5.24.2018 - 'The Father's Love' pastor Brian Connolly
The Father's Love message is one that Brian has preached before, and, in fact, it's a focus in the first two semesters of his Unveiling Prophetic School. The reason it's elemental to the school, and the prophetic world at large, is that it's essential to ministry. A good, hearty understanding of the God of love is necessary for good fruit and spiritual health. The progression that Jesus spells out in Matthew 22 illustrates the need for this basic revelation of love: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” We know, too, that we have the ability to love God only because He first loved us. (1ST JOHN 4:19)
So, out of an understanding that He loves us, we then can effectively love others, which is, in a nutshell, our call and our commission as Christians. It's indeed the motive according to Paul. So why then, if it's that easy, at least on paper, do we have such an issue grasping the clear fact that God loves us? The short answer, I believe, is that all the powers of hell spend themselves on confusing this truth. The plan makes sense. If you can cause a breakdown, or a diversion, or any host of distractions or tricks to get folks to buy the lie that they aren't loved by their creator, then they surely won't be effective ministers of the Gospel, and maybe they won't even continue believing in God, or ever start. This was Brian's point exactly in referencing perhaps the biggest pitfall to people: hope deferred.
" Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." PROVERBS 13:12 NIV
To defer, in the above context, is to delay, prolong or extend. Why in the world would we ever choose to delay or prolong hope? Whatever our reason, it's suiting that this deference would make our hearts sick. On the contrary, our desire for God, which He is delighted to meet and reciprocate, breeds abundant life. On Thursday night, Brian pointed out that we need not ever live in the first half of this Proverb. We can choose Him and we can maintain the right image of Him. Although Hell does come against this image, seeking to distort, pervert, and rename, we always have the power to draw near and not stray.
The Love of the Father - From the Beginning
Brian drew from the book of Genesis, very early on in the saga of man, to illustrate God's love for creation. The profoundness of the statement that God makes in the garden after Adam & Eve disobey and eat of the forbidden fruit is somewhat easy to miss. "Where are you?" He asks. Not "what have you done?" or "what's wrong with you?' or, "I told you so!" "Where are you?" is getting at proximity, not punishment. A follow-up question for the first couple could have been, "why are you not near?" So even in a very direct and egregious act of disobedience, the first of its sort in fact, God isn't after a slap on the wrist, He's after addressing a breakdown in relationship. As Brian mentioned, we may all have memories of our past where our fathers or father figures asked very different questions in similar circumstances, but we can't allow those experiences to fog what God has already said. What He's said once and for all by sending His son, but even here at the very beginning of Genesis He's revealing His love.
Love's Antithesis - FEAR
The most common of our foes, as it relates to a clear view of the unadulterated love of the Father is Fear, of course. Brian recalled a parable from Matthew to help illustrate this dynamic.
"Look at [consider] the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?" MATTHEW 6:26-27
Worry, we'd first have to agree, is a form of fear. I've heard it said the "worry is faith in the wrong kingdom." Next, as Brian hinted on Thursday, we should acknowledge when there are worry and fear, trust in God is lacking. The picture of a sparrow carrying on as usual and having food to eat, without the responsibility of perpretuating the Gospel, is a convicting one. It's convicting every time we have fear around simple things (like food) and complex things alike. Birds are obviously not sweating about where their next meal will come from, and, as Jesus states in this parable, we're more valuable than them! Brian went so far as saying that birds are, in effect, prophesying by the way they live. If we can keep in clear view then, the unchangeable fact that He loves us passionately, and that He's willing to leave the 99 to save the 1, then worry will fade and fear with it in our lives.
Join us tomorrow, May 31st, at 6:30 PM for the finale of Restoration U. This special Holy Spirit Night is for anyone looking to be filled or re-filled with the Spirit of God. Hope to see you then!
- JF D'Orsie - Communications Director - PCC