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Strengthening the Family
The Home that God Builds
Strengthening the Family
Deuteronomy 6:1-15
Listen to the following facts and see if you can guess what they all have in common:
- 1,000 unwed teenage girls become mothers.
- 1,106 teenage girls get abortions.
- 4,219 teenagers contract sexually transmitted diseases.
- 500 adolescents begin using drugs.
- 1,000 adolescents begin drinking alcohol.
- 135,000 kids bring guns or other weapons to school.
- 3, 610 teens are assaulted; 80 are raped.
- 2,200 teens drop out of high school.
- 6 teens commit suicide.
What do all of these facts have in common?  They happen in America every day.  These things are no longer just happening to "their" children.  More and more they are happening to "our" children.  The ancient sage and philosopher, Socrates, once said:
"Could I climb the highest place in Athens, I would lift my voice and proclaim: Fellow citizens, why do you turn and scrap every stone to gather wealth, and take so little care of your children, to whom one day you must relinquish it all?'"
Those words echo the spirit of what God said to the Jewish people before they were to enter the promise land.  By the tens of thousands, families had gathered to hear the Lord God's final instructions before heading to Canaan.
There would be many foes to fight, many fears to face, and God wanted his people to get strong, be strong, and stay strong.  So what did he tell them?  What is his counsel?  What grand strategy does he propose?
Amazingly, he does not tell them to increase their defense spending, nor does he tell them to strengthen the military.  He doesn't advise them to stockpile their weapons.  He simply tells them to prepare their families.  How?  The process is laid out step by step in Deuteronomy From the very outset of this chapter we see that God is concerned with the family.
verses 1-3
Now why this emphasis on the family?  Because whatever strengthens the family, strengthens the nation.  God created the first individuals.  From those individuals God produced the first family.  From that first family God molded the first society.  God ordained that the family should be the foundation of society.
An old Chinese proverb states, "It is harder to lead a family than to rule a nation."  I want to follow that up by saying that if fathers and mothers don't begin once again to lead their children to godliness, graciousness, and goodness, it won't matter who rules the nation.  You may as well put a different label on the same bottle of poison.
Dr. Nick Stinnett, Chairman of the Department of Human Development and the Family, at the University of Nebraska, launched a fascinating "Family Strengths Research Project" a few years ago. He spent several years studying and interviewing strong families in America, South America, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and South Africa.
The only criterion for being included in the sample of strong families was this:  The families had to rate themselves very high in marriage happiness, and in their satisfaction in parent-child relationships.  The singular goal of this study was to discover what makes families strong.
Here's what Dr. Stinnett concluded from his findings:
"Altogether we studied three thousand families and collected a lot of information, but when we analyzed it all, we found six main qualities in strong families.
Strong families:
    - are committed to the family,
    - spend time together,
    - have good family communication,
    - express appreciation to each other,
    - have a spiritual commitment
    - are able to solve problems in a crisis.
Amazingly, you find practically all of these qualities in some shape or form in Deuteronomy There are five keys given here to strengthening the family.  Five things parents must do to insure that their children and their children's children enjoy the favor and the blessing of God in generations to come.
1. Encourage Your Children to Receive the Lord
verse 4
This verse is known to the Jew as the Shema and it is the basic statement of faith in Judaism.  It is simply a reminder that the Lord (Yahweh) is totally unique. He alone is God. And even though it is a simply reminder, it is an extremely complex statement that is absolutely full of truths that are essential.  In particular, there are four things parents are to teach their children from the time that they are born:
1. There is a God ("the Lord our God")
2. There is only one God ("the Lord is One")
3. That God is Lord ("the Lord our God")
4. That God is to be our Lord ("the Lord our God")
Moms and dads, grandfathers and grandmothers, I want these next words to burn themselves permanently into your heart.  Your number one responsibility as a parent and a grandparent is to see to it that your children and your grandchildren establish a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that is real and lasting.
Years ago, I read something by James Dobson that I have never forgotten.  He said: 
"The mission of introducing one's children to the Christian faith, can be likened to a three-man relay race.  First, your father runs his lap around the track, carrying the baton, which represents the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  At the appropriate moment, he hands the baton to you and you begin your journey around the track.  Then finally, the time will come when you must get the baton safely in hands of your child.
But as any track coach will testify, relay races are won or lost in the transfer of the baton.  There is a critical moment when all can be lost by a fumble or a miscalculation, the baton is rarely dropped on the backside of the track when the runner has it firmly in his grasp.  If failure is to occur, it will likely happen in the exchange between generations!
According to the Christian values which govern my life, my most important reason for living is to get the baton, the Gospel, safely in the hands of my children.  Of course, I want to place it in as many other hands as possible, and I'm deeply devoted to the ministry to families that God has given me.  Nevertheless, my number one responsibility is to evangelize my own children.”
Moses would have said a great big hearty amen! to that.
 2. Inspire Your Children to Revere the Lord
verse 5
It is not enough to teach your child the reality of God.  That child must also be taught his responsibility to God.
That responsibility can be summed up in one word--love.  Jesus said this was the first and the greatest commandment of all.  Now when I talk about loving God, I am not talking about the average kind of love that the average Christian has for God.  I'm talking about the kind of love that God desires, God deserves, and that God demands.
According to this verse, we are to love the Lord fervently.  Notice the phrase, "with all of our heart."
Nothing breaks the heart of God more than the sin of a half-hearted love.  Many Christians love God just enough to come half a day on Sunday.  Half of the average membership of a church loves God just enough to come half the time. Half of the membership of the average church loves God enough to give his work nothing financially.
Husbands, a half-hearted love won't make your wife happy.  Parents, a half-hearted love won't make your children happy.  Christians, a half- hearted love doesn't make God happy.  If you don't have a wholehearted, blazing, burning, passionate love for the Lord Jesus Christ, and pass that love on to your children, you have failed miserably as a parent.
We are to love the Lord faithfully.  It is "with all of our soul."  The soul is the seed of the mind, the will, and the emotions.  In other words, we are to love God to the very core of our inner being, to the very depths of our mind, to the very nerve center of our feelings.  Our love for God ought to dominate our thinking, our feeling, and our doing.
We are to love the Lord firmly--"with all of our strength."  In other words, with all that we are physically, mentally, and emotionally, we ought to love God, and it ought to be obvious to our children and to others that we love our God.
Delta Airlines used to use the slogan "We love to fly, and it shows."  Well, we ought to love God so much that it shows, and our children can see it.  Love for God is not so much talk as it is caught.
I heard about a preacher that was talking to a group of kids one time at a Sunday School Class, and he asked them this question, "Why do you love God?"
He got a variety of answers as he went down the line.  But the one that he liked best came from a little boy sitting on the end of a row, that said, "I don't know why I love God, preacher.  I guess it just runs in my family."
3.  Influence Your Children to Reverence the Lord
Three times in this chapter, verses 2, 13, and 24, Moses tells the Hebrew people to "fear the Lord."  Parents, you are to teach your children to fear the Lord.  I know that many of you are raising either a question or an objection that goes like this: "You are telling me to fear the Lord, I thought you just told me to love the Lord!"  That's right, because the person who fears God most, loves God best.
You see, fear is not necessarily fright nor flight, though it may cause both!  Let me give you this definition of the fear of God that I think is the best I have found.
The fear of the Lord is the continual awareness that I am in the presence of a holy, just, and Almighty God, and that every thought, word, action, and deed is open before Him, and is being observed by Him.
The fear of God then, is the awe and respect we should have for God, that makes us diligent not to offend God, and devoted to pleasing Him.
Parents, we ought to show by the way we live, by the language we use, by the places we go, by the television programs we watch, by the books that we read, that we fear the Lord.
We had better fear the Lord, not only for our sake, but for our children's sake.  Listen to the words of Moses in chapter five and verse twenty- nine:  "Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!"
4. Instruct Your Children to Reflect the Lord
verses 6-7
God, from the beginning, intended for the home to be the university of life where the parents are the teachers, the children are the students, and the curriculum is the Word of God.  May I tell you how important that is?  Home is where the next generation decides how it is going to live.
Therefore, we are to teach our children diligently.  The word diligently in English is actually an adverb, but in Hebrew the root term is a verb that means "to sharpen."
Literally it says, "You shall sharpen your children."
This word pictures an engraver of a monument who takes a hammer and a chisel and etches a text into the face of a solid slab of granite.  It is hard work, but once it's done the message is there to stay.
Day after day, precept upon precept, and line upon line, we are to be engraving the truth of God's Word on the heart of our children.
We are to teach our children daily.
Notice verse 7 again.
At breakfast time, break time, and bedtime, we are to be relating the Word of God to everyday life.
The Hebrews had a word that was used for making a formal proclamation or a lecture.  But that's not the word that is used here.  The word that is used here is a word that means just "to talk."  That is exactly what we are to do.  We ought to talk about spiritual things and spiritual truths just like we talk about the weather, sports, or anything else.
We are to teach our children deliberately.
Verses 8-9
Your home is to be a lighthouse for God.  The Word of God and the God of the Word ought to saturate your living room, dining room, bedroom, laundry room, and playroom.
People should know when they walk into your home that Jesus is the unseen guest and welcome Master.
There are basically three lessons you teach in that home every day.  You teach your children to find the will of God, to obey the Word of God, and to walk in the ways of God.
5.  Invoke Your Children to Remember the Lord
Moses gives a solemn warning to these people that when they finally arrive, and they are eating the fat, and drinking the sweet, that they remember the God who brought them to that land, and then blessed them in that land.  They are warned of two dangers:  The first is the danger of forgetting God.
verses 10-12
Now when a nation forgets God, it begins to ask this question, "Who is God?"
But the second danger is that of forsaking God.
verses 13-15
Now when a nation forsakes God, it begins to ask the question, "Who needs God?"
This is exactly what happened to the Nation of Israel.  When you study their history, after they entered into the promise land, where God planted them, protected them, then prospered them, you find that they went through four stages of spiritual corruption.
First, there was independence; then there was indulgence; then there was indifference; and then there was irreverence.
Did what I just say give you a queazy feeling about America?  We are living in the most irreverent times in our history.  Nothing is sacred.  We can hand out condoms in our public schools, but we cannot hand out Bibles.  We have gone after the gods of materialism, me-ism, hedonism, intellectualism, humanism, and secularism.  What is the result?  The building block of society, the family, is fractured, falling, and failing.
What is the solution?  There is only one, as I see it, and that is strengthen the family.  There is only one way to fortify the family, and that is to bring the family back to God.  The President can't do that.  The Governor can't do that.  The sheriff can't do that.  Even the preacher can't do that.
Only dads and moms can do that.  But I believe that is the greatest single thing we can do for our cities, our communities, and our country.  Almost a hundred years ago President Theodore Roosevelt said it well, and said it best:
“There are exceptional women, there are exceptional men, who have other tasks to perform in addition to,  not in substitution for, the task of motherhood     and fatherhood, the task of providing for the home and of keeping it.  But it is the tasks connected with the home that are the fundamental tasks of humanity.
After all, we can get along for the time being, with an inferior quality of success in other lines, political or business, or of any kind; because if there are failings in such matters, we can make them good in the next generation.
But if the mother does not do her duty, there will either be no next generation or a next generation that is worse than none at all.  In other words, we cannot, as a nation, get along at all if we haven't the right kind of home life. Such a life is not only the supreme duty, but also the supreme reward of duty.
Every rightly constituted woman or man, if she or he is worth his or her salt, must feel that there is no such ample reward to be found anywhere in life as the reward of children, the reward of a happy family life.”
The greatest weapon we have against sin, Satan, and a sick, selfish, society, is a godly home.  Let us make a commitment afresh and anew to strengthen our family by faith in God, fellowship with His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and faithfulness to His inerrant Word.
Let’s pray.


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