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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Grandparents' Day 2015 Message - Unconditional Love

I was blessed and honored to be the guest speaker at the 2015 Grandparents' Day service at Abundant Life Christian Church, Los Angeles, CA.  The link for the video of the service is at the end of the manuscript.


The idea of Grandparents Day was started by Marian McQuade of West Virginia in 1970 when she initiated a campaign to establish a day to honor grandparents. Mrs. McQuade had behind-the-scenes support of her husband Joseph L. McQuade. They had 15 children, 43 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild. After being married for over 60 years, Mr. McQuade passed away in 2001. Mrs. McQuade passed away in 2008.

In 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a federal proclamation, declaring the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. This day has been celebrated every year since in honor of our nation’s grandparents.  (September was chosen to signify the "autumn" years of life).

In part, the proclamation reads:

Grandparents are our continuing tie to the near-past, to the events and beliefs and experiences that so strongly affect our lives and the world around us. Whether they are our own or surrogate grandparents who fill some of the gaps in our mobile society, our senior generation also provides our society a link to our national heritage and traditions.

We all know grandparents whose values transcend passing fads and pressures, and who possess the wisdom of distilled pain and joy. Because they are usually free to love and guide and befriend the young without having to take daily responsibility for them, they can often reach out past pride and fear of failure and close the space between generations.

There are three purposes for National Grandparents Day:

  • To honor grandparents.
  • To give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children's children.
  • To help children become aware of the strength, information and guidance older people can offer.
I have 11 grandchildren and been a grandparent for a long time. My oldest grandchild is 23 and the youngest, and my first great grandchild is just a little over one month old. So when I started preparing for this message the Lord had something for me too.

Here are some quotes I found about us grandparents:

  • Grandmothers are mothers with lots of frosting. 
  • Grandfathers are just antique little boys. 
  • Never have children, only grandchildren. 
  • When grandparents enter the door, discipline flies out the window. 
  • Grandmothers never run out of hugs or cookies. 
  • If I had known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, I'd have had them first. 
  • My grandkids believe I'm the oldest thing in the world. And after two or three hours with them, I believe it, too.
  • An hour with your grandchildren can make you feel young again. Anything longer than that, and you start to age quickly. 
  • Grandmother - a wonderful mother with lots of practice.
  • Grandparents are similar to a piece of string - handy to have around and easily wrapped around the fingers of their grandchildren. 
  • No cowboy was ever faster on the draw than a grandparent pulling a baby picture out of a wallet. 
  • Being a grandparent is a chance to try again . . . only this time with a lot more to give and a lot less to prove. 
Grandparents are special people provided by God. We have made enough mistakes to understand that our grandchildren aren’t perfect. We can be great teachers but our best lessons are caught not taught. We’ve been seasoned through heartache, loss, and realism. Jesus isn’t just our Lord, He’s our Friend and Counselor.

Put all these things together and that describes a grandparent who loves like God -- unconditionally.

This is Grandparents Day but the things I want to talk about today apply not just to grandparents but to parents, godparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, or anybody else involved in the nurturing of our children. So if that's you everytime I say grandparents put your name there.

What is Unconditional Love?

The dictionary defines it as affection with no limits or conditions; complete love

When we Christians talk about unconditional love we say it’s Agape the God kind of love.

Agape is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love, the kind of love God has for mankind.

John 3:16 (NLT) “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Unconditional love is the kind of love that caused God to send His Son to pay for the sins of all mankind even when mankind thought nothing of Him and were His enemies.

Romans 5:8-10 (NLT)
8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.

Agape is the kind of love that Jesus showed as He offered Himself as the sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.

John 15:12-13 (NLT) This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

1 John 3:16 (NLT) We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

We all know Paul’s description of unconditional love in 1 Corinthians 13. I especially like the description in verses 4-8

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NKJV)4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

That kind of love has no conditions attached to it.

That’s the kind of love that grandparents have for their grandchildren. Of course there are exceptions but we are not talking about those today. We are talking about the vast numbers of grandparents whose love toward their grandchildren is unconditional. I’m talking about all the grandparents that are here today.

Grandparents have made tremendous impact throughout history. Most of the famous people of the Bible from Adam and Eve on were grandparents. Often the grandparents played a key role, if not the major role, in the way history went.

Hezekiah was one of the best kings of Judah

2 Kings 18:5 (NLT) Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time.

but his father

Ahaz, was one of the worst.

2 Kings 16:2 (NLT Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. He did not do what was pleasing in the sight of the LORD his God, as his ancestor David had done.

On the other hand, his grandfather was Jotham, and he did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord.

2 Chronicles 27:2 (NLT) Jotham did what was pleasing in the LORD’s sight. He did everything his father, Uzziah, had done, except that Jotham did not sin by entering the Temple of the LORD. But the people continued in their corrupt ways.

Hezekiah took after his grandfather and great grandfather rather than his father, and the result was a prosperous time for Judah.

One of the things we know about Timothy is that his Christian faith had its roots in his grandmother.

2 Timothy 1:5 (NLT) I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.

It was my grandmother who caused me to love reading and studying the Word of God. I didn’t realize it at the time but one summer when my brother and I went to visit my grandparents my grandmother made me read at least one chapter of Proverbs every single day. She would make me sit in the same chair and read everyday. I wasn’t real happy about that but one day I read two verses that have stayed with me and something that I try to follow every day those verses are;

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

We use to live next door to my great grandmother, my mother’s grandmother, and every Sunday morning as long as she was able she would be sitting on our front porch waiting to ride with us to Sunday School and church. I mean every Sunday.

Grandparents, your grandchildren need to know that God can still do what God has always done. It’s good to tell your grandchildren stories of God from the Bible, but you also need to tell them how God has and is working in your life. This will have a much greater impact on them when they see your faith in action!

Now to my text for this message today;

Psalm 78:1-8 (NLT)
1 O my people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying,2 for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—3 stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us.4 We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders.5 For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children,6 so the next generation might know them— even the children not yet born— and they in turn will teach their own children.7 So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.8 Then they will not be like their ancestors— stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God.

Let’s take a look at verse 4 – “We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders”

Each generation has a responsibility to help the next generation. It is the older generations that teach the younger generation.

So grandparents we must be faithful in passing down the Word of God to the next generation. We stand between past generations and the generations to come. We are entrusted by those who have gone before us with great and important truths; truths to be preserved and transmitted in their purity to future ages. We must be faithful to discharge this responsibility.
I mentioned Timothy’s grandmother Lois earlier. She passed her faith on to her daughter, Eunice. Then Eunice passed it on to her son, Timothy who grew up to be a great man of faith in the early church.

What are we to pass on?

Verse 3 says “stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us”. In other words the Word of God.

We don’t need to come up with some new spiritual reality. The same God who brought Noah through the flood and Israel through the Red Sea and Daniel through the lion’s den can bring our grandkids through whatever they may face. I don’t mean to disregard the new stuff like social media. I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn in my ministry and these new things can help us reach many more people than in past years. Technology is helpful but the substance, the reality, the basics will never change and we must never try to change them. Our grandkids still need to know the Word of God, they still need to know how to pray and worship, they still need to know how to love their enemies and forgive others. The essentials of what our grandparents, our fathers and our mothers taught us have not changed.

But more than just talking about it, how about living those essentials and being the example for your grandkids? That will make a much greater impact. Not only will your grandkids hear what you say but they will see you live it. How about reading the Bible with them? How about praying with them? How about singing praise songs with them when they are with you? How about letting them see you forgive somebody for cutting you off in traffic instead of screaming at them?

Remember the story about my great grandmother sitting on our porch every Sunday? That made a much greater impact on us than her saying ya’ll need to to get up and go to Sunday School. She went with us. Not only did my grandmother make me read the bible, I saw her and my grandfather reading thiers. My mother and father too, and I know where they got it, and from the stories my grandmothers told me I know where they got it. It’s one thing to tell our grandkids how to live, which may go in one ear and out the other, but it’s quite another to show them how to live.

Our grandkids need the word of God.

But they need it lived out before them. They need see it applied to daily events.

They need to learn the principles of the Word . But more than that they need to also learn how to apply those principles and they can see that in watching you grandmother and grandfather.

Look at verse 5 of Psalm 78;

“For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children,”

Verse 5 is talking about the commandments of the Lord. Our grandkids need to know them, but they also need to hear stories about God’s faithfulness to His people as verse 4 says, “we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders.” They also need to hear your stories about how God has been faithful to you. We should tell our grandkids stories about God’s faithfulness to our parents and their parents.

They need to know of the times that you were down to your last dollar and you didn't know how you were going to pay your rent or house payment but God made a way somehow. Or how like when our family moved to California from Oklahoma, my father was stationed in Thailand, my mother hadn't started teaching and we had to eat spaghetti so much that my brother vowed to never eat spaghetti again, and he never did by the way, but God provided for us. Those are the kinds of things our grandkids need to hear from us. Then when they read or we read to them the story in 1 Kings about about the widow who gave her last to Elijah and then having enough to last until it rained and the famine ended, then that story will become real to them.

They also need to know the will of God.

Verse 5 “He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children”

Life is to be lived in the boundaries of God’s commandments. Every child should know the Ten Commandments as a foundation for good decisions in life.

The consequence of us passing these things forward to our grandkids is found in verse 7 of this psalm;

So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.”

There is no greater heritage we can give our grandkids than a solid faith in God. Material stuff will fail them. There are some problems no amount of money can solve. The economy may fail them. Their friends may even fail them. But God will never fail them.

If they know what He has done for us in the past; if they know how powerful He is and how willing He is to intervene in their lives, then they can live with a peace and joy confident in God’s goodness. They can know that they can take their problems to God in prayer and get some help.

I want to end with this;

Psalm 71:17-18 (NKJV)17 O God, You have taught me from my youth; And to this day I declare Your wondrous works.18 Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.

Psalm 102:18 (NKJV) This will be written for the generation to come, That a people yet to be created may praise the LORD.

This is something written by an anonymous author that I found in preparing this message;

Grandparents bestow upon
their grandchildren
The strength and wisdom that time
And experience have given them.

Grandchildren bless their Grandparents
With a youthful vitality and innocence
That help them stay young at heart forever.
Together they create a chain of love
Linking the past with the future.
The chain may lengthen,
But it will never part....
- Author Unknown

The question is not will our children and grandchildren have faith, but will our faith have children and grandchildren?

Will you pray that your children will find Godly spouses so that you can have Godly grandchildren? Will you ask God to help you influence and impact your grandchildren toward faith? Will you pray for your grandchildren?

Let’s pray.

Sermon Audio