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     Sermons | Passionate worship

    This sermon was preached by Pastor Keith Cardwell at Swift Presbyterian Church.

    May 30, 2021 | Trinity Sunday

    Family, Not Slaves
    Romans 8:12–17

     K IPLINGER MAGAZINE posted an online article about estate planning. The article stated what I had already read in other magazines and news stories.

    The title says it all: “Time To Face Reality: Your Kids Don’t Want Your Stuff!” Your collection of Hummels, model trains, baseball cards, (insert your collectible here) is your hobby and passion. Your children or grandchildren are probably not interested in them.

    We are sorting through dinnerware at our house. We have Lisa’s mom’s milk glass plates and accessories. We have my grandmother’s china given by my uncle when he returned from Okinawa in the early 1960s. We have German china from when Lisa lived there in the mid-’80s. Then we have fine china that every couple purchased when they married. None of which we use. I suspect none of our heirs have any interest in them.

    † † †

    ACCORDING TO PAUL, we are God’s children by the spirit of adoption. We are part of God’s family. Forever. That’s good news. (Say “Amen.”)

    Everyone longs to be part of a family. There are many types of families represented in this room. Birth family, adoptive family, stepfamily, foster family, institutional family. Family determines so much of who we are, whether we’re talking genes or experience, family of origin or the people we now call family. We are all part of a family. That is something we all have experienced.

    We are part of the family of God. Washed in the fountain. Filled with the Spirit. And being part of the family, we are also heirs. And not just heirs, but joint heirs with Jesus.

    † † †

    STOP FOR JUST A MOMENT and think about what Paul is saying. God considers us equal inheritors with Christ of all God has to give. God passes to us the same great and valuable, life-giving stuff God grants to his Son, Jesus. That’s good news. (Say “Amen.”)

    We have inherited God’s gracious gift for us. We have inherited God’s love and grace. We have inherited presence and strength. As children of God and therefore heirs, we have received new life. We have all that God offers. Bounties beyond measure.

    But (there always seems to be a “but”) how easy it is to reject this blessed inheritance.

    † † †

    WHEN LISA AND I asked our children what of our wonderful, glorious, valuable stuff they particularly wanted, the answer fit in line with the Kiplinger article. Nothing. Well, there is the framed puzzle of Norman Rockwell’s “Family Grace.” It has hung in the dining room of every home we’ve lived in.

    Now it’s certainly OK to reject my gardening tools or Lisa’s Precious Moments figurines, but it’s another thing to reject the inheritance of God. To do so is to live “in the spirit of slavery” rather than the “spirit of adoption.”

    Now I, we, have no idea what it is like to live as a slave. You and I cannot conceive of the dehumanizing hardship of being owned by someone else. We do know what it is to be an employee. (I don’t equate these at all, but it’s as close as I can come up with that we mostly can relate to.) We can be let go at any time, without any reason. We must constantly prove our “worth.” Employees are disposable, underpaid, unappreciated.

    † † †

    WE SING ABOUT the gift of “Amazing Grace” but deep down we figure we are saved through “Trust and Obey.”

    We fear God will reject us. Afraid that God undervalues us. Alarmed that God demands ongoing proof of our worthiness of his love and grace. Frightened God is a demanding taskmaster.

    Consequently, we live in fear of God. We act like a slave, like an employee, not like an heir.

    † † †

    PAUL DESCRIBES the difference it makes to be a child of God and an heir to all God’s goodness. Imagine a life of courage, a life of confidence. Envision a life where you, and those around you, are welcomed into the full measure of God’s blessings.

    God does not say we can hang around as long as we do right. No! God says that we are part of the family now and forever, no matter what. That’s good news. (Say “Amen.”)

    Ponder this good news and its life-giving meaning for you as Jenni softly plays “The Family of God.”

    † † †

    WHAT DIFFERENCE does it make to know you are unconditionally loved? That you have immeasurable value in God’s eyes? That no matter what to do — or is done to you — and no matter where you go, God always loves you and cares about you?

    Hearing this incredibly expansive and jaw-dropping promise that we are all born anew through the Spirit and declared co-heirs with Christ, what decisions might you make this week, knowing you have God’s unconditional love and confidence?

    — Keith Cardwell   

    «We have inherited God’s gracious gift for us. We have inherited God’s love and grace. We have inherited presence and strength. As children of God and therefore heirs, we have received new life. We have all that God offers. Bounties beyond measure.»


    ►This is the Word of God for the people of God:

    Romans 8:12–17
    Holy Bible, New International Version

    12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation — but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

    14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 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.[a] And by him we cry, “Abba,[b] Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

    — This is the Word of the Lord.
    — Thanks be to God.


       a.  Romans 8:15  The Greek word for adoption to sonship is a term referring to the full legal standing of an adopted male heir in Roman culture; also in verse 23.
       b.  Romans 8:15  Aramaic for father

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    Foley, AL 36535
    Phone: (251) 943-8367


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