A Father to YOU is a signpost to the heart of the Perfect Father.

When we became Christians we were given the right to become children of God (John 1:12). Sadly, many of us fail to take up that right and instead continue to live as slaves or orphans. But our true destiny is being sons and daughters who have a permanent place in the Father's family. This blog is an encouragement to help you know who God really is and who you really are.

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Let the children come

“And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Mark 10:14-15 ESV)

Jesus always welcomed children when they came to him. He clearly enjoys having them around as he travels and teaches people. The thing which most attracts him to them is their childlike heart which is one of simple dependency and reliance, they lack the sophistication of adults that tries to rationalise and work everything out. Jesus points to this attitude as being very important if we are to understand the secrets of his kingdom and be able to be a part of it. 

Just after this encounter with the children a rich young man comes to Jesus and asks what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus doesn’t condemn or judge him for his wealth but speaks to his heart. in fact he calls him to have the same childlike heart that he has just been talking about. Can this young man let go of his reliance on his wealth and simply trust?

It seems he couldn’t and so he goes away sad. 

We read that throughout this conversation Jesus looks at him and loves him. Whenever we have an encounter with Jesus we have an encounter with love, there is no condemnation or judgement just the pure and perfect love that flows from the Father. 

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Chosen by Him

"...even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us to receive the full rights of sonship through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will." (Ephesians 1:4-5 ESV)

I don't know what God was doing in Heaven before the creation of the world. We are so conditioned by time that there is no way we can begin to understand what it is like to live outside of it, one thing we do know is that God did not live in a timeless void of nothingness but he lived in the intensity of a perfect relationship. A relationship that he wanted to share with his children. And so I believe he was thinking about us as we were to become the family that was in his heart. 

He wanted his children to freely choose him, not to be forced or coerced into following him but freely choosing to love him and find their salvation through Jesus and his work on the cross. 

This was his plan. His heart is that we would become holy and blameless, living as sons and daughters and walking as Jesus walked. This is who we are - we are his sons and daughters. To embrace this we need the spirit of wisdom and revelation that comes as the eyes of our heart are opened and then we begin to see who he really is and who we really are. 

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Blessed with every spiritual blessing

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 1:3 ESV)

What an amazing declaration at the start of this important letter from Paul. We are blessed. That's exactly how it started in the garden way back in Genesis 1: God created mankind, breathed his life into us and immediately he blessed us. Before any instruction about being fruitful, looking after the garden or anything else - we were blessed.  

That is still true for us today. We have a Father who desires to bless us with, as Paul says, 'every spiritual blessing'. To me that sounds like a lot of blessings. I know that there are some days when we don't feel that we are living under the Father's blessing, sometimes things are tough and we can easily lose sight of who we are and who our Father is. But Father's view of us never changes - he sees us seated with him in Heavenly places having been made alive in him. 

This is the Heavenly reality about us which surpasses the earthly reality that we live in and often struggle with. My prayer is that we would begin to see ourselves as the Father sees us and that we would find that place of contentment and rest as we live in the love that he has for us. 

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We can freely enter Father's presence 

"And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who near. For through him we have access in one Spirit to the Father." (Ephesians 2:17-18 ESV)

Right from the beginning we have seen how God wanted to be a Father to his people and live amongst them. It was never his plan for his children to be kept at a distance without the ability to come into his presence, just like any chldren will want to do with their father. It has always been in God's heart to make his home with his people. Jesus describes this perfectly in John 14:23 when he says that he and the Father will make their home with us, in our hearts so we can be completely saturated by their life-giving presence. 

We are not strangers to God, he is the perfect Father who longs to be a Father to us. This is the daily revelation of living in the centre of his affection for us.

Maybe we feel that distance beween him and us, maybe we struggle to believe that he is the perfect Father, maybe our experience of an earthly Father has left us unable to trust.  Whatever the reason we now have the assurance that we have become his family and he has made his home in our hearts. Because of the saving work of Jesus we now have peace with the Father. Quite simply we belong. 

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We are loved as Jesus is loved

I have revealed to them who you are and I will continue to make you even more real to them, so that they may experience the same endless love that you have for me, for your love will now live in them, even as I live in them! (John 17:26 Passion Translation)

This verse really sums it all up: Jesus came to show us that we are loved in exactly the way as he is loved. The Father loves each one of us with the same intensity of passion and depth of love as he has for Jesus. This is not something we earn or receive through our hard work, it is a gift of grace given freely simply because the Father loves and wants to be a Father to us.

Jesus came to show this through his life, his teachings and his relationship with the Father. He continues to reveal the Father's heart of love to us in order that we can live loved. 

God is the perfect Father and he wants to be a Father to you. 

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We are with him

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. (John 17:24 ESV)

We have seen how Jesus revealed God’s name as ‘Father’ and how he gave us the words of eternal life. And today we see the desire in Jesus' heart for all of us. He longs that we might be where he is. 

Jesus goes back to Father or as John puts it in John 1:18 he has gone to the Father's side (or bosom) and he longs that we might be in that resting place with him. This is the intimate relationship we are called to enjoy - it is our true inheritance and defines our true identity as sons and daughters. This is more than a longing as it is a reality for each of us to live in the Father's embrace. He is not distant or removed from us, after all he chose to make his home in our hearts. 

Jesus has done his Father's work but leaves the choice with us - are we willing to step into the Father's embrace and be where Jesus is?

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We have his word!

I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (John 17:14 ESV)

John 17 is a summary of how Jesus revealed the Father to us. Last week we saw how the revelation of God as Father was much more than a formal introduction to someone but rather that name reveals the full personality and character of who God really is. 

We now see another aspect of the Father's will accomplished through Jesus - we have his word. Jesus was and continues to be the word of God and so the words he speaks will bring us life. When he met the Samaritan woman at the well he offered her a drink of living water, he offered her real life that would change her from the inside out. When many people are turning away from Jesus he asks his disciples if they too will be leaving to which Peter replies "where shall we go, you have the words of eternal life".

We are so fortunate to have both the written word of God and the Holy Spirit inspired words which speak to us every day. These are words of eternal life to us that can become our daily bread.

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We know his name!

I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. (John 17:6 ESV)

John 17 records for us the prayer Jesus prayed on the last night before he was taken away to the cross. In this prayer he clearly shows that his work on earth is done as he has completed everything that the Father had given him to do.  

Throughout the course of his prayer he tells us exactly what his Father had sent him to do and shows us how his work becomes our inheritance.

When Jesus says he made his Father's name known it is much more than a formal introduction of one person to another. Any listeners would have immediately understood that Jesus has shown us the whole nature and personality of his Father. He has revealed the Father's true nature, his true name and what he is really like which he did through his own life and relationship with his disciples. He shows us a new way of living which is rooted in the kingdom of love rather than the kingdom of fear. He shows us that Father is gracious, compassionate and loving. He shows us that we live our lives as the beloved sons and daughters. He shows us that God will indeed be a Father to us. 

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The Father himself loves YOU

In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you… (John 16:23-27a ESV)

These verses contain one of the greatest revelations of Jesus’ teaching but they also show us the result of a transition which has taken place. 

In chapter 14 Jesus tells us that if we ask him for anything then he will act on our behalf. I believe we have held onto this statement and it has given us great comfort and reassurance. However, it is not the complete picture, nor the end of the story, as there is something greater that Jesus wants to reveal to our hearts. This greater revelation or understanding is that you and I have direct access to the Father. Jesus does not need to ask the Father on our behalf because we can go straight to him, he is not someone to be afraid of but he is accessible and wants to be known by us. 

The transition which has taken place between chapters 14 and 16 is hugely significant for us. Jesus has shown us that he is the way to the Father, that we are in him and that we are no longer left in our orphan-hearted ways. We have moved from being orphans to being sons, from the kingdom of fear to the kingdom of love and it is this transition which gives us direct access to our loving and perfect Father. 

We may well ask “Why?” - why has this transition been made possible? The answer is, I believe, one of the greatest revelations of Jesus’ teaching: the Father himself love us!

If we understand the full impact of that statement our lives will be changed forever. 

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"That your joy may be full"

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:9-11 ESV)

One of the things we are searching for is to how to live a joy-filled life. Even if things are going well for us as individuals we are surrounded by the pain of others and the heartache that is in the world. All too often it seems that joy is something that escapes us and so we plod on through life. I’m not sure that this is the life we are meant to enjoy. After all, Jesus came to give us life and life in abundance. In today’s verses we see the promise of Jesus - that our “joy may be full”. 

Whenever we read about this joy we discover it’s not something that we can muster up ourselves nor is it dependent on our circumstances. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit of Sonship within us (Gal 5:22).

The joy Jesus describes here is the fruit of us living in love where we are connected to the very source of life itself. Walking with him, listening to him, only doing what we seeing him doing is the key to remaining in love. This is the way Jesus walked with his Father and it is the way he encourages to live as well. When we are in him, we are in the Father (John 14:20) and therefore as we remain in the love of Christ we automatically remain and live in the love of the Father. 

I believe the key to discovering this joy-filled life is to constantly walk in relationship with the Father. May this become more and more our daily experience. 

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A life of peace

These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:25-27 ESV)

Jesus is nearing the end of his earthly ministry and despite the personal turmoil he must be going through his focus is on making sure that the disciples are secure and safe. 

He has just explained to them that he is about to return to his Father but he will not be leaving them alone as he will send the Holy Spirit to be with them forever. He has dealt with the emptiness of the human heart through the revelation of sonship and finally he gives them the gift of peace. 

We too need this gift. Not only is life busy but there is so much going on in our hearts that leads us to be like a tightly wound spring. Jesus gives us peace, not as the world knows but a peace that goes beyond our understanding and which fills our hearts and minds. It is a peace that brings us into a place of security and rest, into a place where we are held safely in our Father’s arms. 

Today I encourage to reach out and ask for this gift, a peace which calms our troubles hearts. 

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Love one another

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.  (John 13:34-35 ESV)

Jesus is having supper with his disciples on the evening before he is taken away to the cross. Before they sit down for their meal Jesus demonstrates his love for the disciples by wrapping a towel around his waist and getting down and washing their feet. A duty which a servant would usually perform to welcome the guests to dinner, but this time Jesus himself does it himself. He does it to show that, as well as being the Son of God, he is prepared to do the ordinary tasks showing that he is also a servant and wants to look after his friends. 

As he washes Peter’s feet the two of them have a little chat. Peter in his usual way wants more: “wash all of me” he asks, to which Jesus replies “You are already clean”. A point Jesus will repeat in chapter 15, we are clean because his word has already washed us.  

This event finishes as Jesus encourages the disciples to love one another. His life and example to us is one of love: love being poured out so freely into our hearts, a love that accepts us for who we are and a love that draws us back into relationship with the Father. As we have been sacrificially loved so we should love others in order that this becomes the hallmark of our lives. This will be the very thing that attracts others and draws them towards the source of life. 

We love because he first loved us. 

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A heart that sees

Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. (John 12:37-41 ESV)

Once again Jesus highlights the importance of our hearts. For three years he has lived amongst these people, he has done miracles and he has constantly revealed the true nature and personality of his Father. And still the people did not get it. They could not see or understand the change that Jesus was ushering in. They could not see that God wanted to be a Father to them in exactly the same way as he was to Jesus.

Their hearts had been hardened and become closed. They could not see that the whole of Jesus’ life and ministry was about revealing the Father and welcoming people home, back into relationship with him. If only they could open their hearts they would be able to see and that would become the doorway into this new relationship with Father.  

It’s the same for us. That’s why Paul, in Ephesians, prays that the eyes of our heart would be opened. As we begin to see with our heart we can start to fully perceive and understand who he is and who we really are. Let us not be like the people who were around Jesus whose hearts were hardened and closed but let us seek to open our hearts to the truth which will bring life and freedom. 

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A present reality

So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” (John 11:20-27 ESV)

In this well known passage we read about Martha’s response to her brother’s death. Yes, of course she is upset but I admire her simple faith in the power of Jesus. If only he had been there this would not have happened. 

What Jesus does in his conversation with Martha is to move her faith from the disappointment of a past event into the present. He does not focus on “if only” but he changes their expectation to “watch what is about to happen”.  

Throughout this story Jesus is walking in step with his Father as his words and actions glorify him. He shows us what it is like when we live in the present reality of relationship with Father. We do not have to live in the disappointment of the “what if” or “if only” but we can watch what he is doing right now. We can bring the Father into the now and watch what he will do in our lives. 

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Our abundant life

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:10, 29-10 ESV) 

Jesus is the good shepherd who came to protect, care and provide for his sheep. He came to seek out and save those who were lost and to bring them back home to the Father. He contrasts his nature to that of the thief who does not plan anything good. Jesus, on the other hand, is only intent on doing good - he came to set us free in order that we might enjoy life and live it abundantly. An abundant life is not one filled with all the world’s pleasures but one that rests in the source of life itself.

Even in the midst of turmoil and anxiety we can experience an abundant life because it not dependent on eternal factors but on knowing that the source of our eternal life is the Father. 

The shepherd saves and encourages. The thief tears down and destroys.  

Once saved by the Good Shepherd we belong to the Father and that is the place of ultimate safety and security. When you feel that everything is against you, fall back into the arms of love where you will be comforted and held safely. Fear will try and pull you from that place but the arms of love are stronger. 

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