“The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the Lordyour God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” (Deuteronomy 1:30-31 NIV)
We live in a competitive society. Schools, colleges, sport, and even families push us to be the best. We have to fight to be the top of the pile. We are taught that any indication of weakness is wrong. Sadly, this driven lifestyle spills over into our Christian lives. We think of all the things wecan do for God - as if he needs our helping hand! We may think that we can earn his favour with our activity and that our religious duty will lead to his blessing or will catch his attention.
The biblical reality is very different. Our relationship with God is not dependent on our efforts but totally dependent on him.
We may often think that God wants to lift our burdens and release us from the weight of the things we carry. We might think he will walk alongside us carrying our burdens whilst we run free. God will lift our burdens from us but he will also carry us! In fact he promises to carry us ALL the way. He never grows tired or weary, nor does he need to put us down for a rest. He is entirely capable of carrying us all the way through whatever life may throw at us. It is not the strong or independent who are carried. It is those who know their own weakness who let the Father carry them and who understand that they are loved unconditionally.
Jesus’ invitation to come to him (Matthew 11:28) is an invitation to lay aside our own strength and to let go of the desire to make a name for ourselves; to stop building our own kingdoms and simply to come and let him carry us. This is the safe haven we discover as we learn to rest in him.
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16 NIV)
Jesus is full of surprises! He taught with gentleness and compassion. He spoke about a new kingdom of love rather than one of aggression and force. He spent time with the marginalised and the poor rather than with leaders or those with power and influence.
At the end of one of his teachings he gives us a vital clue about how we can enter this new kingdom. We have to change, humble ourselves and become as little children (Matthew 18:3-4). This must have shocked Jesus’ listeners! How liberating! No longer are there endless requirements of “do’s” and “don’ts”; no longer are there impossible regulations to be fulfilled. All we need to do is to come like little children.
Although a liberating statement, it was one many of Jesus’ listeners found too hard. They were unable to lay aside their own strength and abilities to find this mysterious way of entering the kingdom. For us to enter the inheritance we are promised we have to change and let go of our sophistication, our striving, our plans and our programmes. We have to stop trying to find our identity in ‘doing’ and instead find it in ‘being’ a son or daughter to the Father. To step back from all of the things which we do in our own strength and motivation requires a humbling and a letting go of our pride and independence. We can learn to live in love rather than activity. We can learn that out of simplicity comes a power which we have not experienced or seen before.
This is a simple, yet powerful, way to live. It is the way Jesus lived and we know the extraordinary things that happened through him.
“Yet to all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 NIV)
Jesus was known as the son of God. In fact it was his sonship (rather than his miracles or deeds) that defined his life. At his baptism, before he had started his public ministry, the Father spoke from Heaven and affirmed his love for Jesus simply as his son. Sonship was the key issue that the Devil tried to undermine when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. As ever, the deceiver tried to use the truth to manipulate his own ends. “If you are the son of God.....” (Matthew 4:3,6) were the words he used. Jesus was the son of God and he could have done any of the things the devil asked of him but he refused to submit his spirit to the manipulation and control of Satan. On the mountain when Jesus was transfigured the Father spoke once again from Heaven and re-affirmed Jesus as the son he loves.
Sonship defined Jesus’ life. It defined who he was and through it he shows us the heart of a son, pleasing the Father and living for him. To Jesus this was not subservience but total freedom. It was the full life that he describes in John 10:10. The heart of sonship opens the door to three wonderful things which a slave or orphan never receives - inheritance, freedom and identity.
Having the heart of a son means we are attracted to the Father. Think of a magnet. Depending which way it is placed it will either attract or repel. An orphan repels as he seeks to push himself away from the Father’s love. Whenever the Father draws close he bounces off in the other direction. Turn the magnet round and it instantly attaches itself to the other object. A son is like that. He is attracted by the Father’s love. Psalm 40:6-8 catch hold of the heart of a son; “I desire to do your will, O my God, your law is written in my heart”. As sonship becomes part of us so we desire to do the Father’s will. Obedience is no longer a struggle or something that we have to do. It becomes natural because we do it from our heart and out of love.
The Father longs to welcome you back to him and back to your real home. We are no longer orphans but sons.
“I will be a Father to you and you will be my sons and daughters” (2 Corinthians 6:18 NIV)
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. (Psalm 68:5 NIV)
Think for a moment what it must have been like for Adam and his wife, created as adults living in perfect love and enjoying a friendship with their Creator and their Father. They lacked nothing; they were totally dependent on God and looked to him to supply all their needs. There was a simplicity of relationship which, as we know, was lost. The joy is, it is ours to regain.
As we grow up in a fallen world we start to build walls around our hearts. We are hurt by our families, our schools and our work places and so we try to protect ourselves against more hurt and pain. We have our own way of behaving in order to stay safe. We learn the social etiquette that enables us to put on a brave face but which does not allow us to share our heart. We develop gifts and abilities which lead to us doing our own thing and becoming independent.
Throughout the Old Testament, there is a cry that comes from the Father’s heart which was verbalised by Jesus in John 14:18: “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you”. God did not want to leave us in that state of separation for he simply could not leave us fatherless. He wanted to restore everything that had been snatched away through the fall, so he constantly sought to draw his people back to him. What he really wanted was to live in their hearts and, to God, this was more important than their sacrifices.
God’s love is immensely personal. Although he is Father of creation and Father of mankind he is not distant or afar off. He is not too busy running the universe to be concerned with you. He is interested in a personal and intimate relationship with you.
We all need to know the gentle, kind and overwhelming love of Father God. All of us can enjoy the freedom that is promised to his children. We can become rooted and grounded in his love. It is not an optional extra. It is for you! God really, really wants to be a Father to you – personally, today and forever – to you!
“How great is the love that the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"
(1 John 3:1 NIV).
Our lives are a journey.
Much of our time and energy is spent on our day to day living. We are caught up in what we do and what we are trying to achieve or want to become. We want to do a good job at work, even if that only means showing up regularly and being on time. We want to look good both in terms of our outward appearance and the things we accomplish. We want to be noticed and to be thought well off. We like other people’s good opinions and their approval. It becomes important to us that our act looks as if it is all together.
The deepest longings of our hearts are only satisfied when we find what we are made for.
We are all searching for love. Our problem is not so much that we are searching but where we are looking to find the answer. There are many counterfeits which clamour for our attention and our time. They try to seduce us with the lure of easy pickings and quick gratification. They do not satisfy for any length of time and leave us wanting to come back for more. Counterfeit lovers are short term and need constant feeding!
We all need love. Ideally, it should be the very foundation of our lives. But in our journey through life many of us do not receive the love we need.
The truth is that we have all been loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). God draws us to himself with his love and his kindness. His love is unconditional. It is his love that will make us totally safe as we become hidden in him (Psalm 32:7). He becomes our light and salvation and we need have no fear (Psalm 27:1). God has a perfect plan for us, a good plan that is for our prosperity, not to harm us but to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
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.