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Summary: Just like a natural family with parents, children, and siblings, the church family is God’s idea. God knew that people would need help along the way as they struggle against an unseen enemy. It is a privilege and a blessing to belong to a spiritual family

Belonging to a Spiritual Family

1 Thessalonians 3:1-5

Intro: There are many organizations or groups you could be a part of these days, but I believe none is more meaningful to your life and spiritual health than belonging to and being part of a spiritual family. Your church family should be a source of encouragement and blessing. Your church family should be a demonstration of love and acceptance. Your church family should offer people safety, validity, warmth, and welcome. The spiritual family that does not offer these things is missing out on part of its mission and purpose and may be more akin to a dysfunctional family than a healthy, life-giving family. My prayer is that we at CLC will never settle for being anything less than a loving, humble, and obedient family that offers hope and life, and a place to belong for those who are searching for answers. Ultimately, whether they realize it or not, they are searching for Jesus, and I hope they find Him living though you and me!

-Just like a natural family with parents, children, and siblings, the church family is God’s idea. God knew that people would need help along the way as they struggle against an unseen enemy, so Jesus said, “I will build My Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!” It is a privilege and a blessing to belong to a spiritual family. It is also a responsibility. Something is expected of us from our God and Father. When we belong to a spiritual family, there are family expectations that God will help us with as we learn to love and honor Him. Let’s look at some of these expectations.

1. Spiritual families care about one another

1 Thessalonians 3:1-2 “So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2 We sent Timothy…to strengthen and encourage you in your faith”

-Paul has already expressed his strong desire to come and see his spiritual family in Thessalonica. He has used terms of endearment to show how much he cares about the Thessalonians. Now he shows that his love for them has compelled him to action. He is sending a member of his team, Timothy, to help them in their faith. Paul loved them so much that he could not stand not knowing how they were doing, and was willing to do all he could to strengthen them and help them keep on growing!

-And that’s what spiritual families do for one another! They watch out for each other and make sure nobody misses out on the grace of God. A Biblical church family does everything within its power to support, protect, and encourage those who belong to it.

-I can remember standing up for my sister in high school. Some boy kept bothering her so I grabbed him and slammed him up against a locker one day and told him to leave my sister alone. He did! I’m not saying I handled the situation the right way or the best way. But when it comes to the church family, someone needs to be the big brother and stand up the enemy who wants to harass and upset members of the family! 1 Peter 5:8-9 “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

-We need to make this part of our motto as a spiritual family: Nobody suffers alone! When someone is going through a rough time, we need to rally around them in prayer and do everything we can to strengthen and encourage them. Here is a list of ways to encourage other people:

1. Become aware of what encourages you, and do those same things for others.

2. Learn individuals’ “love language”-the special way in which they feel most valued. In his book, The Five Languages of Love, Gary Chapman explains that not everyone’s emotional needs are met in the same way, and that it’s important to learn to speak others’ love language. The five love languages are: words of affirmation, spending quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch.

3. If an encouraging thought comes to mind, share it! It may not have the same effect if you wait. Don’t let shyness hold you back. Instead, form a new habit: “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today…” (Hebrews 3:13).

4. When you introduce someone, add a few words of praise for the person’s abilities, accomplishments, about how they’ve helped you or about the nature of your relationship. It’s encouraging to be praised in front of others.*

5. When someone is discouraged or hurting, offer specific, practical help. If you ask, “How can I help?” the person might be at a loss to answer. It’s better to ask, “Would it help if I…(specific action) or say, “I would like to…(specific action)?*

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