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Walk the Walk - Remember Where You Came From

Walk the Walk  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Adoption on the practical and theological levels.

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Remember Where You Came From

Intro - [at some point put the disclaimer out there that this isn’t just about children…to listen to sermon on multiple levels. Literal and Metaphorical.]
So when I was approached by one of the social workers working with us about possibly speaking about adoption today as part of a area wide effort to raise awareness for adoption and foster care, I immediately said yes. I said yes, BECAUSE of the literal and metaphorical implications for each and every one of us.
I also did so because of the great need. [read facts from handout]
…and that is just local! Nationally, the situation is just as dire, if not more so. The last publically available US Health and Human Services report on foster and adoptive children, completed in 2015, shows that there were 427,190 children who were in some sort of foster care. That includes group homes and families. Of those roughly 1/2 million children, 112,820 are eligible, and waiting, to be adopted. And that year, only 53,549 were adopted.
Almost 60,000 children, or an average of 1200 per state are left unadopted every year. That is a wholly beatable figure, church, especially given that so many our nation has so many Christians in it. The problem is, not enough people are stepping up. That same year, when those 60,000 children are recycled in the system, they were joined by 269,509 other children who were put into the system.
As it was the year before. And the year before that. More than a 1/4 million per year are added while the rates of perspective adoptive and foster families remains the same.
Why do I say all that? Well apart from being important to know, it informs us as to how we should react. You see, of those children who go unadopted, 20% will become homeless. 20 percent. Only 1/2 of them will be employed by the age of 24. Less than 3% of them will get a college degree. And for the females, 71% will be pregnant by 21.
You want to change the world church? Start with our children. Especially those children without a home.
Lets do that together now as we hear our text today from James 1:27.
James 1:27 NIV
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
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Pray
pichere(people graduating??)
[story about graduating and then going off to Army....end it with title] BE BRIEF!!!
So when I was a kid
Remember where you came from
Maybe some of you remember family saying, “remember your raising,” or something else similar. No matter what the phrase, though, it seems like one of the last pieces of advice we get as adults can be boiled down as “down forget your life before this moment.”
And this is an important sentiment, because honestly, the implications of it echo throughout our lives whether we know it or not!
You see, when we pass on that little adage, in whatever form we pass it, we aren’t saying that you are perfect and will therefore do perfect things! Even though, honestly, that is what most kids think we are saying - I know I thought that. But we aren’t saying that. Whether we know it or not, we are setting the stage for a far bigger truth in their lives! And that truth is this:
Don’t forget the good times.
Don’t forget the bad times.
Don’t forget the failures.
Don’t forget your successes.
But above all that - Don’t forget how we loved you through it all, and will always love you. No matter what.
That’s what we are saying really. I mean sure, we don’t want them to mess up, and a part of us thinks that if they only remember every single word we ever spoke to them that they will magically succeed in live, but we know that isn’t the truth.
Just don’t forget all those moments spent together. Hold on tightly to dreams we shared - to laughing until we cry, and crying until we laugh. To the nights when fear made you sleep in your parents beds, and the times when our fear as parents kept us up all night. Don’t ever lose the sense of self you have in our house. Don’t ever lose your love for playing, or imagining. Everything you have ever been, while you have been with us, is what you can be in this world!
That is what we want you to hear. That is what we mean.
James 1:27 NIV
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
If you forget everything else, don’t ever forget that. That is what family is all about. That is what we are all about in our house.
Remember where you came from.
pichere
But there is a negative side to that phrase too, isn’t there?
I was the first person in my family to graduate from college. And I can remember a couple of them, after I got my Bachelor’s degree ask what I was going to do. I told them I would go on to graduate school.
I can remember one of them, an uncle, looked at me and said:
When did we ourselves forget where we come from, grown ups?
“Don’t get above your raising”
Don’t get above your raising. Know your place! You may think that you can do that, but you can’t, or at least you shouldn’t!
Believe it or not, this is a really important question for us. Honestly it is! And it effects almost every part of our lives, not just our family situation!
[storyhere]?
[talk about total mentality? Caring for those who can’t care for themselves? Imitating God?]
[eventually mention the negatives of the phrase? Don’t get above your raising. know your place? may be good to frame that against the child of God stuff? Maybe like:
That is what the world tells us sometimes, church. “Know your place!” Don’t think that you will climb that ladder to worldly success, you are a woman, or you are a minority, or you are an orphan! You aren’t able to get there because if you really remembered where you came from you would back down. Just accept what this life has given you and don’t ever try to be more than what you are right now.
But that’s a lie.
We need to remember where we came from. Do you remember? Do you remember being loved beyond measure? Do you remember that no matter what you have done you could be forgiven just by saying the word? Do you remember always having someone to talk to? Do you remember being calmed in your worst fears? Do you remember being filled with joy and feeling like the world was perfect? Do your remember being told that you can be and do anything you want to do, because you are special and you are loved?
Well no matter where we came from, no matter our family situation, there were moments, no matter how few, that we all felt those things.
We all felt them, because we are all adopted children of God.
Galatians 4:4–7 NIV
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
How quickly we forget though. How quickly we let this world, and its negativity trample down the hope that is born in every human heart; the hope of adoption into God’s family.
We sit and let the evil one, or the world, Satan, whatever label you want to give it, we let those things convince us of a lie! That we aren’t wanted, and that others shouldn’t be wanted. That we aren’t valuable and loved. That we are worthless.
But we can’t give in to that.
Every one of them, a good and perfect gift, sent down to this world to help reflect God’s light for all to see. Every child we see, they are all an opportunity given to us that we might give them some memory, some moment that can sustain them - that can point them to God in some way.
Listen, God sent His Son into this world. His Son who through pain and struggle, had to remember where He came from! His Son, who felt the pain of the distance from the Father. His Son, who built a bridge so that everyone in this world could choose to cross over and be with Him, unhindered by class or position! He is the way. In Him is our life. He has laid out the path for everyone of us to be adopted into his family!
He alone is where we come from. And He alone is the one we should strive to live and act like.
Matthew 18:5 NIV
And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
He is the one, in fact, who has shown us the greatest example of how to love the world around us - as a family.
But out there, in the world, there are people, children, who don’t remember where they come from. They don’t know what their family looks like, or who they belong to. And let me tell you, if you don’t get the opportunity to feel love, and know what the love of a family feels like, you stand a slim chance of ever knowing what the love of your Heavenly Father feels like.
Adoptionwriteup
That is why adoption is such an important part of our collective theological identity. That is why the authors of the New Testament dwell on it so much. Biblical adoption is a necessary step towards justification by Christ. And as important, it is, for God and us, the legal method by which we are placed with our family! We are adopted as sons and daughters of God BECAUSE God paid the price to get us! And God paid that price, BECAUSE HE DESPERATELY WANTED US TO FEEL LOVED AND TO BE WITH HIM! And that is the exact example that we are called to follow in this world church!
pichere
As you know our family is in the early stages of the Adoption process. So this text really hits home for me. More than just this text, really, but this whole idea.
It all comes back to the difficult question raised throughout James. What is the point of our faith? Is it there just for our salvation? Does it serve some other purpose in our lives?
And like I talked about last week, they are both right. But even so, I wonder if we get the words wrong. I mean, faith isn’t salvation. Salvation is Salvation! Christ died for us, all His children! All those who believe in Him. Claiming sonship and daughter-ship with Him is salvation.
But faith, is something else. Faith is confidence in what we hope for, and the assurance of things not seen, the author of Hebrews says.
But that isn’t all. Faith is the fuel for our action. He goes on to talk about how, by faith, Abel brought a better offering. And how by faith, Noah built an ark. By faith, Abraham went to the place he was called, and by faith, he offered up his son as a sacrifice to God!
By faith Moses’ parents hid him in a basket and then sent him down the river. By faith Moses refused to be treated like royalty and chose to be treated as a slave! By faith the Jews passed through the Red Sea as on dry land! By faith the wall of Jericho fell! By faith servants of God walked through fire, and the mouths of lions were shut! By faith the Disciples choose to follow Christ, and by faith they walked in His ways and were martyred!
What more can we really say? You see, it is only by faith that we can ever hope to become what God calls us to be! And as important, it is BECAUSE of that faith that we profess that we are called to care for this world around us! To help instill in it, in any way we can, the same love and nurturing that a parent gives a child - that God gives to each and every one of His children!
pichere(people helping people)
Church, we have been put here for a reason, and that reason is not for ourselves alone. If it were there would be no Bible. There would be no church. It would have all died out 2000 years ago. No we are here for others. For this world. We are here to make sure that every child that is born knows that no matter what this life might bring, no matter what they might face, that there is a God in Heaven, there is a Creator of all things, that loves them beyond measure! There is a place, the place they really come from, that is waiting for them! There is a Father who wants nothing more than to run out to them with open arms ready to bring them back into the inheritance set aside for all those to believe!
But the only way, the absolute only way, they will ever know it is if you show them! We must love them like our own! We must care for them! We must give them homes that they will one day leave - but all the same, homes that tell them “remember where you came from!” You might not have been birthed by us, but you were born for us!
Church it is through our example that we change this world! It is through our example that we make the world understand that there is a God that is waiting for them! An eternal family they belong to! And if our religion, our faith, is worth anything, then we will put aside our useless additions to it, and do what Jesus tells us to do! We will listen to scripture, we will take to heart what God in flesh does and says!
As a dear church member told me last week. Any confusion about scripture, or I would add, God’s will, can be summed up in two words.
Copy Christ
When we hear Jesus tell us that we must enter like a child, or that we should help children see Christ, or through His Spirit hear James’ words to care for orphans and widows, those most marginalized by this world, how on earth can we feel like our faith is real if we don’t listen?
REMEMBER WHERE YOU CAME FROM! REMEMBER WHO YOU WERE BEFORE CHRIST! REMEMBER THE PAIN, REMEMBER THE HARD TIMES, REMEMBER THE LONELINESS! REMEMBER THEM, AND THEN BECAUSE OF BEING SAVED FROM IT, DO YOU BEST TO MAKE SURE THAT NO ONE ELSE HAS TO FEEL THAT! REMEMBER TO LOVE THE UNLOVED! REMEMBER TO BUILD UP THE WEAK! REMEMBER TO CARE FOR THE AFFLICTED AND POOR! REMEMBER THAT GOD NEEDS THE STRONG TO HOLD UP THE WEAK, AND THAT ONE DAY, CHURCH, WHETHER WE WANT TO ADMIT IT OR NOT, ONE DAY WE WILL BE THE WEAK, AND IN THAT MOMENT WE WILL FIND THE CULMINATION OF OUR FAITH; THE SUM TOTAL OF THE SOULS WE HELD UP IN OUR LIVES, THOSE WHO WERE IN SOME WAY OUR CHILDREN, THEY WILL HOLD US UP AND CARE FOR US JUST AS WE CARED FOR THEM!
EVERY MOMENT, EVERY INVESTMENT, EVERY SECOND OF LOVE AND AFFECTION GIVEN, EVERY ONCE OF ENERGY WE COULD EVER GIVE REMINDS THOSE WE CARE FOR OF WHAT THIS LIFE IS REALLY ALL ABOUT! WE LIVE FOR CHRIST, WE LIVE FOR HIS CREATION! WE LIVE FOR HIS WILL AND TO SHOW HIS LOVE!
We are created to help each other know God, and knowing God let’s us help each other.
Listen, we might not have been birthed by God, but we are all born for Him! He is our father! His creation is our home, and we are all His children.
Likewise, we might not have been birthed by God, but we are all born for Him! He is our family! He is our home!
I remember a story that hit the news just as I was called here. It was about a boy in Tampa named Davion Only. Davion was an orphan. He had been given up at birth and had made his was through at least 30 foster homes in his first 15 years of life. He had no family. No center. Little hope.
Then his mother, who had been in jail, his only connection left on this planet, died.
Desparate for a family, and for hope, Davion decided to speak at his church. They were preaching that day on caring for orphans, just as we are. And Davion got up there after the sermon to give his testimony.
He spoke about his trails. He spoke about how hard life in the foster care system can be. He spoke about how badly he needed, and wanted a family to love him. And church, this young man stood in that sanctuary with nothing to his name, nothing in his life, and he begged them - “I just want to be wanted,” he said. “I’ll take anyone. Old or young. Black or white. Mom or Dad.”
Will someone here just love me and give me a family.
pictureofcongregationfrom pulpit
And as he stared into the silence, he realized that they wouldn’t. No one would step forward and claim him.
So he said.
“I know God hasn’t given up on me, so I’m not giving up either.”
“I know God hasn’t given up on me, so I’m not giving up either.”
Church, neither can we.
We can’t give up trying to reflect Christ in this world. We can’t just give up accept the world as we see it, or even blame others for the sad state they might be in. We can’t be apathetic! “Religion that is pure and blameless before God is this,” take care of orphans and widows. Look out for those who are most marginalized. Take a stand against the pain of this world for others! Go all in for Christ, and the world around you!
VOLUNTEER WHEN YOU CAN! SUPPORT OUR SCHOOLS! GIVE BACK TO OUR LOCAL SOUP KITCHENS, MEALS ON WHEELS, OR OTHER OUTREACH! FOCUS YOUR LIFE NOT ON WHAT YOU WANT OR NEED, BUT ON WHAT THE WORLD AROUND YOU MIGHT NEED! AND IF YOU ARE SO LED, AND HAVE THE ABILITY, TAKE THAT PLUNGE AND BRING INTO YOUR LIFE, A CHILD THAT IS LOOKING ONLY FOR ONE SHOT, ONE OPPORTUNITY! ONE CHANCE TO LOVE AND BE LOVED! ALL THEY NEED IS FOR US TO SEE CHRIST IN THEM! TO SEE THE MIRACLE THAT THEY ARE, AND WHAT WE CAN BE FOR THEM! AND IF WE JUST GIVE IN TO THAT MIRACLE, WE WILL SEE THEM MIRACULOUSLY BECOME A PART OF GOD’S PLAN FOR THIS WORLD!
We will see them become a part of us. What they were always meant to be.
Romans 8:14–16 NIV
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
The Spirit of God that lives in you, isn’t a spirit of fear, church. Don’t give in to that spirit. Give in to God and follow where He leads you. There is a world out there waiting for you, just you, to step in and fill the gap. To be the presence of Christ, and to love beyond borders. Remember that Spirit church. Remember where you come from. That is the only way to get to where you want to go, and where God needs you to go.
Remember it church, and you
Invitation
What a gift you can give. What a gift you get in return.
James 1:17 NIV
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
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