Monday, October 21, 2013

Knowing the Father

I want to share some thoughts with you about something that's been on my heart lately and that is not only our relationship with Jesus, our Savior, but with The Father. Let's face it, "knowing" God can be a little intimidating and confusing. Let's look at this scripture below and hear what Jesus has to say about it.

Version: NAS
John 14:6-15

6. Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. 7. "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." 8. Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." 9. Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and [yet] you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, 'Show us the Father '? 10. "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11. "Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works themselves. 12. "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. 13. "And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14. "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do [it]. 15. "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

(google images)

I've talked about this before, but when I was younger I just didn't comprehend well the difference in God the Father, and Jesus the Son. Oh yes, I understood the Trinity, and that Jesus was God's Son and was sent to earth to be mankind's salvation, but I needed to know the "personality" of God the Father; what He was like. 

I grew up in a denomination which at the time was pretty much an hour of yelling about how we were on our way to Hell if we weren't "saved". Week after week it was the same sermon disguised as different topics. I had a wonderful relationship with Jesus, but my relationship with the Father was based on fear... fear and misunderstanding. I envisioned Him not as a loving, kind, and generous Father, but as an Entity that was distant, demanding and strict; not someone I cared to have scrutinizing my every move, And certainly not someone I felt like I could really "trust", because, frankly I'd heard this phrase concerning God way too many times..."Well, you just never know." Who would want to have a Heavenly Father that you couldn't count on and actually trust?

So this brings me to today and my relationship with the One who created the Universe, parted the Red Sea, and let His own Son die on a cross. Seemingly, some diverse qualities, and let's not forget how He opened up a hole in the ground and a big bunch of Israelites were swallowed up right in front of Moses. Yikes, I have to admit, sometimes I'm a complainer. I'm just hoping that He's cooled off a little since then or I might be in for some trouble. (I'm just having a little fun here) To the average Christian, God can be portrayed as a little scary and not someone who might be there for you when you just need some TLC.

Jesus made a point of explaining that He was "in the Father and that the Father is in Him". Sort of sounds like, "OK, guys, do you understand...we're the SAME." Yes, before Jesus was sent to earth in the time of the Old Testament or the Old Covenant, God was pretty strict. He had some rules, but He had to give us those rules to live by. Rules are given to guide us, and show us that there are consequences when we go off and do things our own way. But God the Father has always forgiven our messing up. Just take the life of King David for instance. He was an adulterer and murderer, but someone who loved God and humbled himself before Him. God forgives, He loves us, He's just like Jesus who had His arms open to all the little children. We're His children and He loves us. He wants to hold us in His arms.

So, if you're feeling like you don't measure up because of some past situations and sin in your life, or you feel like you're just not sure if God could really love you... or if you are going through some hard things like illness, marriage problems, or financial things, just remember He's just like Jesus. He already "knows" us, and He's longing for us to "know" Him too. There's a lot more to say on this subject, and I imagine that I'll continue this, but for now be sure of one thing. God has good plans for us. He may allow a time of trial or testing, but He sees our heart. Hang in there and know He's working on your behalf. You can trust Him.

love in Jesus,

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Be Available...

In the middle of the night I heard a name being said. It wasn't my name, but someone else's. It was somewhat of a startling feeling, but I knew I hadn't heard it with my "physical" ears, but with my "spiritual" ones. I lay there thinking about it for a moment when I heard it again. Someone's name that I didn't know well, but as soon as I heard it, I knew exactly who this person was. Their identity was clear, but I didn't know what God was trying to say about them. That fact didn't matter, it was just the Holy Spirit's way of letting me know I needed to pray for them.

Have you had something similar happen to you?

I imagine most Christian's have at one time or another, felt a burden on their heart for someone or some "thing", that was totally "off your radar"; something or someone that wasn't in your day-to-day thoughts or interest. The question is, what did we do about it. Did we dismiss the thought as being weird or creepy or even psychic? Or did we take a minute to go to the Lord and ask. "was that You, and what would you like me to do about this?"

I found out many years ago that God really wants to communicate with us, and that one of the first steps in moving into a deeper relationship with Him was being open to praying for others. God longs for intimacy with our heart, mind, and spirit. He desires that we take time to be open for His work, and one of the most important things we can do as a believer is to raise up our brothers and sisters in Christ in prayer, and yes, even those who don't know Jesus.

via google images

Prayer can be somewhat of a "mysterious" thing, an aspect of our Christian walk that is expected, and at the same time misunderstood. I remember when I first started seeking a deeper relationship with God that I was involved in our prayer ministry at a very large church. We each took turns praying for different ministries within our church. The college ministry, was one in particular that I had a deep affinity for because of my own daughter who was in college, but not attending church at the time. I knew there were kids there that were Christians that were living way outside of the scope that God had in mind for them. We would be given "outlines" of how to pray for these different ministry groups and the leaders. At first it was somewhat rote and methodical until I realized this was the perfect opportunity to let God be more specific in my prayer time. At first I was hesitant because I didn't want to get too "personal" but sometimes that's how God is enabled to do His work. He would bring young people's names and faces to mind during prayer time, and I could tell there were things that God wanted to do in their lives. Sometimes God reveals things to us about others so we can pray specifically, other times we don't need to know the details, just bring them before the Throne so God can get to work.

And that brings me to one of the great purposes of prayer, giving God the "go ahead" and invitation to "get to work" in the situation. People who are not "pray-ers" don't realize the importance of calling upon God to be involved in our lives, and the lives of those we care about. God works through His People and desires that we be participants in seeing His work accomplished. I used to have the idea that God was capable all by Himself to see His will done, and people be saved. What I didn't understand, that while that is absolutely true that He is Sovereign and Almighty, He chooses to get the rest of us "involved".

So the next time you feel that tug to pray for someone, just take a moment to do it. Don't put it off, God is calling you to invite Him into the life of the person He's speaking to you about. You may or may not know the outcome of that prayer, but be sure, God has His purposes, and He knows those He can entrust to be doing His work. And let me also assure you, not only will you be doing God's work, He will begin to open those lines of deeper communication with you as well.  Be available to God, He'll take you up on it!

love in Jesus,