Just in time for Father’s Day! Blessings!
Shepherd’s Musings Devotional: Week 23 & 24
God is our Father
Have you ever heard someone say something to this effect, “I have a hard time accepting God as my Father because I never really had a dad who was a father”? Perhaps statements like that lead to pastors saying things like, “If you haven’t had a good father it’s difficult to see God as your heavenly Father.” I made and agreed with such statements until I read J. I. Packer’s book Knowing God where he frankly claimed that such notions were “silly.” He backed up his assessment with this argument:
. . . it is just not true to suggest that in the realm of personal relations positive concepts cannot be formed by contrast . . . the thought of our Maker becoming our perfect parent—faithful in love and care, generous and thoughtful, interested in all we do, respecting our individuality, skillful in training us, wise in guidance, always available, helping us to find ourselves in maturity, integrity and uprightness—is a thought which can have meaning for everybody, whether we come to it by saying, “I had a wonderful father, and I see that God is like that, only more so,” or by saying, “My father disappointed me here, and here, and here, but God, praise his name, will be very different,” or by saying, “I have never known what it is to have a father on earth, but thank God I now have one in heaven.” The truth is that all of us have a positive ideal of fatherhood by which we judge our own and others’ fathers, and it can safely be said that the person for whom the thought of God’s perfect fatherhood is meaningless or repellent does not exist (Knowing God, pg.203-204).
Scripture supports this because God is the Father of the fatherless as Psalm 68 reveals, “Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the LORD; exult before him! Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation (vs.4-5). Furthermore, David looked to God when his father and mother abandoned him, “Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, LORD, do I seek.’ Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation! For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in. (Psalm 27:7-10)
Have you been taken in by the LORD? Have you become His child? Do you call Him, “Father”?
The truth is that we do not enter this world as God’s children but Satan’s. Jesus said this to the religious leaders of His day, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44). Ever since Satan’s attack and the fall of mankind into sin in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) each child is born into Satan’s domain. Every person must desire, by the grace of God, to turn to Him and be adopted into His family. The Gospel of John explains how a person is born into God’s family by the work of God:
[Jesus Christ] was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God ( John 1:10-13).
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” . . . “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:3, 16-18).
After being “born again” and coming into God’s family by receiving Jesus Christ with believing trust, Galatians 4:6-7 reveals that God’s children will call Him Father, “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” No wonder the Apostle John says with awe, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (John 3:1-3).
Certainly as God’s children we have a bright future as we await our eternal inheritance as joint heirs in Christ. However, the last phrase in John 3:3, “And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure”, clearly reveals we have a real relationship with our Father God in the present that should see growth in purity or sanctification. Coming under the Fatherhood of God will result in at least four areas of spiritual growth (these 4 points were suggested from Knowing God, pg.205):
1. Submission to God’s fatherly authority:
Just as Jesus the Son submitted or yielded to God the Father’s will, so should we as sons! Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). God’s will for us is revealed in His written Word. He tells us what is pleasing and not pleasing to Him. Our Father God desires to protect us through His instructions and commands. The Father speaks to us through the father of Proverbs 3:1-4, “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.” And Proverbs 6:20-23, “My son, keep your father’s commandment . . . Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.”
2. Security in and reception of God’s fatherly affection:
Our Father God loves us so much that He will correct and discipline us. “For the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:12). The writer of the letter to the Hebrews expands upon God’s loving discipline as our Father:
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:5-11).
3. Communion in God’s fatherly fellowship:
Jesus said while anticipating His crucifixion, “Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me” (John 16:32). Our Father God will also be with us in trials. He will bring comfort as Paul testified, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). The blessed reality is that we can go to our heavenly Father in prayer and be at peace as Philippians 4:6-7 admonishes, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
4. Participation in God’s fatherly honor:
The Father’s will is to lift up, exalt, or glorify the Son. This is seen clearly in Jesus’ prayer in John 17:1-5, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” Then later in verse 22-24 we learn that we are to see and share in this glory, “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” The Father’s honor of His children is not just in the future but begins as we are sanctified by His truth as we behold our Father God. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” So when someone compliments you for the work of God they see in your life, say, “Thank you” and give the glory to God the Father!
If you are God’s child through the gift of adoption, respond to His fatherhood over you by receiving the protection of his loving authority, by appreciating the affection of His discipline, by basking in the comfort of His fellowship, and by rejoicing in the glory of His honor. Spend quality time with your Heavenly Father through the Word of God and prayer. Get to know your heavenly Father. Grow in your faith in God. Discover who HE IS! “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6 KJV).
If you are not God’s child, what hinders you from becoming His child? Hebrews 11:6 can become a reality in your life, if in faith you believe that HE IS and begin to take steps to seek Him—even baby steps count!
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen (Galatians 1:3-5).
With Prayer, Mark
© June, 2011 Scripture quoted: ESV – Emphasis added
Selected Verses on God as our Father
Isaiah 9:6, For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 63:16, For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name.
Malachi 1:6, “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’
Romans 1:7, To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 8:6, yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
Galatians 1:3-5, Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 4:4-6, There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call- one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Ephesians 6:23, Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Colossians 3:17, And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
1 Peter 1:3-5, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
1 John 5:1-3, Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
2 John 1:3-4, Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love. I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.