Talking to the Father

June 23, 2013

Last Sunday was Father’s Day and I
would imagine the phone lines were burning up as people were calling their
dads. I phoned my dad and I got one phone call and a text from my kids.  And for those whose fathers are no longer
with them they probably thought about conversations that they have had with
their Dads through the years.

If you are like me, there are
probably certain talks, or conversations that you have had with your father
that stick in your mind.  A friend of
mine said he had “The talk” with his eleven year old son the other day, for now
I’m sure that is memorable, for whom I’m not sure. 

I am fortunate that through the years I have had a really good relationship
with Dad, probably didn’t realize it at the time but there are several
conversations that I can almost think of verbatim, even remembering where we
were when we had those conversations. 
Not all of them would be appropriate in this context. 

This is week two of our Red Letter
Summer series and for the next couple of months we will be focusing on those
words in the New Testament that are printed in Red.  These are the words of Jesus.  Red Letters are found primarily in the four
gospels but there is a small segment in the book of Acts, in Chapter 9 and
again in the book of Revelation.
In the scripture that was read
earlier we are eavesdropping on a conversation that Jesus is having with his
Father.  Last week we looked at how Jesus
viewed his Father, that he 1) Jesus Knew the Love of the Father,
that 2) Jesus Knew the Affirmation of the Father. And finally 3)
Jesus Knew the Protection of the Father
And
the fact that he had that type of relationship with his father would explain
why he was able to have this conversation with his Father,  Mark 14:35-36 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed
that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by.
“Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this
cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
And so it had come to this. 
For three years he had taught for three years he had healed.  For three years he had tried to make a
difference in his world and to direct people to his father and now it had come
down to this.  One of his followers had
already cut a deal with his enemies and he knew deep within his heart that this
was already the beginning of the end.
Others might guess what was going to happen, he knew. From
the very beginning he knew that the people would reject him and his message and
they would reject his call to draw near to God. 
He knew that he would have to die and would have to surrender his
life.  He knew all this because he was
God.  But he also knew that he had to
make the offer, he had to walk among the people and offer them the chance to
embrace him, even knowing they would reject him, but he had to make the offer.
And so it had come to this. 
And the worst part was the anticipation. 
You know how you felt the last time you had to go to the dentist to have
a filling, or a tooth pulled?  You sat in
the waiting room imagining how much it was going to hurt, you could almost feel
the prick of the needle as they froze your gums, and as you heard the sound of
the drill coming from the office it was almost as if it was in your mouth.  Your blood pressure went up, your palms got
sweaty your pulse increased. Sorry, I was gone but I’m back now.
Jesus knew that before the day was done that he would die,
and not just die but die a very painful death. 
Oh sure he was God he could make it so it wouldn’t hurt, but that wasn’t
a part of the plan. Dying would be the easy part; it was Julius Caesar who said “It
is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are
willing to endure pain with patience.”  And
Jesus Christ, the son of God knew that before the sun had set one more time
that he would offer up the supreme sacrifice for the world, not just for the
world, for you, and you and you.  Because
before the day was done he would offer himself up to suffer and die.
And with those thoughts racing through his mind he fell to
his knees and began to pray.
This is the prayer of Jesus.
Mark
14:36 
“Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take
this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
The first thing we discover in this prayer is 1) He Knew Who He Was Praying To.  For Jesus the Father was not some abstract
figure, he wasn’t a vague benevolent something, out there somewhere.  Instead he was God the Father, who loves and
cares about his children, He was Abba-*. 
When we think Abba we think of a Swedish Disco group from the 70’s, and
while that may be what Abba means now, it is nowhere near what Abba meant
then. 
Instead Abba was an Aramaic word that meant father but more
then simply father, it was the diminutive form. 
Burton Guptill is my father, has been as long as I can remember, but you
know something in 53 years I don’t think I have ever called him father,
ever.  When I was younger I called him
Daddy, and now I call him Dad, for awhile when I worked for him on the tugs I
called him Skipper but I have never to my recollection referred to him as father.
Abba means Daddy or Dad; it is
a term of endearment, signifying a relationship.  It’s used only three times in the New
Testament.  This was the first.  The other two times Paul uses it to describe
the relationship we need to have with our heavenly Father Romans 8:15 So you have
not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received
God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba,
Father.”   And again Paul reminds
us in Galatians 4:6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of
his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”
And I understand that the concept of God as our Father is
not a positive for everyone.  Some people
were brought up by fathers who were cruel and vicious, who abused them
physically and verbally, and that wasn’t right. 
That isn’t what fathers are supposed to do and are supposed to behave
like.  Others weren’t abused by their
fathers they were simply ignored, it would appear that their fathers had taken
to heart the words of Ernest Hemingway who said
“To be a successful father… there’s one absolute
rule: when you have a kid, don’t look at it for the first two years.”
But men who abuse their children or ignore their children
aren’t fathers they are simply sperm donors. 
A father doesn’t just participate in the conception of the child he is
an integral part of seeing that child grow up. 
He is responsible for loving and caring for his children. Of providing
for them and protecting them, first against the monsters who live beneath the
bed and then against the world.  And as
children we understand that, Sigmund Freud said
“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as
the need for a father’s protection.”
And now as Jesus came to the most crucial time in his thirty
three years on this earth, knowing as only he could know what was about to
happen he cries out to his father, to his dad, pouring out his heart.
When you pray who do you pray to?  A concept, a belief, some vague deity that we
find hard to define, kind of like Alfred Jarry who
said “God is the tangential point between zero and
infinity.”
I don’t think so, but if we are
going to pray to God the Father then it better be to God our Father.  There needs to be a relationship, and He only
becomes our Father when we become his children. And how do we do that?  Listen to the word of God, John 1:12 But to all who
believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
And our obligation as His
Children?    Philippians
2:15
so that no one can criticize you. Live
clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world
full of crooked and perverse people.
Our lives then become evidence
of that relationship, 1 John 3:10 So now we can tell who are children of God and who are
children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love
other believers does not belong to God.
You are a child of God if you have
believed in Jesus and accept him and you live clean innocent lives, obeying
God’s command.  Then you can call out to
Him, Abba.
Mark
14:35-36
. “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please
take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not
mine.”
Jesus not only knew he was praying
to the Father,  2) He Knew The Father’s Power Abba, Father,” He
prayed everything is
possible for you.  What’s the use
of praying if you don’t believe that God has the power to answer your prayers?  Somehow we need to get our head around the
concept that everything and anything is possible for God.  And I know that some of you are out there
shaking your head thinking “but God doesn’t always answer my prayers.”  You’re right God doesn’t always answer prayer,
but not because he can’t.  We also need
to understand that we aren’t always going to be able to understand it.  I can’t explain why God doesn’t always answer
our prayers.  Personally I know that
there have been some of my prayers that I’m glad He didn’t answer.
The Angel Gabriel summed it up in Luke 1:37 “For nothing is
impossible with God.”
Time and
time again in the Bible we hear the words “everything is possible for God”, “anything
is possible for God”, and “all things are possible for God.”   But understand there are things that God
won’t do.  A woman approached her pastor
and told him that she wanted him to pray that her daughter wouldn’t move in with
her boyfriend like she was planning.  The
pastor refused.  Why?  Think about it.  God doesn’t force his will on us so why would
he force our will on others?  The better
prayer might be that the daughter would seek God and embrace His
salvation.  If we have a loved one in the
Armed Forces and pray that they are not sent into battle does that mean that
someone else might be placed in danger because our husband, son or brother
isn’t there?
But
God has the power to answer all our prayers, and we need to pray believing that
He will answer those prayers, but understanding that if He doesn’t it’s not
because he can’t and it’s not because he doesn’t want the best for us, but we
may have a different idea then God of what is best for us.  Sometimes we are like little kids and we want
it all, but all isn’t what we need.
So he prayed to His Father,
believing that His Father had the power to answer his prayer and then Mark 14:36“Abba, Father,”
he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your
will to be done, not mine.”
 3) He Prayed For Himself  You
ever catch yourself praying for something for you and feel guilty?  It’s like somewhere along the line we have
been told that we should only pray for others. 
If we pray for ourselves then we are selfish.
That’s wrong.  When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, that would be
the one that Jesus gave the disciples, we pray that God would give us our daily bread, that God would
forgive us, that God would keep us from temptation. 
A few years ago there was a
bestselling book out called the Prayer of Jabez and it looked at an obscure Old
Testament Prayer that is recorded in 1 Chronicles 4:10, do you remember what he
prayed?  1
Chronicles 4:10
He was the one who prayed to
the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please
be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!”
A fairly
selfish sounding prayer but listen to the result, And
God granted him his request. 
Jesus said this about the Father Matthew 7:9-11 “You
parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone
instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So
if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much
more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
Oh sometimes when we pray for ourselves we are praying for selfish
things.  You can’t deny that, but for the
most part it’s not wrong to ask God to be with us and to take care of us and to
provide for us.  And He wants to do that,
but you need to trust his judgement.  And
here is the kicker.  It’s easy to pray to
God our Father, and it’s easy to acknowledge his power, and it’s easy to ask
Him to take care of us.  It’s tough to
surrender to His will.  
Mark
14:36
“Abba, Father,” he cried out,
“everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from
me. Yet I want your will to be done, not
mine.”
4) He Prayed For
God’s Will 
American Poet  Richard Cecil
made this comment “The history of all the great
characters of the Bible is summed up in this one sentence: They acquainted
themselves with God, and accepted His will in all things.”
Think
about it, the only thing anyone in the bible got by insisting on doing their
will instead of God’s was trouble.  Time
and time again it is proved that God is smarter then we are. 
If
you are like me, and like most people, at some point in your Christian life you
have made a decision that you knew was not what God wanted you to do, so how
did that work out for you?
Think
about it on one hand we have God, the creator of the universe, this is the God
who cast the milk way into space, who imagined platypuses and created you.  On the other hand we have us, most of whom
can’t even figure out how to change the digital clock in our cars.  Which isn’t really a problem because it’s
right for half the year.     
It’s
no contest, and yet time and time again we want to pray to God, “Yet I want my
will, not yours.”
When
Noah chose God’s will he was able to build an ark that saved him and his
family, when Joseph chose God’s will he was able to save his family from
starvation.  When Moses chose God’s will
he was able to deliver his people out of the slavery of Egypt.  When Gideon chose God’s will he was able to
save the Israelites from the Midianites. 
When David Chose God’s will he was able to defeat the giant.
And yet when Saul chose his
will over God’s he lost his throne, when Samson chose to ignore God’s will he
lost his life, when Sarah and Abraham chose their will over God’s, let’s stop
and reflect here on the consequences of disobedience, and doing it our own
way. 
God promised to make Abraham
the father of a great nation, and yet Abraham couldn’t seem to have a child
with his wife Sarah.  So Sarah decided to
take matters into her own hands and set her husband up with her maid a gal
named Hagar who became pregnant with a son. 
The boys name was Ishmael, and this is what the Bible predicted about
Ishmael Genesis 16:12 This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild
donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against
him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.”
Later Sarah and Abraham had a son named Isaac who would
eventually have a son named Jacob who would eventually be called Israel. And
the descendents of Israel
are the people we call the Jews.  We know
that.  It was from Jacob’s descendants
that a young lady named Mary was born, who would go on to be the mother of
Jesus. 
But what about Ishmael? 
Well his descendents lived in that same area and more than 2,500 years
after his birth was born a descendent of Ishmael’s was born, and this parents named
him Mohammed, and almost 1,500 years after that another descendent of Ishmael’s
was born and his name was Osoma Bin Ladin and the rest as they say is
history. 
What would have happened had Abraham and Sarah taken God at
his word, if their prayer had of been “not my will but yours be done.”?  Just asking.   What were the consequences of two people not
trusting God’s will 4000 years ago?
Now you might be asking, how will I know the will of
God?  Good question.  Paul Little
says this “Has it ever struck you that the vast
majority of the will of God for your life has already been revealed in the
Bible? That is a crucial thing to grasp.”
But you will never know what’s in the Bible if you don’t
read the Bible.
What is your prayer today? 
God has only your best in mind, are you willing to trust him?