Stephen Caswell © 2001
Jack Moore wrote a story about two teenagers. One teenager was talking to another, I'm really worried. Dad slaves away at his job so I'll never want for anything, so I can go to college. And Mom spends every day washing and ironing and cleaning up after me. She takes care of me when I'm sick. The other kid says, So what are you worried about? The first teenager says, I'm afraid they might try to escape. But seriously, family life should be enjoyable.
Last Sunday we answered the question, how can you get to heaven? We saw how Jesus said that we must be born again of the Holy Spirit. Only the new birth enables us to enter God's family. From personal experience both as a child and a father I know that birth is only the beginning. The process of life requires babies to grow into children and children into adults. Each family shares many joys and responsibilities together. Families share food and finances, fun and fellowship. Parents give clothes, shelter, love and instruction to their children. This morning we will look at various aspects of life in God's family.
1. Family Food
The Family Meal Table
Mealtime is an important part of family life. Regular meals are necessary to maintain good health. Our bodies burn up energy very quickly and this needs to be replaced with good food. But meals are important for other reasons too. For one, eating good food is enjoyable. The benefits of talking together with our children at meal times is something that shouldn't be underestimated either. Therefore family meal times are necessary for us to maintain good physical and social health. If this is true of physical of life how much more is it true of spiritual life? Jesus said, Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. In fact, God's Word is described as bread, meat, milk and honey.
1 Peter 2:2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.
Babies start with a diet of milk. That's what they need to get them growing. Mothers milk is full of antibodies to help children fight off diseases. Milk is easier to digest which is perfect for babies since they don't have any teeth. In the same way, new Christians need to feed on the milk of the Word. They should desire it like a hungry baby. You always know they're hungry because they cry.
Baby Christians start by learning the simple doctrines of the faith. They need to learn about prayer, the Holy Spirit, the Church, baptism and communion. They need to learn about maintaining fellowship with God. These things are basic to the Christian life. This is the milk of the Word. Like all babies it's important for babes in Christ to start with milk. Milk and exercise enables new Christians to grow up, but without it they will die. As infants grow they need to add solids to their diet as well.
Food and exercise produce growth. That's the way God has ordained life to develop. Jonathan started on milk and in fact still drinks milk. But at about four or five months we started him on solid foods as well. At first we gave him only small amounts of these but slowly increased the amounts. For a small boy he eats a lot of tucker. Now he has teeth he even eats fish, chicken and meat. But, how tragic is it to see a baby that doesn't develop normally? This happens when something is wrong genetically or through parental neglect. Some babies don't start solids for years. Even though babies are very cute God's intention is for them to develop into mature adults. Solid food is essential for this to happen. It develops our muscles. God wants baby Christians to growth into mature adults.
1 Corinthians 3:1-2 & Hebrews 5:12-14 speak of the dangers of immaturity: And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Paul and the writer to the Hebrews challenges immature believers about their failure to grow. They weren't applying God's Word in their lives. They still hadn't moved on from a milk diet to meat. The meat of the Word is the deeper things of the Word. Last year at the midweek prayer meeting we studied the book of Hebrews. Some of the ladies here are studying this book now. We had a wonderful time looking at this book for many months. Books like Hebrews, Romans and Revelation require much thought to take in. They are full of meat and need to be thoroughly chewed over to digest. Paul exhorts immature believers to grow up in the faith. He tells them to feed on the deeper things of God's Word and mature in their faith.
Do you desire God's Word like a new born baby desires milk? Do you feed on it daily? Are you varying your menu? Are you feeding on all of God's Word? Are you exercising it in your life? Are you also feeding on the meat of the Word too? Are you sinking your teeth into those deeper passages of Scripture? Or are you a spiritual babe still drinking milk only?
2. Family Fortune
Every family has to live within a budget. Even though most of us aren't born into wealthy families our parents provide for our needs. They provide for our education, food and clothes. Sometimes we even get a bit of pocket money on top of all this. Our parents also teach us along the way. They offer counsel to help us make the right choices. One day we will inherit our parents home and belongings. We receive all these things because we are members of their family. They provide for our needs and bestow an inheritance upon us because they love us. This is true in God's family too, but only on a much greater scale.
Romans 8:14-17: For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 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. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
Why does God adopt us if we have been born into His family? Because children can't draw on their parents wealth. They must wait till they grow up. But adopted sons can draw on their Father's wealth immediately. God makes every born again believer a joint heir with His Son, Jesus Christ. Unlike our human families our Heavenly Father is rich beyond comprehension. Our Father provides for all His children. What kind of wealth does the Father share with us?
a. Grace & Mercy
In mercy God doesn't give us what we do deserve and in grace He gives us what we don't deserve. It is because of the Lord's mercy that He forgives us of our sins. Mercy and grace are two sides of the same coin and you often find them together in the bible. Both mercy and grace are motivated by God's great love for us.
1. Salvation Firstly, God saves us mercy and grace. Ephesians 2:4-8: But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ by grace you have been saved, and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. It is by God's mercy and grace we receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
2. Strength Secondly, God strengthens us by His mercy and grace. Hebrews 4:16: Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. We receive God's grace when we pray for help to stand firm in trials. The Holy Spirit ministers God's grace to us. It is through God's mercy and grace we obtain help in this life's trials. Are you coming before the throne to obtain God's grace each day?
3. Spiritual Gifts Thirdly, God gives us spiritual gifts by His grace. Ephesians 4:7-8: But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says; When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men. Romans 12:6-8: Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. God gives every believer a spiritual gift to be used in Christian service. It is through God's grace that we minister to one another in the Church. What is your gift? How are you using it?
b. Wisdom & Guidance
God gives wisdom to His children so that they can make the right decisions in life. James 1:5: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. We should seek God's guidance when making plans.
Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. God has promised to guide us if we will take the time to talk to Him about our plans.
c. Daily Needs
God promises to meet our daily needs. He only asks that we seek His kingdom and His righteousness first. Matthew 6:11: Give us this day our daily bread. Philippians 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Matthew 6:25, 30: Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? God will supply all our needs but not our greed's. We shouldn't be anxious about these.
Have you received God's mercy and grace through Jesus Christ? Are you drawing on your Father's wealth as a child of God? Do you seek His grace each day? Are you using your spiritual gifts? Are you seeking God's guidance in the decisions you make? Have you asked the Lord for wisdom? Do you bring your needs before the Lord or do you worry about them? God has promised to meet all of our needs, but not our greed's!
3. Family Fellowship
Family Life Together
A couple of months ago we looked at Christian fellowship in the Church. The word fellowship means to have all things in common. This concept relates well to family life. Fellowship describes the bond shared between family members living together. We share the same name. We belong to the same parents. We live together in the same house. We share meals together and sleep under the same roof. If one member is honored we rejoice with them. When one suffers or is sick we all suffer with them. We work together to keep the home running smoothly. The early Church excelled in Christian fellowship.
Firstly, Their fellowship involved sharing the Gospel. Philippians 1:3-5: I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,
Secondly, Their fellowship involved service. Philippians 2:1: Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
Thirdly, Their fellowship involved suffering. Phil 3:10: that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.
Fourthly, Their fellowship involved giving. Philippians 4:15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only.
Do you have all things in common with your brethren? Are you involved in the fellowship of the Gospel? Are you involved in the fellowship of Christian service? Have joined the fellowship of Christ's sufferings? Are sharing in the fellowship of Christian giving?
4. Family Fashions
One of the things that parents provide for their children are clothes. As they get older our children have a say in this. But to start with we choose what's best for them and we pay for them. Parents know best when their children need a jumper on. They dress them in old clothes for back yard play. They dress them in good clothes when they go out somewhere special. We don't want our children to disgrace the family by wearing something inappropriate. Our children mightn't agree with us but nevertheless it's true. Sometimes teenagers want to wear jeans that should be put in the bin. They're filthy and full of holes!
Grave Clothes & Grace Clothes
The same is true in God's family. Our heavenly Father wants us to wear the right clothes. Before we were born into His family we wore clothes that were disgraceful. They brought shame upon us and the human family. Paul talks about this in Colossians 3:8-10: But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him. These clothes were our grave clothes. We wore them when we were spiritually dead. God wants us to put them off now that we have become His children. The words put off ajpotiqhmi mean to lay aside your garments, to get undressed.
God wants us to put on the grace clothes listed in Colossians 3:12-14: Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. The words put on ejnduw mean to clothe yourself, to get dressed. God wants us to be clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
God wants us to dress appropriately. We mustn't disgrace His name. What kind of clothes are you wearing? Is your conduct appropriate for a child of God? Are you clothed with humility, love, kindness, long suffering, meekness and forgiveness? Or are you clothed in anger, wrath, malice, deceit and impure language? Are you wearing grave clothes or grace clothes!
5. Family Future
God has a wonderful future prepared for those who love Him. We don't know all the details but God has given us a glimpse of some of them in the Scriptures.
a. God's Presence
Revelation 22:1-5 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.
The saints will live in God's presence forever and ever. He will provide for our every need. God's children will serve Him and worship before Him forever. The amazing this that we servants will also reign with Christ. We will see the Lord. We will talk with our heavenly Father as we talk to our earthly father, face to face. What wonderful fellowship we will have.
b. A Mansion
John 14:1-2 Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.
Revelation 21 and 22 paints a wonderful picture of what heaven will be like. The streets of heaven are made of gold. The walls of the city are made from precious stones. The river of life and the tree of life are in the midst of the city. The glory of God will fill the new heavens and new earth in an unprecedented manner. Truly, to live in such a mansion will make our homes seem like hovels.
c. An Inheritance
1 Peter 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.
God has prepared an inheritance for us. He will reward His faithful servants with crowns and riches. The inheritance that He has for us will never decay or fade in any way. Unlike the things we acquire down here it will last.
Matthew 6:19-21: Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
If God has prepared a mansions for us, why do we invest so much money down here? If we can obtain a lavish inheritance in heaven why waste our money on earthly things? Why don't we use it to extend Christ's kingdom? How much do you give to missions compared to what you spend on luxuries? Why don't we use more of it to reach the lost for Christ? What keeps you from storing up treasure in Heaven? It just takes commitment and planning!
It is God's intention that His children enjoy life in His family. Today we have seen the lavish provisions that God has made for His family. We have seen five things that God has given us!
1. Family Food - God's Word.
2. Family Fortune - God's mercy, grace, spiritual gifts, wisdom and guidance.
3. Family Fellowship - The Fellowship of the Gospel, service, suffering and giving.
4. Family Fashions - The grace clothes of Jesus Christ.
5. Family Future - Living in God's presence, Heaven itself and An Inheritance,
Philippians 4:20, 23: Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.