Warm Wednesday Words: Inexpungible Family Ties

Much of this post is taken from a message I heard several months ago by Kevin Farr at First Baptist Church (my mom’s church) here in Steelville.  It was so meaningful to me I asked for the notes at that time and had planned to include them in a post long before now.  I still find the words both challenging and encouraging and worth sharing here.

Whether it’s spiritual family or earthly family, the bonds are made from rich and inexpungible meaning.  According to the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary “inexpungible” is incabaple of being obliterated.  Since Gal. 6:10 tells us to do good especially to those in the household of faith, we can be certain that God wants us to look kindly on our brothers and sisters in the faith and view them as if they were our own flesh and blood family, not thinking of them lastly with our kindness, but thinking especially of them.

In his first point, he outlined some guidelines to living as family.  They included not putting our family members under condemnation (while fully supposing those who are truly in Christ would be cooperating with the Spirit’s work within).  Thankfully, the Christian is no longer a slave to sin.  We are no longer powerless against the sinful tendencies and desires that rise up within our own hearts.  “(thus the person dealing with an attraction for porn has the privilege and power to turn from it; the person with a same-sex attraction has the privilege and power to turn from it, the kleptomaniac has the privilege and power to turn from stealing, and on and on it goes.)  Greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4  Note well Paul’s warning to those who do live obligated to the flesh – ‘ you are about to die’ – if you live according to the flesh – i.e. as an ongoing practice…Paul is warning against the eternal ‘death’ which all who are without Christ will suffer…Notice that Paul didn’t say we are obligated to the spirit or to God; rather, we are to live ‘by the Spirit’ – it is a desire of the will…How you live matters, and is a display of what you truly believe….Our sanctification is not a once-and-done activity, nor is it a matter of ‘cleaning up our lives by our own willpower.  It is the Spirit of God leading, empowering, and transforming.  For those truly saved, the spirit of the person loves what the Spirit is doing and wants more of it.  The Christian (man) says…I don’t want to be lusting after female images or gawking and lusting after other women, I want to love my wife; The Christian doesn’t want to be dependent on the drugs of the world to try and supply peace, happiness, joy, and contentment, but wants to be dependent on and trust in God, etc.”

Greater is He Who is In MeThe second portion of the message was on how to know we’re in the family.  We have an assurance and a confidence when we are in Christ.  We are given this spirit upon adoption as His very own children, and this spirit of adoption leads and guides.  Our new Father is jealous over us and our adoption so that He may present us, the church, as a pure bride to Christ.  How important to tap into the privilege and power we have been given to turn from that which would draw us away from our adoption.

“Adoption (much more common in Roman culture than Jewish, Paul was surely referring to the Roman practice, writing to the church at Rome) – ‘natural-born’ children in Paul’s day could be disinherited, but an adopted child could not!  According to Roman law – once the child had been released by his biological father, it took 7 witnesses to confirm the adoption’s legality before a Roman magistrate.  When adopted, the child severed all ties with the old family.  The new father had full authority over the new son.  The son became an heir to the new father’s estate.  Any old debts the son may have had were wiped out.  The son now had all the privileges and responsibilities of his new family’s natural children.”

Abba, DaddySo many rich parallels lie within the Roman adoption laws to our relationship with God.  God seeks us and we turn away from our “old” life.  Our sin “debts” are covered by Christ’s sacrifice.  We are joint heirs with Christ to all that is God’s, particularly eternal life and a sweet relationship with God.  We embrace all that goes with our new “family” and God.

In the third and last portion of the message, he reiterated and expounded on the benefits of being in the family.  We are heirs to all God has and have Christ as our brother.  We share in the burdens and sufferings of others and of the lost.

We are family with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and just like in the picture of Roman adoption, it is not by the blood in our veins but by that of a spirit of adoption; i.e. the one to our inexpungible bond with our Heavenly Father and the other to the inexpungible bonds of earthly families.

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Warm Wednesday Words: Gap Standers

a word aptly spokenI can remember many special words of encouragement in my life, the people who spoke them, and often even the settings they were spoken in.  Unfortunately, I can also remember words that tore me down. Sometimes the latter were spoken without awareness that I overheard or heard secondhand.  Some left scars and redirected my focus and friendships.  Thankfully the words of encouragement have effected me most.  I am always energized by the knowledge that someone believes in me.  Encouragement is “the wind beneath my wings”.  Encouragers really are heroes, and have a knack at finding the encouragement that belongs with constructive criticism, and they also possess patience, humility, and a desire to listen.

you are the wind beneath my wingsThough I know enough about planes and flying to fill the saddlebags of a flea, I believe that as air currents supply lift to somehow supplement the flight of a plane, so words of encouragement lift us up to do that which God has put in our hearts to do.  Without encouragement, much creativity and revelation sits on the ground waiting for the needed lift, or nosedives shortly after takeoff.  Among  definitions for the word “lift” in the “Free Dictionary” is, “To yield to upward pressure.”  Applying this definition to encouragement, it’s a pleasurable yield and pressure, indeed.

Christopher Crisp, a guest columnist for “The Dispatch” wrote on encouragement in the April 12, 2007 issue.  “I remember sweet people – the people who were non-judgmental.  These ‘sweet people’ have a spirit about them that is infectious to all they come in contact with.  These people put their strength at our disposal.”  They are the “gap standers” in our lives, and demonstrate how we’re to be the same to others.   Since our own burdens are lightened when we bother to encourage others, we miss out when we choose to neglect the ministry of encouragement, or worse, engage in discouragement.  Crisp goes on to say, “There are many ways we can encourage others; a card, hug, handshake, a quiet visit just to listen or just a sincere compliment.”  To a discerning person in need of true encouragement, the detection of fakery, flattery and attention getting scenarios is usually on high alert and they are not taken in by them.

stand in the gap for othersSometimes we just have to find encouragement with our God, whether or not anyone else encourages us.  When disaster struck David and his men by the burning of Ziklag and the heart wrenching scandal of their women having been taken captive, everyone was distraught and blamed David, who was also grief stricken.  “But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”

fight aloneEncouragement can definitely be found all alone with our God even if it seems everyone around us is against us, or neglectful, though hopefully that doesn’t happen often. “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.”  (2 Tim. 4:17)

God is fighting for youOur ultimate “Gap Stander” is Christ who is constantly interceding for us, fighting for us, pushing back the darkness, and most amazingly, gave up His life for us so that we could be a joint heir with him and spend eternity with the Father.