Thursday, August 30, 2012

Father, Brother

We’ve seen that Jesus is our

ÿ Fiercely Protective Brother:

V  The love that PROVED His commitment came down from the glory of heaven and took on flesh.

V   He actually PURCHASED freedom for us; when we were still His enemies, He loved us like this….

V  And now, He PROMISED to give us all that pertains to life and godliness and to

V  PROTECT us from every weapon formed against us.
§  Our Brother is above all others
§  Our Brother knows us through and through

ÿ  Father:

V  Has you engraved on the palm of His hand

V  Will never reject or abuse you

V  Knows number if hairs on your head

V  Knows what you need before you ask

V  Keeps your tears in a bottle…

V  Is fighting for you!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Multi-Faceted Relationship

Trekking through the African bush to get the shot . . . that was the day I got heat stroke. Remember ladies, His tender mercies and loving-kindness crown us. These love relationships so exceed our earthly relationships that I venture to say you may even find this unbelievable, so you must intentionally grab hold of this by faith.

Our relationship with God is so multi-faceted, we will always be learning and still not fully appreciate it until we get to heaven. We will never fully comprehend the Lord or His Word; each day meets us with an opportunity for fresh revelation. This relationship is unlike any we have ever known:

ÿ  Based on agape love: perfect, unconditional, initiating, everlasting, unchanging

ÿ  Redeeming

ÿ  Reviving

ÿ  Strengthening

ÿ  Spirit-Driven

ÿ  Purposeful

ÿ  Practical, intensely practical

ÿ  Exclusive

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Do Not Grow Weary

Revelation 21:4-7: And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.”

How we all long for this day!

It’s nearer now than ever before…
Do not grow weary in doing well…
He comes, and He will take full vengeance on those who have tormented us.

2 Thessalonians 1:3-12: We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure,  which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you,  and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,  when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed. Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Ephesians1:13-14: In Him you also trusted, after you heard the Word of Truth, the gospel of your salvation; in Whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

“Babes in Christ.” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:1
Are you mourning, believer, because you are so weak in the divine life: because your faith is so little, your love so feeble? Cheer up, for you have cause for gratitude. Remember that in some things you are equal to the greatest and most full-grown Christian. You are as much bought with blood as he is. You are as much an adopted child of God as any other believer. An infant is as truly a child of its parents as is the full-grown man. You are as completely justified, for your justification is not a thing of degrees: your little faith has made you clean every whit. You have as much right to the precious things of the covenant as the most advanced believers, for your right to covenant mercies lies not in your growth, but in the covenant itself; and your faith in Jesus is not the measure, but the token of your inheritance in him. You are as rich as the richest, if not in enjoyment, yet in real possession. The smallest star that gleams is set in heaven; the faintest ray of light has affinity with the great orb of day. In the family register of glory the small and the great are written with the same pen. You are as dear to your Father’s heart as the greatest in the family. Jesus is very tender over you. You are like the smoking flax; a rougher spirit would say, “put out that smoking flax, it fills the room with an offensive odour!” but the smoking flax he will not quench. You are like a bruised reed; and any less tender hand than that of the Chief Musician would tread upon you or throw you away, but he will never break the bruised reed. Instead of being downcast by reason of what you are, you should triumph in Christ. Am I but little in Israel? Yet in Christ I am made to sit in heavenly places. Am I poor in faith? Still in Jesus I am heir of all things. Though “less than nothing I can boast, and vanity confess.” yet, if the root of the matter be in me I will rejoice in the Lord, and glory in the God of my salvation. ~ C. H. Spurgeon

Isaiah 63:16: …Thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer

Friday, August 24, 2012

I Will Save Your Children

I am walking up to a door with Ali and Haley, two very excited girls, all dressed up in their prettiest pink outfits, hoping to please their mommy, whom they haven’t seen in several months. The door opens and I see an ashen skeleton; behind her are a few men obviously as strung out as she is.
I am POWERLESS. Everything in me wants to scoop up the girls into my arms and run away, as far and as fast as I can. My legs begin to shake, and I am trying not to cry as I hug the girls and say good-bye. Their little faces have fallen and fear is starting to consume them.

There is only one place I can go – to my knees. By the time I reach the girls, I am crying. A week later my precious 5-year-old calls and begs me to come pick her up . . .
“They burned me with a cigarette.”
            “We have no food; Haley was given only cat food all day yesterday.”
                        “Mommy got mad at Haley and made her stay locked in her room all day.”
                                    “I was only able to call because a boy here felt sorry for me.”
                                                “Please come, Aunt Vicky, please help me.”

My heart felt like it was being right out of my chest as she spoke. I don’t know how I managed to stay calm and try to encourage her.

I committed murder in my heart that day. I was furious that anyone was hurting my babies . . . but God was furious too!

I called the police, I called Social Services, I pleaded with God – but no one came to rescue my babies.

In my brokenness I went to the only place of help I know and I want to share with you what God spoke to my heart . . .         

Isaiah 49:14-26: The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me…. Your sons shall make haste; your destroyers and those who laid you waste Shall go away from you… Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I will lift My hand in an oath to the nations, And set up My standard for the peoples; They shall bring your sons in their arms, And your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders; kings shall be your foster fathers, And their queens your nursing mothers; They shall bow down to you with their faces to the earth, And lick up the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the LORD, for they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me…. the prey of the terrible be delivered; for I will contend with him who contends with you, And I will save your children.  I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine. All flesh shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”

Those promises were my lifeline for the next 10 years. And I watched God fulfill every word of it….

Today, my 21-year-old Ali is serving full-time as a missionary in Sudan and my 19-year-old Haley is going to college on a scholarship to be a Christian family counselor.

My Father cared for my girls in their greatest hour of need; when no one else intervened, He was there. He upheld them and revealed Himself to them!

1 John 3:1: Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Come Home

Preparing this message was challenging.
 I found myself in prayer - earnest prayer - and bombarded with doubts every line of it….
How can I possibly summarize what is impossible to define?
How can one hour do justice to Your immeasurable love, God?
Did I hear You? Do you really want me to share this with the sisters, Lord?

I plowed through with Him in my heart and you on my mind. I wish I knew how to express the love He feels for you. In our world of shallowness we have become immune to violence and suffering….little horrifies us, even less can bring us to tears and nothing surprises us….we are a generation that expects evil to triumph, a people who have forgotten God and gone after broken cisterns rather than drinking from His well of living water. We do not ask because we no longer believe there is anything worth asking for….
Your Father,
the Holy One,
The Everlasting God,
Creator of heaven and earth and everything in between,
changes NOT. 

He never grows weary; His love is passionate, unconditional, and available.

Drink….please drink, for your Father is desperate for you to come home…

O My child, you have thought in your heart that you would run from Me. But lo, I am everywhere before you, and you have only run into My arms. For I care for you – yes, I think about you constantly, and I seek to do you good. You fear My rod of correction, but as it is written, it is the love of God that causes men to repent. Take My love, and in taking, your heart will be so warmed and made tender and at the same time encouraged and made strong, that you will not need the rod, nor anticipate My displeasure. ….Knowing My deep love for you, your own heart shall no longer condemn you. My mercies are everlasting, and My kindness abundant. My grace extends to the least of My children, and My tenderness shall make you strong. I go before you daily to prepare the way, and you will be accompanied by My goodness and My mercy. Francis J. Roberts

Monday, August 20, 2012

Spirit of Adoption

Romans 8:14-17: For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by Whom we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together with Him.

For just a minute, look with me at the flow of this passage.

To pass it up would be to overlook a treasure!

V  First, the Holy Spirit sets us free from the law of sin and death. Fulfilling the righteous requirements of the law, once and for all. (Romans 8:1-4)

V  Once we grasp that, an overwhelming sense of freedom takes over. Without any striving or strain, we stop thinking about the fleshly things that once held us captive. We are so in awe that we use our new liberty to pursue even harder after God. (Romans 8:5)

V  The power of the Spirit destroys our carnal nature, and for the first time in our lives, we realize we are no longer slaves to sin. (Romans 8:6-13)

V  The wonder of it all….Can you remember those days of your first love? The joy unspeakable and full of glory, when you seemingly without effort overcame the very sin that for so long had kept you hostage, watching brand-new fruit come forth from your life – love, patience, gentleness, kindness…
Remember it?

V  Jesus wants EVERY DAY to be like those days. Today is the appointed day of revelation, your perfect time to grasp this amazing reality…God is declaring this is not temporary, or a phase. YOU ARE FOREVER FREE, FOREVER HIS!

V  He has adopted us. Freedom, acceptance, and an unending supply of His Spirit is the birthright of all His kids. (Romans 8:14-17)

V  God LOVES to hear the sound of your voice calling out to Him, “Abba!”

He is our Father, He alone in all the universe realizes the fullness of meaning that there is in that wonderful word Father, and it brings joy to Him to have us realize that He is our Father and to call Him so...When we look up into His face and, from a heart that the Holy Spirit has filled with a sense of sonship, call Him, “Abba, Father,” no language can describe the joy of God. ~ RA Torrey

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Father's Compassion

Psalm 103:8-14: The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. He knows our frame; He remembers we are but dust.
I struggle with insecurities.
The enemy loves to bombard me with a sense of failure and hopelessness.
I have learned to live in this verse….
often as I am preparing to teach I just sing the words of this psalm to myself.
His mercy is not only tender, it’s never ending….
are you thankful for that today?

I love the picture of the Father in the story of the prodigal son, because so often I am the prodigal myself. As son travels the long road back home, no doubt his head hung low in shame, fighting against fear of rejection every step of the way, berating himself for such foolish wasteful behavior, there is the Father…waiting, watching, wanting with all that is within Him to see His son coming down that road.

Luke 15:20: But when he was still a great way off, his Father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.

Beloved, that is how our Father looks upon each one of us.
His tender mercy is without end….
Higher than the heavens are above the earth,
farther than the east is from the west,
deeper than the ocean at its widest point…
so much so that He would choose not to remember our offenses.
Willingly and lovingly He sacrificed His most cherished Son
to redeem one as unworthy and ungrateful as I….

God’s people are doubly his children, they are his offspring by creation, and they are his sons by adoption in Christ. Hence they are privileged to call him, “Our Father which art in heaven.” Father! Oh, what precious word is that. Here is authority: “If I be a Father, where is mine honor?” If ye be sons, where is your obedience? Here is affection mingled with authority; an authority which does not provoke rebellion; an obedience demanded which is most cheerfully rendered—which would not be withheld even if it might. The obedience which God’s children yield to him must be loving obedience. Do not go about the service of God as slaves to their taskmaster’s toil, but run in the way of his commands because it is your Father’s way. Yield your bodies as instruments of righteousness, because righteousness is your Father’s will, and his will should be the will of his child. Father!—Here is a kingly attribute so sweetly veiled in love, that the King’s crown is forgotten in the King’s face, and his scepter becomes, not a rod of iron, but a silver scepter of mercy—the scepter indeed seems to be forgotten in the tender hand of him who wields it. Father!—Here is honor and love. How great is a Father’s love to his children! That which friendship cannot do, and mere benevolence will not attempt, a father’s heart and hand must do for his sons. They are his offspring, he must bless them; they are his children, he must show himself strong in their defense. If an earthly father watches over his children with unceasing love and care, how much more does our heavenly Father? Abba, Father! He who can say this, hath uttered better music than cherubim or seraphim can reach. There is heaven in the depth of that word—Father! There is all I can ask; all my necessities can demand; all my wishes can desire. I have all in all to all eternity when I can say, “Father.”~ C. H. Spurgeon

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Childlike Dependence

Romans 8:14-17: For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by Whom we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together with Him.

It is the child’s privilege to be set free from fear, worry, care, doubt.

Every turn of life, the Holy Spirit is undertaking for us.
He is in us, guarding, growing, and guiding us on to glory.

A child is not to fear being disowned.
Blood lines cannot be changed or broken….
sadly in this life they are denied….

but the Spirit residing in you cannot deny Himself!

To enjoy His tender mercies, we must allow the whole of our lives to be governed by the Spirit of adoption within us.

Only then will we be free from the self imposed prison of legalism and all the fear it brings.

Today is the day for us to surrender absolute control to the Holy Spirit,
so that we can live in childlike dependence upon our Faithful Father.

V  He will not let us fall (Psalm 18:36)

V  He never takes His eyes off of us (Psalm 33:18)

V  It’s impossible for Him to make a mistake (Leviticus 20:26)

V  He is always thinking about us (Psalm 139:17-18)

V  He keeps our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8)

V  He is able to provide everything we need (Matthew 6:25-34)

V  He delights in doing it! (Luke 12:32)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Deeper Bond

We read in the New Testament that the Apostle Paul took this vow to Jesus because he found in Jesus the freedom and acceptance he had searched for his whole life.

Paul loved Jesus supremely!

It was love that compelled him to surrender everything –
to voluntarily become Christ’s slave.

Jesus held first place in his heart
and EVERYTHING else in his life proved it!

Nothing was more important to Paul than His Master.

That is why, as he penned much of his letters from a dark and lonely prison cell,
he had no complaints.

He knew he was not there by the hand of an evildoer…
He was confident he was ONLY there by the Sovereignty of God.
Yet, here Paul declares there is EVEN a deeper bond than that of a doulas: the bond of a covenant.
You see when Jesus provided atonement the contract was abolished.
A contract could be revoked or broken; it wasn’t permanent enough for your Father.
He had to be sure that NOTHING could dissolve the bond between you two.
So He made a covenant
and ALL the responsibility resides in the covenant, not on you….

He did it all for you.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Willing Slave

Galatians 4:5-7: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore, you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

I need to explain the meaning of this word slave here so you can appreciate the full weight of Paul’s declaration.

Doulas: willing slave, but still under a contract….

What is a bond slave?

Exodus 21:5-6: But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.

A slave –
no rights,
no claim for position,
no chance for freedom,
no salary,
no freedom…
until the year of release.
Then he could leave
and have a new start;
debt is cancelled,
but all he has must be left behind,
 even wife and kids….

If that slave found love, life, freedom, and happiness in his master’s house,
 he took this vow of a doulas: a willing slave forever.

Think about that FOREVER….

Friday, August 10, 2012

Children of God

John 1:12-13: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
You are God’s own.
Jesus purchased your life
and you are born by God’s will.

Maybe all your life you were told,
“I never wanted you.”
Or, “You were an accident.”

Maybe you were even left
and you don’t know who your birth parents are…

Hear this: “God planned from the beginning of time to redeem you!”

You are so infinitely valuable to Him
that He came and suffered all the punishment you deserve.

He wants you. He is jealous for you. He will never abandon you or hurt you.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Do You Trust Me?

You cannot surrender to Jesus until you know beyond all shadow of doubt He has your best interests at heart.

My colleague, Erica – who serves the children in Northern Uganda, invited a group of teenagers for a discipleship class. She asked them all, “Do you trust me?” They all smiled and said, “Yes!” She asked the leader of the group to stand up as Erica moved behind her and said, “Ok, now fall backward and I will catch you.” The girl could not do it; she was afraid Erica was not strong enough to catch her. Erica then called one of the chaplains serving with her in Kitgum to fall back and she caught him. As soon as the girls saw Erica could catch them, they all asked for another chance.

Aren’t we just like that with the Lord?
We say we trust Him, but we fear to fall backward….

You cannot trust your life –
your dreams,
your future,
your family,
or your finances –
without confidence in the One you are doing it for.

You need this, today and for all of your tomorrows.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Infinite Worth

You have infinite worth….
if you doubt, look to the cross.

The Scripture says, “Scarcely for a righteous man would one die, But God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6-8)….Greater love has no man than this, that He lay down His life for His friend (John 15:13) ...Jesus, for the joy set before Him endured the cross despising the shame (Hebrews 12:2)…Therefore, being justified freely by His grace (Romans 3:24)… For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified (Hebrews 10:14)….There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)…for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death! (Romans 8:2)”

We are delivered,
declared righteous,
and destined to delight ourselves in the Lord forevermore!

Do you know that in the deepest part of your heart this morning?

We desperately need to know this. Life is too full of trials and temptations not to.

How can we renew our minds to receive His love and erase the memories of the failed earthly father we were given?

It will take more than one post to even attempt to adequately answer that question…
but to know His Father’s heart of love is vital.