I grew up singing a song in church called “The Family of God” written by Bill Gaither. The lyrics - “I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God, I've been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood! Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod, For I'm part of the family, the Family of God.” This is a feel good song that speaks of unity and fellowship with one another even if you don’t have a family. Families can be pretty close or they can be trouble as you may have seen in the news lately. You usually hear that family comes first no matter what and that is true until you look at what Jesus is telling us to do. When it comes to church, most will put family ahead of what God commands without even knowing it. Many think that God put us in families so our focus needs to be on them but Jesus says put Him first and everything else second. Now before you think I am saying the bible is against families; that is not the case. What God is against is putting anything or anyone in front of him.
                During this journey we have been talking about the miracles of Jesus and all that He did. We are also focusing on repentance because of the rebellion of the church and because the church looks nothing like Jesus nor does it do as he did. Jesus did amazing things almost everywhere he went. Mark 1:32 “That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.” The one place that He did very few miracles was in His hometown among His family. Mark 6:4 “Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” As amazing as it was, Jesus the Son of God, the healer of nations, 5 could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.” On another occasion Jesus family came to take charge of Him. Mark 3:21 “When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”  At the same time 22 the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
                When talking about the family of Jesus, the one who in this same chapter Mark 6:10 “had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. 11 Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God,” they refused to believe in Him. There is a lot said about family in the bible and we see lots of families in disagreement about God’s plan. Joseph was shown the future and ended up in a pit and sold as a slave and given up for dead. Even though this happened to him by his family, God’s plan prevailed and his family was saved. We do not wan to be like Jesus family and not believe.
                We see in scripture that family isn’t always peacefully in agreement in the pursuit of God’s plan. Jesus describes the family opposition to God’s plan in Matthew 10:34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Jesus also said, Luke 14:25 “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” That’s pretty intense but God demands total sacrifice and nothing can come between God and us.
                You might think this is a total rejection of the family but it is not. By totally committing to God and putting Him above all else, God will see your heart and bless you for it but your focus must still remain on Him. Mark 10:28 “Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Yes we have family but Jesus takes it a step further and describes the true meaning of the family of God. Mark 6:31 “Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” 33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. 34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” Jesus gives us a different meaning of family. If you are willing to put God first and follow His plan, He still has a plan for your family but there is a bigger plan that is beyond your family. Job lost everything and his family but in the end he said, Job 42:1 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. 4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ 5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes. 12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.” James 5:11 “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” When you look at what happened with Joseph, we see that God’s plan did prevail. Genesis 50:18 “His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. 19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children. And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”
                Even Jesus own family thought He was out of His mind but in the end, part of those in the upper room at Pentecost where His family. Acts 1:14 “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” The church today is not seeing the wonders described in scripture. I have read some really pathetic reasons why we are not seeing the wonders but what I didn’t see was repentance and pleading for God to turn His face back to us so that those wonders return. Lamentations 5:21 “Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old.” Habakkuk 3:2 “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” Jesus did not do many miracles in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own home. If we are truly going to be the family of God, no matter what Jesus must come first. When God sees your heart and you obey, He will bless you and His plan will prevail and nothing will be able to thwart it. God is looking for total obedience. Jesus said “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” Will you submit or will you continue to put your earthly family first?
                Yes we still have families but this new description of family changes everything. If we would focus on the family as Jesus described and believe, then miracles would flow again. So we have a choice. Focus on our earthly family or focus on serving God with everything we have and then watch His plan unfold like Joseph and the saving of his family. His plan will unfold because He has promised this to us. King Hezekiah said, 2 Chronicles 30:6 “People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. 8 Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. 9 If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” We join with Nehemiah and pray Nehemiah 1:5 “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.”
                Don’t be afraid to choose God first. He will keep His promise when you do. One final thought, do not be shocked when this happens.  Matthew 10:21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” So stand firm and see the plan of God unfold. Zephaniah 3:20 “At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes, says the Lord.”