Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)
And yet I will show you the most excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12:31 NIV)
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)
We hope for many things, some of which we may see happen whilst others fade away like a candle that is burning out.
Hopes, like dreams, are things we hold onto and they are things we really want to experience. I guess most of us know what it feels like when our hopes or dreams are shattered. It's a bereavement. We feel the loss acutely.
Faith is a bit like a fishing line. It goes off into the future, hooks onto one of our hopes which we then reel back into the present. Faith brings our hopes into our reality, it gives them substance. Of course it would be nice if we had faith for all our hopes and dreams but it often doesn't work out quite like that.
My encouragement is that you ask Father which of your hopes are going to be drawn into the present. That's faith. Let the fishing line of faith catch your hopes and dreams and may they become a reality in your daily lives.
Faith and hope are important but they are not the most important. Paul reminds us that love is the "most excellent way".
Whatever happens with our hopes and to our faith, we are always held in his love. His love surrounds us every day of our lives regardless of how we feel or what is happening. He is always faithful, he is always loving and when we don't see our hopes realised we do have the assurance of his love holding and carrying us.
"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. And I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18 NIV)
God has always been Father, but does that mean we have always been his children?
Many years ago, I was single. Then I got married and became a husband. A few years later we were blessed with our eldest daughter and I became a father. Sometimes that's the logic we apply to who God is. We are born again, we become a child of God and we automatically assume that is the point in time he became a Father.
Well, look at it this way. A couple of years after our eldest daughter was born we had a second daughter. I was already a father at that point in time so I did not become a father, I already was one. Our family was simply getting bigger and my fatherhood growing. So can we apply this picture to our heavenly Father? Maybe. God has always been the Father of Jesus and so the more the children he had the more his family would grow, the more his fatherhood would extend.
But even this is not a complete picture. We read in Ephesians 1:4-5 that we were chosen to be sons and daughters before the foundation of the world. Jeremiah was known before he was in his mother's womb (Jer 1:5). David writes in Psalm 139 that we were known intimately by God before our birth and that he was our Creator. God's fathering of us goes way beyond our human understanding.
Many of us have had painful experiences with our earthly parents, none of us have had perfect parents and that view can colour how we see our Heavenly Father. He is way and beyond anything we have experienced and however difficult that has been he is the Perfect Father. He has always been our Father. The trouble is, we wandered off in our own independence and thought we could manage life without him. He has pursued us and done everything to bring us back home. Through Jesus, he has made it possible to come back into relationship with him.
A couple of weeks ago we saw how God is Father. Put very simply he has lost his children and he wants them to be found and to come home.
Paul describes it like this: "God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ Therefore since we are God’s offspring....." (Acts 17:27-19 NIV). We are his offspring because he has always been our Father. We are invited to become children, sons and daughters, as we come home to him and that way is through Jesus and Jesus alone.
“I myself said, “‘How gladly would I treat you like my children and give you a pleasant land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.’ I thought you would call me ‘Father’ and not turn away from following me.” (Jeremiah 3:19 NIV)
This is the prophetic cry that has been on God’s heart ever since Adam and his wife chose to walk in their independent and orphan-hearted ways in the garden. In fact, I believe this is the cry that has always been on his heart, even since before the beginning of time.
God longs, he waits, he yearns, he desires to be called ‘Father’ for one very simple reason. That’s who he is. He does a lot of other things: he heals, he provides, he cares, he protects and so much more. There are 365 names for God in the Old Testament, the majority of which describe his nature or personality together with the things he does. But one name describes who he is - ‘Father’.
As we saw last week, he has always been Father and he longs to be a Father to YOU.
Generally, a father will only give his inheritance to his children, he will not give it to servants or slaves. Our Father has a wonderful inheritance for us. It is the best inheritance of any nation but it is only given to sons and daughters.
There is so much more to being a Christian than purely being saved, as wonderful as that is. There is more. As we know God as Father, I believe he opens the door for us to step into our inheritance in a much greater way. (I have written more about this in my recent booklet “Father’s Comfort” which is freely available from the Articles page on the website).
He is Father, he always has been Father and he is waiting for you to call him “my Father”.
After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them.(Luke 2:46-49 NIV)
As we read the gospel stories we follow the story of a Son and his Father. Does this story start with a baby being born in a borrowed stable and end with death on a Roman cross? For many that is their understanding. But this story started even before the clock started ticking in Genesis chapter one. This story runs from all of eternity before Genesis and it will run right through all of eternity after Revelation. It is a relationship which is set outside of time.
John understood this when he starts his gospel account with the words “In the beginning”. He is not referring to the creation story in Genesis, but is looking back into eternity before the clock started ticking. He sees a relationship and he describes that for us throughout his gospel. He describes a relationship which is one of perfect love.
As we read the gospels we are let into this story, we are invited to see what this relationship looks like. We are given a glimpse of how Father and Son relate to each other and how they relate to other people. This relationship is like no other. It is certainly not like the relationship the Pharisees and Leaders had with either God or the people. This was a new type of relationship, it was family.
In fact, this sort of relationship has always been in God’s heart. He wanted a family. He longs for sons and daughters who will be just like Jesus. The relationship we see is not just for us to view as spectators, it is one we are invited into. Just as God is Father to Jesus so he wants to a Father to us. That's who he's been and who he will always be.
Jesus was single-minded in his desire to live in the Father’s presence and be found doing his will. What about us? My prayer is that we, too, would long to be in Father’s presence and doing his work, not as servants but as sons and daughters.
God has always been Father, and he longs to be a Father to YOU.
I'd like to introduce you to my new book "It Changes Everything".
As I travel, I hear more and more people talking about 'the Father's love' or 'the Fatherheart of God' - but what do these expressions really mean?
In this book, I define some of these popular expressions within the context of the Sonship of Jesus and then look at how our lives change as we begin to allow God to be a Father to us. As you read you will discover the truth of who you are and how his love will make all the difference.
It's available on Amazon (in either paperback or Kindle), click here to purchase your copy.