Sunday, September 03, 2006

Matt's Messages - Home Improvement

“Home Improvement”
September 3, 2006
Matthew 7:24-29

Today, we’re going to begin a new sermon series together that will take us up to Christmas, at least. We’re calling it “Home Improvement: Building Our Families on the Gospel.”

And this morning, I wanted to begin by explaining where this sermon series comes from and where we want to go with it.

This series is, in many ways, really the fruit of 11 years of pastoral ministry for me. Three years as a youth pastor in northern Illinois and now 8 years as your pastor here in central Pennsylvania.

I’ve seen what has happened and what is happening to the family, and I’ve been very concerned. Very concerned for the Christian family, for the families within our church, and very concerned for the families around us in our community and larger culture.

And I have wanted to say something about it.

All along, I have said a few things about the family as we’ve been studying through books of the Bible, whenever the family pops up. But this is the first full sermon series that I have done on the family itself.

Last year, about this time, I conceived of this series. Heather and I had been away, and as we were driving home, I asked her to write down some thoughts that I had about a possible series on the family. Here’s that little sheet.

I’m glad it’s in her handwriting or I wouldn’t know today what it said!

She made a list of desires that I have for our families to receive good biblical teaching on.

And over the last year, as I’ve been pondering this series, that list has grown.

In fact, the hardest part of preparing for this series has been to figure out what not to preach on. Because I could go on for months and months about my desires for the families in our church and community.

Dr. Dobson and Dennis Rainey are on the radio every day of the week helpfully covering some aspect of the family. There is so much to say.

And I’m not the expert that they are. I am just learning myself. I’ve been married for 12 years and have four kids, but they are all still very small, and I’m just learning myself how to do this family thing. I often still feel like a kid myself.

But I also feel like the Lord has said that it’s time for me to preach about the family.

As we go along, we’re going to suggest and provide lots of excellent resources on the topics that we cover: books, websites, CD’s, DVD’s, etc. All of the things that I have been eating up voraciously to prepare for this series and to help me to know what I’m supposed to do as a Christian husband, father, and family head.

And I hope that we get some of you to share some testimonies of what God has done and is doing in your families. If you’d like to share one, please talk with me about arranging that.

We’d love to hear your story.

And there is still plenty of time to turn in a survey with any questions that you are hoping that I might address during this series. We’re going to be doing Home Improvement for some time, and if I can I address your question on the family, I would like to. Some of them, I might answer privately, others will make it into the sermons, but I’d love to hear from you with any questions that you have.

There is no one book in the Bible on the family.

I sometimes wish that there was Paul’s Letter on the Family Book One and Book Two with all of my questions answered in one convenient place. “Turn to Second Family chapter 13.”

But in a real sense, the entire Bible is about the family.

In the first two chapters of the first book, Genesis, we are introduced to the first family: Adam and Eve. A beautiful, God-arranged marriage of two pristine people.

But then in chapter 3 of the Bible, sin entered into the picture and everything was messed up.

Shame, fear, and blame entered into the first family where there used to be only intimacy, innocence, and love.

The roles of the family were turned upside down. Instead of loving, sacrificial male leadership and loving, submissive, female support [like it was supposed to be], now we have so much conflict.

The family began its downward slide, not in the 1960's, but in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3.

And the rest of the Bible tells the story of the family’s restoration.

So, in some ways, the entire Bible is about the family. And the entire Bible can be applied to the family.

And I want to apply it to the whole family.

You may be worried because of your situation that these sermons will be boring to you.

You might still be a kid or you might not be married (yet, ever, or anymore) or you might not have small kids or you might not be married to a Christian.

But just as the entire Bible applies to the family, I think it will also apply to you.

And I’m planning specific messages on the duties of children, and spiritually single marriages (where one of the spouses is not a Christian), on singlehood itself as a gift from God and a unique part of the Christian family, and on being a Christian grandparent among other things.

So, don’t tune this out if you think it doesn’t apply to you right now.

If nothing else, use this as a training time for you for the future of your family or to give counsel to others who need to know what God says about the family, and as an opportunity to pray for families within our church and our community.

Here’s what I’m hoping will happen as result of our studying God’s Word together this Fall:

I’m hoping that Christian men will step up to the plate and take responsibility to lead their families with sacrificial love, exercising godly authority and initiative, and rejecting both dominance and passivity.

I’m hoping that marriages will be strengthened.

I’m hoping that marriages will be saved!

I’m hoping that our marriages will be a better picture of Christ and the Church before a watching world.

I’m hoping that “unequally yoked” marriages will be strengthened. That godly spouses will grow in their love for their unbelieving spouses and that many of them will be saved by watching the purity and reverence of their husband or wife.

I’m hoping that we’ll learn better how to relate to one another in our conflicts and that we’ll so fortify marriages that divorce will be the rare exception instead of the norm that it is in our culture.

I’m hoping that we better understand the roots of homosexuality and see why “homosexual marriage” is a dreadful oxymoron. And more than that, that we would see the hope for those trapped in homosexual lust and behavior–the hope held out in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I’m hoping that we will know afresh the value of children. Seeing children as the blessing that they are.

And grow in our ability to raise them in the way that they should go.

I’m hoping that Christian parents acquire greater skills and understanding in parenting their boys and girls. And raising boys to be godly, masculine, biblically defined manly men who lead. And raising girls to be godly, feminine, biblically defined women who fear God and no one else.

I’m hoping that we begin to value the teenage years as a season of opportunity for great gains in biblical manhood and womanhood and not assume that they will just be lost years of rebellion.

I’m hoping that we will recognize and appreciate singles in the Body of Christ like we never have before. And that our singles will be better equipped to face the unique challenges and opportunities that come with being single.

I’m hoping that our Grammas and Grandpas grow deeply in wisdom and are ready to help our families in ways that only those with maturity and experience can.

I’m hoping that family prayer and family worship will increase. That Dads (especially) and Moms, too, will lead their families in daily prayer and Bible study and worship–no matter how old the kids are.

And I’m hoping that our families will grow in their sense of God-ordained priorities and commitments (finances, relationships, how they use we time) so that the family is stronger than ever.

And I’m hoping that our families experience much grace and tender mercy from God during this sermon series.

That our families will be built, not on will-power or rule-keeping, but on grace and on the Gospel.

I’m hoping for Home Improvement: Building Our Families on the Gospel.

Now, does that sound good to you?

It sounds to me like a I’ve been giving my “I Have a Dream” speech!

I have so many desires for our families to be what God wants them to be.

That’s why I’ve suggested that our next ministry staff person be an associate pastor of Family Ministries.

But he, even if we had him now, couldn’t accomplish my dream.
I can’t accomplish my dream, no matter how hard I preach this Fall.
Even you can’t accomplish my dream for the family.

But God can.

God can do exceedingly, abundantly, more than I can ask or imagine if we ask Him to.

Let’s pray together and then consider God’s word.


Turn with me quickly to Matthew chapter 7, verse 24.

You’ve, no doubt, noticed all of the building materials and tools that are decorating our church for this new sermon series.

We’ve got hammer and nails, and saws and tape-measures and all kinds of things up here.

Right here I see two things that are unbelievably important for building a building.

Blueprints and foundation blocks.

Blueprints are the architect’s plans for how the house should be built. You better follow them or who knows what’ll happen.

And foundation blocks are what lies beneath the house to hold it up.

Both are very very important.

In Matthew chapter 7, verse 24, Jesus is finishing the most famous sermon in the world: the Sermon on the Mount.
He’s been giving an overview of what the Kingdom of God is all about.

And He ends with this familiar story that includes blueprints and foundation blocks. Verse 24.

“‘Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.’ When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.”

It’s a tale of two houses.

One built on rock. The same story in Luke says that the man dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock.

The other house was built on sand. Luke’s version says that the man didn’t even put down a foundation. He just built it wherever. And it happened to be on sand. “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” “Everybody else was doing it.”

Question. Which house encountered a storm?

It’s a trick question, isn’t it? Both did, didn’t they?

Both houses encountered a storm.

The same words are used in verse 25 and verse 27. “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house...” Both of them.

But the outcome was drastically different for the two houses, wasn’t it?

The house built on the rock “stood firm.” It did not fall.

The house built on the sand “fell with a great crash.”

The difference was in the foundations wasn’t it?

Jesus gives the point of this story in verse 24 and verse 26.

He says, “everyone [anyone] who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

“But everyone [anyone] who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.”

Now, this applies, first of all, to our individual lives. “Everyone who like this.” But it also applies to our families.

And notice what is really important to Jesus.

It’s in verse 24 and in verse 26.

“These words of mine...put into practice.”

He’s just finished His sermon on the Mount. And He says, if you put these words in to practice, you are laying a firm foundation.

If you don’t, you aren’t.

Let me put it this way for Home Improvement:


This Fall, I want to lay out for you what the Bible says about the family. Not my opinion, not my experience, not the world’s opinions, not the world’s ideas–those would be sandy foundations to build on.

I want to lay out for you what the Bible says about the family.

And that’s important.

But just as important is that we receive what the Bible says and put it into practice. To put it to work in our families.

We must build our families on the Master’s Plan.

He’s laid out a blueprint for us in His Word. And He’s told us how to build our families.

That has been ignored in our culture for the last 50 years and that is why we are experiencing so many family crashes.

The Lord has provided us with a blueprint, and He wants us to follow it.

He emphasizes (v.24), “these words of mine.”

And the crowds were amazed (v.28) with these words of his. They had authority like nothing they had ever seen or heard.

Jesus is the Master Architect. He knows better than we could ever know how to build our families. What the foundation should look like.

And, this Fall, we need to both hear those words and heed those words.

If we build our families on the Master’s Plan, will they experience storms?

Yes. They will. All families experience storms.

The rain will come down, the streams will rise, and the winds will blow and beat against our families.

But they will stand. Where it is most important, they will stand. And they will experience God’s blessing.

But if we ignore the Master’s Plan and build with whatever foundation we like, the storms will come, and we can expect disaster.


What kind of a heart will you come to church with over the next four months?

A heart ready to receive and build on the Master’s plan?

Or a heart that wants to just listen but not doing anything about it?

That will determine what kind of a family you build.

Everybody is building a family or is part of a family being built–even singles.

The question is not are you part of a family being built.

The question is what are you building on?

We need to build our families on the Master’s Plans.

His plans, His words, are actually the foundation of our homes.


If that’s your heart, then you are ready for Home Improvement.

You know, it might mean an Extreme Home Makeover.

If you’ve been building on the wrong foundation, it might take some extreme measures to make the changes necessary to get on the right footing.

Right now is a great time to prepare your heart to do whatever it takes to build your family on the Master’s Plan.

“Whatever you say, Lord, that’s what I’ll do with my family.” Whatever.

That’s the kind of heart that builds an indestructible home.

Perhaps, you’ve not only experienced some of the storms of life beating against your family, but you’ve also experienced some partial crashes.

You need to know that there is hope, too.

Because “these words of mine” in verse 24 and in verse 26 aren’t just rules or laws or principles or truths that we need to apply.

They are also words of grace and mercy and kindness and love that we need to apply.

Jesus’ words are gospel words.

The Master’s Plan is not just a to-do list.

It is the Gospel of a holy God who in love became perfect man to bear our blame, on the Cross He took our sin, by His death we live again.


Our Home Improvement this Fall is building our families on the Gospel.

There is grace, brother and sisters, for our families.

We are not doomed if we have built on some sand and want to change now.

There is grace!

I almost preached this morning on Hebrews 4:14-16. It says, “[W]e do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one [Jesus] who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin [and that makes Him both able to understand and sympathize and at the same time to save and restore our families!]. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

There is grace, brothers and sisters, for building and rebuilding[!] our families on the gospel.

These words of his (v.24 and v.26 of Matthew 7) are words of truth and words of grace.

Both need to be applied to our hearts.

The Master’s Plan is the best one for our families. He teaches with authority, not like the world.

And He also teaches with grace.

We need to build our families on the Master’s Plan.