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June 13, 2010

Building Strong Friendships in Christ

God’s Choice Today

“knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you”

1 Thessalonians 1:4, Page 1846

       When I lived in Orange County in southern California, I enjoyed playing basketball in a city gym.  Sometimes, I would be the only white guy playing in there.  At other times, it would only be old white guys.  Nobody seemed to care about skin color, but rather they did care if you could play basketball.  You see, often more people would show up to play than the courts could handle.  So, the gym had a list and when your name came up on the list, you could pick your team, and then play until defeated.  It really mattered who you picked to be on your team.  If your team could win, then you could play on and on and on, until the team either quit or lost.

       Jesus emphasized to His original twelve disciples that they did not choose Him, but rather Jesus chose each of them, and He knew that one of them would be His betrayer (John 15:16, page 1686).  Jesus knew beforehand about Judas the betrayer (John 6:70-71, page 1667).  Jesus knew that He must be betrayed into the hands of sinners to fulfill the Scriptures (Matthew 26:24, page 1550).  Jesus told His disciples that He chose them so that they would bear fruit that would remain. 

       In 1 Thessalonians 1:4, Paul was praying and thinking about all of his believing friends in the church at Thessalonica.  He made three points in this verse we should consider carefully today.

       First, Paul thanks God that God chooses people to enter His family, so that they could be called “brethren.”  This term includes both males and females and refers to all the believers in the church at Thessalonica.  When I played basketball in California, we played for the fun of playing a few games together.  When God makes choices, He chooses you to enter His family eternally.  We all become brethren together.

       Second, Paul thanks God that He loved His children.  God chose you to enter His family because He loved you.  God the Father sent God the Son to die for His family, so that they could live together for eternity.  Right now, you can join God’s family by accepting the simple gift of salvation.  If you believe that Jesus died for all your sins, and you want God to forgive you, then He will.  You see, we do not know who God will choose to enter His family, but if you want to join, He will always welcome you to be on His family team.   You must believe that Jesus died for you and that He has forgiven your sins because He paid the price for them by dying on the cross.

      Third, God chose you.  Never for a moment think that you claimed your rightful place in God’s family. None of God’s family members earned their place there.  God chose sinners to be with Him for eternity, and so changed them by grace and faith to be new creatures in Christ, holy and beloved by God.  So, even your faith is a gift of God so that no one may boast that they did it themselves (Ephesians 2:8-9, page 1828).  But whoever wants to join God’s family will always be welcome.  Time, however, is short.  If you die without believing Christ has forgiven your sins, because He died for you, then it will be too late.

       So, let us review this verse again.  God says we all live together in one church, spread across the world, as one family chosen one at a time by God.  I should look around at my family, and really enjoy being with all my spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ.  Paul thought of them when he prayed, and so should we.

      

 Application for Today

        Today I will pray for my spiritual family and thank God for them.  My friends who grew up without knowing their human family seem to appreciate most having a spiritual family.  We live in Christ as an adopted family spanning thousands of years, and the whole earth.  Will you be thankful that God chose you and loved you today?  Will you be thankful that God chose so many other believers to be in His family?

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