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This is my first Father’s Day sermon.  Though it is my 7th Father’s Day here as your pastor, I have always had a guest speaker or guest musician share the message on Father’s Day.  For some reason, I felt strongly that I was to speak today, so for all of you who were hoping for a guest speaker and a break from me, sorry about your luck.  J

Since it’s Father’s Day, I asked on Facebook this week what folks had learned from their fathers.  Many pointed to the things their Fathers had taught them which set them up for success.  Here are some of the comments people shared:

My dad taught me:

-the value of unconditional love and how important it is to give to others.

-about selflessness, working hard, trusting God, following His leading and not to make excuses.

-to speak only when I really had something to say and not to be afraid to tackle a problem.

-accountability, a strong work ethic and commitment to his kids through quality time.

-to eat well, be honest, laugh a lot and be there when someone needs you.

-to love learning and to continue to learn and seek truth.

-to swim which taught me I could accomplish anything I set my mind and heart to.

-to be content with what I had.

-no matter how busy you are, you have to always find time for God’s word, prayer, and one on one time with God.

-steadfastness and to stand firm for my beliefs.

-to tithe.

-to see the best in everyone.

-to listen more than you speak.

-it is possible to live a Christian life without compromise.

My dad died when I was four.  However, throughout my life, God provided various “dads” to love me and help me. The men of our church stepped up really impacted my life and showed me unconditional love and taught me the way a woman should be treated by a man,

My dad taught me to pray about everything.

What great things to learn from a parent whose main job is to set their children up for success.

In our passage today, King David was about to pass the torch to his son, Solomon.  Before he assumed the kingship, David wisely gave him lots of instruction which if followed would set Solomon up for great success.  Please stand as we read God’s Word together from I Chronicles 28.

I Chronicles 28:9-10:  “And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 So take this seriously. The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.”

He went on to give detailed instructions to Solomon about how the Temple was to be constructed.  Pick up the story again in verse 20:

20 Then David continued, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly. 21 The various divisions of priests and Levites will serve in the Temple of God. Others with skills of every kind will volunteer, and the officials and the entire nation are at your command.”

Silent Prayer

What great advice David gave to Solomon about how to succeed as the next king of Israel and as a person in general.  I see at least three success principles fathers or mothers can share with their children and that mentors can share with others they are mentoring whether you are an aunt or uncle, grandparent, teacher or friend.  The three principles are:

People who do great things:

Know God intimately.

Take their work seriously.

Exercise authority responsibly.

Let’s look at the first one.

Know God Intimately-David told Solomon to learn to know God.  Notice David didn’t say, “Know about God.”  He didn’t even say, “Know His Word” although knowing God involves knowing His Word.  It’s easy to mistake knowing information or even knowing the Word for knowing God. David was helping Solomon understand that success in fulfilling his role as king was tied to having a relationship with God.

Knowing someone involves seeking.  When I get to know someone I ask a lot of questions.  I do a lot of listening.  Have you ever considered one way to get to know God is to ask Him questions?  The Psalmist seemed to have that down pat.  The Psalms are filled with question after question.

Knowing someone involves time.  It’s an investment of time to really know someone.  How much time do you spend every week knowing God?  Not how much time do you spend listening to K-Love or volunteering at church, but how many minutes a week is spent on getting to know God?  Wouldn’t it be awesome to designate the summer of 2013, the “Getting to Know God” summer?

Then David added something to the pursuit of knowing God.  He told Solomon to know God “intimately.”  I think sometimes when we look at the heroes of the Bible, the people through whom God did great exploits; we think the difference between them and us is the power of God.  After considering it, I don’t think it is the power of God that makes them a success.  But rather it is the intimate way in which they related to God.  As a result of the intimacy, God was able to endue them with power.

One could argue that it was their obedience that led to God’s power flowing through them.  Again, after thinking about it, I would disagree as I believe people can be obedient without being intimate.

We emphasize the relational aspect of Christianity.  If you have been in our services or classes you know we emphasize that we are supposed to be connected with God in relationship, but have we embraced that the relationship needs to be an intimate one?

Let me talk a bit further on this topic.  Intimacy doesn’t happen in public.  Intimacy is a private exchange between committed people whether physical, intellectual, or emotional.  In other words, to have an intimate relationship with God, there has to be a private pursuit or a pursuit outside of the Sunday morning and Wednesday night corporate gatherings.  You cannot substitute corporate worship for intimacy with God because intimacy is personal and private.

In Philippians 3:10, the Apostle Paul said, “I want to know Christ AND THE POWER of His resurrection.”  He meant it.  He wanted the mind of Christ to be transplanted into His mind.  He absolutely made knowing God the utmost priority.  He knew that knowing Christ intimately would lead to having the power of Christ flow through Him!  There is a direct correlation.  No wonder God used Him to bring person after person to faith in Christ!  No wonder His passionate preaching turned entire cities white hot for God!

I love how the Amplified Version puts it: 10  [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death.”

I think we are on to something here.  How do you come to be used in a powerful way by God?  You develop an intimacy in your relationship with Him.  Here are some other examples to back up this theory:

Abraham was called God’s friend (II Chron. 20:7 and James 2:23).  There was a closeness between Abraham and God and we know that God blessed Abraham.  His descendants were as many as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.  He became the “father of many nations.”  It started with a close friendship with God!

Moses was someone God made His ways known to (Ps. 103:7).  He talked with Moses “face to face” (Ex. 33:11) as a man would speak to his friend.  What wonderful power God displayed through Moses as he led God’s people out of slavery.  Again, it was born out of an intimacy.

David’s life was characterized by unprecedented military victory.  Why?  There was intimacy between God and David.  God said of David that he was a man after God’s own heart (I Sam. 13:14).

Fathers and mothers, grandparents and aunts and uncles and mentors and friends, are you encouraging other people with your words and your devotion to seek to know God intimately?  If you want to do great things in your life, seek a closer relationship with God.

Second, David instructed Solomon to take work seriously.  Verse 10: “So take this seriously.”  Do we take our work seriously?  This message is for all of us.  What you are doing now matters.  Stay-at-home moms, what you are doing matters tremendously.  Take it seriously.  Not every mom has the opportunity to stay home.  Make the most of it.  Make your home a sanctuary of peace, a place of education, a nest for family intimacy, a space for character development and Bible training.  Take it seriously.  Your job will come to an end when you have to go back to work or when your kids are grown.  Don’t have regrets.

That fast-food job you have matters.  Take it seriously.  People have expectations.  They pay for a product, and they want it to look and taste the way they expect it to.  Your smile could make the difference in their day.  They really may need the napkins you are supposed to stick in their bag as they drive with their knees, eat their meal and spill their coke down the front of them in the process.  It’s a bummer to order nuggets and get down the road only to find out when you open the bag that they forgot your sauce!

Teachers, doctors, administrators, those who lead others, take it seriously.  People’s futures depend on your knowledge and investment.  You enable quality of life when you give it your all to train minds and diagnose problems.

Those who serve in this ministry, take it seriously.  People who are searching for hope and a place to belong, if they are greeted by a friendly face at the door, it can make the difference between becoming a Christian or running back into the arms of the world.  Children’s ministry workers, youth counselors, hospital visitors, ushers, communion servers, worship team, choir members, meal makers, Small Group Leaders, Sunday School teachers, Board Members, Ministry Directors, take it seriously.  If you sign up, show up.  If you say you’ll be there on time, get there.  If you can’t make it, let someone know.  What you do matters!  If there are expectations, meet and surpass them.  The Lord deserves our very best!  When we work hard and take it seriously, God is glorified.

Whatever God has gifted you to do and given you the opportunity to do is a gift from Him.  Take it seriously.  David went on to say in verse 10:  “The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary.”  God has chosen your life to be given to certain tasks.  Work at them with all of your heart as unto the Lord (Col. 3:23).

The rest of verse 10 says, “Be strong, and do the work.”

There are different kinds of people in our society today.  There are people who appreciate what it means to work hard, to be faithful to their jobs, to do their best, and to take pride in their work.  I do believe in many instances, hard work is still rewarded.

Then it seems there are people who are satisfied with getting by, doing what they have to, putting in their time, so to speak.  Whether they excel or not doesn’t seem to really matter as long as they can make it.

Then there is an entirely different group of people who work at getting out of doing the work.  Any excuse to stay home.  Any excuse to leave early.  Any excuse for not doing it well or right.   I decided to google “excuses for not going to work” and boy, did I get an education!  There are entire websites devoted to lists of excuses just in case you might need one.

There is also a website called “bestfakedoctorsnotes.com” where you can download excuse notes that appear to be legit doctors and dentist’s notes.  No joke!

Listen, if you want to do great things in life, you are going to need to do the work.  No excuses.  No half-hearted attempts.  No “just enough to get by” attitudes, but a determination to be strong and do the work.

David was so serious about this principle he said it twice.  He repeated himself in verse 20.  There is a reason “work” is called work.  It can be tiring.  It can be difficult.  That’s why David told Solomon later in verse 20 not to be afraid or discouraged.  What was there to be afraid of?
Well, many people fear failure.  “What if I work hard and don’t succeed?”  “What if I give it my all and still fail?”  If you are walking intimately with God, He will lead you to the work you are to do, and if He has led you to the work, He will not fail you or forsake you.  David told Solomon God was going to see to it that all the work related to the Temple was accomplished and that it was done correctly (vs. 20).  Fear of failure is not a reason not to try, and it is not a reason to not work hard.  The only failure is the person who has never tried to accomplish anything.

We all deal with discouragement.  Sometimes even though you work hard, but someone else gets promoted.  How you choose to handle that discouragement becomes another opportunity to add to your resume’.  How your boss sees you deal with negative situations will be put to your credit.  Some promotions take more time.  Some deals take more cultivation.  Some development comes with some obstacles, challenges, and roadblocks, but again, if God has led you to it, He will lead you through it.

It can be demanding.  Don’t cut corners.  Don’t sacrifice your integrity.  See it through. Do it right.  Have a “no compromise” attitude about the work God allows you to do.

Finally, David suggested that Solomon should exercise authority responsibly.  Re-visit verse 21:  “The various divisions of priests and Levites will serve in the Temple of God. Others with skills of every kind will volunteer, and the officials and the entire nation are at your command.”

David was letting Solomon know there were people he had at his disposal to help him accomplish the work to which he was called.  There were priests.  There were Levites.  There were others who had all kinds of skills.  David said, “People will even volunteer.”  Just ask.  So many times we are afraid to ask people to help us.  (Did I mention we are moving this week? J)  So many bosses and overseers are afraid to ask their employees to do what they are supposed to be doing.  David finished by saying the entire nation was at Solomon’s command.  His people were his greatest resource and how he engaged them, how he used their gifts and talents, how he communicated with them, how he treated them, all of it mattered when it came to being able to complete the big job of getting the Temple built.

All of us have people in our lives whether we are administrators or bosses or not, that God intends to use to help us accomplish His work.  How you treat those who offer to mentor you and help you and support you is crucial to your success.  Being thankful when people step in to offer a helping hand, not taking people for granted, not being demanding or harsh, is all very important.  We need each other in order to succeed.

Every one of you in this room counts on someone, several someones, to supply something you need.  You count on many people to invest in you, be responsible to you, provide something for you, to make good on their promises, to follow through, to be there for you.  Make sure those people know they are valued and important to you.  Make sure they know you aren’t taking them for granted.

Don’t try to go it alone.  There is no way Solomon would have constructed the magnificent Temple without help.  He had to know how to work with others and how to inspire them to come alongside him.  We can enable others to be at their best and to be effective when we ask them to join in the work.  Together we can accomplish so much more than we can on our own.  Leaders who do it alone aren’t really leading.  They are “Lone Rangering.”  We are only leading if people are following and are participating with us.

Fathers, mothers, grandparents, friends, mentors, how are you setting others up for success who are under your influence?  Are you teaching them to:

Know God intimately.

Take their work seriously.

Exercise authority responsibly.

Are you leading them by example?  As Christians we ought to be concerned not only with our success but also the success of those around us.  May God help us make the investments we must make in order to raise others up in His name.

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