Yesterday at Revolution Church, I preached from Ephesians 5:1 – 14 about how God being our Father is a good thing and what it means for God to adopt us into His family. How that happens and why that is one of the most beautiful things in Scripture.
We also personally dedicated Nehemiah in the service and I was able to talk about why we adopted Nehemiah and what that means for us as a picture of the gospel in our world.
If you missed it, you can listen to it here.
At the end of my sermon, I talked about a practice I do of writing letters to our kids. When they were born and each year at their birthday, I write them a letter. This letter chronicles the life of our family in the past year, what happened to them, what new things they did or discovered, how I see God moving in their life and some prayers I have for them.
My plan is to give them these letters when they turn 18 as a way of telling their life story through my lens, a history of sorts. My prayer is that it helps to give them an identity and ground them.
I wrote a letter this week to Nehemiah because of the dedication, but also because this morning we finalized our adoption of him. I wanted to let him know of this special day. I had a hard time not crying as I read the letter.
Here it is:
Today is a special day. You are 5 months old and today your mom and I dedicated you at our church. The purpose of this moment is very important to us, it signifies our desire to raise you in a way that honors God, praying that he will turn your heart towards his and you will follow him.
This is an overwhelming task to be sure.
It is also special for a personal reason. On the day that we did this, I had the opportunity preach on the topic of adoption. Not just adopting you to be a part of our family, but how and why God adopts us to be a part of His family.
I know one day, you’ll have a lot of questions about who you are. While this is normal for every teenager, you will have an added layer because of being adopted. My prayer for you is that Jesus will change your heart in such a way that your adoption is not a negative aspect of who you are. I know one day you’ll wonder why you had to be adopted, why we adopted you and not another child.
It is easy we’ve been told for adopted children to carry a chip on their shoulder towards their parents. Wondering if they need to perform to gain their love, keep their love, because they are adopted. I can tell you this is normal, but you don’t need to worry about that. As I was thinking about the sermon I gave at Revolution the day we dedicated you, we do the same thing with God. He has adopted us, yet we wonder if we need to perform to gain his love, to keep his love, because he has adopted us.
At Revolution, when a parent dedicates a child, they read a passage that is their prayer for their child or signifies something about the child.
We read Ephesians 1:3 – 6 that says:
Blessed the be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love, he predestined us for adoption, as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
The reason we chose that passage for you sums up our prayer for you and God’s plan for each person who follows him.
You may one day feel like an accident, feel like you were unwanted, wonder if your adoption was real, if the love your mom and I have for you is real. In the same way, many times, people who follow Jesus wonder the same things. Is my salvation real? Does God really love me like he says he does? Wondering if they are wanted or if they need to perform for God to love them, to keep on loving them.
Ephesians 1 says no. It says that your life is not an accident. The circumstances that surrounded your life are not accidental. Instead, they were planned by God to bring you the place he wants you, the place where you can bring the most glory to Him. First, through our adoption of you, and one day, God willing, through your adoption into his family.
The 2 key words in that passage besides the word adoption, is “in love” and “predestined.” Our adoption for you is out of love, not pity. We didn’t feel sorry for you. Instead, your mom and I know we are adopted by God and because of that, see how in Scripture we are called to live out this beautiful picture of his love by adopting. This is in love. I know as a parent, there will be a time when you are 16 that I will go back to this verse and remind myself that God adopted me out of love and I adopted you out of love. That’s okay, I signed up for that. I’m ready and as long as I’m bigger than you, I’ll win.
The other word, right after we’re told that God acts out of love is that he predestined us. He chose us. This passage says that before God created anything, he began a plan to redeem you Nehemiah, began pursuing you before you were born. Your life, the circumstances surrounding it are not an accident.
Finally, Nehemiah, my prayer for you has to do with what I said that morning. That you would be an imitator. I’m sure a piece of you will want to blaze your own trail. I’m that way so I’m confident I’ll raise you the same.
I told our church on the morning of your dedication that as a follower of Jesus, as a beloved child of God that we are to be imitators of our Father in Heaven. I pray that you grow up knowing you are a beloved child of God, a beloved child of your mom and I and that this love, this grace, this pursuit by your Father in Heaven defines who you are. Not your past, not your circumstances, not what you feel you are, but what Scripture says you are. That not only did we pursue you to join our family, but God pursues you to be a part of His family.
November 18, 2012