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Friday, June 15, 2012

God The Father

God The Father
How much do you really know?

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5

Most people have certain concepts of God. Many are not Biblical. Too often people start with themselves - their own feelings, observations, attitudes, experiences - and from there build a personal view of God. The result is a distortion, a caricature.

God does answer prayer. He does work in our lives. He does make himself real to us in our daily experiences. But we must avoid the common mistake of forming our concept of God out of the raw material of our own experiences.

If  we are to know the character and attributes of God, we must begin Not with ourselves and our experiences but with God's own revelation of himself. God has revealed himself in His creation. He revealed himself personally in Jesus Christ. And His self-revelation to us is completely and specifically defined in Scripture. God is exactly what He has revealed himself in the Bible to be.

God desires to be active in our lives. He wants to be what He really is -God of the Bible - in our daily personal experience. If we believe, He will do what He said He will do. We can have what He said we can have. But for this to happen, we must base our faith on who God is rather than on what happens.

Real faith is not the result of answers to prayer. Answers to prayer are the result of real faith.

True, a miracle shows the power and character of God and should lead people to believe. But the believing should not be focused just on the miracle but on God himself whose attributes are demonstrated in the miracle.

The anchor-point of true faith is always the unchanging Word and character of the eternal God. In other words, the bedrock of unshakable faith is not what God does, but who He is. Once this is settled, we can be certain that in everything He does and allows to be done, God is always acting according to His perfect character.

And His perfect moral character is summed up in 1 John 4:16: "God is love."

So even when we cannot understand what God is doing or allowing to be done, our faith remains firmly anchored to the unchanging love of the unchanging God. We must never suppose, just because Jesus said, "If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it" (John 14:14), that we can force God to our terms. If God always fulfilled His promises according to our liking, we would be spoiled. We would use the power of Jesus' name to make everything go our way. There would be no testing, no discipline, no growth. But God is sovereign. He reserves the right to fulfill His promises wisely; that is, in a way that is in perfect harmony with His design for His highest glory and our greatest good.

God is our Heavenly Father. He loves us and wants to draw us into a close relationship with himself. He disciplines us so that we may be "partakers of his holiness" (Hebrews 12:10). His purpose is to conform us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29) and this has priority over every temporal consideration. He knows what it will take to accomplish this in our lives, and the prize is well worth the price.

God is loving, holy, just, merciful, gracious, wise, faithful, and patient. So He has revealed himself, and so He wants us to know Him.

The Bible urges us to thank God for all His blessings. We should never become tired of testifying to what Christ has done for us. What's more, He desires to give us far more than we have yet received. Still, our deepest love and devotion to our Lord must flow not from the refreshing springs of what He does, but from the fathomless depths of who He is.

Locking in with God

God does as God is. If we know who God is, we will know what He does. God is love, and that infinite love is directing His power to accomplish the greatest good.

Jesus, the Son of God, has an intimate relationship with His Father. He knew who the Father was, what He said, and what He was doing. He spoke only what He heard from the Father and did only what He saw the Father do.

He said, "The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does" (John 5:19, NIV).

Early in Jesus' ministry He read to those assembled in the synagogue at Nazareth: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Then He announced, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:18,19,21).

Because He knew what the Father was doing, Jesus knew what He was anointed to do. And He did it. Jesus synchronized His words and actions with the Father's. He showed His disciples - and us - what God is doing. They saw it and declared it to the people: "Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him" (Acts 2:22).

Jesus not only demonstrated to His disciples what God was doing; He also informed them they were to follow His example.

This would happen because He was going to the Father and would send the Holy Spirit. "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father" (John 14:12). Jesus sent His disciples out for hands on experience with these instructions: "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons" (Matthew 10:8).

After the Day of Pentecost, the disciples followed the Lord's example: "The disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it"
(Mark 16:20).

The Book of Acts is the spectacular record of what happens when Spirit-filled believers lock into the heart and mind of God, synchronize their actions with His, and work in concert with Him in the power of His Holy Spirit.

Stephen and Philip were Spirit-anointed believers.

"Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people" (Acts 6:8).

"When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said" (Acts 8:6).

Paul and his team in Lystra saw a lame man leap and walk at Paul's command.  (See Acts 14:8-10.) Demons fled at the sight of Paul's handkerchiefs and aprons. (See Acts 19:11,12.)

Because God is who He is, He is still doing what He does. God "is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" (Ephesians 3:20). This partnership of power should send us to our knees in humble, earnest prayer.

If  we are to work together with God, we must live close to Him. He is already moving by His Spirit, and He is looking for those who will move with Him.