The family unit is constantly under attack today as people do not see the importance of family or what even makes a family unit. Marriage and the Family were both designed by God .
Genesis 2:22- 24 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made[h] into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Why should we even get married and what is the purpose of marriage are questions this generation is asking. But God established the Family to not just populate the earth but to also teach the next generation about God and His Glory.
Joshua 24:15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Many people have grown hopeless in our society when they see all the dysfunction that our families are facing. You do not have to have the news on very long to see that the family unit is suffering and we can grow disheartened that there is no hope for the future. I believe we can make a difference and I believe the difference is when the family unit lives out the role it can live in their home, the church and then in their community.
To make a difference as a Family
1) See yourself as part of the Story of God
We read the stories in the Bible and although we can get practical application from them we do not always see ourselves as a continuation of the novel that God is writing. We read stories in the Bible and do not see how they are connected to us or Gods big plan for His world. Just like novels have sequels, we too are part of the story that started with Adam and Eve. Every story in the Bible is connected to our story because God’s story is about redeeming mankind back to Him.
If you do not see the significance of how God can use you in your family, church and neighborhood then our worlds situation will seem hopeless. Just like when Israel faced dark times God used regular people to do amazing things, God can do the same thing through you . Not every thing that God accomplished through people is documented in the Bible and there will be many stories told in Heaven about how God used normal people in extraordinary ways.
We are in families, churches and in neighborhoods to tell others of the good news of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
We will see when we get to Heaven how the story is connected even though right now we do not fully understand. Like a movie with a plot twist, you will not understand fully till you get to heaven and see how everything ties together. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
We ask “How does the Bible apply to my Life”? When we should be asking “How does my life apply to Gods plan?”
Sometimes as we walk through the crazy times of this life we cry out to God and complain about our situation. Instead we need to look at the situation we are in and see how He is going to use it for His purposes. Hindsight is always perfect but when we have been tricked to believe that Christianity is about, “My Best Life Now” and how God is supposed to bless my life on earth we tend to use God as a genie instead of the Author of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
When we are trying to gain our best life now we miss that even in our suffering there is purpose. Just like on the cross when Jesus died, that was not a waste as the disciples thought but it was for an eternal good that we will not fully understand this side of Heaven. If Jesus would not have died for our sins then we would have been separated from God for eternity. Everything you go through in this life is not wasted but has eternal significance because God is such a big God that He uses even the evil in this world for His Glory.
Part of the reason we do not see how God uses everything is because Churches have become places that offer self-help ministries that focus on us having a great life now instead of places to come to pray ,hear from, and worship God. Nothing wrong with helping others but we have to be careful that the church is not about us and more about God and doing what He has called us to do. We have to see ourselves as the story of God and if we will at least grasp this concept we will more fully understand how He is using us more than we will ever realize.
2) You have to see yourself as part of the family of God.
One of the negatives of our American culture is that we have made Christianity individualistic and not a corporate body of people. We take scriptures out of context and apply them to our lives thinking we are going to live for Christ as individuals. One verse we use is Philippians 4:13
Philippians 4:13-14 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 14 Yet it was kind of you to share[a] my trouble.
Philippians 4:13 is used by more people to claim their strength through Christ but they miss the entire message by stopping on verse 13. Yes there may be times you will have to stand alone for Christ but God created us to be together. Ever since the Garden of Eden when God said it was not good for man to be alone, (Genesis 2:18) we have been created to work together with other believers.
Another verse we take out of context is Jeremiah 29:11
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 was written to a nation not an individual. Again, our Americanized Christianity has made it where we think we can stand alone and accomplish great things for Christ. Just like the family was created, Jesus created the church to be a group of people who will serve together to reach the world. (Matthew 16:18)
We are called to be in a community of believers to work together to tell others about Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
Another problem that the church faces is that church growth experts have made coming to church about meeting the needs of families instead of families realizing they are to meet the needs of the church. Although I am for excellence in the ministry we have to be careful that we are not just trying to get people to come without commitment to the local body of believers.
As a church we are not looking to draw people in to see how many are coming, we are looking to send people out after they have been grown up in the faith.
Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Although the family unit of a Father and a Mother is Gods starting point the church is also known as a family. What made the church in Acts able to grow so quickly was accepting people who were kicked out of their biological homes when they became followers of Christ.
One of the reasons people stopped attending church is because they do not want anyone pointing out areas in their life they need to work on. We live in a culture where we are told not to judge anyone even though that is not what the Bible says. Judge not found in Matthew 7:1 has to do with a persons heart or motive for doing something (the unseen) and nothing to do with their outward actions. God places other people in our lives to help us to become more like Christ and to do that we sometimes get rubbed the wrong way. God may be using the very people you are irritated with to make you more like Jesus. Even our marriages have become more about our individual needs than seeing that God has placed us together with someone to make us Holy.
“What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage)
What’s in it for me is the wrong question for church and for marriage it should be What would God have me do. We have been lied to when the movies end with they lived happily ever after and we think that is attainable in a church or in a marriage if we just find another church or another mate.
3) You have to choose who you are going to serve
“If serving God seems undesirable to you”
Joshua begins by pointing out the obvious to them that they desire other things over God. To make a choice is to make a rational decision based on facts. Joshua is pointing out the facts to them that God is the one who has saved them and He is the one who can provide for them. The people were putting their trust into temporary things that they thought would bring them a happy life. The world is always going to offer you things that they say will lead fulfillment but you will quickly find that all of those things do not lead to happiness only more disappointment.
1) The god of sports and School
Whatever you decide to do regarding school or sports someone will tell you that it is the wrong way to do it. There is a lot of energy put into school choices and there is a lot of time and energy put into having your kid in the right sport at the right school with the right coach.
Families who will not allow their child to miss a homework assignment or a practice will neglect to talk to their children about their spiritual lives. We have placed our focus as families on the temporal things of this life instead of the eternal things in the life to come. It is amazing how many people do marathons, color runs, cross fit, which are all good things but do not take time to read their Bibles in the morning.
1 Timothy 4:8 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
One of the ways that God told them to remember what was important was to repeat the shema every morning as a family.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
I am not anti sports and I believe in getting the best education you can, but you must keep the priority on God and not on the things that will one day pass away. Less than 1% make it to be a professional athlete, yet 100% can make it to Heaven so we need to focus on the only thing that really matters.
2) The god of busyness
We are afraid to ever tell someone we are just relaxing because we know that they will say, “That must be nice.” We have busy contest with others by comparing our days or even our years with each other. Have you ever told someone how busy you were only to be outdone by how busy they are?
“Apparently, to admit that one is relaxing or taking time to reflect on life or reading a book (or even taking a nap) is to admit that one is not all that important to the world.” (Kingdom Family, Okholm, pg 23)
Busyness has ruined a lot of marriages and families because there is no time to build the relationships in our households because we are always going from one place to the next. We stay busy and keep our children busy so that others can know how important we and our kids are. We do not say no to anyone because we have to feel needed and we do not want to disappoint by saying no.
Never admit you are tired because if you do then you are weak. Children are getting on average one hour less of sleep than a century ago and we have more energy drinks on the market than one can count. Instead of doing the right thing and slowing down we use supplements to so we can pack more into our busy lifestyles.
Jesus was never in a hurry and had more demand on His life than anyone else that has ever lived. If you can imagine the crowds that needed healing, His great teaching or who just came to see Him perform great miracles you would understand how much He had to say no to. Jesus knew the importance of stopping and being still before God and also saying no to the less important things so that He could accomplish the right things.
Mark 1:35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Notice God will be exalted when we are still. We have to choose as families to stop or our calendars will get filled with good things but not great things and we will leave no time for God. If Jesus thought that it was important to spend the mornings with God then we also must find time to be with Him.
3) The god of technology
Email, text messages, phone calls, Facebook, twitter, Instagram, movies, sports shows, news outlets and games on our phones have taken over our lives.
We do not just live in the age of information we live in the age of information overload. We are so consumed by everything that we do not give attention to anything. No matter how much we try and get away the technology does not allow us to not respond to phone calls, emails or work related items.
Technology is great and there are many things we should benefit from because of it but it also has turned into a god for many people. Try moving away from your phone for a day and it will be a struggle for you because you have become so addicted to it.
4) Many other gods
The list can go on and on but the point is that we serve gods just like they did and we have to make a choice who we are going to serve. The reason you have to make a choice is because you will serve something.
Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
We serve a lot of things that by their outward appearance do not seem to be a god but we have made them gods by the amount of time and devotion we have given them over our time and devotion to the true God. We are not choosing from Bad to good but Good to excellent. Many families do not see how these other gods have come into their lives and taken over and actually robbed them from their time with God.
Joshua makes it clear that if you are going to serve God then you cannot serve the idols of the world and you have to make a conscience, deliberate choice to do so. Some of the choices you make may not make sense to others. If you choose to not play summer ball or enroll them in a special school so that you can serve the Lord then you will be questioned.
The people go on and make a declaration to God in front of witnesses that they are choosing God.
Joshua 24:16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods,
4) Use the temporal things for eternal purposes
We can make a difference in our world if we use the things of the world for eternal purposes. All the things you do in your life you should do with a bigger purpose in mind. If you are on a travel team it should not be to just be on the travel team but in order to build relationships with people who do not know Jesus Christ.
We have to change our focus so that we use the good things (temporal) for eternal things. We have to stop worrying about our child’s playing time and start focusing on the real reason they are on the team in the first place. God has put us in neighborhoods, schools and even athletics for a bigger purpose.
Families need to rethink their purpose with their children’s friends.When your child’s friends come over you need to look at that as a chance to get to know them better and find out what they believe about God and His plan to save them through Jesus Christ.
So many families are so dysfunctional that when others come over it is a chance for some students to have a somewhat normal life and a different view of marriage.
“As increasing numbers of families continue to be fractured and fragmented, Christ-centered families will stand out more and more as outpost of light in neighborhoods of darkness. Jay Strother
We have an opportunity as a church to make a difference in our community because of our families. We need to look at things in light of eternity and not just what this world has to offer. Joshua’s family made a choice and it changed a nation. Never underestimate what God can do through you as you see yourself as part of His bigger plan.
Have you and your family made a choice to serve God?
Why are you doing the things you are doing, for Him or for yourself?
Do you pray for those around you that God has placed in your life?
Have you declared that you and your house will serve the Lord?
What good things are you doing that have now become your god?