Category : Devotion of the Week
Category : Devotion of the Week
As I sit here in a Toronto hotel room, with a wafer-thin layer of snow on the ground, I am praying to be able to adequately describe the warm love of the Father for us.
God, the creator of love, did so because He wants to enter into an agape love (the highest express of love—pure, selfless and unconditional) relationship with all of us. Out of love, he formed our bodies. Because of His love, we have a mind and free will to choose Him as Father, and thanks to His love we are given an opportunity to spend eternity in His presence. Today, in the final part of our six-part series on “Knowing the Father,” we dive head first into the endless sea of God’s love and learn about some of the attributes of the love He has for us.
Our Father’s love is eternal. If you didn’t marry your high school or college sweetheart and dated for a while, you’ve probably discovered that love doesn’t always last or is erratic at times. Perhaps you had a parent that fell short in the love category. The good news is that there is a love that never fails us and never fades, God’s love. 1 Chronicles 16:34 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; his love endures forever.” Sometimes the enemy of your soul will attempt to make you believe that you are not loved, but rebuke that thought and trust what God says about His love. Claim the promise of Psalm 89:2 that says, “I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself.”
Our Father’s love is overflowing. This year, God gave me new insight into Ephesians 3:17–19 that says, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” I realized that we humans simply don’t have the mental capacity to understand how much God loves us. That’s why we occasionally struggle with feeling loved by our heavenly Father. We base the love of God on circumstances and on how humans react to us. The answer is we need to pray to understand, and we must tap into God’s power to grasp the dimensions of His love for us, a love that, according to Psalm 119, fills the earth and, according to Psalm 36, “reaches to the heavens.”
Our Father wants us to be vessels of His love. We are God’s ambassadors on this earth and if we are to represent Him well, we need to be filled to the brim with His love. 1 John 4:7–8 says,
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love, does not know God because God is love.”
God wants us to love our enemies and love those who need a little extra patience. He calls us to love our spouse and to love the Christian brothers and sisters He places in our lives. I used to be bothered by the passages in the Gospel of John where the disciple, John, is referred to as the disciple whom Jesus loved. I thought Jesus didn’t have favorites? Then I realized the word for love in these passages is “agape.” Now it made more sense. John was not a favorite. It took drawing from God’s pure, selfless and unconditional love to love John, just like it takes God’s Agape love for many of those in our lives as well.
Our Father desires our love in return. God created love so we’d choose to love Him back. I know I don’t love God the way He’d like for me to love Him. I often pray, Help me to love you more, Lord. The greatest commandment in the Bible in both the black and red letters is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). This passage goes on to challenge us to tell our children about how important it is to love God, wear jewelry reminders, and also asks us to post it on our doorframes so we never forget it.
My “fisher of men” bracelet is a permanent fixture on my wrist because it’s a reminder of what I’m on this earth to accomplish,
and I have the words of Deuteronomy 6:5 posted over the door to the garage, so every time I leave I’m reminded that loving God and His children is the most important thing I could possible do that day.
Our Father’s love is sacrificial. I may never be able to fully comprehend what God did for us when he sacrificed His own Son, Jesus, so that we might live with Him forever. It is the greatest act of love ever recorded. We see this verse all the time at sporting events but just meditate on it for a minute: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” Could you imagine sacrificing your own child so that another might live? It is a love beyond comprehension. And because of this love, we can call God, Father. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1).
For a fatherless girl like me, there is no greater gift than the sacrificial love of my Abba Daddy. I am not sure where I’d be without it. Won’t you pray today for your heavenly Dad to increase your understanding of His love for you, and for His people? Spend some time in His presence, and tell Him how much you love Him in return. God, in His abundant love, is waiting for you to respond.
The tears were streaming down my face and I couldn’t do anything to prevent the steady flow of emotion. I was at a recent church service where our pastor, Robert Morris, was speaking about “The Family of God” and how God is our Father. Morris said God adopts us into a family of “Unconditional Love,” “Unmerited Favor,” and “Unearned Blessings.” Those are “uns” that touched my heart because if my heavenly Father had been unforgiving, I would never be able to stand before Him as a daughter. As a fatherless girl, I am so thankful for my heavenly Father! Here’s a link to the sermon in case you need a good cry of gratitude as well. http://gatewaypeople.com/ministries/life/events/blessed-families-a-gateway-series/session/2018/12/01/the-family-of-god
I am also thankful that God is a forgiving God and that through His Son’s sacrifice on the cross, He wipes the dirt off our slate and gives us some cleaning tools to live a more righteous life in His eyes. In today’s segment of “Knowing the Father,” we will look at how our heavenly Father forgives us.
God forgives us when we turn away from Him. In this case, I think of the story of the prodigal son, a depiction of God’s love for us. After a rich man’s son left home and squandered away all of his inheritance, he returned to his dad, never dreaming that he’d still be accepted as a son. He decided that working as one of his father’s hired servants was better than continuing to have pigs as roommates. But the passage in Luke 15 says the father saw his son “while he was still a long way off” and he “was filled with compassion for him…” This dad didn’t stand there, arms crossed with steam shooting out of his ears. Instead he was a love magnet. He “ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Luke 15:21). Remember, the father wasn’t the one who left home. He had been there all along. It’s the son that moved. In the same way, God is never the One to drift away from us. While we’re off trying to make life work in our own power, He’s waiting sovereignly and patiently for us to realize our existence is empty without Him.
We have to understand nothing can fill His shoes.
And that we simply can’t make it on our own.
James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been running away from God. I was a runner for seventeen years. When we return, our heavenly Father is waiting with open arms and says, “I’ve missed you.”
God forgives us when we deny him before others. Sometimes we don’t want people to know who our parents are. For many years, my mother was a big secret that I didn’t share with others because I didn’t want to be associated with mental illness. However, after forgiving my mom and seeing her through God’s eyes, I now understand how the sudden death of my father, two months before I was born, could have created the emotional damage she experienced. We also deny God, but for different reasons.
God forgives us for all of our deficiencies. He understands our humanness. Jesus predicted Peter would deny Him three times and He probably knows we’ll deny him even more than that. But we know He forgives us because He is continues to give us more opportunities, whispering in our ear, “Tell them about me” or “Take a stand for my Son.” He also beckons us back to His presence. Isaiah 55:7 says, “Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”
God forgives us when we don’t follow His instruction. This doesn’t mean there won’t be discipline along the way, but God will always forgive us if we are repentant after not obeying His Word. The Israelites were notorious for following the rules for a while, then conveniently forgetting what they learned. It cost them an extra forty-year stay in the wilderness, but despite their sinfulness at times, their heavenly Father still took care of their needs, feeding them Manna from Heaven and giving them water to drink. Even though most of the first refugees from Egypt died off, in God’s abundant forgiveness, he allowed their offspring to enter the Promised Land. Here’s the difference between us and them. If we have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, we are assured we won’t fall short of the Promised Land—spending eternity with God, despite falling short in obedience.
He forgives us of all of our past and current sins. This is a biggie, because without this forgiveness we’d have no hope. Colossians 1:13–14 says, “For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
For what have you been redeemed and forgiven? Like the old movie, “Back to the Future,” I wish I could go back to those earlier years and change history, but if I did, I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog, birthed out of my experience with God’s grace. It doesn’t matter how far back the sin goes, God forgiveness covers all. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)
For what has God forgiven you? Are you thankful for your Father’s forgiveness? Where would you be without it?
God can use anyone as a conduit for healing, and I am one of those He occasionally calls on to lay hands on the sick. I have seen the Lord remove cancer, lower blood pressure, heal a damaged vocal chord, repair an ailing foot, smooth out inflamed skin, disintegrate a troublesome nodule and turn back the affects of diabetes. Our Father in Heaven still heals today. However, in order to activate supernatural healing, we must believe God is a Healer. In Part 4 of “Knowing the Father” we will delve deeper into this aspect of God as Jehovah Rapha, our Healer.
The Father heals disease– There are almost thirty-seven miracles of Jesus mentioned in the Gospels and most of those supernatural events involve some form of healing.
When God calls me to pray over someone, I often refer to the story of the Centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant. When Jesus said he would go to the Centurion’s house to conduct the healing, the Centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8). Jesus saw that as a show of great faith, and through faith in the Word that became flesh, Jesus, we can also claim the healing Word of God over ourselves and others, verses like: “Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:3) or “Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed, save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise” (Jeremiah 17:14). Whether it’s emotional or physical healing on Earth or restoration in Heaven, every Christian will experience miraculous healing.
The Father heals our broken hearts– Has human love ever let you down? While I am happily married, I still remember an earlier relationship where my heart was shattered by a boyfriend. It took time and many boxes of Kleenex to pick up the pieces and move on. But God promises in Psalm 147:3 that he “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
Through the Pearls of Promise ministry I have found that many women who have endured relationship wounds over the years will place a padlock on those pierced areas of their hearts. Throw in a few more hurts and padlocks, and you have a closed-off heart where the love of God cannot flow in our out to others. In all of these cases, it’s important to turn the pain over to God and let Him do heart surgery. Only the Lord can fill the holes left by rejection, angry words or betrayal. Claim Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” And 1 Chronicles 28:20: “Fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God will be with you; He will not fail you, nor forsake you!”
The Father heals our sinfulness– As hard as we try to be righteous women, there is still that sinful nature lurking in the shadows. Whether it’s anger, judgmental thoughts or coveting, this sinfulness is something we’ve all inherited and there’s only one answer for healing of the human condition, belief in Jesus Christ. Isaiah 53:5 says, “By his wounds we are healed.” Jesus loaded up all of the wrongs we’ve committed on his shoulders when he went to the cross. 1 Peter 2:24 says, “’He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’”
There is no sin, no shortcoming, and no crime that the Son of God can’t heal because of His sacrifice.
If Jesus can take away the grievous sins I committed in my younger years, He can heal you from your past as well. I don’t want to ever return to the sins of yesteryear, do you? In order to avoid repeating history, almost every morning I pray, “Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
In addition to healing us from our sins, God also gives us the strength and joy to move forward as healed children of God, glorifying our heavenly Father in our work and ministries (Philippians 4:13).
Won’t you claim God’s healing today?
He desires to make you whole again.
He wants to clean your wounds.
He longs to erase the pain of the past and hand deliver a future, not filled with regret, but with hope.
Do you have a father wound? We want to help you know your heavenly Father in a deeper way through Lisa Burkhardt Worley’s new book, “The Only Father I Ever Knew: How a Fatherless Child Finally Found True Love.” Get your copy today on Amazon.com.
My grandfather, Frost Carvel, was an architect who designed thousands of homes in South Texas, many of which are still standing. However, to save client’s money, he also took on the Contractor role and watched over the building process. That meant his job was not finished once the blueprints were created. He traveled to job sites daily, and brick-by-brick, watched the homes he created take shape and come to life. That must have been thrilling for him. In the same way, I believe God is like an architect/builder who is thrilled to see His creation, you, taking shape. He has a supernatural interest in you, and doesn’t want to see his building crumble. In the third part of “Knowing the Father,” we will look at how our heavenly Father builds us.
He builds our bodies. Psalm 139:13 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” At times, I can complain about the way I look. What about you? However, we must remember that God put our bodies together. He designed our faces, our frame and our inner parts. When we criticize our appearance, we are criticizing the designer. Meanwhile, our Maker does have at least one replacement part. When we accept His Son as Lord and Savior, Scripture says we are given a new heart. “I will plant a new heart and new spirit inside of you. I will take out your stubborn, stony heart and give you a willing, tender heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit inside of you and inspire you to live by My statutes and follow My laws” (Ezekiel 36:26-27). I know I have a new heart. How about you? At one time all I wanted to do was please myself. Now my heart’s desire is to please God.
He Builds a Firm Foundation. God has already poured the slab for all of us, Jesus Christ. The Bible says Jesus has been laid as our firm foundation, whether we acknowledge Him or not (1 Corinthians 3:11) but how we build on this foundation is up to us. Will we construct our house with quality materials, or will we compromise the process with cheap building supplies? Will we allow the Maker full access to the interior of our house? Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Jesus Christ is also the Chief Cornerstone that holds the entire building together (Ephesians 2:19-22). God wants us to be strong vessels so that our bodies can act as temples to house His Holy Spirit.
One of my favorite necklaces is one I purchased in Shiloh, Israel, the site of the first Temple where God’s presence resided. It’s a replica of the temple and sits directly on my heart, where God’s Holy Spirit now dwells, for those of us who have invited Him in.
He Builds our Faith. We don’t have to make this journey alone. Once we become Christians, we can ask our Abba Father to help us grow spiritually. He’s a creative God who will find countless ways to stretch us. Colossians 2:6–7 says, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” According to The MacArthur Bible Commentary, this “rooting, building, and establishing is in sound doctrine.” Staying connected to, and reading and studying the word of God is a faith builder.
God desires for us to build up others. With the encouragement we received from God throughout our building process, our heavenly Father wants us to pay it forward, so that friends, family members and even acquaintances are strengthened. We are called to comfort people in the midst of trials. Have you ever walked through something difficult, felt like the Lord brought you through it, then you met someone going through the exact issue that you just overcame? That is no coincidence. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, God comforts us in all of our troubles, “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” The Builder wants us to encourage our sisters and brothers so that their design withstands the fierce storms that attempt to blow them off their foundation.
If God inspected your house today, would He be pleased with the building, or would there be remodeling required?
Give your life to the Builder, and watch Him create a beautiful design beyond your imagination.
He Teaches Us
“But I don’t want to stay home from school!”
Did you ever say that as a child? Maybe not, but I was one of those geeky kids who loved school and had to be forced to stay home when I was sick. Sometimes, even when under the weather, I would still attempt to go to my classes, only to be sent home later in the day. Awwww.
I haven’t changed, and my favorite place of discovery is the Bible. The Word of God is more than a history book like some believe. It is “alive and active, sharper than a double-edged sword,” (Hebrews 4:12) and teaches us how to live on a daily basis. The Bible contains everything we need to be a survivor in a topsy-turvy world. It is our lifeline—the spiritual food that sustains us. So in today’s blog, let’s enter God’s classroom and do a quick tour of some of the subjects in our heavenly Father’s curriculum.
He wants to teach us His ways. I made a lot of mistakes in my younger years when my nose wasn’t buried in the Bible. Because I wasn’t connected to the Word, I didn’t educate myself about God’s boundaries and laws, equipping me to live a more righteous life. Knowing what I know now, I’d love to have a do-over, but that’s not possible. Instead God’s amazing grace covers my sin, and through the knowledge I now possess as a result of daily study, I will be held more accountable. In Psalm 119:11 it says we should hide what we learn from God’s Word in our hearts so we won’t sin against Him. Psalm 119:66 assures us that studying God’s word will give us knowledge and good judgment so that we make the right decisions.
He wants to teach us what’s true and negate lies of the enemy. What are some of the lies you speak to yourself? Here are mine: “You’re not pretty enough.” “You’re not loved.” “You’re a has-been.” However, because I know the Word of God, I am assured that I am created in God’s image, so I am beautiful in His eyes. God promises that He loves me with an unfailing love, and even though I have not achieved the same “success” in a ministry career as I did in my television career, I am confident that God has me right where He wants me because He is in control of my life. When the Devil tempted Jesus in the desert, Jesus came up with the antidote to Satan’s lies—truths from scripture, and through the Word, counteracted all the enemy’s claims. A good prayer to remember is Psalm 25:5: “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”
He wants to teach us what to say in difficult situations. Nehemiah provides a great example of this truth. He was the King of Persia’s royal cupbearer, yet he had been summoned by fellow Israelites to return home and take a temporary job as superintendent over the building of the wall around Jerusalem. It had been destroyed during the Babylonian siege and subsequent exile. He prayed fervently before asking the king for a leave of absence, because such a request could result in death. He even prayed in the middle of his conversation with the king. (Nehemiah 2:4) The king not only allowed Nehemiah to return home, he also provided extra provisions for the journey. When Jesus was giving instructions to the disciples, he said, “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach at that time what you will say” (Luke 12:12).
He wants to teach us revelatory things. When I start my morning quiet time, I often say, “Lord, show me something I haven’t seen before.” Jeremiah 3:33 says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Our heavenly Father wants to stretch us and expand our horizon concerning our knowledge of Him. I have received many prophetic words from people and believe prophecy is still alive and well. God will use others or hand us a direct word if we ask him. In seminary I learned that the way you can determine if a prophet is real is if his/her prophecy comes true. In 1 Corinthians 14:1, the Apostle Paul said we should desire the spiritual gift of prophecy.
God is our Teacher. Let’s think a little deeper. Who taught the cows to eat grass? Who taught the wild goats to live in the mountains? How do birds know how to make a nest? God is also a teacher of creation. In our case, how do we know to work? God created work. (Psalm 104) Meanwhile, to learn more, His Word contains bountiful treasure if we dig deep daily. If we stay connected to our Father through prayer, the Holy Spirit will provide guidance and revelation that could only come from God. What are you waiting for? It’s time to delve into higher education.
As Christians, God’s laws are also inscribed on our hearts, but we have to listen for those heavenly warnings when we’re about to make a wrong move.
He wants to teach us how to do his will. (Psalm 143:10) (John 14:26) I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)