Sunday, September 9, 2012

Life Shape - Sunday School - Family Growth and Discipleship - Class 1


Conclusion of:
Week 13Personal Growth & Discipleship  - Continue

Memory Verse: 1Timothy 4:16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

John 8
31  Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
32  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

2 Timothy 3:14  But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them

Quiet Time         Bible Reading     Prayer       Meditation          Fasting     

The First Class -
Family Growth & Discipleship

The topics we will cover for the next 10 weeks will considered in light of their direct relationship to the Family. It is reasonable to accept the notion that all truth runs parallel. Therefore each subject we discuss will not only be a critical key to building and maintaining the Family but it will also be a principle which will work in other areas of life as well.

Many of the concepts which work to build, restore and maintain strong and healthy relationships within the family structure will also serve to strengthen and sustain relationships in the workplace, in school, social settings and at Church. The Bible teaches but one path to success. While there may be many steps along that path, those same steps will bring success in every situation to which they are applied.

Week 1

The first key to building a strong and healthy Family is - Commitment

Memory Verse: Job 36:11 If they obey and serve Him, They shall spend their days in prosperity, And their years in pleasures.

There are three major areas in life to which we must commit. These are in the order of their priority.

1.   A commitment to God as His Word dictates

In July of 1980 Brenda and I had been married 7½ years and had two children under 3 years old. Although we had a strong desire to build our family God’s way, the pressures of life often led to arguments which left us at odds with one another.

Both Brenda and I possess strong temperaments and it didn’t help that we came to our marriage expecting different things. We never discussed it before we got married but later I realized that I had expected to be “in charge” … well … so did she.

I was raised in a family who said, “We’ll ask your dad.”

She was raised in a family who said, “We’ll ask your mom.”

These are two very different dynamics which had created two very different expectations. Although neither of these family models seemed to cause problems in our parent’s relationships, put them together under one roof and decisions often became points of argument. Even when we agreed, at times the process of discussion felt continuous because neither of us liked the feeling that we were being told what to do by the other.

It was the classic problem of control, or lack thereof. We both had opinions and for some reason she felt her opinion was a good as mine … of course, I was not of that opinion … you can imagine the occasional conflict. We often argued over, (loudly discussed), what our problem was but we had no one bigger or louder than us to help solve it.

We loved God, attended Church, were serious about our relationship with Jesus, read the Bible and prayed every day, and were deeply desirous of raising our children in a good and Godly family. However, it was not certain that we were going to make it much longer if we did not quit hurting each other during these “loud discussions”.

I remember the moment, exactly where we were, what we were doing and how we approached the subject. No doubt God had heard the cry of our hearts and knew what we needed. No doubt the Holy Spirit set us up and gave us a non-threatening moment in which we both felt we could let our guards down without fear of the other taking unfair advantage. After 7 years of marriage, we had trust issues – not only with one another … but also with God. And:

If we don’t trust God, how can we ever truly trust anyone else?

Early that day, after our individual prayer and quiet time, while the kids were still asleep, Brenda and I had some time to talk. We both shared what we wanted in life and agreed that God’s way was the only way for us. Then, prodded by the Holy Spirit, we took hands and both made a vow to God and to each other. Our commitment was this:

Without regard as to when, where, under what circumstances or who God uses to bring it forth, anytime the Word of God is spoken or otherwise comes into mind, we each individually and both in agreement, will immediately submit without question, compromise or further consideration, even if it is spoken by the other. We further committed to never use the Word as a whipping post or as a weapon to merely justify our actions or get our way.

We each made a serious, lifelong personal commitment to the Word of God as final authority. With this one commitment we brought God into the center of our marriage. More than just being my opinion verses hers, we ceased our harmful arguments, getting angry or self protective and speaking hurtful words to each other - why … because the Bible says, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue … speak that which is good …”
It’s amazing the volume of scriptures which will come to your mind when you are genuinely willing to listen and submit. I had never before realized just how much of the Word I had been excusing and dismissing during pressured moments of life. God had always been right there, trying to direct me and get me to trust Him and do things His way … it was just that before I had not been listening with that committed ear.

Nothing else we have ever done has had a more profound and lasting Godly impact on our personal lives, our family and future. We made a commitment on that morning in 1980 since that time we have encountered test after test. I’d like to say that we have passed everyone, and actually we have, it’s just that we had to take some twice.

If you want to build, or rebuild, your marriage or strengthen your family, the very first thing I recommend is that you make a serious and solid commitment to God and His Word as full and final authority over every issue of life. And that you do so whether anyone else does or not … and, when His Word is spoken or comes to mind, simply agree, submit and trust God.

An unwillingness or inability to commit will insure continual failure.

I spoke earlier that there were three areas of life which demand commitment. The priorities are:

1. A commitment to God as His Word dictates   

2.   A commitment to Family as God intends
3.   A commitment to the future as God directs

If we will obey and serve Him, we will spend our days in prosperity and our years in pleasures.

Consider getting alone with God or together with your spouse and make your commitment to trust God and give control over to Him.

Next Sunday we discuss – The Roles, Rules, Rights and Responsibilities of Marriage