WHAT EVERY HEALTHY FAMILY NEEDS (2 of 2)
10 Healthy Habits for Building Strong Families ❧ Part 2
A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five- and six-year-olds. After explaining the fifth commandment to “honor” thy Father and thy Mother, she asked, “Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?” Without missing a beat, one little boy answered, “Thou shall not kill.”
We began our new series: 10 Healthy Habits for Building Strong Families last week. This morning we’re going to look at the second part of: What Every Healthy Family Needs. Everyone wants a healthy family, right? I’ve never had someone complain: My family is just too healthy! I can’t stand it! That sounds crazy because it is. Everyone wants to have a healthy family.
The truth is health of the American family is rapidly turning from bad to worse, from a mild infection to life-threatening gangrene. There are numerous reasons for this. Probably one of the greatest reasons is due to the growing dilemma of fatherlessness. David Blankenhorn, author of the book: Fatherless America, says: Fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation. He goes on to say: The engine driving most social problems, from crime to adolescent pregnancy to child sexual abuse to domestic violence against women. The great problem today noted another: is not delinquent kids but dropout dads and misguided moms who have failed to hand down God’s truths from one generation to another. For the most part, a juvenile delinquent is simply a child trying to act like his parents. It was the philosopher Plato who remarked: The life of the nation is the life of the family written large.
Is there hope? Is there an answer that works? Can we restore health to our homes once again? Yes! I believe we can! How? We need to invite God back into our homes and our nation. We need to get back to God’s Word, the Bible. My goal in this series of messages is to help us do just that.
Nearly than 3,500 years ago God gave us ten values for strong families called the Ten Commandments. They’re not values based on passing fads. They’re the solid bedrock of Western civilization. The God who gave us the Ten Commandments is the same God who created the family. In the Ten Commandments He gave us a summary blueprint for health and happiness in our families.
There is a profound parallel I want us to see here: Just as our children are suffering the painful consequences of a missing earthly father, so our nation is suffering the painful consequences of a missing Heavenly Father. Just as our children need an earthly father, so our nation needs a Heavenly Father.
This morning I want to help us understand Who our Heavenly Father is and why we need Him. He gives us a portrait of Himself in His opening words of the Ten Commandments: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery (Exodus 20:2). There are three things God says He wants us to know about Him: 1) He is the God who reveals, 2) The God who rescues, 3) The God who relates.
I. The God who reveals. I am the Lord your God. The Ten Commandments originated from God, not man. The reveal His exclusive righteous, holy, wise, giving and loving character. The same God who created a world completely suited to sustain life and meet our physical needs, is the same God who gave us the Ten Commandments to our spiritual and moral needs.
Astrophysicist Hugh Ross notes that the life on Earth is governed by some 122 constants he calls “Anthropic Principles” that are set on a razor’s edge. Alter any one just ever so slightly and in most cases, life on Earth would cease to exist. (He points out, for instance, that the oxygen level on Earth must be precise to sustain life. On Earth, oxygen comprises 21 percent of the atmosphere. That precise figure is an Anthropic Constant that makes life on Earth possible. If oxygen were 25% fires would erupt spontaneously, if it were 15%, human beings would suffocate. Or take gravity: If the gravitational force were altered by zero point zero with one at the end of thirty-seven zeros (0.00000000000000000000000000000000000001%), our sun would not exist, and therefore neither would we. Talk about precision! If the Earth were merely one percent closer to the Sun, the oceans would vaporize, preventing the existence of life. On the other hand, if our planet were just two percent farther from the Sun, the oceans would freeze and the rain that enables life would be nonexistent).
The Bible is clear, there is only one God who created the universe and there is no One greater. With the spoken word He created the universe and by His unrivaled power and authority He both sustains and owns everything in it – including us. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present. He has neither beginning nor end; He has always been. Nor does He change. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Only this eternal immutable God is wise enough, loving enough, powerful enough, and righteous enough to create a moral code by which we are called to live.
Why is important to know God gave us the Ten Commandments? If a human authority had given them, we could easily say: Who are you to tell me how to live? You may be a king, or a queen, or someone high up in government, but you’re just an imperfect person no different than me. So, what this means is if God says don’t steal, don’t murder, don’t lie, don’t commit adultery – it is God saying don’t steal, don’t’ murder. If God says it’s these things are wrong, then they are wrong.
Erwin Lutzer rightly points out, “Morality and religion can never be divorced. In fact, the basis of morality is the existence of God.” In fact, if you attempt to separate them, morality will die. “God is absolutely necessary for morality. No moral theory can arise out of atheism. Those who wish to create a secular state where religion has no influence will of necessity bring about meaninglessness, lawlessness, and despair. Such conditions often spawn a totalitarian state, instated to restore order by brute force” (Lutzer, Exploding Myths, pp. 45-7,54).
Lutzer goes on to blow the whistle on those who say they don’t believe in God, yet they believe in human dignity, freedom, and peace, are relying on a theistic view of the world in order to maintain their argument. You can’t have it both ways. You cannot say you believe in human dignity, freedom, and peace, and at the same moment reject God. You cannot, with intellectual honesty, separate morality, and belief in God. Do away with the Ten Commandments and you do away with human dignity, freedom, and peace. The Ten Commandments then, are more than the supreme universal moral code – they reveal the supremely perfect, moral, loving character of the One who gave them to us – our Heavenly Father.
The Ten Commandments not only show us we cannot have morality with God, they also reveal our inseparable need for Him. Without God, life does not make sense. One person described it this way. He admits the Ten Commandments are seemingly narrow, but then again so does every runway on airports around the world. No passenger wants his pilot to miss the narrow runway and land a few yards off the mark in some field or waterway or row of houses. The narrow ribbon of pavement is really the broad way that leads to a safe, comfortable landing. So, God’s seemingly rigid decalogue guides us to safe and fulfilling living.
The first thing we learn is the Ten Commandments reveal to us Who gave them to us; just as He gave us a home called planet Earth precisely designed to meet our physical needs, so He gave us the Ten Commandments (His Word) to meet our moral and spiritual needs.
II. The God who rescues. Next, he says: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, He is the God who rescued Israel from a hopeless life of slavery and misery. God is a rescuer at heart. Why? To set us free in order to live out His image we’re made in. This says a great deal about the heart of God in giving the Ten Commandments. They show us how to live a life of real freedom; to live out the Image we were made.
Dennis Prager, in his brief book on God’s Ten Commandments, points out that God didn’t say to Israel: I am the Lord your God who created the world! Now, you have to admit, that’s impressive! But what mattered most to God was that He wanted them to know He is the Creator who cares about His creation. He hates slavery.
The Founders of our nation recognized this and based their vision for America on the conviction that we are made in the image of God, and He wants us to be free. That’s why when they made the Liberty Bell – the symbol of freedom from tyranny – they inscribed only one sentence on it from Leviticus 25:10 proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof (Leviticus 25:10, KJV). They believed our unalienable rights came from God and the Ten Commandments. For example, the right to private property is guaranteed in the eighth commandment: “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15). The sanctity of life is guaranteed in the sixth commandment: “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Take away of the God’s Ten Commandments and you take away our unalienable rights.
God’s rescue mission more than freedom from servitude to others. He rescues us from other image-crippling forms of slavery as well. I know He is still in the business of rescuing people from the chains of broken homes and healing broken hearts. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy (Psalm 68:6, NLT).
Years ago, I had the privilege of knowing a man by the name of Bob Cryder who has since gone on to be with the Lord. We served together on a mission’s trip to the country of Latvia. Bob was powerful evangelist with a great heart for God who’d traveled around the world with Billy Graham sharing the Gospel. He truly was an amazing man for God. Knowing him you’d never guessed where he came from. He was an orphan – unwanted, rejected, alone, and angry. As he shared about his difficult childhood, I remember thinking: You came from where!? But God rescued him. God is still in the rescuing business. It doesn’t matter who you are. The fact is, you’re made in the image of God. He didn’t create you to live a life of slavery to your past hurts, a broken childhood, crushing disappointments. He wants you to be free if you’ll put your full trust in Him as your Heavenly Father. God’s ultimate rescue mission was sending His Son to die on the cross for the sinners; the broken, the hurt, the rejected (1 John 2:2). He died so you could be healed; be set free. He can rescue you and heal you no matter how difficult your past. We’re going to see that God’s Ten Commandments are the blueprint for experiencing and maintaining a life of freedom from the tyranny of a broken past. Second, God rescues. Third, He relates.
III. The God who relates. By liberating the Jews from slavery, God makes it clear that He cares deeply about people as individuals. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery (Exodus 20:2, NAS). God says I am the One who brought you out of Egypt. Circle the word: “you.” The Ten Commandments are very personal. The “you” of Exodus 20:2 is second-person masculine singular. Another way of putting this is God is saying: I personally took you by the hand and rescued you. I didn’t send someone else. I didn’t send a priest, or a king, or any other. I personally lifted you out of slavery and set you free. And, what I am about to give to you – My Ten Commandments – are given to you personally as well. I am giving them to you so that you will know they are from Me to you. In saying this, God made it clear He was giving the Ten Commandments to the home; to every dad and mom. Later in Deuteronomy, God says: You must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, NLT). He’s saying: It’s your responsibility dad and mom. It’s not the responsibility of the government, or the schools. It’s yours. Do your kids know the Ten Commandments? How many of you would say, I try to live by the Ten Commandments? Most of you, if not all of you, would raise your hand. What if I said, name them? How can you live by them if you can’t name them? They are not the ten suggestions; they are the Ten Commandments. They’re not optional. God says, you do these things and things will go fine in your life. If you don’t do them, you’re going to really mess up.
Mental health professionals tell us every child needs healthy boundaries for their emotional and mental health. That healthy boundaries provide and promote security and confidence in our children. Where there are no boundaries, children grow up being extremely insecure. We are seeing the results of more than one extremely insecure generation. God gave us His Commandments so that we would personally teach them to our children to give them security and confidence of what are the healthy parameters of life.
If we’re going to see our nation turn around, it has to begin with the home. Let me say again: Just as our children are suffering the painful consequences of a missing earthly father, so our nation is suffering the painful consequences of a missing Heavenly Father. Just as our children need an earthly father, so our nation needs a Heavenly Father.
Think of your home this way. Every football game has three teams on the field. Without the third team all chaos would ensue. Who is the vital third team? The officials. They call the shots. Their agenda is not the same as other two teams – to win. Rather, it is to keep the NFL rules. In the same way, when our fathers and our families follow God’s Top Ten rules, they bring order, stability, and hope to the world.
What are three things God wants us to know about Him as we unpack the Ten Commandments? 1) He is the God who reveals. The Ten Commandments originated from God, not man. Because they do, He wants us to know they carry absolute moral authority for our lives. By breaking God’s commands, you in fact break yourself. 2) The God who rescues. He is more than the
Creator; He is the God who cares deeply for His creation rescuing us from slavery. No matter how enslaved your past was with pain, God is still in the business of rescuing. And 3) The God who relates. He is going to personally speak to every dad and mom, every home, showing us how to live with healthy boundaries. He’s going to show us that just as every child needs an earthly father, so our nation needs the Heavenly Father.