Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Embracing God as a Father, Day 1

Leslie Basham: Mary Kassian says you can embrace God as your Father no matter how much hurt an earthly father has caused.

Mary Kassian: Father is not an abstract word. How tragic and how very, very foolish and arrogant of us to shy away from this name because some human males have been a poor example of what fatherhood is.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of True Woman 101, for Wednesday, June 14.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: It seems that in every language and in every culture the first words that every little one learns to speak is the word “papa” or “daddy.” The same is true in the family of God. In fact, Jesus taught us that when we pray we should say, “Our Father.” Now I know that for some women that concept of addressing God as Father is easier than for others.

There are some women who find it extremely difficult to think of God as their Father perhaps because of a challenge or a breakdown that they’ve had in their relationship with their earthly father. This week, leading up to Father’s Day, I wanted you to hear a message by Mary Kassian, who is a dear friend of mine and no stranger to Revive Our Hearts. God has given Mary some rich insights from the Scripture about how we as women can relate to God as Father.

When I first heard this message, I knew it would touch a tender and responsive chord with the hearts of many women because all of us want to know how we can better have an intimate relationship with our heavenly Father, regardless of what kind of earthly father we may have had.

Now let's listen as Mary Kassian helps us embrace God as a loving heavenly Father.

Mary Kassian: Tonight forty percent of children in the United States and in North America are going to go to sleep in homes in which their fathers do not live. Forty percent. Now does every child need a father? Increasingly, our society's answer to that question is "no" or "not necessarily." But the Bible's answer to that question is a resounding "yes." Every child needs a father. Every child needs a father. Every grown child needs a father. Most astonishing of all, the Bible tells us that through Jesus every person has a Father. They have a perfect Father, the father of your dreams when you come into the family of God.

So the challenge today—what we're going to be talking about today—is women relating to God as Father. The challenge for us and the challenge for the women we minister to, particularly in this society, is to understand the Fatherhood of God and understand who we are in relation to God in that way.

First John 3:1 is what we're basing our talk on today: "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" That is what we are. That is what we are!

There are four truths that every woman needs to realize—four truths that you need to realize, four truths that you need to teach the women that you're ministering to, four truths that we need to teach our daughters as they are growing up. The first truth is this: God wants to relate to women as Father. God wants to relate to every one of us as Father.

God is our Father. Now that doesn't mean that God is male. In fact, in the Bible there are lots of beautiful, beautiful analogies about the warm, nurturing, kind, caring aspects of God. He carried the nation Israel in His womb. He cries out like a woman in labor. He birthed the Jewish nation. He has compassion on us like a mother has compassion for the baby at her breast. He nurses and nurtures us. He comforts as a mother comforts.

So why don't we call God "mother"? Why do we call God "Father"? That's a debate that is raging in many churches. It’s a debate that’s beginning to surface. And many, many denominations say there’s these beautiful analogies in Scripture about God mothering us. So why do we call God “Father”? Why is it important for us to understand the Fatherhood of God?

The first truth is that God wants to relate to us as Father. The first reason that we call God "Father" is a very obvious reason. It's almost too simple to be explained. It's because that's what He wants to be called. Throughout Scripture, He reveals Himself as Father.

The first person of the Trinity has many names. Holy, Holy, Holy. God Almighty. The Most Holy One. But when Jesus came to tear away the veil and to open up the mystery to us of who God was, He revealed God as Father. In fact, He referred to God as Father more than any other name. The the word that He used for God was “Father.” There are lots of other words, lots of other names for God; but "Father" is a very, very concrete word.

All of us have a clear idea of what "father" means or should mean. I don't know about you, but it's a little bit different from the other names of God: the Holy, Holy, Holy or Almighty One or Rock. Those are more conceptual names. They're very important names because they teach us about the character of God. But they're much more conceptual. They're not as concrete and personal.

"Father" is a very, very, very personal name. It indicates a personal being. That's reason number two. The term "father" indicates a personal being. This is astounding. The implications of this are incredible. Really, when you think about it, the implications are astonishing. God says, "I'm your Father." What that means is that God is someone we can get to know. It means that He is a personal being—someone we can bump up against in real flesh and blood, someone we can interact with and someone perhaps even that we can become close and intimate and personal with.

The third reason is that it is the term that best describes His relationship. Second Corinthans 6:16–18: "God has said of you, 'I will live in you and walk among you . . . and I will be your God and you shall be My people. I will welcome you and will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and my daughters.’” 

Father is the name that God has chosen to best describe the relationship of a supremely personal being to His Son and to His children. "Father" is a Christian name for God. It is the name that sets Christianity apart from every other religion. Other religions have a great almighty god and an untouchable spirit, or the great metaphysical aura, the great mystic thing that binds the universe together. Some religions have a god who is far and almighty. But Christianity is the only religion that has a Father who gave His Son so that we can become children. It’s very, very personal. Very, very intimate.

He relates to us as father. He doesn't relate to us as father/mother. That would be hard for me conceptually as well, because I don't have a father/mother. I have a father and a mother. How my father fathers me is different than what I think about a mother mothering me. So God has in His wisdom—He is not male. He supercedes and transcends sexuality and masculinity and femininity. But in His wisdom He has chosen the best term to describe who He is. He has given us the earthly example of family and marriage, husband, wife, father—to tell us about Him.

Now what do you think of when you think of the word "father"? I know what I think of. I grew up in a family. I have five brothers. I'm a carpenter's daughter. My dad worked with his hands. So when I think of the word "father," I think of sitting perched up on the workbench and the smell of wood and watching my dad's big hands build things.

I think of the little, white doll cradle with the heart-shaped handles and the white doweling that I got for my sixth birthday that he made me. I think of growing older as a teenage girl and sneaking out of the house when I shouldn't have and coming back at 1:00 in the morning and trying to sneak back in and getting stuck half in and half out of the window, thinking, What should I do? and finally deciding the course of least pain here would be to call for my dad to help. Some pain involved there, but . . .

I think of the smell of Lysol because my mom was never good when us kids were sick. She would run the other direction. My dad would clean it up. I think of a nursemaid. I think of putting Band-Aids on my knees. I think of all those things when I think of the word "father."

I think of a man with tears in his eyes, saying, "Mary, in Europe we don't follow the tradition of giving away the bride. Please don't ask me to give you away because it would break my heart." I think of those things.

Now, I know many of you do not have good thoughts when you think of the word "father." For many of you and for many, many women in our society, when they think of the word "father" they think of anger or abandonment or shame or disappointment. Unpredictability. Conflict. Pain.

You see, "father" is not an abstract word. How tragic and how very, very foolish and how arrogant of us to shy away from this name because some human males have been a poor example of what fatherhood is.

Jesus' whole message when He was on earth was, “Come and meet My Dad. Come and meet My Dad. See these miracles that I’m doing? My Dad does that. Hear the words that I’m speaking? I’m just telling you what My Dad told Me. See the compassion I have? That’s the compassion of the Father. The love I have for you? That’s the love that the Father has for Me. Come and look at Me. Spend some time with Me. It’s like you’re spending time with My Dad. You’re getting to know Him.” His whole message was “Come meet Dad. Come meet My Dad. If you believe in Me, He can be your Dad, too.” God sent Jesus to show them the father heart of God.

Let's take a look at some familiar verses. You know all these verses. John 17:25 and 26. I'll just read them for you. "Righteous Father, the world has never known You, but I have known You, and these disciples know that You sent Me on this mission. I have made Your very being known to them—who You are and what You do. And I continue to make it known so that Your love for Me might be in them, exactly as I am in them" (paraphrased).

You see, Jesus makes known who the Father is and what the Father does. That's what Jesus came to reveal to us—who the Father is and what the Father does.

John 14:6: "Jesus said to them, 'I am the way, the truth and the life.'" Oh, there's another part to that verse. What does it say? "No one comes to the Father except through Me." So when you're coming to Jesus, when you're introducing women to Jesus, where are you taking them? To the Father. We're missing that so often because of the "patriarchal misogynistic society." Right? We're afraid of saying, "I'm taking you to the Father. You're going to meet the Father and you're going to understand a father's love."

John 17:3: "This is eternal life, that they may know You." Now isn't this interesting? This is Jesus praying. In this statement, John 17:3, He is encapsulating what it means to be a Christian, what it means to have eternal life. Jesus is praying; and He says, "This is eternal life.” In a nutshell, Christianity 101, basic definition number one: “This is eternal life: Father, that they may know You and the Son that You have sent."

That's eternal life. So if we are not loving the truth and knowing the truth and preaching the truth about the fatherhood of God, we're missing Christianity 101. We're not getting it, and we're not transmitting it to our daughters and our sons.

First John 1:3: "Truly, our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus" (KJV). Our fellowship. What does fellowship mean? Fellowship means closeness. It means familiarity. It means getting to know someone. Our fellowship. You see, we are brought into a family relationship. So many of us think that Christianity is a lifestyle and a way of living—and it certainly involves that—but at its heart, Christianity is a relationship. It's a relationship.

What does it mean to be in a relationship with the Father? According to Jesus' prayer, it means first that we know Him; and second, that we experience His love. Just think about the person that you know the best in life. I think of my husband, Brent. We've been married for eighteen years. I've gotten to know him, and he is my best friend.

I know that he won't wear a green shirt. If I put green peppers in anything, he'll smell it from a mile away and will walk the other direction. I know when he is troubled. I hear it in his voice. I see it in his face. I see the way he walks. I know him, and I'm getting to know him even more. He surprises me. I go, "Whew! Do I know you really?" It's an ongoing process, an ever-deepening thing. I know what makes him happy. I know what makes him sad.

Are you like that with the Father? Do you know your Father? Do you really know your heavenly Father? Do you experience His love? John 17:23. This again is Jesus praying. He is pouring out His heart to the Father. He's praying, "Oh, Father, I pray that these people may know that You love Me."

In verse 26 Jesus prays and says, "I have made You known to them and will continue to make You known." Then He gives the reason. Why? "So that the love that You have for Me may be in them."

So this is an incredible concept. When you become a Christian, the full force of the Father's love that the Father has for His Son Jesus, the full force of that Father heart is directed towards you. The full force of that. Doesn't that blow you away? That blows me away. The love that the Father has for His Son Jesus, He has that same love for Mary. He has that same love for me.

God has put a father longing in each one of our hearts. When we become Christians we are adopted into a family relationship. Now the Jewish adoption process is really, really interesting because a Jewish family would find a child they wanted to adopt and then they would pay off that child’s debts. Then they would take that child and sever all the relationships that child had and take them into a new family, a new relationship, and give them a new name.

It is a picture of what has happened to us when we come into the family of God. God pays off all our debts, severs our ties to sin and brings us into His family and gives us His name. And He gives us the Holy Spirit which is the proof of an adoption. In Jewish society there needed to be multiple witnesses for an adoption to be legal. And we are told in the Bible that the Holy Spirit is the witness.

What type of witness is the Holy Spirit? This is really interesting. The Holy Spirit is also called the Spirit of sonship—the Spirit of sonship. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of adoption. He is also called the Spirit of your Father in Matthew 10:20.

It's this Spirit—the Spirit of adoption, the Spirit of sonship, the Spirit of your Father—that lives right in our hearts when we become Christians. It's this Spirit that calls us and drives us to intimacy with the Father. It's this Spirit in our hearts that is calling out, "Abba, Father! Abba, Father!"

Romans 8:15–16: "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father!' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (NKJV).

Galatians 4:6: "Because you are His sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!'"

Did you catch the first phrase of Romans 8:15? "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage to fear." Isn't that amazing? Some of us (and many, many women and many of you in this room) are so afraid of God the Father. That is the thing I encounter the most in ministry to women, just a fear.

"I am so afraid that He is going to belittle me, just like my father did. I am so afraid He is going to reject me, just like my father did. I'm so afraid that He is going to yell at me, just like my father did. I'm so afraid that His love for me is conditional, that I need to perform and jump through hoops, just like I had to do for my dad."

That's not the Holy Spirit in you talking. God didn't give us a spirit of fear. The Holy Spirit in your heart cries out, "Abba, Father!" The verb cry is really interesting. It's a verb. It's ongoing. It's the spirit in your heart that is even now crying out, "Abba, Father!" It's longing for connection. It's longing for that intimacy. It's longing to become one. It's longing for closeness.

Some of you may wonder why you feel so much frustration, why you're living the Christian life and going through all the motions but there is no joy. Certainly we go through wilderness times. We do. But it could be that the Spirit within you is crying out, "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" because that is what the Spirit does. And you are too busy to listen.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Mary Kassian has been showing us what it means for God to be our Father. And today’s program is just a taste of the kind of teaching you’ll hear from Mary at the Revive '17 conference.

The theme of this year’s Revive conference is Women Mentoring Women the Titus 2 way. Mary will be speaking there along with the host of Revive Our Hearts, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. You’ll also hear from Blair Linne, Damaris Carbaugh, Dannah Gresh and others. The bad news is . . . Revive '17 is sold out. The good news is . . . you have plenty of time to put together a group and make plans to watch the livestream of the conference together. You can see the whole event from your home or your church. Revive '17 will take place September 29–30. When you visit ReviveOurHearts.com, you can sign up for livestream updates as we get closer to the event. Click on events, then Revive '17, then livestream.

Tomorrow, we’ll hear more from Mary Kassian. She’ll explain why everyone has a longing for a loving Father. Please be back tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts. 

To close our time, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will tell us something she learned from her father. He was a businessman who had a heart for building God’s kingdom. And in that role, he faced a lot of challenges.

Nancy: I have to say that in watching my dad's response to pressure and trials that I learned more about the sovereignty of God than I've ever learned from a book or a classroom because I saw it lived out in his life. As I was getting ready to come in to the studio and record and I was working through email and had a lot of projects and things demanding my attention and I had not taken time first to get into the Word and to seek the Lord, the thought came to my mind of my dad, who started every single day, by giving to God the first hour of every day in the Word and in prayer.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to connect you with your true Father. It's an outreach of Life Action Ministries. 

All Scripture is taken from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.

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