So, this may be the first and last Family Friday. Next week, we may change Friday’s topic of focus, but for today, it’s about the family.Family is more than just the topic of a Sister Sledge song. Family is the primary institution created by God.  Let’s look at the definition of an institution (www.dictionary.com): an organization, establishment, foundation, society, or the like, devoted to the promotion of a particular cause or program, especially one of a public, educational, or charitable character.

God established the family as the primary organization through which the earth He created would be populated with people devoted to honoring and worshiping Him, for the cause of carrying out His divine plan.This is made clear in Genesis 1:28 with the first command given to man upon creation being “Be fertile, increase in number, fill the earth and be its master.” God’s Word Translation

The family is the primary vehicle used in God’s Kingdom Expansion Plan. How else can the kingdom be expanded unless the number of people in it increases? And how can the people learn about God’s plan if they aren’t taught? And where is the first place we are taught, both formally and informally? At home.

It’s been said ministry begins at home. While I am not sure I agree with this statement at face value (there’s that grammar snob creeping up), there are definitely examples in scripture where the institution of family upholds and promotes God’s plan.

Genesis 6:8 -10 Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord and so did his family, and as such they were all saved.Exodus 20:12 Honoring mother and father is the first commandment that comes with a promise attached.
Joshua 24:15 Joshua, a courageous leader, made it clear that he and his family would serve the Lord despite what those around him did.
Job 1 – Job was blameless and loved God, and as such his wife and children were also blessed.

Even God’s ultimate plan of salvation is delivered and promised through a specific family line, without which the plan could not have been fulfilled.Let’s not be fooled. I hear some of your thoughts regarding the dysfunctional nature of your own families or families you know, many of whom are Christians. Eli lost his position in the kingdom because of the dysfunction he allowed to take place with his sons. And that’s just the thing; God gave us instructions and we opt not to follow them. And then we want to place blame and cast judgement against God for allowing us to be disobedient; as if God did not give us free will to choose to act according to His word.

And how exactly is it that we should act? I’m glad you asked. Paul gives us rules for family living in both Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5. Solomon gives us parental instruction in Proverbs 22:6.

A wife must put her husband first. This is her duty as a follower of the Lord. A husband must love his wife and not abuse her. Children must always obey their parents. This pleases the Lord. Parents, don’t be hard on your children. If you are, they might give up.
Colossians 3:18-21 CEVHonor Christ and put others first. A wife should put her husband first, as she does the Lord. A husband is the head of his wife, as Christ is the head and the Savior of the church, which is his own body. Wives should always put their husbands first, as the church puts Christ first. A husband should love his wife as much as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it. He made the church holy by the power of his word, and he made it pure by washing it with water. Christ did this, so he would have a glorious and holy church, without faults or spots or wrinkles or any other flaws.

In the same way, a husband should love his wife as much as he loves himself. A husband who loves his wife shows he loves himself. None of us hate our own bodies. We provide for them and take good care of them, just as Christ does for the church, because we are each part of his body. As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother to get married, and he becomes like one person with his wife.” This is a great mystery, but I understand it to mean Christ and his church. So each husband should love his wife as much as he loves himself, and each wife should respect her husband.

Ephesians 5:21 -33 

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6 NKJV

I specifically choose the Contemporary English Version for the first two scriptures, so that we don’t allow ourselves to get hung up on the “s” word…and I’m not using potty language. That said, God instructs us to be fruitful and multiply. Multiplication requires intimacy. And what woman wants to be intimate with someone who always tears her down? By that same token, what man can love a woman whom he feels doesn’t respect him? And how can our children learn to love and respect us as parents if they don’t see us respect and love one another? As adults, we become discouraged to the point of quitting jobs, ministries, and relationships when we don’t feel valued or appreciated. How much more will our children be discouraged if we are always harsh with them? They don’t have the option to physically leave, and as such they mentally and emotionally shut down. And once they’ve shut down they aren’t hearing or learning the training we are instructed to instill. And how can we train them on that which we do not know or that which we do not practice? Ouch. We must study and learn God’s word so that we can teach them properly. This training is not just about manners, etiquette and social graces; and although that’s good training too, it alone doesn’t advance the kingdom.I have to thank my line sister, Shavon Arline, for the title of today’s blog. In the midst of a spiritual whipping she was laying on me, she used those words – God’s Kingdom Expansion Plan. And as I was recovering (from the beat down) and reflecting on the message God had for me it clicked. I hope it’s clicked for you too.