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Father’s Day Sermon (2012) June 17, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Acts, Family, Father's Day, Humililty, Paul's Life.
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LEAVING THE CHILDREN HOME
Acts 21:4-6

There is much more said in the Old Testament about being a wise believing father than there is in the New Testament. In fact Proverbs is the book about being a wise believing father and we need to spend more time in it than we do. Yet we do have glimpses of what it means to be a wise believing father and we have one of these glimpses here in Acts 21. This passage doesn’t exemplify everything we need to be wise believing fathers and husbands but it does show us a couple of things that we could implement into our lives.

A. A wise believing father ensures that his family is around good Christian leaders. These men wanted their wives and children around the Apostle Paul. You might argue that we don’t have any apostles but we do have spiritual leaders within our church and we need to make sure that our children are around these people so that they might learn from their example. You see, none of us can teach our sons everything that they need to know. It takes a church to raise wise believing children.

Is it worth it? “According to an ancient legend, the chessboard was originally invented in India. The wealthy ruler was so appreciative of the new game that he offered to reward the inventor and asked him what he wanted. His answer was simple. He asked for a single grain of rice to be placed on the first square of the board. Then he asked for twice as much on the second square, and that the ruler would continue doubling the rice on each square until the board was filled. It doesn’t sound like a lot for a new game, but when you do the math it takes over 4.8 billion metric tones of rice to fill the last square. That is more than eight times the current worldwide annual production of rice.” Is it worth investing our church in wise believing children?

The major objection to this is that the church is full of hypocrites. I don’t doubt that is true. My problem is how do you tell the hypocrites from the real person who is flawed. The twelve men following Jesus were guilty of many of the same sins of which Jesus accused the Pharisees. Neither group was really aware of their failures. That is why Jesus needed to point them out.

The church is the family of God and he has put us as fathers over his family. Mothers play a role. Grandfathers and grandmothers, uncles and aunts, nieces and nephews all play a role. It takes a church to raise wise believing children.

1. Good Christian leaders are those who have taken up their cross. While we are all to take up our cross and follow him, it is significant that Jesus chose twelve men, men who were to be leaders, and taught them how to take up their cross. Jesus related to these men as the Messiah but he also related to them as men to men, leaders to leaders. David Murrow wrote in Why Men Hate Going to Church (2005), “Men develop lasting friendships when they’ve suffered together. The bonds formed on a battlefield are enduring. One time I asked my father who his best friend was. He identified an old army buddy he’d hardly spoken to in thirty years. Men who have competed together, sweat together, bled together, and overcome adversity together are bonded for life.” That is what Jesus did with these men. Yes, the resurrection was crucial but without that preparation time before his crucifixion, that bond that Peter and John pointed back to in their second and first epistles would never have been formed.

2. Good Christian leaders are those who are humble. Again from David Murrow (2005), “There are certain churchgoers-I call them the humility police-who see it as their job to humble anyone who might get praise or credit.” They discourage hand-clapping after special music. They misunderstand that you can be great and be humble. God encourages greatness. He told Abraham and David, I will make your name great. Jesus said in Mark 10:43, “If you want to be great…” It is great to be great. The path to greatness as a wise believing man is found in accomplishing God’s will in humility. Again, Jesus said, “If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others…The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue many people.” Paul did not shirk from this responsibility. He said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”

B. A wise believing father provides his family memorable religious and church experiences. “Come on, son. The Holy Spirit told me that Paul is going to suffer if he goes to Jerusalem. He is convinced, however, that God wants him to go there to suffer for the name of Jesus. He is sacrificing himself. I want you to come with me and see a man who is great, who stands for something.” This is the Christian education that we need to give our wives and our children. Our lives as men must be those that show our wives and children what it means to live and work as a platoon for fighting with our God against the forces of hell.

1. The emphasis of Christian education is not in knowing facts but rather in learning dependence on God. Knowing facts and going no further is a child’s activity. Knowing every batting average will not help you hit a fastball. Knowing the facts about every animal in the sea doesn’t make you an oceanographer. Knowing verses in the Bible alone will not make you dependent on God. When, however, you take those verses and learn through them and the experiences that God allows you to go through, when those verses become more than just facts, they become powerful and vital to your life. These men wanted their wives and children to see a man who was dependent on God.

2. The emphasis of Christian education does not separate the family from the church and gives to neither priority. While you need to have your family exposed to Christian leaders, they need to see you as a Christian leader. I’m not talking about being a pastor or a deacon. Your family needs to see you as someone who achieves something of importance in this church. If your kids are not home, your wife still needs to see you as a vital part of the platoon, someone who, if he is missing, gives an advantage to the enemy, the one who desires to destroy both your family and the church.

Men, we are going to make mistakes. Lee and Clark in Boys to Men (1995) tell how a grocer had worked side by side with his son in a neighborhood grocery store, teaching him what it means to be a man of integrity. Once while “restocking some shelves, he noticed [his son] running out the door, leaving the cash register unattended. When his son returned, [the father] gave him a mini-lecture about responsibility. When he finished, he asked [his son] why he had run from the store. ‘Well, that older lady who was just in here paying for her groceries dropped a twenty-dollar bill when she opened her purse, and I didn’t notice it on the floor until after she left. I was trying to catch her to give it back to her.’” Let that be the type of mistake we make.

The Family Heritage (Ecclesiastes 2:18-26) November 21, 2010

Posted by roberttalley in Ecclesiastes, Family, Father's Day, Solomon.
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THE FAMILY HERITAGE (Ecclesiastes 2:18-26)

Heritage is an important theme in the Old Testament. When you follow the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Saul and David, you find that the heritage left for the oldest son was crucial. It is why in each of these cases God decided who would be the son of the promise. Isaac was chosen over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Joseph and Judah over their ten other brothers, and Solomon over all his brothers. You see heritage is more than possessions. It is more than proud memories as those that we celebrated this past Thursday on Veterans Day. Heritage is even more than the DNA which we have from our birth parents. Heritage is that which God has given us that our children have use of in their life. It may be possessions, proud memories, ethnic identity, or a godly worldview. Whatever it may be, there is always something that we pass on to our children, the family heritage.

I. There is no guarantee, however, that the heritage we leave behind will be cherished (2:18-23). Genesis tells us about Esau. His grandfather had received the initial promise from God. His father was the son of that promise, the miracle baby, Isaac. As the oldest son, Esau was next in line for that promise. He was a hunter. Coming back from an unsuccessful hunt, he met his brother cooking a pot of pea soup. He was hungry. He asked his brother for a bowl. Jacob said, “I’ll trade you a bowl of soup for your heritage.” Esau did not care, “What good is my heritage if I am dead?” His statement showed a lack of faith in God’s promises and his family’s heritage. Esau did not cherish the heritage God had given his family.

Our children make their own spiritual decisions (2:18-19). This is the hardest lesson as parents that we have to learn, there are no guarantees. Often we quote with hope, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Unfortunately, that is likely a mistranslation. More like it should read, “Train up a child in the way he wants to go and when he grows up he will continue in his old ways.” Yet there is hope, even if we as parents mess up. We can start over. Jesus said, “Except a man is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven.” How is one born from above? 1 Peter 1:22-23 explains, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever…” In other words you hear the truth of the word of God, you believe the truth of the word of God, and you obey the truth of the word of God.
a. Our children may not embrace their godly heritage (2:20-23). “The father wants a legacy; the son wants autonomy. The father feels betrayed when his son exercises his freedom in a way that robs the father of his legacy. The son spends his life caught in the tension of wanting both independence and approval. To gain approval, he must cooperate with his father’s view of life; but to feel independent, he must violate it.” (from God of My Father by Larry Crabb, Jr. and Sr.).

II. We are to enjoy life as a gift from God (2:24-26). Walter C. Kaiser points out that not only the possession of the blessings of life but also the ability to enjoy the blessings of life is a gift from God.

a. When we please God we receive the ability to enjoy God’s gifts of wisdom, knowledge, and joy. The unbeliever cannot actually enjoy life as God intended. He can take pleasure in things as Solomon did but when it is all over, the pleasures simply slip through his hands (2:26b).

b. We might seek for these things (1:12-2:11) but in the end there is no profit unless God gives us the ability to enjoy it. A man once told Max Lucado, “I learned, that once I had what I wanted, I found I didn’t want what I had.” (from the Inspirational Study Bible).

III. We are to live for God while we have life (11:8-12:1). Ecclesiastes was written with death in view. The heritage we provide for our children is only for this world. It is in the nasty now and now and not the sweet by and by in which we are to live for God.

a. Rejoice in the good (11:6-9). Solomon reminds us here that it is not wrong to pursue the good things of this life. It is not wrong to dream dreams, to get educated or trained, to build houses and wealth, to establish a career, to provide a heritage for your family, to enjoy a retirement. In all of these things that belong to our life we are to rejoice. As we rejoice we are to remember that we are accountable to God. We are not ultimately accountable to the future generation nor even to the present generation but to God, who judges everything correctly.

b. Remove all wickedness (11:10). Martin Luther used to say that we should live a life of repentance. Of what have you repented of this week. Has God convicted you of any sin? Have you dealt with it or have you shrugged it off and said, “It’s no big deal.” Perhaps you are struggling to remove wickedness in your life but cannot seem to put it off. You need to immerse yourself in God’s Word. We can help you with that. We can show you how to study God’s word in such a way that you can confess and forsake your sin. You need to immerse yourself in prayer. We can pray for you also. You need to immerse yourself with the fellowship of God’s people. Some of them have sat or are sitting exactly where you are sitting. Take your sin, however, seriously and repent and forsake it.

c. Make plenty of room for God (12:1). It is likely that someone sitting here today has not put their faith and trust in Christ. Jesus died for your sin. You deserved to be punished in hell for eternity but Jesus, who was without sin, died on the cross for your sin. God allowed His Son to be sacrificed for you. You need only trust the resurrected Christ as the only way of salvation from sin. Whether you need to be saved and forgiven or you need as a believer to conquer sin in your life, make room for God.

Have you any room for Jesus, He who bore your load of sin?
As He knocks and asks admission, Sinner, will you let Him in?

Room for pleasure, room for business – But, for Christ the Crucified,
Not a place that He can enter In the heart for which He died?

Room for Jesus, King of glory! Hasten now, His Word obey;
Swing the heart’s door widely open, Bid Him enter while you may.
(Source unknown, adapted by Daniel W. Whittle)

A lady once asked Mr. Wesley, “Suppose that you knew you were to die twelve o’clock tomorrow night, how would you spend the intervening time?” “How, madam?” he replied, “why just as I intend to spend it now. I should preach this evening at Gloucester, and again at five tomorrow morning; after that I should ride to Tewkesbury, preach in the afternoon, and meet the society in the evening. I should then repair to friend Martin’s house, who expects to entertain me; converse and pray with the family as usual; retire to my room at ten o’clock; commend myself to my heavenly Father, lie down to rest, and wake up in glory.” (from Spurgeon’s Encyclopedia of Sermons). We need to live in such a way, that nothing we are planning would need to be changed.

Next week: Psalm 30 “Thanksgiving and Prosperity”

Evaluating a Generation February 15, 2010

Posted by roberttalley in Character, Contentment, Depravity, Family, Humililty, Hypocrisy, Judgment, Materialism, Proverbs, Religion, Sermons.
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EVALUATING A GENERATION
Proverbs 30:10-17

Agur recognized that without dependence on God’s Word (verse 5) he was not only without answers to some of the most important questions of life (verses 2-4) but also that he was defenseless against temptation (verses 7-9). Although Agur prayed for God to protect him from temptation, he did not pray for God to isolate himself from temptation. What he did do, however, is look at the world around him and note those things about the world system of which he did not want to be a part.

Now we should evaluate the generation in which we live, the world system which is all around us but we should not stop there. When we look at the world, when we look at our generation, we must first evaluate ourselves. You see, the world is corrupt, the world sins, a generation becomes evil for the very same reason that we are susceptible to temptation. Our sinful flesh is corrupt and we sin. For that reason, we will evaluate our own hearts first before we look at the generations around us.

A. We can evaluate ourselves by how we treat those above us and below us (verses 9-10, 17). The importance of impartiality in our personal relationships cannot be overemphasized. James 2 says that we are to be impartial as God is impartial and that how we treat those above us and below us is an indication of the reality or the lack of reality to our faith in Christ. “All men are created equal” is not an American concept but rather a heavenly one.

In verse 10 we have a man who is slandering a slave. The slave is defenseless. The master will believe the other free man, not the slave. The slave will be punished unjustly. We all agree that this is unjust but how many times have we bullied someone, slandered someone, or laughed at someone who we feel is inferior to us. This is sin. The Bible points this out repeatedly and yet we continue to do it. Why? We have allowed our desire for importance to follow the way of the world around us.

One of the worst things about this type of sin is its contagiousness. Hans Finzel in his book on leadership, “The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Makes” puts it this way, “[It] can become like a chain reaction. The boss barks orders to the employee. The employee goes home and barks orders at his spouse. The spouse barks orders at the children. The children kick the dog, and the dog chases the neighborhood cat! (page 25)” It is the way of this generation.

a. Mistreatment, however, of those below us will not go unpunished (verse 9). The slave who is slandered as he goes to the whipping post curses the man who slandered him. There is nothing more that the slave can do. It appears that the free man will truly go free. Agur says, “You will be found guilty.” By whom? God Himself.

I know that it appears that we get off free but we should not forget that we will be repaid according to the deeds we have done in our body. Vengeance is the Lord’s. He will repay.

b. Disrespect for those above us will not go unpunished (verses 10, 17). Now specifically Agur is talking about children and their parents. This is so important that it was a part of the original Ten Commandments. It was the first commandment with a promised blessing. A child who knows this and disrespects their parents is described for us in verse 6. They are adding their own viewpoint to God’s Word. They will be exposed by God for what they are. Verse 17, describes for us more specifically the price they will pay for their disrespect. The eye that mocks, that despises, that disobeys the one in authority over them will be picked out by the birds and eaten. The picture here is of someone who is already dead and the ravens and the vultures, birds that primarily eat carrion, will feast on those who turn their back on God’s commandment and disobey their parents. Now this may not be fulfilled literally in your life but there will be a price paid by the one who disrespects authority.

Now it is easy for us as parents to stand up and shout, “Amen!” Are we any better? Do we show respect for those over us? Do we mock our boss at work or the policeman on the street? During the past year I have been greatly embarrassed by believers with whom I am personally acquainted who have taken great liberties in making fun of our President. The believer who makes mock at our President through watermelon jokes is not exempt from verse 17. I do not know how God will act but He will not tolerate such evil from us.

B. Not only can we evaluate ourselves by the way we treat those above us and below us, we can evaluate ourselves by our self-righteousness. Verse 12 says, “There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness.” If ever there was a definition of self-righteousness, this is it. This is where religion and worldliness meet and breed sin. This where self-deception reaches its most dangerous.

When Jesus attacked the self-righteous, religious leaders of his day, he said to them, “…you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27). He called them hypocrites not because they were pretending to be pure when they really were not but because they were truly convinced that they were pure although they were actually full of filth.

Now self-righteousness is a hard thing to evaluate. By its very nature, it avoids self-detection. There are, however, some attitudes and actions that might indicate you are self-righteous:

1. The self-righteous exalt themselves in external religious duties (Luke 18:11-12).
2. The self-righteous seek to justify their own sin (Luke 10:25-29).
3. The self-righteous are more interested in what man thinks of them than in what God thinks of them (Luke 16:113-15).
4. The self-righteous seek God’s righteousness through their own goodness rather than through faith in Christ (Romans 9:31-10:4; Proverbs 20:6, 9).
5. The self-righteous condemn the righteousness of others (Matthew 10:10-12; Luke 7:39).
6. The self-righteous despise and slander others (Luke 18:9-11; Proverbs 30:10).
7. The self-righteous walk in their own way (Isaiah 65:2-5; Proverbs 21:2; 30:6).

Self-righteousness is also contagious. In Luke 11:46 and 52, Jesus said to the self-righteous lawyers of religion, “…you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers…you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.”

Will the self-righteous escape the awful justice described in verse 17? No, Jesus said to those same self-righteous lawyers, “…‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ so that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation” (Luke 11:49-51).

C. We can evaluate ourselves by our arrogance. Verse 13, “There is a generation-oh, how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up.” Certainly, this is an extension of the previous verse. The emphasis here is on their pride rather than their self-deception.

Paul in Romans 12:1-2 begs believers to “…present [their] bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God…and [to] not be conformed to this world…” Is pride and arrogance an indication that someone is worldly? Absolutely! Paul commands the same believers in the next verse “…not to think of [themselves] more highly than [they] ought to think, but to think soberly…” Pride and arrogance are characteristic of worldliness. We, however, are not of this world and should think soberly, that is, in our right mind. At the end of Proverbs 30 in verse 32, Agur states this similarly but in a negative manner, “If you have been foolish in exalting yourself…put your hand on your mouth.” Now foolishness is not only an unwise type of thinking but in it is a sinful type of thinking. When I am arrogant and proud, I am foolish and sinful.

Many of us have quoted and almost all of us have heard Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Commonly, we soft-pedal the emphasis of this verse. We use this verse to mean that embarrassment will follow the proud person. That is not the emphasis of this proverb. Solomon is speaking of judgment. The proud will be judged. Our pride, our arrogance, our self-righteousness will not escape. We will be judged accordingly.

D. Finally, we can evaluate ourselves by the selfish destruction caused by our insatiable greed (verses 14-16). It is easy to read this and say, “Well, that isn’t me!” Are you sure? Let me ask the question this way, “What are you willing to do to get ahead?” “Who are you willing to hurt, so that you might reach your goals?” Certainly, economic greed is in view here but there are many other types of greed. Do you care more for your interests, your ways, and your ideals or do you care for others?

a. You see, greed does not care who it hurts (verse 14). James 4:1-4 describes the worldly attitude of those who in their greed for their own pleasure, for more money or power or prestige. They war and fight, they murder and covet, they are friends of the world and enemies of God.

b. Greed is never satisfied (verses 15-16). Agur uses five examples to show us the emptiness of greed and the futility of discontentment. The blood-sucking leech drinks and drinks and drinks. It does not concern itself for the health of its victim. It wants what it wants. It is never satisfied.

Then there is the grave. Death never fills its quote. It never takes a holiday. The grave never says, “I have enough.” It is never satisfied.

Then there is the barren womb. Some of you ladies know exactly what is being described here. The woman who cannot have a child will go to extreme lengths to have one. We have whole industries built on the yearning of women to bear or to have a child. Hannah’s husband said to his wife, “Am I not better to you than ten sons?” The Bible does not tell us how she answered but what it does tell us is that she went to God and began to bargain with Him for a son. The answer apparently was, “No.”

Then there is the earth that is not satisfied with water. The earth needs rain every planting season in order to produce crops? If we have abundant rain this year and no rain next year, the rain of this year will not satisfy the need of the earth for water. It will become in one year without rain barren and desertlike.

Finally, there is fire. There are three things that a fire needs to burn: heat, air, and fuel. The thing about fuel is this. The fire never says, “I’ve got enough.” It is insatiable.

Is that a picture of your life? Are you driven by greed? Are you driven by your ego? Are you driven by the acclaim and recognition of men? If so, then you are an enemy of God and His enemies will be destroyed and left for the birds to pick over. That is the judgment of God against this generation and against every generation that follows the way of this world.

What then should we do? If you are believer, then obey James command in James 4:7-10, submit yourself to God. Humble yourself before your Lord. If you have not trusted Christ, the answer is found in Romans 5:8-10, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” You need to confess that you are God’s enemy, deserving of damnation, and you need to trust Christ as the only way to make things right between you and God.

Why Sports Talk Shows Condemn Tiger Woods December 9, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Character, Family, Religion, Sports, Temptation.
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Adultery is sin. That is what the Bible says.

Adultery is wrong. That is what a couple of sports talk show hosts (one national, one local), to whom I have listened, say.

What really concerns me is their questioning the wisdom of marriage for someone like Tiger Woods or some other top-of-his-game-sports star. Perhaps they are just overstating their case.

We need, however, to take marriage seriously. It is a wonderful gift from God. It is the way God intended for us to live on this earth. It is the way God made us. Our sinful desires and ways keep us from experiencing marital bliss but our abuse and misuse of the gift does not cheapen the gift itself.

Our young people, especially Christian young people in our church, need to hear the other side of the story. They need to know that marriage is a good thing, a wonderful thing. They need to hear that from the Word of God but they also need to hear that from us married adults.

They need to know that marriage is not a relationship of bondage but of joy and fulfillment. They need to hear that from us. They need to see that in us. They need to know that Tiger Woods messed up, not because he married and set himself up for temptation but because he violated a sacred promise that God holds every married person accountable for because it is a gift from Him.

An article from my mom August 6, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Family.
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http://journals.aol.com/talleyarthur/Growing-Old/#Entry1305

My father has a new blog July 7, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Blogroll, Family, Witnessing.
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Growing-Old is the name of my father’s new blog. His latest post is a recent witnessing experience of his. You can find the link for Growing-Old on the blogroll or you can click this http://journals.aol.com/talleyarthur/Growing-Old/