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Leaving a Legacy

Proverbs 4:1-7
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“Listen, my sons, to a father's instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. [2] I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching. [3] When I was a boy in my father's house, still tender, and an only child of my mother, [4] he taught me and said, ‘Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live. [5] Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. [6] Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. [7] Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.’” (NIV)
 
Tammy was Daddy’s little girl.  At 12, she brought down the house at her church’s talent show.  She’d sung several times as a child, but this was her first entry into “adult singing.”  She left them stunned.  Over the next four years she performed at several talent shows throughout the community and took home a blue ribbon every time.  It was effortless.  She was a natural.  At one show, there were over a thousand in attendance.  She was about the twentieth performer, and when she sang electricity filled the air.  Around a hundred kids ran down the aisle and screamed at her like she was a rock star.  The next year she auditioned for the television show “Star Search” and made the final cut, but didn’t show for the last call because she had a date that night that she didn’t want to miss.
 
Tammy was a natural, but she wasn’t the brightest candle on the cake.  Don’t get me wrong, she was brilliant, it is just that she lacked drive, determination and common sense.  In short, she lacked wisdom.  The final call for Star Search wasn’t the only appointment she missed; Tammy had a hard time finding the school building many mornings, resulting in truancy.  Up until 10:00 pm, the night before graduation, it didn’t look like she’d graduate, but at the final hour, she turned in her missing assignments and graduated with her classmates.
 
At her graduation, Ron was shocked to see her walk in with the valedictorian and class president.  What he didn’t know was that the school administrators had asked her to sing the National Anthem.  As she approached the microphone to sing, the five-thousand people in attendance went wild.  Tears formed in Ron’s eyes; he was proud of his little girl.  He wasn’t going to let everything else that was going on in her life rob him of this moment of pride.  He relished it.  He deserved it.
 
A local amusement park had a talent show, which Tammy won, hands down.  “She’s the most talented person we’ve heard in twelve years” the organizer of the event said, and then offered her a job singing and being an ambassador for the park.  She took the job, but was fired a week later for coming to work late and neglecting her duties. That was fine with her; she got another job singing with a band from the area and started playing the local nightclub scene.  That’s when it happened.  She started using marijuana, but she soon graduated to harder drugs.   
 
She was married for the first time, while she was four months pregnant.  “For the sake of the baby” Ronald helped Tammy and her new husband establish themselves.  He put a $10,000 down payment on a furnished mobile home.  Soon, her husband bailed, but she replaced husband #1 with a live-in boyfriend, who returned her kindness by getting her pregnant again.
 
The drugs continued.  Problems escalated. Child Protective Services removed the children from the home due to neglect and Animal Control took their dog away for the same reason. Tammy’s Mother-in-law hired a lawyer and got custody of the children. Ronald paid $2500.00 to clean the trailer—it was a mess, dog feces everywhere. They’d stripped its appliances, even the air conditioner and sold these things for drug money.  Ronald paid another $1500.00 to get out of the contract.
 
Ron prayed.  He was desperate for wisdom.  He needed to know when helping isn’t helping.  He wasn’t a wealthy man.  $14,000 was a significant amount of money, but he didn’t want to see his little girl live like this either.  Should he just accept the situation, or was there something else he could do?
 
As he prayed, he knew that he couldn’t change his daughter.  He had no control over her drug addiction, inability to hold a job, dishonesty, inability to care for her own children, lack of spiritual concern or ability to support herself.
 
Ron found himself in a situation where he wanted for his daughter what he needed the most himself—wisdom.  Our text says, “Listen, my sons, to a father's instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. [2] I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching. [3] When I was a boy in my father's house, still tender, and an only child of my mother, [4] he taught me and said, ‘Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live. [5] Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. [6] Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. [7] Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.’” (NIV)
 
Solomon was giving to his sons the legacy he got from his father, good earthy advice about the really important things in life.  At the core of the instruction is the need to pass on to his sons the wisdom he got from his father.  I notice three things about this wisdom.
 
THERE ARE SOME THINGS WE WANT OUR CHILDREN TO UNDERSTAND
 
We want them to have basic life skills and to make choices that don’t destroy their lives.  Much of our job as fathers is to give our children choices in life. We want them make good choices.  Romans 16:19 says “Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” (NIV) And Ephesians 5:15-17 says “Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, [16] making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. [17] Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.” (NIV)
 
THERE ARE SOME THINGS THAT WE WANT OUR CHILDREN TO KNOW
 
Beyond getting a good education and knowing how to survive in this cruel world, we want our children to know the ways of the Lord.  Solomon learned from his father and passed on to his children the commandments of the Lord.
 
THERE ARE SOME THINGS THAT WE WANT OUR CHILDREN TO HAVE
 
We want our children to have the basic necessities of life, but we also want them to have wisdom.  2 Corinthians 1:12 says “Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace.” (NIV)
 
We want our children to have wisdom, but we want the wisdom to affect the choices they make. James 3:13 says “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” (NIV)
 
Tammy’s third marriage ended like the other two and now she is living with another man.  Ron says.  “But the reality is that she is still our daughter and they are still our grandchildren.”  The oldest grandchild just joined the Marines.  When he heard the news, Ron was proud.  Actually, he hadn’t been that proud in years, not since his daughter sang the National Anthem at her graduation.  
 
But he also knew there were some things that he could do and he prayed for the courage to do them.  After her second marriage failed, she came home to live with them.  Ron and his wife saw that she got some counseling and encouragement.  They saw that she saw a doctor, who diagnosed her as a manic-depressive and began treating her for her problem.
 
Ron also prayed for wisdom.  He knew that he and his wife had done the best they could with all three of their girls.  One of them is wayward.  There’s nothing they could do to change that, but they could see that they didn’t enable her disease.  They breathe a prayer for wisdom every time she asks for something else, and God answers their prayer.  “Our lives and commitment to God must continue,” Ron says, “We cling to each other, and we cling to our faith.”
 
Sometimes that’s the wisest thing a person can do.  

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