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Watch 2022 online sermons » Christine Caine » Christine Caine - Bride of Christ - Part 1

Christine Caine - Bride of Christ - Part 1

Christine Caine - Bride of Christ - Part 1
Christine Caine - Bride of Christ - Part 1

I am so excited that you've joined me for today's episode of "Equip & Empower". Now I believe that God has a timely word for you, a word that's not going to condemn you or shame you, but give you hope, resurrect what maybe has felt dead on the inside, and empower you to live a flourishing and overcoming life. So I don't want to wait another moment. Let's dive into today's message right now.

Hey, everyone. I am so grateful that you are able to join me today. I know that God has a word for you. I've got to tell you that two weeks before my 33rd birthday, I got a phone call from my brother, George. Now, George is two years older than me and I have a younger brother, Andrew, that is three years younger than me. But when George called me, he called me and told me that he had gotten these letters from the government. Well, it was actually a series of documents. And in those documents, they said that he had been adopted. So he's like, "Chris, I've got this letter from the government and I've been adopted".

Now, I thought he was joking when he said that to me. When you're growing up, you always say to your siblings, like we're not related, you're adopted. But he was like really kind of disturbed, obviously, as you would be. And I said to him, "George, I think they've sent these documents to the wrong person. You better call the government. Get them to somehow take back this error and tell them they've made a mistake". I said, "Call me back when you've sorted it out with the government". Well, anyway, he calls me back, and this time, he is sobbing and he says, "Chris, it's true. They told me the name of my biological mother, my biological father. They told me when I was immunized. They have a whole file on my life".

Now, I freaked out when he said this to me because I'm thinking, "Oh, my word, like this is true". He said, "I'm going to go and confront mum". And at the time, my dad had died when I was 19, so my mum was home alone. At that time, she was 61 years old. I don't know if you know anything about Greeks, but Greeks are very volatile. Like, we kind of act first or think later, and I'm thinking this could be a big deal, if my brother goes to confront mum and this 35-year-old family secret, nobody knows about it. So I jump in my car. I go to my mother's house. I walk in right at the moment that my brother is giving my mother this piece of paper from the government. I see my mum's whole face change. And I'm like, "Oh, my word, this is true. My mum starts crying". She said, "George, I'm so sorry. All of the adoption laws in Australia 35 years ago, they were all closed adoptions. We never thought you would find out. And before your father died, one of the last things I promised him was that I would never tell you, so I tore up all of the paperwork".

Well, as you could imagine, my brother is crying and sobbing, just being told this shocking news and my mum's crying and my dog's crying and I'm kind of sitting there and I'm like watching what I thought was like a movie. And being the good Greek daughter that I am, what do you do in this sort of circumstance? I'm like, I'm going to go to the kitchen and make some food, moussaka, baklava, something is going to solve all of this. Food is the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

So I go in to make some food and my mother comes in a few minutes later and she said to me these words. She said, "Christine, since we're telling the truth today, do you want to know the whole truth"? And I don't even know. Initially I turned around and I said to my mum, "I've been adopted too". And my mum, her head was just nodding. Tears were streaming down her face and that was the day, two weeks before my 33rd birthday, that I found out that I was not who I thought I was. And you know, I've got to tell you, it's a shocking thing to have your identity rocked at such a deep visceral level when you're kind of in your 30s to find out that your parents are not your biological parents, that your siblings are not your actual biological siblings.

And that would be okay, if you grew up knowing that, but to find it out is shocking, to realize that, in essence, you'd been lied to about your identity your entire life, is shocking. And obviously, this can and does have a devastating impact on people. It's quite traumatic to find out at that stage of life that you're not who you thought you were. And, the truth is though, in my own life, it could have been much worse than it was, if I did not have at the time a strong relationship with Jesus Christ and with the word of God. If I did not know in that moment that who God had said that I was, then I think I would've been derailed by finding out who I was not.

I remember even in the kitchen with my mum, in that moment, I said to her, "Mum, it's okay". 'cause my mum obviously was just so, it was such a traumatic experience. In the midst of that, I'm saying, "Mum, it's okay. Before I was formed in my mother's womb". I remember saying this to her out loud right there in the kitchen. I said, "Before I was formed in my mother's womb, whosoever womb that was, he knew me. He knitted together my innermost parts. He fashioned all of my days before as yet there was one of them". I knew, because of my relationship with Jesus and my foundation in the word of God, I knew that before I was formed in my mother's womb, God did know me and I knew right now, every circumstance, every fact that I thought to be true about my life changed.

But the truth never changed. The truth did not change that before I was formed in my mother's womb, God knew me, God knitted together my innermost parts, he fashioned all of my days before as yet there was one of them. And finding out that I wasn't who I thought I was didn't change who I actually was in Christ. And so when you know who you actually are, when you know why you're here on the planet and what God has called you to do, can I just say you can more effectively navigate the inevitable challenges and hurdles and suffering and storm and shocking news and disappointments that life throws at you. It is just part of living. In a lost and a broken and a fallen world, we will have adversity. We will have chaos. Our world is in the midst of an existential identity crisis.

I think so much of the chaos and the confusion and the anger and the divisiveness and malice and the gossip and the greed and the envy and the strife is because people are having an identity crisis. So much of people's identities have been wrapped up in things that they've achieved, or things that we own, or who we know, or where we are on the social ladder, or what we do, or what the social or political, or leisure affiliations are in life. Or what school did you go to and what credentials do you have? What club did you found? And then almost overnight, our world shut down with this global pandemic. It just shut down. And so the rules changed overnight and no one really knows what the future looks like anymore. And we can no longer look back at the things we once clung to for our identity and and for our security, because guess what? Not all of those things exist anymore.

This is a strange new world. We're not going back. And so many of us are wondering in this moment, "Who am i? What am I here for"? In these days. And this is why the passage that we're going to look at in this series is so crucial. 1 Peter, in these days, speaks to us particularly strongly. I've been stuck in 1 Peter, well, really 1 and 2 Peter, during this season, because I feel like we are both like exiles. It's a new world. Life is so different. And yet, this is where we go to find out who we truly are.

So we read in 1 Peter 9:12, I love this. The scripture says to us in 1 Peter 2, I knew I would get there, verses 9 to 12. He says: "But you are a chosen race, a Royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people: once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the gentiles honorable so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation".

So Peter is writing in this epistle to scattered, marginalized, and persecuted Christians, and predominantly these were gentile Christians in Asia Minor. These believers during these days, they were suffering greatly, and the purpose of this letter to Peter is to encourage them to stand fast by remembering that they're God's people on God's mission for God's glory, even in the midst of pressure and distress. And today I want to remind you, we are God's people, we are on God's mission, and we're here for the glory of God. Yes, we're in chaotic times. Yes, we're in disruptive times. Yes, these are challenging times. Yes, we feel hard pressed on all sides. Yes, there are storms. But listen, remember, we're God's people, we're on God's mission, we're here for God's purpose, and this letter is an encouragement for every single one of us today.

Now, in Leviticus 20:26, this is what the Lord tells the nation of Israel. He says, "You are to be a holy nation to me because i, the Lord, am holy and I have set you apart from the nations to be mine". That's what the Lord said. In Deuteronomy 7:5, verse 6, I'm sorry, scripture says, "For you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be his own possession out of all of the peoples on the face of the earth". And then in Deuteronomy 26:18-19, he goes on and says, "And today the Lord has affirmed that you are his own possession as he promised you, that you are to keep all his commands, that he will elevate you to praise fame and glory above all the nations he has made, and that you will be a holy people to the Lord your God as he promised".

So we see from these verses that God set the nation of Israel apart as his holy people. And he promised to be faithful to them and his people were commanded to consecrate themselves, to set themselves apart to the Lord and to serve him and him alone. Now, unfortunately, the people of Israel frequently broke their vows. Man. And they were so unfaithful to God, just like we are so often. They were serving other Gods and pursuing their own pleasures. But God always, always, always remained faithful and God never, ever broke his promises to Israel. In fact, throughout the biblical narrative, we see that God has pursued his people with a relentless passion. His faithfulness to us never, ever, ever ends. I mean, it is after three and a half decades of following Jesus, it still blows me away how faithful God is, how relentless God is in his pursuit of us, how much God adores us, and how God loves us.

Perhaps you came from a background like mine where you were taught that God is angry with you and that God is just a God of judgment and rough and anger and that he's unkind and just kind of waiting for you to do something wrong and just beat you over the head every time. But I'm here to tell you that we serve of God that loves us, a God that is for us, a God that relentlessly pursues us, a God that remains faithful when we are faithless, a God that will leave the 99 to come and run after the one. I mean, our God is love, and he loves you. In fact, in the book of Hosea, we read a powerful story of how the prophet Hosea was betrayed by his one wife, Gomer, and she was unfaithful to him and she went back to a life of prostitution. Although Hosea felt so betrayed, the fact is he continued to love and to pursue Gomer.

And God uses this metaphor of a bride and a bridegroom to explain exactly how it is that he felt betrayed by Israel's infidelity to him at the time. Like a bridegroom is scorned by his bride, his heart ached, and yet he was always willing to forgive and welcome his people back to him. And this metaphor of a bride and a bridegroom was also used by the prophet Isaiah. And in Isaiah 61:10, he says, "I rejoice greatly in the Lord. I exalt in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness as a groom wears a turban and as a bride adorns herself with her Jewels".

We see right there from this verse that not only does God clothe us in fresh garments of salvation and robes of righteousness. He calls us his bride and he, God, is our bridegroom. And the fact is that I know when I'm using this bridegroom talk, some of you guys on the other side of the screen you are kind of like, "Really? Chris, I'm feeling a little bit uncomfortable right now". And the fact is that some women also, I talk about God being our bridegroom and it triggers you in some ways, because you had certain hopes when you became a bride. Those hopes got shattered, man. It was nothing like what you thought it was going to be. Single people that maybe would love to be married and have a bridegroom and even me talking about brides and bridegrooms and weddings, makes you want to stop listening to this broadcast.

But can I ask you to bear with me, to stay with me? Because whether you're single, whether you're married, whether you're single again, whether you're widowed or divorced, whatever it might be, all of us as children of God are called the bride of Christ. And I think that all of us are going to benefit from knowing what it means to be the bride of Christ and to discover how adored we are by God. When we discover that our identity is actually, it's actually in our chosenness. Our identity lies in our belovedness. It lies in the way that we are cherished by God, like a groom who only has eyes for his bride. It changes everything, I know that, because some of you are wondering on the other side of the screen, "Does anyone see me? Does anyone know me? Does God really care about me"?

And I'm here to say to you, God is so besotted with you. We are his bride and he is our bridegroom. On March the 30th, 1996, Nick and I were married in Sydney, Australia. And you know, it was a special day for us, just like it's a special day for all married couples. And the fact is we had lots of Greek food and lots of Greek dancing and we were surrounded by friends and family. And although our actual wedding day was fun, we definitely had a rocky road getting to that wedding day, mostly because of my brokenness and my dysfunction. I was still so damaged on the inside when Nick and I met and it was so hard for me to trust any man, and coming from a background of abuse and abandonment.

I really made Nick work harder than he should have had to work to earn my trust. And you know, I'm not really sure, after 26 years, that any other guy would have persevered like Nick did. And while we were still dating, there came a time when it was obvious that our relationship was getting a little and if we were going to move forward, I was going to have to be totally transparent with Nick, totally vulnerable, and tell him about all of the brokenness of my past and the destructive relationships and and the fact is that I was going to have to tell him not only the traumatic things that had happened to me, but poor choices that I had made myself, the things that I was responsible for myself.

And I was really worried that if I let him into those parts of my past, he would just walk away and he would just leave me. I wouldn't have blamed him, actually. I was so broken. And I remember one day, finally, I got the courage to tell him. And we were walking along Sydney's Iconic Bondi Beach and it was a Saturday afternoon, and when I turned to look at him after I had told him all of this, thinking, "This dude's not going to stay," he had tears streaming all the way down his cheeks.

And I remember him tenderly just kind of saying words to me of the effect that "Chris, I'm just so sorry that all of those hurtful things happened to you. I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that. I'm so sorry about the pain of your childhood and that caused you to make so many poor choices. And I'm just sorry for all that you've been through. I only wish that I'd been there for you to protect you from all of that suffering". And he said, "Knowing all of this about you just simply makes me love you more and it makes me want to be the best husband to you. I want to love and I want to protect and I want to honor and I want to cherish you forever".

And I remember he thanked me for trusting him with the deepest parts of my shame and my brokenness and my mess. And I've got to tell you, I experienced more healing in that moment with Nick unconditionally loving me and showing me grace than I had had in all of the years leading up to that. It was Nick's love and Nick's grace and mercy and kindness that helped to heal a deeply wounded part of my soul. And God was working through him to heal something in me. And I'm telling you this story today because I want to give you a very, very imperfect picture of how God feels about you. So often we think that our unholiness somehow disqualifies us from being included in this holy nation and that we couldn't possibly be adored by God after all that we've said and all that we've done. But I want you to know today that the holiness we have is actually not from ourselves. We have been clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
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