A Father’s Heart

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By Tom Chase

There have been many things this past year in life that have helped me get a better idea of God’s relationship to us as fallen beings. God reveals himself to us as a Father, all to give us a better idea of who He is. (I know that this metaphor gives many individuals problems due to failed relationship and connectedness with their own fathers.) Yet Scripture is clear about His “Fathership.” He loves us very much.

He loves me!

He loves you!

We take this by faith, but we also have His actions toward us as seen in history, as recorded in the Bible, and over time within our own lives.

I have seen the belligerent attitude that comes from children who are headstrong, defiant, unwilling to do what has been asked . . . oh, how it make a father’s heart sad. If the child wins in this, then the child loses. So discipline is needed, required, and necessary for a change in heart. I really don’t want to write about discipline today, but I am compelled. The Bible tells us,

“The Lord disciplines those he loves,
    and he punishes everyone he accepts as his child.” Hebrews 12:6b (CEV)

and

“For the Lord corrects those he loves,
    just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:12 (NLT)

Can you hear His heart for us in the following phrases?

“those He loves”

“in whom He delights”

“accepts as His child”

As I sat with my back to a little one in time out who was raging belligerently, full of anger and defiance, a few thoughts came to me. We had been here before; the little one knows how to resolve this, knows what the right response is, but, at this moment, just does not want to do it. I am present but cannot give validation to the misbehavior and heart attitude. So I sit and ignore and wait and long for repentance. At the end of this prolonged time, there is an attitude change. The sound of the cries change. The anger is gone. What this dad has been waiting for has happened: there is a change in heart. Through a small, crying voice, I hear, “Daddy?” “Yes little one,” is my reply. An explanation of why we ended up here occurs, the call to do what is right remains, and the joy of this dad is realized in a full embrace, hugs, and restoration. *Sigh* 🙂 I think, oh, I wish we wouldn’t have to go through the discipline thing in the first place.

It was in the middle of the raging defiance and prolonged waiting when I began thinking about God and us!

When we are raging or frustrated with all that is going on, and we wonder where God is, He is there and He is present! While not all hardship is discipline from the Lord, if you’re feeling alone, this could simply be a chance to check your heart. He may be waiting patiently for us to respond with a small cry, “Daddy, help?”

But if we confess our sins to him,
he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” I John 1:9 (NLT)

We confess. He forgives . . . *sigh* 🙂 Wow!

God disciplines us, just like our earthly fathers are supposed to. Even though I am fallen and I don’t always get this fathering thing right, I think a dim reflection of God’s heart for us can be seen in this. He does love us. He wants what is best for us.

My prayer for me and you as we begin this new year is that we might find our hearts changed and be found in the embrace of the Father who loves us!

Let’s walk together with Him!

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Running for the prize

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by Tom Chase

Run in such a way to get the prize,” Paul’s admonition to the church (1 Corinthians 9:19-27) kept going though my mind. The day of the AWANA skate night was drawing nearer. You see, one activity that happens during the evening is the races. They split the guys and the girls and then by various ages competing to see who can make one lap the fastest. I decided to skate that night in part because of the race. Here was my chance to win the prize. Don’t misunderstand me, I had no delusional ideas about wining the race – I am not a great skater. In fact, I had chosen not to skate the previous year for my own safety and perhaps the safety of others. But this year was different. I wanted to win the prize so I chose to skate and I entered the race. As it turned out, I won the prize for which I was racing! How is that possible?

The prize for which I risked body and limb was a free soda from the concession stand. They give a coupon to all the race participants. So I entered and I won! Shortly after the race, I was enjoying the spoils of my labors with a smile on my face.

There is a parallel to this in my spiritual life. One that I am finding challenging.

We as believers find ourselves in a race in which the prize we are seeking (or at least should be) is not always the same as the participants around us.

So what then is to be our goal, the prize we are seeking?  It is more than salvation. It is far more than that. We grow in relationship with the creator God through Christ. Paul’s prayer for us, in Philippians 1:9, as Pastor Martin shared is, “…that our love [for God] may abound more and more …” It is in the context of this relationship that we are compelled further. God has given each of us, varying interests, gifts and abilities, and more recently called “affinities,” in order to make Christ known. It is in these, that sharing Christ should be most natural.

For me, sharing Christ has not become natural enough. Sharing Christ, the good news, needs to really be my affinity, my desire, and my passion. If that is my main pursuit, then my interests, gifts and abilities become aids to that end. This is a good place to begin. However, Paul not only shares Christ through areas of his own interests but takes it even further, “I have become all things to all men, so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (1 Cor. 9:22-23). Wherever we are that’s where we should start.

Lord, use our voices. Lord, use our hands. Lord, use our lives: They are yours, We are an offering …

Then we too may share in the blessings of the gospel. What a prize to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

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