Devotional: Our Father
When we open our Bibles to read, we’re never alone. The Holy Spirit is here to helps us, to make the Word of God alive, stir our hearts, transform us and redirect our lives, all for the glory of Christ (John 16:14).
Here are some guidelines to help reading the Bible:
Read the text until you can say what it says in your own words
Ask questions to help you see more in the text:
- Start with the background to get into the world of the original readers
- Who wrote this?
- When and why did they write this?
- What is the main aim/theme of the book (letter, story)
- What is the genre (is it a story, poetry, wisdom, apocalyptic) and how does it influence the reading of the text?
- What are the main arguments, themes or images used? (hint look at the verbs in the passage)
- How does it relate to the next book or letter? (bigger context)
Ask the question:
- What does this passage mean in my life today?
- How do I respond?
- How do I apply Scripture in my life now?
Meditate on the Scripture you read, pray and reflect. Worship the Lord and ask Him to reveal His truth to you.
The word “Father” in Greek is pater, from a root word meaning nourisher, upholder, protector and provider.
This concept of God as our father was introduced by Jesus and is largely the subject of the New Testament revelation.
We live in a broken society where many people come from homes ravaged by divorce, abuse and brokenness. The post-modern world has lost its basic family values and people are desperate for the love of God. Sadly, we see the foundation of society, which is the family unit, crumbling and falling apart. We truly live in a fatherless generation.
Every human has a need to be accepted, affirmed and have a sense of belonging. Surrendering and trusting our Father is essential in knowing His heart and the love He has for us. God desires to embrace us and draw us into His family as His children.
This devotional is based on the book “Our Father” by Sias le Roux. It’s aimed at helping us understand and connect with our Father as our Dad and the head of our family. It describes the heart, nature, character and work of our Father as well as growing up as a child in His House and becoming a father to others.
Join us as we embark on this road of discovering the heart of our Father.
Day 1: The Unconditional Love of Our Father
It is important to know that God does not merely do things that make us feel loved – He is love! He defines what loves is in a way the world cannot. Beyond just a feeling and an emotion. His love always includes unconditional giving (John 3:16, John 15:13). Love manifests when you are in a relationship because you want to give something to that person. Lust is all about getting what you can. His love is also jealous (Exodus 34:13-14). God loves us before we are “perfect” or before we can meet His expectation and fulfil His will. We cannot earn His love. God will never stop loving us, even if we reject Him. He loved us before we did anything for Him and His love is therefore not based on anything we do, but on who He is. God truly loves you and me.
- What do you understand under the term “unconditional”?
The word used in the Greek for unconditional love is agape. The Longman dictionary defines unconditional as “not limited by or depending on any conditions”.
- How can we know that our Father loves us? (1 John 3:1, John 15:16)
- Think back on people or circumstances where were you motivated by fear to do certain things? Describe what happened.
- In what areas are you motivated by fear in your relationship with God?
- His love always includes unconditional giving. What is the difference between love and lust?
- Why can we love God? (1 John 4:19)
- Do we need to be perfect to earn God’s love? (Romans 5:8)
- List some characteristic traits of love that stand out for you in 1 Corinthians 13:4 – 9, 13
- Do you feel loved by the people around you and by God?
Scripture to read:
- Romans 8:38 – 39
- 1 John 4:8,16 – 18
- 1 John 3,4
- 1 Peter 4:8
- Ephesians 3: 17 – 19
- Romans 13: 8 – 10
Day 2: The Affirmation and Approval of Our Father (1)
We all have a desperate need to know that we belong. As children, we have a need to hear certain words from our parents (especially from our dads). Words like “I love you” and “I am proud of your” are extremely important during our upbringing. We are made in the image of our Dad (Genesis 1:26). God wants to affirm us by saying we are “good enough” for Him and that no one comes to Him will be rejected.
- How does our Father feel about us? Let us look at Jeremiah as an example of how God feels about us (Jeremiah 1:4-5, Jeremiah 29:11 and Jeremiah 31:3)
- Do you think our Father wants to be your friend? (John 2:23, John 15:15).
- What do you think it means to have God as your friend?
Scriptures to read:
- Matthew 3:17
- Luke 9:35
- Genesis 1:26
Day 3: The Affirmation and Approval of Our Father (2)
God created the family in order for us to grow and be shaped in an environment where we can understand His love. He desired for children to grow up feeling loved, accepted and secure in their identity.
Where there is a healthy relationship between a father and a mother, a child grows up with a healthy and godly self-esteem. Such a child feels valuable, wanted and important as he or she grows up physically, emotionally and spiritually.
God’s desire if for every child to feel loved and secure. Unfortunately, many of us grow up in broken homes where we suffer hurt and rejection from our families. Many children even grow up without receiving any affection from their parents.
When children grow up with no father or a “father wound”, it may result in them
- Being angry
- Surrendering to obsessions and addictions
- Experiencing pain
- Having no sense of identity or direction
- Responding in rebellion
- Looking for love through sex, homosexuality or other sins
Our Father feels and identifies with our pain (John 11:34-36).
- Describe your family background.
- Describe the type of affirmation you received from your family.
- What “negative” labels have people placed on you?
- Take some time and bring these labels to God. Ask God to renew your mind in these areas.
Scripture to read:
- Jeremiah 31:1
- Ephesians 3:15
- Revelation 2:4
- Psalm 63:3
- 1 Corinthians 8:1
Day 4: The Wholehearted Acceptance of Our Father
Some people think God is only sin-conscious or a doomsday God. God always accepts us based on the finished work of Christ and He treats us as a new creation in Christ.
You must know that:
- God loves you – you are loved
- God accepts you – you are accepted in the beloved.
- God enjoys you – He loves to be around you.
- God affirms you – you are beautiful to Him.
- God has placed value on your life – you are worth something.
- God declares you to be competent through Jesus – you are not useless.
The message conveyed to children is that things are often more valuable than them or their relationships. Fathers will sometimes be away from home so much and then try to make up for it by buying their children things rather than spending valuable time with them. God’s purpose for every father is to play a vital role in shaping, developing and establishing the identity of his children. Unfortunately, we live in a broken world and come out of broken families. Our relationship with our earthly father will play a vital role in how we relate to God as our Father.
It is important that we know that our dads are not perfect and that in many cases they did not have good role models in their own fathers.
I once spoke to a student who seemed very angry with all people in authority. During the conversation I prayed and trusted God to show me what the real problem was. The Lord showed me that the number seven was important. Then I saw a vision of an old man walking down a corridor with a pillow in his hands. This man entered a bedroom where a young boy was sleeping. He then proceeded to put the pillow over the boy’s face. When I shared this vision with the student, he started crying uncontrollably. He confessed that his dad tried to kill him when he was seven years old. God began to heal him and he went through a process of forgiving his dad. Today, this same student is a principal of a school. God truly wants to restore us!
- Do you think there is anything you can do that will make God love and accept you more?
- Describe the type of acceptance you experienced from your earthly dad.
- Describe your dad’s relationship with his father.
- Are there some things you have to forgive your dad for? If yes, ask the Lord how you can forgive and reconcile with him.
Scripture to read:
- Ephesians 3:16-19
- Zechariah 2:8
- Hebrews 12:2
- Matthew 6:33
- Deuteronomy 32:10
Day 4: The Blessing of Our Father
How should we approach God? (Matthew 19:14, Matthew 5:8). God wants to restore our childlike innocence and purity. Children just automatically believe and trust that their dads are the best. Let us come and adore Him as little children. In order to do that we must believe that He is a good Father (Psalm 34:8, Psalm 86:5). God is loving, kind, tender-hearted, meek, patient and longsuffering toward us. What will his goodness result in? (Romans 2:4, Psalm 52:1). Many people fear God for the wrong reasons. This causes them to run away from God instead of towards Him when they have done wrong.
The definition of blessing: to be blessed means to be happy and envied or to cause to prosper (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary). God promised Abraham that He will bless all the families of the earth through him. We are all children of Abraham and can access that blessing by faith (Genesis 12:2-3).
The Jewish Bar Mitzvah
Every Jewish boy achieves adulthood when he turns thirteen, and a girl when she turns twelve. The term Bar or Bar Mitzvah means “son or daughter of commandment”. This ceremony is typically celebrated with a service and a family meal.
A blessing is said at this occasion and a child is welcomed into adulthood. Certain rights and obligations are transferred to him or her. The celebrant is generally required to make a speech, which will begin with the words “Today I am a man”. The father will also make a speech where he will bless the child and affirm his (or her) manhood (or womanhood) with words like “this is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased”. It is amazing to see that God our Father used the same words when He blessed His Son, Jesus.
The frantic pace of modern life means that many parents do not give their children enough time and attention. One of the most valuable things for a child is when parents spend quality time with him or her. God has got all the time in the world for us.
I once dreamt of a very big house with many rooms. It was the size of a palace. There was a family living in this house, but there was one big problem: They only lived in one small room at the back of the whole house. They were trapped by their own perception. I realized that this is unfortunately how many Christians live today. They do not know how to access God’s blessings.
- Do you feel that you were affirmed as a man or a womam?
- Describe your sense of self-worth. Do you feel positive or negative about yourself?
- Do you honestly think that God wants to bless you and that He has made you a blessing?
- In what ways do you believe you can be a blessing to the world around you?
Scripture to read:
- Zephaniah 3:17
- Romans 5:6-10
- Ephesians 3: 17 – 19
- Deuteronomy 28
- Romans 8:31-39
- Colossians 2:13-15
Day 5: The Desire of Our Father to Save
Who did Jesus primarily come for? (Mark 2:17, 1 Timothy 2:4). God wants everyone to be saved. He will never discriminate regardless of what you may have done wrong or how “bad” you are. Most people do not know God as a perfect Father. Jesus came to show us the heart of our Father and He represented Him in full. He showed us that God is not an old man with a big stick, just looking for a reason to smack us! (Luke 4:18 – 20, Romans 8:11,32, Hebrews 1:1-3). Why can’t the world see him? (2 Corinthians 4:4). He is a forgiving Father who is quick to forgive and abundant in mercy (Psalm 86:5, 2 Chronicles 7:14). Part of God’s salvation is the fact that He is quick to forgive and to cleanse us. Jesus came to pay the ultimate price for our forgiveness and salvation.
A friend and I were praying one day when the Lord directed us to go to a specific place in a shopping mall to witness to someone. Arriving there, we met a man and started to talk to him about Jesus. We were surprised when he told us that he had actually come to the mall in an attempt to run away. The very morning his grandmother had phoned him to say that two of God’s servants would visit him to tell him about Jesus. He thought that by coming to a public place, he would escape this! I was amazed to see how God would go the extra mile to reach an individual. This man repented and began to follow Jesus.
- Who did Jesus primarily come for?
- Who heart did Jesus come to represent here on earth?
- Do you have assurance of salvation? Explain.
Scripture to read:
- Isaiah 35:4
- 1 Timothy 1:15
- 2 Corinthians 2:15
- John 12:47
- Acts 16:30
Day 6: The Desire of Our Father to Heal, Restore and Deliver
Do you think Jesus can identify with all our needs? (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Some of the things Jesus suffered:
- His birth was questioned.
- He was rejected by men.
- He was born in poverty.
- His race was oppressed.
- His father died when He was young.
- He was called illegitimate.
- He was abandoned in death.
- He was treated unfairly.
- He was misunderstood.
- He did not have an attractive physical appearance.
- His siblings didn’t respect Him.
- He suffered physically on the Cross.
Our emotional insecurities will cause us to be independent from God and others and I will make us susceptible to pride. We should not be dominated by our fears and insecurities. God want us to be free from our pain and He wants to heal our wounds. God revealed himself as Jehovah Rapha or Yaweh Repha in the Old Testament (Exodus 15:26), which means the Lord our Healer.
We should realize that God is a perfect Father. He also said that He is the “balm of Gilead”. This was expensive, fragrant oil, used on wounds and its healing qualities worked from the inside out. God is a gentle healer.
God also revealed Himself as Jehovah Sabaoth, which means God is our deliverer (1 Samuel 17:45).
Looking back, which of the following do you think your parents communicated to you?
I don’t have time for you, you are not special, I think you are stupid, you are a nuisance, I don’t actually want you, you must perform to earn our love, don’t cry or show feelings.
Here are a few steps to follow to help deal with past hurts:
- Realize you are not the only one who has suffered – we live in a broken world. It is important not to fall into self-pity or to be self-centred
- Be honest with God about:
Your need for healing
Your past hurts and pain
Your insecurities and weaknesses
Your inability to heal yourself
- Forgiveness: forgive others and yourself, read Matthew 18
- Confession and repentance (James 5:16)
- Renewing your mind, know what God feels about you and what His promises are (Romans 12:2)
- Worship God
Look unto God and focus on who He is.
Spend time in His presence and learn to enjoy Him.
Come to Him with thanksgiving and believe He is pleased with you.
I grew up with a heavy feeling of rejection and developed a fear of being rejected by others. This caused me to look in different places for acceptance and love. I became very performance orientated as I did everything to be the best and to be acknowledged by other people. I will never forget how God started showing me how much He loves me. A mother asked me to hold her baby and as I held the child, the Lord told me that He wants to hold me in exactly the same way. He said that He would care for me and never leave me as long as I will trust Him. I realized how dependant and vulnerable this child was
Scripture to read:
- Mark 2:17
- Matthew 26:53
- Luke 4:33
- Luke 5:25
- Revelation 21:4
- Revelation 19:11-15
- Isaiah 31:5
- Luke 5:15
- Luke 4:17-18
Day 7: The Desire of Our Father for Intimacy
Many people know about God, but they do not actually know God. It is not possible to know God unless He reveals to us. The good news is that God wants to reveal Himself to us. He does this in the following ways:
- Through Creation (Colossians 1:16)
- Through our conscience (Romans 2:14-15)
- Through the still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12)
- Through His Word (Hebrews 4:12)
- Through Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:6 – 11; Matthew 11:27)
- By His Holy Spirit (1 John 5:6 – 12)
- Through signs, wonders, and miracles (Mark 16:20)
- Through other believers (1 John 2:10)
The Hebrew word yada is translated as “know” and means intimate knowledge. This talks about having first-hand experience (Jeremiah 9:23-24, James 4:8A, Jeremiah 29:12-13). Spending time with our Father means abiding in Him (John 15) and delighting ourselves in the Lord (Psalm 37:4). Approaching our Father should be done in humility (1 Peter 5:6), solitude (Luke 5:16, Psalm 46:10), in yieldedness to Him (Romans 12:1), and freely accessing Him through the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19).
One of the most powerful lies we can believe is that God will reject us when we come to Him.
Some of the fruit of rejection are:
- A feeling of unworthiness, inferiority and guilt
- A deep search for love and acceptance
- Rejecting other people
- Questioning the love of God and others
- A false identity
Some reasons for feeling rejected are:
- A message to a child that they are unwanted
- Divorce/ death of parents/ suicide
- Love not expressed in a way that was meaning to a child
- Parents withdrew love
- Child not the desired gender
- Over-protection of the child
- Peer pressure
- Child’s performance not good enough
God wants honesty and not hypocrisy. We don’t have to tell God all the good things in our life, He desires the vulnerability in our hearts to share the bad things with Him too.
- What is the result of abiding in God? (John 15, John 17:23,26)
- List some of the things that are distracting you from intimacy with God.
- Describe some areas where you have experienced rejection or the fear of rejection.
- Bring these reasons for feeling to God and ask Him to heal you.
Scripture to read:
- James 1:22-25
- 1 John 5: 14 – 15
- Matthew 18:18 – 20
Day 8: A Holy Father
To be holy means “to be set apart” or “be separate” or “to have different standards”. We need to know that God is holy; He is not like any of His creatures. Holiness is the character trait of God that is emphasized the most in the Bible. However, God’s holiness and perfection does not make Him an impersonal old man sitting in heaven just waiting to whack sinners who step out of line.
A.W. Tozer describes holiness this way:
“Holy is the way God is. To be holy means He does not conform to a standard. He is absolutely holy with an infinite, incomprehensible fullness of purity that is incapable of being other than it is. Because He is holy, His attributes are holy; that is, whatever we think of as belonging to God must be thought of as holy.”
God’s works and His ways are holy (Psalm 145:17, Psalm 19:1 – 2, Isaiah 55: 8 – 9). Nothing but the perfection and excellence come from God. This does not mean that God is intimidated by our imperfection. God revealed Himself as Jehovah Makaddesh which means “the Lord who makes holy or sanctifies” (Exodus 31:13). We must be transformed in tho God’s likeness so that we can reflect His glory on the earth. Sanctification happens through the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives – not through our own human efforts. The fruit of our sanctification means that you will reflect the character of Christ (Romans 8:9, 2 Corinthians 3:18).
- What should our response to God’s holiness be? (Philippians 3:8, 1 John 3:3, Matthew 5:8, 1 John 2:6, Psalm 99:5)
- What is sanctification? (1 Corinthians 1:30, Ephesians 5:1)
- Are there things you have done in the past you feel ashamed of?
- What are some of the areas where you feel God has called you to set a standard in order to influence some of your friends positively?
Scripture to read:
- Exodus 15:11
- Psalm 89:35
- Romans 7:12
- Isaiah 6:1-7
- Psalm 110:3
- Revelation 4
Day 9: An Omniscient Father
God knows everything. He possesses all knowledge about everything and everyone. God knows the beginning and the end all at once. That means that God is never amazed, surprised or caught-off guard. He also knows what He is doing – He is not confused and He has no plan B. Nothing can be hidden from Him (Ezekiel 11:5). Does this mean that God also knows everything about you? (Matthew 10:30).
God is infinite. This means that God exists outside of space and time. He is limitless, boundless and measureless. He has no beginning and no end (Psalm 147:5). Although God never changes, it is important for us to change, because God has predestined us to be like Jesus (Romans 8:28).
God cannot receive anything that has not been given by Him. He needs nothing. God exists for Himself and His own glory. There is nothing we can add to God (Colossians 1:15 – 17).
My wife and I were driving one evening when it started to rain. We both felt uneasy and started praying in the Spirit at the same time. I slowed down and the next moment a car drove over a red traffic light and passed right in front of us. We would probably have been killed in an accident if it was not God warning us – we missed that car by centimetres! What an amazing thought that God knows everything and He is not limited to time as we are.
- Do you think God knows everything about you?
- Are there things that you try to hide from God?
- What are the areas where you need to change? Why do you think you need to change in these areas?
- How does it make you feel to know that God knows everything about you and about what is happening in the world?
- Psalm 46:10
- 1 Samuel 2:3
- Ephesians 3:19
- Psalm 44:21
Day 10: An Omnipresent Father
God’s omnipresence simply means that He is everywhere at the same time and not limited to time or space like we are. His omnipresence means we will never be alone. (Jeremiah 23:23-24, 2 Chronicles 2:6).
God knows us and because of His love, He will never leave. Unfortunately, we often create a world for ourselves to escape into. This world can be in our imagination, watching sport, exercising, watching every new movie or even reading Christian books. These things can all give us a false sense of peace.
My son when he was three years old just loved attention. Any parent will know that children of that age are very attached to their parents and go through stages where they do not want their dad (or mom) to be out of sight even for one minute. It is the job and responsibility of a parent to be there for them – even 24/7. I have realized that that is how God cares for us. He never sleeps and therefore even knows how many breaths you take while asleep!
- Read Psalm 139. What statements in verse 1 – 6 indicate to you that God knows you intimately?
- What extreme places does David mention going to in order to escape from God? (V. 7 – 12)
- Do you think you are also “fearfully and wonderfully made”? Explain how you understand this term.
- In what areas do you still escape?
- Why do you think we as humans love to live independently from God?
Scripture to read:
- Hebrews 13:5
- Psalm 37:25
Day 12: An Omnipotent Father
The word omnipotent means that God is all-powerful, almighty and has all strength. God alone has absolute power. He is power and all power comes from Him. Whatever He has done in the past, He is able to do again today. He can bring to pass whatsoever He pleases and He upholds the world by the power of His Word. (Acts 7:48 – 49, Isaiah 44:6, 8B)
David knew God as El Shaddai, God Almighty or God Omnipotent. For this reason, he could stand up to the giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17:45).
Part of the fact that God is all-powerful is that He is our Creator and the Creator if the universe. The name used for God as Creator in Elohim. The root El refers to Mighty One or strength (Genesis 1:1, Psalm 89:11, Isaiah 45:18). He created us in His image (Isaiah 64:8). He gives life to everything (Acts 17:24-26, Ephesians 3:20-21).
Despite the fact that God physically healed many people in the Bible, I thought I did not have the faith to pray for someone to be healed. However, one day I was in a situation where I had to pray for a deaf person. The Lord miraculously opened his ears and he could hear for the first time in his life. I remember trying to persuade the man he could not be healed because I have not finished my prayer! I then realized that God is all-powerful to heal. This man could hear perfectly after I prayed for him.
- Do you think there is anything our Father cannot do?
- Are there areas in your life, family or neighbourhood where you need the power of God?
- Take some time and pray for those areas.
- Psalm 89:6
- Daniel 4:35
- Isaiah 48:13
- Psalm 18:13-15
- Exodus 15:11
Day 13: An Eternal Father
God is not limited to the temporal. He is eternal. He does everything with eternity in mind. What we do on earth will determine what will happen in eternity and what we will do there (Psalm 90:2, Revelations 1:8, Isaiah 46: 9 – 10). God is truth and He is not a man that He can lie (Titus 1:2, Romans 3:4). Truth can never change because it is absolute. Truth will override any fact in your life. For example, you cannot walk on water, but when Jesus calls you, you can. His Word will never fail (Psalm 118:89, Matthew 24:35, Jeremiah 1:12).
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for[a] you serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23 – 24)
This is an amazing scripture. God is interested in our work and we should we do everything as unto Him. He is the One we serve and there are eternal rewards for what we do on earth. However, what you do is not as important as how you so it.
One day the Lord gave me a word for someone in a church gathering. I shared it, but nobody responded. I was a bit disappointed, thinking I must have missed God. Six months later I received a phone call from someone in London. He shared how faithful God was. He had downloaded a sermon from the website and received a word that was specifically for him. It changed his life. I realized that word had been intended for him. God had made provision for him long in advance! Our God is eternal.
- What lies do you believe in concerning the character of God?
- What lies do you believe concerning yourself?
- Take a moment to think about how long eternity is (Ecclesiastes 3:11). What things do you do that have no eternal value?
- How do you feel about your day to day work and its eternal value?
Scripture to read:
- John 14:6
- Proverbs 12:22
- Isaiah 40:8
- 1 Peter 1:25
Day 14: An Immutable Father
God never changes. He has no need to change because He is perfect. We, on the other hand, are always changing and can trust in our Father whom remains unchanged (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17). The Lord is a faithful Father (1 Thessalonians 5:24, Psalm 36:5). God