Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Recently, we concluded going through the Book of Joshua with the men from Christ Fellowship Bible Church. We spent an additional week working slowly through Joshua 24:15 and talking about Joshua's resolve: "As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." What is family worship? What does it look like? How does one get started? Is it really doable in our 'fast-paced society'? This is the outline that I provided our men to guide us in our discussion through this important topic.

FAMILY WORSHIP — an outline
And verily there is one spring and cause of the decay of religion in our day, which we cannot but touch upon and earnestly urge a redress of; and that is the neglect of the worship of God in families by those to whom the charge and conduct of them is committed. (Preface to the Second London Baptist Confession, 1689)

Joshua 24:15 —
Breaking it down for study: [see also: Deut 6:4-9; Ps 78:1-8; Gen 18:19; Prov 2:1; Eph 6:4; 1 Tim 3:4-5]
1. The Father's own spiritual growth (but as for me...)
2. The Father's own responsibility (and MY...)
3. The Father's own leadership (and my house...)
4. The Father's own determination (we will...)
5. The Father's own worship (we will serve...)
6. The Father's own theology (serve the LORD...)

The Church of Scotland took “Family Worship” seriously, as can be shown in what follows:
Men were strongly admonished if they did not lead in family worship. An elder reproved them and if the fathers persisted in this neglect, they were barred from taking the Lord’s Supper!

Jason Helopoulos strongly encourages us:
As a Christian father and husband, I am to continually put God and the testimony of His mighty works before my wife and children. And there is no better way to do this than regular, consistent, and intentional family worship. No matter how spontaneous I may be, sharing the truth of God and His mighty works "off the cuff" could never equal what we do in regular daily family worship. It is the best means for effectual evangelism and discipleship in the home. By practicing daily worship in the home, my family is continually put in the way of God's grace. The great accounts and truths of the Scriptures are set before us every night. We are daily seeking the Lord's throne of grace in united prayer. And we are offering thanksgiving and praise to God as we join our voices in song. Each of these elements of family worship convey to the minds and hearts of those gathered the truth of God and His mighty works in a full, regular, and consistent way that no other practice in the home can rival...Christian families practicing family worship will also find that it centers their home upon Christ. Our home is always centered upon something, but often it isn't Christ. It's not that we intentionally center it upon something else, we just unknowingly do so. Other things begin to dominate our common life together. It could be things outside the home as we venture out to attend soccer games and ballet lessons. Equally, it can be things within the home like television, video games, or even laundry. These can all be good things and they can serve a good and right purpose. However, they must all remain in their appropriate place: secondary and tertiary status. As a Christian father, husband, mother, or wife, our desire is that our homes are dominated by Christ above all else. Our hope is that our family and its activities will center upon Him. He is our Lord, Savior, and Friend. We have been secured in His grip by grace. And that grace welling up within us leads us to want to worship Him and see our loved ones worship Him as well.

This commendable resolution of Joshua, is absolutely necessary for every true son of Joshua, that is entrusted with the care and direction of a family in our day: and, if it was ever appropriate for ministers to preach, or for people to put family-religion into practice, it is never more so than in the present age; since it is greatly to be feared, that out of those many households that call themselves Christians, there are only a few that serve God in their respective families as they should. (George Whitefield)

“Praise is certainly not at all so common in family prayer as other forms of worship...I agree with Matthew Henry when he says, “They that pray in the family do well; they that pray and read the Scriptures do better; but they that pray, and read, and sing do best of all.” There is a completeness in that kind of Family Worship which is much to be desired.” (Charles Spurgeon)

Where to start & how to get it going?
How do you begin? Begin simply. Grab a Bible, read a short Psalm, pray a brief prayer, sing the doxology. Don't wait until you prepared or no longer apprehensive. Begin tonight. Many of us have already waited too long. And then gather again tomorrow night and the night after that. When you miss a day or even a week, don't beat yourself up, just pick it right back up again. Over the course of weeks and months, you will find it to be one of the great joys of your life together as a family. A joy that carries in its practice blessing upon blessing to the praise and glory of God. (Jason Helopoulos)

“It is here, in family worship, that the reformation must begin” (Matthew Henry).

More resources on "Family Worship"  |  ArticlesSermons
Praying for families in your local church.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The Lord calls all believers to pray at all times in the Spirit … and to be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints (Eph 6.18). What a privilege. But it may appear to be daunting and a bit impossible to pray for everyone in your local church. Where do you begin? How do you start? What could be a helpful guide to aid you in praying for your local church?

In what follows, I provide some ways to pray for the families in your local church.  Pray for...

1. For marriages to be holy.  Consider praying for the marriages to be holy. This refers to the husbands and wives fulfilling and pursuing their God-given roles as laid out in Scripture. Pray for marriages in your church to be godly representations of the gospel of Christ. Pray for set-apart, other-worldly, heavenly-minded marriages at church.

2. For singles to be faithful.  Earnestly seek God in intercessory prayer for the singles in your local church to obey what Paul says of them in 1 Corinthians 7: to have undistracted devotion to the Lord (v.35). Pray that they would utilize their singleness for Christ’s glory, to pursue the saints with selfless zeal and with relentless passion.

3. For widows to be disciples.  Pray for the widows in your church to pursue good works, to show hospitality, to serve the saints by selfless, foot-washing service, to assist those in need, and devote herself to every good work.

4. For retired to be disciplined.  Ask God on behalf of the retired men and women to live like Caleb with full strength and vigor for God, to take on great tasks and duties for Christ’s sake, and to emulate Anna who worshiped constantly, fasted, prayed, and lived a life of gratitude (not grumbling and complaining!) to God. Pray for them to be busily disciplined and continually strengthened by God to do His work, with untiring energy, out of love for Christ.

5. For women to be submissive.  Seek God on behalf of the wives and young women to be submissive to their husbands, to be quiet (as opposed to boisterous and self-focused), gentle, obedient to authority, and to be sensible, pure, workers at home and to not dishonor the Lord but to adorn the doctrine of Christ in all respects.

6. For men to be humble leaders.  Plead boldly and persistently with God to raise men and cultivate in men a Christlike emulation so as to be humble, gentle and sacrificial leaders. Ask God for men to not be self-willed but self-effacing and others-focused.

7. For children to be obedient.  Pray for the young children to obey their parents in all things. Pray for the children to receive God’s blessing and follow God’s Word as they grow in godly homes and hear God’s Word taught.

8. For teens to be Spirit empowered.  Appeal to God for young people to be Davids, young men devoted to God with hearts that follow Him and set God before them continually. Pray for more Josephs, young people fleeing from immorality (literally!) and living with paramount integrity, trustworthiness and love. Pray for young people to be like Jesus, totally about the “Father’s business” in this present evil age in which we live.

9. For babies to become missionaries.  Seek the Lord boldly and open your mouth wide to the God who is able to do far more abundantly beyond what you think or imagine to raise up and grow the smallest of nursing babies in your church to be missionaries for Christ’s work and service. O pray for men with an open map and an open Bible who believe God’s sovereignty and go with Spirit-empowered and evangelistic zeal to preach the gospel to the rough, the savages, the unreached, and unengaged peoples of the world. O God, amaze us for your glory!

10. For shut-ins to rest in Christ. Come to the throne of grace for those who are homebound in your church. Maybe there are the elderly who aren’t able to leave their homes, maybe people in the final stages of cancer or a terminal illness. Seek the Lord on their behalf that they would rest in Christ and not be bitter, or angry, or resentful or pessimistic. Pray that those who find themselves confined to the home would rest in Christ and bathe in Scripture and reflect on and proclaim God’s faithfulness.

11. For families to be little churches of worship.  Plead earnestly that every home would be, as it were, a little church, earnestly and consistently about the worship of God in the home, led by the father, with the families gathered together to read the Word, sing God’s praises, and pray together -- all for God’s glory. Pray for the homes to be worship gatherings where God’s blessing would rest upon those homes and where families would prepare in the homes for worship corporately with God’s people.

More resources at CFBC's website & at Pastor Geoff's articles page.
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