Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Embracing God as a Father, Day 3

Leslie Basham: Here’s Mary Kassian.

Mary Kassian: Our heavenly Father doesn’t give up on us. He comes and looks for us when no one else would, when everyone else would have given up.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Holiness: The Heart God Purifies, for Friday, June 16, 2017.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: As you know, this coming Sunday is Father’s Day, and for those of you who do have a father here on this earth, I hope that you’re preparing to express honor in a special way.

Your dad may or may not have been the greatest dad in the world, but God promises a blessing to us when we honor our father and our mother.

Over the last couple of days, we’ve been listening to a message by Mary Kassian on relating to God as our heavenly Father. We’ll get back to that important message in just a minute, but first, we asked Mary what she appreciates about her earthly father. I think her answer is an example of the kind of honor you may want to show to your dad this weekend.

Mary: When I think of my dad, I think of his hands. My dad has massive, massive hands. He was a carpenter, and then went into construction as a construction superintendent—a very hard worker.

But those hands . . . those hands could do anything. They could fix anything that was broken; if it was bent those hands could make it straight. I can still remember sitting on my dad’s workbench, and to this day, when I smell the smell of freshly cut wood, I just breathe it in and say, “Ooh, that’s my dad’s smell"—that smell of building and constructing and making something.

Even as I grew into being an adult, whenever there was something we got stuck on . . . Whenever there was something Brent and I couldn’t figure out for our house, we would phone my dad and Dad would be over in a breath, fixing it.

He could fix anything, he could put anything together, anything that was busted, anything that didn’t work. It didn’t matter what it was—electrical, plumbing—my dad could do it. I love that, because that really taught me a lot about the father heart of God.

It really demonstrated to me what God is like, not only in the physical realm, but also in the spiritual realm. My dad was very much like that, that if it’s broken and you take it to him, he can fix it; if it’s bent, he wanted to help make it straight.

When I think of my dad and that constancy, it’s like a rock-solid foundation; it’s like an anchor. The boat isn’t going to drift very far when Dad is there, because he’s the anchor, and that’s just such an image also of the father heart of God: His care and sacrifice, His love for His family, His faithfulness, His constancy.

God is always at work for you. God always has a heart for you and is just so, so trustworthy. So I appreciate my dad for that, and when I think of the hands of God and what they must look like, I think of my dad’s hands.

I say, “Dad, you did well, you led me to the throne of God. You showed me all the good things about what a father's heart looks like, and about what God our Father looks like.”

Nancy:  “How great is the love that the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.” And that is what we are. That amazing verse comes to us from 1 John 3:1.

We’ve been listening this week to a message from Mary Kassian. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found this message so encouraging, as we’ve been reminded that God wants to relate to us as Father. Now here’s Mary with the final part of that message.

Mary: I live in the city of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. If you think of the western United States—Montana—and you go straight north, that’s where I live. When I left, there was still about two-and-a-half feet of snow.

Edmonton is a beautiful city. It has the longest extended parkway system in North America. You can get on a bike and ride for miles and miles and miles, and we often do that as a family; we ride together.

There is a river that runs through Edmonton, a huge river, and into this river runs a number of smaller creeks and streams, tributaries, throughout the city. I actually grew up right across the street from one of these creeks. The thing about ice and cold places is that you learn to live in the cold, and you learn to understand ice.

Now, I’m sure not  one of you have a clue to what I’m talking about, so I’m going to give you an “ice lesson.” Our river freezes in the wintertime, to a depth of about four or five feet, sometimes some places up to ten feet deep. The streams will also freeze, and we’ll all get our skates and go skating in the wintertime.

But the thing about ice is that it freezes from the top down, so there’s a surface that forms on the top first, and then it gets deeper and deeper and deeper, and then it melts from the bottom up. So you don’t know how thick the ice is, really, by looking at the surface.

This is what’s very dangerous. Parents always warn their children in the summertime, right about this time of year, “You can no longer go skating on the ice, because you might fall through.” It could be four feet thick, it could be two inches thick.

A number of years ago, in that same area where I grew up, there were three boys who went down to play in the ravine, Hosiah, Mark, and Mark’s little brother: two eleven-year-old boys and one six-year-old boy.

And, horror of all horrors, the ice cracked. They had been warned not to go there, but they went to play anyway. And one eleven-year-old boy and the six-year-old boy fell in and started to be taken away by the stream.

The one boy, Mark, managed to reach out and pull his six-year-old brother out, but Hosiah disappeared and went down under the ice toward the river. The other two boys were so terrified that they ran home, and they didn’t say word.

So Hosiah’s mother waited and waited, and Hosiah didn’t come home for supper. She phoned his father—they were divorced—and tried to find out if Hosiah was over there, and he wasn’t. Then they called the police, but there was no immediate panic because Hosiah had run away before.

The next morning the search became serious. They went to the school and began to question his classmates, at which time his friend, Mark, broke down and told the whole story. They went down to the ravine and began to look, but it really was a useless kind of thing.

They would auger a hole, and go through the ice and look with mirrors, but there are like two miles of creek between where he had fallen in and the river. So the police after a day of searching said, “You know, we can’t search anymore. This is futile. His body will wash up at the grate in the river when the ice melts in about three weeks, and we will find him then.”

But that was not good enough for Hosiah’s father. Hosiah’s father went and rented whatever equipment he could find. He got augers and mirrors and he went down to the riverbank and began to search for his son.

He searched and he searched and searched. He would not give up. Night came—he wouldn’t give up. You know what it’s like working with frozen freezer-food. Your hands get raw, cold, cut. He would not give up, and this aroused the compassion of a whole city.

There began to be volunteers that came and began to help him with his search. Day after day went by. Hosiah’s father kept looking until on the eighth day they spotted a jacket and spotted the body of the little boy. He never knew how much his father loved him . . . he never knew.

And isn’t it the same way with us? So often we go where we’re not supposed to go, we play where we’re not supposed to play. We fall in through the ice, and all of the sudden we find ourselves in dangerous water, even to the point of being swept and carried away by the current . . . even to the point of feeling there’s no life left.

Our heavenly Father, our perfect heavenly Father, even more than Hosiah’s father, doesn’t give up on us. He comes and looks for us when no one else would, when everyone else would have given up hope a long time ago.

He would claw until His own hands bled, and in a sense they did, did they not, through His own son, Christ? He would claw to find us, and then when He finds us He would take us and wrap us and cuddle us. But then, unlike Hosiah, He leans over and breathes new life into our spirits, and He says to us, “I love you. Don’t run from Me.”

That is the message of the gospel, and the message of hope that we need to be carrying to a generation of women who are broken. They are broken in their relationships with their husbands, they’ve been disappointed by men in their lives, their fathers have abandoned them.

But this is the message of life, it is a message of hope, and it is a message that they desperately, desperately need to hear. I think sometimes even we can become numb in our spirits and cold and frozen that way.

I’d frozen my feet really badly one time. You can actually take a barbell and drop it on your feet when they’re frozen, and you won’t feel a thing. And many of us in the church are like that. We are numb, deadened, and cold to the love of the Father. He is wanting to breathe back life into our relationships, into our hearts, so we can be salt and life and hope, so we can say to women, “Come with me . . . I want you to meet my Dad.”

Heavenly Father, I pray for Your daughters here. I know that many of them have struggled in their relationships with their earthly fathers. I know there are women here who do not feel loved, who do not feel worthy, who feel that they need to perform, who feel perhaps that You love everybody else and not them.

Lord, there are women here whom You are drawing closer to Your heart, and You want them to be able to forgive their own earthly fathers so they can enjoy a deeper relationship with You. Holy Spirit, I pray that You will come and convict each one of us of what we need to do to draw closer to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Nancy: That’s Mary Kassian reminding us that the message of the gospel is a message of hope, a hope that we need to take to the world today, a message that says, “Come with me to my Father’s house.”

As Mary talked about becoming numb and cold to the love of our heavenly Father, the thought may have crossed your mind, “I don’t know that I’ve ever known the love of my heavenly Father.”

Can I say to you today that God wants to be your heavenly Father, but contrary to what some might say today, God is not everyone’s Father. The Scripture tells us that no one comes to the Father’s house except through Jesus Christ. As we’ve been hearing all week long, that’s why God sent His Son, Jesus, to show us the heart of the Father, and to provide a way through which we could get to the Father.

So if you’ve never come into that personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ, let me encourage you, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing right now, to pause and say, “Oh, God, I want You to be my heavenly Father. I do trust in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I want you to come into my life to save me, to change me, and to make me Your child.”

You may have had a relationship with God as your heavenly Father for perhaps years, but maybe you’ve realized as you listened to Mary’s message today that your heart has become numb and cold to the love of your heavenly Father.

It’s not too late to return to Him. Maybe you need to do what I’ve had to do from time to time over the years, to say, “Oh, Lord, I’ve gone so far from You. I’ve wandered down onto that ice. I’ve slipped, I’ve fallen, and I've backslidden. I need you to come and restore me. I need You to come and breathe new spiritual life into me.”  

As you ask Him to do that, then begin to get into His Word. You’ll find that your spiritual life is beginning to be revived. It will be resuscitated.

Then just a final reminder that I picked up from Mary’s message is the importance that we take this message to those who don’t have a relationship with God as their Father. That’s one of the reasons God has left us here on this earth . . . not only so that we can enjoy our own relationship with God as our Father, but also so we can reach out to others, take them by the hand and say, “Come with me, let me introduce you to your heavenly Father.”

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. We’ve been listening to Mary Kassian’s message Embracing God as Father. If you missed any of it, visit ReviveOurHearts.com. At the website you can listen to the audio, read the transcript, or order the CD.

Mary will be joining us at the Revive '17 conference coming September 29–30. She and Nancy will speaking, along with Susan Hunt, Betsy Goméz, Dannah Gresh, and many others. Now the conference is sold out, so I’m inviting you to organize your own Revive '17 event! Get a group of ladies together in your church or in your home and watch the livestream of the conference together. Again, it’s coming September 29–30. For details, visit ReviveOurHearts.com. You’ll find a tab there marked “events.”

As we prepare for Father’s Day this Sunday, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is back to tell us some of what she learned from her father.

Nancy: I'm so thankful for the blessing of having had a dad who walked with the Lord from the time that he came to know the Lord himself as a young man, and who, as he raised our family, demonstrated to us so many aspects of the Father heart of God.

My dad has been with the Lord since 1979. In fact, he had a heart attack and died instantly on the weekend of my twenty-first birthday. Some of you have heard me share about this before; but at the time, my mother was forty years old and I was the oldest of seven children, ages eight–twenty-one. Needless to say, at that point, we had a great need of God's mercy and grace in our lives.

It's been a beautiful thing over these years to see how God really does fulfill His promise to be a Father to the fatherless. But it is also such a blessing to remember the name and the heritage and the life of a godly father, a man who walked with God . . . not perfectly. He would have been the first to tell you that, and certainly we knew in our family that we didn't have a perfect dad. But we all looked back, and we thanked the Lord for a dad who really did show us so much of God's heart.

I think, for example, of that verse in Psalm 103 that says, "As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him."

I can still remember that time when I was just out of college, and I had just broken off a relationship with a young man that I had been dating and although we both agreed that this was God's will, it was still a pretty emotional time for me. I remember calling my dad, who was in a different state, and telling him what had just happened. And I'll never forget him saying, "Honey, do you want me to come down there and be with you?" I sensed at that point what I had through all of my growing up years and that is the compassionate, caring, tender heart of a father. In experiencing that love from my dad, I came to know something more of the compassionate, tender, loving heart of God, who cares for His children even more than an earthly father possibly could.

Then I think about other qualities in the life of my dad. I think of his faithfulness to my mother, and his commitment to the permanence of marriage. It's not that they didn't have their issues and their differences at times and their struggles in their marriage as every married couple does. But we always knew that our parents were committed to each other. My dad so often stressed that marriage is a vow of permanence, and he reflected, in that way, the covenant-keeping heart of God.

Then I think of him as a hard worker and a good provider. I think of my dad as not wasting time. It's for that reason that we didn't take a newspaper in our family, and we didn't have a television—believe it or not. In those days, that was very unusual; but he was so concerned that we would maximize the short time that God had given us here on earth to do the will of God. So he worked hard and tried to use the time God gave him to the best possible advantage.

In fact, he was a man who was always living and thinking in light of eternity, thinking about what it would be like when he faced the Lord, and what he would have to offer the Lord when he stood before Him at the Judgment Seat. So his values were eternal. He loved to give financially to the Lord's work. In fact, he believed you just couldn't out-give God. And so in every area of life—his financial practices, his use of time, his business practices—he's a man who took God seriously.

I'm so thankful that Art DeMoss was actively involved in providing spiritual leadership for our family. I think of that verse in 1 Thessalonians chapter 2 where the apostle Paul says to the Thessalonians, "You know that we dealt with each of you, as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory." What a picture that is of a godly father. Paul says that a father deals with his own children by encouraging them, by comforting them, and by urging them to live lives worthy of God.

I can think of so many times when, either one-on-one or corporately as a family, my dad would gather us together and read the Scripture to us, talk to us about the ways of God, talk to us about how to apply God's truth to everyday real life circumstances and situations. Now, I don't want to leave the impression that life in the DeMoss household was one, twenty-four-hour-a-day, round-the-clock devotional time or church service. That certainly wasn't true. We were a very active family. Let me just say we're a big Greek family—we all like to talk and debate and often would interrupt each other.

There were times, around meal times in particular—I can think of this—when there was a lot of chaos in our home. But my dad knew how to cut through the noise, cut through the chaos, and call our hearts and our attention back to the Word and the ways of God. He wanted us to follow Christ with all our hearts, to love Him, to serve Him, to obey Him, and to take Him seriously in our own lives, to live our lives in the light of eternity, as he was seeking to do himself.

Now, he also knew that part of a dad's role is discipline. My dad was committed to correct us, to instruct us when we would get off the path. And there again, I think of a passage in Hebrews chapter 12, where the writer says,

We have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they, that is our earthly fathers, disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them. But God disciplines us for our good that we may share his holiness. 

In my father's commitment, and my mom's as well, to make sure that we were living lives that were under the authority of Scripture and disciplining and correcting us when that was not the case, they were really teaching us about the ways of our heavenly Father who disciplines us when we need it for our own good, so that we can be partakers, as the Scripture says, of God's holiness.

Something else about my dad that had an incredible impact on my life was watching him walk through seasons of stress and difficulty in our family and in his business life with a heart that never stopped trusting that God was in control, and God knew what He was doing. Whether it was health issues in our family or financial loss—actually financial disaster at some points. I can remember (during my high school years) seeing my dad under intense pressure and, at times, intense opposition in the workplace and watching him still have a peace and a joy and confidence in the Lord that surpassed whatever was going on around him.

So as we approach this Father's Day, I just want to say, from a daughter's heart, how very thankful I am for the example, the legacy, the life of a dad who walked with God and who led his family to walk with God. Could I encourage any dads who may be listening to us today, regardless of how well or how poorly you feel that you have parented your children, today is a fresh day. There is fresh grace. As you seek the Lord, by God's grace, your children will one day be able to rise up and thank the Lord for the legacy and the heritage that you left to them.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you thrive in Christ. It's an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

 

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