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: I am a Debtor

to grace a debtorI recently “liked” a blog post on facebook that talked about the grace God gives us when we need to step back momentarily from a church body and heal..   It sometimes appears God does give more grace in those situations then we give each other, even if we are partially or completely at fault.   Like the blogger, I have felt God’s comfort and healing in short “time out” seasons, have experienced God deeply in private worship and devotions, have felt His presence in the “mundane”, have felt His love and healing in the sweetness of my family members, family events, and a few friends who are willing to fellowship on an intimate level, found deep fulfillment in seeking my husband’s approval in our home and family as his helpmate, and felt God’s guidance as I move back into corporate fellowship refilled with grace received and grace to extend.

So my “like” was definitely one of acknowledgment and understanding that sometimes God leads us to a change.  But the deepest spiritual blessings in my own life have so far come about by trusting Him within the hard places, knowing we’re all just a bunch of messed up folks in equal need of grace.  As a dear friend and mentor said, ‘Why add the problems of others into the mix we each already have going on inside us?’  Because I serve Christ, I am not free to do anything but follow Him.  I am His bondslave trying to follow where He is leading me.  It is sometimes through fiery trials which He uses to refine.  It is often in places where I have absolutely no choice but to trust in Him and His promises.  It might be in places of loneliness, humility or misunderstanding, especially if my focus is on myself.  It is often in places where He would have me be bold for Him without knowing the response.  It definitely includes places that are tender and broken.   Where He leads me is never just about me!

Oswald Chambers said in ‘My Utmost for His Highest’,  July 12 devotional, “Am I building up the Body of Christ or am I looking for my own personal development only?…To fulfill God’s design means entire abandonment to Him….My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace, Not even blessing, but Himself, my God” and in the July 15 devotional, “I am a debtor to everyone on the face of the earth because of the Gospel of Jesus; I am free to be an absolute slave only….Quit praying about yourself and be spent for others as the bondslave of Jesus.  That is the meaning of being made broken bread and poured-out wine in reality.”

What a revival we would have if we really lived like this.  A portion of Matt Redman’s, “We Could Change the World” lyrics say it well,  ‘Could we live like Your grace is stronger Than all our faults and failures?… Could we live like Your ways Are wiser than our understanding? Could we live like this?  Could we live like this?…..We’re saying, “yes, Lord, yes, Lord!”…What else could we say, what else could we say?’

We are all debtors to something.  What are you a debtor to?   I want to hold onto God’s Word and the promises He has confirmed in my heart.  My feelings and others’ opinions may or may not align with those Truths, but I am a debtor to God and His truths!