"Welcome to the Family"
Family is so important. What does it mean to be an heir through God? As we look at this passage we will find Paul welcoming us into God’s family.
Welcome To The Family
A. A young man entered the movie theater loaded down with popcorn and drinks. The lights were already dim when he walked in. He scanned the darkened rows. He began to walk up and down the side aisle. Obviously, he was looking for someone, but unable to find them so he simply blurted out, “Does anybody here recognize me?”
B. We all want to belong. We want to be known by others. We want to know that someone out there cares about us. We have a need to be a part of something, to be in community. The first reason stated for God’s creation of Eve is that it was not good for man to be alone.
C. Look at this picture. The child’s name is Millie and this is her parents. They are my sister’s in-laws. Sadly, since this time, the husband died of a heart attack. But do you notice the family resemblance between Millie and her parents? It doesn’t take much to realize that Millie was adopted. Yet, she is loved and viewed as their child. She came home from school and said that kids asked her why she looked different. She told them she was adopted from China. Her mother asked her how she felt? Millie looked her with that smile and said, “I feel special.”
D. Adoption and birth are viewed the same. God tells us that we have been adopted as His children and that really does make us feel special, like we belong to something, to someone…who loves us deeply.
I. The Best Christmas Gift
A. I love Christmas, okay, I love getting things I really want. Ya, probably not the intent of the season, but we often associate the birth of Jesus with Christmas – not so much as the exact day of his birth, but the joy that he was born. He was born for a purpose (Gal. 4:4-7).
B. Paul states Jesus was born of a woman; simply meaning he came in human form. He was also born “under the Law.” But Paul says the reason for God in the flesh was that you I and were under a bondage from which only he could set us free.
C. Jesus cams SO THAT I could be adopted into God’s family. As God’s chosen one, as God’s child, I am heir of the promise of salvation that was extended through the linage of Abraham.
D. So what does that gift of Jesus being born in manger, growing up and dying on a cross, then rising and going back to the Father mean specifically for you? Paul adds the great gift of freedom – it’s called family. God adopts us into His family. Now, specifically, he is probably referring to Gentiles, but the point is that all mankind is now welcome to be a part of God’s family.
E. What all this means is I can cry out God “Abba!” Loving God and feeling secure in Him is a natural as any child who has a good earthly father. When I pick up my grandson, he is not afraid of me. His hugs and kisses make me smile. He can’t even call me any name yet, but I love to hold him and help him know he is loved, cherished and protected. If he needs anything, I hope he will always want to call on me. Paul says, that is exactly what Jesus has given us with the Father. We can call on him, talk with him, feel secure in him and just love him because he chose us, adopted us and brought us home.
II. Family Issues
A. In many families there are trouble children. In some families there is that child that acts out in a way that is harmful to themselves and brings emotional pain upon the rest of the family. The family of God is no different. We all fail to keep in step with God’s Spirit, but that is not what is happening here. READ Gal. 4:8-9. This is a case where many Christians in the Galatian region were turning from God’s truth for what? A feeling? A belief that they were not good enough? A desire to make God like you better?
B. Paul has done his theological talk, but now he begs with them from an emotional level (READ Gal. 4:12-16). I don’t of any mature Christian who desires to point out the sinful behavior of a fellow Christian, but Paul wants to remind them that they are not enemies. This is not about differences of opinions. Paul is genuinely concerned for their spiritual well-being. So he takes them back to how they met, how they “fell in love” with each other as a spiritual teacher and students of the Gospel of Jesus. Based upon history, he wants them to know that he speaks as candidly as he is. This is not about anger towards them as people, but the deepest desire to help them see the family of God is not about the rules, but about the true love for each other for God’s will to be done in all of our lives.
C. Family is important, but family doesn’t let those they love continue to hurt themselves or others. Family takes the step of intervention, of tough love, of calling out a family member whose actions are harmful. The church family has to sometimes do the very same thing. And when it happens, many who “feel the finger pointed at them” want to lash out or defend their actions of sin with something other than God’s truth and teachings.
A. For over 21 years I preached in this congregation. You have seen my children grow up, leave home, get married and have their own child. You have walked with Kerri and I in good time and difficult times. You have loved us. I accept discipline from those of you who have loved me, because I believe that you really have my best spiritual interest at heart. I hope you feel the same way.
B. It is great to be a family. It is great to belong. So many in this world feel alone. Some feel just like this story that Fred Craddock tells (READ Who’s Your Daddy?). **Story below**
C. I know who your Father is; God. I know who your brother is; Jesus Christ and me. Welcome to the family of God. If we as family can encourage your faith, please come and share with us your spiritual need as we stand and sing.
Because of Jesus,
Jeffrey Dillinger, minister
Who’s Your Daddy?
Fred Craddock was vacationing with his wife in Gatlinburg, TN. One morning, they were eating breakfast at little restaurant, hoping to enjoy a quiet, family meal. While they were waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting with the guests. Fred leaned over and whispered to his wife, “I hope he doesn’t come over here.” But sure enough, the man did come over to their table. “Where are you folks from?” he asked in a friendly voice. “Oklahoma,” they answered.
“Great to have you here in Tennessee.” the stranger said. “What do you do for a living?”
“I teach at a seminary,” he replied.
“Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you? Well, I’ve got a really great story for you.” And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with the couple. The professor groaned and thought to himself, “Great… Just what I need another preacher story!”
The man started, “See that mountain over there pointing out the restaurant window. Not far from the base of that mountain, there was a boy born to an unwed mother. He had a hard time growing up. When he went into town with his mother he could see people staring at him, making guesses as to who was his father. At school, the children said ugly things to him, and so he stayed to himself during recess, and ate lunch alone.
When he was in his early teens, a new preacher came to his church. The boy would always go in late and slip out early to avoid hearing the question, ‘Who’s your daddy?’ But one day, the new preacher said the benediction so fast the boy got caught and had to walk out with the crowd. Before he could make my way through the group, he felt a hand on his shoulder, a heavy hand. It was that minister. The boy cut his eyes around and caught a glimpse of the preacher’s beard and chin, and he knew who it was. The boy trembled in fear. The preacher turned his face around so he could see the young man. The boy knew what the preacher was doing. He was going to make a guess as to who his father was. A moment later he said, “Well, boy, you’re a child of…” and he paused there. And the boy knew what was coming. He knew what the preacher was going to say, but instead, the preacher said, “Boy, you’re a child of God. I see a striking resemblance, boy.” Then he said, “Now, you go claim your inheritance.” The teenage boy left the church building a different person. In fact, that was really the beginning of that boy’s life.
Whenever anybody asked him, ‘Who’s your Daddy?’ he’d just tell them, ‘I’m a Child of God’.” The distinguished gentleman got up from the table and said, “Isn’t that a great story?”
The professor responded that it really was a great story! As the man turned to leave, he said, “You know, if that new preacher hadn’t told me that I was one of God’s children, I probably never would have amounted to anything!” And he walked away.
The seminary professor and his wife were stunned. He called the waitress over and asked her, “Do you know who that man was who just left that was sitting at our table?”
The waitress grinned and said, “Of course. Everybody here knows him. That’s Ben Hooper. He’s the former governor of Tennessee!”