About sarhodes

I serve as the Pastor at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, Ohio. I am married to Meagan and we have been married since 2003. We have two children, Mercedes Grace and Abigail Elizabeth. Mercedes was born on September 1, 2011 and Abigail was born on December 4, 2013. I graduated in 2000 from Northmont High School in Clayton, Ohio (just northwest of Dayton). I graduated with a BA in pastoral studies from Cedarville University in 2006 and the an M.Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2010. I enjoy movies, especially action moves like Braveheart, the Patriot and Gladiator. I especially enjoy historical movies. I also enjoy documentaries. I enjoy reading: I love historical books, especially Revolutionary War biographies. I enjoy reading theological books as well. I enjoy spending time with Meagan, Mercedes and Abigail. I also enjoy fishing and watching football.

Coping with Discouragement (Psalms 42-43)

Coping with Discouragement (Psalms 42-43)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, October 9, 2022

Mark has worked two jobs most of his adult life just to make ends meet. He has three children and a wife who works in the home and has a part-time job outside the home. Recently Mark lost the higher paying of his two jobs. If that weren’t enough, their older son was suspended from school the same week, having drugs in his possession. Mark blames himself for not being at home enough.

Lila is a young woman who has been out of college and in the workforce for almost five years.

All her college friends are married, and she longs for a husband and family. This is all she has

ever dreamed of. She had a relationship for almost seven years with a Christian high school

sweetheart. She blames herself for the breakup, and wonders, What if? She sits at home most

nights alone in her tiny apartment. A married friend is worried sick about her and doesn’t

know how to help her.[1]

I received a question about how we are to respond to discouragement.

My theme today is:

We cope with discouragement by looking to God for help.

  1. Discouragement:
    1. The word discouragement comes from the root word courage. The prefix dis- means “the opposite of.”[2]
    1. Discouragement is the opposite of courage.
  2. Those discouraged need encouraged.
  3. Learn from the Psalmist:
    1. I believe the best place in Scripture in which we see an example of discouragement and a good response is Psalms 42 and 43.
    1. Psalms 42 and 43:

Psalm 42:title–43:5 (ESV)

Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?

42 To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.

   As a deer pants for flowing streams,

so pants my soul for you, O God.

   My soul thirsts for God,

for the living God.

     When shall I come and appear before God?

   My tears have been my food

day and night,

     while they say to me all the day long,

“Where is your God?”

   These things I remember,

as I pour out my soul:

     how I would go with the throng

and lead them in procession to the house of God

     with glad shouts and songs of praise,

a multitude keeping festival.

   Why are you cast down, O my soul,

and why are you in turmoil within me?

     Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,

my salvation and my God.

     My soul is cast down within me;

therefore I remember you

     from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,

from Mount Mizar.

   Deep calls to deep

at the roar of your waterfalls;

     all your breakers and your waves

have gone over me.

   By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,

and at night his song is with me,

a prayer to the God of my life.

   I say to God, my rock:

“Why have you forgotten me?

     Why do I go mourning

because of the oppression of the enemy?”

10   As with a deadly wound in my bones,

my adversaries taunt me,

     while they say to me all the day long,

“Where is your God?”

11   Why are you cast down, O my soul,

and why are you in turmoil within me?

     Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,

my salvation and my God.

Send Out Your Light and Your Truth

43 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause

against an ungodly people,

     from the deceitful and unjust man

deliver me!

   For you are the God in whom I take refuge;

why have you rejected me?

     Why do I go about mourning

because of the oppression of the enemy?

   Send out your light and your truth;

let them lead me;

     let them bring me to your holy hill

and to your dwelling!

   Then I will go to the altar of God,

to God my exceeding joy,

     and I will praise you with the lyre,

O God, my God.

   Why are you cast down, O my soul,

and why are you in turmoil within me?

     Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,

my salvation and my God.

  • Let’s talk about these Psalms and how the Psalmist responded to discouragement.
    • First, in Psalm 42 we see a longing expressed as thirst (verses 1-5).By the way, many think David wrote this, others think it is just the sons of Korah.Korah was a Levite who led a rebellion against Moses (Numbers 16:1-35). He was killed, but his descendants remained faithful to God and continued to serve God in the Temple. David appointed men from the clan of Korah to serve as choir leaders (1 Chronicles 6:31-38), and they continued to be Temple musicians for hundreds of years (2 Chronicles 20:18-19).So, here we are. The writer of the Psalm has faced some trials and seems to have been on the run.In the first 5 verses we see him longing for God.He compares his longing for God to being really thirsty.His tears have been his food, either literally or figuratively.He used to lead the procession to the temple.Regardless, he clings to hope in God. We see this in Psalm 42:5 and Psalm 43:5: Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.Next, we see his Longing expressed in discouragement (verses 6-11).What satisfies us during difficult times?Some people stress eat, but it seems like this Psalmist goes to God.Can we stand strong in our faith in difficult times?The Psalmist is talking to himself, there is a lesson there. Notice what he says is Psalm 42:11: Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.In Psalm 43:1-5 we see his longing expressed in prayer.The Psalmist responds in prayer.It is okay to talk honestly to God.Look at Psalm 43:1: Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me!Look at verse 2, the Psalmist trusts in God: For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?Yet, the Psalmist prays to the Lord about how he feels. He feels rejected.The Psalmist makes a request in verse 3.In verse 5, The Psalmist reminds himself again to hope in God. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
    • The Psalmist reminds himself where He gets his salvation.
  • Ways to cope
    • First, some applications:
      • We need to be like the Psalmist in Psalms 42 and 43 and look to God (Ps 42:5, 11; 43:5).We need to go to God like the Psalmist in Psalms 42 and 43.We need to talk to ourselves as it appears that the Psalmist did in Psalms 42 and 43.We need to remind ourselves that we can hope in God (Ps 42:5, 11; 43:5).We need to remind ourselves of truth.We need to use reason with ourselves.
        We must refocus ourselves.We need to long for God as we see the Psalmist do in Psalm 42.
      Further ways to cope:JournalPray with other believers (Prov 27:17; Ecc 4:9-12).Meditate on ScriptureMeditate on the promises of God. Remember Romans 8:28: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.Be realistic: Understand that discouragement is a part of life and often is a result of things or events that are out of our control. This does not mean that we are failures.[4]Give discouragement to God: When we have confidence in Him, we gain confidence in ourselves. God sees events before we do.[5]Rethink goals: maybe they need to change.Get rid of “What Ifs”: one writes: Stop considering what might have been. This type of thinking will only bring defeat.[6]
    • Don’t focus on feelings.

Chuck Swindoll writes:

Let me be downright practical and tell you what I do. First I remind myself early in the morning and on several occasions during the day, “God, You are at work, and You are in control. And, Lord God, You know this is happening. You were there at the beginning, and You will bring everything that occurs to a conclusion that results in Your greater glory in the end.” And then? Then (and only then!) I relax. From that point on, it really doesn’t matter all that much what happens. It is in God’s hands.

I love the story of the man who had fretted for fifteen years over his work. He had built his business from nothing into a rather sizable operation. In fact, he had a large plant that covered several acres. With growth and success, however, came ever-increasing demands. Each new day brought a whole new list of responsibilities. Weary of the worry, the stress, and the fear, he finally decided to give it all over to God. With a smile of quiet contentment, he prayed, “Lord God, the business is Yours. All the worry, the stress, and the fears I release to You and Your sovereign will. From this day forward, Lord, You own this business.” That night he went to bed earlier than he had since he started the business. Finally . . . peace.

In the middle of the night the shrill ring of the phone awoke the man. The caller, in a panicked voice, yelled, “Fire! The entire place is going up in smoke!” The man calmly dressed, got into his car and drove to the plant. With his hands in his pockets he stood there and watched, smiling slightly. One of his employees hurried to his side and said, “What in the world are you smiling about? How can you be so calm? Everything’s on fire!” The man answered, “Yesterday afternoon I gave this business to God. I told Him it was His. If He wants to burn it up, that’s His business.”[8]

I love that illustration. Many times we are discouraged because we hold things too tightly.

We must always surrender to God.

John Piper shares:

We must learn to fight despondency — the downcast spirit. The fight is a fight of faith in future grace. It is fought by preaching truth to ourselves about God and his promised future.

This is what the psalmist does in Psalm 42. The psalmist preaches to his troubled soul. He scolds himself and argues with himself. And his main argument is future grace: “Hope in God! Trust in what God will be for you in the future. A day of praise is coming. The presence of the Lord will be all the help you need. And he has promised to be with us forever.”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones believes this issue of preaching truth to ourselves about God’s future grace is all-important in overcoming spiritual depression. In his helpful book, Spiritual Depression, he writes,

Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. . . . Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says, “Self, listen for a moment. I will speak to you.” (20–21)

The battle against despondency is a battle to believe the promises of God. And that belief in God’s future grace comes by hearing the word. And so preaching to ourselves the word of God is at the heart of the battle.[9]


[1] Tim Clinton and Ron Hawkins, The Quick-Reference Guide to Biblical Counseling: Personal and Emotional Issues (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2009), 80.

[2] https://www.gotquestions.org/overcoming-discouragement.html

[3] Tim Clinton and Ron Hawkins, The Quick-Reference Guide to Biblical Counseling: Personal and Emotional Issues (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2009), 80–84.

[4] Tim Clinton and Ron Hawkins, The Quick-Reference Guide to Biblical Counseling: Personal and Emotional Issues (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2009), 82.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Swindoll, Charles R.. Laugh Again (pp. 40-41). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

[9] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/preach-to-yourself?utm_campaign=Daily%20Email&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=91588167&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9byegk5HCvwgLAcA6FSp13GQYIMBcxphqoImqihZFFHoLjZt3EoX1CrepJyrH5_c9VBgkCHbe-KSllVX1IQcmLPiWRUQ&utm_content=91588167&utm_source=hs_email

What is the Biblical View of Marriage (Gen. 2:24-25)

What is the Biblical View of Marriage (Gen. 2:24-25)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, October 2, 2022

A man one day went to the Super Bowl. He was sitting in a seat with an empty seat beside him. A gentleman who sat on the other side of him said, “Is that your seat? I see no one sitting there.” The man said, “Yes. My wife and I had tickets but she died, and none of my friends whom I invited could make it to the Super Bowl, so the seat is just empty.”

The gentleman was puzzled. “None of your friends could make it to the Super Bowl?” he asked.

The man said, “No, they couldn’t.”

The gentleman was still clueless as to how this man couldn’t find one friend who would love to be at the Super Bowl. “Boy, the biggest sports event in all history and they are missing it!”

The man didn’t skip a beat, “Yeah, they’re all at the funeral.”594[1]

We are in a sermon series discussing difficult times. Today’s sermon is not necessarily difficult times, but more of a general question. What is the Biblical View of Marriage (Gen. 2:24-25)? We live in a time in which marriage is threatened. We live in a time in which marriage is under attack. We live in a time in which marriage is no longer regarded as sacred.

Several years ago, I heard about one journalist who wrote that Christians will eventually condone same-sex marriage because look how they have gradually approved of divorce. However, where do we find the establishment of marriage? Today, I will show you that the establishment of marriage between one man and one woman goes back to Genesis chapter two

My theme today is:

God established, and Jesus affirmed, marriage between one man and one woman for one lifetime.

  1. God established marriage.
    • Let’s look at Gen 2:24-25: Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
    • In that text Adam was alone and God saw that that was not right. God created Eve from him and brought Eve to Adam.We can build many thing on marriage based off of this text.  
    • First, marriage is a covenant, not a contract.Biblical Counselor Brad Hambrick has written on marriage as a covenant.
    • A contract is: a common, legal document regulated by the state;
    • [A contract is] Based upon mistrust between two people;[A contract is] Written to create liability;
    • [A contract is]
    • Demanding joy through mutual benefit.Marriage is a covenant.
    • A covenant is:
    • [A covenant is] A sacred, moral agreement oversees by God;[A covenant is] Based upon trust between two people and God;
    • [A covenant is] Accepted to embrace unlimited responsibility;[A covenant is] Seeking joy through mutual sacrifice.[2]
    • Regarding marriage as a covenant Hambrick shares:
    • the seating arrangement [with families on each side] gives a portrait of God’s covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15. The Hebrew word for covenant, berith meaning “to cut,” is most clearly seen in this passage. God had Abraham cut several animals in half and make a lane between their carcasses. God passed down this lane to say, “So shall it be to me, if I don’t keep my word.”While gruesome, this image reminds us of a central theme of covenant relationships – death brings life. God kept his covenant with us. We broke covenant with God. But God accepted the consequences of covenant being broken – Jesus’ death on the cross – in order to restore relationship. As husband and wife pass through their families, they are also visualizing a death (leaving) that brings life (cleaving). Those in attendance instinctually understand the profound paradox as they experience the simultaneous emotions of sadness and joy.[3]
    • Hambrick brings out another aspect of the covenant: The bride, dressed in white, comes to meet her groom for the entire world to see. She is coming to have her name and identity changed. She is drawn by love. She is lovely in the eyes of her groom, and everyone in attendance sees her through the eyes of her beloved. Her eyes are fixed on his and no one else’s opinion matters. Love triumphs over any fear and any insecurity that might otherwise be present: covenant is giving love the power and beauty it was always intended to have. The white dress is a picture of the righteousness given to us by the Groom – Christ. We do not come to Christ in our own white garments but in His righteousness gifted to us. This is one of the most essential truths to remember in a marriage. When we begin to wear our own righteousness in marriage, shame will bring lying, insecurity will bring hiding, comparison will bring competing, and pride will bring judging.[4]
    • An important part of marriage a covenant is the father giving away the bride. Hambrick shares:“Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” asks the pastor. “Her mother and I do.” responds the father of the bride. This is more than just a way to change the arrangement of how people are standing at the altar. It is a picture of God’s design for marriage and demonstration of the four major commitments of the marriage covenant.Commitment One –
    • Receive: We must realize that our spouse is a gift.
    • Commitment Two – Leave: The bride and groom are severing the bond of primary allegiance and dependence with their parents to form that bond with each other. Here again, we see the primary image behind the Hebrew word for covenant, “to cut.”
    • Commitment three: cleave
    • Commitment four: become one flesh.[5]
    • The vows, the kiss, the pronouncement are all similar to a covenant ceremony, and Hambrick shares more about that in an article linked in my manuscript footnote. So, what makes a Christian marriage? Simply put: A man and woman are bound together in a covenant ceremony under God.
    • A little girl came to her grandmother and noticed that her grandmother’s ring was big and gaudy and ugly looking. She said, “Grandma, those rings back there when ya’ll got married were so big and heavy and gaudy looking.”Her grandmother replied, “Yeah, ’cause when I got my rings back in the day, they were made to last.”603[6]
    • Marriage is like a violin. After the music stops, the strings are still attached. A husband and wife are bound together as long as they live.606[7]
    • As stated God brings Eve to Adam, and there is a formal pronouncement. One source shares: The Hebrew word for “wife” is gender-specific; it cannot mean anything other than “a woman.” There is no passage in Scripture that mentions a marriage involving anything other than a man and a woman. It is impossible for a family to form or human reproduction to take place asexually. Since God ordained sex to only take place between a married couple, it follows that God’s design is for the family unit to be formed when a man and woman come together in a sexual relationship and have children. from this passage about God’s design for marriage is monogamy. The Hebrew words for “man” and “wife” are singular and do not allow for multiple wives. Even though some people in Scripture did have multiple wives, it is clear from the creation account that God’s design for marriage was one man and one woman. Jesus emphasized this principle when He appealed to the Genesis account to counter the idea of easy divorce (Matthew 19:4–6).
    • One source reads: In John chapter 2, Jesus attended a wedding ceremony. Jesus would not have attended such an event if He did not approve of what was occurring. Jesus’ attending a wedding ceremony by no means indicates that God requires a wedding ceremony, but it most definitely does indicate that a wedding ceremony is acceptable in God’s sight. Nearly every culture in the history of humanity has had some kind of formal wedding ceremony. In every culture there is an event, action, covenant, or proclamation that is recognized as declaring a man and woman to be married.[8]
    • Further: It is not biblical to consider a couple who have had sexual intercourse—but who have not observed any of the other aspects of a marriage covenant—to be married. Scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 7:2 indicate that sex before marriage is immorality. If sexual intercourse causes a couple to become married, it could not be considered immoral, as the couple would be considered married the moment they engaged in sexual intercourse. There is absolutely no biblical basis for an unmarried couple to have sex and then declare themselves to be married, thereby declaring all future sexual relations to be moral and God-honoring.
    • Christian marriage happens when a man and woman are bound together in a covenant ceremony under God.
  2. Jesus affirmed marriage
    • Look at Matthew 19:1-6: Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
    • So, Jesus is asked about divorce and what does Jesus do? He goes back to Genesis to re-state what it reads regarding the first marriage.
    • Some would say that Jesus does not address homosexuality, but He clearly does. In this passage, He re-affirms marriage as one man and one woman.  
  3. Applications:
    • Marriage is a covenant under God, which means it is sacred and moral. We must view marriage as sacred.
    • Marriage ought to be officiated in front of God’s people and they are the witnesses of the covenant.
    • I believe that since marriage is a covenant the marriage ceremony belongs in the church in front of the church. I would go as far as to say it should be part of a worship service. We have baptisms, communion, and baby dedications in front of the church. Why not the marriage ceremony? This is not to say that I would not officiate your wedding in Hawaii, rather I think it is fitting to have the wedding in front of the church.
    • Marriage was set up by God in Gen. 2:24-25 and cannot be changed. We did not invent it, and we cannot change it.
    • Marriage was setup by God with one man and one woman. It cannot be two of the same sex or multiple partners.
    • Jesus re-affirmed the establishment of marriage in Matthew 19:5 and Mark 10:7-8, and this shows the importance of marriage.
    • Marriage was established as one man with one woman for life.
    • As a covenant this means that the joy in marriage comes through mutual sacrifice, NOT mutual benefit.
    • As a covenant marriage is based on trust between two people and God, not mistrust between two people.
    • We cannot live in marriage the way God intends except by being connected to the Vine, living with Jesus (John 15).

Simply put: A man and woman are bound together in a covenant ceremony under God.

Four-year-old Suzie had just been told the story of “Snow White” for the first time in her life. She could hardly wait to get home from nursery school to tell her mommy. With wide-eyed excitement, she retold the fairy tale to her mother that afternoon. After relating how Prince Charming had arrived on his beautiful white horse and kissed Snow White back to life, Suzie asked loudly:

“And do you know what happened then?”

“Yes,” said her mom, “they lived happily ever after.”

“No,” responded Suzie, with a frown, “… they got married.”

—Cecil Osborne, The Art of Understanding Your Mate[9]

Well, too often marriage is not how God intended it to be; however, I do believe through a life of self-sacrifice towards one another, and a covenant between a husband and wife God calls marriage to be a happy partnership. It is for me. However, the only way to live self-sacrificially in marriage is by staying close to Jesus and living His Kingdom way.


[1] Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 200–201.

[2] https://bradhambrick.com/gcmfoundations3a/

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid

[6] Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 203.

[7] Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 203.

[8] Got Questions Ministries, Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2002–2013).

[9] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 362.

Christ-Centered Parenting (Eph 6:1-4; Deut 6)

Recently, I was listening to Dr. Rydelnic on Moody Radio. He shared the following about discipline between him and his son:
When my son was in high school, I’d wake him every morning and he’d hop out of bed and we’d lift weights for about 10 minutes. Afterwards, he’d shower while I made coffee. Then, he’d dress and join me in the kitchen while we read the Bible together for about 15 minutes. This wasn’t about correcting him. No, this daily discipline was instructional.[1] 

Dr. Rydelnic was modeling a key part of Christ-centered parenting, and that is that we talk about the scriptures with our children. However, he was also modeling another key part of Christ-centered parenting, and that is relationships. He focused on a relationship with his son. He spent time with him.

I am in a sermon series dealing with the questions that you have. Most of the questions are regarding difficult times. This one may, or may not, have to do with difficult times. The question today was about Christ-centered parenting. I struggled thinking about what direction to take this message. The reason being is that I did not want to repeat a sermon to you. However, my sermon from April 29, 2018, was regarding the text that answers this question. That sermon introduced my series on scriptures that I have been convicted to pray for my children. Today, I will begin with the text from that sermon, Deuteronomy 6:1-9 and then bring in some new ideas.

Today, I want to make the case to you that as parents, we must keep Christ in the center of everything.  

This is true for Christians in general, not just parents.

By the way: Many of you are grandparents. In that case, model this for your grandchildren.

  1. Keep Jesus in the center of your conversations.
    1. Deut 6:1-9: Deuteronomy 6:1–9 (ESV) “Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
    2. Notice that in verses 1-3 we see the repeated emphasis on parents teaching their children spiritually.
    3. Moses is passing on the commandments, statutes, and judgments to them.
    4. Moses says that the Lord has commanded him to teach them.
    5. Moses was commanded to teach them so that they might do them in the land where they are going to possess.
    6. Right now, most of Israel is younger than 60 years old. This is because everyone who was 20 and older has died off in the wilderness. Three people could keep living: Moses, Joshua, and Caleb. We see this in Numbers 14:20-38. They were sentenced to die in the wilderness because of their lack of faith that Israel could take the land.
    7. It has been 40 years of the people wandering around the wilderness. But it is time to go in and take the land.
    8. However, Moses is giving instructions.
    9. Deuteronomy is a sermon, or a series of sermons, given by Moses to the people before they enter the land.
    10. In verse 2, we see a purpose. Moses is to teach the people so that they will obey, and this includes their sons and grandsons.
    11. Verse 3 is urging them to listen and obey.
    12. I notice a repetition in these first three verses that if they listen and obey, they will multiply and live long on the earth.
    13. Israel’s life in the promised land is contingent on their obedience to God.
    14. In verse 4-5 we see the Shema.
    15. Shema is the Hebrew word for “hear.”
    16. Notice first the simple statement “The Lord is One.”
    17. This may seem basic to us, but not to them. Think about it, most societies in that day and age were polytheistic. They believed in many Gods. But this is saying that there is one God, and He is the Lord. Notice the repetition: The Lord is our God. This is the Lord. This “Yahweh” is our God. This is the unique name for the Lord as opposed to “Elohim” which is translated “God” the second time.  
    18. Theology matters.
    19. Then we have three words to describe our love for the Lord. They are nouns: “heart,” “soul,” and “might.”
    20. This means we love the Lord with all our being.
    21. They did not have a word for the brain at that point so they would use the word for heart. Jesus would quote this and include “mind.” We see Jesus quote this in Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30, and Luke 10:27.
    22. As an interesting note, the only individual in the Old Testament—of whom it was said that he turned to the Lord with all his heart, soul, and might—was King Josiah (2 Kings 23:25).
    23. In verses 6-9 we see the idea of taking every opportune time to talk about the Word.
    24. Verse 6 says that these words should be on our heart.
    25. What words, the words of Deuteronomy, Moses’ sermon, but we could apply it to all the Bible.
    26. Verse 7 tells us to teach them diligently to our sons.
    27. In Hebrew we have one word that the NASB translates as “teach” and “diligently.” This word carries the idea of engraving. As we recite something over and over again it is like it is engraved on our heart.
    28. Pastor, author, and Theologian J.D. Greear writes that many parents talk about their teenage or adult children wandering away from the Lord. They will talk about how they would bring them to church. But he would ask about the family life. This next generation has a hypocrite meter on them.
    29. One wites: “The reason for this emphasis on the children is clear. Deuteronomy is always aimed at the next generation. It takes the present (next) generation back to the past and brings the past afresh into the present. The children are now the ones before whom all the choices are laid, and some day their children will be there and the divine instruction will confront them (e.g., 30:2). Can they learn afresh what it means to love the Lord wholeheartedly?” (Dr. Contable, soniclight.com)
  2. Keep Jesus in the center of your planning.
    1. This includes spiritual disciplines as well as your church community.
    2. We must have individual and corporate spiritual disciplines.
    3. Individual spiritual disciplines are your own daily devotions, prayer time, scripture reading, and meditating time.
    4. Corporate spiritual disciplines are spiritual activities with the body of Christ: Sunday School, small groups, Wednesday night Bible study, youth group, worship services, and etc.
    5. When you plan as a family, are you factoring in your church community?
    6. Or, do you plan everything else, and the church gets the leftover time?
    7. Mercedes soccer coach sent out a text. It said something like, “make sure that your daughter is practicing at home, this is the age when girls really begin to learn skills.”
    8. Mercedes soccer coach sent another text and it said something like: “make sure that your child is attending the practices.”
    9. What is true of sports is all the truer of the church. If you desire your children to walk with the Lord, you must commit to the church with them. They must be at Friends Club, they must be at youth group, they must be at Sunday school, they must be at the worship service of the church.
    10. Further, what happens at the church must extend to the home. It must go both ways. They cannot hear you mock God at home and then bring them to church. No, Jesus must be the center.
    11. Several years ago, I heard about a parent who was babysitting her grandchildren for the week. Her son had left her and her husband specific instructions to practice a sport with the kids each day. That is good, nothing wrong with that, but do we do that with our commitment to Christ? If someone babysits our children for several days, do we expect certain prayer times, worship times, Bible study times, church commitments, etc?
    12. Keeping Christ at the center of our planning means that we think about church when we schedule. We think about spiritual disciplines when we schedule.
    13. We have family devotions.
    14. We have family conversations about God.
    15. We pray as a family.
    16. We sing a worship song as a family.
    17. We must keep Christ at the center.
    18. Keep Christ at the center of our conversation.
    19. Keep Christ at the center of our planning.
  3. Keeping Jesus at the center means practicing simplicity.
    1. We make ourselves and our families so busy.
    2. Simplicity means that we recognize our limits.
    3. In Emotional Healthy Spirituality, Scazzero writes: The primary issue here is to remove distractions and remain free from attachments. “Live as free of complications as possible [so] you’re free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master” (1 Corinthians 7:32 MSG). For this reason our children were not in three sports at one time while learning violin. We are careful to not buy every new electronic or technological item to help us save time. Instead of having five credit cards, we have one. Instead of cooking elaborate meals and having a house that is always perfectly clean, we have made choices to let that go. We are no longer involved in fifteen projects at the same time in our service for Christ. We do less, but do it better than before. We also got rid of our cable a number of years ago and opted for a DVD player instead.[2]
    4. The longer I live the more I am convicted of this idea of simplicity.
    5. We have to cut some things out so that we can prioritize God in our family.
    6. We cannot have it all.
    7. We must understand that.
    8. Create a family mission statement and stick to it.
  4. Apply and summarize:
    1. So, keep Christ at the center of your conversations.
    2. As I look at that Deuteronomy 6:1-9 passage, it seems that the Hebrew people were supposed to be talking about God everywhere they go.
    3. We ought to have devotions with our children and our grandchildren.
    4. We ought to sing songs of praise as a family.
    5. We ought to prioritize church as a family.
    6. BUT more than that, we must have constant spiritual conversations.
    7. There is a well-known author and his son turned on the faith. He became an exvangelical, an ex-evangelical. More than that he started making tik-tok videos against Christianity. One person wrote that those videos made him respect this author more. That is because this person would be at locations and talk about how his father taught him Bible themes and Christian teaching while driving by this location or things like that. Basically, that shows that this author was always talking about God. Everywhere he went, he was talking with his children about God.
    8. We must keep Christ at the center of our conversations.
    9. We must keep Christ at the center of our planning.
    10. To do this we must practice simplicity. We cannot have it all.

There could be much more to share about Christ-centered parenting. There are household codes in the New Testament, but I think the passage in Deuteronomy 6 is more powerful.

Keep Christ at the center.

When Sunday School started in the late 18th century there was a concern that parents were no longer going to educate children in the Word at home. There was a concern that parents were going to leave it to the church. I remember being a small child reading Little House books and Sunday afternoons Pa read the Bible to the children.

Who’s job is it to disciple the children?

4-14 window: There is a statistic that says if a person is to receive Christ, it is most likely to happen between 4 and 14 years old. Also, children have their values set by around 9 years old. Most by around 5 years old.

So, let’s keep Christ at the center.

Many of you are grandparents. In that case model this for your grandchildren.


[1] https://www.michaelrydelnik.org/gods-purposes-for-the-wilderness-to-discipline-us-4-remix/

[2] Scazzero, Peter. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (p. 199). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.