Baba

Yet you, Lord, are our Father.

(Isaiah 64:8 NIV)

My mother once told me that my first words as a baby were dad or “baba,” to be more precise. When I became a Christian, I also learned to call God my Baba. A Sunday school student, who used to hang on to my every word, once asked me, “Why do you always start your prayers with ‘Dear heavenly Father’?” I just don’t know of any other way to refer to a holy God, who is also my Daddy.

Sadly, many people don’t have great relationships with their earthly fathers, so it’s hard for them to see God as a loving Father. After all, God gave men the awesome privillege of reflecting His fatherhood, but they have often failed to be like their heavenly Father. But I know that the more we get to know God, the more we will begin to understand the true meaning of the word “father.” He truly is the perfect Baba.

Anyone can be a father but it takes someone special to be a daddy.

Abba, Father

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
(Romans 8:15 NIV)

I know someone who always begins their prayers with “Abba,” a word that I’ve adopted in my own prayers as well. Abba is an Aramaic word that means “Father,” the equivalent of our modern word “Daddy.” As God’s children, we have the awesome privillege of calling Him Daddy. Yes, He is holy and powerful, but at the same time, He is also our Daddy. In fact, Jesus taught His disciples (and us) to address God as “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9). I love to approach God as my Daddy, and I encourage you to do the same.

As God’s children, we have the privillege to call Him Daddy.

Our Father in Heaven

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…”’ (Matthew 6:9 NIV)

I grew up in a culture where it’s inappropriate to address an adult using his or her first name, unless you are invited to do so. I referred to others as “aunt,” “uncle,” “sir” or “madam” for a long time until I reached adulthood. Now I call others by their first name (unless they’re way older than me) not because I’m disrespectful, but because I find that it breaks the barrier between us and brings us closer together.

Jesus invited the people of His day – and us today – to address God as our Father because that’s how He approached Him. In fact, in the Gospel of John, Jesus calls God “Father” more so than in any other Gospel. The word itself suggests a close relationship between Him and God, and that’s the kind of relationship He would like us to have with God too. Calling God Father doesn’t mean that we cease to give Him the respect He deserves. After teaching us to pray, “Our Father in heaven,” Jesus added, “hallowed be your name,” calling us to regard Him as holy (Matthew 6:9). Referring to Him as our Father breaks all barriers and brings us closer to Him. Who wouldn’t want to get to know God that way? Jesus invites you to address God as Father, so go ahead and do it!

Jesus invites us to address Almighty God as our Father.

Your Fate Is Sealed By God, Not People

A stone slab was placed over the opening of the den. The king sealed the cover with his signet ring and the signet rings of all his nobles, fixing Daniel’s fate.

(Daniel 6:17 MSG)

There’s an interesting statement that is stated differently in Daniel chapter 6: the law of the Medes and Persians can never be changed, as if written on stone (vv. 8, 12, 15). So when Daniel, the Jew, went against the king’s law, which stated that for thirty days no one was to pray to any god or mortal except the king (v.7), he was thrown in the lion’s den (v.16). The Bible tells us that “a stone slab was placed over the opening of the den. The king sealed the cover with his signet ring and the signet rings of all his nobles, fixing Daniel’s fate” (v.17). But God had the final word. When the king later went to check on Daniel, he heard Daniel exclaim, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel, who closed the mouths of the lions so that they would not hurt me” (vv.21-22). Hallelujah!

How many times has God gone to work on our behalf, even after other people seemed to have sealed our fate for us? The alarming diagnosis from the doctor, the disappointing report from the teacher or the despairing word from the people we love. If we trust Him, we can be confident of the fact that our fate can be changed by Almighty God Himself. Only He can change our fate in ways that defy the laws of men so that He receives the recognition and praise. Other people don’t have to dictate your future. Trust God and you will be rewarded.

“I decree that Daniel’s God shall be worshiped and feared in all parts of my kingdom. He is the living God, world without end. His kingdom never falls. His rule continues eternally. He is a savior and rescuer. He performs astonishing miracles in heaven and on earth. He saved Daniel from the power of the lions.”

-King Darius (Daniel 6:25-27)

In An Instant

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”

(Luke 4:5-8 NIV)

In his attempt to get Jesus to worship him, Satan takes Jesus to a high place and shows Him “in an instant” all the kingdoms of the world, promising to give Him all their authority and splendor.

In an instant. That’s usually the way the devil works. In an instant, he’ll show us what our life could be like if we would just pursue whatever might seem good at the moment. Knowing that we can’t see the end result, he entices us to believe that it could be good for us if we would just go for it. Sadly, many fall prey to his lies and live for the moment only to regret their choices later on.

Jesus knew that it wasn’t the Father’s will for Him to do what Satan was asking Him to do. The devil was tempting Jesus to avoid the sufferings of the cross, which He specifically came to endure. Through this temptation, Satan was offering Jesus an easy shortcut to world dominion. But “Jesus answered, “The Scriptures say: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him!’” (Luke 4:8). Having hidden the Father’s Word in His heart, Jesus could see past Satan’s enticement and therefore, didn’t sin against God.

Know God’s Word so well that when Satan comes and attempts to lure you for an instant, you can escape his trap too.

Where Are They Now?

That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore.

(Exodus 14:30 NLT)

There’s an interesting story in the Bible in Exodus 14 that I really encourage you to read and meditate on. After many years of being enslaved and mistreated by their Egyptian masters, the Israelites thought they were finally free, only to look back and see their oppressors pursuing to enslave them again. True to His Word, God steps in, completely sets His people free by fighting to win their freedom. So when they looked back on their enemies the second time, they saw them “lying dead on the shore” (Exodus 14:30).

The story reminded me of people who may have mistreated us in the past, but when you look back on where they are now, you see people who are too weak to hurt you again. A year ago, I was at the movies, when in walked a person I had known many years ago who didn’t leave a very good impression on me. Interestingly enough, I was there to watch Overcomer. I had overcome the hurt from the past and I could see that the person had changed too. They were not as strong as they used to be. God sure does humble the proud.

I don’t know what you’ve been through, but I’m sure if God has been fighting for you, you, too, can look back and see the pain and sorrow that have been chasing you ‘lying dead on the shore.’ Most importantly, like the Israelites, you will see yourself as an overcomer.

I Was Blind But Now I See!

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

(John 9:3 NIV)

The blind man in John 9 lived with a label all his life until Jesus came along, that is. Since his birth, he was known for his disability. But what is intriguing about his condition is that it made him the perfect candidate for a miracle. It’s clear from the story that this man was well known to others. John identified him as “a man blind from birth” (v. 1), he was seen and known by “his neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging” (v. 8), and by the Pharisees who eventually came to meet him (v. 13) or should I say, judge him? They added to his miserable condition by saying to him, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out” (v. 34).

But most importantly, this blind man, this outcast, was known by Jesus. He “saw” him (v. 1), but not like everyone else. Jesus saw his potential, “His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?””Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (vv. 2-3).

By giving sight to a man born blind, Jesus proved not only that He is “the Light of the world” (v. 5), but also that He is able to take away the wrong labels that we’ve been given by people. So much so that they’ll have a hard time accepting our new identity. When the man was no longer blind, people didn’t know what to call him anymore, a problem we often find in labels. They couldn’t recognize him, questioned if he was the same man and even wondered if he had been truly blind at all! (v. 9). His parents were brought in and questioned if the man truly was the son they claimed had been born blind (v. 19). To evade the possibility of being thrown out of the synagogue, the parents threw the question back at the son, “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself” (vv. 20-23).

I don’t know what labels you’ve been given all your life, but I know we’ve all have been labelled wrong at times. Jesus is coming to replace those labels. The man’s testimony became, “I was blind but now I see!” (v. 25). Your new identity is going to frustrate the ones who gave you a wrong identity, expecting you to live with it all your life. But like the man in the story, you can go on your way, enjoying your life and allowing God to use your testimony to bring Him glory.

He Wants to Give You Far More

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

(Romans 8:32 NIV)

Some people have a hard time believing that God wants to give them His best. It has never occurred to them that although they may want what’s best for themselves, God wants what’s best for them even more. One of my favourite Scriptures says, “[God] is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

But there’s an enemy who wants us to believe otherwise. Since the beginning of time the devil has been throwing the age-old question at us, “Does God really want what’s best for you?” Listen to what he said to Adam and Eve who were living peacefully and happily in the Garden of Eden, ‘“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’? For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil”‘ (Genesis 3:1,5). Satan has been making us doubt God’s good intentions towards us by making us think that God is withholding something good from us. But the truth is, the devil has been trying to take away God’s best from us. Adam and Eve lost their home in the beautiful garden.

If you have a longing in your heart right now for something greater, know that God desires it even more for you. In fact, He wants to give you far more than what you’ve asked for. Today’s passage from Romans says that if God didn’t withhold His own Son from us, He will surely give us everything else (in His way and in His time). But let’s put Him first and He will give us our heart’s desire.

Before It’s Gone

So God expelled them from the Garden of Eden and sent them to work the ground, the same dirt out of which they’d been made. He threw them out of the garden and stationed angel-cherubim and a revolving sword of fire east of it, guarding the path to the Tree-of-Life.

(Genesis 3:23-24 MSG)

Adam and Eve really didn’t know how good they had it in the Garden of Eden, until they got kicked out of it, that is. They lived in what many would consider a paradise, but they were quick to exchange it for a lie. Their disobedience barred them and future generations from enjoying Eden’s delights. Simply put, their desire for the forbidden fruit cost them everything.

“You never know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” goes the old proverb. How many things in life do we take for granted until they’re gone? The devil comes along and presents us with lies, so we would doubt God’s Word and end up in the gutter. We’re mistakenly led to believe that God is withholding something good from us so we chase after it and end up disappointed. It’s not long before we realize that as always, God only had our best interest in mind.

Learn to appreciate what you have before it’s gone.

No Ordinary Stories

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!

(Ephesians 3:20 MSG)

I love reading. I’m especially keen for books whose authors find new and appealing ways to tell their stories, stories that capture my attention and have me reading for hours. But the moment I pick up a book that has an ordinary and expected story line, I’m just as eager to put it back on the shelf.

What kind of story is your life telling? Is it an exciting and exceptional story, or a boring and ordinary one? We all have a story to tell and good readers can tell who the author of our story is. People who have the same story line as everyone else around them, are often the ones who are writing their own stories. These are the stories that, sad to say, I’m done reading. They’re just ordinary and boring. I know how they all end. But people whose stories are being written by God, now these are stories that get me excited and curious. I want to know how they end.

God is a great writer. Just read the Bible and you’ll see for yourself. Its ancient stories have been reread and retold for many generations simply because their author is God. Who isn’t curious to find out what happens to Abraham as he lays Isaac on the altar, or Daniel as he is thrown in the lion’s den? Not to mention the encouragement and inspiration we get from reading these stories. And mind you, they’re not a bunch of fairy tales, they’re real stories, written by a real God.

God would love to write your life story, so that it can do the same for others. Please give Him the pen back and let Him write a great story that everyone would want to read.

I’m an empty page/I’m an open book/Write Your story on my heart/Come on and make Your mark/Author of my hope/Maker of the stars/Let me be Your work of art/Won’t You write Your story on my heart

Francesca Battistelli, “Write Your Story”