Due to the overwhelming response to the recent sermon on the topic of family worship, we wanted to provide the church family with some resources. These resources are intended to help you continue to pursue God no matter what your family dynamic looks like. Below, you will also find a video of the sermon about family worship as well as a typed copy of the text.
Don Whitney, author of Family Worship, says, "We believe that the church today is in desperate need, not of new gimmicks or ideas, but instead, we are in desperate need of people genuinely and wholeheartedly pursuing God in all areas of their life. We have allowed culture and worldly pursuits t force our faith into a compartmentalized section, but God's commands in Deuteronomy 6 remind us that our faith should define every area of our life."
Central's Ministerial Staff recommends the resources listed below regarding family worship. Amazon.com, Crossway.org and wtsbooks.com (Westminster Bookstore) are just three possible sources for these books.
• Family Worship by Donald Whitney
• Shepherding A Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
• Family Worship by Joel Beeke
• Family Driven Faith: Doing What It Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk with God by Voddie Baucham
• Family Religion: Principles for Raising a Godly Family by Matthew Henry
• The Godly Home by Richard Baxter
• Training Hearts, Teaching Minds by Starr Meade
• The Family Worship Book by Terry Johnson
• Rediscovering Family Worship by Jerry Marcellino
• A Neglected Grace - Family Worship in Christian Homes by Jason Helopoulos
• The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones
• The Ology by Marty Machowski
Text of Sermon on Family Worship by Pastor Michael Meadows: Sunday, April 10, 2016
Deuteronomy 6: 4-7:
So this morning we are looking at Deuteronomy. Next week we will be back in Luke and we will be observing the Lord’s Supper together as a body of Christ and we will be looking at the passage there, in fact, as Easter ended, I realized that the next passage was the Lord’s Supper
in Luke, and so, wanting to be able to have that coincide with when we are doing the Lord’s Supper I decided to take a two week break from Luke after Easter. And today I really want to talk to you about something that’s really more of an overflow of my heart as we take a moment this morning to look at a passage found in Deuteronomy. I would like for us to address an issue that I think is a very important issue for the church today, an issue that my heart is very much burdened by. I want to just say at the beginning of this, God is good and there are many things about this topic that my heart is burdened for, that I am going to hopefully be able spend some time this morning looking at and doing justice to God’s Word here as communicated to us through Deuteronomy 6: 4-7.
Now we see here in this passage a very clear, simple command to Israel. And to understand this better it’s important to for us to understand that this is a part, this passage of scripture is a part of what is known as the Shema. Now, the Shema is considered one of the most important statements, if you will, for God’s people over the centuries. The Shema was such an important part of Jewish life that it was expected to be recited daily by the people of God. The Shema was even in Matthew 22 the way that Jesus responded when he was asked by which commandment was the greatest. He responded by telling the first part of the Shema, which actually goes all the way through verse 9 here.
And so this statement here that we are looking at is foundational, if you will, for the people of God. It was an important part of defining who the people of God were and how they lived their lives.
In these few brief words, in the passage we look at this morning, we see a simple yet very grand statement about who God is, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” We kind of read over those words but the truth is that statement is so profound that we could have an entire sermon just dissecting what is being communicated by the words, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one! And we see also what our response to such a great and grand God should be here in this passage. As the people of God, in response to who God is and in response to what God has done on our behalf, we should without question love God with all our hearts, with all our soul and with all our strength. This response should be a given to the people of God. It should be a no brainer. Right? When you think upon the reality of who God is and what God has done for you this response should be a duh moment. Right? One of those moments, like duh, that’s obviously what we should be doing! After all, the creator of the universe, who created all things, redeemed us through the sacrifice of his son so we that may be reconciled to Him. The least we could do is love him with all of our heart, soul, strength. Amen? It should be an obvious thing for us as the people of God. However, it doesn’t take long to look around Christianity and realize that unfortunately it is a very rare thing to find people who genuinely are pursuing God with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their strength. We affirm that this should be a duh moment for the people of God. Yet, we also have to affirm the fact that it is a very rare thing to see people doing what is so simply communicated here in these verses of scripture. And the ironic thing for me is that this command isn’t somehow given for the spiritually elite, you know for those people who just are really extra spiritual. Like I said earlier, this was a command, that this Shema was recited by every Jew, every day. It was the expectation of everyone who was a person of God that this would define who they are. Not just the preachers and the missionaries who go off to foreign countries and live in the bush for twenty years of their life but even for the mom and dad who go to work, work a nine to five, come home, deal with three kids, take them to soccer practice, go to baseball games and still try to find time to come to church once a week and be a family. This is instruction to everyone, yet it is a rare thing to find in Christianity today.
It is a burden of mine, a burden that I have shared with many of you that there are many who profess Christ yet really have no reality of God present in their life. People maybe even seem to love God with some of their heart, and some of their soul, and some of their strength, at best, but their lives definitely don’t look like what’s described here in Deuteronomy 6. Why? Why is it, why is it that we are not characterized by such a simple yet profound statement? What has happened to the church? What has happened to the people of God, to those who profess Christ? What has happened to make us lose sight of one of the most foundational commands for the people of God, a command that dates all the way back to the book of Deuteronomy? A command that our own Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, reaffirms in the New Testament. What has happened to make us lose sight of this simple, profound truth that should define us as the people of God? My fear is that our inability to stay grounded in the first part of our passage today is because we have forgotten to follow through with the second part of this passage. You see, I fear, at best, we have compartmentalized our religious beliefs and practices, so that it’s not a part of our daily routine. Our identity in Christ is important and if I were to poll all of you here today and ask you “Is Christ important to you?” It’s Sunday morning and you are in church, so I daresay all of you would say, “Yes, preacher, Christ is important to me, I’m here after all!” But is he really important to you or is he only important to you on Sundays, holidays and times of great need? You see, if we’re honest with ourselves this morning, other than Sundays, holidays and great times of need, we too often neglect our faith. We neglect our faith and we definitely don’t allow our faith to define who we are. If I were to ask your closest friends what is the most defining thing about you? How many of them would say your faith in God?. Or would they say your love of sports, or your love of knitting, or your love of soccer, or your love of TV, or your love of video games, or your love of whatever, fill in the blank. It’s one of those ‘If you can’t say amen, say ouch’ kind of questions. What is that which the people around you would say is the most important thing to you? I daresay, all of us, if we’re honest, are afraid to say the truth which is that most people around us would say something other than Christ.
The way of family worship is a good old way, no new thing, but the ancient usage of the saints.” The Second London Confession of 1689 (which was a Baptist confession of faith) stated it this way, “
God is to be worshipped everywhere in spirit and in truth; as in private families daily and in secret each one by himself.” Charles Spurgeon, the great Baptist preacher, wrote on the topic of family worship when he wrote, “
If we want to bring up a godly family, who shall be a seed to serve God when our heads are under clods of dirt in the valley, let us seek to train them up in the fear of God by meeting together as a family for worship.”
See, for those of you here this morning who may be thinking I am stretching this to make this fit, let me ask you a question as you think upon this passage of scripture in Deuteronomy. How can you teach your children? How can you talk about the commands of the Lord when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking around and when you are getting up in the morning and when you are going to bed at night unless family worship does not have a part in your life as a family? You see often times though we think of family worship what we think of as some big formal event like what happens here on Sunday mornings and we think to ourselves…
There is no way I can do that preacher. There is no way I can preach a sermon. There is no way we can put together a big worship. T
There is no way we can do this in our home. You don’t understand my family dynamic preacher. You just don’t get it! Let me say I have 5 small children 10 years all the way to 7 months. I get it! Amen? All right? Can I just let you know - I get it!
But what we think of when we think of family worship intimidates us because we think of it wrongly. We think that we have to somehow be a preacher or a missionary. We have to somehow have some great vast ability. But instead what we see here in Deuteronomy isn’t some formula on exactly what to do. Instead it’s guidelines given to us about how we should be striving to grow in our faith and striving to grow in our understanding in our homes as we walk about our day looking for opportunities, for teachable moments, like I talked about a couple of weeks ago. What Jesus was great about doing we see over and over again, is capitalizing on teachable moments, moments when we can say, in light of what just happened, let’s talk about this.
My son…for those of you who don’t know, we had six Bible drillers go to state competition this Friday and I just want to tell you those kids did phenomenal. And those kids, if you are in here, you guys rocked it! They represented this church well, they represented God well, they did a great job. Amen church? They did a phenomenal job. However, I am going to embarrass him for a second. My son got State Winner Perfect for Bible Drill. No, don’t amen. Don’t amen. Because he didn’t really get perfect. You see what happened was is he didn’t step out on one of the calls because he couldn’t remember it. But two of the judges didn’t see that he didn’t step out and so when they tallied the scores they gave him a perfect score. Yet he and everyone else in the room know he didn’t step out on one of those calls. Now, he’s ten years old and he wasn’t really happy with me about this but we went up afterwards and we told the guy who presented him with his award, “My son did not get perfect, he missed a call.” They said, “Oh that’s great, it’s okay, well the Bible already has his name on it and he’s already got the sticker, so thanks for your integrity, that’s fine.” I said “No, he didn’t get perfect.” He said, “Okay, well, we appreciate that, but the Bible already has his name on it so we can’t take it back and the sticker is just a sticker.” I said, “Can we have the right sticker because he didn’t get perfect; he missed one. He needs the right sticker.” Now my ten year old son I’d like to tell you was just striving to honor God in all of this, but the truth of the matter is it kind of hurt his heart, because, he’s like, “Dad they gave me perfect, leave it alone, let’s just, let me take my award and go home.”
But what God provided for us on a two and one half hour drive home was a teachable moment for us to have family worship. As we talk about God, as we talk about why it’s important to be a man of integrity, as we take the moment to point our kid to Christ and recognize in Christ an example that he can learn from, that he can gaze upon, and in hopes that he will grow more in conformity with the image Christ because of what happened. You see, sometimes we complicate this thing and we make it this big profound thing that intimidates us, but church, sometimes it’s just those simple teachable moments as we live our lives, as we rise up, as we go to bed, as we walk through life, moments that we can take opportunities to point back to Christ.
As we read the scripture passage for the day, or as my wife reads the scripture passage for the day in the morning with the kids, and then they live the day with that scripture passage as the lens by which they do things and see things and the teachable moment s that God continually provides to point back them to the truth we read at breakfast that morning…those awesome moments when we realize that God is shaping our family through obedience to his Word and his command. Our hearts should desire to worship God and we should be desiring to raise our families to worship God.
Now while I believe family worship is especially important for young families, and if you are a young family here and your have small children in the home, let me just say to you, that outside of getting plugged into a local church, there is no regular discipline that you can do that’s more important than doing family worship. And I guarantee you some of the older saints in the room would say amen, hallelujah, praise the Lord. I wish I would have done it more. I wish I would have taken it more seriously. And so if you are sitting here and you have young children in the home this should be a priority for you second only to getting really plugged into the local church. If you are going to schedule something in your life, you would make it a point to schedule this as a regular part of what you do and who you are as a family.
While I believe that for young families it is especially important, the truth is family worship is important for all family units no matter what you look like. Whether your kids are grown and out of the house, whether you are a widow or widower who is alone, whether you are a single person, developing the regular habit of worshiping God, not just corporately, but individually, and as a family is vital for the church.
It’s vital for the church. It’s such an important issue that now when people join Central Baptist Church we have started to include in the New Member’s Packet a book on family worship that looks just like the slide by Donald Whitney that encourages and teaches families how to do family worship no matter what kind of family your dynamic looks like.
Because we believe that it’s imperative that the people of God gather here at Central Baptist Church not only worship God when we corporately gather but be worshippers of God in all areas of their life all the time constantly focusing their eyes upon Christ. This is serious business. Church, eternity rests upon what we do and how we go about doing what we do. Do you realize that? People’s eternities hang in the balance. This is a big deal. This isn’t like being a part of a local civic organization. This is eternity we’re talking about here. The truth is,
Our nation and our churches are only as strong as the families that make them up. If we want to be strong as a church then we need to be a church full of strong families. If we want to be strong as a nation, we need to be a nation full of strong families. I am not talking just about physical strength. I’m talking about the kind of strength spoken about here in Deuteronomy 6. The kind of strength embodied by the fact that we love God with all our hearts, with all of our soul, and with all of our might.
And the reason this matters so much to me is that I look around our culture today and it grieves my heart to see so much time spent on polishing the outside of the cup. But just like Jesus pointed out in Luke 11, that while we spend so much time cleaning the outside of the cup too often the inside of our cups are just filthy. We train our families to look a certain way and to act a certain way, namely, by polishing the outside of the cup, but we never truly ever get to the heart of the matter. We never really focus on the spiritual things that lead to having a pretty exterior. We focus on the exterior neglecting the interior and family worship reminds us of the importance of the interior, the heart of the matter, focusing upon spiritual things. We spend so much of our time on things that ultimately don’t matter, like I’ve said before, things that will one day vanquish upon the eternal ash heap of insignificance. And we don’t realize we are unintentionally leading our families away from Christ by filling our time and our focus and our energy on things that have nothing to do with Christ. This is a great distraction that is destroying Christian families.
We sang this morning about the reality that our hearts are prone to wander. And the truth is, as you sit here this morning, your heart is prone to wander, and you get all these distractions in your way. Some of these things are horribly offensive to God and some of these things are good things that are kind of neutral, and we allow them to take our focus, we allow them to take our eyes off of Christ; and in so doing our hearts begin to wander…not because we want to wander, not because we to be disobedient, not because we want be rebellious, but it’s because it’s the reality of our fallen nature. Our heart wanders like one theologian said, “Our hearts are idol factories, we’re just good at it.” We end up making lesser things the most important thing and we don’t even think we’re doing it.” And that’s why it’s so important, that’s why it is so vital that daily we’re refocusing our eyes upon Christ recognizing that throughout the day and throughout the week unintentionally there are a lot of things that get us focused in wrong directions. And every day when we focus, every day when we take a moment, every day when we seek the Lord and reorient ourselves back rightly, it’s vital, it’s vital for us as the people of God, it is vital for us if we profess our love in Christ, it’s vital that we take this seriously.
John Berridge wrote during the great revival in the 18th century in Northern England, he stated “The mind assimilates itself to what it thinks much upon; grows more worldly by thinking on worldly things, and more spiritual by thinking on spiritual things…”
You see, study after study has tried to put its finger on why so many people are leaving the church and I dare say as I stand before you today the reason why so many people are leaving the church is because we as the people of God have not taken serious the commands given here in of the Shema. We haven’t taken serious to make all of life about worship. We haven’t taken serious about making all of life pointing people back to Christ. We’ve allowed our faith to become compartmentalized. We’ve allowed people to tell us that our faith is only allowed to exist within certain spheres of life. When the truth is we see clearly communicated in scripture that our faith is supposed to define us in all areas of our life. It is the thing that everything else should be defined by. We have not taken serious the command to teach the Word of God in our homes. We’ve not taken serious the command, the need to share our faith not just with the world and the unreached, which is good and we should, but even with our own families. We don’t make thinking and talking about spiritual things a normal part of our life. Instead we have compartmentalized once again our religion that only allows for us to do that on certain days and at certain times.
Case it point, I have had this conversation with several people lately. How awkward is it even after church in a few minutes when you go to Bible study or after Bible study when your go to lunch to sit down with people that you were just in church with and have spiritual conversation about what just happened. How hard is it for you to do that? Yet, how easy would it be for you to talk about the national championship game, to talk about what’s coming up next week at work. How easy is it for you to talk about current events and politics but when we get talkin’ about religion it gets real awkward. Uh….I really don’t know what to say. This is making me uncomfortable. Can we talk about football please, quick?
We have compartmentalized our religion that we can’t even casually carry on a conversation with people who are so burdened by the fact they don’t have anything in common with people because all they want to do is talk about is their faith and yet they can’t find anybody who wants to be serious and talk about their faith. Don’t come over to my house and hang out and talk about Jesus. Let’s talk about football, something fun, I mean, we can do that on Sundays, this is Tuesday
night, let’s just have fun. But if our faith is what defines us what else do we want to talk about? I was talking with one person, he said, ‘I talk about all those other things just until we get to the best thing to talk about which is Jesus. I can have those conversations but what I really want to talk about is my faith and my Lord for that is the great desire of my heart.”
See, we’ve allowed culture to make it awkward for us to have spiritual conversations when as the people of God that should be what’s our mouth all the time. It should be awkward for us to have a conversation when we don’t talk about spiritual things. When it comes to our families and our relationships I’m afraid that we’ve allowed ourselves to be deceived into thinking that there is understanding already there, that they already got this so we don’t need to talk about this. We assume that there is agreement, that they love Jesus and I love Jesus so we don’t even need to go there. We assume the Gospel but ultimately there’s no fruit, and day by day, and week by week, and month by month we have these fake relationships with people who are going straight to hell for all eternity, and we don’t care enough to have conversations about spiritual things because we’ve allowed people to make us think that our spiritual life is only left to Sundays and Sunday nights if you are spiritual and Wednesday nights if you are really spiritual and you come three times in one week, but other than that, that stuff needs to be kept at the church house. We don’t take serious the instructions of God, instructions that aren’t just listed here in Deuteronomy, but are even in Ephesians 6. We see clearly commanded that fathers are to raise their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
I Peter 3:7, it talks about husbands loving their wives so that when they pray together their prayers may not be hindered assuming family worship is going on and husbands and wives are regularly praying together. And so, husbands you should love your wives in a way that when you regularly pray together your prayers aren’t hindered. There is the assumption that family worship is going on.
We even see in Paul’s word to Timothy when he commends him how his mother and his grandmother imparted their faith to Timothy; this assumption that there was something going on where this faith was being passed down. They didn’t just drag him to church every week but they shared their faith with him. They instructed him in the things of the Lord so that now Paul commends the work of his mother and his grandmother in the life of Timothy because they took serious the instruction to teach the things of God to the next generation.
It’s true to say that there is no specific verse on family worship found in the Bible. It’s not in 2 Hesitations chapter 5, Thou shalt have family worship
. But the idea of family worship is implied all throughout scripture. In fact, some of the things that God says in his Word don’t make sense unless you assume that worship is going on in the homes. You see, for the people of God our hearts are prone to wander and God knew from the very beginning that distractions would try to divert our attention away from the main thing. And so He calls us in every area of our lives to teach and instruct and to talk about the things of God, because family worship is intended to help us battle against the things that would seek us take our eyes off of Christ, those things that would seek to have our gaze be upon something else. Family worship helps us to gaze upon Christ regularly, take our eyes off of lesser things.
John Snyder in his work, Behold Your God, stated it this way, he said, “It isn’t the quick glance that burns an image into our hearts and minds; no, it is the prolonged gaze that does it. Day after day, what do you set your heart on with admiration and strong desire?
You see, day after day, if we gaze upon Christ, Christ gets burned into who we are in a way that we can’t help but see Christ and think upon Christ in every area of our lives. So now, when we go do all of these lesser things we do it with a spiritual mind. It’s not that we refrain from doing those things but those things are now framed within a spiritual context. So, baseball, and knitting, and soccer, and sewing, and shopping, and TV watching, and video game playing , and I don’t know what else, fill in the blank, are all done as the lesser thing because the main thing that we constantly saturate ourselves in is Christ and those other things fall into their proper place. Day after day if you don’t do family worship then what do you set your heart on with admiration and strong desire? As you sit here this morning, maybe this has never been a priority in your life. Let me just say this as bluntly and as loving as I possibly can possibly can for your own soul’s sake and for the sake of the souls you influence.
I pray that you would repent and that you would begin to take this seriously. People’s eternities hang in the balance, and that should burden our hearts souls. Your children’s eternities hang in the balance. Your family’s eternities hang in the balance. And God has given us through his infinite wisdom and divine sovereignty opportunities for us to be used to lead our families to Christ. Let us not take that command lightly.
I pray that you would make this a priority. I pray that you would not allow lesser things to distract you. Church, I look around the church today and I read Deut 4: 4 – 7 and I recognize a disconnect. And the most troubling thing about the disconnect is the fact that we’ve made an excuse for why we really don’t have to be defined by such a simple and clear command. I mean, God get’s it. We don’t really have to love Him with all our hearts. I mean, I kind of do hypothetically, but you know, he understands, he gets it! We live in a modern day preacher you just don’t understand. We just don’t have time for that stuff.
Every generation throughout history has been able to say the same thing. Yet every generation throughout history is without excuse.
We’re not the first generation in history that’s had distractions to keep us focused on lesser things. We’re not the first generation in history that’s had to deal with difficulties and being able to implement the truth of God. In fact, we sang this morning about the martyrs of the faith, people who died for this stuff. People who to take this stuff seriously meant they would die. Last I checked we don’t have it that bad. Last I checked we don’t have it that bad.
Recently there was this video going around on Facebook about these believers in this far off distant land who were receiving the Bible in their own language for the very first time. And they grabbed their Bibles and they were weeping and they were rejoicing because they had gotten to hear about the Word of God but they’d never actually had the Word of God in their own language before. And yet we have the Word of God in our own language. We have different translations. We have a whole bookstore full of Bibles that we can go randomly get whenever we want. If we don’t have a Bible, we can go get a Bible for free somewhere and yet we never seriously take the truth of God’s Word to heart and apply it to our lives.
We can come up with all the excuses we want and guess what, they’re all rubbish. They all don’t amount to a hill of beans. The question isn’t, do you have a good excuse? The question is do you love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might?
We can make excuses, and I can come up with some good ones. But the question isn’t do I have a good excuse? The question is Michael Meadows, do you love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength, for if you do then there is no excuse. Church, if we do, there is no excuse. If we love God that way, this will begin to be more than just a neat sermon that you are really grateful someone else gets to hear. And this would be convicting unto depths of your soul recognizing that as much as I try I don’t love God that way and I should because I don’t have a good excuse. God’s Word is clear, whether you are the maturest believer in this room or you are completely lost and you just wandered in here because someone invited you to church today. God’s Word is clear and applicable to every single one of you.
If you love God then you will be defined by God being the great object of affection in your life that you desire to be on your lips every time you speak, when you rise up, when you lay down, when you go by the way, it will be as one person said, the great distraction. Often times we think of our pursuit of God as if we are trying to pursue God and we have all these distractions that take our eyes off of God but instead,
if we love God this way, God will be the greatest distraction. We’ll try to look to lesser things and we can’t. Cause God keeps getting in the way. Cause we love God so much that even when we try to pursue these lesser thing he distracts us from it.
If we love God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength, he will be the great distraction that infects and affects every aspect of our lives. So, the question isn’t do you have a good excuse? As we close this morning the question is plain, simple, yet very profound. Do you love God with all your heart, with all soul, and with all your strength? And if you do, why do our lives, our community, and our churches look the way they do.