Tuesday, 18 March 2014

How To Be A Father. How To Be A Child. Hosea 11

Hosea 11:1-4, Jn 3:1-17

11 ‘When Israel was a child, I loved him,
    and out of Egypt I called my son.
But the more they were called,
    the more they went away from me.
They sacrificed to the Baals
    and they burned incense to images.
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
    taking them by the arms;
but they did not realise
    it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
    with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts
    a little child to the cheek,
    and I bent down to feed them

This week's question: Do You Believe in God the Father?

What do Father's do?
They love you. v1 - When a new father is presented with the baby in the delivery room the response should not be “It's a bit red”, “They all look alike to me” or “Ugh!” but “Wow!” (free advice for new fathers..)
They call you out. v1 – A bit old fashioned perhaps - and I am aware that mothers can do "fathering" and fathers "mothering" too but Mothering = gather in, reassure, Fathering = encourage, draw out, challenge.
They get rejected. v2 – parenting is painful. You wanted independence? You got it!
They teach you to walk. v3 – develop coordination, strength, security, independence. Hold two hands (Oh the backache) then one hand, then stand off like a slip fielder....
They heal you. v3 – inevitable  bumps and scrapes, forgiveness, saving and guarding
They lead you with Love  v4 – not coercion or fear of punishment but approval, example, celebration
They hold you close. v4 – accepting your mess and valuing you. Roger a young missionary in an African shamba where the amimals were brought in for the night and the resulting dung was prized for building material and fuel so stored in a  midden, saw his toddler -with the family  all dressed ready for church - fall  full length into the stinking morrass. What did the father do? Heedless of his sunday best suit he runs and picks up the besmirched child and holds him in his arms to comfort him. That's much more important to the father than his own dignity.
They feed you as a priority. v4 – going hungry, eating healthily

Look - This is your God. He is that sort of Father.

Do you believe in your Father? That's the question.
Some people have earthly fathers who exist – but are not present or not trustworthy physically, emotionally or spiritually. Our view of God may be skewed by our experience. Do we believe in a heavenly Father?

Is God Present To You?
Hosea says that the people have stopped knowing that He is with them. They didn't respond when he called. They didn't think that healing came from him. Many of us go through times when we think and act as if we are on our own. Do you?

Is God Trustworthy?
Hosea says that God is faithful but the people are faithless. Like Hosea's wife. Hosea was told to marry a harlot – Gomer. She was consistently unfaithful. But Hosea had to stay loyal and welcome her back as a picture of how God loves his wayward children. That's how he loves you and me. He is utterly dependable. Utterly trustworthy. Utterly present. Nothing you have done can stop his loving you.

Is He Father To You?
Will you hear his voice and respond? Will you dare to walk – risk falling? Will you acknowledge that He has healed you and will continue to do so? Will you be led by His love – or insist on chains or separation?

Are you Child to Him?
Do you know yourself to be “born from above”? Held cheek to cheek? Sustained?
Is your Spirit alive and kicking?
In John 3 Nicodemus came in the dark – literally and spiritually. A rumour brought him. A question. And he found his way in the dark to Jesus. Jesus gently leads him into the light of understanding. He says “really you understand these things already. Think about it. Its what you have been teaching”. Most of us pilgrimage into faith. Its not a flash in the pan. Jesus wants Nicodemus to see that he is a child, born of God, God is a Father to him.

This is the God who loves you – who loves everyone – so much that he gave his only begotten son so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

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