This past week in my personal bible study I got hooked reading 2 Kings… Just enthralled with story after story of corrupt kings systematically leading the entire Nation of Israel further and further away from the God who had rescued them and been so incredible faithful despite their rebellion. And when you get to , you read that king Hoshea’s actions were the eventual tipping point that lead to Israel losing their leader and their land to the Assyrians because of their disregard towards God’s Law. They refused to learn from their past mistakes and the anger of God boiled over.
I picked up my Warren Wiersbe commentary to help me navigate through the kings and characters of this particular time in history and read this comment—
Israel could easily answer the first two considerations. They were God’s chosen people who had descended from Abraham. These two truths should have lead them in the right direction as they looked at the last two considerations. Being God’s people and heirs of this incredible Gospel promise should have shaped what they did and where they were going. Instead, in their freedom to choose what they did and where they wanted to go, they chose a darker path that was outside of God’s desire for His people.
I get this every year, and I totally understand the thought behind it—“On Mother’s Day all we do is talk about how precious moms are and on Father’s Day we get beat up.” Listen, I never want you to leave church feeling beat up… that’s not the point. The point this morning is for us to understand the significance of our role in leading our families and to feel the weight of the truth that our leading… the direction we give… the decisions we make have eternal consequences.
We are free to make those decisions, but we are not free from the consequences those decisions birth.
So, the goal for today is simple. If we can see the significance and feel the weight of God’s specific calling on our lives, what instruction does God give in His Word that enables us lead well?
***REITERATE AND APPLY TO THE YOUNG GUYS***
We are going to look at two passages and from them see two ministries that we cannot exempt ourselves from but must be actively involved in—
A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
“Nisi Dominus Frusta” is a Latin contraction of . Translated literally it means, “Without the Lord, Frustration.” What this helps us see is the inevitable frustration that we are bound to be wrapped in if we continuously try and do all things on our own. You can labor over every inch of a project. You can meticulously measure, form out and secure but if God removes Himself from that effort or if you work and keep God out of it… it’s all useless!
The other example the Psalmist gives is watching over a city. You and I can be on the lookout. We can helicopter parent and shelter and protect… we do our best to be the most secure refuge possible for those we love, but if God isn’t watching… our efforts are doomed.
Now all of this is important because when we talk about the Ministry of Presence, we must know that this ministry is layered.
If you and I are going to be effective in the leading of our families they must have our presence. If our families are going to have our presence, we must first seek to be in the presence of the Lord. Everything flows from that truth. If you aren’t walking with Jesus yourself, you can drop any hope that you might be leading your family into the presence of Jesus.
Everything flows from that truth. If you aren’t walking with Jesus yourself, you can drop any hope that you might be leading your family into the presence of Jesus.
The next layer to see is that you may be doing everything you can to lead your family on the path Jesus has for you. You faithfully work to provide. You consistently cast vision and direction of where your family is going. You instruct them in the Words of Scripture. You pray. You’re feeling good about yourself because your actions are saturated with Godward activity, BUT you’re not participating in the ministry of presence because all of your labor, vison-casting, instructing, praying… all of it is done with a mechanical, task oriented heart. There is zero relationship behind it. Everything is a list that must be completed.
Or some of us Men… we aren’t doing anything for our family spiritually outside of driving them to church. We have yet to give our presence enough to share the Gospel with our own children.
All of the work is being done just like the building of a house or the watching over a city… but if your presence isn’t there with your family, it won’t be impactful. Who cares if you buy your children a car, set up a college fund, and take your child to every extra-curricular activity their heart desires if they never have moments where they connect with you on a deep relational and spiritual level?
Enjoy your family. Recognize the blessing. Repent of seeing them as a primary source of frustration or a necessary obligation. See them as God’s children whom you’ve been given to steward and manage. See them as those whom you are to have a deep and relational commonality with.
- Laugh with them
- Cry on their shoulder and give yours
- Confess your failures
- Repent of your sins
- Hold them up emotionally
- Give authentic affection
I said it a few weeks ago—If your children are more familiar with hearing their full name yelled in anger than they are the Scriptures, we are unbalanced in our spiritual leadership.
I’ll take it a step further—If your children are more acquainted with rebuke than they are the forgiveness and hope available in the Gospel, we are unbalanced.
This is the Ministry of Presence
A Song of Ascents. Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. The Lord bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life! May you see your children’s children! Peace be upon Israel!
This is the hope of the man who leads his family well spiritually. What does so well is reminding us of the important responsibilities that rest of us if we are to partake of God’s blessing.
Fearing the Lord is traditionally defined by reverence and respect of God. Because the words reverence and respect have lost much of their power… I don’t think we would be wrong in saying that fearing the Lord is having a holy awe.
The point is this—God must not be trifled with. Fearing the Lord places Him at the center of everything we do. The starting point of every project, the strength we seek for every effort, the One we sincerely desire to please and honor.
He cannot be reduced to a spiritual theory of our mind. He is Lord. And therefore everything we participate in has His glory at the forefront of our mind.
The more this becomes our reality men… the more our family will be blessed and formed.
If we are to walk in God’s ways and teach our families to do the same, we: