2nd Sunday of Advent – Great Joy for All

Message: The Family of God

Introduction: The Need and Desire to Belong

 

Illus: The Polar Bear Club…

 Intro: It is hard to live on the outside. We all have something deep inside of us fighting for belonging. When we see a group where everyone seems to be seen and valued, it is normal for us to want to join. To become a part.

American psychologist, Abraham Maslow, suggested that the need to belong was a major source of human motivation. He thought that it was one of 5 human needs in his hierarchy of needs, along with physiological needs, safety, self-esteem, and self-actualization.

A sense of belonging is a human need, just like the need for food and shelter. Feeling that you belong is important in seeing value in life and in coping with intensely painful emotions. … According to studies, a sense of belonging to a greater community improves your motivation, health, and happiness.

Some find belonging in a church, some with friends, some with family, and some on Twitter or other social media. Some see themselves as connected only to one or two people. Others believe and feel a connection to all people the world over, to humanity. Some struggle to find a sense of belonging and their loneliness is physically painful for them.

Some seek belonging through excluding others. That reflects the idea that there must be those who don’t belong in order for there to be those who do. Yet a single instance of being excluded can undermine self-control and well being and often creates pain and conflict.

Gang Illus: Grayson County (Texas) First Assistant District Attorney Kerye Ashmore said this about people join gangs:

Ashmore said gangs promise young people many things with membership, such as money, power and respect. But he added that the root of young people’s interest in gangs boils down to a sense of belonging.

“One of the real draws of gangs is the need to be accepted, to belong, to have this common goal and camaraderie,” Ashmore said. “There’s a lot of young people that, I think, because of their background and their vulnerability — maybe they’ve been abandoned by a parent, maybe they’ve grown up in really bad circumstances — they crave that sense of belonging, that sense of brotherhood and the things that gang members say that they will give you.”

And what about the attraction of cults for some…

When the system fails families and groups of persons, they may turn towards something that sound or looks like the better option. When a leader has the charisma to capture the hearts and minds of members, he or she is able to lead them into a very different path. The community that is provided by a cult is attractive for those that require deeper connections with neighbors. When someone needs friendship and family, these cults are available to fulfill these voids. Some are lone persons that seek solace and the devotional worship of a person or item.

 

When someone joins a cult, he or she usually does so because of what the organization offers initially. This may include friendship for those that need it, connections to others, an identity that is lacking, contributing factors and sometimes family. Different cults have varying motivations and someone or something to worship if there is a devotional object. However, the members themselves are often ordinary persons seeking something to believe in and a sense of belonging. When there is a void of faith in the individual, he or she may seek others to fill this and provide the faith he or she has been looking for throughout life.

 

Understand this: No one understands our need to belong more than God…

 

  • Genesis 1: 18 – God created and everything He created was good. But when He created Adam and considered his aloneness, God said it is not good for the man to be alone…so he created Eve.
  • Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 –Through King Solomon, God made this belonging thing very clear when he writes:

 

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

 

  • Romans 12: 4-5…Paul writes: For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
  • Galatians 6: 2…Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

 

In fact, the Hope of Christmas is that Jesus came to earth to give us the chance to belong to a family: The family of God. 

 

We need family…we need community…and God provides that through a relationship with Jesus and through His Body, the church.

 

So how do we become a part of the Family of God?

 

  • We join God’s family when we accept (believe) God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ (John 1: 12; Galatians 3: 26)

 

Believing can be difficult. We are trained to be skeptics. We are told to question everything, not to talk to strangers, and to only trust what can be run through scientific method.

 

Things really haven’t change that much since Jesus came to this earth. Everything was made through Jesus. Everything and everyone was covered by His fingertips. Everyone was created in His image. However, the world did not recognize its creator. The people did not recognize the one who formed them.

Question: Are all people that God created His children?

Illus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrLzYw6ULYw&index=2&list=PL8JSxwfaT0GaLLhbIDLkjUvw3122PZia-

The Bible is clear that all people are God’s creation (Colossians 1:16), and that God loves the entire world (John 3:16)…

…But only those who are born again are children of God (John 1:12; 11:52; Romans 8:16; 1 John 3:1-10).

In Scripture, those that don’t know Jesus personally are never referred to as God’s children. Ephesians 2:3 tells us that before we were saved we were “by nature objects of wrath” (Ephesians 2:1-3). Romans 9:8 says that “it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.” Instead of being born as God’s children, we are born in sin, which separates us from God and aligns us with Satan as God’s enemy (James 4:4; 1 John 3:8).

 

The fact that those who are not saved are not children of God is also seen in 1 John 3:10: “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.”

We become God’s children and a part of God’s family when we are saved because we are adopted into God’s family through our relationship with Jesus Christ. Those who are saved are children “of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26) Because God has “predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1:5).

 

Galatians 4: 4-5: But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

 

It is not who we are and what we’ve done for God, but who He is and what he has done for us!

 

  • When we join God’s family we have special privileges as His children

 

Illus: Before I turned 50, I got an invitation to AARP…what is the attraction of joining? All the privileges and benefits: Health and Wellness, Travel (hotels, car rental), Restaurants, entertainment, shopping and groceries and advocacy. The last one is interesting. AARP says they can be an advocate for me in discrimination and things like that.

 

Jesus came and made His dwelling among us. He became our advocate before the Father. Jesus took my sins upon himself so that I could have the privileges and benefits of being a child of God. AARP, nor any other earthly membership, can provide that.

 

As children of God we now enjoy all the privileges, obligations, and inheritance rights of God’s children. Here are some of the benefits and privileges we enjoy from being adopted into God’s family.

  1. We are able to talk to God and relate to him as a good and loving Father. 

We may take this for granted, but our Heavenly Father loves us deeply.

  • “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God” 1 John 3:1.
  • “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him” Psalm 103:13.
  • “I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name” – 1 John 2:12.
  • He gives us many good gifts, especially the Spirit. ” If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13.
  • As a loving Father he promises us a great inheritance. “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” – Galatians 4:7.

Benefits of that inheritance await us in the future: Eternal life and our glorified resurrected bodies. And because Christ’s kingdom is now, we get to experience it now!

  1. We are led by the Holy Spirit.

Because of the saving work of Christ, we enjoy the new life of the Spirit.

  • “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “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 fellow-heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Romans 8:14-17.

As his children, the Spirit of God testifies to our spirit that we are his children in a very unique way.

  1. God disciplines us as his children.

The trials and tests we face in this life prove our sonship. “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” – Hebrews 12:5-6.

  1. We relate to other believers as members of one family. 

The church is a family. We relate to other followers of Christ as family members.

  • Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.” – 1 Timothy 5:1-2.

 

  1. We imitate and honor our Father in heaven. 

We are to imitate God’s holiness in our conduct.

  • “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” – Ephesians 5:1. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16.
  • “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” – Philippians 2:14-15.

 

Now, Jesus came to grow God’s family, and we are called to do the same. 

 

Three ways we can help God’s family grow:

 

  • Connecting to others. (Matthew 28: 19-20)

 

We have the opportunity to continue the work of Jesus. Our homes, cities, and nations need us to go and make disciples, teaching them what it means to me a follower of Jesus. We often think that joining the family of God will separate us from everyone around us. However, as we seek to invite people to join the family we will need to get out of the church and out of our homes to actually connect with our world.

The other two ways we can help grow God’s family:

  • Loving & Dwelling

 

Luke 4: 18…

Jesus talks about his ministry in two ways. In Luke 4:18, he says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me.” He goes on to talk about preaching the good news to the poor and the captive.

In fact, this type of ministry was a sign that he was the Messiah. Prophecy was being fulfilled as he showed kindness to those who were hurting. Throughout Scripture we see the work of Christ among the widows, the blind, the broken—whoever had a need.

Jesus came to save. And he did so by loving and dwelling with them. The Psalmist encourages the same:

Psalm 96: 3…

We have been sent by Jesus to join him in his mission. We are to serve others in his name, and we are to share the good news of salvation so that people might trust in Jesus’ work on the cross—his death in our place, for our sin.

“A church without the broken is a broken church.” Ed Stetzer

Stetzer goes on to say:

Serving and saving were marks of Christ’s life on earth. They should be marks of his people as well. But to do that, we must engage the broken and hurting people around us.

That’s hard. But a church without the broken is a broken church.

It’s fascinating that a lot of Christians don’t seem to like non-Christians, often referred to as the lost or the unchurched. Often we want to keep away from messy people—perhaps missing the obvious that we are messy as well.

 Illus: Author Keith Miller…

**My hope and prayer is that you are a part of God’s family…that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. And if you are already a part of God’s family, I pray that you and I will fulfill this…

 Advent Action:  Invite someone to church this Christmas. Invite someone to join the Family of God.