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Posts Tagged ‘father’

The bible is replete with imagery of God as our Father. Some of the sweetest of moments are those when my spirit, stirred with love for my Creator, cries out “Abba, Father”. Abba is an intimate Hebrew term for a father, more akin to Daddy or Poppa. But when God created mankind He was very intentional that both sexes were fully image-bearers of God. We see this in Genesis 1:27. ‘So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.‘So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. ‘

Genesis 1:27
https://www.bib While the imagery of God as a mother is less frequent, it is still there. David picks up a piece of this in Psalm 17 ‘Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.’ giving us a picture of a mother bird sheltering her chicks from danger with her wings. Jesus uses similar imagery – “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” Matthew 23:37 NIV

It’s not a stretch to realize that the best traits typically exemplified in either a father and a mother emanate from the character of God. This was impressed upon me recently as I did a photo shoot for our youngest daughter and newest granddaughter. At 10 months old, Lilah, our granddaughter, had not been out in nature before so when we headed to a local park she experienced many new sights and sounds. She was clingy at first not wanting to get out of Momma’s arms. I captured one particularly poignant scene as Momma introduced Lilah to what a tree is.

Lilah and Christin-8

“Lilah, this is a tree. It’s a plant – a living thing, but not like Duke, our dog, or Mommy or Daddy.”

Our daughter spoke gently, explaining to Lilah, what she was seeing. She wasn’t pushy. She wanted Lilah to learn something new without fear.

Lilah and Christin-9

“Look at that rough skin. On a tree it’s called bark. It’s okay to touch it.”

Lilah and Christin-10

“It’s rough, but if you touch it gently it won’t hurt.”

Lilah and Christin-11

“Here. I’ll help you.”

Lilah and Christin-12

“Ah, See, you tried something new. That was fun wasn’t it?!”

Lilah and Christin-13

Ever so gently Lilah examines the tree trunk.

Lilah and Christin-14

“Look Mimi, I’m touching the tree!”

Lilah and Christin-15

A little girl happy to be holding Mommy’s hand and experiencing something new.

I couldn’t help but make the connection between how tender and loving our daughter was with Lilah and how God lovingly leads us. He wants us to experience new and different. But He is not pushy. God has so much good in store for us, but much of that good is beyond the horizons of what we already know… beyond what currently feels safe.

  • Reaching out to people different than us…
  • serving in places we’ve never been…
  • loving without conditions…
  • giving kindness in the face of anger and hostility…
  • forgiving even when the wound still hurts and the grievance is legitimate…
  • facing fears that threaten to overwhelm us…

In each case God is with us as the gentle parent.

  • He encourages us to extend a hand… just like Jesus extended His hands for us.
  • He shows us how to serve… like Jesus when He washed the disciples’ feet.
  • He teaches us to love without limits… like Jesus does whenever we humbly return to Him after a fall.
  • He exemplifies poise, dignity, and equanimity… like Jesus when His accusers hurled lies and abuses at Him and He refused to fight for His rights.
  • He burdens us to forgive those who abuse us… like Jesus did when He whispered to His Father, “Forgive them” for His killers.
  • He tells us we need not fear… because He has overcome the world.

God is the perfect Father – the perfect parent. He knows us intimately and loves us completely. His desires for us are altogether good. And His ways with us are perfect. Put your hand in “Abba’s” hand today. Take time to just rest in your Father’s loving embrace. Listen to Him say, “You are my precious, precious child. I love you with an everlasting love. I will never leave you or forsake you, because you are mine.”

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Intimacy with God grows as we are obedient. When we discern His voice, confirm it with the Word, recognize the affirmation in our spirit, and do what He says, we take a step in maturity.  Much of what He asks of us will either align with loving Him with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength or loving our neighbors as ourselves.

I once thought this meant a lot of hard work – hours scouring the Word, knees raw from prolonged prayer, exhaustion from tackling every opportunity of service to others. In my exuberance I was the energizer bunny Christian rushing here and there doing everything that I imagined a good follower of Jesus might do.  There were many spiritual high points and I am confident that along the way the Father has taken my offering and used it in furthering His purpose.  But I also see I have sometimes bowled over people, stepped on toes and generally left a wake of damage that I did not intend.

So if hard work was not sufficient to ensure godly growth, what are we to do?  The answer is that we begin by focusing less on doing, at least at first, and we seek to be who God created us and saved us to be – His beloved child.  Like an infant, our growth is a process that is best measured in gradual milestones.  The first step in a child’s development is the recognition and bonding of the child to the parent.  Developing the connection and deepening the familial bond is our first priority.  While this will last our entire life, it is our most important task when we first begin to follow Jesus.  In the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Galatians we learn that Paul, one of the most learned of men, headed into the wilderness of Arabia for an extended period immediately after his conversion before launching into full time ministry.  We do well to emulate his progression of seeking God’s face and guidance before jumping into “doing” for the Lord.

In time the child begins to communicate.  Again their primary source of communication is with their parents. Long before the child can begin to verbalize their own thoughts into words, their parents are talking to them, singing to them, reading to them. Our Father God is doing the same with us.  He loves us and He communicates that love in myriad ways.  This past weekend as I finally decided to rise from a particularly restless night, the Lord whispered in my spirit, “Come let me kiss you.” As I slipped into the front room of our house and the warm rays of the early dawn struck my face, I knew my Father was kissing me, His presence overwhelmed me, and it was good beyond description.  As I sit on this plane between two passengers absorbed in their own world, I can still feel the Father’s touch.  I know He is with me.  I know He loves me.  Oh, I am a fortunate and blessed man!

As I basked in the Father’s touch He spoke to me many things. Some were very personal and I don’t need to share those now except to say, He knows us intimately and He will speak to us intimately as we choose to make Him our Lord and the center of our being.  The one thing that He spoke that I recognized as for this blog was His call to obedience.

Continuing the metaphor of a child to parent, as we continue to grow in the Lord, we will be given increasing responsibility.  God will continue to pour into us His life, His light, His wisdom, and His heart.  As these become established in us, His vision and His call arise. There is a universal aspect of His call – reach the lost, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, encourage the down-hearted.  But in our growing intimacy He will be specific with us: the co-worker that the Lord brings to mind repeatedly, the message that powerfully reminds us of a particular need that we can meet, the phone call that comes when you are praying, “Lord use me.”

Response to the universal call is a good thing.  Response to our specific call is the best thing.  As I write this a picture comes to mind.  The Grinch provides an excellent illustration.  He had stolen every single bit the outward manifestation of Christmas from the Who’s.  Yet when he heard the Who’s still singing their joyful Christmas songs, he recognized the reason we celebrate is so much bigger than the gifts and food.   It is the reason for the season – Jesus.  His undersized heart grew 3X at that moment and he responded in abundant measure.  This same thing happens to us.  When, in our intimacy with the Father, He speaks and we enthusiastically receive and respond, our heart grows.  We are blessed as much or perhaps even more than those God has prompted us to love.

Today I encourage you to go deep with God.  Let His love embrace you.  Listen to His whispered words of love and let them wrap around you and fill you.  As you snuggle into His embrace, listen for your next step.  His call is a life in Him and with Him.  As you grow He will give you ”kingdom tasks” to accomplish IN HIM.  He is the King as well as our Father.  As such we are princes and princesses of the kingdom, living and working under our Father’s authority.  That is our blessed privilege.  Our growth and our Father’s favor are the fruit of our obedience.

Have a blessed day my friend as you live in intimacy with the Lord and walk in faithful obedience.

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Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  What a succinct capture of the Gospel and a rich promise for God’s children.

In my work, I consult with plants and help them improve their performance.  The formula is really very simple.  When you do the right things in the right way you will get excellent performance.  I have seen this truth play out dozens and dozens of times in my career.

When I look at this verse I see the spiritual corollary.  When God becomes our focus and we immerse ourselves in knowing Him we will experience a greater and greater intimacy in our relationship with Him.

The picture that comes to mind is that of the young child running and leaping into His Daddy’s arms.  He is delighted to see His Daddy and to be held by him.  The child that delights in his Daddy will watch him closely.  They take note of what Daddy does, how he interacts with other people, the things he says, how he lives.  To a young child their parents are the focus of their life.  Oh – what a wonderful thrill and an awesome responsibility!

The Lord is our Heavenly Father.  Jesus came to earth and demonstrated the perfect Child to Father relationship.  He didn’t mince words, but faithfully demonstrated that God is the Perfect Father Who truly knows what is best.  As the climactic moment of Jesus’ life (and truly the climax of all history) approached, Jesus focused His whole being upon being faithful to the Father and loving those the Father had brought to Him.  That path lead to Calvary and a gruesome death on the cross.  How was Jesus able to do this?  And how does that relate to delighting in the Lord?

It was because of His complete and total faith in God the Father and His Father’s plan that enabled Him to do this.  And because His heart’s desire was to be obedient to the Father and please Him, He was able to experience His Peace even in the midst of the severest of trials.  He suffered grievous pain – yes, but He could take comfort knowing He was squarely in the middle of the Father’s will.

Jesus died and was buried, but in three days, the miracle around which all of history pivots occurred.  God raised Jesus from the dead.  And Jesus reigns at the right hand of the Father  God.  The desire of His heart – the redemption of God’s children, has been accomplished – halleluiah!!!

For us, it is stated simply, delight yourself… immerse yourself… focus your whole being upon the Lord and He will move on your behalf to enable the desires of your heart.

Now it is important to understand that in the immersion process we will take on more and more of the desires of the Father and less and less of the carnal, low desires of the flesh.  In fact as we live in the Spirit the dichotomy between desires of the flesh and desires of the Spirit become more pronounced.  God’s heart will fill us and we will truly desire things eternal.  Reconciliation, peace, comfort for the hurting, salvation for the lost, clarity for the confused, hope for the hopeless – these things will trump big bank accounts, accumulation of things, and recognition.  And God will move on our behalf to give us these good things.

I walk this path of seeking to delight myself in the Lord with you.  I’d like to say I am well along the path and I have succeeded in putting all fleshly desires aside, but I am a sojourner just like you.  I have experienced times of breakthrough and been blessed mightily.  But I have also had times of slipping back and turning my eyes and heart to lower things.  The gap between the “fun” of the lower things and the ecstatic joy of being in the Father’s presence grows ever greater.  Those times that I slide back become ever more distasteful.  They leave me with a hunger for God’s greater things.

Join me today in seeking to delight in the Lord.  Let us together experience the Joy of the Lord.  May His Holy Spirit fill us to overflowing and transform our heart’s desires to truly be His desire.

Father, we love you and we want to delight ourselves in you.  Too often we are distracted and enticed by lower things… desires less than what you have for us.  Help us to turn our eyes, our heart, our hope to you.  Put the delight of you as our first desire.  Make your home in us.  Pour your Holy Spirit into us and help us to be a people who are truly transformed and transformative in this world.  God be revealed in and through us.  We love you!  We give you all the glory this day. In the name of your Son, our Savior, Jesus!

Peace to you today.  May you know the all fulfilling Joy of the Lord as you delight yourself in Him.

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