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Posts Tagged ‘Father’s Love’

LOVE OF THE FATHER #2AMLove of the Father Individual

You have a father in heaven.

No matter how big and strong you are, there’s many times in your life when you need the resources of one who loves you totally, continuously and in spite of your mistakes. Last week we shared the story of the prodigal son. In today’s message I want to show you what the Father gave the son on his return.

Luke 15:22

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. (NLT)

The robe

Picture the son returning home. He is ashamed, filthy and smelly. He has old and dirty clothes. After the Father embraces him he calls for the best or finest robe to be placed upon him. Imagine what this says to the son! What belongs to the Father is freely given to the son. This robe covers over the old and smelly clothes. This robe speaks of what is the best and finest of what the father has; the richness of his provision. When we want to know what meaning is carried in a term such as this we need only look at what God says about the robe in other places in the scripture. For example the righteousness of Christ which is often compared to a robe, or garment, Isaiah 61:10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels.(NLT) and Rev 19:8 She has been permitted to dress in fine (radiant) linen, dazzling and white—for the fine linen is (signifies, represents) the righteousness (the upright, just, and godly living, deeds, and conduct, and right standing with God) of the saints (God’s holy people).(AMP)

The robe clothes over whatever clothing lies under it; whatever dirt or smell may lie beneath, and having then an outward appearance of cleanliness, wealth and position as befitting the Father. In the same manner the robe of righteousness covers over all our past and God looks upon us as His son or daughter who belong to Him and live within His family. All He sees when He looks at us is this robe of righteousness and our past is completely covered and is no longer viewed by our heavenly Father. This is the love of the Father.

Application: Does your past haunt you? Does the past speak to you about your unworthiness? Religion tells us we need to earn God’s love. This only brings bondage. Throw off your past. You are redeemed and set free by God’s love. You past has been forgotten and you are a new creation in God’s sight.

Example: Paul started his ministry life by killing Christians. If anyone has a past hat they regretted it was Paul. He counted himself as the “Chiefest of sinners” yet Paul found complete restoration in Christ seeing himself as a new creation in Christ.

The ring

This prodigal lad only wanted to be placed in the position of a slave, but his father said, ‘Put a ring on his finger.’ The ring is an emblem of wealth, position, honour. It is a sign of delegated authority and of representative character; as when Joseph was exalted to be the second man in Egypt, and Pharaoh’s signet ring was plucked off and placed upon his finger. When the son received this ring, no doubt he felt it was undeserved. He would have preferred a probation period where he could prove himself and show his father that he was truly sorry and a changed man – but that’s religion! The father welcomes back the son and immediately gives him the same equal authority he had before as a son of the father, a man of authority, one who represented all that the father was. The immediacy of this gift shows that the restoration was a matter of relationship not works.

Application: Maybe others can point the finger and say you don’t represent the Father after all you’ve done, but let the Father determine that. He gave you the ring of authority. You have His authority over all the power of the enemy. It’s not determined by you own achievements but by the Father’s conferral of his own authority upon you.

Example: When Pharaoh placed his ring on Joseph’s finger, Joseph became prime minister of Egypt. No one questioned his past coming from gaol. He carried Pharaoh’s power and authority and was unquestionably standing in his place.

The Sandals

The servants walked barefoot in their service and this prodigal son came home barefoot, not only because he intended to become as one of my father’s hired servants, but also he had suffered the loss of all his money and had nothing to eat and certainly nothing of finery to wear. In all the metaphors of footwear, we can see the meaning of our walk with God and our ongoing preparation to walk out the life before us, an equipping for the journey of life. But this gift of sandals is primarily another picture of a return to sonship and not servanthood. The father provides for the Son the sandals that mark the apparel of a son. This provision the Father gives freely and generously is the provision our loving heavenly Father has provided for us. Provision that removes us from poverty, and provision that befits the son of a wealthy Father.

Application: Now you have God’s provision. All that he has is yours. He will provide for you as befitting a son, not a servant. It’s now time to believe for God’s abundant provision in your life.

Example: When Jesus finished using the disciple’s boat to preach a message from, He said now push out and let down your nets for a catch. It seemed like a crazy idea as they had tried to fish all night and caught nothing. However on obeying his word they caught a massive haul and their boats were sinking under the weight of their catch. What a great provision.

The Fatted Calf

The fatted calf is the centre of celebration. It’s the centre point of feasting that shows the pinnacle of joy, celebration and love. When you have received the best news you could ever receive, you call all your family together and you feast. The usual word for “kill” in the NT is the Greek word apokteino. However, the word used for “kill” used of killing the fatted calf is thuo. This word means “to sacrifice”. This word was used of sacrificing the Passover lamb. The fatted calf is referred to not a fatted calf, there was just one, in the same way Jesus was the Father’s only sacrifice for sin. The robe, ring and sandals were paid for by the sacrifice of the fatted calf. Sin wasn’t forgotten or ignored, it was paid for by the offering of a sacrifice pleasing and acceptable to God. And who paid for it? The Father! This is the love of the father.

Application: Celebrate your new life with God. Rejoice that your name is written down the book of life. Where better to celebrate but in church. Recognise all that has been given to you and live a new life of joy and thankfulness.

Example: The disciples rejoiced that people were healed when they prayed for them and that devils were cast out. Jesus encouraged them to rejoice in that but even more to rejoice that their names were written down in the book of life.

Now imagine a scene where a brother or sister has sinned against you and hurt you deeply. Later they come to you and ask forgiveness for what they have done. What’s your reaction? Most likely you receive them with joy, if you’re a mature Christian! You accept them and you rejoice in the restored relationship. But do you go the extra mile and kill the fatted calf? Do you spend money to celebrate and give gifts to the brother or sister who once offended you? Now think about this love of the Father. How generous and how complete is His gift of restoration and acceptance?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Have you felt the Father’s embrace?

2. What thoughts go through your mind that stop you from receiving or enjoying God’s love and acceptance?

3. Can you imagine yourself clothed with a robe God gave you? How do you feel?

4. Think about having his authority as conveyed by the ring. What will you do now?

5. How can you enjoy and celebrate your salvation at this feasting time with the fatted calf?

 

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LOVE OF THE FATHER   #1 AMLove of the Father Individual

Today is Father’s day and this month is the theme LOVE OF THE FATHER. I want you to know that this month we are not talking about bad fathers, we are going to celebrate the great fathers in the house. Today we celebrate all the fathers. Each Sunday we will be speaking about the Love of our Heavenly Father; how strong it is, how unending it is, how much we need it. When any person receives a revelation of the Love of the Father, they will find healing, they will find wholeness, they will find acceptance, and they will find their rightful place in life. But first we need to talk about separation.

STORY

I have four sons and as pastor I have had the privilege of marrying them to their sweethearts. One of the most emotional times I have ever experienced was conducting my first son’s wedding. I think I cried more than the mother of the bride! One of the biggest hits that I wasn’t prepared for was the moment when, after the reception was over, the first son drove away with his new bride to begin their new life together. I broke down. It was a real sense of loss, a sense of – this boy is now out of my life forever. Twenty-one years of raising him and now he’s gone.

I remember way back to the time when Chris was pregnant with our first child. I began to think about what we were in for being a parent. I asked myself the question, “Will I be a good parent? Will I be able to provide for my family? Will I be able to raise my children with wisdom?” The responsibility seemed daunting.

It is a big change when you move from manhood to Fatherhood. Fatherhood now means you’re responsible for more than just yourself and your wife; you are now bringing a new life into this world, and you are responsible for their welfare and success and there seems to be a lot of things that can go wrong. The child you’re raising can make choices too. That child can choose to do wrong, they can choose to walk away; and although you want the very best for them, as a father you cannot always control the outcome.

When your son or daughter walks away, that’s a pain that no father can bear. Let’s look at the pain of one father in the bible. Luke 15:11-24.

11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons.12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[b]

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. (NLT)

Sometimes sons or daughters walk away. The pain of that experience for a Father is intense. It’s a nightmare for the Mother too, and she worries overtime about what will happen to them. The Father will question himself, was I a good parent? Was I firm enough? Did I give them enough wisdom and instruction? Did I train them up to face life?

Let’s look at the Father in this story. He is gracious, he lets the son go, even though he knows full well that it’s a foolish move; but there’s some things you’ve got to learn the hard way. There’s two really powerful thoughts in this story.  The father saw the son coming home “a long way off” – that proves he was waiting and watching for him to come, there was hope. Secondly the father ran to meet him. This speaks of passion, acceptance and joy.

No matter what you have done in your life, no matter what mess you got yourself into, no matter how stupid you were, no matter how many people hate you and reject you; there’s a heavenly Father who is waiting for you to come home. There’s someone who loves you unconditionally. Look and see and feel the Father’s heart today as you watch this Father stand at the farm gate waiting for the lost son to come home. There’s hope in that father’s heart for restoration and moving right back to full sonship. Did he deserve it? – No! But here’s the power of the Father’s love: He made a way for you to come back and find forgiveness.

When you have “come to your senses” like this prodigal son; God’s love for you is total acceptance! His generosity is complete with restoration to full sonship, inclusion in the family and bountiful provision. This great story illustrates the LOVE OF THE FATHER. All that is required to receive that love is the attitude the Prodigal Son had – he came to his senses, or as it says in another translation, “he came to himself” it’s that realisation that I cannot make it on my own, I need the Father. Consider the restoration from the father which we will unpack in coming weeks. He gave the Son the robe which speaks of righteousness – being in right standing or right relationship with God. He gave him the ring which speaks of sonship and authority. Not a hired hand but a full son of the father. He gave him sandals which speak of provision because servants have bare feet but sons have sandals provided. He gave the son a fatted calf which speaks of the sacrifice that is pleasing to God and the highest form of celebration. Not only that but it shows the preparation of the calf over time as though the father was expecting the son to one day return. As we unpack these ideas later I am praying that you will experience from God a revelation of His righteousness, His gift of sonship, His provision and His joy of celebration over your salvation and acceptance by the Father.

This story is dear to God’s heart because he lived through it in times past.

Listen to this passage, Gen 3:22-24

22 Then the Lord God said, “Look, the human beings[e] have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!” 23 So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made. 24 After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.(NLT)

Imagine the pain of God the Father as He forced Adam and Eve to leave the Garden of Eden on that tragic day when Adam chose to disobey God and brought upon himself the result of sin – separation from God. However a plan was in place from before the foundations of the earth that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, would choose to come and die on the cross and receive the judgement due to us all. By standing in our place He suffered and died for us that we may be pardoned and be forgiven if we too would come to ourselves and realise our great need of God.

The LOVE OF THE FATHER is life changing and healing. He has made a way for you and me to come home to Him, to be forgiven and completely restored to full sonship. Of course we don’t deserve it, but so great is His love to save and forgive and heal that if we will only turn to Him we can receive everything.

Will you begin the journey today?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Why did the son leave and take his inheritance money?

2. What was it that made him come to his senses?

3. Do you think many people come to their senses like that?

4. What did the Father restore to him when he arrived home?

5. How much of those things do you feel you have received from God yourself?

 

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