Being a Child of God

Fear and Love for our Father

Sunday, October 2, 2022


good morning everyone

it's so good to be here with all of you uh I'm it's so exciting that we can be back it's been two three years since the last one and so much has happened and I think this Gathering is so important because I always forget just how many of us there are in New England and uh I think it's easy we stay in our own lane and with our own Ecclesia but it really is great to make the effort to be here so I hope everyone is able to enjoy the day enjoy the fellowship and and be encouraged

uh if you look at your programs it says that I'm from Meriden and that's kind of true but two months ago I moved to New York to just outside of New York City and I've been an unofficial member and attending the South Ozone Park meeting in Jamaica Queens but I've lived in Meriden for the last five years I'll always have a special place in my heart and I just want to extend the the love and the greetings of the wonderful brothers and sisters there and some were able to make it today which is really really special and it's such a wonderful group and there's also the Brooklyn meeting and the Manhattan meeting just recently started meeting in person and a lot of special things it's been great to be a part of that

so today our theme is being a child of God and there's two parts that we're going to explore so this morning right now I want to consider God as our father and what it means to fear Him alongside an unparalleled love like we're gonna look at a relationship and see how there's like these two opposite things that make up this beautiful relationship that we have and then this afternoon we're going to look at ourselves as children in God's family so we're going to look at you know what God really wants from us how he chooses that family how he how he got here and what that means for us and I'm looking forward to that

so this morning as mentioned let's think about the fear of God

what it means for us and in our daily lives

and I got onto this because growing up the fear of God was not something that I ever really thought about a whole lot

um when you're young and you're you're learning about about God and about our faith

um I think the focus and rightfully so is on the love that God has for us and we know that Jesus loves us and that's all we need to know because you know especially at that age that's that's what's important and that should never change and we need to hold that deer every day of our life

but as I've grown older I always knew that there was another pillar of God's character to consider and as christadelphians we make a point to remember both the goodness and the severity of God that's something that we we hold very strongly and so I asked myself do I Fear God

and ask yourself that like do you fear God what does that mean to you do you feel that

and for me it wasn't really in like an emotion that I associated in my relationship with God it's something I knew like logically I knew logically that you know he is all-powerful and and he has you know total control and his will will be done but it wasn't really something that I thought about or I didn't know how much it was actually affecting me every day and then as soon as I started looking for it I realized it's on nearly every page of the Bible and I kid you not like keep watching it and while you're reading you know in the future and it shows up almost every day during this study like friends would text me during you know the daily readings and did you see this one it's here again and like there it is and so I wanted to know more so this morning we're just going to answer some of the following questions and think about what is the fear of God actually how does this affect us and our Behavior how does it work together with the love that we also feel for our father and then finally how did Christ fear God you know that perfect picture that we can always look to

and at first glance just just before we we Dive In the fear of God can seem like it's it's something intimidating or something more somber and scary to talk about and while a piece of that is is true and I believe there is a real healthy trembling fear that we should have I think there's also so much comfort and joy to find in this topic and we'll Circle back to that but I hope you're able to um to find that comfort and that happiness in this

you know Proverbs 28 14 says happy is the man that feareth always but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief

so what is the fear of God

well we're commanded again and again to fear Him and I I again it is everywhere Psalm 34 11 says come O children listen to me I will teach you the fear of the Lord

I'm gonna pull up a fair amount of verses don't don't worry about these I'll just read them uh Leviticus 25 and verse 17. when commands are being given to the Israelites there's a there's a whole bunch of these commands verse 17 you shall not wrong one another but you shall fear your God for I am the Lord your God verse 36 take no interest from him or profit but fear your God that your brother may live beside you verse 43 you shall not rule over him ruthlessly but shall fear your God it's everywhere it's it's non-stop it's something that God really wants

but we need to Define what this actually means because I suggest to you that the fear of God is exactly as it sounds it's a literal healthy fear of him his power and the consequences of disappointing him the consequences of our own sin

and I say that because fearing God can be commonly linked with respect and reverence and when asked what does it mean to actually fear God a common answer and it's a common answer that I've given for a long time and I'll say you know it means to respect him to to Revere his power and that's definitely a Biblical concept like Hebrews 12 verse 28 says therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship with reverence and awe and that's fine and good but I just want to qualify that a little bit because it's important we don't lose the real emotion that comes from trembling before our God and our creator

you know I respect a lot of people that I don't fear or or Revere at the same time it's it's just a piece inside of the fear

Peter makes this distinction in his first letter he says in First Peter 2 17 honor everyone love the Brotherhood fear God honor the emperor this is a specific facet of our relationship with God and in the reading that we just pulled up that uh that brother Josh read for us Philippians 2 this is one of the most clear examples of what this actually should mean and what this should entail for us it says in Philippians 2 verse 12 therefore my beloved as you have always obeyed so now not only as in my presence but much more in my absence work out your own salvation with fear and trembling

for it is God who works in you both to Will and to work for his good pleasure

fear and trembling this isn't just respect and admiration this is this is being afraid this is fully understanding that God is more powerful in US

and of course this isn't blind or irrational fear this isn't fear of a sudden lashing out or of something that will surprise us or of some malevolent God that's not at all what this is

but so what are we fearing

well we're fearing the consequences of our own sin

We Fear our father and his Unstoppable power and the consequences of rejecting him and for this fear to make any sense we have to think of it in terms of ourselves as children of our loving and Powerful father

we're not afraid of an enemy who attends to to intends to hurt us nothing like that it's it's quite the opposite just as a relationship between an Earthly father and his children should be like ideally it's this deep and unending love paralleling at the same time high expectations of character

with discipline to correct when necessary to teach and to guide

and to a young child the father may as well have absolute power and for ourselves who are children of our father that is literally true

and this is a choice that we make each and every day and this is something that we learn and we develop

as we come to know God and his power and his purpose

now Solomon has a lot to say on this on the fear of God it's the backbone of Proverbs and it's the thesis of Ecclesiastes if you want to learn more about this those are two books to start with Proverbs 1 7 defines it in an interesting way it says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge

fools despise wisdom and instruction

the beginning of knowledge now that's I think that's a really interesting way to put it but if you think about it like that makes sense doesn't it a true understanding of of life and of our purpose it's impossible to find without first understanding that God is all-powerful and that all of his plans are going to come to pass true understanding will only come after we accept that

and a core piece of the Bible's message for us

is that we are to fear God and not man

and we're gonna get super real for just a second but I promise we're gonna bring it around quickly and we're gonna I really want to start diving into where this Comfort lies for us

Jesus makes it clear for us who we should fear and why

Matthew 10 28 reads this is Jesus speaking

do not fear Those Who Kill the body but cannot kill the soul rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and Body in the grave

he's essentially saying don't fear those that can kill you fear the one who can leave you there

and as sobering verses go this might win the award I mean this puts in context for us who really has the power with any meaning who we are really supposed to answer to but remember I promise at the beginning there's this there's this deep comfort that comes from this that comfort that comes from being fearful to God and it's right here in this same passage so I want to keep reading so I'm in Matthew 10. and I'm reading I'll read verse 28 again and and keep going because the context here is actually encouraging for us it says and do not fear Those Who Kill the body but cannot kill the soul rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and Body in the grave

are not Two Sparrows sold for a penny and not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your father but even the hairs of your head are all numbered

fear not therefore you are of more value than many sparrows

so everyone who acknowledges me before men I also will acknowledge before my father who is in heaven but whoever denies me before men I also will deny before my father who is in heaven

yes this verse is warning but so much more it's this incredible assurance that as long as we are within God's courts we don't have to be afraid of anything else he is on our side he is our loving father any other threat or problem is nothing before God anything else is completely irrelevant because God is an all-consuming fire and he watches over us and he has greater plans for us than we can ever imagine no matter what happens in this world

he loves us so deeply and he wants so badly for us to call on his name and when we do he promises he will be there for us my favorite chapter in the Bible and it's a it's a Psalm Psalm 34 has something to say and this is actually my favorite verse as well Psalm 34 and verse 7. says the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and delivers them

verse 8 O taste and see that the Lord is good blessed is the man who takes refuge in him o fear the lord you his Saints for those who fear Him have no lack

When We Fear God he takes care of us and this is where the Comfort can be seen

and time and again God is telling us that we should fear Him and only him the chaos that exists around us the threats are problems that might keep you up at night God assures us that we can look past those fears that our vision should be fixed on him

and everything else can be background noise it can fade out

and turning to Exodus this is really cool God was very intentional in teaching this very lesson to the Israelites

immediately following a very well-known section of Exodus Exodus 20 is all about the Ten Commandments and then there's this little story just after our story it's just the context of how this was being given that I never really focused on before but I think it's really meant to teach us a very very powerful lesson

so this is Exodus 20. The Ten Commandments have just been delivered and now if we look in verse 18 we can see that they're being delivered in a very dramatic fashion we look at the setting for this

Exodus 20 verse 18. now when all the people saw the Thunder and the flashes of lightning

and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking

the people were afraid and they trembled and they stood far off and said to Moses you speak to us and we will listen but do not let God speak to us lest we die

Moses said to the people do not fear for God has come to test you that the fear of him may be before you that you may not sin

the people stood far off while Moses Drew near to the thick Darkness where God was imagine this scene

imagine being there thunder lightning it's loud it's bone-shaking noise and intensity that can only produce be produced by God himself being there by you being in the presence of God this is fear and trembling at its most literal form and God is telling the Israelites do you feel my power I am the Lord your God and you are going to fear me you're going to be in the wilderness against the elements you're going to be completely reliant on my guidance your children are going to battle Nation after nation in a foreign land full of Giants are you going to fear them no you're going to fear me

my power is the only thing that matters to you and it should do two things it should one remind you not to sin which is what it says in verse 20. and it should also give you courage because I will be leading you into battle

are you seeing how the fear of God is our greatest strength and it's not just a measure of discipline when we fall in line behind our Lord this same power and majesty and intensity that that overwhelms us is also the very thing that's on our side that goes before us that's the confidence that we have

and just to look at one more passage to emphasize this point because this idea is seen all over the Bible I think there's no better example that I can think of than than Peter when he's walking on the water towards Jesus and this is in Matthew 14. starting at verse 26 and we're not going to debate right now whether or not Peter should have left the boat that's another discussion

but he did

and let's set the scene because I think the same lesson can be drawn out Matthew 14 and verse 26. imagine what's going on here you're on the ship there's storms you are rocking you are all convinced you're probably going to die it is hopeless it's terrifying it's that same intensity it's loud it's scary and then you look out and you see Jesus walking on the water and you're confused and you're also terrified because you don't even know that it's him you don't know what you're seeing and Peter he wants to do the impossible he wants to approach Jesus he wants to walk on the water in the midst of all this this chaos going on around

and so starting at verse 26 when the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified and said it is a ghost and they cried out in fear but immediately Jesus spoke to them saying take heart it is I do not be afraid and Peter answered him Lord if it is you command me to come to you on the water

he said come

so Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus but when he saw the wind he was afraid and beginning to sink he cried out Lord save me

and Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him saying owe you little faith why did you doubt and when they got into the boat the wind ceased

when Peter stepped out his vision was focused on Jesus his vision was ahead of him

and when he was doing that when he was focusing only on his Lord all of the chaos around him could Fade Out and become quiet and he was he was doing the impossible he was walking on the water

but as soon as he stopped focusing when his vision came off and he looked around and he saw the waves and the the noise and the and the wind and the storm and everything else that is when he fell that is when he started fearing something else other than his Lord Jesus that's when the problems came in and that's a lesson for us we have to keep that Vision focused directly on our father he's the only one we're to fear

and everything else can be dulled into the background

now we've talked a lot about what fear is but we need to address what it isn't because I think that this this fear that we talk about for our father that's that's a that's a healthy fear when done right but there is also an unhealthy fear and there's something that we should avoid and be careful of with this

see fear is a pillar of motivation and it helps us to to stay true to to God and to to watch our step and to make less mistakes and it's effective but science has something to tell us about fear and motivation and this really interests me I studied psychology in college and something that we talk about when it comes to motivating a person is that fear is a very bad long-term motivator

when you're afraid physiologically your body goes into fight-or-flight mode

so your heart starts beating your adrenaline gets going your nervous system gets activated and this is fantastic this is really important this is how God made us so that's when you have the Bear in front of you and you need to run for the Hills this system allows you to do that if you didn't have this you would not be ready to run when you needed to at a moment's notice so this is good

now here's the interesting thing our bodies don't discriminate when it comes to threats

the bear and the life-threatening situation we will respond the same to something that isn't life-threatening per se

so this can show up differently you know this could be more subtle and over a long period of time you might be worried over like a deadline in life at work or something that's been stressing you out for a while you're you're anxious over a problem facing a family member or or something else just something kind of out of your control or or

you're standing up to speak in front of a lovely group of people and you know and your body's in fight or flight mode like you are the bear I

as far as my body's concerned and so like I mentioned this is good and it's very helpful in the short term

but if you're experiencing this stress and this Readiness for a long time continuously your body cannot handle it like the muscles in your back will get tied up in knots your your neck muscles will constrict and spasm you'll be depleted physically and emotionally you'll just be exhausted you'll close up mentally put up walls to protect yourself you will burn out

and if that wasn't enough you may very well start to resent the thing that's causing you to feel this way you'll give anything to be out from under its thumb

and if you've ever worked at like a bad job with a boss that intimidated you you you might understand what this means it's it takes a physical toll on you

well so what's the point of this well this

shows us the need for a beautiful balance between our love of God and our fear of God and also a correct understanding of what that fear should be because if our relationship with our father is primarily based on fear of punishment and we're cowering because we we we're afraid of who he is and we're afraid to approach him because we're afraid of what he might do that's just an incorrect understanding and that will take a toll

we might generally cling to a strict lifestyle that adheres to his Commandments

at the end of the day our hearts won't actually want to do what he wants that is extrinsic motivation that is when we're just doing something because of an external Force that's making us we're seeking the intrinsic motivation that's when our heart is in it that's when we want to do something because it's we what we actually want to do that's the goal that's the love and the fear that God wants from us

it would be a tragedy if our understanding of who God was led us to be resentful and burn out under the pressure and we'd be missing the incredible incredible Sentiments of verses like Luke 12 32 which says fear not little flock it is your father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom

but the other half of the coin then is if we have a happy-go-lucky vision of who we think God is that we can live however we please we don't have to spend our days like seeking out what his will is and doing it we don't have to watch our behavior that God exists merely to reward and fulfill our selfish interests to be a sounding board for our requests and that we don't have to bother thanking him if that is how we perceive God that's its own tragedy and we'd be missing our true calling to actually be humble servants to do his will to live a certain way

and just as Moses expressed to the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 13 and verse 4 you shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him and keep his Commandments and obey his voice and you shall serve him and hold fast to him

and so this is that beautiful balance that we should seek this this incredible deep relationship with our God and our father that is made deeper when we have both pillars both elements active

and so finally if we want a good example of what that relationship should look like obviously we don't have to look any further than our lord Jesus who were about to remember in just a moment with these emblems

there's a beautiful verse that we have to address because this will help us shift our minds to Jesus and also it's an important verse that kind of weighs in on this topic and it can be a little bit confusing at first glance

and it's first John 4 and 18. and this is the one that says there is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear for fear has to do with punishment and whoever fears has not been perfected in love now on the surface this reverse may suggest that fear is like a bad thing and it's an undesirable characteristic and it's not something that we should have and it's only something that we feel if we don't have enough love for God but I don't think that's correct because remember that all the verses that we've referenced so far are still true

um fear is something that God wants us to have and it's something that works for our benefit and for our comfort but here John is speaking of perfect love

the kind that we have when 100 of our transgressions have been forgiven by Jesus this is something that we will experience in the kingdom when we no longer have to fear the consequences of sin that is when that fear will be cast out

because let me ask you this did Jesus fear God

I think yes absolutely

and and the Bible tells us he did we don't have to guess Hebrews 5 verses 7 and 8 say who in the days of his flesh this is referring to Christ when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death and was heard in that he feared

though he were a son yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered now Christ was sinless he had no reason to fear the consequences of God but remember fearing God is that choice it is an understanding and a trembling at his power and the knowledge that his plan is going to be worked out and we know Jesus feared God for for other reasons as well Solomon told us in Proverbs that fear is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom and I mean Luke 2 and verse 52 this is referring to Jesus when he was young says Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man of course he feared God and he did it in the most healthy and beautiful and perfect way possible

and In The Garden of Gethsemane when he was at his lowest and he was struggling with what was about to happen it was his deep love for his father and desire to carry out his will that helped him get through the toughest task

every part of him when it just wished that he could be free from the trials ahead ultimately he continually prayed that your will be done and not my own he deeply wanted his father's will to be done and tying back to those pillars of motivation if if Christ had this incorrect understanding that he was only acting out of fear of consequence if he didn't obey I don't think he would have been able to follow through with that ultimate and perfect sacrifice he would have broken under the pressure he would not have been able to do such an incredible thing

but of course he was motivated by that love and healthy fear of God

he had his vision focused clear the background could noise could phase out and God was the only one he had to fear and nothing that man could do

so let's leave here today with that Vision focused directly on our father

no matter what the headlines say or no matter what might be going on in our lives we know that it is nothing else that we have to fear and Only Our God

he's the only one worth our attention Psalm 56 verse 11 says in God I trust I shall not be afraid what shall man do to me

and the last piece that I think is so awesome when it comes to the Comfort that is in this fear is if we love God and we fear God and we're afraid of the consequences of what will happen if we reject him that means we trust him that means we believe him that means we believe that his word is going to come true and that his plan will be realized When We Fear God it's an acknowledgment of our own faith

and by making that decision to fear God and to be wrapped in his Loving Care we have that beautiful Trust

and joy and peace

so Focus now on this Bread and Wine showing our lord Jesus and his unshakable vision that he kept on our father he's our perfect example that we never stop looking to and look forward to serving him in the Kingdom

The Family of God

Original URL   Sunday, October 2, 2022


I've really enjoyed today uh it was just uh last week that we were um a short distance from here like a 15 minute drive we were at the Prindle Pond Conference Center for our New England cyc weekend uh and we really had such a great weekend and to almost continue this year and to to be together in such a great atmosphere I'm just the heart is so full and it's been such a good experience and so very thankful for these these opportunities that we have

um also it's good to say hello to all of you and if you know before you go if we haven't said hi like please uh please let's make a point too

um so this morning

we've talked about being a child of God and in the education we looked at God as our father and how he is one that we want to respect honor love and fear

and this afternoon we're going to con continue under a similar vein we're still talking about ourselves as children of God

but because this is the Fraternal I really wanted to take a take the afternoon to um ourselves as a family and consider God's relationship with us as a family at whole

and if I asked you just before we we dive into this what does God want

like what does God actually want what is his purpose what is he seeking you know this let's go big picture uh you you could say of many different things and all right answers

um for one God wants obedience from us that's pretty easy like Deuteronomy 11 1 you shall therefore love the Lord your God and keep his charge his statutes his rules his Commandments always

um he once prays from us for his his power and His Majesty he wants thankfulness uh he wants willing hearts

he wants us to call on his name he wants all of these things and I heard something this year that

changed just a little bit how I think of what God wants it kind of opened my eyes it was like something new something I hadn't thought of before and that

is that God wants to grow his family

that's what he wants and I think that's a really special thing because that's almost a little bit more tangible we can like we can look directly at that and consider ourselves and say okay we're trying to be new family members of God

and so that's what I want to do this afternoon so first I want to look at the fact that God does want to grow his family and explore this theme just a little bit in the Bible obviously we can only scratch the surface and then I want to look at how God actually elects his family members how he chooses them because the Bible also makes this clear for us we don't have to guess at that either

um and then at the end um we'll just we'll just talk and I just uh we'll go for the practically like what does this mean for us um how does this affect us and the takeaway I hope you have is just that our calling is it's a true blessing and it's it's a true privilege to have and we should be motivated to to share it and we also need to be willing to open that family

so to begin exploring this theme of God wanting a family we have to go back to the beginning again

and we're going to go back to Genesis 1 verse 26. very very well read verse

and this is God speaking during the creation process and he said then God said let us make man in our image after our likeness

and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the Earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the Earth so God created man in his own image in the image of God he created him male and female he created them

so let us make man in our image after our likeness this is really cool because imagine this from the perspective of those at the beginning you have God and you have his angels this is like God's family at the time and they're intentionally creating Humanity you and I to reflect them were meant to be similar we're meant to be an extension of them we're not like totally different animals and we're not we're not totally separate we are an extension of them like that's awesome and this isn't the only place that we're told the angels that were there um this shows up again in job 38 and I'll just read that job 38 verse 4. he and he's talking about uh you know at back at creation where were you when I laid the foundation of the Earth tell me if you have understanding who determined its measurements surely you know or who stretched the line upon it on what were its bases sunk or who laid its Cornerstone when the morning Stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for Joy imagine that you're back at we're at the creation God and his family they are shouting for Joy at our own creation because we are like new family members in a sense not quite yet but that's what the goal is we're like pre-angels which I think is a fun way to think about it and I mean the language is consistent throughout the whole Bible that the family of God in in the Ecclesia are meant to be real parts of our walk the Ecclesia is supposed to be that family of God and we know that of course we refer to ourselves as a family all the time like in first Timothy 3 verse 14 and 15. Paul writes in his first letter to Timothy I I hope to come to you soon but I am writing these things to you so that if I delay you may know how one ought behave in the household of God which is the Church of the Living God pillar and buttress of the truth

and the key difference obviously between us and the angels in terms of our role currently in God's family is we still have that fleshly nature and we have that choice that we have to make each and every day to fear Him and to heed that call that is something we can wake up and decide and we and we must

and so this all ties together in Luke

when Jesus is speaking about our status then in the Kingdom after Christ returns and he's talking about this specifically when he's answering the the marriage and the kingdom question that's what this the context is here uh and that's Luke 20 and verse 36 where he says for they cannot die anymore because they are equal to angels and are sons of God being sons of the Resurrection in the Kingdom will be equal to these very Angels who were there at our creation and were being created to reflect them like that's so cool and it's incredible and beautiful how it all comes together

but until then we wake up every day with that choice

and Jesus defines for us clearly in the Bible what it means for us to actually be a member of the family of God it's very straightforward and what it means for us to choose to be in God's family and that's in Mark three

he defines

that being in the family of God means doing his will and I'll just read this section because it's like as plain language as it can possibly get this is Mark 3 verses 31 through 35. and so he's preaching in the house and then his Earthly family comes to the house and they want to speak with him so he's saying and his mother and his brothers came and standing outside they sent to him and called him and a crowd was sitting around him and they said to him your mother and your brothers are outside seeking you

and he answered them who are my mother and my brothers and looking about at those who sat around him he said here are my mother and my brothers for whoever does the will of God he is my brother my sister and my mother

now another part of this uh

the job that we have is being family members is we have to be open to new family members that is a big part of our role and for what one reason or another not everyone in the Bible actually shared this mission of growing God's family you know this one very well it's someone who was called by God to preach to a nation a nation full of enemies of Israel that this person did not want to see God's grace extended to and when he finally extended God's message and they repented

Jonah 3 verse 10 when God saw what they did how they turned from their evil way God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them and he did not do it but it displeased Jonah exceedingly and he was angry

and he prayed to the Lord and said O Lord is not this what I said when I was yet in my country that is why I made haste to flee to tarshish for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and relenting from disaster

so Jonah did not want to open those doors he did not want to bring new members into the family

you can sympathize with his reasons these were enemies of Israel these were this was this was quite the nation that God was asking him to go and preach to and he knew that God calls who he he calls and that his grace can be extended

as far as the ends of the Earth and that is what he didn't want because he was he just could not fathom that they would be welcome in as well

and so now that we've established a bit of like this is God's desire to grow his family and a bit more of what it actually means for us who are here let's look now at how God actually elects his family because he chooses his family members very intentionally and it's quite cool and it's something that can give us a lot of like confidence and comfort and if we ever doubt our um worthiness to be here or or calling to be here just know like God chose each person here specifically and that's awesome

and God shows us from very early on that his ways are greater than our ways his thoughts are greater than our thoughts and he's going to choose who he calls to work with and not us and it's not random and it's not for us to weigh in on and so to show this

we're going to go back to Genesis and we're going to look closely at the origins of Israel God's chosen Nation because the way in which God selected Abraham Isaac and Jacob I had never realized but I think it's really meant to teach us a lesson a lesson that I had never noticed before so we're going to be flipping through Genesis a little bit I'm going to start in Genesis 11. Genesis 11 26. because when I had thought of the origins of of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob you know the forefathers of Israel the the fathers of the very promises that we are baptized into I thought that

I just kind of assumed there was a little bit more of a reason or maybe of like an intentionality that that they earned or or they gathered out of character or a showing of faith and I'm not entirely sure that's actually the case which is quite cool so if we go to 11 and verse 26 we are introduced to Abraham we have Tara and his three sons so it says when Tara had lived 70 years he fathered Abram nahor and heron

so right away we're not told that Abram is special we just have Abram and his two brothers Scott has not chosen a family who he's going to work with yet and we aren't told anything else about these people so then continuing on Genesis 11 and verse 29 we're told a bit more about the family at the time and Abram and nehor took wives the name of Abram's wife was Serie I and the name of nahur's wife milka the daughter of heron the father of milka and izko now Syria was Barren she had no children

and Tara took Abram his son and lot the son of Heron his grandson and Syria his daughter-in-law his son Abram's wife and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan so we're given some basic information here about

about Abraham about his family but what I want you to notice is that we're actually not told very much about them we're not given any character traits and we're not given anything anything in terms of future potential we have Abraham and his wife Sarah Baron

nehor and his wife milka no child but presumably not bear and then we have Heron who already has a child lot

this is who we're picking from so now if you were going to make the call

on who to make the promises to and who to choose to start the nation who do you pick from from this list that I'm signing up here for you

Abraham and Sarah are Barren they're not the obvious First Choice they're not the Easy Choice they're not the choice that makes sense nehor and milka why was it not nehor and Isaac and Jacob

we're not we don't know because because the thing is is God chose Abraham specifically for his own reasons he is so intentional and I think that's really cool and then if we look in uh chapter 12 we're going to see this actual call happen so it says now the Lord said to Abram go from your country in your Kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you and I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you and make your name great so that you will be a blessing I will bless those who bless you and him who dishonors you I will curse and in you all the families of the Earth shall be blessed

so Abraham is chosen to be in God's family and to be the forefather of God's family

now who's going to be next so Abram is confused and he's stressed about this because he also knows that he is Barren he was not his own first choice for this he's super excited and him and Sariah are so grateful and and they're ecstatic they're like they want to see this come true so badly but he is stressed

so later on in Genesis 15 he says oh Lord God what will you give me for I continue childless in the air of my house is Eleazar of Damascus and Abram said behold you have given me no Offspring and a member of my household will be my heir

and behold the word of the Lord came to him this man shall not be your Heir your very own son shall be your heir so if he's like is this coming true through this guy Eliezer

I still don't understand how this is coming true this is he's worried he's anxious because he's so excited but he doesn't understand and God says no your own son will be your Heir trust me

in the next chapter It's Sarah's turn to be upset and stressed and nervous and Confused

so she is like

God says it's going to be your son

I'll find a way here is my maidservant have a son your own son and we can solve this problem and we can make sure these promises come true so then Abraham has a son with Hagar and now we have Ishmael

and how does Abram respond to this

well he loves Ishmael this is his son we don't have to think that he didn't desperately want Ishmael to succeed he absolutely did but God says to him in this chapter no

you don't pick who I work with you don't make this decision for me I choose who is in my family he says the promises are going to come true through your son with your wife Sarah

and how does Abraham respond Genesis 17 and verse 18 I never noticed this and Abraham said to God oh that Ishmael might live before you

he's pleading he wants Ishmael to be the one so bad

but God says no and then in the next verses

he's God says Sarah your wife shall bear you a son you shall call his name Isaac I will establish my Covenant with him as an Everlasting Covenant for his offspring after him so Isaac is chosen over Ishmael

because God makes the choice and not humans on this Earth

so now we have Abraham and we have Isaac

and now move on we have Isaac and his wife Rebecca and she is pregnant with twins this is in verse chapter 25 verses 21 to 23. so we have one more selection to make for the Patriarchs

and I'll just read this Genesis 25 21 Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife because she was barren

and the Lord granted his prayer and Rebecca his wife conceived the children struggled within her and she said if it is thus why is this happening to me so she went to inquire of the Lord and the Lord said to her two nations are in your womb and two peoples from within you shall be divided the one shall be stronger than the other the older Shall Serve the younger

so before the children were even born

God ordained that the older would serve the younger that Esau would serve Jacob

now who in the family is traditionally going to receive the inheritance and be the chosen one to carry on that family line that tradition has said since the beginning of people as the firstborn we know that

but God doesn't care about that tradition and that that um that human thinking

each step of the way here he's going to reject that and he's going to make a very intentional choice

and we also know then that Jacob is going to go on to achieve success over his brother through lies and deceit and unsavory things

and these were unjust circumstances in which Jacob would act first he he coaxed Esau into giving up his Birthright he played Esau when he was weak and then later under Rebecca's guidance he pretended to be Esau and he lied to his father in order to receive his Blessing Isaac loved Esau he wanted and tried to bless Esau

if they had their choice or Isaac had his choice he had chosen Esau

and it's not because Jacob was a better person or or he did something great to deserve it this is just to show God's glory God chose him specifically for this purpose

so I think that's awesome how you see with Abraham Isaac and Jacob how intentional each one of them was to be chosen by God despite the more logical choices in Abraham's case despite the pleading and just the the begging for a different Choice when it came to Isaac and then despite any characteristics actions or acts of faith

God chose Jacob without anything of those involved and no human tradition there either and I think that's really awesome because that is a big big lesson for us and also an encouraging thing for us

but what's going on here so we actually need to turn to Romans 9 which was our reading

because this is one of those cases where the Bible

interprets itself

and it's super cool if you ever listen to

um Jim Styles's classes on the election of God he's so passionate about this point that

um that look no no stone is left unturned in the Bible and we have a specific explanation here

which I think is really cool so Paul is writing and he's explaining God's selection of his family in the context of Jews and Gentiles obviously one of the hottest debates and challenges to the first century ecclesias and the faith at the time in the New Testament the Jews struggle to understand that the faith was opened up and it just created so many challenges and problems that ecclesias had to really dig deep to work through and so I'll start in Romans 9 at verse 6. and we'll get an explanation here all we need to know about why God chose who he chose and why God chooses who he chooses

but it is not as though the word of God has failed for not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring but through Isaac shall your Offspring be named this means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God but the children of the promise are counted as offspring for this is what the promise said about this time next year I will return and Sarah shall have a son and not only so but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man our forefather Isaac and here's the key though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad in order that God's purpose of election might continue not because of works but because of him who calls

she was told the older will serve the younger as it is written Jacob I loved but Esau I hate it also another way to say that would be Jacob I have chosen and Esau I have rejected

there was nothing that they did to deserve choosing God is very clear that this has nothing to do with their own righteousness or accomplishments and we know that but he chose them that God's purpose of election might continue

and I think that's really really important to understand because the same goes for us you know if we read this and feel that this is unjust or maybe you want more of an explanation and the next verse is address that directly so continuing on right where we stopped in Romans 9 verse 14. what shall we say then is there Injustice on God's part by no means

for he says to Moses I will have mercy on whom I have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion

so then it depends not on human will or exertion but on God who has Mercy

for the scripture says to Pharaoh for this very purpose I have raised you up that I might show my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the Earth so then he has Mercy on whomever he wills and he hardens whoever he Wills

you will say to me then why does he still find fault for who can resist his will but who are you o man to answer back to God will what does molded say to its Mulder why have you made me like this like these might be some of the most humility producing verses there are and it really invokes the the fear and the awe that we have for our father that we talked about this morning but in the best way these verses directly relate to each one of us the only ones who approach God are those who have been called and called intentionally and it's not about us and it's not about what we've done or the future potential we have

it's just that we have been called and given a chance by God

and Jesus makes this point throughout the gospels and it's really quite cool and in John 6 in verse 37 he says all that the father gives me will come to me and whoever comes to me I will never cast out

verse 44 no one can come to me unless the father who sent me draws him and I will raise him up on the last day and he said this is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the father like do you see what this is saying the fact that any of us know who God is and are even here today is because God chose each person special

God has given that chance he has called and that does not mean

that we don't have to answer that call and there's not responsibility on our part we absolutely do

but God knows each one of us and he did it exactly where we are in exactly the life circumstances we came in with these skills and abilities that each one of us have

and he chose us to answer the call and I think that's really really incredible

and we can be the mechanism

that God calls others to his name which is really really special

so yes God is choosing who to call and and when and that makes our Commandments to preach all the more relevant because

God can work through us to deliver that call Matthew 10 verse 7 says

and Proclaim as you go saying the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand

I planted that's the next verse First Corinthians 3 verses 6 and 7 says I planted Apollo's watered but God gave the growth so neither he who plants nor he who Waters is anything but only God who gives the growth

God chooses God calls and it can be through us and he chooses whom he calls and it's not for us to decide and I think that's really incredible and encouraging for us as well because

we know that God has chosen US Special to be here

so Switching gears now

what does this actually mean for us like how does this have an impact on us and when do we face

decisions like this

for one because God has called us special because the only reason we are here is because God extended his hand personally I think that gives us

the motivation to pass it on to others this Faith isn't something that we've found per se it's not something that we've earned it's not something that we've come up with it's something that has been entrusted to us

and something that we should be passing on

we're not in these walls because we deserve it any more than anyone else we're not here

because of works or of what we're capable of we're here because God decided we should be called and we would be good family members and so we need to see that as an opportunity to keep extending this this isn't just for us it's for everyone who God might possibly be calling

and by extension I think an important takeaway here is

that we need to be open to having new people come to be in God's family you know we just talked about Jonah who he had been called by God and he was working for God and he was in God's family as his child but he did not want to extend that same Grace and that same opportunity to others


we might say well okay like I sympathize with his reasoning but at the end of the day you know of course we want more people to come of course come one come all the Ecclesia is an Open Door and absolutely and I think that's an awesome mindset and we need to keep that

but I think also it's actually harder to do it's easier said than done so we have to be ready

and so let me tell you what I mean so

the psychology behind groups of people is really interesting This falls in a branch of psychology known as social social psychology you know how we interact with each other and the thing with us as humans is we love to be part of a group we fundamentally want to fit in we want a community to be a part of so we're always subconsciously grouping ourselves and this isn't a bad thing it's just a part of who we are as people so if you're at a baseball game for example and you're surrounded by other fans and you're all wearing like the hats and the jerseys together it's like fun and you feel connected with those around you and then someone on your team hits a home run and everyone celebrates and then you see Strangers Like high-fiving and hugging and just like getting all invested in it and so how does that actually happen how do you end up with strangers doing that well because they have that thing in common they feel like they're in a group you trust them more and you feel comfortable with them because of what you know you have and that shared identity is really really powerful you feel a kinship with others and a bond with them and you can do this with all different things you might feel that kinship or connection with someone if you're from the same city or small town if you both have the same hobby if you both have some kind of shared history you say we have something in common that others don't we are in this group I like you like I feel close to you and comfortable with you

and you might be protective of those people and that's really really cool

and this leads us to act in certain ways so we can be exclusive then towards those outside

of the group or even hostile during these same baseball games it's not terribly uncommon to see fans of different teams like get in a fight and have to be removed for no reason other than they're wearing the wrong jerseys and they think you we are not in the same group we don't like each other now and it's obviously very silly and superficial but you see how powerful these forces can be on us

so does that ever hit our ecclesial life ever does that ever

is that ever something we have to Grapple with and the answer I believe is yes the longer you're a part of an Ecclesia the more and more comfortable you get with the people in it and it really does feel like a family just to go to meeting many of you in this room have been a part of your ecclesias for like decades you know I was born into an Ecclesia and these people around you are all you know and you get very very comfortable and the thing is it can be uncomfortable to welcome new people into that family into that group when the dynamic changes and you have to put yourself out of your comfort zone

and there's a very specific crystadelphian example we can point to where the the limits of this have been tested and are being tested and some of you may very well know the example I want to talk about now just for a little bit um that is the transformation that the ecclesias in the UK have been undergoing for the last five to ten years I've already talked meriden's ear off of this and I I think the majority of you have know what this is all about but what has been going on there to catch you up to speed is refugees from Iran have been coming in droves to the ecclesias in the United Kingdom

and they're coming to learn the truth and to find a community and like tons and tons of people have been baptized and there are huge amounts of new brothers and sisters and if you read the letters from christophian magazines or online updates you'll see that there's a bunch of baptisms like every single Sunday for new family members and you need to understand like the sheer scale that this is happening this is completely changing a collegial life this isn't just a couple of new faces like here and there like many many ecclesias I consistently have 10 to 20 visitors uh and a whole bunch of newly baptized brothers and sisters some in like Manchester in the north of the country they're they had good sized ecclesias and they've since doubled it's just a massive transformation I was fortunate to spend a few months with the Finsbury Park Ecclesia in in North London last year around this time and I got to know a number of these like amazing people and they're the most excited authentic individuals who just want to learn and contribute and to give you a sense of how big this can be the recording brother there one Sunday morning he he came up excitedly and he said that he just got a message from the East Ham Ecclesia in uh in East London and he said guess how many people are attending this meeting this morning for context East ham is in Ecclesia with eight four and four eight elderly

English brothers and sisters

her 150 people at this meeting this October morning just one year ago imagine you were in a Collegiate of eight people and now you are an Ecclesia of 150 who all just want to learn the truth and just be a part of things and don't speak English

and how like how

mind-blowing is that I've never heard of anything like that and so you can imagine the demand that is required of us sometimes in these ecclesias to actually answer that call to be welcoming so in this specific case

one of the major hurdles is the language barrier like the Persian language also known as Farsi is very different and it's not written in the English alphabet it's written in its own script it's it's a polar opposite language and there's little to no prior English knowledge coming from Iran and there's very few Farsi speakers already in the UK ecclesias and this means that everything has to be transformed to accommodate this

prayers need to be translated line by line through a translator exhortations if they're going to reach half the room need to be translated thought by thought so you have one Podium here for a speaker and another Podium and Mike there for a translator imagine just how different that has to be and now ecclesial emails and announcements if they're going to be worth anything have to be translated and culturally we're talking about two two groups of people with such vastly different backgrounds

most of the a lot of the people coming from Iran are fleeing for religious reasons that once they they found Christianity coming from their Muslim background they had to flee for one reason or another being rejected from families communities the government their lives literally being at risk and then having to run across Europe sometimes taking years only to get to the UK where they have nothing and risk being sent back during this long and uncertain Asylum process like this is the this is the context for the people coming to the door they have there's the needs are so high the care and compassion necessary is so great

this isn't as simple as here's a chair welcome new person I hope you enjoy this is a full-time job to be there for these new people

and fortunately so many ecclesias have responded to this call

as best they can and many ecclesiases have adapted their services and their homes and their collegial dinners and more to be welcoming and to be a rest from all the problems that are going on outside of those walls

and it's amazing and encouraging but due to those same challenges and other sentiments not everyone has been so willing to open their doors not every Ecclesia

has been able to be that open home for new people to come to

some argue against the authenticity of those coming to attend saying it's for like selfish reasons or to strengthen their Asylum case some are unwilling just to make changes because of the sheer amount of like change and work it takes to to have a duel a bilingual service I mean that's intense that does a lot of work and that change is something that we've some of us have known our entire life

and there's even other sentiments that pop up like Ecclesia life has become about them and not about us

and I'm not commenting on any

individual case here um but you can imagine and you might even sympathize with some of those things and some of those things certainly need to be addressed but the point is is that this is hard

it's hard to open the doors it's hard to be welcoming it's hard to grow the family like we want to say without skipping a beat that we want to grow God's family and we want more people in our ecclesias but when it comes down to it it's not easy

and I love this example and I talk about it a lot because

I believe it shows the best of what our community can be that when the need is there to grow and to be put out of our comfort zone the response is there and people are willing and people are literally coming to the Ecclesia

with nothing and in need of a home they can find one that is awesome

you know so when our ecclesia's in New England are given that same call whatever it might look like like are we ready are we actually ready to do what we need to do to be welcoming no matter how how new and uncomfortable and fresh and demanding it is

am I ready

I'd like to believe the answer is yes

all right I have time for I'll just tell Just One More Story um

the the Iranian example in the UK that is a that is a macro example of a time when we might be faced with this but obviously that is a very very unique and special case and it's not something that is going to happen every day there's also we have to be open to Growing God's family on an individual basis you know preaching the word to those around us and being willing to have new people come to our ecclesias or our homes

um and I share this story because uh it was it has happened to me a couple weeks ago and it was death it's a time where I noticed that I need to grow and I have to be ready and it makes me laugh a little bit uh basically I was at a barber shop in New York a couple weeks ago and a new place I had never met this guy he's super nice super nice he's this like gentle giant type he has the build the hair and the face of Jason Momoa if that's interesting to you and we were talking about whatever and I mentioned that I was busy this week preparing for an upcoming youth gathering for my church referring to uh Prindle Pond which just happened last weekend and he got really excited he said you know like oh I go to church what church do you go to like I coordinate my my youth group as well and so we talked about that and he said

like send me the information like I'd love to come and bring a group of teens to this this weekend you're putting on

I said you know I'm sitting there in the chair hair half done


never had this offer before


um and I believe the right answer is an enthusiastic yes absolutely here's the info it'd be awesome to have you and I did extend that but internally especially in the moment I was uncomfortable like I knew that I had some growing to do because I really want to be able to offer that and be ready for that like whenever needed

and we may all react differently but I share this maybe some of you can relate like in in the moment what's going through my head is I'd be really excited to have them come but it's gonna be out of my comfort zone and it's going to take some work and definite energy on my part so for one like the list of attendees was pretty much only people that I already knew and also already knew Christadelphian norms and doctrines uh it's a very comfortable environment it's easy

and so when they come in my mind I get uncomfortable because I'll have to do things like explain that the emblems on Sunday are for baptized members of our community and so you're super welcome but please don't touch and I'll have to do my part to introduce them around and make sure you know they're having a good time and are being well received and I gotta be thinking about that and I'll need to make sure the venue can accommodate them like the list has already been done last week whatever and then you know what happens then when Nate Susie gets up for his classes and is like we don't go to heaven when we die and I'll look over and I'll see six young jaws drop to the floor and I'll have to run over and explain to them and to Jason Momoa that don't be scared we have something good the kingdom

and obviously none of those are a big deal at all

but they do take time and energy and it's not comfortable necessarily

and we got to be ready and I'll say this we did have a couple of people come to the weekends who are uh very new to the christophian community and they're such an addition like the best of the best and it was the coolest thing to have them and it's so worth it and I think they're going to do amazing things for God and I I hope that's within our community for sure

and the end to the stories is it didn't end up working out uh logistically like Massachusetts was very far away on a short notice for for him and these kids but maybe in the future um

but that's just the example are are we ready to grow God's family to take on that mission because God chooses who he chooses specifically and it's not for us to question or argue with

the minute that I start deciding based on my comfort levels who and who is not welcome in this Ecclesia is the minute that the Ecclesia becomes an exclusive Social Club instead of a place where people can come to find God and to be at home and

you can't do that it is not that is a failing if I'm to be in the way of someone like that


be ready to go grow God's family be ready to be the mechanism with which he calls new people our calling is a is a true blessing granted to us and we have to be ready and willing to share it

um and I thank you all for for your listening today and it's been such a great day to spend with each of you uh I hope you get home safe and God be with you till we meet again