God The Father: The Father Who Loves Me

Scripture:


Today’s Bible reading is John 16:25-33

The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf, for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father. 

Observation

I don’t know if you’ve had this experience before, there’s every chance that I’m just a little odd, but as I sit here writing this my heart is beating fast at the truth contained in these words. I feel as though an answer to a question I’ve wondered about for some time has at last arrived.

It’s a question Amy and I were discussing together recently: ‘since the Father loves the Son so much (and it’s clear from John’s gospel that he loves him a lot), does he actually love me or is it only the bits of his Son he sees in me that he likes?’ Does he love me for me or does he just tolerate me because the Son softens his heart towards me?

Does God know me and love me for me?

It’s a valid question.

There are several ways of answering that question but in my opinion none of them are quite as definitive as this one from the mouth of Jesus.

When we come to God and ask him for things ‘in the name of Jesus’ that means we’re asking on the basis of who Jesus is; it’s on his reputation and authority that we stake our claims and requests.

What we’re not doing (as Jesus points out here) is asking the Son to ask the Father as though he’s in the next room. We don’t hand our requests to the Son and then wait nervously in the corridor for the Father’s answer. Jesus says that explicitly: ‘I won’t ask him on your behalf‘ but rather, he says ‘the Father loves you.

It may be temping to skip onto the next phrase from Jesus mouth ‘because you love me‘ and have it sour the statement ‘the Father loves you’ but before we do, allow this to sink in – the Father loves you. Jesus says so, explicitly.

You. The personal pronoun, you. The you mentioned here are the disciples he’s speaking to, so do we have permission from the text to apply that ‘you’ to well, me? Let’s hold that question for now.


We can come to the Father (in Jesus’ name) and ask knowing that he loves us, individually.

God the Father lavishes us with his love and kindness and generosity; based on what? Based on the fact that we share a common love: ‘because you love me’ he says.

Understood like this the phrase that could sound like a reluctant condition to the Father’s love ie ‘only because you love me’, starts to taste a little less bitter and a lot more sweet. It isn’t ‘I love you BUT – only because you love him!’ but rather ‘I love you because you have turned away from loving the things that stop me from knowing you and have come to love the object of my affection as well.’ It is this phrase (the ‘because you love’ the Son phrase) that gives me permission to claim the first part of Jesus’ statement for myself: The Father loves you. This makes it true not only of Jesus’ original hearers but of me as well since I also love the Son as they did (and this answers the question above that we put on hold).

Application

The Father loves me. The Father loves you. We don’t pass our prayers onto the Son who reads them to his Father. We can come in, we can have an audience with him. Why? On what basis can we be so bold? Because he loves us. He loves us. The good and pleasant things we receive in this world do not come to us neutrally. They come from a Father who is good and who does good and who loves us. You are loved.

This also means that the bad and unpleasant stuff in life doesn’t come to us as punishment or as evidence of God’s disdain toward us. These things come but they do not change the truth of Jesus’ words one bit. He loves you.

Prayer


Thank you that you love me Father. Thank you that you are always inclined to bless me, to shower me with goodness, to lavish me with your kindnesses. Thank you Father that I can stand before you, or sit or kneel (or sleep!) and know that you love ME. Me. Little old, smelly old, flawed ME. Yippee. 

God The Father: Looking For Fruit

Scripture


Today’s full Bible reading comes from John 15:1-17.

By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
John 15:8

If we’ve learnt anything from this devotional study it’s that the Father is always wanting to glorify the Son and the Son is always wanting to glorify the Father.

So when the Son says ‘my Father is glorified when you bear much fruit’ he’s essentially saying ‘bear as much fruit as possible.’ and fruit (whatever it is) is clearly something good, something that I’d want.

Again we see the round about and constant Other affirming nature of the Godhead:

  • Glorify my Father by bearing fruit
  • Prove to be my disciples (thus glorifying the Son)
The Son says ‘glorify him’, the Father says ‘glorify him!’ each about the other.
This is good for us too for since God is Other-centred and outwardly life giving we benefit from him when he is glorified by and in us. As a result of the ‘glorify-him no glorify-him!’ nature of God we get to ‘bear fruit’. But what exactly is ‘fruit’? It’s obviously a good thing, but other than that what can we say, what are we talking about? Let’s look into the passage to find out.
Let’s look at v12-15:

  • The first thing suggested from these verses it that it’s obedience, but not just cold and plain obedience, it’s obedience that’s born out of intimacy and familiarity with God. So, stating it more clearly, part of the fruit is intimacy and friendship with God.
  • Also in our mind at this point, and not inconsistent with the above statement, it’s the Fruit of the Spirit laid out by Paul in Galatians 5:22. It is character that is Godlike. We become more life giving, generous, warm hearted and joyful – that’s fruit I’d be keen to produce!
  • Fruit also has something to do with answered prayer. The Father wants and will answer our prayers.

 

God The Father: The Gardening Father

Scripture

Today’s full Bible reading is John 15:1-17

‘I am the true vine and my Father is the vine dresser.’

John 15:1

Observation

This is quite a clear ‘here’s what the Father’s like’ sort of verse. The Father is the ‘vine dresser’ or sometimes the translations say ‘the gardener’.

He is as actively involved with his people as a vine dresser or gardener is with his plants. Daily a gardener waters, prunes and shapes his plants and depending on the season of the year he treats it differently. In winter the vine gets very little attentions from a gardener apart from perhaps some protection from the frost. In spring time there is weeding and shaping, in summer there is watering and gathering and in autumn there is preparing for winter.

As a vine dresser he knows the vine, knows its needs and is committed to the vine’s wellbeing. The vine after all is Christ, not us; that is perhaps a useful idea and one for us to stay with for a while. I am/we are branches on the vine and get the attention and dedication of the vine dresser purely because I’m part of the vine and the gardener loves the vine.

Again we see how much the Father is committed to his Son and how my benefits come from being in the Son. Plead the Son therefore, have confidence in the Son. Dote on the Son, delight in the Son, have the love and affection of the Father toward the Son.

The Father tenderly prunes, shapes, harvest, waters and waits over the vine. Those are all words then that describe the character and personality of the Father, my Father.

Application


The vine dresser always acts in such a way to try and bring about more fruitfulness from the vine. The Father, by implication, will always work and act in our lives to try and bring about more fruitfulness for us. Fruitfulness of Christ-like character, fruitfulness of intimacy with the Father, fruitfulness of answered prayer and personal joy in God.

Given that that’s his motive it allows me to surrender to his ways and submit myself to what he wants to do. But surrender in the Christian life isn’t ‘let go’, surrender is ‘go on abiding’. When I surrender to God and submit myself to his plans that doesn’t mean that I ‘coast’ through life or that I simply shrug my shoulders and say ‘whatever will be, will be’. Rather it looks like a practical and intentional pursuit of Jesus. I am promised the vine dresser’s good will by virtue of ‘abiding’ in the vine and so I shall ensure that I, in as many ways and means, abide in the vine.

Prayer


Father. Thank you so much that you are committed to the careful working and pruning and shaping and trimming of my life, with the intention of bringing about more fruitfulness. Thank you that you give what I desire, fruitfulness, purpose and intimacy. Help me to surrender, not in the sense that I ‘give up’ but in the sense that I ‘press in’ to Jesus more and more. Amen. 

God The Father: The Forgotten Father

Now when all the people were baptised, and when Jesus also had been baptised and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.'”
Luke 3:21-22

All of us are the son or daughter of some father but very few of us have ever heard words from our fathers like Jesus hears here at his baptism.

This is a problem.

Jesus’ coming and revealing God to us is the crowning moment of human history. It is the moment the Earth had been waiting for, the moment that creation up until that point had been holding its breath in anticipation of. At that moment, when the Son of God walked upon the Earth we saw more clearly than any previous generation had ever done that God the creator, ruler, author and sustainer was originally and eternally, Father.

According to Doug Wilson (no relation to Andrew I’m afraid) ‘The Father is the forgotten member of the Trinity.’ We talk about having a ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus and are familiar with being filled with the Holy Spirit but whoever heard an altar call to come and ‘know the Father’?

There’s a lot we’re missing out on in our Christian lives if we don’t learn to love and appreciate God as Father; and depending on our experience of Fathers that may be a difficult and unappealing idea in the first place. Having said that, all of us have a father hunger within us. All of us have an immaterial invisible ache that longs to be fathered, but not by just any father – we long for the true Father.


For the next 5 weeks we want to invite you to join us on a journey of discovery. I want us together to explore through the pages of John’s gospel exactly what God the Father is like. I want those of us who are Christians to discover just how good and affirming our Father is and I want those of us who aren’t Christians to learn what the person of God is like. I want us to hear those words the Father spoke over Jesus; spoken over us as well.

To draw out the richness of John’s gospel and to help us become transformed by it, each day we’ll publish a scripture for you to read, a verse to focus on and some observations to go along with it. We’ll use the method of Bible reading I’ve always found helpful, explained by the acronym S.O.A.P.

S – scripture
O – observation
A – application
P – prayer

I’d like to encourage you to read the text for yourself, jot down your own observations and applications, and then read our blogs or watch our videos to hopefully get a little more out of it for yourself.

The daily readings and verses for the first week are:

Day 1: John 1:1-17
Day 2: John 1:17-24
Day 3: John 2:13-25
Day 4: John 3:31-35
Day 5: John 5:1-17

We’re praying that all of us discover God the Father as he actually is: generous, loving, life-giving and good. I’m hoping that we’ll find our father hunger satisfied, maybe for the first time, not by a counterfeit god or an imitation father but but by the true and living eternal God.

Here goes.