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Priest of the Family

From the series Portrait of a Father

Chip will ask and answer 4 key questions that every father must address if he’s going to lead his family well.

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Message Transcript

Your goal is for your boy, your girl, your teen, your young adult to become like Jesus. To become Christ-like.

But, you know what? If you don’t have a target, you’re in big trouble.

Psalm 127, the last three verses of it. What’s it say? “Children are a gift from the Lord.” An inheritance. A beautiful thing. He says, “If your quiver is full of them, way to go.”

Now, when’s the last time you saw someone at an archery range like this? Pull out an arrow. Shoot it straight up. Whoa, wonder where that’ll come down. Well, don’t stand still.

Or just shoot it here, shoot. What do you do? You’ve got to have a target, guys. You need, I need, we need to say, “My children are arrows. I put them in the bow of God’s training program and then I reach back and I say, God, I want to aim these kids so they fulfill Your calling.”

Let me give you some very specific ways to get there. One, you’re going to hear this a lot because the Bible says it a lot and the research says it a lot. Modeling. Modeling.

You need to be a man of God’s Word. You need to be a man of integrity. You need to be a man involved in loving relationships. Your kids are going to come out, whether you like it or not, a lot like you.

Second, as a leader, you need to take initiative.

What’s another thing leaders do? They give direction. They set direction. “This is where we’re going to go. We are here, there’s the target, Christlikeness. My child has unique needs. We relate in a certain way. This is how I’m going to leverage it. Here’s what they need emotionally, spiritually, physically,” bam. You come up with a strategic plan, you lay it out, part of it works, part of it doesn’t work.

So what do you do? You evaluate. That’s the next one. And you look in the rearview mirror and you say, “We’re making progress but not here, not there.”

Guys, you guys are smart guys, alright? You are smart guys. What I’m asking you to do is ask the Spirit of God today to turn a switch inside your head and say, God, would You help me to bring the level of focus, and intentionality, and strategic thinking, and absolute commitment to success, to my kids and my home that I do to work every day?

You do, God will show you how to get there. And here’s the deal. The rewards are awesome. They are long-term rewards. But you hang in there.

In a word, your stewardship, men, and this is new, so ease back. Deep breath. Your stewardship, men, you are morally responsible. You are morally responsible before God for your home.

Not your wife. Not the Church. Not the maid. Not the nanny. You. Does it mean you do it all? Of course not. You don’t do everything at work, do you? What do you do? You own it! You own the moral responsibility and say, we are going to produce these kind of kids by the grace of God.

And we’re going to have a plan, we’re going to have a strategy, we’re going to evaluate, and we’re going to set direction, we’re going to take initiative, and man, we are going to go for it!

Second role, men. You’re not only a leader. You’re a priest. A priest. What? Yeah, a priest. That brings lots of pictures to a lot of our minds. A priest, what’s his definition? He makes God known. That’s what a priest does. He makes God known. You are the family priest.

Open your Bibles, will you? Deuteronomy chapter 6. Let me give you the context. Deuteronomy chapter 5, God gives the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai. There’s smoke, there’s an earthquake, there’s rumbling, and the people are going, “Whoooah!”

So, in verse 27, they come to Moses. And they say, “Moses, we have a great idea.” Moses says, “Well what’s the idea?” “How about God never shows up like this again, ever. Okay? This makes us very uncomfortable. We’re out of our comfort zone. We’re scared to death. How about, you go talk to Him and then whatever He tells you, you come talk to us.” And Moses, in verse 28, goes to God and says, “Hey God. They got an idea. I’d like to run it by You.”

And he tells Him the idea and God says, “You know what? That’s a good idea. Let’s do it that way.”

And so, what happens is, Moses becomes what? A priest. He goes and realizes who God is and he reveals God to the people and then he takes the needs, the hurts, and the fears of the people and he represents them to God. That’s what a priest does. He reveals God to the people, and he takes the needs of the people to God.

Now, as Deuteronomy 6 opens up, listen. God has told Moses, Moses is the priest, and Moses is going to give this mantel of responsibility to the men to pass on to their sons and their grandsons, and the reason you’ve got to have a pencil is he goes through about, literally, eight clear steps about what a priest does.

Now, we’re just going to give you the highlights, but it’s not rocket science. You can figure this out and you know how to do it.

So follow along, let’s read the first three verses as Moses, the new priest, is calling the men to be the priest in their homes.

“Now, this is the commandment. The statutes and the judgments, which the Lord, your God, has commanded me,” that’s Moses, “to teach you.” Why?

“That you might do them in the land where you’re going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord,” have relationship with Him.

What do you do then? “To keep all His statutes, His commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, that your days may be prolonged. O, Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you.”

Well, what’s He want for them? What’s God’s will? Is this a God whose arms are crossed? Wears a big, black robe, says, “Here are the rules. My way or the highway!”?

What’s it say? Look at the text. He says, “That God may prolong your days, greatly multiply you, and has promised you a land flowing with milk and honey.”

See, God says, “Moses, I want them to hear the content. This is right, this is wrong, and My character. But Moses, make sure they get My heart. I love them. I love these people. I have delivered them. Make sure every dad tells his son, every son tells his son, for generation to generation to generation. And make sure they do a couple things.

“One, My statues, My word. They’ve got to know it. But don’t let them get into that legalism stuff. Don’t let them just share these rules. Make sure they know it comes from a God who is so good, and so loving, that He wants to protect and give them the very best.”

See, God’s will, in this fallen world, is like a twisting highway on a mountain road. And if you go over the highway, it’s painful down there. Thousand-foot drop-offs. And so, God says, “I want to help you, because I love you.”

And so, He puts guardrails on this winding highway. Guardrail on one side is His commandments; guardrail on the other side is His statutes. And what He wants you to do is bump into those guardrails, “Ooh, that’s wrong.” Boom, “That’s wrong.” Why?

Because, see, if you go over the guardrail you get hurt. This isn’t about a God who says, “Here are all the rules, keep all the rules, memorize this stuff.”

This is a God who says, “I have for you better, bigger, deeper, richer than you could ever imagine. And I’ve outlined how to get there. So follow them.”

And you say to yourself, I’d like to be a dad like that. I’d like to be a priest like that. I’d like to lead my family so that when they go around the winding roads and difficulties of life, they would land well. And you say, “How do you do that?” I say, “I’m glad you asked.”

Look at verse 4. I’m going to give you some steps, here. Get that pen out. Verse 4 says, “Hear O, Israel. The Lord is our God. The Lord is one.” Write down on your notes or in your Bible, put a little number one and write “correct theology.” Moses starts with: you’ve got to make sure you’re worshipping the right God.

He’s living in a world where people are worshipping everything. He says, “The Lord our God is the great Shema of the Hebrews. This is what’s true. Our God. Make sure they get it clear.” Correct theology. Accurate view of God from the Scriptures.

Doesn’t stop there. Verse 5. “And you,” dad, “shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.” Put a little number two and write down “devotion”.

First of all, get them on the right track with the right truth. And then you, before you say a word, before you try and be a dad, you with all your heart and all your soul, make your number one devotion your relationship with God.

And then, after you have personal devotion, notice it goes on. “And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.” So long before we’re doing any parenting, right theology, personal devotion.

Three, Word-centered life. You can’t know God apart from the Scriptures, not in its fullness. No way.

Then, now notice, it shifts. Number four, what do you do? “And you shall teach them diligently to your sons.” Teach, the word here, has the idea with formal training.

Men, we need, when they’re little, you start with the picture Bible books. When they’re a little older, you read them stories. We kept reading them stories all the way up through almost teenage years in different ways and then they read back and forth. There’s certain content.

You need to have formal times where you teach. A couple times a week around the dinner table. Doesn’t take ten, twelve minutes. But you get in the Bible together and you teach.

Ask them questions. Use some visuals. Think through, what do you want them to learn and why? This actually can be kind of fun.

But after you teach them formally, notice the next one is, talk with them. When? Well, “When you sit down in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” What’s the point? You not only do formal teaching, but now you talk. This is informal time.

It’s just woven into who you are as a person. You teach formally; you talk informally.

And then notice this next one, number six is practice it. Practice it in all of life. Notice what it says. “And you shall bind them,” speaking of God’s Word, “as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. And you shall write them on your doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

What’s he saying? You need to practice your Word-centered, personal devotion to God by teaching, by talking, but in all of life! I mean, what does it mean here?

Your hands. What are the hands? That’s your doing. Your activities. You’re in the garden, you’re playing softball, you’re on the computer, you go to work. Your hands reflect, what’s God’s Word? What’s a person…what’s it look like when a believer, a dad, walks with Christ? You live it out. You integrate.

There isn’t just the church side, or the devotional time, it’s integrated in your activities and in your thinking. That’s the idea here.

And then when you go to work. The gates of your house. And how your home operates. The doorposts. So that it’s a reminder. It’s integrated. And then notice what God promises to His priests. Look at this next line. This is fantastic.

He says, “Then, it shall come about when the Lord, Yahweh, your God brings you into the land, which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give to you great and splendid cities, which you did not build and houses full of good things that you did not fill. And hewn cisterns, which you did not dig. And vineyards and olive trees, which you did not plant. And you shall eat and be satisfied.”

Now, that’s Old Testament imagery and very specific things God promised to them. Now, unless you’re really into, like, orchards, this is not a real motivating passage.

But what He was saying to those fathers is: When you live life My way and you teach your sons so they teach their sons and you give them correct doctrine and you model personal devotion and you have a Word-centered life, and you decide there’s going to be some formal times in your home where they really get it and teach it. And then you talk about it and you apply it. How you live. I’m going to bless your life. I’m going to bless the socks off of you.

He wants your kids to know His way works. Does it mean everything goes your way? Does it mean you get rich? Does it mean you never get sick? Well, absolutely not. It means that the best life possible, in a fallen world, this taste of this side of heaven, you can experience.

Notice the warning, though. It says that God can bless us when we do it His way. Then, “Watch yourself, lest you forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt out of the house of slavery.”

He says, you know, be careful when life gets going kind of good, you don’t focus on the gifts instead of the Giver.

And then notice the summary, verse 13. This is where we get back. He started with passing it on to be a priest. “You shall fear only the Lord.” Capitals. It’s YAHWEH, His covenant name. Your God.

“And you shall,” here’s our key word, “worship Him and swear by His name.” Moses is saying, “Guys, you asked me to go up on the mountain and figure out what God is saying. I went, He spoke, I’m speaking, you do it.”

And he says you swear by His name. Convictions, commitment, dependency, integrity, loyalty. God and God alone has got to be the focus of your heart, your life, your actions, your speech, your thinking.

And when you do, the God who created all that there is and with whom He would desire to spend eternity with every person in this room and on this planet if they would receive the free gift of Christ – that God wants to honor you.

And so you say, “Well, what questions does a priest need to ask? How do you get there?” Let me give you a few and I’ll let you play these out for yourself. First, ask yourself, dad, “Do my kids know God?” Are you thinking about that? Ask yourself, “Do they have an accurate view of God?” Your kids are being bombarded with all the media, all the stuff, all the school. Do they have an accurate view of God? If not, who’s going to give it to them?

Third question, does our home honor God? By what we see, what we allow in, where our values are.

Then the question is, are we growing in holiness? See, that’s not the church’s job. Is your wife, are you, are your kids growing in holiness?

Holiness, biblically means, they’re going to be winsome, free, pure. The kind of people who they say, man, you know what really holiness means? It means to be totally other. They’re going to be different. But not, like, different weird. Different like in, wow, winsome.

A family that works. What a novel idea. A loving relationship between a teenager and his dad. Woo. Amazing. It’s God’s way.

Your focus, men, as a priest is to guard worship. That’s your focus. Worship. Worship. Worship in what you say, worship in what you think, worship in the home.

Let me give you some practical ways to get going. Number one, here, on the how-to, to be a priest is modeling authentic worship. And, men, let me just shoot it straight. You have time, I have time. It’s a priority issue. Set your clock back fifteen minutes this week or twenty. Get up, read. Start in the New Testament. Start in Matthew. Start in Acts. Start in Mark. Get in the Bible every day. Okay?

You can’t be changed, you can’t be transformed, you’ll know the truth, the truth will set you free. You can go to groups. You can come to stuff. You can listen to stuff. Until you get in the Bible for yourself, you will never be the man you’re supposed to be.

The second is, dad, let’s not be the guy who people are trying to drag out of bed to come to church. Be the leader. Be the initiator. Set direction. “Hey look, this is a priority. Part of God’s plan is that worship happens corporately. We’re going.”

Then, initiate some family worship. And don’t go home and say, “Every night, we’re going to have family devotions.” Men, you’ll end up doing it two or three times and feel like a failure. Set one night a week. Just one night.

I mean, like, eight minutes. Ten minutes max. And you know something? It’ll grow. What’ll happen is, your kids will want it to go longer. Be creative.

And then, encouraging private worship. As your kids get older. You know what? Just turn the TV off a half hour before bedtime and say, “You know what? Why don’t you take a little time. Read the Scriptures or read a good book that will encourage you spiritually,” and early on you can teach your kids to end each day with time with God, do some reading and thinking, and your kids will be transformed.

The stewardship then, men, is that you own, and I own, the spiritual climate of our house. And ninety-nine percent of the homes in America, the woman does. And she would love you to take this ball and run with it.