I have not studied the Word of God so diligently for these past 35 years so that I could stand here this morning and help you identify all of the trouble you have been having with your marriage, your finances, your family or your outlook on the future. Rather, I have grown in life to the point where I now have very little time for the problem because of the consuming respect I hold for the answer.
If you have trouble today you know it. Some of you may not want to face it but deep down you know it. God has not left you without a witness. Although God is kind, His love is merciful and He is gracious, He nonetheless points out our trouble to us as only He can do. But whether you are at the top of your game today or living life at the bottom of the barrel, the path which leads onward and upward is remarkably the same for everyone.
Today we are going to continue our discussion on Family Relationships, specifically those Rules which govern Family Relationships. Again, I am not here to point out the problems but rather the solution. And believe me, there is a solution for every dilemma we face. So without condemnation, criticism or closed mindedness, let’s go to the Word of God together and survey the rules which will build and maintain healthy family relationships.
You know, everything we enjoy has rules, some written some unwritten. Break the rules of the game and you stand to be disqualified. True peace and lasting success comes only from respecting and following God’s rules.
You see, Rules are designed by God to govern Relationships. Take for example the relationship Bernie Madoff had with his clients. Madoff was a licensed stockbroker and his clients were those who provided him money to supposedly invest. For many years it appeared Madoff was a market-savvy financial advisor who was making his investors well above average returns on their money. However, Bernie was breaking the rules which were established to govern those relationships. Bernie Madoff was probably a pretty good guy but he was also a thief, a cheat, a liar and a scam artist.
For a long time he got away with breaking the rules and he appeared very successful for decades. He, his wife and 2 sons enjoyed everything money could buy. They had access to more than $50 billion – what a fairytale life.
Today however at age 75, Bernie Madoff sits alone in prison serving out his 150 year sentence after having to forfeit nearly $20 billion. Why, because he was found guilty of breaking the rules. His scheduled release date is November 14, 2139, providing he gets some time off for good behavior.
Now I’m not picking on Bernie, like I said he no doubt was a nice guy and a good provider for his family, he just didn’t maintain a healthy respect for the rules. Like I said, I don’t want to pick on Mr. Madoff at all … he, his family and his investors have all suffered greatly. I pray he finds peace. That will probably depend somewhat on whether or not he has learned to follow the rules in his new environment. God bless him and his victims.
I could have launched this subject taking about Lance Armstrong who beat cancer and won the Tour de France an amazing 7 times before being stripped of all of his titles and medals and banned from competition for life because he didn’t keep the rules. Or perhaps I could have told you about Miss America 1983 who posed nude and ended up giving up her title. Like Bernie, all of those things they wanted, valued and worked so hard for in life were lost because they didn’t maintain a healthy respect for the rules which govern relationships.
When we participate in any event we fall subject to the rules which have been established to govern that event. The main event we will be discussing today is Family. So without further ado, let’s look into the written Word of God to find the Basic Bible Blueprints for Family Relationships and review some fundamentals. Our topic this morning:
Respecting the Rules of Relationship
As we turn to the book of Ephesians it is interesting to note that the whole body of the 10 Commandments is a list of rules which govern relationships. The first 4 Commandments are rules on how we are to relate to God and the last 5 Commandments are rules on how we are to relate to others.
Right there in the middle, Commandment #5 is all about how we are to relate to a growing, ever changing family. Ok – on to Ephesians chapter 5 where we find God speaking to us as a man would speak to his children.
Ephesians 5 (The New Living Translation)
21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
This verse is not telling us to mutually submit to one another as we walk through life. Rather this verse, just like the 10 Commandments, firmly directs us to recognize the family, find our role and follow the rules. What does, “submit to one another out of respect for Christ” mean?
22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church. He gave up his life for her
These are the fundamental rules which govern this particular relationship and serve to make up the Basic Bible Blueprints for the marriage covenant.
33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
These basic rules governing marriage are clearly repeated so as to not be ambiguous. Much like the 10 Commandments – These rules are not designed to govern the loopholes or exemptions. These are not problem oriented suggestions but rather solution based directives aimed at giving God the greatest room and reason to insert Himself into the marriage when needed. What about the other primary family relationships? Paul continues:
1 Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do.
2 “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise:
4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.
The one fundamental rule governing family relationships is simple – so simple in fact that only God could have been its Author. Simply put –
Find your place and do your part according to God’s Word.
If you need more details, refer to the manual or make plans to attend next Sunday when we will be covering Family Relationships and your Bill of Rights within the family.
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.
The greatest strength you will ever find is when you find yourself in Him.
This is the place where I hope to lead you to connect with God in a meaningful way. There are 5 Potential Prayers which I want you to consider right now. Which one of these prayers will you pray today?
1. Prayer of Thanksgiving
· Offering thanks to God because He has confirmed that you are right on track with His Will, following the rules and giving Him the greatest opportunity to work through you on behalf of your family and the future.
2. Prayer of Petition
· Letting God know you have heard His Word and need His help to change and follow His long established guidelines for family.
3. Prayer of Intercession
· This is a prayer prayed in earnest for other family members asking God to open their eyes and soften their heart to do His will. God will hear your cry today and He will do His part.
4. Prayer of Repentance
· If you know you have been wrong and have disregarded these rules for whatever reason, you owe God an apology and need to ask His forgiveness. Then begin afresh and follow the rules.
5. Prayer for Salvation
· If you just don’t want to obey God or follow His rules or care enough about what He wants to live for Him then that’s reason to be concerned about your salvation. Conversion transforms us and creates within us a new heart, a new mind and a new will. You’ll not be perfect but you will want to be like Him.