“Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Galatians 4:6) Because bad dads get a lot of press these days, it’s difficult for many to view God as a father. In our society of fractured families, far too many grow up with weekend-only fathers—or no fathers at all. Since even the best earthly dads have moments when they get impatient or preoccupied, the idea of God as “Father” takes a good bit of imagination—and even more faith. So it helps to remember that God is a perfect Father, a Father unaffected by human frailties. He is 100 percent love and motivated by His glory and our good 100 percent of the time.
As the One who gave the world a thirty-year “show-and-tell” of who and what God is (John 1:18), Jesus made it clear that our heavenly Father fanatically cares about us. He actually keeps up with the tiniest details of our lives (Matthew 10:29–31). He invites our conversation (Matthew 6:9) and is always eager to hear about our needs and concerns, both mundane and significant. Unlike finite and flawed earthly fathers, our heavenly Father is never too busy, never stressed out, and never self-absorbed.
And like the best and wisest dads, He disciplines (that is, He corrects, not punishes) us when we need it. He knows what we were created for, where we need to go, and where our character flaws are. With all that in mind, He trains us in a way of living that will directly benefit us in the long run (Hebrews 12:9).
God the Father is protective. He wants to shield us from evil and keep us safe. He is tender. We can count on Him to make our hard situations better. He is strong. We can run to Him and hide in His arms, confident that everything will be all right.
Mostly, our heavenly Father wants to have an intimate relationship with His children. He wants us to know and trust His heart. He wants to celebrate the joys of life with us, and to hold us while we grieve.
If you grew up with a father who was consistently there for you, let that earthly dad point you to the Father who is beyond good.
And if you grew up without a good father, let that experience drive you to Abba, the One who perfectly meets the deepest needs—and desires—of our hearts.
God, help me work through any “daddy baggage” in my heart so I may see and embrace You as my perfect and loving heavenly Father. Amen.
"At night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life.
By day the Lord
directs his love." (Psalm 42:8, NIV)
If you’ve had a
loved one die, whether in human or furry form, you know the pain of grief, and
you’ve also brushed up against the great mystery of life. What is this
immaterial essence or spirit that animates us? Where did it come from? And
where does it go when we’re gone?
The Bible tells
us. God, in creating humanity, did much more than bringing together assorted body
parts, tissues, and organs. He did do
that, but Genesis 2:7 says that He took that lifeless creature and "breathed into his nostrils the
breath of life; and man became a living being.” From the opening pages of Scripture, we see that God is the source
and giver of life.
And God doesn’t
just animate us physically; He also desires to see us come alive spiritually. He wants, by His grace and
through our faith, to give us eternal life (i.e., a life that consists of
knowing Him through Jesus Christ, see John 17:3). Jesus insisted He came to offer
His followers "life abundantly" (John 10:10). The idea should evoke imagery
of a life impossibly full, incredibly rich, and sloshing over with blessing.
This is not to
say that a life in God or a life with God is easy and trouble-free—far
from it. We live in a broken world full of broken people. We face hardships and
endure suffering. Many of the psalms—not just Psalm 42—suggest this. One day
God will make everything right, but in the meanwhile, we will experience
trouble and tears. And so we must make the choice to live in God’s presence and
to rely on His promises.
Testament expands on this idea. We serve a God—more importantly, we are loved
by a Savior—who not only sustains our lives, but, as the apostle Paul asserted,
“is our life . . . ” (Colossians 3:4).
This is the
life of faith. Clinging to Christ as if He is our oxygen—our invisible, but indispensable
source of life. Seeing Christ as our life is recognizing our need for Him every
moment and depending on Him at every turn. And it is not a life of fear-filled
desperation but a life of loving devotion.
focus on Jesus won’t make our problems disappear, but it will put them in
perspective. Our God is the source and sustainer of life . . . and not just a
“get by” life, but the life we really want.
The life God
offers us is—in quantity and quality—beyond our wildest dreams.
“For this is what the
high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy, ‘I live in
a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in
spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the
contrite.’” (Isaiah 57:15, NIV)
Government agencies are lenient regarding impurities in
our food supply. For example, in peanut
butter there may be thirty or more insect fragments and one or more rodent
hairs per 100 grams. Shocking, isn’t it?
It’s even more
shocking to realize that God has no
leniency whatsoever for moral impurity. That’s the idea behind the divine name
“the holy one.” The Hebrew word holy
means sinless and free from imperfection. God is without error or fault. He
is absolute purity and light. This attribute of holiness sets God apart, and
makes Him distinct from everything else in a fallen world. Try as we might, we
sinful creatures have a hard time comprehending God's blinding holiness, which
is referred to in Scripture as “terrible” or “dreadful” (see
Nehemiah 1:5, Psalm 68:35).
In the same way that an epidemiologist seeks to isolate
those infected with a deadly disease, or a surgeon insists on a germ-free
operating room, God demands that extreme, even harsh measures be taken to
quarantine and eradicate sin.
Consider the consequences of sin in contrast with a holy
• The payment for offending
a holy God? Death. (Romans 6:23)
consequence of getting too close to God's presence? Death. (Exodus 19:12)
Such dire consequences for sin reveal the extent of God's
holiness. Like the north and south ends of a magnet, holiness and sin cannot
coexist; in fact, they violently repulse each other.
Thankfully, Isaiah 57:17 expands the holiness of God to
mean there’s not only an aversion to sin, but also a desire to seek out, save,
and revive the lost. God’s holiness drives Him to seek and find us. In His
perfection, God seeks to restore the world to its original holy and perfect
It is God's purity that will not allow Him to discard us,
though He has reason to. His holiness, rooted in love, compels Him to save. He
sent His one and only Son to turn sinners into saints.
God's holiness means that God hates sin enough to deliver
sinners from it.
“For the Lord your
God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who
shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.” (Deuteronomy 10:17, NIV)
names have been associated with greatness. There was Alexander the Great. The
Great Gatsby. Boxer Muhammad Ali was known as “the Greatest,” and hockey legend
Wayne Gretzky as “the Great One.”
typically reserve this word to describe a unique accomplishment or status. To
call someone “great” is to say there is only one—there has never been, nor will
there ever be, another like him or her.
People who heard Moses speak the words of Deuteronomy 10:17 had heard often of Yahweh,
the God of their forefather Abraham. But by that time, they had also lived for four
hundred years in Egypt, where multiple gods were worshiped. And now God was
leading them to a land where they would be surrounded by other polytheistic peoples.
What made Israel’s God unique from the rest? What, if anything, caused Him to
stand out from all the others?
argued that God deserved the Hebrews’ full devotion because He is “the great God.”
The Hebrew word “great” is gadol. It
means distinguished, important, large, grand, magnificent. And why is God
uniquely deserving of this title? Because, Moses says, He’s mighty. He’s
powerful and awesome. There’s nothing too hard for Him. Not only this, but unlike
the petty gods of the surrounding cultures, the God of Israel is just—He is
fair and gracious. That’s another reason He’s great: He doesn’t play favorites or
accept bribes, like a crooked earthly judge.
great, Moses says elsewhere in this same chapter, because He owns the universe
(14). He’s great because He graciously set His affection on the Hebrew people
(15). He’s great because He cares about the helpless (18). He’s great because He
alone does awesome wonders (21). He’s great because He blesses undeserving
god does such things? Only Yahweh, Israel’s God, the one true God is able to hold
the title of “great.”
blasphemous and tragic to treat anything
as being greater than God. Do people give their hearts to other gods? Of
course. But there is no god like “the great God” of Israel.
identifying their God as “great,” notice the response Moses urged from the
people: "Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him."
Because of God's unique position, He is worthy of reverential fear and faithful
Understanding God's forgiveness can release you from guilt and free you from shame. If you need to better understand God's forgiveness--or if you need to take a step toward forgiving someone else--then subscribe below.
This free series lasts 5 days. Each day you will receive a link to a 2-3 minute video and a PDF to a Bible study that can be completed in 10-15 minutes. This study will cover the following topics:
Day 1: Sin, Confession, and a Holy God
Day 2: What is True Repentance?
Day 3: No Condemnation
Day 4: Stop Trying to Earn God's Forgiveness!
Day 5: How Can I forgive Others if I Don't Feel Like Forgiving?
What's the catch? There is none. Like forgiveness the study is completely free and made available to anyone who needs it.
Shortly after Peter professes that Jesus is the Messiah of God (Luke 9:18 – 20), Jesus again tells his followers that he must suffer, be rejected by the church leaders, be killed, and then be raised to life on the third day. He then explains that anyone who wants to be his disciple must take up his or her cross and follow him (Luke 9:21 – 23).
Jesus’ crucifixion begins with a brutal beating, wearing a crown of thorns, and carrying his own crossbeam through the city to the place of his execution. While Jesus
is dying, the land becomes supernaturally dark. Around three in the afternoon, Jesus cries out in Hebrew, quoting from Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45 – 46, NIV). At this moment, Jesus is taking upon himself all of humanity’s sin, as well as all of God’s wrath, mysteriously experiencing complete separation from the Father.
In John’s account of the crucifixion, he records Jesus’ last words as “It is finished,” after which Jesus “bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:28 – 30, NIV). These words signify the accomplishment of the Father’s will in reconciling humanity to himself. The cross of Christ, the blood of the Lamb, now provides direct access to a holy and loving God.
When Jesus dies, the earth shakes, rocks split, tombs open, and the massive veil in the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem temple is split from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51 – 52). Jesus is then placed inside of a cave-like tomb secured by a large boulder and guarded by two Roman soldiers (Mark 15:42 – 47; Matthew 27:62 – 66).
The Miracle of Easter
On the third day after Jesus’ death, an angel with an “appearance like lightning” and “clothes as white as snow” appears at the tomb. The guards are so afraid, they become “like dead men.” To the women at Jesus’ tomb who had come to tend to his body, the angel says, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said” (Matthew 28:5 – 6, NIV).
The angel then tells the women to go and tell the disciples the news: Jesus “has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him” (Matthew 28:7, NIV). As the women report this news to the disciples, Jesus appears to them. They fall at his feet and worship him (Matthew 28:9). Jesus, the Author of life, now holds the keys of death and hades (Revelation 1:18). For more on The Most Significant People, Places, and Events of the Bible, watch the 30 second video trailer here.
The following is an excerpt from What You Need to Know About Heaven.
Let’s imagine the impossible. Let’s say a person is born, lives a full life, and dies without violating any of God’s commands. Let’s say the person never utters a falsehood, never harbors a millisecond of ill will toward another person, and never gives God less than 100 percent devotion. Let’s say the person’s every thought, attitude, word, and deed honor God.
In the context of eternal life, such a sparkling résumé would still fall immeasurably short of the standard required for atoning for sin and restoring the relationship with God. Even if no sin were committed, the person would still have an inherited sinful nature to answer for. No one born of man and woman could offer the perfect sacrifice that God requires for the atonement of sin.
A person conceived by the Holy Spirit and delivered by a virgin, on the other hand, would have no inherited sinful nature. If that person could manage the impossible—live a sinless life with absolutely no offenses against God—he would be a fitting candidate to bring about atonement.
Of course, this perfect candidate would have to agree to endure unprecedented agony—the kind of torture and death that would be unimaginable to anyone else. This innocent, blameless specimen of perfection would be subjected to the totality of God’s holy wrath and judgment for the sins of the world. The suffering and pain we deserve would instead be heaped on him. He who knew no sin would, in effect, become sin in God’s eyes—and be punished accordingly.
Only One could satisfy those demands. But in order to do that, he had to leave his idyllic existence in heaven for a life of rejection, ridicule, and betrayal on our sin-ravaged planet. He had to give up his autonomy and become a helpless baby. He had to lay aside his perfections and make himself vulnerable to pain, sickness, and exhaustion. He had to submit to physical limitations, such as hunger and thirst. He had to squeeze his infinite presence into a container of flesh roughly five-and-a-half-feet tall.
Only Jesus could have bridged the gap between God and humanity. Only Jesus did.
The above article appears in What You Need to Know About Heaven, which is on sale where magazines are sold within the United States and Canada.
Genesis 26:5 "I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed"
Imagine how overwhelmed Abraham must have been when God laid these promises on him. The sheer grandness of them caused Abraham to fall to the ground. Of course, God kept these promises. God multiplied Abraham’s descendants beyond what he could imagine. Kings did come from Abraham—most importantly, the King of kings, Jesus Himself.
God has also made promises to us throughout His Word. Sometimes these promises can seem too grand to be true: eternal life in a perfect place with streets of gold? How could this be? But God does not lie. God keeps His promises. If God kept His promises to Abraham, we can be confident He will keep His promises to us. If we find ourselves doubting, all we have to do is return to God’s Word to find the truth: that He has been faithful to His Word, over and over, throughout time, no matter how impossible His promises may seem.
The above devotion is taken from an upcoming project to be published by Barbour Publishing. It will appear in the KJV PROPHECY STUDY BIBLE.