Matthew 18:2-5 (NLT) He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”
Naturally, since today is Father’s Day, my mind is on the Father. Of course, my earthly dad comes to mind. I am thankful to have one who loves Jesus. But this morning, for these moments before life gets busy all over again, I have the opportunity to sit in the Presence of My Heavenly Father and bask in His Love. He is a Good Father. I know we sing that the Lord is good. We tell others that He is, too. But do we really know and understand the Goodness and Greatness of Grace and the privilege that we have to know God personally and intimately.
When I was very young my parents divorced and I lived with my mom. On the weekends, I would go to my grandparent’s house. It was my favorite place on earth. In the back of their home was a whitewashed garage, on one side was my granddad’s ice cream truck. Yes, after he “retired, my grandpa drove up and down the beach selling ice cream. I was a lucky kid. On the other side, there was a makeshift apartment made to help their only son through a rough spot. My dad wasn’t always there when we visited. I would sneak back to the little room that he stayed in and sit in the middle of his bed smelling his pillow. I just wanted to be with my dad. I wanted to feel his presence. The sad story of divorce has a happy ending as my dad found a wonderful bonus mom for me. They have been together the majority of my life.
This story is shared to talk about presence. Presence is all that there is to connect with our Heavenly Father for now as we live this life in preparation to be with Him forever. Faith binds us to hope so we know what we are after. Prayer is how we communicate with God. His Spirit helps us to see through the darkness and walk in the Light of His Love. But the thing that we desire above all things is to be with our Father and to live in His Presence. As a human child, I longed to spend time with my natural father. How much more as a Child of God do I long to be with Him! If you enter this place called Presence just one time, you will only want to find it more and more.
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” What does this mean? Should we shirk the responsibilities of life and live in a church building somewhere? Do we give up our jobs to carry a cross around the world and back? Do we stop caring for ourselves waiting for others to do it for us? No. Children represent total trust and dependency. We are to love, trust, and honor God as our Father.
Ephesians 6:1-3 (NIV) Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
God set forth certain principles for children. They are to obey their parents in the Lord for this is right. Honor your mother and father which is the first commandment with a promise. So that it may go well with you. Obedience, honor and respect for our parents is a commandment by God. I know as a parent that I am not always worthy of such things in my imperfection nevertheless the Lord still requires it of my children. In exchange for obedience regardless of my behavior, my children are blessed with a promise.
Obedience is essential for maintaining parental relationships. However, there are many rebellious people in the world. Parents don’t always set forth good examples. We have countless kids in our church whose parents drop them off at the door. These children have outgrown their parents spiritually but the Lord still requires them to respect them. Colossians 3:20 goes one step further saying, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Like a child, obedience is essential in establishing a place in God’s Presence as His Child.
Rebellion causes dissension in any relationship. Two parties cannot walk together going their own way. Jesus invites us to accept His Yoke of salvation. His Invitation is simple. Are you weary? Burdened? I will give you rest. My Yoke is easy. Partnering our life with Christ allows us access into the Presence of God. We must remain in the Lord to walk into the innermost chamber of God’s Presence. This cannot be accomplished our way. There is only One Way. His Name is Jesus. Any other attempt would be an act of rebellion because it is contrary to God’s Way? The road is narrow. Repentance is turning our life back to the Lord. It is maybe better explained turning our life “over” to the Lord. This is the act of obedience that brings back to a child-like state of total dependency and trust in the Lord.
I Peter 2:2-3 (NIV) Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Hebrews 5:12-14 (NIV) In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
In Proverbs 23:24 it says that “the father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.” Challenged to enter the Kingdom as children does not exempt us from spiritual maturity. Immaturity does not honor our father. It means that he failed at his task to train us up the way that we should go naturally and spiritually. Some may even use it as an excuse, well God knows my heart. Bless your little heart, He does! He knows the plan and purpose put there because He wrote every single word. The Lord knows your potential because He already provided everything you need to fulfill it. He also gave you His Spirit so there would be an answer to every question, calm in the storm, certainty in the selection and motivation to move in the right direction. You are fully equipped lacking no good thing. He is a good father remember, He gave His All just for you.
Honoring our father’s instruction, teaching and guidance increases our knowledge. Once applied to our life, it becomes wisdom. It feeds and nourishes our soul. It is in such a process that we grow. Let’s face it. Our parents always become a whole lot smarter as we mature. So it is with our Heavenly Father as He is able to work all the details of our life into the Goodness that is promised. (Romans 8:28) This cannot happen outside of respect, obedience, dependency and trust like a child.
Matthew 7:8-11 (NIV) For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
When I was a little girl, I pursued my father’s presence. He was not with me at that time. I did not really know how to reach him as a little kid. But now I know exactly where he is and how to get in touch with him. I also have learned to pursue my Heavenly Father’s Presence. In fact, in coming to know God more has improved my relationship with my natural dad. Why? My expectation is met in God through His Son, Jesus Christ. His Spirit fills every void and lack in my life. This enables my earthly relationships to be filled with love, grace and mercy because I am complete in Christ. No longer needing or wanting anything less than God’s Best allows me to give love and acceptance effortlessly to others. I depend on God for everything I need.
When my children come home, they do not have to knock on the door but enter boldly. Most of the time, they go look in the fridge even when they are not hungry. They have a relationship with us. They know that they are always welcome. They know we love to see them. They call us when they need us. They call us just to talk. We are bound together by love. This is exactly the relationship that God desires. He wants to be our Father. (Jeremiah 3:19) He longs for His Children. It is time to give up our wandering, prodigal ways and answer the call. Even when that call requires change, discomfort or challenges us, we must pursue Him at all costs. Why? He is a Good Father. He loves us. His Kingdom holds treasures of inheritance for His Children and He invites us to come boldly like a child.
I John 3:1-2 (NIV) See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.