One of the things that saddens me about the contemporary Christian church is the way that some believers refer to the Almighty in terms that drag Him down to a “good buddy” relationship. They refer to the great God of creation as “The Man Upstairs” or “My Partner in the Sky.” When people talk about God in such low-level terms, they do Him an injustice. And it’s not so much the terms but the image of God that lies behind those terms which is the real problem.
We must, of course, strike a balanced note on this issue, for Paul himself teaches us that the Holy Spirit in our hearts prompts us to call God not merely “Father,” but “Daddy” (Rm 8:15). Too much of the “Daddy,” however, can lead us, if we are not careful, into sloppy sentimentalism. I believe this is why, after the phrase “Our Father,” Jesus introduces us to another aspect of God—hallowed, holy, reverenced be His Name. It is right that we think of God in familiar terms such as “Daddy,” but it is right also that we remember that our heavenly Father is a God of majestic holiness and unsullied purity. A. W. Tozer was right when he said, “No religion has been greater than its idea of God.” Jesus put it into proper focus when He addressed God, not only as Father, but Holy Father. How is your relationship to the Father? Guard an intimate relationship!
PRAYER – My Father and my God, help me gain a healthy and balanced view of Your person, so that while I enjoy the familiarity of You, I am exceedingly conscious also of Your holiness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Dr. Larry Crabb, professor of counseling at Colorado Christian University, said: “Worship means, in the middle of life as it is experienced, that you find some way to be caught up in God’s character and purpose so that His will becomes central.” Mature Christians are people who think of themselves first and foremost as worshipers. They will see their other roles in life – as fathers, mothers, factory workers, business people, farmers, doctors, evangelists, pastors, and so on – as secondary. Some worship the servants of God more than they worship God Himself. A story is told of an occasion when Christmas Evans, the great Welsh preacher of a past century, was due to preach. Prior to the service the church was packed with people eager to hear the great orator. As the service was about to begin, it was announced that Christmas Evans was unable to keep the engagement and a lesser-known preacher would take his place. People began to show signs of leaving until the moderator said: “All those who have come to worship Christmas Evans may leave. All those who have come to worship God may stay.” No one left.
PRAYER – O God, my soul is too big to be satisfied with the writings of a mere man. I can be inspired by human words, but I can be fed only by Your words. May I continually seek You. Amen.
The final two verses of Psalm 73 form a conclusion and a resolution. The psalmist has finished his review of the past and is now hammering out a philosophy with which to face the future. He is resolved that no matter what anyone else may do, he is going to live in close companionship with God. He helps us to see the importance of this resolution by putting it in the form of a contrast: “Those far from You will certainly perish … but as for me, God’s presence is my good. Really, when it comes down to it, there are only two positions in life—close to God or far away from Him. I wonder, as the psalmist penned these words, was something like this going through his mind: “What caused me so much trouble in recent days and accounted for all my difficulties was the fact that I did not keep close to God. I erroneously believed that the cause of my problems was the prosperity of the ungodly, but having entered into the sanctuary of God I see that this was not he cause of my problems at all. My problems came because I had chosen not to remain close to Him. For me there is now only one thing that matters—staying close to God.” How are things with you at this moment? Do you feel close to God? If you don’t, then let me put what I want to say in the words of a preacher friend: “If you feel that God is far away, guess who moved?” “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8
PRAYER – Father, I am grateful for the promise of Your Word to I draw near to You, You will draw near to me. Help me put those words to the test by moving closer to You than I have ever been. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The opening verses of this psalm spell out the simple but powerful message that though the world has always harassed the people of God, the world will never win. “Since my youth they have often attacked me, says the psalmist, “but they have not prevailed against me. The man or woman who clings closely to God outlasts all oppressors. He or she is provided with an inner fortitude that is enduring. Perseverance, patience, persistence—this then is the message of Psalm 129. There is no better way of seeing the persistency of faith than by setting it in the context of history. God’s people have been ostracized, ridiculed, humiliated, scorned, persecuted, and beaten, but in the midst of the most horrific trials they have continued to serve God. If the persistence that flows from faith was merely a fad, then we would not be talking about it now. Faith—persistent faith, that is—is not a fad; it is a fact. It runs like a thread throughout all history and is shared by the men and women of every generation. Faith is a characteristic that survives all weather conditions—drought, storm, even floods. J. B. Phillips, in his brilliant paraphrase of the New Testament, sums it up admirably: “We may be knocked down but we are never knocked out! (2 Corinthians 4:9). A preacher friend of mine puts it equally well when he says: “We may be floored but we are not flattened.”
PRAYER – Jesus, in this situation I have nothing to offer of my own ingenuity or strength; I need your wisdom and power as badly as I need the air that I breathe. As I move forward may I do so in desperate dependence on You every second. I joyfully and unreservedly confess that I am inadequate to answer Your call, in fact, I can do absolutely nothing without You. I’m not able to handle this situation on my own and any good that results must come solely through You. I simply ask You right now to flow through me, Lord Jesus, and cause me to stay out of Your way. In Your name, Amen
In this season of rich intimacy with God, I can see Him answering prayers that I prayed many years ago. We really are such limited creatures in our thinking. We so often believe that if God doesn’t respond to us immediately, He hasn’t heard us. Malachi 3:16 hints at something very precious: “Then those who feared the LORD spoke with each other, and the LORD listened to what they said. In His presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared Him and always thought about the honor of His Name.” This suggests that as a believer, every conversation I’ve had about the Lord—every prayer—has been heard and recorded by God in heaven. Isn’t that an incredible thought?! You will never, ever waste a moment when seeking the Lord. Even during seasons of discouragement, God sees, God hears, God records, and God will respond in His time. God hears me when I cry, and God hears me when I rejoice! I have that relationship with Him!
PRAYER – I hereby surrender everything that I am, and have, and ever will be. I take my hands off of my life and release every relationship to You: every habit, every goal, my health, my wealth, and everything that means anything. I surrender it ALL to You. By faith I take my place at the Cross, believing that when the Lord Jesus was crucified, according to Your Word, I was crucified with Him; when He was buried, I was buried; when He was raised from the dead, I was raised with Him. I deny myself the right to rule and reign in my own life and I take up the Cross believing that You are in my and I in You. I thank You for saving me from my sins and myself. From this moment on I am trusting You to live Your life in me and through me, instead of me, to do what I can’t do, quit what I can’t quit, start what I can’t start, and–most of all–to be what I can’t be. I am trusting you to renew my mind and heal damaged emotions in Your time. I thank You now by faith for accepting me in the Lord Jesus, for giving me Your grace, Your freedom, Your joy, Your victory and Your righteousness as my inheritance. Even if I don’t feel anything, I know that Your Word is true; I am counting on Your Spirit to do what Your Word says– to set me free from myself, that Your resurrection life may be lived out through me, and that You may receive all the glory. I thank You and praise You for victory right now in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Although God loves to be intimate with His people, our fellowship with Him has another purpose—that “His kingdom would come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Perhaps the most profound unity I have ever experienced with the Lord is when I am sharing in His work. Whether that means interceding for someone He loves, sharing the Gospel with a lost soul, discipling others in following Christ, teaching His Word to others, or bringing a message of healing to someone who has been wounded, there is nothing like doing God’s will here on earth.
Jesus modeled this pattern of intimacy with the Father. He regularly sought solitary time to pray, worship, and meditate. Jesus repeatedly stated, “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgement is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” (John 5:30) Even the Lord’s Prayer of John 17, He did not seek His will but the Father’s will. Out of that fellowship came His Father’s work. He knew the Father’s mind and felt the Father’s heart. My friend, please believe this: intimacy with God is not simply for the “super Christians”. God offers the deepest intimacy for all of his children. The question is, will we seek it?
PRAYER – Father, help me grasp this truth that if Jesus needed to be intimate with You and take personal time and effort to be with You. How much more do I need time with You like that. Thank you for being my Sovereign Father. In Jesus name, Amen.