Knowing God as Father

Many Christians who love God without reserve struggle with the idea that God loves them infinitely more than that. They cannot grasp the thought of God as their Father—the Father—because of the poor example of their own fathers as they grew up. If their earthly fathers have been absent from their lives or they have suffered physical or sexual abuse from their fathers, the whole concept of “father” is skewed for them. They think of themselves as damaged and unlovable and this leads to difficulties in viewing God the Father as their own “Abba Father” who loves them beyond measure.

In Scripture there are many different names used to describe God. While all the names of God are important in many ways, the name “Abba Father” is one of the most significant names of God in understanding how He relates to people. The word Abba is an Aramaic word that would most closely be translated as “Daddy.” It was a common term that young children would use to address their fathers. It signifies the close, intimate relationship of a father to his child, as well as the childlike trust that a young child puts in his “daddy.”

Today’s post is a devotional from John MacArthur’s book, Daily Readings from the Life of Christ.

Knowing God as Father

“‘“Our Father who is in heaven . . .”’” (Matthew 6:9).

Only those who have come to God through Christ can call God “Father.” He is the Father of unbelievers only in that He created them (cf. Mal. 2:10; Acts17:28). It is only those who trust Jesus who have “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12; cf. Rom. 8:14; Gal. 3:26).

In the Old Testament, faithful Jews saw God as the Father of Israel, the nation He elected as His special people. Isaiah proclaimed, “You, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is Your name” (Isa. 63:16b; cf. Ex. 4:22; Jer. 31:9). Many of them even saw God in an intimate way as their spiritual Father and Savior (Pss. 89:26; 103:13).

But because of their disobedience toward God’s commands and their embracing of false gods around them, most Jews of Jesus’ time had lost the true sense of God’s fatherhood and viewed Him as only the remote Deity of their ancestors.

These six words at the beginning of the Disciples’ Prayer reaffirm that God is the Father of all who trust in Him. Jesus Himself used the title “Father” in all His recorded prayers except one (Matt. 27:46). Although the text here uses the more formal Greek pater for Father, Jesus likely used the Aramaic abba when He spoke these words. Abba has a more personal connotation (cf. Mark14:36; Rom. 8:15), equivalent to the English “daddy.”

Because saints belong to Jesus the Son, they can come to God the Father (“Daddy”) as His beloved children.

Ask Yourself

Certainly in our decadent day and age, many are increasingly growing up in homes where “father” is a person to be feared, a person who rejects, a person who demeans and devalues. How does God’s identity as “Father” fill the holes left by even well-meaning dads who fall short of what their role requires?

Please visit John MacArthur’s site, Grace to You.

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, www.moodypublishers.com.

1http://www.gotquestions.org/Abba-Father.html

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When You Choose to Forgive

Forgiving others is often difficult, especially if they have done something that hurts you to the core. Jesus is the ultimate example of how we are to forgive, because He forgave our sins by taking our punishment on Himself in our place.

This is a wonderful piece about the value of forgiveness by Carol Round from ASSIST News Service

When You Choose to Forgive (Writer’s Opinion)

By Carol Round – ASSIST News Service On May 17, 2015

Forgive, and you will be forgiven”—Luke 6:37 (NRSV).

Upset she had cheated my son out of $30, I didn’t want to forgive her. I was also mad at myself because I had been used in the process. I guess it’s because I trust too much, trust others to do unto me as I would do unto them. However, I failed to remember not all people are trustworthy.

My son had agreed to purchase two items through an online site where people buy, sell and trade merchandise. Because the seller lived in a community closer to me, and because my son works odd hours sometimes, he asked me to contact her, set up a time to meet and pay for the merchandise. I agreed.

Read the rest here.

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Memorial Markers

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Now this day will be a memorial to you,
and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD;
throughout your generations you are
to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.
 

—Exodus 12:14

Two years ago today, I enjoyed a day completely free of pain. Days like this are so unusual that I make sure to remember them by setting a memorial/memory marker for each of these times.

I’ve written about memory markers before. These are referred to in the Old Testament as memorials. God encouraged His people to pile up some stones in the places of special blessing as a memorial for them to remember things He had taught them and didn’t want them to forget.

The meaning of the Hebrew word for memorial (v. 7) is “to remember.” Given man’s propensity to forget it is little wonder then that memorials have frequently played an important role in biblical history. At the foot of Mt. Sinai, Moses built an altar of stones to commemorate God’s covenant with Israel (Ex. 12:14) . Now in today’s text we see God command his people to erect a memorial.1

I have my own version of these memorial markers to commemorate certain days or events I don’t want to forget by adding them to my cell phone calendar and setting alerts.

It is so easy to get caught up in the cycle of pain, thinking that’s all there is in my life. However, God gives me special days and occasions to remind me that He is always with me and will never let me go. So I cling to these memorial markers during the ongoing days of chronic illness when it often seems I will never climb out of the pit.

What this has done in my life has been remarkable. It used to be that I would mentally cry “I don’t understand!” But now, even though I still don’t understand (because I’m not God), I find myself telling Him, “I don’t get it, but I trust that You know what You’re doing and that’s good enough for me.”

You see, God has shown me that He wants me to remember that I can always count on Him. So on each of my pain-free occasions, I have made a new memorial marker on my phone calendar so I can recall the day (or event) and the outcome when I need encouragement.

Beloved, I want to encourage you today if you’re going through a tough time. It is so easy to be thankful when things are going well but understandably much harder to have thankful thoughts when everything seems to be falling apart.

I know what I’m talking about here.

I once read a devotional that confirms what I have long suspected. We were encouraged to store up the memories of precious times when we felt God blessing us with something special, and slide those memories out during the tough times.

In other words, remember the good during the not-so-good.

Here is the crucial part of trusting God: each time I choose to trust God during a particularly puzzling and/or frustrating situation, He demonstrates His faithfulness to me. Sometimes that means He answers a particular prayer in a particular way. Other times He fills me with the overwhelming sense that I can absolutely trust Him while He works behind the scenes, even if it doesn’t feel like He is hearing me. This is where faith comes in.

During one of the toughest times in my life, God pointed me to Isaiah 26:3 and I cling to it to this day:

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“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

Beloved, how about you? Do you do anything to remember those sweet, special times where you can see the Lord at work? And if so, share how you commemorate those times in the comments below. 

1“Building Memorials to Remember God” from Sermons.Logos.com 

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Fibromyalgia Awareness Day 2015

FMS---Collage Today is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.  How do you like my shades-of-purple manicure to honor the occasion? And I just happened to be wearing that t-shirt on the same day I had my nails done. I think that was the inspiration for the purple mani. After all, a girl needs to have a little fun once in a while, even if she happens to be feeling yucky. Not surprisingly, my personal theme for 2015 Fibromyalgia Awareness Day just happens to be “Think Purple!” The chart below is a real eye opener and may help you understand the complexity and far-reaching effects of Fibromyalgia. Top 10 Fibromyalgia Facts You Need to Know Today from the Fibromyalgia Support page on Facebook:   I am ever thankful for my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ who helps me get through every single day. Praise be to His holy and precious name!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;     his love endures forever. —Psalm 106:1

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2015 Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

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Tomorrow, May 12th, is designated as Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. There are too many people who live with this disease. I have had to count myself among them since 1999, when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) plus Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS)—also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

“Fibromyalgia (pronounced fy-bro-my-AL-ja) is a complex chronic pain disorder that affects an estimated 10 million Americans. While it occurs most often in women, it strikes men and children, and all ethnic backgrounds. For those with severe symptoms, fibromyalgia (FM) can be extremely debilitating and interfere with basic daily activities.

  • The FM diagnostic criteria, established by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) in 1990, includes a history of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of three months, and pain in at least 11 of the 18 designated tender points when a specified amount of pressure is applied.
  • Since people with FM tend to look healthy and conventional tests are typically normal, a physician knowledgeable about the disorder is necessary to make a diagnosis.
  • Physicians should rule out other causes of the symptoms before making a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.”

Read more here.

One of the most distressing things that people with FMS experience is disbelief from family and friends because we mostly look normal, that is, like there’s nothing out-of-the-ordinary wrong with us. The common phrase we hear is, “But you look so good!” I have often replied, “Thank God for makeup” although I seldom wear makeup these days.

The truth is this: My hair may be nicely fixed and I have taken the time to do my eyebrows and apply some lip balm or lip color. I may even put in some earrings if I feel up to it. My hubby frequently compliments me on how good I look.

But most days when I look in the mirror what I see is a tired and wrinkled old hag. Really. Because that’s how I feel inside.

A typical day for me begins with my daily migraine (usually with nausea) and includes extreme pain in joints and ligaments. I often have pain in my chest similar to what a heart attack feels like. But it’s not a heart attack. It’s called Costochondritis and is one of my FMS symptoms. Even though I am used to these episodes, I still wonder every time if this is the day I am having a heart attack.

Stressful? You betcha!

And I haven’t even touched on the debilitating fatigue that is part of both FMS and CFIDS. No matter how much sleep I get, I always—and I mean always—feel like I haven’t slept at all.

I normally wake up between 6:00 and 7:30 a.m. but a couple of hours later I’m already thinking it’s time to get back into bed. Some days I do. Other times I keep pushing myself to get a few things done until lunch time. After lunch I either get back into bed or slide into my recliner for a snooze in front of the TV. Even though Rick is always volunteering to do things for me, I thank him and reply that I need to do as much as I am physically capable of doing, for as long as I am able to do so.

When Rick and I have planned activities such as going out for a meal, meeting up with friends, going to church or even just grocery shopping, I have to prepare myself beforehand with plenty of rest. That doesn’t guarantee that I’ll actually be able to get to any of these planned events, but at least I try. And if I do make it, there’s the payback afterwards—sometimes for days (or weeks), especially if some traveling was part of the activity.

I happen to be blessed with a family and many close friends who do their best to understand all of this. I have had to cancel or reschedule countless activities with them, yet they still stand by me. And for that I am truly blessed. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this and visit the NFMCPA site (National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association) for more information.

God bless you all!

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How to be Content, Part 2

Contentment is difficult to attain and maintain when we’re going through some very tough times. Here’s another great piece about contentment, from David Jeremiah’s Turning Points daily devotional magazine. Please visit Dr. Jeremiah’s site to find more wonderful articles.

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Popular Verses

Be anxious for nothing,
but in everything by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
and the peace of God…will guard your hearts and minds.

—Philippians 4:6-7

Recommended Reading: Philippians 4:4-9

What’s the most popular verse in the Bible? Last fall, the retailer Amazon released a list of the most popular passages from its most popular books, and the most commonly highlighted portion of the Bible was Philippians 4:6-7. Readers of e-Bibles underlined that passage more often than any other in Scripture.

When we look around at our anxious world and our fretful lives, we can understand why people are drawn to the promises of Philippians 4. But notice the context of the passage. The Lord tells us here to rejoice in Him (verse 4); to be gentle in our dealings with others (verse 5a); to remember how near He is to us (verse 5b); to pray earnestly about our concerns (verse 6a); to count our blessings with thankfulness (verse 6b); and to focus our minds on what is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and praiseworthy (verse 8).

What a wonderful description of the life of faith! When we trust the Lord like this, we don’t have to fret about the small details of life. We can rely on God with issues both big and small.

Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear. —Corrie ten Boom

Read-Thru-the-Bible: Judges 1-3

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National Day of Prayer 2015

Please pray for our nation!

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Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant
is praying in your presence this day.
—1 Kings 8:28

Please pray along with me:

Heavenly Father, our nation has strayed so far from our Christian roots. We seem to have forgotten that kingship belongs to You alone. You are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and deserve all of our worship and praise.

Please forgive us for all the times we have not first looked to You for guidance in everything we say and do. Forgive our country for the willful disregard and hatred of You and all You are to us, for not trusting You enough, for not believing completely in the saving grace of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Please renew the faith of those who love You and glorify You as we watch and pray for a nation in the midst of tremendous turmoil.

Father, we love You, although we don’t always show it. And though we don’t deserve it, please don’t abandon this country. We plead with you to turn the unbelieving and untrusting hearts of a nation intent on setting standards that go completely against Your will for us, into a country that once again seeks to follow Your ways. Please protect those who love You, and keep us close to You.

Amen.

All the ends of the earth shall remember    
and turn to the Lord,    
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.   
For kingship belongs to the Lord,   
and he rules over the nations.
—Psalm 22:27-28

 

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2015 National Day of Prayer is Tomorrow

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Tomorrow is
the National Day of Prayer

Beloved, we are a nation at a crossroads right now. Please join me tomorrow in praying for our country. The need is great.

From the National Day of Prayer site: 

The 64th annual National Day of Prayer, May 7, 2015, will have profound significance for our country.  It is an unprecedented opportunity to see the Lord’s healing and renewing power made manifest as we call on citizens to humbly come before His throne.

Our theme for 2015 is Lord, Hear Our Cry, emphasizing the need for individuals, corporately and individually, to place their faith in the unfailing character of their Creator, who is sovereign over all governments, authorities, and men.  To further highlight our theme, we’ve chosen I Kings 8:28 as our Scripture for this year:  “Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.”

2015 National Prayer by Dr. Jack Graham

Heavenly Father,

We come to You in the Name that is above every name—Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Our hearts cry out to You.

Knowing that You are a prayer-answering, faithful God—the One we trust in times like these—we ask that You renew our spirits, revive our churches, and heal our land.

We repent of our sins and ask for Your grace and power to save us. Hear our cry, oh God, and pour out Your Spirit upon us that we may walk in obedience to Your Word.

We are desperate for Your tender mercies. We are broken and humbled before You.

Forgive us, and in the power of Your great love, lift us up to live in Your righteousness.

We pray for our beloved nation. May we repent and return to You and be a light to the nations. And we pray for our leaders and ask that You give them wisdom and faith to follow You.

Preserve and protect us, for You are our refuge and only hope.

Deliver us from all fears except to fear You, and may we courageously stand in the Truth that sets us free.

We pray with expectant faith and grateful hearts.

In Jesus’ name, our Savior.

Amen.

You can listen to the audio version here.

How to Pray for America

by Franklin Graham

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“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
–Psalms 11:3

I believe our nation is in trouble today, probably more than I’ve seen in my lifetime. We are contending with issues that are causing the very foundation of our country to crumble. Our moral and spiritual roots are eroding, the economy is misleading, family life is disintegrating, and political forces are at unprecedented odds. There seem to be very few leaders who will take a stand for God and for His Word.

It can be tempting to believe that America has reached a point of no return. While these factors cause despair, we are reminded in Scripture that with God, nothing is impossible. No problem is too great for Him. Seasons of distress and uncertainty and hardship call for faithful, fervent prayer by God’s people and remind us of our responsibility to humble ourselves before Almighty God. We cannot expect healing to come to our nation apart from obedience to God through His Holy Word.

Read the rest here.

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When Little Ones Pray – The Power of the Meek

I wrote this post last week and scheduled it for today. However, as you must know by now, the people of Nepal and Kathmandu are in great need of prayer because of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck central Nepal this past Saturday, April 25th. Some of those affected include the Bridge of Hope centers that I refer to in the original post I wrote which follows this news release I received in an email from Gospel for Asia:

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More than 1,000 Dead, Survivors Struggling After Nepal Earthquake

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Nepal, less than 50 miles outside the capital city of Kathmandu, just before noon Saturday, killing more than 1,000 people in Nepal, India, Tibet and Bangladesh. The death toll is expected to rise.

Rescuers in Nepal are searching through the rubble for survivors. More than 1,700 have been injured, and hospitals are overwhelmed.

Gospel for Asia has 450 churches and 20 Bridge of Hope centers in the region. Some churches and some centers have been destroyed by the quake.

Between 30 and 40 of Gospel for Asia’s missionaries serving in Uttar Pradesh, an Indian state bordering Nepal, are headed toward the destruction to help.

This is estimated to be the worst earthquake to hit Nepal in 80 years.

Read the rest here.  Beloved, thank you for praying about this.

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When Little Ones Pray –
The Power of the Meek

I often post about prayer. There is nothing else like prayer. It blesses us and God to pray for others. Our hearts become one with those for whom we pray. And God uses our prayers for our good and for His glory.

At the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus preached the Beatitudes. This is one of them:

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. —Matthew 5:5

K. P. Kohannan is the founder and president of Gospel for Asia, and his wonderful book, No Longer a Slumdog, tells the story of how the children (the meek) of Asia have learned to pray. They daily use the power of prayer to affect their lives and those of their family and neighbors.

From the Gospel for Asia’s No Longer a Slum Dog site:

When you teach a child that the God who loves them unconditionally answers prayer, miracles can happen. Sagan and his friends learned of the power of prayer from watching their Bridge of Hope teachers. Soon they were praying for those in need, while watching God answer. See what happens when they hear of a young boy with a terminal condition in a neighboring village.

Beloved, please take the time to watch this 5-minute video. You will be touched by the faith of these little children that God is using to change lives in Asia. Click here to get a free copy of No Longer a Slumdog.

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