Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Our First Family Reunion!

Remember those family reunions of summers gone by? Remember meeting your long lost aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces…not to mention those relatives “several times removed?” I always wondered who removed them and why? (I digress!) Keeping up with family members we rarely see can be challenging! What is NOT challenging is the fun, fellowship and love that we experience when we “all get together.” I remember the summer of 1977 when Nancy and I, married just 8 months, went to the Turnbull family reunion in Tacoma, WA. For the first time I understood the meaning of the word “slew,” as in, “a slew of relatives!” I also enjoyed for the first time fresh caught salmon cooked on a barbecue grill. What a feast! It was great! I’m sure you have had similar experiences. In many ways our families define who we are. More importantly, our spiritual family defines who we are, not only for now, but for all eternity!

We are, as Christians, all part of Abraham’s family as noted in Galatians 3:29: “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.” Pretty impressive! We can trace our family tree back some 4,000 years! The family of Abraham is the greatest family ever! What a blessing to be part of THAT family! When the family of Abraham, in the 3rd generation, had but 70 people…they had a reunion! What a reunion it was!

Because of the sin of the brothers of Joseph, the family had experienced decades of hurt, heartache and misery. Finally, when Judah and his brothers repented of the wrongs they had done to their brother by selling him into slavery and then lying about it to their father Jacob, the family was reunited down in Egypt! Joseph and Pharaoh treated our family to the very best Egypt had to offer…up to and including the entire land of Goshen! Three important lessons were experienced by God’s family (our family!) on that occasion, that repentance and obedience lead to God’s blessing, that thanksgiving is the key to God’s blessing and that we have all been given a ministry of blessing for others. Let's examine further:

1) REPENTANCE & OBEDIENCE LEAD TO GOD'S BLESSING - In Genesis 46 we learn that when Judah and his brothers repented of their sins against Joseph and Jacob, the blessings of God that had been dammed up for decades came gushing forth like water pouring through a broken dike! God took the family from famine to plenty, from the desert to Goshen and from guilt to forgiveness!

2) THANKSGIVING IS THE KEY TO GOD'S BLESSING - In Genesis 47:29-31 we find that the broken hearted Jacob, now at the end of his days, was finally able to worship God with a thankful heart. For years he had grieved his losses and his faith was blinded by circumstances. Now, after the repentance of his sons he could clearly see God’s will in his life and worshiped God upon learning that Joseph would grant his fondest wish…to be buried with the family in Canaan. He died 17 years later a thankful man.

3) GOD GIVES US ALL A MINISTRY OF BLESSING TO OTHERS - Finally, the family learns that their odyssey winds up being a blessing to them, to Pharaoh, to Egypt, to the entire known world at that time…and to all nations for all time! (Genesis 47:7-12) By preserving Jacob’s family through the faithfulness of Joseph, God sponsored this most wonderful family reunion! Through the suffering of the family of God, the family was preserved through the famine, the Egyptian nation was preserved through the famine and other nations were preserved through the famine. Most importantly, Judah was preserved for Jesus Christ to come into the world! In a most fascinating and wonderful way, God was thinking of you and I…way back then in our very first family reunion! You may ask, "Just what is my ministry of blessing today?" Jesus clearly tells us what it is in Matthew 28:1-20 - "All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." (ASV) The greatest thing about our "family reunion" is that we can invite any and everyone! Won't you join us at our next "reunion" next Lord's Day at the church of Christ? We will be looking for you!

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