God's Spiritual Family: Will You Be in the Picture?

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God's Spiritual Family

Will You Be in the Picture?

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A favorite picture of mine sits on a small table in my office. It's a framed photo of my lovely wife Linda, taken just a few months after our wedding in September 1979. Since that time we've snapped many family pictures. They fill our photo albums and dot the walls in our home. We love looking at those photographs, and I appreciate seeing my special picture of Linda nearly every day.

You probably also have family photos that you cherish and enjoy sharing with others. Maybe it's of you with your newborn baby, or maybe your family at a high school graduation.

While photos like these are often greatly prized, there is one "family picture" God would like you to enjoy more than any other. It's not one you can hang on the wall, display on a table or put in a photo album. But it's just as real. What is that picture? It's a spiritual picture of the coming divine family of God.

Your incredible purpose and destiny

The Bible reveals that long before God created the first human beings, He planned to add children to His spiritual family (Genesis 1:26 Genesis 1:26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
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). While beginning His creation with physical beings, God will miraculously transform every individual who loves and obeys Him into a spiritual being (Philippians 3:21 Philippians 3:21Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like to his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things to himself.
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This means you were born for an incredible purpose. Your destiny is to share in the "glory and honor" of your divine Father (Hebrews 2:7 Hebrews 2:7You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor, and did set him over the works of your hands:
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). His intense desire is that you choose to live and serve with Him and your elder brother Jesus Christ, as a member of Their divine household (Psalms 8:5 Psalms 8:5For you have made him a little lower than the angels, and have crowned him with glory and honor.
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; John 1:12 John 1:12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
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). In other words, God wants you to be in His family picture! (For more on your destiny, be sure to read "The Mystery of Human Existence: Why Are You Here?".)

When you as a child of God are gloriously transformed at the time of the resurrection, you will be "filled with all the fullness of God" and know the "love of Christ which passes knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19 Ephesians 3:19And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.
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). Upon this spiritual birth into God's family you will inherit His very likeness, nature and character (Romans 8:29 Romans 8:29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
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; Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
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What will it be like in His family when He raises you to His level of existence? Unlike troubled homes today, there will be no dysfunction then in God's family. Every member of His divine household will work together and enjoy each other's company in complete peace and harmony (Isaiah 9:7 Isaiah 9:7Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from now on even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
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; Isaiah 32:17 Isaiah 32:17And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
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). Can you imagine such a delightful picture? Your heavenly Father desires that you would value this coming "family portrait" more than any earthly interest, activity or purpose (see Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
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God's faithful forerunners

In fact, this portrayal of God's divine family was what highly energized and motivated biblical figures such as Noah, Joseph, Moses, Hannah, Daniel, Ezekiel and many others. Knowing that their physical lives were temporary, these righteous men and women hungered deeply for the permanence of their eternal spiritual life with God.

Speaking of these faithful forerunners, we read: "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them" (Hebrews 11:13-16 Hebrews 11:13-16 [13] These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. [14] For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. [15] And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from where they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. [16] But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: why God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city.
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These righteous individuals stayed passionately devoted to God even as they encountered suffering and travail. They looked far beyond their mortal lives to picture their radiant spiritual future in God's promised Kingdom and family.

How you can remain faithful

What about you? Can you grasp the same vision? Since God is offering you the opportunity to be part of His spiritual family forever, what choice will you make? If you decide to follow God, how can you remain faithful while facing life's troubles in this age of unrighteousness? The answer should be no different for you than it was for those who came before us in the faith. You must clearly picture yourself in God's coming "family photo" and never allow it go out of focus (Hebrews 12:1 Hebrews 12:1Why seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
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A physical photo can kindle memories of satisfying earlier times while igniting hope for happy days ahead, and God's spiritual family picture does something similar. The biblical record provides you with prior virtuous human examples. It also shows you how to live successfully now, while promising you a bright, joyful future beyond today (Psalms 16:11 Psalms 16:11You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures for ever more.
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In looking to the past, you have the perfect model to emulate in Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus was the Creator who faithful men and women of old worshipped and obeyed (see John 1:1-3 John 1:1-3 [1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] The same was in the beginning with God. [3] All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
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, John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
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; Ephesians 3:9 Ephesians 3:9And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
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; Colossians 1:16-17 Colossians 1:16-17 [16] For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: [17] And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
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; 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 [1] Moreover, brothers, I would not that you should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; [2] And were all baptized to Moses in the cloud and in the sea; [3] And did all eat the same spiritual meat; [4] And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
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). Christ came to earth as a human being to show you not only the path to spiritual salvation, but also how to live a meaningful physical life today. He said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10 John 10:10The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
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Living by every word of God

Your perfect Designer knows exactly how you should live so as to obtain every blessing imaginable (3 John 2). His Word, the Bible, is like an "instruction manual" for your life. To live well now and be glorified in His family later, God wants you to make wise choices today (Deuteronomy 30:19 Deuteronomy 30:19I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live:
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He wants you to repent of sin and live by Jesus' example of righteous obedience to His Father (John 15:10 John 15:10If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
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). In this regard, let's look at a statement Christ made that explains how you can put His character into practice.

Before He began His earthly ministry, Jesus fasted 40 days in the Judean wilderness. He was tempted by the devil at this time. In the first temptation, Satan challenged Jesus to feed Himself by miraculously changing stones into bread. What was Christ's insightful response? "It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'" (Matthew 4:4 Matthew 4:4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
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, emphasis added throughout).

What Jesus said, quoting a passage He had earlier inspired in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 8:3 Deuteronomy 8:3And he humbled you, and suffered you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you knew not, neither did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD does man live.
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), focuses on what you can do to live in a way that pleases God. How do you spend your time? What motivates you—spiritual things or material things? Jesus asked these same questions one day as He and His disciples visited two sisters, Mary and Martha, in their home (Luke 10:38 Luke 10:38Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
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While Mary sat and listened carefully to Christ's teachings, Martha was busy serving her guests. She was overwhelmed with the work and complained to Jesus that she needed her sister's help. It seems like a reasonable request. But notice Jesus' response: "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:41-42 Luke 10:41-42 [41] And Jesus answered and said to her, Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things: [42] But one thing is needful: and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
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Your spiritual and physical priorities

Jesus' point was that what is spiritual and eternal is most important. His followers must prioritize their lives properly. It's another way of saying, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
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A critical element in living a fruitful, joyful life now, as you prepare to enter God's Kingdom later, is to make that Kingdom your number one goal. God wants you to build and maintain a close relationship with Him through constant prayer and Bible study, always obeying Him (1 Peter 3:12 1 Peter 3:12For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
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; 2 Timothy 2:15 2 Timothy 2:15Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
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). He also wants you to grow in grace and knowledge as you unselfishly serve others (2 Peter 3:18 2 Peter 3:18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
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; Galatians 5:14 Galatians 5:14For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
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Jesus said: "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him" (John 4:23 John 4:23But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him.
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). You have the remarkable opportunity to fulfill Christ's words at this time (Ephesians 1:18 Ephesians 1:18The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
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). For many others, their chance will occur after His second coming in the wonderful, new peaceful age of His Kingdom (2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
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; 1 Timothy 2:3-4 1 Timothy 2:3-4 [3] For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; [4] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
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For thousands of years the world has struggled under satanic rebellion, deception and oppression. But after Jesus returns to earth in awesome glory to intervene in human affairs, He will put an end to every evil (Matthew 25:31 Matthew 25:31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory:
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An awesome future awaits

Mankind's evil rule, influenced by Satan, will ultimately be replaced with Jesus' righteous leadership (Matthew 24:30 Matthew 24:30And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
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; Revelation 11:15 Revelation 11:15And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
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). At the same time, Satan and his demons will be imprisoned in "the blackness of darkness" (Revelation 20:1-2 Revelation 20:1-2 [1] And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. [2] And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
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; Jude 13). At that moment the world will, at last, be freed from its long, wearisome captivity to ignorance, violence and wickedness (Romans 8:21 Romans 8:21Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
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This will also be when God's spiritual family begins to save the world at large. At the time of Christ's arrival His faithful servants, either living then or resurrected from the dead if they've died, will be transformed into immortal spirit beings. They will be clothed in stunning glory and granted everlasting life (Psalms 93:1 Psalms 93:1The LORD reigns, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, with which he has girded himself: the world also is established, that it cannot be moved.
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; Revelation 3:5 Revelation 3:5He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
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). They will also be given vast responsibility under Him to govern on the earth as kings and priests (1 Corinthians 15:21 1 Corinthians 15:21For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
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, 1 Corinthians 15:51 1 Corinthians 15:51Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
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; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 [16] For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: [17] Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
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; Revelation 20:6 Revelation 20:6Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
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Jesus and His divine family will bring magnificent changes to the world. The earth's wastelands will be fully transformed into gorgeous, productive areas (Isaiah 41:18 Isaiah 41:18I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the middle of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.
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; Isaiah 51:3 Isaiah 51:3For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.
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; Amos 9:13 Amos 9:13Behold, the days come, said the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that sows seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.
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). The nature of wild animals will be changed to become tame (Isaiah 11:6 Isaiah 11:6The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatted calf together; and a little child shall lead them.
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). People will experience God's loving compassion through miraculous healings (Isaiah 35:5 Isaiah 35:5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
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Humanity will never again suffer the anxiety, cruelty and devastation of war (Micah 4:3 Micah 4:3And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
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). Nations will live in genuine peace as the knowledge of God fills the entire world (Isaiah 11:9 Isaiah 11:9They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
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). Can you picture it? God is giving you the opportunity to help bring it all about!

While physical photographs will fade, the picture of God's family and Kingdom will never fade away (1 Peter 1:4 1 Peter 1:4To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you,
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). Your destiny is to share in God's glory as a member of His divine family on His level of existence. He wants it to mean more to you that anything else in your life. What will you do? Remember, God is creating a spiritual family. And He wants you to be in the family photo!

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