The Family of God

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Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1a)

Introduction

There is a song with the words, "I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God." This song is a reminder that as children of God we belong together as a family. Our local church can be like family to us.

1 What is the "Family of God?"

God wants His children to be a part of the "family of God." In one sense, every person is a "child of God" because God created all people. But sin has separated people from their Heavenly Father. Sin makes them children of Satan. God provided the way for us to be forgiven by sending His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to be born into this world and to die on the cross, taking our place for the suffering we deserve for our sins. We must accept His death for us personally, by faith. We must repent of our sins, ask God to forgive us of our sins. When we do that, we are "born again" through the Spirit of God. We are adopted into the family of God and become His children in a special way. In the Gospel of John 3, we can read how Jesus explained about being "born again" to a grown man named Nicodemus. Even though Nicodemus was a religious leader, he did not know God personally. He needed to be born of the Spirit.

1 John 3:1-3 says "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."

Romans 8:15 says "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.'"

So, to become a part of the "Family of God" we must accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.

Have you accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour? Do you know ABOUT Him but not know Him personally? There is no time like the present to ask Him to forgive your sins and to accept you into His family.

Sometimes when you say to people that they can ask God to forgive them, they say, "oh, that's ok for you, you're a 'religious sort,' but, I was never brought up that way." It doesn't matter what our background has been. God loves us because He made us and He loved us so much He sent His one and only Son to die in our place for us. Forgiveness is a free gift He offers to us. It is not something we can earn by doing good things. It is a gift to be accepted.

We met a lovely young couple recently who had been drug dealers before they became Christians. Their lives were a mess, but God forgave them. You would find it hard to believe that they had a past like that. I don't know all the circumstances of how they came to the Lord, but I do know that they went to church one day and sensed the love of the people towards them and they were drawn to God because of that. They were drawn by the love of the family of God.

We watched a video here a few months ago about "Mr. Eternity." This man, Arthur Stace described his life. He said as a child he never slept IN a house, but UNDER a house. He found his food by stealing bread, milk and fruit. Later, he worked as a lookout for his sisters who worked as prostitutes. He was an alcoholic, even going so far as to drinking metho. But at age 45 he was drawn by the love of God to a men's prayer meeting in Sydney and gave his life to Christ. He spent the next nearly 36 years writing the word "Eternity" in chalk on the footpaths around Sydney and further out. Many people were drawn to think about God through that one word that appeared on footpaths he had been to during the early hours of the morning.

God can change the life of anyone who will call out to Him.

2 Why do we need a spiritual family?

Perhaps the best way to explain this is to ask "Why do we need a physical family?"

We need a family for:

  1. Nourishment
  2. Love and protection
  3. Sense of Belonging
  4. Purpose for living

3 Why do we need to be a part of a spiritual family?

A Nourishment

Just as we need physical food and water, we need spiritual "food." Our souls need to be nourished by God's Word, through prayer and through encouragement from others in the family of God. We need to be a part of a local church of people who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour. We need our souls nourished by hearing the Bible preached, by prayer and Bible study together and by hearing how God is helping others in their lives. We need to witness answered prayer.

B Love and protection

We are told in 1 Peter 5:8 that "our adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." The next verses go on to say "Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you..."

We need to know that our fellow Christians also face temptation and we need their concern and prayers and also need to hear how God has helped them. We need to be reminded that if God helped them, He can also help us. We need to know there are others praying for us.

C Sense of belonging

One of the very first things that is done when a baby is born is to write his name and put it on his wrist or ankle, or both. (When our grandson was born recently, they put a little stick-on tag on his back until they could quickly write his name onto the wrist and ankle bands). We fear being separated from our family. Even as adults, we do not like the feeling of being "lost in a crowd." We want to "belong." We met a man recently who did not know anything about his own family. He had to go through legal proceedings to establish his citizenship. What an empty void it made in his life. But someone who helped to look after him in a home as he was growing up he considered "family" to him. This grown man was grateful for the kindness of the only "family" he ever had.

Just like a child needs to know he belongs to a family, we need to belong to our spiritual family. Our spiritual family is HUGE. It begins with our local church family and extends to "all who follow Jesus, all around the world, yes, we're the church together." (as the words of a song say it).

Ephesians 3:14 says "...I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named..."

There are many people who do not have happy experiences in their physical family. Your family may not be what you would dearly like it to be. Some things you may be able to change and some things you can do nothing about. But, we do not have to wait until we have an "ideal" family (whatever that is!) The Bible is full of examples of families that were not "mother, father and 2 kids!" What about the widow and her son that helped the prophet Elijah? What about the little slave girl taken captive and working for Naaman and his wife? She still shared the love of God with them. What about Naomi, left widowed and childless, yet Ruth stepped in to be a daughter to her. What about the sisters Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus - apparently all unmarried, but sharing a home of love where Jesus often came. What about Jesus Himself? He had nowhere to lie His head, the Bible says. He never had a wife or child. Family does not depend on the circumstances, but on our love for God and each other.

Think of it! As part of the family of God we become part of the entire spiritual family in heaven as well as on earth.

While away I was introduced to a young lady I had never met before. Then she said the name of her parents and asked if I knew them. I was surprised, as I knew her mother and in fact had stayed in their home as a total stranger a few years ago. Her mother had been very kind to me and opened her home to me. Though total strangers before that we had quickly become friends because we each were part of the family of God.

D Purpose for living

The family of God has a purpose for living. Ephesians 3 goes on to say that we can be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith, that we can be rooted and grounded in love and able to comprehend along with others who love the Lord the great love of Christ. And, we may go on to be "filled with all the fullness of God!" Isn't that amazing?!

How can this happen in our lives? "God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us."

Chapter 4 of Ephesians tells us how: Walk worthy of our calling, by being humble, gentle, patient, keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

How is this possible? Verse 7 tells us it is by God's grace given to us. Ephesians 3:20 told us that it is "according to the power that works in us." It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can live right in the family of God.

4 What is the result of living right in the family of God?

Ephesians 3:23 says "to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end."

Our purpose for living here is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. All that we say and do needs to be said and done for His glory and honour.

Are you a part of the "family of God?"

Are you "walking in the light as He is in the Light?"

Are you living a life that brings honour to God in all you do and say?

Be encouraged in your faith to seek nourishment, remember His love and protection, enjoy belonging to Him and to His church family, and live with His purpose for your life.

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."

Note:

Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the New King James Version.

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