READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l In this New Year, we start on the theme of discipleship in the family. What is the Biblical understanding of “family”? Two truths about the family from scripture are:
1.The church is a spiritual family – We are children of God (1 John 3:1); We are a family of believers (Gal. 6:10); We are members of God’s household (Eph. 2:19-20); We are all in this together (1 Cor. 12:26). Three qualities of a spiritual family are:
Inter-generational – the church is to be a place for all, regardless of age, status, or background. Our church is privileged to have a rich tradition and history. Beyond our individual and biological families, we witness church ministries where children, youth, adults participate in discipling and mentoring across ages, in growing, journeying and worshipping together.
Inclusive – the hallmark of the early church was the hospitality and acceptance shown. Within our church, there may be pockets of youth or others who may feel left out. Let’s create a safe space for all, investing in spiritual friendships.
Inviting – take the initiative to invite and welcome others. It is the Biblical mandate to do so.
2.The family is where discipleship takes place. The family is where we are molded into Christ-likeness. Whether within our families of origin or our nuclear family, there are six key discipleship mandates applicable to all of us: –
– Husbands and wives are to be united, physically and spiritually (Gen. 2:24; Mark 10:6-9)
– Parents are to nurture and guide their children (Deu. 6:6-9)
– Children are to obey and honour their parents (Eph. 6:1-3)
– Husbands are to love and lead (Eph. 5:23-29)
– Wives are to submit and help (Gen.2:18; Eph.5:22)
– Families are to serve (Jos.24:15)
The current realities are far from the Biblical ideals. Marriages are breaking up, children are leaving the faith, parents find it hard to disciple their children, and singles are struggling to care for their aged parents. But we must persevere and not give up, even if we are currently falling short.
In 2023, the church will be providing equipping sessions on parenting, teaching and conversing about sexuality, and giving CORDS-based health-check for marriages. Grasp these opportunities to grow and be transformed. The Word focus through the year is aligned with the theme of discipleship in the family. The first two months will focus on sacred marriages, spiritual parenting, honouring the generations, creating safe spaces, and embracing brokenness. During Lent, there will be a Sermon on the Mount series and the second half of the year will feature a sermon series on 1 Corinthians. Let us prepare to see revival in our families.
Call to commitment – “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). As we start the New Year, let us make a fresh commitment to the Lord. Three lessons from Joshua are:
Intentional Choice – even as we have experienced God’s faithfulness in the past, we re-commit ourselves to obey His mandate for our families and the church. Take the next step to be present for our parents, spouses, and children.
Present Obedience – don’t reply on past blessings, for only present obedience matters. Do not let past failures bind us. Even though our current situations may not meet God’s ideal for the family, we should not give up. Rather, surrender by giving in to God’s grace and His time and purposes.
Outstanding Commitment – Joshua was declaring on behalf of his clan that they would serve the Lord. He established what was right for his house. Even if his was the only household that would do so, they would serve the Lord.
Let us make the intentional choice to be disciples, as a church and within our families, to God’s honour and glory.
(Sermon notes by Angela Goh)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
- What are the two truths highlighted by the preacher about the biblical portrait of the “family”?
- If the church is a spiritual family, what are the three qualities about this family?
- In your view, how can the church family be more inclusive and inviting? You can reflect on this concerning your small group or ministry.
- What are some family discipleship mandates from the Bible that you wrestle with? What are some of the current challenges you can resonate with?
- Reflect on Joshua 24:14-15. How does Joshua’s spiritual posture inspire and encourage you?
- What is one intentional choice you can make about taking the next step in your family discipleship?
- Is there a past failure you struggle to let go of? Take time to release this to the Lord’s healing and redemptive purposes to be accomplished despite the failure. Share if you are comfortable and pray for each other.
- What does outstanding commitment mean for you in your discipleship in the church family or personal family? Share an example or two. Pray for one another.
Take a few moments to pray for revival of spiritual friendship and safe space in the church family; healing and breakthrough in relationships in individual families.