|Practicalities - & Why Yeshua/Jesus Called His Father Abba (Daddy)|
The Practicalities -- and why
Yeshua / Jesus called His Father Abba (Daddy)
God feeds the birds of the air . . .
He clothes the lilies of the field . . .
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. This message from Matthew 6 was divinely imprinted into my being at my conversion in October of 1960.
Not long afterward I had a meeting with an Episcopal clergyman. When I mentioned this passage, he said:
"Now, you don't really believe that, do you? Life doesn't work like that." No matter how hard I tried to convince the man, he just smiled, gave a little laugh, and soon ended the conversation.
That early in my life in Christ, I knew very little about prayer. Now I know that Father's passionate desire is to make His children creative partners with Him, through prayer. But this wonder was yet unknown to me. So, as I turned to leave my meeting with the unbelieving clergyman, I felt a strong sense of frustration.
Since God had become so very real to me, I deeply wanted to help the man come into the same experience. But he was deaf; his ears were closed. He was blind; he could not see. So all I could do was sigh, and pray, "Father, please help him understand!" Although I could go no further then, it was a beginning. I know now that a process began that day toward that man's true conversion to the faith of Jesus Christ.
Clearly, we cannot be sure a man or woman has been born-again and converted from sin to God's kingdom, just because they've been 'ordained' by a religious organization and have a 'reverend' before their name. This is especially true in these days of great departure from biblical morality.
For several years after my own conversion, the simple practicality of that passage in Matthew 6 continued to be worked into my being. As I sought His kingdom and His righteousness, His love grew in me. Day by day I learned to forget myself and to live for God and the people around me. In the reality of my daily walk of faith, the dying to sin in my 'old man' was being accomplished. The 'new man in Christ Jesus' was being created within me, one obedience at a time.
Eventually the amazing truth of Galatians 2:20 took hold of my mind as well as my spirit:
"I have been crucified with Christ, and it s no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."
The Bible was now my source of knowledge, understanding and wisdom. God's Presence was my comfort and strength. The peace of God, as Apostle Paul described it, 'keeps your heart and mind in Christ Jesus'.
Added to this was the daily proof of the Matthew 6 passage regarding "these things". The children and I were supplied basic food. Clothing was supplied in abundance -- not new and stylish, but clean and appropriate to each of our needs. We had a home. Although I was occasionally tempted to want more, and looked for ways to earn money, that door was closed until my sixth child was three years old.
At one point, after their father left and when my youngest was still a toddler, I made up some pictures using dried flowers and other vegetation and sold a few to neighbors.
As I studied and practiced organic gardening, there were good vegetables for the table.
The most painful reality for me was not the austere lifestyle. My four older children were in schools nearby. They were invited to visit their friends' homes. These families lived comfortably and were not 'religious' like Mom. So, my children gravitated toward a worldly philosophy and lifestyle which alienated them from me. However, God's working in their lives continues. My children are, after all, HIS children by covenant!
There are major spiritual surgeries which take place as we learn to trust Our Father, and walk in faith - the matter of giving, for instance.
There is a joy that accompanies giving. Jesus said,
"It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Father gives us joy - at times hilarious joy - as we share with those around us, and meet needs far away as opportunities arise. As I write, a big smile shines in me because yesterday my gift bought a bible to be smuggled to a Christian family in a Mid-Eastern Muslim nation.
Learning to receive with humility is another thing. Pride is not welcome in God's kingdom. Therefore, when we go through hard times financially, others will be called by God to share their provisions with us. To accept these gifts will force us to crucify the pride that says: I don't need help. I can make it on my own.
Oh, but that is the attitude of an independent 'lone ranger', and cannot be allowed in the kingdom of God.
In 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, the Apostle Paul compares God's kingdom family to a human body. Each one of us needs the rest of us. We are not, and cannot be, self-sufficient.
My recent reading includes a heart-rending, inspiring story of a Vietnam POW named Gerald Coffee, Captain, USN (Retired). He was a prisoner in North Vietnam from 1965-1972. He and his fellow American POWs were treated cruelly; tortured for the purpose of breaking each man's will to make him a propaganda tool.
The prisoners developed a code for 'talking' from cell to cell, by tapping. They taught the code technique to each new POW through the cell wall. This on-going contact prevented the isolation and depression which would lead (in the Vietnamese plan) to the surrender of the man's will. Each night before sleep the men would tap "GN, GB, GBA" to his neighbor. This was their code for "Good night, God bless you, I am praying for you, God bless America."
As they communicated their thoughts and emotions to one another, they stayed strong in their determination to resist their captors. Love and respect grew between them, and God gave them supernatural courage to endure.
Gerald Coffee wrote: "One thing was certain. We were all in touch with our humanness -- our strengths and our weaknesses. There was no bravado here. And in acknowledging our weaknesses and finally forgiving ourselves, and one another for them, we were learning both humility and compassion." *
When the Holy Spirit wants us to help someone with their burden, we copy the workings of our internal bodily organs. Science has revealed that when an organ is sick and incapable of fully performing its usual functions, the surrounding organs will take over some of the functions of the sick member (such as producing hormones), thus allowing the sick one to rest and heal. We ALL need help from time to time.
This wonderful plan of our Creator / Father can inspire us toward the unity of faith and brotherhood in tribulation times. Our Lord Jesus told us in John's 17th chapter, that it is the unselfish love of God in us that would convince the world that God had sent us.
Now, let's look at our unity with God Himself.
It is a kingdom necessity to trust only in God, and not in people. While learning this part of kingdom life, I have been betrayed again and again. The fruit has created an assurance within me that however people may treat me, God will never forsake me. My own responsibility is to trust My Heavenly Father and to forgive, grant mercy, and to love the people in my life; especially those who have hurt me. Therefore, the peace and joy in my soul makes way for God's love to flow. On the Cross, Jesus prayed:
"Father, forgive them. They don't know what they are doing!"
Although I cannot trust those who have shown themselves unworthy of trust, I can love and forgive them. I thereby open the way for God to bless and change them too. Instead of expressing anger, cursing and bitterness, I can speak a blessing, and doing so, break satan's hold on the situation.
At times when God has said something specific to direct me, human voices will attempt to turn me in another direction.
"NO!" say I. I will hear the voice of My Shepherd, and another I will not follow. Misunderstandings and sometimes persecution will come to test the Word God has spoken to us. Then the LORD sends His angels to minister physical and spiritual blessings. Someone will come alongside to lighten our load. Some one will pay a bill that we are unable to pay. Someone will give food or clothing, shelter or compassion. Someone may pay for the airline ticket we need for a divinely-called mission.
The enemy may plan a dangerous accident, yet we will know that an attack has been averted, or we may be rescued in the midst of it. King David of Israel wrote:
"The Name of the LORD is a strong tower. The righteous runs into it and is safe."
So, as we grow into right relationship with Our Father, and then with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and in our human families, we must remember:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Give, and it shall be given unto you.
Whatsoever you do to the least of these, my brothers, you do it unto Me.
Our God, whom Jesus called 'ABBA' (Daddy), is creating a family. Father's discipline is good, because His loving-kindness does not fail.
Chesid is the Hebrew word for God's tender, loving-kindness -- His Mercy. As we thank and praise Him for His chesid, He wraps us warmly in the blanket of His Holy Covenant through the Precious Blood of His Son, Yeshua / Jesus.
Chesid is the foundation, the constant, changeless reality of Father God's love for you and for me, His children.
[* p. 193, 'Beyond Survival', by Gerald Coffee]