Tag Archives: Father

The Provision and the Passion

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As I was sitting under a beautifully blossomed apple tree in our garden, my thoughts turned to the teaching on intimacy with God that I had been sharing in our church.

We had been looking at the various degrees of intimacy which God illustrates through wonderful metaphors – almost sacraments, in His Word. We are his “workmanship” – from the Greek “poema”, his listening and learning “sheep”, his obedient “child” and beloved “bride.”

The last two images of relationship lead us to the intimate embrace of the Father receiving back His repentant son, but also to the passionate embrace of the Bridegroom for His Bride.

I suddenly began to wonder in whose embrace I was in?

For many years I had been cultivating a growing experience of the “Father heart” of God. Like the son in Luke 15:20, I had learned to receive grace, provision and restoration in the loving arms of my Heavenly Father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

But it was harder for me to feel the tender touch of the Bridegroom. I had discovered something of this a few years previously when I realised that my heart needed to deeply submit to the love of God. This submission is still leading me on a journey of discovery – limited of course by the now/not yet tension of experiencing God’s Kingdom in this fallen world, a journey of intimacy into the embrace of the Beloved.

“His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me.” Song of Songs 2:6

“But who is embracing my soul?” I wondered. The Father or the Bridegroom Jesus? That’s at least 2 embraces in one God!

I found a measure of answer in coming back to a Trinitarian God. God is indeed three in one. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You have the Father and you have the Heavenly Bridegroom Son Jesus. The Holy Spirit applies their embrace to our heart in the appropriate context.

The context of intimacy with the Father leans more to that of Provision – The Father knows what you need, He provides for all creation, He sacrifices the fattened calf, the Isaac, the redemptive ram – He is Yahweh Jireh, my loving Provider.Baptism-of-Christ

We see the Holy Spirit bringing this intimacy to Christ Himself at His baptism in Luke 3:22 –

“…and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

The context of intimacy with the Bridegroom is very much with a revelation of the resurrected Son. The Beloved in the Song of Songs is no “pièta” at the bloody foot of the cross. She is an ecstatic worshipper, enthralled with the beauty – as was John in his Revelation vision of Christ, of an eternal King. Compare Song of Songs 5:10-16 with Revelation 1:13-16 – Obviously the earthly Solomon is no match for the truly divine but the key here is to fall in love with the vibrant, eternally living love in Christ which transcends all things.

The context is that of Passion as the Holy Spirit once again applies this intimacy to the heart of the Church – both individually and universally, as she cries out for the Bridegroom in Revelation 22:17 –

“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”

We indeed tread on holy ground as we explore such things. Both “embraces” are important, but it seems that there may well be a whole new paradigm to discover in the embrace of the Bridegroom Son. For example:

A passionate view of mission.

The Father/child paradigm, as in Matthew 21:28, says “Son, go and work…”

The Bride in Song of Songs 1:4 doesn’t need asking: “Take me away with you – let us hurry!”

A passionate view of identity.

1 John 3:1-3 talks about how the Father has lavished His love upon us calling us “children of God.” Such hope calls us to “purify ourselves” in Holy obedience.

The Bridegroom’s perspective on His Beloved Church/Bride – she with no stain or wrinkle, takes us into a whole new dimension concerning our identity.

“All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” Song of Songs 4:7

embrace_II_1A passionate view of my prayer.

As the Prodigal son I have the privilege of “metanoia”, thinking again and turning back to the Father. The essential component of repentance is often found in our prayers and liturgies. We beat our breasts and say, “I have sinned…I am no longer worthy…” Luke 15:18-19. All very necessary and edifying this side of heaven. But while genuine repentance is useful, beware of getting locked into a repetitive ritual of superficial religious repentance which brings no lasting change and no living hope.

And if heaven should suddenly invade our human space? If the Holy Spirit applied the Bridegroom’s embrace in the midst of our everyday encounters? What might we pray?

“I am faint with love.” Song of Songs 2:5

 

 

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Sonship, grace and destiny…

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 Mission and service do not begin with a verb! They begin with a relationship.

All too often we quote the word “Go!”, forgetting that,

When they saw him, they worshipped him;”

 The Father in the parable of the two sons in Matthew 21:28 also uses the verb “go.” However he precedes the verb with a relationship.

“Son, go and work today in the vineyard.”

It is no use going and getting on with it if we haven’t had a clear revelation of our preciousness as sons and daughters of a loving Father. This principle was manifested in Jesus’ own life. He went into the waters of baptism and,

“as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

 This “Spirit baptism” brings a revelation of sonship. In the same way, we also need to be renewed in the revelation of God’s Fatherhood in order to fully accomplish the works which he has prepared in advance for us to do. Perhaps the first sign of being truly filled with the Holy Spirit is to do with “hearing” rather than speaking.

Do you hear the Father affirming you as a loved son or daughter?

Without this revelation our service can be full of fear and duty. The famous verses from Romans prove an effective remedy to such slavish toil.

“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 apostle Paul encourages Timothy not to be ashamed or fearful but to boldly suffer for the gospel,

by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life- not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.”

Grace and destiny, two pillars of strength for our Christian walk.

What is my destiny? A verb, a relation or a vocation? Try these two biblical destinies.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.

 “In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ…to the praise of his glorious grace.”

 We are called to be “grace in action” truly “charismatic”. And we need such active grace if we are to become like Jesus.

Paul’s missionary endeavours hung on his capacity to understand and receive grace. For him, grace was much more than a sort of “mess up, clean up” agent. It was his motivation and strength.

“…and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them-yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”

 Have you learned the secret of the “yet not I, but the grace?”

Where were you before you were born ?

God says to the prophet Jeremiah:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

Before you were born I set you apart;

I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

 Are you secure in God’s passionate prognosis ? His fantastic foreknowing.

I have forever existed in God’s intention which is now manifest in space and time. Faith in Christ and obedience to the Holy Spirit brings a fruitful collaboration with the divine intention.

Don’t get too focused on the problem of sin. We are not called to be under the yoke of condemnation, begging a few morsels of hope through our contrition but we,

“who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness”, are called to reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.”

 Remember that,

“where sin increased, grace increased all the more…”

 My prayer is that through these few lines God will renew you in the fundamentals of adoption grace and destiny. Receive a fresh baptism in the Spirit and hear that you are His precious son or daughter.

You are not a failure, He is well pleased with you !

I’ll finish by encouraging you to meditate on Paul’s personal missionary testimony to the Galatians which is soaked in the security of destiny, inspired by grace and caressed with the revelation of sonship.

“But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles…I went immediately…”