Living as Abba's Child: Learning from Jesus

Living as Abba's Child: Learning from Jesus

The parent-child metaphor is perhaps the most tender picture of our relationship with God as believers.  This is so movingly expressed in the Scriptures by the Hebrew term for Father God "Abba," meaning "Daddy." As we approach Fathers' Day (though this is for moms & others also), let's take a break from the blog-type format.  Let's do a little digging into the Scriptures.  You may like this study for your own devotions or as a small group.

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Abba's Little Girls: Mama-sisters

Abba's Little Girls:  Mama-sisters

Motherhood is a Sisterhood...unrivaled by any other (except perhaps, Grandmother-hood). So if you are a mom, you are my beloved sister...

And sometimes we mama-sisters just need to be daughters...Abba's (Hebrew for Daddy) little girls.

So this Mothers' Day, let us hear these restful words of promise from our Abba:

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An Open Letter to a New Mom

Dear new Mom!

Welcome to Motherhood! You have entered a whole new mode of existence --that of being forever "MOM."  Your life will now take on exciting dimensions you’ve never before imagined.

You've probably gotten all kinds of advice -- some great, some good, some best to be forgotten!  Well, here's mine to add to the mix: “Stay a beloved child in dependent and intimate relationship with your Abba Father” (1John 3:1).

God tells us that we become like what we focus on  (1John 3:2; 2Cor 3:18).  As you focus on Him, you will more and more become like the Only Perfect Parent.

So let yourself “be parented” by Him everyday.  All else flows from that:  strength, wisdom, patience, insight, peace, rest, etc.  And you’ll need all of these and more!

Refuse to think of yourself as separate from your Father God (Col 3: 1-4) – that’s the devil’s trap.

Return in your mind and heart to that sacred, secure place in God from whom flows everything and anything that you will ever need.

Many blessings on you and your precious little one.

As I affectionately say,

We moms are ‘ruined’ for life – we can never not care again!

Welcome to that glorious Sisterhood!!!

With much love Jan & other  Old Experienced Moms of every generation

Beth with William 2015

 

 

 

There are dads...and then there's a DAD!

jeremy reading
jeremy reading

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV

None of us on this earth has had the perfect dad.  Some of us, though, would say we had pretty darn good ones…

Someone like my friend Shirley.  She describes her dad in two words…”Charles Ingalls”.  You remember him…from Little House on the Prairie fame, the TV Dad played by Michael Landon -- incredibly wise, loving, patient, and fun-loving.

There is another dad I would say is in the “Charles Ingalls” category.  He’s my son Jeremy.  Jeremy’s two little boys, Evan and Carter, are simply crazy about him!  Now, I would say that "Babci" (pronounced Bob-chee; Polish for grandma…and my title used by all my grandsons) borders on “rock star” status with those little boys… BUT not when Daddy is around (and rightfully so)!

my men
my men

One day, I was at their house when Jeremy arrived home.  Suddenly, any attention I was receiving immediately shifted toward the front door as Daddy made his humble, but “bedlam-producing” entrance.  Both Evan and Carter ran over to him screaming, jumping up and down -- each of them vying for his full attention.  Talk about energy and excitement!  This loving, game-playing dad was being smothered by his two adoring sons!  Somehow I can’t imagine that these little guys will have many, if any, “father-issues” growing up.

+++++++++++++++++++++++

ecard-abba-father
ecard-abba-father

This makes me think about another Dad…one much more “Charles Ingalls-like” than Charles Ingalls…or my son Jeremy.  A Father who is perfect in every way:

One who is there for me with love and wisdom and strength as I walk through this sin-cursed, broken world(James 1:5; 2Peter 1:2-3; Eph 3:20-21)

One who bestows every good and perfect gift (James 1:17)

One who gives joy and delight in His presence (Psalm 16:11)

Because of His Son Jesus, I can run to Him fully assured of being received with love and acceptance like Evan and Carter with their daddy (Heb 4:14-16).

Unlike them, however, I don’t have to vie with others for His full attention, because He is uniquely my Abba (Daddy in Bible language).  Yet at the same time, He is Abba for multitudes of other sons and daughters…because He’s our Father GOD, and we are in His Son Jesus Christ(John 14:6; 1Cor 1:30).

So I ask myself, how readily do I run to my Heavenly Father as my source of joy, delight, love, and provision?  Or do I rather turn to the"Babci's" of my life…the lesser “stars”, like appearance, activities, relationships, success, comfort, attention…good gifts, but not the Giver and Lover of my soul.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God…and SUCH WE ARE! 1John 3:1

[First posted on June 15th, 2011]

Psalm 91
Psalm 91

You might also like the Abba Fatherseries and the Living as God's Child Bible study. Click for list of posts.

Thinking of Spiritual Fathers

I am writing to you, fathers,    because you know him who is from the beginning. 1 John 2:13,14 ESV

This Fathers Day I'm thinking about spiritual fathers.   I've been blessed to have some.   My life has been forever enriched by being "spiritually fathered" by these people of God.

This year one of them, Dr. Howard Hendricks, went home to be with the Lord.  You may have been fathered by him also through his books and messages.

Back in the early 1980's, when my husband was at Dallas Theological Seminary, I had the privilege to take two classes with Dr. Hendricks ("Prof"):  Hermeneutics and Bible Study Methods and the Christian Home.   His classes were immensely practical, encouraging, exciting, and motivating.  One of his quotes I have never forgotten is "You cannot impart what you do not possess."**

His life and teaching had an impact on many, many others besides myself.  In fact, people like Chuck Swindoll, David Wilkinson, and others trace their growth of their vision and ministry back to the mentoring of this man of God.  [To read the article about his life in the DTS magazine, click here.]

But these days, I'm also thinking about another spiritual father, the apostle John.  In His first epistle, the elder apostle penned a tenderhearted passage on the growth stages in a believer's life (1 John 2:12-14 ESV).  Did you notice that he repeats two times the exact same description of the "father stage" of spiritual growth?

"...you know Him who has been from the beginning."

"You know GOD in His pure Person...the great I AM, the Burning Bush God, Jehovah!"  Nothing else is needed...nothing else distracts.  There's a total focus on the Ever-Present God and what HE is doing...especially in the lives of people.

Henri Nouwen, in his wonderful book The Return of the Prodigal talks about how we are each ultimately called to be the "father (or mother)" in others' lives.

...my final vocation is indeed to become like the Father and to live out His divine compassion in my daily life...every son and daughter has to choose to step beyond their childhood and become father and mother for others.  It is a hard and lonely step to take... Return of the Prodigal, p121.

Nouwen talks about three ways to truly compassionate fatherhood:  grief, forgiveness, and generosity.  All three of these characteristics require a heart completely empty of self-seeking, a heart that steps over our own stuff  and pours itself out for others.  This is where the Father seeks to take His children as they "grow up" in Him.

I love the image of "stepping over our own stuff."  It has helped me many a time in conversation or in situations to remember that as I mature in God I must be willing to step over this conflict, that slight, the other hurt, etc.  That's the way of the Father...and the way of fathers and mothers who walk in His way on behalf of His children:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Eph 5:1-2 ESV

Do you have any spiritual fathers in your life?  If so, thank God and imitate their faith!  If not, ask God for some...they are treasures!  And then grow to become one!

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7 ESV

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

**"PROF-isms" sayings of Professor Howard Hendricks

A belief is what you argue about; a conviction is what you die for.

You cannot impart what you do not possess.

You can impress from a distance, but you can only impact up close.

You teach what you know, but you reproduce what you are.

When God measures a man he puts the tape around the heart, not the head.

Jesus never discipled one-on-one.

There are many things in life you “can do” for God. And the more success you have, the more opportunities will come. (You will know more people, you will have more resources, etc.) But most opportunities are distractions in disguise. Therefore find the one thing you “must do” for God. You focus on the depth of your relationship [with God]; let Him determine the scope of your ministry A good leader has a compass in their head and a magnet in their heart. Spend the rest of your life doing what God prepared you to do. The secret to concentration is elimination.

Nothing is more common that unfulfilled potential.

Biblically speaking, to hear and not to do is not to hear at all.

The size of your God determines the size of everything.

People tell me they want to make the bible relevant.  Nonsense. The Bible is already relevant.  You're the one that's irrelevant.

Never traffic in unpracticed truth.

All people are born originals, but most die a copy.

Heaven is a Person:  Jesus Christ.

There's no such thing as faith apart from risk-taking.  Creativity takes risks. The people who are most secure in Jesus Christ shouldn't be scared to try new things.

Our problem is that we are in the Word but not under the Word.

Most people don’t think, they just rearrange their prejudices.

Your career is what you're paid to do; your calling is what you're made to do.

My fear is not that you would fail, but that you will succeed in doing the wrong thing.

You are able to do many things. Be sure you find the one thing you must do.

Your strengths develop your confidence; your weaknesses develop your faith.

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Living as Abba's Child: darling little children ( a study in 1John) 

Living as Abba's Child: "darling little children"

Years ago, when a friend had lost her last remaining parent, she said to me, “Now I feel like an orphan!” I’ve thought about her statement over the years and come to realize that we believers usually live like spiritual orphans.  We live as if we don’t have a Father Who tenderly loves and cares for us.  We live as orphans in a scary world.  But His heart is that we would live as His children in union with Him in His Son.

In his first epistle, the apostle John, by then an elder father of the faith, appeals to his readers (and to us) as “little children”.  The Greek word used has the idea of “my darling little children” or “honey” (“Hon’” as I call my little grandsons).  The word is in the diminutive form and so conveys great affection.

Spend some time exploring the seven verses in 1 John where he uses this sweet, affectionate word…keeping in mind that God our Father is speaking these words to you, His darling daughter or His precious son.

What is He saying to you? (Don’t forget to check the context, the surrounding verses, to get the whole message.)

1.  1John 2:1

2.  1John 2:12

3.  1John 2:28

4.  1John 3:7

5.  1John 3:18

6.  1John 4:4

7.  1John 5:21

Now that you’ve listed the Father’s encouragements and exhortations, pray over how they affect you and your relationship with your Abba Father, with His other children, with God’s enemy, and with the world.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Now look again at the second chapter.  In that chapter, the apostle John has special instructions to “little children” at varying stages of spiritual growth.

So within the context of being the Father’s darlings (and complete in Christ, Col 2:9-10) comes the realization that on the human, earthly level, we are at different stages in our walk with the Lord.  John pictures it as different stages of human growth:  babies, young men (teenagers), father (or mothers).  Keep in mind, though, that these are not chronological ages, but rather spiritual stages, no matter the chronological age.

I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. [Jehovah = I AM] I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children. [different Gk word, “a baby, infant”] because you know the Father [“Abba”].

I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. [Jehovah = I AM]. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:13-14

List the characteristic(s) of each stage of growth from these verses:

1.   babes, infants =

2.   young men =

3.   fathers =

While we are on this earth, there will be pitfalls and dangers at every stage of growth.  Read through 1 John again, making note of exhortations that could be particularly helpful to “little children” at each stage of spiritual growth.

1.    Baby Christians

2.    Maturing young Christians:

3.    Fathers/mothers in the faith:

Meditate on this central thought of 1 John.  Thank the Father for loving you and choosing you to be in His family.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when he appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:1-3

If you are studying with a group:

1.    What characteristic of a child do you feel you particularly need?  Why?

2.    Read each of the 7 exhortations to the “little children” in 1 John.  Discuss any that jump out at you.

3.    Which stage of spiritual growth do you think you are in?  Does it still help to know that you are a “little honey” to your Abba?

4.    Are there any pitfalls or struggles in your life that you would like to share with your sisters/brothers for prayer? Any exhortations from 1 John that match these?

Pray for each person immediately after sharing.  Invite the Lord into the area of concern.

 

Living as Abba's Child: Learning from Jesus {a Bible Study}

The most basic of human relationships is that of parent and child.  The Parent-child metaphor is perhaps the most tender picture of our relationship with God as believers.  This is so movingly expressed in the Scriptures by the Hebrew term for Father God “Abba,” meaning “Daddy.” How appropriate then (as we go into the months celebrating mothers, fathers, and children) to take a break from the blog-type format.

Let’s do a little digging into the Scriptures.  (You may like to do this for your own devotions or as a small group study.)

Warm-up Questions: 1.    Read  Children Incognito.

2.   What are some characteristics of a child? Do you ever feel that way inside?

3.   Can you identify with the key thought?  How? “We are all just little children locked up in adult bodies, trying to live adult lives in an adult world.”

4.   What do you think about the proposed solution? “The only way we can live an adult life in an adult world is by living as a ‘child’ in relationship with our Father.”

Jesus’ attitude toward children:

Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them: for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Mark 10:14

Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me. Matthew 18:3-5

Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me. Mark 9:37

Jesus Himself called His disciples “little children”.  Look at the following with a smile:

John 13:33

John 21:5

How would you summarize Jesus’ attitude toward children?

Jesus, God’s Perfect Child: How did Jesus live as a Child? What can we learn by looking at His relationship with His Abba and our relationship with Him? Look at the following Scriptures to answer these questions:

1.   Jesus lived secure in the Father’s love.

John 5:20

John 14:31

John 15:9

John 17:26

Because of the Indwelling Christ (Col 1:27), I can live as Abba’s child, secure in my Father’s love.  I can love and be loved in return.

John 16:27

1John 3:1

1Jn 4:19

Rom 8:35-39

Eph 3: 17-19

Eph 5:1

Brennan Manning in his wonderful book, The Rabbi’s Heartbeat, says,

Define yourself as one beloved by God.  This is the true self.  Every other identity is an illusion. (p.40)

We may do foolish, even downright sinful things, yet as Steve Brown likes to say,

But God is still fond of me.

Can you say the same?  Do you know the unconditional love of the Father despite your brokenness?  If not, ask the Lord to enable you to experience His love which is greater than life itself.

That leads us into the next point…

2.  Jesus lived from His identity as the Son of His Father.

Jesus has been called the “Human Face of God”.  He bears the family resemblance.  His identity was as the only-begotten Son of His Father.  Jesus never lived separate from His Abba.

John 1:1,14

Heb 1:1-3

Col 1:13-15

John 5:17-30

John 8:28-29

Because I’m in Christ (1Cor 1:30), I can live as Abba’s child, finding my identity in being the beloved child of the Father.  I become like Him as I by faith yield to Him and focus on Him.

John 1:12

1 John 3:1-3

2Cor 3:17-18

Col 3:1-4

The realization that the Father has placed me in Christ His Son and that He, the Perfect Child of the Father, lives in me enables me to live day by day in union with the Father and the Son.

3.  Jesus lived with trust and submission to His Father even in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Matthew 26: 36-46

Heb 5: 7-10

As Abba’s child I can trust my Father in every circumstance, no matter how mundane or dark.  I can trust in His presence, provision, and purpose.

Heb 12:5-11

Romans 8:28-30

Ps 23:4

Ps 139:12,23-24

Application Questions:

1.  What keeps you from living as a “child” in relationship with your Abba?

2.  What might change if you began living as a child with your Abba, rather than trying to live as an adult on your own?

Brennan Manning states that

The positive qualities of a child—openness, playfulness, simplicity, sensitivity to feelings—restrain us from closing ourselves off to new ideas, surprises of the Spirit, and risky opportunities for growth.

3.  Spend some time with the previous questions…and with your Abba. Ask Him to enable you to walk with Him as His beloved, vulnerable child today.

Suggested reading: Gospel of John — look at the relationship between the Father & Jesus the Son Return of the Prodigal by Henri J.M. Nouwen Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning The Rabbi’s Heartbeat by Brennan Manning

[first posted May 2011]

Abba's Child: Children Incognito

John at playground in Metafe 138_5764
John at playground in Metafe 138_5764

In April 2005, my husband John came home from work and said, “I’m going to Shanghai next week for work!”  Now you have to know that neither John nor I had been world travelers and haven’t even really had that on our “bucket list”.  The idea of his going (by himself, mind you) to Shanghai was very terrifying…to both of us!  As he was preparing to go, he was prayed over and encouraged by our kinship/small group to trust the Lord in this test to his faith. I took him to the Dayton airport very early the morning of his departure. After John checked his bags, I cried, kissed him good-by, and prayed.   He slowly made his way in the serpentine line through which he had to go to get scanned.  Then he would be out of sight and on to the gate.

There he was -- my tall, kind, gentle soul of a husband.  I knew he was scared, and I was scared for him. All of a sudden, as clear as a bell, the small Voice: “John is just a little child, locked up in an adult body, trying to live an adult life in an adult world.”  What did that mean?  I would soon find out…

When I walked out of the airport to go to the car, what had been pitch-blackness (because of the early morning hour) had been transformed into the most beautiful, crystal clear, spring morning.  I just couldn’t go back home on the interstate on a morning like this!   I had to ride through the country.  So I left and went north, not knowing where I’d end up.

I soon found myself in the parking lot of one of my favorite places:  Charleston Falls Nature Preserve.  Normally, I don’t go to remote places by myself, but I sensed the Voice drawing me on.

Nate at playground in Pensacola 138_5462
Nate at playground in Pensacola 138_5462

As I walked down the path, I thought of our son-in-law, who just a few days earlier had left for Africa.  I pictured him in his Air Force camouflage, saying good-by to our daughter, his wife of less than a year.  And the Voice came again, “Nate is just a little child, locked up in an adult body, trying to live an adult life in an adult world.”

Jeremy at playground in Pensacola 138_5427
Jeremy at playground in Pensacola 138_5427

I walked on.  I remembered our son Jeremy a few years earlier, diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age 20.  He was scared but trusting God.  Again the Voice, “Jeremy is just a little child, locked up in an adult body, trying to live an adult life in an adult world.”

Then the truth dawned upon me:We are ALL little children, locked up in adult bodies, trying to live adult lives in and an adult world.  And the only way we can do that is by living as little children with our Abba Father God!

I thought about Jesus, the Perfect Child of His Father.  How did Helive?

He lived in dependence upon His Father. Jesus said, The Son can do nothing by Himself; He can only do what He sees His Father doing. John 5:19

He lived secure in His Father’s love. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing. John 5:20

He lived in submission to His Father’s will. In the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed,  My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will. Matthew 26:39

He lived with His Father in trust & vulnerability.In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One who is able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence.  Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered. Hebrews 5:7

This is good news, because the Perfect Child of the Father lives in me (Col 1:27).

He lives His Child-life through me as I surrender to Him!  So now I know I don’t always have to have it all together.  I can be vulnerable with my Abba and trust that He will enable me, through His indwelling Son, to live an adult life in an adult world till He calls me home!

I love a song that Twila Paris wrote and recorded many years ago in response to a teaching by an elder in her church.  He spoke about being childlike before God.  The elder had said that we don’t need to act “tough and brave”.  We can cry before our Father and trust Him to work in our lives.  That really struck home with Twila, because she had sensed that people were putting her on a pedestal because of her rising popularity as a singer and song-writer.  And so she wrote the song, “The Warrior is a Child”.  Maybe you will be able to identify with message of this song as I did:

Lately I've been winning battles left and right But even winners can get wounded in the fight People say that I'm amazing Strong beyond my years But they don't see inside of me I'm hiding all the tears

They don't know that I go running home when I fall down They don't know who picks me up when no one is around I drop my sword and cry for just a while 'Cause deep inside this armor The warrior is a child

Unafraid because His armor is the best But even soldiers need a quiet place to rest People say that I'm amazing Never face retreat But they don't see the enemies That lay me at His feet

They don't know that I go running home when I fall down They don't know who picks me up when no one is around I drop my sword and look up for a smile 'Cause deep inside this armor the warrior is a child

--------------------

“You are from God, little children, and…greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

[First posted on April 25, 2011]

There are dads...and then there's a DAD

jeremy reading
jeremy reading

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV

None of us on this earth has had the perfect dad.  Some of us, though, would say we had pretty darn good ones…

Someone like my friend Shirley.  She describes her dad in two words…”Charles Ingalls”.  You remember him…from Little House on the Prairie fame, the TV Dad played by Michael Landon -- incredibly wise, loving, patient, and fun-loving.

There is another dad I would say is in the “Charles Ingalls” category.  He’s my son Jeremy.  Jeremy’s two little boys, Evan and Carter, are simply crazy about him!  Now, I would say that "Babci" (pronounced Bob-chee; Polish for grandma…and my title used by all my grandsons) borders on “rock star” status with those little boys… BUT not when Daddy is around (and rightfully so)!

my men
my men

One day, I was at their house when Jeremy arrived home.  Suddenly, any attention I was receiving immediately shifted toward the front door as Daddy made his humble, but “bedlam-producing” entrance.  Both Evan and Carter ran over to him screaming, jumping up and down -- each of them vying for his full attention.  Talk about energy and excitement!  This loving, game-playing dad was being smothered by his two adoring sons!  Somehow I can’t imagine that these little guys will have many, if any, “father-issues” growing up.

+++++++++++++++++++++++

ecard-abba-father
ecard-abba-father

This makes me think about another Dad…one much more “Charles Ingalls-like” than Charles Ingalls…or my son Jeremy.  A Father who is perfect in every way:

One who is there for me with love and wisdom and strength as I walk through this sin-cursed, broken world(James 1:5; 2Peter 1:2-3; Eph 3:20-21)

One who bestows every good and perfect gift (James 1:17)

One who gives joy and delight in His presence (Psalm 16:11)

Because of His Son Jesus, I can run to Him fully assured of being received with love and acceptance like Evan and Carter with their daddy (Heb 4:14-16).

Unlike them, however, I don’t have to vie with others for His full attention, because He is uniquely my Abba (Daddy in Bible language).  Yet at the same time, He is Abba for multitudes of other sons and daughters…because He’s our Father GOD, and we are in His Son Jesus Christ(John 14:6; 1Cor 1:30).

So I ask myself, how readily do I run to my Heavenly Father as my source of joy, delight, love, and provision?  Or do I rather turn to the"Babci's" of my life…the lesser “stars”, like appearance, activities, relationships, success, comfort, attention…good gifts, but not the Giver and Lover of my soul.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God…and SUCH WE ARE! 1John 3:1

[First posted on June 15th, 2011]

A Scripture Word on Wednesday: sons (& daughters) of our Abba

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,

to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”

So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Galatians 4:4-7 NIV

THANK YOU, O OUR ABBA FATHER! Praise your name forever!

Living as Abba’s Child: “darling little children"

Years ago, when a friend had lost her last remaining parent, she said to me, “Now I feel like an orphan!”

I’ve thought about her statement over the years and come to realize that we believers usually live like spiritual orphans.  We live as if we don’t have a Father Who tenderly loves and cares for us.  We live as orphans in a scary world.  But His heart is that we would live as His children in union with Him in His Son.

In his first epistle, the apostle John, by then an elder father of the faith, appeals to his readers (and to us) as “little children”.  The Greek word used has the idea of “my darling little children” or “honey” (“Hon’” as I call my little grandsons).  The word is in the diminutive form and so conveys great affection.

Spend some time exploring the seven verses in 1 John where he uses this sweet, affectionate word…keeping in mind that God our Father is speaking these words to you, His darling daughter or His precious son.

What is He saying to you? (Don’t forget to check the context, the surrounding verses, to get the whole message.)

1.  1John 2:1

2.  1John 2:12

3.  1John 2:28

4.  1John 3:7

5.  1John 3:18

6.  1John 4:4

7.  1John 5:21

Now that you’ve listed the Father’s encouragements and exhortations, pray over how they affect you and your relationship with your Abba Father, with His other children, with God’s enemy, and with the world.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Now look again at the second chapter.  In that chapter, the apostle John has special instructions to “little children” at varying stages of spiritual growth.

So within the context of being the Father’s darlings (and complete in Christ, Col 2:9-10) comes the realization that on the human, earthly level, we are at different stages in our walk with the Lord.  John pictures it as different stages of human growth:  babies, young men (teenagers), father (or mothers).  Keep in mind, though, that these are not chronological ages, but rather spiritual stages, no matter the chronological age.

I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. [Jehovah = I AM] I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children. [different Gk word, “a baby, infant”] because you know the Father [“Abba”].

I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. [Jehovah = I AM]. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:13-14

List the characteristic(s) of each stage of growth from these verses:

1.   babes, infants =

2.   young men =

3.   fathers =

While we are on this earth, there will be pitfalls and dangers at every stage of growth.  Read through 1 John again, making note of exhortations that could be particularly helpful to “little children” at each stage of spiritual growth.

1.    Baby Christians

2.    Maturing young Christians:

3.    Fathers/mothers in the faith:

Meditate on this central thought of 1 John.  Thank the Father for loving you and choosing you to be in His family.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when he appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:1-3

If you are studying with a group:

1.    What characteristic of a child do you feel you particularly need?  Why?

2.    Read each of the 7 exhortations to the “little children” in 1 John.  Discuss any that jump out at you.

3.    Which stage of spiritual growth do you think you are in?  Does it still help to know that you are a “little honey” to your Abba?

4.    Are there any pitfalls or struggles in your life that you would like to share with your sisters/brothers for prayer? Any exhortations from 1 John that match these?

Pray for each person immediately after sharing.  Invite the Lord into the area of concern.

[First posted May 12, 2011]

A Word on the Weekend: "Abba" Father

open dictionary
open dictionary

fa·ther  n.1. a. A male person whose sperm unites with an egg, resulting in the conception of a child. b. A man who adopts a child. c. A man who raises a child. 2. A male parent of an animal. 3. A male ancestor. 4. A man who creates, originates, or founds something: Chaucer is considered the father of English poetry. 5. An early form; a prototype. 6. Father Christianity a. God. b. The first person of the Christian Trinity. 7. An elderly or venerable man. Used as a title of respect. 8. A member of the senate in ancient Rome. 9. One of the leading men, as of a city: the town fathers. 10. A church father. 11. Abbr. Fr. a. A priest or clergyman in the Roman Catholic or Anglican churches. b. Used as a title and form of address with or without the clergyman's name.

v. fa·thered, fa·ther·ing, fa·thers 1. To procreate (offspring) as the male parent. 2. To act or serve as a father to (a child). 3. To create, found, or originate. 4. To acknowledge responsibility for. 5. a. To attribute the paternity, creation, or origin of. b. To assign falsely or unjustly; foist. 6. To act or serve as a father.

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Abba, transliterated from the Aramaic. Father, my Father

open bible
open bible

There is no English word that adequately conveys the meaning of the Aramaic word, Abba. The word itself expresses a close intimacy, reserved for parents and children, perhaps Dad, Daddy, or even Da-da.

In the New Testament, it is always used to address God and is followed immediately by the translation (Mark 14:36; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6).  this double expression [Abba Father] was common in the early church.

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HONOR YOUR FATHERS THIS WEEK...whether physical or spiritual!

Above all, HONOR YOUR HEAVENLY ABBA FATHER...the Father Par Excellence!

god & child
god & child

Children Incognito

John at playground in Metafe 138_5764
John at playground in Metafe 138_5764

In April 2005, my husband John came home from work and said, “I’m going to Shanghai next week for work!”  Now you have to know that neither John nor I had been world travelers and haven’t even really had that on our “bucket list”.  The idea of his going (by himself, mind you) to Shanghai was very terrifying…to both of us!  As he was preparing to go, he was prayed over and encouraged by our kinship/small group to trust the Lord in this test to his faith. I took him to the Dayton airport very early the morning of his departure. After John checked his bags, I cried, kissed him good-by, and prayed.   He slowly made his way in the serpentine line through which he had to go to get scanned.  Then he would be out of sight and on to the gate.

There he was -- my tall, kind, gentle soul of a husband.  I knew he was scared, and I was scared for him. All of a sudden, as clear as a bell, the small Voice: “John is just a little child, locked up in an adult body, trying to live an adult life in an adult world.”  What did that mean?  I would soon find out…

When I walked out of the airport to go to the car, what had been pitch-blackness (because of the early morning hour) had been transformed into the most beautiful, crystal clear, spring morning.  I just couldn’t go back home on the interstate on a morning like this!   I had to ride through the country.  So I left and went north, not knowing where I’d end up.

I soon found myself in the parking lot of one of my favorite places:  Charleston Falls Nature Preserve.  Normally, I don’t go to remote places by myself, but I sensed the Voice drawing me on.

Nate at playground in Pensacola 138_5462
Nate at playground in Pensacola 138_5462

As I walked down the path, I thought of our son-in-law, who just a few days earlier had left for Africa.  I pictured him in his Air Force camouflage, saying good-by to our daughter, his wife of less than a year.  And the Voice came again, “Nate is just a little child, locked up in an adult body, trying to live an adult life in an adult world.”

Jeremy at playground in Pensacola 138_5427
Jeremy at playground in Pensacola 138_5427

I walked on.  I remembered our son Jeremy a few years earlier, diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age 20.  He was scared but trusting God.  Again the Voice, “Jeremy is just a little child, locked up in an adult body, trying to live an adult life in an adult world.”

Then the truth dawned upon me:We are ALL little children, locked up in adult bodies, trying to live adult lives in and an adult world.  And the only way we can do that is by living as little children with our Abba Father God!

I thought about Jesus, the Perfect Child of His Father.  How did Helive?

He lived in dependence upon His Father. Jesus said, The Son can do nothing by Himself; He can only do what He sees His Father doing. John 5:19

He lived secure in His Father’s love. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing. John 5:20

He lived in submission to His Father’s will. In the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed,  My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will. Matthew 26:39

He lived with His Father in trust & vulnerability.In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One who is able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence.  Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered. Hebrews 5:7

This is good news, because the Perfect Child of the Father lives in me (Col 1:27).

He lives His Child-life through me as I surrender to Him!  So now I know I don’t always have to have it all together.  I can be vulnerable with my Abba and trust that He will enable me, through His indwelling Son, to live an adult life in an adult world till He calls me home!

I love a song that Twila Paris wrote and recorded many years ago in response to a teaching by an elder in her church.  He spoke about being childlike before God.  The elder had said that we don’t need to act “tough and brave”.  We can cry before our Father and trust Him to work in our lives.  That really struck home with Twila, because she had sensed that people were putting her on a pedestal because of her rising popularity as a singer and song-writer.  And so she wrote the song, “The Warrior is a Child”.  Maybe you will be able to identify with message of this song as I did:

Lately I've been winning battles left and right But even winners can get wounded in the fight People say that I'm amazing Strong beyond my years But they don't see inside of me I'm hiding all the tears

They don't know that I go running home when I fall down They don't know who picks me up when no one is around I drop my sword and cry for just a while 'Cause deep inside this armor The warrior is a child

Unafraid because His armor is the best But even soldiers need a quiet place to rest People say that I'm amazing Never face retreat But they don't see the enemies That lay me at His feet

They don't know that I go running home when I fall down They don't know who picks me up when no one is around I drop my sword and look up for a smile 'Cause deep inside this armor the warrior is a child

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“You are from God, little children, and…greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)


[First posted on April 25, 2011]

Abba's Little Girls

Jan Youth07
Jan Youth07

Motherhood is a Sisterhood...unrivaled by any other (except perhaps, Grandmother-hood). So if you are a mom, you are my beloved sister...

And sometimes we mama-sisters just need to be daughters...Abba's (Hebrew for Daddy) little girls.

So this Mothers' Day, let us hear these restful words of promise from our Abba:

1.  Open wide...and be filled...

I am the Lord your God...Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.  Psalm 81:10

open your mouth wide ps 81:10
open your mouth wide ps 81:10

2.  Dwell in Him...and find refuge...

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty... He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge...  Psalm 91:4

Psalm 91:4  Under His Wings
Psalm 91:4 Under His Wings

3. Lift up your eyes...and receive help...

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  Psalm 121:1-2

mountains
mountains

This Mother's Day...

may you open your heart wide to befilled with Him and His provision!  (Psalm 81)

may you dwell in Him and find refuge and protection from all dangers under Abba's wings! (Psalm 91)

may you lift up the eyes of your heart to your sovereign Creator Abba God for the help you need -- strength, safety, and stability! (Psalm 121)

Yes, even we mamas still need to be Abba's Little Girls :)

Total PraiseLord I will life my eyes to the hills Knowing my help is coming from You Your peace you give me In time of the storm You are the source of my strength You are the strength of my life I lift my hands in total praise to you Lord, I will lift my eyes to the hills Knowing my help is coming from You Your peace you give me In times of the storm You are the source of my strength You are the strength of my life I lift my hands in total praise to you Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen

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cild reading bible
cild reading bible

Psalm 121 is very memorize-able.

When my kids were very young we used to take car trips to New Jersey to visit my family.  It was a l-o-n-g drive, so one year we memorized Psalm 121 together as we rode along. To this day, I have fond memories and sweet emotions whenever I read or hear that comforting psalm.

Why not spend a little time this Mothers Day memorizing Psalm 121 together.  Bask in the care and protection of your Abba Father!

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.  Deut 6:4-8

You may also like to visit some other Mama stories 

...especially Open Letter to a New Mom

Beth with Kaden 2006
Beth with Kaden 2006
Evan Arrives 002
Evan Arrives 002
Cortney with Carter 2008
Cortney with Carter 2008
Beth and Eli at birth
Beth and Eli at birth
John at playground in Metafe 138_5764
John at playground in Metafe 138_5764

You might also like to read Children Incognito

Am I My Brother's Keeper?

the grandboys dec 2010

the grandboys dec 2010

Let brotherly love continue... Hebrews 13:1

I have four grandsons.  They are the darling-est little guys!  I learn so much from them -- about fun, love, life, human nature, and language development (I'm an English teacher).  Above all, through them I learn about our Heavenly Father and how He relates to us His children in the family of God.

Kaden & Eli Oct 2011

Kaden & Eli Oct 2011

Now these little guys come in two's, two sets of brothers.

Evan Carter Oct 2011

Evan Carter Oct 2011

I've told stories about them in various blogs.  This time I'd like to tell two stories about one set of the brothers (Evan and Carter) -- stories that encourage me in my relationship with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

"The Interpreter" -- Understanding Each Other

One day, I was driving Evan and Carter home after spending time with them at my house.

Carter says from his car seat in the back, "Babci (my Polish grandma name), where we goin?"

Me:  "I'm taking you home, hon'."

Carter:  "I don't wanna go home!"

Me:  "Daddy will be home soon!"

Carter:  "Daddy?  I wuv him!"

angry birds in disguise

angry birds in disguise

Carter (again):  "I wanna go animal wode!"

Me:  "Animal Road?"

Carter:  "No! animal wode!"

I repeat:  "Animal Road?"  Then back and forth a couple of times.

Finally Carter is in tears...so I turn to the family interpreter, Evan.

Me:  "Evan, what is Carter saying?"

Evan: "He means 'Shade Wode'."

Me:  "Shade Road?"

Evan: "NO! Shade Wode!"

I repeat:  "Shade Road?"  Now Evan is in tears, which is very unlike him.  So I figured I just threw him over the edge!

Me:  "Evan, hon', use different words, like you usually do, to explain what Carter is saying."  This is the amazing thing Evan has done for a long time.  He rarely gets frustrated if I don't understand what he is saying.  He patiently uses synonyms. Amazing!

Evan:  "You know, it's by the Nike store far away."

Me: "I still don't know...Animal wode?  Shade wode?  What is 'wode'?"

Evan:  "You know, Babci, 'He's got the whole wode in His Hands'!"

I laughed and then cried!  Here the first thing sweet little 4 year old Evan thought of to explain the word "world"  was a song he had learned about his Creator God.

Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies, you have prepared praise.
Matthew 21:16

By the way, the place Carter wanted to go to was "Traders World,” a huge, crazy flea market with the statues of animals on the roof...thus "Animal Wode"

"The Evangelist" -- Caring for Each Other

About a week ago, the boys were at my house.  I had saved them a cool ad from a party store, showing every costume imaginable and desirable to a 3 & 4 year old.  But I couldn't find it.  So Evan, Carter, and Babci proceeded to search every room to see where I had put it -- to no avail!  Finally as a last resort...I prayed!  "Jesus, please find the ad!"

Carter:  "Babci, Jesus isn't here!"

Me:  " Oh, hon', He is!  That's the beautiful thing...Jesus is everywhere."

Evan steps in:  "Carter,  you know where ELSE he is?"  Evan very dramatically points to inside his little chest! "You need to get him in YOU.  You need to pray!"

Then to me, Evan says:  "Carter doesn't have Him!"

So I pick up Carter and put him on my lap, thinking this is the time to start explaining the gospel to little Carter.  Maybe little C is ready to "pray the sinner's prayer."

I begin telling him that inside his body is his real person, his heart.   He can ask Jesus to forgive his sins and come into His heart.

Carter, "Inside my belly [pointing]?  Inside my bottom [pointing again with a giggle]?

I figure by this time, things are deteriorating. 

So I turn to Evan, "I don't think Carter is ready yet...we need to pray for him !"

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:1-4

By the way, we did find the ad.  Carter said to me, "In your purse, Babci?"  Sure enough!

The parents of both of these sets of brothers desire that these little guys grow up to be "best buds." And they seem to be well on their way!  But that doesn't always seem to be happening when kids are growing up!

Trust me, I know!  I'm the oldest of 7 and always wished I were an only child...like the time, my youngest sister Nancy threatened to run away from home, and I was helping her pack!  But today each of us would DIE for the other...truly!  Why?  Because we belong to each other...we are in the same blood line, the same family!

And isn't that our Abba Father's desire for us His children...that we would be devoted to one another ("best buds," so to speak), no matter how much we disagree and even dislike each other?  We are in the same blood line, the same family!

The way we know we've been transferred from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters. Anyone who doesn't love is as good as dead. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know very well that eternal life and murder don't go together. This is how we've come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves! 1John 3:14-16 MESSAGE

We have a connection with each other that can't be broken, whether we like it or not!  It's a connection as deep as union with each other in the Triune God!  Just as in a human family, the primary connection a child has is with the parents (and thus with each other), so too in the family of God.  Listen to how Jesus prayed the night before He died:

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that THEY also may be IN US, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. John 17:20-23

As I've been meditating on my union with Christ and my brothers and sisters, I've revisited what are called the One another verses.  Maybe you would like to join me in revisiting them, or perhaps visiting them for the first time.  Then if you care to, pray with me:

Father, empower me through the indwelling Christ, Your Perfect Son, to love my brothers and sisters.  Love them through me.  Understand them through me.  Care about their spiritual, emotional, physical welfare through me, O God.  In Christ's Loving Name.  Amen!

John 13:14

"If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.

John 13:34

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

John 13:35 " By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

John 15:12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

John 15:17 "This I command you, that you love one another.

Acts 7:26 " On the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, 'Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?'

Acts 15:39 And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.

Romans 12:5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;

Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly Do not be wise in your own estimation.

Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

Romans 14:5 One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this-- not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.

Romans 14:19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.

Romans 15:5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,

Romans 15:7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.

Romans 15:14 And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.

Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

1 Corinthians 6:7 Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?

1 Corinthians 7:5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

1 Corinthians 11:33 So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.

1 Corinthians 12:25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

1 Corinthians 16:20 All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

2 Corinthians 13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Galatians 5:15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

Galatians 5:17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

Galatians 5:26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.

Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,

Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Ephesians 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

Ephesians 5:21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,

Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing oneanother with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

1 Thessalonians 3:12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you;

1 Thessalonians 4:9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;

1 Thessalonians 4:18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.

1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.

2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater;

Titus 3:3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.

Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Hebrews 10:24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,

Hebrews 10:25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

James 4:11 Do not speak against one another, brethren He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.

James 5:9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

1 Peter 1:22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,

1 Peter 4:8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint.

1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

1 Peter 5:5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.

1 Peter 5:14 Greet one another with a kiss of love Peace be to you all who are in Christ.

1 John 1:7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 3:11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another;

1 John 3:23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

2 John 1:5 Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.

Little Things: A Boy, a Bink’, & and a Blessed Bedtime

Little things...a binkie
Little things...a binkie

God cares about “little” things. I think it was DL Moody who once said that the big things aren’t too big for God’s power; but the LITTLE THINGS aren’t too little for GOD'S LOVE!

I’ve found that to be true in my own life over the years.  A few months ago, I saw that to be true also in the life of my four-year-old grandson Evan.  Several incidents, seemingly unrelated, occurred in his life proving that our loving Heavenly Father cares about this little boy and the “little” things he cares about.

0094
0094

One of these incidents had to do with a lost bink’. What’s a bink’, you ask?  Well, the formal name is … binkie. You know, the pacifier that, really, four-year-old little boys should no longer have.  But you also know how that goes… (I remember my little brother Billy being coaxed from his “bink” as we traveled through New Mexico with the promise that his bink would grow into a cactus.  I’m not sure the promise worked…but that’s another story).

Anyway, one Tuesday (our regular day together), Evan and little brother Carter were starting to snuggle down into the “campsite/nap area” on the floor on our lower level.  All of a sudden, the heart-stopping realization came upon us…NO BINKIE!  It had been several weeks since he had been here with it…maybe he took it home last time…maybe Mommy & Daddy decided to sneakily put an end to it all, I thought. Well, maybe now’s the time to end this wonderful tradition (binkies for nap-time at grandmas' houses only).  I began in earnest to prepare Evan for the inevitable.

Evan had other ideas: “I NEED my BINKIE to REST!”  My heart went out to him…I looked and looked.  Really, I did!  In the usual places and unusual places.

Again, making eloquent attempts to prepare him for the worst, I did what any desperate grandmother would do….I prayed!  “Lord, if you want Evan to have his binkie, please let it be here and let it come to light!”

binkie on couch
binkie on couch

Immediately one more place came to mind…the couch!  The last time Evan was here had been before Christmas for supper with Mommy, Daddy, and Carter.  We were all watching a children’s Christmas special after supper.  Snuggled cozily on the couch, he had received a “dispensation” from his parents about his bink…after all, it was Christmas!  So remembering this, I went upstairs and turned over ONE throw pillow…there it was…Evan’s precious bink!

I ran downstairs and said, “Guess what, Evan.  I prayed and Jesus found your bink!”  His face lit up…one happy little boy and one cozy nap with his little brother, thanks to a loving Heavenly Father who loves to give good gifts to His children…even little ones!

Evan and Carter 0109
Evan and Carter 0109

Every good & perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights. James 1:17

As a footnote, a few days later, Evan said to his mom, “Mom, I lost my bink and God found it really fast!”

…out of the mouths of babes You have prepared praise for Yourself. Matthew 21:16


There are Dads...and then there are DADS

jeremy reading
jeremy reading
beach boys
beach boys

None of us on this earth has had the perfect dad.  Some of us, though, would say we had a pretty darn good one…someone like my friend Shirley.  She describes her dad in two words…”Charles Ingalls”.  You remember him…from Little House on the Prairie fame, the TV Dad played by Michael Landon -- incredibly wise, loving, patient, and fun-loving. There is another dad I would say is in the “Charles Ingalls” category.  He’s my son Jeremy.  Jeremy’s two little boys, Evan and Carter, are simply crazy about him!  Now, I would say that "Babci" (pronounced Bob-chee; Polish for grandma…and my title used by all my grandsons) borders on “rock star” status with those little boys… BUT not when Daddy is around (and rightfully so)!

my men
my men

One day, I was at their house when Jeremy arrived home.  Suddenly, any attention I was receiving immediately shifted toward the front door as Daddy made his humble, but “bedlam-producing” entrance.  Both Evan and Carter ran over to him screaming, jumping up and down -- each of them vying for his full attention.  Talk about energy and excitement!  This loving, game-playing dad was being smothered by his two adoring sons!  Somehow I can’t imagine that these little guys will have many, if any, “father-issues” growing up.

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This makes me think about another Dad…one much more “Charles Ingalls-like” than Charles Ingalls…or my son Jeremy.  A Father who is perfect in every way:

One who is there for me with love and wisdom and strength as I walk through this sin-cursed, broken world(James 1:5: 2Peter 1:2-3; Eph 3:20-21)

One who bestows every good and perfect gift (James 1:17)

One who gives joy and delight in His presence (Psalm 16:11)

Because of His Son Jesus, I can run to Him fully assured of being received with love and acceptance like Evan and Carter with their daddy (Heb 4:14-16).

Unlike them, however, I don’t have to vie with others for His full attention, because He is uniquely my Abba (Daddy in Bible language).  Yet at the same time, He is Abba for multitudes of other sons and daughters…because He’s our Father GOD, and we are in His Son Jesus Christ(John 14:6; 1Cor 1:30).

So I ask myself, how readily do I run to my Heavenly Father as my source of joy, delight, love, and provision?  Or do I rather turn to the"Babci's" of my life…the lesser “stars”, like appearance, activities, relationships, success, comfort, attention…good gifts, but not the Giver and Lover of my soul.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God…and SUCH WE ARE! 1John 3:1


Living as Abba's Child: "darling little children"

Years ago, when a friend had lost her last remaining parent, she said to me, “Now I feel like an orphan!”

I’ve thought about her statement over the years and come to realize that we believers usually live like spiritual orphans.  We live as if we don’t have a Father Who tenderly loves and cares for us.  We live as orphans in a scary world.  But His heart is that we would live as His children in union with Him in His Son.

In his first epistle, the apostle John, by then an elder father of the faith, appeals to his readers (and to us) as “little children”.  The Greek word used has the idea of “my darling little children” or “honey” (“Hon’” as I call my little grandsons).  The word is in the diminutive form and so conveys great affection.

Spend some time exploring the seven verses in 1 John where he uses this sweet, affectionate word…keeping in mind that God our Father is speaking these words to you, His darling daughter or His precious son.

What is He saying to you? (Don’t forget to check the context, the surrounding verses, to get the whole message.)

1.  (2: 1)

2.  (2:12)

3.  (2:28)

4.  (3:7)

5.  (3:18)

6.  (4:4)

7.  (5:21)

Now that you’ve listed the Father’s encouragements and exhortations, pray over how they affect you and your relationship with your Abba Father, with His other children, with God’s enemy, and with the world.

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Now look again at the second chapter.  In that chapter, the apostle John has special instructions to “little children” at varying stages of spiritual growth.

So within the context of being the Father’s darlings (and complete in Christ, Col 2:9-10) comes the realization that on the human, earthly level, we are at different stages in our walk with the Lord.  John pictures it as different stages of human growth:  babies, young men (teenagers), father (or mothers).  Keep in mind, though, that these are not chronological ages, but rather spiritual stages, no matter the chronological age.

I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. [Jehovah = I AM] I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children. [different Gk word, “a baby, infant”] because you know the Father [“Abba”].

I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. [Jehovah = I AM]. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:13-14

List the characteristic(s) of each stage of growth from these verses:

1.   babes, infants =

2.   young men =

3.   fathers =

While we are on this earth, there will be pitfalls and dangers at every stage of growth.  Read through 1 John again, making note of exhortations that could be particularly helpful to “little children” at each stage of spiritual growth.

1.    Baby Christians

2.    Maturing young Christians:

3.    Fathers/mothers in the faith:

Meditate on this central thought of 1 John.  Thank the Father for loving you and choosing you to be in His family.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when he appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:1-3

If you are studying with a group:

1.    What characteristic of a child do you feel you particularly need?  Why?

2.    Read each of the 7 exhortations to the “little children” in 1 John.  Discuss any that jump out at you.

3.    Which stage of spiritual growth do you think you are in?  Does it still help to know that you are a “little honey” to your Abba?

4.    Are there any pitfalls or struggles in your life that you would like to share with your sisters/brothers for prayer? Any exhortations from 1 John that match these?

Pray for each person immediately after sharing.  Invite the Lord into the area of concern.

An Open Letter to a New Mom

HAPPY MOTHERS' DAY, dear New Mom!

Welcome to a whole new mode of existence --that of being forever "MOM."  Your life will now take on exciting dimensions you’ve never before imagined.

You've probably gotten all kinds of advice -- some great, some good, some best to be forgotten!  Well, here's mine to add to the mix: “Stay a beloved child in dependent and intimate relationship with your Abba Father” (1John 3:1).

God tells us that we become like what we focus on  (1John 3:2; 2Cor 3:18).  As you focus on Him, you will more and more become like the Only Perfect Parent.

So let yourself “be parented” by Him everyday.  All else flows from that:  strength, wisdom, patience, insight, peace, rest, etc.  And you’ll need all of these and more!

Refuse to think of yourself as separate from your Father God (Col 3: 1-4) – that’s the devil’s trap.

Return in your mind and heart to that sacred, secure place in God from whom flows everything and anything that you will ever need.

Many blessings on you and your precious little one.

As I affectionately say “We moms are ‘ruined’ for life – we can never not care again!”

Welcome to that glorious Sisterhood!!!

With much love Jan & Old Experienced Moms of every generation

 

 

 

 

Living as Abba's Child: Learning from Jesus

The most basic of human relationships is that of parent and child.  The Parent-child metaphor is perhaps the most tender picture of our relationship with God as believers.  This is so movingly expressed in the Scriptures by the Hebrew term for Father God "Abba," meaning "Daddy." How appropriate then (as we go into the months celebrating mothers, fathers, and children) to take a break from the blog-type format.  Let's do a little digging into the Scriptures.  (You may like to do this for your own devotions or as a small group study.)

Warm-up Questions: 1.    Read  “Children Incognito."

2.   What are some characteristics of a child? Do you ever feel that way inside?

3.   Can you identify with the key thought?  How? "We are all just little children locked up in adult bodies, trying to live adult lives in an adult world."

4.   What do you think about the proposed solution? "The only way we can live an adult life in an adult world is by living as a ‘child’ in relationship with our Father."

Jesus' attitude toward children:

Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them: for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Mark 10:14

Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me. Matthew 18:3-5

Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me. Mark 9:37

Jesus Himself called His disciples “little children”.  Look at the following with a smile:

John 13:33

John 21:5

How would you summarize Jesus' attitude toward children?

Jesus, God’s Perfect Child: How did Jesus live as a Child? What can we learn by looking at His relationship with His Abba and our relationship with Him? Look at the following Scriptures to answer these questions:

1.   Jesus lived secure in the Father’s love.

John 5:20

John 14:31

John 15:9

John 17:26

Because of the Indwelling Christ (Col 1:27), I can live as Abba’s child, secure in my Father’s love.  I can love and be loved in return.

John 16:27

1John 3:1

1Jn 4:19

Rom 8:35-39

Eph 3: 17-19

Eph 5:1

Brennan Manning in his wonderful book, The Rabbi’s Heartbeat, says,

“Define yourself as one beloved by God.  This is the true self.  Every other identity is an illusion.” (p.40)

We may do foolish, even downright sinful things, yet as Steve Brown likes to say, “But God is still fond of me.”

Can you say the same?  Do you know the unconditional love of the Father despite your brokenness?  If not, ask the Lord to enable you to experience His love which is greater than life itself.

That leads us into the next point…

2.  Jesus lived from His identity as the Son of His Father.

Jesus has been called the “Human Face of God”.  He bears the family resemblance.  His identity was as the only-begotten Son of His Father.  Jesus never lived separate from His Abba.

John 1:1,14

Heb 1:1-3

Col 1:13-15

John 5:17-30

John 8:28-29

Because I’m in Christ (1Cor 1:30), I can live as Abba’s child, finding my identity in being the beloved child of the Father.  I become like Him as I by faith yield to Him and focus on Him.

John 1:12

1 John 3:1-3

2Cor 3:17-18

Col 3:1-4

The realization that the Father has placed me in Christ His Son and that He, the Perfect Child of the Father, lives in me enables me to live day by day in union with the Father and the Son.

3.  Jesus lived with trust and submission to His Father even in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Matthew 26: 36-46

Heb 5: 7-10

As Abba’s child I can trust my Father in every circumstance, no matter how mundane or dark.  I can trust in His presence, provision, and purpose.

Heb 12:5-11

Romans 8:28-30

Ps 23:4

Ps 139:12,23-24

Application Questions:

1.  What keeps you from living as a “child” in relationship with your Abba?

2.  What might change if you began living as a child with your Abba, rather than trying to live as an adult on your own?

Brennan Manning states that

the positive qualities of a child---openness, playfulness, simplicity, sensitivity to feelings—restrain us from closing ourselves off to new ideas, surprises of the Spirit, and risky opportunities for growth.

3.  Spend some time with these questions…and with your Abba. Ask Him to enable you to walk with Him as His beloved, vulnerable child today.

Suggested reading: Gospel of John -- look at the relationship between the Father & Jesus the Son Return of the Prodigal by Henri J.M. Nouwen Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning The Rabbi’s Heartbeat by Brennan Manning