Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Abundant Joy: Family, The Legacy left to me

Family is one of those words that when mentioned in a crowd of people, you are sure to find a vast difference in what comes to mind to each person there. Legacy is a word that people either misunderstand, find intimidating or know and greatly value. God's original family was created in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. But, we all know how long the ideal lasted and how much the ideal family structure has deteriorated over time.

When I looked up the definition of legacy in Webster's dictionary, the first definition was in regards to receiving a gift of monetary value. Interesting, because I am quite certain that in God's idea of us leaving a legacy, He had in mind the second definition of ancestors passing on to future generations, the knowledge and foresight they had been given. After all, what do we find in Deuteronomy 6:4-8?

  • Hear, O Israel: The Lord your God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your hear. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they be as frontlets between your eyes."
Regardless of what kind of legacy you were left, none of it will be wasted. As we learned in our last study, God has had a plan for you since before you were even created. He has not overlooked any of the details and is aware of what is in your past. All He asks is that you trust Him and allow Him to use what you have been given as a part of your testimony to His goodness in your life.

How would you answer these two important questions from your childhood:
1. Was I loved?
2. Could I have my own way?

The combination of the answers you have to these two questions can have more than likely had a profound effect on your life. I am currently reading Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel and he speaks of three inner needs that every child desires to have met:
  • A Significant Purpose
  • A Sincere Love
  • A Strong Hope
Why? Because the three aspects provide a strong foundation for one's maturing in their trust of a Holy and Sovereign God. Now, I do not know what kind of legacy you were left by your family, but we are going to take some time and look at two important responses we must have in focus when processing and living with that legacy.

Ephesians 4:29-5:1 What words seem significant to you from these verses?
Paul is writing in context about the shedding of your old self and the putting on of the new self; which is in the likeness of God. Here in these verses he encourages us to "let all put away from you" and to "forgive just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."

Bitterness is a steady harboring that poisons the whole inner man. It will rob you of joy and wreak havoc in homes. Instead in Psalm 133:1, we are encouraged to dwell in unity. When evaluating our legacy, an array of emotions can surface, but we must remember to filter them through the lens of Truth and not act on them alone. Harboring bitterness grieves the Holy Spirit who dwells in our heart and we lose the joy of our salvation. It also grieves the Son of God who gave His life for us and our Heavenly Father who loves us and desires us to be walking a life that honors and pleases Him.

Unforgiveness is Satan's playground, and too often Christians turn it into a battleground. Satan wants a foothold because he desires to use that which may be a shortcoming in our family legacy as a stumbling block to our faith. God wants us to forgive with an attitude that is gracious.
  • Forgiveness is choosing to deny a transgression (name it) the power to adversely affect my relationship with the transgressor (name him/her).
Through Christ we have the ability to forgive and then move forward to having a heart of gratefulness. We know that nothing is wasted with God, therefore we can have confidence in the hope Christ alone provides. He will use our story, if we let Him.

Colossians 3:12-15. We are reminded that we are chosen and must put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We must bear with one another and forgive, for love is the perfect bond of unity. Then we are encouraged to let the peace of Christ rule (or umpire every circumstance in life) in our heart.

Forgiveness and gratefulness alone are an extraordinary witness to the work of God in our lives when it comes to overcoming difficult circumstances that we did not choose for ourselves. You have been carefully watched over by God and He will give you the ability to live that honors Him, regardless of what you bring along with you.

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