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Inheritance

2 Kings 15:1-3

 

“Uzziah son of Amaziah began to rule over Judah in the twenty-seventh year of the reign of King Jeroboam II of Israel. [2] He was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother was Jecoliah, from Jerusalem. [3] He did what was pleasing in the Lord's sight, just as his father, Amaziah, had done.” (NLT)

 Two things in this text intrigue me.  One I will mention in passing, the other is the theme of our worship service today.  If you are familiar with my ministry passion at all, you know that I believe that all members of the church are ministers, called and gifted by God to change the world—even if they are just sixteen.  I believe that churches should empower their members to minister based on three things, their calling, gifts and their character.  Certainly, other factors are at play, but these three ingredients are essential.  Look at verse 2, Uzziah was sixteen years old when he began ruling.

 He was not alone.  The pages of the Bible are sprinkled with young people who are effective in their service to the Lord; people like Daniel, David, John Mark and Rhoda.  Let the full weight of verse 2 sink in–this sixteen-year-old boy was King of Judah.  What is even more remarkable is that verse 3 indicates that he was a good king.

 OK, let’s do a reality check.  Most sixteen year olds aren’t ready to be King.  To be honest with you, I was nervous both times my sons took the car for their first solo trip.  OK, let’s be really honest–I’m still nervous when I think they are on the road somewhere.  That’s what makes this verse so amazing.  God uses ordinary people with character whom He calls and gifts to do extraordinary things–even if they are only sixteen years old.

 The other thing I notice in this text is that Uzziah wasn’t blazing new trails here–he was following his father’s example.  Look at verse 3 “He did what was pleasing in the Lord's sight, just as his father, Amaziah, had done.” 

 As a son, I relate to this verse.  It is easy to get sentimental on a day like Father’s Day and for our words not reflect complete reality.  My father is not a perfect man.  Neither was yours.  Neither am I.  Overall, I am a better man today because Larry Wilson is my father.  A few years ago, a retired pastor (who was a part of the congregation I was serving) stopped by the office to pray for me. Though I don't remember everything he said in his prayer, one phrase does stick in my mind. He prayed, "Lord, bless our pastor as he stands on his Father's shoulders to minister to us." Until that day, I never really thought about the advantages that I have because I grew up in the home of Larry and Barbara Wilson, but since then I've never forgotten them. 

 My father has an impressive list of accomplishments in his life.  Even in retirement, he is doing a substantial ministry and continues to be a world changer.  However, in my opinion, his greatest list of accomplishments he shares with my mother.  It is this one: Tim, Ted, Jim & Lori.  Each of his children, in their own way, has made the world a better place.  Potentially, our children are our greatest legacies.

 Verse 3 says, “He did what was pleasing in the Lord's sight, just as his father, Amaziah, had done.”  How does a father leave a legacy in his children?

 It starts with spending time with them.

 One of the greatest struggles I’ve faced is work-life balance. There are seasons of life where my work has demanded almost all of my strength and energy and other times when my family needed an extra portion of my attention.  The key, I’ve found, is to know my priorities and find the strength to maintain a balance.  No one will do it for me.  I’ve found I have to do it for myself.

 Jack Welch, retired CEO of GE and author of Winning says, “Even the most accommodating bosses believe that work-life balance is your problem to solve.  In fact, most know that there are really just a handful of effective strategies to do that—staying focused on what you’re doing and saying no to demands outside your work-life balance.” (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

 Saying no is tough.  The most important decisions I make in every workweek is what I don’t do.  There is always another book to read or visit to make or problem to solve.  Every sermon would benefit from “just one more hour” of editing or a little more research.  At home, we all deal with “honey-do” lists, at church I deal with “Pastor-do” lists–plans other people have made for my time.  I’m sure it is no different where you work or go to school.  Then there are the organizations that you’re a part of, including the church asking for some of your time. Demands on your time pile up and you have to decide what to say “no” to. 

 However, when I was a young father it was even more difficult.  When my boys were young, I was a full-time pastor while working on a Masters and Doctors degree.  I commuted 120 miles, one way to school and did some substitute teaching on my day off to help pay the bills.  Our church did two building programs in the same period and had all the problems associated with a growing church.  Time was a precious commodity.  In addition, when I was home, I was fatigued from everything else I was doing.

 Perhaps some of you young fathers can relate.  It is a cruel reality of life that young men make less money than more experienced men do, so they have to work longer hours or take extra training so they can get ahead so they can make more money so they can support their families.  They have to sacrifice family time so they can earn enough money to support their family. 

 So what’s the answer?  Don’t know–I’m still struggling with the issue myself, but let me pass along a few things that are helping me.

 First, take a hard look at your EXPECTATIONS. Andy Dappen, author of Shattering the Two-Income Myth says, “Your life can become less stressful, happier, more directed and fuller by embracing one simple idea, one that runs contrary to what we expect as Americans:  you can't have it all.”  (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html) I think one mistake many of us make when we are young is we think we should live at the same standard of living as our parents do, when they’ve had years to accumulate their things.

 Philippians 4:12 says, "I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret [of being content]-whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need." (HCSB) There is a constant trade off between time and money.  Maybe a family can make more time to be together and settle for less money if they stop thinking they can “have it all.”

 Second, understand what a GOOD INVESTMENT really is.  Ben Stein graduated from Columbia University in 1966 with honors in economics and was valedictorian of Yale Law School in 1970.  He is a lawyer, professor, actor, writer, author and frequent guest on Fox News to talk about finance.  Certainly, he is qualified to answer the question, “What’s a good investment?”  However, his answer might surprise you.  He said, “Go home from work early and spend the afternoon throwing a ball around with your son.”  (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html) Notice that he didn’t say “Quit your job and hang out with your kids full-time.”  He said, “Go home from work early and spend the afternoon throwing a ball around with your son.” Psalms 128:3 says, “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house, your sons, like young olive trees around your table.” Time with our families is time well spent.  (HCSB) Some of my best childhood memories are around a baseball diamond or a football field and all of them involve my father setting in the stands or coaching the team.  He spent many hours at work, yes, but he also budgeted some time for his children.

 Third, continue your struggle to REACH YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL.   Philippians 3:12-14 says, “Not that I have already reached [the goal] or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. [13] Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, [14] I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” (HCSB)

 

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