FAMILY – YOURS TO DISCOVER!
Scripture reading: Ephesians 1:3-6 (New Living Translation)
- Festival – an event that focuses on a specific aspect of a community
- Types – Jazz Fest, Film Fests, Food Rodeo, Strawberry!
- This weekend – Family Fest – an event that focuses on the specific aspect of Family!
- Slogan – Ontario License Plate: Yours to Discover! becomes Family – Yours to Discover! Or Rediscover? Google “busy families” and you’ll get at least 589,000 websites (50 Google pages!) that have something to say about it!
- I Google-searched “Family” in the Bible and got 413 responses. I’d like to highlight 5 very important points that stood out in my search.
1. Families are God’s design for all of us
Genesis 9:7 – have children and multiple!
- Creation – everything perfect. Adam & Eve disobeyed God; separated from God and we’ve been spiraling out of control ever since. The days of Noah as recorded in the first Book of the Bible – a world-wide flood because people’s behaviour was grossly offensive to God. One family cared about what God had to say – Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives.
- The ark – 150 days / 17 months later, the flood began to recede. They got off the boat and God gave them a bunch of instructions about food, relationships with other people, their relationship with God and the rainbow sign that he would never bring such devastation on the earth again. He gave them one other instruction – Genesis 9:7…
- Procreation was always God’s plan. Relationship between a man and woman was always part of that pro-creative plan; that we live in a structured community called family!
- Whether married with children, widowed, extended divorced or single, your current family realities must be nurtured and given careful attention
2. Families are vitally important
Matthew 1 – lists the genealogy of Jesus going back 42 generations!
- Families are not always fun. We tend to be quite dysfunctional! But families are God’s design and we need to value it, work at it, and celebrate families! Families are critical to a balanced life.
Statistics Canada Survey in 2005 – “Even before a marital breakup, young children of parents heading for divorce tend to develop mental health problems. Children whose parents eventually divorce show higher levels of depression, as well as higher levels of anti-social behaviour, than children whose parents remain married.”
- Who can put a price tag on the value of family when in crisis – e.g. Danny’s story!
"The family, though the smallest and seemingly most fragile of institutions (is) proving itself to be humankind’s bedrock as well as it’s fault line (whose) strength lies in the cohesion and loyalty of the parent-child unit around which larger worlds of household and kin, community and nation necessarily revolve". Steven Ozement (author)
Layman’s note: what society looks like depends on what happens in the home and the measure of loyalty to the family.
3. God intends worship to be a family affair
Joshua 24:15 – as for me and my house we will serve the Lord
- Worship – not church going (though a wonderful family activity). Worship (Webster): “extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem.” Happens on Sunday at church but goes beyond that to everything I do everyday…
- History class - Jewish people slaves for centuries to the Egyptians. God delivered them and gave them a land in Canaan – a free people. In the stages of exodus from Egypt to Canaan, there were battles and lessons to learn. Various nationalities and cultures; tribal influences, beliefs and value systems. Easy to adapt and conform.
- Concerns of fitting God into other beliefs and values, settling in too well and forgetting God. Their leader, Joshua had something to say to them – verses 14-15…
- Religious pluralism (accepting different religions) is a definite reality in Canada. One neighborhood school has 65 nationalities.
- Accepting? Definitely! Engage and dialogue? Absolutely!
- Respect other religions and beliefs? We shouldn’t have to ask that question; people should assume we would behave that way.
- Conform and trade our faith in God? That’s the line we must never cross. Worship as a family means we factor God into our thinking, priorities and relationships with each other.
4. God intends we share our faith with our families
Luke 8:39 – go home and tell your family all the wonderful things God has done for you
- Luke 8:26ff – Passage says the man in this story was possessed with demons. Most times naked; lived in the cemetery; town tried locking him up but he’d break free. People were terrified of him.
JESUS SHOWED UP!
- Evil confronted God and demanded to know what he expected (verse 28)
- They asked permission (!!!) to go into a herd of pigs and Jesus granted their request! (verse 32)
- Man, clothed, sane, approachable (until now the community wasn’t afraid!), wanted to go with Jesus. Jesus’ response was simple (verse 39…)
- Demon possession – fits in with the paranormal, the bizarre; seen as medieval times. Before dismissing it as fiction or non-existent today, consider that demon possession is often more subtle. E.g. – Obsession with wealth to the point of completely consumed, so that they leave God out of life – Matthew 6:24, “"No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Money more than God, it is a master – demon?
What needs to happen in your life-realities, to be a person clothed in your right mind? Somehow, your answer must involve God in the picture…
5. When we accept the claims of Jesus as Messiah and apply them to our lives, we become members of God’s Family
Ephesians 1:5 – “In love he predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of his will.”
- “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself” means, “Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ.” (The Message)
- The day we come into relationship with God was marked on God’s calendar before we were born! He decided it because he loves us and for the simple reason that he wanted to be kind to us!
Our misdeeds and misbehaviour led to living a foster life – on the move, away from God. The only answer was adoption.
We capture a picture of our relationship with God in Chrissy’s story about her adoptive parents. “My adopted father still, to this day, recalls the overwhelming emotion he had the moment he held me in his arms and saw my tiny, pink face. They gave me the best life any child could ever ask for. But more importantly, they gave me unconditional love, a love that was so strong and so natural.”
-Family is God’s design – you are placed where he wants you to be
-Family is critically important – make time to look after your family
-Focus prayerfully on bringing your family to experience worship together
-Look for ways to share your relationship with God openly to your family who does not know God
-If you are not in relationship with God, I invite you to accept Jesus today as God’s Messiah so God can adopt you into his spiritual family.