Friday, January 22, 2010

A Meditation on My Father

This semester I'm taking a class called "The Biblical Exposition of Prayer," or just "Prayer," for short, as we call it. I've really enjoyed the opening two classes so far and look forward to the rest of the semester. As with all classes here, there is much work to be done for prayer week-to-week, and even day-to-day.

One of our assignments is to pray for an hour a day. That's really been beneficial over the last eight days. I pray that through this God would transform my life into a praying life, that He would transform me into a praying man of God.

In class Tuesday, Dr. Harris mentioned a couple of times in passing (as if he wanted to stop and comment further but recognized he didn't have the time) that the "Our Father" in the disciples' prayer (Mt 6:9-13; Lk 11:2-4) is a great way to start our prayer and a great thing to ponder as we pray. "Our Father," he said, right away denotes a relationship. And even as he said the word "relationship" he seemed blown away. And then he hurried back to what he'd been saying, sticking to the point and to the flow of his lecture.

So Wednesday morning as I spent some time praying to My Father, who is in heaven, I started there. I started, as I often do, by saying the word, "Father." But I kind of just stayed there. And I said to my Father that He was my Father, and that I was thankful for that, and I asked Him to show me what it means -- the true significance -- that He is my Father. And after a brief second or two, my mind was taken to Ephesians 1.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.

I thought about that for a minute. Our Father has blessed us with every spiritual blessing of heaven, all of which are wrapped up in the chief blessing Jesus Christ, whom He delivered over for us all (Rom 8:32). That took my breath away. So I kept reading.

He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.

There's the Gospel! The Father chose us in Christ before the world began in order that we would be holy and blameless before Him, a purified people, worthy for His own possession (Tit 2:14). And so, to that end, our Father "predestined us to adoption as sons." Here the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ becomes our Father by adopting us as His own sons!

And my mind leaped to Romans 8: We have not been given a Spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but we have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by which we cry out Abba, Father (Rom 8:15)! We can call the God of all creation, who holds the universe in His hands (Ps 95:4-5), "Daddy." This kindness of adoption happened through Jesus Christ and to the Father Himself (Eph 1:5). Through this adoption we have been redeemed and have had our sins forgiven (Eph 1:7). Because of this adoption we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession (Eph 1:13-14). We are God's own possession.

I kept reading in Ephesians 1. I got to verse 17 where it calls my Father the Father of glory. He is the Fountain of everything glorious! Everything that is desirable, everything that is attractive, everything that is delightful, everything that is pleasant has its origin in my Father, the Father of glory. The pleasantness of a light summer rain, the beauty of a sunrise or sunset over the ocean, the magnificent patterns of fluffy white clouds in a blue sky, the delightful smile on the face of your wife, the sweet laughter of your children -- all of these things derive their glory from my Father. And He does not simply lend glory to those things. The glory we see in those things is God Himself. He is the glory of all things! My Father!

I kept reading, and came to Paul's magnificent prayer in verses 18 to 23. He prays that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened. He prays that our spiritual sight would be opened up and increased. He wants us to be able to perceive something that we need spiritual eyes to perceive. Something that we miss all the time because we only see with our eyes and can't see with our hearts.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling.

My mind focused on "the hope of His calling." He wants me to know that. He prays that I have spiritual eyes to know the hope of my Father's calling. I wondered what that calling was. My mind skipped to Ephesians 4:1, where Paul implores us to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called. My mind jumped to 1 Thessalonians 2:12: " that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory." So here He started to give me a glimpse. The calling with which I've been called is a calling into my Father's kingdom and into His glory. My Father, the King of all creation, has called me into His own kingdom! My Father, the Father of glory, has called me into His own glory! The hope of His calling is the hope of glory!

When I thought "hope of glory," I jumped immediately to Colossians 1:27, where I learn that "the hope of glory" is Christ in me. The reason that I can hope for glory is because the Father has predestined me to adoption as His son through Jesus Christ (Eph 1:5), whom He was pleased to crush (Is 53:10) on my behalf (2Cor 5:21)! I kept reading Paul's prayer.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.

So all my mind's jumping around was confirmed! The hope of His calling is related to riches of glory. And I love that! Riches of glory! Treasures of glory! Magnificence and superabundance of glory! And not just glory, but the glory of His inheritance!

I stopped there. What's the glory of His inheritance? Who's inheriting who here (cf. Eph 1:11)? I think "of His inheritance" is just a way of expressing: "of the inheritance of Him." I am called to the hope of glory, which is the riches of inheriting Him!

Immediately my mind skipped to all sorts of passages about treasure. He is my treasure!
  • Matthew 13:44-46 - He is the treasure hidden in a field, which, when I found Him, I sold all that I have and all that I was to gain Him!
  • Luke 12:33 - He is my treasure in heaven which I should lay up for myself!
  • Matthew 6:21 - He is the treasure where my heart is!
  • 1 Peter 1:3-4 - He is my inheritance which will not spoil or fade away!
  • John 17:3 - Knowing Him is eternal life!
  • Psalm 73:25-26 - Whom have I in heaven but Him? And besides Him I desire nothing on earth! My flesh and my heart my fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!
  • Psalm 16:2 - He is my Lord; I have no good besides Him!
  • Psalm 16:5-6 - The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; He supports my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me!
Indeed, my heritage (=inheritance) is beautiful to me!

And, praise God, as if that wasn't enough, I kept reading.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what the surpassing greatness of His power toward those who believe.

Paul wants me to have spiritual eyes so that I can see the surpassing greatness of His power. And as I read this I immediately thought of Philippians 3, where Paul comforts the believers by presenting to them their hope of glory: "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself." The power that He has in Himself to subject all things to His rule, that same power guarantees my resurrection and my ultimate freedom from sin! Oh how I long for this!

Then I went back to Ephesians 1 and let Paul finish his sentence. That power is in accordance with the working of the strength of His might, which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also the one to come.

There it is again! The surpassing greatness of His power toward me, which will transform my humble, wretched flesh (Phil 3:21; Rom 7:24) into perfect conformity to His glory (Rom 8:29-30; 1Jn 3:2), is the very same power by which my Father raised Christ Himself from the dead, and by which He set Him as authority over all things!

I understand why Paul would pray this for us. I'm thankful that he did.

I understand why Dr. Harris was blown away by just saying the words, "Our Father." I'm thankful that he was.

Brothers and sisters, love the sweet reality that God is our Father!

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