Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Pizza Box Family

David is gone on vacation with his family, so we decided to post this sermon preached by him last year for you to read.

Preached at Northwest Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, May 24, 2009.

Psalm 128:1-6 
Blessed is every one who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways.
When you eat the labor of your hands, You shall be happy,
And it shall be well with you.  Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the very heart of your house, Your children like olive plants
All around your table.  Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
Who fears the LORD.  The LORD bless you out of Zion,
And may you see the good of Jerusalem All the days of your life.
Yes, may you see your children’s children. 
Peace be upon Israel!

If you were to boil down to one thing so as to describe for me the essence of Satan’s strategy in this day and age, if you were to try to zero in on one way – just one – in which Satan is going about his sinister work at the present time, what would that one thing, that one way be?

My loved ones, as I look at our world, as I intersect with people on a day-to-day basis, and as I consider our lives, it seems to me that Satan’s strategy in this day and age, has one primary focus, one main target:  The family – marriage and the family.

I could easily list for you 6, 8, 10 maybe 12 families and marriages that I know are being assaulted at this present time by the one who wants to see those families disintegrate.  And believe me, it’s not pleasant, nor is it pretty.  You know what I’m talking about, I’m sure.

Family trouble – marital difficulties due to the weakness of our sin-stained selves, due to the allurements of this world, due to an enemy who wants to see our marriages and families dead in the water.  It’s ugly, and very, very painful.  Many of you know exactly what I’m talking about here, don’t you?

And yet, then I remember that the family – marriage and the family is where Satan has been setting his sights literally from the beginning.  You go back to the very first chapters of this Book, and what do you read?  What does the Word of God help us to see? 

That Satan has been seeking to unravel marriages and families, and thereby to undermine the plan of God, literally from the beginning of mankind!  There in Genesis 3, in the garden of Eden through his fiendish temptation, he sought not only to set man and woman against God, but against each other!  He purposed to turn Adam and Eve against each other, and away from the ONLY ONE who could help them the God who made them!

Last week I was assisting a young man with some projects he was trying to accomplish, while at the same time, attempting to help him to understand some important truths from God’s Word about life.  This young man and I were here at the building preparing to do a few things around here, when I noticed something laying in the middle of the intersection across the street.  It was a pizza box, with two half-eaten slices of pizza left in it, laying where someone had tossed it out their car window.  It was a pizza box, some trash to pick up and put in the church dumpster, sure.  But it was more than that.  It was an object lesson – a teachable moment for this young man and me, as we walked across the street to clean it up and dispose of it.

What was the object lesson?  What did my young friend and I learn from that bit of sanitation work?  The pizza box, with most of the slices gone because they were eaten, but with some left over, and slung out the window of a passing car:  Some people live their lives that way, don’t they?  Some people, who have swallowed the devil’s lie that THEY are the important ones, that THEY are GOD and the center of the universe.  Some people treat other people – their spouses, their children, their parents, their live-ins – some people treat other people that way.  “I’ve had my fun.  I’ve gotten out of you what I wanted.  [Wad up and sling out the window.]  Now it’s time for me to move on, to find someone else to use and abuse.”

Satan’s strategy, his scheme to destroy what God intended to be beautiful, and sacred, and a hub for His blessing in our lives, believe me, it’s a frightening thought, as we live in these latter days, it’s a sad, and discouraging thing to see all the ‘pizza box’ marriages and families and relationships laying here and there along life’s road.  But what can we do to defeat that strategy of the enemy in our own lives and in this world?

The ‘pizza box’ family – the ‘pizza box’ marriage or relationship – you know something, my friends?  I’ve yet to meet anyone who wants to have that kind of family or to be treated in that way.  However, I’ve also found it difficult to find very many who really know how to make their marriages and families any different.  Anybody here have any idea why that is?

I’d like to suggest that it all begins right here, in God’s Word.  If you treat the Book of God, and the God of this Book, like some half-eaten slice of pizza and the box it came in, no wonder you don’t know how to make your marriage and family any better!

The Blessed Family – not the Pizza Box Family – but the Blessed Marriage, and Family:  How does your family and my family get to be that kind of family?

The psalmist writes,
“Blessed is the man who fears the LORD
Who walks in His ways.

When you eat the labor of your hands,
You shall be happy,
And it shall be well with you. 
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the very heart of your house,
Your children like olive plants
All around your table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
Who fears the LORD.

The LORD bless you out of Zion,
And may you see the good of Jerusalem
All the days of your life.
Yes, may you see your children’s children. 

Peace be upon Israel!

This psalm is a beautifully picturesque view of the Blessed Family.  It’s what I want my family and my marriage to be.  And I trust that is your desire as well.  But how does it come to pass?  What do we need to do to reach that goal?

If I may, I’d like to use the time we have left this morning to examine several secrets to family success that God has made plain right here in His Book.  Would you follow along with me, please? 

How does a family – how does a man and his wife cultivate the blessing of God in their lives, in their marriage and family?  Before we answer that from this passage, notice the blessings that God says He has in store for those who do:

    Verse 14  --  rain in its season
    Verse 14  --  a bountiful harvest
    Verse 15  --  well-fed livestock
    Verse 21  --  long lives and strong family heritages.

These blessings and many others, God has in store for His people.  But how do we open ourselves up to them?

Pick up the reading of the text beginning in verse 18 through 21:

Therefore you shall lay up theses words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  And you shall write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.

How do families go about cultivating God’s promises of blessing?  They do so by starting right here with His Word!  The Blessed Family – How do our families get that way?  They get that way by learning God’s Word together.  By treasuring up this exceedingly rich source of wisdom in their hearts.

Mom and Dad, it begins with you!  “Lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul,” the Lord declares.  And then He says, “You shall – [that’s the language of commandment.] – You shall teach them to your children.  You shall speak of them”  step-by-step, as you go about the day.

Do you want to be a Blessed Family, not a Pizza Box Family?  Start here, with God’s Word.  Start here.  There are a lot of things, even many worthwhile things, to learn in this world, to find out about as a family.  But listen.  Nothing… NOTHING is as important as learning, and knowing and DOING this.  Nothing!

Please find 1 Corinthians 16:19 with me.  Someone has made this astute observation about families: “The Christian family, not the Pizza Box family, but the Christ-centered family is in actuality the Church in miniature.”  Have you ever looked at your family and your marriage that way?

The so-and-so family – “Hey, we’re the Church in miniature.”  The such-and-such family – “Hey, we’re the Church in miniature.”  You get the point.  But now then, how does that connect with the subject of cultivating the blessing of God for our families?

The Christian family – the Church in miniature.  Take a look at 1 Corinthians 16:19.  And then we’ll learn how it connects.

1 Corinthians 16:19 – “The churches of Asia greet you.  Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.”

This man, Aquila, and his wife, Priscilla, are dear friends of Paul.  The apostle Paul describes their home, their family, as being the headquarters for their church.

What does all of that mean?

Here’s what it means.  You wanna be the Blessed Family?  Do you want to cultivate God’s goodness in your marriage, and in your family?

Worship God together!  Worship God together.  Beloved, that’s what Joseph and Mary, and their young son, Jesus did.  Talk about a blessed family.  Remember, Luke chapter two?  That occasion when 12-year-old Jesus got separated form His mother, and Joseph?  Where were they?  And why was this family there?  They were in Jerusalem.  And they were there to worship, to go to the house of the Lord to worship together as a family.  You wanna be the Blessed Family?  Worship God together.

Number Three – 1 Timothy 3:4, 5 and 12 is the passage that sets forth for us the qualifications for church leaders.  What does a passage about church leadership have to do with what it takes to have a Blessed Family?  Take a look and you’ll see.

Men who are candidates for, possible prospects to fill the key roles in the Church of  the bishop (also known as the overseer or the elder / shepherd) and the deacon / servant – how are you and I to know whether or not they are suited for the job?

The Bible says we should take a look at their homes.  Examine closely their marriages, and their families.  Godly men – men fit for these important positions of spiritual influence – what are they, to begin with?  Let’s look at 1 Timothy 3:4, 5 & 12.  To begin with, they are men who rule well – men who rule well – their own households.  The idea there is that of loving leadership, not a Hitler dictator, not a Saddam Hussein tyrant, but a “compassionate overseer” who guides, guards and governs his wife and children in a Christ-like manner.

Mom and Dad, you are to be the family watchmen.  You say you want your family to be in on God’s blessings?  Then you – Mom and Dad – you must be the family watchman.  By the way, I say Mom and Dad for a reason.  Proverbs 31:27 – We’ve looked briefly at what God’s Word has to say about the husband and father’s role in all of this.  He must “rule his house well” according to 1 Timothy 3:4, 5 & 12.  But what about his wife – his partner in caring for the children?  Look at what Proverbs 31:27 has to say about the godly woman, the Christlike wife and mother, and what her responsibility is in seeking to cultivate God’s blessings on the home.

Proverbs 31:27 – “She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.”

What is the godly woman’s role?  It’s the same as that of her husband.  Like her husband, she is to “watch over, watch out for, the ways of her household.”

What can you and I do to cultivate the blessing of God on our marriages and on our families?  Believe me, there is nothing more sad, more painful - yes, even more ugly – than a “pizza box” family.  With God’s help, I’m going to work to make certain my family isn’t one of them.  How about you?

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