the family can all be together. This doesn’t replace personal, private prayer; but is a time for the family to praise God and thank Him for His generous provision.
2. Reading the Word. I have found that for my wife and I, the most benefit comes from reading a commentary along with the Bible and taking time to comment on the passage. We do this before prayer time. Early morning works best for us, because there are fewer distractions. This is one of my favorite times of the day, and I believe that it has brought us closer together.
3. Giving generously. I believe in tithing, and every time we receive a check, the first thing my wife does is write a check to the church. That belongs to God.
Those are just my thoughts and I am sure that there are other things that you can do in your service to God. You must fit your situation; but what ever you do, you must give God willing obedience to whatever He reveals to you as His will.
There is a great biblical example of the influence of a Christian home, which can be found in Paul’s comment to Timothy. He wrote in 2 Timothy 1:5, “when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.” While we know virtually nothing of Timothy’s father, we know that his grandmother and mother infected him with a love for God. Can there be any greater joy than bringing your children and grandchildren to know Jesus. The best example that I could share with you of a Christian home is not the home where I raised my children, but the home in Gray Court that my daughter and son-in-law have. Tony is my son-in-law and he is the spiritual leader. Every night at the same time he calls the family together. They sing a hymn, read the bible and pray. The children are 2, 3 and 5 and they memorize scripture and pray before they eat. This is a strong Christian home and God is blessing them. This is the Anatomy of a happy home.
Do you know what happened when Peter and Cornelius came together? Cornelius had quite a crowd waiting in his home for Peter to arrive. Peter told those who were present about Jesus; about what He did and said, how he was crucified and three days later rose from the dead. Everyone who heard, believed and was baptized. Cornelius was the spiritual leader and head of a truly happy home; a Christian home; the type of home that has been ordained by God.
If we were to dissect a truly happy home, we would find the following:
1. Someone in charge who is living a believable Christian life.
2. Someone who is seeking God’s highest and best truth.
3. Someone who is pursuing God’s will.
Happy homes do not come from a secret formula. They are the result of families who want God to have first place in their lives. So how does this apply to the Inn at Laurens? We are mothers or fathers or grandparents or great grandparents. We have an influence on our families, which can be expressed in what we say and how we live. What greater legacy could we leave to our loved ones than for them to remember us as men and women who loved God? But there’s something else to consider.
This, The Inn, is your home and those seated around you are your family. Is it a happy home? I hope so! I pray daily for your health and happiness. Our greatest asset here is that we are saturated with Bible teaching. There is a devotion every Wednesday, Bible study on Thursdays and a Sunday service. I know that many of you spend time in personal bible study and prayer. Most of all I want to pay tribute to you for the Jesus I can see in you. It is an honor for me to be able to minister to you, and Sierra would agree. Let’s make this a truly happy home for every resident and every one of the staff.
We are off to a good start. We have a good base; bible study, prayer and worship. Add to that the greatest of all Christian virtues-LOVE; love for God and each other.Then we will have a truly happy home.
Let’s pray and ask God to help us love each other more.