As we continue this year the next plan I have selected to go through is “Finding Dad” which is a 7-day devotional from the Bible.com site by Luke Cunningham and published by The Ark Church. It caught my attention as I was looking for my next dad related devotional because it says in the introductory paragraph:
Jesus didn’t come to replace the role of dad, He came to redeem it! In Finding Dad we discover how to forgive, heal, and reconcile the father wound while finding trust, protection, and identity in our heavenly Father.Finding Dad on Bible.com
‘“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel. “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”’Malachi 4:4-6
‘Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds ; rejoice before him—his name is the Lord . A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. ‘Psalms 68:4-6
‘In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ” John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”’Matthew 3:1-17
Reflecting on today’s verses brings some pretty interesting perspectives to the day. We see God has a plan, one that He had not only made but also foretold through the prophets of old hundreds of years ago. In Malachi, we learn how God the Father will send a messenger ahead of Jesus whose purpose is to reconcile families, the heal hearts so that it isn’t a time of natural disasters and destruction. In Psalms, we learn the importance of praising God the Father and who He is to us. We learn that He is the ultimate Father, the one who is always there and ready to take a stand for those in need, He is the father to the fatherless, the defender of widows, the one who brings the lonely into His family, the one who leads out the prisoners of sin with singing. We see how those who rebel against Him choose for themselves to live in a sun-scorched land. Our two old testament readings point us to what is revealed in today’s reading from Matthew 3. In Matthew 3, we see how John the Baptist is the Elijah they spoke of who comes in advance to prepare people for the coming of Jesus. We see how John the Baptist is the one that Isaiah spoke of in Isaiah 40:3 who came to prepare the way, the hearts of the people for the arrival of Jesus. In Matthew 3, John speaks to the reality that He isn’t the messiah but rather one who comes to get everyone ready for His arrival. John even humbles himself to express the degree of difference between Jesus and himself when he speaks to the baptism of water versus the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus speaks to the importance of both when He gets John to baptize Him in water. If it is good enough for Jesus then it means it is important and good enough for us to also be baptized in water. God the Father reveals Himself as Jesus comes out of the water from being baptized when He says: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
God’s Word is so powerful and never returns void! God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path! God’s Word is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. So let’s never walk away from the Word of God but spent time meditating on it so that we can walk out our lives in alignment to His will, His purpose, and His plans for us.
Reading through today’s devotional, here are some takeaways for me: (check out the devotional on your own too to see if you pick up other nuggets, and please share your findings in the comments)
- Ever gotten caught up in something and discovered there was no answer?
- Ever spent time investing in something that ended in a sense of feeling incomplete?
- Don’t you prefer when there is an actual conclusion to the story?
- Don’t you prefer when there is a way as Paul Harvey used to put it “the rest of the story”?
- Imagine being the Jews in the Old Testament with all the messages and prophecy and yet no Jesus.
- We see in today’s verses from Malachi how it gives the proposition of a blessing and a curse.
- We see in today’s verses from Malachi how it gives us a declaration that Elijah’s preaching will either bring the hearts of the fathers back to their children or God will strike the land with a curse, and then the Old Testament ends.
- Can you say cliffhanger?
- What is going through everyone’s mind over the next 400 years?
- Imagine the last words spoken being “Dad is either coming home to love you or you’re going to live in a curse”.
- How woud that make you feel? How would deal with the waiting? How would you deal with the relationships in your life?
- Ever had to live out that tension in your own life? Wondering if dad is coming home?
- Ever had to live out that suspense in your own life? Wondering if dad is coming your event or activity?
- Ever had to live out that worry in your own life? Wondering if dad is going to show up for this important life event?
- Do you wait for and hope for a message from your dad? A text? A call? An email? A birthday card? Something to let you know he cares and you matter to him?
- Did it feel like a curse during the times of tension, of suspense, of worry, and even having to wait or hope?
- No matter where you are at today, let’s grab hold of God’s Word, God’s truth, and that He is our Heavenly Father.
- Let’s not be the dads who cause such tension in our kids lives.
- Let’s not be the dads who cause such suspense in our kids lives.
- Let’s not be the dads who cause such worry in our kids lives.
- Let’s be the dads that God created us to be so that our kids can walk out their lives in faith, trusting in God, and knowing that not only does their Heavenly Father love them but so does their earthly father and that they really matter to us.
- Can you imagine the reality and realization of the end of the 400 years of silence when John the Baptist showed up?
- Can you imagine the feeling that would have been taking place when John the Baptist announced the arrival of Jesus?
- The Good News, the Gospel of Jesus breaks the curse and fills the void!
- The Good News, the Gospel of Jesus answers the curse of the fatherlessness!
- The Good News, the Gospel of Jesus redeems the love we long for from dad.
- We need to find our life in Christ first!
- We need to fill the emptiness of waiting with Jesus!
- We need to fill the emptiness of wondering with Jesus!
- We need to fill the emptiness of hoping with the redemptive power of Jesus!
- Jesus is our spiritual Dad.
- So let’s model our lives after Him so that we can Be The Dads God created and desires for us to be for our kids, our wives, and our world!