Good morning and welcome to Truth for Today where, for the next twenty five minutes, we shall, as usual, be discussing how Christianity affects our lives. Today's talk is the second in a series entitled: "Christ is all and in all" and will cover the influence of the Lord Jesus in the Christian's home. The Scripture that is being used initially, by each of the speakers in this series, is Luke 24, which is the resurrection chapter of that particular book. This is particularly apt, for the Christian life must be lived in the light and power of the victory of Jesus over death. We do not follow a set of teachings, or moral code, when we become a Christian, rather are we persuaded, by the Holy Spirit, of the greatness and majesty of Jesus the Son of God, and the rich forgiveness that He brings with Him, by virtue of His redeeming death upon the cross.
Last week my colleague, Dr. Gordon Hughes, began the series by speaking about the Lord being the focal point in the personal life of a Christian, while the last two talks will cover the local church and the personal witness and business life of an individual Christian. Such topics are to my mind extremely necessary today, as there is a tendency on the part of some to say that religion should be confined to Sundays and then only if we attend a place of worship. If our belief and relationship with the Lord does not affect our attitudes, or dictate our behaviour, then there is something wrong! Only a few weeks ago, I was talking to the widow of a man who used to travel around various Christian fellowships, in the county where I live, and she told me about a particular occasion when her husband was due to speak first at a gathering of Christians in company with an older, more well known speaker, who would address the company afterwards. Imagine the younger man's feelings when the older, more experienced speaker compared himself to a whale, while the younger man was a mere minnow. I could hardly believe that a man who ministers the truth of Christianity could be so arrogant, especially when the Lord, in Matthew 11:29, says: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."
It seems incredible that someone versed in the Scriptures should have such an elevated view of himself, which is why the subjects of all the talks on Truth for Today are so important, because we wish to emphasise that we cannot remain neutral, or indifferent, when we come into contact with the injunctions of the Bible. When the Lord is the focal point of our lives, whether personally or at home or in our church meetings, then we must take note of what He is saying to us. As we discuss the prime place of the Lord Jesus in the Christian's home, I want us to keep away from the example of the man who knew the Scriptures in his head, but not in his daily experience. Christianity must affect us in every way as we seek to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord.
Now, we must begin to address today's topic which, I repeat, is the Lord Jesus and the Christian's home. The verses that head our talk today are Luke 24:29-30: "But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them."
The first action we note from Luke 24:29-30 is that the two disciples constrained Him to stay with them, which illustrates an important element in our talk this morning. The Lord Jesus is not a burglar who would enter our homes uninvited. We have to make the decision to ask the Lord into our homes just as we asked Him into our hearts. Our homes can be arenas of selfishness and worldliness or they can be havens of peace, where the presence of the Lord is felt and where He is honoured. When I got married, which is more than fifty years ago now, two old ladies from a Mission Hall, where my wife had attended since she was very young, gave us a motto for our new home. It was on a coloured and decorated card, yet it was the words that I still remember. It simply stated, "Christ is the Head of this House, The unseen Guest at every Meal, The silent Listener to every Conversation."
Even if such mottos are not seen very often these days, the sentiment they express could prove useful as a guide to young believers, when they set up their first home.
There are, however, a couple of suggestions that I could make to improve upon the motto that we were given. I might be guilty of nit-picking, but I have come to believe that the man is the head of the home. The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:3 writes that "man is the head of the woman". I know that this is an unpopular doctrine in some quarters, which makes me emphasise that it does not give a domineering husband license to ride roughshod over his wife and her feelings. There is, however, an order in Scripture which the Christian ignores at his or her peril. As a counter balance the same verse states that the head of the man is Christ so that the authority of the man is exercised in love and faith and in response to his relationship with the Lord. This advice is repeated again in Ephesians 5:22-25: "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it."
No husband, or wife, could behave selfishly if they have the Lord as the focal point of their home.
The second proviso I would make about our wedding gift motto is that the Lord is not a silent listener in our homes, or at least He ought not to be. His voice should be heard on all occasions when guidance is needed, or when advice is sought. The fact that He does listen to our conversations should shield our minds from topics which would be unkind or destructive to others, especially those of the household of faith. It is so easy, in the privacy of our homes, to criticise fellow Christians, from whom we have just parted after an hour of instruction in the Lord's things. Such things ought not to be, if we have invited the Lord in to stay with us, as did those disciples in Luke 24. There is another simple point that I want us to notice from the passage that we read together from Luke 24:29-30. When the disciples pressed the Lord to stay with them, He took the bread and blessed it before they began to eat. I say again, it might be a simple point, but when we gather at the family table, do we give thanks for the food that is on the table before us? Our homes should be marked by praise and thankfulness to God for all His provision and loving kindness. The experience of the two disciples as they ate with the Lord Jesus, on that resurrection evening, caused them to appreciate the Lord in a deeper way. I am not saying that when we give thanks and pray together, in our homes that we shall have exactly the same feelings as they did, but I am convinced that our homes will reflect the peace and serenity that comes to those whose hearts are fixed upon Him.
Perhaps, at this stage in our talk, I ought to enlarge upon my last point of giving thanks for our meals by suggesting that Scripture has many examples of families that prayed and worshipped together. If we take Isaac as a model, then we can read of his actions in Genesis 26:23-25: "And he went up from thence to Beer-Sheba. And the Lord appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake. And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac's servants digged a well."
Notice how the priority with Isaac was to build an altar and to call upon God. His tent was pitched where the altar was. Though in our age we have no need to build an altar, because our worship is spiritual, we do need to have a time, when we are assembled together as a family, to read the Bible and to address God in prayer.
I firmly believe that the family unit, be it large or small, is precious to God and we abandon it at our peril. When Paul was writing to the Ephesian Church, he makes an amazing statement in Ephesians 3:14-15: "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named."
I do not wish to expound the meaning of these verses in their context; rather, I want us to notice that the family is God's model. In the very beginning of the Bible we read about the family being established: "So God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it." That reading is from Genesis 1:27-28. So Scripture teaches us in Genesis 2:24: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."
If, through grace, we have been brought to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ, and seek to walk in accord with His word, we must submit to the Biblical claim that the family, and the home, is the Biblical norm.
We Christians live in a society that is not governed by Christian principles. There might be concern for the elderly, the poor and the sick, yet we must recognise that politics, whether of the left or right or in between, is not bound to the Lordship of Christ. Even this very day, as I write this talk, an item on the evening news has informed us that a town council, in the west of England, has been refused permission to begin their deliberations with prayer. We are in a secular society and we must keep the barriers up in our homes to keep that society out.
Having said that, what we must not keep out is any thought of Christian hospitality. There are many examples from Scripture, that I could cite, to illustrate the beautiful grace of being hospitable. Hebrews 13:2 tells us: "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."
The mention of not being forgetful has reminded me that I have not stated that all my Bible readings this morning are from the King James or Authorised Version. I also ought to say to any who have just joined us that you are listening to Truth for Today, where we are talking about the Christian home.
Now, to return to my most recent point, which is, our homes must demonstrate the Christian virtue of hospitality. The example quoted by the writer of Hebrews, of unknowingly entertaining angels, is from Genesis 18:1-22, where Abraham received great blessing from God, when he invited three strangers into his home, even though it was just a tent. Please notice that he did this out of kindness, not because he expected a reward. Another example, from the Old Testament, is found in 2 Kings, 4:8-11. We have not the time to read all of the account of how a woman of Shunem made provision for Elisha, the prophet, so I will quote only 2 Kings 4:10, where the woman says to her husband: "Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither."
Our homes should be mirrors, where God's blessing to us can be reflected to others. Sadly, a word of warning must be given here, as in our society today, there are those who would take advantage of Christians, who wish to show kindness, and cruelly deceive even to steal from their hosts. We need to be wise and to be aware of corrupt men and women when we show hospitality.
The most precious blessing that a couple can receive when they marry and set up home together, is that of children. I am aware that not all marriages are blessed with the joy of children and that some couples desperately, but vainly, desire to have their homes gilded with the sound and sight of youngsters. We, who have children and grandchildren, should always be mindful of those who have not been blessed in this way. My point, in bringing the matter before us in this talk, is to stress the importance of being a parent, and the responsibility that this brings. We all want the best for our children, yet, sometimes, our desire for their material prosperity overrides the spiritual side of their development. Sadly, I have witnessed the pride of some parents, especially some fathers, when their sons have obtained a well paid job, often at the expense of the life of faith. Much is made of the possibility of riches in this world; nothing is said about the spiritual poverty of lives lived without the Lord Jesus and away from the fellowship of His people. The Apostle Paul, writing to the Ephesian Christians, instructs parents in Ephesians 6:4 "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
Similar instructions were given to the Israelite, as we can read in Proverbs 22:6: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Perhaps, a comment on the word "train" might be helpful in this context. As a book about the Christian family that I have on my shelf states: "To train does not mean merely to teach or instruct. It means to lead into a particular course or to draw along a certain path." (The Christian Home - Some thoughts and gleanings by Raymond K Campbell. ISBN: 9781894956345)
Much of the training will be imbued by loving example, as the heart is reached as well as the mind being informed. Many years ago, when I left my job as a draughtsman in the motor industry to train as a teacher, I read a recommended book entitled "Child Care and the Growth of Love". I have forgotten most of its contents except for one simple observation that if a child is starved of love and affection in the home then the child will be unable to love in return. May our Christian homes be places of love and kindness where godliness rules! One of the Bible's most beautiful examples of a godly home is found in John 12:1-3: "Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment."
Please note the context of the event, described in these verses, which is, "six days before the passover." This was to be the last passover that Jesus celebrated during His earthly life, for within a few days, He would be taken to Calvary and crucified. How precious that there was a lodging place, where He could rest in peace and safety, during that last week, when events moved with great speed, as His enemies sought to kill Him and a close disciple betrayed Him. It is significant that John, specifically, mentions the resurrected Lazarus as being present, and I do not think I am stretching Scripture, if I suggest at this point that we gather in company with the Lord Jesus because we, through God's grace, posses the power of the new life, the life that is beyond death, by virtue of our faith in Jesus. Or, if there is someone listening who has not been born again, may I urge you to think carefully and put your trust in the Lord Jesus, whom we believe is the Son of God. The only avenue of blessing is through the One who said "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6).
In John's account, (John 12:1-3), we, also notice that Martha served at the feast, especially arranged for their Friend, named Jesus. Now Martha was serving, without any fuss or complaint, unlike a previous time, recorded for us by Luke in Luke 10:38-42. The Christian home should not be disrupted by an inordinate amount of preparation that interferes with our communion with the Lord or the testimony that we raise as Christians. Are we, especially the ladies, so 'house-proud' that the welcome is muted in case our homes are disrupted in some small way? I remember my mother telling me that, when she was a young married woman, she visited a friend's home, where the lady of the house produced a piece of newspaper, for a small boy to stand on, whilst he ate a biscuit, in case any crumbs fell onto the carpet. By citing such an extreme example, I might have strayed from my point of Martha serving with serenity, but I am keen that our hospitality should not be forced or artificial. It is, however, the actions of Mary that I wish to focus upon, as we come near to the end of our talk this morning. She knelt at the feet of Jesus to anoint them with some very precious and fragrant ointment, so much so that the whole house was filled with perfume (John 12:3). I would suggest that this is a fitting conclusion to the programme today, where we have been thinking about the Lord's place in the Christian family. There was space in that home at Bethany for the Lord Jesus. Is there space in our homes for Him? There was service for Him that was done selflessly in a spirit of meekness. Our homes should be places from where we can venture out in service, supporting one another as family members, without selfishly thinking our time and resources are our own to lavish only on our selves.
Are we slaves to the latest kitchen décor, or bathroom style, or do we renounce such material trivialities in order to serve the Lord more completely? Mary gave the most precious thing she possessed and poured it over the Lord's feet in honour of who He was. Judas Iscariot saw such an action as complete waste and was not afraid to say so. Perhaps, the index of his concern is summed up in the words in John 12:5: "Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor: but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein."
I have no doubt that some will harshly criticise the Christian's life style, especially if it impinges upon the world's values. Our responsibility is to do the will of the Lord and to give to Him the premier place in our lives and homes and family.
May the Lord add His blessing upon our families, and service, this day. Good morning and thank you for listening.Top of Page