Tuesday, November 18, 2008

GOD as FATHER Word-Study Devotional

Perhaps today, you need to refresh your vision of God as Father. May our Father strengthen you today. -BJ


When God wanted to separate His people from their slavery, He identified Himself as their Father. He called them, “My son, My firstborn.” When He separated them, He reminded them of how He “bore [them] on eagles’ wings and brought [them] to Myself.” (Ex. 4:22; 19:4) The picture painted is one of strength, support, protection, and love. Later, as His “freed” children began to show signs of disobedience, Moses taught His children a song about God: “Is He not your Father, who bought you? Has He not made you and established you?” (Deut. 32:6, in part; full song: Deut. 32:1-43)

God the Father “made” you; that means He is your Creator. How created? “In His image” is the resounding reply. The incredible display of His image is found in the complex DNA of man’s genetic construction. The Father created “in His image” in order to establish His love into Man, thus making him His relational creation. We have a Creator who wants to relate to us as “Father.”

The word, Father, is abab. It is Strong’s first documented word in his Hebrew lexicon. It is said to be the first word spoken by a typical child. (That must prove that a baby’s first word is Hebrew for Da-da; J) It is simple to pronounce, yet hard to comprehend. God, the Creator is called, abab, “Abba, Father,” a term designed to show love, strength, support, and protection. (cf. Mk. 14:36; Rms. 8:15; Gal. 4:6)

In the Psalms, David begins to express his love to God as Father (Ps. 68:5; 89:26; 103:13). In the New Testament, Jesus declares God as His Father and our Father. The Greek word is pater (#3962; pronounced, paht-ayr), from which we get: parent, paternal, patriarch. Each of these English words expands the foundational meaning behind God as our Father. His fatherhood expresses our lineage, our kindred, our family, our spiritual “DNA.” God is our Father; that is, He is Father “to as many as received [Jesus], to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe on His name” (John 1:12).

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:16). “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes” (Mt. 11:25). “…for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God” (John 16:27). “…one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:6). There are many more “Father” verses that describe His fullness in each follower.

God as Father loves you in your best interest. He knows your physical and mental character. He has created you and fashioned you to fit that special, unique place in the body of His beautiful Bride, selected for His Son. You simply need to learn to yield to Him and His direction for you. You may see your spiritual siblings running all around His feet, doing things to get His attention; but know that He sees you as well and he loves you equally and wants you to see Him, NOT through others, but through His Son, Jesus Christ, who has gained you equal access to the Father. (Heb. 4:16)

Try to envision yourself as a young child before God as Father. See yourself as one who is uniquely set in His presence as a child He deeply loves and cares for. Yes, whom the Father loves, He disciplines, that you might “readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live” (Heb. 12:9b). He is not a bad role model, as some human fathers tend to be. But it is through His loving fashioning and disciplines that He teaches you to respect Him and to be under His rule, His authority.

Can this be said of you? Do you compete with others for the Father’s attention or do you have confidence in Him because you know He sees you? The Bible calls this confidence of position a “rest” (Heb. 3:6 - 4:16). Are you in rest before the Father? Is your confidence in Him? Perhaps there is pain involved in your relationship right now; can you see this as Him fashioning you, as His loving discipline? Remember, God as Father loves His children. Be subject unto Him and bless this wonderful name: “Abba, Father.”

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

SLAVERY Word-Study Devotional

Only when we are "captured" can we fully understand and appreciate this word study. This study is worth your time to read and apply to your Christianity. -BJ


15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. (Romans 6:15-19 NKJV)

Most people think negatively toward the word, “slavery.” But it is this very word used in the New Testament to describe a believer’s “positive” attachment to his God. It is first used to describe our old attachment to “sin leading to death” (Rms. 6:16), but when you “obeyed from the heart” (v. 17) the pages of the New Covenant—the Gospel—“you became slaves of righteousness” (v. 18). Notice the continued use of the word, “slaves.” Remember, also, that he is speaking “to all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints” (1:7).

“Slave” in Greek is doulos (Strong’s #1401), which basically means “to be in subjection.” (It comes from deo = to bind; be in bonds; #1210). A slave was one whose attachment to his master was greater than his attachment to anything else, including his own life. He lived in total submission to his master’s will.

To denote the strength of this word, the New American Standard Bible sometimes translates it as, “bondslave.” It is the word Mary used when she obeyed the angel’s announcement of her virgin birth of the Messiah (Lk. 1:38, 48 NASB). Paul used it to describe Epaphras, “a bondslave of Jesus Christ,” (Col. 4:12 NASB) who labored “fervently…in prayers” (v. 12 NKJV) with a “great zeal” (v. 13 NKJV) for the Colossians that they may stay the course to the completion of the will of God. Peter used the words, “bondslaves of God” (1 Pet. 2:16 NASB) to guide believers’ thinking and actions under their local governing authorities. These honorable believers—and more!—bore the title as bondslaves of Christ, obediently attached to their Master and Savior to do His will, “that you should follow His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21).

Have I described your “Christianity”? Look at the above again. Are you in bonds to Jesus? Are you attached to Him as Mary was to her conception of the Holy Child? Do you go about your day as bound to Jesus in slavery to His bidding, like Paul and Peter described and lived? Do you intercede for your church like Epaphras slaved fervently in prayer over his church in Colossae? Do you intercede for your governing authorities like Peter admonished? (cf. 1 Pet. 2:11-17)

Notice in the Romans passage, cited at the beginning, that we “became slaves of righteousness” (6:18). Well how do you do that? When does that happen? Paul says you must submit to it (Rms. 10:3f), meaning you get attached to Jesus and, therefore, get “saved” (10:9) from the law’s just verdict against your sin nature. So how do you get attached? Well, Romans 6:19 uses a human flesh illustration; Paul says to “present your members [i.e., your bodily attachments, functions, feelings, etc.] as slaves of righteousness.” (If you need more instruction as to what your “members” are and do, go to Colossians 3.)

The failure of the civilized, Western culture’s Christianity lies in its refusal to become slaves to Jesus. We don’t seem to “get it”—that we are enslaved to sin which is death, until we become enslaved into righteousness, which is eternal life in Christ Jesus. Slaves follow behind their Master. It is in this positional “train” that we are led “in triumph in Christ,” that we participate in diffusing “the fragrance of His knowledge in every place” (2 Cor. 2:14) where we are led. May God help us to choose and enjoy His enslavement.