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God Is First And Foremost Abba ... Daddy

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Due to the work of the advertising standards authority, you don't see them so often now, but you may recall those Before and After adverts? Usually two small pictures - on the left is the flabby man the right is the same man with a washboard stomach and well defined pectorals. Or on the left would be the woman without the corset, viewed sideways, looking glum. On the right is the woman with the corset, with a somewhat strained smile on her face.

So it appears on the day of Pentecost. On the left the disciples and followers of Jesus appear directionless, unsure, unmotivated, weak, and hidden away in a secret prayer meeting, afraid of the Jewish rulers, who had crucified Jesus. Afterwards, on the right, we see them confident, open, authoritative, wise, representing God and challenging those around with no fear.

So what has happened? Acts 2 tells the story. It's so familiar, and we all know it is obviously to do with something the Holy Spirit has done. Its not a coincidence. Jesus forbade his disciples to start his work, until they had gone through this baptism of the Spirit.

God has much to say about the role of the Holy Spirit in your life. He talks about the character changes that will be produced - love joy peace patience goodness kindness gentleness faithfulness self-control. He talks about a whole range of things, some of which he will give to you specifically - generosity, prophecy, hospitality, administration, teaching, etc, etc. He tells us that the Holy Spirit will remind us of the word of God, enables us to understand scripture.

But you know fruit takes time to grow, and it didn't happen in the few minutes before they tumbled out onto the street that morning. And while certainly the speaking in other languages was amazing, and essential to this mixed race crowd, it seems to me, the people seem to have responded principally to the style and content of Peter's message. Wouldn't you say?

Something has happened to Peter, which is now very clear in his whole demeanour. And the way he stands, the way he speaks, the words he says, the expression on his face.

In the letter to the ten or so churches in the area of Galatia, we read these words:

God has sent the Spirit of His Son, into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father”.

In the letter written to the church in Rome, we read these words:

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."

The entire wealth of ideal parent-child relationship is present within God-Father-Son-Spirit.

The nurturing and the dependency, the giving and the receiving, the security and the growing confidence, the authority and the humility, the initial love and the responsive love, then later as the child grows, the mutual respect, the close unity, the understanding interaction. That is why God is relationally perfect.

Let's think for a minute about how children get created. We know that at the moment of conception, there is a one-time opportunity for the father's life-force to contribute to creating the child. But the life-force of God isn't called genes, it's called the Holy Spirit, the Holy Wind or the Holy Breath. You'll understand that since time immemorial life has been associated with breath! So in Genesis, we read

God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

His Holy Spirit sent into our lives is the way in which his genetic material is transferred, and new life is created.

So in Luke, the angel says to Mary,

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

But the Holy Spirit is more than God's genes. And the genetic analogy fails us. Why? Because genetically, the contribution to the life of the child is at one moment only. And yet we read that Jesus Christ, at the moment of his baptism, received the Holy Spirit again. And again, the voice from heaven says,

'Today, you have become my son'.

Yet Jesus was born to Mary as the Son of God, says Luke. And at age 12, he knew he had to be about his Fathers business. So the Holy Spirit has both an initial work and an ongoing work in the area of creating the child.

Are you afraid, or are you a confident child?

Are you afraid of what is happening with your family relationships?

Are you afraid of what will happen with your marriage?

Are you afraid of what will happen to those you love?

Are you afraid to walk across the street and invite a neighbour to share in God's love?

Are you afraid to reply to a colleague 'the reason I go to church is because I love God, and love to worship him, and want to follow what he tells me'.

Are you afraid of the future?

Are you afraid to die?

Peter was - afraid of all of those! Then the spirit of sonship came!! And fear left.

French has the word Papa, German has the word Vati, Aramaic has the word Abba, and English has the word Daddy.

It's the word every father longs to hear his child say. The first word. You write the date in the baby-book. You tell the grandparents. God is longing for you to say 'Daddy'.

Ok, so you're 35, or 55, sophisticated, it's a long time since you said 'Daddy'.

Well, you know it's little children that get into heaven.

Maybe you've got a whole complicated set of troubles. And this all seems rather shallow and naïve.

Can I say this? When you open your heart to God, and as a child, say Daddy, in complete trust, he pours into your heart a confidence, that affects the way you approach every situation. He pours into your heart a love that spills out and transforms every situation.

Instead of sucking love out of your human relationships, you'll be pouring it in. Instead of holding on to steady yourself, you'll be holding on to steady your partner, your child or your friend.

Is your relationship with God distant, maybe a bit cerebral? You're missing the point.

At the bottom of this blog, I've appended about 70 verses, each one a declaration of how much God loves you. Like this one from Hosea.

Hosea 2:19 ... I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.

Or this one from John

1 John 3:1 ... How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

How about this from David ?

Psalm 56:8 TLB ... You, Heavenly Father, have collected all my tears and preserved them in your bottle.

What does that mean? Let me tell you? Archaeologists have discovered that when someone died back in ancient days, the mourners would collect their tears in small bottles, and bury the bottles with the body. It was a symbol of how much the individual was loved. God not only sees your tears, but he collects and keeps them - a symbol of how much he loves you.

So take a moment to read through these verses, and dare to believe how much God cares for you, dare to believe He's your Dad in the most respectful and intimate sense, and dare to believe that his life is pouring into you and through you into the lives of others.

Ezek 36:26 ... I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Lamentations 3:22 ... Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

Joel 2:13 ... Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love

Psalm 103:4 ... The LORD … crowns you with love and compassion.

Psalm 116:5 ... our God is full of compassion.

Psalm 103:13 ... As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

Hosea 2:19 ... I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.

Isaiah 30:18 ... The LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.

Malachi 3:17 ... They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession.

Hosea 14:3 ... in you the fatherless find compassion.

1 John 3:1 ... How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

Romans 8: 38,39 ... For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 Peter 5:7 ... Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you, and watching everything that concerns you.

John 16:27. TLB. ... present your petitions over my signature! And I won’t need to ask the Father to grant you these requests, for the Father himself loves you dearly .

1 John 5:14. NIV ... if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

Matthew 28:20 ... I am with you always, even until the end of the world.

Luke 15:20-24 The Message ... When he was still a long way off, his Father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him.

1 Peter 5:7 NIV ... Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.

Psalm 56:8 TLB ... You, Heavenly Father, have collected all my tears and preserved them in your bottle.

Matthew 23:37 ... Jerusalem … how often I’ve ached to embrace your children, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.

Matthew 7:11 ... If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.

Matthew 10:30,31 ... Two sparrows are sold for a farthing, aren’t they? Yet not a single sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. The very hairs of your head are all numbered. Never be afraid then – you are far more valuable than sparrows.

1 John 4:8 ... God is love.

1 John 4:10 ... This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Isaiah 64:8 ... Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter, we are all the work of your hand.

Psalm 31:7 ... I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.

Ephesians 1:4,5 ... In love, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.

Ephesians 1:7 ... he lavished on us… the riches of God's grace

Ephesians 1:11 ... In him we were also chosen

1 Corinthians 2:9 ... No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.

Isaiah 41:10 ... So do not fear, for I am with you.

Matthew 6:9 ... This, then, is how you should pray: "`Our Father

Galatians 4:7 ... God has sent the Spirit of His Son, into your hearts, crying out, “Daddy, Father”.

Psalm 94:14 ... The Lord will not abandon those who belong to Him.

Hebrews 13:5 ... Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.

Isaiah 49:16 ... I have engraved your name on the palms of my hands. You are always in my thoughts. How can I forget you?

Psalm 139:17-18 ... How precious it is Lord to realize that you are thinking about me constantly. I can’t even count the times, how many times a day your thoughts turn toward me. And when I waken in the morning, you are still thinking about me!

Isaiah 43:1 ... Don’t be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Psalm 103:3-4 ... He is like a father to us, tender and sympathetic to those who reverence him … the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting.

Jeremiah 31:3 ... I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

Romans 5:8 ... God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Psalm 3:2-3 ... Many are saying of me, "God will not deliver him." But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.

Psalm 145:14 ... The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.

Romans 8:15 ... For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."

Romans 8:16 ... The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.

Romans 9:25 ... As he says in Hosea: "I will call them `my people' who are not my people; and I will call her `my loved one' who is not my loved one,"

Psalm 144: 3 ... O LORD, what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him?

Zechariah 10:3 ... the LORD Almighty will care for his flock

Psalm 130:7 ... put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love.

I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:5 ...

Psalm 17:7,8 ... Show the wonder of your great love… Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings

Psalm 31:7 ... I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.

Psalm 33:18 ... the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love

Psalm 34:18 ... The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 42:8 ... By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me..

Psalm 62:11 ... two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.

Psalm 90 ... Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Psalm 91:4 ... He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.

Psalm 103:17 ... from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him

Psalm 106:1 ... Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Psalm 107:43 ... consider the great love of the LORD.

Psalm 117:2 ... For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.

Psalm 121:7 ... The LORD will keep you from all harm, he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Psalm 139:1 ... O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.

Psalm 139:3 ... You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

Psalm 139:7 ... If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

Psalm 145:20 ... The LORD watches over all who love him

Psalm 147:11 ... The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

Psalm149:4 ... praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp, for the LORD takes delight in his people.
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