We are spending Advent on one of Isaiah’s prophesies:
Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and his name shall be called:
It isn’t hard to see Jesus as Wonderful, as Counselor, or as Prince of Peace, but Mighty God and Everlasting Father? Confusing! Yet when we plumb the depth, this puts us in awe of Jesus, of how He limited Himself on earth, and of what we are yet to see. It helps us understand why Revelation shows all falling before Him.
At the end of Jesus’ ministry, Philip asked Him: “Show us the Father.”
What did Jesus say?
As Matt Menzel, said, “Jesus is the full manifestation of who God is to us. So if God relates to us as Father, then Jesus will show us what that means.”
If you want to watch, here is the optional sermon by Matt Menzel called “Everlasting Father” Click below and scroll to the bottom to find it:
The main point of calling Jesus “Everlasting Father” is not that He is God the Father, for He is separate, but He shows us the character of God the Father. Matt Menzel looks at how Jesus’ parable of the prodigal sons shows us the character of the Father. And we really do see the same qualities in Jesus. This will be a fresh way of looking at this parable, for we indeed see the great love of the Father in this parable in Jesus. We cannot earn His love, we already have it.
Below are my dear lifetime friends Sylvia and Ann. (As an aside, but fervent request, please pray for Ann, on the right, battling cancer for her life. She has asked God for five more good years, and I am agreeing with that prayer.)
The story I want to tell you is Sylvia’s.
Tim Keller’s book Prodigal God was a life changer for Sylvia, for she realized how much she was like the older son in thinking somehow that she could earn God’s favor by being a good Christian. The flip side of that was that she felt she lost His favor if she missed a quiet time or sinned in any way. In sharing this with a godly mentor, the woman gave her an assignment. “Don’t have a quiet time this week.”
Sylvia was astonished, but did it, though not sure why! At their next meeting, Sylvia told her mentor, “I’m missing my quiet time. May I have it this week?”
Her mentor smiled. She said, “Absolutely! That’s what the Father wants. He wants you to have a quiet time, not to earn His favor, for you already have that, but simply because you long to be with him. We see this same character in Jesus. He did everything, even death on a cross, for us to have intimacy with Him, so how offensive it is to think we must also add to what He did in order to be accepted.
Sylvia tells her story in the opening of my last video for Idol Lies — it’s just a few minutes, I’d like you to watch that segment — you don’t need to watch the whole video. Click here and go to the very last video in Idol Lies:
God Hunt Sunday:
1. How have you seen God at work in your life this week?
2. Could you identify in any way with Sylvia’s story? If so, how?
3. Challenge Question: Can you think of an admirable father figure in Scripture who shows us what the father is like? (I can only think of one.)
Monday: If You’ve Seen Me, You’ve Seen The Father
Read this one page article and comment:
4. What did you learn from the above article?
5. Read John 14:8-11
A. What does Philip ask and how does Jesus respond?
B. Challenge Question: List three qualities that you associate with God the Father and then give a specific example of how those qualities were manifested in Jesus.
6. What do you learn about Jesus from Colossians 1:15-20? Does anything become radioactive? If so what — and why?
7. In his sermon, Matt Menzel made himself vulnerable in saying he didn’t want to preach this sermon because he has a hard relationship with his earthly father, and though he and his wife have tried to have children, either biologically or by adoption, those plans have failed. What would you tell someone like that about relating to God as Father?
Tuesday: Two Lost Sons
Watch this to prepare your heart:
8. How were you a rebel before coming to Christ? How did Jesus relate to you?
9. How have you been a rebel since coming to Christ? How has Jesus related to you?
10. Read Luke 15:1-2. What two groups were listening to Jesus and whom do they each represent?
11. What stands out to you from the trailer for Prodigal God? Have you read it? If so, how did it impact you?
Wednesday: The Father and The Rebel
12. Read Luke 15:11-24, asking the Lord to show you His heart for you, when you have been a rebel.
A. What becomes radioactive and why?
B. The younger son is basically wishing his father dead – -what would have been the response in this shame and honor culture? How do we do the same when we rebel against the Lord?
C. How has the Father embraced you as this father embraced his rebellious son? Be specific if possible.
13. Read Luke 7:36-50
A. Describe Jesus’ response to the immoral woman. How is He showing us the Father’s heart toward us when we rebel?
B. Describe Jesus’ response to the pharisee. How is He showing us the Father’s heart toward us when we default to works’ righteousness?
Thursday: The Father and the Self-Righteous
14. Read Luke 7:25-31, asking God to show you His heart for you when you trust in yourself. What do you see?
15. One of the symptoms of being an elder son can be seen when suffering comes into your life. You either are mad at God, because you think you’ve led a good life and yet you are suffering, or you are mad at yourself because you think if you’d led a better life this wouldn’t have happened. Have you responded with way? Be specific. Then — tell the truth to your soul about the gospel.
16. I’ve been reading Keller’s book: “Forgive.” and I see how easily I can be the elder brother in withholding forgiveness, not realizing how sinful I am too. Do you do this? If so, how should we both talk to our souls?
Last week I went to a small Christmas tea of five secular “pickleball” women. I was glad to be invited and have hopes God has a purpose in that. But the talk was so “under the sun,” and it did make me thankful that my blinders have been removed to see my real life, hidden with Christ in God. I think of Francis Chan’s rope illustration, and how this life is such a short part of our whole lives. I had trouble finding a way into the conversation, but I do see hope when I get one on one with especially two of these women. (Pray especially for favor with M. J. and Katy!)
In Matt Menzel’s sermon, he mentioned how Jesus will be King forever and ever, and a good King should be like a good Father, benevolent, and seeking our best. John is shown in Revelation that Christ “sits on the throne and lives for ever and ever.”
17. Meditate on Revelation 1:5-7 and describe how we will one day see Jesus.
18. Read Colossians 3:1-4. What does it say?
19. How might you apply this during these final weeks of Advent for yourself or those you love? Be specific.
20. If you listened to the sermon share your thoughts. (It was optional – -but if you did, share!)
21. What is your take-a-way and why?