Archive for July 31st, 2017

The Good Father

from JO’s sermon tonight:

many of us were raised by fathers that were loving and kind. they guided us, did their best to make sure that we had everything that we needed. but no matter how good our father was, people are not perfect; they make mistakes, there are times they can let us down, maybe not give us what we needed. some fathers, they meant well, but they weren’t affectionate. they never told you that they loved you, or were proud of you. they corrected you, made sure you stayed on the right path, but they didn’t express their love. the problem was, their father most likely did the same thing to them; they never heard “I love you,” never saw it modeled. you can’t give away what you don’t have. most fathers never planned on messing up their children, passing down dysfunction, but like throwing a pebble on a calm lake, their decisions affect those around them. you can’t help it; you’ve been impacted by the people that raised you. the good news is, the good Father, your Heavenly Father, has taken all this into account. He knew who your parents would be, what you wouldn’t get, what wouldn’t be fair. He’s already designed a plan with this in mind to get you to your destiny.

you may have been raised around dysfunction, addictions, abuse, poverty, but that does not have to stop you; that’s where you come from, not who you are. you are a child of the most high God. your earthly father may have fallen short, disappointed you, didn’t give you what you needed, but your heavenly Father, the good Father, will never let you down. He’s the friend that sticks closer than a brother. maybe your earthly father never gave you his approval, but the good Father is saying, “I’m proud of you. I love you. you are My son, daughter.” people may have tried to push you down, made you feel less than, but the good Father is saying, “you’re a masterpiece, prize possession, you’ve been fearfully and wonderfully made.” now don’t stay focused on what your earthly father did or didn’t give you. don’t live bitter because people put you at a disadvantage, weren’t there for you; start going to the good Father.

it’s painful to be rejected by anyone, but especially by your own father. when you’ve been raised in a dysfunctional environment, it’s easy to become negative, and think, “God, why was I born into this family? why wasn’t my father around? why was there so much arguing, addictions, abuse? why didn’t these people give me what I needed?” it may not have been fair, but the good Father has taken that all into account: what you wouldn’t get, who would hurt you, what wouldn’t work out. it may seem like it’s put you at a disadvantage, but that has not stopped God’s plan; when He laid out the path for your life, He took into consideration the pain, bad breaks, rejection. no matter how wrong it was, who wasn’t there for you, don’t use it as an excuse to live bitter, to give up on dreams, to settle for mediocrity. “my dad wasn’t around, he was harsh and abusive, he didn’t treat me right”; if you’ll start going to the good Father, get your approval, affirmation, love from Him, then despite what your earthly father did or didn’t do, the good Father will make it up to you, pay you back for the injustice, will help you not only overcome, but He’ll show you favor that will thrust you years ahead.

Jesus said:

Luke 12:32 (NKJV)
32 … it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

the good Father takes good pleasure in making your wrongs right, giving you what people could not give you. people may have put you at a disadvantage; God is saying, “get ready, I’m about to make it up to you. I’m going to give you more opportunity, influence, resources, fulfillment, than if it had never happened.”

Psalm 68:5 (NET Bible)
5 He is a father to the fatherless

God sees when you don’t have someone watching after, protecting you, you’ve been put in unfair situations where you didn’t have a choice, you were born into it. if you’ll keep moving forward, the good Father will open doors no man can shut, bring the right people, cause you to go where you could not go on your own.

in Joshua 5, the Israelites had just crossed the Jordan River. they were camped outside the city of Jericho; this was the last obstacle between them and their promised land. their parents had wandered in the desert for 40 years; they never did make it in, but God was about to fulfill His promise and take their children in. but there was one last thing the men had to do:

Joshua 5:2-3 (NIV)
2 At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” 3 So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites

these men, this new generation, were in their twenties and thirties. they were supposed to be circumcised when they were 8 days old by their fathers, but because their fathers didn’t do what they were supposed to when they were supposed to, now these grown men were having to be circumcised. not by their fathers, their fathers had passed; God told Joshua to do it.

when you don’t get what you should have as a child, it can be much more painful to get as an adult. at 8 days old, you don’t remember it; you cry for a little while, and then you’re done. but these grown men were having to endure pain that could’ve been avoided if their fathers would have carried out their responsibilities.

you may be dealing with things today that your father could’ve taken care of: if your father would’ve told you that he’s proud of you, you wouldn’t be working 3 jobs trying to prove to him that you’re talented, earn his love. or if your father would’ve paid attention to you, made you feel special, you wouldn’t go from man to man, trying to get the approval that your father should have given you.

these men were all circumcised; they had to go through pain because of what their fathers didn’t do. but when they came to Jericho, the last obstacle, God didn’t tell them to go break through the walls, attack the city; God knew they were hurting, dealing with things they shouldn’t have had to deal with, that weren’t their fault. He didn’t say, “too bad, your parents should’ve obeyed Me, blame them”; God took their pain into consideration. He told them:

Joshua 6:3 (NIV)
3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days.

this is the only place in the scripture where God had them take a city by simply walking around the walls.

Joshua 6:15-20 (NIV)
15 On the seventh day… 20 When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.

they made it to the promised land.

God knows what you didn’t get, who wasn’t there when you needed them, who should’ve been more responsible. the good news is, God is going to make it easier on you because of the people that did you wrong. there are battles you won’t have to fight, walls you won’t have to break down, because the good Father is watching after you. He’s designed a plan for a wounded man/woman to still take the city, for someone that’s been through hurts, abuse, dysfunction, to still accomplish dreams, have great relationships, live a blessed, fulfilled life.

if we’re honest, we’ve all been wounded in some way: people do us wrong, sometimes even good people may not give us what we needed. don’t get discouraged; God has a plan. he had Joshua do what their fathers should have done; the people that should have done it for you may not be here, but God has a Joshua for you. the good Father knows what you didn’t get. He’s going to send the right people to bless you, encourage you, open up a door. it may not have been fair, they didn’t do what they should have; don’t get bitter, help, ease is coming. the good Father is watching after you. before you were formed in your mother’s womb, God not only knew you, but He knew who your parents would be, what family you would be born into. He’s already come up with a plan for you to overcome every obstacle, designed a strategy for you to break out of the mold and set a new standard, lined up your Joshuas, the right people to help give you what you didn’t get.

maybe you faced abandonment, disappointments, bad breaks, abuse; it doesn’t have to stop you. you may be wounded, the people that should’ve been empowering you, speaking life to you, did just the opposite, but God has a plan for the wounded to still do great things. people may have rejected you, but God has accepted you. they may call you a mistake; God calls you a masterpiece. they may have left you out; God has not forgotten about you. He has you in the palm of His hand. He’s going to make up for what you didn’t get. people can’t stop your destiny. how you were raised, what family you come from, who did you wrong; God has taken that all into account. don’t live with a victim mentality; people may not have given you what they should have, but the good Father, the God who knew you before you were born, He’s not only going to make it up to you, He’s going to make the enemy pay, and bring you out better than if it had never happened.

in the scripture, Ishmael was the child that Abraham had out of wedlock with his maid Hagar. God promised Abraham and Sarah a baby, but they got in a hurry, tried to help God out, and Ishmael was born, but he wasn’t the promised child. this caused all kinds of strife and division; Sarah was mad Abraham, she started treating Hagar badly, Abraham was trying to keep both women happy. Sarah finally had her baby; Isaac, the promised child. when she had this child, she realized she didn’t need Hagar anymore, and she didn’t want Ishmael around; every time she saw Ishmael, he reminded her of Abraham’s mistake. Ishmael had to pay the price for something he had nothing to do with.

sometimes, it’s not that people don’t like you; they don’t like who you remind them of. they’re disrespectful with you because of who your father is, because of a relative, they had a falling out, a breakup, now you’re caught between the two.

Sarah was so upset:

Genesis 21:9-12 (NIV)
9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son… 11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you… 14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy.

Abraham was a wealthy man; he could have sent them out with animals, with a large food supply, with help so they could make it at least to the next city. put yourself in Ishmael’s shoes; he didn’t do anything wrong, he didn’t choose to be born into this dysfunctional family, he couldn’t help it that he wasn’t the promised child, he couldn’t change the fact that he reminded Sarah of Abraham’s mistake. all these things that he had no control over; it looked like he had been dealt an unfair hand.

like Ishmael, you may have come into situations that put you at a disadvantage, where there was dysfunction, abuse, poverty. you couldn’t help it, you were born into it. now, you’re having to deal with consequences from other people’s poor choices. stay encouraged; the good Father sees what’s happening. God is a God of justice. it’s not how you start that matters, it’s how you finish. the odds may be against you, but the most high God is for you.

Ishmael went out into the desert, abandoned, confused, rejected. the man he had known as his father, that had taken care of him, provided for him, suddenly turned on him.

Genesis 21:15-16 (NIV)
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.”

if this was the end of the story, we could try to justify it by saying, “he was Abraham’s mistake, he wasn’t the promised child”; that would make sense if God wasn’t the good Father.

Genesis 21:17 (NIV)
17 God heard the boy crying

God heard the cries of this young man born into dysfunction, with all kinds of things that he had no control over.

Genesis 21:18 (NIV)
18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

even though he wasn’t the promised child, his parents made a mess of his life, God said, in effect, “Ishmael, I’ve seen all the injustice, I know you’ve had bad breaks, people put you at a disadvantage, but don’t worry; I’m going to make it up to you, do something great with your life, bring a nation out of you.”

God was showing us that even if you have parents that blew it, people that put you at a disadvantage, addictions, abuse, poverty, you had no control, don’t get discouraged; God knows how to bring greatness out of a great mess. if you’ll not complain, not give up on a dream, “this is not fair,” instead go to God, the good Father, He’ll not only hear your call, but He’ll make more out of your life than you ever imagined. don’t live with a victim mentality; don’t let what’s happened in the past limit your future. Abraham was the father of faith, but he didn’t treat his son right. a good person may have done you wrong; people are human, they make mistakes. why don’t you let them off the hook? quit trying to make people pay you back, and go to God; He’ll pay you back. God knows how to bring greatness out of dysfunction: that means great relationships, great talent, great opportunities, great success.

you may have had a rough start, the odds are against you; the good Father sees what’s happening. He knows what you didn’t get, who wasn’t there for you. He’s taken into consideration the hurt, loneliness, bad breaks. He has a plan, not to just bring you out, but to bring you out better. don’t live with a victim mentality, don’t give up on your dreams; there may be some dysfunction in your past, we all have some, but the good Father has amazing things in your future. God is going to bring greatness out of a great mess, bring down walls easier than you thought, be a Father to the fatherless, and take you to the fullness of your destiny.

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