And He Shall Be Called...
Day 1: Read Isaiah 9:6 and Psalm 27:10-14. Think with me for a moment about your father or authority figures in your life. What has characterized your emotional relationship with them? Do you find yourself wanting to please, appease them, hide from them, and work harder to make them proud? Did you fear them or feel safe with them? These questions are difficult, but they help us understand our deeper behaviors, attitudes and motivations. Since we have all had an earthly father, we all have had an imperfect father. Take a moment to consider one way your dad missed the mark (it may or may not be difficult). Don’t minimize it. Don’t run from it. Recognize the impact it has had on you. How have you handled this pain? Have you minimized it, rationalized it, or spiritualized it? Have you held it, felt powerless by it, or argued with it? Have you grieved it and forgiven it? Whatever your answer, how has that pain affected your view of God the Father?
Day 2: Read Isaiah 44:2-5 and Isaiah 46:4. While Christian men, fathers, and husbands ought to reflect God, God is never a reflection of man. It is our job to be like Him not God’s job to be like us. Not ever. He is God. He stands alone. No one can compare. Let’s not get this backwards. The realities of our father’s shortcomings do not impact who our Everlasting Father is. There is a temptation to use an unrealistic measuring stick on our earthly fathers. (Not to excuse instances of abuse or neglect, which are serious issues that need careful and most often professional attention.) Are there ways you compare your earthly father to your heavenly one? How do your behaviors and attitudes toward God affect how you relate with Him or with people in your life?
Day 3: Read Isaiah 49: 15-16. Our Everlasting Father knows our stuff. He is aware at all times of the condition of our hearts and souls. He knows where we are weak and vulnerable. Your walls are clearly evident to Him. Do you see God as one who is safe or do you see Him as a harsh father pointing out the messes you’ve made? How does Isaiah 49:15-16 describe the Everlasting Father? He is all in. He is invested in you. He has you engraved on his hand. He is not absent, clueless, unaware, withdrawn, or angry. He knows. How could these thoughts shape how you think about God? Is it mere information or can you relate to Him at an emotional level? Consider attributes or qualities of God like love, forgiveness, patience, kindness, boldness, respect, generosity, compassion. He desires to show you how to live these qualities out in real, tangible ways. Pick one quality. Praise God for this attribute of Himself and pray for Him to help you to further develop it in your own life. Write your quality on a 3x5 card and put it in a visible place.
Day 4: Read Romans 12: 2-3 and Galatians 6:7-9. Because of a childhood hurt or negative experience that we received from our father (or parent figure) we can, at times, revert back to those feelings and behaviors as if we are still under their control, influence, power and authority. Yet as we heard on Sunday, our Everlasting Father desires to influence and impact us more than any other voice or negative experience. He has set us free. To live in this freedom takes prayer, study of God’s Word and people to journey with. Do you know the heart vs. head knowledge idea? We can intellectually know our Everlasting Father is strong, loving, kind and for us, however, our heart or emotions don’t believe it. Who in your life can you have these kinds of conversations with? Does this kind of conversation come up in your small group? If so, discuss as your group. If not, can you think of someone who you could discuss this devotional with and meet them for breakfast?
Day 5: Read Zephaniah 3:17. This has been an intense week with opportunity for some heavy lifting by the power of the Holy Spirit. We will always be our Everlasting Father’s little girl or little boy. We will never outgrow the need to be his child; to immerse ourselves in the Father’s love, to receive an embrace, to be reassured. Think of the word everlasting; that is a long time! God is a Father who does not go away, does not abandon, does not give up, does not disown. He is here for you and me. A Wonderful Counselor and an Everlasting Father, He models fatherhood: comfort, love, correction, instruction, an ear to listen and a voice to call us to step out. Take some time today to worship the one who shall be called Everlasting Father. Consider an expression of worship that is out of your norm and acknowledge Him.