Diann and I spent
last week in Mexico visiting our daughter Julie and her family. On the last night, as Diann and I headed back
to our room in the basement of the new main house that’s being built, we looked
up at the night sky. Refuge Ranch, their
home, is located on a mountainside at an altitude of about 7,000 feet. It was a clear night, and at Refuge Ranch
light pollution is at a minimum. At that
altitude your view of the stars isn’t obscured by the lowest mile and a half of
thick atmosphere like it is at sea level.
Not only could we see thousands of bright stars, we saw the individual
faint dots of millions of stars and galaxies: millions of pixels of light
giving a high-definition view of a great, grand universe of unimaginable
makes you think of the exclamation of the psalmist King David, who must have
often sat under the night sky as a youth watching his father's sheep. “When I consider your heavens, the work of
your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man
that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm
8:3-4) When you consider the vastness of
the cosmos, our individual existence certainly seems tiny and
inconsequential. That’s the impression I
got when I looked up at the night sky.
It was also the impression I got the next evening as I looked down upon
the earth. We were
flying home; the plane was seven miles up.
There were many man-made dots of light below, and some of the lights
were clustered in little galaxies of towns.
When I put my thumb on the cabin window it could cover an entire small
city. Thousands of people were beneath
my thumb, so many people living their lives — and I didn’t know a single one of
a Character Like Christ's”
to God as Our Heavenly Father”
Based on John
February 28 & March 1, 2009
by David J.
2009 by David J. Claassen
I looked up at the heavenly, divinely-made lights or down at the earthly,
humanly-made lights, the feeling was much the same. What value does one tiny little person have?
us believe that God has made everything, including us. However, when you consider the vastness of
the universe and the billions of people, it's sometimes hard to imagine that
God cares for us and that we're important to Him.
Jesus' Favorite Name for God
One of the amazing
things about Jesus is the way He related to God and what He taught His
disciples — and wants to teach us — about how to relate to God. For instance, when Jesus taught the disciples
a model prayer, a way of communicating with God, He said, “This, then, is
how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven, . . .'” (Matthew 6:9) Jesus taught His followers, then and now, to
relate to God as our Heavenly Father!
taught us that God isn’t some depersonalized abstraction or cosmic force. Jesus taught us to see a relationship with
God as something that can and should be supremely personal. We should see God, and relate to Him, as our
to acknowledge that many people — and you may be one of them — don't have a
positive view of fatherhood. Some people
never knew their fathers, and others wish they hadn't! Some fathers were physically present but
emotionally absent. Some were so
distracted with sports or work that they weren't very good fathers. Some were verbally, physically, or sexually
us were blessed with good fathers, but even the best father isn't perfect. In order to relate to God as our Heavenly Father,
we all, to a greater or lesser degree depending on our upbringing, have to
imagine what an ideal father would be like.
God is that — and much more!
Jesus saw God as His Heavenly Father, and He wants us to see God that
we begin a new six-part message series in which we imagine ourselves walking so
closely with Jesus that He rubs off on us!
We want to imagine walking so closely with Christ that when His sandals
kick up dust, it falls onto our feet! We
should want to walk so closely with Christ that we develop a character like
His, becoming more Christ-like.
begin by observing that Jesus always saw Himself as God's Son and saw God as
His Heavenly Father. The whole idea of
seeing God as Heavenly Father was something new. In Jesus' day, people rarely thought of God
true that there are a few Old Testament references to God as father. The psalmist declared, for instance, “As a
father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who
fear him.” (Psalm 103:13) Isaiah the
prophet declared, “Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are
all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)
Usually in the Old Testament the fatherhood of God was an analogy. It wasn’t used as a personal way to address
God as Father, but Jesus changed all that.
Heavenly Father: a Metaphor with Meaning
resurrection He made this amazing statement to His disciples: “I am
returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (John
20:17) We’re supposed to do what Jesus
did: see God as our Heavenly Father!
shouldn't misunderstand. Jesus had a
unique relationship with God because He was and is the eternal Son of God, and
we aren’t. Jesus had an extended prayer
with the Heavenly Father toward the end of His ministry here on Earth. In that prayer He prayed, “And now,
Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the
world began.” (John 17:5) Jesus
pre-existed; in fact, He always has been!
He's the second person of the triune God-head. Jesus is God's Son in a totally unique way,
and God is His father in a totally unique way.
Jesus never suggested that we have the same relationship that He has
with the Heavenly Father, but He taught that we can and should have God as our
Heavenly Father. The New Bible
Dictionary puts it this way concerning Jesus and His disciples: “His Sonship,
though on a level altogether unique, was the basis of their sonship.” (p.477)
you like to know what Jesus envisions for you in terms of a relationship with
God? In His extended prayer with the
Heavenly Father that’s recorded in John 17, Jesus not only prayed for Himself
and for His disciples who were with Him, but also for us! Jesus said to the Father concerning His
disciples then, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me
through their message,” (John 17:20)
That includes us! What does He
pray for us?
give you some of the statements Jesus made on our behalf to the Heavenly
Father: “. . . Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us . . .” (John
17:21) Imagine — Jesus' desire is that
we participate in some way in the inner fellowship between Jesus and the
Father! We’re invited into the inner
sanctum of the fellowship and love that exists within the triune nature of God
went on to pray, “I in them and you in me. . . .” (John 17:23) What an amazing chain of relationships! Jesus wants to be in us even as the Father is
also prayed to the Father at that time, “I have made you known to them, and
will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be
in them and that I myself may be in them.” (John 17:26) Jesus is the intermediary, taking the love
the Father has for Him and sharing it with us so that we also experience the
love of the Heavenly Father!
heart of Jesus is that we eternally enjoy something of the astonishing
relationship that He enjoys with the Heavenly Father. Like Jesus,
we’re meant to relate to God as our Heavenly Father.
Choosing to Be His Children
of having God as our Heavenly Father isn't something we automatically have; we
have to choose it. Because of our sinful
nature, we're alienated from God. That's
why Jesus came: to be our Savior, going to the cross for us. This is the amazing message of Lent, which
began last Wednesday. People don't have
to accept Him; it's a choice.
what the apostle John said about Jesus at the beginning of his gospel: “He
was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not
recognize him. He came to that which was
his own, but his own did not receive him.
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave
the right to become children of God —” (John 1:10-12)
wants to adopt us as His children so that we can be related to Him as our
Heavenly Father, but the choice is ours.
If you've never made that conscious choice, now would be a good time. He wants you to be able to call Him your
Our Identity: Children of the Heavenly Fatherhood
Fidel is one of our
grandsons, by adoption. He was an orphan
and a troublemaker in the village where he lived in a very rural area of
Mexico. When our son-in-law Victor
tracked him down during a medical mission crusade at that village, he was being
held in a jail cell because no one knew what else to do with him. His father had died, and his mother's new
husband didn't want to raise another man's son.
His grandmother, who had taken him in, had washed her hands of him. “He's as good as dead to me,” she said to
Victor and the authorities.
settled; Fidel could go home with Victor, but there was one more hurdle. Victor asked Fidel whether he wanted to go
with him. It was Fidel's choice. He said yes, and that answer has changed his
course it takes time to build a relationship.
Fidel had been without a father and a family for a long time. One day Fidel choked on some food while the
family was eating lunch. Victor quickly
jerked Fidel out of his chair, ran outside with him, and performed the Heimlich
maneuver, dislodging the food. Out of
relief Victor hugged Fidel, and Victor cried.
Our daughter Julie said that this was a turning point for Fidel: he had
finally experienced the love of a father.
picture you're seeing now on the screen is of Grandpa (me) playing Connect Four
with Fidel. He almost always wins, as
you can see by the smile on his face.
His life is very different — much more of a life — since he agreed to
have a father and a family again.
isn’t just the God of the great cosmos, the creator and sustainer of it
all. You and I aren’t lost in the crowd
among billions of people. Jesus has
shown us the way to live. He called God
His Heavenly Father, and we’re supposed to follow His example. Jesus has paved the way because of what He
did for us: going to the cross to be our Savior.
think of ourselves has a profound impact on the way we handle day-to-day
living. We’re meant to view ourselves as
children of God who are able to relate to Him as our Heavenly Father. Life can be so different — so much more —
when God is our Heavenly Father!
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