Monday, September 22, 2014

SHOW US THE FATHER

Written by Allison Sylvester-Conliffe
Many of us can relate to an earthly father as we would have had the opportunity to be nurtured and grow under his leadership.  We may have been disciplined by our fathers, and some of us may have been ridiculously pampered by him.

Yet many of us may have been under our father’s explicit counsel and strict guidance.  To others, he may have been the sole provider in the home, and yet some of us may have even been raised by father as our sole parental experience and thus saw him as mother and father.

On the counter-side, many of us can relate to our father in a negative light.  It could be that he may have been abusive to us or was never involved in our lives, and therefore he had no involvement in our upbringing.   We may even not know who our father is, or maybe he died before we had the opportunity to know him.  Some have witnessed their father’s backs as he abandoned the family.

Allow me to introduce the Father of all fathers, especially to those who are experiencing a lack in this area of fatherhood.  God the Father is not only Father, but He is also Mother, as one of His attributes is The All Sufficient One – El Shaddai.  This refers to God completely nourishing, satisfying, and supplying His children with all their needs as a mother would her child.

Philip, a disciple and Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, once asked Jesus a question – “Shew us the Father” – John 14:8. Jesus’ response to the request was
“……he that has seen Me has seen the Father” John 14:9
Therefore it stands to reason - as we expand what Jesus was really saying - that if we know Jesus, then we would know who God the Father is!

So what are Jesus’ attributes that would personify Him as His Father? 

The very Name of Jesus as Emmanuel meaning “God with us” speaks volumes.  If Jesus is Emmanuel, then so is Father. For some of us this is a comforting thought since our earthly fathers may have deserted us, leaving the rest of the family to manage on their own. The Bible reminds us of God’s promise in the following words –
“…and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you”. Hebrews 13:5
God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah also reminds us of His staying power in the following Scriptures–
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: Isaiah 41:10
and again –
Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Isaiah 49:15
Another attribute of the Father as seen through Jesus Christ is that of Provider. There was a time that Jesus and His disciples needed money to pay taxes and Jesus instructed Peter specifically what He should do to get the money needed.
Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee. Matthew 17:27
Jesus, being their Lord, did not leave it up to the disciples to figure how they should have their needs met.  Acting as His Father would, He provided for them in the same way that God the Father took care of the children of Israel in the wilderness.  He was showing the disciples who the Father is. 

In the Book of Exodus Chapter 16, we read of God’s provision of food for the Israelites as they went through their wilderness.  We too, as children of God, will have wilderness experiences, but our Heavenly Father will continue to provide for us in order to sustain us through the periods of what seems to be famine.
So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat. Exodus 16:15
Jesus showed the disciples the Father by the way He protected them in times of great physical storms that rose up in their midst. He demonstrated God’s protection, as Father would have protected the Israelites from their enemies. God Almighty fought on their behalf and gained the victory for the Israelites as they walked in obedience before Him.  Gideon’s army was but three hundred persons and they won over the army consisting of thousands of Midianites and Amalekites.
And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place. Judges 7:7
Jesus was never an accuser, and in the same way God our Father does not accuse us when we commit sin.  Jesus came as the Restorer to bring us, sinners, back into right relationship and with fellowship with God the Father.  See the account of the woman who was caught in adultery, and Jesus’ response to her.
When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
Jesus was showing this woman who the Father is – He was showing off a Father who is ready to forgive as long as we come to Him in repentance.

Most of all, Jesus exhibited the attribute of love and compassion to those with whom He was in contact.  Love is who the Father is.  Jesus showed us how to love our enemies. 

Judas was the betrayer of all betrayers, and Jesus knew it all along. Yet when Jesus revealed to all the disciples that one of them would betray Him they were in a quandary, wondering which one of them was the one to betray Him. Jesus did not treat Judas in any way differently from how He treated with the other disciples.  He loved them all in the same way.  He was exhibiting the Father’s Love.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
……God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him. 1John 4:16
God the Father longs for us to know Him as Father.  He created us for His good pleasure, therefore we have to know what pleases Him in order that we become His pleasure!
For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [because it pleased Him and was His kind intent] Ephesians 1:5
for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:13

Why not take time to learn of the Father through his Son, Jesus Christ?  When we all take a step back and look at our lives, from the past into the present, we must conclude that we must have a Heavenly Father who watches over us to protect us and to provide for us.  All Father wants in return is for us to love Him through His Son Jesus.  The Word of God says, if we love Him, we would do what He says.
If you love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15
As we come to know Father, we would learn how to forgive our earthly fathers who may have abandoned us or hurt us emotionally or physically.  Jesus told his followers to honour our mothers and our fathers.  Our Heavenly Father had given this same decree to Moses when He gave him the Ten Commandments. 
Honour your father and your mother. Matthew 19:19
Jesus was showing all of us the Father.

Jesus forgave all who would have hurt Him as He hung on the Cross.  He even forgave the thief who was repentant.  So is Father toward all of us who need forgiveness
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God! Romans 3:23
And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. Mark 11:25
I invite you to come to know Father through His Son Jesus.  
He is desiring a meaningful relationship with you.

Monday, September 15, 2014

BE NOT DECEIVED

Written by Allison Sylvester-Conliffe

At funeral services I would often hear that the deceased has gone to a “better place”!  I have pondered this statement many times and concluded that based upon the Word of God this statement cannot be true for all who die, particularly what the Bible outlines about the candidates for Heaven as opposed to the candidates for Hell!

Here is what I have discovered.  God has created everything on the earth including man!  Therefore as we are born we are His creation. See Genesis Chapter 1.  He has formed us in our earthly mother’s womb as she conceived us from our earthly fathers’ seed.  God loved His creation, He saw that what He had created was good!

Many persons say, because it is their belief, that God is their Father and if so, they reason that they are His sons and daughters.  According to the Holy Scriptures, we are sons of God only if we are led by the Spirit of God.    That means that we have to be born of the Spirit of God!
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Romans 8:14 
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3
Jesus said that He will be coming back for those who are His - meaning that He is coming back for those who He knows to be of His stock – those of His household of faith.  He said it in these words –
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. John 14:1-3
Contrary to what we have been continuously led to believe, these Words were not spoken to the general populace. 

Jesus was speaking only to His disciples …… and at the very intimate time of the Passover meal – He was speaking to those who were to be entrusted with the call to spread the Gospel.
  • He was speaking to those who would have followed Him closely.  
  • He was speaking to those who were in His service.  
  • He was speaking to those whom He had pulled out of the world...those who had been entangled with the pleasures of the world but had accepted His invitation to follow after Him.  
  • He was speaking to those who had said “YES” to living after His teaching regardless of the negative consequences.  
  • He was speaking to those who had loved Him, and to those whose love for Him was destined to be tested and proven even before His death on the Cross.
Let us examine ourselves.  Are we truly God’s children?  Or are we merely His creation?

As God’s children we are called to resemble Him in our daily lives by our actions, by the choices we make and by our love for Him!  This is achieved simply by our obedience to His Word.  As God’s children we are expected to tell others about Him, and to make disciples on His behalf.  As God’s children we are expected by Father, to only do what we see Him doing.

Jesus came as our Saviour to begin the process of making us God’s sons rather than have us remain just His creation.  God sent Him to reconcile us to Himself after sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, His first children.  After they had sinned, their offspring and future generations, became tainted with sin.

Sin cannot enter Heaven where God is. God loved His creation, but desired us to be sons who would choose to love Him unconditionally.  So He sent Jesus to be the Sacrifice for the sin of mankind so that whosoever believes in Him would be forgiven of their sins, and so be reconciled unto God.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
This can only become a reality when we consciously confess our sins before God and profess our belief and our faith in Jesus Christ, by accepting Him as our Saviour and by making Him our Lord!
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God! Epesians 2:8.
The Gift of Salvation is Jesus Christ!

The obvious questions that God’s creation would ask are “saved from what?” or “why do I have to be saved?  I am no criminal.”

As I had mentioned before, when Adam and Eve sinned, the human race that would follow after them would have inherited that sinful seed – not by choice – but by inheritance.  Therefore God sent a Second Adam, Jesus Christ.  His job was to repair what Adam had done, and so redeem the human race from their inheritance of the sin nature once and for all.  His coming serves to save us from total separation from God when we die.  However, the choice is ours to make, while we are alive, whether to accept God’s plan of redemption or to reject it outright.  Where we spend eternity is determined by the choice we make - one way or another.

It is so easy to accept this plan of Salvation as the first step to becoming a son of God.
  • You simply go to God in prayer and acknowledge before Him that you are a sinner. 
  • Then ask for forgiveness of all your sins already committed, and ask Jesus to come into your heart to live there. 
  • Commit to turning away from sin and to following the godly lifestyle as written in the Word of God.  
  • Ask the Lord to direct you to a Bible believing church where you can fellowship and learn more about this new life and about Jesus Christ.
Congratulations! Once you have committed your life to Jesus Christ in your heart, you have now become born again and have entered into new life with Christ Jesus!

Once you continue with Jesus Christ, you are certainly assured a welcome into the Heavenly Kingdom of God when your sojourn on this earth has ended.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

ANYTHING YOU ASK, I WILL DO

Written by Allison Sylvester-Conliffe

As believers in Christ, we are asked to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).  We are mandated to believe for the impossible because nothing is impossible with God!
And Jesus said unto them, For verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Matthew 17:20
But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.  Matthew 19:26
This is indeed truth and never to be refuted.  However, how many of us can attest to the fact that we have been praying for a certain outcome to be manifested on our behalf, and yet heaven seems like brass concerning the matter.  It would seem as if God is not hearing our prayers because absolutely nothing is happening to bring the change that we were expecting.

Now I know that all things are to be considered. Sometimes, or rather most times, we have to be persistent and prevailing in prayer before the breakthrough could come.  Yes, I understand that God is also not obligated to answer the prayer of the unrighteous...though at times He does.  These things are indeed factors to be considered when we examine why our prayers are not being answered. However, today we are going to look deeper than that. Look at what Jesus said in John 14:14...
If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
This is also the truth that is in God’s Word.  Yet, many of us can subscribe to the fact that we have asked and asked again, but have not received.  Christians get disenchanted by the fact that our prayers are not answered, especially if we believe the Scripture verse in John 14:14.  We may even quote it in our appeal to the Lord, yet there is no manifestation of the answer we are expecting.  Why is this so?  Is it that we have missed something that is key?

Let us back up to verse 13 of John Chapter 14 – which reads –
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
May I highlight part of that verse that I believe is a key which we may have overlooked - that the Father may be glorified ……... This would mean that the thing which we ask for in Jesus’ Name should glorify the Father!

The word glorify means to give praise to – to extol –  to exalt – to worship – to revere – to reverence – to venerate – to pay homage or tribute to – to honour – to adore – to thank –  to bless.

The purpose of what we ask for, according to the scripture in John 14:13, should in essence be to exalt, give praise to, bless....the Father.

When Jesus was speaking these words to His disciples, it was for their instruction as He prepared them for the continuation of His ministry here on the earth.  Their ministry was about to begin as Jesus was about to be crucified and would no longer be with them in the flesh.

Jesus was talking to them with Kingdom business in mind.  In the verses prior to those we have just visited, Jesus was telling the disciples that He only spoke what the Father had spoken through Him.  He told them that He did nothing of Himself but that it was the Father Who did the works through Him.  
Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.  John 14:10
Then He encouraged the disciples to believe in Him – meaning that they ought to believe what He said to them – because if they believed Him then they would automatically believe in the Father.  Only then would they be entrusted to continue the work that the Father had to accomplish through them on the earth.

Jesus represented God the Father on the earth, so remember that Jesus was speaking these words to the disciples with Kingdom business in mind.  Therefore, He was saying to them that if they believed in Him, and they were busy on Kingdom business, then they could make a request on behalf of the Kingdom in Jesus’ Name and it shall be done unto them.

Most times we modern day disciples of Jesus Christ ask selfish requests which have nothing to do with the advancement of the Kingdom of God in mind – and we expect the results to be positive for us.  We have to remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 concerning our personal needs … and He is still saying today...
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, our main thrust of prayer should be about the building up of the Kingdom of God while here on earth.

When Jesus was teaching His disciples in John 14, He taught them intimacy with Himself and with the Father.  In verse 9 He said to them, but particularly to Philip who had a question about knowing the Father.
Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
The word “known” in this verse speaks to the disciples of their intimacy with the Father and with Jesus.  It was important that the disciples come to know Jesus in intimacy, since He was the doorway to knowing God the Father intimately.

The same applies to us today if we are disciples of Jesus Christ.  You would agree that when we are intimate with someone then we share personal details about one another.  In the same way, if the disciples were intimate with the Father, especially in Jesus’ physical absence, the Father would readily share with them the intimate things that lie within His heart concerning His Kingdom.  As a result the Father will entrust the disciples to pray those things He would have revealed to them, until its manifestation on the earth.  In that vein, Jesus said to the disciples, “If ye shall ask anything in My Name, I will do it ….. so that the Father may be glorified in the Son!”

To get to the place of knowing God’s heart we must tap into Him by the Spirit.  God is not flesh but He is Spirit.  We must pray in the Holy Spirit in order to connect with Him … meaning that we must ascend to God in our spiritual language which is called the speaking in tongues.  The Scriptures revealed that the Holy Spirit knows the mind and the heart of God, and knows exactly what and when to pray according to the Father’s will.
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26
From this position is where we would be praying what God has in His heart, and He will be glorified in the process.

Maybe we have had it wrong all along in our thinking.  Maybe we were busy praying selfish prayers concerning "me, myself and I," which had nothing to do with God’s Kingdom, and in so doing God was never glorified...and as a result no answer came to us.

What an honour it must be to represent God the Father on the earth … to be His ambassador as Paul and the other Apostles were!  What an honour it must be to avail ourselves to pray concerning what is on God’s heart! There can be no other earthly ambition to compare with the sacrificing of one’s life and all of the earthly pleasures to become the mouthpiece of God on the earth – thus partnering with Him and asking for what is on His heart, praying it through and so glorifying Him in the process!

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