John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
God isn’t just another person in life who goes around saying things He doesn’t mean. God cannot lie and He does not make promises He doesn’t keep. When He says He loves us, He doesn’t just leave it at that. He demonstrates it.
Do we understand what it means that God loves us? Do we grasp the heaviness of the fact that the one who created all things has affection for us? That He thinks about us? That He has a plan for us? He works in our lives, shaping us to be who He created us to be. He disciplines us when we’ve done wrong, just as a father disciplines his children so that they’ll learn right from wrong. God shows His love by being involved in our lives.
In an act that could never be confused for anything but love, God sent His Son to die a painful death of suffering on a cross, taking on our sin and giving us His righteousness, so that He could have a relationship with us. This act was not because we had done anything to earn His love, but because He just loved us that much.
When we struggle in life, when things just don’t seem to make sense, when we feel like no one loves us, we can look at all that God has done for us. Look to the forgiveness you’ve received in Christ, to the wonderful promises God has made, and to the Holy Spirit He’s placed in your life to comfort and guide you. He loves you so much that He can’t stay away from you. He’s crazy about you.
Isaiah 33:22 For the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our lawgiver; the Lord is our king; he will save us.
The bad news is, God is our judge. The good news is, the Judge is on our side. If we’re in Christ, we have a mediator who acts on our behalf to keep the Judge’s wrath from us. The Judge sees His Son in us and rules in our favor.
Which of us is worthy of judging another? We’ve all committed sins and are guilty of our own transgressions. How could we judge anyone with so many strikes against us? But God isn’t like us. The Judge is without sin, without blemish. He is holy, and only one who is holy is worthy to judge. He alone holds the right to hand down a verdict.
One day we’ll all stand before Him and He’ll make His ruling. We’re either not-guilty because we’ve believed on Christ for our salvation, or we’re guilty because we tried to be good enough on our own and didn’t measure up. Where will you stand on the final judgement day? Will you be acquitted of all charges because Christ your mediator stands between you and the Judge, or will you find yourself accused without counsel to defend you?
Isaiah 64:8 But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
What does God want from us? Sometimes we need but ask Him. We’ll find many times that He’s already at work in us to bring about His purposes. We are His instruments in this life, if we’ve given ourselves over to Him…and really even if we haven’t (Romans 9:20-23). He makes us into what He needs us to be, what He wants us to be.
We all have our own desires and our own ideas about what being godly means, but it’s God himself who determines what our strengths and weaknesses are, what our opportunities will be, what our roles in life will be. But we get to where we are in His great plan one step at a time, one little minor change at a time. We experience and encounter things that develop us as a people and then we in turn become a little bit more of what God intended. If we’re following Christ, we’ll be used for good. God will have us play out a role on His team. The wicked and ungodly play a role too in His plan, but not for the same side.
Pray for wisdom, pray that God the Father would work on you to make you into the creation He intended you to be. Seek to be more like Christ, in His character and in His devotion to the Father. Let God work in you and through you as He shapes you into a fine piece of art.
Hebrews 12:7-8 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
How does a child learn to do what’s right? They learn through the example their parents give, yes, but they also learn through correction and discipline when they do the wrong things. By being taught what the rights things are and disciplined over the wrong things, a child can grow into maturity, knowing right from wrong.
How does a Christian learn what God wants? We have Jesus as our example and we have the commandments to guide us in what’s right. But when we stray from what God has taught us doesn’t He also correct us? Doesn’t He sometimes put us back on the right track because He loves us? There’s a big difference between punishment and discipline. Some have the view that God is up above watching for us to mess up so He can take His vengeance on us. That action out of anger would be punishment. But God doesn’t punish those He loves. He disciplines them.
The truth is, we may not always even know we’re being disciplined. The Father may remove something from us that isn’t good for us in a way that provides correction. We may not even have been aware of what happened. God may also put people in our lives at certain times that give some correction. Whatever the method, God disciplines because He loves. Any parent who provides no guidance and no boundaries to their children does not love them. If a child is allowed to destroy themselves, the parent has no love for them. But our Father does love us, and He loves us enough to make sure we’re everything we’re supposed to be.
Galatians 4:6 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
Christian, you have been chosen. Just as an adopted child is chosen by his parents, so too have you been chosen by God and given all the rights due one of His children. Women shouldn’t be put off by the masculine language here. It’s good that we’re all called “sons” of God, despite our gender, because the firstborn son in any first century family who would have been reading this letter written by Paul would have had an abundance of rights that the other children would not have had. We should all be pleased to be called sons of God.
He has adopted us into His family through His Son, Jesus Christ. Through Jesus’ life, death on the cross, and resurrection from the dead, God sent an invitation to us to be part of the family. When we respond, the adoption is final and we gain child status. The adopted children of God have rights to everything the firstborn has as co-heirs with Christ.(Romans 8:17)
Not everyone is a child of God, though He created everyone. Only those who belong to Him through faith in Jesus Christ are His adopted children. But if you are His, take comfort in the knowledge that He chose you to be part of His family. Even while you were still just a sinner, He chose you and called you to Himself. He loves you that much.
Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.
We all have needs. Every one of us has something that we can’t live without, even if it’s only the basics of food and water. But no matter what our needs may be, they are supplied by our Father in heaven. All good gifts are from above. (James 1:17)
What’s more, God knows what we need before we do. He’s aware of our everyday necessities and even our desires. He provides not only what we need to survive, but to thrive and to carry out His purposes. If He calls us to it, He’ll equip us to carry it out. We’re never left without the required tools and skills to be used by God. He’s always ready to give.
Though He knows what we need, in some cases God does want us to ask of Him what we seek. It may be at times that He gives out of His grace and we never even knew to ask. It may, however, be at times that He withholds something from us until we petition Him. This is His prerogative, but it’s done to keep us aligned with His will. If we ask what He wills, it will certainly be given.
Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Our loving heavenly Father watches over His flock and will not lose even one without knowing about it. There’s nowhere that we can go where we’ll be outside His sight and His protection. He can and does protect us. We have nothing to fear.
The things of this world can be dangerous to anyone, but to a follower of Christ, some of them are downright disastrous outside the grace of God. He keeps us from harm and allows nothing to prosper against us as we carry out His purposes. If we’re on the path He sets us on, we’ll see plenty of opposition, but He’ll be the One who keeps us going, guarding us all the way.
He know our weaknesses and won’t allow us to face more temptation than we can bear. In fact, when faced with temptation, God provides us a way out! He gives us the avenue to get away from it, because He cares about our future. He has things for us to do and He’ll provide a way for us to make it to the finish line. He’s there for us, even when it sometimes seems He’s not. He’s never off duty, He’s always watching over us, like a shepherd who cares about each and every one of his little sheep.
1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
We like to make much of what we do for God and what we’ve done to change since becoming Christians, but we leave out how much of the work was done by God himself. Much of what we take credit for was initiated by Him and we merely carried out what He called us to do. Let’s step aside for the moment and consider His calling.
God calls us into fellowship with himself through Jesus. He wants us to be His. He’s a loving Father who adores us and would have us all follow Him in love. He calls us into good works. He wants to see us do something with our faith, not just believe but show our love for Him by serving others and serving Him. We’re His vessels here on earth to do His will, but it requires us letting Him have control of the wheel.
He calls us to repentance. God wants us to seek after Him with a sorrow for the things we’ve done to keep us from Him. We can’t serve sin and God, so when it comes down to it, He’s calling us to genuinely give up the sin and follow Him. He calls us to holiness. We can’t be perfect, but we can be in a right relationship with God through Christ. Holiness and righteousness are His in which to cloak us and we receive them when we follow Him. He calls each of us to ministry. Not all of us will leave our careers and become pastors and preachers, but we all have a ministry in which God can use us to expand His kingdom and bring glory unto himself.
He’s calling even now. There’s something tugging on your heart that you know you ought to do. You read something in God’s Word that the Holy Spirit emphasized in your heart. You are being called and your response does not mean that you are doing anything on your own. Your answer to the call is out of obedience.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Any discussion of God the Father has to begin…in the beginning. God existed before there was time and then, He created time. This is confusing to almost anyone and we won’t spend much time discussing eternality, but the basis of discussing God is the creation of time and all things in existence. Before He spoke it, it didn’t exist.
Clearly, Jesus played a role in creation. Colossians and the Gospel of John make that very clear. But God the Father has the authority to speak things into existence, and so it was with the creation of the world. He spoke, and there was light. He spoke and there was night and there was day. He spoke, and His words were so powerful that whatever He said happened. Now why is it again that we question whether God is powerful enough to help us in our lives?
There was nothing but Him, and then there was what He created. That’s pretty simple, yet it’s so incredibly complicated. How did God exist from eternity if nothing else existed? How did creation take place? Was it a big bang? These are honestly mysteries that aren’t going to be answered easily. We can never know everything about God, but we do know this, our Father set the universe in place, and all things hold together because of Him. We can rely on Him for all of our lives’ issues.
Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
What is the primary responsibility of a parent? How about of a father? What about a Christian father? If you said to raise kids who obey the law and treat others kindly, that’s just part of the equation.
Raising moral kids isn’t enough to sustain them through the circumstances of life. Only a strong foundation in the Word of God, in the gospel, can carry them through. It’s the job of a father (and a mother) to parent in light of the gospel.
If our kids comply to everything we instruct them to do, but have no understanding of God’s grace and mercy, have no idea about the sacrifice He was willing to go through for our reconciliation, then it’s wasted effort in parenting. Compliance to rules does not mean a transformed heart.
Fathers, don’t just expect your kids to do what you say. Don’t use your authority to bend their will to yours. Utilize the authority you’ve been given by the Father to raise them up to know Him. They’ll know Him because you show His nature and character to them by the way you treat them.
If you’re not a parent, this notion still applies for you. There’s someone, somewhere who’s under your authority, however little it may be. The way in which you use that authority, the way in which you instruct and lead will either draw them closer to God or push them away from Him. Lead wisely and be a follower of the Holy Spirit as He guides you.