WHAT EVERY HEALTHY FAMILY NEEDS (1 of 2)
10 Healthy Habits for Building Strong Families ❧ Part 1
Exodus 19:4-6 ❧ November 14, 2021
This morning we’re going to. I’m calling this series: 10 Healthy Habits for Building Strong Families. What are those habits? They come from the Ten Commandments God inscribed on stone to the nation of Israel almost 3,500 years ago. He gave them primarily to the home and were to be taught by fathers to their children and grandchildren. They’re needed today more than ever. Before we jump into them, I want to spend the next couple of weeks laying some important groundwork to help us see just how significant God’s Top Ten are.
Sometime ago I read about a missionary who found himself in a dark corner of Africa where the men had the habit of filing their teeth into sharp points. Much of the missionary’s focus was on trying to convert the native chief. Now, the chief was very old, and the missionary very Old Testament – his version of Christianity leaned heavily on “Thou shalt nots.” The aged chief listened patiently. “I don’t understand,” the chief said, at last: “You tell me that I must not take my neighbors wife.” “That’s right,” said the missionary. “Or his ivory, or his oxen.” “Right” “And I must not dance the war dance and then ambush him on the trail and kill him?” “Absolutely right!” “But,” replied the old chief regretfully, “I cannot do any of these things. I’m too old. To be old and to be a Christian, they are the same thing!”
This story would be more humorous, I think, if it didn’t hit so close to home. When it comes to being a follower of Christ, many people today share the elderly cannibal’s confusion – being old and being a Christian seem like the same thing! Many today view God, the Ten Commandments, The Bible, Christianity as irrelevant relics of the past that need to be archived and put on display as ancient history in the Smithsonian Institute!
There’s a problem though, a frightening one – something is terribly wrong in America. Our nation, our communities, our homes are severely hemorrhaging – they are rapidly losing their lifeblood. Our families are hurting. They are being destroyed by immorality, violence, drug addiction, suicide, and fatherlessness (25% of white kids grow up without a dad in the home. 50% Hispanic kids will grow up without a father, and 75% African Americans without a dad [Fox News, Wise Guys, Jan. 2018]). Today all the forces of hell are being unleashed on what was once the bedrock of our nation – the traditional family. Satan is doing his level worst to destroy the time-honored values and stability that made our nation great and our homes strong. We are witnessing first-hand the disastrous effects of unchecked humanism, relativism, materialism, and hedonism. The problem is not new, it’s just getting worse. Many have been shouting it from roof-tops for years. America has lost its spiritual and moral compass; we’ve removed God from our nation. By trying to kick God out of the picture, we’ve recklessly kicked out the very foundation of stability from under our feet that once made our families, our communities, our nation strong. Former Yale professor William Lyons noted, “Our civilization is founded upon the Bible. More of our ideas, our wisdom, our philosophy, our literature, our art, our ideals come from the Bible than all other books combined.”
Over the next number of weeks, we’re going to reestablish that foundation by looking at God’s Ten Commandments. We’re going to see that God’s Ten Commandments are really the greatest and most compelling plan ever given to building a healthy family and fulfilling life.
Let me be very personal why this is so important. You may be hurting right now. Your life is falling apart. Your family, your marriage, your relationship with your children is hanging by a thread. And, like that old chief, you may think being a Christian and being old are the same thing – irrelevant; unattractive; dying a thousand deaths of “Thou shalt nots.” Stay with me. I think you’re going to be very surprised.
Why Do We Need God’s Ten Commandments? Before we look at God’s Top Ten, we need to briefly set the stage. The Ten Commandments are given in Exodus 20. But in order to understand the context they were given; we need to first look at Exodus 19. God had just broken the people of Israel out their Egyptian prison after more than 400 years. Three months had gone by, and they were still walking around in a daze trying to get their new-found legs of freedom under them. God speaks to Moses telling him the people are ready to hear what He has to say next. Here’s what God tells Moses to say: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation (Exodus 19:4-6, NLT). God tells Moses before He gives them His commands, He wants them to remember what God had just done – He rescued them on eagles’ wings because they are a treasured people of all the people on earth; they are God’s people and He desires to make them a great nation. Do you hear His heart? Remember what I did for you – I rescued you from bondage; a life of misery. I didn’t have to, but I chose to because I love you. This is important because I want you to know Who it is that is giving you these commands and why I am giving them to you. I’m giving you them because I love you and want to give you a blueprint for freedom, strength, and happiness.
These three verses indicate for us at least three things we need to know about the God who gave the Ten Commandments: 1) They portray God’s character, 2) They prove God’s love, and 3) They point to God’s forgiveness.
I. They portray God’s character. The Ten Commandments say something very important about the One who gave them – they reveal God’s perfect unchanging moral character. Why is that so important? The Bible says you were made in God’s image: God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27, NAS). By giving us His Ten Commandments God is calling us to pursue a life that reflects His perfect unchanging character.
Sounds good, you might think, but how are they a blueprint for my freedom and happiness? How will they make my family healthy? Let’s look briefly God’s first command: You must not have any other god but me (Exodus 20:3). Why’s that important? One reason is there are no other gods! Psalm 96:5 says For all the gods of the peoples are idols. What’s an idol? Psalm 115 tells us: …idols are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands. They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see. They have ears but cannot hear, and mouths but cannot breathe. They have hands but cannot feel, and feet but cannot walk, and throats but cannot make a sound. And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them (Psalm 115:4-8, NLT). What are idols? Useless! They can’t speak, can’t see, can’t hear, can’t breathe, can’t feel, can’t walk, can’t make a sound. What do people become like when they worship idols? Useless as well! A wasted life! Whatever your god is that is what you will become like.
Let me bring this closer to home. Pastor Adrian Rogers tells of seeing a young man in an airport once who was about eighteen years old. He had an earring, a lot of facial hair, and a T-shirt that said: “I’m not scared. I’m not afraid. I am an animal. I will eat you alive if I have to. NO FEAR.” Rogers says this young man wanted the whole world to know he was not afraid. But you know something? Asks Rogers, I think he was very much afraid… We are raising a whole generation of youngsters who feel like animals, ready to eat us alive! And why shouldn’t they? They’ve been systematically taught they are animals, they are not created in the image of God. Instead, they are accidents of nature. That’s why this teenager in the airport felt it important to advise that he was not afraid, because he was an animal.
Today, we have more than 2,298,000 people caged in prison. Ten million plus young people will be infected with sexually transmitted diseases. 123 people commit suicide each day across our country. It is the second leading cause of death for ages from 10-24. More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED. Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 3,041 attempts by young people grades 9-12 (The Jason Foundation). Why is this happening? Our kids are lost and confused. If evolution is their god, then they believe they’re animals. Is it any wonder they have no value, no meaning, no hope? God’s Commandments reveal His perfect unchanging character, the character of Whose image we are made. Knowing you are made in the image of God says you’re not worthless, but valuable. You’re made in the image of the Creator! God’s Top Ten portray His character.
II. They prove God’s love. God’s love gave us His Law as much as His love gave us the gospel. Look again at what God says before He gives the Ten Commandments. ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation (Exodus 19:4-6, NLT). God loves people and values their freedom so much that He rescued Israel from bondage. The Ten Commandments prove God’s love for people and their freedom.
The world is full of historical documents that have shaped and impacted history, but none have changed the world for freedom and genuine love for humanity than the Ten Commandments. The entire Western civilization was founded on them. It was Western civilization that developed universal human rights, helped end slavery, promoted women’s equal rights, established a code of law unrivaled to that of any other. God’s Ten Commandments are so fundamental to the establishment of our nation they are inscribed in the walls of our highest court in the land – the Supreme Court. James Madison, who is called the father of the Constitution wrote: We have staked the whole future on American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of our politics upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God. The Founders of our nation staked our capacity to survive on our ability to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments!
Jesus summed up God’s Commandments in the word “love” when He asked what the greatest commandment was. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:37-40). Second, the commandments prove God’s love.
III. They point to God’s forgiveness. How do the Ten Commandments of God point to His forgiveness? Well, on the surface, they point to our guilt more than forgiveness. You may be a really good commandment keeper and score 8 or even 9 out of 10. But the Bible says: For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws (James 2:9, NLT). What can we do? The answer is: now that we know our weakness and sinfulness, turn to God and His Son Jesus Christ. It’s the nature of law to always reveal our sin. It can never redeem us from it. That’s why God sent His Son. Through Christ we fulfill the Law (Matt. 5:17). Jesus Christ is the only Way to God’s pardon and peace. Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us (Romans 5:1).
So, there you have it. What does it take to make a healthy home? God and His Commandments. God’s love gave us His Commandments as much as it did His Gospel. Exodus 19 makes it very clear. God tells us He gave us His Ten Commandments to 1) Portray His character, 2) to prove His love, and 3) to point to His forgiveness.