Many people find it difficult to think of God as a loving father. They see him through eyes clouded with pain from their past experiences with an ungodly father or stepfather.
Thousands of Christians do not believe God loves them because their earthly father abandoned, wounded or grieved them badly. I pray that this message will speak not only to them but also to those of you who have not yet discovered the depths of the heavenly Father’s love.
Many of us know the scriptures and the theology behind God’s great love for his children. However, very few of us have learned to appropriate that love, and we therefore can’t enjoy its benefits.
Listen to how God described himself to Moses. “The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” (Exodus 34:6-7, NKJV).
When we are in the midst of our trials, we forget what God has said about his own nature. If we would only believe him in such times, we would have great assurance in our souls. From cover to cover, the Bible speaks to us as God’s voice, revealing to us how tender and loving he is.
God is ready to forgive at all times. “For you, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon you” (Psalm 86:5). He is patient with us, full of tenderness and mercy. “Great are your tender mercies, O Lord” (Psalm 119:156). “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy” (Psalm 145:8).
When you go to the Lord in prayer and worship, be very careful what kind of image of God you take into his presence. You must be fully convinced of his love for you and believe that he is all that he says he is.
The prophet Isaiah provides us with an example of how we can heal our tongue.
1. Isaiah drew near to the Lord and prayed for a vision of God’s holiness. “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up” (Isaiah 6:1, NKJV).
Anyone who wants to live a life that pleases God must constantly go into his presence until he sees God’s holiness. All healing, true blessings and victories begin at his throne. That is where we see God in his holiness!
2. While standing in God’s holy presence, Isaiah was deeply convicted for having unclean lips. “Then I said: ‘Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts’” (Isaiah 6:5).
Why did Isaiah cry out, “I am a man of unclean lips”? It was because he had seen the king of glory. God’s presence exposes everything that is unlike him.
3. Isaiah allowed the Lord to touch him and cleanse him with his sacred fire. “Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged’” (Isaiah 6:6-7).
God’s Word is a live coal, and the Holy Spirit is its fire. Right now you have been touched by the Holy Spirit through this message, and God wants to purify you with its flame. He can do it if you will let his Word reach your innermost being. He is the only one who can do it. Your part is simply to confess, as Isaiah did, “Woe is me, I am unclean.”
I pray that the power of God’s Word will touch and purify you. Confess, “Yes, it is me, Lord; I will not let this conviction pass me by. Cleanse my mouth and my heart.”
I believe God has to accomplish a work in us before we can lay claim to any covenant promise. What is this precedent work upon which all others depend? Jeremiah tells us. “I will put my fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from me” (Jeremiah 32:40, NKJV). God’s foundational work of the covenant is to put his fear into our hearts by the work of the Holy Spirit.
Jeremiah is speaking here of the provisions of God’s new covenant, not the old one. God tells us very clearly how this first work of the covenant will be performed. “I will put my fear in their hearts.” He is letting us know we cannot work up a holy fear by the laying on of hands or the strivings of our flesh. No, the only way this holy work can be accomplished in us is if God’s Spirit performs it.
God is telling us through this passage, “I am going to do marvelous things in you. I will send my very own Spirit to abide in you and give you a new heart.” He will empower you to mortify all fleshly deeds, and he will guide you into total freedom from the power of sin. Finally, he will cause you to will and do his good pleasure.
However, there is one work the Spirit must perform in you before any of these others. He is going to put in you the true fear of God concerning sin, a deep reverence for him and for his Word. He will implant in you a profound awe of his holiness so that you will not depart from his commands. Otherwise, your sin will always lead you away from him.
Very simply, the Holy Spirit changes the way we look at our sin. He knows that as long as we continue to take it lightly, we will never be set free. How does the Holy Ghost do this? By using the convicting Word of God, the piercing arrows of holy truth.
God describes himself this way: “I taught Ephraim [Israel] to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them” (Hosea 11:3, NKJV). In the original language, this verse reads more like “I came to them in their despair and tenderly nursed them through foul, rugged places. I held them in my arms as a nurse.” However, Hosea 11:7 says, “My people are bent on backsliding from me.” The word ‘bent’ here means “hanging in suspense, hanging in doubt.”
Israel was not sure of the Lord’s love and tenderness, and God was saying to Hosea, “My people are doubting my love for them. They do not really know me, and they are unsure of my love.”
It was true! Israel could not believe God still loved them. They were idolaters, backsliders and doubters; and they were probably thinking, “We brought God’s displeasure on ourselves. We sinned willfully, and he will surely judge us.” All of this despite God saying, “How can I give you up, Ephraim? …My heart churns within me; my sympathy is stirred” (Hosea 11:8).
Listen to his words of comfort and healing for you.
“For I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry; for the spirit would fail before me, and the souls which I have made” (Isaiah 57:16). The Lord was saying, “If all you saw in me was anger, your spirit would fail because it would be too overwhelming.”
“For the iniquity of his covetousness I was angry and struck him; I hid and was angry, and he went on backsliding in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will also lead him, and restore comforts to him and to his mourners” (Isaiah 57:17-18). Does this sound like God gives up on his people when they fail?
You may be going through deep waters right now. I do not mean temptation or trials necessarily. I am talking about overwhelming events that are being thrust on you that you cannot understand. Winds and waves of all kinds are flooding you, things beyond your comprehension. They are coming to your home, your church, your job, on all sides; but God wants to carry you through it all. He wants to restore you to spiritual health. If all you can believe right now is that he loves you in spite of all your stubborn ways, that he begs you to see him as your divine nurse, then that is enough!
Joseph was in one of his darkest hours; he was lonely, downcast, about to give up his dreams and questioning his place in God. Suddenly, the call came from one of the king’s guards, “Joseph! Get cleaned up. Pharaoh is calling for you!”
In that moment, I believe the Spirit of God came mightily upon Joseph, and his heart leapt with excitement. He was about to understand what it was all about. As Joseph shaved and trimmed his hair, he probably thought, “This is the beginning of what God promised me. Now I know I heard from him. The devil has not been in control, and my life hasn’t been wasted. God has been directing everything the entire time.”
In a matter of minutes, Joseph was standing before Pharaoh listening to his dream. Joseph gave the interpretation of the coming famine and told Pharaoh he had to gather and store the nation’s grain. “Someone must be in charge of the storehouses. You have to find a man who is full of wisdom to oversee it all” (see Genesis 41).
Pharaoh looked around and then turned toward Joseph. “You! I appoint you second ruler. Only I will have more power in the kingdom than you. You will oversee it all.”
How quickly things had changed! The day came when Joseph stood before his brothers and was able to say, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:20, NKJV), and later he stated, “God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout Egypt” (Genesis 45:7-8).
Dear friend, very soon you’re going to understand your present fiery trials. God is going to bring you into the promise he gave you, and suddenly it’s all going to make sense. You’ll see that he has never forsaken you. He has been training you, preparing you, teaching you to trust him for everything. He has planned a time for you to be used, and that time is just ahead.
Does our heavenly Father favor certain individuals among his children? Doesn’t the Bible say God is no respecter of persons? When it comes to salvation and his wonderful promises, God treats us all alike, but he also puts his special favor on those who respond wholeheartedly to his calling and yield their lives to him entirely!
Job said, “You have granted me life and favor, and your care has preserved my spirit” (Job 10:12, NKJV). David said, “For you, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor you will surround him as with a shield” (Psalm 5:12).
Our heavenly Father puts a special garment on those who completely give him their hearts: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).
Joseph responded to the Spirit’s call, surrendering all, and as a favor from his father he received a robe that set him apart. However, that favor of his father cost Joseph relationships and brought him rejection, misunderstanding and mockery: “All his brothers…hated him” (Genesis 37:4).
Why did Joseph’s brothers turn on him? The key is in verse 11: “And his brothers envied him.” When they saw the robe Joseph wore, they knew it spoke of favor and righteousness. They hated it because it reminded them of the Spirit’s call they had rejected. Joseph was a reproach to their halfhearted lifestyle.
You see, Joseph’s brothers indulged in petty talk and self-centered living. Their hearts were occupied with lands, possessions, the future, but Joseph’s was elsewhere. He spoke of the things of God, of supernatural dealings. God had given him dreams, which in that day was synonymous with hearing the voice of God.
Lukewarm believers around you will want to talk about their cars, houses and jobs, but you’d rather talk about eternal things, about what God is saying to you. Soon you’ll become a reproach to their half-heartedness. They will envy you because you represent the call of the Holy Spirit they are tuning out. Yes, Joseph was of a different cloth, and that difference made him hated and envied among his brothers. Beloved, the same will happen to you if you are sold out to Jesus!