JESUS THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

This Sunday, we will open and enjoy the gift of family. All of us have something to complain about our families. Or for those of us married people, we all have something to complain about our spouse’s family. But this Christmas season, we need to appreciate the fact that we have families – no matter how broken it is.

Because the alternative is to be orphans. And studies have shown that orphans struggle to keep up with their peers in developing social skills. On top of that, orphans are also more likely to develop extreme behaviors as they grow older. So again, when you have a family, you have a better chance to succeed than those who are orphans.

But this is the good news we want to share with you this morning. We are no longer orphans because through Jesus, God has adopted us into his family!

EPHESIANS 1:4-8 (NLT)

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:4-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

WE ARE GOD’S ADOPTED CHILDREN

It is not an accident. From the very beginning, God wants us to be his children. That was the plan all along until sin came into the picture. But God did not let our brokenness interfered with his beautiful plan. He sent Jesus to live a holy and faultless life so we too can be holy and without fault in his eyes. God has purchased our freedom with blood of his Son and forgave our sins. Thus orphan sinners are adopted into God’s family through the grace, mercy, and sacrifice of Jesus.

So that is our new reality today. Last week, we proclaimed that God has given us a guarantee that we are no longer sinners. No. We are righteous instead. This week, we proclaim that God has given us a family. We are no longer orphans; we are now God’s children. Again, this is our new reality. This is who we are.

The Fatherhood of God and the adoption into his family is a very important theme in the Bible. Paul said that through his covenant with Abraham, God first adopted the people of Israel. Out of everyone else on this planet, God elected them. They were his children; they belong to him. That means he protected the Israelites from evil people and evil powers. That means he provided for them in the scarcity of the wilderness and during the plentiful harvests in the Land of Milk and Honey. God the Father made sure that his children will be successful – even when everyone else fails to honor and obey him.

But ironically, the Israelites did not want to be special. They wanted to be like everyone else. They wanted to be orphans! They want to have someone else to be king instead of their Father. Everyone else had temples and statues of their gods and their goddesses so they wanted theirs too. God had made them special by adopting them into his family but they wanted to be just like everyone else.

So God the Father gave them what they wanted. He made them common just like everyone else. God’s presence left Israel and they became as orphaned as all the other nations in this world. They built the foreign altars to their foreign gods. Instead of treating each other like brothers and sisters, children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they would take advantage of one another, steal from one another, and even murder one another. Instead of embracing their special status as God’s family members, they abandoned their inheritance to become spiritual orphans like everybody else. They lost everything because they were embarrassed that their different.

EMBRACE YOUR FAMILY

So when Jesus the Messiah came into this world, the expectancy was for him to bring back Israel into the family of God. But Jesus was thinking bigger. Jesus wants everyone from every nation and every tongue to confess that God Almighty, his Father, is our Father. If the first batch of adoptees do not want to embrace God’s family, then Jesus would gladly bring this gift of family to all the other orphans in this world. Because of Jesus, you and I can be part of God’s family.

And what I want to encourage everyone to do is to embrace our new family. The Israelites failed because they did not want to be special; they did not fully embrace God’s wonderful gifts and inheritance. Let us not repeat their mistake. Embrace God’s family. Embrace your family.

So how do we do that? How do we enjoy and embrace God’s gift of a family?

Number one, let us not be embarrassed to let others know that we are now part of God’s family. Because we are God’s children, there are things that others do that we can’t do. And even more, there are other things that we technically can do but we know we should not do. You know what I’m talking about. We know that part of being God’s children is that we have an opportunity to leave certain things behind. But when we meet our old partners in crime, there is this peer pressure to do those things again because that’s what they do. That’s who they are. But that’s not what we do because that’s not who we are anymore. We are now God’s children and God’s children don’t do those things. And we should not be afraid to tell them this. Don’t be embarrassed to tell people that you have a new family now.

Number two, do not be embarrassed to ask your Father to provide for you. If earthly fathers will do their best to provide for their children, how more so our Father in Heaven? We get in trouble when we start looking for help in the wrong places. Why can’t we just embrace the fact that all good things in our lives come from our Father in Heaven? If he had provided before, can’t he do it again? He can and he wants to provide for us. It is what he does because he is our Father.

And finally, number three, do not be embarrassed to spend time with your brothers and sisters. Seriously, at least once a week. But we all know loving families need to meet more often than that. It is amazing to me that in every season when I take the time and trouble to spend more time with brothers and sisters in Christ, I immediately become a better person. OK, maybe not too immediate becoming a better person, but I know immediately become significantly happier. And when we read and hear stories about people who have been successful in following Jesus, we learn the same thing: they all take their time to spend time with their family in Christ. I know life is difficult and everyone is busy. But I promise you this: if you want to be a successful follower of Jesus, you need to spend more time with your family.

Because of Jesus, we are no longer orphans. We have a Father and we have our brothers and sisters. Do not live like orphans. Embrace your family.