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Thursday, February 17, 2022
A Bryce Canyon winter scene taken by our friend Howard Blichfeldt. Several years ago we hiked through the canyon on a path through this park.
"His Whole Family"
Message summary: You are all, whether or not we’ve ever seen you face to face, an important part of our family. We are connected not only through modern technology but we are joined together in spirit as through Jesus Christ we serve the same Father and follow Him according to the Scriptures. We are part of His whole family.
Listen to this message on your audio player.
“I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name” (Ephesians 3:14,15).
Throughout the years we have met many interesting people during the course of our ministry. When we were chaplains at Turkey Hill Dairy we met William and Joseph who were among the "Lost Boys" who had migrated as a group out of Sudan in the early 90's. They fled the horrific conditions imposed by Muslim persecutors from the north, lived in a refugee camp for many years and had come to the United States.
They told us about a segment from "60 Minutes" (a TV program) that documents this amazing "exodus." (Link below) It is surely one of the saddest stories of human suffering in history. We had them over for dinner and heard their story first hand. I recall their bewilderment at the very concept of finding any pleasure in camping. Forged by their own experience in "camping" they just couldn't comprehend why anyone would to do this for pleasure!
Presently through these Daily Encouragement messages we regularly hear from Moses and Jackline, who serve the Lord in South Sudan, although they are originally from Uganda. They have experienced so much persecution and opposition but convey such a sense of victory and faith.
There are a variety of ways and conditions people live in all around the world. Yet through faith in Christ we can all be part of God's whole family in every setting.
In our messages we often refer to our immediate family, the three of us who live together under one roof. Certainly our family includes our parents (now with the Lord), siblings and their families, and then extends to aunts and uncles (although many are now deceased) and we have cousins all over the world.
God's Word uses family in the sense of what is often called the nuclear family, beginning with Adam and Eve and their children. The term nuclear family confused me when I was younger since I associated nuclear with power and bombs. But at the time nuclear family was coined, the word "nuclear" had a meaning different than the way we often hear it used now (bombs and power plants). Its use is related to its parent word, nucleus, which has been a member of the language for 250 years. Just as the nucleus is at the center of the atom, the nuclear family is at the center of society. Nuclear family merely means "a couple and their dependent children, regarded as the basic social unit".
In the New Testament the sense of nuclear family is implied in verses such as 1 Timothy 3:4, "He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect". 1 Timothy 5:4 states, "But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God".
In today’s text Paul speaks of the “whole family”. For us this would include those whom we worship and fellowship within our own church, in previous churches, and in all our ministry associations including our chaplaincy and you, our faithful readers. Year by year our family continues to grow.
But Paul uses the phrase “whole family” in our daily verse to describe the entire church. The Greek for family patria is derived from the Greek for father pater. The word family in this context is a collective term for the descendants of the same father. God our Father has only one family. In the book of Revelation we see this described as "a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb" (Revelation 7:9).
The “whole family” includes all people of every race, from every country and from every time period who have bowed in submission to Jesus Christ. This family is composed of people in heaven and on earth. Thus it certainly includes all who have gone to be with the Lord, as well as believers still living from all around the world.
What a great joy to have family members all over the world. We enjoy hearing from many of you through email, including our international readers, who remind us of the great suffering many in our family experience.
Our family is not limited by any specific denominational affiliation. Too often these affiliations, which may be quite meaningful to us, can also be a hindrance to the richness of the “whole family”.
If you are a follower of Christ you’re a part of our family! Although we know a lot of people we only know a tiny, minuscule fraction of our whole family. An important perspective is that my kinship with fellow members of God’s family is greater than all other associations such as my national identity and in some cases even my blood relatives.
And you, whether or not we’ve ever seen you face to face, are all an important part of our family. We are connected not only through modern technology but we are joined together in spirit as through Jesus Christ we serve the same Father and follow Him according to the Scriptures. We are part of His whole family.
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we kneel before You, in whom all heaven and earth derives its name and pray that out of Your glorious riches we, as the body of Christ, will be strengthened with power through Your Spirit in our inner being. Unite us in spirit and strengthen us in purpose as we walk together upholding, defending, and proclaiming the Gospel message of Jesus Christ who saves to the uttermost. We pray for our brothers and sisters who are undergoing persecution because of their uncompromising belief. Remind us often, since we can’t see them, so that we support them in prayer and thought. When we all get to heaven what a time of rejoicing that will be when we see Jesus, when we unite with our brothers and sisters from every generation, from every tribe and nation, from every color and race, and from every tongue and dialect. It will be an experience beyond description so fill us with anticipation for later and anchor us through Jesus Christ for now as we await that blessed day of eternal hope. We pray in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.
See Ephesians 3:14
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Brooksyne's Note: Considering His whole family today I want to share a burden on my heart. On my way to choir rehearsal last night I was listening to Christian news and for the first time heard about two believers, Member of Parliament Paivi Rasanen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola, who are on trial for "hate crimes" due to their quoting from Scripture God's commands regarding sexuality. If they do not win their case they could face fines and even go to jail for two years. I couldn't get it off my mind during choir practice or even through the night as I began to intercede for them. I found this article that explains their situation. It is a 9 minute read and worthy of your attention to see how God is using their public stand for Christ to reach the unsaved. Here's a segment of Paivi's message: "The police also asked three times in each interrogation if I agreed to leave these teachings, in writing." No, she replied: "I stand behind the Bible, whatever the consequences are. For Christians, the Bible is the Word of God, and we must have the possibility of agreeing with it."
"People Of The Cross" Video Selah As you listen to “People of the Cross,” remember to pray for believers who suffer daily for their faith—and let’s stand as one together in Jesus Christ. Dedicated especially to Jackline and Moses.
"The Lost Boys" Video From the 60 Minutes program (Part 1) Watch for the testimony for the Lord. This should automatically continue to Part 2.
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Stephen & Brooksyne
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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