Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Family Worship

Family Worship
Selected Scriptures

I trust there are none here present, who profess to be followers of Christ who do not also practice prayer in their families. We do not have a positive commandment for it, but we believe that it is so much in accord with the genius and spirit of the gospel, and that it is so commended by the example of the saints, that the neglect thereof is a strange inconsistency. - Charles Spurgeon


Genesis 18:17-19
Deuteronomy 6:4-7
Joshua 24:15
Psalm 78:1-8
Ephesians 6:4


In the 17th century, both the Presbyterians and the Baptists considered family worship so important that they included statements about it in their confessions of faith.

God is to be worshiped everywhere in spirit and in truth; as in private families daily, and in secret each one by himself. – The Westminster Confession of Faith

He is to be gravely and sadly reproved by the elders; after which reproof, if he be found still to neglect Family-worship, let him be, for his obstinacy in such an offence, suspended and debarred from the Lord’s supper, as being justly esteemed unworthy to communicate therein, til he amend. - from The Directory of Family Worship by the Westminster Assembly in August of 1647

If therefore our houses be houses of the Lord, we shall for that reason love home, reckoning our daily devotion the sweetest of our daily delights; and our family-worship the most valuable of our family comforts. . . . A church in the house will be a good legacy, nay, it will be a good inheritance, to be left to your children after you. - Matthew Henry

If you love your children; if you would bring them the blessing of heaven upon your families; if you would have your children make their houses the receptacles of religion when they set up in life for themselves; if you would have religion survive in this place, and be conveyed from age to age; if you would deliver your own souls – I beseech, I entreat, I charge you to begin and continue the worship of God in your families from this day to the close of your lives . . . . Consider family religion not merely as a duty imposed by authority, but as your greatest privilege granted by divine grace. – Samuel Davies

You don’t just expect to hand your children off to the church do you? The church has a unique role in that, but fathers, your responsibility is to bring your children up in the instruction of the Lord. Only part of that is bringing them under the preaching of the gospel, congregational praises and prayers – that’s an essential part – but the Lord does not mean you hand them off to anyone else as the primary discipliner and teacher in the things of the Lord. It’s a command given as the direct responsibility of the father.

We live in a day when entertaining our children ranks higher in importance than instructing our children. Beware the television set or internet that will keep you from family worship!


Read the Bible Pray Sing

Consider these three reminders: brevity, regularity, flexibility

Other purposes for Family Worship:
• Talking together
• Catechizing your children
• Reading good books
• Scripture memory


It used to be that 50% of professing Christians had a daily family altar of worship and prayer. When these praying families came together in a church it was like “adding power to power,” with the result that there was a mighty spirit of revival prevailing – souls were saved; the saints were blessed and edified; backsliders were restored and the whole community was shaken and brought under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. Nowadays it is estimated that only 5% of professing Christians maintain daily family worship. It isn’t enough that the churches we go to exalt Christ and teach His Word. The homes we come from must likewise exalt Christ and teach the Word. Families which ignore God and His Word six days a week will not be likely to know God “in the power of His resurrection” on the seventh day of the week! - from How to Have a Family Altar by Norman Williams

If we want to bring up a godly family, who shall be a seed to serve God when our heads are under the clods of the valley, let us seek to train them up in the fear of God by meeting together as a family for worship. - Charles Spurgeon


The Family Nights Tool Chest series by Focus on the Family / Heritage Builders (provides fun family devotions by topic including games and discussion questions)

Training Hearts – Teaching Minds by Starr Meade (offers simple, daily readings for one year based on the Westminster Shorter Catechism)

Moments Together for Couples by Dennis and Barbara Rainey (basic devotional for couples)

Resouce used for this message: Family Worship by Donald Whitney

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Preparing a Place for Worship

Preparing for Worship

The book of Numbers records the journeys of the Israelites from their encampment at Mount Sinai to the time that the Lord is ready to give them the Land of Promise. The first chapters of the book include many instructions and preparations for worship. God is to be taken very seriously, and He desires His people to take their worship of Him very seriously. Numbers chapter seven examines the offerings the people brought for the dedication of the Tabernacle, their transportable place of worship. Though it was not a permanent structure, wherever the people camped, the tabernacle would be the center point of their community. Their lives were to revolve around worshiping God with His people. Before they could conquer Canaan and influence the other nations for the Lord, the people must give attention to the worship of their God.

As Moses anoints and consecrates the tabernacle, the people participate in a beautiful expression of worship. Two types of gifts are given: thoughtful gifts and ones for sacrifice.

1) Thoughtful gifts: The heads of some of the families bring carts (wagons) and oxen to Moses. They understood that some of the Levites (the Gershonites [vs. 7] and the Merarites [vs. 8]) were responsible for carrying the structure and decorations of the tabernacle (frames, bases, poles, curtains), which were heavy.  This giving demonstrates care and thoughtfulness. Iain Duguid writes,

The Lord did not command Israel to bring carts, but as they considered the tabernacle and the needs of caring for it, they realized the blessing that such gifts could be to those charged with its transportation. That should challenge us in our giving. It is one thing to write a weekly or monthly check and drop it in the offering plate. It is another thing to look around at the ministry needs of the church and, without being asked, find a need that we can meet, then meet it. What a blessing to have such people in our congregation.

2) Gifts for sacrifice: Most of the chapter records, family by family, the presentation of gifts and offerings to be used in the worship of God and the sacrifices presented to Him (10-88). In great detail the author records each gift brought: utensils and supplies for the various offerings, different animals needed, and materials to be used at the altar. These gifts illustrate that the people understood the purpose of the Tabernacle: the worship of God in intercession and sacrifice. After receiving these offerings, the daily sacrifices could begin and the worship of God begun more formerly by His people.

Again, Duguid shares, This chapter shows us that the twelve tribes all eagerly played their part in providing the resources for a program of worship and fellowship with God. All of God’s people came together to fund the ministry of the tabernacle and those who served in it. The tribes did so freely, generously, and unitedly. Everyone had an equal part to play.

Why this waste?

Every so often, when monies are being raised for a structure of worship, someone complains that the money is wasted money that could be used for more practical purposes. Years ago I learned from Pastor Jack Hayford that, in terms of today’s economy, the grand and glorious temple of God, built under Solomon and prepared for by David, would cost approximately one billion dollars! That is a lot of cash. Amazingly, the Bible records that God gave His glory abundantly to that temple: fire came down from heaven . . . and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it (2 Chronicles 7:1-2). In other words, God was not repelled by the extravagance.

Years later, according to the New Testament, a woman extravagantly lavished a year’s worth of wages from her alabaster jar on washing Jesus’ feet and prophetically preparing him for his death (Matthew 26:6-13). Many songs and sermons have been written on this dramatic account. Judas Iscariot suddenly asks, “Why this waste? This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Now, Judas was probably not interested in the poor, but he might have been interested in stealing some of it for himself since he was the keeper of the purse. Jesus responds, “This woman has done a beautiful thing. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me with you.”

Jesus teaches us an important lesson there: There is a time to spend money on worship, and there is a time to spend money on people. That is an important principle. When money is required for worship, God is not dishonored. He does not say, “What a waste!” Instead, he receives it as an act of love.

As a church, much like the Israelites in Numbers 7, we are preparing to enter a place of worship in a few weeks. The place will be dedicated for the primary purpose of the worship of God and His glory. For that purpose to happen, preparations must be made. As the desert-wanderers carefully and thoughtfully took time to prepare the tabernacle, so we are taking time to prepare the building that will house our church. Money is required for necessary things such as utility deposits, bathrooms renovations, and the removal of walls as well as more enjoyable things such as chairs, carpet, and sound equipment. As we continue to move forward, more money will be required for such things. Other gifts are required as well: time spent in planning and preparing details, cleaning and painting, and putting chairs together and decorating. All of these things are necessary and important. How comforting that in Numbers 7, God recorded every single gift brought by His people: He missed nothing! So today, God sees what we give.

God’s Response

God’s first response to the giving of His people, as given through the “thoughtful gifts,” is as follows: Accept these from them, that they may be used in the work of the Tent of Meeting. Give them to the Levites as each man’s work requires (7:5). In other words, God was pleased with the gifts and ready to receive them.

Then, after the gifts for worship and sacrifice are given, the Bible records, When Moses entered the Tent of Meeting to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the Testimony. And he spoke with him (89).

In other words, in response to the gifts, God gave Himself to His people: There was fellowship between God and his people, accomplishing the goal of the covenant in every age and generation.

As we prepare as a church for a place of worship . . . As we give our gifts of time, talents, and monies to prepare the Bridgeway Drive building . . . As we get involved with this work instead of just standing by passively . . . As we come “family by family” to bring gifts . . . The Lord will be pleased, and we pray that He will give Himself in a dynamic way to fellowship with His people called The Spring. Amen and so be it.