Child of God

My son and granddaughter ages 28 and 6 months.

“ A voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you, I am well pleased.’” (Mark 1:11).

I didn’t hear it much growing up so I made sure to tell my son, “I love you” multiple times a day.  And I constantly tell my granddaughter, “You’re Nana’s girl and I love you.” So I always thought the Father’s words at Jesus’ baptism were just a tender moment between Father and Son.  But it was more – it was a moment of preparation for what was to come when “the Spirit sent him out into the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan” (v. 12). 

Jesus faced enormous temptation but was able to resist and reject Satan because the Father’s words were still ringing in His ears. “You are my Son, whom I love; with you, I am well pleased.” He knew who He was and whose He was.

God speaks the same affirmation over you and me: “You are my son, you are my daughter, whom I love; with you, I am well pleased.” We are adopted into the family of God when we believe in Jesus. We become sons and his daughters. We are as loved by the Father as was Jesus (John 17:26). Our faith is pleasing to Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Every day Satan dangles temptations before us to drag us into sin. What if, before your feet hit the floor every morning you remind yourself, “I am God’s son, I am God’s daughter, my Father loves me, and He is well pleased with me.” Would that make a difference in how you respond to temptation? I believe it would.

Beloved, if you are in Christ, you are a child of God – it’s not something you have to earn or measure up to – it is your place. You have every benefit and blessing of being part of His family. That includes the right to claim your Father’s love and His pleasure over you. Don’t let the enemy shake you – stand firm in who you are and Whose you are.

I am a Child of God!

“You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.  At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan” (Mark 1:11-12).
The Father’s words over Jesus came at His baptism, when the Spirit descended on Him as He came up out of the water.  God confirmed that Jesus was His beloved Son, and that He pleased His Father greatly.  It was a tender and powerful moment – and it was a moment of preparation for what was to come.  Mark says that “at once” Jesus was led by the Spirit into the place of temptation.  Matthew fleshes out the account of Jesus fasting for 40 days and Satan throwing temptations at him, which Jesus deflected, shutting the enemy down.
What caught my attention this morning are the words of the Father just before the temptation. Jesus was able to resist and reject Satan because the Father’s words were still ringing in His ears.  “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Beloved, the Father speaks those same words over you and me.  “You are my son, you are my daughter, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”  Because we are adopted into the family of God when we believe in Jesus, we become His sons and his daughters.  We are as loved by the Father as was Jesus (John 17:26).  Our faith is pleasing to Him (Hebrews 11:6).
Every day you and I enter a wilderness.  Every day Satan tries to drag us into sin.  He dangles temptation before us like a carrot on a stick.  What if, before your feet hit the floor every morning you remind yourself, “I am God’s son, I am God’s daughter, my Father loves me, and He is well pleased with me.”  Would that make a difference in how you respond to temptation?  I believe it would.  What if, when I sense the devil playing his old tricks again, I spoke those words out loud where he can hear me.  I expect he would tuck tail and run. I believe with that assurance in our hearts and on our lips, you and I will be empowered to stand firm against the enemy.
Beloved, if you are in Christ, you are a child of God – it’s not something you have to earn or measure up to – it is your place.  You have every benefit and blessing of being part of His family.  That includes the right to claim your Father’s love and His pleasure over you.  Don’t let the enemy shake you – stand firm in who you are and Whose you are.

Did God really say . . .?

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“He who doubts is like is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6

Satan’s favorite weapon against us is to cause us to doubt God.  I don’t know why we fall for it time after time, it is such an old trick that he used all the way back to the Garden.  Check out Genesis 3, the account of the fall of Adam and Eve which is the fall of all mankind.

Satan, in the form of a serpent, slithered up to Eve with evil in his heart and a question on his lips: “Did God really say…?”  (Genesis 3:1). He was not asking for clarification of the Creator’s words, he was sowing that tiny seed of doubt.  You can almost hear him stress the word really.   He was asking Eve if she thought God meant what He said in pronouncing the inevitability of their death for eating from that one particular tree.  Well Eve took the bait and took a bite and Satan knew then that he has a sure-fire missile to use against God’s beloved creatures.  But the truth of God’s words proved itself, and mankind has suffered death—physically and spiritually ever since.  Oh if only Adam and Eve had believed God, how different it all would have turned out.  They learned the hard way the one thing you can be sure of, God doesn’t mince words.  He says what He means and He means what He says.

He used that same ploy against Jesus in the wilderness: “If you are the son of God… (Matthew 4:3, 6).  He questioned Jesus’ identity, but the Lord did not fall for it, because He knew the truth.  You will recall that the wilderness episode followed immediately on the heels of Jesus baptism.  Do you remember the Father’s words? “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).  Right away Satan began to question Jesus’ confidence. That is the enemy’s other favorite dart against us; he plants doubts in our mind about our relationship with God.  “If you really are God’s child, why is He allowing you to suffer so much?”  “You can’t really be a Christian and behave the way you just did!”  Satan tried to cast doubt in Jesus’ mind, but his attempts failed, because Jesus knew exactly who He was; His Father had proclaimed it and Jesus never lost that confirmation.

Friend, Satan still works to cause you and me to doubt God.  He wants us to doubt what His Word says about what is right and what is wrong.  He uses the culture of the day to cast doubt on the reality of sin and the consequences of rejecting Christ.  He even uses the most learned people in society to cast doubt on the existence of God.  In the church he brings in those who twist and misinterpret the Scriptures to say “what their itching ears what to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3).  That is where we have to go back to the only source of truth—the Word of God and refresh our minds with what God really said so that we can stand firm in this evil day.

But I think Satan’s strongest weapon against us is casting doubts in our mind about our identity and about God’s love for us.  When we are unsure about who we are and about our relationship with God everything else gets shaken too.  Hear this loud and clear dear ones, when you received Jesus Christ as your Savior, God spoke the same words over you that He spoke over His own Son: “This is my child, whom I love; with him (or her) I am well pleased.”  How do I know that?  Check out Jesus’ words in His prayer just before His arrest and crucifixion: “My they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23, emphasis added).  God loves those who are in Christ Jesus just as He loves Jesus Himself.  Because of the Son’s sacrifice, you and I are loved—eternally, unreservedly, and completely.  You can be sure of God’s love and of your place in His family.

My friends, don’t give Satan another victory over you.  Every time you and I give way to his words of doubt we stumble and fall in our faith-walk.  God has given His word in His Word to enable us to walk with confidence in the face of doubt.  Don’t let Satan trip you up with his old, tired routine. Trust God to always speak the truth, to speak it clearly through His Word, and to assure you of who you are and Whose you are.

There’s no doubt about it!

Holy Father – yes, You are my Father, and because of Jesus Christ, I am Your child.  Help me today to walk in the assurance and freedom of Your truth and cast aside every whisper and shout of doubt.  I trust in your Word and in You. Amen.

Remember My Words

“I did tell you, but you did not believe.” John 10:25
Do you remember that annoying kid in school, the expert on every subject who delighted in telling you everything she knew? Do you remember how irritating it was when it turned out she was right? Didn’t you just hate to hear her chortle, “Told you so!” Yes, I remember that kid. Truth is, I was that kid. And I would like to apologize to my brothers and my classmates for being such a brat. But let me just remind you – I was right.
The point of this, and there is a point, is how we often fail to recall what we hear, and specifically what God has said to us. This is the first step in the long fall of doubt, and our enemy is the chief manipulator in twisting our thoughts and raising uncertainty about God’s words.
Let’s look at an account in Scripture with Jesus and His disciples. Please stop and read Mark 4:35-40. This is the familiar story of Jesus calming the storm that threatened their company on the boat in the middle of the sea. The disciples are fighting against the wind and the waves and where is Jesus? Asleep in the boat! How can He sleep when there is a “furious squall, and waves [breaking] over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped” (v. 37)?
The fearful disciples awaken Jesus, and “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm” (v. 38-39). Now listen as Jesus chastens His disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (v. 40). Recently a friend asked me about this passage, wondering what Jesus saw in His disciples that caused Him to rebuke their lack of faith. As I meditated on these words, this is what the Lord brought to my mind and heart. Jesus is not chastising the disciples because they doubted His ability to deal with the storm, the issue wasn’t that they were scared. But go back to verse 35. Jesus told them “Let us go over to the other side.” This wasn’t a mere suggestion, but Jesus was giving them an emphatic direction, and He was assuring them that He was with them – notice the words “let us”. And because He was present, their journey was assured. When the storm came up, their fear caused them to doubt that they would survive. But in truth they were expressing a deeper doubt that Jesus could accomplish what He said they would all do, which is “go over to the other side.” They allowed the storm to drown out Jesus’ words, and all they knew is that the wind and waves meant certain death.
This is Satan’s favorite tool, to cause us to doubt and question God’s Word, His promises, His commands and His authority. We can see this clearly in two snippets of Scripture:
Genesis 3:1 – “Did God really say…?” and  Matthew 4:3 & 6 – “If you are…?   In these two brief lines, Satan is casting doubt on what God has said, first to Eve, and in the Matthew passages to Jesus. Satan was causing Eve to question God’s command in the Garden, and cast doubt on the goodness of God’s heart toward them. Notice that when the serpent questioned Eve about God’s command, she began to get confused and twisted the words of God, “God did say ‘You must not eat from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die’” (Gen. 3:3, emphasis added). God had commanded they not eat from this tree, but, in her answer to the serpent, Eve added a little bit of her own thoughts, and the doubt was sown. Have you ever wondered “Did God really tell me this, or am I hearing my own voice and my own words?” This was the beginning of the slippery slope of doubt for Eve – Satan knew it, just as he knows it when we have the same doubts – and he uses it to his advantage. He also tried to cause Jesus to doubt His identity and who God had declared Him to be at His baptism – “You are my Son…” (Mark 1:11). Satan succeeded in leading Eve astray, but Jesus knew without a doubt what God had said, and who He was. Matthew notes how Jesus repeatedly refuted the devil by saying “It is written…” for He knew exactly what God’s Words said – He was their Author.
Now, let’s look at one more – John 11:40 – “Did I not tell you…?” This passage comes from the resurrection of Lazarus. Remember that Jesus had told Martha, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life…whoever believe in me will live, even though he dies.” (John 11:25). He even asked her, “Do you believe this?” Now, when Jesus commands that the stone be rolled away from the grave, Martha questioned Him. That is when Jesus said “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40). “Do you remember what I promised you Martha? I am going to fulfill it right before your eyes!” Isn’t it amazing how quickly the warmth of His words cooled in her heart; from the time of Jesus’ speaking until they came to the tomb, Martha had begun to doubt.
God has spoken great and precious promises in His Word, promises for this life and for the life everlasting. He has spoken through the pages of the Bible and He speaks through His Holy Spirit that dwells in every believer. He speaks to give you and me assurance and promise and hope and peace and comfort. He speaks to guide and direct us, leading us into the  “Promised Land” He has ordained for His beloved children. Perhaps God has, at some point, told you that He is going to do something in and through you; and time, circumstances and the enemy are casting doubt on that word. Just as the disciples and Martha forgot what Jesus had said He would do, I wonder if Jesus stands before you and asks “Did I not tell you…?” Perhaps His word to you is right at the cusp of fulfillment. Child of God, will you continue to trust that God will do what He has told you?
Holy Father, when You speak, Your word is fulfilled. Lord, When my mind wanders, when the storms blow, when the enemy tries to cause me to doubt; please help me to hold fast to what You have promised, and to trust You to bring everything You have said to completion. Amen.