How do you get your whole family on page with worshipping God? Today AMBrewster uses the example of two Old Testament kings to illustrate how Christian parents and their kids can consistently and genuinely worship God.
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Hey there, today we’re finishing up our Family Worship series and getting close to wrapping up Season 7. If you haven’t heard the other episodes in this series, I would stop right here and start with episode 191.
But if you’re going to stick around, I want you to know that because of your awesome support and downloading and sharing, TLP is the number one iTunes podcast for Christian parents.
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Okay, let’s talk about how we can have Unified Family Worship.
Let’s do a quick review.
During part 1 we defined Worship and we learned that when we talk about Family Worship we’re talking about the average time that you and your spouse and your kids spend worshipping God or worshipping self.
If the majority of time is spent worshipping self, then we call that Failed Worship, and we talked all about that in part 2.
Last time we talked about Split Worship. That occurs when some of the people in the family are worshipping God, but the others aren’t.
And today we’re going to discuss Unified Family Worship. Lord willing, we’re not just going to define it and see the blessings of it, we’re also going to talk about how to make it a reality in your family.
And we’re framed this entire study by looking at a number of Old Testament kings.
Throughout the books of I and II Kings and I and II Chronicles, God summed up the success of many of their reigns by pointing out how they responded to the High Places.
There were kings who worshipped themselves at the High Places, and their were kings who refused to do that, but they did allow Failed Worship to continue among the people.
But throughout the approximately 500 years worth of kings — both in the Northern and Southern Kingdoms — only two refused to sacrifice at the High Places and did everything they could to annihilate High Places from the kingdom.
Only Hezekiah (II Kings 18:3-4) and Josiah (II Kings 23:4-15) had the courage to destroy the high places in the land of Judah.
This is what God has to say about Josiah in II Kings 23:4-20, “And [Josiah] commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second order and the keepers of the threshold to bring out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron and carried their ashes to Bethel. And he deposed the priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to make offerings in the high places at the cities of Judah and around Jerusalem; those also who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and the moon and the constellations and all the host of the heavens. And he brought out the Asherah from the house of the Lord, outside Jerusalem, to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron and beat it to dust and cast the dust of it upon the graves of the common people. And he broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes who were in the house of the Lord, where the women wove hangings for the Asherah. And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had made offerings, from Geba to Beersheba. And he broke down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on one's left at the gate of the city. However, the priests of the high places did not come up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but they ate unleavened bread among their brothers. And he defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no one might burn his son or his daughter as an offering to Molech. And he removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance to the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the chamberlain, which was in the precincts. And he burned the chariots of the sun with fire. And the altars on the roof of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars that Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the Lord, he pulled down and broke in pieces and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron. And the king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, to the south of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And he broke in pieces the pillars and cut down the Asherim and filled their places with the bones of men. Moreover, the altar at Bethel, the high place erected by Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, that altar with the high place he pulled down and burned, reducing it to dust. He also burned the Asherah. And as Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mount. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar and defiled it, according to the word of the Lord that the man of God proclaimed, who had predicted these things. Then he said, “What is that monument that I see?” And the men of the city told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted these things that you have done against the altar at Bethel.” And he said, “Let him be; let no man move his bones.” So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came out of Samaria. And Josiah removed all the shrines also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which kings of Israel had made, provoking the Lord to anger. He did to them according to all that he had done at Bethel. And he sacrificed all the priests of the high places who were there, on the altars, and burned human bones on them. Then he returned to Jerusalem.”
Now, I read that entire passage for many reasons, but I’m going to talk about it inmate detail in a moment.
Let’s first consider Hezekiah.
II Kings 18:1-7 says, “In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done. He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it. He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses. And the Lord was with him; wherever he went out, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and would not serve him.”
And II Chronicles 31:20-21 says of him, “Thus Hezekiah did . . . what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered.”
Before we talk about the practical applications of these passages for your family, I also want to point out two really cool things that God did for these kings.
Now, keep in mind that of the approximately 40 kings of Israel, these were the only two who wiped pagan rituals from the land.
So, it should make all the sense in the world to hear that — other than King David himself — these two kings were the only ones who brought major revivals to the land of Judah.
Now, I realize that the idea that everything rises and falls on leadership can be biblically dissected, but I hope you see the correlation.
When kings sacrificed at the High Places, the people followed right along, and the nation failed to glorify God.
When kings refused to participate, but allowed the people to continue their self worship, the nation failed to glorify God.
But when the kings set the example and did everything they could to annihilate self-worship in the form of High Places, God used them to light the fires of revival among the people!
Not only that, but Isaiah 37:36 tells us of an amazing miracle the Lord did specifically for Hezekiah and his people. It reads, “And the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.”
Let me set the stage:
And that evening the Angel of the Lord, the preincarnate Christ Himself killed 185,000 Assyrians.
I’ve encountered may people in my life and ministry who bemoan not seeing miracles in their day. They read accounts like this from Scripture and they hear about preachers of old who would give their last loaf of bread to someone in need and — later that day — a bread truck would break down outside his house and offer him the bread. They hear stories of pagan warlords who wanted to kill missionaries, but who stopped because they missionaries’ camp was surrounded with hundreds of soldiers in shining armor. Of course, the missionaries knew nothing about their angelic army.
And these people whine about the fact that God doesn’t work like that in their lives.
Well, here’s the question I pose to them: did you give away your last loaf of bread? Did you sacrifice your comfortable life to take the good news to people living in third world countries? Did you destroy the High Places and dedicate your whole life to the Lord?
I don’t say that to shame them. I say it to point out the fact that we so often want God to do amazing things for us when we’re not prepared to do average things for Him.
These kings did above average things because they understood the fact that they served an amazing God. And God blessed them by sending revival to their country and miracles in their land.
Both of the passages we read earlier said that God caused Josiah and Hezekiah to prosper because of their allegiance to Him.
Now, before we get super practical, I need to ask . . . what about you?
Are you worshipping at the High Places?
Are you living your life with very little though to God? Do you do what you do for the comfort or the satisfaction or the benefit you think you’ll receive? Do you bathe your life choices in prayer and search God’s Word for His direction?
You cannot accidentally glorify God. Your life — your worship (because you need to remember that everything you do shows what you worship) — your life needs to be lived in God’s way for God’s reasons in His power to be true, genuine worship.
You need to start with your own High Places. Dig deep; ask yourself the hard questions. Why do you do what you do?
Don’t let yourself off the hook. Be man and woman enough to get wise counsel. Let people shine God’s Truth into your life and be humble enough to admit where it doesn’t line up.
But, let’s say that you are living your life — for the most part — in accordance to God’s Word. You’re doing the right things in the right ways for the right reasons in the right power. Great!
But if you’re tolerating the High Places still standing in your family’s heart, I believe you’re falling short.
This may very well be why you’re not seeing revival in your family. This may be why you’re not seeing the hand of God at work in your house.
So, maybe you’re in that position. Maybe you’re trying to premeditatedly glorify God in your life, but you’ve noticed that your Family Worship is Split Worship — maybe it’s your kids or your spouse who’s worshipping themselves more than God.
What do you do?
Here we go:
1. You need to actively keep the High Places of self-worship from creeping back up in your life. You need to be vigilant.
I Peter 5:8, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
The moment we stop mowing the lawn, the weeds grow. The same is true for our spiritual lives. We need to on a moment-by-moment basis actively follow Christ.
2. Like I’ve said time and time again, no one can worship God who doesn’t have a relationship with Him.
Our first responsibility to our kids is to be an Evangelist Parent. Nothing is more important than helping your child to know they have a genuine relationship with God.
And that’s a specific application of our goal to be Ambassadors of God in our families by fulfilling the two prong task of Educating your family about God and Interpreting life for them when they ignore God’s Truth and live in a delusion.
And you do that time and time and time again until God does the work in their heart necessary for them to submit to and choose to follow Him.
3. If your family profess to be born again and appears to be double-minded — they vacillate between worshipping God and worshipping self — then I encourage you to follow the example of Hezekiah and Josiah.
Now, last time I acknowledge that removing the actual High Places in Jerusalem is a very different task than removing the self-worship from another person’s heart.
In fact, the latter can’t be done. Even though Josiah destroyed and desecrated the High Places, he didn’t have any power to change the heart of the people, and yet God used his actions to bring revival.
So, what do we do?
Have any of you wondered why I chose the cover art I did for this series?
It’s a picture of a man and a wife holding up a very large bowl of vegetables. We considered many images of modern worship, but they all missed the mark.
However, this image perfectly illustrated our purpose with this series. Each member of the family must lovingly assist the other members to worship God with their lives. They can’t do it for them, but they can help them.
So, let’s pull some principles from the passages we read earlier to see how we can best help our family truly worship God with their lives.
1. Figure out where in your house God is not allowed, then invite Him in.
We did a whole episode about this concept. You can listen to it on episode 125 as a follow up to today’s study.
The basic question addressed in that show was “Is there anywhere in your home that God isn’t talked about, prayed to, or actively worshipped?” If there are any areas like that, then you know there are some High Places in your home — places where self is worshipped instead of God.
When it comes time to address these Godless corners of your home and life . . .
2. Make the issue about loving God not about a list of do’s and don’ts.
In II Chronicles 31:21 we read that Hezekiah “undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart.”
I love the personal pronoun there. God was “his” God.
Rarely do you have a romantic relationship built on a list of do’s and don’ts. Usually, the care we have for one another keeps us from wanting to hurt the person we love.
If my wife is allergic to certain flowers, I’m not going to pick those flowers for her because I love her, not because she laid down an edict that I shalt not get her those flowers.
Now, it’s true that God has written out His law, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that our obedience of the law is going to be rooted in our love for God, not mere adherence to a list.
And when we make a big deal of God, His person, His love, His power, His awesomeness, then it makes it easy to do number three.
3. Hate sin, but keep the commandments of the Lord.
Like I alluded to on the last point, when we see our need and His grace, we will desire to serve Him.
I have a friend who would often pray, “Dear God, help us to hate sin and love you more.”
The two go hand in hand.
We just finished a series about the ten things parents should hate. Our kids need to understand those truths and see it lived out in our lives, but it can’t simply be about taking a stand against sin, it must be beautifully complimented by our love of righteousness.
This devotion to God and detestation for evil must then motivate the next point.
4. Remove the negative influences, but celebrate the things that glorify God.
If you want to help your children tear down the High Places in their lives, you need to start with the obvious, external areas.
What items, belongings, activities, schedules, and the like are providing your children an easy excuse to worship self?
This can be anything from the sport they sacrifice to themselves, their entertainment system, their bedrooms, their music, or their toys.
And you probably noticed that nothing I mentioned was inherently sinful. We all know we need to remove the drug paraphernalia and liquor and wicked music and pornography, but what about the otherwise good things?
Do you remember the II Kings 18 passage? Way back during the Exodus, God commanded Moses to make a Brazen Serpent that would be used to heal the people from the snake bites they received after they sinned against God.
Well, it seems the Jews held onto that keepsake. I know I would have.
But the problem was that they’d started worshipping themselves by sacrificing to the Serpent! That’s why Hezekia “broke [it] in pieces, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it.”
The unfortunate reality is that we’re all prone to taking the good things in this life and using them to glorify ourselves instead of God.
So, as you work to help your family tear down their High Places, you’re going to have to acknowledge that even “good” things can be used in a sinful way, and you’re going to have to ask the hard questions and investigate closely to keep your kids accountable.
But — again — I think too often we spend all of our time taking things away from our kids instead of giving them good things.
We need to make an even bigger deal about the things that glorify God!
Celebrate church. Encourage righteous living. Teach your kids how to use their possessions to actively worship God instead of self.
Many people default to self-worship — in part — because they don’t know any other way.
And lastly, not only do you have to remove the negative influences . . .
5. Remove the negative influencers, but celebrate the people that glorify God.
Josiah not only deposed and executed the false priests, but he first surrounded himself with the priests and keepers of the threshold and soldiers that wanted to do right.
It was with the combined might of these followers of God that they were able to stand up against the many people who sacrificed at the High Places.
But it’s also important to note that Hezekiah rebelled against the king of Assyria. Now, I don’t know what the king of Assyria wanted from him, but whatever it was, God was pleased that he rebelled.
Civil disobedience is completely appropriate when you’re disobeying a sinful law. We must obey God rather than men.
I think more Christian families need to make a bigger deal out of appropriate disobedience.
We don’t have to obey the scientists who tell us God doesn’t exist. We don’t have to listen to the culture that tells us it’s okay to celebrate sin. We don’t have to obey people who encourage us to disobey our parents.
We need to remove all of the negative influencers from our kids lives — as much as possible. We have to acknowledge that they are going to have negative influences in their live simply because they live in our home, but that doesn’t give us an excuse to allow relationships that are damaging.
I have a few other episodes to which you can listen that builds on this concept. The first is episode 42, “The Most Potentially Destructive Influence in the Life of Your Child.” Then we have episodes 23 and 24 about how the world uses its music to teach our kids to sin. And episode 14 talks about the most destructive content in our movies.
But we also have a series all about friends which starts in episode 164.
But one more thing I want to observe before we finish up is that we need to take a stand against negative influencers even if they’re famous. And I’m not talking about the ones who are obviously evil. We need to take a stand against sin no matter if it comes from an atheist or our favorite Christian speaker.
Consider what Josiah did. I Kings 23 mentions a number of shrines he tore down, but many of them had the names of kings attached to them. Josiah didn’t care about removing something that a former king had erected because it didn’t please the King of Kings.
But please note that even Solomon was on that list. “And [Josiah] defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, to the south of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had built.”
Of course, we need to not only remove the negative influencers, we need to help our families thrive in a community of positive influencers.
Now, please understand, I’m not suggesting that your kids never interact with unsaved people. I plan to do a future episode all about how you can turn a former influencer into someone to be influenced. That’s the kind of relationship our kids should have with unbelievers.
But the problem is that too many of them are more followers than leaders.
Remember, I’m not talking about breaking contact with just anyone who sins or who is a negative influence. I’m talking about breaking contact with people who are actually influencing your children for evil — people by whom your children are happy to be influenced.
Thanks for sticking with me. I knew this episode would be longer as we finalize our thoughts of Family Worship.
But before we go I want to do a quick review of today’s content and then add a new closing thought.
But before I do that, please share this episode and download the episode notes.
And be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss our next episode, “God’s Cure for Family Strife.”
So, do you want to help your family tear down the High Places in their lives — the places they sacrifice to self instead of to God?
These steps should create an atmosphere that God can bless and in which God can start a revival.
And lastly, consider some of the final comments concerning Hezekiah in Kings: “He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him.”
I think most of us consider David to be the greatest king of Israel, but that’s not what God thought. And then the verse continues . . .
“For [Hezekiah] held fast to the Lord. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses. And the Lord was with him; wherever he went out, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and would not serve him.”
There you have it. Do you want to be a parent who God can use to establish true Family Worship? Trust the Lord, hold fast to Him, do not depart from following Him, keep His commandments, and feel free to rebel from sin.
And then trust God to prosper you and your family.
To that end, I’ll see you next time.
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