Posts Tagged family

Carried by Love

Psalm 68 : 5 – 6          Passion Translation

To the fatherless he is a father. To the widow he is a champion friend. To the lonely he gives a family. To the prisoners he leads into prosperity until they sing for joy. This is our Holy God in his Holy Place! But for the rebels there is heartache and despair.

We saw yesterday that God is the perfect parent. Notice that the first three sentences have to do with family relationships. I think that is significant. Families provide individuals with much, so God stands ready to repair and restore family relationships and to be the person each of us needs whether a parent, brother, sister or spouse.

One version says that He is the defender of widows. Women didn’t have any standing of their own. They were either under the protection of their father or their husband. When a husband died, the powerless widow could easily become destitute and a target for those who prey on the weak. In fact, many had to turn to prostitution as the only means for generating income. It was rough, but God saw their plight those many years ago and He sees the challenges today. He is the champion of the widow, her defender, so if a person takes on the widow, he is taking on God. God stands in the shoes of the widow to protect her and her children.

Also, there are no lonely in Christ. He has ways to provide a family, beginning with Himself. He knows that humans need social contact and He does not want any of us to feel lonely.

The most interesting part, though, is His response to prisoners. What kind of prisoners do you think God has in mind here. I don’t think this is the conventional use of the word. The King James refers to the prisoners as those bound in chains. Looking in the Strong’s Concordance causes one to come away with the notion that these are people who are bound or who are being held against their will. God’s grace and compassion absolutely extends to people who are incarcerated as a result of their actions, but this verse seems to convey an image of those being held against their will or restrained. In that regard one might think in broader terms as in any person who is bound by anything or anyone. It might refer to someone who is imprisoned in an unhealthy relationship, maybe by marriage or maybe familial. Others are held captive by their past. Really, there are many ways we are shackled but the key is that God is here to set you free. But that is not all. He wants to shower you with prosperity until you sing for joy. That is so over the top and when God talks about prosperity He means everything in life is flowing with goodness and abundance. Sure, it means money, but it includes everything else too. God has an interesting reaction to setting the captives free. It is not enough for Him just to purchase their freedom. He wants to make up for everything that has been stolen from them as well. That is a good Father.

I am reminded of the words from Isaiah 40: 11, “In His arms He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom.” That is the picture of our loving Father. He wants to gather you up in His arms and carry you next to His chest where no harm can befall you. No matter how you have been hurt in the past, God is here, now, to restore and heal you.

Reborn

John 1: 12 – 13

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even 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.

As pastors we often talk about believers being adopted into the family of God. The Jews were the family of God but through Jesus those of us who were former Gentiles are now part of the family. Though this is good thought and resonates well, it is a bit of an overstatement as well. In truth, we have been reborn and this second birth was as a child of God. We are born again by the will and design of God as His own children. We have a heritage in Christ and an inheritance.

God ordained and predestined us to be His own children. We have our lineage, then, through Christ to the Father of all. Ruminate on that for a moment. It isn’t just theology to say that we are children of God. It is family history. It is the line of who beget whom. Our lineage is through Jesus to the Father. He, Yahweh, is your real Dad. You were a glimmer in His eye long before your biological father was even a thought. At the dawn of time, God had you in mind. He had a plan for your welfare and your inheritance. His plan was that you would be born into His family and share in all that is His. What do you think of that?

The second time we were born, we were born as royalty. We were born again so that we could get all of the lines of lineage sorted by house. You are a child of the King because when you were reborn you were born of the King. Amen. If you can grasp how ultimately true this concept is, then you will have a new lease on life. You will never see things the same again. You are Yahweh’s kid. He provided the second birth so that you would be born into His family. That’s pretty big.

Shout

Zephaniah 3: 14 -15

Shout for you, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away His judgments against you, He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you will fear disaster no more.

Jesus is the Word. He is the gospel. The gospel is the good news of Jesus, the Christ. So, every word in the Bible is a potential source of good news for you, you who are in Jesus. That includes the Old Testament. While you may not typically spend a great deal of time in the book of Zephaniah, it is good to see that God always had good plans for freedom and victory for us.

We have been adopted in the kingdom which was formerly the tribe of Israel. We are members of this family. So, who is the daughter of Zion? The daughter of Jerusalem? Who is Israel? It is you, of course. Some of you know that I frequently line through Israel and write in my own name. This is especially the case when it comes to a promise because every promise God has ever made belongs to me.

I want you to receive today’s passage with the soft tissue of your heart. Here the exultation and the longing for the family. You have good news, you should have a good expectation in all things because the King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst. He is in your breath. Shout in triumph! Rejoice! He, your Father and King, has vanquished your enemies.

However, that is not all. He has put your just judgment behind Him. He has taken it away. People get so hung up on judgment but, let us not. The Word is quite plain about judgment. Jesus bore our judgment so that we can live as God desired, in perfect union with Him. We are made clean by the blood so that no veil of sin separates us from the love of God. We are now positioned where He can pour out His goodness upon us.

Now if that isn’t shouting ground, I clearly don’t know what is. Shout in triumph, the triumph of our Lord Jesus. Glory to his most holy name!

Dad!

Romans 8: 15

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ” Abba! Father!”

Some people do not appreciate that we have been adopted in the Holy one’s family. We are no longer strangers or trespassers. Also, He went to enormous lengths to adopt us. This relationship as Father and child should become very real to you. It can become so real, in fact, that you begin to see Him as your father foremost, even more so than your biological father. God was a father to you before you were a child of your biological father. God is keenly aware of this child/parent relationship and longs to have you treat Him as your father. Yes, He is God almighty but He is your Dad too. He hears every word you speak to Him and is ready when you cry out Abba, father.

Call to Duty

Job 26: 2

How have you helped him who is without power? How have you saved the arm that has no strength?

“These are the times that try men’s souls” (Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, 1776). Undoubtedly those revolutionary times challenged the would-be Americans down to their souls. Truly, though most of us live in much more stable environments than pre-revolution America, each person usually must endure a season of great challenge. It is in these times that we find the strength of God rising to meet us in our times of great need.

When we are powerless, when our arms lack strength, when we are weary down to our bones, our Father fills all the voids and strengthens us. He sustains us and restores our souls. We see this miracle of grace throughout the psalms but it is when you see it manifesting in your own life that your own life takes on new depth and new meaning. And when you approach these trying times looking to the Lord our God, you find that his fulfilling grace is palpable. You can almost touch it, almost see it. It is real.

I am going through one of these challenging times of life and I truly want to learn and grow through it. One of my loved ones is dying of cancer and there is nothing the doctors can do. We must all face these times but they can be easier in the grace of God. So far I have learned two important lessons. First of all, allow people to help you. Allow people to be a blessing to you. Superman is a fictional character so don’t try to be a superhero. Let those who love you express their love and concern for you. It is part of their grieving and healing for you both. My friend Carol, encouraged me to share this difficult time with you. She is teaching me to let people express their love for me. Lin, our graphics genius has inspired me with such wisdom. One of the statements she made to me was, “Ivey, you give to us every day, let us give to you.” This is such a hard thing to do but I recognize that their wisdom is flowing right from the heart of God.

Secondly, I have learned that God fills us up through His power flowing right through the atmosphere and the Holy Spirit to anoint your home, hospital room and your heart. That was not unexpected but what I have learned is that He greatly uses other people and their prayers to minister His anointing, His grace, His love and His mercy in the time of need. As I make my heart tender and vulnerable, as I simply open my eyes I see the anointing of God on total strangers. People come to you in your time of need. People you don’t know will reach out to you in that Spirit which is from God. You will connect at a level which is beyond this physical realm and it will bring comfort to your soul.

Some people will not be able to rise to the challenge. Don’t judge them. They just haven’t grown in that area yet. Some of the people you think will jump to your side won’t. It’s okay. Pray for them. No, really. Pray for them, it will do your heart good and the Blessed Father will show you their own hurts and limitations. It will give your heart peace. 

In conclusion, I want my challenge to help me grow, learn and to empower me to help others. Many of you have known deep sorrow. Some of you have undergone exactly what I am going through now. We are all learning and growing and part of that growth is to learn to be vulnerable. Another important sign of spiritual growth is showing an active compassion; that is compassion which isn’t passive but which instead moves into action.

I am calling you each into active duty today. This is a request for you to pray for me and my loved ones. We have been borne up by the prayers of our friends and family. It really does make a difference. So, pray for me.

There is a second part of this call to action though. We are a body, a family. Everyone who reads this daily devotional is important to me personally as well to others. We should stand for one another. I want you to write to us when you need prayer and I want us to be able to rely on each other for prayer and prayer support. We will be using the upcoming website as a medium for us all to connect with one another. I envision a person posting a prayer request and every one of us who reads the Word of the Day saying an immediate even if brief prayer for that person.

There are people reading this devotional all over the world. We need to join hands and become a people of prayer and of support for one another. Our faith was never meant to be passive but active and living and fully expressing the power and love of our Lord Jesus and our Father who sent the Holy Spirit into the earth to give us strength and miracle working power. Join hands with me as I join hands with believers all over the world. Let us reach out and make a difference in people’s lives through the love of God. Give God’s love wings through prayer. Together we are very powerful. Alone we are weak. Be the leader and lover you have been anointed to be. In Jesus’ name.