By Adam Burton | September 10, 2023
Well, have you ever felt like your family’s morning routine could be the next big sitcom? Picture this: you’ve got the Stampers, our everyday family, right down the street from you.
Molly, a high school teacher, is frantically searching around for her misplaced lesson plans. Keith, the father and IT guru, is on a conference call, trying to mute himself while also searching for the family dog. As for the kids, Jake and Mia, Jake’s attempting to convince Mia that his cereal is superior to hers. Meanwhile, Mia is on the hunt for that one shoe that always seems to vanish.
Let’s face it: amidst the morning chaos, lost shoes, and the occasional burnt toast, our families often feel like they’re in the middle of a sitcom episode. But sometimes, between the laughs and the eye rolls, there’s an underlying tension. It’s as if there’s an invisible tug of war happening, trying to pull apart the unity we cherish.
Now, think about Ms. Rodriguez, a single mom doing her best, or the Thompsons, the sweet grandparents now raising their grandkids. Their stories might differ from the Stampers, but that invisible tension? It’s present in their lives too.
Last Sunday, we dived deep into preparing for battle, understanding the spiritual battles we often overlook. Stay with me today, because as we journey further into this series, “Rise Above: Winning Spiritual Battles,” we’re focusing on where these battles hit the hardest: our families.
Whether it’s the classic family chaos like the Stampers, or the unique stories of families like Ms. Rodriguez and the Thompsons, they all share one thing: the challenge of staying united amidst unseen battles. But here’s the good news: Just as Jesus brings us into his family, offering redemption and unity, he’s also given us a blueprint. It’s a way for our families to stand strong, even when the toast burns and the shoes disappear.
So, are you ready? Let’s explore how we can shield our homes with faith and unity, ensuring that we rise above and emerge stronger together. Today’s message is titled “Family Under Fire.” On the back page of your bulletin, there’s an outline for you to take notes and follow along.
I. The Enemy’s Sneaky Tactics
Our first point this morning is the enemy’s sneaky tactics. The enemy’s sneaky tactics. Have you ever been engrossed in a suspense movie where the villain is so crafty that, for just a split second, you’re almost impressed? That’s reminiscent of what we see in Genesis chapter 3.
Set in the Garden of Eden, which I imagine as the ultimate paradise with white sandy beaches (though it’s even better than that), we’re introduced to the enemy’s master class in deception. The Bible describes it in Genesis chapter 3 verse 1: “The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, ‘Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?'”
Let’s break this down. The serpent didn’t just barge in with a dramatic villain monologue. Instead, he poses what seems like an innocent question. It’s akin to when you’re trying to stick to your New Year’s resolution, and a friend casually asks, “Did you really say no desserts for a month or just no to chocolate?” That’s the enemy for you: sly, understated, and always looking for a loophole.
In today’s world, enemy tactics might look different, but the essence remains. Instead of a serpent, it might be a trending social media challenge that seems harmless but goes against our values. Or perhaps it’s a popular TV show everyone’s watching, but something about it doesn’t sit right with you. The enemy loves to blur the lines, making us question what’s right and what’s not.
After Eve’s encounter with Mr. Sly Serpent, both she and Adam decide to taste test that forbidden fruit. Their harmonious duet suddenly goes off key. Adam, perhaps in the first recorded instance of shirking responsibility, points his finger at Eve, who then blames the serpent. It’s eerily similar to when something breaks at home, and everyone’s playing detective, but no one’s confessing. This blame game, while almost comical, demonstrates how unity can shatter in an instant.
But the story takes a turn. Even amidst the mess, God, in His infinite wisdom, doesn’t just mete out consequences. He also shows grace. He crafts garments for Adam and Eve, a gesture that says, “I’ve got you, even when you sin.” It beautifully foreshadows the ultimate covering we receive through Jesus.
For all the families out there, here’s a golden nugget: Even when we sin, even when we feel we’ve messed up royally, God’s grace is right there, ready to recover, restore, and redeem. You might wonder how this ancient story relates to families today. Every day, we face choices. Some seem trivial, like choosing a TV show, while others are weighty, like addressing a moral dilemma your child faces at school. In each choice, there’s often a subtle whisper, a nudge to compromise just a bit. Recognizing these whispers, these modern-day serpents, is our first line of defense.
As we navigate the maze of family life with its ups, downs, and winding paths, let’s equip ourselves. Let’s learn from Adam and Eve, understand the enemy’s tactics, and lean into God’s grace. At the end of the day, it’s not about perfection; it’s about direction. With God’s blueprint, we can ensure our family’s direction is always towards Him.
II. God’s Blueprint for Family Unity
Which brings us to our second point: God’s blueprint for family unity. God’s blueprint for family unity.
Imagine assembling a piece of furniture without the instructions. You’ve got all the screws, the wooden planks, but no idea where to start. That’s often how family life feels, right? We have all the components: love, challenges, joys, disagreements. Yet, figuring out how they all fit together is the tricky part. Thankfully, God didn’t leave us to figure it out on our own. He provided a blueprint, a divine guide for building a family that stands strong, come rain or shine.
The Bible explains in Joshua 24, verse 15: “But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”
Picture Joshua, standing tall, challenging the Israelites at a pivotal moment. They’re surrounded by nations with alluring gods and enticing customs. It’s akin to being at a buffet with a myriad of options. Yet, Joshua’s choice is resounding. He’s opting for the main course: serving the Lord. This isn’t just a fleeting decision; it’s foundational. It’s akin to choosing to build your house on solid rock rather than shifting sand.
Now, let’s relate this to the Stampers, our modern-day family. They face crossroads too, from deciding which movies are suitable for family movie night to navigating the tricky teenage years. Choices abound. And, like Joshua, they have a decision to make. Do they go with the flow, or do they anchor themselves in God’s blueprint?
But here’s the beauty of God’s design for families:
A. Regular prayer
Oh, never stop praying. It sounds simple, right? But how often do we reserve our prayers for bedtime and for mealtime? What if, like the Stampers, we turned car rides into mini prayer sessions, or transformed chores into moments of gratitude?
B. Dive into Scripture
Next, dive into the Scripture. Repeat them again and again to your children. The Bible is not just a Sunday book. It’s a life book. Imagine if instead of the latest podcast or piece of gossip that’s going around town, the Stampers discussed the Bible story during breakfast. Or what if instead of binge-watching the latest series, they had a weekly Bible story night.
C. Quick to Forgive
Next, be quick to forgive. Be kind to each other. Tenderhearted, forgiving one another. Let’s face it. Families are not perfect. We step on each other’s toes, don’t we? Sometimes, literally. But what if, like the Stampers, we made forgiveness a reflex and not a last resort?
D. Speak Truth in Love
Next is to speak truth in love. You know, tough conversations are, well, let’s face it, they’re tough. But they’re also necessary. Whether it’s addressing a sin or discussing a challenging topic, doing so with love and truth makes all of the difference.
E. Share the Load
Next is to share the load. Share each other’s burdens. Families are teams. And when one member’s struggling, everybody feels it. So why not share the load? Whether it’s helping out with chores or listening to a sibling’s worries or just simply being there. Every bit counts.
Now, you might think, well, that sounds great on paper, but in real life? I mean, that’s a whole different ballgame. And look, you’d be right. The Stampers, with their packed calendars and endless to-do lists, they often feel overwhelmed. But here is their secret sauce. Intentionality. They don’t wait for the stars to align to dive into Scripture and to pray. They weave these practices into their everyday life.
And no, it’s not about ticking off a spiritual checklist. It’s about building a fortress brick by brick against the enemy’s assaults. But here’s the cherry on top. God’s grace. Because even when the Stampers skip a devotional or their prayer time is more chaos than calm, they can rest easy. Why? Because they know it’s not about their efforts. It’s about Jesus. His sacrifice and His unending love. And in a world buzzing with distractions, God’s blueprint is our compass. It’s not just about navigating family life and just trying to survive. Oh, no. It’s about thriving and growing and shining His light every step of the way.
So far, we’ve uncovered the enemy’s tactics. And we have laid out God’s blueprint. Which brings us to our last point, strengthening family bonds.
III. Strengthening Family Bonds
Strengthening family bonds. I want you to picture this. A bridge. It’s majestic. Spanning a vast river connecting two different cities. Now, this bridge isn’t held up by just one or two cables. No, but it’s hundreds of intertwined strands playing a crucial role. That’s what family bonds are like. They’re not just about shared last names or holiday dinners. Oh, no. They’re the intricate, intertwined connections that hold us together. Especially when the currents of life get turbulent, and they will. And so, how do we strengthen these family bonds?
A. Worship Together
One is to worship together. There’s something magical about families worshiping together. It’s like a weekly family reunion, but with a divine touch. When voices rise in unison. When hands are lifted in praise, singing about my Jesus. And when hearts are poured out in prayer. Families aren’t just attending a service. They’re building a legacy.
Studies have shown a fascinating trend that when the father or the primary male figure in the home takes the lead in attending church, the family often follows. Now, this isn’t to sideline the incredible spiritual nurturing mothers and other caregivers provide. No, in fact, they’re often the unsung heroes, the spiritual anchors. But there is a call here for fathers and for male figures. Your role isn’t just about providing or being the fun dad. No, it’s about leading by example. Showing that faith isn’t just a Sunday only affair, but it is a daily walk.
And we must pray. Oh, we must fervently pray for the men in our church. And for our families to be the spiritual leaders that God requires of them. For families looking for a practical step, well, consider our Sunday evening worship service where we have mission friends. Where your kids can learn about the importance of both church and missions of giving of oneself. But you also get to deepen your faith as well. They’re not just about singing songs or listening to sermons. They’re about creating memories, instilling values, and setting the spiritual rhythm for the week ahead.
B. Finding Littles Spaces for Worship
Next is finding little spaces for worship. Back to the Stampers, they have a little secret. Between the soccer practices and the school projects and those work deadlines, they’ve discovered that there’s little pockets of time. And they’ve made those little spaces for worship. It’s not always an hour long Bible study or a deep theological discussion. No, sometimes it’s just a couple of minute prayer in the car. Or a quick Bible verse during breakfast. Or a song of gratitude as we’re doing chores in their five minute pickup.
These moments might seem small and insignificant. But I want you to think of them as the tiny bolts and screws that hold a massive structure together. They’re the daily reminders that God isn’t just reserved for Sundays. Oh, He is an everyday God and He is interested in our everyday lives.
But let’s get real. Life is messy. Calendars get packed. Alarms get snoozed. And good intentions sometimes remain just that, intentions. The Stampers, like all of us, have their off days. But here’s what they’ve learned. It’s not about perfection. No, this time it’s about connection. And every little place they find for worship strengthens that connection drawing them closer to God and closer to each other.
C. Daily Rituals and Family Culture
Next is daily rituals and family culture. Every family has its rituals. For some like the Burtons it’s our Friday night movie nights. For others it’s maybe a weekend hike. But what if we infused these rituals with a touch of faith? What if a movie night included a short discussion on a biblical principle reflected in the film? Or if that weekend hike turned into a nature-inspired Bible lesson? Or walking off the field after a intramural recreational ballgame? We use that as a moment to apply a truth from God’s Word.
You know the Stampers made it their mission to cultivate a unique family culture. One where faith isn’t an add-on but it is the foundation. They’ve turned their board games into lessons on fairness, cooking sessions into moments of gratitude, and bedtime stories into biblical adventures. And here’s a fun idea. Surprise notes. Imagine finding a note in your lunchbox with the Bible verse or a word of encouragement. It’s a small gesture but it’s kind of like a midday hug. It’s a reminder that you are loved and cherished.
D. The Gospel
Next is the gospel message. Our anchor and hope. In the whirlwind of family life with its highs and lows and unexpected turns there is one constant. That’s the gospel. It is the anchor that holds our family steady. The compass that points the way and the hope that lights up even in the darkest nights. Our families are on a journey and like all journeys, oh there are challenges. But with every step there’s an invitation to lean into God’s grace to draw strength from the cross and to move forward with purpose and passion.
Stay with me here. I want us to pause and reflect. Family bonds aren’t just about shared memories or inside jokes. They’re about shared faith, shared values, and a shared journey towards God’s heart. Whether it’s through worship or daily rituals or every just being there for each other, every effort counts. Every prayer, every Bible verse, every act of love is a strand that’s strengthening the bridge of our family unity.
So here’s the challenge. This week I want you to find one way to strengthen your family bond. Whether you have a house full of little kids, teenagers, or you know what? You haven’t had a child in your household for decades. Oh, it applies to all of us. Maybe it’s a new ritual, a shared prayer, or even a surprise note. Whatever it is. So do it with love. Do it with intention and watch as God blesses your efforts weaving a tapestry of faith and unity.
I ask if our musicians would come on forward at this time. They often say that the kitchen is the heart of the home because it’s where meals are prepared. It’s where stories are shared, memories are made. But what if we were to look deeper? The true heart of the home isn’t a place. It’s the bonds that we’ve been talking about, the spiritual ties that bind families together.
Throughout our journey today, we’ve explored the challenges families face, the divine blueprint that God has provided, and the practical steps to strengthen our bonds. But as we conclude, there is a vital truth that we must grasp. Family isn’t just about blood relations or shared last names. It’s about a shared faith, shared struggles, and shared victories. It’s about us coming together not just during the holidays or special occasions, but every single day in the big moments and in the small ones.
Now, I know that when we talk about family, our minds conjure a specific image. Parents, children, and perhaps a couple of pets. But I want us to broaden our horizon. Some of you may have adult children that have flown the nest or perhaps they’ve chosen paths that you would never have envisioned. Let’s be honest, you’re not always pleased with the path they’ve chosen. The pain, the worry, sleepless nights. They are real. But here’s the good news. The power of family, the power of prayer doesn’t diminish with age or distance. So whether your children are 2 or 42, the call to stand united, to pray, and to believe remains just as potent as ever.
There may be some here feeling the weight of regret, thinking about the what-ifs and the if-onlys. Remember this: it is never too late. Every day is a new opportunity, a fresh start. The gospel isn’t just about salvation; it’s about restoration, mending broken ties, healing old wounds, and forging a future filled with hope and promise.
So as this soft music fills this room, let’s take a moment to reflect. Where are you? Where does your family stand? Think of just one step you can take this week to bridge a gap, strengthen a bond, or rekindle a lost connection. Maybe it’s a phone call, a letter, or even a silent prayer. Commit to it. Write it down. Place it somewhere you’ll see daily, and let it guide you towards stronger, deeper family bonds.
Stay with me, though. At the core of every sermon, every message, is the heartbeat of the gospel. Jesus Christ, with arms open wide on the cross, bridged the gap between us and the Father. If you’ve never embraced this love, today is the day. If you’ve drifted away, today is the day to return. In just a few moments as we sing, if you feel that tug on your heart, don’t hesitate. Come forward. I’ll be standing down here in front. Make that commitment. Let’s walk this journey together.
But for all of us, there’s a decision looming. Will we leave here unchanged? Or will we rise, fortified, ready to defend our families against the enemy’s onslaughts? Because he will attack. The choice is ours. But as we make it, remember this: our families, with all their quirks and challenges, are worth every effort, every prayer, every sacrifice. As we step out today, let’s do so with renewed purpose, hearts aflame, ready to love and protect the true heart of our homes, our families.
Would you pray with me?
“Oh dearly, Father God, we thank you for who you are. For your love and grace. For how you provided for Adam and Eve when they sinned against you. How you are still there with us today. We pray that you protect us from the evil one and give us the courage to fortify our families, to build the bridges that unite us with you. In Jesus’ name, we pray, amen.”
This is our time to respond. Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling. Let’s stand as we sing.